Dispatches from Here

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

1.  The sky is very clear today, and there are calls across the air-- a nesting bird, a leaf blower, incidental traffic sound.

2.  The two year-old downstairs is wailing mournfully in long cries that end with little yelps and howls.  Perhaps he is remembering and grieving his time with the wolves.  Perhaps he got a flu shot.

3.  In Philadelphia, I could live in luxury for what I'm paying here.  Well, I could live in large apartment in a Frank Lloyd Wright building in a sculpture park.  Private terrace.  Washer and dryer.

4.  Before long, I will have very important visitors, viz.: A friend I met in college, who I first admired for her over-sized sweaters, fuzzy hair, and steel-trap mind; the brother who was born when I was 15 and who has only recently stopped insisting that he knows I'm secretly his mom [I'm not]; a mysterious traveler who will come in his own time, once he's done absorbing material from the collective unconscious, or whatever he's doing in there. 

5.  Writing that last phrase was punctuated by a stretchy jab from inside, as if to say "my agenda remains my own for now" and "hello."


Friday, October 12, 2012

[with thanks to Todd Colby]

Opportunities abound.  But I had rolled oats with pecans and cherries for breakfast, so I feel that I have done my part.  And the air-- I should say something about how the air today both holds me in place and pushes me toward winter.  I'll sit here in red flannel pajama bottoms and a charming scowl.  I'll listen to the roofers next door and their quieter hammering.  The cloud cover makes it quieter.  But really, they've just moved to the farther side of the roof.  When you get here, we'll drink hot chocolate and misremember novels together.  Somewhere from a room upstairs, we'll hear a low stringed instrument being played.  We'll think about music and its relation to walking.  We'll take naps.  I had something else to tell you.  But this will have to suffice. 

October Monday

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

1.  I made soup.

2.  I defaced a William Carlos Williams poem.  (See below.)  I started out following this assignment by Nada Gordon to "baroqueify" (which I saw by way of Shanna Compton).  But my poem isn't baroque at all!  It's more like me trying to be Roethke trying to riff on Williams.  [shrug]

3.  Clif shaved and cut his hair.

That's about it.

A Sort of October Song

Monday, October 08, 2012

(after Williams)

Let the snake of the mind wait under weeds, damp leaves,
radiator hiss.
Learn plant words. 
Or better, learn the sound of plant growth slowing. 
Forget the sleeplessness and slow wit of summer. 
Reconcile the people and the stones.
Be the stones.
Be the somnolent waiting smell of old houses in the damp.
Under covers, learn one to three books.  But slowly.
Learn wet asphalt.  Low sky.  All of it. 

For Chris Toll

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Today I learned from the life of a poet who has died.  He once accepted a poem of mine and wrote to tell me, saying, "I have a ghost girl living in my mind."  (The poem has a ghost girl.)  We exchanged maybe eight emails, and in one he asked how I'd fared in Hurricane Irene and we talked about downed trees.  I like a person who can ask how you fared in Hurricane Irene and who can tell you he has a ghost girl living in his mind.  It means, "I am not afraid to be a human being." 

Another thing he wrote me was, "In Art, I like to go fast." 

Reading about him and re-reading our emails, what came into my mind was, "I'm just going to have to embrace my weirdness.  It's the only way." 

The night before he died, he wrote this in an email to R.M. O'Brien:

i know i’m nobody – i’m a snowflake and i’m drifting toward a bonfire – i know this well – i’m getting hot.
everything we do at every moment is critically important – every deed at every moment in every day should be a living prayer – if we pray hard enough, we will have a New World – and we will have it sooner rather than later.

Thank you, Chris.  And good journey. 
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