It’s starting to feel like fall, which is a bit unnerving. It seems that the seasons change rather quickly here on the ridge. I mentioned this a few months ago when Corey and I were wondering why we weren’t seeing all of the green of spring, and then less than a week later, we were surrounded by green: the trees were covered in leaves, and buds were blooming everywhere you looked. Now, we’re already seeing the leaves turn on certain trees, the birches, I think.
Once again, I wish that I had some extra cash so that I could work on refinishing cabinets and furniture, but of course, there is none of that, at least not yet. I wish that my other mother were still around as I desperately need to cover the couch in a fabric that is dog and goat proof, if such a thing exists. She was so good at that.
I had one of those dreams last night in which I was back at the middle school. I don’t know why I continue to dream about that place and the people in it. The kids I taught would all be grown with their own kids, or in jail, or dead. I know that sounds like a horrible thing to opine, but truly, I have no doubts that some of those kids are in jail, one in particular who scared the crap out of me, and he was only 12.
Anyway, I was back there looking for a book that I had donated by mistake. Weird, huh?
Today’s Two for Tuesday features works by Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet James Wright (December 13, 1927–March 25, 1980), who was phenomenal; he could say so much about loneliness and isolation in very few words, and he was masterful in closing a poem. Wright, who was born in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio, suffered from alcoholism and manic depression; he died as a result of tongue cancer.
Mari introduced me to Wright years ago, and “Lying in a Hammock” (below) remains one of my favorites and is surpassed in my mind only by “A Blessing.” I can relate deeply to the last line of “Hammock.” His posthumous book of collected works, Above the River (1992) is a prized possession that, thankfully, never made it into storage but always had a reserved spot on my desk. I remember exactly where I bought it: in a bookstore in Charlottesville, VA after having lunch; Corey, the boys, and I were in the mountains for a fall hike. When I finally find the box in which it was packed, it will be like Christmas all over again.
To see a good biography, go here or here. In the summer 1975 issue, he was featured in The Paris Review‘s “Art of Poetry (No. 19), in which Wright declared that “poetry can keep life itself alive.”
Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota
Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.
All right. Try this,
Then. Every body
I know and care for,
And every body
Else is going
To die in a loneliness
I can’t imagine and a pain
I don’t know. We had
To go on living. We
Untangled the net, we slit
The body of this fish
Open from the hinge of the tail
To a place beneath the chin
I wish I could sing of.
I would just as soon we let
The living go on living.
An old poet whom we believe in
Said the same thing, and so
We paused among the dark cattails and prayed
For the muskrats,
For the ripples below their tails,
For the little movements that we knew the crawdads were making
For the right-hand wrist of my cousin who is a policeman.
We prayed for the game warden’s blindness.
We prayed for the road home.
We ate the fish.
There must be something very beautiful in my body,
I am so happy.
“……………But mine is darker, slanted, nitrous blue at the root,
an acrostic of what is most free and far.” ~ Joanna Klink, from “Aubade”
Tuesday late morning, cloudy and humid, 80 degrees.
It’s interesting living in a house during the summer without an air conditioner. It would be impossible in Norfolk, where the summer humidity hovers between 90 and 100 percent. But it’s not bad here, except when doing something physical, like cleaning. Then it becomes impossible. Nevertheless, I like the fact that we’re not adding to global warming even though that’s not why we don’t have AC.
Unfortunately, I’m still not venturing outside much except to help Corey milk Penny the goat. We don’t have a milking stand, so I hold her and soothe her as he milks, and when I come back inside, I am covered in bites. Once we have a stand, the whole milking process should improve. It will be good when the pasture is finally divided and fenced so that I can reclaim the front yard from the animals. Truly, it looks as if a barnyard out there, and there is no escape from the no-seeums that plague my body with bites.
Today’s poems are by American poet Joanna Klink. Both are entitled “The Graves.” I have included links to the sites on which I found the poems. I love the following passage in which Klink talks about why she writes poes:
“In poems I am trying to find my bearings through a world that at times feels remote and inchoate and struck blank with noise. I would like to place myself in a field of deep attention, and out of that attention come to feel and regard with more acute understanding what is there. I write to be less hopelessly myself, to sense something more expansive than where I speak from.”
Wind for your sickness.
The moon for your sickness.
…….A river of night- …….trees. Mossy patches
where something recently slept.
A hand-drawn sketch of
fish for your sickness,
…….red and ghost- …….loamed. From your mother,
for your sickness, a late
flock of snow-geese
swept up in a gust.
…….From your father, a cave …….of violas in luminous …….pitch. For the panic
desolation. For scratchy bed-
sheets, the gathering of tumors,
a dispensation traveling in
…….far-nesses across the …….galaxy-quiet of what is
to come. Dark-sunned,
you are swimming in schools.
…….For the despairing quality of …….hospital fluorescence,
the secondhand alarm—
theft of time theft of
…….hope. The messages …….arrive like flowers.
For the common un-
contested light of dusk.
For tobacco moths
…….in clouds of wings at …….the door. For the dawn-
emotion, a calm-in-vastness
that descends upon
what is. Upon the storm-
…….tangle of branches, wing- …….veins and hand-veins …….shadow-shown on that pale
skin of sky. Too stone for
fear. Too brittle for
…….findings. From the powers that, …….born on the site of sorrow,
fall in strands of smoke
across your sickness,
for your sickness,
…….and carry and keep you. …….That would keep you here.
Beric proudly displays his horns while protecting Daisy
Roland posing for his portrait with Sassy photobombinb in the background
Sassy greeting newborn Zeke
Bobby (daughter) & Sylvia (mother)
Ruby in the old easy chair
Little Miss Daisy
“Anxious, we keep longing for a foothold- we, at times too young for what is old and too old for what has never been; doing justice only where we praise, because we are the branch, the iron blade, and sweet danger, ripening from within.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Sonnets to Orpheus: XXIII” (Trans. Stephen Mitchell)
Monday afternoon, storms and dropping temps, 84 degrees.
About half an hour ago, a line of thunderstorms whipped through here, and it was pretty wild. The girl goats and Sassy (the horse) were all clustered on the porch for shelter from the fierce wind, and Tillie was hiding in the bathroom. Fortunately, it was a quick storm, but more are looming on the horizon.
Speaking of the bathroom, last night I had a major scare: I was switching out laundry when I heard a rattle. A large (in my mind) black snake was hanging out on the corner of the work table on which I stack the folded laundry. I made some kind of weird noise and hightailed it out of there. Corey was standing in the hall when this happened, and as he’s asking me, “What? What?” I’m trying to say the word snake, but honestly, I’m not sure if any real words came out of my mouth.
My deep, abiding phobia about snakes has not lessened with time. If anything I think that it might be worse.
So Corey goes on snake patrol only to tell me that everything is fine because the snake had gone back under the house. I did not find this statement nearly as comforting as he would have thought because my first thought was how in the hell did it go back under the house from the bathroom?
Apparently, there is a hole beneath the pipes. Great. Just g-r-e-a-t……..
“Today my grief abated like water soaking underground, its scar a little path of twigs and needles winding ahead of me downhill to the next bend. Today I let the rain soak through my shirt and was unharmed.” ~ David Mason, from “In the Mushroom Summer”
When I told Corey that I was afraid to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night because of what might be lurking (I don’t usually turn on the light), he laughed, but I reminded him that I knew of a real incident in which a snake was in the toilet: one of my parents’ neighbors across the back fence once found out the hard way that a snake was in his toilet.
I will never forget that story. Is it any wonder that I am terrified of snakes?
I realized that moving to the country meant that I would encounter more wildlife, and I’m okay with that—mostly—but that doesn’t mean that I’m okay with snakes in the house. I remember when Brett’s partner lived in our house, and she had a pet snake; I could only go in their room if I kept my eyes averted. Granted it was a small snake, but it was still a snake, in the house, in my house.
Full body shudders.
(Note: I had to leave this post on Monday so that we could go see Dallas. Ended up being caught in a downpour. More on this later)
“A burning sense of injustice, sobs, sorrow: desire to fight back, and no time or energy to do so,” ~ Sylvia Plath, from a journal entry, April 22, 1958
Wednesday afternoon, more storms, warm and humid, 84 degrees.
Corey and I made the trip to see Dallas because we had a proposition: We would trade him Beric the goat to get Napoleon back; however, when we got to his house, he was nowhere to be found. He’s taken to hiding in his house because animal control has been called on him. So we searched everywhere, and then a big storm hit. As we were waiting for the storm to pass, Dallas’s nephew drove up with Dallas in the truck.
The attempts at conversation were futile as Dallas was drunk, and there’s just no talking to him when he’s like that. I don’t particularly want Dallas to have Beric, but I’m desperate to get Napoleon back over here. The long and short of it, though, is that I don’t think that he’s ever going to bring Napoleon back, and truly, that breaks my heart. Dallas is known for giving and then taking back when he gets mad. We’ve heard stories of such from several people and from Dallas himself. I really wish that I had known this before he ever brought the horses over here, before I became too attached.
You just shouldn’t tell a person that you’re giving them something, when in fact you don’t mean give at all. Quite frankly, I’m sick to death of the man and his constant stream of lies and tall tales. So I just need to resign myself to this reality. If only I had the money to offer to buy Napoleon and bring him home.
“We are amazed how hurt we are. We would give anything for what we have.” ~ Tony Hoagland, from “Jet”
So more snake news: last night I started to go into the bathroom only to find Ash staring intently at something near the toilet. I backed out, and Corey went in and wrangled the snake again. He’s fairly certain that it’s the same snake. I did not look closely enough to notice. Thank god Ash was on high alert as I probably wouldn’t have noticed or been able to see the damned thing as my eyesight is getting worse.
Funnily enough, earlier in the day Corey had pointed out that a snake was wrapped around one of the fence posts, and he thought that it was probably the same snake. He asked me if he should kill it, and even though I hate, hate, hate it, there’s no good reason for killing a black snake as they are harmless. Well, almost harmless. A couple of weeks ago Corey found a black snake in the chicken coop, and it was trying to eat one of the chickens. So there’s that . . .
Enough on my ophidiaphobia; I wouldn’t say herpetophobia as I’m not afraid of all reptiles, only snakes.
“I know I am restless and make others so, I know my words are weapons full of danger, full of death” ~ Walt Whitman, from “As I Lay with My Head in Your Lap Camerado”
I had originally planned to post pictures of all the goats for Wordless Wednesday, but I really wanted to finish this post as the longer that it remains unfinished, the more I stress over it, and one of the main reasons I keep this blog is to write away my stress, not compound it.
Anyway, here’s the current goat status: four females, three males. The Nubians are Sylvia, Bobby, Roland, and the new baby Zeke. Ruby is a Miniature Nubian. Daisy is a pygmy, and Beric is a Nigerian Dwarf. Corey’s plan is to breed and sell registered Nubians and Miniature Nubians. Bobby gave birth to Zeke a week ago, but she had no interest in nursing him, so both he and Roland are currently in the house being bottle fed, but Roland is almost ready to be weaned (even though he probably doesn’t think so).
I find it more than a little amusing that Corey has managed to spoil the two goat babies in the same way that I spoil dogs and cats. It’s so bad that Roland cries at night if Corey leaves the kitchen, which is where we have the crates for both of them. Corey puts Roland in his crate for the night, and then he has to wait for Roland to fall asleep; otherwise, his cries get progressively louder and more anxious, and I swear that it’s as unnerving as listening to a baby cry.
Well, that’s all for now, folks. More later. Peace.
” . . .they would walk home in the evenings when the light was soft, anything bad sliding off them, and they would feel owned, completely owned, in a good way, by the air, which would touch them constantly, sometimes urgently, sometimes lightly, just to let them know it was there, and they would think maybe this is what being alive is” ~ Emily Berry, from “No Name”
Saturday afternoon, cloudy, 74 degrees.
I think that today would be a good day for a walk with the dogs mostly because I was walking everywhere in my dreams last night. I frequently walk in my dreams—to my imaginary jobs, to school, to the doctor’s office—it’s weird. Last night I was walking home (in Norfolk) down Shore Drive, which is definitely not a street for pedestrians. I was walking when I realized that it was getting dark, and there was no one around. I started to pick up my pace until I was running, but then I found myself running on all fours, but it felt completely natural, and I was able to run quickly, like some kind of animal.
I’ve had the being on all fours dreams before, but last night’s was one of the first times in which I felt myself moving. I’ve dreamt that I’ve been walking to and from a primary school in which I was teaching, but my walk takes me through a sketchy part of town, and I have to keep looking down alleys. Those are always strange as I’ve never really lived anywhere that had a lot of alleys.
I remember that in part of last night’s dream I was trying to remember if I had ever gone walking completely naked, and my dream mind remembered a time in which I went to school completely naked. I know—the naked dreams are all about being vulnerable—but in this particular naked dream I didn’t feel at all vulnerable, just incredibly free. I sent to school (college), but no one was especially surprised or concerned, and I felt very at home in my naked body. Go figure that one out because I’ve never been able to translate that one.
“Night opens itself only once. It’s enough . . . And I am well aware what night is made of.” ~ Alejandra Piznarik, from “Sex, Night”
Lately my dad has been making many appearances in my dreams. Last night he was bailing some of us out of jail (unsure as to who exactly was there), and it cost him $1500, and I was worried about how I would ever be able to pay him back. Funnily enough, though, he wasn’t mad; he was smiling. If you ever met my dad you would know that he was not a big smiler, which is probably where my antipathy towards smiling comes from.
But last night he was smiling, and it unnerved the me in the dream because I couldn’t quite figure out if it was a happy smile or a mad smile, if that makes sense. I have a vague memory of him appearing in my dreams the night before last as well, but now I cannot quite grab the thread of the dream, even though I awoke from it thinking that it was so powerful that I would definitely remember everything, but of course, I cannot. The only part that I can remember is that I was in the military, which is very, very weird.
For some strange reason, Brad Pitt was in part of my dream: I was sitting across from him in some kind of restaurant, and he was telling me why his marriage failed, and it was the most natural scenario, which it definitely would not be. I was also back at my old pain management doctor’s office so that I could get trigger point injections, but instead of the neurologist, it was another doctor that I saw for a while before him, and I was very confused. Oh, and Jennifer Aniston made an appearance as well.
I don’t have many celebrity dreams, and if any do appear, it’s not usually in a casual setting, but last night, this dream seemed to be populated with famous people. In another part I was in a movie theater, and I was watching a documentary. The strangest part was that I knew that the person sitting next to me was not who he claimed to be, and I knew that the scene involving the primates (?) would reveal who he really was, and I knew that Brad Pitt would be angry at the charade.
When the truth was revealed on the screen, a loud argument erupted, and we were all asked to leave the theater, which meant going up an aisle filled with chaise lounges because those are always in theaters . . .The whole sequence was truly bizarre.
“. . . each of us joins night’s ongoing story” ~ Li-Young Lee, from “Black Petal”
Sorry to go on so much about my dreams, but I always find them fascinating. I’ve never actually bothered to try that whole lucid dreaming thing, mostly because my dreams are already to full. I’ve found over the years that not everyone dreams like this, though, which is definitely a shame for those people because dreams that are so vivid are actually pretty cool, that is, until they aren’t, like the ones in which I awake screaming or yelling or crying.
I have wondered if my vivid dreaming is part of what makes my sleep so fractured. Apparently, not everyone awakens two to three times a night. That whole seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep only happened in my youth. Once I got married (the first time) and began to worry about adult problems like bills and rent and everything else, my ability to sleep uninterrupted ceased, and then with the birth of babies, sleep at night became even more fractured.
I suppose the dogs replaced the children at some point because I now awaken instantly when I sense a dog stirring and moving towards the front door. When my children were babies, the same thing would happen: Something in me would cause me to awaken instantly when a baby or child stirred, even once they were in their own rooms. Maybe that’s just an innate mother thing because I did it with Olivia as well.
“Tell me what you feel in your room when the full moon is shining in upon you and your lamp is dying out, and I will tell you how old you are, and I shall know if you are happy.” ~ Henri Frédéric Amiel
In other news . . .
I’ve been reading the Mueller report because, well, democracy you know. Amazingly, it’s not filled with a lot of legalese, making it fairly easy to go through, but I’ve been taking my time, going back and forth so that I don’t end up giving myself an aneurysm from being so angry.
Trust me. It’s better this way, well, better for my blood pressure, plus, I really don’t need yet another thing to keep me from being able to sleep. I’m really trying not to allow the state of the union to move to the top of my worry list.
I’d really like to print the report, but I think that I’ll wait until we see an unredacted version. Overall, though, I really want to hear from Mueller himself. His letters to and interactions with the pseudo attorney general only confirmed my initial suspicions about the entire Mueller investigation and the blatant bullshit of the administration’s declaration of total exoneration.
I’m so tired of all of this, the constant breaking news because there’s never a day in which something else stupid or illegal or evil happens. How did our country get to this point? But more importantly, why aren’t more people upset? I truly don’t understand. No, not everyone out there gives a whit about politics, but this is our entire system of government, people. This is our Constitution being blatantly ignored, and need I remind everyone that democracies die in countries all of the time, and the U.S. is not immune, no matter how superior we all feel to the rest of the world.
“We heard of nights lit with lightning bugs and cigarettes. With rumflame
and tonguefire. We needed none of it. The nights were black puzzleboxes and we solved them. It was easy— in the darkness, our minds sparked like flint.” ~ Catherine Pierce, from “The Geek Girls”
And now for something completely different . . . (I really miss Monty Python).
Last night Bill Maher made a Carpenters’ reference, and very few people in the audience got it. As the Dump would say, “sad.” You know that you are aging when you make cultural references that no one else in the room understand and/or appreciates.
Anyway . . . Corey bought me a small bottle of Maker’s Mark a few weeks ago, and I’ve been parceling it out like it’s gold, which it is actually akin to, considering the cost. I’ve just been having a weird craving for bourbon the last few months; it’s especially weird as I rarely drink any more, probably more as a reaction to being around a drunken Dallas.
Who knows. Certainly not I. But there really was a point to this: Even though the driveway is still in precarious shape because of the section that washed out, Corey met Dallas coming up the driveway yesterday pulling the horse trailer with the tractor. He (Dallas, not Corey) was sloppy drunk and talking about loading Sassy in the trailer and what he’d do to her if she wouldn’t get inside. Corey reminded him that the driveway was damaged, and actually convinced Dallas to turn around.
There was a lot more to the episode, but I just don’t want to get into it. Suffice it to say that Corey locked on of the gates on the driveway, which is good as Dallas actually came back up the drive after Corey left, and if Dallas had made it all the way here and tried to scare Sassy into the trailer, I’m really not sure how I would have reacted. As it was, Corey’s retelling of everything left me shaken. I’m really beginning to hate a lot of what is going on around here, the constant threats of lawsuits, and jail and violence, even though we’re not actually in the midst of it. But we’re close enough that it’s affecting us.
I had wanted to get away from people, away from neighbors, but I suppose you truly cannot get away from such things unless you are physically unreachable. I mean, we’re pretty isolated on our property, but these people can still reach us. Several years ago I wrote a post about hermits and hermitages; I remember it fondly. The irony is that when Corey first met Dallas, we thought that it was so great to have a contact who knew everyone and knew a lot about our property. That boon has become my bane.
Ah me . . . I just need to spend more time writing and practicing my piano, more said than done.
More later. Peace.
*All images are taken from the short movie Elephant’s Dream, which is the world’s first open movie, made entirely using open source graphics software and presented under a Creative Commons license. To see more images or to watch the movie, go to Blender Foundation | www.blender.org
Music by Disturbed (yes, again), “Sound of Silence”
Falling Water (section one)
I drove to Oak Park, took two tours,
And looked at some of the houses.
I took the long way back along the lake.
The place that I came home to—a cavernous
Apartment on the East Side of Milwaukee—
Seems basically a part of that tradition,
With the same admixture of expansion and restraint:
The space takes off, yet leaves behind a nagging
Feeling of confinement, with the disconcerting sense
That while the superficial conflicts got resolved,
The underlying tensions brought to equilibrium,
It isn’t yet a place in which I feel that I can live.
Imagine someone reading. Contemplate a man
Oblivious to his settings, and then a distant person
Standing in an ordinary room, hemmed in by limitations,
Yet possessed by the illusion of an individual life
That blooms within its own mysterious enclosure,
In a solitary space in which the soul can breathe
And where the heart can stay—not by discovering it,
But by creating it, by giving it a self-sustaining
Atmosphere of depth, both in the architecture,
And in the unconstructed life that it contains.
In a late and very brief remark, Freud speculates
That space is the projection of a “psychic apparatus”
Which remains almost entirely oblivious to itself;
And Wright extols “that primitive sense of shelter”
Which can turn a house into a refuge from despair.
I wish that time could bring the future back again
And let me see things as they used to seem to me
Before I found myself alone, in an emancipated state—
Alone and free and filled with cares about tomorrow.
There used to be a logic in the way time passed
That made it flow directly towards an underlying space
Where all the minor, individual lives converged.
The moments borrowed their perceptions from the past
And bathed the future in a soft, familiar light
I remembered from home, and which has faded.
And the voices get supplanted by the rain,
The nights seem colder, and the angel in the mind
That used to sing to me beneath the wide suburban sky
Turns into dreamwork and dissolves into the air,
While in its place a kind of monument appears,
Magnificent in isolation, compromised by proximity
And standing in a small and singular expanse—
As though the years had been a pretext for reflection,
And my life had been a phase of disenchantment—
As the faces that I cherished gradually withdraw,
The reassuring settings slowly melt away,
And what remains is just a sense of getting older.
In a variation of the parable, the pure of heart
Descend into a kingdom that they never wanted
And refused to see. The homely notions of the good,
The quaint ideas of perfection swept away like
Adolescent fictions as the real forms of life
Deteriorate with manically increasing speed,
The kind man wakes into a quiet dream of shelter,
And the serenity it brings—not in reflection,
But in the paralyzing fear of being mistaken,
Of losing everything, of acquiescing in the
Obvious approach (the house shaped like a box;
The life that can’t accommodate another’s)—
As the heart shrinks down to tiny, local things.
Tuesday afternoon, partly cloudy and another beautiful spring day, 80 degrees.
Trying to make phone calls and take care of items on my to-do list, only to come up against dropped signals and uncooperative reps and . . . bleh . . . so now I’m outside in the sunshine, surrounded by the animals, getting nibbled on by insects, and my blood pressure thanks me.
This was the post that I had planned to put up last Tuesday but never got around to doing. Admittedly, I’m not a big Disturbed fan as they tend to be harder and louder than I can handle most of the time, but I came across the live version of this song, and it was just too good to pass up. Then I found the studio version, and I decided that both deserved a place.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about the role that media stars have in society, but I must acknowledge just how effective many can be when they decide to shine a light on a problem, whether that problem be hunger, or a particular disease, or natural disaster relief, what have you. I’m old enough to remember the Jerry Lewis telethons for muscular dystrophy, and I made my first charity pledge when I was around 10 as the result of watching a telethon for hurricane relief.
The causes addressed by “A Reason to Fight” are addiction and depression, which might seem like an odd pairing, but not especially. Many people become addicted to mood-altering substances as a result of depression or other mental disorders, choosing non-prescription drugs as a means of coping. And far too many individuals are lost to either or both of these afflictions each day.
I hope you enjoy either or both videos.
More later. Peace.
Music by Disturbed, “A Reason to Fight” (Official live version)
“A Reason to Fight” (Official music video)
I am not your mother, I will not be moved
by the grief or gratitude of men
who weep like orphans at my door.
I am not a church. I do not answer
prayers but I never turn them down.
Come in and kneel or sit or stand,
the burden of your weight won’t lessen
no matter the length of your admission.
Tell me anything you want, I have to listen
but don’t expect me to respond
when you tell me you have lost your job
or that your wife has found another love
or that your children took their laughter
to another town. You feel alone and empty?
Color me surprised! I didn’t notice they were gone.
Despite the row of faces pinned like medals
to my walls, I didn’t earn them.
The scratches on the wood are not my scars.
If there’s a smell of spices in the air
blame the trickery of kitchens
or your sad addiction to the yesterdays
that never keep no matter how much you believe
they will. I am not a time capsule.
I do not value pithy things like locks
of hair and milk teeth and ticket stubs
and promise rings—mere particles
of dust I’d blow out to the street if I could
sneeze. Take your high school jersey
and your woman’s wedding dress away
from me. Sentimental hoarding bothers me.
So off with you, old couch that cries
in coins as it gets dragged out to the porch.
Farewell, cold bed that breaks its bones
in protest to eviction or foreclosure or
whatever launched this grim parade
of exits. I am not a pet. I do not feel
abandonment. Sometimes I don’t even see you
come or go or stay behind. My windows
are your eyes not mine. If you should die
inside me I’ll leave it up to you to tell
the neighbors. Shut the heaters off
I do not fear the cold. I’m not the one
who shrinks into the corner of the floor
because whatever made you think
this was a home with warmth isn’t here
to sweet-talk anymore. Don’t look at me
that way, I’m not to blame. I granted
nothing to the immigrant or exile
that I didn’t give a bordercrosser or a native
born. I am not a prize or a wish come true.
I am not a fairytale castle. Though I
used to be, in some distant land inhabited
by dreamers now extinct. Who knows
what happened there? In any case, good
riddance, grotesque fantasy and mirth.
So long, wall-to-wall disguise in vulgar
suede and chintz. Take care, you fool,
and don’t forget that I am just a house,
a structure without soul for those whose
patron saints are longing and despair.
“Our hearts teach us how to fly with wings of pain.” ~ Frank Lima, from “Felonies and Arias of the Heart”
Saturday afternoon, sunny and warmer, 57 degrees.
This afternoon Corey is adding a modified barbed wire to the pasture enclosure so that we can move the goats there. It should keep them in and keep predators out, at least, that’s the intent. I really don’t like barbed wire, and I know that part of that is because of how it looms darkly through the movie Legends of the Fall. Hey, at least I’m being honest.
On Thursday, Corey and I made the trip to Bristol, Tennessee so that I could have an echocardiogram and ultrasound. The echo was to check out a suspected murmur, and the ultrasound was for my thyroid. But as usual, things did not go as planned. I did have the correct day this time, but I did not know that I would have to pay the copay upfront for the ultrasound. While it was only $16.78, I did not have the local bank card with me; Corey had it, so I had to cancel the ultrasound; this was the second time I had to cancel it. However, when I reschedule I might be able to have the test done somewhere closer to home. Here’s hoping.
Anyway, it seems that the echo went fine; the tech said that my heart pictures were “beautiful,” which was about all that she could tell me, of course, because they aren’t allowed to say anything as the test has to be read by a cardiologist. I wasn’t too worried about the murmur as such things are supposedly fairly common, and obviously, it wasn’t something that I’ve had all of my life.
However, years ago, my heart used to click whenever I lay on my side. It did that for a couple of years and then went away. I remember telling some doctor and was told that it was nothing, and since it went away, I never thought about it again until the echo.
“We’ve paid our dues. Our hearts are inscribed with loss after loss.” ~ Luci Tapahonso, from “The Holy Twins”
So after leaving the hospital and while I still had a 3G signal, I tried to call my insurance company to see if I could change my PCP. I’ve tried a couple of times to do so online, but I’ve locked myself out of the account. Turns out, the doctor with whom I have an appointment on Monday isn’t even in network, even though she’s part of the local medical network. It’s all such bullshit. I ate up minutes trying to clarify with the insurance rep, only to find out that the echo that I had just had done wasn’t covered; the urgent care visit that I had when my fingertip was bitten off wasn’t covered either.
I did not wail uncontrollably into the telephone, which was my internal reaction; instead, I just asked the rep to transfer me to tech support, but when she did, I was put on hold. I just didn’t have it in me to stay on hold any longer and eat up valuable minutes just to have the online account unlocked. Frankly, I’d had more than enough stress for one day. I don’t even want to know what my blood pressure was at that point.
I’m keeping the appointment on Monday with the out-of-network PCP because I’ve had such a horrendous time finding competent doctors around here. Apparently, the co-pay will only be $5 instead of $0 for an in-network doctor, so that’s not prohibitive (she says even though we are currently broker than broke and sorely lacking in things like, oh, milk . . . whatever).
“And I knew you, a swelling in the heart, A silence in the heart, the wild wind-blown grass Burning—as the sun falls below the earth— Brighter than a bed of lilies struck by snow.” ~ Brigit Pegeen Kelly, from “Elegy”
In other news, Max and Ruby (the goats) are finally beginning to forage, which they weren’t doing initially. The pair of them are actually very quiet. For some reason, I always thought that goats were loud when they bleat, but I’ve only heard them bleat quietly. Maybe different breeds of goats bleat at different levels. I suppose we shall find out.
Dallas hasn’t been around here since the dog fight. Apparently, the fight frightened him. I’m not complaining as it’s been an unexpected boon for me. It’s been quiet, but that’s not to say that he still doesn’t call Corey frequently for rides to various places or for help, and of course Corey so generously assists..
Speaking of animals, we’ve been dragged into the periphery of a local feud of sorts. Dallas has a nephew who has property on the ridge. This is the same guy whose livestock has been frequently found grazing and roaming on the road in search of food, something we’ve witnesses ever since we rounded a corner and almost hit a horse the first time we came here.
Well apparently this guy had a cow and its calf who wandered onto someone’s property, and the idiot son of the property owner shot the cow, leaving the nursing calf without a mother. Unbelievable. Corey and I heard about it, and I was livid at the ignorance that would make someone think that this was an okay thing to do. I mean, what happened to saying shoo and waving your arms?
It seems that calling the police and suing one another is another local pastime around here, and Dallas and this nephew do not get along. The day after this happened, and to be neighborly, Corey stopped while he was out and asked the guy if he had found the calf yet. The guy hadn’t found the calf, but he had accusations to throw, mentioning Dallas’s name and insinuating that Corey might have something to do with it.
Corey assured him that he knew nothing at all about the situation other than hearing about the cow being shot, and then he drove off. When Corey told me about this, I did not have a good feeling, and Corey described this guy as being incredibly arrogant. Nevertheless, we had hoped that would be the last we would hear of things.
“It’s raining in my heart.” ~ Tim Dlugos, from “Come in from the Rain”
Listen, we moved here to get away from nosy neighbors, petty comments, and city regulations, and we’ve made it a point to mind our own business. We’re friendly, and will wave and say hello, but for the most part, we don’t know or care to know who is doing what to whom at any given time, including the saga of the cow and her calf.
Unfortunately, things did not end there.
Dallas took the cow carcass to his property supposedly to get rid of it, but not quite. And then the next day he and Travis, another neighbor we know, wanted Corey to help them load up the calf. Dallas said that he was going to let the calf nurse on his milk cow. Neither Corey nor I wanted any part of this, but Corey agreed to help round it up but nothing else.
I had real misgivings about all of this and was still really upset about the jackass who murdered the mother cow. Corey helped load the calf and came home. When Dallas and Travis got down the ridge, the police were waiting for them and wanted to know where they were taking the calf. Smooth talker that he thinks he is, Dallas said that they had found the calf and were returning it to his nephew. The cops had them unload the calf and then let them go.
That night, Dallas said that around 1 a.m. he heard horns honking, and he went out to find his nephew’s horses in the road. Dallas said that he rounded up the horses and put them in his pasture for the night and then went back to bed. The next morning, the local cops showed up with a warrant (kind of fishy, the timing of that), claiming that Dallas had stolen his nephew’s horses. Corey happened to be at Dallas’s at the time. They took Dallas in, and said that he’d be released that afternoon.
“She treats the dark like a cathedral. She is all swallow, the heart working under every scale to outgrow a fortified spiral.
The cathedral swallows the heart.” ~ Amber Flora Thomas, from “Shed”
This whole situation is unbelievable, but that’s not the end. That night, one of Dallas’s RV campers was set on fire. Dallas sometimes sleeps in this particular camper, which is behind his house and on the edge of his property; fortunately, he didn’t happen to be in it on this particular night.
Now Dallas is talking about getting his lawyer involved, and he still has to go to court over the horses, and his nephew has apparently moved his horses and cows somewhere else. I’m just hoping that wherever he has relocated his livestock, that he takes better care of them and feeds them better because they were always breaking out and wandering in the road looking for areas in which to graze.
All in all, I’m really over all of this. These people around here need to find better ways to spend their time and leave us out of it. I know that it’s a small-town mentality to be up in everyone else’s business, but seriously? WTF, people?
I had thought that my old neighbors on Benjamin were busy bodies, but they were small time compared to these people. I’m just glad that we had already been pulling back in our dealings with Dallas. The whole “painted by the same brush” mentality apparently applies: if you associate with someone, then obviously you are guilty by association.
Give me a break.If this is how it’s going to be, then perhaps my decision to become a hermit has not been ill-founded after all.
More later. Peace.
I lied a little. There are things I don’t want to tell you. How lonely
I am today and sick at heart. How the rain falls steadily and cold
on a garden grown greener, more lush and even less tame. I
haven’t done much, I confess, to contain it. The grapevine, as
usual, threatens everything in its path, while the raspberry canes,
aggressive and abundant, are clearly out of control. I’m afraid the
wildflowers have taken over, being after all the most hardy and
tolerant of shade and neglect. This year the violets and lilies of
the valley are rampant, while the phlox are about to emit their
shocking pink perfume. Oh, my dear, had you been here this
spring, you would have seen how the bleeding hearts are thriving.
~ Madelon Sprengnether (from Angel of Duluth)
Music by Jane Olivor, “Come in from the Rain” (a favorite song from my past)
“This is how I live Up here and simply” ~ from “I Live Up Here”
I am quite late in acknowledging the passing of a wonderful American poet, so I decided to post this today instead of my usual Friday leftovers.
Poet W. S. Merwin died on the anniversary of my mother’s birthday, March 15, 2019. He was 91. U. S. Poet Laureate from 2010 to 2011, Merwin won numerous awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes and a National Book Award in 2005. Merwin was an incredibly prolific writer who published almost three dozen volumes of poetry, essays, short fiction, and memoirs. He was also known for his translations of Dante and Pablo Neruda, as well as other poets. Merwin’s poems, which often dealt thematically with moments in time and passing time, were devoid of punctuation and predominantly spare, though still poignant and powerful. I remember that one of my favorite poems was about the grey whale, “For a Coming Extinction.”
A passionate student and admirer of the natural world, Merwin devoted many years to personal conservation efforts on his former pineapple plantation in Hawaii, on which he planted thousands of palms, as well as numerous other natural species of flora.
But perhaps my favorite bit of trivia about the poet is that he refused to answer the telephone. God, I love that and can completely relate. In case you haven’t heard it from me enough, I hate the telephone, and only use it (when it works) to make and cancel appointments. Otherwise, I ignore it.
For a lovely remembrance of Merwin, see poetry editor Kevin Young’s essay in The New Yorker. Also, you may want to visit The Merwin Conservancy here. Below I am including his 2005 poem about fellow poet John Berryman, under whom he studied at Princeton.
I will tell you what he told me
in the years just after the war
as we then called
the second world war
don’t lose your arrogance yet he said
you can do that when you’re older
lose it too soon and you may
merely replace it with vanity
just one time he suggested
changing the usual order
of the same words in a line of verse
why point out a thing twice
he suggested I pray to the Muse
get down on my knees and pray
right there in the corner and he
said he meant it literally
it was in the days before the beard
and the drink but he was deep
in tides of his own through which he sailed
chin sideways and head tilted like a tacking sloop
he was far older than the dates allowed for
much older than I was he was in his thirties
he snapped down his nose with an accent
I think he had affected in England
as for publishing he advised me
to paper my wall with rejection slips
his lips and the bones of his long fingers trembled
with the vehemence of his views about poetry
he said the great presence
that permitted everything and transmuted it
in poetry was passion
passion was genius and he praised movement and invention
I had hardly begun to read
I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can’t
you can’t you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don’t write