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Monday Quote

Poetry is a rival government always in opposition to its cruder replicas.

~ William Carlos Williams


Is this an impeachment inquiry quote? I dunno, I've just been so in love with Williams lately. I never exactly know what he means but he always inspires me. 

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Almost a new year, the chance to set things right, aim better, get on the mark. Happy New Year, l'shana tova, to all, whether or not it's your holiday. May it be a sweet & healthy new start, may you find your passion, & make a start on repairing the world.


I'll be off the next two days but a Monday Quote will magically appear nonetheless.

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In the neighborhood

Two women with 4 bags apiece, including two I could hardly budge, were at the West 4th stop, looking to get to West Canal Street. Not the F, I said, it goes to Brooklyn. I got off with them at Broadway-Lafayette, planning to help them haul their stuff upstairs to the 6 train, when they let slip that they were going to the Chinatown Bus (way east! on) Canal. I told them to get off at East Broadway. They didn't believe me, asked a man, who said East Broadway. They were headed for Cincinnati. We got back on the F. You'll have to walk a couple of blocks from the train stop, I said, can you manage? We'll have to, won't we, she side-eyed at me. No thanks at any point. Did I look like a scary New Yorker who was trying to scam them or run away with their luggage? They did not like me! The nicer I was, the more resentful & suspicious they were. 

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In the neighborhood

Someone spilled half a cup of (tepid, thank goodness!) coffee on me then said it was really my fault, that I'd bumped him while he bumped me. C'mon, manners, people! I'm the one wet & ill-smelling, just apologize for the inconvenience, yeah? 

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In the neighborhood

I sat on 5th St half-hearing then listening to (& recording pages of) this woman talk for at least half an hour (& I left while she was still on the phone). She was addressing "Detective" & telling a incident-filled tale of woe: her apartment broken into & art stolen ("I'm a well-known artist & surrounded by a lot of celebrity stuff"), which unfortunately wasn't identifiable ("people who sign their drawings are not serious artists"), her elderly parents were in the hospital, her bank account defrauded, her building broken into, her boyfriend Derek Jeter was wildly jealous ("he flipped out when any man came near me") but the Yankees didn't respond when she complained about his behavior, she also does bigtime corporate design work & was a prodigy ballet dancer ("I'm in better shape than any of them"). 


I sort of imagine the detective putting the phone down, going off for coffee, or maybe playing games & throwing in uh-huh occasionally. 


Do I sound as crazy as her when I tell people I divorced Derek Jeter & am happily remarried to Didi Gregorius? 

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Monday Quote

A writer is in the end not his [sic] books, but his [sic] myth. And that myth is in the keeping of others. 

~ V.S. Naipul


Yet another reminder that doing the work is what’s important, not worrying about what happens to it. 

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Whitney Biennial

Nicole Eisenman's ginormous, funny & desperate sculpture. I thought she withdrew her work? 


Finally made it to the Biennial, just a couple of days of days before it closed. 


I liked everything & I didn't like anything. 


I don't know what I mean by that. 


Last night I stopped by the Salmagundi Club to see the American Impressionist show. It was depressing—like a bunch of MFA poems, competent & lifeless. The Biennial was full of life but a lot of the work seemed entirely conceptual, so there was no point in actually executing the piece, or they were op-eds. It wasn't depressing but I didn't leave wanting to charge home & make art. 


Then He Who Must Not Be Named stepped on my foot & now I can't walk. 

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Poem of the Week

The Alphabet's Dilemma


For want of a bee the hive was lost

For want of the sea a ship was lost

For want of a gee the wonder was lost

For want of an I the novel was lost

For want of a jay the aviary was lost

For want of an ell privacy was lost

For want of Em Dorothy was lost

For want of a pea the soup was lost

For want of a queue no time was lost

For want of tea the afternoon was lost

For want of you I was lost

For want of a why the philosopher was lost

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Monday Quote

We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives. 

~ Toni Morrison

My birthday twin (same day not the same year!)


I hope this is true.

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Mt. Zion Temple in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, celebrated its centennial this weekend & my sister took this picture of a newspaper article about Sukkot on the prairie. 

It's hard to write a light account of a bad week. There was Buster (who's doing better! long saga); & September 11 anniversary (for some reason more talked about this year than of late); a friend with a sudden (benign!) brain tumor (diagnosed the day before they were leaving on a month-long birdwatching & Galapagos trip) (she had surgery the next day & seems like it'll be fine); & a horrific gun/domestic-violence tragedy involving a family I'm tangentially aware of (too awful to be in this list except as part of a tough week). 


Well, there was one little bright spot (right): Yours truly as a member of the largest consecration class ever at Mt. Zion. It's pretty easy to tell which kid grew up to be a pawnbroker, isn't it? I had a crush on him when I was 5 because he tanned so dark & fast. What a great trick! How'd he do that?

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Second income

That's my fency 1970s handwriting. I suppose I was trying to decide what name to use or maybe whether I would be at that address long enough to get a reply. I didn't have a first income so not sure what second income I was thinking would do me any good. And why this card turned up in a box the other day is yet another story. I moved to NYC with all my belongings in a couple of paper sacks, & I kept that? 

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A recent picture of my loving little man. 

In 2012 my beloved cat Dante died. I was devastated. We had such a bond that I didn't think I would ever love another cat as much. And along came Buster... big-hearted, loving, cuddly Buster. When Johnny was in rehab all those months, I was so relieved to have Buster to come home to. I've never known a cat with a sweeter personality. He came when I called & purred nonstop. We have had such an easy friendship. He's at the vet right now but it doesn't look good & he won't be around much longer. He's not happy right now & if some of the easy treatments don't work, we'll have to decide that hard thing. Right now I can't bear that thought of sending him on ahead of me, but I will have to, I know. A month or year, I count the hours. 

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Monday Quote

Pray for a brave heart, which does not fear death, which places a long life last among the gifts of nature, which has the power to endure any trials, rejects anger, discards desire… If we have common sense, Chance, you are not divine: it is we who make you a goddess, yes, and place you in heaven. 

~ Juvenal, (10. 357-360, 365-366), epigraph to Pray for a Brave Heart by Helen MacInnes


I love the books of spy novelist Helen MacInnes because they are wholly unmemorable, yet exciting while you're reading them. I'm rereading one now, which I only realized because I ran into a passage I had underlined. Nothing—not the characters, scenery, or situation—is familiar the second time around.


Or too familar: all the men are handsome, strong, quick-witted & educated, except for the villains who have squints or cold, cold eyes; the women are either beautiful, strong, quick-witted & educated, or plain, with cold eyes. This isn't a criticism, merely pointing out that she uses a formula, which she does very enjoyably. I've read several of her books published in 1940 or 41 & even that early in World War II she was well aware of what was going on & condemned it in no uncertain terms. We should all be so sure of the moral high ground & so willing to stay on it. 

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For Ted Berrigan

Vase by George Schneeman, collaboration by George Schneeman & Ted Berrigan, Valentine's Day 1966. 

For Ted Berrigan


We were afraid of everything except kindness. We made a cult of generosity. We slapped them silly who weren't witty or lovely. We wanted better boots, better polish, better hair. We thought about country diarists without leaving our rooms on 23rd Street. We bought one expensive handcream that someone else paid for. We knocked down screens to see a woman wash her back. We ate Krishna feast. We found soft wool undershirts on the street & said they were Patti Smith's. We called her Patti. We said Bob, & people were supposed to know we meant Dylan. We won prizes & forgot to pick them up. Our teeth broke. We checked into the hospital to rest. No one we voted for won. We were Black Jacobins. We recognized beauty & nothing else. Nothing else mattered.



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In the neighborhood.

Photo of Tom Carey & me by Joseph Carey.

It was great hanging out on the block today. Johnny ran into Uncle Father Tom Carey with Joe, so they came by & we stood on 5th street reminiscing & laughing. Then Johnny & I sat in the Village View playground & read our summer poem (Beowulf, in the Seamus Heaney translation). Coming back we ran into Sandy from Dolphin & the 6th St synagogue. When I did my laundry, I had an actual conversation with the tiny & old lady in the babushka who once walked around a tree in front of the bench where I was sitting, cursing me. I discovered she’s Hungarian but lived in Yugoslavia & her English is actually very good. The weather was late summery with a hint of hurricane. The kind of day that makes me happy without its being memorable.

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Home again II

Happy to be home, but happy to continue to sprinkle in Cuenca photos. Detail of large Illescas painting (see August 28).

I think it's that I was gone long enough that I'm entirely happy to be here. I had over 2 weeks to enjoy the beautiful city of Cuenca & it satisfied me. The weather in New York isn't the horrible heat/humidity I left & I feel strong from training at 8.200'. That's a perfect vacation, no? One you enjoy thoroughly & are happy to return from. Johnny missed me, Buster missed me, & I missed good bread. 

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Monday Quote

Everything you don't want to hear is a lie. 

~ Helen MacInnes, spy novelist of the 1940s & 50s, in Pray for a Brave Heart


How readily we wriggle out of hard truths. How easy to simply deny what's said. And believe we never heard it. 

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Home again

Clouds over Cuenca. 

Let's see. Karate in Parque de la Madre, a last stroll around the lovely city of Cuenca, an excellent $2 shoeshine & a $3.50 almuerzo (lunch) at our favorite place, & off we went in a taxi to catch a van for the 3-hour trip down the mountains to Guayaquil. Then it was a long wait in the airport, a 4-hour flight to Fort Lauderdale, a long wait in the FLL airport, & a delayed 3-hour flight to LaGuardia. Taxi & 25 hours later, I was hugging my husband & petting mi gato. (Buster's best quality is his lack of injured dignity. He was happy to see me & instantly purred, skipping the traditional feline standoffishness.) 


That was yesterday. I've unpacked, had a B&H breakfast, & plunged into the hundreds of emails that stacked up while I was gone. Manhattan was gorgeous & compelling when I flew in. Back in the life! 

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