December 21, 2012

Macbeth via novel titles

By Agatha Christie: By the pricking of my thumbs,
By Ray Bradbury:   Something wicked this way comes.

— From Act IV, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's "Macbeth"

December 12, 2012

I should've known ...

Title of essay from The Chronicle Review: Poetry Makes You Weird.
(By Professor Eric G. Wilson. Link here.)

December 10, 2012

Cool-looking authors No. 46

Pepe the King Prawn, author of "It's Hard Out Here For a Shrimp: Life, Love and Living Large"

Photographer unknown, but likely copyright Disney

December 8, 2012


What Dr. H.E. Hawthorne
lacked in opposable thumbs,
he more than made up for
in sheer ambition.

— Johnny Drago, short story "What Have I Done to You That You Beat Me These Three Times?" (Creative Loafing, Jan. 12, 2012, fiction contest winner)

December 5, 2012


The most passionate Southerners 
are often the ones who come 
from someplace else.

— Dwight Garner of The New York Times in his article about The Oxford American

December 4, 2012


My boss was impossible:
she eschewed compound sentences,
preferred sans-serif fonts,
and had no respect for the semicolon.

— Rahul Mehta, short story "The Cure" (online at Fifty-Two Stories)

November 26, 2012

Weapon Words

A tongue
can strike
than a
at times.

— Brian Azzarello, Wonder Woman No. 7 (2012)

November 25, 2012

Dante's Inferno Bubble Gum

Road Map of Hell
Colorful map shows locations
of people and places of
interest. Folds to pocket size.
Send 75 comics to: Inferno /
P.O. Box 1300 / Brooklyn, IT.
Print clearly.
Not valid where prohibited.

— R. Sikoryak, bubble-gum prize ad from
his "Masterpiece Comics"

November 24, 2012


Rideout returned the smile,
exposing teeth that
were little more than
tiny eroded gravestones.

— Stephen King short story "The Little Green God of Agony" (from "A Book of Horrors" edited by Stephen Jones)

November 23, 2012

Dark Weather



the glass,
as if

the night
is crying.

— Patricia Cornwell, "Book of the Dead"

November 16, 2012

Cool-looking authors No. 45

Alix Ohlin, author of the novel "Inside" and the short story collection "Signs and Wonders"

Photo credits: Emma Dodge Hanson Photography; Michael Lionstar

November 12, 2012

Jack Gilbert

His poems seek out
the colossal
within the quotidian.
Everyday grandeur
without grandiloquence.

— John Penner writing in the Los Angeles Times' Jacket Copy blog about poet Jack Gilbert.

November 3, 2012

Cool-looking authors No. 44

Dolly Parton, author of "Dream More" and "Coat of Many Colors"

(Photo from The Agency Group Ltd.)

October 30, 2012


A picture of Picasso,
clipped from a newspaper,
danced on a bulletin board
to a smell of mildew
that was nearly audible.

— "Property" by Elizabeth McCracken (from "Best American Short Stories 2011")

October 21, 2012

Dear John

John had to believe 
in God because 
he knew the devil. 

— Alan Gurganus, writing about the 100th birthday of John Cheever, who was a mentor and friend. Source: The New York Review of Books

October 20, 2012

The horror

The insertion of found footage
into horror flicks is now
so common as to be
almost compulsory,

like the use of vomiting
in mainstream comedies.

What a golden age
we inhabit.

— Anthony Lane's review of "Sinister" (New Yorker, Oct. 15, 2012)

October 19, 2012


Last night dreamed
of two demons
having sex

and found out

it was only
two cats fighting
outside window.

— George Saunders, "The Semplica-Girl Diaries" short story in The New Yorker Oct. 15, 2012, issue

October 17, 2012

No Hard Feelings

It must be
the dumbest thing
he's ever said.

No hard feelings?

What could ever be
harder than feelings?

 — Sam Lipsyte, "The Dungeon Master" (from "Best American Short Stories 2011")

October 13, 2012

Cool-looking authors No. 43

A.M. Homes, author of the novel "May We Be Forgiven"

Photo by Marion Ettlinger

October 12, 2012

Cool-looking authors No. 42

Fran Lebowitz, known for her sardonic social commentary

Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

October 11, 2012


comic books
teach us

that you
will meet
your exact

at least
once a week!

— Brian Cronin, from his book "Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent?"

October 9, 2012

Cool-looking authors No. 41

Zadie Smith, author of "White Teeth," "The Autograph Man," "On Beauty" and "NW"

Photo by Eamonn McCabe

October 7, 2012


The Greeks 
had Oedipus.
We have TMZ
and the celebration
of petty misfortune.

We've democratized
tragedy, which isn't 
necessarily a bad thing.

— Arts and Letters Daily tease to a New Statesman story about  "Tragedy's decline and fall" 

October 6, 2012

Cool-looking authors No. 40

Junot Diaz, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" and the short story collection "This Is How You Lose Her."  The MIT professor is among the latest recipients of the MacArthur genius grants.

Photo by Joey L.

September 28, 2012

Good Haunting

"I'm glad
it was ghosts,"
she said.

"They're a lot
less dangerous
than people."

— Albert E. Cowdrey, "Asylum" (from Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, May/June 2012)

September 27, 2012

September 21, 2012


The sun
was like

a furious

in the sky.

— Flannery O'Connor, "You Can't Be Any Poorer Than Dead"

September 8, 2012

On Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris,
who is described
as a "lone wolf,"

though to me
he always
seems more of
a lone marmoset.

— Anthony Lane in his review of "The Expendables 2," in The New Yorker, Sept. 3, 2012
(with my apologies to Mr. Norris) 

September 7, 2012

Mobile Punctuation

"Mobile Punctuation"
by Ronnie Sirmans
(From South Carolina Review, Fall 2011)

Reading a printed poem, what I thought 
was an orphaned closing parenthesis
amid a stanza detailing a quotidian epiphany
was simply my eyelash that had fallen just so,
so that it could masquerade as a dark mark.
I brushed away the mobile punctuation,
and so my reading had already paused
even though a comma wasn’t there either
in the now empty space between words.

September 6, 2012

Lot and Daedalus

"Lot and Daedalus" 

by Ronnie Sirmans
(From Gargoyle issue 56)

His daughter heard the noise first,

certain of a knocking at the door.
Lot went to see.  Though his eyes
amazed him at first, he had no doubt.
Lot invited them in, the two with wings.

The winged man and young boy did not understand

the language of the man opening the door.
Daedalus considered these people odd,
this city was not his home.  Where had
the divine winds carried him and his son?
The strange man motioned for them to enter.
Human interaction did not require words.

”I am Daedalus,” he said

nonetheless. “This is Icarus,” 
nodding toward his child still with wings.
Lot and his family did not understand,
but Lot knew angels spoke with the tongues
of Heaven.  The white linen worn by the man
and boy revealed more flesh
than the folds and folds
of modesty draped upon Lot
and his wife and two daughters.

Daedalus asked if they might

rest for a moment, and he discerned
he was not understood.  Nor did he
understand the woman’s whisper,
but Daedalus understood the caring
warmth of the smile from Lot’s wife
when she spoke in soft passion, “Angels.”

Daedalus could not make her understand

that they had fallen from the sky,
caught in a maelstrom in darkness,
with man-made wings now seared to skin.
He did not know how to tell her
that dreams and time were intertwined.
Daedalus wondered why he found
himself in this strange land.
Divine aphasia?  Young Icarus said
nothing but followed Lot’s daughters
as they took him aside and stroked
his small wings, the feathers
black and white, sturdy but fragile.

Both families went to sleep, not knowing

that the gods did not abide love,
that one would lose his son,
that one would lose his wife,
and that their love stolen by the gods
(gods had the right to take everything)
would become stories told and retold.

September 2, 2012


No fish
were killed
in the writing
of these poems.

— Title of Beverly Bie Brahic's book review in Poetry, September 2012

July 23, 2012


Come this time tomorrow
we'll be knee deep
in the blood
and thunder.

— Robert Kirkman, "The Walking Dead" issue 100

June 30, 2012


Suddenly I wasn't myself anymore.
I was his absence.
Even in my new white veil
and black patent shoes,
I was the dented suitcase
he had left behind.

— Tania James, short story "The Gulf" (Boston Review, March/April 2012)

June 18, 2012

Short story, novel, poem

sound like
your novel."

— Ben Lerner, short story "The Golden Vanity" (New Yorker, June 18, 2012, issue)

June 17, 2012


There's not
some finite
amount of
pain inside us.

— Tom Perrotta, "The Leftovers"

June 10, 2012


Some miracles,
are destructive.

— Victor Lodato, "P.E." (short story in New Yorker, April 2, 2012, issue)

June 7, 2012

Natasha Trethewey: U.S. poet laureate

The new U.S poet laureate is from metro Atlanta. The first Southerner to hold the post since the original laureate, Robert Penn Warren.
New York Times article
Photo of Natasha Trethewey by Jon Rou

May 28, 2012

Cool-looking authors No. 38

Geoff Johns, author of "Justice League Vol. 1: Origin (The New 52)" and numerous other comic book titles and also screenplays.

(Photo courtesy of DC Entertainment)

May 27, 2012

Sci-fi it's not

Rare is the young poet these days who doesn't dice our wired world into a baseline mirepoix.

— Dwight Garner, in his review of poet Michael Robbins' "Alien vs. Predator" in The New York Times, May 23, 2012

May 26, 2012


All around him, there are spies. 
Some of them are detached observers, 
like glass surfaces and still pools; 
others, such as coats in store windows, 
are prejudiced witnesses, lynchers at heart; 
others, again (running water, storms), 
are hysterical to the point of insanity, 
have a distorted opinion of him, 
and grotesquely misinterpret his actions. 
He must be always on his guard 
and devote every minute and 
module of life to the decoding 
of the undulation of things. 
The very air he exhales is 
indexed and filed away.

— Vladimir Nabokov, short story "Symbols and Signs," which I re-read after reading Lorrie Moore's short story "Referential" (New Yorker, May 28, 2012, issue)

May 25, 2012

Smooth Talker

the kind of girl
whose words
as easy
as cupcake batter.

— Sheri Reynolds, "The Sweet In-Between"

May 23, 2012

Animated poetry

Billy Collins' TED talk, in which he shares animations made of some of his poems. The esteemed Mr. Collins.

May 22, 2012

Magnetic Poetry Blues

The grunge-meets-gospel
chorus is nice, but the rest
sounds like it was written
with a magnetic poetry kit
she had left over from the '90s.

— Melissa Maerz (Entertainment Weekly review of Alanis Morissette's new single, "Guardian," in May 25, 2012, issue)

May 16, 2012

Hair Ball

In Hong Kong,
Gaga rocked
a dress made
from the manes
of thousands of
My Little Ponies.

— From Rolling Stone's "Random Notes" feature (May 24, 2012 issue)

May 15, 2012


She could never
be a saint, but
she thought she
could be a martyr
if they killed her quick.

— Flannery O'Connor, "A Temple of the Holy Ghost" short story

May 10, 2012


Always swimming underwater,
the black waves of her hair
flowing behind her
like a school of eels.

— Junot Diaz, "Miss Lora" (short story in The New Yorker, April 23, 2012)

May 7, 2012


Just because
a place is
on a body

of water
doesn't make
it a resort.

 — Sheri Reynolds, "The Sweet In-Between"

April 25, 2012


It's the birthday of Ted Kooser, who puts together the "American Life in Poetry" that runs in newspapers (and online, of course). More about him here at Writer's Almanac, which included this note: He wanted to be a writer, but he flunked out of graduate school. So he took the first job he was offered, at a life insurance company, and he worked there for 35 years. He said: "I believe that writers write for perceived communities, and that if you are a lifelong professor of English, it's quite likely that you will write poems that your colleagues would like; that is, poems that will engage that community. I worked every day with people who didn't read poetry, who hadn't read it since they were in high school, and I wanted to write for them."

April 24, 2012


I've got my daddy's old rod and reel,
the red one with the soft cork handle.

It's got dents from where
his fingers used to go.

— Sheri Reynolds, "The Sweet In-Between"

April 19, 2012


He looked up. He said,
"What do you suppose
this word means?"
He held out the magazine
to me and pointed to the page.

I walked over to the bed
and looked. He was pointing
to the word metaphor.

He said, "It must mean like
a sign, a signal of some kind."

I said, "Like from outer space?"
He said, "Yes."

I said, "Like from God?"
He said, "I don't know."

We looked at the word
metaphor for a long time.
Neither of us dared
to pronounce it. It lay there
on the white page being itself,
like a signal from outer space.

— Lewis Nordan, "Music of the Swamp"

April 18, 2012


I never had caught a chicken.
I had had lots of bites,
but I never had landed one,
never really even set the hook in one.
They're tricky, a chicken.

— Lewis Nordan, "Sugar Among the Chickens"
(From the story collection "The All-Girl Football Team")

April 17, 2012

Lewis Nordan, 1939-2012

One of my favorite writers has passed away. Lewis Nordan wrote about a South that was magical and absurd and real. Author of "Welcome to the Arrow-Catcher Fair," "Music of the Swamp," "Wolf Whistle," "Lightning Song" and "Sugar Among the Freaks" and more.

(Photo by Miriam Berkley - from New York Times obituary.)

April 16, 2012

April 9, 2012

A hush

There was a silence
with things
going on in it.

— Dorothy Parker, "Here We Are"
("Best American Short Stories of the Century")

March 18, 2012




looks like


— Joan Acocella, "Critic's Notebook: Heaven on Earth"
(New Yorker, March 5, 2012)

March 14, 2012

Cool-looking authors No.37

Bill Cosby, author of books about marriage, fatherhood and much more.

(Photographer unknown.)

March 2, 2012

Pothole people

While the road of good intentions
might end in hell, the people
who tried to fill the potholes
along the way deserved
at least some credit.

— Stephen King, "The Library Policeman" from "Four Past Midnight"

February 27, 2012

Cool-looking authors No.36

William Shatner, author of memoirs, an autobiography "Up Till Now," and a series of "Star Trek" novels.

Photo by Jerry Avenaim

February 26, 2012

Cool-looking authors No.35

Christopher Rice, author of novels "A Density of Souls," "Light Before Day" and others. (And son of novelist Anne Rice.)

(Photo: Gwen & Eddie photography)

February 16, 2012

Cool-looking authors No.34

Alice Hoffman, author of "The Dovekeepers," "Here on Earth," "Second Nature," "Practical Magic" and more

Photo by Deborah Feingold

February 15, 2012


... life's for living ...
so if you get the chance,
you better take it.

Even eighty years
goes by fast.

— Janice Daugharty, "Name of Love"
(short story included in "New Stories from the South")

February 14, 2012


There is no beginning
to love.
It just
creeps over you.

— Bailey White, "Quite a Year for Plums"

February 2, 2012

Unequal Pleasure

A vasectomy might cost
as much as a year’s worth
of ice cream,
but that doesn’t mean
it’s equally enjoyable.

— Ezra Dyer, author of New York Times article about the 2012 VW Eos

January 31, 2012

Colorful history

Could the past
be a kaleidoscope,
a pattern of images
that shift with
each disturbance
of a sudden breeze,
a laugh, or
a thought?

— Alan Lightman, "Einstein's Dreams"

January 28, 2012

Cool-looking authors No. 32

Wil Wheaton, author of "Just a Geek" and "Dancing Barefoot"

(His first name is pronounced "Whil," according to Stewie from "Family Guy.")

And he portrayed a young author in the film "Stand By Me."

(Photographer unknown)

January 16, 2012


How important is facial hair
as an acting tool?

It's incredibly important.
It's like doing an accent
or speaking another language.

It's a great tool
for building a character.

— Gael Garcia Bernal, actor with goatee
featured in Gillette's "Masters of Style" ad

January 12, 2012


In the dim light that seeps
through the room, the desks
appear shadowy and soft,
like large sleeping animals.

— Alan Lightman, "Einstein's Dreams"

January 11, 2012

Jawbone Phone

What's happened
to our civilization?

When did it become
okay for non-crazy
people to babble

their personal
nonsense in public?

— Daniel Clowes, "Mister Wonderful"

January 9, 2012


He felt
his usual


as he entered
the house.

— Joyce Carol Oates, short story "Labryinth"
(McSweeney's 29)

January 8, 2012

Cool-looking authors No.30

Erik Estrada, author of "My Road From Harlem to Hollywood" (former star of NBC series "CHiPs")

January 7, 2012

Cool-looking authors No.29

Ray Bradbury, literary icon. Author of "The Martian Chronicles," "Farenheit 451," "Something Wicked This Way Comes," "Dandelion Wine" and "The Illustrated Man."

(Photo by Tom Victor, courtesy of Simon & Schuster)

January 6, 2012

Cool-looking authors No.28

Michael Chabon, author of "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," "Wonder Boys," "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," "Maps and Legends" and "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay"

(Photo by Bridget Summers)

January 5, 2012


On the bathroom floor

slivers of mirror

glittered like

a nightclub's promise.

— Robert McCarthy, short story "Stag"
(One Story #126)

January 4, 2012


When a man's passion
explodes into violence,
only a woman's desire
can turn it into love.
— Tagline on the cover of the novel "Tender Is the Storm" by Johanna Lindsey

January 3, 2012

Cool-looking authors No. 26 and 27

John Cheever (left) and John Updike
Both great short story writers. Cheever, author of "Wapshot" novels; Updike, author of "Rabbit" novels.
[Year, photographer unknown; source: this]

January 2, 2012

Cool-looking authors No. 25

Author of "Bart Simpson's Guide to Life" (subtitled "A Wee Handbook for the Perplexed")
(with writing help from Matt Groening; photo of the author by Matt Groening)

January 1, 2012


They have become prone
to apocalyptic forebodings

about the fragility
of the nation’s
and traditions.

... a specter is haunting
the specter of abundance.

— George Will,
Washington Post column, 12-30-11