Been Awhile…

Ok. My year of writing ended in January and I have barely done anything since then.
Have not missed it. Have not mourned the loss of it.
Have not even thought about it much. Maybe I am truly a reader and only a wannabe writer. I looooooove reading. Reading is me. I truly grieve for anyone who doesn’t love to read. How do you get through life without a good book to anchor your day? How do you survive without reading every day? Films are great, yeah, and music absolutely but without books to read I would be adrift psychically, emotionally, mentally, creatively. I wanted to write because I love to read. I thought that if I could love writing as much as I love reading the world would make sense to me in a way that thoroughly nurtured and delighted me. If writing would feel as immersive and natural and absorbing and juicy and sustaining forever and ever amen-wouldn’t that be so great? That was my wild dream. My hope. My quest sort of.

So okay. Didn’t turn out that way really. I did the daily writing. I loved the classes I took and the energizing talks and recordings and podcasts I lavished upon myself. I felt inspired and fed and excited at times. All good. The struggle to produce writing I liked and that others also liked was not exciting and inspiring. The daily wrestle with the negative energies of sloth and pride and impression management drained the immaculate purity I imagined a writing life would be until the thought of writing no longer seemed anything related to my love of reading. I could have one maybe but not both.

Now true that reading is a solitary blessing without the need for any other souls presence. Part of why I love it. I do not require the approval or company of others when I am reading a really great book. I like that. Prefer that. While writing seems to demand interaction. Demands a vulnerability and intimacy and fear of failure that my lovely reading never requests. Writing did not soothe me the way reading does. Writing stirs me and bumps me. Gets under my skin and skitters vaguely hither and thither. It is not a restful place. It prods and pushes and twists a snaky slither inside me.

So. Not what I had in mind. The beautiful notion that maybe writing itself would feel completely wonderful and that I would be utterly filled with my story, the characters, places, events, the unfolding of a cool world of my own creation- maybe not so much. Nice vision. Sweet thing to wish for. Just not happening here. Don’t know why.

Anyway. I’m glad I got back to my little blogworld for a check-in. Thank you to whatever writing forces or sources or godlets there might be.

Backyards

Dark purple silk palms
spread profusely from twig wrists,
trail delicately over the tall woodslat fence
that separates our yards.

Tiny fragile white startles
of petals cluster together
on the tips of lean, limber vines,
shimmy softly in the uneven breeze.
The jungle next door tantalizes.

On the opposite side, my other neighbors
plant a waist-high picket fence
between our yards,
whirling windtoys
and tidy raised wood boxes
of dark soil,
beds for vegetables and flowers.

Rakes, shovels, a worn pitchfork
lean against the wall of their  home.
Adolescent fruit trees
elbow awkwardly
from corners.

The old two-story oak
with recently shortened limbs
hovers,
waiting to grow soft,
supple again.

My yard,
a bare block of crewcut grass
and clover, a thick short hedge or two.
A chest-high rubbery roundness
hunkers down in one corner,
a succulent cabbage-like hulk.

Spindly impatiens scrabble
across from the bedraggled fern.
The fading wood lattice
slants sideways, empty.

Calla lilies weed up
by the back door,
forest green
plastic Adirondack yardchairs
arm by arm
on the rectangle of concrete.

The gray cat prowls the bare patches
of survivor growth,
peers through the weathered picket fence.
I imagine she wants to lie
in the tender charmyard
of cherry tomatoes and bachelor buttons,
to paw at spinning yellow windmills
and tiny wood stickbirds.

I sit
taking in the neighboring passions,
stumped, overwhelmed, unable
to turn over this soil,
wishing for green delicate grace
to materialize
in this small naked square.

Despair puckers its split lips
and mutters its busy rote
while my fingers
pluck at the
plastic chair arms.

She said

when invited to join a memoir writing class at a local senior center, “who wants to write about what you wanna forget?”

“what day is today?” over and over.  My neighbor repeats the news of her close friends memory loss every time I ask how her friend is doing.

she was usually “the most attractive woman in any group” she found herself a part of.  She said it very casually, conversationally,  with a bit of a twinge of “Ethel Merman-ness” swagger. I was not the only other woman present at the time but I think she was primarily addressing the men in our group. She did look good but her manner and statement made me think more of “The Twilight Zone” than jealous or insecure.  Even if all the guys were attracted to her. I’m sure she didn’t even register my presence. Very weird female. With a strong east coast accent-bent words from a bent mind.

we needed to “be frank” with each other. I’d never experienced mama saying such a thing before-much less in this direct earnest caring but almost businesslike manner    Wonder-full surprise of a moment.

from her hospital bed that last night how she didn’t want to leave me but she didn’t want to be here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace…?

It was during the ebb of the week that I noticed it’s gathering near.  More like sensed an approach, really. It wasn’t something I saw. Or heard or smelled. More a slight pressure I felt around my eyes, maybe. Or my head. Or throat.

Could have been even a lessening of pressure, now that I really think about it all. Whatever it was, I felt very calm, quiet as I sensed a feathered rhythm joining with my breath.

Traffic sounds whipped from buzzing insult to whirring wingedness. Birdly buttered voices slipped in and out of my minds seams.  This is what it’s like, I remember thinking.  This absence.  This gliding opening. This preparation for filling.  Like some grace was heading my way and I was letting it get close. And for once closeness was in me and not on me, all heavy and soaked.

Spirit Rock Center

I drove up the entrance road
past shaggy horses
in a fenced off section of the field
wondering again
if they mind the damp, the cold,
grow tired standing
on delicate legs.

Inside, she talked to us about winter,
about the way winter vegetables
grow beneath the surface
of the earth,
carrots, squash and onions-
about winter darkness
taking over
the day.

In the long silence
that followed,
my thoughts drifted
like horses grazing,
my body darkening,
opening  to my underground.

Breaths became tiny full seeds,
thoughts stirring thin roots,
sensations, fragile shoots
delicate under skin,
emotion webbing,
twining through my teeth,
out my mouth down my arms.

I rested
inside the dark ground
of my belly,
the quiet muffle of blood.

In a slow moment
before
my eyes opened
I could see
the field
of us.
Cabbages, turnips, potatoes.
Dark gardens
stretching
upward.

Neighbor Memories

My San Jose neighbors were colorful to say the very least.  To say the most would include mentioning the family a couple doors down who left their apartment basically black with dirt or soot or something when they left.  They also left their cat inside the studio  apartment. That’s how I got a look inside the place.  Heard this nonstop little meowing in passing and when I looked through the broken window I saw him.  Did I go in through the broken window? Was the door open? Not sure now. Walked through the place with the owner maybe?  I called him I do remember. Drugs or drinking I’m pretty sure.  There was a young girl living there with her mom and maybe someone else? Cannot recall.  She liked my cat Oleander  and the 2 feral ones I fed outside the place so I guess her mom got her the black kitten.  By the time they had moved out he was still young but not a kitten anymore.  After I took the cat into my apartment  I saw the multiple burn marks on its head.Cigarette burns it looked like. And the cat was a biter. No wonder. Kittens don’t get born as biters.  Those adults in that apartment holding a cigarette to its head over and over would definitely get it to be hostile.  I called  animal control to come get the young cat. Somehow I had managed to get  him into my cat carrier.  I warned the anumal control guy to be careful because of the biting.  I think he wore gloves but as I recall he just took my cautionary tip in stride until he had the little guy in his hands.  Then he saw for himself. Said something like “Oh yeah.  This ones a hard case.” Something along those lines.  He got the little cat in a cage inside the truck and took off. Have no idea where that cat ended up.

 

Another neighbor in that same apartment building who lived directly below me played loud rock music on and on and the walls and floors in this place were not what you’d call sound proofed. Very maddening. Since they also seemed like checked-out druggies and/or really uneducated and loud talking I was hesitant to just request that they lower the volume.  So.  Brilliant idea of mine was to rap on the floor a few times  with my broomstck next time they blasted their rock.  Brilliant yeah? Well that just got everything in motion.  Next thing I know this guy charges upstairs and begins pounding on my door and yelling about how dare I rap my broom at him or something.  I did not open the door I don’t think as I was pretty alarmed by then. A few days later maybe I ran  into him on the stairs. He  started going on and on about how he was a child of god too in this mad and sort of hurt offended tone.  I was still kind of shocked at the guys reactivity and just didnt say much very I dont think.  Mostly felt embarrassed and guilty that I hadn’t just made a simple request that they lower the volumn but had instead amped all up with the btoomstick rapping.  Then a few days later I ran into him in the carport/driveway area and he actually apologized to me.  I was kind of wowed and by then had realized my poor behavior part in it all too.  I think I managed to say something briefly about me regretting the broom stick part too. This was basically all done in passing.  Neither of us seemed interested in stopping what we were doing and formally clearing the air but I do remember feeling relieved somewhat.  I think they moved soon after because I do not recall hearing the loud music again.

Mapping the World

Mapping the World

 

Imagine the earth

illustrated in terms of the measurements

of blood surfacing from each country and region and area.

A geographical illustration of the shedding

of the spilling blood

as it mixes and merges and

increases in circumference

and then drips or more accurately perhaps pours

from each originating section of the surface of the planet

but then since the phenomenon and momentum of spinning is also taking place

well then the drops would be spun as well.

Imagine the bleeding globe heaving the web

of stunning and probably exquisite scarlet patterns and designs and trails and traces

which eventually and gradually and finally, we think, evaporates

in the presence of and/or within, who knows of course, a starry

starry  starry  starry  starry  starry

inconsolable universe

shadowed and brilliant by turn.

 

And then imagine a globe of the world

that illustrates the planet

in terms of the measurement of hope

generated from each country

and region and area of the earth

which of course is not a visible matter

but only a matter of imagination

and, so, difficult to picture

as it’s forms create unknown shapes and motions and colors and densities

so that each one is exquisite and possibly odd and wondrous and quite infectious

and the earth is bounteously and gorgeously flinging its hopeful imaginations

as it giddly circles and turns and circles

in the wild midst of kindred orbiting masses

blindly yet precisely whirling and whirling and whirling.

 

CC 4/29/16

Mojave (#1)

I finally stopped looking for the next town, gas station, isolated house off some baked dirt road or cracked concrete driveway.  Desert extended past the horizon as afternoon stretched unending arms farther than my travel OD’d eyes could see.

In the stillness of suspended day, miles of white sand lay flat in glaring light, smooth, silent, broken only by dried woody remnants of plants here. Further on gently swollen silken dunes abounded, then the vast muscular mountain formations shoving thick, massive shoulders out of the impassive surface.

We’d been warned it could take hours to get through this part-that we should make sure the tank was filled,the radio functioning, plenty of liquids with us.  We hadn’t been told of the way the afternoon itself expanded, took over the senses, overwhelmed reasoning until any memory of night and coolness we may have started with that morning burned away in midday glare.  We hadn’t been informed of the way our mouths would stop moving in the heat, how our minds would stop seeking the right word, phrase, sentence that would keep us connected, how hearts would shrink smaller and smaller trying to protect our soft, moist interiors from the heated air, from each other.

The asphault road, black and thin, snaked a path through sand fields, between shoulders of granite, past occasional dart of ground squirrels foraging for any sign of succulence that could still be ingested, swallowed savored even if for an instant.  I kept driving even though I felt your wanting to stop, pull over, identify the animals, observe their movings into and up out of the earth.  Not yet, I almost prayed, not yet. If we could get through this part, we would be allright kept moving in and out of my mind. Just get through the monster afternoon. Get under the shade of sundown, the dark of the star-punctured night, the coolness of some air-conditioned diner.  Must be just up ahead of us. I’m sure of it.

We weren’t alone on the road.Not alone like we were sitting next to each other. Traffic was light in both directions. The random sighting of a car or a truck jarred open small blooms of hope inside me. We could do this!  It can be done! We are not forsaken.  Look-that couple looks perfect, don’t they?  She is laughing, his smile wide, window framing faces open to the day, lips shining.

I keep driving, eyes on the road, seeing the faint trail of vehicles throwing themselves through brittle air. I keep quiet, still, steering clear as possible from potent chemistry of hot metal, fuel, razored will of fragile-skinned humans. Urgency to be out of beating heat, to be moving, gone, in motion through this stunned expanse of swaying earth, heavy wind, sluggish planet in endless spin. Spinning in this surprise of a universe, nothing to grab hold of, nothing to break a fall with, to anchor to, just the spinning itself to huddle around, a fetal thing trying to get back inside it’s own body, it’s own beginnings, it’s own spark, itself a match being struck against the abrasive surface of life.I hear tires beneath us , blind in their circling frenzy.

I wish now we hadn’t been in such a hurry to leave. That we had held off, waited a couple of hours, days, weeks. Waited for heat to disintegrate into hazy wind.Maybe if we had taken more time, napped through afternoon heat,left after dinner we would of made off at sunset, taken turns at the wheel, slept in shifts.  We may have stayed oblivious to teeth waiting beneath the surface of that hot afternoon.  We could have missed most of the mute terrain, slid lightly past the bully of stark beauty, prevented the stunning of our slow minds, the shimmering indifference salting our heads, the taunting of our small driven hearts.

Laughing Brudda

His visit was brief, an overnight.

I loved him for driving hours to reach me,

proudly introduced him to the cool housemates.

I zinged with fierceness for his awkward, vulnerable

pleasing young man energy.

The front room to ourselves,

we sat at opposite ends of the window seat

windows open to orchard, highway,

spoke of some twisted piece of home,

laughed.  The way only the two of us did.

Breathlessly, close to choking, wheezing,

gasping, hurting, spent again and again.

How unladylike I must have appeared,

Our bodies shook loose, freed, jackel babies hideous howling,

teeth shredding that sharp past,

piercing it to the spot.

Bullygirl (#1)

The bathroom was brutal that afternoon.  She couldn’t see

past the the small group of girls in front of her,

their snarling flapping mouths.

Heavy swinging doors blocked by a small crowd

of lanky twelve-year-old selves.  She pressed herself

back hard against the dank

flatgreen wall, flooded by their

furnace tongues, their pungent eyes.

“Did you start yet?

Did you start your period yet?”

The question didn’t compute somehow.

The churning, the undertow, the growling

teeth did not fit the words.  She couldn’t

make sense of it – the fierce sounds

bustling her into a smaller tighter corner of her body.

The shock question hissing at her.

The dull lineoleum floor impenetrable, feebling her.

Should they be so teethy about this? So restless,

in clanking chain, so foamy in their gather?

Unable to interpret,

to see what they required,

she littled as far from their seeping force

as clammy walls allowed.

Chisled by their laser lips, her mind

damping down, laming itself, closing off,

she burrowed in wide-eyed busted open slappidy

repeat.

Chowed down on it,

incorporated the ragged minutes,

undulated her world view.

Absorbed the deranged mouths dumbly,

waited,

masts lowered,

eyes bent.