Sunday, May 17, 2015

from Two Translations of "Some Like Poetry" by Symborska

The first is translated by C. Cavanagh, the second by J. Trzeciak.  
I was reading David Lehman's, State of the Art, in which he compares these two translations.  He writes: 
So profound is the difference that the concurrent appearance of the two translations seemed itself to constitute a literary event--an ambiguous parable that could yield lessons ranging from the familiar ('"poetry is what is lost in translation'") to the paradoxical ('"poetry is mistranslation").

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


I edited this issue of MiPo and am pretty excited about it.  Check it out!

Friday, May 8, 2015

"I PANT, I SINK, I TREMBLE, I EXPIRE!" from Shelley's "Epipsychidion"

"One hope within two wills, one will beneath
Two overshadowing minds, one life, one death,
One Heaven, one Hell, one immortality,
And one annihilation. Woe is me!
The winged words on which my soul would pierce
Into the height of Love's rare Universe,
Are chains of lead around its flight of fire—
I pant, I sink, I tremble, I expire!"

from the last lines Shelley's "Epipsychidion"

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Birthday Cake and Reading at Youngstown Lit!

To read to friends and celebrate my birthday at the same time---what a perfect night!
And I usually hate birthdays!


Come on already! Stop taking photos!

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Dreariest Journey by Shelley

I never was attached to that great sect,
Whose doctrine is, that each one should select
Out of the crowd a mistress or a friend,
And all the rest, though fair and wise, commend
To cold oblivion, though it is the code
Of modern morals, and the beaten road
Which those poor slaves with weary footsteps tread,
By the broad highway of the world, and so
With one chained friend, perhaps a jealous foe,
The dreariest and the longest journey go.

Note:  I've been reading David Lehman's The State of the Art.  This poem was discussed in the chapter titled 2013 with the subtitle, "It was his poetry that kept him going."  It begins with the sentence:  "Shelley's 'Defense of Poetry' (1821) culminates in an assertion of poetry as a source not only of knowledge but of power.  

I've been thinking about that.  Poetry, a source of power. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

There is poetry in Erie, PA

Karen Schubert and I read at Poet's Hall In Erie on Friday night--a reading hosted by the amazing Cee Williams whose poetry and generosity of spirit blew us away.  Cee opened with a list poem in which each line began, There is poetry in . . .

I have been thinking about that ever since.  Today there is poetry in the blue bells, poetry in the just-planted spinach and lettuce and kale, poetry in lunch-an omelet with onions and peppers and coffee, and I know there is poetry in the nap I about to take . . .

I am a firm believer in the poetry of naps.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


“[Poetry] strips the veil of familiarity from the world, and lays bear the naked and sleeping beauty which is the spirit of its forms.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Prosody Interview!

THANK YOU Laurin Wolf for interviewing me for Prosody!  There are so many great interviews archived there.  This interview was my first chance to read from WHY GOD IS A WOMAN.  I was pretty nervous actually because the book is so different--all of the poems are part of an overall story of this world where the women rule.  So they can't be read out of order without some explaining.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Millay Comic: Pity me not because the light of day

Pity me not because the light of day
At close of day no longer walks the sky;
Pity me not for beauties passed away
From field and thicket as the year goes by;
Pity me not the waning of the moon,
Nor that the ebbing tide goes out to sea,
Nor that a man’s desire is hushed so soon,
And you no longer look with love on me.
This love I have known always: love is no more
Than the wide blossom which the wind assails,
Than the great tide that treads the shifting shore,
Strewing fresh wreckage gathered in the gales.
Pity me that the heart is slow to learn
What the swift mind beholds at every turn.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Comic of Major Jackson's poem, "Okay Cupid" from BAP 2014

The Best American Poetry Blog posted  this on their website today . . .

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Millay Comic

Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)

Edna St. Vincent Millay1892 - 1950
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain; 
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink 
And rise and sink and rise and sink again; 
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath, 
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone; 
Yet many a man is making friends with death 
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone. 
It well may be that in a difficult hour, 
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release, 
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power, 
I might be driven to sell your love for peace, 
Or trade the memory of this night for food. 
It well may be. I do not think I would.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Edna St Vincent Millay Comic, Sonnet XLIII

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, 
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain 
Under my head till morning; but the rain 
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh 
Upon the glass and listen for reply, 
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain 
For unremembered lads that not again 
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry. 
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree, 
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, 
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: 
I cannot say what loves have come and gone, 
I only know that summer sang in me 
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

WCW: The Young Housewife

At ten AM the young housewife
moves about in negligee behind
the wooden walls of her husband’s house.
I pass solitary in my car.

Then again she comes to the curb
to call the ice-man, fish-man, and stands
shy, uncorseted, tucking in
stray ends of hair, and I compare her
to a fallen leaf.

The noiseless wheels of my car
rush with a crackling sound over
dried leaves as I bow and pass smiling. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bishop Comic and Best American Poetry Blog Post: On Becoming a Prick

I chose this comic because it relates to my BAP post "On Becoming a Prick."
You can see it here:

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant 
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Monday, October 27, 2014

WCW Comic


As the rain falls 
so does 
           your love 

bathe every 
object of the world-- 

In houses 
the priceless dry 

of illicit love 
where we live 
hear the wash of the 

and fine 
woven stuffs-- 
all the whorishness 
of our 
from its window 

the spring wash 
of your love 
                      the falling 

The trees 
are become 
beasts fresh-risen 
from the sea-- 

from the crevices of 
their hides-- 

So my life is spent 
                              to keep out love 
with which 
she rains upon 

                         the world 

of spring 


so spreads 

                     the words 

far apart to let in 

                           her love 

And running in between 

the drops 

                   the rain 

is a kind physician 

                              the rain 
of her thoughts over 

the ocean 


           walking with 
invisible swift feet 

         the helpless 

Unworldly love 
that has no hope 
                            of the world 

                            and that 
cannot change the world 
to its delight-- 

           The rain 
falls upon the earth 
and grass and flowers 


into form from its 


                But love is 

                and nothing 
comes of it but love 

and falling endlessly 
          her thoughts

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Remembering David Feitler

My friend, David Feitler, died Friday night at home with his family in Shaker Heights.  Although he had cancer for many years, and I knew he would die soon, I am still having trouble processing the fact that he is gone.  He was family to us.  He and his beautiful wife, Zanna, always felt/feel more like siblings than friends.  And both have more guts, enthusiasm, and imagination than anyone I can think of off-hand.   A chemist with an MIT background, David loved science, travel, nature, the arts, books, and friends.  He composed music, played the piano, folk danced, and best of all, laughed loudly and often.  He loved participating in as well as appreciating art.  He and Zanna faithfully sat through many of my poetry readings.  One night when I was visiting, he began composing poetry.  By morning he had four poems to show me, and he said he could feel more in his mind.  He loved ballet, and in his fifties took lessons from the Cleveland Ballet.  I can't think of many other tall middle-aged men who would willingly squeeze themselves into ballet slippers and tights and try to learn how to plie.  He also loved photography and had some amazing photographs--I especially love his photographs of birds.  He loved to watch the blue herons from his dining room window.   Somehow he reminded me of a heron, tall and regal, his feet in the mud, his head high above the water--as if he were thinking about things, seeing more than I ever see.

Amy Lowell, "A Decade"

When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like the morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all, for I know your savor;
But I am completely nourished.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Caryl Pagel

Caryl Pagel came to Macs to read at the October workshop, and she was phenomenal!  She read from her book, TWICE TOLD, and she had us all riveted.  Now I keep thinking of writing poems in the manner of Caryl Pagel.  The prompt for the November workshop at Mac's is to do just that.

(Apologies to Caryl.  This drawing does not do her justice.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Next Book

I am almost finished with the galleys of my next book, WHY GOD IS A WOMAN, which should be out from BOA early next year.   I feel slightly paralyzed, afraid to celebrate  the book yet, afraid to move on to the next one.
I feel like I'm in Maine, sitting on my favorite rock, thinking about whether or not I want to get into that cold water again.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sonnet 44

If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then despite of space I would be brought, 
From limits far remote, where thou dost stay. 
No matter then although my foot did stand 
Upon the farthest earth removed from thee; 
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land 
As soon as think the place where he would be. 
But ah! thought kills me that I am not thought, 
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone, 
But that, so much of earth and water wrought,
I must attend time's leisure with my moan, 
   Receiving nought by elements so slow
   But heavy tears, badges of either's woe.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Emily Dickinson Comic, The Riddle we can guess (1222)

The Riddle we can guess 
We speedily despise - 
Not anything is stale so long 
As Yesterday's surprise -

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Emily Dickinson Comic: My life closed twice before its close, 1732

My life closed twice before its close --
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Emily Dickinson Comic-1554

Go tell it" -- What a Message --
To whom -- is specified --
Not murmur -- not endearment --
But simply -- we -- obeyed --
Obeyed -- a Lure -- a Longing?
Oh Nature -- none of this --
To Law -- said sweet Thermopylae
I give my dying Kiss --

Monday, June 9, 2014

After William Blake

The Divine Image
by William Blake

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

All pray in their distress;

And to these virtues of delight

Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

Is God, our father dear,

And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,

Pity a human face,

And Love, the human form divine,

And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,

That prays in his distress,

Prays to the human form divine,

Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,

In heathen, Turk, or Jew;

Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell

There God is dwelling too.

How Could I pick?

There’s Mary, Patty, Reese, and Laura,
All pretty in their dresses.
And to their virtues of delight
I give my thankfulness.

For Mary, Patty, Reese and Laura
Are all my goddesses.
For Mary, Patty, Reese and Laura
Make of me a Man, a child, a cad . . .

For Mary has the kindest heart,
Pat, the prettiest face,
And Laura, my Love, has a form divine,
And Reese—the prettiest ass . . .

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Emily Dickinson Comic

This one is silly, I know.  But I have often thought of Emily Dickinson as some kind of other-worldy being. My sister gave me this amazing and beautiful book of her writings--as they were written, on envelopes in illegible, magical script--which has me more convinced of her peculiar genius.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Emily Dickinson Comic (1222)

The Riddle we can guess
We speedily despise--
Not anything is stale so long
As Yesterday's surprise---

Friday, May 9, 2014

Emily Dickinson Comic

Fame is a bee

Fame is a bee.
It has a song--
It has a sting--
Ah, too, it has a wing.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Queen

The Pig

by Anonymous
It was the first of May
A lovely warm spring day
I was strolling down the street in drunken pride,
But my knees were all a-flutter,
And I landed in the gutter
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.

Yes, I lay there in the gutter
Thinking thoughts I could not utter
When a lady passing by did softly say
'You can tell a man who boozes
By the company he chooses' — And the pig got up and slowly walked away.

"The Pig" by Anonymous. Public domain.

from Writers Almanac.

On this day, when I was young, girls danced around the maypole at school.  One year, my high school-aged sister was crowned the May Queen.  I, 6 years younger, was so jealous.  Some day, I thought, I will go to St. Ann's and be the queen of May, too. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

See Jane Run

         I go to the hotel gym--a stuffy room that smells of moldy socks and Pine Sol--and this father comes in with his daughter--he's wearing a gray sweat suit and giant white tennis shoes, and his daughter is tiny, maybe twelve, all bones, with long braids and a yellow Nike outfit--yellow down to the shoes. The father guides her over to the treadmill and programs the machine for her.  "You'll be running three miles at six minute pace, okay Jane?" Obediently the girl gets on the machine and starts to run--bang, bang, bang.  I swear she sounds like an elephant.  Then she starts adjusting the machine.  "Don't slow it down!" the father shouts.  The girl continues without looking at him: bang, bang, bang. "Jane! Did you slow the treadmill down?"  Bang, bang, bang, bang.  The noise is deafening.  This goes on for a while: the father shouting, the girl banging.  Suddenly the girl stops and turns off the machine.  "You aren't finished?" the father asks, placing his hands on his hips.
          "I don't feel good," the girls says, looking down at her yellow shoes.
          "Okay," the father sighs, shaking his head with disgust. After she leaves, he turns to me.  "My girl has real talent.  Did you see her run?"
            "I heard her," I say. "And you." He laughs.
            "All I need is a motivator.  Any suggestions?"
             "I don't know . . .  a whistle?"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Space Weather

I'm at a coffee shop in Arlington, Virginia, listening to a group of scientists in dark suits argue about the risky nature of space weather events.  How do we convince them that our research is worth funding?  one of the men asks.

We could tell them how solar storms and sunspot activity could shut down Wall Street, cause wide-spread power outages and cost the government trillions, a woman answers with a slight laugh.  She seems delighted by the prospect.  But until that happens, she adds,  they won't hear us.  Kind of like that asteroid in Russia--no one believed it would happen until it did. 

I like the Wall Street shutdown, a man agrees with her.  They both laugh and briefly remark on their colleagues on Wall Street.  The prospect of an asteroid or weather event taking them out doesn't sound too bad.

Another man describes the risks to satellites, solar panels, GPS, the military, space stations and more.  They all seem eager to find the right language to warn the government about the potential problems ahead.

As they rise to leave, a woman seated nearby comments, At least it's not like climate change.  They don't have Exxon or the Koch boys funding anyone who would try to discredit their research. 

Monday, April 21, 2014


It's Easter morning in Virginia, and the sun is shining and the sky is that aqua blue, so perfect you feel like it's singing to you, and out on the streets folks are all gussied up for church.  Except us, that is--we're dressed in our usual jeans and sweats, ready to drive out the woods and the beautiful blue hills around the town-- our idea of church . . .  But even on the main roads I keep staring at the people walking by,  all gussied-up in suits and dresses.  One woman teeters along the road in white high heels, looking as if she can barely walk. She is wearing a purple dress and a purple hat with something like a wimple around her neck--and holding onto it as best she can while the wind whips away at it.  The scene brings back memories of all those itchy Easter dresses we used to wear-- with puffy sleeves and crinoline along with those hats with colored ribbons and white gloves with  pearls (not that they ever stayed white for long).  And the church women, like powdered Easter eggs, who stood on the front steps of the church, gabbing and gushing and happy Eastering.  And my father who would push us past them and hurry us up to the church balcony so we could witness what he called "all the falderal." Once the service began, he'd belt out a few hymns, say a few prayers, and then hurry us downstairs and out into the sun before "all the bellyaching about God begins."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

At the Y

Every day, week after week, the same swimmers swim.  First there's the born-again who looks like Golem, who tries to tell everyone about his latest Jesus sighting before they dive in.  Then there's Noodle Lady. Noodle Lady swims backwards up and down the lanes while holding a noodle and wearing a white hat.  And there's Snorkel Man--he swims in an entire diving get-up.  It takes him as long to put on his gear as it does to swim. He paddles slowly up and down the lanes staring at the bottom of the pool, occasionally pointing out Band-Aids and hair clips to the life guards. And then there's always Nick who can't share his lane. He must be at least fifty, but he still doesn't know how to share.  Anyone tries, he lets them know. Everyone else squeezes into their lanes while Nick happily swims in a lane all to himself for two hours or more ---that is, unless the elderly deaf lady comes in her flowered suit.  She doesn't know what Nick says to her or why he gets out of the water and glares while she floats in slow circles, looking like the happiest swimmer in the pool.  Of course everyone gets out if there's a code brown . . .