Monday, April 23, 2007

this is how i practice compassion

I. Star Pants Man Makes Me Angry

Star Pants Man is in front of the bus trying to put his bicycle in the rack. I’m late for class, the bus was late picking me up, and now a man wearing electricolor star pants and a giant orange, spongy slice of Wisconsin cheddar cheese is taking an awfully long time to put his bike in the goddam bike rack.

The bicycle bobbles up and down, to the right, down again, up, way up. Star Pants Man grins and shrugs. Bobble. Grin. Shrug. Bobble left. Grin.

Oh. Come. On!

When the bicycle finally bobbles into its proper riding position, Star Pants Man is so ecstatic that he actually lets out a little, “Peep!” of cheer and flutters his hands in the air like someone who has amazingly managed to hammer both thumbs simultaneously. Grin.

Get. On. The. Bus. Star Pants Man!

Now he’s digging in his star pants pockets. “Huh, huh,” he shrug-gestures to his shiny blue hunk of making-me-late, “just didn’t want to get on the bus this morning, huh?” A dime rolls down the chute. Some more digging. “I know I gotta nother nickel in here somewhere, huh, huh.”

Star Pants Man, next time I’m gonna pay for you NOT to ride.

II. Star Pants Man Amuses Me

Star Pants Man is in front of the bus trying to put his bicycle in the rack. I’m late for class, but those electricolor star pants are worth it. To go with the pants, he wore a fabulous giant orange, spongy slice-of-Wisconsin-cheddar-cheese hat. It matches perfectly! It’s a good thing I caught the late bus or I would have missed out on the outfit of the year.

The bicycle bobbles up and to the right a bit. Now it bobbles off again. The bike pops in and out of Star Pants Man’s hands like an indecisive Tango partner; it just won’t settle where it’s supposed to and go along with the ride. But Star Pants Man is undaunted. He grins into the dashboard window, shrugs, and takes his errant partner for another dip.

When he finally subdues the bicycle into its proper riding place, Star Pants Man is so ecstatic that he, “Peeps!” cheerily and flutters both hands in the air like a second grader who just named all fifty states and their capitals.

Way to go, Star Pants Man!

He gets on the bus and, digging for some change, grins as if this just couldn’t be a better day. “Huh, huh,” he chuckles, nodding at his shiny blue trickster, “just didn’t want to get on the bus this morning, huh?” Change rolls down the chute.

Star Pants Man, next time your ride’s on me.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

request (as politely asked for in trochaic prose)

You can smoke my cigarettes, and you can drink my finest whiskey. You can keep me up all night, just wasting all my time. Later, we’ll eat peanut-butter chocolate ice-cream. You can wear my fuzzy, bunny slippers if you want to. You can steal the fluffy pillow.

I will make the coffee in the morning and I’ll measure out the sugar just the way you like it. We’ll make Danish pastry as we listen to Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album. You can look through my collection, play your favorite songs—Dylan sounds much better when you listen to the record—you can even sing along with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I’ll bet that you know every word to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

Honey, when it comes down to it, you can do no wrong. There’s just one small exception: Please, don’t dangle prepositions, baby. It will drive a woman crazy.

Find out what trochaic is here!

Monday, April 16, 2007

what i don't know

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

What I don’t know about the universe and what I would like to know about the universe is the same thing: Why does it exist?

To me, why the universe, humans, consciousness, and even I, all exist is the most compelling inquiry. It is also maddeningly the most elusive. But how can we claim to know anything if we don’t even know why we know it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to find out all the answers I can; it’s like putting a billion piece puzzle together. The only problem with the cosmic puzzle is that even if I could put most of the pieces in their respective places during my lifetime, the whole picture would never emerge because of the One Missing Piece: Why.

We've learned a great deal about how our universe exists by measuring and calculating a many number of things, and, to some extent, what exists in our universe through quantifiable observations. The when seems to be accounted for, but then, do we really understand the nature of time well enough to derive a finite number from a possibly infinite set of circumstances?

In commenting on the age of the universe we inevitably find ourselves in a bit of a conundrum because if we say that the universe is about 13.7 billion years old, what we are implying, semantically and literally, is that there was a point in time when the universe was one second old.

This logical lexography gives rise to the Heap paradox and we may ask, “What was going on one second before that second when the universe was one second old, and before that second before that second?” ad infinitum. The real clincher is that if time did not begin until the universe began, then it makes no sense to ask, “What happened before time began?” but this is, nonetheless, precisely what I what I want to ask.

I come to cosmology with the same fascination and reverence I have devoted to the study of botany. Thrilled by the language involved, learning the technical details, and gaining a more meaningful understanding of the world around me, I never tire of hearing the words dark energy or cotyledon.

At the same time, I realize that I can learn all about big bang theory, expanding space, photosynthesis, and how growth comes from meristematic tissue, but will anyone ever know why a flower grows?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

answer to the grad school application request: please describe your interest in poetry

It seems strange to say that I have an interest in poetry; I have an interest in botany. It is something outside of me and I can choose to pursue botanical lore and milieu at my leisure. I can choose to learn more about the life cycle of bryophytes if I want to, or I can put the magnifying lens away, satisfied to have seen plenty of gametophytes for one day. Botany is my past time; it is a quiet retreat. I can go to it when poetry is making me crazy and it is always a sane endeavor.

I do not have an interest in poetry—poetry is a part of me, like my hand. I cannot choose to pursue poetry at my leisure or simply put the book away, satisfied to have learned enough for one day. It is not a retreat, but rather, it is what I live, see, hear, dream, and struggle every moment, and it is very rarely quiet.

Sometimes, I like to think that I write to keep myself sane, but the wild lexis of a poet’s brain affords me no such solace. Instead, I “labor by singing light” because I must, and then take a walk with the trilliums because I can.

what's better than a "A" in advanced poetry writing?

Thanks Rurality! By the way, for all appearances, it seems that Rurality is living my dream life. So if you've ever wondered what I want to do with my long sought for "A" in advanced poetry writing, this is it. I would also like to have a telescope.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

garden party

If I were as red as the red-flame hibiscus, I would know something about freedom. Nothing could be that red and restrain itself.

I would arrive at stately garden parties wearing only my crimson petals, and I would need no introduction when I entered a room full of local flora. The hollyhocks, in their pale, ruffled blossoms, would rumor in pastel whispers. “Really,” they’d say, “we’re very distant relatives.” The old roses would blush with recognition—they were wild too, once, and red. But now they glance around, heads lowered, their hips just not what they used to be, they look so old-fashioned. The daffodils wouldn’t take any notice; they’re too narcissistic. But the bachelor buttons would. And as I promenade, petal-perfect, among the perennial favorites, the white-eyed violets would shrink.

If I were as red as the red-flame hibiscus, I would know nothing of self-doubt, or shame. You just can’t be that red and worry about what the lilies are saying.

I would mingle with the magnolias without the slightest hint of style envy. I would ask sweet William to dance, even though he’s much shorter than me, and I’d show him how we tango, stems entwined, under the tropical sun. The bearded iris would be jealous, but I’d save some twining for him. Then the boxwood would hedge in. And when I took them in my heart-shaped foliage, they’d beam, proud as poppies.

If I were as red as a red-flame hibiscus, I would be beautiful. There’s just no denying it if you stroll around in the world the color of sangria and summer kisses.

I’d lilt and saunter as if I were queen-of-the-meadow. I would step out in full bloom, and the johnny-jump-ups would not forget me.

If I were as red as the red-flame hibiscus, I would never wrap my fear around me and close up tight, like a tulip in the night.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

this is the conversation that you don’t want to have with the cabby, which unfortunately I did

“What the hell’s takin’ this light so long, I’m just gonna run it.”


“Hang on there. Huh, huh. It’s just like that old turtle in that one commercial with the car, huh, huh, you seen that one?”


“Yeah, I’m waitin’ for em to tell us that Larry’s the father. You know, we all know he’s the father of Anna’s baby. And that Stern guy, you know, he’s just a scumbag murderer, you know he should be going to jail. What’d you say, fourth and what?”

“Lincoln. Fourth and Lincoln.”

“Yeah, that Stern guy, he’s a baaad man. He needs to be punished, you know, he’s a murderer. He needs to be put in jail. Then he’ll file some appeal cause he’s a lyin’ cheatin' lawyer, you know. He’s out there treatin’ Anna’s baby like a, a, just a money maker. Not even like a real person, you know, like he’s the Devil. Yeah, he’ll be punished. Like the devil he is, you know. GOD will punish him.”


Thursday, April 5, 2007

translation happens

It's the first day of the Spring term, and I walk into my Introduction to Spanish Literature class five minutes late and without my travel mug. Where did I leave my coffee mug? is the foremost question in my brain. And second is, Where in the hell is my coffee mug?

I take my seat and notice that la profesora had written the words "La Edad Media" on the chalkboard, which I quickly translate as "middle age." I'm a little confused about why we're discussing middle age in a Spanish Lit. class, but I figure it will lead into some significant literary work about middle age or written by an author during his or her middle age. You know, the Reverse Obscurity tactic employed by Literature Professors across the nation: "Let's think about the advent of the three-hole punch. Hmmm. . . and what does this suggest about Eliot's vision of civilization in The Waste Land?"

So, whatever, that's fine with me. If I can remember where I left my coffee mug, I'll consider my time here well spent.

La profesora had apparently instructed the class to form groups (my least favorite classroom activity, second only to "introduce yourself to your neighbor"), and discuss amongst ourselves, in Spanish, what middle age meant to us.

I caught the tail and broken-end of some of these discussions, but I had no idea what anyone was talking about. What the heck does a feudal system have to do with middle age? Unfortunately, however, I was the first student called on to share with the class, in Spanish, what middle age meant to me.

"I have many hair that is grey, and the eyes no see anymore much because I being near to the middle age."

Silence. Laughter. Lesson learned.

La Edad Media = The Middle Ages

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

jobs not listed on my resume (in reverse chronological order)

  • House Painter, all women house painting crew; Seattle
  • Sales Person, Gay and Lesbian Yellow Pages; Seattle
  • Seaman, Dishwasher, Pressure Washer; United States Coast Guard; Portland
  • Lunch Server, El Rio; Sacramento
  • Flower Grower/Herb and Perennial expert, Dardano's Flowerland; Denver
  • Imax Usher, Natural History Museum; Denver
  • Cashier (knife and ammunition counter), Army Surplus Store; Denver
  • Activist against excessive packaging, COPIRG; Denver
  • Sandwich Artist, Subway; Littleton
  • Ice-cream scooper/eater; Baskin Robbins, Littleton
  • Trail Builder, up to the Castle Rock rock; Castle Rock

Monday, April 2, 2007

new blog color, same "a" worthy content

It seems that my vision is worsening in proportion to my sense of smell improving (see "quitting smoking stinks" below). Instead of searching for the leaves-etched-into-the-gold-rimmed glasses that I purchased at the Ugliest Glasses in the World Store, I decided to change the background and font color so I could see better.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

rest assured, i'm not asking for an "a" for my alliterative rhyming haiku

Love Letter to Duane Locke

Oh, Duane,
you bitter old bastard, nobody loves
spiders. If she says she does,
she’s just saying it to impress you. However,

I am a woman who puts the spiders out.
I do not love them, but I will not stand for
spider killing in my house.

As for the rest, we agree on many things;
although I’ve never seen do-it-yourself sponge painting
turn out very well, I would love to sleep
in a in a sea of dithering daffodils. Also,

I prefer flowers, even dead ones,
to limousines, and I am thrilled by caressing
the skins of most living things.

And you say you don’t care
if some beautiful woman falls in love
and kisses your poems after you’ve been dead
three hundred years, but,

you must have thought about it enough
to have made that comment. Duane,

I am your damn dark sparkle of sunflower shadows.
And if you pull the arrows out of the side of the oak,
my Druid blood will soak into your bones,
and I will finally be home.