Thursday, August 31, 2006

Words that helped today:


You know how life goes in cycles.
sadness comes and comes and then
happiness comes and comes.

I was just thinking this morning (in my morning shower)...

Thanks, my friend. To know someone I care about
but haven't connected with in some time was thinking about
me makes all the difference in the world.

More than I think you know.
I just have to do this.
I have to see this.
I have to relive it.
I have to try to move on.
I have to make myself remember some events.
I have to let go.
I have to hold on.
I have to write it down so maybe it's not always going round
and round in my head.
I have to understand that there may be a reason
I'm so exhausted and down and numb and sensitive.
So, timeline, here we go.

Sunday
March 26th, 2006:

8:30 p.m., Nashville, TN: I am in Nashville for a 4 day conference when I receive a call from Wes telling me that my father was on his way to the hospital and that my mom thought he had had a stroke

9:00 p.m.: In my hotel room packing my suitcase to come home when I get a call from my brother telling me that Dad needed to be flown to another hospital if he was to have any kind of chance of survival

9:45-10:00: Leaving the hotel and driving West on 1-24 like a bat outta hell trying to get home as soon as I can--still don't know about where or when Dad will be flying out of Madisonville

10:15- 10:30 p.m.: Get another call from my brother telling me that Dad had just boarded the medivac helicopter and was on his way to University Hospital, Louisville. Mom and my brother are told he has suffered an ischemic stroke and if he makes it at all, he will most likely be severely brain-damaged.

Around midnight: Arrive in Mad'ville and go to Mom's. We are all in shock and don't know what to do. For some strange reason, we thought it best that I get a few hours of sleep before we drive to Louisville as I had already been on the road for 2 hours coming home and had been on the road 2 hours going to Nashville. Went home. Could not sleep.


Monday

March 27th, 2006:

2:45-3:00 a.m.: My brother calls. We all agree we must go now! We get on the road in 15 minutes time.

5:15 a.m.: Arrive in Louisville. Are taken to the Neuro Intensive Care floor and told we would have to wait to see Dad. Go to waiting room and wait for a call.

7:15 or so: We go back to see Dad (only 2 at a time). Can't remember who went first. Dad was still on the ventilator. The neuro team talks with my mom. They tell her they are running tests to try to determine what has happened to my dad.

2 or so p.m.:
Dad is taken off the ventilator. He recognizes us but can't speak. He looks confused--maybe a little frightened. We are all so relieved that he is breathing on his own and his vitals are good.

3-8:30 p.m.: We go back and visit each time we can. I sleep on the loveseat in the NIC floor though it smells like stinky feet, shit, and other assorted bodily smells. So tired I didn't care. Found out they had Dad on Dilantin, lasix, potassium. He had a seizure in the ER in Madisonville so they thought he should be on Dilantin.

8:30 or so: We leave the hospital and drive four blocks to a Holiday Inn that will become our home for the next 8 days. We have a few drinks, order some sandwiches, choose our beds (Mom and I choose a bed--2 queens in the room--Jason sets up the roll-out). We crash.
Hold On

They hung a sign up in our town
"if you live it up, you won't
live it down"
So, she left Monte Rio, son
just like a bullet leaves a gun
With charcoal eyes and Monroe hips
she went and took that California trip
Well, the moon was gold, her
hair like wind
She said don't look back just
come on Jim
(Chorus)
Oh you got to
Hold on, Hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here
You gotta hold on

Well, he gave her a dimestore watch
and a ring made from a spoon
Everyone is looking for someone to blame
but you share my bed, you share my name
Well, go ahead and call the cops
you dont meet nice girls in coffee shops
She said baby, I still love you
Sometimes there's nothin left to do

Oh you got to
Hold on, hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here, you got to
Just hold on.

Well, God bless your crooked little heart
St. louis got the best of me
I miss your broken-china voice
How I wish you were still
here with me

Well, you build it up, you wreck it down
you burn your mansion to the ground
When there's nothing left to keep you here, when
you're falling behind in this
big blue world

Oh you got to
Hold on, hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here
You got to hold on

Down by the riverside motel,
it's 10 below and falling
by a 99 cent store she closed her eyes
and started swaying
but it's so hard to dance that way
when it's cold and there's no music
well your old hometown is so far away
but, inside your head there's a record
that's playing, a song called

Hold on, hold on
You really got to hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here
and just hold on.

Tom Waits, Mule Variations

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Yesterday


I got my walk in. Made a trip to the hospital first
to see Gene. The doctors are moving him to a facility
that can treat his wound.

I sensed his growing weariness
with life. So many complications from his surgery.
But, he still has a good sense of humor and he's
strong-spirited.

Pulled into my driveway and noticed someone sitting
in a chair near the back door. It was D. Didn't need
to deal with D last night and the paranoia and the stalking
and the delusions, but actually, she listened to me
quite a bit as I discussed my father's death.

So out of it, so out of it.
Start my criminology class tonight.
Stats is going well but I'm getting confused.
It's so hard to focus.
When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

~Mary Oliver

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost

Monday, August 28, 2006

June 1st, 1999

7:00 am. Sarah called to tell me Charlye was dead. She was hysterical
and told me I had to get there immediately as Billy was a mess.
2 weeks before, Charlye called me and told me she had just slit
her wrists. I asked where Billy was and she said, "In the livingroom."

I said call to him now or I am calling 911, which I did because she would
not call out to Billy. She refused to go the hospital, but she allowed
the paramedics to treat her wrists.

August 27th, 2006

8:30 p.m.

Had a phone call from B. She sounded far way or like she
was down deep somewhere beneath the earth calling
from under a floor or something (like Charlye did).

She told me she was calling to tell me goodbye
and that our call would probably be the last time
we would speak. She said she'd had enough of the pain
and the sadness. She told me her son moved in with
his father, and though she didn't say she couldn't
bear that, I knew that was what had brought
her to this desperate place.

I told her all I could think to tell her to keep her alive.
I don't know if it will work. I called a suicide prevention
hotline and talked with them about the conversation.

They told me that what I said was not only completely
appropriate, it (my words,my thoughts, my encouragement)
was the right thing to do. They said they felt
she sounded encouraged (she told me she thought
she would see things differently tomorrow).
They told me they would call her and check on her.
I told them I had called her best friend and was waiting
to hear back. Talked with A. today.
She is very concerned as well. She spoke with B today
and thought she sounded a little bit better.

I reminded B. of Charlye's death. Told her how those
of us left here to deal with it were so traumatized
and consumed with guilt thinking there surely could have
been something we could have done. B. remembers how
it affected me. Told her she needed to think about her son,
about how this would destroy him, how he would blame
himself because he would be certain it had to do with his moving
out.

I am so wiped out today. Little sleep last night. Weird images.
Some strange people.
I am asking the powers that be to help B. She needs help.
I already suggested therapy. She said no because she would
just lie to the therapists.

*deep breath*

I need to walk.
In Memory of M. B.
by Anna Akhmatova Translated by Max Hayward and Stanley Kunitz


Here is my gift, not roses on your grave,
not sticks of burning incense.
You lived aloof, maintaining to the end
your magnificent disdain.
You drank wine, and told the wittiest jokes,
and suffocated inside stifling walls.
Alone you let the terrible stranger in,
and stayed with her alone.

Now you're gone, and nobody says a word
about your troubled and exalted life.
Only my voice, like a flute, will mourn
at your dumb funeral feast.
Oh, who would have dared believe that half-crazed I,
I, sick with grief for the buried past,
I, smoldering on a slow fire,
having lost everything and forgotten all,
would be fated to commemorate a man
so full of strength and will and bright inventions,
who only yesterday it seems, chatted with me,
hiding the tremor of his mortal pain.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Found this Miller Williams poem in a stack of personal papers
here at the office. Seems I posted it on Melic as a response
to a response to a poem called Visiting Hours
that I had posted there.
Printed it out on 8/26/2002. Seems a bit
prophetic, maybe? Interesting for sure in light of my loss.




The Vanishing Point

Often I squinted my courage to see the spot
where all lines converge, but only saw
my father before it, spreading like a tree.

He is diminished now into that unplace
where there is nothing, neither breath nor breadth,
and I have felt a generation move.

I am standing, it seems all of a sudden,
with no one now between that point and me,
sliding toward it slowly as I can.

I grieve to celebrate. And may my children,
back down the widening years, see before them
some such old and serviceable simile.

Miller Williams
The Nights

can be so long and so lonely. Sleep is hard to come by,
so I walk around every day in this fog. I keep hoping to see
my dad in my dreams. I ask him each night before I go
to sleep to come to me--to let me see him and know he's
ok. And I know I am seeing him, but I am forgetting. Just
little clips of his face surface in my dreams--just this running montage,
in which the faces of those I've known throughout my life, the living
and the dead, flashes around in my head reminding me of the old
Super 8 movies my mom filmed when I was a kid.

There is one dream I do remember from a few nights ago.
I was driving the Impala Mom and Dad bought when I was about
10 (think it was a 68). Aquamarine, 4 door, loaded. I can remember
(or I can remember a phot0) of all of us standing next to the car-
Mom in her uniform, hair in a chignon, smiling widely. I was driving
the car and saw my father standing in a yard with a playground
swing. Just one single playground swing. He had on a flannel shirt
and his khakis. I could see him watching me as I drove on past
him on way to the cemetery. The cemetery is the one I take
my walks in, but Dad is not buried there. It dawned on me in the dream
that I really needed to go and get Dad and that he was counting on me
to turn around and come back, so I turned around and just as I turned
the corner of the street, I saw him swinging as high as that swing
would go, and I remember thinking, "Hold on, Dad, I'm almost there."
Just then, as the swing was high in the air, his back to the sky and
the front of his body facing the ground, he let go and fell to the ground.
I watched his body crumple up like a rag doll, and he was lying there
motionless. I kept thinking, "Children fall off swings everyday--
he'll be alright," and then I kept hoping someone was going to come
and help Dad and I started to feel helpless. Then I woke up.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I measure every Grief I meet (561)
by Emily Dickinson

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, Eyes –
I wonder if It weighs like Mine –
Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long –
Or did it just begin –
I could not tell the Date of Mine –
It feels so old a pain –

I wonder if it hurts to live –
And if They have to try –
And whether – could They choose between –
It would not be – to die –

I note that Some – gone patient long –
At length, renew their smile –
An imitation of a Light
That has so little Oil –

I wonder if when Years have piled –
Some Thousands – on the Harm –
That hurt them early – such a lapse
Could give them any Balm –

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve –
Enlightened to a larger Pain –
In Contrast with the Love –

The Grieved – are many – I am told –
There is the various Cause –
Death – is but one – and comes but once –
And only nails the eyes –

There's Grief of Want – and grief of Cold –
A sort they call "Despair" –
There's Banishment from native Eyes –
In Sight of Native Air –

And though I may not guess the kind –
Correctly – yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary –

To note the fashions – of the Cross –
And how they're mostly worn –
Still fascinated to presume
That Some – are like My Own –

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

-- Jane Kenyon

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Words from my notepad/last 2 weeks

roasted raspberry chipotle sauce
mordant
purple-leaved European Beauty
negated words
whywaitforbooks
Valdosta to Naples (5 hours/49 minutes)
line busy
Rm 366
Blade Runner
sylph
Wednesday instruments
needs CPR
setting poles and digging holes
no shoes in his size
one river three times in West Virginia
busy signal
peripatetic
Cheat Lake
64 to 79 jogs N & E but sometimes dips down south and veers west
help with residents
elegiac
no positive correlate
HOW IT WILL HAPPEN, WHEN

There you are, exhausted from a night of crying, curled up on the couch,
the floor, at the foot of the bed, anywhere you fall you fall down crying,
half amazed at what the body is capable of, not believing you can cry
anymore. And there they are, his socks, his shirt, your underwear
and your winter gloves, all in a loose pile next to the bathroom door,
and you fall down again. Someday, years from now, things will be
different, the house clean for once, everything in its place, windows
shining, sun coming in easily now, sliding across the high shine of wax
on the wood floor. You'll be peeling an orange or watching a bird
spring from the edge of the rooftop next door, noticing how,
for an instant, its body is stopped on the air, only a moment before
gathering the will to fly into the ruff at its wings and then doing it:
flying. You'll be reading, and for a moment there will be a word
you don't understand, a simple word like now or what or is
and you'll ponder over it like a child discovering language.
Is you'll say over and over until it begins to make sense, and that's
when you'll say it, for the first time, out loud: He's dead. He's not
coming back. And it will be the first time you believe it.


DEATH COMES TO ME AGAIN, A GIRL

Death comes to me again, a girl
in a cotton slip, barefoot, giggling.
It's not so terrible she tells me,
not like you think, all darkness
and silence. There are windchimes
and the smell of lemons, some days
it rains, but more often the air is dry
and sweet. I sit beneath the staircase
built from hair and bone and listen
to the voices of the living. I like it,
she says, shaking the dust from her hair,
especially when they fight, and when they sing.

Dorianne Laux
Five or six wild turkeys


crossed in front of me last week.
Can't remember what day but am thinking it was Thursday,
the same day a homeless man lost his life.

The back road I drive to work in the morning runs parallel
to the railroad tracks for roughly 2-3 miles. The same day
I saw the turkeys, a homeless man was killed trying to jump
the train or jump off the train. I can imagine he may have even
been there in the bushes waiting for a train as I was driving to work.

This morning's paper has a picture of him and an article requesting
information. The police have identified him because he was arrested
for trespassing in July, but they can find no one who seems to know
who he is or if the name he gave them was his real name.

The official records have no next of kin listed. The man simply wrote:
"I have nobody."

Monday, August 21, 2006

Shifting the Sun

When your father dies, say the Irish,
you lose your umbrella against bad weather.
May his sun be your light, say the Armenians

When your father dies, say the Welsh,
you sink a foot deeper into the earth.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Canadians,
you run out of excuses.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the French,
you become your own father.
May you stand up in his light, say the Armenians.

When you father dies, say the Indians,
he comes back as the thunder.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Russians,
he takes your childhood with him.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the English,
you join his club you vowed you wouldn't.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,
your sun shifts forever.
And you walk in his light.

Diana Der-Hovanessian

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Didn't even go near a computer yesterday.

Slept late, had breakfast, went to the post office
to mail my niece a late 16th birthday gift (a cookbook I created
for her--she loves her Auntie M's cooking), loaded up
my recycling and took it to the recycling center (that word
doesn't look right), spent a few hours visiting my father-in-law
at the long term care facility the hospital sent him to (he didn't
do as well as they hoped so he went from rehab floor to
long-term care--not looking like he'll be going home any
time soon), then to Lowe's to get the rest of my tile
for my kitchen countertops and some things my mother
needed, then to Mom's house for a few hours, and then
finally back home. So. I didn't get to my flowers, but it's
raining this morning. A nice steady rain. So needed! I also
didn't get to my homework or laundry, so after I do the crossword
puzzle and read some of the Maria Callas biography I've been
reading (finished Heart of Darkness yesterday--dark, yes),
I will try to get my stats homework done and some laundry
(nothing clean to wear, or I should say nothing clean that I want
to wear or nothing clean that I can fit into at the moment).
Closet full of cool clothes, but the middle-age spread has made
it impossible for me to get into them(maybe it's all the alcohol
I consume on a fairly regular basis).

A poem for today (actually just an excerpt from:

Asphodel, That Greeny Flower
William Carlos Williams


If a man die
it is because death
has first
possessed his imagination.
But if he refuse death--
no greater evil
can befall him
unless it be the death of love
meet him
in full career.
Then indeed
for him
the light has gone out.
But love and the imagination
are of a piece,
swift as the light
to avoid destruction.
So we come to watch time's flight
as we might watch
summer lightning
or fireflies, secure,
by grace of the imagination,
safe in its care.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Matilde Urrutia, wife of poet Pablo Neruda, died, uttering, "I'm happy. At last I'm going to be with my Pablo . . . "



Matilde Urrutia, I'm leaving you here
all I had, all I didn't have,
all I am, all I am not.
My love is a child crying,
reluctant to leave your arms,
I leave it to you forever--
you are my chosen one.

You are my chosen one,
more tempered by winds
than thin trees in the south,
a hazel in August;
for me you are as delicious
as a great bakery.
You have an earth heart
but your hands are from heaven.

You are red and spicy,
you are white and salty
like pickled onions,
you are a laughing piano
with every human note;
and music runs over me
from your eyelashes and your hair.
I wallow in your gold shadow,
I'm enchanted by your ears
as though I had seen them before
in underwater coral.
In the sea for your nails' sake,
I took on terrifying fish . . . .

Sometime when we've stopped being,
stopped coming and going,
under seven blankets of dust
and the dry feet of death,
we'll be close again, love,
curious and puzzled.
Our different feathers,
our bumbling eyes,
our feet which didn't meet
and our printed kisses,
all will be back together,
but what good will it do us,
the closeness of a grave?
Let life not separate us:
and who cares about death?

Pablo Neruda
Are these sensible shoes on my feet? I wear my shades
so our eyes don't meet/I'm scared every fuckin day/
I wear my headphones so I can't hear what you say

Can I run...

What was that L7 song called? Maybe it was called
Can I run. It's been going through my head all morning.

I'll have to Google it. Here it is:

Can I run, L7

Are these sensible shoes on my feet
I wear my shades so our eyes don't meet
I'm scared every fuckin' day
I wear my headphones so i can't hear what you say
Can i run
Switch to paranoid from having fun
Will he use his hands, knife, or a gun
Knuckles are white, wrapped around my mace
Comes from living in a terrorist state
Can i run
When he's following me
He's not my brother, he's my enemy
Is he behind the door or in back of the tree
Is he under the bed, is he in the back street
Can i run


Don't know why it's going through my head.
Guess because I feel like running...
running away
hiding

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Breakdown

I just don't know what I am going to do. Instead of getting better, I am getting worse.

I can't sleep. I wake up every hour or two all night long.
I really thought I was going to just lose it during the night last night.

Got up and started my pot of coffee..sink full of dishes.
Just went into this sate..GD this and MF that and trying to scream
but my voice just couldn't get to the level of scream. I am so f'ing tired.

And I am angry. So angry. About things that happened during Dad's illness
and about Dad dying. What't the point in anything? We live and we die.
And if we can't make things good in the in-between, what's the f'ing point?

I really feel terribly fragile today.
Try Not To Breathe

I will try not to breathe.
I can hold my head still with my hands at my knees.
These eyes are the eyes of the old, shiver and fold.

I will try not to breathe.
This decision is mine. I have lived a full life
and these are the eyes that I want you to remember. Oh.

I need something to fly over my grave again.
I need something to breathe.

I will try not to burden you.
I can hold these inside. I will hold my breath
until all these shivers subside,
just look in my eyes.

I will try not to worry you.
I have seen things that you will never see.
Leave it to memory me. I shudder to breathe.

I want you to remember. Oh. (you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
over my grave again. (you will never see)
I need something to breathe. (something to breathe)
Baby, don't shiver now.
Why do you shiver now? (I will see things you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
over my grave again. (I will see things you will never see)
I need something to breathe. Oh. Oh. Oh.

I will try not to worry you.
I have seen things that you will never see.
Leave it to memory me. Don't dare me to breathe.

I want you to remember. Oh. (you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
over my grave again. (you will never see)
I need something to breathe. (something to breathe)
Baby, don't shiver now.
Why do you shiver now? (I will see things you will never see)
I need something to breathe. (something to breathe - I have seen things
you will never see)
I want you to remember.

REM

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Seven Sorrows

The first sorrow of autumn
Is the slow goodbye
Of the garden who stands so long in the evening-
A brown poppy head,
The stalk of a lily,
And still cannot go.

The second sorrow
Is the empty feet
Of a pheasant who hangs from a hook with his
brothers.
The woodland of gold
Is folded in feathers
With its head in a bag.

And the third sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the sun who has gathered the birds and who
gathers
The minutes of evening,
The golden and holy
Ground of the picture.

The fourth sorrow
Is the pond gone black
Ruined and sunken the city of water-
The beetle's palace,
The catacombs
Of the dragonfly.

And the fifth sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the woodland that quietly breaks up its camp.
One day it's gone.
It has only left litter-
Firewood, tentpoles.

And the sixth sorrow
Is the fox's sorrow
The joy of the huntsman, the joy of the hounds,
The hooves that pound
Till earth closes her ear
To the fox's prayer.

And the seventh sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the face with its wrinkles that looks through the
window
As the year packs up
Like a tatty fairground
That came for the children.

Ted Hughes
Trying to go to sleep but keep hearing in my head The Beatles

Though I know I'll never lose affection
for people and things that went before
You know I'll often stop and think about them
but in my life, I love you more

Maybe that's how it goes...then I started thinking about women
100 years ago who found it hard to go to sleep at night
and what songs might have been playing in their minds
and then I think women 100 years ago were probably
so damn tired there was no song...there was no radio
but there was music
and then I think 100 years or 1,ooo...makes no difference

loss is loss and there was music and there were words
and there were sleepless nights no matter how tired

and I just want to sleep. I want the words to stop for this night.
Tabula rasa...

The Beatles - In my Life

There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I was listening "Birds" by Neil Young (posted below) on the drive back to work today and thought about my dad. Didn't cry. Just created a short film in my mind as it was playing. The film's about a woman who has no destination--she's just driving to be driving (I know, crazy considering the cost of gas!). But, she keeps driving--past the children playing in the schoolyard, past the cows grazing, past some horses running toward a barn, past the signs "Road Work Ahead" "Congested Area" "Speed Limit 45" " Straw For Sale" "Fresh Vegetables" "Prepare for Sudden Stop", past the factories, over the bridges, through each season, across the mountains, next to the coast, on the freeways, through covered bridges--always driving. At one point, her car startles a field of blackbirds and they take flight simultaneously, waving up and down in the air--lifting themselves all at once until she passes and then landing themselves all at once when they know she is nothing to fear. The little vignette played on and on and I just kept hitting repeat so I could keep listening to the song and dreaming along.

Gotta go to the grocery and then home to cook. Need a glass of merlot. Need some sleep.

"Birds"

Lover,there will be another one
Who'll hover over you beneath the sun
Tomorrow see the things that never come
Today

When you see me
Fly away without you
Shadow on the things you know
Feathers fall around you
And show you the way to go
It's over, it's over.

Nestled in your wings my little one
This special morning brings another sun
Tomorrow see the things that never come
Today

When you see me
Fly away without you
Shadow on the things you know
Feathers fall around you
And show you the way to go
It's over, it's over.

Neil Young
Death Beds


The ancients were talkative on theirs,
so many agencies needed to be addressed:
the gods of departure who controlled
the seven portals of the world,
the ferrymen leaning on their smooth oars,
the eternal pilots, immortal conductors,
and that was just the transportation.

Japanese monks would motion for a tablet,
sometimes, an inkwell and a brush
so they could leave behind the dark,
wet strokes of a short poem--
a drop of rain on a yellow leaf.
One described the night clouds
and the moon making its million-mile journey.

Medieval Christians who could read
could read a treatise on the subject:
De Arte Moriendi, On the Art of Dying,
pages of instruction on what to do in bed,
how to set the heart right
how to point the soul upward
and listen to the prayer of one's own breathing.

Some pale Victorians in their tubercular
throes would ask for a looking glass
so they could behold the seraphic glow
the dry fever brought to their faces.
A few even had a photographer summoned
to open his tripod in the sickroom
and disappear under the heavy black cloth
as the subject, more or less, was doing the same.

Then there were the wits,
using their last breath to exhale a line,
a devastating capper, as if the world
were simply a large gallery buzzing with people,
and now it was time to throw on a long scarf
and make an exit, leaving
it to someone else to close the door.

Some lie on their backs for months,
students of the ceiling,
others roll over once and are gone.
Some bellow for a priest
and make the one confesssion no one doubts.
And you, and I, too, may lie on ours,
the vigilant family in a semicircle,
or the night nurse holding our hand
in the dark, or alone.
There will be no ink, mirror, or Latin book,
though the wallpaper may be tasteless
and you may feel yourself entering a myth.

I would hope for a window,
the usual frame of reference,
a clear sky, or thin high clouds,
an abundance of sun, a cool pillow.
And I would expect just at the end
a moment of pure awareness
when I could feel the solitary pea under the mattress
and pick out the dot of a hawk lost in the blue.

Billy Collins

Monday, August 14, 2006

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West.
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W. H. Auden



Overall, I am not that impressed with this Auden poem, but those first few
lines remind me so much of the way I felt the first time I found someone
dead. I was 18 and had completed an on-the-job training position with
the hospital for the position of Certified Medication Technician. I gave all
the routine meds and all the PRN (as needed meds). All IM's, subcutaneous, by
mouths (po's), and suppositories. I was also involved in all codes on my floor.

Mr. Johnson was my first code. I was going in to give him a PRN shot for pain
and could tell from the door that he was dead. He was upright in bed and had vomitted.
I wasn't far from the nurse's station so I yelled Code 5 and within seconds (literally), the room was filling with people. The charge nurse, the nursing supervisor, doctors from all fields,
respiratory therapy, and I. I was popping vials of lidocaine and whatever else
the doctors were telling me they needed. They actually revived Mr. J and took him to surgery,
but they lost him 45 minutes later on the table when his lung ruptured. I just
remember thinking how I felt after I came out of his room and he had been taken
downstairs to surgery. I kept thinking how odd it was that nothing stopped for death--nothing.

A woman who was there visiting someone fainted and we had to get out the ammonium
carbonate (I think!), the phone was ringing off the hook, people were being wheeled up from surgery, PRNs were hanging on my door, televisions and radios were on, people were laughing.
It all seemed so odd. I was barely 18, still had braces on my teeth and hair down to my waist,
and had only ever seen a dead person in a casket. I just felt that Mr. J deserved things to stop
and take notice of his leaving this life.

I wonder how my dad felt that last night of his life. We had all gone home because he was
supposed to be coming home the next day, but an hour and a half after we left, they coded
him. They told us he was talking when they got to him, but I didn't think to ask what
he said to them. I couldn't think. I couldn't believe my father was gone. That just couldn't
be my dad with his intubation tube still down his throat, eyes wide open but not full
of life and color. I just kept saying to him over and over

Breathe, Daddy, breathe! Please, Daddy, breathe! You can't be gone, you can't be gone,
you can't be gone! Oh no, Daddy, no! And all around us, in every room, in every hallway, in all the world, life just kept going on.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Just got back from New Harmony, IN


but don't want to write of the trip just now though it was peaceful and healing. Bought myself a bouquet of flowers on the way there yesterday. Had a picnic on the Wabash. Took them with me and then threw them in before I left in honor of my father and others I have lost. Hardly any current so they ever so slowly made their way north.

Now this:

Reluctance

Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question 'Whither?'

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?


Robert Frost

Friday, August 11, 2006

Cheers


Already tonight I have lifted my glass to Jackie
Wilson and to Gracie Lantz, the voice
of Woody Woodpecker and creator of the taunting laugh
according to her obituary in this morning's paper.

And now the wind is whistling at the doors and windows,
straining to lift the roof off this house,
and I am alone and casting about for someone else
to toast, someone remarkable whose leaving

shrivels the skin of the world. It could be
a virgin martyr or exiled Ovid, or even Jackie
Wilson again, the man no act would follow,
not James Brown, not the Temptations, one of whom

explained it was because he left a hole in the stage.
The only toast that should follow a toast to the dead
is a toast to the long dead, so up goes my glass
to the first man ever to notice the outline

of a bear in the stars one quiet night long before
the wheel and shortly after fire. It is said
that laziness was the mother of astronomy,
and surely he must have spent hours on his back,

hands pillowing his head, while his eyes
connected the points of light with imaginary lines
until a ferocious shape stood before him in the sky.
I drink to the long wonderment of his gazing,

the Nile of amazement flowing into the night,
his hand moving up to cover his open mouth.
And still the wind is driving hard through the trees,
knocking down the weak branches which I will

gather in the morning and break over my knee
for kindling; but the scene inside is composed,
a tableau of bottle, vase, open book,
a painting of a little ship framed on the wall,

far from home in a churning sea and burdened
with perilous cargo. I wander in the details
of its sail lines and streamers flying from the masts.
I see a man in the rigging, the red dot of his shirt.

No wonder visitors always remark on this picture
while I am out in the kitchen making their drinks
and getting ready to propose the first toast,
to hoist my glass to that dark, bearded man

lying dumbstruck and reeking of woodsmoke
a little distance from the mouth of his cave.
Here's to the bear he saw roaring in the heavens,
to the ram, the tilted scales, the intricate crab,

and the dippers pouring out a universe of ink.
Here's to Cassiopeia in her chair and chained Andromeda.
Here's to the wind blowing against this lighted house
and to the vast, windless spaces between the stars.

Billy Collins

From: The Art of Drowning
Billy Collins night

Had an impromptu dinner with neighbors last Friday night. My oldest son and his wife were in for a few days, my husband was racing (trying to set another national record when he could have been home having so much fun sitting by the fish pond), and my youngest son went to the county fair with friends, soooooo, I had cooked enough for a log rollin' and was outside talking to my neighbors when Lynn said something about going inside to cook something to eat. I had all that food cooking and so I just said, "I'm bringing food over and we'll eat on the patio."

Amazing food. Great neighbors. Wonderfully nice evening. Few mosquitoes. I brought the food and a bottle of wine (a nice Penfolds cab). On the menu: marinated pork chops, roasted asparagus, roasted new potatoes with herbs, mixed green salad with herbs, celery, red pepper, chives, chopped green onions, and feta cheese, and garlic bread. We ate & talked & laughed & cried. Jerry just lost his dad a year ago--I lost mine in April. And then I told them about going to the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival and that Billy was going to be there, so of course, I had to read some Billy.

Read Billy. By candlelight. Left the book open and now there's red wax spllied across these words:

whom
hole in the
toast to
and still
knocking
gather

The rest of the wax is in the margins.

The poem is Cheers.

I'm going to type it in here after I get something to eat. Been a busy day today and it's almost 2 and I haven't been to lunch!
XLIII

if there are any heavens my mother will (all by herself) have
one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses

my father will be (deep like a rose
tall like a rose)

standing near my

(swaying over her
silent)
with eyes which are really petals and see

nothing with the face of a poet really which
is a flower and not a face with
hands
which whisper
This is my beloved my

(suddenly in sunlight

he will bow,

& the whole garden will bow)

- e. e. cummings

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The New Year

It is winter and the new year.
Nobody knows you.
Away from the stars, from the rain of light,
you lie under the weather of stones.
There is no thread to lead you back.
Your friends doze in the dark
of pleasure and cannot remember.
Nobody knows you. You are the neighbor of nothing.
You do not see the rain falling and the man walking away,
the soiled wind blowing its ashes across the city.
You do not see the sun dragging the moon like an echo.
You do not see the bruised heart go up in flames,
the skulls of the innocent turn into smoke.
You do not see the scars of plenty, the eyes without light.
It is over. It is winter and the new year.
The meek are hauling their skins into heaven.
The hopeless are suffereing the cold with those who have nothing to hide.
It is over and nobody knows you.
There is starlight drifting on the black water.
There are stones in the sea no one has seen.
There is a shore and people are waiting.
And nothing comes back.
Because it is over.
Because there is silence instead of a name.
Because it is winter and the new year.

Mark Strand

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

All we have to decide is what to do with the time we are given.

Gandalf to Frodo--Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring



Knockout Roses and Bleeding Hearts

By the time I chucked my work duds,
donned my Pineapple Willy's t-shirt and a pair
of shorts, loaded my shovel and my shoes,
it was late afternoon. The days are growing
shorter, the shadowing afternoons longer.

I didn't expect her to be back from the nursing
home by then. She doesn't like to leave Gene
there alone to fight this fuzziness that has inhabited
his brain. So she stays until visiting hours are over,
but fatigue had made itself uncomfortably at home that day,
and her heart, 87 now and growing weary with worry,
skipped around so much she wasn't sure she'd make it home
for another tv dinner.

I bought the knockout rose and bleeding heart
on her 87th,


Maybe I'll work on this and shape it into something. I did get the rose and bleeding heart planted and Marie was so grateful. She said it was one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for her.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

There are places in the heart which do not yet exist,
and into them suffering enters so that they may have existence.
Leon Bloy

Don't know who Leon Bloy is. I don't attend church, but I am still
listed as a member at First Baptist Church. I received a book from
some church members a few weeks ago. I also received prayer
cards about a month after Dad's death. The book is called

Turning to God to Get Through Grief

I am not religious, but I believe there may be a god who listens to me,
and I've talked to him/her/it many, many times a day since Dad first
became ill and in the many long hours since his death.

I don't know that I'll read the book, but the day it arrived, it just opened
to that quote and that quote brought tears to my eyes once again.

Hey! and Yay for me!!! I am going to Dodge--
as in the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.

Ordered my 4 day pass last week and booked my hotel room over
the weekend. I will be within 10 miles of Waterloo Village.
I've wanted to go for quite some time, and rather than sit around
and think about going, I decided to make the plan to go.

I so much want to hear Billy Collins read. There are many others I want
to hear as well, but Billy and Coleman Barks reading Rumi are my two absolutes.
Then there's Lucille Clifton and Mark Doty, and I have a feeling Donald Hall
may show up (Laurie tells me the poet laureate always makes an appearance
at Dodge, but he's not on the agenda).

Never been to Jersey. Looking forward to the road trip through WV (well...
hard to say one is looking forward to much of anything in WV...hate to sound that way
but I've been through there before and wasn't too impressed, but the folks are nice
in those parts), Maryland, Pennsylvania, and then Jersey.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The first day of the eighth month


Heat advisories today. Temp around 98--heat index
105 or so. Even hot inside with the air conditioning.
Just trying to say something about this pain--this relentless
breaking of the heart and spirit--this despair.

and so what is this grief?

It is the mouth’s refusal to lift
even slightly at the corner when the eye
views the first crocus of spring.


It is the lack of inclination
the feet have to splash through a summer
rain puddle.


It is the slow way the whole
body moves when nearing the stone

above the grave.

It is the yen in the trees as the wind
wantonly rustles the full branches

of the oak above the stone.

It is the lingering in bed until noon, no compulsion
to check the compost pile or to see whether the squash
are sporting their seed-sprout hats in late spring.



It is so many things that I can't seem to write about.
Can't write much at all. Can't think clearly. Can't think.
I just have to keep trying to get through this and hoping
each day to improve.