“It’s only in the autumn where I can take breaths that make me want to take more breaths . . . But I will always enjoy the grey solemn solitude of this season that grows darker and colder, day by day.” ~ Henry Rollins, from Solipsist

Gustav Klimt The Birch Wood 1903 oil on canvas
“The Birch Wood” (1903, oil on canvas)
by Gustav Klimt

“a dream of creatures
with autumn coloured faces
their bodies vent to earth
falling under the spell
of the spinning world” ~ Anja Huwe, from “Autumn”

Sunday afternoon. Cloudy and cooler, 58 degrees.

Last night I had a Harry Potter dream, sort of. I was going back to school, but I wasn’t on any of the rolls because I had failed two classes the semester before. I was hoping to fake my way through. Then suddenly, spells and wand work were required, and I was performing abysmally, unable to remember even basic spells, and Hermione was actually one of my main nemeses from high school, and she was aligned with someone else, and I was left to my own devices, trying to remember things besides accio and stuff, and I had boils on my chest, and I created an itching powder (directly related, I’m sure, to the fact that yesterday I had to take two baths (am and pm) and soak in colloidal oatmeal for nervous itching) and smeared it across everyone’s lockers so that everyone was affected, and then I realized too late that I had also affected allies, and I had that recurring dream part in which one of my classes was never finished because the professor just stopped teaching four weeks before the end and called it a day, and we were wondering if we were responsible for what wasn’t covered, and I realized, too, that I had none of my special grid notebooks for class, nor any of my preferred pens, and I awoke with, you guessed it, a headache . . .

TomThomson-Moonlight-and-Birches-1916-17
“Moonlight and Birches” (1916-17)
by Tom Thomson

And yesterday I had this moment in which I paused to consider whether or not I had truly read To Kill a Mockingbird, or if it was one of those titles that I had read so much about that I imagined actually reading the book.

This is what happens when I have to spend too much time on the phone arguing with people over basic things like health insurance coverage. My mind reverts to a pseudo-fugue state in an attempt to shut down, not deal with too much.

“This October like November,
That August like a hundred thousand hours,
And that September,
A hundred thousand dragging sunlit days,
And half October like a thousand years . . .” ~ Ford Madox Ford, from “In October 1914 [Antwerp]”

I wrote another poem earlier today. I don’t know where these poems are coming from, only that they are coming. I don’t claim to be a prolific or particularly wonderful poet, though at one time in my life that was all that I ever wanted to be: a published poet, a name associated with poetry, a person known for her words as poems.

Antonín Slavíček - Birch Wood 1897 oil on canvas
“Birch Wood” (1897, oil on canvas)
Antonín Slavíček

As with many things in my life, I did not do what I needed to do to make this happen. I did not believe in myself enough, something I am well aware I have done throughout most of the days of my life. Believing takes effort. Doing takes effort. Effort takes effort.

Do you ever wonder what your life would have been like if you had followed your very first dream, the dream of your life that first spoke to you, the dream that made you sit up and recognize that you were in fact a person, with dreams and desires, and yes, possibilities? My first dream was to be a poet, and truthfully, I remember the exact moment I said to myself that this was what I wanted to be when I grew up: I was in the first grade in London, and I had just won my first poetry contest for a rather short and sweet poem about the seasons.

And then I ran into that English teacher in the seventh grade who took one look at what I had written and told me that it was not a poem because it did not go da-duh, da-duh, da-duh, and I believed him even though I knew better. And then I had that American literature professor as an undergraduate who told me that the only female poet of worth was Emily Dickinson, and I did not believe him because I had read other women, but I let him silence me.

“Mute Autumn odors. The
starflower, unbroken, passed
between home and chasm through
your memory.
A strange lostness was
palpably present, almost
you would
have lived.” ~ Paul Celan, from “Die Niemandsrose,” (No one’s rose), trans. Michael Hamburger

The dreams of lives I thought I might have:

  • Journalist for a large city paper (this I did not pursue because of love, not that he did not want me to but because I forgot to care)
  • Photojournalist traveling the world (never even tried)
  • State politician (at the time, this seemed like a great goal to have, and then, not)
  • Editor for a large corporation (I came close, but then I decided that my daughter needed her grandparents, and so I moved)
  • English professor at a liberal arts college (Where is the MFA or the PhD that would have allowed me to try for this?)
  • Published author of criminal mysteries (I have no excuses)
A Golovin Birches 1908-10
“Birches” (1908-10)
by Antonin Golovin

And then these, lesser things, that I have imagined I could do if I just took the time:

  • Sew a large quilt, one that could be handed down generation after generation
  • Have a large rose garden, filled with many varieties and scents
  • Learn to bake a wedding cake
  • Make my own soaps and salves and scrubs

My life of what-ifs is one long list of should and might, and my biggest hindrance has only ever been myself.

“oh it is the autumn light
that brings everything back in one hand
the light again of beginnings
the amber appearing as amber” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “September Plowing”

Isaac Levitan Autumn period Birches 1899 oil on cardboard
“Autumn. Birches” (1899, oil on cardboard)
by Isaac Levitan

I offer no excuses, no explanations. I am far too tired to make the effort.

And yet the poems, the sequences of words keep coming, too fast to be finessed well, a tumble of words and thoughts, and I am unused to this creative wellspring, not having seen its likes in years, decades, and I wonder why, why now, why when I gave up on the poems years ago.

Anyway, I wrote another poem today, and once again, I’m sharing, even though it is a first draft, even though it is rough, because the need to put this out here is stronger than my need to hide, so here is today’s:


 

In the bedroom

smells of my husband’s homemade soup
drift down the hall from the kitchen
he is cooking this for me,
his personal salve for my wounds
his quiet prayer for my wellness
in a few hours I will blow steam across the surface of the deep bowl
across the sunken bodies of the fulsome vegetables
let the liquid slip across my tongue
taste him in the broth:

hot enough to scorch my soul,
strong enough to feed my heart
thick enough to bind my rent spirit
copious enough to recall my father’s love
bitter enough to remind me of death
with just a dusting of grace

L. Liwag (November 9, 2014)

                   

Music by Lewis Watson, “Stay”

                   

Afterwards

Suddenly
everything feels afterwards,
stoic and inevitable,
my eyes ringed with the grease of rumor and complicity,
my hands eager to hold any agreeable infatuation
that might otherwise slip away.
Suddenly
it’s evening and the lights up and
down the street appear hopeful,
even magnanimous,
swollen as they are with ancient grievances
and souring schemes. The sky,
however,
appears unwelcoming,
and aloof, eager to surrender
its indifference to our suffering.
Speaking of suffering,
the houses—our sober, recalcitrant houses—
are swollen with dreams that have grown opaque with age,
hoarding as they do truths
untranslatable into auspicious beliefs.
Meanwhile,
our loneliness,
upon which so many laws are based,
continues to consume everything.
Suddenly,
regardless of what the gods say,
the present remains uninhabitable,
the past unforgiving of the harm it’s seen,
while
the future remains translucent
and unambiguous
in its desire to elude us.

~ Philip Schultz

“Sometimes we can’t find the thing that will make us happy, because we can’t let go of the thing that was supposed to.” ~ Robert Brault

                   

Sunday Afternoon Saudade

Here. Have some spring blossoms, scents of apple, peach, lilac, and plum. Listen to some music. Read a poem.

Music by Natalie Walker, “Waking Dream”

Elegy

What to do with this knowledge
that our living is not guaranteed?

Perhaps one day you touch the young branch
of something beautiful. & it grows & grows
despite your birthdays & the death certificate,
& it one day shades the heads of something beautiful
or makes itself useful to the nest. Walk out
of your house, then, believing in this.
Nothing else matters.

All above us is the touching
of strangers & parrots,
some of them human,
some of them not human.

Listen to me. I am telling you
a true thing. This is the only kingdom.
The kingdom of touching;
the touches of the disappearing, things.

~ Aracelis Girmay

“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” ~ Sylvia Plath

Felice Casorati, Il sogno del melograno The Dream of the Pomegranate 1912 oil on canvas
“Il sogno del Melograno” (The Dream of the Pomegranate), (1912, oil on canvas)
by Felice Casorati

                   

“Having experienced both, I am not sure which is worse: intense feeling, or the absence of it.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from The Blind Assassin

Monday afternoon, Labor Day. Partly cloudy and humid, 80 degrees.

Well hello. Many thanks for holding on during my dry spell, brought on by the complete and total distraction of gutting and renovating the sole bathroom in our 1950s rancher. I’m hoping that now that most of the work has been completed, I can sit here for a few hours without feeling guilty that I am not tiling or grouting or whatever.

We’ll just have to see, I suppose.

Galileo Chini 1922Terme Berzieri  Frescos
From Terme Berzieri Frescoes (1922)
by Galileo Chini

In the past few weeks my creativity has been limited to finding content that might be somewhat interesting to post here as well as rapid skimming of my tumblr dash. Several times I have sat here, thinking about all of the things that I want to say, and then I would think about all of the things left undone, and I would stop. Now that I’m here, I can’t think of a damned thing to say. I guess I’ll just keep going and hope that I arrive somewhere along the way.

Corey is on his way to the Azores. His departure was abrupt but necessary as he had exhausted his unemployment benefits, and unfortunately, the gulf companies in which he is interested prefer that applicants come in person. Since it’s not exactly a short hop to New Orleans, we decided that the best thing for now was to say with his current company. Not ideal, but it works for now.

“Life hurls us like a stone, and we sail through the air saying, ‘look at me move.’” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet

I know that it’s not August any more (header quote), but I’ve been saving that quote, and I’m going to use it. I mean, “the odd uneven time”? Perfect description of these days.

I’ve noticed that in recent weeks, more and more pictures have appeared on my tumblr dash featuring orange and red leaves on trees, so I suppose I’m not the only one yearning for fall. Unfortunately, it seems that once again I have missed summer, and I”m not entirely sure that that was a bad thing this year. First there was the very uncomfortable side effect of my face swelling whenever I hit any kind of heat, and then there was the whole renovation thing. Between the two, I barely made it into the pool for any kind of relaxation, and now that Corey has left, the pool is just kind of sitting there, needing to be vacuumed and treated.

Felice Casorati, Preghiera The Prayer 1914
“Preghiera” (The Prayer), (1914)
by Felice Casorati

Not so much my thing. Eamonn was supposed to help with that . . . still waiting . . .

Speaking of kids, Brett started school last week. There was a major snafu with his financial aid; apparently, even though I completed the FAFSA in February (a new early record for me), it didn’t go through. Who knew? And, get this, we made too much money for him to qualify for his grants. Seriously? I mean, really? Geez.

By the way, Olivia started walking a few days ago. So cute. And we added Lex to our telephone plan for her belated birthday present. I was too worried about her being with the baby and not having any way to contact anyone for emergencies. It’s only a few dollars a month, and we got her a new phone, so that’s one less thing that I have to worry about.

Speaking of new phones, we upgraded mine, which would ordinarily excite me beyond belief, but I didn’t even bother to do anything with it until a few days ago. More of that time management thing.

“There are days that walk
through me
and I cannot hold them.” ~ Katherine Larson, from “The Gardens in Tunisia”

So, besides all of the mundane, day-to-day life stuff, what else is new?

The puppy seems to have regressed and has decided that she is no longer house-trained. I am sorely not amused . . . I’m telling myself it’s the heat and the biting flies.

I’m very behind in my writing project with my friend Mari. I haven’t mentioned it here because I wanted to wait until I was sure it was going to work. Unfortunately, I’ve been the one to fall behind. That’s next on my things of wanting/needing to do.

Vittorio Zecchin Mille e una Notte
“Le Mille e Una Notte” (The Thousand and One Nights), (1914)
by Vittorio Zecchin

And of course, because it’s fall, my thoughts have turned toward going back to school. Ask me what I’ve done as far as preparing for my GREs . . . correct. Nothing. I’m still in that middle of the road place in which I’m not entirely sure if wanting the degree is enough of a reason for pursuing the degree. It’s an old argument, one that I have yet to resolve. I’ll probably be 80 and still contemplating this.

God, one of these days I’m going to finally figure out what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m fairly certain that it isn’t what I thought.

“One tries to go deep—to speak to the secret self we all have.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from Collected Letters, 7 September 1921

I ran across an image of a painting by Italian artist Galileo Chini, which led me on a search for more, which led me to explore the whole Liberty school, which is what the Italian version of Art Nouveau is called, apparently. What struck me was the resemblance to Gustav Klimt, one of my favorite artists; I’ve featured Klimt on here several times. Anyway, the exploration led me to several blogs, almost none of which included names of the works of art, nothing about the media or the dates created.

Galileo Chini La Primavera Classica 1914 panel
“La Primavera Classica” (1914, panel)
by Galileo Chini

A particular pet peeve of mine.

I mention this because I received an e-mail from someone informing me that I had infringed on copyright of a poem that I featured a while back. The infringement was completely unintentional, and I really felt bad because I try to do my due diligence.

What’s the point to all of this? Well, there is one, actually. Copyright was one of my favorite courses when I got my publishing degree; it’s something I wish that I knew more about, or even worked in. And the whole Linkedin thing that I’ve been doing has been tormenting me because there are all of these advertisements for jobs in the publishing industry. I read them, and I say to myself, “I could that. And I could do that. And that, too.”

It’s so frigging depressing. Not just because the jobs are all in big cities, but more because of the reality of my life. The whole disability thing. I’m in the middle of filling out yet another round of forms, and I had a meeting with my pain management doctor so that he could fill out his forms, and it didn’t really hit me until he started talking that I really am limited.

I hate this more than I can say.

“I want to resemble a sort of liquid light which stretches beyond visibility or invisibility. Tonight I wish to have the valor and daring to belong to the moon.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from A Writer’s Diary

I’ve been dwelling in the past in my recent thoughts. It’s not a good place to be. But I keep arriving at various crossroads in my life, and I cannot help but wonder what might have happened had I chosen differently.

Remember that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in which the old knight says, “You have chosen wisely”? I haven’t felt too many times that I have chosen wisely.

Galileo Chini Canale a Bangkok c1912-13
“Canale a Bangkok” (c1912-13)
by Galileo Chini

I’m not talking about my love life, my decision to end my long marriage or my decision to take a chance again, to allow myself to love Corey. Not those decisions. No, all of the other life-changing decisions. Far too many to go into here, at the end of this post. Suffice it to say that so many times I wish that I had chosen wisely, but I have always, always, always been led by my heart instead of my head, and this impulse has led me to think, or rather, not to think too well.

Everything from buying this house to making a u-turn that led to my Calais being totaled. Choice? Fate? Something else?

I know. Why dwell? Why not dwell . . . I mean, for most of my life I was always the one to make the big decisions, and granted, a u-turn is not a big decision—I just happened to remember that—and it’s not that I’m necessarily bitching about that because control and I are good friends. I want control. I take control. It’s just that sometimes having control isn’t necessarily the best thing.

Damn. I don’t even know what I’m saying at this point. I think that I’ll stop for now. I knew that the more that I wrote the more that would want to come out, and now I’m not really making sense.

Welcome back. I think . . .

More later. Peace.

*All images are by Italian artists working in the Liberty style, the Italian version of Art Nouveau, so named after the firm of Liberty and Co. in London. 

Music by Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan, “Don’t Explain”

couldn’t choose, so I posted both . . .

Music by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus, “Killing The Blues”

                   

Traveling

If you travel alone, hitchhiking,
sleeping in woods,
make a cathedral of the moonlight
that reaches you, and lie down in it.
Shake a box of nails
at the night sounds
for there is comfort in your own noise.
And say out loud:
somebody at sunrise be distraught
for love of me,
somebody at sunset call my name.
There will soon be company.
But if the moon clouds over
you have to live with disapproval.
You are a traveler,
you know the open, hostile smiles
of those stuck in their lives.
Make a fire.
If the Devil sits down, offer companionship,
tell her you’ve always admired
her magnificent, false moves.
Then recite the list
of what you’ve learned to do without.
It is stronger than prayer.

~ Stephen Dunn