Monday, September 24, 2007

Linda McCarriston


She has nothing, neither
power nor wealth, but what
the father of her children
gives her. All is well. She
remains beautiful on a pittance.
They have acquiesced to the stale-
mate that is sex and make do
now with each other’s public
desirability, private near-
brushes in the bed each night.
And when war comes and calls for
her sons, though she may sit on
damask or plush and drink red
or white, as she chooses,
and lament to friends, provided
they are women, all, she can but
suffer the loss of what she has
furnished. She cannot toss
her sabots into the gears that
sustain her. She cannot tear the
clothes off her own beautiful
body and barter.

: Linda McCarriston, Little River

Sunday, September 23, 2007

How it feels

[9/21 - 9/23:]

A window slowly wiped clean of fog. (No.)

A mirror in fragments on the pavement,

one shard catching the sun,

burning my eye. (No.) A saucepan

dropped and clattering down stairs,

but I am in the pan and the falling

takes days. On the third day I ease

myself out. Stand up. Something trickles

from my ear. The dented pan

still ringing. I place it

on my head.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A week, you say?

Well so it has been. I'm dog-tired, it's past my bedtime, and the alarm goes off at six in the morning. I can't blog about it today . . . I'll--I'll blog about it tomorrow! (After all, tomorrow IS another day!)

[photo: fallen hornet, aug 8 2007]

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Line 'em up

I'm armed and ready for a fresh stack of compositions. No, I don't use red ink.
* * *

Here's a poem by Dionisio Martínez, from History as a Second Language:

Charlie Parker: Almost Like Being in Love

These are the shadows of water when water
is thick and no longer transparent.
They are everywhere--on the walls,
across the ceiling.

It was always this good.
One night you undressed me in my sleep.
Very slowly, you told me later.
You said I smelled good.
The sweater, I said. I'd taken it
out of the drawer where I kept
my winter clothes.
It smelled of pine and a long summer.
No, you said. Not wood.
More like the inside of a saxophone case,
all velvet and sweet regrets.
All blues, I said. Blues
and whatever shadows are made of,

I said, falling on you like slow water.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"a little boyish, a little ghostly"

Here's another poem from Ann Townsend's excellent chapbook, The Braille Woods:

At first, only the soaking sound of the shower.
Dense, dizzy, he rinses the soap from his body,

without care, without love, and steps dripping
onto the tile. His face is still eclipsed in sleep;

his hand reaches for the fallen towel,
muscles curving in from the elbow,

pulling up again to perform the simplest motion,
smoothing towel against skin. Threshed by air,

the cedars rustle and sweep in the back yard,
their branches bobbing, needles cloudy

in the scattered morning light. He shivers,
folding back the shutters, and waits there,

his body no more than a momentary colorless echo,
a little boyish, a little ghostly,

while the morning comes on. In the next room,
his underwear and socks lie neatly folded

on the bed, and a row of shirts waits from him
to push past their various fabrics

and pull out his choice, as if his body were a frame
on which to drape landscapes, patterns and plaids,

an architecture of clean skin, wakening muscle,
nerves willingly alive to the watching world.
[photo: autumn laurel, 9/1/07]

Monday, September 10, 2007

"in games that go on and on"

The Hour of Grace

I used to think it could be solved this way:
like people gathering in the station at midnight
for the last bus that will not come,
at first just a few, then more and more.
That was a chance to be close to one another,
to change everything, together
to start a new world.

But they disperse.
(The hour of grace has passed. It won’t
come again.) Each one will go his own way.
Each will be a domino again
with one side up, looking
for another piece to match it
in games that go on and on.
: Yehuda Amichai
[photo: storm cloud, 5/10/07]

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Inside, looking out

I'm working through a stack--a big honking stack--of student essay drafts, trying to generate supportive comments to offset the plethora of marked errors. I'm reminded of the title of Leslie Ullman's book, Slow Work Through Sand. Gimme water.
* * *

We had a scare: R was experiencing terrible pain and other symptoms which, gentle readers, I'll decline to describe. We thought it was a kidney stone. Doctor's office opened at one this afternoon and they urged him to come in as soon as he described his symptoms. Tests determined it's not a kidney stone but a significant infection. He's feeling miserable. I'm upstairs working. He's flat-out exhausted. Send love.
* * *

I don't think I've stepped outside all day. Photo: the house across the street when viewed through one of the tiny oval holes in the mini blinds through which the slats are threaded.

Friday, September 07, 2007


Maxine Kumin uses the term "interstices" in her book Always Beginning to describe the often-unscheduled or unplanned gifts of time in which she's trained herself to write. I'm still adjusting to my new work schedule (and working out the commute by trying to find reliable ride-share neighbors), so I'm more conscious than ever of the small interstices that pop up through my day. I need more self-discipline, of course (though I think I'm managing the workload pretty well so far), but I also need to be more attentive, to consciously recognize (and utilize) these small but valuable interstices.
* * *
Keystone Chapbook Update: Here, in no particular order, are the log numbers of the ten manuscripts which the final judge is reading this month:

70802; 70804; 70720; 70601; 70712; 70818; 70602; 70702; 70722; 70806.

At least ten other manuscripts came very close!
* * *

After teaching my 8:00 yesterday, Randy & I drove to Harrisburg for the quilt show. I felt a sneaky delight in lingering near his quilt to listen as people complimented his work. Very proud of him.

[photo: Light Surface #1, 9/1/07]

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A walk in the woods

R and I had to get away yesterday. Fortunately, getting away is easy: a 20-minute drive to R.B. Winter State Park and we were on (and off) the trails, encountering relatively few people (considering the holiday weekend).

We brought our cameras. I'm drawn mainly to surface texture and the play of light and shadow, so I'll take either super-close-up macro shots of leaves and lichen or, conversely, deliberately out-of-focus shots to convey (hopefully) more mood than content. The pic I'm posting today is of neither category: more like a snapshot, I guess.
It was a beautiful afternoon, nice and cool in the mountains, though the creek level was way down and the marshes were oddly devoid of the usual winged swarms--I can usually count on seeing iridescent gangs of damselflies, but found none.

We then drove south to the mall (utter contrast) in search of a decent floor lamp for my Lycoming office. There's a fairly old PC on my desk, and the screen flickers noticeably, but I think I can get used to that. I'm less accommodating toward the fluorescent lighting: I really do think that it triggers some of my headaches. I had one small table lamp left from the four-in-a-box we bought for my BU office, and someone left one of those little gooseneck desk lamps, which I set up on a shelf and adjusted to point up, but clearly a floor lamp was needed. After dragging R past every conceivable model at Lowe's, I settled on a basic brushed-chrome "3 light tree" for 25 bucks.
* * *
Keystone Chapbook update: The contest is down to ten finalists. I shipped these ten manuscripts to the final judge on Thursday. Since the manuscripts are identifiable only by log number (cover sheets, acknowledgments, and bio information were removed as each manuscript arrived), I was thinking I'd post the log numbers of the finalists here. I know that not everyone is going to check this blog, but it's a good way to show a public record of the process at this stage but maintain the privacy of the writers' identities. (Authors were e-mailed their manuscript numbers as they were logged, and I deleted those e-mails immediately upon sending them). Any advice? The judge has a month to select the winning manuscript (and two runners-up). If you submitted your manuscript, would you want to know at this stage whether it was still in the running?
* * *
The man is home from his morning jaunt. It's Sunday, and on Sundays we have migas. Yummy.