Tuesday, January 24, 2017

This land is my land

Things that kept me awake: whether my alarm clock would work, whether my back-up alarm clock would work, a lie my husband may be telling me, my daughter's education and future, my son's education and future, my doctor's appointment, the dog's broken claw, a story I'd edited perhaps with an error, the source of certain information (I got out of bed to check this), the story I had to write the next morning, dry skin, my son's sleeping hours, whether I should go to the bathroom (I did), whether I was warm enough (I got a sweater), or too warm (I took off the sweater), my lung capacity, why must I have a body, why must I have a mind, one or both of these are keeping me awake, the disaster administration, the glow of the energy saver strip, electromagnetic-wave pollution in the home, the earth, how miserable I'd be in the morning, the future of public lands.

(erasers by Anu Tuominen) 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Misery 33

One of the found poems I wrote using Stephen King's Misery, The Wreck, is up at Sixth Finch.

I'm still working on this project, but am thinking of moving on soon, maybe to another book. A motivating factor behind Misery was I had to do it - it was my assignment as part of a larger group. I worry that if I choose the book, I might give up too easily when I hit a rough spot.

So far I've done about 40 Misery poems, half of which are worth submitting. Five of those have already been accepted somewhere.
I'd like to use thread a bit more, though I've got collage material out the wazoo. 

And every day the paper boy brings more. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

On an otherwise dismaying day

When we got to the last station this morning I found a personless backpack at my feet. I thought, whoops, pretty sad to forget your backpack on the UBahn. My second thought was, well, this is an "unattended baggage" problem that doesn't need to be mine.

But then it was, & I hadn't sat next to anyone shady -- a 20-something woman listening to music, then a middle-aged man head over heels in love with his companion, headed out of town judging by their bags. But I was engrossed in a Kent Haruf novel about compassionate people on the Great Plains and hadn’t paid much attention. The UBahn lights went off, which means GET OUT so I grabbed the backpack and got out. 

I felt bad rifling through the backpack but no way but forward. The wallet was stuffed with Swiss francs & the plastic had a male name so I knew it was the man's. There was also a phone, laptop, glasses, gloves & files. I thought, ok, this guy is on his way to Switzerland minus some very important stuff, which he's surely realized by now. I found the platform for the one train to Switzerland but didn't spot him. I went to lost&found but was told since I found it in the UBahn & not a long-distance train I had to go to another office downtown. Mr. X's long lovebird weekend would be ruined by the time all that played out. I kept hoping he'd call his phone, but alas. I thought about how unmoored I'd be without my glasses. 

I went to my office & burrowed deeper into his things. I found his Twitter profile but he never tweeted & there was nothing revealing otherwise. In his wallet I unearthed a Swiss consulate ID. I called the consulate & got the robot who says "if you are calling about A push B, etc." Finally I pushed 86 & got a human & explained the situation & asked how I could reach this man or talk to a colleague. I was put on hold. A few minutes later a breathless woman came on & said the man had just called & gee what luck & was I British that's some accent & she took my number & said he'd call. He was at the police station at the train station. I hadn't known there was one.

Soon after he rang & I said I worked nearby & could bring the backpack over. I worried he'd be offended that I looked through his stuff, which was absurd. I asked a station worker where the police station was & I was standing right next to it. So much for my sleuthery! I remembered the old New Yorker cartoon of a man standing below a sign that said "The Illiterate Club" who asks, 'Hey, where is The Illiterate Club?' It was more imperial in there than I expected, except for the guy and his girlfriend who were thrilled and a smiling police woman who downgraded the case from theft to forgetfulness. The guy handed me 50 euros but of course I said no thanks. Go on your trip and give it to someone who needs it, I said in the spirt of my reading.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Slow to ignite

I was early for an appointment so I went to the English section of the bookstore, which I was sorry to see had shrunk, yielding to a stupid section of Frankfurt paraphenalia. My eyesight has grown so poor I have to keep taking my glasses off and putting them back on - on to scan the bookshelf, off to peruse the book in my hand. I found a short story collection by Lucia Berlin - such a European name, though it looks like she never left America. She grew up somewhere obscure and moved to Texas and NY, like everyone. She was an alcoholic with a back brace and multiple sons. I was surprised to read that the bright-eyed, coiffured woman on the cover was her - I thought it was a character. I read three stories including ‘Macadam,’ which begins “When fresh it looks like caviar,” then the bio, how her last marriage was to a guy named Something Berlin and I thought —until it dawned on me at dinner— wow, weird that she ended up with a guy with the same last name as her…

Sunday, January 01, 2017

I Can't Expect to Avoid Anger & Brooding


I’m thinking of living forever.
I think that way I might finally
get my gig straight and solve the crosswords.
I’m considering outlasting everyone
although I know I’d have a hard time
explaining not having read Ulysses
past the first chapter.
I don’t care if death smells like nutmeg.
I don’t buy the plotline on eternal rest.
By staying alive someday
I might manage to hail a taxi,
and fulfill my father’s wish
of reaching town without a red light.
I couldn’t expect to avoid anger or brooding
or to make the journey with my beasts appeased.
But I might walk vast expanses
of earth and always be beginning
and I love beginning
or could learn 
to love it.
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