Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 30, 2016

Treks to the west beginning to wear a little. Hugh the sexy bicycling Frenchman comes here and we confab about gardens and land usage. The study doesn’t seem very scientific, but I’m asked to talk about my favorite plants, and I like to do that. Start to number the times I am taken advantage of by friends and others seeking favors, stop when I begin to dig into the slough of self-pity. Good classes. Daily exhaustion. Exquisite sleep.

March 29, 2016

Bright half moon when I rose this morning. My CPA discovers almost $10,000 in overpaid taxes. Lose a toenail.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March 28, 2016

Easter Monday. The congruence with the 100th Anniversary of the Rising and the great Yeats poem could not be let go by, so all my classes got the ecstatic lecture. Their attentive eyes told me it was something they wanted to hear. Finished the adaptation of “American Pie” for Merritt’s retirement party. To Waynesville and back for rehearsal. The mountains wear little clouds of cherry and redbud blossoms.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday. Reminiscences of my mother, of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, of the Easter Uprising in Dublin, that 100 years gone. My own life goes more than halfway back to it, a remarkable thing to think upon.
My own Easter started early, as I was so moved during rehearsal Saturday morning that I could barely sing. Everything seemed right. The Resurrection made better sense than it had in years, the fires of my bivouacs, at least for this time, out. Left the church as happy as if it had really been church. Went to the studio and painted, well, and in the evening, desired to be wrapped in my own thoughts rather to sing the Easter Vigil. R arrived without notice and joined me in my thoughts, and in my arms, and though I can’t speak for him, for a time I was happy, and I thanked the Resurrected one for my happiness. I make all kinds of mistakes a good course in theology might have saved me from.  I expect the dazzle on the moving waters to be a moral force. I expect the rushing wind and the flower-upraising root to behave as a human soul behaves. I worship the uncontainable Glory, and yet expect it to be heedful and just. I am making a mistake there, one so ingrained in my upbringing and my experience that I might need time–even more time than I have dedicated to it heretofore– to rectifying it. What I blame is blameful, but I attach the blame to the wrong Personality. I think. I have to decide whether my Lord is a keeper of accounts or the first light shouting for joy upon the mountains. No, I have decided; I must strive to remember the decision and to rejoice in it. God has gone up with a shout, and the Lord with the sound of the trumpet.
The Easter services were grand, and not so grueling as they might have been. F passed out at the 9 o’clock, and left blood on the floor where he hit his head. Dinner with the usuals at Reza’s afterward, a meal with which I still strive hours later. So much to do to prepare for the week that I’m tempted to do nothing at all.

March 26, 2016

Anniversary of mother’s death. 42 years. Amazing. Holy Saturday.

I’m one of eight poets invited to the Nazim Hikmet poetry festival in Cary in April. We are celebrating the life of Rumi. I’m wondering what poetry I could have sent– probably the Istanbul poems. Happy. Long drought with a late morning shower.

Friday, March 25, 2016

March 25, 2016

Good class presentations this morning, one on de Sade, one on the blue flowers of the Germans. The men sang the Good Friday service, which is probably very moving from the congregation. I always end up wearing the wrong shoes. Dug in the garden then, enlarging, weeding, planting poppy and black eyed Susan. Great and pleasant receipt of sleep. While digging, sank into rage about the idiot Humanities chairman and the non-appearing pond digger. Are those important issues? Only because they are needless and gratuitous, like hiccoughs or a muscle cramp. And I did not sink through the bottom, as I might have done. Weekend shot through by performances and rehearsals like a Swiss cheese. It is not the way to do Easter, but it does help others to do Easter, so one does not know where responsibilities lie. Blue day edging toward silver. Heard my wind chime as I was digging– very beautiful, almost unbelievably beautiful, a bell chiming from another world.

C writes that Alex K has died. Eleven hours ago he responded to a Facebook posting of my by writing, “Rock on, brother, rock on. Peace. Alex.” And the same to you now, old friend. Ave atque vale. 

March 24, 2016

Maunday Thursday. The foot washing service was very beautiful this year. As we rehearsed, a man in shorts marched through the door of the church, seized the American flag from where it sat in the aisle, saying, ”this is the symbol of an oppressive government.” Then he disappeared into the street, with the little old ladies in the back looking at each  other in surprise. I wonder where our flag is now, and by what unlikely circuit it became a target. I bet somebody lost a bet. I prayed from the heart to be able to end the Great War.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

March 23, 2016

The 23rd of each month seems lucky to me.
Stupendous moon– saw it rise in Haywood County, feel it sinking now over the near and western roofs.
First morning in many that I have felt actually and fully well. It was in fact the medication. Hit it hard at the gym, realizing that blood pressure must be addressed one way if not the other.
Jolly rehearsal last night. I was already feeling better, We got up and did some acting. Beauty of the young men in the company--
Sudden apprehension of the beauty of the wood poppies under the holly trees.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March 22, 2016

Huge bright moon through the frigid night. Saw it rise over Waynesville, where the new HART theater rises beneath in fragrant woody glory. First read-through of The Winter’s Tale last night unexpectedly convivial and enriching. Ignored the sound of my phone receiving text messages which I feared were– and which turned out to be– other actors asking for rides. I wanted at least one night to go by when I was not the unpaid taxi service.

Preparing poems for contests and submissions, exclaiming over and over, “God! That’s a good poem!” A kind of gratitude.

Intuition led to research that led to my discovery that the physical woes of the last few months: exhaustion, near incidents of passing out, dehydration and the drain of electrolytes leading to excruciating muscle cramps– are being caused by my blood pressure medicine. Almost no such thing as the absence of unanticipated consequences.

Duke Power shuts off my power– on a day given over to writing on the computer-- to install a lightning rod on the utility pole on my property. I suppose I’ll be grateful when I’m not being struck by lightning.

March 21, 2016

Retired early, so the dreams at morning were vivid and turbulent. Most of them seemed to be about waiting for something– for the gate and departure time to be announced at the airport, for friends to decide on what to do for the evening. While I waited for the latter, I decided to take a hike. I crossed one wooded valley here and emerged on the other side in Washington State. I wondered if crossing back again would get me home or some third place, but before I discovered that, I explored a rambling estate of some kind, buildings and outdoor sections, with animals and children playing in it. I heard adults coming, and I was afraid, trying to get out the door before they caught me, when I woke.
Huge oblong moon in the west when I went to the gym. A car drove into the Racquet Club driveway covered in snow. Our skies were clear, so I couldn’t figure where he’d come from.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Vernal Equinox

March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday, Venal Equinox, feeling not very vernal at all, but a step back into bluster. Read the St Luke Passion to three services, beginning at 7:45. The 9 o’clock is full of young families, fathers cuddling sons, babies having their say about the service, really quite lovely, and I tried to utter a spell of protection over all. My experience with God leads me to think He doesn’t know what to foster and what to stamp out, but sometimes, such as the 9 o’clock service, it looks like everything is well in hand. Annihilated my voice, so I was useless at the generally useless afternoon rehearsal. Ending the day with a pleasant meal and chat with DJ at Avenue M.
March 19, 2016

Through the study window it appears to be a rainy dawn.

Into my head came Becky Webb, from the 8th grade, a big blond girl, a prototype of girls more numerous today, who have been so encouraged and entitled by their parents there’s never in them a wisp of modesty or doubt.  We were up for the same reading at the Thanksgiving  assembly, something about the Pilgrims, and she was chosen over me. I couldn’t figure that out, because I was better. Nevertheless, I decided to be big about it and, noting that she misread the word “sow”– to plant seed– as “sow– a female pig, I pointed it out, to save her embarrassment. She gave me a very knowing look and said, “You’re just saying that so I’ll get it wrong, because you’re mad that I got the reading.” She went on stage and said “and they female pigged the seed into the furrows,” and so far as I know she thinks she did it right to this day, and that she cunningly caught me trying to subvert her triumph. I tell my students that things pop into your head because they’re unresolved and need to be dealt with– and that this is the fount of art. So, in Becky popped. Have I dealt with it? Actually, it’s emblematic of my life since, isn’t it? My watching the unfolding of a lesser thing than I would have done, unable to speak, unable to put my cause, recognizing that quality had not been the issue.
Truly excellent day painting, breakthroughs, successes.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

March 18, 2016

To the Magnetic for an evening of theater. Reflect on what excellent companions the theater and the railroad are, without really being able to articulate the reasons. Half misty moon. Peaches and nectarine the best pink ever.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Blessed St. Patrick

March 17, 2016
Blessed Patrick. Wore my green to the work-out. Quite good day at the studio, with the example of van Gogh and the flawless Netherlanders in recent memory. Planted tuberose, black lily, variegated mollis, though a strange exhaustion (that was with me in Amsterdam) hindered activity in the garden somewhat.

Stephen, whose snubbing of me in Dublin is one of the bitterest recollections of my life (and, I think now, I have never returned) Facebooked me to say his band, the Young Irelanders, is touring the US, and wouldn’t I like to come to a show? Happens that there’s on in Statesville, and yes, I said, I will go to that. All that is grand on its own, but to be back in touch is a healing and a redemption.
Peaches and nectarine in bloom. The poor sad magnolia I dragged from 62 put forth one big ragged flower.
Horrible piano music on Spotify, which I’m listening to as a sort of penance. Downloaded Android Pay, where I can pay for things by touching my phone onto the merchant’s screen. Whoever saw these things coming?

March 16, 2016
My love of Tuesdays and Thursdays may mean it’s time to retire. But it is Wednesday, and my students were unexpectedly interested in the short story. I myself was having a bad day, Prayed that It didn’t ruin anybody else’s. Odd assembly line of a rehearsal, too much to drink afterwards, falling asleep on the sofa. Want to prevent this from becoming my life.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March 15, 2016
Good visit to the gym, then voting. The computers were not working at St Eugene’s, the polling place, so one hopes one’s ballot counts. The old ladies working there were already irritated with each other, and I was practically the first one through the door. A former student was shilling for one of the candidates, and recognized me even in the darkness. She has been doing good works since her graduation.
Peach trees in pink bloom. Hung the great metal wind chime.

Maria made me brownies.
Created Ave.

March 14, 2016

    Created In the August Garden. So what? says the world.

Monday, March 14, 2016

March 13, 2016
Father’s birthday. He would have been 97. Dowland on Spotify. Walked onto the porch and a breeze was blowing the scent of the bake shop across my yard. Sweet. Planted purple peonies and red lilies. Didn’t water, because the news prophesied rain, which has not come. Purple peonies reminded me that the one purchase that tempted me in Amsterdam was a blue peony in the famous Flower Market. The picture on the box was blue as the sky at morning, but I did not buy, because I had never heard of such a thing. The lady at Jesse Israel was very skeptical, so I think it was well to pass it by. But if anyone had it, it would be the Dutch. I think of the haze of daffodils under the haze of mist in the ride in from the airport.
Rehearsal of next Sunday’s Passion. Grueling Cantaria rehearsal. I bellow through it and don’t know why, except maybe to outshout mistakes. Sweet day, Draw on, sweet night.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

March 12, 2016

Testing the good, I reflect that 62 Lakeshore is out of my life. The sun-colored crown imperial blooms at the edge of the drive. Patrick and Harry showed up at the door, and we straightened out the ways in which Patrick had misread the UNCA application process. He just won a couple of great races at Reynolds. Rose after 2 and put together The Forest Road, revising most of the stories in it as I went.

Friday, March 11, 2016

March 11, 2016
Waves of hyacinth perfume greeted me at my door, and temperatures thirty degrees above frigid Holland. The journey home was almost miraculous. As I had slept badly the night before, I slept well on the plane. TSA’s unnecessary security check after Customs made me terribly late for my connection in Atlanta. When I looked to see which gate my flight was at, I also saw the word “boarding.” Dead run from F to C gate, thinking I was going to pass out. When I arrived at the gate it was empty, but the Delta guy called me by my name and said, “We were waiting for you.” And so they were, all packed in, delaying to lift off for Asheville, abiding that one little soul should not to be lost. I was very, very grateful. Maria came in just after I did, and Russell and their new wondrously fit French exchange student Hugo jogged by, and so my homecoming for once was not solitary.
Rose early–on European time– unpacked, worked out at the Racquet Club, reveling in the absence of inflammation in my shoulders. I have grown quite weak babying my joints. Caught up on bill-paying, phone calls, correspondence, then returned to the garden, planting roses and dicentria, having to enlarge the tilled plots to do so. Dug weeds. All this, and it is yet two hours before noon. 
Sam was very sad in France, and I was able– according to him–to do him good without really intending to. He certainly did me good. We were happy, I think.
I thought that not being invited back to Omaha would be the cataclysm so deep it could not be survived, but here I am. If I start to write again, we will say that it was an evil that came to nothing.
Feeling vitality the last few days. I was apparently sick for a while, a sickness so gradual I didn’t identify it as such. It has been months since I would have been able to work out and garden heavily in the same day. Maybe it was just winter.
Mockingbird calling in my hollies in the dark hour before morning.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Amsterdam Last

March 10, 2016
One thing to count on: the night you need to get to sleep fast and efficiently for an early start will be the night of soul-searching and limitless personal scrutiny. It is 5 in the morning in Amsterdam, and I have given up trying to sleep. My wake-up call is in an hour. I have filled the toilet with blood a couple of times—just what you want before getting on a plane. The past runs past, stops at the most ruinous moments, lingers, returns when you’d though you were done. The night is at once too slow and too swift. I bless Sam for keeping these thoughts from my head for a number of days. I should think of the handsome and hospitable Dutchmen and their excellent city. Maybe that will lull me to slumber on the plane.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Amsterdam 5

March 9, 2016
Sam-less I had breakfast in town, then took a taxi to the Royal Zoo. It is compact and lovely. The best thing about it is that the wild herons have found refugee there, flying from the canals to their nests, casting great dinosaur shadows. The know how far a human hand reaches and stand stock-still; just out of reach, looking like closed jackknives.  A skit could be made from the Dutch names for the animals, as though Dutch Adam were making them up drunk. Happy fathers toted happy children about. The animals looked as peaceful and at-home as the Netherlanders themselves do. At one point, red lemurs scamper about and can be touched, and can touch you, though they usually disdain to do so.  The weather turned bad, so I made for the gate to look for a taxi. No taxi. I began to walk, and never found a taxi until I had walked from the zoo to the ornate dance theater beside the American Hotel, where I intended to buy a ticket.  It was  too far, too cold, and the show I wanted to see was sold out. Instead of the Netherlands Royal Ballet, I saw Red, a reminiscence of the Maoist ballet The Red Brigade of Women, which none of us had seen.  Four women told and danced a story which was interesting enough, for a while, but random. Why us? we of the audience wanted to say. Then girls behind me were chattering; the girls beside me were checking their phones, and I didn’t bother to reprimand, for there was really nothing else to do. Home mightily ill, with violent diarrhea which seems, nevertheless, to have cleared away the malaise that has been with me all week, which I wasn’t sure I had until it was cleared away. Bright-eyed at morning, ready to make the most of my last day here.


March 8, 2016
Bright morning over the wet roof that is the view outside my window. But I must assume, from the testimony of days, that it is cold as well.

Sam left late afternoon. We hit the Amsterdam Museum and the dungeon as a farewell. I had the evening to wander about in the accustomed way, noting, in contrast to being with him, how I am like a forest cat, watchful, camouflaged, attentive, running in my head a commentary that might lead to revelation, or to poetry. I want him back, but at least I knew what to do without him.  Beer in various places overlooking the happy street.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Amsterdam 3

March 7, 2016

Began the day at the Rijks, which Sam had not seen. We got the guided electronic tour and went from painting to painting until we could have taken an exam. Brunched long in the museum café, then hauled ourselves to the Heineken Brewery for an amusing and sodden tour, where we met a lovely couple from County Wicklow, the woman of which was on her way to Dubai to referee women’s football. Nap, and the night on the town. Sam had gotten us another space cake, which we devoured in the Bull Dog café.  Loved the Bull Dog, rough and sweet.  From there to a jazz bar, which I did not hate, and from which a couple was tossed for we wondered what reason. The combo looked like something out of Hogarth. We were both out of our minds, but made it back to the Momo bar and, for me anyway, home. My fears of keeping up with a 19 year old are allayed either by my stamina or his graciousness.
I remarked that the inflammation in my shoulders, which has plagued me for several years now, is gone, and I can move the joints with almost pristine freedom. I was trying to credit his good influence, but Sam said, “One word: marijuana.” If this is the case, then it is a miracle drug, and I see certain minor changes in my life as it goes forward.
Sam is the best of companions.

The city is ornamented by, surprisingly, parrots.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

March 6, 2016
Sam remarks that when he’s in a new city he mostly finds a place to have a quiet coffee and sits all day. This is to say that we inspire each other to greater feats of tourism than we would achieve on our own.  Yesterday it was the very great Van Gogh Museum. His range was greater—and somewhat gentler—than the art books would have us believe. I wanted to transport magically home and paint. You almost think you could paint like he did, for his strokes are so evident, his intentions so unguarded. We lunched, and then it was the museum next door to the van Gogh, that I forget the name of, that has modern and contemporary art and design, and which was largely—though not completely-- a waste of time. Sam knows something about everything, so the conversation never flags. We bought tickets at the Concertgebouw. That evening we ate at the Irish bar—Aran—across the street, then made our way to the great concert hall for Brahms and Sibelius.  Played well, these pieces seem like living organisms, bulls or cheetahs moving across the landscape, full of life and intention.  For several hours in midday the weather was not dreadful. Nightcap at the hotel. Sam brought me a bottle of absinthe, which we have not yet dared to open.

March 5, 2016

Arrived in Amsterdam in a sleet storm, stood waiting for the shuttle into town. Rode the plane with a man named Herman from Chattanooga, who is going to Romania to help at a rural mission his church has adopted. When I got to town, the sleet changed to thick wet snow, and Amsterdam was quite beautiful, and quite watery, ringed by canals, dark water lying in the streets, pale water drifting from the skies.  The Dutch are freakishly tall, elongated Dutchmen stilting about beside the gray waters. Annihilated as I was from the flight, I had six hours to kill before I could check into my room. Luckily, the Rijksmuseum is one block away, so thither I turned my steps, to the jewel-like Netherlandish paintings which represent one moment of perfection, a road which goes no further, and from which, therefore, future roads must diverge.  It made me consider perfection in art, the sad and glorious moment when there is nothing more to be said, for a while, on that subject. Left the Rijks and wandered into the snowy Old City with its concentricities of canals.  Ate bad salad, drank good wine, returned to the hotel lobby, where I fell asleep, and in the midst of which sleep Sam found me.
We took a canal boat on a tour, where we met Karen and Rhonda from London, and where I saw a swan floating on the water. We photographed one another as though we were celebrities.  Got off the boat near Dam Square, where we wandered, tourist-like. Sam knows the city pretty well, so before long we found ourselves in the Red Light district, where we desired to be. We toured the Erotica Museum. We sat at an outdoor café (the weather by then having become bearable) and drank Amstel and ate, “space cake,” a chocolate muffin laced with marijuana.  It is a quarter dedicated to sin, but it is so open and playful that the overall effect is rather sweet. By the time we got to the Nam Key Chinese restaurant, I was feeling the effect of the magic muffin, the stretching of time, the disorientation, the feeling that everything is approaching from a great distance. It had been thirty years since I had weed, and I remembered what I learned then, that I don’t like it. But, those experiences were had, Amsterdam officially visited.

Sam said he got his own hostel instead of staying with me because he didn’t know if I would want to bring home one of the whores or not. None of last night would have happened without him. He is the easiest and happiest of companions. At one point last night—maybe due to the actions of the weed—he stopped being “Sam” to me and started being “thou.” There are something more than 40 years between us, something he must have noted when I limped and coughed and needed, finally, to go home. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

March 3, 2016

Rejected again from Valdez, also. It has been quite a week. Stood in fury in my kitchen before sunup, like a mouse raging before the descending talons of the hawk. Exhausted, which is good before a flight.

Ran some more initialed or signed documents to the attorneys. Will squirms and tinkers to get a better deal for himself. Postpones Monday’s closing in order to shave 85 cents off his monthly payment. I sent an email saying we close today or the deal is off:

Dear Patrice-- Thank you for your long effort in this matter. I will either fax or personally bring by these documents this morning. Let me say that I will not countenance any changes to the agreement now before us. I will not be initialing, signing, or considering changes in anything else. All changes and all delays have been to Mr. R's benefit-- after his having received, I think, spectacularly favorable terms from the beginning-- and though I have gone along with every one, the one requirement I had from the outset-- for dispatch-- will now at last be honored. This business must and will be finished on March 3, 2016. If it is not, I will have no alternative but to cancel our agreement and put 62 Lakeshore on the open market.

I’ll be blamed for being abrupt and impatient. If they knew what a rage I was in moments before I sent the message, they would think me clemency itself.
I suppose I have felt worse than I do now, but not often, and here I step into an airplane and take all that with me, or perhaps by some miracle leave it behind.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March 2, 2016

Merry development– S will join me in Amsterdam. He’s fed up in some way with Rennes, and leapt at the diversion. He says he knows Amsterdam well, and will serve as my guide. My heart lightened by about a million pounds.
Made a reservation for a haircut, and found C on the other end of the line. Not the time to ask him why he’s back from New York– I suspect it’s because everything is just too hard there–but only to welcome him home. We’ll catch up when I get home.
At once unprepared and over prepared for the flight. As ever.
It is a time when art is judged not by its own qualities but by the identity of the one who made it. I grew up in a different time, and there will not be time to adjust.

March 1, 2016

I was so in touch with it, so desired it, that I knew several days ago that my play had not been selected for the Great Plains Theater Conference, so when the notification came there was, along with the pain, a certain eerie recognition. It is very disappointing. I’d thought I’d found a home there, so great was the praise for Washington Place. The play I sent this year was better. I didn’t enjoy the experience last summer, but deemed it so important that enjoyment was immaterial. Longed to be bored like that again. Very bad night, one more of many when I wondered if I have made any difference in the world.

Plus, Notre Dame did not want my book of poetry. Desolate and void.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February 29, 2016

Offered the role of Camillo in Winter’s Tale even though I missed auditions last weekend. I think I’ll probably say yes. The size and intensity of Leontes exhausted me, and yet I knew if I auditioned I’d have to audition for the lead. This might work out well, and it’s nice to be asked.

Closing postponed again. I was given a number of times to come on Thursday, when I will already be in the air heading for Europe. Ludicrous, murderous, wasteful. A comedy routine by now, though I am not yet quite laughing. W comes to the house to “make it right” somehow, but the only thing to render this right is if it had been over twenty five months ago. People apologize, and then commit the same offense. Baffling.

Half moon and brilliant cold stars.