Posted by: bliss136 | June 12, 2009

fan of swimming?

A must read: Chris Crutcher’s Whale Talk

It’s YA and about sports.  Did I hook you yet?  I doubt it. 

It’s one of those books that starts surprising you about two chapters in.  It’s moving, and yet, I think plenty of my male students would read it without feeling betrayed by the emotional commitment.  They always have a hard time finding books.  Girls will read anything: books about vampires, magic, cars, spies, music, pandas.  Guys: nothing but sports, or, occasionally about a drug induced path to finding yourself. 

There is also a “dealing with race” undercurrent that is dealt with just enough to make it meaningful but not pushy.  Same goes for the misfit theme.  Which is good, because I am always hesitant to read books about bullying.  They tend to be over the top in a “he locked me in my gym locker and then poured glue and feathers on me until I screamed for my mommy and danced a jig” kind of way.  The type of bullying I mostly witness is psychological.  “You don’t belong and you never will.”   Even the put downs tend to be accidental and  ignorant, someone hearing something they weren’t intended to (which doesn’t make it any better).  Some one will say, “Isn’t Mark fat?” and Mark will overhear it or it will spread around lunch.  Or some one will say, “Fat people are so disgusting and I would never be friends with someone like that” in front of the whole class.  It works, although I almost wish it didn’t, in Whale Talk.

Anyway, you should read it.  Or buy it for someone.  Or both.  Go to amazon.

Posted by: bliss136 | June 8, 2009

fan of six word yearbooks?

In the spirit of a year-long exercise writing six word memoirs, I had my students write one final memoir two weeks before graduating high school.  Most were of the “Leaving home, going to college now” variety.  A few were insightful, noting a desire to forget the drama of high school, career changes, or some form of farm equipment epiphany (many own cows, horses, pigs, etc.).  One girl cried.  One boy swore.  One girl used the wrong there, their, they’re.  And one boy called another boy cute.  Overall, I am proud of all of them equally, though some more equally than others.

After reading my student evaluations of me, a daunting task, I changed my six word from some thing along the lines of: “Only two weeks left, thank god” to: “They liked Hamlet best, who knew.”  I suppose that sums up my first year of teaching, the surprises, the failures, and the dragging of students through blank verse.  Interestingly, “To be or not to be” is exactly six words.

Posted by: bliss136 | May 28, 2009

epic fail

The face of the severely disappointed

turns red

as I figured it would.

A failure to graduate is surely haunting,

but that florid tone

seems as if it should be reserved

only for love-

the blush of a bride,

a pink complexed newborn.


Perhaps, red covers

the big moments-

the blood mask that wears

a mother after she shoots herself,

a red Lincoln Navigator

that doesn’t stop,

the plenty of red lights we ignore,


the VD from the district in Amsterdam.


Still, it’s the heart made of red

balloons presented to us on our

first Valentine’s day that

we remember like our first word,

that smothers us until we burn.

Posted by: bliss136 | June 22, 2008


If I sleep here tonight,

will I wake covered with ink

from the sheets on which you slept?

I mean you,

as in not us,

as in not we,

as in not you universal.

There is a specific you,

when you are with her,

when you were with her,


If I fold the sheets

so that they push to the floor,

will they pull over me-

like a secret-

and smother me in retaliation

for leaving them for so long,

for letting a new body clutch them?

Did you wake imprinted with little rosebuds

when you slept here?

I mean you,

as in not us.

I mean slept,

as in not tired.

Were there scars of red petals burned

on your face?

Did the ink warm you? Remind you of dead

flowers, crushed flowers? Did it wake you, shaking

you, as you breathe in the dust that settled?

If the dust choked you, did you fall on your knees,

sucking in, sucking out, sucking in cloth and ink

and dust? Did you claw your way out, like a dog,

scratching at the bed trapped in sheets, clawing

at the front door until the quick bleeds

in thin lines in the wood?

Posted by: bliss136 | June 8, 2008

to market, to market

Underneath the brown banner that reads fruit,
I peel out bits of undamaged
rind from one rotting cantaloupe
and cover the blemish of another.
(A plastic surgeon would remark
how my skill with a scalpel is akin to his own.)
My hands are sticky from the sweet skin.
I wipe them on the rented canvas tent
already stained with the red strawberry seeds
I glued on this morning while the sun was still too low
to announce customers.
I finish hand painting the cucumbers
and causally glance at the hustle beside me
as I swirl my horse hair brush in clean water.
My neighbor hands yellow tea roses to a velour
covered woman with a puffy white mini dog.
He tells her to strip the thorns,
to keep cutting the stems shorter
and shorter everyday to keep them fresh.
Then they will last 3 days, at most.
She stops my swirling to buy strawberries
for the puffy cloud trailing her.
A few yellow petals mix with the fallen
leaves as she bends over to hand feed the pale wisp.
A blood stain appears around his white mouth
as the seeds fall off.
They squirm like ants beneath his paws.

Posted by: bliss136 | June 2, 2008

fan of love?

“When a Woman Loves a Man” by David Lehman
When she says Margarita she means Daiquiri.
When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
And when she says, “I’ll never speak to you again,”
she means, “Put your arms around me from behind
as I stand disconsolate at the window.”

He’s supposed to know that.

When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia
or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading,
or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he
is raking leaves in Ithaca
or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate
at the window overlooking the bay
where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on
while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

When a woman loves a man it is one-ten in the morning,
she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels
drinking lemonade
and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed
where she remains asleep and very warm.

When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks.
When she says, “We’re talking about me now,”
he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says,
“Did somebody die?”

When a woman loves a man, they have gone
to swim naked in the stream
on a glorious July day
with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle
of water ruching over smooth rocks,
and there is nothing alien in the universe.

Ripe apples fall about them.
What else can they do but eat?

When he says, “Ours is a transitional era.”
“That’s very original of you,” she replies,
dry as the Martini he is sipping.

They fight all the time
It’s fun
What do I owe you?
Let’s start with an apology
Ok, I’m sorry, you dickhead.
A sign is held up saying “Laughter.”
It’s a silent picture.
“I’ve been fucked without a kiss,” she says,
“and you can quote me on that,”
which sounds great in an English accent.

One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it
another nine times.

When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the
airport in a foreign country with a jeep.
When a man loves a woman he’s there. He doesn’t complain that
she’s two hours late
and there’s nothing in the refrigerator.

When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake.
She’s like a child crying
at nightfall because she didn’t want the day to end.

When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking:
as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved.
A thousand fireflies wink at him.
The frogs sound like the string section
of the orchestra warming up.
The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.

Posted by: bliss136 | May 27, 2008

fan of conversation?

“Effort at Speech Between Two People” by Muriel Rukeyser

: Speak to me. Take my hand. What are you now?
I will tell you all. I will conceal nothing.
When I was three, a little child read a story about a rabbit
who died, in the story, and I crawled under a chair :
a pink rabbit : it was my birthday, and a candle
burnt a sore spot on my finger, and I was told to be happy.

: Oh, grow to know me. I am not happy. I will be open:
Now I am thinking of white sails against a sky like music,
Like glad horns blowing, and birds tilting, and an arm about me.
There was one I loved, who wanted to live, sailing.

: Speak to me. Take my hand. What are you now?
When I was nine, I was fruitily sentimental,
fluid : and my widowed aunt played Chopin,
and I went to bed on the painted woodwork, and wept.
I want now to be close to you. I would
link the minutes of my days close, somehow, to your days.

: I am not happy. I will be open.
I have liked lamps in evening corners, and quiet poems.
There has been fear in my life. Sometimes I speculate
On what tragedy high life was, really.

: Take my hand. Fist my mind in your hand. What are you now?
When I was fourteen, I had dreams of suicide,
and I stood at a steep window, at sunset, hoping toward death :
if the light had not transformed that day, I would have leapt.
I am unhappy. I am lonely. Speak to me.

: I will be open. I think he never loved me:
he loved the bright beaches, the little lips of foam
that ride small waves, he loved the veer of gulls:
he said with a gay mouth: I love you. Grow to know me.

: What are you now? If we could touch one another,
if these our separate entities could come to grips,
clenched like a Chinese puzzle . . . yesterday
I stood in a crowded street that was live with people,
and no one spoke a word, and the morning shone.
Everyone silent, moving. . . . Take my hand.
Speak to me.

Posted by: bliss136 | May 23, 2008

i am a fox

i am a fox i dash into piles of rotting

dead deer check for warmth body splayed

open heart smushed without blood filling

cavity like a starving gut like a sink

hole like my den in the wood maggot

filled rotten log another fox runs

over runs through collapsing in

pursuit of another hart

Posted by: bliss136 | May 22, 2008

fan of squirrels?

Rap/video version of “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” (squirrel included).

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Posted by: bliss136 | May 21, 2008

fan of short, short stories?


They don’t get much shorter than this.

Read 55 Fiction.

About 55 Fiction.

About the Number 55.

More about the Number 55 (not using Wikipedia).

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