Sunday, December 26, 2010


Hoping a little I'd get snowed in so I could indulge my latest passion, a "translation" of some of the works of Maria Rubedo of Tarn, Mistress or Abbess of the Ladies of St. Sernin, a millenariast cult in the Midi-Pyrennes often seen as a repository for remnants of Mithraism. Her community was tolerated for its lip-service Catholicism and ability to create healing liquors, medical service to the rich (who were charged) and poor (for free), and its ability to send money when and where it counted to ensure its Sisters' peace and survival.

However, her extensive alchemical experimentations would have placed her beyond even the protection afforded by her ability to brew the 16th-century equivalents of Viagra and birth control pills. To avoid detection and subsequent immolation, she couched her researches in the writing of "holy verse" in Slavonic, a language approved by the Pope and which she purported to use in order to spread The Word to northern lands. These verses became "The Rubedium," a volume gifted to Sir Christopher of Morova, in the hope, as the inscription reads, that he "might fill others with the Spirit as he has filled me." In a world where Hildegard of Bingen lights up the boards on Amazon, it's hard to understand how The Rubedium remains ignored, but perhaps her chosen subject matter provides a clue.

The verses are loosely arranged around a depiction of the Season of Misrule, a winter festival with roots in the Saturnalia, where traditional roles were reversed, practical jokes abounded, and licentiousness reigned. She used the familiar formula of describing such behavior in great detail, followed by a quick tailspin spin of sudden enlightenment and reformation to the greater glory, etc. Odd bits of such festivals can be seen even today, in modern celebrations of the season. Teasing out her teachings on introvert alchemy and from among the longer passages of overwrought erotic and grotesque description and pious tracts is the interesting challenge in her work (as it may often be in The Work as well).

Two of Three
That my bliss should be divided thus,
And thus multiplied, may remain mystery.
Wood split flares bright, but such kindling
Is ash an hour of this season's long night.
But these logs appear to strengthen in our sleep
Nothing gray at morning but the light--indeed,
They have the power to warm me through the day.

So much could be divined at this year's center,
When in the name of our patron, we celebrate
A Saturnalia, where rules and roles. like night,
Turn on that point and tumble, end upended.
My maid is my mistress; the hands that dig
In cold earth now might root more dexterously
Among my silks; the groom suffered the right to ride.

And I presume an usurpation bold
That in other days may have me made
Myself fuel, kindling a mob's ire, rapt
To a stake like any other, hungry to know flesh.
But beg this season's privilege, blasphemy.
It is just this: My eternal desire
To act in imitation of the One
Brings me to to this unity with two,
For what was He, when once himself made Three,
But made greater in love, and more praiseworthy?
Let us follow this example, and be blessed
At least until the days the Light returns
And such freedom will be crowned, or snatched from us.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Careful What You Wish For

I asked Santa for "a shit-ton of money so I can stay home and write poetry," and he said: "Santa does not understand this 'shit-ton.' Santa does not get the concept."

So I explained that it means "a whole whole lot." Just a reminder that in all requests, whether they be of the universe or an individual, specificity is paramount.

Not writing, not running. The excuse for public consumption, and it's true, is the pay work problem. It is a vampire sucking me dry. It is condescending mansplaining tsking tut-tut-ing wretched day after stick a knife in me day. But there are other reasons, big big wild love dramas and more! Weird that it's not making me write more. My mind is not my own, it seems. It belongs to consultants and I must tear it loose somehow.

It being Mercury retrograde, I'll recycle. This was written on the beach on my birthday, while sitting between my Hot Friend E and her ex-husband.

Your Orders
Tell me. Give me
Directions. Sigh and say
You'll have to teach me. Make me
Banish my consciousness
Of every flaw, the flesh
Marked by seams, the scars.
Command all my awareness to fade.
Forbid guilt. Push me past shame.
Don't let me forgive myself too easily.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Six Percenter

Went on a charity run this morning (ostensibly a Thanksgiving run for a food bank, but it would really be charitable to describe it as a run on my part, as I sloshed and shuffled alongside 9yo DD for about an hour's worth of 5k) then heard Roseanne Cash on a radio interview on the way home, extending some advice a friend had given her: "Sing for the 6 percent who are poets. They will always hear you."

Well, this one among the 6 percent may not hear you, because her ears are fucked up from Meniere's, but I will ask what, what, what did you say over and over because I WANT to hear you.

I was up over and over all night with headache and anxiety. One of those 5 a.m. mindswirls was built around what you can and can't say to people, and how to handle these things with DD. She no longer believes in Santa Claus. But it's a good bet some of her friends do, and so how do you deal with that? It requires a certain amount of social finesse. To not be rude and mean, but to just be secure in one's own convictions, tolerate ambiguity, listen with an open mind, but never let those nutjobs gain an inch when it comes to policy.

It's like me trying to converse about (or to avoid conversing about) monogamy, or Creationism, or the impartiality of Fox News. At this season, with all the togetherness, these things just...come up.

I'm sorry, what was that you said about Don't Ask Don't Tell? My hearing is just terrible.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Maybe this should stay an unreleased track. Quickie inspired by hangover caused by glass and a half of that box wine that's been in the fridge for almost two months now. I tried to use more of it up in the chicken cordon bleu with mushroom gravy last night, but there's still another glass or two. Maybe I'll reduce it late late tonight, with some rosemary, caraway, and aztec dream herb, and make of it a brew that creates a glamour. Like in The Craft. You think everything tastes great, and maybe it really does, but in the morning you're ready to bang your head into the wall.

Or maybe that's just because I have to go to work. Not again! Why does this keep happening, every fucking day???


No, The River was the one that came when I was locked up.
Nothing but bones, with a terribly scratched surface.
They didn't have eBay back then, but I wouldn't have gone for much.
So they stuffed me with filler until I could fit in my Calvins again
And be declared ready for release.
Darkness was years and so many battles before that.
Darkness came the summer the boy wrote over and over
All the words to Candy's Room, and changed the name
To mine, before I went away.

Photo: Frank Stefanko outtake from the photo session--probably decided he looked too good and consequently "inauthentic." I would have chosen this one, which is yet another reason I admire photographers. I go for the easy pretty and the good ones go for the heart. I took it off a tumblr website? called Byronic, which has so many little buttons and fussy stuff on it and so few words I can't figure out how the hell to give anyone any credit or even do them the courtesy of letting them know I took it. Sometimes things just get a little too complicated, especially for someone whose bones hurt.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It Makes a Great Lei


I plan the night garden, down to the last detail
A distraction from a leg cramp, or
The med tech bending, sterile paper rustling,
Cold metal or needles against skin, or the
Techno beat bashing as you lie so still
In the long white tube. You'll get out of here,
You remind yourself. Laboring over the imaginary garden
Is a way to not be here, now. My fear: I know
We won't have time to make the garden; we will never
Be granted that stretch of space to grow
Omixochitl, whose night scent young women
Are advised not to breathe. No such cautions
For old ones. Our gardens are choked
With weeds and frost-struck stems.
The table is a cold slab. I take my mind back
To details. Tuberose is a perennial in this climate
And will take a year. The roots are rhizomes.
I wonder: Can the bay overwinter?
Where will I get the seeds for the black poppies?
You would know, you would know. I dream myself away
To the place where I touch the boneflower
Blooming flesh-pale against the darkness,
In a few hours, coming. This could be
The only night garden we will know.
Only as big as this bed, in this room,
On the night ahead of us. This must be enough.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's, It's, A Barroom Blitz

You go out as a devil, with a woman dressed as half-devil, half angel and a man dressed as a priest, and it's going to do something to you, metaphysically speaking, especially if you made the mistake of trying to poke through Graham Greene's The End of the Affair just before going down for your disco nap earlier that evening.

And then there was the tequila and the cafe libido.

Plus I'd been looking at a friend's copy of the lovely annotated T.S. Eliot The Waste Land with the facsimiles of Pound's comments? He (the friend,not Eliot or Pound) was all, see, I thought the person who thinks she shouldn't have to revise anything should see this. A glance revealed at least one piece of good advice--he'd circled a "may" before the "put a record on the gramaphone" part and written: "Make up your mind!" Even a crazy-ass fascist stopped clock is right twice a day. I was getting all up in that argue-with-the-Christian-god space. Good thing I didn't touch the Antonia White, or you'd be hearing from me in the convent round about now.

So yeah, the gods will speak to you, too; just ask. Always pissed me off how he had to kill her off.

The Beginning of the Affair

Yes, the gods want to watch you
Press your mouth against
The brutally scarred cheek of the young atheist,
And they want you to eat the onions with your steak.
They want you to write the letter,
And send the letter, and to take
Lovers, and to make that abandoned
Sound you make. They want romance, wine,
Inconvenient conceptions, missed connections
At the station; they want theater, they want wit,
Wit, they never get enough of that.
They want explosions, and they want you
To dig yourself out of the rubble
Without any help from them at all.
They want you to walk in the rain,

True, but they also want you to come
Out of the cold, and believe me,
Even if you don't believe in them, believe me,
You can get very hot in here, we are waiting,
We will help you do what the gods want.
Because the gods want you alive. The gods
Want you steaming. Even the Christian god,
He'll spit you out if you're not hot enough,

He said so himself. The gods do not want you
To end anything. You're the one who wants that.
The gods, they desire everything
You can do. They want
What you want. They want you
To reach out right now and grab it,
Like a baby trying to pick up the water in the bath.

Photo: Who doesn't like some Julianne Moore?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gift Economy

Back home, at the computer, searching images and writing poems and having a smoke. Comforts. Almost got sidetracked by the Vanity Fair with excerpts from Marilyn's diaries. I loved her poem about her then-husband Arthur Miller, watching him sleep and seeing his mouth return to the shape it must have had when he was a little boy.

Gotta admit, that's one nice mouth.

So here are a few poems from my special camping trip. I'll put some notes and backstory on my art project page when I get a chance.

The Goddess Pose
When you are the One
For so many
Your face becomes worn.

You can rely only on yourself
For light. You must illuminate yourself
Not only for yourself, but for others' sake.
You know these are the rules in this place.
Yet in the evening, the lamplighters come slowly
Down the road. They carry a gentle fire,
Its swing and crackle subdued in their stately pace.
Have patience, and they will make your way simpler.
At home, where light is at your fingertips
Flicking a switch, my daughter sings in the bath:
This little light of mine,
Let it shine, let it shine.

Three Necklaces

I. Ceramic Bead Fair Trade
Those bold round jawbreakers
Cascading down her neck
To a dollar-size disc
Enlivened with painted runes,
Glowing between buds,
Gold skin, no cleavage--
Why should such a big piece suit
So well the delicate frame
Of the little massage therapist?

II. Pearl
Well, there is some advantage to age,
To having had at least a few lovers
With a brain in their heads, readers--
What woman of my experience wouldn't know
The significance of "42"?
My prize for knowing the answer
Pulled from the salty neck
Of the young poet.

III. Sodalite
The smith in the desert
Hammered the silver into
A notched arrow and placed
The blue yoni-shape stone
Precisely in the center.
A gift, for now, for me alone.

Second Harvest
The second harvest comes at the end of this month.
The grass crackles under my feet. Grasshoppers,
Fat and heedless, spring up as I put down my book.
In every conversation, I seem to hear myself sigh:
"I don't know how I will get the time
To get everything done." Anything left in the field
After Samhain can be food only for spirits,
If you try to eat it, your mouth will close
Around ghosts' hands, harvesting.
I reach into the crate for an apple
And he stops my hand, puts into my palm
The last pear, saved aside for me.
Its skin astringent as persimmon,
Its flesh sweet, dripping juice.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Poodle Bites, The Poodle Chooses

Took a break from packing up the lingerie and printing out poetry to look in the mirror and feel like crap.

Well, like Courtney says, "I'm pretty on the inside!"

This one's been kicking around for days and finally got the last of it.

Bless my oppressors, for teaching me
To choose my words so carefully.
And coyote, vain, striving and scorned,
For his bad example, every bristle in his tail,
His doggie cock and tongue. Bless him,
Every him, every humiliating him
Who ever had his way, for illuminating my way.
Bless the bear, every beast, every back
Turned against the sun and moon and me.
Bless the plague, even the plague of boils
That leaves scar after scar,
That made us who we are. That gave us what we know.
Where was I when the world was made?
I was a woman in the marketplace,
Walking among the crates of apples, pears,
Pomegranates, looking, choosing,
Choosing you, choosing you, choosing
My troubles, my loves, my ancestors, my fate.
Everything spread before me and I chose you,
I choose you and you bless me.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Human Factor

I believe humans are causing climate change. In fact, I feel personally responsible for tipping the balance of the planet.

I stumbled into Spa World after three hours in traffic, using my Groupon before it expired. Scrubbed, rubbed, sluiced, pounded, jetted, steamed. Dozed. Surreal. Drove home at 1 a.m. in feet of rain sheeting and obscuring every line on the road on I-66.

Have a new computer. Catching up.

The last of my area family has moved to Maui. More than half of them are there now, including a cat and several dogs. I want to eat sushi and scrambled eggs in Paia.

While brushing teeth, before falling asleep, reading this. Had no idea so many giant freakin cargo ships simply vanish every year. I did know, however, that Laird Hamilton is a god among men.

My recurring nightmares are of waves eroding the beach where I'm trying to run.

Busy as fuck. Trying not to spill over.

Photo: Hot damn, on top of everything else, Susan Casey is gorgeous.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Witch, Please.

Here we've got a superpower Mabon moon and we're talking about this Christine O'Donnell trash? This pretty much says it all, but of course I've got a thing or two to add.

OK, dear, witches aren't Satanists, for the most part, and Satanists aren't nearly as common in real life as they are in right-wing delusions. They aren't trying to recruit you or get you to do anything on their altars, from have a picnic to give up your second--or is it third or fourth--virginity. As much as you might long and wish and desire it, no real witch is going to try to overcome your reason and send you into a swoon you can't resist until you are one of us, one of us, in some bizarrely half-assed sublimated fantasy. I'm not going to come twinkling through your window. I don't twinkle, don't give the hard sell, and barely even say hello to anyone without enthusiastic consent.

Real witches don't recruit, unlike those odd Gothy kids down the road by the meth trailer you probably "dabbled" with, if that's what the kids are calling it today. They aren't really witches. They're just disenfranchised alienated jobless people who, if you were a decent politician, you'd be trying to make a better world for. A real witch group is at least as hard to get into as it is to convert to Judaism or Catholicism. It takes some work.

Real witches can be kind of grumpy and solitary and enjoy their own company and a few friends. I know it's a little harsh, Christine, but we're just not that interested in you. Sorry.

We are interested in civil rights, however, so I guess that means we'll have to deal with your crap til someone gives you a Forever 21 gift card and you get distracted and lose interest in politics.

I was actually pissed that Bill Maher kept giving her airtime, but he's a sucker for attractive wackjobs, and I can't really blame him. It didn't surprise me that Sarah Palin got behind her, because she's such a spooky little narcissist that she'd have to fall in love with her clone. Cloned right down to spending the money misguided people donated to her campaign, trusting she'd use it to try to get things done that they wanted, on any shiny thing that she wants right now, right now, because she deserves it, gosh golly darnit!!!

Photo: Loved this, and Donovan, when I was little. Jimmy Page on Sunshine Superman guitar. Season of the Witch was closing credits on To Die For, about yet another evil pretty bubblehead.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"It Really Ties the Room Together."

I'm late to this, and really, haven't even had time to see the episode, but I read about it, if that counts.

13 Ways of Looking at Sasha Grey's Grooming

I. She says she chose her porn name after Picture of Dorian Gray. Any woman who loves Wilde can wear her hair any damn way she pleases.

II. Benjamin Franklin had wise words about loving older women, topped off with the statement "All cats are gray after dark."

III. In another life under another name in the '90s, someone like me might have spent an interview with filmmaker Vincent Gallo discussing "'70s bush" as well as his conceptual art project, leaving a plaster cast of his not inconsiderable penis in every state in our great nation. He was ahead of his time.

IV. The hair on my head went gray at around age 20, almost 29 years ago.

V. Those who object to utterly bare under the argument that it makes them feel like a they're with someone illegal don't really have much of an argument. I mean, they're welcome to their tastes, but isn't there any other way to gauge the maturity of the person you're close to? Conversation always works for me.

VI. Having said that, one of the funniest lines in The Sopranos was spoken by a guy released from prison, who grumbled that all the women now "look like Girl Scouts."

VII. Those who vehemently object to hair under the argument that it disgusts them aren't even worth writing about. Especially those who do it via Twitter. Good god.

VIII. A friend was over the other night after breaking up with someone. She found him entirely too judgmental and snobbish. (I agreed.) She said: "He's so ready to find fault with everyone else, but HE really needs to get his BACK WAXED!"

IX. I would never say that. I like hairy guys. Who are clean.

X. When it comes to women, I refer to the highly apocryphal parable of Lancelot.

XI. Oct. 16 is Oscar Wilde's birthday. I think he would have liked Sasha Grey.

XII. She sure is pretty.

XIII. Distance runners are well served by a landing strip.

Photo: Looks like Bacon! But it's NOT! The artist's name is Nick Harris.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shamanic Shambolic Shamwow (Plus Poetry Challenge!)

I've been attending a shamanic group that I'm enjoying a lot. I went in because I was interested in adding more of a healing dimension to the kitchen witchery (eclectic solitary urban pagan) stuff I do all the time. Side effect has been getting several poems out of the gatherings. (The guy who leads it does pretty amazing healing massage as his "real work"--if you're someone who knows me and you want contact info, ask me via email.)

One thing one's encouraged to do in the dream journeying is to ask for a gift, something I find very difficult to do. The dream journey on Friday, I ended up in a big old farmhouse kitchen and I got a gift without even asking, something very simple. I gave myself 10 minutes to write a pseudo metaphysical riddle poem about it. If you guess what it is, you could write a pseudo metaphysical riddle poem about what you'd like for a reward.


The root that reaches to Pluto's realm
Pulls in his riches, gold, copper, and bone,
And presses to share in the properties of stone.
Seeking its sweetness, my hand probes,
Pulls, encloses it in warmth, cleans
Until it softens, shrinks away.
I have work to finish. Now it
Bobs before my obdurate plodding as
My promised reward. Hold me to it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"Let's Go Someplace Darker."

X. The Wheel

This Must Be the Place

You were gifted with the vision
Of the clockwork, which,
Being a scientist, you saw as
Gears, but more than gears, a
Sprung spiral. Two ticks in an ascending
Key, and a dip. And another turn.
And remember, it never goes back.

I'll surrender you the sword
If you give me the Sphinx:
I can track the descendants
Down, unwind four seasons, then 16,
Then 32, turn the number inside out
And learn its secret thus. I see us

Kneeling on marble, stumbling on sawdust,
Padding over moss, swinging from gallows,
Dancing on grain, marching through sand,
Sleeping on leaves, sinking in mud.
Cathars, killed and ill-sorted,
Burned with our books;
My fingers, once fine, scrabbling in
The blighted vines;
The fine-featured carpenter who has outlived
And grieved for three wives, and still without a daughter;
Spies, yes--(as we investigate the impossible)
It is impossible that we
Were never spies, and thieves, those, too.

In all these ups and downs, well,
There's enough pleasure to make it worth the strain.
I remember times I was on my knees for you;
Even these, I would never deny or erase.
And then--here's another--you tracing
The shape of my eyes on a stone.
Another turn, another turn.

My daughter had a dream the other night in which, she said, she was a little curly-haired girl, and a nice police officer was showing her a view of the ocean, saying: That's Atlantis. I asked her if she saw Atlantis being covered by the water, and she said she hadn't been paying attention in the dream, so she only saw it afterward. We talked about reincarnation, and I told her that some people I know who believe in it say they remember their lives, but they all seem to want to be very fancy people, and that there had to be some ordinary people in our past to remember, shouldn't there be? She agreed.

I have a few I remember, but I'm also wide open to the thought that these may be archetypes useful for me creatively and psychologically. No matter what the truth is, that's how they get used, so there's not a lot of value to me in trying to determine the truth. As in most things, I'm primarily interested in how it plays.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Smile and Wave. It's What You're Paid For.

I get paid to write for these companies that are full of people so much smarter than me, so they must know. They all want web sites with pictures like this:

Even though we know the majority of those wearing headsets, forgive me, don't look like those three. And they all want me to say they "deliver value."

I was walking my daughter to school this morning, and I saw a cement mixer go down the avenue, and it was a nice, dirty, hard-working cement mixer, and big letters on the side of the mixer read: DELIVERING VALUE.

So I am a miserable woman for 3/5ths of my life, and a lot of people would like me to be a lot more miserable, and part of the misery is knowing that old lady writers like me are a dime a dozen in DC, and anyone else could take my job. Here's a taste.

Penis Dimension: New Metrics, New Marketplace Realities

In today's tight markets, yesterday's methods no longer apply. You demand solutions that fill critical gaps. Can your enterprise leaders manage the risks presented by finite resources?

The Big Picture: It's About Performance

Evaluate impact. Maximize operations. Locate opportunity. Optimize resources. Align with the mission. Strengthen responses. Assess efficiencies. Strategize stakeholders. Fitter. Happier. More productive.
****Click here to download our Penis Dimension: Partnering to Improve Performance Realities white paper. You're so smart we need to actually tell you to click on something or you won't get it. It's a value-add!****

Deep Insight from a Shared Knowledge Base

Yes, it is true.

We are dying and our planet is dying while we dick around with this. And we includes me. Why did we design things this way again?

And won't the spam roll in cause I said "penis." Because when it comes to maximizing efficiencies, the spammers got the big-city consultants beat all to hell.

Friday, August 27, 2010


A few weeks ago, I found the two of hearts by the Joan of Arc statue in Malcolm X Park, but I've already done that card. Later that day I found the seven of diamonds on the stairs of our apartment building, so that dictated this one being done.

Seven of Pentacles
First Harvest

I just let it happen--
Bindweed's grasp and white-fluted flower,
Joe-pye weed's flesh-purple plumes shivering
With bees, sticky milk of fig sap,
Tomato fruit skin fit to burst
Slippery seeds on the ground, fennel seed falling,
Nettle, thyme blossom froth, rosemary spikes,
All tangled, all climbing, all pressing,
All hiding damp depths careful fingers
Can find, there, in the shade, the root.
And in the center, a surprise--lunaria,
Stalks wire-thin and tough, each seed pod
A coin to be spent on the future.

Here at the midpoint, I learn to lean
And let go, to poise between
The first harvest and the second planting.

Another name for lunaria is honesty. It appears to need to be cultivated carefully.

I just got another citation from the community garden about my plot being too weedy. I just let two phone calls go to the answering machine to finish writing that. I could tear myself to pieces for falling behind in every way, or I could enjoy the weeds and crickets.

I have so many damned mosquito bites, and I'll need to be outside all day and evening tomorrow. I would like to cover myself with a net. No fear, someone will be along to do just that before long, I'm sure.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Agate and Datura

I'm late to this one, but I was on the Godchecker site, which I love and use for work (naming projects--I always slip a few pagan god options into the lists of names for IT companies and condo developments), and somehow got skipped to this story blaming Mars' lassitude on a plant product. I think it's more likely she wore him out.

But seriously, I have been thinking of Venus a lot lately. Today Mercury went retrograde, but I'm preoccupied with the Venus retrograde, in Scorpio, that starts Oct. 8. Lot of convergence there. The traditional view is that love, art and money will suck. Another view: You'll go deep. More so than you thought you could or wanted to. Here's one interpretation that compares it to the journey of Inanna; Isis and Osiris would work as well. Death and rebirth of love (and art). Takes a test, a journey to make it real, to make it live. (I know the link there is to the last retrograde; everything applies except for the parts about Venus in Aries. This time it's Scorpio. Death and rebirth.)

I'm starting late to work with the Venus/Aphrodite/Oshun archetypes. I suppose I should have been praying to her all along, as the goddess of love can control even other supernatural beings and is therefore the most powerful. But I was more interested in playing with Maui/Mercury/Exu and placating Saturn/Kronos. Now I have seen the light, and it's the color of honey.

Beaches mean used book stores, and there I found Erica Jong's Sappho's Leap, and skimmed through it for the poems. Yes, there is ambiguity in calling on Venus at near-50. Are you sure? Are you kidding? Don't you have other things to do? Isn't it unseemly? Lotta people give me a hard time for liking her, and I just say, baby, Rita Mae Brown. For getting this, and for getting Henry Miller, she must have her props. Here's a bit from one of the poems, Jong's original ones, not the Sappho translations.

But you--joker Aphrodite--
send me another man
to worry my pulse
& fill my eyes with mischief,
my skin with false dawn.
What is another man
but trouble?

...Take away this Phaon!
This agate-eyed aging Adonis
wooing me with words!

But even as I say this
your most secret eyes meet mine:
"Just one more tumble into ecstasy,"
you tease. "Who knows what hymns to my glory
you will write now,
at the peak of your powers?

What are the lives of poets
but offerings to the goddess they serve?
Do you think such worship is a choice?
Even immortals
Obey her capricious laws."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

All Request Radio Drama

We got some beautiful Saturday afternoon WPXN action driving from DC to NJ. It was about 4:20, and brother, could you tell from the requests coming into the all-request show. It made for compulsive listening and kept me wondering why I don't tune the computer to that station more often. My daughter, on the other hand, has become enamored of old-time radio shows and DH has downloaded a bunch onto the iPod, so that's why she keeps nagging about Dragnet. It's resulted in some interesting conversations about cars, the death penalty, and smoking cigarettes.

The story you are about to read is sort of true.

[Scene: Car, that stretch of Helaware that's all tolls.]
DH: Is this Country Joe and the Fish?
ME: (Thinks for a minute.) No, Allman Brothers. My sister used to play it all the time.
DD: (Sings along with guitar runs, trilling along in the booster seat.)
[Next song cued up.]
ME: This song sounds so familiar. It's something my brother or sisters listened to. It feels like around the same time as...I don't know, some kind of British progrock, same time as Tull, living in the past?
DD: This song is weird.
ME: Who the hell was this? (Sings along: "Just like your woman loves you...just like your woman loves you...") I know this song, I really do. How weird.
[It is Andy Pratt's Avenging Annie, a pleasant earworm, and it is weird. One of the instruments listed is "Cat." I'm not sure how I feel about that.]
DD: Can we listen to Dragnet now?
ME: Just a few minutes. I want to hear the end of this set.
[Long cymbal clash I can't even hear, but DH picks it up.]
DH: This is Mahavishnu. Birds of Fire.
ME: They haven't even started playing it yet. How did you know?
DH: I've played this one a lot.
ME: It sounds kind of like King Crimson. Are you sure it's not King Crimson?
DH: If I know it from one cymbal, how would I not be right?
DD: Has it been a minute yet?
ME: I really know this song too. Everything is sounding familiar in this weird time-bending way. Jesus, what is the deal with that guy? Why does he want to kill me? Oh my god, his license plate says "three times a lady." [3X A LDY]
DH: I've probably played it a lot. Since college.
ME: (Forgetting DD is in car) You probably played it for me when I was high and it freaked me out. Oops.
ME: (Sings along really loudly with There is a Light that Never Goes Out, probably traumatizing DD for life.)
[DJ cues Roxy Music Remake/Remodel]
DH: It's the all-Maria request hour.
ME: Yeah, it's like we're sending them secret signals.
DD: Can I listen to Dragnet? It's been WAY more than a minute.

Photo: If you can figure out the connection, I'll bring you back a zeppole.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"I Am Delirious Because I Am Dying So Fast"

I learned of the death of an acquaintance recently and I realized I still had a book she had lent me more than 20 years ago. Henry and June, the version of Nin's diary condensed with all the good parts. I have a lot of the long diaries, too, picked up in used bookstores over the years, where they always seem to be.

I have a lot of bad feeling about having this book--it's pretty evil to borrow a book for that long, and to not be able to do much about it now. I don't mind it when people even take my books, actually. I think they go where they need to. But most people don't feel this way, and I don't think they should just because I do, or that what is essentially my carelessness and diffidence is somehow more admirable because it's less possessive. Most people regard people who don't return books as the lowest of the low.

I'll need to make a donation to something she would have liked to try to restore the karma. The more courageous lesson I could learn is not to avoid getting in touch with someone, thinking, oh, they would just find it an annoyance to hear from me.

But it has gotten me dipping in and out of Nin and Miller again. Tonight I tried opening the book at random three times to see what we get. No one knows how much time they've got. That makes me want everything now. I know, it's a rationalization with all the grace and ingenuity of pleading a case of blue balls, but at least it's based in fact.

A summer evening. Henry and I are eating in a small restaurant wide open to the street. We are part of the street. The wine that runs down my throat runs down many other throats. The warmth of the day is like a man's hand on one's breast. It envelops both the street and the restaurant. The wine solders us all, Henry and me, the restaurant and the street and the world. Shouts and laughter from the students preparing for the Quatz Arts Ball. They are in barbaric costumes, red-skinned, feathered, overflowing from buses and carts. Henry is saying, "I want to do everything to you tonight. I want to lay you on this very table and fuck you before everybody. I'm nuts about you, Anais. I'm crazy about you. After dinner we're going to the Hotel Anjou. I'll teach you new things."

When I talk about her, Henry says, "What a lovely way you have of putting things."
"Perhaps it is an evasion of facts."
He says to me exactly what I wrote some time ago; I submit to life and then I find beautiful explanations for my act. I make the piece fit into the creative weaving.

The core of my being is touched by a body which overpowers mine, inundates mine, which twists its flamed tongue inside of me with such power. He cries, "Tell me, tell me what you feel." And I cannot. There is blood in my eyes, in my head. Words are drowned. I want to scream savagely, wordlessly--inarticulate cries, without sense, from the most primitive basis of my self, gushing from my womb like honey.

Damn books. She was only 58.

If I have a book of yours, please tell me.

Photo: Like Fred Ward. And Uma. And Uma's feet.

Headline: Miller wrote it. He lived a long time. He didn't even get started really until 40.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This Beast Is No Slouch

Here's another one I got from an attempt to work magic among the monuments.

The Jefferson Stone

One who knows but doesn't often say told me the story:
In their time a stone was laid to mark the line,
But in our time the line no longer lies there.

When it comes to when and how the stone was moved
Most are dumb and others play so, but it's a fact
That the stubby pointer of granite, placed to trip up
Night stumblers on the nation's lawn, has had its
Privileged distinction rudely chiseled from its face.

A decoy? A masked king? The work of our enemies
Or of our protectors? It's a politician's periodic game
To seek to shift boundaries, even to the way
We measure time. Change the calendars! comes the command
From men of reason whose grip on power starts to slip.
Or perhaps it was the stonecutters who constructed the canals of Mars,
Or a simple flock of sheep, nosing and shoving their fellows aside
For the sweetest grass, beside that swamp our fathers called the Tiber.
A meridian, after all, is only a convention, a relative
Construction; we are free to move the center where we may.

And before the question leaves me, he has the answer:
No, knowing all this doesn't make it any easier.

The error's magnitude shakes the poles; latitude
And longitude unmoored, the straight tracks cracked,
The cables that held the grid snap and coil like dreams of snakes,
The freestone obelisk thrusts through the asphalt,
The rings of the astrolabe clang to the concrete
And are carted off for scrap by looters.
Far off, on a vessel navigating the rising waters,
The boy, climbing the rigging, lifts the glass
And spies not a New World but an ancient one
Rising from the sea. The heart was not
Where you have been told the heart must be.

This is also kind of about WikiLeaks, which I was trying to explain to my daughter this morning. We had some deep discussions and questions about what you would do if you knew a secret that was hurting someone. When is it right to tell a secret? We worked some things out about going to a grownup (like me, she's still young enough for that).

But I'm still wondering about knowledge and what good it does. Will these leaks make any difference? Is it corrupted information to start with? What's the real motivation? We've been told for years now that information is the new currency, but it hasn't paid for my rent, grits or groceries yet. The CEO of Project Vigilant certainly seems to think it's worth something--I have to laugh that even McCarthyesque spying and snooping has been outsourced to a private corporation that is vigorously marketing itself by riding the headlines. Is my occasional sexting really worth something to somebody? Who? Why? And how much? Those are some journalist-type questions I kind of sort of remember from way back.

Photo: The Noyes armillary sphere, formerly residing in Meridian Hill Park. The photo's in public domain, so I don't know why it's got this guy's name all up in it, but his blog is a fascinating piece of work, so why not add a plug. I've got a note into the dude to find out what the deal is with using the photo.

UPDATE: It really is a great website; more sites about DC cartography, please! Anyway, he says he tags the photos that he hunts down and processes, which makes sense, and asked for a direct link the page that talks about the armillary sphere. Here we go, and thank you Mr. Schiller.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

What Would You Need to Make It Worth Being Alive?

I have been annoying the shit out of everyone with this question since reading this New Yorker article on hospice and heroic medicine. It includes a case study of a man whose daughter asked him the question as they were trying to decide on the value of undergoing a heroic procedure. He said as long as he could eat chocolate ice cream and watch football on TV, it would be worth being alive, so he underwent the procedure, which made him a quadriplegic, but gave him 10 years more during which he did those two things, plus writing some books. When he began to have difficulty swallowing and other problems, he decided to go the hospice route.

I enjoy talking to a relative who's a hospice/end of life nurse, very skilled and experienced. She has just about had it with the pain people are often put through to stay "alive." The major problem with people facing death is the dishonesty--or difficulty in admission--of doctors, who insist on trying everything, and the dishonesty of loved ones, who insist on trying everything, no matter how brutal.

The sense I have is that if hospice consists of having the best possible quality of life in each moment until death, then we are all in hospice anyhow, aren't we?

My dream is to have the will of the individual respected, as much as I might disagree with their will. Of course this issue got turned into a cynical political ploy by those who don't want to stop making money off people's desperation and those who fear death and can't admit it, and so oppose universal health care.

Here are my three things--and all must be met, or the deal is off, and it's morphine and weed for me until the end, if I'm lucky.

1. I need to be able to create and communicate using complex concepts, at the least in the level I now enjoy.
2. I need to be able to pray (meditate, ritual, intend) for others through interaction with nature, even if that simply means feeling sunlight through a window.
3. I don't want to be so appalling--appearance, raging, violent, smelly, cut into pieces--that no one but a strong-stomached medical pro can stand to be in the same room with me.

That's mine. Yours?

Photo: Robert Wyatt, who creates and communicates using complex concepts, more so than I do.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Pasta's on the boil; time for a poem. I got two last night/this morning, thanks to the full moon. There was some dispute over when the full moon happened this month; different people's calendars said different things, which does happen sometimes but seemed to happen more this month. One astrologer said this indicated that you needed to think about where you are and where you want to be and when you feel the moon is full. Relative.

Anyway, got two and one is structured and meaningful in a larger way, I hope, and the other is rambling and self-indulgent, so of course I'll share the latter.

"Aspiration and Literature"

The shaman shakes his rattle
At the base of the monolith,
Releasing the directions, and my own
Ritual begins. Each breath a struggle
To transform poison into magic. The lead
Filtered out of the water I sip
From a plastic cup. The stink
Of the river after a punishing rain.
The squish of the grainy mud, held in place
By invasive weeds on this patchy lawn
Beneath the sinking monuments. The snake
Crushed beneath the horse's hoof. The face
You say you see in the soot on the plinth.
The chemtrails lit orange in the sunset.
The homeless man walking out of the pit toilet
Under the bridge. The swarm of gnats
Over the pool, in the last gleaming. The radio keening
And thumping from the open car window, the car waiting,
Smoking. And when we're alone, I might just tip her.
She slides down the pole like a certified stripper.

My own keening. My own thumping. My own ecstasy. The night-approaching
Wind on your skin. The skin below your waistband.
My hands remembering the feel of your skin stretched
Over your hips. My own hair trapped in the hair
Of your chest. Every lie that has brought me here.
Every cruelty, every snap of rage, every loss,
Yours and mine and theirs and every death
We don't yet know. The god of art and games and song,
Bedecked with flowers, stone, still, at the center of it all.

Pasta is mush. Maybe I can still work with it. No wonder Plath was always in such a bad mood. She kept trying to cook and write at the same time.

Photo: "Aspiration and Literature" statue by Fraser, photo by M.V. Jantzen, Creative Commons.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I've Been Thinking Long and Hard About the Things You Said to Me

"To live outside the law, you must be honest." Well, OK, except that by a certain age, everyone including yourself is usually so heavily invested in your dishonesty, and those investments are so heavily leveraged. Nobody really intended it, it's just that getting to honesty is such an involved process that discovering it and then putting it into practice needs to be done in delicate increments to keep the whole thing from crumbling before you've got the new place built to move into. Too severe a change and the whole thing topples, much like the markets today.

Anyway, heard and felt a few honest things over the last week of travel. Country matters, mostly.

Pitchfork Ain't No Hoe
City of the Broad Shoulders for Pitchfork festival. I want to hate on hipsters, but damnit they ride bikes and care about music, so I'll forgive those too-tight pants and eccentric facial hair.

Pavement: If you get a chance to get a Virgin ticket, go for it for them; they're tight and kind judging from Chicago performance.
Major Lazer with Diplo and Switch: Chinese lion dancers, daggering from a ladder, beautiful dancers. Truly was a Band and Show. Even some hipsters got beyond doing their bend the knees a bit and head-bob dance.
St. Vincent: In love with the guy playing sax, flute, everything else.
Beach House: Took the heat off and that's OK.
Surfer Blood: If Brian Wilson really had been who he started out pretending to be. Plus, from West Palm Beach, got to love that.
Big Boi: Plays the hits, too much reliance on the big screens.

Behind the Music: Visited the 1913 Atwood Historic Planetarium, a big steel can with holes punched in it. You ride a platform with creaky wooden benches into it and it closes down over you and maybe three others, including a highly hilarious irreverent woman doing docent duty, and you see the night sky of Chicago 1913. Also, dinner at Publican, one of those trendy places where they use the whole animal and put you at communal tables, but corn/pistachio/peach salsa, OK? We ended up next to a Pitchfork writer and her paramour and they couldn't have been sweeter; were headed to the Surgical Museum the next day, which sounded interesting, but hell, when you're from DC and have Walter Reed AND the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, it's hard to get impressed. Then they left and on our other side we had a pair of insufferable foodie snobs who almost kept me from staying for the blueberry-lemon-lavender tart. I didn't eat any organ meats at the restaurant. And yes, I'm a medical-museum snob, so shoot me. (And I'll know how to extract the bullet, the old-fashioned way.) Oh, plus: Stayed in haunted hotel! Met three ghosts and took them to the Planetarium.

Life's a Garden, Dig It
No disrespect to Chicago, but loved, loved, loved Floydfest. Saw way, way, way too much to go into, but, in order of loveness:
Low Anthem: Acoustic set and on the big stage, ghostly songs and an eerie little antique organ.
Deer Tick: The big surprise, what rocking guys. First set sweltering and tight; second day drunk and attitudinal (but in a good way!) and reminding me of the 'Mats. Cover: Maybelline as it's meant to be.
Konono No. 1: 105 degrees and rising, danced my ass off. Could have been doing covers, how would I know.
American Aquarium: Just boys singing strong songs about heartbreak. Came back second day announcing to the crowd how they'd never camped before but they loved it and had done mushrooms the night before, although that was certainly dishonest because there was no such thing happening at that festival. Cover: Thunder Road, pretty dumbass sincere, except it was interesting to hear sax solo on pedal steel guitar.
Holy Ghost Tent Revival: So emotional! So horn-tastic! Was too busy dancing to hear if they did a cover.
Pimps of Joytime: Played a bedtime concert pretty much right outside my tent, while people danced and did hoop trapeze tricks on a giant fire-breathing metal dinosaur. Was too busy dancing to hear if they did a cover.
Big Daddy Love: Acoustic just standing around in the Garden section was the best; on the big stage later it got a little plain jam band.
Hackensaw Boys: Cover: Bluegrass jam on Another Brick in the Wall.
Behind the Music: Dance Afire did a real performance--not just the wow, how do they do that w/o setting themselves on fire wow look at that type fire dance and not that hokey Cirque stuff with a sort-of halfass newage storyline either. This was symbolic and unified and meaningful and the music and costumes--everything fit and worked for the place, and this is just seeing one 20-minute performance they did. It really opened my eyes.

But the very best things that happened were that two people said things that will give me sparks for some time. I was camped down by the late-night music, which also was where they had the agriculture booths, who were having some workshops and were also just up for talking and wandering. When I can sit and talk about dirt and nettles with a soft-spoken man, who then throws in the word "alchemical," well, that just about makes my weekend. Lots of talk about food, medicine and pleasure; my sense is that people have a hard time seeing food as medicine but no trouble seeing medicine as pleasure. I'm thinking making that into a functioning, flowing triangle, food-medicine-pleasure, might help a lot of people. Sorry about the non-exact quotes:

"Nothing can give you anything beyond what is put into it." That's from the biodynamic farming expert, talking about improving soil, but I'm going to make hay of it in some other ways. He also talked about feeling the travels and history of your food as you take it into yourself; feeling the needs and the wants of the earth in the air itself; and I'm feeling like, hey, maybe I'm not insane, and maybe I need to be reminded of that once in a while.

"I think Americans have these problems because we reject the bitter; we only want the sweet." That's from the guy with Backyard Revolution, a group that could use more support, I'm thinking. It was about greens, but again, I'll stretch it out like a single chicken into many meals to come. This is someone who found about 10 food and medicinal plants growing in the meadow border of the campsites alone; we didn't even have to get into the woods to find anything interesting. One more quote: "Take something wild into your body every day." That's worthy of needlepointing on a pillow, at least.

On the way home, stopped in Lexington in accordance with our policy not to eat in chain places off the highway but to actually go into the towns and see what's up; unfortunately a ghost hitched a ride and demanded that I play several Steely Dan songs before departing back south down I-81.

Photo: Mountain mint.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I've been thinking of changing the name on this blog, but I think I'll just keep it til the term evolves back into meaning simply the animal.

This bastard below's been driving me crazy all week, and I woke up at 5, with one of my sleeping daughter's languid, long, skinny arms flailing me in the face, feeling like I had it. (She's sleeping with me to soak up as much security as she can before she goes off to camp by herself.) I can only aspire to the brevity of the epigraph.

The River, from the Other Side

"I go to sleep on one shore,
wake up on another."

--Raymond Carver

I always suspected the side
Where I lived was the comfortable side.
Today I look on its green slopes,
But I'm not sure if I was right.
Peligroso, Peligroso,
There are signs on both sides,
Some rusting at the bottom of waterfalls.

I've watched people on the rocks
Of this side, from that side,
And wondered how they did it.
Here now, I see there are paths,
Some wide enough for two, passages
Between the points and slabs.
I rest my hands flat on the blazing rock
And read the hatches in the stone, in my skin.
What's crossed won't be uncrossed;
Not a step taken back.

The guide gave me the reasons
Women are better climbers:
Patience was the first. They scan,
Imagine alternative scenarios,
Then act. The second is the hips.
It's not in your arms, it's never
In your arms, he tells me.
He tells me: You can do this.
(Like they say to you in labor:
You can do this. But I couldn't
Let go, I couldn't clutch at
Those hands and pull.)

I think I believe I'm like
A drowning person: Don't
Touch me, I'll drag you down, too.
Throw a stick my way, let something
Come between us, save yourself, but
I would die before I took your hand.
A lifetime has tried to teach me
What I touch, I hurt.
I could believe this is true
Of the rocks and the river, even these.

He's on the rock above me,
Already carrying the lion's share,
Still reaching out his hand.

Photo: Seneca rocks, third-scariest thing I ever did.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Two Sides of the Coin of the Realm

This is the season for goldfinches in the mornings; they always travel in groups, often three. I would love a feather if it didn’t mean pain for the bird. I found a red feather just before beginning a trip recently. I’ll believe it was from a cardinal. I’m seeing a lot of them lately.

And close encounters with a few woodpeckers. Once, running, and I slowed a bit to watch one on a tree not two feet away, just at eye level, his head back and coolly determining where to nail. Each time I’ve seen them, I’m surprised at how big they are. I would call these sightings auspicious.

On that note, I’ve been feeling a lot of compassion for men lately, probably because of encountering quite a few of them, typically in their 40s, tearing themselves up about not being enough of this or having accomplished that. They are running themselves down for everything from not being astronauts to not having Situationist abs. Or, I guess, Situationesque would be a better word. In short, they’re talking like girls, and I don’t mean that in a mean-gym-coach way, but in a “damn, friend, how could you let Them bring you down like that” way.

And these are extraordinary men talking this talk. Great artists, great fathers, yes, great lovers, too, men who make you laugh, men with enough courage to actually show others something of their inner lives, men who can survive in the woods with a lighter and a piece of rope, men you could talk with all night. And there they are, letting themselves be declared worthless by Wall Street. I can only quote: “That place is dead anyhow.”

Despite being filled with compassion and delight, my brain and heart remain not the most pleasant places to be at all times. Witness what happened yesterday, as I was heading to the Westfield Shoppingtowne or whatever the fuck they’re calling it now, it used to be Wheaton Plaza, for a new pair of glasses, and there I was at the five-corner crossroads, a busy intersection far back into history even for animal migration, so it is alive with energy, most of it scary, today, and the radio was talking about BP, and I had a vision that made even me uncomfortable in its icy cruelty:

I see my huge hand as the hand of Eris, plucking fat white grubs from the office suites of Halliburton, of Blackwater, of Massey Energy, of BP and all the rest, harvesting them and shaking their slimy selves off my hands to fall on the decks of my boats in the Gulf. They will be my cleanup slaves. There they’ll sleep, when they seldom sleep, in the holds head to foot. They’ll drink the brown water that comes from taps in Appalachia, slurp quivering gobs of transfat and corn syrup from rusty ladles, when I let them feed. They will scrub and swab the seas themselves, and I will pay no mind when dizzy from thirst they fall face flat on the decks, when crazed with sun they leap into the Gulf and drown themselves; I won’t care what tumors grow in what soft places or how they hack and puke on the poison that sinks into their lungs and skin. They didn’t care when they did it to my mother. I am implacable as the sun. They opened this wound at their peril. For once, the cleanup won’t be done by the ones who need the money. It will be done by the ones who need killing.

And the ship….the black raider…disappears out to sea…

I know, it’s wrong, it’s scary, it accomplishes nothing, it only devalues me, myself, it’s unladylike, and it’s damned dangerous to evoke Eris. But once in a while I have to let that inner Johnny Cash fury out.

So I give myself an order to remember: they are someone’s child, they are someone’s lover, there is no end of blame, and you share the blame, rinse and repeat, as long as the water holds out.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gift Horse

So, solar eclipse, total, July 11, around 3:40 Eastern, 19 degrees Cancer. It operates like a super new moon. What are you going to start? What will you hit the reset button on? What will you begin to create? What gifts will you ask for?

People have to remember to craft their wishes carefully. The great writer and spiritual woman Luisah Teish addresses this in a funny way. One morning in her rituals she opened her arms and called out for Oshun to rain love and abundance down on her. She met a man she knew (and liked) while on the subway that morning; he was carrying a large burlap bag of black beans and as he reached out to her, the bag broke open and beans poured down on her.

They call it being a horse, when you're possessed by a spirit. I've never experienced possession; surrender and trust do not come easily to me. That's what this poem is about. The rune for gift is an X, two wills intersecting, leaning together.


The gift comes
Wrapped in so many layers
You begin to believe the
Giver is mocking you
As you get to the center you see
He did it
Because it is fragile

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bang a Gong

The Batman, a reliable source of bits like this, passes along the winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest, for the worst opening line of an imaginary fiction: For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity's affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss--a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity's mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world's thirstiest gerbil.

Someday I'll win this thing, but they keep getting better every year.

Condolences to The Batman for the recent loss of his cat. Big Guy was an extraordinary companion and will long be missed.

I spent the weekend camped near The Gamelatron, the World's First Fully Robotic Gamelan Orchestra, created by Zemi17 and the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots. It's kind of like what would happen if you mated a prayer wheel and something out a Quay Brothers movie. It clanged and clattered and gonged at all hours of the day and night, and I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute of it. It could turn a simple exchange, such as "Does your Swiss Army knife have a corkscrew on it I can borrow?" into a moment fraught with drama and import, if you happened to say it during a point when all the cymbals were going off at once. Plus, it was great to just go into its temple, lie down, and take in the sound.

Forgive the mixing of cultures here--my mythologies in poems come from a post-apocalyptic culture where spiritualities are under stumbling reconstruction and as likely to contain pop culture deities as ancient ones. A world much like...our own (doom dooooooommm!).


Some tones are intended to welcome spirits,
Others to banish them. And then
There are transgressive spirits, who, heedless,
Sweep in on a breeze to provoke
An errant chime to sound.

The singing bowls are forged and polished as instructed,
Their brass rings true. The snake-hiss and shiver
Of each slice of metal sounds in accord.
The tongues of candle flame, in correct number, aligned.
Gold cloth enrobes the temple; the gold cloth of the path
To the door is in place. How this path blazes
Beneath the seekers' feet! All this is fine talk,
And can be read in heavy books
Of alchemy, planets, philters, and sigils.

But my longing persists in this wondering:
Why, why, you can give me no reason
For the caution against filling the bowl with red flesh,
Transmuting myself into liquid and vapor,
That the dross might be siphoned
From the gold, as I myself resolve.

Image: Cats Cooling Off on a Boat, Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Holy Liberation, Batman

Knew this MF would show up eventually. Some equate it with Saturn. Bonds and boundaries can be helpful, until they're not. I hold with the interpretation of this card that points to the pain of projecting one's shadow onto someone else, blaming/seeing others' faults when you're really looking in the mirror. The one interpretation of this card I won't accept is that which counsels against enslavement by desire. Desire is a gift that leads to freedom. It's the refusal to own desire that makes self-enslavement. But like The Big Lebowski says, shuffling off in his bathrobe and huffing the nitrous out of the whipped cream cans in the dairy aisle under the 3 a.m. fluorescents, hey, man, that's just my opinion.

The Devil

Bring to Burn

Fear of the flip and the whip
And the pull of the chain, fear of change,
Fear of pain, fear of fulfilling the cycle
Of self-fulfilling, fear of another
Direction, fear of love and the lack of love--
The chain is engraved with not enough
She is not worthy, he finds fault
It is the same damned thing, it is
One damned thing after another,

Fear moves them to strain against the chain
A move in another direction would loosen,
Fear of losing the one damned thing
They know, have always known, that pulls them together,
Fear of losing the tug of the past,
Fear of breaking, fear of the links falling slack,
Fear of losing by stepping loose--
If by their own steps and not by the beast's
Direction they moved, one step, another
To another, the star above would flip
To shine like their skin, their eyes
Themselves for all to see--
If they would love,
What demon could hold them?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Domestic Arts

Who doesn't like some Tilda Swinton, for verily she is smokin', brilliant, and possessed of an enviable fashion sense and an arguably more enviable design for living. We may get a chance to see her new movie if the kids' camp shifts to another home this evening, and we indulge in the suburban institution of date night. My reward for sitting thru all the kiddie movies. I was worried it would be just flat-out Italian food porn, which seems to be the go-to meme for women with a case of the Bovaries nowadays, plus is in bad taste with the end of the world approaching, but this review makes it sound like more than that. It is not safe for day camp.

BUT click on that above link and do a search for the word "ticklish" and you will read one of the funniest sentences ever and spew coffee in a way that will make children laugh. DH has actually created a little song out of one of its memorable phrases.

The other night after we got them to bed, DH made us omelettes while I paged through the magazine, and this short piece on Christopher Hitchens also caught my eye. I've always had a thing for him, though I know it's so, so wrong. (Plus, he's waxed, and I prefer men au naturel.) (And you know what's funny, a friend had a facebook thread about sense memories during first kisses, and so many of us mentioned tobacco scent. Results could have been skewed by age (smoking was still OK in the 70s) and/or the high proportion of artists, of whom four out of five prefer bad boys.) Anyway, he has a dinner game where you substitute the word "dick" for "heart" in a title.

Me: Francis Ford Coppola's One from the Dick.
DH: Dick and Soul.
Me: Obscure Christian Slater movie Untamed Dick.
DH: Pure Dick.
Me: What the hell is that?
DH: It's a classic piece of sports writing. About Secretariat.
Me: That would make sense. Ashtray Dick.
DH: What's that?
Me: Song, by Captain Beefheart.
DH: Captain Beefdick.

The Winnah!!!

Behind me: Little Falls trail. Before me: Folklife festival with three or four children.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

And Beyond

Been seeing some kids' movies; Toy Story III last night. They're so meta that it's a little sad. Layers on layers and never the true, the blushful quest story or whatever. Simulcra babies in 3-D never getting near the source. (BTW never would have written something like this if it weren't for hearing/reading Rick's work.)

The Superhero's Love Interest

She's got a pretty good job,
And she's good at it, despite
The sexist boss and the corporate overlord.
Her lover packs some weight,
He's got some money and a sweet place,
High over the city, hell of a view, but she doesn't see it
When the camera catches him
Stiffing a waiter or shoving her cat.

She doesn't know about the superhero's secret,
But she doesn't laugh behind his back.
In the morning, in the elevator,
Sometimes they lock eyes,
And it's weird, but not in a bad way.
She never asks about the bruises.

That doesn't stop her girlfriend
From speculating about that skinny guy
Who's always getting into some kind of trouble.
The love interest shrugs. "Maybe he's in Fight Club,"
She says, licking some salt from the edge of her glass.
"Maybe he goes to a dominatrix," her girlfriend giggles.
The love interest gazes at the band, setting up, and murmurs:
"He doesn't have to. I could do that for him."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This Is the End, and, Nice Hair.

Bret Easton Ellis and mix tapes just go together like chocolate and peanut butter, or sunglasses and hangovers. Saw him read last night: funny, charming, thoughtful, generous. Didn’t disrespect any wimmen movie directors that I heard. Like the meta on the new book. Know what it’s like to not want to let go of characters; keep stabbing at that vein. One thing that struck my vein was him saying a trigger for American Psycho was his “disappointment with the world of adults.” That’s common to our generation, but now that I am fully adult, I’m simply disappointed with myself. Cut out the middleman, no pun intended.

Mix Tape #3

I’m going to save that song for the end—
You know, that sick swoop inside you
When the chemicals have all been pissed away
And you’re hollow again. A holy feeling,

That’s one of the funny things about hangovers,
That whiff of rebirth. Pain means you did it again,
You’re still alive. We’re set up to get off
On this cycle: Tension, explosion, end.

So you start the tape with taut beats
And flutters. Then move into noise.
I’m good at putting these together, good
At knowing how to end. You get tired

Of being good at knowing endings.
You’re not so much looking for a big surprise
As for that thump, barefoot, dancing
On the ground, and—-take a look around--

These are the ones left with you,
This is what you are hearing now,
This is the place you have ended up,
This is what you came here for.

Wanted to top this up with a stirring epigram and was looking for that Baudrillard canard about culture growing like hair and fingernails in the grave and found this memorable quote instead: “Baudrillard: Full of shit, but will get you laid.” Discuss for your next class. Sportswriters do indeed rock.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Running Over

No poems about cats, but this one came in while I was running this morning. Maybe it is about cats. I see one, anyway.

Two of Cups


Balance can consist
In one
Hand open,
The other's cup.

I don't know; too newage postery? But that's what you get some days. Also thinking about Rilke's two solitudes. The two cards in the tarot deck are always about balance, but this one is traditionally about love, which has always been for me more a ride than a balance. So it's a card that needs some internal reconciliation. Maybe some friend who gets science has an interesting idea or two about equilibrium and velocity and cool words like that. Feel free to enlighten me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


The guy one plot over in the garden said I can have all the thyme I want from hin. This is a dangerous offer, as I have never been able to grow the quantities of thyme I want, though I discovered a good-condition plant under a comfrey today.

I am a bad, bad community gardener. My plot is the ghetto, the trailer park, the wrong side of the tracks, what you will. Weeds and things gone to seed and real plants compete and climb over each other like some vision of lost souls in Hell painted on the wall of a Northern European cathedral. It's my bad luck that the head of the Rules Committee has the plot right next to me. She stands like the Wall between Pyramus and Thisbe, between me and the Source of Unlimited Thyme. She's got her eye on me.

I think writing poems about plants is subversive because it's what people fucking EXPECT old lady poets to do. This year the lovage and caraway went to seed, and BA sent me a recipe for aquavit.


It's the closest action
They have to manage an escape--
Send the thick shoot out
From the center, stalk
Charged with the mission--perpetuate.

Sudden, intense heat, or the
Conviction that heavens will open
If only they reach, starts them bolting.

The lettuce was first to go,
Its frills turned bitter,
Then caraway, coriander, dill.
Even the fennel, licorice-cool,
Bronze, imperious, shook its feathers
In anticipation of the end,
Raised a crown of golden pollen
That stained my face as I bent close
To taste it; soon solidified into seed.

"I have never seen so many plants
Bolt so soon," I remark to the woman
Working the plot next to me.
She hums assent, abstracted,
And scans the sky for planes.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


If I weren't on an oxytocin high (oh for heaven's sake, it's not that, it's just my love for humankind and puppetkind), I wouldn't consider it, but here I go, thinking it might be a good idea to submit some poems here and there. It leads me on a hunt through the year-old and older, and leads my husband to yell at me for not spending the time on doing novel revisions instead. I know, I ought to, but once in a while I need to feel like I have some skin in the game.

I doubt this one will find a home anywhere literary, but I have a feeling there may be someone out there who will like it. It's part of a series about Lilith.

IV. Desert Companions

“Dance with the pretty witch.”

Only one writer got it right: The man was made of earth
But I was made of fire. Under the blazing sun
I tend my lions, wreathing their necks with chains
Of flowers my touch alone can make bloom here.
They groan and purr under this soft restraint.

Ostriches speed by, their fancy feathers bouncing;
They need no adornment. Nor do I; wings and hair
Are enough to inspire a gaping glance if anyone came near.

I seek out a shady cleft of rock
When it’s time to nurse the serpents.

The circles around the eyes of the owls
Glow like stars above me in the night.
We screech to each other in delight.

Image: Oh roar a roar for ouroboros...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How's Your Albatross, Baby?

Unlike other times when I've had to learn the hard way how much I suck at something, when it came to photography, I had never had a doubt: Epic Suck. (Wasn't someone just talking about Monica Lewinky's birthday? Well.)

But when Favorite Cousin called, neither of us let that stand in our way. He writes about just about anything and everything for a Florida zine run by about the nicest guy you could want to know. FC was slated to write about the PIL show, and asked if I'd come along and take photos. Even on his worst day, FC is a better photographer than I am, but disability issues make taking photos at a show like that just about impossible. (Overall, it's pretty crappy trying to go to a club when you have mobility problems. It didn't seem as bad when we went to Drive-By Truckers together a while back, but this one was really damned uncomfortable.)

Uncomfortable for me, too. I'm writing something that has a photographer character, so I couldn't resist trying it, even though there might as well have been no film in the camera. I was up front there with the real photographers who were all doing those moves out of Blow-Up or something, with the big, big real lenses, and I'm like, fuck if I know how this thing works, what I'm seeing. I'm going to do something really stupid and Mr. Lydon won't realize I'm a nice half-Irish lady and will spit on me.

I tried, truly. But you can see for yourself.

I'm pretty good at embroidery.

I think it's fear of tech, at base. I grew up in a world of don't-touch-that-you'll-break-it when it came to anything that wasn't organic. Men were the only ones allowed to touch electronic equipment. I was unclean. Suppose I ought to shake that, though I don't know if there's time left. Plus, I'll still have the problem of not being able to separate my vision from what is there to see in reality. I am also invisible in photos for the most part. Part of that is people don't actively seek to take pictures of me, and I'm uncomfortable with it, but even the law of averages in some of the crowds I run with don't catch up with me. Invisible woman. Maybe I'm a vampire? And if I am, maybe I can make some money off it, cool.

It was a great show nonetheless, very shamanic; he reminded me of Patti Smith that way. He knew how to shape the energy, though few were riding his wave. It's a DC thing. We don't get swept up and under so easily.

I felt like I was beginning to get rid of the albatross. Several, some with whole names and personalities, and some just shadows.

Thank you, FC. But I must never, never touch a camera again.

To continue in the freeloader vein, DH brought home from work a review copy of Maggot by Paul Muldoon. Most of the poems are too hard for me, but there's a translation of Baudelaire's Albatross I like very much. It opens with a fragment of a BBC report of seabirds dying from eating plastic cigarette lighters, thinking they are squid. Gives a whole new meaning to "pour s'amuser." And it ends: "again and again he's dragged down by the weight of those wings."

Photo: Don't ask, don't tell.