1 Dead in Attic and HBO’s Treme

I came late to understanding post-Katrina New Orleans, because I didn’t visit the city again until last winter. But Chris Rose’s collection of essays “1 Dead in Attic” retains its immediacy. Here was essentially a lifestyle columnist one of the few standing–broadcasting from the belly of the beast. It tells you the power of being a trained observer. And the limits–Rose descends into a breakdown, addiction, and divorce.
The dedication says it all: “This book is dedicated to Thomas Coleman, a retired longshoreman, who died in his attic at 2214 St. Roch Avenue in New Orleans’ 8th Ward on or about August 29, 2005. He had a can of juice ad a bedspread at his side as the waters rose. There were more than a thousand like him.”
Which takes me to “Treme”–the wonderful HBO series. My New Orleans informant who recommended it said–it starts three months after Katrina, or as you can see, it might be three years…” Lacking television, I watched the first series all at once, with its elaborate weaving and back weaving of plot worthy of a nineteenth century novel. There is a lot to like–not to mention the music–but the thing I might have found the hardest to understand is the self-destruction of writer/intellectual Cray. However, having read “1 Dead in Attic” I saw it coming.
Of interest to writers, the book was originally self-published. Of interest to us all, the opening quote from Judy Deck: “If there was no New Orleans, America would just be a bunch of free people dying of boredom.”

Friends and Gazillionaires by Joan Logghe

Friends and Gazillionaires
I know that if you are like me, you are probably sick of hearing about my hijinks and exploits of the Poet Laureate life. Sick of all the wonderful appearances I have been party to, sick of hearing me say I rocked them on the Plaza for the Fourth of July pancake breakfast, sick of my excuse that I have five planets in Leo which I translate as five planets in Ego. I am sick of myself, usually and on a daily basis, but I am also rejoicing. Who is this energetic woman who has now been mistaken for a man not once but twice in a week? Who is this poet who sometimes goes on stage with her skirt tucked in her undies (wear good ones)? And why isn’t she sending work off the major literary magazines? Is it because she is still trying to coax a bloom out of her flowers who have pretty much all given up, except the morning glories? Is it because she is in mourning for the fires that burned the canyons and now the black ash in the Rios which the fish can’t survive? How can she think life is a joy and a poem when all of this has just transpired her neighboring watersheds?

I think I got some of my questions answered this week. My friends and co-conspirators at Tres Chicas Books went to the big city, Albuquerque, for a radio interview on WOmen’s Focus and a reading at Acequia books the following day. I think you can hear the interview with Carol Boss, July 23 at noon for two weeks on KUNM.org. Check it out. But even better, check out friendship.

It is truly amazing. I have two friends, RenĂ©e Gregorio and Mirian Sagan, who feature an excellent driver with night vision, and women who are as free with money at restaurants and clothing stores as I am. Both of these qualities are great, but not as amazing as friends who listen to all of my plaints and worries, love me anyhow, and give me advice and perspectives. They have even come to realize that I am almost always right. Que milagro! We had a blast and laughed non stop. I had to come home and recover from laughter. I highly recommend finding friends to support your art, publish your work, and run off to a big city with at least once a year. Friends bring joy and endorphins, I know it. Hint: it’s good to have younger friends. Not to be ageist.

For one weekend I needed to forget about the US Budget which is ridiculous and any of us could solve in a heartbeat if not for greed. Do you know that greed causes the same bio chemistry as addiction? Do you hear one single gazillionaire say, “Let’s experiment with altruism. Let’s share. Let’s just kick some green ass with our financial clout? Let’s end a few wars, divvy up the profits, look at taxes as a privilege of our success.” You blog readers know by now that I am an altruistic Scrabble player, and I am watching my husband, who is an altruistic carpenter, and has helped about five people move this month. This includes storing or adopting various things, from a full sized loom to two miniature horses. We have wandering Jews and two Crown of Thorns (altruistic and ecumenical), aloe vera galore, bougainvillea, A combo wine rack.plant stand, a large painting of a woman with two sabertooth tigers which takes up our entire guest room, a Maori mask which hangs over the TV and makes the news look cheerful by contrast, and a Norfolk Island pine which obviously never heard about what happened to our last two Norfolk Island pines.

Anyhow, I hope my second and finale year as Poet Laureate, not to keep dwelling on how cool and groovy it is, I hope this year is of use to people, that we get gentle rains, that my poetry isn’t all way too occasional and derivative, and that we are still friends at the end. I have over 500 Facebook Friends, but they have never driven at night with me or heard my stories more than five times. This is the week of my 40th Anniversary. I think our marriage has a fair amount of altruism, screw Ayn Rand. I hope living a life in poetry has purpose and increases endorphins. Viva la PL, even if it happens to be, just briefly and fleetingly, me.

And finally, we have ten days guys for the budget, get it ungreedily unstuck, get it TOGETHER!!

Check out Joanie’s blog at http://thepoemdifferent.blogspot.com/

What The Water Took: 7 Torahs And A Piano by Miriam Sagan

What The Water Took: 7 Torahs And A Piano

torah of morning
of noon
of dusk
of midnight
of moonrise
of daytime gibbous moon
flood water

torah of terror
of anarchy
of forgiveness
fire in the water
a dog
a child
bent street signs

torah which unrolls
the story of Noah
an ark
a dove
a raven
streets as rivers
leviathan

a house
your house
a house
caught in a tree
the army corps of engineers
a pumping station
a levee

torah of glass bottles
dangling blue glass hands
a message
SOS
hope
despair
a twisted menorah

torah of brass bands
coronets and horns
twisted shofar
blowing not air
but water
clarinet set with rubies now mute
torah of the broken flute

torah of Jacob
wrestling with the angel
who cheats to win
God’s lie, the rainbow sign
(no more water
the fire next time)
words float away

and the piano of glass
of sand, strings plucked
by fish
how the water took even
our idea of land
and in drowned sleep
spirit moved on the face of this deep.


Photograph by Helen Exner

I Love these charming haiku comic strips by Jessica Tremblay

The current issue of Frogpond just arrived, choke full of terrific haiku and haibun, but the thing I’ve started to look forward to the most in this magazine from the Haiku Society of America are the comic strips.Check out the artist’s website–http://oldpond.voila.net for the adventures of haiku master Basho and…a frog.

It’s Been So Hot I’ve Been Reading About Himalayan Disasters

The rain seems to finally be here in Santa Fe, but it has been so hot that I’ve been sitting in the one room with AC reading ONE MOUNTAIN THOUSAND SUMMITS by Freddie Wilkinson, an account of a climbing disaster on K2.This mountain is so difficult and ferocious that it doesn’t even have a name, but like a gangster goes by a moniker. The world’s second highest mountain killed eleven climbers in 2008. Why do I care? I’ve never climbed anything more arduous than crawling out on a fire escape to drink a glass of wine and watch the sunset.
For years I’ve loved accounts of extremis–particularly when my emotional life was difficult. Who dies? Who survives? And why? This book doesn’t really answer these questions. Accounts of survivors are confused and contradictory–typical not just of emergencies but of hypoxia.
Wilkinson says–“History is written by the victors–in mountaineering, it might be said that history is written by the white man with the satellite phone.” The author attempts to rectify this by also focusing on Sherpas–some climbing for pay, some as professional climbers–and the confusion of culture clash that has always marked Himalayan expeditions. This book is not Jon Krakauer’s INTO THIN AIR which by the grace of his writing makes a mythic subject matter somehow even bigger. But it was thrilling in its own way–and very cooling.