My first Joni album was Clouds. I loved “Tin Angel”—it sounded like a western with tumbleweed blowing outside saloon doors. And I loved “The Gallery,” its sense of reversal, its conflation of cruelty and love. So many people were finding Jesus, or chanting nam myo ho renge kyo. I had a hunch they were just a bunch of bastards like the rest of us, which “The Gallery” sort of confirmed. I skipped Ladies of the Canyon—I wasn’t interested in songs about women baking muffins (until later). But Blue, wow—did that drop like a sledgehammer! I listened to it incessantly, went out and got Songs to a Seagull and the Ladies albums trying to grok the trajectory. In 10th grade, Blue became my go-to album as gift to the girls I loved. I loved a lot of them, and that was a lot of Blue. What I was saying, I think, was listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve suffered, too. Just like Joni, just like you. Why don’t we look around hell some? For better or worse, the only substantive relationship I developed out of that phase was with Joni Mitchell (and Jose Cuervo). I still love Blue—its travel bug, its ink on a pin, its dark café days. There have been a lot of great covers of its songs. This one, by Tierney Sutton, might be my favorite.
With "Teaching My Mother to Zoom," I honor Mom and Zoom, and I pray for patience and mercy. With thanks to Mom Egg and its most excellent editor, Marjorie Tesser.
Asia-Pacific Writers & Translators collaborated on the June issue of the esteemed Joao-Roque Literary Journal of India, and I'm deeply honored to have one of my stories, "Indigenous Studies," appear on its screens, along with the work so so many writers I admire, including Dean Kerrison, Sahib Nazari, Jose Varghese, and my dear colleague, Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, whose "Sowing Aunties" took top prize.