“Everything we care about lies somewhere in the middle, where pattern and randomness interlace.” ~ James Gleick, from The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood


“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.


Music by Wafia (featuring Finneas), “The Ending”


[from the sustaining air]
from the sustaining air
fresh air
There is the clarity of a shore
And shadow,   mostly,   brilliance
summer
                the billows of August
When, wandering, I look from my page
I say nothing
      when asked
I am, finally, an incompetent, after all
~ Larry Eigner (found on Poetry Foundation)

 

 

“What I thought was an end | turned out to be a middle.” ~ Tony Hoagland, from “A Color of the Sky”

“Sea and Sky” (1961, oil on board)
by Joan Eardley

                     

Two for Tuesday: Tony Hoagland

I Have News for You

There are people who do not see a broken playground swing
as a symbol of ruined childhood

and there are people who don’t interpret the behavior
of a fly in a motel room as a mocking representation of their thought process.

There are people who don’t walk past an empty swimming pool
and think about past pleasures unrecoverable

and then stand there blocking the sidewalk for other pedestrians.
I have read about a town somewhere in California where human beings

do not send their sinuous feeder roots
deep into the potting soil of others’ emotional lives

as if they were greedy six-year-olds
sucking the last half-inch of milkshake up through a noisy straw;

and other persons in the Midwest who can kiss without
debating the imperialist baggage of heterosexuality.

Do you see that creamy, lemon-yellow moon?
There are some people, unlike me and you,

who do not yearn after fame or love or quantities of money as
unattainable as that moon;
thus, they do not later
have to waste more time
defaming the object of their former ardor.

Or consequently run and crucify themselves
in some solitary midnight Starbucks Golgotha.

I have news for you—
there are people who get up in the morning and cross a room

and open a window to let the sweet breeze in
and let it touch them all over their faces and bodies.

                   

“July Fields” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Joan Eardley

                   

There is No Word

There isn’t a word for walking out of the grocery store
with a gallon jug of milk in a plastic sack
that should have been bagged in double layers

—so that before you are even out the door
you feel the weight of the jug dragging
the bag down, stretching the thin

plastic handles longer and longer
and you know it’s only a matter of time until
bottom suddenly splits.

There is no single, unimpeachable word
for that vague sensation of something
moving away from you

as it exceeds its elastic capacity
—which is too bad, because that is the word
I would like to use to describe standing on the street

chatting with an old friend
as the awareness grows in me that he is
no longer a friend, but only an acquaintance,

a person with whom I never made the effort—
until this moment, when as we say goodbye
I think we share a feeling of relief,

a recognition that we have reached
the end of a pretense,
though to tell the truth

what I already am thinking about
is my gratitude for language—
how it will stretch just so much and no farther;

how there are some holes it will not cover up;
how it will move, if not inside, then
around the circumference of almost anything—

how, over the years, it has given me
back all the hours and days, all the
plodding love and faith, all the

misunderstandings and secrets
I have willingly poured into it.

                   

Music by Beck, “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes”

“You have to sweep the temple steps a lot in hopes that the god appears.” ~ Dean Young

Winter Time by Piotr Krzackowski

“What does the new savagery
require of me? If I pound a nail
into the wall, the wall is my heart.” ~Dean Young

Poet Dean Young needs a heart transplant as a result of a degenerative heart condition: congestive heart failure due to idiopathic hypotropic cardiomyopathy. Please visit the website listed and share this information where you can:  National Foundation for Transplants: Fund for Dean Young.

Fellow poet and Young’s best friend Tony Hoagland posted an appeal letter on the National Foundation for Transplants website in which he praises Young’s work and refers to his “reckless and uncompromised vision of what art is.”

Seth Pollins recently shared a letter that he once received from his uncle Dean during their ongoing, sixteen-year correspondence. I asked Seth if I could reprint the letter, which appeared on Pollins’s blog The New Savagery, and Pollins graciously gave me permission.

I had wanted to post this letter as it is the kind of letter that so many of us who aspire to work with words would love to have received at some point in our lives. Young’s words to his nephew are heartfelt and honest; they acknowledge the doubt that plagues those who try to create, while still imparting a sense of hope and belief in possibility: “In my experience, the people who become writers are the ones who keep writing through the yards of silence and the years of discouragement . . . you can’t sustain inspiration, you can only court it.”

                    

2/17/98

Dear Seth,

I was very happy to get your letter, and my mom sent me your story which I want to get to but things have been so busy lately, what with school here and all those demands, and I’ve been flying around doing readings, and always feeling that I’m not devoting enough time to anything, even my cat, I figured I’d better write you soon, even if it was before reading your story, because I guess you’re off across the seas soon. I don’t know if I can really help you through your uncertainties, but I think I understand what you’re feeling, and wondering, and maybe doubting. As far as missing out on life because of devoting your time to writing, I don’t think you need to worry about that: life will happen to you no matter what you do. There will be joys and celebrations. There will be nights crossing bridges you don’t know the name of when some unspeakable beauty envelopes you. There will be nights looking from windows upon the staggered lights of some town when some unspeakable sadness envelopes you. There will be people you love who you can no longer find your way to. There will be new discoveries, new clouds that resemble strange and terrible things, tangerines and hangovers, and long, long telephone calls made of almost entirely silence. There will be enormous pains and small pains that are almost pleasurable. There will be haiku that suddenly make sense, and the feeling that something has been taken from you, and songs, always songs. So don’t worry about missing life, it’s like missing the sky, you can’t, you’ll always be under it and in it and sometimes high in it, but often just on the ground, moving from thing to do to, needing, crying, making people laugh, although it’s hard to tell what they’re laughing about because it seems you were just talking about how terrible life is. But one thing that won’t just happen to you, like life, is teaching yourself to write well. So whatever time you spend doing that, can stand to spend, and need to spend, all that time that seems wasted and those rare moments that seem volcanic and so sure, is the time that must be spent, otherwise you’ll never become the writer you want to become. And there’s a funny thing about that, too. One is that you’ll never become the writer you want to become. You’ll never be satisfied, never really know if you are any good. You’ll never be certain. I mean to you it probably seems I have some sort of certainty, I’ve published some books which sometimes show up in used bookstores right down there with Yeats and John Yau (who?) and just in the last couple of years or so people have started to hear of my work, of me, and now I’m teaching at this la de da writing program and poets who I think of as giants are treating me as a friend, which is, I admit, great, but there is flattery and there is the truth and one can never tell where one stops and one begins. My own sense of my my own writing is what have I done lately? It’s the writing-nowness of it that matters, and in that we’re all equals in the fog, each of us with a single flashlight with the batteries only lasting so long and we’re not sure if we should signalling to some landing airplane or is that the galloping of horses we hear coming our way, or should we be just trying to find house again, that place where we were born, where some huge, beneficent force would lift us from our groggy tatters and fit us into a voluminous bed. So don’t worry, Seth, you’re feeling what you have to feel, and as John Ashbery says, The reasons that religions are great is that they are founded on doubt. So you have to be the religion of yourself, which surely Walt Whitman said somewhere, and it sounds like you’re finding your way. Because it has to be YOUR way. Certainly there are teachers who can help you with things like dependent clauses and plot formation and run-on sentences (yikes), but all the hard play and work you must do yourself, which means above all else doing it. In my experience, the people who become writers are the ones who keep writing through the yards of silence and the years of discouragement. I think you may be worrying about things more then I did when I was your age. At least about writing. I knew it was a thing I did. I started writing poems in the third grade, and although I’m disappointed I’m not a lot better, it is something I do and therefore part of who I am, and cannot be reft from me. Perhaps I was too stupid or stoned or drunk or distracted or comfortable, or it was another world of skinny-dipping in the Bloomington quarries with a group of friends most of whom were trying to write well, with stupid jobs, and reading Frank O’Hara. I guess it was something I had faith in. It was later, by the time I was in graduate school, that the real ambitions (and poisons) of trying to get published and all that came into play. By then, well, it was too late. It was what I did. Remember, Seth, you can’t sustain inspiration, you can only court it, and here’s the thing: it happens WHILE you work. It’s not something to wait around for. You have to sweep the temple steps a lot in hopes that the god appears. Go back to college. It is a good place to try to teach yourself to write and to be surrounded be fellow blockheads that love books. Now I must get back to working on a poem I have no hope for because it is important to keep writing even when you aren’t writing worth shit. There’s a lot of luck involved in being struck by lightening, so you you want to make sure you’re holding a pen when it happens. Write again soon, dear nephew. Allow yourself to be uncertain, but don’t let your uncertainty turn to despair. It can be wonderful to write when you’re sad and full of the dark bouquet of doubt, but misery leads itself to silence and one must get out of bed every morning and prepare for the great celebration of one’s own imagination, even if it doesn’t happen that day.

Love,

Dean

                   

To make a donation to NFT in honor of Dean, click this link. If you’d prefer to send your gift by mail, please send it to the NFT Texas Heart Fund, 5350 Poplar Avenue, Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Please be sure to write “in honor of Dean Young” on the memo line.

More later. Peace.