something about Mary, part II

My favorite book by far of 2016 was Mary Oliver's collection of previously published essays, Upstream.  And within its pages, my delight circles back always to "Bird" ~ an essay I made my family sit and listen to as I read and wept (simultaneously) aloud on Christmas Day.  No, they didn't respond to bird's dilemma and sorrow as I did (still do.)  But I have found, once planted, that seeds of beauty have their own latency.  And I'm confident in time "Bird" will come to life for them when needed.  I say this because there was a time when Mary's words left me yawning - all that contemplation of solitude and forest floors ... And now - a feast for my hungry soul who craves space and fallen leaves ...! 

I wish I could post the essay in its entirety here, but it is too lengthy.  On a Christmas day Mary discovers an injured black headed gull during her morning beach walk.  Impulse sees her scooping Bird up and taking him home:  
"And this gull was close to that deep maw; it made no protest when I picked it up, the eyes were half-shut, the body so starved it seemed to hold nothing but air."
 Her writing is lyrical, spare, full of sentiment without lapsing into sentimentality (is that possible??)
"But no matter how hard I try to tell this story, it's not like it was.  He was a small life but elegant, courteous, patient, responsive, as well as very injured."
And this, my favorite passage from "Bird":
"But the rough-and-tumble work of dying was going on, even in the quiet body ... He was, of course, a piece of the sky.  His eyes said so.  This is not fact; this is the other part of knowing something, when there is no proof, but neither is there any way toward disbelief.  Imagine lifting the lid from a jar and finding it filled not with darkness but with light.  Bird was like that.  Startling, elegant, alive." 

And that's how I want to live life:  startling, elegant and alive.



tap tap tap ... does this thing work ?

Hello?  Hello?  Is anyone out there?  Can someone turn on the mike keyboard please?  oh, phew.  There it goes.  A bit rusty.  The letter mmmm is sticking a bit.  Might take a while to get things moving again.  Rusty.  Dusty.  Tinman and cans of oil come to mind.  

My apologies.  I was having a senior zen moment.  I'm actually enjoying this quiet space.  Empty.  Life has become so 'jangly' - is that a word??  Now it is ... yep, right there on page 450 in the RDG dictionary of useful words.  Where was I ... oh, yes, right here, soaking in the moment of a fresh page rolled into the trusty laptop, clean, clutter free and .. space.   Let me share some random fragments with you:   when the ecstasy of finally getting what you want wears off (come on guys, you know it does) what comes next (I promise I'm not going to list the banal detailia of ordinary married life) is a sweet spot of comfort and gratitude. Think 'cable knit blankies'  and 'therapy dogs' and mugs of hot tea sort of comfort.  Hygge is the word.   Question:  if you stop feeding your roots, will your words die?  or do they go dormant and wait for better times?   Images and random thoughts are burbling up, but I think, for this moment, I'm going to sit quiet - fingertips on keys - and




the wetness

The Wetness

I wanted to write a simple poem
about the wetness between a woman's legs

and what kind of holy moment it is
when the man's hand quietly moves south

over the smooth curve of the belly
into the shade of that other hemisphere

and his fingertips find hidden in dark fur
the seam already expectant in its moistness.

I wanted to write about that moment
as if it was full of incense,

and monks holding up their Latin like a torch
deep inside a cavern of Gregorian chant,

but if I write that, someone will inevitably say what
has that romantic foofaw got to do

with the beleaguered realtities of love
or with the biological exigencies of lubrication

or with the vast, retarded hierarchies of human suffering?

And someone else will add
that the man's hand
represents the historical hunter-gatherer tradition

invading the valley of the woman's body
with the obsolete presumptions of possession,

whereas the woman's body is known to be
the starting place of agriculture,

doing just fine, thank you, by itself,

until the man's hand barges into her Shangri-La,
and tramples her zucchinis and tomatoes.

But to the man, the wetness is a blessing
for which there is no history;

a coin that cannot be counterfeit,

and when the man's fingers reach it,
the wetness ripples upwards like a volt,
a cool wind, an annunciation

and he tastes it,
as if his hand was a tongue
he had sent ahead of him.

I wanted to write a poem about
the wetness
between a woman's legs,

but it got complicated in language.
It is a wetness the man would make for himself
if he could

- if he could only reach
that part of himself
which has been dry for years;

if he could only show
a part of what he feels
when he finds out

he is not a thousand miles from home.
Then he will not have to go

into the country of desire alone.

~Tony Hoagland. from Application for Release from the Dream

there is a story that goes with this, but it can wait for another time ... xxx


a thematic post

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat. 

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach. 

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

~ by  Li-Young Lee 



space, man ...

In Praise of Their Divorce

And when I heard about the divorce of my friends,
I couldn't help but be proud of them,

that man and that woman setting off in different directions,
like pilgrims in a proverb

-him to buy his very own toaster oven,
her seeking a prescription for sleeping pills.

Let us keep in mind the hidden forces 
which had struggled underground  for years

to push their way to the surface - and that finally did,
cracking the crust, moving the plates of earth apart,

releasing the pent-up energy required
for them to rent their own apartments,

for her to join the softball league for single mothers
for him to read George the Giraffe over his speakerphone

at bedtime to the six-year-old.

The bible says, Be fruitful and multiply

but is it not also fruitful to subtract and to divide?
Because if marriage is a kind of womb,

divorce is the being born again;
alimony is the placenta one them will eat;

loneliness is the name of the wet-nurse;
regret is the elementary school

endurance the graduation.
So do not say that they are splattered like dropped lasagna

or dead in the head-on collision of cliches
or nailed on the cross of their competing narratives.

What is taken apart is not utterly demolished.
It is like a great mysterious egg in Kansas

that has cracked and hatched two big bewildered birds.
It is two spaceships coming out of retirement,

flying away from their dead world,
the burning booster rocket of divorce falling off behind them,

the bystanders pointing at the sky and saying, Look.

~ from Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty by Tony Hoagland


how does my summer garden grow?



the cult of choosing

This is the sign I hang on my laptop cover when I'm slouched on the sofa, fluffy blanket pulled up to my chin because I like to keep the house 'meat locker cold' during these hot Houston summer nights, and I'm busy pinning on my Pinterest boards.  Oh, sorry, I meant CURATING my online AGGREGATION of tattooed men, drowning women and strange bunnies; Images that declare me INTERESTING, HIP, CREATIVE and WITH-IT ... (umm, maybe 'with-it' is a term past its prime?) 

Regardless of the WORDING, I claim my place in this brave new world of online curation.  I have evolved beyond blogging's infant days when my posts were rambling TL;DR (too long; didn't read) dissertations on my boring life and its mundane detailia (get it - detail +ia = hip new with-it word?) to become a DISCERNING COLLECTOR with an eye for what's TRENDING in the .... umm..... CURATING world. 

And I am FREED!  Freed from my abject self absorption. Liberated from digressions, rhetorical suppositions, LONG FORM writing and  poetry -- EEK, POEMS! -- to focus my CREATIVE endeavors on VISUAL POETRY.  Yes, my blogging friends, blogging as you once knew it, daresay still archaically practice in some instances, is DEAD. Dead, dead, dead. Thank you Tumblr. Thank you FB. Thank you Pinterest.  

Let me assure you my friends that CURATING is no easy feat, no slouch for the couch potato.  Oh NO.  CURATING is a SERIOUS business with TREACHERY, THIEVERY, and RULES of conduct that are more intricate than the geisha's tea ceremony.  Why I tell you, I have been LOCKED out of SEVERAL pinners' CURATORS' boards for my bold pilfering AGGREGATING of stolen  VISUALS. I've been accused of INFRINGING on their AESTHETIC without due CREDIT and respect for their CAREFULLY CURATED COLLECTIONS. I have been unfairly warned by the Pinterest Governing Body to PLAY NICE and STUDY (long arduous considering hours of itty bitty tiny text) the ETIQUETTE of pinning curating lest I be BANNED from the internet's new CUTTING EDGE. 

Friends, what I am doing is IMPORTANT.  Yes, IMPORTANT! I am curating a CAREFULLY CONSIDERED SOCIAL ARCHIVE of the 21st CENTURY.  Why, my COLLECTIONS are NO LESS IMPORTANT than STONEHENGE itself.  Future generations will CONSIDER the pathology symbology of my f**ed up mind CREATIVE VISION.  And wonder.  Yes, wonder.  And possibly weep at its banality beauty.  

Of course, I shall have to go now and pin curate this post ...