Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Some Thoughts on a Tuesday

Yesterday Middlebrow and I were doing yard work. Or, Middlebrow was doing yard work and I was approximate to him in a way that might suggest I was also invested in this labor, whether I was or not. The point is, we were in the yard and we were doing some manual type labor, wearing gloves, using tools, getting into and near the dirt.
Not very long, minutes-wise, into this endeavor I might have said something like, "This is boring." Because it was. It's basically the same physical action or actions over and over. Then one might look down the long row of rose bushes that stretches from the sidewalk to the fence and using some kind of fancy algebraic formula, one might guess at the amount of time it will take to finish the project and then one might imagine the boredom stretched out over those minutes and days and one might become instantly exhausted.
"This is why we went to college," said Middlebrow. To avoid such labor, I'm guessing. And it's true. I hated weeding in the summer, when my mom made me, I hated mowing that one day when I actually did it for money.
But it's necessary, isn't it? The labor? The weeds grow, and they grow and grow unless we pull them and then put down this miracle fabric which prevents them from growing. And the roses bloom and then they die, and someone has to trim them otherwise, how will the new buds find the sun?
I contemplated these ideas, labor, adulting, as I did some light weeding in the cool morning breeze. It felt good, but it was still boring. Also, my back hurt.
And then I thought about social media, and how obsessed it is, right now, in this moment with one particular gorilla. And how everyone and their fucking dog is using it as an occasion to bludgeon everyone else about a pet obsession: The gorilla proves that we don't care about endangered species (this one might be true); the gorilla proves that parents are distracted/lazy/bad; the gorilla proves that unless we are vegans, we're not allowed to feel compassion for the gorilla; the gorilla proves that zoos are bad; the gorilla proves that zoos are good; the zoo was justified in killing the gorilla; the zoo was unjustified in killing the gorilla. All these ideas basically come down to one thing: people who don't agree with me are stupid.
This seems to be the general sentiment these days, in social media, in politics, in entertainment, in sports, in life.
I have been guilty of it, but the quiet boring contemplation of yard work and the busy, hectic meaningless posturing of social media has given me a lot to think about.
Also I am contemplating a daily "black out" for my whole family.
I look forward to your thoughts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My husband told me to write a sonnet

Sabbatical Sonnet

You must do the one thing that you think you
cannot do, Eleanor Roosevelt tells me. With all
the things due, it’s true, I do not think I can do
all the things I have yet to do. If you think
you can or think you can’t, you’re right. Says who?
Maybe Henry Ford, who wanted to do to
us before we did to him. Maybe it’s true
that thinking is key, that we do as we believe
or we believe as we do. There is only do,
there is no try, another sage says. Try as I do
I accomplish very little with much to do.
Sometimes I sit. I often admire the view.  
Piles shift in space rather than disappear.

I’m on sabbatical. Good thing I have a year.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


Over at Jim’s, across the street, they are still
asleep, but the trees dazzle, blossoms
blowing in the Sunday wind. The soft
down of grass has been culled into shape,
the dandelions removed, the pansies trained
into neat little rows. Even the maple seems
to be obeying some grand design.
In the mid-day sunlight, the greens glisten,
the yellows sparkle and pop, the oranges
blaze like dying suns, the reds bleed and bleed.
I observe Nature here, in the urban garden,
a blinded muse, a bound dancer, a slave.
I am no master.

(the first word of each line is taken from This Poem

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

to fast: v.

to go without, to postpone, to defer,
she fasted that she might be furthered
to hasten, to proceed quickly, to heighten,
she fasted that she might arrive
to increase, to displace, to prolong
she fasted that she might want
to hunger, to yearn, to need,
she fasted that she might desire
to bind, to fetter, to fix,
she fasted herself that she might persist
to worship, to mortify, to meditate
she fasted that she might be pure
to elevate, to seek, to pursue
she fasted that she might find
to arrive, to discover, to escape

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Self-Portrait as Lucian Freud's "Double Portrait" (1985-86)

Am I the woman, artificially still, arranged as if in sleep,
or death? Am I the dog, nestled beside her, its jaw tense,
dreaming, ready to snarl or bite? Am I the paint, deep
and patchy, ridged  brushstrokes blowing from edge
to edge? Or am I the canvas, flat, transparent, and square?
Am I the navy of her dress, her pale buttery skin, the grayish-
pink of the dog’s vulnerable belly? Am I the paint brush, the hair
Of rabbit, badger, or horse? Am I the shadow beneath the weight
of her arm, casually shielding her eyes, or is her pose a defense
against the artist’s gaze? I’m the suggestion of a wall, the blank
bedsheet, the too white bed, the dog’s mottled fur, the sense
the world is one indecipherable scene and art makes it think.
What, exactly, is it the subject of this painting? That which we see:
woman, dog, paint? Or the space between the painting and me?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


I like this one, so I'm reposting it here.

Sonnet for an Absent Spouse

I almost wrote “an empty house,” but it isn’t, still three of four
on site: Son, and dog and me. In your absence, I chauffeur Son
and walk the dog. I text “I miss you.” Is that the vodka (80 or more?
calories) talking? Or maybe it’s the delicious and necessary wine
(5 ounces Merlot = 120 calories) that makes my thumbs light.
When I miss you, I drink whiskey (110 calories), I let Son spend more
time watching “Firefly” on his computer to avoid the nightly fight.
I imagine expensive additions to our home: a deck, French doors
opening off our master bedroom and into the backyard, fertile
with rosemary, tomatoes, chard, sunflowers, and orange poppies.
When you are gone, I am uncharacteristically morose. I wile
the hours away reading actuary charts which forecast our untimely
demise. It’s not wise, the way I spend my time. Wait: that’s a lie.

I imagine the hours we’ll spend, sipping wine, until we die.

Friday, April 01, 2016

National! Poetry! Month!

Welcome to April, in which two poets test themselves against time, meter, rhyme, and the days that demand poems. That's right, it's National Poetry Month which means that HighTouch and I will be writing a poem a day, and you know what that means! Lower those expectations. Let's go!

April Fool

Perhaps there is a spaceship where astronauts
grow tomato plants in zero gravity.  Perhaps there is a zip code
where anyone can live, their mail circulating in some imagined zone
Perhaps instead of a tax refund, I am buying you an air conditioner
or a refrigerator or those teal shoes that you love.
 I am leaving them on your front porch, surreptitiously,
for you to find.

Perhaps I am pouring water on you to wake you from your sleep,
only it's a pitcher full of shredded newspaper,
confetti of the displaced, the forlorn,
the slightly out of date.

Perhaps I am beckoning you near with only a whisper,
trying to dump water, soapy and warm,
down the front of your blouse, rendering you rain-
soaked, stained and foolish.

Or maybe I am a lie, a single red tulip,
planted years ago in a patch of dirt beside the house
that bursts forth unexpectedly every year this day.