13 Apr 2012

Sweet Breeze.

Written by sally @ 3:36 pm — Section: sally

I Have News for You

There are people who do not see a broken playground swing
as a symbol of ruined childhood

and there are people who don’t interpret the behavior
of a fly in a motel room as a mocking representation of their thought process.

There are people who don’t walk past an empty swimming pool
and think about past pleasures unrecoverable

and then stand there blocking the sidewalk for other pedestrians.
I have read about a town somewhere in California where human beings

do not send their sinuous feeder roots
deep into the potting soil of others’ emotional lives

as if they were greedy six-year-olds
sucking the last half-inch of milkshake up through a noisy straw;

and other persons in the Midwest who can kiss without
debating the imperialist baggage of heterosexuality.

Do you see that creamy, lemon-yellow moon?
There are some people, unlike me and you,

who do not yearn after fame or love or quantities of money as
unattainable as that moon;
thus, they do not later
have to waste more time
defaming the object of their former ardor.

Or consequently run and crucify themselves
in some solitary midnight Starbucks Golgotha.

I have news for you—
there are people who get up in the morning and cross a room

and open a window to let the sweet breeze in
and let it touch them all over their faces and bodies.

–Tony Hoagland

10 Apr 2012

Let’s Talk About Your Heart.

Written by sally @ 8:53 am — Section: sally

The Teacher

I was twenty-six the first time I held
a human heart in my hand.

It was sixty-four and heavier than I expected,
its chambers slack;
and I was stupidly surprised
at how cold it was.

It was the middle of the third week
before I could look at her face,
before I could spend more than an hour
learning the secrets of cirrhosis,
the dark truth of diabetes, the black lungs
of the Marlboro woman, the exquisite
painful shape of kidney stones,
without eating an entire box of Altoids
to smother the smell of formaldehyde.

After seeing her face, I could not help
but wonder if she had a favorite color;
if she hated beets,
or loved country music before her hearing
faded, or learned to read
before cataracts placed her in perpetual twilight.
I wondered if her mother had once been happy
when she’d come home from school
or if she’d ever had a valentine from a secret admirer.

In the weeks that followed, I would
drive the highways, scanning billboards.
I would see her face, her eyes
squinting away the cigarette smoke,
or she would turn up at the bus stop
pushing a grocery cart of empty
beer cans and soda bottles. I wondered
if that was how she’d paid for all those smokes
or if the scars of repeated infections in her womb
spoke to a more universal currency.

Did she die, I wondered, in a cardboard box
under the Burnside Bridge, nursing a bottle
of strawberry wine, telling herself
she felt a little warmer now,
or in the Good Faith Shelter,
her few belongings safe under the sheet
held to her faltering heart?
Or in the emergency room, lying
on a wheeled gurney, the pitiless
lights above, the gauzy curtains around?

Did she ever wonder what it all was for?

I wish I could have told her in those days
what I’ve now come to know: that
it was for this–the baring
of her body on the stainless steel table–
that I might come to know its secrets
and, knowing them, might listen
to the machine-shop hum of aortic stenosis
in an old woman’s chest, smile a little to myself
and, in gratitude to her who taught me,

put away my stethoscope, turn to my patient
and say Let’s talk about your heart.

–Hilarie Jones

9 Apr 2012

That Vase.

Written by sally @ 1:49 pm — Section: sally

Home is so Sad

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

–Philip Larkin

8 Apr 2012

From Raymond Carver’s Notebook.

Written by sally @ 8:29 am — Section: sally

7 Apr 2012

Jujubes, Aspirins!

Written by sally @ 8:18 am — Section: sally


Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all
the stuff they’ve always talked about

still makes a poem a surprise!
These things are with us every day
even on beachheads and biers. They
do have meaning. They’re strong as rocks

–Frank O’Hara

(I am really loving Frank O’Hara lately.)

6 Apr 2012

Five Stars for Sure.

Written by sally @ 1:12 pm — Section: sally

Here is something fantastic: I’ve been reading Steve Almond’s Candyfreak, which is just one of the more perfect nonfiction reads. First off, it’s about candy. I love candy…maybe too much. I eat candy EVERY DAY. This is something I don’t advertise, because candy gets a bad rap (as it is, you know, bad for you). Also, it is infantile to love candy as much as I do. Secondly, it’s not merely some nonfiction writer’s exploration or history of candy. Steve Almond loves candy like no one else loves candy. Third, it is hilarious. Of course, I left my copy in the car so I can’t quote and prove it, but trust me. Fourth, did I mention it’s about candy? And people’s relationships with candy? I just read how one lady puts her Snickers under her leg to warm it up to almost-melted before she eats it. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE!

In the section I just finished, Almond visits Lake Champlain Chocolates, makers of the Five Star Chocolate Bars. He goes on at length about the quality of ingredients and insane deliciousness of these, and visits with a candy bar creator, who just mixes up pots of awesomeness and eats it all day. There is much discussion of the Hazelnut bar in particular, especially about the curiously light and crispy bits that are inside, which turn out to be feuilletine (thanks, Top Chef, for letting me recognize this word!). I was salivating.

Anyway, this morning I was at Fresh Market, which I never go to, buying a plant for my in laws for an Easter/”happy 41st anniversary I got you this $7 plant” gift, and behold! They carry Five Star Chocolate Bars! AND I AM EATING THE HAZELNUT ONE RIGHT NOW AND Y’ALL, THE FEUILLETINE IS AMAZING.

Dispensable in the Imagination.

Written by sally @ 8:09 am — Section: sally

Light clarity avocado salad in the morning
after all the terrible things I do how amazing it is
to find forgiveness and love, not even forgiveness
since what is done is done and forgiveness isn’t love
and love is love nothing can ever go wrong
though things can get irritating boring and dispensable
(in the imagination) but not really for love
though a block away you feel distant the mere presence
changes everything like a chemical dropped on a paper
and all thoughts disappear in a strange quiet excitement
I am sure of nothing but this, intensified by breathing

–Frank O’Hara

5 Apr 2012

First Bunny Died.

Written by sally @ 8:04 am — Section: sally

A Step Away from Them

It’s my lunch hour, so I go
for a walk among the hum-colored
cabs. First, down the sidewalk
where laborers feed their dirty
glistening torsos sandwiches
and Coca-Cola, with yellow helmets
on. They protect them from falling
bricks, I guess. Then onto the
avenue where skirts are flipping
above heels and blow up over
grates. The sun is hot, but the
cabs stir up the air. I look
at bargains in wristwatches. There
are cats playing in sawdust.
to Times Square, where the sign
blows smoke over my head, and higher
the waterfall pours lightly. A
Negro stands in a doorway with a
toothpick, languorously agitating.
A blonde chorus girl clicks: he
smiles and rubs his chin. Everything
suddenly honks: it is 12:40 of
a Thursday.
Neon in daylight is a
great pleasure, as Edwin Denby would
write, as are light bulbs in daylight.
I stop for a cheeseburger at JULIET’S
CORNER. Giulietta Masina, wife of
Federico Fellini, e bell’ attrice.
And chocolate malted. A lady in
foxes on such a day puts her poodle
in a cab.
There are several Puerto
Ricans on the avenue today, which
makes it beautiful and warm. First
Bunny died, then John Latouche,
then Jackson Pollack. But is the
earth as full as life was full, of them?
And one has eaten and one walks,
past the magazines with nudes
and the posters for BULLFIGHT and
the Manhattan Storage Warehouse,
which they’ll soon tear down. I
used to think they had the Armory
Show there.
A glass of papaya juice
and back to work. My heart is in my
pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.

–Frank O’Hara

4 Apr 2012

I Did Care.

Written by sally @ 8:04 am — Section: sally

The Correspondence School Instructor Says Goodbye to His Students

Goodbye, lady in Bangor, who sent me
snapshots of yourself, after definitely hinting
you were beautiful; goodbye,
Miami Beach urologist, who enclosed plain
brown envelopes for the return of your very
“Clinical Sonnets”; goodbye, manufacturer
of brassieres on the Coast, whose eclogues
give the fullest treatment in literature yet
to the sagging breast motif; goodbye, you in San Quentin,
who wrote, “Being German my hero is Hitler,”
instead of “Sincerely yours,” at the end of long,
neat-scripted letters extolling the Pre-Raphaelites:

I swear to you, it was just my way
of cheering myself up, as I licked
the stamped, self-addressed envelopes,
the game I had of trying to guess
which one of you, this time,
had poisoned his glue. I did care.
I did read each poem entire.
I did say everything I thought
in the mildest words I knew. And now,
in this poem, or chopped prose, no better,
I realize, than those troubled lines
I kept sending back to you,
I have to say I am relieved it is over:
at the end I could feel only pity
for that urge toward more life
your poems kept smothering in words, the smell
of which, days later, tingled in your nostrils
as new, God-given impulses
to write.

you who are, for me, the postmarks again
of imaginary towns—Xenia, Burnt Cabins, Hornell—
their solitude given away in poems, only their loneliness kept.

–Galway Kinnell

3 Apr 2012

Oh, America.

Written by sally @ 8:26 am — Section: sally

The top two things trending on Twitter right now are:




None Can Tell.

Written by sally @ 7:35 am — Section: sally

my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell

I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
And none can tell when I may dine again.
No man can give me any word but Wait,
The puny light. I keep eyes pointed in;
Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love.

–Gwendolyn Brooks

2 Apr 2012


Written by sally @ 8:24 am — Section: sally

Strange Type

I wrote: in the dark cavern of our birth.
The printer had it tavern, which seems better:
But herein lies the subject of our mirth,
Since on the next page death appears as dearth.
So it may be that God’s word was distraction,
Which to our strange type appears destruction,
Which is bitter.

–Malcolm Lowry

1 Apr 2012

No Foolin’, It’s NPM.

Written by sally @ 6:36 pm — Section: sally

Welcome to National Poetry Month! Let’s see how long I can keep this up.

Lilies for Supper.

Written by sally @ 8:11 am — Section: sally

Red Lilies

Someone has remembered to dry the dishes;
they have taken the accident out of the stove.
Afterward lilies for supper; there
the lines in front of the window
are rubbed on the table of stone

The paper flies up
then down as the wind
repeats. repeats its birdsong.

Those arms under the pillow
the burrowing arms they cleave
at night as the tug kneads water
calling themselves branches

The tree is you
the blanket is what warms it
snow erupts from thistle
to toe; the snow pours out of you.

A cold hand on the dishes
placing a saucer inside
her who undressed for supper
gliding that hair to the snow

The pilot light
went out on the stove

The paper folded like a napkin
other wings flew into the stone.

–Barbara Guest

30 Mar 2012

You Really Missed Out, Now, Didn’t You.

Written by sally @ 3:45 pm — Section: sally

A couple of nights ago, I had the pleasure of sitting on a really uncomfortable chair in an auditorium at Millsaps and hearing a delightful reading/concert/something/whatever performed by the following three people:

–Wesley Stace/John Wesley Harding
–Rick Moody
–Joe Pernice

It is weird that these three folks were together, and also that they were in Jackson. Wesley Stace is the author of Misfortune, by George, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, and also he is John Wesley Harding, British indie pop singer/songwriter/hot guy. I loved Misfortune, I super loved by George, I started Charles Jessold but didn’t get into it and now I have misplaced it.

In high school, my now-gay non-boyfriend Jason asked if I liked John Wesley Harding. I said, “John Wesley Harding / he was a friend of mine.” Then he said “Great! He’s coming to RPM for an in-store.” I was confused, as I was talking about the Bob Dylan song. Then everyone blushed in the way that only now-gay non-boyfriends and their then-non-girlfriends can. Then when I lived in Starkville, I bought a couple of John Wesley Harding tapes (!) at Walls, the salvage store, and even though the cases were melted I really liked them! So then I felt bad about the whole in-store Bob Dylan debacle.

I have no history with Rick Moody other than I read The Ice Storm, I saw The Ice Storm, I enjoyed The Ice Storm, I bought several of his other books but didn’t read them.

And then there is my friend Joe Pernice. Frequent readers will know I love Joe Pernice. As a Pernice Brother, as a Scud Mountain Boy, as Joe Pernice, as backup harmonium player for Jimmy and the Whim-Whams, whatever. I was not so fond of his novel based on “Meat is Murder,” but that is a sacred musical document for me, and I think I expected too much. (I recently went to a book discussion about March, which I’ve already ranted about (code word: ENTRAILS), but some of the audience members were really torqued up about HOW DARE YOU PORTRAY MARMEE IN SUCH A WAY? Sacred documents are sacred documents.)

It felt special and magical that these folks were together on stage in essentially my backyard. I am at least 68% certain the power of my admiration brought them together.

Joe read from his second novel (which I’m not going to read in order to preserve our relationship!), which contained parts where the main character dried himself off from the shower with his dirty underwear, and then sang “Amazing Glow,” and the world was right for a moment. Then Rick Moody read from his essay collection On Celestial Music, and he was HILARIOUS AND AWESOME; he uses this fantastically faux serious reading voice, all boomy and trembly, and it was such fun to listen to. (The words “On Celestial Music” sound like it’s going to be boring and/or about classical music, but I promise it’s going to be something you like. He read a piece about “Try a Little Tenderness” and one about his hatred of drum machines.)

Then John Wesley Staceharding had his turn, and I was entranced. Pronounce “entranced” with a British accent and that more accurately describes things. Entronced. He was entroncing. He read from his new book, about a rock band that is repackaged as a kids’ band, and it sounds awesome and then he sang folk songs and Rick Moody sang harmonies. Then Joe Pernice sang “Goodbye Killer” and “Not the Loving Kind” and Wesley Johnstace sang more folk songs and then Johnley Westacing and Rick Moody did “In My Room” in German, which was like this (link SSFWINEF*).

Anyway! I think this is more of a diary entry than a blog post, but it was great, I had a good time, you should buy everyone’s books and records and everyone should just sit in the Millsaps auditorium and hope something else cool might happen again there some time in the future.

*so safe for work it’s not even funny

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