Sunday, February 29, 2004


Somebody's husband raped you while you were supposed to be in the choir pounding a tambourine, not a chest. Early Sunday morning, must have been an Easter Sunday because something came back from death, it came with a wedding ring and it was black and it smiled and it was good. You got pregnant. Good. Had an abortion. Good. That's what the Lord said in Genesis, he saw the world and what was happening, and it was still good.
--from "Goodness And The Salt of the Earth" by Thylias Moss, one of the prose poems
in Models of the Universe

The second printing of Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole recalls a conversation I once had with another poet. I told him that I seemed to have better luck getting books published than individual poems.

And it's true about the work in Reproductions -- several of those poems got rejected by journals which specialize in the prose poem form (Reproductions is a selected prose poem collection from 1996-2002).

I think there are implications to this. It's not just that it may not make sense for rejected poems to find book publication if the rejected poems really are bad. It's that some editors of journals who rejected individual poems ended up loving the book -- now, why would that be the case?

I speculate that one implication has to do with the popular misconception that the prose poem form is not concerned with line or the line-break, which relates to the larger implication over peeps' abilities to accept something that doesn't follow what they understand to be proscribed definitions of poetry....as if Poetry can be defined.

A few years back, after writing a whole bunch of poems that came to be in Reproductions, I thought I'd better figure out what the heck the prose poem is supposed to be, and ended up perusing Models of the Universe: An Anthology of the Prose Poem (Eds. Stuart Friebert and David Young, Oberlin College Press, 1995). I found it a wonderful project, and quite useful for purpose of being introduced to the history of the prose poem. But nothing I wrote was like anything in that anthology -- that's when I realized: I may not know what I was doing but I was on the right track!

Okay, nuff said. Sorry for being elliptical (if I am) but it is Sunday.

What does Sunday have to do with this? Well, it's today -- so feel free to consider this blog...Church. The Chatelaine, you see, believes with absolutely no apology: Poetry can be

A Holy Space


One of moi peeps writes in about moi prior post:

"I'm glad you are promoting the whole gay marriage issue. I may be a plutocratic libertarian right winger, but I have seen no logical reason why gays should not be allowed the same civil rights to marriage as heterosexuals. In fact, I wish I could remember to whom to attribute the statement, but one blog I read recently compared a certain screwed up pop star diva who got drunk and married in Vegas only to have it annulled less than 24 hours later to a lesbian couple she has known who have been together for more than 20 years. The author then asked, who should be allowed to make the choice to marry.

"I don't think that the government should intrude on religious doctrine and if a religion wants to say homosexuality is an abomination and deny church weddings, fine. But as to civil marriages, there is no logical rationale against it that anyone has posted. And I have looked long and hard."

kari edwards' transdada offers coverage in real-time!

Saturday, February 28, 2004


Achilles' toy box is in disarray. The angels are too distracted making pink triangles to pay attention to the latest project requested by the Chatelaine who spoils Achilles.

"I know!" the angel with mother-of-pearl eyes proclaims. Let's just recycle Petrus' wooden box for Achilles' toys!"

Great idea! the rest agree.

Thus, Achilles' toys (his favorite being the plastic keys provided by Meritage Press 2005 author Sean Finney) are now located in a wooden box, which is all for the better as ... Achilles also seems to like chewing on ... said wooden box.

Meanwhile: PINK TRIANGLES. Because a revolution is occuring beyond the Iron Gate and we all must be concerned. If there's anything the U.S. can learn from the Philippines, it's being wary of making "actor" be synonymous with "politican." That is just one unsatisfactory metaphor.

Read kari edwards' transdada blog for coverage on an issue that should concern everyone: gay marriage, yes, but more accurately: human rights.

Friday, February 27, 2004


The denizens of St. Helena and Calistoga may be used to seeing a long-haired lady in a New Trier soccer jacket (stolen from a college boyfriend) go up and down their respective Main Streets with a German shepherd puppy. Leash-training, folks. It's all part of this intensive obedience training for Achilles, now 17 weeks old -- but already weighs in at about 43 pounds. Now's the time to ingrain training into this pup...who, if I may digress, is even more drop-dead gorgeous than Moi and...that's saying a lot.

I've explained before that I want to be sure Achilles is well-trained as he looks to top 100 pounds as a mature dog and bad training can cause a dangerous animal.

But there's also another reason. Though Achilles comes from championship stock, I wasn't looking for a dog to compete in dog shows like the Westminster etc. I just wanted a fine dog for moi fallen angels. So, when I first ordered Achilles from his North Carolina breeder, I said, Yah, Moi prefers the dog neutered. The breeder BEGGED me to wait to see how Achilles develops -- because of Achilles' lineage. Mom was the No. 1 German Shepherd in the U.S. last year and Dad was the North American champion in 2001. If I'm bragging about Achilles again and you don't like it? Go away -- this is moi blog. Nope -- correcto: from hereon, this is the Chatelaine and Puppy Achilles' Blog!

Anyway, on neutering: this isn't an issue I'd thought about before -- I had just thought -- yeah, neuter the dog cause it's not like I plan to breed him. But the breeder begged...and, ya know, the Chatelaine has a soft heart.

What I've since learned is that not neutering a dog enhances Alpha Male tendencies. So this also means that if all these trainers floating about the mountain don't succeed in training Achilles to be a gentleman, he's more likely to be neutered:


Now, I've since fallen in love with moi puppy -- I'm sure you peeps can tell. And the very idea of cutting off Achilles' balls....well, it's just too painful. As I once wrote in a poem entitled "Latin" (from my Reproductions Of The Empty Flagpole -- SECOND PRINTING, not SECOND EDITION -- get that dang jargon correct, okay?!):

I have never liked my men on their knees.

So, peeps -- wish me luck with teaching Achilles to heel. A poet shouldn't ever desire to cut off anyone's balls. For Poetry....always retains its balls!

But then again, maybe Poetry ... also ... should never heel ...

Oh Ye Paradox -- are ye also a puppy?!


Now that the seven wonders of the night
have been stolen by history

Now that the sky is lost and the stars
have slipped into a book

Now that the moon is boiling
like the blood where it swims

Now that there are no blossoms left
to glue to the sky

What can I do, I who never invented

and who dreamed of you so much
I was amazed to discover

the claw marks of those
who preceded us across this burning floor
--from "Borrowed Love Poems" by John Yau

One of the Chatelaine's favorite duties is bringing attention to poets -- particularly poet-teachers -- who make a difference. Artist and poet Bard Edlund writes about my prior post:

thanks for bringing to mind Tan Lin. i met him at the Maryland Institute College of Art, as John Yau (my teacher) invited him to do a reading. i thought he was very interesting, and his way of thinking about language opened my mind further (that whole class opened my mind in different ways to what one can do with words). i think i'll have to check out his new book.

My pleasure to remind you, Bard. Yes -- do check out Tan's words. The "sculptural" (my word) approach he brings to text undoubtedly will be of interest as well.

And, thanks, too, for reminding me of John Yau -- one of my favorite poets and one of the most generous poet-teachers I have ever met. Check out this heartbreakingly beautiful poem, the title poem to his most recent poetry collection which everyone should read: BORROWED LOVE POEMS -- here's an excerpt:

What can I do, I never believed happiness
could be premeditated

What can I do, having argued with the obedient world
that language will infiltrate its walls

What can I do, now that I have sent you
a necklace of dead dried bees

and now that I want to
be like the necklace

and turn flowers into red candles
pouring from the sun

Thursday, February 26, 2004


If Language Poets might see “relaxing” as an abdication of critical faculties, [Tan] Lin apparently uses “boredom” and stimulation of a “relaxed” state to help readers stray from habits and expectations of reading and arrive at unfamiliar (perhaps “beautiful”) musical, linguistic, and perceptual enchantments: “Because most literature and especially poetry are fundamentally false forms of excitation and dread, it is necessary to repeat them”--through fragmentary sampling--“and by repeating forget what they were ‘about’” (17). In the poem itself, he intones: “I wrote this was repeated/ I wrote this again and again// . . . . All styles are the same” (322).
--from a circulating review by Thomas Fink of Tan Lin's BLIPSOAK01

Tan Lin sends forth an invitation. Though I won't be in New York to make it, I do recommend New Yorkers and those in New York this weekend check this out:


book signing | Tan Lin

Printed Matter Bookstore
535 W 22nd
New York City

saturday 2.28.04


I met Tan Lin, by the way, shortly after leaving banking for poetry, when I interviewed him about his first book LOTION BULLWHIP GIRAFFE. Can you imagine never having paid much attention to poetry before and being faced with his Sun & Moon book? (Read said book to know what I mean; you may enjoy the ride anyway....) But I loved his poems -- and I decided to write on it specifically because I didn't understand why I loved those poems. Well, I'm not sure that I now *know* why I love Tan's (or anyone's) poems -- what I do know is to not get moi feathers all ruffled from the uncertainty. (By the way, I used that interview to ask Tan a question I'd been dying to ask but was too embarassed to ask anyone else -- this was in 1986 or 1987, mind you -- "What is Language Poetry?")

Relatedly, Tom Fink's description in above epigraph recalls for me a favorite line by Charles Bernstein (from his Log Rhythms):

"you can't leave the theater humming the critique"

Ya know, the most brilliant artists I know are often those who aren't afraid to look dumb. I haven't yet had a chance to read BLIP SOAK 01 (though it's on my looooooong to-do list), but from this excerpt I saw in Tom Fink's review, it sounds like Tan succeeded in achieving his desire. Because Tan may have wanted to use boredom, but he certainly achieved beauty with such lines as these (due to Blogger format and moi ineptness, I rely on periods to indicate caesuras in the last lines):

I dined aroma
ginger oscillation flunk

I thought of you
You were silver

Like a page or

And what is gold when....................nois
handcuffs dimpled...........................surro

them, the

of your former..................................PARC.......AE

that they were my family implants pumping the dia.....pers
the dew scratches shoes


David Hess!

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


So, currently up on the Marsh Hawk Press Blog is an announcement, drafted by MHP Managing Editor Sandy McIntosh, as regards some happy news: 15 months after its release, moi book Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole has just been sent to press for a new SECOND EDITION! YaY! Bless the muses...

...and bless you all who have supported my work, including these poet-teachers who used it for their classes: Juliana Spahr (Mills College), Nick Carbo (Columbia College, Chicago), Chris Murray (University of Texas at Austin), Thomas Fink (LaGuardia Community College), Robert Gluck (San Francisco State University), Leny Strobel (Sonoma State University), Justin Chin (San Francisco State University)....I'm sure I'm missing others and I apologize ahead of time. I did want to thank the teachers specifically because many poetry books sell in volume mostly through textbook usage. By the way, I will be visiting Bob Gluck's class at SFSU on Monday (7-8:30 p.m.), March 9, to discuss the poems in Reproductions -- I believe it's open to the public (Humanities 133).

Oh, and yes, yes, I'm sure you oenophiles had something to do with the book's sales, too. Let Moi never, after all, forget my drunken constituency....

But anyway, there's something missing in the announcement at the Marsh Hawk Blog; the last paragraph is this one sentence:

Eileen R. Tabios is the winner of the Philippines National Book Award, among other distinguished prizes.

But when Sandy sent me the draft to look at, he had added another sentence to tweak my performance act of preening on this Chatelaine Blog, so that the first version I saw had this ending last paragraph:

Eileen R. Tabios is the winner of the Philippines National Book Award, among other distinguished prizes. And yet, she is so becomingly modest….

So, okay, yadda, we had a good laugh. Then Sandy proceeded to spam the world...except he forgot to delete the second sentence in his first group e-mail out there....

...which reminds me of yet another recent faux pas by Sandy. Whilst we were discussing his 12-inch measurement of what is actually 3 inches (about which I blogged last week) -- he swears he was talking about a poem instead of another thingie signified by another p-word -- we, as you peeps can imagine, were generating some purty ribald backchannel e-mails. Well, apparently, my name is next to the name of a MAJOR POET in Sandy's e-mail address book....and he mistakenly e-mailed said MAJOR POET one of those e-mails....had to to do with, if I recall correctly, hardness...


I will do it with words, if words mean anything to you.
--Eric Gamalinda

Among contemporary Filipino English-language poets, I feel the most affinity with the work of Eric Gamalinda. ("Affinity, if I need to say it, bespeaks personal preference, not an aesthetic judgement here -- a difference that I often think people don't understand...). Eric's essay in PINOYPOETICS is simply brilliant; I won't reprint it, but I do want to share his sample poem for the anthology....as that poem happens to capture The Chatelaine's Poetics: BEAUTY.

And given the times, let me clarify that it is a Beauty that partly represents the notion of lyric as protest against you ugly politicians, ugly warmongerers, ugly anti-gay marriage pontificators -- all y'all ugly hypocrites. You all should read this poem, too, and find God by denying your shadow gods.

Ach. I paused in the writing of this post to re-read Eric's PINOYPOETICS essay. It really is brilliant; here -- I'll share this much:

In the future, only beauty will shock us.

Interior language, exterior world. In the Philippines I wrote in English, the language that represented for me the interior, distinct from my material reality. It enabled me to go within, into a secret realm, because there was no chance for my poems to be read by too many people. It was also a language that filled me with contradictory emotions: while it expressed my innermost thoughts and emotions, it was nonetheless a language to which I had no native claim, and it deprived me of the immediacy a “native” language is supposed to give. It was a language that obliterated me, not only to myself but to the rest of the world, and especially to the empire which imposed it upon me, where a non-native speaker, an immigrant in the language, will always be inferior. But in the U.S., English has surfaced as my everyday language, not just the language of my poetry. It brought me face to face with my interior world, the world I had previously articulated only in private, and brought it up from its depths for everyone to see; it was a terrifying experience in the beginning, but it demolished another barrier for me: the barrier I had imposed upon language to protect me from my own emotions and memories. When people ask me if I have changed after years of living in America, I say yes: I have finally made my peace with the language.


And, finally, the narrative lurking beneath Eric's poem? It's how the Chatelaine ended up building a fortress on a mountain, then locking the Iron Gate.

So it's also quite synchronistic that Eric's poems, for me, represent the Chatelaine's Desire. His poems can't help but reflect the Renaissance that is his mind. Eric is a poet, novelist, critic, teacher, editor, visual artist and the list can go on. In fact, his most recent foray is into video and, immediately, he also became a master at it. His poem below was originally written for his video "Vera's Room" which just won 2nd and 3rd prizes at the recent Cultural Center of the Philippines Independent Film and Video Festival!!! Congrats, Eric! Were Eric to visit Galatea, the creatures in the forest would pause and hail the second coming of Da Vinci who, after all, spent his last days at Chateaux de Cloux...:

Final point -- this poem is presented in public by Eric as read out by a computer. Like...the Chatelaine is presented by Eileen Tabios as written out by a computer....[insert computerized cackle here]....nifty, eh?....[insert computerized fallen angel's giggle here]...

By Eric Gamalinda

One of these days I'm going to melt all the gold of Paris and turn it
                into money.
I'll spread it all over the ghettoes of the Arabs,
over the palm of the old woman begging on the steps of Barbes
she'll wake up with brilliant tattoos burning in her hands.
I'll take all the hunger of the world and use it as my ammunition.
I'll live in frontiers where languages merge and confuse the tongue.
I'll eat only chickpeas and pepper and learn to crush olives for oil.
I'll use the oil for bathing and nourishment and sex.
I'll follow an angel in the fog of the baths
and sit next to him while three men take turns sucking his cock.
I'll dream only on Tuesdays and only at 4 AM.
I'll be a prostitute for a night and earn my living giving pleasure.
I've already told you how the earth spins backward
                in the wrong direction and we'll wind up
in the first moment of the world.
I've told you that water decrees its own fate
and the deeper it is the less light you need;
that light moves in circles,
what you are now is already a reflection in a hundred years.
I've told you how I've seen the end of the world,
it will come slowly like madness, like a boat on the Seine.
I feel every life that is shown to me
comes when it is most broken and most in need,
and I tell you what I've already said:
I will pave the gold of Paris all over your lives,
I will do it with words, if words mean anything to you.
This is the way I've always known it,
though all my life I wanted not to believe,
I did everything I could not to believe.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


PINOYPOETICS is 150 pages over budget. At the moment, this anthology looks to clock over 500 pages. As its publisher through Meritage Press, I'ma scrambling here and there considering things like -- uh, 50 pound vs 70 pound weight paper, Publish-on-Demand technology any help?, or Should Moi Learn To Cook So's Moi Can Do Potluck Fundraising Events?...and so on.

The one option I'm not doing, which would be the easy fix, is to drop any author. How can I when even the young uns have reached deeeeeeeep to deliver messages like this below by Marlon Unas Esguerra. Who else would tell his story if not his own "people"? Forty-two English language Filipino poets in PINOYPOETICS (old vs young, established vs emerging -- it don't matter as most have been obscure(d) in the literary world). In PINOYPOETICS, they've all been undammed to damn a history of silencing. Here's Marlon with a poetics, followed by a sample poem:

By Marlon Unas Esguerra

FOR MANY Filipino Americans who do not deny their “Filipinoness,” there is that defining moment that makes them more than just a writer, more than just a purveyor of Asian American literature, more than just a spectator. There is that moment in college when you pick up Carlos Bulosan and read, “I know in my heart I live in exile in America.” Someone hands you a thin book with a picture of Bienvenido Santos on the cover (who looks like your Lolo) and you say to yourself skeptically, “Scent of Apples? Yeah, whatever.” You come upon Hagedorn, Roska, and Constantino as easily or randomly or magically as you do a Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, or The Last Poets. Or better yet, you hit that first open mic. There is a featured reading by a group of cats (showing my age) who look just like you, wear their hearts on their sloganized sleeves and have names like Kiwi, Faith, Balagtasan Collective, Isangmahal, 8th Wonder, Feedback, re:Verse or Two Tongues.

There is that moment when you realize that this is all connected. That the six degrees of separation among Filipinos is really just two degrees. That in the end you do have a story to tell that is worth telling. Somewhere between your identity politic and consciousness, your contradiction and critical analysis is poetry.

In the summer of 1998, the National Filipino American Youth Association (NFAYA) held its National Conference in an isolated Northwest suburb of Chicago.

Twist: a feature performance by Isangmahal Arts Kollective. Their One Love comprised of emcees, b-girls & b-boys, poets, singers, musicians, performance artists, visual artists, activists in-training, future teachers and social workers. All were under 25 years old. All were students or had recently graduated. All were Filipino and Filipino American. It was REBOLUSYON manifest, with all the unrelenting sincerity, audacity to dream, and passion for art and community that would frighten their parents but inspire a new generation. All this in the middle of Illinois Suburbia!

Twist: an open mic after their reading. A young poet Dennis Sangmin Kim and I had found each other in the people of color, politically-charged open mic scene in Chicago a year before. Our 14-minute duet/tirade at the open mic forged a bond between Isangmahal and what would soon be (with Emily Chang and Anida Yoeu Esguerra) the panAsian spoken word group, I Was Born with Two Tongues. Several group poems, 300 miles, no sleep, another conference, and twenty-four hours later, the two degrees set forth to rewrite the world.

What I’ve found in my process is simple. There is a continuity in community that I cannot deny. There is a responsibility to my art that is intrinsically political, anti-empire, and anti-assimilationist. I will change the world with a pen. On my sleeve are the tools and in MAKIBAKA are the two degrees massive: Hagedorn, Linmark, Galang, Carbo, Santos, Isangmahal, Santilla, Freedom, Kiwi, Bindlestiff, Balagtasan, SIPA, Maganda Mag, MaARTe, P.A.C.I.F.I.C.S., Blue Scholars, Mango Tribe and on.

I am not only a high school teacher because it pays the bills, nor do I teach to fill my time while I pursue my aspirations as a young writer. I strive to change the world with a pen and I feel my time as an artist is contingent upon my accountability and responsibility to community. My audience may be the world, but my work is congruent to those who have been failed by the falsehood of the American Dream and American material prosperity. My poetics include the story of my father, my neighborhood in gentrification, a corrupt Chicago, a cowboy America. I start from a place that I know, and that place does not deny my privilege nor my internalized patriarchy.



Eliza wants to be a botanist
because she needs to believe
that grass is just grass–
it's the fences we need to work on.

Francisco is always on the verge
of falling asleep because high school,
high school ain't a life and death matter,
and in one year all that rest will come in handy
when he has 24/7 of real life to deal with.

Jose scribbled all of two lines
in our last G.E.D. class.
Where will you be in five years, I asked.
His answer–
I'll be dead or in county.
I'll be with God, and I'll finally be safe.

Maria claims the West Siiiide!
She dots all her I's with those cute little hearts
but transferred out of my class to enroll in gym.

Daniel journals everyday.
but smoked up two weeks before graduation
and got kicked out.

Gus? No one has seen Gus for weeks.
Some king wants him dead for looking at his girl.

Raul wants to know,
Yo, teach? We gonna watch a movie today, man?
F+, man!
but said yesterday,
Yo, check it, words are only meaningful to those
who need to know that words can heal.

David? Well, David calls himself Bob.
but yo, check it–
Bob says he spells his name backwards.

Vladimir hates poetry
because he just can't get it sometimes.
but he never, ever, quits trying.

And what of their teacher?
What of his grade?
What of this teacher who wants something to die for?
Who wants to tell them–
It will be alright.
You will survive this.

This from the teacher
on the undergraduate ten-year plan.
This from the teacher
who needs to know it will be alright.
F – self pity
who knows he has a chance to do it right this time.
D+ – better
who knows that ten hours of lesson planning
can fall apart depending on what time of day class begins.
who needs to write more love poems to his wife.
F, minus
who cries over the words his students write.
who cries when classes fall
from twelve to six to two all the time.
who wants it all for his students
and knows there is work to be done.


in brazil/ the women samba/ only with their legs/ their faces are somber/ and their upper torsos/ never move

her dreams were filled with ghosts/ perched on her bony wrists/ grinning gargoyles/ who menaced her every step/ and wouldn't/ let her go

she longed to be/ her mother/ in a silver dress/ some softly fading memory/ lifting her legs/ in a sinuous tango
--from "The Woman Who Thought She Was More Than A Samba" by Jessica Hagedorn

So I learned recently that Poetry and Swimming share the same ass. Yah, I returned to the pool to attempt swimming again -- this time, I was just trying to improve my endurance and form by going as long as I can by kicking and holding forth to a blue floating thingie across the pool. And as I kept doing such, I discovered that if you lift up your ass up so you're more horizontally-inclined, it improves your speed and is, I assume, improving your form.

Now, I'm sure you savvy swimmers out there are all a hoo-haa or rolling your eyes over my eensy-teensy swimming steps. But are you entertaining me or am I entertaining you? Anyhow....so, there I was in the pool and, yes, I discovered that I should lift my breathtakingly lovely ass as I must have been swimming forward at an incline off of the horizontal.

And lifting that ass, you see, has to do with poetry -- at least in terms of how Jessica Hagedorn discussed such in Black Lightning. To wit, La Jessica noted (and aptly so): a poem shouldn't be words sittin down,fannin themselves....

So if you wish to write a good poem, peeps, just raise said poem's ass up to the sky. Cause a poem, baby, don't just sit on its ass, hoarding its gas....(And, Michael -- thanks for calling moi Reproductions "extraordinary" but, Sweetie -- not being flatulent seems a higher standard to me than the line break for judging a poem...wink).

See all the poetry lessons that you can glean from only this blog?

Here's a poem I scratched out last night that seems relevant to this topic, and as dictated by Carlos Santana!

"Samba Pa Ti" (#2)

--for Jim, who swims and writes poems with equal flux-ibility

A fifth of my life
in water, I defined myself

to her who now asks
after her second swimming class

"Raising my ass
improves my kick, right?"

Air shifts, and the water
I see is suddenly elsewhere

Two turtles side by side
traversing the Sea of Cortes

I focus to respond, "No
You want to be parallel

with the water surface. You
want as little splash as possible"

The turtles return before my mind's
eyes. As before, their languid wake

the most erotic thing I have ever
witnessed not made by a woman

Now, she is telling me, "Damn
While swimming, I'd so wanted to

moon the sun"

Monday, February 23, 2004


So, today, I took Achilles for a car drive for the first time without his doggy seat belt!! And moi puppy behaved like ... an angel!!! We ended up driving for a couple of hours through the pretty vineyards under a beautiful sunlit and seamless blue sky as I was just so pleased that he just sat there like a princely gentleman....which is to say, he didn't fart -- which The Adorable One has done in his favored petsitter's jeep!

Unfortunately, Chatelaine duty on continuing to take care of moi puppy precludes me from visiting Chicago for AWP and this -- but hope you attend! Comadre Evelina just sent this notice:

Wednesday, March 24th, 7:30*
$7/$5 (guild members/AWP members)

Screaming Monkeys
Hosted by Marlon and Anida Esguerra

For the first time, collaborators from Screaming Monkeys gather from across America to read from this ground-breaking anthology about the complexity of being Asian American. Screaming Monkeys was conceptualized by fiction writer M. Evelina Galang, poet Eileen Tabios, scholar Sunaina Maira, artist Jordin Isip, and spoken word activist and graphic artist Anida Yoeu Esguerra. Like the editors of this anthology, the contributors of Screaming Monkeys speak from a multiplicity of experiences as writers, artists, scholars and activists. This anthology illustrates the diverse and often disparate perspectives within Asian American culture and the many histories integral to understanding America. A book signing by the contributors follows the reading.

*$5 special admission price with Associated Writing Programs conference badge

For more information, call 773-227-6117

The Guild Complex is located at the Chopin Theater, 1543 W. Division, Chicago, IL 60622
Free Parking at Holy Trinity Church, two blocks east of Milwaukee, on Division between Cleaver and Noble
Public Transportation directions: Take Blue Line, stop at Division. go south on Ashland, make a left on Division, the Chopin is on the South side (right hand side) on Division (next to Right on Futon).


"as ever, light"
--from "Tuesday Afternoon" by Evelyn Lau

Joseph Garver writes in to say, "Did you see that Diane Ackerman has a molecule named after her, dianeackerone, a hormone secreted by crocodiles, I think?" Very kewl! I'm now reading my second Ackerman book, ORIGAMI BRIDGES. I'm going to share an excerpt from her Author's Note to Readers because it may fascinate youse as it did moi:

"Perhaps readers would find it interesting to learn how these poems were written and the unusual role they played. This wasn't a planned book, but one that geysered up naturally over a year and a half, during which I wrote poems daily. I began writing them to corrol the unruly emotions that arose during intense psychotherapy...

"An unusual aspect of my therapy was that my analyst and I lived in distant towns. Once a month of so I would visit him in his office. However, most weeks we spoke by telephone, which in some ways allowed greater intimacy and risk, although it deprived us of the lavish visual cues that can be so telling. The voice is lavish, too. I had been a telephone crisis-line counselor for several years, and so I felt comfortable dealing with steep emotions by phone, a drama which has its own fascinating dynamics. Although I don't know my doctor's background, he was a profoundly nuanced listener. Somehow this combination of methods worked remarkably well. A telephone receiver is perforated like a confessional screen, you miss the shame of eye contact, the other's voice seems to originate inside your head, mental portraits of the other form while you're talking, and so on. As in traditional psychoanalysis, you don't see the analyst. Then, when you do meet face-to-face, other elementes come into play.

"I sent him the poems that emerged, hot off the heart, and they became an important part of therapy, another place where we could meet. There's a tradition of using artworks in this way, children's drawings especially, and it opened up some unexpected avenues. of course, psychotherapy and lyrical poetry address many of the same issues, and they both create a space where one can explore one's relationship with one's self and others. However, my chief goal with this book was to write the best poetry I could; its usefulness in therapy was felicitous, but secondary. That's why I sent out, and subsequently published, many of the poems in literary journals without telling the editors anything about them. They are, after all, simply deeply felt poems about one of the most important relationships in one's life."


Here's a sample poem from ORIGAMI BRIDGES -- just gorgeous and what a fluid movement between visiting a psychoanalyst and scubadiving!

The Ascent

Your building's facial muscles
set long ago in a beautiful countenance
of iron, granite, and swirling cement.
Now all who visit must pass
through a glittering darkness--
a wide cave of black stone
flashing splinters of light
with tiny patches of feldspar
translucent as skin.

I have no key to your door.
When the buzzer smarts
I respond on cue and push in,
then enter a narrow elevator
built just for two, and rise
at a surprisingly tranquil rate.

The last time I levitated
as imperceptibly as this
I was 90 feet below the waves
traveling through canyons
of brain coral and anemones,
then watching a blur
of boat and sky far above,
a guide pacing the climb,
while I surfaced in slow motion
lest my heart explode.

Oh, the bubbles that can form
in the blood, dropping one cold.
Rising, falling--in half light
it's hard to know which way is up.
The senses are easily bedeviled.
Sometimes one needs a journeyman
to keep one's spirit level.

I love the ending of this poem -- for also recalling a topic of conversation I've sometimes had with other poets and artists, that is, the idea of whether one should marry/partner up with another artist. That is, assuming poets and artists are "flakier" (so to speak) than more solid citizens (so to speak), it may not be the best idea to be hooked up with another artist. So there's a lot of (false) assumptions in that line of thinking that lead to a (false) stereotype as a conclusion. But I can't help but be grateful, too, that I've been married to a lawyer with an even keel of a personality; I've sometimes thought of my husband as the necessary person on ground holding on to the string from which I, as kite, flies but ... without becoming so unmoored as to be blown away onto some dangerous space...

...which is not to say, the kite's not trapped in longing to penetrate that sunlit cobalt sky...


I'd said earlier that Ackerman also evokes, for me, Evelyn Lau -- I'd made that observation prior to reading ORIGAMI BRIDGES. Lau, of course, has written brilliantly as well on experiences with an analyst, such as in her poem "Tuesday Afternoon" (from OEDIPAL DREAMS) excerpted below:

your office stays white like princesses,
as in fairy tales.
some days you laugh, some days your eyes harbor
a suspicion of wet, your legs are
crossed or uncrosse,d your hands
are filled with pens or toy hearts or marble sticks.
sometimes you speak as if there were a child in the room
when there is only me.
I spoke for years as if there were a crowd in the room
when there was only you.
you survived the hatreds and the lusts,
black, red, you knew the colors.

when light shattered across the floor
and briefly there was thunder between us, if your eyes
had held water it would not have spilled
and when we peeled aside the dreams the skin underneath
was still young. when all was black
you smoothed aside the words and said, It's there,
the light, when you want it
it'll be waiting for you--
and a certain peace came into your eyes,
that this was no different, that this was so different
yet every bit the same, and your hands stilled with satisfaction.
you did this without touch
so that all around me your hands stood
shaped like shelters, all around me there was room
and after each hour the hallways outside were like caverns
and around the corner and down the stairs
there lurked as always, light,
as ever, light.

Sunday, February 22, 2004


...it was grace to live
among the fruits of summer, to love by design,
and walk the startling Earth
for what seemed
an endless resurrection of days.
--from "I Praise My Destroyer" by Diane Ackerman

Lordy! Lordy! There I was at a bookstore causing eyebrows to rise as I praised no less than Lord God Almighty as I flipped through Diane Ackerman's I PRAISE MY DESTROYER. She got me with the first poem....then hooked me in with the title poem that sort of melds (for me) Arthur Sze, William Blake and (of all people) Evelyn Lau (yes, that last might cause more eyebrows to rise; I refer here to Lau's -- and Ackerman's -- scientifically lucid and penetrating sights). I immediately purchased the book, along with the only other Ackerman title there, ORIGAMI BRIDGES. I do that -- when I fall in love with a poet, I try to read everything they've ever written. I have a feeling I'm about to enter an Ackerman phase.

It's calmer to look away,
not swallow the light whole,
but I crave its riveting heat
and molten tears, its lifebloom
and bomb-bright hurrahs.
For last night I dreamed death
pawing at my chest -- an invisible beast
with an antler of stars.

--from "San Francisco Sunrise" by Diane Ackerman

She apparently has been around for a while but she is new to me. This poet....is GOLD, GOLD, GOLD! Ackerman is also a naturalist, and so it's fitting that from one of her poems, I finally understand why birds fly at maximum speed to crash and die before certain windows of Galatea -- I've been stunned and shaken by the sight of bleeding and dying birds on various pathways after they failed to penetrate Galatea's glass shields. Now I understand why the birds choose to die -- for loneliness is difficult to survive, particularly when one still remembers desire:


In dawn's feathered light,
a lady cardinal hurls herself
against my bedroom window:

Hallucinations stalk the glass
as she slams her softness
into a flat, cold world,

trying to perch on a limb
perfect in the sunlight,
but it will not hold her
skidding feet, her urgent thumping.

The hours are long panes
of glass she cannot enter:
Love wings through
another world without her.

Tomorrow, it will begin again,
only louder, the frantic pounding
of her feathery will,

the grinding down of her notes,
one by one, in the glare of reflection,
where loneliness stuns her.


Richard and Phyllis in town. Dinner last night at Terra, one of the great restaurants in wine country. (If you're into cooking, check out chefs Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani's cookbook here.) We brought our own wines for dinner:

1996 Etienne Sauzet Batard Montrachet
1997 Torbreck Run Rig Barossa Valley
Chambers NV Fine Muscat (Solera style)

And here are this week's house wines at Galatea. For white, still plowing through the 2000 Kistler Dutton Ranch chardonnay. For reds:

1996 Pahlmeyer Merlot Napa Valley
1996 Seavey Cabernet
2001 Dutch Henry Merlot
(Dutch Henry is our neighbor and its airedales play with moi Achilles!)
1997 Classic McLaren Shiraz
2000 Volker Eisele Family Estate Terzetto

Hic. I mean, Sip.

Friday, February 20, 2004


As a manifestation of my poetics, I offer the prose poem "Corolla," which I began in homage to Filipina women's literature. I began to write this prose poem by "plagiarizing," then collaging, and then rewriting fragments from the works of many of the Filpina writers represented in Babaylan. I titled it "Corolla" because when I think of Filipina women, I think of flowers: the beauty and variety of flowers -- including the lush bloom who is my mother -- that comprise my motherland.
--from "Rupturing Language for the Rapture of Beauty," Editor's Essay for BABAYLAN

I'm moving files from one computer to the other....and it suddenly occured to me I can use Blogger as a bulletin board (temporarily in some cases) rather than continuously e-mailing myself. This works out particularly well for noting some information regarding my poem "Corolla" (from Reproductions) which, to date, is the poem I've used the most for collaborations with other artists from a variety of disciplines, including dancer-choreographers Pearl Ubungen and Johanna Almiron. "Corolla" also was interpreted by poet-painter-jazz singer Christina Querrer and jazz pianist Don Profitt. They had performed it during the book's 2002 launch in New York.

What's nifty now about comparing the lyrics with my six-paragraph prose poem is to see which phrases caught their ear as well as eye -- recalling, too, how I'd marveled at the honor of hearing the "song" version of my poem (which is also to say, contrary to that oft-told phrase, No -- a poem is not song; it can sing, but a poem is not song. A poem is simply a poem.)

Heart's gratitude once more for

vocals & lyrics by Cristina Querrer
musical score/arrangement & piano by Don Profitt

lyrics derived from Eileen Tabios' poem entitled "Corolla"


If my bones were hollow
Like flutes made from reeds
Movement from marrow
I have no use for calm seas

Sometimes I pray
Sometimes I pray

Only God
Only God
Only God

A girl in me is a country
Throughout this archipelago
My people are always hungry
(There's no place I'd rather go...no, no, no)

I'm drowning in air
I'm drowning in air

Only God
Only God
Only God

(can take me there)
(can take me there)


Here's the original poem


Sometimes, I pray. Love is always haggled before it becomes. I clasp my hands around my disembodied truth: I am forever halved by edges--in group photos, on classroom seats, at mahogany dining tables whose lengths still fail to include me. I play myself perfectly, containing a Catholic hell within my silence to preserve the consolation of hope. Hope--once, I tipped Bing cherries into a blue bowl until I felt replete in the red overflow.

If my bones were hollow, like flutes made from reeds, I might savor the transcendence of Bach flowing through me rather than the fragile movement of marrow. "These are thoughts which occur only to those entranced by the layered auras of decay," my mother scolds me. I agree, but note the trend among artisans in sculpting prominent breasts on immobilized Virgin Marys. She replies, "But these are moments lifted out of context."

The green calyx emphasizes the burden of generously-watered corollas, though beauty can be emphasized from an opposite perspective. I have no use for calm seas, though I appreciate a delicadeza moonlight as much as any long-haired maiden. You see, my people are always hungry with an insistence found only in virgins or fools. It is my people's fate for focusing on reprieves instead of etched wrinkles on politicians' brows and mothers' cheeks. We are uncomfortable encouraging dust to rise.

I feel pain spread like wine staining silk--a gray wing, then grey sky. "Only God," I begin to whisper, before relenting to the tunes hummed by ladies with veiled eyes. The definition of holidays becomes the temporary diminishment of hostile noise. I do not wish to know what engenders fear from my father, even if it means I must simulate an aging beauty queen clutching photos of tilted crowns. I prefer to appreciate from a distance those points where land meets water: I prefer the position of an ignored chandelier.

When lucidity becomes too weighty, when the calyx sunders, I concede that I make decisions out of diluting my capacity for degradation. I frequently camouflage my body into a Christmas tree. I cannot afford to consider soot-faced children stumbling out of tunnels dug deep enough to plunge into China's womb. You say the rice cooker is flirting with its lid; I say, I AM DROWNING IN AIR. I have discovered the limitations of wantonness only in the act of listening. There is no value in negative space without the intuitive grid.

I am called "Balikbayan"* because the girl in me is a country of rope hammocks and waling-waling orchids--a land with irresistible gravity because, in it, I forget the world's magnificent indifference. In this country, my grandmother's birthland, even the dead are never cold and I become a child at ease with trawling through rooms in the dark. In this land, throughout this archipelago, I am capable of silencing afternoons with a finger. In this country where citizens know better than to pick tomatoes green, smiling grandmothers unfurl my petals and begin the journey of pollen from anthers to ovary. There, stigma transcends the mark of shame or grief to be the willing recipient of gold-rimmed pollen. In my grandmother's country, votive lights are driven into dark cathedrals by the flames of la luna naranja, a blood-orange sun.

Footnote *: "Balikbayan" means "one who returns"


Sandy McIntosh just wrote in. He says he keeps "measuring it and measuring it and it is really 12 inches!"


You know -- when I have nothing to say, that's usually when I get into trouble when I still open my mouth. Like, this morning, I e-mailed Sandy McIntosh to make sure he sees what Shanna Compton nicely said about his poem about moi. The way I put it though, was as follows, because, sigh, how I love to amuse moiself:

Shanna praised your poem on her blog (Feb. 19 post). I really think you should title that poem

"Eileen Tabios"

Then, I think you should include it in your next poetry collection.

Then, I think you should make that poem the book's title poem, which means of course that you should title your next book


That's not too narcissistic of moi, is it?


To which Sandy replied:

Just looked on Shanna's site. Wow. Thanks for alerting me. That's great praise for something I just tossed off in the middle of a restless sleep (thinking of you, apparently).

Or, as Jim Tate puts it (in "Fire Dance"):

O once in a while
I roll over and dictate a poem:
I smile graciously at this
charming act of condescension
and my thirty-three wives applaud

quietly. The next day it appears
in The New Yorker and I donate
the paltry reward to the veterans
of the Turko-Cuban Civil War...
(etc. etc.)

Then Sandy continues, "What happened to the "R", as in "Eileen R Us", or "Eileen R Moi"?

Graciously, I replied, "Well, if you insist.  Fine, include moi middle initial..."

Consequently, as I have nothing else to blog about except perhaps to remind you all of Chris Stroffolino's and Joseph Lease's reading tonight at Small Press Traffic (I'm trying my darnedest to be there -- if you see the Long-Lashed-One, say Hi!), here is Sandy's poem again with its brand new title. As this blog is about moi, needless to say, I don't mind repeating the poem.

"I really think you should title that poem 'Eileen Tabios'"
--Eileen R. Tabios

Eileen Tabios
Today announced
That her next book
Will be
5000 pages long.
In an unrelated development
Eileen Tabios
That she has acquired
A major interest
In International Harvester,
The only U.S. manufacturer
Of oversized-poetry book forklifts.

It was learned
Early today
That Eileen Tabios'
Book for the following year
Will be
13,000 pages long.
In an unrelated development
Eileen Tabios
That she has acquired
San Francisco's famous
Coit Tower
Which she will convert
To a library
Housing one large print
Version of her book.

It was learned
Early today
That Eileen Tabios
Has acquired large tracts
Of the Pacific Ocean
For an unknown purpose.
In an unrelated development
Eileen Tabios
That the number of pages
Of her future books
Will be measured
In leagues and fathoms.

It was learned
Early today

(continued next page)


Sandy adds about the poem: "I propose that it appear in the new Meritage Press anthology, The Thousand Best Poems Dedicated To Eileen Tabios. I shall edit it, of course, and include only the most heart-felt examples of piosity."

Preeeen. I'll think about it Sandy. And she returns to preening before said preening is rudely interrupted by YET ANOTHER e-mail from him apparently protesting my note in my prior post saying, "the -- hmph! -- 3-inch-pretending-to-be-12-inch poem by Sandy McIntosh in my post "I WANT IT THICK AND LONG"...
Sandy: Well, I gotta think anyone who's next book will be ____ hundreds of pages is compensating for something.

Chatelaine: Well, it ain't penis envy, Sandy!


And the moral of the story is (continued next page)....

Thursday, February 19, 2004




Speaking of passion, Moi is voracious, you know -- like, I've had four homemade banana splits with Haagen Daaz Tres Leche ice cream with caramel and hot fudge sauce in the past five days. Each serving was of the size that normally would be shared by two peeps. Voracious -- that's moi. (Plus I got angels to heal with moi own blood). Work hard, play hard. But, still, to come out with -- and I'm not revealing moi page count yet -- a thick book in the hundreds of pages in a world of 48-72-pagers? Eh -- why not? That's moi book I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED... (Marsh Hawk Press, 2005).

What a relief to hear from Leny:

The chatelaine's ancestor in writing the longest poem is a Filipino named Padre Anselmo Jorge de Pajardo (1785-1845) from Bacolor, Pampanga, who after theological studies at the University of Santo Tomas, sailed to Spain and upon his return wrote "Gozales de Cordona," a three volume epic of 832 pages, 31,000 lines, which took seven nights (instead of the usual three nights) to stage.

And Shanna Compton also writes about the -- hmph! -- 3-inch-pretending-to-be-12-inch poem by Sandy McIntosh in my post "I WANT IT THICK AND LONG" (scroll below and I'da been dying for a flimsy excuse to proclaim that phrase anew, btw):

It was learned early today... that this poem is wonderful. I love poems friends write for each other.
And as for the promised # of pages--go Eileen!

Thanks, Leny (though it's not quite a "long poem.") And thanks Shanna. Go indeed I shall!

Relatedly as regards lengthy projects, I'm in the midst of becoming acquainted with DaDaDa by Catherine Daly. And on my to-do list is a book review of Basil King's "Mirage" project. Marsh Hawk Press just released his latest volume, MIRAGE: A POEM IN 22 SECTIONS. But that volume is only the last of a four-book series which includes THE COMPLETE MINIATURES (Stop Press, 1997), DEVOTIONS (Stop Press, 1997) and WARP SPASM (Spuyten Duyvil, 2001). The series works, too, in a single volume.

I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED... could have worked as four different volumes as well. But its combination in one book would have precluded this collection from being called a "quar(quin)tuplet" -- a word concocted by Sandy in his capacity as MHP Managing Editor. You see, the combination of the four volumes allow for the generation of a fifth invisible book....obviously, more details later.

Her Chatty Eyes Gleam The Sunset "Right Back Atcha!" as she adds: Right now, I gotta heed the call of another huge bowl of banana split out there with moi name on it, and it ain't "Slim" or "Shorty"!


Moi is so stressed. It's partly what caused my newest poem on Gasps -- the feeling of these hard scales on my tensed up shoulders. I am stressed for several reasons -- but, thankfully, the one related to Achilles was just resolved! Do I feel one scale soften?!

Achilles, as I write this, is now four months and four days old!!! Well, in the past week, his right ear flopped over. He's been looking quite clownlike going about the mountain with one long elegant ear and ... one floppy ear. So, at first, I thought the problem was that the cartilage was not developing well in one ear...or one of his handlers had mis-handled said ear. (If you see German Shepherd puppies, play with them but please leave their ears alone).

Well, I just heard from Achilles' breeder in North Carolina, to wit:

So he's big, beautiful and spoiled....well that sounds good to me. As far as the ears go, he is just getting ready to start losing baby teeth....you may start finding them in your hands as you play with him over the next couple weeks....during this teething period, very often the ears fall down.....you don't need to do anything. Leave them alone....that's best. Once the second set of teeth are fully in, the ears should be back up and stay up. Often times, the bigger boned dogs take a little longer for the ears to go up and stay up. He's in that category. But nothing to do or worry about. I'm really looking forward to a photo from him....I'd love to put it on my website with a little note from you if you care to put a testimonial together.

Whew! Well, when his photo is placed up on that website, you all -- to wit, my beloved 9.7 million peeps plus a handful of college sophomores -- naturally will be the first to know!!! And, for the record, Achilles is waaaaay more handsome and glorious than any of the photos of his relatives on the website!

Naturally, I shall bronze each and everyone of Achilles' baby teeth....!


I once bought Van Gogh's LETTERS TO THEO a dozen times in a dozen different cities. See, I bought it to read and it just never left the to-read pile. Then I'd pick it up at a bookstore during my travels planning to read it on the plane or during my trip...and never got to it. I kept picking it up at different cities while the unread copies piled up at home. Finally, I read it -- AND ENJOYED IT -- though the initial impetus for reading it was simply my tiredness of continually buying the dang book.

Anyway, if there's anyone out there with extra copies of the same poetry book for whatever reason and would like to trade for some of my extra copies, let me know. Or if you have a poetry book I don't have that you wish to trade, let me know. We can just e-mail them book rate to teach other! Here are some extra copies that I can trade for books I don't have:

UNDER FLAG by Myung Mi Kim
SAY GOODNIGHT (uncorrected page proofs) by Timothy Liu
GRAVITIES OF CENTER by Barbara Jane Reyes
SEEKING AIR by Barbara Guest
AUTUMN SONATA by Georg Trakl

The above really are spare copies. If it needs to be said, I view poetry books like paintings and other works of art. I don't resell them. I do keep them permanently at home with me. Whether or not I cared for an individual poetry collection, I keep the books around -- it's all part and parcel of yet another belief of mine: as poets, ultimately, we're all writing the same book.

Oh, and I suppose I also would trade for the books I publish via Meritage Press:

OPERA: POEMS 1981-2002 by Barry Schwabsky
100 MORE JOKES FROM THE BOOK OF THE DEAD by John Yau and Archie Rand

(Moi other title, Garret Caples' er, um, is basically out of print -- Yay!!! That is, out of stock in terms of my publisher's stock; though there may be some left still at moi distributor SPD.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


Well, I had to take this test since, from Michelle's link, it was a matter of wingtips!

You are a PHOENIX in your soul and your
wings make a statement. Huge and born of flame,
they burn with light and power and rebirth.
Ashes fall from your wingtips. You are an
amazingly strong person. You survive, even
flourish in adversity and hardship. A firm
believer in the phrase, 'Whatever doesn't kill
you only makes you stronger,' you rarely fear
failure. You know that any mistake you make
will teach you more about yourself and allow
you to 'rise from the ashes' as a still greater
being. Because of this, you rarely make the
same mistake twice, and are not among the most
forgiving people. You're extremely powerful and
wise, and are capable of fierce pride, passion,
and anger. Perhaps you're this way because you
were forced to survive a rough childhood. Or
maybe you just have a strong grasp on reality
and know that life is tough and the world is
cruel, and it takes strength and independence
to survive it. And independence is your
strongest point - you may care for others, and
even depend on them...but when it comes right
down to it, the only one you need is yourself.
Thus you trust your own intuition, and rely on
a mind almost as brilliant as the fire of your
wings to guide you.You are eternal and because
you have a strong sense of who and what you
are, no one can control your heart or mind, or
even really influence your thinking. A symbol
of rebirth and renewal, you tend to be a very
spiritual person with a serious mind - never
acting immature and harboring a superior
disgust of those who do. Likewise, humanity's
stupidity and tendency to want others to solve
their problems for them frustrates you
endlessly. Though you can be stubborn,
outspoken, and haughty, I admire you greatly.

*~*~*Claim Your Wings - Pics and Long Answers*~*~*
brought to you by Quizilla

Yeah-right; I'm sure it's correct -- particularly since it proclaims I never act "immature...." Cackle. Although, amazingly, the result hearkens my "Muse Poem" from moi book:


She spends her days in a dusty room, its lone window shuttered, the air lit with the glow from a computer screen, and stacks of books melting into the shadows. This is the way it should be. Her eyes are open to a parallel universe where silence is alien, for silence has no color. She sees no reason to censor the mountain from saffron, the sky from celadon, the boulder from lavender, the bougainvillea from cobalt, the grass from ebony, the diamond from cerise, or you from me.

Or me from you. But everything costs. To define the Muse as forgetting memory is to begin by birthing a mask, then becoming subservient to it. Even if one must learn to allow shackles on one's wrists, fall to one's knees--then bow once more after begging for more lashes from the whip. All for the hope that welts will be permanent to create new parts of my body that may rise at the thought of your touch.

The use of third-party pronouns in a poem will not spare me from the sight of your back receding as the door slowly closes. This is the way it should be. I must crawl towards where I recall the door to be, uncertain of who you have become on the other side. When I find the door by scenting blood, I must open it by first remembering fear. I must remember fear. For nothing must be silenced. There must be color.

Like the color of Wet: bittersweet, bloodshot, blooming, blush, brick, burgundy, cardinal, carmine, cerise, cherry, chestnut, claret, copper, coral, crimson, dahlia, flaming, florid, flushed, fuchsia, garnet, geranium, glowing, healthy, inflamed, infrared, magenta, maroon, pink, puce, rose, roseate, rosy, rubicund, ruby, ruddy, russet, rust, salmon, sanguine, scarlet, titian, vermilion, wine. . .

Nothing must be silenced. There must be color. Though I remember fear, I have heard the memory of a Taoist shaman whispering: "Bright pure color represents the virtue. Bright white for strength, courage and rectitude. Bright blue for gentleness and wisdom. Bright green for kindness and benevolence. Bright golden yellow for balance, centeredness and fairness. Bright red for love, joy and compassion." I must remember fear, before remembering to forgive myself.

Nothing must be silenced. There must be color. Like the color of Wet: RED.


It doesn't matter how high the pile of unread books are at home. Whenever I travel (and I often bring books I've long been planning to read), I still stop by airport bookstores and buy books to read. Now, I realize that I have a different mindset for air travel reading -- that entertainment value ranks high, which I suspect is to obviate the tedious boredom of being stuck in a plane for hours. In the plane, I don't want to work or deep-think; I want to be entertained.

From my last trip to New York, two novels (out of perhaps seven I read) are worth mentioning for the ways they address passion:

All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve (though this wasn't as good, for me, as some of her prior works like Sea Glass or Fortune's Rocks) and The Green Hour by Frederic Tuten. The latter is clearly the more masterful; just compare how both write about Ye Olde Passionate Life:

From All He Ever Wanted:
"In a further aside, I should just like to add here that I have observed in my sixty-four years that passion both erodes and enhances character in equal measure, and not slowly but instantly, and in such a manner that what is left is not in balance but is thrown desperately out of kilter in both directions. The erosion the result of the willingness to do whatever is necessary to obtain the object of one's desire, even if it means engaging in lies or deception or debasing what was once treasured. The enhancement a result of the knowledge that one is capable of loving greatly, an understanding that leaves one, paradoxically, with a feeling of gratitude and pride in spite of all the carnage."

Sorry Anita Shreve -- I don't buy the above. The passage is posited to be offered by a 64-year-old who's learned some wisdom through his experiences, such that he concludes the above. Wisdom, I believe, would have required just a bit less of the self-centeredness that allows one to feel "gratitude and pride" from being capable of creating "carnage." Don't get me wrong -- for passion, one may end up in a situation where one wouldn't have done things differently despite the carnage; but to feel "gratitude and pride"? Worse -- the kind of dispassion that would make the protagonist confident that there's a 100% balance ("equal measure") between the erosion and enhancement of character?

On the other hand, here's

From The Green Hour:
"Class interests inform class thinking, she did not need Rex to remind her of that. They were now informing hers, even if only at Eric's secondhand. Long ago she had conceived of a world above such interests, when she was alone facing a painting she loved and feeling its beauty divorced from the world and the artist who had created it or when she stood alone before the sea, swelling to join the sky, herself melting away into the greater universe where the world's struggles were not registered in eternity.
               "Such heightened moments even her practical father had felt, at night, on deck, his head ot the constellations, his body swaying with the sea swells. She could recognize in his voice the little ecstasy that had come over him in the starry darkness.
               "'Better than church, isn't it? His voice soft like a child's just woken from a beautiful dream....
               She wanted, for the years she had left, her life free of guilt, without Rex's social reminders or his moral example. At the bottom there was no value, principle, ideal, or person worth sacrificing a moment of her life. In the end, there was only the life lived, with its intensity, and its freedom."


Whether or not one would agree with what's offered in Tuten's excerpt, I think Tuten's approach works better than Shreve's for lacking hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, avoiding hypocrisy is easier said than done. In Shreve's novel, it effects a less nuanced work despite the lyricism that thread through the writing. And the fictional construct also reveals itself as a construct, rather than (believably) felt.


So my beloved publisher is pretending to be discombobulated by a recent message from moi alerting them to the page count of my 2005 book.

Who reads _____ pages of poems, Marsh Hawk Press Managing Editor Sandy McIntosh asks? (This, btw, is after he advised that I cut down on the sauce as regards my recent post on the "blackout".)

What Moi didn't say was: Please. Who reads 40 pages -- or 4 pages -- of poems, fullstop?

Many poetry collections are slim due to economic constraints -- i.e., it's difficult to make money off poetry books so it's best to keep the costs down. But that's an economic -- not necessarily an aesthetic -- consideration. If we poets don't allow Poetry's marginalized position in culture to stop us from writing poems, why should we believe that poetry collections are better off thin than thick? Of course many poetry collections work effectively as slim collections -- but I'ma talking about slimness being a paradigm here...

I assume this "slim" way of thinking has to do with the underlying thought that a poem is a distillation of sorts anyway. But for the same reason that some poems are "long poems" versus short or a haiku or a hay(na)ku, some poetry books might warrant a large scale because that larger expanse is part of the form. Scale matters -- and (ideally) shouldn't be determined by the 8- or 16-page signatures of books or economic budgets.

Of course, I publish with MH Press because they understand all this. Still, this doesn't prevent Sandy from sending me a poem because ... I want it thick and long:

Eileen Tabios
Today announced
That her next book
Will be
5000 pages long.
In an unrelated development
Eileen Tabios
That she has acquired
A major interest
In International Harvester,
The only U.S. manufacturer
Of oversized-poetry book forklifts.

It was learned
Early today
That Eileen Tabios'
Book for the following year
Will be
13,000 pages long.
In an unrelated development
Eileen Tabios
That she has acquired
San Francisco's famous
Coit Tower
Which she will convert
To a library
Housing one large print
Version of her book.

It was learned
Early today
That Eileen Tabios
Has acquired large tracts
Of the Pacific Ocean
For an unknown purpose.
In an unrelated development
Eileen Tabios
That the number of pages
Of her future books
Will be measured
In leagues and fathoms.

It was learned
Early today

(continued next page)


I didn't see this morning's episode of Good Morning America (since I generally don't watch TV), but I heard of the Asian American (AA) guy who had auditioned for "American Idol." He's apparently a civil engineering student at Berkeley. He was so bad during the auditions --

Simon (one of three judges): to what do you attribute just how bad you are?
AA guy: I've had no formal training in music
Simon: Well, that's the shock of the century...

Anyway. But the AA guy was apparently so bad that it became funny....and now he's being hailed all over talk shows, has a web site that's gotten 4 million hits...and is even actually cutting a song.

This is all poetically interesting to me as it recalls certain tendencies by poets to do something deliberately bad or bland or boring ... or any host of qualities that are judged "bad." (I've just read a friend's draft review of a poet's new book; said book was written deliberately to be "uninteresting" and yet I found some of the resulting poems to be just beautiful....)

This AA guy is the authentic thing -- he really is a bad singer/performer....it's just that I guess his way of doing it hit at many people's funny bones and now he's perversely a hit.

The poets I know who try to subvert historical (good) standards of poetry are actually fine poets. There's a difference between being naturally bad and a good poet trying to be bad. Does the artifice (in the latter) matter when the reading of a poem gets so subjective that many "found" poems ultimately are effective (good) poems?

I don't know. I'm just blathering....although this may just be another -- very basic -- case of a poet's intention only going so far and it's just the results that matter. Anyhooo. Now, I must go get a cuppa java so that I can make even less sense as the day unfolds...

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


The issues raised by Michele C. Cone's review of Donald Kuspit's new book The End of Art (Cambridge University Press) also has to do with poetry. Dang -- if there's anything that makes the Chatelaine prettily yawn, it's conservative, unimaginative readings/seeings of art.


I do believe I've mentioned previously how moi ass, lovely though it may be, is actually lazy. So said lovely ass sure did a lot of moaning at noon today when for the first time in 25-plus years, I attempted swimming through a lesson at the local club.

See, the pool is outdoors and, thus, usually crowded when the weather is great. But it's winter here in Napa and, though the pool is heated, there could be as little as 1-2 people using it during rainy days. I knew all that, so I decided that, maybe, it's about time I learned how to swim and, if so, it might be best to do so off-season.

I'm a Baguio Girl. If you don't know what that means, it means I came from a city atop a mountain in the Philippines. So, though people are always surprised to meet a Filipino who cannot swim -- after all, the Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,100 islands -- swimming wasn't as common in Baguio City.

Anyway, there I was at the pool today with a swimming instructor who actually had me flitting about on the water surface -- that is, not sinking like a boulder -- albeit within a 15-feet length.

And revelation du jour: dang if swimming doeesn't require endurance! No wonder swimmers make great lovers since they can go on and on and....cough, oops. Yank moi brain back from the gutter, thank you....and let moi get back on point....

So, yes, I took a swimming lesson today and I didn't embarass moiself!!!!

Okay, what was mucho embarassing was the 20-year-old bathing suit I used. After the instructor stopped laughing and picked himself up off the tiled floor (humph: what is it with these kids nowadays!?), he was very encouraging over moi progress.

Yeah, yeah....but though I realized that one needed to get wet in order to swim, no one ever told me that it'd require so much work from moi lazy-assed Self. I'm beginning to rethink....

And all this, of course, has to do with poetry. Researching a poem, I wanted to know what it'd be like to be under water while it's raining -- I wanted to witness the image of rain coming through the surface of water from the perspective of someone underwater. I was thinking of translucent knitting needles piercing water -- and as you can see from that metaphor, I needed the research.

Well, I never did get to witness the research....too busy trying to keep moi lazy ass afloat.

But think about it: if I ever learn how to swim, it will be because of Poetry. Who ever said Poetry remains on the page?

Now, as regards a bathing suit...that's the real toughie! In addition to assiduously cultivating a wine belly, I've managed all these years to maintain the self-illusion of a lovely ass by not entering changing rooms to see how said ass looks in a bathing suit. I don't know, Peeps: I'm starting to feel a bit over moi head on this whole matter....underwater, that is.


Rain floods and electrical black-out on mountain yesterday. Thus,

"The Wet Promise"


In addition to Blue Kangaroo, Jean has two poetry blogs -- Diaryo and The Nightjar.

Now, she's just created a new blog that's equally nifty -- and of particular interest to those interested in music and Filipino culture:

"Enchanting Melodies on Native Instruments"



Monday, February 16, 2004


I always like sharing other people's takes on poets whose works I feel have not received sufficient recognition. Michael Helsem says of Jose Garcia Villa's "comma-poems" (in his 2/13/04 post):

Perhaps i was wrong to, although i always did, read the comma-poems as a more spatially economical way of representing a series of single-word lines.

No real right or wrong here, is there, in how to read a poem? In any event -- I think you've got something there, Michael....

Here's one of Villa's "comma poems" from his Aphorisms, as Villa wrote it and as presented under Michael's alternative -- makes for an interesting comparison:

Only, the, hero, may, take,
A, snapshot, of, God.
And, then, it, would, be,
A, self-portrait.


I am now scratching my flawed memory, though, over whether the spaces after each comma in the original Villa version are half-spaces. That's how we printed them in The Anchored Angel, the recovery work I edited on Villa. But I can't recall now if my publisher had used half-spaces instead of full spaces as a typographical convenience or because that had to do with Villa's intention. Because if those half-spaces were intended as such by Villa, that might go against Michael's reading of the comma as a de facto line-break...? Though, of course, one can also read poems past authorial intention...


Art on the road to God
--from "A Thousand Years" by Corinne Robins

I adore my New York publisher, Marsh Hawk Press (MHP). We're a collective of 18 poets. And the reason I adore MHP is that we're all a bunch of poets who've been around for a while and gone through the whole machinations that make up poetry publishing...and, idealistically, we banded together to try to do it right rather than relying on a flawed publishing infrastructure. And by banding together, we pool together all our knowledge and experience and -- we've come out with 17 fabulous books since just Spring 2002! Now, consider the membership (which also are listed atop the MH Blog). To know our work is to prove what we say: "Our books' forms and sensibilities assimilate modern and post-modern traditions but expand from these without political or aesthetic bias."

There's a point Moi wishes to make so bear with me. But first, the MHP Collective's members:

Jane Augustine, Patricia Carlin, Chard deNiord, Sharon Dolin, Ed Foster, Thomas Fink, Burt Kimmelman, Basil King, Martha King, Sandy McIntosh, Stephen Paul Miller, Daniel Morris, Rochelle Ratner,Corinne Robins, Eileen Tabios, Susan Terris, Madeline Tiger, and Harriet Zinnes.

BUT THE BIG NEWS is another list! Here is our brand new Artists' Advisory Board Members:

Robert Creeley
Toi Derricotte
Denise Duhamel
Marilyn Hacker
Allan Kornblum
Maria Mazzioti Gillan
Alicia Ostriker
David Shapiro
Nathaniel Tarn
Ann Waldman
John Yau

Now that you all know how fabulous we are, don't you want to...join the family? One way is through the


Submission Deadline: April 30, 2004


The Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize offers a cash award of $1,000.00 plus publication of the winning book.

NOTA BENE: Though only one contest entry will win the Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize, our current publishing schedule calls for six new titles per year. Thus, the editors will be looking for publishable manuscripts among the contest entries.

For more information, go to this link:


Sunday, February 15, 2004


Thanks to Paolo Javier for including me; sure is nice watching the traffic with you! I like this street corner. Now, wanna race up the chain-link fence?


2nd AVENUE POETRY, volume I



kazim ALI
christine BALANCE
nick CARBO
del ray CROSS
oliver DE LA PAZ
luis h. FRANCIA
rigoberto GONZALEZ
paolo JAVIER
joseph LEGASPI
sanjana NAIR
salvador NOVO
aaron PECK
barbara jane REYES
patrick ROSAL
thaddeus RUTKOWSKI
eileen TABIOS

& two downloadable e-chapbooks by:



If Poet Laureates are often asked to do poems for special events (the Queen's coronation, the Mayor's birthday, the Plumber of the Year Award et al), why do I suspect that my poem over Valentine's Day takes me out as a candidate for said positions?

Eh -- but then again, when I love and lust, it's not so's Moi can get a card, you know...

Saturday, February 14, 2004


And another college sophomore sends me poems! Here is Jose Manuel Lugo, a student at LaGuardia (thanks for sharing, Jose):

It’s a warhead in the palm of my hand.
I get closer to pulling the trigger every time I close my eyes.
With every second that passes, I loose time to think about you.
I no longer feel free to touch your face or close my eyes while
A whisper will be heard inside me.
A bullet enters my mind and quickly leaves at the speed of life.
A sound is heard, the timer, as started
5 seconds till I regret all I’ve done in life
4 seconds till your name leaves my lips
3 seconds to detach your soul from mines
2 seconds till my heart splits into pieces
1 second till my death
ZERO seconds before it is all restarted


Silent Poet

I am, the silent poet
The poet that speaks, without lips
The poet that bleeds ink, through his finger tips
I am the poet that breathes life into paper, the same paper that breathes
life into me
the same paper that accepts my love, my hate, and my passion
I am the silent poet
The poet that speaks, without lips
The poet that ages in words, and not in time
The poet that speaks in silence


Men die.
Socrates is a man.
Socrates will die.
--Gregory Bateson's example of Socratic "good thinking"

Grass dies.
Men die.
Men are grass.
--Gregory Bateson's example of Socratic "bad thinking"

Adobo is pinoy.
I am pinoy.
Moi is adobo.
--The Chatelaine's riff off of Bateson's example of bad


I'm so sad that I missed the adobo fest at Pusod today -- I had so looked forward to attending in all moi glory and inflicting all moi blather on the attendees who -- as befits moi people! -- would have tolerated moi idiosyncracies with much love. But: I'm sick. Still, there's some compensation to staying home via reading a letter from Jean Vengua in response to my Friday the 13th post (scroll below):

Thanks so much for mentioning my poetics (and Nick's) in your blog recently. It seems that one must continually loosen the bindings on these categories, that almost seem to have a busybody, constraining life of their own -- the categories, I mean. And while it's sad that the term, "activist" should seem to denigrate the poet, it's also a good thing to be able to take such terms apart, to look at the duality and oppositional energy of these categories, and show how many sides there actually are to this wonderful "vocation" of poetry that we have chosen.

Everything is in context, relational, in eros. Language slips and slides, rubs up against meaning, or evades it. (OK -- I admit I'm reading Susan Griffin's book-length essay, The Eros of Everyday Life -- it's helping me get ready for the panel in May). There's an excerpt in: http://www.aislingmagazine.com/articles/TAM24/TheEros.html)

I liked your quote from Leny, too, about the paradox of no-self/self. It's true and yet so paradoxical: it seems that the best poetry I write is written when I let go of my Self. Yet what emerges sounds more like the true "Me" than anything else I write. Strange. And somewhere in that "letting go," there's even room for intent -- the intent to foreground Filipina "presence," or reference historical contexts, for example.



Thanks for writing, Jean, and I'm sorry to have missed you and others at Pusod today. Thanks as well to introducing me to Susan Griffin; from the link you shared, I post this excerpt which seems to be of relevance to blogland, which is to say, cyberspace:

And a return to what is a birthright of meaning is more than a philosophical journey. Something changes in the mood. An atmosphere of nihilism dissolves. Certainly I notice this shift when turning away from the page, or the computer screen: the living world is suddenly present. When I rise and walk under the trees in my neighbourhood, the russet colour of their leaves burnishes my mind. Even turning in my chair, opening the window, feeling a cold wind against my face, my mind is joined, taken up, educated. This simple experience is one that most of us regard as an emotional necessity. A room, an enclosure, must have a window. Yet out of the mentality of this civilization we have made a windowless room.

Also, might as well put this on your calendar, peeps. The "panel in May" to which Jean refers relates to:

Sunday, May 9
1-4 p.m.
San Francisco Public Library (downtown)

"Transcending Nostalgia: Filipino Writings in the Diaspora" (Bay Area Book Launch for Beyond The Blue Canvas by Eileen Tabios; Not Home, But Here ed. by Luisa Igloria; and OurOwnVoice ed. by Reme Grefalda)

That's Mother's Day and all the panelists are daughters: Moi, Jean Vengua, Leny Strobel, Barbara Reyes, and flying in from the East Coast: Luisa Igloria and Reme Grefalda. Seems like the poifect Mother's Day event to bring said Moms to, then follow up with taking said Moms to dinner. Needless to say, all fathers and sons and other beloved humans not encapsulated by gender pronouns are also welcome!

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