Thursday, August 30, 2007

The waiting

When you know someone is going to die soon, the waiting curls up inside your body. It feels like a wet rag or sponge. There it expands until you think you can't take it anymore. Then the person dies. Then you are left with a black hole and nothing to fill it with.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why I am afraid of Bees

Photo taken this afternoon in our yard.

When I was little
I went into a house my
father was building.
I rocked in a little
red rocking chair he had
made me. On the
back of the chair
my father had painted
my name. I rocked very
fast. As I rocked, I hit
an empty box with my
feet. Soon I felt a terrible
pain and saw a bee climbing
slowly down into the box.
I cried as my father put
chewing tobacco over the
poison. He told me the
bee would die now because
he had planted his stinger
in me. A wasp can sting over
and over and still live, he said,
but not bees. I thought of
the bee climbing into the
darkness of the box to die,
and I was glad.

Outside the insects are screaming

Photo taken this afternoon in our yard.

August 28
Outside the insects are screaming,
"It's still summer! It's still summer!"
Bees and butterflies
work in the sunflower middles.
Butterfly, elephant-fairie, dipping
your long trunk into the blossom.
Bee, I'm afraid of you, though I know
you will not sting me.

Hector

Hector with the lazy eyes.
Hector with the lazy eyes and lazy feet.
Hector who has no job.
Hector, Hector.
Hector who is a mama's boy.
Hector who will eat at no other table than his mother's.
Hector who turns his lazy, beatific eyes to hers,
giving thanks.

Something I wrote today for a new friend (JM)

The words "tulip tree" seem unbelievably tender to me today.

Five questions that destroy you

  1. Don't you love me anymore?
  2. Why couldn't you see that? ~or~ Why couldn't you see that?
  3. What were you thinking? ~or~ What were you thinking?
  4. Didn't you hear me? Followed by, "I said..."
  5. Oh, were you serious?

Imagination

Redemptive powers of the imagination.

Destructive of the social self.

Magic

The magical unity of an image.

Today

Today was a red book bag.
Today was a black pair of socks.
Today was eight elevator rides.
Today was a cracked sidewalk.
Today was a small package in the mail.
Today was Hamlet's heart breaking.
Today was a dog with a stick,
my husband saying, "Good boy,
that's a good boy.
Yeah, that's a real good boy."

It's good to laugh


This photograph of Buddha

makes me laugh. It's good to laugh.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

In the Yard, Looking

Allen and I walked around the yard looking for monarch butterfly caterpillars. We found several and also a new cocoon. So new it was wet. Drops of liquid shone on the cocoon like jewels.

My Wild Yellow Cat


Yellow cat

Yellow cat with pale green eyes. I pet him carefully.

Dragonfly

A dragonfly hovering over a mound of gravel.

Cricket

Cricket chirping in the attic.

More birds

Yesterday, a hundred
black birds in flight.
They landed,
disappearing
in the green grass.

Today, a vulture
circling over
our field. I made
a head
count of our cats.

PW and RB

  • Read several articles in the new Poets & Writers Magazine last night. Excellent article about Junot Diaz. It took him eleven years to publish a new book after his debut fiction Drown. It was instructive and inspiring to read of how he found his next book topic. I feel I am going through a similar experience. A big topic I love and want to write about (Ohio River), but smaller voice calling to me: "Write me, write me."
  • Read Downstream From Trout Fishing in America by Keith Abbott last night. Parts of it very good; missing a lot of heart and soul, though. Maybe I'm just spoiled by Ianthe's beautiful and generous recollection of her father.

Surreal Experience


Going shopping is a surreal experience for me. Here is a collage I did to show people what shopping feels like to me. I call the collage "Taking Denise Levertov to the Mall."

A love poem

Yesterday (Saturday), I wrote a love poem for my husband and gave it to him.

Dog sleeping

When did I get used to having a gassy dog napping in my lap?

Today I bought new clothes

Today I bought new clothes. I hate shopping. I hate trying clothes on. Pushing and pulling the clothes over my tired body. I also hate spending money on clothes. I bought two pair of pants, four shirts, four pair of cotton socks, and three pair of cotton underwear. It cost $130.00. A hundred and thirty dollars just for cloth to drape around my body. Outrageous.

Dark sky

Bright green earth against dark sky to the east.

A hawk on a wire

A wire crossing the road.
A hawk on the wire.
A sentinel.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Dream I Had Last Night

I wished for
something
then walked
across the yard
and picked up
the garden
hose.

A voice
coming
out of the hose
said,
"Certainly!"

At Three in the Morning II

I am sleepy, but I
don't want
sleep

I
want
ex-
perience

I
want to
know something
but
I don't know
what I
want
to know.

Good
night.

At Three in the Morning

At three
in the morning
I think
about my
sunflowers
outside,
sleeping.

Yellow for you

My sunflowers
standing in the yard.

Today I stood among them,
another blossom.

Feet, hips,
heart.
Yellow
for
you.

My love, I am sorry you are

My love
I am sorry
you are
wounded
today.

My love
for you
is still
sweet.

Mouth

Today
in my
yard
I
kissed
a
flower's
mouth--

A sunflower--
its seeds
were hard
like
teeth.

My Ghost II

My Ghost
Goes
Through
The walls
Of my
Shame.

My ghost

Gonna give
up the ghost
if it don't
cool down
soon

Mother Teresa

She said she could not express
the state of her soul, how dark
it was, how terrible.
Her thoughts to heaven rained
down on her like sharp knives.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Quotes from Mother Teresa
"I am told God lives in me -- and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul," she wrote in one of the letters.

"Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. Love -- the word -- it brings nothing,"

In my soul, I can't tell you how dark it is, how painful, how terrible -- I feel like refusing God."

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Mind Never Rests

The Mind Never Rests. Theresa Williams. Collage.
I'm tired today. I think I'll try to rest.

A Man Standing

From the window of our truck,
A man standing at the edge of his house.
He held a gardening tool with a long handle.
The handle at a diagonal in front of his body.
At first I thought he held a guitar.

Ticks

Both sexes
are blood
feeders.
Only the female
gets greatly
distended.

Sleep

Sleep.
Like a whirlpool.
Kept pulling me in.

Good Earth

There's good
earth that hasn't
been covered. We must
build more stores.

Sunflower petals

Sunflower petals
clasped--
fingers
on a baby's
hand

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Is gone

The bar of sunlight is gone.

Leaves

  • The leaves on the green pear tree in the wind.
  • A bar of sunlight across the latch on the door. Shadows of leaves.

My Sleeves

Yesterday (Wednesday) I showed Modern Times to my Modern Poetry students. I laughed so much that my eyes filled with tears. I had to wipe my eyes on my sleeves.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Today it rained.

  • Yesterday...
  • I tore small pieces off my spinach pie and fed them to the dogs with my fingers. Each time, Sweet Pea gobbled hers down immediately. Buddha always smelled his first.
  • I reread Hamlet and remembered why I love it. I am Hamlet. I am Hamlet. I am Hamlet.
  • I sent back Season 3 disc 3 of The Sopranos (to Netflix).
  • I made my reservation for a room at Hotel De Anza in San Jose.
  • I took a bath early in the morning. I had not been to bed yet. The insects were loud outside the bathroom window. Once in a while, I heard a car on the highway.
  • Today...
  • My son Allen called today. We had a good talk. He wanted to know if I liked the CDs he let me borrow.
  • It rained, so I couldn't ride my new bike after work.
  • A young man came up to me after literature class and wondered if the detail about the torches storming the castle was in Hamlet. I said, "No, that's in Macbeth." He said, "Then Macbeth is my favorite play."

Today I had watermelon.

Today Allen fixed my supper. He cut chicken breasts into strips, breaded the strips and fried them. They were spicy and good. He stir fried vegetables and warmed spinach pie left over from yesterday. For dessert I had watermelon.

I release you...

One thing that started to bother me about my blog is that I started thinking too much about my readers.

Now, dear readers, I do love you. However, I began to worry too much about how I was dispensing information. I felt I had to present a coherent idea each time. And that began to put too much pressure on me.

I was afraid to be fragmentary or brief, for fear readers would roll their eyes and say, "She expects a comment on this?"

Therefore, I say to you, dear reader, I release you. I release you from all responsibility. You must not feel you have to comment on any of my entries. And if an entry looks esoteric, nonsensical, mediocre, tedious, or just too strange, just shrug your shoulders and go on.

I came to the conclusion that sometimes I might just want to jot down fragmentary thoughts or brief statements about what I did or saw that day. I came to this conclusion after reading Ianthe Brautigan's memoir of her father, Richard Brautigan. She reveals that Richard kept cryptic records about his days. Reading them, I was very touched. In a way, his short notes brought me closer to the man than lengthy autobiographical excursions would have. They also open me up, my mind, my heart. Hardly any adjectives, no sensory details. Just short, simple, declarative sentences. Elementary. True. Here are some examples:

Tuesday, September 2, 1975
My daughter and I talked about the FBI

Friday, September 19, 1975
I had a pleasant time with my daughter.

Friday, September 21, 1975
I had a long and very rewarding conversation with my daughter.

Friday, September 26, 1975
--We drove over to Bozeman to take my daughter to the dentist. She was in a very chatty mood.
--I went for a walk with my daughter down into the big fields, and I had a long talk with her.

Thursday, October 16, 1975
I bought a waffle iron for Ianthe, she's wanted one for a long time.

Saturday, October 25, 1975
Ianthe and I went into town and got some bulbs for planting. I want some daffodils in the spring.

The last two tug on me, in particular. It is touching to me that he bought his daughter the waffle iron. And it says something about his capacity for hope that he wanted to plant daffodil bulbs.

I am going to start posting some entries like this, and I'm going to see where the process takes me. It's an experiment. Maybe it will free my mind. I hope to discover some important truths this way.

Don't worry. You don't have to say anything at all. I release you. By releasing you, I am releasing myself.

This is one change I am making. I want to make more. More on that later.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Wave (or Hamlet's doubts)



There is an excellent book called The Wave by Morton Rhue which explains how people can be seized by forces seemingly out of their control. Such a wave--a wave of doubt--seized me prior to writing my last entry, and I gave in to it. I have such doubts from time to time. As I look at the entry now, it seems like a cry in the wilderness more than anything.




I have never been good at keeping diaries or journals. I always give them up. This journal (blog) is the only personal reflection that I have been able to keep going. I have always quit them before. They start feeling too self-conscious, they start to feel like I'm telling lies, and I start to get a little tired of myself. I figure if I'm getting tired of myself, others must be getting tired of me. I wasn't sure I had it in me to take this project through a transformation. It seemed easier just to quit.




But my personal habits are so chaotic that perhaps this is the only forum that will allow me to keep any kind of record of my being at all (other than the stories that I write, which always come first). I should keep going. I am trying to build some confidence in myself that I have things worth saying. Maybe that will come to me in time.




I am already caught in the maelstrom of school. Tomorrow I must talk about the first act of Hamlet. So I guess I better go prepare.


Hamlet was a doubter. And look how he turned out.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Changes

Drama of Life and Death. Theresa Williams. Collage.

I look back at the person I was when I first started blogging and I feel she is very different from the person I am now. Once the blog fulfilled a need I had to figure out who I was artistically. I'd pushed a book out into the world but felt lost about my where to go next with my writing. I was full of doubts. I felt bogged down in my academic work. I was trying to find myself artistically and professionally.


Lately, I've been thinking about quitting the blog. I've been thinking I don't need it anymore. I'm starting to feel grounded in my writing life. My teaching excites me in ways it hasn't for a long time. I have more ideas for stories than I will ever be able to write in a lifetime. I've found out why I write and why I write about what I write about. Many of the friends I started out with in the blogging world have disappeared. Their interests, too, have changed, and they don't come here anymore. I feel a pulling away where I once felt a strong connection to others out there. This place is visited less all the time; the comments are sparse. It may be time for a change. That may mean it's time for me to quit.
On the other hand, I don't want to be a quitter. I need to sort through my feelings about all this.

If I stay, this blog will no doubt change from what it has been. It may become more an academic exploration of subjects I'm interested in, a beginning place for some things I'd like to flesh out. It may become more about my teaching, too, than it once was. I just don't know.

I'm staying for now. I'm thinking it over. I'm thinking out loud. I probably shouldn't mention it, really, but if I don't, then I'm perpetuating a sort of lie and holding it inside myself, and that has never been good for me.


Classes start on Monday. I have finished all three of my syllabi, and there are many new people who will come into my life once again. We will go on a voyage together and hopefully create bonds, and good memories.


I am going to California in September, to Big Sur, to teach workshops at Esalen again. It was overcast today, breezy. The humidity was low, the air crisp and cool. Such days make me feel alive.


I read an entire book this afternoon and evening, something I haven't done in a long time. I've been picking up books for weeks and only been able to tolerate them in short bursts. My thoughts slide away and I have to put the books aside. But I read Ianthe Brautigan's memoir straight through today. It is about how she dealt with the suicide death of her famous father, Richard Gary Brautigan. I ordered the book after doing a short review at a book group at Library Thing called books compared. Doing the review made me curious about Richard Brautigan again. I have always felt a strange connection to him, a connection I've welcomed but that has always made me a bit uneasy, too. Doing the review and reading Ianthe's book, You Can't Catch Death, makes me want to write about the connection I have with Brautigan as an attempt to understand it.


I've met some new friends at Library Thing. I even started a group over there called Art is Life. I've looked in on message boards and groups before and have been frankly appalled at what I saw: a lot of cruelty, sniping at each other, and worthless conversation. I've never seen a group I wanted to belong to. But people at Library Thing are more like I am, I feel. I am at home there.


I'm not quitting the blog yet. I haven't decided yet what to do. That is the truth.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dragon Lady


Dragon Lady. Collage, pen & ink. 8 1/2 x 11. Theresa Williams

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Got Milk?


Got Milk? Collage. 81/2 x 11. Theresa Williams


I have a few of my collages to share; here is the first.


A good complement to this collage is the song "Cemetery Polka" by Tom Waits.

What can I say: I have been in a strange mood.


Cemetery Polka:
Uncle Vernon, Uncle Vernon,
independent as a hog on ice
He's a big shot
down there at the slaughterhouse
Plays accordion for Mr. Weiss Uncle Biltmore and Uncle William
Made a million during World War Two
But they're tightwads
and they're cheapskates
And they'll never give a dime to you Auntie Mame has gone insane
She lives in the doorway
of an old hotel
And the radio is playing opera
All she ever says is "Go to hell" Uncle Violet flew as a pilot
And there ain't no pretty girls in France
Now he runs a tiny
little bookie joint
They say he never keeps it in his pants Uncle Bill will never leave a will
And the tumor is as big as an egg
He has a mistress, she's Puerto Rican
And I heard she has a wooden leg Uncle Phil can't live without his pills
He has emphysema and he's almost blind
And we must find out
where the money is
Get it now before he loses his mind

Bridge Collapse-part 2

After looking at the comments I received on my first entry about the bridge collapse and after listening tonight to some tapes about Langston Hughes and Wallace Stevens, I finally have something to say about meaning.

I have never been afraid to cross bridges. Of course, it goes through my mind, "What if," every time I'm on a bridge. But then I calm and trust everything will be fine.

For many years, I was trusting. I took people at their word, and I trusted that the people who designed bridges knew what they were doing and had my best interests in mind. The same with leaders, people in authority, like teachers and doctors.

You live and learn. Slowly my trust began to crumble and erode. Now I fight cynicism almost every day. There's plenty to be cynical about, but I don't like feeling that way. It really bothers me. I hate it.

I've built many bridges in this life. I've tried to make meaningful connections the best way I could.

If one of my bridges should collapse, I have others. Hart Crane saw the bridge as Faustian, as a symbol of human intelligence, ability, and power, but bridges aren't forever.

Listening to the lives of poets on my tapes, I was reminded of how poets of that time were influenced by the philosopher William James.

How do we make meaning? What happens when we have the will to believe and nothing to believe in?

There are no large solutions. Truth is momentary.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bridge Collapse

I have been thinking about the collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis. I recently wrote about the Golden Gate Bridge and have been reading and reviewing Hart Crane's great poem, "The Bridge." Crane's poem heralded the wonders of the bridge. Even so, it was a symbol to him of humankind's Faustian urges. Both of these ideas seem relevant to the time Crane was writing, in the early days of the 20th Century. Now in the early days of the 21st Century we are made to understand that a vast number of bridges in the U.S. are structurally unsound.

If the bridge stood for wonder and Faustian urges nearly a hundred years ago, what does the bridge symbolize today?

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Northwest Ohio, United States
"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken

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Epistle, by Archibald MacLeish

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Fave Painting: Eden

Fave Painting:  Eden

Fave Painting: The Three Ages of Man and Death

Fave Painting:  The Three Ages of Man and Death
by Albrecht Dürer

From the First Chapter

The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

My Original Artwork: Triptych

My Original Artwork:  Triptych

Wishing

Wishing

Little Deer

Little Deer

Transformation

Transformation

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Looking Forward, Looking Back

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