“Every time I name them my dead are resurrected.” ~ Claribel Alegría, “Every time I name them” (Trans. Carolyn Forché)
Tuesday afternoon, foggy and cloudy, 61 degrees.
Today’s Two for Tuesday features Nicaraguan/Salvadoran poet, essayist, and journalist Claribel Alegría (May 12, 1924-January 25, 2018). Born Clara Isabel Alegría Vides in Nicaragua to physician father Daniel Alegría, her father opposed the U.S. occupation of Nicaragua in 1924; the family was subsequently forced into exile in her mother’s home country of El Salvador while Claribel was still an infant. Her obituary in The Washington Post refers to her as “a leading poet of suffering and anguish.” She was best known in the U.S. for the bilingual edition of her volume of poetry, Flores del volcán/Flowers from the Volcano (1982), which was translated by the poet Carolyn Forché.
Algería’s work combined the personal with the political by sometimes focusing on the violence that plagued both Nicaragua and El Salvador for decades. Poet Daisy Zamora said of Algería that she had “unfailingly spoken up for justice and liberty . . . becoming a voice for the voiceless and the dispossessed.” In 2006 Algería received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature for which he had been nominated by Zamora. In her acceptance remarks upon receiving the prize Algería stated the following:
The poet celebrates humankind, the universe, and the creator of the universe. It is impossible for one to remain indifferent to the turbulence that our planet and its inhabitants suffer through: war, hunger, earthquakes, misery, racism, violence, xenophobia, deforestation, AIDS, and childhood affliction, among others. In the region from which I come, Central America, we love poetry, and at times we use it to denounce what is happening around us. There are many fine testimonial poems. The poet, especially where I’m from, cannot and should not remain in an ivory tower.
You can read more about her life and substantial oeuvre here or in her New York Timesobituary here. Poet Carolyn Forché interviewed Alegria in 1984, and a PDF can be found here.
Today is the birthday of one of my favorite science fiction writers, Frank Herbert (October 8, 1920-February 11, 1986), creator of the Dune series.
As the falling rain
trickles among the stones
memories come bubbling out.
It’s as if the rain
had pierced my temples.
the reedy voice
of the servant
telling me tales
They sat beside me
and the bed creaked
that purple-dark afternoon
when I learned you were leaving forever,
a gleaming pebble
from constant rubbing
becomes a comet.
Rain is falling
and memories keep flooding by
they show me a senseless
but I keep loving it
because I do
because of my five senses
because of my amazement
because every morning,
because forever, I have loved it
without knowing why.
[This is a night of shadows]
This is a night of shadows
solitude overwhelms me.
No one awaits my arrival
with a kiss
or a rum
and a thousand questions.
Solitude echoes within me.
My heart wishes
to burst with rage
but it sprouts wings.
“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.” ~ Frank Herbert, from Dune
Tuesday afternoon. Rainy and mild, 59 degrees.
And so we do the Tidewater temperature bounce: 34 degrees, 59 degrees, 31 degrees, 67 degrees. Is it any wonder we are a population of incubating sinus problems?
Just above my left temple is a pain akin to having been bruised by a hammer. I can’t tell if it’s leftover migraine or incipient sinus headache, which makes figuring out which med to take more trouble than it’s worth. I sat on the edge of the bed with my hot coffee cup pressed against my head, trying to figure this out, and finally took nothing more than ibuprofen because I was giving myself more of a headache over trying to figure out the headache than the possible medicine could have relieved.
Still with me?
Last night I dreamed that my high school friend Sarah was a soothsayer, and she had read in the cards that within 24 hours everyone who was playing video games would die. We were trying to figure out how to let everyone know without causing widespread panic. Can you just imagine? An impossible task. One thing though—she had the most amazing long grey hair, the white-grey, not the steel grey, and I was so envious.
“All we can do on this earth is step into the future with a sense of the many people behind us, the living and the dead, as if we carried our bodies like amphorae filled with sunbeams into each new day” ~ Morton Marcus, from “All We Can Do”
Yesterday I went to Lex’s apartment after dropping off Brett on campus, stayed for a bit and then brought Olivia home with me. We hadn’t seen her in a week, and I was going through bebe withdrawal. Eamonn had called in sick to work, so Olivia got to see her uncle and her Granddaddy, two of her favorite people. She is babbling a lot, saying ma ma, but it doesn’t seem to be associated with anything, just babbling, which is natural.
I remember when Caitlin was in the hospital, she had begun to say something that sounded like ma, and she was the same age that Olivia is now. Funny the things you remember out of nowhere.
Anyway, we had fun eating strained squash and fruit, and she is doing all kind of gesture imitations, which is funny to watch. But while we’re watching Olivia, Tillie is watching us, especially Corey, as if to say, “Hey! What about me?” Such a funny dog.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if poetry—poetry in the broadest sense, in the sense of a world filled with metaphor, rhyme, and recurring patterns, shapes, and designs—is how the world works. The world isn’t logical; it’s a song.” ~ David Byrne
By the way, I’ve been meaning to say greetings and thanks to my newest followers. Recently, I topped 100 followers without even realizing it. Always glad to hear from new people, and remember, if you would prefer to comment via e-mail, that’s fine too.
Let’s see . . . what else?
I haven’t started on my new meds yet mostly because one of them was on back-order at my pharmacy, and I want to start the new regimen with everything. That makes the most sense because I want to be able to tell if they are working collectively and to see if there are any unwanted side effects I may not be able to tolerate. Anyway, I found the one medicine at a CVS near the house and had the script transferred there, so I’ll probably start everything tomorrow; although I’d prefer to start on a Sunday as one of he meds is a patch that needs to be changed every seven days, and I know myself—I forget too easily, so I need a memorable day of the week, you know, like Sunday.
My, I am running on today, aren’t I?
One of my new meds is a sumatriptan shot that I can give myself when my migraines are severe. I had tried this medicine years ago, and it made me very nauseous; however, that being said, the new doctor gave me a shot while I was in his office (because I had a headache, of course), and told me to take a phenergan with the shot for the nausea. The shot worked on the headache, but left me feeling a bit dizzy/woozy. I guess I’ll have to wait to see if this is an avenue in which the nausea is worth the pain relief.
“I am looking into your dark centers where I see myself reflected, standing close to the edge, as though I might at any moment take in my breath and dive down.” ~ Deborah Abbott, from “All Day at Work”
I watched the last episode in season 3 of “Downton Abbey” last night, and boy was it heartbreaking. I really hate it when I have made an investment in a show, and it ends up breaking my heart. Corey is going to take seasons 1 and 2 with him when he leaves. I have the boxed sets. He likes period pieces as much as I do. In fact, one of the first movies that we watched together was Sense and Sensibility, the one with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman. Such a beautiful version.
Don’t really know what the above paragraph has to do with anything, but I was thinking about it, so there it is.
Other than the usual weird dreams last night, I also wrote a poem. However, I did not wake up after composing this poem, so I did not record it. Consequently, I remember nothing of it other than it was there. I know that it was short with short lines, a la Charles Bukowski, but I don’t remember anything else, which is so very frustrating. I know that I liked it, and I think that it had something to do with gravity, which may have come from thinking about Copernicus’s birthday today (somehow that connects in my brain).
I hate when my mind does this to me.
“Without even intending it, there is that little shiver of a moment in time preserved in the crystal cabinet of the mind. A little shiver of eternal space. That’s what I was looking for.” ~ Alan Ginsberg
I’m all alone in the house now, listening to The Secret Sisters. Corey has gone to do errands; Eamonn is at a concert, and Brett as at school. Just me and the dogs, and the dogs are barking at everything and nothing, and Alfie’s bark is the exact pitch that makes my eyes hurt when I have a headache, so all in all, it’s simply fantastic. The only thing missing is the sound of a chain saw or leaf blower.
Actually, just a few minutes ago while I was sitting here daydreaming, I was listening to the wind whip the wind chimes into a frenetic ballad, and I noticed the sound of a jumbo jet passing overhead. When you live in an area filled with the sounds of fighter jets and jumbo jets, it is very easy not to hear them any more. Anyway, so paying attention to these random sounds I remembered a scene in “The Walking Dead” in which one of the characters says that she would love to hear the sound of an airplane passing overhead because in this post-apocalyptic world populated by zombies and survivors it’s so quiet.
And this leads me to ponder: Would I really like to live in an old farmhouse on a piece of land somewhere, far from everyone else. I think that I would, but then would I miss the sounds? I wouldn’t miss the loud trucks and the sirens, but I would miss the sound of the train in the middle of the night, and the sounds of a fog horn on the bay.
I think that I know what I want, and I think that what I want is different from this, but actually, I don’t really know. Do I? Do any of us?
More later. Peace.
Music by The Secret Sisters, “Tomorrow Will be Kinder”
The Lucky Ones
stuck in the rain on the freeway, 6:15 p.m.,
these are the lucky ones, these are the
dutifully employed, most with their radios on as loud
as possible as they try not to think or remember.
this is our new civilization: as men
once lived in trees and caves now they live
in their automobiles and on freeways as
the local news is heard again and again while
we shift from first gear to second and back to first.
there’s a poor fellow stalled in the fast lane ahead, hood
up, he’s standing against the freeway fence
a newspaper over his head in the rain.
the other cars force their way around his car, pull out into
the next lane in front of cars determined to shut them off.
in the lane to my right a driver is being followed by a
police car with blinking red and blue lights – he surely
can’t be speeding as
suddenly the rain comes down in a giant wash and all the
cars stop and
even with the windows up I can smell somebody’s clutch
I just hope it’s not mine as
the wall of water diminishes and we go back into first
gear; we are all still
a long way from home as I memorize
the silhouette of the car in front of me and the shape of the
driver’s head or
I can see of it above the headrest while
his bumper sticker asks me
HAVE YOU HUGGED YOUR KID TODAY?
suddenly I have an urge to scream
as another wall of water comes down and the
man on the radio announces that there will be a 70 percent
chance of showers tomorrow night
No man’s knowledge can go beyond his experience” ~ John Locke
Well, the IB/Honors program was last night, and I was so proud to be there.
As with most things in our life, even the trip to the school was not uneventful. Corey had to work until 3, but the duty sergeant asked if he could stay a bit longer. Corey told him that he could but that he had someplace important that he had to be. Unfortunately, Corey thought the time was 7, not 6. So by 5:15, I’m freaking, as I tend to do. My mother had already left, so Brett and I ended up riding with my ex, Alexis and Eamonn . . . It was one big happy family reunion, only not so much.
No, it wasn’t bad, just weird. Then when we got there, I had to search for Brett’s cap and gown, which was being held by the IB director, only she was nowhere to be found. Found the gown, pulled it over Brett’s head, plopped the cap on. Good to go.
Mr. Martin, Brett’s favorite history teacher, was the speaker, and it was a nice, short speech. Then the people on stage turned the tables on us and declared that parents had to walk their students up to the stage to receive their IB stoles and/or honor tassels. Crap. I look like a sausage. Where is Corey? Lucky that Brett’s last name begins with an S and not a B.
All in all though, the program was very nice. Corey made it in time to walk up with Brett, Paul and me, and everything was over in under 90 minutes. My kind of school program.
“The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.” ~ Frank Herbert
I make light of it, but getting Brett to this point has been a concerted effort with many people at his school pulling for him. When Brett started to have problems a couple of years ago, Corey and I sat down with his counselor, a truly generous, wonderful woman, and all of his teachers. We came up with a plan that would allow Brett to stay in the IB program. The head of the program approved the plan, and accommodations were made for Brett’s absences because of illness.
This year, his counselor set up his schedule so that he would only go every other day. Because Brett has always been in advanced classes, he already had enough credits to graduate, but he needed to complete a few core courses for the IB diploma. The every-other-day schedule worked fairly well; he still missed some school, but not nearly as much as last year. And this year Brett spent his lunch period in Mr. Martin’s room instead of going to the cafeteria. He didn’t eat lunch, and I think that his one-on-one time with Mr. Martin really helped him in a number of ways.
Just being able to listen to a man who knows his subject, a scholar, talk about life and politics, gaining knowledge not found in textbooks—an invaluable experience. I remember having a couple of teachers like that, and I did the same thing: leeched off their knowledge, drank it in, felt privileged for the insights. Anyone with a few years on them will tell you that real knowledge does not come from textbooks; it comes from life—what we do, what we see, what we hear. We learn from the people with whom we interact, the people with whom we disagree. The act of living, seeking, finding—that is the source of real knowledge.
It’s been tough, at times, taxing, but Brett pulled through. So to see him on stage receiving his IB stole was a moment of pure joy for all of us.
“To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
And so Brett is just a few weeks away from leaving high school forever, from moving into a world he does not know, from moving into another academic realm filled with more textbooks, lectures, and tests. But I hope that this time he will be better prepared to sift through the vast information that is coming his way, to cull it like wheat, and find the heart of what matters, to take away what he needs, and then some.
In the grand scheme of things, high school is but a cobblestone path, one that we must traverse to get somewhere else. Many of us trip over its rough edges; some of us fall, and a few pass smoothly without incident. Only when we are years removed from it can we truly see this period for what it really was: a chance to grow, perhaps to make lifelong friends, to be carefree before life intrudes. Only later do we realize how very much we received from the people who were on the opposite of the room from us, how some of them went beyond what was expected and invited us in, allowed us to think, to analyze, to refine. These are the people we remember because they were our introduction to the limitless possibilities of learning, of appreciating, of moving forward into the great unknown that is life.
More later. Peace.
Music by The Great Lake Swimmers, “Stealing Tomorrow”