Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Letter from Gordon Lish

In the spring of 1987, on April 3, a month before my 25th birthday, Gordon Lish accepted my first published short story, "Chinese," for The Quarterly. I had already changed the title to "Chinese" from "Table-Talk" in the hope of using "Table-Talk" as the title of a short story collection. He subsequently accepted two more short stories, "Fairness" (one I had originally called "Hieroglyphics" and "Domesticity") and "Hors-d'oeuvre." In the course of a year, we wrote notes to each other about contracts for the short stories, proofs of them, and editing suggestions. I was already writing like a minimalist, so editing suggestions were rather minimal, too. Then, in the letter below, which must have followed a sudden, plaintive burst from me -- which might be in one of the banker's boxes in my office; his to me are in a blue-dot file marked "Lish, Gordon" -- he writes that he would not be interested in publishing a book of mine.

25 April 88

Dear Ann,

I'm at your service, but what to do? Sure, I'll read, but my guess is that I am only going to see two or three entries that would make for a book I'd do. But always happy to counsel if that is the thing you want. Damn shame you wasted time schooling yourself as you did, for I am guessing that you would have profited rather considerably from time in my classes--if only in the context that you would have ridded yourself of these doubts, wantings, keenings. You are never going to survive as an artist if you are not entirely self-sustaining. I am even understating the matter--by a lot.

As for the small prose here [rev. as "Almanac"], it is its weakness that makes me say no, not its brevity. If you keep watching Q, you will see prose fictions as short--I believe several show up in Q10.

Look, Ann, you are breaking my heart. Call me if it will help any to shoot the breeze. I am always tickled to meet with you if you come to NY. Please know that my heart and mind are wide open to you. As for making it with me with your writing, the solution is simple: get the work as strong as it is in you to get it--and make certain that the surface writing could not be more exactingly made.

This was a shitty letter. No time--and nothing to say, really, to the matter before us, given that your shrei was too general for me to mount a useful statement in reply.

Be well, feel good, thrive,

Gordon Lish

P.S. My God, Christa Wolf! Does take me back.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bounce

I write like someone who never lived a happy day; oh, the good girls wouldn't know: all our happy days went in the coal trap with recovery. I used to drink too much alone. It lasted for about three years and three months, a discernible pattern. When I drank too much in public, people were glad to have me do it, then women looked askance at it, then modified their boyfriends' behavior, then their own, but the drinking itself didn't bother me or ruin my schedule. Later I entered the religion of AA. AA behaved normally culturally, and normal for me is tantamount to cruel. Mostly they were specialists in recovery -- whatever that is -- not artists. I remember in writing "professionally," wh. was more truly "academically-creatively," that I had to fight against a dark corner -- this metaphor came up more than once. Writing was a dark room w/o doors or windows. Writing was a dark room with a dark door in a dark corner.

What is it I mean by "given up sex"? I mean, that. That it is past. The Texas women I knew valued sex more than any other human being, endeavor, hope, or project. They did not want children. They wanted sex. They were tough and pretty and thin, and men were attracted to them. All put in a pretense of having meaningful relationships, but they were really invested in their own sexual prowess. It didn't bother me then, but if we were all in a room today, I'd bout w/ them. Those values hurt our thens and nexts. Rebuilding is likely, possible, and even necessary -- that beautiful, dirty word. Without sex, life has meaning; w/ sex, life's only meaning is sex. With sex, life has meaning; without sex, life's only meaning is sex.

Of course, I intend to have sex again, when I am married, which is pencilled in for about ten days from now. I planned a winter wedding in a scenic park, but the groom wants to marry spur-of-the-moment in a faraway city. Women I knew had ceremonies of their choosing then divorced. I waited. I'm marrying the kind of man who proposes marriage in magic marker on the phone, who has -- orated proposals -- for five years, but he pencils the date in his thought process. I love him.

It's up to Providence and Virginia.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Presidential candidates

I visited www.speakout.com and took a test that indicated my choices in presidential candidates. Before reading all about each issue, going on gut and memory, my candidates are, in order:

1. Barack Obama
2. Dennis Kucinich
3. Hillary Clinton

After that come Gravel, Dodd, Biden, Edwards, and Richardson. Then I read all the way through about each issue and the summation of the candidates' views. For viewpoints, I came out liking Kucinich better. He is my candidate if we, the people, must decide everything for ourselves. Clinton is my candidate for leadership on issues; I found I trust her to play politics more than the others, and I have an emotional attachment to hiring a woman leader. Obama is fine; some people I know feel he is too young for the position. On the first round, I ranked slightly closer to him on issues than to the others. When I read the report in detail, however, I found closer agreement to Kucinich and Clinton. Obama is a little more prison-happy than the others. I like the others' idea to have separate drug courts and treatment for those offenses. I like Kucinich's gun control and moratorium on the death penalty with DNA releases. I like Clinton on reproduction. As for the war, all three are against it. Kucinich favors impeachment of Cheney. If the primaries were today, which candidate would I vote for? Hillary Clinton. If it were another world, a future, a better world, I would vote in Dennis Kucinich bec. his policies, enacted, would give us a finer civilization. If I had the chance to meet him in person, I'd probably like Barack Obama.

Friday, December 07, 2007

My obsessions

What obsesses me lately? I can see, reading scroll p. 1 of this ms. (& others of the scroll pp.), that I have been concerned alternately with religion and health, but also w/ sex ending. I mean, sex has ended. The larger cultural idea that I have yet to put in words but wh. I believe, is that sex has ended for the many not for the few, who in their pride over it, rush the rest of us in a crowd. It isn't due to being on the slender side that sex has ended. If I were on the heavy side, a TV audience would clap & laugh if I met a man w/ whom to have love and romance and sex -- they would advocate it or me -- the larger women all behaving as each other's advocates in the slow process of attracting the right men and of disliking thinner women, thinking thinner women have it made in that regard and have no worries. As if we aren't sisters. The heavy women blew out friendships, like candles after dinner, out of a love for hypothetical men they had yet to meet. To admit love for us as women seems perhaps lesbian, and that they reject. There was no middle ground -- we are in love as friends and keeping our ties -- was not proposed. So, I gave up sex. I can't say it is for good or the good, but I can't reverse it. I find sex to be unjustifiably boring and wasteful, wanton, hurtful and needless. As if I might never recover my adjusted happiness-in-sex phase (or remember how many other times seemed to be going wrong), wh. I think I ought to do, when the current phase is over. When my religious phase is over, I will have learned deep lessons about it. I can see why people might rather avoid religion in the first place, but if you have made the mistake and gone toward it, and the people have shunned and maimed in the name of religion, the antidote for it is religious. It isn't spiritual. Unless you wish to be carved by them -- the men of addiction groups who vie w/o Christianity for your achievements and may hate you as women who aren't inferior -- the church is the place to live and be. There is a harsh center conquered by love, and the love is not worldly or even kind, but is born of pain.

* * *

The other obsession lately has been with my work as a literary panelist in a grant competition. I would love to write more openly about it here, but the context for it is missing. I learned a lot from it, and all my selves integrated, and I was in strong form within the boundaries of taste, and I realized that I had learned to critique from years of workshop and writing, and that the talent is defensible and demonstrable and pertinent and should lead to a living -- would you agree that a talent of that sort should lead to a living? We as panelists worked in defense of talent for a month, and it was invigorating. We were not publishers in this capacity; nor teachers; we were closest to being readers, or the reader, but we have the expertise of publishers and teachers, not only the reader's desire. The reader reads out of wishfulness and isn't overly critical. We were sometimes overly critical but not of talent. Talent we championed. We worked in faith over talent. Publishers and agents lose that part of faith in dealing contracts. Talent is worth less to them than marketability. The reader, who works on desire, is consulted in absentia. They assume the reader has no desire for unfinished talent, though we as panelists did; we understood and appreciated it. They assume the reader cannot appreciate it. Perhaps the main thing I realized, as a writer on a panel, is that plot matters. How many years did I pretend to the other argument? That only sound and language and mild events not united mattered? Plot matters, bec. it causes a story to enter the memory. That memory of united event provokes memory of other elements as well, of mood, atmosphere, theme, characterization, and so forth. I will not become fanatical about plot, but I will write for it in the future.

What cheers me lately? Hope. I heard in church that we have no choice in the matter but to hope. The glass is half full.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

First snow

Driving years

In a message dated 11/30/2007 10:26:33 A.M. Central Standard Time, Bobbilurie @.com writes:
Steve---frustrating to be narcissist in diseased state--for isn't it a diseased state, this need to make in order to...?...(however that manifests) with or without drugs the voices come and Conrad thinks: no Muzak (sp?) anymore: i cant be on the streets this time of year anyhow...and non-existent journals are always the best as are non-existent poems paintings/ isn't that why we keep making them? our anonymity is our freedom i believe--why careerism is the real disease (narcissism: isn't that just looking into lake searching for reflection of what's inside?)--but think: to finally be free to speak to nothing but the earless air?--BL

Bobbi, as I think I might have indicated to you, I have been this person alone for months at a time, without the usual constraints of time placed upon me; I suppose it was a deep luxury, but it came about through poverty in its ironies. I had to learn not to be angry at financial limitations, galling stops, and to become soft about it, my poverty. I played to an audience of one, but the more convincingly I did this, the more it started to feel as if there were listeners. No, I did not plug in a camera or turn on a recorder. I suppose, as it heated up, I ought to have written or something, but I didn't want to write. Call it dream, but it was physically active. It reminded me of acting. I was a statesman, too. I was men; I was women. I looked like certain people. My looks, never studied in much detail before, became plastic. By attitude, I could enact anything. I pretended to be John Stuart Mill on an errand to Carlyle's house, with his woman waiting in the carriage. I was Rod Carew. Harrison Ford. Julia Roberts. I wasn't on drugs. Or alcohol. My mother, who has grown deaf and with whom I live, didn't know this or what was going on for a very long time, years, I suppose. Local friends saw me as in hybernation. This is what they saw or else they were polite about it; I was so together, yet so alone. The aloneness was a magic barrier. I talked to myself incessantly even in stores, and passersby seemed never to notice. Thinking of books, much, and doing a kind of architectural drawing of them with my steps. Two years I quieted and read constantly. Once, driving, I was outlouding to myself that certain women make more money at marriage than Mailer makes at writing. All these goons came in the car then, novelists. It was like a poker game, and I was a gal in it. This is the imagination. I called "Help!" feeling friendly out of league, to a writer I know in Pennsylvania. I was driving east, and he's east of here. Then he came, in presence, to guard me for a night. It was phenomenal. I called him on the phone two days later, and told him what had "happened" and what it was about, and he seemed to realize something. Another time, art punks from Houston were driving the car which was riveted to the road, to the orange signs by it and the lines. My imagination was perfectly open. There was a form to it, not reproduction. I wanted to write Moby Dick without a man in it. But I didn't do it. It's like a seven-year diary, and it did happen. I might write it as memory then.

So, for you to imagine the diaries unwritten as the best ones, or the real moment when there is no audience as the ultimate in freedom, I salute you.

This is not what I put on the women's list.

My mother likes me much better now that I'm more normally sociable. Not just laughing too much. It's really due to her that I ate or slept at all. She is a civilizer, a strong ark. I was taking medications for bipolar while my years rained on me. It must have blown over, because I feel creatively ordinary now and misunderstand people's sense that I have written anything yet, you know, because ... did I?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cousin, short story

This old man stays in bed all day reading a book of Polish poetry, trying to remember what he’s heard about Venus Fly Traps. He knows they grow nearby, in a nature preserve, but he can’t remember which one, and his car is unremarkable—he can’t go from preserve to preserve looking for fly traps. He can ask Aldo. Aldo is his best friend, married but separated, with the heart of a hunter. Cousin can say, “It’s cold out here, old boy,” and Aldo will reassure him, as he always does, that Cousin’s indecision is the right one.

Cousin is a solitary, and his proper heart beats hard against his chest. He regulates it by running five miles a day. He drinks hard liquor in his white, empty living room. He has work to do, articles to write.

“It’s cold out here,” begins one article about hauling his married friend’s car from the shoulder of the highway to the nearest repair shop. Afterward, the two men drink shots of tequilla and shoot pool. They play for the married man’s wife. The narrator wins the game but goes home without the wife. Moral: Some things you don’t do. A job well done. He made it all up. He got $900 for it on the first round and $400 or so from seven other newspapers.

Cousin dials Aldo and gets his machine. He buzzes into the receiver while Aldo’s message plays.

“It’s cold out here, old boy,” Cousin says. “Call me later. I’ll be here drinking.”

Then he calls Aldo’s wife, Marietta, the editor, ready to ask her about his latest piece. Her machine picks up. “Marietta. Cousin. Haven’t heard from you. Thought I’d give you a try.”

. . .

Darkness comes early in December. Cousin flicks on the light, picks out a tape. He slices open the boneless chicken breast and chops enough garlic to starve ten fevers. The phone rings. It’s Ellen, the woman he’s been screwing since September. She says she’s hungry, but he doesn’t want to feed her. He tells her he’s already eaten.

“I doubt it,” Cousin says. “You two go out so late. I’m an old man. I can’t stay out late anymore.”

“You’re no old man,” Ellen says. “We’ll be at Thirsty’s.”

Cousin’s indecision fills the universe. “Call me later,” he says. “I’ll probably be here.”

“What do you expect with a name like Cousin?” Petra says and hands the cue to Ellen. Marlboros dangle from their lips. They’ve plugged the jukebox, and men hover over it and in the doorway.

“His sister called him that,” Ellen says. “Significant because he likes his sister.”

“How can you stand it? I would have killed him by now.”

“He tells me I don’t know how to suffer properly.”

“Ask for a revolution, get Summer of Love,” Petra says.

“I told him we could just have sex, but he said that wouldn’t be right. Once I said, ‘I love you,’ then ‘sorry’ right after because he stopped. I said, ‘I love you’; he stopped. I said, ‘sorry’; he continued.”

“Faggot,” Petra says, laughing.

“The beginning was good. That’s what he likes. The moment when you’re driving in the open air and your hair is flying and your skirt is whipping up around your knees, and he’s smoking, of all things, and happy and looking at you. The first date. Don’t know what might happen. I tell him you don’t know what might happen once it’s started either, but he doesn’t believe it. Is he a womanizer or does he fake it?” Ellen shoots and misses. “Says later she seduced him. ‘Really hard to do that,’ I say.”

“What did he say?”

“He laughed. He always laughs. It means he can do what he wants.”

“You need vegetables,” Petra says. “We’ll cook for you, give you vegetables.”

“Then you can tell me what it’s like not to be hated,” Ellen says.

“Ben is sweet. He’s really sweet, but I haven’t been alone for two months. He’s always there. Always touching me. I feel like his mother. I can’t stand feeling like his mother. I want to scream, ‘Don’t touch me. I’m not your mother.’ I told him that, one day, told him I was feeling cowed. He says he doesn’t want a mother, doesn’t know how I got that feeling.”

“It sounds good to me,” Ellen says. “Remember chaos?”

“I miss chaos. I miss coarseness and stupidity. I want violence.” Petra crescendos and misses her shot. She grinds the cue into her foot. The men near the jukebox shift in a herd. They seem aroused, but wary. Petra and Ellen are tuned to it, like a station.

. . .

“You girls out turning over dumpsters again?” Cousin asks. He has called Ellen’s machine to tell her he’s going to bed.

Petra and Ellen stop at Cousin’s on their way home from Thirsty’s. His light is out. It’s not like either of them to drop by without calling. Petra goes to his bedroom window. Ellen wonders how Petra knows that it is his bedroom window. Then she remembers that Petra went to his Halloween party.

Petra taps on the pane. “Wake up. You lug,” she says. “Get up. You do nothing. Two women are at your window, and you don’t even get up. You don’t even move.”

Cousin lifts the corner of the blind away from the window. It is dark in his room and at first Petra can’t see him.

“Not dumpsters,” Petra answers. Ellen can’t hear him. “Lawn signs. Get up.”

Ellen watches Petra talk to him then moves to the window herself, full of dread. He’ll be unhappy to see her. When she sees his face, he surprises her by smiling.

“Fine,” Petra says. “Who needs you?”

Cousin lets the blind fall back against the window, and the women go to the car.

“He needs a lobotomy,” Petra says.

“He’s had a lobotomy,” Ellen says.

“I’m glad you’re not talking about me,” says a man who passes them on the sidewalk.

“One lobotomy is rarely enough,” Petra says.

“But he’s good in bed,” the man says over his shoulder.

. . .

Cousin jots down notes for the fly trap story, “Flying Too Close to Venus.” Venus Fly Traps in the Bog. He can make it scary. He can tell it from the fly’s point of view: getting suckered in, lured in by juices. It’s involuntary, a trick of nature, survival of the species. He only thinks he likes it. He should remember from the last time what really happens, zap, you’re dead, wrapped up like a mummy before you can blink. Gotta keep your wits about you, visit other plants, avoid the dread Venus. Moral of the story: a great place to take the kids for a study of nature and of things to come.

He calls Petra. “You,” he says. “Out turning over dumpsters again.”

“You missed it,” Petra says. “Not everyone would forget to inhale.”

“What are you doing now?”

“Taxes.”

“Again? You’re always doing taxes.”

“End of a quarter.”

“How’s Ben?”

“He’s fine. Want to talk to him?”

“No. Just wondering.”

“Ellen and I think you need a lobotomy,” Petra tells him. She chews on the end of her pen and uncaps it to cross out a line.

“Thanks,” Cousin says.

“We said, at least, that there’s hope for you.”

“That’s good. Glad you decided that.”

“Well, maybe we can pound on your window tonight. Right now I have to finish this schedule. I’m really behind.”

“Talk to you later,” Cousin says, his finger on the button.

“There’s the other hooligan,” he says when Ellen answers the phone.

“I’m on the other line. Are you at home?”

. . .

Cousin hoists the barbell to his chest and hovers it. Think fly traps, he tells himself. Fly Traps in the Mist. He does twenty reps, and the phone rings.

“So what did I miss?” he says.

“Do you want to do something or not, because if you don’t, I can do something with someone else. If you do, I can think about it.”

“Tonight I might actually want to do something,” Cousin says.

“Very precise,” Ellen says.

“Call me later,” Cousin says.

. . .

Fighting with a woman is the essence of life, Cousin writes. He slices open a boneless chicken breast and opens a package of spinach. Chicken ala spinach e garlic. He knows a little Spanish, a lot of English.

The woman in Seattle is not the communicator that Ellen is, but she is a fornicator, and she rides horses. She says that anyone who would jump into something the way Ellen has is unstable. Ellen has a problem.

When he tells Ellen this, they are lying on the sofa. He has just returned from a second trip to Seattle. Ellen mulls it. Finally she says, “I see it.”

“What’s the prognosis, Doctor?”

“The woman in Seattle is normal. You like her because she’s normal. She’s never been to a shrink. She’s an equestrian. She has the same friendships she’s had since high school. And she has you, man with a tan.”

“Don’t be nasty.”

“That’s what you want.”

“What is?”

“That.”

Cousin mixes their drinks before slinging her over his shoulder and carrying her to bed. Ellen rides out her hatred and his. She erases her mind with the back of her hand. She slips around next to him, backs into him with her ass. He gets behind her and in. She arches, dodges, clamps her eyes wide, bites his wrist, arm, hand. He nearly strangles her. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, she thinks. This goes on until he stops, the only sign of his coming.

“Couldn’t you fake one,” Cousin says and rolls over on his back.

He stares ahead without seeing, unaware of having seized the sweetness of his time.

(First written in 1991; published in Submodern Fiction in 2003.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Shop like a man

I shop like a man. I go once a year, maybe twice. I buy staples. I buy plain colors. I dress for work and weekends. I dress to impress with my height, my stature, my stance, my pose, my ... grace. I wear long things that would sweep the floor on a shorter woman. I buy what fits. I buy what is easy to wear, what is comfortable. I try to avoid dry cleaning. I avoid ironing. While I'm shopping, I imagine an audience in dark clubs where poets read & musicians play. I imagine lighting, decks of ships, ferries that waltz across the harbor in Duluth, and ship channels. I imagine islands where people go camping. I go to Goodwill and buy used clothing. I buy frivolities cheap -- a flouncy skirt for $5.99, a cheap thing, and return it. Sex is not in this wardrobe. It is not part of the agenda. A windfall & a small budget at Macy's took me shopping to the mall. I bought:

6 white items
5 dark brown items
7 black items
4 navy items
10 Goodwill items
5 shoes & boots
1 leather bag
1 leather belt
3 Chanel for eyes
1 Mac lipstick
5 tights
3 stockings
5 bras
4 panties

60 items

I spent everything I had in savings: $880 & my windfall of $1,000. That is how men shop, on a mission of errands.

Best finds are an ankle-length brown skirt & brown knit jacket; black applique tiered skirt; patent leather ankle boots, and pin-striped J & Co. jeans. I also like my used pointy t-straps, Coach sandals, black clogs, black leather bag, brown eyeliner, russet mascara, and Viva Glam lipstick. I like the Michael Kors long dress for summer and the three white blouses. I like being back in basics again: white, black, and dark brown scoop necks, v-necks, and turtlenecks. I like the fun of a cashmere poncho. I liked getting for $20 the $276 cropped embroidered pants at Bella Blu in Navarre that Sheryl Crow wore in a magazine photo. I shopped after 13 pounds weight gain, which began when summer was over. I gave away durable clothing I had outgrown. I gave it to Goodwill for resale.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hallowe'en

Holloween
Hallowed E'en
A night, a day for getting even
Put on a hat
or faded dungarees
Streak your lips with ash
Fill your slip with peas

March, strike, like a petty officer
Mock, flaunt, pretend you're what you are
It's Hallow e'en
It's a very Happy Day

Ghosts, witches, cats and bats
It's the Black Day
It's the Orange Day
Smash a pumpkin, curse a witch, it's
twenty years bad luck
Bad luck, they say, is worse than no luck
You know it's the same
You know it's your day

Put on a suit
Ride to State Street on a broom
Drink some noxious tonic
Take your lover, too
It's a mad day
It's a death day

Isn't it time you die, too?

(c) 1985

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Index at Ana Verse

Jan. 16, 2006 to May 1, 2012 (rev. May 1):

Contents: 398 posts (incl. Index); 66 drafts (not viewable); 332 viewable posts:

Mad Hatters' Review, Issue 13 (link, nota. lit.)
New from Argotist Ebooks (link, Fictionaut, nota. lit.)
Saratoga (still photo)
[The Cool Report, August 4, 2006 (inquiry-cult., open ltr, poetry-line)]
Solzhenitsyn Jukebox ebook trailer (link)
[Irish Salad, March 16, 2007 (fiction, fictionaut)]
Solzhenitsyn Jukebox ebook trailer (link)
These hats are for sale! (still photo)
Solzhenitsyn Jukebox, Argotist Ebooks, 2010 (nota. lit.)
Szymanowski at St. Mark's (still photo)
>>
Grey Nuns (still photo)
She lets her intentions guide her (Fictionaut, flash fiction)
Ledger (nota. (lit.)
Brock & Cheryl: Comp (collaboration, Fictionaut, short story)
Gerade links (Fictionaut)
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (still photo - garden)
[Subj: re: doing time ... (autobio., old draft, Fictionaut, inquiry (cult.)]
Tilly Artaud (Fictionaut)
Sentences like little isles of meaning (nota. (lit.)
Écriture de la chatte (Fictionaut, fiction)
>>
Fiancée (Fictionaut, short story)
Inaccrochable (Fictionaut, short story, still photo)
Hypogynormous ruble (exchange rates for Zynga) (Fictionaut, autobio., still photo: garden)
Seven digits (still photo: garden)
Why I Farm (still photo: garden)
Unplugged Hand (still photo)
Interview at Experimental Fiction/Poetry/Jazz (link)
Burning Bush (still photo: garden)
The Argotist Online (nota. lit., link)
Olmsted Point at Yosemite (still photo)
>>
Work on What Has Been Spoiled (fiction, link)
Turning Thirty (Fictionaut, fiction)
Solzhenitsyn Juke-Box (Fictionaut, fiction)
Sound Experiment (2) (sound experiment, photo)
Po-cash (Fictionaut, fiction)
Queen of Spades (fiction)
Curfew (Fictionaut, fiction)
At the gate (still photo, shostowrimo)
Welcome (still photo, shostowrimo)
Denouement (fiction, shostowrimo)
>>
Dual citizens (fiction, shostowrimo)
Truck (fiction, shostowrimo)
Wildlife (fiction, shostowrimo)
La discrimination positive (fiction, shostowrimo)
Under the hood (fiction, shostowrimo)
A motto for love (fiction, shostowrimo)
He heralds newsworthy deaths (fiction, shostowrimo)
Interview (fiction, shostowrimo)
Times tells her (fiction, shostowrimo)
Koan (fiction, shostowrimo)
>>
Talk of the weather (fiction, shostowrimo)
Cognates in the Post (fiction, shostowrimo)
He can read her thoughts (fiction, shostowrimo)
In for the night (fiction, shostowrimo)
At the drugstore (fiction, shostowrimo)
A new pair of glasses (fiction, shostowrimo)
Miss widow (fiction, shostowrimo)
Her boss calls during lunch hour (fiction, shostowrimo)
12 sentences (fiction, shostowrimo)
A misreading (fiction, shostowrimo)
>>
Bird sanctuary (fiction, shostowrimo)
Eloise's porter (fiction, shostowrimo)
In the suburbios (fiction, shostowrimo)
Vertigo (fiction, shostowrimo)
Lake Harriet (photo, shostowrimo)
Radio (fiction, shostowrimo)
Wall Street (fiction, shostowrimo)
These females take no prisoners (cnf, mehewrimo)
My sentence-maker went out for lunch (cnf, mehewrimo)
Daisies by day (photo, mehewrimo)
>>
Lobelia (photo, mehewrimo)
Simon heads to Great Mother Conference (photo, mehewrimo)
Discourse in public life (pu-!le-miks) (cnf, mehewrimo)
Brunnera (Siberian Bugloss) (photo, mehewrimo)
Kipling Avenue (photo, mehewrimo)
Iris (photo, mehewrimo)
They do if you pick them (cnf, photo, mehewrimo)
Clinic art (nota. art, mehewrimo)
"Cold as Life" (nota. lit., poetry - concrete, mehewrimo)
Duluth Harbor (poetry - concrete, mehewrimo)
>>
Tobacco Verses by Maxim Zuzin (nota. lit., mehewrimo)
"My weird" (cnf, mehewrimo)
Quisnam dat poeta pecunia? (cnf., mehewrimo)
"Negativity for Life" (nota. lit., mehewrimo)
Suffering is true to their gender (cnf, mehewrimo)
Joni Mitchell (nota. art, mehewrimo)
Lily Tomlin and Cher Bono (nota., mehewrimo)
There but for the grace of God go they (cnf, mehewrimo)
Female friendships are left to be engendering (cnf, mehewrimo)
Words at Ana Verse with "fem" in them (list, mehewrimo)
>>
Words at Ana Verse with "men" in them (list, mehewrimo)
Country without a name (cnf, mehewrimo)
As Tide is to Woolite (cnf., mehewrimo)
Uncl./ant. (inquiry - cult, draft, mehewrimo)
Mental notes (list, mehewrimo, ltr.)
GLBT(Q) plus O (cnf, mehewrimo)
Death by Comet (cnf, mehewrimo)
Southern Man (cnf, mehewrimo)
May is MeHeWriMo (list, mehewrimo)
Chant de la Sirene (nota. lit.)
>>
Becoming Billie Holiday (nota. lit.)
Lolita: a pyramid story (open letter)
Notecard from "Hoss Men" (Oct. 2008) (list)
A short draft in feminism (autobio.)
Sylvia Plath's "I Am Vertical" (poetry, nota. (lit.), inquiry (lit.), open letter)
Elsewhere on the web for March 2009 (nota. (lit.)
Acceptance is to her a phenomenon (prose cut-up)
Journey of Man (nota.)
Citizens: a fragment (dialogue, fiction)
One-word Q & A (list)
»
W'assup with Edward Albee? (inquiry-lit.)
On greatness (nota., poetry -line)
Credenza (revision)
"I" pronoun-noun-verb succession (prose cut-up)
Move hand at yes (prose cut-up)
Full Moon (garden photo)
Christmas Letter (personal ltr., prose -cut-up)
"Welcome" and other words with "co" in them at Ana Verse (list, poetry -found)
"Honor" and other words with "ho" in them at Ana Verse (list, poetry-found)
Unrequited Loves, a collaboration (cnf)
»
Camille Claudel (draft, open ltr.)
"A Woman's Way Through the Twelve Steps" (poetry -line)
Punctuate (cnf, draft)
Years after Joy (inq.-cult.)
Writing in the Open (nota.)
WπHπAπT (personal ltr., prosetics, draft)
Hoss Men (prosetics)
Calling Michael Semora (nota.)
Hoss Men (13th rev.) (in reverse) (draft, prosetics)
Like a delight ("found" poem)
»
Conditions of a Narrator (inq. - lit.)
I-dot-I-dot-ippi (part 2) (autobio., ltr.)
"Obedience School" by John Ashbery (nota. - lit.)
Writing, an essay by W. H. Auden in Narrative Magazine (nota. - lit.)
57 tees from the hey (list, poetry - cut-up)
I-dot-I-dot-ippi (cnf)
Palin-drome (inquiry cult.)
Why do they stay? (cnf, draft)
Letter to BL (personal ltr., draft)
Marxist-capitalist flowers for believers (cnf)
»
How This Works (nota. lit.)
A few things I'd like to remember from Russia (autobio.)
St. Petersburg (autobio.)
Lake Ladoga (autobio.)
Volga (autobio.)
Moscow (autobio.)
Days One & Two (autobio.)
How to Reach Me (nota.)
Caregiver (cn, inquiry (cult), draft)
Dreams-in-progress (creative non/fiction)
»
Dear John (letter)
Poem by Linde Brocato
Blog Reader Appreciation Day (list)
En(gag)ed (fiction) (draft)
Take It or Leave It (inq. cult.)
Grandfather, George A. Bogle (1892-1962) (photo)
The time has come (to talk politics) (ltrs.)
Ann Bogle (c) 2008 by Beez Johnson (photo)
Power & Control v. Equality (nota.)
Fortunes in cookies, 2007 (list)
»
Bliss (c.n.)
January was in New York (autobio.)
Sunday Salon Reading (nota.- lit.)
The Quarterly (photo)
Letter from Gordon Lish
Happiness in love (c.n.) (draft)
Bounce (c.n.)(draft)
Presidential candidates (autobio.)
My obsessions (c.n.) (draft)
First snow (photo)
»
Driving years (open ltr.)
Cousin, short story
Shop like a man (autobio.)
Grand i flora Hosta in Autumn (photo)
Cock Rock at Maple (photo) (draft)
Autumn kilt: 2 weeks earlier (photo) (draft)
Halloween (poem)
Index at Ana Verse
"Vital Signs: Hysteria is calmer than you think" (nota.)
Gossip (unmailed letter: UML), Oct. 6, 2007 (draft)
»
Birdfeeders in autumn (photo)
Reply to "a note on feminism" (draft)
A note on feminism (draft)
Invisible Jazz (diary, Sept. 29, 2007) (draft)
Dream in Snow Circle (creative nonfiction = c.n.)
Dinner (autobio.)
Pay-off (def.)
Candor, or cited (c.n.) (draft)
Catechism (inquiry - relig.)
Linda (poem)
»
Men's movement (c.n.) (draft)
Getting it (c.n.) (draft)
Webgoing Notes (list) (draft)
Sex and Taxes (photo) (draft)
Lesson 38 (found poem)
Windowkill (Goldfinch, m.) (photo)
Jack in the Pulpit (photo)
Sargent Highbush Cranberry (photo)
Grand i flora Hosta (photo)
Walter Fox (photo)
»
Poem by Bruce Johnson
Let's imagine that the war is over (c.n.)
Literary criticism at weblogs (inquiry - lit.)
Wisdom of Dr. Abraham Low (nota.)
Ornamental Pepper (photo)
90s short stories (inquiry - lit.)
Small party for an excuse (personal ltr.)
After the elms (photo)
Sisters (personal ltr.)
First Edition (Rose) (photo)
»
Buried tree (photo)
Dime (poem)
Technological prose (inquiry lit.)
Dutch Elm Disease (photo)
Coneflower (photo)
Other letter (excerpt)
Today: Journal, July 21, 2007 (c.n.)
Journal (cont'd), July 21, 2007 (c.n.)
Texta on genre (nota. - lit.)
Cafe Barbette in Minneapolis (photo)
»
Dear Physical Man: (fiction)
Dear Eunice: (fiction)
Rose garden (photo)
Rida, rida ranka (folkpoetry - note)
Housekeeping (list of 19 drafts)
Our House (photo)
Yellow Stargazer (Lily) (photo)
Black Cohosh (photo)
Thinking Again (nota. - lit.)
Rock band days (autobio.)
»
Lake Minnetonka (photo)
Feather Reed (photo)
Garden vegetables (photo)
Footpath (photo)
Catmint (photo)
What's in a rouge (photo)
& red wheelbarrow (2) (photo)
Endless Summer (photo)
White Clips & Blue Clips (photo)
My Jane Eyre (draft)
»
Daisies at Night (photo)
Florence's Garden (photo)
Butterfly Weed (photo)
Tawny Daylily (photo)
Red Elderberry (photo)
Building #2 (prose poetry)
Fish (c.n.)
The Semicolon (prose poetry)
Red wheelbarrow (photo)
Seven things (a writing exercise)
»
Jardiniere (photo)
Onion family (photo & short story excerpt)
Rhubarb (photo)
Dream about the W.A.S.P.s (c.n.)
Rose from Lake Nokomis (photo)
Visiting in New York (draft)
Why we blog (nota - lit.)
Depression & poetry (draft)
Dying not (prose poem)
Dr. Abuzzahab (draft)
»
Caesar's Brother (Iris) (photo)
Karma (def.)
Jealous (def.)
The deer (bio.)
Red elephant (photo)
Baby picture (1962) (photo)
The recent death of poet Sarah Hannah (draft)
Turtle (photo)
Epideictic or Panegyric (def.)
Bigot (def.)
»
Millness: On a stretcher (draft)
Disability and the United Nations (nota.)
Dial-on (c.n.)
Diagnosis (draft)
Love (draft)
Bluejays (bio. & photo)
Bon anniversaire a moi (photos)
My Stupid Talking (by Alan Sondheim) (nota. - lit.)
Peace of the Rock (photo)
Poem by Christa M. Forster
»
My publications (nota. - lit.)
My latest book (inquiry - lit.)
What is missing here (open ltr.)
Learning the lessons of school (autobio.)
My religion (autobio.)
Kamau Brathwaite (inquiry - lit.)
Waylaid (1999) (draft)
An auspicious debut (inquiry - cult.)
The Daily Bread of Poetic Justice (nota. - lit.)
Vernal equinox (c.n.)
»
Barthelme's Ghost (autobio.)
Twill skirt (c.n.)
Irish salad (c.n., draft)
Credo (prose poetry)
Stripped of all precious illusion ... (c.n.)
Sonia's Rock Band (autobio.)
What mothers want (photo)
Marxist (inquiry - cult.)
Poems by J.D. Smith
Polemics (def.)
»
A week later (autobio.)
International Women's Day: Work (inquiry - cult.)
Cold (autobio.)
Alternative poetry (inquiry - lit.)
A poet from San Francisco (autobio.)
Writers who don't love enough (inquiry - lit.)
Ann Bogle (c) 1991 by Beez Johnson (photo)
Fertility (c.n.)
C.S. Giscombe at miPOesias (nota. - lit.)
Miniatures in shadow box (photo)
»
Joy Revisited (prose poem)
Age, men, and friends (autobio.)
Wish for the left hand (fiction)
Rebellion (nota. - lit.)
Three returned poems
Nuruddin Farah (inquiry - lit.)
Basal Distance (prose poem)
On feminism (inquiry - cult.)
Note from the writer (autobio.)
Being on the outside (c.n.)
»
The eight members of the group (fiction)
Rice Crackers (inquiry - lit.)
Why I Write (inquiry - lit.)
Fiction's Properties (nota. - lit.)
Jungle (c.n.)
Work of a Reader (inquiry - lit.)
Equity (autobio.)
Ms. Sandman (draft)
Freundinnen: Her Lost Friend Poem
Sound Experiment
»
Maiden names (c.n.)
Chagrin (def.)
Words at Ana Verse with "bra" in them (found poem)
My Aunt was a Physicist (autobio.)
Genre markers (inquiry - lit.)
Animals in Reverse (bio.)
Animals, part 1 (bio.)
Animals, part 2 (bio.)
Animals, part 3 (bio.)
Fortunes in cookies, 2006 (list)
»
Winter at Christmas (photo)
Substance at stake (draft)
Honest Life (draft)
Gerade rechts zum Volkszimmer (autobio.)
A literary "stoush" (nota. - lit.)
Red Squirrel (prose poetry)
Veronica by Mary Gaitskill (nota. - lit.)
Ann Bogle! Ann Bogle! (nota. - lit.)
Publishing in (online v. print) journals (autobio.)
Growing up normal (draft)
»
Outside (photo)
The Cool Report (draft)
The Gift, short story (draft)
Reading & Writing (autobio.)
Ann Bogle (c) 2002 by David Sherman (photo)
Internalational Dictionary of Neologisms (nota. - lit.)
A delightful blog: Spooks by Me by K. Lorraine Graham (nota. - lit.)
My Crush on Daniel Ortega (short story, reprint)
Ad- (L.) and -ad (Gr.) (list, found poem)
Kitchen Set (autobio.)
»
Oh, baby! (autobio.)
Texas Was Better (short story)
Poetry at Veery Books (nota. - lit.)
Cigs, short story (draft)
Unmailed letter to UK (autobio.)
Hogging the Lady (short story, reprint)
Almanac (short story, reprint)
Wild Bore Harley (autobio.)
Ode to Coffee (folk poetry)
Varan Prost (folk poetry)
»
Hype & Melancholy (autobio.)
Ash Wednesday (autobio.)
Celebrate March 8 (nota.)
Rule Out Euthymia, short story (draft)
Lucretia, Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, 1666 (nota. - art)
Diatribe (def.)
Idolatry (draft)
Working Numbers (draft)
Guthrie Theater, Opening Summer 2006 (nota. - art)
Letters, notes, conversations, partings (inquiry - lit.)
»
I'll Never Look Black (c.n.)
Home (autobio.)
Ruth Duckworth, "The Creation" (nota. - art)
Journal Entry, March 1, 2006
This is Why I Loved You (poem)
Pochoir Prints in the Cooper-Hewitt (nota. - art)
The woman & he are talking (fiction)
'Bitter' Revision (c.n.) (draft)
Bitter Tide (c.n.) (draft)
Six Poems (draft)
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F.I.T.S. (autobio.)
Head (poem)
Frontiers Yugoslavia Thirty Notwithstanding (poem) (draft)
First Sex (autobio.)
Four Poems
Father-time (draft)
Trent Kesey (c.n.)
"Rida, rida ranka" (folk poetry)
Subj: re: doing time ... (autobio., draft)
Ann Bogle (c) 1998 by Christa Forster (photo)
What is a blog? What is a bogle? (draft)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"Vital Signs: Hysteria is calmer than you think"

Discover: Science, Technology, and the Future, November 2007, p. 32-33.

by Frank Vertosick

"[...]The emergency room had just admitted a 22-year-old convenience store clerk, whom I will call Rachel. She had awakened several hours earlier with a rather annoying problem: She could not move her legs. [...]'Does anything hurt?' I asked. 'No,' she said, shrugging. [...] 'Are they numb?' I continued, stroking her bare shins with my index finger. 'Nah, I feel that. They just feel funny, you know, heavy. Do you think this is serious? When can I go home? I have to open the store at 6. [...]'

"Further interrogation revealed little. Rachel was healthy, no illnesses, no medications, no surgeries. A smoker since 14, she used marijuana sporadically, but there was no other history of drug use. No traumas, no chance of pregnancy (her boyfriend had abruptly dumped her six months earlier, and she still seethed when discussing him), no history of depression or other mental illness, no significant family history. She was in good health. Except for the 'leg thing.'

"In addition to lacking any obvious pathology, she also lacked health insurance. The ER had already set up an MRI of her entire spine and summoned the technician from home to do it. This might yield an answer -- but I suspected the truth about her condition already, and I was reluctant to saddle the woman with thousands of dollars of expensive pictures. The tests would all be negative anyway.

"A quick examination confirmed my suspicions. When I poked her foot with a pin, she yelped but didn't move her legs. [...]These findings, coupled with a blase attitude toward her paralysis (a mental state known in neurology as "la belle indifference"), made me suspect a rather distasteful diagnosis: hysteria.

"[...]Today hysteria is known by the more palatable but still inaccurate moniker 'conversion disorder.' It manifests acutely in the form of blindness, paralysis, even coma, with no apparent organic disease. Sigmund Freud believed that the hysterical mind converts some psychic trauma into a physical malady that will both garner sympathy and allow the sufferer to hide from her problems behind a shield of illness. Decades before Freud, the great French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot suggested that hysteria was indeed an organic brain illness, not the product of a disturbed or demon-possessed mind, but Freud's explanation gained wider acceptance.

"Although many hysterics complain of mental distress (like Rachel's boyfriend woes), recent neurophysiological evidence from PET scans and functional MRIs suggests that the malady may be akin to a seizure initiated by the frontal lobes, and so is a condition of the brain as well as the mind. Some people may have a vulnerability to this kind of response to stress. Thus Charcot was probably right (he usually was), and Freud was probably wrong (no surprise there either).

"[...] I told [Rachel] that most likely nothing serious was going on and that she probably had a 'vitamin deficiency.' This is one aspect of hysterical paralysis that still smacks of a psychiatric origin: Patients must be convinced that they are being treated as if they have an organic disease. Simply telling them they are imagining things doesn't work very well.

"There is an old adage: Neurology is what you do while you are waiting for the films to be developed. [...]

"Twenty minutes after the [vitamin] infusion ended, Rachel's legs roared to life, and she walked out the door. I went home, tired but happy in the knowledge that I hadn't allowed a single freakish spasm of a young woman's brain to land her in the poorhouse or in the psychiatric ward."

Gossip (unmailed letter: UML), October 6, 2007

I would appreciate it if you would refrain from discussing things I have discussed with you with your friends, your family, and your boyfriend unless I have okay'd it. Most everything I told you I was trying to tell you privately, and it didn't work in any way. I have learned from dealing with your group indirectly: beginning with your telling me that sex is required if a man & woman are alone in a room together yet not allowed in dating. This goes back to the blind dates you sent me on & up to the present w/ the date my mother asked to stay at a hotel. Either way, you try to set moral rules for your friends and for the community without thinking of reality. Sex is never required. As someone who claims now to have had sex with only three men in her entire lifetime, you may not realize what other women have had to go through with men. Furthermore, unpaid caregiving of men with serious illnesses is a hardship unlike any other, one you have so far never experienced and may never experience; even paid caregiving of men with serious illnesses has not happened to you, and may not happen since you were married short-term to someone without illnesses and have refused to marry your boyfriend. Other things: it does your friends little good to try to persuade them to go out drinking with you. It shows that you are not interested in their safety. You are popular, but you accomplish this without actually being kind to your friend's secrets. I protect you, your friends and their secrets. Perhaps your friends should start to think of me as their other friend.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Birdfeeders in autumn

Reply to "a note on feminism"

Bogle:

I'll always be your friend, whether or not I'm registered. :) Truthfully, I'm wary of facebook: Many of my students use it, and I think it's a good idea for the faculty to give students a certain amount of "psychic space." I'm sure they don't want to see me at the bars they hang out at; or see me wearing fashions like they do; or even see me much outside of class at all. I want to honor the fact that they have their own codes and sub-culture, and I want them to honor the fact that I think many of their activities are icky, goofy, or a combination of the two-"icgoofy."

My friend S. forwarded one of your koans -- the one about elephant poo -- and I'm assuming elephant poo only plays a significant role in one of your essays, but I acknowledge I may be wrong.

I teach "Intro. to Women's Studies," and I recognize some of my students in your words. I just don't recognize feminism in it. Upper-middle and upper-class, white women don't like other women, and they never have; after all, mom was a woman, and she was the first to point out just how high the standards are to catch that upper-middle or upper-class, white male with all of his earning power and cognate privilege. To be a working class or non-white woman and to somehow fail to "catch" a similar man is just not as disastrous, so the frenzy is much less intense. Less to lose means less to gain, but it also means other women cannot take away something as important, even necessary, to your standard-of-living. Consequently, "other" women have more female friends, real female friends, not just shopping friends, or book-club friends, or play-date friends. A "real" friend doesn't care how much you weigh, earn, owe, or get laid. It's about you, not the size of your paycheck or your ass. She doesn't flirt with your man because he's not as important to her as you are; in fact, she would help you hide his body should it become necessary for you to kill him, and, of course, you may have to do the same for her.

It's very difficult for any woman to make as much as a man, and it's even more so the further you go up the privilege ladder. A secretary or school teacher may make as much money as her supervisor husband, but a female associate in a law firm will only earn a fraction of her husband -- the law partner.

It is a "necessary but not sufficient" that the law-partner's wife be: pretty; smart, but not smarter than he is; thin; athletic; compliant; a "good mother"; supportive of his career; a great hostess; white; and educated in a non-threatening way; she must also be eternally young, or at least, eternally younger than he is and hot enough so that the other partners would want to "do" her. It is not necessary for any factory worker or fireman to have a wife that is attractive to his male co-workers, but it is a necessity for the CEO.

I can only imagine the bitterness when some women finally read the fine print on the "professional wife contract" and realize "eternal youth" is not really an option, the benefits of botox notwithstanding. Or you could starve, and exercise, and smile, and cheerfully clean up elephant poo, and yet it doesn't work: Maybe no powerful white man shows up to give you 2.5 children and a McMansion in the suburbs. It is a rude awakening, but not as rude as the daily lives of fat women, poor women, "ugly" women," women who are "too smart" and won't or can't hide it, lesbians, women of color, old women, disabled women.

Try to break the rules, and then see what happens: Have you ever seen a "no skinny chicks" or "no pretty chicks" T-shirt? Some women do like other women -- the same ones that also like men, but don't need them to buy stuff for them. And yes, male privilege extends to even the most pathetic bearers of the Y chromosome, who aren't "masters of the universe," but still believe they deserve what Mr. CEO has earned by virtue of his sheer bastardness. That's called "patriarchy." If you only respect "prickiness" then you won't have far to look. Consider meeting more women and men who "just say no" to the gender police. Consider saying no to middle class expectations and weirdness. Consider celibacy. Consider not judging every woman you meet by standards that have only screwed you over in the past. Consider that it is still easier to teach brain-dead undergraduates for dollars-on-the-head (fewer students and they cut your pay or cancel your class) than it is to pick strawberries. Consider that it may be easier to have no man at all than to have a man who just pisses you off whenever you listen to what he's saying. Consider that complete happiness was never guaranteed to any human by God, so how could another human give it to you? Consider eating alone in a restaurant, and both an appetizer and a dessert! Consider two desserts!

love,

BEL

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A note on feminism

This koan: an elephant walks in the living room, shits, and leaves. It's the woman's job to clean up the shit and put her house back in order: No one will do it if she doesn't, and she can't live w/ all that stinking elephant shit on the carpet. She applies herself to the task, and soon, the further she gets, the more achieved she feels. Self-esteem arises in her from this amazing experience of becoming efficient at cleaning up the elephant's shit. Then the elephant walks back in. What is feminism? Women here have been describing it as an "ism." Someone else assumes it is meaningless, but would he say, meaningless like Marxism. I have heard that some think feminism is an extenuation of religion.

Men sympathetic to women's causes and plights are sympathetic because they like women. It seems increasingly that many women don't like women very much, that liking women is too obvious, that one has to pretend one doesn't notice us. There is no out and out acceptance of Feminism as necessary to humanism. Where I live (perhaps outside religion as most people where I live are), girls are liabilities -- openly complained of -- and boys assets. The futures for girls & women are limited to their physical assets, but even beauty is poor -- the pay is well below the livable rate for many women I know who work, resumes & experience go unregarded, housing costs are obscene, and contrary to the popular songs about the joy of and signs of love that come of hitting us ("if that ain't love, I don't know what is"), even non-feminists leave when he acts violently;

by the same token, men have told me that they know only women with high incomes, and have rarely met the other kind of woman, the mother of daughters, who goes underpaid, her daughters who go underpaid, thin women who go underpaid, regardless of their educations, regardless even of Ivy-league educations, the unmarried who go underpaid, the women's sympathizers who go underpaid.

Item: In 1999, my boyfriend abruptly blocked access to my car, when I tried to leave a restaurant without him -- we were in a disagreement over someone else's religious recovery, and he turned on me; he hoped there would be life and death stakes in this woman's life; she was the Jewish mother of two young daughters. I'd already known him to be a salesman who assigned dollar values to people's foreheads. I called the police, who interrogated me at my car. A year later, I had lost 20 needed pounds due to stress; the mother I had defended from my boyfriend's attitudes had taken to heroin; he had gained 10 pounds, complained of his spare tire, and awaited the birth of his male 9-pounder out another woman's oven -- she a non-college-educated non-feminist, who was out-earning us, who left him for violence within a few years.

Anyway, it's this kind of "sex" that many women don't want to run the risk of going without.

Thin women around here, the lucky ones, make $18 K for a full year at it. I swear, they're paying women by the pound! It's as if the collective mind believes that men will make up the difference in thin women's paychecks, as if it's an Us not an ism.

Write a song about that. Do we poets know how to write songs?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Invisible Jazz (diary, September 29, 2007)

I tried to send photos to my email address but to no avail. I want to show the garden past peak, what it looks like to be winding down, to be turning autumn in its leaves, the leaves on the ground, the withered flower stalks.

Last night we went to a poetry program at Bedlam Theatre called Invisible Jazz. It was a show about women being sexy (and a man named Wonder Dave being sexy), which in many ways was a shame because there were older people in the audience who probably came for the jazz & the language, as I did. It gets to be costly after a while to cast all women as sex objects, for them to cast themselves as sex objects, because little remains after that display is over for them to do, besides clean the house, and I think the younger women know it and think they can defy it and that it will be different when they turn 40, but it will be the same, not different, and there will be little for them to do besides clean the house and sometimes to look ridiculous dressed as aging prostitutes -- as there was one woman dressed as a prostitute dancing with her old man last night, and she was not so young, and she looked ridiculous, and if she were wearing clothing that showed joy or experience, she might have looked, actually, prettier, and had even more fun. Who wants to dress like a prostitute at 50? It's a story.

I was wearing a cat suit with cowboy boots and rusty fringe-leather jacket, but I was steadfastly asexual the whole night. I was on a date with a poet, but we are asexual. Perhaps if I had not been killed by a Catholic Recovery brigade, I might know where to fit physically into this universe, but not-killed is not what happened. What happened did.

The jazz, when it rolled around at midnight or so, was terrific, not least because it was poetry-jazz. The artists were Christopher Shillock, Tabatha Predovich, and Minnesota Spoken Word Association's E.G. Bailey and Sha Cage.

A few days earlier: Tuesday morning I found the lump in my right breast. I doubled my dose of Wellbutrin, an anti-depressant, which I should have done sooner. I bought chewable vitamins, since all pills, including nutritional supplements, now cause a gag reflex in me. The doctor did a manual exam on Friday and found nothing too strange. The lump had subsided, might even have been a wasp bite, as we had many wasps circling the yard, and my mother was bit a few times, and the bites swelled. I'll get a standard mammogram in late October.

The doctor is an old-fashioned G.P. and remembers me from ten years ago, when my disposition was sunny, and I had friends and a boyfriend -- really a long time ago now -- he said yesterday, to remind me, that I am one of his favorite people, and it was good to see me "back." "You know," I told him, "I had a really dreadful years-long series of manic-depressive episodes, but it's better now."

The people I know got to have jobs; I'll never know what they know about being respectable white people, even though they are supposedly writers, and writers are the liver of the country, and they'll never know what it might be to be white people without posts. Will they? I feel like I have to be private here: I did recently gain a post and would rather not discuss it, except to say it's good & right & high time.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dream in Snow Circle

I dreamt that we were in the snow. The snow looked like the tundra. My sister was there and was looking at me from inside the snow circle near the house. She was knitting or mending. Pierre Joris was standing in open snow, wearing a parka, and the fur ruff on his hood made him look sincere. I told my sister, “That's Pierre Joris. He's a poet.” “Oh,” she said. Then Pierre came to talk to me. He had a collection of record albums indoors; we went inside to search the records and see the equipment. The phone rang. A freelance client named Martin, who had unwillingly given up a chance to work with me to a man named Clay, was calling to warn me that Clay had ripped up a plastic milk jug in the house they rented, while claiming the jug was me. When I got off the phone, I wanted to play my “Sound Experiment” for Pierre, knowing he might like it if it were played properly with the right equipment, but it didn't seem possible: a French feminist in a caftan had come into the room and was applying cream to her elbows. She ordered the equipment. Pierre said to me, “I'm horny.” “I can read French," I told him. "If you heard my French, you would laugh.” My sister stayed outside near the snow circle mending.

Posted at Annandale Dream Gazette. Read Robert Kelly's description of poets' dreams at Ready Steady Book.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Dinner

At our women's dinner last night, no one took pictures -- for a change. All seven women were dressed up and looked beautiful. We all look beautiful "for our age." Our ages varied 41-66 (or so), adjusting for the possibility that one of us is altering our statistics. Let's say, not. We grew up together, most of us. Our goal was to eat a terrific meal in a restaurant and to light up cigarettes afterward. Soon, we won't be able to do that, and already, we have had to drive to the neighboring county to do that. Our hostess, whom I call Lana at this weblog, visits Florida to see her snowbird parents and believes the smoking ban is our Prohibition. She has been watching old Bogart movies and realizing the end of an era. I wore my Mizrahi evening dress that I got at Target for $6. The truth is, we hardly ever understand what is going on. If you consider that it is legal to boot-lock my car in a Minneapolis parking lot for $119.75 but not to smoke in a restaurant, are we not in our rights to ask what rights are, what ours are and what they were? I ordered, of all things, beef liver. What a strange decision, to eat liver at a restaurant. All the women asked to taste it, as if it were an exotic appetizer. I gave them all bites. For liver, it tasted very good, but for food, it tasted like liver. The thought of it, while I ate it, was causing a ruckus in my esophagus, and twice I went to the women's room to burp violently near the sink. I ate it in the hopes that it will help my liver, which is holding up all right after all these years of taking medications and a past of too much drinking. So, we were all healthy but suffering financially, not equally so, and the tendency to suffer financially was caused by our men. We took a quiz in moral values, phrased as a party game for women. After the story-quiz, it came clear that I place my values in the following order: Security (the old male friend), Love (the girl), Sex (the lover), Morals (the girl's female friend), Money (the old man). There was every possible combination in the group. I'm keeping this vague, because it's more important to get out and enjoy company and a meal once in a while than it is to report on it in a detailed format; you see how it makes for paler writing. I do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pay-off (def.)

(from Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary):

n., 1. originally, the act or time of payment. [Colloq.]
2. settlement or reckoning. [Colloq.]
3. something that is unexpected or almost incredible, especially when coming as a climax or culmination. [Colloq.]

We had a spiritual practice in Houston whereby one of us would open the dictionary randomly and point to the "power word of the day." The first time one of us did it, the power word was "fig." I've done this only a couple times on my own. Today's power word is "pay-off." Further words to help me interpret the significance of that word are "rodent," "sliding scale," "pudding," and "metemptosis," wh. means "the suppression of the bissextile day once in 134 years, to prevent the new moon from being indicated in the calendar a day too early: compare proemptosis (in chronology the addition of a day every 300 years and another every 2400 years to the lunar calendar, to prevent the date of the new moon being set a day too soon)."

Espied: neighbors in the dictionary: "promiscuousness" and "promise."

Candor, or cited

"The End," Oct. 9, 1991, p. 294

Prayer: May we be relieved of knowing (too much or too little) about the sins of others?

If I don't get back to life immediately I'll die. My throat is aching, just like the woman in the dream. They're killing me. Maybe a man's throat somewhere is aching. Our thwarted destinies. Romance is a romance. We repel one another. Union is brief, inconsistent. Peace is highly desirable. Bear your knowledge. If you can bear your knowledge, you are a plant. Men's greater physicality protects him from other men and from women. He remembers being overpowered and abandoned by a woman. His woman, his mother, left him. He's hurt. He must get over it. He mistreats women, who are peaceful by nature; he tempts her, too. What is sinister in us must be handled, melted, dwelt in, balanced. As I have always done, faithfully. How else could I tell the story I have told? I was supposed to be not only a suicide but a lesbian, to bear my knowledge by not knowing that women, terrible, destroy. Women do destroy. Freud was (right about everything except one thing) wrong. Are we locked in this coupling? Are we amenable? I need a vegetarian man, a thinker, a logician. Not what I'd had in mind the first time. I'd wanted the other kind, (a real) one to subdue me. I still do. He can know I won't use my power to blast him. He will be respectful, not fearful, because he has gone to the core of his knowledge and seen what men are and has re-formed. This re-breaking of myself, this giving myself (social) cancer (candor) in search of the truth, like Marie Curie, in sacred territory. Handle with care.

(repeated): from the Christopher Isherwood Diaries (July, 1940):

Prayer for writers: 'Oh source of my inspiration, teach me to extend toward all living that fascinated, unsentimental, loving and all-pardoning interest which I feel for the characters I create. May I become identified with all humanity, as I identify myself with these imaginary persons. May my life become my art and my art my life.'

Catechism

It could be a blessing but also a curse that in God's light a girl seeing her self-witness asserts herself. The mother built a haymow in the yard. The cat sleeps in it. The Catholic catechism is a gift to Catholic children. What people believe is in the human part of nature to realize -- that the genitals are reserved for Christian marital contact only -- was not in evident practice by Catholic recipients of the catechism and therefore not revealed and not in human nature self-revealing. Heathens, as the dust-men call us, never received the gift of the catechism. We were called to enter the Covenant with God. Our religious practices of childhood forsaken, but not our friendships, with Jewish gay men and women. The Torah tastes like Hawaiian honey-bread, but the Catholic catechism is grave and admits (repentant sinners) to joy and happiness, grace and heart. The condemned read in its pages their condemnation. The catechism calls us to live divinely in poverty, humility, and chastity. The Catholic women provide the orders of their religious upbringings to us who were given little guidance, only love of Christ on Easter and at Christmas, in our states of grace, perceived to be the province of our hearts and the hearts of our parents.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Linda (poem)

to Patty D.

"Do all women carry purses?"
she asked.
"Am I a woman?"
I asked.
"Yes,"
she said.
"Do I carry a purse?"
"No,"
she replied.
"Can I have your purse?"
she asked.

(1983)

Men's movement

What is it, really? These posts I detained: perhaps *Sonia* is peeved to see them "removed," but I can replace them at will, reveal them again at any time. These are not books. These are a blood list, not of names. A list of bleedings that I partially wrote, that I wrote as long as I dared to write them, a packet of essays, a list not of names.

The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman. I watched it Sunday evening at Oak Street Cinema while Asian sheisters locked up my car with a tire boot. Later, they charged me $119 to remove it. That was to be my dinner budget for Friday, when six women were to enjoy our final night smoking and drinking in a restaurant in Chanhassen, a night before the smoking ban takes full effect on Oct. 1. I was to take a cab, in case I wanted to drink too much: red wine, Bloody Mary's, perhaps a tangy beer -- until tipsy, something I do on rare occasions, and sex, something we are not to do in this Age of the New Men. Funny, during the age of the new women, men continued in their drinking & violence, did they not? And didn't they befriend one another? And didn't they meet & mingle? And didn't they graduate college & assume positions? In this, the age of new men, the women are to be tested and subjugated, neglected and ignored. Some women are happy in it, if they have found a little money, if there is still a trail of it, a hot one. Breasts: round & sculpted under skinny long shirts, reverse cut-offs under lingerie nighties on bicycles, inviolate teenagers riding alongside victimized ones.

Swedes in the film. The knight of the Crusades was angelic, true, but I liked the squire more. The women were beautiful, young, & ridiculously unchastened by Death, the Black Death, the subject of the film, that and religion, the film a tome.

Therapy disgusts me. I barely hid my contempt for it at a new therapist's office Monday. What a wimp! What a pathetic passive softhead. Still, in my dutiful condition I shall accept a top-flight therapist, an enlightened woman or man, a guide.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Getting it

Never have I felt so embarrassed. I have shouted about how much I hate rich people. This goes into the phone, along with many other words in the language, words about relationships & friends & men & hospitals & housing & outings -- to my sister, to T. My favorite lack is of outings. We go nowhere together. Anton Chekhov & Arthur Miller love me in the eyes. Sex is a thing of the good past, of the newspaper. New sex is a nuisance: the men had horrible marriages and their wives are horrible and their children are horrible and their careers in shreds and tatters and their ruins in suits as if their ruins were attractive and the men after marriage, in its aftermath & in chasing it; anyway, getting married is for sweethearts, as I may apply myself to be, and its excessive wealth, to relearn shopping, after giving it up, to learn a Sunday common prayer, a practice of religious worship, to be a salon-goer again, someone who gets up in the morning, who has a life, to be a wife, and just be embarrassed by it, by money: for decades. To sneakily give it away to men, to friends, to you. I shall write story plays with long passages of dialogue, and you will not; I shall write poems & short stories, and your poems & short stories will outshine mine, and I shall be glad for our bittersweet episodes of longshots. You brute! You singer! You zimcareeter, frog tester. Lipper. Yes, married, then people at the party? Invite yourself. I've been to three weddings, two of family, and a few funerals. We're having a great festival & wearing a great dress & a suit. We begin to live in honor.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Webgoing Notes

Oh, surfers -- is that still a word? -- sufferers -- who visit Ana Verse searching for Swedish folksongs: "Rida, Rida Ranka" & "Ode to Coffee" & "Varan Prost" have brought it to the top of the google list, yet the punctuation -- so lazy on my part -- is unofficial. Umlauts & the little circle dot over the "a," I guess you'd say, are missing. I was once very careful about such things but have grown lax; there is no translation in Spanish for the found poem in "Lesson 38." Again, lazy.

Million-dollar ideas: Here's one for Oisseau, my name for an occupational visitors' program to schools, similar to writers-in-the-schools, based on Studs Terkel's Working. Parents & community members visit schools & give presentations on their occupations throughout the school year.

Another one: WPA -- federal Writers' Project (from the 1930s) -- revisited, this time to systemetize the self-help book industry. I picture thousands of editors & writers reading self-help books & articles, in print & on the internet, selecting, critiquing, and reviewing those books and shortlisting them for the masses. Included would be books in use, even if out-of-print, with the best of those going into reprintings. Writers recommend novels, short stories, poetry, & plays that help lives & why.

Do you like Hillary Clinton? I hear from my correspondents & colleagues that she is too like the Republicans for their liking, yet I think she's the best candidate for fighting the terrorism that is the Reagan-Bush era. We cannot afford to have a Doe for president, next. I hear that she "is scary" and that John Edwards might be a new FDR. I revered John Kerry and believe he would have made an excellent administrative president. Hillary makes me feel proud to be a woman. That is not "neither here nor there." Is porn a genocide? No news on that subject. Who stakes bare her clam?

Jimmy Carter, they said, had too little sex; Jesse Jackson too weird diction. I don't even have a heart, except in quiet breathing moments with odd women; I've certainly never lusted in it -- a fete in sin. We miss their diplomacy, the once-tame economy, the affordability of life, and reduced crime.

Louise DeSalvo's book, Writing As A Way of Healing (Beacon Press Books, 1999), is excellent and a help to teachers whose students have endured traumas. She outlines safe procedures for writing through difficult passes & lists similar difficulties of many favored authors.

Heard on my walks: Tighty whitey!

Inchworm ...

Out.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Lesson 38

The verb "tener" (to have) (present tense)

I have a book.
You are hungry./You have hunger.
You have a big bed.
He has a wife.
She has a child.
We have a problem.
You have a house (plural, as in Spain)
You have a house (plural)
They have tickets for a trip to Spain.
I have a father.
You have a mother.
My house has three doors.
It has seven windows also.
We have time.
You have a pen.
They have some tickets for the ferry boat.
They have some gifts for their husbands.

(from onlingo by Henry N. Raymond)

Windowkill (Goldfinch, m.)

Jack in the Pulpit

Sargent Highbush Cranberry

Viburnum

Grand i flora Hosta

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Poem by Bruce Johnson

Black bird struttin’ by the road,
your wing’s draggin’.
you’re still proud.
what now black bird?
you still know the sentinel calls.
no use.
will you strut your heart stopt?
will the black bird that animates you
whip off?
away?
marry a chink in the sky?
will your bird folk render a moonless night
palpable:
say all the black
words
name the corn,
the carrion,
the black berries that enjoyed your
stomach,
the
what
it
was
that
lived
for
you?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Let's imagine that the war is over!

I'd like to write a stream-of-consciousness passage but have no impetus to do so, no jazz up my sleeve, no will that needs to be bent along the river lines of interior thought & language, language that doesn't belong there: what of it? "legally": My mind is blank. I feel idiocized by our country's leadership. I have been reasoning all day and all during a week of pitiful anxiety -- anxiety over anxiousness itself, nervous itch to be a body -- reading in Anne Carson's Men in the Off Hours about women as domesticated animals -- that the end of the war will come as a relief to us. This is the 200th entry at Ana Verse.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Literary criticism at weblogs

There is an article by Sven Birkerts about various things business and internet, including remarks by Cynthia Ozick, at boston.com called "Lost in the Blogosphere: Why literary blogging won't save our literary culture." He writes, "So far it's clear that the blogosphere is in vital ways still predatory on print, that the daisy-chain needs the pretext of some original daisy; its genius, its essence, is manifestly supplementary."

"The controversy has to do with the fact that people in various quarters, literary bloggers prominently among them, are proposing that old-style print reviewing -- the word-count-driven evaluation of select titles by credentialed reviewers -- is outmoded, and that the deficit will be more than made up by the now-flourishing blog commentary."

Long before the internet, I worked at a regional upstate New York newspaper in the 1980s. I edited wire. There was little in the way of book reviewing at that paper, and the books that came in for review -- in case there were someone to review them -- were of little significance. They were chunks of thinly sliced lumber. In defending print culture and credentials, Birkerts doesn't mention books like that or newspapers that already lacked arts coverage. The newspaper's readers were "ordinary folks" who presumably didn't read many books.

Most of us in the literary blogosphere read both print and on the internet and are saddened at the loss of traditional business at newspapers that Birkerts regrets. Birkerts seems to imagine a flourishing blogosphere of talkers who tend not to read books, but who "review" books. It is my impression that many of us in the literary blogosphere are in print, and many are trained. The issue he doesn't mention is pay: how to do it? I have thought that a genius for our time will be someone who invents a way.

According to Birkerts, Ozick has commented in Harper's that she would like to see the literary culture become a culture of criticism.

"What is needed," Ozick writes, "is a broad infrastructure, through a critical mass of critics, of the kind of criticism that can define, or prompt, or inspire, or at least intuit, what is happening in a culture in a given time frame. . . . In this there is something almost ceremonial, or ceremoniously slow: unhurried thinking, the ripened long (or sidewise) view, the gradualism of nuance."

Blogs have been a forgotten art form from the beginning, but they are serving a crucial role in keeping inquiry afloat. I anticipate a big wave of literary print elite writers who are coming to the internet, who will be agented there, who will not have created the internet, who are not technically-oriented, and who will, in effect, take over with their more prodigious talents and their headshots, whose publishing sponsors will charge. Shall we become their literary critics? Shall we gossip about them?

Or be our own sponsors & enjoy a lighter life.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wisdom of Dr. Abraham Low

"Whether you are right or wrong is immaterial. Temper is a matter of breeding, not of right and wrong."

"With us in Recovery it is an axiom that while a nervous ailment is not necessarily caused by distorted beliefs, nevertheless, if it persists beyond a reasonable time, its continuance, stubbornness and 'resistance' are produced by continuing, stubborn and 'resisting' beliefs."

"Humans have never been known to endorse themselves as they should."

"With reference to his symptoms a nervous patient must be genuine in feeling and sincere in thought."

"I can't tell you not to feel provoked. I may tell you that I have a great capacity for feeling provoked about every few minutes, but I hope I have an equally great capacity, and perhaps a trifling greater capacity, to hold down the feeling of being provoked."

"Patients who suffer from a depression think that whatever they do is wrong. They think whatever they have done in the past is wrong, and they recount past misdemeanors and so-called delinquencies, which have perhaps some basis in fact but are monstrously exaggerated. And you understand that such patients categorically deny that there is anything right in their thinking."

"A sense of humor is the sovereign means for curing nervous conditions."

"My purpose in life is to make myself and those people that are close to me -- let me say the members of my family, my friends, my neighbors, and so forth, my co-workers -- make them feel good and to make myself feel good."

"Nervous patients tend to be extremists with regard to their symptoms when they are still sick and with regard to the practice of rules after they have improved."

Selections from Dr. Low's Works
© 1997 By Phyllis Low Berning and Marilyn Low Schmitt
The Wisdom of Dr. Low is compiled by Cliff Brown and edited by Marilyn Low Schmitt.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ornamental Pepper

90s short stories

Take, for example, Lynne Tillman's Absence of the Heart (from the 90s series, Serpent's Tail, London, 1990), recommended by Harry Matthews, Gary Indiana, and Edmund White, and signed by the author. She writes, "To Tim -- very glad to meet a sympathetic [sone] All my best. Lynne T [squiggle], June 1991." It's a book of stories, but I'd thought it was likely a novel. The stories appeared prior to this publication in various literary journals. They are, for example, "AKA Mergatroyde" in New Observations, 1985; "The Trouble With Beauty" in Conjunctions 14, 1989; "A Nomadic Event in the Body," in Semiotexte, 1984; "Weird Fucks," in Bikini Girl magazine, 1980; "Diary of a Masochist," published anonymously in Paranoids Anonymous Newsletter, 1978; and "Madame Realism" in an artist's book.

My manfriend and I used to go to a bookstore on the west side of Madison in his old used Chevrolet Malibu station wagon, a car named "the space potato," because it was long and beige and had rust spots on it, like eyes of a potato. Anna Smith worked there; she was a talented experimental poet trained in acting, and my manfriend liked her, and it was an occasion to flirt with her while I sat in the aisles, mesmerized by titles. When it was time to go, he'd come and find me, and there I would be, reading the backs of books. "Don't read blurbs," he told me. "Read books."

Harry Matthews writes about this book by Lynne Tillman, "In Absence of the Heart, Lynne Tillman lures us into unfamiliar ground with utterly persuasive, utterly duplicitous candor. Once there, we shall never be brought safely home. ..." Gary Indiana writes, "Lynne Tillman has the strongest, smartest, most subtly distinct writer's voice of my generation. I admire her breadth of observation, her syntax, her wit."

Maybe it's that I live with my mother that the word "fuck" gets me highly annoyed, as if no one ought to use it. Even my mother used it once. I had said, "I'm not taking my fucking car back into that repair shop so they can overcharge me," and she said, "You're not going to have your ~fucking~ car much longer if you don't." She said it very precisely. There was no ambivalence in the way she did it. Her diction ting'd it like a bell.

A friend, yesterday, told this joke on the phone about Ferdinand the Bull. Some bulls are standing on a hill overlooking a field with cows on it. One bull says, "Let's run down the hill and fuck that cow." And another bull says, "Let's walk down and fuck all of them." A wisdom joke, he called it. He didn't realize that I had given up on sex, so it's no joke I would find amusing, but maybe it is wise. Did I get it? I suppose. It's about running vs. walking. It's the word "fuck" I don't like, but I guess that's the word we use.

"Weird Fucks" sounds like a list story -- it might be a list story. It's the opening piece in the collection and runs from page 7 to page 43. Pretty long. She writes (p. 9), "I was a slum goddess and in college. He looked something like Richard Burton; I resembled Liz. It was, in feeling, as crummy and tortured as that." I like the phrase "slum goddess in college." The first passage I opened to in the book and read, just by flipping through the pages, was very intriguing, but I will not be able to find it easily again. Here's another one: "As we entered the restaurant, he said casually, 'Some crazy person kept calling me today.' Ah, I thought, that's how he talks about me, the me he's dissociating himself from." He tells her, "'I'd pick up the phone and there'd be no one there.' 'No one there?' I asked. 'No, the phone kept ringing, I'd answer and there'd be no one there. Finally I put the answering machine on.'" (p. 65, "Hung Up").

From "Absence of the Heart" (p. 67): "It was a battle for her to think. It was pointless. She spoke to herself. I am the one who waits. I am the one who will be waited upon. I have the kiss that can change men's lives. I can awaken the dead. I can never die. I am empty. I am perfect. I am full. I am all things to all men. She shook her head violently. He watched everything. The shake of the head, a sign to him. A fire lit. Something was burning. He felt ill, he felt wonderful. She was sublime, and he wondered how words like that existed before her."

Perhaps I should read the whole book. Read it to do it justice from the inside then reinvent the ways in which it partly molded me, or not and shrug it like a sleeve or do and get out of it like pants. Reading fully is to put your hands in the hands of the maker. It is not a glance.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Small party for an excuse

She tore up in a beauty parlor, I should say, not up a beauty parlor. Not that she wasn't beautiful in her own way, more likely she was just mad at it, at beauty, not at anyone's in particular. At her 23rd medallion party, she sat next to me -- I was 37, glad to be there, glad to be alive (but not yet grateful). She said, "You seem to have a few hormones still kicking around inside you." I didn't realize what was next in the general scheme of things, the bans, if you want to call it that, bans on singles having sex, bans on marrieds having sex, and worst of all, bans on marrieds being married, what a horrible drill that was to become ... (and this was the only way I could interpret it) ... for real estate, bans which must have been working better than war to revitalize the economy. I was in my graces, and she was keeping her chin up; she had left her husband for sex then gone back for him, and he was sitting by her. She was a quipper, quicker than anyone. There was a book called Not-God that she had discussed in the meeting. I had read it.

The internet gets quiet weekends. My mother and I are going to see Sicko tonight. Tony says people in Minneapolis might do well to worry about that bridge, but people across the country shouldn't worry about it -- that's what he's been doing in New York, watching on TV all day and yesterday about the 35W bridge. Infrastructure, I said, and he said, yes, that is a good thing for the whole country to worry about then, infrastructure. Wiretapping, another thing, I was thinking, but we didn't talk about it.

Friday, August 03, 2007

After the elms

Without the elm trees, the garden will be sunnier, but what will happen to the wildflowers that grew in their shade, wildflowers that require shade? The rose garden will be less encumbered by the elm trees' root systems, roots that cable under it. In the garden, rose is a queen; the human gardener places her higher than deer who would eat her and elms dying at her feet, but I cannot help mourn the trees' passing. The rose tree from Lake Nokomis suddenly blooms again, after a slow year; the deer leave her.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sisters

Did he ever say to you, "I wish I could go running?" And so you stopped. You stopped going running when you needed your strength most in order to take care of him -- it was the summer he had the transplant, and you were decorating the house, and his mother was staying w/ him -- didn't you need your strength more than ever ... more than ever ever? If I said, "I wish I could go sailing," as you say you wish I would say, that it would occur to me to say, instead of saying what I did say, wh. is that I cannot meditate sailing on such a day, you would bitterly retort -- go sailing then, knowing no stray or bull or carnivore would take me. No, it wouldn't matter whether I said I could just go sailing on the day my sister says we wouldn't even know each other anymore, except for the relationship of sister -- and what a marvelous thing truth is; no, truth is that you like hurting me because it frees you to go sailing. That you can go sailing & feel caressed by the lake on the day after you have sent your sister to a prickly bed … that you can take her men, lightly, away from her, that you can abnegate her, frees you. I did go out on the lake this summer & tried to meditate w/ the swoosh of the water & the sun, but w/o a boyfriend in that setting, the sea was not of me, the lake, the way it was in childhood, the way nature envelops divorced people ... they are friends, but men aren't interested in me anymore, and it isn't that I wasn't spiritual enough, as you say. … Do you believe that men deserve happiness for all the happiness they have created in themselves & for others? Some of us have given every evening of our lives to working spiritual programs and still -- maybe it is men wouldn't be enough for me, a stray who likes the flash of fake blond hair, like a bird that likes shiny objects. Maybe it is that love would be enough for me, the right one. So I wrote about love in a slightly different way than you. I've been thinking about finding women again, that maybe one of them would find me worth knowing & loving & that our good humor would return to us; are there lesbians w/ boats or do only strays, bulls, and carnivores have them? and that she might be interested in something besides the flicker flash of fake blond hair, my poetry inside of me, the depths of good whales.