“I have not, nor will I ever, completely lose the longing for that something, that thing that I believe will fill an emptiness inside me. I do believe that the emptiness was made greater by the things that I did to myself.” ~ Marya Hornbacher

haizearen orrazia-1 by orkatz go (orkatz_go) on 500px.com
Haizearen Orrazia
by orkatz go on 500px (cc license)*

                   

“Ah, the sun will catch me, in my disturbing transparency.
What am I but an awareness of the dark, forever?” ~ Edmond Jabès, The Book of Questions I, (trans. Rosmarie Waldrop)

Monday early evening, low 70’s, a bit humid.

No offside by Sergio Tudela Romero (sergiotudela) on 500px.com
No Offside
by Sergio Tudela Romero on 500px (cc license)

Once again WordPress thwarted me. I had all of my quotes, hit save, got an error message, and the post frame was gone. I spend a lot of time in choosing my quotes and images, sometimes more time than the actual writing. I see all three parts as integral and important to the message that I want to convey. To say that I was highly perturbed is a vast understatement.

It really does no good to tell an inanimate object to do biologically impossible things . . . but it makes me feel better. Actually Eamonn’s computer was well nigh impossible to deal with earlier, so I stopped, did a few chores, and took Brett to campus. He only has two more classes after this session, and his next session (Pre Calculus II) begins next Wednesday, so no break for him. I remember all to well how exhausting summer sessions can be—both to take and to teach.

Anyway, now I’m on his computer, and it feels akin to magic, just how fast this computer reacts. I guess I am so used to working on the dying POS that I forget that most functioning computers do not take several minutes to perform an action. Seconds rather than minutes, what a concept.

“I will wait and you can follow alone
and between us the night has come and gone” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “To Lili’s Walk”

In the past 24 hours, Corey and I have had an argument via e-mail. How utterly stupid. I freely admit that it was my fault. I read one of his e-mails while I was exhausted, had a migraine and was near to tears. Hence, I took offense when none was there. I feel terrible. The last thing he needs to be dealing with is my moodiness across an ocean. I have tried very hard not to let him know how down I am as I do not want him to concentrate on anything but his job while he is on the ship. I have succeeded in that goal until yesterday.

ilunabarra luarcan by orkatz go (orkatz_go) on 500px.com
Ilunabarra Luarcan
by orkatz go on 500px (cc license)

Damn.

I feel so bad about the whole thing, and an apology e-mail is kind of lame, don’t you think? I suppose that it’s better than nothing, but it just doesn’t really encompass all of the emotions. Hence the Doctor Who apology gifs for yesterday. Seemed appropriate, even if no one else knew what the hell was going on with it.

Anyway, the ship is supposed to hit Brooklyn around June 22, and a Coast Guard inspection is scheduled for June 25. I’m not sure if he’s staying on for the inspection or beyond; that is entirely up to the company. He needs to come home and have a break, though. Everyone misses him, especially Tillie.

“I keep remembering—I keep remembering. My heart has no pity on me.” ~ Henri Barbusse

Last night I watched the finale to “The Killing” on AMC. It was a really good show, but I was disappointed in the ending. It seemed kind of rushed and anticlimactic. I stopped in reading “The Executioner’s Song” long enough to watch that and a show on Discovery ID. Then felt tired so I turned off the television. My sleeping time has crept back towards 2 a.m., and I don’t want to get into that habit again.

zurriola ilunabarrean-II by orkatz go (orkatz_go) on 500px.com
Zurriola Ilunabarrean
by orkatz go on 500px (cc license)

Unfortunately, while awaiting sleep, memories of Caitlin suddenly popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere. I am resolved to the fate that I will never be rid of these memories and the accompanying emotions, but I wasn’t prepared last night. I actually had to take a Xanax to calm myself down. My doctor prescribed them to me for my anxiety attacks, which, luckily, abated just as soon as she prescribed the Xanax, so I have probably only taken three pills since getting the prescription. Believe it or not, I really try to be conservative with my medication. I have no desire to be hooked on anything.

Anyway, I was finally able to get to sleep somewhere after 3, but it was uncomfortable, and I awoke more times than I can remember. Chalk up another bad night, but hey, what’s one more in the infinite trail of bad nights?

“I’ll always be the one who wasn’t born for that;
I’ll always be the one who had qualities;
I’ll always be the one who waited for a door to open in a wall without doors” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from “The Tobacco Shop” (trans. Richard Zenith)

I debated shortening the quote above by removing the second line, but then I thought that it was too true, and Pessoa doesn’t say good qualities, just qualities, and I think that that’s deliberate on his part.

Reflection Of A Golden Sky by Garry Knight (garryknight) on 500px.com
Reflection of a Golden Sky
by Garry Knight on 500px (cc license)

In the past week or so, I’ve gotten more paper work from the Social Security administration, and a couple of voice mails from my long-term disability provider. Bear with me. This is connected.

Social Security wants me to fill out yet another description of my daily life. The disability provider wants to touch base to see if there is any change in my status. Really? Seriously? Do you really want to know how I feel?

I feel like taking a really thick Sharpie and writing all over the questionnaire:

I’ve completed this thing at least four times. Leave me alone.

But I can’t because it’s a bureaucracy, and they don’t remember what they do from one day to the next.

So instead, I feel like completing the questions in a more ethereal tone. For example, tell us about how you spend your day . . . My answer could be more of a description of my quality of life: Well, I spend a great deal of my day contemplating my existence, its worth or worthlessness, depending upon where I am on the continuum of my mental state. I consider my successes as compared to my failures, and I realize that the scale tips depending upon who is looking at it. I often spend a few minutes each day just staring at the sky and my dogs in amazement that such things exist, and then, more often than not, I have sleep filled with tormenting dreams. The next day I get up and do it all over again.

What do you think? Would they accept that?

“We do compose a soul for ourselves, I think, an inner biography that has this grace of selection—the poem of ourself, if you like.” ~ Les Murray, The Art of Poetry No. 89  (The Paris Review)

If you like to read about poets or like interviews with writers, click on the Paris Review link above. Yet again, tumblr has introduced me to another poet with whom I was unfamiliar—Les Murray, who is from Australia. It’s a good interview.

Puzzle by Sergio Tudela Romero (sergiotudela) on 500px.com
Puzzle
by Sergio Tudela Romero on 500px (cc license)

If I ordered every poetry book that I have put on my wish list, every new poet I have discovered through the poetry lovers at tumblr, I think that I would increase my poetry collection by about 50 percent, and that’s saying something.

My friend over at Titirangi Storyteller and I were discussing Charles Bukowski. I adore him, especially his attitude towards life, yet like so many of the writers of the 20th century, he had a major drinking problem. So many of the writers that I adore had some kind of drinking or drug problem, or even better, some kind of mental illness: Bukowski, Sexton, Carver, Plath, Fitzgerald, McCullers.

What does that say about me? Do I even need to ask? But interestingly enough, I have a real distaste for people who imbibe too much. I don’t like being around drunks, and I know that comes directly from my ex. So why am I perversely attracted to the writings of those who drank themselves to death?

I do not have an answer to that question.

“I dream of perfect concentration; if I found it
I’d surely stop breathing.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, from “The Room I Work In”

I’m considering calling my psychiatrist who prescribes my medications for my disorders, but I’m afraid that she’ll want to add another medication, and damn, I just don’t want that. I’m hoping that this pervasive cloud of despair will dissipate once Corey comes home. At the same time, I do not want to be one of those women who depends upon the man in her life for happiness.

Passing Storm by James Wheeler (JamesWheeler) on 500px.com
Passing Storm
by James Wheeler on 500px (cc license)

Don’t misunderstand. I love how Corey makes me happy, but I also want my inner joy to come from . . . well . . . inner. You know? I never want him to have the burden of thinking that he must provide me with peace of mind. I know that one of the reasons that I feel that way is because both of my parents (surprisingly) drilled into me that I should be self-sufficient, never depend on a man for support.

I know that they were talking about financial support, but over the years I expanded that. Having been married to an individual who was emotionally bereft, I needed to be self-sufficient emotionally. It was not always possible, and it is still not always possible. Yet I still feel that way. I want Corey to be my partner, my lover, my friend, but not my emotional crutch.

I’m going to have to think over whether or not to call the doctor because this black mood does not seem to be lessening, or it lessens but then rears its ugly head even more pervasively than its previous incarnation.

Things to ponder.

More later. Peace.

*All images are taken from the creative commons section of 500px.com. Clicking on the image should take you to the page on which it appears.

Music by Thurston Moore, “Benediction”

                   

The Room I Work In

To Derek Walcott

The room I work in is as foursquare
as half a pair of dice.
It holds a wooden table
with a stubborn peasant’s profile,
a sluggish armchair, and a teapot’s
pouting Hapsburg lip.
From the window I see a few skinny trees,
wispy clouds, and toddlers,
always happy and loud.
Sometimes a windshield glints in the distance
or, higher up, an airplane’s silver husk.
Clearly others aren’t wasting time
while I work, seeking adventures
on earth or in the air.
The room I work in is a camera obscura.
And what is my work—
waiting motionless,
flipping pages, patient meditation,
passivities not pleasing
to that judge with the greedy gaze.
I write as slowly as if I’ll live two hundred years.
I seek images that don’t exist,
and if they do they’re crumpled and concealed
like summer clothes in winter,
when frost stings the mouth.
I dream of perfect concentration; if I found it
I’d surely stop breathing.
Maybe after all, I hear the first snow hissing,
the frail melody of daylight,
and the city’s gloomy rumble.
I drink from a small spring,
my thirst exceeds the ocean.

~ Adam Zagajewski

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” ~ T. S. Eliot

The light is green. What are you waiting for?

**********

Harlem

By Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?
      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.
      Or does it explode?

“We must travel across lonely and rugged terrain, through isolation and silence, to reach the magic zone where we can dance an awkward dance or sing a melancholy song.” ~ Pablo Neruda

The Night Sky by Eric Hines (found on Universe Today)

                   

“Life is heavier
than the weight of all things.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “The Neighbor”

Sunday afternoon. Overcast, intermittent showers, mid 60’s.

Feeling quite low, sensing an impending fall. Thoughts are running all over the place, so instead of linear, I shall merely convey mixed musings for a Sunday afternoon:

  • I have come to realize that I shall die with my heart placed firmly upon my sleeve, bruised and battered for all the world to see.
  • Given a choice between wide, sweeping stairs and narrow ones, I will choose wide ones. Between straight and curved? Curved.
  • I am deeply moved by images depicting a man and woman kissing.

    Night Sky (featured in Scientific American 2-25-08)
  • Show me two pictures of skies, one blue and one with a coming storm, and I will gravitate immediately towards the impending storm.
  • Sometimes black and white speaks so much louder than color; hence, my fascinations with zebras. I think that they are truly beautiful animals. I love everything about the way that they look, but I know nothing about them.
  • Probably because I have been terribly nearsighted most of my life, sound affects me more than sight. Music can bring me to tears faster than an image.
  • Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Mozart. How did they do it? Did they imagine they were hearing the universe?
  • I have an immediate gut reaction to images of large cliffs and water. It’s as if my psyche senses a kinship to such places.
  • Sunrise or sunset? Sunset, always sunset.
  • Sunlight or moonlight. Moonlight. Night skies. Infinity. Corey says that he has never seen such night skies as those from the middle of the ocean.

“What do we know about the postulates, the basic rules of remaining faithful to life? We write afternoon instead of early evening, Geneva instead of Prague; one omits to betray an uncertainty . . . So there is nothing for it but to accept the fragmentation and the superficiality and the emptiness, and with each journey to restrict oneself as precisely as possible to what can be written, faithfully, about reality.” ~ Daniel Robberechts, Arriving in Avignon

I hate days like these, days in which I can feel my heart beating and every sound seems to permeate my senses. I hate it because in this state, it’s not an appreciation but an intrusion.

  • I know that I’m not alone, but that knowing does nothing to reduce the sense of aloneness.

    Somerset Night Sky: View over St. Michael’s Tower on Glastonbury, UK
    by Ben Birchall (guardian.co.uk)
  • Not loneliness, aloneness. Not solitude, which is a second skin, but more an alienation, but from what?
  • What keeps me from actively pursuing the path that I have wanted for as long as I can remember? Fear.
  • I hate fear, hate being afraid, hate my trepidation.
  • I do not abide cowards, so why do I tolerate it in myself?
  • Honor. Bushido. Big talk. Why does it seem so important?
  • I have no idea as to why I filled yesterday’s post with tulips.

“There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

Today’s poem is quite long, and I thought about just using a part, but it didn’t feel right to do so.

  • I move through life attributing human characteristics to everything: fish, dogs, frogs. I do not find this odd.
  • I was probably a canine in another life. I do not find this odd either.

    Night Sky by Jim Richardson (featured in National Geographic 11-08)
  • Things I thought about pursuing: oceanography, medicine, law. I only regret not pursuing oceanography.
  • I still remember the lead paragraph to a story that I wrote for a newspaper article a lifetime ago.
  • My last religious epiphany: Maundy Thursday, years ago, sitting in an empty church, reciting the Apostle’s Creed over and over again.
  • I have no explanation for what happened that day.
  • It has never happened again.
  • Real mystery begins and ends in the stars.

“There are things we know by heart,
and things we don’t.” ~ Andrea Gibson, from “Birthday”

Images I cannot erase from my mind:

  • Caitlin lying on a hospital bed, so small, surrounded by white. White noise the backdrop to all my days.
  • A naked child running from napalm.
  • A homeless man holding his dog, the sadness more palpable in the dog’s eyes than the man’s.

    Mars in the Night Sky, 2003 (nasm.si.edu)
  • My father sitting in the back of a car, sideburns.
  • Hundreds of pigeons in Trafalgar Square, completely unafraid of the people.
  • The flapping sails on my friend’s catamaran, the smell of the bay.
  • A child with a small ball on an elastic string, the ball moving back and forth as the child walks down the dirt road beneath the relentless Philippine sun.
  • The child is me.
  • Lying in a hammock on a summer afternoon. Alexis asleep on my chest. The sunlight dappled through the leaves of the oak tree. One perfect afternoon.

“But dreams come through stone walls, light up dark rooms, or darken light ones, and their persons make their exits and their entrances as they please, and laugh at locksmiths.” ~ Joseph Sheridan, Le Fanu

My family converses in onomatopoeia: jibby-jabby, thingy . . . it all makes sense to us.

  • I continue to dream of the large attic room filled with antiques over which I have been given charge. The woman who owns them is a museum board member.
  • Each time I dream of this room, I am trying to steal something from it, but I never succeed.

    Beauty of the Night Sky by Eric Hines
    (featured in National Geographic)
  • I dream of a tall man with blond hair, a lawyer. I do not know this man.
  • I dreamt of little people flinging themselves off a building.
  • In my dream, I do not recognize my eyes; then I realize that I am wearing false eyelashes. I don’t know how they got there.
  • I seldom seem afraid in my dreams.
  • Last night I dreamed of my mother and father together: They were dressed to go out for the evening. Then my father said that he was going by himself. My mother got out of the car resigned.
  • I think that I’m just looking for a place to land.

“Now I know a language so beautiful and lethal
My mouth bleeds when I speak it.” ~ Gwendolyn MacEwen, from “But

Recurring phrases:

  • tears, idle tears
  • do I dare to eat a peach?
  • I shall be a pair of ragged claws

    Solar Eclipse in China (2009)
    by Wan Peng (featured in guardian.co.uk)
  • tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
  • the waves beat back
  • water of life
  • such stuff as dreams are made of
  • the sorrows of her changing face
  • green rooms like lit glass
  • the heart is an organ of fire

“The mind was dreaming. The world was its dream.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, from “The Circular Ruins”

Arch of the Milky Way over Argentina
by Luis Argench (featured in National Geographic 2012)

Lines from poems I have yet to write:

  • Can it be that I am alive still
  • Who will write my epitaph, the lines of my life
  • Such a fulgent lie
  • When night’s darkness comes too slowly
  • We are all fools and beggars
  • In motley, I shall slay no dragons
  • Proust was wrong
  • In that moment between sleep and wake
  • I cannot, I said.

Peace.

Music by Gareth Dunlop, ‘Trick of the Moonlight”

                   

Birthday

For Jen

At 12 years old I started bleeding with the moon
and beating up boys who dreamed of becoming astronauts.
I fought with my knuckles white as stars,
and left bruises the shape of Salem.
There are things we know by heart,
and things we don’t.

At 13 my friend Jen tried to teach me how to blow rings of smoke.
I’d watch the nicotine rising from her lips like halos,
but I could never make dying beautiful.
The sky didn’t fill with colors the night I convinced myself
veins are kite strings you can only cut free.
I suppose I love this life,

in spite of my clenched fist.

I open my palm and my lifelines look like branches from an Aspen tree,
and there are songbirds perched on the tips of my fingers,
and I wonder if Beethoven held his breath
the first time his fingers touched the keys
the same way a soldier holds his breath
the first time his finger clicks the trigger.
We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe.

But my lungs remember
the day my mother took my hand and placed it on her belly
and told me the symphony beneath was my baby sister’s heartbeat.
And I knew life would tremble
like the first tear on a prison guard’s hardened cheek,
like a prayer on a dying man’s lips,
like a vet holding a full bottle of whiskey like an empty gun in a war zone…
just take me      just take me

Sometimes the scales themselves weigh far too much,
the heaviness of forever balancing blue sky with red blood.
We were all born on days when too many people died in terrible ways,
but you still have to call it a birthday.
You still have to fall for the prettiest girl on the playground at recess
and hope she knows you can hit a baseball
further than any boy in the whole third grade

and I’ve been running for home
through the windpipe of a man who sings
while his hands playing washboard with a spoon
on a street corner in New Orleans
where every boarded up window is still painted with the words
We’re Coming Back
like a promise to the ocean
that we will always keep moving towards the music,
the way Basquiat slept in a cardboard box to be closer to the rain.

Beauty, catch me on your tongue.
Thunder, clap us open.
The pupils in our eyes were not born to hide beneath their desks.
Tonight lay us down to rest in the Arizona desert,
then wake us washing the feet of pregnant women
who climbed across the border with their bellies aimed towards the sun.
I know a thousand things louder than a soldier’s gun.
I know the heartbeat of his mother.

Don’t cover your ears, Love.
Don’t cover your ears, Life.
There is a boy writing poems in Central Park
and as he writes he moves
and his bones become the bars of Mandela’s jail cell stretching apart,
and there are men playing chess in the December cold
who can’t tell if the breath rising from the board
is their opponents or their own,
and there’s a woman on the stairwell of the subway
swearing she can hear Niagara Falls from her rooftop in Brooklyn,
and I’m remembering how Niagara Falls is a city overrun
with strip malls and traffic and vendors
and one incredibly brave river that makes it all worth it.

Ya’ll, I know this world is far from perfect.
I am not the type to mistake a streetlight for the moon.
I know our wounds are deep as the Atlantic.
But every ocean has a shoreline
and every shoreline has a tide
that is constantly returning
to wake the songbirds in our hands,
to wake the music in our bones,
to place one fearless kiss on the mouth of that brave river
that has to run through the center of our hearts
to find its way home.

Andrea Gibson