Pink Abstract Guitar Background

Fuuuu-ck!  I have so many words and it’s getting so late and I’m tired of giving you half the right amount of attention, blog.  I am tired of being dismissive of your role in my life.  Of betraying you by writing elsewhere, of not bearing my soul into your passive, peaceful, restive arms.  I am here, my darling!

Watching the marvelous Focus Group by the marvelous Sara Benincasa for the second time which I backed and now has come magically to life.

The Focus Group (2016) from Sara Benincasa on Vimeo.

I don’t know what to say.  The things I talk about elsewhere I suppose I could talk about here.  I suppose I could talk, but it’s not like it’s something that I can explain without using language I don’t care to use.  Also, it’s not like it’s something that anyone needs to worry about, that alters anything, that need be noted anywhere.  So we will sink into frippery and vague claims.

I have certain places to put myself now that make me distracted and jolly.  You, sir, for whatsoever time remains us before we tire of one another, of the ruse, of the whole kit and its caboodle, are one such place.  A Mr. among Misters.  Chief in a few ways, mostly you’re just here and I am just here and that’s odd that there’s no there there.  It’s just a lot of here.  Too much here? It has not yet been determined.  It’s just wild, lacking even the fearful brand of symmetry.  It’s one of those situations that you think you understand while it’s happening, but can’t, can’t until you get far away and very still and very quiet and then you just laugh yourself awake.

I feel a charge of the ars poetica.  I feel like I climbed through a dark tunnel, and there’s a thousand more to go, but, here, in between, we’ve got open air and moonlight.  Both are dark, but one is free.

It’s this and it’s the filibuster and it’s the way I feel after reading the poem that everyone’s reading today and loving it in my own Good Bones, (thank you),  I remembered that I wrote poems.  I looked back and read a poem I wrote about how I wrote poetry.  I have a lot of poems about my love of poetry.  Poems that I believe no one has ever read.  They are not great poems, but they feel great because they are tied to memories of hope, quilted to other poems that meant other things.  I remember and it’s not a bittersweet remembrance because the desire has not diminished or been thwarted.   It just finds fresh fuel and burns all the brighter now that I’ve cast my attention on its eternal flame.

The muse does not give you up if you do not give her up.  She will chase you down alleys and dive off of parapets and clobber you if you smile twice.  If you tell her she’s pretty or she’s got a thrilling turn of phrase.

 

What Good Guys Dream: Day Two Hundred Two

28272_8577How funny…to log-on to tumblr and see a stranger blog a bit of a poem by Sarah Manguso which spurs a memory of that name in some poetry anthology I bought when I was being earnest about my writing, my own poetry, a familiarity and nostalgia walking in tandem towards me, skipping rather so I had to pay a sliver more attention.  So I google and wikipedia for all of two seconds and find a poem she’s written called What We Miss.  And it’s the poem I so needed to read tonight – the words compact, but the observation crystalline, piercing.

What We Miss
by Sarah Manguso

Who says it’s so easy to save a life? In the middle of an interview for
the job you might get you see the cat from the window of the seven-
teenth floor just as he’s crossing the street against traffic, just as
you’re answering a question about your worst character flaw and lying
that you are too careful. What if you keep seeing the cat at every
moment you are unable to save him? Failure is more like this than like
duels and marathons. Everything can be saved, and bad timing pre-
vents it. Every minute, you are answering the question and looking
out the window of the church to see your one great love blinded by
the glare, crossing the street, alone.

You’re choosing this.  I’m choosing to be here rather than there and sometimes the here is banal and embarrassing in the light of what the there is.  Satisfaction, possibility, growth, the right thing to do.  And instead, there’s the discomfort of accepting that you will remain right here, doing the thing you think you must – whether or not that’s true – contorting to make this seeming thing take shape and form.  An ill-shaped vessel you will hang on the mantle of your life that marks time.  You have to keep it because you did it and you must have meant something by it.  When the things that really do matter leave no mark, pass no time, they are present and ever and always.  A love.  A risk.  A cat who was shouted out of the road and back on the sidewalk.

I am thinking about this now.

There was a man this morning who came into the office to use the facilities.  He’s a local homeless man as far as I know.  He came around a few days ago in search of the socks he left on our back porch.  Today, he used the facilities for a more than half an hour while I worked alone cleaning up after a breakfast meeting.   The caterers brought and put on my desk trays of warm breakfast burritos, bottles of orange juice, a tray of pastries.  I grumbled to myself about the obscene and untoward things that could be happening in that bathroom, this rare opportunity for privacy he was taking such advantage of.  I did not think until just now, that he was probably washing those socks again.  When he emerged, he stood at the desk, quietly staring at what was fair to call a pyramid of breakfast burritos.  He did not ask for anything.

The person I used to be eight years ago would not have hesitated.  I stood back before pushing myself forward to greet him.  I said, then, thinking of vulnerability and stupidity, “Please sir, take a burrito.  You just feel free.”  I don’t know any more than the way he sort of softened and smiled as though I genuinely made something in his hard life easier.  He just thanked me and headed out the door.  It was a nice feeling, but really it was just a choice, a thing that could be done was done.

Tomorrow, more work, more play.

Lions and Lizards: Day Fifty

Day Fifty.  Shit.  Shiiiiiiiieeeeeet.

Today is a bit of a test of non-zeroing.  Because the day took over and I feel a bit like an abandoned husk, a dried leaf caught up in the wind and beginning to fray and fritter into dust as I go.  I look at my chart and the impulse to fill up all the blocks with task that better myself is still there, but I am tired.  I am really mentally drained.  I will find a way to do something more than nothing, though, which, I think is all that I am actually asking of myself.

I keep thinking there’s a way to do more or be better or faster somehow and handle everything that’s been thrown at me.  That old

The volunteer at work who edited and worked with some of the most remarkable poets before becoming our local librarian noted that poet Maxine Kumin died this month.  I hadn’t heard, but her name was one of that good canon of poets who had been handed down to me in tissue paper, to keep forever and always and on occasion, when asked and on occasion, for my own secret comfort, I will untie and unfold the soft and creaseless paper to find the surface of their work.  Say this is a place I have mapped and if we take off our shoes we can walk lightly on its edges until we’ll come around again.

While I won’t put this down on the white board as some attempt to work and exercise my brain, I read the New Yorker obituary about Maxine.  Read some of her poems and immediately wanted more.  Found, “In the Park,” which feels perfect apropos.  Melancholy, sharp and strong, like the tissue paper hid an awl.   From there, I see Anne Sexton’s face and think she looks like Elizabeth from Bioshock.  Think about what images play in the heads of poets raised on Left 4 Dead and Assassin’s Creed, same stories, but analogues, reflexes.  Constants and variables.

What I also think is that sometimes I put a writer’s name into google images and cringe a bit, hesitate a moment, in case they will have one of those frightful author’s pictures, black and white and staring back at you with that accusatory gaze into the middle distances.  The kind of look that snatches and clamors for your soul.  I don’t like to look at Emily Dickinson, though I can see her face sometimes even when I close my eyes, especially, then.  Walt Whitman, either, though I am nearly as dis-acquainted with his work as I am with Mrs. Kumin’s.    With google’s process of contextually pre-searching on your behalf, you can have all your poets lined up like some sort of murderer’s row.  If you didn’t know better you’d ask who are these people and what have they done?

W.S. Merwin, Galway Kinnell, Anne Sexton again.

Sometimes when I think what is missing in my life, I draw a blank.  When if I could get quiet, let down my hair,  sip some cold water, it would come back to me.  It would all come back in a petrifying, exultant rush.  Poetry, the noose that chokes, the rope that leads, the thread that binds all things.  If I gave myself a moment, a breath: I would remember, I would find it impossible to forget.

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Smultronstället

Here it stands. I had this vast quantity of inspiration for this post while at work and now I hesitate to think of any of it.

The problem and the solution are both mine to hold.

Still wearing my boots.  I did take them off when I went to bed last night.  But they’re back on again.  And I’ve gone to the effort of buying myself some clothing.  It’s been a while since I’ve bought any new clothes and I feel like that will help me be propelled in the morning into putting on some makeup and taking care of myself instead of blearily arriving with a pasty, wan, sunken eyes sort of face which does me no favors.

I was thinking this morning as I walked out the door with no makeup and no time or intention of putting any on that if my one true love walked in the door today and saw me such as I was, well, fuck him! What do I care if such is the razor thin edge on which love runs!  But it’s not really about that at all.  I feel so withdrawn, I feel so less able to attract, not that I ever think I’m remotely able to attact, just mitigate repulsion, but when I’m take a little bit of pride and energy and put it back in myself, I feel much more at peace with myself.

So I’ve done what I can to transmute the day’s precious leftover energy into something positive.  I’ve avoided Assassin’s Creed tonight because I know it’ll just suck me sore and suddenly, I won’t have any reason why I haven’t been able to accomplish anything save the fact that I’ve spent my entire evening running around in that world and ignoring my own.

I mean, really, if I spent even one minute of the time I spend actively not getting things accomplished even just trying to keep things up or throw things out or organize something, I’d be much further along and feel much better about my downtime.  So, we’ve turned off the television, I’ve pulled out the ukulele for a little haphazard strumming, I’ve got the computer here and we’re hacking at the day’s work.

So, I have a new outfit which includes tights.  And a plan for breakfast which includes Cheerios and an apple and a face in the morning which will include eyes and maybe some lips. We’ll have to see if I get there or not.  I will, though, since this is something I have a say in.

Ah, what else, my loves?  I also pulled out some poetry since I’ve been reading the two books I was given, to the degree that I sat in one of those chairs that no one uses at the grocery store and read some which was fascinating in contrast with the harried and various forms of pre-Thanksgiving shoppers clutching both their wallets and purses and the arm of one or two wayward children.  We’re all so grateful for the opportunity of this stress.

But really, that’s what it is.  That’s how it is.  We’re all so grateful for the stupid rituals that allow the stupid gears to grind to a stupid halt.  So grateful for that half-stupid half-second where we remember we’re human and the year is winding down.  And even if we have nothing, we get to hold it close.

The Girl Who Spit in the Sea

I don’t know why I fret over the permanency of language.  I shy away from writing down how I actually feel, using tangents to distract us both, instead of being clear about what it is that’s on my mind.  I think if you knew what was on my mind, you could categorize me and write me off.  I would so rather being Schrodinger’s Cat than Schrodinger’s awkward afternoon encounter with a less than average person.

But sometimes you fail and sometimes you suck.   And sometimes you spend all day thinking about how you fail and suck and try and avoid actual failure and sucking that you just procrastinate on failure and suckage and make things infinitely worse to continue the cycle all over again.

These are technical terms, but I am in a philosophic frame of mind so I hope you’ll allow me that bit of sealing wax.

My sister made me lunch today, despite how obnoxious I was yesterday, and I am considering, briefly, how nice that was of her and how beneficial, really.  How it could help me get on the right track.  It leads me to consider how much I want to get on the right track for myself.  How boring and staid and accepting of fact I am.

I see a picture of myself and that picture’s not right.

A lot of things aren’t right.   I’m not in the right job.  I’m absent someone who would gather me up in their arms in these instances of self-doubt.  I’m not free to drive where I want.  It snowed in the high-country today.    That feels rather unacceptable.   Askew.  But yet, entirely natural.  Prepared for, whether or not I myself am ready, the calendar has marked off the days.  And here we are.

I really hate this time of year.  I really hate the coming-to.  The sobering up.  I really hate that I am never the right thing for the right day.  I really hate that I can’t seem to knuckle down.    I have this sense of waiting for something to physically strike me that I can’t seem to calm down about.  I have this sense of being boiling angry below the surface.  I have this sense that I’m repeating myself.

So when I leave you, I’ll play the simple chord progression I know on the ukulele, I’ll do the bike, lay down on the floor and do ten situps, and then consider watching some more Doctor Who.

Saw a picture of myself today.  All of this is vanity.  It’s all it ever was, to be honest.

But take all of that with a grain of salt.  Because as miserable as I claim and as miserable as I am and ought to be, I have poetry.  And friends who write in limericks.  And I have Billy Collins.  And Galway Kinnell.  And Maya Angelou, and damnit, I have good ol’ Sylvia.  And a ukulele and dry socks.  And a Mumford record!

And as much as the sea will take me, I would still spit in the sea.

Like A Story You Want to Be True

All around me I see people becoming themselves.  They all appear to be slowly, over time, emerging from their adolescence or their perpetual confusion, their self-delusion, into who they really are.  And yet I feel like the same creature I ever was.  I feel like I am defective both in regards to this and in regards to how little I mind.  Tonight, this Friday, the calendar’s brief weekly orgasm, I don’t mind standing still.  I don’t mind stopping.  I don’t mind not being anything to anyone in anyway.

I’m not depressed.  In fact, I know this time for what it is.  I am a great knower of things lately.  I know this is the wave rolling back from the shore, pulling back to gain strength to punch forward and eat sand and claim continents.  This is the fallow season.  This is bullshit.  But this is tonight.  Tonight, we try and regather our elements.

Good things:

The budget continues.  I am definitely buying less since starting this.  Not because it isn’t fun in an anal-retentive sort of way to enter the transactions, but because I have a lot of things I’d like to buy in the near future and I have the money for them so long as I don’t run off and buy random useless things.  Much more aware of what is random and useless now.

Tomorrow I am getting my hair cut and colored and hair ripped out of my eyebrows.  This is much needed.  This is budgeted release.  I am pretty sure that I am going to go dark brown again.  I like doing that in the winter, for whatever reason.  Maybe this, too, is a rut but I was looking at pictures and I thought it was pretty.   That gut impulse feels like it deserves bearing out and even though I know it breaks my mother’s heart in what I hope its a facetious way, I am going to be a brunette at this time tomorrow.  Difference for the sake of difference, maybe.  Being pretty.  Acting pretty and not letting the rest of it matter.   That’s salving.  That’s the miracle that can buoy you in the absence of emotional sustenance or the presence of a grave, overwhelming fear of the future.

A Poem For Now
little green light flickers
hello
a friendly request
for swaddling
for coddling
for a touch, a swipe, a loving caress
downward into dissipation
entropy.

Free as  bird, but here, rooted to the light
to the good hope of the light that
someday I will be rid of it and
free to imagine a silence, a darkness,
a totality it cannot penetrate.

Outside they laugh,
a man’s voice
chasing, bird-like, a girl’s voice
into the car which starts and revs
and heads into a smaller world
but one growing ever outward
expanding like a virus, a mining town
where the leathered prospector
has axed into a magic vein and the
word spreads on the very air.

The thieves hear it from the crows
who can’t help singing over a man’s
best hope.

Everyone knows without ever speaking
a word.

That everything that ever was has changed.

The green light, ever promised, ever hoped for.
Blinks as if in sympathy, as if in galling spite.

Keep Your Secrets Secret

Oh, I just had the most wonderful dinner.  Dramatically, fantastically, tremendously wonderful.  What the doctor ordered.  I tried to draw my line at lunch with my frozen dinner.  But I’d barely eaten anything for breakfast and it just wasn’t enough to sustain me so I ended up having some of last night’s meeting’s leftover pizza.  Not a great plan, but I started throwing up the usual psychic smoke screen of thoughts about re-starting tonight/tomorrow/very soon and I can’t right now and one indulgence and needing to be cossetted in fat right now because of some serious work drama involving flouncing and stress rashes and Star Wars characters (oh, I so wish I could explain in a public forum, but I am not ready to even walk into the room where they keep Pandora’s Box of Office Gossip, much less pick the lock.)  It felt like a really good idea to accept the fact that terrible food was going to get me through this hysteria, just like always.  Like alcohol seems like a good friend who isn’t going to judge and is going  to talk over all noise, keeping you safe.

It’s hilarious, but mostly sad, the way you can do this a thousand times and see that, of course, food is not going to really shut off the screaming in your life and the emotional maelstroms you’re being keelhauled into, that it’s going to have its effect no matter what headspace you’re, but the next time, the lie presented feels so warm and comforting that you let yourself believe it despite knowing the truth.

You just want to think that instead of making yourself stronger by facing it, you can opt out of the fighting and Switzerland your calorie count.

No go, though.  So, once work was done, off I went to the grocery store to make sure that if I was going to eat, I had the option to eat right, even if I was going to be a 10-gallon jerk about it and still eat garbage.  And I thought about all my reasons to keep exercising and drinking water and trying to enhealthen myself, how making sure that blood will keep flowing to my head and toes should probably be a priority and how I didn’t want to give up the new figure and how I really didn’t have to just up and throw it all away and right now, I’m cobbling together all of that and I’m getting myself back on the road.

I got some chai which I’m looking forward to having with my sugar free pudding post-WiiFlail whilst I enjoy the calming interlude which is sure to be Downton Abbey.  I got some asparagus to steam for tomorrow with my dinner.  I got bubble bath.  Not to eat, obviously, but I can read another chapter of A Game of Thrones in the bath and let my brain percolate.

There’s sun coming for this weekend’s forecast.  I have an earnest flame, a true heart.

Oh, and the dream!  I dreamed of Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey, that she was my mother, and she sang/recited this marvelous poem that I so wish I could remember as we were wandering outside and observing these amazing, immense carvings.  The one I can think of was of a lodgepole pine minotaur.  I sighed, so happily in my dream, so earnestly, and said, aloud so indelibly that it burned into my waking mind: “Oh, how could the world survive without poetry?  Why would it even want to try?”