Thursday, December 16, 2010

*Poem: "Blessed"*


"Is Jesus still alive?" my niece whispers to my sister,
unconvinced by the pomp and ribbons
of the decorated tree before us,
o holy night carolers trembling song,
dark-robed minister and his simple good grin.
"He was a good man, and that's
why we celebrate his birthday,"
is my sister's ecumenical reply.
We have talked about this, and agree about
the man, the story, the not believing. 
I am not guilty as this litany assumes,
wasn't born bad, have not gone,
owe no apology to some Great White Father King,
but the congregants recite,
in the glow of electric popcorn balls,
30-watt savior device in the popsicle creche,
their apologies.

My nephew and niece are invited to the menagerie,
handed a small stuffed donkey, plaster lamb
to add to the crowd in attendance at the celluloid babe's cribside,
after the second hymn, second verse, O Little Town tonight.
They don't know the words,
and we are so distracted by the lights and burgundy and
gold on the tree tumbling into our laps
that they almost miss their cue.

Yes, Jaimee', there is a Jesus,
and he lives as surely as Christmas returns,
with or without the snow you missed,
without blame, even without faith,
He fills the pantry for the poor that
the minister says is bare already, only December.
He carries the souls of the suddenly light into the next act.
He lays in the bed of straw, patiently waiting for his attackers
to come with their gifts, to cover the earth in gold,
surround the barn in a cloud of frankincense,
lubricate his small limbs with myrr
for the sleep of
the peacemakers,
for they are blessed.

CAR  12-28-01

Monday, December 6, 2010

*Writer's Block & Therapy*

I've been seeing a therapist for about a month and a half now, due to some issues that I was no longer comfortable boring my friends with. And trust me, I did enough of that this year. So, in that time, and maybe for a while before that, I haven't written one poem. Now, there are times that I say that and go back into my files and find one or two that have somehow leaked out and avoided my conscious memory, almost like they don't count as poems. But that's not
the case now.
            As usual, I had a flood of ideas after the Dodge, and two or three of those became poems, but after that-- just silence. I don't really let these silent times bother me much, because I have learned from experience that I will come around to writing again. I am, however, contemplating the connection between therapy and writing. Is it a drain on my creative resources? Is the break my Muse is taking related more to the holidays than the biweekly sessions with a loving,
receptive sounding board who validates my essential sanity and instincts? Or is it that, because most of my poems are of such a personal nature (hopefully personal in a way that is universally recognizable and accessible), I am afraid that the therapist is my only audience right now, and my best "material" is going to her and not the page?
            There is no doubt that I was in need of an objective ear. I have been fighting depression on and off all year, the kind that won't just go away with a little yoga or Budweiser. And I don't anticipate that this round of therapy will go on forever. But I am a teeny bit anxious about writing. Anxious now to get back on the literary "horse" I rode into this blog on, and so much else in my life that's worthwhile.
            I still trust I will, but for now, I am doing the mechanical work of being a poet. I have sorted through twenty years worth of poetry, cleaned out files and thrown away multiple copies of no use. I managed to complete the application for the New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in poetry, offered only once every two years. I read a few old Christmas poems at a party yesterday (invited to, incidently, NOT forcing myself on an otherwise jolly affair!). I went to a terrific reading on Saturday night hosted by my friend Rebecca Schumejda and featuring three talented Hudson Valley writers: Guy Reed, Glenn Werner,
and Will Nixon. I am still going through the motions.
            I have made some notes for a drawing that I'd like to begin. A sort of expression of my anxiety this year. For the many who don't know, art and writing were neck and neck in my life for many years, before I chose the language route in college. I even earned my Regents diploma in art. I still keep drawing supplies around, but rarely use them. Perhaps this quiet time is the time
to go back to that nonverbal express. Or, a time to restore visual art to my creative options.
            I do trust that I'll be writing again soon. I have projects planned. But this time of year, everything seems to be planned for "after the holidays". I am coasting now. It's OK. I'm still breathing, therapy is going very, very well, and I look forward to seeing more friends over the course of the season. All is well today.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

*Poem: "Devoted"*

There are people devoted to a cause,
a talent, who abandon their homes, families,
go sleepless for weeks perfecting a move,
filling a canvas, and I wonder,
what I’ve ever done for love?
I drew in high school, but it was too easy.
I could see it and copy it, line for line,
and there it was.
I sang in the chorus, too shy for solos.
Ditto for theater, my single performance
the role of a nameless villager
in Fiddler on the Roof,
on stage without glasses to
manage my fright.
I was never an athlete or dancer,
and writing, writing was breathing,
just notes stuffed in bottles
thrown out into the world.
There are no Help Wanteds for poets.

The only thing I can think of,
my desire, my passion, was to get out.
I wanted to make my own home,
come and go as I pleased,
create my own space, not an eggshell in sight.
It's the only thing I've accomplished,
created here among books written by others,
other people’s paintings, movies, CDs.
I have crocheted the odd baby blanket when necessary,
cook avant garde meals depending on my food zone,
but the only thing I've actually completed
was escape into my own
solar system of existence.

And having gotten out, all I remember
is being in, and I can't get that out.
I can't get away from that.

CAR  5-5-10

Thursday, November 11, 2010

*Thanksgiving & Grandma Mi*

In honor of my Grandmother, Marcella Kozloski Mihovilich, on what would have been close to her 100th birthday:

Thanksgiving Too

Her funeral priest spoke in general terms,
but we knew from experience that with two sticks of bread
Grandma made a fire of feast,
a little anise behind her ears,
dear roast held over obedient flame,
soup from the bones of leftover  husbands,
sugared hands that sweetened the meal,
poisoned her own blood,
snow pudding melting in waves of green foam
on the tongue, custard avalanche behind. 
Even small Arnold's slices at her breakfast table
morphed into something better than bread.
At Thanksgiving, perhaps, my mother won,
where my father, with his low drunk tolerance
for sentiment or hors d'oevres,
would rather have spit it out, destroying the evidence.
My mother and her own oven won a little those days.
It was a bird bigger than eagles in this world
that flew from our forks to paradise of stomachs,
then to the sewer's afterlife, and the journey
was olive sweet, cranberry bright, carnival shimmer
in the nut bowl's glory, crackers at rest.
And the bones rested after in a hot bath of boredom,
surrendering to noodles their last bit of light.

CAR  1/5/04

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

*College of Poetry!*

     I have been asked to teach in the spring of 2011 at the College of Poetry in Warwick, NY, a relatively new endeavor that bodes well for the future of poetry in the Hudson Valley and beyond. The current format includes three eight-week courses and one or two guest poets per semester, and past participants have included such heavyweights as Ed Sanders and, upcoming on November 13, Janine Pommy-Vega. I am unbelievably flattered to have my proposal accepted, and I'm probably most excited about being involved in the College so that I'll be able to say I was there "when".
     The board of advisors consists of several poets whose work and personas I have been familiar with for years. William Seaton is a brilliant man, with an intimidating joy that he finds impossible to repress. Steve Hirsch is the longtime publisher of Heavenbone, a spiritually oriented literary magazine whose staying power is a miracle unto itself. Robert Milby is the hardest working man in Hudson Valley poetry, now hosting a mere three open mics every week but who has managed many, many more. He also keeps us up to date on who's birthday and death anniversary it is, and those juxtapositions alone are often intriguing and thought provoking. I am less familiar with the other members: Steve Calitri, Janet Hamill (who will also be offering a course this spring), Lynn Hoins and Mona Toscana, but their devotion to poetry is apparent by their very presence.

    There is no great financial reward at this point for teaching at the College of Poetry, about an hour and a half from my home. There is rarely any financial benefit to poetry, unless one counts the money saved on therapists and bullets. But the satisfaction of participating is what excites me. An entire school devoted to just poetry! Sounds almost illegal, doesn't it?

     I'll be teaching a version of my RANDOM WRITING workshops, which in themselves are intended to show poets where to find inspiration around them. A sort of planned obsolescence. Check out the website for more information, and contact Seaton on how to register at  The College of Poetry is at

Monday, November 1, 2010

*November Inventory*

Over the last couple of months I've taken on a task that some days seems like a cowardly escape from the business of writing poetry, and other days an ingenious excavation into my archives, mining for forgotten gems and possibly a chapbook or two based on themes instead of chronology, my usual format. I have been sorting through 20 years of poetry, year by year, file by file. As disorganized as I
often feel, I have at least been throwing my work into folders each year, and dating each poem as I write it. With open mics and submissions, I've begun to accumulate multiple copies of certain poems, and scant few of others. Tossing these extras is always good; my file drawers are somewhat limited, and since I expect to continue to write for a few years, every inch of storage space counts.

Another goal is to create a master list of titles from which to draw from for chapbooks and readings. I had a large stack of what I thought was a good variety of work, but now seems limited to more recent, and perhaps more currently meaningful pieces. I am assimilating these poems into the general file, and within each file, organizing poems alphabetically by year. The master list will cover
the years 1990 through 2010. Work prior to 1990 I still consider somewhat immature (even for me), but some nuggets may be found there yet. For now, 20 years is quite enough to deal with.

Since my poems have always been very personal, traveling back through the years this way is somewhat unnerving. Some years were more prolific than others. In 2001, I wrote something like 74 poems, most before the Towers fell of course. Although I have always said 9/11 left me speechless, poetry-wise, for months, my files tell a different story. I was up and running a lot more quickly than I recalled. Survival, I guess. I was also hearing too many bad odes to the victims, etc., things you would typically expect poets to write after such an event. That alone must have driven me to try to capture the mood, my reactions in a different way. In part I succeeded.

In 1993, I was in grad school in Albany, and taking a poetry workshop with Judith Johnson. It was a tumultuous year which ended with my moving back to the Hudson Valley and quitting school. In that year, I counted 7 poems that began with the word, "I", a record for even me. It is not my best year of work by a longshot. I moved in part to escape a failed romance, and started one in Albany that was doomed from the start. I worked in a chain bookstore at the Crossgates Mall (with aforementioned doomed object of affection) and barhopped most nights. From what I can see now, little of that material is salvageable, but I'm sure it helped me to stay functional and make the good choice of returning to Ulster County, where many longtime friends were and are. It was an experience and I still go to Albany for the active poetry scene there. Not so much for the romance...

In fact, one of the blessings to come from this sorting is the amazing realization that I can no longer name every lover obliquely referred to in a poem. Ah, thank goodness for that middle age forgetfulness!!

I am in the home stretch of this project. I have 1999 to sort through, alphabetize, discard extras and remove the many staples I must have felt were vitally necessary the last time I tackled this. I have the rough drafts for many poems, and I hope these will help in rewriting. Is this a worthy activity or just a way to hide from the subjects I have yet to explore? Both, I think. I can go back and confirm that I have accomplished something over the years, that I have at times written poems that satisfied me somewhat. It is reassuring at a time when I am a bit tongue-tied. I always have things to say, but not always the balls to do so. And yes, women have balls too, according to Joan Jett. They're just higher up.

I need to find my balls again. Reassessing my past is one way to invigorate my future.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

*Poem: "No Songs, No Packages"*

-On Sylvia Plath's 68th Birth Anniversary

No cake, no candles, no flames to burst open
with the blow of a matronly sigh,
she has long been missing these affairs,
our jelly glass oracle,
frozen in the oily panic of youth
for almost forty winters now. Look,

she has done it again, and made it stick,
since fox let the secret out,
a stench no clove stab can cover. Look!
Even her husband, who bore the weight of
those cold candles, waxy tears stuck
in that moment, even he has gone where
no song is celebrated, skull moldering next to hers,
bright now with forty years grub fest, Daddy in fist, how

could you? After the roar has subsided, look!
No hats, no crepe paper carousel roofs,
the show is over, the exit is out, you can go
with your painted bricks, your sobbing crocodile slaves,
crow feathers pinned to your bosom in black recall.
The ending, unfit as it is, is theirs,
details of potatos and bees and

babes, milk gone sour is
all we have, all we are allowed.
Let us close up the cottage on that fairy scene.
They are happy there, before the fall, hives full,
thatch tight with blue promise.
It is not for repair, for figuring.
It is to close, like a book of bad dreams,
leaving the dreamers to sleep at the last.

CAR 10/27/00

*Happy Birthday, Sylvia Plath*

By my reckoning, Sylvia Plath would have been 78 years old today. It's difficult to imagine her as a mature woman, with a body of such personal work that tends to freeze her in the mind at the age she died, 30 (sadly, far short of the 9 times to die she claimed to have available in "Lady Lazarus"), a young mother, a betrayed wife, a frustrated writer. It is hard to imagine what the rest of her life might have been like, and later work with the added perspective of experience and time.

But time was not something Sylvia had a lot of. Mental illness is still a mystery to medical science, and was that much more in 1963. Recently at the Dodge Poetry Festival, Joseph Millar said, "Your poetry will save you," and I sobbed, knowing how true that has been for me. How much more does that apply to Plath? Without that particular outlet of expression, how many comebacks could Plath have managed after all? Would she have drifted off into the Atlantic as a child, the first near-death experience she describes in "Lady Lazarus" as an accident?

I think poetry saved her for as long as it could. Along with the sadness, there is empowerment and inspiration in her Ariel poems. They often seem to be the words of a sorceress conjuring up a new life, a new world to move into just as soon as this one passes. In "Lady Lazarus", the speaker isn't falling, but rising. She is triumphant over those in her life who would oppress her. It seems to be only in the last few poems, written when she was sick, worn out and grief-stricken, trying to surviving the coldest London winter in decades, that the voice becomes resigned to a terrible, final failure.

For 10 years I hosted an event in Kingston, NY called "The Sylvia Plath Bake-Off". I billed it as perhaps the world's only combination open mic and baked goods contest. I was harassed by Pillsbury for the use of the term "Bake-Off", but oddly never by the Plath estate. No insult was ever intended, and the tone of the readings year after year never failed to be anything but honorable, sympathetic and appreciative of Plath and her work. We had all been too close ourselves, as poets and performers, to "our boy" (Anne Sexton's waggish term for death and the lure of suicide) to be anything but.

I am older now myself than Plath ever was, the same age as her son Nicholas, who committed suicide not long ago. I no longer have the heart for smarmy, eye-catching names for events. Many here in the Hudson Valley remember the Bake-Off fondly, and keep hoping I will revive it. Once a thing has outlived its white heat, it is finished. I may gather poets together again, but in a more gentle manner. Not at the expense of one whose pain draws closer to me and becomes more real every day. Rest in peace, Ms. Plath.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

*For Enid With Love & Home Planet News*

I received in the mail yesterday morning a copy of a new festschrift, or collection of writings dedicated to a scholar of note. For Enid With Love is for Enid Dame, and saying I'm pleased and honored to be included doesn't begin to express my appreciation. Enid Dame and Donald Lev were the founders of Home Planet News, an old-style tabloid that features poetry, short stories and essays. Their politics is apparent in Donald's notes at the beginning of each issue, but they never dominate or infringe on the writings therein. Since 1979 Home Planet News has appeared sporadically throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley, and since Enid's death in 2003, Donald has continued on alone, supported by a faithful group of editors and supporters.

Also included in the festscrift (a word I became familiar with during the time I worked for Norman Levine at Editions, his eclectic used and rare book business based in Boiceville, NY) are such heavyweights as Ed Sanders, Bob Holman and Janine Pomme Vega. Hudson Valley poets include Larry Carr and Matt Spireng, among others. I was familiar with Enid and Donald from hearing them at readings, sporadic chats afterwards, and of course, their publication. I was thoroughly intimidated by both of them, not because they were overbearing or arrogant people, but because they were so thoroughly accomplished in their art. Their average Bohemian style, Enid in her Mexican embroidered dresses, Donald in his suspenders and scuffed totes full of newspapers and chapbooks, belied their finely crafted poetry.

Ultimately, I and a couple other friends hired Enid for a private poetry workshop, not long before she died, as it turned out. Her insight into the art of the midrashic poem, a concept she borrowed from Jewish intellectuals and made her own, was also a peek into her own creative process. I should have recorded it, but only have my usual illegible notes to remember it by. Who knew it would be my last chance to work so intimately with Enid? I regret allowing my shyness to rob me of years of her acquaintance that could have been more productive, for me at least.

But, no one can take her poems away, and For Enid With Love includes a teasing sample of her work. I have only started it, after having of course checked the spelling in my own contribution (looks OK), but I look forward to reading more, seeing what I miss, mourning with the others that this bright talent, warm soul departed much, much too early. For Enid With Love can be purchased directly from the publisher, NYQ Books, at for $16.95.

Meanwhile, Donald struggles financially in these lean times to produce every issue of Home Planet News. This accounts for its even more sporadic appearances throughout the course of the year. A fundraiser is coming up in November at the Bohemian Book Bin in Kingston (, but don't feel compelled to wait that long to subscribe, or contribute. 3 issues are $12, and a special sustaining subscription is just $50 for life. Send your checks to: Home Planet News, PO Box 455, High Falls, NY 12440. Or, catch Donald at one of the many Hudson Valley readings he attends every month. His presence continues to enlighten and delight us, as does Enid's memory.

Friday, October 15, 2010

*Poem: The Universe Moves*

Not worth waking him, I
come back from the bathroom at 2:30 a.m.
full of helpless anxiety, a dream
where, watching the moon pass behind
a cloud in the night sky,
another moon comes into view,
racing more quickly, in another direction.
Soon, the sky full of the other planets
all rolling where they will,
I know it's bad, but there's
been no effect yet on weather, gravity.
I know things have changed for good,
and if it wasn't for the natural disaster
about to befall us, I dream I am
a little curious about how the people will react.
I decide myself, in the dream,
that circumstances are such that
really, this time, nothing can be done.
Across the sky then are lawn gnomes,
teddy bears, but not the actual figures,
outlines, like you'd see at the planetarium
when the man with the laser pointer
is showing you where to find Orion, Ursa Minor.
I decide to do something wonderful
in the time I have left. I wake up
before I find out how the rest of the Earth
takes it. I wake up before I see
how it all turns out. I'm not a big sci-fi fan,
don't look for Orson Welles to tell me, finally,
arm twisted behind his back, that this was
all a dream. I know that, but the tension
remains, a sort of 9/11 feeling
where so much, happiness, assistance,
is out of my power, and sleep
may come back, hangover from
weekend of friends, travel, camping
have been cured by an afternoon nap,
but sleep now, after a vision of
the universe sliding away before my eyes,
ending before the fires, the earthquake,
the terrible riots, is hard to shake.
I am waiting for the last movement
to see what the consequences of
the universe moving might be.
I am waiting, wide awake, to discover,
whether or not I have to go in to work.

CAR 9/6/10

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dodge Redux- Newark 2010

This was at least my 5th visit to the Dodge Poetry Festival, the biannual celebration that's been going on since 1986. Lucky 13 was almost canceled, but rescheduled at the beginning of this year and held in the city of Newark, New Jersey, a drastically different venue from the country scenes of old, but with numerous advantages, and oddities, that total up to a successful poetry event, if not the Dodge I knew and loved.

Newark welcomed poets with open arms. A Shangri-La of sorts was created in the several blocks around the New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts that served as home base. Police barricades kept traffic and other undesirable elements away from visitors, and made strolling other event sights, such as the First Baptist Peddie Memorial Church, the New Jersey Historical Society and the Robert Treat Best Western ballrooms as easy and safe as a walk in the park. However, the constant police presence began to wear on me towards the end. I began to wonder about the everyday state of the area, without the benefit of Newark's Finest. The Newark Police Department, by the way, was nothing but friendly and helpful to festival goers. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

Past festivals for me have been a mix of mediocre academic readings and a few shiny rockets of words that make the whole event worth enduring. I didn’t see any rockets this time, nor did I suffer through the expected lows. New discoveries for me included Joseph Millar, a fellow phone company escapee turned poet, and the Dickman twins, Michael and Matthew, young phenoms of the poetry world based out of Portland, Oregon, followed by giggling groupies like rock stars. Hey, whatever it takes to get poetry out there… and they’re excellent poets, too. I didn’t hear much new work from Billy Collins onsite, but this past week’s New Yorker featured a poem of his that seems to be a departure for him, longer, more classical references, yet with a hint of that Collins ironic wit that his other work is so well known for.

Sharon Olds was there, too, down from her newish home in New Hampshire after years in NYC. Forgive me for dwelling, but she is a goddess, just as sweet and genuine in workshops as she is on stage or while signing books. The stuff I heard her read was not new, for the most part, but she has a book, Stag Leap, about the end of a long marriage, coming soon. Look for it. I enjoy the way Olds takes chances, and though for me she doesn’t hit the high notes every time, when she does, it resonates.

Other poets in attendance that I came across included Bob Hicok, Kwame Dawes, Rita Dove, Kay Ryan, and Rachel Hadas. Memorable moments included a tribute on Sunday afternoon to Lucille Clifton. Promoters used a quote from her poem, “Blessing the Boats” to both honor her and set the tone for this new venue: “may the tide/ that is entering even now/ the lip of our understanding/ carry you out/ beyond the face of fear.” I was lucky enough to hear Clifton at several Dodges, and mourn her passing with the others. Joseph Millar won my heart when at a panel discussion about poets and their day jobs, he proclaimed, “Poetry will save you!” I am living proof of that. And Amiri Baraka, living history, read some powerful words that were partially obscured by the jazz quartet behind him. This prompted me to buy his collected works just to read more. And obscured is sometimes OK, just making the voice another instrument in the band. Loved the jazz at 9 a.m., while my poetry partner went to hear Galway Kinnell read his translation of Rilke’s Duino Elegies in their entirety. G. came back all glassy-eyed like after a good romantic encounter. “Got Rilke?” says the Dodge mug he gifted me with, and soon I will.

Once onsite, events were well managed and organized, but remnants of the former confusion remain even after the fact. Two days after the close of the Dodge, I received a glossy promotional flier in the mail, almost a duplicate of one I’d received months ago. I live in upstate New York, and I can’t imagine it was mailed from too far away. How much money was wasted on that? Food at the festival was a cut above past years, and still I chose a cheeseburger for breakfast. My bad, not theirs. I also avoided the exhaustion of tramping across Waterloo Village, where I was often dehydrated and sleepy. Only one program had me drowsy, and that was due to the soft light coming in through the old stained glass at Peddie Baptist, and the heat rising up into the loft I was seated in. Luckily, the Robert Treat was steps away, and I got to nap in my bed this time and not a car in the parking lot.

My accommodations at the Robert Treat, a totally random choice that put my upstate friends and I right at the heart of the festival, were adequate, although oddly lacked a microwave in the room itself. I got a hot bath in, and a stunning view of Newark both day and night that I still haven’t been able to adequately translate into words. Dinner on Saturday night with friends from home, a longstanding tradition, was at Maize, the Treat’s in-house restaurant, an overpriced affair that was only convenient, not efficient or even worthy of the cost, no offense to Carlos, our diligent waiter.

I made notes for many poems, and rough drafts for three, while in Newark. I jotted down quotes like Millar’s for future sustenance. I am refreshed and recommitted to my art. I got out of Dodge for the weekend, and into a whole ‘nother animal. Now, back to the Patch Mines and the day job.

Note: I need to mention here the fliers that circulated around the festival concerning the closing of several public libraries in the city of Newark, an ironic twist if ever there was one. Taken as an isolated act, this is of course a disaster. However, knowing what little I do about Mayor Cory Booker and his dynamic efforts to revitalize this once vital city, I have to believe that it’s part of a bigger plan, and that his priorities for the city required it. Anyone with more information is requested to comment.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Here Come Da Dodge: Pre-Festival Jitters

    This weekend is New Jersey's biannual Dodge Poetry Festival, now transplanted from the bucolic setting of Waterloo Village in Stanhope to the rising city of Newark, and headquartered in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. An article in yesterday's New York Times seems to do its best to justify the move by quoting such folks as NJPAC President Lawrence Goldman, who said that, "In the 21st century, poetry belongs in the complexity, density and energy of an urban setting." Such a notion seem to me to pigeonhole poetry as much as those who may feel that the only place it really belongs is in an antique village.
    The move was prompted primarily by two factors: a precipitous drop in the assets of the Dodge Foundation, and the physical deterioration of Waterloo Village itself, which in recent years has only been opened for this event. Trust me, toileting at Waterloo was an antique and risky experience in and of itself. Suggesting that the very nature of poetry itself has evolved into an urban art (therefore more marketable too, to those who's only interest lies in the cash-ola potential) puts limits on a type of literature which, on the contrary, has come to speak for broader and broader cross sections of society.
    Certainly the city of Newark's open-armed welcome to the Dodge Festival is a hopeful sign. My companion for the weekend, upon ordering tickets, received a welcome packet that includes a map and visitors guide, highlighting restaurants in the area of the festivities. I have never been to Newark but am anxious to conquer it, vehicularly speaking. It is accessible by public transportation (one supposed complaint about past festivals, but Stanhope was an easy 2 hour drive for me), but due to scheduling conflicts, we won't be arriving until Friday night.
    The schedule is missing some of the mainstays of past festivals as well, including Sunday morning Rumi readings with Coleman Barks, and the mere presence of the adorable Ted Kooser. Brian Turner, an Iraq War veteran, will be reading in Woodstock the Saturday of the festival. The roster is pared down, but other regulars will be there. Galway Kinnell will be reading and speaking about his translations of Rilke's Duino Elegies. Sharon Olds and Billy Collins will be there too. Sunday will feature a tribute to Lucille Clifton, who passed away this spring and has been an active presence at past Dodges.
    Collins' remark about the upcoming Dodge, "Poetry itself is in a postpastoral condition...," must be read with the kind of tongue-in-cheek reasoning that the man and his poems are known for. There is a place for pastures and parkways in poetry. Let's hope the move to Newark for the Dodge doesn't place undo emphasis on replacing one with the other. Let's hope Coleman Barks is back for the next edition.

Monday, October 4, 2010

*Poem: "Trigger at Auction"*

Trigger at Auction

                      "When my time comes, just skin me and put me up there on Trigger, just as though nothing had ever happened." -Roy Rogers

Handsome as my grandfather,
Roy Rogers, the original Chinese cowboy,
had his best horse stuffed in 1965,
the year that Trigger died,
for all to see, Golden Palomino,
because he couldn't bear the thought
of Time galloping past them.
Finally, Time pulls ahead,
and the museum in Branson, MO
closes, all the little buckaroos
gone to Florida compounds, 
assisted living facilities, none
stuffed, none really preserved
for the ages. Along with the
silver six-shooter, the fringy shirts,
Trigger, what's left of Trigger,
ends up on the auction block.
The winning bidder is a TV station
in Omaha, intentions to follow.
Where my father grew up, in
rural Long Island, before pavement,
when the best way to get there was
by train, truck or horseback, my
Chinese grandfather had a
corral full of horses, and as each
one went on to that Great Pasture,
they would dig tremendous holes
here and there, and bury the bodies,
hide, bones and all, deep enough
to keep the raccoons away.
Is there a separate museum where
Trigger's bones are safe, or
someplace where they're honored,
at ease, carefully arranged in
the sign of the Double R?
Or were they buried, along with
his sins, his temporary flesh?
Skinned like a buffalo, like
a young hunter's squirrel,
are the bones of Trigger
planted deep enough to beget
a fresh crop of sidekicks,
ready for the next new Roy?
Is the Golden West ready?
Or should we, as Roy suggested,
go on pretending nothing
ever happened?

CAR  7/20/10

Saturday, October 2, 2010

*First Saturday Poetry, Half Moon Books*

After her usual series of multiple emails, I suspect there's a Teresa Marta Costa reading somewhere tonight ;)... Support your local used bookstores as well. Who knows when they'll stop making the damned things altogether, and then we'll be stuck with whatever The Man deems worthy of Kindle (or whatever the Underground manages to slip to us...):





Saturday October 2nd 6:30 PM

Half Moon Books

93 North Front Street

Kingston, NY

(845) 331.5439

Reception & Book Signing

All Welcome No Admission


Life At the Speed of Groucho

It took you eighty years, more,

to live it, and the facts

are sketchy, clipped as they are

from the script of your life.

I wonder about the texture

of your bald head, the smell

of your greasepaint moustache.

It took me a couple of weeks

between calls at work, a

page or two in the evening,

to run thru the stats,

get the wives, daughters,

mother straight, but Groucho,

Julius, twenty years after you

wheezed your last crack,

(a nurse looking for your

temperature was teased with,

"Don't be silly; everybody

has a temperature...") your true

walk will never be clear, how

your black eyes rolled over

this same white way at the

start of the last hundred block,

A doctor?

Minnie knew better. Your meds

wouldn't fit in a bottle,

ills of the world better served

by a Hackenbush, a Spaulding,

a Groucho ready to spring,

ducked into low crouch out

of Establishment's way,

clawhammer coat prying the dust

from Edwardian minds,

Groucho at the mic,

and the secret word is

CAR 8/5/01

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Monday night, Sept. 27, marked the return of one of the Emerald City's most interesting open mics, Poets Speak Loud. The series was suspended in May after the devastating fire that closed, for good it seems, the Lark Tavern. Their new home is McGeary's, off Clinton Avenue and spittin' distance from the Palace Theatre.

Host Mary Panza took a few minutes to thank Tess, the Lark's mistress and current manager at the rapidly rising McGeary's. Tess thanked the poets and artists and all who have supported her since the fire. Next was an orderly progression of poets, writers, and other bon vivants who've been saving it up all summer.

For the blow-by-blow, always check out Dan Wilcox's blog at In fact, see him for every literary thing in the Albany area, and sometimes even down South. Poets Speak Loud is held on the last Monday night of the month, beginning at 7:30 p.m.