Friday, July 31, 2009

In My Cups: (breasts speak up!)

It is more than four months since I purchased three brassieres over the Internet, and still I cannot find anyone willing to discuss them with me.

I ordered them when I was fully employed and thoroughly exhausted, too exhausted for the racks crammed like mooing cattle on their way to the slaughtering mill. That image may not play out, but you get the idea, especially if you've ever spent an afternoon at Macy's lingerie department, searching for your odd bra size (smallish cup: B; large ribcage: undisclosed).

And praying for sexy black, sleek brown, exotic pastels - anything but - dud - white or - sigh - beige. If a bra strip slips onto my ivory, plumb and bitable upper arm, let it be enticing. Nurse's white or cleaning lady's beige excites imaginations not of interest to me.

So at this job from which I was laid off with good wishes, unemployment insurance and half a year of subsidized Cobra, I worked daily until 7:30 p.m. I was stone beat when I got home and so decided to buy online.

Now. Lingerie is a secret weapon in the war for self-esteem. I fight that battle often enough; the theater of operations is America, media, and women (and men) colluding with the enemy's expectations rather than standing up for ourselves. Sometimes it hurts, or at least gives the slight sensation of a twinge in the flesh, to be a woman. Or man.

Back to my three bras: two black as Sophia Loren's tresses and one a brown the shiny metallic hue of a '57 Chevy Bel Air. Cherry!

But the cups, I realized when I unpacked them, were distinct land mases. They weren't simply fabric. They were molded cups. When those cups sat around the house they were the house. They didn't life flat in a drawer and certainly not on my chest. My six new cups were smooth, round and mysterious. And false. Not quite falsies, but decidedly hiding my true, dear and sweet breast configurations.

Fascination and laziness. That's why I didn't return the bras. Also they were comfortable. I hadn't been aware such support was available. Since I'm only a B, I hadn't thought it was an issue. Support is a D, DD, E issue, I thought, and that may or may not be the case (gravity also being a fairly unilateral issue). Nonetheless, wearing one of these molded babies was like having a firm hand on each breast all day (as opposed to a gentle exploratory hand, during sensual moments).

Ich bin Californian, folks. Yes, born in N.Y. and raised by New Yorkers - but the raising took place in Southern Cal. Therefore, I want to discuss the experience of owning and wearing brassieres which have personalities bigger than mine. But no one bit, as it were. My wonder and fascination have been met with stares empty as a C-cup on a straight plank.

May the dialog begin. I'm at the ready, along with my six cups, half full, half empty, half live, fully committed to keeping me up.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jelly Me Timbers, Matey

This is an iteration of me seen by few. I am indeed and fact soft and buoyant, comfortable under water and able to propel myself forward without apparent effort. Marvel. That's it for now.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Old Wounds Tell Some of the Truth and Tell It Slant

A few years ago a friend generously paid for me to go to an “Earth and Religion” conference at Bard. As soon as I arrived I looked for an opportunity to volunteer, as volunteering is a great way to feel part of something and make friends. I was set to collating and stapling handouts at a table with a few other people, all like minded, and we eased into a conversation.

We were jolly, I was myself, funny, quick witted, verbal, and when someone brought up the topic of crossword puzzles, a man my age, wearing an old beret, looked at me with hatred and sneered, “I’ll bet you’re great at those.”

This may not seem like much, but I was cut. I was bleeding. Here I was at a save-the-earth-through-love event and right off I was hit with a sort of male malevolence I’ve encountered over and over. (The joke here, I’m rotten with crosswords and Scrabble.)

A few days later this same man came up to me with guilt-at least he knew what he’d done. So that’s that.

Recently I was invited to a James Joyce/
Ulysses reading and discussion group. There were two other members. One a scholar and poet who once studied with James Wright. The other a new poet sidetracked by marriages and kids. I enjoyed reading Joyce outloud-that’s a pleasure and I think strength of mine-hearing and speaking rhythms.

The scholar was cool and knowledgeable; the nonscholar was sincere and a good soul, but had a concordance which “explained”
Ulysses. He was intent on explaining Joyce to me, and not for the first time. I’m not going into the details, but I looked into my heart and realized I had been through similar so many times with with men and just better not show up for this one.

I now swerve to the famous Emily Dickinson quotation, "Tell all the truth, but tell it slant." My swerve is a little suspect, logically. A parabola of jello in the sun. But I was recently reminded of the quote and shortly after, thought of the above two incidents. I flashed on Emily in her well-kept home in Amherst, brilliant Emily, who may have found solitude the only way to keep sane. Maybe she wrote "Tell all the truth, but tell it slant” because, being so innately clever (and, please, I understand that Sarah Sarai : Emily Dickinson :: one daisy : all the flowers of Paradise) because she was fed up with the witless and weary of speaking carefully.

Could be she'd first thought it, in a context other than the poem. Maybe this is Emily being snide or exasperated. For chrissakes, dude, tell, but be hip. You know the old joke. Do Quakers swear? Sure. Fuck thee.

Thanks to Alfred Corn, a very warm soul and extraordinary poet, who reminded me of the Dickinson quote and did so in a far more interesting manner than the above.

Apologies to all good souls mentioned. We all say and do stupid things, have old and new wounds. Ain’t that so.

Image from:

(I once was a Member of the Religious Society of Friends.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

deleted post - aargh - privacy

I found out that someone is reading my blog without regard for my privacy. Recommending my interests to his friend. Tracking me. It creeps me out. Live your own small life. Not mine.

(So I deleted a post I wrote a few hours ago. This is a weird feeling. Good artists work on their own work. Good people live their own lives.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Alchemy: a caption

I turn base metal into gold
An hour to always
Horizon to a bell jar
cherishing your life

Lions' paws tickle my hands
Their scratch soft on my neck
and clay-molded shoulders

Women climb
purgatories of my hips
to run a pink tongue
on my hundred nipples

Lions leap or I
allow men too, delirious
to smell nighttime moss

A proud question of
fear an answer to no question
an asking and telling

A tower founded in stars and
suckling grassy wet mud.

[saw this picture and decided to write a caption]

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Blogger's Oath-Plus excoriating remarks to The Times regarding the Libraries

Like the approximately thirty-eight million other bloggers worldwide, I took the Blogger's Oath, signed the Blogger's Code, acknowledged I had read and agreed with the many stipulations and imperatives when I set up My 3,000 Loving Arms.

{I skipped the paragraphs on Assuming Kitty's Identity, in which are detailed do-s and don'ts for bloggers who sign in as their cat(s) and post photo after photo after photo after photo after photo after photo after photo after photo and so on.}

Not so blithe was I in agreeing to the Bloggers Creed: We Will Bludgeon the World {or in my case, my four followers here, and handful of others from Facebook} With Our Every Thought. That's a big piece o'blog to bite off 'n chew. But yeah, I signed, so here goes. Tonight I have several thoughts.

One concerns that cool, newish frozen yogurt which is costly but comes with fresh fruit or these bouncy little marshmallows not made of marshes but of rice and goop. Man, they're good.

Another thought I have tonight is: I'm tired. Was kind of jazzed yesterday from two evenings of poetry readings. Plus yesterday was Ezra Pound day {See my post: Make It New? regarding Bowery Poetry Center, Bob Holman and turrets}; read another of the Cantos. Didn't sleep well.

The great unraveler sleep wants to have its unraveling way with me, and, my little bloggees, I won't resist.

Oh! One more thing! Overhead at A BRANCH OF THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY this very day, in reference to my previous blog on Lucy Ricardo:

LIBRARIAN 1: Just do (such and such).
LIBRARIAN 2: I tried, it's not working.
LIBRARIAN 1: Didn't you hear, all the problems have been fixed. I read it in The New York Times.
LIBRARIAN 2: It's not working.
LIBRARIAN 1: We have no more problems. It was in the Times.
SARAH SARAI: Are you being ironic?

{As is always the case when SARAH SARAI is present, a good time was had by all.}

Hey, New York Times! Try some journalism! Press Releases aren't really an indication of investigative technique. Unless you don't think libraries, reading, research, books, reference skills, resources for jobs, CDs, DVDs, computer time, historypoetryfictiobiographyreligionphilsophy Dewey and his Decimal etc. are important. Things still broke. REPORT.

Monday, July 20, 2009

NYC Library Screw Up; Lucy Ricardo hired to fix what ain't broken

Congratulations to New York City.

In addition to being the site of two recent much-disputed and disliked museum redesigns (the Morgan and MOMA)--two buildings which now feature dead space and a passing nod to their purpose--housing art for people to admire, study and debate--New York City has also instituted a useless system redesign for its public libraries.

The redesign was the work of computer specialists who do not use the system. I doubt they even use the library, New York City or other. Librarians, clerks and patrons are shaking their heads.

Library clerks
used to scan coded numbers on books when we checked them in or checked them out (them being the books) (neither librarians nor library clerks beep when they’re checked out). Post redesign, librarians and clerks scan the codes, but also have to search them out from an onscreen list and manually click. Why? I don’t know how many people have library cards, but out of the eight million or so residents, I figure a lot. That is a lot of extra work. Long lines have appeared where before there were often none.

It's as if Lucy and Ethel got their hands on the system.

And taxpayer money paid for this. ($7 Million from public and private funds.) New York City draws a fair chunk of tax money from our checks. Most expensive city in America, hello? And some of that went toward a useless, annoying and ill-conceived redesign. The previous system wasn’t broke.

When I search for a book, I now have to take extra steps to stipulate I want a book I can have access to, and not a book archived at the research library where scholars and students study. I went there when I was in graduate school and it cool and an honor, but not a useful first step in finding a book. For me. For most of us. And maybe this will change but Publishers Weekly and Library Journal book reviews are no longer available.

I am hoping the New York Times or Daily News take this up. Things are a mess. I have written to the Mayor and City Council every time the library’s been strapped; I do so now, but with much regret.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What's a Poet to Do? (Against a cry of marginalization)

I read Canadian author Carol Shields' novel Happenstance when I was in graduate school. This was a recreational venture, although, yes, my graduate degree, an MFA, is in fiction (one workshop plus two weeks of a second workshop; two "craft" classes in poetry).

This was around 1995 and memory starts to fail within two weeks of my reading anything, sometimes within two hours; diminishing returns. So the novel was about quilters, but I can't be too specific. I recall there being a convention or assembly of quilters, and the book's focus and tension came from characters' interests and attractions. There was a wry acceptance on the part of quilters that their art, or craft if that's what you want, was not mainstream. That's what really stuck with me.

Granted Happenstance is by a Canadian, a peoples, I am led to believe, with fewer assumptions about the right to life, liberty and fame than Americans have.

One of my poetry "craft" professors lamented the place of poets in society. It wasn't the first time I'd heard that Wagneresque aria and certainly not the last. But I had to wonder why this was so typical a complaint of poets, and one I heard before the publishing industry crashed in (about) '95 (and every year since them).

I would love my poems read by many people. When I write a poem and sense it is nearing completion I get excited. I go to an open mic or submit it to a journal. I've posted a few here. Poets are convivial people, in general, so there's that - we have a desire to chat about what we're doing.

Poets are also a tad egotistical. It is far more common for a poet to think she or he's better than the next, than it is for a fiction writer. The poet who complained has received big grants, is represented by a speakers' bureau and so on. The complaint was luxury, unless this poet expected the same attention as given to Don DeLillo or Susan Sontag. Or Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep.

As vile as the past year as been financially, for this country, and as strong a witness as the AIG, Lehman and Bernie Maddox crimes have been to American greed and ugly inevitabilities of capitalism, I still kind of trust the market. Because the market is people, and while I don't understand people, I love them.

Yup, you got it; don't like individuals but love the group. Sure there's all kinds of brainwashing and the system (pick one, pick any) isn't simply imperfect - it is often corrupt. But the poetry market has bourn Adrienne Rich and Czeslaw Milosz quite well, to name two. Not that they make the bucks from writing, but auditoriums of great and loyal fans turn out for them.

Are poets "marginalized"? I'd like to think of myself as a deliberated scribble in the margin of a high school or college student's class notes. My intelligence marginalizes me. My ordinariness marginalizes me. Writing poetry is what makes me a little different.

Thank you, poetry. I matter.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Make It New?

Make it new.

Someone said that. Oh, okay, it was Ezra Pound. He said a lot of things and wrote a lot of things, some of them in English. The English stuff was often a silk ribbon seeking your ear and soft against your soul. He was pretty good.

Intimidated as I was by Cantos well-fortressed in discouraging the insecure with their (Cantos) hefty walls of Latin and turreted Greek, I didn't tackle them until recently. Tackling friends, however, is a lifelong interest.

My Cantos tackling was enabled by the reading aloud group that meets at the Bowery Poetry Club. What this group does is to read aloud. Further elaboration involves mention of tomato paste tins and Bloody Mary mix, among which the group sits, pale but not loitering in a basement storeroom every Tuesday, late afternoon. The "club" isn't too clubby which suits me. Thank you, Bob Holman.

Getting laid off also enabled Cantos tackling. By the way, the Cantos were slightly doomed because the book as a whole does not quite come together, many have said, though its parts are mighty mighty (lettin' it all hang out). Yes, the Cantos are a brick house.

Make It New is from Confucius, translated by Pound. I may have heard it early on - I'm relatively new to poetry, but a lifelong English major - but the saying, which I later realized was often quoted - must have fallen like bricks from scaffolding while I was in another state.

I remember walking in Pioneer Square in Seattle with an artist and he said it, I want to Make It New. He meant art. I understood that much. And was abashed, shamed, appalled, startled, scared, curious. I'd been writing fiction by then, but had no idea how I was going to start to make anything new. And I raised the usual storefront objections about nothing is new under the Sun.

Blame it on Magdalena Zurawski's blog, Minor American. On June 12, 2009 she wrote of a reviewer who challenged her for not making it new when, she says, that wasn't her intention. What she writes make sense. Minor American is one of my blogs listed, to the right.

So how innovative am I? Not until I was in my forties did I even begin to reckon with the phrase. The trajectory of my life, much stupidity and wasted time for many years, and now a scramble (casual scramble) to catch up, is opposite of Pound's.

What can I make new? A turn of phrase? A simile? Dialog? I can try.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

In Arabia Where God Was Born

for Tom Cheetham

In the desert where God grew a goddess,
a snake, a devil, temptation and time
to think, I found a clay pot containing
knowledge of more than me and
space to contain it.

The clay pot wasn’t for sale
so I stole it. The world is worth
a broken tablet.

Jinns were sealed in the clay pot
containing knowledge of more than me,
swapped wars and stories of them,
of my wishes until finding
Arabia where God was born
and God born in Arabia.

Knowledge of more than me burned,
pale Einstein at the beach.
Invisible faith was a bouquet,
many stanzas, sandals, tribes
with goats and customs, gifts
to give us love of a lifespan.

Invisible faith was in the clay pot.
Knowledge of more than me was
in the clay pot. Women dancing
and jugs of wine for poets,
bronze urns of tea for poets.

The three great rivers flowed from
the clay pot containing
knowledge of more than me in the world.
Their waters sang with springs,
bedded worms with soil.

Invisible faith, the clay pot, jinns’ stories,
and bebop. Cab Calloway was in the clay pot
containing knowledge of more than me
in the world, and not alone.

This is my offering.
Here is what a soul of invisible faith will need:
flowing waters and a little music.
The God born in Arabia’s got a grand voice,

Friday, July 10, 2009

Intensity: A Poet's Stage Mother

5. Intensity: A high degree of emotional excitement; depth of feeling: The poem lacked intensity and left me unmoved. American Heritage Dictionary

If you would deepen the intensity of light, you must be content to bring into deeper blackness and more distinct and definite outline the shade that accompanies it. F. W. Robertson

Is this the F. W. Robertson who was a 19th century English preacher? (Because I wasn't familiar with the name and had figured, physicist, then googled.) Who said, "For a revelation of spiritual facts two things are needed: First, a Divine Truth; next, a spirit which can receive it"? I'm going on that assumption, and if I'm wrong, fine. I want to spend five minutes here, writing about the poet and poetry.

A poet is a receptor and a reader is a receptor. Maker and listener are equal. The difference is in how the word comes to life. Through a poet's--what--heart, soul, crafty mind or a reader's, what, heart, soul, intelligence.

The eye of the beholder, the lover's heart, the artist's need (for God, for fame, for a night of restful sleep) contrive to grasp a poem, which, being the evanescent thing it is, is without physical substance or easy-grip handles.

Poets and readers have bodies. Poems merely have representations of their essence, delegates who can be deft as the Geneva Conference or clumsy as New York State legislators. Both poet and reader are influenced by winds, light, humors, reputation. I wonder about poets who don't come to light, whose work is lost, the missing in action who didn't have the posthumous good fortune of Emily Dickinson, though I realize that's a form of lamentation for myself, a concern nothing of me or by me will last.

Glory is part of the picture. I notice a poet who told me she/he shunned all forms of establishment recognition sending poems and handmade chapbooks in the mail, posting the same on the Web or tagging readers on Facebook.

And sure, I find it difficult to have written something I love and not have someone read it, preferably an informed someone who will include it in a journal online or in print. I'm not sure why that's so but I recognize I am called to be my own stage mother. Let there be nurturing stage poet mothers, and let me be one.

Honey, Sarah, whatever you do is good enough. Keep calling on gods and God. Write. What else is important?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Symphonic Kindness of Escalators (poem in prose)

written 7/8 on this blog. It's all an experiment.

There is light beyond the window. Two men have come in the door. The coffee is a weight lifter in shabby tights and inspiration a desert scroll found by a shepherd who sells cheap. I think I will never love him, proof the tears of justice roll free. I remember wanting to be loved.

I remember cobra charms of suffering. Desire and the aching to burn like a lesser god light years away. Do stars expand? Do humans?

Trust the visible and outstretched.

I found a guide, well, not a guide, a fact. Oh, I love my fact. The heroine lets her co-star have what emotions he can. It is not her business. Knowledge is separation from grime and joining with the five o'clock rush.

Which moves like a river by a picnic wanting the children to tickle its flowing blues. Nothing is immovable. Hate burns out with a sputter in Hafez's hand. That sign on your brow is a bookmark.

Infirmities kaleidoscope into health. We can't expect such but need to trust the symphonic kindness of escalators.

You cannot sigh. You are not done. Remember compassion. Forget the rest and your shoes won't pinch. Two lovers struggle to join in a battle of flesh, flanks and koi in a contrived pond. You are four stars and a thumbs up. Two hands and a firmament of infinite reach. A stairway to the next level.

I will need your help. Accept my hand. I offer a gray cloak of moss. It will grow on you, trust me.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Goddess of the Palm

[note: I'm rewriting this poem every day]

World, child, my imaginal pattern, my namesake.
I throw myth and a caution to the midnight sapphire,
light stuck fires to warm goddesses and their rapists.
In my sky, women not ignored. In my pointillist
galaxy each constellation, a you-are-here arrow.
I made town square an eternal pillory of loneliness
and reckoning (a way to find your way). Mars
raped Rhea Silvia: Romulus, Remus, Lac Lupinum
[wolf milk]. Howdy, Rome. Legend’s old as lust
doomed as pride embedded in our helix vining
up a trellis tra-la. They gave me a watering can
small for a little girl which I was until confusion
cured that. Elevation’s for a few good women
and holies and what a word strolling along our
red carpet tongues. I glory in forward motions.
Like Hephaestus forging thunderbolts for Zeus
(they’re very male), we’re lucky if crippled.
The limping god is myth’s Michelangelo and
what’s his name’s shield our lame one’s Sistine
Chapel, envisioned weddings and war, cattle
and sheep, women and lightly oiled men.
We overly love standard bearers and our gestures
not enough. Oh ladies, pity our everyday mischief,
our cherished
thinking. Oh my and tra la and la.
I was to detail constellations and unambiguities
of morality, venality. I was to set it right. Er, uh.
We are feral, but no one’s perfect. Look up, up.

image from:

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Michael Jackson, a signal of American evolution

In 1776, the amazing and inspiring delights of Michael Jackson would have been denied us. We evolve slowly, but we evolve. And Michael returns to us in ways. Those who want to may eventually return to him, later rather than sooner, please.

Happy July 4th. Be independent. Love who you love. Gender and sex are panoramic. Oh do enjoy the fireworks.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Love the people, but not too much (a note on workshops)

A qualification for the job of poet is past experience with surging affection for the masses, to be Walt Whitman, loving as many varieties of man and woman as observed -- and Whitman was near Aristotelian in his level of insight.

Embrace the people? I'm all for it.

Remember paradise, when everything is dewy and new until a "but" and a mist creep into the book? Here it comes.

But don't expect them people, those masses, to love you and more importantly, don't care what people think. Some of those people, a few of the masses, will be poets who take and revere workshops. Who have believed what various professors or facilitators tell them. As if they were camp counselors such "guides" suggest everyone venture onto the bridge crossing dangerous cold rapids (of artistic expression - whee!) and, yes, feel the spray on cheeks, the penetration of air into limbs.

Well and good, except that guides stop there, maybe not there exactly, I mean, they don't necessarily leave students midway on the bridge -- the lack of symmetry would be disquieting.

The problem is they, workshop facilitators, rarely encourage poets to be who they are. Memorize a poem, rewrite poems in reverse order, discover the thing you must say in every poem -- every workshop leader has her trope or gimmick or schtick. Which is super except that it is formulaic. Oddity and imperfection are rarely encouraged - anywhere - and in fact make teachers and many students, fellow workshoppers, nervous.

Nurturing oddity could be another gimmick, true. How many hipsters have tattoos on their necks thinking that's what makes them unique. (The tattoos may be things of wonder, but that's all they are, things of wonder, not signals of immortal oddity. Isn't 'thing of wonder' enough?) But nurturing the poet to be who the poet is, well, that's a neat trick.

Groups by their nature are herds, packs with alpha dogs and peer pressure. Beyond, or preceding, realms of poetry I love group dynamics -- the flash and interplay, but have not found that satisfaction in a workshop (one workshop on poetry in the world, and one fiction workshop in graduate school . . . I have an MFA in fiction . . . although class time was minimal for me, by choice).

All I'm trying to say -- and this follows an unemployed day in which I luxuriated in companionship of an original, a friend, and heard music of another original, the musician Toshi Reagan.

Very yes very yes very few achieve the fame of Zora Neale Hurston, Emily Dickinson or Joseph Cornell, three artists who were outsiders in the sense of being undeniably original. That's not even the point, fame is not the point, fame or reputation are games, shams, carrots, unpredictable and baffling. What is not baffling is the satisfaction of following instincts - - and devoting a lifetime to discovering uncovering those instincts is a life well lived.

Joseph Cornell, "Cockatoo with Watch Faces"

2 A.M. Poem, Written on my Stomach

You are a blue bonnet humming plain chant
in a pew of corduroy pillows while God is
on her knees praying foliage and air survive.
The minister is paid to say nothing in many words.
Too bad. Every word is a troop in the war of
the quiver with silver arrows
attacking nothingness and the hollow cavern.
Love is hooked over a rafter.
Anyone in the chancel could look up and see its cant.
And if it falls? Imagine love falling into
your lap or on your head or the palm of
your hand as you try to
Much in life comes down to one word.
Them's that know it see joy swing from the rough planks
sorrow hover as a goose feather cirrus
the sleeping lion golden in high grasses
bothered sex steaming in a far window's light.
Them's that don't want that word.
Your ear grows like a trumpet and suctions itself to your heart.

photo: Steve Weber