Monday, May 31, 2004

Feeding the Esquires

TB corrected me, pointing out that they're not technically esquires until they pass the bar. I thought that was what made them lawyers, I thought esquire came after law school. But what do I know? I have an MFA.

Anyhoo, TB and Alex (sister-in-law) were over today for our small family Memorial Day BBQ. It was raining, so we had to have it indoors.

Below are some pictures (including what we served -- I thought Tony might appreciate that). Speaking of Tony, I'm in the middle of reading his manuscript, lucky error, which is striking me as merciful and generous, a little like Amy Gerstler's poems. I'm liking them, so far.


Tender Buttons

Why am I folding laundry? Because I had to empty my dryer so TB could make use of it. I'm starting to think that's the only reason she ever visits.


Beef Kabobs

Rose-Shaped Chocolate Cupcakes

Saturday, May 29, 2004

The Games We Play

I wouldn't have pegged Junot Diaz as a role player/D&D type, but I don't think it's that unusual of an activity for a writer to do as a child. It's the desire to create places and characters, a desire most "creative" writers have. As a child I invented my own country and made myself ruler. Since I was the oldest in the neighborhood, it was easy to bully all the other kids into being my subjects. I guess I always was a control freak (tyrant) because eventually a coup (usually led by the traitorous mutineer, Tender Buttons) would ensue into a civil war.

There were other role playing games I invented, but looking back on them, they're kind of disturbing and say more than I'd like to share about myself here. But they seemed fun at the time. For me at least.

Friday, May 28, 2004

End of the Month

Means manuscript prep time. Contests. Contests. Contests. Bleh. Bleh. Bleh.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Just Received

Big Confetti by Shanna Compton & Shafer Hall. 45 out of 50. Whew, just squeaked by with that.

Beautiful chapbook with a little envelope taped inside. I checked to make sure there wasn't money or drugs inside, but it appears to be confetti. I might try smoking it anyway.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

One Week Anniversary

I'm doing a little better this week, only watched the series finale twice. Don't want to be that needy person who won't accept that it's over.

Think I'll stuff my sorrows with another burrito for dinner (third night in a row). I'm quite taken with this bachelor life. Dishes lounge on the steel beach of my kitchen sink.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Luna Park
(1905 – 1909)

When nothing better bubbled your kiln
You looked for entrance.
Why not? It was safe for you, the

Lions only ate women.
You saw castle and carousel
Never shades and shadows. She

Fastened her belt, endured the scenic
Railway until everything throbbed
Riot, licked cotton candy while you

Twirled the cardboard cone. You said
Shoot the Chute, she said
Temple of Mystery, you

Jumped the turnstile
Yelling after the trolley.
Desires vanish once you

Leave, it’s always different on return.
Rain checks bring ash, perhaps a fond
Brief flash, moonstruck girl

Breast stroke, mighty Monongahela.

"Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess." Oscar Wilde

I wish I could share what I've been working on today and the past couple weeks, but it's a secret and it's going to have to stay that way until it's ready. I suppose I could let it slip that it's naughty, but someone who's giving much appreciated assistance is recommending I tone it down so it can be taken seriously. Moderation is the key, right? Key to what?

Enough with the cryptic.

In other naughty news, I saw about 50 cicadas screwing today. Lust in the air. Or maybe it's near closing time and everyone's just grabbing whoever's willing. One thing I observed was that they had at least two different positions which I suppose is kind of nice for them.

In disappointing news, I got a rejection today. But at least it was timely. Nothing is worse that having an editor hold your work for many months or even a year, just to reject it.

In the sun will come out tomorrow news, my vegetarian burrito was fabulous yesterday and as soon as the thunderstorm blows over I'm headed back to Chipotle for another one.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Since It's Neat to Get Poems Dedicated


for Anthony Robinson

Who wants this boxcar
Waiting, these cardboard
Tubes? I think everyone
Wants each other’s
Arms, those error-filled limbs
Flailing everywhere but
Around us. They
Pull you in just so they can
Shove you away.
There’s something to be said for that
Whopping one person and its not
Chopped liver or potato salad or
Lemon asparagus.
Anthony, Tony, Antonio,
It’s all comparable, the
Enemy, the friend, the untrustworthy lover
Full of charm’s vandalism.
If you try to escape, they will
Betroth you to a Dewey Dell
Unsweet and looking for a fix.
Simple to spectacular. No, it’s
Scrawling all over a beautiful postcard and
Losing the return address. No, it’s always been the
Arms, inviting, full of loving harm.

Our Little Girl All Grown Up (and Officially Evil)

Tender Buttons, Esq.
Photo (and Border) Credit: Mother

Just Me and the Cats

Check out this cool poem Tony wrote. Thank you. I love it when people dedicate to me.

The Soft Hussy

Sunday, May 23, 2004


Tender Buttons is an esquire. Mother is on her way back to Pittsburgh. As is Dad and Barb. Chris is at the airport waiting for his flight to San Francisco. It's just me and the cats. I think I'm going to eat Chipotle for dinner every day this week.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Mother is here.

Friday, May 21, 2004

No Free Trip For Me

Chris just got word that Worldcom . . . er MCI, in an attempt to save costs, cancelled the awards ceremony for the "elite Chairman's Inner Circle" (trying not to roll my eyes when I write that -- didn't Angel and his crew wipe them all out in the series finale?). Hey, I understand, it's tough to keep money in ole bank account when you have to constantly pay out multi-million dollar golden parachute packages to executives who've been with the company for a whopping 6 months. Like one time, I spent $180 on a pair of Coach sandals which meant I couldn't buy food or pay my electric bill. I spent the week walking around in the dark muttering, "I might not be able to see, but I think I'm getting thinner. Vogue pose!" OK, see that's a lie. I got a big tax check last month, paid all of my bills and then splurged on a pair of frivolous shoes (that I believe to have magical powers) -- they literally make me 5 inches taller.

Oh and no, I don't have an MBA or business degree or anything like that but I could understand how my example of money management might lead you to believe that.

So, no Puerto Rico for us in July. That's OK, I didn't want to hang out with a bunch of his work dorks anyhow. Freakin' nerds.

Another Way to Piss Away Your Time

For some reason, Chris put together a live feed of pictures bloggers post on Live Journal. Hit the reload button every minute or so for an update. Some disturbing shit. Beware of doing this at work, sometimes an obscenie slips through.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Peer Pressure

Got an unexpected call from Kelly this evening. She's bummed because she can't make the retreat and is already talking about doing one next year. Hell, why wait a full year, we should do these twice a year. I'm always trying to escape and I only have cats. But hey, Kel, you should start a blog like the rest of us lonely freaks -- it can be your child-free zone. You could call it "Kelly's Bubble Bath." Calgon, take you away!

One Down, One to Go

Brent is confirmed for the retreat. He's flying into D.C. and we'll drive up to Vermont together. I commented on how we'll be just like Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis. Then I remembered how much I hated that fucking movie.


Yes, I did get out of bed this morning. Everything is going to be OK. I just need to keep telling myself that.

I'm finishing up reading Border of a Dream: Selected Poems by Antonio Machado (translated by William Barnstone). I still haven't wrote the review for that or the Nichita Danilov book, but I will tonight (crossing fingers). Also have to make a pair of chandelier earrings for a customer so I can clear off all the beading stuff from my dining room table. My mother is arriving Saturday for Tender Button's commencement. Oh yeah, and house cleaning and grocery shopping, I need to be doing a bunch of that. I should get a t-shirt that says "Bad Housewife." Do I consider myself a "housewife" someone once asked? I don't know, I'm married, I write and run my jewelry business from home. I'm a wife who doesn't drive to an office every morning. Make your own call, I don't really care. I refer to myself as a "poet" and that gets me enough bizarre glances so I'm not too sensitive. Call me a "kept woman" if it makes you feel superior. Just don't refer to my "life of leisure" like a certain family member once did. That pisses me off.

Now back to my "secret" project. Hopefully I'll have something to announce later this summer.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Off Vermont

Wasn’t a leaf that didn’t
Smack her face on the way out as she
Sped across the green humps
There were road signs, sharp turns,
Interstates, omissions and a legacy of mock repose
All clearly marked so even girls could understand,
This one kept her gaze on the pretty man’s chin, felt
Sing-song wisps streaming through her hair
Down her spine, gripping her hips
Bird songs or flashbacks, is there such a translation?
Do lovers ever love? Of course not, too obvious
Better luck next time, oh wait, there is no next time, next in line, move along
Oh, don’t worry, I’m going
Didn’t stop for syrup, wheels spat out
Wry pine cones, provocation, there it was,
Lay down and be crushed, thank you, that was nice
Crossing that turf was breech without epidural
Without child after ordeal
New York or Massachusetts, the only options, she
Deserved nothing more; two more locations to
Pretend, for just a while, she’s not tone deaf
Small thoughts produce tiny tears and hers were
Specks and plenty and wouldn’t wipe

Who Will Be My Champion Now?

Today is a very emotional day. This evening is the series finale of Angel. I'm already weepy, didn't want to get out of bed this morning and I'm thinking about crawling back in and spending the afternoon drooling into my pillow. But I'm not going to do that. I have to be strong. I had a life before Angel, albeit a meaningless one, surely there's a life for me afterwards. I survived the end of Buffy (but only because I had Angel to fill the void). I hate television executives. I hate them more than I hate people who throw their cigarette butts out their car windows on the highway, almost as much as I hate Satan's toe jam, Bono.

I was going to change my blog background to black to signify my mourning, but I see Matthew has already done that and I wouldn't want to step on his toes (but I feel your pain, man, I really really do).

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Well, Hello Brent!

How nice of you to stop by, I've only been writing about you here all freakin' month!

Brent promises a defense of hero-worship. Baited breath, baby, baited.

Response to Wicked, Excellently

In the aviary tonight the birds
loom over the salt estuaries of your manuscript.
The birds forgive your head lodged in Dean Young’s crotch,
your swallowing that bereft projectile
for who does not pretend, at least once in awhile,
they drink the nectar of angels?
Remember what Lorca said,
“When the angel sees death, he flies in
slow circles and weaves tears of narcissus and ice
into the elegy. . . how it horrifies him to feel even the
tiniest spider on his tender rosy foot!”
So wipe your lips, you’ve had your fill,
taken in all the nutrients available,
tit or dick, you’ve sucked enough,
Red rover, Red rover
this love fest is over.

The miles have sculpted your muse,
licked her lean, consumed the fat of her lamp,
I’m not interested in the muse, but I am interested in the poet
possessing one, “Poets who have muses hear voices and
do not know where they are coming from . . .
The muse awakens the intelligence . . . but
intelligence is the enemy of poetry . . . he
forgets that ants could eat him or a great arsenic
lobster could fall suddenly on his head.”
Lovers are lousy at racquet sports and lovers
are horrible and always make us goofy.
“In poetry this struggle for expression and
communication is sometimes fatal.”

So let’s give up, no let’s not, let’s
fight to the death and suffer and die in every poem
we write from here on and on.
Let’s dash any lines of hope that sneak into our stanzas
stamp them to dust.
Oooooh, pretty, pretty sky,
full of birds and angels
we no longer choke,
die die die
our struggle, our salvation.

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Monday, May 17, 2004

Shells and Corpses

The cicadas are indeed out and about in my neighborhood. Judging by their chirping, they're congregating at the nearby golf course. I only found one living one, but there were plenty of bodies and empty shells about. So I've finally seen one in person. One more thing I can check off the list of things to do this lifetime.

Speaking of Horrible Dreams

Last week Chad asked me to retell my Bill Clinton dream, but I was busy and forgot so I'll post it here for everyone's psychoanalysis. This dream was pretty horrible, but not my usual "Oh shit, I'm going to be torn to shreds" horrible dream. I dreamt this in early 1993 right after Clinton took office for his first term (pre Paula/Monica scandal, post Gennifer):

I was in the crowd at a political rally where Clinton was speaking, he made eyes at me and motioned to meet him in the nearby alley, which I did. We started making out, but Hillary was around and he didn't want to get caught so he suggested that we "go upstairs." Upstairs was my bedroom at my father's house. I promptly disrobed and reclined back on my bed, closed my eyes and thought "This is so cool, I'm going to have sex with the president." But something didn't feel right, I opened my eyes to see that he was peeing on me! I jumped up, shocked and appalled I ran into the bathroom and started showering. He followed me into the bathroom and in a very heavy southern accent asked "What's wrong? What's wrong?" I screamed in a shrill hysterical voice "That wasn't what I agreed to do!"

That's all I remember. But what was horrible about this dream was that I woke up really angry and for a few weeks I couldn't even watch the president on television because it was so upsetting.

When Wesley Clark was still in the presidential race, I had a dream about him, but it was very different kind of dream. We were in sleeping bags on a gymnasium floor and holding hands. We looked into each other's eyes and smiled. There was lots of smiling. It was very sweet.

The next day I donated $250 to his campaign.


My numerology report for today:

May 17: You're more sensitive and intuitive than usual. You may find yourself having vivid dreams or even premonitions. Today you may wear the hat of mediator in a dispute, and you'll do so with great success. Love and romance are also likely to have an effect on you today.

I often have vivid dreams and today was not any more vivid or memorable than usual -- but maybe I'll take a nap this afternoon and see what happens. Last week my sister and I were discussing dreams and she mentioned how during her freshman year in college she was freaked out because she had three bad dreams in the same year. I told her I have at least three bad dreams a week and at least one or two really horrible dreams a month. We found each other's experiences bizarre. She also said that she's constantly kicking ass in dreams like she's a powerful warrior. I don't think I've ever had a dream where I was powerful --in fact, I find it hopeful when I'm able to escape or help other's escape the grips of the big bad murdering man. In dreams, when I try to fight or hurt people, I'm always very ineffective.

My astrologer attributed this to Saturn being in my 12th house, I've collected a legacy from other generations and past lives which is why I always feel like something is wrong or missing when things appear to be fine. At any rate, I don't really mind the bad dreams, but I do mind the horrible ones.

On another note, I think I hear cicadas, but haven't found any near my house. Will investigate further.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Speech Less

I understand the desire not to come off as stiff and pompous when giving a speech and nobody appreciates a sense of humor more than me. But still, one should consider being "occasion specific" when speaking at such events. Case in point, as family members, we didn't drive 10+ hours, willingly sit on too-close folding chairs in the ungodly humidity for over 2 hours so we could hear some faculty member extol the virtures of William Hung (from American Idol) and then break out into his own shitty singing. It's not funny, it's not bearable and fails to prove the point that it's OK to make a fool of oneself. It wasn't OK. OK?

Now I'm really dreading the next weekend's commencement. Sorry, Tender Buttons. If someone breaks out into song, I may go ape shit.

On another note, yesterday I mentioned "moon pies." I meant "whoopee pies" -- totally different dessert.

Saturday, May 15, 2004


The Hampton Inn in Bow, N.H. has wireless Internet access. Gotta love that. They also have a laptop tray to use in bed. I have to get myself one of these.

What a exhausting drive. Looking forward to moon pies tomorrow at the graduation party. Then the long drive back Sunday.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Gone Fishing

I'm leaving Friday morning for Concord, N.H. for my sister-in-law's law school graduation ceremony. Next weekend will be my sister's law school graduation ceremony. In a matter of months (hopefully) they'll pass the bar which means I'll have two lawyers in the family. So don't fuck with me.

I'll be back Sunday evening. Toodles.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


At least I know I'm not imagining stuff disappearing from my template:

Hi Reb,

This problem may be due to a bug that we seeing with Blogger where sometimes part of the template may be truncated. Our engineers are aware of this problem and working actively to resolve it. I would suggest that you save a copy of your template to your computer in case you run into this problem again.

We really appreciate your input. Thanks for using Blogger.

Blogger Support

When you're done fixing that, send your engineers over to India to give the techinical team at Cyberastro a hand. My monthly report for May is still not ready. I've been leaving my house on a daily basis without any idea what to prepare for.

Dear Rebecca,

Thanks for your mail.

I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to you. We are facing some technical problem because of which you are facing these problems. Our technical team is looking into the matter and soon they will rectify the error.

Kindly bear with us.

With Warm Regards
Mona Chadha
Customer Support Executive

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Speaking of Fowl

It occurred to me this afternoon that I'm frightened of geese. Today on the path I was walking on there were two big geese and their baby gooselet plopped down like it was their living room. I tried to walk around as far away as I could, but of course they were threatened and hissed and spat at me. On my way back they were still there so I backtracked and went around. Damn it, these are Canadian geese, they aren't even supposed to be here in Virginia. Go home Yankees!

Everything is Ducky

Got some nice news this morning from Tom Hartman. DUCKY will publish two of my poems ("Sink the Girl" and "When the Moment Turned") in their next issue (slated for September). I just hope that issue's cover art will be as cool as the current one.

New Journal

Does anyone actually completely fill up all the pages of their writing journals? I usually fill up half the book and then decide my work is going in another direction and I can't possibly continue using the current one. Today I purchased a plain black journal with blank pages because the lines in my current brown leather journal were driving me "nuts" which is ironic, because the green leafy journal with the inspirational message on the front that I was using before (graduation gift from my mother-in-law) had blank pages that drove me "nuts." I guess there's no pleasing me. What I like about this new journal is that it has big rings and I can fold the covers over and use it like a clip board instead of an open book. That makes it easier to write. Also, I can easily rip the pages out if in the throes of creativity I write something incriminating that can be used in a court of law. Or when I discover I've been daydreaming again and have written "Mrs. Reb Bon Jovi" 500 times.

I also picked up a color postcard with a photo of Paul Newman from 1964. It's a few years after my favorite Newman film, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), but close enough. Sometimes I buy his spaghetti sauce and I don't even care for it that much. It reminds me of this boy from 2nd grade who brought in his jar of Terry Bradshaw brand peanut butter. An item that was probably only available locally in Pittsburgh, if I had to guess. (For those of you who don't know, Terry Bradshaw was the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 70's and early 80's, when they won 4 Super Bowls.) That little boy was so proud of his peanut butter! I guess I'm the same way with my jars of Paul Newman sauce. His salsa is OK, for jarred salsa. I buy that sometimes too.

Some Souls Live to Party

Everyday I've been out looking, but I haven't seen a single cicada. Supposedly they've started to emerge here in D.C. Has anyone seen one yet? I've never have and I don't remember them in 1987 while living Pittsburgh. I'm sick of all this talk, I want to see one.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Talk About a Phatback

Al making friends with the protesters at the 2000 Presidential Inauguration


I'm getting really annoyed with stuff (like my google ads, site meter link, other changes I made to the template) randomly disappearing.

Tyranny of Fabric

From Brent's "yesnomaybe" (a verse novella):

. . . still her voice
echoes in your head like a demented nursery-rhyme:
Red rover, red rover, tell asshole it's over.

Almost finished reading his manuscript and I think he should call it either Wicked Homage or, my preference, The Tyranny of Fabric. Maybe my next manuscript will be called The Tyranny of Panty Hose.

Brent's currently commenting on my manuscipt and suggested that we write reviews of each other's in the form of poems. If mine don't suck too hard, I'll post them here. I started re-writing some Bon Jovi Lyrics for Brent. To be sung to the tune "It's My Life:"

This ain't a poem for the broken-brented
No silent prayers for the homeless poet

Ok, that's all I got so far, but it's the thought.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Swimming Pool

While I'm up into the wee hours mucking this up, I might as well mention that I saw Swimming Pool this weekend and really enjoyed it. I especially liked the slow pace the movie took, a great relief from Friday night's hubby pick, Van Hesling. BLAAAHHHHH! I used to think I liked Hugh Jackman, but now I realize, I like him as the character "Wolverine" from X-Men and that's about it. Just like my heart only goes pitter patter for Vin Diesel in Pitch Black and Russell Crowe in Gladiator. Lucky for me, they're doing prequels for both of those movies.

So now you have a good idea of the kind of men I like: angry, brooding, and hmm . . . kind of violent. Well, that just "movie men," right?


Blogger now offers built in comments, so I guess there's no more need for me to use Squawkbox anymore. Maybe I'll manually link to the the old comments in the previous posts if I get around to it. I know I'm not going to do it tonight.

Goofing Around

Oooh, all kinds of crazy new templates and offerings. I'm goofing around, so if stuff looks funny, please bear with me.

Friday, May 07, 2004


Brunch with Cordelia

Wicked meals cost, so we’re
Not eating the bacon strips
Not ordering coffee, not
Buttering our toast
Swine so sweet
We weep over
Pancakes, those aren’t our cruel
Breasts steeping in syrup, those
Ragged muffins are not our morning kisses
Crusted and ignored
Yesterday we were poolside, dancing
Sugar canes whisking mojitos
This can’t be our eulogy
What about the quest for our
Hearts and minds?
Didn’t anyone bother sending a search party?

Why I'm Not a Painter

My latest work at Mr. Picassohead

Thursday, May 06, 2004

It's A-OK When You Dedicate to Me

From Brent's poem "Christmas Comes, a Train Wreck" (For Rebecca Livingston -- Woo-hoo!)

. . . Incite your kissings at the neighbors, and
leave me like Frost to ponder
a more permanent solace:
snowbank under a field of stars,
last breath an angel
with a clear shot at heaven.
But I have miles to run before I sleep,
and even thought I look great in blue,
I won't put on that suit tonight!


This is cool for two reasons. One, it's about Christmas and that's my birthday (in these parts we call it Rebeccamas) and that makes me happy -- even if the speaker is thinking suicide on that day. I know, I know, it's always all about me, isn't it? Two, it references my poem, "Nostalgia," (a tender retelling of an uncle instructing little children on the best way to kill themselves):

. . . Leave the planet as you arrived,
with a soft bluish tinge to your skin.
Try not to quiver; sing a nursery rhyme while she does her work.
The warmer you get,
the closer you’ll be.

Now all this manuscript needs is a little skullfucking and it'll be perfect.


Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Heads Up, Tender Buttons

I will be expecting a gift for our two month Borgata anniversary on May 7-8. So when you come by Saturday afternoon, don't show up empty handed like you did last month.

The fruits of my drinking and gambling until 6:30 a.m:

10:00 a.m.
Photo Credit: Erica


Thank You!

Yesterday readers clicked on the Google AdSense ads at least 13 times (the reporting lags a few hours, so this number may change). That's an 8.4% click rate and has earned me $1.79. That's more than I earned for my poetry for all of 2003. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Improved Yoga Tuesday

This week's class was much better than last week's. It wasn't crowded and I got my spot in the corner that I like. Today the instructor ended the class with this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote:

"God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please; you can never have both."

Still trying to figure out my choice.

Click 'Em!

So far I've earned: $14.57 with Google AdSense. Oh please generous souls, click those ads on the left column. Mama needs the tax write-off!

Monday, May 03, 2004


Almost Took a Lover Once

He was dark brilliance and moans
(his moans, girlish and dusk, yet I gushed)
He tried to take me to his room
(for he had succeeded, others, redundant)
He tried to get into mine
(he was pleasing, so pleasing, he fissured my mind)
He warned he would snore
(I insisted he keep his shirt on, he was shade, he agreed)
His black hairs snagged the fibers of my gown
(if I was murdered, he would have been the only suspect)
For like I said, he was dark and brilliant and when
Daylight came, my freckles began to dawn
He turned spectral and forgot quick enough



Sorry to hear about Oakley, Mike. I had a cat die on me once, actually she was a kitten and I only had her for two weeks or so. I came home from work, found a trail of blood that led behind a laundry basket. There was sweet little Bonnie, stiff as a board, so they say. I must have been hysterical because the vet kept telling me to "get a hold of myself."

They could never tell me for sure why she died, they gave some generic "heart defect" reason.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

The Seemliness of Hero Worship

Shanna brought up a good point in the comments on my last post. She asked, "We all imitate and gush, consciously or not. But are you talking about "seemliness"? With or without scare quotes? A dedication or an "after So-and-So" or an epigraph is subtle and appropriate, whereas out-and-out hero worship can be embarassing, like hollering about the New Kids on the Block in the mall."

This reminds me of what I considered to be an appalling display of hero worship by my fellow creative writing students at Carnegie Mellon. Allen Ginsberg came to speak to us. I knew of Allen Ginsberg meaning I knew he was referred to as a "beat poet" and I had read "Howl" and a handful of other poems. But that was about it. Oh yeah, and the idea of him giving a talk to us drove certain students into a mad frenzy of excitement. It wasn't that I thought Ginsberg himself was "unworthy," I thought any human unworthy of such hysteria.

This is all I remember from the Ginsberg talk:

Ginsberg standing in the pit of Adamson auditorium behind a podium wearing a suit, not looking dirty or depraved as I had expected.

I was sitting next to Eugene.

Non-stop hooting and hollering from a handful of students. "We love you Allen!" "I wanna have your baby." etc.

Ginsberg not acknowledging any of these outbursts.

During the question and answer period, one student asked, "What is it like to be Allen Ginsberg?" He asked her to clarify what she meant. She continued, "You're Allen Ginsberg, yet you shit." (I wish I had a picture of my cringe at that moment.) Ginsberg's response, "In the mornings, I don't feel so good . . " and then he ran down a long list of health ailments he suffered from. (This is when I finally realized he was a cool guy and my "issue of seemliness" had nothing to do with him at all.)

So what did Ginsberg say in his talk? For the life of me, I couldn't even begin to tell you. I'm quite ashamed to say I have no idea. All I remember is being disappointed with my peers. I didn't even stick around for his reading that evening. I had "big" plans in D.C. that weekend and figured I'd just see him read another time. He died three years later.

The fact is I let my distaste for other's hero worship ruin a rare chance to hear a great poet speak (and possibly share some very useful wisdom, maybe something I could use today). So who was the biggest ninny? The Ginsberg groupies or me? I bet the groupies still remember what he had to say.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

What I'm Reading Right This Minute

Just received: Brent Terry's revised manuscript, Wicked, Excellently.

Only into page 3 -- first question, does beginning the manuscript with a Dean Young quotation and placing a poem second in order with the lines, "What I thought was a heart attack was only/one of Dean Young's trees sprouting from my chest" and "Things were never the same after Hendrix -- after Dean Young" come off as reverence for an admired contemporary poet or kind of groupie-ish? It's easy to honor the dead this way, death brings mythic proportions. Hendrix=God. People won't argue with that. But are we supposed to honor souls still living in flesh this way? Aren't we supposed to ignore the living and focus on what we missed out on, the things we can never touch or change? I'm aware of how fucked up this sounds, I'm trying to figure out why I grimace when Brent serves up these kinds of pieces. I like Dean Young's work a lot. I wrote a poem called "Death of the Junkies" in response to his "Lives of the Inventors." It doesn't appear that I have a problem with inspiration or influence by the living. So what's my deal?

In December, after getting one of these poems, I gave Brent an assignment. I said, "I want you to kick Dean Young in the balls in your next poem. It doesn't have to be literally, but why don't you pretend that you're a Gemini and turn on him, stab him in the back, mock him, toss some feces at him. You've put him too high up on the pedestal. Knock him off. You can revert back to your usual status after the assignment, but I think it might be a useful exercise. The man is too young and too alive to be receiving so many homages! Pretend he's [name deleted of some poor young writer who was built up by critics just so they could tear him down] and go snarky on his ass. Break free of your Dean love affair. You can always go back."

Brent never wrote that poem, if he did, he never shared it with me.

On a practical note, I worry this tribute might be off-putting to editors or first round readers, but that's probably not the kind of reading I should be giving my friend's manuscript, or is it? Brent has every intention of finding a publisher for it. Am I the only one with the "wait 'til he's dead before painting that mural" view of the world?

I'll go back to reading now.