Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Sometimes, the heart yearns
For mangoes where there are apples,
For orchids where there are tulips,
For warmth, where it is cold,
For mountainous islands,
Where there is flatland.
The well-purposed exile continues
To fight for his motherland
Against those who banished him,
The unwelcomed exploiters of his people,
And is certain that he is at home
In his own country and the world.

--from "Sometimes, the Heart Yearns for Mangoes" by Jose Maria Sison

kari edwards' iduna (O Books, 2003) at Moria Poetry

Received (THANK YOU, ALL) and Relished:
COMBO 12, ed Michael Magee
My Vote Counts by Dale Smith (effing press, 2004)
Metaplasmic by Anna Eyre (effing press, 2004) -- this is lovely from Anna's poem "Unforgettable First Raptures":

He laughs atmosphere,
brushes white hair.
One grows above
that poetry itself.

effing magazine (2), ed Scott Pierce
Notes From Outside Sources by Amick Boone (Sea Lamb Press, 2004)
Instrument by James Meetze (Sea Lamb Press, 2004)
Standards by Dana Ward (Sea Lamb Press, 2004)
Painter Among Poets: The Collaborative Art of George Schneeman (Granary Books, 2003)

Additionally, my ears also *read* Richard Lopez's 2003 CD -- wunnerful!

Received (THANK YOU) and Yet to be Relished -- Krupskaya's latest books:
Itinerant Men by Deborah Meadows
Rumored Place by Rob Halpern
Trama by Kim Rosenfield
To Leveling Swerve by Rodrigo Toscano

Finally, Moi read Jose Maria Sison: At Home in the World (Portrait of a Revolutionary)/Conversations with Ninotchka Rosca (Open Hand Publishing, L.L.C., 2004) -- important reading as Sison's biography and lessons learned from his life are tied to post 9/11 events. Here's an excerpt from the "Publisher's Note" by Richard A. Koritz:

The horrific events of September 11th and their aftermath have no doubt prolonged the process of producing this book. For our part, Open Hand's Board of Directors revisited the question of whether to go forward with the project in the face of the curtailment of civil liberties in the USA and the "terrorist" designation of Jose Maria Sison abroad....it is our hope that this book presents authentic information with which the reader can make an intelligent determination about whether Jose Maria Sison is the "terrorist" that the Bush Administration has designated or the "liberation fighter" that the authors clearly believe him to be.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Rosca Question: In your poem "The Guerrilla is like a Poet," it seems that the higher metaphor is that of poetry. This is interesting, especially when read side by side with Section III of Emmanuel Lacaba's poem "Letters to the Filipino People," which has always struck me as a mirror image of your poem. Except that here, the ultimate metaphor for the poet is to become a guerrilla. You are familiar with this poem, of course. Would you care to comment?

Sison Answer: My poem celebrates the concurrence and harmony of poetry, nature and the people's war. Emmanuel Lacaba's stresses the poet's becoming the guerrilla fighter. We concur in the poetry of serving the people through armed revolution.

In the context of injustice and human rights abuses against which Sison has spent his life battling, this book makes a strong case that, as Rosca and Sison put it, "A Revolutionary is not a Terrorist." It is a context partly illuminated in this excerpt of an interview with novelist and activist Rosca:

Rosca remembers the 1986 People-Power movement, in which hundreds of thousands took to the streets in peaceful solidarity to overthrow the twenty-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Although people realized the damage the Marcos regime created would not be erased overnight, millions of Filipinos are still being denied justice and relief from their impoverished conditions, says Rosca.

"I cannot find the words to express how deep my anger is," she says. "People like me spent practically our whole lives to get Marcos out. In the end we are betrayed, and nobody paid except for us and the poor people. They got away with it," says Rosca.

I close this post with one of the poems by Jose Maria Sison, written in 1968:

The Guerrilla Is Like A Poet

The guerilla is like a poet
Keen to the rustle of leaves
The break of twigs
The ripples of the river
The smell of fire
And the ashes of departure.

The guerilla is like a poet.
He has merged with the trees
The bushes and the rocks
Ambiguous but precise
Well-versed on the law of motion
And master of myriad images.

The guerilla is like a poet.
Enrhymed with nature
The subtle greenery
The inner silence, the outer innocence
The steel tensile in grace
That ensnares the enemy.

The guerrilla is like a poet.
He moves with the green brown multitude
In bush burning with red flowers
That crown and hearten all
Swarming the terrain as a flood
Marching at last against the stronghold.

An endless movement of strength
Behold the protracted theme:
The people's epic, the people's war.

Monday, August 30, 2004


on two prior posts. As regards blogs as teaching tools, I should note that Jonathan Mayhew also has been doing such over at


And on my last post, I also brought to the Pamanhikan a bottle of a lovely Languedoc, the 1989 Domaine d'Aglierre, which is to say, here's Galatea's House Wine Update:

1989 Clerico Ginestra Barolo
2003 Pride Viognier
1989 Chapoutier Hermitage Le Sizeranne
1986 Carraudes de Lafite
1991 Ridge Geyserville Vineyard
1994 Rosenblum zinfandel
1992 Ravenswood Pickberry Sonoma Mountain
1999 Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo

Sunday, August 29, 2004


I'll say one thing. Eileen Tabios was quite superb as the SO's representative. Tuhan, representing my family, was "on", and few can match the wits and keep their composure, grace, and eloquence as Eileen did in front of such a presence.
--from Michelle Bautista's Gura Blog

How does one stand against a force of nature? How does one look at a man with fire in his eyes? How does one respond to one who has seen death as simply a veil between one room to another? // The poet Eileen Tabios spoke for my family yesterday... I chose her because she would be able to withstand an earthquake, a tornado or any force of nature and look gracious while hanging on for dear life.
--from Rhett Pascual's Tatang's Karinderia

"Boy, I told you not to be monogamous with that pig!"
--the Chatelaine to Rhett at some point during the pamanhikan

So, this weekend, I was in a rare position. I had to court rather than be the one courted. Duh -- Moi prefers to be courted.

But what it was, is that -- as noted here, here, here and here -- I had to represent Rhett Pascual's family in their efforts to court Michelle Bautista's family through a dowry negotiation. Rhett has a list of the dowry at his Blog. Basically, I, as his family's representative, presented the dowry while attempting to persuade Michelle's family that the dowry is sufficient to show of Rhett's love so that they would approve of his marriage proposal. This meeting on Saturday was a "pamanhikan,"

Let me first say that when Rhett and Michelle decided to have this dowry negotiation and were considering who to choose for their family's representative, BOTH CHOSE AS THEIR FIRST CHOICE Mr. Joseph T. Oliva Arriola, Tuhan (or "Master") of the Kamatuuran Clan of the Kali martial arts school. Obviously, this implies something about the mojo of Tuhan.

Oh sure, now these engaged ones can talk all they want about how they figured that Moi -- otherwise known as Missy Second Choice (don't think you're fooling me, folks) -- was the only person in the universe who had a shot at matching the powers of this Tuhan fella who happens to be not only a martial arts expert, but also an acupressure healer and feng shui consultant. A "spiritual master," Rhett later would sum up. This guy -- not only did he,as Rhett put it, "have fire in his eyes," but by simply raising one finger, the very air freezes. Moi swears it did!!!! And it was effin' hot in Oakland this weekend, y'all!

Peeps -- particularly poets (wink) -- should never believe their own P.R. But for some reason, there Moi entered the meeting room for the dowry negotiation all insouciant-like as I floated in, wings unfurled gloriously in full confidence of Moi brilliance. With pleasure, I noticed the approximately 80 partyers who were present, I thought, to witness yet another moment of triumph by Moi.

The fact that I didn't have time to prepare some special lines didn't dampen my confidence as I'd been reading Moi blog over how special Moi am. Besides, Rhett had armed me -- or so Moi thought -- with an arsenal of such fine gifts that how could Michelle's family and this Tuhan, Schuhan even conceive of saying Nay?

Well, there was time to imbibe some food from the heavily-laden table before the pamanhikan festitivities began. As soon as I entered the dining room, Moi delicately served herself three helpings of the food. In the course of delicately scarfing down said food, the first gift that Rhett was scheduled to offer to Michelle's family arrived -- a seemingly mile-long roasted pig (lechon). After sampling some (okay, a plateful) of the roasted skin soaked in brown gravy, Moi suggested that, as a symbol of said pig, they shouldn't rely on my breath but perhaps take into the pamanhikan just the head of the pig which, by the way, was elegantly stuffed with some fruit (couldn't tell whether it was an apple or something else as said fruit also was roasted). The deed was done...Michelle's mom cooperatively hacked off the pig's head with an unexpectedly ruthless arm as if she'd hacked off many a pig before and placed it -- as well as the hooves, I think -- on a silver platter. A silver platter!!! How munificent!!!

The company moved to the living room, and the dowry negotiations began. Now -- first of all, Moi assumed that this was just a symbolic ritual. I mean, it's not like Michelle was actually going to say No to Rhett's marriage proposal, right? So, Moi confesses that I really didn't take the whole thing seriously at first and went into the dowry negotiation room all a-giggly.

I even began a comedic note. Encouraged previously by all to be over the top and ever wanting to show that any event that occurs is all about MOI, I began by greeting the assembly with how it's such an honor for me to represent Rhett's family and the honor was such that I even retained my shoes (unlike the many tsinela-less, or barefooted, Pinoys in the room) and put on lipstick for the event.

I continued on the ha-ha note by concocting a story as a preamble to the first gift. I offered amidst much grinning that Rhett long has lived as a bachelor in a pig sty. And he had this roommate, a piglet which he had fed and taken cared off and, cough, slept with on his barchelor bed for years. Such was Rhett's love for Michelle, I said -- my enchanting voice enchantingly rising to a boom -- that he allowed his former bedmate to be roasted to become a lechon gift for Michelle!

Then I turned around to the sweating Rhett behind me and took from him the silver platter with the pig's head and laid it on the table between me and Tuhan.

Following my witty, crowd-pleasing comments, I leaned back against the couch all pleased with Moiself. Tuhan looked at me in silence, then looked down at the piggy in more silence. Then, slowly he arose from the couch, where he was sitting with Michelle and Michelle's parents, drew himself up ever more and proclaimed in the most insulted tone I have ever heard directed at moi lovely face:


He looked around at the assembly, inviting them all to join in the horror. Conveniently for him and to much disgruntlement on moi part, the crowd immediately sided with him and nodded. Then he continued.


In an unerring coincidence that proves the perversity of the gods' sense of humor, moi belly chose to rumble at exactly that moment (I believe from digesting a plateful of fried pig skin). Before I could fumble out some excuse, Tuhan continued:


Now, the hubby happened to be sitting nearby. It did happen that he, cough, had actually been the first to partake of the roasted pig. Now, I was, by now, so surprised by Tuhan's challenge that Moi beady, I mean, enchanting eyes darted swiftly to Tom and I said the first thing that popped out of my ever-undiplomatic mouth, "Well, but he's a white guy and he didn't know what he was doing...."

To the raucous laughter of the mostly Filipino crowd, I whispered again to Tuhan as if Moi was Jesus himself, "Forgive him, please, as he knew not what he was doing...."

Tuhan waved me on. I moved on to the next gift, a fine photograph of Philippine folkd dancing by Rhett, a master photographer. With much fanfare from moi wings, I offered it. Tuhan sniffed. I laid the fine work, ignored, at the side of the table since Tuhan wouldn't even touch it.

Next gift was a fine garment inlaid with mother of pearl from the T'boli tribe. Oh did I make much of that gift as it was only one of nine remaining garments from the T'bolis! After much declaiming, I looked over expectantly at Tuhan....who suddenly stood up and roared:


Aw shit. Fortunately, I didn't say that out loud but only thought it. Scrambling, I muttered something about how I, NATURALLY, knew that but desired to offer such a present representing the "enemy" to also symbolize the goal of world peace!

He lifted his eyebrow, sat down and much to my relief, heard him whisper to Michelle, "Hmmmm, she is swift of mouth."

Swift of Mouth. I believe Moi suddenly knows what moi name would be were I a member of a certain Native American tribe. Anyway, I surreptitiously wiped off a bead of sweat marring moi enchanting forehead and shouldered on. With much relief, I noticed that the next gift is ... POETRY!

To introduce various books and a journal of poems written by Rhett for Michelle, I shared with Tuhan and the rest of the assembled one of Rhett's poems. The gist of Rhett's poem entitled "The Gown" is that Rhett considers Michelle so beautiful that he can only compare her to abstractions -- e.g. "creation of the universe" or "the time when I took my mother on stage for the Filipino graduation" -- versus, say, the dusky complexion of a betel nut (that last metaphor being mine). So I was prettily going through Rhett's poem when Tuhan suddenly interrupted me with:


Uh. Moi sheepishly paused, then, um, whispered -- but loudly enough for peeps to hear -- "Actually....that was the poem...."

Awww heck. I simply couldn't bear to turn around to see the expression on Rhett's face at that moment. I believe Tuhan himself was surprised by my reply...and so roared out again:



Then Tuhan went Hollywood. Ever more ballistically, he demanded:


Fortunately, next up on the dowry list was mula-equivalent: I offered a beautifully decorated tray covered with necklaces and car keys. Tuhan looked at it, ignored the decorations, and didn't even let me speak. He just reached over, took up the keys and said gleefully:

"FINALLY!!! Are these car keys?!!!"

Relieved and pleased, I nodded eagerly, "Yes, Tuhan!"

"What kind of car?" Tuhan asked.

Moi looked down on the list of gifts that Rhett earlier had provided and read out...slowly to emphasize the effect of Moi boy gifting over a car: "A 2004 Honda!"

Then I looked up with what undoubtedly was a beaming face. Said beam faded quickly. I had never seen such a look of utmost loathing as Tuhan's response to the news of a Honda. He didn't bother to say a word, merely tossed the keys back at the tray before sitting down with a sound that I believe could be considered a snort, (Later, I would find out that Tuhan Renaissance man was also a financial attorney who drives an effin Mercedes.)

It was at this point that I began to privately curse Rhett. As I later would note to him with a few smacks from the rolled up list of his gifts, "THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN EFFIN' CAKE WALK!!!! WHY DIDN'T YOU WARN ME?!!!!" Smack, smack, smack!

But let me not rush ahead of the narrative. I just reached back for the next gift: several rolls of fine textiles. I offered them, I unrolled a few, I begged the crowd to affirm the beauty of said bolts of cloth. Tuhan just sat still with that fire in his eyes. Dangit, I thought and moved on to the next gift.

Rhett was very proud of this gift -- a wood carving of a Filipino farming scene. And because Rhett was very proud, I went on and on about the effort required to find this treasure which, as I proclaimed out loud, was made possible by "a certain organization called ... EBAY!" I at least impressed Michelle's father who leaned over at that point to look at the carving, and shared, "Oh. That farmer looks like me!"

Marvelous! I then looked at Tuhan and gloriously and deliriously rambled on and on about the symbolism of the farmer's resemblance to Michelle's father and how -- in some unfathomable twist of logic I can no longer recall since I was making it up -- this must mean -- surely!! -- that Rhett and Michelle are perfectly matched! Tuhan looked at me.

Moi felt the heat. Tuhan looked at me and looked at me while new drops of perspiration erupted on moi brow from the fire in his eyes. Then he said very very slowly as if he was talking to an imbecile, "Farming? We are a royal family."


Moi don't exactly remember when the turning point occurred -- from Tuhan moving from disdain to showing pleasure. On and on the gifts came out from Rhett's eager hands to moi sweating hands to the table before Tuhan: jewelry and textiles and even a sword from various tribes in the Philippines as well as other countries such as Afghanistan, Tibet, Indonesia and so on. I was threatening to run out of superlative synonyms for pearls, precious stones, rare metals, unerring craftsmanship etc when Tuhan finally raised a finger.

Amazing, that finger. He raised that finger that Michelle later would call, "that deadly finger." I don't know how to describe Tuhan's finger. He raised it and the world froze. You, yourself, couldn't move. I knew that everyone's eyes and not just mine latched onto that finger....which Tuhan slowly raised to just before his masterful nose so that we were all riveted on his face when he finally spoke.

"You keep talking about adornment -- how these gifts will adorn Michelle. Look at Michelle. She is here before you unadorned. Do you really think she needs adornment?"

Michelle was dressed simply in a dark blue dress. But, but, but: technically, she actually was adorned with an ankle bracelet as well as a necklace featuring a pendant of a black pearl inset in platinum, her engagement present from Rhett. I suspected, though, that it was not the moment for me to tell the Tuhan, "Dude -- youse wrong. Girl there is sitting there with adornment." Instead, I tried to find an alternative way to respond even as Moi bemoaned all this sudden kissing-of-a-stranger's ass that I didn't expect to be doing.

Do I really think Michelle needs adornment? the Tuhan had asked. Well, as I had just finished an extensive litany of how all the jewelry and textiles that Rhett had collected for years -- for years! -- were for the purpose of adorning Michelle, I tried to buy some time for a response by looking over at Michelle. She looked back with absolutely zero helpful messages in her twinkling eyes.

To further give myself time, I reached up towards moi brand new eyeglasses and hitched them down, seemingly so that I could peer better at Michelle. Now, Tuhan didn't know it but if youse read moi blog, you know that Moi am blind without glasses. I believe that's why Michelle -- who obviously reads moi blog -- suddenly failed to hide a very unladylike bark of laughter when I was peering blindly at her over moi new Romeo Gigli glasses.

I pushed moi new eyeglasses back up moi tiny nose and looked at Tuhan still awaiting a reply. I replied. Simply, I said, "No. She is beautiful. She needs no adornment."

It was the right response. Tuhan smiled his pleasure. I could feel Rhett behind me and his sister next to me begin to breathe again. The Tuhan smiled.

The lesson was clear -- as further affirmed later when both Michelle and Rhett spoke about their love for each other -- that the material presents were not what are important. Which is to say: Dowry, schmowry.

Suffice it to say, Tuhan then gave his blessing and both sides of the family hugged and kissed to everyone's applause.


The thing is, the pamanhikan was supposed to be just a symbolic play this weekend. We all knew that Rhett and Michelle were already engaged. We all thought this was just supposed to be a party enactment vs a real dowry negotation. AND DESPITE this knowledge, I and everyone else who spoke to me afterwards said they all VERY MUCH BELIEVED at one point of the affair that Rhett was seriously at risk in not being able to persuade Tuhan and Michelle's family to accept his proposal of marriage.

Such was Tuhan's charisma that he moved us from the reality that we all knew -- that Rhett and Michelle really are engaged -- into a space where something mattered, something was at risk, and we all had to pay close attention. Which is to say, Tuhan moved us from a certain laxness based on preconceived assumptions to make us all -- nay, forged us all -- into participating in a singular intense moment with full, intent participation.

In this manner, not only did Tuhan reveal a poetics of a suspension of disbelief....but a suspension of belief. In this manner, the pamanhikan became Poetry.

Congratulations on your engagement, Michelle and Rhett. Live long...and live it as a poem.


The Chatelaine is pleased -- so pleeeeeeeeesed! -- to announce:

Press Contact: Eileen R. Tabios

poets use
artificial media
to keep their
words natural
--from "The Oracular Sonnets"

Meritage Press is thrilled to release the e-chapbook, The Oracular Sonnets, an e-collaborative venture between New Zealand-born, Australian-based poet Mark Young and Finnish poet Jukka-Pekka Kervinen. Their collaboration may be viewed at


An interesting component of the e-chap are the "Afterwords" which replicates the underlying correspondence which show the birth of The Oracular Sonnets. A brief summary is provided below on Kervinen's and Young's approach which relied on "templates" for poems generated by two computer programs. The poets' ideas befit Meritage Press' goal of seeking to expand fresh ways of featuring literary and other art forms (as noted in its founding vision statement): "Meritage expects to publish a wide range of artists -- poets, writers, visual artists, dancers, and performance artists. By acknowledging the multiplicity of aesthetic concerns, Meritage's interests necessarily encompass a variety of disciplines -- politics, culture, identity, science, humor, religion, history, technology, philosophy and wine."

Last but not least, and speaking to Poetry's power that it even addresses the ever-timely concern for world peace, The Oracular Sonnets became the project that launched the Finnish & Australasian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

New Zealand-born, Australian-based Mark Young began publishing poetry forty-five years ago, but went through a long period of silence from 1975 until the last few years. His recent work has appeared in a wide range of print and electronic journals, from Alba to zNine. He has published two previous books of poetry and a book on New Zealand painting. An e-book, calligraphies, is due out later this year. He maintains a primary weblog, pelican dreaming, but also has his much-praised Series Magritte which is an on-going collection of poems inspired by the great Belgian painter René Magritte. His author's page at the New Zealand electronic poetry centre contains links to his on-line work, essays, bibliography, photos, marginalia, etc.

A composer as well as a poet, Jukka-Pekka Kervinen lives and writes in Espoo, Finland. He is mainly interested in computer processing and manipulation of text and language and has recently diversified into the creation of images where the text has become secondary to the over-layering and/or use of colour and/or phasing that now augment his work. Probably the leading practitioner of computer-manipulated poetry around today, his work has appeared in numerous publications. His images can be seen at his weblog nonlinear poetry, his text-based work at textual conjectures. He is the editor of xStream, and also publishes the xPress(ed) range of e-books. He has a composer's page (9). He has two recent e-books, #1-#46 from Blazevox, and [div]versions from Poetic Inhalation.

A true history of The Oracular Sonnets
By Mark Young (7/9/04)

Saturday, April 10, 2004. I posted a piece to my pelican dreaming blog, A poem beginning with a line from Jukka-Pekka Kervinen. Not a great poem, but I found humour in doing it, the title a pastiche of Robert Duncan's A poem beginning with a line from Pindar plus Jukka's description of his work as nonlinear poetry. I'd been getting bombarded through my hotmail account with spam that was comprised of random words, generated by a program I thought probably similar to one of Jukka's, had used their subject lines to make a nonlinear poem of my own, so Jukka was occupying my thoughts at the time.

We knew each other in the way that bloggers do. My first publication (apart from a curated invitation) after I came back to writing was in a journal that also had him in it. We shared the same line in the spread-across-the-page index of authors. His is a name that is easily noticed; Jukka-Pekka like a ragged mountain range, Kervinen like the valleys that slope down from them. Over the next couple of years we appeared together several times. We both became participants in the As/Is group blog, commented on one another's work from time to time. He accepted some poems of mine for xStream, then some more. We emailed one another. I sent him a manuscript for his excellent xPress(ed) series. He was one of the first to put up a link when I started pelican dreaming. His nonlinear poetry blog was the first link I put up on mine.

The Friday after the post I got an email from him, acknowledging the poem, giving me a bit of stick for my earlier remark that the content of the spam emails was from his blog. & then, in brackets, almost as if it were an afterthought, he mentioned that he had some "intentionally unfinished" poems, templates, & would I be interested in some collaborations. Would I? Sent back an affirmative response, & received the first five the next morning.

Within three hours the template beginning " n l rs se be a t d s a" had become a poem that started "nearly seized & beaten, / but escaped through". I sent it off to him, to see if he liked it, to see if it was the way he wanted us to go. An excited email came back in the evening. Consensus. By that time I'd already done more. The next morning I sent an attachment containing eight poems off to him.

There were poems provoked by the templates, incorporating the templates - crossed out, written through, inverted, truncated -- & some having absolutely nothing to do with them apart from being written within the same frenzied period. At this point there was little sense of unity between the poems -- they were individual pieces, but amongst them the threads of chance, linkage & states of being.

That evening -- it's a time zone thing, this morning/evening Finland/Australia correspondence -- five more templates arrived. The first began " r d s se s a / o al" & from that came "roads seesaw towards the / the oracle" fourteen lines in all, the first Oracular Sonnet. Now there was an overall framework, a direction. The creative frenzy continued. Chance reinforced throughout. As example: I wanted to chop an existing sonnet in two vertically. Picked an anthology from the bookcase & the first sonnet I found was Yeats' Leda & The Swan, about beating wings. & one of the poems I had written stimulated by the first group of templates had the lines "of the / beating wings / of words". It was one of those times when everything just fell into place.

At 4.11 p.m. on the Monday evening, two & a half days after the first templates arrived, the eighteen poem sequence of The Oracular Sonnets of Mark Young & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen was on its way from Rockhampton to Espoo. Accompanied by a tumultuous roll of drums, FAACOPS, the Finnish & Australasian Co-Prosperity Sphere, had been launched.


(More information at http://meritagepress.com)

COLD WATER FLAT, Archie Rand & John Yau
er, um, Garret Caples & Hu Xin
OPERA: Poems 1981-2002, Barry Schwabsky
Veins, David Hess
[WAYS], Barry Schwabsky & Hong Seung-Hye
Pinoy Poetics, ed. Nick Carbo
Museum of Absences, by Luis H. Francia

Saturday, August 28, 2004


So Juliana Spahr and Chris Murray have done it. Now Sunny Vergara is also doing it through the fog:

Blog as a teaching tool.

Very nice. It's an obvious and cheap way to facilitate education, eh?


Speaking of education, as the semester begins, time for me to note what I've said before: I (subject to moi schedule) will do free class lectures at Bay Area classrooms where one of my books is a class text. "My books" here means either books I've written or books I've published. Like, 2 weeks from now, I give two lectures at Sonoma State University where the prof Leny Strobel has assigned Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole (an SPD Classroom Text "bestseller"). I'ma just saying -- Moi am free in more ways than one...


I have to admit falling in love with a poetry book... // Menage A Trois With The 21st Century did it! My eyes fought against the tiny print but they lost the battle and I simply could not resist the read.

Thank you to Michael Wells for his review at OurOwnVoice (a review whose first draft was developed on his blog -- aint' that grand how blogs become such a convenient super-notebook?).

(Sandy, Michael lost the battle against the tiny print. Well? Hiccup up those seeing eyeglasses instead of taking moi perfumed words and sniffing only their perfume, you know what Moi means?)

Friday, August 27, 2004


I'm crying exactly in the middle of the rose
As I die every evening in the middle of the street
Not knowing my front from my back in the dark
As I sense, I sense the receding of your eyes
Which prop me up.
--from "Houri's Rose" by Cemal Sureya, trans. by Murat Nemet-Nejat (in
EDA: An Anthology of Contemporary Turkish Poetry, Talisman, 2004)

It's summertime but it rained on Galatea's mountain and it's all Murat Nemet-Nejat's fault! It rained because the Chatelaine wept copiously -- but thankfully only because happy tears, not words, were the only metaphor possible for her inarticulateness over this letter sent by Murat about Menage A Trois With the 21st Century (good thing Jukka is on the other side of an ocean as his shoulder would have been soaked!). A respected poet, critic and editor (who just edited Talisman House's EDA: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY TURKISH POETRY, which Moi heartily recommends!) Murat's e-mail's subject header, "Dear Reader, / Will you?" refers to the third section of the book -- the "menage a trois" section -- which asks readers if they will respond to the poems in a way that will bring to new lives in the 21st century two women who lived centuries ago.

Subj: "Dear Reader, / Will you? 
Date: 8/26/2004 11:32:42 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: Murat
To: Eileen

I will.

Dear Eileen,

I read the poems in  "Menage A Trois" over and over again. On the one hand, I wanted to go to the next poem; but was worried about missing something in the previous one, a surprising jump of thought from one stanza to the next, the indelible, unforgettable music the jumps created. I couldn't let any of the poems go without registering the music of that movement, what I call its "eda," indelibly somewhere in my mind. The experience of the poems is unbelievably sensual -- yes, I do feel implicated with pleasure in a menage a trois, even jealousy, I don't know of the other person or the power of the language -- the prowess of "your" currency arbitrage.

Everything is named so precisely -- colors, materials, furniture, flowers, architecture, wines, but  combine in completely unexpected ways. I was startled, for instance, how in the [Utah] section the ascent up the mountain echoes the fall in the helicopter in the Silang section. The book is not with me, so I can't name the sinuous motion of the sections. Or at the end, the flinching from the price to be paid for the sun glasses joins (negatively) the prismatic vision of the bee, which enables it to look at light and dividing it see the strategic distance between "hive" and "here" (the flower) without paying a price. The poet has to. So,that's what wine poetics is, sucking the flower and looking at the sun.

Here is a line from a 16th century turkish folk poem:
"i'm an honest bee, my beautiful one, an honest bee."

There are few poets or poems I read where I say this is a poem of the future, a poem with the courage of its own poetic convictions, written in the way people truly feel and think (a sunlit synthesis of its truth) and not an imaginary knee-jerk way poetry is supposed to be written. "Menage A Trois" to me is such a poem. For me, It gives to our reading a new resonance.



Sniffle. Thank you, Murat. By the way, the "reading" to which he refers in his last paragraph relates to moi next reading with him and Shin Yu-Pai in New York City:

Kundiman & Verlaine presents

Eileen Tabios, Murat Nemet-Nejat & Shin Yu-Pai
Sept. 22, 2004
110 Rivington Street (betw. Essex and Ludlow)
Happy Hour, 6-10 p.m.

Do join us and if you see me and Murat toasting each other CLOSELY with the Gekkeikan Grey Goose Vodka (the Open Bar's sponsor), well then, join us and we'll ... MENAGE!

Thursday, August 26, 2004


SPD RECOMMENDS: NEW TITLES for Aug 07-Aug 26, 2004
ORDERS: 1-800-869-7553

FAX: 1-510-524-0852
Try Electronic Ordering! SPD is on PUBNET (SAN #106-6617)
Questions? Contact Brent Cunningham at brent@spdbooks.org

***New from MERITAGE PRESS!***

by Carbo, Nick, Editor
$28.00 / PA / pp.416
Meritage Press, 2004
ISBN: 0-970917937
Cultural Writing. Literary Criticism. Essays. PINOY POETICS is a collection of poetics essays (with sample poems) representing over 40 poets of Filipino heritage who speak on behalf of themselves, ancestors and peers who have been historically ignored by U.S. literary, cultural, and academic institutions. These essays show what is unique to Filipino poetics, including responses to American imperialism, the postcolonial and diasporic Filipino experience, questions about historical narrative, and the uses and abuses of language imposed by colonizers. Public and academic libraries, as well as personal collections with interests in Poetry, Creative Writing, Asian American Studies, Cultural Studies, Ethnic Studies, Identity Poetics, Filipino American Literature, and Philippine Literature will find this book indispensable.



And the above news reminds me of Meritage Press' new textbook review policy which, I'll admit, Moi -- being a one-person press, after all -- copied from another fabulous poetry publisher, Salt Publishing (I mean, there are only so many things my refried brain can concoct so I'm always happy to plaigarize).

The first (or first known to me) textbook adoption of PINOY POETICS is by a U.C. Berkeley course on "Writing Communities & Reading Constituencies: Filipino American Literature" taught by Jean Vengua. Spurred by that encouragement, Meritage Press has instituted a Textbook Review policy that will apply to all of its books (check out our site for poetry by other fabulous poet in addition to the Pinoy Poetics anthology). Here it is -- and please forward to any teacher/lecturer of your acquaintance!

Textbook Inspection copies

All Meritage Press titles are available on inspection for 30 days, to enable lecturers and teachers to evaluate them effectively before purchase. This means that after 30 days’ evaluation the inspection copies may be

Purchased at list price; or
Returned in good condition; or
Kept FREE provided you purchase 20 or more copies and notify us of your adoption.

Please note that this inspection copy service is available only to lecturers and teachers, not to private individuals. Inspection copy invoices must be addressed to your school/college. Books are sent free but their mailing/handling return cost is at your school or college’s expense.

For more information or to order a Textbook Inspection copy of Pinoy Poetics or any of our books, please email MeritagePress@aol.com


Okay. Moi have confession to make (like, that's new?). I've decided that for now when I reference something, I'm going to quote the total (or bulk of) reference and not just the link. It's coz I'm trying to minimize the ever infinite forms of my diary. And I was thinking this would be one way -- i.e., if I just posted the link, then off-the-blog, I'd be copying that reference anyway into one of moi diaries; the replication is a pain. So I'll stop if it gets too unwieldy on the blog but for now, I'ma posting whilst stretching out on moi lazy ass. So.

So. Another teacher speaks up on Menage A Trois With the 21st Century. Here's Dr. Strobel over at Kathang-Pinay Blog:

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
I was cleaning my bookshelves the other day and found this:

Restoration of Enheduanna to Her Former Station

The first lady of the throne room
has accepted Enheduanna's song.
Inanna loves her again.
The day is good for Enheduanna,
for she is dressed in her jewels.
She is dressed in her womanly beauty.
Like the moon's first rays over the horizon,
in her robes she is luxurious!
When Nanna, Inanna's father,
makes his entrance
the palace blesses Inanna's mother, Ningal.
From the doorsill of heaven comes the word:


(translated by ALiki Barnstone and Willis Barnstone, in Voices of Light: Spiritual and Visionary Poems by Women Around the World from Ancient Sumeria to Now)

Barnstone writes: In most cultures women have not often been in positions of religious authority. Yet, as outsiders...spiritual dissidents found their own direct, sometimes heretical, ways to envision the sacred. And they named those ways in verse. Though often deprived of public position, women have always practiced the personal art of writing and so have been prepared to be our spiritual and visionary voices of light.

Eileen's project of restoring Enheduanna and Gabriela Silang to the 21st century is a continuation of her "poet as alchemist" function. I would never have thought of juxtaposing the lives of these two women and then imagine what their 21st century lives might be like -- their desires, their struggles, their dreams and visions, who they fall in love with, where they might hang-out, how they weave poems, places they leave, what they are seduced by, the language/s they speak in, the privileging of the word.

This invitation to a "menage a trois" is not easy. How to dispel disbelief? is not quite the question for me. The question for me seems to be more along the lines of: what subterrenean work remains for me to do in order to access the worlds of Enheduanna and Gabriela and join Eileen in ensuring the continuity of their lineage?


fashion sense, that is. Who else in poetry blogland has been so conscientious in checking up on his blog scarf? Now, he's changed to a new photo. It's lovely, Ron -- I particularly delight in the fresh flowers.

Of course, feel free to change the photo further -- to experiment and risk. That's part of life and poetry, you know. Oh ... oooops. But of course you know!


You wanted sainthood like everybody else.
Instead, you earned the wings
that were too late to save you,
but not too late to raise you
up to junkie heaven.
Later, we stood on the steps of Notre Dame.
You were calm, as you pointed to the bell tower.
You said you saw Quasimodo up there,
holding Esmeralda over the edge
by her hair,
but all I saw staring down were the gargoyles
who'd found peace,
--from "Archangel" by Ai

So, speaking of moiself, Dear Jukka -- Chris Murray is glad you published me, and now she's teaching me!

Chris -- you are lovely and generous and thank you for the honor of mentioning moi name in the same breath as the bravely lucid poet, Ai.

Now, it's hard for me to do this since Moi is the shy and modest type, but I'ma not just going to provide the links but also replicate Chris' post on her poetry class blog (for Engl. 4330--Advanced Seminar in Creative & Critical Writing: Electronic Poetry and Poetics--University of Texas at Arlington). I'm always interested in how I'm taught because, Dears, if someone could just teach me how to be Moi, I would be so grateful. Nonetheless, despite the post replication, please check out Chris' E-Poetry Class Blog and you'll also get a chance to see how quite fetching Moi am on a horse:

Thursday, August 26, 2004

To My Students: Assignment for Monday, Aug. 30 through Wednesday, Sept. 1

**keeping in mind that you have also been assigned to read by Monday the two essays and to listen to the readings at the Carrboro Poetry Festival site**

Below is a poem about poetry and poets and histories of colonization, from Eileen Tabios' Menage a Trois with the 21st Century:
--published by xPressed: (Espoo, Finland: xPressed, 2004)--editor/publisher: Jukka Pekka Kervinen

Eileen has signed this copy of Menage to me with a wonderful note: "To poetry as a way of life!" Here is one poem evoking that motto in several layered ways, and by speaking to far more than its apparent subject, an aesthetic kind of polish that Eileen has been experimenting with for a while now, and has become a consummate master at effecting in her poetry.

Menage a Trois with the 21st Century is sectioned into differing historical poetic-voices or personae--a poetic mode that is called *dramatic monologue*--something students should look up: Google it to see what you find, and look into poetry written in the mode of dramatic monologue, by North American poet, Ai (winner, National Book Award, 1999). Find an Ai poem and compare it with the poem below.

One persona in Eileen's book speaks in the recovered voice of the filipino revolutionary, Gabriela Silang, wife of Diego, who organized the Ilokano revolt against Spain's colonizers. Gabriela has been revived as a 21st century persona in Eileen's poems, for example:

A Memory's Resonance Du Jour (II)
As Gabriela Struggles to Apply Significance

One wants to slap any majordomo
For believing he controls the equinox

Until I shy from physical fulmination
As someone obsessed with oxymorons--

The doughty poem offers its own significance:
e.g. ancilla for "Understanding James Joyce"

And saffron-colored mulsum and turriculae
Imbibed by the Romans turned inane then insane

From raisins fermenting in ill-designed earthenware--
Oh, my Love--how many civilizations expired

After marauding soldiers were deceived
By myrrh, honey, balsam and pepper

Camouflaging spoiled wine in amphoras
Now lining the Mediterranean?

Thousands and thousands of shards deliver
an inadvertent memoir of an empire's fall--

Bones from a million rebels
Become my history whenever I exhale Poetry--


~~~~~~poem copyright of Eileen Tabios~~~~~~~~

Study this poem for Monday's class (I will be bringing in the book for you to have a look), and then be ready to discuss it, as well as to respond both poetically in short essay form, and creatively.

--signed: chris murray, Engl. 4330-001,
Seminar in Writing: Electronic Poetry--


by Jean Vengua who writes:

I just want to tell/hear stories
just fill up space, which is
to admit loneliness.

Go to Okir for the rest of her wonderful, wunnerful poem.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


's take on risk today, where he states: "And I think risk is what I need to see in order to trust the poet."

I mean, just look at Ron's latest photo on his blog. Is that not ... risk-taking?


Ah. The vagaries of cultural capital, the Chatelaine thinks as she looks at a new e-mail requesting her permission to publish an old essay. Though the essay discussed a matter that occured years ago, she still receives requests every few months for her essay. (That statistic, incidentally, far exceeds requests for her poems and don't let Moi avoid the impression, please, that this said statistic don't miff me.)

Anyway, she wrote that essay which ended up being part of a controversy over a novel that derogatorily depicted Filipino characters. The Filipino community rose up and challenged the work (a controversy that even made an organization renege on handing an award to that novel) -- the irony is that the controversy also heightened the sales of the book. Her essay, one of the lengthier (and in moi view, more balanced) treatment of the matter was circulated about and even became required reading at college course(s) after she put it up for public access on the Internet.

So, inadvertently, I facilitated the public attention to the book -- moithinks that over the critical (pun intended) attention, the book's publishers cried all the way to the bank.

So I was caught between feeling -- should I allow my essay to further attention and sales of the book when the book talked about Filipinos in a way that's not supportable? That is, (I felt) the characters were not sufficiently fleshed out so that those characters called "Filipino" were flatly depicted as simply detestable -- so that "Filipino" became a synonym for bad characters.

I pulled the essay from being publicly available, ultimately because the novel wasn't well-written enough, in my view, to warrant my de facto support of it. I mean, I didn't think it was that good a novel -- but the controversy also made that, on one level, irrelevant as people read it simply to see what the brouhaha was about. Had it been a novel whose brilliance ("brilliance" here, being a metaphor for whatever standards we may use to apply to a novel that we consider so wonderful it warrants as wide a readership as possible), I would have allowed myself to remain in the position of supporting it (through my contribution to public discourse about it). But it wasn't, as I said, that great a work which made it easier for me to disengage myself and my essay from calling further attention to it.

(It's the same reason why I don't bother to mention the name of that novel, though it's easy enough to figure out the book I'm referencing).


I've long appropriated language from other texts for making many of my poems. But the more I age, the more I second-guess my appropriation of words related to ethnicity...and religion. I could post books on why ethnicity and religion, versus other categories, make me pause on considering the plasticity of words. But that would put me to sleep and then what a scramble that would be for 10,000,017 peeps to jostle for the chance to wake this Sleeping Beauty.

Instead, I'll just focus on two recent examples. In my recent book Menage A Trois With the 21st Century, there's a poem, "Purple Light" which has the excerpt

never mate in Mindanao

where the ocean
offers a glass surface

whose cobalt cannot
be diluted

by Moslem kidnappers
spilling blood

revealed as
non-cadmium red....

I wrote the "Moslem" reference because I had been thinking of a real-life situation of Moslem kidnappers holding hostages in Mindanao. But I've been wondering lately whether I handled that reference adeptly enough to avoid the misunderstanding of a reader who wouldn't know of my thought-process.

I don't know -- and so I proactively apologize to any Moslem who may feel insulted by the phrase "Moslem kidnappers" as being too general.

A similar issue came up recently while I was editing my next book, I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED (Marsh Hawk Press, 2005). My editor Thomas Fink wondered about my reference to Sierra Leone in my poem "Fading Profile II" which begins:

To wander the world beneath the riot
of stars: sweep dust

under a comet's tail
"singing" in egregious French

Not a single child remains
in Sierra Leone, however

Convulsing around a compulsion
I water the silent lock to your steel door....

The poem collages several references and the third couplet was something I intended as primarily to be a tool for shifting attention to a different form of energy in the poem which I mostly considered an "abstract" work. The reference to Sierra Leone related to a NYTimes article about how the wars had forced children to grow up too soon, such that child-soldiers existed. But Tom thought the poem -- particularly as it was one of my "abstract" poems -- could insult someone from Sierra Leone.

The poem, with the Sierra Leone reference, was previously published in a much-respected poetry journal so that that journal's editor, at least, understood something about what I was trying to do. But I did change the third couplet to be this version, which will be what will appear in my 2005 book:

Not a single child remains
after obscure wars, however

Did I compromise? I don't think so -- because that version still accomplishes my original intent of being an energy flow shifter. And, meanwhile, it prevents the issue of coming up as to whether I objectified/used "Sierra Leone" as a (mere) literary device.


Perhaps I need to further qualify that there are certain poets who deliberately try to offend, perhaps because the giving of offense facilitates (in their view) attention to underlying matters and in the process of attention, insight or another form of engagement occurs. So that the goal rationalizes the (offensive) process. I don't dismiss that approach; indeed, mayhap I could rely on the "Moslem kidnapper" reference as a doorway into a discussion of lapsed governmental policies that allow kidnappning to become a money-earning job for a poor populace. And I could cite "Sierra Leone" in the same way -- as a means for exploring the tragedies that have beset that country.

But, this poetics approach is not something in which I choose to engage (at least in these two poems) because it's a slippery slope approach wherein the slopes themselves distract from the more important issues they would be referencing. I keep thinking that that approach so blatantly manifests the weakness of Poetry -- how the word fails to be the thing/issue it seeks to be.

Which is not to say there isn't something admirable in the efforts of (some of those) who choose to engage said slippery slope. I just know my weakness: in skiing, I detest hardened ice and prefer to float angelically -- white-tipped lashes fluttering enchantingly -- above packed snow.


I think my heightened sensitivity to this issue also relates to how, for a long time, I didn't mind using words for other qualities besides their definitions (e.g., rhythm and look and taste in the mouth when I pronounce them) because I'm a big believer in subjectivity, context and the flux of identity -- all of which combine to make suspect the idea that a word has the same meaning for everyone using it. More lately, though, I've been trying not to have that still relevant concern dismiss what's right under my nose -- that there are certain definitions and meanings associated with words. (Lucidity poetics, eh?)

Anyway, I don't have any answers to share. I'm just sharing some of the questions that make up moi days.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

hard to believe but this also is from the "Achilles Series"!

Monday was a special day -- the last day of the second stay by Galatea's first writer-in-residence. Lawyer-turned-novelist/poet J.R. first appeared here in June, and that stay was so successful he returned for two weeks in August. The sum of said stays is about 325 pages of a novel-in-progress with a working title of BANGERS. While writing his novel, J.R. workshopped sections at a UCLA online creative writing workshop headed up by an accomplished novelist who has give him all As to date!

I'm not, by the way, mentioning names here to protect various peeps' privacies, but all can be affirmed. Here's a brief description of J.R.'s novel:

Bangers is a futuristic novel reolving around autism and its impact on our society. From 1993 to 1999 autism cases tripled in California. Incidences, which were once considered 1 in 10,000 are now less than 1 in 500. Autism therapies can cost upwards of $60,000 per year. J.R. explores the question of what the world would look like 60 years into the future where an aging population competes with the disabled, in this case an ever increasing number of autistics, for a smaller and smaller piece of governmental resources. Since the elderly vote and, more importantly donate both time and money to political campaigns, and autistic children don't, the results would be obvious. Add to that the discovery of the genetic abnormalities that cause autism along with an in vitro test, but with a "cure" remaining elusive, and once unthinkable choices become politically convenient.

Agents and publishing houses interested in a future bestseller: wake up and contact us to place you in contact with J.R. Note that demographics warrant the potential for a high degree of interest in a project such as J.R.'s -- just read this article "The Geek Syndrome" by Steve Silberman, including how technological advances (which can only continue) may have facilitated the rise in autism.


Moi had a recent epiphany when she foretold her future as a ghost. It would be to float through the hallways of Galatea, with Achilles the puppy ever by her side. As she would flutter enchantingly through the hallways, a small white wraith occasionally would peek from behind a door. Perhaps Artemis or Scarlet the cats. Perhaps other visitors who would have come to form part of Galatea's history, like J.R. at midnight cooking in the kitchen for all wraiths. Certainly the hubby. Moi, of course, would be a mischievous ghost -- charming rather than scaring the future denizens of this abode: future artists.

In moi earlier years as a writer, I was much aided (though not, Oliver, for making the difference in receiving any eventual recognition for my work but for receiving sanctuary space) by various stays at artists' colonies: Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, MacDowell Colony, UCross Foundation, Fundacion Valparaiso (Spain), the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation), and Villa Montalvo. The latter, I know, to have begun as a private residence before turning into an artists' residence -- something I'd love to happen someday for Galatea.

But don't send your applications or queries yet, dear Peeps. Galatea is not yet ready for becoming an artist colony. J.R. was just a test case, albeit a highly successful one. Here, for now, is an excerpt from his novel-in-progress, which I share because ... Achilles has a guest starring role!

Greg opened the door to his car and found himself face to face with the largest German Shepherd he had ever seen. The dog sniffed his ankles, lifted its snout to examine the hem of Greg's vinyl jacket and, then, lifted itself on its hind legs and licked Greg's face.

The handler's beefy face turned red as he shouted "Achilles ! No!" The dog immediately resumed his four legged stance.

"Achilles, resume." The handler barked and the dog hopped into the car and began to sniff around.

"My apologies, sir. Achilles is our newest bomb sniffer and he is friendlier than most. If you would like to lodge a complaint and have a computer handy, I'll IR you the form."

Greg smiled at the handler. "No problem by me, if I didn't travel so much, I'd have a dog of my own." Greg petted the dog as it bounded out of his car.

"Could you open your trunk please?" The handler asked.

Greg did so, and a moment later he was free to enter the Residential City of Santa Monica.

Okay, okay -- said excerpt doesn't quite represent the novel but....it makes Moi giggle. Because it features my beloved puppy!

To celebrate J.R.'s successful stint as Galatea's first writer-in-residence, we opened up a great bottle of the 1994 San Vicente Rioja. We also gave him, as a parting gift, a bottle of the 1992 Judds Hill Cabernet Napa Valley (which, along with the 1994, was what made this winery's reputation). We chose the Judd's Hill because J.R. also writes poems and ... Moi, but of course as Ms. WinePoetics, happens to be the recipient of the 2003 Judds Hill Poetry Prize!

Well, so speaking of wine, here also is Galatea's House Wine Update in, as always, no particular order:

1973 La Rioja Alta Centenario 1890
1991 La Jota Vineyard Howell Mountain SElection
1986 Carruades De Lafite Rothschild
1995 Neyers cabernet
1988 Brunello di Montalcino Sessti Livio (sp)
2001 Bryant Family cabernet
2001 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles
1988 Altare Arborino Barolo
1982 Ch. L'Angelus
2001 Dutch Henry chardonnay
1995 Behrens & Hitchcock Cabernet TLK Ranch Napa Valley
1990 Hermitage E. Guigal

2001 Mondavi chardonnay
1991 Wild Hog Vineyard Petite Sirah Templeman Vineyard Russian River Valley
2002 Mondavi chardonnay
2002 Pride chardonnay Napa Valley
1990 Chianti Rufina Riserva Fattoria Selvapiana

more from the beloved "Achilles Series"

Just noticed moi referral list exceed 60 for the first time (that I've noticed) to hit 62 links. Thanks for stopping by and ensuring that, notwithstanding the wine in your goblets, or despite the water in your glass, you avoided stepping on moi Achilles' puppy's very long tail. Well, speaking of Achilles -- and when doesn't Moi ever speak of said puppy -- this is a photo of him having his first restaurant meal.

Venue: The Forge At The Forest, Carmel. Meal: Grilled Chicken Strips, $3.95 for a generous portion in a blue bowl which he scarfed down in ... uh, 45 seconds. And notice how moi gentleman-puppy continues to stick to his marker-baby mat.

Monday, August 23, 2004

from the ever-beloved "Achilles Series"

Here's Achilles shortly after we settled him into his corner when we arrived for my recent reading at 21 Grand in Oakland. Doesn't he look quite fetching?!!! There's his water dish colored my favorite blue color (blue--synchronistic, eh?). And there's his smoked knucklebone on his teensy mat which we got for him when Achilles was the size of his head. He quickly outgrew it but still recognizes the mat as a marker for where he's supposed to sit in public spaces! I grew a gentleman here! Thanks to Michelle for teaching me how to post an image on blog.

And check out the artworks on the walls -- just a few of the many marvels of the show "Discrete Palettes" that was up at the time. In fact, I ended up acquiring Jason Byer's painting of a safe lock (the bottom left corner painting of four paintings to the left of image) for Galatea's Art Collection -- more on this art work later.


Thank you to Michael Wells for your review of Menage A Trois With the 21st Century (Jukka, Jukka -- moi dear publisher! Go look!) Of course let Moi post an excerpt from Michael's thoughts since it's also complimentary to Moi -- to wit (oh, and I almost forgot: Preeen):

To my delight, the first section, Enheduanna’s message is not only an incarnation of her passions but a unique poetics mantra as well. I found myself lifting fragments of her message for which I found great solace as a poet.

And thanks as well to Anny Ballardini for featuring me in Fiera Lingue's "Poets' Corner." Anny presents seven prose poems not previously published elsewhere (I think; caveat here being moi poor memory). Fiery Language!!!! Yadda. And in Italian to match moi new eyeglasses that blues the world into radiant sunlit cobalt!

Do also check other featured poets in said Poets' Corner, including bloggers Bill Allegrezza, Raymond Bianchi, Henry Gould, and many other wonderful poets. They also have a section of "Poets on Poets" and reviews. Fine company, indeed!

Saturday, August 21, 2004


Carmel and Monterey this weekend where, among other things, we took Achilles for his first exposure to the ocean! Surprisingly, he didn't attack the waves (when he so attacks water coming out of a garden hose).

For dinner last night, we visited the house atop a mountain that used to be owned by a couple of Emmy Award-winning actors from a once very popular television show -- the precursor to other such shows as Ally McBeal, and other titles I would list except I don't remember since I rarely watch T.V.

In closing on the purchase of the house, my friends had negotiated that it come furnished. But they were surprised to inherit, along with other furnishings, the scripts of various plays in which the actors appeared. Consequently, our friend said, the house has an "interesting library" because he also moved there the collection of poetry books he once kept on the shelves of his office.

Now, this couple is our friend as the guy is a former client of the hubby's. I promptly proclaimed the thought that I knew was lurking in Tom's mind: Gee, I didn't know you collected poetry books! I'll send you some of mine! (Note to self: just couldn't resist that suggestion, can Toi?)

The point of this fable, dear Peeps, is that this friend is someone who made good in business such that he retired at about age 50. I think his business success has something to do with that he read poetry books assiduously. Because those who pay attention to poetry -- especially those who don't write such -- are ... special people! I mean, to be a successful business entrepreneur, creativity can't hurt and, surely, poetry facilitates thinking out of the box?!


Or so, Moi insists.

Now, Moi mus return to a very sandy -- and wonder of more wonders, also blue-haired! -- Achilles...

Thursday, August 19, 2004


But your hair has always been blue. Didn't you know that? The original punk.
--Sandy McIntosh to the Chatelaine

It's been a rough week. And not just because I had to work on the interior text design of my 2005 book which is sized at 7 X 10 and clocks in at 504 pages. Yes, Moi just cannot shut up. Nonetheless, thank you Marsh Hawk Press for not telling Moi to shut up already.

But we Peeps know it's been a rough week as Moi wasn't as prolific on the blog. Moi now explains....and thanks poet and patient book designer Sandy McIntosh. Due to the size of moi book, it had to be sent in six sections of pdf files each time for proofing etc to me on Galatea's mountain. You see, being on said mountain means my internet is available only via dial-up. If Sandy had sent the book as one pdf file, it would have taken five hours each time to download.

Anyway, proofing the manuscript of course meant going back and forth on typos, widows and orphans (typographical terms) et al et al.

But what I didn't sheepishly tell Sandy until just about an hour ago is that I probably ran him through many unnecessary runs because ... Moi is blind. Moi has been blind all week when I was, cough, proofing.

I drove into San Francisco this evening to pick up a brand new pair of eyeglasses. After 27 years of wearing contacts, I apparently have problems with swelling blood vessels threatening my corneas -- which is why Moi was blind all week. So, first, apologies, a very grateful THANK YOU, and an enviable smoooooch (envied by moi Peeps, that is) to Sandy for being so patient.

Anyway, I got into San Francisco, promptly took off moi contact lenses and very gingerly put on my first eyeglasses in 27 years. Design by Romeo Gigli, an Italian no less! -- but a design befitting a librarian because, despite moi sexy bod, I am the bookish sort.

So I put on said eyeglasses. I look at moi reflection -- OMOIGOD!!!! This is no effin' lie: I was looking at my reflection and Moi has BLUE HAIR!!!! But I've dreamt for years that I have blue hair!!!

I was so happy!

Then I left the bathroom and went to the living room where I looked out at the San Francisco skyline. WELL GUESS EFFIN' WHAT?!!!!

EFFIN' WHAT?!!!! her Peeps query in unison.

She rubs her ears and replies: THE WORLD IS TILTED!!!!! MOI KID YOU NOT!!! THE WORLD IS REALLY TILTED!!!!!

Okay. Moi must cease and desist this post now. Moi needs to lie down for a bit as I am dizzzzzzzzy. Dizzy, pre-wine!

But not ... pre-whine....And the angels roll their eyes before one slaps down the joker card!

Monday, August 16, 2004

from the ever-beloved "Achilles Series"

"Achilles' bone chewing was an excellent counterpoint to the poems"
--Letter from Rodney Koeneke re. Achilles' first poetry reading

I spent most of the day worrying over Achilles. Apparently, he's got some sort of gastrointestine infection...Just returned from the vet. Part of the prescribed "healing" had to do with bringing home 12 cans of deliberately "BLAND" food.

This is to say, there are two ways to diagnose Achilles' current "GI" travails, to wit:

1) it's either a result of moi cooking; or

2) his condition is exacerbated by "excitement" and as he just came from his first poetry reading last night (where he was so well-behaved on his corner!), the Platonic conclusion would be that Poetry readings make him ill.

Sigh. Well, as has happened numerous times before (albeit always with due cause), I shall make Moi cooking the culprit.

In any event, I do thank the lovely people who attended (including Rodney Koenecke who gifted me with a lovely sake set to commemorate the Bay Area launch of Menage A Trois with the 21st Century). Kevin Killian need not hear but will hear anyway that Moi adores him. Thanks as well to Stephanie, Sean, Taylor, Jean, ... and others who compassionately understand why the Enchanting But Prematurely Senile One must relegate them to the category of "Honey" due to an inability to remember names -- thank you all for coming!

Then, thanks as well to Tanya Brolaski and Cynthia Sailers for asking me to read. And what a delight, indeed, to read with Catherine Daly who pleases me to no end by proving that Mysticism is Alive and Rocking!

All such lovely poet-peeps. Moi am blessed. And now, this will be quick as I must go check on my Puppy...

And the Chatelaine blows a smooch at the computer screen, making her 10,000,017 Peeps ... smile...

Saturday, August 14, 2004



Through the fire.....


When the ship is in danger, a bell can be the most familiar sound.
--from "Pictures Connected by a Slight Festoon of Ribbons" by Elizabeth Willis

You can't babysit the trees.
You can't tuck the rocks in at
night. You can't beckon the hawks
to your side. You can play a
game where you own all the land,
though, while you're here. You can own
all of the land. But you can't
teach the wild turkeys your name.
--from "Hone Quarry" by Mathew Rohrer

Before this, we had a scene in mind and forgot our bodies there
We had been thinking in opposites anyway;
Five arctic hares swim the night
--from "Send Up" by Christine Hume

So, this week, three poetry books made me more punch-drunk than the actual wines I drank. I adored these:

ALASKAPHRENIA by Christine Hume (New Issues, Western Michigan University, 2004)
METEORIC FLOWERS by Elizabeth Willlis (Atticus / Finch Chapbooks, 2004)
A GREEN LIGHT by Matthew Rohrer (Verse Press, 2004)

And, Galatea's House Wine Update:

2001 Rochioli chardonnay
2001 Olivet Lane Pinot Noir

1991 Domaine Trevallon (wondered if waited too long to drink this; I've had this better)
1995 Neyers cabernet Napa Valley
1994 Clarendon HIlls Shiraz (unfortunately, the bottle was corked)
1998 Turley NV Petite Syrah Hayne Vineyard
2001 Dutch Henry Los Carneros chardonnay
1996 William Selyem chardonnay Anderson Valley
(arguably my most favorite California white)
1988 Chapoutier Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne
1995 Clarendon Hills Shiraz
1989 Pichon Longeville Baron
1985 Conterno Casio Francia Barolo
1992 Dominus

Friday, August 13, 2004


"I would enjoy my youth as I would my dentures: alone."
--David Hess

This report
, of course, is just one of many reasons why the Chatelaine so adores David Hess.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


Kewl...early responses to Menage A Trois... mean that book's seductive powers are working (hah).

Thanks Leny for being moved beyond the taken-for-granted tongue (wink), Michael (I'ma giggling over that "mountain" of yours) and Richard. Yes, Richard -- Jukka did a fabulous job on the design! I really feel my book's cover benefited from the kind of imaginative approach he takes to visual poetry, which we are lucky to see on his blog! (And, Jukka, by the way, epitomizes for me a poet whose creations arise, not just in response to something but to reveal their own unique selves which were allowed to bloom through authorial effacement ... or something like that, I'ma pre-first cuppa joe here...)

However, whilst calling it "handsome," Sandy McIntosh *author of the forthcoming and forthcomingly brilliant The After-Death History of My Mother, Marsh Hawk Press, 2005) says the size of the font in Menage's texts makes him wonder if he's blind .... which is to say, I assume he goes to peer at the page....which is to say, the page compels your face -- your eyes, your lips, your suddenly sniffing nose -- to come closer to it. Get it? (Or mebbe, Sandy, you just getting blind as we both traipse on through to our more mature years....dum, dum...)

This reminds me, if youse must know and youse must know, of one of Philip Guston's approaches -- where, despite the huge scale of some of his canvases, he made relatively teensy brush strokes that compel the viewer to approach the canvas to peer at it and not just stand back to look at it (a la how one might enjoy a Clyfford Still painting...)

Get close to Moi Pages, she croons as she combs her hair, sitting on Galatea's mountain, gilded gold forever by sunlight...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Revolt's constraints.

That to rebel against something can still mean operating under the undesired's turf.

To create poems whose primary hinge is not opposition.

Not to confuse language with a context of how its abusers have (ab)used it.

Not to confuse the book with a canon.
(Or canonical fodder.)

Not to use the poem to say something but to let the poem say itself.


Six Directions.

I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved (Marsh Hawk Press, 2005) where the infinite page count casts the cave wall shadow of 504 pages....

Because any one revolution is temporal and Poetry can be temporal, but is not inherently so.

Light reveals as much as it blinds...

Monday, August 09, 2004


Well, so Ivy was posting a test and I went to the link and decided to do another test because said tests are a way for this luddite to post images on moi blog.

Despite Moi belly, apparently, I am emaciated Ghandi.


The paradox of now posting that Moi am Ghandi (which is to say, positing saintliness) is that to do so -- as Moi am doing so now -- is obviously very un-Ghandi-like behavior, which no amount of preening can rationalize.

But since, "nothing is taboo" including self-indulgence (is this not a blog or is this not a blog?) I'll post this anyway -- besides, doesn't he have a lovely smile:

What Famous Leader Are You?
personality tests by similarminds.com

Sunday, August 08, 2004


A moment. Sometimes, Moi must simply pause in the midst of her day and have a moment of marveling over her many talents.

You got it: Preeeeeen!

And this time, Moi am preening over moi recent tangos with nature. So, first, I harnessed the sun.

Yep -- Moi am now an Independent Power Producer! Just installed on Galatea's mountain is a solar field capable of generating 22 kw worth of electricity. Renewable. Good, therefore, for conservation. Good for nature. And why? Because the Sun, Moi dears, is very much like Poetry: it is renewable!!

Next foray. The mountain is very rocky. Well, I just got sod. I'ma gonna build a lawn for Achilles (dogs love grass) and one of my two kitties (Artemis, unlike Scarlet, loves to go outside and chomp her kitty teeth on plants!)

Unfortunately, the chores never stop for Mama Nature here. This coming Saturday eve, Moi must attend to being a "corporate spouse" and help entertain one of the hubby's clients, said client's existence having helped finance the solar panels and sod. Sigh. And I sigh because this means I must miss that night's event: Bay Area Farewell Reading to Kasey. The fact that I must entertain that client while bopping my pretty head to Chaka Khan is no consolation, mind you, to missing Kasey's Do.

Having said that, that doesn't mean you shouldn't attend this reading -- and sorry Kasey that Moi must work for a living that eve (Chaka notwithstanding):

Please join

K. Silem Mohammad
Mystery Guest

reading on Saturday, August 14 at Kelly Holt's house:
San Francisco
pre-party: 5 p.m.
reading: 6 p.m.

Rodney Koeneke notes: Kasey leaves for the Oregon wilds at the end of the month, so this is also a chance to see him off.  Bring something fun to eat or drink at 5 p.m. and plan to stay after to say adios.  Please feel free to forward this to anyone you know who'd like to come.  Hope to see you there!


aka, Moi Poetics!

Thank you Richard for saying about Behind the Blue Canvas:

a collection of erotic stories. Tabios has the gift to meld sex, life and text. no subject is taboo. I dig how she creates the life of a poet with great sensualities and hungers. wonderful.

To know Moi, by the way, is to know Moi is always hungry. World -- FEED ME!!!! And she rubs her belly while taking on a Garfield-the-Cat look....

Friday, August 06, 2004


It's unanimous -- the backchanneling poets all feel that, yes, Moi must pimp the puppy for generating funds to publish another poet's book.


Although, and the Chatelaine's eyes suddenly twinkle, perhaps I could get even more premium pricing for his handsomeness!!!

Well, the donor of the future ACHILLES POETRY PRIZE will be attending his first poetry reading (Yadda!) as moi special guest at my upcoming reading where Moi does her best to be a "New Brutalist", to wit

7-9 p.m.
Sunday, August 15
21 Grand
449B 23rd Street
Oakland, CA 94612
$4 Admission

I hope to see you there -- my first reading with Menage A Trois With the 21st Century. It should be fun as among those who've backchanneled plans to attend are Rodney Koeneke who shall bring his own big baby (!), Kevin Killian, post-Orono; and the person who gifted Achilles with his first Holiday stocking (as well as the next poet to be published by Meritage Press): Sean Finney! Meanwhile, here's what the New Brutalists say about Moi and moi co-reader that evening, Catherine Daly:

Catherine Daly’s writing runs the gamut from medieval collage to modern epiphany, from a poem inspired by Piers Plowman to statements like “the devil is filled with what other creatures aren’t.” Daly has published two poetry collections in 2003: Locket, from Tupelo Press, and the trilogy DaDaDa, from SALT. “Love consumes love’s beauty, incandescent, alternating current nothingness, absorbed into love, touched seized, dominated, contained.”(Daly)

Sommelier to Fallen Angels, Eileen Tabios is the author of the infamous Poetry Blog, “Chatelaine Poetics,” where she refers to herself in the third person as “moi”: “explaining why, despite moi best efforts, Moi totally sucks at being a poetry diva. Here's the illuminating (for moi anyway) excerpt…” She has written, edited or co-edited 12 books of poetry, fiction and essays, most recently Behind The Blue Canvas (short stories) and Menage A Trois With the 21st Century (poems). She is currently working on Footnotes to The History of Fallen Angels: “Historians are the amoral -- nay, immoral -- ones for lacking imagination. For ignoring footnotes. For reducing me to a convenient label: Princess of Absinthe.”

Thursday, August 05, 2004


M's mother was so beautiful her father hid her in a box. I choose to believe this version of a story even though reason compels me to question the existence of one such box. Wooden or steel. Details make it permanent
--from "The Water Song" by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa

There are poems one can appreciate, if not love, for a variety of reasons. But this is the first time I've responded to someone's poetry with a very specific feeling:


I'm talking about RULES OF THE HOUSE by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa (Apogee Press, 2002) which presents poems on, about, from and within the Tibetan diaspora. I don't know why it took me so long to get to this book (somewhere in my files is a letter from Cid Corman who, when noting my residence here in San Francisco, said that's where a fabulous poet lives named "Tsering Wangmo Dhoma"). Here's the first poem in her book:

As Remembered

I am only beginning to understand how seasons affect me.

Winter. Snow beating street people into obedience. How mothers held back from stepping out in discreetly ornamented shoes and thin nylon socks.

This is the way I count years: the winters we had fire and the summers we erased because we were in another place.

I am told I was five in 1971 even though my birth certificate states I was born in 1969. The elders count on their fingers. They have done it for a long time.

It was winter but not the kind of winter they were born into. They were wearing hand knitted woolen sweaters. I was wearing a jacket that children born to refugees wear.

When I am with them, I cannot say I remember. I say, as I am told to remember.

It is not the accuracy of the story that concerns us.

But who gets to tell it.


So, who gets to tell the story? There are so many layers to any one story. Who gets to tell anyone's story? I don't think Dhompa -- who grew up in Tibetan communities in Nepal and India before getting an MFA at Univ. of Massachusets and an MFA at SFSU -- is positing that only a Tibetan can talk about Tibetan stories and so on. I think she's talking about something larger. I think she's talking about Compassion. How might a poet sing, compassionately? Like, here's one "story":

Cutting the cloth

In pieces we think. Wording eyes.

How we see when sun splinters enter.

Her laugh. When the river ran full,

we lapped it up. Her laugh; when she did

that gurgling of tea on coal.

How should I explain. We lived

by a water tank. It was easy to speak.

Restless in light-scorched air

(her words for heat).

Restless ears we pressed against cold

steel, and bartered tales.


And by how Dhompa formed the collection into the book, yes, she's addressing something larger than "authenticity" that sometimes polarizes when poetics discussions address identity. There are so many layers to any one story and *authentic* representation is no guarantee for (fullness of) accuracy. So RULES OF THE HOUSE features individual poems but threaded through the pages is seemingly another poem that's been cut apart and interspersed among the stand-alone poems; the poems may work individually but, as she puts it in "The Water Song,": Everything is isolated. And dependent. So I don't consider these sections parceled throughout the book as "fragments" so much as "stitches -- their titles are "(i)", "ii)" and so on until "(ix)." Here's the second stitch:


Not until
a way is found
to talk about us.
Not like this.
Not confining
the look
when wings
carved in the sand
found motions
of their own.

My people are from the mountains. They have other qualities and are not ashamed to call each other "my people."


And, here's one more stitch reducing the gaps between the layers of a single story, as well as bringing forth the possibility of closing the gap, through compassion as empathy, between poem and reader:


Daisies in the field. A sudden intrusion of light. Crush of wind through hair. No ascent of sight.

Can tiny feet take you far. Deliver you? Some follow that step for step method.

Trim desires and prepare to listen to snow falling at night. Recognize distance through time.

In the opium fields no one is breathing. The pollen raising a ladder to the sky gods.

Water and dust delving deeper. If we could see a destination.

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