Sunday, November 20, 2011



As in here again but also my aching--
last week at work as I bent repeatedly
picking up trash others had abandoned
on the receiving area floor, I felt something pop
and haven't been right since. This is not
a complaint. I'm pushing through, pushing on,
though it hurts to stand, hurts to sit, hurts
to maneuver down the stairs one at a time
like some octogenarian. Putting on socks
in the morning's an ordeal. I can't kneel
at work to scan the bottom shelves when
taking inventory. Friday, buoyed by pain
relievers and caffeine, I knelt to retrieve
an ink cartridge for a customer and burst
out a yelp like a kicked dog. Apologized.
Handed the cartridge up to her and waved
her to the register across the store, thinking
Can't stay here, thinking How the hell
do I get up? This is not
where I thought I'd be, I said to Marjorie
after the poetry reading on Tuesday, my
first chance in months to attend language
joyfully, publicly, finally free of the shame
of not getting that job, yes, but also
and more importantly of dreading
the what-are-you-working-on chitchat
unavoidable when meeting old friends
who (still) teach. And she agreed, of course
it's odd for us all to look around, look
back, think How on earth? This is not
the end of the world, to be employed
when so many are not, though the pay's
obscenely low--fully half this month's
wages are going to my mechanic to keep
my 15-year-old car roadworthy, and though
the second bill was a shocker (the check
engine light flashing the very day after
the Saturn passed inspection, following
two hundred dollars' worth of repairs),
and though I moaned You guys are killing
me here as I wrote out two more post-dated
checks, handing over half of what
I haven't yet earned, of course I remembered
to thank him for a job well done.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Printing & folding & mailing & designing but mostly I'm at work

And so go the days. I'm past the midpoint of an eight-day workweek and yes, I'm tired. Tired, tired. Not in the sense of the mental exhaustion that accompanied teaching, but in the rubber-to-the-road sense, the don't-cross-the-store-without-something-in-hand-because-there's-always-more-to-do-than-anyone-can-accomplish sense, the yes-I'm-happy-to-discuss-your-business-card-design-setup-while-your-screaming-child-throws-saliva-sodden-Fruit-Loops-at-me-and-knocks-everything-from-the-counter sense. And thank you for letting us serve your copy and print needs. And do come again.

Meanwhile, I have a micropress to run. My god, I'm so grateful for the huge response we've had over the past year. It may not be huge by anyone else's standards, but it definitely set me months behind. I'm used to doing all this by myself, but now there's so much more of it to do. Was it a mistake to take on so many titles and commit to keeping 90% of them in print? I still don't think so, but I've realized that these delays have probably left more than a few folks bewildered or even pissed off. I'm trying, I'm really trying, to catch up.

I think I have the design figured out for Lou's chapbook--sending a mock-up to the author tonight. And printing out more page sets of Ava's chapbook, in hopes of getting copies I owe out by mid-week. And working on assembling Daniel's copies, also to send out mid-week. And trying to get this fresh batch of Catherine's chap packaged up to go into the mail by Tuesday. And I need to buy paper to finish a fresh set of copies for Boyer. And Pedro's page sets need to be tied.

And my feet hurt. And I'm sorry to have missed the Small Press Festival in Pittsburgh this year. Sigh.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Fair days

The fair days of fall are here--no rain forecast for the next few days at least--and I'm stuck this week with a split shift, 12-8, that lets me enjoy neither morning nor evening outside. I'm ready to get back to my 7-3: as much as I hate getting up at 5 (okay, more like 5:30 after I hit the snooze button once or twice), I love coming home in mid-afternoon and feeling like there's something left of the day.

The Hoagland reading was as expected: good, but nothing to take away and ponder, no lines ringing in my head, no images that rang with sudden recognition. I'm not being completely fair. It was a good reading. He brought race into the conversation, which is admirable. I'm pretty familiar with several of his books, so wasn't expecting to be too surprised. He's a lovely person. I hear his Q&A went very well. In the end, I just didn't feel that the poems went far enough. Maybe that's an unfair expectation. I'm just sayin'.

Must rush to shower and stop at the post office to mail four chapbooks. I have about a dozen more of Catherine Staples' chapbook ready to mail and hope I can get those out tomorrow. Tonight, assembling more covers of Daniel Terry's Days of Dark Miracles and thinking about the cover design of Louis McKee's forthcoming chap.

This is all I do.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

In haste--

Managed to schedule the day off so I could attend Tony Hoagland's reading at Bucknell tonight. It starts in an hour--ack!--and we haven't had dinner yet.

Met with my friend Paula H to talk about a possible logo design for Seven Kitchens Press. I've already seen some good designs from someone who responded to my FB post last week. Paula's going to try a different angle. Looking forward to seeing what she comes up with.

Assembled 20 chapbooks today, mostly copies of Mary Meriam's The Poet's Zodiac, which catches me up with those orders (assuming I can get them into the mail tomorrow). A steady, busy day, punctuated now and then by sunshine. I hear tomorrow's going to be beautiful.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The last morel

Discovered this in the garden while trying to get a good photo of the columbines blooming under the white pines--too late in the evening for good light, and taken with my phone's camera to boot, but here's what may be the last morel of this bountiful crop:
(Sorry it's blurry.)

Saturday, April 30, 2011


I'm completely in love with Ed Madden's new book of poems, Prodigal: Variations (from Lethe Press), and have been reading it slowly, one or two poems a day, since it arrived earlier this week. Full disclosure: I published Ed's chapbook, Nest, in a limited edition of 49 copies last summer. Some of those poems are here, but it's not for their familiarity that I'm so drawn to this book. It's simply gorgeous: attentive to detail, personal yet mythical, each poem draws me in quietly but with a sure-footed lyrical eye and ear. A gorgeous collection. Go read this book.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

apathy spire

Sadie's wet nose woke me at 5:30 this morning. I thought it was Saturday evening as I got up, dressed, and headed downstairs to take her for a walk. Apparently, I slept straight through yesterday evening after coming home from work. Mehh, rest is what the body needs sometimes.

There were two text messages from my sister (I carry my cell phone and keep the camera setting on--you never know what you'll see: an egret in the creek, curling birch bark against the light, petals on a wet black bough. . .): 1) "Marm has cling on letters to the kitchen window that state HAPPY EASTER! (the ! can be substituted for an i)" and 2) "Work your magic and I'll make it happen."

I know there are anagram generators out there, but I like trying the old school method. First to mind was a pithy spree, which I rather like for its sound, even if it is a bit lispy. Then I arrived at apathy spire and decided I could do no better on this easter Sunday, averse as I am to the mob of christians singing joy, joy, joy every year on this day in the park where Sadie takes her dumps.

But no one else was in the ark--err, park this morning as we walked our usual route, the rain misting gently, the streets empty for now, not a drunk Bucknell student in sight. Sadie nosed about, sometimes gently tugging on the leash if I took too long trying to focus the camera phone. A compact digital cam sounds nice, but there'd still be the tugging. How many dog-walking photographers do you know? (I can think of one, Jeff Oaks, whose joyful play with Bailey when I visited last fall thawed my unreadiness at believing there'd ever be a new dog in my life whom I loved as much as our original Sadie, and whose photos from their--his and Bailey's--morning walks I always look forward to seeing on Facebook.)

I do have a great digital cam, a Canon Power Shot S2. It's about five years old, I think, and it's the cam that finally seduced me away from David's old Canon with all the wonderful lenses, tripods, and accessories (which I was happy to pass along to my friend Gretchen last year). I enjoyed working in the darkroom at Bucknell when I taught there and dabbled with the photo club, but for me, digital wins because (a) it's cheaper, (b) the satisfaction (or chagrin, depending) is pretty much immediate, and (c) I still don't know what happens, ultimately, to all those photo processing chemicals, some of which I fear might end up in the river.

The Canon has a decent macro option, and I find that my preference in photography is for extreme close-up shots of very small objects (or portions thereof) and also, though unrelated, for images that play with shadows and low-light subjects.

So once in a while I'll drag the camera along on Sadie's walks, but mainly I rely on the phone's built-in cam. This morning I took four shots (three on purpose--the fourth was a crosswalk stripe, totally blurred and of no interest):

Something about the daffodils in such dim light appealed to me, as if they themselves were a light source that was just waking up. (As I said, I'm drawn to shadows.)

This one's blurred by happy accident (Sadie's leash tug); I think it nicely captures the early-morning, lightly-raining, not-quite-wakeful walk back home.

This one is taken from our back yard; I cropped out the neighbor's house at the end of the alley. A bit of moon through the budding crabapple.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I'm back. I've missed you, too. After juggling more plates than I could manage, I confess it was a small relief to hear several crash and splinter around me. Still picking and sorting.

Winter was a reminder that, when the show and pizzazz of topside greenery & finery, of fancy & ambition, are lopped by life's cold shears, it's always possible to return to one's working class roots. And so I took a retail job in December, grateful to have gotten an interview, then another, then an offer. I'm working at Staples in Selinsgrove, about a 15-minute drive from home. There's a Staples in Lewisburg, where we live, but they didn't offer me an interview (phhhtt!).

I've been working my ass off. Learning something every day, mainly about the myriad nuances of the copy & print world and the machines we use at the store, though once in a while I make a brief but sincere human connection with a customer, many who say things like "I could sense that you were deeper." Than what? (Don't answer this, please.)

And the pay, as many of you must know, is staggeringly, mind-blowingly insufficient. I won't make  other comparisons between my former life in academia to my current work week, except to say I thought that, with no essays to grade, I'd be writing more.

On the plus side, I have rocketed to my current level of part-time Copy Center Associate, which is a promotion (of sorts) over the level at which I was hired. I was even selected Associate of the Month for February. In short, ladies and gents, I am making lemonade. So. Much. Lemonade.

* * * * * * *

I also thought I'd somehow get ahead of the production schedule over at Seven Kitchens. Uhhh, no. I'm further behind than ever; it's embarassing. Growing pains of a three-year-old with too-big ambitions? Maybe. Somewhat. But I'm in love with those ambitions (a new series for writers of color; a no-fee open reading period; our long-overdue anthology series; working with co-editors TK and EC).

Today at the store I met a young artist who needed to print some work for his portfolio. I was totally blown away by his work--fresh, creative, very insightful, very professional designs. I wished I'd had the budget to hire the guy right on the spot! (Someday, maybe, if I'm lucky and the press continues to grow. . .) Besides, I'm already lucky to have worked with some madly talented artists on our chapbook designs. I really do count my blessings in that regard.

So if you're wondering what's going on at the press, I'm still here. Our production schedule is seriously out of whack, but I hope to get caught up by the end of summer. How can I help, you ask? Aww, thanks. As soon as I have a couple of hours and a clearer mind, I need to write out a call for volunteers (interns) (whatever you want to call yourselves). I could use help in about a dozen areas--interviewing our authors, updating the Word Press site, researching libraries and other collections,  designing chapbook covers, trimming and folding pages, sewing/tying/assembling chapbooks, preparing review copies for mailing--these are just a few off the top of my head. And, of course, you can always buy our chapbooks; they make great gifts for the readers in your life--and shipping is free during National Poetry Month.

* * * * * * *

In which I'm sort of participating, but in a very low-key manner (as opposed to last year's write-and-post-a-poem-each-day-in-April NaPoWriMo challenge madness). I'm re-reading all of our Seven Kitchens chapbooks, one each day, in the order that they were published, and selecting one line from each to work into a poem. It's not going all that well, partly because I'm trying to catch up with other, more pressing tasks each evening when I get home from work, and partly because I just feel so tired a lot of the time. But even if I can't write a poem a day, I'm determined to work through the sequence and see what comes of it.

On a somewhat related note (I'll just toss this out there), is anyone interested in writing a collaborative poem or two? Bearing in mind that my writing schedule is *very* spotty right now? Hit me up; let's talk about it.