Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bullet Journal: February

If you add order to your days,
graph paper, gel pens, post-it notes —
and record it all, a crochet
of charts, progress, your mind devoted
to that forward arrow — if your throat
chokes on time’s constancy, just play
with colored pencils, add a favorite quote.
Craft the human ordeal.

Essential accessories: stencils
for thought bubbles, the personal
accusations, dark snark, the chill
winds of what you didn’t do. Decals
add emphasis to weekly logs, all
actionable to-dos that you will,
you swear, get to. Washi tape goals.
Craft the human ordeal.

Rapid logging is the solution
to sustained contemplation. Mark
events with an O, notes with a dash —
Simplify, compartmentalize the shark’s
jaw of surgery, muzzy bazaar
of painkillers, snow blowgunned
against a window full of paper hearts.
Craft the human ordeal.

Download a matching shade of nail polish
for your Instagram of today’s page,
Inspire everyone with your mantra:
Craft the human ordeal.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What We See and Don't See

 
My father once saw a soap bubble float across the road as he drove home from work. He described it as perfect and alone in its incongruous drift through traffic. He didn't want to hit it. "I'm sure it was a fairy," he said.

My father believed in magic. He read everything there was to read about the Arthurian legend. He was logical and orderly, and his handwriting was that of a draftsman -- squared off capital letters that let the reader know exactly what his message was. He was gifted in spatial thinking. He could build a bathroom where there wasn't one and make it look like it was part of the original structure of the house.

I never considered my father very emotional. The story we tell ourselves about fathers is that they are strong, the roots of the tree untouched the wind. I saw him cry a few times. Laugh many. He held his hand over his heart when he laughed hard. He was intelligent, so it was my secret mission always to make him laugh. If I could make someone as smart as he was laugh it was a true accomplishment. To bring him to the laughcry was a rich reward. I love to make my mother laugh too, for the same reasons.

I was, and still am, horrible at building birdhouses. I did, and still do things in a strange and illogical order. I once, just for fun, tried to glue ice together. Being able to make my father laugh connected us when I felt we weren't connected at all.

I have his eyes. I always say I don't think he knew how he ended up with a poet for a daughter, but I think he knew exactly how he ended up with a poet as a daughter. He was one himself, but he was a poet with light instead of words.

As I was writing this, my daughter brought up a piece of his stained glass that was hanging in the window downstairs.

It blew off in that big gust of wind.

Really? Wow. I'm writing about grandfather right now.

Ah, he's here.

So I hung up the piece in my studio window, where it catches light in the leaves and curlicues he painted by hand. There are twenty golden circles at the center, like bubbles, to remind me that where I come from, where we all come from, is magical. That anything is possible.


* Artwork created by a high school student at Canterbury High School in Canada, where Dan and I spent time as resident artists a few years ago. And by a few, I mean something like five.




Friday, January 06, 2017

Cognitive Assessment

Remember these words in this order:
red velvet daisy church face. Got it?

Here, let’s say them first together.
Remember these words in this order.
A color? Good. A fabric? Great! Flower?
You can do it, take your time. Commit.
Remember these words in this order:
red velvet daisy church face. Got it?


Now tell me how to draw a clock —
After the circle, what shows the time?

The curtains pulled at noon, it’s dark —
Now tell me how to draw a clock.
After the hands, what are the marks?
Verbal, you don’t need a pen, you’re fine.
Now tell me how to draw a clock —
After the circle, what shows the time?

--

A triolet, doubled. I think each stanza can work on its own with the same title, but I had more to write than one octave.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Solitaire

My father has work to do,
needs to play his cards face up, not
block in case there’s a king to move
into this or that open space. The cards

of his last days, in descending order. Unless
God pops up from the foundation pile, you
can expect only the continuous snap, see
him shuffle from recliner to the immediate

safety of bathroom. There is no gain
in his decision to let go of his heart. It’s a shitty deal.
We may never know what is hidden in one
tableau or another, a gem or a regret. At

best we learn to expose the cards we cannot see, a
joker of preparation, the illusion of a suit that tricks time.

--
A Bref Double a la Echo (sans rhyme) this morning. The end words of each line read: Do not move cards unless you see immediate gain. Deal one at a time.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Seeing

I'm off Facebook indefinitely, which has over the course of a couple of days given me more time to think for myself. This morning I woke up and wondered what day it was and my answer was "seven." Then I realized it was Thursday, but that Thursday is seven. And Saturday is ten. And Friday has always been eight, but I'm not sure what Monday or Tuesday or Sunday are. Wednesday is five. I'm not sure if this is clarity or some other vision, but I'll take it over what is shared on social media.

In dance, I don't think. I move. When given the time to reflect on it the other night, I recognized that in all angular movements (robot, signal), my eyes know exactly where to go. Exclusive. It is a singularity of vision. When my body is in fluid movement (bubble, ooze, clouds), my gaze is everywhere, a plurality of vision. Inclusive. There's no judgement in these observations. They are just observations, and subject to change as I explore more the spaces between movement and language.

My handwriting over the past few mornings has produced a couple of visual poems. Today I took some time to re-create them. I'm not sure if they are improvements over the original "mistakes" or just new ideas entirely.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why I Collect Spent Matchsticks

Not ten of them
but hundreds.

Not for the firework
of their blockbuster blossoming.
Not the lick ticking clock
or the lipstick worn down
to a curve of lip.
Not for a curl of smoke
or wisp of hair.
Not for the closed eye
or ear.

Never in a stack, not glued.

Each phosphorus blast
is a brocade of sun at my fingers.
Not trees with their shade of clouds.

A series of ones, stuttering duds.
My drenched bonfire society!

Singular candles of complaint
I strike, hiss, hiss, miss.
Wooden snakes with dead heads.

No. Not death.

A fever of peonies,
my inferno of pinwheels.
Sparklers that saluted
one difficult and glorious day
after another.
--

An recording of me reading this poem is available here.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Departures and Arrivals

Gypsy moth caterpillars parade by our tentative feet
in the short term parking lot, a long walk
from your international flight. Oh how I love
and have loved the sky that was television blue
that day in September when you were in second grade
and unaware. Fear painted us all bright as a game.

Parts of fire ladders and stairwell remain. Today the game
is departure. Let’s go, let’s go, say your ticking feet,
steps ahead of mine, ready for a fresh grade
of landscape, centuries old and embryonic, a walk
through operatic pastures, a kiss under blue
club lights in Spain. I let you go to love

the world and all its stories of love —
slurred, deferred, the ones we made into a game
to conquer, look how old they are, how blue
the bruises are, still. I hope that your feet
only have to handle the glamour of dancing, a walk
through mountains with windy arms. I grade

what I haven’t seen by what I’ve read. You’ll grade
nothing, live in corners without banners, love
and remember streamers and lamplight, a walk
far from the sea, from me, your mother’s game,
a showcase full of worried birds. Their dusty feet
a bunch of pitiful rakes that gain no flight, no blue.

This is just how it is, it’s how far I can go with you, the blue
is yours. For now. Take it. The panoramic view is a grade
of empire without a ruler, no one ever owns it. Clamorous feet
have tried. Our country always marches in the name of love
while chanting inside a courtyard of dead bodies. The game
is not to look too American. To understand our walk

has the look of daggers and nostalgia. I’ll wait to recognize your walk
at the arrival gate, your stride thistled by growth. So much blue,
red and white in this open space, round crimson seats like game
pieces, drops of blood. Come home! Stay there! Grade
the fancy aching pain of experience against the love
of your unequal family, exchange your money, wash your feet

in the happiness of those walks that blotted all grade,
laundered everything to blue. Here you are, yes, the love
I made, game spirit, who won’t even crush a caterpillar under her feet.