Monday, December 31, 2007

Shrike by Henri Cole

How brightly you whistle, pushing the long soft

feathers on your rump down across the branch,

like the apron of a butcher, as you impale a cricket

on a meat hook deep inside my rhododendron.

Poor cricket can hardly stand the whistling,

not to speak of the brownish-red pecking

(couldn’t you go a little easy?), but holds up

pretty good in a state of oneiric pain.

Once, long ago, when they were quarrelling about money,

Father put Mother’s head in the oven.

“Who are you?” it pleaded from the hell mouth.

Upstairs in the bathroom, I drank water right out of the tap,

my lips on the faucet. Everything was shaking and bumping.

Earth was drawing me into existence.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

E is trying to teach me social etiquette. For example if someone asks me how I am, one is supposed to return the question. I’m horrid at this---usually I don’t want to be asked the question in the first place so to actually prolong the encounter is painful. Yet even if I find the question intriguing, I don't volley back, I figure if they wanted to tell me their point of view, they’d tell me.

I’m not a good asker but I am trying, to be a better listener...

Another thing E is teaching me is to return things. I’m a horrible returner, which kinda goes with the whole talking thing if you really think about it. If I buy something or receive something I don’t like I just keep it in the original box—gift wrap and all and put it on the upper shelf of my closet, until the boxes fall on me and then I take it to goodwill or I move it to a deeper place in the closet until I can’t shut my closet door.

Today E said that if I returned _______, I could take the money and buy books---this worked like crack cocaine. I never KNEW this was an option. Now I even might start returning the stuff I like.

Books I bought today:

October by Louise Gluck (for two bucks at the used bookstore)
Where The Sea Used To Be by Rick Bass (50 cents)
Listen to their Voices; Interview with Women Who Write (buck)
You are Not A Stranger Here by Adam Haslett (6.48)
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown (99 cents)
The Farthest Shore by Matthew Eck (50 cents)
The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman (12.48) which felt like a forturne but it is her new book.
Middle Earth Henri Cole (5.00)
Decreation by Anne Carson (3.48)
Near Changes by Mona Vanduyn (50 cents)
The World And Other Places by Jeanette Winterson (6.00)
The Selected Poems by Yehuda Amichai
The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron

Poor E only bought one book b/c SHE DIDN’T RETURN ANYTHING! Now I am lying on my bed with all my books around me and I’m happy.,

Friday, December 28, 2007

I have spent much of the day wondering about how to write about hunger. What I find interesting about being a writer is that at times, what is most essential is the most difficult to write.

Take love---no one has really nailed it, for all these hundreds of years in which human beings have been picking up pens no one has even been close to nailing down love. Maybe b/c it is like reflection, changing constantly. We have written about love so much---we are tired of it.

All our words are mundane but what of hunger—in what language do you speak?

I want to read all the books in my house I have never read. Then I want to move on to my lover's books. When I am done I will break into a stranger's house and read what I want there. I will keep going on and on.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Start with the good

I will start with the good news first. It seems the Minnesota Arts Council has awarded me $5,000 to finish my book. Out of 80 finalists, I by some fluke won first place which they called to tell me, while I was at the Ronald McDonald House in Boston with my niece who has been diagnosed with cancer.

I hadn’t slept for two days and I began to cry…HARD. Weirdly, not because I had won but b/c it was the first time in days where I actually felt something besides sadness.

Oddly this means I have earned almost ten thousand dollars on a book that has NOT been published yet. I don’t know what that makes me famous for but it must be somethin’. The judges said, they had no idea where I had come from and why didn’t anyone know of me…most of the finalist had several books, some had national book awards. Okay I’m here….I want to have a book….what more do I need to do?

Another fluke-- I am quotedin a book about Lucille Clifton called, Lucille Clifton: Her Life And Letters by Mary Jane Lupton. It seems that sections of the first book review I ever did, is being published in a book about Clifton. How cool is that? You know it almost makes me want to write two book reviews;) I stopped b/c I thought I was horrid at it---which I still might be.

In the real world---I am back from Boston. My niece, who is very beautiful is also very sick. She has seven tumors growing in her body. My days are full of trying to push things out of my head instead of writing about them---which never serves me well.