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Archive for November, 2006

Taos is on my mind. One from our group will be there soon for a week of silence. The three of us convened in Taos for a week in July of 2004, genesis for our relationship today as writers.

From my notebook during that July retreat I’ve selected six phrases. Some were topics we used and others came out in my writing. Pick one of the phrases. Don’t write on it right away. Hold it in your belly for two or three days. Then write. No word limit, but base your post on a practice of at least fifteen minutes.

Here are the phrases:

  • The last time I was in Taos
  • What’s good in my life
  • It was Fiesta weekend
  • Let it come to you
  • Sirens interrupting the caws of ravens
  • Pickles

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Gold Medal Flour, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 Gold Medal Flour, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, the building is now the Mill City Museum, all photos © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I’m pulled to write about the ordinary, the two mile chunk of land surrounding the Mill City Museum in a place once deemed “The Flour Milling Capital of the World” – Minneapolis. The riverbank near the “A” building of the old Washburn flour milling complex, under the Gold Medal Flour sign, has called to me since I moved to Minneapolis in 1984.

I was young. And lost. I had no job. I was searching. I used to take long drives by the urban snake of the Mississippi to clear my head. On those pilgrimages, I fell in love with West River Road, particularly the land closest to Saint Anthony Falls. Saint Anthony was originally the only falls on the upper length of the Mississippi River. And Spirit Island, sacred landmark to the Dakota, used to rise from the water to the west.

Legend has it that Dakota women would go to Spirit Island to give birth. But, at some point, industry, and a series of misrepresented treaty negotiations, got the upper hand, and the island was bulldozed away. I will never step foot on her. But ghosts of the old mill buildings rise like sentinels on my early evening motorcycle rides through the dense river odors and splatted mosquitoes of the humid Midwest summers.



    River Stems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.River Stems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.River Stems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



In July of 2003, I had just started to date Liz. The first time she rode on the back of my Honda Rebel, she had on knee length jean shorts, a tank top with plummeting cleavage, and white Doc Martens. It was humid and hot; the tail pipe sizzled when we motorcycled to the Mill City Museum opening.

The Minnesota Historical Society sponsored the event. The place was packed. We listened to a band she loved named Iffy and danced under an open air tent in the heat. By the time we made it into the museum, we were sweaty, and it was 15 minutes until closing. But it didn’t matter. I loved being there.

The original structure was designed by Austrian engineer William de la Barre and built in 1880. The Washburn A building is the predecessor to what would become the father to Betty Crocker’s wide-mouthed kitchen, General Mills. At its heyday, enough flour was generated from that building to produce 12 million loaves of bread a day. There was a volatile grain dust blast in 1882. And another fire in 1991 gutted the building.

After many incarnations, the building still stands. And the Mill City Museum won the 2005 Honor Award for Outstanding Architecture by the firm Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle. It’s easy to see why. The design encompasses both inside and out, leaves some of the enormous milling machines intact along the interior brick walls, and keeps the rough hewn rusticness alive. Minneapolis gummed its pink lipped baby teeth on Gold Medal flour, and seeing the city’s industrial roots is thrilling. It’s an eerie Matrix-like combo of old and new.



   Treads, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Treads, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Treads, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I was a few months away from moving in with Liz in July of 2006. The Guthrie Theater opened its new building by the river, complete with what a friend of mine calls “Jean Nouvel’s electrifying blue steel phallus” – an urban 4th floor cantilever that comes to a screeching midair halt, right next store to the museum.

Liz used to work for the Guthrie before its divorce from the Walker Art Center. She graciously bought tickets for me and her Mom to see F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby. We ate at a trendy restaurant cattycorner to Jean Nouvel’s “endless bridge” and people watched enter condos that seem to multiply like flies near the museum.

Even the elegant old Whitney Hotel closed and is being converted into million dollar sky dwellings. I used to drive by the North Star Blanket building across the street with the vine covered walls and wish I could afford to purchase a unit. Ten years ago my therapist told me to buy a condo when the West River Road concept was in its infancy. The Twin Cities warehouse-converted-to-artist-studio craze had just begun.

I never did buy. And now, here I am, living in a first ring suburb, but happy as a clam. I love the peace and quiet. And I don’t miss the crime. It’s perfect for a writer. But I do love to visit my beloved river haunts. I take the parkway drive whenever I go into the city.



Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



And at least once a week, I drive by the Mill City Museum, the Stone Arch Bridge built by James J. Hill, local railroad tycoon, and Bohemian Flats where I sat in the winter of 2005 in the middle of a snowstorm and watched a bearded man with a black beanie cap fly a yellow kite.

Bohemian Flats used to be a shanty town of immigrants; some of the local elite called them squatters. The immigrant population changed from year to year as out-of-towners migrated to the city to work in the mills and lumber yards.

As the ethnicity of the immigrants changed, so did the names used for the Flats:  Little Bohemia, Little Ireland, Connemara Near Bohemian Flats, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Patch, the Cabbage Patch, Little Lithuania, or the Danish Flats (the first couple to establish residence there was Danish). But Bohemian Flats is the one that stuck. I always liked the word “bohemian” for its artistic connotations. But the name Bohemian Flats is rooted in the Czech population that once settled there.

Bohemian Flats was driven to extinction in 1932 by eminent domain laws and a few porcelain skinned Northerners who may have had a hidden agenda. But this isn’t a political piece. (Is it?)

The two mile river corridor nestled close to downtown and curving by the Mill City Museum (that I lovingly call the Gold Medal building) is my little oasis in the city storm. In 1870, the population of Minneapolis was 13,000. By 1890, it had grown to 165,000 led by a powder keg of flour dust and the power of Saint Anthony Falls.

Estimates are that in 1900, only five percent of bread consumed was bakery-made. But by the time the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, bakeries were making 30 percent of the nation’s bread. Breaking bread became the great American past time.

In 2005, the population of Minneapolis/St. Paul was 647,000. I’m just a little doughboy dot, a blip over the falls of Minneapolis history. The lime and sandstone tiers on the two mile mill corridor by the Mississippi are magical in a Gold Medal Mill, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.snowstorm – and my Natural Wonder.

They say there were 79 steps down to Bohemian Flats, a place few dared to roam in the late 1800’s (except those seeking cheap housing or the free dead wood that floated down the river in spring). I can only imagine what it must have been like to survive a turn of the century Northern winter. But preservation of the history of places like Bohemian Flats, Mill City, the Stone Arch Bridge, Spirit Island, and Saint Anthony Falls makes it easier for me to time travel.

Ironically, what I sought in 1984 when I moved from the jagged tops of Big Sky Country to a bustling Midwestern metropolis, was peace and solitude. I found it in my drive-by views of the ghost town mills near sacred islands on the Mississippi, and brownstone buildings in constant battle with the elements.

I watched the Mississippi from a sidewalk cafe last summer. The old mills are alive with 21st century faces. Joggers, bikers, motorcyclists, Guthrie seekers, history buffs, the rich who inhabit the condos, and homeless vagrants who sometimes pass and sleep by the river.



-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, November 28th, 2007

-an essay about 5 Minneapolis Landmarks: the Mill City Museum, Bohemian Flats, the Stone Arch Bridge, Spirit Island, St. Anthony Falls, that started as a Writing Practice

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – NATURAL WONDERS

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Birth is a natural wonder. Those words refer to Dee and to this earth. How can I describe what it’s like having an eleven-year-old daughter? To the Natural History Museum today she wears a skin-toned tank top with black lace coverlet, blue jeans, and a pale pink tie in her hair. Her bangs fall around her China-doll face.

“Look, Mom,” she tells me as she debuts for the day, “I’m Violet Baudelaire.” Dee and Violet (from Lemony Snickett’s Series of Unfortunate Events) are pretty yet clever. (Always remember clever. Dee will never go for just pretty.)

A year ago–six months ago, in fact–Dee would be no one other than Dee. Play unencumbered by fashion. Digging a giant hole in the front yard–so what if high-water pants? Then suddenly this year, a subtle shift. This certain tank top from The Gap in Denver. We bought it on sale. Dee loves to wear it, although tank tops are taboo at her school. So she slips it into certain outings. Natural History Museum on a Sunday afternoon.

I birthed Dee in early fall of 1995. A roller coaster–that’s how I described pregnancy-to-birth. Being on the world’s highest roller coaster (which I’ve been on–The Viper in Six Flags Southern California), me screaming as the contraption click-clicked toward its pinnacle overlooking the entire amusement park. Are those specks the cars? I couldn’t even see people. You can scream your head off (I did) yet it won’t do a whit of good. The emaciated man with corn-cob teeth manning the controls on the ground can’t hear screams. They evaporate like steam into atmosphere.

When I used the roller-coaster analogy I didn’t realize I was talking about raising a child. I thought I was referring to the act of bringing another human into the world. Yet, the ride persists. I read today that it took six hundred million years after its birth for Earth to contain all the elements of modern life. Ocean, rivers, mountains, atmosphere, continents. After eleven years I wonder if I’ve delivered the most basic qualities: love, respect, self-confidence, compassion.

In the context of Earth’s six hundred million years, this particular day is not even a grain of sand. Not the cuticle on the left thumb of the person–what I presume to be a person–standing in the vicinity of the Ferris Wheel. Quartz, the most common mineral on earth, is more ancient and durable than me and my concerns. But I am a woman of today, aware that every moment I spend in my daughter’s presence is an opportunity. To be volcanic, gaseous, a tectonic plate pushing sea into land, land into mountains. Or a phantom–the invisible parent. (These are words from nature’s terminology. Phantom to quartz is the black vein-like formation inside the crystal, like tree rings symbolizing time on earth. In a human, phantom is the residue of childhood, what you take with you through years of therapy. Your true story.)

Dee and I walk from Earth’s Origins to Triassic Period, walk across the super-continent Pangaea, and I wonder as she peers at Coeleophysis, New Mexico’s state fossil, whether she will remember me as an erudite mother wandering museums on a holiday Sunday or as a guilty, preoccupied parent touting an occasional mother-daughter to-do. Do the museum visits override the time I slapped Dee in the car when she was two and wouldn’t stop crying?

I read the exhibit labels aloud but she doesn’t hear me. New Mexico two hundred million years ago was hot and humid. The year I birthed Dee was dry. We grew sunflowers taller than the top of the window. They bloomed bright yellow-orange and beckoned my pregnant belly to give forth its contents. Scream your head off, it doesn’t matter.

Both our favorite is Jurassic Period, the age of super giants. New Mexico was covered with conifers, cycads, and ferns–not juniper or sage. When Pangaea split apart, we were sea or were we coast along the sea? It doesn’t matter. Either way, I like this version of life. Ultimately we are everything. Placenta and child and blood and beating heart. Happiness and frustration.

Dee runs from the whip-tailed dinosaur (whose name I forget) to a young man with a ponytail, little more than a teenager himself, standing at a small table showing his dino-wares. He holds up a fossilized dinosaur thigh bone with quartz growing where the marrow used to be. He describes the process of crystallization, water sitting in the channel of the bone over many, many years. The crystals glimmer and I notice Dee is mesmerized.

“What’s this,” he asks, and he’s on to a smallish oval-shaped thing that looks like rusted metal. Dee is thinking. I watch her instead of generating answers myself. This is how it is with Dee these days. I’m consumed with her process of growing up. Fossilized dinosaur poop, or coprolite, as he prefers to call it. Dee and I look at one another. I raise my eyebrows, in awe of nature. What nature does she see in me?

“T-Rex had 150 teeth,” the young man says as he holds up a giant white fang the length of his hand. “T-Rex’s brain wasn’t as big as this one tooth,” the boy-man says dramatically. He looks at Dee expectant but she says nothing. She doesn’t even make eye contact. She knows not what to do with sex or sexuality, and I am only now aware of this small seed growing inside her.

“…so, you could say T-Rex definitely had more brawn than brain,” the boy-man says. I laugh at the punch line while Dee skitters off to Cretaceous Period. For a moment I think I’ve imagined it all. She’s a girl, not a pre-teen.

In the Cretaceous Period shallow seas covered New Mexico. They say a type of plant-eating, five-horned dinosaur–Pentaceratops–was found only in this area. I like the idea that we have our very own species. This one ranged in size, they say, from no bigger than a dog to up to five tons. Flowering plants arose during this time. Up to then there were only evergreens.

There are different theories for why dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago. A great meteor, Chicxulub Crater, hit the earth and ended the reign of these creatures. Or mammals ate the eggs. I go for the crater explanation. I can’t imagine anything worldly preventing mothers–even dinosaur mothers–from having children. So many methods for not having kids today, yet so many babies born. Wanted or not.

On the drive home from the museum, Dee reminds me of our new joke. “What’s a man eating dinosaur?” We both saw the riddle on a wall near the exhibit describing the evolution of dinosaurs into birds. You lift up a little plastic tab and underneath is a picture of a man carving into a Thanksgiving turkey. “I don’t get it,” I first told her. She had to walk me through the dinosaur-to-bird section and explain that turkeys were ancestors of dinosaurs. A-MAN-EATING-DINOSAUR…GET-IT?, she asked. I did. Finally.

I notice something about Dee. When it’s all of us–me, her, her sister, my husband–Dee is distant. She snaps her answer whenever I ask a question. Yells from the bedroom, WHAT??? Yet when Dee and I are alone together in this fast-disappearing eleventh year (do we only have one more before she officially becomes a teen?) she settles into me. Me into her. We are earth settling into a new period. Shallow seas covering land. Flowering plants for the first time.

Eleven years I’ve had to be a mother. Eleven years of impatience and love. I’ve tried to make memories. Natural History Museum (age eleven and times before). Disney World (age three), Santa Monica Pier (age four). Six Flags too many times now to count. San Francisco, the same. Somehow, though, I know it’s the day-to-day that counts. I worry that I’ve been distant. That she emulates what she sees.

Some day it will be Dee’s own life. Her own eccentricities and values and actions that override everything I’ve stamped onto her. You can scream all you want but you still can’t get off.

I learned today that New Mexico had camels and elephants five to 18 million years ago. Nature–she has her own plan.

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You made me think of women
of a certain age
both mother and daughter
A compact snapping shut
Pursing lips to the memory of a reflection

And speaking of pursed
I’m thinking now of losing a purse
How some losses are lost
But losing a parent is nothing like losing a purse

Why do we say then?
Sorry for your loss

I have a sympathy note to send
to the cousin of my husband
And do you know?
Weeks have passed since that passing?

It’s paralyzing, words for that time
in one’s life
and now I see
it’s not *that time*
(as if passing were an event
what kind of test is that to have to pass??)

It’s constant, like breath and touch and seasons

Another Thanksgiving
giving thanks for knowing (for you help me to know)
we do not lose our losses.

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There comes an age,
when stains on the front of my sweatshirt
drawl, “I don’t feel like working” -
my mouth is dry and thirsty
my back aches

- must be (52).
 
There comes an age
when I don’t care what people think -
vanity takes a backseat to wisdom and sensibility,
falling in love doesn’t hold the same
steamy juice

- just another kind of love.

There comes an age
when you can only count on you,
standing on your own two feet
is preferred to being taken care of,
and writing is the only thing that matters.

There comes an age
when hair grows thick inside the ear,
tufts eek out the edge of the nose,
fingernails grow misshapen and brittle,
calluses defy the serrated file

- gray outshines the natural.

There comes an age
when a romp in the hay stiffens the blood,
love is more powerful than hate,
the irritation you feel,
a lone grain of sand in an oyster shell

- a pearl rolling in a silver bowl.

There comes an age
when the most powerful people stand least exposed,
humility slinks through desperation,
underground:

Tom cruises low in the Maldives
suddenly (6″) taller than Holmes;

Kramer burns his crosses
ex-megalaughbuster -
bad manners, poor taste,
and racist hate.

O.J.’s dead and buried, killed
by the two-faced blade of Rupert Murdoch -
“If I did it, I want the world to know
I’m covered in bad blood.”

- what the hell are people thinking?

There comes an age
when the truth matters more than lying,
Santa red makes a comeback, your favorite color
like it was at age (6), tenderness and fragility
outweigh the need for tough love.

There comes an age
when strength is not measured in pounds pressed at the bench,
clear-sighted has nothing to do
with (5) layers of cornea,
visionary does not extend beyond (30) years.

There comes an age
when humility and grace trump privilege and fame,
money is something I want enough of, without being greedy,
good and bad traits of women and men
become the same damn thing.

There comes an age
when I want to laugh at my failures,
hail them as successes -
soar down the hill on a hot shiny disc
spewing freshly mowed powder;

but snow flies blindly
in the cold face of reason,
falls flat on ice-burned lips
lapping it all up, only to discover
the thirst has already been quenched.

There comes an age
when silence speaks louder than words,
the tough get going
and the meek inherit the earth;

- (230) years later
the Framers return,
Jeffersonian voices booming
through British clairvoyants named Lisa:

“Yes, you’ve made a grievous mistake. No, those witches weren’t supposed to be burned at the stake. And the (300) lost languages of the indigenous peoples? – No, not supposed to be traded for steeples.”

a muddy, booted sole plunks down
on a tiny piece of granite -
Plymouth Rock -
“the most disappointing landmark in America”

There comes an age
when stinky cheese seems less stinky,
a single glass of Merlot is all it takes
to put you over the edge,
and laughter’s more important than sex.

There comes an age
when it’s harder to hold a shape, any shape,
the weight of the world piles on
over Thanksgiving waists
-

I don’t want to haul an evergreen home,
to celebrate Christ’s birth, not one silver fir,
or spend the entire weekend baking turkeys
and mashing potatoes; but I will
watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

There comes an age (2654)
when Pisces plummets
into Aquarius full bore -
the mossy air of the (11th) sign
fanning watery flames -

What’s Going On never loses its punch,
the Fifth Dimension no longer reigns,
a hollow remnant of a parallel Universe
or a Grammy production of Bones Howe fame.

It’s Thanksgiving week (2006)
I’m restless, not bored,
older, feeling young

hopelessly forlorn
and quietly strong.

My heart hurts – I’m in love,
full of hope and promise
for (2007), year of the Fire Pig.
 
My stomach churns -
the head says, be quiet.

Full.
Empty.

Alone,
surrounded by Souls
life could not have imagined.

Lost is a place,
I’ve found my true calling.

There comes an age -
when I have to let go.


Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

-post from writing practice, PRACTICE – There Comes An Age – 15min 

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On the early afternoon of November 22nd, 1963, I was sitting in 3rd grade at a wooden desk drawing hearts with a BIC pen. It was 2:13 on Friday. I couldn’t wait for the weekend. My 3rd grade teacher, Miss Wells, wore pleated skirts that flowed behind her and she was tall, with slender limbs, but she had a kind, round face.

I was 9 years old. I didn’t know what I was about to find out – at 1pm CST, 2 o’clock South Carolina time, President John F. Kennedy had been pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He’d been shot, half hour earlier, while I was coming in from recess.

But let’s backtrack a little.

By 1 o’clock EST, I had finished lunch served on gray plastic trays by hair-netted, uniformed women: Tater Tots, Velveeta mac and cheese, a pint of whole Borden’s milk (sporting a daisy-ringed, smiling, Elsie the Cow), and all American apple crisp with brown sugar, oats, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, water, salt, and lemon to taste.

At 1:30, the moment Kennedy was shot, I was being called in from recess. When the bell rang, I stopped romping on the wooden planked teeter-totters, playing hopscotch in the dirt, and jumping through the wiry, jute ropes and tall metal swings of the 60’s. I walked toward the brick school building and flirted with freckle-faced Billy while we were standing in wobbly 3rd grade lines waiting for Mrs. Payne.

Mrs. Payne was on playground duty, just about to pull up her lanyard to blow her trademark silver whistle so we could walk single file back to the classroom. I loved Billy because he could rabbit wiggle his nostrils like me, a recessive gene trait we shared. The very act of flaring our nose holes, simultaneously, on command, endeared him to me.

By 2:00, when Kennedy was pronounced dead, Mrs. Wells was preparing to teach the afternoon lesson, South Carolina history. South Carolina, the Palmetto State, dressed in dark blue silk, a white crescent moon and silhouetted palm, was one of the 13 Original Colonies. Can you name the others? A 5th grader probably could. And in 3rd grade, I knew the following about South Carolina:

State Capitol: ColumbiaSouth Carolina Flag
State Bird: the Carolina Wren
State Beverage: Sweet Iced Tea
State Snack: Boiled Peanuts (hmmmm)
State Fruit: the Peach
State Motto: “While I breathe, I hope”

 

Around 2:15, out of a worn brown speaker cover high on the wall, dotted with symmetrically punched holes, the principal’s voice floated, disembodied, out of the public address system (remember the tinny, boxy sound of the PA?) I can’t remember the principal’s name. Just that she was stern, with an apple shaped, peasant stock body like me, curly short hair, and hard-soled pumps that clacked along the waxed linoleum when she snapped us to attention.

But this afternoon, she wasn’t snapping. In a quiet voice, the quietest I’d ever heard, she slowly announced, “Can I have your attention. I’ve got some sad news. President John F. Kennedy was shot today at 12:30 CST. He died at 1pm from gunshot wounds. Let’s bow our heads in a moment of silence.”

We sat there in our seats, stunned, looking up at lanky Clara Wells for direction. Miss Wells stared up at the speaker, blankly, but only for a few seconds. Then she quickly recovered and led us through the moment of silence. I don’t remember what, if anything, she said. I only remember the sinking feeling and the sadness that swept over me like a shroud.

Later that night, on the black and white Zenith, my parents and I, along with 189 million other Americans, relived the day: Walter Cronkite’s low jowls, Jackie’s pink pill box hat and Chanel suit, the raised right hand of Lyndon Johnson’s “do you solemnly swear.” It played like a dream sequence. My young mind could not comprehend the full impact. But I knew something big had changed.

 

When I went back to the South in 1999, Belvedere Elementary stood in the same place, along the scrub pines and dirty salt and pepper playground, across from the Methodist church. The Baptist church that my best friend, Susan, attended every Sunday was still on the opposite corner of the street. The school wasn’t open that day. I peeked in the windows but couldn’t see much. I took some photographs.

The place seemed smaller than I remembered it. But the memories, huge. I did a lot of growing up in that place.

A few weeks ago when I was doing Internet research for a presentation, I ran across Bryan Woolley’s account, The Day Kennedy Died, from a 1983 article he wrote for the Dallas Times Herald. The story is based solely on the facts. In this case, the facts are enough. The facts are powerful.

That day in 1963, this country had the breath knocked out of it. Something died: our collective sense of well-being and hope. Back then, I was the next generation. And the seeds of fear took root in my 9 year old heart.

But while I breathe, I hope.


Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

———————–

Here’s Bryan’s story. Just the facts, M’am. Just the facts.

———————–

Volume : SIRS 1991 History, Article 02                               
Subject: Keyword(s) : KENNEDY and ASSASSINATION
Title  : The Day John Kennedy Died                                            
Author : Bryan Woolley                                                        
Source : Dallas Times Herald (Dallas, Texas)                                  
Publication Date : Nov. 20, 1983      
Page Number(s) : Sec. Sec. 2-3 

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  1. If you have a local store like “Discovery Channel,” “Natural Wonders,” etc, a place that sells science toys and geodes and other interesting stuff, go in and browse and then write about your visit, OR
  2. Find a simple experiment to do at home and write about it: e.g. tie both ends of a piece of string to a hanger and then wrap the string around your index fingers and stick them in your ears and listen to the chime when you bang the hanger against something hard, OR
  3. Surf the web for natural wonders and write about what you found, OR
  4. Write a poem inspired by fractals, OR
  5. Go to a natural history or science museum, OR
  6. Otherwise, go for a walk somewhere, in nature, in the city, in your house, wherever, and pay attention to the every day natural wonders.

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There comes an age when there are stains on the front of my sweatshirt when I go into work, when I don’t feel like working, when my mouth is dry and I’m thirsty, and my back aches. That age must be 52. There comes an age when I don’t care what people think about me anymore, when vanity takes a backseat to wisdom and sensibility, when falling in love doesn’t hold the same juice it once did – it’s merely another form of love.

There comes an age when you can count only on yourself though you are surrounded by good people, when standing on your own two feet is preferred to being taken care of, when writing might be the only thing that matters in your life anymore. There comes an age when hair grows inside the ears and tugs out the edges of the nose, when the fingernails grow misshapen and brittle, when the calluses take longer to brush off with the serrated file, when the gray outnumbers the natural colors.

There comes an age when you don’t get excited about the next romp in the hay, when love is more powerful than hate, when the irritation you feel from others is like the grain of sand in the oyster shell – producing a giant compassionate pearl. There comes an age when the most powerful people become the most exposed, when humility seems to go underground, and jokes from the ex-megalaughbuster, Kramer, are in poor taste and bad manner. What the hell was the ugly guy thinking?

There comes an age when the truth matters more than lying, when the color red becomes as popular in your life as it was at age 6, when fragility outweighs the need to get tough on love. There comes an age when strength is not measured in pounds on the benchpress, when clear sight has nothing to do with the clarity of the corneas, when visionary does not extend out past the 30 year mark.

There comes an age when humility and grace speak louder than fame and privilege, when money is something I want enough of without being greedy, when the good traits about men and women become the same damn thing.

There comes an age when I want to laugh at my mistakes and tout them as successes, when the snow flies in the face of reason, when I want to soar down the hill on a round disc of a sled and fall flat on my face in the freshly fallen power only to discover that my thirst has already been quenched.

There comes an age when silence speaks louder than words, when the tough get going and the meek inherit the earth, when the framers of the Constitution come back to us in Spirit and through the voice of medium, Lisa Williams, tell us they made a few mistakes – no those witches were not supposed to be burned at the stake. And, no, all the other 300 languages and countless races were not supposed to be wiped off the face of the earth when the first booted sole plunked down on the tiny piece of granite that is Plymouth Rock.

There comes an age when stinky cheese seems even stinkier, when a single glass of wine puts me over the age, when laughter is more important than sex. There comes an age when it’s harder to keep in shape, when the weight piles on over Thanksgiving weekend, when I don’t want to haul an evergreen home to celebrate the birth of Christ or spend the entire weekend baking turkeys and mashing potatoes. But I will watch a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

There comes an age when Aquarius has passed and we’ve moved into Aries, when the fire puts out the watery flame, when the Fifth Dimension is no longer a singing group or the last parallel Universe, and What’s Going On never loses its punch.

It’s Thanksgiving week of 2006. I am restless and bored, old and feeling young. I am hopelessly forlorn and quietly strong. My heart hurts, yet I’m in love and full of hope and promise for the future. My stomach churns and the head says be quiet. I’m full. I’m empty. I’m alone. I’m surrounded by the best people life could imagine. I’m hopelessly lost. Yet I’ve found my true calling.

There comes an age. I have to let go.

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

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Balance

A niggling of a headache
forming over my left eyebrow
in a socket there
Balanced gently like a bone on a ball

The deacon’s homily this morning
juxtaposed good and evil.
Two princes
the brown man said
Mmm, he paused between thoughts
And smiled like he knew we knew he knew

I could tell this man knew sin
intimately
He was, after all
a normal man
del barrio
A vato, we’d say
I liked him, liked his smile like a wide flat u
You

Is he the priest
I kept asking
No, he’s the deacon.
Why does he give the homily?

The alter girl–did you hear that?
The alter girl
was not a boy.

Good and evil
The two princes, the deacon kept repeating
At first I thought he said
The two priests
(del barrio, te digo)

I don’t like to be lectured.
Who said that?
But I sit through it knowing that’s the point of homily
humility

I took Body of Christ
figuring
I recalled my sins and then asked my brothers and sisters
to pray for me
I forgive them theirs

But blood?
Blood is a big silver chalice
filled with wine from a box
And now, after so many sinners
their sweat and tears too
Or at least their vavas

That’s an undignified word
to use in a poem.

But it’s my own ballast
What holds me to the ground
Makes me full and,
well,
Me.

I reject half what they say
none of what they pray
Hail Mary full of grace
Help me find a parking place

No, really.

I know there is evil in this world
My headache is gone.
I know there is evil in this world.
Fucking priests.
See, I just proved it.

But I am a good person.
Really, I am.


-From topic post, Bookends, Balances, and Hard Rain

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paranoia drifts inside my sanity
I vowed to write during lunch
not agonize over one ounce of truth

if I take fear with a grain of salt,
the ever-present whispering, “I am not enough,”
the lingering voice of the Monkey in all her many forms,

will it make me a better writer?

sitting under a rock
on the steps of Calcutta
a fire ant crawls
through Gandhi’s fascination

and I breathe Minneapolis -
monsoon clouds of Pantone gray.

the truth is I feel scared
the truth is I am empty
the truth is I seek validation and comfort.

3 grains? or 1 ounce?

you said you were mirror-phobic -
your mother said the first ingredients
to add to a new apartment are:

salt
and sugar,
a broom, to sweep away Old Spirits
and bread for the breaking.

Ancient traditions,
or bonding superstitions?

the bouquet of lilies – Post Minimalist -
I saw them there, on the glass table
alone, shining, white and pure -
future clutter.

when I read your short paragraph
I threw salt over my left shoulder,
while an Angel on my right
whispered something in your ear

to keep the Devil at bay,
in a particularly vulnerable situation -

or from sneaking up on me
while I’m cleaning up my mess.

There will be Southern black-eyed peas
on New Year’s Day
a too salty ham, reminding me

I stole the title from Nikki Giovanni
and James Baldwin stole a little something, too;

something every writer should know -
we are excavating our ancestors for data

and sometimes that means walking
left of the straight and narrow,
3 sheets to the wind,
silent under
Taos Mountain

watching a sagebound magpie
through the dirty glass

listening to the wind howl
and the jackhammer roar

pushing 7,500 feet of air
through an ounce of truth.


Friday, November 17th, 2006

-from Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – BOOKENDS, BALANCES, AND HARD RAIN

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Below are 2 poems by Nikki Giovanni and Tony Hoagland, and the lyrics from Paul Simon’s Bookends. Inspired by one of these pieces or a line from one of the poems, write a blog post of poetry or prose not more than 250-300 words.


Bookends

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you

-Paul Simon


Balances

in life
one is always
balancing
like we juggle our mothers
against our fathers

or one teacher
against another
(only to balance our grade average)

3 grains of salt
to one ounce truth

our sweet black essence
or the funky honkies down the street

and lately i’ve begun wondering
if you’re trying to tell me something

we used to talk all night
and do things alone together
and i’ve begun

(as a reaction to a feeling)
to balance
the pleasure of loneliness
against the pain
of loving you

-Nikki Giovanni


Hard Rain

After I heard It’s a Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
played softly by an accordion quartet
through the ceiling speakers at the Springdale Shopping Mall,
I understood there’s nothing
we can’t pluck the stinger from,

nothing we can’t turn into a soft drink flavor or a t-shirt.
Even serenity can become something horrible
if you make a commercial about it
using smiling, white-haired people

quoting Thoreau to sell retirement homes
in the Everglades, where the swamp has been
drained and bulldozed into a nineteen-hole golf course
with electrified alligator barriers.

You can’t keep beating yourself up, Billy
I heard the therapist say on television
                                                         to the teenage murderer,
About all those people you killed—
You just have to be the best person you can be,

one day at a time—

and everybody in the audience claps and weeps a little,
because the level of deep feeling has been touched,
and they want to believe that
the power of Forgiveness is greater
than the power of Consequence, or History.

Dear Abby:
My father is a businessman who travels.
Each time he returns from one of his trips,
his shoes and trousers
                                   are covered with blood-
but he never forgets to bring me a nice present;
Should I say something?
                                                       Signed, America.

I used to think I was not part of this,
that I could mind my own business and get along,

but that was just another song
that had been taught to me since birth—

whose words I was humming under my breath,
as I was walking through the Springdale Mall.

Poem: “Hard Rain” by Tony Hoagland from Hard Rain: A Chapbook. © Hollyridge Press. Reprinted with permission. 

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

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Our assignment: find an object and hold it in your hands for ten minutes. Feel it. Move it along the surface of your arms if you wish. Don’t smell it or taste it. Allow the object to tell about itself through the sense of touch.

I walk around my house. It’s a small space filled with too many objects. I could pick up a piece of my beloved folk art, which I keep on a set of floor-to-ceiling corner shelves. There, the wooden and tin retablos, Santa Rita cradling a white skeleton against her black nun’s robe, or Omnipotent Hand spewing blood into a small golden chalice. I could hold the long carved cow I picked up on a back road in Costa Rica, its black-and-white body flashing as we sped past tropical greens and blues.

But I don’t pick up what’s familiar. Instead I am drawn to the crystals and fossils and shards my husband and daughters have collected from their many rock-hounding expeditions west of here on the dry Rio Puerco. Maybe it’s because I under-appreciate these objects or know so little about them.

I pick up a big rock, almost too heavy to hold in one hand. I keep it in both and it’s a minute into my holding that I see the subtle crystal formations at the rock’s ridge. This is a geode, a wedge of a geode. Not the kind of beautiful specimen you’d pay money for in a mineral shop but a found rock, demure and prehistoric.

I sit on the warm tile floor in the late morning. The rock is cold in my hands, and it seems that no matter how long I hold it, it remains cool and lifeless. I touch it to my cheek. The outer edge is almost sandy like limestone. Everything about this rock is ancient looking and seeming. The yellow-brown color, as if it’s been buried absorbing clay-sand earth for millions of years. I will it to tell me about itself. How long it is in this world? What has it seen?

I close my eyes and picture an ocean where the desert is now. I see a kind of Jurassic Park scene of big dinosaurs chasing smaller ones across the land, and I know it’s popular culture and Cinemax that speak to me more so than this silent, solid mass.

This is the problem with me and things of the physical world. They tell me more about me than they do about them. My husband would be able to say how geodes are formed. Why this particular one is not hollow on the inside, why its crystals are yellow and not clear with purple veins. Me, I notice that the lower layer of crystals look like water bubbles or plantars warts, the growth going inward not out. It’s only the top of the wedge where the pyramids break surface.

After my ten minutes are up, I look up geodes on the Internet, read about why some form with the interior hollowed out like beautiful quartz-lined bowls. Why others, like mine, fill up completely. I see words: “chalcedony,” “silicon dioxide,” “dolomite,” “limey sediments.” I say the words over and over. None of it sticks. Here’s how my mind plays tricks with those words. Cacophony. Silicon implants. Dolmas. Blimey!

I picked Geology as one of my high school science concentrations, but only because earth strata seemed solid compared to Physics. I don’t even remember who taught Geology. He or she was nowhere as memorable as goofy, gap-toothed Mr. Grunner, my Biology teacher, who started each class by picking up a ruler, pretending it was a microphone, and announcing, “Testies, testies, one-two, one-two.” I consider it testimony to how much I enjoyed Mr. Grunner that my vocabulary from that time still runs somewhat intact: Paramecium, Amoeba, Gonads, Mitosis and Meiosis.

I also remember Mr. DiNello from Chemistry, although it’s only because he was a curmudgeon of a teacher. He hated that I whistled while I worked. Considered it a base form of insubordination. What he didn’t realize was my dad whistled whenever he was happily preoccupied with making Cream-o’-Wheat, shaving, doing taxes. Dad’s was a soft half-whistle, the sound you get when you blow hard over a bottle opening.

Like Dad, I’d settle into contented concentration following directions on how much of Element A to measure out and mix with Element B in order to raise resultant vapors, and wa-la, there it came seeping out: my whistle. By the time the semester was done I barely made it out of Mr. DiNello’s class with a D, my only grade other than an A or B.

The thing is, I have this picture of myself as someone who never understood chemistry when, in fact, chemistry was never that mysterious to me. I have this picture of myself as a mental, not physical, creature. I put my husband into one category, me into another. That explains why we sometimes don’t mesh. Why he constantly plays the stereo or has on the TV while I seek quiet inside my head.

Maybe my settling on a geode is my subconscious saying precisely this. That none of it is so mysterious, so misunderstood, that I can’t grasp what it has to tell me. I held that geode for ten full minutes. Felt its coolness. Ran my fingers over the bumpy crystal top. Maybe I was drawn to the geode for what it represents. Something exotic and beautiful inside an otherwise nondescript outer shell.

I don’t think now that my geode and I couldn’t speak the same language. It seems to have told me quite a lot.


-Based on a 10-minute writing practice on WRITING TOPIC – OBJECT.

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7 leaves falling
through colors of burnt umber
I sit still and write



he knew John Williams
and called me last Saturday
the wind blew haiku



the title was changed
Matter of Love to Stoner
he said writing’s hard



past frosted windows
fluffy molecules tumble
in gray snowy skies



I am stone cold blue
for there is not enough time
to make money, write



fall celebration
frequent flashes of Old Bones
photographs don’t lie



freak entanglements
under morbid pitted skies
the moon howls winter



together, alone
I am two places at once
the heart trumps the head



snow on Taos Mountain
beckoning, calling me home
vibrant December



I breathe in and out
a puff of cold air circles
the lines on my face



Mercury direct
12 November unhinged
don’t close any doors



the old tree swing sways
empty from a lone oak branch
ghosts of winter sing



Sunday, November 12th, 2006

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Your mother turned 69 yesterday, my father 83 on November 5. I’d like to believe he, Elias, will live to be 100. That I can mine the DNA from his frail bones for years to come.

But each time I see him, I see him slip away, slow and almost imperceptible. His cataract eyes have that watery, faraway look, a silver film over intense black. On his birthday I meant to peer into those crystal ball eyes. How are you today? Are your legs strong? Will they carry you further?

But it was a festive party, enchiladas with red or green, flour tortillas Mom made, a big pot of pinto beans. Between forkfuls, I admire Mom’s choker, a spiky thing made with narrow triangles of oyster shell, bones from the sea. She takes it off, tells me it’s mine.

“I wore it so I could give it to one of you,” she tells my sisters when they chime to me, “Hey, wasn’t that Mom’s necklace??” I shrug. I didn’t mean to covet it before anyone else had a chance to.

Mom is generous. What is Dad?

I still remember, and now bones on my mind, sitting in Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, staring down at my knobby knees while Dad listens to Father Cassidy’s homily. (And now, my mind catches the word “homily,” jumps to “hominy,” which in my family we make into “posole,” white kernals like big teeth. Everything goes back to food. Plain, hearty food. Not much meat in my lineage, is that why my bones are fine and my teeth achy when I drink anything cold?)

But back to the church. Dad and I go alone. Mom gave up faith after I was born and a priest slammed the confessional window in her face for telling him she was going on birth control. Dad picks a middle pew. Not too eager to please. Not a laggard, either. That’s Dad. Middle way. He sits rapt. He’s a pious man, comes from penitente stock. I stick my feet out in front of me, notice my shins have downy, light brown hair. I’m eleven. I still wear hand-me-down dresses. Brunswick patterns sewn by Mom. Old-fashioned dresses with big white bibs front and back, rickrack along the bottom. I like how my kneecaps move to and fro when I lift my legs up and down.

Then I see it. My right knee is bigger than my left. Something round is in there, like a marble or a golf ball under my brown skin. For the rest of Father Cassidy’s meandering sermon I am engrossed in this discovery, a moveable part in my leg. I’m like the Barbies I sneak out of my sister’s Barbie Doll case. Discrete joints, elbows-knees-and-shoulders. I can move me this way and that, pose me how I wish.

Up to now Dad is in his dreamy place above my small world. He can see over parishioners’ heads to Christ hanging on his crucifix, to the chalices and gold and white cloth. Now Dad looks down to where I am. He notices me popping my knee. I place his big, warm hand over the lump, show him how it rolls around under my skin. Suddenly he, too, gets engrossed in my bones. “What’s is it?” he asks in an urgent whisper, and I am alarmed by fear I hear in his voice.

Bones. It turns out to be a benign tumor. The kind of bone tumor common in horses’ knees, according to the orthopedic surgeon who eventually removes it. Bones. Who we are deep inside? Strong yet permeable. Small and obtrusive. Innocent, tainted, scared.

What was Dad thinking that day in the church? If I ask him today, will he remember? I am a writer, frantically seeking to capture memories from my 45 years. Who will help me see his gentle strength when Dad is gone?

It’s good to get cracking. There are deposits to unearth.

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The smooth sensation of tempered sand. Thousands of decades of rock, ground down, caramel clear. Ribbed edges, sanguine top. Bloodshot, ridged and angular.

Feel, feel, what are you telling me?

Ancestors of obsidian from Egypt and China, brothers and sisters all stained and quartz. The shape holds upright, transparent to light. A man, a woman, a child, centennial glass. Robin’s egg blue. Broken down by eons, ages, years, months, minutes, seconds.

Cool to the touch, rolling over my arm, sitting in the crook of my knee. Slippery when wet – it is dry. Salamander scales, temperamental foe, unyielding.

Broken, it would slice the skin in seconds. Centuries whole, it is a shiny see-through vessel. Bury it in the sand, hold it up to the light, sit next to it, not on or under. Ouch.

North Dakota. Legend. After the 100 year celebration – and ten minutes in my wandering hands – you sit on a shelf in the bedroom. I want to remember what you feel like. All I can think of is the coolness beneath your transparent skin.

The window reflects off the exterior, a swallowed hole, internal bubbles that rock your core. The tawny liquid can not escape, feels like the color of the Quaking Bog with her decayed leaves and deep pitted filters. I can not twist off the lid, or break it with my teeth.

Red, the color red comes to mind in a flash of white O’s. One hundred years in the making. No more. No less. No smell. Only sight. Color.

The sound gurgles in high pitched pops. You said not to listen but I could not help it. I had to listen and feel and touch and hold and run my fingers along the vertebrae with no rough edges or lips. No tantalizing angst – it is objet du jour, pure and simple. And if enough time passes, organic.

Time figures in your undoing, breaking you down, back to the earth. Sacrilege. Sitting on a shelf, it is not mine. It does not belong to me. Yet it does. Every grain of sand belongs to me.

I could have chosen a toothbrush or a waterfall to hold between my dry, calloused fingers. But I chose you. There are two more just like you, perhaps second or distant cousins. I guess they might have the same texture, but I didn’t touch them or pick them up. The script is fancy free, an old text. Later, block style with little swivels underneath the curly capital C’s.

I hear the Northern wind blow through the time that formed you, along the Great Plains, in 1889 you were born. Statehood, manhood, womanhood, what will it take for the tide to turn? I grew up with your rusty nectar, somewhere in the depths of the South. The twisted bowels were tender and held me like spilled milk.

Not cream. Cream rises. Milk squirts out of tender teats, and sits and falls and swallows down into blue bottle glass. The feeling is mutual.

The coins plunk into the slot, red metal, orange Nehi, yellow Bear, aligned next to the girly calendar above the shop floor, tame in this age. I feel your motion, the peanuts that fell into your open mouth from the salt-filled Planter’s package out of the vending machine next to the grease monkeys. The coolness of cold green against the palm of sweaty summer.

Fizzzzz.

You told me you were coated in phosphoric acid and your syrup was used to quell the coughs that spat out of kids in the 50’s and 60’s. When they changed your formula in the 80’s, all hell broke loose. And then you drifted back to Classic a few months later.

Choices. Too many choices.

France. Holland. Clink. The frozen tundra’s got nothing on you. Clug, clug, clug. I could pop open the middle of you, sliding down the gullet like a pipestone freeze. Underneath, the nonsense builds. You tell me you feel cooped up. I want to set you free. And then you disappear altogether. Was it worth the price of freedom?

In a river of cinnamon haze, I crack you open and watch as you drift down the Northern rivers and into the gulf stream ocean. Nothing left of your carbon soda molecules. Diluted and freeze-dried next to the rain.

You were created in North Dakota, born in Atlanta, and unfolded in the drama that is my writing practice. And there, all shiny and cool, you sit in the bedroom on the ancient dresser. While I write naked on the couch under the setting sun.

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

-related to post, WRITING TOPIC – OBJECT

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Pick up your pens. It is time to lay down the assignment for the week, for the blog.

I did not think about this much, it came to me in meditation Saturday and I thought I had another week to think, and besides we are not supposed to be thinking when we meditate, just watching the thoughts, so I put aside the pen and paper and now on this victorious Wednesday morning I have forgotten all the grandness, recall only the most basic.

What I want to propose is that this week we all hold something. Hold something for ten minutes, or it could be fifteen and you could get by on five or seven, but for the sake of uniformity, let’s say ten. I do not mean something like an idea, a belief. I do not mean holding someone in our thoughts. I mean literally taking the five fingers of your right or left hand, picking up an object and holding it.

Let your fingers clutch, let your palm get sweaty, caress the front and the back of the object. You can move the object up and down your arm, if you want, rub it along your chest, squeeze it in your armpit. Do not taste it, do not smell it, and if you put it near your ear, for our ears are very sensuous, try not to listen. Only feel what it has to say.

The object can be something ordinary, like a toothbrush, or exotic, like a tube of toothpaste.  This morning it feels like everything is exotic, doesn’t it? Hold the piece. Then write about it.

As an exercise, I’d suggest that you put the piece behind you while you write, that you do not look at it. Write from the feeling, from the sensation that was picked up by your finger cells.

The object should not be living, breathing, but it can be of nature, does not have to be – pardon the expression – manmade. Your choosing is your own, you can pick up something off your desktop, or you take time to think about what you want to hold. It doesn’t matter.

If this seems lame and too lucy goosey it doesn’t matter. Just hold something, and hold on to it when you write.  Ten minutes holding, then go.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

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A writer friend of mine who lives in Colorado is visiting New Jersey this week for her Aunt’s 100th birthday on Saturday, November 4th, 2006. A whole century. The birth of radio, TV and Internet, two World Wars, countless unnamed battles, and the death of the Ford Taurus, have passed over her lifetime.

One hundred years – 100 year old Bones.

Bones are one of the oldest musical instruments known to mankind. Made from the Musical Bones, maple - photo by Bob Devellis, released into public domain - Though originally made of the ribs of goat, sheep, or cow, most modern Bones are made of wood.ribs of goat, sheep, or cow, musical Bones date back 2.5 million years and have been found all over the world, from South India to Mongolia, and the Celtic regions of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, France, and Spain. Imagine – 2.5 million year old Bones.

Bones are connectors. Sturdy and steadfast, dependable and strong. Bones sing.

When was it I began to listen?

The bones of my mother, Amelia, will turn 69 on November 10th, 2006. I flew out of her womb in the hot, sultry July of 1954. She wasn’t even 17 years old. She married my father, Clarence Jerome, because she had integrity. Not because she was pregnant with me. That would come later. In the 1950’s, you married out of principle. And divorced only as a last resort.

I’d better get to Snyder’s Drug on Winnetka Avenue to purchase a card. As with Della Elise, her mother before her, Amelia taught me that the written word, Hallmark poetry, speaks louder than the spoken. The torch has been passed. I am a writer. And once a year, as the crow flies, words mutate over the 1205 miles between glacial Minnesota’s muddy Mississippi and the rocky banks of the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania.

Words have power. Words set intention. Writing harnesses the power of words. Then spits and splashes them back out over imagination and page.Writer’s Hand, illustration from 1918 edition of Gray’s Anatomy, image public domain

I received a post card in the mail that writer, painter, and teacher, Natalie Goldberg, will be celebrating the 20th Anniversary release of her now classic book, Writing Down the Bones, on November 11th, 2006. Three weeks earlier, in late October, along a lonely stretch of New Mexico called Half Moon Road, the seed for IncusPress was planted on a few acres of open desert near Blueberry Hill.

Synchronicity? Or lineage.

The #10 bone, Incus, middle of the chain of three, connects us as writers. Middle bone. Middle Way. There are no accidents. Writers live inside the snappy, spongy, middle bone in the inner ear of small mammals. They operate out of stinky, waxy “between” spaces, the steamy hell hole pits where no one else dares to roam.

What doesn’t kill you about being a writer, will make you stronger. I can say I am a writer. Or I can live, eat, sleep, and breathe writing. Active. Passive. Present perfect. Past perfect.

Future simple?

Imperfect subjunctive. If I’m going to make good on my promise to write down 100 year bones, I’d better get cracking. I am strong, silent, bent and broken. And I want to be heard.

Friday, November 3rd, 2006
 

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