Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Augusta

...is only 37 miles west of St. Louis (as the crow flies)--about 43 actual miles
but if miles were measured in the decades that have passed, one would say Augusta is so very near the hub of things but so many decades removed from the hustle-bustle of the city
that in some ways it feels like it's thousands of miles away from anything. It's literally like walking back in time. The population of Augusta is 300. It has 12 or so B & B's, a few restaurants, a small grocery store, 3 wineries, and some gift/antique stores. It was so quiet and idyllic and healing.

To be truthful though, as soon as I exited 64 W and got on 94 (South, I think), I started hearing
Dueling Banjos in my head and thinking about James Dickey!

All that said, it was an absolutely amazing place to visit. The 16 miles of winding road
that took me to Augusta and the B & B I was to stay in for the next 2 nights filled me with
an excitement I had not felt in some time. The road rises and falls in synch with the rolling
Missouri wine country. I kept wanting to look to the right of me, past the drop-off, over the treeline and to the river running parallel (at that point) to 94. What a view!

My project: to interview the winemaker at Mt. Pleasant winery for a paper I am writing in my Psych class. He is a dynamic man who loves what he's doing. More about Mark later.

I gotta stop right here and right now and post James Dickey's Cherrylog Road. I thought about Dickey a great deal out there in the middle of nowhere and I thought of Dante "I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost." The last line of this Dickey poem just wrecks me every time I read this poem. "Wild to be wreckage forever."

Here's Dickey:

Cherrylog Road
by James L. Dickey


Off Highway 106
At Cherrylog Road I entered
The ’34 Ford without wheels,
Smothered in kudzu,
With a seat pulled out to run
Corn whiskey down from the hills,

And then from the other side
Crept into an Essex
With a rumble seat of red leather
And then out again, aboard
A blue Chevrolet, releasing
The rust from its other color,

Reared up on three building blocks.
None had the same body heat;
I changed with them inward, toward
The weedy heart of the junkyard,
For I knew that Doris Holbrook
Would escape from her father at noon

And would come from the farm
To seek parts owned by the sun
Among the abandoned chassis,
Sitting in each in turn
As I did, leaning forward
As in a wild stock-car race

In the parking lot of the dead.
Time after time, I climbed in
And out the other side, like
An envoy or movie star
Met at the station by crickets.
A radiator cap raised its head,

Become a real toad or a kingsnake
As I neared the hub of the yard,
Passing through many states,
Many lives, to reach
Some grandmother’s long Pierce-Arrow
Sending platters of blindness forth

From its nickel hubcaps
And spilling its tender upholstery
On sleepy roaches,
The glass panel in between
Lady and colored driver
Not all the way broken out,

The back-seat phone
Still on its hook.
I got in as though to exclaim,
“Let us go to the orphan asylum,
John; I have some old toys
For children who say their prayers.”

I popped with sweat as I thought
I heard Doris Holbrook scrape
Like a mouse in the southern-state sun
That was eating the paint in blisters
From a hundred car tops and hoods.
She was tapping like code,

Loosening the screws,
Carrying off headlights,
Sparkplugs, bumpers,
Cracked mirrors and gear-knobs,
Getting ready, already,
To go back with something to show

Other than her lips’ new trembling
I would hold to me soon, soon,
Where I sat in the ripped back seat
Talking over the interphone,
Praying for Doris Holbrook
To come from her father’s farm

And to get back there
With no trace of me on her face
To be seen by her red-haired father
Who would change, in the squalling barn,
Her back’s pale skin with a strop,
Then lay for me

In a bootlegger’s roasting car
With a string-triggered I2-gauge shotgun
To blast the breath from the air.
Not cut by the jagged windshields,
Through the acres of wrecks she came
With a wrench in her hand,

Through dust where the blacksnake dies
Of boredom, and the beetle knows
The compost has no more life.
Someone outside would have seen
The oldest car's door inexplicably
Close from within:

I held her and held her and held her,
Convoyed at terrific speed
By the stalled, dreaming traffic around us,
So the blacksnake, stiff
With inaction, curved back
Into life, and hunted the mouse

With deadly overexcitement,
The beetles reclaimed their field
As we clung, glued together,
With the hooks of the seat springs
Working through to catch us red-handed
Amidst the gray breathless batting

That burst from the seat at our backs.
We left by separate doors
Into the changed, other bodies
Of cars, she down Cherrylog Road
And I to my motorcycle
Parked like the soul of the junkyard

Restored, a bicycle fleshed
With power, and tore off
Up Highway 106, continually
Drunk on the wind in my mouth,
Wringing the handlebar for speed,
Wild to be wreckage forever.

James Dickey, “Cherrylog Road” from The Whole Motion: Collected Poems 1945-1992. Copyright � 1992 by James Dickey. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press, www.wesleyan.edu/wespress.



I made so many notes, and I crossed so many rivers, and I counted so many dead animals (seems I have some fascination with that--yikes!), and I noticed so many roadside memorials, and I tasted so much great wine, and I dreamed so many crazy dreams.

One day, when I finish my classes and before I jump into grad school, I am going to write poems again. I miss writing. I miss the way writing helps you train your eyes to see things differently, to want to dig down into that place in yourself that knows the way all of us on this planet are so crazy connected to one another and so utterly distant from one another.

I miss writing. I am going to try to write some more later. Work to do.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Forsythia...
is in bloom all over this town...I just love that word...forsythia...and I love the plant. It looks so spindly and ragged all year, but come spring, it outshines every other plant that's beginning to bloom.
Forsythia, anemome, sycamore, peony, lavendar, honeysuckle...those are just words I love to speak and read and think about...what are some others? Hmmmm....caramel, tangerine, marmalade...

I really was going to write something about all the roadkill I passed on the way to class last night. Bad, bad couple of days for lots of four-legged creatures and some web-footed ones as well. On a 19 miles stretch of road, I passed 3 dead deer, 1 huge Canadian Goose, 3 skunks, a red-talied fox, so many squirrels I lost count, a duck, at least 3 oppossums, 2 raccoons, and 2 rabbits. It was just almost too much to think about.

I do have a roadkill poem running through my head, but it's going to have to wait.

Time to go get Wes from school and then get back to work and get some work done! Busy, busy time of year in this office. Summer school starts before too long, I have at least 25 students graduating from various programs, I have more folks coming in to see me to determine their eligibiity for training assistance, one of our local factories announced that they are closing and laying off over 300 hundred people so we'll be doing all we can to help them, and a new plant is going to be opening some time this summer and will be taking applications for positions in 2 weeks--so...busy, busy, busy.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Like a baby, stillborn,
like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.
L. Cohen



Everyone who Reached Out for Me

When I was 12, it was Carole Sue, only
she made the first tear, really, when she
called me uppity white girl (though she was whiter
than a North Pole ice-cap and my skin was Mediterranean
golden olive or some such golden color). For two

years, we were blissfully happy in our mutual discontent.
We became best friends when she nearly lost her arm
in a tangle with my kitchen storm door. That
was long before safety glass and 911, so I grabbed
the closest piece of cloth I could find (which happened
to be momma's favorite linen table cloth that was stretched
over the line in the laundry room) and by golly, I stopped
that bleeding long enough for the ambluance to get there.

And I think we might have made it without ever a bump
in the road, but she did a stupid thing--the stupiest thing--and kissed
Matthew Hawkins, who was just a little bit more than a bump in the road
(and a whole lot less than a best friend though I didn't know that then).
So I tore into her pretty white face with my hard-clinched
little uppity fist and showed her just how mean a golden girl could be.
That' s when I decided there was something to be said for tearing
things apart without actually making a tear, without really hearing
something rip or break, without making a sound sometimes. Knowing
was enough.


Good old Carole Sue. I wonder where she is these days. I really want to do something with the whole tearing idea because, well, because it's not just an idea. It is real. It has been a pattern of mine. I feel like I always do something to sabotage a relationship. I want closeness and I fear it. I know what it is to be close and I love what I know, but there is so much fear in closeness. Fear and pain and worry and having to have faith. Faith is the most difficult, I think, but fear is what grips me most of the time. I think if I had some faith, then I wouldn't be so fearful.

Geez am I tired! Still not sleeping well. Still having to deal with my raging hormones. Still feeling somewhat bored with myself.
Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free.

Listening to Leonard Cohen on the way to work this morning. My 15 year old son and his friends that ride to school with us every day always say, "Wes's mom has the coolest music!" That is, until I put on L.C.! Give them time and they'll love the man!

I feel like that bird on a wire--more like the drunk in a midnight choir...oh, and those lines in which he says, "Like a baby, stillborn, like a beast with his horn, I have torn everyone who reached out for me."

Yep, I feel like I've done the same damned thing--torn everyone who reached out for me. We're all just trying to be free. It's a hard thing. It's hard. It's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard rain's gonna fall....circling round like I do when I listen to music.

When I was listening to Cohen, I was thinking about Buckley's version of Hallelujah, and then once I started thinking about Buckley, I started thinking about Nina Simone--Lilac Wine

I lost myself on a cool damp night
gave myself to that misty light
was hypnotized by a strange delight
under the lilac tree

I make wine from the lilac tree
put my heart in its recipe
it makes me see what I want to see
and be what I want to be

well, I think more that I outta think
do things I never should do
I drink much than I outta drink
because it brings me back you

Lilac wine is sweet and heady/like my love/lilac wine, I feel unsteady/ where's my love?

or something to that affect

And then from Nina, I go to Cat Power (she covered Wild is the Wind on her covers CD)

and then I start thinking about my daughter and wondering how she and Ville (pronounced Vil-la) are doing.

Then I start singing some of Ville's songs off the Mattoid CD "Hello"
Funeral Party
Rat Poison

Then I start thinking about the rain and I am back to Cohen and searching for the CD that has Famous Blue Raincoat on it. Then I want to be anywhere except driving my car to work. Well, no, not really anywhere. For example, I don't want to be in the Muhlenberg County Jail!

A poet from M'ville has a chapbook called "Counting Down the Days in the Muhlneberg Co. Jail". I lost my copy and don't know where to get another, and he and I are no longer in touch, so I probably won't get another, but it was a damn fine chapbook.

And so round and round go the thoughts and I can't get any work done and I am way behind!!!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Was listening to Jonny Cash on the way to work this morning singing Sunday Morning Coming Down


Well I woke up Sunday morning,
With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes,
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
An' I shaved my face and combed my hair,
An' stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

Made me think of a Lucinda Williams' song--

Sundays

I can't seem to make it through Sunday
I can't seem to make it through Sunday

Monday through Saturday I get by just fine
Every other day of the week I feel alright
But I don't know why
I don't know why

I can't seem to make it through Sunday
I can't seem to make it through Sunday

Sunday's supposed to be the day for kicking off your shoes
But how come that's the day I always get the blues
And I don't know why
I don't know why

I can't seem to make it through Sunday
I can't seem to make it through Sunday

Ever since you had to go I just carry on
But deep down inside I know there's something wrong
And I don't know why
I don't know why

I can't seem to make it through Sunday
I can't seem to make it through Sunday
I can't seem to make it through Sunday
I can't seem to make it through Sunday
I can't seem to make it through Sunday
I can't seem to make it through Sunday

Today feels like Sunday. If I don't start getting some decent sleep I don't know what I am going to do. Sometimes I feel that I am literally falling apart or losing my mind (well, hmmm, most folks who know me would say I lost it a very long time ago).

The world has lost one helluva man. B.Q. died Saturday. I can't really write poems anymore--brain just can't make those metaphorical leaps at this time in my life. Not that poetry has to be all metaphorical. Just needs to have some lyricism and a certain perspective, but I don't have it in me now. But, I had to write something for B.Q. He will be missed. He was 87 years young. Here's to you, B.Q.


For Barney

This one's for the guy who carried a slice
of potato in his pocket at all times
to pull the pain from his bones,

an old remedy he learned somewhere
along the way. Long after he'd wrecked
himself paratrooping onto the shores

of Normandy. This one is for the man
who pulled quarters from his ears
and magically pulled them from my children's

ears too, their eyes wide with wonder.
This in my kitchen, 15 years ago now.
Thousands of miles from a kitchen in Amfreville

that shletered him and offered its
own sort of magic to a young man
far from home, deep in the heart of France.

This one is for the man who loved
the Boy Scouts and took under his wings
a bunch of rag-tag little boys

and shaped them into wonderful
men, caring human beings, good
husbands and fathers. From the battlefields

of Shiloh and Chickamauga, to the woods
of Lake Malone, KY, to star-filled nights
spent cooking chili over an open fire--

he was there with them. Through
their transition from boy to man, he was there.
From Cub Scouts, to the Order of The Arrow,

and from Life to Eagle, he was there.
In the best of times, and the worst.
This one is for the man who was there

and in our memories will always be.




That's about all I can do right now. Visitation tomorrow night and funeral Thursday. I have called my oldest son home. My husband will carry B.Q's body along with other former Troop 11 boys from 67-73. Men now who will never forget everything he did for them

Friday, March 03, 2006

Ate lunch with my coworker (and friend), Ashley, today. She will be 28 in April--just a few months older than my oldest child. It's interesting to me that our interactions don't feel like mother/daughter as I sorta thought they might (what with having a child her age and all--yes, yes--that is Kentucky-speak!!!!). She's great fun, makes me laugh a lot, and is interesting to talk to.

So, after we ate and went our seperate ways, I passed the grocery store I used to shop in when my older two children were little ones. All of a sudden, an image of me in a yellow summer blouse, white cotton shorts, sun-tanned body, long, healthy hair, flip-flops, etc popped into my head. I was pushing the grocery cart through the produce section. Someone I knew from high school was there and she said,

"You look great! Being a mommy really suits you. And look at your kids! Oh my, they look just like you!"

I thanked her for the compliment and turned back around to look at my little girl. She was about 18 months old at the time. She was sitting in the cart, and while I had my face truned toward my friend, she had reached into the cart and gotten a green pepper out of the produce bag. She had already eaten about 1/3 of the pepper! She just looked at me and smiled and what could I do but give her a great big smile right back? And then there was my little boy over in the fruit section looking for the best bunch of bananas on the planet. He brought the biggest bunch he could find and put them in the cart.

And I thought then, as I think now, that I could not have been doing anything of any greater importance than what I was doing. I was being a mom. I was loving being a mommy and loving being a stay-at-home mommy at that.

And as all these images popped into my brain in the short little time span of a few seconds, tears started streaming down my cheeks. By the time I got home, I was full-blown sobbing. Ok...I guess we can chalk it up to hormones, but I think it's something more. For as hard as those days were in many ways, they were happier days, and I miss them.

And, I don't want to live in the past. I couldn't even if I wanted to. I can't go back. No one can. I only have this moment, and I want to fully embrace it. It just doesn't seem real or right to me that 30 years have gone by so quickly.

Yeah, I know it sounds kinda "Peggy Sue Got Married-ish", but it's how I feel today.