Monday, January 30, 2006

Miss Olivia will be starring in an Opera tomorrow night that she and her friends wrote. She will be the chick with the drums!!! Come one, come all.  
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why vincent didn't have children...

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It's a beautiful morning here which considering it's almost February in Minnesota, is something of a miracle. Global warming seems to be working well for us.

My daughters were debating this morning over cheerios, my life goods—

Olivia: I get the piano when she dies.
Bella: Why do you get the piano?
Olivia: Because I PRACTICE!
Bella: Well, what do I get?
Olivia: What do you want?
(as if I am dead already and not sitting next to them, drinking coffee.)
Bella: I think I want ALL of mom’s wedding rings!!!

It should be noted here, that she said this in the plural form, and with great enthusiasm. With the belief that I somehow have the dating life of Elizabeth Taylor—as if, there’s a truck loaded with diamonds waiting to be distributed. And when I brought this up to them, they just rolled their eyes at me, continued on with their conversation.

Olivia: You could sell the rings and buy your own piano.
Bella: Maybe I could buy two.
Olivia: Don't sell them at a yard sale, that would hurt mom's feelings.
Bella: Or I could WEAR them all at the same time.
Olivia: Too heavy.
Bella: But it would be beautiful.

Lord, help me!!!!!!
Why doesn’t anyone want my books?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

for Rebecca

The knife is an odd tool
so unlike the needle, sutured shut.
When my father opens the animal
there is no blood, the body is a war--
invaded it holds on to what it owns.
Now there's a river. If I stand on one foot
my shoe will be a map, if I close my eyes
I will not understand. My father claims
you must count as you go, the heart,
the liver, even the tongue
because the body lies quietly.
And if I tell you now
I am the girl and somehow
the animal, will you let me find my way?
Prints are easy to decipher.
It's the sum of what's been taken
which remains unclear.
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The Little Prince

“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.

“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down at a little distance from me—like that—in the grass, I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstanding. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day….”

Saturday, January 28, 2006



I woke up today with this word. A Teresa word—there are words that I recognize as being part of my map. I understand I see sentinels everywhere, places I must past that are guarded, if I know the right word I may enter. How much of my life is based on knowing what to say?

Today b/c of google I learnt there’s an ancient sentinel in Iraq which American soldiers are guarding so it is not destroyed—men dressed in guns, standing around a stone when so many people are dying. What is the right word?

Today I know that sentinel mapping is a way of entering a woman’s breast so that a doctor may clear cancer from the lymph nodes, that a map may be drawn so something which seems so intimate, so connected can be an island.

I am going to stop looking for the right way. I do not want to believe in paths anymore, or houses, or gateways. Things I can do to make my life, journey, love, book better. I do not want believe that the world is guarded, if I miss chance I will never be allowed in. I am taking away the guns---there are tulips in his hands. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Today I want to be a white violet or if I can’t be a violet, a glass of water and if I can’t be water, I’d rather be sleeping.

If one is talking about images, lasting images in art there has to be contrast. I was reading an article today about painting where the artist was stating that great art comes from composition. If you paint an orange on top of the bottle verses to the side, you get a very different feeling.

How do you enter the poem? In what angle do you see? If you're apply everything to painting, (and why the hell not) it matters where you put your orange. To me, a good poem can be read at any point and come back to its self. I can start in the middle, make the end the first verse and it still works.

I am queen at playing round robin with my book, which may be why I de bowel the damn manuscript more times then one would think possible. Because if you keep turning the painting or the mind’s eye, you are going to find the one place to enter no one has ever thought of before, and that my friends is art.
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Monday, January 23, 2006

Today everything was beautiful. I was trapped in a painting on 38th street while driving home. I looked in the window and watched a father comb his daughter’s hair, her hips swaying to some unknown beat. Her brother had on these giant green foam hulk hands, swaying them in the air. They were all speaking really fast in Spanish and I stood there forever, trapped in the beauty of it.

Sometimes the world hurts. Sometimes I watch people and they are so loving and kind to each other, I want to trap them in a jar---see this is what it looks like. To love, to be loved. It is so simple really.
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power of image

I find myself this morning thinking about the power of image in poetry. The things which last long after the poem ends, even years later when you cannot remember how it begins but somehow that image is still with you.

The last time I was home, my aunt told me I wrote a horrible poem which by the way, is a horrendous way to begin any conversation. She said that the poem I wrote about being a little girl in my father’s meat market, holding the bucket while he butchered the animals, always was with her. She said, every time she sees a steak, she is horrified.

Though it should be noted here, my Aunt Jan is a little wacked the fact is, opposing images have power. Marie Howe does this beautifully with a poem about her brother, how all his life he is afraid of losing his sight, how he points all the silver ware in the opposite direction, and you can see a little boy doing this, in your mind’s eye, you understand. Then there is this brilliant line “how it find us, the one thing we fear” and you are left with the image of a man in a doctor’s chair, having a needle placed in his eye.

I may not remember my name at 83 but I know I will always remember this line because that’s how powerful internal word is. It has the ability to build us up and place us in another body, to weave in and out of own similarities.

What are your images? What lines in poetry do you carry and what are the steaks you will not buy?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

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ring, ring....

If you want something literary go to Eduardo’s blog. He’s been posting great links lately, great places to submit. I’ve been following him around. If you are looking for something that has nothing to do with literature, keep reading.

I have a new phone. My old phone and I had an understanding. I treated it like crap and it still loved me. I washed it three times, once I caught it spinning around in the gentle cycle and saved it; another time it made it to the dryer. Last week I drove into my driveway and heard ringing UNDER the car. It was my phone—it found me. And of course because it has been loved well it cannot actually hold a charge for more than a few hours and as any good lover, dealing with charge and uncharged—I moved on.

My new phone and I, also have an understanding---its way too good for me. It can take my picture and simultaneously call itself. It has a mini computer which can down load my email. (I have no idea how to do this) and it can recognize my voice in a crowd. I don’t know about you, but something that can actually hear me in a crowd that A) I haven’t given birth to or B) slept with---scares the shit of me. Come to think of it, I slept with my X-husband and he still can’t hear me in a crowd!

I have no idea how to answer it. If I hide the phone in my purse it shuts itself off. I’m actually avoiding intimacy by placing it as far away from me as possible. I don’t trust myself. I am the washer, dryer girl. I know I cant live up to its expectations .

Saturday, January 21, 2006

What I am reading today

New and Collected by Wistawa Szymborska

Death? It comes in your sleep,
exactly as it should.

When it comes, you’ll be dreaming
that you don’t need to breathe;
that breathless silence is
the music of the dark
and it’s part of the rhythm
to vanish like a spark.

Friday, January 20, 2006

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God did teaching feel good today. After two weeks of not teaching kids I was ready to hunt them down in the grocery store. Do you want to draw with me little boy? (said in my evil deranged cookie voice.)

My ten hour day felt like an hour and a half. The thing about teaching a wide age range of kids is that sometimes you get the whole family, which is an incredibly cool thing. My classes at the community center go from preschool to junior high. I have students that can’t wait to turn three just so they can come and paint with me. Sadly, I think I'm one of the major toilet training rewards in South Minneapolis;)

Yesterday Alice turned three, yesterday Alice ran at me full force, threw her body against my knees and said, Weeza I’m here. Her sister Sarah, who is six and also my student told me, She’s been waiting her WHOLE life to do this.

What have you been waiting your whole life for?

My kids teach me how to love. Everyday they teach me how to create. Everything in my life is changing lately. Things are beginning and ending. I’m trying to work through all the legalities of custody with my girls. I’m trying to get all the financial crap that I didn’t deal with when I left my husband, out of the way. I’m trying to buy/sell a house. I am not good at any of these things. Okay, so I’m horrible.

But today I could teach. I could be in a room full of children and paint---
It was glorious.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I Am The One In Whose Mouth Is A Nest

And if you open your hands,
place them together as a cup, pour
your word like water into the hollow
of my own hand, which resemble more of a bowl.
If the shape of our want, forms the curve
rounded edge then darling, logic
is the spoon. Desire, a handle.

my world at the moment

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I lost a friend today. He died this morning of pancreatic cancer.
He saved my life once.

Dave Jackson was in charge of two classes in our high school, honors English and trackers. Trackers was a class for the high risk kids, the kids most likely to drop out or start fires, most did drugs. We called them “The Lost Track”. At 14 I belonged to both groups.

He was the man who fought my suspension when I called Homer an asshole and then my teacher an asshole for not listening to my argument. He was the teacher who had me moved to honors English, who had me tested out of high school at 16 so I could leave home. He was the one who talked to my dad, who convinced him to let me go to college instead of waiting in Maine “for the right man to marry.”

He gave me books and respected me. He read my poems.

Mr. Jackson, I am glad you got to see me be a mom, to see me roll down the window as a woman in the parking lot and say, somebody’s getting old. I’m glad you met my daughter. And I’m glad you always let me come back, when I thought I had no one to come back to, how you always open the door and let me in.

I grateful you were a good man--one to be trusted. A better teacher. You saved my life more than once. I will miss you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

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A Black Leather Sketch Book

I bought myself a beautiful sketch book today for my open studio class. It’s an amazing thing for me to think about not being the teacher, to just sit there and create my own world. When I was a teenager I use to pay my sister Carin a dollar to sit in the chair naked. I'd take out my pens and paper, draw her on the page. My sister is still convinced, that this concept of art is a little twisted, she tells this story as if, I should be arrested but I got into art school at 16 because of those drawings. Twisted I can live with. Art I cannot.

The manuscript to me is like putting together a human body, if I put one poem next to the other, they both look good. If I somehow mix up the elbow with the eyeball—well, the person is wacked. I’m always beginning on some page or another. I’m always offering a dollar to sit in the chair.

I know how to draw you, even though you are not here. I know every shape and shadow. You exist somewhere inside me like another room. Please be still, this will come naturally. I understand the page.

Monday, January 16, 2006


In Summer The Song Sings Itself

Yet in December the rivers grow quiet—
the trees lonely.

No one would notice the blue if not for emptiness.
Silence, a voice without letters.

If we took lessons from the lark we’d leave.
In our mouths we’d place the last feather, hold it in our teeth.

Memory has no room for winter, the whole season forgets.
Even you, my darling, do not remember.

If my name found the feather, if in your mouth
was a nest, we'd begin.

Question: in my manuscript I have the title in italics, b/c it is from William Carlos Williams, do I need to note it at the bottom of the page or can I just note it in my acknowledgements?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Blessed art thou, woman at the door,
empty bed. Ringless
finger, blue Mary.
May I call you virgin?
Sleeping wonder. Dark
hall. May I call you?

Light. May I alter. You
woman. Wrecked.
May I.

Did you ever think I’d give up____to write a decent poem ? I am having one of those evenings. I saw the movie Capote tonight and it was good. Lots of people are calling it brilliant. I was in love with Harper Lee through out the whole movie. I wanted to follow her around the theatre: please teach me how to write a good book. Please.

Unfortunately she did not follow me home. Sometimes I think, what was great about literature, has already been done. Someone told me today if I was going to be serious about this business, to stop pissing around. Be a serious writer.

I have no idea what that means.
I am sure it has something to do with Harper Lee.

happy sunday

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Charlie if you are going to tag me, you need to wake me first

Four jobs you’ve had in your life: JC Penny gift wrapper, stock boy, green house worker, intake worker for abused children.

Four movies you could watch over and over: Home for the Holidays, Boys on The Side, Peter Pan, Camille Claudel.

Four places you’ve lived: Haiti, Maine, Belgium, England.

Four TV shows you love to watch: 7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls and sadly that is about it. I watch both those things with my daughters. I don’t watch much t.v.

Four places you’ve been on vacation: Switzerland, Denmark, Mexico, Nova Scotia

Four websites you visit daily: radish king, dictionary. com, google and posey galore.

Four of your favorite foods: sushi, cheesecake, steamers and spinach

Four places you’d rather be: at a beach on the Atlantic ocean, Paris, Istanbul and Seal Island…this list could go on for about three miles.

Four (POEMS) you can’t live without: Anne Sexton’s Her Kind; Margot Schillip Manifesto; John Colburn’s Burning Up and everything by Paul Celan (don’t make me pick a poem)

Tag: Laurel, Lee and Ali

Friday, January 13, 2006

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I am beginning to realize that I am one of those people who can make an incredible amount of movement and not actually GO ANYWHERE—I do not consider it a gift.

My daughters love this story:

When Olivia was four she almost drowned. I was nursing Isabel behind one of those glass mirrors, during swim lessons. The instructor wanted the class of three and four years old to jump in the deep end of the pool. The teacher had them wear life jackets, go down the slide and my little girl did that just perfectly and without fear. Then while the instructor was getting out of the pool, my child unzipped her life jacket, climbed back up the stairs and went down alone.

No one saw her. She bobbled there for a minute then went under--there’s still a small crack in the mirror where I broke the glass. (My daughter’s favorite part: I had one bare breast pressed against the mirror, holding Bella, my fist banging.)

Olivia was pale, still...she did not breathe and then she did. I made them take her back into the water. I carried her to the instructor who had forgotten her and I said, you need to swim with her, you need to laugh and make it fun. Do not let her be afraid. The teacher denied me, grew frightened of me then did actually what I said.

Olivia loves to tell me this story. After she has won a ribbon or a metal from a swim meet she always tells me this tale on the way home. Isn’t it amazing mom, I have come this far?

I want you to tell me this when I old about these last few years. I want it to make sense some day, feel like I have gotten somewhere---all this movement has not been in vain. I am tired of treading water. I need to swim.

I am also tired of white walls.

why you are my bella...

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

I am very fragile today. Do you ever wish you could wear the orange tape that goes around boxes? I went to the grocery store and was memorized by the candle alters for sale. I want a Jesus with three bleeding hearts, a wing baby, or a woman with blue hair, open arms. But I have no energy to be forgiven and when the man asked me in Spanish what I needed I could not answer, when he asked me in English I still did not say a word.

My yellow tape is not still showing.

I still want to be a cancer

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): On behalf of Saturn, the Lord of Karma, I hereby invite you to take advantage of a very ripe opportunity to make substantial reductions in your debt—your karmic debt, that is, not your financial debt. (Though I have it on good authority that lowering your karmic IOU will have a ripple effect that will ultimately alleviate the struggles with money you might be suffering from.) But to return to the main point: This is one of the best times ever for fixing the mistakes you made in the past, atoning for the pain you have caused, and correcting the imbalances that resulted from your careless behavior.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

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Owls are nesting in trees. Their young are born before spring so that the little owlings can live off other bird’s hatchlings. For some reason, I find this strangely comforting, with the full moon and those little furry babies waiting for the birth of others to survive.

Tonight I need to read Owl Moon to my girls. I need to sit outside in the January cold and see if I can hear their wings in the distance. I miss camping and spring, the walks in the dark and the sun. I miss the sun. I always try to tell myself this is the month to work, to submit but I think my deeper self truly believes in hibernation.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It's time for 2006 Split Rock Preview which not only offers wonderful writing classes but painting and fiber arts as well. I am taking the poetry class with Tess Gallagher (I’m going to ask her if I can ride her horse.) I actually woke up the cat with my small shrieks when I realized she was teaching. There’s also another poetry class with Bob Hicok but I don’t think he has a horse….

Plus the good news is, if your not a stalker-- we can a have beer and a fire in my back yard because it's ten minutes from my house.

And if you’re Suzanne Frischkorn, you get a free, red-cross certified 12 year old babysitter to watch Emily and Jack and if you are NOT her, well I’m very sorry but we are picky about babies in our house.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Shhhhhh....I think I might be working

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Last night I dreamt
of an endless well by my feet
and I was at a podium like a preacher
with a book in my hand. People came
to ask me questions, permission to dive.
I kept waiting for the water, growing
impatient because the general populous
did not know what to ask, so I waited
told myself, if you were there, if you
joined the line, this whole tired business
of hearing the wrong thing, bitter
in my ear would be over.
Even when I awoke, checked
the clock three times I kept waiting
for your voice to ask me something
so I could sleep. Then I began to wonder
if the whole mirage was somehow tied
to your existence. You were gone
and my body, the conductor
picking up a sound wave
like a metal rod in the middle
of the desert began to shake.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

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Bedtime at the Ballard House

Some Satan worshipper gave Bella a watch as a late Christmas Present today…

Mom its 8:57….Mom it’s 8:59…Mom it’s 9:02…now it is 9:03

and I think the damn thing is water proof so I can’t even wash it by mistake.
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Perhaps my life is nothing but an image of this kind; perhaps I am doomed to retrace my steps under the illusion that I am exploring, doomed to try and learn what I should simply recognize, learning a mere fraction of what I have forgotten.

I myself shall continue living in my glass house where you can always see who comes to call, where everything hanging from the ceiling and on the walls stays where it is as if by magic, where I sleep nights in a glass bed, under glass sheets, where who I am will sooner or later appear etched by a diamond- Andre Breton, Nadja

There was a time when I would have claimed this as my own. I recognize myself, wave to her, as if she is across the room but I no longer have a need to live in glass. No longer consider it that fragile—my ability.

Today oak is a good way to begin. I am ready for the uneven language of trees, the bare floor. I am ready for my wood house, my fire, the orchard and the clutter of children. I am ready in a way I have never been before. It is exciting to be solid and yes, terrifying.

Today: An interesting article in Poetry about Women’s Poetry, it very definition, existence, survival. I will write more when I know more.

Alice Munro’s new book Runaway. The first story made me cry and question—that’s always a good sign.

There are ten white tulips by my bed. A cup of rose tea which comes in a clear packet with rose petals, plum blossoms, sugar cubes. It is Chinese. I cannot tell you where to buy it b/c you do not live here. You just point and smile, the older woman who sells it, will also point and smile. You don’t speak the same language but you both understand.

This is the year where I have said your name three times---

I no longer live in a glass house.

Friday, January 06, 2006


LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Recently someone asked me, "What do you look for in an ally, Rob?" Here's what I said: "I favor people who take responsibility for their unripe qualities and don't spew their undigested angst on me when they're feeling low." I think this approach should become a priority for you, Leo. In 2006, you will have striking opportunities to upgrade your relationship to relationships. One of the best ways to do that is to give special preference to connections with emotionally intelligent people who work hard to transmute their own darkness.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Note to self: do not play red rover with girl power class after you’ve eaten lunch b/c you are almost forty (38) and when you run really fast it makes you want to puke. Okay, when you ran really fast at twelve, it did the same thing but it sounds better now.

I am hopefully going out with the dancing blogger boy tonight. You know who he is. I don’t know whether to wear my new cute plaid skirt with black leather boots or my new purple velvet pants. Yes, velvet. My preschoolers are going to go wild when I wear them to teach. I know it’s wrong to wear your dancing clothes to work but I can’t help myself.

So if you are in Minneapolis tonight, if you see some wild poets (one wearing black boots, another wearing a hard hat) well say hello and join the party.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

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girl power

I have been teaching girl empowerment workshops all day. Sometimes I really think I should be paying them and not the other way around. I mean, I get to sit in a room with twelve girls and discuss all the great things about being a girl, about personal truth, private space and every topic is a big post it note in my head: Trust yourself Teresa

Today I played the girls a Dar Williams Song, I was a boy and the song Popularfrom the Wicked C.D. Both are brilliant songs. We discussed what the word strength means, how some people call girl strength “boyish.” When truly each being has their own inner power and it has absolutely nothing to with gender.

Did you know the highest point of self esteem in a woman is statistically nine years old? How incredibly sad? So I am marking these girls in the desert. I am saying wow, you are right you are amazing. Set the stone here. Paint here. Learn to write so you can remember and don’t give away your little post it note so easily.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Random Excuses from Ballard

To the clerk at Barnes and Noble: I’m sorry I snorted when you did not know who Anton Chekhov was and gulped sweet jesus when you asked me, what orchard?

I was not trying to be rude but I kept waiting for the big hand with the hook to come down from the ceiling and pull you off the stage.

And to my poor dear X-sister-in-law who keeps making oily crosses on my nephew’s door b/c he is a wonderful gay man who sometimes forgets, to shut the window of porn on his laptop while home on winter break.

I’m sorry that I tried to explain this to you. I am sorry I said “sex” out loud seventeen times. I am sorry I used boy and sex in combination with other verbs. You may make a cross on my head.
Last night I dreamt you kept telling me to place my head in the lion’s mouth like a circus act. Trust me, you said, go slow and my cheek was touching the sandpaper of his tongue and I could not see you, only hear your voice.