This Is What You Shall Do

902992_10151671211135802_1115933150_oThis is what you shall do:  Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…       ~Walt Whitman


I love words and this is a great one. Pronunciamento. Meaning… pro·nun·ci·a·men·to   [pruh-nuhn-see-uh-men-toh, -shee-uh-] noun, plural pro·nun·ci·a·men·tos. a proclamation; manifesto; edict.

I came across this one today as I was looking around the dictionary.  Or more precisely, in this new age, It’s a wonderful word found in a wonderful place.  Dictionaries are exciting, to me anyway.  I’ve been reading them since I knew what one was and found one in our house.  Words.  Wonderful.

I used to play word games with some of my work mates.  Emails going around with sentences made up of words with the same letter.  Peter picked pickled peppers.  Like that.  We’d start with A and work our way to Z and back again, or we’d rhyme, or be cute some other way with wonderful wacky words.  Fun, to us anyway.  We’d stretch our minds, our vocabularies, and we’d laugh and laugh.  Words are good like that.

Today as I looked around I came across this great word.  Had never heard of it.  And now I love it.  I am also, I think, going to use it here.  Make a pronunciamento about things I’d like to do this summer… a proclamation of sorts.  Here, publicly, live and “in person”.  Maybe if I put some things down here I will do some of them… maybe I already have.  Maybe I would anyway.  No matter… it’s a fun exercise.

(Riley is playing with her Uncle Kevin right now… he’s rubbing her belly, she’s growling, barking, and jumping up to wiggle around and play bite at him.  She’s like popcorn. It’s cute.  They missed each other.)

Anyway… back to the pronunciamento.

100 things to do this summer… and in life.

  1. Be present.
  2. Act with grace.
  3. Ride my bike around town.
  4. Use the frisbee golf set I purchased.
  5. Play with Sebastian.
  6. Eat grapes.
  7. Get my photos better organized.
  8. See an opera again.
  9. Hold hands.
  10. Be patient with people.
  11. Listen.
  12. Walk.
  13. Sing loudly in moving vehicles.
  14. Eat more whole food, less processed food.
  15. Play guitar again.
  16. Travel to foreign places.
  17. Write.
  18. Be silly.
  19. Dance suddenly and randomly at home, and sometimes in public.
  20. Be child like.
  21. Hug my honey more than I already do.
  22. Use the library more than I do.
  23. Make pudding.
  24. Sleep outside.
  25. Be less afraid.
  26. Live more sustainably.
  27. Don’t buy anything for myself, including music, clothes, videos, etc. unless it’s second hand. (related to previous point)
  28. See a few movies in the park.
  29. Stop and listen to live music (street corners, festival bands, etc.)
  30. Paint something.
  31. Go to the drive in.
  32. Take photographs that inspire me.
  33. Continue to evolve.
  34. Give more than I get.
  35. Show respect to strangers.
  36. Buy meat from a farmer.
  37. Write and send actual letters.
  38. Study other cultures and ideas.
  39. Honor my ancestors.
  40. Swim in wild waters.
  41. Walk in Central Park in New York, eat lobster in Maine, watch hot air balloons in New Mexico.
  42. Use the crockpot to make dessert.
  43. Put my feet in lakes, oceans, rivers, puddles, tiny wading pools.
  44. Do another paring down of my clothes and shoes.
  45. Eat tomatoes from our tomato plant.
  46. Sit quietly outside in the wind and sunshine listening to the trees and not talk or play on the computer or phone or any other man made thing.
  47. Live responsibly.
  48. Worry less.
  49. Try new foods that scare me a little.
  50. Use hairbrushes and wooden spoons as microphones.
  51. Give the pups even more attention than they already get.
  52. Go snorkeling.
  53. Take random day long road trips with my honey to nowhere in particular with good music playing and great conversations.
  54. Embrace my dorky nature.
  55. Go to museums.
  56. Dinners with friends.
  57. Be in awe.
  58. Make people laugh on purpose.
  59. Learn.
  60. Make and eat pudgy pies.
  61. Talk to strangers.
  62. Laugh at myself and things that might irk me, but shouldn’t.
  63. Be the nicer version of me in taxing situations.
  64. Do things I love more than things I should do.
  65. Make and drink naturally flavored sun tea.
  66. Make a fort out of blankets.
  67. Smile often and only from the eyes.
  68. Camp in wild beautiful places.
  69. Put my toes in the sand.
  70. Color.
  71. Eat more fruit and less bread.
  72. Read at least two books a month.
  73. Make stuff.
  74. Take care of my honey like she deserves.
  75. Skip, hop, and jump.
  76. See the AFI top 100 films.
  77. Know what’s going on in the world.
  78. Read poetry again.
  79. Play games and cards.
  80. Volunteer my time.
  81. Be passionate in life.
  82. Always look people in the eye.
  83. Wear funky hats.
  84. Write random and unexpected emails to friends and family more often.
  85. Love.
  86. Get paid for being creative.
  87. Take the dogs to parks and on walks.
  88. Be an agent of positive change.
  89. Travel to new places.
  90. Take the train more often.
  91. Ride a bus to Chicago or maybe some other random place.
  92. Sit around our chiminea with good company.
  93. Make a s’more or two.
  94. Say what I mean and only that.
  95. Smell flowers.
  96. Live free.
  97. Eat handcrafted ice cream.
  98. Help out friends and family.
  99. Be kind to myself.
  100. And lastly, though I could go on, laugh laugh laugh at why WordPress has famous nuns and Saint Peter as recommended highlighted links down below this as I type.  Hmmmm….


Life on end
Must right myself
Write to right
Life on end
Love pouring in
Love pouring in
Life on end
Love pouring in
Web of love
A life on end
A life upended
And righting

It’s a New Dawn, It’s a New Day

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me… and I’m feelin’ good, to once again quote Nina.

I woke up this morning changed, the world around me changed as well.  It’s almost as if my eyes see more clearly, my heart beats more deeply, my mind is more open.  And what’s great about this feeling is that I know I’m not alone in it.  I look into peoples eyes and they look back at me, hopeful.  They look back with joy, with possibility.  There is the feeling that a collective sigh has risen from this place and spread across the world… a sigh that says… finally, at last.  We can breathe.  We can reach out and know we might find a hand or hands reaching back.  We are no longer afraid.   We have said yes, instead of no.  We can, at last, hold our heads high and be proud.  Love has replaced suspicion and doubt.  Peace has replaced unease and anxiety.  All because one beautiful, inspiring, electrifying, genuine, good man has stepped forward, taken the lead, and reached out his hand in expectation to us.  He’s said… I’m ready, come along with me… we will change ourselves, we will change our country, we will change the world.

I’ve included below the text of the inaugural address in it’s entirety.  It’s beautiful.  Words from a poet who believes what he says… who means what he says.  This is a wonderful day.  It’s the first day of a new beginning for us all.  A new beginning for the world.

My fellow citizens:  I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers … our found fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.


A blink
A moment
Can happen there
Worlds change
A world
My world
There is hope
Clinging to me
Feeling of peace
Of exactness
Like puzzle pieces
Fitting together
In place
The mystery of the world
Running through me
Electric current
Whatever happens next
Whatever change comes
There is a place for me
In it
In the moment
The blink
The mystery

Sounds Still In Silence

Sounds still in silence
Whispers touch me
Breathing – still
I wonder
What would it be like
To fly…
Rumors fly
Words fly across the page
Well intended
Filled with meaning
I wonder how time flies
As I close my eyes
Gently lifting off
Away from this page

A Blink

A blink
A moment
Can happen there
Worlds change
A world
My world
There is hope
Clinging to me
Feeling of peace
Of exactness
Like puzzle pieces
Fitting together
In place
The mystery of the world
Running through me
Electric current
Whatever happens next
Whatever change comes
There is a place for me
In it
In the moment
The blink
The mystery

Becoming Real

 Time to share another poem…

I am.
My own thoughts
Whisper to me
Sometimes I mistake them
They are wishes,
Or the simple rhythm
Of the moving world.
I stumble through words,
The shock of the sound
Of myself
Attempting expression
By a depth of feeling
That can only be

A Poem From Sally

Here’s one of the poems from Sally’s Walt Whitman Award winning collection…

by Sally Van Doren

I chart the psyche,
observing how I
force myself to speak
to you, imagining that
together we might
transform a life.

Why this need
to document change,
to reverse a mood,
to carry forward the time
when magnolias bloom?

Let’s follow the itinerant we
up and over the jonquil’s back,
treading on its spilled bullion.

From Sex At Noon Taxes, Copyright © 2007 by Sally Van Doren

Nikkie Giovanni Speaks

Wow… Earlier today I watched the convocation at Virginia Tech. I cried the whole way through. I sat in disbelief and can’t put the emotions I was feeling, and am still feeling, into words. There is no understanding something like this. There can’t be. There’s no common frame of reference to help in trying to figure it out. It’s just very very sad. And… just as we, as a people, rejoice when something spectacular happens for this country, we all join in mourning when something horrific happens. It’s as if some measure of it, good or bad, touches us personally. Because… it does. We feel the fear it creates and then the struggle against that fear within ourselves.

The convocation ended with a poem written and read by Nikki Giovanni, Professor of English at Virginia Tech and a well known, widely read poet. Her reading was and event, one of those moments. It was one of those times when someone spoke words that were filled with hope and magic just when everyone needed to hear exactly that. On a day filled with so much sadness, she made the light shine just a bit… it was uplifting, inspiring, and breathtaking.

I couldn’t find the poem she read this morning on the net, yet… but I did find some of her other work… here are a couple I really liked…

kidnap poem

ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i’d kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
you to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my see
play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you
wrap you in the red Black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet i’d kid
nap you

Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains
created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat’s meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can’t catch me

For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother’s day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean…I…can fly
like a bird in the sky…

Congratulations Sally!

I just wanted to take a moment to say a big CONGRATS to Sally, whoever you are. As some of you know, I entered a manuscript in the contest for the Walt Whitman Award. Obviously, I didn’t win, nor was I a finalist. However, for those of you ready to pass the tissue, don’t worry. I’m fine. More than that, I’m better than fine. Honestly, I can’t believe I entered my work. So, in honor and celebration of the fact that I actually put it out there I’m framing my rejection letter, when I receive it, and I’m going to put it up in the office where I can look at it often. I’m not doing this as some sort of weird writing torture. I’m doing it because I broke through a barrier and I feel really damn good about it!

Now… let’s all raise a glass to Sally! I’m sure, wherever she is, and whoever she is, she’s feeling pretty damn good right about now and I, for one, am happy for her! To Sally…. cheers!!


Publication of first book, $5,000 cash prize,
residency at the Vermont Studio Center

New York, April 5— The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that Sally Van Doren has been selected as the recipient of the 2007 Walt Whitman Award. The Walt Whitman Award, given by the Academy of American Poets, is one of the most prestigious book contests in the country; it brings first-book publication to an American poet who has never before published a book of poetry and distributes the book to over 6,000 members of the Academy.
Sally Van Doren received the Award for her book-length collection of poems Sex at Noon Taxes, which will be published in the spring of 2008 by Louisiana State University Press. The winning manuscript was chosen by August Kleinzahler from over 1,000 entries. Finalists for the Award were Jasper Bernes for A Moving Grove, James Allen Hall for Now You’re the Enemy, and Maya Pindyck for The Same Nile, the Same Charles.

August Kleinzahler, on selecting Sally Van Doren’s book, wrote:

Sally Van Doren’s poetry gathered in Sex At Noon Taxes, both a palindrome and the title of a painting by Ed Ruscha, is everywhere alive. There are no dead moments, no fill: even the conjunctions, prepositions and assorted connectives carry a charge. The language is alive. The movement of language is alive. The mind at work here is at all points quick, full of play and bite. …Her poems are delicately made, intriguing in conception, unpredictable, balletic and swift in their turns, altogether most stimulating and memorable, and very much her own.
Sally Van Doren was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Her poems have appeared in several journals, including Barrow Street, Boulevard, Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, LIT, Margie, Parthenon West Review, Poetry Daily, and Pool. She is a graduate of Princeton University and received an M.F.A. from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She was a semi-finalist in the 2006 “Discovery”/The Nation Poetry Contest. Her poem, “The Sense Series,” was the text for a multi-media performance at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in February 2007. She teaches for Springboard to Learning in the St. Louis Public Schools and curates the Sunday Poetry Workshops for the St. Louis Poetry Center. She divides her time between St. Louis and Cornwall, Connecticut.

August Kleinzahler was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1949, and raised in Fort Lee, New Jersey. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including, The Strange Hours Travelers Keep (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004), winner of the International Griffin Poetry Prize; Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club: Poems: 1975-1990 (2000); Green Sees Things in Waves (1999); and Red Sauce, Whiskey and Snow (1995). He is also the author of the meditative memoir Cutty, One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained (2004). His honors include a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lila Acheson-Reader’s Digest Award for Poetry, an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. Kleinzahler has lived in San Francisco, California, for over twenty years. He has held a variety of jobs, including working as a locks! mith, cabdriver, lumberjack, music critic, and building manager. While living in Alaska, he designed educational kits for native children at the Alaska State Museum. He has taught writing at Brown University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, as well workshops for homeless veterans in the Bay Area.

The Walt Whitman Award

The Walt Whitman Award , established in 1975, makes possible the publication of a poet’s first full-length collection. This annual competition is judged by a distinguished poet and is open to any citizen of the United States who has neither published nor committed to publish a book of poetry. Book-length manuscripts may be submitted to the Academy between September 15 and November 15 of each year. An entry form and fee are required. For guidelines and an entry form, visit our website,, or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Academy in August.

The Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1934 to foster appreciation for contemporary poetry and to support American poets at all stages of their careers. For over three generations, the Academy has connected millions of people to great poetry through programs such as National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world;, the most popular site about poetry on the web, presenting a wealth of great poems, audio recordings, poet biographies, essays, and interactive discussions about poetry; the Poetry Audio Archive, capturing the voices of contemporary American poets for generations to come; American Poet, a biannual literary journal; and our annual series of poetry readings and special events. The Academy also awards prizes to accomplished poets at all stages of their careers—from hundreds of student prizes at colleges nationwide to the Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement in the art of poetry. ! For more information, visit

Louisiana State University Press

Established in 1935, Louisiana State University Press is one of the oldest and largest university presses in the South and one of the outstanding publishers of scholarly and regional books in the country. Its long-standing commitment to publishing fine contemporary poetry extends back more than four decades. Since 1964 the Press has published more than 250 books of poetry by more than 100 poets, and many of these volumes have received such honors as the Lamont Poetry Selection, the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, the Poets’ Prize, the American Book Award, the National Book Award, and two Pulitzer Prizes.

The Vermont Studio Center

The Vermont Studio Center offers four-to-twelve-week studio residencies year-round to mid-career poets, painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers, and writers. The setting is the banks of the Gihon River in rural Johnson, Vermont, a town of 2,500 located in the heart of the northern Green Mountains. Each Studio Center Residency features abundant working time, the companionship of fifty artists and writers from across the country and around the world, and access to a roster of prominent visiting artists and writers. All residencies include comfortable housing, private studio space, and superb food. Two visiting writers per month are in residence at the Studio Center for one week each to offer readings, a craft talk, and optional conferences with each of the twelve writing residents.

When All Else Fails… Write

So, I just now wrote a few poems and thought I’d share… As always, I never title anything…

Everything still
There are
No other voices
I talk only
To myself
The snow
Blankets the world
Covering all sound
And the race
Movement impossible
I wait
The silence
Is deafening
Broken only by…
Drip… and
Drips meaning
A thaw is coming
Yet, not enough
No escape
So… still
I wait
Am waiting
Day to night
Back again
I’m here
Where everything
Is still


Free flowing
Moves when I can’t
I am stuck
In body
In mind
I fly from this place
Visiting friends
Looking at
The moving world
The pace
So fast
The days
So short
When forced to stop
The world
And I…
… I find myself
In free flowing


Preternatural calm
Pressing ear to ground
I hear leaves falling
Brushing the trees
All the sounds
Under the usual din
And alive
There is beauty
So much
My soul filling
Heart expanding
It flows through me
And I can

In the Solitude of Winter

In the solitude of winter
When things are confined
Watching my breath
Escaping as I can’t
A tangible – real thing
Moving softly on the air
I wonder, where do my words go
And shining
In the winter sun
Do you catch them
And hold on tight
Or let them fly softly
By you
In the solitude of winter

When and If

When and if
I forge my signature
On old pieces of paper
And wish maybe how
Or who or you
Then possibly without knowing
I find dreams waiting
In letters making words
And in them I call
Kisses to stumble out
Rushing to nowhere
Being everywhere at once
So you say
With eyes beautifully shining
Yes on top of I love you
Written well beyond words

Poet’s Progress

So… I haven’t posted in a few days, but I have a few good excuses… some of which involve a day trip to the beach, christmas shopping, and time we spent at Mom and Don’s place this past weekend (thanks guys for being so great, and thanks for all of the spectacular meals, you guys are the best). The other reason I haven’t posted is that I was getting a poetry manuscript ready for submission to the Walt Whitman Award. After years and years of writing I finally submitted something. It was a last minute thing, which, I’m sure, helped me to actually go through with it. I didn’t have time to think about or talk myself out of it, I just had to do it. It started last Tuesday when I found out about the contest… then I realized, oh man, in order to be accepted and entered it had to be post marked by the 3oth, Thursday. I had two days to get together 50-100 poems, title pages, self addressed stamped envelopes and post cards. It was pretty hectic, and there was a lot of typing involved, but I got it done and mailed, on the 30th. I ended up sending in 87 poems. Some were older, some more recent, all of them… me. I don’t expect to win (it’s an annual contest), it’s just my doing it, actually submitting, that matters. I’ve broken through the invisible barrier. And… it’s about damn time!

So… why talk about poetry without actually including some… here are 4 poems from the collection I submitted… I never title anything, which is why, big surprise, there aren’t any titles….

Wishes have questions
Where answers are waiting.
And in the end
Poetry is all that
Answers waiting questions.
Because looking in eyes
That speak silences
Louder than all words,
I too am speechless
And waiting.
Plunging ever so softly
Into eyes that melt
The spring’s first kiss of rain
Into my ever changing soul.
Wishes still lost
In silent questions
Never asked and always waiting
For answers. And now
The rain is falling
From open ended
Ever opening
Eyes that are waiting
And wishing.


Formed from ever ending shadow
Just within touch
In places dark with light shining
Is the mystery that is me
Or the self of the moment
At the speed of light
Changing direction, intention,
Inflection, connection.
What of majesty and grace
Surrounded in and of,
… followed by will.
Shadow and light
Light the shadow
Shifting in subtle silences
Beyond understanding.
Sometimes recognition
A tribute to honesty
And reason and hate.
Mostly love.
Everything still
Then suddenly
Music as I breathe
And am formed
From light and shadow.


There could be anger
Poured over me like sand
Warm and soft
Sticking to every part of me
But then…
Where would we be
Brushing off all possible chance
Of truth
The minutes tick
Tock tick
And still sand
Clings to me
As the rain would
Warm and soft
As my anger would
If I let it
If I looked it in the eye
A million mistakes made
Counting… there
Are not enough fingers or toes
I whisper truths
In spaces between the grains
Grains of sand
Drops of water
Spaces too small
… almost
To hold apologies
And in my anger
Poured over me like sand
I see
It rests with self
You being the clock
Tick tocking
Where my anger stops
Resting in hands
Too small for all
The grains of sand
In the world
Poured over me


The stars
For all eyes to see
Piercing down
Illuminated night
Starting at one
The sun
Settling that argument
I have dreamed
A million dreams
Watching the show
Gracefully dancing
Across the sky
I am feeling small
A speck
Magnificent sense
Of self
Acute mystery
Catching breath
My breath
As I would
If I could
A falling star

An Extra Long Haiku

On the bottom of feet
Time stands still
Like snow in May
And Bam Bam
For the Margarita or in the wound
Like the hourglass of time
In Colorado
As a head or hat
Brrrr… it’s cold
… and a mime

thank you… just send money…

This poem brought to you by the streaming consciousness of Karen and myself… we’ve made ourselves laugh, how about you?

We were doing some word association and it ended up here, in long haiku form (I made that up, of course… is there really such a thing as a long haiku?… nah… )

Hip Hip Hooray

Who could’ve imagined… not only the House, but the Senate. Call me giddy. I am hopeful once more. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens now, don’t ya think?

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
~ e.e. cummings

a time for e.e. cummings

Some days I’m drawn to the book of e.e. cummings poetry I always carry with me. Today is one of those days. This is the poem, which happens to be my favorite, I opened the book to and found again with new eyes…

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the pwer of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands