Thursday, September 29, 2011
geese flap overhead. in a v? no, one side's too short making it more
a check mark. geese are smart, their timing's just right. they know when to move
to lower latitudes. the days and nights cold, the light hours abbreviated,
come december this is nowhere to be. geese honk a hundred words a day
their own sonorous back and forth. i can't be sure what it's about
the meaning in the exchange is unclear.
geese cruise along northern air currents from greenland and montreal and old town
toward mexico or other points south for the winter—the old man would like
to leave tomorrow or even sooner. pack your bags. the check mark
disintegrates into a horizontal line and geese fly leaderless, the side by side
winging of entire families. geese have this attitude—partners stay together for life—
and their goslings have been talking to them since they were inside eggs.
the afternoon disappears into dark strips of chilly air. i put away my rake, my shovel.
cold hands. i pull on my fleece, head inside, brew tea, turn on tv 2011—
the whole year spent in the creep toward november and on the airwaves talk is steeped
brown and rancid up and down this melting pot. bah! turn on thelonious monk
instead. a little evening jazz. epistrophy.
tides ebb and tides flow no matter what happens
birds fly and fish swim no matter what happens
galaxies die and galaxies are born no matter what happens
bees make honey and people make love no matter what happens
earth spins into day and earth spins into night no matter what happens
life remains scrutable and life remains inscrutable no matter what happens.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
what kind of housewifery is this?
this is the way
surrounded by heaps of washboard colors, these
soiled, worn-down threads
from seeds, dried leaves
beeches and laboratories
we wash our clothes, wash our clothes
processed cotton, linen, polyester, nylon,
rayon, modal pressure penetrating an eye
a nose, a quick fix, a sorting out
a spot check, a reality check
a soak, a load squeezed into a machine
raveled down long lines, doing lines
drop me a line, please throw me a line
peg them out strung out
streaming on the line
transformed beyond all recognition
fibers loose, floating
blindingly snowwhite, pure then
dilating to black points
swollen in desperate morning this
dark need, nerves zinging
brain waves skittering
in the morning
so shall it be done?
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
the moment is saturating you
as you swim and crawl sliding out of wet, salty silence
unfurling into voices no longer obscured, comprehending
tender murmurs, the drift of a lullaby, the incredible now of being.
the moment is nestling
in your palm, a soft, flowery-scented intoxicating thing you work
against your cheek, lingering for a while, savoring it with your lips. it is filling you
with the strange taste of first light on the first day after.
the moment is breaking through
the mark of bloodied knees, high school crushes, inevitable
disappointment, victims and survivors, the heartbreak of swollen rivers
endlessly pouring over their banks and down the halls.
the moment is illuminating
radiating out, blazing on the laughter of family arriving,
friends come to share this sip of wine, this mouthful of food.
the moment is releasing
the hot tang of tears, joy trickling, mingling
with heady vows and midnight stars spilling forever across the universe.
the moment is stretching over a floating pond lily, a settling dragonfly
a forest floor of pine needles, droplets clinging to a spider's web,
and wending across silent snowy glades, waves lapping against the shore
a moose's echoing call.
the moment resides on this fleck of dust, this sigh of sand, this leftover breath, this infinite space.
the moment is always.
the moment is you.
Monday, September 26, 2011
i never before imagined that i would experience such a thing—eating with dinosaurs, or, to be more specific, under dinosaurs—the kind of thing that is a unique, interesting, once in a lifetime occurrence.
a few weeks ago in atlanta, georgia, at a fabulous wedding reception for our dear friends' son and his lovely bride (9.10.11 was a very popular date for weddings this year) at the impressive fernbank museum of natural history, i enjoyed dining with behemoths for the first, and most likely only, time. oh what a night.
the dancing never stopped because the music never stopped. three (!) great bands played during the evening and, except for a break to announce the entrance of the the bride and groom and their wedding attendants and immediate families, there was hardly a pause in the music. the bands took turns playing and the music flowed seamlessly until one in the morning. everyone, myself most certainly included, had such an impossibly fun time.
a theme at the reception seemed to be hats, with crazy hats in the photo booth prop box and an even crazier variety of hats—including huge sombreros—whipping wedding guests into a booze inspired frenzy while trying to snag a hat as they were distributed at intervals later in the evening. we danced so much that my muscles were a little more than a tad tired the next day, and my right foot with the surgical pins in it had mild tingles and aches, too, but, man-oh-man, it was worth it.
i sat down every now and again to rest my tootsies, and when i did i took a moment to look around and ponder—how i managed even a little pondering with all the excitement and loud, loud music i don't really know—but anyhow, that's me and ponder i did.
as i looked up at the tail end of the gigantic beast above our table, i wondered as i pondered and pondered as i wondered about the remnants of this leviathan. then it struck me—not the beast, a thought. i thought holy crap (that too) i'm glad these are just old, dead bones! there's no oozy blood, no pea-sized brain, no mass of thick hide, no powerful muscles, no smelly teeth, no sharp claws, no hot breath attached to this monster.
but my mind works in weird ways and, out of nowhere, in flits this: ok, think of it—she was once a mother, a real mutha, with many offspring, and like her mother and all the dinosaur mothers before that, she, the large, strong, buxom, muscular lady high over my head, once cared for and nurtured and hovered over her frisky, young dinosaur brood.
whoa. i suddenly felt the need to gulp down a few big mouthfuls of my g & t. then i got up and happily, happily, danced the night away.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
you slouch in train stations, nap on city benches, nod in doorways with your unlaced sneakers, your salvation army jacket, your frayed yankees hat pulled so low your eyes remain hidden. your life floats in a super size cup waiting for hand-outs and sinks in an almost empty plastic bottle of rotgut hidden in a bag.
the molecules in your brain are vibrating faster now, as unseen as memory, as elusive as starshine. tonight, when you lay curled up on the sidewalk under a piece of cardboard and when i lay in bed on the seventh floor under high thread count cotton and goose down, i will squeeze my eyes shut. i will pray for your safety. i wonder, would you do the same for me were i down there and you here?
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
"c'mon. you can do it. give it a whirl," he said and laughed his loud, contagious, big-hearted laugh.
she stared into the plate. he was pushy—he was pushing her now—and sometimes he drove her crazy, but she loved him so much she felt as if she could, and would, do almost anything for him.
life had always seemed easy for her brother. he loved life and life loved him. he quickly latched on to an almost magical ability to make things work the way he wanted them to work. as he traveled around the globe on business, her brother learned early in his career how to win over customers; he charmed people with his good looks, his fine mind, and his razor-sharp wit. he did what he had to do to make deals. he didn't squirm when he saw what was put in front of him; he tackled it head on.
she had been born in illinois like her brother, but unlike her brother she rarely left home. she could add up a grand total of four states she had visited in her life, about a week in each: missouri, iowa, indiana and ohio. she had never been on an airplane. she had never left the country. in fact, she hadn't been out of illinois in years.
in illinois there were places where the land stretched out for miles in monotonous, flat-as-a-pancake acreage filled with nothing but a blur of corn. she was a meat and potatoes and corn kind of gal, as boring and unchanging as the fields around her home. she didn't like to try the new foods her girlfriends were always giving her recipes for, like wood fire grilled salmon with mango and lime salsa, or kiwis, couscous, kalamata olives, or reductions of anything. she liked her food plain, plain and simple—simple food from her good land.
but her brother was daring, and he was daring her to just do it; he was not about to let her give up on challenging herself to overcome small obstacles thrown into her comfort zone. it was not in his nature to give up. after all, he hadn't made millions of dollars by giving up. he was adventurous and fearless and curious about the world.
when he made his way through faraway lands he was always a bold eater, plowing into edgy dishes involving such gastronomic delights as chapulines a la mexicana (grasshoppers), the larvae of tenebrio molitor (beetles), escargot, octopus, galleria mellonella (wax moth larvae), blow fish, roasted taratulas, and mexican caviar called escamoles (ant eggs).
one time after he returned from china he told his sister about an entree his host suggested he try called thrice screaming mice: the newborn mice scream the first time when they are picked up with chopsticks, the second time when they are dipped in sauce, and the third time when they are placed in the mouth.
she heaved a sigh. her hands shook a little as she firmly grasped the bright red monster ominously displaying its claws and antennae and beady black eyes for her. she thought if he can do it so can i, and proceeded to snap off the lobster's tail.
Monday, September 19, 2011
the atlanta, georgia brand of friendliness is politeness all sugary sweet southern style. am i hearing correctly? the beginning of every response to a question is a saccharine yes ma'am or no ma'am, yes sir or no sir. my northern ears equate these ultra polite words with sarcasm, mockery—is boston really that mean?—no, not at all. but southern hospitality does take some getting used to.
speaking of sweet, in atlanta food containing sugar is way more sugary and over-sweetened than at home—is it possible for sweet foods to be even sweeter? sweet tea is the norm (yuck—please find me a spot of good english english breakfast tea) and cookies, muffins and croissants are so over-loaded with sugar i feel my mouth and teeth and throat sticking with a slick film of sugar residue long after i swallow. (i become a bit obsessive and brush my teeth every time i get back to the hotel. i finally pop a toothbrush and toothpaste in my handbag just in case my teeth experience a sugar crisis while i'm out, but i never end up using them. i simply avoid foods which may contain overdoses of the sweet stuff.)
on the streets of atlanta i am at first unsettled by the smiling faces of humanity looking straight into my eyes and not turning away as i pass by on the sidewalk, strangers who then offer me greetings and salutations, unblinking and direct. i don't know what to say. i am dumbstruck. i shake myself out of my mini stupor and finally respond with a hi and a hello—short, simple, strange!—those friendly words of recognition.
i start to really get into this novel business of being nice, being pleasant, and i try to initiate the custom of greeting strangers first. it works. they greet me back.
i am satisfied; i am engaged. i am a real daughter of atlanta. the kind words, sugary sweet southern style, taste good coming out of my mouth.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
right smack in the middle of socializing at various barbecues, parties, and weddings there have been a few times recently where i have felt as if i want to close my eyes, slap my hands over my ears and press down really hard to block out the bla-bla-bla sound of what i'm hearing.
it's like i'm getting a migraine—i want to silence the world of obnoxious talk any way i can to help settle my head and to make the flow of annoying words stop.
but the strange thing is, i'm not getting a migraine; i'm not overwhelmed by headache pain. in fact i am remarkably headache free, although perhaps i feel a smidgen nauseous.
it's true that my ears seem to be ringing and my head feels full of something. i don't have a name for that something yet, but maybe by the time i get to the end of unburdening my soul (i.e. complaining, i.e. ranting), i will have come up with one.
i'm not by nature a complainer and i don't like to listen to complainers. but today i'm going against all that: i'm going to indulge in a little rant.
lately i seem to be having the misfortune of running into, and getting into "conversations" with—that is, if they can even be called conversations—a particular type of person. i don't mean to appear impatient, frazzled or peeved—yet, honestly, i'm all of those—but what i have been listening to makes me want to do more than block my ears. i want to do something out of character for someone as calm and peaceful and even-tempered as i am, like, maybe, s.c.r.e.a.m.
what i'm hearing that makes me want to act in a mildly disturbing manner is similar to what we all read in yearbooks and think nothing of, you know, superlatives—the best athlete, the most improved hockey player, the most likely to succeed, the funniest person, the person with the biggest smile, the most studious, the most musical, the most artistic. or conversational superlatives such as the best cook, the most beautiful baby, the greatest voice, the bluest eyes, the most talented son.....
"my grandson is the most well-behaved child i have ever met."
"that was the best book i have ever read."
"my daughter is the best mother, better than i ever was."
are some people just prone to speaking in annoying superlatives, and am i only now noticing this tendency, or is this a new phenomenon?
whatever the case may be, i have unfortunately bumped into these types of talkers recently; that is something else the superlative people have in common—they are the biggest talkers. not only are they big talkers, they also tend to talk exclusively about themselves and the people they know in addition to managing to heave a superlative into every other sentence. what's with that? braggers, the lot of them. why won't they just shut up already?
these are the most boring, most self-absorbed people in the world.
i am going mad with superlatives.
get me out of here fast.....
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
look at that—the tiniest lighthouse just ahead. pocahontas light is the smallest lighthouse registered with the u.s. coast guard. you can find it on echo point on the southeastern end of great diamond island.
but if you get to talking while you're out enjoying beautiful casco bay, watch out......
because the island romance is out there and she can sneak up on you real fast.....
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
i happened one night to think about when the world was newer,
the atmosphere not quite so tarnished, the evening sky
above olive groves like dark glass shining clear
with exquisitely wrought sequined light masterfully painted on air
offering a view of stars long gone or newly born—it was said
gods lived there like neighbors beyond the window—
i suppose someone, probably a black-haired man with skin toasted warm
brown by the aegean sun, stretched out on a hillside that fell steeply
to the sea, or sat on an outcropping of rocks, leftovers tossed into the waves
when the earth was dug out of the void and set to spinning round,
and looked up, mystified by how the gods continued tip-toeing
through so many hot sparks of light. he tried to count
each fleck—odd he didn't have anything better to do on a night like this—
an impossible task. instead he decided to trace pictures with his finger
envisioning star sculptures in heaven, after all he was greek and working
with forms was a thing his people were known for—that, and galaxies of
philosophers, poets, muses and myths. he saw the dog star up there—clever fellow—
sirius, the auspicious big dog, predictor of floods, and another one, procyon
rose before the dog—he was a man who loved dogs, my kind of guy—he asked
will i ever hear the music of the gods descending from these spheres?
envisioning lyres and double flutes and the graces. he knew nothing of a vast
black vacuum mutely churning and whirling around his blue home. later
men found a way to bring notes and rhythm through the window of infinity.
things change. procyon no longer rises before the dog—our world has a wobble—
like it did when my greek fellow longed for music. he, born too soon,
couldn't hear the gentle hum of radiation, the seismic thrums inside a star—
whistles, drumming, deep and slow—we couldn't hear them either
until astrophysicists tinkered with math, pumped up the numbers
translated the vibrating celestial pitch emanating from time's infancy
sounds from when the idea of man had not yet been conceived.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
perfect timing. on this gorgeous maine afternoon—all sun and warmth and light salty breezes—we planned to cruise out to an island in casco bay to celebrate my nephew's birthday with family and friends. i jumped aboard the amelia g. with denny and nathan and off we went.
as we motored past littlejohn, basket, and mackworth islands and up the presumpscot river, we encountered rafts of eiders, many cormorants and an osprey-in-her-nest.
the bay was filled with boats which were, like us, lazily enjoying some of the last beautiful summer days of the season. in fact, our blink-and-ya-miss-it summah is my biggest maine complaint (i only have a couple; the other one is maine winters might be just a tad too long—otherwise, to me, this is paradise) but i look forward to the crisp, color-filled days of fall.
on the way to diamond cove we decided to take a closer look at bangs island mussels.
denny pulled up next to the company's floats, located south of basket island, and we had a chat with the two people on board. their mussel business operates all year, with mature mussels harvested after growing for about 16-18 months until they are 6-8 cm long. we heard about bangs island mussels' continuing battle with thieving eiders, whose diet is mainly mussels—maybe denny can help do something about that starting in october?
later in the evening i ate bangs island mussels as an appetizer at dinner. talk about freshfreshfresh (they were harvested from those floats up there, practically just a spit away from my seat on the porch) and yummy.... love you maine.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
in every work of fiction there is a disclaimer which appears on the page with the copyright and the international standard book number:
this is a work of fiction. names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
these words, which go hand in hand with every story, got me thinking.
anyone who writes, about make-believe worlds or not, is ultimately captured and consumed, consciously or unconsciously, by the sights, sounds, tastes, feelings, textures, scents, and emotions which invade daily existence. writers do not create out of nothing. for example, seemingly unimportant gestures, mannerisms, facial expressions, a few words strung together in a certain way, a flicker of light bouncing off glass, the clink of coins falling on the floor, a sad or humorous story told by a friend, random events and circumstances, and the writer's own background and experiences are snippets which add up in the mind and find their expression through the flow of ink out of a pen, the tap-tap-tap on a keyboard. the pressure of all these pieces of life stuck in a writer's head reaches the point where it eventually needs to find satisfying release and be spewed out on a page.
inspiration emanates from these sources; stimuli is absorbed from reality and then is translated, transformed, transmuted, transmogrified into something new. what happens is the deck is shuffled to keep things interesting and unpredictable—to keep things honest.
who knows what trigger fires the imagination. something lodges in the brain and grabs hold and grows. perhaps inspiration is like an irritant. take the pearl. in nature, the creation of a pearl is caused by a living organism, often a parasite, which drills through a mollusk shell. the mollusk is disturbed by this invader and makes a pearl sac to cover and seal off the intrusive speck. but the tiny, irritating particle grows larger and larger as the mollusk continues to secrete nacre over it, and the sac expands right along with it. nothing can stop it. everyone knows the end of the story: eventually the irritant inside the sac presents itself in the form of a rather nice pearl.
something as inconsequential as a glance, a comment, a photograph, a rain shower, the scent of coffee, mist rising out of a pond, can set off the creative process. these little things won't be ignored for long. they combine to nag and gnaw inside the brain until they have to be taken care of and set straight. you never know where they'll take you.
when they enlarge, plump up, fill in they are finally ready.
ready for some fingertips to pound out a few of those pesky suckers.
Monday, September 5, 2011
east the summer
moon shows off a piece of
orange crescent increasing, glowing low
in the west—briefly sharing the sky with
mighty jupiter rising in the east—and
dropping fast in the dark above the
twinkling little city on the sea where the
atmosphere has scattered the blues left
the reds behind and your tangerine light
beams along dusty air eventually finding
us as we end our day bobbing
in ebony waves watching
your display and you
end your day
Sunday, September 4, 2011
the green doors tempt, tease my curiosity
to go ahead and just press, find out
what lies hidden—forbidden?—behind them.
there will always be that:
eve's problem. what i can't have
i want. is the grass always greener on the other side?
i stretch out my fingers, touch
the wood, push on resistant timber
and discover an inner courtyard
strewn with sunlight and cobbles
warm, compact, secure.
there is no one here but me
i hope, as my body is pulled
in by the lure of this secluded corner
where no eyes can see.
as i kneel on the ground
i feel a tenuous link, remembering
something nearly lost but not
forgotten—i see it low in the shadows.
i rest my palm on a stone, almost
convinced these old rocks keep secrets.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
shadow and light. long straight hallways. faces. doorways. empty streets. parking lots filled with cars. rooms connecting to rooms in maze-like clusters. this is what i see. these are on the ragged edges of my dreams.
one of my best friends in high school had a great dream memory. she could zero in on the details. some of her dreams were very short; others long. sometimes her dreams were funny, other times they were full of drama. many of her dreams involved the boys she was interested in. sounds stupid, the stuff silly teenage girls are made of, but the way she recalled her dreams made me feel like i was on some kind of wild roller coaster ride. who knows, maybe her dreams really weren't that interesting and i just thought they were all those years ago.
some people can do that, remember the vivid details of their dreams if they think about them right away when they wake up, and if they then make an effort to commit them to memory. other people, like my husband, rarely recall a dream. (but when he does remember one, it is often rather entertaining. he always insists he doesn't dream. pshaw! everybody dreams.)
i used to be able to latch on to my dream life and it would almost always stick with me, but lately it has been slipping away. i've been having more difficulty remembering my dreams; even when i first wake up, when i try to reel in that night's dreams they sometimes wriggle away from me and slink back into the dark depths of my mind.
but i know my nights are filled with many fragmented, disjointed visions, slices of people and scenes which swirl around in my dreamscape and madly tumble toward me in the darkness. sometimes i wake up sweaty and breathless, wondering where i've been. i keep a little notebook and pen on my bedside table and if i can remember my dream and if i feel like it at some crazy hour in the middle of the night, i will occasionally jot down a few notes. i looked over some of these shards of memory the other day and it's amazing how a few quick, messily written, words will jolt you—well, me anyway—into remembering how a dream looked.
the dream world is a weird place. you close your eyes and your brain blips with all kinds of bizarre and what seems like disorganized electrical activity, but oftentimes your dream sleep ends up becoming a kind of free therapy session, as if you have spent time talking to someone and working out issues. you wake up refreshed, your thoughts more organized, like a burden has been lifted. another night you might be fortunate enough to get a ticket to some nice exotic place where you can be anyone, have anything you want. oolala, what fun!
or dreams can be frustrating experiences; i oftentimes have difficulty finding what i am looking for. then i wake up more in a muddle than sorted out. or i have rapid-fire dreams, compilations of fragments—one unrelated, fast-paced vignette after another. then look out, there are the ones that creep in during the wee hours well past midnight and on toward morning when i arrive at the station and board a train bound for some hellish location populated by ghastly strangers or unidentifiable creatures that make me cry out in terror. where do those startling visions come from? right after a dream like that i feel like i could use some real therapy.
luckily, once you shrug off your sleep and get going in the morning it all fades away and you can't remember what all the fuss was about.
dreams are like skyscrapers pulsing with your brain's activity, bustling with the night-shift workers of your mind. while you sleep your soul is working overtime, diligently occupied in its cubicle, hunched over and busily chronicling the unnoticed mental scraps which were flying around in your head while you were awake.