Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Thaw by Marianne Wolfe

Late in November
The morning sun shows the trees
In white against white.
There is a certainty that
Tomorrow will be the same.

For months thereafter
The days hang onto each other
Like timid sisters.
Nothing is changed but bed sheets
Where I lie white against white.

I move out of the solitude,
Attaching myself
To some sight or sound,
Wrapping myself in it
Like a cocoon inside a leaf.

Then one day in April
The branches of trees claw
At the passing clouds,
And the spaces between
Are filled like lungs in the thaw.

The days move quickly,
Bicycles coasting downhill,
And I wonder if
I am standing still
And the landscape is moving forward.

In the transition I emerge
As if from a cocoon, renewed;
Perhaps nude, I continue
Though no more beautiful
And knowing no more than before.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tyger by Lynn (yup, me)

There's poetry inside of me.
It struggles - trying to break free
To make it's home upon this page.
To poetry, my brain's a cage!

The pressure from inside's intense.
The words pace round and don't make sense.
They charge the bars and fling and fall -
And don't get anywhere at all.

I 'spose I've not the poet's heart
Or else I'd know the way to start
Nor poet's ear, nor poet's eye
Nor poet's mind, for though I try

The words stay balled up in a heap;
They ruin lunch, invade my sleep.
They pace and charge - it just gets worse.
Oh! Look at me! I penned a verse!

Jon Stewart for President.

"Not only do I want an elite president, I want someone who's embarrassingly superior to me."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sew what?

A couple of weeks ago, I made this:

Over the weekend, I completed what I consider a follow-up:

I based this one on a t-shirt design from Threadless.  There's a wealth of inspiration at Threadless - so much so that I'm having trouble deciding what to do next. I've got some ideas, though...

I aslo made a Bon Voyage towel for my mom last week. It turned out really well:

I also found time this weekend to finish The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, a book that a friend recommended to me a couple of weeks ago. Despite being almost a thousand pages long, I breezed right though it and had a hard time putting it down. It was very enjoyable, and I was a little saddened to finish it - finishing a book is always a bit sad; saying goodbye to friends I've spent days or weeks with brings out the melancholy in me. I'm a sucker for historical fiction and am looking forward to reading his sequel, World Without End, as soon as it's available in paperback.

For now, I'm reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera. I wanted something different from the Dark Age historical drama I just finished, so  a Latin American romance fits that description nicely.

Hmm... what else? We ate lunch at Kim Long yesterday - their Vietnamese sandwiches are delicious and cheap. I can't resist ordering Pho Ga at any Vietnamese restaurant, and Kim Long's is pretty good. The sandwich dipped in the broth is terrific, too. After that we shopped for some groceries in their market, then headed to Mr. Awesome's parents' house to play with some kittens that were born under their porch. There are three of them and oh my goodness are they adorable. There are two smoky gray ones and one dark calico. If you or anyone you know wants a kitten - a really cute, playful, lovable kitten - let me know.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Envoy to Jimmy by David Budbill

First I've got to tell you
there's only one radio station around here
anybody ever listens to
because it's the one with the farm news
and the local news and the Trading Post
and comes on at five so folks have music to milk cows by.

Everybody listens to it while they're going down the road.
It's nice because
everybody's head bounces to the same tempo.

I was coming home one day up the river road
and saw Jimmy coming toward me in the pickup
headed for the sawmill or the feed store.

I was going to toot and wave, I always do,
mostly everybody does. Then I saw him
in the cab in that instant
as we passed each other
his arms stretched straight against the wheel,
his head thrown back, eyes almost closed,
his mouth     wide     with     song.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hints on Pronunciation for Foreigners by an anonymous poet

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, laugh and through?
Well done! And now you wish perhaps
To learn of these familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word,
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,
And dead: it's said like bed, not bead,
For Goodness' sake, don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat,
They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.

A moth is not a moth in mother
Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there's does and rose and lose-
Just look them up: and goose and choose,

And cork and front and word and ward
And font and front and word and sword.
And do and go and thwart and cart-
Come, come, I've hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man Alive,
I'd mastered it when I was five!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

the way it is now by Charles Bukowski

I'll tell you
I've lived with some gorgeous women
and I was so bewitched by those
beautiful creatures that
my eyebrows twitched.

but I'd rather drive to New York
than to live with any of them

the next classic stupidity
will be the history
of those fellows
who inherit my female

in their case
as in mine
they will find
that madness
is caused by not
being often enough

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ben Folds requires exactly one box of Raisin Bran.

*breathe in*   *breathe out*   *breathe in*   *breathe out*

Do you feel that? That, my friends, is contentment. Why? Because it's a lovely day out there - the birdies are chirping, the sun is trying it's hardest to burn off the haze of  cloud... Ah, yes... today is a good day.

Alright, so as great as our anniversary was on Wednesday, Saturday was even better. It started with me and Mr. Awesome going our seperate ways. While Mr. Awesome headed to the nephew's little league game, I drove out to Lenexa for a bridal shower. Despite the awful traffic due to a wreck (what? a wreck in Johnson County, you say? How could that be?) I made it to the shower in time for some great food and company. My gift for the bride-to-be was a set of - what else? - embroidered tea towels:

I just love how these turned out! The future bride got all sorts of terrific gifts, and I had a really good time. I had to leave before the shower was over, though... I had somewhere to be at 5 o'clock...

Mr. Awesome and I met back up (the nephew's team won - yay!) at home, let out the dog, and headed down to the UMKC campus, where preperations for the Ben Folds concert were well underway. Did I mention that part? Yeah, Ben Folds was on the UMKC campus on Saturday night. The concert was free to UMKC and Rockhurst students, and Mr. Awesome and I volunteered to help out in exchange for being able to see the show.

Anywho, we find the person we're supposed to talk to (she was absolutely terrific and we can't thank her enough for letting us assist) and we are promptly presented with t-shirts (wooo! free t-shirt) and directed towards Ben's bus where burgers and hot dogs were being served on the lawn in front.

Apparently Ben's rider required that he be provided with lots of soy and organic food and, among other things, exactly one box of Raisin Bran. I'm guessing, since he's on the road constantly for weeks at a time, he uses his rider to do grocery shopping. I'm cool with that.

Mr. Awesome and I assemble with the rest of the troops for our "security meeting." This pretty much involves Ben's stage manager (a very nice but very efficient and no-nonsense guy with a vaguely English or Australian accent and at least three cell phones strapped to his belt) telling us that, under no circumstances, does anyone get anywhere backstage without a pass. I get the feeling that Jesus himself could appear and he would get nowhere without a pass. I also get the feeling that the last thing on Earth you want to do is piss this guy off.

After he's through, position assignments are made. Most people are stationed taking tickets, but Mr. Awesome and I luck out by being positioned in the auditorium and told to look out for disruptive behavior. We then hang out for about an hour while sound and light checks are performed.

First to take the stage is a group that isn't touring with Ben, but that UMKC wanted to perform. They are Black Violin and guess what? It's black guys playing violins. They are really loud, and, while good, they aren't exactly the same genre as Ben Folds. Personally, I thought they were kind of distracting. They performed for about 40 minutes or so, after which Eef Barzelay took the stage.

We really liked Eef's performance in Springfield. He was definitely different, but sort of mesmerizing, so I was looking forward to his performance at UMKC. Unfortunately for Eef, the crowd was pretty restless after listening to hip-hop violin fusion music and didn't give Eef the respect he deserved. The crowd was loud, and rude, talking way too much. Eef's performance is just him and an electric guitar, so there's not much he can do to get the attention of a bunch of assholes. He cut his set short, leaving me disappointed in UMKC and Rockhurst students.

My disappointment turned (back) into pride, however, after Ben Folds took the stage. The crowd was energetic and supportive, and way more people than I expected knew words to songs I didn't expect them to know. I have a terrible memory, so thankfully someone else kept a set list:
  • Errant Dog - new song

  • Gone

  • Annie Waits - Mr. Awesome's favorite

  • Landed

  • I Suppose I Said the Wrong Thing (Rock This Bitch)

  • Free Coffee - new song

  • Still Fighting It

  • Effington - new song

  • You to Thank

  • Hiroshima - new song

  • Kate - My favorite

  • Philosophy (w/ misirlou)

  • Lullaby (Band Leaves, Just Ben Right Now)

  • Last Polka

  • Kylie from Connecticut (Band Returns For End of Song)

  • Bitches Ain't Shit

  • Narcolepsy

  • Army

  • Rockin' the Suburbs

  • Zak and Sara

  • Underground

  • One Angry Dwarf - Encore
There was a guy in the audience named Justin who was seeing his 50th show, so Ben played The Last Polka and a hyper-fast version of One Angry Dwarf for him, after which, he smashed his piano stool against the piano. It was the coolest thing ever. Personally, I was psyched (yeah, I said psyched) to hear Army live. It's one of my favorites and made me a supremely happy camper. We were probably 20 feet from the piano and had a fantastic view. It was incredible and we had a great time.

After the show, we headed over to the merchandise table to pick up a DVD we didn't have. While there, poor Eef Barzelay was sitting, looking glum, waiting for someone to buy his CDs. I overheard him say, "Man, this is the worst I've ever done at one of these things." Well, damn. Once again I was reminded of how awful the crowd was while he was performing. We turned around and asked Eef which CD he recommended (we already have his newest one) and apologized to him on behalf of decent people everywhere for the ridiculous behavior of the audience. He seemed to cheer up a bit, and my friends, I think we saved a life that night. The CD we got was by his former band, Clem Snide, called Soft Spot. Fan-freaking-tastic mellow, chill out music. We bought another Clem Snide CD over the weekend just for kicks.

The evening drawing to a close, we headed outside for the walk to our car. But wait... what is that small crowd doing by Ben's bus? Why, chatting with the band, of course. We ditched the car idea and decided to wait until Ben came outside. A few short minutes later, we were getting autographs. Then the stage manager guy asked who wanted pictures. Pictures? With Ben. Holy shit. We only had a camera phone... with no flash... and it's dark out here... but wait! The digital camera is in the car, and Mr. Awesome is like Jerry Seinfeld when it comes to sprinting - he is fast, people. He gets a great shot, and I'm not going to post it because I have a weird look on my face in it.

And people, there will be a next time. Minnesota, here we come...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down the hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Friday, April 4, 2008

I am... I am.. I am the luckiest.

Normally, Wednesdays are boring. I get up earlier than I want to, go to work for 9 hours, get home, maybe cook, maybe go out somewhere, watch something on TV, then go to bed. That's what the normal Wednesday is for me.

April 2nd was not a normal Wednesday. It was our 6th wedding anniversary.

The day began with a drive to Springfield, Missouri. Over hill and dale, past livestock auctions, a My Little Pony farm, and the constipation capital of the world, Osceola Cheese Company. We did not stop at any of those attractive places (although how freaking cute are miniature horses?). Instead, we continued on until curiosity got the better of us.

Our first stop was Fantastic Caverns. Yes, it was fantastic. Seriously. Two old dudes, Mr. Awesome and I were the only ones on our tour. Waldorf and Statler sat in the Jeep, while Mr. Awesome and I got the whole wagon part of the Jeep to ourselves. Yay, freedom. The tour takes about an hour, 10 minutes of which is spent watching a cheesy but semi-informative movie about the history of Fantastic Caverns. I'm sure the school kids who end up here as part of a field trip are enthralled by tales of Buck Owens and his magical Hee-Haw guitar playing shows in the cavern before it became less of a roadhouse and more of a theme park ride.

One of my favorite parts of the tour was when they turned all the lights off and it got darker than I've ever experienced before. Remember the scene in Pee Wee's Big Adventure, when he drives the car over the cliff and is left alone in the wilderness? It's all dark, and all you see is his cartoon eyes, then he turns on a flashlight for a second and sees all sorts of animals and stuff? Yeah, I kind of thought something like that would happen. It didn't.

The cave itself is considered a living cave, it's formations still growing in 100% humidity. Here's a couple of pictures - they aren't perfect, but hey, it's friggin' dark in there, okay?

I would totally visit this place again. I'm a sucker for ride-through-in-a-Jeep caves.

After the fantastic tour, we made our way to the Oasis Hotel and Convention Center. Someone online said the place reminded them a little of the hotel in Vacation - you know, the one where Clark Griswald gets all freaky with Christie Brinkley back when she was an Uptown Girl and not a quad-divorced whatever-you-call-people-who-have-been-divorced-four-times person. I didn't get any pictures.

The hallways smelled like citrus carpet fresh. That's about all I have to say about the Oasis.

About this time, we were getting powerful hungry. A quick perusal of some Springfield magazine left in our room let us to Nakato Japanese Restaurant. Two words: sushi boats. You all know how I loves me some sushi train, so I was crazy excited about sushi boats. While the place didn't quite live up to my expectations (there were only about five boring items to choose from, and not all the boats had stuff on them), the sushi we ordered off the menu was really good. Also, I love watching sushi go around in a circle, even if it is a California roll.

And here's what we ordered:

After dinner, we headed to Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the real reason we visited Springfield. As if Fantastic Caverns, retro hotels and sushi boats weren't enough, it was time to see Ben Folds, live and in person.

No photography allowed, so here's a picture of his tour bus:

The show was sold out. We were about 20 rows back in the center, and could see the stage really well. Mr. Awesome and I spent a few minutes wondering if everyone else could tell we were about ten years older than they were. I don't like to think about that, so I changed the subject to something else entirely. Probably sushi boats. Ben's opening act was a guy named Eef Barzelay. He's kind of a mix between David Byrne and Elvis Costello, with a little Devo thrown in to make it really interesting, and a lot of Bright Eyes to keep it lyrical. I have to admit - he made a single electric guitar sound like an entire band, and I really, really liked him. So much so, that we bought his CD after the show. He was that good. There's a Ben song that says "there's always someone cooler than you." Damn straight, there is: that guy is Eef Barzelay.

After Eef (which rhymes with beef and that makes me giggle), Ben and his guitarist and drummer took the stage. At this point, the entire audience stood up and remained standing, mostly fairly still, for the duration of the concert. My feet hurt after a while. Ben opened with a couple of songs from his yet-unreleased CD, and, while the songs were good, I kind of have to hear a song a couple of times for me to really have a feel for it, you know? The rest of the audience felt the same way, because they really roared when he broke into some of his more familiar stuff. Here are the ones I remember off the top of my head:
  • Gone

  • Fred Jones, Part II

  • Annie Waits

  • Kate

  • Underground

  • Brick

  • Still Fighting It

  • Landed

  • Rockin' the Suburbs

  • Narcolepsy

  • Zak and Sara

  • Lullaby

  • My Philosophy

  • Not the Same
There were others, but I don't remember them right now. Later on, while I'm in my car listening to a CD, I'll say, "He played that one, dammit!" It was a fantastic show. Mr. Awesome and I have been fans of his music for several years, but never saw him live.  I always suspected that much of the show would be improvised and conversational, and I was right. There were several times when he seemed to get a feel for a beat or melody and would start playing, then the other band members would join in, and they'd do their own little thing for a few, letting the rest of us sit in on their jam session. It was very, very cool.

I'm hoping, if all goes as planned, to be at his KC show this Saturday. We shall see...

So, to summarize, the theme of our 6th anniversary was "fantastic." Fantastic caverns, fantastic sushi boats, fantastic electric guitar, fantastic Ben Folds. It was pretty close to perfect.

A Poem for Emily by Miller Williams

Small fact and fingers and farthest one from me,
a hand's width and two generations away,
in this still present I am fifty-three.
You are not yet a full day.

When I am sixty-three, when you are ten,
and you are neither closer nor as far,
your arms will fill with what you know by then,
the arithmetic and love we do and are.

When I by blood and luck am eighty-six
and you are someplace else and thirty-three
believing in sex and god and politics
with children who look not at all like me,

sometime I know you will have read them this
so they will know I love them and say so
and love their mother. Child, whatever is
is always or never was. Long ago,

a day I watched awhile beside your bed,
I wrote this down, a thing that might be kept
awhile, to tell you what I would have said
when you were who knows what and I was dead
which is I stood and loved you while you slept.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"The blood jet is poetry. There is no stopping it."

Happy April Fool's day, everyone. While I love a good practical joke as much as the next person (YouTube's RickRoll was particularly inspired), I love April 1st because it signifies the start of National Poetry Month.

To help "celebrate poetry and its vital place in the American culture," I like to step up my regular sprinkling of poetical offerings and present you with more of what I think is worthwhile reading. Some poems you'll like, some you won't. Some you will "get" and others will not make sense to you. I can't claim to understand all of what I'll present, but every piece that I post here has, in one way or another, spoke to me and left an impression.

To kick off National Poetry Month, 2008, I've chosen a poem from Charles Simic, who was, in August of 2007, selected to be the 15th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry ot the Library of Congress. From
In his essay "Poetry and Experience," Simic wrote: "At least since Emerson and Whitman, there's a cult of experience in American poetry. Our poets, when one comes right down to it, are always saying: This is what happened to me. This is what I saw and felt. Truth, they never get tired of reiterating, is not something that already exists in the world, but something that needs to be rediscovered almost daily."

Simic, like many great poets, has an eye for finding beauty, truth and emotion in the most mundane of subjects. He states, "Words make love on the page like flies in the summer heat and the poet is the bemused spectator." To Simic, the artistic expression of poetry is not a singular effort, but a revealing of something to the poet that is larger than himself.

Couple at Coney Island by Charles Simic

It was early one Sunday morning,
So we put on our best rags
And went for a stroll along the boardwalk
Till we came to a kind of palace
With turrets and pennants flying.
It made me think of a wedding cake
In the window of a fancy bakery shop.

I was warm, so I took my jacket off
And put my arm round your waist
And drew you closer to me
While you leaned your head on my shoulder.
Anyone could see we'd made love
The night before and were still giddy on our feet.
We looked naked in our clothes

Staring at the red and white pennants
Whipped by the sea wind.
The rides and shooting galleries
With their ducks marching in line
Still boarded up and padlocked.
No one around yet to take our first dime.