CIRCUS FAMILIAR

I’ve come to accept the spectacle

The morning face that stares back at me in the mirror

Large pores packed with night-sweats and frustration

There’s lots to do but nothing to say

That will ease the guilt of not doing

Most likely I’ll clean my keyboard

remove the fingerprints

angry smudges that dappled my screen with hope.

I’ll open the Times app before adjusting a pillow behind my aging back

I’ll sip some tea as I consider the tilt of the screen and font size

I’ll search for good news as if

I’ve not already thrust my chin up to the edge of humanity

To improve my view of its destruction.

CIRCUS FAMILIAR

  Gwen glad pty  I’ve come to accept the spectacle

The morning face that stares back at me in the mirror

Large pores packed with night-sweats and frustration

There’s lots to do but nothing to say

That will ease the guilt of not doing

Most likely I’ll clean my keyboard

       remove the fingerprints

       angry smudges that dappled my screen with hope

I’ll open the Times app before adjusting a pillow behind my aging back

I’ll sip some tea as I consider the tilt of the screen and font size

I’ll search for good news as if

I’ve not already thrust my chin up to the edge of humanity

To improve my view of its destruction

The Exultation is in the Knowing

rot+Birds+Murmurate

The hardest thing about writing

Used to be rejection but now

It is the crazy aftermath

Of question marks that appear

After I’ve left all my

Answers on the page

It becomes not a matter of quality

Or quantity but a matter of why;

Why does outside acceptance matter?

Part of me sees the old metaphysical ploy

I’ll get it once I don’t want it.

Can I walk into that room and

Switch off the light of desire?

Is writing simply a vehicle

In which to drive my persona

Stopping occasionally to mop

My sweat-filled brow and rest

My silly soul dedicated to

The business of ego?

Is that it?

MAY I HAVE THIS DANCE?

I write because I cannot dance.

Dance like nothing is impossible
Dance like nothing is impossible

Oh, I can shake a hip or two, moving my hands to suggest I know what I’m doing. But to dance, really dance would be to lift a long trim leg into the air and hold it there until you are out of breath. I want to swirl through the cracks in your heart blowing open the doors to the reality of movement. I want to leap weightless across your stage landing softly upon your consciousness and wriggle my shoulders free of life’s shawl.

 Because I cannot dance – I struggle to teach 26 letters the art of holding, swirling, leaping, landing and wriggling free of life’s nasty decorum.

ASSESSING THE DAMAGE: A Writer’s Almanac, NYT Headlines, and Triathlons

baldwin

 

In 1974, James Baldwin’s book,  If Beale Street Could Talk, was published. About a young couple who find themselves about to be parents when the young man is accused of rape and imprisoned. Baldwin was accused (by some) of sounding too bitter in the writing of “Beale Street…” I have to ask –

 How do the disparaged of the times

escape bitterness – escape even its sound –

when innocence dines at a table set

with rotting images –

marinated in vinegar ?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 On August 2nd in 1932 American Physicist Carl Anderson discovered the first physical evidence of anti-matter. My heart stutters at the idea at measuring matter – much less what doesn’t. I am transported into last week where I read a NYT piece about a lower west side condo approved for a system of double entry: The condo association provided one door for the owners of the million dollar condos above and another entry for the affordable housing of the merely middle class.

      There are those who matter

And those who spend lives in the

Measured existence of anti-matter

They matter not to king, god, and bomb

Certainly not to those entering the golden

Archways living cloud-high quarters

Immeasurable in size and matter

There are those falcons loosed from

the widening gyre of definition

bullets spattered across time and distance

where class and doorways don’t matter

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yesterday I spent the morning volunteering at a local triathlon event – my job was to count the swimmers exiting the lake

Making sure the number agreed with the number of swimmers who went into the lake

I meditated on the necessity of competition in a world awash in “my (fill in the blank) is bigger, better, smarter than your _________”.

I had to remember that I was in a town, home to an ivy-league institution, where competition is a personality cornerstone of those lucky enough to be invited to study at such an institution.

But what of the corralled mass of middle-aged male humanity standing next to me – exuding more testosterone than a Balco Lab? A heady experience for a second – until I remember the time in 10th grade when

I inadvertently entered the boy’s locker room after football practice. The smell of competitive animals doesn’t change –

No matter the age.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Take-a-way Wisdom:

Art is a way of confronting life. Getting to the big unruled YES in a country bordered and ruled by no

 

Confessions of a (Former) Facebook Goddess

disco queen 

   Most people would die rather than quit the social media form known as Facebook. Yes, I said that, and you’ll get no quantitative research turning living, breathing human beings into numbers from which to draw conclusions for my opening declaration. I speak from five years of experience. Though I did quit Facebook and, as you can see, lived to tell about it. Quitting FB cold turkey was not easy – is not easy. I have been forced to come face-to-face with some personal truths – those two glasses of nice wine truths that slip the dark bonds of one’s heart and make it to the light of the page – this page.

  I miss Facebook now, in a calm moment, because I understand the democratic beauty evident in offering everyone a platform from which to put forth ideas. I am sad too because it is the birthday of a dear friend and I can’t show her (and others) how clever I am by sending a picture of a cute birthday cake (purloined from some other site) and telling her to take a “BIG slice of HAPPY.” Personal truth # 1: Until I quit, I never acknowledged those self-aggrandizing Facebook moments (of which there were many). Why did I spend so much time on Facebook in the first place? Surely time could have been better used to complete (more than a few) writing endeavors, listening to lectures, reading novels and book reviews, and attending to my personal blog left unattended with no creative additions from me. Personal truth # 2: I was (am?) a Facebook addict. Many times I had been accused of being addicted to Facebook over my adamant objection to the contrary. I even invoked the addict’s creed, “I can quit anytime I want.” I couldn’t acknowledge any thoughts of addiction as I continued on what had become one of the major slippery slopes of time-wasting elements in my retired life. My thinking became corrupted with all the power afforded me by the Facebook platform (read soapbox). I found myself judging others who would spend entire days on Facebook complaining about their hyper-active, rambunctious kids, messy houses, absent spouses, rowdy students, and rude coworkers. “If they didn’t spend so much time on Facebook maybe their kids wouldn’t act out, their houses would be cleaner, and their spouse would return.” I had dissolved into an opinionated mass of objection and lecture on anything cultural and, especially, anything political. I have used my timeline as an emotional bully pulpit to further my political judgments and set any offending white person straight on their misguided use of cross-cultural expressions. I was an equal opportunity offender; everyone deserved the right to my opinion. It wasn’t long before I started my morning, coffee in hand, at my keyboard attempting to insert some creativity in what should have been, if anything, simple responses. And by the end of three hours I could be found sitting small and emotionally exhausted in my desk chair – having leaked all creative energy in responding to misspelled info-graphics (a pet-peeve that I felt compelled to share with everyone), ignorant politicians, and horrendous, heart-numbing videos that pulled back the curtain on some of the most heinous, inhumane examples of the human species. And there I was – ultimately reduced to railing against the darkness in us all. I knew I was approaching addiction when, in an effort reduce resistance, I culled my list of Facebook friends, jettisoning all those whose politics ran antithetical to my own. (So much for enjoying a diversity of opinion). In-spite-of this culling, I managed to offend – even those people with whom I was in total political affinity. I was hell-bent on getting my opinion across by any means necessary, letting readers know my 60’s & 70’s big-city California job, Compton High School street-cred as I angrily pounded the face of any disagreement with my varied life experience. I was right. Always and forever. It wasn’t long before this anger infested every part of my social discourse on and off Facebook. I was rabid – snapping and  biting at any thought of injustice in my self-righteous attempts to single-handedly stamp out ignorance and wickedness. I’m sure I had no pulse until I responded to some bit of backwards wisdom in need of social correction. Many times I lamented that stupid people should not be allowed on Facebook. As a Facebook Goddess (and addict) I could say that. Personal truth # 3: I spent so much time on Facebook because it was a way of feeding my ego. Facebook presents a quick fix for the narcissist in us all. But for me, it afforded undiscriminating recognition of the underappreciated writer within. On Facebook, I’d get my acceptance in small sweet doses administered when unseen hands simply clicked the word “like.” Oh, the power in that word and the time wasted in believing it a code for ‘worthy.’ Personal truth # 4: The fault was not in Facebook but in myself. I failed to see that I am on the same road as every other author aspiring to a book offer. I took a Facebook quick fix that doesn’t quite feed a soul in need of honest feedback. There are no shortcuts to writing and editing. We all deal with the demon of procrastination – a demon strongest when we sit down in front of the blank screen; a demon easily sated with the neat white print embedded in the inviting blue background of my Facebook Log in. Now, all I have to do is sit at my desk and perfectly order those 26 letters at every writer’s disposal – a task not nearly as easy as becoming a Facebook Goddess.

   Currently we are experiencing a social upheaval regarding privacy and how much information purveyors of social media should be privy to. A month ago, I too, entered the argument castigating Facebook and other social media for using information about us in secret ways. But yesterday, as I listened to the radio and arguments pro and con on the use of information that is freely offered up by most users of Facebook, I was reminded of an old Polish saying (yes, from Facebook). I turned the radio off knowing this Facebook argument is “[no longer] my circus – [no longer] my monkeys.

PALM TREE REDEMPTION

cropped-palm-tree.jpg

I know you – see you

Hiding in clever phrases

And a title that commands
The idle browser
To stop and read

I recognize you
Your genius for disdain
Of anything I need
To complete
Deceit cum conceit

Calmly parked in the heat
Creativity
Smiling white teeth
Biting into
My day

Keeping me
Palmed and esteemed
Under the palm tree
Of the redeemed

Questioning Success: The Art of Rejection

tibet_golden_mount_everest
http://www.chinatourguide.com

 I awoke this a.m. surveying a heart that was (three months ago) filled with the hope of acceptance. The demon voice of accusation taunts me: narcissistic fame seeker. It is the same hissing voice that tells me I can not and will not rise above my not-quite-poverty stricken beginnings. It was this voice I kept at bay months ago with the simple click of the “send” key.

Now, I am beyond asking what the judges saw – grounded down as I am with a self-acceptance of not (somehow) measuring up – yet again. And all the verbal bromides I lavish upon others who’ve suffered this fate are curled and weak in the face my own despondency. I went out to ride my bike and fell before getting out of the driveway. I returned to bed. No, I am not depressed. I know full well the feeling there; the drain-circling miasma that creeps in quietly on small, cat-feet and sets up housekeeping in a brain ignorant of the heart.

I write because I need to – it is and has always been the way I navigate my world – what I see out my window is fodder – all material. Recognition is secondary. I tell myself that I am only in competition with myself – only as good or better than the last essay, poem, or novel written. I strive for better and once I believe I’m there… then what? Does a runner take to her track to be recognized for last place? Does a politician run for office intent on losing? Does one practice the homework in quadratic equations to settle for terms higher than the power of two?

I read new writing in my beloved New York Times and appreciate the stories served up on platters of Modern Love, The Sunday Magazine- Lives, the Book Review, and any number of columns dedicated to the Boomer File. After reading, I always look at the brief author bio and I wonder  how the number of  published writers who’ve attended the best universities or the best M.F.A. programs, compares to the number  those writers who haven’t? Is it always only about the writing? I hope so.

But I know too there are days when the best query letter, the best first chapters, the best submission – all sent to a prospective agent – will not do – for anyone. So what. These words may not satisfy but the need to write remains the same. Is this the juncture in my life where I need to redefine success?

And I am not without my own successes – I’ve made it to a writers’ base-camp or (for me) Everest – having been published in the very Sunday Magazine that I would drive 25 rural New York miles every Sunday to purchase. I have won accolades in local publications over the years. I’ve had an editor of a major literary magazine tell me he was “sorry” he could “not be the editor to get [me] into print.” But that was then.

Now, as I lose any youthful outlook to a dull recognition of life’s sameness, I know I should listen my inner Buddhist – the one that tells me that if I want to end my discontent I have to give up my desire.

Without desire, do I need to write? This question greets me every morning. And every evening I am no closer to an answer. Part of me believes the question moot and wants to respond like the mountain climber who was asked why she continues in her attempts to climb Mt. Everest  – There are so many small reasons to turn around and only a couple of personal reasons to continue. And so I write on with hope and desire of reaching the summit.

Writing in Key West

Slide1

Creativity comes when

There is no one you know

At the Parrot Bar

It springs from a

Third ring of loneliness

When the last call

For diversion comes

At 2 a.m.

Leaving you to

Stagger among

Hemingway

Wannabes

To your musty

Garret room

From which you

Hope to issue

The next

Fresh

Masterpiece

July 2nd

It is 7:16 a.m. and the sun is

long view from the porch – into the morning sun

Spilling its diamonds on the soft

Undulations of the lake

Birds chatter

In a tongue

I fail to understand

But enjoy

The grass, taller as

Mower sits idle

Cooler than the neighbor’s

Called into duty at the first

Jagged sign of inequality

Wasteful & Un-greening

The she-cat crouches

In the small clovered shade

A game with the squirrel

And his tree

Today the hunted

Unluckily caught

Yet

Lucky enough

His foe responds

To voice commands –

This time

He scampers up the tree

Screaming his coarse poem:

Profanities in his own tongue