I think... let's pretend... that the only news today is that both of the Dems, Warnock & Ossoff, won their runoffs & it will be a BLUE Senate. That IS the important news & the coup (attempt) by tRump & his henchassholes will pass soon. Hopefully punished but tRump is truly the teflon don.
When I moved to New York, I didn't know which neighborhoods were which. I didn't know that some were safe & some not. I only knew that if I lived near the guy I was in love with, I would probably run into him regularly. After all, that was true in the town where I grew up & it didn't occur to me it wasn't a universal principle. So I found a building on First Avenue, a few blocks east of Broadway, where he lived. The super showed me an apartment. The toilet was in the hall so I said nope. The next apartment had a flat-bottom slate tub. Too weird. The third (there were at least 6 vacant apartments at the time) had the toilet in the apartment & a regular tub. I paused. He impatiently said nothing wrong with this one. So I said yes. And how often did I run into that guy? Once in 43 years, way over on the West Side.
Live to the point of tears.
~ Albert Camus (1913-1960)
This makes me want to go back to Camus, who always seemed like someone you should/could read at 19 & not as a mature person. Now that I say that, I don't know why I think that. I read The Stranger & The Plague & don't remember much except that I was impatient with them. So maybe my thought was that one should wait to read Camus till one is more worldly.
Is this the source of Kerouac's famous passage in On the Road?
The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"
Were the 50s more intense than we tend to think?
Maggie gave me the idea to write about the old days in the neighborhood so I'll see what I can remember. Early last summer, when the city was shut down, it felt a little like it did in the late 70s when I moved to NY. There wasn't anything to do, because I had no money to do anything & all I wanted to do was hang with the poets. We had all the time in the world, or so it seemed. I had a job as a messenger for Enroute, a gay-run messenger service. One hot July day, my first summer here, I had to drop off a truck (although I was almost exclusively a foot messenger) way on the West Side then walk back in the swelter to the subway. I got home exhausted, & went to sleep before dark. I woke up the next morning to no electricity & called a friend (because landlines didn't depend on electricity, which is why I kept mine till a couple years ago) to complain. He laughed & held the phone up to a transistor radio. And that's how I learned about the big blackout of 1977. I regret that missed seeing New York without lights. It was a fun day with no work, no movies, just rambling around running into people. My entire 20s seems now like a blackout.
Yay to sweeping out the old. Yay to a beautiful new calendar, leading off with snow on the land I love, my friend Steve's place in South Carolina. Yay for the Poetry Project's streaming Marathon. Yay for old friends not dead yet. Yay for more chances. Yay for having lots of ideas last night in Maggie & my personal marathon of plans for the coming year, including my 2021 motto: BUST OUT. Yay for Lefty letting me sleep in. Yay to closing the door on 2020 & welcoming 2021.
Is it really almost here? It's been 2021 in Samoa for quite a while already, also Japan, New Zealand, & Thailand as I write this. The huge country of India has only one time zone. Indian Standard Time, & it's half an hour off from the rest of the world. During the British Raj, there were two, Bombay Time and Calcutta Time, but IST has been the story since 1950 (following a riotous Battle of the Clocks). It hasn't been that long since our global system of timekeeping was imposed. There's a good excuse for being late—you're in your very own time zone. In any event, happy 2021!
Well, whadda ya know? I learned that Lefty has been training us because we have let him. We think throwing a few treats at him when he wakes me in the middle of the night will shut him up. Nope, it only encourages him to keep doing what works. So last night (on the advice of the internet), I played with him before I went to bed, wore earplugs, & ignored him when he started up in the morning. It worked a treat! He didn't start in till at least 4 & I managed to sleep till almost 5, when he threw a mug at my foot. Ouch! And that was that. I think wearing him out before bed, rather than letting him nap right before bedtime, did the trick. We are taking back control! We are the adults!
Short of sleep due to my cat having trained me to get up whenever he wants, which is earlier every day. He's shaving a half hour off the alarm clock each morning. Today it was 2 a.m. Aargh. So I'm not at my most, ahem, brilliant. All I'm doing is holding on till we can get shut of 2020. Irked that this catastrophic year added insult to injury by giving us an extra day. 2021: at least it'll be shorter than 2020. How's that for a half-assed motto?
I went to bed feeling great—I did karate both Sunday & Monday & felt loose & easy for the first time in months yesterday. I read great poetry (Yehuda Amichai), listened to great music, had good talks & sent/received meaningful messages. But man, without enough sleep, the world feels chaotic & impossible.
But is it?
It's disturbing that being on the wrong side of a couple hours sleep changes everything.
I sent in all my final 2020 invoices. PITA but it's done. What else can I do this afternoon with no bandwidth? Can I concentrate enough to read?
Didn't I have something I was leading up to when I started? Maybe. But this is where my typing fingers brought me & this is where I get off for now. Zzzzzzzzzzz.
A sound poetic training is nothing less than the science of being discontented.
~ Ezra Pound
Aw Ez, U the man. My pet peeve is ME.
Ted used to say once you're a poet you're a poet 24 hours a day & whatever you're doing, a poet is doing it. He said it to reassure me when my first book came out & it didn't explode everything, so I felt done in.
The science of being disconnected. Meaning what, that I need to keep better track of what pisses me off?
2020 has certainly been a sound poetic training.
an old woman on parade
wants a glass of ginger ale
everyone turns to see why the drums
changed their rhythm
we start again & start anew
she sings above scarred birds
whistles for luck
finds a wind harp & a stone
to start with no one's home
follows like a tree
& a mardi gras beat puts us to sleep
Doing my White Christmas dance but the best we got was a little rain.I think of my friend Steve, who has spent his life wanting snow at home on Christmas, & is still waiting. I'm thinking of friends in Norway who probably are having a koselig jule today. You can be Jewish & still long for harmony & a bright star to guide us to peace, no? In fact, if you're human, isn't this your wish? I want to say, If you're human, that is, not of the Republic party, but it's Christmas & I am full of goodwill. Maybe I'll read A Christmas Carol this afternoon....
What do witches sing while dancing round their holiday fir?
A Coven Tree Carol.
Not hard to understand how I've learned so much Norwegian from Duolingo, is it, not when you see this sort of helpful hint.
Boy, it doesn't seem that long ago that living to be 29 seemed entirely out of the question, & now here I am, married for 29 years. I must have had my seatbelt fashioned, because there's been plenty of bumps, but Johnny & I are safely still here.
One avocado on a wall, on 6th St near the river.
It ain't the 'burbs, baby.
When the moon is in the Eighth House
And Jupiter aligns with Saturn....
~ repurposed from "Aquarius," by Daniel Gibson, Robert Westerholt, Sharon J. Den Adel
I hope I get to see it but I have to say, no celestial event in my life has ever lived up to its hype. That is, the idea is cool, that it's been (in this case) 800 years since we've seen Jupiter in conjunction with Saturn & it'll be 60 years till we get the chance again. The stupid comet this summer that we looked for every night... Halley's comet that we drove all the way out to Coney Island to witness... various meteorite showers... I've never really seen any of them, even when I was looking.
The only one I did see clearly was the lunar eclipse the day the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years— October 2004, & I didn't like it one bit. I was up in the Adirondacks & found it creepy to have the moon disappear & see stars I've only heard of. Chris M mocked me for my "primitive" fear.
Nonetheless, I'll get out there tonight, though I think it'll be too cloudy for us.
Sure it's a little slushy outside, but it's glorious to look out at this. See the icicles? We did karate today next to what was shoveled to the side of a basketball court near the East River, 6 hardy & willing karatekas. The air tastes & smells right. It snowed a little (then sleeted & rained lightly, which was less pleasant). Snow is such an easy thing to love.
Two movies have come into my mind lately as I watch our president's last con—claiming fraud, he commits fraud in fund-raising post-presidency bucks.
One of the movies is Preston Sturges's terrific The Great McGinty, my first favorite Sturges film, which I saw so many times that I finally had enough. I'm not surprised that someone else got there first with an analysis. And here's a piece from 2010, long before anyone was linking the movie with you-know-who.
The other is The Producers, which also got the tRump treatment, with Jimmy Kimmel's Trumped.
Feeling the first steps away from despair... maybe....
I lay in bed last night looking out the window, watching the snow, remembering my first winter in Maine. I was 20 or 21, living at "Idiot's Point" in the little town of Prospect with 4 others. The first big New England snowstorm, one of the guys & I went for a long tramp in the pine woods, lost/not-lost, exhilarated, breathless.We came home to fresh bread & soup. I still remember tearing into that hot bread with complete satisfaction. Still one of the most vivid & happy memories of my entire life. There was probably butter.
Raygun! They union-make witty, snarky, political t-shirts, postcards, magnets & more. I get all my Midwest gear from them, & you should too! Sioux York—yeah, that's from Raygun. London: the Sioux Falls of Europe—yup, also Raygun. Practically every day they have a new item, it seems, commenting on the news or just being funny.
I can't even bear to take a photo of the almost nothing that's left after last week's fire. i know a church is not its home, anymore than the book is its words, but it's hard to see it open to the sky. That's a hard-luck block. I happened to be out very early the day of the fire, which we could smell from our apartment. Fire trucks everywhere. A guy in a cherrypicker (is that what it's called?) aiming a gigantic hose right into the church. I remember when St Mark's steeple burned in the late 70s. The only thing that might make me feel OK about 2020 is if it really does snow—I mean a LOT—this week....
Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
~ William Cowper
Isn't it both? Part of being proud of how far you've come is learning how far you have to go. When I had learned a little—of karate, of Norwegian, you nane it—the moment where I could see that I had gone from zero to 30 (say) was quickly followed by the realization that 30 was at best a very, very small portion of what there was to learn. I can be proud: I did learn something, I was no longer at dead zero. And humble: the vast unexplored world!
One of the things they say when you earn your black belt in karate is that now you know enough to begin to learn. That was astonishingly, literally accurate. Everything I had absorbed mechanically now began to make sense. Proud & humble.
On Joe's Birthday, a Collaboration with Steve Carey
or stunned with numerous local papers
where the buttered world has carried us
the ash fallen off the cigarette
in days so careless we had millions of health in the bank
just as I dreamt it
the dream of restoration
upstairs the man has come back
& all I can do is step over
a fluttering of clues
a calendar of conditions
for reappearance —
it is green all around
there is love all around
in a northern town
August 13, 2020
published December 13, 2020, on what would have been Steve's 75th birthday.
Steve Carey, Poet (1945-1989)
As a member in good standing of the Cloud Appreciation Society, I should be able to tell you what these are. I have books that ID clouds, but I don't feel like getting up to look for them. Nice, yeah?
Last night was the last class of my Norwegian course. We sang holiday songs in norsk, drank gløgg (mulled wine) (some of us), & many people displayed their Norsk holiday treasures, like nisser (gnomes) & those beautiful sweaters.
I definitely have learned a lot & am eager to start Norwegian IV in early February + talk & listen more.
I know it doesn't look like a lot, but it's more snow than we got all of last winter. I was happy to go for a walk, & didn't even mind losing my St. Paul Saints baseball cap—jamming it down over a knit cap didn't work & no luck retracing my steps. I cheered up so much being out with flakes coming down, & nice to run into Shelley on her bike. Not sure she realized it was snowing.