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Archive for October, 2012

two steps forward, don’t say I didn’t warn you….

Is this a modern murder ballad? Not exactly, but I do think of it sometimes on this day.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Tim Eriksen lately, having heard him play last week and having bought his latest CD in the latest manifestation of who he’s been playing with this time around.

Back in July, when I was on the Cape doing a poetry workshop with Dorianne Laux and Joe Millar (so Beat, that Joe! You gotta check out his stuff), I left them with a parting gift of Tim’s CD Soul of the January Hills.* Finally, last Friday night, I re-bought it and have been playing it in my car. It’s got at least 2 (off the top of my head) murder ballads and I’ve been thinking about Lady Margaret, aka, Sweet William, too, lately. I’ve used a link to the wiki page for Sweet William, a little lame, I know, but there must be hundreds of places to look up more thorough information on that particular Child Ballad. You’ll have to do your own research and discover your own personal favorite version. There are lots. I love The Knitters doing it, but it’s no where to be found so I can share it here. I just love that John Doe and Exene singing that old timey stuff together.

Here’s the modern murder ballad for today, courtesy of The Dream Syndicate and youtube:

* if you can buy only one of Tim’s CDs, this is the one I recommend. But maybe that’s just me, lover of a capella and haunting ballads about love and death. When you read the liner notes, you also realize what an amazing tour de force it is. One take, not rehearsed. Damn.

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Ever since I can remember, I have loved the taste of coconut.

My dad would buy a coconut and I remember a couple of different ways of trying to get it open.

One was with a nail and a hammer. I remember drinking the milk with a straw.

The other was smashing the coconut on the sidewalk with great force; naturally, this would waste most of the liquid inside. But what fun! I don’t have many memories from when I was a little girl, but some of the ones with my dad are really good.

I loved eating the hard flesh of the coconut, even the papery brown part. So exotic, yet sweet, mild, and comforting.

Of course I loved shredded coconut as well and this is likely because it was sweetened with that powdery coating of sugar.

I know coconut is a deal-breaker for a lot of people. You love it or hate it. Like raisins. Or olives. Or cilantro. Sweet potatoes. Squash. Brains. Heart. Tongue. Cheek. Okay, so it’s starting to sound like sex and aren’t food and sex what it’s all about?

You know the greatest granola in the world, right? If you’ve been paying attention for any length of time around here, you know it is my granola.

For quite some time, I’ve switched away from canola oil. I’ve tried sunflower, safflower, and grapeseed oils. Recently, I bought some jars of coconut oil, mostly because I found it CHEAP at TJ Maxx and I used to use it ALL THE TIME when I did a lot of massage.

So I bought it to slather on myself after a shower or bath (is that TMI? TF Bad).

Back in 1987, when I was a massage student in Akron, Ohio, I did many hours of adjunct training in Neuromuscular Therapy with Paul St. John.

Studying this form of massage, which is a deep-tissue therapy based largely on Janet Travell’s work, is what, in part, made me a great massage therapist. I became all thumbs. And fingertips. And elbows (more acquired tastes, like brains and cheeks and hearts and tongues). You might not think it, but I used to be excessively strong in my hands. Always folks think men are the ones who give the deepest and best massages, but I’ve never experienced massages as focused and excellent and DEEP as [some] from [some] women. Just sayin’.

We were encouraged to use coconut oil by Paul St. John. I’ll tell you why. It is solid at room temperature. It melts on contact with the body. It is easy to control how much you use. When you do deep tissue work, in the style that I was taught, you want to stay very, very specific on the places in the muscles or tendons or ligaments that need attention. You don’t want to slide all over the place (like lomi lomi or something fer chrissakes!).

Last night, when I made my 20-cup batch of granola, I realized, quite late, that I was out of any oil but olive oil. Well, you can’t use olive oil for your granola, no way, no how. So I made it with some of the unopened coconut oil from one of the jars I’d stocked up on. People, this batch of granola is the BOMB. YES YES YES.

When I was in Kauai, I was treated to a traditional hula performance by a mother and daughter. Apparently, the dances that tend to be performed for the mainland tourists are not true, traditional hula. Historically, the women were topless, just like the men (though our mother and daughter were clothed on top). The dance has far more depth of meaning than appears on the surface with a lot of complexity to the movements of the hips, arms, legs, feet, and hands (maybe nowadays there is more emphasis on the real thing?). But what, white people from the mainland couldn’t handle a native peoples’ traditional dance? Imagine that. Almost like an entire portion of the populace voting against their own interests. But I digress….

I have this photo in my card collection and I love it. I can see it in my mind sometimes. Lots of thoughts come to me. Her pride. Her beautiful poise. The sense I have of her uncompromising posture. You know what I see? DON’T FUCK WITH ME.

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There was a time when I did not know what the word apocalypse meant. Then, in my late teens, I suppose I felt embarrassed or ashamed. I am older now and I realize that I will always be learning new words if I am lucky. The older I get, the less well I seem able to retain them. But guess what, my turtle doves? My memory is improving of late.

I thought that all of my friends who grew up with church or religion, who went to Sunday School and who had Confirmations, the Catholics, almost the whole lot of them (this was Ohio, after all, chock full of Catholics), all knew all of the stories and words from the Bible, New and Old Testament. I realized at some point that I knew more than they. It was all a sham. They did not know how to spell apocalypse, nor its etymology. They didn’t know what Jesus said, what the Jews said. They did not know any of it. I still wonder what people do in Sunday School if not learn these stories. I do not know what real testament is for anyone and I think most people don’t know this for themselves.

Each time I become anemic, the wear and tear on my face is more dramatic. This time I look older. Though I approach 50, I have some mistaken notion that my youthful body will last. The flesh of my face will stay. The frown lines, which aren’t so much from frowning as exhaustion, grow more pronounced. I used to push up on the apples of my cheeks with the thumb and middle fingers of one of my hands when I was driving in the car (safer than texting!), but now I’ve forgotten to try.

I wrote a bit of something just now, some words gathered around from tonight and before. There are problems, so many problems. I usually refrain from saying what they are, but now, I will tell.

There is the title which is pretentious, but which I like anyway. I like the Dutch vanitas paintings and I like the Latin.

There is always the overdoing, the more than I need. But that is what blogging poems is for. To pare down later.

There is the mixing of metaphors or images. There is the land and earth and there is the sea. But I love them both and I am not confused, only enthusiastic.

There is this which harkens to another poem, one which remains incomplete in my computer. The barn and the harvest, the emptiness and me.

There are the too many and the mixing images, again, of the body and death. This is what yoga is for and this is how the poem takes shape.

And there is stealing. Or snatching. Sneaking the words that came before, sometimes knowing whose, sometimes only vaguely.

Here you go. Here are the words.

Memento Mori

After I am vaporized
the imprint of my body will remain
flattened on the wooden slats
the barn
barley-filled

swing  open  the  gate
swing  open  the  gate

After the apocalypse, the burning off
I am drained of blood
my skin deflated
my bones a fine powder

My skin sinks
but finally

I  remember
I  remember

It boils down
to this

Goldenrod, my ovaries
the shining
harvest
in the hollow
of my groin

I  remember

the coiled snake
the quaking stalk
the base of my spine

Plough  the  ocean  blue
Plough  the  ocean  blue

*

Tonight, I got to hear Tim Eriksen play in a small coffee/deli/bakery in downtown Amherst, The Black Sheep. (The Black Sheep, btw, was one of the first things that caught my eye and attracted me to Amherst. OH! the bakeries. OH! the bookstores. OH! the bakeries. OH! the bookstores).

I have been in Amherst since August of 2000. I have put down a few roots. I can feel them.

I have been singing shape note since August of 2004. I am rooted in tradition.

I didn’t go to this particular concert, The Newport Folk Festival, in late summer 2006. I wanted to but somehow didn’t manage it. Tim organized a big group of people from our local Sacred Harp sing. Here is one of the things they did on the big stage. He played it tonight at the end of the concert and we all sang again. This is NOT a song from the Sacred Harp, by the way. It’s something Tim likes to refer to as “Northern Roots Music.”

And just so you know, my turtle doves, I don’t believe in the apocalypse.

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I SWEAR I’m still here. All of me. Okay, the old me and some added fat which means parts of me are new.

I have no idea what I’ve been doing with my time.

dishes, yes. hours and hours of dishes.

cleaning and laundry. a little bit of time, but it adds up. hanging up and folding and putting away clothes, even with a tiny bit of help from the kids. it all adds up. you know this.

trying to sleep for as many hours as possible after 11 pm (until 6:30 am), some tossing and turning, some restless, but about 7 a night. sometimes a few catching up in the a.m. (bliss bliss bliss if this can happen)

prepping and cooking food, yes. hours and hours.

buying food. not so much time.

farm share. yes, picking up farm share, but that doesn’t take too much time.

health, yes, managing my health. this takes a bit of time.

hiking, yes. yoga, yes. biking, a bit. These 3 add up. Hours and hours.

eating. yes. eating.

planning a trip to California, yes. This takes oodles of time.

But really, the real culprit is Facebook Scrabble. Which just crashed, right as I was posting a 30-point word. This is how I find myself blogging.

Oh, and I’m reading Anna Karenina, but I’m only on page 60-something after about a week-and-a-half, so that’s not it. All those patronyms do take extra getting used to.

learning my lines. for this show. this takes a lot of time. learning lines is hard. for me. no one else but me.

my mother. enough said.

two teenage daughters. (see last item)

the cat. a little bit of time a week.

marriage. this takes time. good time, but yes time or else one finds oneself not feeling so married as one would most like.

not writing poetry. not reading poetry. not submitting poetry. so, no time.

waiting. waiting takes FOREVER.

This all makes me think of Bruegel. I am not sure why. Because I am thinking of all the photos I’ve taken of the leaves. And how busy everyone seems to be in these paintings. Busy Busy Busy. My god. All of the sinners and workers. Work is all we used to have until now. Now we have online Scrabble.

These people are at a fest-i-val of some kind or other methinks. Maybe a change of seasons is being observed. Not like today when it was almost pitch dark when we finished our hike in the woods at 6:25 p.m. and now I am in my kitchen, full of lights when I should be sleeping.

Have fun, you folks, you. And PLEASE don’t vote for the bad guys. They are SUPER bad and SUPER stinky. You know of whom I speak. You need to vote for the people who will protect the peasants the most. The peasants are you and me. And who do your think will do that? Think about it because it is not Romney.

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On Friday nights, our local commercial FM radio station has Funky Fridays and last night, unusually for me, I had to do grocery shopping and errands in between having dropped my kids at the high school for a play. So I was in the car with the funk for a while.

I “danced” my ass of while I sat in the driver’s seat. At least for 6 minutes.

This one goes out to all of you hard-lovin’ GOPs. Fuck you.

If you can sit down for this one, you got no soul (Cheney-like). Remember the Dems get the FUNK VOTE and THE FUNK VOTE IS THE VOTE THAT COUNTS. 

There is another video on youtube, still the studio version, with a bit better quality to the sound, but the visuals are all Bush and Cheney and Blair and photos of the horrors of war. All of the Dems who’ve bombed people to hell have been left out. So I didn’t use that one. It was disturbing and a bit too lopsided for my taste.

DON’T FORGET TO VOTE AND DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE

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Fuck you, Lance Armstrong.

I never got one of those bright yellow bracelets because frankly, it seemed very trendy. It even smacked of wrong. Everyone with a buck seemed to have one or more. Children of privilege. Grown-ups. The more, the better. And what were they made of? Junky plastic? Yes, silicone. Thanks, LANCE, for adding to plastic in the environment. Did you make sure that the poor people in factories in poor countries were paid a living wage to make a buncha [mostly] white Westerners feel good about donating to cancer research? Pretty soon everyone had a different bracelet of a different color and pattern for every different charity under the sun. Can’t Westerners just do the right thing without pointing out that they’ve done the right thing? Can’t you donate some time or money without getting a fucking medal? Fuck you.

Look, I know you are my friends and peers. I know you mean well. But you need to question the need for this kind of thing in the future. You need to examine the impact of your little trendy bangles and baubles and “gifts” to charity. Fuck yes. Yes fuck. Fuck. Yes.

I don’t really care if Armstrong was doping. I’m not a big follower of sports. I do appreciate athleticism. I remember reading a New Yorker article many years ago about Lance Armstrong. It was impressive. He was impressive. He IS impressive, doping or no doping. I remember that he was the most studied athlete in all history. On the one hand, it makes me puke, because FUCK YOU, what about women giving birth for centuries without drugs and all that people have had to endure with no accolades? What about war and poverty? Poor people in horrible conditions. The slaves in the hulls of ships. Slaves, period. The Holocaust. But no, we have to study the length of Lance Armstrong’s femurs and throw a buttload of money all over the place to show we care. The culture is so twisted and obsessed with celebrity and sports.

Now, what I’d really like is some dope for my fucking anemia. I can’t breathe my full breath, Lance Armstrong. I was riding today and I never got my breath. Fuck you.

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(On Facebook)

YOU GUESSED IT:

SCRABBLE

These people are brutal, brutal I tell you!

I KNEW a particular random player was out for blood. Do you know how long she waited? She waited and waited and waited and she plotted and plotted. She held out for the triple word at the lower left of the board. She waited until she could take the spot for 81 points. 81 POINTS! That’s 9 squared, people (even I know that).

But guess what? She plotted and planned for so dang long that by that time, I’d beat her. I was so many points ahead that even her 81-point turn couldn’t get her ahead of me. Yeah. So let that be a lesson. I may not be the best. I may not even be a great player. But I don’t sit on my esses or my ass.

Ever since they cancelled my addiction-central game, SCRAMBLE (it was a Boggle-style word game that you could play on Facebook), I’ve been quite lost, you know. Until now.

I’m back in the addict’s corner. Bleary-eyed at midnight. My head swimming with letters. Filled with uncontrollable, sleep-depriving excitement and joy because I beat the pants of an unnamed repeat-opponent (you know who you are!) once again!

Okay, so this is not what I look like exactly. I don’t have a red shirt like this and I gave up smoking a long time ago. But if I keep up the Scrabble habit at this fever-pitch, I might have to switch to something healthier, LIKE SMOKING!

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