Archive for March, 2010

Joe Biden Haiku

Today, Poets & Writers challenged its readers to create haiku with the middle line containing vice president Joe Biden’s remark: “This is a big fucking deal!” (in regards to the health care bill).

Please find below some of my slapdash efforts and feel free to post your own:

Biden is happy/“This is a big fucking deal!”/That guy cracks me up.

Hot microphone hears:/“This is a big fucking deal!”/Joe Biden says “whoops”.

He is a goofball/“This is a big fucking deal!”/But this time he’s right.

Watch your language veep/“This is a big fucking deal!”/The forest has ears.

Joe Biden is bald/“This is a big fucking deal!”/Joe Biden is deaf.

His wife is still hot/“This is a big fucking deal!”/Joe is excited.


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Soon, they will start emerging from the earth, beneath the dead elms and the live apples from the rot and dank carpeting of the forest and I am excited to be on hands and knees when they do, a knife in my hands.  There is something magical about collecting your own food, in the wild.  The foodies call this collecting foraging, and that is what it is to be sure, but like hunting I like the foraging for its ancillary activities as well.  The beer drinking, the sunshine, the fresh spring air, the arrowhead hunting, the campfires.  The mushrooms with butter and garlic and white wine.  Last year I was struck by a kind of mushroom fever and I would leave home even for just an hour and search city parks or state parks and once met up with Bob Rice for a two day morel expedition.  Perhaps my favorite moment was bushwhacking into a dense stand of alder and thorn and finding a fawn, terrified of my presence and frozen in a pool of sunlight.  The creature and I shared several moments of staring at one another in mutual surprise.  I am excited for the morels.

We leave tomorrow for Florida.  A day long sojourn across America, through Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and into that “great limp penis” that hangs into the Atlantic.  I am excited though.  Excited to see Regina’s family.  Excited for golf.  For Henry to see the ocean.  For cigars and cold beer.  Life is speeding up again and soon enough we will be living in Iowa.

Laboring over two short stories at the moment.  Just read Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain”.  What a breathtaking story.  Unbelievable.  At present watching “Miller’s Crossing” by the Coen Brothers.

It’s all about e’tics.

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I heard once that Sherman Alexie referred to Charles Bukowski as a “knuckle-dragging Neanderthal”. And maybe he was. But Sherman Alexie has never written a poem more beautiful than this one. And I want to simply hear Tom Waits read it over and over again to me. I want to think about the miracle of all our individual lives, and the power we have to change things and to redirect our own paths and experience magic and good things. I want to be at some old bar with Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski and I want to talk about good fortune and bad times and I want very badly for there to be smoke in my eyes and for the sunlight outside to be too bright. I would like very badly to buy the drinks and to feel full and happy and blessed.

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Last week Regina and I buried an icon/image of Saint Joseph in the tomato garden.  We said heartfelt prayers and covered the small white, plastic statue in dirt and hoped for the best.  To the uninformed: Saint Joseph is the patron saint of real estate.  We very much need for this house to sell.  As much as we love our neighbors, and this place, we need this house to sell.  We need some good luck and some good people.  We are now willing to embrace Catholic superstition.

We had a visitor today at 2517.  Henry and I were swinging on the front porch when a car drove slowly by.  I waved to the driver and she pulled over to the curb.  It was Rita D_____, a former resident of our house along with her FOUR siblings, TWO parents, and ONE grandmother.  This home housed seven people at one time in less than a thousand square feet with only a single commode.  She was excited to see the changes we had made to the house and was very excited to hold Henry.  A very sweet woman and I can’t help but think that she might be our lucky charm.  I hope she visits again.  This house is full of good spirits and I hope that it always is.  The house is surrounded by flowers and good trees and strong people and sometimes in the trees are hawks and in the springtime there are hundreds of warblers.  There is woodruff in the gardens and many kinds of mint and the many colored spears of lupine.  This house has been so very good to us, to our little family.

Almost a week ago I was in Iowa City again, with high school buddy Bill Hogseth to see our mutual friend Nicholas Gulig read his poetry.  We had a blast; too much fun.  Thursday morning we woke up hungover and sore and blurry.  I’m too old to drink eleven beers in an evening.  Too old to sleep on an anonymous couch.

Spring is here.  I will grill steaks tomorrow night and possibly mix up some bloody marys.  I am near to finishing Harrison’s The Farmer’s Daughter and eager to move into either Tree of Smoke or Tbe Palace Thief.  I owe many fine people handwritten letters.

Godspeed America.

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Parfrey’s Glen – Feb 2010

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This past weekend, Dot the Matrix logged over 718 miles, most of which were accumulated between Des Moines, IA and Iowa City, IA.  It was a fantastic trip for the Butler family: an excellent and restful stay with the Meeks family, a great lunch in Ames with Dean Bakopoulos and Ben Percy (two of America’s best young authors), a fabulous day in Iowa City and at the Dey House.  After spending a goodly amount of time in Iowa City and really scrutinizing our options, I have decided to accept the University of Iowa’s offer and in the fall, I will be a member of the Iowa Writers Workshop (IWW) in fiction.  This is a startling reality for me.

On Wednesday I will return to Iowa City with high school chum Bill Hogseth to witness our mutual childhood friend Nicholas Terry Gulig read from his Masters thesis.  This is another amazingly rewarding reality for me: to see Nick grow as a writer and poet into a man graduating from the IWW, his art polished to a shine but ultimately retaining its sweet and heartfelt goodness.  This also makes me feel good about my decision.

I was impressed with Iowa, though its topography doesn’t hold as much magic for me as Wisconsin.  I enjoyed my time in Iowa City and Des Moines, and I am excited to explore those cities more profoundly.  But it was funny.  Crossing the Mississippi from Dubuque back into Wisconsin you are met with striking coulees and draws and undulating farmland.  Great sloughs and sandstone ridges, most of which carry you all the way to the suburban fringes of liberal Madison.  Wisconsin is a great state, my favorite state, and I will miss being so close to Eau Claire, the Driftless Area, and even the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

We stopped briefly in Mineral Point, which was my first visit there.  What an amazing town.  Spectacular downtown building stock all intact.  Great topography.  A very intimate village feel.  I want to go back there.

Worked at Star this evening slinging booze.  Tasted a new Crispin cidar brewed with Trappist yeasts, and also a new Capital Brewery offering.  Both were lackluster though not bad.  Tomorrow my writing group meets at our house and I am excited to see my friends again and talk writing.  That was one of the striking things about Iowa City: books and literature were on everyone’s tongue.  Everyone is plugged into the literary scene, attending readings, talking about poetry.  I think it will be a good place to land for two years.  I hope that it is a new beginning and the start of some new friendships as well.

Godspeed Iowa.  Godspeed Wisconsin.

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Another Dude Day, a fantastic day.  Spring is in the air, a tease: melting snow, bird calls, more sunshine.  Beside our back door a grape hyacinth is even breaking through the frozen earth, as are our Himalayan poppies.  Cleaned the house, the dishes, a load of laundry.  Henry kept me company in his bouncy chair.  Between his two naps today I punched out a 5,000 word short story tentatively called “Two Invisible Wolves”.  The trouble is always finding a publisher.

No MFA decisions made yet, despite an aborted change in the “ABOUT” section of this blog.  So far, only one official offer is one the table, from the IWW.  This weekend we head down to Iowa to visit Iowa City, Gulig, the Meeks family, and hopefully some friends in Ames, Iowa.  There is work tomorrow at Star and I hope to spend the bulk of Thursday writing.  My goal is to have a collection of short stories complete before September 1st.  At present I think I’m close to 100-120 pages.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend picking up a 4-pack of New Glarus Cherry Stout.  Sweet but big bodied.  A delicious dessert beer.  At present I am nursing a Lake Louie Kiss the Lips IPA.  Possibly my favorite brewery.

Also, big congratulations to Swanny for finishing the annual Birkebeiner cross-country ski race.  Very proud of him for that.

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