Monday, February 26, 2007

Dorset Update

Received notice this a.m. that Sandra Meek of Mt. Berry, GA is the winner of this year's Dorset Prize (Tupelo Press). I'll bet she has fun at AWP.

My ms., Demimonde, was one of 23 semifinalists out of 1,200 submissions. Oh well.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sunday bit

We now have a decorous, little, yellow No Through Street sign on the corner, where the huge rude red Dead End sign was for a short time, only a little while ago. Still, you would be surprised at how many people drive up this hill, only to have to do a U-turn on top. Once, there was even a police pursuit up here, just like the movies. You used to be able to walk over the top of the hill, part of the Orizaba bump, a huge rock that is city owned, but the houses up there encroached, and they say possession is 9/10 of the law. So now it's No Through Street for people too, and when I walk the dog over the hill, we have to come down Orizaba or Jules and walk back up ours.

I'm sure that was fascinating. Not much poetry happening here. As usual, lines pass through my brain, but I don't feel at liberty these days to grab them and write them down.

We may get the house painted, adding another huge bit to what we owe the banks. Well, we've been driving around and looking at colors.

Rain was fierce last night, or so John tells me. I've been sleeping poorly for days and last night was so far gone, I slept right through it. In this caesura of sun I should take out the dog.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Two loud explosive noises that startled me, and then, even louder, a third. But I don't hear any sirens, so I guess it's nothing. There is construction on Grafton, our cross street (all morning the jackhammers were hammering; now it is quiet). I suspect they were just unloading some large delivery there.

The sky is gray and blue, a serious pretty. The way the light is hitting the ocean -- the closer portion a pearly white, the farther part a deeper pewter -- it looks like the container ship that's out there is defying gravity, floating. Yes, I know it is floating, but it looks to be floating on a cloud.

I was at SF State today for a meeting with a student. When I finished my miscellaneous business, the one-way street I was parked on was blocked by a delivery truck. About 15 or so cars were stuck, everyone just waiting. We could see that the shuttle driver behind the truck had called someone, and everyone, like me, must have just figured what is there to do? People were bored, but relatively resigned. No one leaned on a horn.

Speaking of resigned, I got notice in the mail today of another competition where I am a semifinalist.

I'm reading Rebecca Solnit, River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West. I love her writing, how she ties things together, makes you experience the shifts of consciousness that happen, takes you into the mind of an earlier time. I'd like to do as much in my poetry somehow.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


So I'm filling out an application for a scholarship -- yeah, you can guess, I'm sure. And I swear that I read that you need to provide the names and addresses of two people in the writing field who can provide references. This isn't easy for people like me who got their graduate degrees decades ago and who aren't that good at schmoozing. But I got my courage together to write to two people who have been kind to me in the past. One answered immediately; the other took some tracking down. But both said v. nice things, agreed to be references. Okay, now I go to fill out my application and only one name is needed! I have half a mind to put down both anyway! I can't decide. And what could be the harm?

Well, I don't know, but I'm thinking about it.

I'm in a decent frame of mind this morning -- class over and almost a week before the next. I need to start preparing for my other class, my poetry workshop, if indeed there are enough registered for it to happen. And I actually have some editing work coming in tomorrow.

Valentine's Day was good. Lovely lavender roses, champagne, smoked salmon and marscarpone on sourdough toast for dinner, Jon Stewart and old SNL on the TV.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Signs and Wonders

Out this morning with the dog a little later, around 7:00. Clouds a pale pink with underside of taupe, the frivolous and the solemn. As we walked -- without my noticing the transition -- the sky turned a steadfast blue. John's fleece-lined yellow jacket I had borrowed became a redundancy, as did my gloves and white wool beret.

Now it's mid morning, breakfast of sourdough cracked wheat toast with peanut butter, grapefruit juice, and black coffee over, John and dog gone to the studio, I pulled out the yoga mat. I think it's been months since I've done yoga -- I've been so stressed -- and it's stupid, stupid, stupid not to, because it always makes me feel less stressed, optimistic, not yet cured of my winter soul, but better.

Oh yeah, I checked the flower boxes in front of the house. Tulips beginning to push up beneath the violas.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

California Gothic

It's a nice quiet rainy weekend in San Francisco -- well, at least, for me. I've been very involved with the class I'm teaching at SF State in the TPW program. It takes almost all of my time and energy. In between, I try to keep up with po biz -- submitting, applying, and so forth.

We got a lot done today, a lot of little things, like putting up paintings in my office. And, of course we spent quality time with Greta la pooch. We cleaned, we got groceries. What? You want something more exciting here? You want poetry?

Here's an old poem, an old, old poem. How old? It was written when I lived at my first San Francisco address (a totally cool address: 789 Tenth Avenue). We moved from there in 1982. The poem was in my Master's thesis. But it was written on a rainy day, like this.

California Gothic

More rain comes down on streets already slick --
    purple liquids  iridescent greens
ooze, effulgent
    scum, jewels -- cool, radiant, evil ...

Two doors away, medics remove a small white parcel,
    the elderly lady who lived there
who, bird-boned, beak-nosed
    neither spoke or smiled
but only, over and over
    swept her piece of sidewalk.

Sick or dead? you ask, as I enter.
    I don't know, I tell you.
I want to forget her, now that I'm next to
   your dry, warm skin
but the palm fronds sway,
    retreat and beckon --
shadow of a hand trying to get in.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A good evening

Last night was a really good evening here on my high, gray hill. (BTW, someone stole the new and enormous red "Dead End" sign, recently at the foot of the hill. I imagine the sign is decorating some dorm room somewhere.) Well, I came back from class, survivor that I am, and John was home about five minutes later. Over a bottle of 2-Buck-Chuck Shiraz and a baked frozen Trader Joe's pizza, John told me the good news. The SF Opera director, David Gockley is pushing for John's photography, has told "his people" to make the show happen. Oh, it won't happen right away. They need more of the divas represented, they want every opera photographed. (John has photographed principals, chorus, and supers in costume -- gorgeous and unusual detailed portraits that knock you out.) But he's got a virtual guarantee now that it will happen. John has been working on this so long and so hard. It is just wonderful news.

As for me, I've got a bad cold, have used up enough tissues to deforest a small forest. I very rarely get sick, and I'm fairly annoyed that I have. I was planning on going out this morning to distribute fliers for my City College C.E. poetry workshop that starts in March, but I'm probably going to stay in with my green tea and my space heater, the fog outside in the city and inside my head.

Here's an article from the Boston Globe about what eleven poets are reading. What are you reading?