I spent hours today going through the morass that was my mother’s utility room. It was her junk drawer of rooms. I cannot even begin to tell you of the things that I found, the things that were tucked away in bins and drawers—old sponges that disintegrated upon being touched, a thousand unmatched pot lids, keys of all sizes but unidentifiable, decorations for every occasion, plastic containers and lids, none of which matched . . . I came away utterly spent and smelly.
The moving and sorting continues . . .
if there are any heavens my mother will(all by herself)
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
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
This is my beloved my
“the tea smoke and the willow together trembling” ~ Kobayashi Issa
Internet was out until late today. I fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning and did not sleep well, awaking with a headache and heavy sinuses. Spent most of today dealing with customer service representatives. I am completely spent.
I can only offer you this . . .
My love affair with coffee is only surpassed by my much longer love affair with tea, which I began to drink when I was but a child. England, you know. Milky tea and hot bread and butter. Good times . . .
A Sweetening All Around Me As It Falls
Even generous August
only a child’s scribblings
on thick black paper, in smudgeable chalk –
even the ripening tomatoes, even the roses,
blowsy, losing their fragrance of black tea.
A winter light held this morning’s apples
as they fell, sweet, streaked by one touch
of the careless brush, appling to earth.
The seeds so deep inside they carry that cold.
Is this why some choose solitude, to rise
that small bit further, unencumbered by love of earth,
as the branches, lighter, kite now a little higher
on gold air? But the apples love the earth and falling,
lose themselves in it as much as they can at first touch
and then, with time and rain, at last completely:
to be that bone-like One that shines unleafed in
all black and glazed with not the pendant gold of
necklaced summer but the ice-color mirroring
when the earth is lonely and dark and knows nothing
Seed-black of the paper, seed-black of the waiting
December’s shine, austere and fragile, carves the
But today, cut deep in last plums, in yellow pears,
in second flush of roses, in the warmth of an hour,
as drunk on heat as the girl who long ago vanished
into green trees,
fold that loneliness, one moment, two, love, back into
I think that I am in love with the Curious History website. I find myself wanting to reblog almost everything that they post . . .
Hmm . . . things that make you go hmm . . .
Flying fish (Exocoetidae) can be seen jumping out of warm ocean waters worldwide. Their streamlined torpedo shape helps them gather enough underwater speed to break the surface, and their large, wing-like pectoral fins get them airborne.
There are about 40 known species of flying fish. Beyond their useful pectoral fins, all have unevenly forked tails, with the lower lobe longer than the upper lobe. Many species have enlarged pelvic fins as well and are known as four-winged flying fish.
The process of taking flight, or gliding, begins by gaining great velocity underwater, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) per hour. Angling upward, the four-winged flying fish breaks the surface and begins to taxi by rapidly beating its tail while it is still beneath the surface. It then takes to the air, sometimes reaching heights over 4 feet (1.2 meters) and gliding long distances, up to 655 feet (200 meters). Once it nears the surface again, it can flap its tail and taxi without fully returning to the water. Capable of continuing its flight in such a manner, flying fish have been recorded stretching out their flights with consecutive glides spanning distances up to 1,312 feet (400 meters).
If a man in his forties
is still drawing seas and dovecotes
if in his thought is reflected
a sun more transparent,
more lucid than the sun of reality,
if the word ‘Amorgos’ is not just
the mask of a fleeting, adolescent memory,
then between the poem of desire
and the poem of necessity
real loss is panting.
Prologues have been consumed.
They cannot always substitute the topic.
He must decide whether he can
hold on to this absolute idea
even if he has ceased to believe in its power.
It is a question of faith from now on.
Successive metamorphoses of paradise.
The eye tries to interpret the enigma of beauty
while Delos is slowly emerging on the horizon.
Summer feels like an eternity.
The poem begins to invent itself
at the moment when the man turns his face to the light.
(The moment when imagination
freed from the specific sensation of blazing light
vertically rises in the sky.)
Not one sail on the horizon
tearing the canvas apart.
The image of a tree
with its wind-swept boughs scavenging the ground
is not a part of the scenery today.
Yet, the old lady creeping uphill on her knees
tightly holding Her icon is.
The man is walking on the beach alone.
He is still touched by the melodious whisper of the waves,
the way the water is persistently lulling the rock to sleep.
Nature around him
(cedars, rotten fishing boats, shingles)
has a melancholic, unaffected brightness.
If he were to die at this moment
he would want to be here
in this place where he has been.
Even for a while.
~ Haris Vlavianós
A Lecture on Aphids
She plucks my sleeve.
“Young man,” she says, “you need to spray.
You have aphids on your roses.”
In a dark serge coat and a pill box hat
by god it’s my third grade Sunday school teacher,
shrunken but still stern, the town’s
most successful corporate attorney’s mother.
She doesn’t remember me. I holster
my secateurs, smile publicly,
and reply, “Ma’am,
did you know a female aphid is born
carrying fertile eggs? Come look.
There may be five or six generations
cheek by jowl on this “Peace” bud.
Don’t they remind you
crowding the deck of a tramp steamer?
Look through my hand lens—
they’re translucent. You can see their dark innards
like kidneys in aspic.
Yes, ma’am, they are full-time inebriates,
and unashamed of their nakedness.
But isn’t there something wild and uplifting
about their complete indifference to the human prospect?”
And then I do something wicked. “Ma’am,” I say,
“I love aphids!” And I squeeze
a few dozen from the nearest bud
and eat them.
After the old woman scuttles away
I feel ill
and sit down to consider
what comes next. You see,
as I had always imagined.
Even though rose wine is their only food,
~ Charles Goodrich
Music by Fleet Foxes, a new discovery, “Helplessness Blues”
“It is my heart that’s late, it is my song that’s flown.” ~ Stanley Kunitz, from “Touch Me”
I promise that I have not abandoned this blog. We’re in the crunch time with the bathroom renovation. It’s coming along well, but as it’s just the two of us, and I have to work, shall we say, not speedily, it’s taking an inordinate amount of time. The good thing is that not being here is really making me ache to get back to writing.
Thanks for sticking with me. Soon . . .
It must be that my early friendship with defeat Has given me affection for the month of August. The potato fields belong to early night.
So many times as a boy I sat in the dirt Among dry cornstalks that gave assurances Every hour that Francis has his ear to the night.
Columbus’s letters tell us that we will receive The gifts that mariners all receive at the end— Memories of gold and a grave in the sand.
The shadow of a friend’s hand gives us Promises similar to those we received from The light under the door as our mother came near.
Each of us is a Jacob weeping for Joseph. We are the sparrow that flies through the warrior’s Hall and back out into the falling snow.
I don’t know why these images should please me So much; an angel said: “In the last moment before night Brahms will show you how loyal the notes are.”
~ Robert Bly
Music by Johannes Brahms, Waltz in A Flat Major, Opus 39, #15, performed by pianist Pablo Cintron
“Once in a while it vanishes—in the sense that I become deaf to beauty for a week or two or three. This coming and going of the inner life—because this is what it is—is a curse and a blessing. I don’t need to explain why it’s a curse. A blessing because it brings about a movement, an energy which, when it peaks, creates a poem. Or a moment of happiness.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, from 2004 interview with Poets & Writers
Saturday afternoon. Cloudy and still relatively cool, 77 degrees.
As I was standing in the middle of the backyard at 6 a.m., several things occurred to me at once:
I only went to bed two hours ago
It’s very, very bright out here
Something, or a lot of somethings are biting my ankles
I really like the fact that the captain on “Grimm” speaks French
My French is dated as I still use the formal vous as opposed to the familiar tu
My brain is working at warp speed
Does this mean that I should forego sleep most of the time so that I can be ultra alert at odd hours?
Perhaps this lull in which I have been mired is finally receding, or perhaps the puppy’s internal alarm clock is going to be the death of me.
“Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating.” ~ Louis Aragon, from Paris Peasant
Yesterday, quite by accident, I came upon a singer/songwriter I absolutely love—Jimmy LaFave. Years ago, I heard the song “Never is a Moment” on a local radio station. I called the station to find out who the singer was, and the DJ identified LaFave. Of course, that was before YouTube and easy internet searches that allow you to plug in a few words from the lyrics, and presto! Song.
Anyway, I was never able to find a copy of the song . . . until yesterday, when I found it without looking for it. Serendipity. Anyway, as soon as the first few bars played, I was taken back to that day when I first heard it, and I have to say, it still moves me. And then after a little digging I came across another version of the song by Italian singer Zucchero Fornaciari, and I found that I love that version too. Good stuff.
So here’s to discoveries we weren’t looking for. Here’s to memories we had forgotten. Here’s to unpolished gems finding their way to the top of the pile. Here’s to my being way too excited over a song.
“All of us are trapped in our skins and drowning in gravity. Physics is unforgiving. Nature is predatory. We do not walk through a passive landscape.” ~ Richard Siken, in an interview with Legacy Russell
So here are some other random thoughts:
Last night I dreamed that I was again being bullied, this time by some women with whom my ex used to work at the medical school
In real life, they were a biting bunch of harpies, so why are they haunting my dreams
In real life, I was never the victim of bullying, a little name-calling,
I think I actually had these dreams this morning after I was finally able to go to sleep
That burst of energy to which I referred in section one? Gone, completely gone
I would kill for some Oreos
The crack in the bathroom floor tile has expanded. Not good, she remarked, apropos of nothing . . .
I always, always misspell apropos the first time that I type it
“That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.” ~ Joan Didion, fromSlouching Towards Bethlehem
I have eaten all of my Chimes Ginger Chews. Considering I had over a pound of them, that’s a lot of Chimes Ginger Chews. Hmm . . . can I make an entire post out of my love for Chimes Ginger Chews? Probably. It it something worth doing? Definitely not.
Other things . . .
I notice things like the expanding crack in the bathroom floor in the middle of the night
In so doing, I engage my mind in things about which I need to worry, thereby making peaceful sleep improbable
Hence, I dream of bullies
Instead of Oreos, I just ate two of my red bean Mochis, at 80 calories each, I suppose that’s not too awfully caloric, definitely less than a sleeve of O-r-e-os.
I happened to look at my reflection as I was walking past the bathroom mirror, and I noticed that my hair is as long as it was in high school, but not by choice
I’ve been debating whether to suck it up and try to go back to my former hairdresser or to take a chance on someone new
I’ve been debating this for well over a year, which is why my hair is way too long and unmanageable
By the time I make a decision, my hair may have reached my bum
“She did not wish to remember; it troubled her when people tried to disturb her loneliness; she wished to be alone. She wished for nothing else in the world.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from The Voyage Out
So in the wee hours of the morning I took a hot shower in an attempt to calm my body and perhaps wash away whatever was making me itch. It worked for a while, but I just realized that I’m scratching again. I don’t know if this is a nervous tic, a response to medication, or merely fatigue, but it’s annoying. I mean, I’m a picker (not of the nose), but of scabs and wounds. I do not allow my body to heal completely before I start to worry a wound, which is why the bottom of my left foot has yet to heal.
After the doctor excised the corn core, he said that the surrounding hardened tissue should resolve itself, and perhaps it would have if I had left it alone, but I didn’t, and I mention this only because as I was walking back from the kitchen, I hit my foot on something, and now I am blinking back involuntary tears of pain.
In the 90’s when I agreed to be a test patient for a subcutaneous birth control system called Norplant, I would find myself playing with the tiny silicon capsules that lay beneath my skin. I don’t believe they still offer this form of birth control because so many women were affected adversely, but it was a slow-release medication, and the intent was that you wouldn’t have to think about birth control for the entire time Norplant was in your body.
I had all kinds of horrible side effects and had to have the system removed, but while it was there, it presented me with a unique toy: something that felt like toothpicks beneath my skin.
Why do I tell you this? I have no idea. I only know that my foot is throbbing, and my back is itching just beyond my reach, and I have finally reached the absolute nadir of my adrenaline.
More later. Peace.
To appease my heightened senses, I have chosen images by French Fauvist André Derain (1880-1954).