August 2012

This entry is part 23 of 29 in the series Conversari

A college roommate once confessed
he fantasized about growing a vagina
on his shoulder: It would be

so handy, right there
whenever he needed to whisper
in its big wet ear.

John loved redheads & disliked feminists.
One woman informed me
he had “bedroom eyes.”

Where would the uterus go? I asked.
He laughed. It wouldn’t need one—
it would have me.

What about the pillow talk?
It would sing me to sleep, he said,
with its pulse of surf.


See Rachel’s photographic response, “Salty.”

This entry is part 16 of 34 in the series Small World

Is it or isn’t it?
The sugar pill isn’t saying.
The line that bisects it
was intentionally left blank.

It’s a go sign, perhaps,
or a one-bead rosary.
Its zero gives birth
to all other numbers.

Since opposites attract within
bounds of reason & good breeding,
it must be in love
with a salt tablet.

It can be anything
the salt wants,
including another condiment
that cures vagueness.

Who do you say
that it is—
a prophet or the platter
for his savory head?

Like a double agent,
it forgets who it’s working for.
It’s either about to smile
or about to weep.

“When the bee comes to your house, let her have beer.
You may want to visit the bee’s house someday.” ~ Congolese

Or it may be that the honey in the cells
has foamed to froth, has risen above
walls that could no longer contain
that sweet— So the hand that tried
to stay the overflow withdrew, gold-
sheathed. May such abundance visit
your heart today: not rue, not pity.


In response to Via Negativa: A beer thinker's guide to life.

Proverbs from around the world, found in the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs; Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher; Yiddish Proverbs by Hanan J. Ayalti; and various compendia on the web

beer bottle-shaped coffin at a coffin workshop in Ghana
beer bottle-shaped coffin at a coffin workshop in Ghana
(Creative Commons-licenced photo by Eleanor Hartzell)

He who drinks beer, thinks beer.
American (attributed to Washington Irving) and Danish

Barley isn’t grown for donkeys.

If you do not have patience you cannot make beer.

Young sugarcane gives no beer.

A fine beer may be judged with one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.

Froth is no beer.

Drunks are like beer: a lot of foam but little strength.

Better weak beer than an empty cask.

It never rains in the brew hall.

Where beer is brewed, they have it good.

One mouth doesn’t taste the beer.

When the bee comes to your house, let her have beer. You many want to visit the bee’s house someday.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
American (sometimes attributed to George Carlin)

Ale sellers should not be tale tellers.

A house full of daughters is a cellar full of sour beer.
Dutch (sour beer—lambic—is highly desirable for blending with other beers in Dutch-speaking parts of Belgium)

The innkeeper loves the drunkard, but not for a son-in-law.

Caution is the parent of delicate beer glasses.

The beer is difficult to strain.
Anyuak (explanation here)

The best brewer sometimes makes bad beer.

That beer’s of your own brewing, and you must drink it.
Dutch and Czech

Beer may warm you up, but it doesn’t dress you.

Life is more than beer and skittles.

Milk for a child, meat for an adult, beer for the old.

Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish.
Proverbs 31:6 (New International Version)

There are more old drunks than old doctors.

He that buys land buys many stones,
He that buys flesh buys many bones,
He that buys eggs buys many shells,
But he who buys good ale buys nothing else.

Beautiful beer can come from an ugly barrel.

Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder.

The rabbi drains the bottle and tells others to be merry.

Turkey, heresy, hops and beer
came into England all in one year.

Man’s way to God is with beer in hand.

The mouth of a perfectly happy man is filled with beer.
Ancient Egyptian


If you know of additional proberbs that belong in this list, please leave them in the comments. I’m not so much interested in sayings about beer as in sayings that use beer or brewing to illuminate life. I’m sure that Africa is especially rich in such proverbs, but I haven’t been able to find very many on the internet.

That place where all unease collects, distills
its gritty sediments, like clumps of leaves

at the bottom of a cup— Inscrutable, they sit
unsifted, waterlogged, composting once

green hopes— Divine is often the verb
used to describe what shapes they’ll spell;

when heat has blanched and water cooled,
what futures might yet unspool—


In response to Marly Youmans: The gulf of night---.

Mike Linksvayer:

Although it is often said that a work is protected by copyrestriction, this is strictly not true. A work is protected through the existence of lots of copies and lots of curators.


Free and open source software has demonstrated the ethical and practical value of the opposite of copyrestriction, which is not its absence, but regulation mandating the sharing of copies, specifically in forms suitable for inspection and improvement. This regulation most famously occurs in the form of source-requiring copyleft, e.g., the GNU General Public License (GPL), which allows copyrestriction holders to use copyrestriction to force others to share works based on GPL’d works in their preferred form for modification, e.g., source code for software. However, this regulation occurs through other means as well, e.g., communities and projects refusing to curate and distribute works not available in source form, funders mandating source release, and consumers refusing to buy works not available in source form.

This entry is part 35 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012

Today, ambiguous rain. Clouds that screen the view— dark, light, broody, indecisive. Through my fourth floor office window at noon, the screech of tires carrying from the boulevard. Water scales and fish-tails down the panes. Who sees our faces from this height, behind refracting layers? I too am often pulled in several directions, though this is how most of it should go— the daily work taken up and borne, repeated, repeating. Long hours, hot taste in the mouth, the tremble in the tired and fevered wrists. My children’s godmother writes: This is how we made our way: one suitcase in each hand, an envelope with letters of introduction; a nondescript address, a name. A taxi ride at midnight after a 21-hour flight. The driver pointing out the monument— a spire gleaming across the river; bridge, underpass, and finally a chain-linked driveway at the destination: Good luck, lady, this as far as I can take you. At such an hour the long view of years has not yet kindled. Bills and change, counted out. Pockets full of change that can be used at pay phones, even for long distance; that could buy fruit from a corner store, toiletries, water. The little metal wheels clattering as you pulled your luggage in the dark.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.