Thursday, June 30, 2005


Apparently, I'm sick.

Well I always knew that and was perfectly fine with that, I riposted back yesterday at the doctor.

No, not your mental state, said doctor said. This is physical.

Well, so I'm sick. But that's not really what pisses me off. It's that my meds limit me to one glass of wine a day. Que horror! Now how can Moi be civilized on one glass a day!? Particularly as I can't be a hermit today, being off now to this?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Oh! Craig is back ... and shopping! Well peep right back atcha!


What amazes me is that many people back home fail to see the sacrifice that a lot of women go through. They imagine that we who live and work abroad live a life of luxury. If they only knew the truth. And how demeaning it is for a woman to have to beg her husband for cents to send back home, which is why you will meet professionals who do what they would never do back home. They clean out latrines, and do heavy factory work, they do the dirty jobs that white people refuse to do because back home there is the family waiting and if they are women with pride, they do not want to spend all of their lives begging for every single cent from their white-skinned husbands.
--RC Loenen-Ruiz

RC Loenen-Ruiz's post praising Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor's poem "Mail Order Bride" (available on "Babaylan Speaks" -- scroll down a bit), made me take one of the Installments I'm writing for THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF COMMODITIES, my shopping-related project, to include said poem. Here's that particular installment now, which also collages in a section from Leny's impressive new book A Book of Her Own:

Notes for INSTALLMENT No. ___: Filipina Brides

My sister is beautiful. Too beautiful for her own good. Men began ogling her as early as when she was just in sixth grade. Vulnerable to such attention, she eventually became a lousy student as she learned she could navigate her life, more easily, she thought, by focusing on other attributes besides education.

Later, she became one of the Philippines' hottest export commodities: Filipina brides. She began corresponding with someone "state-side." She sent him her photo. Not long after, she announced he would be visiting us. The week before we were to meet him, the household remained in a constant flurry of preparation. My father made "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 sacrificed 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."*

From the United States, the gringo bought her, I mean, brought her gifts like

...a teddy bear clad in a red-and-white polka dot bikini
...red satin tank top
...white fishnet stockings
...a plastic make-up bag with an assortment of lipsticks, powder and eye make-ups
...sunglasses with mauve-tinted glass with lenses so huge they seemed to hide her face
...box of See’s chocolates (melted by the heat before the box was opened)
...fake leather shoulder bag
...Timex watch with pink wrist band
...White Linen perfume
...a brass-gold chain dangling with a heart-shaped locket, his picture inside
...a packet of hair barrettes, the colors forming a rainbow
...Disneyland t-shirt
...flip-flop sandals
...a yellow beach towel featuring a band of grinning Donald Ducks

For my father, he brought some Jack Daniels. For my mother, a Sears can opener

He brought me a polyester scarf which I promptly turned into a dust cloth.

I don't have a sister, except this woman who is the sister of every Filipino. Her name need not bear my family name, or the names of the families who offered the bride whose head came to be rammed down several times on New Jersey concrete, the bride whose body was left dangling from a Texas tree, the bride whose face ended as a bullet-pocked grimace in New Hampshire, the brides who became maids to their husbands’ extended families, the brides who would become nurses to husbands 30-50 years their seniors, the bride who would come crying to me from an internet alleyway…

…the brides whose birth names I will never know…

and whom the writer Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor remembers, too, through a poem’s struggle with helplessness:

Mail-Order Bride

When you come to meet my family in the barrio, you
already have the envelopes and papers in your pocket.
You let us sit you at the head of the table beneath
the wood carving of the Last Supper and serve you an
evening meal. We listen to you marvel at the taste of
spicy chicken soup laced with tamarind. We do not tell
you that the chicken is our last meat, that the
portion you take is more than enough to feed my three
youngest sisters. Instead, we wait for you to agree;
then we will know the family will eat chicken or maybe
even pork for many months to come.

I do not eat that night while I sit next to you. I
spoon my soup onto my little brother’s plate, a last
farewell to our only boy. I hope you will let me send
money to him once we have left. For school, I will
tell you, my smile as soft as morning mist, perhaps a
little for new clothes. I try not to wonder how often
I will have to beg this way.

You sit on the porch late into the night, sipping
Black Label and sharing cigarettes with my father. My
mother sits in the kitchen trying not to listen to you
struggle through our language. My father is patient
and he speaks your language slowly, deliberately,
haltingly, so you will never suspect he knows more
than you thought he should.

I lay safe within folds of mosquito netting when you
give my father the papers and a thin envelope. He does
not keep the papers, instead glances at them to be
sure they look in order. The envelope looks so tiny in
his hand and he is unsure, uncertain that this is the
right thing to do. He looks into your hazy blue eyes
and rubs a hand through his thin, grey hair. Then he
folds the envelope in half and slips it into his back
pocket. There is not much more I can do for my family.
I am too small, too smart, too old for these barrio
boys. We both know it is better to find a life

In the morning we walk to the church together and I
hold your dry white hand as we say our vows. You press
cool, rough lips to mine and it is done. There is no
question what you want from me, yet you will have to
wait until you take me to your country. There is only
time to kiss my mother and squeeze my father’s hand
before we must leave to board our plane. We sisters
try not to cry and my mother begs us to stay, but it
is just for show. There is nothing for you here except
banana plantations and open pit mines.

I take one last look at the white washed church then
begin to fold myself up. My knees to my mouth, my
polio back turned sideways, my too large eyes wrapped
in swaths of my black hair. You fold my crooked arms
haphazardly to fit into a small envelope you have
brought, then slip me into your jacket next to you
passport and wallet. With a satisfied smile, you pat
your pocket, your newest acquisition safe against your

* from A Book of Her Own by Leny M. Strobel (T'boli Publishing, 2005)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


A place where the world meets
for song-
--from "AIPF Testimonial" by Mike Gullickson

Got some sugar in Moi In-Box today viz:

Dear Eileen

I am sending you a magazine as an enticement to join us at next years Austin International Poetry Festival. Please look at the website..aipf.org for information. I was going to say the magazine is a seduction...but...that is what it is --a seduction for your participation. Will you mention the conference to your peeps? The more people that attend the more unifying the experience will be. Austin is a remarkable city.

I am now one of those peeps that read your blog without a physical response, but almost always a psychic one...do you feel us churning inside of you? Do you feel our presence(s) as we feel yours? Do you feel us as we turn the pages of your life and your books-as we caress the words of your poems, and they in turn stroke us? Walt Whitman said this one hundred and fifty years ago..." For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you" It held true then, it holds true now.
love and peace
mike gullickson

So Hello Mike! Yes, Honey, moi belly often churns from moi peeps! And, yep, there look to be some fun stuff at the Austin International Poetry Festival -- check it out Peeps in case it has a slot in your 2006 calendar!


Also just added some newly-discovered peeps to the blog links. Roll me, Lorna Dee Cervantes...and nice poems, Scott Glassman!

Monday, June 27, 2005


Moi "son" Paolo Javier's got his second poetry collection 60 lv Bo(e)mbs forthcoming from O Books, which just put up info about it here. I'm so proud of Paolo ... and how nice to see others appreciate him, per these advance words:

“Paolo Javier’s 60 lv Bo(e)mbs is one of the most radically detourned poetics that I’ve encountered in a long time. Rocking hard the perimeter of a national American literary metabolic center, Javier deftly develops what critical theorists have only been able to talk about: the birth of a non-idealist anticipatory-resilient para-national subject. His poetry engenders a polysemic motility that gives inner-life to this new state of independence. What does that mean? It means your kolonial momma’s got your poppa’s digits – by the products.”
—Rodrigo Toscano

"I am happy to think of Clark Coolidge when I read these brain-racing improvs, even though they are spun out on tropical and topical and political and polyvocal chords. These poems carry the youth of the world a whole step forward in all possible ways."
—Fanny Howe

And also lovely to see that beautiful cover image by Mel Vera Cruz!

YaY Y'all!


Marsh Hawk Press just announced the winner of its annual poetry contest, judged in 2005 by Gerald Stern....and, for those who track such, the winner was not known to the judge or editor-reviewers. Go to the Marsh Hawk Blog for the results as well as info for the next year's contest.


A late night last night monitoring the doings a hillside away. From our backyard, we can see the neighbor's house. We saw the lights go on -- which should not have happened at all as the neighbor was not there and confirmed by phone from San Francisco that no one should be there at that hour (near midnight). Lights stayed on then house went black, but the three tractors we saw never turned back to leave ... which implies they went further up the mountain....

An hour and a half after phone call, the Sheriff arrives. He did check out house and supposedly didn't see anything unusual (we'll know more when the construction crew gets there this morn). During our monitoring (dare I say, glasses of red nearby), we rehashed the history of area that led hubby to speculate that these could be marijuana field planters again. Once, before we arrived on Galatea, DEA Black Hawk helicopters once winged over to grass down illegal marijuana fields placed on the mountain and watered from taps into farmers' water lines....you don't ever want to walk your mostly un-walked property to stumble across a bevy of illegal marijuana farmers...

It's important to do the neighborly thing around here (well, anywhere, I suppose) so we were up to about 1 a.m. doing phone calls and monitoring....in the midst of which a mountain lion showed up right on the other side of our backyard deer fence. Bad timing. Agitated dawgs, to understate the matter.

Anyway, a cool morning here. Hot cuppa java. Shower awaits. But sitting here understanding the implications of how the hour-and-a-half response rate from the sheriffs to emergency calls is not unusual in this very laaaarge county covered by too few sheriffs. The Locals told us years back to be sure the household knows how to protect itself. Yah, I got German Shepherds but I'd place my body between them and any danger -- the irony. So, awaiting after a hot shower is the item that's jumped to the top of my long TO-DO list: getting that gun license. Hence, the "Ugh, Ugh, Ugh."

Despite the three ugh-es, poetry (which is to say its own daemons) has made me face all this with, believe it or not, equanimity. Whoever said the word ain't the world? Sip coffee. And now: hot water.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


So as I am writing this, the household is a-twitter. Various male members of the household have gone and checked up on a neighbor's house because they noticed three tractors going up, at this hour, towards a neighbor's house which is in construction. That's the same neighbor whose construction site was burglarized last week. We're in a sufficiently remote area that we know that when three tractors go up to a certain site, that's unusual.

Anyway, said male members of Galatea scoped out the neighbor's house from a distance -- this after having gotten off phone with neighbor who's in San Francisco and who knows no reason why there should be activity at his house at this hour. Well, lights were spotted. So said male members returned home and are now calling the Sheriff.

And now, I leave to go offline while, sadly, leaving you Peep-readers hanging. More later...


When I said, in prior post, I don't privilege among the "brows" (if you will) of literature, that don't mean I ain't maintaining a critical eye. It's just that I don't necessarily allow disdain (if you will) to be the determining factor for what I turn moi attention to. Because everything, including the bad (if you will), can affect Poetry ... and I am interested in being open to anything that might, uh, open up my Poetry.

An early poetry mentor once told me, the ability to maintain the above perspective is often (not always, but often) the determinant factor between, not a poet vs critic but, a poet vs poetaster. Passing that on...as, in my experience with other poet(asters), I too have often (not always, but often) found such to be true.


As regards some of the non-poetry books listed below and in prior posts, I notice that my summer reading has tended to the "lite". If you must know -- and you must if you read this blog -- that's partly because I don't privilege among the "brows" of literature, and also because it helps me in providing feedback to some friends' novels-in-progress. The most recent novel manuscript I've reviewed was just solicited by a MAJOR COMMERCIAL HOUSE and I'm certainly keeping my fingers crossed that something can be worked out there! This morning, I had a phone call with that author-friend about certain aspects of the manuscript, how it can be tightened here and there before he sends out said manuscript tonight, and my feedback, to the extent it's useful, was partly derived from my reading of other books in that genre (a "lite" category). It's all very exciting.

Meanwhile, my other recent relished reads and imbibes:


INVISIBLE ARIA, poems by Tom Beckett

HOUNDS, poems by Alli Warren

DARK BRANDON, poetry and cinema by Brandon Downing

THE THORN, poetry and visual art by David Larsen



AS THEY WERE, essays by M.F.K. Fisher

THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS, novel by memoir by Ann Howard Creel

ALL NEW PEOPLE, novel by Anne Lamott

A BOOK OF HER OWN: WORDS AND IMAGES TO HONOR THE BABAYLAN, memoir, poetry, meditations, found texts and scholarly essays by Leny M. Strobel (with art works by various Filipino artists) -- I LOVE THIS BOOK -- AND IT'S ALSO GOING TO BE MY NEXT PRESENT FOR MY MOTHER!

UNDER ALBANY by Ron Silliman (Ron mentioned my Thursday post liking this book and that, as of this posting, sent 219 references to this blog; amazing to see Ron's peeps in action -- and on Sunday which I assume is not blog peak reading day!)

A WALK ON THE BEACH, memoir by Joan Anderson (though not as engrossing as her earlier memoirs A YEAR BY THE SEA and AN UNFINISHED MARRIAGE)

1997 Nicholson River Winery Semillon
1989 Ch. Cantemerle
1994 Henschke Mount Edelstein Keyneton Vineyard shiraz
1989 Ch. Haut Brion
2002 Leonetti
1977 Fonseca Port
2002 Dutch Henry chardonnay
2002 William Fevre Chablis Grand Cru Valmur
2002 Tofanelli zinfandel
1997 Veritas Winery Barossa Valley Mourvedre Grenache


Halvard Johnson writes "...that's a handwritten 'sign' in the doorway of a building a block or two from here. Loved it last year, and love it even more this year. Written in black marker or something. And I assume it's for real (or maybe surreal)."

And what Hal is referring to is a sign that proclaims to the wandering-by world:

Art & Plastic Surgery


So I notice Ron Silliman in his post today pointing to my earlier (Thursday) post about how reading his UNDER ALBANY made me forget time, thus turning the bathwater cold (and don't forget about me ending up ignoring the howling German Shepherds outside -- the bigger crime!). But what's mostly amazing to me is how, upon reading Ron's post, I clicked on his reference to my blog -- which was a link specifying my post, versus just being my blog's site addy. This allowed me to see that his blog had sent over 107 readers to my blog. Geeez. That's amazing, isn't it? Even if you deduct my one click, Ron can get me 106 readers in a matter of an hour or two?

Well, Ron -- mention me more often then...and specifically how great Moi am.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Release your bated breaths. I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED is now available at Small Press Distribution. Have compassion for SPD's bookshelves most assuredly groaning at the weight -- take a brick into your Home! I promise it'll be an ever-cheerful presence on your shelf!

Friday, June 24, 2005


Thanks to editor Halvard Johnson for inviting, then featuring, my poems. Here's his announcement below which includes Submissions information as well:

Hamilton Stone Review, Issue 6, Summer 2005, Now Online!

Featuring fiction by Pat MacEnulty, Ramsey Wilkens, and Masha Zager and poetry by Gene Frumkin, Amy King, Kenneth Pobo, Joseph Somoza, David Hopes, Stephen Vincent, Bob Marcacci, Harriet Zinnes, Kerry O'Keefe, Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino, Eileen Tabios, Frederick Pollack, and David Howard.

Submissions to the Hamilton Stone Review
At this time, the Hamilton Stone Review is not open to unsolicited fiction submissions, but will be taking unsolicited poetry submissions until Sept. 15, 2005, for Issue #7, which will be out in October 2005. Poetry submissions should go directly to Halvard Johnson at halvard@earthlink.net.


apparently inspired 19 days of happiness from Nick Carbo.

Just 19? How unimaginative. Do Moi not resonate infinitely?! (Anyway, got it safely in yesterday's mail -- thanks Nico!)

Gura likes it too, posting:
get lucky
Nick's Nineteen Day Supply of Happiness reminds me of those tubes that lottery balls fall in. And for some reason looking at a tube full of superballs makes me want to take the Nineteen Day Supply of Happiness and either 1) launch all of them against the walls of a narrow hallway at once (which is what we used to do with our superballs when we were kids or 2) drop them off of a really really tall building to see how long and far they'd bounce.

From condoms to seeing "how long and far they'd bounce." Such is moi expanse.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


either, what I shed upon receiving my copies of Leny M. Strobel's second book A BOOK OF HER OWN (it's just as groundbreaking as her first book). I can't say enough good things about this memoir vis a pinakbet stew comprised of meditations, poems, scholarly essays, dreams, visual art and selected quotes from other writers.

To Rebecca who's looking for interesting memoirs, I recommend Leny's book -- as well as Ron Silliman's UNDER ALBANY -- as memoirs who do something very interesting with literary form.

I devoured both books in one sitting -- indeedy, last night when I looked up from Ron's, the bathwater had turned cold and the dawgs were howling outside; I couldn't put it down! Eh, and those watermarks dried soon enough....Ron's also generated that "Damn I wish I wrote that" feeling (re. the form)...which I haven't felt in a long while even as I've enjoyed many others' output, and it's good to feel that positive-energy envy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


, consequently, one of the things that I've joked about in the past but that more honestly depresses me ... is when I stumble across poetry books that have the authors' inscriptions from them to past recipients. I pick them up at, usually, used bookstores and wonder what made those recipients let them go when there had been some sort of relationship or engagement that garnered them the author-poet's personalized note with signature.

I'm sure I overstate the implied intimacy between the recipient and poet. After all, I've done class lectures where my books were assigned texts and the students lined up afterwards to get my Jane Hancock...and, one semester, a student asked me to sign her book but which I noticed already contained my said Jane Hancock. The student explained that her friend had taken the course the prior semester and then sold it to her. So there I was, signing the same book twice ... to two different recipients.

Anyhoo. Moi point was that when I see these signed books at used bookstores, I usually feel bad for the poetry books. And here's my confession: when I see that the recipient as well as poet are peeps I know, I always buy the book. I somehow don't want my mutual acquaintances to know that one ended up letting go of the book. I am sure there are good reasons that people let go of books -- perhaps to raise money for financial emergencies. But I still don't want to not be able to help prevent that potential confrontation between poet and recipient beginning with, "So why'd you resell my book?"

All this came up today as I was otherwise enjoying the fine read of EX LIBRIS: CONFESSIONS OF A COMMON READER by Anne Fadiman. There was a section that discussed this topic, to wit:

"How melancholy...are the legions of inscribed copies one finds in any used-book rack, each a memorial to a betrayed friendship. Do the traitors [the ones who let go of the books] believe that their faithlessness will remain secret? If so, they are sadly deluded. Hundreds of people will witness it, including, on occasion, the inscriber. Shaw once came across one of his books at a secondhand shop, inscribed To _____with esteem, George Bernard Shaw. He bought the book and returned it to ________, adding the line, With renewed esteem, George Bernard Shaw."

See, at first I laughed. But moi laugh was short-lived. I've been there. And I can tell you: it doesn't feel good to see one's book, personally inscribed to someone with whom you thought you'd had a, uh, somewhat personal relationship, relegated to the used-book rack. I side with Poetry and, being human, I probably side particularly with mine.

from the series "Poetry Economics: A Moronic Oxymoron"

from a necessary project: Filing my Use Tax form.

This is the form that I gotta fill out in order to pass on the sales taxes on books I've sold in the state of California. It's something I need to do for Meritage Press as well as my own poetry books. As regards the latter, I know a lot of poets don't bother (can you imagine sending sales tax for the one copy you might have sold during the past 25 poetry readings?). But even if I weren't 100% honest as regards the IRS (cough), since I have to file it for Meritage Press, I toss in sales of my own books.

Now, I'm procrastinating because I've never been a fan of humiliating myself except as regards sex. To wit, last year, when I filed this Use Tax form, my required payment to the state of California was all of $0.02. Granted, I don't have to do use taxes for out-of-state sales or sales to bookstores or those done by SPD or Amazon, but two cents still says a lot as regards the sales volume -- or lack thereof -- of poetry book sales.

If I asked an accountant to fill out this paperwork, said accountant's bill probably would run to a couple of hundred bucks or so. The irony of spending that in order to send two cents to the government!

So, I'll do it. But not now, not now. Not today. The weather is fabulous, offering a stunningly beautiful day for the Chatelaine to bless with her presence: O sapphire light! In that context, tax bills have no role to play.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


is this article in today's San Francisco Chronicle with the headline

Areas of women's brains turn off during orgasm, researchers say

That is, according to Emma Ross of A.P. whose article was reprinted, "New research indicates parts of the brain that govern fear and anxiety are switched off when a woman is having an orgasm but remain active if she is faking."

Now, youse all are smart Peeps so I'm sure I don't need to explain why this is a poetics statement.

Okay, one hint: assume a poem is an orgasm.

Of course, Frank O'Hara said it first.


As I'm currently engaged in THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF COMMODITIES (which requires me in part to blog my daily shopping lists), I -- with no conscious intention on my part -- got tipped by the Muse to explore a not-exactly new theme to me and some other word-lovers, said theme as referenced in this epigraph to my latest poetry series "Post Bling Bling":

In a global, capitalistic culture logotypes exist (Nike, McDonalds, Red Cross) which are recognizable by almost all of the planet´s inhabitants. Their meanings and connotations are familiar to more people than any other proper noun of any given language. This phenomenon has caused some artists to reflect on the semiotic content of the words they use, (for example, in the names of perfumes) and isolate them, stripping them down to their pure advertising content. Words are no longer associated with a product, package or price, and go back to their original meaning or to a new one created by the artist.
--from Galeria Helga de Alvear's exhibition statement for 'Ads, Logos and Videotapes' (Estudio Helga de Alvear) Nov 16 - Jan 13, 2001

Or, from the same exhibition press release:

An urban inhabitant receives between 600 and 800 impacts from advertising per day. In the street: on billboards, shopping bags, in signs on buildings and vehicles. In private: through logotypes, advertisements in magazines and on television. All are different, yet with clear unifying factors: they contain attractive images, faces of supermodels; imperative messages which are easily retained. The artists who take part in this exhibit are aware of the significance of this reality, and, as a consequence, isolate it to a point where it becomes obvious in an atmosphere which is traditionally free from this type of interferences: the Art Gallery....

....except that the Art Gallery here is the poetry collection.

So I ask the question but don't answer how exactly a word is supposed to mean absent context. Well, that is, I answer with poems which are the most matter-of-fact that I've noticed myself ever writing. Here's an example, a prose poem that's comprised of the text for a Lexus advertisement; my only contributions are the poem's title and the line breaks as the original advertising text was one paragraph.


It's not just the debut of a new car, but of a new category.

Lexus engineers have combined the attributes of a luxury sedan with the remarkable fuel economy and low emissions that only hybrid technology can provide.

The result is a vehicle that offers you the best of both, without asking you to sacrifice anything.

A V6 engine delivers the power of a V8 while producing only a fraction of the emissions associated with a standard SUV.

Yet this hybrid is also every inch a Lexus, sparing nothing in the way of your comforts and conveniences.

Making it what may indeed be the first vehicle of its kind.

One that treats you, and the world you live in, with equal respect.

Here's another example from the series; again, the poem simply quotes the advertisement text:

Robert De Niro

My Life:

                         My Card:



Monday, June 20, 2005


is Ivy's review of my Belladonna chap The Estrus Gaze(s) over at forty-two: book review.

I'd never heard of 42 before -- but I totally love its concept, to wit: "Each review is exactly forty-two words; the books and reviewers are rumored to go on at much greater length"! Really nifty!

I mean, I find it really difficult to say anything in 42 words! (Heck, even when I go on moi prolonged blathers, I may not be saying anything!). This post, for one, is 89 words already!

(P.S. Am reprinting review below for convenience as this blog is my file cabinet:
42 Review by Ivy Alvarez
6.20.2005 monday
The Estrus Gaze(s) by Eileen Tabios A colon begins each line. The reader defines the blankness beforehand, negotiating the stink of estrus in one part and history's disconnection in the second. With a courtly nod to Jose Garcia Villa's comma poems, Eileen Tabios's poetry challenges at every turn.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


So Roger Bonair-Agard recently posted

... run out and get Luis Francia's "Museum of Absences". He is the Filipino-American writer with whom i featured at the library last thursday. his 9-11 poem seriously challenges Espada's Alabanza as the best 9-11 poem i've come across -- not that they even bear comparison, but in terms of the fondness i've developed for Alabanza since 9-11.

Thanks Roger! And it's also to say, you don't have to take it from me just coz Moi published Luis' book! Do check out Museum of Absences (available at SPD, among other places)!

And some of my own recent relishes of books and wine follows:

PLAINWATER, essays and poetry by Anne Carson

PRIME TIME APPARITIONS, Poems by R. Zamora Linmark

HARVESTS OF JOY, memoir by Robert Mondavi


BLUE COLLAR HOLIDAY, poems by Jeni Olin with Art by Larry Rivers

TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN, novel by Diana Dempsey

CLOBBERED DIRT, SWEET GRASS, memoir by Gary Paulsen with reproductions of nine paintings by Ruth Wright Paulsen

1991 Domaine Trevallon
1994 La Granja de Monasterio Ribera del Duero
1994 Judds Hill Cabernet
1989 Chapoutier Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne
2004 Pride Mountain WineryViognier
2003 Pride Merlot
2002 Pride cabernet
2000 Behrens & Hitchcock claret
from barrel tasting, 2003 Howell Mountain still-unnamed blend
Behrens & Hitchcock Napa Valley Merlot
from barrel tasting, 2004 Behrens & Hitchcock Alder Springs syrah
from barrel tasting, 2004 Behrens & Hitchcock Spring Mountain syrah
2002 Behrens & Hitchcock Les Chats du Monde
1997 Behrens & HItchcock Reserve Merlot
2003 Behrens & Hitchcock Alder Springs merlot
2004 Dutch Henry winery pinot noir
1999 Dutch Henry cabernet
2003 Dutch Henry zinfandel
2002 Dutch Henry chardonnay

and last but not least, the wines from a fabulous Saturday night dinner hosted by Sharon and Chris de Rham (THANK YOU so much for your hospitality!):

2004 Araujo sauvignon blanc
2003 Peter Michael sauvignon blanc
1998 Domaine Weinbach Collette Faller et ses filles Cuvee Catherine L'Inedit
1994 Dalle Valle cabernet
1990 Chateaneuf de Pape Vie Telegraph
1996 Puligny Montrachet Les Combettes
1977 Dow's Port


SF MOMA will be presenting The Art of Richard Tuttle, the most comprehensive presentation of Tuttle's work ever assembled with some 300 paintings, sculptures and works on paper covering a 40-year career. I can't wait -- this exhibit will be at SF MOMA from July 2 to Oct. 16, with several associated discussions, presentations et al about it.

I also see in the museum's July/August calendar a feature article on the Wire Pieces that Tuttle created between 1971 and 1974. "These works interlace pencil line, wire and shadow to fuse volume, surface, light, and space," sez the catalogue.

I agree. For me, Tuttle's Wire Pieces are mong the most inspirational contemporary art works to, uh, inspire me. Such as in this prose poem from my 2002 book Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole:

The Wire Sculpture
-- after Richard Tuttle's sculptures of pencil, wall, wire, shadows, nail, space

The shadow is thin but what slices air is thinner. The press of approximation is confidently approximate. It does not matter to the naked eye. What is solid is what is not visible. Once more, you look back at the sculpture. But the light has changed with the progress of the hour. You leave and dwell instead on the simmer deep within your belly. How a shadow's imperfection humbles you. How a shadow recalls a life you once wanted to possess versus the life that folds itself around your awkward steps.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Huh. Apparently, I made Emmy Catedral dance (and with an accordion to boot, Jean!) with moi blather. To wit:

The just-released June 2005 issue of OurOwnVoice features an article presenting my meditations on Emmy Catedral's installation/performance/visual art series entitled "variations of resistance." It's partly a discussion about how the margins source new worlds (I first typed "words"). Here's an excerpt as regards this piece, "Gonwandland":

Catedral took the margin-less sheaves of paper and created a “Gondwandland” that hearkens, she said, “ single continent before man-made borders, political subdivisions of land. ” She added that she “ very consciously did not want to create a perfect yellow ball, as I know a pangea is irretrievable. There are some bits of blue from the lines. The cut-out ones actually start to look green arranged as a nest-like pile because of the blue lines against the yellow...this is ongoing. I intend to keep adding to the ball maybe until I go insane, then I will stop. Maybe. ”

Catedral’s vocabulary in desiring and designing Gondwandland is telling: “a single continent before man-made borders [or] political subdivisions of land.” Legal pads, of course, are among the most basic tools of the legal profession—including what lawyers and politicians use to define borders.

As she kept layering paper sheaves over the ball to make Gondwandland, Catedral observed that the object “actually start[ed] to look green” and “arranged as a nest-like pile.” The result, therefore, is a homage, even if romanticized, to nature before man began imposing its presence. Or, a nest before, inevitably, the nest’s residents mature and begin changing the nature of its nests.


Hmmm. My poetry book covers, when rolled up, apparently "slide in and out easily" from condoms...

Anyhoo, as many of youse Peeps know, I and Nick Carbo are collaborating on a visual poetry series. Here's our latest dialogue below (which I blog as a means of putting it into a diary) about my latest work which had been based partly on used condoms stapled to my poetry book covers. There's a guest starring role in this post here by Veronica whose ten bucks (for buying Nick's book during an SF Launch) I'd forwarded to Nick with my work. Oh, of course when Nick said "hymen" review below, he meant the recent Hyphen review of various Asian American anthologies... But I've been to VCCA where Nick's currently doing a residency, and maybe Nick's been doing sumthin' with the local cows that's clouded his eyes?. Anyway, here's our unprotected dialogue:

Hi Eileen, got yer latest and it's a riot! Thanks too for the copy of the hymen review. Thanks for the ten bucks from Ver. Coming with the condom, it looks like a payment for services rendered. he he he. I hope you don't mind but I changed your piece slightly: I removed the staple, I rolled up your cover into a phallic tube, and then put the condom over it. It slides in and out easily and I like the transparent nature of the thin latex which lets you see the image of Eileen in the wedding dress through it. If you do it this way for your other pieces/covers, you can have some of the writing showing and even add your own text on the condoms. You can use sharpies to write on the condoms. Now they sell ones with several bright colors.

Geniuses think alike! My original thought indeed was actually to roll up the covers and then have the condoms slipped over them!!!!! Well, we'll do it that way, then!!

I hadn't thought of writing text on the condoms, though, in part because I had never thought about the physical properties of condoms until I cracked that firstie package open! When we get to exhibition, I'll definitely adjust such then!

Which is all to say, a felt tip pen for writing on condoms just got onto the shopping list.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


               ... rose-

means the
blood is hidden.
--Mark Young

Thank you, Mark. It occurs to me -- I don't know if you know but my middle name, of course, is "Rose."

And, yes, I agree: "nothing is sacred." Or, I would say:

Either nothing is sacred, or everything is.


On an otherwise uneventful day
the sun turns an angry
shade of burgundy, birds
fall screaming to the ground
& the whole cicada universe
rises in a stirring rendition of

Bohemian Rhapsody.
--Mark Young

Moi heartily recommends the dozen poems written by Mark Young. The titles were provided by Tom Beckett.

Their process reminds me of the series of mixed media pieces created by artist Jane Hammond, after John Ashbery gave her titles for future works (info on that "Jane Hammond: The Ashbery Collaboration" here).

May Mark Young ever keep singing forever -- Mark: consider this post a rose tossed at your feet, its petals made, naturally, of red leather....

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

from the series "Blog Autobiography"

Postmodern identity’s adjective is “virtual”: it is flow, a process, not a result. It is, rather, a process of resolution ; it is the manifestation of a contemporary problematic. Actualising means creation, invention of a form from the starting point of a dynamic configuration of forces and finalities. The flux, the becoming, the tide, are ideal metaphors for the virtual. The postmodern subject constructs her own vertigo, but it is also constituted by it.
--from Ernesto Priego's fascinating "Fragments" series of posts that includes a reference to my earlier post on "Vertigo Poetics"

....which is to say: this is why my goal for my blog is an impossible one: to create a space where no negative energy exists.

But so what if a goal is impossible? You reach for it anyway and that's where Poetry may surface. And you may even achieve that goal, though never in the manner in which you anticipate because, still --

oh still! -- the matter is one of Poetry.


I've read in recent memory is Tsipi Keller's JACKPOT (Spuyten Duyvil, 2004). I was reminded to recommend JACKPOT after I learned of a new review about it here. Do check out JACKPOT, not to mention my new blog link TSIPI KELLER!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005



CEVICHE OF HALIBUT with avocado and green tomato
Dutch Henry Chardonnay, 2002

NAVARIN DE LAPIN: rabbit braised with chanterelles, mustard, bacon
Dutch Henry Argos 2002
Chateaux Leoville-Barton 1990

STEWED APRICOTS with pistachio cake, vanilla ice cream
Chateaux Rabaud Promis, 1988

Thank you, Dennis Leary, Sean Finney, Scott Chafen and Thomas Pollock!


Because there were many in the audience who were involved in the wine industry, one of the poems I read was "Restive" from ENGLISH which includes the lines:

The cabernet hang like purple testicles. I am always fingering a bunch. Sometimes I pinch off a globe, split its skin before my lips and suck at its membrane.

Afterwards, a winemaker from the audience said, 'Eileen, the cabernet harvest is coming up. And I'm nervous.'

I refused to give him relief. I replied, "Yep. Everytime you snip off a clump of cabernet, be sure to feel the testicular pinch!"

He crossed his legs.

Yadda! WinePoetics rule!


Here's where I'll be tonight (thanks to all who made it happen):

Canteen Literary Banquet with Tabios and Steere

Chef Dennis Leary (who was featured in this weekend's SF Chronicle Magazine) and host Sean Finney are very pleased you'll be joining us on Tuesday, June 14th for a Canteen literary banquet celebrating wine and poetry. We look forward to hearing the work of our two poets, Eileen Tabios and Leslie Steere, and enjoying wines from Dutch Henry vineyards and a distinguished private cellar.

Tuesday, June 14th at 6:30 pm
Canteen in the Commodore Hotel
Location: 817 Sutter St., San Francisco (x Jones)
Parking available across the street

Eileen Tabios has written and edited or co-edited fourteen books of poetry, fiction, and essays since 1996 when she traded Wall Street for poetry. Recipient of the Philippines' National Book Award for Poetry, she just released the multigenre collection I Take Thee, English, for My Beloved.

Leslie Steere has earned her living in high-tech publishing and marketing for the past 25 years, while keeping her connection to the arts by writing poetry, stories, and, most recently, a children's book. Her poetry has been published in the Noe Valley Voice and aired on KQED radio. She lives in Pacifica with her partner of many years, their 9-year-old daughter, and several animal companions.

Canteen was started by Dennis Leary, the former executive chef of Rubicon. The French diner is a tiny, elevated stage where Dennis makes ingredients from scratch and personally controls the quality and execution of each dish. Please see Patricia Unterman's restaurant review and a San Francisco Chronicle article on past Canteen literary events.


2002 Dutch Henry Chardonnay (a pale yellow, crisp, citrus and green apple Chardonnay, good acidity, no malolactic fermentation)
2002 Dutch Henry Argos (a Meritage from steep hillside vineyards that is full bodied, rich, concentrated with excellent aromas and red cherry flavor; the Cab Franc adds to the complexity)
1990 Leoville Barton (great Bordeaux that is fully mature; concentrated, smooth, elegant; an excellent counterpart and contrast to the New World Bordeaux blend from Dutch Henry)
1988 Rabaud Promis (slight orange color, tropical fruits, crème brulee aromas, bright acidity, medium thickness on the palate)

Monday, June 13, 2005


As I was saying -- as I am wont to say whenever I find moiself in circumstances I deem surreal -- WHAT'S GREAT ABOUT POETRY IS HOW IT CAN LEAD THE POET INTO NEW EXPERIENCES. Or, this is my second post regarding condoms.

Which is to say, this afternoon, I experienced two things for the first time in my life as part of the process to creating an installation piece for the VizPo collaboration series I'm hatching with Nick Carbo. To wit:

First, I tore open a condom packet.

Second, I unfolded the condom that came out all elegant in this circular form.

Conclusion: Geee -- those condoms feel really good. Silky even.

Anyway, for this installation piece, I stapled unrolled condoms to my poetry book covers -- as if, get it, the poet had an orgasm and out came a poetry book.

Obviously, this work is not going to be one of my more subtle or nuanced achievements.

But, there I was fingering, if you will, this unrolled sheath of condom and marveling at its texture. I noticed one of the cats perched nearby. I say to said kitty, This feels good; wanna feel?

So, right now, amidst the floor clutter of colored balls, ribbons, stuffed mice and catnip-stuffed accouterments for my two cats' enjoyment, there also lies strewn a condom....ripped to pieces by their kitty claws. I'm sure there's no insidious message there in the demise of that condom.

It's just what happens, youse know, when Moi plays with moiself.

Okay, Nico Carbo over at VCCA! Check your mailbox! This was mailed off to you today (and will be the first item in today's purchase list for the Shopping Blog)!


Here's a spanky-clean letter from Del Ray Cross:

Dear SudsLovers,

SHAMPOO issue 24, the FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY EXTRAVAGANZA, is now hot off the shelf and ready for your shower.

Please dispense modestly from:


Rinse and repeat and repeat with poetry by Alli Warren, Amanda Laughtland, Anselm Berrigan, Beth Woodcome, Bill Berkson, Brent Cunningham, C. S. Carrier, Carolyn Gregory, Cassie Lewis, Catherine Meng, Cedar Sigo, Charles Bernstein, Chris Stroffolino, Christopher Wells, Clark Coolidge, Cynthia Sailers, Dan Beachy-Quick, Del Ray Cross, Denise Duhamel, Eileen Tabios, Elaine Equi, Eric Raanan Fischman, Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle, Harvey Goldner, Jack Kimball, Janean Williams, Jennifer Dannenberg, Jim Behrle, Jocelyn Saidenberg, Jonathan Hayes, Joseph Torra, Justin Chin, K. Silem Mohammad, kari edwards, Kathleen Miller, Katina Douveas, Kevin Killian, Kit Robinson, Leslie Scalapino, Michael Farrell, Michael Magee, Michael Robins, Michelle Trigleth, Norma Cole, Otto Chan, Paolo Javier, Phil Crippen, Robert Gluck, Ron Padgett, Ron Silliman, Ronald Palmer, S.J. Holland-Batt, Sean Cole, Shane Allison, Solidad Decosta, Stephanie Young, Stephen Vincent, Sung-san Hong, Therese Marie Bachand, Tim Yu, Timothy Liu, Tina Celona, William Corbett, and Yedda Morrison; plus LatherLicious ShampooArt by Ronald Palmer and Otto Chan.

What better way to thank you all for five great years of SHAMPOO pleasure!


Del Ray Cross, Editor
clean hair / good poetry

Sunday, June 12, 2005


GLASS, IRONY AND GOD, poems by Anne Carson


BRONZE, poem-postcard by Ivy Alvarez

VECTORS: APHORISMS & TEN-SECOND ESSAYS, prose poems by James Richardson

LONG LIVES, poetry and essays by Mary Oliver (rather lite reading, but the prose poem and essay about her dogs are lovely)

THE GOOD MOTHER, novel by Sue Miller

A TIME OF VIOLENCE, poems by Eavan Boland

LA CHAMADE, novel by Francoise Sagan

BISYO ANG PAG-IBING / LOVE'S A VICE, poems by Mike L. Bigornia, as translated from Filipino to English by Alfred A. Yuson

AN UNFINISHED MARRIAGE, memoir by Joan Anderson

A GOOD YEAR, a novel by Peter Mayle

A VILLAGE IN THE VINEYARDS, a memoir by Thomas Matthews with photographs by Ruth Matthews

COTTAGE FOR SALE, MUST BE MOVED, memoir by Kate Whouley

GROWING SEASON, memoir by Arlene Bernstein

C'EST LA VIE, memoir by Suzy Gershman

1990 Ciacci Pianrosso Brunello di Montalcino
1990 Guigal Hermitage
1990 Renato Ratti Barolo
2002 Domaine Du Duc De Magenta Puligny Montrachet Monopole Clos de la Garenne Lowis Jadot
1998 Fox Creek McLaren Vale Reserve Shiraz
1986 Carruades Lafite Rothschild
1999 Kistler chardonnay
2002 Domaine des Perdrix Echezaux
1993 Jones Family

and from a recent food and wine tasting today of St. Helena wineries, i.e. the Ultimate Open House to benefit the St. Helena Viticultural Society, I made some fabulous discoveries in the 'hood....and forthwith recommend the usually reasonably priced wines of

Chase Family Cellars
Chiarello Family Vineyards
Crocker & Starr Wines
D.R. Stephens Estate
Edge Hill
James Johnson Vineyards
Ruston Family Vineyards
Salvestrin Vineyard & Winery
Titus Vineyards
Vineyard 29


My prior post worried some of my beloved Peeps -- I should say, not to worry, I'm sure I don't have brain tumors floating about -- just brain turmoils.

But this notion of vertigo being the cure between the clash of witnessing and the brain's refusal to believe the eyes -- it's not really about my personal condition. I am thinking more of WE -- that's you and me and you and me and you and me -- are looking blankly at this (and this and this and this -- YOU can flesh out the link)..

No wonder the planet itself has spun off its axis.

And my vertigo is my fate. To date.


It's been over a week and I'm not fully recovered from this awful debilitating-for-three-days vertigo I experienced. Gonna give it another week. If the vertigo continues, the doctor had said I should return for more check-ups. Because another reason vertigo would continue would be due to something like ... a brain tumor.


But I didn't really come online to write about that (cough). Just that, while being checked, the doctor had said something that I'd found so "poetic" it's still resonating. To wit, when there is a disagreement between vision and what the brain thinks is being seen, the body attempts a cure through dizziness.

Huh again.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

from the series "Poetry Economics: A Moronic Oxymoron"

"Such is Moi expanse" I even run an effin' orphanage.

Yesterday, while shopping, I went into a local bookstore and bought five books which included three poetry books (see first three items in yesterday's (Friday's) post at the Shopping Blog).

Ringing up my purchases, the bookstore owner/cashier pauses to say, "I am so glad you pay attention to the poetry shelf. Otherwise, those books would never get any attention!"

I reply, "Yeeeeaaaah....[insert pause as I look at said poetry shelf]....they do look lonely."

She waves over at them, "Well, there's plenty more lonely ones over there...!"

Mutually, we sigh.

I add, "Well, I'm a poet, too, so I have to, you know...."

She says, "Oh, I know! You have to support the cause!"

She beams at me.

Then adds, "You know, I sometimes get young people in the store and they whisper to me, 'I want to be a writer'. And I nod encouragingly. But when some say, 'I want to write poetry', well my heart just ... plummets...'."

We nod at each other...encouragingly, I think.

Then she says, waving at the poetry book shelf, 'I guess you're used to writing into that loneliness...?"

I say, "It's okay. I kinda like the perversity."

For lack of a better way to continue the conversation, another mutual sigh.

Then I take the three adopted orphans away....

Friday, June 10, 2005


So exciting to see this book cover for Meritage Press' single-author poetry collection for 2005, THE OBEDIENT DOOR by Bay Area poet Sean Tumoana Finney. The fabulous design is by Ward Schumaker who includes some of his images as well within the book.

That blurb there on the tan back cover is by John Ashbery. You also can check out one of Sean's poems, "Unbuttoned forever," recently published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian here.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


is my latest Working Title for the book I hope the Shopping Project will become. And it is an autobiography in that I mention true elements from my life. But it's also a fictionalized -- rather, poeticized -- autobiography in that I will change details in order to make certain aspects stronger from a literary standpoint.

I'm saying this because, as regards my prior post, I didn't want to let people think that my mother was the type who'd freely allow a ten-year-old to hold sway with a huge kitchen knife. (I think the conflation of true and fictional elements would be available in book form, but not necessarily via a blog post, so I am noting this.)

Everything in the prior "Installment" is true -- except that though I remember my family relying much on those sausage-y ground meat, that wasn't the meal that my mother would tell me to make for dinner. What she actually did was create Mexican casseroles and she'd just tell me to heat them up. But I thought the notion of a ten-year-old with a knife was more effective....

By the way, Mom never learned to cook either until she arrived in the U.S. Don't make too much of that, class-wise. The Philippines is like many poor countries, or not necessarily a poor country so much as a country where there exists a wide gap between the minority elite and the majority less well-off. As teachers, my parents logically had servants in a country where so many are poor that even ... the poor have servants.

Anyway, so Mom had to learn to cook when she arrived in the U.S. And her menu choices were partly conflated, I believe, with her attempts to fit into U.S. culture. So what did she choose as an American meal? Mexican food! Gads! I totally love the paradox!

Anyway, it's all very interesting -- what our shopping lists can say about our lives. I've been enjoying the dialogue in the Shopping Blog's Comment Boxes after many of my posts -- I've frankly picked up a lot of tips useful in my everyday life! Keep the dialogue coming. That Project is as much about you! Thank you.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Sometimes you get an idea for a new project. And it's all very exciting in the early days of trying to flesh out said idea. And in the heat of that rush, you sometimes become insensitive to others' feelings as you chatter here and there about it.

Well, that happened to me with my Shopping Project. I explain it in my latest "Installment" below -- I mean, why did I nag my mother about this...and why would she have wanted to go through her memories for these references? Fuck my poetry and art relative to the pain my queries must have caused her:

Notes for Installment No. ____: GROUND MEAT

I told Mom about this Shopping Project. And I asked her to participate by recalling a typical weekly grocery shopping list during our first year as immigrants to the U.S. Back then, we were a family of six and my parents -- whose trainings as teachers were not accepted by U.S. certification standards -- struggled to make enough money to feed and clothe us as well as to pay the rent. I was curious as to how our economic constraints might be reflected in our grocery shopping habits.

“A wonderful idea,” my mother, ever interested nowadays in my development as a writer, enthused.

A week passed. This installment was one of my first ideas as I formulated the Shopping Project and so I was very caught up in the excitement of its newness as an idea. I called Mom to remind her of my request.

“Yes, yes,” she said. I could feel her nodding robustly, though we conversed by phone.

Another week. Another reminder.

Another week. I had my hand on the phone. I was about to call Mom to remind her again. But something stilled my fingers from dialing the phone. A feeling of discomfort. What is that? I asked myself. No one answered, but I did think that maybe I should try to remember such a list rather than nagging Mom about it again.

But all that my memory could dredge up to offer was … a tube of ground beef encased in plastic sheeting. Its packaging formed the meat into a huge sausage. But it had at least two advantages: it was cheap and one could slice pieces to fry, rather than form meat patties from a mound of beef not conveniently encased in sliceable form by a petroleum byproduct.

I never cooked until I entered the U.S. At age ten, I often had to cook dinner as my parents worked late. Mom must have determined that the sausage-formed ground beef was easier for me to handle.

We bought a lot of those ground beef fake-sausages. I fried up a lot of sliced patties. For many years.

As I write this, I remember something I’d also forgotten. No, not what else could have been on those shopping lists. I remember how deeply I resented my parents’ inability to be there to make dinner for the family. I remember thinking that a ten-year-old should be too young to be placed in charge of making dinner. I remember how I loathed my parents' absence. I remember loathing myself even more for loathing their absence as I was aware that they had to earn a living for the family.

My teen years were turbulent. The first time I ran away, I ended up in Arizona and my mother flew on American Airlines to take me back home. I remember, at the ticket counter, watching her purchase our flight tickets back to California and, amidst my anguish, almost dispassionately observing: Huh, never knew Mama and Daddy used credit cards…. I have yet to return to Arizona.

The second time I ran away, my departure was masked as having to travel 3,000 miles away to attend college in New York, thus, the logical separation between me and my parents. Or perhaps they did understand that I was running away then, if only because I have yet to return to them thirty years later.

Those turbulent adolescent years -- it occurs to me now that they could be summed up by one product:

                                                    finely ground meat

trapped in tight packaging, then frozen,

released by a sharp knife, only to be fried in sizzling hot oil

with always too much salt.


EXCITED. Yep I am! I just learned that one of the most talented poets writing today has agreed to be the first poet in a new chap series I'll be launching through Meritage Press:


I won't reveal this BIG-HEARTED POET's name yet, but will instead discuss my involvement since this blog is gleefully about Moi. To wit, this series will present poems meant to be imbibed with a glass of wine (or bottle(s), whatever tickles your goatee). But each chap's cover will feature original "wine drawings" by yours truly.

So I was telling a poet-buddy of mine about MR. BIG HEART's involvement and thus this email dialogue this morn:

BUDDY: You should probably specify, for each chapbook, the bottle that ideally goes with it...

MOI: Hmmm. I could do that. Maybe combine it with the idea I had that I have to reveal which bottle of red wine provided the "ink" for the wine drawings. But to specify means I won't be able to use "cooking wine" quality as I'd have to name-drop fabulous bottles (which I can probably blather about in some Afterword about the series...). Well, the cellar must sacrifice -- nothing beats poetic *authenticity*..., // It could be poetry itself, trying to explain why a particular bottle goes with a particular poem....

BUDDY: That would be a tremendous sacrifice, using some, I don't know, Lynch Bages to draw with rather than drink.....

MOI: I know, I know. But then I thought of the analogy of how even when one cooks with wine (or so I've heard since it's not like I cook), one should still use as good a wine as possible. And that's when the saying comes up: for every cup in the pot, two glasses for the mouth. So if I drink as I draw, maybe the sacrifice will be tolerable...

BUDDY: I hope so.

So, I don't know if the WINEPOETIX Series will unfold exactly per above. I'm not sure, for one, about the idea of recommending a particular bottle to read with each subject poem -- that'd be like positing (misguidedly) that there's only one way to read certain poems (wink).

On the other hand, as regards the importance of poetic authenticity, I am ever at Poetry's service and will duly sacrifice by ... imbibing fabulous name-drop-worth wines! Besides, maybe that derangedness, uh, I mean, drunkenness would improve the quality of those wine drawings...


Geez. I am just admiring what Ron Silliman has to say this week! So today's post also resonates with me. Go there but he's talking (partly) about the difficulty -- due to publishing constraints -- for a poet to be able to publicly release work in the order in which said works are written. This may not be significant to those poets who do it *one poem at a time,* but I'm with Ron when he notes a "personal bias for poetry over poems, with the concomitant notion that one’s lifework is best understood as a single overarching project, within which this or that individual poem is a component, never the whole."

With ENGLISH, I finally feel -- this is my 9th poetry collection released within 10 years of writing and I hadda exceed 500 pages to do it -- that I got the publishing trajectory in balance with my efforts. (This number includes two collections that's marketed as a "short story" and "art essay" collections but I do consider my prose, too, to be part of my "poetry".) I'll release my 10th poetry collection in 2006 (or 11th if we include a poetry CD that I also released a couple of years back) and that will be the first time I won't be doing so with a wistful look at my file drawers where one or two or three other manuscripts still await a home.

So how did I do it? I've spoken flakily about poetry karma before. But one thing I also can share is that I did it partly by not paying attention to careerist concerns....through this one example. These books (excluding my e-publications) were published by lovely people in three countries: the Philippines, the U.S. and Finland (Finland -- who'da thunk!!! That's diaspora for ya!).

And the significance of me not remaining U.S.-centric is that many "more experienced" poets/writers have told me in the past that I should save my work for U.S. publication -- that such is how I'd get known. But it was more important for me to see those books get released in the appropriate sequence (even to the extent of sacrificing book production quality at times relative to Westerm means since my publisher in the Philippines is not the most technologically adept and paper is so expensive over there).

So could I be a "bigger poet" if I had focused my attention on the U.S. market? Do I have to explain why this is simply A RIDICULOUS QUESTION?

At a panel a few months back at SF State in which I participated, the question naturally came up of publishing tips. There's never any one single answer, but certainly the advent of the internet should remind that one need not stay constrained by just the U.S. market. And though many decry the book chains, the fact that there is such a thing as Amazon.com and others also means that one can distribute books published overseas in the U.S. whose audience nonetheless is relevant to one who lives here.

If you want to get published in poetry, think out of the box beyond the pathetic infrastructures in which U.S. poetry publishing too often relies. Of course, that would mean having to rethink your notions of cultural capital and prestige. Which is why, how a poet thinks about publishing/distributing poems, in my view, is also a form of poetics.


Now, the Chatelaine wouldn't be the Chatelaine if flakiness doesn't surface. So back to poetic karma. Had I listened to more "experienced" folks and not sent manuscripts overseas, I never would have seen my first book-length collection get published in the Philippines, where it would then win that country's National Book Award of Poetry (who'da thunk?). Whether or not I deserved that award, its receipt gives me a pretty good title to bandy about for purpose of "cultural capital" in any part of the poetry world, including the U.S. It's about karma, baby. It's about karma.....

.....and by which I mean I frequently tout that award to push for, as it turns out, not the books I author but books I've edited involving others. It's about karma, baby: my six edited and co-edited books, too, are part of my poetry....as are the books I later would come to publish through my own teensy press. Because Poetry is not just about one's self.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

from the series "Poetry Economics: A Moronic Oxymoron"

Okay. A new bookstore opened in town. Moi promptly swooped!

So, first, it's an interesting experience -- the first for me -- to go through a bookstore's shelves when it literally just opened. This one is an indie bookstore so I was curious how they'd make their decisions on which titles to feature. There are some overlaps with chain store type offerings but that's to be expected. At least they are offering a more extensive poetry section than two of the other bookstores in St. Helena and Calistoga (though that's not saying much). Still, their shelves -- I looked at every single one -- do indicate some elan that's possible only if the bookstore's owners have some point-of-view besides what HQ (that's "headquarters" to youse) orders them to stock.

I bought four books to show my support as a "local," important since one of the articles in the local paper that highlighted their opening backfired on them as many readers took that article as a criticism of the beloved used bookstore in town.

Anyway, as soon as I returned home, I sent them a pitching letter, if only (I feel) as my duty to the authors I publish. I'll reprint the letter below -- reading it now kinda makes me sigh and think about how pathetic poetry economics are. That is, that I had to insert my own books into the pitch because, bluntly, it's just hard to market any poetry -- whether it's the books I publish or the ones I pen and then are published by others.

Anyway, on the letter, I tried to be as proactive as possible -- I hit the "local" connection, I noted my own support as a purchasing customer, I gave my own ideas for how they might want to feature local authors, I noted a connection between some of my titles and some books they were carrying by Barry Schwabsky, and so on.

Pitch, pitch, pitch. If one's gonna traffic in poetry books, that's just a necessary necessity. It'll be interesting to see if I even get a reply. But with fingers crossed, here's the letter:

Dear Sir and Madam,

As a local resident of St. Helena, I was pleased to hear of your new store (and in fact stopped by earlier today to buy some books).

I thought I’d write in case you may be interested in stocking some of the titles I publish through Meritage Press which, as you can see by our address, is a local publisher. Meritage Press was set up in 2001 so we don’t have that many titles yet, and I have gone ahead and attached the press releases for the handful of books that we’ve managed to release. In particular, I draw your attention to two poetry books (including the first book) by Barry Schwabsky, of whom you may know since you stock Artforum (where he is international reviews art editor) and Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting (Phaidon) (for which he wrote the Introduction).

As I am also a poet in addition to being a publisher, I’m also enclosing three flyers for my three recent poetry collections, in case you are interested in carring them. (Hmmmm…perhaps you would consider a book shelf devoted to “local authors” – maybe even have a reading by a group of local authors to inaugurate your opening here…?)

All the books that I publish, as well as those poetry books I’ve written and had published by other publishers, are distributed by Small Press Distribution in Berkeley (www.spdbooks.org). However, as a publisher, I also am able to sell directly to bookstores (of my published books as well as my own titles) with the usual wholesaler discount.

Enclosed is my card in case my query is of interest. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions (I live only 10 minutes away from your store).

All Best,

Eileen R. Tabios
Publisher, Meritage Press


for including my ENGLISH brick in his

Notable Books (Summer 2005)

Apparently Charles is not just using my book as a doorstop!

Monday, June 06, 2005


I'm lousy at replying to "tags" except to jerk moi head around to see who's making me squeal, Who me? But, okay, this time: Guillermo passed this on to me, so here's my response below, which I apologetically dedicate to Lance Philips as I missed his deadline for participating in his wonderful project, "Here Comes Everybody."

1. Total number of books I’ve owned

None. I've read many books. And there are tons reclining on moi shelves. But though paper and binding and glue and ink can be owned, I don't think books can be "owned." They're gifts. Okay -- that's the spirited spiritual answer. Next.

2. Last book I bought
Checked the Shopping Blog to realize it's four books which must be mentioned as they were all bought at the same time:

COTTAGE FOR SALE, MUST BE MOVED, memoir by Kate Whouley
STANDING BY WORDS, essays by Wendell Berry
AN UNFINISHED MARRIAGE, memoir by Joan Anderson
THE ACCIDENTAL CONNOISSEUR, memoir by Lawrence Osborne.

I've been reading a lot of memoirs -- and specifically memoirs relating to wine, such as the Osborne book -- in lackadaisical preparation for my own memoir someday re wine country living. Just once before I die, I'd like to write a book that's a commercial and not just aesthetic (wink) success. Hence, the genre of wine country memoirs from around the world.

3. Last book I read

I just finished A GOOD YEAR, a novel based in Provence by Peter Mayle, which I was reading back-and-forth with the still half-finished poetry/essay collection PLAINWATER and the just-finished poetry/essay collection GLASS, IRONY AND GOD, both by Anne Carson.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me

RADIANT SILHOUETTE by John Yau -- I first read "Conversation at Midnight" in American Poetry Review. That poem made me check out John's book RADIANT SILHOUETTE ....and then ALL of his books. John's poems were a revelation to me -- his diction made me pay attention for the first time to a poem's texture and would come to lead me away from storytelling as the only base for poetry. I was also delighted that John's books include not just poetry but art criticism -- he does both so well, which is why another book that means a lot to me is

THE UNITED STATES OF JASPER JOHNS by John Yau. I can say so many wonderful things about this book. Suffice it to say that this book proves that close reading and personal subjectivity need not clash to form a binary. That freed and unleashed intelligence by John later would come to inspire me (though I believe I exercised more "freedom" than "intelligence") when I wrote MY ROMANCE (and probably BEHIND THE BLUE CANVAS) as I waxed poetic (as in licentious license) on the significances (for me) of various forms of visual art.

SELECTED POEMS AND NEW by Jose Garcia Villa (Bookmark's Filipino Literary Classics). This so moved me that when I discovered Villa's works were out of print outside of the Philippines, I would come to edit a recovery project to reintroduce his lovely poems to many readers as well as just make those poems accessible again: THE ANCHORED ANGEL: SELECTED WRITINGS BY J0SE GARCIA VILLA (winner of a PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles National Literary Award, which I mention as a testament to the power of Villa's poems) Here's a sample


In my desire to be Nude
I clothed myself in fire:--
Burned down my walls, my roof,
Burned all these down.

Emerged myself supremely lean
Unsheathed like a holy knife.
With only His Hand to find
To hold me beyond annul.

And found Him found Him found Him
Found the Hand to hold me up!
He held me like a burning poem
And waved me all over the world.

Next, a circa 1960s version of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITTANICA and Homer's THE ODYSSEY and THE ILIAD (okay, that's six books but who's counting) would finish the list. From my first ten years in the Philippines -- there didn't seem, in my childhood memory, that many books that I could buy back there in Baguio City. But my parents made sure that these books were featured prominently in the living room bookshelf. In my memory, these were the only books in the house and I reread each three several times, often without understanding. I just liked reading -- the tactility of turning each page.

5. Which five bloggers am I passing this to?

Not five. Just to any blogger that might want to engage these questions.


So of course it's always nice to know the identity of Moi Peeps -- so many of you are you now at, huh, I just forgot -- was it 9 billion something? Okay, let's make it 10 billion Peeps as of now for the rounding factor.

Anyway, so apparently, some people in the country are laughing at your Chatelaine. One of them revealed himself after my Saturday post as regards my botched attempts to grow lettuce. Well: Hmpf!

Still, this does give me the opportunity to say hi to that Country Peep: Chris de Rham....who happens to be a fabulous photographer! Check him out here

So those lovely photos make you, Chris, a Keeper-Peeper!


Reading yourself
into a stranger’s poem

for a “hidden track”
--from "Rapunzel's Deaf Eyes"

Ron Silliman writes a post today that I don't just recommend but also something I love (yes, love) for getting right in the heart of my poetic concerns (if you will). Here's an excerpt (boldface below my emphasis):

I’ve gone on here before about the history of poetry & it’s relationship socially to trobar clus, the work that the troubadour poets wrote for one another, that writing which demands a full engagement on the part of its readers. With the rise of fiction & the novel (let alone later forms, as disparate as cinema & pop music), trobar clus became that part of poetry that would not/could not be expropriated by other forms. It makes up most poetry today, and virtually all of any poetry that actually lasts, say, a century or more in time.

And it's worth reading Ron's other writings on "trobar clus" here.

Ron's post also resonates for me, coming so closely on my Friday (June 3--scroll below) post where I present Ali Erkan Koprulu's reading of one of my poems, "Rapunzel's Deaf Eyes." Candidly, I initially was uncomfortable with Ali's reading -- I thought it a tad too anthropological. It was a sort of brief internal challenge to me to accept Ali's point-of-view because it made me (re-)consider: what exactly is wrong with anthropological reads of poems anyway - especially when that POV is just a starting point for locating the reader's self as s/he begins to read? Particularly when what happened between Ali and poem is what I, as a poet, long for in any reader: a devoted engagement.

With that devotion, Ali's read became like a poem in how his read led him beyond his initial point, his intention of what to say, that had to do with his consideration of my having been birthed in the Philippines. (The poem, too, often leads the poet beyond any initial intention that may have made that poet pick up the pen to write.) So that, paradoxically, Ali's reading did end up being about me: I may not have intended to address war when I wrote "Rapunzel's Deaf Eyes," but when Ali says in his read of my poem that "A country at war will have scars, which will last forever" he is talking about me. For I do trace (many of) my choices in diction and syntax directly back to the U.S. invasion of the Philiippines more than a hundred years ago.

So thanks again, Ali...and Ron.

P.S. As regards some comments in his blog about Ron's post, wanna chime up to say that Abstraction is not a synonym for Meaninglessness. And it seems to me that Ron didn't discuss the meaning of the subject poem because the meaning of a poem can differ per reader...just as a two viewers might see respectively a horizon or the edge of a wall in a painting featuring simply a horizontal brush stroke.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Gracias and Salamat to Edwin Lozada, fabulous poet in Spanish and English, for featuring my poems in the just-released Winter 04-05 issue of Literary Well/Pozo Literario. As its editor, Ed is very generous in featuring selections from my three most recent poetry collections -- click here. I also appreciate what Ed is doing -- his own grassroots effort to feature various artists/poets.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


How hard can it be to grow lettuce! You stick the baby lettuce plant the size of your fist into the ground, watch it become a more solid head, pluck out the whole thing and wash and clean and tear into bite-able pieces and you're done. That, Dear Peeps, is the recipe for making lettuce salad -- garnish as you will, of course.

So this morning, I try once more to emulate Martha Stewart, traipsing down the mountain to my vegetable garden. First, I harvest the largest bounty of strawberries to date -- good. Sure, it's only ten strawberries, each the size of my thumbnail but at least I got to them before Felix or the birds -- that's something!

Next, I turn moi attention to the lettuce bed. I pluck out the lone lettuce whose centerleaf grew into a quasi-limb as tall as I am, and toss it over my spanking-new stone fence. Then I turn my attention to those which didn't overgrow. I am able to pluck out four lettuce heads, which I cradle in moi arms as I bring them to the kitchen. I do the above recipe. I garnish with shrimp and garbanzo beans before tossing the whole thing in a light champagne vinaigrette sauce (the latter store-bought, I admit, but there's only so much natural lifestyle I can take). I place bowl of salad in front of my hubby. He eats the first forkful, then immediately spits it out.

"What?" I say.

"Taste," he say. Moi tastes. Shit -- those leaves taste like bitter bark. Like I"m in the lost tribe of Israel recently departed from Egypt.

So now I know: a lettuce doesn't have to grow a five-foot tower to have been in the ground for too long. Okay, Martha Stewart, I bow to you! Who'da thunk country living can be so ... complicated.


I: You see? It didn't matter.

Philip: What do you mean?

I: You should have let me chauffeur you around anyway.

Philip: You couldn't promise my safety if you were behind the wheel.

I: But you're dead anyway.

Philip: I understand. You simply miss me.

Friday, June 03, 2005


Ali Erkan Koprulu is a student of poet-professor Thomas Fink. Ali recently wrote a paper on a poem from my ENGLISH brick. Ali's response to my poem "Rapunzel's Deaf Eyes" shows why I consider poems (rather, all art) to be potential doorways into new experiences not necessarily anticipated by the makers of such poems and art. In part, this is why I would never presume to claim that I can capture 100% of what my poems are about just because I'm their author. I certainly had no intention of addressing war(s) whilst penning the poem. But I'm glad that the poem made Ali think about war's implications. So, here is Ali's essay (thank you very much for the devoted reading), and beneath it the subject poem:

by Ali Erkan Koprulu

In this piece of writing, I am going to invade a part of Eileen R. Tabios’ world. She was born in the Philippines, but she has lived in the United States for the last thirty years. The Philippines is a country marked by violence and conflicts which influenced Tabios’s writing. One of Tabios’s works, which may confirm such a statement, is the poem “Rapunzel’s Deaf Eyes.” In this poem, one can feel the dark side of war and its consequences for the people who are involved in it.

In a period of war, one cannot talk about the violence and death that surrounds him or her. The title “Rapunzel’s Deaf Eyes” is a reminder of such a situation. One can see and feel the horror of war, but one cannot express it. All the horrible things, such as people dying and starving can be seen, but have to be kept locked inside one’s eyes and one’s mind. As Tabios expresses, “I live in a turret now / No stairs, no hair.” One feels isolated, powerless and unreachable in the middle of a war zone.

Pain and suffering often make people think about the world in which they are living and make them think about what kind of world they want to be part of in the future, “ Reading yourself / into a stranger’s poem / for a “hidden track”/ lying.” The word “track” can be understood as one’s path into “yourself.” Such a reflection about the world makes people change as the words “stranger’s poem” suggest. One no longer sees life the same way it was before war. Living life in a society where violence and death is part of one’s day makes life sour as in “beneath lemonade days.” Life is no longer fun and happy.

In a period of war confusion and distress are everywhere. Violence comes from those who are fighting to protect and from those who want to dominate. Some countries, which are still under a regime of dominance, may envy a country that is fighting for freedom. But, on the other hand, those who are fighting to free them are also fighting for other personal interests too. “Envied by all / except their owner/ from looking elsewhere.” The word “owner” implies possession and dominance which are the primary reasons to take a country to war. The citizens of a country in war are usually the ones who pay the highest price of war. Sometimes, they pay it with their own lives as Tabios suggests in the following words, “bottles die/ in the cellar/ meat withers/ in the freezer”. People are nothing else but pieces of “meat,” human flesh, which due to the huge numbers of bodies are piled up as “bottles” one on top of the other, without respect for those who are gone.

A country at war will have scars, which will last forever. The consequences of war will be present in the lives of the citizens for generations to come. Tabios calls people’s attention to the consequences of war on children and parents, “children and spouses/ lose innocence.” The violence of war makes children and parents grow up faster and lose their natural happiness, which will be replaced with fear and uncertainties about life and the world. But, one can see that despite all the problems that war brings, Tabios sends a message of hope for a better future; “ me of something / the rumors profess / is called “light”; the word light implies that there is still hope and faith in mankind and in society, and that no matter what, one can still be happy.

“Rapunzel’s Deaf Eyes” is a poem which calls one’s attention to the horrors of war and its consequences for those people involved in it. It is a positive message to remind people of the importance of freedom and love in a world full of violence and conflicts.


Rapunzel’s Deaf Eyes

I live in a turret now
No stairs, no hair


Reading yourself
into a stranger’s poem

for a “hidden track”

beneath lemonade days
envied by all

except their owner
From looking elsewhere

bottles die
in the cellar

meat withers
in the freezer

children and spouses
lose innocence

Only the moon
remains to write

me of something
the rumors profess

is called “light”

Thursday, June 02, 2005


"Since reading 'Max Tivoli,' I've been on the lookout for withered old men in swaddling clothes who can tell me something about life and love,"
--Sean Finney in the SF Chronicle

In the past couple of days, I've been looking over the first proofs for the book Meritage Press will publish this fall, Sean Finney's first poetry collection THE OBEDIENT DOOR. It's a beyoooot! I am so happy to be publishing it. Here's a sample:

Unfinished Song

I dreamed about a song
and its promise to be you
as you sang with
many pennies, as you
said sunset is
the flowered sky.
I am keeping November in my collar.

(Print the film as soon as you can.)

Cassette tape hopes
in Harvard Square.
How is the song carried?
Music . . . the door
for brisk reunions.

(Consistent menus over time)

Pie is a sensation
groped right away.
We sing the munificent
loss in our handbags,
answers to hurt the divan,
sensible champagne.
Claw out a fashionable
tent for reunions.

You'd like onion soup to perfume everything
and I'd like to wear it. So create the bowls.
They'll feel unknown,
rigged from yarn to keen
your birthday.

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