I Have Been Tasked with Letting You Know

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

(a collaboration with Todd Colby)
Which world are you staining? It appears blurry.
In your frenzy to avoid kitsch, you've rendered us
all as broncos in a western painting with an orange
sunset advertising a dude ranch.  Someday I'll make it
out west.  I meant to be one of those wandering anti-
heroes, Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas, but even that 
plan didn't take into account the enormous sum
for the film stock used to document my movements. From now
on it's one of those self-help books that instructs you to notice
your life, five items at a time.  Item one:  A toddler
strapped in the backseat wants to sit in the driveway
listening to an acoustic version of "Save a Prayer"
by Duran Duran, but halfway through begins scrabbling
at the seat belt yelling, "Get out!" And just like that
a well of emotions is unleashed, diminished only by
a buttery shoulder rub and some sweet meats.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Elephant" is one of the words my 21 month-old son says.  It is also the subject of this poem from my chapbook Crown.  (The "Men's College" is a reference to A Room of One's Own.) 

Elephant Goes Downtown 

(after Carlos Drummond de Andrade)

My elephant's all shy and pretty-eyed in the marketplace.
My elephant's made of the cloth of unknowing.
Elephant's strolling through the Men's College, longing for lunch.
Elephant feels crepuscular.
My elephant sat at a lovely wooden table with a view of the Hudson.
Had no idea what to do with the sky.
Elephant has all these talented friends.
Beauty does hurt, elephant said.
She moves her mouth to one side like that.  Stretches out her trunk.
Takes a sip of her drink.
She flaps her ear a little.  Sighs.

Mad Max

Monday, November 17, 2014

Early in our relationship, my college boyfriend Jason compared his affection for me to the last can of gasoline in a Mad Max-like world. If you had the last can of gas in the world, you wouldn't go around *talking* about it, would you? 

Part of the conversation went something like this:

Me:  But you do have a can of gas?
Jason:  I can't talk about it.  For obvious reasons. 

This conversation was typical of our exchanges, and for most of college, we got along quite well.  I'm not sure, though, whatever happened to the last can of gas in the world. 

Sunday Essentials

Sunday, November 16, 2014

1.  I'm not sure I can be attractive enough to distract you from mortality on a daily basis.  Maybe in a series of carefully selected and arranged photographs, but not three feet from your face every morning.  I will work on it.  Or, well, I will ponder different things "attractive" can mean.  "A lighthearted honesty of spirit" might be one.

2.  This morning I wrote a message to a friend I met when we were thirteen.  When she came to my house for the first time, we rolled to see who would go first in Monopoly and came up with the same number ten times in a row.  (Did that happen?)  At that time, my mother and I lived in an apartment in a large, black converted barn by the Neckar River in Heidelberg.  We had a sizable terrace which looked toward the river and the Alte Brücke (old bridge).  Sounds interesting, right?  At the time I just wanted a bigger room and was tired of "all the castles."  (Eventually we moved to another apartment in the same building, and I had a larger room with a skylight.  I could lie in bed and watch the weather.  I remember appreciating it at least once.) 

3.  I looked at a blog of another friend this morning.  I met him when I was in my 30s at a poetry reading in Brooklyn in a spacious loft overlooking the Williamsburg Bridge, and I thought that's what New York would be like.  This friend tried to get me to buy a lambskin jacket on sale, but I refused.  I was eventually driven out of New York, possibly as a result.  Last night I dreamed that I kept running into this same friend all over Europe.  He was in tour groups being led through the sights and could not stop to talk.  Therefore, I made fun of his girlfriend's name. 

4.  The other morning, Curious George was having a fever dream.  He dreamed that he and a cat went down his own throat.  First they stood for a bit behind his teeth and looked around.  It was the cat who figured out how to run the machine that would take them farther down. 

5.  People Magazine reports that Drew Barrymore is really getting into whale vomit (ambergris). 

6.  There have been complications with the plan.  But I have this coffee and this blueberry muffin.  I put oatmeal in the muffins.  I hope that's ok.  But, to paraphrase Katharine Hepburn, "Always please yourself because then at least one person is pleased."  

7.  "Don't act ugly."  --something my grandmother used to say about unkindness

August 14th

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wow, it's already the 14th.  Oh, man.  Here are five things:

1.  I missed the super moon because right after I put on my shoes to go look at it, the baby woke and I helped him get back to sleep.  Then I was too sleepy to go see the super moon.

2.  Robin Williams died.  I remember that the night Mork & Mindy premiered I was being babysat by a friend of my mom's and that I made it very clear that I would require a television tuned to the appropriate station at the appropriate time.  I remember crouching in someone's attic apartment in front of a tiny black and white television, watching Mork through the snow (bad reception).  I felt then that he (Mork) was a representative of the kids, somehow, and that I had done my duty.  Later I had the doll and the suspenders.  I went as a "weirdo" one year for Halloween.  I'm not sure if I was wearing the suspenders, but I was wearing a button that said "WHY BE NORMAL?" and a toilet paper roll decorated with stars over my sideways ponytail.  Somehow, I now realize, this was an homage to Mork.  As an adult, I preferred his serious moments.  The sadness peeking through seemed real and human and vulnerable.  And, yeah.  I guess it really was.  I guess we're supposed to be as loving and gentle to each other as we can.  An homage.

3.  I don't know what's happening in Ferguson, MO.  My country.  This is us.  Part of who we are.  All of it.

4.   Here's Lauren Bacall singing "How Little We Know." 

5.  The fifth thing is the unknown.  The shakiness of that.  The mystery.  How good changes are coming.  How change is difficult.  How it is wondrous. 


August 8th

Friday, August 08, 2014

At the playground, E. became fascinated with a little girl whose mother was selling snow cones, and the girl and I chatted briefly while the baby checked out her bejeweled gladiator sandals and tried to cozy up next to her.  She told me that she's seven.  I told her that the baby thought she was interesting.  "Your baby has an interesting mind," she said. 

Another thing

Thursday, August 07, 2014

"I would like to be inside the lights

of these peoples'
houses (with our ancient nostalgia for fire) but not

inside these lives." 

--Eleni Sikelianos, The Book of Jon

August 7th

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Somehow I missed a day in my August posts.  Oh, well.

Here's an observation for today:  I had to go to a doctor's appointment on 59th Street this morning, and as I walked into the building and toward the elevator, a woman emerged from the elevator wearing what might be described-- anywhere other than Manhattan-- as a "get-up."  Somehow in that moment I very much enjoyed the performance of her:  Huge round black and rhinestone sunglasses, a fur stole of some kind, high cork platform shoes, hair smoothed back into a tight bun.  It was hard to say what age she was.   I suppose she could have been anywhere from 25 to 45.  As I looked at her, she clutched at her stole, gathering it more tightly around her shoulders.  Even that gesture pleased me. 
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