Saturday, October 29, 2005


A lot of you have heard me talk about The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and its lasting influence on me. I love to talk about it but sometimes I'm afraid I'll turn people off with my enthusiasm, come across too strong like I'm trolling campus on my bike, white shirt, black tie. So I'll let the book speak for itself to whomever feels open to it.

The reason I bring it up today--I just bought Tolle's new book, A New Earth, and it's
really good. I'm not surprised by the quality, but I am surprised he found more things to write about. His message is very simple and there's really not much to add to it, but his approach is much different than in Power of Now and he touches on different aspects of life, uses a lot more practical examples. Favorite quote so far: "The ego wants to want more than it wants to have."

Has anyone else out there read him?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Cutting it Close

Short notice, but for the poets out there The American Poetry Review /Honickman First Book Prize in Poetry has a deadline of...Monday.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Poem Six

Sad fact: All my photos from my trip a few years back are sitting in a box. I've
managed to label most of them, but haven't made time to put them in order. So disarray, and blah blah: I couldn't find the photo that inspired this one. You'll just need to trust me that the sign looked like it said "POOP Milk," and be satisfied with this lovely picture of a Kathakali dancer (which I didn't take).


Cochin, India

Shame's blush, he can guess Freud's
analysis for his impulse to snap a photo of
this open-front tin grocery shack's warped
sign advertising POOP milk.

Toilet humor flashback:
Kindergarten crack-ups, staticky
Chinese restaurant TV ads and
that glass of

hee hee, pee, please
one would certainly burst to not order
with their pu-pu platter.
And it doesn't matter, closer inspection,
the O's in POOP prove

actually D's
rounded by English's being
third of the sign painter's languages:

just lacks
that brightly smartass commentary demanded
by his pump dispenser of antibacterial
hand gel. Zoom lens, the shopkeeper's

face shifts in shadows
of sweltering bananas
he as a vegetarian
would never think to say resemble

sick hornets swarming
butchered chickens. Porous secrets:
Is everyone constantly,
unwittingly posed next to signage in a language

they can't even recognize
as a language?
Could the eight year old Iowan boy's
Spider Man birthday cake's frosting

blurt the crudest spider slur
for the female spider's sexual organ?

Yesterday in Johannesburg
wedding chapel incense
dirty plumes unfurled
a banner emblazoned with Holy Ghost for whore.

How our very own blemishes
sell us out
as good camping for cancers, billboards
doctors couldn't see with binoculars.

That 1970s book Body Language,
declarations of an earlobe's
furtive tug, the inverse relationship
between lies and lifted toes.

Last night's demonstration at a cultural center
revealed how every facial muscle is under
the Kathakali dancer's
full control.

Apprenticeship for years
to roll each eye in the opposite direction
of the other, eyebrows that can pass through walls.
How each twist of lip, wink of nostril, every

suggestion of
a shadow of some premonition of a wrinkle gains

meaning from the next
as in a quiz book Cryptogram,

each, over the ceremonial night's
hot course, revealed
as a balletic enunciation of a single
crystal syllable of

that epic tale of the air
in which we all turn to light.
The epic we don't sleep to keep telling each other,
unnoticed odors and subconscious slights.

secret communication as
we wonder why we seize up so often
with the nausea of restless suspense.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I had a great week last week (great enough to excuse my not blogging after posting a plea for people to not abandon blogging).

Here's what happened: For her 40th birthday JJS really wanted to surprise Momster, so he told her to reserve a weekend for a trip, but didn't tell her where they were going. She was thrilled to find out that the destination was NYC. A cool surprise, right? Well her jaw really dropped when her sister (my wife) and myself walked into the hotel bar... It was a sweet moment, and I was really honored to be a part of it. Picasso and Pollock and pork kidneys and the even-funnier-than-I-could've-imagined Spamalot: New York did not disappoint. And our friends there managed what we thought was impossible--they made it so we miss them even more now. They really stepped up, showed us all a time we'll never forget.

Whenever I go to New York I always get really inspired. All the cultural stimulation builds up because I never write on vacation and I find myself bursting with artistic confidence, thinking "Oh, poetry's easy! I can't wait to get back home and knock out a dozen quick ones..." Now that I've been back a few days I remember what always happens after I've been back a few days--nothin' special. I mean, the inspiration lingers, but I'm reminded that my particular process is anything but fast and flashy. No Action Painter, I. And now that the Colbert Reportis on (and funny--though I don't see how he'll keep it up)my day is a half hour shorter...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I dream of Bloggy

The other night I had my first dream about blogging (I also had a work dream wherein one of my clients from Relapse Prevention group--drugs and alcohol-- was at a party with me and told me he was going off to smoke dried boogers to get high. He said they were going to put some Scotch tape over the top of the pipe to get rid of that "academic" taste. I tried to tell him it wouldn't work, that I had known people who tried it, people who had also tried smoking toenails. My client insisted that those people just hadn't smoked enough boogers and that he intended to smoke those boogers until he was high, dammit!)Being about computers,it wasn't that exciting a dream. Actually, all I remember is going from blog to blog by clicking links and eventually coming back to the blog I had started from. I was overjoyed with the realization that all the blogs were connected by six degrees. This possibility thrills me in waking life as well. CF and I have had conversations about the internet being part of an emerging universal consciousness, and no matter your thoughts on that it does seem undeniable that something exciting is happening. Part of the intrigue for me is how quickly it's all started. Six months ago no one I knew had a blog. Then Dup, trailblazer that he is (see his purchase of an Mp3 player), got one, and within weeks I knew at least ten people with blogs. Crazy. Has any form of communication spread this quickly? Even email took longer, if I remember correctly. More importantly, has there ever been a more creative form of DIY mass communication? I personally know these two storytelling ... geniuses who have brought the serialized cliffhanger into the 21st century! And whoever said that freakin' slam poetry was the "savior of poetry" never dreamt of the blogosphere. Because if you hop around the links on poets' blogs enough, you'll experience my six degrees dream for real. And it's poetry that needs to stand the test of the page...well, the screen...the written word (not to degrade the slam scene--I had little actual contact with it--but it seemed to be more about performance than the quality of the words).

But now I'm afraid that this phenomenon is going to die as quickly as it started, and my first post's crack about Pet Rocks will prove true and bloggin' will be merely silly fad fodder for bad sitcoms in 2023. I hope not, but I'm noticing more and more time is lapsing between my friends' posts. Blade insists it's just the change of season--school, new jobs--and I hope she's right. Because like it or not we're living in cut-off times, and email and blogging can be vital ways to keep our social networks breathing. So, fellow blogger, take a moment now and post something...Just a little something...I'm checking out your blog ten times a day anyway...C'mon now...Throw a Pete a bone...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Last night CF and I were treated to an amazing show by Blackalicious. It was great to see Gift of Gab looking so happy, healthy, and inspired. The guy was radiating, simply beatific. Of all the great performances I’ve seen him and Chief Xcel put on this was the smoothest. Nice. But I do have to say I always feel a bit of the old dubiousness whenever one of these genius rappers says “Time to freestyle, yo!” and proceeds to spit out some flawlessly rhyming Homer-on-meth epic tale of charming boasts complete with comic twists and crowd-pleasing references to local landmarks. I just can not believe it’s
off the tops of their heads, and I usually spend the entire time trying to convince myself that my cynicism isn’t just envy. Just because I couldn’t improvise my way out of a beatnik bongo circle doesn’t mean that other people can’t. I mean, this is their job, right, and they probably get to practice a lot, like for hours everyday, and the DJ is lookin’ at him like he’s never heard it before sooo…
I’m wondering if other people experience such twinges of doubt. Do those of you who are actors just roll your eyes because there’s some trick taught in Improv 101 all the suckers (like me) are oblivious to? And what about you poets? Is your writing process just pen-management, keeping things legible as the words flood in dangerously fast? Or are you like me and you take an hour to write two lines, your notebooks ugly with cross-outs? Just curious.