Saturday, December 30, 2006

For The Anniversary Of My Death

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveller
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what


W.S. Merwin

***********************************************************


THE BIG HEART

"Too many things are occurring for even a big heart to hold."
From an essay by W. B. Yeats

Big heart,
wide as a watermelon,
but wise as birth,
there is so much abundance
in the people I have:
Max, Lois, Joe, Louise,
Joan, Marie, Dawn,
Arlene, Father Dunne,
and all in their short lives
give to me repeatedly,
in the way the sea
places its many fingers on the shore,
again and again
and they know me,
they help me unravel,
they listen with ears made of conch shells,
they speak back with the wine of the best region.
They are my staff.
They comfort me.

They hear how
the artery of my soul has been severed
and soul is spurting out upon them,
bleeding on them,
messing up their clothes,
dirtying their shoes.
And God is filling me,
though there are times of doubt
as hollow as the Grand Canyon,
still God is filling me.
He is giving me the thoughts of dogs,
the spider in its intricate web,
the sun
in all its amazement,
and a slain ram
that is the glory,
the mystery of great cost,
and my heart,
which is very big,
I promise it is very large,
a monster of sorts,
takes it all in--
all in comes the fury of love.


Anne Sexton

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Marianne

You love Marianne and the slow
way she strums the base guitar.
You love the way her body molds
to the instrument and her spirit
soars above the crowds and you.

She is the untouchable. Two feet
from you and breathing the same
air your lungs take in and savor
like a mouth tasting for the first
time the exotic mango, the perfectly
seared steak. She is lovely,
isn't she?

Marianne lives in your dreams,
inhabits the hidden corners where life
resonates on an early spring morning
with its showy newborn crocus flowers.
She lives along the lines
of poles strung one to the other--opposite,
connective. She is all that romance
could ever capture (geese settling on a
still pond, sunsets over the Ohio,
driftwood carried in the ice floes).
You know I know.

I can't help but love Marianne--
her patchouli infiltrating
your bones and marrow, her beauty
the thrill of unearthing a piece
of fragmented pottery from an ancient
tomb. I love that about her too
and hope when you touch
her, the hairs on your arms
stand on end and the tip of your cock
settles comfortably into the warmth
of missing years. Give her a kiss
for me, and make sure she knows
who loved you well.


***********************************************


Found this in the archives and felt like playing around
with it but I can't now. Mostly I think I wanted to remember
how it felt to feel something other than this overwhelming
sadness.

Anger would be good. Love would be good. Passion too.


Maybe I will feel these things again soon.

*sigh*

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fame

Sometimes in the over-heated house, but not for long,
Smirking and speaking rather loud,
I see myself among the crowd,
Where no one fits the singer to his song,
Or sifts the unpainted from the painted faces
Of the people who are always on my stair;
They were not with me when I walked in heavenly places;
But could I spare
In the blind Earth's great silences and spaces,
The din, the scuffle, the long stare
If I went back and it was not there?
Back to the old known things that are the new,
The folded glory of the gorse, the sweet-briar air,
To the larks that cannot praise us, knowing nothing of what we do
And the divine, wise trees that do not care
Yet, to leave Fame, still with such eyes and that bright hair!
God! If I might! And before I go hence
Take in her stead
To our tossed bed,
One little dream, no matter how small, how wild.
Just now, I think I found it in a field, under a fence--
A frail, dead, new-born lamb, ghostly and pitiful and white,
A blot upon the night,
The moon's dropped child!

***************************************************************

Rooms

I remember rooms that have had their part
In the steady slowing down of the heart;
The room in Paris, the room at Geneva,
The little damp room with the seaweed smell,
And that ceaseless maddening sound of the tide--
Rooms where for good or for ill, things died:
But there is the room where we two lie dead
Though every morning we seem to wake, and might just as well seem to sleep again
As we shall some day in the other dustier quieter bed
Out there--in the sun--in the rain.


Charlotte Mew

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Gacela of the Morning Market
Federico García Lorca

Under the Elvira arch
let me see you pass
that I may learn your name
and cry.

What pale moon at nine
bled your cheek white?
Who gathers up the seed
that sets its snow aflame?
What tiny cactus spike
shatters your glass?

Under the Elvira arch
let me see you pass
that I may lap your eyes
and cry.

How it chastens me,
the market-call you raise!
What odd carnation, you,
amid the piles of wheat!
How far you are when close!
How near to me when gone!

Under the Elvira arch
let me see you pass
that I may suffer your thighs
and cry.

Monday, December 18, 2006

My Grandmother's Love Letters

There are no stars to-night
But those of memory.
Yet how much room for memory there is
In the loose girdle of soft rain.

There is even room enough
For the letters of my mother's mother,
Elizabeth,
That have been pressed so long
Into a corner of the roof
That they are brown and soft,
And liable to melt as snow.

Over the greatness of such space
Steps must be gentle.
It is all hung by an invisible white hair.
It trembles as birch limbs webbing the air.

And I ask myself:
"Are your fingers long enough to play
Old keys that are but echoes:
Is the silence strong enough
To carry back the music to its source
And back to you again
As though to her?"

Yet I would lead my grandmother by the hand
Through much of what she would not understand;
And so I stumble. And the rain continues on the roof
With such a sound of gently pitying laughter.

Hart Crane

*****************************************

My favorite Hart Crane. Easy to read. Beautifully written.

"Over the greatness of such space/Steps must be gentle"

I choke up every time I read those lines.

Time to go clear out the kitchen. New floor goes in
today.

I wait until I am jobless to complete my kitchen renovation.

Good thing Grandma gave me some money for graduation.
I know she's proud for me and of me and wanted to do
something, so she gave me some money, and I shall
purchase the tile with that money.

Glad Hart Crane came to mind this morning. Especially
this poem.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Death of a Parent

Move to the front
of the line
a voice says, and suddenly
there is nobody
left standing between you
and the world, to take
the first blows
on their shoulders.
This is the place in books
where part one ends, and
part two begins,
and there is no part three.
The slate is wiped
not clean but like a canvas
painted over in white
so that a whole new landscape
must be started,
bits of the old
still showing underneath--
those colors sadness lends
to a certain hour of evening.
Now the line of light
at the horizon
is the hinge between earth
and heaven, only visible
a few moments
as the sun drops
its rusted padlock
into place.

***********************************

Departures

They seemed to all take off
at once: Aunt Grace
whose kidneys closed shop;
Cousin Rose who fed sugar
to diabetes;
my grandmother's friend
who postponed going so long
we thought she'd stay.

It was like the summer years ago
when they all set out on trains
and ships, wearing hats with veils
and the proper gloves,
because everybody was going
someplace that year,
and they didn't want
to be left behind.

********************************

The Five Stages of Grief

The night I lost you
someone pointed me towards
the Five Stages of Grief.
Go that way, they said,
it's easy, like learning to climb
stairs after the amputation.
And so I climbed.
Denial was first.
I sat down at breakfast
carefully setting the table
for two. I passed you the toast--
you sat there. I passed
you the paper--you hid
behind it.
Anger seemed more familiar.
I burned the toast, snatched
the paper and read the headlines myself.
But they mentioned your departure,
and so I moved on to
Bargaining. What could I exchange
for you? The silence
after storms? My typing fingers?
Before I could decide, Depression
came puffing up, a poor relation
its suitcase tied together
with string. In the suitcase
were bandages for the eyes
and bottles of sleep. I slid
all the way down the stairs
feeling nothing.
And all the time Hope
flashed on and off
in defective neon.
Hope was my uncle's middle name,
he died of it.
After a year I am still climbing
though my feet slip
on your stone face.
The treeline
has long since disappeared;
green is a color
I have forgotten.
But now I see what I am climbing
towards; Acceptance,
written in capital letters,
a special headline:
Acceptance,
its name is in lights.
I struggle on,
waving and shouting.
Below, my whole life spreads its surf,
all the landscapes I've ever known
or dreamed of. Below
a fish jumps: the pulse
in your neck.
Acceptance. I finally
reach it.
But something is wrong.
Grief is a circular staircase.
I have lost you.



Linda Pastan
from Cardinal Evening (New and Selected Poems 1968-1998)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I'm drunk

and when is the last time you can remember
that you didn't try to get drunk?

I can't remember.

What is drunk? Who is an alcoholic?

****************************************

Once upon a time there was a girl. Beautiful
but unfit. She didn't fit in anywhere.

She wore hiphuggers and ....
what were those tops called? They were only
a small piece of fabric wrapped around the neck
and across the back. No bra. Halters? Maybe?

************************************

Once upon a time there was a girl.
She wore hiphuggers and halters.
The boys whistled at her from thier cars
and drove slowly down the streets
as she walked on. Her beauty became
the thorn in the proverbial paw.

I am confusing characters now. The mouse
aided the mighty king of beasts by removing
the proverbial thorn. There was no mention
of a lioness. But I am digresssssssssssing,
I fear.

Back to the garden. The garden I found
in my mother's closet. Adam and Eve
leaves to cover the beauty. Leaves to cover.
Leaves that fall every year and cover
beauty. Leaves that are beautiful.

But I digress again. My mother's closet.
My father's death. My inability to stay
sober long enough to think things through.

Through is just a word. Through is not
always through. It may be a passage.
It may be a destination.

It may be simply and all alone
just a word.

I am not through. I am somewhere in between
through and though. R dropped and justly
so. I am though. And drunk. And the keys
don't care and my fingers can still play

and tonight there are meteor showers
I planned to watch and may still, though
I may be out there to lose the spirits,
my face intently leaning toward the ground.

Through it all, however, I think I shall
still be asking why am I and am I.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Back from Chicago

My daughter and I just spent 4 days there.

It was 4 degrees outside the first night,
but we managed to make the block or so
walk out to eat and back again without
too much trouble (had to keep our scarves
over our mouths when we were walking
so we could breathe, otherwise the wind and cold
just took your breath away!).

Have to recommend Gaylord's on Clark...
great Indian food...nice atmosphere...moderately priced


Singha Thai Restaurant on Clark is another wonderful
place to eat...loved the food
and the faux seating...way cool! Looks like you're going
to be sitting on the floor but you actually aren't (you
get the luxury of keeping your feet on the floor
or tucking them underneath you!)

A Tapas place on Superior (need to look up the name)
did not disappoint either. Spanish food, good location,
good atmosphere.

And a Chicago pizza place on Superior was downright yummy.

We hung out with about 60 drunken Santa Claus's Saturday
night...now that was an experience!

So warm here tonight. 60 when we got home. Still about
55 and rainy. What a change.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My mother was a worrier. No. She was more than that.
She was a "this is going to kill you" kind of person.

So, I guess in some ways I was the lightest burden.

I didn't get strep throat. I didn't get a severe ear infection.

I didn't have measles and pneumonia at the same time.

I didn't have curvature of the spine.

No. Not me. I was a tomboy. I was tough and up
to the challenge.

Which may have made me the greatest burden.

Falling out of the pine tree in the backyard. My foot
caught in the spokes of Mary's wheels. My arm
cut and bleeding profusely from the coke bottle
that broke in my bike basket.

I was the run-to-the-ER kid. For stitches
and such.

It was easier for her to comfort the children
who had no choice in their discomfort.

I fought hard to not be my mom when I had
my own children.

Broken wrist.

"It's ok, honey, the doctor is going to take care
of it."

Stitches in the chin. Papoose to hold down a crying,
arms-flailing child.

"Baby, listen to Mommy. I am right
here and the doctor is going to take good care of you."

So steady and inquisitive and concerned (but not worried)
when the baseball bat hit one of them in the head
and knocked them out and we end up in ER for X-rays.

Fighting always to not be like her. The worrier. The guilty
one. The blameless filled with blame.

*************************************

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Ninth Elegy

Why, when this span of life might be passed
as a laurel, slightly darker than everything else
green, with tiny waves on the edges
of each leaf (like the wind's smile)--: why then
have to be human--and, fleeing destiny,
long for destiny?...

Oh, not for some dream of happiness,
that premature profit of an imminent loss,
Not out of curiosity, not to give practice to the heart,
which would also pulse with laurel....

But because life here compels us, and because everything here
seemes to need us, all this fleetingness
that strangely entreats us. Us, the most fleeting...
Once for each thing, only once. Once and no more. And we, too,
only once. Never again. But to have been
once, even though only once:
this having been earthly seems lasting, beyond repeal.

And so we press on and try to achieve it,
try to contain it in our simple hands,
in our brimming eyes, our voiceless heart.
Try to become it. Try to give it--to whom? Best of all,
to hold on to it all forever...Ah, but what can one carry across
into that other relation? Not the art of seeing,
learned so slowly here, and no event that transpired here. Not one.
The pain, then. Above all, the hard labor of living,
the long experience of love,--all the purely
unsayable things. But later on,
among the stars, what then: there the unsayable reigns.
The traveler doesn't bring from the mountain slope
into the valley some handful of sod, around which all stand mute,
but a word he's gained, a pure word, the yellow and blue
gentian. What if we're here just for saying: house,
bridge, fountain, gate, jug, fruit tree, window,--
at most: column, tower....but for saying, understand,
oh for such saying as things themselves
never hoped so intensely to be. Isn't this the sly purpose
of the taciturn earth, when it urges lovers on:
that in their passion each single thing should find ecstasy?
O Threshold: what must it mean for two lovers
to have their own older threshold and be wearing down so lightly
the ancient sill--, they too, after the many before,
before the many to come.....

Here is the time for the sayable, here is its home.
Speak and attest. More than ever
the things we can live with are falling away,
and ousting them, filling their place: a will with no image.
Will beneath crusts which readily crack
whenever the act inside swells and seeks new borders.
Between the hammers our heart
lives on, as the tongue,
even between the teeth, remains
unceasing in praise.

Praise the world to the Angel, not what's unsayable.
You can't impress him with lofty emotions; in the cosmos
that shapes his feelings, you're a mere novice. Therefore show him
some simple object, formed from generation to generation
until it's truly our own, dwelling near our hands and in our eyes.
Tell him of things. He'll stand more amazed; as you stood
beside the ropemaker in Rome or by the potter along the Nile.

Show him how happy a thing can be, how innocent and ours,
how even sorrow's lament resolves upon form,
serves as a thing or dies into a thing--, and in that blissful beyond
is unmoved even by the violin. --And these things
that keep alive on departure know that you praise them; transient,
they look to us, the most transient, to be their rescue.
They want us to change them completely, in our invisible hearts,
into--O endlessly--us! Whoever, finally, we may be.

Earth, isn't that what you want: to arise
in us invisibly? Isn't it your dream
to be invisible someday? Earth! Invisible!
What, if not transformation, is your urgent charge?
Earth, my darling, I will! Believe me, you need
no more of your springtimes to win me--, one,
just a single one, is already too much for my blood.
Nameless now, I am betrothed to you forever.
You've always been right, and your most sacred tenet
is Death the intimate Friend.

Look, I am living. On what? Neither childhood nor future
lessens.....Superabundant existence
wells in my heart.


Rainer Maria Rilke
(from the Duino Elegies)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Had a meltdown tonight

Dad

on my way to Owensboro...to Criminology class

I was thinking about your hands...about the last
time I put my hand in yours (when you were alive
and then when you were dead).

Your old hand, your rough, weathered old hand.

I remember vigorously rubbing lotion on your hands
and your wrists. The restraints had rubbed your skin raw.

But, I kept thinking, you needed to be restrained lest
you pull out all those lines keeping you alive.

And I just wanted to put my hand in your hand.

Alive or dead.

I was thinking about the last night I held your hand, dead.
It was still warm. You were still warm. I cried over your body...
you know I did. I said over and over breathe Dad, breathe
Breathe breathe breathe.

They left that damed resuscitation tube in your throat.

It was awkward to try to kiss you again.

So, I held your hand and I rubbed your arms and your legs
and I tried so hard to remember where the tattoes were...but
I can't remember. Was the cowgirl on your left arm or your right?

I know where the birds were. Or do I?

On your right calf
or on your left?


I had to keep driving, Dad, so I had to stop the tears. I could not see.

And the road is winding and long and hilly and unforgiving.

I miss you so much. I

never got to ask you if you had a dog. If you liked Christmas
or any other holiday. Who your best friend was

what you really loved to do.

I know you liked Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour.

You read books about the Navy Seals and espionage.
I'd ask Mom the name of the author of a favorite series
of books you read so I could find you
a new book for Christmas

but I never could think when I was out shopping

what those books were called. I don't know to this
day what thte titles of those books were and who the author
was. I don't know.

So I bought you things like WWII Veteran license
frames and Yorktown caps and jackets.

I couldn't know how much you really wanted to let
all of that go.

Oh Daddy....wherever you are, I hope you're with your
friends and your family and you are well.

I miss you. I don't like this at all.

I can see your smile. That keeps me going.

You were such a passive, forgiving, easy-to-please
human being.

Just last week when I was cleaning up some things
in the basement, I came across the branch-cutter
you used to borrow to get to those high branches.

I thought about your hands and your determination
to keep going and I don;t know if you were sick a long
time or just a short time but I know I can't believe
you are gone.

What does anything matter? Where are you?

If there is nothing after this life then how do people
keep living?

I want to see you again and I want to see Granny
and I want to see Charley.

I can't be an atheist nor can I be an agnostic.

And I can't be a Christian. So what am I?

I am a terribly, terribly sad daughter.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Anybody here seen my old friend


Belinda, Cathy, Mary, David....

I am thinking about my old Virginia Beach friends.
And the times I made the effort to find them. And the times
I called them and how they never called back.

They mattered to me. Why didn't I matter?

David sent an email last fall after the F4 tornado hit here.
He wanted to make sure I was ok (my family too).

That's it.

I'm a transplant to this town. The town my father left when
he joined the Navy in 1941. The town he and my mom decided we'd
move back to when I was 13.

I have never felt at home anywhere. Never.

I fight this rootlessness. I think there must be something
good in being rooted. But I can't figure out what it is.

I feel so alone.

I have 30+ numbers saved in my cell
phone and can't think of one number I would dial at this
moment and feel there was someone at the other end
who would understand where I am.

I think that is the great cost this generation (mine
and my children's) will know. For all the reasons
knowing your neighbor and sitting on the porch
at night became passe, there are so many reasons
for mourning the end of "life as we knew it" when people
sat on their porches and talked to the people going
by and asked, with meaning, "How are you
Ms. Dubois? Why you've got the prettiest flowers
in all of Meridian!"

Progress. Yes, we;ve progressed. Into what?

Damn I'm drunk.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Elemental

Come winter. Bring with you
your cold winds and white blankets,
your no nonsense attitude, your complete
disregard for a body's need for warmth.

Come on. I've readied myself. Brought
in wood for the fire, added insulation
to the rafters, dragged out the fur-
lined boots and downy comforters,

filled the cupboards with soups and the labors
of the summer garden. Come on.

Come December. Quickly. I need to be held
in your frigid arms. How can you disappoint
me when their is no expectation of warmth,
no hope for the cold, which has settled in the marrow

of mourning, to leave me? I like that about you--
that you rarely disappoint. Come soon white roads
and icy limbs. You too, grey skies and pelting sleet.

Bring along your friend, the bitter wind. I like the way
he makes my lungs hurt with each labored

breath I take on my morning walk. The way
I start to taste my own blood as my heart
empties and fills and empties and fills. The way
that only losing myself completely to the elements

affirms that I am not dying at all but very much
alive. He humbles me and brings me reason
to come home to you, to put the kettle on

for one more cup of tea, to watch again the slow
way you bring the cracked porcelain to your lips.

*******************************************

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Storm Warnings

The glass has been falling all the afternoon,
And knowing better than the instrument
What winds are walking overhead, what zone
Of grey unrest is moving across the land,
I leave the book upon a pillowed chair
And walk from window to closed window, watching
Boughs strain against the sky

And think again, as often when the air
Moves inward toward a silent core of waiting,
How with a single purpose time has traveled
By secret currents of the undiscerned
Into this polar realm. Weather abroad
And weather in the heart alike come on
Regardless of prediction.

Between foreseeing and averting change
Lies all the mastery of elements
Which clocks and weatherglasses cannot alter.
Time in the hand is not control of time,
Nor shattered fragments of an instrument
A proof against the wind; the wind will rise,
We can only close the shutters.

I draw the curtains as the sky goes black
And set a match to candles sheathed in glass
Against the keyhole draught, the insistent whine
Of weather through the unsealed aperture.
This is our sole defense against the season;
These are the things we have learned to do
Who live in troubled regions.

-Adrienne Rich

*********************************************

A year ago today an F-4 tornado hit this town
and left behind a swath of destruction and an outpouring
of kindness from the community for those who had lost
everything in a matter of seconds. Miraculously, no one
died though a few people were severely injured.

I'll not forget that day, the warnings beeping on my computer
every 15 minutes or so all day long, going to get my son
from school and bringing him home where he would
ride the storm out, without me, in a basement totally
black at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Thankfully my neighbors were home and knew they
needed to come over and get in the basement, so he
wasn't alone.

But I didn't know that. I had gone back to work as there
were still just watches in the area. I had only been back 20
minutes or so when the tornado hit.

Wes called and told me he was heading to the basement
because it was getting very dark and he heard a strange
sound--like a train far away.

His voice started to sound worried and then he said,
"Mom, someone's in the house" and we lost connection.

I was beside myself. By that time, the sirens were going off
and I couldn't leave work. By the time I could leave work,
there were no phone services available at all. It seemed
like it took an eternity for me to get home.

When I got home, I found him sitting on the back steps.
He said, "I'm glad to see you, Mom. Are you ok?"

We were without power all night that night. The rain kept
pouring. At about 5 or so, I realized Mom and Dad were
on the side of town that got hit hard. They had decided
to leave their home and go to the VFW. The bar is below
ground level, so they felt better about being there than
in their home beneath the staircase.

It took me nearly 45 minutes to get to them (about 3
miles from here). Power lines were down everywhere,
people were trying to get out of their demolished homes
or into their neighborhoods to see if they still had a home.
Emergency crews were all over the place--fire trucks,
ambulance, police cars, etc.



It's raining today and we have thunderstorm warnings,
but it doesn't look like we're going to have tornadic
activity.

**********************************************

So much has changed in a year.


How I wish I could get in my car now
and go get my dad and take him home.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We're All Mad

I've seen the best minds
of my generation destroyed by madness (Allen Ginsberg)

Everyone's damned mad,
and what the hell's a best
mind? Grocery store clip-out
queen or suck-me-in-movie
theatre darkness king?
We're all fucking mad.

...dragging themselves through
the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix...

Rally round a fix
for madness, minus
broken veins, swollen eyes.
Castrate, tubligate, sedate
the ingrates. Mad enough?

...who poverty and tatters
and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural
darkness...

Six hours into the drive,
the road slithers. I ride
her belly like a parasite,
round her curves at 90,
feel my foot grow larger
as the mountain gets higher.

...with dreams, with drugs,
with waking nightmares,
alcohol and cock and endless balls...

Anatomy ain't no testimony.
Just cuz you can't suck me
don't mean I can't be sucked.
Give it a go. We're all fucking mad.

...who wandered around and around
at midnight in the railroad yard
wondering where to go, and went,
leaving no broken hearts...

Five miles away, the CSX rolls
in for a hefty overhaul, whistle
choked with madness. Maul rules.
Kudzu and southern roadsides
claim another. Sip some lemonade
while the diesel's down, boys!

...who hiccuped endlessly trying
to giggle but wound up with a sob
behind a partition in a Turkish
Bath when the blonde & naked
angel came to pierce them
with a sword...

Watch the girls pass by--
the girls going home to mother,
lover, men behind doors. Watch
the way she lifts her skirt
in the madness of storm clouds.
Gathering.



***********************************

This is another really old one. I remember writing
this after I got back from Atlanta.

I went there to see Dylan with a friend
of mine who lived about 40 miles from Atlanta.

She had asked me if I minded bringing R.
with me (he still lived in Nashville, which was on
my way so why not get him?).

I made her promise me he would not have any drugs
with him. I even talked to him and bought his whole
story about how he wouldn't even think about bringing
any drugs with him and how he wanted me to know he
respected me. Right.

We get to our hotel, and the first thing he and my friend
do is start rollin a joint. Next thing you know, he's gettin
the coke outta his bag and they're rollin a line. And he's
drinking whiskey too (and so is she). Hell, I don't know
how we made it to the show and back, but we did (took
a cab).

Scared the hell outta me. Not a druggie type, me. Don't
want to be around it. I was so f**king mad about it all!

R. was on his best behavior all the way there. He just
sat up front and sipped his Lynchburg Lemonade and talked
about the beats.

It was fun finding this poem this morning. I remember
how pissed I was at my friend for putting me into such
a jeopardizing position. The whole time they were doing
their thing, I was thinking, "Oh my god...I'm gonna get
arrested and go to jail and lose my job, etc." But, nothing
happened.

Well, actually something happened. They were getting
really loud and someone at the hotel complained.

There was a knock on the door, and stoned D goes
to answer it and it's an Atlanta cop asking her to keep
the noise down.

Man, feeling panicky again just thinking about it!

Time to get ready for stats class.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Crocodile dreams


(or more accurately, nightmares) last night.

Todays "word of the day"(comes in my email
every day) is nightmare.

Animal Speak says if an alligator or croc has shown up, look
for an opportunity to touch very primal energies. There
is going to be an opportunity for strong birth and/or
initiation that will open new knowledge and wisdom
in some area of your life.

Also had several dreams about my former coworker
last night Again, they were more like nightmares
than dreams.

No, they were just troubling. I kept wondering if I was
dreaming or if what was happening in the dream
was really happening. I would wake from my dreaming,
and although they were troubled dreams, I would fall
right back to sleep. As a matter of fact, I slept
rather well last night. No 5 hour stretch, but decent
sleep.

Guess the long walk and all the raking yesterday helped.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Raking


Soon the neighborhood boys will come
knocking on my door, asking me if today
is the day. I've put them off for three
weeks now, ignored their knocks, hidden
behind doors so they couldn't see me,
held my breath so even I would stop
believing I existed. Because they want to rake
my leaves, because they want a little money,
because they come from broken homes,
because they remind me of the lonely
child I was, because they just need to do
something, they frighten me, these boys.
But today I'll answer. I'll go to the potting
shed and dig out two rakes and the leaf
bags from last year. I'll give them an hour
or so of good raking time before I start
the milk for some hot cocoa, and I'll watch
them through the back window so I can
disappear into the shadows of a childhood
I've not quite left behind.



****************************************



Sunday morning (coming down) & up

6:57

Wow. Haven't been up this early on a Sunday
in some time. Couldn't lie there in bed any longer.

Maybe because I actually got 5 straight hours of sleep.
That's amazing. That hasn't happened in months
or years. I can't remember when I last slept 5 solid
hours. So, I actually feel rested and ready to go.

Where? Don't know. To make some coffee.

****************************************
8:14 now.

Still no sun. Had my coffee and breakfast.
Read the paper. Did the crossword puzzle and word
jumble. Wrote a poem.

It's so quiet in here.

Wes asleep. Cats asleep.

The only sound the pecking of the keyboard
and the intermittent noise of the processor.

Oh, and the sump pump. I just
heard it. Must have rained some in the night.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Opossums--not just ugly little scavengers

Most people I know are repulsed when
they see an opossum, but not me. I always
feel bad when I see one dead on the side
or in the middle of the road.

Roadkill bothers me. Particularly large
roadkill. Saw a large decapitated deer
on my drive home the other night--pretty
shocking to see that perfectly whole body
there without a head. Chances are there were a few
opossums having dinner on her that night.

I think people are just repulsed at the whole
scavenger/carrion thing. How many people find
a vulture a thing of beauty? But how necessary
they are to the ecosystem.

Opossums are omnivores by the way.

So, for most folks, scavenger=disgusting.

But here are some cool thoughts on the opossum.
I almost ran over one the other night, but she
made it, so I figured there was a reason she
crossed my path and a reason I didn't run over her.

I consulted my book, Animal Speak, and read these
interesting little tidbits about the opossum:


Opposum teaches us how to use appearances. Sometimes
it's necessary to "play dead." Sometimes it is necessary
to put up a particular front to succeed most easily
and effectively. This is what the medicine of the opossum
can teach us. It also can show you when others are putting
up false fronts and deceptions. Opossum has an archetypal
energy that helps us to use appearances to our greatest
benefit and to help us to recognize when others are creating
false impressions.

Sometimes it is necessary to behave in a strategic manner.
We may need to appear fearful or fearless in spite of how
we truly feel. We may need to be apathetic or extremely caring.

Opossum is the only marsupial on the North American
continent. Most opossums have 13 nipples in their
pouches but there can be many more that 13 young
but only 13 will survive. 13 is a symbolic number
that many associate with bad luck, but it is also a symbol
for the one great sun around which the twelve signs
of the zodiac revolve. It is a symbol of the sun within.

That's all interesting to me, but there's more. The pouch
and the opossum's ability to play dead can help us to
pull things from our own bag of tricks. The opossum's
milk is extraordinarily rich in calcium, so a person
who has the opossum as a totem may want to evaluate
his or her own calcium levels.

Finally, the book says:

When opossum shows up as a totem, ask yourself
some important questions. Are you acting or about
to act in an in appropriate manner? Do you need
to strengthen your own appearance? Are others
putting up false appearances in front of you?
Do you need to divert attention away from some
activity? Are others trying to divert your attention?
Is it time to go into your bag of tricks and pull out
some new strategy? Learning to pretend and act
in ways and with realism is the magic the opossum
teaches.

*********************************************

I do believe animals come into our lives for reasons.
Though I don't believe the reasons can always be known,
nor do I think one should spend an undue amount
of time trying to figure them out, I like to delve
into the mystical/spiritual/magical and very
real ways we share this planet.

I believe people come into our lives for reasons
as well, even if we virtually only pass them
on the street. I think the animal world (of which
we are a part, of course, though we put ourselves
above other animals because of our ability
for speech and abstract thought) can teach
us much about ourselves.

Also found some interesting reading on the net
about opossums.

Of course, the opossum was just one animal
that crossed my path the other night. And then
there was also the shooting star. I know
lots of people see shooting stars often, but not
me. I live in town with lots of streetlights, and I
am not outside late at night very often, so I
just rarely see them. I was coming through the country
the other night when I saw it, and it was just so cool.

********************************************

No Frankfort or Lexington this weekend. Didn't
sleep well and don't feel up to the drive.

Going to work on stats and my research paper
in Criminology.

Decided to research why women commit fewer
violent crimes. My professor thinks women
commit many more violent crimes than most
people expect--it just tends to go unreported
or they tend to get lighter sentences. He isn't
saying that women do commit more violent
crimes than men, but they commit more
than most of us know.

So, going to go to the online journals
today and do some research on women
and violent crime.

Friday, November 10, 2006

In honor of my father

...who was on the flight deck
of the USS Yorktown when she was hit by the first
bomb, I post this. On April 18th, 2006, 2 nights
before he died, he told me about losing his best
friend that day and about the many other friends
he would lose during WWII, the Korean War, and
Vietnam. Dad devoted thirty years of his life
to the US Navy.

He had never spoken about the war to me, but he
needed to unburden his heart, so filled for 64 years,
of the pain of losing so many friends, of the horrors
of war, of the question I think he asked himself over
and over, "Why did I live?"

Mom told me that in the last month of his life, during his illness,
he not only named all those men, he knew their home towns
and their family names and how old they were and how they
died. Mom says she thinks they were there in the room with him
as he many times seemed to be talking to them. She said it was
heartbreaking and frightening to hear.

I didn't want to believe Dad told me these things
because he thought he was going to die, but I know
that's at least part of the reason.

I miss you, Dad. I raise my hand to my forehead
now and salute you, as I always did when your ship
would dock in Norfolk, VA when I was a young girl.

As I was then, I remain today--proud to be your daughter--
proud to call you father.


*****************************************************

Despite an intensive barrage and evasive manuvering, three "Vals" scored hits. Two of them were shot down soon after releasing their bomb loads; the third went out of control just as his bomb left the rack. It tumbled in flight and hit just abaft number two elevator on the starboard side, exploding on contact and blasting a hole about 10 feet square in the flight deck. Splinters from the exploding bomb decimated the crews of the two 1.1 inch gun mounts aft of the island and on the flight deck below. Fragments piercing the flight deck hit three planes on the hangar deck, starting fires. One of the aircraft, a Yorktown Dauntless, was fully fueled and carrying a 1,000 pound bomb. Prompt action by Lt. A. C. Emerson, the hangar deck officer, prevented a serious conflagration by releasing the sprinkler system and quickly extinguishing the fire.
The second bomb to hit the ship came from the port side, pierced the flight deck, and exploded in the lower part of the
funnel. It ruptured the uptakes for three boilers, disabled two boilers themselves, and extinguished the fires in five boilers. Smoke and gases began filling the firerooms of six boilers. The men at number one boiler, however, remained at their post despite their danger and discomfort and kept its fire going, maintaining enough steam pressure to allow the auxiliary steam systems to function.
A third bomb hit the carrier from the starboard side, pierced the side of number one elevator and exploded on the fourth deck, starting a persistent fire in the rag storage space, adjacent to the forward gasoline stowage and the magazines. The prior precaution of smothering the gasoline system with CO undoubtedly prevented the gasoline from igniting.
While the ship recovered from the damage inflicted by the dive-bombing attack, her speed dropped to six knots; and then at 1440, about 20 minutes after the bomb hit that had shut down most of the boilers, Yorktown slowed to a stop, dead in the water.
At about 1540, Yorktown prepared to get underway again; and, at 1550, the engine room force reported that they were ready to make 20 knots or better. The ship was not yet out of the fight.
Simultaneously, with the fires controlled sufficiently to warrant the resumption of fueling operations, Yorktown began fueling the gasoline tanks of the fighters then on deck. Fueling had just commenced when the ship's radar picked up an incoming air group at a distance of 33 miles away. While the ship prepared for battle - again smothering gasoline systems and stopping the fueling of the planes on her flight deck - she vectored four of the six fighters of the CAP in the air to intercept the incoming raiders. Of the 10 fighters on board, eight had as much as 23 gallons of fuel in their tanks. They accordingly were launched as the remaining pair of fighters of the CAP headed out to intercept the Japanese planes.

Yorktown is hit on the port side, amidships, by a Japanese Type 91 aerial torpedo during the mid-afternoon attack by planes from the carrier Hiryu.
At 1600, Yorktown churned forward, making 20 knots. The fighters she had launched and vectored out to intercept had meanwhile made contact, Yorktown received reports that the planes were "Kates." The Wildcats downed at least three of the attacking torpedo planes, but the rest began their approach in the teeth of a heavy antiaircraft barrage from the carrier and her escorts.
Yorktown maneuvered radically, avoiding at least two torpedoes before two "fish" tore into her port side within minutes of each other. The first hit at 1620. The carrier had been mortally wounded; she lost power and went dead in the water with a jammed rudder and an increasing list to port.
As the list progressed, Comdr.
C. E. Aldrich, the damage control officer, reported from central station that, without power, controlling the flooding looked impossible. The engineering officer, Lt. Comdr. J. F. Delaney, soon reported that all fires were out; all power was lost; and. worse yet, it was impossible to correct the list. Faced with that situation, Capt. Buckmaster ordered Aldrich, Delaney, and their men to secure and lay up on deck to put on life jackets.
The list, meanwhile, continued to increase. When it reached 26 degrees, Buckmaster and Aldrich agreed that the ship's capsizing was only a matter of minutes. "In order to save as many of the ship's company as possible," the captain wrote later, he "ordered the ship to be abandoned."
Over the minutes that ensued, the crew left ship, lowering the wounded to life rafts and striking out for the nearby destroyers and cruisers to be picked up by boats from those ships. After the evacuation of all wounded, the executive officer, Comdr.
I. D. Wiltsie, left the ship down a line on the starboard side. Capt. Buckmaster, meanwhile, toured the ship for one last time, inspecting her to see if any men remained. After finding no "live personnel," Buckmaster lowered himself into the water by means of a line over the stern. By that point, water was lapping the port side of the hangar deck.
The Oldest Living Thing in L.A.

At Wiltshire & Santa Monica I saw an opossum
Trying to cross the street. It was late, the street
Was brightly lit, the opossum would take
A few steps forward, then back away from the breath
Of moving traffic. People coming out of the bars
Would approach, as if to help it somehow.
It would lift its black lips and show them
The reddened gums, the long rows of incisors,
Teeth that went all the way back beyond
The flames of Troy & Carthage, beyond sheep
Grazing rock-strewn hills, fragments of ruins
In the grass at San Vitale. It would back away
Delicately & smoothly, stepping carefully
As it always had. It could mangle someone's hand
In twenty seconds. Mangle it for good. It could
Sever it completely from the wrist in forty.
There was nothing to be done for it. Someone
Or other probably called the LAPD, who then
Called Animal Control, who woke a driver, who
Then dressed in mailed gloves, the kind of thing
Small knights once wore into battle, who gathered
Together his pole with a noose on the end,
A light steel net to snare it with, someone who hoped
The thing would have vanished by the time he got there.

Larry Levis
Shoot, shoot, shoot and dang dang dang

Just got this in my email:

Fri Nov 10 -- Patricia Neal, a Kentucky native, will be a guest of honor at the Frankfort’s downtown Grand Theatre on Friday, Nov. 10. There will be a gala reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by a 7:30 p.m. showing of the classic movie, “Hud,” which earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1963. Following the movie, there will be a question-and-answer session with Neal, who was born at Packard in Whitley County, near Williamsburg and the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Neal will autograph copies of Stephen M. Shearer’s Patricia Neal – An Unquiet Life Saturday as part of the 25th Kentucky Book Fair.


It would only take me 2 1/2 hours to get there,
but I've made no plans.

Oh, wait. I forget I have no money coming
in these days. Hmmm...still have plastic!

The book fair is tomorrow, though, and Neal
will be signing books. I can go there, and then
I can go stay with Dawn in Lexington (and see
my son and daughter-in-law as well) and not
have to pay for a hotel. Cool!

I think I am going to Frankfort and Lexington this weekend!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Today's Peanuts Classics:

Charlie Brown is lying in bed, covers pulled
up to his neck. He says:

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Why me?"

Then a voice answers, "Nothing personal..your name
just happened to come up.."


That's how I feel lately.
*sigh*


*******************************************

Here's what my book says about seeing the owl, or having
the owl as your totem (I think the owl I saw was
a short-eared owl):

The Owl

The owl, like hawks and other birds of prey, has a third
eyelid. This nictitating eyelid moves from side to side. It cleanses
the eye, clearing its vision. This symbolizes so much about new
vision opening to you. It often reflects that you were born very
perceptive--with a vision of others you may or may not have
recognized or acknowledged.

and more:

The short-eared owl is one of the few owls that will hunt
day or night. This in itself reflects that its medicine
is powerful day and night. It is also unique in that it
will meticulously build its home. It will also migrate.
The markings on it are flame-like, reflecting its
scientific name (Asio flammeus). This fiery aspect
is reflected in its personality.

...The short-eared owl has a unique ability to show
up overnight wherever there is an eruption of field
mice populations. This sixth sense, of being in opportune
places at opportune times, is what this owl can teach.

Must have been why the owl was there on the shoulder
of the road looking out over the field. Lots of little
field mice out there.

and finally:

This owl is courageous and playful...strong and fast...
few birds compare to them in aerial ability...is a versatile
and curious bird...has no fear...reflects a blending of fire
and air...has a stimulating effect upon all energies...
awakens the imagination

now to go read about the opossum...


Last Night's Drive


Spotted owl perched on the shoulder
of the road, overlooking the recently
harvested fields, waited until I slowed
at the curve to see him well before he
opened his lovely wings and flew
over the fields, away from me, into
the dusk.

Persian tabby I mistook for a groundhog
at first, had sense enough to run back
into the woods as my car neared her body,
missing her by 10 feet or more, grateful
she knew which way to turn.

Opossum next, to the right, coming
from a ditch, not sure what to do,
hesitated, turned in circles a few times
as my car approached, then made the right
decision and crawled back
into the ditch from which she came.

Shooting star, fifteen minutes later,
across the same field the owl stood watch
over. My heart joyful for the gift of their
presence, for mysteries of the world
which we cannot know or understand
but must give ourselves to, for seeing
the owl and star and not hitting the other
two because I could see them in time,
for the synchronicity of our encounter.

Need to look up the animals in my Animal
Speaks to see what the significance is of meeting
each one last night. Generally, I just see lots
of road kill, as I did last night as well--lots
of deer--one decapitated--it was startling
to see and I almost had to pull off the road.
Worse to see one whose body is there in its
entirety with no head than one whose body
is badly mangled or just obliterated all over
the road.

I think last night is going to make its way into a poem.

Interviewed yesterday and it went well, but you never
know about these things. It's an 80 mile round trip
to and from the job, but it's all parkway. Would
like something close to home, but nothing has come up
yet.

Should know something Monday.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A few Linda Pastan poems this morning:



October Funeral

The world is shedding
its thousand skins.
The snake goes naked,
and the needles of the pine fall out
like the teeth of a comb I broke
upon your hair last week.
The ghosts of dead leaves
haunt no one. Impossible
to give you to the weather,
to leave you locked in a killed tree.
No metaphysic has prepared us
for the simple act of turning
and walking away.


***********************************

Excursion

I am a tourist
in my own life,
gazing at the exotic shapes
of flowers
as if someone else
had planted them;
barred
from the half-lit rooms
of children
by an invisible
velvet rope.
The dresses in my closet
are costumes
for a different woman,
though I hide myself
in their silky textures.
The man asleep
in my bed
knows me best
in the dark.

**********************************

Who Is It Accuses Us?

Who is it accuses us of safety,
as if the family were soldiers
instead of hostages,
as if the garden were not mined
with explosive peonies,
as if the most common death
were not by household accident?
We have chosen the dangerous life.
Consider the pale necks of the children
under their colored head scarves,
the skin around the husbands' eyes, flayed
by guilt and promises.
You who risk no more than your own skins
I tell you household gods
are jealous gods.
They will cover your windowsills
with the dust of sunsets;
they will poison your secret wells
with longing.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Exhalation


I write of my life—the southbound
that sings to me at night when loneliness
comes calling and sleep is elusive,

the cardinal who perches on the holly
next to the porch, unaware of my presence,
eyes darting, beak snapping up berries—

the way he takes wing when he catches
a drift of the cigarette I neglect
to inhale in my attempt to keep him
there a moment longer,

the children with runny noses
and ragged clothes who live
in the roach-infested house
across the street where the cops

are called in every other weekend
or so to break up the drunken fights--
the abuse momentarily halted,

the copper lakes filled with run-off
from the raping of this earth in the name
of progress, the empty hands

I turn upright in my attempt to reach
some quiet level of understanding.



****


Revisiting the archives.
Should be doing stats.
Rainy morning.
Day after my birthday.
I feel less pressure today
because no one will be paying
much attention to me.

Another old one:

**********


Work Song

I don't want to work
anymore. I want to write,
write, write all the wrongs,

etch them in your body
like a Durer, preserve
the shapes pain lends

itself to. I want to arch
my rights out over cathedral
ceilings, in dimly lit abbeys

and musty catacombs. Hide
them for years from the curious.
I want to write your wrongs,

create an arcane melody,
paint it cherry red.
Strum it like a Stradivarius

and dream my fingers are yours
playing the most complicated keys of me.



*


How 'bout that first line?

Guess I got my wish.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

This is my first birthday


...without my father. Somehow I feel worse
today than I did on Oct. 14th--his birthday--the first
time I did not have a father to go visit with, to take a card
and gift to, to share a cake with, to throw my arms around
his neck, to say I love you to.

He always brought my gift to the house--usually
without my mom. He'd stay and talk for a little
while. I could not have known last year that I would
not have him here this year.

Dad, I miss you.
48

Today. Can't remember what time of the day I was born,
but I think it was early in the morning.

Lauren and Ville came in last night. She cooked dinner
for me--well, for all of us. Nice meal. Great conversation.
I shared the letter with her, and I feel that this great burden
has been lifted from my shoulders though all she did
(and could do) was listen and share her thoughts
about its contents.

My mom sent over a birthday cake she baked for me.
I should call and thank her.

Pictures are back from the Florida trip. My god that can't be me
in those pictures. I don't see that woman when I look in the mirror.
I know if I stopped drinking so much I'd drop some weight,
but right now it's the only thing that gets me through the night.


I would exercise more, but in truth I don't like it much. Walking
is fine and cycling and swimming for that matter, but any time
my heart rate accelerates much I feel like I am going to have a panic
attack.

That's when I stopped exercising--when I developed
an anxiety disorder. The fear of having an episode will keep
you from doing many things you once enjoyed, and exercise,
or the way it affects the body, so mimics those terrifying panic
attacks that I am reluctant to give myself over to it.

There is no runner's high, there is no feeling that what you're doing
is good for your body. There's only the awareness of your heart
pounding so hard (as it should when you start exercising)
and the aura that comes with a panic attack and then that's
the end of attempting to exercise. It's just too frightening.

I ran track in high school and played tennis on a community
tennis league, but in my junior year I started having these
attacks. I didn't know what they were--I just knew I felt
that I was going to die. My heart rate would jump to 180-200
beats per minute, I couldn't breathe, and I felt I was going
to pass out.

I thought I was crazy, and so did my boyfriend
who had to take me to the ER when I had an attack.
I finally became more of a liability to him and he gave
up on me. I don't blame him. It's a weird thing to be around.

I saw doctors then, but they would just say things like

It's all about your attitude. You just have to think positively.
You just need to think more optimistically.

No one ever recommended seeing a therapist, so I never
saw one until I was already a mother of two who was suffering
greatly from these episodes.

I refused meds until 1994. At that time, my life was defined
by my disorder.

I could no longer travel more than a few miles from my home.
I couldn't drive over bridges (that's still a problem, but it's
better).
I couldn't ride in an elevator, and I couldn't take the stairs
either because, again, that's exercise, and I would get panicky
when my heart started beating faster as I ascended.
I couldn't stand to be in a large group.
I couldn't go one day without an episode.

I was utterly exhausted and certain that I would never
be better.

My medication gave me my life back, but once the panic
subsided, then I was hit smack in the face with full-blown
manic depression. The cycles were vicious.

It's a dangerous thing to be manic. You do so many things
you would never do if you were in your right mind.
You take so many risks. You feel invincible. You become
overbearing and arrogant. You just know you're all that
and a bag of chips.

But damn was it exciting. I never felt more alive than
I did during my manic cycles, and I have not felt that alive
since the mania subsided (which happened during menopause).

Now, I just feel tired. I can chalk up the depression to external
factors over the last 6 months--Dad's death, my father-in-law's
illness, my son's surgery, the letter I received, and the loss
of my job, etc. Those are all "real" events.

Depression before was always internally sparked and poorly
understood. Its origins were from before birth--I firmly
believe that.

So, today is my 48th, and though things suck royally
right now, I am happy to be here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Food of Love

I could never sing. In the grade-school operetta
I sat dark offstage and clattered coconut shells.
I was the cavalry coming, unmusical, lonely.

For five years, I played the piano and metronome.
I read Deerslayer in small print while I waited for my lesson,
and threw up after the recital at the Leopold Hotel.

I went to a liberal college, but I never learned
how to sit on the floor or help the sweet folk song forward.
My partridge had lice, and its pear-tree had cut-worm blight.

Yet this song is for you. In your childhood a clear falsetto,
now you sing along in the bars, naming old songs for me.
Even drunk, you chirrup; birds branch in your every voice.

It's for you, what I never sing. So I hope if ever
you reach, in the night, for a music that is not there
because you need food, or philosophy, or bail,

you'll remember to hear the noise that a man might make
if he were an amateur, clattering coconut shells,
if he were the cavalry, tone-deaf but on its way.




Happiness

I sent you this bluebird of the name of Joe
with "Happiness" tattooed onto his left bicep.
(For a bluebird, he was a damn good size.)
And all you can say is you think your cat has got him?

I tell you the messages aren't getting through.
The Golden Gate Bridge is up past its ass in traffic;
tankers colliding, singing telegrams out on strike.
The machineries of the world are raised in anger.

So I am sending this snail of the name of Fred
in a small tricolor sash, so the cat will know him.
He will scrawl out "Happiness" in his own slow way.
I won't ever stop until the word gets to you.

William Dickey
Test

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dresses I have never worn


Ruby Tells All

When I was told, as Delta children were,
that crops don't grow unless you sweat at night,
I thought that it was my own sweat they meant.
I have never felt as important again
as on those early mornings, waking up,
my body slick, the moon full on the fields.
That was before air conditioning.
Farm girls sleep cool now and wake up dry
but still the cotton overflows the fields.
We lose everything that's grand and foolish;
it all becomes something else. One by one,
butterfiles turn into caterpillars
and we grow up, or more or less we do,
and, Lord, we do lie then. We lie so much
truth has a false ring and it's hard to tell.

I wouldn't take crap off anybody
if I just knew that I was getting crap
in time not to take it. I could have won
a small one now and then if I was smarter,
but I've poured coffee here too many years
for men who rolled in in Peterbilts,
and I have gotten into bed with some
if they could talk and seemed to be in pain.

I never asked for anything myself;
giving is more blessed and leaves you free.
There was a man, married and fond of whiskey.
Given the limitations of men, he loved me.
Lord, we laid concern upon our bodies
but then he left. Everything has its time.
We used to dance. He made me feel the way
a human wants to feel and fears to.
He was a slow man and didn't expect.
I would get off work and find him waiting.
We'd have a drink or two and kiss awhile.
Then a bird-loud morning late one April
we woke up naked. We had made a child.
She's grown up now and gone though God knows where.
She ought to write, for I do love her dearly
who raised her carefully and dressed her well.

Everything has its time. For thirty years
I never had a thought about time.
Now, turning through newspapers, I pause
to see if anyone who passed away
was younger than I am. If one was
I feel hollow for a little while
but then it passes. Nothing matters enough
to stay bent down about. You have to see
that some things matter slightly and some don't.
Dying matters a little. So does pain.
So does being old. Men do not.
Men live by negatives, like don't give up,
don't be a coward, don't call me a liar,
don't ever tell me don't. If I could live
two hundred years and had to be a man
I'd take my grave. What's a man but a match,
a little stick to start a fire with?

My daughter knows this, if she's alive.
What could I tell her now, to bring her close,
something she doesn't know, if we met somewhere?
Maybe that I think about her father,
maybe that my fingers hurt at night,
maybe that against appearances
there is love, constancy, and kindness,
that I have dresses I have never worn.

Miller Williams

********************************************

That has to be one of my favorite all time poems. I love
it so. I can see Ruby. I know this woman. I know her
daughter. I know her man. I can see her dresses.

I want to write a poem called

Dresses I Have Worn

It would go something like this:

There's the long, black silk one
with the sublte sexy slit in the back. Three-
quarter length sleeves, fitted waistline,
zippered back, brass buttons in a U-
shape (that dips slightly away from the waist
and toward the rear for added affect)
that I wore to Papaw's funeral. Too small
now to fit the weight of the ages, I still
feel compelled to keep it there, at the back
of the closet, wrapped in plastic.

But it would say more without being so
desciptive about the dresses themselves.
I just felt something go through
my body as I touched those dresses--
something close to melancholy or wistfulness
or maybe even dysphoria.

Word retrieval problems march on!

Oh those dresses in the back of my closet
that I've kept though I can't wear them any longer,
and even if I could, I don't know that I would.

Each of them was worn at a wedding,
funeral, class reunion, or dedication
of some sort.

But there's a poem lurking somewhere
in them there dresses, there is.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

God takes care of himself

What can I say? It's a Modest Mouse morning.


Styrofoam Boots / It's All Nice On Ice, Alright

Well all's not well
but i'm told that it'll all be quite nice
you'll be drowned in boots like Mafia
but your feet will still float like Christ's
and i'll be damned
they were right
i'm drowning upside down
my feet afloat like Christ's
i'm in heaven
trying to figure out which stack
they're going to stuff us atheists into
when Peter and his monkey laugh
and i laugh with them
i'm not sure what at
they point and say
we'll keep you in the back
polishing halos, baking manna and gas
well some guy comes in looking a bit like everyone i ever seen
he moves just like crisco disco
breath 100% listerine
he says looking at something else
but directing everything to me
ever time anyone gets on their knees to pray
well it makes my telephone ring
and i'll be damned
he said you were right
no one's running this whole thing
he had a theory too
he said that god takes care of himself
and you of you
it's all nice on ice alright
and it's not day
and it's not night
but it's all nice on ice alright

From the album The Lonesome Crowded West

Monday, October 23, 2006

Don't know how

I made it through the weekend.

It's 10:53. I haven't washed my face.

I am still wearing the clothes I slept in
(Bob Dylan t-shirt and black sweat pants).

Haven't brushed my teeth.

Haven't started on my mid-term.

Didn't answer the door though whomever it was
was certainly persistent. I think they knocked
for almost 20 minutes.

I have been home so little in the last 20
years that I don't know how to do this.

Many times through those years I would
think of all the things I was neglecting
because I didn't have time to do them.

My bedroom, for example. One of the last rooms
in the house to be renovated. It still has wallpaper
peeling off the ceilings and walls.

Three layers. Beautiful old floral print. 12 foot
ceilings. Beautiful crown molding and baseboards.

I was going to start on it in January as that would
be the first time in a number of years that I would
not be in school.

I was going to strip the paper off the ceilings and walls.
Repair the plaster cracks. Replace any rotted wood
around the windows. Prime and sand and wash
the walls. Then paint them a lovely eggplant or some
such variation on a purple theme. Then I was going
to accessorize with reds, golds, and sage green.



I could start it now but I have no enthusiasm for it.

I just sit here, sipping my cold coffee and not believing
this has happened to me.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

After Reading Pastan's Notes to My Mother

I

You've never sent me one
letter, though you never forget
to drop a thank-you card
in the mail (always handwritten
on the back of a picture-you-took-
turned-postcard). Though I know
the shape of your headstone
and where you'll lie (your casket
stacked atop Dad's in the Veteran's
Cemetery), I can't say I'll visit and leave
you messages there. I can't give you
messages here, though I rehearse
the lines daily. It's as if you already
don't exist, and I am talking to a stone.

II

I'd like to think I wrote
you letters from camp,
but I can't remember if I ever
went to camp except once, at
fourteen when I thought I
was ready to exert my wing-
spreading detachment.
So I'll tell you now what happened
that summer: I fell in love
with the tanned, blonde lifeguard
and felt the rush of a long
tongue in my mouth; I confessed
my sins and let my sobbing self
be soothed in the arms of the christian
kids; I smoked pot for the first time
in the amphitheatre after the crowd
had dispersed; and I realized for the first
time that maybe home and the idea
of missing it might just be some grand
scheme from a very clever creator.

III

Your hair was always perfectly
swept up into a French twist
or an elegant chignon.
Your uniforms were so stiffly
starched it seemed they were
ready to stand at attention, so bright
white it hurt my eyes to look at them.
You never let one of us kids forget
how bad women had it out "there,"
how cruel men were, how backbitingly
vicious other women were, the drudgery
of spending ones entire life
cleaning up after others. Perhaps today,
my muteness can be explained by my
insistence not to repeat the pattern.
I won't complain (much), I nearly
always cut my own hair and refuse
to twist it into anything that resembles
some French-do, and I never wear white.

*******************************************

Started this in FL after coming in from the beach one
day. I love Pastan's poem. It makes me think about
the mom I didn't have and to think about the one
I do have in ways that are uncomfortable to think
about but true.

Truth is supposed to set us free, but I'll be damed
when I tell the truth. I just keep getting caught in the snares
and traps that litter the forest floors and the bedroom
floors and the dark ceilings of my life.

Bad day yesterday. I am wasting time letting myself
feel so badly about the recent turn of events. I keep
saying I can't help it. I'm tired. I'm shot. I'm bummed.
I'm in a state of despair. And that is all true, but I have
to do something to get out of this funk.

It would help if the sun would shine.

Rainy again this morning.

When I was working, I would entertain
the idea of how lovely it would be to just
lounge around in bed all day on the rainy days.
To just read books and sip tea and listen to some
great music.

Here I am. Not working. Unable to lounge
around in bed.

Doesn't seem so appealing now.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Choosing Your Clothes

The day you died, the sun came
up (as expected), and I slept later
than usual. When Katherine called
to tell me you were beating
the windows out of Sammie's do-it-all
trailer, I told her to relax. There
were things about you she could not
know, I said.

I could not know the next morning
would find me pulling your husband
away from your body, dead now
at least eight hours.

Death is not lovely like the trailing
ivy that covered the chain-linked fence
that fenced you in. Not easy and light
like the breeze that lifted your hair
and let it fall softly across your face
that last day in May when you told
me you were better.

I saw a picture of you in the house
when we were trying to find something
to bury you in. You were young and small
and smiling. Katherine and Glinda kept looking
for the three piece outfit, the one with black
slacks and a vest and a long-sleeved white
silk shirt. The outfit they felt best represented
the you who would be on display for friends
and family.

I was overcome and unable to breathe
in that small house, utilities turned off,
boxes all over the floors. And I felt
I was suffocating in the slow way a person
does when they think nothing they do
makes a difference.

I excused myself from that room and your life.

Today, I have only this: a purse
with five pairs of sunglasses; a memo
to yourself (with a call list that included
me); some small change, a few ink pens
and your address book.

I have thought about calling the numbers
in your book so many times since that day,
but always reason wins out and I decide
there is no point in calling.

I still can't bring myself to take flowers
to your stone. To make more of you in death
than I could in life.

************************************************


Juat looking over some old poems. I'd like to do
something with this one.

Bad day today.

Wish I didn't have class tonight.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dropping the euphemism

He has five children, I'm papa
to a hundred pencils.
I bought the chair he sat in

from a book of chairs,
staplers and spikes
that let me play Vlad the Impaler

with invading memos. When I said
I have to lay you off
a parallel universe was born

in his face, one where flesh
is a loose shirt
taken to the river and beaten

against rocks. Just
by opening my mouth I destroyed
his faith he's a man

who can think honey-glazed ham
and act out the thought
with plastic or bills. We sat.

I stared at my hands, he stared
at the wall staring at my hands.
I said other things

about the excellent work he'd done
and the cycles of business
which are like

the roller-coaster thoughts
of an oscilloscope. All this time
I saw the eyes of his wife

which had always been brown
like almonds but were now brown
like the crust of bread. We walked

to the door, I shook his hand,
felt the bones pretending
to be strong. On his way home

there was a happy song
because de Sade invented radio,
the window was open, he saw

delphinium but couldn't remember
the name. I can only guess.
Maybe at each exit

that could have led his body
to Tempe, to Mars, he was tempted
to forget his basketball team

of sons, or that he ever liked
helping his wife clean carrots,
the silver sink turning orange.

Running's natural to most animals
who aren't part
of a lecture series on Nature's

Dead Ends. When I told him,
I saw he was looking for a place
in his brain to hide

his brain. I tried that later
with beer, it worked until I stood
at the toilet to make my little

waterfall, and thought of him
pushing back from a bar
to go make the same noise.

Bob Hicok

*********************************************

Found this poem in a box I brought home
from my office. Kept it long ago when I was
counseling people who had been terminated
from employment.

Don't think I ever read it to anyone.

My dismissal was not quite so nice,
and I don't think the person who let me go
left my office feeling anything other than
worry about workplace violence (she brought
up counseling twice during the whole ordeal).

She is so very, very not connected.
To this life. To the universe. To love.

I think I feel something close to pity.

I know I feel violated. I know I was unfairly
released. I know my being aches.

Not sure about the line breaks in the poem.
They seem random to me, but maybe that's
the feeling Hicok wanted to convey.
The random nature of these things.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday in Macon

My mother, nearly blind
from cataracts, follows me
through the courtyard. The pool
is covered in its winter black tarp.

Though I assume she cannot see
this closure of a season, she finds
a reason to remark: "How many
little feet must have trod this path

all summer." And I think, "People
see what they want to see even when
they cannot see." But I only follow
her comment with some helpful

advice. This way, Mom. Step up
here, turn right there, the coffee's
over here, the doughnuts are old,
the milk outdated at the Deluxe Buffett.

And she just follows me, listens to my
advice like I'm a sage or a saint. Gives
herself in her stockinged feet to my
every suggestion. I even tell her

which container is the strawberry
jelly, which button is caffeinated coffee,
which chair is clear of crumbs
and relatively safe to sit in.

Friday, October 06, 2006

As small as a world and as large as alone


Bad day yesterday

and totally drained today. Going to have lunch
with a friend then come home and start packing.

My mom, my youngest and I will leave for Naples
tomorrow. The trip has been planned for months.
I wasn't worried about the cost when I planned the trip.

I was working. Thankfully, most of it has been paid for already.

I want to just will myself to let go of all of this nonsense
for the next 9 days so I can just enjoy seeing my sister,
my nieces, and my new great nephew.

The ocean has always been such a calming presence,
so I plan to just lie on the beach all morning and into
the afternoon.

Just lie there and look out at the water
and think about how small I feel in the presence of such
a great expanse.

And hopefully I'll find a shell that will sing to me
so sweetly I won't remember my troubles (thank
you ee).

My hat's off to you, mr cummings!:



maggie & millie & molly & may
. . . e. e. cummings

maggie and millie and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

millie befriended a stranded star
who's rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Was advised

by friends
to subpoena my personnel file.

Geez. Don't think like that. Need to think
like that now.

Never a write up. Never a complaint.
But there are bad bad bad people out there
who would like nothing better than to see
someone else suffer.

What a bunch of bunk.

This whole thing I mean. Not the advice.
The advice is given from others not so naive--
others who actually care.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

One thousand Eight hundred and Twenty Miles to Dodge and Back (Including a Tornado)

Wow. Amazed today and riding high.

Billy Collins alone was worth the price of admission,
the hotel cost for 4 nights, the cost of all the food I ate
and wine I drank. All the tanks of gas I burned and the tornado
I barely missed(had to get off the road and didn't
make it to Jersey until Friday morning).

More about it later. So much I want to write.
So much I don't want to forget.

Being there was one of the most inspiring events
of my life.

I even left the troubling letter below alone. Honest.
It didn't enter my mind until I started home.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On Receiving An Anonymous Letter In The Mail Yesterday in Which I Am Told My Father Was Not My Father



I knew from the moment
I saw the nondescript
white envelope, no return address,
my name misspelled,
that I probably should not open it.

And I didn't then. I
waited until I got to work,
in the safety of flourescent lights
and coworkers who don't have enough
vested interest in me to do particularly
much when, two minutes after reading it,
I walk into one of their rooms and tell them
that I'm not who I thought I was.
That my father might not have been
my father.


**********************************************

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cream of Chicken Soup River

Back to crazy dreams again. Feel like I must have been
the one the doctors drugged last Friday.

In one dream, nearly all the children I have ever known
(my playmates, children I taught in kindergarten, children's
choir, and Sunday School [yes, I once attended church],
children I had in my brownie group, children I had in my
cub scout group, children I babysat, children I administered
meds to when I was a Med Tech, children I privately tutored,
children of the neighborhood, my nieces, and children
whose faces I did not know) were all floating away in a river
swollen and overflowing with cream of chicken soup.

They weren't drowning or anything like that.

They were just floating along.

I was looking out my kitchen window watching the current
carry them further and further away. I was watching
without horror or concern or happiness.

I was simply watching.

***********************************************

Last night I dreamed my house was destroyed
in a tornado. I remember telling my mother
to run to the basement as I grabbed my sleeping
son.

When we got to the basement, I was holding my infant
son (who is now 15), and also telling my 15 year old
and his friend to get down and cover their heads.

So, Wes was a baby in the dream and Wes was Wes.

It was so frightening. I could hear the freight train sound
and I could hear things hitting the house.

I had to keep telling my son and his friend to stay
put. I kept trying to keep the baby covered with his
blanket. I kept worrying about the fact that he didn't
have socks on.

I heard this tremendous sound of crashing metal
very nearby and fearing we may have to evacuate the basement,
I got up and looked out the window.

In the backyard of the house next door to me, two semi
trucks had been picked up by the tornado and dropped
in the yard. I remember that the trailers had pictures
of carnival rides painted on them so I thought they must
be trucks bringing the carnival to town.

Finally when I thought it was safe to come out
of the basement, I picked up the baby and told Mom,
Wes and his friend to follow me out.

My home was completely demolished. Only the basement
remained. My whole block was obliterated. I remember
thinking things are just things. We made it. We made it.

Of course the bad weather we had all weekend contributed
to that dream (or nightmare I should say).

Strange thing is how calm I felt when I awoke.

Generally when I have a dream like that, I wake up
with my heart racing, but I felt at peace. I felt like
everything was going to be ok.

*************************************************

I want to go to the cemetery and put some beautiful
burgundy, yellow, and purple mums next to Dad's
grave.

I don't know if I ever asked him what his favorite
season was. Autumn is mine. Such beauty to be found
in dying.

Funny how many days I think about
how many things I don't know about Dad.

Or maybe I do know but I can't remember what they are right now.

Monday, September 25, 2006

ON DEATH, WITHOUT EXAGGERATION

It can't take a joke,
find a star, make a bridge.
It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,
building ships, or baking cakes.

In our planning for tomorrow,
it has the final word,
which is always beside the point.

It can't even get the things done
that are part of its trade:
dig a grave,
make a coffin,
clean up after itself.

Preoccupied with killing,
it does the job awkwardly,
without system or skill.
As though each of us were its first kill.

Oh, it has its triumphs,
but look at its countless defeats,
missed blows,
and repeat attempts!

Sometimes it isn't strong enough
to swat a fly from the air.
Many are the caterpillars
that have outcrawled it.

All those bulbs, pods,
tentacles, fins, trachea,
nuptial plumage, and winter fur
show that it has fallen behind
with its halfhearted work.

Ill will won't help
and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d'etat
is so far not enough.

Hearts beat inside eggs.
Babies' skeletons grow.
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees far away.

Whoever claims that it's omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it's not.

There's no life
that couldn't be immortal
if only for a moment.

Death
always arrives by that very moment too late.

In vain it tugs at the knob
of the invisible door.
As far as you've come
can't be undone.

Wislawa Szymborska

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Surgery

The surgery actually went well. Recovery room about
an hour. When your child is the one is surgery
and recovery, the clock on the wall seems to stop.

The minutes just drag by. You think you're all occupied
with talk of the rain and with the reading of articles
in Ladies Home Journal or AARP only to look up at the clock
and find that a mere five minutes have passed.

Wes was very nauseated after surgery. We didn't get to come
home until 5:15 (got there at 6:20 a.m.--rain pouring--dark.)

He feels better tonight. I took he and five of his friends
to a Chinese restaurant(I dropped them off and went back
to get them). He called and told me they were going to walk
across the street to the video store to get some campy horror
films, so I picked them up at the video store.

I can hear them in there laughing as I type.

He is uncomfortable but not really in pain. Just have to make
sure he doesn't get an infection.

Leaving for the Dodge Poetry Festival Wednesday, so his dad
needs to know what to look for (signs of infection). So, we'll
cover that ground tomorrow.

Little sleep last night. Had just fallen asleep (an hour or so)
when Wes woke me up telling me it sounded like a tornado
outside. We had warnings all night.

Oh the rain and the wind and the thunder and lightning...
on and on and on all night. No power for hours. Little
sleep, but we are better today.

Just about to finish the Callas biography. Didn't know
she was only 53 when she died. Didn't know so much
about her life.

Tired. Stats homework tomorrow. Need to go see Mom.

She called today and told me she stayed in the closet
beneath the stairwell for some time last night
while the winds were howling.

I don't know what she and Dad used to do in these circumstances.
I guess I never asked.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Grief is a Mouse

793

Grief is a Mouse—
And chooses Wainscot in the Breast
For His Shy House—
And baffles quest—

Grief is a Thief—quick startled—
Pricks His Ear—report to hear
Of that Vast Dark—
That swept His Being—back—

Grief is a Juggler—boldest at the Play—
Lest if He flinch—the eye that way
Pounce on His Bruises—One—say—or Three—
Grief is a Gourmand—spare His luxury—

Best Grief is Tongueless—before He'll tell—
Burn Him in the Public Square—
His Ashes—will
Possibly—if they refuse—How then know—
Since a Rack couldn't coax a syllable—now.

Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Capturing the Essence of Carlotta

Dragged my old Minolta
out at lunch today
to capture the Maximilian

sunflowers
draping themselves across
dead yucca stalks.

And I thought of Carlotta.

How she must have begged
to drape her body across his,
how she suffered

at Miramar without him,
all those nights with only her little
doll max in bed with her,

the voices of the dead her most
steadfast friends.


**************************************************

I was taking some paper out to the recylcing bins
when I saw the sunflowers and just had to go inside
and get my old Minolta X370. Having problems with
the shutter speed. Can't seem to figure out how to fix
it, so the pics might not turn out.

Also captured what I think is the last pink hardy hibiscus
of the season. It was so lovely there, near the ground
but fully opened, dead blossoms strewn all around.

Been sneezing my head off, but this is my time of year.
Planted asters and ornamental kale and pansies and mums
over the weekend. Been paying for it since but it all looks so very lovely.