Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 30, 2013

A long line of mornings when I woke with sense of physical well-being is broken today. Feverish, monstrously loose in the bowels.

Excellent morning in the studio yesterday. I painted joyfully for hours, then left just as others were arriving. Typically I have a quarter of my day before the rest of the world awakes.

Drinks and a light supper with DJ at Magnolias, then over to see C’s play. It had been getting interesting reviews, the kind that hid more than they told, but what they told was that the subject matter of the play was righteous and that a first-time playwright is to be encouraged. Both those things are true, but what the reviews avoided saying (and why Asheville can never in the foreseeable future possess a truly sophisticated art scene) is that the play was awful on a dozen different levels, and the fact that it was both righteous and intelligent made it, curiously, worse. What the playwright intended was beyond her powers, and the part she had written for herself as narrator/Muse/sibyl was the worse calamity I have seen on stage in an age, long on self-congratulation and pointless wordplay, very short on sense, devoid of dramatic necessity, an intrusion and irritation every time it appeared. I’m not a great fan of the “development” process, but did this play have one, and if so with whom? People who hated the playwright and wanted to see her mortified? Even had the play been decently written, the flaw in its politics would be difficult to overcome. The time when a gay playwright can use the sorrows and trials of being gay as her sole subject is thirty years in the past. Yes, each person goes through it in her own way, but the differences between one such story and another may be far less to an onlooker than the writer supposes. What is unique when experienced is not necessarily so when observed. Art is not, finally, merely self-expression. The unmediated sorrows of one’s soul are for whispering over a late table with a good friend. Each gay artist may need to address this life incident before going on to other things, but only the lucky generation at the outset of the new consciousness could expect an audience to find it fully engaging. We in these latter days get it privately out of our systems and go on. We put it in a drawer and thank our lucky stars the wide world never saw it. The abstract struggle of gayness is no longer news. It was never a very good foundation for an entire work of art. The performances could not possibly be good, and weren’t, though you saw good performers struggling courageously against the material. There was one rather lovely scene between a transvestite and a phone sex worker. I wanted to tell C, “This is your play. Start here and explore. Drop the rest.” It was, one would think, the scene farthest from the playwright’s own experience, and thus not freighted with the weight of apologia that brought the rest to the ground.

Our waiter at Magnolias told us in some detail about the antiques store he’s preparing to open in Black Mountain as soon as he retires in so many weeks. There is a play.

Woke in sadness–as well as dyspepsia–for in a dream I had scheduled two obligations at the same time, and couldn’t think of a way to make it right, couldn’t decide whom I wanted to offend.  Leland was one of the people I was going to disappoint, and I was trying to make my excuses to him when I awoke.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 29, 2013

Painted a little. Went to the Apothecary to hear Frank’s band. Longed to hear Frank’s band. Arrived at 9 and left finally at 10:40 without hearing a single note. I was told we were on “punk time.” Unfortunately, I don’t do punk time.  Lovely conversations with the boys, though, which I cherished as long as I could, before frustration began to drown pleasure.  Asheville is alive and happy at night.

Friday, June 28, 2013

June 28, 2013

In a dream I hired Belve Marks to be my gardener. When I returned from somewhere he had bulldozed the ground flat and bare, and sold the detritus for a few bucks. He had the notion that I wanted to start over, which I did not. Plus, it was my house in Akron, and not here. In the dream I was shouting at him, dismayed that I could not shout loudly enough fully to express my wrath. I think the dream was related to the fact that I went to bed realizing my Shakespeare play had taken the wrong turn, relying on sleep, as I often do, to do the intellectual work.

Wasting time, as I have so much of it now to waste.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27, 2013

Woke to the roar of sudden downpour. I had been dreaming of travel. I was stranded temporarily on an island between Britain and Ireland, where was taking a kind of seminar in a series of dreary buildings, all of which seemed to be surrounded on three sides by a gray sea. Meryl Streep was also taking the seminar.

The Defense of Marriage Act is put down by the Supreme Court, as well as several other measures enacted, it seems to be, not out of any need but out of pure meanness, to insure some advantage certain people had remained exclusive to them. My marriage is somehow less if you can marry too; you have gotten pregnant- the fact that I can’t or haven’t would not be so satisfying if you weren’t forced to carry that burden to the end regardless of consequences.. Not one of the people in government who say that every baby is a gift from God believe it, or has thought about it enough to have the right to an opinion.

Heavy flowers blooming in the wet heat: voluptuous male roses, soaring stalks of acanthus.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26, 2013

J’s nieces weed the studio garden to earn pocket money. Immediate annihilation of the day-flowers and the volunteer sunflowers, which I was nurturing. I decide it’s best to go home and leave everything to its fate. Late coffee with DD, hearing about his progress as a poet, which is meteoric because he’s good and works hard. Thinking that it’s time for rain.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 24, 2013

This is from the New York Times, cited as “GTW, June 10):

Loves of Mr. Lincoln Surprises
I didn't really know what to expect, but I knew what I didn't want to see when I went to the opening of The Loves of Mr. Lincoln presented by GayfestNYC. The provocative title alluded to possible hanky-panky of the most unwelcome kind besmirching the good name of a great man. Much to my delight, what I saw on stage was none of that, and, if anything, elevated the character and behavior of our 16th President in ways that were really quite affirmative. Playwright David Brendan Hopes has walked an incredibly fine line with nary a misstep. The production values (especially the gowns floated by Mary Todd Lincoln, played by Leah Curney and designed by Carrie Robbins) were unexpectedly high for a 99-seat OOB production, and the entire cast impressed: Tyrone Davis, Jr.'s beautiful tenor served him well as an everyman who sang us from scene to scene with period folk tunes, Don Burroughs filled the shoes of first, dilettante McClellan and then grounded U.S. Grant and assumed both roles to the hilt of his burnished sword in such a way that if you hadn't known they were the same actor, it wouldn't have occurred to you, Stacey Todd Holt as Lincoln's early roommate and life-long friend Joshua Speed, Ms. Curney as an appropriately tart if somewhat lithesome First Lady, and in a completely convincing performance of Lincoln from stripling to a gnarled oak of a man, Steven Hauck, who was perfectly cast and delivered a fine, absorbing performance. It could have gone either way, "The Loves of Mr. Lincoln," but it took the high road, and I was pleased to be along for the ride. I recommend you take it, too.

From a theater goer, friends with Jim Bassi:
Dear David,
I'm following up on Jim Bassi's message. Thanks to him, I had the good fortune of seeing your poignant play The Loves of Mr. Lincoln. I was mesmerized by its beauty and power. It struck me as the film Gandhi had years ago; I didn't want either one to end. Your play is a considerable work of literature, one that deserves greater visibility. I mentioned to Jim that it would even make a remarkable opera. I do understand, however, that new operas take years to develop and that the returns are often negligible. In any event, I wanted to make your acquaintance, poet to poet, to express my admiration.
Dean Kostos

Meeting at Apothecary with local group with which we might want to form a liaison. Much talk of “new media” and opposition to “object based” art. A “show” was up in the space, junky and unkempt and self-indulgent and trashy, all those qualities clearly visible through the windows. I took the fact that they apparently didn’t even notice what ignited me as a sign that I am, to some degree, immune to the charms of some of the art they approve and invite. “New media” is, for the most part, fooling around with expensive toys then explaining why the thing you did should be shoe-horned into the box called “art.”  Art to me is a process which achieves an end. Always the end, never the process. The process is fascinating, but it is not the art. Trash scattered about and a room that looks like a living room in a trailer park might be interesting in some ways, but those ways must be explained, and it is thus a literary form and we needn’t be burdened with the actual sight of it, I thought. One sincere and eager boy wanted to celebrate cheap, bad prints. His enthusiasm was lovely, and though I could hear myself saying the words, “I want to celebrate cheap, bad prints,” I would mean it as a joke–a piece of performance art achieved in an instant–and leave it at that. Much of the contemporary art scene is a construction of words that contains the word “art” but not necessarily discipline, skill, vision, good will or particular intelligence. What shall I do with this? At Apothecary I let it pass, because my colleagues are so open to everything that I’d sound like (and would perhaps be) a curmudgeon if I suggested more stringent principles of selection. Asheville is a great city of art, but is is also a great city of crap, which depends on– I suppose– politeness or circumspection for its extended life.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 23, 2013

Party at Bill’s last night, where we abided until the moon rose white and round over the identical houses.

The French Broad River District art scene came to an end almost silently, while one looked away. We thought we were going to be gobbled up by the city in one “master plan” bite, but instead it was nibble by nibble by rapacious and insensitive commercialism. New landlords with a different vision bought up the buildings, and where there were once independent artists working in quirky, productive studios, there are little shops behind which the artist may be glimpsed at work like a rat on its wheel. Artists which didn’t fit the plan were evicted. Artists who were unsightly were evicted. Jolene at Phil Mechanic is the lonely holdout. Most artists are now required by their lease to be present every day for a full workday, like shopkeepers. Landlords who protected artists turned into those who exploit them. Fine art has practically–and predictably– disappeared, leaving space for the crafts factories and fifty eight different kinds of mugs. Asheville has always been at war with its arts community, which is, paradoxically, besides scenery its only attraction. It’s like New York resenting Broadway. The Asheville business community has in particular resented the arts community, as if the tourists would still come to buy shoes or nicknacks–or even beer-- once the artists and the street performers were gone. It’s shameful, but I– and maybe others–didn’t see it coming. The natural growth of the area was so clearly lovely and superior that someone’s desire to change it for profit did not seem a likelihood. I couldn’t even tell you where the creative kids in their cubbyholes and garrets have gone. Perhaps to another town altogether.

Dream of the most profound redemptive power. I was a child seated in a van under a complex series of road overpasses. There was a woman with me, and I knew from the dream that I had always thought that woman had kidnaped me, setting into motion a series of circumstances that had ruined my life. But this time, from a distance, observing my own life, I saw the woman smile beautifully, and I knew that had misinterpreted what had happened, that she had saved me from something very terrible., and that everything would be all right now.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 22, 2013

Thinnest birdsong from some distant, dark tree. It’s taken me this long to get over my journey. I was not jet-lagged, but I was mind-lagged, considering nothing very seriously but comments on or repercussions from my play.

Dream of journeying to Spain with a group of other travelers, including Julie Andrews, whom I had seen on TV that night. Spain was very beautiful and very vertical, and we were all the time climbing up narrow grooves in stone cliffs, which every now and then would open onto a glorious prospect. Our hotel was also steep and vertical, and there were shelves in our rooms to keep us from falling too far should we fall out of bed. I was the leader of the group, and someone (not Julie) was a nuisance and a perpetual trial, but I have forgotten now the details. I kept remarking to myself that the guidebooks didn’t prepare one for what Spain “really” looked like.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 21, 2013


Fron Steven Hauck:Thank you David. Our run was all too brief, but we used those 11 performances to deepen and refine our relationships with your beautiful play and with each other. What a gifted, generous company! Thank you all for an indelible experience. 
Much love, 

Transcribed and finished my Fox in Bloomsbury Square one-act. It didn’t go where I thought it was going to go.

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 20, 2013

From Sidney’s email:
I have had one of the great creative experiences of my life directing this deeply interesting play. Its robust balance of heart and intellect and history has kept me engaged as an artist from Day One which, for me, was almost three years ago. 

Sidney suggested revisions to the play, which I have made (along with some of my own). I hope that means we’re still in business.

Whoever drove the truck during my absence ran the gas tank to empty. No big deal materially, but a little saddening.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 18, 2013

Luggage returned with items missing: a pair of pants, a belt. There were far more valuable things in the bag, so it must have been carelessness on the part of TSA rather than greed.

Ate the first mulberry off my mulberry tree.

In the night rain there is such a chorus of frog voices that either Kevin is miraculous or he has gathered somehow a company of his kind around him.

Sensational review of The Loves of Mr. Lincoln by Joel Benjamin on

David Brendon Hopes’ contribution to Gayfest NYC Fifth Festival of Plays 2013 was a richly moving study of the sixteenth president in The Loves of Mr. Lincoln. Not a modern pseudo-psychological reinterpretation, but a wonderfully detailed drama, Loves in no way tears this great man down from his pedestal. Rather, Lincoln’s complex historical hegemony is only enhanced by Mr. Hopes’ expert, period-perfect drama, based directly on personal letters and public documents dealing with his close relationship with Joshua Speed with whom Lincoln shared digs-and a bed-in Springfield. Lincoln comes across as a beautifully sensitive, moody, philosophical man whom only Joshua seems to understand. Certainly Mary cannot, and will not, attempt to understand the depth of his emotional commitment to Joshua.

Written in heightened, but not stilted language, Loves began with a shy, awkward lawyer gossiping about his intended, Mary Todd, with his best friend, shopkeeper Joshua. It is clear from their easygoing manner and intimate physicality that they are perfectly in tune with each other and are spiritual mates. Whether Lincoln and Speed actually indulged in sex is unimportant. They were physically and emotionally intimate and it was Speed who remained in Lincoln’s thoughts—at least according to this play—until his very last days after years of the querulous behavior of his wife, the loss of two sons and the demands of running a country at war took their toll. Abe found comfort in his relationship and correspondence with Speed whom Mary made attempts to alienate from the Lincoln White House, much to his disappointment and frustration.

Lincoln courts and marries the socialite Mary because that was the way things were back in the mid-19th century. Mary is portrayed as strong-willed and spoiled, marrying him more because his future looked bright than any silly romantic notion based on looks or attraction. In fact, she was also courted by Stephen Douglas, Lincoln’s main political rival, but chose Lincoln. 

Hopes delves into the casual attitude of that time towards close male bonding. Interestingly, General Ulysses Grant makes it quite clear that such “special friendships” were common amongst the soldiers fighting the Civil War. 

Hopes tells the story chronologically taking Lincoln and Mary from their marriage to his assassination. Between scenes a singer performed Stephen Foster songs which both allowed for scene changes and helped set the mood. The sets and costumes were quite opulent for an Off Broadway production. Michael Hotopp’s scenic design included period furniture and vintage photos of Springfield and Washington, D.C., shown on a central screen. Carrie Robbins’ costumes aided by Paul Huntley’s hair and wig designs further brought the period to life, with the opulent dresses for Mary Lincoln particularly impressive, speaking volumes of her reputed excessive spending during this particularly dark period of American history. 

The acting, under Sydney J. Burgoyne’s direction, was superb. Steven Hauck was a terrifically convincing Lincoln, his height and gauntness perfect for the part and his slightly languorous manner never quite concealing the turmoil in his mind. Stacey Todd Holt played Joshua Speed with a warmth and lack of self-consciousness that was admirable. As Mary Todd Lincoln, Leah Curney skillfully took this troubled and troublesome lady from the security of a familiar social life to the tribulations of war and the angst of an unhappy marriage without being totally unsympathetic. Tyrone Davis, Jr., as the Singer and Lincoln’s White House aide Tobias made it clear that there were independently minded Blacks at that time who weren’t afraid to say what was on their mind. Don Burroughs played both the truculent General George McClellan and the macho, but sympathetic General Grant with skill and attention to details of speech and body language. 

Though a bit long, The Loves of Mr. Lincoln was totally involving. The intimacy of the small June Havoc Theatre helped communicate all the subtleties of the play.


Few things in my life have worked out exactly the way I wanted them. This–to this moment– has not merely equaled my hopes, but exceeded them.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 17, 2013

Bird songs from the thinning darkness in my own yard– very different from the city sounds that woke me recent days. Flight home less grueling than it might have been– dead run from Atlanta Customs to my gate, but made it. Luggage did not, yet despite filling out the lost luggage form, I was home before midnight. My housesitters did not leave the shambles I half expected-- and worried about during the flight-- but there was a muddle (especially with cookware) to iron out before I took my nervous energy to bed. Circe has her accustomed place on the desk as I write, and the washing machine hums.

Body achy, as though I had been in a fender-bender. Too long in one position?

Memory of Germany: a hare on the dewy grass between tarmacs at the Frankfurt airport. Memory of Holland: a river flowing through an opening in a wall which held back the sea. We were too high for me to tell how big everything was. Was it the Rhine?

It was father’s day as I sat in Gatwick (hours too early, of course) waiting, and in the Duty Free hall I had a clear vision of my father walking toward me. He was leaning heavily on the cane, and wore the pale plaid sports coat which was familiar long ago. He was looking around from side to side, taking in what he had never seen in life, an international airport, another country. He seemed happy. He was coming to see me. A strange benediction descended on the moment. Once when I had a particularly vivid dream about Titus, people said he missed me and came back for a visit. I took this vision as exhibiting the same power. It fell upon me with stunning force. At the least expected place in the universe, my father had made our history irrelevant, and sent a blessing back over all the incidents of our lives. A child had called and his father had come, over a very great distance indeed.

From Sidney’s friend Emily:
Goodness me. I felt transported deep into another man's complexities and contradictions. In the form of a storied historical figure like Lincoln, the path inward resonated with revelation and poetry. I really was so entranced by Stephen Hauck's nuanced honesty, and the seasoned struggles embedded in the character's culminating outcry. Howling never seemed a more reasonable reaction to a person's path... 
All the players were so present and alive to one another. What a wildly difficult role is Mary Todd. Leah Curney never looked back.... but EVERYONE worked with real courage. 
And it was beautifully staged. Great musical interludes. I did a new play on that stage a couple of years ago, "Inventing Avi" directed by Mark Waldrop. And I have seen many things here.... my own long-held Workshop Theater Co. is on the other side of the bldg. And I've worked with The Barrow Group as well. 312 W.36th is the place I'm constantly slogging to up 8th Ave............. your piece had an eloquent emotional depth. Always difficult to find precisely the right playing style in such intimate space. Sidney, just beautiful work. Congratulations. I'm so glad I was there.

From Leah Curney, my Mary Todd:
We didn't get much of a chance to chat when you were in NYC, so I wanted to take a moment now to thank you for your beautiful play. It was such a gift to explore the depths, the sharp corners and soft, tender places of the formidable Mary Todd - thank you for writing such a beautifully rich and complex portrait of an often maligned historical character. 

From all I can absorb from the comments coming out of New York, The Loves of Mr Lincoln was a complete success. The acting and production are rightfully praised, and I consider any praise of the production as acknowledgment of the house I have built.  Sidney and all have done me proud. My ears are open for what comes next, for observations on what has already passed.

Garden watered by many rains needs attention, but the rain continues, so I have a few more days off. Most obvious change is the explosion of hydrangeas, blue and white here, pink at the studio.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

London 6-A

Evening: Hiked through Regents Park to the London Zoo. What did I like best? The hammerkopfs, I think, who were gathering material for their nests at my very feet, or maybe the capuchin monkey who looked so sad, wondrous and untouchably sad. A pregnant bridge wandered through the zoo with a few of her attendants, her bouquet clutched in her hand. It rained hard and cold, and I walked home down Oxford Street through alternations of rain and not-rain, though it was never quite light. Nor is it now, an hour or so before evening.

In five hours the last evening performance of Lincoln goes up in New York. Praise. Standing ovations. It is emblematic that I would have left before all that gathered to a greatness. Perhaps it’s for the best. But I wonder why made the London sojourn so long? I could have returned yesterday and seen the play for the last time tonight! I wonder what’s going on in my head, sometimes. Or maybe it belongs to the actors now, a production rather than a playwright’s workshop. In any case, I feel melancholy. I’ll wait for the next bout of light, put on my shoes, and go out and have a drink. I’ll drink to everyone.

Father’s day tomorrow. I was going to say “half of my thoughts of him are resentful,” but that is too much, I think, and in any case, it means the other half are not. In my mind I’m always showing him things I’m doing. I never start my car without thinking how much he would be fascinated by a hybrid. .What if he had sat in the audience for The Loves of Mr Lincoln?  I think we would have liked that. Yes, I think that would have been well.

London 6

June 15, 2013

Long walks through Soho and beyond yesterday, just drinking everything in, acquiring the images I’ll carry with me as “London, 2013.”  About midday the sun came out, a little, and endures now in a marbled blue agate sort of way. Hiked in the evening to the Old Vic to see Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth. It was beautifully designed, almost adequately acted, well directed- though sometimes there was acres of space between people who were talking to each other. It simply isn’t a very good play. It’s clearly by a very good playwright, though, with enough success behind him that he can say, “I can indulge myself here, I can cut corners there, I can present this without thinking it through.” It is a little horrifying to watch one man’s fantasy life unfold so little mediated by contact with general human experience. It could not hold the stage today without that great name attached to it. I left disappointed, but had another chance to cross Waterloo Bridge with Parliament and the towers laid out to my left, the dome of St. Paul’s, oddly dainty at that distance, and the new skyscrapers to my right. Drinks at the Axis, though I failed to find Lorenzo. The waiter who was there chased me out into the street to get me to sign my bar tab, not having noticed I left money under my glass. Hope it was as embarrassing to him as it was to me.

Aislinn reports more standing ovations, more wildly enthusiastic crowds for Lincoln. Am I resentful or grateful that I’m not there to witness it? Grateful, I think, as though the hovering specter of my neediness would have bitched it all.

Sick last night, well in the morning. It is a kind of a pattern.

Friday, June 14, 2013

London 5

June 14, 2013

From Aislinn’s report on The Loves of Mr Lincoln:

Hello all, 
Attached and below is tonight's report. 

An absolutely top-notch show. The audience was incredibly enthusiastic, including uproarious laughter, a standing ovation, and shouts of “thank you” during curtain call.

. . . of course, this couldn’t have happened while I was there. . . .

Fussing around in my black sports jacket, found a tag in the pocket, handwritten. This jacket was acquired (apparently in Germany) from G. Rittberg, Dortmund, by one Herr Borianne (can’t read the name very well) in 1955. I was wearing vintage and didn’t know it.

Tea, as I must do, in the Victoria & Albert tea room, where, as the last time I was there, I began to write a play. This time the play is about the fox in Bloomsbury Square. I wandered to Harrod’s. I found it fascinating this time, as I had not, for some reason, in the past. It has a distinctly Near-Eastern tone to it, and many Islamic women were gliding through in their long gowns. How had I missed the Egyptian Escalator? I mean to eat there someday, on the long sampling counters in the midst of the greatest bazaar in the world. Drank cider at the Swan nearby, where I met Nick, a dark man whose accent I couldn’t place until he told me he was Albanian. There is a great hospital behind the hotel, and Nick was at the Swan with his son, Danny. Danny was having chemo, and they were taking a break until the test results were in and they knew what drugs to pick up at the pharmacy. Danny is six or seven, and has bone cancer, and a bald head covered by a cap. Nick showed me photos of Danny at his worst, and he was a miserable skeleton. I went outside and sat down with my drink, but Nick followed, clearly wanting to tell his tale to somebody. My almost perfect ignorance of Albania made me want to ask questions, but Nick wanted to talk about Danny and his therapy. The shy child brightened as we sat, and I became very involved in the will to recovery. Nick pulled himself onto the subject of religion. He was a Catholic and enraged by Muslim high-handedness in his homeland (the only details I got out of him about Albania) but beyond that he said he could not believe in God. He pointed to his son and asked how God could do that. He could understand if he had done it to him, to the father, who could fight it, but to an innocent child? The greatest theologian in the world would have no answer for Nick, and I didn’t even try.

In the evening it was the English National Opera’s The Perfect American at the Coliseum. Philip Glass wrote the music. The “perfect American” is Walt Disney. It was a sort of masterpiece, and I was mesmerized even through the sameness of the music. Perhaps because of the sameness of the music– who knows? It was a masterpiece with a major flaw– the libretto was horrible. It was like reading the newspaper, but worse. I considered the likelihood that an every-day speech libretto could be presented as a deliberate artistic choice, but even so it was a bad one. I kept thinking, “Why the hell didn’t you ask me?” It was almost pure recitative, epic in some places, silly in others, like Disney himself. But I was fascinated. Maybe I was fascinated because I saw a template to be departed from and improved upon. There is apparently no subject so mundane that work-horse music can’t elevate it at least momentarily. Art-wise, this may have been the most important evening of my sojourn.

Went to bed ill and woke up well. Hope that happens to Danny. Dreamed that I was visiting Ann Dunn at her dream-home in the Western Wilderness, and when I came back to my car it was surrounded by wild animals. It was very dark, so I had to guess what they were. I touched the bear and he lumbered away. I began to pet what I assumed was a moose or a big deer, and he stood and suffered my caress. The animals had wrecked my car, but I didn’t care.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

London 4

June 13, 2013

Yeats's birthday.

Flash from the train ride from Gatwick– the slopes around the tracks smothered in wildflowers. Swans in the distant rivers.

Dream two nights ago that I had been made Chancellor. I called the real Chancellor to ask if it was true, and all right with her, and she said it was. Even after waking I was planning the wonderful things I was going to do, not quite convinced that it was a dream. Curiously happy about it. Last night I decided to explore a haunted skyscraper, and got only to the first floor when I encountered a family of female vampires. I hit one with my fist and she collapsed, but got back up again. I slugged her down again, and again she got up. She made no move to attack me back. I perceived that this cold go on forever if I did not move on.

Tate Modern yesterday, skirting St. Paul’s to wait for a time I felt more sanctified. Children’s day at the museum. It’s pleasant to see- mostly to hear– all those children about, and I hope it really does give them some kind of life expansion. Looking back at my youth, these trips did enlarge my perspectives, and dwell with me in memory today, but then I was one of those who always got the message, who, introduced to high culture, gobbled it up like a starveling. In the Tate café I sat beside a kid who was keeping his teacher’s attention by declaring he saw nothing in the works they had scrutinized but “ugly, flat faces” and that art was useless and pointless. That perspective is so foreign to me I assumed he was taking it just to keep his teacher’s interest, for she, of course, kept trying to win him over. Maybe children are allowed their own judgment too early. Too many wilful declarations deviate them from the path of learning onto the path of self-assertion, and some never get back.

It must be said that though it was only outright raining last night, not one ray of sun has hit the ground since I came to London.

Evening it was off to the Apollo to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which turned out to be a delightful, thoughtful and fulfilling piece of theater, which could not, however, be produced on any stage without a million bucks to spend on tech. I sat next to Richard Smith, Consejo de Culture e Direccion de Education y Cultura in Guatemala. He told me of his one published work, a play about a series of disasters– his description was cut short by the opening of Act II, but afterwards I met his wife and daughter. The daughter’s son is autistic, so they had come to the play to gain insight. I did. Hope they did.

There’s a model train in the play, and as I watched I flashed back to something my father made me. It was a long piece of sheet metal curved into train tunnel shape, and then bent at the edges so it would fit securely under the tracks. He decorated it with trees and grass in sparkles attached by glue, so it would look like a hill covering a railway tunnel. I wonder if I appreciated it enough. I wonder of I thanked him. It would be a treasure to me today.

Happy as ever weaving home by night. I passed by Bloomsbury Square again, but my fox friend was too canny to be seen twice in the same place.

Wearing my “Asheville, Cesspool of Sin” T shirt, but it will be under so many layers nobody will see it.

London 3

June 12, 2013

Hiked to Wigmore Hall last night to hear the Academy of Academy Music in a program called Handel in Italy, which was largely Handel’s Clori, Tirsi, e Fileno:  two sopranos and a contralto (two of them supposed to be men) out-singing one another, with moments of such exquisite beauty you wonder why music ever bothered progress past the perfect Handel. At other times there was a sameness which lulled me into slumbers, in which there was an opera, but on a complete different subject. Each time I woke I compared the two, and wondered at the pervasive dissimilarity. The ten year old named Diego beside me was absolutely silent through it all. Walking home I took a different route than normal, and saw a fox in Bloomsbury Square. He looked about insouciantly, pointed his fine paws and headed toward the British Museum. The best sight yet.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

London 2

June 11, 2013

Yellowish London sky, the city sounds different from New York’s by virtue of featuring almost no car horns. Went to the National Theater to see James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner done with verve and commitment. I ate in the Lytelton café there before hand, a hugely civilized thing which I had gone early expressly to do. Shared my table with Larry, a big man who knew many people in New York (none of whom I knew) and with whom I talked theater. I could see us being theater friends in another life. My seats in the Olivier were beside Astoria and Bianca, two London girls, who were not theater goers but who had come because Bianca’s sister was in the show “That her in the pink cardigan.” Afterwards as I tottered back to the hotel, I remembered why crossing Waterloo Bridge is one of my favorite things in the world– Saint Paul floating ghostly under the multiplying skyscrapers to one side, St Stephen’s Tower and Parliament on the other, the great Wheel (blue now) monumentally still. I will go on until I just have strength enough to throw myself off that bridge at night, with all those lights about me. The faux prophet in Russell Square grabbed my hand and said my lifeline was grotesquely ("sadly," he actually said) long, which I knew. Then he gave me the seed of a bush and called it a lucky charm and wanted twenty quid.

On to the Axis Bar in the Aldwych, where I keep forgetting to stay, and mean to. Lorenzo the Milanese bartender and I had a lovely chat, about Milanese history, about Italian dialects, about the sad state of human affairs. Lorenzo’s father is a playwright who specializes in work in the Milanese dialect. As I tottered toward the Shakespeare, where I was to have the last drinks of the evening, and make three of those instant friends who dwell so in the recollection, I was thinking that my evening was providing a critique to Baldwin’s play. The Amen Corner is more important historically than artistically, and a little naive in conception and execution, but I kept thinking that Margaret’s beliefs were my beliefs, for the most part, and how was it possible for the same spiritual convictions to be expressed in such opposing modes? On the street it was clear to me: the religion that says no is false; that which says yes is true. That which forbids is false; that which invites is true. Drunk and silly, I was at once happy and sanctified. My happiness walking up Kingsway was beneficent, life-affirming, giving, and based materially on getting from one late night venue to another for a drink before everything closed. The gloom I had felt leaving New York was gone, the sense of futility, of premature finish, washed away by Lorenzo and Bianca and Astoria and the life passing me on a London street.

London One

June 10, 2013

Fairly crappy room on the 4th floor of the Hotel Russell. It’s always a gamble here. Sometimes the rooms are modest, sometimes spectacular, and they seem always to be the same price.  I do face the Square near the top of the trees.

Unusually uncomfortable flight from New York to Frankfurt, during which my thoughts dwelt on the shadow of things, the end stop of the moment, the uncertainty of this and that, which sounds tragic to say and was miserable at the time, but had the hypnotic effect of helping me to sleep. Got to London early and the Russell had my room ready, which was miraculous, and I settled in and hiked to the British Museum, drinking at pubs as I went. I did not have my notebook, which was a kind of experiment, for I seldom go anywhere just to be and observe and not to record those observations.

I miss Lincoln. I could have seen it again.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

New York Sunday

June 9, 2013

Pale Sunday sky. SS was at last night’s performance, which had not the sharp sheen of opening night, but which was good enough. It was excellent to have a home face, and a critical eye unlike enough my own to be really useful– though it turns out our critical perspectives are not that different. Chit-chat in the Houndstooth afterwards. The waitress knew what I was going to order, and asked after the play. I was on the verge of feeling at home here. For the first time in all these lightning visits, I will miss New York. If I were just going home there would be great gloom, but as London’s next, there is some hope of further adventure.

I have had a triumph. My mind–or heart–does not yet know of what kind– a bright light popping in the dark and then gone? . . the first fire of a constellation? Who knows? I wish the people I know in New York had come to see the play. If things were reversed I would have been there opening night with red flags in my hand. But. . . what is, is. Maybe they will come later.  There is no better play in New York these several nights. Whatever comfort that is, I take.

Ten hours to spend until my flight, six until mandatory check-out. Let’s see how I can draw out the tasks.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

New York Saturday 2

Finally rainless morning sent me to Columbus Circle to drink cappuccino under the eaves of the Park– one of my New York rituals. There was a Women Only Half Marathon, and sweaty women kept emerging from the park with carnations in their hand. Shared my table for a while with a pedicab driver. He demonstrated for me the face he watches for as possible clients– the slack jawed uncertain visage of the tourist. It was very funny. He was swaggering and smelly and happy and clearly the master of his universe. I recognized–when I prayed it over him–that the prayer I’ve prayed most in New York is “Lord, shield the joyful.”

I’m wearing the brown bead bracelet a Buddhist monk gave me in the cave under the Marriot. He wanted to give me a greater blessing than I was willing to take, and the memory of my suspicion and hard-heartedness tormented me through the morning.

Saturday matinee of Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. I literally could not fit my swollen legs in the space provided for them, so the ushers let me fetch a portable chair and position it in what in olden days was a box, so I had the best seat in the house without exactly paying for it. I’d come to the play with attitude–finding Durang dissatisfying in the past–but the first act was one of the most genuinely hilarious hours  I’ve experienced in the theater. I was right about Durang, though, for Act II added nothing, and relied on bravura acting (David Hyde Pierce, Sigourney Weaver, Billy Magnussen) to carry things once the ideas were spent. But, carry them they did, and I would say, all in all, I had a good afternoon of theater. Talked with the usher, who adored the performances even after seeing them a million times. I can see adoring the performances. A budding playwright could learn (by contrary example) the lesson of how not to waste a sensational first act. Durang is, at base, incurably conventional and unabashedly sentimental. He also knows what signals to send the audience to bring them to is side.

A woman named EB sent a note to me at the theater: “Sometimes having seen a script gives you the idea that you know how you will respond to the actual performance. I was unprepared for the emotion evolved by last night’s show. Thank you profusely for the opportunity to read for it, and every good wish for tonight and the future. "

Stacey, my Josh Speed, wrote “I am just a timid Georgia boy” who can’t express his feelings in writing the way you do. It has been such a gift to say your words. Unlike my character Joshua, I would say this gift is “something perfect given by the world”– or shall I say “perfect given to the world by you.”

Don’t remember getting notes before.

The very odd sensation that was with me walking from the theater last night–through the driving rain up endless 8th Avenue-- was bewilderment. I was in a place without context, in which no previous experience could inform any onward action or understanding. I had no idea what to feel, what to think, what to plan. This was the point I had been building toward, and whatever comes after I have no way, presently, to comprehend. One wants to say it was a blankness, but it wasn’t exactly that.. It was like being thrown into a strange city without knowing the language. I didn’t know what I was feeling. I didn’t have anybody to ask. The sensation has stayed with me through the day, though mixed now with other things. I have written something perfectly achieved. I knew this watching last night. But that is an end point, a terminus. I might ask “What next?” but to do so would be disturbingly un-rhetorical. I have no idea. Bruce and Jack have control over where we go together, and they tell me nothing– not out of malice, but because they have so much else on their minds, such as the Tonys tomorrow night. And what would they do if their commitment were plain and total? People ask, “Is it going to open on Broadway?’” but they don’t understand that Broadway doesn’t do theater; it does amusements, as like to the theater as a Texas mega-church is to the manger at Bethlehem. And that isn’t even a complaint. Things are as they are. There are exceptions, but would Lincoln be one of them? Quality is almost–though not quite–irrelevant to the decisions which govern these things, and what has it going for it besides quality? Does somebody LOVE it? Is someone fanatical about it? It could have an off-Broadway run, but I’m not sure exactly what that entails, or if my producers do things like that. I am not anxious or resentful at any point. I am simply baffled. I’m like Alexander standing at the Hindu Kush wondering “What next?”

New York Saturday

June 8, 2013

Morning clear after a solid day of rain. The rain was so heavy Friday that I mostly sat in the hotel until it was show time. I began writing a new play. Fortified myself at Houndstooth, headed for the theater. What can be said about an opening night that was excellent beyond hope? There were a few bobbled lines, but all else came clear and whole, the actors at their best, the set no longer an issue, everything that the script could be laid out righteously. Whatever happened in times past, whatever lies in store for times to come, in those two hours I was content. The house was packed, and whatever comment was made about the script was favorable to the point of wonderment. My pocket was stuffed full of envelopes; I haven’t looked at them yet. Party and reception afterward, where the casts of both productions mingled, and I got to tell the eager kids how much I liked them. I should not have come back to the hotel alone, but, as I say, for those two hours all was better than I could have wished it. I am striving not to let the words “What now?” cross the bar of my thoughts.

Friday, June 7, 2013

New York Friday

June 7, 2013

Perpendicular rain over Manhattan. I remember the instant of deciding not to pack my raincoat. The weather predictions were all clear then, not taking account of an approaching hurricane. It is quite late for me to be starting my day; blame the still-dark skies.

Hiked to the Met yesterday, when it was glorious. Glutted myself on the Netherlandish and Spanish Schools. My legs felt unusually well. The special exhibitions were all about Lincoln and the Civil War. I thought we had missed a great public-relations tie-in, but probably the museum doesn’t allow that sort of thing.

In the evening, I stopped in the Houndstooth to vodka up before the preview. I thought, “It is not right for me to be here, at this hour, alone.”

The preview. . . . well, from one point of view it was a disaster. The stagehands have been given too much to do. Three times the lights came up on plumbers’ butts in the last stages of settling furniture on its marks. A great smashing of glass ended one scene. Bruce feared it was a 200 hundred year old piece of stained glass, but someone near enough to see said it was a wine glass. I spent part of the intermission consoling Bruce for his loss in case it had been the window. The whole apparatus of sets is too cumbersome. They have known this for at least three days. Part of the problem of collaboration is that if everyone helps, then if one is hindering, all must go along with it, at least for a while. The surprising thing was the carnage of lines, for the actors were nearly perfect Wednesday night. L in particular seemed baffled, turning lines around, dropping lines and opening great lacunae on the stage, everyone stepping on their own jokes. Leah and Tyrone were perfect throughout. I take care to balance the rhythms of the words, and paraphrases simply do not work. An entire scene involving Lincoln, Grant, and Tobias was dropped, the scene where they sing “Dixie” and Tobias is sent to proclaim victory. There was silence on the stage. Finally Grant saluted, the President returned the salute and both walked out. Lameness probably attributed to me. Do professionals not help one another when they go up, as we amateurs do? But these things are always easier from a seat in the theater. Secretly, I thought what they dropped could probably be dropped if people were anxious about time. If I sewed up the ravels of transition, it would hardly be missed, plot-wise, though the rhythm of the whole would be a little off. Grant did get the biggest laugh of the evening– from me too– when he discovered midscene that he had forgotten his flask, and ad-libbed “Oh, I left the damn thing with my horse” and stomped off to get it. Brilliant.

On the other hand, these things that bothered me so much probably didn’t matter to those not connected to the play. The goodly audience seemed pleased afterwards, and I was what I took to be sincerely complimented. The actors are so good that no one who hadn’t heard them when they WERE good would notice. It still felt like we had a show.

Maybe the best part was that Cody was waiting for me at the door. He wasn’t able to see the show, but we went to the Houndstooth and chattered until this morning. God, he was good for me. It was good not to talk about the preview, though of course I wanted to, It was good to hear about his life. We walked north in the rain, and when he veered off on 42nd for the subway, I loved him so much I could have burst.

Random things: Vince Vaughn was being interviewed in Times Square as I passed by. He is big and wrinkly.

Watched a wren glean a bush in Bryant Park, as safe and merry as if it were the deepest woods.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

New York Thursday

June 6, 2013

It is a dim, calm, very early morning on Manhattan. Horns honk in the distance. Figures scurry on 8th Avenue. I feel more at home here than I ever have before. The normality of my surroundings, the casualness of my reactions to them– this is new. Rose not particularly early and had a breakfast of watermelon and cappuccino, which I recommend. Walked to MOMA, where I saw the sights, loving them better than I have sometimes in the past. Claes Oldenburg’s yard sale–apparently- is presented in a structure shaped like Mickey Mouse. In the line to the Rain Room I met Brian the wine-guy-my student from Asheville- who shouted my name in that way that is so gratifying in a distant place.  Left the line to the Rain Room in impatience and napped before tech of The Loves of Mr. Lincoln.

The June Havoc Theater is a little disappointing in terms of size and – well, upkeep– but part of the impression came from the lumber and materiale strewn about the room for final tech. It was hard to find a place to sit. What was very thrilling was to see eight or ten grown-up people fussing and bothering (and getting paid for it) over the details of your play. I was introduced to this person and that person, all of whom referred to me as “the genius,” which I would have taken as irony had they not been so exhausted and sincere. This is the first time in my life when I can be called a genius, and believe it, a little, without its making a difference in the plan. I have to note, since it was a tech rehearsal, that the technical aspects were pretty disastrous. Scene changes were endless, and lights would come up on earnest stagehands still dragging something into place. (There is one little stagehand so like Frank Meadows I had to smile every time he appeared.) Sidney introduced slides to illustrate the place where the scene takes places, and that is a brilliant idea, except that the big guy in the seat in front of me kept moaning, “It’s the wrong slide” Heads bobbed through the projection, bodies were visible moving backstage, props did not appear, expensive borrowed furniture was manhandled. What I was noting in my mind is that the play is expressly written so it can be done on a bare stage, with only one bed, one table and a few chairs. I’d also put in the songs deliberately to cover scene and costume changes, but all this was rethought and rearranged. “Tech,” people kept saying, implying that tomorrow night all will be perfection, as it well may be. I must say that tech alone is not yet presentable, and tech alone was a contradiction of what I had written in the play. It may turn out to be gorgeous, though the same thing happened on Edward the King, where the set overpowered the stage and worked against the actors rather than with them. But, all judgment lies in abeyance.

The costumes are absolutely gorgeous. Even if you hated the play you could revel in Mary’s gowns.

For the rest of it, something different. It was magnificent, overpowering. The cast is perfect. Mary Todd in particular is so good she revised the role in my head. You weep for her. You understand why her heart is broken. Lincoln is perfect. McClellan/Grant was perfect from before, so he was no surprise. Speed takes some getting used to, but turns out to be perfect, too. The former Tobias was an operatic baritone, thrilling and masculine. The new one is a sweet tenor, a gentle boy, and I think this works even better. My emotions while watching are truly inexpressible. I tried to imagine what haters would find to hate on, and it kept coming back, mostly, to tech, which will be healed. The overwhelming thing was that the play is completely independent of me. It is like a grown-up child. I remember conceiving it, but what it is doing now is a complete surprise. I think it is very, very good. I thought that of Edward, but the one miscast role dragged it askew. Here nothing is miscast, I disagreed with the interpretation of not one line. I was truly dazed when I walked back into the street. I had no idea what to think. I was glad, but over what and to what degree? Horns of victory are lifted to the mouths of the trumpeters, but are not yet blowing. I came back to the hotel and drank vodka and ate a pork chop. The emotions wait to be informed.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New York Wednesday

June 5, 2013

19th floor of the Paramount Hotel, the transformation of which has been little less than miraculous. The rooms are about the same- cramped, but with the visual elegance of a starship– but the lobby is a polished dark underworld, achingly elegant and enticingly forbidding. My window looks south on many theaters. Wandered a bit after the perfect flight, drawn as water downhill to O’Brien’s Bar on 45th (whose clientele was, in fact, almost exclusively Irish), had a good pinot noir, but over-spicy food, after which I was sick and barely made it back to the room to thrown up, whereafter I napped in several kinds of exhaustion until it was time to go to the theater.

Tuesday in New York was cool, stainless, the best welcome imaginable. The bartender at the Asheville airport gave me free iced tea. The desk clerk at the hotel told me that in-room WiFi would be $13 a day, then winked and gave me a code to get it free.

Loyalty to Gayest led me to Gross Indecency, a play about the trials of Oscar Wilde, which I had seen in Dublin years ago, done “straight,” whereas this production featured nine leggy gay boys in street clothes. It was choreographed, frenetic, impressionistic, very exciting, and of all the shows I could have chosen, I’m glad I chose it. The best theater is not shown on the firesigns on Times Square. That this is not fully known must be, I believe, a matter of public relations. Met Jack and Bruce in the lobby. They made much of me and bought me a water. I made much of them and assured them they were going to win another Tony on Sunday. Bruce is the harder of the two to read. He told me about the glorious costumes for Lincoln, and assured me how pleased I was going to be with everything. He said of me, “He’s wonderful. He never asks for anything.” The tone led me to believe I had asked for something outrageous–which I don’t remember– or that maybe I SHOULD ask for something. My lack of temperament baffles theater people. He said “We’re going to have a big party Friday night at the opening.” Then he fingered by ratty denim jacket and said, “Wear something nice.” Met the playwright David Ray, who moved from LA to NYC, and is miserable, except that his theater career has picked up. I thought we were contemporaries, but he spoke of being admitted (maybe) to the Julliard playwriting program.

Drinks at the Playwrights, and then at the Rum House, where I was so smashed that having no more hangover than I do is miraculous. Dawn now, the sounds of the waking city very different from the sounds of my garden.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013

Bruce says this of Lincoln in Gay City News:

The other original play is “The Loves of Mr. Lincoln” by David Brendan Hopes, a Pulitzer-nominated poet. Lincoln loved not only his wife Mary, his children, and the United States of America, but also his lifelong confidante, Joshua Speed. Based on letters said to be between Lincoln and Speed, this historical drama promises stunning costumes and language.

This work is haunting and brilliantly written,” raved Harris. “It’s one of those gorgeous, words-fall-off-the-page type of plays we always look for. We believe that plays should not just entertain but also enlighten. And this does that.”

He goes on to say: Why only two original shows? In defense of their limited slate of offerings, Harris explained that, when it came down to it, few plays met their exacting standards.

“We are trying to be discerning,” he explained. “We look at what’s going on in the world. We don’t want to stage anything that’s dated. Many playwrights create a work that’s cathartic for them, and that’s fine. But we also want what’s cathartic for audiences.”

Since the launch of GAYFEST NYC, Harris and Batman have made names for themselves in commercial theater, co-producing a string of hits including “Clybourne Park” (which won the Tony Award for Best Play), “Bonnie & Clyde,” and “Pippin.” They’re currently working to bring “Scottsboro Boys” to London and an immersive musical version of “Carrie” to LA.

Ate the first strawberry out of my garden– poor thing, planted too near the shade, yielding anyway.

Pre-dawn. Kevin singing from the cool green, Circe looking for a place to lie down amid the debris of the desk.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 3, 2013

Yesterday notable for the things I did not do. Each thing I did was beset with idiotic complications, so perhaps it was for the best.

The elderberries are ten feet tall and clouded with white blossoms.

I’m not mistaking for travel anxiety the whopping anxiety I feel. It’s all about Lincoln. Everything rests on one thing, and the universe’s record for yielding to me the fruits of my labor is not good. Nor is my record of non-attachment to the fruits of labor. There we clash upon that darkling plain.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 2, 2013

Dawn chorus. Funny how life changes. I was browsing in a book called “The Joy of Songbirds,” which contains an essay by me about the Carolina wren (whom I, by the way, do not hear this morning). I used to get most of my publications and fame (such as it was) from writing essays about birds. But this morning, holding the book in my hands, I thought, “What an odd thing to do.”

Got into a fit of planting roses, seeing as how I’d bought all the sprays and fertilizers. Climbing the stone steps at the nursery, I felt at my ankles the warm nose of a little terrier who minded everybody’s business. He was much loved. The employees communicated with each other by addressing the dog. “O! Henry! Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a few more pots of marigolds out front?”

Sleeping Beauty at the Wortham last night, Angie’s disciplined and excellently rehearsed (and gigantic) corps. Excellent as all the performers were, I can’t take too much of the Romantic fairy tale ballets, and this dished it out in double handfuls. I tried to suss the cultural message the work was sending. We are the wrong culture, and are likely deaf to the subtleties. But I think it is meant to be a simulacrum of the ideal order, as judged by an enlightened despot. Everything is done for and for the approval of the king and queen, who sit on one side nodding and occasionally doing something gracious. Happy peasants, pretty courtiers exist that the royals might live their fairy tale. If the show is doing its job, we ourselves are momentarily the royals, and nothing like our real selves, the scullions and garden workers and the soldiers at the gates. Little girls watching are always the princess. You could buy wands and tiaras in the lobby to heighten your royal sense of self. Maybe it was an accident of personnel, but the masculine presence on stage was irrelevant. There was a short and pointless hunting party, but that was to get the prince into the woods where he might get entangled in the female intrigue. Centrally, it’s a girl’s dream, where all the attention and all the gifts and all the drama and the biggest tutu are hers. Gentle boys come to court. All they want is to support her while she does her pretty dance. The deadly prick is so obviously sexuality, the bringer of death or, at best, thanks to the Lilac Fairy, prolonged oblivion. The deadly prick can be overcome only by true love, which, again, seems to want only to dance. Marriage is at first the striking of poses, and then sitting on matching thrones watching the peasants and the courtiers make pretty dances for you. When you applaud at the end, I think you’re applauding a girl come successfully to privileged womanhood through many perils. I was fascinated by it mostly in admiration of the skill with which it was done, and for the message sent to us from another day, a day justly now gone.

Drinks afterwards on the terrace of Aloft, a festive evening, with a miraculously ditzy waitress and a salsa-dancing Labrador adding to the show.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 1, 2013

Dream: I had to change clothes on the run for some reason. I was willing to do so in the middle of the street, but someone gestured to me from a big utility van. It was Ellen. She let me change in her van, while informing me that our team (she and I, I guess) had won a poetry slam contest, a victory made the sweeter because it was over my former students at Syracuse.

Opera Creations last night at a day spa in Weaverville. Beautiful catering, beautiful singing.

Dead nervous about Lincoln. Nothing I can do about it now in any case. Knowledge that there’s nothing worse than a hysterical playwright tamps me down.

Sat on the porch and wrote poems that made me weep at the time. We’ll see now by the light of a new day–

I misspelled “the” twice in one paragraph.

The ignored mock orange blooms like a hill of frost on the property line.