Saturday, May 28, 2011

My New Sanctuary

It's finally done, my new studio space, a place for me to paint and write. What I love about this space? The light and that I found most everything thrift. The dining room set, the lamp, the chairs and even the little table. The space feels like me, a place to put things I love, a place that's quiet and just mine. I know that I already have a few spaces like this but I like this better than another guest room. It's a place where I can sip tea with Best Friend, to play the violin, a place to disappear, although I do allow the cats to visit, they aren't encouraged to stay. I like finding something someone loved and loved and then for whatever reason decided to let go of it and I get to turn it into something I can use, the history of it has it's own vibe, it's own soft pace. Time to finish the garden, which I gave a Beatrix Potter theme this year in making Mr. McGregor's Garden, photos to come soon.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Gift Of Spring

The warm sun felt good on the back of my neck
but it wasn't an indication of Spring
I had been waiting for Spring for what seemed like forever
and I wasn't going to be fooled by the soft air
or even the tulips pushing their pretty faces into the world
Even digging in the earth, throwing seeds around
and hoping for some warm rain
I didn't believe it was Spring
The calendar has been wrong before
and brightly colored eggs would be no indication of anything
and then today, time with you
that time I hold sacred like a holy flame
those moments that let me exhale
the window above my head open
blowing a calm through my room
and you were there whispering my name in low tones
and it felt like a carpet ride
and we were navigating a boat, wait I mean a shhhippppp
well you were
and closed my eyes and we were sailing
dragging my hand through the cool water
and the sun playing games in your hair
past the pier where we'd sat before watching the sun close
waiting for fire flies to dance on the water glittering on your hands
and finally Spring had arrived
and as you moved the earth you move me
I wouldn't listen for a frost warning
I exhaled and Spring filled my lungs
and I could only let go because I knew you loved me
behind the door others were waiting
the world was waiting
and you were busy wrapping up a new season
and I think I will wear the bow in my hair
and the memory of your kiss on my cheek

I was so shy to inquire
If you would like tea sometime
Then in my Mercury
Hand on hand, hand on knee, mercy mercy mercy me


"Don't underestimate the things I will do."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Solsbury Hill

Every relationship has that point where you know for certain that Love is the bond and even if the love were to change the moment couldn't and the bond would be forged in steel. Years ago I was at the lake house hiding from whatever I didn't want to change and feeling sad. Sometimes you see feeling sad is easier than fixing anything and where do you start to bail the ocean? I can't even remember how long I was there with Richie, spending summer days playing in the sand or taking the paddle boat out to fish for fish that were never there, mostly just to sit in the sun and read while he was close and for a change, quiet. I took a few calls, but mostly just wanted to be out there in the middle of nowhere on the lake and alone. Best Friend would call, week after week asking when I was returning home. I didn't have an answer for her, for Richie's father, for my family, for anyone.

One day she just shows up. Who? The Best Friend anyone has ever had. In the big black Chrysler she shows up on the gravel road. I was reading and listening to Richie play on the beach. I remember being surprised as usually she'd fire a warning shot that she was on her way, but not today. She was listening to Peter Gabriel in the car loud of course and she just looked at me and said, pack your things, I've come to take you home. She had that determined look I'd seen a few times before and more than a few times after. She's a force of nature and when she makes up her mind, that's just how it's going to be and either you are on board or you are an obstacle s he will push aside, your choice, of course. (always your choice) And I remembered being a little terrified to have to push aside sadness and make solid decisions and then a calm, she was on my side and everything would be just fine, of course it would be just fine.

We sat and talked for awhile, she'd listen to the reasons I didn't want to go back to the city, to return to the life that was just a dream falling into a thousand pieces. She'd listen as she packed my things. She'd help me tidy things as you can't just leave things in a house that you only visit when you are needing time away. You want to return to a new slate each time. We kept our most precious things there, the little things we had gathered when we traveled, the starfish from the Bahamas, the big wooden fish that sat at the end of the pier that now sits at her house, because that's where it belongs. When we would swim with Richie and his friends down the lake, we knew we were close to home when we could touch the fish. I remember wondering how some place so beautiful could feel like a prison at times. In the later part of my marriage, Best Friend and I were taking off from the Lake house for a day of goofing around, riding around to find antique shops, maybe an old book store, and I heard my husband tell her "Well just have her home by five or so." I remember thinking, we will be far away from here at five if for no other reason than that sill mandate. Thank God for fast cars and Best Friends. She shares her family with me, she shares her secret dreams with me, I know her real age and would never tell a soul, I know when we are in a crowded room and something insane is going on that nobody seems to notice that if we connect eye contact we won't be able to stop giggling and will probably have to leave the room.

So yesterday when heading home from the nursery, a trunk full of flowers and plants and a new trellis, there on the radio appears Solsbury Hill and I had to call her you see, "my heart going boom boom boom he said, son, pack your things I've come to take you home." changed my life. It was the first day of the rest of it, the getting on with it, the happy part of my life. Who else would I share that moment with but her? Who else would I share ten thousand of them after? She is the best part of this world, the adventure part, the fun part, the joy. She makes an ordinary afternoon one of exploration. We've driven around lost a thousand times only to find some landmark that makes us both sigh. We've had loud conversations in bookstores that gives other pause. And I never doubt for a moment she loves me. After all on that summer afternoon there were others who could have come to take me home, but that doesn't matter, she is the one who did.

I had to share the video from only the best concert ever in the history of all concerts and maybe a few more of Gabriel's songs. He is after all an angel by definition.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Eliot in the Rain

I wish it would stop raining
and before you lecture me about Spring flowers
I know how to water the garden
but it's hard to warm your soul
when it just rains and rains and rains
When all you want is to feel warm
and dig in the dirt
digging out the worms and making a pile
for the daring mother robin
who will land close unafraid
to feed her chirping chicks

and may I land next to you?
mighty Zeus who commands all he sees
and more importantly all who see him
Yes while others are waiting for you
I could keep you company
read you poems from my head
read of Eliot's mermaids
or St. Vincent Millay's lost lovers
perhaps a little Emily because you too
may be sick of the rain
sometimes we feel the same thing
but lately it's more a coincidence
than a commonality of spirit

Let's build a raft and ride down the Mississippi
stopping at southern small towns to eat waffles
and talk of nothing ordinary
finishing in New Orleans sipping chikory coffee
and I will whisper that you're fine river rafting company
and you will call me that thing you call me
that makes my heart jump a little
and I will be your young female deer
if only because you won the prize
and I got to watch them carry you on their shoulders home
celebrating in a fashion fit a King

Perhaps tomorrow the rain will stop
the sun will shine down on my garden
and the flowers living there
maybe just maybe you'll be of kind spirit
and generous soul
and you'll look for me
and we will have one of those hour long talks
in the hoftgarten
and Eliot will join us and we can speak on April's cruel rain
on May sun
and on June love.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Selfish Love

I love you selfishly
When I do something to make you laugh
it is because I long to hear your laugh like thunder
When I whisper something of seduction
it is to feel your lips on my neck
It is of my own welfare that I love you so
knowing you delight me
in the ever changing contemplation that falls on your face
when you are wondering
what I must be thinking when I am in pursuit of art
or literature or trying to put a poem in my head
one of Eliot's twisted tales of April's cruelty

And when you ask me why
"why must you push me away?"
Again it is the selfish need to have you close
but still be my own person
When you plant tulips in the garden
you know they will tower over the others
they seek that attention
and today I am standing on my tip toes
looking for you waiting for you to look for me
in this dance we do of lovers
and "was there Spring before I loved you?"

Time changed the day I decided I could love you
the clock was ticking for it's own pleasure
and had little consequence in my life
time marked by the next time I could know your smile
days marked by the moment you ask me
"do you know that I love you?"
and knowing you take the air from my lungs when you ask
and for a few moments time stands still
and all there is, is you
and when you add those moments together
through months and then somehow in a miracle of time's march
add them up and you have this life
one touching the other and connection only in admiration,
a little something we give eachother
and in that space
I am truly happy

I would take all the love you give me
then ask for more
put that love in a basket and dine on it
on a blanket
in some field where the grass grows soft and green
where lady bugs land on your arm just to feel that softness
where bee buzz feeding the world
where a weary bike traveler would stop
just to tell a girl he loves her
and your neck, your spine, the core of you
an oak tree
where I can rest
and whisper words of thanks
to a God who hears all


I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
Sylvia Plath

Discovering Rand

How did I find Ayn? A man of business of course. He whispered in my year ears ago to find Atlas Shrugged and to read it and I did. I was lost in it. It's an epic novel, one of those books you read and read and wish you could read forever. I was fascinated by the characters, a strong woman, supported emotionally and intellectually by men who would want women to be their equal. Rand, an ex pat from Russia, the leader of the Objectivism movement here the the states, writes dialog flawlessly and creates a world that is of her own in a way no other woman writer had created before or even since. She writes like a man with the heart of a woman.

If you are a Christian, this writer will slap you in the face. She didn't believe in God when used in the term of charity. She didn't believe that we were put here to serve others that the socialism of that point of view was a way of controlling people. She believed that we weren't born to be a "sacrificial animal" that we better served a higher power by achieving our own happiness and taking care of ourselves. She believed that the self esteem we have for ourselves to put ourselves first and that loving someone unconditionally is truly loving nobody at all.

If Atlas Shrugged seems an overwhelming summer reading undertaking, The Fountainhead is wonderful. It's easy to be lost in the characters here. I have always taken Rand that she isn't cold-hearted but more that she is selective about who to love, who to let close, to love with a discrimination to allow our own lives to flourish. She started a cult under this philosophy and was in herself a social movement of the late 50's and early 60's. I read each of her books and if you read between the lines you can an overwhelming spirit of giving of herself. Nobody writes a book like Atlas Shrugged and not give of yourself to hope to free people from the binds that our religious backgrounds give us. When did we develop a guilt because we do well that we are successful?

I found the interview below on facebook and found it fascinating so I am sharing it here in three parts:

The political conversation here is fascinating to me. If you listen to her carefully she is what I think Republicans hope to be before they get caught up in pandering to the religious right. I Love love love when she talks about the selfish love she shows her husband, that she loves him selfishly. How lovely that thought is to me, to love someone because they bring you joy, because you love their spirit being close to your spirit, savoring them. It reminds me of a poem I read by Edna St. Vincent Milay:

OH, THINK not I am faithful to a vow!
Faithless am I save to love's self alone.
Were you not lovely I would leave you now:
After the feet of beauty fly my own.
Were you not still my hunger's rarest food,
And water ever to my wildest thirst,
I would desert you–think not but I would!–
And seek another as I sought you first.
But you are mobile as the veering air,
And all your charms more changeful than the tide,
Wherefore to be inconstant is no care:
I have but to continue at your side.
So wanton, light and false, my love, are you,
I am most faithless when I most am true.

Ayn with Donahue on Israel:


A speech from The Fountainhead that I love:

Rand on Love:


I like this too:

Ok, I've been caught up in this and could think about it for days, but I have a day to pursue, things to do. I found this finally and it's well written and although I've not seen the movie advertised here, I'll look for it:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Clair De Lune

Easily the most moving piece of music ever created by Claude Debussy

Victor Hugo writing about the magic of the moon:

X. Clair de lune

La lune était sereine et jouait sur les flots.—
La fenêtre enfin libre est ouverte à la brise;
La sultane regarde, et la mer qui se brise,
Là-bas, d'un flot d'argent brode les noirs îlots.

De ses doigts en vibrant s'échappe la guitare.
Elle écoute…Un bruit sourd frappe les sourds échos.
Est-ce un lourd vaisseau turc qui vient des eaux de Cos,
Battant l'archipel grec de sa rame tartare?

Sont-ce des cormorans qui plongent tour à tour,
Et coupent l'eau, qui roule en perles sur leur aile?
Est-ce un djinn qui là-haut siffle d'une voix grêle,
Et jette dans la mer les créneaux de la tour?

Qui trouble ainsi les flots près du sérail des femmes?—
Ni le noir cormoran, sur la vague bercé,
Ni les pierres du mur, ni le bruit cadence
D'un lourd vaisseau rampant sur l'onde avec des rames.

Ce sont des sacs pesants, d'où partent des sanglots.
On verrait, en sondant la mer qui les promène,
Se mouvoir dans leurs flancs comme une forme humaine.—
La lune était sereine et jouait sur les flots.


The moon was calm, and flecked the ocean streams.
The casement opens freely to the breeze;
While the sultana watches, breaking seas
Weave the black isles below with silver seams.

The lute slips from her fingers as she plays.
She listens:…echoes, dull, from some dull sound.
Is it a Turkish ship, full, homeward bound,
Whose Tartar oars beat the Greek waterways?

Are cormorants plunging successively,
Cleaving the waves, whose pearls roll from their wings?
Perhaps a djinn, with reedy whispers, flings
The tower's battlements into the sea?

Who is thus troubling the seraglio's shores?—
Neither the cormorant cradled on the flow,
Nor the wall's capstones, nor the to-and-fro
Of heavy vessels with their dipping oars.

Merely full sacks emitting muffled screams;
And as they sink, there might perhaps be spied
Something like human forms moving inside.…
The moon was calm, and flecked the ocean streams.


I wrote a poem about a moon man about a year ago. It is by far the poem I loved writing the best because it took a piece of me with it. It wrote itself. An Ode to the magic of the moon and the man who lived there. I could listen to the music over and over again and when the notes are close together and then quick it sounds like chaos to me and I dwell in chaos. I was lost painting this morning on some old canvas I found at Goodwill, just painting over other painting and lost in the music and I looked over to find two of the cats sleeping on the edge of my desk, one giant lump of fur and two heads just lost in the music as I was and listening to the rain spit on the windows. Let's hope with all this rain comes Spring flowers. Yes, I've planted, yes I found things that popped up from the year before that I hadn't anticipated. I miss my Mom today. She was a businesswoman, running a salon but mostly I think she was a Wife. She loved being that more than anything and with that she was our mother. She made work seem effortless and my brother is more like her than I am, tender to his soul. I was thinking about her this morning, all the Halloween costumes she made, all the recitals she attended, all the birthday parties she planned and executed flawlessly, all the effort put into our lives and yet still keeping a life of her own. She painted and cooked and sewed and danced and was entirely her own person. I used to complain about going to the salon with her on Saturdays to be a shampoo girl. Today I would love to do that with her and instead I painted and wondered if I'd ever see her again.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

But God I love you

"But, God I love you."
He loves me too or else he wouldn't have shared you
"You are my touchstone."
and I could think of nothing else kinder
to be the landing spot of your right hand
for moments after it's said
I am no longer me, just an extension of you
a limb, a finger that turns the page
that pulls on your socks
and brushes the hair from my face
and as lovers do you are part of me
like some book I've read a hundred times
the teacup that my grandmother drank from
when she told us stories of my grandfather
that man she loved who used my brother's name before
If I linger longer with you
I may lose whatever energy I have to do anything else
but love you
lost in whispered thoughts of the great injustices of the world
and that contrast to time spent with you
the sublime joy of it
and if the rest of the world took notice
to those two lost in each other
they'd stop and wonder why I can't stop kissing your bottom lip
ask why I call you Zeus
and when you smile it will all come very clear

Brass Knuckles

Oh what to tell you about Dybek. If you haven't read Stuart Dybek you aren't from Chicago. In Chicago he is an icon. When you read his short stories they take you to the places my parents took me as a child, Bridgeport, Pilsen, Marquette Park. He captures the essence of Chicago in a way no other writer has even come close. And if you are a guy, he's a guy's guy kinda writer. What does that mean? Well, he understands romance and passion but doesn't get too caught up in it or should I say he finds romance in things men find touching, the bond of friendship, the beauty of sports, the idea of a legend. I've been to a reading, and he reads his work well but he's not as passionate about it as a fan would be. I like that part too. When I am reading Dybek I think of my grandmother taking us for a Saturday adventure down Archer Avenue to stop at the little stores on the way, visiting with friends. In Bridgeport the streets and side walks have little passage ways to the homes, like sidewalks on stilts and we were forever scolded not to go down under the sidewalks to go exploring but when Grandma Helen would take us to visit out Aunt Rita, we'd find ourselves exploring the catacombs under the city. Aunt Rita worked for Wrigley and she'd send us home with boxes of gum and spoil us rotten while we were there cooking some special dish they served in the "old country."

The first short story I ever read of Dybek's was a story called "we didn't," all about a young couple on the beach in Chicago getting ready to make love, waiting all summer, through "shades of lip gloss" and right before they were having that movie moment the police pull a dead body out of the lake. That omen would foreshadow anything they could do after. But let me tell you the moments before were so full of excitement and just hints of sexuality, the pulse beat of a city, the lightning flashes over Indiana, the feel of youth and summer that you just get lost in the telling of it and suddenly you are listening to jazz, not analyzing jazz really just enjoying it for what it is, joy.

His poetry? I've read all I can find and it's OK, but its not his fiction, the fiction is pure and good and from his soul. He teaches at Northwestern and his books Sailed with Magellan and The Coast of Chicago are perfect. Each story makes you want to read the next and you keep them with you, they become a part of your city, your thought on heritage and family and how we live. If I had to pick one book I guess it would be Childhood and other Neighborhoods. I was convinced after reading it that children, as children we all see things that are shocking to adults and that will frame our thought processes for life.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Other Brad

The First time I read Brad Leithauser it was years ago and I was in a little bookstore near Chicago called the Frugal Muse. There he was hiding among the poetry books a true diamond needle in the haystack of discarded poetry finds. I started reading and couldn't stop and this little paperback has been on my bedside table since. He is a true wordsmith and so you can take the Brads of the world on the big silver screen who tote a hoard of children around with them around the globe, I'll take this one. If you haven't ready "The Mail From Anywhere" I recommend it as you can find it on Amazon too inexpensive for words and you'll treasure it as I do and then be off to find "Curves and Angles." Leithauser uses words like musical instruments and I get lost in the them. A graduate of Harvard, I read to find out he married a poet and that made me smile all the more. The poem of his I really want to share with you is my favorite poem of all time. It's romantic and sad and wonderfully charming. It sings like a song that goes on and on and as is with Love, it's touching to the core, if you are missing someone or just the "idea" of someone. Be warned though that when t hat someone you are missing shows up, it's like you've never seen the sky before. The color change, the songs sound sweeter and now when I read this very touching fine work of poetic art, I just light a little candle of melancholy for those still looking.

The Crush
Harmless, no doubt,
because hopeless no doubt, yet far
From Hurtless, this nightly not
Being where you are --
Where, somewhere, you go right on being
That miraculously out-
Fitted and not quite conceivably
Tactile matter of yourself, Seeing
How this having you constantly not here
Appears to be my vacant lot
In life, why so implausible, then --that with the mere
Business of breathing, the body's slow
Expulsion of what has turned out to be
Useless, you'd truly disappear? But no-

No means, no hope
Of shaking you, though you're not here,
Days, days on end, no end, and so fully aware that I'm
Aware of just how perfectly absurd
It is-- how, ever, you pull on me, so though
A magnet to every tiny-toothed gear
And staple, brad and screw, all the drill-
Bits and fishooks, the hammer claws
And awls, and the metal rope.
Wrenches, vises, planes, rasps, and circular saws
in my belly...When, some nights ago, I heard
A summons that withdrew during my climb
Toward, wakefulness, until
I knew it was come from no

Physical phone,
But some dream hook-up, I can't explain just
How desolating that was -- only ask you to think
Of a phone ringing to wake the dead in some low-
Ceilinged office whose shades are drawn,
Some Bureau of Incorporations, Inc.,
Some annex of your local Heartfelt Loan,
Ltd., long hours after everyone's gone
Home. No doubt it's some mistake and our
Caller hasn't a prayer of bringing
Anyone to the receiver at this hour,
But still it goes on, that shaded ringing...
Still it all goes on, and still, my dear. I just
Say that I can't say you've brought no

Pleasure to me--
Pleased, anyhow, at having you enrich
My sense of worlds surrounding ours, in which
(Wouldn't you know?) we are invariably
Lovers, still, still no good...No good, you see,
Unless you see, and I don't think you do,
How daily, you're so painfully untrue
To all those worlds, and what a weight for me
It is, night after night, to field the same
Fatinguingly, fresh petulant demands
For entrance to that room -- really not so far--
Where you and I are shyly are
Undressing and you, yes whisper my name,
And I take your head in my hands.

Just typing it out here I am still moved and then when you read it out loud, and of course you must you get lost in the emotion of it. Miraculously outfitted and not quite conceivable tactile matter of yourself. Can you imagine a better compliment to someone? A more loving statement? To like someone so much that like turns to love and that love to you becomes a miracle? You almost want to hate him for making you believe it's possible to feel that way about someone until you do and then I wanted to find him and take him to dinner and wait just wait for him to say something that wonderful again.

So the other Brad of the world is THE Brad of the world to a woman who is full of romance. Everyone has a favorite poem, and yours is mine.

If you read his other poetry you will find stories of foreign lands, breathing an air unfamiliar and full of images that will send your head into another place. There is a poem in the same book called Your Natural History and I will let you find it for yourself hoping you will pop for the book but this lover he wakes in the middle of the night and when watching the woman he loves sleeping by the fire leans over to write FIRE on the window in the steam. Yes, he needed to write that word to save that moment. Since I've learned to type when I am having a moment like that I can feel my fingers type out a word, passion, faith, hope, sadness, fear but never Fire, fire is his, this lover he wrote of the lover who started the fire, who woke in the cold and couldn't decide whether to let her sleep or start two fires. What a lovely thought, a truly lovely thought. This week I will find the one who reads what I write and remind him he's a miracle.

I was dusting my bookshelf when I sat and read The Mail from Anywhere all over again, savoring each page like melting chocolate in your mouth, missing my Best Friend and our wanderings through bookstores. And then in my ipod after a little Neil Young, Shawn Mullins is singing and I really love this song, what a great Sunday afternoon. Souls Core is one of my favorite albums. He reminds me of someone different each time I hear him sing. I included Lullabye down there too so you'll recognize him.

Someone recently sang me a lullably and it was remarkable. Everythings going to be alright, rockabye, rockabye. Everythings going to be alright Rockabye, Rockabye, Rockabye. Sometimes that's all you have to hear.