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Stacey Harwood shares some Hump Day Highlights at The Best American Poetry blog and links to these amazing essays!

http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2014/02/hump-day-highlights.html

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Then, the last week of May, I got an email: “Benedict Wisniewski wants to be friends on Facebook.”  Not the Benedict Wisniewski, I thought, the boy who presented me with a red plastic ring with a white knight on it in first grade and said, “Now we’re just minutes away from marriage”?  Not the Benedict Wisniewski who gave me Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Pictures At An Exhibition” album as we stood with our moms on the steps of St. John of God Church after our last graduation practice on a blue-green early summer evening, and said, “I got it at the best record store in all Chicago — Yardbird Records.  They have the best selection of bootlegs in the area.  And,” he whispered conspiratorially, “they also have head supplies!”

I didn’t know what “bootlegs” or “head supplies” were then, in 1974, but Benedict, a misfit like myself, the butt of classmates’ taunts (he for being fat, me for being skinny, both of us for being “different”), really knew music.   We both loved rock and roll with the passion of outcasts whose loneliness had been redeemed by it.  I needed to find that store.  But I’d forgotten where Ben had said it was, if he had said.  But three years later I finally found it, as my dad drove Georgie and I back from driver’s ed, and from then on I hung out there every weekend.  Then during the week.  Then I dated one of the owners: Arnie, eleven years older than me.  My mother constantly threatened a restraining order, but she needn’t have worried.   We never really dated until I was about to turn eighteen.  Our first “official” date, in fact, was May 6, 1978, a few months before I turned eighteen.  When he picked me up on the corner of 51st and Ashland (I told my mother I was going over by Georgie’s house) the digital clock in his Datsun B210 read 12:34 — our first date had commenced on 12:34, 5/6, ’78.  It would prove auspicious, too, as Arnie introduced me to the tiny but dedicated Chicago punk rock scene, centered on the north side.  He was my ticket out of the south side.  He died in 1979, at 29.  It was because of him that I learned that it was the north side, and then New York City, upon which I should set my sights if I wanted to pursue artistic goals (writer? painter? actress?).  But it was Ben who had pointed me in that direction in the first place.  And now, all these years later, I could thank him.  I wondered what this had to do with my mental state, if anything.  Deep down I knew it was probably everything.

By email we described what our lives had become:  Ben was chief operations officer at a big stock trading firm located in Chicago’s Board of Trade building, with a corner office and a staff.  In other words, he’d made it.  I was embarrassed telling him about my life — I was making less than half of half what he was making.  He’d also opted to stay at home and take care of his mother, and I felt guilty — now — about leaving my parents to go live in New York.  Wanting to connect with this living, breathing link to a past I was so desperately trying to bring back (or at least understand), I asked him if he wanted to talk on the phone.  We started talking regularly on Thursday nights, and our first conversation was about our revenge-through-success fantasies.

“My bête-noir in those days,” he said, “was that guy Johnny Grundy — remember him?  With the rotten teeth and greaser hair?  Greaser hair . . . in the Seventies!  He made fun of me every single day, tried to trip me in the hall, ripped papers out of my folders, put my books in other kid’s desks, put gum on my chair . . . he thought he was cool ’cause he was in a gang, you know?   And so, dig this: it’s years later, I’d just gotten out of college, I’d lost a ton of weight, I was working for the city so I had a damn good paycheck, and I had a date with some girl.  I was all dressed up — designer sport coat and tie, dress pants, the works — and I had my Mustang then, this little candy-apple red Mustang coupe.  Totally hot car.  Guys used to pull over at red lights and ask me about it.  And so I took it to this car wash at 60th and Western, and I pulled in and got out — this was back in the days when they drove it through the cash wash for you — and I’m standing behind the glass, watching the guys work on it, and I’m looking at this one guy and thinkin’, ‘Man, he looks familiar …’ and dammit if it wasn’t that fucking low-life Johnny Grundy!  And when they were done I went over to the car, and he kept looking at me, and I kept looking at him, and I knew he knew who I was, and he was looking at the car I was driving, and looking at how I was dressed — and he was in this raggedy old t-shirt and jeans — and I didn’t say a damn thing to him.  I just drove out of there with a big smile on my face thinking, ‘This is what happens in the real world, you son of a bitch.’  ‘Cause I was the fat boy that nobody wanted around.”

“And I was the skinny girl that nobody wanted around.”

“And now I’m sitting in my office with a view of the lake, behind a $2,000 hand-carved executive desk, with my butt firmly planted in a $500 leather chair, thinking those kids that made fun of me — where are they now?   Wiping down cars, making shit money.  And look at you: traveling around the world, reading your work in foreign countries, getting published, doing what you love … that’s what ya call payback, baby!  Don’t it feel good?”

It didn’t.  Because I wasn’t successful — I’d just forfeited a Fulbright.  I was in the middle of a nervous breakdown, and I was going to have to start my 3-week adjunct summer teaching gig in a week.  I was a mess.  Plus I still hadn’t gotten my revenge-through-success on the clique of girls who’d tormented me.  And now I was in the grip of something that was taking my last chance at even moderate success as a writer away.  I was still a loser.

During one of our conversations, Ben told me about a Facebook page created by two former St. John of God Grammar School alums.  But he said to beware — everyone was discussing the demolition of the church, which had just begun.  I’d been following the final days and closure of the church for years; my mother had sent me newspaper clippings describing the parish’s struggle to keep going despite its dwindling — and then barely existing — congregation, its famous crying Virgin Mary statue, and its final Mass in 1992.   I’d wished I’d been there for that final Mass, to see the priest and altar boys leave the altar for the last time, to have one last look at those four pious kneeling angels, the painting in the dome that had inspired such peace in my soul, and the shafts of colored light pouring in through the stained glass windows at the beginning of three months of summer.  I’d even had a crazy dream of writing a coming-of-age novel so powerful it would revive interest in our historic neighborhood (the first American grass-roots community organization, the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, had been founded there, by activist Saul Alinsky in 1939) and the archdiocese would re-open the church because of overwhelming demand from the influx of new parishioners.  I’d make the local and national news, Oprah would choose my novel for her book club, there’d be an interview with me in front of my old house.  Artists and urban pioneers would flood into the neighborhood because of the cheap rents, yuppies would follow, and newspaper articles would be describe the “new diversity,” never-before-seen on the “white flight” south side of Chicago.  I actually did write the novel — Greetings From Jag-off Land —  but the handful of agents I’d sent it to turned it down, so I shelved it and went back to writing poetry.  About joining the SJG Facebook page, I was uncertain: I didn’t know if I wanted to embellish my despair over the demolition of my life with despair over the demolition of the church.  The idea of that beautiful church with its graceful, lace-like twin spires, its high and airy vault — my childhood sanctuary — being torn apart was just too much to bear.  But curiosity got the best of me, and I joined the “St. John of God Parish and Grammar School” page.

The names of almost-forgotten, now vividly-recalled kids from various grades scrolled before me: Kubicki, Wroblewski, Dombrowski, McGuire, Glow, Walczak, Shedor, Faro.  I could see them, and many others, making their idiosyncratic ways up and down the aisles during Communion at 8 a.m. Mass: the girl who developed early and knew it, and rolled her skirt and left the first three buttons of her blouse open, the one the boys called “Bouncy”; the boy whose mother had died and whose shoes had soles that were half off, and so he dragged his feet, making a shushing sound; the tough gang girl who liked to fight, and shot dirty looks from under her blunt-cut black bangs at other girls in the pews.  The names I didn’t recognize were girls who’d gotten married, I figured, so I clicked on the links to their pages and it became clear who’d they been back then.  Two of my teachers were also there, including Mr. Urbanek, my seventh grade English teacher, my favorite, who’d first encouraged me to be a writer.   The names brought on an internalized feeling of the shape and space of the school: light brick, modern, L-shaped, two floors, long windows, two sets of red double doors along the front, and a white cement Lady of Fatima statue, with three kneeling children and a couple of sheep, on the grass behind an iron stake fence.  Inside, the shiny marble floors of Kindergartens A and B (upon which I’d napped next to Ben on a rag rug) inlaid with the alphabet, numbers, friendly animals, a clock that looked like a sun.  In all the classrooms were high, wide windows that had to be opened with a long pole, and low bookcases containing red Thorndike-Barnhardt Scholastic Dictionaries.  In front of Sister Principal’s office (where I went with Billy Peak in Kindergarten because we fought over who had colored their Thanksgiving turkey drawing more prettier) sat a big, plush German Shepherd, placed there by my classmate Melanie Rybczinski, whose mother was the principal’s secretary.  I could smell the mimeographed paper we used for cursive writing practice in the lower grades, and feel the curvy orange Palmer Penmanship Pen we used later (and also my continual irritation at not being able to make those wheat stacks look the way they were supposed to).

But also there, as I feared, were photos of the church in the process of being taken down.  At first, I couldn’t look at them, but, again, curiosity got the best of me, and there was the mural of Jesus with the children, now with nothing but clear blue sky behind it and raw plaster all around it.   The vestibule was in ruins, and rubble littered the winding staircase that led to the choir loft.  A linked youtube video, called “Goodbye, St. John of God Church,” made by the daughter of a woman who’d graduated the year before me (and whose brother had been in my class), lovingly lingered on the details of whatever remained amidst the rubble and the mold-damaged, peeling walls.  The murals of peaceful, pious, kneeling angels flanking the altar were chipped and fading behind dust and mold, though they still continued to display, to the best of their ability, and for whatever eternity remained to them, the censer, St. Veronica’s veil, the chalice and Host, and the Crown of Thorns.  (Now, I could finally see their faces and tender expressions up close — it made their imminent destruction even more tragic.)  The pews had been removed and an inflatable basketball hoop and backboard put in, and garish blue and yellow protective plastic padding covered the Stations of the Cross paintings.   A cheap digital scoreboard had been added to the wall below the choir loft — the church had been repurposed as a gym for the community center that was our old grammar school — and a sign affixed to the outside of the church read “William J. Yaeger Memorial Gym.”  The lofty white marble and gold main altar had basketball-shaped puncture holes at the bottom, and the alcove where the statue of St. John of God once stood, holding a pomegranate surmounted by a cross in his hand and looking down tenderly, bemusedly, was empty.  Remaining atop the main altar were the two white marble figures, seated, looking down protectively; they now looked down on rubble-strewn floors, and an inexplicable car tire.  The dome painting that I’d loved so much, of St. John of God ministering to the sick man, assisted by an angel holding a vessel of healing liquid and the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus seated on clouds, remained poignantly intact.  Outside, the two slender bell towers, stripped of their exterior bricks, looked like stockyards’ smokestacks.  At the end of the video was a quote: “‘What the heart has once known, it will never forget’ — Author Unknown.”

There were discussions about the church that echoed my own feelings:

— Has anyone gone back to “our” church to see how it looks? I don’t think that I can, I’m afraid my heart would break in a millon peices

— I was looking at the pictures on the site…is that a scoreboard where the choir used to be?? Wasn’t the church blessed at one point?  How can there be basketball games going on in a sacred place?!!!

— All our indestructible memories, amid the ruins . . .

— OH MY GOD!!!!!!! It’s a gym????????????????????? That is horrible!! I can’t believe someone allowed all of this to happen.

— I went past there about two months ago, showed the kids where I grew up and the size of the school compared to where they go. The church is still standing but it just looked deserted. When did they tear down the “old” school? Remember doing the plays there or using it for a lunch room?

— God bless our home.

But there was actually hope.  Reading more recent postings, I learned that St. John of God wasn’t exactly being wantonly demolished.  The beautiful Renaissance Revival facade and some of its exterior were being transported, brick-by-brick, to Old Mill Creek, Illinois, a town on the Wisconsin border, to become part of a new church, St. Raphael the Archangel.  The interior of the new church would come from another closed Chicago church.  This was something that had never been done before, apparently; the Archdiocese of Chicago had an epiphany: a recycling apotheosis.  In a photo of the new church going up, I could see the beginning of the familiar collonade that would shelter the massive front doors.  In a video, the foundation-laying ceremony included putting St. Raphael’s corner store on top of St. John of God’s.  I recognized that cornerstone — the date, in Roman numerals, had been chiseled incorrectly originally, and some smart-ass had written the proper way in underneath, in chalk.  The chalked date had been erased, and now it would apparently remain awkwardly calculated forever — I liked that.  My former fellow schoolmates were just as encouraged:

— Whew!  My childhood memories are just . . . . moving.

— Heard about this move. Sounds like a great idea and a way to continue the beauty of this church in a beautiful church.

— If by moving it it will continue to be of use, I say bravo, Archdiocese of Chicago.

— My sister already contacted the pastor at the new church and the old St John members are invited to attend the “opening ceremonies”. Thought it would be a great way for the old St John family to symbolically hand over the building to the new congregation. Any thoughts out there??

— That sounds like a great idea to attend the opening ceremonies. I would love that. Anyone else?

— Absolutely! I went past the new location recently and took these photos of the limestone bricks of “our” church waiting to be pieced together . . . Although these are waiting to be reconstructed, somehow just being among them, made me feel at home! 🙂

The shape and color of those piles of bricks brought back the palpable and familiar presence of the church.  I could feel myself, so vividly it surprised me, walking up the wide steps, standing at the entrance to the church, under the collonade, with a glance cast to the side, to the trees that surrounded the church, just about to grasp the door handle and enter the vestibule on a mild spring morning.  In the background of the photo the unmown Midwest prairie grasses and tall trees of its new home on the Wisconsin border recalled Sherman Park.  It occurred to me that the church had been moved to the kind of bucolic location that Sherman Park was designed to suggest — it had been moved to a beautiful, peaceful place, away from the violence that had been done to it.  It would never be the same without its original interior (which had been ripped wantonly away — why couldn’t those beautiful murals be saved?), but it had been moved so that it could serve a new purpose for a new community.  Had I wanted it to remain where it had been, serving no purpose except to be a useless symbol of a long-ago time?  There was something to be learned from what was happening to St. John of God: at 50, what was my purpose?  Was I just clinging to a long-ago time that could never serve a real purpose?  And hadn’t I been de-constructed recently, hadn’t my insides been ripped away?

I knew there was something to be learned from that, and that all this was in my life for a reason, but could I emotionally deal with it?  If I started posting on that page, and people responded, what other wounds would be reopened?

 

Sharon Mesmer’s most recent poetry collections are The Virgin Formica (Hanging Loose 2008) and Annoying Diabetic Bitch (Combo Books 2008). Fiction collections are In Ordinary Time and The Empty Quarter (Hanging Loose 2005 and 2000) and Ma Vie à Yonago (Hachette, in French translation 2005). Other poetry collections include Vertigo Seeks Affinities (Belladonna 2006), Half Angel, Half Lunch (Hard Press 1998) and Crossing Second Avenue (ABJ Press, Tokyo 1997). Four poems appear in the newly released Postmodern American Poetry—A Norton Anthology (second edition) Her work has also appeared in Poetry, The Wall Street Journal, New American Writing, The Brooklyn Rail, Women’s Studies Quarterly, West Wind Review, Abraham Lincoln, esque, Poets for Living Waters, and The Scream. An excerpt of her story, “Revenge,” appears in I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing By Women (Les Figues). She teaches at NYU, the New School, and online for the Chicago School of Poetics.

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Dark, Terrifying Places, and What I Learned from Leonora Carrington, Mina Loy, Lorine Niedecker and Emily Dickinson

 

To know that human beings can do evil to each other almost breaks my faith over and over again. The almost is pivotal. Part of faith is doubt and to face this is important. The paradox of beauty and terror is something I wrestle with on a regular basis. This seeming impossibility of two powerful forces calls into question all of my beliefs about humankind. To accept that there are people who can do such horror is beyond comprehension, but also, I am drawn to trying to understand.

 

For me, it was learning about the Holocaust that triggered the all-too-human terror that exists in all of us. The specific trigger is important up to a point. What matters and what lights our way along this very dark path of navigating fear is that we all feel this, we all struggle with mindless horror, and our stories all contain a memory, a trauma, an experience that stays with us throughout our lives and makes us confront our startling vulnerability and mortality. How we move through this fear, this grief, this anger, this desire for things to be different than they are defines us—we develop survival mechanisms, avoidance techniques, addictions, and also courage, strength and a deeper understanding of what it means to be part of the human race on this earth at this time.

 

Just before beginning my adolescence, I found out about the Holocaust. Not only did I find out about this horrific history, it was told to me in a barbaric and traumatic way that would haunt me for the better part of my adolescence and twenties. I was away from home for the first time, at summer camp. That same summer, my best friend decided to be best friends with another girl in our grade and left me alone, lonely and alienated, during this time when I desperately needed comfort and love. The fear and despair this all instilled in me was potent, a deep trauma that I have spent a lifetime healing. There was something of that fear that became a fear of being who I am inside, deeply, as a human being, as a living creature. This was my first intimacy with suffering.

 

For most of my pre-adolescence and into my teenage years and my twenties, I was obsessed with tragedy. I read countless books about the Weimar Republic and World War II, looked at photographs that Lee Miller took after the war, read about families that saved other families, tried to understand how this genocide of so many could happen. This dovetailed with my fascination with and adoration of tragic heroines, those women who suffered at the hand of fate and created art that was so beautiful, it set the world on fire. The fire was bright and its sparks cascaded down to earth in a silent parade of the invisible, of those who were erased, who disappeared and then reemerged in a torrent of color and dream, pain transformed into beauty.

 

Leonora Carrington’s paintings and life encapsulated all of this, her and Max Ernst’s tragic love and the deepest suffering that she bore and couldn’t bear anymore and went mad and then lived a long, long, long life after tragedy and the war, during which she continued to make sculptures and paint and set the world on fire with her beautiful creations, with her beauty. I bought tons of gorgeously plated art books on the women Surrealists and read the work of the male Surrealists, because at that time, I couldn’t get my hands on the women’s work. Then I discovered Mina Loy, who shone like a newly discovered planet in the solar system. She was my lighthouse through my twenties. She also had a tragic love life.

 

This obsession of mine with women artists who all seemed to have tragic love lives started with Emily Dickinson, whose love life can be seen as tragic, but that is not the way I see it. She made a decision to remain unmarried at a time in which that was virtually unheard of and created her life around her passion. This is not tragic. So first there was Dickinson, then Loy, bringing me to a center of my soul I had never known before. They made their own language. Then there was Carrington, whose characters and surreal settings in her paintings were like the images in my imagination and dreams. They were my soul mates and guides at a time when I did not know either of those existed.

 

In my second stint at college, I read Lorine Niedecker. Her poems and life story hit me the hardest. I cried my way through the entire semester, reading her poems, so bare and lonely and real. There was a truth in them that I had never confronted, that love and loneliness go together, that we are all alone in our deepest struggles, and that nature feels this with us, feels this for us. And that words are incantations, calling forth the hidden spheres with their music and plea.

 

Natural Light

 

These women taught me how to be myself. They taught me that feeling pain is okay. That there is beauty in the world and in the darkest times. This saved me and continues to save me. Being able to write and draw (I drew many pictures of trees and birds, sitting alone and quiet in the woods) and have hope was life-affirming and strengthened me in ways I didn’t even know at the time.

 

I think about how all of these women had tragic love lives. The four women I admire most in the world of art and language. Does that mean anything? In my time now, I don’t think so. But I used to. Those definitions of being a woman artist. What does that mean for your personal life? I used to think it meant a lot of things, including the necessity to endure pain and live a life of extended monologue superimposed on passionate dialogue, neither of which were clear or understandable. I used to think it meant being alone. At the same time, I thought it meant having an intense love affair that included bonding on a bone-soul level so that our bodies and hearts and minds were subsumed ecstatically in each other. This electric bonding happens, chemical, whatever else bonds one to another in passion.

 

Now things have evened out—I trust myself to be in a committed relationship with a man without losing myself. This has been hard-won. Crazy hard-won, as the forces exerted on women and men to lose themselves are volcanic and atmospheric. And human. What it has taught me above all is that I can survive and endure, feel deep pain and face the world, myself and others, with truth and courage. And that I can make beauty out of all of it.

 

The darkest time in my life led me to discovering the deepest beauty and courage and hope. There is hope in our actions, in our creations, in our compassion and love.

 

I have no answers to the paradoxes. I have learned to balance opposing forces for small amounts of time, struggling with them, accepting them, fighting against the darkness, entering the darkness. I have trained myself to keep coming back to that part of myself that tells me the truth. What am I feeling right now? Is this true? This is core awareness, the center of my daily life. Within this is love and washing dishes and feeling lonely and feeling cranky and being mad and ecstatic and in love and the outside world and the inside world and writing and lights.

 

All of it matters. The strange beauty and terror of life right now, right where we are.

 

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The impossible

gathers twigs–  or feet

that follow it.

 

Air

 

ethers of language

pulled taut      or released.

 

Earth on Fire, dissolved battalions

pouring metal from the sky.

 

The battle begins

on the afternoon of the full moon

on beds of grass and wild flowers.

 

Our Love    grows in its belly.

 

Beasts tear   at the fierce opening

until we are bruised.   And then

 

Language lifts us up

reversing gravity —-

 

into a startled leaf bed

born in silence.

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IMG_1697

 

A biologist defines life, or determines it, by a series of divergent paths–the capability to think for one’s self, or sentience. Nocturnal soil is one such life. This takes into account leaves and how green they are and how they train towards sunlight to survive — there is a survival mechanism, a live instinct, to survive. It’s mechanical in the way it is physically embodied and requires the use and presence of musculoskeletal or similar systems. The error of life can never be. We are all patterned forms of the inevitable.

 

You never know what is going to lead to writing or orgasm so you follow all suits: quartz, hearts, spades, arrows, diamonds, clubs, pentacles, staves, swords and cups.

 

The road is stained dirt-red and the sky is onyx. The opacity projects a feeling of endurance — the endurance of darkness and light, palomino, unanswerable. The mystic insouciance. These mystic sounds from under the carpet or sidewalk; the truth is out there.

 

A moored, feathered balloon. (tethered)

 

But then you are left alone with food and you eat as if you’ve starved for forty years. The incalescence of horror fills your eyes.

 

One must read and write. One has mists and, from them, sun. One has pulmonary return and flowering lymph nodes.

 

You have clarified grammar. That is, where the dead are buried, because it’s like words, you think you’re in a song but the trees are dark and disappear like water. I am so far down. The tongue of the water is cold and I am deep into it, into this lake. I am a pattern of forests destroyed by fire; — the fires are natural, you say, in distress of all the ashtrays you left burdened by cigarettes and ashes. You left me.

 

The dead are hungry.

 

IMG_1698

 

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haloandrays

Wissahickon

 

            for Olivia

 

The poet in the field measures distance with a magnet.

 

A poet at the front. Observe, kneel down.

 

I chew gum to drown out the maddening hum gathering in the streets. I’ve been reading too much Walter Benjamin. My theory of the world: to bring it closer, as close as I can stand, and run it through thermography. That is, testing its heat. See what’s alive and dead. How much visible illumination does the machine need to see blood or the heart or muscles working in movement?

 

The dark lights as light gathers.

 

August 26.

 

So it will burn—

 

Back home.

 

My dream, lived.

 

Please, don’t become a ghost. The others ghostly are not as apparent in the treehaze, brambly browns and earth encroaching on green shapes. Don’t disappear into the ether, or the earth. Stay with me in this magic that we created in so short a time that the web we wove glistens brightly with its dampdrenched cartographies, sudden attachments and movements of the heart, unmoored,- moor here, with your eyes a boat the mountains, love, moor here.

 

Café Bustelo coffee in a French press, made in a kitchen where the light burned out. So much white stars. Not white, gold. Not gold, silver. Not silver, sky dominating the visible. East Falls. So much treesun along the Wissahickon.

 

This idea of home; windswept & angels

 

So it will burn—

 

August 25.

 

What started in sadness emerges from gray, a fog stung by the sparks of phosphorescent insects- peace arises in the body, in the heart; even still with a headache and strong coffee and nostalgia heavy with sorrow; a Plutonian world of the past where so many things happened and could have happened and the trajectory took us somewhere else; a fortified, old brick house with a magic gate; a bronze plaque on a tall metal post announcing the historic man who occupied its dense rooms.

 

Magical fate is not so much magical or fateful but an orrery of choices made over a lifetime. Still there are these constellations, permutations, responses to circumstances that create where we are now. Then riding through Philadelphia, the stunning string of coincidences that I myself have wrought shines and staggers —

 

Habitation

 

I have finally found my place with you. With all of you in that my intention to spread beauty and be loving and accepting is accepted and appreciated in return. I keep seeing the same house in my mind, beautiful wood floors gleaming in tons of sunlight. Lots of light, windows overlooking a yard, green and lovely, and the mountains. The mountains are the crux of this scene, the center, the heart center. That’s how it comes to me but who knows how it will come in life. Family is here, dense and shadowy and, suddenly, passing a window, drowning in light, white and gold with exposure. It is warm and peaceful and lively, and quiet, too.

 

Life in the Miraculous Present.

 

I have found the form. The form is sleep in broad daylight, fastened by the hours, coming into the Holy Time of the year, but all is holy. All is sacred in the dream and in life. We have long forgotten the rupture between Night and Day, Dream and Reality. These notes mean nothing. They don’t exchange one darkness for another. They don’t betray. Calmly, we enter the vestibule. We are forgiven. Charmed clocks and tinker toys. Correspondences with precision. The argument is the absurdity of progress—along a line of questioning that precedes true doubt. To doubt is to love. We doubt the consistency of our lover’s madness for us.

 

The world is enough. Cutlery and hoard of salmon. There is enough with the wife and son in the yard. We reach into it with progress—to delineate time in a deeper way. Our thoughts mechanize. We are en route to the dream of night. So many things die. I have forgotten the world. I remember the world. The enigma and compactness of depression. The fiery knoll. We are cartographers and : point of matter is where the soul exists. Every day, we are in the New Life. We enter the new day with hope and terror, already anguished from the day before, which we must leave behind to enter, once again, a new realm of experience. The Arcades.

 

We make light and beauty of it.

 

There is only ever kindness. When you don’t believe this, look deep into your own heart and see what’s there. Past the hurts and fears, the deeper you go, there’s love and compassion.

 

One swallow doesn’t make a summer. – says someone in Downton Abbey

 

There Has To Be Beauty.

 

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I was tagged by Susana Gardner, mermaid of Rhode Island.

….SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/batman916/Desktop/EndofSuffering.doc: : : …….

“”Unsolicited blurb:magnetizedfield: “We called ourselves howrse, stars shining velvt poured fourth from hearts aching for sound. I am deliverance —and”””

What is the working title of the book? For the poetry manuscript, The End of Suffering or Autobiography of Love; for the sci-fi/fantasy novel, Bird Diaries, I: Waiting for the Nightjar

Where did the idea come from for the book? Both stories began with the premise that we can all be somewhere else, as someone else, but still ourselves, and that the notion of fated placement in a particular period in history is questionable. Being born at a certain time and place is frighteningly random. Concerns about history and heritage, the blood-knowledge that comes from ancestral experiences play into the narrative of both stories. Also, thinking about relationships and solitude and how the two exist together and communicate, both in intimate relationships and communities, world and universe. Reading a lot about Western Buddhism and the application of Buddhist principles here in the West–and, personally, how Buddhist practices of mindfulness, kindness, compassion and unconditional love transform and deepen my experience. How unconditional love and compassion are ethical mandates–the power of fighting the good fight, knowing our power as citizens of a world and a planet, connected irrevocably to each other, in the face of an ever-present Apocalypse.

What genre does your book fall under? Poetry and speculative/sci-fi/fantasy fiction.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? Tilda Swinton. Jake Gyllenhaal. Vampire Bill. Spike. Mulder. Scully. Buffy.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

fortune smiles,- the obtuse perimeter regards itself to say, “Axel,: patterned, exact cut of cloth that makes us;:who we are is metronomical.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? Five years,…and counting.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? Most of the driving force to write this book came from feeling like a lucky bastard, having wound up in this century, in this country, born in fortuitous circumstances and thinking of the sheer absurdity of that luck. Also, feeling passionate love for several different men over the last ten years, traveling a lot, and then settling in of a sort, here in New York. The various dichotomies that are not really dichotomies between what seem like discrete years and times in my life, and the idea that time is cumulative, not linear. And the thread-blood blessing of every part of it is love. The realization that love underpins all phenomenological being. The crude structures of life, biology, death, physics, chemistry, are intricate spacetime measurements. Thinking about how physics relates to the density and bareness of language.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Love and sex are interesting. Parallel time and the paradox of random fate are thought-provoking.

Also: from the title poem:

There is no place that is here, ethere in the stomach, heart, lungs”

The end of suffering appears as a glow on the edge of thought-eye, the belief that at the end of the subway ride, there will be coffee and scones waiting.

My Astronomy. falls regal to the side, like a lamb’s leg.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? It’s looking for a home. 🙂

My tagged writers for next Wednesday are: Maria Damon, Kiala Givehand, Ash Smith, Errant Tiger, Michael Newton, David Hadbawnik

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In this season of so many of us going home and visiting with our families, many of our emotional triggers get engaged. It helps to pause and go inward, checking in with yourself to maintain your boundaries and center. The holidays are filled with expectations and needs. Are you expecting anything from others that you do not expect from yourself? What do you find yourself wanting from others? In what situations are you angry or disappointed? Think and meditate on what your needs are in your relationships. Fully be with them, acknowledging them, giving them as much room as they need to be seen and heard. Then ask yourself, how am I unskillful and unsuccessful in meeting these needs for myself and giving to myself? How am I skillful and successful in meeting my own needs? In what specific ways do I do this? Then widen the awareness and ask, how can I give to myself, to my loved ones, to others in my community, to the world?

Have a wonderful, love-filled, joy-filled, peace-filled holiday!

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