Saturday, January 16, 2010

Proust questionnaire

(via A Momentary Taste of Being)

Your favorite virtue: Compassion.

Your chief characteristic: A very good memory for trivial things; garrulity.

Your main fault: Laziness, I fear.

Your favourite occupation: Wandering through used bookstores; reading; blogging.

Your idea of happiness: Being among friends. Writing. Peace and quiet. Autumn.

Your idea of misery: The late spring and early summer of 2003, when I was hospitalized and under the care of The Least Compassionate Doctor In The World.

If not yourself, who would you be: A famous poet or an obscure monk.

Where would you like to live: Alaska, or any place with cool summers.

Your favourite colour and flower: Blue, I think, in spite of the purple of my prose! Rose or carnation.

Your favorite prose authors: Oscar Wilde, Walker Percy, Marianne Moore for her reviews and essays, Donald Hall for his writing on poetry and on Eagle Pond

Your favorite poets: Dylan Thomas, Edward Estlin Cummings, William Shakespeare, Theodore Roethke, Emily Dickinson, John Ashbery (guilty pleasure), Kenneth Koch, Wallace Stevens, and lately Mary Oliver.

Your favorite heroes in fiction: I don't read much fiction, but can identify with Tom More of Walker Percy's Love in the Ruins.

Your favorite heroines in fiction: ?

Least favorite heroines in fiction: ?

Least favorite male characters in fiction: ?

Your favorite painters and composers: Composers: Mozart for the Requiem, Schubert for Ave Maria, The Beatles. Painters: Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dalí.

Your heroes/heroines in real life: The two most recent Bishops of Rome; several saints and martyrs of holy Church. Literary heroes include Edward Estlin Cummings and Marianne Moore.

What characters in history do you most dislike: Anyone who persecuted the Church.

Your favorite food and drink: Pizza, pasta; beer, wine, gin martinis, "clear water, cold, so cold."

Your favorite names: Elizabeth (with a "z", not with an "s"!)

What I hate the most: Excessively hot weather; bullies of any variety.

World history characters I hate the most: Wasn't this already asked?

The military event I admire the most: ?

The reform I admire the most: Any attempt to preserve or to restore liturgical dignity to the celebration of Mass in the Roman Catholic Church.

The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with: Singing.

How I wish to die: Not suddenly! Prepared, and in the state of grace.

What is your present state of mind: Trying to forget about some tedious errands I have to do next Tuesday, but otherwise upbeat.

For what fault have you most toleration: A fault or a sign of a disease? I tend not to condemn persons who indulge excessively in alcohol.

Your favorite motto: I like Mallarmé's line (not really a motto, but noteworthy nonetheless): "Poems are made of words, not of ideas." Marianne Moore: "Humility is a quality that attracts our admiration oftener than it impels our imitation" (inexact; from memory). Cummings: "unbeingdead isn't beingalive."

Emily Dickinson

(from a letter)

The Sailor cannot see the North --
but knows the Needle can --


Yam yaw plinth shouts, "Lirpa! Bend splurb!"
And the beeswax brigade zithers, "No fie! Piazza!"
Fat rivers mow plows with laughter's daughters, and Pluto's
Platonic lobby sneezes, "Root beer conundrum!"

Oat my nubby! Chewable pamplona dingbat!
Pink squelch of caparisoned rubaiyat, field felt.
What goes with por favor better than pity back curl?
The lottery brink should exult, "Nab mabel flap!"

Intimate punchdrunk rebellions succeed George Meredith's
Armoire, and purchase rustling shadows for my onliest best :
Wade righteous, ye swabs, through sorrows by the rind muck hamper.
Experience, thou proper Glaswegian! Fractional bunch of grapes!

So long as funnels leak or sieves drain dry,
So long lives Petrarch O'Herlihy, Private Eye.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Arthur Golding

For those of you who have suffered patiently through the surrealistic exuberances posted here in recent days (and I fear there may be more to come!), a link to some real poetry : Arthur Golding's mammoth 1567 translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, with prefatory epistle in verse.

Five poems

Wine, guitars, blue bulls, red sun,
outmoded whispers --


The haiku of blue
by Kobayashi-Rimbaud
shines like jolie lune ...


traceries of yestermorn,
forgeries of night


Hoosegow bumpkin strums
a mighty mandolin


Weightless grams of simple sound --
eccola! Spring rain
drops like light


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Etymologies of circumstance

Should come.
Whelmed thicket.

Went while.
Journeyings oft.

Bright other.
Peasant pleasant.

With lunch.
Made fact.

Crass what.
And clash.

We see.
Yes after.

Abscond properties.
Filchpenny Square.

Gallon whole.
Cloned incline.

Apply aptly.
Bend therefore.

Stopping station.
Derelict dactyl.

Reason seasons.
Much struggle.

Facile starter.
Disrobe burlap.

Weep vale.
Comfort confront.

Lung space.
Achieves aim.

Have you.
Whence voice.

Lark spark.
Holiday concert.

Scribble straw.
Hexed native.

Finished missive.
Spoke speech.



Hoi polloi,
Look at the clock,
So golden, so gray!


Second mug of coffee now.
Can I jingle? Tell me how.
Grant me wit to spin a rhyme,
Wind a yarn in mirthful time,
Tell a tale of long and short,
Drinking coffee by the quart:
Put it in a gallon-jug,
Or (more modest) in a mug.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Memo to Pat Robertson

Please. Shut. Up.

Suggestion box

Celebrities are ghosts on the oblong glass. With voices as graspable as a wavelet's delicate motion, are they worth going green over? Pas du tout. And as for the pseudonymity of last year's valentines, dropped through the slot of an erstwhile address, should it raise the hackles of a copper weathervane? Slapping the breeze on its back is a fractious pastime. Let all tin-can quibbles grow placid. Don't lash out at the spectres of someone else's daydream. Spare Miss Watkins and her two cheerful cheeks. Don't wring the neck of the cinema's dapper usher. Don't fling rocks at chickadees because they chirrup so yellow and blithe. Unsnit the remains of daylight. Have some peace, and a snippet of splendor.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I loaf and loiter at my ease. Misquoting the textbook, and improving it a bit.

Where are the words that will enchant the hooligans? They're comin' up on PBS.

A vegetarian's obnoxious virtue. And clever games, and talk of mercy.

It's the best thing on commercial television. So I've heard. I haven't watched television since the Watergate hearings.

The vowel-and-consonant distribution of exotic names.

One is a juice and one is a "beverage."

Attention is a loan shark. Pay attention.

Carols and lessons at three o'clock. I'll be asleep, in all likelihood.

O spirit of optimism, am I man enough to sustain thy cordial stresses?

There's a party next Thursday night at seven. Will you be there? We're meeting at the Bow and Arrow Pub.

We don't know each other, but I met you in the summer. I don't have any college degrees. In fact, my presence here is probably lowering property values.

Why not just listen to the radio? I love a rainy night.

I was sixteen before I could mispronounce "Adonaïs" correctly.

It's patently obvious that we are becoming inventive.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Beshrew this Persian form, this sticky glue-puzzle!
I'm ready to throw it out and start a new puzzle.

Give me synesthesia and a splash of color,
Give me tradition, apple pie, a true-blue puzzle.

Give me nuts and bolts, brass tacks, the hard facts,
Give me a child-proof difficult-to-unscrew puzzle.

I despise the ease of pedestrian enigmas,
Of the winding path, of the pebble-in-the-shoe puzzle.

I require a larger-than-life brain-tease, a tall order;
Give me a six-foot-eleven or seven-foot-two puzzle.

It's hard to write a ghazal when you've had beer to guzzle,
But I'm willing to try a hearty stout, a dark brew-puzzle.

Where are you going with this, O Eastie-bred dylan?
I'm off to Wales to solve a Cwmrhydyceirw puzzle.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


O coffee most matutinal and mighty!
O fortifying friend! O cup o' joe!
You strengthen and you waken sluggish brains!
O happy Saturday of indoor leisure!
Long morning at the keyboard, with a mug
Full of your dark mysterious potency!

O energizing java, you inspire
Poets across the continents and oceans
To sing your praise with strenuous hearty sounds!
Critics may counsel calmer beverages,
Elegant orange juice or Adam's ale,
But we find joy in you, O coffee bold!