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.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Joanie on the Pony

Ace of Swords


We’ve all been burned, waking with the vision and the need to
Hunt the one who must hear, petition at the gate, battle
Inquisitors, don improper garments, shatter the strategy.
“Sire, this is your sign, take it.” And my hand closes on air.
Pulse race slowing, the sword’s weight palpable still on my palm.
Escape equates to heresy. With heralds and hoofbeats we
Rush into engagement, but the voices that guide us don’t shout.

The ones who hang out drumming and hooping on Sundays will get this one. I've always wanted to do something with some of her trial narratives, maybe sometime. A close initial reading might reveal an unexpected gift. After she jumped out of the tower that time, they told her another escape attempt would mean an automatic conviction of heresy. She replied that wanting to escape was perfectly reasonable.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Moon Co-Opted by Commodified Ersatz Supernatural Beings

New moon, bright sun, and I'm blue as hell.

My daughter broke down crying in the car the other evening when she heard on the radio news that the oil had reached Florida. I don't know what to tell her.

I'm infuriated when I hear people talk about the seafood or the tourist industries. Yes, but what's happening here is on such a larger level than that that it is inconceivable. Global emergency, worse than bombs, and we're all moving dream-slow, like we're wading through, um, oil. Our lives have changed forever, you know.

Writing is going nowhere and feels like it never will, just a colossal waste of time. But what else will I do with myself? I drew a card and waited for voices last night, but after 12 hours of writing for hire and being treated like the maid, there was nothing left.

I was talking to a woman I like yesterday evening and noticed for the first time the scars on her wrists. Of course I'm too polite to ask. But sad.

Tests said I'm still anemic, which means more and worse tests.

I will go pull weeds and stomp on ants now.

My friend is here for the weekend and my daughter is healthy.

Here's astrologer Jeff Jawer's bite-size bit:
The New Moon in Gemini sows seeds of ideas that can excite the intellect and spark a variety of connections and conversations. Mercury, Gemini's ruling planet, forms supportive sextiles to philosophical Jupiter and inventive Uranus, setting off brainstorms of innovation and originality. The Capricorn Full Moon Eclipse, though, insists that we come down from the clouds of possibility and commit to doing the hard work necessary to make real changes here on planet Earth.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Secret to Endurance Can Be Yours

How can you run for three hours without an iPod, is what people seem to want to know most. I did a trail half-marathon in a leisurely 3:22 yesterday, walking the last mile and a half because of knee pain (might be IT band again, might not; a few days will tell). I still want to attempt the 50k before I'm 50, which gives me a year and a half. (And at my pace, it might take a year and a half to run it.) But if the IT band is back, I might be stuck with 10-milers forever. There are worse things.

I also saw two copperheads.

So I run through pain sometimes, and there is a lot of pain, there's no getting around it. My great discovery arrived by accident, as they do. I found that through my alternating of three basic thought patterns is associated long, sometimes painful runs with pleasure, sometimes great pleasure. First there's the union with the earth and what it gives: In my polymorphous perversity simply putting my right hand down on one of the Grandfather rocks on Bear Island can make my head spin happily. Then there's the association with creative pleasure; writing poems and prose in my head when I run. The third secret--and there must always be three--was recalled to me recently by the wise counsel of a friend who recommended: "Next time you're standing around in line or traffic getting impatient and angry, think about the last orgasm you had."

TMI? Well excuse the fuck out of me. Did you happen to see the sign up top that says "blog"? TMI is intrinsic to the medium.

My ongoing games of "who would you do" on the trail keep me in the moment; when the moment becomes too painful, something similar to my friend's advice gets me out of the time and place that's troubling me. Of course, a man would be the source for that advice and arguably would find it most useful. It's a little more difficult for women. Oh, that's not what I meant. I mean women are more apt to ponder not only the event itself but those precipitating and succeeding it, i.e., "well, that was fun, but I'm still mad at him nonetheless," or, "will that be the last one ever?" or, "why couldn't it have been with this or that person, instead?" or, worst of all, my sisters, and you need to STOP this, "was I too fat/loud/silly/strange/etc." At that point, one needs to cycle back into living in the moment, and touch a rock or something.

Sometimes I also think about landscaping or health care policy.

But never baseball.

Photo: from the NPS website, Bear Island, where the rocks are like none other.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fan de Psyche

Nine of Pentacles

At the advent of the Third Emperor
My comfort was unmatched:
Even the screech of the pea fowl an
Unbridled proclamation of the security
Of my position. The Second Emperor,
A man of peace, extended
His policy to my person.
Sometimes I smell
The next city burning.

I walk the garden,
Jewel-green beetles hop and
Dragonflies hover beside me.
My path has become uneven, rocky,
Riddled by tiny holes I now understand
Are made by snakes.
The old palaces may burn, and my birds,
And even my books, but in this empire
I will not be very much alone.

I was looking for my Kenneth Rexroth 100 Poems from the Japanese for some kind of epigram to kick that one off with, but all I could find was 100 Poems from the Chinese. So I started casting around online, and still didn't find anything, but check out these poems that fell into my hands:

2 poems by Yosano Akiko (1879-1942):

Another look like his mixed me up again—
you really do play tricks on me,
don’t you, gods of love.

Yesterday felt like a thousand years ago,
at the same time
I feel your hands still on my shoulders.

Poem by Takai Kito (1741-89):

A tumble, fall, crash,
then silence—
cats in love

And a Rexroth translation of a Geisha song:

When it’s the man I love
he goes by and doesn’t come in
but men I hate —
a hundred times a day.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Carry Wood, Chop Water

Ace of Wands

The Rood and the Road

That thick club
You ease against the earth—
One touch of damp
And it comes alive!
The peasants gasp and scatter,
Spreading rumors of miracles.

And our eyes meet again,
Like every time, in every town
We’ve done this trick.
We work as one. We’re good,
Aren’t we? And then we run,
Fleeing the bishops and burghers.

Contrary to all caution,
The older, the easier.
Between bouts, I’ve wondered,
On long winter travels, why
We keep it up, keep going around,
Keep coming back. For us, now,
The miracle is not in the wood,
Nor in the sprout, and not
In the bread and coins tossed our way,
But in that look, just after,
The dizzying venture into the other’s eyes,
A world ever new.

AWwwwwww writin poetry at work, I'm tellin.