Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The blog will be quiet for the next few days. I’m off tomorrow morning at 6 am to ride an airplane; I’d be nervous but now I know Loudon checks them over for me.

Be well.
The new issue of Mid-American Review is up and it celebrates a number of firsts for me: I’ve never been in a journal consecutively, never more than twice and I’ve never been so happy with a poem. Besides now I get to say James Wright with my name and that’s always a good thing.

I am writing. I shouldn’t jinx it by saying it out loud but hell I’m surrounded by boxes, grief, two children who are not reacting well to change and I am writing. It is similar to how did the chicken cross the road; how did Teresa Ballard survive this time in her life? She made a book-- it is the only way I know to get to the other side.

Both girls are doing Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream this summer, it was the price of a writing trip but I figure when they are old, after mommy has written a number of bad books they can support me. Besides I get to see them as fairies.

The prose book is 5/8 of the way done. Fractions are a big thing in my house at the moment. Olivia considers them fun—I think she might have been switched at birth.

If the rib was a boat, a hollow curve unfilled, if emptiness
was a seat, a wooden plank; would you let me on board with my paddle, my compass without needles, say to me row, as if you understood direction, your voice lifting above lilies, tendrils of plankton till you were done, satisfied where we had drifted.

Darling in this place so far from land where we cannot see shadow, do you understand how voices carry? I have heard you in the ship of others, the small songs and dirges. I have watched you offer no direction. I have lied and you have listened. But here is the seat of emptiness; it has no nails or hinges, if in the hollow curve we curl together, nothing is lost—we become air to each other.

Monday, March 27, 2006

W.S. Merwin


I am looking at trees
they may be one of the things I will miss
most from the earth
though many of the ones I have seen
already I cannot remember
and though I seldom embrace the ones I see
and have never been able to speak
with one
I listen to them tenderly
their names have never touched them
they have stood round my sleep
and when it was forbidden to climb them
they have carried me in their branches Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Nothing but the facts….

Today is the celebration of Olivia’s birthday and I have a seven foot blow up monkey sitting in my living room. I love that she is still a kid with goodie bags, monkey tattoos and tie dye beach balls. I am happy she still wants a “kid’s birthday.” My days are numbered.

Olivia and I went to the theatre this week to see Espranza Rising. There’s a part of the play where she lays her body on the ground to hear the heart of the earth, to know where she is. Espranza is taken from her home and everything she knows to begin again; “remember this” I said to my daughter, “remember you can begin anywhere.”

Truth is an amazing creature. Sometimes it clings like a beast to our ankles and we fear people finding out the truth or we fear our own deepest need. Things we have known forever but refuse to admit, and sometimes it feels like light traveling through a window; if you did not look up, you would not notice, you would not see.

Remember you can begin anywhere. I have not been truthful with myself over the last year. I have not been truthful about who I love, and I have not loved myself well. I was trapped in my own fear, of changing, of putting down the people I felt responsible for, my need to carry. I am done--begin, begin anywhere.

And the wonderful, horrible thing is my truth does not need to be yours. It is free to travel.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Happy 12th Birthday Miss Olivia Grace---you are amazing. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Isabel’s teacher told the class that they weren’t to come to school if they were sick thus keeping the germs at a minimum, as a teacher I understand this but as a mother of a drama queen it has been two weeks of various illnesses. Tonight in the bath tub was the best--- Mama, I can’t go to school tomorrow because I was stung by a bee.

Please note the four feet of snow.
When my I was in Maine this last visit my grandfather gave me a photo of my grandmother, it was faded and yellow from sitting in their window for over thirty years. In the picture my grandmother is in Egypt riding a camel. As a child I would carry this photo with me to bed, b/c it was a CAMEL and my grandmother. We had no zoos in Maine just cows ;) I believed my grandmother was the bravest person alive for this one act and I remember telling her so. I also remember her telling me, how frighten she was, how high up it was, the man dropping the rope, hitting the camel’s ass and leaving her on her own. She didn’t get anywhere fast, she didn’t know what she was doing.

My grandmother was my age when her 8 year old was hit by a car and killed. She was also pregnant at the time and trauma caused her to loose her other baby daughter. When I grew, I always wanted to talk to her about these events b/c they were tragic, somehow a part of my history and I loved stories. I remember asking her about how she could live, why she just didn’t wither and die; she told me air continued to go into her lungs, air continued to leave---you breathe.

I understand. Truth: I love well and I don’t. I am a woman with things I can’t change and things I can. I was/am broken, I jumped, I shattered. I made different choices and I tried to start again. Another fact: I am a thirty-eight year old woman with two children and I’m a gay writer. I haven’t turned into anything anyone expected me to be—I am continuing to change. I don’t fit in a box but I can be labeled. But it is not all of who I am.

When I left my husband, told my family everything; my grandfather said, but you were her favorite. I understand. I have come too far to be afraid, too stay little. I have come too far to be defined. I have a nest of my own making. I am done hiding. I am done letting others determine my own truth.

Now I can begin.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I understand that when you move you should not buy things. I also understand, a photo taken by M does not show off the total possibility of the boots, that the boots themselves are a much, much deeper purple. Plus they are suede so they feel good. I also understand at 38, I should not, maybe be buying boots my children covet, then tell me NOT to wear to school to pick them up.

But one should note, at my book signing I’m wearing the damn boots. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 19, 2006

my beautiful new/old house

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There are some people you cannot put in boxes: Celan, Rukeyser, Sexton; if I put them in boxes I might not hear them. If I put them in boxes they might say something I've missed so I am left packing the people I do not know, people I have not listened to, people I feel guilty about owning but not opening---these are the writers I move.

It is possible I can spend the next ten months inside my new/old house and barely catch up with everything. It’s possible I could take the money I have, move to Costa Rica with my daughters and never be heard from again. Anything is possible.

My best friend told me this week you are finding yourself, you are not suppose to know anything. No darling, I’ve been here all along—this is exactly what I know. I am the same person, my shell has extended but I am the same. Why is it, when you are open to the best and worst of who you are, people claim you are finding yourself? I was never lost.

This is your worst fear and I don’t know how to stop questioning, I can’t stop questioning and I don’t know how to be satisfied but I do think that is different from not knowing how to be loved. I was never lost. I am a lifter of stones---you hold them in them your mouth.

I am her.

Whichever stone you lift--
you lay bare those who need the protection of stones.
It’s not a matter of light 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.

Isabel for President…

this is an audio post - click to play

Teresa's battle with the molded C-Cup

I am buying a new swimsuit. I’m a Speedo lap girl and it should be noted here, I don’t mean that at all sexually. I have spent days looking for a swimsuit, my old one has holes in the belly from where I slid down the water slide illegally.

The reason it has taken so long to buy this one item, b/c now they are putting things in my perfect swimsuit, like aquatic molded bras, soft cups and seamless entries. What the hell. I have spent three days on line at every swim store on the internet (besides we all know, there are no seamless entries;)

First of all, I like my unmolded breasts, thank you very much! And please tell me why they don’t build little plastic penis holders into male bathing suits??? Because there would be A REVOLT, that’s why. All the speedo men would stand up (I mean that literally) and say, how the fluck are we suppose to swim in this? Ever try doing laps in a molded cup? Think floatation, think physics.

Besides I’ve been a woman for 38 years and I have NO idea what aquatic molding is or even a shelf bra. Now, if they would just simply say, this suit will cover your ass and occasionally show your nipples—I’d be all over it.

Till then people I’m swimmin’ naked! You've been warned.

Friday, March 17, 2006

What's really good about the word 'art' is that 'art' is a word
like 'love,' or 'god,' or whatever. It transcends so many things.
::: Tracey Emin :::

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I miss myself. I miss the self I am, when I’m with you.

I am re-reading Charles Simic’s “The World Doesn’t End.” I have about fifty books on my bookshelf I haven’t read. I have some books, people would pay me to read, and write a review about but no, I’m reading Simic b/c he is calm and beautiful. I bet he is not in the process of moving. I bet he doesn’t wear purple suede boots, though one never knows. I want to think of him, washing vegetables in his sink, writing a poem by an open window. Charles makes me calm. I’m taking him to bed.

I have a couple readings coming up. I have a couple of grants due. I think Carolyn is getting back to me about the book this week but it’s feeling almost done again. I am half way done the manuscript I am working on of short stories. I am a third of the way done the prose poem manuscript. I need more life or less life and more windows and vegetables. I need you.

Last night I dreamt I was on the TV show 7th Heaven (it is like a modern day Walton’s) and Lucy sat me down in her Minster chair and told me everything was going to be alright, I didn’t need to worry about anything. I never dream I’m on TV shows—this definitely means I am not reading enough.

I want everything to be alright. I’m not sure I know exactly what that means. When I was a grief counselor I told people all the time they got to feel what they felt, not to rush themselves. When Evan’s dad was killed in a car crash, years later after I stopped grief counseling, when he came to my art class and told me all the ants in my room didn’t have daddies, I spent hours finding each one, building them a city out of plexiglass. I told him they were safe and each class we would watch them grow and build, make tunnels in the sand.

I know where all the ants live.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The writing gods are taking care of me. Maybe because I say every day, I miss you—I miss who I am with you and I do. Yesterday, I received this email about being part of a writing project about feminism. Each writer gets to pick a photo and write about what feminism means to them, which is basically a fancy way to say what does it mean to be a woman? It is goes into this really cool anthology and website.

I realized after I said yes, that I have absolutely NO idea what it means to be a feminist-- then I started writing about 15 different things in my head. Isn’t it exciting Liz said, at the absolute scariest time of your life, when you are learning to do everything on your own, someone asks you this question?

Sometimes I want to kick Liz very hard.
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LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): What's the best way to defeat a dragon? Some fairy tales propose the use of brute force, while others suggest that the protection of a magical amulet is preferable. Still other myths say the optimum strategy is to use stealth to avoid the dragon completely, though that usually means living in constant fear of the beast. From what I can tell, Leo, your future happiness will be best served if you use none of the above, but instead employ one of the two little-known methods of dragon-taming: either ask it sly riddles to confuse it or else pacify it through the entertaining power of your songs and dances.

Monday, March 13, 2006

First you begin with the body, the memory of the body,
you unfold it like paper, the crease
between thumb and finger, you say
here is her arm, leg. You open your mouth,
the nest where you have placed your tongue.
Remember, it is impossible to remember
without reflection so you go to the water.
Here is the water. You take her
eyes beneath glass, beneath mirrors—
chrysanthemums under sky, underwater.

our wonderful spring morning

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I haven't even hit "Ballard's secret stash"

Okay here are words you never thought you’d hear me say but I am selling my books and considering I have a bigger selection of poetry than both Twin Cities Barnes and Noble combined---good news for you, bad news for me. It has taken me a bit but I have figured out there are things I want more than books. I know, you never thought you’d hear me say that either.

Anyway I have a collection of New Yorkers that are the same weight as a three year old child—anyone who wants some of these or the whole baby can email me and then they only have to pay media rate. I only read the three poems most of the time then I moved on, so the fiction and cartoon sections are virginal.

Books are five dollar each and this includes postage: I have one collection of Leaves of Grass. I have all Anis Nin, Behind the Mountain by Edwidge Danticat, and Stop Walking on Eggshells by Mason (it is a therapy book about dealing with people with personality disorders.) Introduction to the Cabala, The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, several issues of the Comstock Review, Poetry, Frommers Guide to Jamaica, Dream Me Home Safely a collection about writers growing up in America and Girl Saints by some guy I cant find right now, who should not have been writing about girl saints. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, South of Reason by Cindy Epper. Hardcover, That Old Ace in The Hole by Annie Proulx.

This list will grow. Check back. I have eight boxes packed. I am making my way home.

Addendum: I sold the first edition Leaves of Grass. Currently, I am selling an eight yr old who will not take a bath or brush her teeth. Photo posted above—she does not actually shovel snow, she moves it around then wants money.
I am up early. Last night there was 6 inches of snow, lightening then fog. It was one of those nights where you thought the end of the world may be coming but it was just a storm. Now everything is white, everything is covered.

The girls are knit together in the same bed---they look like a Renoir painting with their hair falling over the pillow, the flowers on their pajamas blooming on their fair skin. It is simple really, when you look at your children sleeping, the whole world is simple.

Olivia has a new boyfriend who gives her rocks. She had another boyfriend two weeks ago, her first. She asked me what it meant, to be someone’s girlfriend, nothing felt different inside her, she said. The only difference seemed to be on the outside, she would walk down the hall and people would say, “there’s Brett’s girl.”

I resisted the feminist urge to claim she belonged to no one but herself. I resisted the urge to rise up b/c sometimes when you do that, with your children there is no room for them to stand. Pay attention to how it feels, know yourself when are with each person and note the difference These are things I tell her, be aware of who you are.

I love to watch her practice. I love to watch my daughters practice the art of living. I tell my child empowerment groups all the time, everyone teaches you how to tie your shoe but few people let you learn how to love. We are all learning. It is the art of practice.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

By the waters of Buda
Uncomb and unlock then,
Abandon and nevermore cherish
Queer lips, queer heart, hands.
There to futurity leave
The luckier lover who’s waiting,
As, like a spring coiled up,
In the bones of Adam, lay Eve.

~Lawerence Durrel: Cities, Plains and People

Lisa said tonight that the most dangerous thing is to ask the universe how to love, to open yourself up to that teaching: Teresa find the moment that is most solid in your day, find the least, embrace one, let go of the other. It is like the game I play with the girls, best and worst.

In my religion (that I am making up b/c of my horoscope) people question openly, each other, themselves. They find the strangest things holy: rocks, shells, the way light moves over a wall and how the people in the car traveling down the street, have no idea, no awareness that they are causing the light to move—for you to catch your breath; for you to claim this, the most solid moment of your day.

In my religion you can lay down the people you have carried, the things you believed you deserved, and your expectations for what is to come, because you don’t have to always be prepared, stretch your neck to see around the corner.

Here you understand sometimes what is needed comes like light. It exists whether you are in the room or not. Your only job is to be still, to open your eyes.

In the bones of Adam, lay Eve not b/c of gender, god or any of that mixed up crap people have fed each other for so long, but because simply, sometimes there are two who begin.
Favorite part of a cover letter that I've read tonight (yes I am actually doing submissions)

I am a mother of three and wife of one.

The poems would have been far more interesting if she was wife of six;)

what makes me a poetry god

I just bought 13 brand new books for under $30.00.
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by ballard

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Yesterday I felt incredibly lucky that the model in figure class was male—I didn’t have to think. There is something about entering the body of the unfamiliar, of finding yourself there and putting it on paper. He also kept his eyes closed, he wasn’t comfortable. He wasn’t like the woman who sat for me last week who knew exactly who she was, who stared at me unflinching. Granted that type of model is easy, produces stronger work but yesterday I needed someone else. I needed to write in my head while I painted. It is not always like that.

My manuscript is off to Ireland this week. Carolyn Forche is taking it with her on a trip, the newest version. I expect ten pages of syntax. Somehow I see this as lucky, a part of me is going off to Ireland. List the places the book has been, the book that really isn’t a book: Russia, California, Arizona, Washington D.C., Delaware, and now Ireland. Not to mention the drafts which have hidden in my car, piano and under Bella’s bed b/c she needed drawing paper. It seems the book, which doesn’t have a home (publisher) seems to be a lot like me---she travels. She makes her home in the space allotted, continues on.

I know I should find this lucky. I do not yet, though I acknowledge that there may be a strength in it I don’t understand.

I am lucky to be up before the children, to have that feeling I may write again. After all the craziest has settled, the house, these things I have not dealt with, I will still be a writer. Liz says there’s wisdom in knowing your self as an artist, to know the strength of your work isn’t about timing or windows, winning awards. It is a foundation, you return to, a place to always build upon but I still believe-- there’s a bit of luck is involved.

Friday, March 10, 2006

house closing

I thought I would be in the circle drinking pink champagne but instead I was downstairs in the turret weeping for things I could not name.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Have you ever done the same thing twice? I mean not driven down the same street or kissed the same guy but something much larger. Tomorrow I am buying the same house twice. The first time I was 23, newly engaged. I remember not wanting my name on the mortgage because I had traveled the world, lived in Haiti. I remember not wanting to be tied down, to own anything.

Yet I loved this house. I found it one night driving alone, an old Victorian with a turret, three stories—too much house my mother would say. When I was a child, I pointed to old spooky mansions, told my friends, I lived there. I finally found my home. I never thought I would love anywhere so much. I never have.

My babies were born there. I have one crab apple, 5 rose bushes, three lilacs and a cherry tree. I had a Japanese maple but she didn’t survive my absence. I hid Easter eggs in her corners and found horse hair in her towers. My daughters played Rapunsel and I played Jane Eyre. It was the place where I found my greatest hurt, where I was the closest to giving up. It is also the place where I brought my greatest love, where I stood in the circle and felt whole.

It is the home I left with my girls, four year ago. I left to be free of something that I couldn't understand--it followed me. I have watched the house fall apart and be neglected. I have mourned her, my house. I have let go.

And like some things do, sometimes if they are great loves, when you let go—they return. They return stronger, deeper and in some ways more entact. I have had this happen. I have loved twice. Now I need to mark it---I need you to understand. It is not the same but now finally, I am ready to sign my name.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): This would be an excellent time for you to create your own personal religion, complete with rituals, prayers, and divinities that fit your precise needs. Feel free to borrow extensively from various spiritual traditions, of course, but make sure you give each belief or practice your own unique twist. And please include a few idiosyncratic touches that have never before been a part of any organized faith, like a holy day commemorating your first sexual experience or a sacred object obtained from a toy store or pawn shop or a rousing hymn adopted from an old Nirvana song.

now I want to be Bella

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My blogging days are numbered. I close on the house this Friday and then begin the process of moving the girls and I in there before March 5th. Hold your breathe that everything goes well. I decided today I am tired of emotional growth. I just want to be babied and fed. Grown up life sucks!!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

58 days till May Day

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The wonderful thing about teaching at the invention studio is that, the other teachers (all boys) think I’m actually doing them a favor by going to Ikea to pick up clocks for supplies. Oh those fools!!!

In the mail yesterday DIGERATI which was beautiful and so well made I want more. So far Peter Pereira’s poem Butterfly Bush was worth the price of admission but I have a weak spot for the word buddleia—I may have a slight bias. Look for work by Corral, Guest, Roripaugh, Robinson, Abramson and that Ballard girl.

It might even get me back into reading anthologies b/c it is set up in a way that the voices flow nicely together which is my main beef with most of them. It’s almost like hearing finger nails on the chalkboard---the new contemporize Russian poet collection was like that—I almost cried.

I am a girl who is bothered by font and order. Odd, I know.
So I am off to Ikea, where there is order and no books to confuse me.

Monday, March 06, 2006

good morning and look mom I'm getting published...

and here I am.

and herewith a seriously big head;)

aren't you glad they dont put photos in print journals

Saturday, March 04, 2006

In 1958, when Publisher Rene Julliard saw the first verses in Minou's childish scrawl, he thought he had found a literary prodigy even greater than his last discovery. Minou Drouet appeared in Time as one of the greatest literary finds of our century. In the years that followed she was considered a fraud, because the person who wrote this amazing book of poetry (that I found in my used bookstore) was only eight years old.

I could write hundreds of paragraphs about how we view children in our society. How it is impossible now, for people like Beethoven to exist because we tell kids all time, the definition of art. We expose them to limitations. The highest point of creativity is five years old—when we return to that place, without judgment, we are truly free to explore.

Tree that I Love by Minou Drouet

Tree that I love,
tree in my likeness,
so heavy with music
under the wind’s fingers
that turn your pages
like a fairy tale,
knowing like me
the voices of silence
that sways
the depth of your green locks
the quiver of your living hands
that I love
my all alone
lost like me
lost in the sky
lost in the mud
lacquered in the dancing light
by the rain
echo of wind’s grief
and birds’ joy
tree undressed by winter
for the first time I watch you.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Saturday was my magic day. I went into Bookhouse in Dinkytown which honestly is the GREATEST USED BOOKSTORE IN THE WHOLE WORLD and I found two of the best books of poetry I have bought it maybe six years (and I buy a hell of a lot of poetry.) And I am not just saying this b/c one is French and out of print but b/c honestly, the books are beautiful. Tomorrow if I can pull myself away I will post something from Drouet but for now I leave you with Adam by Lawrence Durrell.

I have nibbled the mystical fruit. Cover me.
Lest the prophetic fish follow and swallow me.
I dare not treat among the lilies
Though lambswool cover my footfall,
Though the adder call, the Word walk,
In the orchard voice follow, hands hallow me.

Thy will be done as it was in Eden.
We were a long time—I am afaird—
Naked among the silver fish and shadows,
A long time and in silence naked. Only
the foundations falling, the hornet’s drum
Calling, sunny and drunk with dew.

I am Adam, of singular manufacture,
A little clay, water, and prophetic breath;
On the waters of chaos a lamp of red clay.
The Word owns me. I have no armament
Only my fear of the walking Thing.

The rib follows me everywhere: and everywhere
A shadow follows the rib. Eve,
I am afaird. The Host walks and talks
In the baobab shade: the unknowable Thing
Is crossing the paths: the breath, woman,
Is on us: a white light: O cover me
From the unthinkable razor of thought
Whose whisper hangs over me.

Eve, we are in this thing to the very end,
You, your shadow, and shadowless Adam, I.
O rib and morsel of anguish, bone of contention,
After the thing has shone and gone,
After it enters the terrible wood,
We will win through, perhaps: cover us deep
Beyond clue with the leaves of the wood:
Be silent until in passes: and kiss me, kiss me.
Ah! but the apple, the apple was good!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): "Human beings are often unable to receive because we do not know what to ask for," writes Malidoma Some in his book Of Water and the Spirit. "We sometimes can't get what we need because we do not know what we want." Your task in the coming week, Leo, is to make sure you don't fit his description. How? Devote yourself to the glorious quest of decoding your most fundamental riddle: What is it you want more than anything else? Once you know, take a pledge to put that desire at the center of your life.

I want my girls to grow up to be strong women. I would like to fall in love with someone who is amazing and stays amazing the whole time I love them. I want a house full of books. I want to write a house full of books. I want my garden back. I want lilacs. I want kindness. Laughter. I want my girls to trust easily, not enable anyone. I want less anger, rage. I want walks, rain and sometimes I want another child. I want art. I want to keep teaching children to be creative, receptive to this power. I want to be paid more for it. I want big grants. More holiness. I want an editor. I want a life of mango pancakes. I want to turn forty in Italy. Always have this love with my eyes open. I want to sleep under the stars more this summer than I ever have before. I want my daughters to see a whale. I want to return to Seal Island. I want to fly more. I want to keep painting. I want this move to go easily. I want a flat place to build. I want to find shells. Sit by the water till I understand. I want to meet Lucille Clifton. I want to write one poem as well as Paul Celan. I want to write one book I am completely happy with. I want you in the back yard. I want some of my innocence back. I want to be okay with this want I wear around my neck.