“I am interested in impossible embodiments. I wish to write; I wish to write about certain things that cannot be held. I want to create a sea of freely-flowing words of no definite form and shape waves of fluent exactness.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from Passionate Apprentice: The Early Journals, 1897-1909

                   

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“First of the Light” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Peter Wileman

“I live my own life and nurse my own wounds. It’s not the best way to live. But it’s the way I am.” ~ Jeffrey Eugenides, from Middlesex

Early Wednesday evening. Cloudy, 56 degrees.

Last night I had a cousin dream again. At first, we were in a high school, and we heard shooting, so two of us hid in a classroom beneath a science fair project. I thought it was a stupid place to hide. The gunman came into the room and just stood there. I tried not to breathe.

Peter Wileman Dawn over the Estuary 24 x 30 oil on canvas main
“Dawn over the Estuary” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Peter Wileman

Then somehow we got away, and then we were on a ship, and the ship was constructed so that all of the decks opened onto the middle of the ship, which was a swimming pool, and I thought about jumping from the third deck down into the pool but then decided against it, especially after these figures in white robes began to round up all of the people in the pool. The robed people didn’t have faces. Then it was time to eat, but there wasn’t any food except for pears.

Then the scene changed and Corey and I were on some wildlife preserve on an island, and we had no idea how big the preserve was, and we were walking on these trails, and suddenly I was attacked by a giant frog that was the size of a small dog, and Corey was running from frogs and foxes. I finally found a map of the island and realized that we were never going to find our way back.

Make of it what you will, I only know that too much was going on, and I was so tired afterwards.

“I’m writing against my own blankness, to record
this life that I’m living mostly lonely
or hopeful.” ~ Nate Pritts, from “All Those Sweet Things”

I’ve had a hard time focusing lately. When I sit down to write, nothing comes. I’m thinking about a million different things: the situation in Steubenville, Ohio, the prevalence of rape culture throughout the world, whether or not what I write here is writing, the idea of privacy in a world filled with technological gadgets that wash away any veneer of privacy to which we might aspire, and how I’m so tired that there actually exists a school of thought that the concept of feminism is just another word for lesbianism.

Peter Wileman Red Horizon
“Red Horizon” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Peter Wileman

Can you understand why I cannot focus? I have so very much to say, so many thoughts bouncing around in my head, but I am as yet unable to focus enough to write intelligently about any of it. Not to mention the whole thing about me having to take care of the bills and make the telephone calls and straighten out why my health insurance was cancelled once again and how that affected my upcoming doctor’s appointments and my medication refills . . . in other words—blech, double blech.

I did get a bit of a boost when I read selected sections of Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Reading these published writers when they talk about how they write always affects me in two ways: At first I am excited, and then I’m depressed, first because what they have to say makes so much sense, then the downside of realizing that the perch from which they speak is one share by that group of writers of which I hold no membership—the published writer who is selling his/her work.

“Over time, the ghosts of things that happened start to turn distant;  once they’ve cut you a couple of million times, their edges blunt on your scar tissue, they wear thin.  The ones that slice like razors forever are the ghosts of things that never got the chance to happen.” ~ Tana French, from Broken Harbor

I also fear that one of my new medications is messing with my head as well as my body. Since I don’t know a lot about Verelan, I looked it up, and of course, I have a host of the side effects, but mostly the ones dealing with stomach upset and pain.

peter-wileman-blue-horizon
“Blue Horizon” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Peter Wileman

Have I mentioned lately how very much I hate medications, doctors, medical tests, the medical industry in general, the medical treatment we receive, ya da ya da ya da? My neighbor’s elderly mother fell a few weeks ago and hit her head. She suffered from dementia. When when she got to the hospital, she must have told them she didn’t have insurance. She did. But the hospital was quick to do a CT scan and then send her home. Her son did not think she should be sent home. Then he noticed that her  discharge papers said self-pay. He called to straighten out the insurance problem. Meanwhile, she got very sick at home, wouldn’t eat, and ended up having a fatal stroke.

The MRI was not done on her until the second time she was taken in, and by then, it was really too late. She was 95. I would see her out in her yard pulling weeds. She talked to anyone who would listen. When her son tried to tell the hospital people that his mother was definitely not acting normally, they told him that they found no problems with the CT scan and insisted on discharging her.

I suppose I am lucky. I am still cogent and ornery enough that I insist on knowing what’s going on with my treatment. I won’t be ignored. But the stress of fighting for inherent rights as a patient certainly does not add to overall well-being.

“It is this backward motion toward the source,
Against the stream, that most we see ourselves in,
The tribute of the current to the source.
It is from this in nature we are from.
It is most us.” ~ Robert Frost, from “West Running Brook”

And then there are the raccoons. I know that I’ve mentioned them before, how Corey thought they were cute. Well . . . they are not huge, and they are doing terribly non-cute things like eating bags of dry dog food and opening the tubs in which we store chips and bread. Not cute, definitely not cute. These things are so fat that it sounds as if they are going to come crashing through the ceiling. Something has to be done. I have a solution but not the means by which to implement it.

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“Evening Falls over the Estuary” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Peter Wileman

And then there is the dry rot. I know in my heart of hearts we have dry rot forming beneath our bathroom because of the leaky tub. Corey doesn’t like to go beneath the house, and I don’t blame him, but if we don’t do some shoring up soon, one day I’m going to be in the shower and the whole bathtub is going to fall through the floor. Of course I will be the one in the tub when it happens because that is my own personal Murphy’s Law at work.

I know. I know. Bitch, bitch, bitch, but really, my head feels as if it’s going to explode from all of the worrying that I’m doing over these things—large and small. Add to this, of course, my ongoing worries about eldest son and his total and complete lack of direction in life as well as his significant drinking, my worries about youngest son and what he’s going to do with his life, worries about daughter and her continued withdrawal, worries about my mother who seems to be in the initial throes of Alzheimer’s.

It’s too much, I tell you. Too much.

“I am the shore and the ocean, awaiting myself on both sides.” ~ Dejan Stojanovic, from The Shape

And at times such as these I think longingly of that other generation of writers, the ones who subsisted on booze and cigarettes, the ones who never seemed to care how much or how little money they had, and still they pressed on, putting their words down on paper, sending them out, getting published, being read. I think of Carson McCullers and her penchant for drinking bourbon for breakfast, and a wee small part of me wishes that I could live with such abandon, but of course, I cannot because, well because that’s just not a healthy way to live, and I know that I couldn’t do that to myself.

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“Violet Horizon” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Peter Wileman

Two weird memories came to me in the car on the way home from taking Brett to campus today (will he ever learn to drive???). I heard the song “Closing Time,” which I heard for the first time many years ago when I was on a blind date with a firefighter. A teacher with whom I taught at the public school was married to a firefighter, and he had a friend who was looking for someone to date. Natch, a blind date was arranged. He was a very nice man, soft-spoken, attractive, and I felt absolutely no attraction to him whatsoever. I couldn’t wait for the night to be over, and I didn’t give him my telephone number. Of course, my automatic guilt mechanism kicked in and I wondered if I should have given him a chance, but I held firm.

The second memory came immediately after when the song “Come My Lady” came on the radio, and it was one of the first songs to which Corey and I danced, and he has always called me his butterfly. If I had gone on a second date with the firefighter, would I have ever made it to the point at which another man would call me his butterfly? Thankfully, I don’t really have to worry about that one.

More later. Peace.

All images by British painter Peter Wileman, President of the Royal Institute of Oil Pointers.

Music by Erin McCarley, “What I Needed”

                   

Words

Be careful of words,
even the miraculous ones.
For the miraculous we do our best,
sometimes they swarm like insects
and leave not a sting but a kiss.
They can be as good as fingers.
They can be as trusty as the rock
you stick your bottom on.
But they can be both daisies and bruises.Yet I am in love with words.
They are doves falling out of the ceiling.
They are six holy oranges sitting in my lap.
They are the trees, the legs of summer,
and the sun, its passionate face.

Yet often they fail me.
I have so much I want to say,
so many stories, images, proverbs, etc.
But the words aren’t good enough,
the wrong ones kiss me.
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
but with the wings of a wren.

But I try to take care
and be gentle to them.
Words and eggs must be handled with care.
Once broken they are impossible
things to repair.

~ Anne Sexton

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“I never knew what was meant by choice of words. It was one word or none.” ~ Robert Frost

Waterfield Booksellers, UK

                   

“How far, how far we’ve come
together, tumbling like stars
in harness or alone.” ~ David Malouf, from “Stars”

Tuesday early evening. Sunny and warm, not humid.

Corey is still here. The ship’s radar is out of commission, and they are awaiting parts. Tentative day of departure is Thursday. I’m not complaining. Even though he’s working weird hours ( 4 a.m. to 10 a.m., back at 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., which is a little better than the 11:45 p.m. to 10 a.m. he worked for two days), it’s nice just to be able to sleep next to him. I’ve missed that, as have the puppies.

Cafebreria El Pendulo, Mexico City, Mexico

The past three or four days have been pretty bad for me physically. I think that I’m having a bout with my fibromyalgia as all of my joints hurt, and I am extremely fatigued. Yesterday and today I have gotten quite dizzy if I stay on my feet for too long. I have felt this coming on since mid last week, but was really hoping to avoid any down time while Corey is home.

Alexis’s shower at her friend’s house was Sunday, and it was really lovely, but I was completely exhausted afterwards. I told her that she really has a nice extended family and group of friends. Her father and his girlfriend went in with the evil stepgrandmother and bought her crib, mattress, and changing table. I was genuinely surprised by the extravagance. I suppose his girlfriend is a good influence on him. Must say that I’m disappointed, though, as I didn’t think that anyone would buy it, which would allow Corey and me to give it to them.

Oh well. She needs plenty of other things. I’m planning my shower for June 10. I need to print and mail the invitations, but I need ink cartridges. Always something.

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

As I’m typing this, I’m on hold with the IRS. It’s been 16 minutes so far of really bad hold music, same four or five chords over and over, with a little bongo drum thrown in for rhythm, I suppose. Can I just tell you how utterly disheartening it is to (a) call the IRS in the first place, and then (b) have to clarify something that I’m 99 percent certain I did not do wrong.

Selexyz Bookstore (a converted Dominican church)
Maastricht, Holland

Bureaucracy—it’s what runs this country, and it is the bane of my existence. After my call to the IRS, I still need to call Sentara to set up payment arrangements for my ER visit back in the winter because, oh, there’s that pesky thing called a deductible, plus 20 percent of major medical, bringing me to a grand total of almost $1400 for five hours in the emergency room, during which time they did an x-ray and listened to my chest and did little else.

But we don’t need nationalized healthcare. Oh no. That would be socialism. Egads. How abhorrent.

Actually, these aren’t the rantings of someone who is taking a political stand, just the comments of a tired consumer. I get it coming and going, my health insurance payments each month, the outrageous deductibles, the endless paperwork and telephone calls . . . I hate telephone calls to nameless customer service representatives who, almost to a person, hate their jobs and pass on that dissatisfaction with their treatment of the callers.

(Update: The first woman with whom I spoke at the IRS was a peach. I take back everything I said . . . of course, I’m on hold again . . .)

“I put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much.” ~ Sandra Cisneros, The House On Mango Street

Yesterday I spent most of the day in bed, which gets to me as I’m thinking about the things that aren’t getting done—the laundry, the trip to the grocery store, the dishes. And Tillie is not liking my down time either as it means that I am not taking her out for our usual game of stick.

Barter Books, Alnwick, UK

Speaking of dogs, and I was, Alexis and Mike got a . . . wait for it . . . puppy. That’s right, two months before the baby is due they got a puppy. Madness, I tell you, utter madness. Her name is Roxi, and she’s a Chihuahua and Jack Russell mix, which means that she’s a tiny yip yip dog and absolutely adorable. Apparently someone in Mike’s family had a litter of puppies the last time they were visiting in Mississippi, and the two of them expressed an interest. Someone took them seriously, and when the family (Mike’s) came into town for the joint wedding reception and shower, they brought the puppy.

We are withholding this little tidbit from my mother as she will quite likely go ballistic over the news. You got a puppy and you don’t have a house! You got a puppy and you’re having a baby! Ya da ya da ya da ad infinitum . . .

It hurts my ears just thinking about the things she would say.

“All the words I collect are artifacts of sentiments that do not exist and could not even be conceived of again—ideas that once desperately needed to be expressed disappear, leaving husks of language that I save, I care for.” ~ Alice Bolin, from “I Sometimes Really Feel That Way”

Livraria Lello, Portugal

Last night I had one of those dreams that, while I was dreaming it, I thought that it would make a good story. I made a point of trying to remember the dream so that I could turn it into a story. Of course, when I thought about the dream, it made no sense, and would certainly not translate well into a story. Why does my brain do that: assemble stories in my dreams, convince my subconscious that, “Hey, this is great. You must remember it”? But then when my conscious mind remembers, it is never what I had thought it was.

I do love the way that my mind creates while I sleep, but I just wish that the dream words, the dream scenarios actually were translatable. Does that make sense? I do end up feeling as if I’m holding empty husks after having one of these episodes: Hooray, creative mind at work. No wait, sleeping mind at work. Things such as logic, linear thought, character development are nonexistent. Wake up with nothing……….

(Another update: Second person with whom I spoke at IRS was even nicer than first. I take back all of the customer service insults.)

“The boon of language is not tenderness. All that it holds, it holds with exactitude and without pity, even a term of endearment; the word is impartial: the usage is all. The boon of language is that potentially it is complete, it has the potentiality of holding with words the totality of human experience — everything that has occurred and everything that may occur. It even allows space for the unspeakable.” ~ John Berger, from And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos

So today’s post, albeit rambling and totally without substance, was initially supposed to deal with language and words. I don’t know where my focus went. Perhaps the bongos drummed it from my brain. I do know that it’s been ages and ages since I spent hours wandering around a bookstore. Hence, the images.

Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France

I keep thinking about that Marcus Zusak quote: “I have hated words and I have loved them,” which pretty much sums up my life. Words are everything to me, but at times, they are painful. They elude me, they tease me, they wound me. I use words to inform, to woo, and to wound, if I am to be completely honest.

Corey and I have exchanged our journals for the new trip. My journal is filled with banal words about my day, about the kids, about the dogs. But I hope that he sees beneath the banality of my words, sees to the heart of my meaning, to the heart of intent. I hope that when he reads my words, that he knows how much of myself is within them. That as I write about something inane and mundane, I am telling him how much I care. And that as I write about seeming nothingness, I am weighting each word with the expanse of the four chambers of my heart.

More later. Peace.

Music by Sparklehorse, “Eyepennies”

                   

Drinking Like a Fish

Though blue at a distance,
the surface is clear
as gin with a tension
that can bob you like
an ice cube. What
you really want, though,
is to float below
in chartreuse light,
to glide through tonic bubbles
above the swaying kelp,
borne along on currents, while
your heavy body, stranded
on land, still stumbles
and gasps. This
is your true element,
where predators
ignore the pinstripe
of the inedible.
You’re even
a Pisces.

Deeper and deeper
you go, to the bottom,
fin silt that swirls
like bourbon in branch water
to darken the gloom
where things with gelatin
wings glow blue
as a gas flame.
And this is where
you want to live
forever—to grow so
transparent, so fragile,
even the weight of the sea
cannot crush you.

~ William Greenway

“We are always ripe and ready to be taken.” ~ Charles Bukowski

Old Boat Near Clifden, Ireland, by afslag7 (FCC)

                   

“Being a somewhat dark person myself, I fell in love with the idea that the mysterious thing you look for your whole life will eventually eat you alive.” ~ Laurie Anderson, Notes on Melville’s Moby Dick

Monday late afternoon. Party cloudy and cool. Lovely

Old Boat, China, by oceanaris (FCC)

I had the most horrendous nightmare this morning, and of course, I awoke with a migraine. Actually, what I awoke with was spots, a harbinger of a migraine. I took my medication, and at the moment, the pain is in my left eye.

I dreamed about this crazy man named Viktor (I don’t know why I know that it’s spelled like that, but it is). I was in a beauty supply store looking at combs and nail polish. I remember that I was looking for a particular shade of Revlon lipstick, and I was pondering the purchase of a yellow comb (?). The bad guy came in with two women and one other man, and apparently, I offended him by something that I said. He started to rant at me. Other things happened that I cannot remember. Something about a former Navy Seal tackling him so that he couldn’t kill everyone in the store.

Cut to new scene: I ran into a grocery store to get away from him. When I came out, I noticed a fracas in the parking lot, so I walked over. He was lying there with one of his legs cut off. The leg was about 20 feet from him. Somehow I knew that I had to keep him from getting to his leg or he would be able to put himself back together and come after me again.

More fuzzy details. I awoke panting. Really hate dreams like that.

Later Corey told me about his dreams, and there were men with knives in his dream too. Weird, huh?

“. . . the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.” ~ Robert Frost, from “Acquainted with the Night”

Wednesday afternoon. Absolutely beautiful blue skies, low 70’s.

Old Boat, Spain, by piltri (FCC)

Monday just wasn’t cutting it as far as having something worthwhile to say plus I had things around the house that I needed to take care of, and then yesterday, we had electrical problems, so here I am, 48 hours later.

When I drove Brett and Em to school this morning, it felt more like a spring morning than a fall one. I had the sunroof open, and I kept hearing birdsong each time I stopped. The long pants and hoodies that were on campus just a few days ago were replaced by shorts. I know that a lot of students from up north come to ODU because it’s considered a beach school, what a hoot. Well, it is definitely warmer that upstate New York, but I used to love the kids who came to class in shorts and sandals all winter long, as if to say, “Winter? This is not winter.

Today reminded me of that.

This week the annual literary festival is going on at ODU. I looked at the schedule, and I have to say that it was pretty unimpressive. The lit festival used to be such a big deal, drawing names from all over the country. I remember seeing Mary Oliver one year before she changed her style drastically and got much more mainstream. Then there was the year that Carolyn Forché read. She had a big impact on me.

The great thing about being on faculty was being able to meet all of these writers, talking to them in a casual setting after the readings. I really miss that. The bad thing about the literary festival was that I could pretty much count on its timing to coincide with my fall cold. It never failed to happen.

“Everybody’s born with some different thing at the core of their existence. And that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everybody else. But sometimes it gets out of hand. It swells or shrinks inside me, and it shakes me up. What I’d really like to do is find a way to communicate that feeling to another person.” ~ Haruki Murakami

Old Boat, Norway, by magnethy (FCC)

Yesterday I read a book by Ian Rankin, one of my favorite authors. his Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel (pronounced Dee-ell) is such a finely crafted character, the kind of character that aspiring writers envy. He is complex and multilayered, irreverent and serious. I haven’t read all of the Dalziel and Pascoe books in the series, and one day I hope to get my hands on the ones I haven’t read and read them through chronologically. That would be lovely.

I fear that this computer is truly on its last legs, which is painful for me as its demise means the end of computer access for me until I can get my new hard drive installed on my computer. But each time I begin to write on this one, I never know if the damned thing is going to lock up on me or give me a blue screen or a black screen. There is definitely too much junk on the hard drive, but that comes from having three different people share the computer.

I’m on the third or fourth day of this particular migraine, can’t remember. It’s settled mostly into my right eye, which means that the afternoon sunshine that streams through Eamonn’s window that I usually love is causing me great discomfort at the moment. I’ve adapted by typing with my eyes partially closed. It sort of works.

I really want to call that nurse at the neurologist’s office and say “Hey! I’m on the third day of this particular migraine. Does this count?” But I’m not going to. Instead I’ve decided to see if any other neurologist’s in the area treat migraineurs (such a cool name for such a horrid thing) with Botox.

“This is the poem of the air,
Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Snow-Flakes

Old Boat and Point Wilson Lighthouse, Washington State, by KellBailey (FCC)

When I was a child, Longfellow was one of the first poets I read, him and Robert Louis Stevenson. My dad bought me A Child’s Garden of Verses, and I carried that book with me everywhere. I wonder whatever became of it . . .

Then, believe it or not, I got my hands on some poetry compilation with a yellow cover. Odd the details you remember. My favorite poem in the book was by Shakespeare:

Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip’s bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.

I memorized it and recited it to myself in kind of a sing-song. Who knew that it was from The Tempest? Who cared? I remember singing this to myself when we were in the Philippines. I didn’t really have any friends, so I would go out in the tiny front yard of our apartment and sit under the mango tree and sing to myself.

These memories just came to me, not really certain as to why.

“This pain, this dying, this is just normal. This is how life is. In fact, I realize, there never was an earthquake. Life is just this way, broken, and I am crazy for dreaming of something else.” ~ Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You

 

 

Old Boat at Sunset, UK, by Dorcas Sinclair (Wikimedia Commons)

When my dad retired from the Navy, he took us to the Philippines. Of course, my mother did not want to go. I remember huge rows over what we were going to do, and I remember my mother threatening to take me away. God the fights they had were nasty.

Anyway, we did go to the Philippines, where we lived for about six months or so. We started out in my dad’s village of Gapan, which is on the island of Luzon. It really was a village, dirt roads, water from wells, ice from ice trucks. Then we got an apartment in Quezon City. I hated the apartment because at least in Gapan I had cousins that I could play with.

I remember that during the rainy season, it began to flood, and my mom and the two relatives who lived with us had to open the back and front doors and just let the water run through the apartment. In the meantime, my dad had gone back to the village for someone’s funeral. He was on a bus with one of my uncle’s, I think, and the bus got stuck on a bridge and began to fill with water. My dad got a cramp in his leg, and his brother helped to get him off the bus.

Scary stuff, but for me it was a grand adventure, sitting on the staircase (we had two floors) and watching the furniture float out the door. Soon after, we came back to the states. My grand adventure resulted in pneumonia in both of my lungs and hospitalization, which, for my mother, was the last straw. I’ve never been back.

I really don’t know where these memories are coming from, the part about my dad getting a leg cramp? I had completely forgotten about that.

“I wanted to feel the blood running back into my veins, even at the cost of annihilation.” ~ Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn

Old boat on Càrna overlooking Caol Chàrna, Scotland (Wikimedia Commons)

My mother called me the other day. She wants me to go to the funeral home with her so that she can plan her funeral. Her logic? That she doesn’t want us to have to go through that when she dies. She doesn’t want a viewing. She doesn’t want a service. I don’t even know if she’ll let us have a graveside service.

My mother is really quite morbid. At the same time, she has this great fear of death and the dead. I know that a lot of this stems from her being so young when her own mother died, eight, I think. In those days, the dead person’s body was kept at home. She still remembers seeing her death mother. I think that it scarred her; actually, I know it.

She hates funerals, refuses to go. I’m amazed that she did the whole viewing and service thing for my dad. Probably because I was with her when she made the plans. I was equally amazed that she went to my m-in-law’s service, but I know that she did it because there was no body there, just ashes.

The whole concept that funerals and memorial services are for those left behind doesn’t mean anything to my mother because she doesn’t think that way. She’s thinking about how she feels about death, so those of us who might want to attend a memorial service for her are basically SOL.

So I told her I would go with her to this place to make the arrangements that she wants. I so hate this. She got really, really morbid right after my dad died, looking for containers to put her ashes in because she wanted to be cremated. Now the cremation’s out, and she’s back to being consumed with making preparations for her own death. Is everyone in my family insane? Probably.

Is it any wonder that I keep a constant headache?

More later. Peace.

Music by The Cure, “Something More than This”

                   
October, An Elegy

The whole month of October
is an elegy, a used book store
getting rained on.  This weather
makes me read endings first.  Partings
and farewells, the way we’re baffled, startled
when happiness falls.  Let me tell you something about darkness, though,
because there’s been enough about light.  But first
about the handwritten poem copied out in the back
of a Rilke translation.  It begins with beloved,
I’m tempted to tell you, or with rest,
and is written in the kind of couplets that are made
for each other, lines with stories of how they first met,
and I’m tempted to say that after I read it, light didn’t matter,
nor darkness, that poetry somehow gathers
them both into one word.  O, how often we are baffled,
startled by our own happiness.  I read the poem
and kept its last three unresolved lines:  our
line break hearts.  There is a pause always around the word
heart, the history
of leaving, the small right-angled scars of loss.  Another line break
then into, a space, then the words:  like small trees.  We are made up
of small trees, limbs that reach for each other, forest
of longing, root systems of light, small blossoms of darkness
and there is a poem handwritten after pages of Rilke and, after Rilke,
how can our hearts be anything but small trees.  The book was used.  The lines
unresolved.  It was raining so I sat in the store and read
the ending first.  Here happiness falls, sometimes
the only difference between our
and hearts is a line break after a long elegy.  This is the season that begins
by ending.  The space between light
and darkness is unresolved
as the space between our hearts
and small trees.  Beloved, rest.  It’s true.  I read the ending first
but I kept reading it until I got all the way back
to the beginning.

~ Sue Goyette, from Undone

“It is the bruises that allow us to recognize the value of the discovery.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

Those Who Dance . . .*

                   

“Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.” ~ Robert Frost

Sunday afternoon. Chilly and cloudy.

Surf Near Eyries on the Beara Peninsula, Ireland

I awoke with a migraine, this after not falling asleep until well after 4 a.m. Not the best night.

I dreamed about a neighbor’s yard sale in which couches of all kinds were spread across the lawn for sale. As I moved among the couches, I began to encounter pianos of all ages and in various states. Most of the couches were ugly, and most of the pianos were beautiful. It was a strange dream.

Corey is just coming off a double shift (16 hours straight), so I imagine that he will be going to bed after spending a little time playing with Tillie. All three dogs had baths yesterday so that we could administer flea medicine before fleas become a problem; living so near a marsh, fleas abound in this area. Shakes always has the worst time with any kind of biting insect, but today he is already noticeably scratching less.

I have two upcoming doctors’ appointments this week, but I will have to postpone both as the input of cash did not stretch far enough for the output demands. Hate it when that happens.

And yes, I will freely admit it: I watched the royal nuptials, and realized a few things: I am old enough to remember the wedding between Diana and Charles (hated that dress), and the princes being born, and the new Duchess’s dress had the same Queen Anne neckline and Chantilly lace that my first wedding dress had. Was she retro, or was I ahead of my time?

“Today I’m mixed up, like someone who thought something and grasped it, then lost  it.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

Peak

So I haven’t really moved beyond this downturn in my mood, and the fact that this computer is really acting up today is not helping anything. For example, the poem excerpt that I have included below—I’m searching on key lines to find the title of the poem, not just the title of the book, but I’m getting absolutely nowhere. I hope that I am able to post without going through hours of aggravation. I suppose I will just have to wait and see what happens.

I think that part of it is that I’m having lots of work dreams again, and in these dreams my consciousness always interrupts and says you can’t be working because you’re on disability. I’ve done this again and again in my dreams: gone back to one of my former jobs, not told anyone that I was on disability, lost my benefits. It happened again last night.

And then I remember all of those years while I was working, and I wished so badly that I didn’t have to work so that I would have the time to write. Yep. See how that’s working out for me?

Do I even know what I’m saying? Probably not.

Mother’s day is coming up, and to be truthful, I’m approaching it with a sense of dread, a sense that something is going to happen. You see, several years ago after Alexis graduated and before she was dating Mike, she spent about half a year living with various friends, sometimes sleeping in her car because she didn’t want to have to follow any rules.

Then when Mother’s Day came, and I was certain that I wouldn’t hear from her, I came home and found a long letter from her in which she apologized for how she had been acting. I called her and asked her to come back home. I don’t want one of those letters this year, mostly because I don’t want to have to react, don’t know how I would react.

This whole situation gives me such angst. If I can keep myself from dwelling on it, I find that I am better.

“A room is, after all, a place where you hide from the wolves.  That’s all any room is.” ~ Jean Rhys, from Good Morning, Midnight, 1939

Surf Running: Oregon Coast Storm November 2009

I’ve been thinking about Belgium. Don’t know why really other than it seems that it would be a lovely place to live or at least, to visit, near France without being in France. Of course, I know nothing about Belgium other than what I see in pictures.

Do you know what I really want at this moment? I want windows. How very boring of me, right? You see, our windows are very old storm windows, and most of the screens are gone or torn, which means that opening windows on a day such as today is worthless; the lack of screens means that all kinds of flying critters could come in. Not being able to open the windows means that I cannot sit on my bed and read while enjoying a fresh breeze.

I used to love morning breezes that made the curtains sway ever so slightly, the scents from the roses and the jasmine wafting in subtly on the breeze. I miss that.

It’s such a simple thing; I know, but I miss many simple things. I miss our drives to the Outer Banks when the boys were young, how we would spend Sundays on the beach, climbing the dunes, having dinner and then driving home tired and sandy. Of course, I miss the boys being boys and not the young men they are now, with their own lives, their own favorite things to do that have nothing to do with me or Corey.

I miss so much and so little that it’s hard to discern between the two. Is my longing to be back in front of a classroom a small or a big thing? My dreams of pianos, which I have been having of late, do they signify my longing to get back to playing Chopin and Beethoven, or is it just the idea of sitting at the piano that I miss?

I miss friendship on a daily basis, friendship with Mari, our lunches together at the cafeteria, sitting in her back yard in the Adirondack chairs, drinking tea or Lime Rickeys, talking about everything.

I miss: such a powerful phrase, loaded with meaning and intent.

“And more and more my language appears to me like a veil which  one has to tear apart in order to get to those things (or the nothingness) lying behind it.” ~ Samuel Beckett, The Letters

No Fear

So many words, so many possible interpretations.

When Corey and I first married, we had such plans to do so many things. Some of them we have done, yet so many are yet to be realized. Our tenth anniversary is in two weeks. We’ve been together eleven years. But the reality is that the past three years have been to a great extent years of being on hold, waiting for circumstances to change, to get better, so that we can . . . fill in the blank here.

Life on hold isn’t living, not really. And I fear that both of us have become so used to living this way that we have become gun shy, hesitant to bank on too much for fear of yet again being unable to make the dream a reality. This isn’t living; it’s existing, and that isn’t how it was supposed to be.

So many things beyond our control on which to affix the blame, and then how much of the blame is ours? I fear that we have become inured to hardship, so much so that we have begun to forget how to dream. That saddens me more than I can begin to express.

I know that I wear my heart upon my sleeve; that is quite obvious by the things that I write here, that I put out into the ether for general consumption. I have always been this way, but that’s not to say that it is a good thing as I know that it can be painful, that it can feed that pain. This is why I chose the particular passage that I did to accompany this post: at times, I am like Hamlet: both melancholy and in need of vengeance, the two opposing emotions constantly at battle.

But at times I feel that I am also like Prospero in Shakespeare’s Tempest, stranded on an island for so long that my vision has become occluded, in the midst of a storm of my own creation, with some of my books and a daughter who longs to know who she is. Past is prologue . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by Lizz Wright, “When I Fall”

                   

Do you, like Hamlet, dread the unknown?
But what is known? What do you really
know
Such that you can call anything “unknown”?
Do you, like Falstaff,
love life with all its fat?
If you love it so materially, then love it even
more materially
By becoming a bodily part of the earth and of
things!
Scatter yourself, O physicochemical system
Of nocturnally
conscious cells,
Over the nocturnal consciousness of the unconsciousness of

bodies,
Over the huge blanket of appearances that blankets
nothing,
Over the grass and weeds of proliferating beings,
Over the atomic
fog of things,
Over the whirling walls
Of the dynamic void that’s the
world . . .

~ Fernando Pessoa, from A Little Larger Than the Entire  Universe

                   

*All pictures in this post used with permission from russell.tomlin, whose pictures can also be found on Solitary Vision

“Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.” ~ T. S. Eliot

This one is mine. Apparently, I cannot add an mp3 unless I buy the upgrade. Sorry. If you want to hear my reading, click on the link below. Thanks.

INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE FINALIST

Heart’s Importunate Hunger

What you asked:

         What do you love? 

What I answered:

Moonlight on dark water,
the salty spray of the ocean on my cheeks,
fierce lightning and thunder and
the sonorous sound of the surf
Solitary walks in the summer rain
Overgrown woodland paths and
the earthy scent of fallen leaves and loam
Boxes of old photographs and cards,
dried lavender and rosemary for remembrance,
Bundles of faded letters from old lovers
and glossy images of country cottages
surrounded by wild vines of wisteria and Carolina jasmine
Mozart or Beethoven or Chopin’s etudes,
as the soundtrack to Sunday morning
with cups of strong hot tea
and French bread with butter

            More? 

So much more, yes, cathexis,
yearnings—imaginary and real—
contradictions, assembled, converging—
of what has made me:
The feel of paper beneath my fingers
as I turn the pages, and all of the words
of all the sages who ever lived—
Shakespeare and Tennyson,
Fitzgerald and Anaïs Nin 
Virginia Woolf and the rocks in her pockets
That certain smell just before the first winter snow,
the vapors from a horse’s nostrils on a winter morning
The trumpet of a train that cleaves the night
and torch songs that speak of unrequited longing

            What do you want? 

To fly like the red-winged blackbird,
leaving a narrow flash of crimson in my wake
and to bathe in the Castalian Spring
beneath a beggar’s moon
To sit by the shore in the gloaming
as grey mist descends, cloaking everything
except the plaintive refrain of a fog horn
echoing off the bay

           What do you need?

Truth before a lie
Poesy and prayer, unattainable grace,
solitude and silence, 
unfettered passion and
shameless tears of love and hate
The courage to stray
from what is known, what is certain
and enough faith to abide—
never to become
destiny’s unwitting victim or fate’s fool—
and the constancy to embrace
this confluence of unfulfilled longings.
These things I covet,
—crave as my own             
before the days run down
like a forgotten watch in a drawer.
These things I prefer.

Poem written and read by www.frenzyandlightning.tumblr.com

Photograph “White Moon on Black Water” and its rendering also by www.frenzyandlightning.tumblr.com

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” ~ Robert Frost

 Second finalist. 


in life

I prefer the sun smack bang in my face

I prefer sitting alone in the dark hush before the movie starts

I prefer the downhill whizz of my bicycle and its clattery clack rattle over the place de la concorde

I prefer paradox and oxymoron and the expectation but not more than the experience

I prefer a Sylvia Plath Harvest Moon to a Ted Hughes Owl

I prefer the shipping news

I prefer blithe abandon and

the half truth of love that makes the heart race in slight disbelief

I prefer foreign countries and different languages in my mouth

I prefer the shadows of trees and the detail of leaves

I will always prefer a sing along because of my father and his guitar

I prefer not guessing who you are

I prefer the ambiguity that makes you all so beautiful

I prefer the tingle of not knowing not knowing at all

I infinitely prefer beginnings the scream of what may be

I prefer wanting everything even more than this life can give me and waiting to see

Poem written and read by www.thisonewildandpreciouslife.tumblr.com

“[Writing is] like standing on the edge of a cliff. This is especially true of the first draft. Every day you’re making up the earth you’re going to stand on.” ~ Peter Carey

INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE FINALIST

Here is the first of the four finalists. I am reprinting them in the same order in which A Poet Reflects post them. Unfortunately, I was unable to figure out how to copy the mp3’s of each poet reading his/her work. Click on the link above to go to the original posting and to hear the mp3.

Contours of the Heart

I prefer the late and lonely hours of the night
to the bustling hours of the day,
for in the quiet dreaming hours,
the hushed thoughts of the heart surface.

I prefer the quiet clarity of sipping on simmering tea
to the bold clamor of coffee upon the tastebuds.

I prefer small rooms to grand palaces,
simple celebrations of everyday wonder
to extravagant fanfare.

I prefer a blue sky of clouds to a night sky of stars,
though both sing to me of freedom and wonder.

I prefer solitude, even the ache of loneliness,
to following the aimless crowd.
I prefer to be true, I prefer to be different.

I prefer the sorrow of wisdom and the pain of truth
to the foolish bliss of ignorance and illusion.

I prefer to dwell in possibility.
I prefer the lovely intangibles,
and the invisible treasures of the heart and mind.

I prefer words to photos, because rarely can a photo
capture the contours of the heart, mind, and soul.

I prefer the quiet intimacy of books
to the vortex screen of television.

I prefer listening and observing to speaking,
and when I “speak,” I prefer to write.

I prefer the involved and intimate whisper of pen upon paper
(even the messy scribbles and crossing-outs and rewrites)
to the more disinterested tapping of typing on a keyboard.

I prefer to let my fingers stumble along in slow dance
upon piano keys, because some secrets of the soul
can only be unlocked in music.

I prefer beautiful words that sing,
thoughts that breathe.
I prefer to write my tears on paper
or to sing them in songs.

I prefer walking as my mode of transportation,
to feel the ground beneath my feet,
the quiet reverberations that resonate
with each step I take.

I prefer to take the road less travelled,
to let my hopes and dreams unravel
in ribbons of words and wind,
ever tangling and untangling.

Though I love the new morning that comes with the sunrise,
I prefer sunsets, for as light shines brighter in darkness,
so love and life are set ablaze with deeper meaning
in the face of approaching death.

Though there are not enough hours in a day,
and time is rarely on my side,
I still prefer to take my time,
to live at a slower pace,
to savour the moments, to live deeply.

I prefer creation and renewal to destruction.
I prefer faith, hope, love, and life
to apathy, cynicism, and indifference,

Because life is a gift,
though weighed down by gravity,
and my life is but a breath,
sustained by God’s grace and mercy.

And that is why I prefer poetry.

Poem written and read by www.puddlenotes.tumblr.com