Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sometimes the last day is a long day, but when the long day is over, it is so choice.

Not to brag or anything, but my day started at a ridiculous 'jet lag is calling, hello!' hour of the morning and did not end until I was in my car at well after 9 p.m., driving home with french fries and a soda that somehow had fizz but no sweet. It was long, is all, and it also involved the following:
  • a trip to the dentist
  • panic in the face of a stack of not-yet-commented-upon student poems
  • resignation in the face of same
  • a printing project that is so beautiful and yet in the moment was inky and logistical and crowded
  • a gift from friends that was truly touching
  • a reading of the Poem-A-Day crowd poems
  • the writing of 2.5 reports
  • attending the transplendent chapbook launch
  • consulting with one two three four five six students from seven to nine p.m., online yet in my office, because whoops, failure to adequately plan. Although students one and five did not, in fact, show. Booooo.
It was long, is all, and yet. AND YET. It is the last of the truly long days for quite a while. And although I am tired all over my whole being, I can see the possibilities of rest and calm and, well, grading, but also time to breathe. 

And also, that printing project? It is going to be amazing:

student poems, broadsided, plus mono prints

can you believe it?


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

This is just to say

that I'm so tired, and I gave in to a mid-evening nap which I am sure I shall regret. I have done some grading. Not all the grading I have to do, but some. I have written my poem. The Bruiser is in despair that he will not have his walk, but he is wrong. He will have his walk. And then I will go to bed. (I was going to do an echo there of I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, but it was too hard. I've given you the raw materials--go ahead if you're inclined.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I'm at sixty percent. Well, maybe fifty five.

My plan, when I went to Ireland, was that I could justify going only if I promised myself that

(a) I would be so, so super prepared so that when I left, there would be no stone left unturned, no draft left ungraded, and also some stuff about a clean house, and

(b) when I came back, I would be so, so supercharged about getting back to work, being right on things, etc. etc.

I left the house at 7:45 this morning. You know, that part of jet lag when you come back from another country, and you wake up at 4:30 a.m., just for kicks? so you can think about stuff, like what you'll wear and why you can't go back to sleep? I had that. I might as well get up and go, I thought.

Also, this morning I had every intention of grading drafts (the ones that I had left ungraded, so that's how part (a) above went), but although I had this intention, and though I had the hours, I did not grade. No, no, I did not grade. Instead, I talked to people about Ireland. It was way fun.

The result of which was, I went to class and even though I had a plan, sort of, I was not at the top of my game, the people. Not even a little bit near the top. I was at the middle of my game, if that.

So the moral of the story is--kind of a short story for a moral, I know--you cannot beat the jet lag. Jet lag gone getcha. So there's really no use in trying to pretend otherwise.

For instance, I packed workout clothes this morning because, by golly, I thought I would for sure work out after work after flying across a continent and several time zones and an ocean the day before! However, and this will surprise no one, I did NOT feel like working out.

And it wasn't the kind of 'I don't feel like it' that turns into a surprisingly refreshing, 'so glad I did that' work out. No, it was the kind of 'I think I might melt into the floor' kind of 'I don't feel like it.' So I acted on that thought. I went home. I did some laundry and I lay around on the bed.

I won't say it was glorious, but in the end, it seemed appropriate. Somebody's gotta get real around here, and face the facts. The supercharged, super tired facts.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

The internet is not equal all over the world.

The above is not a complaint, it is simply a fact. I tried uploading what were admittedly large photo files, using the internet in a hotel room in Sligo and the internet on an Eireann train from Sligo to Dublin, and no dice, the people. What was meant to be a post filled with beautiful pictures from Drumcliffe is now a bunch of aborted uploads because who has the time, you guys? Especially when there is sleep to be had, or not had, and poems to write, and, you know, neolithic passage tombs to be visited?

So this note is just to say, for anyone who is reading, that I have a thing or two to say about Drumcliffe and Carrowmore, and I will say those things, and with pictures, but not until I get back to the land of the free, home of the brave internet of my workplace and household. For tomorrow, we end our visit to Ireland, which has been glorious and too brief and like a star in how bright and brief it is and was. See you then and there, America. Please have a snack and some different shoes waiting.

xoxoxo htms

here's a poem

Friday, April 24, 2015

On the train to Sligo.

We're listening to the conductor say the names of the stops in their Gaelic pronunciations, before saying them in English, and reminding us not to put our feet on the seats.

 We had a long conversation with a man who's studying law at the university in Maynooth, taking up this enterprise at midlife after the economic downturn a few years ago. He advised us to go to Bundoran, a bit up the coast from Sligo. "Ireland is tiny," he said. "You can go anywhere in the country--leave at 8 in the morning, you're there by ten, spend the whole day, leave at eight at night and you're back where you started from by midnight."

Out the windows, I saw a cemetery bristling with headstones and monument. I saw a field of sheep. I saw blossoming trees. I saw a white cow.

Like train stations everywhere, the concrete and out of the stations are heavily tagged, gorgeous illuminations spraypainted in unreadable signatures. The further away from Dublin we get, the less of this is in evidence. Instead, thickets and brambles of tree and vine.

The fields outside the window are misty.

The conductor seems to be saying "This is the eight hundred hours train to Sligo." Can that be right? 

Nothing from the trolley, thank you. Although the fact of the trolley is lovely.

We're traveling across this tiny country by train. Across a whole country by train, and we'll be at the Atlantic, more or less, by eleven.


Thursday, April 23, 2015


The best possible thing to do is eat a great, restorative meal.
Walk across the Liffey while it's light and after the sun has set.
Collapse like a sack of laundry on your bed, in your clothes, and sleep till midnight, when you will wake, brush your teeth, and collapse again like another sack of laundry, or the same, but not in your clothes, and with clean teeth. Sleep till the early, early hours of morning.
Wake up and write. You're in Dublin.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dans un aéroport européen.


  • when exhausted from a ten hour trans Atlantic flight, and irrationally excited at the prospect of checking one's digital account, do NOT inadvertently set the phone down whilst shouldering one's carryon bags and thereby leave it on the plane.
  • We tried the fasting on the plane, eating when one arrives plan for short circuiting jet lag. We'll see, I guess, the ultimate outcome. Immediate outcome: very hungry upon arrival. Did not sleep on the plane. At least not to speak of.
  • RE Only Lovers Left Alive: these vampires are maybe the most cultured, well-read vampires of all vampire-dom. Possibly a little insufferable, but maybe only a little. Tilda Swinton looks swell with a great pile of doubtfully clean blond hair. All of this is based on having watched precisely half of the movie. 
  • On the other hand, a great swath of Brooklyn 99 episodes did not go amiss.
  • Hating airplane outfit. Possibly because I have been wearing it for 21 hours.
  • Doubting advisability of this trip. Possibly because I am hating my airplane outfit and we are not yet in Dublin and (never underestimate this) I have not slept to speak of in quite some time. And I am still a little hungry.
  • HOWEVER. Europe, even an airport. 
  • One more thing: seriously, no croissants on this concourse. Nary a croissant. The people cry out for justice!
Poem, written on a plane.

Monday, April 20, 2015

I would just like to share with you and everyone

that I have reached, perhaps, peak sleep dissatisfaction.

I would like to say this, but in the act of writing it--of coming up with the noun dissatisfaction--I basically disproved the claim at the very moment in which I was stating it. So that's a nonstarter.

Other nonstarters of the evening:

1. I planned to vacuum my study tonight. Nope.

2. The fancy outfit I had planned, written on a post it note, to wear to my fancy event? Nope. So I exchanged the planned

  • black velveteen trousers and a 
  • black silk shirt and my 
  • dragon necklace and 
  • black suede boots and 
  • some sort of black jacket 
for the new and improved (wait for it)

  • black velvet skirt and 
  • a black v-neck sweater and a 
  • different necklace and 
  • black suede boots with 
  • tights* and a 
  • black cardigan. 

Sort of the same, I guess, but I really hated the black jackets I came up with for planned and rejected Outfit 1. One after another: nope. Nope. Nope. Not even. Stupid. No way. All horrible. Outfit killers, those black jackets.

On the other hand: black cardigan (Outfit 2) = perfect.

3. I have graded...well, not everything I need to grade. I am lying to myself about how much I can accomplish between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1 and 2:30 p.m. Loads, is basically what I'm telling myself. Heaps. Grand amounts.

I have books aplenty on my iPad. I hope that there is a good magazine to buy and read at the airport.

I hope that leaning on the historian whilst we are in flight is both comforting and comfortable. I really, really hope this.

I hope that the music on my iPod is dramatically satisfying and soothing.

Have I done all I can do? Just about, and that is the truth.

I even wrote this poem. (Actually, I discovered it almost fully written in my notes. That's why note keeping is for #winners.)

*I have already stopped wearing tights for the year, and I have rather strict rules about this (once you have bare legs, no more tights, and conversely, once you wear tights, no more bare legs). HOWEVER: I will be in Europe, so all bets are off.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Panicky, just a little.

This morning I woke up before eight. Not that early, according to the early to rise hegemonauts, but freaking early for a day in which I planned to wake up when I woke up, i.e, after eight. Too much to ask? Apparently, since I was thinking about the following:

  • where will we eat in Dublin? This must obviously be planned.
  • poem for my writing group.
  • too many things on my list, will never ever ever get them all done before we go.
  • laundry.
  • dinner this evening.
--so many things that I sprang as if sprung directly from my bed, into my clothes and onto the tasks of the day. (see above.)

Well, it's been a fine day. Beautiful, am I right? Full of good works, and I spoke to each and every one of my children about things of consequence, to wit: recovery from surgery, wedding planning, will we have breakfast tomorrow?, would you like to consume my leftover carnitas?, is Whiplash a good/execrable movie?, what will we do when we go to Scotland? and so on.

I now have a Google map with saved locations on it, AND I synched up my mobile Google maps with my non-mobile (?) ones, so I can have access to these starred locations when we are waltzing (I'm assuming) about Dublin and then Sligo.

The GRADING is still not finished. Shall I take the optimistic posture? I've made progress! (Alternately: not enough progress, doom despair human sacrifice dogs and cats living together mass hysteria!)

Well, anyway, at least I'm up to date on my poems, so that's something. 

( zzz ) < I just about apologized for the quality of my poems. But I am resisting that pointless gesture. That's a little something I like to call progress, bitches.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


I went down to Blick to check out everything, and also to buy grommets and suede lacing for a class book project I'm working on/dreaming up. Which, if I had done my homework, I would have realized two things:

  • Blick gots no grommets, and
  • Blick gots no suede lacing.
Of course it doesn't. It's not a store for whack on-the-fly designed book projects that call for whatnots and craft doodads. 

So instead, I wandered the tidy and evocative aisles and bought the following:
  • my own Lino Cutter set
  • Ready-Cut plate, that I will use my Lino Cutter on to make things to print with
  • a Strathmore Toned Gray notebook, which is just as it sounds, a 112 page sketchbook with gray paper
  • two super soft pencils
  • one inky Uniball micro pen
  • several tiny packs of artist trading cards--blanks, so you make your own cards that you can trade with, you know, artists
  • one packet of impossible adorable and elegant envelopes for said artist trading cards
and the piece de resistance,
  • printable tattoo paper.
That's right, people: SLCC Publication Center temporary tattoos are going to happen. They are on their way!

All these things are a promise to myself that I will use them when this semester is over. Which it's going to be. That's the thing: no matter what, the semester is going to be over. And then there will be temporary tattoos OH YES there will be temporary tattoos.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Afternoon with Deacon & Gwen.

Today, I went to my daughter's house to be with the two children while she went to the hospital for a procedure.
A video posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

A video posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

A photo posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

I had a great time. Gwen and I decided to have Hello Kitty temporary tattoos. Well, actually, I brought them--they were leftover from Valentine's day. I recorded the above for, you know, posterity.

I worried a little about my daughter, although everything went fine. On the way home, I let myself cry a little because, you know, you wish only happiness and health forever for your children, and these things are not always--ever, really--totally in your hands. Or in your hands at all.

Well, this is something to cry about forever. So I did, and then the historian and I went and got Thai food and now I have written this blog post, and this poem. I hope to sleep until I wake up (recurrent Friday wish) and to get a pile of grading done tomorrow. And see a movie, because, you know, the weekend. And movies. They go together.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Megastore recommends.

1. A double-triple-quadruple schedule. It's true, I have a day by day text doc that I keep a running
'gotta do' list; a Word doc that I have devised to be a calendar of the last five weeks of the semester (I always do this); the calendar in Outlook that is, like, a really mean and exacting god; and various Post Its that tell me the status of discrete projects (like my grading--that is a really, really, really full Post It).

This is absurd. But somehow, it makes me feel slightly more on top of my game. My game is Crush the Captain, and it would be a terrifying game if I were actually Captain of my, you know, LIFE.

I love you so much, V.
2. Vegetables. Oh vegetables! You are soulful, mute magic. When I am feeling tired and worn out and beset and begrudging, a dinner made principally of you will save me from nearly everything. Thank you for your variousness. Thank you for being from Brussels and also from my freezer, in the form of not very recent corn. With rice and sautéed mushrooms, I felt like my home was the best place, and my dinner table the best place in my home. Vegetables, you complete me.
like a knife with superior engineering.

3. A well-attuned tool. I have recently pulled my mandoline out from its tidy cupboard, the better to make very thinly sliced carrots and peppers and fennel for a salad. The people, the mandoline is superb. The mandoline has totally upped my salad game. Thinly sliced everything makes a salad feel sexy and thrilling. I'm so glad I bought my mandoline however many years ago, because now that I have rediscovered it, and I'm eating all the thrilling salads, I kind of feel like a genius prognosticator of this precise moment, when my brain realized that, in the future, I would be in a condition that requires salad, suave, shaved salads,
and would therefore require the proper tool to make them.

poor burden-head.

4. Sleep. Not that I'm getting any or anything.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

In seven days I will be flying.

Here are things that must be done before I go to Ireland:

1. spiffing up some curriculum
2. unfathomable extents of grading
3. a bit of writing

That list doesn't sound so bad, except for the 'unfathomable extents' portion. It has dimension, depth, and incompletion. The grading is the big silent accusatory hulk in the corner of my preparations to leave.

"Don't worry about finishing things," a friend advised me, when I said I was worried about finishing things before I left. "Just don't."

Okay. I think I'll do that.

But in the meantime, while I should be grading,  I have also

  • made reservations for hotels in Dublin and Sligo
  • begun well-embroidered dreaming about what we might do whilst there:

Garavogue River, in Sligo Town

Sligo Abbey

on inishmurray island
inishmurray island

toward inishmurray island

And that's really better, honestly, than freaking out about the things I have to do on my short and yet nonetheless daunting list.

Ergo, a poem.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Thinking about work.

Several points:

1. It's a lot easier to make lists of, analyze the lists of, plan to conquer the items on the lists of work that needs to be done.

2. You can say you're going to grade whilst waiting for students to show up for possible, theoretical, hypothetical appointments. But you might instead spruce up the new interface you have because of your recently updated OS, and that is way, way shinier than catching up on grading.

3. That curriculum thing--striking out the old stuff, putting the new stuff in a different color? So. Tedious.

4. Also my feet hurt.

5. Also my eyes.

6. Who's kidding whom? I ask you.

7. I've seriously just had the thought: I know I'm not going to get enough sleep already, so then, what's the point?

8. I need to get started on that not-enough-sleep stat.

Here's today's poem, in conclusion.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

ut pictura poesis.

mesopotamian pottery incantation bowl,
circa 7th c.


the words spin round the bowl, a spiral curse:
an incantation written for one house,
a text to save the house from idol, wrack,
a demon’s evil eye:    upon a plinth
it rests, the people it was meant to save
from harm now dust themselves, but it achieves

a silent chime, the same I hear from far 
away, inscribed in Farsi on canvas
brushed in black ink:  gesture involuted,
echoic, nested close enough that each
repeated Sufi verse becomes a patch,
a bit of fabric stitching up a text

or map:    a world made out of words, except
this spell is called a prayer:  o flimsy script
o dry inkstone   o unfamiliar
o my brush   let inchoate letters make 
of letters, stem and curve and dot, a plea
an orison:   exceeds the edge and fades

into the wall, the paint, whitens to light:

siah armajani, 'prayer' (1962)
at the Walker Art Center

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The end of conferencing.

Tonight, after we ate our fine supper, we were hanging out in front of our fancy farm-to-table restaurant, waiting for a cab back from St. Paul to Minneapolis, over the river and through the woods and what not, and I thought, enough.

Enough big ideas for one several day period. Enough milling around with the thousands. Enough girding one's innards for the gauntlet of the book fair. Enough broadsides and enough literary magazines.

I'm not complaining, I'm just saying: let's call it a day, a week, a year. Let's take our spoils home and sit with them for a while. Let's find the things worth keeping and let the rest sift away.

But it has been fun:

Walker Art Center in fine form.

> and a poem. <

Friday, April 10, 2015

Today in AWP news.

 We went to the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, which was AMAZING, you guys:

[exhibit: The Contained Narrative: Defining the Contemporary Artist's Book]

I bought a zillion tiny books, both there and at the book fair.

Then we saw the Mississippi,

which was, frankly, a little bit thrilling.

After that, we went to a fantastic farm to table restaurant that was, as is the nature of such enterprises, also hilarious. Featuring: an improbably wonderful toast course. As in: toast, the bread.

from right to left: toast & toast accoutrements.
from top to bottom (toast accoutrements):
fresh whole milk farm (of course) cheese. honey.
bacon-onion jam. toasted pepitas, fennel, and coriander
seeds. mushrooms. slaw of carrot and celery root.

I also wrote a poem about it.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Ten AWP Questions.

1. Why, pray tell, is my editor not here in Minneapolis, at the great Mecca of writing?
2. Why have I not slept for two days in a row? At least, not much?
3. Why did I just set myself the project of writing a poem composed of rhyming couplets, and including a little dog?
4. How many panels will I attend tomorrow?
5. And will I get up in time for a nine o'clock?
6. Tomorrow, shall I dress for comfort, or for speed, or both?
7. At what point will the book fair overwhelm me tomorrow--after 45 minutes, or 30, or 10?
8. Will it be worth it to attend a reading tomorrow that starts at 8:30?
9. What if the readers are Vijay Seshadri and Arthur Sze?
10. And will it have been worth it after all?

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

I totally did not know that.

In a hotel room in Minneapolis:

Me: Did you know that the headwaters of the Mississippi are in Minnesota?

Dr. Write: ... I... did, because of that Indigo Girls song--'the mississippi's mighty but it starts in Minnesota'--but I hadn't really thought about it since.

Map of the Mississippi River Watershed

Me: [pondering my incuriosity. also my ignorance.] 

Well, here is an acrostic that considers all of the above. My conference statement/'paper' is written. Well, mostly written. I present it tomorrow. After that, I will have time to pursue greater river knowledge, and perhaps I will share it with you.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015


I was looking for a particular picture today (for a #tbt that turns out to be Tuesday, which isn't actually a thing, MOM.), and realized the Google Plus is totally following my every move.

Remember Google Plus? How we all (well, I did, anyway) signed up for it because, you know, Google, and then who cares? As it turns out, I apparently told Google Plus to back up my photographs--well, not all of them, but a lot, and anyway, while I was searching for this one picture, I realized that Google Plus had a kajillion of my old blog headers.

[INTERJECTION:  The blog: how I love it. I remember when I first started my blog and it seemed miraculous to me, that all of a sudden, without knowing one damn thing about html, I could have a website, and my writing could be on the internet. I remembered seeking out an internet cafe where I'd be able to post updates, a cafe that somehow, and suspiciously, never seemed to be open when I stopped by with burning updates. I started posting brand new headers every month, or nearly, fairly early on. Some of these are fairly recent, but others go back several years.]

Anyway, here are a couple dozen of them. I liked seeing them, and thought you wouldn't mind seeing them, too.

{today's poem, a little pantoum if you're keeping score.}

Monday, April 06, 2015

What will I wear?

I will be taking several trips in the near future. I have a big blank in my mind about what I should wear.

the WoodBot is not an empty-headed fellow, but he
is, on the other hand, not helping me figure out my
traveling wardrobe. Fact, WoodBot.

First of all, I'm going to Minneapolis this week. Minneapolis is currently having a springtime, I presume. But I also presume that it is a more precipitation-ish springtime than Utah's springtime. I'm presenting at a conference, but also attending a conference. The real question is, having stopped wearing tights in Utah, will I wear them in Minnesota? Is this a bridge too far? And how big will my suitcase have to be to contain these quandaries?

Are you checking out those rainy clouds?

Moving on.

blah blah mug.

In two weeks and one day, I will be going to Ireland. First Dublin, then west and north to Sligo. Please, all you experienced Irelanders, don't tell me that this is a bad idea. I'm going to Sligo. Just tell me: what kind of coat should I bring?

the Sligo forecast.

This is kind of messing with my mind, you guys.

> today's [lightweight & recalcitrant] poem <

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Easter 2015.

We ate waffles with Supriya this morning. Then, she met some more family.

We ate dinner at my mom's and dad's. It was lovely. I made a cake.

[this is not all of the family. my mom, for instance, is curiously not in this selection.
but it is some of the family. also, these are not, in all cases, the best pictures of said family 
members. just fyi.]

We watched The Good Wife, which: whoa.

windstorm = dust storm = crazy vistas.

The day is done.

(and also I wrote this poem.)

Saturday, April 04, 2015


I don't think I need to really explain anymore how I feel about pancakes for breakfast. Like, that they are everything that is right with the world in the form of griddled batter? Or that they taste, with butter and maple syrup, like an epistemology? Or that they are, probably at a molecular level, integrally involved with the whole notion of a "good day"?


I am obsessed with Trader Joe's. Now that there's one within range--not all the way downtown, although, on the other hand, all the way across the valley--I feel that I should be there frequently, to inspect the possibilities and to buy cheese. Possibly another potted hydrangea. Maybe some more of that Jumbo Raisin Medley? I can't get over those raisins. They might be the epitome of raisins.


Target, on the other hand, was not the least bit illuminating today. Three pairs of shoes--all variations on a theme, never mind what the theme was--all on sale, but none of them in my size. A ridiculous shortage of white jeans, not that I need any more of those, either. They did, on the other hand, have dog food. And also a Moleskine notebook that was divided into chapters. A subdivided Moleskine? I did not buy it, but I might regret that.


I woke up feeling just the tiniest bit croaky today. I had to investigate that situation. Was I getting sick? Could this incipient sickness be a consequence of all of my labors? Did I need to lie down for awhile or all day?

Well, it has disappeared, this croak. Good thing. Who needs to have an incipient sickness on a Saturday in April?


Today we did some cleaning and straightening. That's because my son, the one who lived in India, is picking up his fiancee from the airport tonight. They will stay at our house. This obviously calls for vacuuming and putting things away and clean sheets and all manner of orderliness. We will meet her for the first time in maybe an hour and a half. Which means I should probably go do just a little more cleaning and putting things away and wiping surfaces in the kitchen.


But not before I say that Thai food is making a comeback in our lives! There was a period of time, not so long ago, when I thought that I had, perhaps, seen the end of the Thai food craze in my own personal palate. Then, a couple of weeks ago, we decided we'd check out our old regular place, Thai Delight, in its inglorious strip mall location. Lo! It had remodeled and expanded, it was busy, and the food was delicious, maybe in part because we weren't eating it every weekend. Tonight, my son the soccer coach ate yellow curry, the historian had Massaman curry, and I had Pad Kee Mao. Also, papaya salad. Transplendent. My son, who had never had Thai food before, was especially impressed.   Thai basil is pretty much the very best thing, at least right now, Saturday night, with the Jazz down by two with a minute to go in the third, and the house almost clean, and a bride-to-be on the horizon.

[also: poem in view]


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