Monday, May 31, 2010

Still reading and taking notes from The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Workbook and writing down affirmations for myself. Will see if this works in regards to being more positive about oneself and others. The key is zen like, to be in the moment and stay in that moment without judgment. We/I tend to make judgments about myself or others which can lead to overwhelming emotions.

I wrote 5 poems the other day. My envy of people with positions and summers off lessens when I write because I realize working these hours at 7-11 is getting me out meeting a public I really don't see in academic circles, the working poor.

Well, that's not entirely true in that I'm exhausted and do wish for a less stressful, less physically exhausting position. We'll see what happens. But the position I'm in, lowly clerk, has its odd advantages in terms of writing.

Some of the affirmations and coping strategies listed are as follows from the DBT book:

This is an opportunity for me to learn how to cope with my fears.
I love myself.
I radically accept myself.
I can think different thoughts if I want to.
I'm good and nobody's perfect.
Judgments can trigger overwhelming emotions and lead to disappointment and suffering.
I'm good and nobody's perfect.
This too shall pass.

I have these posted all over the apartment.


"He who realizes the Essence of Mind within himself
Knows that the 'True Mind' is to be sought apart from phenomena
Where is Reality to be found, when all phenomena are unreal?"

The Sutra of Hui Neng--

From 365 Buddha. Jeff Schmidt. Tarcher Putman. 2002.

That said, is hunger mere phenomena? I don't know. It seems that's pretty real, yet our thoughts, these things are phenomena, right? I don't know enough about the quote above, but I find it quite compelling. Our thoughts are indeed mirages. One of the other affirmations/coping quotes I have is:

I can think different thoughts if I want to.

Sometimes I don't want to think differently though. I want to stay stuck for some reason in judgment. I wonder what the root of such judgment is, and I mean judgment of ourselves as well as others. How do we overcome such judgments? Everything according to these books says the key is to practice mindful meditation, and let me tell you, it's not so easy if you have ADHD. But it can be done I think. People can change.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

"To Psychoanalysis" by Kenneth Koch

Oh, I'm in a better mood today, but I'm still exhausted most days from work. I miss going to coffee shops and having a little cash. I miss it, but it is easily within my grasp now that I'm scheduled to work more hours. Ugh. The price we pay.

I miss playing music videos here. Don't get me wrong, I like poetry, but it is often so serious, so painful, so full of recovery and self-loathing, and hard lessons, parables and shadows and sudden bursts of sunlight. I love it. I hate it.

So it's time to try writing a bit tonight. I haven't made it to the gym since I started this job since I'm so exhausted when I get off, especially if I go in at 6a.m. to 2 p.m.. I just don't have the spunk and pep I did when I was younger. But I'm hanging in there with the young ones. I need to get to the gym tomorrow since I work 2-10.

I'm trying very hard to be a better person. It's quite difficult.


Mountain Dwelling

Things of the past are already long gone
and things to be, distant beyond imagining.
The Tao is just this moment, these words:
plum blossoms fallen; gardenia just opening.

Ch'ing Kung (d. 1352)

from ZEN INSPIRATIONS: Essential Meditations and Texts. Duncan Beard Publishers. London. 2004.

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Fresh Air" by Kenneth Koch

I was surprised to find this poem up at the Poetry Foundation of all places.

I am still working at a convenience store which shall remain unnamed in this post. It really sucks. But as the doctor says, "we all have to do what we have to do."

But I should be thankful. The economy is terrible. Yesterday I waited in line at the Colorado Workforce Center next to a mechanical engineer who can't find work. I'm sending my cv to a second local community college. I am also applying to high schools and middle schools in Texas and Colorado, but I need to take a test in CO which costs a hundred bucks. This said, I'm not sure if I will be able to attend Canto Mundo. It's going to be a VERY long summer, but that said, the mountains are beautiful and even in the recent heat the leaves on the trees and the light of the sun remind me I am alive and breathing and that there's beauty everywhere.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's been a long day. My leg is a mess. I want to write a story now about a very unhappy person who owns something valuable, something most of us could never imagining purchasing. Perhaps she inherited a lot of money; maybe she was just using money from a trust fund; maybe worse, she took out some kind of loan to purchase this business, but the point is she is dying inside and terribly lonely and wears this, all of it, not in weariness, but in a perpetual nervous state of agitation. She snaps and yells and her lips purse and her cheeks puff before it seems she'll blow the entire neighborhood down. It's the same nervous agitation a middle-aged fairly successful writer had before he hung himself in his garage. She has a shadow of a slight beard, which makes things worse for her, not the writer, but the business owner.

I could imagine her dialogue very clearly, so clearly the words are imprinted in my mind. I just have to find the time to write down the story even though I don't know how it begins or ends or even how it climaxes and resolves or never resolves itself.

I can imagine the tension in the story. It's the color of white-washed walls, the color of bleach. It's the kind of tension you get when your muscles ache.


I still haven't written the review. Nobody really cares but me and perhaps the writer who surely doesn't read this blog as few do, but I sense I'll write it this week before the Monday morning deadline. Let's hope so.


One of my favorite writers is Johnathan Franzen. I've only read his essays, but I love them. I picked up this book called THE DISCOMFORT ZONE for a dollar at the dollar store by him. Pretty cool.

I am still reading John Ashbery and astounded. It's the kind of astonishment that comes rarely to me when I read something. He's very good! I find his work very, very, very different and sense he is of a higher socio-economic class even though he says or said his work is rooted in American colloquialisms or "American". Well, it's certainly not the kind of colloquialism I was raised with on the U.S./Mexico border. I wonder if a lot of people jump on the Ashbery bandwagon for other reasons. I mean of course his language is one reason, but there's something else there, a sense of irony, a sense of disgust, and of course the humor. I'd be curious to know why specifically people like him. I love the poems in Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror.
I went to grad school with a real a-hole. I mean this guy thought he was God's gift to poetry. Ugh. Well I hear nothing now from him or about him. In any case he'd done time, literal time and when he told me about this book, I thought he was saying "Portrait in a Convict's Mirror." Ha!

Oh well.

You know, I didn't go to Iowa so I can't write! It's true!


Have a most excellent evening.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Headed to the library to return some books. It seems that there is always little time to make time for the book review I am writing, along with my own writing. We want to have a balanced life, yet it seems difficult to allow time for such things if we want to have a social life, a healthy and dynamic support circle and yet I feel I will get it done today despite a group meeting I want to attend this evening.

Maceo Montoya's book is difficult to write on because it is different. How so? It is less descriptive than most contemporary novels I've read but tons more funny. The humor and irony help move the story along. I need to get this done as well as a cover letter for a part-time job.


Now as for poetry, I need to make my 30 minutes today somehow. I think now is a good time.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

I am cold this morning again with the fans on but the house will be cool this afternoon when I go to work. I am thinking a lot about dbt and mindfulness as I continue to read and take notes from the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Workbook.

Resistance and hindrances to mindfulness are:

"Desire refers to the wish for things to be different-- right now! This can be a wish for different sense experience (to "feel better" or "feel happy or peaceful," for example_ or to become someone or something different than what you experience yourself as now...

Aversion means having anger or ill will toward what is here. . .

Sleepiness means just that...

Restlessness is the opposite of sleepy. It can be very uncomfortable. It is a "storm" of thoughts, feelings, and sensations that demand movement and are quite distracting.

Doubt is that inner voice that says, "I can't handle this. I don't know how to do it. . . .

Work wisely with hindrances to mindfulness

recall that no matter how many times you get what you desire, you always want more. . .

... recognize anger and ill will as some of your strongest teachers. Resolve to learn from them...balance them by developing thoughts of compassion, kindness, and forgiveness.

...sit up straight, splash water on face, take a break...

...relaxing, breathing, counting your breaths until the restlessness subsides."

...for doubt, especially when your mind is racing everywhere, it can help to concentrate attention in the present moment with some resolve and steadiness.

Finally, remember to take a kind and interested non judging attitude toward the hindrances when they appear. When you can treat them as teachers, not obstacles, they will cease to be hindrances.

p. 113 DBT Workbook


I want to write a poem about Milosz's eyebrows or at least a poem with such eyebrows in it.


I need to write a book review of yes, The Scoundrel and the Optimist by Maceo Montoya this evening after I get off work.


My left leg is hurting very badly from an old knee injury, but I seem to be getting more used to the job and being on my feet.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

I love Milosz's poetry. He seemed a lovely man, a lovely human being. I want to be such a poet!

I finally have a day off work! alleluiah!


Friday, May 21, 2010

I am still reading THE DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOR THERAPY SKILLS WORKBOOK. It is difficult for me to focus too long on one thing. I am good at a lot of things, but I need to work on things one thing at a time. In other words, multi-tasking is very, very difficult for me to do mostly because I am not paying close enough attention. Basically I need to practice mindfulness and focus on what's happening outside me rather than what's going on in my head. I don't know why I get good teaching evals. I got good evals for the classes I recently taught at the community college. I think it's because I find student writing interesting.

The DBT book talks about learning to describe your emotions and identifying the difference between thoughts and emotions. It's a very helpful and good book for people who experience overwhelming emotions, which I think many poets do. So, I am working on being mindfully aware of my emotions. Basically the book talks about "emotion" mind and "wise" mind or "rational" mind. I highly recommend the book if you have difficulty with emotions. For example, I may speak negatively to myself at the cash register and need to control my thoughts and attention rather than get carried away in negative thinking, self-deprecation, anxiety or fear.

Customers at a convenience stores do odd things too, like wanting to buy a single roll of toilet paper with 44 cents cash and the rest on a credit card. Ugh.

Also, the food stamps are a bit odd as people will come in and buy huge amounts of junk food with their Quest card. Kids will ring up a lot of stuff on food stamps and then the card will be a bad card and you have to void each and every thing they were going to buy. Ugh.

Well, I need to go and revise a poem now.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Morning is here with the chill of fans cooling the house down for the later day heat. I am wanting to write again. We try too hard to write well sometimes. "Lower your standards," we tell students, but here I am this morning unhappy with the poem/draft I've written, but the point is that it is written. Yet with a few revisions I am coming to like it/them more. I've written another. And another. Three poems this morning and it feels good.

Why am I writing this? I don't know. I'm tired of projections, tired of mirrors or more so a house of mirrors. I receive disconcerting messages about what I write here sometimes. And yes, there's something perfect about the solitude of early morning writing, although all these fans keep making my coffee cold, but P has his interest in keeping the place cool this afternoon.

I am wanting to post the things I've written here, but lines have been lifted, unconsciously, coincidentally possibly, so I've decided to greedily horde my lines good, bad, or indifferently dull here on my computer which keeps dying and dying, so thank god for google documents. I am going to get them ready to send to journals, all of them. There's a number about abuse and PTSD, a number about mental illness, and others about magic, children and wild uncertainties.

I go to work at 2p.m., so I need to get to the cc and pick up a gift which a student left for me. Better late than never.

It will be a good day. I sense it.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ishmael Reed "Conjure Sky Diving"

..."learn how to fall"...

Today is the last day working with Writers in the Schools. The anthologies turned out fantastic! It is really exciting to see kids see their work in print!

I love talking to kids about poetry! It's the best thing I've ever done to earn some cash!

I love the video above as it is how I am feeling. A high school friend of mine really died skydiving.

I am so far surviving 7-11. I will say surviving. We'll see if I make it.

Someone said to keep the blog pure with poetry. That seems to bore people though. Maybe it's not in my nature to be so involved with poems that nothing else matters. All the biz-buzzing social butterfly antics seem a facade. I am writing a bit though finally and will write more soon. I even have a working printer.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Everyone "is" on facebook!

But there's not much to be said there, everything running down the screen so quickly, so dramatically, all the political anger about the Arizona ban on ethnic studies and forced racial profiling etc. I have ADHD and can only take in so much at a time; my attention span is limited. I am slow in taking in things, as well as dispensing anything. My memory is shot too, but non-the-less, I am here to blog, primarily to myself, since it's more my pace. Writing stuff on the blog in the morning is a habit I guess. A nice slow start. I need to make writing poems a similar habit in the morning. I go to work at 7-11 in two hours. So, I will try to write some poems too, or drafts I mean before I leave. I've already journaled a bit privately. See, I don't put everything here. If I did, I'd be locked away or something.

There's no dialogue here too. So, it's as someone once said to me, we write primarily to be heard. And even if nobody listens, maybe there's something to be said for feeling like one's being listened to, imagining an audience. That's why we write, I think, to be heard and seen, to be less invisible. The best reason I've heard is from Wallace Stevens who said something to the effect that we write to help others live. Maybe those of us who are heavily neurotic write to help ourselves live and in the process inadvertently help others live too.

Back to the blog. It's like when you send poems out and realize the errors, weaknesses, drawbacks and furiously revise and send them out again, only to discover other weaknesses or that you liked it better before the changes. I'd like to post stuff I write here, but it's all drafts and mishaps, and it's like when I read it initially I like it, but when I read it later it's like, "oh god, that really sucks."

I don't know. I've written two drafts of poems the last two days, and sometimes feel like my language is too flat or that I'm trying to say something "important" or "profound" but it's really a confused fog of uncertain meandering. I think sometimes we try to sound like we know something when we don't know anything, or what we "know" is of little help to anyone else, even ourselves. The uselessness of language when we are puffed up or shrinking in fear is on my mind when I say these things.

I've struggled with writing. That said, it's time to do my time with the poetry. I do miss it, but sometimes it feels like one can never get back to where one was, and I think of that aphorism that one can't step in the same river twice. It is of necessity that our work must change in some significant way. And change is, as J liked to say, change is the one thing which we can count on. And "why" do I feel ridiculously middle class or lower middle class when I end a sentence with a preposition or when I say "poetry" the way I do or "poem" with what some up East said was an unusual emphasis on the "e", more like "poim". And why not be proud of such a thing?

Class is always on my mind when I reflect on poetry, but that said, I need to go write something, no matter how bad, I need to engage with language for 30 minutes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I've been journaling quite a bit and read a wonderful little book called THE WORLD IN A PHRASE: A Brief History of the Aphorism. Some of my favorite aphorisms in the book are below:

"The greatest carver does the least cutting". --Lao-Tzu
"To own nothing is the beginning of happiness". --Diogenes

I did manage to write for thirty minutes yesterday and it felt wonderful. One just has to commit to writing, to vow to do it despite a crazy schedule and a crazy life.

I am still blogging though according to the poetry foundation blogging is dead, and of course, my audience is dead too! But that's okay. I really maintain this thing as a way of coping with the draining out of my desire to write, a way to try to stay motivated or get motivated. I hope to get back a spark and think P's idea to write for thirty minutes a day is fantastic. Before I would have never thought such a habit or strict routine would work for the writing of poetry, but I'm left with no option.


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Poetry at Tech: Stephen Dobyns - Part 1

I got a job at 7_11 for now. Oh thank heaven for 7-11.

I hope I can handle it. I take a test for a part time federal job Thursday.

I hope to write soon too.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Bear

A bit longish but worth listening to. Galway kinnell reads "The Bear".

Monday, May 03, 2010

Dagoberto Gilb's in The New Yorker

Dagoberto Gilb is in The New Yorker here.

Here's an interview they did with him.
Galway Kinnell reads Paul Celan

I love this!


Today I will try to apply for another job. Every day I hope to apply to a few jobs now besides the days that I grade final papers. That's the plan. I am hoping to get a teaching job but am applying for some other things as well. C says to let the opportunities tell me where to go, what to do. S used to say that the universe has a way of taking care of things, where as P says, no, things aren't always taken care of, but we must survive them non-the-less. J used to say, nothing stays the same and the one thing we can count on is change. Some of us are pragmatic, logical, reasonable, and others of us have some sense of hope in the large vastness of the universe, but people do suffer, and sometimes people of faith get on my nerves for this reason alone. The belief that one suffers due to a lack of faith is bothersome. But I am in the end a person that has faith that things will turn out okay. They always do. I am the person who seems locked in a room, but there is always at the end, a small window I climb through.


Earth, river, mountain:
snowflakes melt in air.
How could I have doubted?
Where's north? south? east? west?

-- Dengai (c. 1127-1279)


Not last night,
not this morning;
melon flowers bloomed.

--Basho (1664-1694)


In this world of dreams,
drifting off still more;
and once again speaking
and dreaming of dreams.
Just let it be.

-- Ryokan (1757-1831)


In winter
the seven stars
walk upon a crystal forest.

--Soen Nakagawa (1907-1984)


The above koans are from ZEN INSPIRATION by Miriam Levering

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Gertrude Stein

I just applied for a job in sales and marketing. It is very difficult to find anything now a days. The economy is defintely still bad from my perspective.

I just missed the deadline for applying to census jobs and am mad at myself about that. But as P pointed out I have friends and family and will not starve to death.


I worry.

I like this weird poem by Gertrude Stein, and the ending is powerful.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Tim Z. Hernandez has a gift.

P is researching my family tree and it is very interesting! He's very good at it. I am 1/8th Romanian.

I am still applying for jobs and concerned about how to make it through the summer.

Have you seen the movie MILK? It's very good. Here's the trailer.

The film was very moving. We're going to watch MOON tonight.

Happy weekend!