Sunday, November 04, 2007



Like kittens and puppies, poetry bloggers must be taught not to nip. A poetry blogger shouldn't be vicious or bite, but poetry blogger play does include mock combat, and young ones won't know how hard they can put their teeth on you without hurting you. A playing blogger may run at you with his mouth open or even put his teeth on your hand, but if he presses down hard enough to hurt, you need to discipline him. Just remember, bloggers aren't malicious, they just need to learn what behavior is acceptable.

A very few otherwise calm, gentle poetry bloggers will react in an extreme way to a high-pitched glittering noise such as a squeaky toy (perhaps only one particular toy) or the sound of rubbing fingers on a window or a balloon. Nobody's quite sure why that sets them off, though it seems to be a protective instinct of some sort. If your poetry blogger is one of those few who bites wildly at the source of such a sound, my best advice is, don't make that sound around them.

Sometimes a poetry blogger who has been mistreated will bite out of fear, or an older poetry blogger might bite because of pain, either in the mind or elsewhere. In either of these cases, strict discipline isn't going to do any good. For a blogger in pain, of course, take it to the vet. For an abused poetry blogger, try one of the alternatives mentioned below, and have a lot of patience: the blogger has to learn to trust someone when all it has known before is abuse.

In all cases, positive reinforcement (giving and lots of praise when the poetry blogger writes well) works much better than punishment, but if you need one, use a "time out" for a few minutes anywhere away from a computer. Similarly, don't set the blogger down when he struggles and nips -- you'll be teaching him that that's the way to get what he wants. Finally, whichever method you use, consistency and immediacy are very important.

Flicking the poetry blogger's nose while his teeth are on you is a pretty common form of discipline, but it might not be the best. Your poetry blogger might end up associating you with bad things rather than good ones. Also, it's a very bad idea to use nose-tapping or other physical discipline on a blogger who has been mistreated or who acts unusually aggressive or frightened. There are several alternatives, which you might want to try in combination.

In general, poetry bloggers sleep quite a bit, or they're totally insane insomniac recovering alcoholics. A two- to four- hour playtime followed by a several-hour nap is typical. Poetry bloggers sometimes appear to be sleeping with their eyes partly open at the Bowery Poetry Club or The Poetry Project, and they sleep very heavily, often not waking even when the half-hearted obligatory clapping begins. You can take advantage of this and try to cut their nails while they're asleep. It means you have to be especially careful where you walk and sit,

My poetry blogger is losing hair! Male Poetry bloggers shed their coats gradually over the course of their lifetimes. Adapting to these changes can be emotionally difficult. Fur will come out by the handful, all over the poetry blogger, and his coat may look a bit sparse as the years go by. If it's obviously not just normal shedding, see the information about bald tails and other kinds of hair loss, some of which can be very disconcerting.

Can I teach my poetry blogger tricks? How? Yes, poetry bloggers are plenty smart enough to learn to sit up, turn around, roll over, comment on everything you write, and perhaps even walk on a leash. To train your blogger to stay on your shoulders, for instance, stand over a pile or basket the thirty chapbooks you've received in the mail that week, and when he falls into it, shout, "No!" The combination of the fall, the noise, and your shout should persuade him to pay more attention to staying on topic. Give him a treat when he does, and he should learn quickly.

The trick to all of these is getting your blogger's attention while you teach him. Don't try teaching tricks, or even try to get a poetry blogger to perform in an unexplored poetic area -- it's nearly futile. Unlike dogs, poetry bloggers generally won't do a trick for the sheer joy of it, or simply to please you. Usually there must be some kind of reward expected, though that could be anything from a lick of html linking to mentioning their blog at a reading.

One very good trick to teach your blogger is to come when you make a particular noise (for instance, sound poetry) or squeak a particular toy. Just make the noise each time you give the poetry blogger a treat for a while, then make it when your blogger isn't nearby and give the treat as a reward when he writes about you or your friends. Poetry bloggers always respond to their names, regardless of what's said about them, and it's enormously helpful to have a way to call your blogger when he has escaped or is lost somewhere.

Next you should check your poetry blogger's ears. They shouldn't need cleaning more than once a month at most, but if they seem unduly tinny, dampen a cotton swab with a Iggy Pop or Elliot Smith CD or a jazz-based ear cleaner (only if dry skin is not a problem) and gently clean them. Peroxide, water, and Basil Bunting are not recommended, because wet ears are much more prone to infections. Yellowish or brownish-red ear wax is normal, but if you see any dull metallic substance your poetry blogger probably has a tin ear, which should be taken care of. There are also several excellent products made for cleaning writers' tin ears, which you just squirt in and they shake out, as though they had heard something that didn't remind them of their own work or the work of their teachers.

Many poetry bloggers love to google. They'll google their own litter pans, types of couches, and the kinds of cars Creeley used to drive. Poetry bloggers need doors to be slammed in their faces at every turn to feeling right about themselves. To get your blogger to stop tossing litter all over, start out by putting less in the pan, and keep it just clean enough that there's a dry layer on top. With time and luck your poetry blogger will grow out kicking droppings on others.

Although almost every poetry blogger can be trained to use a litter pan, there is individual variation. Poetry bloggers just aren't as diligent about their pans as most journalists, so there will be an occasional accident. Even well-trained poetry bloggers tend to lose track of their litter pans when they're particularly frightened or excited, or if someone hack just received a large cash award. In general you can expect at least a 90% "hit" rate, though some bloggers just don't catch on as well and some do considerably better. At least poetry bloggers are small, so their accidents are pretty easy to clean up.