The Difficulty of Writing Smells

Serena Sutcliffe, on Penfolds Grange (a famous Australian wine):

The 1960 showed the great drive of peppery Shiraz, with orange, coffee and peppermint, all of which are Grange signatures. We had the usual discussion as to whether the 1962 or 1963 was ‘better’, but it is a pointless exercise as they are both show-stoppers. I found the melting aniseed of the 1965 seductive, the liquorice-filled 1966 a mite drier, the plumy 1967 redolent of candied tomatoes, the stellar 1971 all black truffles, the 1975 reminiscent of peaty tobacco, the 1976 full of mint and bitter chocolate and the 1978 evocative of Cuban tobacco and log fire.

Ordinarily I don’t pay much attention to wine writing, but I think what Sutcliffe writes here is kind of wonderful (even though, to readers who don’t encounter much “wine writing,” it may appear stuffy in quite the ordinary way).

Continue reading


Tips and Tricks (ST)

One easy way to lose weight
is to fall in love with someone
who is already in love
with someone else. Then,
when you’re about to eat dinner,
think about that. It’s like magic
without the magic! Continue reading

What Poems Can Be (ST)

They can be as fiery and epic and maddeningly beautiful as Erin Belieu’s “In the Red Dress I Wear to Your Funeral,” available at the wonderful online magazine At Length, or as goofy and touching and confused and sad as Bob Hicok’s “The History of Origami.” There are also any number of other things they can be like, which: thank goodness.

I got fired so I went to the park

There are times when I look at this city from within itself and see nothing but a ghostly empire—luminescent, haunted, already fading. The views of grand palaces that dwarf Versailles; the limpid ponds and vigorous squirrels; the dancing sunlight; the autumn coolness in the air; the lethargic tourist families, collapsed on each other, eating hot dogs and ice cream, nestled under subway maps.

And something in me leaps a hundred years ahead, or back, and I become a traveller from a different time—some kind of cosmic voyeur. And to see leaves turn red from the tips as though dipped in blood, to hold chestnuts, smooth and fragrant, in the cool cup of my palm. And to watch an endless procession of persons marching past, all missing the view; I am alone here, hidden in the dappled shade, hidden in the notebook on my lap, hidden from the day and the night in this middle kingdom of evening.

New Poem (ST)

Honey I love you but I’m turning inside out.
I want earthquakes that alter my topography,
fresh-ripped coastlines, volcanoes charging from the sea
like the football player throwing a Hail Mary pass
in one perfect arc in the film I would like to be real life.
I want to meet a dragon. I want change for a dollar.
I want to eat a habanero pepper
stuffed with habanero peppers. I want to drip spleens
and kidneys all over the kitchen floor right now
and say that I will clean it up tomorrow! Continue reading

The Animal Psychic Speaks (ST)

The Animal Psychic Speaks

The hawk says, “I’m hungry! Where’s that mouse?”
The pig says, “Pardon me, I have the hiccups.”
The possum is thinking about intersections and her next of kin.
The anteater prefers gumdrops, but feels too shy to say so.
Those Japanese beetles see plenty of holes in the leaves’ argument.
When the stallion runs, he forgets where he comes from.
Today is your luckiest day: This rattlesnake’s on your side.

Landline (ST)


Phil padded into the living room to ask Evie what she wanted for dinner that night. She had been on hold with the cell phone company for a quarter of an hour, which was really eating into her minutes. “My heart,” she said, sliding from the couch to the floor. “On a slice of buttered brown bread.”

“We’re all out of bread,” Phil said. Evie remembered that she could not live without him.