It Isn’t

This photo wasn’t accidental!  This was a smile for you!

Don’t forget that The Used World discussion is coming up soon, and I’m still just sitting here patiently waiting for anyone to request a free copy.  Free shipping!  You really can’t beat that.

As promised, a poem a day until we begin the book discussion.  Please don’t mistake this for ego on my part; I’d print poems that make mine look as if they were written by one of my mastiffs, but there are copyright issues to which I’d rather not lose my house, my car, my family, and my taxidermy.


It Isn’t

            (for Leslie Staub)


The priest drinks his tea, takes in the view

of my room, neutral.  He asks, is there nothing

here you find sacramental? I am not

meant to answer, or else I am to say

I enjoy my souvenirs, thank you very much.

But I say yes, I know, yes, what is sacred

to me in this room in this barn where I sit

in silence, where sometimes I am wholly still

and when I rejoin my senses there is dust on my hands,

things have changed I’ve been gone so long,

the air is filled with a noise like a knife point,

and the candle wick has drawn down, drowned. 


I tell the priest there is one holy frame, and inside

is a painting of a philosopher and mathematician. 

In his body of work there is a single sentence

concerning robbery, and the artist has painted

the words on a metaphor held between his hands, or

perhaps he is holding a raven who speaks

them on a red banner, or the sentence is an

equation.  I do not understand what he means,

robbery, and so the puzzle becomes my baptism,

my metamorphosis.  I love his face, his old

hands, his helpless God, his faith in the reconciliation

of opposing forces.  In the painting,

invisible to everyone but me, there is a shadow,

and it’s nothing, just him, just the philosopher

and me standing in a window

watching the snow fall on Cambridge.  The painting

is my sole testimony, and not just because of the snow

or the riddle or raven, but because the painter

is a woman who arrives when I have been still

too long, and she reads my life to me, she performs

the rites, extreme unction, and I would want no one

to paint him but her, I would turn my face away

from any other rendering.  Only her and only him,

the three of us a society.


The priest looks at the white wall in front of me.

I say yes, yes.  That’s where it isn’t.

Published in: on October 27, 2008 at 4:04 pm  Comments (149)  


  1. Another, WOw!

  2. Wow, wow to the poem! And lord, you are striking Haven!

  3. You are rockin’ my socks with these poems.

  4. Hey I want one! Please! Used World.

  5. On October 27, 2008 at 4:50 pm Amy -in Ohio Said:
    Wow, wow to the poem! And lord, you are striking Haven!

    Doen’t she tho? She looks like how chocolate tastes!
    Look at that fore-head! It would be fun to see teeny-tiny airplanes land on it and take off from it.

    She looks like a gypsy fortune teller.

    Gaed!! Look at the size of that fist! She should be a bartender…

  6. It’s been hailing on and off for two days – Now it’s snowing GIANT flakes!

  7. You could go outside and take a big piece of cardboard or plywood and WAVE it at the clouds, and if you did it hard enough maybe they’d go somewhere else…

    Hey, I’m no Jack Kennedy.

  8. No need for free copies, because, girlfriend, you are one of the handful of authors I always buy in hardback!

  9. I am using the library’s copy of The Used World.

    And I liked that poem. But not as much as the other one.


  10. a stillness so profound, it leaves dust on her hands and supersedes time…I have images to ponder tonight as I walk my dogs.

    As for me and my Used World. It’s a keeper. It was on my chair waiting for me — a gift from a good friend — when I got back from a vacation this summer. My first Haven Kimmel book. It’s mine. I’ll lend it, but never give it away.

  11. Haven, this is the one that has done me in.

  12. I swear I believe my mother has paid you to say these things. She’s not above it, you know.

  13. Matt, will send one out tomorrow, friend.

  14. I would absolutely love a copy, Haven it would mean a lot to me actually.

  15. I would love a copy. Thank you for the offer.

  16. I love how each time you read a poem you get a bit more each time…

    I wonder…did Leslie ever paint it for you?

  17. huh, a quiet, beautiful poem and a free book? Yup, sign me up, if that’s ok? I’d love a Used World, the book, I’m not so in love with the one I’m living in. It would sit nicely next to my Something Rising. I am so often taken by surprise at the generosity of authors – you just keep putting those words out there and I’ll just keep reading them up!

  18. “That’s where it isn’t.” Wow…I am having some life problems right now (I know, who isn’t?) but when I read that, it makes me think about EVERYTHING in my life at the moment. To me, that’s where everything isn’t.

    Although I have already read the library’s copy of The Used World twice, I would love to have my very own copy but will insist on paying shipping. Can’t be a total freeloader! 🙂

  19. EVERYONE OF Y’ALL WHO WOULD LIKE A BOOK: send me your full name and address to: RIGHT AWAY. I need to get them out tomorrow or you’ll be reading poetry by me until we all turn into whit leather.


  20. that wouldn’t be so bad…

  21. How sweet and kind you are…
    I have a hard copy in my bookcase! What a lovely picture, It truly shows YOU….
    Beautiful as ever!
    Aunt Julie

  22. Haven, you better go find your nurse-maid to help you with those books. 🙂

  23. Haven,

    I have one waiting at the public library, as I recall you are SCARED of the POST OFFICE anyay!



  24. Haven, that picture is stunning. No more “misshapen head” jokes please. You are what true beauty is all about.

  25. I wouldn’t be sorry to be reading your poetry until we turn into whit leather. That last line — very sharp intake of breath. Your poems are a gift.

  26. Haven,
    I would certainly appreciate you sending me a copy. Oh shoot, just saw that you said to email you directly. Will do! You are such a nice person to be doing this for your blog friends!

  27. For God’s sake Haven, how do you spin this magic web? I will pay any price to stand in this (metaphorical) room and be part of your book group. I just can’t keep up. (Wails dramatically.) I will give you a hundred dollars for your book. You just need to read it to me slowly. I am not of the Evelyn Wood group. I just look for cat ears and blue angels in the quilting world… What my sunny little quilty thing means God only knows, because that is not my current frame of mind. I used to only sing this one to myself but here goes:You Are So Beautiful To Me – Joe Cocker

    You are so beautiful to me
    You are so beautiful to me
    Can’t you see

    You’re everything I hope for
    You’re everything I need
    You are so beautiful to me
    You are so beautiful to me

    You are so beautiful to me
    Can’t you see
    You’re everything I hope for
    You’re every, everything I need
    You are so beautiful to me
    Love and sunflowers, D

  28. I would LOVE a free copy! And signed too! Oh dear, I hope I’m not too late…

  29. Dorian, I think that song is truly magnificent. But if you’ll e-mail me your address I’ll send you a book for FREE just for quoting it. How ’bout them apples?


  30. how bout them apples made me laugh really hard it been a while since I have heard that quaint (sp)saying

    our was always children should be seen and not heard

  31. I really dont do this often. So as not to bore you all but I like this a lot.

    Childhood living is easy to do
    The things you wanted I bought them for you
    Graceless lady you know who I am
    You know I cant let you slide through my hands

    Wild horses couldnt drag me away
    Wild, wild horses, couldnt drag me away

    I watched you suffer a dull aching pain
    Now you decided to show me the same
    No sweeping exits or offstage lines
    Could make me feel bitter or treat you unkind

    Wild horses couldnt drag me away
    Wild, wild horses, couldnt drag me away

    I know I dreamed you a sin and a lie
    I have my freedom but I dont have much time
    Faith has been broken, tears must be cried
    Lets do some living after we die

    Wild horses couldnt drag me away
    Wild, wild horses, well ride them some day

    Wild horses couldnt drag me away
    Wild, wild horses, well ride them some day

  32. Its not mine in case you are not familiar with M.Jagger and K.Richards

  33. I am SO not worthy of the company of everyone here and freely admit it. And while I could likely get a copy of The Used World from my outstanding local library, I simply cannot turn down the opportunity to request a copy from my Favorite. Author. Ever. {{…leaves the blog to send Haven an e-mail so she has my address, and I can’t believe I just typed that…}}

  34. I am so agreeing with the Joe Cocker song.
    I am reading TUW as fast as I can…it is striking so many personal chords…
    and the poem had me thinking of renaissance paintings I know and love….and wishing I could see it, even tho it isn’t.

  35. Haven, you are gorgeous. And kind and good and generous. AND an amazing poet. Please keep posting these. Please let’s wait a few extra days to talk about Used World because I am only on page 45ish and we need to give all these fine folks time to receive their copies and read it. Plus, we need more poems. Ok, I need more poems. Can’t speak for anyone else.

  36. CarolinKansas-Didn’t it just make you giggle out of pure amazement to be sending an email so casually to the women who wrote a book that made you call your mom after you read it laughing with tears as you told her ” Oh mom, they had a cold house too and it was messy and there were mice and her dad always had nice things but was still a kind man that you couldn’t really be mad at.”
    I remember once I had started seeing a new therapist in college and we were getting into the whole family story/background intro and she asked as she wrote on her clipboard “So was there any physical abuse.” And I answered , No!!Just shocked she would ask that. My dad was just selfish and didn’t give 2 shits that he had a new car but our furnace didn’t work. But a helluva nice guy.

  37. Oh Haven, send me what you will. My email is I want to pay for all you have given me. Send me a bill. And a hedgehog. I love those.

  38. You know, we played Wild Horses during our wedding march, and I don’t think I ever fully realized the lyrics before. Oh well, my husbands British so it goes without saying some Stones must be played. Thanks my favorite Matt.

  39. Oh, yes, Amy–exactly! I am pinching myself many times a day…

    My dad always (and I do mean always) looked like he just stepped out of a fashionable men’s wear store (no lie…he used to do modeling for one!) while my mom SEWED our clothes, AFTER she got home from working at a job that she couldn’t even drive to as we only had one car (which he had and for what?), and after she made us dinner…and did I mention he changed jobs almost monthly and over a short time worked at every radio station in the city we lived in, if he was working at all. But he was charming and good-looking and I was the envy of my friends, and I know just what you mean. What a place this is!

  40. O.k. why the hell does everyone keep saying they are not worthy of such company? Bullshit.

    I got this in my email from a friend. I believe it’s his way of saying he has a cold, but I’m just guessing. heh

    Hello my friends,

    I’m frantically writing this because I have a large wrench stuck in my left nostril.

    Do you recommend tying the exposed end to a doorknob, or should I simply shake my head vigorously?

    It’s been rather embarrassing to walk around with this thing; especially when I went shopping for some gifts at Magnet World this past August.

    The whole situation arose when I got my head stuck in my toolbox and sneezed abruptly.

    PLEASE NOTE: I strongly advise AGAINST running with a toolbox on your head.

    I really expected sneezing to expel enough air to prevent such a strange conjugation. However, as most Indonesian pharmacists know, only powdered ant toenails are effective in delaying contagious cake tosses.

    Well, enough of my desperate pleas for garbanzo bean lubricants. Please enjoy your debris – free nostrils. Also if you would be so kind, pass the word that butterflies taste really nasty. It seems they are not made of butter at all!!

    I must rest now before another trip to Rust – O – Rama.

    Thanks always for your joyous outbursts while my pet limestone is sleeping.

    Until next time, remember to drink 80 glasses of water each hour and smile often.

    Happy Morkle Train,

    Ibbik G. Hefflebonk
    a.k.a. “Mr. Wimp Nose”
    1424 Phlegm Way
    Honken, Nosania 871RR

  41. Yikes

  42. To Michael T…

    my husband said, “how ’bout them apples?” this very night before I got on the computer, I kid you not.

  43. I say that aaaall the time. And yes, I DO like them apples!

  44. PLEASE NOTE: I strongly advise AGAINST running with a toolbox on your head.

    I really expected sneezing to expel enough air to prevent such a strange conjugation. However, as most Indonesian pharmacists know, only powdered ant toenails are effective in delaying contagious cake tosses.

    Well, enough of my desperate pleas for garbanzo bean lubricants. Please enjoy your debris – free nostrils. Also if you would be so kind, pass the word that butterflies taste really nasty. It seems they are not made of butter at all!!

    I must rest now before another trip to Rust – O – Rama. Alrighty then. Why are these posts like tibetan horoscopes? Okay, since I cannot copy and paste. LOOKING IN THE MIRROR ” Awareness is a mirror reflecting the four elements. Beauty is a heart that generates love and a mind that is open.” Thich Nhat Hahn.

    Thanks always for your joyous outbursts while my pet limestone is sleeping.

    Until next time, remember to drink 80 glasses of water each hour and smile often.

  45. We’ll definitely put off THE USED WORLD discussion for awhile so I can get these books to everyone and give them time to read them. Wouldn’t that be just the biggest suck, if I sent out the books and the day they arrived I was all like, “Here we go! Be real smart!”

  46. Holy Garbanzo beans, Who just said that? Not me. Night all. Pleasant dreams.

  47. Haven, I have had that bad dream many times. It often involves high school and nudity.

  48. Kate, my dream involving nudity took place at Hallmark and JC Penney’s… suddenly nude in a Hallmark, tried to hide behind the counter only to realize it was glass, went to Penney’s to get clothes only to realize that I had no wallet. Really, where was I supposed to keep it?!? In my snood?

  49. Do I want to know what a snood is?

  50. drawn down, drowned…such a powerful, evocative use of alliteration. i re-read that whole line about 45 times. it works perfectly.

  51. Sure you do Carol. Here’s a hint: it’s a line from “Holiday Inn”

  52. Okay sock monkey, now you’ll have to do better than that. I have a sick two year old and I am getting old so no using the brain tonight..

  53. Sock, that was the best use of snood I have EVER heard. I went through a post-goth phase when I wore dresses from the 1940’s with spectator pumps and a black snood. I’ll admit, it was hot.

  54. Aunt Julie, what a sweet and loving thing to say. Especially from someone who has known me longer than I’ve known myself.


  55. If anyone is awake on the west coast, write me for the love of Yahweh. I’m going to be up all night addressing these envelopes and signing books. I’m even listening to country music LOUDLY and am still drooping.

    Thank you.

  56. Elizabeth and Dorian, I don’t have an address for you. Let me check again, but I don’t think so.

  57. My conversation with my hubby tonight:

    Hubby: “here is the check for Lauren’s braces”

    Me: “F____ me!”

    Hubby: “What? It’s the same as mine and Dylan’s”

    Me: ” So do I get to buy 220 books?!”

  58. Haven, Seriously. Are you as wealthy as Hugh Hefner? And how do you find the time to do all of this? I cannot even keep my journal up to date. And my writing coach just canceled her reading (of her own material) at my party this Thursday. And that means she will not be critiquing my latest work. OH well. Best the world not know what a lunatic I really am anyway. The working title was “Diary of a Lunatic.” Sylvia Plath it is not. Thank Yahweh. I hope your health is well. I have to be up at seven so hopefully I can sleep. I need to get an ipod so I can drown out my husbands snoring and listen to Joni Mitchell and Ricki Lee Jones all night. The insomnia is an affliction I probably earned from stepping on all those cracks and killing that moth because I think it made that hole in my cashmere sweater. I am as mean as a snake. Love, D

  59. Sher, Organize a book swap with 20 of your bestest friends. It is amazing. I have 15 books I didn’t even know I needed. I found Augusten’s book while I was on vacation in P.V. Some idiot left it behind with all the steven king and pritchett and vampire books. I was on cloud nine. Until I read it. It is at my Mom’s house. I hope she reads it. She usually reads everything I read in about an hour but I bet she won’t read that one. Oh well we all have our cross to bear. HA. I am going on my itunes now. Too bad I am tethered to the computer or I could dance. Can anyone tell me how to find the version of that Mary Tyler Moore song that is on “Unzipped”? You know “Who can Turn the World on With her Smile?” or sumthing. Thanks. D

  60. Love is All Around/Joan Jett? Not sure if that’s the one — but should enjoy all-star status as one of the best covers of all time.

    (Hope this was not a Suzanne strategy (asking for a cleaning tip as code for “lighten up, y’all!”). If so, please disregard.)

  61. Hearts are worn in these dark ages
    You’re not alone in this story’s pages
    Night has fallen amongst the living and the dying
    And I try to hold it in, yeah I try to hold it in

    The world’s on fire and
    It’s more than I can handle
    I’ll tap into the water
    (I try to pull my ship)
    I try to bring more
    More than I can handle
    (Bring it to the table)
    Bring what I am able
    I watch the heavens and I find a calling
    Something I can do to change this moment
    Stay close to me while the sky is falling
    Don’t wanna be left alone, don’t wanna be alone

    Hearts break, hearts mend
    Love still hurts
    Visions clash, planes crash
    Still there’s talk of
    Saving souls, still the cold
    Is closing in on us

    We part the veil on our killer sun
    Stray from the straight line on this short run
    The more we take, the less we become
    A fortune of one that means less for some

  62. Dorian, I never have any money. I mean, I support my family and this is my house and car and whatnot, but I never have cash and I spend money like a drunken sailor on gifts and on taxidermy. I pay all my bills, but I do it by working my ass off. Many of you know that in order to meet a deadline for IODINE I stayed up five straight days. And I hang out with my kids a lot, too. Tonight I was heading out to Kinko’s to get padded mailing envelopes and my twelve-year-old was sitting on his bed reading and I said, “Back in a minute, Obadiah. I really like you!” He shouted back, “Hey, I really like you, too!” But as I’ve pointed out, my husband works like a pack-mule. It’s both in his nature (his whole family is the same way) but also he — and there’s no way to keep a secret on the Internet, except it was such an extraordinary thing to say I feel like people should know it about him — he told me the reason he does EVERYTHING for me, takes care of everything, cooks every meal, etc., is because he believes he was placed on this earth to protect my genius. Now leaving aside a moment what utter MADNESS it is to call me a genius, it is JOHN who is the most gifted person I’ve ever met. Other potters have watched him work and been left speechless. Other musicians are humbled to even sit in with him. He’s an astonishingly gifted master carpenter. He made me a dining room table out of black walnut that he didn’t varnish but coated with dozens and dozens of tongue oil. The surface is like glass.

    I forget the question. Oh, yes, how do I get so much done. I’m driven, I never stop, I talk to my mentalist every week, and I say this without the slightest amount of pride or boastfulness: I am loved by more, and more extraordinary people than I can count. I guess what I’m saying is I’m blessed. I am blessed.

  63. Dorian, who wrote that? It reminds me of a song I miss desperately by Neutral Milk Hotel. It’s not that song, but it put me in mind of it.

  64. Haven, so late abroad! – I have a theory.

  65. Carrie, tell me. Tell me anything. I’ve reached that point where there are padded envelopes and books and chaos and bags and boxes everywhere around me, not to mention like 15 Thelonious Monk CDs, and I’m fixin’ to bust a wire.

  66. Did you at least make a hat?

    It’s tricky to put this in a way it isn’t pure drivel, it could easily sound obvious, and I have to warn you, a flattery alert is going up right now, but I am convinced of my rightness and it all fits together, everything addressed in a flash, so give me a minute.

    Did you get my bracelet email?

  67. Oh. Oh. You said Thelonious. Oh, my heart of hearts, I walked over a precipice when I first heard “In Walked Bud.” The musical world changed when I heard Underground. — I so badly wanted to relate the Underground cover story, you know it? It was the taxidermy thread earlier. Do you know what I’m referring to?

  68. Haven, It was Sarah Macglauclan damn irish with their tricky names, but you know her. The song is world on fire. Just heartbreakingly beautiful, like everything you post. My whole idea lately is to just give away everything I can but it just keeps coming back to me tenfold. I do not understand how I wind up with so much. We are both blessed. You probably more deservedly so. Anyway the grizzly bear I share my hovel with is not snoring. YIPPEE KY YEAH. MF. or how ever you spell that. I don’t have to be up until 7 thirty and I am SO happy I could just die now and my life would be complete. Please send me an invoice. It just means I will get ten books for free somehow. BELIEVE ME… Here is one of my favorite Poems. By Billy Collins of course. He writes for simpletons.

    The way the dog trots out the front door
    every morning
    without a hat or an umbrella,
    without any money
    or the keys to her doghouse
    never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
    with milky admiration.

    Who provides a finer example
    of a life without encumbrance—
    Thoreau in his curtainless hut
    with a single plate, a single spoon?
    Gandhi with his staff and his holy diapers?

    Off she goes into the material world
    with nothing but her brown coat
    and her modest blue collar,
    following only her wet nose,
    the twin portals of her steady breathing,
    followed only by the plume of her tail.

    If only she did not shove the cat aside
    every morning
    and eat all his food
    what a model of self-containment she
    would be,
    what a paragon of earthly detachment.
    If only she were not so eager
    for a rub behind the ears,
    so acrobatic in her welcomes,
    if only I were not her god.

  69. I got your bracelet email (but maybe that was on the yahoo page?), and I too nearly faint when I hear ‘In Walked Bud,’ and indeed my ringtone is ‘Straight, No Chaser.’

    The Underground cover story has lost me. Refresh my broken memory.

  70. Oops. It is called “Dharma”, that poem. Leave it to me to forget to give credit where credit is due. “and there’s no way to keep a secret on the Internet, except it was such an extraordinary thing to say I feel like people should know it about him — he told me the reason he does EVERYTHING for me, takes care of everything, cooks every meal, etc., is because he believes he was placed on this earth to protect my genius. Now leaving aside a moment what utter MADNESS it is to call me a genius, it is JOHN who is the most gifted person I’ve ever met. Other potters have watched him work and been left speechless. Other musicians are humbled to even sit in with him. He’s an astonishingly gifted master carpenter. He made me a dining room table out of black walnut that he didn’t varnish but coated with dozens and dozens of tongue oil. The surface is like glass.

    I forget the question. Oh, yes, how do I get so much done. I’m driven, I never stop, I talk to my mentalist every week, and I say this without the slightest amount of pride or boastfulness: I am loved by more, and more extraordinary people than I can count. I guess what I’m saying is I’m blessed. I am blessed.” For once Haven, I am proud to say DITTO.

  71. I promise I can stay up later than any of you if it means I get to have the last word. Think I will listen to Joanie singing I wish I had a River and then check back. Obadiah, huh? I really do not understand literature at all. All I learned about Christianity was from C.S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia. Otherwise I would probably be Wicken instead of Lutheran. I thought the holey ghost was a spectre until I read those books. Wish I could read Wuthering Heights online right now.

  72. The bracelet email that had detailed specs, questions, pictures a couple days ago? I sent to the Yahoo email — shall I resend to the account earlier in this page?

  73. Gosh Haven you are so beautiful in that picture. It is like looking in the mirror. I love your smile. I could sit and stare at that picture all day. LOVE me. 😉

  74. I win.

  75. Putting aside the matter of genius for now … well, no, we won’t, because you seem be saying: John cannot, literally, mean what he says. Or, “he has to say that because he loves me.” I think we could all make our cases, but you will have to take it on faith there is no question on that point. Here is where you mayhaps missed the signs: you know how when you are so often inside yourself — alright, more than often — that what you are is all so familiar you can see nothing remarkable? There is an opacity that won’t allow for recognition of what is remarkable. You are in there, you don’t see anything out of the ordinary, it’s what you are, it is all normal in there. If reference is made to something extraordinary, which on your normal scale, is ordinary, you could easily discount it. May I suggest, ever so delicately, your normal scale is skewed? — Given time, I could be more precise, but this is almost a side issue, because it is not in dispute. (Now I tell you this because I am convinced you will not get all Eric Burdon on us.)

    But: it is exactly that skewed normal that has you expecting, and getting, the best of those not just in your immediate but also in your very peripheral sphere of influence. And you are doing it large, in public. You cultivate peace in me. I can’t be the only one. This is such a clunky way of getting at how your every word does this — your novels and memoirs and poems and your responses to people on this blog — but. That a writer of renown (yes! you!) is willing to tend publicly to that cultivation, that expansion, is extraordinary: by doing it publicly, you multiply the effect. Geometrically. This is your grassroots effect, whether you intended or no.

    Where I am truly all astonishment is that John recognized this, early on, saw it as the holy vow it had to be, and dedicated himself to being your Theo. And that you both realized it had to be done from under the same roof, or he could not do, fully, what he meant to do for you, that you could not, easily or at all, accomplish all you were meant to. Add that he is not blowing smoke, that he does not lightly promise to protect your genius: he is, after all, who he is, capable of doing anything — and we know this is not hyperbole — of providing shelter, food, emotional sustenance, children, parenting, beauty (music and art he makes for you), and he’s accomplished. At all of it. Astoundingly symmetrical coming together of circumstance, right? This is the sort of thing my theology says is not merely circumstantial. Someone who sees this extended and mindful support as a sacred undertaking is fundamental to how focused and mindful and essential an endeavor as your writing and your presence in the world (written and otherwise) promise to be. That you were of a bent to accept his help, capable of accepting it, well, there are those that might consider that miraculous, too.

    To be corny, if he’d never said it, if you’d never found a way to be together, the recognition alone would not have sustained you in this your early — and likely sustained — literary full flower. You are providing healing in your books (someday I’ll write it down, neatly and concisely — with my 10%, well 40%, editor working, which is so clearly malfunctioning tonight — because it could so easily span volumes) AND you are doing the same thing, in a very different way, through this blog. Without John’s full support, you would not spend the time you do in this community. In his mindfulness, in stating his purpose, you are the fortunate two who are creating something together, beyond the children you are sending out into the world. A life better spent, can you imagine it?

    And I’d go further, and say it is because you love the way you do that makes your presence in the world, unfettered in this way, so fundamentally healing and so essential. That you are a Quaker and are aware how powerful an exertion demonstrating profound love has on a world, that you open up easeful movement for it, well, it bodes well for public discourse. (On a personal level, this is what makes you a love-magnet.)

    It is a privilege to be at the [semi-public/private? what?] extended-trajectory unveiling of an utterly original mind, in our time. There is nothing you can’t do, with someone like John at your side. I have come to the conclusion that I must offer up that I owe a debt of gratitude to him. Does he want a bracelet, too?

  76. Dorian, Billy Collins does not write for simpletons. He writes for human beings. If you want to talk simple, and incidentally these are two of my favorite poems in the world and the first poems I ever memorized, when I was nine; how’s this?

    For Anne

    With Annie gone,
    Whose eyes to compare
    With the morning sun?

    Not that I did compare,
    But I do compare,
    Now that she’s gone.



    I almost went to bed
    without remembering
    the four white violets
    I put in the button-hole
    of your green sweater.

    And I kissed you then
    and you kissed me
    shy as though I’d
    never been your lover.

    –Leonard Cohen

  77. Dorian, I LOVE YOU.

  78. Me too, sweetie.

  79. Carrie, your post came through out of order and so I had picked up my wolverine to give it Beauty Parlor and then read what you wrote, and so many tears plopped down on his head I had to get a little wolverine towel and wipe him off.

    I can only say — and I’ve seen this from the beginning — that you write as if infused with holy spirits, and you intuit with supernatural grace. I can’t say more without causing an indignity to this beautiful animal. But you do. You do those things. YOU should be writing books. YOU should be.

  80. let us be lovers well marry our fortunes together
    Ive got some real estate here in my bag
    So we bought a pack of cigarettes and mrs. wagner pies
    And we walked off to look for america
    kathy, I said as we boarded a greyhound in pittsburgh
    michigan seems like a dream to me now
    It took me four days to hitchhike from saginaw
    Ive gone to look for america

    Laughing on the bus
    Playing games with the faces
    She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
    I said be careful his bowtie is really a camera

    toss me a cigarette, I think theres one in my raincoat
    we smoked the last one an hour ago
    So I looked at the scenery, she read her magazine
    And the moon rose over an open field

    kathy, Im lost, I said, though I knew she was sleeping
    Im empty and aching and I dont know why
    Counting the cars on the new jersey turnpike
    Theyve all gone to look for america
    All gone to look for america
    All gone to look for america

    languages +
    genres +
    links +
    Lyrics Colors Movies

  81. BTW, I do not speak all those languages.

  82. I am so glad I am not giving a wolverine Beauty Parlor right now. Thank you, Haven, for getting what to me appeared, through bleary 4am eyes, to be rambling and incoherent. And that last para, I can’t even take in what that makes me feel.

  83. You know that it would be untrue
    You know that I would be a liar
    If I was to say to you
    Girl, we couldn’t get much higher

    Come on baby, light my fire
    Come on baby, light my fire
    Try to set the night on fire

    The time to hesitate is through
    No time to wallow in the mire
    Try now we can only lose
    And our love become a funeral pyre

    Come on baby, light my fire
    Come on baby, light my fire
    Try to set the night on fire, yeah

    The time to hesitate is through
    No time to wallow in the mire
    Try now we can only lose
    And our love become a funeral pyre

    Come on baby, light my fire
    Come on baby, light my fire
    Try to set the night on fire, yeah

    You know that it would be untrue
    You know that I would be a liar
    If I was to say to you
    Girl, we couldn’t get much higher

    Come on baby, light my fire
    Come on baby, light my fire
    Try to set the night on fire
    Try to set the night on fire
    Try to set the night on fire
    Try to set the night on fire

  84. But you speak YOUR language, infinitely more interesting!

  85. Thank you also for the Billy Collins poem, Dorian. I loved the two George posted in the poetry thread, Poetry for Beginners, especially.

  86. Oh Heaven, If we are going to talk Leonard Cohen, you are way out of my league. I am more into “Stewart Saves His Family.”

  87. Why speak? This is from Queen to Carrie and Heaven. I am sure most people remember this. If they are lucky.

    Ooo. you make me live
    whatever this world can give to me
    It’s you, you’re all I see
    Ooo, you make me live now honey
    Ooo, you make me live
    You’re the best friend
    that I ever had
    I’ve been with you such a long time
    You’re my sunshine
    And I want you to know
    That my feelings are true
    I really love you
    You’re my best friend
    Ooo, you make me live
    I’ve been wandering round
    But I still come back to you
    In rain or shine
    You’ve stood by me girl
    I’m happy, happy at home
    You’re my best friend.
    You’re the first one
    When things turn out bad
    You know I’ll never be lonely
    You’re my only one
    And I love
    The things that you do
    You’re my best friend
    Ooo, you make me live.
    I’m happy, happy at home
    You’re my best friend
    You’re my best friend
    Ooo, you make me live
    You, you’re my best friend.
    (Electric Piano – John Deacon)

  88. Crossroads, seem to come and go, yeah.
    The gypsy flies from coast to coast

    Knowing many, loving none,
    Bearing sorrow havin fun,
    But back home hell always run
    To sweet melissa… mmm…

    Freight train, each car looks the same, all the same.
    And no one knows the gypsys name

    No one hears his lonely sigh,
    There are no blankets where he lies.
    In all his deepest dreams the gypsy flies
    With sweet melissa… mmm…

    Again the mornings come,
    Again hes on the run,
    Sunbeams shining through his hair,
    Appearing not to have a care.
    Well, pick up your gear and gypsy roll on, roll on.

    Crossroads, will you ever let him go? (lord, lord)
    Will you hide the dead mans ghost,
    Or will he lie, beneath the clay,
    Or will his spirit roll away?

    But I know that he wont stay without melissa.

    I have no earthly idea why this song keeps playing everywhere I go. I give the f up. Just Bring It On. I will sing it until I die.

  89. People, Haven is Miles Davis Cool in having a Straight No Chaser ringtone! — So this is the story I hesitated over and finally did not post in the taxidermy thread:

    When I was 15, my dad moved out. He didn’t have much of a clue as to how to live single, so his swingin’ friend Joel made him a short list of Albums to Seduce By. There were ten, of which I remember three whose notes I committed to memory (I can hum the solos even today): Dave Brubeck’s Take 5 and Time Further Out, and Thelonious Monk’s Underground.

    I was absolutely besotted with the cover of Underground: Monk as French Resistance fighter. What ambiance! I was fascinated unto distraction by the automatic weapon Monk slung over his shoulder, the grenades scattered like confetti at a little girl’s My Little Pony party, the whiskey bottles, the dynamite, the binoculars, the short wave radio, the cow in the corner, the bales of hay, the grapes and bread and cheese. But the most fascinating thing about this cover was, as the inner sleeve claimed, an actual taxidermied SS Officer was sitting, his hands bound at his back, behind Monk at the piano. It’s still in some question, but the thought of displaying a stuffed human struck most as so horrific and macabre as to shock a nation, even though the subject could be said to have behaved inhumanly in life. Monk liked his controversy.

  90. Will someone please send me my tiara? And a LIVE hedgehog. This shall be my prize for winning the all night long posting inferno. A piece of really nice chocolate would do just as nicely. Peace Out, Melissa

  91. Does that mean I will soon have a tiara to swan about it? Good night, all. xoxox C

  92. in, swan about in. (I’m very grateful I’m not alone in my compulsion to correct my typos.)

  93. I also never slept. That’s Section 1, Article 1.

    Section 1, Article 2: Queen is my favorite band in the world. I saw them live four times and was once touched by Freddie Mercury.

    Section1, Article 3: Monk said the only important thing ever said about his own compositions. Subsection: He was the greatest jazz composer who ever lived.

    Section 2, Article 1: I have no qualms with a taxidermied Nazi. Monk could have used ambient lighting by employing lampshades made from the skin of murdered Jews and homosexuals.

    Remember when the NYer’s Talk of the Town used to be anonymous and funny? My favorite (I cut it out and saved it — I have it somewhere) is about one of the writers visiting an exotic pet store. My favorite line was at the beginning of the last paragraph: “We eventually bought the hedgehog that bit us.”

  94. I have my autographed copy of “The Used World” but will need to reread it for the discussion. Please more poems to give me time as I’m in the middle of at least two other books right now. It’s a case of “So many books, so little time!” I know the original quote was men not books but I beg to differ.

  95. wow. carrie, your post earlier to haven about her love and the relationship of all of us to that love… that was STUNNING. and perfect. i am blown away just by being allowed to share what you have written and expressed so flawlessly.

  96. I’m sick and I have nothing to say but I love you people.

  97. KateCake – Feel better soon!! Nasty bugs are going ’round. Erik is sick, and I was up every half hour last night with sick dogs.

  98. Thank you, Sir! I am hoping to sleep much today, and I have some lovely immunity boosters so I hope to nip it in the bud.

  99. A free copy? As a silent lurker who reads all of your blogs without comment, I somehow missed out on this opportunity. I have bought everything up until that one, so I am behind on your books, and right now, quite broke. I’d like to get in on this free copy business….

  100. Feel better, Kate. Sending virtual chicken soup and a hug your way.

  101. Bless all your loving hearts, that give me hope and make me laugh and strive to be a better person to those around me every day. I am so blessed myself to have found this blog and to read you all. I am not a joiner of groups EVER in my life, tried and hated it every time, but this is different and you all have made and continue to make a difference in my life….and I also offer deepest gratitude (grati-DUDE!) to John to take care of Haven, who we can only support through the ether. Thank you!

  102. Feel better Kate! You need to make a sick bed on the couch and watch old episodes of Roseanne. Oh and eat peanut butter toast.

  103. I’d love a copy of The Used World!!

  104. One of the most beautiful songs and certainly one of my favorites:

    Sweet Baby James by James Taylor

    There is a young cowboy he lives on the range
    His horse and his cattle are his only companions
    He works in the saddle and he sleeps in the canyons
    Waiting for summer, his pastures to change

    And as the moon rises he sits by his fire
    Thinking about women and glasses of beer
    And closing his eyes as the doggies retire
    He sings out a song which is soft but its clear
    As if maybe someone could hear

    Goodnight you moonlight ladies
    Rockabye sweet baby james
    Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose
    Wont you let me go down in my dreams
    And rockabye sweet baby james

    Now the first of december was covered with snow
    And so was the turnpike from stockbridge to boston
    Lord, the berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting
    With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go

    Theres a song that they sing when they take to the highway
    A song that they sing when they take to the sea
    A song that they sing of their home in the sky
    Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep
    But singing works just fine for me

    – chorus –

    Every Easter morning throughout my entire childhood, we were awoken to “Morning Has Broken” the Cat Stevens version. Perhaps this is morbid, but I want it played at my funeral. It gives me goosebumps and I have always loved singing it in church. Song sounds better in church. It resonates incredibly!

    “Morning Has Broken”

    Morning has broken, like the first morning
    Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
    Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
    Praise for the springing fresh from the word

    Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
    Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
    Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
    Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

    Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
    Born of the one light, Eden saw play
    Praise with elation, praise every morning
    God’s recreation of the new day

  105. I always recite this to myself when I don’t feel well

    “I cannot go to school today”
    Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
    “I have the measles and the mumps,
    A gash, a rash and purple bumps.

    My mouth is wet, my throat is dry.
    I’m going blind in my right eye.
    My tonsils are as big as rocks,
    I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox.

    And there’s one more – that’s seventeen,
    And don’t you think my face looks green?
    My leg is cut, my eyes are blue,
    It might be the instamatic flu.

    I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
    I’m sure that my left leg is broke.
    My hip hurts when I move my chin,
    My belly button’s caving in.

    My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
    My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
    My toes are cold, my toes are numb,

    I have a sliver in my thumb.

    My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
    I hardly whisper when I speak.
    My tongue is filling up my mouth,

    I think my hair is falling out.

    My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
    My temperature is one-o-eight.
    My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,

    There’s a hole inside my ear.

    I have a hangnail, and my heart is …
    What? What’s that? What’s that you say?
    You say today is ………….. Saturday?

    G’bye, I’m going out to play!”
    Shel Silverstein

  106. HAHA Check this out.

  107. Caryl Hayes: sorry about the oblique referrence. Hope this helps and that your two year old gets better soon.
    (And it was in “White Christmas”, not “Holiday Inn”:)
    Phil Davis (Danny Kay): [Buying train tickets] Uh, I don’t seem to have any cash.
    Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby): Where’d you leave that? In your snood?

    an ornamental net in the shape of a bag that confines a woman’s hair; pins or ties at the back of the head

    for a picture:

  108. I must be a simpleton. I like Billy Collins. He’s pretty hilarious. I went to see him a couple years ago when he was here in Muskegon.

  109. Well, I am about ready to quit my job, move down to NC, set up a tent in Haven’s backyard, and dedicate myself to being John’s apprentice and general flunky. It would be a Soprano type arrangement.

    John: “Hey, Geo, get your ass up out of the sleeping bag. H wants you to do sumpin, you fat f–k.”

    Me: “mmmmmmmm”

    John: “Soon as you haul your sorry carcass out of this stinkin’ tent, you gotta get down to Staples and pick up a four dozen padded envelopes — the yellow kind, you freakin idiot, the kind with the air bubbles. H is allergic to those bitches with the freakin’ lint in it.”

    Me: “Ok.”

    John: “Then, when you get outta there, I want you to go to the art supply store and buy me a 100 pounds of Raku clay and some P-5 porcelain. 200 pounds of that shit. You got it? Then get over to Eno River Taxidermy and Trophies and buy that albino skunk H wants. Don’t screw it up and get the flat rabbit like you did the last time. Then, on your way back, I want you to pick up H’s mentalist and bring him over here. H is too busy to leave the computer. She’s workin’ on some poetry deal — some really genius stuff — and I gotta help her. That’s my job and your job is helping me and keeping your fat mouth shut.

    Screw this up you idiot and I will personally see to it you’re riding back to DC rolled up in a rug in the back of truck. Oh yeah, I need some guitar strings, too. Some Super Slinky. Don’t you be coming back here with anything else.”

    Me: “Ok.”

  110. So just because I finally took a hot bath I don’t get the effing tiara. Jeesh you people are tight. I wish I could at least see a live hedgehog, they do not live in the west. Oh well. I would probably try and pet one and get a buttload of poisoned quills. Back to the salt mines. Love, d

  111. And George, “Smile when you say that.” Haven, I was not really sleeping, just laying down with my eyes closed listening to NPR. Can I have the tiara instead of carrie? It is morning now, and I would keep posting but I have to go to work and stand there and try not to F***. Rhymes with smart and it is something you definitely do not want your hairstylist to do. I am a (train) wreck. Oh well, I guess I can afford my own tiara. I just wanted to win.

  112. BTW, it is eight fourteen am here. I have one half hour to pull myself together so that I do not scare any small unattended children I may encounter. I wonder if I should brush my teeth or my hair? Hmmm. I’m picking out a mumu right now. At least it is light out so I can see what’s in my closet!

  113. George is my hero.

  114. I can’t stay up with you people.


    It’s like back to the days when I was a young newspaper reporter. I would come into work, go to the wire machines and started reading the copy that moved overnight.

  115. I associate Queen with ping pong.

    For a brief period in my life, I worked at Indian Industries in Evansville, which produced archery equipment and ping pong tables. I was in the ping pong division and my job was flipping a ping pong table over as it came down the line, shoving it inside a cardboard carton, squirting hot glue on the fold down tabs and stacking it on a pallet.

    This job required two people.

    My partner and I would meet up in his car before the shift, fire up a number, shove a Queen tape in the 8-track (it was always Killer Queen), and thus prepare ourselves for a night of labor, producing ping pong tables destined for rec rooms across America.


    One thing I am thankful for today is that it finally got cold enough for me to haul my bad-ass black leather biker jacket out of the closet.

    This baby is the real thing. It weighs about 20 pounds. It has no — repeat — NO stupid chrome crap on it.

    I bought it for $25 at the Goodwill in Bloomington, Ind. Did I mention I only paid $25 for it? What a great jacket, and it looks so cool. I only paid $25 for it.

    I have tried to imagine a scenario where such a jacket would become available at a Goodwill. The only thing I can conjure up is that some biker and his girlfriend got in a big fight and she threw his sorry ass out of the house and decided to get rid of ALL his crap, which included his biker junk, including the jacket he thought he was so cool in.

    Oh, I only paid $25 for it.

  116. …what, am I the only one up this AFTERNOON!!!!!

  117. Hi George! I’m up! And how much did you pay for that awesome jacket???

  118. What? I go away from lurking for a few days and miss a poetry fest and a free book offer? Of a book that’s on my list of books I’d love to buy, if only I had the funds? (no political or predatory lending stories here, just plain old-fashioned struggling) It’s enough to bring me out of lurking: I’d love a copy of _Used World_, if it’s not too late. I’m enjoying the free poetry, too.

  119. Amanda…I paid about 80 cents for this bad boy. I should take a picture and put it in the yahoo auxiliary blog just to prove what I am talking about.

  120. make it 80 cents a pound for this bad boy…

  121. I’m up, George. I’m actually doing some work today though. 🙂

  122. Rapscallions, I slept from 9:00 (after getting the male chirrens off to school) to 1:30, got up, called Kate (she’s doing a little better, I think).

    George, you write a Sopranos scenario, you OWN me, dude. You throw in Queen? I’ll dust your damn light bulbs.

    Brad and ShellyAnn (and anyone else), just sent me your address RIGHT THIS SECOND, because the 35 or 40 books I packed last night are going out TODAY. Or course I could always mail yours tomorrow but I was feeling dramatic.

  123. hopefully, i wasn’t too late with a request. *hopesagainsthope*

  124. Carrie, what a way you have, not just with words but with a true sense of who Haven is, her place in our world, and Johns place in hers.
    Oh it sucks to be sick, I am sick, Charlie still cannot breathe, husband is out of town, and I may never sleep again. Perhaps tonight I will win the tiara.
    Feel better Kate.

  125. Haven –

    we brushed this topic while you were out with your “sick” head (that is what Claire calls a headache or bump) . . . the idea of having Haven/Blog Babies items for the “book club” . . .

    there is a website where you can upload images (I can make them print ready from any 300 dpi digital image) and then you order the items, they print each one individually (hats/tshirts/bags/mugs, etc.) . . .

    anyway, I am offering to set this up, or it might be something you can do with Scott and make some money (not much, you set the mark up from 0 – 50 percent of their printing cost) – – and Augusten sells his Cow shirts on his site . . . so he might know a different way.

    I would spend some money on tshirts (v neck only for me) or bags or mugs or something . . .

  126. Poor Caryl, and poor Kate! sucks to be sick. Eat your chicken soup and do the vaporizer thing, and please feel better soon.

    George, freakin’ brilliant George. “Don’t screw it up and get the flat rabbit like you did the last time” — let us just say, I made noises reading this no one should ever witness.

    Caryl, Amanda, thank you for your very kind words. I, like George, turn to this blog every morning (or morning-ish) to examine the treasure left here overnight. Given a lifetime, I could never have chosen the cherished faculty I find posting here. If I go on, I will get all teary again.

  127. SHER LET’S START A STORE!!!! I love this idea.

    p.s. I am horrifically incompetent at managing anything, including my hair. Just a heads-up.

  128. John says our store should have a name that’s dignified, relatively, and a logo on everything (a small one), so for instance if we had a t-shirt of George, there’d be a small logo on it somewhere, or on our coffee cups. He used the example of Paul Frank, because I love Paul Frank.

  129. is another — they also have drinkware (mugs and glasses) and dog t-shirts (though I am opposed on principle to dressing dogs, some dogs like it). What a great idea, to do this.

  130. I love this idea. Who can design the logo??

  131. Oh my gosh if you click on that link there are the MOST TERRIFYING MONKEY PICTURES. I want a tshirt of THAT.

  132. WAIT…CLETUS. Cletus should be involved in the logo somehow. But wait, then there goes the idea of having a dignified name…

  133. Hey–I’d buy stuff. But my dog politely says “No thank you” to any attire. We tried to get him to wear the “Bad Dog” prisoner Halloween costume–I wish I had that money back.

    I just went to the book store today and bought Something Rising and was going to read The Used World next…but can I read them out of order? I’d hate to miss out on the conversation and I know that a few folks are waiting on their copies. I could go back and buy TUW…I like to support Haven when I can!

  134. here’s a logo 🙂

  135. I have a feeling Ms. Haven Thang would NOT like that.

  136. What about the “original” Zippy? 🙂

  137. That sounds much better!


  138. Vanessa, just my opinion as a reader would be that YES, you can read them out of order. The books are related but not sequential. If that makes sense.

  139. or

  140. Haven…you must weigh in.

  141. An honest to goodness book? From THE Haven Kimmel? On what line do you need me to sign my soul? Would you like it in ink or blood? I have plenty. If any are still available, that is. And if there are some, where should I post my address? 🙂

    I am sure you are tired of hearing the word gorgeous applied to your words, by the way, but it just keeps smacking me in the forehead. Perhaps I should try stunning instead for a while.

  142. Got it Sir Sock Monkey. Thanks for filling me in because my mind was in the gutter.

  143. Caryl, my mind was in that very same gutter, and I knew what a snood was!

  144. Almostclouds-thanks. I just finished Solace and thought they were somewhat in order. Although the cover doesn’t indicate that…I must have just dreamed it up.

    Particles…bring on the chimp logo!

  145. Now we must wait for the snood tale, which sock monkey is just dangling in front of us. Carrie, don’t even go there.

  146. At least I had company for once in the fabled gutter. Ask Haven what a naughty sock monkey I am.

  147. (snood tale is on “the wife who stays” post)

  148. George, where is the picture posted of that bitchin ass jacket? And Sher I had something to say to you and steph too. And carrie. I just simply cannot recall but your posts are beautiful and meaningful to me in ways I cannot explain. Unlike Suzanne’s which could easily be the smarter more well read version of me speaking. Okay. I really have to get some sleep now. I will just read about six more things and then expire like an old library card.

  149. Yes, Haven should decide on the final “logo”, but we can all submit images/ideas . . . we can solarize any of her images or I can tweak them into 2 color print . . . whatever we decide, but I like the idea of a place where we can buy the item (with a standard logo) with a selection of images to be applied – they could be annual ones, or ones that come out with each new book, etc.

    I love the image of Haven smiling down on us . . . something with “I’m one of Haven Kimmel’s Beloved Blog Babies”

    Augusten’s are great with the dogs . . . but get this – we could have Haven’s taxidermy serve as our “mascots”! I can do some great drawings, which might be a bit more “friendly” to the taxidermic-phobics? I will research this some more and maybe draw a proposal image? I am almost done with the last Halloween costume, so actually have some time on my hands . . . it can be a big contest!

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