“The enormous silent poem of color and light…of sea and sky, of the woods and the peaks, so far surpasses imagination as to paralyze it.” ~ Lafcadio Hearn, Two Years in the French West Indies

One of the Nereids, Court of Neptune Fountain, Library of Congress, DC, Artist Roland Hinton
by jcolman (FCC)

                   

“Winter dawn is the color of metal,
The trees stiffen into place like burnt nerves.
All night I have dreamed of destruction, annihilations” ~ Sylvia Plath, from “Waking in Winter

Saturday afternoon. Cloudy, drizzle, high 60’s.

When I let the dogs out around 4 a.m., the sky was beautiful—streaked with clouds and a kind of purplish hue. The moon looked like it was covered with gauze. Oh to have a camera that would capture such a sky.

The Channel Gardens: Nereid Thought, Rockefeller Center, NYC
by artist Rene Paul Chambellan

Last night I dreamed I was babysitting for a couple who were renovating their home. The husband was morphing into something with wings. He would bend and contract, and then the faint impression of wings would appear on his back. The baby was eating rice. The mother was getting ready for an interview with Oprah. I had nothing to wear. My sister-in-law Alana had a beautiful cream-colored sweater that she had just bought from Hecht’s, but I knew that I would look like a sausage in it. The husband had concave grooves on his back where the wings would go.

Make of that what you will.

So Sandy was downgraded to a tropical storm and then upgraded right back into a hurricane. It’s going to be one of those. My biggest worry is the back door; other than that, I’m as prepared as I’m going to be.

I really don’t feel like leaving the house today, but I’m supposed to drive Brett and Em to a Halloween party this evening. We shall see . . .

“We depend on nature not only for our physical survival. We also need nature to show us the way home, the way out of the prison of our minds. We got lost in doing, thinking, remembering, anticipating; lost in a maze of complexity and a world of problems. We have forgotten what rocks, plants and animals still know. We have forgotten how to be – to be still, to be ourselves, to be where life is: here and now.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Why was I awake at 4 a.m.? The dogs, of course. Unfortunately, Shakes is wheezing more and more, and his breathing is ragged. But the big culprit last night was Tillie the Lab, who wanted to go out every hour. I don’t know if the impending storm is making her antsy, but for some reason, she will not be still.

Underwater Amphitrite, Grand Cayman, BWI
by Simon Morris

I’m on the fourth (fifth?) day of this headache. I have intermittent respites from the pain, but this is a bad one. Probably the swaying barometric pressure combined with anxiety of weathering a hurricane and worrying about Corey, although he is out of the storm’s path.  Around here, all of the ships have left port, standard procedure when there is a hurricane coming. They go out of port to ride out the storm, to avoid getting buffeted against the piers. That’s a lot of ships.

The governor has already declared a state of emergency, and closings were being flashed on the television screen last night. Forecasters are predicting damages in the billions—that’s with a b, not an m, and everyone is bandying about that phrase “perfect storm” again. Images are all over the Interwebs and television of rising tides and ferocious seas. I think of my friend Sarah and hope that she does not suffer another flood with this storm.

I guess everyone is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, but nature will do what she will, regardless of the humans. I’m just hoping selfishly that we don’t lose power for an extended time like we did back in 2003 with Hurricane Isabel. I think we were without power for days then. We really should have brought home that generator that Corey’s parents were going to give us.

“I like to live in the sound of water, in the feel of the mountain air. A sharp reminder hits me: this world still is alive; it stretches out there shivering toward its own creation, and I’m part of it. Even my breathing enters into this elaborate give-and-take, this bowing to sun and moon, day and night, winter, summer, storm, still—this tranquil chaos that seems to be going somewhere. This wilderness with a great peacefulness in it. This motionless turmoil, this everything dance.” ~ William Stafford

So, what else is going on besides hurricane news?

Channel Gardens: Nereid Imagination, Rockefeller Center, NYC
by Rene Paul Chambellan

Ooh, a memory from Hurricane Isabel: The boys and I set up Risk and played by candlelight. We played for days, and never finished the game. I was winning. Those were good times. I bought the boys a Lord of the Rings version of Risk. We have never played it. That makes me a bit sad. I doubt that we shall ever play it. They have grown up, moved on, changed so much since those powerless afternoons of almost a decade ago.

The longer I write, the more my head hurts, but I’m determined to get a real post up today. The earlier satellite images do not count as today’s post because . . .. well, they just don’t.

I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t feel better about the hurricane if Corey were home with us. Of course I would, but we’ll just have to muddle along without him, at least for another couple of weeks.

“How to photograph this,
the dark when one has said
too much. The dark
of sudden feeling. Love’s
darkness.” ~ Anne Michaels, from “Fontanelles”

I have put Anne Michaels on my list of poets whose books I would like to own, a list that continues to grow and grow. Speaking of which, I still have not shared anything with you about the two poets I saw during the literary festival. I’ll get to that, just as I’ll get to the three book reviews for the books that are sitting on top of the pile.

Sea Nymph Riding Sea Horse, Court of Neptune Fountain, Library of Congress, DC
by Roland Hinton Perry (Wikimedia Commons)

I remember the first time that I went to Mari’s house, I was so pleasantly surprised to see that she had piles of books in every room in much the same way that I do. That was how I knew that I had found a kindred soul. Speaking of which, the other night I dreamt that I had missed a week’s worth of classes for some graduate literature class, and then I showed up right as it was time for the final exam (usually these are math dreams). Mari was in the class with me, but she refused to share her notes with me, and she wouldn’t talk to me.

Then I was meeting with the class’s professor who was very upset with me for missing so many classes, and she didn’t want to let me take the exam, even though I told her I was ready, but I knew that truthfully I wasn’t.

How weird is it that I still have classroom dreams so many years later? What does that say about me, about my inability to move on? Probably way too much, I fear.

“I liked the solitude and the silence of the woods and the hills. I felt there the sense of a presence, something undefined and mysterious, which was reflected in the faces of the flowers and the movements of birds and animals, in the sunlight falling through the leaves and in the sound of running water, in the wind blowing on the hills and the wide expanse of earth and sky.” ~ Bede Griffiths

So, let me end this post, yet another disjointed one, by talking a bit about the Nereid, sea nymphs in Greek mythology. Why Nereids? Why not? Well, mostly because they embodied the sea.

Amphitrite
(artist and location unknown, ??)

There were 50 Nereids, daughters of Nereus and Doris, and they were specific to the Mediterranean, as opposed to the Naiades, the nymphs of fresh water, or the Oceanides, the nymphs of the great ocean. Nereus and his 50 daughters dwelt on the bottom of the Aegean Sea in a silvery cavern. The Nereids were considered good fortune to seamen as they supposedly came to the aid of sailors in distress. Individually they represented aspects of the sea such as the foam, the brine, the waves, the currents, etc. In ancient art, the Nereids were depicted as beautiful young maidens riding on the backs of dolphins or as having small dolphins or fish in their hands.

The Nereid Amphitrite was the queen of the sea, and all of the Nereids made up the retinue of Poseidon, god of the sea. Together with her sisters Kymatolege (end of the waves) and Kymodoke (steadying the waves), Amphitrite possessed the power to still the winds and calm the sea. One other Nereid worth mentioning is Sao, the Nereid of safe passage, or the rescue of sailors.

So here’s hoping the Nereids are doing their respective jobs in the coming days.

More later. Peace.

(Images include the beautiful Nereid fountainheads in the Channel Gardens of Rockefeller Center, NYC)

Music by Peter Bradley Adams, “Keep Us (from the storm)”

 

                   

You are Tired

You are tired,
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.

Come with me, then,
And we’ll leave it far and far away—
(Only you and I, understand!)

You have played,
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart—
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.

Ah, come with me!
I’ll blow you that wonderful bubble, the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I’ll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.

~ e. e. cummings

“Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the mind while awake?” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Nature Impressionistic, Gyömrő, Pest, Hungary, by Halasi Zsolt (FCC)*

“Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.” ~ Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country

Tuesday afternoon. Overcast and warm, 68 degrees.

A very bad few days, indeed. On Saturday, I was completely unable to get out of bed, probably slept 18 out of 24 hours. Just one of those days when the old body is too weak to deal with the vicissitudes of daily life. Then Sunday Corey and I went to buy the Thanksgiving turkey, and it was probably not the best day for it as I was still recovering, and he was sleep-deprived from his work schedule, and consequently, we had a spat in the middle of Sam’s Club.

Bokod, Komárom-Esztergom, Hungary, by Halasi Zsott (FCC)

By yesterday evening, when I was ready to write, I didn’t have access to the computer, so here I am today, no headache, a bit of back pain, and a strange tingling sensation in my left thumb. No idea as to what that is about.

I did make a point of checking my e-mail today, something that I no longer do daily. E-mail, like paper mail that is not in the form of a personal letter, has become rather boring to me. I could not tell you why this is so other than it is. Anyway, the point is that if you desperately need to get in touch with me, sending an e-mail may cause a delay of about a week or so. Sending a message via comments here tends to get my attention faster.

Apologies for this, but am not going to try to pretend that I will be better at checking my mail as I know myself too well. I might intend to do so, but will probably not.

Anyway, it’s a good thing that I did check the old electronic mail as there was a note from Helma (German s-in-law) that my nephew Phillip has to have emergency surgery for pancreatitis. His father Patrick (my ex’s brother) had a severe case of pancreatitis several years ago and almost died from it. Reading that note that was sent a week ago made me feel like the negligent git that I am.

“She was a genius of sadness, immersing herself in it, separating its numerous strands, appreciating its subtle nuances. She was a prism through which sadness could be divided into its infinite spectrum.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer, from Everything is Illuminated

I’m trying to get the house ready for Thanksgiving. Ask me how much I’ve done . . .

When I finish here, I need to go prepare the cranberry relish so that it has a few days to get that commingling of flavors. Alexis is supposed to be doing the mashed potatoes and deviled eggs, but as she never got around to texting or calling me this weekend, I’m not sure I can depend on that. You see, she was supposed to be my ride to Sam’s Club, her reward being gas in her tank. Her no-show meant that Corey had to fill in, which led to the overall grumpiness and spat, etc.

Falling Leaves in Gyömrő, Pest, Hungary, by Halasi Zsolt (FCC)

I despair of her ever coming out of this whatever it is. She knows, as do I, that she needs professional help, but that costs money. She has no money because she has no job; she has no job because of this prolonged downward spiral, so she cannot get professional help. She is her own 99 percent. Not trying to be glib, just realistic.

If I dwell on it for too long, it only adds to my personal miasma of pain, guilt, and otherwise world-weary despair.

So I’ll make cranberry relish. I’ll clear the dining room table. I’ll enlist as much help as I can, and we’ll muddle through the same as always. At least I’ve got a lovely bottle of sparkling blush muscato to accompany the bird and trimmings. It will be one of my occasional forays into imbibing, the last being after the memorial service in September.

“To disguise nothing, to conceal nothing, to write about those things that are closest to our pain, our happiness; to write about our sexual clumsiness, the agonies of Tantalus, the depth of our discouragement—what we glimpse in our dreams—our despair. To write about the foolish agonies of anxiety, the refreshment of our strength when these are ended; to write about our painful search for self, jeopardized by a stranger in the post office, a half-seen face in a train window, to write about the continents and populations of our dreams, about love and death, good and evil, the end of the world.” ~ From The Journals of John Cheever

I found this Cheever passage on tumblr, and it seems so perfect for me, a perfect description of how I write, what I do here. Each time I sit down at these keys, it’s as if I’m sharing my life as it unfolds, as if this act is both abhorrent and necessary, as if penning the words to my own bitter song will cleanse me and thus allow me to feel better. But better how I could not tell you.

Like Tantalus, the fruit always seems to be just beyond my reach, and the water recedes just as I cup my hands to drink. But somehow I keep going.

Twilight in Bokod, Komárom-Esztergom, Hungary, by Halasi Zsott (FCC)

Images flashing through my head: a young boy, holding someone’s hand and looking back over his right shoulder as he’s being pulled away; a woman wearing huge metal frame sunglasses, face turned to the sun; a red rubber ball bouncing . . .Total disconnect? Where do these things come from? Do they mean anything or are they just the commercials in between the stuff that means something? Are these the strangers who I have encountered without noticing, the ones that my brain has filed away for later without my conscious self knowing?

It’s like the photograph of the Irish countryside that I posted a few days ago (which got quite a nice response from you guys . . . should I just cut out the words and post pretty pictures? Kidding.). I came upon it quite by chance, but boom, it was the perfect representation of what I’ve been trying to describe as the Ireland that I see in my mind’s eye.

Have you noticed that I have a real affinity for Greek mythology? I credit Mrs. Clay for this. I really despised that woman when she taught me 9th grade English, but she knew her stuff. I wonder if they even spend time on mythology in English classes any more, I mean, more than a week or two.

“The little space within the heart is as great as the vast universe. The heavens and the earth are there, and the sun and the moon and the stars. Fire and lightning and winds are there, and all that now is and all that is not.” ~ From the Upanishads

But getting back to the whole idea of what I do here, in this little space of mine—I populate this world of mine with dreams (those I’ve had while sleeping and those I keep close to my heart), with agonies and victories, small and large, and I intersperse occasional bouts of politics, irony, whimsy, and comic relief. But all of it—the mindless rambling, the tortured angst, the attempts at the profound—it all comes from a place I simply cannot define. It’s all there, and I do not control how or when it surfaces.

Fall in in Gyömrő, Pest, Hungary by Halasi Zsolt FCC

Last night I dreamed that I went into an old abandoned building. People were living there. It was an old theater, and the people who lived there went into an empty convenience store to use the telephone. I thought about staying there because the people made me feel welcome, but decided that I needed to move on. I had somewhere that I needed to be, even if it meant walking down a dark road, so I put on some old clothes that were in a backpack, and I began to leave, but when I did, some of my dad’s relatives appeared and wanted to know why I wasn’t at home. Then there was something like a flea market in front of the building.

Now I must pause here. I don’t know about you, but my dreams can be sequential, events carry over from other dreams, and I reference previous dreams in later dreams. While I was looking at the items that had been put out for the flea market, I remembered a piano that I had seen in my dream from the night before; the piano was old and black, an upright, but the keys were in bad shape. I thought about the piano in last night’s dream and wished that I had bought it and refinished it.

Then I walked onto a suspension bridge above the flea market, and it was made of rickety wood. Someone had dropped a cigarette, and the bridge had caught fire. I walked quickly among the planks that were still solid until I reached the roof of the abandoned building. Then I climbed down, and there was a line of people waiting to see . . . Alexis, who had designed jewelry in honor of her mother (me) who had been missing. I walked up to the front of the line and hugged her and told her that I was home.

So in one dream, I encompassed my continual search (the walking down a dark road), my affinity for the old (the piano and the abandoned building), my feelings of alienation (the homeless people living in the building), my sadness (the relatives), my dreams for my daughter (obvious), and my fears of not making it to where I want to go (the burning bridge).

“I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words.
I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.” ~ Czeslaw Milosz, from “Dedication

Speaking of writing about the painful search for self, I received another invitation to contribute my blog to Vibrant Nation. Other than one blogger friend with whom I’m in contact, I don’t know much about this site. If anyone has any advice pro or con, I’d love to hear about it.

Balatonfenyves, Somogy, Hungary, by Halasi Zsolt (FCC)

I just remembered that there was a woman in last night’s dream that had strange eyes, huge, with one eye significantly bigger than the other. She was Asian, and she did not want her daughter to date. Her daughter was 42 and still stuck at home. Make of that what you will.

I suppose I’ve put off my real work for the week for long enough. I’ve walked by the dining room table twice to refill my coffee cup, and it did not magically clear itself. Why can’t I be normal? Does every woman hate Thanksgiving as much as I do? I really hate to admit it, but a small part of me understands what my mother has been saying for years: What’s the point of doing all of this?

Oh, well, that answers my question, doesn’t it? My mother. Of course. It always comes back to my mother. I think that I’ll go chop cranberries and apples and try to put everything else out of my mind for a few days, just get through this.

*All images taken from Halasi Zsolt’s photostream on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Music by Trent Dabbs, “Stay by Me”

                   

A Boat

Evening comes on and the hills thicken;
red and yellow bleaching out of the leaves.
The chill pines grow their shadows.

Below them the water stills itself,
a sunset shivering in it.
One more going down to join the others.

Now the lake expands
and closes in, both.

The blackness that keeps itself
under the surface in daytime
emerges from it like mist
or as mist.

Distance vanishes, the absence
of distance pushes against the eyes.

There is no seeing the lake,
only the outlines of the hills
which are almost identical,

familiar to me as sleep,
shores unfolding upon shores
in their contours of slowed breathing.

It is touch I go by,
the boat like a hand feeling
through shoals and among
dead trees, over the boulders
lifting unseen, layer
on layer of drowned time falling away.

~ Margaret Atwood

Something Different for Wednesday

early-depiction-of-eros-as-protagonus
Early Depiction of Eros as Protogonus

 

Feeling Prolific Today

My telephone conversations went much better than expected today: My prescription insurance card has bee taken care of by the one really nice person in Human Resources, and my presecriptions were called in again and put on rush, so those two things are finally fixed. Hooray. Now I can start on another to-do list tomorrow.

But today I did something completely unexpected: I came home and wrote two poems. I’m not sure where they came from. I have a feeling that they were simmering under the surface, but with all of the emotions that have been tossing around my psyche lately, I didn’t realize that they were there.

So here they are; two completely different themes, well maybe not, but two entirely different approaches. I’m pretty happy with them because they reflect where I am at this moment, so I’m putting them out here.

The first one has a Greek mythological backgroud based on Heriod’s Theogeny that Eros is much older than the Greek gods, that he actually is one of the first four to rise out of chaos, so it’s important to remember that this Eros is not the equivalent of Cupid.

The other one, well, I’m really not sure where the other one came from. I think that it just arose from watching young girls try so hard to be different that they all look the same. And what they don’t realize is that a lot of this is permanent: tattoos on your face and neck? Those don’t go away. I mean I know that we all went through our rebellious phases, with whatever that entailed, but am I just out of touch here when I think that having piercings all over your body might hurt you on a job interview later?

Who knows? Maybe I am. Maybe I’m completely wrong about this. It’s not the length of the skirts. God knows I wore mine as short as I could. It’s not the wild colors. It’s none of that. Maybe what distresses me so is the act of being deliberately stupid. To what end? What can possibly be gained by acting as if you don’t have a brain in your head? I think that maybe that’s what I really take issue with. Or with issue up with which I will not put . . .

Okay, enough now. As I said earlier, here they are:

Conversations With a Son Who is Never There

eros-roman-copy-praxiteles
Statue of Eros

Penia Speaks to Eros

 

 What if I were to leave and never return?

Would you notice the lack of my presence,

or would you continue with your chaotic existence

a world that nothing penetrates

made for you and you alone.

 

What would you do if everyone around you

were as covetous as you,

feeling entitled to everything

without ever once contemplating

how it makes its way to you . . .

 

How would you feel if I failed to keep my promises

when you have always known that I would?

I wonder if it would be anything

more than an inconvenience to you

in your ability to continue to take when you please

leaving nothing but cruelty,

bitter and sweet, or

indiscriminate charisma and charm.

 

What if I were to leave and never return?

What if the earth suddenly ceased

its eternal revolution on its axis

and you fell off because none of your anchors

remained to keep you grounded

to remind you

that you may be only human

after all,

and even humans need guidance occasionally

from mere demi-gods.

 

Lolita Liwag

February 6, 2009

 

*Eros is the child of Porus (Expedience) and Penia (Poverty). Like Penia, Eros was said to always be in search of something, and like Porus, he always found a means of attaining his aims.

                                                                                                                                    

 

Observations from the Sidewalk

anime3_pink_goth 

Pink–Haired Gurl

Pink-haired gurl

your attempts to scandalize

are too simplistic—

having already gone there

with my red streaks, black hair,

black and red talons

silver rings on every finger

patchouli oil and incense,

offers to read cards and fortunes—why not?

Be more inventive, less marginal

You want to prove something?

Get a job, or lurn to spell,

be different from the fray.

All of those holes in your eyebrow, nose,

And all the way down both your earlobes,

paint on your neck and breasts—

nothing remains sacrosanct . . .

Only a sad animé now

where once you were a young gurl

who waited, wept about daddy

and dressed your Barbie

in pretty pink dresses.

But daddy left home

and Barbie was all alone.

Little gurl lost, perhaps 

you had more to wonder about then,

in your black patent Mary Janes

and white lace socks,

More than you can ever accomplish now

in the tortured performance art

that your life has become.

So despondent and blue.

No tears shed for you,

Poor little pink-haired gurl.

 

  pink-hair-with-rosary 

Lolita Liwag

February 6, 2009

More later. Peace.