Friday, July 31, 2015

Grilled whole chicken

I bought a small, politically correct chicken (organic, treated kindly until mercilessly slaughtered, etc...) brought it home and butterflied it by cutting out the backbone and spreading it out. I brined it for half an hour in some brine made with water, salt, and brown sugar, then grilled it on my gas grill on medium along side some small potatoes, basting some politically correct barbecue sauce on it. It took about half an hour. Arugula salad with parmesan and olives on the side. It splits easily in to halves once you split the breast into two. Then you can separate legs from breasts on one side and wings from breast on the other. I ate a wing, drumstick, and thigh from one half of the chicken and have enough left for 3 more meals.

If you butterfly the chicken it cooks more evenly because it is flat. I did the skin side last.

My theory of eating (not really a theory, but a practice) is: protein sources are meat or fish, but non-processed. I can eat as much as I want but that usually is 4-6 ounces, not 8. No bread unless I am eating a hamburger. Salad dressing is oil and various vinegars, with maybe some mustard. Cheese is always good. Starch is potatoes, mostly, with some beer. Some smoothies with fresh fruit and yogurt. No added sugars, excepts a tiny bit in sauces and marinades. Abundant seasonings, herbs and spices as the spirit moves me. V8 juice.

97. can't and won't

These are short stories by Lydia Davis (FSG 2014) that I checked out from the public library. She is a master of the "short form" and I found a few stories over five pages long to be a bit tedious. Although I like her work in general, I found the overall effect of this collection to be tedious in its repetition of the same tricks over and over again, in different sizes. The archness of the tone that rarely varied.

98. Urban Tumbleweed

I went to see Harryette Mullen read, after we met at the restaurant to mourn the death of our friend Ken Irby. She read from this book (gray wolf, 2013) with the subtitle Notes from a Tanka Diary. I bought it and had her sign it. It is extraordinary poetry and I finished it just now. It's a variety of observational, witty tanka written on walks, about the human encounter with nature, sometimes surprising and illuminating. It makes me want to read Richard Wright's haiku (she uses one as an epigraph).

She uses three lines and 31 syllables, and it doesn't seem imitative of Japanese poetry in a facile way.

I knew Mullen's Sleeping with the Dictionary and had long admired it. This is the same poet, with some verbal wit, but in a different mode. She's not repeating herself.

I've lucked out so far in this reading project.

99. nothing fictional but the accuracy or arrangement / (she

This book of poetry is by Sawako Nakayasu (Quale Press, 2006). All the sentences begin with the implicit pronoun "she" from the title.
can never find the right match - lights her cigarette on the hot
water heater, the gas stove, the broiler, a stick in someone's
mouth - lights everything that way
This book, too is extraordinary. The title implies that nothing in the book is fictional, that it all happened, but that it not accurate or arranged in any kind of logical order corresponding to real chronology. I read this book in one sitting. I've had the book a while, and I know I read it when I first got it and liked it.

100. For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut

So I felt that I was not reading with any pleasure any more. Poetry felt dull to me. So I am beginning a countdown of 100 books. The very first book I chose to read reawakened me to the pleasure of reading. It is For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut by Takashi Hiraide, translated by Sawako Nakayasu (New Directions, 2008). It puts American style cornball surrealism to shame:
Getting off the train, there was only one exit to the north. I passed a quiet old
commercial strip along the tracks, what seemed like a row of repeating liquor stores,
grocery stores, and rice shops - in other words I took a long detour south around the
station house. With someone leading the way, I was finally able to stand before the
tree of my dreams.
This is extraordinary in numerous ways, in its understatedness, for one thing. It seems to be a surrealist parable, but could actually be the description of a mundane event as well.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Running (2)

A friend died today. More about him later when I have time to collect my thoughts.

I went to the gym to run. I did a 10k around the track in 1:15. It seemed the best therapy.

I did a 10k easily in 1:30 last week, walking the whole way, so I figured I could beat that by running a bit and walking at about 4mph the rest of the time. To beat my time of 1:15 I must simply run more and walk less.

I was hot, my legs felt heavy at the end, but I was not bored or strained in heart or lungs in the least. My motivation flagged about half way through, but I recovered from that and finished the last 2 miles and a quarter running. Since I know I can run 3.12 miles (a 5k) then I can string together at least that much. My medium-term goal should be a 30 minute 5k and an hour and 5 minute 10k.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Poem on Re-Reading The Fighting Spirit of the Walnut

I circle the numbers of the poems that hold my attention. I want to go back to them later. The first circle is faint. The ballpoint pen is dry.

The second circle is darker. The friction of drawing the first, faint circle has awakened the pen. The third circle is faint again. I have waited too long. The fourth will be darker again, or lighter, depending on the time elapsed and amount of heat and friction awakening the ballpoint.

This poem is one in a series of poems about applying liquids or semi-liquid substances to surfaces. Imagine a poem about basting an uncooked piece of meat with a barbecue brush. Another about... well, use your imagination for that.

The book of poetry I was reading was astonishing, yet what seemed to interest me was the response of the pen. A triviality. This is not quite accurate, since this poem imitates (badly) the tone of what I was reading. What was interesting was that this extraordinary poetry allowed me to perceive the triviality of the pen's response (or failed response) as an occasion for my own writing.