Tuesday, December 6, 2016


December 6, 2016

We who prayed for rain are answered with shimmering curtains of it. My pond is full to the rock rim. There’s an overflow mechanism, but I doubt it can keep up with the downpour. But I think of the bulbs and roots underground battening this away for the winter, and I rejoice.

The end-of-semester crash is upon me, and I dare not pass my bed for the desire to lie down upon it.

Conversation in the Post Office with a retired colleague. We both noted that the university has finally gotten lucky in its administrators. I’ve heard not one negative word about either the Chancellor or the Provost, and certainly never uttered one myself. It makes me wonder less why they are good than why the others were bad. The present ones don’t seem to be exerting themselves overmuch to stay on everybody’s good side. Our former leaders seemed, even while they were with us, to be going out of their way to offend and frustrate. I wasn’t in on the private councils of any of them, so can scarcely speculate, except to imagine that the present group respects the traditions of the institution, while the former had–and showed–contempt for them..

Monday, December 5, 2016


December 5, 2016

Caroled briefly at O. Henry’s after rehearsal last night. I was dreading it inordinately, but it turned out to be sweet and sad. I haven’t been there in, maybe, ten years. Looks the same.

Pipeline shut down in North Dakota, finally. Proves that intransigence works. Proves that sometimes the right side wins.

McCrory the Scum is, finally, out.

Maud stands by the window and watches for the crows. Seeing her, I fill the feeder so she has something to look at. Do I train the crows to come or do they train me to feed them? Is it Maud who trains me to provide her with diversion? This is not actually a conundrum. I began it all. They joined in, and now we dance in our circle.

Was noting in the church kitchen Sunday that K, in what is now a rather long association, never initiates a conversation with me, responding cordially if I make an overture, but never making the initial move. As the thought was passing through my head, he contradicted it by, more or less out of the clear blue, accusing me of “impatience.” I knew what he was referencing. The Boy is the end of collegiality, the end free academic speech, the end of scholarship, the end of student-oriented pedagogy, the end of peer review, the end of honesty, the end of academia as a principled pursuit, and yet in at least one circle I am to blame for being “impatient.” I try to find it all funny.

Tom the Furnace comes and fixes mine for $85. My spirits revive.

December 4, 2016


Sweet Lessons & Carols last night.

Phone call about flooding in my studio, the worst yet, and what I think may be the last straw. Someone had cut off the power because water was in all the plugs, so there I was sloshing around in the dark with cold water inches deep, canvases floating, sodden canvases collapsing against the wall, me thinking, “Allow a sign to be a sign. This should be the end of this.”

Sunday, December 4, 2016


December 3, 2016

A day at the studio, doing not much painting, but a whole lot of socializing, which is the danger when everybody gets along.  I balance in my mind the joy I find in painting with the expense and bother of a studio. I am either not very good, or people do not respond spontaneously to what I do. Would a wise man keep it up in the face of that? The same might be said of my writing. Our fate at the Phil Mechanic is uncertain. Maybe when they throw us out my decision will be made.

Turns out that two space heaters and the study gas logs heat the house as well as the furnace, and at much lower volume, though I miss the great dragon roaring in the basement, and maybe the space heaters would not keep up with a really cold night.


December 2, 2016

Heat’s off, or rather some electrical anomaly shuts the furnace off after it reaches the set temperature, which means I have to climb down into the basement to hit the reset switch (or whatever it is) whenever I want heat. The cats think this is great fun. Discovered how to work the gas fire logs upstairs, after 3 years. Found the following when I was selecting files to go on my new computer. It’s the studio log I kept when I had the tiny dark space on the Phil Mechanic mezzanine:

August 9, 2009

This is the first day I’ve actually used my office in the Phil Mechanic as an office. Wrote four poems at the cafĂ©, transcribed them here. It is quiet, cool, darkish. Telemann is on the CD. The chair is the wrong height, uncomfortable. The desk is a door that used to cut off two spaces in my house, or DJ’s, and had been languishing in the garage for as long as I had the property. The brilliant heat of the summer day is masked and diffused here. For the last hour I have been quiet as a mouse, hidden, happy. 

August 29, 2009

Working on the poetry archives, again (or still) to the sound of Telemann. I am finding ways to use this space, glad that I didn’t let it go when prudence suggested I should. High school students are meeting above, in the planning stages of a student literary magazine. Dusty, cool, dark: all in this place shall be well. 

October 17, 2009

Much has changed since the last entry. I’m typing in the numbing cold on the third floor. The season has changed, as have all other things, all equally gray and cold. I’ve moved my office off the mezzanine into my studio, which is mine alone now that Jason is moving out. His boxes are packed and stacked on the floor, a sorrow and an affront.  One day he is promising to stay at least three years; the next, an abrupt email announces he is moving out, now. It was an odd process. He fucked D’s wife, and reacted to that by developing a grudge against D and everyone else on the third floor, as though they had committed a trespass rather than himself. I cannot ask him about this, as he chose to conceal the narrative from me, and insist that D and L and the others fell short of his moral standards in some vague way, and he was cutting them off for that. David  reconciliation—I saw it with my own eyes—but Jason ignored it furiously, rudely, turning his face away as though his former friend, and the man he had wronged, were not in the room. But I love Jason and not them, so I am at a loss as to what stance to take. He has not told me the truth, so counsel cannot be given or taken. To admit to knowing without his telling me is a kind of ambush, and he does not need that now. Of course, he gave no thought to what I need. I have full financial responsibility for this place now, which doesn’t bother me, but it might have bothered him. Partnerships should not be dissolved so airily by one side. Ellen did exactly the same thing to me; I must invite this treatment in some way. In any case, suddenly I am alone, after what was, possibly, the most happy and convivial of the last twenty years. It was thoughtless and coarse and unfaithful on his part, but I can’t think of that through sadness at the bare fact of it. He said he’d meet me here this morning for coffee and to talk, but it is past 3 PM and he has not come. I am being gotten rid of, as I’ve seen him get rid of unnecessary friends in the past. I always think I’m going to be immune to my friends’ darkness, the exception to their customary violence. I could not have been very important to him, for all his protestations in the sweet past. There are certain things you don’t do to people for whom you have basic human respect, much less love. And I will say nothing, and we will go our way in silence. It was lovely for a time.

The little space heater—or two if they are both mine and one not Jason’s—will not heat this place, and I will be writing or painting for six months with the vitality gradually sucked out of me by cold.  Closing the office will save me $3000 a year. I should think of that and gloat a little. The thought is not making me happy yet.

October 23, 2009

Jason’s possessions are untouched since the last visit. I carefully edge my stuff from downstairs in around it. Telemann on the CD, barely masking the AM Country blaring from the fat girl’s studio. Stuck here for an hour while Word Perfect downloads. The boys drift in to visit, which makes me happy. I thought this room would be a blank place on everybody’s map once Jason was gone. Artists are a thoughtless bunch. Ursula has absorbed the common space in the library for her open house—where are my paintings? Gone. I know not where—and the fat girl’s crappy tunes rattle the rafters. I wonder if I can continue the direction and growth in my art of the last year with my mentor—my only mentor in my life as a painter—gone. Kevin the Special stood at my door demanding that I do something.
“I am doing something. I’m writing.”
“That’s not doing anything.”
It is unbearable; it must be borne. This list is forever lengthening.

November 4, 2009

Beethoven on the CD. The floor is quiet. Jason is gone, and a brief phone call lets me know that what is left I am meant to dispense with. The next time I come here I may actually paint. Denise threw Jason out of their new house, and he has moved operations to Tennessee, “for a while,” he says. I believe I will not see much of him from now on. I keep thinking if we were actually friends I would have known all this before an almost random phone call. Clearly I do not really know what passes between friends. Bade farewell to my little cave on the mezzanine, with some sorrow. 

November 14, 2009

Studio Stroll day, and I arrived early to redress disasters that did not happen, so I have an hour to collect my thoughts before what we hope will be the onslaught. I am alone in the biggest, brightest studio in the building, Medieval music on the CD, and I am happy. I have fought for this time, deceitfully shunning other duties. Lord, let it bear fruit. 
Virginia Derryberry has a spectacular show of frowsy goddesses in the Flood. Her interpretations of the myths are wrong, but the paintings are striking. 

The voices in the air sing “Ave Maria, gratia plena. . .”

Miss Jason. Miss Jason. 

November 15, 2009

One would like to have a way to punish studio strollers who turn on their heels at your door as though it were the contagious ward, who stick their heads in and then back out as though saving themselves at the last moment from a terrible mistake, who wander in, ignore the work and tell you what lovely light you have in the room. One wishes the red haired Adonis glassblower came by for something more than to borrow an extension cord.

Friday, December 2, 2016


December 1, 2016


Cleaned the house before the cleaning lady came. Actually worked in my office by the river for the first time. I thought I could transform old poems into new ones, and I was right. Transfigured four poem from 1975.  The spirit was there, but the technique is here. I put out peanuts, and Maud watches the great crows come to glean them, each as big as she is.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


November 30, 2016


Yeats in one class, discussions of life and art in the other. Rain, and then a softness as of springtime. I assemble my new computer with a minimum of rage.