Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'd rather write

The writing room (which is also my bedroom) is unbearably messy and yet I fear moving a single piece of paper from position A to position B –because I have made a mind map of the location of each fragment and if I move it –well there goes my GPS system.

What this means is that there is a circle of books around my chair like a caravan of cowboys fending off the dustbunnies that are around them. In fact, dust bunnies are everywhere, the plastic bin is full of laundry from yesterday, the odd pieces of paper next to my floppy lamp is close to igniting from the heat of the light bulb, ten thousand binders and journals stagger around everywhere. The books I have been collecting for imprinting on my brain are in boxes of their own specific identity—science fiction on the left—nature books on the right and a miscellaneous box of books on the side.  Of course there are library books everywhere and the table top resembles a jumble sale that has gone on for too long.

I tell myself that all poets are this messy.

I think this isn’t really true because I remember seeing a book of the houses of poets and they were immaculate. They were also published.  It may be that being a tidy person and an organized worker makes you more publishable.  It may also be that I am just too damn lazy to do more than blog publication because face it—if you aren’t going to starve to death—why bother publishing poems? No one wants to read your fluff –especially other poets who are delicious and have better fluff than you have.

So it doesn’t matter if my writing room looks as if it needs to be put in a dumpster.

It doesn’t matter that ten thousand journals sit in the basement ---that books crawl out of every room—that dust bunnies are my only company.

It is the way it is meant to be until I have more time to do the housework.

Face it. If you are given a choice between being a house worker or a house writer—the choice is obvious isn’t it?  

 I’d rather write.


Poetry is all about seduction. You lay down the words in a trap and the reader comes along –innocent of your designs and falls into the invisible loop that drags him out of ordinary life and into the treetops, where he swings bewildered and forlorn—aching only to be left alone and untroubled. But poetry isn’t a lure to keep you safe. It is asking you to be hogtied into change. It asks you to remove all the grime and dirt that you exist in all day long and bathe in its showers of ice cold reversals and arise –newly born as a participant in the active messengering language of its singing. Poetry won’t say—Do this.  It will simply make a road and if you are a poet –you are magnetically pulled along to where the words go.

Do bits of iron have any choice when the magnet is applied?

It is the same for a poet.

She is self-disciplined.
But when a magnet is applied
she is complaint and adheres.

If you love words, each word placed on a private shelf in the pantry of the mind is a gift and a promise of future satisfactions. You can words by reading them and you enjoy them at the same time as you can them. This is why you can read a poem now and come back to it later to enjoy it again.  You can that is if it is a good poem.

In the night I like to think of words –each in their gleaming glass jars filled with good things and then I imaginatively uncap them, put in a spoon of thought and drink out of the ambrosia there.

This is silly.

I could be watching the moon bucket empty out the slops of the night.

I could be by the marsh poaching the fluff from the cattails.

I could be on the dark road by the grasses spilling out their innards and letting the snow make their shrouds.

I could be singing myself.  And yet, here I am ---in the dark night---sitting in front of an open book, watching the words preach their way to singing.

All poetry is seduction of the soul.
All poetry is learning to be open.
All poetry is a lowering of walls, laying down of weapons and a willingness to be vulnerable.
All poetry is real—and is the only way---in this life—to rebirth, regeneration, and healing. If you sit in the seduction of a poem—you –the reader---are eviscerated and filled with the potion—magical and therapeutic ---that tells you over and over again---that you are enough---that you have enough---that everything else is unnecessary.  Poetry is religion’s purest form and the one that will endure after all other religions die out. It will be flag that is put on the promised land.  It might even be the only way we will give up on status and become humble enough to see the beauty in every human being and in every other creature.

It begins with a love and a caressing of the word.
Then you move to holding lines between your teeth and swaying to the sounds.
Finally you fill your dish with words and glutton—that you become—you  dine.  

I take the word and put it here.
I seduce you.
Find the hook in your mind.
Try to remove it.

I dare you to try

"Poem 1145" from "The Poems of Emily Dickinson"

I ignore all other necessities when I am in my room and wanting to write.  Sometimes I forget to pick up the boys. Potatoes boil to burnt cinders on the stovetop. The house is dramatically messy. I am poor company.  I am wanting to be left alone when I am in the middle of a bit. I won’t get up to leave when I have the bone of a line in my mouth. 

It is ridiculous.  And here I am trying to avoid study. Let me go read Emily Dickinson. Now.


In thy long Paradise of Light
No moment will there be
When I shall  long for Earthly Play
And mortal Company –

Now I am pretty sure that Emily Dickinson wrote this for her God.
But I will interpret it as a poem addressed to the Muse—simply because this is how I feel in the company of the Muse—as if there were nothing else to long for.

In the “long Paradise of Light” –and singing---of the Muse—why would a poet long for “Earthly Play”? 

 Indeed she is satisfied completely.

She even has no need for “mortal Company” with the tired chatter of endless repeats.
She is in frolic with a vivid speech and a Muse who streams with indelible language.  What does the poet need with lesser gods?

in words

Happiness sneaks up on me as I open a book. All day the hollow ringing of dull words of the real world---- and now I give them all up to sink into a poet’s singing or a master writer’s works---of the imaginative world.

I can’t imagine a loveliness sweeter than this.
How do you survive without writing?

I have been writing since I was a child but never this way—as if writing would burn me up and leave nothing behind---as if writing—held the meaning of life.

Is that what I am doing here?
In every act—that we consciously decide to do—comes a speck of knowing –and so writing –like reading and speaking and loving—must bring us closer to the fragmentary understanding of what our small pathetic lives mean.

The wind shapes a fist and hits the trees over and over again.
In the night sky the pale mouth of the moon opens.
If you look hard enough you can see the writing of the stars.

It is not that I do not have another life.
I do.
It is just the life outside of words is not this world of wicked imagination and being.
It is not that I do not understand that the real life is outside of words –I know this.
It is just that when I am in words—nothing else---seems as real as this.

most often

Most often
my poems stink and I have to accept this.
It is sickening. I often feel like punching out someone but no one offers up a body for this request.

I hate it when I can’t make the poem sing.

But there are worse problems in life.
A song is a minor terror to endure and surely to god, one day a singing will start that will burst me wide open?

I have looked into the heart of darkness.
It exists in you.
It exists in me.

We are full of these empty places where we need to go and begin the work of understanding.
I am at the door way of the soul.
Sometimes the singing and the desire for the poem is unbearable.

I am embarrassed by this want.
I want to make the poem run out of the house.
I want its singing loud and raucous as the crows marking the fields with their thoughts.

But I am unable to do any of this.

I write a hemorrhage of prose and it is a placebo for the drug of poetry.
It is a short journey from prose into poetry, –I tell myself.—One day the door will open and ten thousand birds will come singing out.

another watered down day

In the pukey hours of the evening –when the white of day has been eaten and only the crust is left, when I already have done nothing of my poems and have instead wallowed in the daze of sunlight and dullness all day—it seems sensible to just give into the forces of darkness and do the sleep thing. In fact, I have already napped and now, seeing the evidence of nothing written or read—I come here like a dragging balloon pulled by a child that is I and sit before Emily Dickinson –longing to be in her words and yet—childishly wanting to avoid the work as well.

Emily Dickinson knew everything. She knew about suffering, death and desire. She knew about all the forms of love for another. She was the sort of woman I hope to become---a rebel, indifferent to influence and powerful in her words, and a regent in her small world. When you are a daisy –it is best to not pretend to be a magnolia blossom and Emily was a plain, ordinary woman with one simple difference—an unconquerable will –that manifested itself clearly and most strongly –in her words.

The reason Emily endures –is because her soul endures in her words.

In a dark room, I sit with her words and I learn from this master poet, how to break and reform.  I learn how to love without any return for the love I give out. I learn to be angry without destroying anybody. I learn how –being small, simple and solitary has its own value and worth—how being a nobody ---might in fact be more than anybody else.

Another watered down day. Nothing done.  A strong wish to simply stop writing and simply read.  But I think  of Emily Dickinson—this small passionate woman pinned to the small horizon of her family and correspondence with friends---and I understand that it is the endurance in one’s own soul that is what is worthy.

We are to work at what sustains the soul. In my case---- it is writing--- very bad poetry.

In your case, it may be to make singing like Amelia Curran whose song “Scattered and Small” has become my background music when I write. Listen to the words.  In becoming less--- you become somehow more. Emily Dickinson knew this. So does Amelia Curran.

In the world I see many very important people.

I avoid them all.

I want a soul in my life like water---- clear and placid. 
I want silence and golden pauses.
I want a river to float its bricks of leaves and the solitary wind to shrug through the hemlocked trail in a forest, the browse of a deer, the sudden leap of a Snowshoe hare, the cross-country skis biting ice as I truck slowly through the endless winter towards spring. I want a world that understands that we are all the same—that we lie with grass and suffer with all that we kill—that in our hearts—run the same common desires and wants—that between that homeless man on the street with nothing to his name but his shopping cart full of junk and myself in my house of dreams full of junk that I bought for no other reason than lust—well---there is no difference.

We are all the same.
We are all small.
We are all on the same road.
And we are all to sit in our chains and learn the work of freeing ourselves from them.

Another weak endless day where I have sat in the room where my sister lay in her bed of dreams. Sometimes she is there---and sometimes she floats out.

I’ve never realized how much energy it takes to simply to simply keep a body alive.
Sometimes, it is best to pause ---as I have been doing these last few weeks and think about what I am doing.

Sometimes it is best to pause and do the work of grieving.

You have a bit of time in the world.
Then you are told to lay down the stones you carry and then go to where there are no more burdens.
For some of us, this means a god story.
And for some of us, this means the end of what is beautiful, for what is horrible, for what is the day after day trudge through all the hard, rotten things that we do not want to do but do because of duty, because of family, because of promises and love.

We do all we do---and what we must do--- and yet are we really alive?

Do we--after all this doing-- sit in our houses fill with junk and ever think---- that the homeless man on the street is more free ---- than any of us?

I go to the forest and shrug out of the dream.

I sometimes think that the walk in the forest is the only real part of my life.

Try it.

Find a bit of a forest trail near your home.

Go there.
The chickadees are whirling dancing dervishes in the trees.
A paw-print of sunlight is on the path.
Drapes of cranberries are everywhere.

The land outside our very door, that we pass is what keeps us alive and yet, we are stone or putty—filling the land with our endless possessions when we already know we are dust that will fall.

Each day, I try to sit with Emily Dickinson to remind myself of my own unimportance –which as a stay at home mother –is very real.

I am unimportant.

I have a small role to play --- in the endless roles----- of our society.
The words I write are drops of mercury from a broken thermometer.
They glisten and they travel on.

It is only----- when I sit in poetry— that there is a transcendence ------ like the flight of eagles, like the raising of flags—like the peak of a mountain climb.

You sit in the dark room with a poet of the most humble kind—and you understand that every day is pointless, that the work we do is a way to keep busy, and we are all destined to be dust –that will fall.

Dust. That will fall.

Do what you most love—even if you must do it at the end of your life.
Do what you most love—and do it every day.
It is all that will keep you awake.


I haven’t the foggiest idea what I am meandering on about here.
But I have learned to let myself write the “mood” out and put it on the blog.

A poet doesn’t need to know the meaning of everything she writes.
She simply needs to know that the words need to be said and that they need to be said in this way and then she needs to write them out as they ask to be said.
This means that the poet must be obedient.

I don’t know if other poets write this way.
But I have learned to trust myself.
I write this way.

Writing poetry is what I most love to do.
I do it every day.
It keeps me awake.


Outside the world is very surrealistic.
Snow makes telegraphic messages on the soccer field.

I can’t read --completely---the communiqué  that snow has left for me but I still attempt.
There is a long drape of snow down my little boob of a hill where the children of the neighborhood have eaten up the snow with their sleds.
I think there is a reason for such joy in childhood.
It is to get you through the adversity of adulthood.

A platter of fir trees fills my view.
I like to look at fir trees on such odd mornings such as this where I have been running in and out of the house like a dust storm—trying to be super-human.
I’m not super-human.
I’m rather disorganized and scattered and without a pause in every day—I would not get anything done.
I like to take a pause as I am doing right now to recapitulate the hours before this but I am distracted by the prettiness of the world outside the window. I had to open the curtains and watch the marsh for a while to recover from my gloom. It is smiling with its fangs showing and this is rather difficult to endure but there is no snow to cover that threat and so I guess I must endure this perverse animosity of the willow-teeth.

I haven’t yet managed to do anything of worth all morning.
Heck –I haven’t managed to do  anything of worth my whole life.
I am a dimple in the ass of time.

Most days, I sit in the field of my thoughts and wander what the hell I am doing with my life.

It feels like I am a sort of handmaiden to my family and extended family.
It feels like I am a rusty bucket with the bottom falling out.

But there you go.
That’s life.
You think you have the slope figured out as you go careening down in that sled you had plunked yourself on and whoa! A tree appears before you and you are tree-implant.

Such collisions are useful.
I like to use them to learn.
I find that while it is better to learn without such impact—it might be the way that we are required to learn in this life—in order to become our deepest selves.
Such adversity provided by impact with problems serve to harden us and soften us and make us evolve.

Evolution is an ongoing matter—most often happening at the level of molecules but also possible through thoughtful practice in our own heads, hearts and souls.

The business of evolution is best catalyzed by love.

I haven’t evolved out of fruit fly status yet.

I am still a slug in the nest of the home.

While this is not any different from being a wage slave in our society, it does come with its associated risks and dissonances.

 I am always being reminded of life and death and its risks. The presence of sick people snap you out of comatose and make you aware that each hour must be used for some higher purpose than simply sitting and vegetating.

I am not suited to the work of loving other folks for I always rather unnerved by the fragility of the human body and the endless craving of each human being for love and dignity. Love takes a great deal of learning every day and I have to force myself along the coursework required.  How to be kinder? How to love with the whole of me? How to do this terrible work of letting go---of  those who I love?

I do not know.

It is best to say this.

There are no answers to any of life’s fixed biological demands such as illness and death.
We are to work at it in some individualized program plan that we plan for ourselves.
Sometimes others will appear to help us in our development.
For the most part—we have to do this work alone—in the solitude of a room—alone with our own aching hearts and terrified minds and embryonic souls.

We are given adversity in order to grow and become stronger.

When you are sick there is a sense of how fragile you are.
You begin to post inquiries of your body to everyone (well, at least my mother does) or you begin to withdraw (like my sister does). 
In the extended care centre –other ways of coping seem to be some sort of napping that happens for prolonged periods and that seems to me at least to indicate resignation.
I think there are some folks who are able to rise to the challenge of adversity without whining but I have none in my family except my father who (to me at least) is an insanely positive human being (I personally think he is in denial).

When you are sick the world narrows down to the room, the bed, the sleep.

When you get out of the room, the world seems unnaturally bright and strikes at you with hammers of delight.

I go to the room again and it is like a sanctuary from the blows of the hammer.

In and out of the room.
Over and over, day after day.
You begin to realize that this will never be over.
This is life.
Each of us will have to learn its victims and losses as well as its delights.

I let the hammers strike.
I am breaking.
I am forced out of the smaller shell where I was too tight.
I am out.
I grow.
The new shell forms.
And this goes on throughout life.

You must not be afraid.
The world will break you.
You must stand perfectly still and let it.

Out of such breakages you –the real and essential and perfect you—will arrive with daggers of love and piercings of strength and you will understand that this journey is not about power---it is not about money---it is not about work---it is about learning.

What you do here is all the learning you need to do and then you are done.
You are free of school.
You are what you were meant to be.

What are you meant to be?

Take out the fear from inside you.
Be not afraid.
Be brave.

Say who you are to the world in whatever way you can.
And you will have the courage ----that you are strong enough to give out in this way ---mirrored back to you--as well.
This will intensify your own courage and you will be able to do what you need to do to ensure you become who you are designed to be--an authentic loving human being.
Well --you will be --if you are brave --and do what Emily Dickinson did. She took her power in her own hands and did the work that she was destined to do in her life.
You can do this as well.

If you are brave.

You are not powerless.
You can change.

And in changing yourself, you change the world.

I took my Power in my Hand – / And went against the World – Emily Dickinson (Poem 660)

Monday, November 28, 2011

velcro girls

I have to go out and buy stuff for older boy’s drama presentation. He is practicing for it right now and I will have to stay up late until the midnight hour before picking him up –and depositing him in his bed. I don’t know. I think mothers should have unions and union mandated hours of work.

Of course, I am going to have to get used to this since older boy loves drama and I already know that he doesn’t want to be the Bollywood star that I had hoped he would aim for but instead simply do the drama business for fun and for girls.

The prettiest girls congregate in drama classes and thank god they are not stupid girls but have read a book or two and so I won’t have to excise them like tumorous outgrowths from his beautiful body.  I despise these stupid young things who giggle relentlessly around him as if they were propeller blades of a plane about to lift off.

No –I am not being horrible. I am being truthful. These Velcro type girls seem to be everywhere  and I can’t but think of my poor baby in their slinky clutches.  Poor sweetie. How will he escape without his mother?

I’d better go get his drama supplies.  I have the laundry still piled up and god knows when I will return to my “education in Alberta” series which has provided me with a great deal of interesting information about the school system that –despite having had the boys in these systems for more than 16 years (preschool and kindergarten counts)----well—I had no idea of the complexity of the education system. It is almost sufficient information overload to make me consider homeschooling but then when would I write? I’d better go to get those supplies before I stick to the chair and can’t unglue myself out of it.

"Poem 1139" from "The Poems of Emily Dickinson"


We do not know the time we lose –
The awful moment is
And takes it’s fundamental place
Among the certainties –

A firm appearance still inflates
The card – the chance – the friend –
The spectre of solidities
Whose substances are sand –
So what is Emily Dickinson talking about here?

I’m not sure. 
Perhaps she is speaking about the fleeing moments of our days.
As it was today, the hours flapped their crow wings and left and I was left with scattered feathers of my hours.

So perhaps Emily Dickinson is speaking of how the time vacuumed out of our day—becomes the past—the “certainties –“ amidst which we are able to see only ghosts—of “The card – the chance – the friend –“ but even these ghosts are nebulous and gone.

Let me go through it slowly.

Stanza #1

We do not know the time we lose –
The awful moment is
And takes it’s fundamental place
Among the certainties –

Each moment –in this case – Emily calls it “The awful moment” to make it seem even more implacable to our knowing---is lost by us all unknowingly for “We do not know the time we lose –“ and certainly –every day –running about on wasteful expenditures of life energy –it does seem mighty mindless the losses of our life energies –doesn’t it?

So then these lost moments go.
They become our only constant and known matters—“the certainties –“ of what she speaks of later as the little dramas of friendship and bad or good luck—and they take their rotten step by step place on the foot ladder of time –each moment will fix and stop in “it’s fundamental place”.

With Emily you have to do a great many random extrapolations to get going and it may still all be hogwash but there you go. You tried.

Stanza # 2

A firm appearance still inflates
The card – the chance – the friend –
The spectre of solidities
Whose substances are sand –
Even though life is leaking out of the punctured balloons of our lives—we see these lost moments containing the ghostly depictions of who we knew and what we experienced—as still somewhat real---“A firm appearance still inflates”.

But are they still real?
Or are they as lost as our hours?

For she goes on to call the things we had –“The card – the chance – the friend –“ equivalent to ghosts—“The spectre of solidities/ Whose substances are sand –“ and so if the monuments in our past are also drifting deserts—they –too –are gone to as is “The awful moment” of the present.

I don’t know if this  is what Emily meant or not.
But it is good enough for the first round.


The work of praise is not difficult but it takes a long time to see lucidly enough to admire in succinct and unusual ways. I think that seeing takes the longest to learn in beginning the endless apprenticeship of thinking in words---that is what writing is –and this thinking in words ---must then be elastic to your feelings which will taffy pull it out—to the maximum tensile limits of language and sometimes –even fracture it.

What am I saying here?

You are to praise the world in every way possible.
But you cannot do this work if you do not see the bud opening its one large eye.
You cannot do this work if you are in a hurry and must run by the forest’s deadfall without inspecting the log with the multiplicity of holes –some dug out by a Pileated woodpecker and some excavated by the ants, and others resident to lichen, fungi and birds squatting temporarily on these cliffs of wood.

After seeing the outer surfaces—the corrugated wood and the plugs of lichen and mosses---you are to look inside the wood—at the “soul” of the beast and decide to learn the anatomy, the biology, the dying and living of the creature.

You are see everything.

The microscopic, macroscopic and the universal.

This is why poetry is so hard.

We can all write –but to write with the delicate elegance and compression of language to explode out meaning and love for the world—this is harder and we may never—each of us—learn how to do this.

We can only try.

Only a few among the poetical tribe will daunt the world with their reversals of language and expand the nomenclature of the field.

Only a few artists will spring us open.

It is these souls that fill me with longing.

Oh, how to be their caliber of writers and poets!

In the darkness of another broken poem—all you can do really ---is light yourself up with the attempt.

The attempt—I tell myself—is everything.

I write

I write to find out what I am thinking about. Most of the time this is rather sad stuff but occasionally I am able to spring out of the dark nest and fly out to the shining world from my aerie.

I write to pry loose the detritus of past acts and years and to go towards some sort of virginal space that exists in the soul -----and between one soul and another. Whether I arrive there or not--- is a mote point. I am to merely try and if I succeed—I am to luxuriate in that comfort and warmth and be willing to risk banishment by speaking of the tenderness of love.

I write to express my delight in all the beautiful souls I meet who are sometimes rough and cross and unknowing. But then, when I tell them----of their beauty---their hard rock precipices fall down and they are willing to be traveled on –these distant landscapes that I want to know and ---that ---I do not forbid myself the knowing of –for this is all I am interested in ---it is this knowing.

I write to say what I do not like and what I appreciate—what I feel and what I desire.  Desire boots us up and takes us out of solemn pretences and into real contact and understanding and I will not forbid myself the desire to know the other and hold on tight for a moment –before releasing my tight grip and letting go—to let them be as free—as I must be.

I write to be naked---emptied of lies and untruthful ways of being in the world. I write to return to innocence and unsullied places -----in the child-- I used to be. I write to feel happy once in a while –in the darkness. I write to understand that desire is where it begins but not where it ends—that each of us have love stored in our mouths and we are to give each stranger we meet –the jewel of a kiss of love.

 I write to shame myself and make myself uncomfortable---to show that I am not pure but something human and something real—and I will myself to reveal this---- to myself so I am not too dainty ----for my own mistakes and lamentable bad temper lapses. I write to make myself who I am going to be and who I want to be—this woman of light and strength and power.

I write to reduce this woman to nothing. I write to be humble. I want to escape bullshit.   I write to expand my boring interior to the golden exterior. I write to send out the seeds into my dry landscape so that one day –in this desert—the willing leaves, buds and flowers will form a garden. I write to prepare myself for the harvest that is coming that will winnow down everything I plant and leave a bare acre of land where some other poet will start the great work of making a soul—which in the end –is what we are really about—and what we are here for.

I am making a garden of the soul.
I show it to you.
And if you wish—you can make such a garden too.
We can make a flowering all over the world.

Each one of us.