You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2010.

Today’s guest poet — Darryl Price

The Last Time

we met you wanted to
be hungrily kissed in
the dark with a small moon
for your only pillow
and just stars for your billowing

nightgown.  How am I
to go forward with so
much sweet chaos in my
mind?  I am wrecked upon
your lips like a delirious

dilapidated
old sailor who embraces
the surrounding
sea like it’s an arrow
through a sad thirsty heart.

I wrote before about losing my friend Andrew to a tragic accident on September 1.  Today was the day of his memorial service here in Boulder.  I had definitely shed a few tears, but as is often the case with me, I had delayed my reaction to his death for several weeks.  I was tearful through most of the service, but once I hugged our friend C.J., the emotional dam cracked.  I started to weep.  After composing myself slightly, I sat and watched the slide show that Drew’s nephew had put together; then I lost it.  Just lost it.  The dam broke.  His dear friend Tom came and sat with me, clearly beaten down by his own grief, and let me cry.  He gave me one of Drew’s many (many) bandanas to cry in, to dry my tears, to remember him by.  Then I got better.

It is so hard to know that he is gone, that I won’t see him again. SO hard.

This celebration of Andrew was exactly what he would have wanted.  It was exactly what he DID want.  All his friends together, from all over the country, telling stories, laughing, crying.  So many of us walked away today with the same resolution – to be like Andrew and keep connected with our friends.   If there was one thing that stands out for me about him, it was his remarkable gift for staying in touch, for caring across the miles, for making sure you KNEW that he cared.  The best way that any of his friends could possibly honor him is to live our lives in that same spirit – the spirit of letting our friends know that they are not forgotten, not alone.  That is the simple, priceless legacy of this oh-so-human man.

One of the nicest things about today, aside from seeing some old friends, was making a new one.  What a wonderful surprise, what a wonderful gift, that I sat next to a woman I had met before, and we discovered we hit it off like we’d known each other for years.

I had been talking with a friend about this last night, about how bad I am at staying in touch with people who I love.  After today, I am more resolved than ever to change that facet of myself, to shed my own perception of myself as someone others don’t care about staying in touch with.  That perception is built solely by me and my own actions.  If I don’t like it, I can do something about it.  And that something will allow my life to be fuller and richer, just as Andrew’s was.  He never did anything halfway, and no one who knew him could say that his life was half-lived.  There were bad times and wonderful times, and he lived them all to the fullest extent possible.  The pictures of him on the slide show, on the cubes on the tables, all showed his joy.  I now wish I had been able to share in that joy even more than I did.

Of course, Andrew was there.  Towards the end of the afternoon, I experienced that odd shamanic phenomenon of seeing his face in others, just a glance, a glimpse, and it was gone.  On top of my visit with him a few days after his passing, it made sense – he did love to play and no one loved a good party better than Drew.  And he wanted so much to be sure that everyone was okay – especially Sarah.  He is playing now, playing with his new abilities to stay in touch with the people he loved.  He is smiling, as always.

His sister and his friends did a wonderful job arranging everything, expressing their feelings, and helping all of us remember the joy that was Andrew.  I thank them.  And I thank members of his railroad family for coming.

But most of all, I thank Andrew for having been a part of my life.  I miss him.

I haven’t made an entry into the Divorce Diaries for a while.  That’s because there’s been nothing really to say.  It is what it is.  It’s not awful.  Pat and I are getting along just fine.  Kelsea and I are getting along great.  Pat and Kelsea are getting along well.  She doesn’t try to push us together.  She has suggested things like taking a family vacation, and I’ve told her that the family profile is different now, and we won’t all three be going on any trips together.  She’s okay with that.  Pat has expressed an interest in taking her on a trip – I think he’s a little jealous of the good times she and I have had when we’ve gone away.  That would be very nice for both of them.

Yesterday would have been our 20th wedding anniversary.  I thought of it in passing after I dropped Kelsea off at school.  Several years ago, before I had finally had enough, I was planning a special trip for us for this anniversary – Italy, or Greece, or Turkey – just the two of us.  It was not to be.  But I’ll get to those places myself someday.  I had a momentary sadness, but truly, it was just a moment.  Then, I pulled up in front of my old house to pick up something for Kelsea, and completely forgot about it.  Pat didn’t give any indication that he remembered.  (We actually both had a hard time remembering the exact date; one of his brothers gave us an anniversary clock with the date engraved on it, and we always had to check the clock to be sure.)

So 8 months after the divorce, strange to say, it feels like a more comfortable relationship.  He still make comments that grate on me, but I don’t feel compelled to spit back, and I don’t take them to heart.  I know that I can just leave.  But for the most part, we chat, we confer on Kelsea issues, we do each other favors, we hand off our daughter, I pay child support, he’s not asking me for money, I don’t ask him about his projects/finances.  I guess it’s a friendship.  Maybe that’s what it was supposed to be all along.

It bothers me a little bit that I can only remember the most loving times vaguely.  Perhaps there’s too much water under the bridge.  Or perhaps it’s an internal mechanism to help the healing process.  I really don’t know.  I just know that we’re both moving on.  And that’s just fine.

Today’s guest poet  —  Algernon Charles Swinburne.

Hendecasyllabics

In the month of the long decline of roses
I, beholding the summer dead before me,
Set my face to the sea and journeyed silent,
Gazing eagerly where above the sea-mark
Flame as fierce as the fervid eyes of lions
Half divided the eyelids of the sunset;
Til I heard as it were a noise of waters
Moving tremulous under feet of angels
Mutitudinous, out of all the heavens;
Knew the fluttering wind, the fluttered foliage,
Shaken fitfully, full of sound and shadow;
And saw, trodden upon by noiseless angels,
Long myserious reaches fed by moonlight,
Sweet sad straits in a soft subsiding channel,
Blown about by the lips of winds I knew not,
Winds not warm with the south nor any sunshine;
Heard between them a voice of exultation,
“Lo, the summer is dead, the sun is faded,
Even like as a leaf the year is withered,
All the fruits of the day from all her branches
Gathered, neither is any left to gather.
All the flowers are dead, the tender blossoms,
Are all taken away; the season wasted,
Like an ember among the fallen ashes.
Now with the light of the winter days, with moonlight,
Light of snow, and the bitter light of hoarfrost,
We bring flowers that fade not after autumn,
Pale white chaplets and crowns of latter seasons,
Fair false leaves (but the summer leaves were falser),
Woven under the eyes of stars and planets
When low light was upon the windy reaches
Where the flower was blown, a lily
Dropt among the sonorous fruitless furrows
And green fields of the sea that make no pasture:
Since the winter begins, the weeping winter,
All whose flowers are tears, and round his temples
Iron blossom of frost is bound for ever.”

On the last night of our roadtrip, aka The Ear, Kelsea and I shared a bed at the St. James Hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico.  We hadn’t had to share beds very often – once in Durham, and once in Tucumcari, New Mexico – but it was perfectly fine when we did.  (She no longer kicks me constantly at night when we share a bed.)

In the middle of the night, she reached out for my hand, gave it a kiss, told me she loved me, and fell back asleep holding my hand.  It was incredibly special.  It was made even more special when, the next morning when I told her how much I had liked it, she didn’t remember doing so.  It was an act of love for me that rose from somewhere in the deep unconsciousness of her dreaming self, adding a purity of spirit to an already pure gesture.

I will always treasure that memory.

Today’s guest poet — Sara Teasdale (her poems have really been speaking to me lately)

Sea Longings

A thousand miles beyond this sun-steeped wall
Somewhere the waves creep cool along the sand,
The ebbing tide forsakes the listless land
With the old murmur, long and musical;
The windy waves mount up and curl and fall,
And round the rocks the foam blows up like snow,
Tho’ I am inland far, I hear and know,
For I was born the sea’s eternal thrall.
I would that I were there and over me
The cold insistence of the tide would roll,
Quenching this burning thing men call the soul,
Then with the ebbing I should drift and be
Less than the smallest shell along the shoal,
Less that the sea-gulls calling to the sea.

As we drove home from Wyoming on Monday, I noticed a plume of smoke rising from the mountains.  “That’s not good, ” I said to Kelsea.  “It’s too windy.”  Looks like I was right.

Boulder is a good place to live.  But like anywhere else, it has its risks, and fire is one of them.  We’ve been fairly lucky this year, until now.  I recall a fire last year that glowed red in pockets in the moutainside in the darkness.  Many years ago, when Pat and I still lived in town, the Black Tiger fire burned and burned in Boulder Canyon.  It was so close to our apartment that I could see the hot spots burning on the hills as I lay in bed at night.  And that was scary.

The summer of the Hayman Fire, some years back, was our worst summer in my memory; it burned tens of thousands of acres.  The Fourmile Fire has burned less than 10,000 acres, but the same number of homes as were lost in the Hayman Fire.  The foothills of Boulder are pretty populated.  I’ve thought about living up there myself, and even these fires don’t deter me from considering that as an option.

That said, while the plumes of smoke still rise from the foothills (though yesterday’s brief rain was a godsend) and the haze still hangs in the air, it is painful to see the lands we love burn and the people we consider our neighbors lose so much.  Animals are wandering into town to escape the flames, and wildlife officials are telling the public to just leave them be – I guess they’ve gone through enough as well.

Kelsea and I took a lot of pictures on Monday – I’ll post some on MonkeyEye soon.

So say a few prayers to the weather gods to enlist their help for the firefighters; let’s put this one to rest.

Today’s guest poet  —  Sara Teasdale

Peace

Peace flows into me
   As the tide to the pool by the shore;
It is mine forevermore,
   It ebbs back not like the sea.

I am the pool of blue
   That worships the vivid sky;
My hopes were heaven-high,
   They are all fulfilled in you.

I am the pool of gold
   When sunset burns and dies –
You are my deepening skies,
   Give me your stars to hold.

“Oh, how cute!  Little goat testicles!…And look, there’s still some of the scrotum attached!”

This choice comment, enthusiastically proclaimed by Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, might as well be the slogan for the Travel Channel itself. 

As we know, I LOVE LOVE LOVE to travel.  I will go anywhere.  Literally anywhere.  And so when I started watching the Travel Channel  some years ago, I was thrilled.  But somehow, it has suffered a transformation clearly driven by ratings, demographics, advertisers, and number crunchers.

These days, it seems, the Travel Channel is not about travel.  It’s about one of several things:

– Eating, nay Gluttony – Man vs. Food, No Reservations (which to its credit, does include some interesting travel tales), Food Wars, Bizarre Foods, Food FInds, Food Paradise
– Wealth – Mega Yachts, Most Expensive Log Cabins, Most Fabulous Beach Houses
– Sex – World’s Sexiest Beaches, Bridget Does Every City Imaginable, Paradise Exposed
– Sports – Dhanni Circles The Globe, Bert the Conqueror
– Spooks – Ghost Adventures (about which I have already ranted here)

We still have Samantha Brown, and we had the wonderful program Meet The Natives.  Rachel Ray’s $40/day is pretty fair.  Otherwise, apparently the Travel Channel is marketing to wealthy men who would have to be pried from their armchairs with the Jaws of Life to actually get them to take a trip somewhere.  But they’d probably get confused and think the Jaws of Life was some tool to make eating easier. 

And so, Scripps Network Interactive, you have the unmitigated gall, the nerve to call this programming The Travel Channel?? 

To that, I say….goats testicles.

[I realized that I missed last week’s poem – I think that’s the first time I’ve done so in almost a year.]

Today’s guest poet  —  Rainer Maria Rilke

On Hearing Of A Death

We lack all knowledge of this parting.  Death
does not deal with us.  We have no reason
to show death admiration, love, or hate;
his mask of feigned tragic lament gives us

a false impression.  The world’s stage is still
filled with roles which we play.  While we worry
that our performances may not please,
death also performs, although to no applause.

But as you left us, there broke upon this stage
a glimpse of reality, shown through the slight
opening through which you disappeared: green,
evergreen, bathed in sunlight, actual woods.

We keep on playing, still anxious, our difficult roles
declaiming, accompanied by matching gestures
as required.  But your presence so suddenly
removed from our midst and from our play, at times

overcomes us like a sense of that other
reality: yours, that we are so overwhelmed
and play our actual lives instead of the performance,
forgetting altogether the applause.

September 2010
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