Monday, November 26, 2007

Oh No No No

There will be no tears
tonight for the father who sailed
every ocean, who watched friends
die in the Pacific waters, who witnessed
women drowning their children in the yellow
Yangtze, who came back less than whole
but more than before, who cooked pork chops
and butter beans, who brought dolls
from the south of France, who tattooed
his body in remembrance, who laughed
heartily at Christmas, who covered
my ass when I crashed the car in three
feet of falling, beautiful, righteous snow,
who never spoke of his pain, who lived
to see his children graduate from high
school and college, who cradled in his arms
his grandbabies, who left here on his own
terms though they were not of his choosing,
who comes to me some nights, without words,
a mouth speaking the language without sound.
And there will be no tears for the friend
who planted lilacs and irises, who read
Baudelaire and Balzac, who loved Buckley
and somas, who was found half-dressed
at the foot of her bed as if readying herself
for a night on the town, whose stone I have never
visited, whose laugher I will not forget.
And there will be no weeping for the man
who never met a stranger, who let too many
take advantage, who believed in the greater
good, who loved music and science, whose voice
was a comfort at the other end of a wire
completely indifferent to conversation,
who knew that death was his newest friend,
who left here leaving this magnitude
of a hole never known before. And there
will be no regrets for not loving the blonde-
haired hitchhiking boy from the Atlantic,
who, in reality, only made a stop in this small
town on his way to see his grandmother, tent
strapped to his back and the world in front
of him, who will always be a gypsy in spirit
and a family man at heart. And even the number
guy, who spends his days calculating unknowns
with those who will only enter his known
space for a semester or two, will not garner
my supportive tears. Oh no. Tonight, not one
of them will break me, not one will penetrate
this wall of flesh made stone, this steely heart
pounding out its inaudible song in such a crazy,
irregular, solitary rhythm.
Sometimes Knowing Is Not Enough

Leaves lie scattered
about the yard, covering
the resilient purple pansies

and dying mums. Yards and yards
of streets and avenues
wear the brilliance of their dying.

Beneath their fading colors,
you, and the many yous time
has taken, lie sealed and unmoving,

bodies and faces wearing shades
the restorative artist chose
for you, not quite your own but as close

as modern art allows. I feel this gnawing
inclination to go rake them off (the leaves,
the artists whims), to expose bare ground,

but I can't sense why--

to see you more clearly, to touch
the earth that touches the box
which touches the cloth which cradles

your body? I can't make sense
because there is no sense. Let
the dead lie where they lie, says

some small and getting smaller
voice inside of me. Think. How much
lovelier the earth is in this time

of dying than at any other time
of the year. No rakes will comb
that mound of browning green,

but hands may shove the reds
and yellows aside in reckless
abandon, making way for some other

colors to find a home above you,
those hands wanting to scratch and dig
until the nails are blackened, until

the heart, restless and uneasy, appeases
itself, knowing what the hands do makes
no sense, and what the heart does, less.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Torch

...has been passed to me this Thanksgiving.
Mom not really up to it and mother-in-law
is simply too tired (88 now and has shingles--ouch!).

Will have about 16 people on Thursday and 10 or so

I have only prepared the Thanksgiving turkey on 3
occasions (at least, that's all I remember), so I am
a turkey novice. I am just going to rub it down
with some sage butter (under the skin too) and stuff
it with fresh herbs, onions, celery, and carrots.
I think it will turn out fine.

Now, I'm trying to figure out the other things.

I have to keep these things in mind as I prepare
my list for Thursday and Friday (oldest brother,
his partner/girlfriend/companion and their child
and her children will be here Friday).

I have eaters who are:

low sodium

So, I must figure out foods that fit all types of eaters.

I am definitely not a traditional person in the sense
that I could forego dressing/stuffing and sweet potatoes
with marshmallows and all that sweet stuff on them,

so, I am going to experiment.

Sweet potato hash will be served. It has black eyed
peas, jalapenos, cilantro, thyme, red bell pepper
and other yummy things in it. I hope it turns out well.

The dressing will be gluten free and meatless and will
have the typical things in it--celery, onions, poultry seasoning,
fresh sage, egg, etc. , but I want to add something to zing
it up a bit. I may try some sundried tomatoes in there.
We'll see.

Also on the menu:

roasted asparagus
gruyere broccoli casserole (gluten-free)
fresh corn with diced red and green peppers
cranberry salad with mandarin oranges, pecans, and celery
corn pudding (my mother-in-law)
baked apples with cream cheese and nut filling (mother-in-law)
mashed potatoes (mom)
green beans (mom)
sugar shock cake (baby brother's girlfriend)
buttermilk pie (mother-in-law)
pumpkin cheesecake (daughter-in-law)

So, I won't have to cook everything, and most of mine
will cook quickly after I have removed the turkey
from the oven.

Still thinking about what kind of bread to do. Could
make some muffins with sundried tomato (gluten-free)
and bake some rolls.


Been downer than down lately and wondering what in
the hell this--this being here--is all about, but I think
I will feel better when my children, grandchild, brothers,
and other family members are here.

I am truly thankful for the blessings in my life. I hope
I can pull myself out of this funk some day real soon.

Dear readers, whomever you may be, I hope
you are surrounded by those you love and those
who love you this Thanksgiving. Many blessings
from me to you.
Piet Mondrian
View from the Dunes with Beach and Piers, Domburg. 1909

Monday, November 19, 2007

Jackson Pollock
Totem lesson 2, 1945

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Irish Setter pointing

(not Molly, but she looks like this one!)

Friday, November 16, 2007

For This Day

She tries to catch the crescent
moon in her teeth, this bird
dog crazy red girl, snapping
at air and wind. The geese come
suddenly, while she's in the midst
of her moon chasing scheme
and throw her off for a moment,
ears perk and front paw lifts--
the expected of her breed.
I watch her as I walk past
headstones and mud puddles,
smile in spite of myself, lift
my own front leg in momentary
abandon of reason. I want to be one
with this world as she is, this red
beauty who wrecks my house,
who knocks my friends down,
who readily forgives. I want to love
that freely, want to want that openly,
want to forget being human
for a day. I want to jump in the middle
of the muck right with her,
drink from the dirty water, smell
woodsy and whole. The moon comes
up full as we leave the cemetery, her fur
matted and wet, my t-shirt drenched
in sweat. We have lived for those few
moments, have accepted one another,
have balanced ourselves in the chilly
autumn air, and for this day, it is enough.

...A Rough Magic (a biography of Sylvia Plath),
The Fountainhead, and The Sound and The Fury.

The Plath biography was a decent read and fairly
well written (if somewhat repetitive) biography.
It appears that the author relied largely on the letters
Sylvia wrote her mother for information, along with
some interviews with former friends, teachers, and
classmates. I think I read it before, but I can't remember.
My memory is shot to hell right now. I hope this is not
a permanent thing--one related more to my state
of mind and too much vino over too many years.

I didn't care for The Fountainhead and would most
likely not reread it. I guess I'm just not an objectivist.
I thought the characters were rich, pompous ass types,
whom I really could gather no feeling for at all.

It bothers me when these wealthy characters say they
are living by their principals (unlike the working poor
or the poor in general) and when Rand makes
blanket assumptions and statements through these
characters that only the truly creative can understand
what it is to live by these principals, it irks me.
The rest of the population are referred to as "second-handers"
by Rand. Maybe I'm missing some major theme, but it
just didn't reach me.

One would think I would have read The Sound and The Fury
by now, but I've only read As I Lay Dying, Light in August,
The Town, and some of Absalom, Absalom. I've also read
some of his short stories--A Rose For Emily and Barn Burning
come to mind.

The first two sections of the book were a study in frustration
for me as I was very confused with the stream of consciousness
writing. There were times I just simply had to put the book down,
but I was gathering enough info and was hooked enough to stay
with it. It's very classic Faulkner with its themes of decay, ruin,
greed, madness, etc. I would reread it and probably will, but I
think I want to reread As I Lay Dying.


The first poetry circle meeting went well. 3 people came,
so I was thrilled. I hope those three will invite some others
and we'll have even more folks in December. I am going
to put some flyers up at the college, laundry mats, Senior
Citizen's Center, the Dept. for Community Based Services
(what some folks call the food stamp office), and the grocery
stores. I would love to see folks get excited about reading
poetry, and I hope it will be a learning experience for me
in ways a poetry class or workshop cannot be or have not


I'm just fooling around on here this morning because
I can't get my ass in gear to do anything else. I slept
poorly last night, the house is a wreck, my mood
swings are worse than ever (surprised the family
hasn't sent me away somewhere), the loneliness
is so all-consuming that I just don't feel like doing
much at all except wallowing. So, I am attempting
to do things. I am attempting to stay involved in life
as best I can.

Why not close with some Gluck...just chose one
from because I don't feel like walking
in the other room and finding one of my books
and looking for a dog-eared page.


In your extended absence, you permit me
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report
failure in my assignment, principally
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come
so often here, while other regions get
twelve weeks of summer. All this
belongs to you: on the other hand,
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of
that term. You who do not discriminate
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible
for these vines.

Louise Gluck
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
Pablo Picasso, 1907

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nothing New

What's new to be said about
rain falling, the drought lifted,
plants bending in the steady stream?

Nothing except this: missing is like
a day when you can't respect the rain
in the middle of the downpour, like

lifting your face and knowing it's wet
because all that's left of you is sensory--
automatic. It's like shadows of fingers,

whose fine lines and demarcations
will never touch the wavy graying
strands of honey hair again. The gentle

strumming of the body, which grows
to crescendo, gets a simple nod, a faster
pace to the car nestled on the shoulder

of the road, graves lining each side,
wind blowing balloons, wind chimes
and flower baskets aside, helter-skelter,

the voice in the unthinking head thinking
for it--run, fast--close the car doors, set
the wipers and necessary things in motion.

That's all.

The kindness of tapping gently--
all gone. The sweatshirt on the back,
saturated and cold now against shoulder

blades and thickening waist, cling to me
as I sit here, shivering in the fluorescent light,
thunder vibrating these old walls.

Absent lightning, I think there must
be times when we need the sound
without the fury.

When the storm lifts,
and night falls, I will make promises
about the work to be done: sever

the hardy hibiscus stems, the lanky
maximillian sunflowers. Dig out the vincas,
mow the leaves and bury the other remnants

of dying, pull this old body up by the laces
of my worn tennis shoes, lose myself
momentarily in the busyness of burying

the dead, wait steadfast for the cold to come.
Le Reve (The Dream)
Pablo Picasso, 1932

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Grandmother’s Love Letters

There are no stars tonight
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

Monday, November 12, 2007

Luther Burbank
Frida Kahlo, 1931

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Prodigal

Dark morning rain
Meant to fall
On a prison and a school yard,
Falling meanwhile
On my mother and her old dog.

How slow she shuffles now
In my father's Sunday shoes.
The dog by her side
Trembling with each step
As he tries to keep up.

I am on another corner waiting
With my head shaved.
My mind hops like a sparrow
In the rain.
I'm always watching and worrying about her.

Everything is a magic ritual,
A secret cinema,
The way she appears in a window hours later
To set the empty bowl
And spoon on the table,
And then exits
So that the day may pass,
And the night may fall

Into the empty bowl,
Empty room, empty house,
While the rain keeps
Knocking at the front door.

Charles Simic
from The Voice at 3:00 A.M.


I finally decided, after much thought and deliberation,
to start a poetry circle at the public library.
We will have an organizational meeting this Tuesday

I have chosen Simic as our first poet to discuss,
but I haven't chosen the two poems I would like
to discuss. Actually, we won't discuss them at this meeting.
I'll just send copies home with folks, and then when (or if)
this thing gets off the ground, we'll discuss
them in Decemebr and from that point on,
I'll email the circle members a few weeks before
each meeting with the name or the poet
and the poems we will discuss.

So far, I've only had two calls in regard to the meeting, but
maybe some folks will show up. I won't get discouraged.

I need this. Now. I need to move on with my life. I need
to put all of that pain and frustration and despair
in its place (wherever that may be).

It's hard to do when you miss someone. Miss them
so badly and know you are never going to see them
again, unless there is something after this life.

In the last 18 months, I've lost Dad, my job, my aunt,
my daughter's best friend, a former neighbor, one
of my dearest friends ever, and my will. Many days,
only the love I feel for my children and grandchild
and my pets keeps me going.

It's raining. I'm glad its raining.

I wonder if my mom is setting a bowl on the table about now.
Grey Line With Black, Blue, and Yellow
Georgia O'Keeffe, 1923

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I stand at attention, red burning
ember lifted in the November air,
doing my best Statue of Liberty
imitation, right hand raised,
carcinogens lifting into the already
saturated carcinogenic air. Bring
me the tired and the poor,
those closest to my heart, let
this beacon of camaraderie shine
long after I am gone, let my tired
arm forget its reluctance to hold
true all the untruths, the lies,
the ambiguity. I can get by
thinking for this one day that this
is the best I can give, a phrase spoken
on a porch emptied of green, a steadfast
belief that better days may have come
and gone, that worse times may
lie ahead, that the best may be one
moment of such small insignificance
that only the holly tree knows
the sacrilege, and the birds who stop
to alight, the reasons for leaving. I raise
my arm high in homage to all that is lost,
to all left to find, to the company of solitude.
Dos personages
Rufino Tamayo, 1968

Friday, November 09, 2007

Frida Kahlo
The Little Deer, 1946

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Over and Over Again

Many of the people I love the most
lie beneath the ground, silent, not open
to this mockery, this home without host,
this defilement of character most shun.

And so my words I speak into the night--
freely to you and to you, unabashed--
may linger and die slowly when daylight
finds me lying there, the night's fear rehashed.

Another morning, wildflowers screaming
listen! listen you, roll yourself over
and over again until the dreaming
refuses to hold you captive. Cover

the fragile flowers bordering the edge
of your life, the fringes of your knowledge.
The Card Players
Paul Cezanne, 1890-92

Large Bathers
Paul Cezanne, 1900-05

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Red Canna
Georgia O'Keeffe, 1919

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Sunflower From Maggie
Georgia O'Keeffe, 1937

Monday, November 05, 2007

Two Trees
Willem de Kooning, 1975

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Today my 49th birthday. I wish I could
say I feel happy or at least good or at the very
minimum, okay. Some people say life begins at 50,
but damn, I don't want to wait one more year!
Been waiting a long time already.

My daughter and her boyfriend were here
this weekend. She even baked me a cake
last night (gluten-free!). It was actually
pretty good. So, Friday night was good
because they were here and my youngest
son and his friends were around and people
were having fun.

Yesterday was good, too. Lauren and I took
Molly for her walk at the cemetery, then
we just all sat around and talked. Dinner
last night with the kids (except oldest
son and family) and with my in-laws was nice.

I'm just blue. In a way I can't shake. I think
some people are just born that way. No, born
with some genes which may contribute to the melancholy,
but so much is up to me to do with my life what I can.

Just don't have the can-do attitude of late.
Well, not just of late--pretty much all my life.

Boring, yawn, yawn, yawn...


Reread A Rough Magic, a biography of Sylvia
Plath, which sent me searching the web for info
about her kids and found this site. Her daughter
is quite beautiful and talented.

Now reading The Fountainhead--one of those books
that has been on my bookshelves for 25 years and I just
never felt terribly inclined to read it. Maybe I am thinking
I need more objectivism in my life.


Going to go read some more, wait for it to warm up a bit
outside, take Molly for her walk, and then just be.


1958 Events
Bell Lilies in a Copper Vase
Van Gogh

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Lady of Shalott
John William Waterhouse, 1888

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Van Gogh Bandaged