Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I am reading a book about bats. A serious book about bats which explains how they hold their young, how one wing wraps around another when they are cold; the males and females switch roles at random and the bats have to be a certain temperature to reproduce.

To hunt, the bat listens to the rhythm of its prey; it hears the moth’s flutter, the grasshopper’s song and to adapt the prey changes it’s music to confuse the hunter.

I understand this.

Mating occurs by listening, to the one who bears the beats closest to your own and this is how they find each other when there is nothing else. But how do they know the difference, of what to eat or what to love?

This I’m not sure I understand. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 25, 2006

It is Christmas. Em is downstairs making Christmas noises and the girls are sleeping late b/c Santa already came once EARLY so there is just us human beings left to receive gifts from and we not all that exciting.

The holidays have come in pieces for us this year which is a wonderful way to digest them. All of Em’s family will be here in a few minutes. We all laugh readily and quickly and get along exceptionally well. We spent several hours playing “would you rather” which asks such questions as “would you rather eat a brain or lick a man’s sweaty armpit completely….”

The questions are gross but offer deep insight into the psyche.

Two days ago we went to a hanger which stores all the Boeing Airplanes through out history; some had teeth, some were bright yellow like bees. It was a Rebecca Loudon wet dream and unfortunately I said those words out loud when I first entered the building. Many heads turned!

Did you ever feel like you were seeing things others were meant to see? And if you gathered them up like stones they would truly understand your gift.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

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What more could you want??????

I bought this today in a little store out side of D.C. and I am tempted to go back and buy more for all my blogger friends. It is the snot of angels and it's suppose to protect you from all the world's evils--and there's a hell of a lot of evils out there.

Oh and it smells like jasmine. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 23, 2006

We are in D.C. for the holidays. Yesterday we went to the air and space museum and purchased enough astronaut ice cream to last us at least one trip around the moon.

I have seen beautiful art.

Bella’s quote for the day “I wish these places (the museum) would only tell me about things I don’t know—the rest is boring.”

We haven’t seen the president. I haven’t been alone for more than five minutes at a time but we are here and my girls are happy.

Wishing you all peace or at least help in the pursuit of it—happy holiday.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Yesterday I was on a board which awarded $20,000 to writers. It was the first time I’ve ever been in a place to make those decisions. I think I learnt more in those eight hours then I have in a long time.

First off, I will never ever write a query letter the same again and that $15.00 I begrudgingly send off with my manuscript I will now send off with a new attitude. It’s a fluck of a lot of work.


Okay this is a boring post but I don’t want it to be.

Today Olivia taped me (without my knowledge) lying in the bed with my new pink nano singing “Halleluiah” with Katie Lang. Saying I am singing is giving me more credit than I deserve ;) it’s more like Helllllllllaaaaaaaluuuuuuuyaaaaa and then I mumble, then for some reason say “BARGE” really, really loud.

Olivia is threatening to send it to home funniest videos or post it on my blog.

I own her world---none of those things are going to happen. This is one of the reasons I never taught her to download.
What do you think of this ????

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

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I should be folding laundry---why doesn’t it come out of the dryer that way. We waste so much money on stupid inventions when that one would be useful. The laundry is in the middle of the bed right now and the cat is making tunnels. Hell if I could get away with sleeping on warm, crumpled clothes I would.

Tomorrow is a BIG day. We are having our family night at work where all the students showcase their art and perform. It is my favorite night of the semester but I will probably get to work at 8 am and leave at 8 p.m. which sucks. Yet I love it!!!!

Children will be stilting, playing African drums, putting on a show with puppets they have made, felting, painting chairs, doing Spoken Word and I will look over and it will be a good thing. A very good thing indeed.

I realized tonight, I teach and write for exactly the same reasons. I want something that is more than who I am to out live me. I want something to exist of me that doesn’t have flesh or bone.

Today Cody told me he was a great writer even though he didn’t spell every word correctly. “Because,” he said “I am excellent at content. I say interesting things.”

I hope I taught him that or at least encouraged it.

I tell them, artists are born out of deep listening. I can teach anyone to paint but only you can teach yourself how to listen. I believe that with all that I have. I believe in these kids.

Monday, December 11, 2006

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Bella and her skateboard. Dont you wish you went to my school? Posted by Picasa
Tonight I went to buy a nativity set from this wonderful store which sells original art work from all around world. The woman who owns the store says she stopped carrying them b/c ppl kept stealing the baby Jesus!!! For some reason this makes me incredibly happy.

I am going to share that information at my art school tomorrow with my kids. I think it will also make my students happy. Maybe we will make her hundreds of little baby jesuses to fill her shelves. Tis the season.

And b/c it is the season I am posting some photos of all the glorious art I’ve making with my kids while I haven’t been blogging. It is a good life and a good job. Posted by Picasa

E and T's first tree

It may be a little crooked but it's ours!!!! Posted by Picasa
E and I have been playing the title game for the last two days. You get extra points if you use a unique image from the book corresponding with that famous poet’s name. For example:

“I Wish I Had a Crimson Snatch Like Yours Jean Nordhaus.”

Jean gets fifty points for actually using SNATCH in a poem and making it work. You may doubt me now but READ her new book—it is brilliant.

I wonder if we could market it as a board game????

In other news, we are off to D.C. in nine days. I am insanely busy and giving up showering just to write this. But I’m an artist so no one notices. The great thing about being an artist is that truly lazy behavior can be chalked up to creativity.

Mid American is having their annual James Wright Contest. Go enter.

I love that journal. It is one of the few small journals that prints amazing poems each and every issue, almost cover to cover. It is my standard wine—the one I can pick up and read each time and it doesn’t leave a funny taste in my mouth. I’m not even in it and they are not paying me.

Happy 11 days into advent!!!! It is my magic number and I have chocolate.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

this is the dog I want for christmas Posted by Picasa
I have become boring. I have become boring and old and I think it has something to do with Olivia almost surpassing me in height but I’m not sure.

Next week I am on a panel to decide grant money for writers, which is always fun; it is Santa like, and hell there’s a catered lunch. Problem is I have read all the proposals and there are some poetry book titles I know I won’t be able to keep a straight face through.

(Em says I CANT post them here.)

But for example:
I Wish I Had Eyes Like Yours Van Gogh

Would you keep a straight face?

I’m not being vain or mean but I dont think the general public understands what horrible things you can call both children and books. I once had a kid in my class named Mister. Imagine that poor boy’s life.

Side note: I thought “Asleep Inside an Old Guitar” was a brilliant title and if Eduardo doesn’t take it back I might be tempted to give it to the Van Gogh dude.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Well at least in my head I’ve been blogging ;)

Today Jean Nordhaus’s new book Innocence came and I’m very excited!!! Last week I found her title poem in the pushcart award anthology while listening to an incredibly annoying woman train people at Starbucks. I was at the mall. I was a chain book store at the mall. I was trapped—the only wonderful thing was the poem.

Side note: don’t take me to the mall.

Another side note: If you do I will hide in the nearest book store.

I am wondering about the order of progression, if it is better to go with a smaller press that treats you well, to build up your audience. Is there ideal growth as a poet? An ideal place?

Or do we spend too much time talking about this crap when we should be writing?

The Innocent

Alone and together, we stand on the platform
a mob of strangers awaiting the train. There may be
among us a wife-beater; surely, a thief. That man
in the blue dolphin tie; that frazzled woman,
gathering in her scattered girls; each of us caught
in the swill of our being; none of us blameless,
not one of us pure. Greedy, covetous,
selfish, vain, we have trafficked in lies; we
have practiced small cruelties. Even the baby
asleep in a sling on his mother’s breast,
has been willful, has shaken with rage.

Yet, if fate arrives, as a wind, in a bullet,
a bomb, at the instant of shock, in the silent
heart of conflagration, we will all
be transformed into innocents, cleansed
in the fires of violence, punished not for any sins
committed—but for standing where we stand,
together in the soft, vulnerable flesh.

Jean Nordhaus

Monday, November 27, 2006

This came last week from the Writer’s Almanac. I thought it was brilliant for those of you who did not get to read it. Oh may god grant me a publisher like this!!!!

It's the birthday of the publisher and editor of The Little Review magazine, Margaret Anderson , born in Indianapolis, Indiana (1886). She grew up in the small town of Columbus, Indiana, but early on she decided that she didn't fit into small-town life at all. So she moved to Chicago, which was the artistic capital of the Midwest at the time. In order to create a circle of artistic friends, she decided to start a magazine devoted to the avant-garde. She said that her plan was to fill the magazine with "the best conversation the world has to offer."

She called her magazine The Little Review , and the first issue came out inMarch 1914. The magazine had a motto printed on the cover that said, "A Magazine of the Arts, Making No Compromise with the Public Taste."

In 1918, thepoet Ezra Pound showed Anderson the manuscript for a new novel called Ulysses by a man named James Joyce. When she read it, she wrote to Pound, "This is the most beautiful thing we'll ever have! We'll print it if it's the last effort of our lives."

It took three years to serialize the whole novel, during which four complete issues of the magazine were confiscated and burned by the U.S. PostOffice. She was eventually convicted of obscenity charges for printing the novel. At the trial, the judge wouldn't let the offending material be read in herpresence, because she was a woman, even though she had published it. But she said that the worst part of the experience was just the fact that all those issues of her magazine had been burned.

She said, "The care we had taken to preserve Joyce's text intact. ... The addressing,wrapping, stamping, mailing; the excitement of anticipating the world's responseto the literary masterpiece of our generation ... and then a notice from the Post Office: BURNED."

She kept publishing The Little Review after that, but the issues appeared lessand less frequently. Her last issue came out in 1929.

Margaret Anderson said, "I believe in the unsubmissive, the unfaltering, the unassailable, the irresistible, the unbelievable”in other words, in an art of life."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I think we should all go off into the woods and make art here

The Best New Poets came a few days ago and it is truly a beautiful book. I love books that feel good in the hands, where someone actually took time to listen to the flow. Generally I HATE anthologies b/c the sound is off. The poems seem like bad dates that keep bumping into each other. It is almost painful to watch.

At the big conference last week, the speaker said that a good non profit knows what it is good at, doesn’t try to save the world, recognizes its strength, and identifies weakness.

Of course I relate everything to poetry. Last Saturday I went to a reading where the poet wrote BIG poems about bombs, the holocaust. I began to wonder if it is possible to make a big poem successful. Carolyn Forche’s few lines say more about war than this poor man did in two hours and I wonder if it is b/c she never says anything about war.

I began wondering in this reading, if by trying to be too much we loose the beauty of elements, of what is essential. I thought about the poems I love and why I love them. How I will remember Brigit Pegeen Kelly eyes of a peach until the day I die.
Little Things

After she's gone to camp, in the early
evening I clear our girl's breakfast dishes
from the rosewood table, and find a small
crystallized pool of maple syrup, the
grains standing there, round, in the night, I
rub it with my fingertip
as if I could read it, this raised dot of
amber sugar, and this time
when I think of my father, I wonder why
I think of my father, of the beautiful blood-red
glass in his hand, or his black hair gleaming like a
broken-open coal. I think I learned to
love the little things about him
because of all the big things
I could not love, no one could, it would be wrong to.
So when I fix on this tiny image of resin
or sweep together with the heel of my hand a
pile of my son's sunburn peels like
insect wings, where I peeled his back the night before camp,
I am doing something I learned early to do, I am
paying attention to small beauties,
whatever I have -
as if it were our duty to
find things to love, to bind ourselves to this world.

- Sharon Olds

Friday, November 10, 2006

Isabel drew this for me yesterday and it is EXACTLY how my day has been!!! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

my day

Today I attended a conference with all the youth development directors in the Midwest. My workshops were intergrading diversity into curriculum and creating safe spaces for children. What I’m most proud of is not spending time with adults but when I returned to school deciding to create an ezine with the kids so they can show case their art. The internet may never be the same!!!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Artist Residencies

Deborah Ager had this on her blog which I thought was brilliant--I am now making plans to go to Brazil in my imaginary world without my very real children.
I am tempted to delete my long ass post b/c yesterday was one of those days when you want to write down everything, the time you wake, the texture of the apple against your teeth and when I feel like this, it is almost as if I am incased in something I don’t understand—a bird flying into plexi glass, it bends a little but does not break.

Notes came from a publisher yesterday about the first manuscript, so close and yet not. I am too busy thinking about the prose book to worry about the poems but I should. I know I should. When does a book grow up enough to take care of itself?

I am scheduling a reading for the Best New Poets Anthology in Minneapolis so if you are in the book and want to read please email me, if you’re not in the anthology and want to drink lots of wine and come hear us read, email me.

Monday, November 06, 2006

today's notes

There was a woman at the grocery store today who looked like Hazel, a woman I worked with when I was 14. My father believed in the development of moral character so he was always dumping his daughters off at the worst possible jobs. We never worked retail or in restaurants or the thousand other jobs one can get in a tourist town by the ocean but we found ourselves in the backs of trucks with migrant workers, in garages or greenhouses in all the places which smelled of people and labor.

And I think we were happy, my sister and I—we have different stories, my sister met her husband when she was 14 and I never dated until I was 16 but there was this boy/man named Little Aaron who believed b/c his father owned the greenhouse he was free to pull us under the growing tables by our ankles and feel our breasts.

I was a smart girl and knew the word harassment but there are things stronger than education, unwritten things like when a boy is 14 and you are15, how he is always younger than you and how you may have to explain to your father that there are some boys you like touching your breasts and some you do not.

I am thinking all this b/c I have been reading books about Nigeria, two young authors who are writing about class and I am always frighten how familiar all this is. How there can be a war and people can kill others who look just like them b/c they were not born with the correct ancestry and this makes sense to me b/c in Maine where I am from it matters what your last name is.

It does not matter if you have money or a good job or an education. You may come back a doctor or famous writer but you will always be someone’s son or daughter—the name no matter how many times you change it will always be with you.

We are so use to the wrong name being one of oppression but what if the wrong name is one of entitlement, one that leads you to the front of the line or the head of the classroom. When I went to interview at a private art school when I was 16 I was in love with the way the paint smelt, all the beautiful white buildings and I thought I could be safe there—fall into my art and as I expressed my fear of getting in, of being good enough the dean laughed and said, we know who you are.

But I didn’t and I ran to a state school. I ran to England, Haiti and then the Midwest and I am still not sure what my last name is. I long to exist in a culture where it does not matter, where people are not judge on skin color or by class and I try to create that culture for my children.

Is it possible? I will wonder this tomorrow when I go to vote. If the people who are voting represent my society. I will remember that when I lived in England my senator grandfather mailed me an absentee ballot with all the boxes checked and a detail letter of my rights and responsibilities.

I still wonder what this is, where it is. Are we all responsible for the life we have created or it is merely doing the best we can with what we are given. Hazel had seven children and one good eye. She always smelt of mums b/c we were both assigned to the funeral plants in the greenhouse. Hazel said I read TOO MUCH and no one would marry me b/c of the way I talked or if they did marry me they would not stay.

I wonder how much we tell children becomes true. There is a whole theory in Gestalt Therapy that a sentence uttered gives energy to its being not so unlike Voodoo which believes language is power, curses are weapons. What did the young Nigerian mother tell her son before she died, what curses or truth did she plant in his head, were these curses or blessings?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

We have a mouse in the house which I am convinced is several b/c I am a painter and I swear the bastard is a different shade of gray every time he flies across the kitchen floor. He never comes out when the girls are there or even Em but I swear he knows it is I who buys the traps and seeks his revenge.

Yes I am the same girl who carries bugs out by cups but this my friend is a RODENT!!!

Odd phenomenon—it seems various bloggers all stopped writing on the 31st of October not to be heard from again and being a mother I am pretty sure the little trick or treaters ate my dear friends.

I, Teresa Ballard being of some what sound mind pledge to blog every day this week due to that fact that the moon is full and the fundraiser which has consumed my life is now over. I will submit my book to Yale and I will bow at Gluck’s feet so you people who took me off your blog roll (you know who you are) due to my lack of personal expression please have pity on my soul I have been bringing art to the youth of America and god knows we all need it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I want to write that I’ve been traveling which is true. I’ve been to the ocean and back, up and down stairs, around the block and back to same house I lived in when I was twenty. My boss tells me I am a good closer. She says this b/c I am good at getting donations, hiring teachers, finding art benefactors. But I don’t believe this is true. I believe I am a good path jumper. I like shorts visits, short tasks. If it involves 15 min of my time I am really good at it.

If I met a bear in the woods (always the test of one’s moral character) I would not face the bear nor would I fear the bear I would simply change my direction thus the travels in my life look a little bit like Ms. Packman on speed--all the beautiful yellow lines but no direct course.

I think a better person would have closed her blog—left ya with a bit of mystery, desire to wonder instead of simply leaving the room with the lights on. Oh well I apologize but there’s a bear in the cupboard and a moose in the foyer.

I realized today I am not writing b/c I am blocked or busy but b/c simply I have forgotten how one approaches such things. I don’t remember at all how it begins. I know it was me. I was here and I listened.

At the reading Ms. Gallagher said to me it is good to have a book again and I said yes, it is good to remember the hunger, the hunger to be read. For as much as we may try to convince ourselves otherwise we write for one person alone and it IS ourselves and even when they bound and wrap the book, send it to millions of people it is still only for us—the writer. Funny thing that, a very funny thing indeed.

Friday, October 13, 2006

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Last night I went to hear Tess Gallagher read at the new library which doesn’t look like a library at all but more of a big museum which is storing every book just in case mankind is suddenly obliterated.

I went b/c I was suppose to be her student last August but her mother was dying and b/c honestly I felt like if I did not do something literary soon my head would implode. Note: not explode, implode—there's a difference.

Gallagher was quiet and lovely and now I want to be quiet and lovely. She gave the best answers EVER during the very horrid part of a reading when people can ask questions like how do you “craft” a poem and what made you decide on the title of your book.

Note: this is generally when I want to start rampant poet killing.

Honestly I just wanted to know if she desired to strangle the man in front of me who wanted her to sign a Ray Carver’s book instead of her own. What are people thinking????

All that said we share the same name, even though she is Teresa with an “H” and we both have poems about head shaving and a hunger to be read. I tried to pull off being called "Tess" in 7th grade (it is in my middle school yearbook) yet no one but me seemed to pick up on the change.

But I did send off three submissions today due to older women poet guilt which is a disease all its own.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Best News from Best New Poets 2006

Teresa Ballard and Vincent Zompa were selected as the Best New Poets Open Competition Winners by Eric Pankey and Jeb Livingood.

the beer is on me!!!!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

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It took me three hours to walk through the Diane Arbus exhibit. It felt like I had been there a half an hour when I came out the elevator door. I checked the clock three times.

” I used sometimes to wish not to notice the difference between things and people as if that would constitute enlightenment.

I understand this…I’m trying to forget.

I read all the little scrawls in note books, all the letters. Remind me to burn my journals before I die. I don’t mind manuscripts under glass. It’s the things I draw on napkins that terrify me.

I am applying for a Guggenheim even though I have no degree or formal training. I do speak a little French but I don’t think they are going ask me that.

Top of the Guggenheim application: I am a single mother of two small daughters and I want time to create art.

How many times have I written that?

Because there is a photo in the exhibit where she is pregnant and looking into the mirror, b/c I have that same photo of myself at twenty four and because I know what it’s like to leave my husband, to use my art as a way out and because honestly I had forgotten how she died, when the suicide came under glass with the date, I made a sound inside myself that frighten the man next to me and I wanted to not understand so well.

Diane Arbus

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If I have not written you—I’m an ass, if I have not called you back it is b/c my phone is not hooked up (and I’m enjoying it) and if I did not respond when you said my name I think I am sorry.

Reclusive is a lovely word.

Today I am going to see the Diane Arbus exhibit b/c it is the last day and it will be amazing. I hope. If not, I know it will be crowed and I can say reclusive, reclusive a thousand times in my head.

The sewer exploded last night again downstairs and now I need to pay someone to run cameras under my house to look at shit. Photos of shit. For some reason I find that incredibly funny—I hear humor takes over right before you go mad.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

It takes too much time to be a writer. I, the keeper of all time especially mine, have decided this. In a perfect world there is enough time to do the things you love or maybe that is too loose a definition, I mean the things which let you breathe easier. In my ideal world I’d write without the guilt of motherhood, financial responsibility or stress, I’d write b/c it helps me breathe. But I don’t live in my ideal world

I live here.

I have just finished my third 50 hour week and I have to get a non profit art program off the ground by next week. I have a giant dragon in my front yard made out of cardboard that Isabel made in go-cart class and its raining. I am debating how much I love my daughter and if I should try to push the giant red dragon into the trees so it doesn’t get ruin---it is way too big for my garage.

This week I read to my students from Da Vinci’s notebooks. I talked to them about light, the human form and inventions. I told them this man was brilliant not just b/c of everything he thought but b/c he wrote everything down. He valued his mind--great people are made when they allow themselves to be great people.

Please remember to write it down.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

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This is an evil meme to play when a girl has all her books in boxes

The Books which

changed my life?

Okay there have been more than one: Holy The Firm by Annie Dillard, Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, Jane Eyre, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L’Engle.

I've read more than once?

All of the above plus all of Celan’s Selected, Sexton’s Selected and Anna Akhmatova Collection. I have these books memorized.

I'd want on a desert island?

I don’t want a book. I want an endless ream of paper and lots of pens.made me laugh?

Made me laugh?
I hate books that make me laugh---maybe b/c my real life is so funny!

Made me cry?
Once my x husband had to pull over the car b/c I was sobbing so hard while reading Elizabeth Berg’s Talk Before Sleep. He begged me to give him the book and I refused. He said he would not drive the cars unless I gave him the book. I got out to walk. I can walk while reading---it’s a gift.

I wish had been written?
Geek Love, Stones From A River—any book that has an original story from a voice not often heard from, like in Stones From A River this is the main character. I think I have a thing for dwarfs and circus acts. Yes, and to To Kill A Mocking Bird no dwarfs or tigers were killed in the making of this novel.

I wish had never been written?

The New Genre of Women’s Fiction and those sad children chapter books which treat kids like idiots. Oh and those self help parent books When to Speak when your child does not give a pluck to hear what your saying

I'm currently reading? Door In The Mountain by Jean Valentine, Late Wife by Claudia Emerson.

I've been meaning to read? Moby Dick!!!! Yes I know it seems impossible and even though I have discussed it at length and with some intelligence I’ve never actually read the damn whale. I also promise myself several times a year, I wont buy another book till all the ones on my shelves are read.

People I tag: Lee, Allison and Rebecca (b/c she will never do it and it bothers her;)

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I’ve decided to delete all my archives—it is a horrible thing to read your self a year later. I was far more interesting then or at least I discussed poetry. I discussed poetry five times in one month….IMAGINE.

Carolyn taught me that every word counts, for example if you have truck in a poem do you mean Ford? Do you mean green Ford? Do you mean green Ford with a flat tire? I have taught myself that sometimes I mean truck.

One of the things which really troubles me about modern poetry is the need to use words which do not appear in every day language. If I write a poem with a dictionary well then bravo, but the fact is what makes great poet great (in my opinion) poets like Celan and Sexton is that everyday language is their home.

If I wanted to tell you I love you, I would make sure you could understand the note. In art school you learn to reinvent every day images, that the most powerful tool to the eye are things recognized yet undistinguishable. Here is my poem. Would Dickson’s poem be so powerful if we did not all know the fly, how it buzzed? Have we not all watched a fly at some time in life flutter and fail? Have we not all tied ourselves somehow to that said fly? I heard a fly buzz before I died I did, I heard a fly buzz and it told me I was all and nothing at the same time.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Dial up is crazy. I’m at a friend’s house and I honestly feel like someone has given me a string and two cans. How do you people live?

My camera was stolen or our/her/my camera was stolen and I mourn it b/c it had the best lens and held my history. Cameras do things words can never do. Words can hope but cameras see.

In the mailbox I received the contact from BEST NEW POETS which makes me think I should be young and shiny like a new penny; most days this summer I have felt like the Susan B. Anthony dollar—spendable yes, popular no.

I also feel like this summer I’ve had the word dialectictattooed on my ass.

I want a button in my head to shut off. I want to stop wondering and just be. Tell me do safe happy people write books?

I bought organic peaches yesterday. I thought of Brigit Pegeen Kelly all fish and eyes and I want to write a poem like that. I want to hold it in my mouth.

The Leaving

by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

My father said I could not do it,
but all night I picked the peaches.
The orchard was still, the canals ran steadily.
I was a girl then, my chest its own walled garden.
How many ladders to gather an orchard?
I had only one and a long patience with lit hands
and the looking of the stars which moved right through me
the way the water moved through the canals with a voice
that seemed to speak of this moonless gathering
and those who had gathered before me.
I put the peaches in the pond's cold water,
all night up the ladder and down, all night my hands
twisting fruit as if I were entering a thousand doors,
all night my back a straight road to the sky.
And then out of its own goodness, out
of the far fields of the stars, the morning came,
and inside me was the stillness a bell possesses
just after it has been rung, before the metal
begins to long again for the clapper's stroke.
The light came over the orchard.
The canals were silver and then were not.
and the pond was--I could see as I laid
the last peach in the water--full of fish and eyes.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sadly do you know how long it takes a group of ten elementary students to tie-dye? Not very long and I have a three hour class of nothing but tie dye this week and they’ve already ruin my shirt and shoes by aiming the dye bottles directly at ME!!!! On the exiting side we are right next to the cardboard city class and Elliot built me a boat. I always wanted a boat of paper. I will ride it home.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Philip Levine Prize for Poetry

My neighbors are on vacation in Maine for a month. They told my children they will wave to their grandfather when they cross his bridge. It is one of the few drawbridges left in the country—my father makes it go up and down.

It is raining. My neighbors want me to water their garden two hours a week even if it is raining b/c they have lost two trees in the front. It is the acid in the land not the water. I have told them this but you can only tell pp. so much and then they must plant their trees and watch them die and then plant them again. We are an animal which learns by doing not by hearing---not so different from the other animals I suppose.

I read in the Sunday paper this morning that non-fiction is the big literary seller in our decade which means the collection of short stories could do well. Maybe I could invent a new genre, not that I believe there any new genres, or art forms for that matter left to be invented but if I can’t write a damn fine book at least I could invent something essential like scotch tape or a doggie door.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

This has been the summer of no blog or maybe I should just call it the summer I moved. It has been one week since the truck left everything in cardboard piles in the new old/house…one week and there are barely dents. The summer I took chances, was messy, became a foundation—lived well. Deliberately well.

The summer I took too long.

The act of deliberate living is no easy act to perform at 38. Oh and then I turned 39—still not an easy act. Fire eating at 37 was a walk in the park;)

A summer of no writing and yet the summer where the ONE THING I sent in, landed me in Best New Poets. It is impossible sometimes to write and live---maybe it is not fair or just but there are times when living is too much to write about. I never thought I’d be there but I have and I’ve survived.

It has been the summer of this which everybody waits to hear/read about, to see if it floats or sinks, some are cheering one way or another and maybe b/c of that I haven’t recorded any of it. Maybe b/c the most private thing we can do is love.

Here is the truth: we are traveling. We are happy and sometimes we are not. The last year has taught me you can always look in at something, someone and believe you understand yet in fact, you know nothing. With all the things I write about, imagine, days I live, I will never know what it is like to be you—in your skin.

What a wonderful, horrible thing.

It is the summer I learned to judge less.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

tonight my best friend lost something incredibly important, vital and it should be named somehow. It should have grown to be named. We control so very little in this life. So tonight I am sad, I mark it for you and with you. And I am sorry. Blessings on your head my darling.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

my front yard in july

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anti matter

Last summer my goals were simple: I wanted to read through a series of Russian poets and finish the book AGAIN. But this summer they focus around two houses, children home from school, a new relationship and really too much emotional growth for one almost forty year old woman.

God why doesn’t age ever sound sexy?

I realized this morning that REALLY the only goal I had was to take Teo to Orchestra Hall to hear music; he is an eleven year old from Ecuador who discusses music with me like it is baseball. He plays the violin; he stands at the stone arch bridge and plays the violin for money. We debate who is better, Mozart or Beethoven—we decide on neither.

It should be noted here: I know nothing about music. It was my great downfall in high school that while others were discussing bands, I was in fact reading those Russian poets. Then you add, my parents idea of culture was to take me to a Crystal Gale concert (she had wonderful hair) well, I’m doomed.

Truth: music leads to other conversations with Teo and I hold out for those. Another truth: children and old people are the only human beings really worth talking to, b/c they tell you exactly what they think, and you can actually have an intelligent conversation without having to dig for it.

For example, on the forth of July while watching fireworks Teo and I discussed anti matter, how it was his favorite thing, and how it was impossible to gain reliable information b/c it was constantly changing. I asked him if he thought anti matter was needed in the universe b/c of this fact, if we controlled anti matter, would then the whole chaos theory of existing be thrown out of whack?

We discussed human beings need to control, instead of coming along side and what really needed to be invented was something that did not “control” anti matter’s energy but merely followed it, like a wave.

When living with unpredictability one must give up the need to know. Note: I have been unable to accomplish this!!!!!! Another side note: science and inter personal relationships---not that different.

Teo has never been inside a concert hall, I believe it is the one thing in the universe I can change in July.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I am not yet moved into the new old house, this is what happens when you add two new bathrooms and a kitchen, this is what happens when your contractor flushes paper towels down the toilet and causes the sewage system to explode.

I’m not very exciting. I’m saving you people pain. I am however alive—not writing but alive. Last week was the first week of programming and I had an art budget for 45 kids and 53 showed up. It was a hell of more stilts and paint but worth it.

I use to be a missionary, a wife, a teacher…now I am an art director, a lover, a writer. I have lost nothing. I am still all those other things. When I was talking with Liz the other day, she said this is what it means to get old, sometimes you hold less in your hand but it is always open b/c you understand you actually hold nothing. It is the still under the stream, watching the river move.

This is my hand. Here is my life.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I am the mummy Barbie teacher


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Giant Cat

Right now something is purring in my house like a giant cat—I believe it is the fan upstairs. I believe it is the fan vibrating against the hardwood floor. Yet I want to say it is a cat, something giant curled up against the wall, holding us close. When you jump there is so little to fear. A few years ago I use to fear open windows, sleeping alone in this house with the girls. Listen to me sleep, I would say on the phone to California, listen and be someone who hears me.

I don’t know if I need that as much anymore. I use to claim I had a hunger to be read; somehow it scares me now that in this journey to be whole I may have lost that. I don’t care if you read me. I don’t need you to listen. In fact, listening in some cases tends to incur judgment and the demons in my head do a damn fine job already, thank you very much.

Truth: I sat by the lake last night and read a poem that made my heart hurt. I wanted to write. I wanted to write so much, I would have traded it for a cup of air; a day of my life but there is not time right now. There are two girls and two houses and a non profit art program and so much change it feels impossible to measure.

And another truth: I don’t need you to listen. I hunger not for you to understand but for the simple action of moving my hand across the page. Because for the first time in my life there is something inside me deeper than being understood and maybe it began as this tiny seed, of saying all my worst fears out loud, maybe it began by not caring a little more each day or by becoming the one person no one ever expected me to be.

Maybe it began here in this place with the giant cat.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

She is the most amazing twelve year old on the whole planet and I had the best time camping. Posted by Picasa
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There are so many things we want to make beautiful, so many things we justify b/c we had no other way to go. Yesterday we went the wrong way; two other chaperones and myself; two other moms who left the campsite of 28 kids, who went looking for the fork in the road where the park ranger said we’d find fossils. Stay on the road and we didn’t, we tucked under the no trespassing sign, under the barb wire and the quarry was like something out of Tolkien so we kept going and b/c honestly, every mother gets tired of holding the line, there are days when we need to remember ourselves. Our young selves; our selves who can sneak and hide and meet after dark. I am a leader at this. I am a leader of sometimes teaching people how to do “the wrong thing” Because my friend, it sometimes tastes so good in the mouth, it is exactly what is needed.

I went camping with 28 kids this weekend. I slept in a puddle, I went thirteen miles underground in a cave. I hid in a bathroom and scared boys. I laughed more than I have in a year. I had a twelve year old put his arm around me and say, you are a horrible example and I like you soooooo much.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Turtle fornication makes me happy. It makes sense to me to swim around in a big blue world looking for love. It makes sense to have a shell to hide in on a bad day.

Saturn is still on my ass. All notes here will be laced with slight bitterness.

I enjoyed the children very much tonight until I tried to put them to bed, then they became horrid beasts.

My sink right now at the new/old house is on the front lawn. It is right next to the butterfly bush I planted for Dr. Peter. I wish there were butter sink flies.
A sink on front lawn does not bother the contractor, he seems happy to smoke in my house and throw sinks out the window. Tonight I saw him light a cigarette with a blow torch---I am taking up smoking for this reason alone.

Tonight I want to be Mina Loy, with long black gloves and an air of confidence. I want to have all my books written and not be at the mercy of printer who does not want to work for me. I want black gloves and a cigarette lit by a blow torch.
Or I want to be here, watching the turtles find their way. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I planted heliotrope in the front yard b/c it smells beautiful and mixed with my moon flowers one can sit on the porch and believe the whole world is contained within one night.

I use to plant hard to grow plants b/c I was proving myself to myself when I was younger, now I am older and I want nothing but color. And smell; flowers as big as dinner plates and night flowers with blooms like moons.

Do you understand there are a hundred different ways to die in a garden?

I am quoting myself. If you want to read the poem, it is my pretend book which is in my pretend room, held by my pretend house. Jack did not build it. If Jack built it everything would be done by now, I would be moved and the boxes would be gone. You would say what a wonderful house Jack, what a wonderful life. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 03, 2006

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Yesterday was a hard day; all day long it has felt like someone has drained my blood. Friday was full crying parents, sad kids and me, trying to be professional, trying not to be one of THOSE teachers who cries on her children’s heads while saying goodbye.

Tonight I am quiet. I am reading cummings and being quiet. I am hearing Walter Benton in my head—there is no music, there should be music. As a departing gift my students painted to Loudon’s beautiful sounds, it was amazing. She is amazing. Thank you my dear for such a gift.

I hope Sunday is a good day.

god I love this man

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
e.e. cummings