Thursday, September 22, 2005

Happy, Happy First Birthday Blog

monarchs Posted by Picasa
Olivia is leading a hunger strike tomorrow at her school. This year b/c of Bush’s No Child Left Behind Crap…I mean act;), the school has taken away most of recess and is packing all the kids together in the lunch area instead of letting them eat in their rooms. So O is leading a peaceful protest. Tonight she wanted to know what happens if:

they call you at work….then I answer the phone
what if I get in trouble….then we will deal with it together
what if I get suspended ….then I'll leave work and come pick you up

I love that I have raised this kind of kid. I love that she thinks this way. Bella is growing worms on the porch. She says if it snows, they will have home. I told her they NEED stay on the porch but tonight I found one under the sink in my coffee cup. I love that I am raising this kind of kid too but it's much messier.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

It's offical

“I am happy to inform you that Teresa Ballard has won 2005 SASE/Jerome Fellowship with an award of 3500 dollars” and I think I also won a nanny named Lola;)

I’m so excited and I have absolutely no one to celebrate with at the moment. I told the girls and they rewarded me by blinking twice. Oh the joys of being a mother writer.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

eye Posted by Picasa

Have You Done Any Good????

Tarkovsky: “The allotted function of art is not, as is often assumed, to put across idea, to propagate thoughts, to serve as example. The aim of art is to prepare the person for death, to plough and harrow his/her own soul, rendering it capable of turning good.”
The human eye is capable of viewing 180 degrees in any direction, which means: whatever lies directly behind or tucks itself into the corner like a sleeve is completely invisible. Burdens understand this concept, attaching squarely on the back; they do not squirm or skitter. But what of want? In what vision do you lie?

My neck is warm with your scent. My arms held out like wings feel your shadow, tips of our fingers touching, almost air; almost flesh. Sight is an empty glass. A metaphor for nothing. You follow every step, up every path; when I turn you are silent. My name exists between our bodies yet you do not speak. Dear opposite reflection, lover of the blind—leave me be.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

So I don’t know if this experiment of posting my morning notes is a good or not. It may show how totally incoherent I am without coffee. I’m reading Carole Maso’s “Breaking Every Rule” and I’m enjoying it very much.

Desire has made it possible for me to write into my greatest vulnerabilities, uncertainties. It has made it possible to not worry so much about the consequences, to let go a little. Desire has allowed me to write into its danger, its bliss, its silence, its abyss. To not care about failing. Whether these pieces were any “good” seemed hardly to enter into it. If I felt I was doing something I already knew how to do well, the rule was to start again in an attempt to break habitual patterns of mind and expression.

Note to self: it’s not always the most talented who produce the greatest work but those who are willing to take risks, even if it may, for a moment make them appear less talented.

Yesterday the proofs came from Massachusetts Review and Mid- American. Why do all my poems appear on odd number pages? I think it’s a good sign. I have finished the proofs today and typed up two more submissions. I am trying again for the journal I really want, the one which wrote me three letters last year. If I get in, I will dance naked on the table. There will no photos.

My girls are living on popsicles and pizza.

waking room---maggie taylor Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 17, 2005

It’s impossible to write a book when Disney channel is playing downstairs. I am tired of being a parent today. I want to go live in a writer’s colony. When I was 18 I went to live in a think tank in England. I fell in love with a man named John, drew his portrait in my notebooks, talked to him about theories of thought. I believed all things to be new. He was 38, born in New Zealand, spent his life traveling. He may be traveling still.

I am applying for a fellowship to live out of the country. I am a mother of two girls. It makes no sense but I’ve decided if I get it, I will pack up my bags, we will leave for a year. We will not look back. Okay I won’t look back, the girls will probably hate me for a good month.

It is hard to find this balance between Teresa the writer and Teresa the mother. Olivia is almost 12 and I still don’t do it well. Tonight I said, yes she can sleep over and I ended up having six children stay for supper. My girls said, “tell them your stories” and I said, “which story” and my girls said, “tell them stories of you mommy, tell them the story of you.” So that was my night. I ate pizza, drank chocolate milk and we were all together in a story. I always wanted a mother like me and now I’m her. On good days I am her.

But I don’t live in a think tank. I don’t have a John and I know now I never will yet I do have two girls. I do have my stories. And I make a damn good pizza.
You’ll not understand I’m speaking in a secret language:
bird, rock, sea. What’s to become me?
No one shares my tongue and all the messages are lost.
Desire is for pretty girls, hands on hip.
I’ve never been a pretty girl, feathered fish, last thought.
I’ve been your dream, your night’s fever.
Here’s the way you release me. Let me swim
with my wings under the water, let me be the girl
who’s in your veins but not your heart.
The four chambers are not doors merely corridors
but dear sky, where are the windows?
I’m under the water, the hidden stream flowing
beneath the stairs. You need to keep walking.
The next floor is going up.

In the basement of my childhood I practiced the art of levitation
by placing my hand firmly under a blade, her shoulder would relax,
begin to rise. There are no secret powers. I am not your super man.
Only children seem to understand, the human body by it’s very
nature exists mostly of water, it's journey is to move away.

shark Posted by Picasa
The panel went well yesterday, if you take out that I almost fell out of my chair when I went to sit down, it was pretty darn close to perfect. I am not going to write too much about what happened as not to jinx myself into the next century.

When I returned home I had a rejection note waiting for me which was the best time to get one. If I had blown the panel discussion and then had the note, I would have cried. But “Zen Teresa” showed up and told me it was all part of the process. God I wished “Zen Teresa” lived with me, she only shows up very rarely.

My true crazy self: I had a dream the person I loved dove into a pool and there was a shark in it. I waited by the edge to pull the body out but no one resurfaced. I waited for the blood to tell me it was over but there was no blood. A crowd gathered and nothing happened. No one could give me answers and I was the only one questioning. Then I realized maybe there was a tube leading out of the pool, maybe the body was there, maybe my love was safe but I found nothing, then I woke up.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I never wanted to be a writer when I was a little girl. I wanted to be a singer. I wanted to be a rock star. I use to believe there were people behind the trees who were writing down all the songs I made up and sang out loud, because every so often I would hear them on the radio. As a child I had no idea how the body remembers.

Here is the color of love. I tell my girl this when we’re all together. Remember this day, remember this color. See the thing is, I’m not a writer I’m a remember, everything in me is being stored. Everything you ever said, all the words can fall away but in me they still exist. And I will write them down.

When I wrote my first song on the back of my school book, my teacher made me go to the office. The office had me go to the “special trailer” where all the kids drooled and wet their pants. The woman there smelt like lemons. She told me, she was a special teacher, a person for the kids who drooled and a person for those kids who wrote poems on the backs of their books. The kids who were so smart, things didn’t always fit in their heads. She told me I was gifted.

My first poem was the thing that saved me, from boys on the playground who made me eat dirt, from Mrs. Truscott who spelt like glue. It gave me a small tin house filled with books, a woman who brushed my hair back from my eyes, who read me Whitman and Hugo. My first poem told me I was special.

I never wanted to be writer. I wanted to be a rock star. But the poems found me and they told me to remember.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Life on the giant slide Posted by Picasa
I start back a work tomorrow after my wonderful two weeks off. I am not ready. I went in to set up my art room and of course had three days of work to do in three hours. It isn’t going to happen. I did find/borrow/steal a series of skulls for my new drawing and painting class today. It is important to freak those new students out right away, then they know what to expect from me ;)

Two days till my panel. I am a wreck. What does on wear to talk about their work? My little brother has already given me shit this morning for wearing black to my other brother’s wedding. Will is getting married in a month. I am fighting the urge to wear pink taffeta now with matching shoes…He doesn’t realize how beautiful black can be.

Not to jinx myself but I am in a flow about the book. I’m actually writing all day while the girls are at school. Going back to work could not come at a worse time. Why does it feel like I constantly have to fight for that space?

I only need 43 perfect pages, only 43 that is not too much to ask from the universe, is it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

 Posted by Picasa
What A Strange Machine

Always the wingless birds hang on the wall
their skin absent of feathers. Where is love?
Sleeping in the November fields of corn
or upstairs? She must be sleeping
if not for the birds my love would wake.

Lately I’ve been dreaming of spoons
the thin weight of their bodies. I hunger
for metal, the taste in my mouth.
I hunger for what the body cannot digest.

All my gods are profane, waste days like water, speak without purpose or memory. Tell me again how many times the body dies. No seven lives, only the four chamber heart. What’s a girl to invent with that? All the people I’ve ever loved were gathered in a dream, swam below like fish only to grow wings. A curved needle is a hook, a thin rope a string. Tell me again your name? I am a lie. I’ve been asleep for a very long time. My heart named me bird. My heart called me a cry. Only the fish flew away.
Two plus two should equal four
except of course for the occasional five
which lurks like a liar and even though
in every previous equation the four has stood
solid with its two walls and trunk.
A five now lures, its round belly, its half moon.
It’s possible numbers mean nothing.
Those early mathematicians, imprisoned
for blasphemy, believing what? Numbers
when addressed as language take on another body.
If you loved one why not the other. Oh those fools!
Who hunted spices in a time when coriander
was worth its weight in gold.
Salvation exists without reason.
I’m adding up why we're not together.
Two plus two equals four
except for the occasional five.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Oh Behold the Seven

Seven Things I Plan To Do Before I Die :

1. stand in the Louvre
2. write a good novel/ children’s book and a few books of poetry
3. raise strong women
4. go to Africa
5. be as happy as I once was and have it not go away
6. return to the ocean to live
7. go to a movie alone ( I see this as a total lack of character)

Seven Things I Can Do :

1. build a thirty feet sculpture with 20 grade schoolers
2. pour cement with three year olds *Please do not try this at home without proper training*
3. read a 400 page book in a night and remember everything that it says. My reading comprehension skills are in the 110th percentile. My math skills are in the low 50’s
4. touch my tongue to my nose
5. use a drill
6. speak enough French, Creole and Spanish to get you a beer.
7. do all the voices for green eggs and ham/ without ever looking at the pages.
can also do this with “Horton Hears a Hoo” and “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”

Seven Things I Can't Do

1. sew
2. some really small motor skills like threading needles…see above comment
3. cut a straight line
4. give an accurate number there were 50 people at the party. No, Teresa there was ten people at the party.
5. shut my head off
6. a cart wheel (this was incredibly hard to realize while trying out for cheer leading in junior high. Thus why I became a pot smoker with a leather jacket.
7. eat meat loaf

Seven Things That Attract Me to People :

1. intelligence
2. beauty (I know I am suppose to lie here)
3. originality (something about that person has to be totally unique compared to anyone I ever been with before)
4. kindness
5. sushi/ the ability to make/ buy or feed me it on a regular basis
6. sexual energy
7. strong sense of self

Seven Things I Say Most:

1. No! (Because I am a mom)
2. If you do that, you are going to get it stuck in your ear, nose, underwear, mouth… (Because I am a teacher.)
3. My friends….
4. Fuck….Flucker….Fluck it.
5. Hey
7. Okay, WHY DID YOU DO THAT?????

Seven Celebrity Crushes:

1. Anne Sexton (dead)
2. Edwidge Danticat ( I adore her)
3. Paul Celan (also dead)
4. Robin Williams (please don’t ask me to explain this)
5. Amy Bloom
6. Edgar Degas
7. Camille Claudel

Seven People I am tagging:

If you haven’t had

1. a baby in the last week
2. sex today
3. an egg for breakfast
4. written a poem today
5. bitched about the weather
6. to take a child to school
7. had surgery in the last week (on yourself Peter, not in general)

Than you my friend are tagged…

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Whichever stone you lift--
you lay bare those who need the protection of stones.
It’s not a matter of sight but vulnerability.
Whenever you take into your hand
the half formed, the amphibian fish; fin legs, pin heart.
You must understand the drive to scatter.
A stone with its own moon does not remember
nor does it need to control the tide.
Darkness by her very nature is lax.
Do not expect more— yet within your own nature
is the exact opposite wonder, to uncover
what has no desire for light.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bella's morning Posted by Picasa
Two weeks ago a friend of mine who studies monarchs at the University of Minnesota gave me a bunch of chrysalises that were not going to hatch (or whatever technical term he used.) Needless to say no matter how hallmarkie it sounds the cocoons were beautiful, tiny pieces of jade with gold running through. The girls and I hung them in the kitchen by the window so we could watch them move in the light. Okay so I could watch them move in the light. The girls thought it was lame without butterflies.

Today I woke up to Monarchs flying around my house there was one drinking out of my coffee cup. I woke up my girls and we spent the next 40 minutes trying to convince them that outside was a better world. It took a great deal of convincing.

This week I was told by someone that I live mostly in illusions, what I write here isn’t always accurate. Granted. You don’t drink much beer and you haven’t published a book. These are true things. I don’t drink much beer…only good beer. My book, whose title changes almost monthly is waiting. It is done and it is not done.

The manuscript has been read by the two writers in the world who I admire more than anyone, both have blest it. Both have said, yes, this will see the light of day. I am waiting for Yale. I am waiting for something big. I am also okay with “the big thing” not happening.

I am okay with the book just being pieces of jade catching the light. The beauty of it. After all, I’m the girl who lives mostly in illusions.

Friday, September 09, 2005

,,,, Posted by Picasa
Okay explain this phenomenon to me: it seems that radio Disney plays the exact same music as the drag show at the gay 90’s which btw has the best martinis in Minneapolis. So on the way to school after seeing men in fish nets dancing before me in my mind’s eye I realized that I actually wanted to write today because of course I can’t. Again explain this phenomenon to me. Yesterday I had all day to write. I did nothing. I watched the news for a bit & then made myself go shopping (the thing that usually makes me depressed) b/c I couldn’t handle Dick Cheney on the T.V. anymore without throwing things. Today I want to write. Today I want to write b/c I am going to the river with 23 second graders and we are going to pick up garbage and then we are going to make art with it. This is what we do as artist. This is what I keep doing.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

maggie taylor and my day overall. I love the fish.... Posted by Picasa
This is incredibly interesting and frightening as all hell.

Oddly this reminds me so much of being a missionary, when I went to Haiti at the ripe old age of 21. I was told by the organization that I could not eat the food in the village, they would provide me with my own food. We were not allowed to give people food, if we had extra clothes we weren’t allowed to share. It was about class and power. They used the word riot a great deal.

I never did what I was told. I snuck out at night, walked alone. I lived in the village. I bathed with the villagers. I shared everything I had as they did with me. No one was ever cruel or invasive. A human society can exist and function without segregation and power.

I haven’t commented on the hurricane b/c well there is nothing to say. We put someone in power who has proven time and time again he is a homophobic bigot. But we put him in power b/c he promised to keep us safe by something I guess we feared more.

People keep talking about what the nation has become. I lived in Haiti in 91, it has always existed in the ways we have treated other countries. It’s finally come home.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I am having one of those days where I either want a magic 8 ball to run over me or give me all the answers. I took my cat to the vet today and he has diabetes so now I have to give him shots, which I hate doing. Also my mother has severe diabetes so every time I go to give the cat his insulin this mean little voice tells me, I am going to get it and I am going to die. She is a mean little voice and deserves to be poked with a needle.

Plus my x husband wants to sell our old house. It is this beautiful two hundred year old Victorian house with a tower. I love that house. I could buy his half of the house but it needs TONS of work and I don�t know if I can live there and actually feel like I moved on with my life. Yet I fear I will never love a house like that one. Please run me over with a giant 8 ball�.

The Minnesota State Arts Board Grant is finished and mailed, next week I am in front of a panel to talk about my manuscript. I also begin teaching the very same day. Tomorrow I am writing query letters or I am watching 6 Feet Under.

T.V. is an evil beast but she expects nothing from me.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

no more Posted by Picasa

Okay People

Because I was making a list of grants to send off to Wendy this morning I thought I would post them here in case anyone else can use this information. Every state (if you don’t move to another) should have a list of grants for writers. You can use this money for travel, finishing your book, even buying a new computer. Like anything else, read the guidelines carefully. And if anyone has any more grant information please list it here and I will update accordingly. (this might just be Minnesota)


I am horribly addicted to “Six Feet Under” now and it is not serving me well. I am getting nothing done. It is mostly C. Dale Young’s fault but I already blamed him for a bad hair cut so it seems wrong to bring this up. Things I need to know:

How many seasons does it have?
And why does Blockbuster only carry Seasons one and two?
Isn’t Season three out?
Does it end at Season three?

I am in the middle of Season two and it is pretty safe to say I would never have sex in a public bathroom to improve my writing. Ewwwww they never wash the floors in there. Okay maybe standing up but the chick was on the floor.

Monday, September 05, 2005

I once had someone tell me that after 9/11 the divorce rate tripled the very next year. She of course she was commenting on my divorce which was somehow connected to a national crisis.

It is sad the things we tell ourselves and others to reach a state of connection. I recently had another friend tell me she didn’t think her life was valid b/c she didn’t have a book out. Another friend b/c she didn’t have children.

I would like to side note here and say that I have lots of male friends and not one of them has ever brought up validity in their life connected to another object. Of course, some have wanted love, books, children but not one of them has said, “Teresa, I do not feel valid.”

And it makes me wonder what it is, in us, as women that connects our existence to something outside of ourselves. Isn’t it frightening that was deems us as acceptable in our own reality is outside our power. I can’t make someone love me (tried this) and really you can’t do the other two without a hell of a lot money or someone’s help.

Why am I thinking these things? Because I have daughters, because sometimes I judge myself too harshly and the basic fact that waiting for something to come along and give you meaning is fucking exhausting.

... Posted by Picasa

Emily Jane

This is the painting I hung over each of my daughters’ cribs. So today I am hanging it here because Emily Jane is one cute girl. May your days be blest and did anyone else notice how cute that Jack boy is, what a great big brother.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

lightening Posted by Picasa
I adore Picasso. I have been avoiding posting anything here b/c I don’t want to bump it down the page. My second book of poetry is going to be called “Woman with a Book” just so I can use this painting. And don’t go stealing my title. I am still angry at Miranda Field for stealing my title “Swallow.”

Today I went to the farmer’s market and tasted chocolate sweet potato pie for the first time. Today I had sweet potato pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I think I squeezed in some sliced tomatoes with fresh basil but the pie carried me through the day.

Thunder is speaking in the sky and it is one of those day where I miss everything b/c the one thing I truly miss I can’t name. What started out as a small ache in the morning has grown and I need sleep.

The girls are off to school in two days and the moon is waxing then waning. Why is it some things are still beautiful no matter how many times you say them? You have told me you’ve loved me a hundred times and yet this morning it was a new word. My word. Tonight the moon is waxing then waning. I am living on sugar and dreams I don’t remember.

Friday, September 02, 2005

woman with a book Posted by Picasa

Mother Load

Because I saved all my birthday money like a good Leo and because I know the best wholesale books seller on the internet I got a box in the mail today that resembled the size of a small child. You could actually feel it thump from the porch to the kitchen.
In the box:

Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes
Practical Gods by Carl Dennis
A Short History of the Shadow by Charles Wright
Drivers at the Short Time Motel by Eugene Gloria
Paul Celan Romania by Julian Semilian ( this is a pocket version of all the lost poems he wrote in Romania before his death, I am so excited about this I almost had a …..)
Spoken Here by Mark Abley (because of Anne’s blog discussion about language)
The Probable World by Lawrence Raab
Mercy of a Rude Stream by Henry Roth (b/c of Laurel Snyder…you ppl are costing me money)
Break Every Rule and Room Lit by Roses by Carole Maso (who I love)
Pallbearers Envying the One who Rides by Stephen Dobyns
Three Lives & Tender Buttons by Gerturde Stein (I am a feminist and I’ve never read this book)
Mrs. Reynolds by Geturde Stein (please see above statement)

and people I did not even break the fifty dollar mark, which means I am one hell of a shopper and it also means you may not see me for a few days. Please feel free to send bread & water. I am going to try to finish my grant today but I don’t think I am discipline enough. All the books are spread out on my bed and I am touching them, well like I am dating them;) Beautiful, beautiful books…..

What would you read first???

Carl Dennis


Am I leading the life that my soul,
Mortal or not, wants me to lead is a question
That seems at least as meaningful as the question
Am I leading the life I want to live,
Given the vagueness of the pronoun "I,"
The number of things it wants at any moment.

Fictive or not, the soul asks for a few things only,
If not just one. So life would be clearer
If it weren’t so silent, inaudible
Even here in the yard an hour past sundown
When the pair of cardinals and crowd of starlings
Have settled down for the night in the poplars.

Have I planted the seed of my talent in fertile soil?
Have I watered and trimmed the sapling?
Do birds nest in my canopy? Do I throw a shade
Others might find inviting? These are some handy metaphors
The soul is free to use if it finds itself
Unwilling to speak directly for reasons beyond me,
Assuming it’s eager to be of service.

Now the moon, rising above the branches,
Offers itself to my soul as a double,
Its scarred face an image of the disappointment
I’m ready to say I’ve caused if the soul
Names the particulars and suggests amendments.

So fine are the threads that the moon
Uses to tug at the ocean that Galileo himself
Couldn’t imagine them. He tried to explain the tides
By the earth’s momentum as yesterday
I tried to explain my early waking
Three hours before dawn by street noise.

Now I’m ready to posit a tug
Or nudge from the soul. Some insight
Too important to be put off till morning
Might have been mine if I’d opened myself
To the occasion as now I do.

Here’s a chance for the soul to fit its truth
To a world of yards, moons, poplars, and starlings,
To resist the fear that to talk my language
Means to be shoehorned into my perspective
Till it thinks as I do, narrowly.

"Be brave, Soul," I want to say to encourage it.
"Your student, however slow, is willing,
The only student you’ll ever have."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

no wind no waves  Posted by Picasa