unless you love them. And then they can burn it down

Today was That Day.

The day the first two pairs of underwear that you pull on have been structurally compromised and need to be put out of their misery.

The day you nearly get crushed by a car driven someone who can't be convinced to stop (at a 4-way) for pedestrians.

The day you get to your desk and find a fine film of white powder has coated it, along with every other surface in the building. (It was created by the overnight replacement of some ceiling vents.) Waste the next hour cleaning desk, chair, plant....

The day you're working away at noon and suddenly, an entire herd of coworkers is outside your cube. "Aren't you coming?!"
"[local restaurant, within walking distance]"
"Um, no, thanks. I brought a lunch."
Because you didn't include me in your obvious plans to have lunch, Duh, until the last possible minute!

The day you realize that someone you considered a close friend has broken what was your last remaining connection without a word.

All in one day.

[the title quotation is by Michael Marshall Smith, from Only Forward, and reads in its entirety below]

You can send people letters, and show them photos, but they can never come to visit where you live.

Unless you love them. And then they can burn it down.

chasing word-mice Through cluttered cellars

Working all day to draw one tongue into another, chasing word-mice
Through cluttered cellars, I'm trying to hit a right note, bring over

What the man said to make one or other of his lovers shine
Like the necklace he saw splashing into a reed-pond--its gleam

Of beads at speed like the flare of a bird's fire-fangled dovetail
Taking off. Or it's the glint of insect on apple catching his eye

In a greenhouse steamy with the scent of sex and lemons, his blood
Beating its drum to kingdom come. So I keep at it--like a man

Entering an empty house, who tries to fill the place with her
Dusky smell, warm breath at his neck, her Where are the words?

[Eamon Grennan, from The Quick of It: Poems]


stupidity is one of the two things we see most clearly in retrospect. The other is missed chances

  • What's your favourite biscuit to dunk?
    I'm not much of a dunker, but crispy chocolate chip cookies are pretty good when they're not too dunk-soggy
  • Which would you rather have if you had to, a broken leg or a broken arm?
    arm. It would make me crazy to be truly immobile.
  • Do you read a daily newspaper?
    I glance at it more now than I have in years, just because of the house-hunting. My landlords take the local paper on Fridays through Sundays, and there's also a copy at work every day.
  • Do you watch the news on TV?
    just about daily. So weird. I'm looking forward to being done with that when I relocate again.
  • Have you ever had anything published?
    I have. If I told you what it was, you'd pass the F out.
  • Do you believe in love at first sight?
    sure. Why not? It's at least as plausible as finding a decent guy over time.
  • How many remote controls do you have in your house?
    I can see five from where I'm sitting. There are also a number of them packed in boxes in the basement, along with various individual ones for odd things like fans and speakers. It's a very techy household.
  • Have you ever been in a hot tub or sauna?
    um, yeah. There was a sauna at a health club of which I was a member, briefly. And the hot tub thing was big for a while in a life I used to lead, long ago and far away.
  • Have you ever had chicken pox?
    I did, the summer after kindergarten. I have a scar in my eyebrow but that's it (as far as I can tell).
  • Do you own a lava lamp?
    no, and I wish that I did! The one I had pooped out after many years of service. I want one for my rec room--when I get a rec room!
  • What is your one major weakness?
    certainty--I either have it in excess or I can't find it anywhere
  • What's been the best decision you've made in your life so far?
    ending my marriage. I know how that sounds, but the way that I mean it is this: we are both now living the lives that we were supposed to live, and they are not the same life. He's married with a kid and living in a major metropolitan area. I'm single, about to buy my first house on my own, working in a totally new field, and in the part of the world that I've always known was home. It was enormously difficult, but the best thing I could have done.
  • What's been the worst decision you've made in your life so far?
    every moment that I wasted trying to succeed at my last job, or (horrors!) to make my previous employer happy or satisfied. It was self-defeating and sucking the life out of me, every moment at a higher and higher cost. Finally realizing that I could leave, needed to, and would, were what saved me.
  • What words do you always struggle to spell correctly?
    "Amy", "history", and "factors"
  • On a scale of 1-10, how happy would you say you are?
    7 and rising
  • On a scale of 1-10, how smart would you say you are?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how funny would you say you are?
    either 2 or 8, depending on my audience and how it's rolling
  • On a scale of 1-10, how devious would you say you are?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how awesome would you say you are?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how devilish would you say you are?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how nice/caring would you say you are?
    5 (or 1 or 10, depending!)
  • On a scale of 1-10, how bitchy would you say you are?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how polite would you say you are?
    HA! 5. Or 1. or 10.
  • On a scale of 1-10, how attractive would you say you are?
  • If you could be any famous person who would you be and why?
    I have zero desire to be famous, but I'd love to inhabit Stephen King's brain for a while--and then be able to give it back. I think he's brilliant and terrifying, and that his books maybe don't scratch the surface of everything he's capable of thinking about.
  • What's your favourite animal beginning with the letter A?
  • What's your favourite item of clothing beginning with the letter B?
    Bermuda shorts

[grabbed from here and carved into pieces; the title quotation is by Stephen King, from 11/22/63]

new dreams every night

The second half of my life will be black
to the white rind of the old and fading moon.
The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.
I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are. I will dress for the
occasion, and my hair shall be
whatever color I please.
Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.

The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road.
The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers sifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.
There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.

The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river, rain
soaking the fields, a hand
held out, a fire,
and smoke going
upward, always up.

[Joyce Sutphen, 'Crossroads', from Straight Out of View]


under whatever sun is under

People in rooms drinking tea, drinking wine
in the same rooms and outdoors, taking trains
and driving and planting tomatoes
and harvesting tomatoes, kissing
or watching others kiss while wanting to be kissed,
a spider living by the stove
as tigers and grizzly bears roam Ohio
being killed after their owner
opened their cages and shot himself,
people talking about childhood
while holding babies, hands behind the heads
that can't support their own weight,
eating lunch and other meals at tables,
sitting at other tables smoking or wanting to smoke,
having a beer in a room before a funeral
and a beer in the same room after the funeral,
a spider living in the window as a woman
cuts all her hair off in Nome and mails it
to her mother's chemoed head in Memphis,
people going on too long and people
letting people go on too long,
standing in a doorway meeting the lover
of their son, taking her coat, her scarf, offering tea,
liking her smile, people drinking too much
and people letting people drink too much,
making beds for them, helping them in,
people sitting beside people under trees,
trees under clouds, clouds under sun, sun under
whatever sun is under and beyond reproach.

[Bob Hicok, 'Life', from Elegy Owed]


things happened

One evening
I met the mango.
At first there were four or five of them
in a bowl.
They looked like stones you find
in the rivers of Pennsylvania
when the waters are low.
That size, and almost round.
Mossy green.
But this was a rich house, and clever too.
After salmon and salads,
mangoes for everyone appeared on blue plates,
each one cut in half and scored
and shoved forward from its rind, like an orange flower,
cubist and juicy.
When I began to eat
things happened.
All through the sweetness I heard voices,
men and women talking about something--
another country, and trouble.
It wasn’t my language, but I understood enough.
Jungles, and death. The ships
leaving the harbors, their holds
filled with mangoes.
Children, brushing the flies away
from their hot faces
as they worked in the fields.
Men, and guns.
The voices all ran together
so that I tasted them in the taste of the mango,
a sharp gravel in the flesh.
Later, in the kitchen, I saw the stones
like torn-out tongues
embedded in the honeyed centers.
They were talking among themselves--
family news,
a few lines of a song

[Mary Oliver, 'The Mango', from Poetry Magazine {March 1986}]


The stubble! That bisexual grin!

Your father is so hot. I'm serious.

The highly publicized photo of him
Wearing a Red Sox ball cap--wow.
The stubble! That bisexual grin!

He's been with Gwyneth.
Then came "Bennifer"
With a pink rock
The size of Plymouth.
Now a different Jennifer,
And you, little Violet,
Cursed forever to explain
Who your famous daddy is,
What it's been like
Growing up this way,
But hey:

I would like Ben Affleck to read me bedtime stories.
I hope he takes time to read you bedtime stories.

[Aaron Belz, 'For Ben Affleck's Daughter', from The Bird Hoverer]


a little deeper but sadder

I had forgotten what it was like to exist
this way. I am a different person in Chicago,
a little deeper but sadder, melancholic,
less supple within my own skin.
Strange sense of slippage, returning here,
revisiting former lives and past estates,
as if the film had jumped its sprockets and the gears
of the clattering projector spun to no effect.
Exist in the moment, yes, but the past is inescapable,
the past is oxygen to the blast furnace of being,
uranium to the reactor of consciousness.
Should I say human consciousness?
Is it so different for bees, lemurs, longhorn sheep?
Are consciousness and self precise synonyms?
Can we imagine one without the other?
Can we conceive of consciousness outside of time
or is it a projection of time within us,
consciousness my temporal expression as my body
is my expression in three-dimensional space?

[Campbell McGrath, from 'Existence' in Seven Notebooks]


Her hands speak language he has no trouble with

Habit makes him put     music on
she can't hear,      although she lays
her hands upon a     speaker to feel
the first thrust     of Mozart's 29th
vibrate like her     satisfied cat.
That morning     they'd walked among
the lilies in     late bloom, gold cups
raised above     October's astonished dross,
the scene     so clustered with
surprise     she'd bent each word around
her tongue     and he'd only frowned,
covered her     lips with his, embarrassed
for her, though     she wasn't. It's after lunch
so he pours Dewar's     that goes untouched,
glass beading sweat     as they make love,
sweating, on the black     leather couch,
a red pillow propped     beneath her
so shoulders and knees     squeak their silken
leather rhythm. He'd     asked her to sign
"yes, yes" or "more,"     something to say
he's doing all right,      as if without words
there'd be no way of     knowing. How can she?
Why? Her hands speak     language he has no
trouble with, her moans     those of any woman,
though musically slurred     like a 45 played
at 33 rpm. Because she's     deaf, he says things
he never had while making     love, alternately
genteel and foul. She cracks     her lids
just wide enough to read his     lips and thus
conducts her own arrangement.      She holds her hands
on his throat and chest to feel     their music
strummed wilder than Mozart's.      It's symphony
for hand and eye she plays.      He wants to tell her
when he's reached the point of     no return,
but signing, his fingers lock     and his tongue, too,
so his struggle brings its     blessing and curse,
plural as sex, and what     comes from his throat
wrenches free of language,      taking him with it.
A word? No, nothing she'd     read on anyone's lips,
a creaking she felt but didn't     hear, some colossal
gate unhinged for purple-robed     priests to march through,
torches high, and bid him welcome     to her kingdom.

[Kevin Stein, 'What Language Makes of Us' from Bruised Paradise: Poems]