Monday, August 29, 2022

If Ezekiel could see it, why not me

(A Chinese dwarf, courtesy of the Met; my alter ego) As a follow-up to my August 4 posting, I’ve done it, revisited my not-yet-published fiction. Deleted: several paragraphs on what a dumb schmuck I am. Yesterday I submitted one of the revived stories to a contest and charged the fee. Thank you, Chase. On the 21st of I sent off another of these revived stories. Not for a contest but there’s money if they take it. Two stories now out there, waiting. Last month I pulled together a novella I’d started again years ago. Found a reader who has a great eye. So now it’s ready to go asking for what it's worth. It's a delight. Two stories and a novella. Then a novel is collecting dust, all the dust there is in my Cloud. The one solid piece of advice I was given in grad school was: Leave New York. I don't belong here. I never have. I wonder if I'd feel better about my work if I'd moved. I'll be back to this blog in September. Ezekiel? Read the skies. Was he in pain?

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Words and their heftier cousins...invited to the writing party


You tell me.

Reviving drafts of unfinished short stories which is proving to be enormously rewarding. And by rewarding I mean I'm diggin' the words. The current drafts are just that - fiction that's unfinished or finished but not polished. Stores not new to the party, such as the writing party is. Well, obviously the cellar's been dug and the foundation laid so there's that. Yeah. Stop. Okay.

I haven't sent one of the previously unpublished (and now reworked) stories out yet, mainly because there are few and when the few are gone ... girl, they'll be gone. They'll be gone, girl.

We're talking two or three new stories one of which is novella-like. It's like a novella because it is one.

Some days I am up against depression. It throws me to the ground and holds me down with vicious glee. The counteractive to depression is joy.

Repeat: The counteractive is joy. Words and their heftier cousins, sentences, are joy. New and reworked and working on reworking. Joy. Sarah Sarai 8/4/22

a hefty cousin

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Ahab's tale never gets old. Changes by way of perspective.


Ahab's white whale, courtesy of the NYTimes.

The Avoirdupois Chic

More than once did he put forth the faint blossom of a look, which, in any other man, would have soon flowered out in a smile. – Melville

My depraved indifference to death
sets Ahab to thumping his peg
against my leg so we’ll perchance into
that which precedes an heir bearing
his bi-syllabic surname on banners bright
through the belly of the whale warm as
mutton and potatoes tea towel-topped.
If you can’t bear a son, at least a splinter
Mr. Ahab says, for use against blubbery
blowhard though how, you might puzzle.
No intimate to his intricacies am I
who harbor soft-spots for heavyweights
fat as concubines, the avoirdupois chic.
Given the length of a life in nautical miles
there’s hardly time for history to congeal
for the slain to raise kin underskin the
abandoned to banshee dreams as locust
swoop hover and hum desert-side
Ahab Uno’s tent on palmy summer eves.
Ecstasy is all it’s cracked up to be,
insufficient, a means to a cul-de-sac.
Are locust merely in love with love?
Starting soon, let’s no longer be afraid.
The locust are at the door, dear. 
Well, set a plate for the happy couples! 
Tomorrow Ahab goes with his gut,
with its celiac flora.  Sing a seafaring
song of fish fingers, ladies, avast! ahoy!
Childhood fosters the eternal orphan.
God wants what God wants.
You, my dear Ahab, merely want,
though That Can Change, a sea battle
dispatch, a motto conceived of
circumstance and truth, life’s sequels,
now ebooks or available for download
at a workstation near me.  Near you.

by Sarah Sarai. first published in Berfrois in 2011.

Berfrois ( remains a remarkable amalgam of idea, narrative, poetry, perspective, philosophy, natural history, science, art, architecture, you-name-it-ism. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

In the year of covid-fear all the hairs on my head turned shock-white ... #poem

Is March 1 a special day? Do we prank each other? In Arts class do we begin construction of a 15-day calendar to note the advent of the Ides of March. Any day, every day, anyone can be betrayed, being the theme?

The antidote to betrayal is to keep your expectations low. Don't convince yourself that today is the day your lottery ticket rings a bell. Don't assume that today, today, your luck is amping up and you will meet a gorgeous kind generous fertile not-fertile mate of any persuasion. The earth keeps moving. Most often, when you smile at someone they will not report you to the police. Somewhere, some child is happy. 

I'm ignoring the ruthless man in Russia.

Back to me. I showed up here to wish everyone a day of hope. Yeah, hope can be a killer of tender dreams, but we need it. This weirdo, me, is less tuned into hope, a future fantasy - not to be turned away but the now. The now. Whatever they're doing the clouds are astounding in their visual brilliance. Clear skies. Atmospheric struggles between pollution and clean air aside, there are pigeons. Always there are pigeons, plump and strutting, at least here in N.Y.C. If pigeons have earned an attitude of superiority and desire to parade their chubby selves, so can I. (I don't know why that's true. Let's pretend it is.)

I had a poem published in February, one I shall herein, here and now, share with you. It's about a painful swath of my life. About hope and persistence. Pulling away from pain. Moving on. One friend called it a "hair poem." Okay. Not really. Whatever you want.


In the year of covid-fear all the hairs on my head turned shock-white, all white, only white."

Read "Shock-White" on the gorgeous and historical site, Big City Lit. I love the editors - Alyssa Yankwitt, Christopher Cappeluti, Barry Wallenstein, Richard Levine - who took over from Nick (Nicholas Johnson), who I loved also. Everyone loved. 

Everyone loves. Yes, we can all love. Don't have to admit it. Just enjoy. We're all forgiven every day.

Friday, February 11, 2022

For the Children of Poets #poem by G.E. Schwartz


John Milton and his two daughters, one of whom,
Deborah, I believe, is not looking thrilled with time spent taking dictation,
even if her learned father is dictating Paradise Lost. Artist: George Romney, 1794.

For the Children of Poets

Children of poets, how do you find Your haven? Maybe you escape to

     A cousin’s or some other place? If There are two homes, off and on,

Separately (the parents’), would you Be directed by where you have little

     But private stress to cope with? (With Her mother away, Deborah Milton

Had to be used, by ear and by pen Especially, at her alternate home.

     Imagine, in the dark deeps of night, The blind poet, her father, haplessly

Rounding with a surge of line upon Line till he could bear no burdening

     Anymore, and at four-thirty a. m., The hired secretary ill, unavailable!)

You heard, and wrote: a process by-Passing mind, or heart, I’d guess. Did

     Sister Mary, too, have to learn Hebrew, Latin, other languages, he wanted

Read aloud? Children of dust, the call Can come at harsh hours, disrupting

     The sleep of nature. The voice must Be heeded, the unfathomable words

Forming at best a promise that, in Some way, someday, everything will

     Come into clarity. Warm-hearted Samuel Johnson must have been so

Exasperated on your behalf, saying That you had ben schooled only in

     Alphabets and sounds of all those Languages, not in the words, their

Meanings that might have made all The long hours a little less wearisome.

     Children, sleep well while all time Runs on. Rise, docile, dim of spirit.

Someday someone sometime will bless you for it.

_ _ _

G.E. Schwartz. "For the Children of Poets" first appeared in Dappled Things, and is included in G.E. Schwartz' collection Murmurations (Foothills Publishing, ISBN: 978-0-951053-32-4;

Monday, February 7, 2022

Climate Change and Your Nerves

 Climate Change and Your Nerves

East River Park where 400 trees were cut down
& mulched to make way for an environmentally dangerous development
of fancy apts. Same old same old. [photo by Sarah Sarai]

Last Tuesday my weekly talk group - all of us senior and queer - hit the subject of feeling anxious about climate change - are we?/aren't we? anxious. And our guilt and fear, right-now fear and right-now guilt related to climate change and its inevitable impact on that thing ahead of us: The Future. Did we stop it? No. Many of us, to some degree or another, tried, ie, recycled and sometimes boycotted. If you have tried to mollify the planet or if you haven't, it's coming. We agreed we had the anxiety and probably each of us thought more about the messed up Earth awaiting us. The messed up Earth here and now. That giant iceberg that's about to break free. Birds. Always birds. Often cats, too. 

So I was relieved to read a very relevant article by reporter Ellen Barry in the New York Times (monthly subscription costs $4!). Here's the first few paras from Climate Change Enters the Therapy Room.

PORTLAND, Ore. — It would hit Alina Black in the snack aisle at Trader Joe’s, a wave of guilt and shame that made her skin crawl.

Something as simple as nuts. They came wrapped in plastic, often in layers of it, that she imagined leaving her house and traveling to a landfill, where it would remain through her lifetime and the lifetime of her children.

She longed, really longed, to make less of a mark on the earth. But she had also had a baby in diapers, and a full-time job, and a 5-year-old who wanted snacks. At the age of 37, these conflicting forces were slowly closing on her, like a set of jaws.

In the early-morning hours, after nursing the baby, she would slip down a rabbit hole, scrolling through news reports of droughts, fires, mass extinction. Then she would stare into the dark. con't.

Yeah. The thought of mass extinction will do that to you.

I would expect that only the captains of industry who push denial like it's soft serve ice cream consider climate change it's a momentary blip. Or believe their fortresses will protect them. Which they won't. God could but God never seems to step in until ten million or sixty million people have been slaughtered. And even then... Anyone's guess. So I recommend you read the article. Here's a little more to bide you over:

It was for this reason that, around six months ago, she searched “climate anxiety” and pulled up the name of Thomas J. Doherty, a Portland psychologist who specializes in climate.

A decade ago, Dr. Doherty and a colleague, Susan Clayton, a professor of psychology at the College of Wooster, published a paper proposing a new idea. They argued that climate change would have a powerful psychological impact — not just on the people bearing the brunt of it, but on people following it through news and research. At the time, the notion was seen as speculative.

That skepticism is fading. Eco-anxiety, a concept introduced by young activists, has entered a mainstream vocabulary. And professional organizations are hurrying to catch up, exploring approaches to treating anxiety that is both existential and, many would argue, rational.

Again, from the Times.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Gilded Age on HBO - scrapes off the gild to reveal plywood

Madison Square Park, photo by Sarah Sarai
I am most unhappy with the first episode of "The Gilded Age," a Julian Fellowes-written jam which is very silly and very white. My HBO subscription ends in a few hours, so this was my farewell and no problem there. 

This first-of-the-series episode is a fitting send off (to the demise of my subscription).  There were many complaints with HBO's The Wire - that it was a white writer's impression of a black city (Baltimore) and a black struggle (Baltimore). That is my perspective of "The Gilded Age" - that it is very very very white and remarkably uninventive in being so. Despite the one young black woman who is a struggling writer. Perhaps her struggle will be representative of the times but why bother representing those times? Why use the history of racism as an excuse to further racism? 

And why such a pallid portrayal of the nouveau riche? Hallelujah and thank you, lord, two great and interesting actresses brightened the screen. Christine Baranski as an old school white lady richie rich. And, briefly so far, Audra McDonald as the mother of Baranski's new secretary. (There is no situation or script on God's earth that could not be bettered by Baranski and/or McDonald.) 

The plot is pallid. Carrie Coon, an actress I dislike (her expressionless face creeps me out - has done so since Fargo [the t.v. show], is the striver in this series. A monied wife who has a house built on Fifth - across from Central Park - as her Cape Canaveral to launch herself into old New York society. Her architect is the great Stanford White but apparently his name means nothing to the first families of New York. New York has always had snobs spinning its social circles with a circus clown's panache. And, yes, snobs are delightful when they are Baranski aided by some of the mustachio twirling men in the series. 

In the final scene of Episode 1, the Carrie Coon character, an arriviste, insists she's going to make the snobs of New York admire her or come to her parties. THAT's the issue? Sounds like a Father Knows Best episode with Kitten scrunching her 10-year-old face to reveal gumption. It would work better if Reese Witherspoon were the pushy broad determined to get through Harvard Law. 

I live in NYC and it is mundo snob-o-licious. It is awful here, in fact, IF you harbor a desire to fit in. Which I stupidly did. Because there are no accommodations for weirdos like me (a simple country lass with no money and a quick tongue). I'll talk about that sometime when my thinking portions are up to par. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Captain Snowpants: Vermont School Kids Name Their Snowplows

Last November, Vermont school kids got to name their local snowplow. Click below for the news story and below the below, read the names, i.e., William Scrape-speare, The Plowinator, Brr-ito, JFK Snow You Didn't, Darth Blader, Captain Snowpants

Vermont grammar school kids name their snowplow, 2021

Academy SchoolBrattleboroAstro
Albany Community School AlbanyWolf Tracks
Allen Brook School WillistonSalty
Bakersfield Elementary and Middle School BakersfieldJennifer Snowpez
Barnet Elementary SchoolBarnetStorm Breaker
Barre Town Middle/Elementary SchoolBarreSnow Destroyer
Barstow Memorial SchoolChittendenFrostbite
Barton Graded SchoolBarton Eye of the Tiger
Bennington Elementary SchoolBenningtonSnowy the Plow
Berlin Elementary SchoolBerlinYo Bro, No Snow
Bethel Elementary SchoolBethelPlowtron
Bishop John A. Marshall SchoolMorristownSnowbegone Kenobi
Blue Mountain Union School NewburyBMU Monster Buck
Bradford Elementary School BradfordBlizzard Wizard
Braintree Elementary SchoolBraintreeCaptain Snowmerica
Brewster Pierce Memorial SchoolHuntingtonYogi
Bridge SchoolMiddleburyPlowy McPlowFace
Bridport Central School BridportSpooky the Square Pumpkin
Bristol Elementary SchoolBristolCaptain Snowpants
Brookfield Elementary School BrookfieldOle Bessy
Brookside Primary School WaterburyBrookside Beast
Brownington Central SchoolBrowningtonThe BCS Beast
Burke Town School West BurkeFrosty's Demise
C.P. Smith Elementary SchoolBurlingtonStorm Slayer
Calais Elementary SchoolPlainfieldThe Calais Snow Cat
Cambridge Elementary School JeffersonvilleBaby Snowda
Camels Hump Middle SchoolRichmondPlower Power
Castleton Elementary SchoolBomoseenStardust
Central Elementary SchoolBellows FallsThe Maple Machine 
Champlain Elementary SchoolBurlingtonThe Snowlebrator
Charleston Elementary School West Charleston Dorito
Chelsea Public SchoolChelseaKirby
Christ the King SchoolBurlingtonCarl
Concord SchoolConcordPumpkin
Cornwall SchoolCornwallThe Snow Eagle
Currier Memorial SchoolDanbySnow Hunter
Danville SchoolDanvilleBlizzard
Davis Community SchoolSouth BurlingtonSnowy the Snowlifter
Derby Elementary School Derby LineTiger Force
Doty Memorial SchoolWorcesterSnow Pickle
Echo Valley Elementary SchoolWashingtonSnow Wolf
Eden Central School EdenBrr-rito
Edmunds Elementary SchoolBurlingtonTimberwolf
Essex Elementary SchoolEssexScoop
Fayston Elementary School WaitsfieldSnow Day Crusher
Ferrisburgh Central School FerrisburgMidnight
Fisher Elementary School ArlingtonSnow Day Reaper
Flood Brook Elementary Londonderry The Mighty Snow Tiger
Founders Memorial School Essex JunctionIce Claw
Franklin Elementary SchoolFranklinPlow-A-Tron 6,000
Georgia Elementary School GeorgiaSnow Dragon
Gertrude Chamberlin SchoolSouth BurlingtonChamberlin Chomper
Good Shepherd Catholic School St. JohnsburyArctic Angel
Grafton Elementary School GraftonSnow Panther
Halifax Elementary SchoolHalifaxMidnight Monster
Hardwick Elementary school HardwickThe Snow Bobcat
Hartford High SchoolWhite River JunctionSnowicane
Harwood Middle SchoolMoretown Snow Day Dream Crusher
Head Start - N. Bennington North Bennington Pumpkin the Plow Truck
Head Start - Pownal CenterPownalSnowdigger
Head Start - Spring Center  BenningtonSnowasaurus
Hiawatha Elementary SchoolEssex JunctionCrystal Royalty
Highgate Elementary SchoolHighgateThe Ice Crusher
Hiland Hill SchoolBenningtonDucky
Homeschooling StudentBradfordScrapes the Snowplow
Homeschooling StudentsRiptonWilliam Scrape-speare
Hyde Park Elementary SchoolHyde ParkSnow Hawk
Irasburg Village School IrasburgThunder
Jamaica Village SchoolJamaicaVermont Bob
Jericho Elementary SchoolJerichoSnow Day Stopper
JFK Elementary School WinooskiJFK Snow You Didn't
Killington Elementary SchoolKillingtonSnowday Buster
Lake Champalin Waldorf SchoolShelburneIce Will Pay the Price
Lakeview Elementary SchoolGreensboroSnow Dog
Lowell Graded SchoolLowellSnow-manator
Ludlow Elementary SchoolLudlowGet Out of My Way!
Lunenburg SchoolLunenburgThe Lion's Snow Destroyer
Lyndon Town SchoolLyndonvilleSnow Buddy
Maple Street SchoolManchester CenterMaple Snow Racer
Mettawee Community SchoolWest PawletMettawee Mountain Mover
Mid Vermont Christian SchoolHartfordDarth Blader
Middletown Springs Elementary SchoolMiddletown SpringsTiny Tim
Miller's Run School SheffieldSnowy Joey
Milton Elementary SchoolMiltonMilton Mike
Molly Stark Elementary School Bennington Molly's Snowdragon 
Monument Elemetary SchoolBenningtonHot Cocoa
Moretown Elementary SchoolMoretownSnowbuster
Morristown Elementary SchoolMorrisvilleSnowy Wolf Pup
Mountain River SchoolMorristownSnow Runner
Neshobe Elementary SchoolBrandon Ice Ice Baby
Newark Street SchoolNewarkFearless Frosty
NewBrook Elementary School NewfaneMr. Plower
Newbury Elementary School NewburySnowflake: The Knight Plow
Newton School South StraffordRumble
North Hero School North HeroSteve 
Northeast Primary School RutlandPAWS
Oak Grove School BrattleboroMr. Frost
Okemo Mountain SchoolLudlowSnow Big Deal
Open Fields SchoolThetfordPlowdypus
Orchard SchoolSouth BurlingtonObi-Wan KenSNOWbi
Orleans Elementary School OrleansThe Night Owl
Pacem SchoolMontpelierEdgar Allen Snow
Porters Point SchoolColchesterArctic Blaze
Pownal Elementary SchoolPownalMr. Pushy
Randolph Elementary SchoolRandolphBob the Plower
Readsboro Central SchoolReadsboroThe 'Boro Beast
Red Cedar SchoolBristolSnow Blade
Richford Elementary SchoolRichfordFlurry
Rick Marcotte Central SchoolSouth BurlingtonMighty Moose
Robinson Elementary SchoolStarksboroSnowy Chicken 
Rumney Memorial SchoolMiddlesexSnowfight
Rutland Area Christian SchoolRutlandRACS Snow Destroyer
Rutland Intermediate School RutlandLuke Snow Walker
Saint Francis Xavier School WinooskiSnowbusters
Saxtons River Elementary School Saxtons RiverArctic Fox
Shaftsbury Elementary SchoolShaftsburySalty Eagle
Shelburne Community SchoolShelburneShelburne Blizzard
Shelburne Nursery SchoolShelburne Ice Breaker
Shrewsbury Mountain SchoolShrewsburySub Zero
South Royalton Elementary SchoolSouth RoyaltonWildcat Winter
St. Johnsbury School St. JohnsburySnowflake Dently
St. Monica-St. Michael School BarreFrosty the Snowplow
St. Paul's Catholic SchoolBartonFlurry the Snow Cow
Stowe Elementary SchoolStowePolarplow
Summit Street SchoolEssex JunctionCrystal
Sustainability AcademyBurlingtonSnowcrusher
Sutton SchoolSuttonSutton Cats Rule the Road
Swanton Elementary SchoolSwantonMaple Creemee Cruiser
The Barn SchoolWestfordBlizzard Lizzard
The Dover SchoolEast DoverThe Orange Snow Peeler
The Elmore SchoolElmoreSnowy Owl 
The Mountain School at Winhall BondvilleSnow Place Like Home 
The Riverside SchoolLyndonvillePlowser
The School of Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales BenningtonPerry the Plowerpus
Thetford Elementary School ThetfordSnowy
Thomas Fleming SchoolEssex JunctionMr. Plowington
Tinmouth Mountain SchoolTinmouthPlow-Cow
Trinity Baptist SchoolWillistonSnow Shadow
Troy SchoolNorth TroyThe Plowinator
Tunbridge Central School Tunbridge Snow on the Go
Underhill Central SchoolUnderhill CenterThe White Fox
Union Elementary SchoolMontpelierStorm
Union Memorial School ColchesterEverest
United Christian AcademyNewportSnow Plowie
Vergennes Union Elementary SchoolVergennesGlacier
Vermont Commons SchoolSouth BurlingtonShellington
Vermont Day School ShelburneSnow Magic
Vermont Virtual Learning CooperativeMorrisvilleVinnie's VTVLC Pack
Waits River Valley SchoolEast CorinthSnow Chomper
Waitsfield Elementary SchoolWaitsfieldThe Frost Walker
Walden SchoolWaldenSnow McQueen 
Wardsboro Elementary School WardsboroStorm Trooper
Warren Elementary School Warren Sweeping Beauty
Waterville Elementary SchoolWatervilleBlizzard Bessy
Weathersfield Elementary SchoolAscutneyBig Bessie
West Rutland SchoolWest RutlandOrange Bolt
Westford Elementary SchoolWestfordMcNugget
Westminster Center SchoolWestminster Green Mountain Plower
Williston Central SchoolWillistonPowder Pusher 
Windham Elementary SchoolWindhamSlip Sliding Safety Service
Wolcott Elementary SchoolWolcottSuper Snow Storm
Woodford Hollow Elementary SchoolWoodfordWoodford Sands