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Tuesday, December 30, 2014


James Richardson, poet and aphorist, wrote as his 23rd entry in the book Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, "All stones are broken stones." To me this immediately said; 1) all stones are broken, not just the one you identify with; and 2) all stones came from something bigger, a bigger stone, a oneness, a wholeness, a whole stone, an earth, a planet.

2014 was the year I was going to end self-loathing. That was my resolution. I am not done yet (may never be done), but I have made significant strides, thanks in large part to the podcasts (available free on iTunes) of meditation teacher Tara Brach, who teaches that one inclusive response to the vagaries of the world and of the self is "This too".

Novelist Marianne Fredriksson said in her book Simon and the Oaks (translated by Joan Tate), "I find it difficult to be with people who don’t like themselves. They let other people pay such a high price for it." Not only is it unpleasant to be with people preoccupied with self-loathing, it's also true that such people (I know from experience) are busy ascribing ugly motivations to the people who do put up with them, for there must be a twisted reason anyone would choose to be with such a loathsome individual as the self. When you let go of self-loathing, you let go of blaming and disliking others as well; when you can forgive yourself, it becomes nothing to forgive others.  And you learn, as the comedian Marc Maron once said, "Feelings aren't facts. Yadda yadda yadda."

So 2015 will be the year I continue to let go of self-loathing. After all, as sung by the band Over the Rhine, "All my favorite people are broken." You could do worse than taking the time to listen to the whole gorgeous song (because whole is gorgeous, and so is broken) here.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Glorious Memorious

Thanks to Rebecca Morgan Frank at Memorious for publishing my poem "Fare" in Issue 23. I'm thrilled to be in illustrious company including Lauren Camp, Cathy Linh Che, Matthew Hittinger, David Rivard, Nomi Stone, and Cori A. Winrock.

Picasso's Ostrich

Honored and pleased to have my poem "Picasso's Ostrich" featured on the blog Painters & Poets today.

The earliest draft of this poem began as a part of a month-long project called the August Poetry Postcard Fest, which you can learn more about here and here.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

What's Your Favorite Number?

Today I got the final image for a poem I have been working on for a month, at least. But the words aren't right; I just got the image, not the wording. And so I can see there will be weeks till this poem is done. There must be other people who write more efficiently than I do. There must. In fact, today The Chronicle of Higher Education brings us 'The Habits of Highly Productive Writers.' (Hint: reading this blog is not on the list.)

On an unrelated topic, what is your favorite number? I have a strong preference for odd numbers; even numbers, after all, just keep repeating one another. Turns out there's a 'math guy' who's done a (non-scientific) study on favorite numbers, and he found the world's (most commonly cited) favorite number. Listen to Alex Bellos, author of The Grapes of Math and Here's Looking at Euclid, on the topic of favorite numbers at the podcast Story Collider.

(And, if you want to know what my favorite number is, I actually blogged about Alex Bellos earlier on in his investigation into the world's favorite number (back in 2011 actually), and in that post, I revealed my favorite numbers. Yes, I have several. So sue me.)

Friday, December 26, 2014

It's Elemental

Happy Holidays to All.

From our country/ies of abundance and assumed abundance, here is a chart of the relative abundance of the elements on the periodic table on the surface of the earth, by Prof. William F. Sheehan of the Univ. of Santa Clara, provided by It even shows relative electro-negativity!

The title poem in Mendeleev's Mandala is about the periodic table, so it's not surprising I love this! Hope you do too.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Geosi Reads

I'm honored to have been interviewed at the perceptive blog Geosi Reads. Writing from Ghana, Geosi is a poet with a curiosity about the creative processes and influences of other poets. He posts a brand new interview roughly every two to five days, and each interview is tailored for the interviewee, a nice break from the cookie-cutter interviews that abound on the internet. Geosi has interviewed famous poets from all over the world, as well as unknowns like me. Some of his other interviewees include  Kwame DawesDan Albergotti, Diane Seuss, Benjamin KwakyeLesley Wheeler, Jeannine Hall Gailey, William Trowbridge, and many more.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mendeleev's Mandala Available for Pre-Order

My new book, Mendeleev's Mandala, is available for a special pre-order price of  $13.95 + S&H from Mayapple Press. There's one button for orders from the US, and another button for orders from Japan.

Here are what some generous poets have had to say about it:

This book is a library whittled down to a message in a bottle. Here is a poet who has boldly refused to abide to the expectations of genre—but instead, pushes language and form as a means of asking the most urgent questions. The result is a courageous and kaleidoscopic, at times tender and vulnerable, exploration of motherhood and family—set against the backdrops of science, history, religion, myths, and mathematics. When a poet embarks on a book as myriad and borderless as this one, we are gifted the rare chance to stand at the threshold of a formidable human storm. And from here, it is clear that Goodfellow’s Mendeleev’s Mandala is an electric book. But its lines are not limited to lightning. They move more like thunder, startling, resonant, and suddenly everywhere in the mind at once. – Ocean Vuong, author of Night Sky With Exit Wounds
Jessica Goodfellow has a joyous intelligence and electric tongue. Reading this book a first time, my only regret was that I couldn’t read it a second first time. But then I read it a first second time and a first third. You see what I’m doing? I’m reading this book over and over, without ever completely taking it in. I think you will too. And like me, want only one thing from Jessica Goodfellow – more.  – Bob Hicok
From the origin of the number zero to immigration to map making, these poems leap dynamically between ideas and a blazing exploration of language. Folding and unfolding with searing brilliance, these poems reveal our human condition with a down-to-earth sense of humor and wonder. This must-read collection nourishes mind and body and opens up whole new ways of seeing the world around us. – Judy Halebsky, author of Tree Line

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Second Hour

In the past few months, I've changed my writing schedule. Instead of trying to write 45 minutes a day, I've been trying to write for two hours three or four times a week (and 45 minutes on the off days).

Until the holiday season I was doing this fairly consistently, and I noticed something. It's the second hour in which all the breakthroughs are made. All the twitching and losing concentration is done in the first hour, the sitting staring at a problem poem, then putting it away and staring at a blank page--that's all first hour stuff. In the second hour, I finally stop resisting, stop looking at the clock, stop noticing all the noises around me, and the ideas come to me. Two or three or four big problems that I've been struggling with in a poem or two are suddenly solved in the second hour when, as if by magic, the right words or forms or ideas come to me.

Really this should be no surprise to me; I've written before about how the subconscious mind does all the heavy lifting. It takes time for the subconscious mind to solve the problems (which happens before the sitting down, which happens in the days and nights and weeks in which I've been pondering problems), but it also takes a quiet conscious mind to receive them, and for me, that takes more than an hour to achieve. But when I get to that quiet settled-in state, there they are, the answers. And now I know that getting to the receptive state comes (for me) in the second hour, not the first. Good to know.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Free Poetry

If you're like me, and despite efforts to have a Christmas not hijacked by consumerism you are still squirming over holiday spending, free poetry is just the thing to cheer you up. H_ngm_n Books has a plethora of free chapbooks for PDF download, featuring poets such as Sarah Certa, Nick Sturm, Jenny Sadre-Orafai, Wendy Xu, Nate Slawson, and more. Thanks, H_ngm_n!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Valparaiso Rising

Very happy to have a new poem "Search Party, Called Off" in the Fall/Winter 2014-2015 issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review. Thanks to Edward Byrne and staff.

Glad to be in the company of my secret poetry crush Frannie Lindsay, and other luminaries such as Chana Bloch, Barbara Crooker, Adam Tavel, Stephen Massimilla, and Laura Foley, among others. Featured poet is Jeff Mock.

Hunt artwork
cover of Fall/Winter 2014-15 issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review

Monday, December 8, 2014

Voice III

The Cry Bone's Connected to the Why Bone                       Jenny Browne
Cold front blasts a train through
the bedroom, one long roar
above late talk of distant war.

Numbers and names I don't recognize
climb, drift, pile higher.
There are exactly twenty-seven

bones beneath the skin of a hand.
There are not as many words
for snow as I was once told.

It's almost morning.
If you're not with us, you're dew.
If you're dew, you disappear.

If you're me this week you see
a baby learn she has hands,
the bilateral little declaration

of a common axis, grip and find.
Put your hand in the air if you've heard
the one about the hokey pokey man.

He may die but you can't bury him.
And if the whole self was never in?
Keep moving        keep moving

towards a voice you still recognize.
If you're not with us, you're a fist
and if you're a fist, you can't reach

that collection of wishbones
rattling on
the quietest shelf in the room. 


The Wounded Angel, 1903                   Amanda Auchter
     after Hugo Simberg

                             Walk the treeline, higher
than before, where the frost covers each rootbed. Dig
         for the rotten fruit, lay it in your hand. Touch
         the red berried hips of the branch's cradle. Dusk,
and the sky irons. Listen: a bird-stir and the build
of God in your breath. In the garden,
         the wind knocks you into blind
slumber. Each torn wing folds into
                             the arms that rescue it. Two children
wait for the earth to grow
         back into you, bring your sorrows
                                                    to the shore. There,
they reed-wash your halo, tie onion blooms
to your wrist. There is nothing they miss—
how the current moves through you,
                      sweeps mud into your throat, brightens
each bruised eye. Look away from this, your river-

         locked voice, the threat of the far bank.

 The criticism, no matter how virulent, has long since ceased to bother me, but the price of this is that the praise is equally meaningless. The positive and the negative are not so much self-cancelling as drowned out by that carping, hectoring internal voice that goads me on and slaps me down all day every day.  ~Will Self


The Shout                               Simon Armitage

We went out
into the school yard together, me and the boy
whose name and face

I don't remember. We were testing the range
of the human voice:
he had to shout for all he was worth,

I had to raise an arm
from across the divide to signal back
that the sound had carried.

He called from over the park — I lifted an arm.
Out of bounds,
he yelled from the end of the road,

from the foot of the hill,
from beyond the look-out post of Fretwell's Farm —
I lifted an arm.

He left town, went on to be twenty years dead
with a gunshot hole
in the roof of his mouth, in Western Australia.

Boy with the name and face I don't remember,
you can stop shouting now, I can still hear you.


Already the Heart                        A. V. Christie

The spinal cord blossoms
like bright, bruised magnolia
into the brainstem.
         And already the heart
in its depth — who could assail it?
Bathed in my voice, all branching
and dreaming. The flowering
and fading — said the poet —
come to us both at once.
Here is your best self,
and the least, two sparrows
alight in the one tree
of your body.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Voice II

The Dead                                         Jason Schneiderman

do not speak.
That is what

makes them
dead. They

have left us
words, notes,

letters, but
you can only

read them
in your voice,

from your
place in this

world. You
may try

to speak for
the dead, but

listen. That’s
your voice.


On Angels                             Czeslaw Milosz

All was taken away from you: white dresses,
wings, even existence.
Yet I believe you,

There, where the world is turned inside out,
a heavy fabric embroidered with stars and beasts,
you stroll, inspecting the trustworthy seems.

Shorts is your stay here:
now and then at a matinal hour, if the sky is clear,
in a melody repeated by a bird,
or in the smell of apples at close of day
when the light makes the orchards magic.

They say somebody has invented you
but to me this does not sound convincing
for the humans invented themselves as well.

The voice -- no doubt it is a valid proof,
as it can belong only to radiant creatures,
weightless and winged (after all, why not?),
girdled with the lightening.

I have heard that voice many a time when asleep
and, what is strange, I understood more or less
an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:

day draw near
another one

do what you can.


Voice, Distant, Still Assembling                  Mark Irwin

Walking farther there, I am glad we
              age slowly, discovering now in memory
      similar frontiers of a physical world, visiting
as though for the first time
              ruins of a once great city, yet novel               

in the crumbling light. We trip 
and stumble, unaware, youthful in the obscurity
      of shadow, a kind of spring
in itself. Itself, where I touch places, gone, often
              confused to find a new home
not torn and built of green, but of a crumbling

orange, and there, there, as though walking
              through fire, taking pleasure in the fleeting
walls and lingering agoras, I glimpse
      ghost bodies and caress the flesh
              boats of their past as I walk toward
      what could be mountains or oceans, till finally
I am swimming through the lit window of a name. 


White Apples                           Donald Hall
when my father had been dead a week
I woke
with his voice in my ear
                                     I sat up in bed
and held my breath
and stared at the pale closed door

white apples and the taste of stone

if he called again

I would put on my coat and galoshes.


Trapeze                                                                           Larissa Szporluk

To float you must float from within.
You must not feel attached

as you brush past the body you loved,
an arm past an arm, an almost weightless vapor.

Don't ask questions anymore. Don't hear
his seismic voice. Fractures thread the floor;

time will energize their creep
until you're craving through his ceiling.

It's all a matter of containment,
held-in breath, the hidden table. Keep in mind

that dreaming up means waking down,
so keep your swing in limbo. Don't aim high:

Where air turns thin, the ear tears open
with a secret's restless heat,

surrending its recess — the details of explosion
fizzling in a tree, remembered now and then,

but not so well, by something on and off,
like fireflies—when pressure mounts behind it.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fluid Identities

My very first post on this blog, nearly four years ago, was about mishearing and misreading words. As I continue to have these experiences, I've been chronicling them in the Comments Section of that first post.

But today's mishearing is just too good not to offer it on its own. So here it goes:

Today I misheard "Gore Vidal" as

----------------------------------wait for it!-------------------------------------------

" Barbie Doll."


Thursday, November 27, 2014


To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
—Allen Ginsberg, WD


Raised Voice               Katie Ford

I had no craving. I heard sirens at night.
No craving, and a moon through the blinded window.
I listened to hymns and asked so much of them they quieted
like a body that withers when it feels itself
clung to. I was taught the body is deceptive.
The heart, deceptive.

Get out of me but stay with me, the city cried.
I had been looking up at the awnings with names,
trying to find a place for us. I am uncertain now,
but there was no moon. Shop lights on and off then off
for good. When Thomas asked to see the extent
of the wounded body, evidence
was consecrated as a holy request.
Evidence being that which screams its moment—
one need not even look.


One Dispensation    Elizabeth Whittlesey

Night has embalmed the trees in water turned
To ice. There could be sparrows hiding, where,
However, no flesh seems to know, the only
Aim the living sustain today is movement
Along the snow, to keep the motion steady.
Again, in the case of winter versus city,
Winter has beaten city, but with brutal
Softness, so that city lays herself down,
Though in a faux submission. She will play
The part this whiteness asks; they play this part
Together as they scan their muted pageant,
A blustery monument to themselves, (saying):
See how the slim bare branches bear the thickness
That afflicts them. See how the human tries
To navigate a scene where all distinction
Has been taken. See the shovel, hear how
It scrapes across the pavement in a rite
Of defiance. See them sow salt on paths,
Purged of the usual murmur of their thoughts
And voices. See they only seem to note
Their steps now, one after the other. See what
Happiness we have smothered on this city.


To Be Continued: A Parable                Samuel Hazo

It's like a play.
                     Or rather
   the revival of a play in which
   you're still the main character.
The set, the lighting and the stage
   are what they were, but not
   the cast.
                Different actors
   have the roles that other actors
   acted when the play first
         You make comparisons
   but then accept the differences
   as given.
                 Somehow you only feel
   secure in character but alien
   to all the others on the stage.
Their names will keep on changing
   as the run resumes with younger
   people in older roles.
                                 The script
   will stay the same.
                              You know
   your lines by heart but try
   to say them in a different voice
   each night.
                  The other actors
   say your character and you
   are one.
               Sometimes this seems
   a sentence, sometimes a challenge.
Either way you keep on playing
   your part.
                 You have no choice. 


Rhyme                           Robert Pinsky

Air an instrument of the tongue,
The tongue an instrument
Of the body, the body
An instrument of spirit,
The spirit a being of the air.

A bird the medium of its song.
A song a world, a containment
Like a hotel room, ready
For us guests who inherit
Our compartment of time there.

In the Cornell box, among
Ephemera as its element,
The preserved bird—a study
In spontaneous elegy, the parrot
Art, mortal in its cornered sphere.

The room a stanza rung
In a laddered filament
Clambered by all the unsteady
Chambered voices that share it,
Each reciting I too was here

In a room, a rhyme, a song.
In the box, in books: each element
An instrument, the body
Still straining to parrot
The spirit, a being of air.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Winter's Rattle

Rattle #46

I have new work out in Rattle, volume 46, a poem called "Wakening" about the loss of my uncle on Mt. McKinley. Thanks to Tim Green, who chose the cover art by James Bernal with a view to my poem.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Unalphabet is a new website featuring words prefixed with un-.

Check out Matt Rasmussen on 'unsuffering', Gertrude Stein on 'unwelcome', Natsume Soseki on 'unavoidable', and me on 'unmuddle'.

This is a great concept, one I can appreciate as an aficionado of the suffix -less, or, as the creator of offered, someone 'suffixated'.

Word lovers, enjoy this site.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Most artists are flawed; but they probably ought to make the effort not to be. But how do you teach people to enlarge themselves in order to enlarge their writing? You enlarge yourself because that is the kind of person you are. You grow because you are not content not to. You are like a beaver that chews constantly because if it doesn't, its teeth grow long and lock.
~Wallace Stegner 


Flesh                                                               C. McAllister Williams
I apologize to anyone. Ask me to buckle & I will
eat the moon. My teeth override my capacities.
All of them.

I'm sorry I'm not otherwise engaged—I don't
believe in harmony. & I'm sorry I'm not
sorry I'm not a more guttural member.
When we all sing, we wake a newborn.
There are complications—there are insides

that are softer than expected. I'm sorry expectation
polishes itself inside its temple. Ask me to repent
the future zealots & I'll repel any invader. When I'm
born, the whole world is born with me.

A solitude of the ear buoys the breath's answer     Joshua Corey
A solitude of the ear buoys the breath's answer
to smoke from autumnal fires. Gathered up,
gathered out, paper hearts and iron stoves.
Put on your hat and gloves, it's poignant out.
Carry your own chill separate from the air's.
Cradle fuel, stand stamping on the corner
ten years too late waiting for a blank beloved.
She comes in a furl of branches to cover
your eyes with mittened hands. Guess who?
But that's not how it happened, you never turned
to feast your eyes on vacancy. Instead
I'm still stamping snail-mail letters to the editor
and picking pomegranate seeds from my teeth.
Dwelling yet in dear ears deaf to my storms, my doing. 

You Are Not Christ                          Rickey Laurentiis

For the drowning, yes, there is always panic.
Or peace. Your body behaving finally by instinct
alone. Crossing out wonder. Crossing out
a need to know. You only feel you need to live.
That you deserve it. Even here. Even as your chest
fills with a strange new air, you will not ask
what this means. Like prey caught in the wolf’s teeth,
but you are not the lamb. You are what’s in the lamb
that keeps it kicking. Let it.


This is a mammal paleontologist’s nightmare, the dreaded “harmonica,” or a jaw without teeth. Without teeth, it’s often impossible to determine precisely what the creature is. 
~Interpretative Display, Minnesota Science Museum, St. Paul

************************************ cannot compare this present experience with a past experience. You can only compare it with a memory of the past, which is a part of the present experience. When you see clearly that memory is a form of present experience, it will be obvious that trying to separate yourself from this experience is as impossible as trying to make your teeth bite themselves.
~Alan Watts


Peach                                            Catie Rosemurgy

The head, the mouth, the fruit, the eating.
The pit, the teeth, the branch, the fall.
The wet, the swollen, the light, the seeing.
The picking, the washing, the cutting, the quartering.
The sweet, the having.

The juice. The holding it in your hands
beautiful and then ruined. The forms of devouring. The remaining empty.
What’s inside.

The excitement of the definite article. What’s inside
one thing is analogous to what’s inside another.
The ceremonial names

of what is done to them. What is unknown requires a new way of cutting.
What we’re left with.

How we make an object ours, make it disappear.
How we become the object and are food.
How we are delicious and dead at the center in so many ways.
How that is wrong and it is stillness, moon-like at the core.
How what we are is what reflects off it. How we are light produced earlier
by other things.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Themed Issues

When I see themed issues of journals or calls for submission to anthologies, I look through my work to see if I have something that fits, but I have never written for a specific market. However, this week I've seen three calls for submissions that have me considering doing just that. Here they are:

1) The Chattahoochee Review has a migration theme, which I think I mentioned earlier on this blog. If so, skip ahead to the next one.

"The Chattahoochee Review seeks submissions for its Fall/Winter 2015 double issue with a special focus on Migration. Literal and figurative translations of the theme welcome. Not only flight, but also movement; not only movement, but also kinetics; not only kinetics, but also conflict; not only conflict, but also arrival; not only arrival, but also immersion. Dare to be […]"

Deadline September 15 of next year. Lots of time to work on this one.

2) The National Museum of Animals & Society is looking for "poetry and visual art for poet-artist collaborations to appear in an upcoming exhibition on animals in poetry, entitled “The Poetic Animal,” opening in fall 2015. This first of a kind exhibit will focus on poems, and the visual presentation of poems, that represent animal subjects and animals’ subjectivities, and that explore human-animal relations and the human-animal bond."

Deadline January 10, 2015.

3) Body in D[ist]ress Anthology is project from Negative Capability Press "seeking work (Poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drama, hybrid work) for an issue on Health-Healing: Body in D[ist]ress. Think of the body in disarray, the body in costume, the body as text. We are also seeking artwork that would be related to this theme."

Deadline April 6, 2015.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Two Good Things & One Sad Thing

1. Undertow Tanka Review is open for submissions of (you guessed it) tanka, tanka art, and 10 submission, for their third issue.

2. My new passion is Roomful of Teeth, featuring (among others) Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw. You can stream their entire inaugural album here, and then if you like it as much as I do, you'll end up buying it.

Warning: Sad thing next.

"The Neurological Similarities Between Sucessful Writers and the Mentally Ill" by Cody C. Delistraty. Enough said.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Font

I'm happy to have a poem "shadow: dwelling:" (originally published in the Beloit Poetry Journal) in the latest issue of The Font - A Literary Journal for Language Teachers

Those of you who teach languages should check this journal out, and consider submitting in the future. This issue includes a hilarious piece of creative non-fiction by Kelly Quinn and an essay by Anna Cabe called "Studying the Public and Private in France."

Anything related to teaching foreign languages or living in a foreign culture is suitable material for this journal, so language teachers, here's a (relatively) new venue for your creative and scholarly work.

Monday, November 3, 2014

On Rage and Failure

In the past 12 hours, I have read two online articles that are worth passing on.

1) The first is an interview with Claire Messud at Guernica, including quotes from the novelist such as the following:

"There are, too, particular questions that seem to me more gendered. Questions of wanting to be an artist, and what does that mean, what makes you an artist? Are you an artist if you’re in a gallery in New York and not an artist if you’re doing it at home? Do you need legitimation to count? If you’ve been acculturated to believe that you have certain obligations—familial, social, human—if multitasking has been your forte and that’s what’s been praised and rewarded, where do you find the single-mindedness, the selfishness to do something like art? I think those are questions that arise differently for women and for men."

"Someone asked me, Is it hard to understand Nora’s rage? And I said, No, not at all. Nora’s rage is maybe different from mine. But I think if you had a Venn diagram there would be some overlaps. That first chapter was the first part I wrote and it came to me in a volley.

When we were in Germany [for a fellowship] I read from it and there was a Dutch anthropologist in his sixties and he came up to me afterwards and said when he was growing up he never saw his mother angry. Saturday morning was cleaning day and she would go upstairs and his father and the children would all be sitting in the kitchen and would hear her cursing at the top of her lungs while she was changing the beds and sweeping the floor. And then she would come back downstairs smiling, and they would all go on as if they hadn’t heard. They never spoke of it.
I think there’s a lot of rage that rises from always being the good one."

"The extent of her anger is directly commensurate with the grandeur of her hope. It’s the enormousness of her disappointment."

"I think there’s no question that there’s a reason why small children make great art and why slightly bigger children don’t. And it’s because small children don’t worry about what anybody else thinks and slightly bigger children start to worry about these things. So, we can call it selfishness, but I think these are often names that make us feel better: you know, wow, I would never be that selfish. But it certainly takes some single-minded commitment, whether that’s selfishness or selflessness I don’t know."

2) And this compilation of authors on failure, from The Guardian, including: 

"Art is made by those who consider themselves to have failed at whatever isn't art. And of course it is loved as consolation, or a call to arms, by those who feel the same. One of the reasons there seem to be fewer readers for literature today than there were yesterday is that the concept of failure has been outlawed. If we are all beautiful, all clever, all happy, all successes in our way, what do we want with the language of the dispossessed?"  Howard Jacobson

"Success as the worldly estimate it is, is rarely a subject for literature. Gatsby cannot possibly get Daisy. Dorothea Brooke cannot be allowed to change the world. Thus does art get its own back on those without the imagination to fail." Howard Jacobson

"The criticism, no matter how virulent, has long since ceased to bother me, but the price of this is that the praise is equally meaningless. The positive and the negative are not so much self-cancelling as drowned out by that carping, hectoring internal voice that goads me on and slaps me down all day every day." Will Self

Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Son Instructs Me on How to Attend His School Festival

"Bye, boys. See you later, at the festival."
"Bye, Mom. See you at the festival." That's my older son.

My younger son. "Mom? Today? At school? No hugging."
"And no patting me on the back."
"Or on the head....Or anywhere."
"Actually, touching. At school, no touching."
"And no singing."
"No singing?"
"You know. When people are performing on stage. No singing along."
"Anything else?"
"Just don't....don't....just don't do anything embarrassing."
"Okay.............Like what?"
(Insert long pause here.)
"Mom, it's good that you're coming to the festival. But maybe you should go home early."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

December Reading

I'll be participating in a reading on December 7th (Sunday), from 5 pm, at  Bar Iznt in Kobe. This is the inaugural event for a series called Authors Live! Other readers that evening will be Suzanne Kamata, Jared Angel, and Sue Sullivan (the others are not poets, so there will be a variety of genres for you to enjoy). Additionally, there will be a musical guest Steve Muller. This event is in conjunction with the journal The Font.

Although I'm billed as reading from The Insomniac's Weather Report, I'll also read a few selections from Mendeleev's Mandala, forthcoming from Mayapple Press in 2015.

Mark your calendar!

Friday, October 31, 2014


The Chattahoochee Review has a submissions call out on the theme of migration. For all my friends living abroad this is a natural fit; and for those who don't live abroad, I'm sure you've felt the winds of migration at some point in some way in your life. Check it out! Deadline of next September, so there's plenty of time to come up with some quality work.

The Night Migrations
by Louise Glück

This is the moment when you see again
the red berries of the mountain ash
and in the dark sky
the birds' night migrations.

It grieves me to think
the dead won't see them--
these things we depend on,
they disappear.

What will the soul do for solace then?
I tell myself maybe it won't need
these pleasures anymore;
maybe just not being is simply enough,
hard as that is to imagine.


from DEFINITIONS OF POETRY by Carl Sandburg

12. Poetry is a fossil rock-print of a fin and a wing, with an illegible oath between.
13. Poetry is an exhibit of one pendulum connecting with other and unseen pendulums inside and outside the one seen.
14. Poetry is a sky dark with a wild-duck migration


As darkness falls for real, it’s a beginner’s world again, the same evening as that day sixty million years ago when this migration began.   Richard Powers, The Echo Maker, p.3


from The Encyclopedia of the Stones:
a Pastoral                                                                 James Richardson

They do not believe in the transmigration of souls.
They say their bodies will move
as leaves through light.

Everything would be perfect if the atoms
were the right shape and did not fall down.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Got back last night from the Japan Writers Conference in Morioka, Iwate. Am scrambling to get home and family back in order and to get ready for work--too busy even to use subjects in my sentences!--so will get back to you on that later.

In the meantime, Kelly Jensen at the Book Riot blog has compiled 15 literary-themed jack-o-lanterns. Check them out!

nevermore pumpkin
by Tom Hundley on Flicker

Thursday, October 23, 2014


A Glittering                                            Sarah Manguso

One mourner says if I can just get through this year as if salvation comes in January.

Slow dance of suicides into the earth:
I see no proof there is anything else. I keep my obituary current, but believe that good times are right around the corner

Una grande scultura posse rotolare giù per una collina senza rompersi, Michelangelo is believed to have said (though he never did): To determine the essential parts of a sculpture, roll it down a hill. The inessential parts will break off.

That hill, graveyard of the inessential, is discovered by the hopeless and mistaken for the world just before they mistake themselves for David's white arms.

They are wrong. But to assume oneself essential is also wrong: a conundrum.

To be neither essential nor inessential—not to exist except as the object of someone's belief, like those good times lying right around the corner—is the only possibility.

Nothing, nobody matters.

And yet the world is full of love . . . 


". . .even when the universe made it quite clear to me that I was mistaken in my certainties, in my definitions, I did not break. The shattering of my sureties did not shatter me." ~ Lucille Clifton 


Two Sisters Swim in a Small Locked Box
By Malinda Markham

Sleepers dream of bandaged mouths and bright petals,
a static of bones and inelegant snow.

The night sparrow finally inhaled its own sound. What else
Could have happened? The vessel

was cardboard and twine. They should have strengthened
the moorings, should have cast

their own limbs of matter more promising
than flesh. One sleeper

mistakes a splinter for morning. The other curls
around a small jar of fear.

When the bough revoked its breaking,
the descent became nothing at all.

Two girls stood back to back, entwined.
The initial failure was a rocket-sound of wind. 
An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.  Niels Bohr 


Songs of a Girl
by Mary Carolyn Davies

God, planting Eden,
Dropped, by mistake, a seed
In Time's neighbor-plot,
That grew to be 
This hour?

You and I picked up Life and looked at it curiously;
We did not know whether to keep it for a plaything or not.
It was beautiful to see, like a red firecracker,
And we knew, too, that it was lighted. 
We dropped it while the fuse was still burning ...

I am going to die too, flower, in a little while--
Do not be so proud.

The sun is dying
On an island
In the bay.

Close your eyes, poppies--
I would not have you see death.
You are so young! 

The sun falls
Like a drop of blood
From some hero.

Who love pain,
Delight in this.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Insomniac Shovels Coal

Alison Taverna of Coal Hill Review (an imprint of Autumn House Press) really GETS my work. In a wonderful review of The Insomniac's Weather Report she has truly entered my world. This is a review that makes me feel heard, as when Taverna says, "Our world, our bodies, these poems, are fugues.? Thanks so much to Alison and to Christine Stroud.

Read the whole review here. YAY!