sky where roof used to be

Sky where roof used to be
where everything you’ve lost is found
air full of past
burn destructed and then reborn

belonging in harm’s way
courting gratitude
for memories held that don’t
wisp away like smoke
embers fall from grace

ledges of life
roughly reassembled
out of synchronicity
papery images of past

going home
I drive by
burned roof open to moving sky

This poem was inspired by actual events (I guess all poems are, in one way or another).

One morning, driving to school, we noticed that a house on a street near the school had partially burned. My youngest daughter remained fascinated by the sight of it for weeks, as did I. We wondered what the story was: who lived there, were they OK, and what caused the fire?

Then the story appeared in our local paper. A woman had lived in the house with her cat, she had Alzheimer’s. Her son lived next door. Early one morning she was sitting out on her front porch when a neighbor (not her son) noticed the fire and helped get her off the porch and save her cat. She may have left the burner on, heating water for tea, she can’t remember. No one was hurt in the fire and everyone is grateful. It was her dream house, it will be rebuilt.

A few days later, driving by the remains of the house I was struck by the phrase, “sky where roof used to be” as through the jagged hole in the damaged roof you could see the juxtaposed blue sky and the clouds moving through it. I was inspired to construct a poem based on that phrase and the story of the woman, and wanted to have a photo of the damaged roof with the sky. I kept meaning to stop and take the photo. One evening, driving home from back to school night, I remembered again that I needed to take that photo. I kept driving as I felt the pull to get home as I’d been gone for several hours. Then something inside compelled me to turn back and actually get the photo taken.

The next morning I drove by the house again and the roof remains had been demolished to make way for the rebuild.

I finished this poem a few days later.

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Poems wisdom transfer

In an age if sound bit spoonfeeding
is it fair to require so much work?

interpretation through experience
(and dictionary consultations)
to unlock
the hidden meaning in your prose
or pride?

without accessibility, what is it but idle
fodder for the trained elite
to be discovered and dismissed?

yet answers gotten freely
through no effort of your own
blow off quickly in idle winds as well
so what is the poet and the philosopher to do
but embrace the unraveled paradox
as truth

with me, the bride of cleverness,
(overlooking it’s divisive powers)
seeking unity.

What did I do today? (and confusing the Davids)

osm1

When I have the time, I spend my day like a gatherer, a gatherer of information-some of which will hopefully ferment with enough experience to become actual wisdom.  Since I can not totally neglect my mother, homeowner, wife, volunteer and paid work duties for too long, my knowledge gathering days are also interspersed with other more (immediately) practical task days as well.  I find that at the end of either of these types of days, I can’t really list of what I have done in detail.  It all becomes part of some vague balancing of doing and being that is my life, but to try to retell it makes it seem dull and meaningless.  To me, that is far from the truth of it.  It’s kind of like why I feel like I am not a good story-teller or joke teller.  I can usually remember the beginning and the end/punchline/lesson, but the details in between get lost, and those are generally the meat, the buildup, of the story or joke.

I’ve talked to other mothers about the peculiar insignificance of our daily tasks.  Many days are primarily composed of what approximates 40, five-minute tasks.   Each task, while requiring completion, in and of itself is insignificant and should not be committed to memory.  None of the tasks requires rocket-science brain power,  just time.  But the math is clear, 200 minutes (5X40), or 3.3 hours of stuff that can only be described as… stuff.  Stuff:  put a few dishes in dishwasher, pick dirty socks up off couch, make a pediatrician appt., follow-up on school book fair info, pay club fees for soccer season, follow-up on confusing email about trip to the museum that I’m chaperoning, look for recipe for dinner tonight, send work related email, confirm carpool arrangements for tomorrow… you get the gist.  These are interspersed with a few other more time-consuming and significant tasks (that sometimes come from a hastily scratched, ever running, daily to-do list), and the bulk of my “kids are at school” hours are filled.

Looking at the “task days” as compared to my “information gathering days,” some ironic similarities and discrepancies surface.  Info gathering generally starts out with a specific purpose, something I have happened upon or thought about prior, that I want to follow-up or do more research on.  Today as an example.  Recently I listened to a “This American Life”  episode on NPR with Ira Glass.  While I’ve probably listened to the show before, it hadn’t really been notable to me until this recent listen.  Now of course I can’t remember what that specific episode was about (here’s the part where I’ve forgotten some relevant details which would make my story a good one), but it led me to look up the show online and listen to many of the excerpts from past shows that were played during the 500th show review highlights.  As part of that, I happened upon one of Ira’s highlights, which was an episode about Americans living in Paris and included Ira touring around with David Sedaris.  Except for some reason, as I was starting the episode, I got it into my head that it was David Foster Wallace that Ira was talking with.  And this led to a huge “does not compute” warning in my brain.  I have read works from both DS and DFW and liked them for entirely different reasons, combine this with having listened to DFW’s Kenyon College commencement speech a few years back, and I was thoroughly and utterly confused.  Here’s what’s running through my head… “DFW’s voice is much higher than I remember it and he’s much gayer than I would have thought…he’s much more odd too…his persona does not match his writing at all, I would have expected more of a quieter, intellectual type person.”   And then I had to go to bed, as it was too late for me to be up anyway.

Over several days I kept trying to reconcile the gap between who I thought DFW was, and who he seemed to be in this interview.  Today I vowed to look into it, as something just wasn’t right.  And sure enough, after a few google searches, the mystery was solved. I’d had the wrong David in my head.  This process then rekindled my admiration of all things DFW, and I watched several interviews that were done with him before his untimely death in 2008.  Somehow in that process (again, not sure of the details here) I ended up on a tangent of reading things about and from Leo Tolstoy, quotes from his “Calendar of Wisdom,” and vowed to myself that once I finish slogging through his “The Kingdom of God is Within You”  (and it is a slog, while there are some gems in the text, you have to get through a lot of other less interesting, more preachy stuff, to find them), I will read his “War and Peace” once and for all.  (I’m not sure how I got through high school and college without ever having that book as required reading.)   Which then somehow led me to looking at some excerpts from Susan Sontag’s published diaries “As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh.”

Through some mystical process, much of this fabulous knowledge then somehow osmosisly (not a real word) disperses into what is already in my consciousness and congeals itself into my broad philosophies of life.  However, to go back and try to pick out individual quotes, philosophies, beliefs to share with others is next to impossible.  It’s there, but just not as a separate, identifiable entity.  I could not tell you specific sources for individual threads of knowledge and belief, rather I could (only in writing) give you the bibliography of all that’s contributed to my philosophy of life.   However, this bibliography does not actually exist, so perhaps I should add to to my running to do list, to be completed on a task day.

Which then would actually bring this blog post full circle.

Something to write

Photo on 2013-09-17 at 22.05I feel like I have to write something, anything. I have no idea where I am going with this post (which is unusual for me) but I can only hide from the fact that I have a neglected blog for so long.  I can only pretend that all of the ideas that keep materializing out of seemingly nowhere in my mind do not deserve to be voiced in print for so long.  So,  begrudgingly and ironically I am sitting down to write, today, now.  I could keep making excuses about how an unplanned 4 day hiatus from school (just a small natural disaster to blame) has left me with my 3 children at home and no time to write, but hey, this is my life and much of what happens in it, for better and worse, is unplanned.  The irony comes from the fact that in the not so recent past, I finished reading the book The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield.  While the gems that come from this book are too numerous to mention, one piece stuck with me, and I have been trying my hardest to deny it.  “There’s a secret that real writer’s know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard.  What’s hard is sitting down to write.  What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”   I could write the book on resistance (no pun intended).  Resistance is a good friend of mine, we go way, way back.  But what keeps playing over in my head, for months now, is that if you want to be a writer, you have to actually write.  Not a novel concept (wow I am funny today).  Yet some part of me, apparently the part of me that doesn’t think that I can/should/am good enough etc. to be a “real” writer, keeps winning out over the part of me that desperately wants to and needs to write.

For all of us that is the easier road, at least in the short run, to let the resistance win.  It has all the rational arguments, it has all the ammunition of why you will fail at what you want to do, it will not hesitate to tell you how childish and silly you are to think that you can be something or someone different than who you are today.  But if you’re lucky, that meek little voice inside you that’s telling you to be different, to start something new (or restart something from your past) will be persistent, will bounce back from the continual bullying blows of resistance, and one day will force you to be who you were meant to be. Having at least written something today, I’m starting a path towards evening the score with my own resistance.

 

haven’t been feelin’ it…

“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.” Ernest Hemingway

“There is an enormous distance between thinking and the act of writing.” Eric Hoffer

“I also noticed, as the months went by, how myths and legends came floating into my mind. It was some time before I realized that the myths dovetailed into a pattern, that they were telling a coherent story.”
Eric Hoffer

I haven’t been here (my blog) in a while. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve been trying not to beat myself up about not posting anything. Aside from some poetry that hasn’t felt relevant (or ready) to post here, I haven’t been writing much, and I guess that for the moment I am OK with that. I have been reading and thinking (two of my favorite activities) and have picked up some handy quotes in the interim, which I have posted above.

It seems that while living my life provides the material for my writing, that living also gets in the way of my writing. Fully living causes me to switch from observing life, to really being deeply engaged in life, which feels important to do (at least every once in a while). While I have been in a transition of sorts for several years now (could be my own little mid-life crisis), it seems that just recently my husband may have entered some transitions of his own too. And that’s a lot of transition for one household to handle, thus fueling my need to really be engaged in the living of my life/our lives currently.

I’ve been having a bit of a paradigm shift along with all of this, due to the reading I’ve been doing, a new church we’ve been attending and the realization that my assumptions about some of my husband’s motivations in life may have been way off the mark.

More on all of this I am sure will follow, when the writing compels me more than the living.