Friday, April 10, 2009

Bloghopping, new poems

I have some poems up at Yareah, an international, bi-lingual (Spanish & English) zine new to me. Edited by Spanish writer Martin Cid, Yareah focuses on myths and legends as a way of analyzing cultural roots.

My poems are in Issue 6, downloadable in pdf format or viewable with a new, pageable format that Ouroboros Review also uses. Thanks to arts editor Isabel del Rio, who asked to reprint my poems "Quetzalcoatl" and "Earth Whale." I'm very pleased to be in this magazine.

My National Poetry Month has been way too full of tax returns. How's yours? After finishing my taxes yesterday, I hope to get back to focusing on poetry again. My daily poems are, predictably, shrinking in length, and yesterday's was a snit about the taxman, but after getting that off my chest, I hope to get more serious. Or more light.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Another day, another poem +bloghopping

Sandpiper weather ...

Continuing the giveaway of my chapbook Another Circle of Delight. Write to me: for a free copy (first person before 8 am PDT tomorrow gets it).

Doing the National Poetry Month daily poem-writing exercise for my fourth year has made me ask myself the question, "Why don't I do this all the time?" As William Stafford said, you have to write the bad poems to get to the good ones.

Ouroborous Review's a new zine with stunning visuals, a kind of quirkily page-able online format (think iron skittering around on silk), poems, interviews, art and an eclectic approach by editors Christine Swint and Jo Hemmant.

Had to happen: poetry on your cell phone. And poetry book reviews, if they're extremely short (or xtrmly shrt rvus) -- check out escarp. Tweet about it. You might even find a fogey version on Facebook.

And now I'm off to tweet a poem.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Speaking of forgetting (Beyond Forgetting, the new anthology about Alzheimer's I blogged yesterday), I just learned something extraordinary about a friend of mine. I've always known Sara is extraordinary, that she lived through the Holocaust and yet is one of the most radiant and loving people I've ever been lucky enough to know. Something about her always makes me want to get a hug, even if we only quickly pass each other.

What I didn't know, until she shyly confessed it to me, is that this adorable octogenarian was a Jewish resistance fighter in Germany during World War II. She's one of the people they made that movie Defiance about. Sara wasn't one of the Bielski partisans, she was in a similar group of fighters operating in the same area. She spent two years hiding and fighting in the forests.

The movie's debut was an event here in the San Francisco area. The filmmakers invited partisans who were still alive, including Sara and her brother and sister, to the premiere. I can only imagine what that was like for them. On the movie website, one partisan eloquently expresses why they did what they did: "If I was going to get killed, I was going to get killed as a fighter, not because I was a Jew." Interviews from the Underground is a documentary that tells more of the story of Jewish partisan resistance.

Sara wasn't content just to be part of the larger resistance. A feisty teenager, she wanted to fight, and she begged the men to let her help come along when they dynamited a Nazi train. The expedition almost cost her her life, when a wet match refused to light. That kind of courage is not an everyday thing, but it's just like Sara.

Sara has never made a big deal about her heroism. I suppose real heroes never do. She never even talked about this part of her life, though I've known her many years. But when last week she gave me a couple of articles that have appeared about her recently in Bay Area magazines, I realized that she was only just catching up with being proud of what she's done. "Suddenly I'm a celebrity," she said, wondering how such a thing could happen in her ninth decade of life. We probably all know heroes who don't admit it. Hopefully, this quality can rub off a little, even if they don't tell you their stories. I know I could use a little more of it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Beyond Forgetting

I just received my contributor's copy of Beyond Forgetting: Poems and Prose about Alzheimer's Disease, edited by Holly Hughes. I'm very happy to have two poems selected for this anthology: "Elegy for an Amputation" and "At the Easel with Alzheimer's." It's a fascinating and poignant collection on a topic that unfortunately affects many families. My father is the one in our family who has the disease. My dad, the former rocket scientist, can't remember how to work a CD player or telephone. I tell him stories about his exploits in the field of making missiles in the 19502 and 1960s and he listens eagerly, as if to a tale about someone else. But a new openness has come into our conversation, and although it's very hard to lose someone bit by bit, I am grateful for these moments with him.

From the Kent State University Press website, here's a description of the anthology:

Beyond Forgetting is a unique collection of poetry and short prose about Alzheimer’s disease written by 100 contemporary writers—doctors, nurses, social workers, hospice workers, daughters, sons, wives, and husbands—whose lives have been touched by the disease. Through the transformative power of poetry, their words enable the reader to move “beyond forgetting,” beyond the stereotypical portrayal of Alzheimer’s disease to honor and affirm the dignity of those afflicted. With a moving foreword by poet Tess Gallagher, this anthology forms a richly textured literary portrait encompassing the full range of the experience of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

He Who Hurries

I just looked up my Chinese fortune cookie prediction for the day:

He who hurries can not walk with dignity.

Apt for Sunday. Also apt for the NaPo poem-a-day challenge. If it becomes a thing on your To-Do list, you're sunk. So of course, I wrote a poem about my To-Do list, thus exorcising that particular writer's demon. As I don't plan to publish it, I'll post it here:

Books on my shelves sprout bookmarks like wagged fingers.
On every desk surface, cross-stacked folders stick out their third-cut tongues.
My passing mind fills with the unfinished

thoughts, lists
of Monday plans -- to pick, to pack, to write and resolve --
such as to quit being obsessed with lists.

Plant shadows revolve on the wall all day
while I make notes in the margins,
such as this sententious half-sentence:

Make what never has been

Like a fortune cookie penned by the pen-tied,
it sits there without a stop until tomorrow,
when it is no longer understandable.

A lilac shawl hung on the chair's back.
The dog's leash hooked on the doorknob.
Evidence of the too-finished and uninteresting thoughts

that can provide me no escape hatch from the dull,
unlike the novel I've been sixty pages into
writing for three years, promise

unfurling as predictably every spring
as soft leaves from the pear tree's nubbed twigs --
Come to think of it, add that metaphor to the list
of poems to write about things I haven't yet thought.

By the way, if you need an online To-Do list manager, check out Remember The Milk.