Nomad Ink

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


swathes ice-brick
paler back of
stripes darker and black
shape of
ledge of
pale shelf
bowing muscle
shadow alped
mountain image
held down blue
tight sky tarp

Sunday, November 26, 2006

post t giving

the problem w/ hosting your own tgiving party is that you can't just walk away from the feast; you're left with leftovers and so, in spite of all the little leftover parties you host throughout the weekend you end up eating a lot of it yourself and thus it is that you gain all this weight that then takes a year to lose...right in time for the following t-giving. i've been living on turkey, stuffing and rod ferguson's red velvet cake for a few days, well, since thursday and it's sunday now. and though i try to only eat tiny bits at a time, it doesn't always seem to work out that way. Last night went to cheng heng cambodian restaurant w/ shevy leslie and alex lubet and his family, then to alex's house to watch bob dylan movies. we settled on renaldo and clara, mostly on my insistence b/c i didn't know if i'd ever get another chance to see it. we watched abt an hour of it; whenever dylan was onscreen it was interesting; whenever he wasn't, it wasn't. it was a real challenge to watch, what with all the murky mumbling and dark colors and cramped spaces. anyway i had curry fish at the restaurant, which was none too smart for the diet, it was way too much fish drenched in oil and virtually no greens. then today i walked around the lake with my friends carol and joanna, then they came over for a leftover festival. that helped me consolidate things in the refrigerator so the pies aren't leaning over about to topple off the tin foil covering the turkey, and the pumpkin soup and gravy have been transferred to smaller receptacles. tomorrow miekal and camille arrive and they will really help me put a dent in things b/c they like the turkey and stuffing, though they are not fans of red velvet cake, but i'm sure they will make short work of the pecan pie that never made it out of the freezer, and the ice cream of which there is still a copious amount. i hope they will go for the saffron mashed potatoes (with a stick of butter) b/c i've got an ungodly amount about a gallon that i can't possibly finish myself. carol likes it but she's about the only taker so far. well enough about food. were you expecting poetry?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

howling on the radio

yday i was on the radio, along w/ bill morgan by phone from vermont, talking about HOWL. it was fun. it's on a station i always listen to, Minn. Public Radio, not b/c it's such a great station but b/c i crave the sound of the human voice in conversation. i had often fantasized about being on this particular show b/c i get irritated with the host; she can ask such stupid questions. but i enjoyed it and i even heard from a few friends and colleagues later in the day that they'd heard it and enjoyed it. i'm enjoying these minor moments in the sun; they do a lot to counteract the daily blues of november in minnesota and the seemingly ceaseless round of letters of recommendation, meetings, dissertations, ugrad papers to grade, etc. that is the most gratifying thing abt writing this blog; it soothes me, the way writing in my journal soothes me, reminds me that i'm here, words are my best friends, like my cat, i can caress them and touch them and let them go and they wander about the room and come back; they have a physical comfort in them, the fact that they exist, that i can use them that i can never use them up, that they are always here for me: when i walk from the parking ramp to my office; when i get in my wonderful bed with a book or a crossword puzzle or a magazine; when i turn on the radio, when i talk to my friends, when i talk to myself.

Monday, November 20, 2006

quietude at school

It's so quiet in the halls at school today, and only one student comes to my office hours to drop off a paper b/c he can't be in class. I feel like Bernardo Soares, turning my institutional humdrum hell into an imagintive heaven on an hourly basis. The HOWL reading accomplished that in a loud and vibrant, public way; daily my blog and whatever little writing i do about the slice of sun across the top of the brick buildings accomplishes this on the inside, quietly but life-sustainingly. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell can be a subtle thing, not the clash of agon only. It's so quiet at school today, because it's Thanksgiving week and lots of the students are already out of here, though it's only Monday; it's also so quiet because Friday night's HOWL was so raucous. As Susan Hamerski wrote to me in an email, "What a sound; what a music." It's so quiet in the halls at school today because this is the hum of daily existence, the hum of the computer and the fluorescent (flowering?) lights, like at home the hum of the refrigerator and occasionally the dehumidifier in the basement can be heard even upstairs...and the labored breathing of the cat. It's so quiet and in a minute or so i've got to go teach, finish up Kaddish and Ginsberg and then on to Bernadette Mayer before Thanksgiving Day. So much to be grateful for: for words, for language, for the relationship between the fingers that type and the intellect that composes, for everything that has to work correctly in the neurological kingdom and every other kingdom as well.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

all a-howling tingle now

I'm still all atingle from Friday night's HOWL event. We read en masse, the whole thing including the "footnote to howl;" david bernstein from the Theatre Dept (and my chair Paula Rabinowitz's husband) conducted, along with three Arts Quarter pixies, Eliot Durko Lynch the blue-haired impresario, Crystal with or without beret, and a cute girl whose name i forget in countercultural gamine fashion. There were about 150-200 folks in attendance, including my old Naropa connection Gregg Rutter and his wife Beth and their friends Robert Ferguson and wife (with a K- or C-name); about 12 of our fabulous graduate students, many of whom read self-translated passages of HOWL in their own languages. That was the highlight for me. We had a lot of tech difficulties that meant that some of the special effects we had planned we were unable to execute until later in the evening when they had become somewhat irrelevant. Still, we opened with the sound of howling wolves, to put the Minnesota imprimatur on the evening. A jazz trio consisting of Paula and David's son's best friend, Javier Santiago and his father Mack (hence a "generational" event; the evening was very much about generations) and a bass player who accompanied the mass reading, which was gloriously chaotic. People were sitting at different round tables around the Campus Club (spectacular view of downtown's skylight reminiscent of the cover of the HOWL album where a young and wild-eyed Allen Ginsberg is gesticulating in front of an infernal Moloch city-scape), each table had a few xeroxed copies of HOWL on it. As the Theatre Dept Arts Quarter folks and I wandered through the room shouting the gospel of Ginsberg, it was so cool to see all these people, many of whom i knew from my daily institutional life, hunched over the texts in intense concentration, intoning with their fellow-readers. People I'd known, though not well, for eighteen years. Finally I was reclaiming a space which had for so many years been abusive. One colleague referred to it as a "ritual of cleansing" so the department can achieve a different vision. It was an exorcism in a way, and when we were done we were all glowing from the oxygenation of reading aloud such a longline poem and having to breathe! Reading in different languages were:
Albanian, Julia Musha boy was that amazing to hear
Amharic, Solomon Deressa who intoned Kaddus Kaddus Kaddus...
Bulgarian, Stoyan Tchaprazov straight from the City of Wisdom
Chinese, Wang Ping who brought kids and friend
Danish, Ole Gram-wild to hear HOWL in my mothertongue!!!
French, Robert St Clair who read a fabulously gutteral Moloch passage
German, Tom Pepper who read from America and recited Jimmy Schuyler
Haitian Patwa, Valerie Deus from Brooklyn
Hebrew, Renana Schneller it sounded so beautiful
Italian, Siobhan Craig who took on the polysyllabic academy
Japanese, Christine Marran (with intensely cute baby in stroller)
Latin, Steve Jackson ? he appeared out of the blue, it was a true gift from heaven
Oromo, Solomon Deressa again
Russian, Masha Zavialova the professional translator doing Moloch
Spanish, Rosangelica who also appeared spontaneously and translated on *-of-moment
Yiddish, Leslie Morris and Margie Newman, she-wolves of the shtetl

and Alexander Truskinovsky, whom i'd known since he was an undergraduate physiology major and now is a doctor at the Med School, recited a gorgeous Mayakovsky poem in Russian and followed it with his own translation --riveting! Ryan Cox, Becky Weaver and Gregg Murray, students in the English Dept, read their own work, as did u-grad Jacob Duelman later on. Gregg Rutter read too, a poem he'd written the day before about having hoped a poem like HOWL could really save or change the world.

There was a sheetcake saying "HOLY HOLY HOLY" i had three pieces with lots of frosting, during the last few minutes of wind-down. The wonderful Terri Sutton, the dept's events manager, calmly did everything from order the food to run the video camera. It is hard to capture in blogtalk the intensity and excitement of the event; it was thrilling. Many folks said: "We should do this more often." A few others used the term "thrilling" also. Most of my ugrad class was there, i was proud of them for showing up, though it was assigned. And folks i didn't recognize at all. Two former colleagues, now retired, were there; one is a friend, the other is someone who tried to get me fired. It was sort of a kick to see him perseverating earnestly over the text and to think that the context was capacious and forgiving enough to hold both of us in the space. It was v meaningful and fun for those of us who have labored under the yoke of an oppressively prejudicial and conformist department, we were creating new possibilities, just as the poem itself created new possibilities when it was first intoned at the Six Gallery in San Francisco 1955 and then published to scandal and notoriety in 1956.
I spent the weekend taking it easy, and today made pumpkin soup for Thursday's feast. I still have lots of pumpkins and squash left! And I've been shopping like a crazy person for all kinds of "luxury" goods, well they're not but i never buy them: fruit spreads, which i use in bread puddings, crystalized ginger (they have a new, cheap kind at the co-op), nuts and dried fruit, eggs for pies and so on. Made a butternut squash pie yesterday, with one egg and two egg whites –it rose really high and looked beautiful, then sank and still looks all creamy yellow and brownish on one side where it got more heat, like a golden marshmallow held just the right proximity to the flame.

Friday, November 17, 2006

heteroglossic howlings from minnesota

tonight is the umn's HOWL celebration. we will open with a soundtrack of wolves howling (putting the Minnesota imprimatur on the evening) and then go on to a group reading of the celestial rant, followed by open-mike testimonials and a reading of HOWL in about 15 different languages, from Albanian to Yiddish. Two Ethiopian languages (Amharic and Oromo), Chinese and Japanese, Bulgarian and Roman, Haitian Patwa, Danish, German, French, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Hebrew, and maybe Farsi. If everybody shows up. Sheetcake saying "holy holy holy" and live jazz by three generations of Latino musicians, the Santiago family. Amazing. David Bernstein is the secret hero of the event, having gone above and beyond in his planning and visioning. Terri Sutton is the other secret hero, the publicist for the department and organizer supreme. I am fretting about what to wear and what to do first, play the wolves howling or show Allen reading. Anyway, it's overcast and gray, still, not a single stirring of wind, and i shd go to the gym before it's too late. that'll put me in a good mood for the rest of the day, so i can deal with the technical difficulties that are bound to crop up. Wish me luck (mockingbird.). And unpoetic as i feel right now, it will be a poetry orgy. lovely words and lovely energy.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

slow-mo sunday

my skillet of leeks and barbequed turkey is cooking away downstairs, all bubbly-bubbly, making the house smell good, but it'll smell funny tomorrow when i come home from work and step inside. the phone's been ringing a lot. got more fun stuff lined up for the HOWL event; three generations of jazz musicians. bongoes, drum and keyboard, to riff behind the mass reading. and what else, what else and what else. wrote a review of a good book in record time. didn't get to my real task of the day, haven't gotten to it in two weeks, in three months...had a blissfully lowkey weekend, did nothing except, well, wrote that review, met w/ david bernstein to plan the howl thing, shopped at a consignment store, emailed back and forth with a student who wants help on a paper...meditated, ate, had divine sleep, walked just a little, had squash pie with Eric and Kelly of Rain Taxi fame (it was fabulous, with real whipped cream) and got the recipe from Kelly, it was actually made w/ a butternut squash from my CSA, one of the twenty or so i brought back. so these squash and pumpkins are finding happy homes with appreciative people who love to eat.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

veteran's day

Veteran of grief, loss, writing, teaching, dieting, used clothing store and yard sale shopping, hair growth and hair loss, the 60s, the 70s, New England girls' school, and that's it for now. i haven't earned any medals for any of it, i don't do any of it best of all the people who do it, or the most of everyone who does or experiences these things, i'm just a footsoldier in the wars of experience. bush laid a wreath at the grave of the "unknowns." a chilling phrase. the loneliness of dying on a battlefield –or anywhere –and not having an identity that can be traced to a mother, a child, a relative or friend...i remember seeing the monument to the unknown soldier at Arlington Cemetery as a child when my family took a trip to New York and DC, and my father told me that the flame burned eternally there. I was touched and haunted by that image, and the awe and respect in his voice (one didn't hear that often) but had no idea what that kind of loneliness was until now that i'm older and can fathom such a thing. I remember walking down some creepy commercial part of San Francisco with Ed Cohen in grad school, after seeing a bad movie (an inferior French knock-off of "My Life as a Dog") and passing a homeless man on the street; he was sitting on an overturned box; didn't look that old actually, had longish hair that was still discernibly blond, but his face was ravaged. "I'm dead," he said. "I've been a dead man for years." That was what, over 20 years ago now. It comes back periodically. He's an unknown soldier in the wars of experience, my memory of him is the light that will never burn out, now that i've written this and maybe someone will see it hurtling alone and bereft thru cyberspace, jostling all the other messages and ephemera that rise and fade by the millions every day.
My father was a veteran tho' he never saw action. So i think of him and the things about me that are him-ish. Voice, facial structure, values, grayblue eyes, broad hips. Ah, maybe he knows i am writing about him. Finally got to read Persepolis last night what a treat. I am happy that such talent and intelligence exists in the world, and such powerful witnessing.

Friday, November 10, 2006

friday crash

ahh, i've skidded to the end of the week and slammed right into friday night. here i sit at my screen and keyboard, imagining the world outside full of plans and energy, and i just want to hunker down with reading material. or writing material. when feelings of loneliness came up this week i thought maybe i needed more socializing, but on closer inspection it turned out that i socialized nonstop last weekend and it was one of the reasons for my sense of depletion and thus loneliness. So this weekend i'll use the alternate strategy: lay as low as possible. I have to meet w/ someone about our HOWL event a week from today, that's tomorrow at noon, but otherwise i have an (ah, bliss) unscheduled weekend. Let's hope i can get some work done on my book w/ Ira Livingston.
xo, md

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

respite despot

just a few minutes in the expansion of today: it's 70 degrees out in minnesota today!!! fabulous. a 12-mile bikeride, can you believe it. in a few minutes i'm off to meditate and really sink into the day in the most luxurious manner, but in the meantime i need a transition from the gogogoness of life in late fall semester. i sipped my wonderful cup of coffee out in the backyard under my backdoor light, sitting on the steps in sandals and a summer skirt, looking at the withered leaves hanging from the wisteria-draped structure-thing. Imagine. Life is open when it's like this. Every day a new gift falling from the clouds into our laps as we're seated at our computers or in our easy chairs. We talked abt Frank O'Hara in my ugrad class and i passed around a bunch of books including the Joe Brainard Retrospective catalogue, from which i'd xeroxed his essay on "art." afterwards a student wanted to borrow it. Just for a couple of days. "It's pretty cool," he said. I couldn't disagree. I'm such a sucker for their enthusiasm, i let him have it, just made sure my name was in it. Another student wanted to borrow my Amiri Baraka video but wasn't in class today. It's pretty lovely. But when do i get to do my "own" work? Am I supposed to forget that word "own"? Thây would say yes. Here is my own work, dear blog. You're it right now. My lovely expressivity-vortex, my generous blank friend, my enabler. As long as i don't try to posture as a poetry-know-itry person, you are a relaxing reflection to spend time with.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Sinking into writing, a profound luxury of the mind. The white sky matches the white screen, the white page; in each case, a redeeming graininess mitigates the sterility associated with whiteness, turning it into the promise of change, of no-longer-whiteness, of whiteness-in-relation. Inscription is the promise, the change, the no-longer, the relation. Inscription is embrace, entwiniture, enlacement, embellishment of Being. The wooden windowframe of my sterile office fixes a sterile landscape of brick, concrete, chimney, sweetly hokey faux-gaslamp streetlight, and at the same time there is permission to revel inwardly and transform this bleak blank into a plenitude of texture and imagination. It is unstoppable.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

mine eyes glazeth over...

yellow missile chimney
bricked angle
youth vertigo halo