“There is no curtain for the heart In a room full of poets. Each face maps Its suffering, its lust with lines As subtle as mountain ranges.” ~ Kate Horowitz, section 1 of “6pm Reading, St. Anthony Hall”
The Ascension of Words
Thus, like the skin
of a shorn ewe, the day rises.It is difficult to skin the self from a stone.
It is difficult to skin memory from a Greek.
But why should we talk about these!
light too has a skin,
light too can be skinned…
light too is guilty of being.
A gust of fresh air
comes with the millennium.
We are beautiful;
why should we not be beautiful?
We eat one another
only from hunger,
It doesn’t matter.
We are what we are,
that is, beautiful.
I carry my ever still blood
in my heart.
I carry my ever salt tear
in my eye.
I carry the angel in the middle of heaven.
~ Nichita Stanescu
How to Live
Poets show us how to live ~ Matthew Arnold
They show us more often
than not how to die
at the same time and in more ways
of doing both, of taking the first
out of the heart of the other
and spreading it around
and making it up, making it over
in legendary examples
in the sand after falling
into the bad company
of themselves, too early
and too late, and too soon
they forget how to live
through it and still be able
to follow in strange tracks
on paper. Their embarrassing lives
make schoolteachers labor
hard to explain why
they dared to take so much
that was harmful into their mouths
and swallow it, to neglect
(not trying to recollect)
their debts to others , to forget
to do what they were meant to
before giving away
or ignoring their last chances
with a half-conscious flourish
with one hand waving or still holding
someone’s hand while the other
keeps scribbling something
or other, keeps on trying
with the equivalent of a feather
to put everything down.
~ David Wagoner
Music by Green River Ordinance, “Uncertainly Certain”
“the sound of wind
rustling bamboo leaves
near my window
short is my nap
and its dream” ~ Shikishi
I have been unable to post recently: Three nights of restless, intermittent sleep has taken its toll once again. I feel as if I were a method actor preparing for the role of a zombie, so much so that my eyes seem to have taken on that glassy sheen of the cinema un-dead. Absolutely delightful.
Last night/this morning was perhaps even worse than the night before. Usually I sleep in two-hour intervals; last night it was half hour intervals. I downed an Alka Seltzer a short bit ago and am now sipping on a cold Pepsi. No, I do not need the caffeine, but I do need the fizz. And then there are the migraines, the ones that come roaring in around 2 a.m. All in all, not the best few days.
The one good thing about getting out of bed so much is that one or more of the dogs gets up with me, and we stumble to the back door together. I stick my head outside as they are about their business. Last night was deliciously cool, and the air smelled like spring.
“Below the surface-stream, shallow and light,
Of what we say we feel—below the stream,
As light, of what we think we feel—there flows
With noiseless current strong, obscure and deep,
The central stream of what we feel indeed.” ~ Matthew Arnold
In spite of my not posting for a few days, nothing much happened. I mean, I watched RHNY on Thursday night as Kelly had a meltdown of epic proportions, making repeated nonsensical declarations: “Satchels of gold.” “Al Sharpton, Al Sharpton.” “Feelings are so 1979.” “Bethenny has knives on her tongue . . . eee eee eee (stabbing motions). I know that it’s not nice to make fun of crazy people, so I’ll just say for the record, I told you she was crazy last year.
Since I could not focus enough to post yesterday or the day before, I spent an inordinate amount of time surfing aimlessly. In my searches, I came upon the perfect curling iron, decided to change my shampoo, and read some hype about something called a Far Infrared Dome, which is supposed to be based on Eastern concepts of acupuncture only with infrared heat. If I were going to believe the pitch, then this machine would cure all of my ails: chronic pain, back pain, muscle aches, poor circulation, gout, and a grumpy disposition (just threw in the gout to see if you were paying attention).
Essentially, the device is an open dome that the user places atop his/her body, and then infrared gamma rays from the planet Krypton zap away the pain, leaving a sense of relief and thirst (Users are cautioned to drink water before and after each treatment). Of course, just the increased intake of water could actually be the source of the curative effect.
Hmm . . . things that make you go hmm . . .
Apparently, these infrared domes do a good business in Canada, but I don’t know about elsewhere. Of course they are pricey, but if they actually worked, I could safe a ton on doctor’s visits and shots. I wonder if they are just woo or if there is actually some scientific basis for their claims. Anyone know?
Time out. Had to go lie down and actually fell asleep, real sleep, four hours. Bliss.
“Be like the sun for grace and mercy. Be like the night to cover others’ faults. Be like running water for generosity. Be like death for rage and anger. Be like the Earth for modesty. Appear as you are. Be as you appear.” ~ Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi
I had an interesting conversation with my ex on Friday regarding a letter that we received from TCC. Apparently, Eamonn is on academic probation. I’ll admit it: I immediately defaulted on this one and threw the ball into his court. That is a conversation that I could not possibly have without a lot of shouting ensuing (his first, then mine). How does one get on academic probation at a community college taking four courses? Perhaps by not doing the work? Not going to class? I can only surmise here since I haven’t been firsthand this semester.
I freely admit that I expect a lot of those around me, always have, always will. I expect it because I have seen what each of them can do. Eamonn is a very intelligent person; he can be incredibly intuitive and perceptive. But he is also completely oblivious about the bigger picture—what life is about beyond the scope of his core group of friends, his girlfriend, his little community. Is this surprising? Not really. He’s a teenager who, for the most part, has had a pretty easy life. So on the one hand, I’m not too surprised when he acts as if the world begins and ends with him. That being said, I really thought that he would get it when he started college. You know? It, the big it, as in this is the beginning of my life . . . this is not high school any more . . . this means something.
Unfortunately, it does not appear to have hit home yet. Thus, I pass the buck on this one because I know myself too well, and I know my son. I just do not believe that it is possible to teach another person self-awareness, not matter how much love is behind the lesson. Self-awareness, self-discipline—these things must be learned individually, and almost always as a result of failure, loss, and pain. And the reality is that my instinct to nurture compels me to shield those I love from pain, which is not always a good thing.
“For it would seem—her case proved it—that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself about every fibre of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver.” ~ Virginia Woolf, Orlando
Writing this post has been like blood-letting: I began it early this morning when I could not sleep. I came back to it after an intermittent sleep. I became distracted while writing it in searching for the theme of my quotes. I took a turn at Japanese Tanka poetry. And of the five quotes that I had originally selected, only the title and the Matthew Arnold quote remain.
Sometimes it comes so easily—my fingers move across the keys, creating words and sentences as if of their own volition. Other times, I regroup, move things around until I am satisfied. But on rare occasions, the writing is as it has been today: filled with pauses, backtracks, and uncertainty. When this happens, I must quell a deep desire to simply take the whole thing and move it to the trash heap of computing, that never-never land where words go to die. Perhaps twice I have given over to this desire and just said to hell with it and stopped, but when I do that, I feel even worse than I did while I was writing, as if I abandoned my very thoughts, negated them, made them inconsequential.
But I do not know which is worse: to suffer through until an end appears so that I can stop, to continue to write until things begin to take shape more clearly, or simply to close up shop, hang a sign saying “Back Soon,” and surrender to the miasma of words on the page that have refused to go where I willed them. But for today, I will compromise, having reached an ending, I will stop, post, and hope for a better day tomorrow.