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Posts Tagged ‘fleeting time’

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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The Underside of Sleep

1. verba volant

the words play tricks on us at night
fireflies flashing in a summer field

connect the letters
to spell summer
before the lake forms from the ice melt

before the hickory nuts fall open in the road

when the earth plumed sulfur

2. autumnal

sounds like tumble

the morning turns pitch
and smooth like onyx

hematite, marcasite
black-mirrored minerals
hard iron oxides

The last blood
trickles out at the wrong time of year

late summer crickets
a static
to the traffic

3. winter

Sleep sifts
like snow drifts
inside my head

When I wake
and open the doors
a mound of snow pours onto my feet

the way the beginning of darkness
pours out of me

4. carving infinity with a scalpel

I trace the sideways symbol
on the underside of my arm

the skin soft, spotless

the rain sounds like an animal

spring rushing in

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One of the definitions of submit is to yield or surrender to the will or authority of another

Yesterday, I got a rejection letter. The good thing about it is that they responded in less than a month. The bad news is that I feel crappy about it. We all know the stories, we all know we have to keep at it. We all know that within the next several months, I’ll be submitting and submitting and submitting and that I’ll get rejected until I can’t take it any more. But I ran into a poet acquaintance Thursday night and he just got his manuscript accepted. It will be published in January 2013. And it took him 10 years. And his poems are good, really good, just the way I like them.

I happen to know that submitting is one of the four responses to being attacked. It is also, obviously, the last: fight, flight, freeze, submit. It’s a funny word to use for sending poems along for consideration, especially when poets have to deal with all the levels of meaning of words: puns, double-entendres, shadings, gradations, and so on and so forth.

In a similar vein, there was an Amherst Block Party on Thursday night—a town first. One of my favorite “living statues” was there. She dons a long, old-fashioned dress, buttoned to the top, and wears a sort of bonnet on her head. She sits at a writing desk with an open book, fountain pen, and a small box in front of her. When you put money in her basket (on the ground), she opens the box and gives you a little Emily Dickinson verse scrolled up and tied with a ribbon. I mean, teeny-tiny. She is all spray-painted in a copper-ish paint. I simply love her. Failed, however, to have my camera on hand, so you’ll have to wait for another time for a photo.

#71

It makes no difference abroad,
The seasons fit the same,
The mornings blossom into noons,
And split their pods of flame.

First of all, this verse is GORGEOUS. Breathlessly gorgeous and sensuous.

It also reminds me of several Sacred Harp songs. Not so much the sentiment, because here Dickinson is not writing about death. But the words and the sounds of the vowels and the images and that time in which Emily lived. That time to which we will never return and yet to which we are bound by the same sun and moon and seasons.

These lyrics are from 1830. The song is in a major key which fills me with a strange cognitive dissonance when I sing it.

#436 Morning Sun 

Youth, like the spring, will soon be gone
By fleeting time or conquering death,
Your morning sun may set at noon,
And leave you ever in the dark.
Your sparkling eyes and blooming cheeks
Must wither like the blasted rose;
The coffin, earth, and winding sheet
Will soon your active limbs enclose.

I am not submitting yet. I’m still fighting.

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the pink petals from the cherry tree that float down every year all over my yard, across the rooftop from the back to the front and side of the house, onto the back porch and bins of recyclables. their pink color fades when it rains

soon, when the cherry tree bears its fruit, a flock of cedar waxwings will visit. They only stay a day or two. I will try to remember to let you know when they are here. Maybe when I get a new camera, which I am determined will be within the next couple of months (you may recall if you’ve been keeping up, that my camera has had a water stain smack-dab in the middle of the lens for over 2 years), I will be able to get a picture (the following is not my photo)

that I could look up on the web the weather in Shanghai, China and also find that the peach blossom celebration there ended on April 10, but that perhaps Paul and Violet will still see and smell the peach blossoms when they get there

the word frilly

things that are frilly

frittilaria even though they won’t grow around here

the search terms people use that land them at twinklysparkles. Today’s best and one of the best of all time: what is a semi brachiator

That’s all I can muster today, but if you can give a definition of semi-brachiator, without looking it up, I’ll give you bonus points. I do not know what the bonus points are for, but I will think of something in good, twinkly time, which is really the best kind of time

I thought of posting some photos that I found on google images when I searched for various word combos with frilly

if you can guess what this is, more bonus points for you

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I took my mother to the Dutch and Flemish masters exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum yesterday. She loved it and was reminded of many things from her life as a young girl in Germany.

I visited the exhibit in a hurry last week but yesterday I was able to spend a relaxed series of breaths with the paintings and I could love the ones I love for a wee bit more time. The rooms were more crowded, too, and it was fun to listen to people talk about the paintings. I liked observing and participating in this little expression of human nature. What struck me as funny was how people have a lot to say about art and what they are seeing, have lots of ideas and feelings and impressions; but as there seems to be an unspoken pressure to be right about art (as if there is some objective truth beyond each person’s interpretation), a lot of folks tended to clam up. Then again, to give the patrons the benefit of the doubt, maybe silence helps most people take in the visual, and verbal commentary detracts from this pleasure–?. Being on the verbose side myself, I thought the funnest folks were the ones who were willing to say things out loud, to ask silly questions, and to engage with their fellows and fellowines (okay I know that’s not a word, but shouldn’t it be?).

My mom and I ate lunch out, ate dinner out, walked on the beach in Gloucester, and drove around in circles at various points on our journey because I no longer use a map (thanks GPS) and because the British-voiced GPS Lady is sort of !@#$ ed sometimes in her satellite-induced calculations. I used to be a champion map-reader, but not any more, and what does it matter because, map or GPS, when you get lost in a place and come back again some day, you’ve got a better lay of the land than if you hadn’t gotten lost at all.

Thankful for yesterday with mum, then.

Thankful for this beautiful herb drying rack which I ordered on etsy a few days ago (first ever etsy purchase):

You can see that I’ve been gathering lavender and bundling it to dry; cutting a few other herbs as well to see how they’ll fare. This is something I love–the flowers and herbs in my garden. I imagine how wonderful it would be to make those lavender bundles like you see in France or in fancy, expensive gift shops all over small WASPy and affluent towns in America. How do they get the lavender to stay darkly-colored and fresh for years? I think it has something to do with boric acid and that’s a step too far for me, so my lavender eventually dries out and sort of shreds away. Like the motif of fleeting time and mortality one finds in paintings from the Golden Age of Dutch art.

Here are a few of my fave paintings, at least ones of which I could find images:

Here’s one which didn’t have any commentary attached to it, as many of the pieces did. I love it. Of all of the paintings, I think it is the most pornographic in nature (there was one other, too, a dandy man in the early stages of disrobing in his dressing room, painted in shades of ochre). It is called “Young Girl Eating Sweets.” And so she is and wouldn’t I like some of what she has? But I don’t think she plans on sharing.

And this:

Isn’t she beautiful? I think I am in love with her.

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