Saturday, March 27, 2010



by Ai
I scissor the stem of the red carnation
and set it in a bowl of water.
It floats the way your head would,
if I cut it off.
But what if I tore you apart
for those afternoons
when I was fifteen
and so like a bird of paradise
slaughtered for its feathers.
Even my name suggested wings,
wicker cages, flight.
Come, sit on my lap, you said.
I felt as if I had flown there;
I was weightless.
You were forty and married.
That she was my mother never mattered.
She was a door that opened onto me.
The three of us blended into a kind of somnolence
and musk, the musk of Sundays. Sweat and sweetness.
That dried plum and licorice taste
always back of my tongue
and your tongue against my teeth,
then touching mine. How many times?—
I counted, but could never remember.
And when I thought we’d go on forever,
that nothing could stop us
as we fell endlessly from consciousness,
orders came: War in the north.
Your sword, the gold epaulets,
the uniform so brightly colored,
so unlike war, I thought.
And your horse; how you rode out the gate.
No, how that horse danced beneath you
toward the sound of cannon fire.
I could hear it, so many leagues away.
I could see you fall, your face scarlet,
the horse dancing on without you.
And at the same moment,
Mother sighed and turned clumsily in the hammock,
the Madeira in the thin-stemmed glass
spilled into the grass,
and I felt myself hardening to a brandy-colored wood,
my skin, a thousand strings drawn so taut
that when I walked to the house
I could hear music
tumbling like a waterfall of China silk
behind me.
I took your letter from my bodice.
Salome, I heard your voice,
little bird, fly. But I did not.
I untied the lilac ribbon at my breasts
and lay down on your bed.
After a while, I heard Mother's footsteps,
watched her walk to the window.
I closed my eyes
and when I opened them
the shadow of a sword passed through my throat
and Mother, dressed like a grenadier,
bent and kissed me on the lips.

Photo Credit- Poetry Center

Here are links to obits for Ai:
Guardian books

New York Times

L.A. Times

Personal account in the Oklahoma State University paper

Many personal remembrances on the Best American Poetry site, including this:

I tried to imitate her every day of my life. She was the way to write, the way I wanted to write. Ai, I miss u.

Brooklyn, NY

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Karen Finneyfrock New Book and Tour

Karen Finneyfrock's hot new book Ceremony for the Choking Ghost is getting great reviews, check out what The Stranger has to say. What makes the review even sweeter is over the years, The Stranger has snarked everything Poetry Slam, including an almost black out on coverage when the Nationals took place in Seattle.

Here is the reviewer Paul Constant, "In Reality Hunger, David Shields claims that he has grown frustrated with novels because "you have to read seven hundred pages to get the handful of insights that were the reason the book was written." Finneyfrock's poems, then, are Shields's perfect novels: a shelf full of long, elaborate, heartfelt books that have been whittled down to their bare, sharp skeletons."

Buy the book on the WriteBloody Store
You can catch up with Finneyfrock on her extensive tour:

March 9, Seattle Poetry Slam

March 12, Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

March 18, SEATTLE BOOK RELEASE PARTY, Richard Hugo House

March 19, Youth Speaks Seattle Finals, The Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA

March 22, Poetry Night, Bellingham, WA

March 31, Berzerkeley Poetry Slam, CA

April 1, Tourettes Without Regrets, Oakland, CA

April 6, Wordplay, Chicago, IL

April 7, TBA

April 9, Workshop with Vox Ferus, Chicago, IL

April 11, The Green Mill, Chicago, IL

April 14, Cantab Lounge, Boston, MA

April 15, Providence Poetry Slam, RI

April 17, Kitchen Sessions, Mike McGee’s House, USA

April 19, Louder Arts at Bar 13, NYC

April 20, Urbana, Bowery Poetry Club, NYC

April 22, Loser Slam, New Jersey

April 23, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, NYC

April 24, Jack McCarthy Invitational Slam, Marysville, WA

April 25, Seattle’s Grand Slam at Town Hall, Seattle, WA

May 8, SPRUNG with Tara Hardy, Elaina Ellis, more info TBA

May 11, The Round at the Fremont Abbey with Write Bloody author Josh Boyd

May 20, SAM Word at Seattle Art Museum

June 8, 826 Seattle “Write Like I Do” Class for Adults