Saturday, June 25, 2011

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

Two poems this week by British poet Stevie Smith (1902-1971), whose work initially struck me as a little slight, but upon further/closer reading, I now quite admire. These poems vary significantly in tone and though neither are in a recognizable, conventional form (like a sonnet), they both employ repetition to great effect. Smith is a perfect example of a poet that often writes
with form without necessarily writing in form. (Forgive me for having form on the brain - I just pitched a formal poetry workshop to the Cambridge Center for Adult Education). Anyway, enjoy!

Not Waving But Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:

I was much further out than you thought

And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking

And now he's dead

It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always

(Still the dead one lay moaning)

I was much too far out all my life

And not waving but drowning.


(after reading two paragraphs in a newspaper)

All these illegitimate babies . . .
Oh girls, girls,
Silly little cheap things,
Why do you not put some value on yourselves,
Learn to say, No?
Did nobody teach you?
Nobody teaches anybody to say No nowadays,
People should teach people to say No.

O poor panther,
Oh you poor black animal,
At large for a few moments in a school for young children in Paris,
Now in your cage again,
How your great eyes bulge with bewilderment,
There is something there that accuses us,
In your angry and innocent eyes,
Something that says:
I am too valuable to be kept in a cage.

Oh these illegitimate babies!
Oh girls, girls,
Silly little valuable things,
You should have said, No, I am valuable,
And again, It is because I am valuable
I say, No.

Nobody teaches anybody they are valuable nowadays

Girls, you are valuable,
And you, Panther, you are valuable,
But the girls say: I shall be alone
If I say 'I am valuable' and other people do not say it of me,
I shall be alone, there is no comfort there.
No, it is not comforting but it is valuable,
And if everybody says it in the end
It will be comforting. And for the panther too,
If everybody says he is valuable
It will be comforting for him.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Oh, the things you can convince yourself you need at 36,000 feet.

Come on, who DOESN'T need a Sumo wrestler coffee table???

I think from here on out, I'm going to ignore wedding registries and buy all wedding gifts from SkyMall. "Hey bride and groom, I know you wanted a Williams-Sonoma garlic roaster, but I got you this Bacon Genie instead!"

The utter futility of this product has already been discussed on this blog. Basically, bacon genie allows you to cook bacon in your microwave....which is already a stupid idea, unless you like your bacon chewy and dry. Bacon is meant to be FRIED. Anyone who loves bacon enough to buy bacon accessories knows this.

In all seriousness, I kind of want this:

Your eyes do not deceive you, that is in fact a Wine Glass Holder Necklace, combining two of my passions: drinking and wearing jewelry. Throw in a straw and I'd be good to go. No more awkwardly holding my drink at parties!

Finally, since Father's Day was this past Sunday (click here to read my tribute to my Dad from a few years ago), I submit this for your consideration. Had I been more on the ball, I would have gotten this for our home yard in St. Louis:

I can just imagine the look on Dad's face every morning as he gazes proudly upon his Yeti lawn statue. Maybe next year, Dad.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Wow, I can't believe it's been several weeks since my last post. Guess I got swept up in Bruins playoff fervor!!!!!!!

If you've ever met me, you will know the above statement is false.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that they won the Stanley Cup. I was less thrilled that the streets of Boston were filled with loud, drunk people last night. What is about sports fans running up to people and screaming in their faces? What is the purpose of that?

I spent last night doing the exact opposite of watching the game: I went to a literary magazine launch party/author reading and then took in the latest Woody Allen film. I was listening to poetry when the Bruins scored their first goal.

Sports fandom has always mystified me. It's not dissimilar to religious fervor. Fans can't control or predict whether their team will win, but they believe they can win and more importantly, SHOULD win. The chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" confused me last night, until I remembered that we beat a team FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY, making the victory all the more sweet. It was a triumph for AMERICA, you guys. We might as well have been playing [insert dangerous Middle Eastern country du jour] or Libya or North Korea.

Most likely my dislike of sports stems from my complete and utter inability to play them well. Watching sports churns up feelings of inadequacy dating back to my middle school and high school days. I am uncoordinated and not fast, nor am I graceful or agile. I am a good swimmer and a decent skier, but anything that requires hitting, passing, kicking, throwing or catching a ball is beyond my capabilities.

I had the misfortune to attend a high school where sports were very important and all students were forced to play a team sport two out of the three seasons. The real athletes hated this policy because people like me were bringing them down and the non-athletes hated this policy for obvious reasons. Not being athletic was just another strike against me, right alongside not having a sufficiently WASPy name or driving an SUV. And since I wasn't good enough to really play on any teams, I had to suffer the indignity of being the "manager" -- i.e. running the scoreboard at games, putting the equipment away after practice. One afternoon during my duties as JV Girls Volleyball manager, my "teammates" decided it would be funny to spike me.

So yeah, I guess it's no wonder that I'm not a fan of sports or sports fans. Musical theater fans are much more my speed -- I mean, no one got stabbed after the Tony Awards.