Tuesday, March 28, 2017

With Y as an Absence of Pain #fiction

A story I wrote is in print or virtual print. Check out the latest issue (#17) of Cleaver Magazine to read "With 'Y' as an Absence of Pain." 

Thank you. It takes so long to write one story and then, poof, it's up and out, a dandelion shred blowing.

With 'Y' as an Absence of Pain

Thursday, February 2, 2017

One Hot Mess kicks Trump-ass with fake @realFrederickDouglass

The satirical blog One Hot Mess leapt in to show the nation's First Fool what a ignorant lout he is. Not that the First fool gives a...

I care, however. Here are some of the fake tweets. Okay, I admit. I tried to find an account on Twitter - puzzled by the length -- how did the Tweeter get past the 140 limit (methought). There IS an account for Frederick Douglass @realFredDoug, but @realFrederickDouglass is a fiction, created for purposes of One Hot Mess' post. Thank you, brilliant satirist, brilliant lady-satirist.

@realFrederickDouglass: My autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, is #1 best-seller on Amazon. 4x better sales than Art of the Deal! P.S. I am dead!
@realFrederickDouglass: Hope you like everything I did for women's suffrage! Even the losers, haters, and flat-chested "fives." Enjoy!
@realFrederickDouglass: Appreciate @realDonaldTrump congrats on AMAZING job I did to secretly educate myself and other slaves while still living under slavery in Maryland. My work is finally being recognized!
@realFrederickDouglass: @realDonaldTrump, your FAKE NATIONAL SECURITY immigrant BAN goes against everything I stood for (when I was alive 122 yrs ago). A horrible mess!
@realFrederickDouglass: My abolitionist paper, The North Star, has much better coverage of me than the failing New York Times has of @realDonaldTrump! 

Click on One Hot Mess to read the full posting.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Philip Roth vs Daphne du Maurier: The Battle to Epitomize our Times (well, not really a battle except when read back-to-back)

I made a foray into Philip Roth's Plot Against America soon after its publication in 2004. The concept was cool, as in neat-o, that America had gone Nazi. That instead of FDR winning a third term in the White House, Charles Lindberg, nonfictional Nazi sympathizer, had run and won. Given the decades of Nazis in fiction and cinema who made great villains, I was ready for fun. After 50 pages I wandered off, however, insufficiently captivated. In 2004. In 2017 I returned to the novel, along with a slew of readers, because Plot is primo relevant. We have a fascist in in D.C.

I understand my disinterest in 2004 -- while the characters are believable, plucked as they from Roth's Newark, New Jersey childhood, they remain historic in feel, not universal. I didn't see myself or my milieu in any of them. The detailed plot was more workmanlike than fascinating. Now, 2017, the novel's concept overrides all. We have a nonpolitician, a larger than life public figure in the White House, beating out the exquisitely qualified competition. And he's scary as shit.

Plot's national antisemitic campaign, Lindberg-initiated, is believable in the novel's context. Maybe, however, it is too specific.  There's a plot twist that could well  bear out in real life in the U.S., too, but no point in ruining that. Because of Trump, The Plot Against America is a valuable tool, a 'we missed the alarm clock, can we NOW wake up' call. I could have put it down but I knew I dare not do so this time.

Contrast that with Daphne du Maurier's short story, "The Birds." I read it yesterday. It's set in Britain's Cornwall, on the coast (not Marin County). Seen through the eyes of Nat, a thoughtful family-man, the ominous story feels (feels) at least as plausible as Roth's terror. The narrator notices unexplainable and eerie gatherings of birds. As happens with any prophet warning God's children to take care, Nat's cautions to his neighbors are ignored. His precaution serves only his wife and two children. As with Plot, there's much detail--Nat's smart hard work to shore up his house--and the birds' ballistic attacks. Yes, the premise seems a bit more implausible than Roth's, but "The Birds" seems far more real, and is a far more satisfying read. With the Doomsday Clock near midnight, avian disruption--well, who knows.

I was impressed by Roth, enchanted and terrified by du Maurier. Glad I read both.

[Note: These are my two most recently completed reads. Not much of a basis for comparison? Probably not, but I trust a reader with forgive my fancy.]

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Tepper Talk: Susan Tepper Interviews Sarah Sarai

Berndnaut Smilde

Berndnaut Smilde
Tepper Talk:

Susan Tepper writes fiction, poetry, interviews, runs readings, posts indefatigably. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by her in late 2016 about Geographies. Here is an excerpt:
In your poem ‘But Then Again’ you also bring up God:
 “… You suspect God’s an / anarchist and admit you / like belief which transforms / you into an arcangel, a / nimbus, the celebrating / Sun. /…”
 Will you talk some about this poem?
 S.S. If anyone wants to read ‘But Then Again’ which was published in Ascent here is the direct link. God? She’s a pretty common character in literature. No reaching deep into classical references there. I had a “moment” late one morning at the Center (LGBT) on 13th Street, in one of their spacious, high-ceilinged rooms with many large windows. The sun poured in through the glass and found me, and I was unable to differentiate between the very real corporeal Sarah Sarai and a self who was a character in a painting by a Renaissance artist, maybe Raphael, of a woman, holy or not, in a nimbus – those luminous clouds engulfing the saints in art. I inwardly narrated the moment, as when Annie Hall steps out of her body to narrate sex. So I felt anointed and was aware I was no more, no less than Sarah Sarai feeling anointed, or being anointed, or imagining myself in a painting at the Met. It stuck with me, that quick and glorious flash-bulb moment. I used it in a poem.
The full interview is here.

***The photos, from a "nimbus photography series," are by Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde. "For his Nimbus photography series, Smilde has created indoor clouds within buildings including the Hotel MariaKapel in the Netherlands and Aspremont-Lynden Castle in Belgium. Smilde's clouds were listed by TIME Magazine as one of the top 10 inventions of 2012."

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Brutal Ineptness Is Taking Over D.C.

Trump is chaos on legs.

There were no scandals in the White House while Obama was in office. He, his staff, his appointees made plenty of mistakes but there was never the kind of attention that dogged the Clintons and Bush Jr. That dogs Donald Trump.

May the force for good be with us.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim ...

Agnes Martin was self-sacrificial, destroying her early work because it wasn't 'there' yet (my quotes). A hearer of things unheard, she was maybe one miracle short of being a saint. Yet she was enormously competent. And always succeeded: at teaching and education and most of her art. The few sculptures I found gauche and annoying, however, something for sale in a driveway on a Saturday. Nothing like the deliberation and control of the paintings. Her survival, line after line. Bounded alleys tamped down. Very glad I saw the show but I began to long for Rembrandt, deep and warm, O'Keeffe, surpassing seduction. The Guggenheim show upped my appreciation of Rothko, never far down. Guess I need to be moved.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Crew Is Restless and I Am Sick at Heart: a poem

When I smoked (not much), it was Erik little cigars, but not menthol. I bought them at a smoke shop near Baruch College; I discovered them in Amish Country in New Jersey. Visiting with friends who chose to shop the outlet malls, I wanted to walk in the countryside. An Amish farmer sold me my first Eriks. Everyone forms their own resistance movement?

The Crew Is Restless and I Am Sick at Heart

Had to form my own resistance movement.
Had to write, I have good feelings
     about the journey but fear battles with myself.
Had to work black felt to a beret.
Had to suck cinders into swampy bellow.
Had to buy Erik Little Cigars
     from an Amish farmer.
Had to be surprised.
Had to find them on Twenty-Third and Third.
Had to quit.
Had to just had to envision BBC kings
     fighting brother France
     on green-island fields,
     hear hoofbeats of scythed Mongols
     thunder on the steppes.
Had to smile because there is a field
     in battlefield.
But of course there is also a battle. 

by Sarah Sarai. @@@ From the journal, Lyre Lyre. #5, 2013. The site is no longer live, and included in the collection Geographies of Soul and Taffeta (Indolent Books), 2016.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Saint Beauty: a poem

Saint Beauty

In the direct way of the foolish,
St. Francis walked up to a wolf
and said Brother.

It was a generic naming
with Gubbio’s villagers murmuring
mashed potatoes
mashed potatoes
like actors creating scrim in
a Perry Mason juror’s box.

This was not the wolf who dressed
in Granny’s flannel gown and tied on
a nightcap, no, this was Brother Wolf
touching paw to palm:
I’ll be good.

What’s to learn from this story?
Feed all creatures until
claimed by God from Lost & Found?

Goodness is a gamble.
Perry proved beauty is no defense.
The mystery of being is
trumped by the mystery of not-being.

Not-flesh embodied needs flesh,
even that grandmother’s,
toasty in her long flannel gown.
by Sarah Sarai. @@@ From the journal, Lyre Lyre. #5, 2013. (The site is no longer live.)