Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I remember reading once that on receiving news of a death, one of the Presidents just held onto the receiver of the Oval Office phone for a long time, not hanging it up. It was like that. Eons of the even, deep tone on the other end. The softening of the blue glow from the cell-phone face. The sound broken off at some point by the whirling, pummeling edge of sleep. I awoke to the mustard-yellow flowers, cupping turquoise circles on the quilt. And then, the smothering descent of my memory.
Medium blue pulmonary, slipping down the page before me like a river. I followed it, eyes feeling the page for a cluster of arteries that marked highway nine. Another three hours, at least. I had already asked him if his Grandad’s funeral in
I closed my eyes on the dusty heat, pressing the map against my chest, pretending that the map’s lines were mine, veins and arteries pulled to the surface like shipwrecks, held by a web of cranes. This time last year I was in
That’s how I learned about jigai. Laura had bought an illustrated history of
Ritual suicide, the book had called it. Women were given the twin attributes of being unable to bear pain (Laura and I had sniggered at that.) and being prone to solitude. They were expected, unlike the men who partnered to flay one another at the stomach, to use a six-inch knife to undo the jugular vein in themselves. This method—jigai—provided minimum disfiguration to the pallor and grace of the aristocrats, and saved them from dishonor in the form of rape by a conquering army.
When my eyes opened again, we were pulling off the interstate.
“Where are we?”
“Oh, about to
I sat up, wiping under my eyes and stretching the skin to the corners, pulling my pointer finger back to observe the black smudges of mascara.
“You want anything, baby? A coke or something?”
“Yeah, a coke’s fine.” I felt my limbs were heavy, and doubted I’d drink anything. Already, I felt the bile rising again. I thought about a lecture I’d been to on the morose melancholy of the Romantics, and tuberculosis. 160 miles to Winnsboro.
I imagined Grandpa, with his pleated pants, staggering out to the brick walk; I could see the dappled sunshine in his drive, the way it would layer over the sunspots and age-spots folded into his face over the years. Last time I was there, he had made a diagram, taping her medicines to a piece of foamboard, with labels…Zoloft, Diatrepamin, Seratraline, Chloranopam…pink, white, gel, powdery, indented or carved with tiny characters, they stuck on like pinned insects. (To the right, in parenthesis, the number of times daily they must be swallowed.) He’d started turning her plate, so she’d notice all her food, and had taken her white Chrysler away by then.
How could I go bravely into that dark night now? She used no knife, just the pink ceramic bathtub put in by his first wife, and too many pills. If I must go like that, I will tie down my thighs to my shins and face away from the door first. I wouldn’t want to be found wearing the contorted mask of death.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
FICTION WRITING IS WHAT I THOUGHT I wanted to do when i grew up. But, college came, and my dreams of writing semi-biographical novels went under with the tide, and I started eating, sleeping, breathing poetry. I blame my professors. Now, senior year of college, i find myself back in the driver's seat of short-stories. And they seem to be crashing and burning. I know that short story is kind of the way in which we live our lives--anecdotes, flashbacks, an afternoon filled to the brim with associations and memories melds into a life lesson or tacit metaphor...
It's just that I don't know how! I am becoming used to the peculiar agony of revising poems...revisiting every word a thousand times, losing sleep over the inclusion or exclusion of a certain image...did i close the door well enough? Does the reader get it? Did i bang him/her over the head with it? Does it even make sense?
This, I understand. Short story? Like, characters and dialog and description and stuff!? Like WHOLE SENTENCES? Parameters...rules...pagessssss? Somewhere along the line in the last five years, I have forgotten what it is to write a short story. So, I end up doing what I'm doing now-- pacing around, sighing, picking the cat hairs off my shirt and pants (he likes to help me write...by getting between me and the keyboard...), staring at the monitor, thinking that I know thousands of beginnings to stories...but nothing i can use. If I was any way-cooler writer from the past, I would be smoking a pack of cigarettes and cracking open a bottle of brandy to open the floodgates. But, since my writing process seems to take so long, it's probably better if I don't shave any years off my life just yet.
More from the hopelessly stumped short story writer soon... Se la vie.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Laced tributaries formed
a watershed of dark
hair, hung like thread
at the base of a loom,
Your short, papery fingers
pushed the blonde from your face
with nails like clean plates, encircled
by skin pulled back like fins
on the belly of a fish.
The foggy bathroom smelled of lemon.
The juice ran slick
and clouded with distended,
lucent, yellow fibers
from a plastic bottle
you kept in the fridge.
Wavy, wet hair basted.
Sent into the yard
to swing between willow
and pinked mimosas,
until the sun
offered enough gold
to wreathe it.
beside benches leading
to the Hirshorn
and through a gate.
to watch daylight drain
from the sky.
Four common sparrows:
brazen, blushed in sun
flashed first their dark-spotted overcoats,
then smooth, magnolia-blossom underbellies.
While they rose and dove
like bobbins through water,
embroidering the open-faced,
their high-pitched warble
kip, kip, kip, zeee carried over.
side-by-side, on a cement moon
planted in red brick,
I caught them all—
two facing, one’s back turned,
and the crowning glory—
his wings pitched back to the full
with invisible marionette strings;
his profile a fine cameo—
short beak, tail feathers tucked but splayed.
he looks like swinging ivory
against the stenciled, bare tree tops.
And I can hear Gabriel saying, “Do not be afraid…”