I’m Baaaack


So although most people go on summer vacation by, for example, actually going somewhere that is else, I took a summer vacation by working on my novel and basically abandoned the Blogosphere for two months. There were no beaches, maybe two cocktails, and zero blogs about sharks. Or much of anything else, or at least not written by me.

I would like to thank Wine and Cheese (Doodles), A Kinder Way, and Robert Okaji for letting me steal, um, reblog their wonderful work to keep my blog alive while I was writing 37,000 words of a book that starts with someone creating an OKCupid profile.

Obviously, the book will be a comedy.

So although I have not been writing for YOU, Gentle Readers, I have been writing, and thinking about writing, as always, 24/7. So we will declare vacation over, alas, but at least you get ME back.

Lucky you!

Robert Okaji: A good onion, a good knife, a good poem. What more does a girl want?

Onions My knife never sings but hums instead when withdrawn from its block, a metallic whisper so modest only the wielder may hear it. Or perhaps the dog, who seems to enjoy the kitchen nearly as much as I. A Japanese blade, it’s a joy to hold, perfectly balanced, stainless steel-molybdenum alloy, blade and handle […]

via Onions — O at the Edges


And again, Robert comes through…

In Response to Nadia’s Misdirected Email, I State Exactly What I Am Looking For Balance. The ability to stand on one foot, on a tightrope, and juggle AR-15s, ethics and dollar bills, while chanting the U.S. Constitution, in tongues. Or good health. Unweighted dreams. A mechanism for disagreeing without needing to annihilate the opposition. […]

via In Response to Nadia’s Misdirected Email, I State Exactly What I Am Looking For — O at the Edges


Response to Robert Okaji’s “How to Write a Poem”

Response to Robert Okaji’s “How to Write a Poem”


How to Revise a Poem


Having learned to make a toast in nine languages

And setting aside the chainsaw with which I carved


This poem out of a block of fresh ice, I take up the scalpel,

Heated over the blue flame of the gas stove. I stand


For a moment like a conductor in white tie and tails,

Waiting for the crowd to fall silent, and make the first cut


Into the heart of the poem. Does it bleed? Do the words

Fall to the dirt among the pigeons? Do the courtesies


Sound hollow or sincere? The moon pulls at my arm

Like a cat in search of dinner or a playmate. I accept all:


Love, envy, ambition, and drive the wrong way down

One-way streets. They won’t catch me. They will


Park their Black Marias on the sidestreet, dig in

To the bowls of chili I provide for them while I steal


The bullets from their guns. Finally! At last! Just exactly

What I needed for the new ending to the poem.


Robert Okaji Is the Bomb


So I just bought the pdf version of Robert Okaji’s chapbook of poetry, If Your Matter Could Reform, and as my southern friends would say, y’all should too. Look at the elegant sparseness of his verses, as in this example from “Wind”:

that it moves, that it blends,

that it withdraws and returns without

remorse, without forethought, that it

increases, expands, subtracts,

Or the important comment on our current racist moment in America from “If We Burn”:

change I can’t breathe from epitaph

to actuated plea for help?

Are words ever enough?

Can we stack our indifference and fear

into a mile-high pyre, and torching it

watch them rise to nothingness,

Or the quiet confidence that sets up an image and lets it do what it needs to, as in the end of “Ashes”:

Today the rain spells forgive

and every idea becomes form, every shadow a symptom,

each gesture a word, a naming in silence.

Scatter me in air I’ve never breathed.

I mean, fuck, people! I have seen the rain spell forgive, a very long time ago, to be sure, but I have seen it. And he just lays out this beautiful little impossible thing for us, a gift like a tiny origami crane in your open hand and walks quietly away.

The way I look at it, a man who can say, “In the marrowbone of night,/your song parts the fog” deserves your two or six bucks (pdf/paper). And as you know by now, that is a professional opinion.