Friday, June 17, 2011


…Since I’ve been in Iowa (a day and a half) I’ve had two poems and two stories accepted.
That puts me over 450 published pieces in the last two years. My goal is 500 by year end.
My goal is also to secure an agent for my novel already written, and to finish two others, which I’ve outlined. I best get my butt hauling soon.

…On the plane here, I read three books (with a much-delayed layover in Houston, I had massive time to read, plus two of the volumes were thin.):
--“How to Treat a Sick Animal,” by Timothy Gager. Flash and micro fiction. Very quirky, well-written, vague and sometimes very clever work.
--“Ethics of Sleep” by Bernadette Mayer. Great title. The writing, not so much. A friend recommended her to me, and Mayer is hailed by many as a groundbreaking genius, but I don't see it. Her sentences are all broken up and nonsensical. For example: “Typing the thing that got a whole in yours yet.”
--and, “Walking Light,” by Stephen Dunn, which is genius instruction on how to write poetry, along with some life lesson vignettes from the author, and many great quotes.

…People in Iowa are-(surprise)-really hip, chic almost.
And very young.
Thin, too, with clear skin.
Seriously. They are. In Iowa, they are that way.
This campus (U of I), where Carver and Vonnegut taught, is sprawling and audacious and a mix of modern and roman classical architecture.
Then there’s a little carless strip with scores of cool restaurants and bars and water fountains and sculpture, jazz bands playing, someone selling gelatto and fried chicken.
In Iowa. Yep. Who knew?

…Poetry has been dripping out of me lately like a nose bleed that’s extended to my pores.
Here’s my first Workshop poem, written for my wife.

IOWA Heart

Like a pornographer
or slave trader
looking to make a purchase,
we study the heart,
that very human heart.

To me now,
what is presented feels
congealed, cold as marble,
maybe even callused.
Yes, that. Yes.

Some sharp girl wants to squeeze it
and does.
“See?” she says, pointing at the aorta leaking
thick black oil.
A boy (they are all so young here)
leaps forth and stomps on it,
catching air as he bounces.
“Wheeee!” he sings.
Yes, we.
The others rise from their seats,
applauding hardily and happily,
like a mob of stoned do-gooders.
Even the instructors grin
as each massages their bearded chins.

“But look!” I shout from the back row.
The crowd gasps, staggers even.

My heart is in my hands,
bleeding ripe cherry-red,
bleeding but breathing,
beating, yes, still throbbing alive
for you
my love.

Here are some excerpts I like on a Friday night in Iowa, from Louse Gluck’s fine collection, “Vita Nova”:

--“Even before I was touched, I belonged to you;
you had only to look at me.”
--“I hate when your own dreams treat you as stupid.”
--“Just because the past is long than the future doesn’t mean there is no future.”
--“Deep serenity flooded through me, such as you feel when the world can’t touch you.”
--“Everyone afraid of love is afraid of death.”
--“I dreamed I was kidnapped. That means
I knew what love was,
How it places the soul in jeopardy.
I knew. I substituted my body.”

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