Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sleeping with the Dictionary by Harryette Mullen

I beg to dicker with my silver-tongued companion, whose lips are ready to read my shining gloss. A versatile partner, conversant and well-versed in the verbal art, the dictionary is not averse to the solitary habits of the curiously wide-awake reader. In the dark night’s insomnia, the book is a stimulating sedative, awakening my tired imagination to the hypnagogic trance of language. Retiring to the canopy of the bedroom, turning on the bedside light, taking the big dictionary to bed, clutching the unabridged bulk, heavy with the weight of all the meanings between these covers, smoothing the thin sheets, thick with accented syllables—all are exercises in the conscious regimen of dreamers, who toss words on their tongues while turning illuminated pages. To go through all these motions and procedures, groping in the dark for an alluring word, is the poet’s nocturnal mission. Aroused by myriad possibilities, we try out the most perverse positions in the practice of our nightly act, the penetration of the denotative body of the work. Any exit from the logic of language might be an entry in a symptomatic dictionary. The alphabetical order of this ample block of knowledge might render a dense lexicon of lucid hallucinations. Beside the bed, a pad lies open to record the meandering of migratory words. In the rapid eye movement of the poet’s night vision, this dictum can be decoded, like the secret acrostic of a lover’s name.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The 2015 Edgar Awards

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)

Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman (W.W. Norton)

The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Albani (Penguin Randomhouse – Penguin Books)

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywoodby William Mann (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)

Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe by J.W. Ocker (W.W. Norton – Countryman Press)

"What Do You Do?” – Rogues by Gillian Flynn (Penguin Randomhouse Publishing – Ballantine Books)

Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion Books – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)

The Art of Secrets by James Klise (Algonquin Young Readers)

“Episode 1” – Happy Valley, Teleplay by Sally Wainwright (Netflix)

"Getaway Girl" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine By Zoë Z. Dean (Dell Magazines)

Lois Duncan
James Ellroy

Ruth & Jon Jordan, Crimespree Magazine
Kathryn Kennison, 
Magna Cum Murder

Charles Ardai, Editor & Founder, Hard Case Crime

The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey (Minotaur Books)

For My Grandmother’s Perfume, Norell by Nickole Brown

Because your generation didn’t wear perfume
           but chose a scent—a signature—every day
                      you spritzed a powerhouse floral with top
                                 notes of lavender and mandarin, a loud
smell one part Doris Day, that girl-next-door
           who used Technicolor to find a way to laugh about
                      husbands screwing their secretaries over lunch,
                                 the rest all Faye Dunaway, all high drama
extensions of nails and lashes, your hair a
           a breezy fall of bangs, a stiletto entrance
                      that knew to walk sideways, hip first:
                                 now watch a real lady descend the stairs.

Launched in 1968, Norell
           was the 1950s tingling with the beginning
                      of Disco; Norell was a housewife tired of gospel,
                                 mopping her house to Stevie Wonder instead.

You wore so much of it, tiny pockets
           of your ghost lingered hours after you
                      were gone, and last month, I stalked
                                 a woman wearing your scent through
the grocery so long I abandoned
           my cart and went home. Fanny, tell me:
                      How can manufactured particles carry you
                                 through the air? I always express what I see,
but it was no photo that
           stopped and queased me to my knees.

After all these years, you were an invisible
           trace, and in front of a tower of soup cans
                      I was a simple animal craving the deep memory
                                 worn by a stranger oblivious of me. If I had courage,
the kind of fool I’d like to be,
           I would have pressed my face to her small
                      shoulder, and with the sheer work of
                                 two pink lungs, I would have breathed
enough to
                      you back
                                 to me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Donald and Harley and I had plans to be in Baltimore this week. Plans change. My cousin Laura​ called it "fate." 

I had plans to see some family, probably would have been able to drive across the bay to see friends on The Eastern Shore.

Am I glad we're not in Baltimore right now? Of course.

Am I sad about what's happening there? Of course.

Am I angry about it? Of course.

Do I understand why it's happening? I think I do. Although I would never presume to understand on the level of those involved.

That doesn't mean I agree with what's happening, but honestly, who didn't think that sooner or later the top wasn't going to go flying off a pot ready to explode?

I love Baltimore and always look forward to the times we're able to spend time there.

I remember, vividly, when what we're seeing there now happened in the 60s. I was a teenager living in Cambridge, a couple hours away from Baltimore, when there was rioting, looting, burning, curfews and the National Guard was living in tents put up in our school yards while these things were also happening in Baltimore. Those memories are part of what made me who I am today. I remember, and I understand. Again - do not think I'm saying I have the same level of understanding of those involved - not even close. I would never presume. Nor will I judge.

Bluebird by Charles Bukowski

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do

Monday, April 27, 2015

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone by W. H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Welcome Morning by Anne Sexton

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
dies young.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Filling Station by Elizabeth Bishop

Oh, but it is dirty!
—this little filling station,
oil-soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.
Be careful with that match!

Father wears a dirty,
oil-soaked monkey suit
that cuts him under the arms,
and several quick and saucy
and greasy sons assist him
(it’s a family filling station),
all quite thoroughly dirty.

Do they live in the station?
It has a cement porch
behind the pumps, and on it
a set of crushed and grease-
impregnated wickerwork;
on the wicker sofa
a dirty dog, quite comfy.

Some comic books provide
the only note of color—
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.

Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)

Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:
to high-strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Song by John Donne


Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear,
No where
Lives a woman true, and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet;
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

—John Donne, 1572–1631"
— Neil Gaiman (Stardust)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Now I Become Myself by May Sarton

Now I become myself. It's taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people's faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
'Hurry, you will be dead before-'
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Road Trip to Virginia

When we travel, it takes us considerably longer to reach our destination than our GPS lady, Samantha, predicts.

I venture to guess, it takes us considerably longer than most humans making the same journey.

And it's for several different reasons.

One reason is because Harley will tell us every so often that he needs to stretch those little legs of his.

Another reason is - taking pictures

We always seem to spot interesting things we can't pass by without taking a few pics.

(We happened across this abandoned coffee pot building off the expressway on the way into Lexington, VA)

And -

We also have a hard time passing up interesting places to eat

(We did eat here and the BBQ was WONDERFUL!)

(We did not eat here, but we might have if we hadn't spotted what was next door - - - )

We cannot pass up donuts 

And we, for sure, cannot pass up ice cream.

The Ice Cream Flavor of the Day at Baskin-Robbins was Crème Brûlée. Deeeeeelish!

But it's okay that our trips seem so long.  It's a chance to talk, and we laugh a lot.

For instance -

We had done a good bit of driving when it became quite clear that it was good that I had ordered new glasses before we left town, but too bad they had not come in before we left.

We went by a water tower we had not seen before and it was painted in pretty bright colors.

It took me a while to figure out what the colors represented.

Then I said to Donald. "That's pretty. But jellybeans? I don't get it."

And Donald said. "Apples."


Here's hoping my new glasses arrive soon.

We were pleased to get to our hotel and see it's attached to this wonderful old manor house (which is not open to the public, sadly).

Its name is Carradoc Hall, originally known as Oak Grove.

Also pleased to see how green and lush things are here - especially the cherry trees.

We're not that far from DC, and it looks as though the surrounding area is every bit as proud to display their blossoms as Washington is.

Harley claimed his spot as soon as we got to our room

and quickly settled in to take a nap

And we claimed our place at the hotel restaurant, Silk, Indian Cuisine, 


I didn't see Donald during the day, as he was taking classes here, 

so I did a little exploring, a little writing, a lot of reading and even got in some treadmill and stationery bike time.

I seemed to be the only person using this room - and that was okay by me.

All in all, it was a very nice trip.

Except . . .

I had a couple of off days.

I loved the idea of being able to take a hotel shuttle to a little shopping village that sounded right up my alley while Donald was off doing business stuff.  

And so, I did.

But not without problems.

First problem - the driver was new and seemed to think I really wanted to go to WalMart. 


I had a hard time convincing him WalMart was not where I wanted to go, then I had to give him directions (in a town I'd never been to).

Then when we got there, I had a hard time convincing him that yes, this is where I want to be - - - oh, wait - - we passed it. 

Yes, here. 

Here is fine. 

Oh well, passed it too.


Yo.  Stop.  Right.  Here.


Thank you.

Yes, I will call when I ready to come back - Thank you.

A couple hours later, I called.

No answer at the hotel.


Lots of tries later . . .

still no answer.

Is my cell phone not working 'cause it knows I hate it?

The lady at the Ulta Make-Up Store said she would try.

Hmmmm - no answer.


Across the street to get a much needed cup of coffee

Still no answer.

So. I ask the restaurant hostess if I can look at phone book to make sure I have the right number.

She gets curious, calls information, number is correct.

She starts calling the hotel with no better luck than I had.
"Wonder if it's burned down?" she says with humor.



I mention our dog is there, and I hope it has not burned down.

She calls me a cab, which I pay for - so much for the free shuttle.


When I walk into the hotel (not happy) and explain to the desk clerk why I'm in a cab, he, um, "doubts" my word.

Moving from not happy to the next level of not happy, I toss him the cab receipt and tell him what he owes me and return to my room.

Find out later that yes, there was a trunk line out of order, so the hotel had not received any calls for several hours and just failed to notice.

Will I ever use a free hotel shuttle again? 

well, now, there's a question I'll have to ponder.

One of the first things a person is supposed to remember about traveling is to treat everything like an adventure, roll with the punches, expect surprises.

I wish I had remembered all those things instead of worrying that the hotel might have burned down, and picturing Harley with angel wings floating off to heaven.

But all's well that ends well, right?

And the desk clerk reimbursed me for the cab fare - quite graciously.

There was, however, another day that had a few ups and downs.

I took Donald to the conference center one morning, so I could use the car to drive into one of the little historical towns not far from the hotel.  I had done a little on-line research for places close by - a lot of interesting history.  I picked out one which looked to be cute, historical and appeared to have some shops I might really enjoy. As it turned out, I only went into a few and decided the little town and I were just not meant to be.

Main Street, like a lot of small town main streets, had parking meters and I had some change, but not much.  

So I walked around for a little while looking specifically for a little place that might not mind giving me some change.  Found one, I thought, took an 8 oz. $2.85 bottle of water out of the cooler and asked the gentleman behind the counter if he would mind giving me change for a dollar.  When he asked me if I thought he looked like a bank, I returned the bottle of water to the cooler and left.

After wandering into a couple of shops where the people working there acted as though I was a bother, and one restaurant where the silverware was dirty, I got in my car and left the cute little town and do not ever intend to return.


Next stop was the outlet mall.

A very nice outlet mall.

(Nope - didn't buy anything here)

(Didn't buy anything here either, but I did check to see if my pal Earl Staggs was the person driving that school bus)

The cherry trees were in full bloom and gorgeous.

The shops were nice.

The sales associates were all, every single one, delightful.

The food court was clean and pleasant.

And I bought an adorable bag at Kate Spade.  I love Kate Spade's  fun sense of color, but couldn't afford one of her bags any place other than at an outlet.  This one was on the clearance table, and the cute sales associate made sure I had a 25% off coupon.

And that night we had dinner at Dunkin' Donuts.  

It's dinner out at places like this that reminds me why it's fun being a grown-up.

The ride back to Boone was fun - we stopped often enough to get some good pictures and enjoy how green everything is finally getting after a long, rough winter.

We stopped for gas a couple hours from home and spotted a very old, very beautiful, peaceful cemetery.

When we finally did get home it was nice to see that things were beginning to bloom here too.  The hostas are especially happy to see spring is finally arriving in these mountains.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ithaka by Constantine P. Cavafy


When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood what these Ithakas mean.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Jungfrau by Reed Farrel Coleman


we fed ourselves to the other
in careless chunks
across the chasm of night.
Pieces like wedding cake—
nervous smiles, yellow frosting on her chin,
crumbs caught in the corners of my moustache.
A photographer shouts,
“Hold it! That’s it. Perfect! Just like that. Smile.
No, big smile. Great!”
I recall
the maitre d’ counting heads like the years ahead of us.

Now we wear awkward tilted library books

wedged beneath our chins

where our hearts used to beat.

You must check for a pulse these nights

in the cast iron hum of the oil burner.

We feed our blankets to the center of the bed,

quilts uplifted like great mountain ranges—

the Andes some nights

some nights the Alps.


the cat sleeps across the Jungfrau.

That means young maiden in German.

I’m pretty sure the cat couldn't care,

looking only for heat trapped on either side of the




pieces of cake.

—Reed F. Coleman

    Sunday, April 19, 2015

    Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

    I ask them to take a poem
    and hold it up to the light 
    like a color slide

    or press an ear against its hive.

    I say drop a mouse into a poem
    and watch him probe his way out,

    or walk inside the poem's room
    and feel the walls for a light switch.

    I want them to waterski
    across the surface of a poem
    waving at the author's name on the shore.

    But all they want to do
    is tie the poem to a chair with rope
    and torture a confession out of it.

    They begin beating it with a hose
    to find out what it really means. 

    Saturday, April 18, 2015

    The Pe’a by Julie Dolcemaschio

    The worker tosses the remains

    into a vat, thoughts drift to

    the driving rain and the walk home

    The vat churns carcass, bone, skin and scale

    into a compost fit for the strays that

    line the road, while the meaty parts

    make way into cans bound for the mainland

    The fa’afafine (fah-fah fee-nay)

    wait in the shadows as the worker

    passes, bound for home, the rainsluiced divots

    along the sheer cliffs, fern covered, channel

    the Samoan deluge onto the pockmarked road

    Colorful busses pass through the village as a quiet sea

    churns unhurried, a turquoise cocoon for the pink coral

    that sleeps underneath

    On both sides of the road the trees sway, and an old

    loosened coconut drops with a hollow thud

    And the mangoes not yet yellowed and ripe

    hang hard and green above the worker’s head

    The river of water passes him with little notice

    as he climbs the steep hill to his home

    The windows, covered in worn and faded

    lavalava blow inward away from the breeze

    off the harbor

    Alone, the worker peels the day from a worn

    body, the rotten sea and blood and dried scales

    shed like old skin and, home now and dry,

    he stands before the mirror

    and remembers

    the boy who helped build a village

    the teen who cleared debris from

    the road after the hurricane in ‘03

    the young man who heard the call

    and for twelve days took to the mat

    as the tafuga tapped ink into skin

    using the bone of a boar

    the shell of a turtle, and a hammer

    The design, like angels wings

    begin at the lower back

    and end at the belly button

    The great lattice work and symmetrical lines

    crossing buttocks and rounding to the groin

    Then the brutal inking down the thighs

    Tap tap tap to below the knees,

    coloring his legs like pants he will never remove again

    The young American girl he met

    in a dark bar in those young unhurried years

    and courted the old fashioned way

    wept on their wedding night

    at first sight of his pe’a, believing

    the tatu ended at his waist

    seeing it only above his colorful lavalava

    when he went without a shirt

    Legs and buttocks covered in the ink of ages

    Still toned, still sculpted, honoring the

    pain and blood and sweat shed

    for the honor of the pe’a

    And his blond girl-bride still weeps

    at his faith and his bravery

    His pe’a a dark shadow against

    Coffee skin in darkness

    And a bright beacon in the light of day

    The young girl waits and loves

    and yearns, but she does not understand

    the way of a Samoan man, whose dreams

    did not include canned tuna and slave wages

    The son of a village chief turns to the

    smiling girl who awaits him

    Bright and nude and unsoiled in his bed

    In his best dreams he saw her, just this way

    The moon on her hair, shining on her skin

    and he believes that tomorrow will come again

    And then again with just a smile

    Only her smile