Friday, October 31, 2014

October 31, 2014

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

Reading a biography of Duncan Grant.

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

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

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October 30, 2014

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

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 29, 2014

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 28, 2014

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

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

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014

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

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

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

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 26, 2014

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

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

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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 24, 2014

October 24, 2014

Not so early in the morning. The cats had to wake me. Had to stay for the full count of Macbeth last night, which got me home a little before 11. Thanks to some Rioja I don’t know exactly when I got to bed. It was our final dress and first small audience. I don’t know how it went. Watching it on the screens backstage it seems slow, the actors oddly disengaged from each other. Adam is fabulous, but his energy makes it seem like he’s in a different production. That doesn’t mean it feels the same way in the house. The set is beautiful and works well. Whatever else is happening, this cast is friendly and happy and I’m deriving pleasure from being among them. I knew some people at the preview last night, though the people I invited ether didn’t come or didn’t stay. The drive home in the dark would be unendurable if you thought about it.

Feeling unusual personal interest and acceptance and friendliness from my students. The Humanities Boys mark the progress of my beard. This too makes me happy. One keeps one’s mind off the fleetingness of it all.

Almost paralyzed with relief that there is only one thing–the play– to do today.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A guy asked to interview me for his blog. I said yes. Why not use it for my bog?


Hello,Many thanks for accepting to be interviewed. Please see the interview questions below. I would be happy if you could answer all the questions. However, you're at liberty to ignore questions you do not want to answer. Please let me know if you want further explanation on any of the questions. All best, Geosi.


GG: Could you share with us your beginnings as a writer?

I don’t remember a time before the conviction that I was going to be an artist. In junior high those aspiration began to settle around writing, and when I was fifteen I began writing poetry, daily and obsessively. That never quite stopped (except the daily part) 

GG: You are an accomplished poet, playwright, professor of Literature and Language and visual artist. I am wondering how you manage all these works?

People do ask me how I manage all that, and I have nothing to say except that it doesn’t seem like such an achievement when you’re actually doing it. In my own mind I’m goofing off much too often. I suppose my social life has taken a hit down through the years. Plus, I get up at 4:30 in the morning.  I have no apps on my cell phone. 

GG: How different is the art of playwriting from poetry?

The best training for a playwright is to be an actor. The second best training is to be a poet, for poetry instills a sense of directness and conciseness, a sense of proper image that are all priceless in the writing of the play. The pitfall, though, is to write “poetic” plays, which are a temptation and nearly always dreadful. The poetry of playwriting is radically different from (though related to) the poetry of poetry. Playwriting is collaborative and poetry isn’t. You have to worry about what an actor can conceivably say, about what objects and effects can conceivably appear on stage. Ultimately, you have almost no control over the interpretation of your piece in the theater, and when you try to exert control, you look like a jackass. Only in bad plays are all the voices associated with the author; in poetry, that is pretty much the default. The actual FEEL of composing a play is very much like the feel of composing a poem. I can’t say much more about that other than to exhort your readers to put it to the test. 

GGi: Tell us about your work as a visual artist?

My work as a visual artist has to main modes: heavily textured and inventive abstracts, with mixed mediums and unusual supports. This is play for me. The second mode is what I suppose you’d call neo-Symbolic– recognizable objects organized in ways and combinations which are immediately meaningful and symbolic in my world. All are welcome in, though sometimes it takes some explaining. 

GG : Do you read lots of poetry?

No. Not really. Most very recent poetry is a waste of time. When I pick up good poetry it almost always sparks me to put down THAT book and go back to working on my own.

GG: Your plays have won some important awards including the North Carolina New Play Project as well as the Siena Playwriting competition. How long does it take you to write a play?

I have written some plays in six days. Other plays have taken a year or so, not of constant work, but of picking a failed or incomplete piece where I threw it down at some earlier session. The thing I keep from my students is that work is the best (for me) which came out swiftest and easiest. This is not supposed to be the case, but it is. If it’s hard, you’re doing it wrong. No that is should be easy, exactly, but I have not found that frustration is a useful part of the creative process, though it is part of barking up the wrong tree. When the play gets to a director or a producer, there is new work to do, but you can hardly anticipate that on your own. Again, the word is “collaborative.” 

GG: Do you think poems are easy to write than plays?

Poems are easier to write than anything. Not easy effortless, but easy joyful.

GG: What makes your poems and plays unique?

dear God, I don’t know. The fact that I rather than someone else have written them? I know I have a particular music, but so do others.  I am a Platonist and believe that some things are true and important while other things are not, and I would be surprised if this did not set me apart in some ways from my peers and inheritors. 

GG: What inspired your book, “A Dream of Adonis”?

A Dream of Adonis was the effort to take account of and hallow a series of love affairs in the 70's and 80's. I will never see those men again. Many of them are dead. But I wrote so they should not go wordless and unremembered into the void. 

GG: Do you write for a living?

I guess not. I got my job because I was a writer, but only a few months in my entire lifetime has income from writing been enough to sustain even my modest needs. 

GG: How long did it take you to write “The Sun in Splendor”?

A couple of years. I couldn’t get the beginning right. It started out while I was watching that movie “Moulon Rouge” where Nicole Kidman lives in a house on the roof. That became a mysterious figure on the roof, and that was the start of the book.

GG: Have you ever been rejected for a piece of work?

Oh boy, have I ever. I think in my own mind that I have 50 rejections for every acceptance. That might be an exaggeration; it might not.  I have four finished unpublished novels. That should tell you.

GG: Who reads your books?

I never know unless they get in touch with me somehow. If I look at my royalty checks I’d say “practically no one.” 

GG: Who are your literary influences?

Yeats, Pound, Keats, Edna St. Vincent Millay, James Stephens

GG: Do you think of style when you write?

My ear does. It’s all music to me. If the line doesn’t sound right, I change it.  That might not be “style” at all, but beyond that I never worry if I’m writing in “my” style or any style at all. 

GG: What are your main interests as a writer?

Wow. To tell the truth. To change people’s lives. To discover my own life.  To find my work, once, in an airport book shop. 

G G: From where did you scoop the term “Ailanthus”?

I made my living for a while as an interpretive naturalist, and have two books of nature essays. Ailanthus is the tree of heaven, a junk tree living in waste place in most northern cities. 

GG: Do you foresee the death of poetry anytime soon? In other sense, do you think the readership for poetry is dwindling?

Everyone I know is interested enough in poetry at least to lament (or gloat over) its “death.” People write essays about the irrelevance of poetry to make a name for themselves, or to justify why their poetry has failed.  No, it will not die soon or ever. Questions about the number of people reading poetry are silly. Far fewer people prepare inoculations than read poetry, and yet we would never say those people’s work is irrelevant. They both save lives. The humanity instilled in you by knowing poetry may save another without their ever crediting the true source.

GG: Are you currently working on any play(s)?

I’m working on the play Washington Place (about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911) to get it ready for a local production

GG: Having written half a dozen books of poetry, do you think you’ve not yet written what you may consider as the best poetry book?

The one I just finished and am now shopping around is called In the CafĂ© of Comedy and Tragedy.  It is the best work I’ve yet done.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21, 2014

Starting the day exhausted. Great. First dress for Macbeth. The costumes they sent are 400 years off (very Renaissance-y) so we are trying to medieval them back a little. I like my costume, which needs to be taken in and belted, but that will not happen, so I’ll be a floppy baggy king for my ten minutes on stage. Lady M has a meltdown during our scene. I want to say, “just shut up and let me cover.”  Not ready even for one class today. White camellias in the back yard almost make it better.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

Woke with one of those convictions of physical well-being. Hope it carries me through at least part of the day.

Worked Sunday in the studio, happily and productively. Framed a piece to celebrate Steve’s marriage to Daniel. They are silly happy to be married. We should be more amazed than we are that this should have happened in our time. If you’d have told me when I was a kid that I might marry a man someday I’d have doubled over laughing.

Went to Cantaria rehearsal ready to make a scene about everybody’s making a scene, but no provocation was offered, alas.

A stream of Facebook communications from Bruce and Jack about their incredible triumphs, The Scottsboro Boys in London, On the Town in New York. It’s hard to credit having known them in the context which was, and the resources they put into my comparatively modest plays. Bruce looks so happy in the photos; he has one of those faces which registers emotions pretty clearly, and his emotion during Lincoln was worry, that everything was costing too much. I can’t imagine there was much outlay compared with On the Town, but who knows? Maybe that was simply his producer face. I wish that these triumphs were coming with new works, but one is told time and again that’s not how it happens on contemporary Broadway. May they get stinking rich and decide to experiment again.

Roses in frantic bloom.

Facing what will be a hellish week without an ounce of dread. For the moment.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 19, 2014

Cold. I wear a watch cap on my head. I hate winter. I stand with my hands arched over the little oil heater in my study. I hate when people chirp, “Oh, don’t you love this brisk fall weather!” No, I do not.  It is late in the morning and still dark. I don’t like this.

Worked rather brilliantly at the studio yesterday morning, left as other began to appear. That is not my intention. I would rather work with everyone chatting in a full house. That seemed to happen when Jason was there.

Revised Tavistock Square, adding Maud Gonne where she should have been since the beginning.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October 18, 2014

Brilliant morning, fat grin of the moon, a few collections of stars bright and sharp as diamonds.  Troubadours on the CD.

While I was mulching yesterday, my mind fell on many things, one of them being recent politics at the university. When the former Provost announced her resignation, I was surprised mostly because it seemed to be voluntary. She had, so far as I knew, not been asked to leave or persuaded that it was the right thing for her. This surprised me because she had been a disaster, widely loathed, and what people who liked her usually did in her defense was to point out certain things she had NOT gotten wrong, as though burning down the house and poisoning the well were OK so long as you kept a neat garden. Yet she moved on to a position at least as prestigious as the one she left. This pattern is a repeat of what happened to certain of her predecessors, some of whom, unlike her, left under an acknowledged cloud. I thought then that college administrators –maybe executives in general-- are like nomads, fouling one space and then moving on to another, under a charm whereby their previous misdeeds go unreported, or are forgiven by some magic extended only to administrators. The positions they fill are designed to give them income, not actually to give the institutions service.  Our former Chancellor, I heard, left with a retirement gift of over $200,000. When challenged, she said it was part of the plan, not to blame her, but to blame the system. And so I do.

Dinner with DJ at Avenue M. It was crowded, and we were mashed in with two men clearly straight but also clearly infatuated with one another. Fascinating to watch is the affection of straight men toward each other, singular and beautiful,  in some part because of its awkwardness. One of them was a stonemason specializing in waterfalls. He said that talking with his son (I gathered) was like talking to a demon out of hell. The other spilled a beer, and for some reason the waitress declined to clean it up, so we did.

Maud crawls onto my lap, demanding attention. She is so modest in her demands that when they come, they are met.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 17, 2014

Brilliant afternoon. I bought all the mulch I thought I was ever going to need, fertilized the soil and then overlay the mulch in anticipation of everybody’s long winter’s nap. Ironically, the day is fine and warm and not wintry at all. I fell asleep in my walled garden in the big white chair, and when I woke, peridot-green cuckoo wasps were hovering like jewels in the air, and sunning on the white slats. It was blessed. Almost too exhausted by the week to remember exactly what I did. Must look forward, then, and not back. Rehearsal in Marshall more enervating than the first time. I guess the charm of novelty had worn off. Forgot how otherworldly the drive along the river is. Lady M tries to register the complex of emotions she feels she must be feeling in our scene, which results in a kind of facial rictus where laborious indications of these emotions are displayed one after the other. I can’t look at her. I must re-block myself so as to look plausibly at something else. The white camellia is blooming, modestly and low to the ground. All the new roses are blooming.

Found in a drawer an envelope containing photographs of Titus and Conrad when they were kittens, before they came to me. The photos were taken by Cindy Ho. All of them are gone now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15, 2014

Impressive deluge yesterday. The rain against the streetlight looked like, first, a silver curtain, and then a black curtain shot with lights. Despite the storm, whimpering with gratitude for a night at home. Cooked a meal for myself for the very first time at 51. The act of cooking and eating uses up an evening in a remarkable way.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 14, 2014

Deep rain extending the night.

Sick yesterday, and had to leave school early. Felt better after a long nap, and some of Will’s pills.

The first notes of Brahms’ Symphony #4 began as I eased out of the theater parking lot in Waynesville, and the last notes died away as I entered my own driveway. I thought this shapely and portentous.

On that note, DS is swift and decisive, though there is no contemplation in his speeches, and only rarely discovery. Macbeth as beautiful wild beast. Lady M continues to be– inexplicable. Adam is perfect, a mote of atomic energy-- though his size makes his opposition to the looming Macbeth the more remarkable. No idea how I am, though I tripped over the lines last night I thought I knew so well. The set is wonderful, a space age Stonehenge.

Brahms still in my head. It will make me glide through the day, hesitant and elegaic.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 12, 2014

Slow, gentle rain in the dark. I think of my laburnum deciding whether to put down winter root, and I bless it.

One of the first things I do upon waking is to straighten the rugs that the cats have set awry with their gambols in the night. That activity was poignant this morning, for Derin Togar once offered me pads for them all, which would have stopped the cats in their tracks, and it was Derin’s wedding I sang for last evening, a stately, clockwork event, distinguished by good looking Turks in tuxedos and black gowns.

The community is joyful with the news that gay couples can now wed legally in North Carolina. The issuer-of-deeds has been alacritous in his duties, and many have come away satisfied. I think this should have been worth doing if only for the joy it brings to people, a joy unnecessarily withheld time out of mind. I’ve never understood why somebody cared if somebody else got married or not, yet on the streets at certain times with their placards are grim-faced people who care about it very much. If you ask them, they will say it’s against the bible. That answer is wrong and perverse, but the battle cannot be fought, for they have written themselves their own bible which has authority over the real one. I have to admit that in my young days as a gay man, marriage per se did not enter my mind. It seemed to me one of those thing that loving a man separated you from, gladly and memorably. But many people are more domestic than I, and when money and legal rights come into the question, it is resolved on the spot. Joy all around, except for those who un-Christian convictions have separated themselves from joy.

Domestic hum of the washing machine. Cat on the foot. Rain on the roof. Maybe I should try to find someone to marry me.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

October 11, 2014

Twice in the studio yesterday, and once today. I did good work. The mindlessness of painting was necessary. Laurie Anderson and REM on the dusty CD.  The garden is purple with re-blooming iris.

Walked by fading moonlight before dawn.

Changed the furnace air filter for the first time in my life. I didn’t neglect the task; it simply never crossed my mind.

Accidental rendition by the Beatles of “Let It Be” on the internet. I stopped and listened. In the midst of half an hour of unreachable, almost indefinable, grief, of helpless sobbing, I became an Existentialist. I’ve told my students for thirty years that it was a comfort. Never knew before that it is.

Friday, October 10, 2014

October 10, 2014

The moon woke me two nights ago peeping through the west windows. It woke me this morning, though it was itself invisible, by igniting the mists of the world so everything was clearly, ghostly visible hours before dawn.

Macbeth at HART. Enjoying my fellow actors. Got through the act flawlessly off book, so the rest is a glide.

Rehearsal of Medea with my game and merry students. They shout suggestions about production from all corners, hard to filter, but indicative of unusual, and dear, engagement.  I have one student who is clearly insane in a gentle and confused sort of way. Surely I can’t be the only one who noticed. . .  so I’ll just let it float. He seems happy enough when you talk him through the anxieties.

Drive to Marshall for rehearsal of Christmas music (not as ghastly as I feared) at the Presbyterian church. Felt privileged in my usual artistic life as I watched K, the able, musical, skillful, and superhumanly patient director, drag his little company through those simple songs. He wanted me to “bolster” the bass section, which is me and this galoot who claims he can’t sing above a G on the bass staff, and who doesn’t sing at all (that I could hear) except that when there’s a long note he has time to find, he can sing it an octave too low. I suppose that does add a certain richness. There were evidently many absentees. The whole thing must be torment to someone clearly as trained and sensitive as K. One wants to say “Well, they’re trying their best,” but I’m not sure that’s true. I’ve been singing in “professional” choirs so long I forget the volunteerism that propels the music program in most churches. A remarkable amount of time is spent apologizing for colds and sore throats and deferring to one’s neighbor as the better singer. Like hens in a barnyard confirming a pecking order. One soprano brought two kids who played around her feet during rehearsal. The aged altos (THAT’s not their fault, I understand) spent most of their time rattling the pages of their music, missing cues and then saying, “We don’t see where you are.” They didn’t see that because they were nattering when the announcement was made. ANYWAY, a thought-provoking experience. Amazingly, it seems not to conflict at all with All Souls, and my heart goes out to K– who, incidentally, looks like he should be a personal trainer at the gym rather than a choirmaster.

Pinkish purple through the upstairs window. And so it begins.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

October 8, 2014

Burly blond guy from Mountain Heating and Cooling happened to be in my area and remembered me, so the furnace was fixed yesterday rather than a week from today. Gratitude. Looks like the viburnum has taken to its new home. Gratitude. Chris answers me about rehearsal space for Medea. Gratitude. Actually enjoy my chat with Carl at the Y. Surprise. Lifting weights and running Macbeth in my head. I lament that Break is over, though noting that I have only one class today, and none on Friday, so we may think of it as a break with interruptions. Started new writing projects, unlike what I usually do. Interest. Legs almost clear. The moment now upon me is endurable.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October 7, 2014

Autumn rain, surprisingly warm on the skin. My quest to get somebody to come light the furnace is complicated by the fact that any sentence beginning with “We can’t –“ is automatically dismissed by my ear. This is a learned characteristic. So many “We can’t”’s are turned around by explanation, argument, or demanding to speak to the person next higher up that a situation when the real thing comes along I fight a little too long, with a little too much acid. But this time everybody tells the same story. Nine days turns out to be a pretty general waiting time. So, nine days it is, with space heaters heating the place (for now) more than adequately.

F borrows the truck to move tympani on Friday. It’s still not back. It’s like having kids.

Drove unnecessarily through a storm to a rehearsal at which I was not expected. Combat rehearsal, and I don’t engage in combat this time. Glad I went, though, for A was back, as MacDuff and the fight choreographer, and it was good to see him.  Good to see also was the kindness and skill with which the teachers (turned out three men were pretty adept) brought the others up to speed. Men are kind to men when they are given a chance, or some set of mind doesn’t ruin it. A’s grace and growing expertise shone out of every gesture.

Agreed to try to be the Christmas bass at Marshall Presbyterian, where there are no native basses. No serious conflict with All Souls.  A Christmas adventure. . . .

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014

The cold house is more damaging to my sense of well-being than it is to my body. Rose last night to go to the bathroom, and when I returned the spots where Circe lay and the spot where I had lain were hot, I mean, almost burning hot, as though I’d had an electric blanket, which I had not. New respect for endothermy. Massive Cosmopolitans before bed, so no dreams.

Asked Bill, who was at the rally but didn’t sing with us, if we sounded OK. He said, “The sound system was awful,” by which I assume that particular labor was for naught.

Accidental contact with a documentary on the New York Review of Books on TV. Deep satisfaction.

Finished off the bags of mulch and the bags of dirt mulching and planting, or in the case of the laburnum, transplanting. It looks noble in the backyard, where it is now. I hope I caught at the right moment, when it was almost asleep, but still could send out root. Allium to fill in the space of the laburnum.

Much revising of poetry, putting together of manuscripts, laying old ones to rest. On some days you’re simply in the groove and can’t be stopped. On other days, even fiddling with punctuation is pointless. One of my students used his class presentation to, humorously, mock the qualities of poetry, reviving the old canard that it is needlessly obscure, and why can’t it just come out and say what it means. What I have always loved is that it DOES come out and say what it means. My sense of that is so strong that I am not helpful to people like my student.  It’s like trying to point at something in the night sky, you keep crying “There! Right over there!” but if they don’t see it, they don’t.

The sun is very low now, in the south, and doesn’t light the same things it lit through the summer.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October 5, 2014

The furnace didn’t turn on, and won’t. Pilot light? Who knows? I go down into the basement and stare at the cold dead thing, wondering what it wants, wondering if Stewart saddled me with an appliance that was on its last season. These things always happen on a Saturday night, when no one can be called. But I survived the night bundled up, and am about my business in the same bundling. In the arctic dreams I was a pilot who specialized in giving tired condors rides. The condors would wait for me in the vacant corners of parking lots.

The cold began at City-County Plaza, where Cantaria sang for Asheville Pride. I had my first solo at such a venue, and I think we did well enough. A giant lesbian strode onto the stage mid-performance and ordered us to stand closer to the mics. The light was brilliant, but we were freezing. Keeping back the blinding light was the first good my new glasses have yet done me.

Revised poems late into the evening. Was disappointed when they were flawed, but said to myself, “this is why we are revising.” Edward Albee mentioned in an interview that he wrote poetry until he asked himself if he felt like a poet, and he did not, so he turned to other things. Do I feel like a poet? The answer is, oddly, after all these years, no. It always rather surprises and delights me that I can write poetry. It seems exterior, in a way, an achievement rather than a compulsion. Isn’t that curious, after all this time?

What do I actually feel like? I feel like a boy who walks through the woods.

Drank jasmine tea like a camel in the desert. Second round steeps in the kitchen below.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 4, 2014

Orion directly over the end of the drive. Hard dreams last night. There was a blizzard and then a wintery landscape. All our cars were snowed in, so I had to push a grocery cart bearing–something--through deep snow, and I had to get to a certain place at a certain time, all the while needing (for some reason) to disguise the effort I was extending to make it all happen. A simulacrum of my life, actually.

Sang for the Marriage Rights Rally which weather moved into the Renaissance Hotel. We looked good in red. We were made to take a pledge that was about four pages long. Gruesome.

In my email this morning:

I am rather certain we were Boy Scouts together in Goodyear Troop 40 in
Akron, Ohio.  I came across your name in connection with your writing and
thought I would check if it was you after ordering a copy of "A Childhood in
the Milky Way."  My father was Warren Wilson (now deceased).  I think I may
remember your father--did he use a cane?  For some reason I have a faded
memory that he might have.  

If you are who I think, I remember when you were Senior Patrol Leader.  I
was at one time Librarian and later was Senior Patrol Leader. 
I have a memory of how much you like "The Sound of Music" when it came out.

Like my father, all 5 of his son's became Eagle Scouts (all in Troop 40).
Life is such a variety.  I went to Kent State University the year after the
shoots.  Stayed there until I left with a PhD in Mathematics.  Chaired the
Math department of one university in Connecticut, went to another here in
Virginia, and this former anti-war graduate from Kent State is now a US
government civilian employee at a government lab.  I spent 39 hours at the
Pentagon after 9/11 and it turns out I had coincidently spoken to 3 of the
hijackers in Las Vegas the month before.  Life seems full of strange
coincidences.    In what I have seen in the brief reviews of your work,
Akron comes across as bleak, but I would move back there if I could.   But
maybe I was lucky as I lived 11 miles outside Akron in the country and spent
many hours hiking the country-side.   Paradise is a short distance from
bleak I guess.  

I hope life has treated you fairly--I guess I will know when I read your

I answered that I remember him quite well. He was slight and secret and private and almost never said a word. But something inside was alight.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October 3, 2014

Noon rains. It is not yet cold, but I shut the windows against the threat of it. I drove to the riverside park yesterday afternoon to write a little and study Blake a lot. It was less soothing than it might have been had there been less turbulence in my mind, and yet the waters and the sky were beautiful, and workers took their lunches and moments of repose in the dapples of the trees. Stinkbugs tried to enter every crevasse, one up my pant leg, a couple zooming into my open satchel. Touching the vinyl padding on the weight machines at the Y this morning gave me flaming rashes. It’s always something new. This would be day one of fall break in easier times.

October 2, 2014

Worked so hard yesterday that my sleep was quick and long, and long sleep leads to dreams, which were, last night, odd and festive, and seemed to revolve around my getting married. J proposed to me, and I accepted. I did so fully aware of the differences between us, and that he is already married, but I decided I was going to work very hard and if anything were under my control, it would work. Then I decided to marry Cecily, as she was back in high school. I went to the O’Neill’s basement (gone these 40 years) to buy a blazer for some wedding-related event. All the blazers they had were in various gaudy school colors, and huge, as though only the giants had not gotten their blazers yet. Cecily and Neil what’s-his-name (another kid from Ellet) stood in one part of the basement reciting Shakespear to one another, gathering a crowd around them. I wanted to ask Cecily for help with the blazer, but she couldn’t move until one of them missed a line.

Frank borrows the truck to move some gigantic mechanical work of art to the Lipinsky lobby.

Looking forward to the brief respite of Fall Break, which is, of course, full of things to do.

Linda’s birthday.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October 1, 2014

Autumn asserts itself with red light under the trees in the west yard.  I wasn’t sure of it before.

Maud caresses my feet. Heat from the roof pervades the study, but heat will soon be so rare that I do not fan it away.

Did my mile at the Y, going over my lines, this time without the book. Then home to address the carton of bulbs that had come from Indiana. This may well have been one of the great planting days of my life. I am so sore I can hardly move, and my nap, though long, was turbulent with finding how to lie without exacerbating an ache. Into new plots and holes scratched into the surface went orange monarch snow crocus, altruist daffodils, remembrance crocus, blue grape hyacinths, roulette daffodil, Siberian tiger grape hyacinth, Mount Hood daffodil, yellow mammoth crocus, lubaantun daffodil, a raft of yellow jonquils, aconite, blue hyacinth, Jan Bos hyacinth, red carpet border lily, an orange and yellow hyacinth mixture. My mind goes to the scarves and sheets and ropes of color in the grass when spring comes. These joined the cyclamen, which was already blooming.

Have not looked at email or phone. Because of all that, for a moment I am happy.