Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009--Hey, thanks!

another hour gone. And a minute minute set deep in a green dip, a swoop where the swoon meant to be. You bend your knees, your twin-beliefs, and every pliƩ feels like prayer.
from the Gratitudes Collective of Cindy K. and me.

Since a day can include all of these things: a call from Christina where Evan (perfect-being!) gurgles and coos out his new collections of sounds-miraculous, as if nothing ever made such musics before; my dear Antonia can sound like she hasn't sounded in years--laughter back in her throat and warmth and this is the year she became again, a dearest friend; a coffee in the afternoon with a friend years and years my junior but bright and so wise, long phonecalls with a new near-sibling friend where we talk no small-talk and the matters of the world, for a time, are what matters, chamomile tea waiting warm for me, also vitamins and a sandwich made of a taffy and children's vitamins because that's how well, JWS knows me; my Lady K's voice on the line--back in our ring of mountains, keeping our hometown in place for me; me and CK batting poems back and forth for weeks(this one, too) --odd jewels sung-out in two-part(y) wacky harmonies;a giddy-maker calling in from a town with an Irish name to tell me a thing about hitmen, the Virgin Islands and the year about to flip over with two in its shiny canoe I thank you. If 2010 just gave me Tonia's joy and Evan, it would have been plenty, but it was a year full of gifts.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Neil Halstead!

Just pearly smiles and Mona Lisa wiles
For your coterie of stars
Your barrel of charlatans

Plus such courage:

Try to get the colours right
And I’ll paint you face she said
Cos life is on the outside babe
And you got to try and get it right

Buy a ten-dollar camera
take a picture of everyone
Cos people change
Yeah they change
Changing everyday

And I don’t want to be the one that you don’t recognise
I don’t want to be the one that’s left behind

Got a broken car yeah got a selfish heart
Running down the road
With a jukebox in my head
Funny how I got to here
I don’t remember how
I just want to live somewhere where the air is sweet and clear

And I don’t want to be the one that you don’t recognise
I don’t want to be the one that’s left behind

Sitting on my own girl
I’ve had time to grow a beard for you
Hiding out in cars
I’ve been tryna find a way back home to you
These California stars girl
They’ve been hanging out for you
Cos I know that you’ll love the man
Whose follicles are growing just for you

Could you find a job for someone
Who don’t know the first thing

I could sit on the fence
Learn self-defense
I could watch some telly
And get real smelly
Oh I don’t know
I could fight a battle
Yeah shake my rattle
I could sleep I s’pose
Get bellicose
Oh I don’t know
I could dream of rainbows
Melting ice flows
I could squeeze a melon
Commit a felon
Oh I don’t know
I could meditate
I could mediate
I could pilorise
I could plagiarize
Oh I don’t know
I could get in training
To be amazing
I could tie myself up
I could set myself free

Sitting on my own girl
I’ve had time to grow a beard for you
Hiding out in cars
I’ve been tryna find a way back home to you
These California stars girl
They’ve been hanging out for you
Cos I know that you’ll love the man
Whose follicles are growing just for you

I like what Lorca does to my brain!

He might be one of the few men of which I can declare that.
But seriously, I like Lorca and while I am not alone nor original, I forget how good he is for the way I want to think. It's not just the good old surrealism thing, it's the intimacy of voice, the way say, Ashbery can be rolling along in a world that is so interior and brilliant that we can sometimes only enjoy the delight in the firings of synapse as they speak back and forth inside the skull of genius all through the night, like two little boys and their morse code of flashlight, long after they were told to turn-in. Then, with Ashbery, there is this moment of intimacy, a come-here, listen-in quality where the tone and the strange objects braid and their nothing shy of celestial music as meandering and obfuscation,and the physics of the odd meet the dodo or winter fires and upon being called into the inner circle of a brain with two kids in its neighborhood beating out a message in blinking lights across the night, we are,for a moment, utterly privy and that moment is epic. The rest of the time, the lights, their rhythm and pattern, still provide pleasure and make the night a singing, luminous thing.

But I began with Lorca & I rambled about Ashbery because it is that moment of tone, voice, intimacy that wiggles into the midst of all that funky stuff--the trees and bugs and green beauties of Lorca and makes it like something out of Avatar but without the cheesy didactics and no need for the 3d glasses. Lorca knows, Ashbery knows, their poems were all that 3d long before technology could catch up, which it won't, which it can't.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Craving Lorca's Missing Body

A thousand Persian little horses fell asleep
in the plaza with moon of your forehead,
while through four nights I embraced
your waist, enemy of the snow.

Thanks Cindy for the shared-obsession. Some bodies missing are a bigger deal than others.
To you Fedrico, I award this day after a mute holiday and a weary season.

Me and CK are writing up a storm, sometimes two at a time. Just. Because. We. Can.
So there, Intagliettes, that's a little pre-taste of 2010!
"Too often Nostalgia was my credit card of choice and I had run it too many times beyond the limit. Every place I'd ever been imbued with the memories, the precise emotions and the person to share it all with me. I'm told that readers take the world in just that way, through details, the impressions left in a scene, the light bathing the surfaces, so that no place sat unstoried. Sam had left the silhouette of his long form in shadows that cast sometimes for miles. I thought this as I made my way through the rows of books at the main library, that there were labynths of memories, the book I reached for contained its own narrative, the life it held between the cloth-bound book to its left--avocado with formal gilded script and the book to its right, a rumpled dark paperback, the story in each house it lodged in for a few weeks and the story of its return, reshelving and each hand that reached for it here, leafed through it and as I just did, set it back into its niche, though the instructions on the end of the shelf suggested it stay out for the formal reshelving of the library staff. I wanted to live here where the stories tangled around themselves and if one could only see them as tangible silks or threads, they might make a Persian rug or intricate tapestry of memories."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

They are seldom racing cyclists
and are largely innocent

of the working of the petrol engine.
They are, however, comfortable in taxis.

They are abroad in the small hours
and will seek out the caustic blue liqueur

that you purchased in Majorca
for comedy reasons, and will rise late.

There are whole streets
where their work is not known.

a father in the army

and the distance to the next farm
made them solitary.

Their pets
were given elaborate funerals.

No one understands them.
They are inordinately proud of this

for they have shunned
the brotherhood

of the post room
and the hair salon.

They write a word
and then another word.

It is usually wrong.
Their crossings out are legion.

They sit in trains
and pass through cotton towns at nightfall,

conscious of the shape of cranes
on the violet sky

and how the poured creamer
pleats and billows in their coffee,

and how both of these things
whisper, softly, "Death."

Mark Haddon

Time to List the Gratitudes, Time to Burn Regrets

It's fitting that a post that will list things for which I am grateful should begin with Evan, my shiny new nephew. Before the list, there's this: due to Evan and the confusion about the holidays, where we would go, when we'd visit, and so on, I ended up here, in Columbus, not near Florida where the esteemed little man is and not in Utah which is and will always be: home. So I woke this morning feeling a little bit lost, pathetic as it sounds, lonely and untethered by all that is not stitching me down to any one place right. I love this job, my students overwhelm me with delight, joy, and yes, thanks, and the friends I have--however not here they may be--are wonderful people, but it's Christmastime and I feel a little wistful, cold and reflective. So in light and in honor:

The Gratitudes of 2009
1. Evan George McKinnon: diapered-miracle who sometimes moonlights as a giraffe.
2. Gingerbread coffee, care of Nicole (thank you!)
3. Perenially but better-daily: my family. This is the year that my two sisters became my closest friends.
4. My garden tomatoes (thank you Bear for digging my garden!)
5. The Bear, the Bird, the Boys-Lost I Peppermint Patty through my days alongside. It's a wonderful Neverland to fly.
6. Women wise and gorgeous that somehow find and friend me. Lesley, Liz, Kathrine, Karima, CindyKing! Elizabeth, (the)Kate, Krista, Karin, Michelle, Steph, Antonia, Christina, Mary, Susan, and both Holly and her husband Peter whose love and help way back in 2003 are still assisting me.
7. Space heaters.
8. The spill of students/friends who are too vast to keep naming but who cannot neglect to include Sean and the odd-loveliness of Scott's worldview and words.
9. Antony & the Johnsons (thank you Lesley!) The Avett Brothers, Ed Sharpe, more Nick Cave and the new M. Ward. All what 2009 gave me musically.
10. Rumpled book boys with eyes like the woodsy heart of forests in afternoon or the cool thing that the word limelight does to my brain.
11. Zelda-rooms, good books, good book-lenders.
12. New stories: Palindrome, Happiness Falls, NY, countless poems. The words that salve and save me when my curioser-self partakes of worlds too slick and fast for my own good. And yet...
13. Prabhakar's healing. The merciful life and death of Cynthia. The year it's been and all she taught us.
14. Drusilla--always, always Drusilla and how much comfort she gives my BFF.
15. Thai Spicy Basil; grown in a windowbox, made into my first Thai Seafood Soup. So spicy, so worth-it.
16. Likewise Gladys, Bronte, Schrodinger.
17. Morning smoothies-today's was mocha with ginger and pure vanilla extract.
18. Cherry-Oat Bars from Bakery Gingham. One a week and only if I earned it, but I work hard to earn it.
19. John Cage Festivals. The knowing that I had my people and they had those hearts and brains and I got to be near all of it. I don't know that I love Cage but I loved the work we did. I raise my 2009 goblet to Michelle! to Kate!
20. Coraline in 3d. Up (my God!) The movies that make me sorry that heaven and hell might be theatre-free.
21. Cineplex-kisses.
22. Understanding Radiohead's Creep in a more profound way than ever before.
23. Basi Italia and their zucchini appetizers.
24. The Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and their conical, skirt of lights.
25. Pumpkin Spice Coffee at Get-go. You can taste the nutmeg. (Noticing a trend in what I'm grateful for?)
26. Metro Fitness' badass, grungy, down-to-business facility. How many times I have I burned away the regrets of mid-year in your familiar walls? The black and white photographs of bodybuilders of old that line the stairs down to the locker room. And on a day when I felt less than wonderful: that tall, pretty-eyed Honda Boy who made me laugh.
27. Rilke's quote about loving the questions and maybe living into the answers. This was my year for understanding it completely. The year I saw through with months of J and the way that nothing I did or was would make or break the outcome. The friendship and respect eeked out of all of that confusion. But miraculously, this is the year I would get to know the rest of someone's story who so-impacted my way of seeing things last year. What I longed for, I long for no more. But what I have: my own "pitbull-guardian-angel" Sicilian-fierce and brotherly-protective has made the last December's first meeting into an answer that shines light on all of the new questions, fears and things best left unthought and unfrettered with musings. Living. Living. Living. More adventures. More poppies and picnics. Music boxes and nectarines
28. Lakeside Amusement Park and the Wild Chipmunk ride that nearly changed the shape of American Poetry.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No no to Adventures

That's my New Year's promise to me, no more denying adventures when they're offered. I'm planning to take off here in a few days and think I am going to find a way to budget in a fun New Year's Eve. I have had the kinds of years brought in quietly and with someone close to me and those have been fine. This year I think I will actually ring the thing in in my fabulous new dress (found on sale and fitting as if it were made for me). Good news is already rolling in: top ten ranking for a story in a field of over four hundred entries, advanced on to final judge where publication and prize money would be nice should I score them. Have been really active lately and writing and writing, besides. And I've been happy. Despite some things, as a result of others.

Some oracles deal in miracles
others shape fictions with tongues

silver as blades. Miss November
promises cold, miss november

still, also October and the bare
branches that spell December.

About you: so much said so long
I mean this every way imaginable.

On the Saturday sidewalk, someone stood
watching the backing-away as if for the last time.

It's fully winter now, by anyone's
gauge. Frost feathers, snowflakes doily down

until the snow that blankets one home
leaves a deep, knowing chill inside another.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The play that made me want a snakeskin jacket

"I went up to the bar where you were standing and touched your jacket and said, "What stuff is this made of?" and when you said it was snakeskin, I said, "I wish you'd told me before I touched it." And you said something not nice. You said, "Maybe that will learn you to hold back your hands." I was drunk by that time, which was after midnight. Do you remember what I said to you? I said, "What on earth can you do on this earth but catch at whatever comes near you, with both your fingers, until your fingers are broken?" I'd never said that before, or even consciously thought it, but afterwards it seemed like the truest thing that my lips had ever spoken, what on earth can you do but catch at whatever comes near you with both your hands until your fingers are broken ... You gave me a quick, sober look. I think you nodded slightly, and then you picked up your guitar and began to sing."
--Carol Cutrere, Orpheus Descending

My whole life is built in some relationship to that quote: the times I wanted something so hard I nearly broke it or my fingers in the grip to the times I walked away shaking my head at how much people squander so easily. How many real connections in one life? How many cities sing through our bones when we visit them? New Orleans does that for me. A certain rightness to its color and fracture, like a city refracted through a grimy prism. Like something inadvertantly European, a delicacy that leaves a strange aftertaste. To live a life fully enthralled means both bliss and battle. Tennessee Williams loved the melodramatic character, the dizzy poetry of the inebriated and insane. But he knew to grant the Carol Cutrere's the wisdom that showed the grandeur of what they once believed and how that left them longing at the train stations inside themselves, waiting for the shiniest locomotive to tear through and take them somewhere that made of their lives furious bouquets of fever and firework. Who could live with such empty ticketbooths inside them when the expectations exceeded anything any world, much less this, could provide? Yet, Tennessee knew to give a nod, if not a bent tiara for that desire. Those Carol Cutreres, those drifters in snakeskin jackets, had been better for the daring the bold, the dangerous, even if only to break their own fingers grasping at it all.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Taking the Long Way

Or longing, or the sting or the difference between out and our is one keystroke.
Driving north for a long time today. Leaving Columbus in the rearview for a while. Some good music, some podcast and some stretches of highway--my old mind-righting techniques. The skies are white and the cold that is doesn't promise a promise to be worth-it warmer tonight. But things are sweetening and for that, I drive and bring lunch to a sick friend and remember how good it all felt and feels and will feel again. I mean winter, words, this pretty little life that I love too much and for all the best reasons.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reminded of this Guy

On Facebook this morning, someone posted The Blower's Daughter, my second favorite song on this cd.

I've been writing pretty steadily, off to a spinning class this afternoon and very nice company later. Life is odd, odd, odd, but most days I like it.
I think this is the year I learn Italian and make the trip there. It's been a lifelong dream and there's no time to squander dreams, it seems to me. I need to drive somewhere soon, too, to make the 2009 goal of some place in the U.S. where I haven't been. It must be a modest thing: Pittsburgh, Sandusky, somewhere that I will wish were White Sands or the Keys. I plan to knock both of those out this coming year.

I mean to say: Life does what it does, and sometimes, it astonishes.
I mean: She's back, a little road-worn but back.

This morning's offering from Season of White Flies:

"The gaslight district was a myriad of characters: young couples with their hopeful, correct politics and all-cotton, all-wool clothing, the old woman who fed the birds, stooped over and as old as time and who reminded me of the woman on Mary Poppins who sang the Tuppence song and who could trigger the most intricate form of melancholy in me. Some mornings the coffeeshop contained a complete cast of weekday morning regulars. It was an Edith’s that Aram never saw and on its best most village-like days, I wished it for him.
The music: Celtic, some Broadway, told me who was working before I walked fully through the door. When Lena wasn’t there, the two waitresses played Sinead O’ Connor and the music set the tone and the number 17 stopped all along the front windows with the alto-voiced woman announcing Number Seventeen Mount Airy before seven beeps that threatened the doors were about to close and I wished that life had such alarms: the tea kettle’s shrill whistle, the bus’s little song meant to indicate departure, instead of the unspeakable way that we are meant to predict what’s about to boil over or vanish on us.

What it wasn’t was a wishbone or a crucifix, a babytooth, a scrap of ribbon, a lock of hair or a locket as a keeping place. What it wasn’t was a lucky coin or a treasure map marking the crucial X for the fortune worth chasing and the fortune left behind to do so,
What it wasn’t, couldn’t hope to be, was inconsequential, especially now with the miles it walked with me, literally in the same shoes and the way lost, it was dearer to me than ever.
Because my grandmother used to say that a Papoutsakis woman will walk one thousand miles for someone she loves, two thousand for someone she hates. Because what a Papoutsakis woman can hate with such vehemence must surely be someone who wronged the someone she loves. That’s a lot of mileage to cover for stasis and stasis has been the dance-step of choice too often, where I have been led some times and gone so far as to choreograph others."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Sometimes it felt like watching an aquarium and the contained, mute politics that take place there. I learned their language growing up but what I could hear was somehow inferior to their clear, vivid orderly environment. In some reversal of things, I and the other hearing people were snowglobed away in our own little city and it was removed by a dome of glass from the nation of two who were my parents.
Their hands were as audible to me as speech when I walked in the door and my mother would smile and sign
"Hi Anastasia, how was school?"
or my father would call me into the kitchen to "help me with peeling the shrimp for dinner."
It wasn't the literal quiet, it was that I knew that they would have preferred a deaf child, knew from the conversations within their circle of deaf friends that they were in better-standing for having married one another, rather than a hearing person. I stood outside, no matter how blood-close or fluent I became.
"Kali mera, Baba," I'd mouth and sign good morning.
"Kali mera, Anastasia." he'd reply, mixing up the batter for Sunday pancakes. I moved to the fruit bowl, the fridge and begin to slice the banana into creamy, spider-hearted discs, sprinkle a handful of pecans into one batch--my husband's favorite--and dark chocolate chips for my mother. In that way we worked, our hands too busy with the task of cooking for speech and the choreography of morning, family and close playing itself out silently." from Season...

Attending a class called Mass Destruction

Coming home to list gratitudes again and if there are any regrets to burn, I'll get the index card on that started, too. For now, off to see the bodywizard.

Writing on the novel. Soon more on the children's book. Check out this sweet inspiration.

I always post a million times a day during winter break. It makes me feel like I'm attending a writers' retreat of sorts. Thanks again for the writing feedback.

I'm filling my week up and finding ways to be happy. Writing is crucial, plus the great salmon thing I'm making for dinner.

Loving these lines:

Nora Jones to John Ashbery. The world blazes on.

You ruined me now, though I liked it
Now I'm ruined, Your chocolate eyes like buttons in piles.


"Whose touch at nightfall must now be
To keep their promise? Misery
Starches the host's one bed, his hand
Falls like an axe on her curls:
"Come in, come in! Better that the winter
Blaze unseen, than we two sleep apart!"
J. Ashbery

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"The box of letters fell from the top shelf of the closet where I'd placed it after the move when Sam's death was so new that whole days would be lost reading the letters again. Sam could make me laugh, stop the thought-locomotive that tore through me and make me calm inside, make it easy just to rest, to smile. The top letter was the one from our early meeting. The envelope looked ragged, a little smudged but so white the light reverberated off of it. Sam's handwriting on the front knocked the wind out of my lungs but as my fingers birdbeaked down into the envelope and brought out the white notebook page, I felt my face widen into a grin. Sam wrote like a lighthearted boy. His words spare but lively. Lady A, Saw you just yesterday, already I can't stop thinking about things you said He delighted in being that very boy and it came through each line and his words stung now less than they pleased me. To have known such a boy. Imagine. I keep thinking of us there, checking out that white sand, feeling like we're on the moon. Of course, the photographs--his favorites, part of the treasure he brought along were the bike, his knee touching the track round a curve in a dip so deep I thought it was a crash photographed moments before it occured. Something felt like watching my parents argue, the signing of their rage so emphatic but the air that whooshed by their fingers almost a silent film of what their voices would do were they to engage them. The speed caught in that photo was no measure. Sam's faraway face said as much when he spoke of it and what could I do but beam back? I've never been to the moon, A, but I think I'm starting to know how it might feel. From Season of White Flies
When can we call this week a day already? Trying to chin-up my way through it but truly, I am so tired of the suck-fest it has been with its Sunday headstart.

Today I was denied a grant by the Ohio Arts Council, wasted half my day there so no spinning class and watched my dear Les make round after round only too, to be stupidly rejected. Here in the house in my wintercoat, it's too cold, and dark too soon. Kissing is a gateway drug.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Drinking warm milk, hot bathing,

and being good to myself. From pilates to school, where for once, grades were turned in early and my writing has been the one good, constant thing to hang onto. The night is softening, and sleep newly-challenged but possible. Soon, I'll turn in, read myself to sleep and hope for kind dreams. Finally have the Tenderness poem memorized and for tonight I offer this:


L Candela

The eggs burn softly
in the earth, and when glow worms
hatch out, ravenous,

each one comes with a tiny
bright square of light like

the view-hole to a
furnace notched in its belly.
Can you feel their heat?

Their hunger for the tender
moonstruck flesh of slugs and snails?

2. Lambert
Sometimes at night, fire
flies are startled by lightning,
the tympani-drum flutter

of thunder rumbling the storm
home, and they all flash at once

in surprise—a quick
blinking open of sleepy
green nocturnal eyes,

a phosphorescent murmur:
Go back to sleep. It's just rain

3. Lumen
How vulnerable
we would all be if longing
shone through our bodies,

if our skins were translucent
lanterns flushed with yellow flame

leaping in the strange
and unpredictable winds
of our desire, like

the neon Morse code fireflies
use to brazenly flick the night.

4. Luciferin
You are a dusky
angel drawn to the gleaming
beam of my porch light,

a brief embered orange blaze
from your cigarette, sizzle

of sparks splattering
the asphalt of my sidewalk.
Your touch like sooty

moth wings, and I glow, suffused
with your heat, your scent, your light.

Copyright © 2009 Lee Ann Roripaugh All rights reserved
from On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year

Monday Musings

"...I’m a fan of the tangible, the slow-cooked oatmeal,
the dying pigeon crouched by the base of the tree,
the velour of baby hair against the hand. Pomegranates:

the ruby tears dressed in their transparent rain-jackets.
And why can’t moments be labeled as they happen?

So no miracle’s ever lost, like that day when the taxi
collects us from the movies and we skittle home in the rain
make dinner, believe, love and then call it, (how-could-we?) a day."

Time to watch Amelie again, put on my vintage man dress shoes and walk around thinking about it for hours afterwards. Every day more Zelda-room time. There's no better place on earth to lie down, read and dream things into revision.

The Moon's Laying Low in the Sky Forcing Everything Metal to Shine

"Listening to Sam's music in the old house, I moved his things into one corner of the room. It spilled out like some tragic volcano of memory and there, puked up from the place where two walls met was most of how my husband defined himself. The bike, twisted thing, was taken away by his friend, whether it was repairable or not, I didn't want to know, because knowing meant betraying Sam by not fixing it. I picked up the stray pick on the nightstand, and strummed one of the four guitars that stood like back-up singers to the terrible song my life had become at 12:28 in the middle of the day where a murky sun hung from the sky's gallows and my life, that life, ended for good. How many times in dating Sam, had I asked to hear the stories of racing, just to see his face go lit-up, go faraway to some place where he felt singular, felt about himself, the way I felt about him over breakfast or as he stood, at the door of the closet as he sheepishly undressed for the night and stood there, a kind of stunning architecture of length and lean, and no matter how many years it got to be, I was never accustomed to how arresting he was to me. I loved the pride his face took in the telling, and how many times then had he told me that most people die riding on the streets, not on the track and how often did I wish my husband would outgrow that bike, the one took him to the store and back again, the one, on sunny days as we lay in bed, I could see him already riding as his eye wandered window-wise, measuring the light, the bends in the highway and how tiny that thrill would be comparatively."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Taking the Sun out of Sunday

Cold, cold gray day, but lots getting done. A run to the gym, then cold again. Break starts tomorrow and what doesn't break us and so on.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Can you cry so beautifully you make my troubles rhyme?

Billie, you're a miracle and God knows I need one.

Such a Golden Saturday and I am Indoors

but have to be. The bedroom is coming along. The clothes screening, necessary. The Rickie Lee Jones and Leonard Cohen just shared with me, a lovely soundtrack.

Later, the gym with my i-pod and the raunchiest set of songs imaginable but deeply motivating. What that says about me probably shouldn't be known.

To more work, to an apartment ready to be winterized and lived in for a whole month of break.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two Stolen from the Elegant Lesley

Carol B. and not the Carol B. from my childhood. My father abhored her, my mother enjoyed her show and so she was often on and I remember the ear-tug most of all when I think of her, just as I recall Conan's opening jump on all those old late-nights when there was too much alone, and not enough laughter.

Send in the Clowns is a song that I rehearsed a million and fifty times to audition for madrigals. On the day of auditions, I stayed home and suffered the rich suffering of one who just parted with any chance of having something she wanted terribly. I am half-mocking myself, except the desire for music (the piano I restored in my parent's garage, the lessons I asked to take and lamed out on in both piano and guitar, and the six years of vocal training...sigh, it was a Big Crush I had with music) continued. I ended up in accapella instead, me and a room full of talented Mormons, with a teacher who was himself a member of the Tabernacle Choir and I went on to be on literary staff and how could that be a bad thing. Still, this song, its backstory, the premise and the ways that we have to hold back, take risks and crumple sometimes, very intriguing to me just now. Thanks lovely Les-lou!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Road
Philip Larkin

Since we agreed to let the road between us
Fall to disuse,
And bricked our gates up, planted trees to screen us,
And turned all time's eroding agents loose,
Silence, and space, and strangers - our neglect
Has not had much effect.

Leaves drift unswept, perhaps; grass creeps unmown;
No other change.
So clear it stands, so little overgrown,
Walking that way tonight would not seem strange,
And still would be allowed. A little longer,
And time will be the stronger,

Drafting a world where no such road will run
From you to me;
To watch that world come up like a cold sun,
Rewarding others, is my liberty.
Not to prevent it is my will's fulfillment.
Willing it, my ailment.

Commiting this one to memory

Where does this tenderness come from?
These are not the – first curls I
have stroked slowly – and lips I
have known are – darker than yours
as stars rise often and go out again
(where does this tenderness come from?)
so many eyes have risen and died out
in front of these eyes of mine.

and yet no such song have
I heard in the darkness of night before,
(where does this tenderness come from?):
here, on the ribs of the singer.
Where does this tenderness come from?
And what shall I do with it, young
sly singer, just passing by?
Your lashes are – longer than anyone's.

Marina Tsvetaeva
From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
Li-Young Lee

Happiness in a video--Icelandic, actually, lyrics below

So cold today--indoors & out. But I'm happy. Strangely lit up inside. So many
things I'm understanding anew.

Spinning round and round
holding hands
the whole world a blur
but you are standing

completely drenched
no rubber boots
running inside us
want to erupt from a shell

The wind
an outdoor smell of your hair
I breathe as hard as I can
with my nose

Jump into puddles
with no boots on
completely drenched
with no boots on

And I get a nosebleed
but I always stand up

Sigur Ros

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

True Love
by Nate Klug

Off rows of windshields
in the Amtrak lot
rain in sudden
clumps like jacks. Parked cars
with people in them
awaiting people they imagine
hurtling through suburbs
of silver woods
awaiting them. True
love needs interference,
a certain blizzard distance,
for the words to worm through.
Remember Iowa?
August storms that would self-spark
as if our fights could trip
the finest wire beneath the sidewalk.
And the sunlight, harder after.
If you practice an art, be proud of it and make it proud of you. It may break your heart, but it will fill your heart before it breaks it; it will make you a person in your own right.

—Maxwell Anderson

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I simply cannot see where there is to get to

It would take more than a thunderbolt, it would take more than a lightning bolt, more than a storm that keeps coming and won't finally arrive. It would take more than her close reading of the unfolding climate. I too, would like to believe in tenderness but there is nothing in the mailbox, nothing on the front step, the sun, muffled in the winter sky, is only bald and oblivious.

Certain days roll out like gift wrap and it's easy to race through the city streets in cold and the way to disappearing. I am unaware of what I might have done to prevent the inevitable tear, I read in a book that Aram found on the bus and brought home. "One of your kind of books," he said and for the first time, I can't tell him what has me so faraway this dumb afternoon. I walked a long time earlier, thought of my parent's silence, their quiet, gesturing world, how far outside it I had always been. Had it been any wonder that it was Sam's love for speed that both drew and terrified was a metaphor: the bike he nearly tipped each time he rounded a curve, the look, that to keep him alive, had to keep itself far, far ahead, never to where it was about to be, but to the place far ahead from where he was now. Of course, I was furious when he died, on the road with a quart of skim milk and a dozen eggs scattered up against the sidewalk, and Sam too, a terrible humpty dumpty of the mundane streets that held none of the thrill for him. But they landed him in a forever-elsewhere, which loving Sam felt most like the place he wanted to be. Like his best moments, another place where I couldn't be. There was such a sweetness to him afterwards, like after love or a long, lean afternoon in the woods, walking in silence, so that the crack of twig and dried leaf that formed the grid under our feet seemed to disrupt the entire forest. Sam's thoughts though, I swore I could hear them as the another lesser-crackeling and even as I could see his ring catching light where his arm swung down, I felt I could see him eyeing the furthest-most point of the trail, gauging how long it would take us to arrive at points we would never reach, and the gold band toying with sunlight seemed to twinkle out a code:

I am not your own, I am not your own.

I wondered at the desultory silvering water, the park overcast with expectations she armored herself against. The clouds do not undulate in sympathy but as foreshadowing.

from Season of White Flies
A Story For Rose On The Midnight Flight To Boston

Until tonight they were separate specialties,
different stories, the best of their own worst.
Riding my warm cabin home, I remember Betsy's
laughter; she laughed as you did, Rose, at the first
story. Someday, I promised her, I'll be someone
going somewhere and we plotted it in the humdrum
school for proper girls. The next April the plane
bucked me like a horse, my elevators turned
and fear blew down my throat, that last profane
gauge of a stomach coming up. And then returned
to land, as unlovely as any seasick sailor,
sincerely eighteen; my first story, my funny failure.
Maybe Rose, there is always another story,
better unsaid, grim or flat or predatory.
Half a mile down the lights of the in-between cities
turn up their eyes at me. And I remember Betsy's
story, the April night of the civilian air crash
and her sudden name misspelled in the evening paper,
the interior of shock and the paper gone in the trash
ten years now. She used the return ticket I gave her.
This was the rude kill of her; two planes cracking
in mid-air over Washington, like blind birds.
And the picking up afterwards, the morticians tracking
bodies in the Potomac and piecing them like boards
to make a leg or a face. There is only her miniature
photograph left, too long now for fear to remember.
Special tonight because I made her into a story
that I grew to know and savor.
A reason to worry,
Rose, when you fix an old death like that,
and outliving the impact, to find you've pretended.
We bank over Boston. I am safe. I put on my hat.
I am almost someone going home. The story has ended.
Anne Sexton

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday Morning

Some gold light out there, I mean to head out with my pail. Made my morning smoothie, some good coffee--strong and fragrant, and am about to be gym-bound.

My head is filled with a chorus of maybes and a never that I keep where nevers can't cut. I did not go to the Holiday Hop last night and I am a little sorry. I wanted to stay in, be warm, think about the kind of eyes that contain sunsets in every single way and the kind that look like good green light from the space in the woods that leads into a tree, the kind that will follow you into such forests and will make a little home with you there. I am thinking of Sicily, how lovely, how fierce and how I've never been there and how I don't know that I'll ever get there. Not really.

Yesterday was the kind of restless you get to be when a Friday night casts a particular kind of creepy glow into Saturday that starts the day neon and then makes it a little more like the jagged edges of the glass tubes to contain all that chemical light. But not only that. There was a whole held night, its breath or mine, who can say? In place or in memory, no matter. By a thread or over fire. Out, off, on, or in. So many ways to hold a thing or hold it back. It's what oceans and fires can best outsmart, but the heart is its own element.

But then too, an afternoon of good conversation and beautiful books and talk of words and old-fashioned candystands and malted milk tablets that came in glass bottles like pills.

This morning came in with the voice that wears the bear-shirt. All of the days gone-by and the days-ahead come down to the stuff of slumber parties and staying up all night to imagine what living forever could be.

And don't you like the dress I bought you?
in the lady store in town

Friday, December 04, 2009

How not to love Frank O'Hara

yet you will always live in a jealous society of accident
you will never know how beautiful you are or how beautiful
the other is, you will continue to refuse to die for yourself
you will continue to sing on trying to cheer everyone up
and they will know as they listen with excessive pleasure that you're dead
and they will not mind that they have let you entertain
at the expense of the only thing you want in the world/you are amusing
as a game is amusing when someone is forced to lose in a game I must

I was reminded today of this poem, so much of it that I love but these lines, I should have them tattooed on the back of my eyelids.