Thursday, September 29, 2005

Publishing opportunity


"Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread."
~ Pablo Neruda from Confieso Que He Vivido: Memorias, 1974

The Making of Peace Poetry Broadside Series is a response from poets who are working towards peace and goodwill in the world and want to see an end to the war in Iraq.

This project will produce a series of finely designed broadsides to be displayed in independent bookstores, libraries, and museums across the US during National Poetry Month 2006. Each broadside will be 4.5 x 5.5 and printed on environmentally-friendly paper.

Along with the displayed broadsides, a limited edition of broadsides will be produced and distributed to the public during literary and non-literary events. The total number of broadsides printed in limited edition will represent the number of US soldiers that have been killed during the war in Iraq; each broadside will represent the life of a soldier. We are estimating there will be between 75 - 300 of each limited edition broadside printed depending on the number of poems selected and the number of US casualties at the time of printing.

Each poet chosen to be part of the broadside series will receive ten copies of his/her broadside along with a full set of the broadside series.


Submit 1-3 poems, unpublished or previously published poems with the theme of peace, hope, and/or humanity. Poems should be 30 lines or less. Please include cover letter, short bio, and SASE.

We are looking for well-crafted poems on any subject matter that are inspired or focused on the theme of peace, hope, humanity, and/or the idea of a world family. We are open to work that encompasses a specific response or offer a larger vision of our world. Poems do not have to be a direct response to the war, but can be.

Submissions should be postmarked by November 30, 2005.

All submissions should be original work and mailed to:
The Making of Peace: Poetry Broadside Series
c/o Kelli Russell Agodon
P.O. Box 1524
Kingston, WA 98346

Questions or comments about the project can be sent to:

Friday, September 23, 2005

The wind and the wall

Some of the graffiti in Oaxaca is wonderful. This is a photo I took on our last trip south. I've got better versions of this collage but I just don't have the energy to hunt for them tonight.

The second line of the poem is the toast my brother made one wintery Seattle night over a candle lit spaghetti dinner we cooked. We sat down to eat with my three children and, raising his wine glass, he turned to my daughter and said, "Tell them about us". That was a long time ago. Funny how life twists and turns. These days my daughter doesn't speak to me and my oldest son and I have been estranged for years. I can't even begin to describe how painful this is.

I'm leaving for Mexico in just over a week. There's so much yet to do. And more than can never be undone. And so much more that will be left undone forever.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I don't want to jinx the plans, but we're scheduled to leave for Mexico on October 1st for six weeks. I have to start planning and packing and that means first I come here and grumble. I dread packing for these trips. There's not a lot of room in the jeep to start with and I only get a small section for my necessities, all which must be stuffed into the tiny area behind the passenger seat. The rest of the available space is crammed with camping gear, tools and there's a small area for Don Jefe's things. He travels light and I travel heavy and never hear the end of it. Anyway, the trip is looming so I'm creaking into gear. This time we're headed for the Yucatan to poke around some newly discovered Mayan ruins. Of course it will be wonderful but I resist everything. Don Jefe considers it his personal mission to channel me in the new direction and that is when the fun begins.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

French Quarter storm wraiths

I love the gusto of Apocalypse N.O.", Joshua Clark's blog chronicling life in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. At least until the beer and Pinot Grigio run out, he and a few other storm wraiths are having a rollicking good time hold-up in the French Quarter as he says, "partying at the end of the world".

I understand Clark's revulsion at the thought of being stuffed back into a tidy, air-conditioned world. I'm not thirty and I don't drink anymore, so some of the romance of their situation would be lost on me, but I still seek ways to touch the abyss. It's not only that I enjoy it, in some intangible but critical way it's indespensible to my life as a poet and a human being. For the same reason, I see that Clark and his friends are on a necessary journey. Check it out before they get evicted.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Tonopah, Queen of the Silver Camps

I just got back from a weekend conference in Tonopah (central Nevada). As usual, I spent most of my lunchbreak and late Saturday night photographing the place. In her day Tonopah was known as the Queen of the Silver Camps and it was here that the final chapter in the settlement of the American West was written. During the bonanza days, Tonopah had a population of 10,000 and sprawled over the hills. Now most of the place has fallen into the dust. Today Tonopah is a tribute to high hopes, hard times, bad winters and not so quiet desperation. Even the old, boarded up church on the hill had its time of reckoning and the moon herself lays low when she's in town as though even she dreads the undertow.

In Tonopah, nothing and no one is taken for granted. In a place as lonely as this, the ghosts are not only tolerated, they are a welcome part of the town's citizenry.

There's a Bird Garden Buffet in Tonopahbut for some crazy reason it's not open to pigeons! Plonk would definitely not like Tonopah but it's is my kind of place, a wreck and a relic. Tonopah has good coffee, generally friendly neighbors and history. What more can one ask for?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Body bags and image politics


Keeping with the fundamentals of neoconservative leadership, Perception Management, now sacked Bushman and now X FEMA Director Michael Brown's primary concern five hours after the Hurricane Katrina hit land was to "convey a positive "image" of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public." To that end he asked for permission to send one thousand federal workers to New Orleans to assist rescue operations. Reality Check. This week, Louisiana officials prepared for the next stage of the recovery operation by amassing 25,000 body bags.

The idea of body bags is a hard one to manage. The Image Manipulators do everything in their power to keep that image out of the public eye. "Body bags" blow the soft focus and mood music Bush needs to look legitimate. But Hurricane Katrina even tore the roof off of Bush's carefully guarded secret and gave the world a peek at what a truly incompetent boob this guy actually is. Team Turd Blossom is scrambling to re-plant their patented PR Sleeper Bullet in the national psyche and save the day but I hope people manage to stay awake long enough to connect a few more dots because Bush, the poofter who golfed while Katrina shredded the gulf, is the same jackal who lied us into this unwinnable war in the middle east. And that's still just the tip of the shit iceberg.

If you've been getting your "news" from FOX TV and other propaganda organs for this administration I suggest you refresh your definition of the word "reality". Look it up. You'll find it between "rapture" and "salvation" in the dictionary.

Reality TV cartoon source.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Death of Yogi Nugget

It's a sad day around here today. This morning I discovered that Yogi Nugget died. I realize that with all the disaster and death that's going on in the world, especially now, this news is about as insignificant as insignificant can possibly get but still I care. Life is life. I will miss her.

I'm leaving for Tonopah tomorrow for the weekend, then I'll be in Oregon most of next week but I will post more photos and story as soon as I get the chance. They'll be in the Cockroach Diary.

Ps. I just got my first visitor from New Orleans since Katrina hit. Good to see people are getting back online. That part of the stats map has been dark for days. Welcome back!

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Deadman's best friend

"A man died of a seizure five days ago
-- and his dog has stayed by his side ever since --
at a gas station in the Gentilly Woods area of New Orleans."
(Sept. 1st, by Andrea Bruce -- The Washington Post)

Censoring the dead

From the beginning the bodies of military personal killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been brought back to the US under cover of darkness. The administration doesn't want Americans grasping the reality of the situation. Now the government is doing the same thing with the bodies of the dead strewn throughout New Orleans. Like the soldiers, Bush wants to keep them out of sight and has ordered a media black out on images of corpses. If he had given New Orleans the money it requested, desperately needed, to repair the levees the damage and death toll would have been much less.

Now Bush has decided to head up the investigation into his administration's criminally inadequate response. I can't believe people are going for it. Naturally he won't find himself or his bungling, bloated bureaucracy guilty of anything. It's really disheartening.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Animals in Katrina's wake

Hurricane Katrina left countless animals abandoned and starving on the streets. They need help too. Please write congress and the senate and insist that federal rescue operations include them. Also ask that animal welfare organizations be allowed into the area to do their work.


Congressional representatives

Humane Society Disaster Relief Fund
North Shore Animal League of America

International Fund for Animal Welfare
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Sunday, September 4, 2005

NBC interview of Aaron Broussard in Jefferson Parrish

Watch this interview with Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parrish in New Orleans. Remember it when you're being inundated by the lies the Bush Administration has launched on the American people. If we let Bush & Co. continue in their charade then we continue to let them get away with murder. When is enough finally going to be enough? Interview.

Poetry fops

Poetry is a hard gig. It attracts snobs, fops, and experts. Most of it isn't and most po-ets aren't. In fact to call oneself a poet is to invite self-delusion, skepticism, ridicule and shame. And clueless critiques. Which brings me to the subject of my current rant.

I finally got the critique of the poems I submitted to the Nevada Arts Council fellowship panel last spring. You may remember I did not make it past the first cut. At the public judging, one of the judges, heaping praise on the winning contestant, exclaimed her socks were detonated by the line, "I have seen heaven and it looks like Paris". How can I compete? Ah well. Perhaps I am just bitter.

It is clear I did not please the judges. They wrote that they were confused and disoriented by my poems which, obviously to them, is a bad thing. I call it a good beginning but what do I know? Oh well. There's no going back. I'm doomed and nobody likes me. All rightie then. Enough throat clearing. On to the comments...

"There are some marvelous moments here. Taken as a whole, though, the poetry here is a bit uneven. There is something of the mystic-poet here; one is reminded at times of William Blake, at other times, of T.S. Eliot.

I sense no real unity in these poems. Their structure and arrangement shift from poem to poem and from moment to moment in some poems. Occasionally there is an interesting insight or moment of wisdom such as "For every prayer / there is an equal / and opposite prayer." The irregularity of the line lengths makes it seem like there is no design. The images in "Road's Eye View" are captivating, but the second stanza is confusing and disorienting. The poet seems to be focused on and oriented towards moments, some of them entrancing, but those moments don't add up to a coherent all-encompassing effect or anything one might call a theme."

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Bushed by Katrina


Bush golfing on Tuesday
as Katrina hits the coast.

It's part of the poet's job description to track the evolution of language ... so... it is my duty to note the evolution in the word: bush.

The word "bush", of course, is an established noun and adjective as we see in these excerpts from

bush n. (bsh)

1. A low shrub with many branches.
2. A thick growth of shrubs; a thicket.
a. Land covered with dense vegetation or undergrowth.
b. Land remote from settlement: the Australian bush.
a. A shaggy mass, as of hair.
b. A growth of pubic hair.

adj. slang. Bush-league; second-rate.
bushed, adj. (bsht)
1. extremely tired;
2. exhausted;
3. very tired; "was all in at the end of the day"; "so beat I could flop down and go to sleep anywhere"; "bushed after all that exercise"; "I'm dead after that long trip" all in, beat, bushed, dead.
4. tired: depleted of strength or energy; "bushed mothers with crying babies"; "too tired to eat".
Now, given our experience with George W. Bush as our so-called "leader", the word "bush" has taken on meaning as a verb:
bushed, v. (bsht)
1. fucked: as in Katrina

bushed, v. (bsht)
a. as in: BUSHED by Katrina
b. as in: BUSHED by global warming
c. as in: BUSHED by Iraq
e. as in: BUSHED by ___, ___, ___ etc, etc...

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Bush's "zero tolerance" policy


Bush fiddles and golfs as the leavy breaks and people drown.

"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law
during an emergency such as this — whether it be looting, or price gouging at the gasoline pump, or taking advantage of charitable giving or insurance fraud and I've made that clear to our attorney general. The citizens ought to be working together."-- George Bush

Bush sounds like Marie Antoinette who said "Let them eat cake" when people were starving in the streets. He has "zero tolerance" for people doing what they need to do to survive Katrina until help comes... such as taking food and water from gutted, flooded, abandon stores. As usual, this billionaire loser is totally out of touch with reality. He's even got his henchman Attorney General Gonzalez "on the case". Maybe they'll send the big, bad looters to Guantanamo.

So, what was the President doing as Katrina tore through the South? Golfing and clowning around with more photo-ops. And where is the National Guard? Mired in Iraq fighting the war he lied us into. What an asshole.