Monday, March 28, 2005

More precious time has been spent with the folks. I posted a few choice pics below. Today we take it easy. I have a lot to do and a very short amount of time to do it in. I must get my paperwork in line, my thoughts gathered, my money withdrawn, and down the line. I must do laundry and pack too before making the trek to Missoula to meet up with Brandon Shimoda and Co. who will taxi me to Vancouver BC tomorrow morning. And I have to work all night tonight, and sleep all day today. Still I think we'll fit in a dinner somewheres with my family. They leave tomorrow morning after I head westbound.

I feel a little unprepared for AWP. This'll be my first one. There is so much I want to do and so many people I want to meet. I'm afraid my lack of any solid itenerary will hurt those chances. I'll be involved in a panel on online poetry magazines Thursday at 12. You should check it out and ask a few good questions if you're interested. I'm a bit nervous about that, but I'll be in good company (Jake Adam York, Dan Albergotti, Adam Clay, and Matt Henriksen).

I think this'll be the last post until after Vancouver. So, enjoy your week. I hope to see you there. I'll meet you back here on Monday.

We were caught up in a bison herd for a bit. I felt our vehicle was truly accepted by the bison as one of their own. Posted by Hello

I turn 28 next Wednesday.  Posted by Hello

Me, my sister, and my mom (Tony, my mom says hello) in front of Mammoth hot springs. Posted by Hello

An elk next to two human females. Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 26, 2005

My lovely family is in town from Iowa. This puts a bit of a damper on my Octopus #5 progress, in case you were wondering. It has completely shut down, actually. So it is more likely #5 will appear after my return from Vancouver. Nearly everything is in, but these creative matters are not to be, and should not be, rushed.

Since I work overnights, I haven't slept but for a few hours in the past three days. I must host these kin. We've been skiing. My dad learned for the first time yesterday. Today we are going to Yellowstone National Park in hopes of seeing some buffalo and, my favorite Yellowstone animal, the mountain goat on an impossibly steep rock wall. We'll also see some waterfalls, and probably grab a steamy dip at Chico Hot Springs on the way back.

If you want to see some pictures, here you go:

Sister and Sam. Grrrrr. Posted by Hello

My mom and A. I told A to make like she was coughing and my mom to act concerned. I have a vision. It must not be questioned. Also: we like Baked Ruffles and Coca-Cola products. Posted by Hello

Myself and my sister. In the background are the Crazy Mountains. These are named after a lady who, back in the day, killed and ate are silver miners for nourishment. At least, that is what I tell everyone. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

MLB Forecast

Less than two weeks until baseball starts up. I wanted to document my picks, just in case.

AL East

New York
Boston - (wc)
Tampa Bay

AL Central

Kansas City

AL West

Anaheim (or is it LA now?)

NL East

New York

NL Central

St. Louis
Chicago - (wc)

NL East

San Diego
Los Angeles
San Fransisco

AL Series

New York v Anaheim

NL Series

St. Louis v San Diego

World Series

St. Louis over Anaheim


Albert Pujols

AL Cy Young

Randy Johnson

NL Cy Young

Mark Prior

Monday, March 21, 2005

Ever take it off any sweet jumps?

A and I went to the police auction on Saturday. It was wonderful. It was the first time either of us had been active participants in any type of auction--and were both a bit nervous about the situation. What I know about auctions comes from that episode of the Cosby's where they all go to buy some African American art, and Cliff ends up inadvertantly bidding on a piece after scratching his head, or something as bonejarringly hilarious as that. Anyway, we were both sure to keep our hands at our sides at all times.

We went with the intention of buying a pleasure vehicle--we had 100 dollars to burn and wanted something we could put some liability insurance on and drive to the grave in mountains. We had our eye on the International Scout or the Mitsubishi Montero. Turns out, all were roughed up pretty badly, all this terror, this criminal wake still inside. Each radio was missing. Only 4 of them still had keys. One still had a hard cheeseburger on the passenger seat. We ended up deciding to bid on a bicycle instead.

When the auctioneer guy came to the bike I wanted no one was bidding on it. This surprised me because it was pretty killer. The guy was like "who'll give a dollar for it?" so I raised my two shaky fingers. The assistant guy said "hup!". Then A hit my shoulder and said, "What are you doing?" Turns out I bid on the wrong bike. I was so embarrassed. I had to play it off like I meant to bid on it. It was a real piece of shit too. A rusted out huffy without a chain. I felt a little better when A made an impulse bid on a bike for herself a few minutes later. No one was bidding on it, and despite the fact we hadn't studied it beforehand, she thought it would make for a nice ride. Turns out, it didn't have any brakes. Made me feel a little better.

I ended up getting a sweet Mongoose Hilltopper (pictured above) for 3 bucks. Real cherry. Shocks. Pegs. Lucky. We left the other two bikes behind, ripped the numbers off so no one could trace them back to our names. We didn't realize until later that the Mongoose wouldn't fit in the car. I had to ride it home. In the cold. 3.38 miles. Posted by Hello

Friday, March 18, 2005

Got the stick from both Jake and Adam. I guess I have to answer some questions. Here goes:

You're stuck inside Farenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

Farentheit 451

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Montana Wildhack, Sula, Ms. Piggy

Last book you bought is:

Michael E Craig's Can You Relax in My House

Last book you read:

John Ashbery's Hotel Lautreamont

What are you currently reading?

Dave Eggers' You Shall Know Our Velocity

(More than)5 books I would take to a deserted island:

Book of matches
Catcher in the Rye
Complete Wallace Stevens
Complete Prose of Woody Allen
Book full of food and water
Tony Tost's Invisible Bride
Leaves of Grass
Porn (am I alone on this island?)
Simic's Voice at 3 a.m.
Tate's Memoir of the Hawk
Ginsberg's Howl
Grover's Monster at the End of the Book
Jose Canseco's book of lies/plea for attention/truth
Moby Dick
Choose Your Own Adventure

Who am I going to pass this stick on to and why:

C.S. Carrier - because he obviously needs something to post about
Heidi Lynn Staples - because I like her fancy talk
Katey Nicosia - because the girl gets to choose between Iowa and New School. She must have things to say.

I'm out.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

St. Patty's Sports Day

I got a box of triscuits and a bottle of spray cheese--some fudgecicles waiting in the freezer--and a morning of ESPN's coverage of MLB steriod hearings ahead of me. Then I'll sleep (I work overnights), then it's Creighton vs. West Virginia tonight when I wake. A is a Creighton grad. So my our cheers will be for the bluejays.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

#5 Teaser

Issue #5 is nearing. I can see the ripples on the pond. This issue ain't playin'. Designer Denny is doing his designer thing. I'm making sure all those experimental floating poetic phrases have the proper indentation (to the nanometer!). And we're waiting on a few valuable holdouts to trickle in. Anyway, it's big and it's bad and it'll be here before April. You should be a little nervous.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Horse Less Press told me to get the word out: they're looking for some great poems for the second issue of their review. You should send them something.

And check out the new, always beautiful, Tarpaulin Sky.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

New Lakes Reading Series de-briefing

I'm back from Missoula, from the New Lakes Reading Series, and am battling a bad case of the flu. But I must blog. I must take advantage of these few minutes not devoted to the bathroom or the bed.

The reading went really well. I'm still a little high from it, actually. Jonathan Minton, my co-reader and editor of Word for/Word, read from a terrific set of poems. His style and mine, both poetically and in our reading, are very different from each other which allowed for an interesting contrast I think. Oddly enough, we both seem to share a pretty similar taste in poetry we enjoy and in poetry we select for our respective magazines.

I don't get the chance to read very often. It was odd hearing the poems--hearing my own voice attached to them. I couldn't help hearing them from the audience's perspective. I found myself reacting differently, with the audience, to a few words/phrases that hadn't pulled that reaction from me before. Hearing the poems being read aloud to an audience gave me a different appreciation for the poems. And Jonathan and I got a fairly friendly reception from the 30 or so mostly MFAers and teachers afterwards, which always helps boost the ego a bit: "Oh thanks so much...what's that? You want to talk about me some more?"

Jonathan, Adam Golaski, and Brandon Shimoda, and I went out for drinks that night, talked more po-biz. I don't get the chance to indulge in that conversation too often--it felt good. Usually when I talk po-biz I have to force it upon the unwilling. They were great with Octopus advice, suggestions for reading and mag solicitation, flattery, etc. Brandon, especially, has planted a few seeds in my head.

Brandon and his girlfriend, Amy, made great hosts. Shared their lovely apartment, their couch (Jonathan had to sleep on the floor because I won a coin flip.), their top-notch book collection, their beer, good conversation; Brandon even made me some ginger tea when I told him I was feeling a bit ill (I managed to force nearly half of it down before hitting the road sick and tired--I think it may have helped). We also managed to squeeze in a good breakfast and Adam showed me around town--took me to a bookstore and killer record store.

A big thanks goes to Brandon for the invite. I'm flattered and glad to have met him and others. Glad to have a few more connects.

Here, I took some pictures.

Me reading. Perhaps something brilliant. Posted by Hello

Jonathan reading some of his work.  Posted by Hello

Brandon is the brains and the brawn behind the New Lakes Reading series. Here he is overcoming a battle with the flu to introduce myself and Jonathan. He couldn't have been a better host. Posted by Hello

The crowd just after the performance, mingling, recovering. In the foreground is the horror editor of New Genre, fine writer, and one of my gracious hosts, Adam Golaski, and his friend, Liz. Posted by Hello

Jonathan and Brandon discussing something very important. They are both searching for change. Jonathan is enjoying a can of Pabst. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

I like your sleeves. They're real big. Posted by Hello

Friends of mine. Makes me wanna make a bunch of boondoggles and get out the vote.  Posted by Hello

A Zoo of a Manuscript

I'm still tinkering with The Man Suit. I've been noticing recently the number of animals in the poems. So, I decided to make a tally. I didn't count an animal more than once for the same poem. Goes like this:

Mammal type animals, with hair or wool:
bears 3
elk 1
horses 1
gorillas 1
sheep 1

Little rodenty type animals:
squirrels 1
rabbits 1

Animals with the gift of flight, or non-flight birds:
owls 3
chickens 2
swans 1
crows 1
doves 1
canaries 1

Animals that hang out under water most of the time:
whales 2
sharks 1

Buggy-type animals:
spiders 2
mosquitoes 2
bees 2
crickets 2
flies 1

Sometimes, when I don't know how to finish up a poem, I'll just have a bear maul the hell out of somebody. I do it often, then throw the poem away. One of the poems though made it in. It's called the "Bear Mutilation" and you can soon read it in Parakeet.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Rock 'n' Roll poet set list

Starting to think about my set list for my big New Lakes Reading Series reading on Thursday in Missoula. I figured it might be best to hit 'em with the more narrative-driven, short and punchy ones with the big payoffs. Those'll be easy to focus upon. Here's what I'm thinking:

1. A Band of Owls Moved Into Town
2. If Great Lakes
3. What Everyone Started Wearing
4. I'm Not Carlos
5. The Monster Hour
6. [Opera Singer]

Those should do the trick. The last one is longer and a bit heavier. Jonathan Minton will be reading also and we're both going to read from our mags (his being word for/word). I'm going to read two from the upcoming Octopus #5: Craig Morgan Teicher's "Nights" and Jennifer L. Knox's "Poster in the Waiting Room: Phantom Arm"

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Saw a student production of Lysistrata tonight. It was so bad/boring I wanted to cry. I found myself seeing how long I could hold my breath--I almost got to two minutes once.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Anon from the comment box asked me how long it takes me to write a poem, and if I could speak a bit about my process. Thanks, Anon, for caring, and I will oblige because I like to talk about myself.

I typically write a poem in two stages. The first stage being the preparation of the dough. I'll have an idea--maybe a concept, a few words, a line, a last line, or an opening line--and I'll knead that idea, roll it, etc, do all the things you need to do it before sticking it in the oven. Sometimes these ideas will sit on the shelf for quite a while. I have an entire MS Word pages with a mess of undeveloped ideas. When I have an idea, I'll just stick it on this page and let it sit there for a while and I'll come back to the page and starting writing on it. If I have something I like, I'll cut and paste it from that page. It usually ends up in a completely different place than the idea or line I started with. Here's a short little excerpt of yet unused words from my mess of an idea page:

I finally found my twin in a coconut palm

Having to spend one night with Wong is bad
But try floating in the open sea.

You have an eyelash in your eye. Hold still.

When I touched her navel I could make out my spot in the boat. Just under her ribs were some trees in the wind.

Who’s your favorite president? Mine’s Lincoln

I was mostly cobwebs.

You dig a grave below the window. I’ll push the corpse out.

Let’s watch the DVD
that came with your hair-
clipper set.

You tell me to chill and I do,
But only about 4/9 of the way.

There are about 25 pages of this. It takes me as little as 30 minutes to as much as 2 hours I'd say to get a good first draft pounded out. These are very fun moments for me. Time speeds way up. Once I feel good about it, I'll get super excited and read it about 20 times to myself. Then I'll stick it in the oven to bake over night.

Stage 2 is me thinking the poem needs a little work. A day removed, I'll be able to point out weak spots. Things that don't belong, or things that should be added. This often takes as long as stage 1.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Richard Siken from Spork sent me a very insightful letter regarding my poems. It's rare that an editor will spend enough time to tell me exactly what works and what doesn't, but Richard obviously spent a good deal of time on mine. He was very honest. He told me what I do well, what he thinks I need to develop, and what I am no good at. My response:


First off: The Monster Hour, Where I Go at Night, and What Everybody Started Wearing are yours for Spork and I’ve included them here, in their final (Spork-current) incarnations.

Secondly, thank you for your honesty. Your commentary has made it difficult for me to get to sleep lately. It is rare that I get the chance to read such insightful feedback, or any kind of feedback. I write my poems, and I am their only evaluator, more or less. I think many of them suffer for that (and I think a few of them are better off perhaps). But your words have come at exactly the right moment. I’m going through some difficult times, poetry-wise. As the editor of Octopus, I’ve been reading some gorgeous poems that come in that are nothing like my own. In fact, there’s a lot of stuff I love so much that doesn’t share the least bit of commonality with my poems. As you know, I’ve been tinkering and experimenting, in order to write better poems. Those experiments are the ones you said “don’t do much at all”. And they don’t. I can see that now—I just needed someone to say it I think. I let my wife, Allison, read your letter last night and she said something that really hit me. She said I should quit trying to make my poems different and like other poems that I admire so much, and start focusing on what I already do well and develop that, make that great. That goes along with your comment about me choosing to scribble, or choosing to be something real, somebody people may flock to. Your letter has begun to, and will as time goes on, really shake things up for me. I have a new perspective. I’m beginning to really love the poems that I naturally do well. I want to make them better. My manuscript, The Man Suit, is going to get some closer attention now and go through a few changes. I hope presses like it enough as is now since it is being read at many places, and are willing to accept some changes upon publication, if it ever comes to that (let’s hope). The Man Suit has no line breaks, but I will be looking closely at props and little words. There are a lot of props, but I know some of them are important. They’re not just desperate spice, but embed themselves in the twist and turns of the quick plot, while others are there just to be there. Those will get some attention.

I’m glad you like The Monster Hour. I’ve written it very recently and it is one of my favorites. I’ve tried to force it into the line-breaky mix of the new poems I’ve been writing, but you’ve helped me realize that it really belongs in The Man Suit. I really enjoy how the character doing the killing and the lying is the one we give our sympathies. He is a monster and we are forced to take him at face value. We can’t expect anything more. We know he is misunderstood and it becomes the producers we don’t trust. A lot of poems in that manuscript play the same way. I’ll stick it in there fo sho.

Thanks for your kind words about Telephones II. No one has ever told me before that my words/ideas have become a part of their vocabulary. That gave me some confidence to do and develop what I already do well. I want to commit to that now.

Anyway, you are appreciated and this will not be forgotten. Thank you.

Let me have a little time to re-evaluate some stuff before sending more. I’ll try to hurry. When will you need more by? Will this be for the same issue?