Wednesday, February 29, 2012

so on leap day i'm actually thinking about leap second, which was supposed to kick in maybe 2020, i'm not sure, but it was in the news a couple of months ago when my news class started, and we caught it for just a day or two. seems all these scientists got together, and the americans and some of the high-tech people were pointing out that adjusting the world's clocks, digitalized as they are, would be an enormous hassle when that leap second kicked in, and would be like y2k, it would shut all the computers and make them unfunctioning, and what was the point of that leap second if you only had one every couple hundred years or so. we could go a few go-rounds without it, and nobody would know the difference, and we'd all go our merry way.

but the leap second had its defenders, and pretty soon, the only thing they could agree on was to postpone the decision to the next great meeting of scientists, which they did, so now the leap second's fate hangs in the balance, it's out there, it might happen, or it might not.

my wife wrote this book on stalking, and academic book, but i am to read it because this one producer called her and wanted her to make a movie out of it. and she agreed, and wrote a screen play, and he liked the idea, and has given us a green light. i could be in the screenwriting business pretty soon here. and i was just getting used to the poetry idea. but hey, you take what you can get.

and we go rolling into march, tornado season, last night, about 4:30 am, we all went down in the shelter, the four of us, and sat there until we knew the tornado had passed, but the little boys never did get back to sleep, and neither did i, and here i am even now. turns out the tornado wiped out the saline county town of harrisburg, a place that i'm especially attached to, about two towns over. i don't know so many people there though i do remember a saline county trial where i sat on a jury and saw a long line of saline county emergency and medical personnel. they're out there now; six died in the tornado, they say, and it wasn't all that big of a town to begin with. two towns over from here, on the road that cuts right through southern illinois. one wonders why these tornados just choose to roost where they do. what's up with that? not sure, but it doesn't matter. i'm turning in, see if i can get some sleep, before that whole circus starts up again...

Friday, February 24, 2012

at times it seems like this small town can be hopping, it might be the trains, or just the convergence of lots of things on a single friday night, but tonight for example i'm driving my bandmate around listening to african music and she points out all the planets in line, up above a sliver moon, right above town, i'd have seen them and not even known which planets, or even that they were planets.

it's been stray dog holiday all over town all week, this is a long tradition in illinois, where, when they first announced presidents' day, back when i was a kid, illinois didn't want to give up abe's day, and wouldn't give up abe's day, so nobody knew when to put out their garbage, abe's day or presidents' day, and the garbage would stay out an extra day on both days, or the trucks would come by and have nothing to pick up, whatever, lots of extra garbage for the stray dogs. and finally nobody could relate to presidents' day either, it wasn't like we were slighting george, or abe, or either one, when we simply traded it away for king day, or maybe vet's day, or something that seemed more urgent at the time. so voila, another stray dog holiday...

i'm playing african music as i drive around town and that's good because it's lively with an interesting beat and the town is looking bleak, and brown, and all the windows are shut and everyone's in a hurry & tired of being out of money and driving quite poorly. a lively beat that's getting livelier will at least keep the kids at bay for a minute, much better than say a semi full of squealing pigs, and give us all a lift for the school days ahead. patience is wearing thin on the school front. kids are wishing they could just move on to the next grade. i'm wishing there was a next grade.

the poetry reading was a success, and that's not just because it raised some money, but also because increasing identity as a poet has given me a kind of celebrity and people not only liked the book but also said they wanted more as they knew people who would like them, etc., which meant it had some popularity, a little jump, at least in my own tiny community. made me want to print more, eliminate the typo & mistakes, get the cover right, etc. and do it fast; orders are coming in. the pressure's on. all of a sudden, i need to have a few of them around. brings up the next dilemma; i have about a hundred more. should i make e pluribus 2012 with those hundred, or just reprint what i've got, and make a bigger, expanded e pluribus later? i'm impatient; i'm leaning toward the 2012 version soon. 100 more is hard not to just put out there, and call it the best i've got for the moment. about 670 of them, a fair collection.

all the sites need overhauls; i need a publicity stunt; i need lots of web pointers going to my site and then for example to go out there and raise some ruckus to point people to it. for example you can go out on haiku street (#haiku), the most pedestrian of places, but with a wide variety of different poets putting it out there, and i feel kind of silly, because i still don't even have a picture on my poet twitter, and no followers, no followees, no nothing, but i write haiku and go out on the #haiku street, and it's kind of like see & be seen, write haiku about whatever, and let it sit there. i open up these news articles & write haiku from them, it's like capturing a moment out there in news land. but my twitter has no face, it goes nowhere, it's just an empty shell putting haiku out into the wind. organize! time for the dance.

the one i'm most inspired to do is entirely about this small town, with every little business, every park, every corner represented, every turn of the weather, every day of budding flowers, every recognizable thing. the street curb where everyone eats ice cream, the liquor store, you name it. i named this one a few years ago, boxcars on walnut, even gave it a website, then let the site turn into pictures and links as the haiku moved on to other places.

rushed home tonight to skype the granddaughter and there she was, speaking whole sentences and telling her mom about what she saw and what she wanted. it's like having an extended family, being able to see them and talk to them almost any time yet not exactly living with them. they are a constant presence, in that i can skype them so often and actually miss them if i don't, for a few days in a row. it's wild, it's a new paradigm. a new kind of family life. they might move to georgia, that would be something, but who knows? anything could happen. it's good to see them now...

whopper of a cold came through this week and i got it maybe monday, still had it on thursday when my wife got it even worse, and said, you take the kids, get 'em up, feed 'em, dress 'em, get 'em off to school. i did 'cause i could, i teach even when i'm sick, i go to school no matter what, even if i'm about to drop over dead. i was pushing it a little there toward the end. almost keeled over. it's the way it goes.

my poet twitter is @ramblintom, check it out. my normal one is @tlev. sometimes i tweet on one, retweet on the other. i actually don't get up there much. but i've figured out, if you have something, you have to get out there and say it. not much point in letting it just sit there....


Thursday, February 23, 2012

new story:
enjoy! comments welcome as usual...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

i have a blog where i put poetry stuff, and another blog where i put carbondale stuff, but the poetry reading last night, which had its own blog too, was really a convergence of all those different aspects of my life and really belongs here because this is where i ramble and bring it all together. i originally got two other poets besides myself, so that there were two out of three of us from cesl, and two out of three of us quakers, but the quakers were the more loyal of the lot at at the beginning, out of the eighteen people there maybe ten were quakers. three or four more were from cesl and then a few more showed up too including my two older sons. the lead poet was home with a newborn baby but another cesl teacher read for him and when it got to my turn i talked a little about haiku and belted out some of my favorites from my collection which as it turns out was really my time to tell my town about my travels which now were about 38 years ago. here i'd held it in all that time, raised a family, some people knew about it, but, i'd never put it out there and said, this is what i did when i was nineteen, guatemala to alaska, about a year on the road, 1974 to be exact. and then iowa took the brunt of my rough landing so iowa was well represented in there also.

it's cold out still but it's been raining a lot and believe it or not some flowers are beginning to poke up through the cold ground. as i got ready i noticed how haiku had made me always aware of the natural world and whatever we know as the seasons; here it's still february, but winter is really loosening its grip and even though valentines and abe day and those february things could be considered winter, according to the calendar, around here they could be associated with the first nice days when you see those shoots and begin to realize the worst is over, spring is really about to pop. international festival, with its food, and chinese new year, with its spring symbolism, and this other stuff comes along too, but here we were in the back room of a coffeehouse belting out poetry and it was actually kind of fun.

then in kathy cotton's set she invited a friend from the performance poetry crowd, a woman who got right into her poem about those tigers in ohio that were involved in that situation in the news a while back. some guy had collected a whole crowd of tigers, maybe 1% of the total number of tigers on this earth, but then he committed suicide or something and let the tigers loose, and it being rural ohio and all, the authorities ended up killing most of them though they certainly didn't enjoy it. i may have gotten some of the details wrong here but the woman got kind of into it and didn't think highly of the 'public safety' that was the cause of their deaths, and especially got wound around the idea of 1% until she sounded like an occupy kid and i wondered, what happened to those occupiers anyway? and she's going 1%! 1%! theatrically, bringing in those performance poetry skills. performance poetry is big these days and i really enjoyed this, it's like watching rap, you realize there's a lot you can do with everyone's attention, once you direct it successfully upon yourself. not that i would ever try such a thing.

i got a little embarrassed, going back and dredging through my book, and finding a few typos and repeated poems, and ones that were too true to life, or said stuff i really didn't want to say. i've got my work cut out for me, as i make it a little bigger and do the research to fill in the gaps. i brought out all my angst about the haiku itself: how the haiku community has rejected 5-7-5, almost universally, but i haven't; how i want it to fit together as a body but don't know exactly how that will look (right now they're alphabetical, alabama first, and boy that's a bit of a push, going straight into alabama and from there to alaska, arizona and arkansas...california is still on that first page too, but connecticut has been pushed off by my little poster advertisement for the reading itself, so i could conceivably make that first page include whatever i wanted, and force people to delve in to really get it all). i'm talking the web version here, which has typos of its own and dead links and needs a little work too. getting it all into the light of day was, overall, quite good for me, but i'm now thinking, hustle & i can get another version out pretty quick here, one that would have more of the newer, better stuff.

that's assuming it's getting better and not spiraling downward into the muddled fuzzy golden memory of a guy who's way too busy and ever farther from the moments that actually made up that journey. it's another thing i learned, and my son told me later about having to go back to work immediately, and crossing the train tracks in front of a train so i reprimanded him about the inherent danger of stepping by those rails at night right in front of a train that can't or won't stop if you happen to get stuck. but he's nineteen, fortunately respectful and taking my advice but almost certainly not following it. one of the things i said as i belted out my train set was, they're always going faster than they look, they're actually quite dangerous, and it was a love holiday & people had love poems, but i loved trains so i had train poems.

actually it was the day after valentines day, a day in which americans spend what, three billion, but fortunately they had three hundred for the homeless which i duly scooped up and set aside to take it over there sometime as soon as possible. it included one money order for a hundred dollars by itself. a good donation to the shelter in a way feeds the ghost that follows me and reminds me how that sense of out there-ness which is like my shadow, it turns when i turn, it recedes in the dark when i curl up and try to get some sleep, it's really not so bad in this small town where i know everyone, and actually have very little chance of having to call on that shelter again. but when i go down there, to talk to the guy who runs it or whatever, i catch a glimpse of some of the people who are sucked up into the vicious-cycle treadmill: no job, no car, no life, no hope, homeless-shelter soup and you have to wait to get it, and in fact, register with the government. it's scary. but three hundred ought to be able to buy them a dinner or two and it was successful enough to get me thinking of doing it again. next year. with more of that tiger-like performance stuff, or maybe just more and/or different stuff in general, at least on my part.

to see what works and what doesn't, that's haiku, you get these moments, and sometimes some of the moments reach some of the people some of the time. i try to keep track. some of course have special meaning but only to me, the general public has no clue. rout out the inside jokes, the cliches & the stereotypes. though i must say, there were a few of those out there, at the same time i was.

Friday, February 10, 2012

new story: Five-second rule...enjoy! comments welcome, as usual

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Monday, February 06, 2012

it feels ok, running around with all these poetry reading posters, and self-publicizing, but that's partly because it's all a benefit, for the homeless shelter, and i'm already a little famous in this small town anyway, so it's not really trying to make a name for myself, so much as coming out as a poet. but i'm glad i don't take myself too seriously because so much has gone wrong, it's just unbelievable. the coffeeshop says it's wide open, any day is ok, but i choose one and it's taken. i think that's ok, to have two things there in one night, but it's not. i change the date to a week later, but the doctor changes the date of the birth to a week earlier, and now my main headline poet, he's supposed to have a baby on the 15th, same day as the reading. can't talk that doctor into changing his golf game i suppose? no, they're scheduling it for the 15th. that poet will have someone read for him, maybe. the 15th is indirect competition with valentines day, and the international festival, it's a busy time, but we'll live. we're psyched, so to speak. philosophy club, bane of my existence.

i'm a stalinist, because things i'd rather not do, i just kind of stall, and i'm always stallin, because i have so much to do, that some things get put off indefinitely. my job includes all kinds of things that can be put off, but that's bad because so many more can't be put off and there are some things that just aren't getting done. then today, monday morning, my wife got an offer from lubbock texas, texas tech, and i was surprised that i was interested myself, even though it's the far plains, way out there, way flat, way hot, way cotton country. and still it seemed kind of cool, moving way out there. i just needed to entertain a possibility of change. we rolled lubbock around on our tongues, looked it up in wikipedia. probably won't happen. but it seemed kind of interesting there for a while. kind of like bobby knight, moving out there to lubbock. except we probably won't do it. and we don't throw chairs.

so i'm doing publicity, but i lose my main poet to a probable birth situation, and it kind of takes the wind out of my sails, and maybe i should just concentrate on the usual work, that i'm so far behind on. i wonder why i get so tired, & it's because this stuff kind of weighs on me, and i try my best to tear around in the mornings and get as much of it done as possible, yet i stop to talk to people sometimss & it costs me. one class is 2-5 in this room that is directly at the origin of the heater and it's always at least a hundred even with the door open; makes me want to crack the window but that's probably impossible. an oven, a sauna, and nap time to boot, and i have trouble getting anything out of the students, at all...can't blame them. 2-5, nap time. especailly if you're up 'til like 2.

now here's my question. it hasn't rained in texas in like two years, except for a storm which flew through there once a while back. a complete and total drought which turned the kerrville folk festival into a dust storm and threatens to do the same for everyone else. now i say this is related to the fact that they've sucked the bottom out of the water table, and this is because there are millions of people living out in the desert, in places like phoenix and el paso and lubbock, but it's a desert. so if they have no water table and the result is a drought parches the land for two years i maintain those two are related, but they might not be. but either one might be a good reason not to move out there. minnesota would be better, i'd say, at least in terms of having snow once in a while and having a big old lake to stick your toe in when you get bored. guess we'll stay free and see what pops up, & i say this though for all intents and purposes i've declared southern illinois my home, i've been here seventeen years, i've taken to saying half the stuff they say around here.

i do africa for a hobby. helps me get away from it all, and see how vast and diverse this world is. it's a wild place, africa. it has spurts of democracy, or hope. times when everyone does business and improves their lot, or argues about the intentions of the chinese. and it has weather too, maybe not like the lubbock tornado of 1970, or the tri-state tornado of 1925 (?) but weather nonetheless. a good rainstorm, now you don't see that everyday. sometimes europe gets all the snow, and then people like me are forced to drop, exhausted, into bed, without even seeing any. chao

Sunday, February 05, 2012

new movie: Dart monkey vs. Z.O.M.G. btd5

sundays, it usually comes down to a lot of homework, piles of grading i brought home on friday 'cause i got to doing something else at the office. it's drizzling and cold here; everyone is off somewhere watching the super bowl, and i'm home with two very bored kids who are beginning to bounce off the wall, though occasionally they mumble at me about calling their friends who are invariably not home or busy. it's true, i don't have much for them to do, and in fact i'd rather they leave me alone and let me get to my homework, but i should be so lucky. the movie was an aside, disrupted my homework a little, took the computer down 'til it was close to zero, but it didn't matter, because as long as the boys are up, i get very little done. this includes, what's on computer, and what's not. different folks are skyping from different directions. the little guy, he skypes whoever he sees, so there's a kind of running conversation with the entire extended family. we all know what's going on with everyone.

the skype doesn't always work perfectly though, so we occasionally get cut off in the middle of a conversation, and this could be because of disrupted connection, or just about anything. it's maddening. but it's free. in the old days you'd pay a small fortune just to hear a voice.

with the poetry reading now put off a week (see below) i have a little more time to prepare the book and get ready; there are a lot of publicity angles to explore and arms to twist. i'm taking both a personal and public approach to publicity. personal, in that i'll twist the arms of all my friends, virtually all of them. public, in that we're also hitting all the local media, from here to there, to get whatever turnout we can. in the meantime i'm meeting the people at the good samaritan and hearing whatever everyone has to say about it. seemed, at first, to be a worthy cause. maybe there are more worthy ones. 2013 standndeliver might have a different plot line. if there is one.

i'm exhausted on weekends; i get up saturday morning, make a cup of coffee, make another one, finally get dressed, and go run around taking the boys hither and yon. by evening i'm exhausted and i haven't even done anything. takes a whole day to unwind out of my teaching schedule. sundays i try to hold it together at quaker meeting and then have to turnaround, get ready for monday. it's a grind. i'm barely prepared to start. some people talk about going back to work in order to rest. for me, there is no rest. neither one is all that relaxing. rest occasionally happens when i exercise, or swim, or walk from the car to the office where these days i get to see a construction zone. it's rest, when they are operating the heavy machinery, and i am just walking. it's rest when i take the elevator.

the other day i got into the elevator though, and, as usual it doesn't light up, it's impossible to tell from its light whether it will actually stop at three, whether it sensed your urgent push to go to three. ok, that's ok, i'm quite used to that, it's like a deaf old grandfather who, you yell at him, and he mostly hears you because it's the same thing you yell every time and he's quite used to it. i'm used to this, this elevator whose light is broken, and i settle in for my burnt-to-the-gills restful ride, but this woman who's also in the elevator, she's not used to it, and somehow concludes that the elevator is off to a ride into who-knows-where, which makes me feel like maybe she regards me as the wrong person to be stuck in an elevator with. no, she's just plain panicking, the light's not on, who knows where it's going? i spend a few minutes trapped in a claustrophobic box with the panic of being on the edge, and not knowing one floor from no floor.

the exercise bike is restful, and that's because it's entirely zydeco, accordion music and french-creole yelling in harmony, all in a rhythm that is more or less adjusted to the bike itself. i don't know if all those cajun singers were exercise-bicyclists but it sure seems like that kind of sweating and that kind of blues are close kin and in fact actually spare me from being down there say, in the summer, when you really sweat. i knew this guy, a fiddler, who went down there, learned french, came back with all these awesome fiddle tunes, and made it, in his own way, and i think about that sometimes, but mostly i think about other stuff. it's about the only time i rest.

monday rolls around, and once again i'm way behind on everything. way behind on the moodle, where i'm supposed to show everyone my grades. way behind on various aspects of my job which i will frantically try to catch up on this week. there's no way to finish it all. i sometimes talk to people, which is nice, but which costs me. late at night, i feel guilty, there's too much, and i'm too pitifully behind. you'd think these small towns would be restful. well, the traffic is, but everything else, it's worse than ever. more later. chao

Friday, February 03, 2012

Wed. Feb. 15, 7-9 PM, Longbranch Coffeehouse
100 E. Jackson St., Carbondale

Patrick T. Randolph
Kathy Cotton
Thomas Leverett

More information here.
All Welcome!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

the philosophy club is the bane of my existence, because while i was messing with the poets, choosing wednesday over thursday and making sure everything was cool with everyone, the philosophy club apparently slipped in and reserved the back room for wednesday, for who knows what, and we're out in the cold, out a hundred posters and wondering when the heck we could have this alleged poetry reading benefit. our remaining choice would be the day after valentine's day, which would carry a bit of irony, or possibly to change venues, but it's hard to get three poets to agree on anything and i'm still as a result somewhat hanging in the wind here.

now the jigsaw puzzle you see below was finally completed, except for a single piece, which i could say is the bane of my existence, but in fact i've more or less let it go and now just look at that gap as you would look at say the mouth of a kid who's just lost his first tooth. it's a long way down from here, you might say to the kid, or the puzzle; the puzzle is going into the box, one piece short or not, and those darn reindeer (100?) took me months to get their horns straightened out. it's going into the box, and from whence nowhere, since you can't give away a puzzle that's missing one piece. if i were perhaps to give it away, i would then be more likely to find the piece, which is probably buried in some unread magazine somewhere beneath where the puzzle table was. i could get worried about that piece, and even start opening those magazines, but i haven't.

a granddaughter skypes me almost daily now, and that's a great development because i can hear her word development (gawa turns into gampa in a single week), and i get to blow her kisses. what a kid! i remember how exciting it is to watch someone being almost two. her mom leaves for a minute and she gives me an entire sentence, undecipherable, but dead serious, about what's going on. she tries her best to tell me everything.

it was groundhog day here, but it occurred to me that i'd lost track of what passes for groundhogs these days, and worse, what passes for winter. it was winter? it seemed to me that everything was a little suspended in half-warm, half-cold purgatory, with no rest for the cats at the window who can now see all the birds for lack of groundcover, the cats must, at least, stay in the house, and give the birds a fighting chance. the geese, above, honk loudly in the warm breeze; i'm convinced they're speaking french, or the geese dialect of it, anyway, as they are from canada and we don't have a whole lot of canadians around. they argue about whether to go back or what, and i reckon the must be working it out, whether to speak english, or french.

tiredness washes over me and i'm off to bed, only to say, i'll readvertise the poetry reading as soon as i can, it's not really the bane of my existence. it's good, and it's coming soon, one way or the other! ciao