Signifier vs. signified: “Beware of Dog” – image of a snarling Doberman – while inside, I see only a grizzled, exhausted-looking Golden Retriever, head resting on paws.

Made friends today also with a miniature Pomeranian named Ruby.

Story of my life: brought the old-lady shopping cart all the way to Boro Park to the nearest copy shop (not so near). But it’s Sukkot, and it was closed, and all the men were walking around with palm fronds they’d bought to decorate their sukkahs. Oh well.

Trying to copy poems for my second PoProj workshop – the focus of our next meeting is “using really old language.” So… John McNally (Milton), Susan Howe (various) , Jen Bervin (Shakespeare), Gary Sullivan (olde English), Bernadette Mayer (Catullus), Rick Snyder (Catullus)… and myself (Herbert). Oh yeah, and of course David Melnick (Homer).

Joel Kuszai, sleepy after his reading at the BPC on Saturday, sitting on our couch watching selected Bollywood scenes: “It’s like a dream come true.” We think so, too.

I’m exhausted, trying to regroup after the SF whirlwind and face the coolness of autumn at the same time.

Thinking of dinner last Saturday, sitting next to an experimental fiction writer (she adored Brossard and above all, Stein) who asked me what my work was like. “It’s verse, mainly,” I said. “Sort of vaudevillian, melodrama, and invective.” “I like the invective,” she said. Yeah, OK, the invective passes the po-mo shibboleth. Why not the vaudeville? “Does the song and dance enter your work?” she asked, surveying me through her glasses I want to call bauhaus-y. “Yes.”

New York — hard angles, gum spots.

Where’s the rose geranium, the lavender, the rosemary all infused with bright sun and bay breezes? Oh well, New York remains ugly and glamorous.

Kasey’s phrase on the back of Stephanie’s book, “Let Stephanie Young take you into her confidence…” seeped into my consciousness until I thought it was my own. It’s not :- ( — but it’s so apt. That is exactly what her poems do, not so much as “confession” but as “let’s interact” and also, “be here with me.”

I want to write more about it but have to go to work. More anon.

One learns so much about American culture from the Home Improvements Catalog.

On page 16, there is an ad for a pet stairway that helps a rheumatic Rover get up on the sofa.

On page 47, they feature an electronic “scat mat” that sends a signal to your pet’s collar to “produce a harmless but unpleasant shock stimulus”… to keep Snoopy off the sofa.

It’s no wonder that our government has such uneven policies for the treatment of prisoners and detainees, when you consider the contradictions in these approaches of its citizenry to their four-legged companions-who-are-also-in-a-way-prisoners.

A note on one of our household prisoners: Nemo, a water-fearer, loves to curl up in the bathroom sink while I’m showering. I coo to him from the other side of the plastic curtain. He could be anywhere! But that he should be there near me and the scary water, shows me the profundity of his trust in me. I may be jailor to him, but I am also mama, and paramour.

I am aware of the high- or innovative-culture taboo against writing about cats – this despite Christopher Smart, Natsume Soseki, and TS Eliot (not to mention Carolee Schneemann, who really gets cats). I think of Annie Hall, the scene in the bookstore where Woody Allen, as the oppressive male principle, is trying to get the ingenuous Diane Keaton to “put down that cat book” and read something depressing. That’s because (and this is hardly an original observation) cats are inexorably feminine – male ones too. Cats’ exhibitions of pleasure are girly, the way they arch their backs, glow with satisfaction, rub up against surfaces. Alvy Singer (Woody) wants to masculinize Annie, toughen her up for a broody neurotic NYC life with him. But he can’t, finally, defeat her cat nature, and she ends up self-actualized, purring and mewing a song into a microphone at a nightclub.

Trying to trivialize a cat is like trying to trivialize a woman – strategic – an attempt to neutralize – and profoundly inaccurate. There is nothing trivial about a cat. The pathos of mouthless Kitty Chan has inspired countless poems, largely because she is an impossibility – a cat without a scratchy tongue and fangs and breath smelling of meal and animals, a cat without cat pee and claws and heat and moods. Dante’s frequent insane pouncing around chirruping chasing own tail in nutty bursts. They are real and alive and flexible and vigilant, pure intelligence (even dumb cats like Dante, who is an endearingly dim bulb). It’s an intelligence different from ours but in some ways superior. What’s more intelligent – an animal who creates sophisticated weapons and information systems and cultural codes – or an animal who sleeps all day and plays at night? I mean, really?

Anyway, I don’t understand people who hate cats. I can understand fearing them, or being allergic to them, or not understanding them, but I don’t understand hating them.