Thursday, June 25, 2009

Earle Grey Ice Cream

To lift the bergamot from your cold mouth.
Sun Bicycle in a Color Called Overjoyed or Over You.
To spin the spokes to a daisy wish with an odd number of petals

Time to watch Penelope Cruz and Ben Kingsley in another Elegy.

Ci vediamo su quando torni.


To Lift the Pain Whole from You

I am thinking of my sister here, how hard this lately is and how hard to say the right words about love, what it means, how to get it and how to get it and so on. I am packing up all the Mary Oliver and Anais Nin I can. I am reminding her, reminding me, reminding all the good architects of all the good houses for birds that it's not all for the birds. But some days, Chickadees.

Roberta Flack singing The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. The rain pouring hard outside. The Zelda room's good memories, if achey. The ginger-green tea I drank on the way back from the gym (in the rain) and the so many "me-toos" we kiss goodbye when we lose someone.

Oh Sister, I wish I could band-aid this for you. I am full of missings and musings but the world does "offer itself up to your imagination" and that makes everything possible once you pull anchor and sail.


after Neruda

In this mouth I gather darkness, an aria,
rosewater tongue, tympanic bone,
a poem more quiet than quietness,
a bronze song, something undone, salvia,
a crushed butterfly.
It is the blood on a light bulb, the seventh sadness,
a fluctuation that closes oceans and eyes.
The vermilion and solitary luminary
shimmies and singes the feathers of the aviary.

Moon, the clock's word, dear mother, ruin, rain.

Simone Muench

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'll Run Away with You

The shuffle saved me tonight while the mood was a blender set to frappe, and my insides all cycloning, I tore out the door running and out to the park where the songs of infinite cheez-whiz kept my feet as angry as they were sad and as sad as could keep them churning (which kept the blender switched off in the stomach). I came home awash in sweat and just enough endorphin-buzz to keep me from weeping. Yes, one of those days, but not without good reason and not without gains. For a minute, I could see how much was possible and how wrong so many of the previous places had been for finding it. There's that and that's not nothing.

So,I am a sea of self-indulgence tonight and self-indulgence makes a great bedfellow for Ms. Nin's various wisdoms.

People living deeply have no fear of death.

The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle

There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

Anxiety is love's greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.

Do not seek the because - in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.

A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked.

That last one is a feeling I had for nearly six whole months. Then I risked it, and for good worth-it reason and I tripped, but I'm good for it, a little scraped but only flesh wounded. It's only Wednesday night, after all, and not the end of the world. Beginning with Anais and ending with The Cure, how odd that journey.

...a raging sea Stole the only girl I loved, drowned her deep inside of me

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Found a friend's blog and was reminded of what I told myself the beginning of this year and how lately, I have been reminded that getting what one wants is one thing, knowing about the care and feeding of it is another.
Something happy-making happened and it was so good for me. I am determined to be good for this sort of thing, and the next few weeks and this summer schedule are all going to be devoted to finding my way to that, to finishing the novel's first fifty and sending out my new story, to getting the gym schedule solid again and with yoga and trying very hard to learn from my losses.

I am posting the poem I most need to remember right now. It is, admittedly, repost, but I need it--(like diaquiri ice and movie nights of late and so much that I had, not long ago and deeply-cherished but not well enough or correctly)--close at hand.


Some who are uncertain compel me. They fear
The Ace of Spades. They fear
Love offered suddenly, turning from the
Sweet with decision. And they distrust
The fireworks by the lakeside, first the spuft,
Then the coloured lights, rising.
Tentative, hesitant, doubtful, they consume
Greedily Caesar at the prow returning,
Locked in the stone of his act and office.
While the brass band brightly bursts over the water
They stand in the crowd lining the shore
Aware of the water beneath Him. They know it.
Their eyes
Are haunted by water.

Disturb me, compel me. It is not true
That ‘no man is happy,’ but that is not
The sense which guides you. If we are
Unfinished (we are, unless hope is a bad dream),
You are exact. You tug my sleeve
Before I speak, with a shadow’s friendship,
And I remember that we who move
Are moved by clouds that darken midnight.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our Own Phillipsburgs

I owe my students a poem about my Phillipsburg. I thought it was the Fr. Quarter in my lovely, sad Nola. But that town is so bear-linked and right now I am all about the present-moment, the present in the moment and being happy with the bright-eyed feeling I am trying to learn to believe. The sandcastle-boots have been put away for the season and the fragile beginnings of a house near the sea and the little frail visits are forming their own summer memories. Maybe just maybe, this kid can stay happy with being happy long enough to shore it all up, resin or whatnot and brave it, prepare it, bring it in for the upcoming cold. After all, even Phillipsburg, as was pointed out to me, ends with the flash of red hair on a wall, lighting it all up with something like a brand of hope.

Tonight is wine and Wednesday wonder. (And sappy alliteration.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Who Writes Better than Bobby?

Now if you see Saint Annie
Please tell her thanks a lot
I cannot move
My fingers are all in a knot
I don't have the strength
To get up and take another shot
And my best friend, my doctor
Won't even say what it is I've got

Friday, June 12, 2009

Goodbye UC

So I am officially through with all the ceremony of the degree. Family here. Pretty red robe, periwinkle velvet hood and a dress beneath: peacock blue velvet and shoes with little blueberries at the toes.

I am a tangle of feelings. Missing one someone surprisingly-much. Grateful for so many someones, family not the least of that, and that bird and all of the help to get me this far, and that bear, whom I have always known and never long enough.

This day contained another magic, as out of the blue as the chicken that dropped onto our windshield on a North Carolina highway late one night. As out of the blue as the connections that I feel years and years later to people and that I imagine are one-sided until a day like today when a woman I admire so and think of often, but whom I have not spoken to in over a decade and at last hearing lived in North Carolina, calls out to me and is there, Cincy, both of us in our robes and time just circled forward, reared up and kissed me gently on the forehead as if to say: some things are worth it, some are not, and time, like a dutiful child learning arthrimetic, carries over the surplus and reminds you when you hit the next column, just how much you still have to figure in.

I'm saying it felt a little miraculous.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Oldies for a Week Overlaundered

I'm feeling the way I do after a tender, well-meaning failure of the heart or head or both: somewhere between washed over and wrung out. Two old, old favorites are the dose for such feelings. At least today, neck-deep in dreary sky and waiting to celebrate an old happening and missing my family so much before they get here and leave again, these poems are in order.

Degrees Of Gray In Philipsburg
You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago. You walk these streets
laid out by the insane, past hotels
that didn't last, bars that did, the tortured try
of local drivers to accelerate their lives.
Only churches are kept up. The jail
turned 70 this year. The only prisoner
is always in, not knowing what he's done.

The principal supporting business now
is rage. Hatred of the various grays
the mountain sends, hatred of the mill,
The Silver Bill repeal, the best liked girls
who leave each year for Butte. One good
restaurant and bars can't wipe the boredom out.
The 1907 boom, eight going silver mines,
a dance floor built on springs--
all memory resolves itself in gaze,
in panoramic green you know the cattle eat
or two stacks high above the town,
two dead kilns, the huge mill in collapse
for fifty years that won't fall finally down.

Isn't this your life? That ancient kiss
still burning out your eyes? Isn't this defeat
so accurate, the church bell simply seems
a pure announcement: ring and no one comes?
Don't empty houses ring? Are magnesium
and scorn sufficient to support a town,
not just Philipsburg, but towns
of towering blondes, good jazz and booze
the world will never let you have
until the town you came from dies inside?

Say no to yourself. The old man, twenty
when the jail was built, still laughs
although his lips collapse. Someday soon,
he says, I'll go to sleep and not wake up.
You tell him no. You're talking to yourself.
The car that brought you here still runs.
The money you buy lunch with,
no matter where it's mined, is silver
and the girl who serves your food
is slender and her red hair lights the wall.

Richard Hugo

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks

From all that is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessed day,
And cries,
``Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.''

Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world's hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,

``Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.''

Richard Wilbur

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hope back up to bat strikes out

When Chicky suggested our new poem work off of her short dream that included a newspaper with the single headline "Forget" it seemed the thing to do. I started to save sudoku puzzles and crosswords, ideas for things to see, to eat, to do together and then I stopped. There were only twenty whole days to gather them, but that feeling, that someone is thinking of me right now is the stuff of the papers, the not so funny papers, and the short headlines that remind us what it's best we forget.

Soon I am hooded, then birdhoused, then teaching. Soon things will find order again and in that order, something good.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Why I Lost Patience

I don't spring clean out my friendship closet in the old way anymore. Okay, I did commit one recent, good, old-fashioned firing. But only one and I tried very hard to avoid it. I think it's unhealthy to decide categorically against too many people too often. It says not-great things about my initial instincts. But I have distanced myself and I find myself distancing almost before I get close to some people. If asked why, I would suggest my limited energy and the fact that this past year, two very close friends lost someone that they loved very much. In both cases, their lost-persons were people I liked a whole bunch too, and people that I liked my people having near them. In one case, the death was not unfair in terms of age and the "she had a full-life" blah-blah and in the other, it was horribly unfair, the woman young, so many new starts in her life. In both cases, strong, amazing women who were not victims and did not revel in opportunities to be victims. But it's hard to use the old "people have real problems and your antics seem selfish, inauthentic and make for a difficult empathy project" bit because it too, seems like a borrowed tragedy and illustrative in the same way as our not eating our collective brussel sprouts becomes paired with those "starving children in China." It feels like something that should feel sad instead of generating a clean, relatable parallel.

But the times bit on happiness feels more like what I am feeling lately. There's this world and we get both too little and too much of it but like that old joke about the restaurant that serves "horrible food and the portions are too small" it's a good, bad banquet and it's gone too soon or rather, we are. And that too, is not new thinking but I like that a knife in the throat is an image that I won't forget and that to think of it is to remember that I like dignity and people taking up their fair share of space and giving something back to those around them. I like people who can show up sometimes instead of have so many reasons why they are too broken, too lost, too spacey, too pained to bother. Then it's all the language and that, these days, is my priority. The phone will suffer and the phonecalls will be reduced by a lot so that the words can have some time. But they are good for it. They are the givers and lovers of happiness. And if you have not yet read Carl Dennis' poem To Happiness (from his latest book) you really should.