Monday, January 31, 2011

How to Stay Motivated, Part 5/January Resolutions Check-In

After half a year doing The Happiness Project, I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone whose art occasionally gets slowed down by sadness.

January Resolutions:

  1. Branch out.
I branched out in the following large and small ways:
a. I learned how to use panko breadcrumbs, inspired by The Iron Chef and Rachel Ray. Here is a nice piece of flounder that Amy made me with panko and sesame seeds.
b. I finally warmed up to the idea of buying one song at a time. (# Latest of all late adopters.)
3. I typed more potential words into the Scrabble Dictionary. “Baith”? Who knew?
4. I did some new things when it comes to poetry, to very satisfying results.

  1. Practice trust.
I’m still not sure what that means, but the other day, Amy had a snow day, so she walked over to work with me. I brought her down to the Children’s Dept. and introduced her to the librarian ladies and some of the kids. It made me realize that the homophobia of my old job is truly behind me, and I’ve started to heal. Plus, I got to show Amy our ADORABLE MLK Day Bulletin board.

  1. Get pretty drunk sometimes.

Best. Resolution. Ever. It resulted in lots of extra fun and dancing and lots of only-semi-appropriate flirting. Resolution 3 FTW.

  1. Bring 2010 Photos into the physical realm.

They’re all uploaded to Shutterfly and I’ve ordered about half of the prints that I want. Guess I’ll make this a February resolution, too.

  1. Schedule and study for the PRAXIS.

It is scheduled for Feb. 28 and I plan to start studying this week. So excited!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Love Poems: Greg Bem!

Greg sent me an abstract picture of his sock, but I had to steal this supercute picture from his blog--go there! It's good.

The Fever


brown middles/dances/wake/ cheer

single mirrored patch/yellow mountain

puffs/dream smile/to pull/from/shrill

laughter cloud


to take/me out/right me/outside me


Rittenhouse, her favorite food cart, and a Philadelphia breakfast, and my obsessions, a carriage ride, feasting, and harmony.

Service, she koala, vegemite, furious, furry, and the approach of a subtle aroma, smitten, spent, the vocal utter: see-tay, see-et-ay, coma toma, hearing her smile, pronounced passion.

Peacemaker of Arch Street, vision of tsunami shores, a chant to imagine, and eyes, and the grin, her silk, my wallet, my shrine, hand-drawn, the speed dial, the history, her name, with meaning: cosmographical.

Bio Note

Greg Bem grew up in Southern Maine and quickly moved to Rhode Island where he received his BFA in Creative Writing in 2008. He worked for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, then moved to Philadelphia where he worked as an airport bookseller, a manuscript reviewer, a gourmet grocer in the Reading Terminal Market, a data entry processor in the suburbs, and as an assistant and aid at Olney High School West in North Philly. While in Philadelphia he was a member of the late Poetic Arts Performance Project (PAPP) and the New Philadelphia Poets (NPP). In September of 2010 he moved to Seattle, Washington. He lives in the Columbia City neighborhood, and when not selling books at the Sea-Tac airport, he helps out with the Northwest Spoken Word Poetry Lab (SPLAB), the Rainier Valley Food Bank, and Seattle Public Library's youth program. He also participates in medical research studies that supply him with pinpricks and cash money. His current major project is his photo-poetry collaboration with Linda Thea called Ghost to New York ( His personal blog is He regularly enjoys 72% dark chocolate infused with chili pepper.

Poetic License Horoscope for January 28-February 3

Poetic License Horoscope for January 28-February 3

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Our brains are programmed to remember danger. That’s why one saber-tooth complaint can loom larger than one hundred compliments. Don’t lie awake trying to forget teeth. Collect praise like Mancala marbles.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Winter is speeding by and in your dreams, it’s already Spring. Remember the leaves? They remember you!

Aries (March 21-April 18): My friend Fiona was INCENSED when some lady told her she was too young to understand snail mail. To that person she should quote Virginia Woolf: “Life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the very beginning.”

Taurus (April 19-May 18): “The dream of the Nineties is alive in Portland” goes the theme song of my new favorite show, Portlandia. No matter where you are, try it: Sleep until 11, experiment with flannel, start your own adult hide-and-seek league. Fun, right?

Gemini (May 19-June 21): "True love is boundless like the ocean and, swelling within one, spreads itself out and, crossing all boundaries and frontiers, envelops the whole world" –Mahatma Ghandi

Cancer (June 22-July 23): Count your tropes like treasures: Your lists of flowers, the number of times you mention rain, your beautiful and ever-befuddling mate. Chime them like a clock, sing them like a mantra.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): This is your mix tape week. Make yourself a soundtrack for everything. Label all of your unnamed songs, archive your musical gifts.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Some episodes of This American Life are like the boiling frog scenario, but with sadness. Sometimes you should turn it off before the misery gets too hot and listen to Judge John Hodgeman instead.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): A favorite Libra poet of mine is always trying to give away his stage time—don’t do that. Take your turn and have your say—you’re worthy and your voice is beautiful.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Spring is coming like a hoped-for apology, a letter scented with lilacs and stamped with fresh earth. Can you hear the blossoming, underneath the crickle of ice?

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Your heart is as big as California. This time of year, I miss your perfect daffodils, your supermarkets of bright, inexpensive bouquets, your stretches of highway that smell like strawberries, your eucalyptus nights.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): You are as romantic as late-night language lessons, as pretty as fingernails, as hopeful as church. Keep it up, you’re perfect.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Songs of the Week: Mini Road Mix!

The other day my pal Shappy made a 3 volume, alphabetically arranged road mix for the (2 hour) drive to New York City. These are my favorite to sing along to. Thanks, Shappy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January Resolution #2: Practice Trust

I do feel a little more trusting than I did at the beginning of the month. I don’t feel like everything and everyone is disappearing, etc. Maybe it is simply a Seasonal Affective matter and most of my issues could be solved with full-spectrum lightbulbs, I don’t know.

Anyway, the other day I did a pretty cathartic act of trust—I gave away a whole bunch of my previously hoarded school supplies to a school that had recently burned down.

I didn’t give way the real capital—I kept my Poetry Speaks books and my Kenneth Koch lessons and my Poetry 180s. But every time I feel insecure and unworthy of teaching, I tend to spend money on supplies. Last summer when I was afraid I would never teach again, I bought mountains of stuff for my summer classes, only a fraction of which got used.

Dropping off that stuff was like getting rid of the fear and loneliness that lead me to purchase it in the first place. What a relief to turn that psychological baggage into something productive.

It was an act of trust in my well-supplied current job and in my future teaching life.

Of course, if I end up teaching in a public school I’ll expect to shell out for supplies again, but I hope I’ll be doing it out of necessity and not as a way to soothe feelings of unworthiness.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Christmas Tree

Last night (a little late, probably...) we took down the Christmas tree. I miss it so much, it gives me a stomach ache. We left up most of the other lights though. Lights are needed.
My friend Daniel McGinn. inspired this poem.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Christmas Tree

1. Childhood is a percentage game,
waking up with my sister and finding
the stockings were full
even the dolls’-
chocolate chips wrapped up like Hershey’s Kisses,
mostly that, but-

2. They fought every year on Christmas tree day,
from the earliest snow-sparkle
all the way to the car.
I can’t remember a single topic,
but their voices like saws
in the front seat,
the flush of adrenaline
as we walked the aisles and chose—
they never once agreed.

3. Pools of light on the ceiling.
Being read The Gift of the Magi.

4. Eddie pulled down the Christmas tree once.
it was caught on cassette tape:
You look with your eyes,
not with your hands.

5. The year we shoplifted every pink thing.
and covered the roommate-tree with all of it.

6. My niece decorating Christmas tree cookies:
Gold to put a star on it, obviously.

7. Glitter on foil, wrapped around construction paper:
it was my job to make the star for the top.
Now it’s my job to write the eulogies.

8. Leave it up at least for all of January.
Take a picture and put it on the desk, year-round.

9. Afraid the cat would pull down a tree,
for year we decorated only
the houseplants.

10. Regularly check
your arbitrary limits:
We thought you had to have children
to have a Christmas tree.

11. A box of ornament hooks.
Leftover cards.
The address book, updated.
Unopened assortment of cookie cutters.
Fresh tablecloth,
fresh sheets.

12. My mother remembers the origin
of every ornament
in eight large boxes.
Your wedding favor,
any keepsake at all,
you’ll find it among the branches.

13. And becoming my mother:
still decorating on December 27th,
determined to leave up the lights forever.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Remembering My Uncle Tony

My Uncle Tony died of AIDS around this time in 2005. I just wanted to remember him with this thing I wrote on our Family forum at the time.

I can't believe how awful the music on the radio was in 1999.

Posted to the Oswego Carters Family Forum

"I have a lot to say. Ever since I found out I’ve been trying to remember as much as I can from my stay in Lemon Grove, so everyone could have a better picture of how his life was. Everyone sort of thinks of his life there as an exile, but he seemed so at home, and so cheery and welcoming. The first thing I noticed was how much of a Walecki he was, even after all those years of separation. His face, voice and mannerisms were so much like his sisters’. I even remember him using the word (words?) “moosh-a-moosh.” Most importantly, he had that Walecki-esque HEY! LET’S DRIVE AROUND AND LOOK AT THINGS! quality that I’m so glad I inherited. So that’s what we did. The first time I saw the Pacific Ocean, it had Pagan (his dog) running around in it. My first (bright red) California sunset was seen from the top-down back of uncle Tony’s Jeep, while speeding down the freeway. (I’m bringing pictures.)

One of my happiest memories so far is sitting on Uncle Tony’s futon smoking one of his generic (ew) cigarettes and watching him dance around the living room to The Offspring’s “Pretty Fly for a White Guy.” (Possibly the only meaningful experience anyone ever had to The Offspring.) Life was so bright there and new and full of possibilities. Speaking of music, that “Every Morning” song was on like every five minutes that winter, and Uncle Tony said he’d heard the guy play it in the park in San Diego “back when the lyrics were X-rated.” Uncle Tony was so cool that he saw Jane’s Addiction play in a small club before they made it. I was always envious of that.

Back to Lemon Grove, I just remember everything being so bright: the bougainvillea, the lemon tree in their back yard. I remember him and Chuck and me cutting up these huge bright tomatoes for whatever we were having for supper. (Chuck: roommate or “roommate”? Uncle Tony said they were roommates and I assumed he'd told me the truth until I discovered that my friend Randy had also been playing that sneaky and highly unnecessary word game) ANYWAY, their house felt as welcoming as any other family member’s house would. There was a lot more neon, though, and a lava lamp, and a big fish tank but I don't remember what kind of fish.

Uncle Tony helped me get settled in California, and I don’t know if I was ever properly grateful. I hope he knew how much he’d helped me. He helped me find a place to live and met the grumbly old glass blower I rented a room from. He even helped me negotiate more scholarship money with the school. He lent me his bicycle and I didn’t lock it and it got stolen-I feel louty about that.

Everyone’s got their regrets about what they forgot to do: I promised to send him our wedding pictures and I never did. I hope someone did because he really should have seen them.

When I found out, I told my poet friends across the country, so all week people have been reading poems for him in different cities. He definitely deserves it. If they’ll send me the poems, I’ll make a book and sell them for charity. It’ll be called The Lemon Grove Project.

Love you all and see you soon. "

Hey, that book was pretty great.

Friday, January 21, 2011


This afternoon, I registered for the PRAXIS, which is the big test you have to take to get into teaching programs.

I've been dithering about teacher stuff this week, but as soon as I pressed "send" I felt ELATED.

Feb 28. Pray for me if you're so inclined.

Friday Love Poem: Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz!

(Doesn't she look superhot in this picture?)

Ode to My Morning Cup of Coffee

I buy you every morning at the same place.

They know me there, and have the cup

ready before I even approach the counter.

Some days the subway acts up, and I run

so late that I don’t have time to pick you up.

We categorize those days as being “bad.”

Life without you, coffee, wouldn’t be a life at all.

It would be: a terrible fog, a slow-motion movie

about the wind, the world’s driest muffin

choked down with a paper cup of warm water.

It would be me actually kicking a trashcan

after yelling at a fax machine when the truth is

I’m the one who keeps dialing the wrong number.

I need you, coffee, and I don’t think that part

of our relationship is unhealthy. It’s good to need

things in your life and I need you, morning cup

of coffee, I need you so much. You don’t even know.

Look at me! Look at my eyes! Do you see how serious

I am? Coffee, I would take a bullet for you. I would

wear your burns like a badge of honor. I would punch

a tea bag in the face, and not shed a single tear.

CRISTIN O'KEEFE APTOWICZ is the author of five books of poetry (Dear Future Boyfriend, Hot Teen Slut, Working Class Represent, Oh, Terrible Youth and Everything is Everything) as well as the the author of the nonfiction book, Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, which Billy Collins wrote “leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature.” Born and raised in Philadelphia, Aptowicz moved to New York City at the age of 17. At age 19, she founded the three-time National Poetry Slam championship poetry series NYC-Urbana, which is still held weekly at the NYC’s famed Bowery Poetry Club. Aptowicz is currently serving as the 2010-2011 ArtsEdge Writer-In-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and was recently awarded a 2011 National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Poetry. For more information, please visit her website:

Poetic License Horoscope for January 21-27

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Do whatever turns you heart to Jello, makes you evaporate with praise, makes your face light up like Lite Brite pegs. You’ll find them everywhere.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): According to Rumi, “This being human is a guest house,” into which we should welcome all of our emotions. Make pancakes for your Grief, fluff up pillows for Fear, let Joy plug in and charge all of its devices. They’ll be back on the road soon enough.

Aries (March 21-April 18): It’s hard sometimes to leave 2010 in 2010, but I sometimes make good on that resolution. Let old monsters go mute. Discover the cure for Mentionitis. (And email it to me, please.)

Taurus (April 19-May 18): “You are the one/solid spaces lean on, envious.”-Sylvia Plath

Gemini (May 19-June 21): “When your world feels like the bottom of an/ ocean, remember that bioluminescence isn’t just for the fish. / Open up your chest and shine. / Someone will catch you.” –McKendy Fils-Aimé

Cancer (June 22-July 23): From The Decemberists’ January Hymn: “What were the words I meant to say before you left? /When I could see your breath lead /Where you were going to /Maybe I should just let it be? /And maybe it will all come back to me "

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Your face is a picture of moving lights, a star map, a Map of the Stars’ houses. Your hands are fashioning gold out of snow, but your shoulders are getting tired.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Turn off your screens and feel less jittery. (After you read this, of course!) Hear the hum of the heaters and the noise of the sheets. You are a religion of baths and blankets, a hibernation of books. Exhale.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Much like my friend Emily, your heart takes little Polaroids of everything and pastes them into a book. It writes out each date in neat block letters and carefully collects quotations.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Oh, dear. It’s time to take down the Christmas tree. This year, decorate for winter. 3-D snowflakes are easy to make, and so are the flat ones, if you fold and cut carefully.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Not to get super-meta here, but horoscopes are a made-up system, and you are a free elf. Read whichever one sounds like the most fun. Identity is kind of a hologram anyway.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Watch Catfish. Think about art, identity, surveillance, smushed pennies taped to postcards, and Google Earth.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to Stay Motivated, Part 4: Submit to The Legendary

Okay, so I'm partly writing this post to brag about having a couple of poems in The Legendary this month. (Both love poems to Memphis, where they are.)They're also nice enough to feature Poetic License Horoscopes every Saturday.

But you really should submit to them-- Jim and Katie are both supersweet and they have great taste. Also, if they don't pick you, you'll have another chance next month!

All bragginess aside, whenever I'm feeling bereft, sending a stack of poems out into the world always makes me feel better. Do it!

(EXPLICIT) Song of the Week: You Can Do It (OhmygodIceCubeissohot.)

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE DO NOT PRESS PLAY IF YOU MIGHT BE UPSET BY NASTY LANGUAGE. Almost all of the words to this song are ones I would not/could not say out loud, but it is my FAAAAAAAVORITE song to dance to. And it's the song I'm obsessed with this week. And I do have a long-running crush on Ice Cube.

Also it makes me feel better about my "Ass for weeks." God bless hip-hop for that.

**Special thanks to Amy Lawson for the new SOTW header. You can follow her creative hijinx at More Pens Please.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Photo by Wally Moyer.

You can go here for more info about the MLK Day of Service.

I’ve heard that Philadelphia has the most well-attended Day of Service in the nation—go us!

This year, it was especially festive for me because it was the first one that I’ve gotten to spend with Amy. We got up early and went over to my church, the Unitarian Society of Germantown. They had about 20 projects going on, including making meals for the homeless, caring for historic buildings, letter-writing for GLBT rights, and collecting supplies for a school that just burned down.

After we signed up for our project, we joined the stream of people going into the church’s sanctuary. It was a moving place to be, because MLK himself spoke from our pulpit back in the days. There’s a plaque and everything. If Amy and I look superserious in the above picture, it’s because we got real chocked up when we learned that Martin and Coretta met in a Unitarian congregation. (Not sure why that would choke up Amy, who’s not Unitarian—I firmly support her right to stay home on Sundays and watch Caprica and other shows that I don’t want to watch.)

The church was full to the edges, with Sesame Street levels of diversity. As I sang along to “We are standing on the side of love,” I felt the same measured optimism that I felt at the Rally to Restore Sanity: this is a really good thing to do, and I’m so glad to be in this crowd, but I hope everybody’s still gonna be working on this tomorrow. It’s beautiful, but it isn’t a solution in and of itself.

The project that Amy and I chose was helping to clean Johnson House, which I used to walk past every day on the way to work. The House’s website says it’s “Philadelphia’s only accessible and intact stop on the Underground Railroad. The Johnson House was home to three generations of Quaker families who worked to abolish slavery and improve living conditions for freed African Americans.”
Cleaning those walls was a little tiny thing, but it was satisfying. It made me happy to think that even in the midst of the nightmare of slavery, families were still reaching out to help other families. It made me want to recommit to being as loving and welcoming as I can be.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Coretta Scott King Quote

"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Coretta Scott King

Stupid Shit People Say About Poor Children

Luckily this does not happen at my current jobsite, but I have lost count of the number of times that I have heard education professionals tell me that kids don't like to read or write.

I wish I could carry around the reams and reams of evidence that I have to the contrary.

The worst part is that they're often saying "the kids we work with" which is code for "urban" which is code for...

Even if they aren't being racist, they are certainly underestimating kids, which is absolutely the worst sin as far as I am concerned.

It is not our job to reinforce stereotypes that people have about children, any children. It is our job to show them every possible opportunity.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Poetic License Horoscope for January 14-20

Note: The stars think that every day should be Martin Luther King, Jr. day, but if you happen to be off work on Monday, January 17th, find a service project in your neighborhood and join in—FUN!

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): You are a bouquet of January flowers, a Dutch Impressionist painting where everything’s blooming at once. Collect it all.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Read Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, but give yourself some recovery time afterwards--it’s a doozie.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): No apocalyptic novels for you, only quilting novels and songs about knitting, cooking lessons or a fat stack of gardening manuals, the more pictures, the better. Keep flourishing, Pisces.

Aries (March 21-April 18): Get yourself a ticket to something decadent, especially if it’s free. A comedy spectacular, a dance party, a museum exhibition… they have sports this time of year, don’t they? Post up the ticket stub and start a collection.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): Cute-boy Taurus-spondent Elliott D. Smith says “We are nothing more than playgrounds for each other's music,” and I agree. Dance like a merry-go-round, like it’s almost your turn on the swings.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): Imagine all of the millions of circumstances that had to conspire so that there could be a you. How can this be? Aren’t you proud of it?

Cancer (June 22-July 23): Watch the perplexingly riveting documentary (?) Exit Through the Gift Shop, in which we see a filmmaker (?) forsake his genius footage in favor of an art show/prank full of sickening junk. (At least I think that’s what we see.) Don’t give up your footage for someone else’s genius—make whatever you’re compelled to make.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Vitriol’s second definition: “Any of various sulfates of metals, such as ferrous sulfate (green vitriol), zinc sulfate, or copper sulfate (blue vitriol).” Find pictures of those and meditate on kindness.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Watching Jon Stewart’s standup in my Dad’s apartment back in the Nineties, I never would’ve guessed what a reluctant leader/lightning field he was destined to become. You just never can tell about anybody.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Please take a listen to the Judge John Hodgeman podcast. It’s like The Marriage Ref, but with Skype and other kinds of disputes. (Is a machine gun a robot?) Sometimes Elna Baker is Guest Bailiff!

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): In the Winter, whenever my wife works late, I like to turn on Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals for company. That’s a little sad, but I’ve learned so many things you can do with nutmeg! Also Rachel Ray is one of the most brilliantly absurd yammerers ever. Yesterday I heard her say this: “Hello, Mr. Honey Bear!”

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Your wishes will all come true through the magic of logistics—make your list of calls, print out the maps, check the bus lines. Jingle your pockets full of tokens and go.

Friday Love Poems: Warren Longmire!

Don't forget to submit!


You possess a spectrum of moans i've discovered, a flutter of wants in each forced twist of your forehead. What is your range, ms?

what memory in that cut of your breathe? The duck-like excursion of your face as it cranes toward my chest, was that a discovery? a nerve ending finding a new purpose?

we are stripped, bony and have i replaced a bad memory? A humiliation begins to dance like a dirty joke and you giggle like hyenas. so i can't even guess. but I do know you forgot to close the blinds last night. Didn't mind if the names echoed. left a winter coat scattered like an oil slick barely past the houses' entrance. we are newly nude and painful aware sinners sure, casual animal cloying cute a few fucks ago but look how we've grown. now i hear a chorus caught in half-mumbled curse words. you found sustenance in that dark semi-circle of mouth-marks on my neck and am only half-asking, what shade of flushed red throat is too much? i want to talk like having tea while skydiving but this does not seem like the time for questions of height. how was your day? you ask, as something dark is locked into place. a bead of sweat and a stained conversational ok, i don't mind, lets try it.

They live by the night

I once ate whole throatfuls of ice cream
and you are the closest I've come to a sunset since.

This is a cold place, sure sweetie and
countertops back when weren't always slate-covered but

This is some kismet kind of velvet sheet we are wrapped in here and I see red lights worth running every time you breathe yes.

There's a boutique of green in our pockets. No nightstick can stand to that slick little bop in your stride.

I still remember jumping into water like glass. Close your lids and I swear I fade night right along with you so yes baby.

Anything this dark must be chocolate.

Turn at the next right and tell me what key to lock into place.

There is no one living like this in the county. Let's point this story towards anything that makes you say I do.

Born and raised in North Philadelphia, Warren L. has been a consistent member of the Philadelphia Poetry scene for nearly a decade. As one of the founding members of University of Pennsylvania's Excelano Project, Warren has gone on to the final stage twice in the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational, and represented his home city once as part of the annual NPS. He has preformed theatrically in shows including The Dutchman, Trojan women, and Reunion. He has hosted several open mics and currently mcs for the Mosaic at the A-Space and the Storytellers' Reading series. He has been published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pax Americana, Mad Poets:San Francisco, The Fuze Anthology, the 16th and Mission review and his own chapbook "Ripped Winters." When not writing, which is far to often, he can be found building interactive dohickeys in flash for money and pleasure, reading short story anothogies, cooking and wandering the streets a bit dazed looking and somewhat lost. Rest assured Warren Longmire is within a 3 block radius of his destination if you find him on your own street corner in such a state. Warren Longmire is definitely not ignoring you and enjoys earl grey tea (hot!) and would very much like to share some with you if only you would snap him out of his fogginess and say "What's Up Stranger!." If only...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Women as Dirt?

Has anyone else noticed that cleaning commercials keep getting more and more like humilation fetish videos? (Which I only know about from an article in Bitch a few years back.)

First there were those furniture polish ones where the ladies kept getting locked in a plexiglass box and told they couldn't come out until they dusted.

And now women are being portrayed as actual mud and dirt, Sex and the City style characters who sit around and wait to be mopped up.

It's not just women, either. Over on a cold medicine commercial there's a perfectly nice-seeming young man playing the character of Mucus.

Everyone knows that advertising is supposed to make us hate ourselves so we'll buy more stuff, but do we really hate ourselves this much?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Motivated Part 3: The Apocalypse and Me

"How strange it is to be anything at all." -Neutral Milk Hotel

Over the weekend, I read Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, which is gorgeous, insightful, gut-excavating satire. I recommend it, but only if you can spare day or so’s recovery time afterwards- it’s hard to bounce back from.


Reading the fictional but plausible end of America In SSTLS made me think of my ongoing personal relationship with the end of the world. When I was a little kid in the Eighties, the Cold War was still going on and I was well versed in the principles of mutually assured destruction. Between 60 Minutes, commercials for The Day After, and doom-obsessed Eighties episodes of The Twilight Zone, I was full of fiery images and ready to pack it in at a moment’s notice.

When I was ten or so, I had a little red calico diary. I only remember one entry from it: “Last night I dreamed that the bomb was dropped. I went outside on the porch, and I breathed in the burning in the air.” The next paragraph begins, (With a sign, it seems.):

“And now back to my own small life.”

And that was the exactly right thing to do. My exaggerated sense of near-demise is, I think, what made me grow up so much in love with the world and with humans in particular. In the face of insurmountable whatever, your point of view is really all you have.

Here’s why I think expressing yourself is as important as whatever apocalypse is happening at the moment:

Being a particular human being on Earth seems to be a strange and unlikely miracle.I remember an Astronomy class at SU in which the professor broke down all of the planetary circumstances that had to align in order to create life at all, let alone humans, let alone Buffy episodes. I had a sense of that when I was little; in addition to laying awake counting the number of New Years Eves I have left, I used to think about how lucky and impossible it was to have been born, in this time, in this country, a girl who likes kittens, with a nice sister, etc. Think of all of the millions and billions of circumstances that had to conspire to place any of us here.

That’s why I think you are a miracle, and anything beautiful you say or make or DO is a miracle. That’s why I’ll always champion ANYONE’S unique point of view, not a genre, not a style, not ambition or fame, just the one and only example of you that will ever exist. I tell that to kids all the time, but I think grown-ups need to hear it, too.

Here is a Picture of Vitriol

How to Make a 3-D Snowflake

My friend Bonnie directed me to this pretty. I'm usually against sad Christmas songs, (And Christmas songs after 12/24!) but this one is pretty funny.

Monday, January 10, 2011

How to Stay Motivated, Part 2: Vonnegut's Advice

Kurt Vonnegut said "We were put here on earth to fart around and don't let anyone tell you any different." He was extolling the virtues of a writerly trip to the post office, but I think it applies to anything.

Any time you're following a curiosity, (even if, I hope, it's by rewatching Ally McBeal or Googling phrases that include the word "Kittens," )you're collecting up some stuff for your art. So you don't have to worry about being motivated, per se.

Just as long as you sometimes make some stuff.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Love Poems: Tara Betts!

Happy birthday, Tara Betts, one of my favorite poets/pals/mentors. I feel so fancy putting these up.

Don’t forget,y’all, I’m always taking submissions!

A Hushed Ache

Love holds beginning
hair above his lip or fleecy
nubs trapped between his
scalp and your fingers.
The slow seep of his whisper
draws that kiss—two words
into a wavery line releasing
an ache, saxophone riff.

This love smelled young,
peppermint anticipation,
cocoa butter and cherry cola
lip gloss true to taste, brushing
its linger across necks, heavier
than hormone-laden fist, sweeter
than cornbread sugar in long kisses,

more than that cruel club lobbed
at his shadow skin leveled to dirt,
spot, nothing, but no one could say
this was too dark, less than
anvil meeting hammer sparks.

You talk nearly 20 years later,
knowing your friendship was
more than flutter, not just
biker shorts and pinning him
to your mother’s basement stairs
before she wakes and you don’t care.

The old ache surpassed the surplus
of a decade. You both joke about half-
relationships and backup marriage plans
when he pauses on the phone line.
He says she’s pregnant
and a wide silence opens.

Spin Cycle

Love tumbles us through mundane life,
a rolling cylinder, we dive
into the dirty clothes we wash.
The scent of soap cuts clean across
daily bores of husband and wife—
a cotton kiss on pillows rife
with surprise in a rigid hive.
The wash, dry, fold, so far from posh.
Love tumbles us
into breaking, spinning alive
in cycles that turn us in strife,
foggy suds that leave us awash.
Each feeling we coddled and tossed
settles, fresh snap as you arrive
love tumbles us.

Originally appeared on

My Man
for R.V.

black tides rising above his brow
eyes sepia as stained cathedral glass
birthmark bop across right cheek
the tender salmon of his slim lips
warmed with twin blade thought
cutting two languages
mouth, a cavern of crowing laughter
brown bear shoulders
easy chair chest upholstered
with two buttons
dark curls & tumescent halleullah
at his hips, shelf of ass on its own axis
his glazed ham treetrunk legs
curved span of his steadfast paws
nude musical in my jagged moments
clawed first to replace the unwieldy
shield I cringe behind,
My osito in skin of my friend,
my man, my man…

Tara Betts is the author of Arc & Hue (Aquarius Press/Willow Books, 2009). She is a fellow of the Cave Canem and VONA workshops. Tara teaches creative writing at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Her writing has appeared in several anthologies, journals, theater productions, including Essence, Bum Rush the Page, both Spoken Word Revolution anthologies, and HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam.” She is working on her second collection and an anthology of Bop poems with Afaa M. Weaver, among other projects.

Poetic License Horoscope for January 7-13

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Inventory your coffee cups. Count house cleanings like a year-long Advent calendar. Evaluate the necessity of every scarf, hat, and necklace. Visit your local thrift stores like a January Santa.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Declare all 2010 complaints complete. Unsubscribe to your grudges, put salve on your scars. Be ready for more loves and more exquisite disappointments.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): One word of advice for you this week: Pillows.

Aries (March 21-April 18): In the words of Hafiz:
All your worry
Has proved such an
Find a better

Taurus (April 19-May 18): The Maven of Emotional Awesome, Jen “Flash” Andrews of Too Beautiful to Live has the most lovable New Year’s Resolution: Give yourself and others a break. Don’t lay awake worrying about spilt words or misspent kitchen table diatribes.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): I spent New Year’s Eve at my Aunt Patti’s house getting pretty drunk with my brother and my cousins and my cousins’ friends. I played my first game of Flip Cup (with chardonnay!) at 36. I wasn’t good at it. Do something rewardingly foolish—let yourself off the leash a little.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): Take a break. Everything doesn’t have to be written today, even if it seems that way. To paraphrase LCD Soundsystem’s spoken word/workout tune Pow Pow Pow: (No need to keep) “Coming back, coming back, coming back
Until there's nothing left in the well. Is that what they call it, the well?”

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): My lovely Leo wife has decided to split the year into 52 mini-projects, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with. What can you make in a week? Is it beautiful?

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): I spent a pretty big chunk of my Christmas vacation watching episodes of Ally McBeal. It’s so romantic; it’s like the How I Met Your Mother of its time. Walk home from work in soft focus, with dreamy/feminist Nineties music for your guide.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Irony is so last year. See how much sincerity you can get away with.
Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Bring last year’s photos into the physical realm. Frame something optimistic. Spread all the pictures out like Tarot cards and read the future—you’ll like what you see.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Leave all of your self help books on someone else’s doorstep, like so many paperback orphans. It turns out you’re perfect.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How to Stay Motivated, Part 1

My friend Lori asked me how I stay motivated, and I realized that I do have quite a lot of inspiration-scaffolding up around here. And some of it is admittedly similar to what I would've done at twelve.

This is as good a place to start as any:

I like to do this at the beginning of each year: Get a bunch of optimistic lady-magazines (I like O, Martha Stewart, Glamour,Real Simple) and a poster board. Cut out any pictures and words that you like, with no particular rhyme or reason. It's best if you do all the cutting and gluing in one sitting. Put it somewhere you can see it often.

New Year's Mix Playlist

I Can Change: LCD Soundsystem
Tightrope: Janelle Monae
Wake Up: Arcade Fire
Crash Years: The New Pornographers
How I Got Over: The Roots
We Used to Be Friends: The Dandy Warhols
We Used to Wait: Arcade Fire
Hands in the Air: Girl Talk
I Can’t Stand the Rain: Ann Peebles
Dear God 2.0: The Roots feat. Monsters of Folk
Home: LCD Soundsystem
Don’t Look Back: She and Him
Have a Heart: Sleigh Bells
Use It: The New Pornographers
You Are Not Alone: Mavis Staples
Halo/Walking on Sunshine: Glee Cast

Song/Meme of the Week: Go, Sincerity, Go!

I've been joking lately that irony is dead, but of course it isn't--nor would I want it to be. Without irony we'd all get treacle-toothaches and we couldn't listen to Girl Talk.

This word-usage Ngram DOES suggest that sincerity is about to OVERTAKE irony. Good news for me.

Given that one of the biggest memes of last year so thoroughly and creepily divorced words from their meanings, it's encouraging to start off the year with something as lovable and genuine as this:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

52 Projects in 52 Weeks! Go Amy!

Two of my favorite things: someone trying a year of something+ Amy! She's doing 52 art projects this year. You can follow her progress here.
I like how she named her blog after something we totally don't need but always want.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

Review in decomP

A million thanks to Spencer Dew and the rest of the decomP staff. This review makes me feel like I'm reaching some of my secret writing dreams/ambitions.

January Resolutions/10 Minutes of Fireworks

1. Branch out!

I tend to fixate on one person/album/goal, but I know I’m always happier when I’m expanding my proverbial horizons.

2. Practice trust.

I have no idea how to put this one into practice, but it’s the theme at church this month, so that should help.

3. Get pretty drunk sometimes.

Sounds like a recipe for troublemaking, but it’s really just a way to say: let myself off the (very short) leash every once in a while.

4. Bring some of the 2010 photos into the physical world.

5. Schedule and study for the GRE.

Here are some motivational fireworks.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Have you ever seen a more optimistic picture?! (It's by my sister, Katie Carter, awesome photographer.)

This year's theme:

Submit, Query, Apply for Stuff! SQUAFS!