” . . . and all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Late Summer Sky, Kentucky (FCC)

“I’m walking through goldenrod
in new shoes, shoes I got for a song—
like the one I’m singing now
that pleases the cicadas, the one
that would make Schubert cry.
And I love the way the ash
is the first tree always
to turn” ~ Keith Ratzlaff, from “Yellow Landscape”

Monday afternoon, cloudy and warm, 86 degrees.

So the forecast was wrong, of course. More warm weather in store, but fall is definitely looming. The Gold Finches are buzzing the late summer thistles, and the air is taking on that clear expectancy—not the stillness of a hot summer afternoon, but hesitant, as if awaiting  autumn’s redolent aspect. Right after I mentioned how certain trees are already losing their leaves, I came across Keith Ratzlaff’s poem that mentions ash trees losing their leaves first. Serendipitous.

Last night I dreamed about Eamonn; he had just broken up with someone he had been dating, and she was a real piece of work. She sent someone to kill me with a knife. My dreams can be truly frightening at times. Anyway I chose today’s lovely song to go with today’s poem, which reminds me so much of my father, and it is bittersweet to think of him naked to the waist in his backyard on a late summer afternoon, taking a bite out of something he has just picked from his garden. God I miss him so very, very much.

Late Summer Color, Sierra Nevada (FCC)

Corey is cutting down trees in preparation for cold weather so that we don’t run out of wood this winter. Last year we were able to rely on Dallas to supplement what we had. This year that won’t be an option, so he’s getting ready. It’s odd to think of all of the small ways in which we depended upon Dallas and he on us, and now he’s gone. I still haven’t grieved for him. There has been no sense of closure, and I find myself angry at people I don’t even know, his kids, but I also do not know the circumstances of their estrangement. I don’t kid myself that Dallas was innocent, as I knew him too well to think that.

Nevertheless, I am still angry, and things feel incomplete, a caesura in time, if you will.

“There was a time, usually late in August, when summer struck the trees with dazzling power and they were rich with leaves but then became, suddenly one day, strangely still, as if in expectation and at that moment aware. They knew. Everything knew, the beetles, the frogs, the crows solemnly walking across the lawn. The sun was at its zenith and embraced the world, but it was ending, all that one loved was at risk.” ~ James Salter, from All That Is

Odd little thing around the homestead: We have swarms of flies that we can’t seem to get rid of; they are everywhere, every room, and not just a few. There are too many to count. Corey has put up fly strips (which I really hate, but they work), and they are covered in dead flies within hours. It’s very strange. It’s as if there are unseen carcasses hanging around the house, attracting these swarms, and you might assume that the house is filthy with waste and masses of trash, but I assure you that it is not.

Late Begonias and Fallen Leaves (FCC)

The flies buzz me as I sit typing; they buzz me as I try to sleep. It’s making me crazy. I really, really hate flies. They are nasty creatures, living on manure and rotting flesh. I have a fly swatter in the bathroom, and I swipe at them each time I go in there, even to wash my hands. The dogs are afraid to follow me into the bathroom now, which bothers them as they think that I may go in and disappear forever. I wonder if flies are just a common pest around these parts, as the saying goes, just another part of living in the country with which I am still unfamiliar.

I remember that last summer we had masses of ladybugs, and I worried about the dogs then as ladybugs can infest the roof of a dog’s mouth, and it’s something to be wary of, but that never happened. So are the swarms of flies like the swarms of ladybugs? Corey did a bit of reading, and there is something that can be added to the big bug zapper that hangs outside; I wonder if it’s worth spending the extra cash to get something like that.

“And I’m singing
because who else but a dog
could be so happy at finding me here?
And I’m singing because yesterday
I needed something to hold,
and he laid his gold head in my hands.” ~ Keith Ratzlaff, from “Yellow Landscape”

Other strange things: I remember saying to Corey months ago before Dallas kidnapped him for stud that Napoleon was such a spoiled horse that I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to come inside. Well . . . he did. The other day I walked into the living room holding my lunch on a plate, and Napoleon saw me and proceeded to walk through the front door and stand expectantly in the living room. It was crazy—a horse in the house? Really? Who has such things happen?

Late Summer Globe Thistles with Bees, Chesterfield, England UK (FCC)

We do, obviously.

Corey backed him out and put up the gate that we use to keep dogs and goats outside, and the irony is that Napoleon could step over the gate or knock it down quite easily, but it was enough to stop him. So now he stands outside the door and pokes his head inside as if to say, “where’s my treat?”

I have now managed to spoil dogs, cats, goats, a bee, and now a horse. I regret nothing.

“The other day the ash tree lost its leaves in a single afternoon.” ~ Keith Ratzlaff, from “Creation Story”

I searched high and low for the source of the Oscar Wilde quote in the header, but alas, my search was in vain. I don’t believe that it comes from De Profundis or Dorian Gray; I rather think that it’s from one of his poems, but I don’t know which one. Anyone out there have a clue?

Late Summer Swallowtail (FCC)

Speaking of Oscar Wilde, I really liked the depiction of Dorian Gray in the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, as depicted by Reeve Carney. He was beautiful and thoroughly charming but also a bit scary, just as Wilde depicted him. I happen to think that the series was well done and ended too soon after only three seasons. The show’s creator, John Logan felt that the series should end with the death of Vanessa Ives, portrayed by the wonderful Eva Green. I’ve always loved her; she’s so intense looking, which is what made her perfectly cast for that particular series. I also liked her in the 2011 series Camelot as Morgana, but that one only lasted one season.

Bit of trivia for you: Josh Hartnett from Penny Dreadful has two children with Tamsin Egerton, who played Guinevere in Camelot.

On that note, I think that I’ll close for now. More later. Peace.


Music by Foo Fighters, “Home”


Green Pear Tree in September

On a hill overlooking the Rock River
my father’s pear tree shimmers,
in perfect peace,
covered with hundreds of ripe pears
with pert tops, plump bottoms,
and long curved leaves.
Until the green-haloed tree
rose up and sang hello,
I had forgotten. . .
He planted it twelve years ago,
when he was seventy-three,
so that in September
he could stroll down
with the sound of the crickets
rising and falling around him,
and stand, naked to the waist,
slightly bent, sucking juice
from a ripe pear.

~ Freya Manfred (found on Poetry Foundation)

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“When I stand upright in the wind, | My bones turn to dark emeralds.” ~ James Wright, from “The Jewel”

American Poet James Wright

Two for Tuesday: James Wright

Tuesday afternoon, cloudy and cool, 71 degrees.

It’s starting to feel like fall, which is a bit unnerving. It seems that the seasons change rather quickly here on the ridge. I mentioned this a few months ago when Corey and I were wondering why we weren’t seeing all of the green of spring, and then less than a week later, we were surrounded by green: the trees were covered in leaves, and buds were blooming everywhere you looked. Now, we’re already seeing the leaves turn on certain trees, the birches, I think.

Once again, I wish that I had some extra cash so that I could work on refinishing cabinets and furniture, but of course, there is none of that, at least not yet. I wish that my other mother were still around as I desperately need to cover the couch in a fabric that is dog and goat proof, if such a thing exists. She was so good at that.

I had one of those dreams last night in which I was back at the middle school. I don’t know why I continue to dream about that place and the people in it. The kids I taught would all be grown with their own kids, or in jail, or dead. I know that sounds like a horrible thing to opine, but truly, I have no doubts that some of those kids are in jail, one in particular who scared the crap out of me, and he was only 12.

Anyway, I was back there looking for a book that I had donated by mistake. Weird, huh?

Today’s Two for Tuesday features works by Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet James Wright (December 13, 1927March 25, 1980), who was phenomenal; he could say so much about loneliness and isolation in very few words, and he was masterful in closing a poem. Wright, who was born in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio, suffered from alcoholism and manic depression; he died as a result of tongue cancer.

Mari introduced me to Wright years ago, and “Lying in a Hammock” (below) remains one of my favorites and is surpassed in my mind only by “A Blessing.” I can relate deeply to the last line of “Hammock.” His posthumous book of collected works, Above the River (1992) is a prized possession that, thankfully, never made it into storage but always had a reserved spot on my desk. I remember exactly where I bought it: in a bookstore in Charlottesville, VA after having lunch; Corey, the boys, and I were in the mountains for a fall hike. When I finally find the box in which it was packed, it will be like Christmas all over again.

To see a good biography, go here or here. In the summer 1975 issue, he was featured in The Paris Review‘s “Art of Poetry (No. 19), in which Wright declared that “poetry can keep life itself alive.”


Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

Northern Pike

All right. Try this,
Then. Every body
I know and care for,
And every body
Else is going
To die in a loneliness
I can’t imagine and a pain
I don’t know. We had
To go on living. We
Untangled the net, we slit
The body of this fish
Open from the hinge of the tail
To a place beneath the chin
I wish I could sing of.
I would just as soon we let
The living go on living.
An old poet whom we believe in
Said the same thing, and so
We paused among the dark cattails and prayed
For the muskrats,
For the ripples below their tails,
For the little movements that we knew the crawdads were making
under water,
For the right-hand wrist of my cousin who is a policeman.
We prayed for the game warden’s blindness.
We prayed for the road home.
We ate the fish.
There must be something very beautiful in my body,
I am so happy.


Laura Marling, “What He Wrote”

“. . . life is always more complicated than the headlines allow; poetry comes in when the news is not enough.” ~ Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong aged two with his mother and aunt at Philippines refugee camp

“How I wanted to be that sky — to hold every flying & falling at once.” ~ Ocean Vuong, from “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous”
Sunday afternoon, partly cloudy, 85 degrees.

It’s a lazy kind of day, but when isn’t it? I’m currently surrounded by sleeping dogs, and both horses are waiting by the front door for treats. Last night in one of my dreams the front porch was wondrously clean, something that isn’t going to happen until the pasture fence is finished. The night before I had couple of dreams in which I was hiding from a bear, same bear in both dreams, but hiding with different people in each. Weird.

Portrait of Ocean Vuong in the playground behind the house where he grew up in Glastonbury, Connecticut on April, 16, 2019 by Mengwen Cao

Today I’m featuring a SoundCloud from poet/writer Ocean Vuong. Vuong was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1988; two years later he immigrated to Hartford, CT with six relatives after spending a year in a Philippine refugee camp. Vuong, the first person in his family to read, currently teaches in the M.F.A. program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The Guardian ran a detailed article on Vuong and his work in 2017.

Vuong’s debut book of poetry, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, won the coveted T. S. Eliot prize in 2017; he is only the second debut poet to win the T. S. Eliot prize (Sarah Howe was the first in 2016). The poems in this book deal with the war and the fall of Saigon with a mixture of myth and harsh reality.

Vuong’s first novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin Press 2019), was an instant New York Times bestseller, and has been hailed as, “a book of sustained beauty and lyricism, earnest and relentless, a series of high notes that trembles exquisitely almost without break” (Los Angeles Times). The book’s title comes from a poem included in Night Sky, a section of which I’m including here:

In the life before this one, you could tell
two people were in love
because when they drove the pickup
over the bridge, their wings
would grow back just in time.

Some days I am still inside the pickup.
Some days I keep waiting.

~ from “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous”

I still remember the first time that I came across a snippet from one of Vuong’s poems—I was immediately mesmerized and spent hours searching for his poems on the web and then added his book to my wish list. His is the kind of writing to which people can only aspire. It is absolutely luminous.

(Today is the birthday of English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (August 4, 1792– July 8, 1822)

Telemachus

Like any good son, I pull my father out
of the water, drag him by his hair

through white sand, his knuckles carving a trail
the waves rush in to erase. Because the city

beyond the shore is no longer
where we left it. Because the bombed

cathedral is now a cathedral
of trees. I kneel beside him to show how far

I might sink. Do you know who I am,
Ba? But the answer never comes. The answer

is the bullet hole in his back, brimming
with seawater. He is so still I think

he could be anyone’s father, found
the way a green bottle might appear

at a boy’s feet containing a year
he has never touched. I touch

his ears. No use. I turn him
over. To face it. The cathedral

in his sea-black eyes. The face
not mine – but one I will wear

to kiss all my lovers good-night:
the way I seal my father’s lips

with my own & begin
the faithful work of drowning.

(Found on Foward Arts Foundation)


Music by Jasmine Thompson, “Mad World” (one of my favorite songs)

Not quite wordless Wednesday . . .

Wednesday morning, cloudy, not as hot today, 79 degrees.

In my dream last night, Brett was on my mom’s front porch, and Dom was at the edge of the yard. They were there to tell me that they were going to have a baby. My mother was upset. I was happy. Brett came inside, and we talked. That’s all that I remember.

Really missing the ocean today . . .


Music by Fleet Foxes, “Grown Ocean”

 

“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.” ~ Werner Herzog

Dreamscapes: Pop-up art installation in Salt Lake City, Utah (sponsored by the Utah Arts Alliance)

“It was that sort of sleep in which you wake every hour and think to yourself that you have not been sleeping at all; you can remember dreams that are like reflections, daytime thinking slightly warped.” ~ Kim Stanley Robinson, from Icehenge

Monday afternoon, partly cloudy and slightly cooler, 83 degrees.

Last night’s dream:

Lots of numbers and colors. Five people on a team, myself, the leader, and three other men. The three men married, one for 36 years. A woman with a scar down the back of her head. Five jewels: emerald, diamond, ruby, garnet and topaz. Three witches. One feather. Wind blowing in two different directions, one side red, one side green. Three SUVs, one police car. Three bicycles. A mall, meeting four other women at 7:30. Makeup from three stores. A purple file folder on sale for $4.07.  Half a xanax and $100 someone owed me. Fried green beans, a deli pickle served on a bed of sprouts. Five pans of food on a circular stove. One glass of bourbon. A spiral staircase. Eamonn as a toddler reaching for the five pans of food.

Woke up to the sound of barking. Exhausted.

Corey dreams I was married to a man named Andrew . . .


Music by Dustin Kensrue, “This Good Night is Still Everywhere”

“Sometimes we suffer too much reality in the space of a single night.” ~ Alejandra Piznarik, from “Sex, Night”

Image from Elephant’s Dream (cc)*

” . . .they would walk home in
the evenings when the light was soft, anything bad sliding
off them, and they would feel owned, completely owned,
in a good way, by the air, which would touch them constantly,
sometimes urgently, sometimes lightly, just to let them know
it was there, and they would think maybe this is what being
alive is” ~ Emily Berry, from “No Name”

Saturday afternoon, cloudy, 74 degrees.

I think that today would be a good day for a walk with the dogs mostly because I was walking everywhere in my dreams last night. I frequently walk in my dreams—to my imaginary jobs, to school, to the doctor’s office—it’s weird. Last night I was walking home (in Norfolk) down Shore Drive, which is definitely not a street for pedestrians. I was walking when I realized that it was getting dark, and there was no one around. I started to pick up my pace until I was running, but then I found myself running on all fours, but it felt completely natural, and I was able to run quickly, like some kind of animal.

I’ve had the being on all fours dreams before, but last night’s was one of the first times in which I felt myself moving. I’ve dreamt that I’ve been walking to and from a primary school in which I was teaching, but my walk takes me through a sketchy part of town, and I have to keep looking down alleys. Those are always strange as I’ve never really lived anywhere that had a lot of alleys.

I remember that in part of last night’s dream I was trying to remember if I had ever gone walking completely naked, and my dream mind remembered a time in which I went to school completely naked. I know—the naked dreams are all about being vulnerable—but in this particular naked dream I didn’t feel at all vulnerable, just incredibly free. I sent to school (college), but no one was especially surprised or concerned, and I felt very at home in my naked body. Go figure that one out because I’ve never been able to translate that one.

“Night opens itself only once. It’s enough . . . And I am well aware what night is made of.” ~ Alejandra Piznarik, from “Sex, Night”

Lately my dad has been making many appearances in my dreams. Last night he was bailing some of us out of jail (unsure as to who exactly was there), and it cost him $1500, and I was worried about how I would ever be able to pay him back. Funnily enough, though, he wasn’t mad; he was smiling. If you ever met my dad  you would know that he was not a big smiler, which is probably where my antipathy towards smiling comes from.

But last night he was smiling, and it unnerved the me in the dream because I couldn’t quite figure out if it was a happy smile or a mad smile, if that makes sense. I have a vague memory of him appearing in my dreams the night before last as well, but now I cannot quite grab the thread of the dream, even though I awoke from it thinking that it was so powerful that I would definitely remember everything, but of course, I cannot. The only part that I can remember is that I was in the military, which is very, very weird.

For some strange reason, Brad Pitt was in part of my dream: I was sitting across from him in some kind of restaurant, and he was telling me why his marriage failed, and it was the most natural scenario, which it definitely would not be. I was also back at my old pain management doctor’s office so that I could get trigger point injections, but instead of the neurologist, it was another doctor that I saw for a while before him, and I was very confused. Oh, and Jennifer Aniston made an appearance as well.

I don’t have many celebrity dreams, and if any do appear, it’s not usually in a casual setting, but last night, this dream seemed to be populated with famous people. In another part I was in a movie theater, and I was watching a documentary. The strangest part was that I knew that the person sitting next to me was not who he claimed to be, and I knew that the scene involving the primates (?) would reveal who he really was, and I knew that Brad Pitt would be angry at the charade.

When the truth was revealed on the screen, a loud argument erupted, and we were all asked to leave the theater, which meant going up an aisle filled with chaise lounges because those are always in theaters .  . .The whole sequence was truly bizarre.

“. . . each of us
joins night’s ongoing story” ~ Li-Young Lee, from “Black Petal”

Sorry to go on so much about my dreams, but I always find them fascinating. I’ve never actually bothered to try that whole lucid dreaming thing, mostly because my dreams are already to full. I’ve found over the years that not everyone dreams like this, though, which is definitely a shame for those people because dreams that are so vivid are actually pretty cool, that is, until they aren’t, like the ones in which I awake screaming or yelling or crying.

I have wondered if my vivid dreaming is part of what makes my sleep so fractured. Apparently, not everyone awakens two to three times a night. That whole seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep only happened in my youth. Once I got married (the first time) and began to worry about adult problems like bills and rent and everything else, my ability to sleep uninterrupted ceased, and then with the birth of babies, sleep at night became even more fractured.

I suppose the dogs replaced the children at some point because I now awaken instantly when I sense a dog stirring and moving towards the front door. When my children were babies, the same thing would happen: Something in me would cause me to awaken instantly when a baby or child stirred, even once they were in their own rooms. Maybe that’s just an innate mother thing because I did it with Olivia as well.

“Tell me what you feel in your room when the full moon is shining in upon you and your lamp is dying out, and I will tell you how old you are, and I shall know if you are happy.” ~ Henri Frédéric Amiel

In other news . . .

I’ve been reading the Mueller report because, well, democracy you know. Amazingly, it’s  not filled with a lot of legalese, making it fairly easy to go through, but I’ve been taking my time, going back and forth so that I don’t end up giving myself an aneurysm from being so angry.

Trust me. It’s better this way, well, better for my blood pressure, plus, I really don’t need yet another thing to keep me from being able to sleep. I’m really trying not to allow the state of the union to move to the top of my worry list.

I’d really like to print the report, but I think that I’ll wait until we see an unredacted version. Overall, though, I really want to hear from Mueller himself. His letters to and interactions with the pseudo attorney general only confirmed my initial suspicions about the entire Mueller investigation and the blatant bullshit of the administration’s declaration of total exoneration.

I’m so tired of all of this, the constant breaking news because there’s never a day in which something else stupid or illegal or evil happens. How did our country get to this point? But more importantly, why aren’t more people upset? I truly don’t understand. No, not everyone out there gives a whit about politics, but this is our entire system of government, people. This is our Constitution being blatantly ignored, and need I remind everyone that democracies die in countries all of the time, and the U.S. is not immune, no matter how superior we all feel to the rest of the world.

“We heard of nights lit
with lightning bugs and cigarettes. With rumflame
and tonguefire. We needed none of it. The nights were
black puzzleboxes and we solved them. It was easy—
in the darkness, our minds sparked like flint.” ~ Catherine Pierce, from “The Geek Girls”

And now for something completely different . . . (I really miss Monty Python).

Last night Bill Maher made a Carpenters’ reference, and very few people in the audience got it. As the Dump would say, “sad.” You know that you are aging when you make cultural references that no one else in the room understand and/or appreciates.

Anyway . . . Corey bought me a small bottle of Maker’s Mark a few weeks ago, and I’ve been parceling it out like it’s gold, which it is actually akin to, considering the cost. I’ve just been having a weird craving for bourbon the last few months; it’s especially weird as I rarely drink any more, probably more as a reaction to being around a drunken Dallas.

Who knows. Certainly not I. But there really was a point to this: Even though the driveway is still in precarious shape because of the section that washed out, Corey met Dallas coming up the driveway yesterday pulling the horse trailer with the tractor. He (Dallas, not Corey) was sloppy drunk and talking about loading Sassy in the trailer and what he’d do to her if she wouldn’t get inside. Corey reminded him that the driveway was damaged, and actually convinced Dallas to turn around.

There was a lot more to the episode, but I just don’t want to get into it. Suffice it to say that Corey locked on of the gates on the driveway, which is good as Dallas actually came back up the drive after Corey left, and if Dallas had made it all the way here and tried to scare Sassy into the trailer, I’m really not sure how I would have reacted. As it was, Corey’s retelling of everything left me shaken. I’m really beginning to hate a lot of what is going on around here, the constant threats of lawsuits, and jail and violence, even though we’re not actually in the midst of it. But we’re close enough that it’s affecting us.

I had wanted to get away from people, away from neighbors, but I suppose you truly cannot get away from such things unless you are physically unreachable. I mean, we’re pretty isolated on our property, but these people can still reach us. Several years ago I wrote a post about hermits and hermitages; I remember it fondly. The irony is that when Corey first met Dallas, we thought that it was so great to have a contact who knew everyone and knew a lot about our property. That boon has become my bane.

Ah me . . . I just need to spend more time writing and practicing my piano, more said than done.

More later. Peace.

*All images are taken from the short movie Elephant’s Dream, which is the world’s first open movie, made entirely using open source graphics software and presented under a Creative Commons license. To see more images or to watch the movie, go to Blender Foundation | www.blender.org

Music by Disturbed (yes, again), “Sound of Silence”


Falling Water (section one)

I drove to Oak Park, took two tours,
And looked at some of the houses.
I took the long way back along the lake.
The place that I came home to—a cavernous
Apartment on the East Side of Milwaukee—
Seems basically a part of that tradition,
With the same admixture of expansion and restraint:
The space takes off, yet leaves behind a nagging
Feeling of confinement, with the disconcerting sense
That while the superficial conflicts got resolved,
The underlying tensions brought to equilibrium,
It isn’t yet a place in which I feel that I can live.
Imagine someone reading. Contemplate a man
Oblivious to his settings, and then a distant person
Standing in an ordinary room, hemmed in by limitations,
Yet possessed by the illusion of an individual life
That blooms within its own mysterious enclosure,
In a solitary space in which the soul can breathe
And where the heart can stay—not by discovering it,
But by creating it, by giving it a self-sustaining
Atmosphere of depth, both in the architecture,
And in the unconstructed life that it contains.
In a late and very brief remark, Freud speculates
That space is the projection of a “psychic apparatus”
Which remains almost entirely oblivious to itself;
And Wright extols “that primitive sense of shelter”
Which can turn a house into a refuge from despair.
I wish that time could bring the future back again
And let me see things as they used to seem to me
Before I found myself alone, in an emancipated state—
Alone and free and filled with cares about tomorrow.
There used to be a logic in the way time passed
That made it flow directly towards an underlying space
Where all the minor, individual lives converged.
The moments borrowed their perceptions from the past
And bathed the future in a soft, familiar light
I remembered from home, and which has faded.
And the voices get supplanted by the rain,
The nights seem colder, and the angel in the mind
That used to sing to me beneath the wide suburban sky
Turns into dreamwork and dissolves into the air,
While in its place a kind of monument appears,
Magnificent in isolation, compromised by proximity
And standing in a small and singular expanse—
As though the years had been a pretext for reflection,
And my life had been a phase of disenchantment—
As the faces that I cherished gradually withdraw,
The reassuring settings slowly melt away,
And what remains is just a sense of getting older.
In a variation of the parable, the pure of heart
Descend into a kingdom that they never wanted
And refused to see. The homely notions of the good,
The quaint ideas of perfection swept away like
Adolescent fictions as the real forms of life
Deteriorate with manically increasing speed,
The kind man wakes into a quiet dream of shelter,
And the serenity it brings—not in reflection,
But in the paralyzing fear of being mistaken,
Of losing everything, of acquiescing in the
Obvious approach (the house shaped like a box;
The life that can’t accommodate another’s)—
As the heart shrinks down to tiny, local things.

~ John Koethe (rest of the poem here)

“. . . her verse suggests a mind in perpetual meditation, deliberating in a state of waking dream” ~ Rita Signorelli-Pappas

W. Balls, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (1860, oil on canvas)

Two for Tuesday: Two sections from Louise Glück’s poem “Marathon”

Tuesday afternoon, cloudy and temperate, 63 degrees.

So for a few hours today I thought that it was Monday, and I was going to write a regular post, and then I looked at the weather and realized that nope . . . it was Tuesday. Honestly, I’m no longer even surprised when this happens.

My back was better yesterday, but then a migraine hit, hard, and then it came roaring back during the night. However, I was able to get back to sleep this morning, and I managed to get a few good hours. That being said, the back situation is bad again—t’s just more of that vicious cycle that is my body’s daily existence.

Whatever.

As you know, I’m a huge lover of Louise Glück’s poems. Today I’m featuring two sections of her longer poem “Marathon,” which appears in The Triumph of Achilles (1985); the 26 poems in this book are are arranged in three parts, of which “Marathon” is the center; this poem contains nine sections.

Although this poem traces a relationship, I have chosen these two particular sections because of the imagery that I find so relatable. In particular, I feel as if I’ve had a version of the dream that she recounts in section 6, “The Beginning.” I cannot begin to count the number of times in which I’ve dreamed that I was in a different city in which I am lost and looking for something. This, precisely, is why I have such an affinity for Glück’s work.

Enjoy.

More later. Peace.


Marathon

5. Night Song

Look up into the light of the lantern.
Don’t you see? The calm of darkness
is the horror of Heaven.

We’ve been apart too long, too painfully separated.
How can you bear to dream,
to give up watching? I think you must be dreaming.
your face is full of mild expectancy.

I need to wake you, to remind you that there isn’t a future.
That’s why we’re free. And now some weakness in me
has been cured forever, so I’m not compelled
to close my eyes, to go back to rectify—

The beach is still; the sea, cleansed of its superfluous life,
opaque, rocklike. In mounds in vegetal clusters,
seabirds sleep on the jetty. Terns, assassins—

You’re tired; I can see that.
We’re both tired, we have acted in a great drama.
Even our hands our cold, that were like kindling.
Our clothes are scattered on the sand; strangely enough,
they never turned to ashes.

I have to tell you what I’ve learned, that I know now
what happens to the dreamers.
They don’t feel it when they change. One day
they wake, they dress, they are old.

Tonight I’m not afraid
to feel the revolutions. How can you want sleep
when passion gives you that peace?
You’re like me tonight, one of the lucky ones.
You’ll get what you want. You’ll get your oblivion.

6. The Beginning

I had come to a strange city, without belongings:
in the dream, it was your city, I was looking for you.
Then I was lost, on a dark street lined with fruit stands.

There was only fruit: blood oranges.
The markets made displays of them beautiful displays—
how else could they compete? And each arrangement had, at its center,
one fruit, cut open.

Then I was on a boulevard, in brilliant sunlight.
I was running; it was easy to run, since I had nothing.
In the distance, I could see your house; a woman knelt in the yard.
There were roses everywhere; in waves, they climbed the high trellis.

Then what began as love for you
became a hunger for structure: I could hear
the woman call to me in common kindness, knowing
I wouldn’t ask for you anymore—

So it was settled: I could have a childhood there.
Which came to mean being always alone.


Music by Manchester Orchestra, “The Silence”