Friday, March 30, 2012

Foodstuff Friday (the Return of): Tricking the Tongue, Eating the Magic.

The game plan is to trick the tongue. The tongue wants smooth and sweet. The tongue anticipates a frisson of cold and the gradual transformation of that sensation into melting pleasure.

The game is fooling yourself to believing, "I'm eating ice cream."  The discovery eureka!-ed itself late one night when I was curious and desperate.

The contention, by way of a sidebar, is that I invented frozen yogurt. It is a false boast, but allow me my vanity, which is not the vanity of vanities, merely a vanity among vanities.  There are so many!

Required for this game are ingredients often on hand or at least almost always are in my fridge. The night I alchemized them into Sarah's Ice Cream, the time was late, I was resisting spending money, and my higher angel, like The State in Aristotle, was nudging me to The Good.

I opened the refrigerator doors, grabbed ingredient "a" from the freezer and "b" from the shelves, threw "a" into a giant mug, a.k.a. a bowl with a handle, plumped it with a glorious scoop of "b" and watched the magic happen.

Ingredient "a" is a bag of frozen fruit. Blueberries or raspberries are my favorites.

Ingredients "b" is Greek yogurt. I like Fage, all three versions (from no fat to some fat).  I buy whichever has the greatest promise of shelf life.

The magic is Newtonian, as in Rosicrucian, as in alchemical. It reminds me, this magic, of Magic Rocks, which fizzle and spark. The frozen fruit and the Greek yogurt freeze up as if accosted by a police detective with a gun.

And as they realize there is no danger, fruit and Fage relax to caress each other into bliss, a frozen pleasure-mystery. I suggest spooning it onto your waiting tongue at all levels of freeziness and mushiness, experimenting with stages of texture. I favor the slight meld, when raspberry juices make rivulets into the snowy peaks of yogurt.

Ingredient "c" is optional. Sometimes I sprinkle a packet of turbinado sugar over for crunch as well as for sweetness. They are available as some coffee houses. I don't like sugar in my coffee and so (I confess) sometimes pocket the packet (just one) for later use.

My shoddy ethics aside, this delight really is as good as ice cream. Trader Joe's sells inexpensive frozen fruits (use as much as as little of the bag as feels right) and Greek yogurt.

Eat the magic.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Deactivation Report: I'm out of the Facebook box

April 2012 Update. Back on FB, but as a presence. Not roving, not posting (this blog posts automatically). More time for me. Less agonizing over lives of others.

This shouldn't be news but then a blogger shouldn't be compelled to be a news source. Now that that disclaimer is off my shoulders or mind or other part of my anatomy or portion of me which defines or signals me, here's the non-newsworthy news: I got off Facebook.

I deactivated my account. I can return. And, yes, it's not a monumental life event. Part of the reason I'm  mentioning this is in case one of my almost 2,000 Facebook friends, most of whom I haven't met but do have a connection with, through poetry or fiction, wonders if I unfriended them.

No!  No one is unfriended. Just, everyone.

Not much more to say than that it is a good move right now. Like many things, Facebook is a box, a specified delivery system. As an intimacy-avoiding mechanism, it rules. I, however, am human, and need intimacy.

As a poet and fiction writer, I need to stray. I am a cat, straying.  I am howling in the alley.

(p.s. Just did a spellcheck. Three words come up as questionable:  Facebook. unfriended. spellcheck.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Poem: Christina Hutchins

Ta da! My final posting of nominees for this year's Lambda Literary award for lesbian poetry collections is (and remember, I posted in random order, the order beloved by random bloggers everywhere) The Stranger Dissolves, by Christina Hutchins (Sixteen Rivers Press).

As is the case with the other nominees, Hutchins is a seasoned poet. On the list of Things You Can Tell Your Parents About Your New Girlfriend: she has won the Villa Montalvo Poetry Prize, received two Barbara Deming Awards, and is the first Poet Laureate of Albany, California. She teaches at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley.

Here, from Missouri Review is "Into your pocket."  You might wander over to Switchback for more beauty and elegance.

Into your pocket

I have slid a bright morning before rain.
Tonight’s concerto is folded into thousands
of paper cranes; their wings were trees, rollicking
restless in the sun. Here’s a loose,
black thread pulled from my hem, tangled

to a tiny bundle between my fingers & thumb.
Kelp strands roiled back & forth in the surf
& deposited at high tide, the lost chains
of underseas are knotted, left along the beach.
Here is the warmth of my stride, left in a heap

on a rug beside the bed, blue jeans shed
in the shapes of my legs. I, too, have held
the shape of an absence. Quiet in the auditorium.
Who is that, laughing at the back of the room?
Here we are again, leaning against the door,

my way to you disclosed by two tongues
spending a sweet moment. The self I become
& the self you become are celestial bodies
entered into, one by another. Tender
release, a wet palate tasting its small

flourishes, my love is for taking along.
Like you, I swim a rising, astral surge.
If we are anchored by every spent moment,
the anchors are already rusted to dust
& these chains no heavier than light.

by Christina Hutchins, from The Missouri Review, 2010

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Poem: Robin Becker (a poet in Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry)

The fourth nominee is an anthology, rather than a collection by one author.  (Not that you didn't know what an anthology was, but the distinction is noteworthy under the circumstances, those being the five nominees for the Lambda Literary Award for lesbian poets.)

As you are curious about the other nominees, you will want to look at the past three postings herein on My 3,000 Loving Arms and (furthermore) keep an eye tuned to tomorrow's posting which will have the final nomination (all posted in random order).

Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry, edited by Julie R. Enszer, published by Midsummer Night's Press, includes poems by a variety (duh) of poets and if you want more information, click here (there) to get to Midsummer's page. In the meantime, I post one poem by one of the poets, Robin Becker.

I'm thinking it's not included, but it's such a great poem, I want to read her and the other poets' twist on and insights. 

Angel Supporting St. Sebastian

Shot with arrows and left for dead,
against the angel's leg, Sebastian sinks.
In time, he'll become the patron

saint of athletes and bookbinders.
But for now, who wouldn't want to be
delivered into the sculpted arms

of this seraph, his heavenly
shoulders and biceps?
The artist understood the swoon

of doctrine, its fundamental
musculature, and the human need
to lean against the lusty form,

accept the discourse that assigns
to each of us a winged guardian
whispering into our ringing ears.
by Robin Becker, pub. on

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Poem: Daphne Gottlieb

The third nominee (see yesterday and yesterday's yesterday) for a Lambda Literary Award for a best collection by a lesbiana poet . . . is Daphne Gottlieb.

Although the poem I selected is short, as in real short, four lines, it does seem to represent rare inventiveness and insight.

I saw one reference to Gottlieb was a "performance poet."  That phrase is limiting and also too strict in terms of codification. Few poets can resist at least a few plays to the audience these days, especially in our Youtube culture. And once a poet is called a performance poet, she is considered pegged. Since Gottlieb has over nine books out she's spent some time off the stage.

"ernie..." could be titled "the Serenity Prayer goes awry" except its real title is cool and wildly informative.

ernie, on the street, overhears lola, who has fallen off the wagon is walking home alone at 2:15 a.m. 

god grant me the heredity the hysterectomy god grant me to

excess to annex to invent the things I cannot 

exchange courage to claim or chain the things I 

clam and the wizard to know the defense.

Daphne Gottlieb, Homestead Review, Hartnell College

Link to Homestead Review

Friday, March 23, 2012

Poem: Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

What a sensuous sinewy name she has, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, as if she were born to be a poet, which she was. And aware, outraged, alive.

Her collection Love Cake (Tsar Productions) was another of the Lambda Literary nominees for best lesbian poetry (see yesterday's posting, and tomorrow's and so on). The poem "noise" was published in Lodestar Quarterly. Note that the poem is from Spring 2004. The essence of the poet is in every cell and line though the poet grows and changes.  

Love Cake, eh? Ha ha ha. Small, independent bookseller, here I come. As for biographical or background information, the note at Lodestar Quarterly (click on the name above) is a good start.  

HTML is running wild, by the way. The poem is intended to be double-spaced and this intro single. Breath between lines and savor the words.


by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

if a girl screams
in a forest
in an oil field on fire
in a immigration holdin cell motel by the airport
and CNN doesn't tell it
no reporters embedded to witness
does she make a sound?
does her voice
spread over galaxies
neutrons milky ways
mars and jupiter
closer than they've ever been
does she make a sound and
does anyone give a fuck.
if a girl screams on a street corner
hustling her ass
if she wakes up to a man in her bed
who wasn't there when she turned the light off
if girl gets followed home
from her job stripping in front of a digi-cam
does it make a sound?
if the papers say she isn't quite a girl
and may live or have lived
in a house the neighbors
may or may not refer to as "a crack house"
what sound does her scream make?
if a girl is so hungry
has no money
wants all the
peaches and melon that drip off the shelves
of the market in summer
but goes home and eats dandelion greens
from her backyard
is she too hungry to make any noise?
if she is a poet not all up in
in MA and BA
and most of all BS
do her words get picked up on the satellites
that pick up everything?
if they recruit a whole army of girls
girls who look just like us but not quite
tits asses and skin
mouthing their words on the screen for them
where do our voices go?
listen. we are all making noise
even when our sound is too scared too hungry too dead to be picked up
by radar
cup your ear hard.

Again....PUBLISHED in Lodestar Quarterly. 2004.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Poem: Dawn Lundy Martin

null previewSurprise and other states of reaction and joyous feeling (and a little bit of guilt) accompanied my scanning the just announced Lambda Literary Award nominations in lesbian poetry collections for 2011.


There were five nominations. Five women poets. I knew of all of them but, hence my surprise and various accompanying feelings, I haven't ye't read one of the five nominated collections. I hope to rectify that omission and soon.  In the meantime I am going to post a poem by each of the five in separate blog postings. (I'm not sure what I'm going to do in the case of Julie Enzer whose book was nominated, yes, but it is an anthology. I believe this is known as a luxury problem.)

In the meantime, here is a poem by Dawn Lundy Martin, whose collection Discipline (Nightboat Books), is among the five.  "Religion Song" is not from Discipline, but from Martin's chapbook, The Morning Hour.

Religion Song

Backward, our peculiar language.
Mama says, your life are your hands.

Count them
.                 Spoken and leans
back into herself       a lone blade

amongst a field.        Each grass a palm

A straw hat on the old woman
who stands                 back to lone house

not smiling.               A rake in her hands
Two coconut palm trees--

She would draw concentric circles in sand . . .

What yields in darkness?

A point of surrender.

The still music of captivity.

All the civility of work.

* * *
From The Morning Hour, which had selected by C. D. Wright for the PSA National Chapbook Fellowship competition.
From the Poetry Society of America website.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Okay. Could you guys back off enough I can be serious, so I can be reflective like the Winter Garden at noon. Reflexive like a Swede assuming insult. Reflexable (ain't not word, but) like no one's business.

The reading on Monday night, a public recitation previously referenced, was a dream framed and kept. And there was wine and lush foodstuffs==no strangers to poets.

So it was me, Margo Berdeshevsky and Joannie Stangeland at the Cornelia St. Cafe. I've done enough readings I don't have much of anything to write here PER SE that wouldn't sound precious, not that precious doesn't have its place somewhere or other.

It might be the friend factor that moved this reading ahead in the pantheon of readings, pals who showed up. One is just beginning to understand I'm a poet (there is at least one dimension of my life that doesn't intersect with stanzas and line breaks). Three great friends I met in group formation a few years ago appeared, smiling and brilliant. One friend who knows most portions of my life and for that is highly treasured (and for wit and artistic perspective) watched. One new friend who may always be just out of reach but visible showed to support and/or out of curiosity.  So nice very really very nice. One who'd published me.

& of course my co-readers had their fireflies and moths so by the end of the reading it was as if I had been heard, something I long for in some sense of needing completion or a sense donut-holeness from early years. 

I have assembled a second poetry collection, and in reading some of those poems, it became real, viable, something to place in the world.

Two glasses of Riesling and a French rendering of lamb.  New stories from new people. A little post-dinner idiocy on my part (I was born with Ginsberg ennui). The evening was textured, Rembrandt rich with a whole lot of stuff going on.  Once more I became a poet. Once more.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Berdeshevsky, St. Joan, her sky ... its feral, cobalt voice

I have billed the reading variously:  3 Great Women!  /  Paris ... New York ... Seattle  /  Berdeshevsky ... Sarai ... Stangeland / The Babes.

No, I haven't, in fact, used the babes.  But my desire to entice prospective audience members to come to the Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia St., Greenwich Village, on Monday, March 12 at 6 p.m. to hear see and in ways seemly and metaphysical enjoy three fleshpots of Jerusalem---no, wait---three poets, each of whom is solidly and surely implanted in her body--is strong.

I admit to some concern and much worry. I live here. For me there'll always be another day, while for Margo Berdeshevsky, a New York reading requires a flight across the Atlantic Ocean (my least favorite of oceans). For Joannie what's necessary is flight over the United States (my most favorite landmass).  But it is a great distance. Distances, in these instances, are vast, majestic and terrifying as a demand.

I posted two poems by Joannie Stangeland earlier in the week.  Here's Margo. [And thanks to the poet Angelo Verga who works triage on poetry readings at the Cornelia St. Cafe.]

Out of a sense of purity: blackout.
No other voice of any other
No other voice
comes to her tiny garden.
No rain
but stinging nettles,
and no other soul but hers, parched.
On the footpath, a blue cypress, unhurt.
Tall as a July sun, reaching.
Its own opal halo flung wide on the landscape.
Wild and bruised.
Bruises on the damp nature.
Far from the sound of the lure.
What was it she promised when she was an imaginative child
whispering hard at her own low window, mouth to that low
opening—was it to love? to be better than any sword?
curled at her air-slit in between the house-stones
no higher than her two hands—window no larger than
her face, burning?
There—  her sky—  there—  her sky—  its feral, cobalt voice,
and sun that tasted of young honey.
A girl called Joan who would ask a thousand times—
"To shut me out from the light of the sky?"
Who thought a nation
could be ordained.
Cypress. Crepuscule. Lamb. Blackout.
No other voice, a thousand times.
Like bees.
                                   (for Joan of Lorraine, her sky.

Margo Berdeshevsky

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Transformation: I achieve perspective and self-realization in writing a story and a poem

by James B. Thompson
I would like an astrologer to take a good look at progressions on my chart. In the past few weeks I've cracked two icebergs, two seeming impenetrables of my life. One concerns my mother's incessant and vainglorious illness; the other, less "major arcana" in intensity is about a comment a high school teacher wrote on an essay. Though it, too, is a clue into all that was happening and has happened.

In both cases I'll start with the inroad, the fissure, the spark, the aha!

Case 1, being Mom. Last night I re-edited a short story I've been submitting to journals for a while (I thought it was completed and it was). One publisher I'm interested in specified submissions be 3,000 words, so I decided to scrape off 150 words, or at least explore the possibility, and that meant a  careful close read.

The story is odd, no doubt about that. I posted a long rejection note here a few months ago concerning that very story and have received similar comments. As I reread I realized how dense and perhaps troubling the story is, and in my chipping away the 150 words, chose to at least slightly modify the story's Flannery O'Connor-like desire for expiation and mystery.  The protagonist, an adult woman, witnessed her mother's violent death and since then coped, lived a life of coping, was frozen, scrambling, searching.

And it so it hit, last night, me that while my own mother was inflicting herself with a slow Christian Science death, twenty years in the development phase and then another ten years once she (finally) allowed herself to be operated on, I would occasionally wonder, What is the effect on me?

There was no answer I could see, never an answer, all those years, although I never doubted the impact was huge.  So as Jean Maria Schwartz (the character) seeks to set the world in order, she reveals an eerie religiosity, a desire to be like St. Peter, deciding who goes where. She has never forgotten what she saw and neither have I. There is no end to the past's effect but once some understanding is attained the possibility of healing, which is transformation, appears. When I wrote the story I was so pleased it wasn't about me but more than most of my fiction it was.

Case 2.  I'd mentioned my favorite high school English teacher to a high school friend (now on Facebook, of course), and soon thereafter wrote a poem which starts with an imagined death from extreme circumstances, with a slight perspective on the afterlife as it relates to "my" family. And I ambled in my poeming to talk of this English teacher who once scribbled, "But what if I say I love you" on an essay. I didn't begin writing the poem with any thought of him.

Cynical as I was I never once considered his comment strange or "improper"--and it wasn't.  What I realized, finally, in creating the poem was that my teacher saw something amiss.  He'd met my parents more than once (I was in his class when I was a Freshman and then in his honors class Senior year).  He knew. He knew there was weirdness and some meanness at home.  He saw me five days a week .  And he was trying to help.

The story in question and the poem in question are far from being sentimental. Far far far.  But that I should understand so much about myself in so short a time--and this is what I do, think--is significant and, I hope, a signal of various events and actions and friends now in my life.

Writing isn't therapy and therapy is just a word and a fairly stupid one.  But for those of us in the ultimate self-realization fellowship (no play on wonderful Paramahansa Yogananda and his Fellowship). This kind of understanding is worth the price of admission (to life, being human). At least it is for me.

p.s. I am going to write a note to that editor who rejected the story. I may owe him an apology.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

When It Is Blue: Her new body: built now for water-- / sleek, streamlined--

And another Stangeland poem.  

(Joannie Stangeland & myself, being Sarah Sarai, will be reading, along with the New York/Parisian poet Margo Berdeshevsky, on Monday, March 12, 2012 at the Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village.  6 p.m.)

See yesterday's post, here, to read Joannie's "A Good Day (for a Miracle)."

When It Is Blue

First she found a lump no bigger than a pea
or a preposition—a small verb: to be.

The danger lies in conjugation
and the tenses—

is, are, would, could.
Will. She kept the will, a world.

I will, we will.
A synonym for tomorrow.

The shape of here is loss,
or a trade—flesh for life.

Her new body: built now for water—
sleek, streamlined—

a seal or a porpoise
(think of dolphins around the bow

as a schooner races along the coast
and the sails are full).

The wind makes a web on the water.
The body makes a plot.

The pain makes her tired. When
it is blue, the sky makes her sharp.
Joannie Stangeland, 2011

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Stangeland's "A Good Day (for a Miracle)" ... Mon., 3/12, 6 p.m. we read at Cornelia St. Cafe

Joannie Stangeland
Right off the bat I want to hear the backstory. It doesn't matter, of course, but "she," in this poem, is so strong and so situated by the female Global Positioning System which zeroes in on body, city, psyche, I am connected.

And then there's the fact I'll be reading with the author, Joannie Stangeland, in a little over a week.  On Monday, March 12, at 6 p.m., Joannie, Margo Berdeshevsky and I will read our poetry at the Cornelia St. Cafe.

(29 Cornelia Street between Bleecker and West 4th in Greenwich Village--Click here for specifics.)

Joannie is coming in from Seattle. Margo in from Paris. Both are former New Yorkers.  

Joannie’s new book, Into the Rumored Spring, is available from Ravenna Press. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks—A Steady Longing for Flight, which won the Floating Bridge Press chapbook award, and Weathered Steps from Rose Alley Press. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and on Seattle-area buses. She has been a Jack Straw Writer; teaches classes at Richard Hugo House in Seattle; and is the poetry editor for the online journal The Smoking Poet.

A Good Day (for a Miracle)

She feels the bodies of water, the bodies inside bodies, the water
inside her.
Sunlight softens the lagoon, the canals, a green glint. Sunlight
warms the mud.
Illness is messy and the body, a swamp. Life is messy,
and sometimes she feels
pain, less or more, like a souvenir, the guidebook with pictures,
narrow passages
on a map. She flexes, extends, her shoulder blades a pair
of bones like wings, her ribs,
and then her false ribs. She breathes the smell of spring. Quando
sogna di Venezia,
she crosses bridges, glides under them. She passes the Piazza
Ducale, the C’a d’Oro, Santa
Maria dei Miracoli. She lifts her arms—first one,
then the other, her arms and the wrists
that feather the oars. When she dreams of Venice, she feels
the spring inside her.
Joannie Stangeland, 2011