Friday, October 31, 2014


October 31, 2014

Dark of Halloween morning. We did two school shows of Macbeth yesterday, to audiences which I thought were good and attentive, though people with better sight than mine saw kids texting. Enjoyed it, enjoyed my fellow stage workers. Ate donuts, which in the past years I have almost never done. The way there and back was like driving through an oven heated gold and red, though why that image occurs to me I don’t know, for it was also cool. They threaten snow for tonight. I will gather a great bouquet of the remaining (quite numerous) roses. One tree on the theater grounds is an amazing graying reddish brown.

Reading a biography of Duncan Grant.

Much of the workload at the end of the semester consists of unnecessary impositions by an administration which justifies itself by the power to demand busywork and to sap the time and energy of others. Post-tenure review, all set about with high falutin’ documentation, as though we were applying for the job we’ve been doing well for thirty years, which flatters the vanity of our overseers. I don’t remember receiving a performance report from the deans or the provost or the various titles which much be jollied from time to tome, and they are what goes awry when things go awry. The structure of higher education is so many carts trying to move before so many horses.

Dreary rehearsal in Marshall. I want to stay and socialize, like a good boy, at the end, but I find my feet willy-nilly bearing me at speed toward the door.

My scarlet canna is only now edging toward bloom. I have disserved it in some way–.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


October 30, 2014

It must have been cold, for the furnace worked all night. I thought I saw snow under the streetlamps this morning, but it was thick mist, moving in the air like snow. Gathering myself for the drive to Waynesville. At least the setting sun won’t be in my face. Yesterday was so grueling that I was in bed before 9, and up at the regular time.  Sleeping like that gives me epic dreams. The dreams just before morning were that my studio building had been moved far out into an open field, and there were new people in it, and I had to fake my way in and try to decide whether I were still welcome there. My paintings were recognizable; nothing else was.

Receiving tender, humorous friendship from some of the boys in my classes, the like of which I have not felt since college. The growing of my beard inspired a contest among them to grow theirs, heading for a judgment in “Novembeard.” They are trekking out to see me on stage, in a great brawling clump.I don’t know if I’m returning it rightly, affection for affection, or if that’s what they want from me, but I’m also trying not to worry about that too much, receiving this, merely, like a late bright flower in a stricken field. Whatever god has done this, I thank him.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


October 29, 2014

Nephew Jonathan visiting and now asleep in the front bedroom.  He is so very like his mother. You don’t realize that because there’s no physical resemblance. He’s here thanking some organization which helps him with money and speaking gigs, hoping ever to further his work in Thailand, which I understand better now that we have had a supper and conversation together. His sense of being chosen to help the people there “community-build” parallels my conviction of having been chosen for poetry, though it be far more cumbersome because far more public. He asks for alms and speaking engagements; I fled to the academy for employment. He already has the victory of turning out better than anyone would allow ten years ago. The excitement today us that he drives to Fort Mill to meet his birth father.  I have the excitement today of fighting through to the blessed evening.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 28, 2014

My Humanities students covered themselves in glory in their production of Medea yesterday morning. Not one slacker, not one grudging mumble. Many positive comments from the faculty. I hope they remember it fondly in years to come. I will.

Finally read all the entries for the Brown fellowships. One bad. Several all right. Three quite excellent.

Restful to come home last night and just sit in the quiet house.

Monday, October 27, 2014


October 27, 2014

First week of Macbeth accomplished. The Lit Club came Sunday afternoon, and they did not turn their faces away when I came to greet them, so it must have been well. Comments lead me to believe that my desire to make Duncan seem kindly and fatherly in contrast to what comes afterwards is realized. The drive to and from Waynesville in full autumn light was gorgeous, the mountains like ancient golden cloth spread from horizon to horizon. The feeling at the Y this morning was the muscles working out their stage-strain.

Clipped a white rose and an orange rose for my bedroom, which they perfume intimately. Clinging to the orange rose was a tiny gnat or ephemera. I tried to shoo him away, but he clung, finding folds of the blossom to hide in. He is still there this morning, like a lord safe in his own keep.

Medea late this morning. One by one duties drop away, others being added at a rate I hope I can control.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


October 26, 2014

Slept late, though it is still before dawn. The cats did not like this, and caused what disturbance they could. My dream was troubling, being at once dreary and durable, Every time I’d wake (it was a fitful night) the dream would start again afterward. There was a world at the bottom of the sea, where important people (I was one of them) would travel in a shaft of light opened from the surface, but the rest were in darkness. The theory was that there was light everywhere in the world above us, but no plan we had to get there worked.

Voted. Cooked masses of greens. Went in the morning to Cantaria rehearsal. The performance last night was good, the first time I recognized that the apparition scene is very powerful. Art says of my line reading, “diamonds fall out of your mouth.”  We are reaching the point in the crowded men’s dressing room where we notice that one of us talks way too much and another badly needs a shower.

The stars of my garden are the snowy camellia and the blood purple rose. Would that they were intermingled.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


October 25, 2014

I think opening night went well, Steve was happy and said it was a strong show. People said I looked handsome on stage, and that’s the main thing. A beautiful young woman gave me a bouquet of flowers. I had to delve her conversation for a while before I knew who she was– a former student who now runs a frame store in Waynesville. It is delectable getting flowers. Michael got me some Hostess cakes because my last word before death is “hostess.” Party afterwards with the opening night crowd. My play son Malcolm discourses in the dressing room on why sex and marijuana caused him to lose his taste for reading. I endure Macbeth’s lecture on Shakespeare’s Middle English without uttering a syllable. Lady MacDuff and I talk opera. I like them, and am having more fun offstage in a play than I have in a long time.

I think of when I played Macbeth myself, under my own accidental direction. Was I any good? Was I better than this one? Worse? I know I mined my lines for meaning and nuance more than this one does, but he gets them out with verve and energy.

SS is setting up a reading of Washington Place at his house. When things go as they are planned I am astonished, grateful.

Now that the cement urns in front of the house are flowerless, I fill them with peanuts for the crows, and the crows come. They are really startlingly large. They will eat all the peanuts out of the east urn before moving on to the west.

Thursday I sat with one of my Lit students after class, him confessing his spiritual life for the last couple of years. I looked at his face and loved him with limitless protective love. I rather wallowed in the emotion, and was not sorry when he did not leave. The Lord has ordained things so that one may find fathers when he needs them, that one might find the joyful strength to welcome spiritual sons.