Baseball, Art, and A Little Moon Magic

What do sports, sculpture, and Apollo have to do with each other? Easy. It’s how I summer.

Remember last year when my brother and I went to the Cyclones game on Seinfeld night and watched the Seinclones play? This year, we rooted for the Marble Ryes. And we took the same picture.

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Also included were: a Spare A Square face-off in which teams unrolled TP rolls by wrapping them around their partners; a Marble Rye Toss which was an egg toss using a loaf of marble rye; and an AssMan contest in which two grown men sat on balloons to pop them. Of course, there was an Elaine Dance Contest, and the woman who won was outstanding and not even in costume. She simply had the moves.

We’d sat next two a group of men, three adults and a child maybe around 5, and they left during the 4th inning with the oldest mumbling to me, I’m surprised we made it to almost the 5th. This little boy was happy when he was eating, so they got him a huge ice cream cone but didn’t get napkins, so he was covered in ice cream almost head to foot. Also making him happy was the destruction of four Fusilli Jerry figurines. Oh, the travesty!

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Outdoor art makes me happy. My photo-poet-stunt-team friend and I went to Old Westbury Gardens to take pictures. There were some creepy statues around for an exhibit about balance. Once was diving head-first into the lawn donning a bright blue swimsuit. It was weird. Some statues, however, were pretty like the dancer-inspired ones. There was also a marionette puppet thingie up in a tree. Looming. Like if it had been nighttime, it would have come to life and went all Blair Witch on everyone. Anyway, photos were fun, and I’ve got some new head shots along with some very fun vibes.

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Indoor art makes me happy as we learned when we first kicked off the summer at the Nassau County Museum of Art. Because I’m on the ‘Gram all the time now (seriously, I need to lock myself out of my account for a while), I caught a friend’s story that included a piece by the artist Jen Stark (which I found out only after DMing him and making him go through all his past posts until he found the one I was looking for). She had an exhibit at the Joshua Liner Gallery, so I went to that the day I had some time to kill before a focus group (one of my many side hustles). Right around the corner was the Heller Gallery that had very expensive glass pieces that I made damn sure not to bump into or knock over because this gal can’t afford broken artwork and also an exhibit called Collaborations with Queer Voices.

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Jen Stark’s work

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Mesmerized by the pricing, I didn’t catch the artist’s name.

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Alok Vaid-Menon

Also, I have a new favorite poetry reading series, and it’s at an art gallery called Industry. At the last reading, I found a friend.

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Fifty years ago, Apollo 11 touched down on the moon. On the exact anniversary at the exact time, the Cradle of Aviation Museum lowered a 1/3-sized replica onto their makeshift moon surface. Everyone there waved flags and cheered. It was quite the scene. Outside, there were moon buggies for children to ride around in and pick up fake space rocks. I was not allowed to ride the moon buggies. Sigh. However, I sat in a 70s-style living room to watch the footage of Armstrong stepping down. I also went into the IMAX theatre to watch CNN’s documentary on Apollo 11 with never-before-seen footage. This is proof of how much I love my mom; IMAX makes me dizzy as soon as I’m in the theatre, even with nothing on the screen. She was in heaven all day long. It was a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day after the actual day (yep, I give good presents). And now we’re members of the museum because we got discounted snacks if we joined.

 

Additionally, I melted during the heatwave with no A/C. It’s by choice. I don’t like air conditioning, so every summer, I debate about whether or not to put in my air conditioner. Last summer, it was hot three days, and I was okay. This summer, it was hot three days, and I walked around my house cursing at myself. So maybe next year, I’ll cave and put in my a/c. But then again, maybe not. Because this is how I summer.

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I Walked With Whitman

The Walt Whitman Birthplace invited me to host and read and sign books as part of their Walking With Whitman community reading series and it was exhilarating!

Some things that happened:

I made sure everyone knew it was National Donut Day.

A small workshop of poets introduced each other and read poems aloud using the skills they are developing in the workshop.

First Poet Laureate of Suffolk County and Writer-In-Residence George Wallace introduced me.

Former Poet Laureate of Suffolk County Robert Savino was there.

More than several people who didn’t know me before the reading were clearly trying to find out my age. Instead of asking me how old I am, they were asking all the questions I usually get when I know someone is trying to figure it out. The most obvious one is How long have you been teaching? Usually, I say Forever, which is of no help. Then several people also told me, You’re too young to remember but…. And I nodded because sure, why not still be too young to remember? Which doesn’t make any sense when you think about it. To be clear, I’m not annoyed when this happens. I think it’s funny. I have no concept of age, and I frequently forget how old I am if I’m not in a rounded-number-year, like 50. So let’s call me 50 for now.

Two comics were there and were inviting people to come to a maybe-maybe-not-super-secret-speakeasy that was also a hip hop recording studio. A discussion of this venue led to a discussion that confused Jake Tapper and John Taffer, which I very much enjoyed. Since I had plans for coffee because I may or may not be an old lady or child out past my bedtime, I had to decline checking out the venue, which is a pity because stand-up comedy is one of my favorite things in the world. Also, one of them asked if I thought I was funny, to which I responded, Yes, I’m hilarious.

[Sidenote: During one of the year-end student readings, a student from another class asked me if I do improv because I’m funny. Who needs the potential flopsweat of improv when you’ve got a captive audience in a classroom?]

As usual, I held court because I. Cannot. Stop. Teaching.

Christina M. Rau reading

Photo by George Wallace

The open mic included the musings of Tom D’Angelo, Russ Green, Mary Healey, Dan Brown, and several other poets who were simply wonderful souls.

As usual, I made a crazy poet face.

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Photo by George Wallace

The band 1 Step Ahead played, and they are brilliantly talented and everyone should book them for everything.

The Q&A was basically me mentioning 2001 A Space Odyssey about 2001 times.

There were snacks. I ate grapes. They were good.

I ran out of copies of Liberating The Astronauts. Never before have I seen such an engaged audience and sold that many books. Poetry! Is! Lucrative! (not really, but it’s nice to not have to carry back home such a heavy bag of books).

[Sidenote: if you would like a copy of For The Girls, I,  WakeBreatheMove, or Liberating The Astronauts, check out my books page for information on how to do that. Are they sold on Amazon? I have no idea, but instead of Amazon, maybe order from the small presses or from me directly.]

I am so grateful to WWBP and the people who came out to share an evening of words and music.

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Photo Courtesy of Robert Savino

“Opposition Night” Is Nominated For A Rhysling Award !

So thankful and excited to learn that “Opposition Night” is nominated for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award in the Long Poem Category. This poem appears in Liberating The Astronauts (Aqueduct Press 2017). Here it is in case you’re interested in reading (or voting!).

Opposition Night

I.
You need a supersonic parachute for landing
and even then, it’s still tricky, a terrifying
seven minutes.
You need these simple interplanetary
wads of sticks inspired by
those egg drop experiments in high school
physics. They’ll cushion the impact.

When you awake to see the new horizon,
you’ll need your rations followed by
freeze dried ice cream for dessert.
Then you can begin the mining project.
Resource extraction, that kind of thing.
Once you’re there, life is easy.

II.
A six month road trip to the red planet
and farther: Jupiter, Saturn, alongside
the asteroid belt—possible only in a
sleep state.
No roadside pit stops at hole-in-the-wall
diners, no waitresses in white sneakers
named Luanne.
No off-road shoulder dust kicking up
and settling down on a hood and
through a window ajar.
Only the pod, fitting six, tentatively
called Copernicus, hurling itself
through as humans hibernate
like bears. Only you’re not a bear.
And you’re not on Earth.

III.
Photovoltaic power is all the rage!
Asteroid ablation! Comet ablation!
Every kind of ablation you could desire!
A plume of heat and laser light and
Kapow! Kablooey! Kaboom!

IV.
Even with a strong core
I can’t roller skate.
Melanie mocks me
when her voice comes over
the 70s station.
The starting isn’t a problem.
It’s the stopping that poses
concern.

I need a magnetoshell,
like the ones the engineers
are tweaking for the spacecrafts—
a force field generator that uses
magnetized plasma that would
slow me down upon approach
to anything that I might want
to not crash into.
A building.
A sidewalk.
A tree.

V.
A disappeared notice.
Appearance oddities.
A paraded centipoise.
Panacea diode stripe.
A paradise deception.
Paranoic seeded pit.
Sanitaria decode pep.
Eradicated aeon pips.
Arcade opiates pined.

VI.
To harness all energy
green gold silver
liana lariat lasso
telegraphed from arm to
quasi star non moon

A trap door unhatched
impossible to repair

Catch solar
Clasp wind

Stay aloft as long
until
the asteroid becomes the ship.

VII.
Icy moon
after
icy moon
ocean
under the surface.

If sound could travel
the ice would moan
shifting and old and heavy.

VIII.
Pluto non planet — photographed only in echoes

IX.
Decades spent tooling around
crashing and breaking down

all that debris floats in
angular momentum
its own orbit self-paced.

The dust sits there
a still cloud.

X.
We missed Mars.
It approached Earth over
the weekend, coming
thisclose
as the sun spun to the Earth’s
other side. When the sun set,
the red planet rose, neighboring
the almost full moon, shining
almost as bright as Jupiter.

In its brightness, its redness lessened—
gradient shades of warmth, I suppose.

I was inside, away from windows,
preoccupied with mundane matters
that matter only every day—
what time the sun will come back up
when the hedges will be trimmed
what kind of planet I’ll leave behind
when I leave.

Retropost: Book Launch and Big Wins (Dec2017)

Liberating The Astronauts came out in March. Because of launch technical issues (i.e. every place I contacted about setting up a launch fell through), it officially launched at Sip This in December. Since it was a Poets In Nassau event, and I don’t like featuring for the group I founded, I set it up as a community writing event complete with trivia, prizes, writing prompts, an open mic, and then my own featured reading. It was a fun night.

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Some sort of poetry dance

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Dd. Spungin, host

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Obligatory writer photo

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Oprah Imitation

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Peter V. Dugan, Nassau County Poet Laureate

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Friend

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I literally can’t stop teaching.

Eddie’s sister and our nieces visited for a whirlwind tour of NYC. They’d never been to the city before, so it was fun seeing their faces as we walked through crowds and crowds. The worst crowd was the fifteen minute one-block walk across from Saks. Otherwise, it was pretty and quite warm. Not only did we see the Rock Center tree, but we saw the tree at Bryant Park and one in St. Patrick’s. We saw the Macy’s store windows and the Saks windows and light show. Next time, maybe we’ll see the Rockettes.
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Then I won something. As usual, it was from an odd place. This time, a Capn Crunch box. When they said I’d won a cornhole game, I figured it was a cute little table game. Fast forward to a 60 pound box outside the front door. It is now stored under our bed because we have no place else to put it.
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The rest of December was all holiday cheer. I bought these mini cookies from Southpaw Sweets that got devoured on Christmas Eve.
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Additionally, these two mugs I got as presents sum up everything about who I am.
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