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.