Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Essay II

Today I got up at three a.m. to work on the essay that I started on December 12. It got shorter and tighter. I'd hoped to finish it, but I think I need to put it away and let the thoughts simmer a bit and see if anything happens to help me give it more power.

Yesterday was our youngest son's 25th birthday.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Warning: Possible spoilers.

I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button yesterday afternoon. Afterwards, I went within myself, thought about the film, dreamed about it, and, when I woke up early this morning, thought on it some more. The more I thought about it, the more complicated my thoughts got. I wanted to write some thoughts down before I got to the point of giving up trying.

It's a very good movie. Brad Pitt, who is one of my favorite actors anyway, gives a beautiful performance. All the acting is first-rate. It is a fairytale for modern times, so it draws on rich archetypes and themes.

Having just taught a course on fairy tales and modern culture at the university, I couldn't help but notice a Beauty and the Beast theme in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

I thought a lot this morning about the baby boomers and how our films have followed our generation's maturation and development. We've had our Cinderella tales (Saturday Night Fever, Pretty Woman), our Little Red Riding Hood tales (Thelma and Louise, Company of Wolves, Michael Jackson's Thriller), and also our Beauty and the Beast tales, like The Elephant Man. We've considered various beasts, such as physical disfigurement, mental illness, AIDS, race, authority (Cuckoo's Nest, Cool Hand Luke). Even Disney's Beauty and the Beast looks slant at hyper-masculinity and fear of homosexuality. (The music for the animated feature was written by a gay man who later died of AIDS.)

The baby boomers have considered every aspect of growing up, but The Curious Case of Benjamin Button gives boomers a curious outlet for its fear of aging and death. In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Brad Pitt plays Benjamin, who represents the repellent beast of old age.

Benjamin, who is born old and becomes younger as the years go on, is seen as beastly by his own father, who abandons him. From a psychological point of view, we might say the father fears his own aging and death and therefore sees his son as "monstrous." Normal children see Benjamin as strange, too, as well as women in the brothel where Benjamin loses his virginity to one sympathetic prostitute.

Benjamin grows up in a sort of old folks home, where for the most part he fits right in and learns the lessons life's impermanence. He meets Daisy when, as a little child, she visits her grandmother who lives there. Daisy sees Benjamin's beauty like no other person can--even her grandmother views him as monstrous when she catches the two children baring their souls before a burning candle in a secret place under a table.

Old age is a beast, yet in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, it is depicted as both idyllic and horrifying. In the old folks home where Benjamin grows up, there is no suffering, really, just mild indignities, usually experienced by the men (one aged man goes outside naked to raise the American flag; another man repeats again and again that he was stuck by lightening seven times). But for the most part, the old people are not in pain. The women die quietly, sometimes wearing pearls. Death is a visitor, not a horrible spectre.

Daisy's death as an old woman, though, is modern and terrible. She is in a hospital connected to tubes and her physical body is in agony. The film effectively taps into our worst nightmare. Her death happens just as Hurricane Katrina, itself a figure of death and devastation, makes landfall.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald's story begins in 1860. It is situated in the old Confederacy. However, the film begins on the day that WWI ends. This is the day that Benjamin is born. Thus he experiences the apex of his youth during the 1960s, an appropriate time setting for baby boomers.

I think that those of us who have followed Brad Pitt's career and who have loved him will feel a bit of sadness at seeing him aged. It gives you a jolt. We remember him best from Thelma and Louise, where he played a sexually charged Trickster figure. We also remember him as Achilles, the beautiful god with the fatally flawed heel who, mercifully, dies in his prime rather than suffering the debilitation of old age.

It's rather difficult to accept that Pitt is not immortal. And, furthermore, if he can age, so can we.

But The Curious Case of Benjamin Button shows us that reverse aging is no picnic, either. You still experience loss of loved ones, bodily functions, memory. You still die.

What the film says is that it is essentially how one lives that matters. Dance while you can; play the piano with your whole heart. If you aren't happy with the way your life is going, make it new: it is within your power to do that. That's not a new message, but the film finds a way to make fresh old truths. That is what art is for!

This is only a rough sketch of my ideas.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Haiku #104

Summer nest in winter tree--
I think of you tonight.
It is my dead mother's birthday.

Haiku #103

Windy night, tell me--
will the summer nest survive
in the winter tree?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Haiku #102

Bird's nest in winter tree--
In front of it
a dead leaf flutters.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Haiku #101

Fog
hanging over snowy field
makes that house almost disappear.

The Circus Animals' Desertion IV

"The Circus Animals' Desertion IV"

This is the last in my series of pictures depicting Yeats's "The Circus Animals' Desertion." This photo illustrates the last lines:

I must lie down where all ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

I chose to depict a death-in-life scene, showing the broken refuse of human dreams next to signs of new life. The poor chariot has flat tires, the circus animals are ghost-like, and the snakes devour the eggs, but many eggs do continue, and those hatch new birds. Snakes in my pictures are never bad: they are symbols of regeneration.

Yeats says that his "masterful" images of the past "grew in pure mind" but they began out of:

a mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till...

Our best work comes not from glorious themes but from that which the mind has discarded as unimportant. That is where the imagination resides, in the heart where broken images are waiting for us to make them into new art.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Circus Animals' Desertion III

"The Circus Animals' Desertion III"

In stanzas 2-4, Yeats tells us that he can do little but "enumerate old themes." In stanza 4, he says of what he has written:

It was the dream itself enchanted me:
character isolated by deed.
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love,
And not those things they were emblems of.

In my drawing, each character is isolated by a deed: walking on stilts, tug of war, balancing on a pig, training a dog to jump through a hoop. My little goat is watching with amusement from behind the curtain.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Circus Animals' Desertion II

"The Circus Animals' Desertion II"

In the first stanza of "The Circus Animals' Desertion," Yeats writes:

I sought a theme and sought for it in vain
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last, being but a broken man,
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show
...that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the lord knows what.

Yeats looks back on his former poems with an element of regret. He seems to think that, like a circus, his early work was all for show. Yeats wants to find a way back to the true heart of his work.

My little drawing is of the chariot, the lion, and the woman, as well as a few circus animals. The clownish goat is my favorite, so I will probably put him in every picture I draw in this series.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On another note: it has been so cold today. Last night, high winds shook the icy trees. All night ice shards were hurled against the house. The dogs were very upset by all the wild noise. I've never seen weather exactly like this before. It has just been a bitter, bitter night and day.

At around 7 a.m. our electricity went out and stayed off all day. It wasn't restored until almost 7 p.m. We heat with wood, so we were fairly warm, although the temperatures continued to drop through the day until it was below zero. The wind sucked the warmth out of this old house and before we knew it our pipes were starting to freeze in the bathrooms. This is not a problem we usually have. We caught the problem just in time.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Circus Animals' Desertion

"The Circus Animals' Desertion"

I wanted to do a simple drawing today with ink and colored pencils. I love folk art, and I wanted to do a drawing in that style. Doing folk art lets you be creative in such a pure and childlike way.

I based the images on a poem by Yeats called "The Circus Animals' Desertion." It is about the awful moment when inspiration deserts us, when we fear our creative life is dead. In the first stanza he writes:


I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.


In this picture, the animals represent the imagination. The people have chained a bear to a tree. The horse, which is symbolic of primal energy, has been tamed and is in service to humans. The goat and the unicorn are escaping into the sky, not only an open sky, but the night sky, a place of dreams.

Some people do not notice the animals' escape; others look into the sky and gesture to the animals longingly. The man on the horse tries to stop the animals by using force. I think each person in the picture says something about how we deal with the loss of our creative power. I remember what John Trudell said in the documentary about him: Our power comes from our relationship to life.

I may do a whole series of these and base them on different lines from Yeats's poem. I had such a good time doing this.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Haiku #100

You've slept enough--get up,
Gravitate to stove.
Embers dying--don't leave!

Haiku #99

Cold night!
Put one more log on the fire
Your bed is waiting.

Haiku #98

Outside--
Dog prints in the snow!
How lucky.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Making Christmas #2

I've been thinking about stars a lot lately; they seem to be in everything I make, whether visual or written.

Haiku #97

life is
where sky meets you
disguised as snow

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Making Christmas #1

Making your own Christmas cards is fun.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Essay

Today I have been working on an essay about a topic that is important to me. It has been a long time since I have written an essay--or should I say, finished one. I want to finish this one. My problem is keeping the topic tamed down; it always wants to run away from me in all directions.
This article exorcized a few of my demons:

Op-Ed Guest Columnist
Typing Without a Clue
By TIMOTHY EGAN

The unlicensed pipe fitter known as Joe the Plumber is out with a book this month, just as the last seconds on his 15 minutes are slipping away. I have a question for Joe: Do you want me to fix your leaky toilet?

I didn’t think so. And I don’t want you writing books. Not when too many good novelists remain unpublished. Not when too many extraordinary histories remain unread. Not when too many riveting memoirs are kicked back at authors after 10 years of toil. Not when voices in Iran, North Korea or China struggle to get past a censor’s gate.

Joe, a k a Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, was no good as a citizen, having failed to pay his full share of taxes, no good as a plumber, not being fully credentialed, and not even any good as a faux American icon. Who could forget poor John McCain at his most befuddled, calling out for his working-class surrogate on a day when Joe stiffed him.

With a résumé full of failure, he now thinks he can join the profession of Mark Twain, George Orwell and Joan Didion.

Next up may be Sarah Palin, who is said to be worth nearly $7 million if she can place her thoughts between covers. Publishers: with all the grim news of layoffs and staff cuts at the venerable houses of American letters, can we set some ground rules for these hard times? Anyone who abuses the English language on such a regular basis should not be paid to put words in print.

Here’s Palin’s response, after Matt Lauer asked her when she knew the election was lost:

“I had great faith that, you know, perhaps when that voter entered that voting booth and closed that curtain that what would kick in for them was, perhaps, a bold step that would have to be taken in casting a vote for us, but having to put a lot of faith in that commitment we tried to articulate that we were the true change agent that would progress this nation.”

I have no idea what she said in that thicket of words.

Most of the writers I know work every day, in obscurity and close to poverty, trying to say one thing well and true. Day in, day out, they labor to find their voice, to learn their trade, to understand nuance and pace. And then, facing a sea of rejections, they hear about something like Barbara Bush’s dog getting a book deal.

Writing is hard, even for the best wordsmiths. Ernest Hemingway said the most frightening thing he ever encountered was “a blank sheet of paper.” And Winston Churchill called the act of writing a book “a horrible, exhaustive struggle, like a long bout of painful illness.”
When I heard J.T.P. had a book, I thought of that Chris Farley skit from “Saturday Night Live.” He’s a motivational counselor, trying to keep some slacker youths from living in a van down by the river, just like him. One kid tells him he wants to write.

“La-di-frickin’-da!” Farley says. “We got ourselves a writer here!”

If Joe really wants to write, he should keep his day job and spend his evenings reading Rick Reilly’s sports columns, Peggy Noonan’s speeches, or Jess Walter’s fiction. He should open Dostoevsky or Norman Maclean — for osmosis, if nothing else. He should study Frank McCourt on teaching or Annie Dillard on writing.

The idea that someone who stumbled into a sound bite can be published, and charge $24.95 for said words, makes so many real writers think the world is unfair.

Our next president is a writer, which may do something to elevate standards in the book industry. The last time a true writer occupied the White House was a hundred years ago, with Teddy Roosevelt, who wrote 13 books before his 40th birthday.

Barack Obama’s first book, the memoir of a mixed-race man, is terrific. Outside of a few speeches, he will probably not write anything memorable until he’s out of office, but I look forward to that presidential memoir.
For the others — you friends of celebrities penning cookbooks, you train wrecks just out of rehab, you politicians with an agent but no talent — stop soaking up precious advance money.

I know: publishers say they print garbage so that real literature, which seldom makes any money, can find its way into print. True, to a point. But some of them print garbage so they can buy more garbage.

There was a time when I wanted to be like Sting, the singer, belting out, “Roxanne ...” I guess that’s why we have karaoke, for fantasy night. If only there was such a thing for failed plumbers, politicians or celebrities who think they can write.

Maureen Dowd is off today.

Haiku #96

Somewhere, someone
watches Perigean tides.
I watch the biggest moon of the year.

Haiku #95

Got Shankar playing
and chanting
this chill morning.

Haiku #94

Full,
one-hundred percent of full--
moonstone in gray sky

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Haiku #93

Moon waxing gibbous,
ninety-seven percent of full!
You light my path tonight.

Haiku #92

Bright moon this night--
Ghostly Shadows of branches
on snowy ground.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Haiku #91

Under Moon waxing gibbous,
seventy-five percent of full--
deer stands, waits for what?

Haiku #90

December night, listen--
John Berryman's voice
hovering over white snow.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Haiku #89

It happens
despite the clouds--
Moolight on white snow

Running with the Wolves

I had a dream last night about feeling the fullness of my creative power. It all came about as a result of having:
1. a good writing session before going to sleep
I had my laptop in front of the fire, and I was working on Chapter One of the novel. I had a clear breakthough as how I wanted this chapter to be written. It is quite different from what I had, and now the new writing is much more exciting in terms of language and depth of characterization. I entered that state where the magic happens.
2. recently discussed "Beauty and the Beast" with my students
We had discussed how "Beauty and the Beast" is about confronting our attitudes about what constitutes Beauty and Beastliness. I am a big fan of what Angela Carter did with her rewrites of fairy tales. She often allowed the wildness of animals and beasts to be manifested in women as sexual and creative energy.
3. stepped across a stack of books with Women Who Run With the Wolves on top.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The dream was about traveling. Allen and I stopped at a beautiful hotel to stay the night. The only room available for us was in a mansion far away from the main hotel. The mansion was cluttered and part of the curtains had been torn down. I think this means that my thoughts about how to organize the novel are still disorganized but that the curtains have been ripped away, exposing the light that I need to find my way. The curtains were fancy, perhaps representing the socially acceptable "barrier" I have erected between myself and the good part of my creativity.

To get to the room, we had to walk a wild path. Then for some reason I was walking alone on the path. Soon I noticed two huge, vicious wolves ahead of me. They were snarling and growling at me.

Then I did something I don't usually do in dreams (I am usually frightened and run from danger). I snarled and growled back, and the wolves retreated and let me pass.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Haiku #88

Big wind this morning,
where did you start
and where will you go?

Haiku #87

Moon waxing crescent,
Moon twenty-six percent of full,
I put my hope in you tonight.

Haiku #86

Sweet to behold--
grass dusted with snow
this windy night.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Poem

Back then I realized
everything was in him:
the nervous ants I had played with as a child,
the sad birds I had found and buried,
new landscapes,
sermons that sang to me.

Back then he dreamed the world
and I was in his dream.

Haiku #85

Where the animals sleep
this cold, rainy night--
a temple of weeds.

Haiku #84

The animals--
Where do they sleep tonight,
as you fall, Cold Rain?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Without Darkness

I sit at 2:46 in the morning in front of the fire. I work on my laptop. This represents an improvement in my writing life. When I first got the laptop in 2002 (a replacement computer for the 10 year old desktop which was hopelessly out of date), I hoped to break the writing-room habit. That didn’t happen. I plugged the laptop into an outlet in the writing room and there the laptop stayed.

Then I got my big desktop computer. I stored the laptop away, always intending to use it “in any room of the house.” The laptop didn't emerge from the drawer until I needed to take it to Provincetown.

During my stay at Provincetown, I worked exclusively on the laptop, wherever pleased me. That seems to have broken through my mental barrier.

I am thinking tonight about the coming winter, about how the days are getting shorter. It is this time of year that I really love. I have often wondered why. In my Modern Poetry class the other day we were talking about Robert Graves’ “To Juan At Winter Solstice.” That poem set off a long discussion about humans’ need to accept change.

The beautiful thing about seasons is change. In fall and winter, the trees simply shift their emphasis from their leaves to their roots, where the life force continues on. For humans, it is so hard to let go, to let change happen. We are afraid. Some lines from Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring come to mind: the smoke, when it rises, hovers at the opening in the ceiling. It doesn’t want to leave the house. It doesn’t understand that once it leaves the house that it will have the big, wide sky to live in.

I think about this almost every day. The thought obsesses me. Whitman once wrote in a poem: “Set ope’ the doors, oh soul.” The soul needs a big space to dwell in.

The long, dark winter allows me to feel that space.

Since the change back to regular time, I have felt that surprise of looking out of the window at 5:00 in the evening and seeing darkness. I feel shock, a quickness within. This inner stirring, I know, is my soul yearning to escape the confines of the house I have built for it.

Eliot once wrote:

Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

The paradox of caring and not caring is central to the creative life. The paradox cannot be understood until we learn to sit still. Can one care and not care simultaneously? Yes, and the trick is to not let the seeming contradiction tear you apart.

My experiment with writing haiku is paying greater dividends than I imagined. I set an arbitrary goal to write 100 haiku in a year. I told myself I would not worry whether they were good or bad. Basho said that a haiku is only good so long as it is on the writing desk, anyway. After the haiku is written, one mustn’t dwell on it but look forward to writing the next haiku. I think I needed to be given that kind of freedom.

Writing the haiku poems has led me to writer longer poems and to stay close to my creative life.

I have a secret battle: for some reason, I feel that when I write poetry I am being disloyal to fiction. My education has set a firm line between the two genres. My conscience says to me: You are not a poet. You will never be a poet. You should be working on your novel. You are wasting time by writing all these poems.

And yet I cannot live without poetry, without reading it, without writing it. Poetry speaks to my soul, and when I write it, I am making my soul. It must be true, as has been said by others, that the poem is a dialogue with the self and the novel (or short story) is a dialogue with others. So poems must be filling a need that prose cannot fill. But I persist in punishing myself for loving poetry. I need to work on this.

Poetry cuts deep channels within me. I remember being on the Ohio River and seeing the dredgers. They make sure the water stays deep enough for the boats to get through. They keep the river navigable. Poetry keeps my inner river navigable. Without it, the traffic stops. My imagination gets sluggish and shallow.

Rilke takes a slightly different view, one that delightfully free of self-absorption:

All the things to which I give myself
Grow rich and spend me

I take this to mean that in giving ourselves to poetry, we making our specific fears and desires universal. The collective voice grows rich and strong because of the poet’s excruciating honesty.

Lately, I crave poems. I almost feel like I will die if I can’t read a poem! And reading them makes me want to write them.

Sitting here in front of the fire, I know I need this dark time. As Theodore Roethke wrote: In a dark time, “the eye begins to see.”

Presently, my defining myth is the light in the darkness: Christmas-time, Solstice, festival of lights. When the lights shine and the quiet darkness is all around, I feel peace.

I am no longer a church-goer, but I love hymns, and the hymn that resonates for me now is: “It is well / With my soul.”

When I look at the fire, I see life. I feel life in the warmth it gives off. My spirit is at rest.

“Without Darkness, nothing comes to birth.” --Kali

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Poem

NOVEMBER NIGHT

One a.m., no moon.
Train crosses highway six.
Distant lights erase
my own cold stars.

I remember the long-ago
bright face of a child.
He had sparklers in his hands.

One a.m., no train in sight.
And distant lights
erase my own cold stars.

Poem

JERRY

Jerry lived in a trailer park,
in an eight-wide with cigarette smoke
baked into the walls by hot summers.

He was ex-army and had never
been to war. After he got cancer in his lungs,
he sometimes ate lunch at our house.

Jerry would laugh like everybody else
at a joke somebody had made.
He still smoked, and did not seem sad at all.

But at night he came to our steps, crying.
He did not see darkness as the limitless world
the soul enters at death.
For him it was a void, a swallowing.

Poem

Writing late tonight,
I have remembered the beach
at Provincetown.

Remembered standing
on the sand, listening
to voices, clanking of glasses
and plates.

I was alone.
Everyone was so far away.

Haiku #83

Shanti Mantra,
Two frolicking dogs,
November fire--how you please me!

Haiku #82

Try my soup, he said.
Don't want to, she said.
He turned--she dipped in the spoon.

Haiku #81

Forgive me,
haven't read you in so long a time,
Antonio Machado.

Haiku #80

After the wine
my chest opened its rusty doors.
Light shone between my ribs.

Haiku #79

That little cup of wine
erased all limitations.
Now things stand as before.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Haiku #78

Snowy run on three legs.
Which is the lucky leg?
How does my dog decide?

Biscuit Recipe

My biscuit recipe:

Make them for yourself and
for someone you love...

Preheat oven to 450
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter
2/3- 1 cup milk

Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center; add milk. Stir just till dough clings together. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough gently. Roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with biscuit cutter. Transfer biscuits to baking sheet. If you spray your baking sheet with Pam, the biscuit bottoms will be nice and crispy. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 or 12 minutes or till golden.

"Biscuits"--Revised

BISCUITS

Things in your house
wait patiently for you
to touch them--flour,
butter, thin air.

Cooking is an alchemy
of sadness and desire.
Do it from scratch.
You can.
You already know how.

Sift dry things
into a glass bowl.
Use more sugar
than it says.
There is not enough
sweetness in the world.

Butter must be cold.
It is like your heart,
like your hands, cold.
In your case maybe
numb, too, from loss
and grief.

Chop butter into fragments.
Yes, things go to pieces.
It has always been this way.
Consider the gods
whose flesh was torn for the people.

Add milk, about a cup of that.
It came from a mother's warm body.
Knead. Press.
Fold dough into dough.
It will become resilient, alive
beneath your hands.

The only proper shape
for biscuits is the circle,
infinity's shape,
the snake biting its tail,
the moon before it loses
itself to darkness again.

They will rise like Lazarus!
Just wait. They will.
Oh, wait.
Wait.
Just wait and see.

Friday, November 21, 2008

For Those Who Presently Don't Want to Cook

Biscuits

Not those out of a can or box
but those that come together
from raw materials you have
around the house, things
waiting patiently for you to touch them.

You will make them from flour,
butter, and thin air, these biscuits,
from an anchemy of sadness
and desire, this bread.

Maybe somebody told you once
you are not capable of making
biscuits the old-fashioned way,
probably due to some genetic
deficiency on your part. Do not listen.
Do not listen to them.
The way is ancient:
you can do it. You already know how.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt
into a clear glass bowl: sugar, too.
Put in more sugar than it says to.
There is not enough sweetness
in the world.

It is important that the butter is cold.
The butter is like your heart, maybe,
icy with rage. After all, there is a wind blowing
across some vast emptiness inside you.
Or the butter is like your hands, maybe,
which are also cold, which are also numb
from loss and grief.

Take something you usually chop with.
Cut the butter into fragments.
They will cover themselves in flour,
which is the staff of life.
Adding milk is the final step,
a cup or so of that white magic
that comes from a mother's warm body.

You must knead, now. This is the best part.
Press the dough; fold it into itself.
It will become resilient and
alive beneath your hands.

Roll the dough out.
Cut from it the most perfect circles.
The circle is the shape of infinity;
it is the shape of a snake biting
its own tail, of the moon before
it begins to lose itself to darkness again.
The fire in your oven will make them
rise like Lazarus!
They will be delicious.
Just wait, oh just wait and see.

--------------------------------------------


My biscuit recipe:
Make them for yourself and
for someone you love...

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter
2/3- 1 cup milk

Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center; add milk. Stir just till dough clings together.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough gently. Roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with biscuit cutter. Transfer biscuits to baking sheet. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 or 12 minutes or till golden
.

Haiku #77

Snow blankets earth,
piles itself around my door.
Now immense quiet of winter begins.

Haiku #76

What is this I feel now?
Slender, cold as needles--
sleet falling into my ears.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Haiku #75

I am your field,
wood, dark air,
oh luminous deer

Haiku #74

Lost and passing by you in the dark,
you remind me who I am--
luminous deer.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Haiku #73

Deer and racoon
eating beside the narrow road
this cold night

Haiku #72

Strange beyond words,
ghostly in pale headlights--
autumn deer grazing.

Haiku #71

Lacy and cold,
first snow to stay on ground--
so beautiful

Friday, November 14, 2008

Haiku #70

See cat crouching
underneath the parked car
on this rainy day?

Haiku #69

Driveway is gravel
mixed with shards
of broken plates

Haiku #68

Waning gibbous moon,
Ninety-six percent of full--
I think you're full of snow

Haiku #67

Can't wait
to step on wet leaves
this rainy day!

Haiku #66

I'd never noticed
you'd never purred--until you purred,
old yellow cat

Haiku #65

Got up this morning
to store-bought carrot cake on table--
empty house, cold house.

Haiku #64

Round ghost-moon
shines behind clouds' veil--
strange night!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gifts

I will write more about this later. I have a class in just a few minutes. Today I checked my campus mailbox and found a package from Maine containing books which are a gift from Gary Lawless who runs Gulf of Maine Bookstore. A while ago, I posted a message on the bookstore blog about having just discovered Nanao Sakaki (poet and translator of Issa's Haiku). Gary then offered to send me some books about Nanao and his poetry. I am talking "free books." I am talking about a "gift" from someone I so far barely know. It is one of things I live for--such kindnesses as this.

The books are:

Let's Eat Stars
Break the Mirror
Nanao or Never
Caribouddhism
In Ruins

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Haiku #63

In the gray field,
Something white strikes at the ground--
head of bald eagle!

Haiku #62

Cold, gray day,
husband gone for apple cider
nectar of summer

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Haiku #61

Cold weather
piggy-backs on Western Wind--
another log please!

Haiku #60

Husband tending fire ;
little dog barking for love--
morning sounds

Haiku #59

Incessant Ohio wind
please don't blow all the bright leaves
from the trees

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Haiku #58

Brown hairy stalks
jut up from leaf-strewn earth--
lilies of summer past

Haiku #57

What makes you do that--
chew on mulberry limb,
my wild little dog.

Haiku #56

Take them in--
Crossroads, apples, taste of stone--
All first things

Haiku #55

On the bush
a wad of blackberries
the birds never found

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Haiku #54

Isn't it cold?
Praying Mantis in cocoon
on bare stalk?

Haiku #53

Among green needles
Tiny juniper cones
the size of a pea

Haiku #52

Look, mouse-hunting--
Striped tail moves through tall stubble!
My little tiger cat.

Haiku #51

Moon waxing crescent
Thirteen percent of full
It's cloudy anyway

Friday, October 31, 2008

Haiku #50

Again this summer--
Fruits fell before they were ripe,
Now its leaves drop, the paw-paw

Haiku #49

Moon--waxing crescent,
Nine percent of full--
All my hope's in you

Haiku #48

Skinny college kid
white bag in hand
stumbles on sidewalk

Haiku #47

Husband returns from store
candy for me in his magic coat pocket--
I like surprises!

Haiku #46

Tonight--
What spirits roam the earth?
All Hallow's Eve

Haiku #45

First time ever--
I spoon rich ground coffee
into chili recipe

Haiku #44

Showing off its seed heads--
sedum's now purple and tough,
ready for snow

Haiku #43

Where did you come from?
Skinny October fly
on empty soup bowl

Haiku #42

October sun--
can't hide the chill
as Earth turns toward winter

Haiku #41

Look up--
I thought they had all migrated--
a lone buzzard.

Haiku #40

Bellies pink
from running through field stubble--
my little dogs

Haiku #39

Make no mistake--
on any spiritual passage
you can't fool the wind

Haiku #38

Whisper: O Lost
Te of Piglet, Tao of Pooh
Road of life and death

Haiku #37

Loosestrife, love songs,
eggs, horses, baptisms, scars--
luminous things

Haiku #36

My life
in the palm of my hand
a poem

Haiku #35

In our field, a holly--
Some bird must have planted it there
after eating seeds

Haiku #34

Five percent of full--
It will be so dark tonight,
Moon, waxing crescent

Haiku #33

Two in the morning--
put another log on the fire.
It's time for bed.

Haiku #32

Change--
Look, her husband is waiting.
Now Persephone descends

Haiku #31

Be quiet,
Persephone is telling her mother
good-bye

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Haiku #30

Why don't you get up?
Even now, your husband's cutting the wood
that will warm your house.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Haiku #29

I want a warm fire.
Cold rain falls on dark fields.
I'm on my way home

Haiku #28

Look at the streetlight.
That's how you know it's there--
October snow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Haiku #27

Four in the morning--
refrigerator cuts on
in this quiet house.

Haiku #26

Three a.m., Listen!
Window panes rattle--
black train roars through the night

Haiku #25

October surprise!
Ragged pink impatien
blooming in jade pot

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Haiku #24

Four in the morning
Outside old tabby cries
We're both sad tonight

Haiku #23

Field stubble
waits patiently for winter--
so do I

Basho

An excellent book on haiku is The Essential Haiku, edited by Robert Hass.

In this book are thoughts on haiku attributed to Basho. Reading these thoughts helps me to understand why I am coming to love haiku more and more.

1. Basho says, "the basis of art is change in the universe." A haiku is a snapshot in time.

2. Basho says, "Make the universe your companion, always bearing in mind the true nature of things." The search for the true nature of things seems to me the only pleasurable way to live.

3. Basho says, "One should know that a haiku is made by combining things." I take this to mean that the poet combines something experienced through the senses with the emotion and experience of the poet. This is the aspect of art that intrigues me most.

4. Basho says, "One must first of all concentrate one's thoughts on the object. Once one's mind achieves a state of concentration and the space between oneself and the object has disappeared, the essential nature of the object can be perceived." I have never seen a better explanation of the artist becoming part of the world in order to describe the world.

5. Basho says, "Then express it immediately. If one ponders it, it will vanish from the mind." This is what I keep telling my students. The intellect kills art.

6. Basho says that being an artist is not really a pleasurable activity. He says of poetry that it is "a fireplace in summer or a fan in winter." To really follow your art, you will have to make sacrifices in terms of comfort.

He says, "Since ancient times, those with a feeling for poetry did not mind carrying knapsacks on their backs or putting straw sandals on their feet or wearing simple hats that barely protected them from the elements. They took delight in disciplining their minds through hardship and thereby attaining a knowledge of the true nature of things."

He says, "One needs to work to achieve enlightenment and then return to the common world."

7. Basho says, "The bones of haiku are plainness and oddness." This is what I strive for in my own work--oddness, not something that is elegant or even pretty.

8. Basho says, "Haiku exists only while it's on the writing desk. Once it's taken off, it should be regarded as a mere scrap of paper." I would say that this means that the true value in the haiku is the moment when you are writing it. After that, you should be looking for the next haiku moment, not looking at your work and stroking your ego!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Haiku #22

Harmony--
black cat lapping
white cream

Haiku #21

Look like gold from here--
October-apples
rotting beneath the tree

Haiku #20

Sitting on rusty woodstove,
With his back to me,
Old gray tabby, alone in the world.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Haiku #19

On Highway 6,
less than a mile apart,
two American flags flap in the rain

Haiku #18

Cat cries at the door
Rain patters on windows
Autumn afternoon

Haiku #17

Little dogs sigh in their sleep,
awaken briefly and flap their ears--
night is long.

Haiku #16

Husband's old bones ache---
price he pays for youthful fun;
rain is coming

Haiku #15

Little whirling dervish,
my black and white dog
dances for a slice of cheese

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Haiku #14

Red sun sinking fast
Red leaves on green grass
Red blood of Autumn

Haiku #13

Windy Autumn Day
dry leaves swirl in the air
touch your hands and face

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Revision, Revision

Worked a while on the first chapter of the novel last night and today. I long had suspected the chapter was overfull, that I was dumping too much information on the reader and not developing the characters enough. I worked to remedy that, and I am happy with the changes.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Haiku #12

Little tiger cat
Jumps on door, wanting in--
It will frost tonight

Friday, October 17, 2008

Juniper madness

Original Poem (rough draft) based on fairy tale, "The Juniper Tree"

In April, on the day of her marriage,
she planted a Juniper into the wet-black ground
that was covered in robins
bobbing their heads
in search of worms.

She planted the Juniper
for want of an evergreen,
for want of something that lives
forever. She had always known
she would never live to be old.

It did not make her sad,
not very, but she wanted to
leave some mark upon the world,
even if it were only a little tree that
she had planted.

But the tree did not stay little.
It grew quickly, and by
Christmas it was the height
of three men. She decorated it with
lights, paper chains, and beautiful
glass apples that shone in the sun.
She tied seed bundles to the branches
so the cardinals would sit in the Juniper
and sing to her all day long
their sad, pretty song.

Haiku #11

"Wake up,"
Spirit said. Spirit said,
"You are the eyes of the world."

Haiku #10

Flash of yellow
Flash of sorrow next to his skin--
Good-bye Little Prince

Haiku #9

Firefly sparkles
Just at dark
The bat swoops

Haiku #8

Sun beats down
on two old drunks
Lily pads cool their heads

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Confessional

When Allen and the dogs are away and I am grading papers, I turn on the TV without sound "for company."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Haiku #7

Licking his wide paw--
Fat yellow cat
on a rusty chair

Haiku #6

Dark cupcake
cools
on white napkin

Friday, October 10, 2008

Haiku #5

Night sings to me--
Electricity--
Insects in tall grass

Haiku #4

Logs burn brightly
Two little dogs sleep back to back
October night

Haiku #3

Tree shadows
dance on door
House is so quiet

Haiku #2

Their time's running out
It's five in the afternoon!
Autumn crickets chirp

Haiku #1

New goal: in one year, write 100 Haiku.

Haiku #1

There, in our headlights
Walking down the driveway to greet us
Old black and white cat

Doodling about Issa

A Kind of Elaborate Doodling I did while Thinking about Issa in Provincetown

After finding the book of Japanese Haiku at Tim's Used Bookstore in Provincetown, I became very interested in Issa. One of my favorites of his was, and still is:

In this windy nest
Open your hungry mouth in vain
Issa, stepchild bird.

I later found a book of 45 Haiku by Issa, translated by Nanao Sakaki. Nanao Sakaki is an Issa-like, playful prophet. Sakaki believes that compassion is not something we make, that it is human nature: "Everybody has it originated in our blood," he says. Sakaki says that Issa wrote 20,000 Haiku! Out of the 20,000, he loves "maybe 200." Out of the 20,000, "maybe 10 great."

One of the 45 Haiku translated by Sakaki that I like a lot is:

Just myself
Also, one fly
--an enormous house.

It says something to me about loneliness.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Haiku

I fell in love with Haiku again when I was at Provincetown. I found two beautiful little books of Haiku, and I became especially fond of Issa.

One sings
The other will sing no more
--Cicadas of Autumn

--Issa

Trickster Tales

The students performed the tales, and we had such a good time. Some of them went all out with wigs and props. The "Talking Penis" group had me laughing so hard I was crying. They solved the obvious problem of how to portray a talking penis by having one student (the penis) situated under a table. They hung a blanket over the table so the student couldn't be seen. He kicked the table when it was his turn and shouted his lines, once in a while laughing wildly (the tale calls for it).

Trickster tales are always better performed rather than read. I think the form almost demands a performance.

I am always amazed at the creativity and talent of young people. They had only a few minutes to plan their presentations, and they did a first rate job, all of them.

I just love being a college teacher.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Juniper Tree #1


A Poem I wrote recently based loosely on the fairy tale "The Juniper Tree" ...

When I Was a Child

When I was a child,
I buried dead birds
and said prayers for them
over graves decorated
with popsicle stick crosses.

When I ceased to be a child,
my mother ate poison berries and died.
Her body was buried in the yard,
under the Christmas cedar.
I cried, but I wasn't worried.
I waited for the resurrection to happen.

One day, I put a dead bird in a box
and covered it with a lid.
I put the box on a shelf.
The next day I lifted the lid and
stopped believing in the miracle.

Another mother took my good mother's place.
She had a different understanding
of what we would be to each other.
I was no longer a child by then.
I've said it twice, and I'll say it again:
I was no longer a child by then.

Hello, death, I said, Hello.
Goodbye, Mother, Goodbye.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Talking Penis

Today in Native American Literature, I broke the class into groups and assigned each group a Trickster Tale. I told the students to plan a performance of each tale, and the students will be doing their performances tomorrow. I assigned one group the tale: "The Talking Penis."

This tale is found in American Indian Trickster Tales, edited by Simon Ortiz and Richard Erdoes. It originates from the Gros Ventre.

In the tale, Trickster hears a powerful man singing a song which brings buffalo to the people. Trickster wants to learn the song. The powerful man agrees to teach Trickster the song but warns that Trickster should not sing the song very often: "Use it only once during the hunting months." Trickster wants to show off, though, so he sings the song all the time.

"Stop singing the song," the powerful man tells Trickster, but he doesn't listen. He just keeps singing.

Then Trickster's penis starts talking. The big penis stands up and shouts: "Buffalo, do not come, stay away!"

When Trickster wants to copulate, he calls out to some girls, saying he wants to dance for them. But the penis shouts: "You girls, do not come. He only wants to abuse you! Stay away."

This happens several times: Trickster brags about things he really hasn't done, and his penis tells on him. Now he is embarrassed and wants his penis to shut up. Trickster asks the powerful man to help him, but the powerful man says he cannot. The only person who can help Trickster is a very ugly old woman. Even though Trickster does not want to, he visits the ugly woman in her tipi:

"He stays there for a long time. They did something in there. Trickster was not smiling when he came out of the ugly woman's tipi. He looked grim, but after that his penis never talked again.

"'How did the ugly woman cure you?"' a friend asked.

"'I don't want to talk about it,'" Trickster said."

It really is funny story with a clear meaning: Trickster is told not to use the song but once, but he wants to be a big shot. This tale is about Trickster being taken down, learning humility. The tale satirizes men in position of authority and power.

Of course the students were laughing and shaking their heads in wonder. It took them a while to figure out how to present the story: I can't wait to see what they do with it.

After class, I Googled "Talking Penis" and I found this delightful advertisement for condoms. Is this the new kind of Trickster Tale?

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Self

"The self must be a bridge, not a pit."

"I like to think a thing part way through and feel the rest of the way."

"To be weary of one's own individuality--is that to die?"

"How bleak and black and dead-ended can be the literal approach to experience: the eye is not enough."

--Theodore Roethke, Straw for the Fire

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Desk-Table and Vertical Writing

While I was at Provincetown, I fell into a nasty little habit of measuring progress in number of pages written.

Now that I'm home and no longer have unlimited hours to spend making pages, I'm trying to find a way to make my narrative deeper and richer. I'm doing what Andre Dubus has famously called Vertical Writing. Vertical Writing involves diving into characters' souls and using whatever might be found there to shape a story. Dubus has said that while practicing Vertical Writing, he would not move on to a new sentence until he understood completely the implications of the last sentence he had written.

When I engage in Vertical Writing, I actually lose pages. The writing becomes compressed.

In the past, I've lost much writing time during the school year and for all kinds of reasons. One reason is that I've gotten used to writing in complete aloneness in my writing room. This is a habit I fell into when the children were still here. But when I was in Provincetown, I developed the habit of using my laptop in any room that pleased me. Tonight, I did Vertical Writing on my laptop in the livingroom.

One thing that's made that easier is that one of my sons recently gave me a coffee table that opens up into a desk. I now have a place in the living room to spread out my manuscript, and a place to store it (along with the laptop) once I've finished. I found that the TV being on didn't disturb me as much as I thought it would.

I got quite a bit done tonight. I think if I hadn't worked on the laptop, I wouldn't have written earlier tonight, because I simply didn't want to leave the room that Allen was in: I didn't want to leave him alone.

It is also chilly tonight. We had a wood fire going. It was nice to be sitting in a warm room to write. My writing room is far away from the heat source. Many times in winter I've chosen not to write because the room is just too cold. Maybe I've found a way around that now.

Sometimes it's good to shed old habits.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Some points on writing

Between listening to music, working on my novel, and checking the Internet now and then this evening (O. J. Simpson is guilty, says the New York Times--the e-mail arrived not ten minutes ago), I found this article by Steven Millhauser about writing. Specifically, he compares and contrasts the short story and the novel. Some points he makes:

What the short story lacks in grandeur, it makes up for in elegance and grace. The short story is like William Blake's grain of sand: it becomes bigger than itself; it becomes bigger than the novel; it becomes as big as the universe.

The novel is exhaustive but the world is inexhaustible. The novel is ponderous. The novel is always hungry and dissatisfied; it fears coming to an end because then the world will run away from it. "The novel wants things. It wants territory. It wants the whole world."

Oh, Were you writing a novel?

Oh, was I writing a novel? I guess I was, but where has the time gone between August and October?

Tonight I looked at my 150 pages with cold eyes and decided to play around with tone. I changed the main character's name to see if I might like it better. I wrote a new beginning that is more lively than what I came home with.

I'm not afraid to start again...if it will make a better book.

Friday, October 03, 2008

AOL Redux

AOL is shutting down its journals service permanently. I came to Blogger in 2005 after AOL put ads on our journals, but I never migrated my entries. I honestly don't know if I will go to the trouble of doing that. But I did visit that old journal today. I suppose I should be grateful to AOL journals. I don't think I would have started a journal if AOL hadn't initially made it so easy. But I think it's just cynical and sad that they are shutting down that service now because it brings "no money."

Here is an entry I did at the AOL Journal just prior to the ads showing up on our journals, quite to our suprise, one fine day:

October 31, 2005
Times are busy for me right now at the university, but I wanted to do this entry before the thoughts slipped through my hands.

Of late, I've seen journalers questioning why they are keeping a journal. I've seen journals abandoned, journals put on hold, and journals searching for a new direction. Just a few entries ago, I was writing about how we are finding our tribe. Now people are questioning what their role is within the tribe. This is a good thing, it seems to me.

"Where are our moorings? What behooves us?" These are questions the poet Adrienne Rich once asked.

In searching for my mooring, I find myself always going back to the heart.

At the end of our time at Esalen, Sy Safransky, editor of The Sun, mentioned a book called After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. After I got home, I ordered the book and have just finished it. I still need to reread it and underline passages that are important to me, but I want to say something now about this book and how I think it relates to my moorings.

After the ecstasy of discovering our tribe, comes the day-to-day work of living within the tribe. Of "doing the laundry," so to speak.

In a section of the book, called "The Heart's Intention," Kornfield says that "Becoming aware of intention is a key to awakening ..." He says that it is in "small things that we fulfill the lessons of the heart. It is from our intentions that our life grows. It is in opening to one another that our path is made whole" (253).

I think that as long as we bring some kind of awareness to the table we are spreading for our Internet friends, we are fulfilling an important need. In opening up to one another, our lives are made whole.

Later in this book, Kornfield quotes E. B. White, who once said, "Every morning I awaken torn between the desire to save the world and the inclination to savor it."

I find this is exactly where my intention springs from--the tension between these two states of being. If I incline too much toward trying to save the world, my writing gets dull and preachy. If I write just to savor life, my writing loses its spiritual component, which is very important to me. I have always been drawn to authors who elevate ordinary objects to the realm of the spirit--Richard Brautigan was such a writer, so was J. D. Salinger. So, naturally, that is how I want to write, too. To do that, I have to cultivate awareness.

Richard Brautigan wrote a story called "The Kool-Aid Wino." In the story, a child found delight in making a jar of Kool-Aid. Because the child was poor, he put at least twice the amount of water into the mixture he was supposed to. But the point of the story is that when he drew the water, the spigot thrust itself out of the earth like the finger of saint. Thus, making the Kool-Aid became a ritual, a spiritual act.

That is the kind of awareness I want. That is the kind of awareness I want to bring to my writing. Even to this journal.

In my last entry, I talked about the perils of the publishing world, that uniqueness is sometimes eshewed in favor of the "tried but true."

Another idea I meant to express in that same entry was that if I begin any creative work with the goal to publish it, that piece of writing is dead from the start. That's because, for me, writing for the sake of publishing is the wrong intention.

Don't get me wrong, getting work published feels good. But I can't start there, with that intention. I have to start with the need to reveal an awareness.

All of us do writings that have clear purposes, writings that are requirements for our job, for our bread and butter. I'm not talking about that kind of writing. I'm talking about the kind of writing we do because of what's in our hearts. The kind of writing that expresses why life itself is so precious.

It is much harder to determine the purpose of heart writing. But that is indeed what we must do.

Lest you think your writing is self-absorbed or that you're being selfish by taking the time to do it, consider what Kornfield says in his book:

"Years ago Ram Dass went to his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, to ask, 'How can I best be enlightened?' His guru answered, 'Love people.' When he asked about the most direct path to awakening, his guru answered, 'Feed people. Love people and feed people. Serve the Divine in every form.'"

Remember what I told you Barry Lopez said? That sometimes a person needs a story more than food?

Kornfield then asks, "But whom are we serving?"


His answer:

"It is ourselves. When someone asked Gandhi how he could so continually sacrifice himself for India, he replied, 'I do this for myself alone.' When we serve others we serve ourselves. The Upanishads call this 'God feeding God.'"

So then, what are our moorings? What is our heart's intention? Why do we keep a journal, anyway?

For many of us it is to speak the matters of the heart.
In doing so, we feed ourselves. In feeding ourselves, we feed others. In feeding others, we get closer to the divine.


I've never had as many readers/commenters as I had at the AOL Journals. They really had a good thing going. It's too bad they couldn't see that. The Comments:

#23 Comment from deabvt Email deabvt11/11/05 5:13 AM Permalink
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Hi, TheresaI just completed a seminar with a friend of Kornfield`s, a devotee of Tibetan Buddhism. It was great.V
#22 Comment from belfastcowboy75 Email belfastcowboy7511/6/05 8:12 PM Permalink
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Theresa, I hate to see you agonizing like this. Don't you know that all you need to do is hit "align center"? Pure poetry.
#21 Comment from libragem007 Email libragem00711/6/05 8:10 PM Permalink
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"Why do we keep a journal, anyway?..""For many of us it is to speak the matters of the heart."wow...hits home!I was nodding my head in total agreement the whole time I was reading this entry.Gem :-)
#20 Comment from tsgerkin Email tsgerkin11/6/05 12:41 PM Permalink
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Okay Ms. Theresa, I love this entry only don't you think your break time is up? Hugs and smiles always,Tamara(I finally figured out how to put your link at my blog. Don't laugh, just stop by when you have a moment and say hello. We miss you!) http://tianka.blogspot.com/
#19 Comment from crashtruthgirl Email crashtruthgirl11/5/05 8:27 PM Permalink
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Theresa,> I was reading Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of> Bees at work today on> my lunch, and I came across this paragraph and had> to share: > "Where do you come from?" he asked me. This is the> number one most-asked> question in all of South Carolina. We want to know> if you are one of> us, if your cousin knows our cousin, if your little> sister went to> school with our big brother, if you go to the same> Baptist church as our> ex-boss. We are looking for ways our stories fit> together. Later Kidd says, "If you don't tell a story, it dies." > > Isn't that neat? I felt a small epiphany surge as I> read that. It's so> true! I love the connection. It makes me want to> find my own words and> write them. > > :) > Megan
#18 Comment from oceanmrc Email oceanmrc11/4/05 7:44 PM Permalink
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This is a really fine entry, Theresa. And I've always loved Jack Kornfield books, too. AND as I've been catching up on some reading tonght I'm discovering just how many of my alerts are kaput, yours included. So. . . hi there!http://journals.aol.com/oceanmrc/MidlifeMatters/
#17 Comment from ibspiccoli4life Email ibspiccoli4life11/4/05 5:53 PM Permalink
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Kornfield's book is wonderful and I love the way you conveyed some of his thoughts here. I've out and about "savoring the world" lately, but I always have ideas to write about, and I plan on getting back on the journal bus real soon (actually I just posted something new on the Blue Voice yesterday). At any rate, I love this post. Thanks for being here. dave
#16 Comment from meforevermore Email meforevermore11/4/05 1:58 PM Permalink
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Very true. I believe wholeheartedly that writing for the sake of publishing kills the work. If it isn't written from the heart, it hasn't truly been written.Lovely entry, as always lol~Lily
#15 Comment from octoberroots Email octoberroots11/4/05 1:03 PM Permalink
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I so enjoy coming hear to read your writings. You feed me, Theresa. Wonderful entry. I will be back when time allows for a second read.SINS
#14 Comment from ggw07 Email ggw0711/3/05 11:40 AM Permalink
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I watch the fall leaves rustle in their splendor and all I can do is enjoy this- Delicious thoughts!ggw07@aol.com
#13 Comment from floralilia Email floralilia11/2/05 7:54 PM Permalink
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lovely. succulent food for thought wisdom too...http://journals.aol.com/floralilia/SucculentWisdom-juicynessfromj-l/entries/1074
#12 Comment from ckays1967 Email ckays196711/2/05 7:21 PM Permalink
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In dreaming my dreams I touched your souland it surprised me to see myself there.http://journals.aol.com/ckays1967/myjourneywithMS/entries/1151
#11 Comment from gypsytrader49 Email gypsytrader4911/2/05 3:15 PM Permalink
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I have Jack Kornfield's book on tape. It was one of the great helps to me when I was first diagnosed. You reminded me that I need go back and re-listen. Listen and re-listen. Learning to do that is hard. Thanks for such a thoughful entry.KAthyhttp://journals.aol.com/gypsytrader49/ksuergiu/
#10 Comment from ckays1967 Email ckays196711/1/05 6:01 PM Permalink
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I know one thing, if I should happen upon you in a coffee shop, we would sit and talk and maybe just stare a bit at the sugar.And that would be ok.
#9 Comment from ckays1967 Email ckays196711/1/05 5:57 PM Permalink
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So then, what are our moorings? What is our heart's intention? Why do we keep a journal, anyway?For many of us it is to speak the matters of the heart.In doing so, we feed ourselves. In feeding ourselves, we feed others. In feeding others, we get closer to the divine.Humm.......speak (or write) slowly and enuciate all of your words. I sense peace here. I sense divinity.I shall linger a bit more for the taste of it.
#8 Comment from judithheartsong Email judithheartsong11/1/05 2:24 PM Permalink
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very good post Theresa. judi
#7 Comment from deabvt Email deabvt11/1/05 2:11 PM Permalink
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In doing so, we feed ourselves. In feeding ourselves, we feed others. In feeding others, we get closer to the divine.Wonderful!V
#6 Comment from deabvt Email deabvt11/1/05 1:44 PM Permalink
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You write such thoughtful essays.V
#5 Comment from courtenaymphelan Email courtenaymphelan11/1/05 2:49 AM Permalink
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Tonight I was feeling guilt. I wrote an entry...Your Worst Nightmare... a true happenstance...my readers were disapponted with the anticlimatic ending. I was disappointed I had written it at all. It was heartfelt. It was the truth. But did it edify anyone? No! It may have helped me get it iff my chest. BUT.... I wrote an epigram once to the effect "when we get something off our chest, we need to consider how it will look on someone else's ear"Thank you for this entry. If we have a responsibility to society, we certainly have one to our readers in J-Land. We never know who is thirsty, and through our own selfishness, we are not available. Love, Courtenay
#4 Comment from vxv123 Email vxv12310/31/05 11:18 PM Permalink
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I do love that picture, Theresa. I've seen it before!A heartfelt entry, my dear, and well worth reading. I have just about finished the Kornfeld book, and every page contains a piece of wisdom that has me nodding my head in understanding. And of course when he quotes my beloved Ram Dass, then I am hooked. I am re-formatting my journal, or maybe returning to the original format, and in so doing, I find I am feeding my self. This way, I can be more centered, and thereby be of more support for others. You have certainly done that for me.Love, Vicky xxhttp://www.livejournal.com/users/vxv789/
#3 Comment from bethsfrontporch Email bethsfrontporch10/31/05 8:01 PM Permalink
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"I have to start with the need to reveal an awareness. " I find I have to start with a question I want to answer. Perhaps it is the same thing. I have to write to even find out what the question is! Theresa, I especially loved this entry. --Beth
#2 Comment from sistercdr Email sistercdr10/31/05 7:21 PM Permalink
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I'm reminded once again of the spiral as a symbol for the spiritual journey, the deeper one goes into oneself, the nearer one draws to the Divine, always moving inward and outward simultaneously.
#1 Comment from tsgerkin Email tsgerkin10/31/05 5:40 PM Permalink
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Bravo Theresa! Great entry! I love your introspective thoughts and especially those at the end of this entry:"Why do we keep a journal, anyway?For many of us it is to speak the matters of the heart.In doing so, we feed ourselves. In feeding ourselves, we feed others. In feeding others, we get closer to the divine."Hugs,Tamara

RIP Hayden Carruth

I just found out that one of my favorite poets, Hayden Carruth has died due to complications from a stroke. Of his work he once said:

“My poems, I think, exist in a state of tension between the love of natural beauty and the fear of natural meaninglessness or absurdity."

I love his poem, "Ecstasy":

For years it was in sex and I thought
This was the most of it
so brief
a moment
or two of transport out of oneself
or
in music which lasted longer and filled me
with the exquisite wrenching agony
of the blues
and now it is equally
transitory and obscure as I sit in my broken
chair that cats have shredded
by the stove on a winter night with wind and snow
howling outside and I imagine
the whole world at peace
at peace
and everyone comfortable and warm
the great pain assuaged
a moment
of the most shining and singular gratification.
The Great Pain Assuaged
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Dreaming

Dreaming

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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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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

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Little Deer

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Looking Forward, Looking Back

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