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



"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


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

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

Maybe I will feel these things again soon.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006


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!



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,
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

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.



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:
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 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)