Poem Therapy at 12:16 A.M. - Alberto Rios

The Cities Inside Us
Alberto RĂ­os

We live in secret cities
And we travel unmapped roads.

We speak words between us that we recognize
But which cannot be looked up.

They are our words.
They come from very far inside our mouths.

You and I, we are the secret citizens of the city
Inside us, and inside us

There go all the cars we have driven
And seen, there are all the people

We know and have known, there
Are all the places that are

But which used to be as well. This is where
They went. They did not disappear.

We each take a piece
Through the eye and through the ear.

It's loud inside us, in there, and when we speak
In the outside world

We have to hope that some of that sound
Does not come out, that an arm

Not reach out
In place of the tongue.

I can't sleep. Due to a recent hand injury, I can't type well or quickly, either, but that is a story for another day. Think: Christmas Eve, It's a Wonderful Life, copious tears, serious anger, a steak knife, a bell pepper, a four hour E.R. visit. You fill in the blanks.

You should know sleep is my friend and that I'm not prone to sleepless nights or insomnia, regardless of the problem presenting itself. You should also know I am prone to horribilizing, or catastrophzing. Think: take a situation or problem, any situation or problem, and I'll take it out to the netherworlds of the universe, (or perhaps the secret cities inside),for a good spin, bring it back to planet Earth, send it out for at least one more spin to see if I can outdo myself, then tuck it away and go searching for historical or mythological references. I go through at through at least ten cycles of examining the issue under a poweful microscope until I'm satisfied with possible outcomes. Yes, I know I don't control variables or outcomes, but it's good for a gal to be prepared! Sounds like a slow process, and sometimes it is, but usually I reach my conclusions very quickly. When the towers came down, the first thing I thought was, "My god! the Goths and Visigoths!" In that moment the only thing my mind could compute was that we were the Roman Empire and the barbarians had us. Then I got myself together, went down my checklist of every person I knew who could have been in those buildings and began calling. Then I got on The Onion and tried to smile. I did. I'll never forget the HFS bullseye, or the interviews from Hell with the perps.

Okay, back to not sleeping. It's now 12:43 (I told you it's hard to type!)I tried everything my weary insomniac friends swear works for them (see, I really do listen to everything). Not working. I'm feeling a little guilty keeping my puppy up so I'm going to have to sign off soon (he's under my chair kicking restlessly).

To the point: my father has cancer. We won't know until early next week if it's bad or if it has spread. I haven't allowed myself to catastrophize until today. I finally turned to Oracle, (the ancient kind). Here's the thing with Oracle, yes it used to explain things that science now explicates bloodlessly, and yes, it is relagated to the realm of kooky crackerjacks, but think about it, almost every religion has one form or another of Oracle that relies on some otherwordly power. If Julius Ceasar had listened to Oracle, he wouldn't have gone to the Senate. Maybe not the best example.

So, I asked and shuffled and this is what I got:
I. 2 Cups
II. King Staves
III. Ace Swords
IV. XIV Balance Yemana
V. 5 Staves
VI. Queen Cups
VII. 9 Swords
VIII. Queen Swords
XI. 6 Cups
X. XVIII The Star Inanna

I have no idea what the Oracle means, but the scary card didn't show up, so I'm going with the prognostications of the ether that his cancer hasn't spread. It's 1:03 and I'm finally tired. I'll edit later in the afternoon. Morning ya'll!

Cooking the Blues Away: Day Four

Just so you know, I have been cooking a lot, just not blogging about it. So far the cooking and poetry therapy really aren't working so well, so I'm going to try potato therapy, (this fabulous idea is inspired by the book title Potatoes Not Prozac). Maybe I should just make my own Mr. Potato Head figures and forget about it. Could be fun. I mean, winter doldroms really can't be that oppressive when there's a troupe of potatoes on the kitchen counter dressed for every occasion: hoedown to cocktail party.

Speaking of potatoes, I made a pretty spectacular fritatta/quiche sauteed vegetable pie which I adapted from a Moosewood Cookbook recipe. I'll post that recipe another day. btw, if you haven't ever heard of this cookbook, don't google, get in the car right now and head to the bookstore for an hour of thumbing through Mollie Katzen's no-frills, handwritten recipe book that is certain to stir your senses.

It's the season of family celebrations, and that always means an abundance of sweet treats. A friend brought this treat as a gift the other weekend, and I couldn't stop eating it, so she gave me the recipe. For lack of a better name, I'm calling it salty sweet crunch treat.

Salty Sweet Crunch
6 cups Captain Crunch
2 cups small pretzels
2 cups roasted almonds
1 pkg CandyQuik (vanilla or chocolate)
note: I've only found CandyQuik in Target stores
1 large cookie sheet
wax paper

In a large bowl, mix Captain Crunch, pretzels, almonds.
Microwave CandyQuik for one minute.
Stir melted CandyQuik over mix until mix is saturated.
Spoon mixture onto wax paper-covered cookie sheet.
Put in refrigerator until cool, (or if you live in a freezing climate like mine, outside for a nano second will do the trick).
Break mixture into sections.

Poem Therapy at 1:21 P.M - Michael Dumanis

Joseph Cornell, with Box
Michael Dumanis

World harbors much I'd like to fit inside
that the parameters preclude me from.

I'm the desire to have had a say.
I'm the desire to be left alone

amid brochures for Europe's best hotels
behind a locked door on Utopia Parkway,

where Brother, crippled, rides his chariot,
where Mother's all dressed up and going nowhere.

Together, sotto voce, we count hours,
fuss over newsprint, water down the wine.

When I was shorter, we were all divine.
When I was shorter, I was infinite

and felt less fear of being understood.
I am the fear of being understood.

I am the modest Joe who hems and haws
at blond cashiers ensconced in ticket booths.

Lacking the words to offer her the flowers
I'd spent a fortnight locating the words

to offer her, I threw the flowers at her.
As penance, I entrenched you, Doll, in wood.

Through your shaved bark and twigs, you stared at me.
Being a woman was out of the question.

Being a question caused women to wonder.
How unrestrained you must feel, Wind and Water.

You are the obligation, Box, to harbor
each disarray and ghost. I am the author,

the authored by. I am a plaything of.
Who makes who Spectacle. Who gives whom Order.

My father was a man who lived and died.
He would commute from Nyack to New York.

The woolen business had its ups and downs.
How unrestrained you've become, Cage and Coffin.

There is an order to each spectacle.
You are the obligation, Wind, to sunder

this relic of. Am reliquary for
the off-white light of January morning.

Have seen you, Fairies, in your apricot
and chestnut negligees invade the mirror,

tiptoe on marbles, vanish from the scene.
Am reliquary for what World has seen.

I'm the ballet of wingspan, the cracked mirror.
Canary's coffin. Sunshine breaking through.

Boxing is the working title of the new work I'm creating. Joseph Cornell is one of my favorite artists. He took detritus and made art. If you're unfamiliar with his work, prepare to unwrap a box of delicious eye candy. You may be inspired to learn more or even to make your own box.

Voodoo Collage: Two

voodoo collage section 2009

voodoo collage 2009

I started this collage out of desperation. I just can't get a concrete idea of what I want to do for my annual Christmas card. Okay, I'm lying, but the images I'm entertaining are from the dark side of my imagination and therefore, far more appropriate for Halloween. The closest I can come to Christmas-themed inspiration, is Dicken's ghosts, (with a twist).

I always leave my cards for the last minute, but generally have something interesting bubbling on the back burner. Not this time. I'm almost of a mind to just buy a box of cards and send them out.

I usually create a painting or collage and include write a flash fiction piece. Last year I painted caricatures of the entire family.

I think I may have found inspiration in what Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about a dream, so I'm going to play around with "eating the world", perhaps using an erasure process in which you take a page of prose and cross out phrases and paragraphs, leaving specific words to communicate meaning.

For an example of Erasure Poetry check out Travis Macdonald and JenMarie Davis of Fact-Simile Editions', The O Mission Repo, which uses the the 9/11 Commission Report text for erasure purposes.

Why not try it for yourself?

Erasure Exercise
Instructions: Run a pen or marker over any of the words or punctuation from the Poets & Writers text below and see what kind of prose or poem emerges.

Poets have long known that there is as much power in words that are missing as in those that rest on the page. Anne Carson provided a brilliant example of this in If Not, Winter, her 2002 translation of the work of the ancient Greek poet Sappho. Of the nine books of lyric poetry that Sappho wrote—on papyrus rolls—only one poem has survived intact; the rest are fragments. To indicate where words are missing or, in some cases, are illegible, Carson included brackets, so that one of the fragments begins "]heart / ]absolutely / ]I can" while another is a single word trapped in, as John D'Agata put it in an essay in the Boston Review, "a blizzard of brackets." The haunting fragments bring to mind the best erasure poetry, in which the poet alters an existing text by striking or erasing words. Fact-Simile Editions, an independent press in Denver, recently published a unique example of this form of found poetry. While The 9/11 Commission Report is an important and compelling text in its own right (indeed, when it was published in 2004 the report soared to the top of several best-seller lists and was named a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award in nonfiction), its riveting account is nevertheless crowded by the mountain of information that the commission was obligated to document. Travis Macdonald, a graduate of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University and a coeditor, with JenMarie Davis, of Fact-Simile Editions, used the text for an erasure titled The O Mission Repo that is a moving commentary on what Davis calls the "shifting fields of language that have arisen in the post-9/11 world." For instance, the second page of the preface, or "reface," as Macdonald has modified it, reads: "Our aim has been to / redress / Its / lexicon / adjust the / lines within / between and / across / loss / and / balance / event / against / the instruments of / change / over every page" with heavy black lines obliterating every word of text save those that remain. In another section, "The Found Error," taken from the original chapter titled "The Foundation of the New Terrorism," the preserved words seem to float down the pages as if in clouds, the missing words literally erased from the text. Macdonald lived in Brooklyn, New York, at the time of the terrorist attacks, and Davis says he performed the erasure "with the alternating tenderness and rage of one who has experienced the uncertainties of this changed world firsthand." The press also publishes a biannual poetry magazine of the same name that is always open to submissions of "work that pushes the envelope of polite society and has little to no regard for the arbitrary margins of genre." Those interested in more erasure poetry might want to check out the Erasures section of the Wave Books Web site, where users can create their own virtual erasures using texts by Henry James and others. Of course, the great thing about erasures is that a poet can use any source text—even this one. Go ahead: Print this page out and run a pen or marker over any of the words or punctuation to see what kind of poem emerges. Send it to us (90 Broad Street, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10004) and we'll post it online.
Hol Art Books, a fledgling independent in Tucson, Arizona, dedicated to the publication of writing on visual art, is developing a collaborative publishing model worth noting. Anyone can submit a complete manuscript, a rough draft, or a proposal and sample chapter of a book; the press will post it on the Web site. There readers can review it and, if moved to do so, apply to join a "project team." All such teams include a project manager, author, editor, publicist, graphic designer, and bookstore sponsor. Once a team is assembled, the members collaborate online to develop the book. If a given book then passes a review process by other project teams, Hol will print it, market it, and get it on bookstore shelves. Everyone involved receives a percentage of sales. Publisher Greg Albers says several teams have been assembled and the press's first books will be published in the fall. "Though our particular focus is writing about visual art," he adds, "I hope the model we're developing will prove a viable new approach to publishing in all areas."

Kevin Larimer is the deputy editor of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Poem Therapy at 2:42 P.M. - Piotr Sommer

Piotr Sommer

Nothing will be the same as it was,
even enjoying the same things
won’t be the same. Our sorrows
will differ one from the other and we
will differ one from the other in our worries.

And nothing will be the same as it was,
nothing at all. Simple thoughts will sound
different, newer, since they’ll be more simply, more newly
spoken. The heart will know how to open up and love
won’t be love anymore. Everything will change.

Nothing will be the same as it was
and that too will be new somehow, since after all,
before, things could be similar: morning,
the rest of the day, evening and night, but not now.

Some days are like that. This is one of them. The trouble with writing in a blog rather than a diary, is that it's not a good idea to get medieval and let it rip entirely. It's better to be a little cryptic, because there's an off-chance somebody is actually reading.

I'm going to cranial sacral on Monday and I know she's going to get after me. And she should. I just can't make this decision. This decision that I've been worrying like a loose tooth for over a year now. What is the decision? Like I'd tell. You'll have to pilfer my journal for that information. The majority of the decisions I make are of a split-second nature. But the really gnarly decisions that need that kind of incisive steel, are the very decisions that take the longest.

My decision making process when confronted with a serious problem: 1)shock mode - Oh shit! 2)catastrophe mode - The Apocalypse is T-minus ten minutes and counting, prepare to die! 3) battle mode - General Danna here, prepare to lay siege! 4) rational mode - Okay, I'm going to calm down and take a long, hot bath and think about this. 5)intellectual mode - I will read everything man has put to paper on the subject, then google, dogpile, yahoo, and bing. 5)Popeye mode - I'm gonna' get cha, and get cha, and get cha again! 6)multiple point-of-view mode - if twenty-five women from twenty-five different backgrounds were presented with this problem, what would they do and why? 7)kick ass mode - We need to talk! 8) Change of mind mode - Um, we'll talk later, okay? 9)mystical mode - It's really been a long time since I've been to the psychic. 10)ouroboros mode - Back to the beginning for another cycle.

This cycle has been one year three months and eleven days. Plenty of time to nail it down. I'm off to tarot.com to ask the question again.

Portrait of the Family Sans Dogs

baby girl

three amigos

the 'rents

I'm playing around with Photoshop trying to work out ideas for our annual holiday card. Last year I painted caricatures. I think I'm going to make a poster image this year. For now, here are a few rough draft images.

Poem Therapy at 1:25 P.M. - Peter Covino

Cut Off the Ears of Winter
Peter Covino

Cut off the ears of winter
they have overheard too much,
where incinerators burn,
where rubble-strewn streets
are covered in dust from the remodeling.
Again, the doe-man in mauve cashmere—
the nerve of him—in the never world
(where ashes are harvested) where
ashes rain down in glory, a jackpot
of answers. Tonight, the underwriting
of desire is an inky carbon copy.
I have already—that last time drunk
on scotch. Then all morning
a chain gang of transvestite prostitutes
litters the front yard—the Police Station
next door also on fire, burning,
burning handcuffs, the soles of shoes
not holding the earth, cars skidding
everywhere, the tire’s frame sets sparks
along the road. This is my last dollar,
last cigarette, last match.

I concur, most whole-heartedly!

Poem Therapy at 10:41 P.M. - Margaret Atwood

Variation on the Word Sleep
Margaret Atwood

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

This poem is appropriate for the late hour. Late, primarily because tomorrow is a long work day. You might be interested to know that the Beatles's Eleanor Rigby was the background music playing in my head while I read this poem (read it again and I bet you hear it too). The lyric all the lonely people just slays me every time I hear this song.

The lines, and walk with you through that lucent/wavering forest of bluegreen leaves/with its watery sun & three moons/ the cave where you must descend,/towards your worst fear cause a small tremor behind my eyes. I know this cave. We all know this cave. It would be so much easier if we could take a companion or a guide, but entering the cave is a solitary experience. Necessary, but not fun.

Margaret Atwood is one of the most brilliant writers of the century. It's hard to categorize her or her writing. She's fearless, and mischievously funny, a surprising combination. She's tackled every difficult subject under our big hydrogen ball. I went to hear her read a few years ago when she was in Salt Lake City and was shocked when she walked onto the stage. She was blonde. She's always been brunette. Of course she addressed her hair color first thing. Her blondeness was not a 3/4 life crisis attempt at reclaiming youth, or research to see if blondes really do have more fun, (I was blonde for exactly five days and I'll tell you blondes get harassed a lot by men from every walk of life, more than brunettes, and if that's fun, have at it). Her blondeness was merely a transition to gray hair.

I have a few strands of gray right in the middle of my side-part. I used to pull them out, despite the superstition that more will grow. Now I call them my Bride of Frankenstein.

Poem Therapy at 1:45 P.M. - Jane Hirshfield

Waking the Morning Dreamless After Long Sleep
Jane Hirshfield

But with the sentence: "Use your failures for paper." Meaning, I understood, the backs of failed poems, but also my life. Whose far side I begin now to enter— A book imprinted without seeming season, each blank day bearing on its reverse, in random order, the mad-set type of another. December 12, 1960. April 4, 1981. 13th of August, 1974— Certain words bleed through to the unwritten pages. To call this memory offers no solace. "Even in sleep, the heavy millstones turning." I do not know where the words come from, what the millstones, where the turning may lead. I, a woman forty-five, beginning to gray at the temples, putting pages of ruined paper into a basket, pulling them out again.

I woke this morning from a seamless dream intending to write it down, only for all but one scene to vanish. The scene was of my youngest sister sitting alone in the dark, at my dining room table, surreptitiously eating a fancy cake, with a huge smile tinged with just the faintest hint of little guilt. If people, events, signs and symbols of dreams all refer to the dreamer, just what am I keeping all to myself? what is hidden in the half light? Any why cake?

The other night I dreamed of knocking down a butter-colored woolly charging bull. Twice. First by kicking it in the head, the second time by hitting it across its head with a stick. It was after my puppy and I was protecting him. No interpretation necessary. I know exactly what my dreaming mind was presenting there. Totally about last week at work. But what of the dreams where I woke with the question, What is Scientology?, or the woman taking a train from Texas to Tibet? or the words "bindi" and "lindi" written on a board for further instruction?, or Helena Bohham Carter offering her seduction tips in which she just utters the saddest word, "gossip", to make men fall at her feet?

Snow has arrived and so has my little black cloud. And with it my restlessness, and litany of all that I haven't yet accomplished and the entire host of nonproductive self-flagellating interlopers. Actually, my irritating guests arrived yesterday, so no surprise I was drawn to pick up Dalton Conley's The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why.

Disclosure: Before I go any further, being drawn to this subject is totally about me, (and truthfully, it's the Danna Show 24/7. If you're honest, it's the same for you - it can't be helped since we see the world only through our own eyes). This is not about my parents, siblings, spouse (current or ex), relatives, ancestors, pets, livestock, or houseplants! It's about gathering new stones to put in my aquarium (I stole that analogy from poet Billy Collins, btw).

I'm my father's firstborn, my mother's fourth born, and the exact middle of the family. I think you make your own luck, and you have the freedom to choose the road you'll traverse in this life. You should know I've come to these conclusions in hindsight, of course, since pretty much all of my choices, even the ones I thought were conscious, well were hardly in my best self-interest. Great material to mine for writing, yes. My unconscious self has held the map these last four decades and has been at work deciding which road I'd head down, the direction, the switchbacks, u-turns and dead ends. I believe I have wrested the map away from that other self, and you know, better late than never. But, back to Conley's book: you'll be relieved to know that birth order really has nothing to do with how you fare in life, it's the number of siblings, family culture and dynamics, economics, outside mentors, and luck that are the determiners.

So why this poem? As always with my poem therapy routine, I click on poets.org, choose poem, choose a letter, then click on a poem title that speaks to me. Today I chose w, and found Hirschfield's poem, which may be coincidence, but failure & failed have been the hamster which has been running my wheel long into the night lately. No, this isn't about woe is I, it's about, my god, life is short and what is the problem with finishing the novel? and what is with all these roadblocks and diversions? and why are you listening to any other voice than my own? Until I figure out what my deal is, I'll do what Hemingway suggested in A Moveable Feast, All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know..

What I Made Today: Po' Man's Copper Foil

Po' Man's copper foil pendant necklace

So far, this is my favorite of the necklaces. In my last What I Made Today blog entry, I posted just the pendants. Over the last few days I've been oxidizing silver-plated chain and making gemstone bangles, both of which I attached to the pendant.

I've included a number of my Po'Man's necklaces (and sterling silver & gemstone earrings and necklaces), at the Salt Lake City Art Council's Annual Holiday Craft Exhibit & Sale . The Exhibit opens tonight and runs December 4 to December 20 from 1:00 - 7:00. The show features the work of local artists and craftsmen and you can expect to find something for everyone at reasonable prices: everything from original paintings and sculpture, decorative and functional ceramics, jewelry, tie-dyed clothing, hand-knitted hats, silk scarves, brilliant stainglass stars, to hand-lathed pens, seriously groovy children's toys, artist's journals, and an eclectic assortment of Christmas ornaments and cards.

One year I got my daughter a owl hand puppet. I think I loved it much more than she did. I always end up finding at least one fantastic piece of art to add to my collection.

The opening is tonight, and it's something of a madhouse, but the fun kind, with cheerful art-loving people snatching up gifts for friends, family, and themselves.

How to Write a Paradelle Poem

I went to hear Billy Collins read at the Salt Lake Public Library when he was the poet laureate. It was a standing room only event, and I was lucky to get in the auditorium, especially since I didn't have a ticket. He was charming and hilarious,and the audience loved him.

If you google paradelle, you'll find that one description is that it is a type of noodle. Thanks for the laugh, Mr. Collins.

A paradelle is a modern poetic form which was invented by United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins as a parody of the villanelle.

Collins claimed that the paradelle was invented in eleventh century France, but he actually invented it himself to parody strict forms, particularly the villanelle. His sample paradelle, "Paradelle for Susan" (c1997), was intentionally terrible, completing the final stanza with the line "Darken the mountain, time and find was my into it was with to to".

1. Insert tongue in cheek and read Collin's note and instructions on the paradelle form: The paradelle is (in Collins' own note) "one of the more demanding French fixed forms, first appearing in the langue d'oc love poetry of the eleventh century.
a. It is a poem of four six-line stanzas...
b. ...in which the first and second lines, as well as the third and fourth lines of the first three stanzas, must be identical.
c. The fifth and sixth lines, which traditionally resolve these stanzas, must use all the words from the preceding lines and only those words.
d. Similarly, the final stanza must use every word from all the preceding stanzas and only those words."
2. Choose a photograph as insipiration for your poem.
3. Follow Collin's instructions & write an original paradelle.

Paradelle for Susan
Billy Collins

I remember the quick, nervous bird of your love.
I remember the quick, nervous bird of your love.
Always perched on the thinnest, highest branch.
Always perched on the thinnest, highest branch.
Thinnest love, remember the quick branch.
Always nervous, I perched on your highest bird the.

It is time for me to cross the mountain.
It is time for me to cross the mountain.
And find another shore to darken with my pain.
And find another shore to darken with my pain.
Another pain for me to darken the mountain.
And find the time, cross my shore, to with it is to.

The weather warm, the handwriting familiar.
The weather warm, the handwriting familiar.
Your letter flies from my hand into the waters below.
Your letter flies from my hand into the waters below.
The familiar waters below my warm hand.
Into handwriting your weather flies you letter the from the.

I always cross the highest letter, the thinnest bird.
Below the waters of my warm familiar pain,
Another hand to remember your handwriting.
The weather perched for me on the shore.
Quick, your nervous branch flew from love.
Darken the mountain, time and find was my into it was with to to.

House Is A Memory
Lauren lies curled like a comma in the shadow of our house,
Lauren lies curled like a comma in the shadow of our house.
Her child's body punctuating memory,
her child's body punctuating memory.
Of punctuating: In our shadow house, a child's memory.
Her body like curled lies. Lauren, the comma.

Parallel universe is house and shadow,
parallel universe is house and shadow.
Scratched into damp earth, a jagged door, sightless windows, and fence,
scratched into damp earth, a jagged door, sightless windows, and fence.
House is sightless shadow, door into a damp and scratched universe,
jagged windows and fence parallel earth.

Brady rests on the periphery of light, like a pharaoh in repose,
Brady rests on the periphery of light, like a pharaoh in repose.
Childhood and memory disappearing into the shadows with the setting sun,
Childhood and memory disappearing into the shadows with the setting sun.
Disappearing like a childhood memory into the shadow's periphery,
setting, with the on-sun, and in repose, Brady, the pharaoh of light, rests.

The shadow rests. House is a memory curled and disappearing
like shadows with our comma childhood punctuating the periphery.
Shadow lies in a body of scratched light and into Brady
and Lauren into parallel universe, her child's memory
the jagged sun setting on sightless earth,
and the house of fence, door, and windows
like a damp pharaoh in repose.

My paradelle was inspired by Abelardo Morell's photo Laura and Brady in the Shadow of Our House, 1994 from DoubleTake Summer 1999

Poem Therapy at 9:22 A.M. - Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.

"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets, and this poem, along with Wild Geese are poems that I return to in flush and fallow times.

Poem Therapy at 10:02 A.M. - Anne Porter

Winter Twilight
Anne Porter

On a clear winter's evening
The crescent moon

And the round squirrels' nest
In the bare oak

Are equal planets.

The full moon was visible in the early morning sky for a few hours from my office window this morning. Much earlier, the light from the moon illuminated the darkness of my bedroom. December's first moon heralds the coming snow.

When my daughter was small and still in her car seat, I remember we were driving by the local mall, and for whatever reason, I was in the back seat with her. She had cupped her hand and said, "Look Mommy, I'm holding the moon", and it looked as if she was balancing the moon in the palm of her hand.

There are two full moons in December. According to The Farmer's Almanac, the first full moon is called Full Cold Moon, (also know as Long Night's Moon by some Native American tribes. The second full moon is called a Blue Moon.

What I Made Today

front images of Poor Man's pendants

back images of Poor Man's pendants

I've been having a great time making Poor Man's pendants and oxidizing sterling silver chains and findings for necklaces this week. The images I've posted are pendant examples of what I'm calling my Poor Man's copper foil jewelry. They are in the beginning stage of assemblage; the gemstones and oxidized components have yet to be added.

I've made soldered copper foil jewelry for years, but I've been searching for materials that are more in keeping with my collage and mixed-media sensibilities. I finally found material that is lighter than beveled or slide glass. Also, after numerous attempts, I've figured out a process that is less labor intensive than soldering copper foil onto sandwiched glass, (the image is secured inside the glass and sealed with the copper foil, thus "sandwiched". The materials and process I've came up with is a brilliant alternative to copper foil, (if you think I'm getting uppity, just imagine I said "brilliant alternative" in Elmer Fudd's voice, and you'll feel much better).

I'll post a How To make Poor Man's Copper Foil Jewelry another day.

Isabel Allende in the City of Salt

Isabel Allende is in Salt Lake City today for a lecture, "In the Hearts of Women". A panel discussion and screenings of films adaptations of her books are slated for tomorrow, (check the link for details).

I think of Allende's writing as my gateway drug to magical realism. My introduction to Allende's work was Stories of Eva Luna which I read in my early twenties. My favorite book in her ouevre is The House of Spirits which I think is her strongest work, ushered in the allure of magical realism. Although she is a formidable literary and politcal voice, I think her early writing is more powerful.

How to Write a Poem about Piranhas

A friend sent Montesonti's poem years ago with the challenge to write a poem based on the subject matter, piranha. I wrote my version in a few minutes, but revisit it at least once a year to make changes. I write fiction, but read and write poetry because I love it, but also to work on language and imagery.

If you'd like to give the piranha poem exercise a try, I've included directions, Montesonti's poem, and my piranha poem.

Piranha Exercise

1. brainstorm piranha facts, common knowledge info, images, etc.
2. focus on an emotion and list all the associations it evokes; explore all aspects of the emotion
3. focus on a person you know well and write a list of attributes that describe this person; explore all aspects of the person
4. begin writing about piranhas, (remeber to hold the emotion and person in your mind) yet realize what you’re really exploring and writing about is the person for which you listed attributes

Frank Montesonti

I try to tell my students to use images
like, say, a piranha eating an apple
or a piranha flying through the air
and biting a woman's jugular.
Maybe you cold say that when the blood
sprays from the woman's neck it looks like, hmm,
a red Chinese fan.

When I'm asked what a poem should be like
I say simply state the fact that a full-sized cow can walk into a river
and a school of piranha can devour it in two minutes.
They work their way in the belly and eat out the soft organs,
then you see the skin and head dance on top of the water.

Frank, do all our poems have to be about piranhas?
One of my students asks, the piranha,
such a biting question, ahh, and yes her flesh is tender...

No, no, not if you don't want them to be about piranhas,
I tell her, of course I really don't see the point of not writing about piranhas
that moment when the water starts to break and pop

before the frenzied eating.


there is one who sits in the back
braced against the brick wall
the hard animal of his body
an ode to a time
when man killed what he ate

he shifts in his seat
runs a hand through dark hair
words are dark fish swimming inside him
scaling the water's spume with rigid dorsals

a fin unfurls inside him,
razor-teethed words hoover
the mute chambers of his heart
until the taut fish of his body breaks surface
teeth bared and gleaming like pearls