Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The news today

I went to bed late last night before 1 a.m., before it was absolutely clear that there was no path to save us from a Trump presidency, though in my heavy heart I knew. Woke this morning at 6:30 to kiss my partner, wish him a safe day. Fell back into the covers and fitful sleep. 

So many friends have posted eloquently. Others just don't seem to understand the full gravity of what has been done to this nation. Others, abroad, are saying Wake up to the America we've always known: a sobering poke at our many levels of privilege. Another friend posted, urging us to use our privilege as leverage wherever we can to fight (again, but harder) injustice.

I work in retail. It barely pays the bills. I do not have the privilege of a comfortable income. I spend a large portion of my off hours running Seven Kitchens Press from my dining table, publishing work by a variety of poets, many of them queer. The press budget usually hovers somewhere around a hundred dollars: enough to make and mail out chapbooks at a measured pace--not as quickly as I'd like to, but steadily, steadily, for the past ten years. Effective immediately, I've decided to donate 10% of all chapbook sales to The Trevor Project. It's not much, but I can get by and I urgently feel the need to put some money behind my convictions. 

If you are in a position to do the same, please select a worthy cause that reflects your values and support them now. These next four years are going to hurt something awful.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Karin Gottshall | Almanac for the Sleepless

Almanac for the Sleepless: poems by Karin Gottshall (dancing girl press, 2012). Saddle-stapled chapbook, unpaginated (21 pages).

[I was at Vermont College with Karin a thousand thousand years ago, though she may count the time in mere decades. That said, we haven't really kept up and I consider this to be an objective reading of her chapbook.]

Karin's earlier chapbook, Flood Letters (Argos Books, 2011), is so gorgeous that I eagerly bought this one when I saw it in Kristy Bowen's catalog. (I'm a big fan of both presses.) I didn't really get into this one at first, but I kept it around, thinking, maybe it's me. The poems just felt too prosey and seemed to lack the surprising images, turns of language, and intensity that make Flood Letters so, so good. So I set this one down, started it again, set it aside again, and just the other day picked it up to finish.

And what a finish: the last two poems, "The Victorian Age" and "The Lake of the Valley," just vibrate with energy. The first buzzes with surprise in its accretion of like and unlike images and feels relentless and inevitable, yet completely original. "The Lake of the Valley" has a relentless quality, as well, but it's of the can't-look-away variety (a girl is drawing water from a well as a dam is opened to flood the valley) and concludes with a gorgeous, haunting image of girl suspended over well: gravity itself reversed, dreamlike and terrible/beautiful.

The other poems are interesting enough--I don't want to suggest less--but they lack, for me, the energy and intensity of these two, which absolutely make the chapbook worth reading (and I hope you do read it). I'm looking forward to finding more of Karin's work.

[rebound with orange cord]

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Nature break

White Oak estimated to be 550 years old, one of the "Three Sisters" at Sugarcreek Metropark near Bellbrook, Ohio. We had a nice long trail walk there today.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Quick check-in

Coffee and chapbooking and work, work, work. I found a typo at the last possible moment in JS's chapbook, so naturally I took apart the copies I'd already made and replaced the pages with corrected sheets. Which has delayed sending out orders because I'm always at my day job. Who was it that said No good deed goes unpunished? (My dad said it a few times.)

Two nights ago I chopped up the tomato plant, unthreaded it from the balcony, and tossed the branches into the brush below and behind our apartment building. Infested with mealybugs, it had pretty much stopped producing, and I know from experience that no matter how thoroughly I clean any plants or cuttings as I bring them inside this month, they'll likely end up with the same critter infestation.

I wanted to start new arugula seeds and maybe some other greens, see what kind of fall crop I can grow on the balcony. Some of the plantings did well; others languished. It comes down to light: there's just not enough on this side of the building, especially with the treeline so close. That the tomato bore at all was a surprise. But the peppermint cascading from its planter, and the bushy rosemary, hung from a bucket on the outside of the railing, both did quite well, as did the jalapenos. Not much room for any other sun-loving plants, though. I'm going to scale back next spring.

Ack. Time to get ready for the day job--

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Night of the living dead

parasitized hornworm on jalapeno leaf.
Home just before 10 and out to the deck to water plants. My zephyranthes (rain lilies) are really starting to bloom, but it's too dark to get a good photo. Found this critter on a jalapeno leaf and brought it inside to get a closeup. I think I'll call it Sebastian: a parasitized hornworm. All those little white rice-sized bits are wasp eggs, each a dart piercing this poor dude. They're feeding on the caterpillar. I imagine the larvae swimming through his internal goo to emerge from his eyes or forehead, but I really don't know the specifics. Nature can be such good, creepy fun.

I saw on Facebook this morning that Edward Albee has died (yesterday). This makes me so sad: he was such a brilliant writer. I enrolled in his playwriting course years ago at the University of Houston, and used to see Mr. Albee on campus--he was always friendly, genial, warmly encouraging of my writing (my application portfolio was poems, and when I learned that he had, early on, tried to be a poet, I was pretty smitten by the notion that I, too, might write plays someday). In class, he could be a bit chatty, but who didn't want to hear stories about John Gielgud and Irene Worth in Tiny Alice? I stupidly hoped he might live and write forever.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


An hour and twenty minutes to get home after getting mired in some inexplicable traffic snafu down in Loveland, a sleepy river town that's sold out to monstrous development in the past couple of years. Anyway. I needed to cut through Loveland to get out to my grandmother's old farmhouse, where one surviving cat still lives in the tall weeds and scrub, presumably supplementing its diet on various rodents and birds, but my sister--my dear, huge-hearted sister--insists on driving down the rutted gravel lane to regularly feed the cat. So I tried to get there. Through Loveland. And failed. And my turnaround and attempted rerouting took almost as long as the slow, gluetrappy immersion into the clusterfuck that had one car getting through a green light every two light changes. Oh, god, listen to me, such first world problems, boo hoo; I used to live in Houston, Houston, where a 90-minute commute to cover a scant 8 miles on the freeway was the daily penance for living so close to downtown. Still. I wanted to step out of the car and bash my head open on the nearest limestone outcropping. I do not do traffic well. As long as it's moving, even creeping, I'm fine. But standing still in traffic feels like being stuck in a hot creaky elevator, but the elevator is my spine, or maybe my throat, and I can't breathe, can't relax, hate feeling corralled--

So: Happy 8-month anniversary to my dear Taylor. I've calmed down by listening to some old Indigo Girls CDs and watering the plants out on the patio. Now we can go out to a nice dinner and celebrate.

Oh, yeah: he is driving.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Divorce Suite | Jose Angel Araguz

The Divorce Suite: poems by Jose Angel Araguz (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016). Hand-tied chapbook, 40 pages.

Jose's work just keeps getting better. I was initially surprised to see this chapbook divided into so many sections (4), but they work. And as with the previous chapbooks, I found myself copying lines into my journal to contemplate further ("a fire striking itself alive"), ("He had a swagger talking to me then, as if on a dare to himself"), (about the pale band left when a ring is removed: "I had to wait it out"), ("marriage a thing that can disappear / like salt tossed in a broth"). I'll be re-reading this one for a good while.

[originally posted to Goodreads on August 24, 2016]


Second harvest from the one cayenne plant on the balcony: it's already set about a dozen new green peppers since I picked the first batch of 30 in August; I'm hoping for one more flush of bloom and a final crop to set now that I've "relieved" the plant of all this seed-setting fruit. We'll see. But it's been quite a bountiful reward in return for a simple daily watering. (Cayenne you say hot peppers?)

Also potted up the slip of willow I cut from my sister's tree last month and rooted in a bottle of water --her tree planted three or four years ago from a slip of my own willow back in Lewisburg: clone of a clone of a clone.

Spent most of yesterday printing and folding page sets, then T and I visited Mom and went out to dinner. Nice to take a break. Nice to see them getting along. What I mean is that I'm grateful that my mother sees me happy with my partner, with someone I did not expect to come into my (mid)life.

Working today to get those page sets trimmed and sewn: all for Liz Ahl's chapbook launch on Thursday, with enough left over--I think--to fill remaining orders. Then back to filling out orders for Alison's and Eric's chapbooks, and finishing proof corrections for three of the four Summer Kitchens titles, which are fixing to drop this coming week; the final title will be out as soon as I can.

All chapbooks. All the time. With a smidge of gardening wedged in here and there. As summer rolls inevitably to its close.