“. . . we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never looking inside.” ~ John Green, from Paper Towns


“I am not what you see.
I am what time and effort and interaction slowly unveil.” ~ Richelle E. Goodrich, from Slaying Dragons

Thursday afternoon, sunny and beautiful, 74 degrees.

I thought that today’s post should be a Throwback Thursday, as in, do one of those get to know me surveys. I’ve taken one that I found somewhere years ago and  made a few changes. Let me know if you like any questions/answers in particular. I’d love to know some of your responses to any of these questions if you feel like sharing.

Enjoy!


  1. How many pets do you own?
    Such a subjective question. Are horses pets? Goats? Currently, 5 dogs, 2 cats, 2 goats, 2 horses, and there’s a bee that finds me fascinating.
  2. What’s your least favorite season? Favorite season?
    Probably winter, unless it snows. I love snow, but I don’t like to be cold. My favorite season is autumn. February is my worst month.
  3. Most embarrassing moment?
    That time in junior high when I snorted and snot came out of my nose. I wanted to melt into the floor. Why do I still remember that?
  4. Do you believe in reincarnation?
    Yes. I do think we’ve all lived past lives. I’m not certain that I believe in the idea that we keep coming back until we get everything right. I also don’t believe that we’ve all been kings and queens and generals. But I do think that I was a torch singer in a dark bar. Don’t ask me why because I have no explanation.
  5. What do you do to relax at the end of a stressful day?
    Take a long, hot bath with bath salts, staying until the water is cool.
  6. Are you politically active or apathetic?
    Is yelling at the television being politically active? Actually, I have big plans to volunteer in the 2020 election, so yeah, active.
  7. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
    Introvert. I don’t like people, but I love my few friends and family. When I used to go to parties, once upon a time, I would find one person to talk to until I felt comfortable enough to walk around, which didn’t always happen. The odd thing is that I used to be very friendly and chatty and had tons of friends and acquaintances. Perhaps it’s an age thing.
  8. Do you believe in ghosts?
    Yes, I do. I’ve actually had a few weird experiences, but I have no idea if they were paranormal. One in particular involved my aunt’s dog who sat staring and growling at something that I couldn’t see in the corner of the den. This went on for several minutes, and the hairs on his back were raised. Pretty freaky.
  9. What is your favorite thing to drink during the day? In the evenings?
    I try to drink a lot of flavored soda water during the day to make sure that i get my water intake. I gave up Pepsi years ago, but once in a while a really have to have some kind of cola. In the evenings, I have to have my peppermint tea, and once in a while I’ll have wine or cider.
  10. Do you play any instruments?
    I trained as a classical pianist for 14 years. At one time, I really wanted to go to the Boston Conservatory of Music. I also worked on my voice for a few years and had a secret dream of running away and trying to make it on Broadway. Neither thing happened, obviously.
  11. Which do you prefer: numbers or words?
    I love the exactness of numbers, their purity, and I can still do math in my head, but words are my life. Words are life itself. Words encompass every love, every hate, every boon and every misfortune. Without words, we are nothing but empty vessels.
  12. Are you scared of anything?
    I’m terrified of centipedes. Spiders don’t bother me, but centipedes make me shriek out loud. And snakes. How could I forget snakes. Just . . . no . . .
  13. Do you believe in aliens?
    How could I not? With the countless galaxies out there containing countless systems, it would be incredibly arrogant of us to believe that we are the only sentient beings in existence.
  14. What is something you hate?
    I hate racism, fascism, sexism. I cannot abide people who think that they are the only ones who have the right to something based on the color of their skin or their gender or their politics or their religion. There is far too much diversity in this world to be so myopic. In discounting others simply because of their beliefs or their physiology or their spirituality, we only cheat ourselves.
  15. What is something you have given a lot of thought to lately?
    The current state of our democracy. I fear what is happening to this country and its people. Xenophobia is rampant. Our current administration pays no attention to the Constitution or the laws that have ruled this country effectively since its inception. No one is above the law. No one should believe he or she is above the law. Nationalism as it is currently being touted is not synonymous with patriotism, and too fee people realize that.
  16. What do you like to read?
    Depends. I love poetry and history, but I also love science fiction and fantasy. I don’t really believe in the genre Young Adult because, well, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and countless others. I’m not a big romance person, but I have read all of the Outlander books. I love mysteries, especially British ones, and I also have rekindled my love for Stephen King, who I gave up after Pet Cemetery because it scared me so much. I’ve also read most of the Walking Dead graphic novels, and I love Neil Gaiman. So I’m all over the place. What I love most is good, engaging writing of any kind. The loss of most of my library a few years ago still really pains me.
  17. Are you currently where you thought you’d be ten years ago?
    Absolutely not. I never thought that my dream of living in the mountains away from most other people would ever become a reality.
  18. Which do you prefer: pie or cake?
    Ooh, this is hard. I love sugar, chocolate, whipped cream . . . but if I had to choose, and I can’t choose Tiramisu, I’d say pie. I still really miss my other mother’s homemade apple pie. It was the best, ever, and I’ve never been able to duplicate it.
  19. Do you have any tattoos? Do you want more?
    Yes, one. I’ve been wanting a few more for several years (a tree, a bird, some words), but I could never justify the expense.
  20. What are you looking forward to?
    In the short term, walking around the property, exploring, finding new trails. In the long term, fixing up the house and doing some major landscaping. In my life, finally finishing and submitting a manuscript, for god’s sake.
  21. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
    This one is hard . . . Aside from where I am right now, I’d love to live on an island or maybe some place like Costa Rica. But I’ve also always wanted to live somewhere in the UK, like Ireland, Wales, or Scotland. That’s been a dream for as long as the mountains.
  22. Are you stronger mentally or physically?
    Um . . . neither? I mean, my physicality is fine, not incredibly strong but not incapacitated. My mind, I suppose, is strong in that I’ve survived some really horrible things, but at the same time, it is fragile. Like I said, this is a really hard one.
  23. Who are you missing right now?
    Caitlin. Brett. My mom. My other mother. My dad. Olivia. Alexis. Eamonn . . . in no particular order. I miss all of them every single second of every single day. I also miss my fluffy boy Shakes.
  24. Do you think you’re a good person?
    I hope so. I try to be. I try very hard to be the kind of person I told my children they should be: honest, honorable, kind, loving. If we cannot strive for this, then what else is there?
  25. Current favorite television show or movie?
    A tie between “The Magicians” and “Game of Thrones.” Although, I have to say that the season finale of “The Magicians” broke my heart so much that I’m still not over it. Quentin . . . Also, I still really love “The Walking Dead.” I miss “Orphan Black.” That was a great show.
  26. Favorite place to go when you are upset?
    Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk. I really miss it. In the past I would drive here whenever I was upset and just drive slowly down the lanes, taking in the incredible lonely beauty.
  27. Do you have any phobias?
    I’m probably a borderline agoraphobic as I really don’t like to leave home. I’ve been this way for quite a while. It takes a lot for anyone to get me to go somewhere. But I’m definitely claustrophobic. I panic in crowds, and cannot stay in a full elevator.
  28. Do you have any hobbies?
    Aside from writing and photography, I used to make journals, collecting images and then pasting them in blank books. I really enjoyed that. This was before the big scrapbook craze, and my therapist told me that I should try to find a way to make money with my books. I told here that I didn’t think that anyone would be interested . . . Wrong again on that one. I also really love karaoke but haven’t been in years.
  29. What is your favorite genre of music?
    Hmm . . . really depends on my mood and/or the circumstance: I love classical music when I play the piano. I love listening to the blues when I’m writing. I love classic rock or reggae on road trips. I love sad country love songs when I’m depressed. I love opera on Sunday afternoon. I love soundtracks when I feel like singing.
  30. Name one thing you wish you could change about your life right now.
    I really, really wish that we could finish getting everything painted and unpacked. The disarray is really getting to me, but I hate to push because Corey has so much to take care of, and there is only so much that my back will allow. I also really wish that I could get back into my writing groove completely; I mean, into a groove in which the words just flow, and I don’t have to think about them so much. And finally, I really, really wish that I would stop selling myself short and just send out my work already. Time is slipping away, and no one is going to do it for me; are they?

That’s all folks!

More later. Peace.


Music by Boygenius, “Souvenir”

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“The scent of moist dirt and fresh growth washes over me, watery, slippery, with an acid taste to it like the bark of a tree. It smells like youth; it smells like heartbreak.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from The Blind Assassin

 


“there were times when I could believe
we were the children of stars
and our words were made of the same
dust that flames in space,
times when I could feel in the lightness of breath
the weight of a whole day
come to rest.” ~ Mark Strand, from “For Jessica, My Daughter” 

Saturday afternoon, sunny and warm, 69 degrees.

Too nice to concentrate on my words today, so I’m offering some new pictures of the animals.

Everyone was outside in the bright sunshine as Corey did more work on the pasture fence. We’re trying to let Max and Ruby wander around like the dogs, and so far, they stay close; although, they are just as mischievous as the puppies: Ruby jumped inside Corey’s truck, but I couldn’t get a good picture of that particular moment; then both goats figured out how to get inside the front door because, yep, that’s what goats do.

Ruby made a beeline for the horses’ apple treats, which I had to snatch before she inhaled them. Max has a hard time with the treats because they are too big, and he has a jaw problem.

Man, how do I always end up with animals with too much personality, animals who don’t know they’re animals? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

More later. Peace.


Music by John Denver, “Today” (I cannot begin to tell you what this song means to me)


Animalistic Hymn

The red sun rises
without intent
and shines the same on all of us.
We play like children under the sun.
One day, our ashes will scatter—
…………………………………….it doesn’t matter when.
Now the sun finds our innermost hearts,
…………………………………….fills us with oblivion
intense as the forest, winter and sea.

~ Edith Södergran (Trans. Brooklyn Copeland)

“I really don’t write to an audience. I never imagined an audience. I imagine other lonely people, such as myself. I don’t know who they are or where they are, and I don’t care, but they’re the people whom I want to reach.” ~ A. R. Ammons, from “An Interview with William Walsh”

Soap Film by Umberto Salvagnin

“This past week has been parceled up, or broken down, into so many unrelated parts that I feel like Humpty Dumpty. Suddenly it’s Friday, and I sit here baffled, sulky and wanting a refund, a re-run, a recount.” ~ Robert Phelps in a letter to James Salter (February 20, 1969-70)

Saturday afternoon, cloudy, 43 degrees.

I slept very poorly last night; I finally gave in and took a half of a sleeping pill sometime around 2 a.m. Of course, the fact of my lack of sleep didn’t stop the puppies from waking me at 7 a.m. I’m thinking of trading all of them in for a gerbil; gerbils don’t make noise, right?

So this past week I had an appointment with a neurologist. I had such high hopes that I had finally found a new doctor to take care of my myriad of pain issues . . . alas, not so much.

Plastic Cup + Water + Nail Polish by Milena Vargas

This was the neurologist that I had originally been scheduled to see in June, but Monday afternoon, I decided to call to see if there had been any cancellations, and voila! Cancellation for Tuesday morning at 10. This particular doctor is located in Abingdon, so that meant leaving the house by 8:30. Those of you who know me know that 8:30 in the morning is not my favorite time of the morning.

Anyway, we left on time, and I had my paperwork all completed, and I was greatly anticipating a good situation. I should have known better; this particular neurologist scoffed at the regimen that my former neurologist had me on, a regimen that took much, much trial and error and time to arrive at. She told me that she would never prescribe my particular medication for migraines. I explained, once again, that my regimen was to address not only migraines, but also chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and restless leg syndrome, to which she replied that she was only going to treat my migraines.

I left there less than happy, to say the least and with little intention of keeping the followup appointment in two months.

“Beyond myself
somewhere I wait for my arrival.” ~ Octavio Paz, from “The Balcony (El balcon)”

Then on Wednesday morning, Corey and I got ready again, this time to go to Bristol, an Tennessee/Virginia, a mere hour and a half away, so that I could get an echocardiogram and an ultrasound (for a supposed heart murmur and to check my thyroid). We got there, and Corey dropped me off to go do errands. I tried to check in, only to be told that my appointments were for the next day.

Weathered Metal Plate by Neuköllner

Seriously? I mean . . . seriously?

I imagine that screeching aloud not as a result of physical pain is probably frowned upon in hospitals, so I bit my tongue and asked if there were any way that I could have the tests done then, and . . . of course not. So I asked to used the phone so that I could try to get Corey to return (the whole cell phone situation is still not remedied). Anyway, I cancelled both appointments, and I’ll reschedule after I see the new PCP, which I think I’m doing sometime at the end of March. Granted, the whole heart murmur thing is a concern, but never in having hundreds (thousands?) of people listen to my chest has anyone ever mentioned anything about a murmur.

So one good thing did come from the painful visit to the unhelpful neurologist: I got a referral to a pain management place, one that I’m 100 percent certain that I had already called and tried to get into. Anyway, I have an appointment to see them at the end of May, so if I can just keep trying vitamins and supplements and ibuprofen for the pain, maybe I can hold out until May 30.

“I’m fighting myself. I know I am. One minute I want to remember. The next minute I want to live in the land of forgetting. One minute I want to feel. The next minute I never want to feel ever again.” ~ Benjamin Alire Sáenz, from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

So that’s the story of my week, one truly disappointing appointment, two non-existent appointments,  two future appointments. By Friday, I was freaking emotionally and physically exhausted (bear in mind, I left the house for two full days, an anathema for me). No wonder I couldn’t sleep last night.

Corpi celesti astratti by Luca Biada

Listen, I know that my expectations are really high when it comes to physicians, but I’m one of those people who has absolutely no tolerance for people being condescending to me, so when I find a doctor who will speak to me one-on-one, without the whole I’m the doctor and I know best vibe, I really connect. Usually, I do better with female physicians, the big exception being my former pain management doctor.

I really looked forward to those appointments, not only because of the pain-relieving trigger point injections, but also because that doctor and I had really great political discussions. That’s a rarity: a doctor who sees you as an intelligent human being worthy of having a conversation with.

This new neurologist? Absolutely not. She did everything but pat me on the head. Or at least that’s how it felt.

Whatever. I just cannot even.

I know. I know: lower my expectations.

“—How
will I begin When shall I
open my mouth
and let half
the world
fall in.” ~ Patrick Rosal, from “Meditations on the Eve of My Niece’s Birth”

Except, I will not lower my expectations. I’m tired of lowering my expectations. I’m tired of rampant stupidity. I’m tired of attitude problems from physicians and insurance companies and pharmacies. I’m tired of people on tumblr not even knowing the difference between simply homonyms, or even knowing what a homonym is. And I won’t even get into politics.

Dirt, shadows and reflections on glass in a greenhouse in Manchester by Liz Sullivan

Enough on the physician rant, the societal rant, the spelling rant (okay, maybe not the spelling rant, not ever).

Petra (one of the horses) is much better. I did some research on the condition that Dallas identified as being what was wrong with her, and he was incorrect, sort of. It is a grass sickness, but it isn’t tetany, as that’s mostly a cattle sickness. For horses, it’s called equine grass sickness.

In the meantime, Napoleon and Sassy are enjoying being the only horses in the pasture. Corey picked up some apple treats for horses, and I doled out a few this morning. Major hit.

“The verb kalchainein, ‘to search for the purplefish, came to signify profound and troubled emotion: to grow dark with disquiet, to seethe with worries, to search in the deep of one’s mind, to harbor dark thoughts, to brood darkly.” ~ Anne Carson, from “Variations on the Right to Remain Silent”

That’s about all for now, I suppose. The current obsession with podcasts continues. Currently, I’m listening to “Crime Junkie,” as I like the chemistry between the two hosts, that, and the fact that there is not inane banter. I may revisit Night Vale at some point, except that it reminds me of Brett, and that’s still way too painful.

Small Glass Bead by Dave Croker

Corey and I both seem to be on the mend as far as the upper respiratory gunk we’ve been dealing with. Even the missing fingertip seems to be on the mend. It is still quite painful whenever I bang it into something, which I do with great frequency as it’s one of my longest fingers, or rather, it used to be . . . Typing is still tender, so there’s that as well.

On a totally different tangent, I’m wondering if anyone out there in the ether has any subjects in particular that they would like to see me tackle. Think of it as a writing prompt for me. Nothing political, as that would only result in thousands of words embodying scathing commentary on my part. I have thought about updating one of those personal surveys, as the last one was several years ago, but I’m not sure. Too juvenile? Random?

Thoughts? Comments? Snoozes?

As always, more later. Peace.

All of today’s images, which are examples of abstract photography, which I love and wish that I could do, were found on Wikimedia Commons.

Music by X Ambassadors, “Unsteady”


“Again, my mind vibrates uncomfortably as it always does. Actually, I am overwhelmed with things I ought to have written about and never found the proper words. I do not let myself think. This is a fact. I cannot face much of the meaning. Shut my mind to anything but work and bowls. And I wonder as I let the month run through my fingers: Can I get out of it? Out of it all? Truth is, I feel all shadows of the universe multiplied deep inside my skin. (Isn’t it all dust and ashes?) I am impressed by the transitoriness of human life to such an extent that I am often saying a farewell…and my heart currently resembles the ashes of my cigarettes; In fact, I’m in the mood to dissolve in the sky.”

~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 1 July 1918

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” ~ Kahlil Gibra, from The Prophet

Atticus, the anonymous poet from Canada

“Writers remember everything . . . especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar.”  ~ Stephen King, from Misery

Sunday afternoon, very windy with dropping temperatures, 46 degrees.

We woke up to vicious wind this morning: The tire swing was soaring around the big oak tree, and the bamboo wind chimes were almost parallel to the porch. The temperatures earlier were in the mid 50s, but they have since dropped considerably.

So I was reminded of another poem, this one by Amy Lowell, another poet whose work I used to include in my literature classes. “Purple Grackles” is actually quite a long poem, so I decided to just include a few relative lines here:

I know that wind,
It blows the Equinox over the seeds and scatters them,
It rips petals from petals, and tears off half-turned leaves.
There is rain on the back of that wind.
……….
There is magic in this and terror
……….
And I watch an Autumn storm
Stripping the garden
Shouting black rain challenges
to an old, limp Summer
Laid down to die in the flower-beds. ~ Amy Lowell, from “Purple Grackles”

Anyway, the good news is that my ring finger actually looks like it’s beginning to heal, and the cut on my right pinky looks much better after I applied a Manuka ointment and dressed it yesterday; I also applied a bunch to my right calf, which I hadn’t realized was wounded until the day after that dog fight.If you don’t know about Manuka honey, it’s a really wonderful natural antibacterial; it is sources from New Zealand. This site has a really good description of its benefits.

That’s about all for today. Typing is still very awkward and a bit painful if I forget and use my ring finger. Here’s hoping that situation remedies soon.

More later Peace.


Music by Boy Epic, “Scars”

“Seawater stiffens cloth long after it’s dried. | As pain after it’s ended stays in the body” ~ Jane Hirshfield, from “Seawater Stiffens Cloth”

As I was going through tumblr, I saw a section from a poem by Jane Hirshfield, “For What Binds Us.” I posted this poem years ago, but in rereading the entire poem, I recognized its pertinence to my current state of affairs, i.e., trying to grow my fingertip back. So I thought that I’d share; here is the relevant section:

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There’s a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—

Music by the Pixies, “Where is My Mind?” (I had to get past the creepy clown)

“Reason is for rich people. We have madness.” ~ Marlon James, from A Brief History of Seven Killings

Students gather at White House to demonstrate against gun violence on National School Walkout day
Two for Tuesday: Society’s Death Toll from gun violence

Tuesday afternoon, overcast, warmer temperatures, 53 degrees.

Today’s poems are not easy or beautiful, but they are powerful. Consider, Langston Hughes wrote his poem in 1938, and the truly depressing aspect is that it is still applicable today. The second poem is from three years ago, and either poem could have been written during any period in our history—when lynchings were common, or when gun violence became a way of life for our society.

Listen, one of my biggest political anxieties is that this country still does nothing to rid itself of mass shootings. Don’t scream at me about the 2nd Amendment, okay? I’m not suggesting that the government come and take away your guns. But I am advocating that we need much stricter gun laws. Even the fascist NRA is for more control. It’s just too damned easy for someone to get a gun, modify a gun, purchase hundreds and hundreds of rounds, and then go out and kill people.

Students at Roosevelt High School take part in a protest against gun violence Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Seattle

We are the only country in the world that has repeated mass shootings and still does nothing to ensure that such violence against society does not happen again. Since 1966, this country has had 161 mass shootings (defined as four or more people killed by a lone/two shooters); this number does not include gun violence, robberies, etc.). The Washington Post has a really good article that breaks down each shooting into detail.

I am not naive enough to believe that any individual who wants a gun can find a way, but I still contend that we can make that process harder. In my ideal world, there would be no guns available anywhere, but that will never happen. So I would settle for making access harder, especially to people who have no business gaining access to killing materials.

By the way, don’t bother leaving comments about killing people with hammers or knives or baseball bats or any other easily accessible implement. I really don’t care to hear it. And I’m absolutely not going to apologize for wishing that we did not have a continuing legacy of innocent people being killed—by cops, or troops, or drones, or individuals with malice in their hearts.

Sorry, not sorry. Here are today’s poems:


Kids Who Die

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Organizing sharecroppers
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Organizing workers
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.

Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together

Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.

~ Langston Hughes


How We Could Have Lived or Died This Way

Not songs of loyalty alone are these,
But songs of insurrection also,
For I am the sworn poet of every dauntless rebel the world over.
—Walt Whitman

I see the dark-skinned bodies falling in the street as their ancestors fell
before the whip and steel, the last blood pooling, the last breath spitting.
I see the immigrant street vendor flashing his wallet to the cops,
shot so many times there are bullet holes in the soles of his feet.
I see the deaf woodcarver and his pocketknife, crossing the street
in front of a cop who yells, then fires. I see the drug raid, the wrong
door kicked in, the minister’s heart seizing up. I see the man hawking
a fistful of cigarettes, the cop’s chokehold that makes his wheezing
lungs stop wheezing forever. I am in the crowd, at the window,
kneeling beside the body left on the asphalt for hours, covered in a sheet.

I see the suicides: the conga player handcuffed for drumming on the subway,
hanged in the jail cell with his hands cuffed behind him; the suspect leaking
blood from his chest in the backseat of the squad card; the 300-pound boy
said to stampede bare-handed into the bullets drilling his forehead.

I see the coroner nodding, the words he types in his report burrowing
into the skin like more bullets. I see the government investigations stacking,
words buzzing on the page, then suffocated as bees suffocate in a jar. I see
the next Black man, fleeing as the fugitive slave once fled the slave-catcher,
shot in the back for a broken tail-light. I see the cop handcuff the corpse.

I see the rebels marching, hands upraised before the riot squads,
faces in bandannas against the tear gas, and I walk beside them unseen.
I see the poets, who will write the songs of insurrection generations unborn
will read or hear a century from now, words that make them wonder
how we could have lived or died this way, how the descendants of slaves
still fled and the descendants of slave-catchers still shot them, how we awoke
every morning without the blood of the dead sweating from every pore.

~ Martín Espada

(This poem and other related poems on gun violence found here on Academy of American Poets)

Music by Kaleo, “Way Down We Go”

“Some struggles are so solitary that they drown in words.” ~ Martha Manning, from Undercurrents: A Therapist’s Reckoning with Depression

Trawsfynydd reservoir, Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Wales, UK, by Welsh Photographs (FCC)

“my dry spell
the thing I don’t talk about with anyone.
My desperation: first of many. Hollow, or
hollowed, depending on where you stand;” ~ Jesse Rice-Evans, from “The Self as Liminal, Endless”

Sunday afternoon, overcast and cold, 43 degrees.

I’ve spent the past few days trying to figure out why I cannot put words down here. It’s disconcerting and weird. But I have landed on one possible reason: I set myself up.

Aberdyfi, Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Wales, UK, by Welsh Photographs (FCC)

What?

Yes. Exactly that. Let me explain: I find these beautiful passages in my meanderings around the ether, mostly on tumblr. I group them by themes, creating drafts for possible future posts, and then I sit down to write, and nothing that I think I can say seems to be worthy of the words of others. Actually, I think that probably the reason for many instances of writer’s block for me, and possibly others—the writer doesn’t feel worthy, doesn’t feel as if she has anything new to say, so what’s the point.

It’s a twisted kind of self-fulfilling prophecy: my words aren’t good enough so I cannot produce the words. The irony is that half of today’s quotes are not from a previously created draft, but from my most recent tumblr visit. I only have about 120 drafts to work through.

“I don’t think any of us can speak frankly about pain until we are no longer enduring it.” ~ Arthur Golden, from Memoirs of a Geisha

Speaking of beautiful words, Golden’s novel about a geisha is one of the best written novels that I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, I fear that my copy ended up in one of those tubs in storage that we lost. The loss of most of my library still pains me. Some of you may view a collection of books as needless, nothing but something to take up space, but books have always, always been my salvation.

Glencoe, Highlands, Scotland, UK,by Welsh Photographs (FCC)

I began reading at a very young age, and as an only child, books became my boon companion. Once I started working as a teen, I began to collect hardback books with the money that I earned. That’s how long I’ve been at it. And I had some truly incredible editions, things that have gone out of print. I remember that I had a two-book, oversized collection of all the works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; I love Sherlock Holmes. But now that set, as well as most of the rest of my collection are gone.

I didn’t just put my books in storage bins and forget them. I can say fairly certainly that I’ve read at least 80 percent of my books more than one time. My dream in the old house was always to have built-in bookcases in the living room. That never happened, and now this small house does not have the space for a wall of bookcases, which I suppose it just as well as I no longer own almost a thousand volumes of fiction, poetry, history, and biographies.

“Here is the river, and here is the box, and here are
the monsters we put in the box to test our strength
against.” ~ Richard Siken, from “Snow and Dirty Rain”

My big plans to clean the house have not materialized. You see, Corey left on Friday for Ohio for a visit with his family, which means that I am alone here with the animals. The being alone part is not problematic, as I’ve stated numerous times. The sticking point is that I’m still sick. The cough awakens me in the middle of the night, and my body is just depleted.

So here I sit in the midst off muddy paw prints on the wood floors; add to that the shredded tissues that the pups have dragged out of the waste baskets, and you are left with quite a mess, one that I find quite oppressive. I suppose it’s all just coalescing and pressing down on me, making me feel as if everything is just too much.

Llynnau Mymbyr looking to the Snowdon horseshoe, Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Wales, UK, by Welsh Photographs (FCC)

And then, mere minutes after Corey made his way down the driveway, the toilet clogged, and for some reason, the good plunger that I had at the old house is missing, and the only thing I have to work with is some bizarre design of a plunger that requires me to use my non-existent upper body strength in order to create the adequate suction. Aren’t you glad I shared that with you?

And then . . . I got in the car with Bailey to take her for a short drive to the mailbox only to find that my vehicle is dead and probably needs a new battery. Corey took Tilly with him to give her a special treat (she loves to travel with him), so I’m trying to give Bailey extra attention as she was quite pissed when they left, but the new bag of dog chew is probably in the mailbox, which I cannot get to without hiking a few miles.

Under better circumstances, the mileage would not matter, but as I begin to cough and wheeze moving from the kitchen to the bedroom, it doesn’t bode well for a hike down the mud in the cold.

“She was . . . flame-like and fierily sad. I think she did not know she was sad. But her heart was eaten by some impotence in her life.” ~ D. H. Lawrence, from Twilight in Italy: The Lemon Gardens

Among the positives (because, yes, there are definitely still positives), we’ve finally had some clear nights again, and the night sky is breathtaking. One night as I stood on the porch just admiring the view, the stars seemed to be hanging just above the ridge. One day I’m going to get a good telescope. Brett had one when he was younger, but it wasn’t very good, and you couldn’t really see much from the yard of the old house because of all of the light pollution.

That’s definitely not an issue here. Once we turn off the outside lights when we go to bed, the darkness is so complete that you literally cannot see the top of the driveway. It bothered me when we first got here, but now, it’s fine . . . most of the time.

Pont Minllyn, Dinas Mawddwy, Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Wales, UK, by Welsh Photographs (FCC)

When I woke up coughing around dawn, I looked out the window that faces the front of the house, and I thought I saw a truck parked in front of the house, not Corey’s pickup, but more like a box truck. Then I put on my glasses and realized that it was actually just a square of pitch black between the porch posts. It was weird.

Of course, if there were anyone or anything out there, the dogs would be spastic, especially Maddy, who still barks at the horses as if they only just appeared in the pasture. I really wish that I had taken her from Dallas sooner because she is a bugger to train; even a simple command like “sit” seems to just fly over her head. I won’t even get into Dallas’s beliefs about training dogs except to say that it’s pretty much non-existent except for making them bark like crazy . . .

Meh.

“One winter I lived north, alone
and effortless, dreaming myself
into the past. Perhaps, I thought,
words could replenish privacy.” ~ Jennifer Chang, from “The World”

I am making an effort not to spend hours on tumblr as I used to when it first came around. My logic is that I need to put the effort here, not there. It is a rather addicting site, though. I mean, there’s so much there. Predictably, I follow people who post quotes from poems and other literature, as well as photography, art, and some architecture, but there are sites that are nothing but memes, or comics, or old firearms, or artistic porn (well, maybe not any more since tumbler instituted puritanical restrictions), etc. ad nauseam

I find it to be quite a good source to jump-start my thought processes, and after perusing my dashboard, which is where the posts appear, my brain seems to be more primed to do something, anything; unfortunately, for the past two (four?) days, that something has been nothing more than playing spider solitaire.

Pont Cwm Yr Afon stone bridge over the Afon Artro, Cwm Bychan, Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Wales, UK, by Welsh Photographs (FCC)

This morning, I deliberately did not open tumblr or spider solitaire; it’s just too easy, and I’m tired of doing easy. Well, I’m tired—that part is true. Seriously, though, I’m fed up with doing nothing. I’m so ready for warmer weather so that I can work on the kitchen cabinets and all of the other projects that have been set aside for winter. But I’m also fed up with myself, fed up with being sick (I really hate to be so sick that I’m incapacitated), fed up with doing nothing.

I keep remembering how I used to clean the entire house, top to bottom, every Saturday morning of my life from the time I was about 10. I enjoyed it—truly. It was the whole thing of being able to get immediate tangible results that I could see as soon as I had finished.

Tangible results aren’t as apparent when you write for yourself, at least not when it feels forced, but you see, I have to take my own advice, the advice that I used to give my students: If you can think of nothing to say, write “I can think of nothing to say, repeatedly, until you do think of nothing to say.” It was an exercise that I started every writing class that I taught, and it almost always produced results.

Okay, so I haven’t written that phrase over and over, but I’m trying to apply the principle: just writing whatever pops into my head in the hopes that I might actually create something more than fodder.

So maybe not so much today, as in more than fodder, but hey, I tried, which is more than I can say about the last few weeks. Anyway, that’s the latest.

More later, in the hopes that the words will flow better. Peace.


Music by Shells, “Jagwar” (discovered this on The Magicians, my current favorite show)

 


a selection from “Snow and Dirty Rain”

If this isn’t a kingdom then I don’t know what is.
So how would you catalog it? Dawn in the fields?
Snow and dirty rain? Light brought in in buckets?
I was trying to describe the kingdom, but the letters
kept smudging as I wrote them: the hunter’s heart,
the hunter’s mouth, the trees and the trees and the
space between the trees, swimming in gold. The words
frozen. The creatures frozen. The plum sauce
leaking out of the bag. Explaining will get us nowhere.
I was away, I don’t know where, lying on the floor,
pretending I was dead. I wanted to hurt you
but the victory is that I could not stomach it. We have
swallowed him up, they said. It’s beautiful. It really is.
I had a dream about you. We were in the gold room
where everyone finally gets what they want.
You said Tell me about your books, your visions made
of flesh and light and I said This is the Moon. This is
the Sun. Let me name the stars for you. Let me take you
there. The splash of my tongue melting you like a sugar
cube… We were in the gold room where everyone
finally gets what they want, so I said What do you
want, sweetheart? and you said Kiss me. Here I am
leaving you clues. I am singing now while Rome
burns. We are all just trying to be holy. My applejack,
my silent night, just mash your lips against me.
We are all going forward. None of us are going back.

~ Richard Siken (full poem found here)