* new work at american tanka

Just a quick post to announce the release of American Tanka’s issue 25: “between cries.” The issue starts off with one of my own tanka, which can be read here.

In preparing to share the news, I found myself sketching back into the scene that inspired the tanka. Here is my best rendition of the field near our apartment in Albuquerque circa 2011:

* what he carries *
* what he carries *

The issue, which includes outstanding work by Michael Dylan Welch, Chen-ou Liu, Sanford Goldstein, and Wendy Bourke among others, can be read here.

Special thanks to Laura Maffei, editor of American Tanka, for including me in such a fine issue!

See you Friday!


* one for Bill Knott

Bill Knott’s death last week had me digging through my journals to find this week’s poem. It’s a sonnet I wrote in homage to the man after reading his book The Unsubscriber.

I did a post on his work last November (which can be checked out here) in which I shared some of my sketches. Bill was kind enough to stop by the blog and say some encouraging words. This gesture moved me for many reasons, not the least of which is the nature of blogs and communities online.

I share this week’s poem (along with my impromptu sketch of the man) as a tribute to the poet as well as to all of you kind enough to stop by and read.

* knott bad, but knott great either *
* knott bad, but knott great either *

to Bill Knott – Jose Angel Araguz

He had time on his hands,
he could feel it – seconds itch
like you wouldn’t believe – really, bitch
all you want of boredom: lands

of it exist in every story.
Heroes bored until heroic, villains bored
until dead. He was never bored.
All that living, heroic or gory,

passed him by like a wind,
and like a wind left him
nothing. Seconds itch, minutes sting. He
would hold a pen for hours. Find
a clock: that ticking, that’s him.
Pulse is the man. Time, he.


Happy Knotting!


p.s. a fine article on Knott (and the inspiration for my sketch) here.

* 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

* sketching with Miriam Sagan

*historically historic district*
*historically historic district*

This is a church right across the street from our new apartment in Cincinnati.  We have moved into a historic district which reveals new things with each walk we take around the neighborhood.

The drive across country was a series of things being revealed.  In Itasca, Ani pointed out a cardinal excitedly, fascinated with how the actual red of the cardinal is a different from what she envisions in her head.  I told her to sketch it.  She responded: How do you sketch that red?


A few weeks before the move I was delighted to receive from Miriam Sagan herself a copy of her book “Seven Places in America: A Poetic Sojourn.”  The poems and essays in the book follow Sagan as she travels to seven places and documents the life lived and seen.  It was a great guide for my own poetic sojourn, and the inspiration for my post last week.

The poem below is one of a number poems in Sagan’s book that create their magic through a series of short lyrics.  There’s something about the short lyric that is ideal for travel.  When you travel there is so much to see – you can barely take it all in, much less write about it.

How do you sketch that red?

One line at a time.


Sketches in a Notebook – Miriam Sagan

a lizard
in a rolled up shade

tree bromeliads –
two cormorants
build a nest of twigs

man with a cane
crosses path with
a tiny turtle

child pats the palm tree
the alligator

tree canopy
butterfly, and purple glade
morning glory

rare buttonwood vine
looks like any foliage –
but rare –

a leaf drops in
the mahogany hammock –
without season

out of the palm trees
a peacock darts – escaped –
but from where?

tree snail gleams
in the leaf canopy –
stolen ghost orchid

raindrops’ circles –
yellow spatterdock flowers
floating green pods –

two shy vultures
pick raindrops
off the car’s roof

only the most
delicate colored pencils
draw the tree snail’s shell

drawn in an inky line,
overcast afternoon

drop tip
implies rain


Happy implying!


* check out Miriam Sagan’s blog here.