Friday, December 30, 2005

I'm a Super Model

Ok, well not exactly, but my very talented friend, the amazing John Kenney agreed to be my photographer for my picture on the back of the book. So we shimmied down to Adam's Morgan to have a photo shoot--which consisted of me bringing a few shirts in a bag and taking pictures wherever we were inspired. We began in Idle Time books and then decided that we liked natural light better. After about an hour and a hundred pictures later, we went back and viewed all the digital prints (welcome to the world of technology) and ended up with these four as our favorites. And now, it's time for a vote, so lovely fivefeet readers, chime in. Which pic is the best for the back of the book?

un cheers to certain conference goers

This will be my first rant. There are a certain group of people in town who are here for an academic conference and had some cocktails in the bar (note: some attendees excluded here, this is a generalization based on the overall tip income this evening). Perhaps the ivory tower has you so far removed from life that you forget that people work for wages. Tipping ten percent is not appropriate behavior. I don't care if you are post modern or new formalist--there are industry standards. 20% is what you should least 15%. You tip 10% if you receive sub-par service. I know that there isn't any money in academia (I'm in the industry as well...which is why bartending is the main source of cash flow.) But employees who receive tips usually do not make a sufficient wage, i.e. the tip is their wage. Don't act like I'm telling you something new. If you can afford to come to the conference, stay in a swanky hotel (especially if it's on your university's dime) you can afford to tip 20% on a $40 tab. It's the difference of $4. I suppose I can take solace in the fact that I'll be the one writing the literature while you're still teaching comp.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

le Rouge Cheers

One of our signature drinks (2nd from right) was on the back page of yesterday's Washington Post---the Cherry Sparkler (formerly the Cherry Popper until censorship went into effect). Either way, you should come to the Rouge for some sparkle pop action tonight or on New Year's Eve. There will be a DJ and fun Rouge party favors! Do let me know so I can make you feel like a VIP if you're coming on New Year's. And here's the link to the story to entice you:

My fabulous manager Mike Hill is even quoted on page 3!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Coming Clean and Organizing

Today I got my teeth cleaned and cleaned my closet. No cavities and everything in color order. I realized I had twice as many hangers as I had clothes! I also got a shoe organizer so no more boxes and hunting in the back of the closet for the stray heel. However, some of my shoes are still too clunky for the hanging rack. Ah, the wild ones, they will not be contained. There is something to be said for being too loud, too wild, too brazen. Many people want to put you in neat little compartments, but I say rock on with yourselves pink Steve Madden mary janes and orange Mephisto all rounders. Walk loudly and don't care about the downstairs neighbors (lucky me, I'm on the first floor.)

Lately I've been thinking about shame and letting other people's opinions color how you feel about yourself. Most often we do this in relationships and many women often put the relationship before themselves. When you have to bend too much, it just isn't worth it. Then there are times when you should bend. It's all about balance, as I was reading in the latest issue of Latina at the dentist's office. The editor wrote about the importance of this for someone living in two cultures--how to deal with when American and Hispanic values clash and how to feel good about the choices you make. I think many of us often find our values and beliefs and various identities clashing. (A good topic for fiction, yes, even on break, I think of how every moment is a teaching one).

Caroline called and had lunch at Arucola--love being ladies who lunch. She shares my passion for passion. And my passion for the Mustard Seed (confirming a previous post about white chocolate, but then does that make her an oreo?). I think about the places in which we find comfort and find excitement in the ordinary. There are some people that grow with you. Caroline's one of them. I know she's going to be there through all this book business with me (in fact, working on some art for the cover) and tomorrow rocker/photographer/bartender JK is going to shoot some pics that may wind up on the back. Good thing I got all those new clothes from J's Hanukkah gift certificate and yeah me for organizing so I can find everything in a snap. And big Kool-aide grin b/c J knows what I like---he asked me to go to the open mic at Busboy's and Poet's tonight.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Where I Shop

As many of you know, I'm a bit of a fashion butterfly. Here's my favorite place to polinate the closet.

Friday, December 23, 2005

White Chocolate

Just call me white chocolate. That's what the girls from Rouge call me. Last night we had our holiday party at LOVE (a fab. club for those of you non hipsters who think love is an emotion). Apparently Love + Vodka + Dancing= White Chocolate.

While sipping on my vodka, I asked them to explain: You're white outside but black inside. Ok, hmmm, I suppose that means I'm a good dancer and I also seem to have the body of a black woman--curvy (if we're going on generalities). I asked one girl where she got her pants and I said I had seen some like it at Urban Outfitters and tried them but they didn't look right. She smirked and told me I need to come to one of her stores---they would know my curves better. Now I have always thought Black women and Jewish women had a lot in common, but fashion was not yet something I've explored.

Back in grad school, the Cave Canem readings were my favorite---because the poetry seemed like it mattered more---more narrative and rhythmic, less concerned with what makes poetry and more concerned with the self, empowering the individual while weaving a community. I remember Lucille Clifton and Sonia Sanchez staying for 2 hours afterwards to sign books and meet everyone who wanted to come up to the stage and shake their hands. I remember Sonia hugging me the way she hugged the other women and called us all sister.

I remember feeling a part of something even though it wasn't normally a community I would think would instantly feel right. Perhaps they saw something in me that was a bit dark and sweet. Though I suspect when you are genuine and real with people and let them see inside your skin, we all will be able to see a piece of ourselves in another.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

In Praise of Magnolia

For those of you who know about my cupcake obsession:

Barternder, I'll have my gratification now

Today I'm thinking about how fast things happen. Just last night I found out one of my co-workers who now works at another property got married. She had been dating her boyfriend for not even a year (I'm only making a point about speed, no judgement here), someone else I know was in love and then broke up with her lover (the relationship lasted perhaps a month or so), and I am in the midst of something chugging along quite smoothly. Whatever happened to that little engine who could? I think I can is now, I think I can, but it has to be today. Are we really carpe diem-ing all over the place?

Technology lets us do things a mile a minute. Just secured one of my blurbers over email in like a matter of 30 minutes. What ever happened to things being worth the wait? Today I'm googling more images, though my fabulous artist friend is going to be doing some sketches for the cover. Here's us last night and more cover inspirations...I can't say that I have found what I'm looking for. Though this time, I'm content to wait.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Poetry Crush and Possible Book Covers

Baltimore is a lot funkier than DC. Yesterday I went to hear Piotr Gwiazda read at The Minas Gallery. I am so excited that he is going to be the lead editor for my book (his book, Gagarin Street, won the 2004 WWPH first book award). He's my first poetry crush in a while. I think what makes a poetry crush is honestly someone's work. When you just want to read more and more of their poems. So far my crush list is:

1. Jane Kenyon
2. Linda Pastan
3. William Stafford
4. Maj Ragain
5. Maggie Anderson
6. Honi Jeffers

Anyway, after a cozy reading in a gallery that has art and vintage clothes we had a beer at one of the most fun and divey bars--Frazier's and then dinner at the Golden West---kitch kitch! The menus are old records. A place that kind of reminds me of the Zephyr back in Kent before it turned bar.

Today I did my grades, wrestled with the dryer, and googled images for my book cover. This latter thing took a while as I still am not sure how I want my cover to look. I'm going to post a few here and please do vote or something. Keep in mind, the book is about memory, the Holocaust, and the poems are spaced out like steam...

Friday, December 16, 2005

The poet talks politics

Normally I am not a political person. I admit that I almost pride myself in not being political so I try not to read the paper or watch the news (because it's all skewd anyway and I'd much rather have my nose in a book (of fiction or poetry) ). However, as many point out, I need to live in this world and yes I agree that I need to be more up on current events. Especially in DC. You make a pretty bad conversationalist when you're like who? what? huh? Aloofness is not always endearing. Especially when it comes to matters that concern all of us. I guess that is why I was never into the news or politics. I feel so removed as if I can't make a difference. But as I'm learning from my students (who do write about politics and quite well) but more importantly say how writing has changed them and made a difference. And then I think about the power words can have. If writers aren't political in some way, that's one less way to move people into action. I began really becoming a poet back in 1996 when I was on the March of the Living--a trip that took Jewish teens to witness the concentration camps of Poland and then to Israel. This was an experience that changed my life. It was then that I became known as the bus poet and after that those poems were the portfolio that earned me a poetry scholarship at Kent State and perhaps what influenced my collection, the steam sequence. Yes, I did have to mention the book deal again---but here's the thing. People have been asking me what the book is about and I haven't formulated an answer yet, or at least one that I like, but what I will say is that it is necessary. Because there are people who will say the Holocaust never happened. Because there are people who discriminate and pursue hatred over love. It seems some lessons never do sink it. Some people do not learn or they choose not to see. That being said, please click on the link below and see what is happening in the world. Everything matters.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Alimentum and Mothertongue

Are everything you want writing to be. I was in NYC this past Sunday for the launch for Alimentum. I sat next to Mark Kurlansky (author of Salt and Cod)---more food lit people then poetry people. Michol Negrin (author of Med. Grill) hosted and had a fabulous spread. With good food and wine, how could any launch not be this successful? I was even asked to sign someone's journal while waiting in line for the bathroom. What really got me was that this was my first impressive people party---everyone was literate, articulate, fashionable, and very supportive of each other. (i.e. Mark Kurlansky talking about Ramona, Youngstown, and labor strikes with me). I've often felt young and green at these functions but this was definitely not the case.

And then last night at the Mothertongue reading. Natalie is the BEST mc ever to rock a mic. She really comes alive and connects, creating a space in which everyone feels her gratitude and comfort. A place where you can say something funny, serious, indecent and be respected and embraced for it. I feel very fortunate to have met her and Sandra (two of DC's hottest younger poets). All too often we judge and often unfairly and harshly. Though yes, constructive criticism is like sun and water, I much prefer singing to the seeds to let them rise. I think of this as I am in the middle of reading my students' final portfolios, which they have attached pictures, colors, printed on maps, and handmade books, and feel lucky to see what came about in a semester. That they, like me, all have a first book, and this is the one that matters most.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


In Summary

1. found out my first book of poems will be coming out in fall 2006 from washington writer's publishing house...guess where i was when i got the phone call...the powder room of the black cat!

2. sat next to mark kurlansky at the big alimentum launch in nyc. everyone has a crush on ramona. spent 15 minutes in line for the bathroom.

3. didn't pee on the train on the way up but surprisingly the penn station bathrooms are quite clean. went on the way home.

4. lost my cell phone charger but acquired 4 magnolia cupcakes.

5. am using book deal to justify things like eating big macs at 3 am and the like.

6. will be grading portfolios and bartending and will write something decent soon. apply said book deal excuse here.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

That was one HOT party...

I'm talking about our Red Hot Relief AIDS benefit at the Bar last week...and look who's on page 6. Well not exactly but there are two of me. I'm pasting them here but feel free to check out the whole gallery---plenty of hot Miss Universe and Miss DC all glammed up.

On Tap Magazine has also posted additional event photos online:

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Murphy's Law

Today, the last day of class my door is locked---and no one is in the English Department and no one knows how long security takes to let you 10 minutes I found a more premium location---a field trip to the 7th floor conference room and class went on as planned only 10 minutes later. We had better lighting and someone had conveniently left celery. Though my students all opted for the brownies and donuts. It's good to start the day off with a laugh and some much needed sugar.

After class I spent office hours just chatting about life and this and that with a few of my students. I have a bag full of their portfolios to open, but I'm letting the moment linger. Today they all went around and shared their books. There are poems with pictures and colors and well lions and tigers and bears oh my---no, really, the kinds of things that they will have years from now. Who knows what it will mean then. Actually, I have been devouring Memoirs of a Geisha and finally finished reading it on J--'s duvet. I mention that here because he likes seeing his name in lights so to speak. I also left him another little surpise at home but I won't elaborate anymore on that. Please excuse me dear readers for excluding you in the previous two sentences. Normally I hate when people use inside jokes as much as I hate the end of novels. I did not feel that way after finishing MOG. Here's a snippet: "Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper." J--do take care to get the encrypted message in the quote. Everyone else can enjoy it for the sheer pleasure of the language.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Winter Tidings

It was snowing in Cleveland over the weekend and now it's snowing here in DC. There is always something magical about it, the slow suspension and twirl, the soft wetness as it falls across your face and hair. I walked in it as much as I could today. Then I also enjoyed the opposite: drinking tea and reading inside. Mostly student fiction and Memoirs of a Geisha---have to finish the book before seeing the movie.

Jillian gave me new tea and a strainer to brew it in---so now I don't have to tea bag it all the time. Also good honey--ie not the one that comes in a bear. Though I got to see everyone, it wasn't enough. Perhaps that is why the snow matters to me so much. It makes me think of walking around Kent and laughing and sloshing between classes, parties, and whatnot---or gathering in the lounge and listening to Erin play piano and we all had our mugs and sometimes roasted marshmellows in the fireplace. I think of my students who don't have this on their city campus, but then again, I think of all they have that I never did. I suppose you can't have it all. I'm trying to bring them the poetry of Kent--notecards and community poems and brownies.

The mail today brought the first and new issue of Alimentum! Click on the right to see more and the email brought news of being published in Wicked Alice and an email from deep cleveland---things are slowly rolling for the anthology, kind of like the snowflakes as they slip from heaven and melt on our faces. May you find one on your tongue and think of me.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Yesterday morning Jonathan took me to Costco. I had never been before--well, Sam's Club back in Ohio which I suppose is the same. I brought my pen and pad---Ramona had to take some notes. I have to say she was quite appalled. I mean how could she like it. It's all about greed, disguised as saving money. I mean really, who needs to buy like 6 brownie mixes in one box (actually me). Raspberry chocolate brownies abounded! I felt more selective actually, always questioning how much am I really going to use. I suppose that's a good question to ask ourselves--how much do we really want or need something. It would have been so easy just to keep grabbing. Yes, to gallons of pepto bismol, yes, to an army of trojans, yes, to a school of salmon, yes to 96 rolls of toilet paper. The coolest thing was the fruit and vegetable room. It was like a restaurant refrigerator---considerably colder and like 2 pound bags of spinach! Though I'm not sure Ramona would buy in bulk. At the end of the trip I ended up with the brownie mixes, 1 pound of frozen blueberries, sundried tomato and basil ravioli, the softest socks ever and of course the tp! I'm sure there are some greater philosophical questions at hand---is bigger better? What does this say about American values? Or are people just coming for the free samples? And is a sample going to make you want to buy a large quantity of marinated mushrooms? Dear shoppers, you will have to grapple with these issues by yourselves, though I know Victoria Redel has a poem about buying in bulk---there's a line, oh the deals Jerry, oh the deals...I think she looks on the store quite favorably, but I myself will have to give Costco no stars or chili peppers (I however, do have a chili pepper---check out

Friday, November 25, 2005

Chippendale Poets


"The Most Intriguing (and sensual) Male Poets of 2006 Calendar." All profits will be donated to CFIDS research. Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a multi-symptom immune deficiency related to the rheumatoid family. As very little research has been funded for this degenerative illness, not much progress has been made to alleviate the syndrome or its symptoms. You may find more information regarding the calendar at this website:

Thursday, November 24, 2005


So yesterday I finally got around to doing my laundry and I'm waiting for the clothes to come out of the dryer and all of the sudden I hear sirens outside and then they stay there and then there's all this noise outside in the foyer so I look and there are all these firemen and then they're running down to the laundry room and I'm thinking, no my favorite jeans are in there. But it was a false alarm. Because it was so cold, the dryer was making so much smoke outside the building that someone else saw it and called 911. So I folded and everything was fine. Like my mom always tells me, things will work out, don't get so worked up. But I think it's in an artist's mind to get worked up. Life is full of things that charge us (for Suzanne, the little protons and electrons bouncing all around in my brain). The way I see into a painting, a moment, another person. Poetry has always been personal, has always been a means of connecting to others. Last Tuesday in class one of my students asked if she could host a poetry reading for only our class at her apartment/building/dorm. She was so excited and everyone else starting feeling that buzz too, that of language and community. There's a certain power, a certain electric of language. The way I am jolted when I'm reading their fiction. Laughing aloud in coffee houses, impressed with their wit and charm and especially the way they perceive structure. How original they are and how advanced. How they are experimenting with voice and language. Doing things I would not have dared or even had an inkling about. How one student wants to write a story in which the main character is a writer and you don't know if he's writing his own death, how you don't know what's real and what's fiction. How different they all are, all their dreams and styles, everything spinning and falling together. How I am waiting to fold, but not wanting any of this to end. I think back again to Maj, what he would say is that this cycle does not stop. Poetry never dries. Yes, the jeans will be warm and yes, you will feel the heat on your body, but no, even when they cool, you will have the memory of that warmth, the vertigo of the daily, no it's not just doing laundry.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sex Deprived Tina: Hot Sestina Porn Word on Word Action!

One of my students is in love with the idea of being the tortured artist. I remember when I had a similar fantasy in college. I wanted to be one of those "feminist" writers that could not find a place for herself. So she had to either experiment with sex or drown, or often do both. Senior year I wanted to be Anais Nin. I'm reading her diary now (still) though now I no longer envy her journey of sex and sensibilities. Perhaps I'm more solvent in many ways and want a path less daring. I know this will surprise many of you---especially my college friends who always admired my zeal for adventure and self-discovery. I remember then I had wanted no man, but rather several b/c there was no way I thought I was going to find somebody who could fulfill everything that I wanted filled. Not that it is a feminist notion that a man will fill you---I remember the poems my mother had on the fridge advising against that: don't wait for anyone to give you flowers, plant your own and live on today's ground b/c tomorrow's is too unstable...the premise being that you have to take care of yourself. I'm feeling a bit like Ani Difranco when she said love distracted her. Not that I'm distracted: I wrote a new poem today (seems like Monday has become my significant writing day) and not that I'm in love per se or verbatim, but well, you know how these things go. Let's just say, I'm very focused. Seeing that I'm becoming more romantic and involved with one person, now I have to leave some of the discovery up to the characters in my poems. Let me introduce you to another alter-ego, Tina:

Friday, November 18, 2005

Mark Your Calendars Folks!!!

Yes, by drinking cocktails you can help cure AIDS!!!! This is a huge event at the Bar and yes, the press will be there so put on your party best!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Le Mystery Revealed

Ce soir yesterday, dans la voiture de Jonathan, nous alle au Virgina pour le diner a Mr. Francois. Je suis manager a grande lamb avec les vegetables avec les wine avec les etc.... Quelle food. Je pends que Jonathan is tres fantastique mais mon francais, not so much.

Nous allons:

Au revoir. Arrete moi a la Rouge ce soir!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bar Log-The First One

Our new manager introduced the concept of a bar log. Notes to pass on. We're supposed to say things like, Stella was the most popular beer. Sorry, I left you no limes. Bar was busy. Perhaps we should hire a bar back. Someone threw up in both bathrooms. I wonder if it was the same person. Need to order more Bailey's.

Though I wrote a very prosey one in the bar, here's the blog version.

Last night I invented two things. The raspberry martini (though I'm sure done before) and the Orange martini. I like the word Cointreau. I also made a midori martini and these were for the fellas lined up at the bar. They wanted me to concoct drinks for them. Not in that witch way but in that magic potion genie kind of way. There's something to be said for being a bartender. However, like any chef, I won't prostitue my recipes here. You'll have to come in and ask nicely. It's strange these guessing games that people like to play. What drink will I like? Make me something not on the menu. So I aim to please. I think there is some truth in our drinks. That you can tell what kind of a drink someone will want before they even say a word to you. Perhaps there is some key to who we are in what we like. Lately, I've become more girly in my liquor tastes---moving from bourbon on the rocks to pink and orange martinis. Perhaps it is the glass I like, the way it feels in my hand, the sugary lake of alcohol saying dive in. No rocks to snag yourself on.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

It's a Popularity Contest

So vote me in for president. I promise to serve you drinks with innuendos! And tell all your friends to vote for me, and their friends too!

Bar Rouge: Best Conversation Bar

Friday, November 11, 2005

If Carrie was a bit more philosophical

On Wednesday night I taught a writing workshop at the JCC. There's a line from one of the poems that I taught that has been playing through my head lately: Maj has taught us to name things so I will address you properly. And now as I'm grading my students' work, one of the things that keeps popping up in their personal essays is how through writing, they are coming to know who they are, but simultaneously how hard it is to name those things that matter. And it calls some of the things in this blog and the way I handle things. Too be personal but distant. To mention enough but not to overwrite. It seems (though contrary to many of my friends) I do hold back--we all build walls or have ways we protect ourselves. But why should we protect ourselves--from what is it that is out there that we are actually safe from. Tonight in yoga I tried to open my body. Looking around the room, I realized that most everyone else was more flexible. As my legs were over my head, I made a vow to try to go to yoga more and to try to name those things which I am afraid of naming. For I have somehow adopted the rationale that if you name something, then you will have a certain expectation of it, or that it will change from that which you call it. Or that the language will not be enough and once named, something is quantified and hence the expectations and the measurements. And now I'm late for dinner with Jonathan. What's a girl to do?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Yoo-Hoo fellas, check my poetics!

(though one in particular comes to mind).This is what my skirt will look like on the floor. Remember that pick-up line? That's a nice (insert name of clothing). It would look great on my floor. Tonight we're doing Burlesque at the I'm dressing the part. Sometimes I really feel like Dr. J and Mr. there won't be much on my hide...the poetry chitty chat will come tomorrow.

Reb, looks like our senses of poetics are quite similar. (for Reb's check out Though we already knew that.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I Said Lean!

Last night I attended the Moira Egan and Jeffrey Levine reading at Chapters bookstore. This is one of my favorite venues in the city. Perhaps because it reminds me of Mac's Backs in Coventry (that's Cleveland for those of you non-buckeyes). I think what I like is that this series makes one feel at home--it's a bit more intimate than Politics and Prose and the readers are less avant garde (unless you count Moira's glasses, which would make this series the a woman with fabulous glasses). Moira read some of her crown sonnets (where the last line of one begins the next) and it really made me want to try the form. I also loved her sonnet about her friend who collects heart shaped stones. Definitely will be reading her new book, Cleave. After Moira came Jeffrey and though he didn't read as many sex poems except the one where there's some fuck fuck fuck a man chorus (want to see that one on the page) he was equally captivating, especially with his dog and Adam and Eve poems. After the reading over drinks he was relentless about seeing some of my work which he proceeded to hack up. He told me I was always using location as a way to enter my poems and that I should really think about cutting first lines and the word the. Perhaps this is why Stevens ends a poem with the the, but seriously even though I thought it quite forward of him---circumsizing poems right away, it made me really think about where I can pare down narrative and let language work her magic. When I say that Jeffrey Levine is a butcher, I mean it in the way that you can liken a butcher to a sculptor and though Ramona will be asking me to step outside later, no one could convince me that a filet mignon is anything less than art. It's time I ordered my poems more lean.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Connect Four

I used to love that game as a kid, the way you had to plan out your moves so that you could connect four before someone else. I am trying to explain that to my students, how in fiction as the author you have to be able to connect four. You have to set things in motion. Like in ZZ Packer's short story "Brownies," the bathroom has to be dirty so Daphne will bend to pick things up and how once that happens, Laurel will be able to make a connection between Daphne and the Mennonites who paint her porch. And then she will come to the heart of the memory of her father, the way the world can show its ugliness. How only now can she understand the complexity of racism.

Or how in life we try to make a connection between certain things in our lives or make symbols of other things. How we are constantly trying to either see the meaning that already exists or make meaning out of things that don't make sense unless we construct a narrative. In a way, I think fiction is somewhat like a treasure hunt. How one thing unfolds into another. The patternless pattern. That which becomes apparent and that which is beautiful mystery. He brought flowers today at lunch. The surprise of flowers and a lawyer in the middle of the afternoon. The way their stems twist around each other, their pink, orange, red, and yellow heads jumping out from the vase. I too, unable to contain myself.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

No Bees Today!

The light was beautiful today. The way it fell through the trees on a morning walk, the way the leaves twirled in their meandering descents. I felt like I was in a movie. I tried to catch them and he laughed as they eluded my outstretched arms. He snagged one and I said, baby you crushed it. He said he liked my klutziness--how it's that my mind is preoccupied with other thoughts and my body doesn't always catch up. Poetry isn't always coordinated. That's how it was on Saturday at the reading at Clayton and Company books. Sometimes the poetry is someone else's world, one that twirls and stumbles and escapes you. Sometimes you catch it, but mostly I think the beauty is in watching the leaves come down--the magic in the way they turn and let go. Sometimes I think we should be more like those leaves and welcome the season to fall. Perhaps autumn should be the season for lovers...

Annie sent me a magnet with a Wallace Stevens quote: It's not everyday that the world arranges itself into a poem. Today I was lucky.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The End of an Era

One thing about the poetry scene is that it is always changing. With technology the way that it is, there are new literary magazines coming out every day.

And the converse, many ceasing to publish. This is the end of an era in Cleveland as art crimes is getting ready to close up shop: so here's the call for submissions:

Art Crimes is one of the places that first published my writing--Ohio has my heart--it was where I began writing and I think one of my student's said it best in her process paper: I didn't realize how much Minnesota means to me, that is until I moved to DC. I think it's funny how travel always ends up leading us home.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Today Matthew and Deborah confirmed that they will come all the way down to DC from NYC to take it off for us (check for more on that!). Gilda and I are giddy about that and just discovered we both have a pension for cupcakes. I just finished grading all my students' poetry papers and am busy getting stuff together for the Jewish Literary Festival. I also bought some new boots with my bar money from the week. Did I mention I think I'm Carrie from Sex and the City? Though personally, I think I have a bit more substance and that I'm a better writer. Though, I think she still has me on shoes and clothes...

Friday, October 28, 2005

The DCJCC Literary Festival

Writing from the Fringe: A Collaborative Poetry Workshop
With Carly Sachs
Wednesday, November 9, 6:00 pm
Washington DCJCC, 1529 16th Street NW (Corner of 16th and Q, Dupont metro)

What would Abraham do while waiting in line to buy groceries? Or what if Sarah was stuck in a traffic jam? Take a fresh approach to writing in this poetry workshop, using the characters, themes and language of traditional Jewish texts to generate your own original work. Weaving together their individual poems, workshop participants will create a collaborative piece to share at “SLAM! Spoken Words from the Fringe” on Saturday night (see below). Use this opportunity to get your creative juices flowing—and to see your own words as part of a larger shared text. Carly Sachs is a writer and creative writing teacher at George Washington University.

SLAM! Spoken Words from the Fringe
With Matthue Roth and Ruby K
Saturday, November 12, 7:00 pm
Teaism, 400 8th Street NW (Gallery Place/Chinatown metro)
FREE (food and drink not included)

Performance poet and novelist Matthue Roth offers his hilarious and sometimes shocking views on Jewish life, relationships and the world. Jewish organizer and award-winning slam poet Ruby K opens the evening. Step up to the microphone to share your own poetry or just enjoy the food, drinks and atmosphere at Teaism, DC’s happening teahouse and restaurant. Please contact Andrew Ratner at if you are interested in reading during the open mic.

For full schedule and ticket information for the Hyman S. and Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival, see

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rouge Rouge Rouge

Tomorrow night will be another one of our infamous movie nights. The featured drink will be a sweet transvestite...any guesses for the feature film? Seems like I've been haunting the Rouge more and more but I can now say I'm a bona fide bartender. Yeah, I'm nobody's cocktail anymore! Last Saturday I learned that my flower guy's name is Sahid and he teaches high school french. I think we underestimate people---or rather, we don't spend enough time getting to know who they really are. We make careless assumptions. In doing that we lose our humanity. This week my students have been giving their poetry presentations---many of them in their papers express the importance of being able to spend so much time with one poet, so that you get to know them in a way. They have been sharing good poems, some that I will add into the syllabus and fun writing exercises: some being the mad lib poem and the pretend you're on acid like a beat poet, but don't actually do the acid, that is unless you think it would help your funny they are when they talk about drugs and sex. And how wonderful their imitation poems are. I really think they help you open up your writing--almost like playing dress up. So go out, be wild, put on your best poet garb and come meet me in the Rouge for a drink Thursday through Saturday. On another note, now that I have spider mums, I don't have any spiders. Though I think it's more the cold...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

And We also Lose a Cell Phone

Last night while talking to Jillian, the phone jumped out from between my ear and shoulder and leapt to its death on the concrete. It smashed in many pieces and therefore you will not be able to call me. Overall, I think it's a funny story. Really.

Friday, October 21, 2005

We Lose Another Ohio Poet

The News and Other Poems.
Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002. PS3553 .I86 N49 2002.

Do we miss a thing we love less
if, in going away from us, it grows beautiful?
It rainedall weekend, and the leaves
this morning are going
from brown and tan to crimson.
The splendor flaming from
these trees compensates us,
nearly, for what autumn takes
leaf by leaf, the lined white face
of a father growing noble
the angrier, more confused
he goes, rain like angry bees,
his empty eyes, a cold wind
coming on like dementia.

("A Brief History of Fathers")

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Me with Tractor

Isn't it funny how we can feel large and small at the same time? Today walking back from class, I was behind two 7th grade boys and listening to their conversation, I was amazed at how they talked about adult things--I picked up on gambling and poker, but how young they sounded...and that they were taller than me. Then, again, there's not much shorter than me. And before class, I spent the morning talking about William Carlos Williams and NYC pizza--how he identitifies as a poet even though he was a doctor and how DC's pizza is lame. And how for me, poetry and pizza resonate in a strange way---perhaps b/c I did my MFA in the city and I was always running around between work, class, and readings, that I ate a lot of pizza at the same time I was writing a lot of poetry...and how this really doesn't have anything to do with me standing next to a class we talked about free verse and fugue--the means in which we can move from one event to another, how repetition works to create resonance and depth and how tangentally we can make connections of a sequence of items that may or may not have like qualities--when we look at our lives through examination of details and images, and as human beings we want to make some sense of it---from the large things to the small. Hence, me and the tractor or is it, the tractor and I?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Timeless Sh*t

I am still reeling from the Rod Smith/Amiri Baraka reading last night at Georgetown. Enchanting is not the right word. There were poems about toads and third world countries and Baraka read his infamous 9-11 poem. I'm still not quite sure how to respond. One of my friends asked me why I would even go (b/c of his anti-semitism) and true, I can't say that I was looking forward to this reading in the way I am about others. Mostly, I was anxious b/c both of these readers put you on edge. They are loud and are not afraid to offend. In fact, I think they prefer it. I'm not loud and I believe in saying what you believe in as much as the next gal, but I think more so, I believe that one should argue quietly--drop images that make you shiver and question. Let me rephrase that---that's how I prefer the polical and the violent in my poems. I don't think I will ever write like these poets. Nonetheless, I bought Rod's CD and I'm chuckling along with it. That's an ingredient I like. We laugh a lot in my class. Today we laughed about midgets and poo---yes, this is what we discuss in academia. I had my students try to break the ice and do some oral storytelling. The subject matter itself wasn't pretty, but they captured small moments of what it means to be a human, to be alive and to encounter strange and uncomfortable situations. And though unlike the Baraka/Smith reading, where I can't really remember details but where I can remember how they read--the music of language, the snapping of words, where they mind breaks open and the poet becomes vessel, more than just a feeling about language, I will hang on to today's class. And just like Baraka and Smith, they enraptured each other in their telling and I'm sure everyone will remember the poo at the opera story for a while. I also made my famous pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

Monday, October 17, 2005

At the pumpkin patch

Yes, the Rouge gals do go country! We even found some red pumpkins for the Rouge--seriously, I didn't know that they existed. It's always wonderful to find something you didn't know existed. Though we weren't the only ones making asses out of ourselves...see?

Jumbo's Pumpkin patch came complete with pumpkins, pigs, and donkey's oh my! I think the words hee haw also need to be in a poem. And on that note, last night one of my cousin's friends told me about this thing called and i am almost thinking of giving my students the assignment to write a poem with at least three words they found on there...or perhaps a fun exercise for my readers to try :)

Here's mine:

Katelyn and I were going way past double nickel,

wanted to get to Jumbo's mad fast,

their pumpkins are B-bobbin shizle biscuit

and the ass there is bootylicious. Hee Haw!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I have an Idea!

But I can't figure out how to flip my idea around...this picture was taken at Jillian and Clinton's place (what a great lanp)...but it prompted me to meditate a bit on ideas. I'm a firm believer in ideas and in bringing ideas into fruition. Take my mother for example---she's finally taking her MBA business plan into consideration--homemade applesauce and other assorted sundries. And moving it from plan/paper to reality. Perhaps everyone in Youngstown will get to taste what she has to offer. Then there is Michael who is living his dream of creating his own business, and Jillian who just bought a new loom, I wonder what ideas she will sew, what kind of a life she will weave for herself---and me, bartending and GW. Though I'm idealizing these ideas here, I know that we all face so many challenges that come along with these big dreams. It's not an easy road, but a rewarding one. Someone once told me to find what you love and then figure out how to make a living from that. It's a simple recipe, but more complicated to actually execute. It makes me think again of the words of Maj Ragain, of planting roots and making your whole life the cultivation of those seeds. Today I bought lilies--a stalk of buds and already they have started to open--all week, I will watch them unfold and flower. That is before cutting them and putting them in my head (see? I have all kinds of things growing up there).

Monday, October 10, 2005

Autumn Has Arrived in DC

I opened the door on Sunday and was greeted with that crisp air--for some reason autumn always makes me hopeful and cheerful. Something about the scent of leaves, that cold has a smell. More than that I think it makes me sentimental. I remember what it felt like in Kent, to be walking to class on a fall day. Maybe fall reminds me of the academic life. Of campuses and knowlegde and books. That same feeling was there when I was in NYC, bopping around the Village or the Upper East Side. Nothing was better than pumpkin spice coffee from Rohr's, which reminded me pumpkin spice at the Zephyr. And here, I order it online and come home or wake up to it as it fills the apartment. Not much and everything has changed. Now I'm walking around Foggy Bottom and have settled into the life of part time professor. Just got my section of CW for the spring---a M/F and perhaps will also be teaching 2 (though it depends what everyone else wants as spring semester we move from 18 sections to 12 sections of the intro class). And with the promise of autumn and another semester here come more publications. A sestina in McSweeney's and my first piece of fiction in New Voices! I spent the day working on a revision of my story, A Summer Fabric--though I'm thinking of calling it something else. I have until the 17th to get it as right as I can.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I was so drunk I ate a bunny

Ok, that's not exactly the truth. I prefer to think of it as a culinary experience. It is not often that you do not order the rabbit and then end up with the rabbit. Ramona is still seething at me. I am still pretending it was chicken. Here's the truth. Jean came to town and we were doing it up on the town at Poste (my new favorite DC restaurant). We also had a reason to of my poems was accepted in McSweeney's (the sestina issue). That happened after I had made the reservation, but no matter and no rain was going to stop us. Here is what we looked like at the end of the night---see no drunk bunny's here, though I did have a few cocktails. Pumpkin and pear martinis oh my! And I'm awake before 10 am on a Saturday. So we sit in our booth drinking our fabulous cocktails and then all of a sudden food we didn't order starts coming out so we can try things. It's amazing---the women at the other table were jealous. We were as good as rockstars, no...better! I was feeling pretty good about all of this until the rabbit came. What I pickle...I couldn't say oh no, I don't eat rabbit and insult the chef. So, I ordered another martini and presto chango, I was sedated enough to pick up my fork and tell myself...mmm, chicken. There are many little white lies (kind of like little cute white rabbits) we tell ourselves to get through life. I started thinking about why I needed that one...why are there certain things foreign to us that we have to trick ourselves into thinking they're ok? Perhaps its a trust issue---but we had put ourselves in good hands---Jason our server said we were family---one big Kimpton family :). As sweet as my concord grape cheesecake.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Unlikely Pairings

In writing, I always tell my students that it is contrast that makes something interesting--that a poem or story that has contradictions is one that hits home the most. What I mean is that, sometimes one thing is necessary to bring out the other. Shakespeare did it with Foils and what's good enough to work for him, is good enough to work for them. And it is these contrasts that also work well in food (think chocolate covered pretzels). Last night I had vanilla gelato with aged balsamic vinegar on top. But don't try this one at home kiddies. Apparently it is the rare and aged vinegar from Italy's belly that makes this one work. Though, you know me, I'm going to try it with ice cream and the cheap grocery stuff just to make sure the waiter at Dino is right on the money. And it is also the time of the year to be thinking of contrasts--it's human nature to contradict ourselves. The Jewish Holidays always have me questioning who it is I am and who is it I want to be. When we were younger, being right was pretty much black and white---but I think this is misconception. G-d gives us the examples in the Torah of people being righteous and unjust and the decisions they make are not simple. Next month I will be teaching a workshop at the Jewish Literary festival and so I have been reading up on the ancestors. Particularly Abraham and Sarah. They fumble--they haven't been able to conceive and so Sarah gives Hagar to her husband--perhaps too soon, as G-d will help her later on. The sages discuss her lack of faith, but how much do we leave in G-d's hands and how long before we roll up our sleeves and do the best we can? I think there is a another story here, one that we don't talk about and one that may have some more relevance to us now. Though I'm by far not a scholar in these matters, I propose we interact more with these texts, to roll up our own sleeves and engage in the study of something that matters.

And in these matters, I need some help---if anyone knows of any poems that deal with Biblical texts, please pass them on to me as I'm looking for some examples for this workshop.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Erev Rosh Hashanah

I began my celebration of the new year by taking myself to see Everything is Illuminated--the book is way better...but then again, they always are. Later on this evening I celebrated by having a $10 shake at the diner. Chocolate ice cream and 2 shots of Jim Beam. In between the movie and the bourbon, I started sending out the steam sequence---new year, hopefully new book. Shana Tova and Laila Tova :)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Tea as Narrative

Today I had lunch at ching ching CHA (a Chinese tea house). I wanted as my jasmine blossom unfolded for me and as my friend poured his tea from the clay pot into another pot and then into a holding cup and then the small saucer in which he drank the tea from, I found a sense of beauty and calm amid all the spastic breaths I've been taking. It was as if each of us had a metaphor for drinking our tea a certain way, or perhaps the one for the ways in which we try to carry out our lives. That which opens and slowly unfolds, and that which is about movement and continuity. In this I find the treads for story, for meaning.

I have a glass tea pot at home. One that I bought when Brady's closed in Kent and have never used. It just didn't seem right to drink regular tea from it. Last week it was irises. This week it is orange blossoms that make tea. I think of simplicity--of how much it means to really talk with someone and to be amazed by another.

I received my first copy of The Sun magazine in the mail and have already read the entire thing. None of that, flip flip, only read this, flip flip, look at the pictures stuff. It's quite an exquisite publication--it reminded me of Kent, the place that taught me that writing comes from the heart--poetry, fiction, non-fiction. No matter, whether the ocean or the flower, a true story is unfolding. And in light of the metaphors flying around like butterflies (DC is full of them now...I see at least one a day), I'll let you lead yourself towards the sun. No easy links this time.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pilates and Pumpkin Spice Muffins

A wonderful Saturday morning combo...and visiting my favorite flower guy. Today I have hydrangeas, three ways: blue, pink, and white. The Manage of the flower world...and I got the red daisies for free...I guess you could say I'm becoming a regular. There is just something about having fresh flowers in the apartment and in the hair!!! Don't worry, they match my red top for the Rouge tonight. I'm trying to embody the philosophy of trying to stop and smell the flowers, and encourage others to do so as well--it's easier when they're in my head...I'm learning by osmosis you know...

Friday, September 30, 2005

Looks like I have a blogger addiction

Life at the Rouge is getting along famously. I just found out that I will be getting some Tuesday shifts (which means I'll be the bartender not just the cocktail/bartender). And Reb and I are working on the reading series, which will be last Mondays at the Rouge, but not until January. Check it out:

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

My students full of grace

Tonight I went to my first poetry reading at Grace Church. For some reason, the whole thing reminded me of my friend Katherine who is a pastor (hence, a quite logical connection) in California now, but I knew her from college. The pastor of this church spoke of the connection between music, poetry, and prayer. I thought of lines from Katherine's poems, her spare creeds if you will, her celebration of life.

In class, my students have been championing the poems they call simple, the poems that speak of human condition, of love and haircuts. They call each other's poems winners when they like them a lot. They all have nicknames and identities emerging: the dark one, the one who always comments on titles, the one who writes beach poems, the one who writes poems that make us blush. They love the vivid images and sensory details. Today we debated over the use of the word "undies" in a poem. Was it too cute? Was it just right? I thought the poem was about red, but it was really about pink, but in Hebrew. Now you're turning varod. I giggled too. There is something so humbling in listening to them chatter and discuss. I don't think poetry has ever been so much fun for me.

The other day a friend of mine said he was grateful. I had not been sure of what he meant until today, sitting in the chuch, with the simple arches and high ceiling with a bass player and a poet and thinking back to all of the laughter in class this morning--for all of this, I am grateful.

Monday, September 26, 2005

My Washington Story

Tonight I started writing my "Washington" story after attending a meeting for Washington Write a Story Day. Check out the following link to find out more: I know I'm starting to become a local as I'm starting to run into people more frequently. Last week I ran into my cousin in Dupont and today I ran into my friend Joanne heading out to the metro and one of my students on the Dupont escalator. Imagine my surprise when I hear "Hi Professor Sachs, how are you?" I think the real story is just beginning.

Here is part of it:

We were at Metro Center when I realized something was wrong.
“Do you have the meat?” I asked him.
“No,” he said, “do you?”
“Stop fooling around,” I said. He said he wasn’t.
I pictured a bag of meat riding around by itself on the metro. The whole thing seemed ridiculous.
“Do you think someone will find it?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “What would you do if you found a bag of meat on the train?”
“Leave it,” I said.
David let his fingertips brush against my back as we stood on the escalator.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

More about Purple Flowers

The irises are sitting on the radiator. Last night I went to the Diner after work...nothing like a cheese burger at 2 am to make you feel on top of the world. Don't tell Ramona---she'd call me a hypocrite. The diner has many great qualities to it. One is that there is pac man and all those other old games. You can also get your fortune told in the ladies room. A combo scale and who are you type of thing. Mine said that I give praise when praise is due (and that I also talk too much). That's actually one of my favorite prayers. And it being the time right around the Jewish holidays, it's a time of year when I really think about who I am and who I want to be (as if I didn't already think enough)...

Someone very close to me recently passed. I have been pretty quiet about it because I honestly don't know what to say. Especially in light of all the events of late: Katrina, Rita, the protests here in DC, ther personal struggles people are revealing to me. I've never been the political person, but I recently met someone who is, someone who is doing amazing work, volunteering his time to change the lives of others, and perhaps even the bureacracies that work for humanity, especially in times of disasters. Everyone loves a catalyst. I think of the way the irises open, the way they almost burst. Is it or is it not, metaphor?

Friday, September 23, 2005


I just returned from spinning class---I'm thinking about circles, of going round and round---do we go nowhere or are we going somewhere. I always loved the carosel when I was little, that you always passed those people who were waiting for you, that you kept coming back and moving away from them, that who you wanted, was always around the next curve.

My laundry is also spinning right now and while I just finished eating the chocolate mint bread pudding, mom goes and send me a new recipe. The cycles circling...

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature, divided
3 slices white sandwich bread (about 5 1/4x4 1/4 inches each)
1 cup half and half
2 large eggs1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
1 tablespoon kirsch (clear cherry brandy)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread 2 tablespoons butter over bread slices. Cut bread into 1-inch pieces. Whisk half and half, eggs, vanilla, and 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl to blend. Add bread cubes, chocolate chips, and dried cherries; toss to coat. Divide mixture among six 2/3-cup custard cups. Dot tops with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Bake 10 minutes. Sprinkle puddings with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until tops are browned, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk cream, remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, and kirsch in medium bowl just until slightly thickened. Serve puddings warm with kirsch cream.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

So you wanna open my --- box

Because I have one now, and its got some goodies. Ok, so that question was never posed to me tonight at the Mothertongue reading, but I thought it would be a damn funny opening line. You see, they were giving out free sex boxes---yes, they (meaning the Whitman Walker Clinic) were encouraging safe sex during a poetry reading. I often wonder how far to push things in our writing---if we can write about sex in a public forum, but perhaps because it is something taboo, too many people are misinformed about their choices and wind up in positions they would rather not be in, we need to encourage dialogue, because when we discuss sex, we are essentially discussing life. So now, about my life...

I had met Natalie from mothertongue a few readings ago and tonight's readings proceeds benefitted the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, so there were numerous reasons to go. There are days when we need to be reminded why we do the things we do. Tonight was one of those readings---more raw, words clawing, breath jagged and brazen tongues tying the political to the sexual to the individual collective. I remember going to Open Mic nights at Brady's Cafe in Kent, Ohio to really hear. To see the beauty of what it means to be open, tasted, heard, and alive. I was taken back to those moments of passion when I heard my own voice speaking from inside that place that we name heart, or mind, or soul, those elusive words that I tell my students need to be more specific. Last night I recall asking Robert Pinsky how he translates Biblical text to poetry, hoping to find out more about the art in which we do---b/c I am at a loss to describe the process, of how painting becomes poem in my own work, the nuts and bolts of feeling, perceiving, thinking, describing---but he echoed what I felt tonight--it is like walking or riding a bike. You just move. Tonight the bones shook.

This Time I got to Third in the National Gallery

We're mid-poetry scene. Last night was the Robert Pinsky reading at the JCC and tonight I'm going to shimmy on down to the Black Cat for the monthly mothertongue reading. Reb and I have been busy emailing readers for our new series and I've been miss chatty chat on the phone with writers and host organizations for Washington Writes A Story Day ( Tomorrow is the Thomas Pink fashion show at the Rouge and Sat. is the National Book Festival.

The other day I ended up taking a cab to work and ended with listening to my cabbie do some spoken word and sing some Toni Braxton---and you thought DC was a sleepy little town. Turns out, there's more writers out there. And perhaps she was my inspiration as after class I went to the National Gallery to do some of my own writing. And here's the title teaser of what I wrote that day: Georgia O'Keefe's Vagina. This time I won't write and tell. You'll have to buy me dinner first!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Epic Purple

Tonight I walked home from the DCAC reading in Adams Morgan. It's one of my favorite walks--even though it's all Connecticut (which includes the bridge). It's strange how things pop up. I have been mulling over that "purple" poem for a while and ended up jotting some things down and then on my way home on Kalorama, there was a huge box of stuff outside someone's row house with a sign that said free. So I looked through the goods and found an old white frame with some dried lavender in it. Naturally I slipped it in my purple bag. I was also wearing a purple top. Hence the chain of events Purple to poetry to reading to poetry to purple to poetry...something circular and mysterious. I keep turning over a borrowed phrase comic book midnight and how you can come at purple (use that as metaphor) from so many different angles. I have one draft that I'm really happy with and a few others that also could be interesting. Epic purple perhaps.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I get 3 strikes and then I'm out

That's my drinking policy. Last night after 3 glasses of wine at Bardeo I took myself diagonally home. But is life about knowing your limits or pushing them? I think it's about both, knowing when to say when and knowing when when is a line you can cross. Someone who will remain nameless here gave me some of the best advice I've ever heard. He told me that failure is not failure unless you accept it as that. But to embrace it, in others and yourself. Me being the perfectionist, easier said than done. My grandmother's advice over the phone is a little easier to digest: Eat well and take care of your body. Today I went to pilates (but ate bread pudding for breakfast). I made the chocolate mint one that I mentioned in the blog in August. Great recipe--though I think I would do something about the presentation next time. Ah well, sometimes looks aren't that important.

And sometimes it is the contrast in looks that is appealing. One of my students handed in an amazing poem about that---takes me back to the days when I was a bit brazen myself and wrote a line that goes something like:

I want to be like those girls
who can wear a robe like a slinky
black cocktail dress
and suck a dick
like a parched beggar.

And hence that poem was forever dubbed the suck a dick poem by my friends. I often wondered if that line was too extreme and what people would think about me when I read it (the poem was not about any sexual experiece, but the whole idea of what connotates sexy and sultry).

I think my student did it better than I did--here are a few lines:

He says he loves the contrast
of his dark skin
To my milky white
But I think that what he really means
Is that he wants me from behind

The poem to me is about crossing lines, not just racial and sexual but that of limits and expectations. About taking risks--in thinking it and writing it and I'm honored to receive such a poem. It means there is trust. And poetically and in life, that is something so fragile and sacred. Trust happens after risks do. So here's my advice to you: eat some salad and then go out and do something brazen. Hit one out of the park for me!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

My Milkshake Brings all the Boys to the Rouge

Ok, so I'm not Kleis, but I will be making alcoholic milkshakes at the Rouge tonight. And you thought the $5 ones at Jack Rabbit Slims were good (that's your movie hint folks)...I'm off to infuse and imbibe--enough of that and we'll hold a twist contest!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

11 out of 16 picked Green

Today we discussed using color in your writing and green was by far the most popular. Tomorrow I'm going to pick red, but today I picked purple and here are the random lines that I composed with my students--definitely not a poem yet, but this one is for you Aunt Sue:

The king wielded his power unjustly

his amythyst septer (spelling?)

the sheen of cabernet against crystal

after we had drunk it all

She pinned an orchid behind her ear

not the memory of it

the way it grew in those trees (anyone know the name of them---I saw them in Florida)

to be tucked in & woven around

It was twilight

she was melting

She remembered that he grew violets under flourescent lights in the cellar

It was the 1970's. She wore pants

That night she made eggplant, no aubergine

but she was here now and was having a difficult time slicing it

She thought of lilacs, the way they return year after year,

the scent she could not erase from her memory

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Caught Napping

Today my students had their first workshop experience--I can't even begin to say how wonderful it is that we get to sit around and talk about their work, how wonderful it is that they are writing, how one of them even said to me after class that he really likes the writing exercises. They saw so many wonderful things in each other's work and were not afraid to say so, and were also not afraid to say things to each other when things in the poem weren't clear or they just didn't get. They called each other brave and philosphical, they laughed and smiled as they revealed things about themselves and their work.

I think I need to take a lesson from them---just to be in the sheer moment of language and discovery. I came back from teaching and did the laundry and Moses (the desk clerk in my building) said to me how much I love towork---which I think is ironic considering that I teach for an hour and 15 minutes 4 times a week and work at the bar 2-3 nights a week. It gives me so much time not to work. He struck a chord. I always am working on something. Be it teaching, chores, sending out poems, writing them, the reading series, this blog---there is always something with me. I have always had the need to be busy. But today I slowed down. After laundry I put on my pajamas and took a nap. I had needed to stop and just be.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Frank Polite Poem


The black butterflies of night
Clipped for sleep to nightshade and widowgrief,
Or in shaking luminous flight
On paired and silver wings, are rare,
And rarely seen by human sight.

Yet, they are there, surfacing
Out of range of neons and streetlights,
Preferring underleaf
And the dark offshores of air
To man and moth-maddening glare of things.
Tonight, As crisis after crisis
Cracks our skies like lightning,
I think of death,
Of different ways of dying,
And of Egypt and the myth
That once held black butterflies
Sacred to Isis.

They lived forever in flight
In her private groves, compelled like
Flickering minutes
Never to touch leaf nor stone,
Never to rest, except upon her nakedness
When she turned to love.
And here is death to be envied;
To be crushed to a personal breast
Between goddess
And whatever bird, beast, lover
Fell to her lips.
We are something else. . .

Myth and love will miss us
When the night is suddenly turned on,
Turned blank white,
And the black butterflies
Appear against that vellum sky
As far, flitting, burnt-out stars.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Ramona Goes to Chipotle

The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust, 1871-1922

Not that I really think that Chipotle is a new landscape...but I find it very surprising that I have not written the Chipotle poem...that's my assignment for the week---perhaps I'll give my students the assignment as extra credit. I mean, Joe Wenderoth wrote a whole book, Letters to Wendy's so it's definitely a literary thing to do.

The other day we named our fall drinks at the Rouge. What a way to combine my English major and bartending right? Reb and Chris stopped in for some Mange a Trois action that night too before the reading at Printmakers. I was wearing the skirt that someone a while back told me to be careful in---something like you better wear that skirt before it wears you. I think Ramona will wear it too, when she meets her burrito beau! Ole senorita!

Friday, September 09, 2005

My Babies

So, by 5pm today I will have the entire first batch of poems from my students (some are emailing them to me b/c we lost a day with Labor Day). Some have emailed earlier and I don't know why, but poems always seem to make me a little giddy. Though Honi Jeffers writes "a child cannot be like a poem" I somethimes think a poem is like a child---there you are sending it out into the world, perhaps you want it to fly to a major press, though as I tell my students, it is the flight, the process that matters, not the product, nor the destination.

Today I'm going to enjoy a whole day of process---no teaching, no bar. Just me, the gym, the record store, cleaning the apartment, the laundry, the post office (I'm sending some poems toward the Heartland) and 33 new poems by 33 amazing younger poets.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sandra Beasley's Salon at Chapters

I haven't been to a reading in such a long time that made me think of why any of us writes, and writes poetry for that matter. Readings where the room almost falls away and all there are are words upon words and someone churning them around over her head until the words are air, then they are thick, and somehow you are both there and not there, somewhere in the middle of rapture and consciousness in which you begin to understand why language matters. I don't suppose I'm doing justice to de-mystify poetry (which is what I had thought I wanted to do for my students who seem to prefer Dave Matthews over any poet, which I'm hoping is just because Dave is more familiar) nor do I think it can be deconstructed. Why I wonder do so many people have an aversion to that which I love, that which I was drawn to since middle school.

Today in class we talked briefly about the magic of language, that childhood sense of wonder and fascination with magic, with the imagination. We also talked about the simplicity of language, of William Carlos Williams, and the edge of Gwendolyn Brooks. Frannie Lindsay and DanaRoeser were the living embodiment of this dialogue translated to live poetry reading.

This was also my first time at Chapter's bookstore, a wonderful independent bookstore---served as the perfect backdrop for the reading. And the former poor starving writing was glad that they served wine, sparkling water, and some light fare afterwards to entice people to stay and muse awhile. And the latter young professor in me poured herself a glass of sparkling lemonade and lingered.

Kimpton Cares

that's the jargon at the hotel/bar, but it's not jargon---at least I don't believe so. I'm so glad to be affiliated with an employer who really seems to care about their employees and the world we live in. Please visit and click on the Katrina relief button at the top of the page.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Labor Day Weekend Flowers and Weeds

When I went to summer camp, we used to play this game called flowers and weeds at the end of every day. Basically, your flowers were good things that happened and your weeds were the not so good ones. And since going home always brings up a nostalgic feeling--I thought I'd play again.

Thursday after my second first class (I'm teaching 2 sections of Intro) I metroed (is that the right verb tense) home but stopped at my favorite new neighborhood deli/cafe because they have oreo cookies and we're not talking Nabisco, we're talking chocolate cookie with marscapone filling (kind of like and ice cream sandwich, but icing, not ice cream). I spent all my lunch eyeing the cookies in the bakery case (and the guy behind the case---I think he's someone Ramona would go for). He packed the cookie nicely for me so I could enjoy on the airplane. I'm not sure if mom's oriental chicken salad or swing dancing later than night beats it out so for Thursday, I have a three way flower :)

Friday my flower would definitely have to be going to the spa with my mom. We went to Casal's in Howland and had the most amazing pedicures with aromatherapy. I also had a facial and got to kick back and read fashion mags while sipping fruity water. All you do is put frozen fruit in water and bam, swanky drink---though not as swanky as the drinks on Sunday (Doris's favorite day to drink). I think the whole day was a flower.

Saturday was the big day, fair day!!! Mom, Jean and Patty (her mom) and I trashed it up big for the Canfield fair...going always makes you think that it's still the 80's, big hair and beer bellies!!! The first fair fries were pretty disappointing but we found better. The fried pickles were the weed. I should have opted for the fried cheesecake instead. The flower was visiting the vegetable barn with mom--much good material for Ramona.

Sunday I had brunch with the girls (and a few brought their boys). And there's a Coldstone there, a potential flower, I knew that it was a flower because there were so many bees around. Annie made me sign her Kent Stater Alumni mag--there's a nice blurb about GW and BAP, but they have me as graduating in '02, not '01...well, Kent read, Kent write, Kent do math...or so the saying goes.

Then on to dinner at my dad's for Grandma's 82nd birthday. Here are 2 drinks to celebrate. Orange Martini made with vodka and orangello and Van Gogh has espresso vodka which is great chilled. Bottom's up and tonight's flowers were served up, no rocks.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

There will be no Corn Dogs in the Dark Room

I'm so glad I made the decision to teach and work at the Bar. I taught from 9:35-10:50, did work on campus until about noon, had a fabulous lunch at the Galileo with Mattie, walked to the Bar to pick up my due backs, deposited them, stoppped at Thomas Pink---the designer that's having their fashion show at Rouge in September just to check out the goodies. Learned that I'm a ladies 12 (that's British sizes) and found a place where I can actually wear a button down without any of my goodies peaking out. Too bad their shirts are $140. If anyone sees me in one anytime soon, yell at me, unless it's part of the deal for hosting the show. Finally, I wasn't shopping (see Mattie, I don't have a serious problem). Then, I came home, worked on some writing, Washington Writes a Story Day and the Reading Series. Without the input of my lovely co-host, I'm thinking about calling it The Dark Room reading series (that's the name of the room in the Rouge). Do you guys think Reb will go for it? Don't know Reb, click here to learn about who I'm shackin' up with at the Rouge:

And any of you want to come in the Dark Room with us, please email me some poems and tell me why you like it in the Dark: We'll be there in January, last Monday of every month.

Tomorrow I'm heading home to spend some time with friends, family, and the Canfield Fair. Fried anything on a stick, though I prefer the french fries and lemon shakes. Call me old fashioned. Yes, I'm that kind of a girl. My cousin is the one who's all about the corn dogs.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Yogurt is such a great sounding word

I'm wondering how to work it into a poem in an original way. Jane Kenyon has a great poem called Man Eating (see above). The poem is so good, I decided to put it up, blogger has just been deciding to duplicate all pictures I upload. Ah well, when I was a teacher, they told me that I should always repeat the really important things.

Still sore from yesterday's Body Combat workout at the gym, but I went anyway this morning after breakfast. I've taken to making my own yogurt as the grocery's flavors are lacking. I but plain and add blueberries, chocolate chips, and granola. Enjoying my last day of not having any real agenda---classes start tomorrow at GW! Tonight is the big faculty potluck dinner and department meeting. I'll be sporting a new silk top that I bought at a thrift store in Takoma Park for a steal and my famous chocolate raspberry brownies.

Monday, August 29, 2005

This is how I know I have been watching too much sex and the city

Can we have our cake and eat it too? The old adage tells us we can't, but in a media, technology centered gimme society in which patience is shoved out the window and emails travel a mile a minute, how do we find the way to slow down and not always want the bigger, better piece? When do we decide to step off the fast track and not feel guilty for doing so? When will enough be enough?

In terms of relationships it seems that we always want our cake and to eat it to and then when we get to eat it, we don't want it anymore. The other day a few of us got into a heated discussion of why people cheat in relationships. This customer said it was natural that people cheat---they can't eat the same cake day in and day out---hence, your favorite becomes tiresome if you repeat it all the time. My mom once decided to eat only desserts in college until she got so sick of them she stopped eating them. There is a time when enough becomes too much.

I find myself questioning what it is that I want. It seems that I'm always drawn to the same flavor, though I do pride myself on having and eclectic pallet. Yesterday I had a scoop of bittersweet at this fabulous ice cream shop in Takoma Park and that's what seems appropriate now, the irony of bittersweetness. I always take my cake a la mode!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

There is much good in the world

Last night at the bar I had some amazing conversations with various drinkers--see mom, the bar is not all about getting bendered :). I spent a long time talking to the most fascinating middle aged woman---she's lived all over the world, has been an executive chef, speaks a few languages, throws amazing parties, still shops at Banana Republic, knows all about wine...all in all, I think she's had about 17 different lives and is now going back to school for interior design. She reminded me a little bit of a woman I used to teach with in the Bronx and my step grandmother who took up painting in her 70's...

These are women who are living life to the fullest---like the lines from my favorite movie Dead Poet's Society (Carpe Diem and gather ye rosebuds while ye may). Today I gathered some orchids after pilates and submitted my Mango Salmon recipe to a contest and then it's off to the Rouge again. Hoping to work on some poems, but have been getting sucked in to watch my Sex and the City DVDs lately...

So, in terms of good, fashion, and making the world a better place, this event sounds like it's in the bag:

Funky Diva Purse Auction
Cleveland Rape Crisis Center
Hector Vega
Artefino Gallery
Tower Press Building
1900 Superior Avenue

Local artist and gallery owner Hector Vega and the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (CRCC) are launching a unique fund raiser called the Funky Diva Purse Auction to be held Saturday, November 12, 2005 at the Tower Press Building, 1900 Superior Avenue. Fifty select artists are creating a work of art out of a stylish template handbag that has been created especially for this event. These custom, wearable works of art will be stuffed with a variety of priceless goodies including jewelry, spa, restaurant, shopping and experience gift certificates for your favorite pampered diva. The funky, one-of-a-kind purses will be on view and then auctioned off on November 12. This will be a juried show judged by a panel local community leaders, artists, celebrities and fashionistas. Prizes will be awarded to artists who create the best bags in different categories including Girl Power, Most Cleveland, and Bling Bling. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Strike...Beer Soup? and my new found Jedi powers!

No one ever made it to third base at the Rouge tonight...sigh. It was slow and walking out, lifting the velvet rope (those of you who have been can probably see me doing this), and holding my bag and Aqua Panna (the $4 water, can we say snoooooty!), I watered my own flowers in my head---and a bunch of cuties were watching. Reminds me of that time in college roller blading down the hill on Summit and grass staining my entire body in front of a bunch of frat guys---and they think I'm graceful at the bar the way I don't spill anyone else's drinks.

So, my cousin posted a recipe on her blog. I think it sounds like bloody mary meets gazpacho but cheers cuz'! Perhaps we'll try it at the Rouge--hey it's red isn't it?

Here's the how to:

Chilled Tomato-Beer Soup
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Chilling time: 4 hours
Servings: 8

Note: Green garlic is available at farmers markets. You may substitute blanched, chopped regular garlic.
Ingredients:4 cups peeled, seeded and diced very ripe tomatoes (about 10 medium)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, trimmed and chopped
2 tsps. chopped green garlic
1 (12-ounce) bottle very cold Pilsener or lager
1 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsps. chopped chives

1. Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, green onions and garlic in a blender and process until smooth.
2. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Cover and chill at least 4 hours.
3. Just before serving, stir in the beer. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chives and serve at once. (source from L.A. Times)

Have been working on my Jedi skills. I can now will people to do what I want. So, I was at Wrap Works and no one was in there and this family with way too many kids sits at the table next to me while I am reading and the kids are like all over the place and I'm thinking why the hell are they so close to me. So they get settled, drinks, wraps and all. Then they get up and move to a table outside. I willed them to disappear and they did. I also willed 20% and it happened on almost every check. I really don't know how it works, but Shannon and I were on tonight. It's kind of like wishing, like Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz saying there's no place like home, or like Samantha from Bewitched twitching her nose. The good old fashion mind over matter or if you will it, it is no dream. So next time you want something, just close your eyes, and say a little prayer or do a little dance and most importantly, just desire it to be so and you'll surprise yourself (hey, I'm blogging at midnight, give me some credit---it really works (said in my made for tv infomercial voice) and I'm getting away with too many parenthesis right now).

BJs at the Rouge Tonight

for under $10...and that's a classy drink folks! That's right, tonight's special drink is the BJ shot and props to anyone who can do 37...hint hint for tonight's movie selection. There will also be complimentary Slim Jim's at the bar as if you needed another hint hint. So much for this being discreet business.

Also on the radar, the reading series is a go and so I'll be co-curating with the fabulous Reb Livingston, DC's sexiest poetry reading in the winter. More on that to come.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

No Borders Here

if you want to read some international writers:

As I'm getting ready for the semester, I'm trying to find all of the resources available and since I've added an independent study of a poet of a student's choosing, I'm trying to find as many places to point them in the direction of "discovering" the voice of another writer, someone who they will connect with. And I'm starting to reflect and remember all of those writers who built a bridge for me, who encouraged me to walk this far, to not look down, to remember where I had been and to lead me to new worlds.

In other places with no borders, last night I learned that to have a bender with someone was Aussie for getting drunk and this morning I woke up and went into my bathroom only to find that one of my ceiling spiders (that's where they normally like to stay when the come over b/c they know I'm scared to death of brooming them down and having them fall on my bed) decided to cross some borders and sit right on my dental floss...perhaps thinking he could be creative and add that to his web. I was slightly bent! and had no qualms about letting him know that he crossed the line.

And for my now deceased house guest spider, an elegy penned by Rock Star poet Rod Smith:

These are spiders. They are happy spiders. They fill the bugles of the nutbrained beaming throughscape most happy to collate.
Other spiders live in the soft languish of the original underpants.
Come, live with the spiders, come, join them, in the long hibernation dream of the original underpants, Mr. Jones.

Some of the spiders are not called anything because they are happy.
This is my new style. How do you like it?
It has caused me great personal anguish.

This is only a section from the spider poems. For the full frontal, click below:

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Movin' on Up!

After coming back from an intense work out at the gym this morning, I came back to find my appointment letter from GW--not only did my salary go up (a hair) but I have this swanky new title...I went from lecturer to Assistant Professorial Lecturer. And my apartment still has water. Yesterday I found out there wouldn't be any today because they are doing boiler I showered at the gym for nothing. Ah well. Tonight I'll be making a guest appearance at the Topaz Bar (another one in the Kimpton family). So come see me for some insight on the rocks:

Monday, August 22, 2005

These peaches were not slimy

For some reason my cousin and I used to say "slimy peaches" instead of "cheese" when taking pictures. I wonder how we came up with that. I don't think I've ever referred to peaches as being slimy. Last night's certainly weren't. It was one of those perfect writer dinner parties. I made the famous mango salmon and Mattie made an amazing salad with toasted walnuts and mandarin oranges and for dessert, we had broiled white peaches with a blackberry port sauce--a joint collaboration. The theme for the night was fruit, our version of Iron Chef. Mattie spilled the beans...we were going to have Reb and Chris guess. And of course the great poetry gossip, which will remain on the hush hush. But here are somethings to wet your whistles (depending on your whistle, take your pick...1. Reb brought me some fabulous French panties from her recent trip (KR, eat your heart out--no you won't find pictures of these) 2. looks like the reading series that Reb and I are co-curating is going to be a go at the Rouge. Spoke to the boss and she's on board and speaking of readings, 3. scored an invite (perhaps from my role as Dead Roses at the Lucipo reading about a month ago) to read at Red Emmas in Baltimore the first Saturday in November.

Today I spent the day working on my own writing (hence the absence from the blog) and took one of those sweet afternoon naps.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Breaking Bread with Karen Kovacik

When I tell people I write poetry, they always ask what it to picking out a flavor of ice cream. I write mint chocolate chip poems. Ah, if only the answer were that simple. So after some thought, I think I have my answer. I write poems about humanity...poems that ask us to imagine our lives and the lives of others. Poetry is somewhat like a heartbeat, it allows us to hear our own lives. When I think about most of my poems, I realize they are heavily people centered. There is always a character (Ramona, the artists, Doris, the woman...)

I think poetry is something that we can use to speak to and understand one another. I'll give an example here. Karen Kovacik's new book Metropolis Burning has just been published by the Poetry Center at Cleveland State University. Below you will find one of her poems (I may have messed up some of the line breaks due to the copy/paste function). Break bread with her...

With electricity cut by NATO bombs, she waits in candlelight for her customers. —New York Times photo caption, May 24, 1999

Her shoulders ache.
In ten minutes they will wander in from the cellars,
wanting breakfast for the children,
a sandwich loaf, something crusty that would stand up to soup.
The line will curl through the dark shop.
They will point, choose, and their purchases she will tally by hand.
Later, there’ll be a rock concert, a rally.
By then, if she’s lucky, she’ll be asleep under feathers,
dreaming of the tiny horns named for cuckolds
and whether they will lose their curl in the ovens,
for the young ones, deprived of Ninja Turtles,
are hungry for these pointy buns.


This is my body, this is yours
The sour mother rising in the bowl
will bring forth fingers, horns, and plaits
O armpit of pumpernickel,
groin of corn give it to us black and blonde
Sink into the beds of our bellies and grow us new bones


Offer it with salt to welcome a weary traveller
Sign each braid with a cross before baking
He who steps on a crumb will make the souls in limbo weep
Drop a slice on the floor—kiss it before eating
Salute the bride with a loaf, and she will be happy in bed


Blessed are the Slovenes, for they are the cake-makers
Blessed are the Croats, for they excel at fish
Blessed the Dalmatians, for their black wine gave birth to philosophy
Blessed the Montenegrins, for their honey pastries console bitter coffee
Blessed, too, the Bosnians for the subtlety of their tongues—
who else would season veal with lemon and hibiscus?
Blessed the Serbs, for their bean soup makes foreign clerics sweat
Blessed the Herzegovinians, for their silver wine strengthens friendships
Blessed the Macedonians, for their puddings of pumpkin sweeten a heavy feast
Blessed the Albanians for their love of cinnamon
And blessed are the olive trees and vineyards, goats and sheep,
for they serve both parable and table
Blessed are the mint and dill, for they are the peacemakers
And blessed the yeast and sponge, the sour-gray loaves, for they have inherited the earth

Karen Kovacik was born in East Chicago, Indiana, in 1959. She currently teaches creative writing and literature in the Department of English at Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis. Her book, Beyond the Velvet Curtain, winner of the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, appeared from Kent State University Press in fall 1999. Her translations of contemporary Polish poetry have appeared in , and Graham House Review.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Singing the Bacon Blues

No, actually, I never quite made it as a folk singer, though it has always been one of my dreams. But speaking of bacon, check this out:

No, Ramona will not be making any of these receipes in her kitchen (right now she's grilling portobellas and red peppers) but for my non-kosher friends, bring it!

Though I have a confession. Over the summer I went to a diner in PA and ordered blueberry pancakes and wanted something to go with them, so I broke down. I ordered the side of country bacon...we're not talking any of that grocery store nonsense---it was a serious hunk of pork, probably one of the best things I have ever eaten. I don't know why that meal tasted so good. Perhaps because it was something forbidden, perhaps because I was breaking away from what I normally would do. It felt good, rebellious, perhaps even a bit scandalous. Sometimes you just have to break the mold, step outside the comfort zone.

It's Thursday, another dynamite one at the Rouge. You know you want the free tots.