Friday, February 27, 2015


February 27, 2015

Finished In the Paramount Hotel.

Perpetual dull headache from the sinus clog, which itself is perpetual.

Almost immovable with lethargy.


My golden crocus unfolds, heedless of a week of bad weather.

Videos on the Internet of The Islamic State destroying the sacred heritage of Mesopotamia. Wired the way I am, this of all such images strikes at my gut, makes me howl with rage and despair. We set our own nest ablaze, but there is no proof we are the phoenix.

AABB gives a pile of money to a lesbian theater collective. Their work was not good, but one of our members fights so hard to make sure only women will get money from us, on the ground– to which she clings no matter how many time it is refuted by actual data on the page– that women have been given a raw deal in the theater. I open my Dramatists Guild Directory to FORTY FOUR all female or female-first theaters or production opportunities. And not one which so much as uses the word “male” or “men.” It no longer embarrasses us to be politically passionate about the aggrandizing of our own selves, about anointing our own prejudices as sacred.

Leonard Nimoy is dead.

Cold bright day. It deserved better than I gave it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


February 26, 2015

Padding around in the snow before dawn snapping photos, though photos of snow with a flash do not work very well. Crows were calling from high up. Maybe they’d found something. Maybe they were greeting the sun. Snow fell thick and beautiful all the night, and I slept in the windowy front bedroom so to have the illusion of its falling all around me.

First attempt at off-book last night did not cover me with glory.

Met E, the new owner of the Studios, yesterday morning, being led around by gorgeous Luiz. Who knows what they will do, how long I will stay? He had a money-grubbing aura. Met also my new neighbor in the studio, Elizabeth, and her daughter Maddie. Elizabeth grew up in West Clare–and could be Mrs Markham’s sister-- one of my favorite places on earth. She picked up a copy of Bird Songs of the Mesozoic years ago, loved it, copied parts of it down in her diary, sought me in Asheville in 2010 but didn’t find me, moved here, took a studio at Phil Mechanic so to be beside me. So she said. I was thinking the whole time “Jesus, I hope actually meeting me is not a let-down.” When L used the studio last he blew the circuit breakers and just left, so I came in to outdoor freeze condition. I didn’t test to see whether oil paint freezes or not. Met the new owner, fled into the morning.

A great racket of crows overhead.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


February 25, 2015

Blue dawn, striped as an agate.

Did something I’ve never done before: went to the Y and did not work out, but merely sat in the steam room. But I feel great right now. The gents in the steam room were talking about real estate. One man was looking for a small place for his son, to start him out in life.

I leave the night rehearsals staggering with exhaustion. Partially it is by dint of having a day job; partially it is because I am the oldest person in the room, probably by at least a decade. Yesterday I was the youngest. You blink and the world changes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


February 24, 2015

Snow blanket. My yard lay perfect and untouched by any foot when I walked out, but for the track of a single mouse skirting the edge of the drive.  Now that I’ve pushed the trash and recyclables out onto the street, all pretense of purity is gone. The falling snow is sweet, though, soft and hushed, almost blue in the tangled night light of the city. Fully awake now that I’ve been plowing around in it.

Monday, February 23, 2015


February 23, 2015

Ghastly dreams before waking, very vivid. Four people had been mutilated horribly by their lovers, and I was part of a committee to decide which atrocity was the worst.

Church, meeting, rehearsal, rehearsal was how yesterday went until I dragged home to see the end of the Oscars. Amadeus rehearsals feel at once massive and unhurried, quite unlike anything I’ve experienced. Great conviviality among the cast members. Constanza makes the treats mentioned in the play, and we gobble them up. One of our cast members is autistic and left because things were too confusing for him. I’m still in the stage of ignoring things until they miraculously fall into place, as I know they shall.

A day not quite “off,” but with little enough to do that I can catch my breath.

February 22, 2015

Coughed myself into dry heaves this morning at waking. That was new. It was also kind of funny. For all that, feeling perkier than I have in many a day.

Am not on my way with S to Carrboro to hear my play, alas. That means four other duties may be done.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


February 21, 2015

 One of those skyscraping apartment houses in Dubai is on fire.

The light through the north window s the color of dishwater.

Great progress on the New York play.

Almost unbearably rich dream of Sligo. I was sleeping in a loft in a church, one wall of which was the Rose Window. I wandered the tangled streets at night, having adventures. The essential city of dreams.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


February 20, 2015

Bundled in the study. Coldest night yet. Weather and an actor quitting cancels reading of The Mermaid in Carrboro. It is all right. Huge Amadeus rehearsal that day, though the drama surrounding my begging out of it is now wasted. They used the word “postpone,” but I am not sanguine.
   
Abundant dreams.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


February 19, 2015

Almost too cold to work in my study. Must write to forget about it. The one little space heater barely heats itself. This house is like a diving seal, keeping its center warm and forgetting about the extremities. It was built to be cool in summer, and it is that.
    
Great day at the Y, more reps than in months before.  Heroic sleeping yesterday, meeting briefly with one class on the useless “late start” schedule.
   
I have two students in the senior seminar who write with what I must call majesty, so firm, so sure. They use this sureness to build structures of rhetoric that should still be years ahead of them, supple and muscular, able, apparently, so say anything. The criticism you make is to say that, here and there, they are a little in love with this power, and let the reader wander from the path to admire the majesty of the forest round.  I feel blest. One wrote a paragraph on being buried at sea that may be the best writing I have ever seen.
   
I have two students who have maladies– I don’t know what to call them– psychological ones, which they use to manipulate and shield themselves from the consequences of decisions which seem to me to be wholly unrelated to the maladies. One misses classes and exams and scurries out into the hall three times each class period she does manage because she has an eating disorder (which apparently allows her to be quite voluptuous). The other came to only two classes, begged for clemency, missed the class after the meeting where I granted clemency. She is going through a “bad time.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


February 18, 2015

Woke from vivid dreams. I had taken S to Ireland, to Sligo. He wasn’t interested in the old buildings and wild places I was trying to show him, but rather in the posh shopping malls (of which there are none in real life). The dream was not about disappointment, though, but about my deciding I’d rather be with him than with the things I’d formerly loved.

Class was in fact cancelled yesterday, and I made huge headway in my New York tourist play. Time coupled with the good news from Omaha lit the fires back up again. Too much disappointment silences me; a little encouragement tunes me to singing.

Convinced by an Internet article that I had COPD (I certainly have a number of the symptoms), I went through the ice fields to the Racquet Club, ran hard on the Elliptical, did weights, sat in the steam room. I felt terrific after the work-out, which the article led me to believe I would not do if I had COPD. Reminds me after my heart surgery, if I had a twinge or tightness in the chest, I refused to be afraid or apprehensive, but would go running, deciding that it would either go away or kill me. It always has gone away. As far as that goes, I believe, on the evidence of a coughless, no cloudiness of the throat morning, the long ague may be abating, or even gone. Moments like these make me understand I am hopelessly mythopoeic. I do not spontaneously believe that natural forces are at work in my life, but rather spirits, gods, who are to be questioned when things go wrong and blessed when they go right. The second part of that is well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


February 17, 2015

The first snowflake caught my eye as I was standing by the sink shaving. It was slow, and only intermittently visible against the pale fence, but at last it floated over dark ground and stood out. A hard wind blew, but behind the sheltering fence it pushed the flake only a little. How memorable it would have been if the flake had fallen on the green frond of the hart’s-tongue fern! I would have taken a photo of that. It settled instead on a small bump of dirt. The next flake didn’t come for countable seconds. The first one was still there, lingering–proudly, I would say– on its mound of dirt. One would fall upon the other until the landscape was white, and onlookers would share the illusion of a blanket, of a substance massy and extended, subsuming all individual flakes into itself. But I had seen that one fall. I had seen the tiny adjustments in its destiny, and thought, maybe for the first time, of the fragmented individuality of the snow, each flake with its incomparable shape and– I was convinced at that moment–unique place in the myriad. Oh, so many! By the time I was finished shaving, thousands upon thousands dwelt in the little space of my garden. The sky I could see from my window was full of uncountable battalions more, descending. I wished I hadn’t though of each possessing a little life, a little destiny. It made things complicated. I went out on to the porch to listen if I could actually hear voices.

The storm was pale but very slippery. The power was off long enough for me to develop cinematic despair, but not long enough for the house to cool. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the blue-white flash that was whatever it was exploding down on Merrimon that turned the power off. Walked at 3:30 this morning. Some places were slick and other places not. Unless one faced north, the air was oddly sultry. Not even a bird had stepped upon my drive.

Word comes from the Great Lakes Theater Conference that Washington Place has been selected (along with 4 others out of 578 entries) as one of the Mainstage features for their summer conference in Omaha. I think this conference grew up as the famous names migrated from Valdez, but I might be wrong. It seems more playwright and less celebrity oriented than Valdez, though my guess is that the surroundings in Alaska were more awesome than they will be in Omaha. I did not take full advantage of Valdez, but I will here, and WP is a much stronger play than NSDL was. Plus, if I’m reading the information right, they pay my way.

Doubt that class will be cancelled today; indifference, because I am prepared.

Monday, February 16, 2015


February 16, 2015

I can see through my north-facing study window the grey-to midnight clouds that are meant to bring storm upon us in a few hours. Much warning– maybe nothing will come of it, but I hope something does, just to have a new color in daily life. White, I suppose.

Rehearsals are long and fascinating. Certain of us are hardly sociable at all, and sit against the wall thinking our thoughts. Others are quite sociable, quipping and alert. I think I’m probably right in the middle of those classes. It’s a relief to be among adults.  The last Montford foray nearly drove me nuts with cittero chattero and word games and out-loud readings of I-phone material backstage. There it is a sort of a contest.
   
All in the public arena goes well. Sleeping gigantically. Turning back from the lava flows just in time.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


February 15, 2015

The radio say it’s 8 degrees outside. The sun is bright, and so there’s deception going on, but I can tell from the chill of my study, which the space heater cannot dissipate, that it is cold indeed.  I think the days that have passed without my writing have been good ones. I’ve swam at the RC– up to a full lap now without stopping, more than which I could not do even as a lad–and lying low in the steam room trying to melt this catarrh out of me. Gut sore from agonizing muscle cramps last night, brought on by God knows what. Rehearsals have been well. There is a sense of working together toward an end that I have not seen so much elsewhere. M’s memory and efficiency as an actor are remarkable.  Contributed to Fox and Beggar, because their director and the one thing they’ve done are so beautiful. Sidney re-facebooked a photo from The Loves of Mr Lincoln, and all the comments were “I saw it and loved it “ or “I wish I could see that.” May the latter portion have their wish. They all remark on the acting because their friends are the actors, and I would too, unless I were, as I am, the playwright. The unexpected perspectives one has—No Valentine’s calls. I hold this, too, against the universe.  Made beef stew. Revised. Watched a video on the Chauvet Cave. It is the holiest place on earth.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


February 11, 2015

I have been living in this house for one year. Tonight is the anniversary of my sleeping here for the first time. Moving was the right thing to do– a little tardy, if anything. Even when I’m looking at 62, I have no particular feeling for it other than curiosity about what it looks like inside now.

Awful night last night, the respiratory and the digestive systems at war to see which could cause the most upheaval. Worn this morning, exhausted, my throat battered by acids. You’d think the acid would kill the infection, like the Great Fire killing the fleas, but no such luck.

Read-through of Amadeus last night warm and encouraging. My propensity to be the Village Explainer led me to supply the Italian and German pronunciations. . . I hope I was helpful rather than just annoying. Sometimes I can’t help myself. Arrived early enough to poke around in my Riverside office, which is across the hall from the rehearsal space. Randomly read my journal entry for February 10, 1980. Syracuse winter. I had walked several miles down Erie Boulevard to see a movie (though I didn’t record it, I remember it was The Rose), and walked back. All the while I was reveling in the night noises, and all, all the while I was exulting God in a conversation, my side of which was praise, His side of which was starlight and the call of hidden birds at the roadside, signs and mysteries which I was joyful to interpret. How He could beat that devotion into the angry stand-off we have today is not an edifying chronicle. The mortal things on my mind were Tim, whom I loved, and the typing of my dissertation, which looked at the time to be without incident. Both, of course, turned to disaster in their various and variously permanent ways. After the dissertation was typed and the typing paid for, beautifully and unexpectedly, by my father, Sutton said, “I think the work is ready for one final revision.” I could never afford to have it typed again. I refused, and won the battle (with the rest of my committee on my side), but I didn’t reveal my reason for refusing, and I lost the friendship of Walter Sutton, whose letter of recommendation revealed his pique and sabotaged me in the job market for two years. Tim came to me when he was hurt but never when he was happy. Yet, on the pages of that journal, I was so happy. Blow after blow had come and not yet damaged me. The night was a dome of crystal.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


February 10, 2015

Again not wanted by the justice system. Relief.
  
Coffee with a vivid and charming young man named N, who has an idea for a kind of Cirque de Soleil based here in Asheville. I watched video of his first show on You Tube and it was beautiful (though, as he says, skillfully edited). I ask him what he wants from me and he says “friendship.” That is the word that opens all the doors. He is a true visionary. The question is how soon the world will wear him out. I told him to make friends with Ann, who is the best artist of any sort in this city. He is also a quite good salesman, which does not always go with “visionary.” His critique of the “real” Cirque is the same as mine: it has no respect for the word, no interest in the actual story. That was what set his apart.
  
Finished one short story and revised another. In an hour begins my first Amadeus rehearsal. Have decided not to foment over all the scheduling conflicts. . . just lie back and let it unfold. . . .being, as I am, a visionary among visionaries.

Monday, February 9, 2015


February 9, 2015

In Akron M has died. He was sex in gym shoes, smooth and muscular and always breaking the school’s sit-up or push-up record. I crushed on him madly. In the obituary photo he looked like a tired old man, and I would never have known him. I hope he wouldn’t be offended by this bit of an elegy from the olden days.

First day at the Racquet Club, before their new wilderness of machines. Swam for the first time in who knows how many years, in salt water, that was lovely and thick and scentless and cool, but to which I lost my trunks so repeatedly that I had to get out until I can find new ones. I wonder why “trunks” and “pants” are plural? It’s the same in Italian.

S wants to cook an Indian dinner here for his friends and me. I suppose I could say “our friends,” though guarding against presumption has made me look remote. I would never have thought of such a thing. It is wonderful.

Plans for Washington Place take a jolt and proceed.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


February 8, 2015

Thwarted in my previous plans, I instead have two glorious days at the studio, renewed in pleasure and determination. Finished one work. Remade another, Experimented with pastels. Opened the window a tentative inch. Was gone and on my way before anyone else entered the building.

Pruned the roses in the spring light. There are twenty of them (I could never count them in my head, had to see them before me) though two look like they might be winter casualties. Lawrence floats in a hall of crystal under his ice roof. Sat down this vernal afternoon in a lawn chair with my chest bare to the sun. I dozed. I had waking dreams. Even an hour after I came in I felt the gentle hand of him on me, the white sun in glory. Maybe bake this contagion out of me.

Went to L’s book reading at Edna’s last night. Rick and I and a handsome teenager towed by his mother were three men amid, I would guess, seventy lesbians. That much pure middle-aged lesbian energy takes one aback. Rowdy and oddly boyish. They were far more focused on the joy of being together than on the event itself. Still, had I written The Last Book That Will Ever Be Written, I couldn’t get that many men in a room to hear me.

Great crows gliding onto the front lawn by twos and threes.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


February 7, 2015

    Joined the Racquet Club after the name appeared in what seemed to be a prophecy.  Cheap, so no second thoughts. No particular wonderment. Forgot when it opened or I’d be there now. Fighting off the whatever it is. . .  Wrote poems on a little table in the YMCA. Poems turned out to be about the YMCA. Trip south nixed by a clash of schedules. I think today will give me a day at the studio. Hungry for everything but breakfast, wanting it all at once.

Friday, February 6, 2015


February 6, 2015

Annual reading of “Little Gidding,” tears running down my face in the cafĂ©.
   
Unspeakable yesterday followed by a nearly merry today. It’s my monstrous resilience that amazes me. To say it that way makes it seem like a blessing, but it is not. Unless it is.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


February 5, 2015
   
Rose at 4 and walked in the surprisingly clement night wind. Tested out the new sidewalks, which are broad and gleamed slightly under the moon, over which the clouds rushed knotty and plated as a crocodile’s back. My hollies sent off a blackish gleam into the air. Will said he saw the plans for the walks, and that they are not coming to my side, and so my hollies and my great pine are secure. This was a load off my heart, at least a 30th part of the whole weight. The walk was a prayer, I realize now, though what God and I have to say to each other at this point is hard to tell. Did the random lights mean that other people were awake?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


February 4, 2015

T came to my office to chat yesterday, confiding and forward-looking, and very, very blond. As he talked, I felt a desire for him that was one third fire, one third appreciation, one third regret. Was shaken by that, and am shaken by it now, one more cruelty, one more gratuitous call heard only after it cannot be answered. He escaped unharmed.

The fireplace clock is stopped, and when I look at it, it shows different time, five after five for a long while, now five after six, as though it convulsed forward an hour when I was not looking, building up the energy for the leap.

Terrible yesterday, shattering and terrible. My good days are psychic constructions; my bad days are initiated by actual events.

Buying a phalanx of angel’s trumpets. Somehow that will make all things well.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


February 3, 2015

Moonlight on snow, a few big stars not quite lost in the radiance.

Exhausted yesterday even before I got to school. The first stupid question set me off. Usually I can endure five or six.

God will sometimes let you claw to the surface for a frantic breath, but he will never quite let you out of the water.

Monday, February 2, 2015


February 2, 2015

Monteverde on the CD

Groundhog will see no shadow in this downpour. Something to be thankful for.

Driven almost to shrieking by the hoo-hah and cross-purposes of preparation for the Valentine’s gala. Too many people loudly in charge of too many different things. I am morbidly fuss-averse. Watched five minutes of football and the Half Time extravaganza, so I can claim participation in this particular Americana.
   
Terrible night, stomach upset from eating the wrong thing, and too much of it, too late. I know the reason but protest that the reason is not sufficient. Anyway, late and draggy start to the wet and raw morning.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


February 1, 2015

Annapurna at NC Stage last night. Distinguished performance of an undistinguished– or rather, unevenly distinguished-- play. The central metaphor, the unattainable, destructive goal represented by Annapurna, is sublime. Too much derivative, gratuitous, overexplained around it. I think the play must have been heavily workshopped. It has the air of having been worked over to satisfy the unimaginative. The production is, so far as I can tell from one exposure, impeccable. CS caught me up on the throes of Flat Rock. Willy filled me with excitement for his upcoming  show, An Iliad. Elaborate cocktails at King James afterwards.  People there, and kinds of people, whom I never see in my regular life. Odd, abrupt waking this morning, without the vestibule of dreams.