Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 30, 2014

Growing a beard for Macbeth. It never crossed my mind until I saw that I was the only male on stage without one. One fewer task in the morning.

 My student B produces a short play of stunning power and possibility. How to urge her without pushing? How to encourage without casting a shadow?

Dreams last night that I was working at or belonged to some painfully exclusive club, and labored to figure how to keep the hoi polloi out.

Rage takes up a lot of psychic room. Only battering-rams of emotion get through. Cindy Ho died on Friday.

Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29, 2014

Still nothing after the Thursday annihilation. My normal dread of choir retreat diminished to a blankness because of it. Sitting quiet under the trees was a solace. . . well, maybe not a solace, for there can be no solace, but a quietude. We heard the owls calling one to another in the starlit dark. Listened to R on the porch, him pouring his heart out. Took a long walk Saturday afternoon to the ends of a great meadow and then out onto the road. In the meadow I said to myself the names of the flowers. I watched a crow cross the amazing blue sky, over the greeny pale mountains, the only black thing, the only moving thing. I tried to get to the riverbank, but it cannot be done from that side of the river. A brown snake with shining eyes looped itself at the edge of the road. I poked it to convince it not to cross through the traffic, which at that time was a multitude of motorcycles. It went back into the sassafras. Lost my voice to the too-much singing, found it again –amazingly–for Cantaria rehearsal. Sat in stupor afterward. There must be a flurry of effort this morning to get back to the place I would have been: I am up to about half of it.

Returned to a great perfume of roses in the front yard, and only two, one orange and one gold, for the perfume to be coming from. Roses of the angelic choirs.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September 25, 2014

Went with DJ and R and M to Grey Eagle to hear a band called OK GO, which everyone knew but me. The food at the Grey Eagle is unexpectedly delicious, and I started the night right with gigantic bottles of cider. My tolerance for things that are very loud and very crowded is very low, but the room was full of happy people, dancers and smilers, and the band’s music was much to my taste– except for the volume. Makes you listen with your chest. Everyone was cute.

After my taking some pains to arrange the house and my schedule for her, the house cleaner phoned in her excuses and asked if she could come some other time. The school phoned about her son, and she had to go and pick him up. . . the 4th time this has happened.  I understand the difficulty of some people’s lives, but I need to be reminded why I should, necessarily, put up with the upheaval that causes in mine.  I do not recall ever demanding someone change their expectations or their plans for me, certainly never their offering to do so spontaneously. If you make an appointment to do something at 11 o’clock, do that thing at 11 o’clock. If you can’t do it. . . if there is a chance that you can’t do it. . .  don’t make the commitment. I don’t see why it is so difficult. I have tried to be a saint of patience, but the effort has never borne fruit, and is not doing so now.

Surprising, crushing pain in my leg.

Chatted with Frank in dark Izzy’s cafĂ© downtown. Chatted with Bill in his gallery, which was closed, but I came barging in anyway. It was worth it, because I got a kiss from him.

Auditioned for NC Stage’s Amadeus. It was fun. I heard the auditions before me, and everyone else was shouting.  Perhaps I should have found reason to shout.

The mowers mowed down my fig tree. I had nursed it back from its die-back after a deadly freeze, and the loss of it affected me like the sudden death of a sick child who seemed to be recovering. I felt very bad. I called Nick the Lawn Guy, and he felt very bad, but still the leaves of my little fig wither on their broken stems.

A box of antique roses came, too soon. I wasn’t expecting them, and there is no time now to do what I wanted to do, dig a new patch of garden in slowness and ceremony and place them in. My weekend is annihilated by choir retreat. Had to dig fast, before they withered, before I go away. I’m caught in a vice. I rush from deed to deed expected by others, a whirlwind of effort for which there has been no reward in the past and none to be anticipated in time to come. If only I could be left alone. If only I could cherish an expectation higher than being left alone.

A mantis, brown with autumn, sat on my shirt as I mourned over this and that. She was a comforting angel. It shows what kind of life I lead that my comforting angel should be that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24, 2014

Went to my workout under the peacock dawn. Then to see Dr. Hicks. I avoid doctors because they find things you didn’t know about and which never bothered you until they were named. I have an arrhythmia. Got an EKG. She sighed relief and said it was nothing much. Blood pressure still high, the bp medicine making me sick, we try something new. Prescriptions refilled. Check-up over for another year. Blood tests yet to be analyzed.  Probably something hideous there, I told the phlebotomist she was “smooth” and she smiled and thanked me.

Both time and money desperate at present. There are literally not enough hours to do what I must do in the next week. Cashless, empty bank accounts, seeing if I can eke through without selling assets. I do not deal well with full schedules, where you have to run frantically from one thing to another.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 23, 2014

Took flat tire to the tire store, where I gave up and bought a new whole set, and watched the ministering of the sweet red neck boys who take care of such things. A whole porn shoot could be based at the Newbridge Tire Center, or a sexy TV comedy. Rehearsal that night in Waynesville. Early, I stopped for a grape Nehi, which I drank on the service station patio with the bluest of all blue skies around me. The same sky, fleeced with a few all-but stationery clouds, presides at this early hour of Tuesday afternoon. We did initial blocking. I have a little crush on Banquo. LM’s every choice is wrong. It should be noted than in the last few days every little thing that could go amiss, has. It would be comic if it were up on a screen or on the pages of a book.

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014

Set about my business yesterday morning to discover I had a flat–a very flat– tire. Began to change it myself, and was doing well, except that I was finally defeated by unbudgeable lug nuts. Called AAA– twice– and the young man finally lumbered out and took up a lug wrench like the Cross of Saint Andrew and the deed was done. I was going to use the flat tire as an excuse to miss church and the two meetings I had immediately and simultaneously after, but decided, as I always do, against that sort of thing. The meeting I took–because it involved someone having cooked brunch for me— involved my producing a play that I produced (that is to say, paid for) the two years before. I would have done it this year without comment–as before, purely out of friendship–if finances were not very close, with the two houses and all, and a $6000 tax bill, and a sluggish market. Thus far I have sunk $10,000 into a project in which I really do not believe, and from which I have seen a return of not one penny. I am clearly a terrible businessman, and even the blow struck for art is softened by the fact that the play is an interesting novelty but not anything special and not destined to be the perennial cash cow my friends think it will be. I sit at the table and hear how it will win Obies for the actor and for me when it opens at Lincoln Center, and I think, “do we mean the same piece?” But, if the market turns or there is a windfall, I will do it again, doing unto others as Bruce and Jack did unto me.

Struggled through the rest of the day, Cantaria rehearsal fraught at the edges wither internecine conflict which, when explained, do not sound anywhere near that dire.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

September 21, 2014

Autumn imperceptible, all the blooms still blooming.

I finished my workout at the Y and it was still dark. A tiny slim moon sailed above downtown. I sat down at the picnic table under the basswood at the edge of the YMCA parking lot, and I wrote a poem. I wonder if that had ever been done, there and then, before. It felt wonderful, actually, as though I were the Recording Angel.

A bit of vertigo. I’ll blame last night’s wine for a while longer.

Strange, misty morning. The mist makes the houses look like cut-outs pressed flat against a dark wall.

Painted yesterday. Gardened. Transcribed poems from notebooks pried from the corners of the car.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

September 20, 2014

Late morning. Ill last night, some turbulence in my stomach. I had to rise and walk the streets at midnight, and when I got back home I vomited liberally into the weed patch between my house and the neighbors’. While we’re noting firsts, I think this is the first time I vomited into my new yard, at least a weekly event across the street.

Planted coral bells with black leaves, and spurge with green flowers, and as many hellebores as the nursery had left, opening up the hemlock-shaded patch by the mailbox. I want to get my hands on the person who thought that gravel was a good idea. It underlies huge stretches of the back and east yards, as though the house once had been surrounded by it. It’s covered by a thin layer of dirt, so you don’t know until you sink a spade.

Coffee with Tom, who has a photo of himself receiving an award from Mickey Mantle.

Studying Blake does not enhance tranquility.

Friday, September 19, 2014

September 19, 2014

Woke ebullient with a conviction of well-being, physical and mental. Joy at the beginning of this day with class makes me wonder if that’s the reason for the joy. Labor is labor, however rewarding. Studied my lines on the elliptical at the Y. Sat at a picnic table under a basswood at the Y, writing about the sliver of harvest moon under the sliver of harvest moon. Felt virtuous using that peculiar public space for poetry. Vivaldi on the CD as I write now. The golden swamp hibiscus is finally in bloom, and it was worth waiting for, vast stars of refined pale gold, like sunlight falling on autumn leaves.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

September 18, 2014

Tiny haunting of screech owls from the hollies.

Received a water bill from the City, by which I knew that Will had never changed the account over into his name. Called the city and cancelled the account after Monday; called Will and told him he had until Monday to pick it up in his name. I did not remind him that I had reminded him a dozen times. I did not remind him that being freed of issues like this was the ONLY advantage I had from a deal that grossly and ludicrously advantages him. I do not get credit for my sometimes sloth-like patience.

Corelli on Pandora.

Traffic accident on Charlotte Street. One of the principals is a former student. She is collided into by the other, who has crashed the stop light.  She asks me to wait with her until the police come, fearing that her personality isn’t strong enough to convince them it wasn’t her fault unless she has a witness.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September 17, 2014

Absorbed as much in my Blake class as my students. When we came to the phrase “All material Effects have spiritual Causes,” it was as an earthquake. Suppose I believe that; how do I affect it? How do I purge a spirit that must, if the saying is true, be dark and ailing?  If I take Blake’s answer–spiritual war–I am already doing it, without being able to see an end or any clear victory, or any release of final defeat. I did dream oddly and beautifully last night. I was at a sort of summer camp which featured a fair, and in the fair was a sort of labyrinth set in the wall, like those provided for hamsters, but big, through which leopards and bears were running with great joy. I had skipped supper, but after supper a great company of my friends from through the years appeared, looking like they did in their youth. All those I must have missed inside without thinking about too much. They chided me for being by myself, and crowded around in a show of love that I must admit never to sensing in the waking world. I took that as a sort of benediction, but on what leading to what the hours must reveal.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16, 2014

Withering Monday. At the end of it I drive in pouring rain, thanking God that it’s still daylight. It is one of those read-throughs where everybody talks about motivations and details of performance. Young Macbeth thinks Shakespeare wrote in Middle English, and that Scottish kings were elected, so Duncan’s naming of a Prince of Cumberland was an illegal act which he was somewhat right in avenging. Lady Macbeth believes that her motivation can be explained by that metaphorical baby to whom she gave suck, and that she is still lactating and, having no baby to use that energy up, goes off wildly in the direction of treason. She had tears in her eyes when she was describing that the main thing Lady M wants is children, and that begets the whole folderol. One would have thought there was a more direct way to get children, but one realizes one is not, here, the professor, and keeps one’s mouth shut. Duncan’s role is really quite brief. This is a both a disappointment and a relief. Macbeth is going to be good despite his beliefs– a brusque and active Macbeth, impatient of reflection--a perfectly legitimate way to go. Lady Macbeth cannot succeed. I predict a B- performance. She is, unlike her spouse, hampered by her ideas. There is a terrible fatality to the theater, whereby you know in the first five minutes of rehearsal how far some individuals are able to go. Sometimes one has underestimated, but, cruelly, not often. They were rehearsing Urinetown in the big room, and though I hate that show, the singing sounded sensational. Drive in pouring rain home, and in utter darkness, resistant even to your headlights. Watch the story of the Roosevelts on Public TV.

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014

First Macbeth read-through at HART. Felt immediate affection for my fellow cast members. I was introduced as the “MVP of Hamlet.”  Glad Adam wasn’t there to hear that. Steve felt it necessary to enforce that rubbish about “Mackers” and “The Scottish Play,” fearing the upset of those people who actually believe in it. I would not have given in so easily. As I die in Act I, the rehearsal schedule will make hell, for a while, only of Monday. Exhausting Cantaria rehearsal, then salad and tea at Marco’s. Going over and over unchallenging music is a kind of musical hell. I stand midway in a day that began at 6 at the Y, and will end God knows when in Waynesville, before a dark drive home.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 14, 2014

Will was moving furniture in over the weekend. It was good to see lights on in 62. I think it will be happier with them than it was with me.

Surprising din of a squirrel running on the roof over my study.

After church, the drive to Waynesville for the first Macbeth read-through

Almost too cool in the house. Tonight I might shut a window or two.

Craving more land to plant magnolias, roses, mulberries.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

September 13, 2014

Great rain came in the night, and I blessed it.

Painting in the morning, inspired and affected by a TV documentary on JM Whistler. Painted in acrylic, but I’m thinking I may go over it in oil. Still using the canvasboard inherited from Richmond, that love come to something.  Ignored the stinkbugs.

Got In the Country of the Young ready for publication.

Stunned in thought by the duties of the oncoming week. Ordered narcissi.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Evening. . .

Night. Storm seems to be coming from all directions at once, if never quite arriving.  I pray for it on the curling leaves of the acanthus, which I forgot to water. The stinkbugs begin their migration again. There are a few in the house, many more on the screens trying to get in.  But at the studio they are a plague, a frenzy, a horror. You set a painting aside to work on another, and a bug is on it before you get the brush lifted. The grooves of the wall are full of them, or fragments of the last generation. You strive not to let it turn your stomach.

September 12, 2014

Blake students at my house yesterday. Rather against expectation, it was a good time. John the Edna’s barista joined us. I invited him without any notion that he’d actually come. He not only came but was equipped to enter the discussion. One student said, “I expected your house to be 1/3 Hobbit hole, 1/3 Yeats and 1/3 Blake.” I didn’t ask if her expectations were fulfilled. I expect them to be ravenous, so always prepare too much food. Many unnoticed text messages on my phone. I never think to look, unless I hear the little warning chime go off. Today is free and precious.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11, 2014

Decided to give camellias one last chance. Bought three of different kinds. Planted one near the yellow magnolias, and on a branch of one magnolia I saw a fat fledgling, gripping tight, its eyes wide with uncertainty. I couldn’t tell exactly what kind of bird it was. Its wings were boldly striped in black. A goldfinch? It looked too big. Anyway, I crept away, trying not to frighten it, and left off watering there until the evening, when the tiny bird had gone on its way. Who the hell produces fledglings in September?  Iris came too in the mail, and they went into the ground, blue and black and orange.

Playwrights met here last night. They don’t seem a big class in the classroom, but they certainly do in the living room. Steve spoke to them, largely about his personal view of the history of the theater these last thirty years. Put some details together for me, but I have no idea how they will use the information until we meet again on Monday, which now seems impossibly far off. Slept-sang through choir, tottered home to bed without even a drink at Avenue M.

When SS speaks on the subject, I understand what I did wrong in my playwright career. I did concentrate on writing the best I could. That was well. That was the main thing. That’s where I should have been. BUT, there was enough of me to do other things as well, some things which I decided against, others which simply did not occur to me. I might, perhaps should, have gone to New York and attached myself to a young theater and grown up with them, sweeping their floors and acting in their plays while they produced mine. I’m a good collaborator, and rather less selfish than the run of theater people. That would have worked. But I’m also freakishly private, and require rafts of quiet time in which to gestate. That might not have worked so well, but perhaps I require the quiet because I had it. Maybe if things had always been hectic, I would have been fine with that. In all my artistic endeavors, I thought it would work to live the life I wanted and just enter my products in when they were finished, the eternal outsider, so overawing people with quality they didn’t care about not knowing who I was. In no pursuit, poetry or fiction of theater, has that worked very well. Being part of the group is vital in ways that I never suspected, or in ways which I thought I could overcome. The success I have had is amazing, considering all this. Every one of my successes “came in through the transom,“ and that is a matter of pride, but I should have aimed for less purity and more exposure. It’s amazing how little quality counts, how much association does. But, quality does count. At this point that’s what I have to cling to. Bruce and John chose me when most of what they do is glitzy revivals. I still cherish that, though I don’t know yet exactly how it happened, or if it is over. Bailiwick chose me, and though that was disastrous, the original choice was pure. Everything is too slow. Unless I live to be 100, none of it can come together.

Noises of waking around me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 10, 2014

Big moon in the west when I arose. The before-waking dreams were strange in that didn’t seem my dreams at all. It was as if I’d turned into somebody else with different concerns and different perspectives as I slept. It was interesting. I was ready to explore this new person.

Took a copy of Macbeth to the cross-trainer at the Y to begin learning lines.

Good classes yesterday. We cover a lot of ground– how do I know that everyone is coming along? If there are no questions I assume all is well, but it never quite is.

Yearning and longing. Blake says that is well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September 9, 2014

DJ phoned yesterday morning and reveled that the hysterical barking of Leon’s dogs indicated a bear sow and her two cubs were holed up in Carolyn’s yard. I ran with my camera, and for the first time saw the bear family that everybody else in North Asheville has seen a dozen times. They were bigger and blacker than one imagined, not merely black, but holes punched in the light. They didn’t seem too disturbed by the fuss they were making, though my neighbors were agitated by the (admittedly incessant) yapping of the dogs. My neighbor with the band and the drum kit knocked on the door of my neighbor with the yapping dogs to complain. I couldn’t hear how that came out, but it was an epic instance of pot and kettle.

Good plays out of my playwrights yesterday. In Humanities I outlined the sweep of the history of Minoa and Greece, because there would be no other opportunity. We will be spending days (according to the syllabus) talking about prayer beads and hoplite battles, whatever the instructor’s hobby might be, but not one gesture toward the acquisition of a learned– or even not-quite-ignorant--foundation. One says these things and is attacked not because one is wrong, but because one hasn’t shown what the chairman considers proper interest in times before. I’m not used to such a display of faith-based decision making in an academic environment. On the other hand, it’s fun having no particular message to convey. Fun was the point from the beginning. People said that right out, unabashed.

The roses are big as cabbages, orangey-pink and decadent.

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014

Sunday largely without consequence. Wrote well about my father’s garden. Deep rains, so much that the uprooted marigolds, once dry, bloom again.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September 7, 2014

Walking in the dark of the morning. It’s not exactly raining, but so moist that droplets form on the skin as you go. Last night came curtains of rain against the streetlamps.

Writing with coffee in the morning, then an excellent day at the studio, morning and afternoon, revising and making new. I was happy, though holding the brush all that time wreaked havoc on my shoulder. Certain oddnesses at the studio were explained by the news that M and J are separated, and J is in DC. I was apparently the only person in the world who didn't know this. I had brought my tools to renew the garden, but when it was done, the idea that J was not going to see it made it seem pointless. My horrible neighbor came in for a while, explaining to a client the details of her discovery of the making of ceramic flowers. She’d kept her yapping dogs trapped in her studio, apparently overnight. Me, I was as alone as if I’d been upon the moon.

Looked at the titles of old paintings, now lost in their scores. I certainly painted a lot on themes of Blake

Saturday, September 6, 2014

September 6, 2014

About me lies the strange phenomenon by which the urban night is brightened by lights in mist to the point where I can navigate through the house without switching on a light. Last night the moon was high and lonely.

Excellent morning at the studio. Began nothing new, but tweaked some old things in ways that please me. The garden I planted there triumphs over weeds and dust.

Found a check in my door for rent at 62. W wrote “rent” on the memo line, so now I know that’s what the arrangement is. He’d agreed to pay insurance, which he did not do, but I suppose that if I’m the landlord rather than the bank, insurance and whatnot are back in my court. I imagine he’s angry with me for demanding what was, by then, 35 days late. He’s one of those who will delay and delay, keeping silent about what might have been solved by a word, and when you finally explode, say “I had it all together. I was on my way to your house. If you had just been patient for five minutes.” But an outward sign that things were progressing in any direction at all was welcome, and a few knots in my chest released.

The office across the hall from Z is for rent, and he said I should take it and do my work there, and we could be best friends and gossip across the hall and borrow sugar from each other. Then with me lying naked under his hands, he gave me a run-down of his sex life. We are almost at the point in intimacy when I can confide in him how difficult (I dare not say “hard”) it is for my body not to respond in an embarrassing way when he’s down there caressing. We’re almost at the point where we could find that funny.

Corelli on Pandora.

Friday, September 5, 2014

September 5, 2014

Faintest pearl on the blue of the night. At one point it was raining in the front yard and not in the back.

Little get-together last night, for which I over-bought and over-prepared grossly. No one seemed to be hungry or to want to stay very long. But Alma left me three pieces of cake for my birthday. . . .

Tight chest in the evening. I thought I might be having a heart attack, but when I felt the muscles of my chest, they were tight and sore, perhaps from the gym, but more likely, I think, from stress and rage concerning the disposition of 62. I finally phoned W, who seemed to have a plan of payment (a unilateral one, departing from anything we had discussed before), though I wondered if it were made up on the spot in response to my call, or had been on his mind and never communicated. I think the former and hope the latter. Even if the latter, his refusal to communicate is not, as he thinks, a sign of strength. Why alienate and enrage the people who wish you well? I went to 62 to feed DJ’s fish and look for his lost cat, and a golden rose and a red, red rose were blooming in the yard, and I was struck with such emotions of loss.

Grandiflora magnolia bears a single bloom.

Almost sick with relief at having a day truly off.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

September 4, 2014

Woke feeling blest and happy this morning, Lord. Am I?

Drinks with Russell and Jack last night after rehearsal. Sweet.

Indignation is a laxative.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September 3, 2014

Great rain came in the night, me in too much of a stupor to remember that the kitchen doors were open. Wet floor in the morning; the north wind carries every drop in. Good classes yesterday. First stab at Blake’s prophetic books. I wonder, though, if after a certain period of time a teacher starts out with material too advanced, forgetting the new faces have not come along with them from the start. Beginning of the fifth day of the fast. The day-to-day-ness of things:  I wonder if I started the fast to give myself something to think about other than what I customarily think about. It certainly has the effect.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September 2, 2014

Quite early. Received enough birthday greetings yesterday to content even my gluttony. Ill in the afternoon, so I thought, but perhaps it was just a long gliding sleep with the light all around me. Wind blew down a bit of fence, crushed some branches of the white rose. Wrote. My sister and I discussed the weirdness of our upbringing on the phone.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1, 2014

Happy Birthday to me. I was going to say I didn’t sleep well, but I think I slept perfectly well and my body tried to get me up when it was rested. People note that fasting gives you energy, and, counter-intuitively, this is true. Sunday was day 3. Wonderful sermon in the morning, which, like a poem, was lovely without being perfectly comprehensible. We ended up blessing Glenda’s son, which was well even if I was not certain of the reason. Rehearsal in the evening was a horror, probably more because of my mood, or because of my expectation that it would be somehow joyful or surprising. I’m not interested in singing popular music; whether that’s the fact at the root of my dissatisfaction I don’t know. What we are singing is all crowd-pleasers, and nothing can be said against that. Given my feelings, the appropriate gesture is an exit. The expectation of birthday drinks afterwards did not materialize.

Greedily adding up the birthday greetings on Facebook. It’s pathetic.

So, it’s September and W’s solemn oath that our agreement would result in rent–or a mortgage payment, or whatever it is–in August is belied. Whether he is an oily player out to see how much advantage he can take, or an honest dad trying to make his way in a difficult world, the outcome is the same for me. I really have no way of knowing. My reflex to believe what people say, to take them at face value, is not useful here. Or ever, much, now that I think of it.

Circe crying piteously downstairs. I go to see what the problem is. She looks like she’s seen a ghost. I do not see it.