“Isn’t it terrible how dry you can be . . . I can’t seem to write a single paragraph which interests me. It’s like looking for something in the dark, there’s such a huge amount of chance in writing.” ~ Robert Phelps, from a letter to James Salter (March 1, 1969-70)

Statue of Liberty by Jeff Nesanelis (FCC)

Sunday afternoon, cloudy, not quite as hot, 86 degrees (feels like 93)

We’re supposed to get rain. We need it. Last night was quite a light show of lightning in the distance, but the rain never got here. Corey parked my car where it can be rained on because it’s so dirty. I never used to let my vehicles get this dirty.

I thought that I’d share part of an interview with writer Catherine Chung from the June 18 “Ten Questions” feature in Poets & Writers. I like this particular feature as I find it interesting to read what writers have to say about their craft. P&W is a wonderful publication, one that I really should take better advantage of, but as with most things, I do not.

Oh well . . . Know thyself, as they say.

Here are Chung’s answers to two of the questions asked:

2. What was the most challenging thing about writing the book?
My mind! My mind is the biggest challenge in everything I do. I write to try to set myself free, and then find myself snagged on my own limitations. It’s maddening and absurd and so, so humbling. With this book, it was a tie between trying to learn the math I was writing about—which I should have seen coming—and having to confront certain habits of mind I didn’t even know I had. I found myself constantly reining my narrator in, even though I meant for her to be fierce and brilliant and strong. She’s a braver person than me, and I had to really fight my impulse to hold her back, to let her barrel ahead with her own convictions and decisions, despite my own hesitations and fears.

3. Where, when, and how often do you write?
I write where I can, when I can. I’ve written in bathtubs of hotel rooms so as not to wake my companions, I’ve written on napkins in restaurants, I’ve written on my phone on the train, sitting under a tree or on a rock, and on my own arm in a pinch. I’ve walked down streets repeating lines to myself when I’ve been caught without a pen or my phone. I’ve also written on my laptop or in a notebook at cafes and in libraries or in bed or at my dining table. As to how often I write, it depends on childcare, what I’m working on, on deadlines, on life!

Here is a link to the list of P&W “Ten Questions” features.

P.S. Thought I’d post the beautiful sonnet by Emma Lazarus to which I alluded in yesterday’s post, “The New Colossus,” which is mounted on a plaque on the pedestal below the Statue of Liberty. You know, the universal symbol of freedom, that woman who greets immigrants to a better life here in the U.S.


Music by Mumford & Sons, “White Blank Page”


The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

~ Emma Lazarus

Two for Tuesday: Joanna Klink

Brompton Cemetery, London by Heather Desportes (FCC)

……………But mine is darker,
slanted, nitrous blue at the root,

an acrostic of what is
most free and
far.” ~ Joanna Klink, from “Aubade”

Tuesday late morning, cloudy and humid, 80 degrees.

It’s interesting living in a house during the summer without an air conditioner. It would be impossible in Norfolk, where the summer humidity hovers between 90 and 100 percent. But it’s not bad here, except when doing something physical, like cleaning. Then it becomes impossible. Nevertheless, I like the fact that we’re not adding to global warming even though that’s not why we don’t have AC.

Old Calton Burial Ground, Edinburgh, Scotland (FCC)

Unfortunately, I’m still not venturing outside much except to help Corey milk Penny the goat. We don’t have a milking stand, so I hold her and soothe her as he milks, and when I come back inside, I am covered in bites. Once we have a stand, the whole milking process should improve. It will be good when the pasture is finally divided and fenced so that I can reclaim the front yard from the animals. Truly, it looks as if a barnyard out there, and there is no escape from the no-seeums that plague my body with bites.

Today’s poems are by American poet Joanna Klink. Both are entitled “The Graves.” I have included links to the sites on which I found the poems. I love the following passage in which Klink talks about why she writes poes:

“In poems I am trying to find my bearings through a world that at times feels remote and inchoate and struck blank with noise. I would like to place myself in a field of deep attention, and out of that attention come to feel and regard with more acute understanding what is there. I write to be less hopelessly myself, to sense something more expansive than where I speak from.”

The Graves

Wind for your sickness.
The moon for your sickness.

…….A river of night-
…….trees.  Mossy patches

where something recently slept.
A hand-drawn sketch of
fish for your sickness,

…….red and ghost-
…….loamed.  From your mother,

for your sickness, a late
flock of snow-geese
swept up in a gust.

…….From your father, a cave
…….of violas in luminous
…….pitch.  For the panic

desolation.  For scratchy bed-
sheets, the gathering of tumors,
a dispensation traveling in

…….far-nesses across the
…….galaxy-quiet of what is

to come.  Dark-sunned,
you are swimming in schools.

…….For the despairing quality of
…….hospital fluorescence,

the secondhand alarm—
theft of time theft of

…….hope.  The messages
…….arrive like flowers.

For the common un-
contested light of dusk.
For tobacco moths

…….in clouds of wings at
…….the door.  For the dawn-

emotion, a calm-in-vastness
that descends upon
what is.  Upon the storm-

…….tangle of branches, wing-
…….veins and hand-veins
…….shadow-shown on that pale

skin of sky.  Too stone for
fear.  Too brittle for

…….findings.  From the powers that,
…….born on the site of sorrow,

fall in strands of smoke
across your sickness,
for your sickness,

…….and carry and keep you.
…….That would keep you here.

~ Joanna Klink (Found on Chonicle of Higher Education)

The Graves

So here are the strange feelings that flicker
in you or anchor like weights in your eyes.
Turn back and you might undo them,
the way trees seem to float
free of themselves as they root.
A swan can hold itself on the gray ice water
and not waver, an open note upon which minor chords
blur and rest. But it was born dark.
The shore of that lake is littered with glass.
How you came to be who you are
was all unwinding, aimless on a bike,
off to retrieve a parcel that could only be a gift,
and felt, as a child, the sea
weave around your feet, white light rushing in with the surf.
What lived there?
                              —Joy, dispatched from nowhere,
and no need to think about your purpose,
and no fear that the sun gliding down
might burn the earth it feeds. Black habitat of now
in which decimation looks tender.
Sometimes the call of a bird is so clear
it bruises my hands. At night, behind glass,
light empties out then fills a room and the people in it,
hovering around a fire, gorgeous shapes of wind
leaning close to each other in laughter.
From this distance, they are a grace,
an ache. The kingdom inside.

~ Joanna Klink (Found on Poetry Foundation)


Music by Leelou, “Don’t You Forget about Me”

“To begin with, take warning, I am surely far different from what you suppose” ~ Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass: XLV

Bee Hives in a Field of Canola, Oregon, US by Ian Sane (FCC)

“Understand me. I’m not like an ordinary world. I have my madness, I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things that have no soul. ~ Charles Bukowski

Thursday afternoon, rainy and cooler, 74 degrees.

Bad day. I’m mulling over a decision that has to be made, and I just cannot see a solution in which anyone can be happy with the outcome, least of all me. To distract myself, I thought I’d just do kind of a random post . . .

Thursday thoughts:

  • Why on earth would Corey’s recipe for beef and noodles also include mashed potatoes? Not enough calories in the noodles?
  • When will Roland realize that Bailey is a dog and that he cannot have sex with her?
  • I wish that Dallas could have a life-altering epiphany, but I just don’t see that happening. He’ll never change, and he’ll probably live to be 110.
  • Can we ever take the time to paint this stupid house? I hate living like this.
  • Why did Danny Burke leave Most Amazing Top 10? I know that this is probably only something that I wonder, well, me and the other 5 million subscribers.
  • Why on earth would anyone trust a Facebook cyber bank? Talk about taking unnecessary chances . . .
  • Can we just get an even 30 Democratic candidates for president? I mean, 24 isn’t nearly enough. Is it?
  • Will I ever be old enough not to have breakouts? Once upon a time, I assumed that such things ended once you left your teens. Ha.
  • I miss my books.
  • I dreamed last night that I pushed on my stomach and a ball the size of a handball popped out. I pressed on my belly again, and another one popped out, and then a third. But no holes, just stretched skin. Weird, huh?
  • What is the goats’ obsession with my Bentwood rocker? I’ve had this thing longer than my kids, and I really would prefer that it not be destroyed by goat hooves.
  • Did you know that a kid swallowed a live fish, and then the fish ended up living in his lung? Also weird.
  • There are no movie theaters within a half an hour of here.
  • There is nothing within half an hour of here.
  • My daughter wonders if I’m going crazy from the isolation yet.
  • Hmm . . .
  • I have so many insect bites on my limbs that it actually looks like I have small hives.
  • Obviously, I’m competing with the bug zapper for number of captures.
  • One of the goat girls has figured out how to make knocking sounds on the front door. I kid you not.
  • Dogs like to eat goat poop. Yep. Just as disgusting as you might imagine.
  • I really want to have bee hives. We have plenty of room for them. Yet another thing to go on the list.
  • Did you know that bees are so essential to our lives that they even affect the production of coffee? Like coffee? Save the bees.
  • Should I try to go back to work full time? The question that continues to plague me.
  • The White House sent out an official letter in which the word occurring was misspelled. Not surprised.
  • I really, really want to try a pint of Magnum sea salt caramel ice cream with a chocolate shell. Every time I see the commercial, I begin to salivate.
  • I’m still having the script problem, particularly on WordPress and YouTube. Anyone else using Firefox experiencing the same issues? It’s making me kind of crazy. More than usual. Meh.

Well, I think that’s about all. Concentrating on thoughts is just too hard, and that’s just sad. Chocolate would definitely make me feel better.

More later. Peace.


Music by Ray LaMontagne, “Such a Simple Thing”