chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

found poem: Let me

found poem: chill

found poem: pressed


Naugatuck River Review Very pleased to have my poem “Arroyo” included in Naugatuck River Review, Issue 14. Published in print twice a year, NRR “is dedicated to publishing narrative poetry….poems that tell a story.”

“Arroyo” is a poem about a bridge on the campus of UCLA.


found poem: SHADOW

found poem: coyote

found poem: that knob

deux femmes

1966 - DAK w Tête de femmeIt’s 1966. In Antibes, at the Grimaldi, my mother examines Picasso’s Tête de femme aux grands yeux. My father’s black-and-white photograph emphasizes the rough texture and stark volumes of the sculpture. His own woodcarving was much influenced by the abstracted forms of Picasso, Brancusi, Arp, Noguchi and Henry Moore, which he studied with an engineer’s eye — not to replicate but to understand.

In the photograph, through some trick of light, angle or scale, the perspective is slightly off. Dorothy and the Tête seem to vie for the same plane, advancing and retreating, one in front, then the other. Whether my father saw that, at the time or later, I don’t know. Nor can I guess whether he framed the image with tongue in cheek, these two commanding women caught side-by-side in the stillness of their unique beauty.

off the press!

Noisy Water: Poetry from Whatcom County, WashingtonEarly in 2015, Luther Allen (Other Mind Press) started talking about publishing a poetry anthology and asked me if I would co-edit. The poets would have previous publication credits or a strong presence in the local poetry community, and would have lived or made poetry in Whatcom County, Washington, for some period within the last five years.

In early June, invitations went out to about 105 poets, inviting them to submit three of their best recent poems, previously published or not. By mid-July we had submissions from 101 poets.

The collection seemed to call for a title with local resonance, and we chose Noisy Water, which is the translation of the Lummi word Xwotʼqom, from which Whatcom is derived. The wonderful photographer Joe Meche, known particularly for his photographs of birds, agreed to let us use one of his photos of Whatcom Falls on the cover.

We recruited the talented poet (and saxophone player) Ellie A. Rogers as designer (a very smart move) and we contracted with the ever-accommodating Threshold Documents to do the printing.

And then we did about a thousand other little things and suddenly Noisy Water: Poetry from Whatcom County, Washington, is off the press and in our hands! Very exciting.

We have scheduled a series of readings throughout the county, starting in December and running into April. In early December, Noisy Water will be available online (and in person) at Village Books in Bellingham. See more on the Noisy Water web page.

Nothing to it.

found poem: we opened

found poem © j.i. kleinberg ~ we opened
found poem © j.i. kleinberg
(Today is the five-year anniversary of my first post on chocolateisaverb. Somehow, since then, I’ve managed to find 1,617 additional reasons to post. I am hugely grateful for all of your visits, likes and comments. I’ll keep coming back if you will. Thanks.)

the poets speak

Allen & Kleinberg

Every once in a while, the poets (and even the bloggers) come out from behind their desks, their keyboards and their piles of paper to give voice to their words. You can witness such an event this very evening, Thursday, November 19, 2015, starting at 7:00pm at the SoulFood Coffee House in Redmond, Washington.

Luther Allen and J.I. Kleinberg will be the featured readers at SoulFood Poetry Night, a monthly poetry gathering that’s been going on for ten years. Plus, you can bring your own poems and read (for 3-4 minutes) during the open mic that follows!

In their readings, Allen and Kleinberg will no doubt touch on a variety of important topics, including astronomy, Felix Hernandez, loss and hope and love and obsession (with magazines, in particular), as well as errant bears and deviant tablecloths.

Tonight! Come on!

P.S. The reading was streamed live (with, alas, a few ads). Click to watch it.

found poem: mud

found poem: rivers

found poem: moon

found poem: lurch

found poem: FOCUSING


DAK - What is a line

When she was in her 80s and already on the precipice of her long decline, my mother enrolled in an autobiography class at a local community college. The class met weekly and the same people enrolled semester after semester, sharing their stories on paper and aloud.

Dorothy loved it. Through the writing, she retold her personal history and found a new starring role on the stage of these fragments. More than anything, she loved standing before the class and reading her stories aloud. She dramatized and flirted and used the language of her body and voice as much as her words.

After some years, when my mother could no longer see well enough to read her own stories, the teacher generously read them on her behalf. But Dorothy missed the performance, spent much of each class session asleep in her chair, and finally dropped out.

In the bottom drawer of one of my file cabinets is a fat folder filled with Dorothy’s stories, laboriously typed on her word processor — some by her and later, when she could not make sense of them, by my father. I know these stories; they’re the ones she always told — about her childhood friends, her grandfather, her first meeting with my father.

I remember them. I heard her read many of them aloud. But I cannot bring myself to open the folder and read them all again. To decide whether I’ll transcribe them or simply recycle the paper, printing something of my own on the blank side. She’s been gone more than ten years, but her voice lives in that folder, retelling herself anew, the movie of my mother playing over and over in my head.

. . . . .
words and scribbles by DAK

found poem: the sun

Veterans Day

LRK 1942 Camp YoungMy father, who served during World War II, did his military training at Camp Young — the headquarters of the Desert Training Center, in California’s Mojave Desert, and the world’s largest Army post. Although the work was serious and hard and dirty, the war itself was, for the moment, far away.

He wasn’t big on mementos and didn’t own a camera until much later in his life, but there remain from those months of training a small collection of 8-by-10 glossies of Les, age 31. He never said why they were taken — perhaps for a newsletter or Army recruiting materials. Some are informal, like this one; others are lit dramatically.

As with the rest of his military service, Les spoke little of these months in the desert. The one story I remember was the one he told me each time I pulled out his Army sleeping bag for a slumber party. Near the foot of the bag, on the inside, was a hand-sewn patch, about four inches square. He told me that a field mouse had burrowed through the fabric and dropped a litter of pups in the soft filling. The mother mouse escaped and Les removed the babies, putting them, he assured me, “in a safe place.” As my father watched, I would cautiously unzip the bag, spread it flat and inspect the patch for recent incursions.

The story, with its frisson of the wild kingdom, long outlived its smallest characters. But it was one he could share with his young daughter, and one he could tell without threatening the edifice of silence within which he — and so many soldiers — lived for the remainder of their long lives.

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