Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Had a meltdown tonight


on my way 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


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


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

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.


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

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

Guess the long walk and all the raking yesterday helped.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


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


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


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.


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 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

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.



I am a tourist
in my own life,
gazing at the exotic shapes
of flowers
as if someone else
had planted them;
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


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.

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

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
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.