Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Last weekend, we took our annual orchid-spotting hike (can't tell you where, sorry) and were happy to see that the small colony of ladyslippers is healthy: the number of flowering plants has probably doubled in the past five years, and we couldn't even count the new, smaller plants. Very nice. Here (below) is a close-up:
At the sunny end of the trail, I was disappointed to see that all the raspberries had been mowed down--a 20-foot swathe of bare ground remained, with tractor treads still marking the soil. Though new berry canes were springing up all over, it'll be a few years before they come close to reclaiming their territory (if they're left alone). It was nice, though, to see a few wild blueberries flowering (below):
We're having a cold snap tonight, after a week of awesome weather. I photographed the irises late this afternoon, after the rain had let up, and will try to post a photo tomorrow.

Monday, May 19, 2008


My sincere thanks go out to everyone who helped to spread the word about the Robin Becker Chapbook Prize. The (presumably) last manuscripts came in today by mail with 5/15 postmarks--it's possible, I guess, that something from oh, I don't know, Alaska might trickle in tomorrow, but the response has been great: 62 manuscripts came in (63, actually, but one was withdrawn, having been accepted elsewhere) (congrats again).
* * *
We're having a cool, damp spring. The laundry room windowsills are jammed with seedlings that I'm reluctant to set out--morning glories, thunbergia vines, hot peppers--because I'm afraid they'll languish in the cold. I haven't even started basil seeds. At this point, I'm just going to buy some plants once we're into consistently warm weather.
* * *
Congrats to Steve Fellner and Daniel Hall, cowinners of the Thom Gunn Award in Poetry for Blind Date with Cavafy (Marsh Hawk Press) and Under Sleep (Chicago), and to Joan Larkin, who won the Audre Lorde Award for My Body (Hanging Loose).

[photo: "Lamp blossom," 5/11/08]

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Three or Four Shades of Blues"

I feel so lucky to own a signed copy of this chapbook. It's a wonderful read, and one of the best chaps published by State Street Press (in 1992!). Here's a sample poem:

Three or Four Shades of Blues

These days in Europe no one is safe.
The terrorist who works at the newsstand
will tell you his country’s government
is like a jazz band that improvises badly
and too often. His accomplice will say
the Prado museum is not a good shelter:
if someone walks in with a saxophone full
of explosives, Guernica will burn again.
He has figured out what it will take
to blow up the canvas, to bring down
every building in Madrid. The streets
will swallow you like night rain.
These days the European rain falls
through the roofs of the jazz clubs,
but no one seems to notice: no one leaves
before the last note of Cryin’ Blues is
dead and the last wine glass is broken.
Then they all go out for walks, thinking
that the streets are only streets. They
pass the museum and make plans to go in
someday. A woman says she’s well acquainted
with an architect who assures her that
those walls will outlive every jazz musician
in the continent. One of them overhears
this and says he’s not convinced.
He wants to hock his five trombones and
move to Mexico before the next night rain.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

garden pics

The sweet woodruff is in full bloom.
Rau rom--a.k.a. "Vietnamese coriander"--a great substitute.
Tricolor sage.
White violet.
Lily of the valley. Incredible scent. You'd never expect it to contain fatal poison, muahahaha.

garden pics [2]

Sempervivum ("hens & chicks").
I can't remember the name of this ground cover.
Dwarf iris.
More iris.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Now reading for the 2008 Keystone Chap

The submission period is now open for the 2008 Keystone Chapbook Award (follow link for complete guidelines). This year's judge is G. C. Waldrep!

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I'm off to Lycoming for Baccalaureate, and then back up to campus tomorrow for graduation. Oh, we like sheep. . .

Friday, May 02, 2008

"hiding the blind spot"


Two days, the eye in the horse's head worked
but with a granular vision. A warning nicker, a turn,

she would knock her cheekbone into the stall door,
bursting the barely mended eye of orbit waters,

half-full, half-empty sight. That flood
on top of which many Edens had floated--

like the tree of radish-small apples, like the grass--
had sprung from the deep channels of the brain

and meandering up would pool in the blank socket
to come into light through the luminous, black pupil.

When there's nothing to do but start over, she
curves ingeniously toward the view, sidling

into the world's crabbed dogs and snapping flags,
hiding the blind spot: what isn't, what can't be.

: Beth Thomas, in Seneca Review (fall 2005)