Saturday, February 25, 2006

For Junie B.

The Consequences of Death
- Pattiann Rogers

You might previously have thought
each death just a single loss.
But when a plain grey titmouse dies,
what plunges simultaneously and disappears too
are all the oak-juniper woodlands,
the streamside cottonwoods, every elderberry
bush and high spring growth of sprouted
oak once held in its eye.

And when sugar pine splits, breaks
to the ground, falling with its fiestas
and commemorations of blue-green needles,
long-winged seeds, the sweet resin
of its heartwood, there's another
collapse coincident - a fast inward
sinking and sucking back to nothing
of all those stars once kept in its core,
those clusters of suns and shining
dusts once resident in the sky of its rigid
bark and cone-scales. We could hear
the sound of that gallactic collapse as well,
if we had the proper ears for it.

And when a mountain sheep stumbles,
plummets, catapulting skull, spine,
from cliff side to crumbling rock below,
a like shape of flame and intensity
on a similar sharp ledge on the other side
of the same moment, out of our sense,
loses balance, goes blind.

Because of these torn paper-shreds
of gold-lashed wings, this spangled
fritillary's death, somewhere begind th enight
a convinced declaration of air and matter
and intention, silenced, speaks no longer
of the god of its structure.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Saying Goodbye to Delilah

Today was a heartbreaking day. Today I lost a new friend. Her name is Delilah, and she will forever be a six week old Russian Blue rat with a downy grey head, a tiny white body with a single grey dapple on her back, and a rainbow blankie she called home for two days.

I realize that to some this will be a ridiculous post, but that realization calls something deep and fundamental into question - what's a life worth? Are some lives worth more than others? Is it worth it, say, to take a two inch long pet with a horrible bronchial infection to the vet and spend $150 only to wait on pins and needles the next day while the vet tries to save her life by putting her in an oxygen chamber?

Is it worth it to be late to work so you can drive up to a hillside cemetery with a 4x4" box with a butterfly sticker on it and a tiny, extinquished life inside, then dig by the root of a tall, tall cyprus in the corner of a rough, red brick wall and bury that little box and cry so hard snot runs freely down your face, which it hasn't done since you were three?

When we pay money to a store in exchange for a new pet, we are saying, implicitly, "Yes, I am now responsible for your tiny heart and lungs, your wide brown eyes, the terrible bacteria waiting to put you to sleep so you'll never wake up, and the softest breath and tickle of fur on the back of your neck, just behind your ears. I promise to keep you safe and warm, to feed you yummy things and to be your friend until the end."

To my fiancee and I, being allowed to make this promise to Delilah was worth it. She ate oatmeal cookie crumbs, a french fry tip, one quarter of a yogurt drop and half a Regal Rat biscuit. She met our bigger girls and ran about on our kitchen table sniffing new things, including: sixx unscented votive candles, Daisy's bum, her new fleece blankie, an Amaryllis plant, my face, neck, ear and nose, Effie's bum, her flowerpot house, and Cortney's chest. She, in turn, was sniffed by Daisy, kissed repeatedly by me, whispered to by Cortney, groomed by Effie and the Amaryllis left her entirely untouched.

Bless you, sweet girl, and I hope you had sweet dreams.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Art and Life

What I want to know is: How does Carrie Bradshaw come up with all those fabulously witty, yet deep in a 'let's all make fun of how stupid that would be in real life' phrases for her column? How is it that she is able to wrap up four separate story lines into one weekly essay, and I've only got one story to follow but can't make heads or tails of it? Where's my voice-over?

As far as I'm concerned, I'm part of someone else's crazy pastiche piece, or a multi-medium collage. Or maybe I'm the artist that works on a canvas so huge I have only instinct to guide my hand and I have to trust the pattern to find its own way? If only I were that deep . . . or coordinated.

I spent the weekend with my aunts, both of whom are either recovering from or in the middle of failing marriages, and I found no clarity in learning what not to do. Instead, I find myself still frustrated by the lace, the bubbles, the pearls and glitter of my current circumstances.

There may be some convincing arguments against the typical 'suffering artist' mentality that dictates a certain degree of misery for creative people in order for them to produce, but grad school sure is a strike against that whole "people can be happy and still be great writers/painters/whatevers" argument. Even ee cummings managed to find SOME angst in his happy marriage and stable home-life.

Maybe the more accurate illustration of current circumstance is the red ball on the frictionless surface. Without anything to push against, it goes nowhere. Put a wall in front of it, and stick it on some hot tar and it still goes nowhere. There's a fine line that needs walking, there's a tight wire strung high, no net, no safety, but the thrill of making it to the other side . . . what a long time it's been since I've felt that fear. I fell asleep watching a movie this afternoon, and when I was startled awake I got such a jolt of adrenaline that my heart skipped a beat or two. The breathlessness scared me, got me thinking . . .

Forgetting how to think, walking so far off the internal path the woods have become an impossibly bright desert of strobing blindness - is this what 'growing up' and 'settling down' is all about? Whiting out all the difficult questions like "What the hell do I CARE about?"

Tonight, for the first time in years, I laid in the dark and listened to music by myself. I was fascinated by my own knee - I felt like I hadn't noticed it for years.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

That's What I Meant to Say

My Dad on Blogging:

". . . data is not intelligence, words are not wisdom. But, all things must be tried in the great flux of eternal ferment-- a sort of divine promiscuity, a bacchanale, a dionysian epidemic."


Poetics 101

So, I've been thinking:

"I can see how quickly I will forget to post anything of interest on this site."
"Why is that?" you might ask.
"Well, see, I'm supposed to be writing all the time, so the opportunity to do so online where all my friends and family can be amazed by my genius seems somehow redundant."
"Hm. Bit stuck up, aren't you?"
"A bit, yes, I think so."

And then I started thinking:

"Well, maybe people use their blogs as a sort of therapy - you know, like how all young writers think writing poetry is the best way to unload their burdened souls."
"Yeah - I hate that."
"Me too, down to my deep, deep black hole of a soul."
"Oh, stop. You're so catty."
"Yeah, but that's why we're such good friends, no? Anyway, I don't have anything to be particularly anxsty about. I mean, I didn't even break out into shingles ONCE this semester."
"Hmmmm . . . clearly, you're not a real arteest or tortured writer, willing to give up food, even shelter, for the sake of your art."
"Yeah, um, about that . . ."
"See, I don't think all artists - literary or otherwise - have to be miserable drunks, manic depressives, plain old depressed, or otherwise unstable. Take, for instance, e.e. cummings -"
"Oh not THIS example again,"
"YES, this example again. I'll just remind you that he had a perfectly respectable marriage, and grew up in a stable, happy, middle-class family. And yet . . ."
"Yes, yes: 'and yet, he's one of the most quoted poets in history, and is studied in classrooms to this day.'"
"Hm. And I'M the catty one."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


An·i·ma, n. 1. soul; life 2. (in the psychology of C.G. Jung) a. the inner personality that is turned toward the unconscious of the individual (in contrast with persona). b. the feminine principle esp. as present in men (contrasted with animus). [L: lit., that which blows (i.e. wind) or is breathed (i.e. air)]

From the breath of my thoughts to the air of your eyes, the anima is the thing. Is it the cause?

n. 2. purpose; intention; animating spirit. [L: soul, feeling, spirit, courage, passion, wrath; akin to ANIMA]

A friend gave me a pouch with three giant sequoya seeds in it when I left home.

n. 1. an idea next to another idea that gives the larger thought its anima, shows us the animus.

Great Big Things are to Such Small Beginnings
as Sequoya Seeds are to _________?
A) Tahitian Pearls
B) Chocolate Truffles
C) Jillian

So, when I write I wonder:
What small beginning begun?
What greater things come forth,
will be expected.