doors

I begin again I begin

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i know this is not tidy or attractive but it’s what I’m doing lately. sitting in the dark writing with my finger.

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Because you left / my door open / I got out

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after work last night i went to sit on my deck for a while because September. the cats moaned in agony when they saw me out there and repeatedly hurled themselves at the glass of the sliding door. they aren’t allowed on the deck because they jump off it, twelve feet to the ground, and then cower in terror in the back yard but refuse to come in. things are very mixed up in their heads.

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Out of all / the windows - / doors

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my office at work looks out across the Wisconsin countryside. there are at least twelve silos and fourteen barns visible from the office window. they’re all far away, on the horizon, so i never see any people on the farms. just these containers. there are miles of empty field between us.

when i can’t think at work i sit and look out the window and imagine walking across the fields to a barn and opening one of those big doors and walking inside and closing the door and just being part of the farm for a while.

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things grow

Nineteen years ago today it was yet another burning day in an early-September heat wave. But I didn’t really notice because I was in an air-conditioned hospital room, pacing around restlessly and trying to have a baby. (For anyone out there who has not yet had a baby and thinks they might like to try someday, my number one piece of advice is: Keep walking. No, I mean while you’re having the baby. Oh, never mind.)

Fortunately around the middle of the afternoon I succeeded in having the baby, with, frankly, only minimal discomfort, and as a direct result I now have a college sophomore. Yes, it is amazing, thanks for noticing. I mean, not that I actually did much of anything to bring this about–he’s been smarter and more determined than me most of his life so my primary task has been to keep out of his way and let him get on with it.

A huge amount of creating anything, I’ve found, just involves waiting while things grow. Waiting, and watching and listening, to see what shape things want to have, often gets you a lot further than jumping in and trying to wrestle things into the shape you think they ought to have. Remind me of that, the next time I have writer’s block. Or a baby.

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moonlight in the lab…
the engineering students
plot trajectories

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theater of the absurd all the roles played by the moon

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between
the spokes
of the bicycle
the rays
of the moon

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happy birthday to b.a.o.

ephemera

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Ephemera given away by poets at Haiku North American 2013

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I’ve worked in several archives and I can tell you that one of the best words you will encounter there is “ephemera.” This refers to printed material that is (naturally) meant to be ephemeral, to serve a specific purpose and then be discarded — or, as the case may be, preserved in a scrapbook or collected or hoarded or pounced upon by some archivist who perceives historical value in it and tucks it neatly into an acid-free folder and gives it an accession number. Tickets, for instance, are ephemera. Menus. Playbills. Business cards. Dance cards. (Dance cards? What, are we partying like it’s 1899?)

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by moonlight
a sheet of stickers
with unreadable faces

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These objects above might or might not be classified as ephemera, depending on how likely you thought it was that their creators wanted or intended them to be preserved. What they are is giveaways from various poets at last month’s Haiku North America — samples, if you will, of their work. “Samples” sounds a bit ephemeral, but really, these lovely objects don’t look as if they were meant to be discarded. They look like art. Which they are.

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light years can’t explain how we got here

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From top left, clockwise and into center:

  • Postcard by Sandra Simpson
  • a primer of organic forms, booklet by Jim Kacian
  • Art trading card by Linda Papanicolaou
  • Bookmark by Lee Gurga
  • Brochure with map of Japan by Susan Diridoni
  • Pamphlet by Lidia Rozmus

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last day of summer
the wrong words
to the right song

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I would say that they’re going into my personal archives, except that mine is not maintained in a way any self-respecting archivist would ever approve of. For instance I have already used Lee’s bookmark as a bookmark and I’ve been pawing through Jim’s amazing little book while eating spaghetti so it may or may not have some extraneous material attached to it now. I think what I’ll actually do is pile these things in a basket on top of the bookcase I keep my Haiku Stuff in, so they can be Haiku Stuff too. All of it both ephemeral and eternal.

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between two hills the rest of my life

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Haiku in English

Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years

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I’ve spent a couple of weeks swimming around dazedly in this, which was officially published a couple of weeks ago, to coincide with Haiku North America. You probably want to get it if you haven’t already, though warning: it’s thick. Well, it’s a century’s worth of haiku. In chronological order, no less, so you can watch English-language haiku evolving before your very eyes.

As with all anthologies, it’s almost as much fun deciding what you would put in it instead of what the editors put in it (like me…what? what am I doing in here? still trying to figure that one out) as it is actually reading the poems. But in the end there’s not much to quarrel with. The fact that you could probably replace half of these haiku with other haiku and have an equally strong anthology is really just an indication of how many good haiku have been published since Ezra Pound did his thing with the metro station and the wet black bough.

At HNA there was a reading of the anthology, straight through, one poem to a poet. Those poets who were in attendance (there were a few dozen of us, which was kind of … amazing and terrifying, considering there are only 200-odd poets in the anthology) read their own work, and the absent poets had their work read by Sandra Simpson and Ron Moss. In case you don’t know, Sandra is from New Zealand and Ron from Tasmania, so to American ears they have lovely but exotic accents that made these poems, many of which are very, very familiar to us, seem fresh and new. The reading took an hour or so and it was a little like flying, high and fast, over the vast and varied terrain of English-language haiku, catching your breath every once in a while when you saw something particularly lovely.

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Sandra Simpson and Ron Moss read from "Haiku in English" at Haiku North America in August 2013.

(That’s Sandra and Ron up there reading and Jim Kacian emceeing and the Queen Mary being very regal and intimidating all around us.)

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To my dismay, the poem that I read has suddenly become timely again of late:

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radiation leak moonlight on the fuel rods

(written 3/13/2011, originally published in Haijinx IV:1, reprinted in Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years, 2013)

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