July 21: This is it?

July 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

This is the official end of my year-long project. But I am hooked now, so I am sure I will be blogging now and then for a while. Currently, my writing channels have opened up and I have some cleansing through poetry to do. Here is my last official poem/creative act for the year. I wasn’t sure that I would persist. But I did. And I am pleased. Not healed, not really better off than I was before, not smarter, happier, more balanced. But more fulfilled? Yes. More convinced that art will save my soul? Yes. More convinced that making art with kids is the best way to spend time with them? No, I already knew that. But I loved every minute of it.

And now for the poem.

The woman in the kitchen

Read a book to me
Buy me a scooter
Let me go to Marseille
Get out of the kitchen
Get out of the kitchen
Get out of the kitchen
Let me leave fingerprints on the glass
Let pigeons sit on the windowsill
Forget about stains on my pants
Get out of the kitchen
Let me make my own dinner
Leave the breadcrumbs on the floor
Maybe an invisible creature hungers for them
Don’t ask me again if I have eaten
Relax your shoulders
Don’t comb your hair
Let’s sit together and talk about life or nothing at all.

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July 19: A poem about herbs and babies

July 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

The last two days J. and I have been making things: he has worked on his doll for O. and has sewed on giant sewing cards. But I figured, that’s not so exciting. It’s all been seen. I quit the blog in two days. Thankfully, I have started writing. Therapeutic poems. I should have one done by my Sunday birthday. In the meantime, here is the first poem written for my daughter, a force of nature, and someone who gives me hope. The image for it came to me this morning as I was lying half awake.

I will crawl to your twelfth floor on my fat stable hands
and plant seeds on your balcony,
in your sallow barren hollow echoing flower box,
with my precise infant fingers.
Mints and sages and thymes and rosemaries and marjorams,
to overrun your neighbor’s balcony,
and your neighbor’s neighbor’s balcony.
And when late summer winds flare up,
I will laugh and clap my hands as new seeds start a revolution,
flying through unsuspecting windows into soups and noses and chairs and fertile soil,
so every flat can smell of purification, smudging, and hearty meals.

June 13: a poem

June 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Yesterday we made cards for teachers, and I will post the pictures of those tomorrow. It’s the end of the school year for the boy, and thank you notes are in order.

Today I am staying up late, being creative in planning my calculus course, but I know that no one wants to read about that.

So instead, here is a recent edit of an old poem, about the world as I would like it to be (with just a little bit of math thrown in).

Next Year

The circle is divided into 360 degrees.
We say: this is one year.
One year=Full circle
There is a knot on the boundary
at 90 degrees
at 180 there is a pasture
where clouds pose for sheep.
At 270 a nunnery to reconsider
what one is about to define as sin
the knot makes you trip
when you rush through the days

To be found within this circle:
* Fashion shows of naked bodies
naturally tanned
pregnant
aged
filled with joyous family meals
superstars in movies of close friends.
* Sketches of Spain.
* Intrepid circus acts with skeletons posing as monsters and little girls riding make-believe horses. Trapeze artists inevitably fall in love and breed children that can fly.
* Monkeys performing clever dances wearing huge sombreros and singing midnight serenades.
Not safe nevertheless pretty.

Outside of the circle there is nothing. Everything happens now and nobody dreams of crossing the boundary into
what is to transpire
what broke hearts.
All plans have the lifespan of 360 days.
When unfulfilled they wither –
– sad sight for those who form attachments.
Others cheer.
In the future there will be no disasters
one thinks.

To appease astronomers, the mystery of five missing days must be settled. These are the five days of pagan rites. The naked bodies celebrate being born. The celebration takes place on a different plane where the circle can’t even be detected. The number of dimensions one deals with is inconsequential: those without height are not missing out on sunsets or parabolic movements of UFOs come to collect the human crops. All is one and nothing is left behind to rot.

May 15: Don’t give up on me yet

May 16, 2013 § 1 Comment

The work is endless, there is a mouse gnawing under a hutch three feet away from me, and we have a new pet that refuses to eat. I am tired and the world seems too strange for words. This too will end however, and tomorrow is the coffee shop day when we are free to create some art. As a consolation prize, here is a happy little poem from my more optimistic days:

Surprises…

… putting a hand in your back pocket and finding a $20 bill
that you use to buy fresh strawberries or a brand new sky-colored winter cap –
embelished with white clouds and blue
embelished with magical coulds and the blues.

… going through a pile of eaten chestnuts and finding another one still warm
to share; split into almost equal parts, the friend gets the bigger one
in a world called Easy
in a world called Upside-down where nothing is missing and no one.

May 4: sleep?

May 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

I can’t keep my eyes open. Here is a old poem because today I cheated (read: did not find myself worthy of any free time) and did nothing creative, if you don’t count buying plants, baking cinnamon rolls, and playing with children.

This poem is kind of personal…

The red tent

The red blanket was big enough to turn the dining room table into a tent
or so memory claims. The Family used it for picnics at the time the house was being built
to sit on the concrete before there were walls, on weekends,
two lone oak trees in what once had been a forest, first used to hang a hammock
then used as a threat: this is where they would find him hanging someday
The Father’s dreamhouse sunk into the ground, visited on a rare Sunday;
crooked windows, smell of burning rosewood (His secret to tastier meat)
sanctuary for unlucky toys banished from the first home, for great-grandmother’s wooden farmhouse, for memories of looking at stars, asking about forever:
when He knew the answers, when he told stories about fearless parrots, when he advertised evenings of tales about make-believe travels on the Zambezi with a crayon-drawn flyer, taped on the bedroom door, when he knew everything,
when it wasn’t worth much
The red blanket at the age of five could be draped over the table and reach the floor on all four sides
this shelter, once lost, was never to be discovered again
all refuges nowadays are igloos, icy and unsure
but this one had no visitors, uninvited or otherwise
a womb cave looking like a terrible tunnel
from the outside
on the inside a red-lit cave where books piled sky high
where dolls told stories too strange to remember
never to be retold:
dolls with huge eyes that blink don’t come from this world
they put a hex on you so you can never tell stories again
but instead compel you to repeat nonsensical sentences you heard before you awoke
under the red light of the blanket that once was
haunted by The Father and his emergency yellow plastic bag he held on to in case he decided to leave in the middle of the night

 

April 9: can’t stay awake

April 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Here it is, midnight. I spent the day in meetings, and unsuccessfully trying to put O. to sleep. Now my classes are ready for tomorrow, and I have no energy left in me. On such days, I pretend I am being creative by pulling out some things I wrote long ago when I had time to think about poetry.  I do long for some semblance of normal living. Sleeping 4-5 hours a night for almost a whole year is bound to do you in.

This from my unpublished manuscript:

 

21. Religion of found objects #1

There was a nomadic tribe that made detachable altars of white-painted wood.
When in the morning they traveled on
they would pull apart the pieces
rusted nails sticking out
gaping into the heavens
and wrap them in a cloth
most stains on it unidentifiable
the usual ones
sperm and blood but also
magic and oils and more
even gasoline
what went (on) inside the cloth
is now unknown
Some called it the religion of found objects
What they left behind:
rocks and cow dung, doll limbs and dry leaves, handkerchiefs stolen from ladies in caravans
action figures and plush elephants
even dangerous things pills and canes with strange carvings and sharp endings
and sometimes even a small figure of Mary or Jesus they would find tossed (who knows how) but these they didn’t understand: the troubled expressions on their faces

 

 

April 4: Nostalgia

April 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have always been prone to melancholy. This I have actually always enjoyed. It’s a productive emotion, which can result in  good poetry. This recent feeling I have had lately, of utter fear of the world, is not at all productive, and is in fact so draining that I may have to snap out of it, get over it, and start living again. Or, as Mrs. Dalloway said, “She always thought that it was dangerous to live, even for a day. ” (I paraphrase).

So for the sake of good old melancholy feeling, tonight I offer an old melancholy poem reminiscing of childhood.

The croquet game

Cornell’s boxes are reliquaries of days when imagination reigned. They are inviting us, of course, to start our childhood revelries all over again.— Charles Simic.

The landscape of The Childhood pressed upon outer layers of the mind
(a cloth laid over the brain, to write on or to burn letters in)
like a nose of the saddened child watching someone leave,
unexpectedly, maybe for the first time,
maybe never having known what it is to be left behind
like pressed flowers; the aroma of death
of a childhood hobby taken up for one afternoon only
to be abandoned for ant farms to be abandoned for journals and poems
nevertheless a permanent faint urge to press purple flowers
between pages of a children’s encyclopedia
to find years later like the sweetest surprise
sweeter than gifts wrapped in shining paper
sometimes to be sought in dark corners of rooms
touched by spider webs, shining bright silver
The landscape of The Childhood:
swamp air – unsure – wavering – withering – levitating
misty hedges in the distance barely visible
English dream landscapes
afternoon tea, pink china, delicate silk napkins
(Chinese, collected meticulously over the years
now stored in The Mother’s attic, in a shirt box
surely to induce tears
surely)
mildewy looming rain
well watered soft grass porous
hedgehog holes filled with treasures
glittery jewelry not worth a dime
old toys lost in tall grass
Never to be found Never to be let go of
sometimes inciting more sadness than tragedies of friends

February 25: Late at night

February 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Thumbelina underground

i.

(Thumbelina and the swallow)
touch death
frozen beak, crystal eyes,
pull out feathers for potions and protections,
tunnels, cataracts,
to be  spring, not queen of the underworld,
but if the swallow does not revive, then
a toad’s wife
everything breaks

ii.
A buried child grows a little creature in his heart. Its teeth are soft and green like sea grass. It can only chew mud and fog. Fog is always warm, especially in the centers of trees, especially in the heart of the forest. His heart will break many times. I give thanks.

iii.

White starched curtains cover the body on the outside. There is lace on the bottom. The insides are lined with torn red bloody cloth, exposed to the wind. The body’s front door has been open. This is no spring cleaning. The hidden inner crevice contains a bird, a cauldron, a tree. All have been broken many times, looking weathered and dignified, an antique store back room treasure.

iv.

Oh, to live life with a two-beat delay:
no moment is meaningful until tomorrow,
let it happen tomorrow, today uncover only the magic of yesterdays.
We are never on time, even for spring.

v.
It is not simple being a child. He digs a tunnel in the ground with the help of his heart creature’s teeth. They emerge in new lands.

February 10: no time………

February 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have been running to stand still all weekend. The 100 papers are all graded, but the house is not clean, lunch for tomorrow is not packed, and no art was made. Which is too bad, since I have made it to 200th post. I will do better tomorrow. As a consolation, here is something I wrote almost 10 years ago.The 5-10 minutes it took to find something decent enough to post should count as being creative, right?

Raise high the roof beam

Two brownstones were facing each other across a narrow English street. Their façades were remarkably similar in appearance; even their front doors were produced by the same maker. They eyed each other approvingly. All was in order: brick color, window-pane design, the fine slant of the roofs. But it just so happened that both houses were but movie sets, and behind their frontal structures, instead of a logical continuation of a shape of a house, each expanded into a surprising dimension, resembling the head of the Elephant man. And when each shifted to examine the other, for, as it turned out, both were products of Terry Gilliam’s imagination, and were able to move freely and devour streets and stray cats along the way, they discovered that they differed greatly, irreparably. It is not that one was tidy and the other grimy, or that one was opulent and the other decrepit – nothing so extreme. Rather, they contained dissimilar kinds of clutter. This caused great sorrow in at least one of them, for they were to forever remain in the clutches of perfectly polite discourse, complimenting each other’s impeccable façade, praising the carpenters and perhaps the little children they believed to be playing inside, but nothing more.

And so am I with other mathematicians.

February 1: Love and beauty (and hokey titles)

February 2, 2013 § 2 Comments

Not that I am a fan of Valentine’s Day or anything, but I just felt like making a pink and purple Valentine-ish collage/card tonight. Really, it was just an excuse to use a glue gun.

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O.  loved playing with all the ribbons and papers that came in the bag  of goodies I used, which was  nice, as I got to make a project while she was still awake, which usually doesn’t happen.

And then I finished a poem. This is as happy as my poems get, which is worrisome, I guess…

I who am beautiful
– on the inside
– to my children
– to others’ dogs
– occasionally
– in mirrorless rooms

Was caught on a tightrope once in a dream carrying a sleeping baby under my arm with no balancing oversized umbrella but with sweaty armpits though glamorous
Was following a beautiful young boy once in East Village who wore an old army coat and photogenic windblown longish hair
Was invisible to him and idle wanting to see where beautiful boys go

I who was beautiful in my invisibility
I who was beautiful in my solitude
I who was beautiful in my safe distance
I who was beautiful in the vastness of the city

Was hiding bread under the table once when I was younger than my children are disappearing into its white softness when my mother was not looking
Was loving all the little girls I have ever seen who remind me of me and hide other breads in their pockets

I who was beautiful in my inadequacy
I who was beautiful in never being full
I who am beautiful for never having enough
I who was beautiful in my clumsiness

Was walking without an umbrella to balance me between me and me
glamorous wearing clothes that belonged to someone who died in her sleep & I didn’t even wash them because we never met her and there was something I wanted to ask her

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