Friday, April 30, 2004

Why I Don't Offer to Help Sam Move Anymore

Obviously I have nothing of my own to share today. Luckily, others do.

From Sam's blog:

"After a couple months of no signs of life, I closed up and sealed the box, feeling sad.

Then, almost a year later, it was time to move again, this time to New Jersey, I had a bunch of friends over to pack and help me move. Rebecca picks up the Ritz box, starts to say "What is in here?" but before I can answer she opens the box. It opens suddenly, and a cloud of white powder explodes out onto her face. It was sawdust! Harvey had been alive, and had eaten away much more of the wood! Poor Harvey had been locked inside the sealed box, and ate and ate like crazy, but couldn't escape, and ran out of air! Poor Harvey, I had killed Harvey! I felt aweful!

But Rebecca did not feel concerned about Harvey at all. She was all upset because she had just inhaled a cloudfull of sawdust, bug droppings and perhaps bug parts and bug eggs. Which I suppose I could understand... but HARVEY WAS DEAD! And I had killed Harvey! It was sad."

The Truth of Bourgeois Gardens

From Peterb:

"Once the reader is lured to begin the book, there is no respite. It begins with an almost Tarantinoesque shock of bloody violence:

Ten little ladybugs, sitting on a vine.
Along came a butterfly, then there were....

and when the reader turns the page, of course, they will find the word "nine," and the first of the harmless ladybugs has been consumed by the innocently smiling butterfly. The phrasing of the poem, an homage to Agatha Christie's classic suspense thriller Ten Little Indians, is both calculated and cruel. As in that grim, humourless work, there is no detective come to save the day here; no Pea weevil Poirot to stop the slaughter and accuse the guilty. All there is here is death, senseless and brutal.

Nine little ladybugs, skipping on a gate
Along came a caterpiller, then there were eight."

Tinsel Teeth

Most popular search phrase to get to my main site in April:


Don't ask, I have no idea.

Looking forward to April being done with.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

What I'm Reading Now

Border of a Dream: Selected Poems by Antonio Machado translated by Willis Barnstone (Copper Canyon Press).

Last lines of "From sea to sea between us is the war"

The war has cut a trench between our love.
Here is death's agony: sterile shadow
of a high fire and the dreamed honey of

a love that came to us in life too late
Our love's hopeless blossom on a bough
that now has felt the ax's flozen blade.

From "Songs"

Spring has come.
No one knows how.

From Proverbs and Songs

Out of what people call
virtue, justice and goodness to all,
one half of it is envy
and the other isn't charity. . .

. . . 21
Last night I dreamed I saw
God, and was talking to God,
and dreamed that God heard me.
Then I dreamed I was dreaming.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Have You Seen These Men?

If so, please throw your hardest rabbit punch and yell "Retreat! You need to go on that retreat! Your poems weep for retreat!"

Wow, I bet someone could write a lot of poems in a place like this. Oh look, a deck, what possibly could we drink on that deck? Did someone say linens provided? BBQ!

Staying Out of Trouble

CyberAstro warns that today will be negative and I should keep a low profile:

You may not be in a stable mood today. There may be too many things on your mind. You will be in a much better frame of mind tomorrow. If there is any important work today it will be best to postpone it. Too much of irritation and impatience may plague your otherwise genial disposition.

AstroCenter confirms my unfavorable stars:

When you woke up this morning, you may have felt an oppressive mood hanging in the air. Unfortunately, that haze of misunderstanding and conflict is likely to last all day. However, it makes this an ideal time to speak up about anything that's bothering you! Don't be shy about going on the warpath today. If you don't, Rebecca, you're likely to be the target of a surprise attack.

So if you don't hear from me today, it's either because I'm still in bed or in the kitchen mixing poison with the fruit punch. A surprise attack . . . why the fuck do I read these things anyway?

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Not Writing About Sam Today

This morning in yoga class (while I was doing my best not to get my tyrant on when a gaggle of ladies showed up 10 minutes late, squeezed their asses into my personal space and took my spot by the wall. Hey, I show up on time so I can get a spot, try having a little consideration and doing the same, OK? And you're not doing yourself any favors with that straw-yellow dye job either, yeah, I wanted to be Lita Ford too, in 1988), where was I? Oh yeah, this morning in yoga while I was exuding the sunshine from my heart (Sunshine? Florida? No, I'm not talking about my intense depression over Sam dumping me for gainful employment, no, this is not what I'm talking about today.) Ok, this morning, in yoga class while I was exuding the sunshine from my heart, I was thinking (and trying not to cringe everytime the teacher said something cheesy, like "reach for that Tiffany diamond, ladies." God damn it, I'm trying to shine my light from within, let's not get all materialist here, how about "reach for those testicles and . . ." No, that's not going to work either, how about we just stay silent and focus, just this once.)

This morning, in yoga class, while I was exuding the sunshine from my heart, I was thinking how fortunate I am to be friends with poets who so willingly take the time to read and comment on my poems and manuscript. Thank you Brent, swan is way better than albatross. Thank you Allyson, all I ever wanted was for you to like me. No rush.


Monday, April 26, 2004

Choking the Chicken

Below is the last few lines of a poem I've been working on for the past week. There's a ridiculous albatross that I need to get rid of (sometimes I can be a bit too dramatic, even for my tastes). Anyhow, it's about falling in love with an idea:

. . . Pecking sightless us fools humoring fantasia

Here I am, spare one moment more, spy my

Tripping over the sneering paper trail of testimony and exhibits

Palms cupping chin, teeth shattering on tile, throat

Choking on shards of hope and the preposterous

Loving you years prior introduction

Science is Hard

Obviously I'm still down about Sam jilting me for the sunshine state since he's all that I've been writing about about all week. So why stop now, here's a link he sent me this morning from the Japan Times:

""Love," he said, "is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives." (And then there's a bunch of stuff about MRIs)

I've been thinking, to escape loneliness, people fall in love with the flesh (Chad), and people fall in love with the soul/spirit (some people refer to this as "personality") and then there's the folks that fall in love with an idea. This is how we love people before we ever meet them. In fact, it's preferable that they not even be around so they don't conflict with and muck up the idea. The thing about falling in love with an idea is that it's entirely generated by the person doing all the loving. So is this just another way of loving ourselves? That doesn't sound like much of an escape, it sounds like a trap.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Drowning the Sorrows

Our last hurrah

Saturday, April 24, 2004

House Cooling

I'll be headed to Philadelphia in a couple hours for Sam's House Cooling Party. After that, it'll be official, my best quasi-local friend has left me for a job in Florida. Florida ain't local. I don't even much care for Florida. Perhaps I'll put an ad out for a new quasi-local friend: "Must live within four hour driving distance. Must buy me stuff off of my Amazon Wish List for birthday. Must send me 5-20 e-mails a day. Must accept my non-stop, cold and constant criticism regarding life choices and fashion sense. Must accept 1-2 late night ranting telephone conversations per year." Where am I going to find a friend like that in this economy? I'm doomed to the life of a spinster.

Sam and Reb in simplier times

Friday, April 23, 2004

Our Little Sam Becomes a Man

Probably the final comment on the subject of romantic friendships.

Sam says:

"I imagine I did understand. In which case I partially agree with you. Harry is pretty much correct in his conversation with Sally on this topic.

Of course, Rebecca points out the "romantic" thing and says not to forget that. You are correct in that it is not just strong emotional feelings, which would of course include strong negative feelings as well, but has to be something a bit different. Is strong positive feelings enough? No, probably not, because as you point out, that can include the types of feelings one has for siblings or children or whatnot.

But OK, can it be romantic without being sexual? Hmmm. I'm sure it can be romantic without being ACTUALIZED in a sexual way, but can it be romantic without some degree of non-platonic urges, even if not acted on? I'm not sure. I think to truly be "romantic" there has to be a component of pair-bonding that is associated with the biological urges related to sex (if not sex itself). Otherwise, is it really romantic, and not one of the other types of love? Those urges might be repressed or not acted on for whatever reason, but if they are not there at all, then I'm not sure calling it romantic would really be a fair characterization."

BTW, I mostly agree, I do think the urges have to be there.

Million Monkeys Rewriting Shakespeare

From Nichita Danilov's essay "In the Author's Cell" (translated by Sean Cotter):

"The theory demonstrates, among other things, the superiority of the human species. The monkeys working would need a million years, while Hamlet was written by one man and over a short period of time, infinitesimal when compared to the cosmos."

Thursday, April 22, 2004

RFs, [cont.]

Sam responds to Chad's comment:

"I took the quotes to mean "love", if such a thing actually exists at all. . .

"As opposed to "love", in the sexual sense. . .

"Because if that's what you mean, then you are just saying "I can't imagine sexual love without sex" which doesn't really say anything about the sort of relationship Rebecca is talking about.

"But I gather what you mean is you can't imagine having strong emotional feelings for a non-related female that do not have a sexual component. Right?"

Chad's response:

"Exactly.  I guess you understood all along, and were just busting my gonads."

My response:

Let's not forget about the whole "romance" component, which is different than "strong emotional bonds". I have strong emotional bonds with you, Sam, but our relationship is along the lines of bossy big sister/pesky little brother. Nothing romantic about that. A romantic friendship is different than a close friendship. Take for instance, my fictional romantic friendship with Jon Bon Jovi. We correspond a few times a month in the form of glorious love letters. He expounds on how holding his new guitar is just like me singing in his arms. I tell him how on a walk I spotted a daffodil that reminded me of the highlights in his hair. Occasionally we meet and give each other pedicures and then snuggle watching our favorite movie, Gladiator. We both share the utmost respect for the romantic warrior and appreciate how Maximus cannot consummate his feelings towards the beautiful Lucilla. This is because we can never consummate our feelings because I'd never tap a rock star for fear of contracting an STD and the whole "I'm married so I don't fuck" thing. We'll continue our romantic friendship for decades, until one of us passes. The other will appear at the funeral and can weep openly for there is no guilt to be had.

Unless you follow Kirk Cameron's brand of the Ten Commandments, if that's the case you might as well tap that because you've already broken every commandment and God is very very angry with you.

What I'm Reading Now

I'm finishing reading a fascinating translation by Sean Cotter of Romanian poet, Nichita Danilov. The book is Second-Hand Souls published by Twisted Spoon Press. These are beautifully surreal poems that say much in such a simple fashion. I'll be reviewing this book for NewPages so I'll save the rest of my comments for that. But below is a sampling of some lines from my favorite poems:

From "Second-Hand"

In the city evening flows gently
the souls emerge from the second-hand store

In the churches all the icons
are blown against the walls
the saints spin upside down:
with blood-covered clothes
over his bare shoulders
the last Christ sprints away

From "Crucifixion"

Father, I bit into our bread
our daily bread
and I found a tooth.
So I'm asking you, Father:
What kind of bread is this?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Aw fuck

Poets Die Young - U.S. Study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Poets die young -- younger than novelists, playwrights and other writers, a U.S. researcher said on Wednesday

It could be because poets are tortured and prone to self-destruction, or it could be that poets become famous young, so their early deaths are noticed, said James Kaufman of the Learning Research Institute at California State University at San Bernardino. . .

We become famous young?

. . . ""What I found was pretty consistent with the death finding actually, female poets were much more likely to suffer from mental illness (e.g., be hospitalized, commit suicide, attempt suicide) than any other kind of writer and more likely than other eminent women," he said.

"I've dubbed this the 'Sylvia Plath Effect."' . . .

Oh, that's original.

. . . "There could also be a more benign explanation for poets' early demise, Kaufman said. "Poets produce twice as much of their lifetime output in their twenties as novelists do," he said."

Here I thought I had my whole life ahead of me. Must be the mental illness. I am fucked.


Thank for passing that on, TB. As if the rejection from an esteemed journal in today's mail wasn't enough to make my day peachy.

My Husband's Name is Absence

Experts Race to Fix Internet Flaw


Donnie Darko to be Re-released

Thanks Al!

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


From Bookninja:

"So the poet says, "50 bucks, same as in town!" For all you cackling jackals: new 'toons to soothe your Monday coffee (note: there were some added 04/17 as well)."

Cackling Jackals? That must be us. Although I'm a little unsure, everyone knows cackling jackals are strictly tea drinkers.

More Weekend Pics

Michael (cousin) & the secretive Rebecca

Janet (grandmother), Peanut (post-op), Me

Chris and the fabulous drive home

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Reunited, And It Feels So Good

Me enjoying a bubbling concoction

Friends at last, Friends at last, Friends at last!

Freshman year I collapsed in Baker Hall. Becky dragged me to safety. Thank you, Becky

The delectable Jen New

FURMAN!!! and April (who's a damn good listener)

Scott, didn't know him back in the day, but we became quick friends when we ran out of folks we recognized

Chatting up one of my old college flames, he was a lot thinner back when I was tapping that

For the rest of the reunion pictures, click here.

I'll post a few family pics tomorrow.


Hey, I'm back and will post more later this evening (pictures!). Until then, please check out the latest literary magazine and book reviews at NewPages. Included are my reviews of the latest issues of Hotel Amerika and River Styx along with many others.

Friday, April 16, 2004

See Yinz, I'm Off To My Destiny

I'll write when I get back Sunday evening.

Sincerely, Mrs. Reb Bon Jovi

No Bra Required

Someone scrawled funny
words on our underwear.
Our underwear, way
too loose on our
rascal asses.
We must realize
ourselves into those
big britches,
you declare.

Love in a hand basket.
Hell in my heart.
My camisole, yours, evermore.
Never have I believed in polygamy
more than I do
rising this daybreak.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Belated Helpful Hint

If you were walking through my writing studio over the past few months and happened to drop your sandwich on the floor, I sure hope you didn't pick it up and finish eating it.

Progress. I am making progress.

Pittsburgh: The Place To Be

Everybody who's anybody (or is that anybody who's everybody?) will be in Pittsburgh this weekend. As I mentioned yesterday, I'll be there. Today I found out from my dad that not only will Tender Buttons be in town, but so will John Kerry (for a rally) with Jon Bon Jovi (oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!!!!), Dick Cheney (for the NRA convention), an old boyfriend's (his second mention this week) father (for the NRA convention) and George Bush (for Arlen Specter's campaign). Did I mention Jon Bon Jovi?!? Oh my God! What the fuck am I going to wear?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Allyson says seeing this immediately reminded her of me. She would know. I think I'll get one since I need something to wear to the Bennington anniversary celebration in June. My "Free Winona" t-shirt has a hole in it. Besides, it's so 2002.


It's nice to be quoted (scroll down to Livingston). Not that I know the guy running the site. I'm pretty sure he took the quote from an old boyfriend's quote file during my undergraduate days at CMU. Ah, to be young and feel the world is truly yours.

Speaking of which, I'll be in Pittsburgh this weekend for carnival and my ten year reunion. I doubt I'll be peeing on any floors, unless, of course, there's an open bar. But it won't be the conquering kind of floor peeing of my youth. Just an old drunk hag who couldn't make it to the restroom.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Speaking of Contests

NewPages recently put together a A Guide to Literary Contests.


In regards to Pitt, the timeframe I wrote about below was 1998. Have no idea what things are like there now.

Monday, April 12, 2004


Some folks have been expounding on the fairness of first book contests and their MFA experiences. Actually there's a whole bunch of blogs talking about this right now. I have mixed feelings regarding contests, but I have very clear ones regarding MFA programs.

I attended two different MFA programs, first at the University of Pittsburgh and then the Bennington Writing Seminars (where I graduated). The first time around when I applied to programs, I had no idea what I was doing or what to look for in a program. I just wanted to be in an MFA program so I could quit my miserable job. Basically my thought was this "I should apply to Pitt. I'm familiar with the area, Lynn Emmanuel teaches there, I can get a recommendation from a former teacher who graduated from there and is now published by the Pitt Press so I'd have a good shot at getting in." Suffice it to say, I paid for my lax research and thought with both time and tuition money.

Without going into too many details, Pitt was a horrible fit for me. My first shock was their poor advising process -- graduate students didn't get a faculty advisor until they start putting together their thesises and that advising was pretty much limited to the thesis. What about choosing classes, finding a focus, carving a place in the program, all that stuff? The MFA students had to share the same over-worked advisors that hundreds of other English undergrad and master students used. These advisors didn't know anyone's names and had a very limited knowledge of the classes. Basically, there was no advising, just long lines for class registration. I mentioned my concern with this to two different faculty members to which they simply shook their heads. Too many students and they were by far way too busy to be bothered.

The second shock was the quality of my poetry workshop. On the first day of class the teacher asked us if we'd be willing to participate in a non-traditional workshop, try some experimental assignments. It sounded kind of exciting at first and we all readily agreed. Now I'm not saying I got nothing out of the workshop. I sat through a very interesting slideshow on the paintings of Alice Neal. We were assigned to read an essay on duende that I considered thought-provoking (and used as a springboard for my graduate lecture at Bennington). That being said, there was virtually no discussion of craft or style or well, anything useful. Most of the assignments were asinine, such as the "make a golem" exercise that everyone balked or the "let's interpret our poems into Indian dance moves." Every week I'd turn in a poem and half of the time when I'd get it back, there would not be a single comment on it, just a hand-drawn smiley face. That's it. A fucking smiley face. If all I needed was a smiley face, I could have saved all that tuition money and just handed poems into my second grade teacher.

The third shock was the other students. I left AOL, jaded and disappointed, expecting to meet a bunch of excited passionate people who loved what they were doing. There was none of that at Pitt. At least at AOL people were excited about their stock options. That was something, at least. At Pitt it was the usual MFA story, there were the haves (people with teaching assistantships) and the majority, aka the havenots (the people who desperately wanted teaching assistantships and resented the ones who did have them). Everyone was obsessed with teaching and that's all they ever seemed to talk about. I'm not against teaching, but that's not why I wanted an MFA. I wanted to learn how to write better, study literature, you know learn stuff, get good enough so my work would be published. If my main goal was teaching, I'd study a subject that needed teachers, like science or math, or maybe learn Spanish.

It was a very lonely place and I only lasted there a semester and summer session. I dropped out, went back home feeling like a huge failure (couldn't cut it at AOL or grad school, maybe I should just hang it up and start having babies, but I probably couldn't cut that either). I started really thinking about what it was I wanted from a graduate program. I made a friend at Pitt who was finishing up his degree there, but felt that he hadn't learned anything, and had just started his second MFA at Vermont College. The idea of a low-residency program seemed weird to me and I never considered it before, but my friend had stories about all time he spent with his advisor, all attention spent to his work, all the attention to literature, all the attention to writing. Damn it, I wanted that attention. I felt (and still do) that spending all that money on tuition was so one could get attention.

In short, Bennington gave me and my work that attention. Every semester I studied with a different poet and every semester was invaluable. Some had more of a mentor-style than others, but all took me under their wing (if only for that semester).

Now, I'm glad to say I had a wonderful MFA experience and am still very nostalgic for those days. A happy ending, no no, a happy beginning, that's what the MFA is supposed to be, a beginning, right?

Sunday, April 11, 2004

For Al

From my poem, Funny Bunny:

White rabbit, you’re not so plump now!
Your toothy fears aren’t so eye popping.
I had whiskers too.
I waxed them,
wear rouge.

Thump, Thump, Thumper.
A fine carrot stew.
Pluck, Pluck, Speedy Fucker.
I’m going to eat you!


Happy Easter!

Project for This Week

Reassemble the disaster that is my writing studio. It's never fully recovered from the flood this past autumn. I never fully recovered. Time to move past this. Time to repair.

Welcome to 1998

Finally, after behaving like a luddite for many years, I got a cell phone. So if you'd like my digits (and I know you personally) e-mail me and I'll give you my number. I'm not much of a telephone gabber so just because I have all these unlimited evening minutes, don't expect a bunch of calls from me.

Last week I shredded my book manuscript and put together a brand new one. Maybe not *brand* new, but pretty different. I feel good about it. Going to wait a little while, get a little distance and go through it again.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Another Kind of Reb

I did a google search on "Reb" and "poet" and this is the third thing that comes up. I think for now on I'll stop joking that "Reb" is short for Rebel.

Thursday, April 08, 2004


Oh, this course I crave
Used the extinguisher, the house burned

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Two More

Below are two additional pictures of Clara and her partner. One thing I can't get over is how large and imposing Clara is, she towers over the other woman. My grandfather always said she was a big strong German woman, but how big could she have been in 1920? 5'10? How short is her partner? She's always wearing a hat and that makes her look a little taller, but she might not even be 5'. I don't know why I'm focused on their heights. I think it makes the pictures more striking.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The Wedding Photo

Clara and Unknown Spouse

This is the photograph of my great-grandmother's lesbian wedding, circa 1920, before her family arranged her marriage to my great-grandfather (a childless widower, 20+ years her senior). Clara is the one wearing the wedding dress.

I have two more (non-wedding) photographs of the couple. I'll post them tomorrow.


Been reading Surpassing the Love of Men by Lillian Faderman in hopes it might spark a direction to take for my Clara essay. I'm learning all about "romantic friendships" (a concept that sounds pretty cool) and "Boston Marriages." I think I'm also starting to grasp what men find so allluring about girl on girl action. Forgive me, I'm a chick and I don't think like that.

Of course, none of this is helping me write my essay, but it's good reading nonetheless.

Monday, April 05, 2004


Tomorrow will be 8 years. The traditional gift is supposed to be bronze. Any suggestions? Do they do bronze body casts? You know, something artistic he can put on display at the office right next to the "Fuck You Means Thank You" poem.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

More Links, More Action

There are some new blog links under the "Poet" section. Returning the favor to folks who have thoughtfully linked to here. If I missed yours, e-mail me and let me know.

So Sleepy

Even though I reminded a certain someone to reset the alarm clock last night, somebody forgot and we were an hour late for breakfast with friends this morning. Not that I care much for breakfast, but it's not really cool to make people wait an hour. "Spring Forward" must be my second least likeable day of the year. Second only to Easter (I don't care for ham and the rodent doesn't bring candy anymore).

Now I'm reading River Styx (The Route 66 Issue) for NewPages and cracking up over finding poems by drunk people I met at AWP. The people who manage tenure, I swear! I probably won't mention that in the review. But I'll mention it here.

God Damn Fatigue!

My good ole alma mater. Fucking rich kids.

Friday, April 02, 2004

What Comes to Mind

So I was practicing my yoga this afternoon and I'm supposed to keep my mind clear and focus on the poses (something I find incredibly difficult to do, so much chatter up there). But what kept popping into my head, over and over?


"I could squeeze you until you popped like warm champagne, and you'd beg me to hurt you just a little bit more." Faith (as Buffy) to Spike in the episode "Who Are You?"

That's not even Freudian, that's just dirty.

Could it be that I'm slowly coming to terms that not only will there never be any new Buffy episodes, but there's only a handful of episodes of Angel left? Is there anything left to live for? Should I just smash my Tivo now? Dr. Phil can only get me through the afternoons, what about the long nights? I feel so cold.


I'm reading the Fall 2003 issue of Hotel Amerika (along with other journals) and will be reviewing it for NewPages. I'm only about a third the way into it, but am really enjoying a lot of the poems. Some lines that I'm digging:

From Josh Bell's "Epithalamion, Ex Post Facto":

[. . .] Every bride
is gartered for a reason. Every bride
is a lonesome holocaust . . .

From Larissa Szporluk's "Painfully Aware":

In a time when slaves were all named Bark,
the mountain was a vast erection of mysterious

garbage. . .

From Tony Hoagland's "Original Wound":

Because the wound is always smitten
with the blade
and pleasure stabs us too;

Thursday, April 01, 2004


Another Roundabout

Neither courage nor fear smite
Tears for they have no way to reach here.
Growing up meant

Boarding up, moving, no forwarding address,
No longer bunking with lies of childhood's tranquility.
Growing up, the formal introduction to joy,

Complicated and controlled
My own state-of-the art pleasure dome, a
High-secure facility I rule as Caesar.

What I'm admitting to is kidnapping
Possibly slavery, she cannot
Leave, take visitors, she's mine alone.

Muzzled and panting, joy heads my chariot,
Drags me round and round the pit-filled track.
It's just us two girls.

I laugh. Often.
This is my will.
This is my given.