Friday, April 20, 2007

Blue Martins and Vonnegut

The blue martins returned yesterday, near sunset, six days late. Today they are furnishing their tiny apartments. Also, just after sunset, three raccoons woke up from their long sleep and crawled out on my neighbor's roof. Sleepy and scratchy, they weren't moving very fast, and seemed to have forgotten how to be awake.

Kurt Vonnegut never forgot how to be awake. Being awake meant being human which meant witnessing the dull, the mundane, the humorous, the unforgettable, the abominable. Being awake meant being part of the greater machinations of the world, much of which he disapproved.

But he loved wicked humor. My friend Lara gave me the afternoon of a lifetime when she invited me to spend time with her and Vonnegut when he came to lecture in Cleveland a few years ago. My notes from that day are stashed in a box somewhere, but I remember laughing at his wry jokes as we drove around University Circle in a limo. Dodging his ever-present cigarette smoke, I moved forward and back, trying to catch every word. As we passed the Cleveland Clinic building titled "United Cerebral Palsy" he joked, "Why does cerebral palsy need to unite?" An easy joke for him, but it worked.

He didn't like meeting the press, and his demeanor changed when I pulled out a notebook. I put it away. We were with him until he walked onstage at Severance Hall, a creaky curmudgeon basking in late-life glory. The Hall was filled, standing room only, with many students for whom the word "Dresden" means little or nothing. Yet.

Thank you Lara. I treasure those moments.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech

Thank god he wasn't a poet.

Friday, April 13, 2007

It's all Whitman's Fault

Sunny and windy, like in the mountains. It's all Whitman's fault. The sun and wind are not Whitman's fault, if sun and wind are faults at all, but I just wanted to blame Whitman today. For nothing. No reason. Tomorrow I might blame Emily.

But what about Don Imus? Everyone's blaming him. What a nauseous debate. Free speech freaks have to cringe. Off to satellite radio for you, dude. You don't have to wear your hair there.

No one is saying we're free and clear of snow yet, but do we have to concern ourselves with every precious blade of steroidal grass in Jacobs Field?

Have begun my thesis--became official yesterday--and hope to graduate this time next spring. Congrats to fellow poets who are first out of the gate in the NEOMFA program: Jessica Jewell, Jill Riga, and Satya Palaparty.

Am in final throes of saying goodbye to Clark Avenue, where I did time for 20 years. As B said, "You don't have to be the ambassador of the sad anymore."

Do what I say, don't do what I do.

Patronize Cafe Marika!

Friday, April 6, 2007


Pale shoots from peat pots defy the snow.