Wednesday, October 29, 2008

a delicious Autumn sandwich

I made a sandwich today that was so good that I began to think, "I might need to get a real 9-5 job in my life so that I can afford to eat this kind of shit all the time." It was kind of a fancypants sandwich, and I don't expect you to have the ingredients just lying around like I did.

I was lucky in that my friends and I had gone to a farm on Saturday, and I had pumpkin butter and apples leftover from that. Plus, when I was at Trader Joe's last week, I decided to buy arugula to show my support for Barack Obama.

So here's all I did:

- I made a tofu salad out of:
  • extra-firm tofu
  • vegenaise
  • an onion
  • a McIntosh apple
  • paprika
  • a little salt and pepper

- I toasted some Canadian white bread

- I put the tofu salad on a slice of toast

- I put arugula on top of the tofu salad. (Note: Locally Known has some crazy-good arugula this season.)

- I spread delicious pumpkin butter on the other slice of toast

- I ate that sandwich and memories of Autumns past flashed before my eyes. Like I was in Grandma's yard in Pomona New York playing in a big pile of leaves with my brother and sister and hot cocoa was waiting for us inside but we just weren't done frolicking yet, I mean seriously this was that good.

Good pumpkin butter tastes like the inside of a pumpkin pie but less whippy. It's just mashed-up pumpkin and spices, plus maybe some lemon juice. Maybe we could just socialize pumpkin butter, so that everybody could have some. I think that would be a step in the right direction for this country.

Sorry. I didn't mean to get political. Good Sandwiches '08. Crap. Sorry.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

April Ranger at Emerson

I saw my friend and esteemed colleague April Ranger feature at Emerson Poetry Project last night. I was pretty disappointed at the turnout--I think it was the first time we've had fewer than 30 people at an EPP open mic--but of course she rocked the uglies out of all twenty of us.

April made the 2008 Cantab slam team that went to Nationals and went to Finals, and she's the current NorthBEAST Champion (took me out in the second round), and let me tell you that that those were no accidents. She really knows when to stomp the distortion petal and when to go acoustic and let the words do the work. More importantly, she's got words that do a lot of work. I'm going to misquote this, but there's a poem she did that used to be called "The Boy Makes Love to the Girl Who Cuts Herself," which she now calls "Hero." There's a line that goes something like, "you looked like an old elm tree, carved up by some stupid kids." And then this time she added this really good Civil War analogy that gave it the new title.

She brought Brian with her. He read a Patricia Smith poem on the mic, and then he even hosted the slam. What a guy. Earlier in the evening, he gave me seven cents, just because he 'didn't want it in his pockets.' I even mentioned that I still owed him 15 dollars for his book, and he was like "No. No," and then walked away.

Actually, I had given him a dollar to buy a drink even earlier in the evening. Anyway.

I sacrificed for the slam. I performed a short and pretty low key poem about depression that used Batman as its protagonist. One judge gave it a 4, and the other scores were 6's and a 7 I think (scores for the rest of the evening generally ranged between 6 and 8.5), which I thought was unfair, but generally when I reflect deeply enough on slam scores, I think, "Whatever." I will not let slam judges make me write long theatrical poems about horrible injustice. Those will come only after I experience horrible injustice, and only if I am feeling theatrical.

I say this not as a reflection on the poets I heard last night, but as a reflection on what I often see score well at a slam--although I also often see April and Brian and other similarly awesome poets score well at slams, and I think, "Cantab is a pretty awesome place, and I'm glad we exist as a community." It was a small slam and mic last night, but in general, I believe that Emerson is becoming a similarly unique and valuable space for performance poetry, and this pleases me.

It's just too bad the Emerson Student Government didn't take EPP's constitution because it was a few hours late, and now they probably won't have enough money to go to College Nationals or pay their features appropriately. Sorry to end on a negative note, but that is just an awful thing that sucks.

Beaurocracy: Can't live with it, can't shake the feeling that you would like to stop living every time you have to deal with it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I don't usually have dreams, but I had some last night, and since Charley blogs his dreams and it works out pretty well, I thought I'd try it too. So let's see:

It's my birthday. I go to Cantab, and there's a plastic bag at "my seat" (I guess Simone made assigned seats because we had been too rowdy last time). The bag has a frozen vegan pizza, a bunch of notebooks, a collection of poems by Dustin Pedroia (whom I understand to be a contemporary of Lorca and not a baseball player), and a large stick that I could see using as a walking stick with a scarf tied to the "handle" and a piece of paper dangling from it that says "Salt the moon."

I initially assume that Jamie got all of this for me, but then I find a note from Tom Daley. I think, "This is way more than I would expect Tom to give me for my birthday, but I must remember to thank him."


At the end of a long day of school, I come home just knowing that my friends have thrown me a surprise party. Sure enough, I open the door and there's Adam and Lauren, the Gringos, and a smattering of Cantabbers and Emersonians. I have a ridiculously positive interaction with the girl I had a huge crush on through most of college, and after we kiss, she turns into a completely different person, who wears makeup and jewelry and has long hair and I think Ugg boots. I don't feel any differently about her, but she has to go catch the bus so I tell her I'll call, or she can call, or whatever. I feel weird about going back to the party after that, so I just walk around the city for the rest of this dream.


I'm at the cafeteria of my new school, sitting at a long table across from Sarka, my first girlfriend who has since gone vegan and inspired me also to go vegan (her real name is Sarah, but I'll use her nickname to avoid confusion).

It's dessert time, and at this school they manage dessert much the way that a summer camp might--teachers walk around with big boxes of the day's dessert and give us each one item. Sarah Palin is coming down the row with a box of ice cream cones. Sarka makes a snark about her that I don't quite hear but laugh at anyway (I thought I heard "lipstick" and "pig" in there somewhere).

When Sarah Palin gets to me, she hands me my ice cream and I say "thank you" and start to unwrap it. I'm very close to eating it when I realize that it's not vegan. I look at Sarka disappointedly and she says, "You should try these popsicles. These popsicles, they're pretty great." She hands me one--she's got a whole crayon box of them--and I try it and say, "These are vegan? Wow." It's french toast-flavored.

Friday, October 24, 2008

a new chapbook mostly constisting of poetry

Today I started putting together a new chapbook. I want to have it ready for my tour with Sam. I want to share some of its potential content with you, but a lot of it is "off-limits" until the end of 30/30.

Here are some ideas for names that I thought of while scrolling through the poems:

  • Eating Eating Eating
  • Drafts Of Suicide Letters That Became Knock-Knock Jokes
  • Blue Agave Nectar
  • Textured Vegetable Protein-Based Miracle Substitute

Here are a few poems that might give you some idea of why I would think of these titles:

Graduating the Weekend

My housemate’s cat doesn’t have a job. He spends
his hours sniffing chairs and discovering new ways
to lie down. Once, he stood on the living room
windowsill and stared at a sparrow on the telephone
wire, his eyes and calves figuring the crosshairs,
but smoothly, lazily, aware of his occupation
even then. He didn’t watch the bird fly off. Instead,
he hopped over the couch to his tuna bowl. I asked
him, “Butch, what are you doing with your life?”
but he kept staring into the loveseat, then said,
“Go ahead and scratch my chin.” I obliged, but
I knew he meant to say, “I’m saving up for a nice, satisfying
death.” My housemate has a smart cat. He helps me think:

I’ve decided I cannot commit suicide until I’ve recorded
at least two more albums and written at least a book’s worth
of suicide letters. But I just keep writing knock-
knock jokes, even though the only time I answer
our door, it’s the landlord, and he wants to talk
to somebody who’s in charge. I tell him we all
live here, and we’ve been trying to call a meeting
to discuss the lease, and he says, “What is there
to discuss?” and I say, “The lease,” and then, “Oh!
That sounded sarcastic. I’m so sorry. Please let me live
here still.” He shakes my hand and leaves and Wow,
I have had so few real life experiences. I hop over
to the kitchen to try not to ruin a sandwich, but

the fridge ran out of tofu, and before I can find hummus,
Butch starts circling my legs. He’s not a black cat,
and I have no path; there’s nothing to worry about,
so I tell a knock-knock joke:


(Who’s there?)

The landlord.

(“The landlord” who?)

The land and its lord need you
to make a decision
and they can’t wait
another day, so
what’s your call,


Decorative Squash

The decorative

They sit behind store windows.
They sit beside scarves on hooks
and cell phones on columns,
beside mannequins with hats
and shirts and pants and scarves
and cell phones.

The decorative squash
wear friendly colors,
like French yellow
and fireplace orange
and hospice green.

I hate the decorative squash.
They are not my friends. I hate them.

The decorative squash does not make me want to buy a hat.
The decorative squash does not make me want to buy a shirt.
The decorative squash does not make me want to buy a scarf.

I already have a cell phone.
The cell phone store cannot understand this.

The decorative squash cannot
understand cell phones.

I cannot understand
how cell phones kill the bees.

The bees would eat the decorative squash
if you let them.

Fourteen-year-old kids would smash
the decorative squash, or throw them
if you let them.

Let’s attack!
Let’s smash the decorative squash!
Let’s feed them to the bees!
Let’s throw them at fourteen-year-old kids!

We don’t have to do that;
I’m sorry. I’m being rude.

I just want to go for a walk through Harvard Square
without buying a scarf
or a cell phone.

I just want to cut the decorative squash
into pieces too small to see
because they are so useless.

Parsley sits around and is useless
until someone cuts it
into pieces too small to see,
then it’s part of food.

No one finds it rude
when you cut a chicken or a duck or a cow
into pieces too small to see,
except for vegans,
who might feel suspicious
that you’ll sneak animals
into their soup.

I am a vegan,
and this is something you can remember about me,
like a special scarf.

I am thinking today about decorative squash.

Actually, I’m lying.
I’m thinking about butternut squash,
how I’ll eat a bowl of butternut squash soup
with my friends,
and Max will think I’m putting honey into our soups,
but it will actually be agave nectar.

Actually, I’m lying.
I will eat my soup by myself.

Sometimes I feel sorry for the decorative squash.
I sit by a window
in a shirt and pants
and a scarf
beside my cell phone.
I lie down and there are bumps all over my body.


(this is a greeting card that I'm considering sending to Hallmark)

On the morning of your first shave…

You’ll know, in years to come, that your father
encouraged you to leave the moustache
as a private joke to himself, that your neighbor
wrote you up in her diary only this once,

and only, unwittingly, to share this joke,
and to complain about her mother nagging
her towards you before the bus stop. But
this moustache, feathery and pixie-

small, holds magic today, holds it gently
in thin, up-curved claws, a secret forest
teeming with great beasts you may suspect
of stealing the girlfriends you never get—

such a scarily magical forest, these dreams
of manhood, even though the goatee for which
you’ve sewn those seeds can only grow
into a deeper mimicry of the adult male

by the adult male, when one day, as you now
hope, you will eat a hearty dinner, then retire,
brewski-handed, to half-sleep in the soft infomercial
glow, continuously dreaming of waking up.


Please tell me if you have any other ideas for this chapbook's name. I might figure out a way to sell it online, but chances are that I won't figure it out and will eventually forget.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brandy-Spiked Sugar Cookies

I've made these cookies three times, and I've been asked for the recipe at least five times. If you have these things:

- access to an oven

- 10 tablespoons of margarine
(not to be all brand-loyal, but Earth Balance's "buttery spread" works very well and Veganomicon swears by that stuff in general.)

- 1/2 a cup of sugar

- 1 1/2 cups of flour

- 1/2 of a banana
(best if the banana is kind of on its way out)

- 1 tablespoon of vanilla

- 1 tablespoon of brandy
(the vanilla and the brandy are flexible; the original recipe that I based this on used almond extract instead of brandy, but I didn't feel like going to Whole Foods and Amy had some brandy leftover from the sangria she made)

- 1/2 a teaspoon of baking soda

- 1/2 a teaspoon of salt

- a tablespoon each of cinnamon and sugar, mixed together in a bowl

here is what I need you to do:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
  • Cream together the margarine and the sugar. (It's easier if the margarine is already room temperature, but I've never bothered waiting.)
  • Mix in the vanilla and the brandy (or whatever liquid flavoring you've decided to use).
  • Mix in all of the dry ingredients except for the cinnamon-and-sugar.
  • Mash up the banana and mix that in (it's pretending to be an egg, so try not to leave any chunks).
  • Roll the dough into little balls, and roll them in the cinnamon-and-sugar.
  • Place them onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake those sheets for 10-12 minutes.
  • Share.

Thank you. The world is a better place now.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

searching for a purpose...

If you are one of the two (two?) readers of this blog, you may have noticed that there has only been one post, and that post was mainly about how I was going to start this blog.

This is mainly because I've been pretty unsure about what this blog's "purpose" should be. I don't want to use this to kvetch out into the inter-waves about how angry or sad or stressed or bored I happen to be on a given day. But I do want it to be a "personal affair," and not just a site devoted to, say, every time I see a poetry show or read a chapbook, either with idle gossip or some pseudointellectual attempt at serious criticism. What I have decided is that I should "strike a balance" between these extremes, and that the best way to do this is to "actually write things here."

So, let's try this:

Okay, first, I would like to institute a "section" of this blog, which I will call The Most Boring Thing. Here, I will tell you about something that I believe will be kind of boring to you, but which I want to share for some reason.

The Most Boring Thing

Today I made myself milktoast. Milktoast is made by boiling milk and then pouring it on a slice of toast. It's a charmingly boring food. The word "milquetoast" (n) describes a person who is timid and nebbishy (this originates from a cartoon character called Caspar Milquetoast, who was named after this boring boring dish). It is soothing to upset stomachs, and I have an upset stomach today because I did an unusual amount of drinking and late-nighting last weekend.

To make the milktoast, I used Canadian white bread, which I "toasted" by baking it in my toaster oven because the toast button is broken; I used soymilk because I'm a vegan.

I've been really good about observing the veganism over the past month, but I just got an email from my Grandma saying that she's sending me a package of mondel bret (delicious treat that my friend Max Goldberg once aptly called "Jew-scotti"). Mondel bret, of course, has got butter and eggs.

My Grandma (bless her sweet loving heart) doesn't know I've gone from plain veggie to full-on serious Vegan Face. I don't know how to tell my extended family about this without getting into a series of really uncomfortable ethical conversations. It's bad enough when politics comes up.

Thanksgiving is coming. I think that's why so much of my poetry has concerned veganism lately.

By the way, the only reason I haven't been sharing my poetry on this thinger is that I'm doing this thing called "The 30/30 All Stars." A bunch of poets, mostly from the Greater Boston Area, are writing a poem a day throughout October (we started on the 2nd). I'd link to the blog, but it's "members only" and we're not allowed to publish outside of it. Maybe I'll post some of mine after it's done. We 30/30-ers will be doing some readings around town, which I will tell you about.

Okay, so that should give you some idea of how things will be here. Deal? Deal.

<3 Steve