Saturday, August 31, 2013

August 31, 2013

My Syrian friend changes his Facebook photo to a Syrian flag with the words on it, “We Are Ready.”

I read the wrong email and my day is annihilated. I decide on physical labor, and drive to Reems Creek, where I buy ferns and shade flowers and ground cover. I dig up where the tomatoes and the cabbage failed in the rain, and I plant the plants. I dig an expansion of the shade garden, pulling the vines and their roots out by main force, cursing when they resist me, or when I think of what I read in the morning. There was a message that directly contradicted it, but the bad one is the one I dwell on. This is my proof for Satan. I know my attitude is sometimes Satanic, but there is nothing I am able to do about it. That, too, is Satanic.  I feel like a chained dog that howls every time it is struck, and the wicked master decides to strike me until I stop howling. It is not going to work. But the garden looks great, and for once have slavered on enough mosquito repellent. Calm and lovely evening. Last night I sat at the desk by the front door and wrote poetry, and I was happy.

Unearthed a grub almost as big as my hand. Had no idea what it was. I turned away, and when I came back to the dig, it was gone.

Oddly repelled recently by alcohol. Counting that as a blessing, though a curious one.

Friday, August 30, 2013

August 30, 2013

Went downtown and met handsome actor friend Patrick Porter, vacationing at his parents’ in Old Fort. Wine and beer at Old South, the whole town passing by, assorted clouds and thunders passing overhead. We chit-chatted to our hearts’ contents. I had not seen him since the reading of Lincoln. “What have you been doing since?” says I. “Fighting prostate cancer,” says he. That pretty much trumped everything. He’s fine now, and looked it. Lightning hit somewhere and the lights went, for a moment, out. Reached my car just as the downpour began. Oddly, I had dreamed that morning that I was in a kind of camp with Broadway producers, and, after listening to them for a couple of days, was just beginning to understand what they meant by what they said.

Transplanted anemones out of where there are too many to where there needs to be something. Hope rain eases them through the night.

Seamus Heaney is dead.

What Shall I Do Now that Heaney Is Gone

I saw him once at the Hawk’s Well in Sligo.
where I had gotten the last ticket,
where he could count on tweedy women to know
the syllables his decades might forget.

Oh, he was a right old man, I thought.
I fussed and critiqued and rearranged the words
the way from this hour forth I will not,
seeing his voice now is the voice of birds

gray on the gray foam skimming the sea,
neither wholly of the water nor of the air,
lost to my known places but–it may be–
gathered to another, wondrous, and there

with Rafftery and heroes of the ‘98,
with Yeats and the porter-blistered throng
to cry in time, now, what came late,
dragging those dark staves quiet into dawn

Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 29, 2013

The spring plague of stinkbugs is evidently to be balanced by an autumn.

Typically a string of students stay after Humanities class to chit-chat. Today the last one was literally trembling. The topic had been Egypt, and I mentioned, in response to a question about bible movies, that there was no independent or Egyptian confirmation of Moses or anybody else in the Old Testament, nor was the slave culture depicted in The Ten Commandments either verifiable or likely. She is a Southern Baptist, had been taken to Creationist Museums, had been told the world was a couple of thousand ears old and dinosaurs and humans coexisted and the like, and the heft of the conflicting testimonies was weighing her down. It’s hard keeping one’s patience at such a moment, for the weight of evidence, reason, and aesthetics is all on one side and only cussedness on the other, but I gathered myself and gave the Galilean explanation that the bible is really not for science, nor is it for history, and those who go looking there for those things are going to be needlessly frustrated. We’ll get soon enough to the contradictions in the Genesis creation stories, so I didn’t even open that door. I shared my personal means of avoiding the spiritual conflict, which, basically, is the conviction that God created and maintains the universe, and does so in the ways described by science. It’s so satisfying to me that I forget that to some it must seem like the sinful serving of two masters. What struck me, though, was her state of fright. I’d never given her cause to be afraid of me. She kept apologizing for being nervous, and I couldn’t fathom quite what she was nervous about, unless somewhere inside she knew what she had been told was wrong, and in a few moments she would have to begin a journey that would take her away from the stories of her cradle.

I had no stories in my cradle. Perhaps I should take time to give thanks for that.

Forgot that the cleaning ladies were to come today, so I’d left them a mess. Was reminded by the smell of pine sol and all the plugs being knocked out of the wall.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 28, 2013

In elaborate dreams I have taken my sister to the opera in Regency London.  We are dressed the part. I keep looking down on an elegant brown sleeve and jacket. I know all the right things to say and gestures to make, and because I‘m proud of being so, I think I am probably newly rich, or newly arrived in the capital. A line of peeresses pretend to be characters in the play, holding out cups for charity in the aisle as we exit, I put two coins in a cup marked, “livelihood.” Lord Byron passes us in the aisle, nodding slightly. I remark to my sister, “Just that was worth the whole evening.”

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 27, 2013

My playwriting students, when given the opportunity to choose their own writing prompt for next week, choose, “God.”

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26, 2013

First Cantaria rehearsal. We are big and enthusiastic. The tenors sound good. I’m singing with the basses, so I don’t know whether we sound good or not. I do have to turn to the giant next to me and say “We need to be singing the same note.” Then he will aim at the note I warble into his ear, and miss, repeatedly, and everyone is listening, and I wish I’d said nothing at all. Sing what you please.

Finished Celestine V and had the inspiration to send it to theater in Rome.

Happy dreams, of travel. We stopped under a bridge where we could buy exotic food and hear choirs of every nation.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 25, 2013

By my count it had been thirteen years since I talked to Nick. For some time he may have been my most important relationship, father and son, brother and brother, and then it was over. Met with him again yesterday down in Biltmore, and we caught up much as we could. Interestingly, he told the same story about the end of our friendship as I would have: too many affronts and betrayals, too much effort on one side and none on the other, too many occasions when he did what a friend would not, repaying with apparent contempt the gestures of love. Actually, he was harsher on himself (and easier on me) than I would have been. “I was hateful to you, so when you stopped calling, I thought it best to leave you alone.”  Therapy and marriage and a good job turned him around. He was the same Nick, with the same enthusiastic attachment to his thoughts and dreams, but this time the thoughts and dreams are sane, and the alcohol is gone. He thanked me for giving him the world his imagination now inhabits. I have a non-addictive personality, so what people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs go through is difficult for me to understand. But the afternoon was good. Even if we never speak again, a tear in the fabric of my life is sewn up again, a question answered, a wound turned to a memory. When we were in Sligo, one of the sages of McGarrigles said to Nick, when I walked in the bar that Nick had inhabited for a while, “David, here is your Jonathan. It’s dangerous for you to get too far from him.” Nick resented it, but it was right.

Reading for the Matthews Prize in the evening. Predictably, the first prize winning poem wasn’t very good, but I enjoyed the evening, and the people I met, and the effect my reading seemed to have. It’s the first time I ate at Mela without getting sick. The secret is gallons of water diluting the spices. One of the visitors teaches at Notre Dame, Baltimore, and I remembered to her the year I walked through that beautiful campus nearly every day on my way to Charles Street.

I wonder if other think that, to some degree, nearly all memories are sad.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

August 24, 2013

Concert in Lipinsky lobby of Asheville Baroque. If I closed my eyes I thought I was in Wigmore. Sat beside Virginia, who was so pleased with her husband, after all these years. Thinness, dryness, which was what the voluptuous evening needed.

Beautiful dreams. I don’t remember them, but I woke happy.

Friday, August 23, 2013

News of the Day

An 88 year old war veteran is beaten to death by teenage boys in Spokane. They use heavy flashlights. Perhaps the photos online are prejudicially chosen, but they show the perps as ignorant punks who were bound to do such a thing sooner or later. The comments on the news article are, by and large, nearly as brainless as the deed itself. I sit here trying to figure this out. A few days ago two boys gunned down another boy apparently because they felt like it. That the murderers in these incidents are black sets the cause of ending racially profiling back a little. Is it race? I think not, for the Republicans– who are overwhelmingly white–do the same thing in way that doesn’t cry out immediately “crime.”  We live in a time when it’s OK to target the weak. We live in a time when what is right is measured by what you can get away with. Cops murder unarmed innocents, and then lie about it, plant false evidence, perjure themselves blue in the face, and get off without reprimand, so why not the boys in the hood? We live in a time of tribalism, when you’ll show off for your buddies no matter how insane the stunt– limiting voting rights, shutting down the government, murdering an octogenarian, all the same. We live in a time when we expect respect though we are not in any way respectable. We want our opinions to be taken seriously even when they are pulled out of our ass. We resent being made to feel bad about ourselves even when we are maelstroms of violence and stupidity. I don’t even know what is a cause and what an effect. I know that the only way to survive from day to day is to shut out 90% of the information flowing into the sensorium.

August 23, 2013

Midday, sweaty and dirt-blackened after a bout with the garden. Up came all the wasted tomatoes, with their rain-swollen vines and rotted fruits. They are surprisingly robust. Gigantic spiders heave themselves around on the stems and in the treetops.

Forty five years of writing poetry began on this date. Maybe I’ll pause around 9 PM, when I began to write my first poem in my little green room facing the street. I was lovesick then and I am lovesick now, though then it was rather more specific.

Added another step to my bench in step aerobics. It made all the difference; I was praising Jesus when the session was over. Zach gave me wild grapes from his yard, They exhibit  the most invigorating spectrum of contrasting tastes.

Stupendous sadness last night, almost too strange to tell of by the light of day. You speak to the Darkness as though it were a rational mind, able to comprehend your argument, able to mend its ways or, at least, show mercy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 22, 2013

Turtlehead in a pink cloud of bloom.

A Dream of Adonis instantly out of print when the editor dies and Pecan Grove Press goes out of business. I write to say I will buy all unsold copies, get no response– though they cash my check for the editor’s memorial.

Short Plays to Long Remember vanishes when the editor gets sick. Cannot be located even to order.

Kick great holes in my afternoons by needing sleep. What do I dream? Of travel, of travel. I know what I must do, look on the calendar for when I can do it.

Good classes today. Present Gilgamesh as though it were a story I just heard. Watched a rapt class.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August 21, 2013

Late start. Aerobics, coffee, a little Bach to ease me on my way. Full light.

First department meeting yesterday, informative, unremarkable, except for new and ever unfolding evidence of the determined effort of the administration to prevent the business of the university. There are always new sets of forms, new and wasteful methods of evaluation and assessment whose only actual outcome is to take away from the business of the university, which is first teaching and next scholarship, and nowhere at any point including exposure to the scrutiny of people who lack the ability to evaluate in any useful way. The administration dilutes our energy by demanding new forms and procedures whose only purpose is to justify their existence. Having nothing really to do (that many of them, anyway) they put us through exercises which they then evaluate. None of it is necessary, or helpful. Teaching and scholarship are the business of the university. Those who are not involved in those things grasp for every tatter of relevance, even if they have to invent it themselves. Everyone seems to be more patient about this than I. Maybe I wouldn’t think so if I were inside their heads. I sound like I’m against evaluation, but I’m not. I’m against evaluation whose sole purpose and only conceivable use is to justify the paycheck of the evaluator.

Third day of class, already two urgent e-mails about having screwed up in inventive ways and missed the first class, and couldn’t I give them a personal update?

Wann kommst du? Ich komme

Putting together a chapbook for a contest. The poem are good. I feel my guts relax, stretch out, as though they had been afraid they weren’t.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 20, 2013

First day of the semester accomplished. It was sweet to see Evan and Ann, the new kids, eager in their offices, awaiting some challenge to meet, some enlightenment to impart. I caught myself crossing the pavement thinking “I have a job!” as though I too were just starting out. The how-was-you-summer? chat in the hall is probably the longest conversation I will have with certain colleagues. We don’t even try to tell ourselves it is enough.

Fantastic dreams. I was tending a garden high on a hill over Istanbul. I walked a few steps farther than I had ever gone before, and a new world opened up, red mountains crowned with snow and shimmering with waterfalls.

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013

Deep night rain. I cozy in the thought that I planted the last of the spurge yesterday and the world is doing my watering.

Tremendous progress on the Celestine play. Scribbling away in the Purgatory of brawling children Had to leave the studio, as I was doing more harm than good.

First day of class, and I’m very Zen, without particular ambitions, without expectations.

Art history dreams. Jason and I sat in a grotto– a great open cave with a waterfall at one end-- debating which painters had the best sense of composition. I said, “Daubigny” without, when awake, any sense of what his paintings look like.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 18, 2013

Watched rain fall slowly on dry soil, into which I had just put a spurge. Darkened, softened, altered ts shape, like bunched muscles relaxing.

If I stopped reading Facebook and the news, would I stop thinking we are a police state run by fascists and lunatics? Would my no longer thinking that make it less the case?

Peaceful Circe asleep against the keyboard, not caring one way or the other. She imagines nothing will touch her here.

Review of the festival in Washington. The reviewer lavished greatest praise on the local boy, but my 16th and Curtis was mentioned among the “also not-so-bad.”

Dreaming about him made me try to find Hugh Schuckman. He’s an emergency room doctor in Akron, and, according to the reviews, apparently a bad one. We were all in love with him when he came back home all muscled up after his tour in the Marines.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August 17, 2013

Odd divorcement, odd ( and wilful) separation from the substance I normally call myself. For the moment, the only way to survive.

Vivid dreams before waking, mostly so complicated there is no way to tell them. But, as near as I can tell, in the last of them I was teaching in a high school. Hughie Schuckman (who was in my Boy Scout troop) was in my class. One of my friends was another teacher who had hurt her foot. It gave her relief if I pushed her along the polished floor rather than her having to take steps. Her husband taught at the school, and I thought it odd that he never helped her. I snuck an X-ray of her foot, and discovered it wasn’t an injury, but an apparatus in her toe which seemed to be spinning out a curious red-orange thread.  There was some sort of contest going on among the homerooms, a contest which would be contended behind complicated screens like those on submarine movies. I wasn’t familiar with the equipment, so I yielded my place as captain of our team to Hughie. But my discovery of the red thread in my friend’s toe alerted everybody that something nefarious was going on. I think it was going to enable her husband’s team to cheat in some now-forgotten way.

I keep noticing the queer silence of the summer mornings. Everybody is exhausted.

Writing about the Davidson sisters of Plattsburgh. I think Poe will be in the play.

Friday, August 16, 2013

August 16, 2013

Last August was turbulent and wounding; so is this one turning out to be. I suppose there’s something in the transition between summer and autumn that brings once face to face with unrealizable, or at least titanically difficult, expectations.

Did greet the new faculty in the department (sweet-faced and eager), finish syllabi.

To the Apothecary last night for an evening of avant garde (self proclaimed) music. Most of it was just painful–and by “just” I mean that there was no other attribute but painfulness, and this was to some degree intentional. Alec was the exception. Alec was working out real ideas with real intention and some degree of virtuosity. He allowed the work to be sometimes beautiful. When the beauty came it was earned.  As the prelude to discovery or splendor is the proper use for painfulness. He knew that. I didn’t hear everybody–I fled after the third and worst–but what I heard was badly digested (and completely unconsidered) theory which has become (and became almost instantly) a cliche. I understand the anger at and mistrust of personal expressiveness in music, but the time when the anger and mistrust were properly articulated as objective inexpressiveness was very brief and is long passed. I sat there blaming university music programs. You cannot teach inspiration. Maybe you’ve even forgotten how to describe it, or know it. But you can teach the manipulation of electronic equipment, so that’s what you do, protecting your limitations by theorizing that’s what you SHOULD be doing. Musicians last night had let the machines write the music. Number three presented stabbingly loud sounds made by the computer, while he played nothing, but ran from one control board to another, twiddling dials. This is called composing because at some point the lad must have chosen what sounds the computer would make and for how long, but a cat on a keyboard can do that, and it might not have been the case at all. He may just have plugged the thing in and let it spew. Yes, he could explain it (maybe), but art that needs to be explained is, finally, not art. Where was virtuosity? I could make compositions of the same order after an hour tutorial on how to use the machines. In what sense is that art? It’s sound-making, surely, but why present that as a created moment? I amuse myself by playing interesting chords on the piano with the pedal down so there’s all sheeny and lustrous and indistinct, but I’d never present that as a discovery or a conviction. It’s an indulgence. Music schools are the worst now of the ones who enforce bad art by despairing of the good, but they are in no sense alone. The film programs with which I am familiar give an excellent background in using the newest machinery, but none at all in actually making a film (which requires a script), and when one goes to a festival, one sees long sequences of beautifully photographed nothing. Art schools are back on track, I think, but for a while you could not get through them without subscribing mindlessly to the commandments of Abstract Expressionism, which also had its moment, but which was made of limitations rather than discoveries or possibilities. In literature, Deconstruction took the academy’s failure to teach inspiration or genius or ideas and asserted instead that none of these things existed, but only the picking away at ravels and loose ends, which the academics were good at already without really trying. You take a deficit and turn it into an orthodoxy. It’s very clever.

Sweet climbing bleeding heart ringing its tiny golden bells. Wild clematis like a dusting of snow over the tops of the shrubs.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August 15, 2013

The trip to the compatriot-honoring North Carolina Writers’ Conference cast my mind onto Ohio poets of the same ilk, and I remembered from Ohio History (7th grade) the names Alice and Phoebe Cary. Turns out they’re interesting, and Alice by no means contemptible by the light of her times. She would have been less ornate had she lived later, but it cannot be helped. I ordered Alice and Phoebe Cary’s Poems from ABE Books, and received the 1864 edition (probably printed in 1876). In it are very old photographs, clippings from newspapers, a thank you note from 1894. It was clearly a beloved and well-thumbed volume, with pages marked with yellow newspapers and specially beloved passages underlined. There seems to be a special classification of writer called “beloved”– the beloved poet James Whitcomb Riley, the beloved poet Alice Cary. Since I’ve been thinking about this, my mind has found no example of a poet who was at once “beloved” and “great.” Frost comes to mind. He may be an exception, but those to whom he is beloved have not read him very closely. Tennyson? I find him great, but for others he may veer into the beloved camp. Sister poetesses got me on to the Davidson sisters, Lucretia and Margaret, about whom I’m trying to write a play. ABE sent me Female Poets of America edited by Rufus Wilmot Griswold, with editions (and a snotty critique) by H. H. Stoddard. The book is quite old, though I can’t find a date, and in it is, possibly, not one single line of distinction. Mr Griswold expresses the view that there is simply no point in looking in a a female for the same genius one looks for in a male. This would be hard to disprove, using his apparently exhaustive volume for proof.  The argument– if I stated it with better care– is not idiotic, though certainly of its time, and touching on psychological differences which we would express in far different ways. You could shuffle the names of the poetesses over the poems and no one would notice, such is the sameness of vision and identity of approach. That was prized in those times, the confidence instilled by a known mark hit and ever after honored.

Quite sensational morning of painting yesterday. I am grateful for it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 14, 2013

Meeting at the Apothecary-that-was confirming our intention to begin again at the Apothecary-that-is-to-be. Our new landlord loves as much as the old landlords squirmed at the thought of us. The boys are all happy and full of renewed energy. The YMI is a difficult places, because Black Asheville apparently wants nothing to do with it and everything White Ashevillians do there is problematic, either inappropriate or tokenism. Not that it ever was those things, but that people will seize any chance to use words like those to make themselves feel sensitive and offended, angling for some advantage, some moment of regard. A UNCA professor lectured poor Frank that even though no African American organization had wanted the space, we should have left it vacant to demonstrate that no organization entitled to it could afford it. David Starkey sniped at us from upstairs, his absolutely incomprehensible conviction of authority carrying him through one humiliation after another. But down in the River Arts District we are birds amid our flock. Nathan will probably premiere his Cthulu opera there.

Went to school and put together syllabi. I was sad. It was maybe as simple at the fact that the radio didn’t work, and the computer said that the radio enabler of my wireless had been “disabled,” and of course I imagined the administration disabling it so we stuck to our work and didn’t listen to the radio. The sad part of that is that it’s not an entirely farfetched idea.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 13, 2013

Absolutely silent summer dawn. The Apothecary boys and I looked at a new space down on Depot Street, in the Pink Dog complex. Except for aesthetically, it is better in every way for us than the needlessly problematic YMI. The boys look for unexpected things in a space, but it is always good to listen to. It would be well for them to develop among them a culture of bathing, but in my long years among youth, I realize that young males go through stage. Maybe there just isn’t time.

I continue to mend. Except for a little quiver of weariness, I’m back to where I was.

Stupendous effort at revision of plays in these last days of freedom.

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013

The health signs yesterday morning were deceptive. I did get up and go to Alma’s brunch, which was nice, but by the end of it I was sick indeed. Could not finish the lovely omelet. Came home, lay down and did not get up again. I was hot and monstrously heavy and unfathomably tired. I felt like a thick pool of lava. It is cool morning now and I feel better, though still tired.  MR was the other guest at the brunch, which was ironic, as he was one who, because of sheer weirdness, I’d resolved not to meet again. Alma and I discussed the next reunion, and who of the Class of 1968 would be the last one standing. Ironically, before Wednesday I had congratulated myself several mornings on a feeling of intense physical well-being. Never let the gods hear what you’re thinking.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 11, 2013

Relapse or set-back, feeling worse today than I did yesterday. Maybe the antibiotic isn’t strong enough. Violent plumbing-related illness during the night. A friendly invitation to Sunday brunch presents, now, whole field of dilemmas. Cooked mightily yesterday (trying to use up the bounty of tomatoes), and now everything I cooked is sickening to me. But I did have a magnificent day at the studio, painting better–without the element of luck–than I have generally in the past.

Reading  E’s new book reminded me why I hate jazz. The his work possesses is the talent of improv, of riffing. It gives itself a theme or a character and goes to town on it, weaving poems out of streams of association. We all did this as eager undergraduates, but most of us let somebody beat it out of us. The streams of association almost never have a point or a revelation or a fresh understanding attached to them. They sound erudite but lack understanding of what to do with that erudition. He has the autodidact’s misunderstanding of what information is for. The work reminds me of those snakes that thrash their tails about in dry leaves so that they might be taken for rattlesnakes. This is also my feeling about jazz improv, which I never found the means to express before. It is a knot of associations, each knot like the other and leading not to a new thing but to a whole line of knots, the more repellent as they are the more showy or secret, almost always less interesting (because more ego-driven) than the original theme. This is also the difference between Baroque improvisation and jazz improvisation: one ornaments a thing or an idea, the other aggrandizes the improvisor. I hate jazz so much that perhaps I have misinterpreted it, but this explains my hatred even if it doesn’t justify it. E (deliberately, now that I think of it) lost his opportunity to learn what poetry is in order that he might start the sooner being taken for a poet. It is hard to condemn that very much, as it is the wasteful  camouflage of this whole age.

I’d gone to the café to write (thinking I might be inspired by that book, and be able to tell the author so), and was thwarted on all sides. Taking up all the terrace but my little corner was a boiling, stentorian, unfettered family, everyone screaming (literally) to be heard before her sister could be, shrilling out such a chorus of “Me! Mine! Mommy!” as I’ve never heard before Tiny feet were stamped, minds changed the tenth time at the ordering counter, plates grabbed and spilled, bodies hurled onto the ground in ecstasies of thwarted self-will.. There were three aggressive, selfish little girls and two boys apparently beaten into sullen submission on the periphery. Under the din, Mommy could be heard sometimes explaining the importance of making good decisions. The worst of the little girls would be sent to sit by herself in the car, but daddy would go immediately to comfort her and bring her back into the fold, where she would lose not one second in restarting the turmoil she had just been exiled for. No adult ever said “No” or “stop that.” Except once when the brattiest of them crashed against my table, demonstrating how far she wanted to get from her siblings. Mother said, “Don’t bother the nice man!”  The littler boy had gone to the toilet by himself, came back crying and wiping his eyes with his sleeve. His father said, “Did you go potty? Did you go potty? Did you go potty?” I swear to God he repeated it fourteen times in that public eating space AFTER I began counting. I butted in once and ventured that the little sparrow opening and closing her beak on the chair frame was remembering the time when she would do that and mother would be there to stuff a bug into it. She was being weaned, as it were. If I thought this would distract them, I was wrong. The wail went up immediately, the shrilling chorus of longing to take care of the little bird (which had long since flown away), and not as a family project either.. “I want to take care of it!. . . NO! I saw it first, I want to take care of it. . .” and so on until they packed into their station wagon and shuddered on. By then the Muse too had fled away.

I think now the extra bad feeling this morning is the fever breaking. I feel sweaty and ebullient. I have learned to recognize this as good.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

August 10, 2013

Brought concrete blocks to raise up DJ’s bed so it’s easier to get in and out. It’s still not quite at a normal height.

Revised my dad-dying play into one half good, half bad into one quite good. You do that by taking out all the things you really wanted to say. Going to look at others while the mood it on me. I leave some projects a revision or so from perfection under the (subconscious) conviction that my pretty good efforts are better than other people’s finished products. I’m not convinced this is untrue, merely something the gods won’t let me get away with.

Glorious riot of bloom on the front bank, one golden sunflower setting off the dozen red-purples of the morning glories. A white hydrangea sends its ghost through the first-of-morning dark, the first visible thing.

Missed two readings last night. You fall into wasteful arithmetic– “well, they didn’t come to MY reading. . .” My public excuse was that I was still too exhausted to drag myself out of the house once the sun was down.

Friday, August 9, 2013

August 9, 2013

Daybreak after illness. One is very tentative, holding on to signs that it is gone, testing one’s strength, wondering, “do I go to the gym today for a very light one?”. An odd pain low down on my abdomen started with the fever, and so I thought it was related, but it lingers (worsens) and the phrase “kidney stone” crosses my mind. That wouldn’t be fair: I’m the most hydrated person in the world. It is completely and eerily silent at this hour. The tapping of the keys is the loudest thing in the world. Fever opens the mind to thoughts one normally compartmentalizes. I’ll spend at least the morning sorting those out, choosing the ones to consider and the one to slip back in the files.

The wheel is very large, but one cannot quite get off it.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

August 8, 2013

What a dark day. Rain kept Jason from coming. Mid afternoon I was down with a massive attack of phlebitis. Hours into it, lying on the couch, I answered a late call to hear that DJ had fallen and punctured a lung and broken some ribs. I was absolutely helpless, being unable to move farther than from the couch to the phone. Luckily he was with the Bryants, so all was well there. I am at least upright this AM, so what comes can be handled.  The fever brought on ceaseless cycles of dreams about two competing rural ambulance services. Weird. My mind simply could not let it go. I am still sick enough to have made a typo in every other word.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August 7, 2013

Planted spurge with purple and gold leaves, and spurge with green and yellow leaves.

The thing to remember is that lies are not Satan’s only weapons. He can and does tell the truth, when the truth is damaging, or sorrowful now beyond hope. Get thee behind me.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

August 6, 2013

Thought I was going to get the truck an inspection after my workout at the Y, ended by spending $500 on the replacement of various objects and fluids. To be fair, I had not checked or replaced anything since I bought the dear thing, and it was time for a little attention. Hiked to Bruegger’s for coffee, noting how distinctive the coffee crowd was there from that at Edna’s or Starbucks, the places I habituate. Since I was already in the truck, I went to Reems Creek and bought a green-flowed hydrangea, snakeroot, sage, hyssop, black-eyed Susan, with much hacking and pulling got them all into the ground. Most of them were bought as quick-spreaders,  brutal and greedy,  to try to outrun the tangle of vines that have ruled Carolyn’s bank since time immemorial. I rather overdid, and spent the end of the day thinking I was exhausted and sick, when in fact I was only exhausted. A night, then, of the most fantastic dreams, radiant, lengthy, mythological. Perhaps I put that down to retiring stone cold sober.

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5, 2013

Bad day yesterday in the mind, but rather productive in things you do to get out of the mind. Attacked the thicket between my house and Carolyn’s (with her fervent encouragement) now that the biggest lumber has been cut out. Labors there include the added necessity of cleaning out clutter and garbage (including, oddly, a number of potatoes) which somehow got flung there. I guess she’s just a farm girl living on a city lot.  Kelly wondered if another sweet gum limb had fallen, but I told her it was the arborists, and she looked wistfully up into the loftiest branches which still slightly over hang her yard and said, “What about those?” I did not reply what was in my heart, which was , “I hope I’m long gone dead before anything happens there.”

Pulled out a two-bucket harvest of tomatoes, which neither squirrels not rot had gotten.

But the best thing was getting back in touch with Jason. I cruised him on Facebook, and he accepted the cruise. I remember back in the day thinking about our friendship, how easy it was, how sustaining. how it accepted every new level one of us took it to. He was in a friend-lopping phase then, and I kept wondering if I would get lopped one day. I don’t think that’s exactly what happened– thank God neither of us said “What the hell happened?”–but I missed him, and thought I’d take a chance. He has a full-time teaching job at Lees McCrae in Banner Elk for next semester. His little boy is named Casper.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

August 4, 2013

Dark, silent. TE posted a new Facebook photo. I spent a long time looking at it. The face I loved with such then-unparalleled desire, with such constancy and hope, the love I took to the dark hills of Syracuse praying that it might be returned to me in some measure, praying that effort and determination might make him love me as mere association seemed not to be doing,  the love that made me kid and giving and selfishly vengeful by turns, that face, which I would not have recognized had the name not been attached to it. He looks like his dad. He is an old wrinkly man, with slanted. happy eyes. I prayed that his life might come to nothing without me– that’s how bad it was– but have no idea where his life went at all. Nieces write under the picture how handsome their uncle is, and how they miss him. What does that tell me? That he went where I did, only me without the handsomeness and the missing? Don’t know, am afraid to ask lest the answer be silence. I would have been a better man had he said yes to me, the tree of bitterness forced to take a different root, or none at all. Perhaps I should tell him that.

New glasses, hard to look at anything too long, a day of writing wasted, though the studio garden got weeded and I finished a painting. Could focus on You Tube videos, and so watched them for most of the day.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

August 3, 2013

Good time at the studio. Ample nap time under the near-perfect skies. Got my new glasses, which I suppose provide better vision, but which at the moment are making me sick. The gynocracy at the optician’s instructed me in every detail of care and adjustment.

Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys at SART. Simon knew how to write ‘em, so they clicked along like little clockwork toys. Despite classy acting, not a memorable evening of theater. Dear God, R has gotten old! Drinks at Avenue M, chat with handsome Jake, then hollowly to bed.

Friday, August 2, 2013

August 2, 2013

Remarkable network of dreams before waking, which I know are connected with my anxiety over The Falls of the Wyona. In the dream I suddenly remember the publisher who was keenly interested in my work, the agent who was enthusiastic and dying to see the next thing I produced. Of course, there were no such people, and my conscious mind tries to correct my dream mind, but the dream mind recognizes the layering of reality, and I know on all levels that I’ve dreamed of these people before, and they have the kind of reality that comes from a kind of experience. Dream mind makes conscious mind believe that prolonged disappointment has merely made it forget, so we plunge into the search. I find the agent in a gigantic ultra-modern office building beside an airport. She is interested. We discuss the text (which she has miraculously read) in depth. Of course, the book is not my book, and I learn it as we discuss it. On the page it looks like the Talmud, text in the center and annotations all around. She gives me a new copy of Pound’s Cantos, saying, “See, even the great ones get remaindered.” Then I hear Maud throwing up in the kitchen. The famous writer who was interested in me is visible even now, standing in front of a brick building at Exeter or Cambridge or somewhere, alive inside my head as though it were a cinema with two reels running at the same time.

Rutter on Spotify. Waiting for it to be over.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

In the Cafe

So, a year ago today I was in Sligo. I had to read my journal to remember what actually happened, the time is so shellacked over with a sense of sadness. Today is better for me, though I am not in Sligo but in the local café, watching a candidate for mayor work the room. I told him I favored Esther Manheimer and what could he do to talk me out of it, and he passed on.

News boils over on all sides that the State has revoked the license of the local abortion clinic. One should not be surprised by any atrocity committed by our vandal legislature, but still one is, expecting reason or compassion to enter the argument somewhere. They do not. The Republicans are naughty stupid boys who stole the keys to the clubhouse and mean to do as much damage as they can before they’re tossed out. There’s not even a sense of shame or self defense among them, they play so purely to one another, without regard to any discernible constituency. Women on Facebook blame this on The Patriarchy. I confess that I have no conception of Patriarchy, and though one may say I don’t see it because I’m part of it, my perception is that men are as baffled by this tyranny as women are. The words “the patriarchy” describe nothing real, to me, though one hardly dares to say that in public. If men are in office, it is because women voted for them. Are women really controlled by men against their wills? If that has been the case, I don’t understand why it continues to be the case. I read somewhere that no rule can continue without the consent of the people ruled, and I believed it. Were I a woman would I think otherwise? No way of telling. On the other hand, a female-devised-and-driven Nazism is inconceivable. There is something in the male mind that allows self-satisfied group decisions (I suppose it has something to do with cooperation in the hunt), without the clear impulse to distinguish between helpful group initiatives and dreadful ones. Maybe that’s the patriarchy, the male tendency (and I recognize it in me) to turn temporary consensus into inflexible and eternal rule. Oh well. If some woman passed out flaming torches and wanted to lead us to burn the State House, I would follow her.

August 1, 2013

Submerged in something, don’t know exactly what. I suppose a renewal of the old War with Heaven, though as the years pass the stakes get lower and the engagement less dire, as the prospect of any reasonable reward for victory thins. What if I should receive everything I labored for through the years this very minute? One cannot really call a change at the end of life a change of life.

Hibiscus in glorious bloom. Have not yet had the chance to hack the area John the Fragrant Tree Man opened up into order.

Have a a running start on my third Lincoln play.

Thinking the swelling and stiffness on the middle finger of my right hand is, also, gout– which has not gone away this time but subsided into something barely noticeable.  Nothing is prevented, but all is made more laborious.

Slid almost imperceptibly from dreams. I lay there on the bed, and when I saw the outline of a cat’s head against the paler window, I though, “I am awake,” and then I was.