Wednesday, April 30, 2008

on the nature of desire

It isn't that I crave the lawn, the driveway, the shaped boxwood border. Just the perfectly situated, satisfied dogwood. The Eastern simplicity of the lines of the tree would carry over its essence of grace and refinement into all aspects of life that touched it. If one owns a dogwood tree, one takes tea under the shade of the tree with formal tea service on quiet and unhurried summer afternoons. Once the tree is settled, matured, the rush of trying to arrive and depart and arrive again falls away, to embrace the contentment of limited mobility and calm, peaceful being, without having the corresponding going and to-ing and fro-ing. From the branches of the dogwood tree would rain peace and love and tranquility; the presence of companions and the turning of a page.
None of this exists. There is no dogwood tree that I can call my own; the alarm sounds shrilly without compromise, the cats must be fed and dishes must be washed. Deadlines loom and take no prisoners, politicians wallow in faint promises of an artificial and unsustainable world, the pen runs out of ink and bills must be paid.

reading planting directions for Page's Liberty Garden: forget-me-not, baby's breath, impatiens, aster, and marigold seeds

weather hopefully the final frost

Thursday, April 24, 2008

community events

He said.
She said.
They said.
They critiqued. They conjectured. They commented.

They may have been wrong.
They may have been right.

In the end, truth will out. Except when it doesn't, and what didn't happen may as well have happened, given that the outcome does not change materially regardless of whether he did and if she responded.

In the end, they don't actually care. Words and whispers and gestures passed in the filling of coffee cups and stacking of hymnals, shaking of hands and straightening of suit jackets.
Did they or didn't they? Did you see what she saw? Was that really?

reading Edgar Allen Poe [why not?]

weather trees in leaf flowers in bloom birds in flight

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


This is what cookbooks strive to catalog, to package, to present: the past as it should have been, the dinner party if only the trick to perfect tomato soup had been known, the lasagna that doesn't quite recapture the memory of melted warmth, though the flavor is more sophisticated. With cookbooks the future can be planned and controlled and presented in its ideal format: neither death nor heartbreak exist in a world of perfect crepes, of angel food cakes with caramel ice cream and the first blueberries, of the glow of a golden roast chicken. Childhood is reframed as the glorious halcyon days of youth when mashed potatoes use brie and heavy cream; love will not sour as long as the souffle rises; failure is not an option as long as wild salmon can be grilled with vegetables under an afternoon sun. The perfect plate, the perfect napkin, the matching tea cup and sunset presenting the patina of deserved stability and love in the face of a changing world and cruel universe.

reading The New York Times on chocolate pudding
weather first thunderstorm of the season

Thursday, April 17, 2008


What is the minimum essential amount of baggage to carry between streets, between cities? The weight of memories, impressions in concrete, solidified emotions which form an anchor to a place so effective that Tokyo and Topeka become interchangeable. A slim photograph all that remains of one's past: every trip an attempt to match the furnishings of that half-remembered living room, dust reflecting light in the late afternoon, the sound of china at tea time. The cardigan which goes everywhere but is never to be worn, functioning as a security blanket on a trip between each state capital of the original colonies, each battlefield of the Civil War. The suitcase used by a grandfather, an ambassador, a suitcase still carried, even on overnight trips; or a letter, folded and creased almost beyond endurance, the essence of a romantic love felt more strongly than health, hunger, heat.

reading the fall of light in the lengthening twilight
weather progressing onward through to summer at a brisk trot

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I got music

Last Call. The barman rings his bell, the eighties cover band continues on to the end of the set, day is done and gone the sun, into the mysterious creeps and creaks of the world at night. The soothing lullaby of the house settling into the hillside, the strains of raucous laughter wafting up from fraternity row, the shatter of glass in the alleyway, reckless and joyful peals of humanity unquiet.
The chorus of tom cats rehearsing for the ritualistic wooing of the feline under the full moon. Neighbors fighting, or the television of the neighbors giving voice to an argument they can not pronounce, years of small talk building a wall of inanities that now shuts in the silence of all that was intended to be said. I love you. You burnt the pot roast. You are my sunshine. I lost my job. You are the light of my life. I've been arrested on drug charges.

The ambulance siren screaming past. Somewhere, a child cries out. The monster was almost to his toes. A radiator knocks.

Hear the call of the poker game, the change given ring of the register, the seductive plays of the insomniac concert violinist.

The earth creaks on its axis, the weight of a world that cannot be calmed propelling it onward through the deaf vacuum of space.

       A tree falls.

       One hand claps.

       The blind man sees.

       The deaf man hears.

There is evil. There is injustice. There is pain. There is death. There is misery. There is hunger.
This is the BBC News, reporting to you live from the playing fields of Eton.

The crackling of the wireless and the stutter of the shortwave radio sharing the sounds of the remote corners of the world with the neighbors, the enemies, the great aunts, the restless teens, the soldier the sailor the tinker the tailor

The alarm goes off: the urgent uncompromising harsh call of the electronic urban rooster.

Day has come.

reading little of note
weather replenishing the depleted vitamin D reserves

Monday, April 14, 2008

spring exhaustion

Deadlines met.
Checks transferred to the care of the United States Treasury.
First print run on the Kelsey Press.
Birthday presents sourced.
Snow tires off.
Hibiscus sunning on the roof.

Exhausted, but the glorious ocean is still six weeks away.

reading Novel: George Singleton
weather bulbs in flower

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Thus slightly drunk and wandering aimlessly about the shrubbery, watch the play of light upon the leaves, the surface of the water in the stream disturbed by the rocks at the bottom, the anger of disturbed ducks, the shuffle of a chipmunk. Find a patch of sunlight with a view of the hillside, the perch upon the root of a tree distant enough from other revelers to be able to observe their unconvincing games of croquet and frisbee while far enough from sight so as to remain undisturbed.

Sitting quietly, happily filled with pastries and alcohol, the senses attuned to each gesture of the breeze, the grains of dirt on the ground, the sharpness of each blade of grass. The solitary peacefulness of watching a society while no longer expecting to participate within it: liberation from the expectations of joviality and small talk and physical games of skill, the scene turned into a Renaissance oil painting or a film, viewed through a frame, intangible.

Within this solitude is contentment, the knowledge that the pleasures of the others offer a membership of a cordial society, but the bite of separation from these friends providing a prism against which the identity of the self can relax, no longer forced to perform the assigned role.

Calm is never so calm, so quiet, as when in contrast to an immediate experience of music, of conversation, of joshing and of games; the noise of the stream and the curses of the ducks offering a different discourse on the play of the afternoon sun.

The ducks are freed from the constraints of time as we experience it. They do follow the patterns of migration, of eggs and rearing of young, of forming alliances and dodging common enemies. Those ducks which do not migrate exchange the weary journey, the exhaustion of traveling, for the weary coldness of winter, the exhaustion of foraging desperately for food. Ducks are known to be fickle and faithless; cruel tormentors to outsiders; easy prey to predators. But the orderly disorder of ducklings on a stream, mama duck quacking continuously as the young reply in a pattern of call and response, the game of Marco Polo; the desperate calling of a mother duck who has misplaced one of her ducklings. The sorrow and pain of the unanswered, repeated call to the young.

The sun shifts slightly, moving beyond the reach of the tree, shadowing the grove and cooling the air. The sounds of the party begin to dissipate, a clutter of plates left behind as the other retire to nap before the dinner hour. How quickly does the day fall away, the sharpness of the experience of each individual moment blurring into a sense of the weight of responsibility of time, the knowledge that following dinner will come evening, witching hours always too short and then forced into tomorrow, the resumption of duties and deadlines and expectations, the call of grown-up responsibilities which must be answered.

As the air chills and no longer welcomes the leisure of inattentive observation, the clock chimes, the freedom from timelessness returned for the needs of the schedule, of duties unavoidable. The subdued conversation of a dinner which is superfluous following the feast of the day, but partaking in the meal is the outward acknowledgment of the return of the schedule, the beckoning of the clock.

Return. Return. Return. Return. Return. Return. Return.

The dinner of half-heard conversations, of distracted digestion, as others struggle to hold on to their holiday into the night, desperately forcing cheerfulness and ever stronger drinks to propel a sense of freedom into a situation which is too quickly returning to normalcy. The flushed face, the altering inflections of the voice, the ever more outrageous hand gestures, the punch lines to jokes, all constructing a wall of sand against the inevitable force of time, of tomorrow, which has arrived.

After the rush of an irrepressible dawn and a breakfast which reeks of the mundane, unforgiving toil forgets the joy of yesterday, the freedom of the frisbee, the weight of to be done crushing the memory of all that was allowed to fall to the wayside in the glow of an afternoon.

1040 INSTRUCTIONS / Including Instructions for Schedules A, B, C, D, E, F, J, and SE

weather gorgeous

Friday, April 4, 2008

shoures sote

The caravan of past and present continues the drive up the hill that is the future. Cresting the present, coasting past current activity all too quickly on the downhill and watching experiences become history before they can be fully explored.

The temptation to set a brick onto the accelerator pedal, aim towards a cliff, send the past into oblivion. The temptation to leave the keys in the ignition, car running, door unlocked, and walk away. Board a bus and disappear.

Is it possible to thus purge responsibility and expectation and memory into an impersonal ether, sending the emotional baggage into the black hole, destination unknown; or through a trash compactor, crushed into oblivion: the shredding of where one has been to more tangibly interact with the experiences of daily life? Discarding the desired carrier to bicycle, rollerskate, walk through life, limited to what fits into a basket or a backpack to hold what others project, a minimal set of tools to construct the future.


April is the cruellest month . . . April is Financial Literacy Month [also here] . . . April is poetry month . . . April is STD Awareness Month, and also features National TV Turnoff Week and Earth Day

In other words, I'm not the only person who really doesn't want to face the reality of tax paperwork.

weather fickle

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Twelve Step Program for Writers

Step Twelve

While the fire of poetry may continue to burn in the deepest recesses of the soul; while a dark and stormy night may offer temptations to wallow in gothic imagery; while mysterious strangers and found letters and bits of eavesdropped conversations may offer constant temptation to return to the closeted life of a writer: remember that we are all weak, that through constant vigilance, and intentional worldly engagement, even the most deeply rooted heinous obsessions can be purged from within. Keep an active list of substitute entertainments, and remember that everyone occasionally falls into an accidental couplet.

You are free.

Inspired by:
Twelve steps to practical problem solving
Paul Polak: "Out of Poverty: What works when traditional approaches fail", 2008

Proust, beginning to end
The wonderful thing about How I Make A Living is being able to listen to audio books all day.

April showers and all that