“The day exhausts me, irritates me. It is brutal, noisy. I struggle to get out of bed, I dress wearily and, against my inclination, I go out. I find each step, each movement, each gesture, each word, each thought as tiring as if I were lifting a crushing weight.” ~ Guy de Maupassant, from “Nightmare”

Emil Nolde Reading 1908 watercolor in black, washed india ink on fine laid paper
“Reading” (1908, watercolor in black, washed india ink on fine laid paper)
by Emil Nolde

“But there’s a litany of dreams that happens
somewhere in the middle. Moonlight spilling
on the bathroom floor. A page of the book where we
transcend the story of our lives, past the taco stands
and record stores” ~ Richard Siken, from “Snow and Dirty Rain”

Wednesday evening. Rainy and cold, 46 degrees.

In this dream, I am back at the department store, but by accident. I began on some kind of motorized scooter, and I was traveling through town, but turned down a road that I knew might be dangerous. At the end of the road, I saw four figures who looked very menacing, so I turned around, but the scooter sputtered and died. I rolled it to the bar where my father worked, only it wasn’t my father, it was someone else, but he was my father, and I told him that I really needed this scooter to be fixed so that I could get to where I needed to be, which was another town, apparently. I could hear music from the band playing on the upper floor, and my father said that he would fix the scooter.

Fred Williams untitled c1958 gouache on paper on board
Untitled (c1958, gouache on paper on board)
by Fred Williams

While I was waiting, I wandered through an underground mall, only to realize that if I went all the way through the mall, I would end up where I needed to be, which was across town at the store. I got to the store, but I was still dressed casually, and there was a store inspection, and I couldn’t be seen by the general manager until I changed clothes. I ducked into a bathroom, that was more like a spa, and I asked one of the other manager to grab me some clothes and shoes to put on, and I said that I would pay for them later. I just couldn’t be caught dressed as I was. There was a hound dog asleep in the stall next to me, and the general manager came in to inspect the spa, and I pretended to be taking a shower. He wanted to know who the dog belonged to, but we all pretended that we didn’t know, even though we knew it belonged to one of the other managers.

As I was rushing to get dressed, and I grabbed some make up samples that were on a counter in the spa. I began to put on foundation, but it went on much thicker than I expected, and I had way too much on my face, and I couldn’t get it off even though I kept wiping and trying to blend. My father came in and said that the scooter had been fixed, but he wanted to know why I looked so funny. I told him about the makeup, and a lawyer who was with him suggested that I try to blend it better. I gave her the dirtiest look I could imagine even though I thought that I probably looked like a clown, and then I went to find my students because suddenly it was a teaching dream.

It turns out I hadn’t been assigned a classroom, so I was trying to teach the small writing class in front of the elevators in the store. I hadn’t graded their papers, and one of the students insisted that he had turned in the paper to the office, but I couldn’t find the office. I looked down, and I was wearing a cocktail dress with blue tights and silver pumps. I knew that none of it matched. I suddenly realized that I didn’t have a copy of the schedule, so I didn’t know when I was supposed to work next. Dan (a real person from my past), gave me a hard time for never getting anything right.

blowing from the east
west south north . . .
autumn gale ~ Issa

I think part of the dream may have arisen from reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children yesterday. Great book, full of mystical creatures and fantastical people. I need to order the sequel.

Anyway, last night was hellacious outside and inside. The winds were so fierce that the wind chimes in the front yard sounded like someone was beating them, and this morning, the floor of the garage near the back door had standing water from the wind and rain. Inside, I was unable to get to sleep after I finished reading until sometime around 3:30 or 4, partly because of the  trigger point injections I got yesterday from my head to my buttocks and every point in between, and I was completely unable to get out of bed until well into the afternoon because I slept so poorly.

Victor Hugo Torquemada ink wash on paper
“Torquemada” (nd, ink wash on paper)
by Victor Hugo

Part of the problem today stemmed from being sore, and just thinking about  trying to get all of the preparations done for tomorrow kind of left me overwhelmed and unable to get much of anything done. The house still needs to be vacuumed, and the dining room table is covered with all sorts of domestic detritus, the kind that accumulates whenever Corey is home because the table is a convenient place on which to lay anything and everything.

Put all of this together, and you have one pitiful soul, completely unprepared for tomorrow’s festivities, as it were. At least the menu has taken shape: the two turkeys a la Mike and Corey; oyster stuffing, compliments of Eamonn; deviled eggs and cake, compliments of Lex and Mike; sweet potato casserole and banana cream pie, compliments of Brett and Em; and sausage stuffing, greens with smoked pork, whipped potatoes with heavy cream, kale crisps with sea salt, steamed green beans (maybe), yeast rolls (not homemade), and gravy, compliments of me. Oh, and we picked up a sample box of cheesecake squares to go with the other desserts.

So there you have it. Too much food, more than enough for the eight of us, and that we can do such a thing after years of want does not go unnoticed by any of us.

I hope your plans for Thanksgiving offer you some measure of peace and plenty.

More later. Peace.

Music by Jamestown Revival, “Heavy Heart”

                   

November Rain

How separate we are
under our black umbrellas—dark
planets in our own small orbits,

hiding from this wet assault
of weather as if water
would violate the skin,

as if these raised silk canopies
could protect us
from whatever is coming next—

December with its white
enamel surfaces; the numbing
silences of winter.

From above we must look
like a family of bats—
ribbed wings spread

against the rain,
swooping towards any
makeshift shelter.

~ Linda Pastan

 

“see how weak I am, a mere breath on the air, a gaze observing you, a formless thought that thinks you.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from No Exit and Three Other Plays, trans. S. Gilbert

Victor Hugo Ma destinée 1867 ink and brown ink wash
“Ma destinée” (1867, ink and brown ink wash)
by Victor Hugo

Listen. .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall. ~ Adelaide Crapsey, “November Night”

Monday night. Windy and scattered showers, 74 degrees.

Victor Hugo The key is here, the gate elsewhere 1871 Pen, brown-ink wash, black ink, graphite, black crayon, charcoal, reserves and fingerprints or dabbings with highlights of white gouache on vellum paper
“The hey is here, the gate elsewhere” (1871, pen, brown-ink wash, black ink, graphite, black crayon, charcoal, reserves and fingerprints with highlights of white gouache on vellum paper)
by Victor Hugo

Did not have Olivia today. Instead, I took Alexis and Olivia to Lex’s doctor’s appointment in Virginia Beach. It was a brief but nice visit. Olivia is such a chatterbug, and she doesn’t miss anything. I’ve taught her two new things: the word terrible, and the sound that crows make “caw.” She has also discovered the deliciousness of soft pretzels, thanks to me.

I do what I can . . .

Anyway, I took them home and then came home and collapsed. Not really sure what’s going on, maybe my sugar levels, but I was quite dizzy. The same thing happened when I was out with Brett the other day; I actually had to find a place to sit down before I fell on my face. I’m not even going to bother to call my PCP. I mean, what’s the point? I’m dizzy . . . I’m not dizzy. Whatever.

But as a result, no productivity today—no post, no poem lurking somewhere in the recesses of my brain. Just this wonderful passage by Ray Bradbury and these ink drawings by Victor Hugo, both of which I’ve been holding,  waiting for an opportune moment, like now for instance. By the way, the periods in the Crapsey short poem above are in the original as posted.

More later. Peace.

                   

Victor Hugo Vianden Through a Spider's Web pencil, Indian ink, sepia on paper
“Vianden through a Spider’s Web” (nd, pencil, Indian ink, and sepia on paper)
by Victor Hugo
For some, autumn comes early, stays late through life where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ’s birth, there is no Bethlehem Star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring, or revivifying summer. For these beings, fall is the ever normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles—breaks. Such are the autumn people. Beware of them. ~ Ray Bradbury, from Something Wicked This Way Comes

                   

Music by Ray LaMontagne, “Jolene”

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~ Charles Dickens

                    

“They are trying to make me into a fixed star. I am an irregular planet.” ~ Martin Luther, c. 1530

Early Saturday evening. Sun and clouds. Scattered showers.

National Poetry Month (2002)

I haven’t done a regular post for days. The usual factors at work: health, bills, anxiety . . .

Corey finished his first week at his new job. He really seems to like being back on a boat, doing the things that he likes to do. At least it’s not the constant monotony of maritime security, with long stretches in between of nothing upon nothing.

Monday I go back to my gastro doctor to follow-up on three of the tests that they have done so far. They’ve scheduled another one for later in the month. Lovely. Can I just tell you how much I like discussing the inner workings of my intestines?  I have to admit, though, that always lurking in the back of my mind is my dad’s pancreatic cancer, how all of that started with a bunch of stomach-related problems, how they did test after test.

To put my mind at ease, I’ve decided that I’m going to remind my doctor about what happened with dad (same doctor), just to bring it to the forefront of his memory when we are discussing possibilities. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that I have pancreatic cancer. That’s not it. I just remember all of the tests that he had to endure, driving him back and forth, and watching him suffer and lose more and more weight.

I don’t have that problem, as my mother reminded me the other day when she pulled into the driveway and blew the horn (always such a pleasant way of announcing her arrival). I went out to her car, and she put her window down to talk at me (yes, I mean at); then, she ever-so-pleasantly put her hand out the window and patted my stomach and said, “Why are you so bloated?”

Just thought I’d remind you guys as to why I have such horrible self-image problems.

“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” ~ Victor Hugo 

National Poetry Month (2009)

But, just to remind me of why it’s better that my mother honk from the driveway . . . she came inside the other day to bring me a bunny rabbit head decoration for Easter (?). She walked in, looked around, and then, looking me dead in the eye, said, “I don’t think that I’ve ever seen your house look so bad.”

Thanks, mum. You’re the best. Actually, I had been thinking that it’s really been looking fairly good lately. We’re keeping it picked up. Vacuum, polish the furniture, mop the floors, clean the glass on a pretty regular basis. I clean the bathroom at least three times a week. But to her, it looks bad. Why?

Because in the corner of the living room we still have the very large wardrobe that Corey and I purchased over five years ago to put into the bedroom once we move things around. Yes, it is a big piece of furniture, but it doesn’t look bad in the corner, and in spite of her protests, she has seen this particular piece of furniture several times. Yet she insists that she has never seen it, wants to know where it came from, when we got it. I bite my tongue to remind myself that discretion is the better part of valor.

The fight simply isn’t worth it, and she probably won’t step foot into my house for another three years. At least, one can hope.

“There is goodness in blue skies and flowers, but another force—a wild pain and decay—also accompanies everything.” ~ David Lynch

National Poetry Month (2006)

April is Poetry Awareness Month, which makes me aware that I am not nearly as up on my contemporary poets as I used to be. The Academy of American Poets first designated April as such in 1996 in an attempt to increase the awareness and appreciation of poetry in the U.S. Of course, we’re talking about the same country that is cutting arts funding like it’s a budget for unnecessary Snickers bar, has stopped funding the Reading is Fundamental program, and wants to get rid of NPR.

Culture? Beh. Who needs it? (I like the 2009 poster with the T. S. Eliot quote the best)

There was a time when I knew who the up and comers were, when new books were going to hit the stands. Now, I mostly rely on the people I follow on tumblr to find new poets.

Sad, really.

I have learned of several Polish poets of whom I had known nothing previously. I like the idea of Polish poets, mostly because the whole (American) concept of world literature used to be such an oxymoron: World literature might include a few famous South Americans, lots of British and French writers and poets, perhaps a Russian or two. Now, the writings of  people from every little corner of the world are available just from a Google search.

I would love to be sitting in a world literature class now, absorbing the words of people I have never read. I mean, even the old style European literature classes were so narrowly defined. Not so, any more. European actually means European, not just three countries in Europe.

But back to the Polish poets. Take this section from “Going On,” by Bronislaw Maj:

Unattainably beautiful 
for those who like me—slovenly, 
chaotic, from day to day—go on 
dying.

Or “The Moment of Reconciliation,” by Anna Kamienska

Take in your hand the gray wafter of day
for the moment of reconciliation has arrived
Let there be reconciled
apple with knife
tree with fire
day with night
laughter with sobbing
nothingness with body
Let there be reconciled
loneliness with loneliness

Of course, these are in translation, so they probably are not as powerful as in the original Polish, but they are still so full of the kind of angst that I appreciate. I love the pairing of slovenly and chaotic, the poem that can include an apple and sobbing and still be moving.

“It must be those brief moments
when nothing has happened—nor is going to.
Tiny moments, like islands in the ocean
beyond the grey continent of our ordinary days.

There, sometimes, you meet your own heart
like someone you’ve never known.” ~ Hans Borli  

National Poetry Month (2007)

Anyway, so that’s the current state of my life. Exciting, huh? Well, there is the appointment with the neurologist this Thursday—finally. The person who called me from the doctor’s office said, “Be sure to call us at least 24 hours in advance if you need to cancel this appointment, or we’ll have to charge you $100.”

I told her that there was nothing that could make me cancel this appointment. A couple of days ago I had a migraine that was on the right side of my face, including my teeth. It was the weirdest sensation. A migraine in your teeth? Whoever heard of such a thing?

Corey is working today; he picked up a 14-hour shift doing security. I asked him why in the world he would want to take a security shift on his first weekend after working on a boat? His reply was that we’ve been without regular decent paychecks for so long that he wants to do everything to get ahead.

That’s great, but I don’t want the poor man to work himself to death. He’s already too thin. But truth be told, I think that he remembered that today is opening day at the park and took the shift so that he wouldn’t have to hear the loudspeaker at 8 o’clock this morning.

There is a reason that I am not armed with any kind of weaponry. Not because I am violent or want to hurt anyone, but this morning I would have felt completely justified in shooting the loudspeaker. I hate opening day. People parking everywhere, litter strewn about as if people were raised in a barn, car alarms blaring, and idiots honking their horns at 8 a.m. At least a police car was stationed in front of our house for a time this morning to keep people from parking in the no-parking zone in front of our house, you know, where the fire hydrant is?

Apparently that bright yellow fire hydrant is easy to overlook when you don’t want to carry the cooler a few extra yards to the stands. I know. I know. I’m a bitch. You would be too if you had to endure this for months every year. I mean, when I try to be nice and tell people that it’s a no-parking zone, they just glare at me as if I’m that old man yelling at the neighborhood kids to stay off his yard. When that happens enough times a person can become jaded. Just saying.

More later. Peace.

Music by Crowded House, “Falling Dove”

                    

Couldn’t decide between two poems, so posting both (found on Poetry of the Poles tumblr):

List

I’ve made a list of questions 
to which I no longer expect answers,
since it’s either too early for them, 
or I won’t have time to understand.

The list of questions is long, 
and takes up matters great and small, 
but I don’t want to bore you, 
and will just divulge a few:

What was real
and what scarcely seemed to be 
in this auditorium, 
stellar and substellar, 
requiring tickets both to get in 
and get out;

What about the whole living world, 
which I won’t succeed
in comparing with a different living world; 

What will the papers
write about tomorrow;

When will wars cease, 
and what will take their place;

Whose third finger now wears 
the ring
stolen from me — lost;

Where’s the place of free will, 
which manages to be and not to be 
simultaneously;

What about those dozens of people —
did we really know each other; 

What was M. trying to tell me 
when she could no longer speak;

Why did I take bad things 
for good ones 
and what would it take 
to keep from doing it again?

There are certain questions
I jotted down just before sleep.

On waking
I couldn’t make them out.

Sometimes I suspect 
that this is a genuine code, 
but that question, too, 
will abandon me one day.

~ Wislawa Szymborska (Translated by Clare Cavanagh)

                    

The City Where I Want to Live

The city is quiet at dusk, 
when pale stars waken from their swoon, 
and resounds at noon with the voices 
of ambitious philosophers and merchants 
bearing velvet from the East. 
The flames of conversation burn there, 
but not pyres. 
Old churches, the mossy stones 
of ancient prayer, are both its ballast 
and its rocket ship. 
It is a just city 
where foreigners aren’t punished, 
a city quick to remember 
and slow to forget, 
tolerating poets, forgiving prophets 
for their hopeless lack of humor. 
The city was based 
on Chopin’s preludes, 
taking from them only joy and sorrow. 
Small hills circle it 
in a wide collar; ash trees 
grow there, and the slim poplar, 
chief justice in the state of trees. 
The swift river flowing through the city’s heart 
murmurs cryptic greetings 
day and night 
from the springs, the mountains, and the sky. 

~ Adam Zagajewski (Translated by Clare Cavanagh)