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Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Daily Cup of Jonathan

JDH: We came too early.
SMJW: What do you mean?
JDH: I like to come to Starbucks around eleven when it's teeming with life and people and community.
SMJW: Oh that's so sweet--
JDH: It makes me feel like my stock is going up.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Field Song

What stands? The walnut:
the tower of story
dark with crows,

The leafy way station
for doomsayers:
Say nay, say no,

Say the morning comes in
with a silver spoon
and the spoon rattles

In a cup because
the child is gone.
But still the child

Stands, the way a statute
does in the mind:
or in a field: a fawn

Figure with a filigreed
grin: there beside
the walnut and the way

Of passing things:
the wide road down
the middle of it all.

The middle ground
gives way and we
are on either side,

As in a game:
You're it. You're not.
You're out. Arms up

You stand,
with those taken
for all they're worth:

The lace of Anne
the rods of gold
the stalks made from iron:

Their color drains away,
but still they hold
on: a dry feast:

The way things fast
towards their absent
forms: go in hunger.

Go in grace.

- Brigit Pegeen Kelly

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lemons, Lemonade, and Pearls or From the Lowest Dungeon to the Highest Peak I Fought With the Balrog of Morgoth Until at Last I Threw Down My Enemy and Smote His Ruin Upon the Mountain Side

There is something to be said for the malcontent itch, the irritating grain of sand that nestles close beneath the skin and will not budge for anything. Layer by layer it brings forth bright things-- smooth, lustrous, weighty things.
Weeeeeelllll, as with most things for me, the emphasis is more on smooth and lustrous and less on weighty. I'm writing a Regency Romance novel. It's light, it's fluffy, and it's made me smile more today than anything in months. And with that, I must be getting back to Georgiana Braithwaite and the tentatively named Peregrine Grenville-Plume, my plucky supporting cast...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Prayer to St. Anthony

Beware the artistic soul in October. It starts to die, ripe green leaves that were full to the tips with life turn crisp and scarlet like a splash of blood. They fall loose from their moorings. Beneath them, the rich earth breeds decay and discontent. On my knees in the bathroom, I scrawl poems on the wall. This is my penance. Each one is a rosary prayer for something I have been careless with and lost: the lovebird that flew from my hand and never returned, the milky sapphire pendant that unclasped from my neck and was gone, the.. other things, for which I have no easy name, the spark that once made my heart beat faster, the vibrant color of the world. I cannot let go of these things. I have enshrined their empty spaces, their carved hollows. I return over and over again with a prayer on my lips.


I walk down the garden-paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden-paths.
My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

And the splashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover.
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon--
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
"Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se'nnight."
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
"Any answer, Madam," said my footman.
"No," I told him.
"See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer."
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, "It shall be as you have said."
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

- Amy Lowell

Monday, October 16, 2006

Pain for Gain or Guns for notButter

Okay, it's time. Tomorrow afternoon, I'm going to swagger into the gym like John Wayne shouldering through the swinging doors into the saloon to clean house (at least that's what I assume he does because the only knowledge I have about John is what has been imprinted onto my cultural consciousness by clips and ads and movie allusions. For all I know, he might be squinting and posturing because his leather chaps are chaffing and he's high-tailing for the saloon to change into some much more breathable (and attractive) khakis). It's time to beat my body into submission, moan and groan for tone, eye of the tiger, etc. etc. I think I missed my calling as an unbearably perky aerobics instructor...

Thursday, October 12, 2006


There is a lovely scene from the movie, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, wherein the Baudelaire children, still reeling from the sudden death of their parents and the loss of their home in a fire are locked in a dreadful room by their wicked guardian Count Olaf. Violet Baudelaire, who knows that there is always something, builds a tent in the middle of the room out of the rubbish strewn about the room. The children hang the silhouettes of their parents in the warm, safe light and spend the night there. The voice over says:
Sanctuary is a word which, here, means a small, safe place in a troubling world. Like an oasis in a vast desert or an island in a stormy sea.

This October is dedicated to the concept of Sanctuary.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Beginning Again

I like beginnings. I'm good at beginnings, all dimply charm and easy laughter. It is harder to maintain something in maturity and beyond, into ripe age. The internet is littered with my fallen monuments of grandiose promise. Here lies Ozymandias, King of Kings, etc... There are difficulties, of course. The slick surface of first conversations, polished through much practice and frequent use, snags on quirks, quiddities, unexpected protrusions. (On a note completely tangential, I love how quiddity means both the essence of a thing and a hairsplitting quibble. English is, without doubt, the language of my soul -- so unruly, so heedless and duplicitous and mercurial in context.)

My last foray into this genre hid its intent in a disarming show of exotic idiosyncrasy, as innocent as any courtesan's display of flesh (an ankle, a glimpse of wrist). I once told someone disdainfully that online journals were not for the baring of tawdry internal deshabille best reserved for the pages of one's private diary. But I no longer keep a diary, and my inner exhibitionist has rebelled. The drama queen unfurls from artful slumber, extends an arm, a leg, pirouettes with a slow grace then faster with unbridled glee.

You, Dearest Reader, have been warned.

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