Tuesday, January 29, 2008

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I love language. I love the way it smells and taste. It reminds me of earth, of dirt. I want to gather it up and swallow, let it grow into all that I am. It is tied into my essential humanness.

I read this article recently about how words become less used as one grows older; we tend to simplify our talk. Even our ability to create interesting combination of words lessens. I think this sucks if you’re a writer.

The article talked about when people die they tend to use vulgar words, b/c there is hierarchy of where language is stored in the brain. Even people, who never use vulgarity in daily life, find themselves using their last breath for that.

I find this so interesting. How the body will degrade into just sounds. How we universally as people, share the same sound, even if we speak in different tongues, the last monosyllable will be the same.

There’s only one thing which robs us of language. It is not sleep, or famine, or even the end of life—what robs us is pain, true pain. When the body passes it threshold of tolerance, it is the first thing to leave us. Our speech. Our sound. We are abandoned by even our animal utterance.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

who says

there isn't a santa

The New Yorker and The Sun both came in the mail today.....

my dealer (mail carrier) really should learn to space these things out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

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Tonight was a good night. Isabel finished her bath and I spent at least an hour combing her hair b/c I think the last time a brush went into the inner layers was in 2007. I rewarded her for enduring the pain by doing so many little braids that the poor kid now looks like a white Bob Marley….but oh, what a wonderful feather fan it will make when we take all the braids out in the morning.

Work highlight: strangers wandered into my office for a site visit today b/c they wanted to start their own afterschool program so I got to do my bitch and trap, which is basically me locking them in my office and talking to them about what a horrible job our government does with afterschool programming for low income children.

Someone, somewhere, decided that we as a society would spend millions of dollars getting kids off the streets and then bore the pluck out of them!!! So when these guys came into my office I started to talk about how I write “gifted and talented” curriculum for low income children, and they couldn’t understand how I found “gifted” children in poverty.

I then explained very slowly and kinda loudly how every kid is brilliant, we just have to find out what they love. And then I started to talk about how nonprofits tend to pay their teachers very little and their administrators way too much and if the administrators actually taught, how the whole industry might change.

Well, needless to say I think I scared the hell out ‘em and for some reason they didn’t schedule a second visit. But my friends, I have 67 kids in my after school program alone, and a waiting list of twenty and when I started there were only 20 students and twice as many staff, so they should be frightened. They should be very frightened indeed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I’ve spent all day virtual planning our trip to San Francisco. God bless the age of computers. I know I’ve been before but E hasn’t and there is so much I want to show her, places I want to go, art to look at, food to eat.

Plus we are going to be there for Chinese New Year, which I know the locals avoid like the plague but hell, there is fireworks, dragons and little kids with fans. Plus all the dead farm animals hanging in the windows---I love Chinatown.

Meanwhile back in Minnesota, it is “get out and doing something week” but considering it is 4 degrees I am not sure what exactly one is suppose to DO besides freeze your ass off.

Yes, I felt guilty when I looked out the window and saw ppl. ice skating on the lake but I feel warm and guilty and I can live with that!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008

Well, I almost had to…(gasp) go to the doctor but I think I’ve gotten over the hump now, though I’ve had more drugs in me the last few days then I thought possible. I made it through the work week AND it should be noted that in my Nyquil stupor I was able to plan and book a vacation to San Francisco in the next few weeks.

Thank you dear Jesus, b/c it’s going to be 40 degrees BELOW ZERO this weekend and if I don’t have something to visualize I might go insane. While taking the girls to school today (it was a warm 1 degree in the sun ) the radioman said, if one wanted to boil a pot of water and throw it up in the air outdoors, it would actually make SNOW. What a great party trick.

The fact that I live in a state where entertainment involves throwing things up in the air, while freezing your ass off, is enough to make me want to stay in San Francisco and never come back.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

my head

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A first it was fun. I woke up sounding like Betty Davis, with the deep sexy voice and then the pity from strangers b/c one sounds terribly sick, but feels okay. And then my friends, the “okay” left me and I started to sound like Beaker from the muppets---hell, he’s not sexy at all.

I tried to convince E, I woke up from my nap old. I told her I understood old age perfectly, b/c I fell asleep with my glasses on, then I couldn’t find them. She came to help me and everything was LOUD, her moving the covers, the books. (I sleep on piles of things) The world seemed this chaotic jumble tied somehow to a great ear which amplified everything and was now tilting me off balance.

It would have been a great drug trip if I actually WAS on drugs! Of course, it freaked me out so bad I hobbled into the bathroom to take some.

Now the world is standing straight but I still feel like crap.

Oh and in literary news—I got a big check in the mail, which I would have thrown away, had my name not been misspelled b/c it looked more like a postcard for Rogaine then a check.

And here is a residency to check out if you are a Minnesota writer or a woman photographer in any state…


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

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I’ve been reading some wonderful writing lately. It’s amazing what happens when you give up your need for sleep. Gluck’s October is brilliant, did I mention I bought it for two bucks? Best buy ever! I've read it about 16 times and I still think there’s a secret language I might be able to discern if I keep reading it again and again.

death cannot harm me
More than you have harmed me,
My beloved life.

If I was going to have a tombstone, I might put those lines on there but alas, I’m donating my body to science, to be cut up in small pieces and held in glass jars. The word specimen REALLY appeals to me.

Other great books I’ve read: Rae Armantrout’s Next Life and Jeanette Winterson’s The World and Other Places.

Rae Armantrout…and I wish I had written it….
Come close.

The crowd is made of
little gods

and there is still
no heaven

Monday, January 07, 2008

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a boy

When I was in Boston a boy died. I haven’t talked about it much, though I find myself writing about it more and more. He was 19. He was attending the same art school I had attended when I was 19. We sat up and talked about drawing, the digital age and how we as artists, were losing the purity of the pencil.

We watched Jeopardy together and both of us failed the famous German artists’ category and we laughed at our ignorance.

He was always cold so I sat by him and tucked things in around him like a nest—a blanket, Katelyn’s scarf. I watched his parents wait on him; bring him flat ginger ale with lime. We joked about family. He was one of those people you might have walked by on the street—one you hope didn’t like you in high school b/c you didn’t want to cause him the pain of rejection. A boy, whose parents adored him, overly and he didn’t seem to go grow green in that love but stunted somehow, made pale.

I watched him though, notice a girl, a girl who had come to volunteer at the hospice where I was staying with my niece. I watched his face redden when she accidently brushed her skin against his. I believed then, the body an odd machine, how it hungers on, even the dying body continues to want, to desire. It never makes this conscious decision to stop. The heart always forgets mid beat.

I knew he was sick. I knew there was cancer in his liver and a month ago he had stopped art school. It had all happened so fast. He was dizzy while painting. I wondered when he would paint again. I wondered if he'd ever get laid. And I wondered somehow if we were connected and I used up too much life, I lived too many lives, had too many wants and if somehow I had used up his.

I wanted to give it back. I wanted to stop living so much...using up all the air in the room.

But the morning when I awoke, the shy boy was dead and what I wanted didn't matter. His parents were weeping in the kitchen and I helped the volunteer change the bed and sweep the floor. And I opened the windows even though it was snowing, even though the snow was coming in on the sill, the blankets, the bed. Everything was wet and I thought he deserved at least this---the wild wind, the cold of December.

I thought he deserved at least this.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I actually sent out two submissions today

I’ve also spent the day working on my National Endowment Application which one might say is an early start, since it is not due until March but considering it is my half done application from two years ago when poetry was in the running---I’m not sure you’d call me an early bird;)
Fellowships I would apply for if I was you and not me (two children, a love and a full time job)


But no, I think I am going to go here (an hour from my house) and dream.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

i love this poem

John Colburn

Dawn came and there was something like a great ear
behind the sun.
Ashes drifted down though nothing had burned.
I wanted to shine like a fish.
Supposedly there are people who
will not burn in a fire.
Biblical people.
I carried my bucket.
Dead men pumped water from
the center of the earth.
We all drank it.
More ashes arrived.
We caught them on our tongues,
angels of next time receiving the body.
The earth tumbled then,
the pump handle creaked.
When soldiers came, we ran.
Like always.
I did a snake dance into the culvert.
Soldiers were afraid of ghosts.
A tongue is like a fish worn dull,
shine gone.
Day after day pieces of wood
floated down the river.
What were they building down there, at the end?
They were building a cross.
They were building a bird to fly us out.
They were building a new city
for the dead to lead from
and the soldiers were blind to it.
By noon the ghosts were gone.
The pump handle creaked, but no water.
When the soldiers came back I changed.
I became an angel of next time.
I said the words and
scales fell from my fish tongue
but the giant ear was stone.
Soldiers drifted like ashes.
I told them:
Downriver, they are building
wings that will not burn in a fire
and you are right to hide.
Put down your guns.
Soldiers put us in trucks
and took us downriver to become ashes.
The shine stopped.
The giant ear heard everything but
there was no mouth to speak.
In the cage, we counted.
Flies rose from the ash piles.
We counted screams.
A body floated downriver.
Dawn came and men
with no eyes talked
to the giant ear.
Roadside men who
lay dead in a snake dance.
The fireproof bird might rise
tomorrow or never.
All believed in it.
It rained or it would
never rain.
We counted Americans.
Flies performed their math on the dead.
We counted silences.
The sun had one voice
and the river had one voice.
Burnt people dropped from trees.
We slept to the rustling
of boots through weeds
and I remembered the water
of a dead nun’s voice.
We were all floating downriver.
Dawn came.
We knew nothing and they shot
half of us, with American guns.
At the sound of it we forgot.
We listened to the river.
Each gunshot carried by water
to dazzle the great ear.
That night I became a snake.
I slipped between the beams.
Crawled among the dead.
I followed the sound of bells.
The soldiers could not count
or didn’t care to.
The river counted to one
in its long voice.
Some snakes do not end.
Mythical snakes.
I passed a village.
Downriver there was nothing
except ashes.
The village boiled in silence.
A snake does not scream.
The choices were:
Become a snake.
Forest creatures swam in blood.
My voice was in the past,
covered by the long scar of forgetting.
I know the great ear turned.
That ghosts rose and began their work.
That voices fell from the trees.
I remain in snake form.
I whisper instructions to the great ear
following each little death.
Because now we are ready.
We have so many ashes
for our bird to rise from.
We have a sound to carry us
home, the river’s one voice
singing all day to a giant ear.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I’ve been up late into the night the last few nights, writing what Sexton calls essential crap which means writing even when you know it sucks b/c well that's how it works.

My writing head doesn’t trust me anymore so it has gone on a major hiatus. It seems I wasn’t listening, so every time a poem would come into my head, I’d tell it to go away.

I was trying to be loved, to love, be a good parent, trying to teach, trying to do my damn job which paid my bills. So my poet voice said *&%@# which sounds a lot like loud silence. You know, the kind of quiet that gets in your brain, slowly slinks down the spine—that scary quiet.

Now I am humbly crawling on my belly, begging to hear voices again. I’m here. I’m here and I’m listening, please talk to me.