Monday, November 17, 2008

Camille Claudel

L.H. would not remember this bec. she was not in school w/ us, but I had taken one look at B.P. and said, "no thank you" when the other graduate students urged me to believe that he would or could make or break our careers. A. says I like alcoholics best; here was one I didn't seem to like. He was an ad man from NY, and, as it turned out, not a very talented poet. I have a stubborn streak. Perhaps B.P. made it for E.W. but broke it for the rest of us. Who among us is tenured? E.W. B.P. is E.W.'s literary executor. Is T.L. tenured? Did T.L. go through B.P.? A. and R.H. say T.L. is a sociopath. Is T.L. "missing"? T.L. got A. her "job." Is M.M. still "missing"? Why did D.M. and M.M. and A.B. avoid drugs or not encounter them until 1993 – into their 30s? What was going on in 1993? That's when I met G. and saw A. there in her cocktail dress. G. was on coke in high school. A. reminds us that T.L.'s mother was schizophrenic. Am I still missing something? Was I "missing"? I was at home not writing. The therapist said repeatedly to write for therapy only, but it was counter to training, so I sat. Later I wrote about that. Six days at the psych. hospital in Houston, so I missed a few conversations. Do the women who published books remember B.P.? L.M. may be tenured. B.P. was after her time. Is my forgetting B.P. why I said the other day that I have a life, not a career -- I have a life, not a cigarette and coffee sobriety?

T. called B.P. the other day and put us on the phone together. We talked about squirrels. I told him that I was making a chapbook for someone in a chapbook collective, and he said that that sounded "creative." Does it? I'm just dropping someone else's work at the printer and paying for it. I'm not to the point of asking B.P. to read my poems.

Y'all may have heard A. say that only one of the poems in my present chapbook, my second, the one called "Borgo Was 29 on His Birthday" is glad to be female. A. likes that poem because it has the word "consumerism" in it, my suspicion, not because it is glad to be female. The female speaker remembers for him bec. he forgets -- is remembering female? and forgetting male? I thought the rememberer in "Head" enjoys watching him from his ceiling -- the man in the poem, who is stoned, yet atoned, in his 10th step, exactly where he started. A.'s husband likes my vanity poem, the one I wrote in 1983 but did not submit or buy until many years later, when I ordered in hardcover for my mother. My first published poem. I remember when I presented it to my mother, I said, "This is not prestigious." That vanity press had gotten even more flack than usual because with W.D. Snodgrass at the helm, and larger cash prizes than most prestigious grants, people might make the mistake of thinking it was prestigious. She laughed because she liked it, anyway. Touch of Tomorrow is the name of the volume.

Gals. Girls. Ladies. T. can't pronounce the plural and says "woman" for "women." L., my former "hick" friend whom A. met, says "gals." So she sings but doesn't write. She sings a drastically deep and sonorous form of the blues and tells everyone to kiss her white ass. She's 5'2" and 105 pounds – wh. is not fat, by the way. She dropped out of college at 79 pounds. She remembers witnessing the rape of her poodle when she was young by a much larger dog, a mutt. Then Coco had one baby. L.'s nose is African like my green eyes. She gets Brazilians. She doesn't like the Jewish people due to the day the school canceled Christmas. She can't forget it. She cried over it when she told the story to her Jewish woman friend, a bartender, who couldn't get enough of her. Many alcoholics in L.'s clan. Her dad was in the bar equipment and the bar business. He died at 32 of a heart attack, but some of the kids said he'd been shot at the airport. She is Catholic/Lutheran but nothing really, which is why it jolted her not to worship Christmas at school. It jolted me less, and I loved the dredel song. We went to Congregational church and had church music there, and my father was in the choir -- these two men years later, Mr. Soules, who'd had a brain tumor that had left a stitch near his mouth, and my father, Jack Bogle (not of Vanguard but of Gillette), whose prostate cancer had left him bereft but not without strength for the distance. He died in 1992, six months after my trip to the psych. ward and the same year B.P. got to Houston. His hair was gorgeous and shiny and jet black. And his father was of Scottish parents and brown.

When C. fantasized about mental hospitals, it was the gothic type that she'd seen in Camille Claudel. When A. dreams of it, it is what? The woman the AA group stoned to a pulp was Jewish. She'd been to Bellevue in high school for downers she'd bought on 14th St. after early rapes. My family went to all lengths to protect her from her violent husband. She ended up "relapsing" on drugs she'd never used before 19 years of AA, heroin for one. T. brags about heroin. He enacts shooting up. Does anyone go to NA? Is NA just plain out of style? I agreed to go once with a schizophrenic woman pot smoker from AA. Everyone was 17 years old. One man was 40. I said very nervously in that crowd something I wouldn't say today except at an AA meeting -- I was an alcoholic.

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