Ivan & Misha by Michael Alenyikov

I am almost getting to the point now where the information that a book is a “novel in stories”  makes me cringe. There are times when it is done wonderfully and beautifully, like Olive Kitteridge and there are times when it fails, at least in my mind, like Great House by Nicole Krauss. But when Lisa of TLC Book Tours approached me about reviewing this book, something didn’t make me cringe. Something made me accept it. It could have been Lisa describing my reading tastes as “eccentric” (a high compliment if you ask me) and telling me that this book would fit right in. She was right. I really enjoyed Ivan & Misha, I thought that the connected short stories tactic was done brilliantly.

The short stories themselves are told in different styles, with different narrators. They are not sequential and the story is filled in in bits and pieces. Ivan & Misha are fraternal twins, opposites in every way. Misha is gay and Ivan is beyond defining in one word. The best way to describe Ivan is in love. With himself, with his brother, with his lovers regardless of gender, and most of all, with the world. They immigrated to the United States when they were young boys after the death of their mother.

Their story is complex, but Alenyikov tells it will a brilliant fluidity, moving from past to present and everywhere in between without tripping up himself or the reader. The prose is lyrical and beautiful; there are entire pages that I wouldn’t mind quoting. Each character is so complete and it amazes me how short this novel is. There was so much contained within its pages, in my memory it must be longer.

There is one scene that will disturb some people. In a way, putting it at the beginning of the novel is Alenyikov’s biggest risk and perhaps it is the defining moment of the novel. The one that the entire novel is working to explain how a relationship between two siblings could become so confusing, so complex. But whether you agree with his decision or not, the relationship between Ivan and Misha is one that deserves an entire novel to explore the complexity of being between two cultures, between defining moments in your life, between life and death.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me this book to review. I apologize for having the review up a day late – I have been feeling a bit under the weather and ended up falling asleep last night before I could post it. 

Poetry Wednesday – Stanley Kunitz

End of Summer
by Stanley Kunitz

An agitation of the air,

A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.
I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones,
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.
Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was over.
Already the iron door of the north
Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.
______________________________________
“The song of my marrow-bones” is beautiful.

RIP & Autumn time

Friends! It is that time again:

What? Oh. Yeah. Carl announced this TWO WEEKS AGO. But time just got away from me and suddenly it’s almost October and while I’ve been reading plenty of RIP books, I haven’t been talking about them. I’m fashionably late, as they say. But I’ve also noticed that I’m having the hardest time coming up with good ideas for books to read now that I’ve almost finished The Monstrumology series by Rick Yancey (get thee to a bookstore and BUY THESE, or to a library and check them out, especially if you are RIPing at the moment). I asked for suggestions three years ago during RIP and got some amazing answers. In fact, one of them ended up being one of my favorite reads of the year: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. I’ve also loved We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson andThe House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons. So please… could you help me out again?

Tell me what I should read this year to get in the autumn spirit. Tell me what books will make it feel like fall, will make me excited for one of my favorite holidays, Halloween.

Thank you in advance. You are all fabulous, but you already knew that.

BBAW Day 5: Blogging

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Button

It’s with a heavy heart that I say the last day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week is here. I don’t know about you, but I think this has been one of the best BBAWs ever. Maybe I just got to participate more this year because I’m not currently in school, but it really felt like the community was full of passion and introspection this year. There were some seriously thoughtful posts, some absolutely joyful posts, informative posts. It really was just amazing. Thank you to everyone who participated here and in BBAW across the web. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard on BBAW, especially Amy.

So now, for the last day’s question:

The world of blogging is continually changing. Share 3 things you are essential tried and true practices for every blogger and 1-3 new trends or tools you’ve adapted recently or would like to in the future.

The Essentials

Your voice. The most powerful tool you have is the ability to sound uniquely like yourself. With that you can get an audience, get a community of people who are interested in your reviews because of you. Anyone can write a book review, but the ones that do it well are the ones who manage to infuse their self into the review and still manage to make it universal. It’s a hard thing to do, I know. I work at it all the time. It’s a lot easier when you feel strongly about a book, one way or another, but our voice should always be there.

Respond to your comments. This is something else that I try really hard to do. I believe in responding to most comments, if not all. Some comments just say things like, “I totally agree!” but even then I try to respond with a simple, “Hey, thanks for stopping by.” I don’t always do it, but it’s something I really want to do every day. I think it shows people visiting your blog for the first time that you are really involved with the people commenting. The conversation doesn’t just begin and end with your post, it keeps going long after. Sometimes I respond through a tweet, sometimes I respond to an email, but most often I respond directly to the comment.

Participate in the community. Whether it’s through the Readathon, BBAW, RIP or any other challenge, participating in the community is essential for me. I don’t always get to participate 100%. I don’t think I’ve even done a full readathon on the actual readathon date (THOUGH I WILL THIS YEAR!), but doing just a little bit helps.

New Essentials

Participating behind the scenes. I’ve been working behind the scenes for BBAW since 2009, but especially this year, I’ve realized that I love working behind the scenes on community stuff like this. I love making these huge community events happen. Especially now that I don’t have homework commitments, it’s a great way to spend my evenings winding down after work. This is something that I really want to keep doing in the future.

Tumblr. I like Tumblr because it’s a place for me to be a little less polished. Each blog post I write takes hours to complete, but a Tumblr post generally only takes ten minutes if it’s long and a few seconds if it’s short. It’s a place for me to let off steam, have a little fun, and still participate in the community.

Using Google Docs. Okay, I stole this one from Kim. I admit that! But it’s so true! We used Google Docs to help organize the interview swap this year and it couldn’t have been simpler.

Thanks everyone for making this BBAW amazing. I had such a great week!

 

Poetry Wednesday – Rafael Campo

What the Body Told
by Rafael Campo

Not long ago, I studied medicine.
It was terrible, what the body told.
I’d look inside another person’s mouth,
And see the desolation of the world.
I’d see his genitals and think of sin.
Because my body speaks the stranger’s language,
I’ve never understood those nods and stares.
My parents held me in their arms, and still
I think I’ve disappointed them; they care
And stare, they nod, they make their pilgrimage
To somewhere distant in my heart, they cry.
I look inside their other-person’s mouths
And see the wet interior of souls.
It’s warm and red in there—like love, with teeth.
I’ve studied medicine until I cried
All night. Through certain books, a truth unfolds.
Anatomy and physiology,
The tiny sensing organs of the tongue—
Each nameless cell contributing its needs.
It was fabulous, what the body told.
_________________________________________
I was originally trying to find “back to school” poems, but they were all cheesy and I couldn’t find one I loved, so I decided to just share this delightful poem about studying medicine. I love the transition and the truth behind this poem. What our bodies tell us is at once beautiful and terrible.

BBAW Day 3: Community II

In all the posts I’ve written for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, including my guest post which will go up one of these days, the theme for me has been passion. We are all book bloggers because we are so passionate about reading and books that our regular lives couldn’t handle it all, so we had to go to the internet where passions are endless. The thing about the internet is that if you think you’re weird, there’s always someone weirder. In the book blogging community there is always someone who is more passionate than you, who reads more books than you do, who knows more authors than you do, who blogs more, who has more followers. You get my drift? I know for me there were many times, and still are times, when I lose my confidence as a blogger and, as silly as this sounds, as a reader. The thing about passion is that it can never be a competition. Your book blog is your space, nothing more and certainly nothing less. You are in control of it and you should let your passion shine through. Do that and the community will follow, but only if you put a little work into yourself.

When I started book blogging, this community was a different beast. There were a lot of book bloggers, but it still felt like a small, tight-knit community. In a lot of ways it still is, but it has seriously expanded in the last few years. Though there are things I miss about what the community was like back then, I think it’s absolutely wonderful that there are so many people who are passionate enough about books to devote so much of their time to their blogs. In any case, it was easier to get to know bloggers. Now, it definitely feels like book blogs have broken off into niches, like YA or science fiction or romance or paranormal. It can be difficult to find your place, especially if you’re like me and you don’t really have a niche. As I like to say, I have a niche – words. If you’re like me and you aren’t a niche blogger, don’t be afraid to comment on the blogs that are. Some niche bloggers aren’t necessarily niche readers and they might be very interested in what you have to say. As for me, I read plenty of YA blogs and science fiction blogs and fantasy blogs because, well, I’m interested in those things too. Just not exclusively.

Book blogging is an interesting thing. Take my interview partner Sheila, from Book Journey. Sheila and I are very close to the same bloggers, but we’ve never crossed paths. How is that possible? Speaking for myself, I know that I have to push myself to go beyond my comfort zone of bloggers and I think that’s important for all of us to do. But, I hear you thinking, I’m already pressed for time as it is. I know, me too! But this is so worth it. Find those new ideas, find those new voices, even if they’re just new-to-you ideas and voices.

Sometimes, when I hear myself complaining about how I already have too many blogs to read (first world problem), I remember what it was like to just start out blogging. It’s one of those things that, now that all the work is done, I don’t know that I could do it again. You work hard at commenting on every post you read. You read tons of blogs and tons of posts, adding them to your feed reader or your blog roll. And you keep looking for new ones, you keep clicking comment links on other people’s posts, trying to find blogs that are exciting, interesting. As much as I hate comparing blogging to cliques, in a way it is like that. It’s like you’re a freshman at high school, all new kids. You work really hard to find your friends, but then as you get older, and your friends get closer, you get complacent and comfortable. Being comfortable isn’t a bad thing, but it’s good to shake things up a little with some new friends once in a while. Some of those friends might not work out in the end, but you never know. You might find your new best friend.

Did this metaphor get too convoluted? Look, if the best thing about book blogging is the community, I should be willing to devote more time to the community. Life is filled with being busy. We’re always busy and, let’s be honest, we’ll always be busy. But we also have a passion so big that we have to share it with people. Don’t keep that list of people tiny, go out there and make some new friends! Go out there and introduce yourself. Get out there and shake your world up a little. Because we all need it once in a while and BBAW is the best (and easiest!) time to do it. You don’t have any more excuses!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBAW Day 2 – Interview Swap!

I love the interview swap! It’s one of my favorite parts of BBAW, simply because you really get to know a blogger that you, usually, have never met before. This year, I get to interview Sheila of Book Journey. Before this year’s BBAW, Sheila and I have never crossed paths, but we both signed up to help Amy and Danielle of There’s A Book coordinate the interview swaps. (That’s right, if you’re not happy with your partner, blame one of us! But I sincerely hope everyone is happy, of course!) It’s been a blast working with Sheila and getting to know her a little better.

1) If you could be a character in any one novel, which novel would it be? Why? You don’t necessarily have to be one of the characters in the novel. For example, you could choose to live in the Harry Potter universe or you could choose to be Hermione Granger.

I recently did a character interview with my buddy Ryan (Wordsmithonia) and said I would totally love to be Mia from Nora Roberts Three Sisters Trilogy.  Now it is really weird as I do not read Nora Roberts – but hear me out…. the Three Sisters Trilogy (Dance Upon The Air, Heaven and Earth, Face The Fire) would stand up to any Paranormal reads of today.  :)

I would also love to live on the island that they talk about in this book….  set me up… I am there.

2) Has blogging made you a more adventurous reader? If yes, what’s one book that you’ve read because of blogging that you otherwise might not have picked up? Are there books you’ll still avoid?

Yes – TOTALLY.  I love that.  Blogging about books led to comments suggesting other books I may like, as well as reading book blogs and finding books that I wanted to try – yes yes yes… I am way more adventurous in my reading than I was three years ago.

My one book example would be Hunger Games.  Based on the synopsis… kids killing kids?  Uhhhh…. I’ll pass.  But the blog raves, I had to read it…. then I became an evangelist for the series and sold other people on the book. I think thats what we do as book bloggers…. we spread the book love.

As far as books I avoid… I have never been a romance reader and  am pretty sure I never will be.  I dont mind the occasional love story, but romance has never been my genre.  That would be a tough sell.

3) What made you start blogging? What do you like to do when you’re not blogging or reading?

I started blogging before I knew I was blogging.  I thought I was just keeping an online journal of what I was reading.  I tend to read so much occasionally I will read a book that I have already read and I thought by journaling I may avoid that.  When people started commenting it kind of freaked me out.  Now I love the comments and feel I have made many friends (some I have met!) through this crazy world of book journaling… errr…. blogging.

When I am not reading and reviewing I love to ride my bike in Minnesota bike tours.  I enjoy meeting people and have a lot of fun.  I do several 75 – 150 mile bike rides a year.  I also enjoy rollerblading, traveling, Mission trips to Honduras, crazy events, and hanging out with friends and family.

4) Book favorite basics: Favorite book? Favorite author? Favorite series? Favorite genre?

This one is tough.  I used to be able to easily tell someone my favorite book… now there are so many, same goes for author, series, and genre.  I am a diverse reader.  I would say that I have a place in my heart for The Harry Potter Books because they are so amazing and have made so many readers.  J K Rowling is amazing. I always read anything by Harlan Coben, Denis Lehane, Deen Koontz,  like many genres too.

5) Who influenced you most as a reader?

 I dont know if I have any influences to my reading.  I have read since I was a young girl… and neither of my parents were readers, nor do I have any fond memories of anyone reading to me… its just what I did.  I have always found so much in books.  In fourth grade I received the class bookworm award… one I still hold on to fondly.

6) What’s the meaning of life? (Steph of Steph Su Reads asked me this in my first ever BBAW and I can’t help but keep including it in my interviews)

The meaning of life?  Hee hee….  I wish I knew.  I think life is training for something bigger.  Here we learn how to handle different situations, some hard lessons, some not too bad… I think we learn to love one another, treat each other, ourselves,and the earth with respect and be the best version of ourselves that we can.

Thanks so much Sheila! I’ve loved getting to know you today. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week, everyone! This is my third year participating in BBAW and it’s one of my favorite times to be a book blogger. Why? Because it’s one of the biggest and most loved celebrations of everything book blogger. Anyone can participate, whether you’ve been blogging for five minutes or five years. Every day during Book Blogger Appreciation Week there is a topic for us to blog about. Today is all about celebrating community, the most important part of BBAW. Today we’re asked to put the spotlight on some of the blogs that have made blogging a unique experience for you, whether they’re our mentors, our closest friends, or our inspiration. There are so many people that I want to honor here, so I hope you know that if I haven’t listed you, it isn’t because you aren’t continually an inspiration for me. I promise you, you are.

My Fellow Students

I know I’m technically only a student in the loosest sense of the word, since I’m not attending class anymore, but here are the bloggers that I’ve connected with because we’re going through college or graduate school and keeping a blog:

Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness – Kim has also moved on from graduate school, but I think between the two of us we could write a book on how to be both a productive student and a productive blogger (only on the good weeks).

Ash @ English Major’s Junk Food – I was originally drawn to Ash’s blog because I, too, was an English major, before I switched to a Spanish major. Ash talks about school, books and everything in between and I love her blog.

Ana/Nymeth @ things mean a lot – Ana is finishing up her dissertation in library science. She’s one of the smartest, most talented bloggers I know and she was totally amazing at going to school and blogging at the same time.

Clare @ The Literary Omnivore – Clare is a college student who blogs at The Literary Omnivore and her blog truly is omni-voracious, with reviews spanning Disney movies, comics, novels and more.

My First Blogging Friends

These are the people that commented on my blog in the first month and stuck around to keep up the conversation over these three years. Thank you!

Rebecca @ Book Lady’s Blog – Rebecca is one of the few bloggers I’ve actually met in person! She’s feisty and smart and has lots of great things happening on her blog.

Daphne @ somewhere i have never travelled – Daphne posts about such a wide variety of things; I love reading her blog! Especially all her adventures with pets, her new home and all the fabulous books she reads.

Eva @ A Striped Armchair – Eva and I go way back! I think her blog was one I commented on first. I think my exact words were, “Can we be friends?” Fortunately, now we are! Eva reads such a wide variety of books, I guarantee you haven’t heard of a lot of them! I’m always finding something new to read on her blog.

Care @ Care’s Online Book Club – There are just so many things to love about Care, from the hand-written notes she’s sent me in the mail when I was interviewing for jobs to all her hilarious posts, Care’s been a lovely blogging friend to have.

Chris @ stuff as dreams are made on – Chris reads such interesting books and got me totally hooked on books for the RIP challenge. But most of all, Chris made me feel at home in the blogging community. He’s also growing an amazing garden and reading such inspirational books about life and nature.

The Blogs that Inspire Me Every Day

Amanda @ Ramblings – Amanda is such an inspiration! She is always reinventing herself and doing a fabulous job of it. She’s an inspiration both as a blogger and as a person.

Emily @ Family Trunk Project & Evening All Afternoon – Emily is always inspiring me with how brilliant she is. Seriously. And her knitting! So so beautiful. Emily, I’m always afraid I don’t comment on your blog enough to tell you how awesome you are.

Trish @ Love, Laughter & Insanity – Trish is always inspiring me to write more about myself and infuse more of myself into my blog. I love that! And I love what Trish, the beautiful new mom with a beautiful daughter and family, has done with her blog.

I can’t thank all of you enough for being here and making Regular Rumination such an important part of my life. There are so many people who have touched my life because of blogging, it would be impossible to list them all. I hate that I had to leave people off this list. I hope everyone finds a new-to-them blogger or reconnects with someone!

The Monstrumologist by Richard Yancey

I will forever associate reading The Monstrumologist with the screeching sound of the subway. The first week I was in New York, applying for jobs and trying to figure out where I was going and what I was doing with my life, I read this story on the hour long subway trip into Manhattan. I hadn’t quite figured out yet that if you walk to the end of the stop, you’ll usually find a seat, even at rush hour, at least at my stop. So I spent most of the time reading this book standing up, uncomfortable, blisters on my feet. Sweating. I’m sorry, is this TMI? But I’m only telling you because even now, when I hear the subway rush into the station and hear the brakes and see the sparks, I am immediately rushed back to Will Henry and Pellinore Warthrop’s harrowing tale of Anthropophagi, horrible humanoid beasts that have no head, only a gaping mouth where their neck should be and eyes on their shoulders.

I’ll be honest: I picked up The Monstrumologist after the hullabaloo surrounding the novel a few weeks ago when it was announced that Simon & Schuster wouldn’t be continuing the series, despite positive reviews. It was this interview with Richard Yancey over at Bookshelves of Doom that really pushed me over the edge and got me to buy the book, and this quote specifically:

That should have been the end of it. I’ve been writing professionally for eight years now and have had two series cancelled, and I moved on. You have to. You gotta be able to shrug it off. Oh, well, it didn’t fly, something wasn’t right, fix that and make the next one better, etc., etc. That’s what a pro is supposed to do. Because if you don’t, you’re dead. The bloated corpse of your dead story will drag you into the grave with it.

And yet . . . I did not account for the BIGGEST mistake I made with this series. Maybe the biggest mistake a creative writer (or any creative person) can make: I fell in love with my creation. I mean, fell HARD, like Romeo for Juliet, like Bella for Edward, like Nick Cage’s character in that movie, City of Angels, for Meg Ryan. Not in the romantic sense, but in the oh-god-this-is-all-I-can-think-about sense.

And just, you know, any author that loves his book this hard? That has put this much work into it? That cares this much about the characters to compare it to the obsessive relationship between Edward and Bella (if only for the laughs)? You know what, I’ve just got to read that book. So read it I did.

I don’t think I was expecting it to be as violent and disturbing as it was, but it felt so real. Maybe the fact that every time I picked up the novel I was completely transported out of the subway, out of my painful heels, out of that cramped car, away from my aches and pains made it that much better. I really loved this story, but it’s taken some distance for me to admit that. This is a dark story, it’s scary, but it’s one that’s full of heart and amazing characters.

The good news is that Simon and Schuster is continuing the series because so many people bought the books. I’m so glad to hear it and I’m glad that people bought the book. People who were like me. Because I couldn’t not continue reading this series. It just wouldn’t be possible. Especially not when I have the subway to remind me every day.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve read everything else

 

 

September 11th, 2001

New York American Spell, 2001
by Tom Sleigh

I / omen

What was going on in the New York American
Black/red/green helmeted neon night?
The elevator door was closing behind us, we were the ones
Plunging floor after floor after floor after floor
To the abyss-but it was someone else’s face
Staring from the screen out at us, someone else’s face
Saying something flashing from the teleprompter:
Though what the face said was meant to reassure,
Down in the abyss the footage kept playing,
All of it looping back like children chanting
The answers to nonsensical riddles, taunting
A classmate who doesn’t know the question:
“Because it’s too far to walk” “Time to get a new fence”
“A big red rock eater.” And as the images rewound
And the face kept talking, the clear night sky
Filled up with smoke and the smoke kept puring
Itself out into the air like a voice saying something
It can’t stop saying, some murky omen
Like schoolkids asking: “Why do birds fly south?”
“what time is it when an elephant sits on the fence?”
“What’s big, red and eats rocks?”

2/ in front of st. vincent’s

A woman hugging another woman
Who was weeping blocked the sidewalk.
Nobody moved for a moment.
They were an island caught at the tide turning:
Such misery in two human bodies.
Then the wearing away of the crowd
Moving flowed over them and they”
Were pulled swiftly along down the sidewalk.

3 / joke

Faces powdered with dust and ash, there they were
In the fast food place, raucous and wild, splitting
The seams of their work clothes, weary to hysteria
As they hunched in their booth next to the buffet
Under heat lamps reflecting incarnadine
Off pastas and vegetable slag. Then the joke
Ignited, they quivered on the launch pad,
Laughter closed around them, they couldn’t
Breathe, it was as if they were staring out
From a space capsule porthole and were asking
The void an imponderable riddle
While orbiting so high up in space
That the earth was less than the least hint
Of light piercing the smoke-filled, cloudless night.
(What was the joke about? Nobody knew.)
And then they stopped laughing and stared into their plates,
Ash smearing down their faces as they chewed.

3 / spell spoken by suppliant to helios for knwledge
from the Greek Magical Papyri

Under my tongue is the mode of the Nile,
I wear the baboon hide of sacred Keph.
Dressed in God’s power, I am the god,
I am Thouth, discoverer of healing drugs,
Founder of letters. As god calls on god
I summon you to come to me, you
Under the earth; arouse yourself for me,
Great daimon, you the subterranean,
You of the primordial abyss.
Unless you tell me what I want to know,
What is in the minds of everyone, Egyptians,
Greeks, Syrians, Ethiopians, of every race
And people, unless I know what has been
And what shall be, unless I know their skills
And practices and works and lives and names
Of them and their fathers and mothers
And brothers and friends, even of those now dead,
I will pour the blood of the black-faced jackal
As an offering in a new-made jar and put it
In the fire and burn beneath it what’s left
Of the bones of all-praised Osiris,
And I will shout in the port of Busiris
The secrets of his mysteries, that his body,
Drowned, remained in the river three days
And three nights, that he, the praised one,
Was carried by the river into the sea
And surrounded by wave on wave on wave
And by mist rising off water through the air.
To keep your belly from being eaten by fish,
To keep the fish from chewing your flesh with their mouths,
To make the fish close their hungry jaws, to keep
The fatherless child from being taken
From his mother, to keep the pole of the sky
From being brought down and the twin towering
Mountains from toppling into one, to keep Anoixis
From running amok and doing just what she wants,
Not god or goddess will give oracles
Until I know through and through
Just what is in the minds of all human beings,
Egyptians, Syrians, Greeks, Ethyopians, of every race
And people, so that those who come to me.
Their eyes and mine can meet in a level gaze,
Neither one or the other higher or lower,
And whether they speak or keep silent,
I can tell them whatever has happened
And is happening and is going to happen
To them, and I can tell them their skills
And their works and their names and those of their dead,
And of every human being who comes to me
I will read them as I read a sealed letter
And tell them everything truthfully.

5 / from brooklyn bridge

Sun shines on the third bridge tower:
A garbage scow ploughs the water,
Maternal hull pushing is all out beyond
The city, pushing it all out so patiently—
All you could hear out there this flawless afternoon
Is the sound of sand pulverizing newsprint
To tatters, paper-pulp ripping crosswise
Or lengthwise, shearing off some photo
Of maybe a head or maybe an arm.
Ridiculous flimsy noble newspaper,
Leaping in wind, fluttering, collapsing,
Its columns sway and topple into babble:
All you’d see if you were out there
Is air vanishing into clearer air.

6 / from the plane

Pressed against our seats, them released to air,
From the little plane windows we peered four thousand feet
Down to the ground desert-gray and still,
Nothing seeming to be moving on that perfect afternoon,
No reminder of why it was we were all looking,
Remembering maybe the oh so flimsy
Wooden sawhorse police barricades, as the woman
In front of me twisted her head back to see
It all again, but up there there was nothing to see,
Only the reef water feel of transparency
Deepening down to a depth where everything
Goes dark and nothing moves unless it belongs
To that dark, darting in and out or undulating
Slowly or cruising unblinking, jaws open or closed.

7 / spell broken by suppliant to helios for protection
from the Greek Magical Papyri

This is the charm that will protect you, the charm
That you must wear: Onto lime wood write
With vermilion the secret name, name of
The fifty magic letters. Then say the words:
“Guard me from every daimon of the air,
On the earth and under the earth, guard me
From every angel and phantom, every
Ghostly visitation and enchantment,
Me, your suppliant.” Enclose it in a skin
Dyed purple, hang it round your neck and wear it.

8 / roll of film: photographer missing

Vines of smoke through latticework of steel
Weave the air into a garden of smoke.
And in the garden people came and went,
People of smoke and people of flesh, the air dressed
In ash. What the pictures couldn’t say
Was spoken by the smoke: A common language
In a tongue of smoke that murmured in every ear
Something about what it was they’d been forced
To endure: Words spoken in duress,
Inconsolable words, words spoken under the earth
That rooted in smoke and breathed in the smoke
And put forth shoots that twined through the steel,
Words plunged through the roof of the garages’
Voids, I-beams twisted; the eye that saw all this
Tells and tells again one part of the story
Of that day of wandering through the fatal garden,
The camera’s eye open and acutely
Recording in the foul-smelling air.

9 / lamentation on ur
from a Sumerian spell, 2000 BC

Like molten bronze and iron shed blood
          pools. Our country’s dead
melt into the earth
          as grease melts in the sun, men whose
helmets now lie scattered, men annihilated
by the double-bladed axe. Heavy, beyond
          help, they lie still as a gazelle
exhausted in a trap,
          muzzle in the dust. In home
after home, empty doorways frame the absence
of mothers and fathers who vanished
          in the flames remorselessly
spreading claiming even
          frightened children who lay quiet
in their mother’s arms, now borne into
oblivion, like swimmers swept out to sea
          by the surging current.
May the great barred gate
          of blackest night again swing shut
on silent hinges. Destroyed in its turn,
may this disaster too be torn out of mind.

I’m never above a fun meme.

Writing every day hasn’t happened yet, but I’m still getting adjusted to my new life and new job. Fortunately, there are memes for times like these! Thanks to Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, who seems to be in a similar boat at the moment, I have this My Life in Books meme. I love doing these and it seems like this one got started with Pop Culture Nerd.

One time at band/summer camp, I was: Solo by Rana Dasgupta

Weekends at my house are: Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap

My neighbor is: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin

My boss is: Refresh, Refresh by Danica Novgorodoff (Because I’m always refreshing Outlook to get his emails!)

My ex is:  The Kid by Sapphire (Since my last boyfriend was named Tyler and we were in the fourth grade. It lasted a week.)

My superhero identity is: The Monstrumologist by Richard Yancey

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry because: When She Woke by Hilary Jordan

I’d win a gold medal in: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

I’d pay good money for: The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken

If I were president, I would: Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde

When I don’t have good books, I [am] My American Unhappiness by Dean Bakopoulos

Loud talkers at the movies should be: Where She Went by Gayle Foreman

Okay, so some of these are a stretch. But most of my books have really happy titles!