Wednesday, September 20, 2017


September 19, 2017

Tried not to resent going to school only for a meeting, and going early to get some work done, and discovering that half that work could not be done because others were behind in theirs. Mostly sleep other than that. I’d look more deeply into why I’m always exhausted if it were uncomfortable in any way, but the exhaustion is kind of sweet and the sleep is sweet and the waking is sweet, so motivation lags. B is pregnant, so my sister is to be a grandmother, and I a great uncle. I foresee it is a girl.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


September 18, 2017

Amazing day in class. Faust at 8 AM, then Tintern Abbey, then in the afternoon my creative writers in an odd passion over the novel Invisible Monster, which I thought was monstrous but they felt pretty much identified their lives. Had a discussion in which it was clear they felt– to a one, if I could judge by the nodding of heads–defeated by the crass consumerism and emptiness of modern times. Helpless, hopeless. Overwhelmed by the sheer power of hideous things. I felt like a child among cynics. But some wise spirit entered me and I read them Yeats’ “Lapis Lazuli” and Rilke’s “An Archaic Torso of Apollo.” The room went silent. Somebody said, “Well, that’s the real stuff,” as indeed it is. I wonder if I turned the day or if they just perceived a gap between us that could not be bridged. Three were weeping when I was done with “Lapis Lazuli.” Bless the greats. Bless the ancients. Bless wisdom which does not change. Gave them a prompt to respond to Jarrell’s “The Woman at the Washington Zoo.”

Whoring for blurbs for Peniel.

Monday, September 18, 2017


September 17, 2017

Schutz in church, then iced coffee with D and his son M who, over the last few years, has turned into D. Really quite lovely. You don’t usually see such playful harmony between a man and his teenaged son. I am to be the mentor of his senior project (writing a novella) at Irwin High. Why is fantasy the go-to of  beginning writers these days? Lack of rules? No real necessity of observation? The example of cinema, where there is almost nothing else? One reads and critiques, trying to find the proper admonition. Read Faust for the morning class. Each time it seems more brilliant. Watched French porn and could actually follow the conversation.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


September 16, 2017

Morning at the studio, where I painted well and sold a hummingbird on silver mesh background to two girls from Knoxville, one of whom wanted the painting for her grandmother. Some writing, mostly sleep and the longing for sleep. Meant to garden, but it didn’t happen. Part of the longing for sleep us fantastic, epic dreams. Giant spider haunted my living room window last night, right in the exact center, big as a fist.

September 15, 2017

Cable guy arrives, the Cable company finally agreeing that my problem lay outside the automatic menu of inquiries. He was a charming red-neck from Leicester, who took time to play with the cats. They send sweet boys on purpose so there’s nobody to blow up at. Modem fried, cablebox antique, some doo-dad loose on the utility pole. Oddly my clock radio was stricken too. The radio plays but the time is 6 hours off and cannot be reset.

Long talk with Mike, who wants a recommendation for a Fulbright to Germany. That is exactly right for him. We talked of Donne and MacDonald and Goethe, but mostly of religion. He had to fight for liberal perspectives I got pretty automatically by growing up in the UC of C.  Christ’s death necessary for atonement of our sins? Itself a grotesque and sinful thought. Sin? Not a philosophical concept but a whip in the hand. Hell? A fable told by scoundrels in order to control children. I landed soft; he came slamming in like a comet.

Constant prayer: Lord, allow me to love you.

September 14, 2017

Bought a keyboard for the Magnetic, unable to see how they could have rehearsed music in the past without one.

Smiling Mike in my 8 o’clock–who wants me to read Phantasties-- confides that he wants to drop put of school because he is not being challenged, and is forced to do busy work in most of his classes. He has a baccalaureate degree already, and returned to get a teaching license and another degree in English, so my usual advice’‘ No! Stick it out!”–was not sufficient this time. He is a bright and charming boy, and I’ll miss him. He wants to study Donne with me one on one, and I said “yes,” though we’ll see what actually happens. Donne may in fact be the gift I’ve given him.

Brahms at rehearsal last night. Paradise.

September 13, 2017

Cable continues to be out, which means I cannot work from home, and that I have strands of rage to fight through on my way out into the world. The phone reps are given exactly the most provoking thing to say to callers, that we don’t know what’s wrong, can’t tell you when it’s going to be fixed, so just be patient and hang up. My own species of rage would be placated by, “There’s a big old Oak down on Pine Street, and we’re hoping to have the problem solved by Thursday morning.” Just a little hint that they’re actually working on it and not just fielding calls. The damage here was not bad enough to require much intricacy of repair. Or if it was, they should say so. Cable companies, airlines, Congress can’t do anything, or fail to do anything, without everyone’s assuming the worst imaginable dereliction.

Mary Grant, our Chancellor, is resigning to take a better job. I’m truly sorry, and think the campus is as well. She was good for us. I can’t remember the last time I was sorry at the resignation of an administrator.

Like Data the TV robot, I have to remind myself to use contractions.