“Some things become such a part of us that we forget them.” ~ Antonio Porchia, from “Voices” (trans. Gonzalo Melchor)

Yokayama Taikan Mt Fuki 1953 color on silk
“Mt. Fuji” (1953, color on silk)
by Yokayama Taikan

                   

“We become aware of the void as we fill it.” ~ Antonio Porchia, from “Voices” (trans. Gonzalo Melchor)

Monday afternoon. Sunny and warm, 66 degrees.

Sorry about the confusion with posts in the last few days. I had set up one to post on Friday but forgot to update the information, and then the Tyson post was supposed to be on Saturday, but again, my days were mixed up. Daylight Savings Time always wreaks havoc with my brain. Anyway . . .

Yokoyama Taikan Towing a Boat 1901 color on silk
“Towing a Boat” (1901, color on silk)
by Yokoyama Taikan

Random things that I’m thinking about today:

  • I once stopped traffic on a small bridge in Corey’s hometown so that I could take a picture.
  • We do not value ourselves until someone tells us what we are worth. If no one tells us, what happens then?
  • I wonder how many children went to bed with empty stomachs in the U.S. last night? In 2013, children still starve in America. We should be so ashamed.
  • A vet with one leg gave Brett directions in New York. I have to wonder where that vet sleeps at night.
  • I realized something about humanity while watching “The Walking Dead”: a person’s true personality emerges in times of war.
  • Some people just look like they would rather be alone.
  • Not everyone in this world is made for casual conversation.
  • I think that my fascination with old buildings stems from a feeling deep inside that I belong within them.
  • Along those same lines, I have always wanted to write a mystery in which the dead bodies are hidden in abandoned swimming pools.

“Everything is a little bit of darkness, even the light.” ~ Antonio Porchia, from “Voices” (trans. Gonzalo Melchor)

More things:

  • I truly bemoan the state of higher education in this country in which seemingly anyone can come up with a name, add the word university to it, and promote an online college.
  • What is really sad is that so many people will not realize that a degree from most of these places is not worth the wrapper on a Snickers bar.

    Yokoyama Taikan Autumn Four Seasons of the Sea 1940 ink and color on silk
    “Autumn: Four Seasons of the Sea” (1940, ink and color on silk)
    by Yokoyama Taikan
  • The majority of online colleges are nothing but businesses and diploma mills, but the people who will suffer the most are the individuals who desperately want a degree but cannot afford a traditional education.
  • Last night when I got up to let the dogs out, I noticed that the stars were incredibly beautiful, and then I remembered that I was only seeing about 1 percent of what was there.
  • Corey thinks that I want to leave the country, and part of me does, but what I want more is to be able to see the stars.

“Almost always it is the fear of being ourselves that brings us to the mirror.” ~ Antonio Porchia, from “Voices” (trans. Gonzalo Melchor)

In just the last decade, we have jumped so far in technology; I don’t expect the pace to slacken, only to quicken, which means that Olivia’s generation:

  • will probably never use a land-line telephone,

    Yokoyama Taikan Snowy Peak with Cranes 1958
    “Snowy Peak with Cranes” (1958, color on silk)
    by Yokoyama Taikan
  • will find it odd to own both a camera and a phone,
  • will not own a paper phone book, and will probably not have to remember telephone numbers because they will be programmed,
  • may never see a paper daily newspaper,
  • may not have to hear Rush Limbaugh,
  • will probably only have a tablet in their backpacks and no actual books,
  • may never send or receive something via the U.S. Postal Service,
  • will watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy as classics

“No one can help going beyond, and beyond there is an abyss.” ~ Antonio Porchia, from “Voices” (trans. Gonzalo Melchor)

Things that show my age:

  • I remember who shot J.R.
  • I look at my sons’ penmanship and wish that they had gone through those classes with the divided lined paper and practiced writing the letters J and F over and over again.
  • I once knew how to develop black and white film.

    Yokoyama Taikan White Clouds Longing for Spring 1939 ink on paper
    “White Clouds Longing for Spring” (1939, ink on paper)
    by Yokoyama Taikan
  • I used to think the height of convenience was having an extra long phone cord.
  • I have used a rotary telephone.
  • I remember movies of the week and miniseries.
  • I have an album collection
  • I have lived without air conditioning.
  • I remember unleaded and leaded fuel.
  • I could fill the tank of my VW Bug for under $5, and it would last a week.

“There are pains that have lost their memory and don’t remember why they are painful.” ~ Antonio Porchia, from “Voices” (trans. Gonzalo Melchor)

Things I wanted to be when I grew up:

  • A marine biologist (high school)

    Yokoyama Taikan Holy Peaks of Chichibu at Spring Dawn 1928 ink on silk
    “Holy Peaks of Chichibu at Spring Dawn” (1928, ink on silk)
    by Yokoyama Taikan
  • A hairdresser (six years old)
  • A pediatrician (freshman in college)
  • A lawyer (graduate school)
  • A poet (first grade, sixth grade, seventh grade, ninth grade……………)
  • An English professor (graduate school)
  • A newspaper reporter (senior in college)
  • A news editor (senior in college)

When the superficial wearies me, it wearies me so much that I need an abyss in order to rest.” ~ Antonio Porchia, from “Voices” (trans. Gonzalo Melchor)

I never wanted to be:

  • A marketing director
  • A membership coordinator

    Yokoyama Taikan Winter Four Seasons of the Sea 1940
    “Winter: Four Seasons of the Sea” (1940, ink and color on silk)
    by Yokoyama Taikan
  • A development officer
  • A proposal development specialist
  • A technical editor
  • A program coordinator
  • A middle-school teacher
  • A medical administrator

I have been all of the above and none of the above above.

Enough.

More later. Peace.

(Haven’t posted any images by Japanese painters in a while, so today’s artist is Yokoyama Taikan (aka Sakai Hidemaro, 1868-1958), a pre-WWII Japanese painter.)

Yokoyama Taikan Summer Four Seasons of the Sea 1940
“Summer: Four Seasons of the Sea” (1940, ink and color on silk)
by Yokoyama Taikan

Music by Trent Dabbs, “Better Off Now”

                   

A Breakable Spell

I don’t know
with what tongue
to answer
this world’s constant question—

whether the tongue
of red enamel, or blue,
whether the tongue
of flowing water, or ice,

or the tongue of mountain,
or the split-songed
tongue that embraces first light.

But it keeps asking
and so I continue
trying cucumber, trying window,
trying egret

For a moment
she stands with her
elegant legs
black in the water.
Below her, another looks up.

My love,
there is no sound between them.

Then,
inside apples and subways,
in smokestacks,
in blossoming roses,
the heart’s machinery starts up again,
hammering and sawing.

~ Jane Hirshfield

“If you know what you are going to write when you’re writing a poem, it’s going to be average.” ~ Derek Walcott

Lilacs by Muffett (FCC)

                   

“The central fact of my life has been the existence of words and the possibility of weaving those words into poetry.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, This Craft of Verse

This poem came to me a few words at a time, the rough opening lines a few weeks ago, and then they took shape as I drove Brett to school on Monday. The rest came over the past few days. Tuesday night I could not sleep until I committed the middle to paper, and I’m glad that I did as too often I say to myself, I will remember in the morning, and I never do.

It’s still a bit rough, but I think that I’m almost there.

Late prayer for my daughter, heavy now with child

Once,
your father brought me lilacs
pale purple blossoms
to quell my anger.

Years after,
you sat so still,
posing,
holding your sister,
mere weeks from the womb.
Your Easter dress—
black
covered with pink rosebuds,
the picture I took,
lost somewhere to time.

Now,
you wait for your own girl child,
counting down the days,
a mere wisp on your lips
where happiness untroubled once dwelled.

Memories of other Aprils
lurk nearby,
reminders of spring’s inconstancy.
I hold
both heaven and hell in my heart
like a tea cup full of fragrant blooms.

L. Liwag

“I realize in the end that I am probably powerless to affect the outcome of even the least thing that happens, but nevertheless, and in spite of myself, as if in an act of blind faith, I want to assume full responsibility . . .” ~ Paul Auster from Disappearances – Selected Poems

Blacksburg, VA, by zachstern (FCC)

                   

“All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire.” ~ Aristotle

Late Saturday afternoon. Overcast, low 50’s.

Second day on antibiotics. My chest still feels as if it’s in a vise, though. The cough is more painful today than anytime in the last week. Go figure. Still, I thought that I would try to bang out a post. We’ll see how far this goes.

Winter in Blacksburg, VA, by bwhistler (FCC)

By the way, do you like the new header? It’s from a photograph that I took last February when Brett and I were wandering around Forest Lawn Cemetery. Let me know.

I’ve had to restart the computer twice so far today. Perhaps computers are like people in that as they get older, they are more affected by the weather: cold and damp, hard to move . . . Perhaps I am anthropomorphizing again. Probably the latter.

I woke up to migraines today and yesterday, or it might be more accurate to say that the migraines awakened me. I don’t know if the Botox is already wearing off or if the bronchitis cough is the cause. I’m really hoping that I have at least another month on the Botox. It would really suck if the shots only lasted for less than six weeks.

I had planned to decorate the house this weekend, but that’s going to have to wait. Maybe sometime this week, but Corey has to work the next five days in a row, so I’m not sure if decorating will happen. More of the wait and see mode. He also has his biology final this Thursday, so it will be a very busy week for him.

ODU finals start next week and then break. Eamonn already had his final in medical terminology. I’m so glad that he finished at least one of the classes; of course, both would have been nice, but I’ll take what I can get at this point.

“Out of my wounds they have made stars:
Each is an eye that looks on you” ~ James K. Baxter, from Howrah Bridge

I’ve been thinking about stars. I’ve had a lot of sky pictures show up on my tumblr dash recently, some really beautiful shots of galaxies, nebulas, night skies. I want to live somewhere that in which I can look up and see a myriad of stars and galaxies, unpolluted by lights from the city and the suburbs. I want to be able to drink in the heavens, the boundless beauty of light and color.

Grand Canyon Night Sky by kern.justin (FCC)

I remember when I was in graduate school in Blacksburg, we lived in an apartment on a hill, and the night view seemed to stretch on forever. I remember the sound of the train horn echoing in the middle of the night. Sounds from sirens were few and far between. Life was so completely effortless then: school, studies, friends. Open spaces and cold mountain air. We lived on $7500 a year, and that was probably the best year in my marriage to my ex.

After that, life intervened. Obligations to people and things mounted. Possessions grew. Simplicity faded away and never returned. When we are in the midst of happiness, we never realize it. Few of us are in touch with ourselves enough to know that this moment here, this experience, is perfection, that this slice of life will never be replicated, can never again come close to the periphery of our existence.

Retrospect alone offers us truth and perspective. The now slips away, eludes us—we are such transient creatures, appreciating more that which we have already lived.

“We can speak without voice to the trees and the clouds and the waves of the sea. Without words they respond through the rustling of leaves and the moving of clouds and the murmuring of the sea.” ~ Paul Tillich

Duck Pond at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA (WC)

A few memories of that time:

  • Eating homemade Brunswick stew by an open fire with other graduate students from the department
  • Crying as I walked through a snowfall after learning that John Lennon had been killed
  • Making a bottle of wine last longer than possible
  • Driving my car into a vast countryside, completely undeveloped, almost getting lost

Don’t misunderstand. I do not long for the relationship with my ex, but I do long for that simplicity. I long for the hunger I had back then, a constant hunger for new things, new tastes, new smells, new people.

I approached life so differently then. It’s not the youth that I long for, but perhaps the openness of youth. Not to be so jaded. Not to be so cynical. Not to be completely inured to life’s foibles.

I don’t know. I seem to be rambling. I cannot quite grasp the words to describe what it is that I am thinking. Sorry. I’m not sure if I can finish this post. I had thought that I knew what I wanted to say, but . . .

I’ll try again tomorrow. I know the poem is long, but it seemed appropriate.

More later. Peace.

Music by J. S. Bach, “Cello Suite No. 1, i, Prelude, performed by Mischa Maisky

                   

Finding the Space in the Heart

I first saw it in the sixties,
driving a Volkswagen camper
with a fierce gay poet and a
lovely but dangerous girl with a husky voice,
we came down from Canada
on the dry east side of the ranges. Grand Coulee, Blue
Mountains, lava flow caves,
the Alvord desert—pronghorn ranges—
and the glittering obsidian-paved
dirt track toward Vya,
seldom-seen roads late September and
thick frost at dawn; then
follow a canyon and suddenly open to
          silvery flats that curved over the edge
          O, ah! The
          awareness of emptiness
          brings forth a heart of compassion!
We followed the rim of the playa
to a bar where the roads end
and over a pass into Pyramid Lake
from the Smoke Creek side,
by the ranches of wizards
who follow the tipi path.
The next day we reached San Francisco
in a time when it seemed
the world might head a new way.
And again, in the seventies, back from
Montana, I recklessly pulled off the highway
took a dirt track onto the flats,
got stuck—scared the kids—slept the night,
and the next day sucked free and went on.
Fifteen years passed. In the eighties
With my lover I went where the roads end.
Walked the hills for a day,
looked out where it all drops away,
discovered a path
of carved stone inscriptions tucked into the sagebrush
          “Stomp out greed”
          “The best things in life are not things”
words placed by an old desert sage.
Faint shorelines seen high on these slopes,
long gone Lake Lahontan,
cutthroat trout spirit in silt—
Columbian Mammoth bones
four hundred feet up on the wave-etched
          beach ledge; curly-horned
                    desert sheep outlines pecked into the rock,
and turned the truck onto the playa
heading for know-not,
bone-gray dust boiling and billowing,
mile after mile, trackless and featureless,
let the car coast to a halt
on the crazed cracked
flat hard face where
winter snow spirals, and
summer sun bakes like a kiln.
Off nowhere, to be or not be,
          all equal, far reaches, no bounds.
          Sound swallowed away
          no waters, no mountains, no
          bush no grass and
                    because no grass
          no shade but your shadow.
          No flatness because no not-flatness.
          No loss, no gain. So—
          nothing in the way!
          —the ground is the sky
          the sky is the ground,
          no place between, just
 
          wind-whip breeze,
          tent-mouth leeward,
          time being here.
          We meet heart to heart,
          leg hard-twined to leg,
                    with a kiss that goes to the bone.
          Dawn sun comes straight in the eye. The tooth
          of a far peak called King Lear.
 
Now in the nineties desert night
          —my lover’s my wife—
old friends, old trucks, drawn around;
great arcs of kids on bikes out there in darkness
          no lights—just planet Venus glinting
by the calyx crescent moon,
and tasting grasshoppers roasted in a pan.
 
          They all somehow swarm down here—
          sons and daughters in the circle
          eating grasshoppers grimacing,
 
singing sūtras for the insects in the wilderness,
 
—the wideness, the
foolish loving spaces
 
full of heart.
 
          Walking on walking,
                    under foot   earth turns
 
          Streams and mountains never stay the same.
 
 
 
 
                              The space goes on.
                              But the wet black brush
                              tip drawn to a point,
                                       lifts away.