One Down.

I started blogging one year ago this month. One of my friends was blogging, and I thought, hey, that looks like fun. So I started a blog.

And no one cared.

Photo from Jendocino Grove.

Well, maybe one or two people cared. You know who you are. And you’re awesome, by the way.

At any rate, I didn’t give a lot of thought to blog design or visual appeal because like I said, when no one’s looking, there’s not a lot of pressure to be fancy.

With blogging, there’s just not a lot of pressure, period.

It’s refreshing.

Photo from I Like To Watch.

A blog post is the most public thing you can possibly do with your art or deepest thoughts or most profound emotions - and yet once you make that public statement, it's almost immediately lost within the sheer volume of other voices shouting their thoughts out into the ether.

It’s a public diary that is simultaneously available to, and ignored by everyone.

How sweet is that?

Photo from Vernal.

As a writer, I face rejection on an astonishing scale. I send short stories out by the gross, and in return, I receive reject letters which often make it abundantly clear that my submission wasn’t even read.

Photo from The Wild Tide.

Now that I can submit stories to most literary magazines electronically, I receive form email reject letters, too.

But when I write a blog post, the only people who bother to check in and say anything are people who dig what I do. Well, most of the time, anyway. And that’s encouraging.

Although you really shouldn't encourage me.

These photos are just a smattering of my favorites from over the past year. In terms of posts, there was some bird-nerdery I really enjoyed, probably best encapsulated in Because They Don't Know The Words - a post that is mostly about hummingbirds, but it links up to my chicken Haikus, which are not to be missed. Some other poems are linked to these photos, but two I liked that I didn't post photos for are Giants Wild and This Average Heart. I'm a sucker for a good love story, so I have to mention Love Hurts, which also speaks to my fascination with the macabre. Not as much as Flesh Machine, though. The macabre and peckers. That is so me!

Like I said earlier, when I first started this blog, I didn't give much thought to its appearance. But now I want it to be easier on the eyes, so I hope you enjoy the new layout.

Oh, hey, and if you feel like it, you should wander on over there to the right and click on the "follow" button.

(Disclaimer: I have no idea what clicking on the "follow" button does. If you wind up forfeiting your eternal soul because you clicked on a button just because some random blogger told you to, then that's on you. Here's what I do know: Seeing those thumbnail pictures pile up does wonders for my vanity, so fork over.)

I'll close by thanking those of you who take the time to swing by and give this blog a peek every now and again. Yes, you. I appreciate it. And those of you who leave comments are especially appreciated, although I don't know how many times I should have to tell you that you really shouldn't encourage me.

But now it's too late. See what you've done? Shame on you.


Old Hat.

The anniversary of my grandfather’s death is this week.

Before he died, he gave me this old straw hat of his.

It was already a pretty beat-up hat by the time I got it, but over the years, it has gotten even more battered.

Recently, I went to a shop that specializes in restoring cowboy hats. They told me that they could steam this hat and reshape it, but that I would probably lose the sweat stain at the band in the process...

...The sweat stain that got there in the first place because Bud fretted so much over me - me catching a tarantula or me pulling on a bull's ear or me eating leeches…

I told them no thanks.



Some blooms for Bloomsday paired with prose inspired by Molly’s “Yes” soliloquy at the end of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

If you don’t like it, I suggest wandering around Dublin drinking pint after pint of Guinness and wailing like Homer until you do.

Or you can try looking at last year’s post - although I’m not sure that will do you any good, either...

Happy Bloomsday!


No I wont No I said no even if his heart is going like mad no and he can feel my breasts all perfume no I will push him away because I am a mountain flower

and I will say no even when my eyes ask again and again no it is not just as well one as another and a kiss under the Moorish wall means nothing whether I wear a red or a blue no or if there is a rose in my hair Andalusian or otherwise no I am not a girl from Gibraltar I am not a girl at all I am a Flower of the mountain

no because rosegardens and jessamine are not rhododendrons running wild through the pines stretching tall leaning against redwoods as they grow old and beautiful so you can keep your castles and your carts and your market and your shops and your governors and your kings and your watchmen and your gardens and your houses and all of those boys

they chain you like your namesake you wait and weave then untangle night after night staving off the inevitable taking your shelter under a shroud of death while watching your girlhood vanish

but all birds fly for sailors and for Spanish girls and for me too so I will take all the pleasure I can I will look out over the sea and sky and if he asks me to say no I will not lead him on even if I am thinking so many things he does not know

I will not get round him I will go through him

he does not understand or feel what a woman is

the sun may shine for me today but tomorrow it will rain

my body is not some caged rose chained to its bed my body is wild my body is a Flower of the mountain

no he said do not lose your breath no matter how long the kiss or how many the years or leapyears I will eat that seedcake myself

I do not want him to propose to me no I want him to shed his tweed suit and straw hat and not lie on me or to me but walk with me under the rhododendrons

the sun sets for you he said the moon rises for you he said the rain pours for you

he lies I already know for certain that all of it was not made for me by somebody or anybody there was nobody who made it all and conscience doesnt matter there is no right and wrong even filth deserves beauty life does what it does an atheist is as bad as a priest no one can say what comes after for everything that is created something must be destroyed if there is no learning then there is no life molly snap your fingers all you want they are saying there is no god because there is no god.


The Flash Of A Cut.

Porcelain flesh

Why do you blush?

I look

But I dare not touch.

My softest embrace

Would leave you crushed.

Your sweetest taste

Would turn me to dust.

A bruise aches longer

Than the flash of a cut.


Flesh Machine.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about bodies lately.

Specifically, I've been thinking a lot about how women view their own bodies, and how women feel about the way their bodies are viewed by others. I’d like to write further on this topic, but I have to think about it some more. I have conflicting feelings. It’s complicated. And every time I bring this subject up to another woman, something bad happens. It’s true; don’t ask me to explain. So I’m having trouble working through it, is what I’m saying.

But as I was trying to work through it, I got to thinking of not only my womanly self, but also of my corporeal self.

I’m fascinated with the notion that I putter through this existence in my little flesh machine, interacting with the other flesh machines, until the point at which my own flesh machine is ultimately either wrecked or worn out.

(It’s strange, but I consider the entity that I call “I” as being distinct from my body. It’s a symbiotic relationship, to be sure, but ultimately one party is the host, the other is the parasite. The body is there to house the “I,” and the “I” has to cope with the frustrations it encounters as a result of being restricted to living in the body. And when the flesh machine ultimately breaks down, the “I” abandons it for Whatever Is Next. Which might be nothing. Or it might be something. No “I” knows for sure.)

I’m also intrigued by the idea that the bug creatures are puttering through existence in their bug-flesh machines, and the bird creatures are puttering through existence in their bird-flesh machines, and the cat creatures are puttering through existence in their cat-flesh machines… And that even though our machines interact with each other, the vast differences between our respective machineries causes each creature to interpret existence in radically different ways. Yet despite this, my machine is not so different from the snail machine or the ant machine. Flesh. Skeleton. Guts. Limited and finite. Easily squished by something bigger…

(Warning: This blog post gets even weirder. If you’re not interested in a juvenile discussion of genitals juxtaposed against a careful and introspective examination of your own corporeal state, I’m telling you right now, read no further. And especially if you’re trying to read this while you eat - seriously, move along.)

A few years ago on my birthday, I went to a Body Worlds exhibit at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. For the uninitiated, let me explain… There’s this German guy named Gunther von Hagens who has perfected a remarkable method of preserving the human body called “plastination.” Basically, von Hagens preserves corpses by infusing the tissue with a specific kind of plastic, then puts the results on display all over the world.

And in case you're interested in the world beyond the human flesh machine - Who isn't? - Von Hagens doesn’t limit himself to the plastination of people. If you’re going to be in Cologne, Germany over the next few weeks, you can swing by the zoo and catch von Hagens’ exhibit of plastinated animals, called "Korperwelten der Tiere." Above is von Hagens with the plastinated corpse of an elephant.

But back to the human world of Body Worlds. The cadavers that are on display in this exhibit are the real, actual bodies of humans who have left their remains to science in the hopes of being useful after their deaths. In fact, Hagens’ Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg has 9,000 pledges on file from individuals who want their bodies plastinated after they die. It’s taxidermy to the extreme - preserving the flesh machine for all eternity in the hopes of helping the rest of us understand our own flesh machines.

(Just for the record, plastination is not for me. Oh sure. Being put naked on public display for the world to gawk at for all eternity seems like a good idea in theory. In theory. But although immortal fame fanned by morbid curiosity SOUNDS cool, I have something else in mind. Yep. I've said it once and I'll say it again: Viking Funeral.)

I visited the Body Worlds exhibit along with some of my braver students. (At the time, I was a lecturer at USC.) Before we entered the exhibit, I pointedly emphasized the fact that these bodies we were about to view had, at one time, been living human beings with living human feelings. Thus, we all needed to take care to adopt an appropriately respectful attitude when viewing the exhibit.

Now, before you judge...

Von Hagens plastinates and positions the cadavers in humanizing poses rather than in the more traditional positions you would find in a standard anatomy textbook (although there are more traditionally-scientific displays, too).

It seems clear that von Hagens wishes to impose upon the average exhibit viewer a profound connection with their own corporeality, while at the same time being respectful to the corpses he has placed on display.

So while this plastinated corpse of a guy playing basketball is a little jarring to look at at first, I get it. The idea is to represent pure physicality. To present a corpse, but in a very vibrant and vital way.

The same goes for this skateboarder. Although this is a plastinated corpse, this figure appears animated. Pulsating. “Alive,” even.

The saxophone player gets a little more abstract for me...

As does the guitar player. But still... Music is a pursuit of the mind, and the mind and body are intimately connected, as I mentioned earlier.

So I'm still with von Hagens at this point.

But then you come to exhibits like this one. What am I to make of this?

Or this? How does dressing a cadaver like a pirate increase my scientific knowledge of the human body? Or increase my awareness of my own mortality via a better understanding of the finiteness of my corporeal existence?

Sweet parrot, by the way.

Pictures of von Hagens posing with his creations were on display all over the exhibit. Here's a photo of von Hagens mirroring one of his own creations - the two are dressed in matching hats.

This sort of whimsical attitude wasn't making me feel any better, though. In fact, as I moved from exhibit to exhibit, I grew increasingly uncomfortable with some of the choices that had been made for the cadavers.

For instance, why leave hair on some of the female cadavers when most (if not all) of the male cadavers are bald? Without the hair, I viewed the corpses as human first - before I even thought about gender. Leaving the hair on the female corpses had the distinct effect of objectifying them by highlighting their gender. Must women be sexualized, even in death? I mean, even though this cadaver is engaged in a (stereotypically female) athletic endeavor, she’s posed in a highly-sexualized way…

And don’t even get me started on this one. If you drew up a list of all the stereotypically sexual poses for women, this pose would have to be pretty close to the top. In fact, most of the cadavers were posed along strict gender stereotypes, with the female cadavers posed in passive, sexually-suggestive ways and the male cadavers posed in a more heroic and aggressive manner.

And so as I walked around from exhibit to exhibit, I began to wonder… Is this science or is this sensationalism?

There’s a long tradition of putting corpses on display for sensationalistic purposes, after all.

From political figures like Lenin…

To religious icons like Padre Pio…

To outlaws like Dillinger…

To ordinary Victorians who used to pose for photographs with the corpses of their loved ones before they were buried…

...There’s a longstanding tradition among humans of sensationalizing corpses.

And I gotta say, many of the Body Worlds corpses appeared as if they were being treated in a sensationalistic matter.


Sensationalistic or not, though, looking at that many dead bodies all at once is rattling. You look at these perfectly-preserved flesh machines of once-living humans, and you definitely get a sense of the finite nature of your own flesh machine. That’s disconcerting.

It probably didn’t help that my students and I were visiting the exhibit at night. At that time, the California Science Center was keeping its doors open for twenty-four hours to accommodate the overwhelming number of patrons wanting to view the Body Worlds exhibit. The place was packed, and even though I was taking advantage of a “midnight viewing,” I nonetheless realized that prowling around a museum in the dark of night viewing corpses alongside the hordes of other LA vampires highlighted the more sensationalistic and macabre aspects of this exhibit.

Worse, as I snaked my way through the displays wondering whether or not this environment provided an adequate atmosphere of reverence and respect for the dead, the elderly woman behind me in line couldn’t stop talking about the corpse’s penises.

I wish I were kidding, but I’m not. As we moved from cadaver to cadaver, this octogenarian pointed at the penis on every single one - EVERY SINGLE ONE - and exclaimed, “Wow! Just look at that pecker!”

(I know at this point in the blog post, you’re gonna need a minute to scroll back through all of the photos I’ve posted to check out all of the penises on the cadavers. Go ahead. I’ll wait.)

Now, to be fair, the elderly woman with the penis fixation was rolling through the exhibit in a wheelchair, which meant that the crotches of all of the displays were right at eye-level for her.


“That’s not a bad pecker there.”

“I’ve seen some peckers in my day, and I’m here to tell you that the pecker on this one is nice.”

“On the other hand, this one’s pecker I don’t like quite so much. I just don’t like its looks…”

So, despite my best efforts to project an attitude of somber gravitas for my students, I am only a human woman, and my flesh machine and I can only bear so much.

Long story short: Once I started laughing, I couldn’t stop.

I. Could. Not. Stop.

Not when my students stared at me disapprovingly. Not when the docent approached me and admonished me to behave. Not when confronted repeatedly with examples of my own corporeal mortality. Because those flesh machines, even in death, had peckers worthy of comment.

Ever get kicked out of a museum for disrupting the viewing experience of the other museum patrons?

Well, that’s the SECOND time it has happened to me.

And for the longest time, I felt guilty over my inability to hold my shit out of respect for the dead.

Until I saw this.

This is a walking stick made out of a bull’s penis.

More specifically, this is a “Blood vessel configuration of the reproductive organs of a bull, with the testis as horizontal knob and the penis as stick.”

Von Hagens sells them from the Body Worlds on-line store, which you can link to from the home page. A steal for $3,625!

Dear Santa,

I have been nothing but naughty so far this year, but if redeeming myself means that you’ll bring me a bull penis walking stick, then I’ll start being nice right away. If the bull penis walking stick is too expensive, then I’ll settle for this:

This is a necklace featuring a cross-slice of a horse’s penis that Von Hagens sells for seventy-five bucks. I think that this would be a really sweet Valentine’s Day present - sure to get you laid. Make sure first that your lover has a thing for dead horse penises, though, or else the evening might not go exactly as you had planned.

So it seems as if the elderly woman in the museum isn’t the only one fixated on peckers. The difference being that she - unlike von Hagens - doesn’t sell peckers for profit.

That we know of.

Now THAT'S a pecker.