Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Last minute addition to my AWP schedule: I'll be part of the panel "The Unknown Pagoda: Southeast Asian American Writing":

Saturday, April 2
Hyatt Regency,  Plaza C,  2nd floor.

Unlikely I'll be bloggin while I'm in Vancouver, so until I return to Galatea's mountain, here -- also by popular demand -- are Achilles and Gabriela on said mountain:

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Interesting note on Ivy's this morning re Li-Young Lee who's quoted as saying, "I don't think the opus is the poem or the book of poems. The opus is you."

It's the first time I've read that from Li-Young, and only after I'd written this recent poem on Gasps:


My poem?
Your call.

It's a convergence that I often find wondrous -- when we all tap (I first wrote, type) into that silver ribbon of stars threading itself through history (that's just how I visually perceive it in my mind's eye). Some have called that it archetypal.

The word "universal" deserves the bad baggage that it has come to have in (certain sections of) the poetry world. I prefer "archetype" because it encompasses all humans.

Consistently, the poems about which I've felt, "That's a keeper!" have been those poems that (in my opinion, of course) tap into that feeling of recognition -- and then warmth, and then Home -- related to an archetype(s).

This effect is not something I (consciously) strive for in my own poems -- the best I can do is always to attempt to investigate form with each new poem I write (one reason I'm not so prolific nowadays). This archetypal presence either surfaces or not, beyond my conscious control. But if I've been doing my homework well (that living) as a poet, I sometimes feel I ... reached up and latched onto a star forming a ring or bracelet around that writing hand...

Monday, March 28, 2005


So Vancouver's alternative press, Terminal City, just reviewed "P-Son"'s first collection; see review below of Paolo Javier's the time at the end of this writing. It pleases me that the review notes Paolo's sculptural-collaboration with one of the poem-sculptures generated through my Six Directions project. My poem was titled "The Erotic Angel" and I thought it was one of the three failures or just so-so poems through Six Directions, which is why I didn't bother to include it in my brick.

But what I had done was toss that poem to Paolo and suggest he improve it. He did viz his "I sculpt poems" poem. And now it's highlighted in this review below. A nifty result!

But I'm also glad the reviewer picked up on what I think is another fabulous element in Paolo's book -- the fact that he transcended the commodity aspect of books to go and handwrite on each P. 68 of the books. He used red ink to slash through a word and replace it with another word. His mark makes each book an "original" vs a mere "print" edition (in the way those terms are used in visual arts). A nice way to show his hand and his ayayay in each poem!

Here's a reason to check out Paolo's book, via SPD!

I Think Her Pussy Licks Back
Paolo Javier's intimate openings
by Elizabeth Bachinsky
Mar, 24 2005

the time at the end of this writing
Paolo Javier
ahadada books
$15 CDN

It’s hard not to love a book that states, anywhere, “I THINK HER PUSSY / LICKS BACK”, and so, for this reader, it’s a pleasure to have read Paolo Javier’s first collection of poetry the time at the end of this writing. Javier’s collection--published by ahadada books, a press located in both Burlington, Ontario, and at the Meikai University in Japan--is at times witty, engaging, political, typographically interesting and sexy. Not a bad roll call for a first book of poems, I’d say. In fact, the time at the end of this writing shows a young writer engaged with the world he occupies and offers the reader a glimpse of this one Original Brown Boy’s contemporary take on some of poetry’s most traditional questions of love, death, and family.

Javier, who works almost entirely in the confessional mode, shows a great dexterity of mind and a wonderful sense of play, possibility, and flexibility throughout the work. Compare Javier’s witty and alarming “Reverie” with such surprising lines as “Holding hands with someone, yo! /   still the best roller coaster to ever bowl you over.” and “Play someone with your hair! / Tell someone you’re beautiful having!” to his eighteen page experiment in digital typography, sex, and accretion “I sculpt poems,” or his obvious ease in working within the lyric tradition, and you will have to agree that Javier’s craft is somewhat well in hand.

And yet, what I find most interesting about the time at the end of this writing is not the craft with which Javier navigates the page but the intimacy with which the poet enters into the contract between himself and his audience. Compare the straight-forward approach you’ll find in lyric poems like “Mi Ultimo Adios, ayon kay, Original Brown Boy” (“It’s 825 pm & / the name as it appears on my death certificate / Paolo Rafael Santos Javier”) and the somewhat more typographically interesting narrative of “I sculpt poems”; Javier’s sense of intimacy, urgency, and desire for both flesh and discourse remains consistent. And while it may seem tempting to dismiss Javier’s work as little more than a collection of lyric poems under a mask of typographical feats and fancy fonts (many of which seem, by the way, impeccably ugly to this reader), one has only to read on before the recipe is sweetened with the stroke of the poet’s pen-on-paper—his actual pen on your actual paper (see pp.68). As a conversationalist and participant, we are reminded, Javier, the poet, is never far from the page.   This is a worthwhile first collection of poems by a young writer with promise, imagination, and a wry sense of humour.


Paolo also curated this off-site AWP event this Friday! Hope to see you there (as well as at the Marsh Hawk Press table #101)!

Ricepaper Magazine, the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop and the Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance Presents:

"(NA)AWP: North Asian Americans Write Poetry, or Thank You, Canada, For Letting Us Land Our Planes"


WHEN: Friday, 7:00pm, April 1st 2005
WHERE: Our Town Café
96 Kingsway ( Corner of Kingsway and Broadway)


Walleah Press of Tasmania welcomes me down under! Thanks to editor Ralph Wessman for featuring on Famous Reporter a poem from my forthcoming book, THE SECRET LIVES OF PUNCTUATIONS, VOL. I.

I think it's all appropos as the cartoon character often cited by certain friends as a metaphor for Moiself is ... The Tasmanian Devil. Maybe because the Looney Tunes site says, "Taz has but one thing on his mind: Eating. The carnivorous native of Tasmania has the power to devour everything."

Okay, I do love my food but ....

Anyway -- here's the beginning of my Punctuation Poetics -- written after the poems, which, in my view, should be the way poetics should be ordered relative to poems:

Punctuations -– whether they are visible or not, they are never non-existent. Their absence is very much presence in terms of affecting meaning. As examples, here are two from the British No. 1 Bestseller Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss which show how a comma, or lack thereof, can make a difference:

"Now I must go and get on my lover."

"Now I must go and get on, my lover."


"A woman, without her man, is nothing."

"A woman: without her, man is nothing."

Punctuations are like immigrants -- whether they are legal or not, they are never non-existent. In this sense, I consider these poems, revealing the secret lives of punctuations, to be a diasporic poetic form.


And so on....it's interesting how, though I write poetics after letting the poems write themselves, the sense of artifice is so strong in writing...poetics. My thoughts, poetix-wise, are still half-baked here but, perhaps to provide the saving grace in that manuscript will be an essay instead by a poet-scholar who is thankfully interested in contextualizing these punctum -- I mean, punctation (wink) -- poems with reference to diaspora and patriarchy. Why not, I sez....

Sunday, March 27, 2005

from the series "Poetry Economics: A Moronic Oxymoron"

Ach.  The good old days of, uh, ... two years back.  The days when I actually thought I could keep my Income Statement as a Poet (which encompasses activities related to my own writings plus those at Meritage Press which I consider an extension of my poetics) to a loss of $3,000 annually.  I slipped in 2003 when my Income Statement Summary was

TOTAL EXPENSES:   $5,733.81
PROFIT/(LOSS): (3,436.01)

Still, the slippage was just $436.01.

Well, I just finished doing my taxes for 2004.  Here's the absolutely shitty result:

TOTAL 2004 EXPENSES: $23,000.13
PROFIT/(LOSS): ($15,805.51)

That loss, of course, is what's subsidized/financed by my other day-jobs (uh, such as they are).

Much of the increased expenses are due to my publishing books, including the brick-book Pinoy Poetics which ran 150 pages over budget (but, you know, stuff had to be said!). My Income Statement also shows why nonprofit presses are always looking for grants (Meritage Press is a private press so I don't have access to many public funding sources).

Sure, my 2004 revenues increased more than three times from 2003 -- an increase due to how I had more books to sell this year -- but not enough to offset continued publishing costs. And even if I didn't have 2004 deadbeat lost/delayed revenues from one bookstore and two poets (Helllllllloooooooo!!!), such recuperation of those deadbeat revenues would only have amounted to another $425.55.

Anything I earn as a poet -- royalties, reading fees and so on -- go to Meritage Press. Which reveals, certainly, the pathetic amounts at which poets get paid for readings, if ever they are paid. [Note to Self: Share this info with Poets & Writers the next time they ask you to fill out a questionnaire for $50 or $100 as regards whether that suffices for being compensated for a reading? I'm grateful for any lil' bit from P&W, of course, but mebbe this stat would be illuminating in some way to their programming.]

Also, I know that I underestimated my expenses -- i.e., not bothering to put in for many postage and travel costs. In part, it's because I wonder how long the government will allow me to take these deductions when I consistently lose money. As a business, I'm supposed to be in it for profit but since when does a poet ever financially profit from being, uh, a poet?

This 2004 result also reflects some donations I got from various "Oenophiles for Poetry," which is to say the state of the matter is actually much worse than the loss of $15,804.51.

It's a loss, by the way, that's equivalent to about 20% of the development cost of one acre of a budding vineyard.

Okay, enough cud-chewing. Next step -- Moi gotta share the news with the lawyer-hubby whose income supports my poetic losses. As a former economist, I do, after all, believe in the notion of profit (his lawyerly profits) widening its effect through society to maximize the benefit for all (including poets whose books needed to be published). Fortunately, our marriage operates under the dictum, "What's Mine is Mine and What's His is Mine."

Besides which, I think $15,804.51 is pretty cheap for my contributions, as "corporate spouse," to his work. His clients and business contacts often find me, unsurprisingly, quite charming.

So, to pass on the news, I shall begin by patting the sweet Hubby's hand as I proclaim with much gusto:


Saturday, March 26, 2005


I'm leaving Wednesday for AWP and I suppose I should be thinking of which books to bring. Instead, I'm thinking of what wines I can smuggle in to rest against my ankles, beneath the skirted table of Table #101 where I shall be surreptitiously sipping whilst spouting off blather cheerfully at conference attendees.

Speaking of wines and skirts, I haven't done a Galatea House Wine Update in a while. Well, so you know, tonight with the hubby's spaghetti, we -- which is to say we had the fabulous folks at Dutch Henry Winery, Napa Valley's Greatest Secret , over for dinner -- imbibed (and forthwith recommend):

2002 Puligny Montrachet Clos de la Mouchere Jean Boillot & Fils
1997 Greenock Creek Barossa Valley Seven Acre Shiraz
1994 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet
1991 Dominus
2002 Marelle
(a new winery founded in 2001 to explore Syrah produced in cooler places -- very promising future here)

and last but not least a desert wine:
1988 Ch. Rabaud-Promis Sauterne (a favorite if I can't have d'Yquem)


Tasha Perez says of Barry Schwabsky's OPERA:

...words that scan like machine-gun fire. The book's most intriguing feature is the poetic voice that coos and argues, wheedles and slaps, slipping from turgid stream-of-consciousness to breezy colloquialisms.

Thanks, Tasha (nice to meetcha, peep). But can I really "dip you in chocolate and throw you to the lesbians"?


A lesson in strategy might be learned from Leny as she posits -- practices -- "There is no Other." It's far more effective than the rant, more amusing at times said rant may be.


was the title I suggested after reading through Leny Strobel's 221-page manuscript over the last couple of days. Not to say that that will be the title but that's the concept, anyway, that I thought of. Leny's book will come out this year from T'Boli Publishing, which identity of publisher I think also is significant (as I'll explain below). I think Leny's book is important for several reasons -- but, first, here's her own description of this project:

It is a collage/book of meditations, attempts at poetry, found texts, academic essays, and beautiful artwork by Filipina artists. This is my reply to the question: What do you do after you decolonize? The answer came to me in fragments over a period of 3 years. When I was finally able to gather these fragments together and tried to submit book proposals to pubishers, I was told: "you have too many elements in here, we don't know how to categorize it." // This is the story of my life -- uncategorizeable! So then I thought, I might as well just make a book of my own.

I did a blurb:

There's a saying: We're all born poets and it's the living that can leach the poetry away. The world of academia certainly can be debilitating to the world/work of the heart. With this collection, Leny M. Strobel shows herself to be among the few who recovers the poetry that was originally hers -- and she does so without sacrificing scholarship.

Blurbal brevity doesn't encapsulate the wonders of Leny's book. (Incidentally, do note that I just created a new word "BLURBAL" -- all you literary types, take note!) But I do think this is a necessary book for taking away the unnecessary line between mind and heart. Here is an excerpt from her essay "Understanding Whiteness: Symbolic Power and Privilege" which relates to a childhood incident in the Philippines:

My father ... is a devoted and very proud Methodist. He refused to participate in the culture of our community in its celebration of fiestas which, according to my father, is really about worshipping of saints and as Protestants we do not worship them. As you can imagine our house was the saddest looking house when fiestas and other holidays came around. This is the excerpt from that [childhood] essay:

"Things changed the day my sister, who had been teaching Filipino culture at the dependents' school at [the U.S. military's] Clark Air Base, asked to bring to the town fiesta a Yankee from Maine, the school's administrator. Perhaps it made my father glad that this very important white man was interested in my sister. Although my father relented cautiously about breaking a family non-tradition, he soon found himself making plans to roast one of the pigs he had been raising to supplement his income and pay for our tuition. That year Junior the pig was sacrified in honor of the white man.

"I was assigned to make sure the house was clean, especially the toilet and the toilet bowl. When no amount of muriatric acid would erase the yellow-stained bowl, my sister handed me a copper penny and told me to use it to scrape the stain. For hours, I sweated on my knees, scraping the yellow. This left a mark in my soul that I wouldn't understand for many years. I learned then that yellow isn't good enough. Only white will do."

Now, is that powerful or what? In a way, Leny's approach reminds me of poet David Mura's when he wrote several courageous memoirs dealing (in part) with Asian American male sexuality as impacted by racism -- they share the courage of exposing their psyches very personally. And then for Leny to meld her astute observations with poetry and the artwork of Filipina artists even as she references such academic markers as bell hooks, Fredric Jameson, Walter Benjamin and so on -- yeah, right the U.S. publishing industry was gonna be interested.

So thanks mucho to T'boli Publishing for publishing Leny's book. I'm always happy when Filipino authors are published by non-Filipino organizations -- e.g. Babaylan and The Anchored Angel. But sometimes, it takes a Pinoy to understand that a Pinoy's life cannot fit into Westernized categories and that those stories, too, should be made available. So, Peeps, when Leny's next book is released later this year, you know what to do -- and you don't have to be a Filipino to be interested in this. You just need to be ... open.

After all, as Leny, too, illustrates over and over in her book, There is no Other.

Friday, March 25, 2005


My second list poem ever is over at my Gasping Poem Blog. This will be the poem associated with my response to Nick Carbo's latest VizPo. That is, this is the text of the poem -- I still gotta put together the sculpture part, about which I've been thinking of not using cock rings so much as something else more directly referential to penises. Like, the dead skins sloughed off in my backyard by the various snakes on Galatea's mountain. What do you think, the amused Chatelaine asks her 6.5 billion peeps. A rhetorical question, of course, she hastens to add. I'ma not really sure I wanna hear your replies to my latest effort to remain ever amused at Moiself...!


So this blogland is a hoot. Sometimes, I write these things that should generate, Moi thinks, a million or so backchannels. And I get zippo reaction. But then I write about Pat Boone and immediately two emails land on moi desk!!

The first from Leny who I shocked (heeee!), with she saying, "...today being good friday...reminding me of Pat Boone's Pearly Shells is horrifying!"

Heeee! That's the decolonialism scholar!

Then, there's moi boy Tony Robles, children's book author and poet -- and a bad poet at that! -- who makes his presence known (and for those of you who don't know, the occasional failed capitalization of "I" is deliberate), to wit:

Something interesting about Pat Boone. He had done a lot of cover versions of songs, whose originals were sung by Fats Domino and others. Anyway, he had a song called "Love letters in the sand" (i think that was the title), that reached #1 on the pop and R&B charts simultaneously.

You're not Catholic? Neither am i. But i got to tell you that i have a friend from Pampanga. I met him while working as a temp at B of A. Anyway, he invited me to his house not too long ago. He said it was a lunch get-together so i thought we'd be sitting around and eating and watching tv.

I get to his place, and there are these guys in suits sitting all around the living room. One of the fellows looked at me and said, "Brother Tony, we have been waiting for you". Turns out that my friend was a member of Iglesia Ni Cristo. I had seen those guys on Tv while flipping with the remote control, and blah blah blah. They all have a similar way of talking. I thought, "Son of a bitch, i've been the victim of a switch pitch". I ended up going to a service and the Minister's name was Elmer (i think) and he had this way of talking that sounded a bit like a man who had grown up in the southern part of the US...Georgia or Missisippi to be exact. But the women in the choir kept diverting my attention and it was hard to get the gist of what he was saying. He seemed kind of cool though.

From Pat Boone to Iglesia Ni Cristo (translated as Church of Christ, I think) -- Tony, you crack me up. Religion -- ain't it, uh, something!


I feel caught in a time warp as I write this, and it occurs to me that some of you may not know the "Pearly Shells" reference. It was a tune sang by Pat Boone in the 60s -- click here to hear. In my case, picture hundreds of third-grade students in black and white Catholic school uniforms (no I'm not Catholic but attended a Catholic elementary school) waving their teeny palms and mostly teeny butts and piping up in teeny voices:

Pearly shells
..................Pearly shells

From the ocean
..................From the ocean

Shining in the sun,
..................Shining in the sun

Covering the shore
...................Covering the shore

When I see them,
....................When I see them,

My heart tells me
....................That I love you

More than all the little pearly shells

This occurred in the Philippines, where I lived until fifth grade and attended Baguio City Elementary School. So, Veronica, I suppose in assessing colonial vestiges, in addition to Spam and Old Spice, let's not forget Pat Boone and ye olde "Pearly Shells"! Okay! Let's click on link, raise our palms from the keyboard, and ALL TOGETHER NOW....!

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Hula hoops were recently on my mind as I held one up for dolphins to jump through in my recent trip to Florida. Now, Leny (who continues to assign Reproductions in her classes -- salamat!) references its distant cousin to write:

There are shining moments, occasionally. Last Monday, a Fil Am student responded to one of Eileen's poems in Reproductions... with a hula dance to the music of Spanish Harlem played Hawaiian style. This student who is so shy and nervous was moved to dance by poetry ...

That sounds waaaaay more fabuloso than the only hula dance I know. What's that, at least one-third of her 6.5 billion peeps ask. The Chatelaine replies, Well [insert slight cough], I can do the hula to the tune of 'Pearly Shells"...

Corinne and others in the know can now cringe.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

from the series "Blog Autobiography"

And the myth sayeth:
"Pygmalion was a confirmed bachelor; there were so many qualities in women that he despised that he could not bear the idea of marriage. He was a sculptor, and had made with wonderful skill a statue of ivory, so beautiful that no living woman came anywhere near it. It was indeed the perfect semblance of a maiden that seemed to be alive, and only prevented from moving by modesty. His art was so perfect that it concealed itself and its product looked like the workmanship of nature. Pygmalion admired his own work, and at last fell in love with the counterfeit creation. Oftentimes he laid his hand upon it as if to assure himself whether it were living or not, and could not even then believe that it was only ivory. He caressed it, and gave it presents such as young girls love, - bright shells and polished stones, little birds and flowers of various hues, beads and amber. He put raiment on its limbs, and jewels on its fingers, and a necklace about its neck. To the ears he hung earrings, and strings of pearls upon the breast. Her dress became her, and she looked not less charming than when unattired. He laid her on a couch spread with cloths of Tyrian dye, and called her his wife, and put her head upon a pillow of the softest feathers, as if she could enjoy their softness."

The myth is a tale of misogynism. And like many stories and myths, the role of the woman is given short shrift. Moi Galatea exists as a result of post-myth: what happens after she steps off the pedestal where she'd been placed by Pygmalion.

I'm collaborating with June Anderson, a local artist, on a mural. June will use glass fragments -- yes, the glass must be broken as Galatea chose to break the gold-rimmed goblet given by Pygmalion -- to depict Galatea's life off of the pedestal. Lines from a poem I wrote for Galatea will rim the edge of the mural. Galatea is shown as standing strong, fruitful -- weaving together poetry, art and nature seamlessly. Pure Babaylan. Backdrop to be rolling hills of vines.

In foreground -- that is, his back to her -- Pygmalion is on his knees looking forlornly at the ivory statue of the "perfect woman" he'd once created. Because if one looks closely at the human version behind him, the Galatea figure he now can't bear to see, one will see that she is flawed. To be human is to be flawed.

June asked, "How should we signify the flaw?"

Decision: one of her uncovered breasts will lack a nipple. Breasts -- that's where the male gaze often lands, after all. Laughter.

Pygmalion is also wearing a pendant. The pendant is a coin depicting the house in which the Chatelaine lives, the house called "Pygmalion." Why? Because the house contains poetry, art and nature (dogs and cats). To be a house, a solid house, is to be as stolid and immoveable as a statue. Post-myth, Pygmalion becomes a house to become "frozen in embrace" over what the house contains, which is the only way he was allowed to enter through the Iron Gate (whose role is to prevent the existence of negative energy on this place for poetry). Myth-reversal: where Galatea was objectified in myth, Pygmalion is is the one objectified by freezing into a house(-statue) so that his embrace can become eternal even as post-myth Galatea now roams -- nay, flies -- as a human.

The coin in Pygmalion's pendant is one of many actual coins to be manufactured somewhere in Eastern Europe, I think Czechoslovakia -- to acknowledge the existence of the world beyond the Iron Gate. "To bring the poem into the world / is to bring the world into the poem."

The coins will be presented as gifts to future visitors to bring Galatea's presence back out into the world.

The mold that made the coins also will be used to make chocolates in gold foil wrappings. To be eaten, to provide pleasure, to be taken in by mouths that also will sing poetry.

The process and the result will be featured in a future book, of which the second half shall be poems celebrating wine country. Earth, water, sun, and humanity can beget the poem. But this future book's wine country poems shall be those lurking on the backside of the mirror reflecting poems such as these (from ENGLISH):


I feel myself as you have never
caressed this skin. Here are generous breasts

that shall never droop. Whose tips
were never anointed by the wine

in your goblet, precursor to your suckling lips.
"When Christ was dying on the cross

it was a windy day too. Each tear he shed
was shipped in fury and carried to the

Mediterranean Sea to fall like a translucent
purple pear on the barren earth of Provence.

Each pearl turned to a seed, and the seed
to a vine and the vine to grapes. That is why

wine is the blood of Christ and each autumn
raisin is sweet, because Christ's tears

were not from his pain, but this joy."
I loathe Provence -- its lavender, its honey,

its wildflowers, its pollen as gold as the ring
you never pierced into the skin between my thighs.

Poems like the above, written before or right at the resolve to love English, will be taken further by Galatea's future book to a place where Love shall no longer be conflicted.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


To be a tourist is (or can be) to drop out momentarily from the rest of the world. Dropping out is something that I noticed resulted in many denizens of Key West -- there was even a practical guide to Leaving One's Job and Moving to Key West book in one of the bookstores there. A younger self would have picked up that paperback much quicker than a fingersnap.

Dropping out is something I once felt compelled, as a younger poet, to practice in my poetry -- but not anymore. Because I've come to realize that, for me, dropping out of worldly concerns is to other and/or objectify the world; write poems that are unduly precious, and so on.

Which is not to say I still don't drop out. I do in specific instances -- like when poets argue binaries or when I see balkanization among camps, I try to drop out or circle around those discussions. There is a world and there are also worlds within that world, and to avoid practicing tourism poetics, for me, has been to understand and navigate through how circles contain circles. Sometimes, you want that hula-hoop around your waist and sometimes you'da rather dance the hula, you know what I mean? (You do? Good. Coz Moi don't. Anyway...)

I played tourist today by not playing tourist but being a busman doing more research for another day job in the making, PFA. Miami's art scene just shows how much more work I gotta do on that venture. Coz even as I wrote that post on Miami, I wondered if I got that right -- that dealer I'm talking about does private dealing in Old Masters and it wouldn't be unusual for such dealers to use those profits to subsidize their activities in contemporary art (sorta like how publishers, in the old days, used profits from fiction to subsidize their poetry series). But is it just enough for a gallery to open shop? I don't think so -- I really want PFA to work in ways where the gallery doesn't need to rely on the identified infrastructure of collectors.

It's like operating within poetry. When a poet writes from a place not particularly welcomed by the canon, one makes their own canons (and such is a plural). How to create new collectors rather than rely on old ones who've made art collecting such a social game that they no longer support the art of one's times? 'Tis a factor to consider. If I only had more time ...


Heee. Mark's poem for Moi reminds me of several old ideas: having a poetry reading at the New York Stock Exchange...and a poetry manuscript shaped a la an Initial Public Offering Memorandum.

And I hear ya on Jean -- it's why I've often touted her as "The Greatest Secret in American Poetry."

Monday, March 21, 2005


Everglades a fabulous visit -- saw over 50 alligators. Some as small as my palm. Ranger John notes emphatically, "Everglades is a marsh, not a swamp!" Got that? The flora and fauna are incredible in the Everglades -- in the midst of this million and a half preserve, I nodded at understanding how nature can provide such inspiration to a poet like Aimee.

Some less stellar stuff about the state -- the hype of Miami. Just got back from dining at Chef Allen, which we chose because Zagat's rates it as the best resto in Miami (giving it the same 28 rating as French Laundry). Very forgettable food. The food in WISE in South Beach was better although the service was so slow that had we partook of the complimentary desert that they gave our table coz we were so disgrunted over said service, we'd have been there for breakfast. Better was lunch today at Ristorante Tete in Little Havana neighborhood.

But, anyway, the undeserved hype at Chef Allen (which recalls the hype over Pierre Gagnair (sp) in Paris) irritates. But then again, this is the place where, at my hotel, drop dead gorgeous supermodel types seem to ever float through the lobby. Impressive -- and undoubtedly makes hotel residents feel ever more chic. Moi, of course, got the scoop: to wit, my hotel apparently gave complimentary memberships to 50 of the top strippers in the city.

Hype -- it sucks, particularly for moi food and bedding. Interestingly, I'm not as irritated over the hype in poetry. That has implications which I shall explore another day.

For now, thanks Michael for passing me the stick (Thin air? 'Tchure: I'll use that as an excooze for moi blather). Have gotten that stick twice now, though haven't responded on it yet. All I can recall now is how receiving said stick makes me wonder what happened to this short story I once wrote, as inspired by Fahrenheit 451. It was titled "Fahrenheit 55" for being a futuristic fiction based on wine becoming future currency -- because in the future, wine had stopped being made as food and other sources of nutrients had become pills. So the remains of old wine collections became really valuable (55 degrees is ideal temperature for storing wine)....anyway...

Tomorrow: Miami's art scene. Let's hope there's substance behind the hype.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


I'm in Miami. On duty on my most profitable day-job at the moment: corporate spouse. Which is to say that I gotta get my act together on my other day-jobs. Anyway, I'ma here due to a partners' annual retreat of the hubby's law firm. Surrounded by lawyers. Which is to say the highlight of said meet was discovering one of the hubby's law firm's clients are the guys who just acquired the only T.V. show I actually watch: (the finals of) "American Idol."

Doing the tourist thing. Last night, South Beach where I reconfirmed my interest in not being hip. Today, Key West. First, played with Dolphins -- smooched two -- over at Dolphin Cove. Then drove by, nodded at, Hemingway's former house. Tomorrow, plan to nod at various crocos in the Everglades. Tuesday: check out the Miami Art Scene which has surfaced big-ly in last couple of years.

Checking emails and blogs at hotel internet. Thanks for the Stick, Erica. And thanks Rhett for upping the ante on moi latest peep count by five million. But please to tell that Pinoy prude in your Comment box not to be such an effin' auntie.

Speaking of prudes, while reading through the blog roll, I couldn't access Barbara's blog. This came up, courtesy of Symantec security system as used by moi hotel:

Access Denied
The requested document, http://bjanepr.blog-city.com/, will not be shown.

Reason: DDR score = 206. This page will not be displayed because it contains prohibited words or it has exceeded its tolerance of questionable words.

Well imagine that. Makes me ever more curious to what's on your blog, Barb -- will have to wait until I return to the mountain where ... nothing is censored.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Environment a combo of Soviet Russia and Harlem. Apartment in fading building. Presented by sheepish landlord as glorified hallway. I saw a ballroom. I looked closer: mirrored walls the culprits for widening the room. No toilet seat cover on the toilet seat. But cleaned by kind neighbors. An ax inexplicably (I first typed, inextricably) leaning against the entry into the apartment. I am looking down -- I had ascended stairs to an apartment on a top floor, but when I opened the door I began that new life by looking down. Currency was not articulated as one dollar but 100 cents -- the eking out of commercial value when one suddenly owns nothing. The bricks were bricks, not books.

Friday, March 18, 2005


Gura Michelle helpfully emails to suggest Good Vibrations as regards my sudden need for cock rings for a future poem-sculpture. Specifically, Gura notes, "Do a search of 'cock ring' on their site and it gives you quite the selection, with pictures."

I do said Search. Well now. I see that, uh, actually, there are a lot of products there that are quite, uh, visual and might work better than a mere cock ring for purpose of a poetic sculpture. Like the tickles and itty bitty bunny thingies....What do you think? she asks, cocking her head at her peeps. (Sorry, all those puns were intended and I'm too juvenile not to make said puns...)

Now, I did ask Gura if I can get her something whilst I'm nattering about the Goody Vibe site -- after all, don't you have a HONEYMOON coming up, Sweetie?

Gads...I love to amuse moiself....Seriously now (yeah, right), I actually was first introduced to Good Vibrations not through sex but via a poet's request for me to ask the SF store if they would be interested in hosting a poetry reading. I dropped the ball on his request (though at least didn't drop it on his balls...sigh: this is getting ugly) but it strikes me that that's a good idea....

Hmmm, and relatedly: in my professional capacity as a publisher and/or author, I wonder if I'd sell more books if I did a package deal of


Pause. Hey -- Moi likes that idea!

Okay, tell you what you peeps who are virgins to cock rings: ORDER MY BRICK and I'll send you a cock ring for free! This version from the Good Vibrations site:

Price: $ 3.00
Item #: 1 6 CA 0205

If you're interested in this offer, just email me directly. I'm not, cough, entirely sure that my publisher will sanction this so the transaction may have to occur with moi directly. It's not like I can go to the Marsh Hawk Press Board and request they stock a supply of cock rings for this SPECIAL OFFER OF BOOK PLUS COCK RING!

Can I? Naaaah. No. NO! she yells up at the cackling angels...!

What I do to sell poetry...


Jill Jones posts a lovely hay(na)ku sequence.

Arturo Mantecon introduced himself by email and asked me today to do a poetry reading in Sacramento for the Third Tuesday Poetry Series. I said yes so moi Sacramento peeps can put that in your calendar that I will be bringing moi batting eyelashes there at 7 p.m., May 17. Richard -- aren't you in Sacramento? More details later.

Also, I see there are some Blog reports from last night's book launch for Nick Carbo and Luis Francia over at Barbara's and Veronica's. I hope others blog on today's panel at U.C. Berkeley as I'll have missed that. I was amused at Ver's report, insofar as the lovely, slim and sophisticated-looking dame that she is reports from the POV of a dorky Francia Fan. I've known Luis too long to be ahoo-haa over him. But I did go WOW last night due to this experience: to wit --

So we departed together from the Lit Lounge to share a cab, for me to drop him off at his hotel and I to continue onward to the apartment. It took forever to find one, and what was bad was that we already were sharing a corner with another lady looking for a cab. So it was a relief to find, when we next craned our necks over her way, that she was gone -- we assumed she'd found a cab or moved on. So we moved closer to her spot and a few minutes later, a cab shows up....

....only for this lady to show up again, screeching that she was at that particular corner first. Now, maybe it was her stiletto heels in addition to her screeching mouth but I could have been prepared to let her have it (I pick my battles and tend to behave with just compassion at situationists like this screecher). But Luis -- and perhaps it was the baggage he'd arrived with after coming straight from the airport as well as airplane delays that more than doubled the normal traveling time from the East to West Coast that made him retort, "We were here first."

Technically, we were in the sense that the lady had moved on. But then the lady moved for the cab door. And Luis had to body-block her!!!! So atypical of the usually ever-gallant Luis! The cab driver then told the lady we were the first party...and so we got the cab. Driving away from the corner of conflagration, Luis looked at me, grinned and said, "My New York side came up."

All I could think of was that the point was against his karma, not mine. Which was quite an uncharitable thought on my part, I understand. But I thought it anyway, even as I sincerely said, "Thank you for getting the cab."


"the underground is all connected"
--Dotrix 4000

Well aw right. You wanna feel your hips wiggle in your seat? Then check out these links as Garrett Caples -- a Meritage Press author, too! -- SCORES with the cover story plus two sidebars for the SF Bay Guardian's hip hop issue!




Here's an excerpt that shows Garrett also doing some critical thinking:

Take four bars of Locksmith on "I Gotcha," from the Richie Rich comp Grabs, Snatches, and Takes (Ten-Six, 2004):

You might see Lock on the block in some Tims and Nikes
Making motherfuckers duck when I extend my right
I'm an mc; I fight with pens and mics
You're a bitch; you fight for women's rights

Like many of rap's memorable moments, the third and fourth lines are at once clever and offensive. The repeated grammatical structure creates the expectation of a similar parallel in logic, which is then violated by the second half of the fourth line. (Remember your SATs: "MC" is to "bitch" as "pens and mics" are to "women's rights" is not the correct answer.) Though he might have shored it up with a better rhyme than "right" and "rights," the structure is complex and compelling, even if -- for a UC Berkeley grad like Lock -- the sentiment isn't very nice.


Luis Francia and Nick Carbo just had a wonderful Bay Area launch for their most recent poetry collections: respectively Museum of Absences and Andalusian Dawn. Joining them in celebratory readings were Anthem Salgado and Patrick Rosal. A great crowd replete with other writers, including readings curator Barbara Jane Reyes, Veronica Montes, Marianne Villanueva (who got a fab review of her new short story collection Mayor of the Roses: Stories (Miami U Press, 2005)), and Oscar Penaranda.

But what I wanna blog about is a conversation later that evening over drinks at the Lit Lounge with Nick. During Nick's reading, he had introduced the latest in our ongoing poem-sculpture/visual poetry collaborations. 'Twas a poem printed out on transparencies interspersed with images from a Japanese sex manual. The transparencies were linked together by metal thingies like those in three-hole binders.

Well, as we yammered about this and that, it somehow came up -- from Nick (since I've OBVIOUSLY never had reason to consider the matter) -- that those metal binders could be used as cock rings. He sipped his beer, and then continued on to say, but metal cock rings actually would be dangerous as there'd be no give. Sipped beer. Leather, Nick sez, would be better.

I groaned. Because what this means, peeps, is that based on what moi Muses -- those now-cackling fallen angels beneath my ceiling -- are telling me, I now gotta go find some cock rings to integrate into my next poem sculpture.

What I do for poetry....

Anyone out there with cock rings to spare, email me. Unused ones, please.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


YaY! Just heard back from coeditors Mark Young and Jean Vengua re the upcoming HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY that'll be co-published by Meritage Press and xPress(ed) (Winter 2005/06 release). A stellar line-up! The editors will be getting back to anthology participants soon.

I'm particularly delighted that xPress(ed) will be copublishing the anthology -- in moi mind, that structure fits the diasporic aspect of the hay(na)ku form.

Meanwhile, Jukka-Pekka Kervinen will have one of his stellar vizpos as the cover, his take on a lovely double hay(na)ku by Mark Young, to wit:

clouds have
been replaced by

smoke haze
on the horizon.


A Correction: At AWP, I and Sandy McIntosh will be doing book signings of our 2005 books at Table 101 (not #29 as previously reported on prior post, tho since corrected that), the Marsh Hawk Press table. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Two more gigs recently confirmed for moi --hope to see you there at:

Southhampton College Twenty-eighth Annual
Book Fair

will be held at Southampton College
239 Montauk Highway, Southampton, NY
Friday, May 6th, 2005
4:00 p. m. to 7:30 p. m.

2) But before Southampton, AWP. So, in addition to blathering at AWP attendees from Table No. 101 where moi beloved publisher's scheduled me and Sandy McIntosh to do book signings of our 2005 books, I'll be part of this festive gathering -- here's the notice from Paolo Javier, the host and curator:

Ricepaper Magazine, the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop and the Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance

"(NA)AWP: North Asian Americans Write Poetry, or Thank You, Canada, For Letting Us Land Our Planes"


WHEN: Friday, 7:00pm, April 1st 2005
WHERE: Our Town Café
96 Kingsway ( Corner of Kingsway and Broadway)<>

KAZIM ALI is the author of the novel Quinn's Passage. He is assistant professor of Liberal Arts at The Culinary Institute of America and an editor with Nightboat Books. His first book of poems The Far Mosque will be published this October by Alice James.

NICK CARBO's latest book is Andalusian Dawn. He lives in Hollywood, FL and teaches in the MFA program at University of Miami.

TINA CHANG, the author of Half-Lit Houses (Four Way Books,2004), received an MFA in poetry from Columbia University. Her poems have appeared in American Poet, Indiana Review, The Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Quarterly West, Sonora Review, among others. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the New York Foundation for the Arts, Poets & Writers, the Van Lier Foundation among many others. She currently teaches at Hunter College.

PAOLO JAVIER is the author of two books of poetry, 'the time at the end of this writing' (Ahadada), and '60 Lv Bo(e)mbs' (O Books, fall 2005).

TIMOTHY LIU is the author of five books of poems, including OF THEE I SING, which was named a 2004 Book of the Year by PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. A new book, FOR DUST THOU ART, is forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press. Recent poems have appeared in Arabic, Chinese and Polish translations. An associate professor of English at William Paterson University and a member of the core faculty at the Bennington Writing Seminars, Liu lives in Hoboken, NJ.

AIMEE NEZHUKUMATATHIL is the author of Miracle Fruit (Tupelo 2003),winner of the Tupelo Press Judge's Prize, ForeWord Magazine Poetry Book of the Year, and the Global Literary Filipino Award, and was a finalist for the Asian American Literary Award and the Glasgow Prize. She is assistant professor of English at State University of New York-Fredonia, right in the heart of Western NY's cherry and berry country, where she lives with her dog, Villanelle.

OSCAR PEÑARANDA, longtime community activist, advocate for ethnic studies in the schools, teacher and writer, has two books out recently published by San Francisco publisher/distributor T'BOLI PUBLISJHING: Seasons By The Bay, A Collection Of Interrelated Stories and Full Deck (Jokers Playing), a collection of poetry.

RAVI SHANKAR is poet-in-residence at Central Connecticut State University and the founding editor of the online journal of the arts, . His first book Instrumentality, as published by Word Press in May 2004. His work has previously appeared in such places as The Paris Review, Poets & Writers, Time Out New York, Gulf Coast, The Massachusetts Review, Descant, LIT, Crowd, The Cortland Review, Catamaran, The Indiana Review, Western Humanities Review, Cake Train, The Iowa Review, Smartish Pace, and the AWP Writer¹s Chronicle, among other publications. He has read at such venues as The National Arts Club, Columbia University, KGB, and the Cornelia Street Café, has held residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Ragdale, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts, has served on panels at UCLA, Poet¹s House, South-by-Southwest Interactive/Film Festival, and the AWP Conference in Baltimore, been a commentator for NPR and Wesleyan radio, reviews poetry for the Contemporary Poetry Review and is currently editing an anthology of South Asian, East Asian, and Middle Eastern poetry. You can read an interview with him at: http://jacketmagazine.com/16/dev-iv-shank.html. He does not play the sitar.

PRAGEETA SHARMA is the author of Bliss to Fill (Subpress Books) and The Opening Question (Fence Books). She teaches in the graduate creative writing program at New School University and in the low residency BA program at Goddard College. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

EILEEN TABIOS, recipient of the Philippines' National Book Award for Poetry, recently released a multi-genre collection, I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED, encompassing poetry, experimental fiction, art monograph, play and conceptual art. In 2006, she will release her 8th poetry collection, THE SECRET LIVES OF PUNCTUATIONS, VOL. I. She is also the founding editor/publisher of Meritage Press, a multidisciplinary press based in St. Helena and San Francisco, CA.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Peeps, 'twas a moment.

So, I'm still cooking turkey three meals a day for Achilles (sigh). And I cleaned out the local Safeway of said turkey meat. So I went on over to the Calistoga supermarket, Cal Mart. No turkey either. Dangit.

But as I was in the store, I bought an avocado and a can of tomatos with green chilis to be the latest victims of my culinary effort later that eve. Well, at the checkout counter, the checkout person rang up moi meager purchases, then shyly proferred, "You're Eileen, aren't you?"

Moi looked up. Hesitantly, I replied, "Ye...e...ess?"

Checkout person said, "Eileen the poet, right?"

So, first, time momentarily froze. And I thought to myself, "This can't be. I'm being recognized for being ... a poet?"

Right. How against the odds is that?! So I replied again, "Ye...e...ess?"

Turns out the checkout person was a student in one of moi Sonoma State University lectures in Leny's class!!!! Well, of course we laughed over the small world-edness of the encounter, me saying, "Oh wow -- you caught me in the middle of attempting guacamole!"

But suddenly, I got flustered ... because I suddenly realized that there I was unwashed and in yesterday's clothes (that's what happens at times when you work from home and are a mountain hermit except for forays down to, uh, Safeway for Achilles' turkey). Suddenly self-conscious and thus flustered, I also said, "Well, now. Of course I'm really 25 pounds lighter than you see me..."

The student/checkout person kept his smile on...but a faint gleam suddenly popped up in his eyes -- mayhaps it was proclaiming in neon:


Monday, March 14, 2005


From the parrot's perch
the view is always Hello
--from "Our Square of Lawn" by Matthea Harvey

Read and relished:
TRUTH & BEAUTY by Ann Patchett (re her friendship with poet Lucy Grealy); and
FACTS FOR VISITORS by Srikanth Reddy, of which a favorite from Reddy's book is this very a-singing poem:


No matter how often you knock
on the ocean the ocean

just waves. No matter
how often you enter the ocean

the ocean still says
no one's home. You must leave

her dear Ursula. As I write this
they polish the big

chandelier. Every prism
a sunset in abstract

or bijou foyer depending
on where you stand.

They take it apart every Fall
& call it Spring cleaning.

They bring me my tea.
They ask me my name

& I tell them Ursula,
I don't even know

how to miss who you left.


Also re-read and enjoyed again, Sean Finney's manuscript THE OBEDIENT DOOR which moi Meritage Press shall joyfully publish this fall. Here's one poem:

Actually We'll Never Know

I could mention cars
and bricks and streets retreating.
You might mention leaves. No,
I would mention leaves.
You would mention something I would not expect,
like that man's hands and this strange stone.

I would mention a lot of things in a series
to try and get the feeling of speech
rolling. Because actions don't quite match up,
their thumbs opposing in an entirely
different way than how words
click each other off.

But it was speech, and I will miss it because
some nets we've thrown to drown the squirmers
flop where we want them.

Can you see now how hard it is
to find the language that we'll never know?

Rocking back on our heels to celebrate the weaving we've accomplished
the light is strong and scintillates the backs of trees.
Shaved under my head in invisible ink the word


who sends a letter. Thanks, Guillermo, for your sentiments below (yeah, "pure" is an apt adjective for Philip), and also offering me the opportunity to get a preen-fix:

I'm reading through [I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved] now, jumping around through the pages and like it very much. Particularly when you're working with couplets like these:

"End with Part 1. End to begin
all over again. No one ever teaches

what the end of the circle reveals..." (p. 299)

Also very much like your Lamantia poems in the last few days. I've only read bits & pieces of him but have always felt drawn to surrealism and his methods seem very pure to me, in the best way. I know him, too, from that great photograph of him, Michael McClure, David Meltzer w/ John Wieners in the late 50s (in JW's Selected Poems).

But back to your "brick." Your title alone has got me very interested and is so brilliant because of how it undermines certain conceptions of what English is, while acknowledging its place as the global language, but going (through the poems) into the beauties of that particular language. How to weigh its pleasures and dangers. Of course, the cover photo makes me giggle,too.

There's an ambition in publishing such a massive book that I really respect. To take on English and do it in 500 pages is a brave act and one you do beautifully.

I'll be reading it closely through the spring and summer, I'm sure. Thanks again for sending it.


Guillermo writes further in his blog -- and I'm grateful that Moi provides good reading:

Received two great things in the mail last week:

Eileen Tabios,
I Take Thee, English, for My Beloved (Marsh Hawk Press, 2005).

6x6 #9 ("becomes impossibly, stupidly hard") (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2004).

Eileen's taking on an epic endeavor, emphasizing that poetics and verse can be written simultaneously. How many of us do love English, even though we mistrust its history. And why humor and vision remain so crucial. I also love the font on the spine of this edition as it rests by my bed or on the living room shelf.

The paper used in this issue of
6x6 reminds me of one aspect of what I meant when I wrote "newspaper poetry" in "Caurimare." The paper in #9 feels like a newspaper pages. Delicate leaves folded in felt. There's some of the dailiness of newspapers, too, in each issue of 6x6, a mapping of one's surroundings, one's era.

Thanks to both sources for these pages.

You're welcome, Guillermo. And this, of course, also reminds me to thank my book cover designer, the very talented Claudia Carlson.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


I rend your skirt by the wind stolen from ancient castles
your legs secrete the essence of wheat
and your ankles brush the wing of crow
Your lips touch alchemic gold torn from the femur bone of poetry
whispering through archives of your smile
that beguiles the oracle who has a headache to change his legends
I touch your earlobe with the fatal elegance of the peacock lip
your convulsions gallop my heart of the rose hermetic and flushed by goats sighting prey
I touch your nipples
that touch heaven that is all of you touching me
the temple of your hips
the morning glory of your sex
the miracle of bedsheets and the sacrament of sweat

Rhythms of your thighs are the music of the spheres

You are more beautiful than the black buttocks of dawn
and all light has been given to veil you from the murderers of love

I touch your presence undressing the furniture
whose cries fill the distance between us
and you shall hear
when I touch you with telepathic tendrils
for then I'll come into you the light of the waking dream
--from "I Touch You" by Philip Lamantia

I don't really go out of my way to meet many poets. In fact, sometimes, when I REEEEEALLY like their poems, I get disincentivized to meet them. The reason can be exemplified by this one occasion shortly after moving to the Bay Area, which of course contains many masterful poets. One day, someone asked if I wanted to meet this really GREAT poet. I said, Sure and even got excited about the prospect as I'd so admired said poet's poems.

This was/is a very accomplished poet. Many poets probably would love to have had this poet's "career." Wonderful books. National prizes. Adoring fans from around the world. Yadda yadda. And I was very much looking forward to meeting the poet. Well. I mean: Well! I was absolutely stunned by the poet's disenchantment. Complained over this, complained over that. Never enough recognition. Never enough readership. Never enough this or that.


Which leads me to yet another reason why I so valued meeting Philip Lamantia. In my experience, he never lost his wonder at and with the world. He never lost his energy for writing new poems. He never stopped finding the marvelous in our times (our times including our history), and praising such. He never got cynical as cynicism would get in the way. He taught me a most efficient way of living as a poet: to paraphrase Picasso, not so much to search but to find.

From "World Without End" in Philip's 1970 collection The Blood in the Air:

Now I will take hold of the wind as the tons of weeds tumble from the mouths of fountains, and I can not imagine any bodies but angels yes. Always the wind bears the breasts of the bottom stairway, my heart shall be in the roar of attention, attention to the open flood gate, only no other voice shall mewl. For the person shall be submerged & surpassed by the Head of the talking Flower of Pure Vision. Let us enter the wind's mummy as if it were not less than Genius, as it is I affirm the trembling lyres of Lycophron are greater than Homer's. Let this pass through the pharaonic knot prepared in the communal future where the winds shall unlatch all the leaves.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


"A breakthrough is not a definitive achievement; it is a long moment of lucidity."

"...text meant to be vividly experiential..."
Al-kemi: A Memoir, Hermetic, Occult, Political, and Private Aspects of R.A.Schwaller de Lubicz by Andre VandenBroeck

This weekend, I kept remembering one gem-of-a-moment after another with Philip Lamantia.

Like the relationship of the word "alchemy" with Pharaonic Egypt's "Al Kemi" (he once chided me for not turning as much of my attention to Egypt as I've done to Greece).

Like, when he said, "Poets should never be judged for how they make money."

Like, how, during a shared evening in an outdoor cafe in North Beach, he drew a bird in a journal I kept handy in my bag at the time: the fragility of his line!

Like, when he called on the phone and when time to say goodbye, he said goodbye...oh, except for one more thing....which segued into another thing and yet another thing and, yes, we finally said goodbye to that phone call two hours later. (I can understand Joe Massey's description of his second phone call with Philip -- like, how his "encyclopediac mind" can go from one topic to another seamlessly...).

I mentioned in prior post how Philip had wanted to be the one to introduce me to my first BART ride. A section from old diary notes specifically, "Philip promised to teach me the BART. I said I'd write a poem about it -- 'Philip Lamantia's Instructions on the Bart' or some such thing. He said if I wrote it, every poet he knows would buy whichever journal would publish it as it took him some time (perhaps 30 years if I recall the conversation correctly) to learn the BART. Then he tried to teach the BART to Barbara Guest who was equally intimidated about the 'machines' (Philip calls computers 'machines' due to his unfamiliarity with them, and the term provides such a charming dissonance). So he said if I wrote about him teaching me the BART, it would amuse everyone. So, ... sounds like a poem to me..."

He also was very instrumental in my "Poems From/Form the Six Directions" project, as I say in an interview (conducted by Nick and reprinted in the brick-book:

"I remember a conversation with surrealist poet Philip Lamantia shortly after finishing the first five drawings. I told him that I was baffled at doing drawings as 'I can't draw a straight line to save my life.' Philip replied, 'Then draw a curved line!' before giving me a copy of his 1970 book The Blood of the Air, a poetry collection that also features four of his drawings. With his encouragement, I returned home and continued drawing. I incorporate Philip's suggestion in Drawing #6 through a note on the lower left hand corner quoting from that conversation. // "Bearing in mind what Philip said about the 'curved line,' I started drawing circles."

Then there's this other poem (or draft of a poem) I discovered from my diary, about when Philip and I dined Moroccan. At the Maykadeh in North Beach, I had lamb shank. Philip had his vaunted tongue with lime juice....

I. Alchemy at the Maykadeh

..........Of course I was early…

Nursing a glass of house red at the bar,
I recall a young self
who once proclaimed in dank parts of the world:
"I never sup with enemies!"

I see you enter the blue frame of glass
bordering the blue door into Maykadeh
where you suggested we meet
for "they do wonders with tongue."

.....Earlier that day, I was inarticulate ("as is often my wont")--
.....thus lapsed into e-mailing a fragment to Max: sometimes the ocean is a cobalt sari

I watch you walk by once--
you, too, were early--
neatly clad in a white-gray Burberry.
Of course it wasn't Burberry
but I like the thought of British quality
sheathing your shoulders, whose posture begets civility--

a notion that recalls another old man
who has never stopped writing poems:
Luis who smiled as he typed the lines defining "Bliss":

..........Hands for the pillow
..........Gazing at the August moon
..........I've no enemies.

Gravel and cherries emanate from the wine
darkening my glass into the same scarlet
the sun tips over the sage and mint
unfurling over Mexico's Sangre de Christo mountains.
Nowadays, I will dine with anyone-

which does not lessen the sprezzatura
flowing through my veins
as I anticipate your hand
pushing open the door
into another conversation with me...

A night of nerves melting fearlessly
from knowing:
the air shall not forget its position and give birth
........to representatives from the annals of monks who disavowed vows,
........Machiavellian sons from the history of the Vatican,
........politicians (even the good ones),
........child-obsessed vampires,
........my younger selves who thought the Poem to be figments of imagination.
Sweetly, you recommended eggplant.

Steven loves to quote Blake: "Exuberance is Beauty!"

.....a menu of tongues...

Ah, Philip -- you perfume my inarticulate words into silence…


One of moi Peeps wrote in to express "condolence over the death of your friend."

I replied,"He lived a full, accomplished life. No reasons for sadness..."

Peep responded, "Nicely put. I hope someone says that about me some day."

No need to say more.


Friday, March 11, 2005


has ascended. Rest in Peace. You said you wanted to be the one to teach me how to ride BART. It's okay that we missed that chance -- I learned so many other things from you.



I spent my first Bay Area summer (2001) with Philip Lamantia (1927-2005). It was one of those golden (in a Proustian sense) summers for me, because I just spent it hangin' with him. I don't know why he gave me so much time, but I'm grateful. Once, sublime sweetness in his eyes, he served me olives and cheeses with Portuguese wine ...

Here's a poem (from an old diary) that I'd begun about my first meeting with him (I use a series of dots to denote caesuras as I forgot how to do spacings and indents on Blogger). I wrote the poem in part because he wanted someone to write, in a poem, about the relationship of agriculture and the start of civilization (Part IV):

Deflowering Memory With Philip Lamantia

I claim the glory, in you, of singing to you this morning
For I am coming out of myself and Go to you, Lord of the Morning Light
For what’s a singer worth if he can’t talk to you, My God of Light?
--from “Morning Light Song” by Philip Lamantia

June 15, 2001

I. Buddha
Day opens with an appetite
.....like that coruscating a man on a desert isle
..........or one forced to define “mortality” as mere months
or you who should never wake to an empty bed
or I left bereft by news of cruel-eyed men penetrating the Antarctic
to excavate the only spot on earth birthing blue granite

Met Philip Lamantia at night:
.....each second “historical”..... time acquiring an opulent opal’s cast
.....corridor raucous with paintings and masks
.....Portuguese bicentennial “reserve” wine
.....every book ever published (and not) stacked vertically
..........and horizon
...............-tally to trip
........angels in thigh-high leather boots and kind eyes
........masquerading as leather shadows tangoing with hallway light
.....Albert M___ seated on my left
.....Andrew J___n on my right
.....MJ wafting from a pipe
.....discussing the origins of agriculture
........masturbation as “anxiety, then relief” (male perspective)
........Medical Marijuana
........recovering Xoce who surrounded pink raisins with commas
........the Aztecs’ failure to conquer the Majakuagy-Moukeia

Philip Lamantia read a poem decadently .....appropriately .....opulent opalescence
.....between cigarette puffs adding to the room’s dusk:
.....The day non-surrealism became surrealist
.....Three poets applaud with the fervor
........of all poets ever birthed,
........the ghosts of those who died,
........the foretelling of those to come,
........those both (and neither) dead and alive

Somewhere, a magpie manifests Buddha nature
.....by using all materials available, privileging none over another,
.....to build a nest--
.....twig silvered by rain, cobalt ribbon, autumn-red leaf, lemon lie, brass coin--
.....a 24-carat gold coin--a poem eternally aflame…

II. sideway glances
canyons formed by texts
heaped high

a “beauteous beast” spilled
words yet to be defined

once, he interrupted himself:
“I must calm down”--

“regained/ his footing, securing
us from the sheer drop to the abyss below”

.....There are no floods here
.....No mud

III. Uncrumpled Violets
how many words are required to bear
the weight of witness
-ing you sing a poem
.....the room lavender everywhere

your hands formed a ___ for us
after you lengthened the saxophone’s last note

beneath your expansive gestures a fragility peeks
.....like a school of silver fish
.....that disappears suddenly .....silver ink marks rupturing oceanic canvas
.....when a shark or scuba driver blinks
.....bringing night
where coral’s breath
..........mutates sea into liquid jade

turquoise on Kachina doll hanging on your wall is color of sunlit ocean embracing Greece while you explored Mexico .....is ocean

To meet you is to recognize:
.....I have spent 40 years moving towards you
.....You, the angel Michelangelo sensed within veined stone
........who can choose among a multitude of churches for Home

I shall stay. No blow shall ever be imminent in this room scented by uncrumpled violets

Purple air obviates despair
with the scent of non-sniveling youth

No chasm in your room, no movie
that would rupture the air with a category academia labels “non-fiction”

IV. Philip On Cereal

The puzzle of agriculture: why was the behavior of farming selected and reinforced by humans when it lacked the adaptive rewards surpassing those accruing to hunter-gathering or foraging economies?

Paleopathological studies show that health deteriorated in populations that adopted cereal agriculture, returning to pre-agricultural levels only in modern times. This is in part attributable to the spread of infection in crowded cities, but is largely due to a decline in dietary quality that accompanied intensive cereal farming. People in many parts of the world remained hunter-gatherers until quite recently; though they were aware of the existence and methods of agriculture, they declined to undertake it. Cohen summarized the problem by asking: “If agriculture provides neither better diet, nor greater dietary reliability, nor greater ease, but conversely appears to provide a poorer diet, less reliably, with greater labor costs, why does anyone become a farmer?”

Philip On Cereal

Groups led by Ziodrou and Brantl found opioid activity in wheat, maize and barley (exorphins). Researchers found the potency of exorphins comparable to morphine and enkephalin, producing effects such as analgesia and reduction of anxiety.

Chemical reward was the incentive for the adoption of cereal agriculture in the Neolithic. Regular self administration of these substances facilitated the behavioral changes that led to the subsequent appearance of civilization.

Philip On Cereal

At first, patches of wild cereals were protected and harvested. Later, land was cleared and seeds were planted and tended, to increase quantity and reliability of supply. Exorphins attracted people to settle around cereal patches, abandoning their nomadic lifestyle, and allowed them to display tolerance instead of aggression as population densities rose in these new conditions.

The fact that overall health declined when cereals were incorporated into the diet suggests that their rapid, almost total replacement of other foods was due more to chemical reward than to nutritional reasons.

Philip On Cereal

“An animal is a survival machine for the genes that built it. We too are animals, and we too are survival machines for our genes. That is the theory. In practice, it makes a lot of sense when we look at wild animals. It is very different when we look at ourselves. We appear to be a serious exception to the Darwinian law. It obviously just isn’t true that most of us spend our time working energetically for the preservation of our genes.”

Philip On Poetry

Cereals are still staples and methods of reward have diversified since that time, including today a wide range of pharmacological and non-pharmacological cultural artifacts whose function, ethologically speaking, is to provide reward without adaptive benefit. It seems reasonable then to suggest that civilization not only arose out of self-administration of artificial reward, but is maintained in this way among contemporary humans. Hence a step towards resolution of the problem of explaining civilized human behavior may be to incorporate into ethological models this widespread distortion of behavior by artificial reward.

Philip On Poetry

Here’s the spoon of sudden birds wheeling the rains of Zeus
Here’s the worshipping Eye of my soul stinging the heavens
Here’s Charmed Bird, zepher of High Crags—jugs of the divine poem
As it weaves terrestial spaces, overturning tombs, breaking hymens
From where cometh this first cry
.....that my hands go into for the wresting of words
Here’s my chant to you, Morning of mornings, God of gods, Light of light
Here’s your singer let loose into the sky of your heaven
For we have come howling and screaming and wailing and I come SINGING
To You who giveth forth the song of songs that I am reborn from its opulence
That I hold converse with your fantasy That I am your beauty
NOT OF THIS WORLD and bring to nothing all that would stop me from flying straight to your heart whose rays conduct me to the SONG!

Philip On Cereal And Poetry

Can a reward be “artificial”?

V. Steven F___
I met a lawyer concerned about prisoners’ cavities—
.....I e-mail him: “Gads--Philip's room: the smoking, the conversation, the reading...I have memorized the evening!"

He e-mails me: “I laughed because while I don't doubt that you remember the evening, I also believe that if somehow you had forgotten it all you would be able to bring back every detail, as the Proust character recalls his childhood via the madeleine cookies, by smelling the totally smoke-saturated clothes you wore that night (if for some reason you didn't throw 'em right in the wash or stick 'em in the sun for day or two)! It is a staggering amount of smoke!”

I e-mail him: “Yes…and not just cigarette smoke.”

The All of the All of the Opulent Opalescence of the All of It--

All as civilized as Proust.


June 15, 2001 Footnotes:
In Section I, “Xoce” is Jose Garcia Villa

Quotes from Section II are from Philip Lamantia’s poem “TRIPLE V: The day non-surrealism became surrealist”

Section IV is mostly annotated from “The origins of agriculture – a biological perspective and a hew hypothesis” by Greg Wadley & Angus Martin (Australian Biologist 6:96 – 105, June 1993), with specific references to:

Brantl, V., Teschemacher, H., Henschen, A. & Lottspeich, F., 1979, Novel opioid peptides derived from casein (beta-casomorphins), Hoppe-Seyler’s Zeitschrift fur Physiologische Chemie 360: 1211-6

Cohen, M.N., 1977, Population pressure and the origins of agriculture: an archaeological example from the coast of Peru, in Reed, C.A., ed., The origins of agriculture, Mouton, The Hauge.

Dawkins, R., 1989, Darwinism and human purpose, in Durant, J.R., ed., Human origins, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Lee, R.B. & DeVore, I., 1968, Problems in the study of hunters and gatherers, in Lee, R.B. & DeVore, I., eds, Man the hunter, Aldine, Chicago.

Zioudrou, C., Streaty, R. & Klee, W., 1979, Opioid peptides derived from food proteins: the exorphins Journal of Biological Chemistry 254: 244S9.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Releasing a 504-page brick, then an 18-page collection, results partly because I want to be attuned to scale.

Which leads me to Vanishing Points of Resemblance by Tom Beckett. I find Tom's 21-page collection to be more effective than 85% of the far-longer books I've read over the past year or so.

Even if (synchronistically) the page count had been limited by any, say, constraints over at the book's publisher Generator Press, I always thought that part of VPOR's brilliance is how it is sized at purrrfect pitch: slim but infinite in resonance.

from the series "Poetry Economics: A Poetry Oxymoron"

So, while I was away in Texas, my brick-book had been sent over to a local winemaker who'd wanted to "trade wine for poetry book." Now, the book price is not really discernible on the back cover (the price is embedded within the bar code), so said local winemaker was left to determine the value of the trade. When I returned from Texas, he had left me four bottles of wine and one bottle of olive oil. To wit, for my book, he handed over the equivalent of $158.00. I had been expecting, and would have been happy, for a single bottle of wine (in fact, I'd forgotten to insert a note saying my book is priced at $24.95 but I know his bottles cost more than that so that I'd be happy to hand over the difference in cash).

$158.00. That's the most ever paid for any of my poetry collections. Any of you poets out there ever sold one of your books for $158.00?

What's the lesson here?

As far as I know, this winemaker is not someone who pays a lot of attention to poetry (though I think he'd read poetry in the past, perhaps college); I suspect he was just curious about my poetry since we know each other. But I think one lesson from this experience can relate to how the "poetry world" enforces constraints on poetry.

For example, due to publishing costs, the need for publishers to use poetry book contests as fundraisers, the perceived lack of general readership for poetry and so on, most poetry books out there are slim. I remember enjoying a conversation with some local Texas writers where I held up both my 504-page brick as well as my 18-page collection, The Estrus Gaze(s) (from the lovely Belladonna folks). I said both are equal -- i.e., the brick isn't more valuable just cause it's thicker. And the reason I feel that way is that I feel there is (or at least attempted for) an organic reason for the size of the two collections.

But with many poetry books that I read, it seems as if the putting together of the poetry collection is given short shrift. And that what happens is that a poet writes enough poems to fill the pages of a slim poetry book (a slimness determined by external factors rather than the work itself) and puts that together and, yadda, there's a poetry book.

Now, that approach certainly can work fine, especially if you're inclined anyway to think that one doesn't write/read poetry books but only writes/reads individual poems. Sure, I think it can happen that way -- but not necessarily so; I don't see this as a binary where the writing of an individual poem precludes the writing of a poetry book. I happen to think the collation of poems is another layer to the art form that's recognized as a poetry book.

In any event, when creating a poetry book, are you creating a, uh, Poetry Book or just concocting a convenient place where peeps can read more of your individual poems than what they would get access to if they were reading poetry journals.

I ask because, again, I think economic and other constraints are facilitating the typical poetry book size (generally speaking) known as 48 - 96 pages, or 108-126 at the top end of page count.

Are poets accepting book size as a matter of course (based on how to get published) versus that it is an aesthetic decision, too?

And all this is brought up by how this winemaker paid $158 for a single book -- the winemaker could have given one bottle, two bottles or anything less than $158. To give what he did, based on what he read, is not to say that my brick is worth $158 but that it is a valuable thing -- of way more value than how the publishing industry values poetry books. (And, as a poetry publisher moiself, I implicate myself in all this, by the way...)

From the mouth of babes, as the saying goes. This winemaker who doesn't pay much attention to poetry, reads a (my) poetry book, and says there's value there. There's probably more of them out there than poets are reaching by staying within the confines of the "poetry world."

The thing is, Poetry is priceless. We know this. So mayhaps more of us poet peeps should be thinking out of the box as to how this affects how we choose to publish our poems rather than accepting what *The Corporation* insists is the value of our work, I mean, our Love.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


I’m delighted to announce the West Coast launch of Luis H. Francia’s poetry collection, Museum of Absences, published by Meritage Press! Here’s info on the launch and another panel involving him and other fabuloso poets the next day at U.C. Berkeley – all free and open to public!

Celebrate the West Coast joint book launch of Nick Carbo's collection Andalusian Dawn (Cherry Grove, 2004) and Luis Francia's Museum of Absences (Meritage Press, 2004).

In a multi-generational Pinoy poet lineup, Nick Carbo and Luis Francia will be joined by New Jersey-based Patrick Rosal and San Francisco-based Anthem Salgado. Book signing follows.

Thursday March 17, 2005
SFPL Main Library
Lower Level, Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

100 Larkin Street (at Grove),
San Francisco
415-557-4277 for more information


CSEAS, UC Berkeley
presents a Panel Discussion

"Navigating Place: Philippine-American Writers and the Diaspora"

Moderated by Catherine Ceniza Choy, Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley

Luis Francia
Luis Francia is a journalist, writer and poet based in New York. His books include Museum of Absences and Eye of the Fish: A Personal Archipelago. He is co-editor (with Angel Velasco Shaw) of Vestiges of War: The Philippine-American War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream 1899-1999. He writes regularly for The Village Voice and The Nation, and for The Sunday Inquirer Magazine in the Philippines.

Nick Carbo
Nick Carbo is a writer and poet based in Florida. His poetry collections include Andalusian Dawn and Secret Asian Man. He is the editor of Pinoy Poetics and co-editor (with Eileen Tabios) of Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina America Writers.

Patrick Rosal
Patrick Rosal is a poet based in New Jersey. He is the author of Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive.

Friday, March 18, 2005
4:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Geballe Room, Townsend Center for the Humanities
220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley


I blogged earlier about the Monet's London exhibit at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts. Well, Mark Lamoureux wrote in to share a poem, which I now share with you below, that he'd written inspired by one of Monet's paintings related to Fog on the Thames (click here to see the painting).

Mark and I apparently share an interest in ekphrasis. He's thinking about a series of poems on Francesca Woodman's photographs, even as I'm two poems into my "Whistling at Whistler" series! Anyhoo, here's Mark on a Monet painting!

Form & Idea
Two Bridges by Monet

I. Charing Cross Bridge, Fog on the Thames

The sun is a swollen salmon & cream apostrophe
the size of a silver dollar
pasted on a funk of grey,
a beach-ball in the fog, a hoax
like the pie-plate slung above Arkansas
which harbored men from Mars.

Reflections & solids:
phenomena & noumena
coupled in the mind’s mirror: the sun,
the real sun is the faraway lover &the painting
is the sex on the phone.

The painting is a memory of movement,
a moment flattened in amber, a coral:
how a hand swirled just once &made the sun
& once again--the sun's reflection on syrupy water,
a dribble of light beside a shadowy Junk,
ghosts of buildings behind
born of the same brush, brothers &sisters of the same helix,
the same shrouded spark.

II. Japanese Bridge

The stalk of a plant an arc of green bent across
the color of hospital walls
seen through tears,
willow leaves: tentacles of long &brittle hair
that scrape a nipple
before climax, a seizure aura.

The painted light solidifies &sets like
a custard, a sea jelly, the painting itself
as solid as the skin of trees;
willow fronds dangle in the moment before stirring,
their strokes mottled &raised like a rash.

Form & idea at war, a lovers’ quarrel:
the sheen of the idea: its voice, its openmouthed kiss,
the dots of the i’s in its letters
& then the body in the bed in August,
the nocturnal elbow in your gut, the goo of the paint,
the unrelated, irresistible skin.


Here's also some thoughts shared by Mark on his process:

"[Your posting the poem also foces me] to get my ass in gear with the Woodman stuff. I have been looking at the texts (well, the photographs) a lot, and I just need to get started. I'm glad you posted the Woodman link. I have been worrying about once I actually write the stuff what the fair/use copyright ethical-ness of posting any of the images with the poems would be, also the general ethicalness, since Woodman is kinda of an intense figure and people tend to feel really intensely about those photographs (was at the Boston ICA for a film based on her works called 'The Fancy' and I thought there was going to be a brawl during the question/answer session. That's part of what inspired wanting to write about the photos, actually). Being a male writing about them adds another level of dubiousness to the project also, though I would say in some repsects Woodman was directly interacting with the 'male gaze'."

Thanks for sharing, Mark! Process always fascinates me, and undoubtedly many of moi peeps!

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