The Petting Zoo by Jim Carroll


Oh boy have I found a great book!  Poet Jim Carroll was finishing this thing up when he passed away in 2009.  I have only read 73 pages so far but I recognize this as one of the greatest novels I have ever read.  A New York painter reacts strongly to some paintings by Velazquez, stumbles into Central Park and winds up in the looney bin where he finds some time to think straight.  Simple and magnificent.  What a damn great writer!  I think this will actually be the first novel I write a review of.  Now back to reading.

An Aerial Literature Puzzle

Head over to Literary Kicks to try your literary knowledge against a cool puzzle.  Guess what the picture is of and what it has to do with a book.  This kind of thing can keep you going for hours while you hunt through your book collection for clues and learn about fascinating web sites you never knew existed.  I spent quite some time going comfortably down quite the wrong track with this little puzzle.  But then… Aha!  My mistake became obvious.

Try the contest at

Folktale from Haiti: Why Cats and Dogs Never Get Along

adapted by Donalson Latour

'Children Playing' by Montas Antoine (Port-au-Prince, Haiti) 1960

One day Mr. Cat and Mr. Dog were in a discussion about going to God to ask him a favor. Mr. Cat says he was going to God to ask him “can dead people don’t come back to life,” and Mr. Dog says he was going to ask God “can dead people come back to life.”

So they decided to race each other to see who’s going to get to God first. Mr. Cat was so clever; he puts a bone in every corner that he knows Mr. Dog was going to turn on so he can slow him down. Mr. Dog thought of something smart too but he was not clever enough to trick Mr. Cat, so Mr. Dog puts a bowl of milk in every corner that he knows Mr. Cat was going to turn on so he can slow down.

While Mr. Cat was running he saw the milks but he didn’t pay any attention to them because he knows what Mr. Dog was trying to do. And Mr. Dog was so stupid and greedy, he stopped in every corner to enjoy the bones that Mr. Cat prepared for him but he didn’t know if it was a trick to slow him down.

So then, Mr. Cat reaches God first, when Mr. Cat gets to God he started talking to him and said, “God I don’t want you to bring dead people back to life,” and God said, “Okay no problem.”

Then Mr. Cat went home. When Mr. Dog finally finished enjoying his bones, he went to God and said “God, can dead people come back to life?” and God said, “I’m sorry Mr. Dog, Mr. Cat already came here and told me that he doesn’t want dead people come back to life.”

So, since then, dogs don’t like cats. And every time a cat sees a dog, the cats always trying to approach the dogs friendly but dogs always give them mean look. That’s why cats and dogs never get along.

The End

“Why Cats and Dogs Never Get Along” has a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Here are some ways to give earthquake assistance to the people of Haiti:

The Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and the United Nations Food Program are putting medical supplies, doctors, nurses, food and water on the ground in Haiti to try to prevent the worsening catastrophe and enormous loss of life.

National Poetry Month has Begun

It’s National Poetry Month!  That means that bookstores, publishers and bloggers all over the U.S. and elsewhere are celebrating poetry in all its forms.  There’s a poem-a-day series that will email you one poem each day for the entire month. has instructions for teachers trying to motivate students to enjoy poetry in the classroom and tips for bookstores trying to sell poetry.

The video is from W. W. Norton publishers who decided to ask eleven of their published poets what poetry is for.  Their answers are incredibly bad, but it’s a good try.  It should be abundantly clear from these poets’ answers that there is very little actual thought going on about what poetry is for.

Here’s my answer:  Poetry is for bread.

But here’s a guy named Charles Bernstein who says that National Poetry Month is a bad thing.  He says it encourages the most bland of easy-reading poetry available to make people think poetry is safe to read.  He’s right.  And so what?  So people read some bland crappy poems.  That is what most poetry is.  That’s realistic.  Perhaps a few of those people will have the energy to go out and find the real, hard, evolving, beautiful and terrifying poetry that would never even stoop to asking, ‘What is poetry for?’