Wednesday, July 31, 2013

pie

it was many years that i didn't bake
for fear of failing.
"how do you know?" i asked my mother.
"you go by touch."
that's what did it to me, her confidence.
how could she teach me the right touch?
there was no possibility.

all these years later,
failed marriages, bad pies,
diminished egotistical dreams
and breasts easing down into new folds,
i add a dusting of flour without thinking,
knowing in my hands
what i don't know i know. 

one day of blessed falling, july 28, 2013



i think of jack gilbert falling through the clutch of branches while trying to cut off the top of a gargantuan tree one Christmas morning for linda, falling 90 feet downward through the unmoving onslaught of forces projected outward in body and time, the real physical embodiment of journey, and i wonder, are we all always and only falling.

and if we are falling, where are we falling from and to?

and if we are trying to fasten ourselves to anything in our fall, what might that possibly be to?

i am falling.  not one earthly tether might slow my fall.

where might i derive any sweet transient value?  not in myself, but perhaps, if granted, through myself.

dear god or whatever fabric that mystery arises from or through, let me see your face as i fall.







Tuesday, July 30, 2013

returning from a day of simple grace, july 9, 2013, on highway 6

wedged out from between two programs, one on Thucydides, the first journalist (as CBC refers to him), but really an historian and philosopher who carefully examined human life, the complexity of the individual, the community, politics and the innate fire burning animal reflex in man which is the cocked desire to live, who wrote during the Peloponnesian war,  and an introduction by jian ghomeshi concerning the environment and the latest report from the WMO being ignored internationally, but especially nationally, and in light of recent meteorological oddities close to home but also exhibited all around the globe, we drive on, my head on my husband's shoulder. 

"it is happening much faster than we thought possible." 

"yes." 

"it will be much more dire than we can imagine." 

"yes." 

"it will happen in our lifetime." 

"yes."

thoughts and images of Cormac McCarthy's The Road crowd my head and heart.  i ache for our children, nearly blind for what i can not change.  Thucydides notes that when man is pushed against the wall "most men's tempers fall to the level of their circumstances and the dregs of human nature come to the floor." 

we are about to be pushed against a wall. 

we drive on, my head on my husband's shoulder. 

"what will we do?" i ask.  "will we kill ourselves before the whole of humanity is absolutely debased?"  (and when, i wonder, will we know we are at the penultimate time?  what will be so different then from now?  if the debasement lives inside all men, what do we live for now?) 

"yes," he says. 

we drive on, my head on my husband's shoulder.

_____

notes on Thucydides, an Athenian writing about the Peloponnesian war, as heard on Ideas on CBC radio:

He had a deep awareness of human suffering and a deep sympathy with the sufferer. he was a humane and compassionate figure but reached a place of resignation with man's suffering...such suffering always had been and always would be a part of human life.

"So savage was the progress of this revolution that it seemed all the more so because it was the first which had broken out. later, of course, practically the whole of the Hellenic world was convulsed with rival parties in every state. In the various cities these revolutions were the cause of many calamities as happens and always will happen while human nature is what it is; war is a stern teacher.

Revenge was more important than self preservation. love of power operating through greed and through personal ambition was the cause of all these evils."

"And it may will be that my history may seem less easy to read because of the absence of a romantic element. It will be enough for me, however, if these words of mine are judged useful by those who want to understand clearly the events in the past which, human nature being what it is, will at some time or other and in much the same ways, be repeated in the future. My work is not a piece of writing designed to meet the taste of an immediate public but was done to last forever."

"The culprit of evil is the weakness of human nature...most men's tempers fall to the level of their circumstances and the dregs of human nature come to the floor... the inability of human nature to withstand great stress."


_____

the WMO reports:

The decade (2001-2010) was the warmest for both hemispheres and for both land and ocean surface temperatures. The record warmth was accompanied by a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice, and accelerating loss of net mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and from the world’s glaciers. As a result of this widespread melting and the thermal expansion of sea water, global mean sea levels rose about 3 millimetres (mm) per year, about double the observed 20th century trend of 1.6 mm per year. Global sea level averaged over the decade was about 20 cm higher than that of 1880, according to the report.

and:

During the decade 2001-2010, more than 370,000 people died as a result of extreme weather and climate conditions, including heat waves, cold spells, drought, storms and floods, according to the data provided by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). This was 20% higher than 1991-2000.  This increase is due mainly to the 2003 heat wave in Europe and the 2010  in Russia which contributed to an increase of more than 2000% in the global death toll from heat waves (from less than 6000 in 1991-2000 to 136 000 in 2001-2010).

Saturday, July 27, 2013

i rise, i rise with the murmuration of starlings and leave my skin
for dashes and colons and traces of black stroked words
against the sky.
 
*be-lov:e\d, have you not noticed how your name
is comprised of bracken, of bugs, of consonants beak-wide collected?
my beloved, my murmur, we rise.

untitled

it is very difficult.

outside the rain comes down in a certain volume, a medium rainfall where it can fall straight downward in the perfect density, its drops hitting the pavement hard and bouncing upward once again.  i look out the window at the cool concrete and the rain beating both downward and upward, small black pools forming.  now i turn back to my coffee.  it is warm.  i hold it with two hands and breathe over it, my eyes closed, my hair long around my cup like curtains.  i want to tell you there is nothing else to want in this world.  and i want you to believe me.  this is the pinnacle.  this is the saddest interlude, the most perfect.  this is the arc of the story.  the music rises high pinching the small black organ in me.  there is singing.

how do i move forward?

Friday, July 26, 2013

loving through density, the brilliant dark of body

A Moment of Grace by Jack Gilbert

Mogins disliked everything about Anna's pregnancy.
Said it was organs and fluids and stuff no man wanted
to know about.  He was so disturbed by her milkiness
after the birth that he took his class to another part
of Denmark for the summer.  When we finally made love,
the baby began to cry, and I went to get him.  Anna held
the boy as we continued, until the strength went out
of her and I cradled his nakedness asleep against me
as we passed through the final stages.  In the happiness
afterward, both of us nursed at her, our heads
nudging each other blindly in the brilliant dark.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

on my daughter getting her period:

you have slid through the button hole.

in ways i never expected, suddenly we have grown closer together toward an external point in the universe, where, as women, we wear soft flesh, geometry's vulnerability, and strength in potential;

remarkably,
surprisingly,
we have become sisters.))))

(july 11th, upon waking at her father's at noon and staring into the toilet bowl she utters, with new knowledge, "Ohhhh.")

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

journal, density of body, july 22, 2013

i lift my breast and work the pus out of the swollen nodule.  it is, i think, an infected hair.  what now is my breast?  what is my nipple, first stretched out and then forced upon with fingernails, reddened skin broken?  i work it like a project in my lap, knitting, or something with scissors, papercutting.  i all but stick my tongue out in concentration.

on the inside of my thigh and along my ass, running dangerously close to my opening, is a swollen mass of blisters, poison ivy.  this is because i don't distance myself from nature.  i run my fingernails along them breaking them open and dab away the liquid, then apply gobs of baking soda paste which both soothes and burns.  what now is my cunt?  what now my sexual package?  what now my womanhood?  what now my human beauty? 

i am no more, no less cunt/ass/woman/beautiful.

these are very difficult statements to crawl inside of.  i don't say them proudly.  i say them with humility.  it's difficult to hold up the truth of these statements but logically they must be true.

on the radio today i heard about a woman who got nipped by one of her dogs.  her other dogs licked her wound and she had a rare reaction, getting septicemia and within weeks loosing (i think) 2 arms and 1 leg.

our value is only ever one thing.  it does not change with the quality or the sum of our parts.

there are raspberries today, ugly ones.  (i saw them earlier while i was running, up on the side of a hill barely clinging to their nubs.  today will be their last day before tumbling.)  i climb the nearly vertical rise beside the road through loose gravel to pick them.  if red bedded midnight...this is the colour that they are.  on top of their super-ripeness they are dirty from passing cars.  i pick them, an old woman's nipples, many of them breaking open and staining my fingers.  so many no trespassing signs posted on property - i think no one will yell at me for picking here, this part of the earthly world not easy to navigate, these berries not perfect.  who would claim them?

my body has always been difficult.  these latest plagues are only small happenings in a long line of being.  it never lets me forget it is temporary and is not the illusion of wholeness, a bargaining chip, that it sometimes pretends to be.  it causes me harried humility.

true, there are other small things that bother me today but whatever it is that bothers me stems from my incarnation, my being in this body, which in turn has pushed me inside this troublesome ego.

back in the car i read simone weil, not eating the raspberries but waiting.  i baked a white cake earlier in the day and already ate a piece with strawberries.  later i will eat some with raspberries with my husband, our bodies between/beneath us.  weil writes quite simply, "There is only one fault: incapacity to feed upon light..."

i feel the weight begin to lift from me.

song, praise

it has to do with ecstasy

not with god
nothing so small

but rather
the symphonic curve of his collarbone
the bass of his hips
how his name leaves me
with the taste of pure falsetto on my lips

Monday, July 22, 2013

notes from work, july 20, 2013, and thoughts about the on-going uncanny feeling that i am more than one story

staring into the crowd i can clearly see (with can opener eyes) that each body is an opening in the void, an articulated point of consumption and excretion, each body a genesis itself, a visualization or image of the spinning place.

___

i know (today), knowledge being convincing intuition, a seeming to be felt so strongly it is irrefutable, that i was a woman who lived in a lighthouse with her husband and tended the light for 30 years.  i know that i was also a farm woman or a farmer or both, at the same time or at differing times and i was also their children.  i know that i was a newspaper man and his lover, a poet and his wife, two housewives loving, the unrequited love between two near strangers with the glint of recognition between them, a trapper and a woman from walford.  i am every man and every woman who opens themself up wide enough to rage the risky battle of being while relinquishing ego (even if only for brief moments or in waves).  i am me and my ex-husband.  i am he and his ex-wife.  i am us and all of our lovers, both realized and otherwise.  i am no one, everyone, one in particular, the opening in space, the gap, an articulation, an opportunity for failure, and for love.

____

civility and the ordinary sense of being in an ordinary world are all a ruse.  the further i press away from the ordinary world, which exists because of distance and takes up such space, and press closer to the point where existence meets non-existence, otherwise known as the beginning or the point of origin (the spinning place), all semblance of control breaks down and i become a point of ecstasy, an incredibly difficult (and addictive) place to be as a human being, but perhaps i push toward being less than/other than this, human being, and instead become only a small point of energy threatening to eclipse into the infinite pool of energy.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

cpr

i wanted him to kiss it out of me.
 
does anyone know what's wrong with her?
 
there was nothing that was wrong with her. 
there was everything that was wrong with her.

Friday, July 19, 2013

swamptime reflections and shadows (a marriage)

i see us
or rather
i see you and feel me

me the cattail straining, straining
you the frog
sitting

___

some time later
in the swamp
busy busy busy me

you sitting
and sitting...

and then a fly

blueberries and stuff, july 17, 2013

from an email about climing the dry hill beside the river:

doesn't it feel sometimes like things are so obvious that someone must be instructing us?  it was such a moment for me is all, and i wanted you to know what it felt like.  the first time, and then again the second time, i mounted that simple hill, such a small distance, things changed dramatically inside the few steps and i experienced something that was like instruction.  i climbed the hill through the light and heat and thought as i mounted the hill, "this is what blueberries smell like, not the plants themselves and certainly not the berries, but the work in the body through the blaze of july over rock and thin soil, this is what blueberries smell like!  rather like god.  we never know the smell of god exactly, but rather the scourge of his burning, the work of our body to get there, his smell beside his smell at the top of the burnt hill known only through the culmination of our being, being not the entirety of our lives but being as our verb, our journey."  something like this, but i never developed it.  in fact forgot it until just now.  but it was surreal. evident.  we do not get to know the thing, but only the thing(s) beside the thing.

___

Poverty

when I was young, for need and for want, my grandmother made me pick blueberries for what felt like 12 long searing hours along a dirt road. she was a hard old woman who smiled through her hardness and tricked you (despite your wet back) into thinking it was pleasure, hers and yours.  afterwards I would have to wait another cruel time, nose to the counter, watching her role out the dough while the sweet blue gruel (bruel) bubbled on the stovetop.  and then 10 minutes 400 and 30 minutes 350.  and then the cooling time too.

now I eat blueberries by the bagful any damned time I please.

___

dear god:

why did you make blueberries so small?

why did you make deer flies so plentiful?

___

as I pick blueberries, not very well, I think about my older brother who is failed in so many ways in so many people's eyes.  (well, me too, for the record.)   no matter his failings he has the good long patience, well past economy and endurance, to pick blueberries like no other.  if god hands out tickets with jobs imprinted on them my brother's ticket reads, don't ask questions.  hire him.  helluva a good blueberry picker.

___

today I picked (only) 2 long hours and could not stand afterwards.  do you understand the gravity and grace of the blueberry?  the tiny fruit is strong enough to break a grown woman's back.

___

the story of a lost boy

on the radio yesterday I heard the story of a 10 year old girl who was lost while blueberry picking with her friend.  she spent the night in the forest lost and alone.  her parents spent the night somewhere lost and alone as well.  I wept the bitter apple listening to this story on the radio.   even though the girl was found, I wept.  I wept.

after picking blueberries this morning, despite my very sore back and despite the hellish heat (we are in a small heat wave), I decided to run through the forest.  in the forest, at a bend between the dangerous river and the also dangerous road, looking very frightened and alone I found a small boy.  his name was peter.  despite it already happening once, one event never outwitting the chance of another, another child had become lost while blueberry picking, except that this child, peter, was perhaps only three.

here, hold my hand peter.  and peter held my hand.

we went off in search of his parents.

it was so easy, so casual, so remarkable and yet unremarkable, as ordinary as putting on your shoes, that I found a child and that he was lost and that he took my hand.  

I called out, peter's mother!  peter's father!  adam, peter's brother!  in a sing-song voice, sure that I was only a fraction away from the terror of his family but I wanted to keep him calm.  I was absolutely fine with peter but so worried for his family imagining the white hot terror I might feel if my children were missing.  

I told peter a story.

whew, sure is hot today, peter.  isn't it?  I wiped my brow. peter's cheeks were flushed crimson.  it was very hot out today.  peter, guess what I saw the other night? I  saw a mama raccoon scurry down the main part of a tree and I saw a whole bunch of baby raccoons kind of falling topsy turvy out of the tree, dangling and scrambling.  

peter, while holding my hand,  let go of any fear and entered the story.  he laughed a second and said very wisely and with great recognition, ya, they'll do that. 

ya, they'll do that, peter.  babies will fall out of trees.

it was some time before I returned peter to his family, who, remarkably, hadn't even noticed peter missing.  this becomes an entirely different story now, how peter's parents didn't notice their three year old gone for perhaps 20 minutes beside the raging river, too consumed with the economy of blueberries. 

grace?  were they also concerned with the blueberry's grace?  please tell me so. 
 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

one black mark against an empty sky, musing more, longing more, wanting less

again and again the hammer lays itself down. 
what is important?  what is truth?
the black island afloat in sun bleached water
the cormorant on limestone jutting
the seagull's wings underlit against the coming night sky
which word, please tell me
which obelisk?  which erection?
tell me how to build the one true edifice of life.
________
the woman weeps in superabundance
the man rails against the storm of plenty
both starved mad for less

tell me what and i will say it
tell me how and i will think it
tell me the one word and i'll reflect it
tell me, please, so that i might live it

knowledge of the flesh

when i have you, when i know you a priori,
i wear a banner of carnations around my neck
and feel dull sweet pain.

when i do not have you but when i know you only a posteriori,
i wear a band of bracken
and feel pain
and then feel more pain.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

july 16, 2013, your impossibly sweet body


my children are away from me.  i speak with them on the telephone.  i ask them how they have changed.


i haven't, of course my daughter answers, unaware of her lie.


your impossibly sweet body
one bite of lemon pie
the space between the notes, Für Alina
tintinnabuli
every living dying day

one day - winter

breaching the distance, 14 Reinchaster Lane, Reisterdam, a play

it is impossible.  unimaginable.  and yet it is.

but first there is the long ride up the shore, the summer cottages boarded up and abandoned, along Wayside Ravine, the crows pulled up on fishing line and beyond the backdrop, blackened silhouettes fleeing from the skies, through Trafulger Forest, small blurred bodies lurking low and ready to cross between the left and right sides of the road, and then in through the empty tunnel alone, hurtled into the lights of the city, navigating other facelessly driven vehicles, all the way to 14 Reinchaster Lane.

when he arrives she is in the kitchen as she often is, her housedress tended and neat around her body relaying unspoken all the previous things like: she sewed this, she mended this, she washed this, she tended this, she wears this just so and is pretty and neat, especially when and if she tucks her hair in her absent minded chignon which suggests and speaks all those other unspoken things about her hair like: she smells like the stubble of lilac dragged against the dry palm, not as sweet as consumers might think about labels or names but almost vulgar and raw, a pinch of acridness tied intrinsically to the sweet, she washes her hair so, she brushes her hair so, she tends her hair so and is pretty and neat, clara.  except that down the side of her neat white housedress with the fine red piping is the vagary of splatter.  and a heft of a chunk of her skull is lying on the floor by her feet about to host flies dizzy in a sexually frenzied scurvy.

albert, with his hands open, entreating:  "wha- what- what have you done, clara?  what have you done?"

"i know.  i don't know.  i know," clara says, her eyes wide and ebbing outward into deepening pools of blackness.  a hammer is loose in her hand, seemingly illogically, out of context, her wrist torqued in a grimace, weak but for the one effective blow. 

clara, beholding what is in her hand:  "this is not the right tool, albert!  this is not the right tool."  and then a caught bird in her throat allowed to escape,  "but i had to let it out!"

albert, terrified, mortified, razed in a terrible state of ultra-reality which could not be real (could it?) for it lacks the crucial padding of all other things, "clara - ?"

"albert, i had to let it out. get it out. get through to it. but i lacked the right tool.  i was never able, albert, never made right," says clara, imploring - what? - too late.

clara raises the hammer again, the claw towards the density of her gaping skull, her own face terrified by what her hand is doing, by what her body imposes.  "i'm so disappointed," clara whispers.

(the scene stands still a great while while both clara and albert stand thinking/unthinking/thinking.)

"but clara," albert asks, "have you found some freedom?"

"no," clara answers, surprised by the easy truth of her response. "no, albert.  that's why i'm so disappointed."

and then the flies become vigorous in the spillage.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

lucky 13, july 13, 2013

the leaves on the poplar jangle in the wind, the rarest, most valuable coins.

my second run after an injury.  the first run my body runs above pain.

i sneak out of the house.  our neighbour's daughter, a long time friend of the family, is getting married today.  we were invited.  i never responded.  could not.  am not made like that.

instead i sneak out of the house and furtively slip in the opposite direction from her mother's to run the country roads.  i find myself much to my blundering amusement accidentally running by the community center where (i am guessing now from the sight of all the cars parked) the reception will be held, and out onto caddel road, away from town.

i run beneath the turning poplar leaves.

dear woman with the wild face in the white truck who speeds up toward me and then slams on her brakes, jumping her ample body out of her truck window, shouting, "A bear just ran across the road behind you!  just there!  just behind you right now!  i saw it and and...  right there!  there are so many bears out here, you know!"

"i know.  i know," i say, stammering, excited.  "i know."

"But,"  she starts and doesn't finish. 

"thank you," i say, but i mean for telling me what i almost missed, not for causing it to miss me.

i have seen this woman for years but never placed her until i see her so animated toward me.  she is the cousin of the woman getting married.  suddenly i see this and all the history of my being in this small town rewrites itself in order.  she is dressed prettily and is in her clean white truck going to the ceremony right now. 

will she out me?  will she reveal that she just saw me on the road, choosing the possible company of bears to the civilized company of men?

we are looking at one another.  her face is a question to the situation, me amongst the bears.  i have a long way to go yet until i'm back to town.  i give her an answer.

"this is so exciting, isn't it!"  and i raise my arms and can't help it.  i shout, "whoo-hoo" and run on laughing. 

for the rest of my run i look periodically behind me, not to miss the bears but to meet them.

back home now i drink water and i sit to write this.  during the first sentence of typing i hear the horns begin to honk.  they are married.  i wish them, sabrina and johnny, all the heartfelt best.

the leaves in the poplar continue to turn.

architectonics

it could have been otherwise.

neat.  orderly.  antiseptic.
casual.
something scheduled and arriving
by courier, by envelope.

anything at all, it could have been anything.
but it is not.

instead the sacs surrounding the empty place
where brain and spirit, being and desire meet,
swell
and bring you into me
like the good stiff shovel surged into the earth for planting.
horseblind and minddumb
to the dark deed that breaks through us,
through capillary and fissure of body,
inviting the spirit to step through us,
the wall become the threshold,
heralding us onward, ejected,
into an eruption of light.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mon Dieu, we are here! (fête de ma famille, summer 1983)

Ma tante Pierrette, elle est from la deepest red chested flag burning floor dancing bed shaking clutch of the Quebec Gatineaus.
She rushes the world like a rooster in a helmet with her 44D's squawking blanch in your face,
clucking, Ohhhhh, il est beau,  Ohhhhh, elle est belle,
nearly wiping her maternal drip de teat on every poor unsuspecting cheek.
Oh, but regarder, look look look!
and dramatically she is off pecking cousins and siblings alike in a gulletted gush,
assaulting all with her blistered blustering affections.

My Uncle Cy sits quietly by and,
well,
sighs.

I ask him, But why does she do this, mon oncle?  What does she mean?
He whispers toward me, She does this, Frederic, because she is dying.
I watch her again for a moment, a garish brandished flag (or sword?) before a war.
But how sit so quietly by, mon oncle?  Pourquoi vous ne dites rien?
To which he responds more quietly, Because, Frederic, je meurs aussi.

Monday, July 8, 2013

june 7th, 2013

voice:  if you want to get to the honey you have to go deeper.

me:  i want to get to the honey.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

no matter what - the self

after the latest tragedy,
the unavoidable butting of one blunt selfhood
against another blunt selfhood
in the most dumb of egotistical blunderings,
i climbed the hill toward the headstone-like rock.
it seemed apropos after all, if you can factor in choice at all.
but it wasn't choice.  it was more me being me. 
but at the top of the hill i surprised myself, forgoing the obvious stone
and instead throwing my body over a rounded boulder on its side.
i wrapped my arms around it, put my forehead to its middle,
became with it: an abutment,
and could do nothing, nothing but continue to be.
how it felt like the hips and the torso of my husband!
how i loved it!  how i leaned against it as it held me,
each of us unable to be different.
oh skies, i begged, oh earth, oh water, i beg you
and yet i can beg you for nothing!

on my way back i passed the headstone-like rock again,
so solid its presence, so impossible its absence,
always, always passing it.

prepoem

i'm not talking about when language hitched its hoary reigns to the horse head
plumes of breath snapped into existence in the crystalline morning air
i'm talking about you and i in bed the night before
pain, real pain in the muscles as we let ourselves down
(milk in the breasts is not all comfort, just ask the woman)
pain like ice breaking, hope fracturing
real bodies doing it, you know
pain
but doing it anyway
bearing it away into the heat of now

Monday, July 1, 2013

.

once you have danced
under the shawl of god,
how to sit in a chair
and employ a stapler?