* snow! with Charles Wright

Snow is starting to become a regular thing in our neighborhood.

Ani and I remarked on (read: laughed at) our mutual inexperience earlier this week when we began to see little bits of the stuff flying about one afternoon.

What is that?  Is that fluff?  Gotta be, like cotton, or foam, something, right?

I won’t say who said what: we’re both guilty.  And the conversation – with large gaps of silence in between statements of disbelief – went on longer than it should have.

My defense: We live on the second floor so there was a buoyancy to those first flakes that seemed suspect.  Between New Mexico and blizzards in NYC, I’ve spent a good ten years moving through snow, putting on boots, bundling up, and the rest.  But that’s a matter of snow as presence.

Snow as verb, however… well, it got me this week.

The poem below by Charles Wright is fortifying given the months ahead of us.  Wright is a mystic – and in this short poem (from his collection Sestets) he conjures up what the snow itself conjures inside a person.

* they seem fine with the stuff *
* they seem fine with the stuff *

On the Night of the First Snow, Thinking About Tennessee – Charles Wright

It’s dark now, the horses have had their half apple,

mist and rain,

Horses down in the meadow, just a few degrees above snow.

I stand in front of the propane stove, warming my legs.

If the door were open, I’d listen to creekwater

And think I heard voices from long ago,

distinct, and calling me home.

The past becomes such a mirror – we’re in it,

and then we’re not.


Happy notting!


* sketchiness with Bill Knott

* Domino Effect *
* Domino Effect *

The above is a snapshot of where I’m at in my sketching.  While I would love – and will continue to aspire to – sketch nice scenes of trees (really, just trees, nothing too fancy) I keep coming back to these little efforts that make me smirk.

Do people groan at visual puns?  I’d really like to know.

I’ve been doodling things like the above for years but never put one in my sketchbook til this week.  I was sitting there thinking: Be inspired.  Be inspired.  When some other part of me spoke up and said: Y’know, it’d be funny if…

A few years ago, I came across William Steig’s book The Lonely Ones in which he draws caricatures of emotions like greed and envy.  Totally kindred spirits.  A sort of visual poetry, a bit campier than Magritte.

Here is a drawing inspired by this week’s poem by Bill Knott.

* To Be Continued *
* To Be Continued *

As Usual – Bill Knott *

Immediately I’m dead
Body laid out straight
Please don’t hesitate
Just cut off my head

Lift it and lay it a foot
Or so below my feet
Shift it till I look like
An exclamation mark

Overt sign of joy pain
Surprise consternation
Despair exuberance

As usual a metaphor
Meant to  make up for
My lack of coherence


Happy cohering!


* from his book The Unsubscriber

* upcoming reading Thursday, November 21st

Just a quick post to announce an upcoming reading this week for those of  you in the Cincinnati area:

Thursday, November 21, at Northside Tavern.

The reading begins promptly at 7, featuring fiction writers Sarah Strickley and Andrew Trostle, and poets Julia Koets and, yours truly,  Jose Araguz!

Brought to you by the English Graduate Organization (EGO) of the University of Cincinnati.  Special thanks to Sara Watson!

All best,


* the unignorable with Aimee Nezhukumatathil

* unignoring one another *
* unignoring one another *

Some things are unignorable.

For example, moths seem to be unignorable in my writing.  They’ve crept in and out of my poems for years now.  Experiencing moth season in Albuquerque, New Mexico only increased the fascination.

The bumbling after direction and light – yeah, I get that.

They are a symbol of fragility and persistence for me.  In this way, they are all that more human to me.

Human fragility and persistence are also unignorable.  Reading the poem below by Aimee Nezhukumatathil brought this lesson home.  While the world of the poem is a dark one, the lyric never loses sight of the human factor.  Through the final image, the fragility and persistence of the moth is made kindred to human predicament and struggle.  This poem itself was unignorable.


Two Moths – Aimee Nezhukumatathil* 

Some girls        on the other side of this planet

will never know        the loveliness

of   walking      in a crepe silk sari.      Instead,

they will spend        their days                          on their backs

for a parade               of   men           who could be       their uncles

in another life.         These girls memorize

each slight wobble                  of   fan blade as it cuts

through the stale       tea air and auto-rickshaw

exhaust,        thick as egg curry.

Men         shove greasy rupees        at the door

for one hour         in a room

with a twelve-year-old.                One hour —               One hour —

One hour.            And if   she cries afterward,

her older sister       will cover it up.         Will rim

the waterline             of   her eyes                 with kohl pencil

until it looks like                        two silk moths

have stopped      to rest       on her exquisite     face.


Happy mothing!


* published in Poetry November 2013

* old friends from Australia

* candy of two kinds *
* candy of two kinds *

The above book and treats arrived yesterday from my friend in Australia, Catherine Baab-Muguira – poet/novelist/and overall amazing person.  She has been kind enough to send along the book Poser by Claire Dederer across many miles between continents because a good book should travel far in so many senses of that phrase.

Those are also chocolate bars up there: those only have a day or two left of travel *ahem*.

Cat and I met each other in 2004 during the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets.  I was an insufferable young poet in my twenties (mind you, I continue to be insufferable in my thirties, no slacking there) and she was one of a gang of good people with which I had the gift of a month of writing/reading/talking poetry.

The poem below, by Australia’s legendary Les Murray, came to mind as I thought about doing this post in gratitude to my friend who lives in such a faraway and cool place (her beach photos are the best).  The poem came to mind because of the youthful drama of being a young poet that played out during the seminar in 2004 – a drama that still continues today.

Those last two lines:

As usual after any triumph, I was
of course, inconsolable

pretty much describe me after any particularly productive writing jag.

As a poet, you are never closer to the stuff than in the writing and rewriting.  The before and after, well, that’s the rest of your life.


Performance – Les Murray

I starred that night, I shone:
I was footwork and firework in one,

a rocket that wriggled up and shot
darkness with a parasol of brilliants
and a peewee descant on a flung bit;
I was busters of glitter-bombs expanding
to mantle and aurora from a crown,
I was fouettés, falls of blazing paint,
para-flares spot-welding cloudy heaven,
loose gold off fierce toeholds of white,
a finale red-tongued as a haka leap:
that too was a butt of all right!

As usual after any triumph, I was
of course, inconsolable.


Happy triumphing!


* short poems up at Right Hand Pointing

Just a quick note to announce the latest issue of Right Hand Pointing: “Ophelia, Now” – featuring short poems under 30 words.  The good folks at RHP were kind enough to include three of my own – check them out here.

Special thanks for Dale Wisely for taking a chance on my work and for putting together such a cool online journal!

I’m a little behind on this one – busy weekend grading papers and such – but finally able to come up for air and share a bit.

See you Friday!


* hello to November via Bert Meyers

When She Sleeps – Bert Meyers

When she sleeps I rise.
The naked light bulb burns
And makes the moths outside
Beat against the screen.
A moth comes out of me.
It flies to the light,
Then staggers back in pain
To rest in me again.
She sleeps and holds her peace,
Though I’m consumed by this.

* one pretty moth-er *
* one pretty moth-er *

Having written a poem in which a moth speaks to me of light, this poem had an immediate appeal for me.  But here the moth comes out of the man – a man who is awake and consumed.

And writing – by writing consumed.

In other news, I am happy to report that autumn is here in full rain and wind and leaves – leaves, some of which, look like the moth above.

Happy first day of November!