Thursday, March 30, 2017


March 30, 2017

Wednesday nights end with rehearsal drinks at the Wayside, and usually I have Thursday free ahead of me, a generous and happy stretch of time. A little too staggery from iron deficiency to make best use of it, but it has gone well enough. Brief time at the studio. It was raining; most of my colleagues were in their cubicles working or having tea, and it was dark and soft and lovely. Picked my tax return up from CK. The return is not whopping, but good enough. The cost of preparing the return was, however, whopping. Maud is lying on my feet, fluttering around like a furry bird.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


March 29, 2017

R and DJ and I see the last and darkest of the Wolverine films. One might respect the performances without actually having had a good time.

Good painting for a while, then bad painting, when one sets down the brush and takes a break. Chat with my studiomates, one of whom is actually living in her studio, which she needs to do in order to pay back her graduate school loans. She should be doing better than she’s doing. She makes her own dyes out of crushed berries and the like, then makes exquisite, detailed drawings out of that.

Tried to work the garden, and got a little transplanting accomplished, but my body literally failed me. It stopped. I couldn’t move, but only enough to climb the stairs and lie down. My iron content is at a crisis, and I don’t know how to take any more pills.

The good news is that Minos the Mystery Turtle is back in residence in my pond. My order of tadpoles and snails arrived from Indiana. My waterlogged family grows. I hope somebody’s in there eager to begin eating the ropes of green algae.

Purple and gold in the grass.

Finished The Book of the Roses. It’s either a novella or a 33 page short story.

Plans afoot to go to Ireland with L and J. Unexpectedly excited at the prospect.

March 28, 2017

Students in panic mode; many professors in panic mode in response. Playful morning dreams continue. They are a gift to make up for some horror I have, at the moment, blissfully forgotten.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


March 26, 2017

Saturday was a day of accomplishment. Before light I wrote on my Hiram story. I assembled the second raised bed (easy for two, frustrating for one) filled it, bought soil and plants at Reems Creek, planted dicentria, bluebells, wake-robin, wood poppy, mayapple, jack-in-the-pulpit, six lilies that had ben languishing in the bulb in the cab of my truck. On their own violets ennoble the yard. Rested a little, had prosecco at Sovereign Remedies, took S to see Souvenir, a play about Florence Foster Jenkins at NC Stage, exemplary for complete harmony of performance, production, direction and acting, an evening of genuine pleasure. Wandered the streets afterwards, finally having Italian sodas at Old Europe, beside a heap of homeless bedding down in an alcove, one of whom offered me an exotic drug S had to explain to me. I remarked that S has seen, in Amsterdam, 2/3 of the drug use of my entire life. Must have used up my energies, for today has been the saga of creeping from one nap opportunity to the next, having slept in the first place to the unheard-of hour of 9. Voice held through both mass and rehearsal. Cantaria is an array of pop tunes through the foreseeable future, and I am sad as I can be. Life is too short to sing fluff. My life, anyway. Our interim is precise in ways Stephen was not. All in all, that’s likely good for us, however irritating in the moment.

Anniversary of mother’s death, forty three years ago. A whole solid life ago. I remember on the first anniversary I was in Syracuse. I skipped my evening poetry workshop, came home– home being the horrible cubicle on Adams Street– through a blizzard, lay on my mattress in the horrible room senseless with grief while slush and hail tapped on my window. The weather is better now. My bed is better.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


March 24, 2017

Student admits she hasn’t been coming to class, asks if that is so very important. “You were vague about attendance requirements,” she says. I email her the paragraph from the syllabus which says that class is ALL important, that four absences lowers your grade one notch, etc. Wonder what she could possibly mean by “vague.”

Anyway, she shows up, and shows the best poem of her career.

Went to a meeting about establishing new minors and new programs. Two things amazed me. One is how politically ignorant I am (the politics of the institution of which I’ve been a part for 34 years). The other is how the people with the least to say INEVITABLY talk the longest.

Watched horror movies on TV.

Heart-dark yesterday, but again had joyful, even hilarious dreams. Some spiritual balancing act is being staged within.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


March 23, 2017

Abundant time in the studio. SB bought two paintings, the nuthatch on textured paper on plywood, and the cedar waxwing on t-shirt glued to a slat of disarticulated dresser. Happy about that.

Hiked to the Ultra Café from the studio, sat at a table with a woman of about my age who was from Cleveland. We spent most of the time lamenting Trump.

Several of my students are entering panic mode. I must admit that some of my colleagues have pushed them there, and an ordeal of finesse appears before me: aiding my students without insulting my colleagues.

Worked in the garden. Fought off bouts of sharp-edged sadness. There is dull-edged sadness and sharp-edged sadness, and this is the sharp-edged.

But my voice held through rehearsal last night. I was happy. I gave praise.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


March 22, 2017

We gave Will our blessing last night to become a priest. Excellent supper afterwards at the Corner Kitchen. A wine I’d had many times before was suddenly better than it had ever been. I sat at a place where a plaque said President Obama had sat before.

A purple haze covers my yard: it is the constellation of grape hyacinths, and the blue hyacinths which bloom–for some reason–much later than the yellow and red. The durable daffodils endure.

A curse lifted sometime last night, a shade of darkness that I cannot define and cannot find the source for. I would blame Venice, but I think I took it with me there. Went to sleep to distant lightning.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


March 20, 2017

Spring. I do “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” as I always do, as though it were the world afire. The students stare as though they were painted on wood. I do “The Windhover” and someone writes something down in her notebook. I myself feel a kind of dryness since my return; perhaps that’s what all feel.

Monday, March 20, 2017


March 19, 2017

The time change that everybody hates gives me an extra hour of morning darkness, in which I do my best work. Just now blue-gray winter light comes to my study window.

S has resigned from Cantaria. Less chaos than one expected, our Board having, this time for the first time, provided.

I am not quite home. Something of me is left amid the canalli, or perhaps streams dark and uncertain in the air between here and there. Maybe the sight of my students will bring me home.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


March 18, 2017

Sound of heavy rain on the roof. Had a bad night, war in the darkness, but when I was finally asleep, I woke at least once laughing from dreams which, though I do not remember them, I remember as hilarious.  Saint P’s dinner with DJ at Avenue M.  Terri says that I am a person with whom she could travel. Early to the studio, where I did good work, but that was the end of the good work for the day.

March 17, 2017

Blessed Saint Patrick. Slept mightily, rose not too awful early, and I think I am back on track for North America. Of all our terrible weather when I was gone, one little patch of snow lingered in the corner of the fence, under the shading pine. The flight back was uneventful, even salubrious, though nothing that long can be without negative effect. Of course, walking away from Customs one murmurs “asshole. . . asshole. . .” just to get the intensity of assholery out of one’s system. Had a moment of danger when a security person, with a thick accent and the name tag “Ali” on his shirt, extended my re-entry question-and-answer session a little to long. I was about to answer curtly when he cut it off, peering at my passport photo and at me, as though coming to final determination that we were one and the same.

Fell flat on my face at the Post Office. That’s three falls in four days, after not having fallen since years ago in London. I’m not paying attention to where my feet are.

Unusually disinclined to postmortem this trip. Inclined to move forward.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


March 15, 2017

Italian cartoons with talking slices of pizza and nose-picking dinosaurs. Made a last visit to the American bar, where I was comfortable. A British couple was playing cards. They looked sweet and content, 25 years together and still their best company. I blessed them in my heart. Knowing my last night in Venice, I walked and walked, saying to myself, “I’ll just peer down one more alley before I turn home. Just one more bridge over one more darkling canal.”

5:30– ensconced in the Titian Best Western, in a room that in most ways is superior to my room in Venice, except it is not in Venice. Walked down the street and bought horrible wafers from a grocery store, Real Italy, I suppose. The people were very sweet. Tired to the point of parody. . . .

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


March 14, 2017

O Mosquitos of Venice! Do you not see the smears of your sisters my thumb left on the wall? Why do you persist in coming through the window?

From my room I can hear somebody practicing clarinet in a neighboring house.

First clouds of my stay, a gray roof bringing cool. Maybe rain?

One comes to the point where the sight of Japanese tourists sucking up the sights is sickening– as the Americans and British must have been in their day. But there is a difference. The Brits and Yanks with their Baedekers were interested in the place, who painted that fresco, what anecdote is attached to that piazza, etc. It was intended to be educational, and to varying degrees it was. The Japanese are indifferent to place (which they typically do not actually see) but are interested instead in themselves in a series of famous places. They are here to take the photograph, preferably a “cute” one and move on. There is nothing but the photograph. The place has no value but as the setting for the photograph. I think of the Japanese girls wearing kitten masks and cavorting for one another’s camera phones in Hagia Sophia. I watch them enter San Marco, and without really looking at anything, line up the shot, take the shot, scurry on to have a shot of themselves under St Teodoro and his crocodile. The gondolas are completely full of Japanese, who are not looking at what’s around them, but taking selfies of themselves and their friends. Is this fun? It doesn’t look that way. It looks like duty. It’s a kind of frenzy I can’t understand unless I make reference to J. K. Rowling, and assume all those photos are a type of horcrux, little fetishes to contain a portion of human energy, to prove that the self was, and to allow it to continue once the flesh and blood are gone. Memory is not enough.

Each day my route has gotten a little longer and I’ve returned to the hotel a little less tired. Except that this matter of hemoglobin is becoming dire again. At times I’m racked with agonizing muscle spasms. I cannot climb the Rialto or the Accademia bridges without stopping at the top and fighting for consciousness. Venice is full of steep little hills, the bridges that carry one over four hundred canals. Early in the day I was falling on the steps because I did not have the energy to lift my feet high enough. Lunch and concentration help as the day goes on, but the day reduces my water level and despite the sincerity of my hydration, the cramps return. Slam down liquid until I begin to vomit it up in a fit of coughing. If it’s not one thing it’s another.

Crossed the Accademia and found a bookstore that made me long to read fluent Italian. There were translations of English texts one seldom sees in English. Sat long in the Campo de S Polo, which is immense as Venetian squares go. Three big trees, each a different kind. Drank and ate. Musicians played for us, and children harried the pigeons, which gladly complied. It looks like cruelty, but if i columbi weren’t enjoying it, I suppose they’d merely fly away. Arrived at the Scuolo Grande di San Rocco, completely decorated ceilings and walls by Tintoretto, with a few Giorgiones and Titians in the corners to add nuance. Never have seen the like of it. Gorgeousness raised to the level of priceless camp and then beyond that to the sublime. One wanted to linger, though lingering was like having too much cake. It was difficult for a person of my austere background to take it in. There must have been nothing like Venice in its day. Found myself (from the other side) in part of the town I visited yesterday, having cappuccino again at the café where I wrote the poem for my father. The woman recognized me and brought me exactly what I had the first time. We long so for tradition.  Came to San Marco by yet another route. A homely bride was having her veil adjusted. The Japanese were marching across the pavement behind selfie sticks.  Handsome soldiers stood on the steps, heavily armed. I was to shy to take a photograph.

Monday, March 13, 2017


March 13, 2017

Restless night, punctuated with dreams. In the last, we were shopping at a great mall that sat at the bottom of steep hills. While we were shopping, a blizzard came up, and the roads were snow covered, slick, all but impassable. I was driving the first car I ever owned, the moon-colored Toyota station wagon, and even with vehicles sliding and stalling all around me, I knew I could make it out. But in pity I stopped the car to assist others. One long-haired man was sitting on an old fashioned wooden kitchen chair, almost invisible in the snow, which he said he had been riding. Another was guiding a snow plow which had stalled and would not move. I seemed in the dream to know everybody, though who they were I don’t remember. I gave my car to somebody who was stranded and tried to ride the kitchen chair up the hill and out. The snow was blinding all around, and I realized it was either an illusion or the chair was actually moving. I assumed I’d never see my own car again, but some time after I reached the top of the hill, a big man appeared with all the stranded vehicles, including mine, being lead on long ropes, as if they were dogs. He said, “You should have known everything would turn out right.”

Though my suitcase is small, my carry-on tiny, and neither of them filled to capacity, I have never failed to over-pack. At least half my clothes are going to go unworn.

Father’s birthday. Somehow I’ve always been able to imagine him in Venice, even before I came here. I wonder if he would have recognized the connection.

Crossed the Rialto bridge–in the company of a billion selfie-taking Japanese–and bought radishes in the open markets on the other side. The radishes were bland but beautiful to look at. Walked & walked. Sat at a café with orange tablecloths and wrote a little, and the proprietress seemed fascinated (and a little disbelieving) that I was a writer. I was in a part of town where there were no tourists but me. Whether I was actually I can’t tell, but I wanted to be. All the shopkeepers’ English was halting and there were no Japanese. Bought a tiny tapestry bearing the Lion of Saint Mark. Took a late afternoon boat tour of the Grand Canal. Informative, despite the little Arab girl who kept screaming over the guide. She’d probably never not been the center of attention for that long. Difficult time getting into the boat and actually fell flat getting out. Perhaps that’s the end of that. The boat guide explained that Venice’s population continues to ebb because there’s nothing for the young to do and it is impossible for the old to get about. She pointed out a prison built for aristocrats who paid no takes. We three Americans in the boat looked at one another and said in unison, “Donald.”

It’s 6:50 and a bell rings frantically. Fire? Mayhem? Saracens?

Changing plans, because the water bus cannot get me to the airport in time for my flight, and the private water taxi turns out to cost exactly the same as a night in the Best Western on dry land. Will leave the city Wednesday afternoon and spend the night in the hotel near the airport. I hereby prophesy that my flight will be delayed and this precaution will be nullified, but at least I’ll have had two good nights’ sleep.

This is the time in my trips where I begin to feel like a native, striking up conversations with bartenders, recognizing faces I’ve seen before, scorning tourists. This is also the time when I reflect that no one misses me in particular back home, and no one will rejoice in particular at my return. This is a curious thing. I don’t remember choosing any such road, but there it is, lying as far back and as far forward as the eye can see. Deeply lonely and deeply free. I just wish I remembered choosing.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


March 12, 2017


Even I am linguist enough to hear that Venetian is not Italian.

On the blazing street where I had lunch yesterday, a Chinese man and an African man were conversing in vehement Italian–politics, I think. I thought, “this is the world I want to live in. This is blessed.”

News seems to be that Asheville is having a blizzard. Outside my window, the blue over the red roofs is brilliant, vernal, enticing. I did notice yesterday that the Venetians were out in their scarves and down jackets while we tourist sported about in T-shirts. All in what you’re used to.

Ah, the 9 AM bells. Time to get started.

Today was Art Day. Started at L’Accademia, most startling, most wonderful. A score of paintings that I have known all my life suddenly appear before me. Yes, when I think that Bellini is my favorite painter, I am often right. Everything, beautiful, immense, daring, larger than any life, than all life, beautiful, beautiful. The Giorgione even stranger than one thought. The handsome saints could have walked in off the Venetian streets. I am weeping with greed for more art and more art, greed that is satisfied with each turn of the corridor. Joyful. I jog to the Peggy Guggenheim. At one point there is an old bulldog soaking up the sun. He follows me into a shop and accepts my caresses. I perceive he is the shop owner’s dog, and has nothing to do but shuttle between the sunlight and affection from his mom’s customers. Blessed, blessed, I think. Peggy Guggenheim’s ranch palazzo is full of art and full of tourists. The Ernsts and the Miros can stand with the masterpieces I just left at the Accademia. Much can’t. The muddy, sloppy Pollocks are almost sickening. Drink Earl Grey in Peggy’s garden. She has tiny daffodils. Hike to Santa Maria del Salute and then hang out at the Dogana, because Pound mentions it; I forget why. Stop and lunch at the Lineadombra, which I specify because of sharp practice. In America a “special” has a special price. Here they elaborately specified “special” added twenty euro at every patti, and I had my first ever, and probably last ever, 100 euro lunch. The service was elaborate to the pont of parody, the ambience was exquisite, the food average, which in that setting and at that price equals disappointing.. Swallowed hard and went on with my day. Found an art show called Bestiary in a warehouse under the Dogana. It was skulls nailed to boards. Was asked direction several times; since it was to places I had just left, I was able to help. Walked at sunset toward San Marco. The golden moon was rising at the end of the Grand Canal. I did not bring my camera, and the glory of the rising moon was enhanced by its ephemerality. Had drinks at an “American bar” named for some countess. Made friends. Was happy. Gave my chair to a staggering drunk old American lady. Drank too much, found my way through the labyrinth, made it home.

Saturday, March 11, 2017


March 11, 2017

Returned from a walk to take in the full moon over Venice. It is not a crowded city. Except for droves of American youth, the streets are nearly deserted on a Saturday night. The moon rides high and small and oddly irrelevant to the complicated scene below. Needed to stretch my legs after the epic, unconscious nap that came after the epic exploration and memorable day drunk of the hours before. Worked my way eastward to San Marco and the great Piazza and the seat of empire that was. There was a show of Bosch in the Doge’s palace. After being sold the wrong ticket and taking the Golden Stair twice, I saw the amazing paintings. Bosch and I are kindred across the years. I don’t know exactly what to do with that observation, except for maybe go home and paint. The church itself aims for an effect other than spacious grandeur. It is close, secretive, Byzantine, threadbare, gleaming dully gold and marble, as though it had some greater presence which it was withholding. A woman was preaching into a microphone. The irritation of her querulous old voice is difficult to describe. Nothing grates like sanctimoniousness. So much more for sanctimoniousness in a foreign language. Maybe that tainted my perspective. Sat in the light of the piazza and wrote a poem about the light of the piazza. Made my way east along the wide esplanade against the lagoon, stopping every few blocks for vino bianco della casa, until I was just this side of staggering drunk. I haven’t had a day drunk since a few New York trips ago, and I enjoyed it. Again the sky was celestial blue, without a single wisp of cloud. I stopped when the city became a park, and made my way back, staggering, café sitting, drinking as before. My arthritic knees had been tormenting me– there are stairs to be climbed over every canal– but in the midst of my inebriation I noted that they had stopped hurting, that they felt fine. They still do. Maybe I have found a cure. We will need such remedies when Ryan destroys our health care.

The cormorants clearly believe there is life in the lagoon.

In my night walk I followed a sound which I thought was a child crying. It was a laughing gull, flying from one post to another, crying piteously, expressively, almost human. When I climbed the bridge I saw that there were two gulls, one impassioned, one looking on.. My friend was lovesick, courting, making his case.

Bought a Murano millifiori paperweight.

The Venetians do not blame me for Trump the way the Irish would. Sigh of relief.

TV: The Big Bang Theory sounds stupid in Italian.

Friday, March 10, 2017


March 10, 2017

The Alps were vast and fearful and very white, and the sea, or some great river, comes right up against them. On the first visible patch of the lagoon I saw a cormorant: a good sign. Bells ring in the early twilight of European winter. Room 21 of the Hotel dei Dragomanni, which I chose for the beauty of its name. I was not sufficiently warned that the streets of Venice are not navigable as the streets of other cities are, and when the water taxi left me off at Santa Maria del Giglio I had no idea where my digs were, or how to get there. There are numbers on the buildings, but the crazed complex of dead ends and wandering alleys and sudden canali render them problematic. I asked a woman on a set of stairs where I was going, and she told me. At a certain square I hesitated, and a statuesque gray haired woman pointed me the way. Either she had been listening on the stairs or she was a guardian angel of the labyrinth. The hotel is adequate. The room has a view of a sea of roof tiles like those of All Souls, and the not very distant campanile of San Marco. Though I was wasted from the flight, I wandered around, determined to get the lay of the land and water. Lunched in the Campo St. Stefano under a sky of perfect and unblemished azzura, almost mystical. Venice is surprisingly– what is the word I want?– worn: an imperial dowager who has stopped keeping herself up. I feel an immediate affinity, though, with her complexity, her essential secretiveness, her fluid and opalescent core. I stood on the bridge of the Rialto and watched the Grand Canal shimmer under a moon that is almost full, and I felt at home. Almost too hot for the clothes I brought in the afternoon, it was almost too cold for them in the evening. I sat at an outdoor table near La Academia drinking prosecco, and the waiter kept checking to see if I was too cold. I was, but to come in I would lose sight of the street. Venice is badly lit, compared to London or New York, and walking down her alleys by night you hope that words like “slasher” or “creature” do not come to mind. Concert of Tartini, Vivaldi, Mozart at St Vidal. I sat close enough to note the expressive faces of the musicians. The excitable cellist stopped the concert to tell some lady– who had already been warned once by the usher–to stop filming with her goddam phone. The men are handsome and delicate looking, and more uniformly dark than I remember from Florence or Rome. Watching Italia’s Got Talent before bed. Judging by this, no it doesn’t.
March 9, 2017

Perched amid the unwonted luxury of the Delta Sky Club at the Atlanta Airport, having slammed down two free bloody Mary’s. Never coach, ever again. . . .  Encountered the Kirbys at the airport. The melancholy of the last few days led to an ideal departure, which is to say, one without expectations. Slept through the first flight. Plan to try to do the same to Amsterdam. Seven and a half hour layover– a whole work day. Try not to think of it–

Four years ago I first set foot in Istanbul.

What do I want? I want to be a night-haired Connemara lad playing for Ireland in the World Cup. Can someone get that for me?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


March 7, 2017

Met K, who was thorough and gentle. He found a place on my back which is a “pool of inflammation.”  He didn’t know what to do about it; neither do I, but it gives me an image to work with.  Late lunch with A, who seems to be reconciled to his new life away from the Bright Lights. I am not reconciled to it on his behalf. We wondered if I should write something for him and T.

Alaska doesn’t want me and the Great Plains doesn’t want me. Plans for the summer are suddenly open.

Pretty much packed for Italy. Enthusiasm drained by bad days, but not replaced by dread, so that is well.

Chat with S in the dark of the morning.

Oh, once again into the darkness. I never walk there; I am always pushed. Let this be memorialized upon some ledger.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


March 6, 2017

Uncomfortable, leaderless Cantaria last night. Unmusical members did their best to keep us from just idly sitting there. It made me feel cold. Voice rebelled against me in any case. Hilarious classes. Played a video of two Yorkshire boys eating a Scotch bonnet. Too weak from laughing and life to do my best.

Monday, March 6, 2017


March 5, 2017

The odd truth is that I have found my ideal man, perfect in looks and demeanor, Irish, beautiful and strange, and there is not a spark between us. He plays for the other team, but in the paradise of dreams that made no difference. I can picture some mean angel standing at the Gates hearing my last complaint, saying, “We provided. It’s not our fault nothing came of it.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


March 4, 2017

The night freeze took the blossoms of the magnolia. What were pink chalices are now tatters of pale brown parchment. Peach and nectarine seem to have sailed through.

Amazingly accomplished day: Sat in the High Five and wrote a sad poem for Lent. Then off to the studio, where I had maybe the best day of recent memory, finishing, beginning, continuing, achieving my first serious entry into the world of watercolors. Came home and launched into the garden, assembling and  filling one of the raised beds which are meant to conquer the gravelly ground eastward. Through all this I was less tired and sore than on days of far less activity, suggesting a way around the perception of the long decline. All in all, an encouraging portent for retirement, if I can find that much to do that doesn’t involve the purgatory of submission.

Evening a little sadder, but there was sherry.

Friday, March 3, 2017


March 3, 2017

Vivid dreams. In the first, some time early in the night, I was a TA at some big university, worried that I would never find a job in Academia. I woke and realized that I was almost ready to retire from a job I did get. At first I couldn’t believe it; then the relief was palpable.

The second was also academic. I worked at a university department whose offices had huge, generous windows. In the midst of our cubicles was a sort of courtyard, walled by glass, about twelve feet by twelve feet. You could see to the other side, and the courtyard seemed empty, paved with white gravel. But someone had discovered that whatever went into that cubicle disappeared, no one knew to where. Thereby commenced a series of crimes whereby one or another of the department maneuvered people they hated in the courtyard– which looked pleasant enough from the outside-- to be rid of them forever. A little dog was the first and accidental victim. A secretary also blundered into it by mistake. I’d been reading a history of New York, so as she disappeared I heard somebody cry out, “O! Cornbury!” I was vouchsafed a vision of some who had disappeared, and they were huddled on the shore of a cold sea, mist and dimness and rolling fog all around them. They did have, however, vivid sweaters.

Pachelbel from Pandora. Spent yesterday sending out manuscripts, which accounts for my having considered it in my heart a waste. Gathered myself to go to the Magnetic Theater, where I had the pleasant surprise of a really solid work called Terry Tempest: the Last Interview. C dominated the stage to exactly the right degree. Current actors need to be reminded about matters of projection, though, a situation which was not aided by a woman in the front row who thought she was showing support by braying at the top of her lungs at anything that might resemble a joke. Except that from the rear I couldn’t tell exactly who she was, I wanted to go down and say, “The play can make it on its own. Please shut up.” But, all in all, I expected less than I got.  The moon over the river district was a thick white Cheshire cat smile.

Met A at the play. He had phoned me yesterday, but ran afoul of my neglectful phone habits. His news was astonishing and, to me, devastating– surely to him as well, but his features were composed as he spoke. He’s left New York, unable to live there between the sadly infrequent gigs. It is well for him to be here, very well indeed for local theater, but I felt sad for the New York theater, which takes so little care for its own future. I think I embarrassed him with my tsunami of fatherly protectiveness, which he, in the bosom of his family, probably doesn’t need.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


March 2, 2017

Up oddly early, even for me. I was drunk when I went to bed, so it may have been quite early. I was drunk from going out after an Ash Wednesday service, which is not a good sign for the solemnity of Lent. Rejoiced because I got through the service before my voice failed. Was loud, but the room was loud, so all was well.  For Saint David’s Day I posted a request (jocular, I thought) for people to honor me. Most took it lightly, but from S comes the sentence– “someone I have respected since the third grade.” I sat back and thought,”really?” S was the big kid, handsome and athletic, and part of my scorn for him was desire for him, if I had but understood those things back then. I always thought we were enemies, though there was nothing in particular on his part–that I remember now– to indicate this: it was all in my little brain.  One time when I was taking a short cut through the Metropolitan Park to get home, he ran all the way from Betty Jane to stop me and command me to go back and take the authorized path. Even judging that he was going to kick the shit out of me there in the great meadow where there were no witnesses, I said “No.” He looked away, as though something interested him on the far side of the field, and then simply turned and ran off. “Huh,” I say, even at this hour. We spoke maybe twice until the Ellet reunions, where we chatted as if we had actually known each other. We had, of course, observing at distance, across the room, from separate lives since, as he noted, the third grade. I contemplate the power he has over me even now with a simple phrase. Maybe if we had known how to talk to each other–

A student begged and received permission to read Ginsberg’s “Please, Master,” aloud. May be the first time I’ve actually been embarrassed in class.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


March 1, 2017

Lent. St. David’s Day. Long before light at the Racquet Club, where I stayed long enough after my circuit to joke with god-like Brent. Resolved to take as my Lenten discipline to curb my anger, especially my most secret anger. But I said to the Lord as I was driving home from the gym, “Only one of us is working on this relationship.”

Shrove Tuesday pancakes at All Souls last night. I had not had a pancake in thirty years. Made me think of my dad. Made me think of camping. Happy crowd in the parish hall.

Trump gives a big speech to which I could not listen, but about which I know from morning news commentary that he is being given credit for not whipping his dick out half way through, for not actually saying “nigger” or “wetback.” Set the mark low enough and people will praise you for not causing a disaster.

Tizzy over the wrong envelope at the Oscars. Really? That’s what we’ve got to worry about? Ten thousand people texting as they drive this morning put the world in greater peril.