Friday, April 29, 2011

Mother's Day

"Clafouti," she says.
Not cake, dimpled with cherries.
Not bread, sweetly dusted.
Which sounds
As artificial,
As contrived
As this--
Sitting here, across the table
From a woman who can't see
The cake in clafouti
Or the person in me.


Your smooth arms
Slip around my ribs
Slight and weightless
They bear me up
A life preserver
For a drowning man

When you wrap me
In your strong arms
One hand pulling me close
The other rubbing my neck
You shield me from the world
And hold me for your own.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Why does communicating with people sometimes send me into a blind panic? For real. I had to check my voicemail, and I am supposed to call my grandma, who is not feeling well and is 89, and one of my best friends, whom I have not spoken with in months. These are people I love, and I should not be dreading this.

It is now 4:00, I've been off of work for FOUR HOURS, and I managed to check my voicemail (which I haven't done in literally over a month). Just going through and deleting all of the messages got me sweating. Like I had run a mile or something. I wrote nothing down. I tried to remember some of the details. Mostly, I deleted.


I almost hung up immediately, but the first message on my voicemail is one I've saved for years. It's from January of 2009. Literally, saved for years. And it makes me smile. And the second one is one that I've been saving for a while, too, because it makes me happy. So I had the two happy messages to give me the courage to wade through the rest of them.

Now I have those two phone calls. I need to just man up and get it over with. ARGH I AM SUCH A BABY SOMETIMES.

Name That Tune #2

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Green eyes

So green eyes are, supposedly, the rarest regular eye color. By regular, I mean not lavendar or half blue half brown or something. (They are also supposed to be the weakest eyes, but I don't wear glasses so I cannot speak to the truth of that claim.)

Which makes me kind of proud of them. They're a recessive gene, and really hard to pass on to your kids. My grandma is the only one out of five kids that got green eyes from her mom. She had six kids, and my mom was the only one with green eyes. I'm the only one of my siblings with green eyes.

I love my eyes.

But I really wish, sometimes, that my eyes were brown or blue. Because there are NO SONGS ABOUT GREEN-EYED GIRLS. Would it kill someone to write a song about a green-eyed chick, so I could feel like it was saying all of those good things about me? The only songs about green eyes are the ones about jealousy. COME ON.

I mean, yeah, maybe I'm jealous of those brown-eyed girl songs. But I've got more to me than that!

ETA: I mean, there is this. But... I want more.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Pushing past the pudding skin
That life forms on the heart
Is not for the weak of stomach.
It takes balls of steel
to peel it off
and delve into love, again,
one spoonful at a time.

NB: I do not know why this thing is stuck in my head. It is repulsive and attractive at the same time, like one of those hideously ugly dogs that you cannot hate. It turns my stomach, and I know that is just because it is so appropriate. Fuck you, grotesquely apt metaphor.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Draw the Bath

Just here, and there,
Shade it ever so slightly
To show the smooth contour
Of porcelained sides
The slight motion
Of rose-scented water
The gentle beauty
Of her shoulder and neck

But here, and here,
Do not hide with graphite
The light on the bathtub
Glaring off of the side
As it dances in the water
And ignites her eyes

Your pencil can sing
But that light is a symphony.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kick-Ass Sandbox? Check.

So we're constructing a sandbox out of stacked slabs of Idaho Quartzite.

Yeah, no furniture yet. We have to prioritize.

ETA: Picture proof!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Touches of the Small Silver Pencil of Starlight

The thousand arms of the forest were grey, and its million fingers silver. In a sky of dark green-blue-like slate the stars were bleak and brilliant like splintered ice. All that thickly wooded and sparsely tenanted countryside was stiff with a bitter and brittle frost. The black hollows between the trunks of the trees looked like bottomless, black caverns of that Scandinavian hell, a hell of incalculable cold. Even the square stone tower of the church looked northern to the point of heathenry, as if it were some barbaric tower among the sea rocks of Iceland. It was a queer night for anyone to explore a churchyard. But, on the other hand, perhaps it was worth exploring.

--Chesterton, "The Sign of the Broken Sword," in The Innocence of Father Brown

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Iliad, Book 1.1


The gods could hear Apollo raging before he even entered the throneroom at Olympus. They exchanged uneasy looks.

Apollo burst through the doorway, his bow in his hand, a silver arrow on the string, his finger twitching as he held it in place. "AFTER ALL OF THIS! AGAMEMNON HAS THE COLOSSAL NERVE TO SHUN ONE OF MY PRIESTS!"

"Shuuuuuun the nonbeliever!" Ares murmured under his breath, and Aphrodite chuckled.

Apollo whipped around to face Ares, his muscles rippling as he brought his bow up to his shoulder in the blink of an eye, his shining arrow a hair's breadth away from Ares' forehead.

Minerva was on her feet in the same second, her steady hand and grey eyes on her twin's strong arm.

"Tell us what happened."

Apollo, barely conceling a growl, launched into his story like a raging bull. "THAT FUCKING SO-CALLED KING, AGAMEMNON. HE SPURNED CHRYSES, MY PRIEST, AND--" Minerva gently guided her brother to his seat as he raved, then placed his lyre in his hands, taking the bow from him. "HE-- HE--" Apollo paused for a moment, tuning the lyre without thinking.

Ares smothered a laugh.

The son of Zeus and Leta started at this sound, his hand cutting across the strings so violently that one snapped. "OOOOOOOOOOOOOH NOW HE IS DEAD," the god raged, throwing the lyre at Ares, grabbing his bow, and turning on his heel. He was gone before anyone could stop him.

"Who's gonna tell Zeus?" Aphrodite asked, looking from Ares to Minerva to the fire, where Hestia sat poking the coals. "Not it!"

"NOT IT!" Ares yelled, rubbing his forearm where the lyre had hit home. "Besides," he said, with an almost apologetic look to Minerva, whose eyes were narrowing at him, "I believe Apollo requires my services." With that, he grabbed his spear and started for the doorway.

He was about halfway there when Jupiter himself came around the corner, filling the entryway with his enormous frame. "What's going on in here?" he asked. "I was... uh, busy." He hastily tucked his robe into place, smoothing his disheveled hair.

Ares raised an eyebrow at Minerva, motioning to her with his spear.

Minerva stood up, her long legs gleaming in the gentle firelight, and hooked a finger into the belt of her short tunic. "Apollo has suffered some slight." She spoke evenly, her eyes steady on her father. "He has gone to repay the humans their disservice."

"Well why are you bothering ME about it?" Jupiter grumbled. "I was BUSY! By my bolt, you are a needy lot. Just let him go, I'm sure he'll get distracted by the lullaby of a stream and fizzle out before he finds the one responsible."

Minerva pursed her lips. Didn't say a word, but Aphrodite saw it in her eyes-- "I won't beg you to take me seriously." She turned on her heel, grabbed her own quiver, and was gone in an instant.

"I'm going back to-- uh--" Jupiter stumbled for a second, and Aphrodite picked him right up.

"Back to your business?" she said sweetly, her long eyelashes fanning down in a wink.

"Er....right." Jupiter said. "Well, at least-- you know how it is," he said, half apologetically.

"Say no more," Aphrodite said, and with a wave of her hand, Jupiter took on an even more godlike appearance, if that were possible, his hair positively curling with virility.

"Right!" he cried. "And I'm off!" Gone.

Aphrodite chuckled, laid back on her couch, languidly fed herself a deep purple grape. This was all so much fun.

ETA: I know, I know, I'm mixing Greek and Roman. I gotta fix it, just not now.
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

I want to eat you.

These things are addicting. Like crack and Bejeweled. Or some combination of the two of those things. I cannot get enough of them, but they are also fatty and full of sugar. So I am trying to curb my cravings with tea. But it is not working.They are all I can think about.

I am sure that this being the most boring day EVER at work does not help. But for real.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I swear if I could ever concentrate on one thing at a time, I might win. Instead I have:

1. The beginning to my myth.


The gods could hear Apollo raging before he even entered the throneroom at Olympus. They exchanged uneasy looks.

Apollo burst through the doorway, his bow in his hand, a silver arrow on the string, his finger twitching as he held it in place. "AFTER ALL OF THIS! AGAMEMNON HAS THE COLOSSAL NERVE TO SHUN ONE OF MY PRIESTS!"

"Shuuuuuun the nonbeliever!" Ares murmured under his breath, and Aphrodite chuckled.

Apollo whipped around to face Ares, his muscles rippling as he brought his bow up to his shoulder in the blink of an eye, his shining arrow a hair's breadth away from Ares' forehead.

2. A drawing of this.

3. Nothing else, really.

Dammit. I failed today.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Rise and Fall of the Major League Empire

I used to be absolutely absorbed with baseball. Most of my life. It was the one sport I played, the one I understood inside and out, the one that I loved. But over the years, it became more and more difficult to find anyone who could talk to me about it without passing out from boredom. 

I loved stats and commentators and listening to the games on the radio. I loved going to the games, and following the players, and really getting to know their styles. I loved the color, the history, the fields, the fans. The traditions. The all-time greats, and the Bill Buckners.

But everyone around me was playing fucking soccer.

When I was in college, I had one friend that was a die-hard Cubs fan. He and I would talk endlessly about our Cubbies' prospects. We shared a subscription to the MLB live online feed, and we would shamelessly watch the games on our computers during class. 

The year I graduated, the Cubs almost went all the way.

For the next couple of years, it was almost like a different team. They won. They made it to the wild card! They... started losing again. 

And then I moved to Texas, where the Cowboys are everything, and no one cares about the Rangers. Two of my neighbors played on the team, and I never even went to a game. Because it was all Cowboys, all the time. So I transitioned baseball to the number two spot in my heart, and let football, which was always a close second, take over the whole thing.

I can't say I regret it. I love baseball, but you can't capture that conviviality outside of the ballpark. I don't get the radio broadcasts here. There's no team for hundreds of miles. I can watch the games on TV, but there's not a soul that will watch with me.

I still follow the standings, the box scores, the general ebb and flow. And when I'm in a baseball town during the season, I am at the game, drinking beer, slathering on sunscreen, yelling my lungs out, getting to know my bleacher buddies. It might just be geography. Or the lack of that one other person who understands the need to know all of the things about the game in general and the team in particular. It might be the way things are, now. 

All I know is, thank God for football, or I'd have to learn to talk to people or something.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yard Work

Today I raked all of the things. We got eight huge black leaf bags full of crap off of our front lawn. Leaves, sticks, clumps of sod, small rocks... some bags were heavier than others.

My hands hurt from holding the rake. My shoulders are lightly sunburned because I was not expecting to need SPF when it was only 40 degrees outside and overcast. I have that ache that feels good, because it means you got shit done.

Next day off we tackle the back yard.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


So I was trying to rewrite a myth today, and for some reason I chose the myth of Narcissus. Why on earth I would choose that is beyond me. I guess I thought it was so laughable and ridiculous that it would be ripe for parody.

What I actually realized is that the Greek myths are already about as cracked out as you can possibly get. Take Narcissus. His mom is a naiad (this is already the product of a drug-addled brain and we haven't finished the first sentence yet), and she was impregnated by a god in the form of a river. Yes. You heard me.

So she has a baby, Narcissus, and she is worried for him. She goes to Tiresias, the blind seer (HA!), and asks if there's anything she can do to make sure he has a long life. Tiresias tells her that Narcissus must never know himself.

OK, at this point, we must wonder, what does this mean. To know oneself. Is there really any way that any man can truly know himself? Is this not one of the greatest mysteries and quests of the human condition? To know oneself?

I mean, the only other way I know of knowing something is... well, the Biblical sense. And good luck keeping a young man from knowing himself, if you know what I mean.

But Liriope (Narcissus' mama) decides that this means Narcissus must never see himself in a mirror. WHAT THE FUCK? So knowing yourself is seeing yourself as others see you? Is that the takeaway from this? Or is it a point on the side of complete superficiality? That there is no meaning beyond the surface? Or should we just give up trying to read something into this story, because for real, it is on crack?

So Narcissus can't see himself in a mirror.

Then there is a kind of oddly tragic aside about Echo, and her loving Narcissus in vain (HA!). She can merely follow him, echoing his own perfect voice back to him, until she withers away to nothing but a permanent echo.

Then we get to the meat of the story. Narcissus spurns a lover (who I think is a man in the story, but that is not really important), and the lover goes to Nemesis for retribution. Nemesis lures Narcissus to a pool of water, wherein he catches his own reflection and is smitten. Unable to disturb the pool for fear of chasing the beautiful youth (himself) away, and unable to leave, Narcissus pines to death next to the pool.

Cue the rolling of the eye. So Liriope was right, unlikely as that seems, and "knowing oneself" was actually seeing one's own reflection and falling in love with it.

And I could delve into that, and pick apart the implications of self love and its destructive tendencies, or maybe the ironic twist of "knowing oneself" in the reflection while not knowing oneself well enough to recognize one's own reflection, or of any number of things.

But instead, I am just going to say that the story of Narcissus is crazy enough on its own, and I will look for a revisable myth elsewhere.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Horoscopes for the Dead

Billy Collins has a new book of poetry out, called Horoscopes for the Dead. I haven't gotten my hands on it yet, but I will, soon.

In the meantime, NPR invited him over, and he had a few things to say.

And here is one of the new poems. Take it into your pocket and worry it like a stone. It is worth it.

by Billy Collins

What do you think of my new glasses
I asked as I stood under a shade tree
before the joined grave of my parents,

and what followed was a long silence
that descended on the rows of the dead
and on the fields and the woods beyond,

one of the one hundred kinds of silence
according to the Chinese belief,
each one distinct from the others,

and the differences being so faint
that only a few special monks
were able to tell one from another.

They make you look very scholarly,
I heard my mother say
once I lay down on the ground

and pressed an ear into the soft grass.
Then I rolled over and pressed
my other ear to the ground,

the ear my father likes to speak into,
but he would say nothing,
and I could not find a silence

among the 100 Chinese silences
that would fit the one that he created
even though I was the one

who had just made up the business
of the 100 Chinese silences —
the Silence of the Night Boat,

and the Silence of the Lotus,
cousin to the Silence of the Temple Bell
only deeper and softer, like petals, at its farthest edges.

A New Beginning

The bumble of the dryer
as it warms my clothes

The inaudible hum of the light
over my table

The creaking of the wood floor
beneath my socked foot

Small sounds, keeping me company
in the lonely nights of the
pen sitting on the paper
Unmoved, unmoving.

And I select an orange
Close the fridge with a tap

Return, working the peel,
my fingers nimble here
in the familiar task

Stripping through skin
Into the pith

The juice drips down,
through my fingers,
onto the page,
the neglected pen

Writing a poem
for my eyes, my stomach
and the comfortable rush
of the heated air
through the vents.

Fare Forward, Travellers

'Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging;
You are not those who saw the harbour
Receding, or those who will disembark.
Here between the hither and the farther shore
While time is withdrawn, consider the future
And the past with an equal mind.
At the moment which is not of action or inaction
You can receive this: "on whatever sphere of being
The mind of a man may be intent
At the time of death"—that is the one action
(And the time of death is every moment)
Which shall fructify in the lives of others:
And do not think of the fruit of action.
Fare forward.

--TS Eliot, The Four Quartets, "The Dry Salvages"