“I’ve been rereading your story. I think it’s about me in a way that might not be flattering, but that’s okay. We dream and dream of being seen as we really are and then finally someone looks at us and sees us truly and we fail to measure up.” ~ Richard Siken

                   

“Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, ‘I am falling to the floor crying,’ but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.” ~ Richard Siken

Sunday afternoon. Partly cloudy and a bit warmer, 52 degrees.

I love the above quote by Richard Siken because I an relate to it so completely—the absurd nature of grief, the contradictory ways in which your mind works when it is hurting most. You feel the pain in your chest, the symbolic breaking of your heart, and yet you notice the dust on the television screen. You weep, nay, you keen, and even as you are doing so, you wonder where the cobweb in the corner of the living room came from.

If we know ourselves, truly know ourselves, then we can anticipate the way in which we will react in certain situations. What is really interesting is the mind of a psychopath—they do not feel regular emotions, so they learn to act emotions, as in, “Oh, I should be sad, so I will put on a sad face,” and they do, but sometimes their sad face isn’t quite right because there is the hint of a smile on the corner of one side of their mouth, and that is when so-called normal people notice the mask slip.

What do I mean by all of this? Who the hell knows. Only that I have found myself reacting as I knew I would react to something major, something life-changing, and even as I did so, I split off and wondered if I was getting mud on my hem.

We are such strange beings . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by Nils Lofgren, “Why Me”

                   

Snow and Dirty Rain

Close your eyes. A lover is standing too close
to focus on. Leave me blurry and fall toward me
with your entire body. Lie under the covers, pretending
to sleep, while I’m in the other room. Imagine
my legs crossed, my hair combed, the shine of my boots
in the slatted light. I’m thinking My plant, his chair,
the ashtray that we bought together.
I’m thinking This is where
we live.
When we were little we made houses out of
cardboard boxes. We can do anything. It’s not because
our hearts are large, they’re not, it’s what we
struggle with. The attempt to say Come over. Bring
your friends. It’s a potluck, I’m making pork chops, I’m making
those long noodles you love so much.
My dragonfly,
my black-eyed fire, the knives in the kitchen are singing
for blood, but we are the crossroads, my little outlaw,
and this is the map of my heart, the landscape
after cruelty which is, of course, a garden, which is
a tenderness, which is a room, a lover saying Hold me
tight, it’s getting cold.
We have not touched the stars,
nor are we forgiven, which brings us back
to the hero’s shoulders and the gentleness that comes,
not from the absence of violence, but despite
the abundance of it. The lawn drowned, the sky on fire,
the gold light falling backward through the glass
of every room. I’ll give you my heart to make a place
for it to happen, evidence of a love that transcends hunger.
Is that too much to expect? That I would name the stars
for you? That I would take you there? The splash
of my tongue melting you like a sugar cube? We’ve read
the back of the book, we know what’s going to happen.
The fields burned, the land destroyed, the lovers left
broken in the brown dirt. And then’s it’s gone.
Makes you sad. All your friends are gone. Goodbye
Goodbye. No more tears. I would like to meet you all
in Heaven. But there’s a litany of dreams that happens
somewhere in the middle. Moonlight spilling
on the bathroom floor. A page of the book where we
transcend the story of our lives, past the taco stands
and record stores. Moonlight making crosses
on your body, and me putting my mouth on every one.
We have been very brave, we have wanted to know
the worst, wanted the curtain to be lifted from our eyes.
This dream going on with all of us in it. Penciling in
the bighearted slob. Penciling in his outstretched arms.
Our father who art in Heaven. Our father who art buried
in the yard.
Someone is digging your grave right now.
Someone is drawing a bath to wash you clean, he said,
so think of the wind, so happy, so warm. It’s a fairy tale,
the story underneath the story, sliding down the polished
halls, lightning here and gone. We make these
ridiculous idols so we can to what’s behind them,
but what happens after we get up the ladder?
Do we simply stare at what’s horrible and forgive it?
Here is the river, and here is the box, and here are
the monsters we put in the box to test our strength
against. Here is the cake, and here is the fork, and here’s
the desire to put it inside us, and then the question
behind every question: What happens next?
The way you slam your body into mine reminds me
I’m alive, but monsters are always hungry, darling,
and they’re only a few steps behind you, finding
the flaw, the poor weld, the place where we weren’t
stitched up quite right, the place they could almost
slip right into through if the skin wasn’t trying to
keep them out, to keep them here, on the other side
of the theater where the curtain keeps rising.
I crawled out the window and ran into the woods.
I had to make up all the words myself. The way
they taste, the way they sound in the air. I passed
through the narrow gate, stumbled in, stumbled
around for a while, and stumbled back out. I made
this place for you. A place for to love me.
If this isn’t a kingdom then I don’t know what is.
So how would you catalog it? Dawn in the fields?
Snow and dirty rain? Light brought in in buckets?
I was trying to describe the kingdom, but the letters
kept smudging as I wrote them: the hunter’s heart,
the hunter’s mouth, the trees and the trees and the
space between the trees, swimming in gold. The words
frozen. The creatures frozen. The plum sauce
leaking out of the bag. Explaining will get us nowhere.
I was away, I don’t know where, lying on the floor,
pretending I was dead. I wanted to hurt you
but the victory is that I could not stomach it. We have
swallowed him up,
they said. It’s beautiful. It really is.
I had a dream about you. We were in the gold room
where everyone finally gets what they want.
You said Tell me about your books, your visions made
of flesh and light
and I said This is the Moon. This is
the Sun. Let me name the stars for you. Let me take you
there. The splash of my tongue melting you like a sugar
cube…
We were in the gold room where everyone
finally gets what they want, so I said What do you
want, sweetheart?
and you said Kiss me. Here I am
leaving you clues. I am singing now while Rome
burns. We are all just trying to be holy. My applejack,
my silent night, just mash your lips against me.
We are all going forward. None of us are going back.

~ Richard Siken

 

 

“I’m up to my ears in unwritten words.” ~ J.D. Salinger, excerpt from a letter to Jean Miller

 


“I feel a stupefying pressure under my skin. I want to pierce everything and penetrate as far down as possible. I want to reach the depths of the earth. My love is there, in the place where seeds grow green and roots reach one another, and creation perpetuates itself amidst decay. It’s as if my body were a temporary and transient form of it. I want to reach its source. I want to hang my heart like a ripened fruit on all the branches of the trees.” ~ Forugh Farrokhzad, from Another Birth and Other Poems

 Wednesday evening. Hazy, hot and humid, 95 degrees.

I’m on day three of this prednizone run for this particular intractable migraine episode, and the pain had gotten better, but I fear the heat is going to muck things up.

It’s hot. It’s ungodly hot. It’s Hades hot. It’s volcanic hot (well, perhaps not quite). It’s so hot that when I look at the ground I see waves, bands of heat floating above the asphalt. We’ve been out in the heat for two days now, today in Brett’s car with its dying AC. So frigging hot. The driving test will have to be redone. Nerves. But we found a doggy companion for Brett to take with him, a good pick, a real sweetie of a dog at the Norfolk Animal Care center. I think a dog is just what he needs, for so many reasons, which I won’t go into now because it’s hot, and like that witch, I’m mellltttingggggggg……

Gah. It’s hot. No breeze. No storms. Just putrifying, paralyzing hotter than hot heat, and we haven’t even topped 100 yet (we always do).

Did I mention I don’t do hot well? Probably? Well, it bears repeating. The heat and the accompanying sun kill my head. The heat makes me nauseous, makes me not want to eat, only drink cold sweaty things in tall glasses. I feel like squirting my whole body with lemon juice, which for some reason seems that it would be cooling, but would probably just attract insects.

” . . . throw roses into the abyss and say: ‘here is my thanks to the monster who didn’t succeed in swallowing me alive.’” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Behhhh. It’s too hot to get in the pool. Truly. The pool water is like bathwater, and the sun is well, sun, you know, bright, and all of that.

I don’t really have anything to say, other than my running commentary on the weather, my happiness for Brett’s canine adoption, my looming anxiety over the ensuing move, and a deep-seated desire for central air that I could set on 65 degrees. Also, I think/know that I’m sad about all of the doggies that I had to leave behind at the shelters because, well, another dog here? No, not quite. Have to wait until we have a place with some land, and trees, and goats . . . yep, rambling. Heat makes my mind turn to pudding and then shut down.

If I were alone, I would take off all of my clothes, lay atop my bed sheets, and just melt, well, perhaps alternately melt and hydrate.

On that note, I think I’ll stop. Oh, just one more thing:

It’s too damned hot to leave an animal in a car with the windows just slightly down, and I really shouldn’t have to tell you that you don’t leave children in hot cars, and if the sidewalk is too hot for you, it’s too hot for your animals.

People please, brains much?

More later. Peace.

All images reflect the state of my brain today.

Music by Nirvana, “Lake of Fire” (unplugged)

                   

The Ordinary Weather of Summer

In the ordinary weather of summer
with storms rumbling from west to east
like so many freight trains hauling
their cargo of heat and rain,
the dogs sprawl on the back steps, panting,
insects assemble at every window,
and we quarrel again, bombarding
each other with small grievances,
our tempers flashing on and off
in bursts of heat lightning.
In the cooler air of morning,
we drink our coffee amicably enough
and walk down to the sea
which seems to tremble with meaning
and into which we plunge again and again.
The days continue hot.
At dusk the shadows are as blue
as the lips of the children stained
with berries or with the chill
of too much swimming.
So we move another summer closer
to our last summer together—
a time as real and implacable as the sea
out of which we come walking
on wobbly legs as if for the first time,
drying ourselves with rough towels,
shaking the water out of our blinded eyes.

~ Linda Pastan


 

P.S.

“I am learning to see. I don’t know why it is, but everything enters me more deeply and doesn’t stop where it once used to. I have an interior that I never knew of. Everything passes into it now. I don’t know what happens there.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

“Avond (Evening): The Red Tree” (1908-10, oil on canvas)
by Piet Mondrian

                   

What Makes You?
Poietes is made of flowers, Folk, and determination. With a dash of Holmes.

“Wheatfields Under Thunderclouds” (1890, oil on canvas)
by Vincent Van Gogh

I understand the flowers and determination, but not so sure about Folk. The dash of Holmes I completely get. We all know how well I do at keeping things inside. You know how someone somewhere comes up with some kind of relatively cute/intriguing program that supposedly tells you something about yourself? Well this one is called “What Makes You,” and I got the answer above, which only led me to think a bit more on what actually makes me.

Isak Dinesen once said that “the entire being of a woman is a secret which should be kept.” We all know how well I do at keeping things inside. So here is what I came up with on what makes me, what constitutes my being, those things that I embody and that embody me.

“The cure for anything is salt water—tears, sweat, or the sea.” ~ Isak Dinesen

I must begin with water:

  • The sea. I love everything about the sea, from the crashing waves to the ways in which it can be both completely placid and churning. It can be green, brown, or azure. It is never he same. The water that rolls in and licks your feet is not the same water that comes with the next wave.

    “Sea at Night” (nd)
    by David Burliuk
  • Tears. Although I do not cry nearly as often as I used to, I would be lying if I said that my being is composed of all the tears I’ve shed, decades of tears—hot and fierce, quiet and passive.
  • Rain. The rains come and with them, the cleansing. The harder they fall, the more grime that is washed away. Does anything compare to lying in bed listening to the sound of rain on the roof, unless it’s a tin roof? Or the smell of the air after a hard rain?
  • Snow. When snow blankets an area, the sound of everything changes, becomes muffled. This is as close as we can come to shutting out the noise pollution of everyday life.
  • Ice. Dangerous and deadly, an ice storm creates its own sound. The cracking of limbs ricochets like nature’s bullets. It is a fierce sound that demands respect.
  • A hot bath. Perhaps the one thing that pulls together all of the rest: hot and calm, it can muffle sound. If I need a good cry, I run a bath.

“The stars: what are they? They are chunks of ice reflecting the sun; they are lights afloat on the waters beyond the transparent dome; they are nails nailed to the sky; they are holes in the great curtain between us and the sea of light; they are holes in the hard shell that protects us from the inferno beyond; they are the daughters of the sun; they are the messengers of the gods;” ~ Eliot Weinberger, from “31: The Stars” in An Elemental Thing

The sky:

  • The night sky. I need to live somewhere that allows me to see, really see the stars at night. These lights in the firmament are simultaneously pinholes and massive. They are both cold and hot.

    “Eclipse” (1939)
    by Nicholas Roerich
  • Lightning. Flashes that cut the sky, lightning encompasses a side of me that I try to harness. From afar, it is relatively benign, but up close, it can be forbidding. I am drawn to the chaos of it, the seeming randomness. It cannot be controlled. It will do as it wants.
  • Twilight. The period right before sunset, the gloaming. It happens quickly, and can be missed if you aren’t paying attention. Within these few moments, the light shifts, the air stills, the sound pauses. Perhaps not in reality, but sometimes it seems to be so. It is the hour of magic, the time of possibilities. I like to think that it still resides within me somewhere.

Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start there.” ~ Cheryl Strayed

Words and Images:

  • Books. Every book that I have ever read, one thousand? two thousand? I do not know. They are all here. Every word, every phrase, every sentence. Portals to other worlds, to other realms, to other people.

    “Three Trees in Grey Weather” (1891)
    by Claude Monet
  • Songs. This combination of words and sound, how it can reach in and wrap itself around the heart, and either squeeze or massage.
  • Maps. Torn, yellowed records of ancient places and forgotten discoveries, with words that feel foreign on the tongue.
  • Poetry. How to explain this, this combination of words that can be like a song, or a prayer, or a book, or a letter? This creation that can encompass every single emotion you have ever felt. There is no explanation for the ineffable.
  • Art. The transference of beautiful words into an image, the selection of color and form as acute and deliberate as the choice of a noun or verb.

“I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror on a day you’re feeling good.
I wanna know what you see in the mirror on a day a day you’re feeling bad.
I wanna know the first person who ever taught you your beauty could ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass.” ~ Andrea Gibson, from Asking Too Much

The physical:

  • Hands. My father’s hands, the older I get the more of my father I see in them. Hands that have held and caressed and soothed. Hands that have worked and toiled.

    “Ladakh. Golden Clouds over Blue Mountains (1943)
    by Nicholas Roerich
  • Eyes. Who do these eyes belong to? In youth, one eye was slightly lazy, made me self-conscious as only a 13-year-old can be. I had to learn to love my eyes.
  • Skin. The color of olives and mocha, the meat of an overripe banana, and a fresh brown egg. Different hues on different days. It makes me, defines me, and separates me.
  • Hair. Dark as coffee with flashes of red wine in the sun.
  • Heart. The four chambers, the capacity for love and hate, empathy, sympathy, dissonance and resonance.

“Say that I starved, that I was lost and weary;
That I was burned and blinded by the desert sun;
Footsore, thirsty, sick with strange diseases;
Lonely and wet and cold, but that I kept my dream! ~ Everett Ruess, from Everett Ruess

Other things, too hard to categorize:

  • The smell of lavender and lilac, paper whites and rosemary, verbena and gardenia.
  • The sound of bells, ringing bells, church bells, chimes, gongs, fog horns. They are all hollow and full at the same time.

    “The Evening Star” (1891)
    Childe Hassam
  • The colors of blood, sand, whales, and trees. Monet’s sad purples and greens, van Gogh’s lonely blues and yellows, Rothko’s fierce red.
  • The song of a mockingbird, the lament of a mourning dove, the shriek of a red-winged blackbird.
  • The beacon of a lighthouse and the path of a falling star.

More . . .

  • The first chill of an autumn night and the smell of fallen leaves and woodsmoke.
  • The lonely expanse of the desert, the sound of a rolling stream, the smell of mountain air, and the depth of an unexplored cave.

    “Forest” (1906)
    by Mikalojus Ciurlionis
  • The sound of wind in the trees, the leaves rustling just before a storm, like a call coming from the earth itself.
  • The melancholy of Virginia Woolf and the madness of Carson McCullers.
  • The need for truth, whatever the cost, and this has cost me dearly at different times in my life. Yet I will not let go until I have it, all of it.
  • The past, the breath of the first person to ask why, the curiosity of the first person to crest the hill, the soul of the first person who recorded it.
  • The spirit of a dog, the heart of a wolf, the devotion of a dove, and the loyalty of a swan.

Poietes is water and wind, flowers and herbs, words and truth, stars and song. Poietes is heartbreak and love, devotion and silence. Poietes is the hardness of mountains and the softness of shifting sand. Poietes is gold and red and the color of the night sky. Poietes is privacy and solitude, observation and confession. Poietes is all of this simultaneously, and none of this singularly.

More later. Peace.

Music by Benjamin Francis Leftwich, “Pictures”

                   

The Healing Time

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy
holy.

~ Pesha Joyce Gertler