Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Board games


29 June 2022

The president with a pitchfork in the House. The president’s chief with a phone on a couch in the West Wing. The president’s fan with an AR-15 in a tree on the Mall. The president’s lawyer with shoe polish running down his cheek. The president’s daughter with an immobile face. The witness, seen from above, at a table surrounded by penitents, photographers. There is a line she will not cross, spry cordage of her conscience sitting, in shock, at the end. Where did she find that fine line? Did it trip her one day as she crossed her living room, as if she were a goat, and the wire live? Did it reach around to grab her clavicles, depriving her of air’s ideologies? Did she wash it off the wall, the line of ketchup left by the president?

I with some pixels, turning my digital soil. The word for circumstance in Greek is also the word for misfortune. In such circumstances, the president might have appeared before congress as a shaman, furs slung over his bare chest and belly, chanting to rid the place of the history we used to tell of it. “They had spears at the ends of their flag poles,” he told her. Brass knucks, bear spray. When things get weird, just say they remind you of a movie.

Not a poem. Not another poem, Speaker Pelosi. The other side has no poems; they know how weak they are. Forget inner strength and courage. Let them through the mags, with their illegal magazines and their MAGA hats. How to assimilate such knowledge without poems? The flagpole is a line. You use it either to hang a piece of cloth or to beat up a cop. In both instances, you call yourself patriot.

Among her revelations, her boss twice closed the door on her while on the phone. That is only invitation to revelation. Premonitions of the recent past, the lawyer’s happy question: are you excited about the sixth? When asked if you support a peaceful transfer of power, the general said, “Fifth.” The purveyor of the whiskey bar disappeared after that election. He knew.

She asked me if I was a visitor, meaning tourist. Where are you getting off the bus, I asked the man, and he said he’d know when he got there. My student thought the bus a church, complete with nave and altar, if lacking shocks. Absorb everything; it will get wrung out of you. My memory shall be an aid to my forgetting.

Monday, June 27, 2022

The wrought urn


27 June 2022

She drank her tears. Mine sit on the edge of the cliff, feet dangling, breath in the throat, but they won't fall. I can only dream my thirst.

She drank her tears, feared a final break, her frail spine turned toward gravity, face set hard. I left mine at an Ash Wednesday service in Charlottesville. A friend left hers at a cafe after a movie. He left his in our kitchen. My son left his with one cat. To cry is to take leave. To fail to cry is to stay home; home is an elastic that sobs around you. It tries to breathe for you, like ribs apart from lungs.

I am suffocated by the news. We are. It’s not news, but reversion to a mean world.

Never have sentences seemed so literal. Sentence as chain, as length of punishment. Ancient Greek accents are like “goats chained to a post,” my teacher said. Sentences tug toward, are thrown back on this rotten field.

A shopping mall was bombed in the Ukraine. A shopping mall was the site of a mass shooting in the USA. Violence rhymes, though we think of rhyme as ease, not peril. We are rhyming us to death.

Dickinson’s failure to rhyme is like an IED. The track of her poem breaks like Highway 11 during the eruption. She hadn’t seen volcanoes, but I have, and heard them rumble and crack. A parking lot fell in the pit, almost flat enough for pickle ball, but the air is poison.

Her daily photo from the Ukraine remains the same: tall apartment blocks taken from one similar. She writes that she hasn’t slept much. Explosions in the distance. But she’ll be all right. She needs some likes. Give her one.

What poetic form works in a formless time? Or one now broken to pieces. An abandoned house that looks like a home but isn’t. A rusted car body, still as an urn. The ill wrought urn is it. Its ashes mildew and trash, an old blender in the driver’s seat. A photograph makes it mean something, though perhaps only its own failure.

If a word means, it consoles. That’s what I used to think. Kipukas live on lava fields; they’re framed. Life like a surprise. When I watched McCartney (in bits) at Glastonbury, I remembered what joy resembles. Assembled like legos, logos.

Take a soft shield to battle. Let it give, in and back. Don't get angry; respond only with love.

The bench on Alakea Street, Sunday morning

"Are you a visitor?" asked the woman next to me at a bus stop on Alakea Street. She was an old woman, bent-shouldered, who wore a straw hat with a lavender lei around the brim. Her dress was blue, or lavender, and white, and her calves gave evidence she walks. I said no. She pointed up at a tree, said "fairy terns." I looked and saw flashes of white feathers on a lower branch. "They don't build nests," she told me, "just lay their eggs on the branches." She had very clear eyes. "The bird's eyes are blue," she said, "with what resembles eye-liner around them." Look, she added, they're about to fly away, and they did. But down the street--she pointed--more will fly this way. She was going to Kailua, and then to a family reunion at the North Shore. Her sister lives in Volcano, and she did, too.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Forgive us our trespasses

25 June 2022

On the armrest of a couch, just above the old golf trophy, I found a Ronald Reagan photo book. He wears a cowboy hat and smiles at the ceiling.

On a broken windshield on a broken car, I found a gnome whose hands spread wide: “This is how much I love you,” it read. One ornamental eye was missing.

On the wall of an abandoned house I found a calendar from July, 2016 that recorded the weeks of a pregnancy (32, 33, 34, 35); from another wall, two stuffed animals looked out. They were nailed on, like art.

On yet another wall, I found family photos, a graduation, a smiling couple, an elementary school class, an envelope that read “Memories,” but kept them inside its plastic window.

In the kitchen, I found two DVDs of “Hot Jailhouse Sluts,” the photo of which was censored by Zuckerberg, who buys up land on Kauai. No one can afford to live there.

On the filthy bathroom sink, a bottle of blue mouthwash.

Next to another old house, a ruined piano, keys and strings bent, lying on the ground amid the weeds.

The inventory of abandonment includes our and our mothers’ wars. It’s a lineage, violence. It frames our biographies, the opening diagrams of Russian novels, the day after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Turn over the loam, seed it with tears. We walk toward the explosion, knowing it will happen. “But they said it was settled law.”

My mother said she wept at military cemeteries in Europe, but she drank her tears. Rust ate away at the scaffolding of her grief. Rust grew between feeling and expression, until they lost track, like long-ago roommates. No phone call brought them back together. Only the arbitrary remained. A feeling. An expression. Nonsense.

We compare the numbers of our D&Cs, laugh nervously at their criminality, as of yesterday. “Take your dogma off my daughter.” Mine writes to say what a terrible day, something about Texas. Stay in a blue state, I advise her. Red is for anger; blue is for grief.

To make an inventory is to organize, to take account, to learn the history of your things. An inventory exists in the present; there is none for what I had ten years ago, or will have ten years hence. It's the math we do around our feelings when they attach to things. When I count my losses, I see stuffed animal, rusted car, a scattering of ashes. No longer objects, they are now fake news.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Five or Six Perfections


20 June 2022

Each of us has only five or six ideas. My perfection is time. The present is a glowing drop I keep sliding from. I try to read the forest floor as if it were an alphabet consisting of frying pans.


Each of us has only five or six ideas. Throw them in a field like bones and see what creatures come to smell them as they rot. The boneyard is not idea, but burial site. Perfection of place.

Each of us has only five or six ideas. They wiggle like a magician’s plates, defying physics until he sweeps across the stage. Today, mine hide from me, like my dog beneath a blanket. Five or six times she howled in her sleep.

Each of us has only five or six ideas. Either we husband them or we do not. Either we’re frugal or profligate. Our early work might have been enough. But in this lateness, light.

Each of us has only five or six ideas. He begins every poem with the weather. The weather is bad today, so wait five or six more. Take notes on each day’s conditions, as they shift. The weather is visible idea, unless it’s just the weather.

Each of us has only five or six ideas. We breathe them in and out, out and in, wondering at repetition as a state of being, then being again. You cannot breathe the past, one says, though I filter it through this tense, counting toward the future past.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Lilith and the Unseen Voices

Yes, Lilith and I _had_ gone around a No Trespassing sign; the rusty equipment was too luscious to miss. I'd started taking close-ups of the rusted grill and some rusty bolts on an earth mover when I heard a tinny voice say, "Hello. Can I help you?" It took a second hello before I realized that the voice was coming from trees above me. The voice inquired what I was doing. "Taking pictures of the equipment," I said. I was asked if there were a reason for my taking photos. No, I said. 
Lilith and I returned to the dirt and gravel road and headed back from where we came. We took the first left on a paved road and headed toward Wright Road. Two women were weeding a lawn, mother and daughter. They were visiting from Honolulu, the mother said. "It's cold here," the daughter said. They'd seen two cows fighting at the corner last night at 8 p.m. I looked up through a window in the house and saw someone in Buddhist robes. Two women came outside in brown robes. One leaned over to pet Lilith; the other spoke on her cell phone. She was an Abbess of a temple upstairs from Water Drop Restaurant at the corner of Alakea and Bishop. 
As we came up a road close to the cottage, I spotted the woman who'd told me about the Comte de St. Germain, who is channeled by members of an email group she's in. She was washing her car. I asked what the Comte thought of Trump. "He's a disrupter," she said, expressing incomprehension that she knows people who support him.