Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lenny Bruce Is Not Afraid

Don't think it didn't cross my mind that the bill may not ever come due as I tried to bury myself in consumerism to offset anxiety about the end of the world and not think about death. But it's kind of hard to rack up much of a bill when your shopping places are a yard sale and the closing 30 percent off Borders books. The vastly reduced discount haul:

--yoga mat for my daughter, turquoise with a planet inside a peace sign, her choice

--a plastic facsimile of a movie popcorn box for my daughter, her choice again, to keep important papers in, plus a koosh ball and a pair of dangly earrings that look like orbit patterns

--a travel book on Tennessee (hoping to do Memphis this summer, waiting til it gets real hot; won't take long)

--the Vision tarot deck

--an astrology book called "Cosmic Couplings: The Sextrology of Relationships," from which I learned that Virgo men stay hardest longest, Capricorn men have the biggest peens, Gemini women are "typically bootylicious" and Aquarians are most likely to be genderqueer. The relationships I've had that have mattered have all fallen into the Virgo, Capricorn, Gemini, and Aquarius decants, and I'm starting to think there might be something to this here star sign stuff after all. Oh, I forgot the Libra. He's still charming as hell. Hey there Tennessee!

--the Sonic Youth bio, "Goodbye to the 20th Century," which I'm looking forward to diving into sometime before 2012

--an Emily Dickinson collection

--the best of it: a stone chip impregnated with pyrite...a friend's mother was a spiritual practitioner, and after her death he invited others who shared similar practices to take a spiritually charged item from her things. I was moved to take the pyrite...fool's gold, the courage to be a fool. It is sitting near me with an orange candle burning right now.

Because it is foolish to write poetry as a nuclear reactor is melting down. Go Coyote Go!


Taking my last breath alone, I could survive
Knowing that's coming. It's having just one I love
And not the rest that would kill me, relative
And irrelevant as that would be at that point.
Hands on the wheel and 24-hour news on the radio,
I wonder if the flash will find me in the dentist's chair.
Will my face be broken out when the world ends?
It would be nice to be pretty on my last day
On earth, or at least attractively disheveled,
Like a heroine in a movie, inches away from
The crashed asteroid. Whew! That was close!
I idly assemble a cast for my Decameron--
A medieval frame, like that carved and gilded
Around a triptych on deadly sins, both boundary
And elevation for the realities enclosed within.
You need a little distance, like that. Because this,
This is Scheherazade flipped on her stomach,
This is telling stories not to live another night
But to distract from the night closing in.

[And furthermore!]

You might as well yell to the wind to slow
And stop nudging my car into the next lane
Of the elevated highway that affords a view
Of the Pentagon's rooftops, the top
Of the treeline, the hawk, the jet trails.
Engineering has put us all on the same level.
Tomorrow, we have contrived to gain more daylight.
You might as well tell the sea to stop
Rolling in, the rocks to stop rolling
Into the sea, the sea to stop knocking
Over the trees, the jet trails to stop
Flowing into the air, the hawk to drop.

Image: Pasolini cast himself as Giotto in Decameron.


Slothrop said...

Wow, Maria - I skipped straight to the poems, & was just thinking how much "Breath" reminded me of 1 of my favorite SY songs ("Pacific Coast Highway") when I read your SY reference. "Before the sun goes down...c'mon give me your love..c'mon baby, all you have!!" Spooky.

"Idly" is the perfect word, conveys the whole nacre assemblage of denial. Scheherazade, Prince Prospero...I believe u know each other. & the last line of "Windfall" rings thru me like mortar shells. On 9-11 I walked over the Key Bridge thru the Pentagon's smoke & this brings that feeling back.

To distract - am hoping the new SY bio is better than Alec Foege's, & have you been to Dickinson's house? Sounds crass I know but it really helped me connect w/ her. Afterwards I read her work w/ an eerie empathy. Read Adrienne Rich on this....

David said...

Ah, those distractions
From the night closing in
Little Gertrude the cat
In her 22nd year riding in
My lap to the vet.

I don't want the nice box
Just use this dark blue blanket
Her favorite, the color of night.

Maria Padhila said...

@slothrop--the book? i got to the point where lord, if i have to read about another label change or manager change...dull recount of event after event. what might be interesting is an anthology of kim gordon's writing? i would be into the dickinson house, i think. i haven't been to any writer's houses except in paris and key west. the hemingway house, i was mostly into the cats. i haven't even been to the poe house--have to fix that soon. worth it?

Maria Padhila said...

@david: i'm sorry about your girl.

Slothrop said...

Maria - I got a lot out of the Poe house, maybe b/c it was so narrow & cramped that it evoked any number of his stories. I remember that the visit made me read his work w/ new interest. It was in a rough neighborhood, maybe a little dangerous...1/4 mile from my house at that time, but I still went w/ a small group. Had to call ahead to make an appointment w/ the Poe inpersonator to let us in.

My 2nd favorite writer's house experience was Keats's apartment in Rome. Just as exotic as you'd imagine.