Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 31, 2014

Will ran the mower over the front yard of 62 yesterday. It’s the first time in 20 years it’s felt the mower. I feel like a soldier who has left a companion behind. Took a last rose and a last fern away yesterday morning, and left my hedge clippers, but I don’t think I can go back for them. I don’t think I can look upon what’s happened. My garden was so beautiful to me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 30, 2014

Will left me a note saying the first great assault-by-weed-whacker comes today, so yesterday I hurried to 62 to see what else I could save. Got a rose (it may be another Mr. Lincoln, but who has too much red?) and a cinnamon fern, went back for the two hart’s tongue ferns. As I was digging them up I ran afoul of another yellow jackets’ nest (or the same one grown imperially huge) and was stung repeatedly before I could pull the last fern from the ground. Somehow this attack didn’t infuriate me as much as the first one did, though like it, it smarted all night, and I still feel the stings this morning. I believe that I’ve raised my lifelong sting count by a half this summer alone.  Before I had quite got the re-planting done, an attack of gout roared up in my right big toe, an immense one, the kind where there is nothing to do but sit and writhe. Took the pills. Writhed. Moaned a little. Had to go to Ann’s for a meeting with a student about the Roman plays of Shakespeare and, figuring it wouldn’t hurt in one place more than another, I went. Forgot that it would be additional agony pressing the accelerator and the brake. Especially the brake. Prayed for the idiots in front of me to get away from the green light before I had to brake. The pills made me so groggy I hope I didn’t fall asleep talking to the bright and eager kid. Made it through the night. Sending my bit of Hungarian lace to my niece this morning.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29, 2014

Cool morning, the last many hours scrubbed to emerald and sapphire by storm.

I have sometimes remarked and often recognized that my appearance is totally unrelated to my spirit, not at odds with it, maybe, but not a clear picture, not a true part of the narrative. I don’t look like who I am. Opening a magazine yesterday, I had a shock in seeing my true face, the face I would have if I looked like who I am. It was a boy in a fashion ad, solemn and maybe a little suspicious in expression, but the soul of me. I tore the page out, and every time I look at it, the surprise, the unquestionable recognition is renewed. Our dialog is still too mysterious for me to put into words.

I wish I knew what to believe out of a host of plausible mythologies. Either God got it wrong, or I did something before this birth to skew things just enough that the skew is the base point of all my thought.

Finished Washington Place with the revelations that came in the night.

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014

Marin Marais on Spotify

The meadow rue is crowned with delicate lilac flowers. Every time I see it I am filled with a swelling of joy. What is better, I forget that it’s there, so each time I enter the back bathroom and discover it in its shady corner, the pleasure renews. There came a tremendous thunderstorm last night, the rain as hard as I ever hope to see it, for a few minutes. When I peered out into the dark this waking, I saw that the lawn chairs had been blown into the rue’s plot. I rushed out, but even in the dark I could see that the lacy plant stood firm, despite the storm, despite the masses the storm hurled at it. The metal watering can was blown from under the back porch and half way across the lawn. The screen was blasted out of the attic window.  One pine limb is down, but in the dark I could see no other damage. No need for watering today.

Progress on the Triangle play.

Selection of Brando’s Cat by Changing Scene in Tacoma for their summer festival.

Got tickets and a room at the Paramount for Adam’s Twelfth Night.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27, 2014

Stiff wind coming from an unusual direction makes something in or near the house whistle, high, clear, a little disturbing until I find out what it is. I thought someone was outside my window playing the penny whistle.

Odd dreams, in which it was desperately important to be somewhere, and by no means could one get there. Looking for parking places in a dream. Trying to get cell phone service in a dream. Chris Tanseer was my companion.

Had a ticket for last night’s NC writers’ banquet, but in the end the Airport Road Clarion did not exert enough pull to draw me out of the house, where I, in any case, was hard at work on my Triangle play.

Saturday was a strenuous day first of cleaning out the garage for Will and settling the things thus uprooted, mostly at the Riverside space. Stopped by the hardware store for one plant to fill in a corner, came away with half a dozen, which required the turning over of new garden patches. Two brown irises ready for next year, two blue Japanese irises, a dark red tree peony, butterfly weeds to intensify the already orange-y front garden. The weather was glorious; anything one did in it was blest.

I suppose disgust with bad poets who make themselves public is a minor motif of my life. The problem is that so many of them mean so well.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

July 26, 2014

Hadn’t expected yesterday to turn into Gardening Day, but it did.  After the hewing of the walnut, and recalling what Will had said about his plans for 62, I decided to get out as much of what was imperiled as I could. The bloodroots are so entangled with other things this time of year that I could extract only one. I took another native hibiscus, the Mr. Lincoln rose, a big fern, a peony (the one left with the oddest foliage), and an iris that came up with the peony. Watered hugely and often against the dry heat of the day. The rose came out of the ground as though it had never committed to the space where it was planted a few years back. In a fit of enthusiasm I ordered four roses on the Internet, and will have to dig more garden to put them in, having filled all readily available land in six months.

Reading at Malaprops afterwards, dismal except for the encountering of old friends. It wasn’t the emcee's reading, but he is such a show-off you came away thinking it was. Was meant to attend another reading at the Wolfe House, but it was too crowded and I was too dispirited. I coveted the cake being served, but it seemed too crass to grab a slice and run. Did have a calm Riesling at the wine bar. The man beside me never stopped fiddling with his phone, except to tell me a particular seat was taken, which it wasn’t. I do not resist messing with my phone; I am not even tempted, having grown up with such a near-morbid attentiveness to the world around me.

Sally Stang posts a photo of me from Hiram. It’s the way I look today, in my own mind. I’m biting a nail in some forgotten anxiety.

Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25, 2014

I don’t know what I was dreaming, but I woke while the dream was uttering the line, “and we went to live in the stone city of the Nabateans.”

Mother’s birthday. She would have been ninety today– the same age as my house. That is a startling thought, for I think of the house as very old indeed, as something from a bye-gone age, and I never think of her that way. For she never was. She never saw her 50th year. It’s hard for a child not to know whether his mother loved him or just sort endured him. I have always assumed the best, and then let evidence wear down the golden edifices through time. But. . . no matter now.

It is a comfort–amid all these things–to understand that when the writing all but writes itself, then it is right.

The sky’s an odd green-gray before dawn.

Cut down the last of my black walnuts. Its revenge was that it was covered in ticks.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 24, 2014

Watched an old Tarzan movie, Tarzan’s Secret Treasure, which I probably saw in my youth a dozen times. Get to hear Jane’s operatic screech. Boy pursues a sea turtle in an African pond. What struck me in particular this time was the actor Barry Fitzgerald. He had worked at the Abbey with W. B Yeats and Lady Gregory, and there he was acting the fool in a Tarzan flick. It was difficult to cram all into one concept. Emotional roller-coaster summer. Are they all, and I just forget? Yesterday was good. Peg came by to see the new house, bearing a loaf of bread. Will says his floor guy says that the floors at 62 look barely cat vomited-upon at all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23, 2014

Revision of Budapest poems. Steaming ahead with the Triangle play. A day half overcast, ambivalent. Drove to the Ford dealership thinking I was going to buy a Lincoln. Didn’t like the Lincoln (it would be like driving a sofa) and so came away with the elated notion that I had just saved $40,000. Bought another native hibiscus instead. Net savings: $39, 995.00. Man at Jesse Israel who talked with me about witch hazel: electrifyingly sexy. I look for good things on the 23rd of each month.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22, 2014

Went under thunderheads of wrath to the optometrist’s finally to resolve to issue with my “new” glasses. Discovered that it was less one day of a year since I first went to get them, and that my warranty expired the very next day. My wrath grew as this doctor, too, explored every way in the world to convince me that the glasses were all right. The old glasses, the ones that are on my head now, they condemned as being “wrong,” though I could and can see through them perfectly. Finally, though, she decided that the new lenses were ground wrong and that I was always looking through the wrong part of them. She put dots on them to show where certain parts were, and that they were an astonishing distance from where they should be. Another pair in ten days. Part of me is thankful for the good luck in coming the day before my warranty expired; part of me is enraged that it took a year and a series of dismissed complaints to get it done. Is it done? We’ll see. My rage is not settled, even now, if that’s what the rage is about.

The glasses people opened two hours late yesterday because of some meeting, so I stormed out to Lowe’s and bought flowers from the last-of-the-season bin. One was joe-pye. Don’t even know what the other was, though it looks onion-y.

Ran hard at the Y to no ill effect. Made surprisingly little progress on my play. I think I have to have a payday before I can work anymore.

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21, 2014

Sang in church after long absence. Showed Will the plants at 62, so he can decide what to keep, what t let go of. The mulberry is a golden conflagration. The paw-paws stand way above my head. I wish I could think of a way to get them here. My guts relax at this becoming solid after months of speculation. The exchange is low on profitability but so high on convenience that one is overjoyed to let it go. Loaded up on all the mulch I could need for a foreseeable future. Will found a little journal I had left behind– one bought me by Jay and Anise, in which I chronicle my New Orleans sojourn long ago. My keel is firm beneath me now that I have a writing project.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20, 2014

I was weeding before the rain, and the plants I pulled up are still green from having the rain fall on their exposed roots, and do not yet know that they are dead.

Moon landing anniversary. I was a Playground Supervisor then at King School, and was going to bed after a long day, when my dad made me come to the living room to watch it on TV, saying, as he seldom did, “You’ll remember this forever.” He was right. It was dark and silver.

Will is refinishing the floors at 62, which means, I suppose, finally settled in my mind, that the deal is a done deal. Levels of relief!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

July 19, 2014

Hummingbird at my bee-balm patch. I envision an acre of scarlet bee-balm, fluttered over by vibrating wings. . . .

Sudden inspiration to write a play abut the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. One of those projects finished in conception after the first four or five pages are laid down.

Went three times to the studio and entered to work only once. One time I realized I was too drowsy to work. Another time the “new” glasses (which I have been struggling with for a year) hurt me so bad I couldn’t see. Third time was a charm. Fixed some paintings, foresaw what is to come.

Friday, July 18, 2014

July 18, 2014

Woke blessing the rain.

Some apologist for the idiot McCrory suggested that the nonentity was appointed Poet Laureate because there was no reason such an appointment should please only the elite. I considered this concept with more favor than I expected. Now, it is clearly not the reason for the appointment– the reason is that McCrory cares so little about poetry that he took the first name attached to someone he owed a favor anybody flung at him– but the idea that poetry belongs to the masses, and there is no immediately obvious reason why the good poetry beloved by the few should have precedent over the bad poetry beloved by the many, is intriguing. Only a politician would take that concept very far, though. A mediocre engineer or a mediocre doctor or a mediocre chef would never (but for cases of cost-cutting, which hardly counts in anything to do with poetry) be preferred over excellent ones, EXCEPT in the realm of politics, where excellence of character or of mind doesn’t count at all, or is a detriment. Politicians are so used to operating in situations where actual worth doesn’t count that merit-blind decisions are the rule of any day. That some poetry should be “better” than others is a foreign concept to some, and I do understand why. I am a teacher in order to correct such notions, in order to point out the excellence of the excellent, but I do recognize the thinking. Giving people with bad taste in poetry their own laureate is actually a rather charming concept, though one would think bad taste is rather over-rewarded already. The word “elite” dropped into any conversation skews, or ends, thought, but one must remember that “elite” means “better,” even now. This “better” is objective, and not a class issue at all, says this scion of factory workers from Akron. If a person chooses the worse art over the better, it is exactly the same as finding the wrong solution to an equation or building a crooked wall. We have not helped ourselves by blurring the distinctions between good and bad, between right and wrong. We have not made some great egalitarian, non-judgmental utopia: we have given up the quest. Besides, no one is more judgmental than the ignorant.

Met with W, whose project for graduate school with Antioch I am to mentor. She wants to organize a reading centered on animal rights. She is very serious about this, and we had a discussion over chai, because of my not really knowing where the parameters of animal rights thinking are these days. I know for myself, to edge toward the radical frontier of this party would be to fill my life with too many contradictions to function.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17, 2014

Welcome-home dinner for K at Avenue M, then the crowd retired to my place, some of them to take it in for the first time.  I’m an awkward host. What lights to turn on for atmosphere? Should there be music? Offer what to whom? The cats are far better at it, offering their immediate affection and interest.

The burly lawn guys were here yesterday. The mower got jammed on the back of their truck, and there was a great struggle to release it.  One of them was goofy and the other was serious. The goofy one made the serious one smile. They work at a furious pace.

Reading applications for our opening at the university. They are so detailed and professional, so savvy about the correct jargon, it makes me wonder how I ever got a job. Someone should write a book on the rising and ebbing tides of what I call fake disciplines, disciplines that are all the rage for a while, and everybody does a dissertation on them and brags about intimacy with them in their cover letters, and then they disappear. It was Deconstruction in my day, I think.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 16, 2014

Much indignation on Facebook about Governor McCrory’s appointing a self-published poetaster from downstate as the new state poet laureate, against established protocols. Of our idiot governor’s misdeeds, that is perhaps not the least, though it does show the honor in something like its true colors, in that it never has had that much to do with poetry.

Good painting yesterday, though with revision and pentimenti, I’m not much further along than I was before.

Blessed rains yesterday, though in the space of a night weeds have popped up, juicy and brazen, where there were none.

J asked me to write a blurb for the cover of a book a local publisher is preparing. The book is a “project,” which is to say, very, very bad poems– awful, awful poems– which nevertheless exalt a political stance currently above criticism. What a dilemma! We in Academia often face the question of how to deal with great art by bad people, but less often the question of how to deal with execrable art by praiseworthy people. My inclination is to think that bad art is a kind of vice, and must not be praised for any end. Less savagely, can a person, however pure-hearted, really serve his quest by creating bad art? Were he sincere, would he not learn sufficient craft to say something worthwhile, or sufficient modesty to shut up and serve in another way? There is nothing in the work to indicate that the author actually felt these emotions or had these experiences himself. They are the expected things said in the expected way. The author knew what would get him praised by the thoughtless and enthusiastic of his party, and that is what he did. I wrote the blurb. I never praise the work, though I praise the intention, violating my own precept that they must be one. Sigh.

Related, I suppose, is the perception last night while channel-hopping that there are at least twenty channels dedicated to Christian evangelism, each with its sweatily enthused clergy witnessing to swollen congregations waving their hands as if trying to snag the Holy Ghost from the air. It’s best not to look at these things too closely, for looked at closely they are horrifying. No one goes to those sessions, or turns them on from their sofas, hoping to learn anything. They want to hear confirmation of what they already know. They want to be lifted from their seats by the rush of BELIEF that they felt genuinely once, maybe, and have been trying to get back ever since. They want to turn the visitation of the Spirit into a kind of appliance that can be turned on and off according to the mood. How often can the same scriptures be “illuminated”? How many stories of lives turned around by Mercy and Revelation can the body of believers stomach? Numberless infinitudes, apparently. The bad poet and the bad believers are alike in accepting–no, preferring–the knock-off to the real thing. I caught myself thinking that if only all these evangelists would shut up, if every holy book could be closed and every witness humbled for a little while, something like true faith might find its way through the silence.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 15, 2014

Through Tennessee and Virginia, most of the radio stations were country, and as the return trip was on Sunday, most of them played Gospel, and every single artist was a man or a men’s quartet.

Without consciously making the decision, I dedicated yesterday morning to the garden, rumbling to Reems Creek for a truckload of mulch and soil, and spreading half of it before the noon sun was in the sky. Also, a variegated white and pink hibiscus, which could not be resisted. My shoulder, which cannot lift the sheet off itself in the morning, still can haul bags of mulch pretty well.

This is the first recollection of which I am sure:

It is high summer. I am a child, a baby, and I cannot be alone. But I feel alone. Behind me is a dark house, cool and empty. Before me is a brightness that cannot be fathomed unless one is inside it. I am at the Border. My tiny hands are pushing at a screen door, unsure whether it will open or not. It opens. I step out under a curt porch roof that shields me a little while longer from the light. I wait for a voice to call me back where it is cool and safe. No voice calls. The inside is my mother’s place, but she is not there now, or she does not call. I move a step, and another step, and then I am in the light. What was invisible through excess of brilliance is clear now. It is my father’s garden at summer noon. I do not know the names of the flowers, but I name them somehow anyway: cosmos and gladiolas, bleeding-heart and sunflower, touch-me-not, tiger lily, petunia, zinnia, all jumbled together in clashing colors, the strong blooms of full light, nothing exotic, nothing taking any care but to sow and water and to look on in their glory. A working man’s garden. In a while I’ll recognize it as a stern no-nonsense Depression garden, sown in the spaces between the necessary vegetables. But on that day it was different. It is possible that I had never been alone in the outside before. It is possible that my mother was napping or talking on the phone, and lost track of me for a moment, and there I was in the blast of gold that I recognized even then as male, and dangerous.

Red wooden steps lead up into the tiny forest behind the garden. The steps keep back a tide of alyssum. Dare I climb? I want to climb. The interior of the forest is difficult to see behind the blast of noon light. It’s not that I’ve never been there before, but someone took me. Someone shielded me from what I would meet there were I alone. I step deeper into the yard that has the flowers for its walls. I realize a voice is speaking to me from the center of the light. I realize that something my father has done with the flowers, and that they have done to this space of earth, has made it a holy place. Someone is speaking to me from the center of the light. I walk toward it. I walk out into the center.

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014

Bastille Day. Hard, bright moon. Woke not totally refreshed. The cats must have sensed this, and were extraordinarily receptive of their breakfast.

T and I sat at an outdoor table in Blacksburg, and man came by and called my name. He said, “I’d know that voice anywhere!” He was from All Souls, and knew me as Saint Nicholas.

Watched the finals of the World Cup. I arbitrarily decided to root for Germany, so I was pleased at the outcome, though also dismayed by the cameras’ focusing on the crushed and weeping Argentines. It took the joy out of the joy, though, of course, I was not the one actually victorious. The kid who scored the goal must still be walking air.

Will back in touch. I think I’m going to be the only homeowner in the world who will not realize a profit from the sale of his house. You start out being patient and generous, wanting to help a young family forward; you end by being exhausted and suspicious, wondering why nobody thought to help you in the same way, or anywhere near. I’ve always felt contempt for the rules; I suppose it’s only right for them to decline to work for me.

Inspired by T’s running book, started writing about my garden.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 13, 2014

The drive from here to Blacksburg is, largely, paradise, through the ragged mountains and the ditches all filled with chicory, just a shade purpler than the sky. The length of the drive just touches the sunny side of fed-up. A great red-tail dived at me just at the college gate. The field outside my window at the University Inn was beautiful, rolling down to a stately bog. Virginia Tech is unimpressive architecturally but quite large, with a dear little college town at its edges. I hadn’t seen T in–what?– 33 years, a third of a century–and I wondered if things would be difficult or dramatic. They weren’t, but normal and comfortable, as though we’d seen each other yesterday. It took me a minute to adjust to his obliqueness, perhaps him one to adjust to my directness. He introduced me as “the man who taught me to write.”  I keep thinking of him as “the poet,” though he himself left that, deliberately, long ago behind. I never leave anything behind. That’s one of my blunders.

There was a dance piece and a dramatic piece at the black box theater based on his new book. The book is far better than either of them. The dance was fun, the dancers attractive and full of application. They danced around a white paper forest that hung from the ceiling–making for interesting and imperfect sightlines– and which endured–an even worse idea–for the dramatic piece. The one-women show-- except for getting T’s beautiful images out into the air– was, to me, offensive. The woman acted herself doing a one-woman show, a piece for a resume rather than the homage one might have expected. She was always in the room but never in the script. She was showing off. At odds with the showing off was the fact that she had not bothered to memorize the script. The female voice was a perverse choice for this work, which related so much, and inescapably, the emotions of man. But, it is better that both dance and monolog exist than not, and I was glad to see them. They are exactly what university theaters should be doing now and everywhere.

Off to his big house on a mountain, where L had made us supper. We talked, caught up a little, ironed out misconceptions we had about one another’s last three decades. What I interpreted as a third century of abandonment and dismissal, T explained as shyness.  Well, OK. I can almost see that.  After dinner a walk in the woods T mentioned in his book, a close look at places to which he alluded. He and I both noticed the similarity to Maytree. A woman warned us we were going to be attacked by geese, but we were not. A deer stood in the bog, her broken leg held at an odd angel, wondering of we were gong to pursue her. I could barely look at her. I’ve never adjusted to tragedy about which I can do nothing, especially when I could hit it with a thrown stick. The forest floor hopped with bay toads.

It was grand to see what I took to be a fully functional partnership. Even at the dinner table, after however many years it was, they were wooing each other, explaining each other, inclined to each other’s tone and expectation.

In the hotel bar there were happy kids–from a wedding party, I think–talking about how wonderful Asheville is. I chimed in that I am from there, and we talked about their favorite places. They, too, love Wicked Weed, but had a bad experience at the Coxe Avenue Asheville Pizza, because everyone there, they said, was smelly and unclean. After vodkas, to bed. The drive home, me now sitting in my upstairs study, wishing I’d turned the fan on before I sat down, cat on my foot, recording.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 12, 2014

As much anxiety over a three hour drive in Virginia as over a flight to Europe, maybe because I haven’t spent a second planing. What’s to plan? Says the light. Something, says the shadow. Yesterday was a good day; I stood aside from myself.

Unbelievable radiance of moon.

Friday, July 11, 2014

July 11, 2014

Woke from a dream in which I had been assigned to reclaim treasures stolen by the Confederacy. It was long and involved, but I remember chiefly the end, in which Robert E Lee and I were in an abandoned mansion each trying to claim a great cache of Confederate money before the other, while somebody shot clouds of scalding steam at intervals through the building, just to make it interesting.

Lunch with D and A. The conversation was mostly of B, as one might imagine, they conforming, or even intensifying, the cloud of witness. Interestingly, none of the information was exactly new. You hear things and set them aside, taking them, as you hope people will take your peculiarities, as isolated incidents. Sometimes they are not.

Amazed by how much of the day can be spent in sleep. My cats and I are having a contest. Their victory is not as sure as once it was.

Picked up the book Gods and Heroes, which was important to my childhood, and renewing acquaintance with the Greek myths. They are far more interlocking and sequential than I remember. It was all one intricately woven fabric. We are not one intricately woven fabric. We are at the stage where we begin, Penelope-like, to unravel what seems too accomplished, too defining, not exactly what we planned.

Planted one red and one white hibiscus. I always think I’m done with planting, and I never am.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

July 10, 2014

Rains finally in temporary sufficiency.

During our massage, L says to me, “If we really love and trust the Lord, would we not assume that we are even now in the place he wants us to be in, doing what he wishes us to do?” I strive all day to push every thought, indeed every perception, aside and believe that. The great dark “but!” raises its head like leviathan out of the deep.

Lunch with Lilace and Jimmy. It gives me pleasure to watch the partners of a successful marriage, watch the space they give each other, the support, the harmony I suppose difficultly achieved. Dinner with DJ and Amy. Lunch today with D and A, the whirl of society! I am not a social creature. I plunge into these moments with the pasted-on smile and stifled anxiety of one who really means to do better.

Carried my Stryk bee painting home from Blue Spiral.

Smashed a light fixture that had likely been in the bathroom for ninety years. Smashed it cleaning up in preparation for the cleaning lady.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 9, 2014

Since Lincoln in New York I have cherished a red wooden bead bracelet that a Tibetan monk (I thought) gave me on 45th Street. He made it look like a gift, but I gave him money, and the he showed me a notebook in which was recorded other people who had given him money. I thought he did so to indicate that my gift compared favorably with theirs.  But in the NY Times I read that it was a scam, that it happens all the time and my monk was no more a holy man than I. Less, now that I think of it. I invested a certain amount of imagination into that exchange. It seemed sweet and portentous to me. Now I just feel foolish. Is there no end to this? I am probably the most scam-able person on earth.

What else do I learn about myself? That I have a thing for the orange-y roses.

I paint so early in the morning, and so much else intervenes, that when I tally up the deeds of the day I almost forget the session at the studio, then remember it with a smile, thinking “that, at least, is accomplished.”

A dab of rain, finally. The tiger lilies are in bloom.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 8, 2014

Sat in my backyard for the first time by night. It is filled with innumerable moving spirits.

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014

Curiously unsatisfying sleep.

This is the day I count as my third birthday.

Planted yesterday a yellow rose and a deep red hibiscus.

Read of the Istadevata, deities selected by a neophyte as his guardians. I wonder how many do you get? Do they have to agree? Ignorant of the details, I nevertheless chose Aengus the Young, Isis, Athena, Thor, Ptah. Rather, they chose me long ago, by bestowing on me the fragments of my nature.

Rose from my various stupors and went to the Montford Park amphitheater to see Tartuffe. I grumbled at the disturbance of my routine (about which I also grumble) but when I arrived the half moon was rising and Lully played from the loudspeakers, and I thought “this cannot be better.” Many people greeted me and relayed greetings from those who wished to be remembered to me. Through the night the moon wandered from stage right to stage left, and the Montford bat came out to flutter under brightening stars. The production was excellent, witty, elegant, stopping at the sunny edge of farce, without the dips in the quality of casting that nearly always bedevils a Montford production. I lost not one word, saw not one false gesture, was allowed the luxury of thinking about the meaning of the play rather than the production of it. What I wondered about as I sat there was why–or whether– a true message loses its trueness for being conveyed by a scoundrel. Many would say truth becomes falsehood on a false tongue. Do I say that? I’m not sure that I do. Does what I say in class become false if I have done evil that day, or even the whole of the rest of my life?  I guess the difference would be that I wasn’t after anybody’s money, wasn’t machinating behind the scenes against my own precepts. Perhaps a bad man’s good words become bad only when he’s preaching morality. One doesn’t imagine a scoundrel physicist being called a hypocrite. Tartuffe is damaged a little by over-obvious finger pointing. One doesn’t know exactly the butt of this or that witticism, but one realizes someone was, and that everyone in the first audience would have known. Bravo Montford! It will be a while before I need to see that play again.

Even the birds sound dissatisfied. The sky is an odd pewter, heavy and petulant.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6, 2014

Walked through the blazing afternoon light as slowly as I could. It was cool on the side of me that faced away from the sun, stinging, blazing on the lighted side, like a tiny Mercury. I was amazed by the stillness–an impression not modified by the fact that nothing was still. A blue jay flew past me, wingtip almost touching my hair, on his way to a drink in the birdbath. The just-opened tiger lilies vibrated orange against the pure blue of the sky– pure, pure blue, an otherworldly purity. Bees swept low the grass. I went still, stillness contemplating stillness. I don’t remember what finally made me move.

Lawrence rode by on his bike. He praised my house. I think people expect me to live in a basement with things tossed about.

In the evening came the fireworks we had expected the night before. It was as if my trees were afire. Half moon to the west. I liked them, the fireworks, but the cats didn’t like them so much. I remembered the East Drive-In in Akron on the 4th of July. There was always an on-the-ground feature of a burning American flag at the end, and all the cars would honk their horns.

This morning at dawn I stood in the street and listened to the mockingbirds volley and thunder in my neighbor’s half dead cherry tree. Were my soul pure, I would have thought the tree was a god and the birds were its voice.

My old elementary school crush facebooks me about my being so humorous, and how she always enjoyed my sense of humor.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5, 2014

The Fourth made me happy this year. The day was brilliant; I did nothing; I felt sometimes vaguely and sometimes quite pointedly patriotic. Kimberly Avenue flapped with flags. Ended the day standing with DJ and Cabernet in my great eye-on-the-sky waiting for the great volley of downtown fireworks which, curiously, never came. Smaller versions volleyed and thundered from all sides. A satellite scurried over, and vast blinking hulls of airships, and a vapor tail that nothing visible had made. The stars had a hard time fighting the streetlights. The hollowed-out moon stood low in the west, and brilliant. Caught my rue at the brink of dehydration. Will look when the light comes to see if I brought her back. Odd dream at waking: A woman and I were waiting to vote on which was the best bathroom in Europe. It had come down to one in a country so small that our nominee was the only bathroom in it. My body eventually realized that dream-mind was telling it how bad it had to go to the bathroom, so get up and do it. The day begins. Two crows wrangle in the airy distance.

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4, 2014

Cool morning, cool air flowing through the eastern windows. Yesterday was another day of excellent painting. I suppose that means the studio is set to burn. Limbs fell from the sweet gum at 62, and as I was sawing them in pieces to drag them away, I disturbed a yellow jackets’ nest. Several stings on my left hand, which still, maybe 18 hours later, smarts and tingles. My desire to wipe out the race of yellow jackets from the face of earth was probably not the outcome desired by that assembly of genes. When the attack began I felt affronted, thinking I had some special understanding with Nature, recalling that I had moments before gently replaced a praying mantis from inside to outside the house. The mantis was green as emerald. My birdbath, set where I can see it while lounging on the couch, provides sightings of multiple species: yesterday it was flicker, catbird, robin, mockingbird, purple finch, cardinal, sparrow. Looking at the price of airline tickets, prevented from buying only by exhaustion at the thought of actually getting on a plane. Wearing David Fraley’s T-shirt, thinking of him. Independence Day. I am the most independent person on earth: which has its good points, and its bad.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 3, 2014

Maud lies under the desk so I can touch her with my foot. She likes this. She likes feet to an eyebrow-raising degree. On the couch, she will lie with her arms around your feet, sound asleep, blissful. You might need a pet to understand the staggering complexity of things: two cats are no more alike than two people; perhaps two ash trees or two wasps are no more alike than that, either, diversity and immensity multiplying until the brain must set it all to one side. What prodigality! And yet I take God to task for not paying special attention to my little self and its aspirations. But, what else are we to do? What else are we here for but to try our specialties against the quadrillion others, that there might be the cosmic shimmer of plenty?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 2, 2014

Yesterday represented a low point of summer torpor that I do not wish to duplicate. If I did anything of note, I don’t remember it. Read in the Gospel of Mark about that mysterious naked boy who follows Christ out of Gesthemane, and then saw on TV a program about the “secret Gospel of Mark” wherein Christ spends all night with a naked boy who loves him after he has raised him from the dead– and who wouldn’t? What I know is that Christianity was captured by the small-minded in its first three centuries and has not recovered. And it would take another Christ to set us back upon the original road. I remembered too walking through Shining Rock years ago imagining that I was the one to write the Third Testament, the one that would set everything straight. How my heart overflowed! How my life fell into the pit almost on that day, as if to reward me for presumption.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 1, 2014

Close, silent morning, without even a bird calling. Odd. The dark is faintly red.

Wrens have colonized the bluebird box I nailed up. Good enough.

Excellent workout at the Y. Excellent painting.

Blake has resigned and, according to Merritt, “disappeared.” His office is empty. It’s hard to imagine such a hard-won and various career vanishing like that in a few secretive weeks. Maybe Blake irritated everyone but me and I am alone in my dismay. Meeting today to work me into some of his old committee assignments.

Met Adam at the Wicked Weed (which I didn’t know existed) to meet his beautiful girlfriend Stephanie and have beers while watching the Germany/Algeria game in the World Cup, in which Stephanie was invested because she is German. Germany won in overtime. Today Adam leaves for New York, where he already has an apartment and a part in a Fringe Twelfth Night. He is prodigally gifted, hard-working, adaptable, personable, and I foresee great things for him, fast.

Important acceptance from Atlanta Review, and one of unknown significance from Kalakak, which means I have placed as much poetry this month as I did last year.

New lilies bloom, pinkish in the white. The perfume is what resonates with me.