Chimera Song Mosaic
Saturday, July 30, 2005

One of the things I have got to do before Lance gets here (next Thursday!) is pick up the house, especially the wreck I have made of the library and bathroom. Those are just places I like to scatter things.

So in going through the stacks in the library and some in various places around the house, I thought I'd make some lists of where these books and magazines came from before sticking them onto the shelves, where they will remain grouped together until I read them and they move into another part of the shelves. I'm not as organized as I might sound. For example, I often read books of poetry that I have already read because for some reason, associatively, I group them with other poets rather than moving them into the read shelf. So there really isn't a read shelf. This particular happens with books that I wanted to read for a look time, bought, looked at longingly but pushed aside, and then finally read in a quick fit, only to find that they weren't what I expected (this is not to be read as disappointment but difference), so that when I looked at them later it was as if I had never read them.

It seems that my expectations were so habitual and so entrenched that I did not replace them with reality.

I worked for two or more hours, and I located some sets of books I purchased in various places this past year:

Austin, March 2005 (during the Austin International Poetry Festival, I read at Book Woman, an offshoot of Book People

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho / Anne Carson (great title, and I’m keen on any of Carson’s fragments, whether she created them or not)
Poems of Akhmatova / trans. Stanley Kunitz & Max Hayward (do I also need a little Akhmatova book? yes, and less intimidating)
Borderlands: La Frontera: The New Mestiza / Gloria Anzaldua
You Be Me: Friendship in the Lives of Teenage Girls / ed. Susan Musgrave (of the raucous AWP Vancouver caucus!)
Paul Verlaine: Women/Men / trans. Alistair Elliot (I’d love to know what Verlaine thinks about them!)
Public Power in the Age of Empire / Arundhati Roy
The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology / ed. Nathalie Handal (preparation for my move to Qatar)
Women’s Work: New Poems / Maggie Jochild (she was another one of the readers at Book Woman)
Waiting for Birth: Poems / Cindy Childress (a creative writing Ph.D. candidate at the University of Louisiana and the host of the evening; she looks like a Barbie doll and has a very heavy Southern accent, but her poems were sensuously corporeal and mythically scientific)
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship / Ann Patchett (though I hadn’t yet read Bel Canto, which I didn’t love, I had heard raves about it, so I picked this up; also I liked the grasshopper on the cover, and I’ll probably be more into the memoir—at least it will be more intimate, I think)
Sex with Kings: Five Hundred Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge / Eleanor Herman (I was mad for the sumptuous and leisurely exhibit of Madame de Pompadour’s portraits, paintings, and possessions in Munich the summer of 2001, and besides, the author has done herself up as a queen for her publicity photo—this is going to be fun!)

Trip to Houston, 2005, Various

3rd Bed 10 Spring/Summer ’04 (a very groovy mag!)
Court Green 1 2004
Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review 22 Spring/Summer 2004
The Real McCoy: A Novel / Darin Strauss (this guy wrote Chang and Eng and is a very nice guy; I met him the summer I went to Saratoga Springs)
Texas Poetry Journal Spring 2005
jubilat nine
Columbia Poetry Review 18 Spring 2005
Third Coast Spring 2005
3 issues of CROWD vol. 4, issue 2; vol. 3, issue 1; vol. 5, issue 1-2 (not sure how they handle the numbering, but I’m obsessed with CROWD right now, and 5 features a poem by Ms. Catherine Meng!)
The Canary 4
small.spiral.notebook vol. I, issue II (this is the only thing from this list that I’ve examined completely, and I loved the fiction)

Vancouver, AWP, March 2005

shankpainter 44 spring 2004
13th Moon: A Feminist Literary Magazine vol. XVI, 1 & 2
Pool: A Journal of Poetry vol. 2 2003
The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, expanded edition / trans. Judith Hemschemeyer (this is a big and scary lavender colored book with an intelligent photograph of Akhmatova on the cover)
Robert Frost in Russia / F.D. Reeve (what the!?)
Matter / Bin Ramke
Iraqi Poetry Today / ed. Saadi Simawe
The Opening Question / Prageeta Sharma (I was introduced to her there; very lively with a sweet face)
try / Cole Swenson (I loved her reading—what a mama! I want to grow up to be Cole Swenson)
Guess Can Gallop / Heidi Lynn Staples
The Commandrine and Other Poems / Joyelle McSweeney
God Save My Queen: A Tribute / Daniel Nester

. . . there might have been more, but it’s been a while, and some have wandered off.

Also I received a beautiful packet in the mail from Ugly Duckling Presse. These were wrapped in larger than legal sized off-white paper on which poems were printed. I won’t repeat the poems here because I can’t credit them and they are too long, but I certainly will read them. This contained several beautiful crafted chapbooks, including:

The Blue Notebook / Daniil Kharms (trans. Matvei Yankelevich)
Fifty Drops of Blood / Dmitri Alexandrovich Prigov (trans. Christopher Mattison)
Sea Shanties of Old Vermont / Aaron Teiger

and I preordered Iterature / Eugene Ostashevsky, so I can’t forget to wait for that.

A Gift

Also, I found some old attempts to keep my writing in one place, which I am wry of sine I’ve had somewhat disastrous results. One spiral notebook I almost completed, finally writing some good stuff in the later pages, but leaving one final leaf cryptically blank. I stopped and started several times in the notebook, even attempting to journal keep on one occasion, and I also found this list that was prompted by a reading of The Picture of Dorian Grey. I remember having to put the book down so glorious and antique were the precious stones mentioned in it. I can’t vouch for all of the stones (and sensuous musical approximations) on this list, but some of them do come from the book (the rest probably comes from The Importance of Being Ernest or something else I was reading at the time):

chausable (priest robe)
anneal (to strengthen, mix together)
champak (Indian yellow Magnolia tree)
colubrine (snakelike)
chysolites (yellow green olivines or beryls)
chrysoberyl (see crysolites)
andromais (ascend rivers to breed)
colmitored (opal beryl)
apostasy (reject faith)
agate = eloquence
carnelian (red chalcedony)
bezoar (gut residue of ungulates, magical guard against poison; also Arabian deer stone)
balas, or balasses (spinel Afghan orange jewel)
moieties (one of equal halves, tribal)
caryatides (Greek woman column)
cochineal (red female insect used in dyes)
sugar cane
palm fiber
abalone, apertures

It becomes obvious that this is not a list of stones, but includes some other stuff, plus cryptic definitions. I’m not sure what I was doing here, but I was probably trying to force my way into a poem by way of incantation. Some of these probably occurred when I looked up other words, so there are links and references and random sightings in my dictionary. I have only used two of these words in actual poems, ambergris (which is obvious) and vitriol.

There is another spiral, a smaller, brand new one, that I attempted to write all my poems in more recently (the other one is dated 2001-2003). This small one is fall 2003, and I apparently gave up after three or four pages of unsatisfying poems. Most of the poems in both of these journal are bad, so I think I abandoned the second one from superstition.

Then I tried writing all my poems on index cards, usually colored ones. This worked ok, but somehow seemed to diminish them. I kept them in small index card boxes. I found these two snippets of poems that I actually enjoyed:

How she might walk miles in the heat and depression
of pavement to invite the cool interiors of
a movie theater of changes and gender inventions
how the drama of her innards spread across
into the measurements of pain yet to be
unmarveled and endured in all her
loveliness; how nighttime too might be a mask
to cool beside her loveliness.


I am unfamiliar with this and am startled by the lovingness of it.

Another one in the card catalog:

Thief! California

On the shores of a lagoon of neverness
scree piles in the woodshed bound for a coast most bountiful.
The overtures of terns wallow in their throats,
ply the woodshed,
brook their sustenance for spring,
and wither in their endlessness.
Windhovers rush the summit
leery of the very ideas that made them famous.
Mark these words enthroned by limestone and silt,
burned bark into the summer forage.
Sand dunes permit the grasses to adorn* their spines,
sea foam paspalum and other unpronounceable causalities of conviction.
A ghost crab skitters across the sand trap,
aware of the bone-thin tracks she makes in the sand’s crust.
Balancing. Holding her dream of sleep between 2 pincers
[because [she is] aware that] sleep disrupts her agenda,
her pecking for silvery minnows in a lagoon most
accidental and transient,
forming a language to catalog regret,
practicing ballet.
The minnow rests inside her egg; her whole life is
dreaming: glittering saltwater, pale illusions of children’s
faces, pale nemesis (assassin, breakfast).

*this is the only word I changed in the poem while typing it, substituting the mellifluous “adorn” for the original “decorate.” I’d like to get to know this poem better, maybe revise it and work on it.

Biographical note: I know the idea of writing on note cards came from a series of poems Catherine and I wrote to each other that year, and this poem possibly has something to do with Catherine because I wrote her address on the bottom of the card in red marker. The rest of the poem is black felt tip.

My schedule that summer, allegedly, was:

7:30 a.m. exercise (30 min.)
8:00 a.m. breakfast, shower (1 hour)
9:00 a.m. write & blog (3 hours)
12:00 p.m. lunch & read (3 hours)
3:00 p.m. projects (2 hours)
5:00 p.m. clean home & errands (30 min. minimum)
5:30 p.m. make dinner

I think that is the summer I started my blog.

This summer, my schedule is more flexible:

Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays: exercise at gym
Tuesdays-Thursdays: mow and edge lawn
Saturdays-Sundays: walk dogs

But really it’s been a bit more like the previous one, if you add three hours a day for my computer game. I shirk the lawn as much as possible, and I haven’t been walking the dogs much at all (I forgot to go at night, and that’s the only time it’s cool enough; my mornings are at the gym or on the lawn). I tried a rule where I wrote for three hours a day on the weekdays—it could include poems, fiction, or blogging—but I only could do it three days in a row. Still, I am writing in a leftover legal pad, and I have been picking it up off the counter regularly to write poems in it. Obviously, I am also blogging. I wrote a 28 page erotic story, too. So that’s progress.

I also found an old National Geographic map of the Artic Circle, and someone has circled the following cities in red ink:


I've only been to two of these places. It’s funny to look at the countries sideways. For example, from the way the names are printed, Poland is above Denmark.

I'm done with the library now. Now I want to read all these things! But for now I have to halt my reading list for some emergency magazine reading. I have some stuff from last summer that I never got arund to reading, and I have to get at some of those stories and articles.

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