Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ah, the Belgians

This might be the best! world! record! ever!

Hat-tip to Husband for sending me the link.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Things I already knew

This headline, for example. Even if you don't understand German you can probably figure it out. But here's a translation:

No Swiss quality by Swiss sperm.

The sub-headline informs us that in a study of 800 young Swiss men, more than half of them had sperm quality (including total quantity, mobility, and speed) under the international norm. There is at this point no explanation for this, but as for "speed" it's a known fact that Bernese Swiss in particular are slow. What's your excuse, Geneva?

Hat-tip to Husband for SMSing me the headline.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dear FedEx Guy,

Sorry about missing your delivery. I'm sure you suspected that somebody was home, what with Boychen screaming uncontrollably and Small Boy calling out "Hellooo? Hellooo?" after you rang the bell. You were quite patient, giving me a chance to come to the door, but between the screaming baby and the fact that I was still wet and not dressed from my extremely truncated and unsatisfying shower (see Baby, screaming) and the fact that Small Boy, who heaven help me still isn't potty-trained, had a dirty diaper it just wasn't gonna happen. Thanks for trying though.

Love and redeliveries,

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Poetry of witness for the internet

I generally don't write poetry of witness. I'm not good at it, not good at mastering that control of outrage that keeps it from spiling over into shrill soapbox sputtering. The best poetry of witness (much of which is gathered in this excellent collection) is controlled and specific, understated even, and all the more powerful for the control. Think of a horse at full run. Now think of a horse being reined in, jerking at the bit, wanting to be at a full run. That's the kind of power good poetry of witness - good poetry, period - should have. In not good at reining in, especially in political poetry - I let go the reins and watch my words bolt across the fields. Nevertheless, I'm trying to push my limits as a poet, so here's a political poem written especially for the blogging format - I've incorporated into the poem links to stories and pictures about the events I'm writing about.

Is this a new way to use the internet in poetry or simply too clever by half? Does it weaken the poem; that is, do the links imply that I can't convey what I'm talking about without them? Really. I want to know what you think of this format.


Fifty Years in the Making

Flame of shame
is too obvious a rhyme,
but sometimes the obvious is true.
Sometimes the obvious sits in front of you
fifty years
waiting to be noticed
and when it is, pent-up energy sparks
a chain reaction
picked up by strangers
who don't speak your language
but understand every word
and send the signal on down the line.
We're the flame now
this conflagration of outrage
sending sparks across channels
and oceans
and to the roof of the world
where they wait for this burning
fifty years in the making.
No domesticated flame, this
no desecrated flame, this
just the fire of an outrage
fifty years in the making.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What I've been up to

I've been a very bad blogger lately, I realize. I keep meaning to recommit to this blog and I keep not getting it done and I'm grateful that I have any readers left at all and that you say kind things when I throw up lazy posts involving pictures of The Boys. (A mother's entitled to be biased, but they are cute, aren't they?) I keep meaning to come back to writing in this space but at the moment most of my writing is in my notebooks.

For years I have been calling myself a writer while always finding excuses to keep it safe: writing in my journals, writing on my blogs, writing "for myself." I have been writing stories and poems since, literally, I could grasp a pencil. And I have always lacked the courage - for long and complicated reasons that no longer interest me but generally start with the phrase "my mother" - to throw my writing out into the world and see what happens. And for long and complicated reasons that do interest me, I'm suddenly finding myself wanting to do that. Really wanting to. Wanting to so much that it is a physical effort to hold back and wait, to not send immature poems out into the world to be crushed by the last late snow of spring.

I'm writing poetry again. Rather a lot and, even better, I'm actually revising it, crafting it, working. Really working. And I'm enjoying it so much. The work. The effort. I have a goal, and a plan, and a long thought out series of steps to get me from here to there. Step number one, of course, is to actually do the work, write the poems, revise the poems, tear them down and build them again. That is what I'm spending most of my free time doing these days - and since free time with two small children is hard to come by, the blog has taken a back seat. I hope to change this, but we'll see what time allows me to do. But right now I have to ride this wave of poetry and crash onto whatever shore it brings me to.

For the most part I'm not going to be posting most of the poems I'm working on, for a variety of reasons including the fact that there are journals that don't want to publish poems that have already appeared on line, even on a personal blog. But this is National Poetry Month and I am trying to write a poem a day in April. Draft poems. Very rough draft poems that I can come back to later and really work. I expect that a lot of these poems are going to be inspired by the 20 minute exercises in the back of this wonderful little book (because that's about how much time I have on a given non-babysitting R out of town day), and there will be useful poetry prompts here, too. I expect them to read as though they'd been written in twenty minutes, since most of them will have been. But they'll be sitting there in my journal to go back to later, and one or two of them might turn into something.

I will post the one I wrote yesterday, because even though I jammed it out in 15 minutes, I kind of like it. It was inspired by an exercise in Addonizio & Laux with the following instructions:
1. Write about writing
2. It's cold outside
3. It should have snowed by now but hasn't
4. Mention the time of day
5. Use the pronoun "we" as your speaker
6. Use the word "florid" in a way not ordinarily used.

So here it is.

The Clinic

We've nearly given up
trying to tell you how we feel,
trying to turn this messy truth
into a poem that would suit you.
We have filled pages
and are done with all that,
this record-keeping
of our florid failure to reproduce.
Night is falling
and though outside our window it is spring
where we are it is cold.
It is always winter here,
but it never snows.