Saturday, February 25, 2006

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My great Aunt Ethel is a 102 this month. She lives at home, she still remembers me. When I was little and my other great aunt was checking behind my ears, she was always asking me what was on my mind. She married once when she was twenty and he died a few years later. I don't how or why, I don’t even know his name. All my life she lived alone, traveled the world alone, brought me back crumpled money in an envelope.

I thought she was the bravest woman alive—not only could she put my grandfather in his place but she could ride a camel in Egypt. I come from strong stock, my father would tell me. You come from ocean women, you could live forever. Sometimes this is not a comfort. Sometimes I feel, I need a longer time to hear the lesson.

The human brain is an interesting landscape. My aunt can read anything; she will not know who you are, then if you give her a slip of paper, she will ask about your children, your divorce. She will asked about the weather in Minnesota, b/c that little slip of paper with your name, clicks something on which can not be turned on any other way.

Today I want to write TERESA---only my first name b/c my last name always confuses me. I have been given a few and I have chosen one--maybe I will write down all my names.

I want to sit in that space, next to someone who has lived, survived alone. I want to write it all down on piece of paper, all the questions I have. I want to listen, hold her hand—wait for her to speak.

Friday, February 24, 2006

I have not been writing. I feel incredibly open and vulnerable lately, almost as if have grown new skin. I am thinking of the birds again. How my teacher would show us to be still, with the seed out stretched in our hand, and if you could do this, hold yourself, they would come, their feathers brushing against your palm.

I always thought I was at good at it, even in the moment when they land, when you are filled with so much joy; you need to be quiet and not let that reaction of pulling back over take you.

Somehow I have become a flincher. I have grown from that girl to a woman who is scared at times when she is still, even when she knows what is offered to her is beautiful, expects nothing more than a place to land, in that initial landing I have no room to put my fear.

And maybe if I had always been a flincher this would not hurt so deeply, to be left with the seeds and the open hand. Yet I remember who I am. I know how to be quiet, to let myself be safe for another.

Birds remember, so if they are afraid, they land differently, waiting to escape. I keep telling myself, it is my new skin. A woman holds a bird differently than a child. She has more to loose if they do not want her, prepares for emptiness when they fly away. Fear is a reaction, it is not solid like love which requires no movement.

It is a slow task; I am teaching the woman the art of stillness---please do not fly away.
Time and Again

TIme and again, however well we know the landscape of love,
and the little church-yard with lamenting names,
and the frightfully silent ravine wherein all the others
end: time and again we go out two together,
under the old trees, lie down again and again
between the flowers, face to face with the sky.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, February 20, 2006


Sometimes a crumb falls
From the tables of joy,
Sometimes a bone
Is flung.
To some people
Love is given,
To others
Only heaven.

Langston Hughes

Sunday, February 19, 2006

when pigs fly

Without an MFA or a published collection of poetry can I just pray that who ever is reading my National Endowment application has been drinking heavily?????
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Saturday, February 18, 2006

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I’m in my second week of my figure drawing class, unfortunately I have misplaced the cord to my camera or I would show the results—sad as they are. I am not teaching the class, and being in an art class I’m not teaching is an odd experience for me, a good one but an odd one.

Question of the day: yesterday during preschool art, one I do indeed teach and do not just attend; Elliott said, I have a question for you Teresa, and then proceeded to ask, “Do you wear boxers or briefs?” It was one of the most delightful things anyone has asked me in ages.

Yesterday I got an email from Illya saying he has finished my book and he was either wonderfully kind or lied a lot. It made my day, week, month, year. He is such a brilliant writer… I must dutifully and once again go through the notes he has given me, Carolyn’s notes, Ballard’s notes.

Today when I drew this woman’s foot for forty minutes, I thought—this is useless, trying to make the perfect arch, to draw the light of the ankle, it is useless to begin again and again on blank sheet of paper. It is essential.

It is essential to understand something that needs no explanation---the manuscript is essential to me. It is my ankle on the page.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

by any other name I would still know you....

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Valentine Rehabilitation

I’m in a Valentine rehabilitation program. I have in the past hated this holiday, even when I was married, even when I was in love, my body spurns the traditional. I want to wear black and empty all the glitter shoe boxes –I know I need help.

Today I want to tell you that rose water is an antiseptic, it will cleanse the body of infection and if poured on an open wound it will hurt like hell. It other cultures, the bride is bathed in rose water for purity before her wedding night and rose quartz is one of the rarest of all stones. It is something I carry in my pocket until the day I am ready to give it away. Someday I think I might be; we will see how the rehabilitation goes.

Rose hip tea is good for blood sugar, and if you want your roses to bloom again you must cut them right below the bud line—at a slant. I have roses from my grandmother. I have roses that only grow by the sea but somehow they have forgiven me for planting them here.

I am putting rose water on my wrists today. I am forgiving myself for what I cannot control and letting go of what I need to. I hope you are doing the same.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Antilamentation by Dorianne Laux

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don't regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don't bother remembering
any of it. Let's stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

Reading Laux’s poem this morning in my email box, I thought of the questions I asked Dorianne and Joe when they were here two summers ago, question which seemed all wrong at the time: Tell me how you live with a poet? Tell me how you live with yourself as a poet?

I need to get on the bandwagon and start asking writers about rhythm and rhyme. I need to stop asking the universal questions on how to live. Somehow I'm sure that's not going to happen.

And for those of you who have a good narrative poem to send out—click here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Happy 8th Birthday Bella

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this is an audio post - click to play


I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling finger-tips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There’s a time when I step away from poetry b/c the world is so busy and then something brings me in, and it’s like being away from home for a very long time, then opening the door.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

It was an amazing thing watching kids invent things today with pieces of string, some tin foil and building blocks. What is it? It is a water tower. It is a solar powered lawn mower.

Quin made me a watch. He said I should wear it when I want to look like one of those fancy people; put it on now he said, I think you need to be fancy. I do. I so need to be fancy and have a magic watch that runs by tin foil power.

Tomorrow, my friends and x-relatives are coming over to the house I use to live in when I was married. The two-hundred and forty year old Victorian Turret house that I love and have watched decay over the last three years; they are coming over b/c I am trying to get a loan to buy the other half of house that isn’t mine so the girls and I can move in. When I left I wanted my mental health and my children. Now I want more. I want my cherry tree, flowers, my grandmother’s roses and the lake across the street.

I am no longer a jumper…or I am now in truth, a recovering jumper. I want to be the kind of girl who looks where she is going. This time I will mark my way and make sure my steps are clear so where I am headed is really the place I want to go.

I have a watch---there is no way to be late.

come build with me

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Sound of a thousand hammers....

Well if you hear the sound of a thousand hammers I will be the director today of “Kids Invent” sponsored by National Association of Women Builders. This means of course, there will be at least two hundred kids in a room, saws swinging, minds buzzing and to me, my friends this is heaven.

I love how they give them a bag of wood and a piece of tin foil and tell them invent an underwater breathing tank. This gets me more buzzed in creativity than any writing workshop—it is good Mojoe and I could use some. So you all go back to snuggling with your books and I’m going to go ride a bike with a saw attached…

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

yep that means I should move

Leo: You may not realize how significant a role that architecture plays in shaping your moods, ideas, and decisions. I'm here to remind you that it does. The quality of the indoor space you regularly inhabit deeply influences what goes on inside your mind and body. It's not just the structure of the buildings I'm talking about, of course, but also the decor, the furniture, the carpets, and the colors. In 2006, it will be important for you to become more aware of this fact, and to be aggressive about putting yourself into environments that bring out the best in you. As a gift to yourself, spend some time inside the most uplifting building you know.