Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PennSound Author Page

I'm pleased to announce that PennSound has put up an author's page of some of my work. There's a new recording of selections from Dementia Blog at the top.

Their main page is here. Keep checking for updates about their extensive archive.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Memory Card, Maui

The girls in Pukalani are beautiful, really beautiful, but they hold up their arms and the hair goes all the way down like this. The large-bellied granite contractor holds his right arm up, points underneath. Maui's economy better; he's been working overtime. Soccer's a poor person's sport; they've got to be hungry. Before penalty kicks, the goalie wept. That's not defense; you gotta front 'em! The man with the big Bud beside the pool adopted his daughter. Doesn't know what to tell her about the Catholic church. Hates hypocrites. Flew cargo planes, but never to Nepal. I don't need a room; I could sleep in the jungle; the room's for her. Michael Jordan told him he couldn't even take his kids to the park. She slept in the same bed with him until she was eight, but now she wants her privacy. We can't just keep printing money. That's his idea; he doesn't listen to the radio. For the soccer dads, the aquarium is an economy; they sort the eating fish from those that taste bad. That one cost $45 dollah Foodland. Wonder what happened to that kid on the surfboard who was speared by a fish. Hit him in the chest, brah. Ho, he was in a Zodiac when one of those fish started circling. Turn off the lights! She was a funny girl: Dawn remembers her classmate, the famous writer. Always saying odd things, like today we're counting arm pit hairs—22 on the right and 20 on the left.

--27 June 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dementia meditation, bike ride 6/21/10

The problem is not dying; the problem is not dying. The phrase has run through my head for days now, like a prosody exercise with bite (over-bite).

Startled four good-sized tan and black piglets along Kam Highway before He`eia Pier. They turned and ducked into the brush, wagging their little tails.

One small blue sandal on the shoulder of Kahekili. Left or right?

Google search that lands on this blog: dementia patient does not know difference between 2 hours and 2 minutes; a second wonders about links between cheese and Alzheimer's.

Birds singing from a monkey pod at the corner of Kahekili and Hui Iwa as the light waits to change. Where's the change? my Republican interlocutor demanded on the plane. Said environmentalists were to blame for the Gulf disaster; they forced the oil companies to drill in deep water. Otherwise, they'd drill on land. Our mothers-with-dementia stories matched.

Katy Butler writes in the NY Times about how she and her mother turned off her father's pacemaker. Demented, the pacemaker kept him alive, a kind of perverted fountain of youth. Teresias with a tiny engine in his chest. Sudden death is out of fashion these days. We insist that our good-byes go on, and on.

No one has found the line between what we are willing to concede and what we cannot any longer resist. It's the border between legal and alien territories, between the place where they do not ask for ID and the place where they will not accept it. It's somewhere before or after the keys are taken away or the 3 a.m. wanderings begin or the CIA has implanted a mic in your forehead. When you reach the border, you are no longer capable of refusing yourself entry. Fantasies of carbon dioxide forgotten. You cannot remember to have killed yourself.

The verbs peel away, as if you are slowly forgetting French, volume by volume of grammar exercises. The past is not simple or conditional or subjunctive. It cannot be conjugated. There is absence in the present tense before that, also, ducks away. Scattershot nouns, processed with unaffiliated verbs, pesto of pine and saw dust.

The cat turns on the phone by lying on it. Sangha called 911 when he was 15 months old. Someone at your number called. Is there an emergency? She found joy in noticing the stones, the daffodils. She found joy in noticing them again. She found joy. There was an instant, unremembered. Past that now, she "dwindles," dies passively.

"Mom," I wanted to say, I'm ready to give up if you are." Instead, I asked if I could kiss her cheek. She said yes. Soft.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"Lift a great silence off a small detail": Sesshu Foster's _World Ball Notebook_

In one of the 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould the pianist is shown sitting at a diner. As he sits quietly, the sounds of conversations around him meld together into a fugue; their content is not meaning but form and tone. The background is noise (not white, but of many colors), but the foreground--where the musician sits alone at his table--is silence. His quiet is required for the moment to work, that instant at which the engine of communication--its noise--turns into music. If 32 Short Films brings abstracted sound into vision, then Sesshu Foster's World Ball Notebook begins from visual and sonic details and lifts their silences off.

While the book is organized around AYSO soccer games, very few of the poems are devoted to soccer; even fewer make direct links between soccer and the world beyond the pitch. "Game 2" makes the connection; after the poet sees a woman dragged by a speeding car, he concludes, "given as much as a full minute, i'd not seen a clear move--out-flanked in that hesitation, as if by a wing forward" (2). But it's a gesture only; other such connections are left unstated, except by the book's clever, at times perverse, form, which is that of games, not chapters. The book is composed of 118 "games. While the rules change, the game is one of observation; hence, in "Game 77":

In a spare moment lift a great silence off a small detail. Note in particular how factual aspects of the detail reveal vast political silence. This detail is the tip of the iceberg, indicator of a world of possibility. But for our purposes let us stick to one small detail of your choice. For example, the hairnet worn by the Mexicans, male and female, working in the kitchen today where you got your food. Anything like this. Pick anything. (89)

Poems like "Game 62" fulfill the rules of this game, unpeeling the layers of Piceance Basin, where foreign company reps mingle with locals whose housing has gone through the roof with oil workers with Mexicans who fill trailer parks and then the story of a real conflagration in which several people died. Other poems complete a catalogue of contemporary America that mostly lacks the enforced cohesion of Walt Whitman's section 15 of Song of Myself or the spiritual joy and despair of Allen Ginsberg's Howl. This is not to say that there is no affect in World Ball Notebook, for Foster is hardly a neutral observer, but the reader is left to experience that affect (for internal use only, the label might read). It's not given, but offered up.

"Game 77" begins with the poet assigning himself a writing exercise, or game: "In a spare moment lift the great silence off a small detail." The assignment begins with an admission; the poet, unlike the workers he observes, has "a spare moment." His "lifting," unlike theirs, is invisible, sometimes spiritual, always politically aware. The "world of possibility" is his, not theirs, and depends on "anything." As poet he is wealthy, but he is keen to find markers of economic inequality. Foster is an empathic writer, but his is what might be termed a material empathy. He plays a game of observation and notation, but what he observes is not a game so much as conflict of another kind, involving work, marriage, politics, race, and urban life. The stadium may be (mostly) Los Angeles, but the participants are not players. They are mainly those late capitalism does not permit to play, leaves on the sidelines.

Foster is a gifted eavesdropper, one who knows that to find the poem the poet needs merely to sit still and (like Gould attending the music of public conversations) wait for it to happen. He shapes these events into prose poems or uses Bernadette Mayer type games as forms, hence the grocery list in "Game 74"; the list of "my [x's]" that is "Game 5"; the frequent fill-in-the-blank sections; the numbered observations; the postcards or emails; the "checklists" he has friends write for him; the coincidences; the stories about his "kid," the unmarked elegies.

There is much to write about the position of the observer in these poems. The poet is sometimes judgmental, on occasion about his own actions. For reasons of my own, I'm sure, I was fascinated by "Game 68," about soccer games in Iowa City. The locals are judged instantly; they're white people who adopt Korean children as a "fad"; they are unfriendly to the observing poet/soccer dad; they make him feel like an outsider. But at the moment he feels their unkindness most powerfully--one of those picnics where parents talk story--he turns his powers of observation on himself: "I laughed out loud, realizing I'd been standing on the sidelines cheering and watching the games so single-mindedly I had never noticed the locals" (77). A reader of Foster's book can be grateful both for his single-mindedness and for the way he turns the tables (or fields) on himself. His is not governing subjectivity, but a governing objectivity. Thankfully, the govern-or (not governator, who comes in for opprobrium along the way) also has a sense of humor.

Foster's book led me, via google, to his blog. His post of June 6, 2010 offers the most powerful response to the environmental disaster/crime in the Gulf that I've yet seen. He juxtaposes photographs of oil-drenched pelicans by Charlie Riedel with his own short prose pieces. The terrible directness of the photographs, at which one can hardly bear to look, are met obliquely by Foster's meditations on his day, which begins in a cafe. He is Glenn Gould absorbing sound, image: "As he glanced up from his coffee at the cafe, his cousin talking about the economy, he caught a glimpse of a TV news anchor with a certain image related to this news item emblazoned on a widescreen." If he "catches a glimpse" of the "this news item," we cannot but be caught within the images of pelicans dying in cauls of oil. The photos trap us, even if we can "surf" away from them (our metaphors bite us back).

What is most powerful in the collaging of text and photograph is the deliberate distance created between them. Foster does not write about the photographs, nor even much about the birds. He writes about his day, about students at the school where he teaches, the "ordinary" violence (I use that word ironically) of budget cuts, of fights in the halls.

A teacher complained about a student. Another complained about the administrator who many seemed to dislike for an abrasive voice and pronounced indifference. A couple of students complained about various lacks of the latest issue of the school newspaper. Somebody complained that the latest round of budget cuts caused the district to cancel all recycling programs, yet the district produced massive amounts of paper waste. A bus driver cracked acerbically about another driver who had taken his usual spot. That was as far as he was going with the grievance at this time.

On the one hand, these complaints are petty, set as they are between photographs of animals killed by human neglect and greed. On the other hand, the juxtapositions of image and "complaint" bring these worlds together in ways they have not been joined in the media. The media tells us about shrimpers on the coast, about "ways of life" that are threatened, about animals swimming furiously away, away from the spill, dying of exhaustion. But, for the most part, these are not "our" way of life. "Our way" is more likely to be what Foster overhears among his colleagues and students. "Our way of life" is not working, is also violent, if on other levels from the life and death struggle in the Gulf. Our situations are not uninvolved with each other:

We have a situation here. Someone runs off. Empty hallways, later on, empty hallways. I stepped between the guys who were fighting, somebody pulled one of them off the other. I pushed another one up against the wall. His face was blanched, his stare hollowed out with adrenaline, he was breathing hard. I don’t know what was happening behind me. I turned and they were gone. He had his hand to his face, blood streaming from his nose. Blood drips on the floor.

While not "like" the pelican, the boy with the hollowed out stare is also endangered. As are the schools, decorum on the roads, possibilities for communication . . . what Foster shows us is that each situation is ours, that how we deal with it matters. His microscope blows each detail up (I think of another film here, about an unsolved crime, a photographer, an obsession) until we are forced to make the metonymic leap between details, situations, our lives and those of the pelicans drowning in the Gulf. "Would you volunteer to help in the Gulf?" my computer screen demands of me.


While in Virginia the other week I talked to friends about the Glenn Gould film; we remembered that we'd had the same conversation several years ago. We agreed the film could be used in a classroom. Listen, observe, take heed: these are its lessons. I wrote a poem about the film years before that first conversation. Here it is:

Truck Stop Fugue

One man in a cold space. The word as self, exchanged. World in which there is no moon, no cloud. Where there are variations without theme, indulgences preceding sin. In which there is no background, only counterpoint. To hear as he does a kind of empathy. In kind. Kinder, kind kids. Da kine, or an evasive opening. Moon down, the boy says, where down means gone. He was not a hermit, for he had a phone. Light bends, distracts, is consumed by dust, and that is why the sky is blue. One man in a cold studio, dancing. Time may be replayed but is never repeated. I am obsessed by form because I am never still. Indulgence is desire at its extremity so I want wavers from poverty to plenitude. Give everything away.

from And Then Something Happened (Salt, 2004)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Charlie Chan Is Dead and Living in Honolulu

[Yunte Huang, 2007]

The Ohioan Earl Derr Biggers took a real Chinese man from Hawai`i, Chang Apana, and immortalized him as Charlie Chan; now a real Chinese man from Santa Barbara, Yunte Huang, has written the story of Earl Derr Biggers and his creation. That is to leave out at least one significant step, namely the declaration that Charlie Chan is Dead, not once but in two anthologies of Asian American literature edited by Jessica Hagedorn of the Philippines and New York City. If Asian American literature can be seen to emerge out of the death of Chan, then another way of looking at American history and culture rises from his ashes in Yunte Huang's Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his Rendezvous with American History, from Norton. Huang does several things in his book: he writes the biography of Chang Apana, who inspired Biggers's Charlie Chan; he situates Chang Apana in the 19th and 20th century history of Hawai`i; he writes about Biggers himself, as well as about the actors who played Chan, most importantly Warner Oland; and he uses these individual stories to tell the larger tale of Chinese immigration to the United States. If this were not enough, Huang also writes an autobiography of sorts, inscribing his own cultural, national, and linguistic histories into the narrative. And so the book opens with an awkward anecdote of a department secretary who tells Yunte Huang that he reminds her of Charlie Chan. By the end, the awkwardness of this anecdote is gone, and Huang has added Charlie Chan to his own version of The Making of Americans.

Let me start at the end of the book, since that is where I come in. A couple of years after Tinfish Press published Yunte's Cribs, a book of documentary/comedic poems (unusual combination) that featured wild linguistic leaps, he came to UH to participate in a conference on translation and to give a reading from his work. It was not an easy time for him, as his marriage was breaking up; I too began to flinch whenever his cell phone rang. He had little privacy during these phone calls because he and his then wife, both Chinese, spoke to one another in English. During a break in the conference proceedings and from the dreaded phone calls, we went on an excursion to the police department museum and then to the Chinese graveyard in Manoa, where (in a driving rain) we found Chang Apana's grave.

Yunte gave a talk on translation. That he is himself translated was more evident in his linguistic choices: speaking English to his Chinese wife, punning extravagantly in English to English speakers as if to point out, syllable by syllable, the strangeness of their own tongue. His Tinfish book is called Cribs, and is rather inevitably a doubling of "crib" as a manger or enclosure for children, and "crib" as a theft or plagiarism. Or, the translation of the book you're trying to read in the language you don't adequately know, which explains perhaps why so many copies of The Stranger by Albert Camus were bought by members of my high school French class. Where Yunte's translations from Chinese often concentrate less on "meaning" than on the "radicals" that accumulate into meaning, in Cribs he finds the radicals in English. He unpacks words according to their syllables, hence:

I want to
bask in your basket
toll in your toilet
ski on your skin
nap in your napkin
chat in your chateau
pace in your space

("For MIA, Made in America: A Song of Love that Goes Nowhere," 12)

Or he conjugates the word "it": "i / it / sit / shit / shite / hite / hit / it / t" (19).

And he performs a turnabout on the othering of Asians according to their "nese-ness":

"One day, in the street of New York City, he was asked by a white man who was apparently annoyed by his exotic appearance: 'What sort of 'nese are you? A Chinese, Japanese, or Javanese?' The famous author of The Book of Tea replied: 'What sort of 'key are you? A Yankee, donkey, or monkey?'" (59)

Words, then, at once mark the "foreigner" and provide ammunition for a counter-attack. I've written elsewhere on this blog about the writing of Goro Takano, a Japanese writer who wrote his novel With One More Step Ahead in an English at once odd and brilliant. One might say that the ark inside the mark of their English becomes a good part of their art. Charlie Chan's -isms, by way of Biggers's "translations" of Confucian philosophy, render estrangement into wisdom:

--Man who flirt with dynamite sometime fly with angels.
--Slippery man sometimes slip in own oil.
--Time only wasted when sprinkling perfume on a goat farm.
--The wise elephant does not seek to ape the butterfly.

These Chanisms resemble the sayings of Confucius run through a translation engine. How much Biggers knew of Chinese philosophy, if anything, is not made clear in Huang's account of him, but Huang knows a thing or two about Confucius and his western pupil, Ezra Pound. Biggers's "translations" of Confucian philosophy are comedic; Pound's translations are likely also askew, but they also infused modern American poetry with a Confucian pragmatism not unlike that of Ben Franklin. (See Josephine Park.) Without knowing, can we really tell which writer penned the following saying: "He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good"?

[Chang Apana & Warner Oland, 1931]

The sayings of Charlie Chan, then, place him firmly in an American tradition, as well as the Chinese tradition that Biggers is mimicking. (If Biggers did not immerse himself in Apana's family's culture, then Warner Oland did, studying Chinese and traveling to China.) But of course he's also part of a more problematic American tradition, that of the Asian character as created by a white man for the entertainment of (mostly, one presumes) white people. Warner Oland is a Swedish minstrel, a yellow-faced white actor; one has only to remember the controversy over Miss Saigon's casting to realize how flammable the issue has been. It's here that Huang is at his best, weighing--with nearly Confucian dexterity--the racist underpinnings of Chan's popularity against the virtues of the novels and the movies they inspired. Among other things, Huang points out that Charlie Chan belongs in a pantheon of film noir detectives, and that, while Chinatowns have been used in film to denote crime and seediness, it was Chan who was responsible for rooting crime out. He distinguishes between the sinister character of Fu-Manchu, also played by Warner Oland, and the more benign Charlie Chan, in order to present Chan in a more favorable light. Ultimately, however, it's the link between the early 20th century Chang Apana/Charlie Chan and the late century immigrant, Yunte Huang, that makes the case most palpably.

Despite its deft combination of graceful prose and substantive research, there are problems with the book. The presentation of Hawai`i's history is more broad than deep (but is, at least, broad), and occasionally Huang uses terms more poetically than scientifically. My biggest concern was with his use of the term "pidgin" to describe the language that Chan speaks. Certainly Apana would have heard a lot of Hawaiian Creole English (or Pidgin) in his daily life, more than we hear now on the streets of Honolulu. But Biggers did not know pidgin and could not give Apana what might have been one of his languages to speak. To Huang, as to Biggers, "pidgin" refers to what is sometimes called "broken English" or to an idiosyncratic (idiolectical) version of "weird English." So, when Huang writes that he "adopted a poetic diction that imitates Charlie Chan's pidgin," or when he writes about Chan's "pidgin speech," he is not using the term as we use it in Hawai`i, where people actually do speak Pidgin. This will not be a problem for most general readers not in Hawai`i (what they don't know won't hurt them, I suppose) but I do wish he'd done more research on language, rather than plunking terms down on top of meanings they already bear. He also relies on Jack London as reference for Ko`olua the Leper, rather than going to Hawaiian sources. (Much more could be said on the reception of W.S. Merwin's The Folding Cliffs in Hawai`i, along these lines.)

In Cribs, Huang writes about the "paper-sons and paper-daughters" who came by boat to the United States from China. Entire villages memorized stories to tell the immigration officials in the US, officials who would try to trip them up. "The questions put to them were so absurdly detailed and irrelevant, that they would sometimes confuse the 'real' sons and daughters and not the paper ones" (40). Hence, immigrants would enter the country on crib-sheets. While Yunte Huang entered the country on a student visa, no doubt, he is also a "paper-son" of the USA. In that, he is like Charlie Chan, albeit a Chan who is literate, literary, and who has composed an important (auto)biography of the Chinese diaspora in the USA. Yunte Huang is a self-made Chan. And that, I hope, is progress.

[Manoa Valley with the cemetery in the foreground, 2007]

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Alzheimer, Albrecht: Losing Is/Is Not Art


alt = old
als = as
al = all
heim = home
er = he

The google book about Alzheimer has random gaps, as if omission or forgetting were a sales pitch. I buy the book, Alzheimer: The Life of a Physician and the Career of a Disease, by Konrad & Ulrike Maurer, published in Germany in 1998 and by Columbia University Press in 2003. It is worth having, if for Figure 5.6 alone: "Alzheimer jumping rope." He is seen from the back. His jacket has caught the air like a petticoat; his arms are extended like wings; one leg is missing, the one he has just guided over the rope extended by two women and a girl in long dresses.

His voice comes to us mostly in questions. He asks them of his patients. What is your name? What is your husband's name? What year is it? 5 x 7 is what? What am I holding in my hand? Where are you? Sometimes the answers work, often they do not, like bad keys. Sometimes the answer is that I was born this year. Sometimes the answer is I don't know. Sometimes the answer is I'm going to die. When did you get married? To which: "indeed, the woman lives on the same corridor."

Alzheimer's: to discover is to own. The Amerigo Vespuci of forgetting. His exquisitely drawn maps of neurofibrils and brain plaque. An exactitude that meets its unraveling in "softness of the brain."

Auguste D. was his dinghy, his craft, his vessel, the Matson container ship to his idea. Auguste D. was jealous of her husband, a railroad clerk, forgot how to cook, screamed constantly, soiled herself, lost weight. When she died, he received her brain; he drew its tendrils, its blockages, its shrinkage. On her last day she "was very loud," was "very dazed," had ulcerated skin, pneumonia in both lobes. She died at quarter to 6. She had been ill for four and a half years. Her husband could not make his payments at the end. Dr. Alois Alzheimer paid.

With her free hand,
she swats at me, screams,
Stop it. Leave me here to die.

That was the day Malaika King Albrecht's mother forgot how to get out of the car. Al = all. Brecht = alienation of the audience, Bertolt. Durer: endure, duration.

Then she cusses, such a string of words.
For a moment I'm almost glad
she remembers them. (17)

There is little art to this losing. Losing objects, losing loved ones, these are artful. Losing your bedroom, losing the name for puppy, losing control of the car: these are not. What once was there is gone. What once was there reappears: "Learn to see dead family members / in the dark. Over / and over, call to them." (25)

While those of us who cannot see the dead must learn to forget, too. "Sometimes I / start to dial your number / before I remember." (35)

The final section of King Albrecht's small book is "Erasure," which re-presents some of the poems already printed in the text. The words are lighter, they are disappearing, save for a few bold ones, like "my mother" and "can't get back" and "Remember?" The poet cannot completely let her language go. There are still words where erasure is being enacted. Let them go. Erase them. They are gone. And yet their interference assures us there is no new poem, no Rad I Os to Paradise Lost, just occasional blurts of sense gathered from out of the white noise. Forgetting is not clean, or quiet.

Other absences, elisions: Alzheimer's colleague, Dr. Rudin (umlaut over the u). First mention on page 109: "The second scientific assistant, Swiss-born Ernst Rudin, because full professor of psychiatry in Munich in 1933 and a member of the specialist advisory council for population and racial policy in the Third Reich's Interior Ministry; he can be considered a pioneer of German 'Hereditary and Racial Care.'" (109)

Second mention: "As a scientist he distinguished himself primarily with works on the genealogy of schizophrenia. However, he continues to be remembered for writing the medical commentary on the Nazi law on the prevention of congenitally ill offspring, a law he also helped to implement."


The ethics--the lack thereof--in these terms astonishes.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"She's welcome to her disease":_Stanzas in Meditation_ at the Alzheimer's home

Stanzas in Meditation I

[Television on. Background music.]

WATSH! WATSH! Where's my watsh?

Mom pushes the inhaler away.
Mom pushes the Ensure away.
Mom sits next to P, without the loving lean of P & G, yesterday.

P: "I'm fine. I'll wawawa dyu unnnnnn." She starts to cry.

"That makes me happy because lulu. Lulu, yes
I hope it's my father where it's cuz you kids don't have to be like that.
My back hurts: a little old lady that's me.
You wad it you dad it you got it you dat.
These are beautiful things.
I think it's perfect good,
if that's what we're getting it at [$5 off].
Turn him around you could get them back
because we need them; she wanted to was
helping fine with us help us, you don't have
too much it'll come.
I see it's over dere dere or not,
I just don't have a rose
because I might break it.
You done good
Your station but you're good
were nice were; I bet she's
welcome to her disease.
$5 off $25; where I going?"

"She's wagging in her tail
and she was feeling bad."

G. sucks on the black cloth foot of her doll with striped socks.


G. chews on doll's foot.
"I'll lie down & this is so good this is so good
& bound to feel that way."

n n n n n n n n n
a a a a a a a a a a" [sound up, sound down]

G: "It's one lake that came out."

J: "This lady is a good lady, can't pretend.
Things have to be good. All ready for good people."
[Walks around the room, pats everyone on the arm.]

P: H H H H H A A H A A A A

G: "I have to take this table and shout!
We can read now!" [drops doll by dress to floor, falls asleep]



N: "Barbie Barbie / Barbie Barbie / Barbie Barbie / (goes into the dining room) /
Barbie Barbie / Barbie Barbie / Barbie Barbie / etc."

P. gets up, shuffles, does a slow circular dance, trips on G's shoe, falls.


Dinner time. Only Martha refuses to move to the dining room. She watches
Leonardo di Caprio promise the Irish vote to the Sheriff. She will not move.

She will not move for B.
She will not move for Susan.
She will not move for the young African man.
She will not move for R.
She will not move for E.
She will not move for Susan.

Susan and Martha sit in the television room.
Martha wants her to go away.
Martha waves her arm when anyone comes near.
Leave Martha alone.
She will come later or she will not come at all.

R tells E to tell Susan to leave the room.
It's Susan's visit. She's never this angry. She always comes, if not
at first, then the second time you reach out for her hands.

B gets her into the dining room.
You can come back now.


G: "If you can go home, then grant it is!"

S comes to see his mother.
"You open da stoah?"
He doesn't have a store.
"You didn't open da stoah?"

F: "Not long, but over 7.
What do they put outside.
When people asked information,
They'd know it in opposition.
And that might we put on the was
a cover, he liked doing it too.
A bit from the door, so people
could cast away, he's resting him
causing him if he got ready.
He had one of the other
give a test one of the girls--
he dropped her on the floor
and it was me.

It's ok. The only time I talked to him.

Not against but sort of
they were having a good time
a nice church, he pays attention"

G: "Under my rough.
If you give her Laos, invilleagable."


A scream.
J has fallen.
"Get up!"

"Oh G O D [screams]"
Her head is bleeding.
"Oh God I'm dead.
I don't want to go
Oh I'm DEAD.
Oh God please help me."

"It's too late now."

Get off my god damn"

P: "againagainagainagainagainagain."

S: "She didn't fall.
She was in somebody's room.
I don't know what happened.
What happened?"

An old woman is crying. (She always cries.)
She does not live in this lane.
Through her empty mouth she utters gutterals.
"Was ist los?"
"Menschen . . . Haus."
I walk her to her lane. She is crying. She is speaking
in words that sound German.
I knew I studied college German for a reason.
She is Dutch, I'm told.
Her memory box full of family smiles.
She is crying when I leave.


I tell Mom I am leaving.
"For good?"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

NO CHEESE: June 1 in the Alzheimer's home

Monday. Common area: television, on. Music in background.

Act One: 10 a.m.

My mommy's having a baby! A baby, a baby, a baby!

G & P sit on the sofa.
P's eyes dark, deep, her face white as powder.
G has her head on P's right shoulder.

Look! Two babies. Twins! The babies, the babies, the babies!

"I can't hear a word you're saying."

"I said get out!"

"It's hard for her because she dddddd." [Hands flutter at waist]

P tries to stand up.
G tries to kiss her right arm.
P falls back.
They resume their position.

A vicious German defense brought the Allied advance to a halt at Casino.
People say I look 10 years younger; I look 10 years younger.

"Do you remember, World War II, mom?"

P begins to cry. She embraces K, who starts to take her for a walk.
"Where are your shoes? You need shoes to walk. You need to stop
crying or we can't go for a walk."

P & G resume positions on the couch.

I've been looking for a long time for someone to talk to and you're it because you can't understand one word I say to you. I want to talk about my girl back home. You I can tell the truth to

s s s s s s s - v v v v v v v v - s s s s
guh guh gonna go
There wasn't much time to think about women

P is cold, she's cold. She crosses her arms over pink & white striped blouse and a pink cross on a pink necklace. She wipes her cheeks on the bottom of her shirt.

"Marvelous! Good. Nothing." This woman, also in stripes, runs off with my mother's elbow straw from her can of Ensure. "How do you do your air?"

The luckiest people in the world

Act II: 4:30 p.m.

"Yer not talkin to yerself--I'm listenin'." [F to self]

Why oh why can't I
They love everyone but you on top of this f__ hill.

"She's a witch, I tell ya--that's what she is."

"Are you with the police again? Your mother asks me out for beers, but I think I'm too young for her. We had a luau the other day, the hula dancers had their tops on, very disappointing. When you go back to Hawai'i, send me a shrunken head, ok, but make sure the eyes are closed."

F: "He showed us that, I was wanting to go to the 5th floor; didn't know how to, must be the 1st floor where they cook stuff."

"They don't care about us."

"What's your first name?" Susan
"What's your name?" Susan
"Susan, and I still don't know it."
tangerine -- [gunfire] -- across the pond, yes she has
"Ruth, what is your name?"

"I'm Martha's daughter."
"I guess not."

"I'm going to do half a bugle,
Shiloh fast--
Is she going to win you, too?
But they'll be all right.
What we're going to do and have Ann's lot."


"They're all happy on this side
I got enough enough
Disquella, disk-la
That's the porty of the way."


"The name of the name of someone who is very cloned?
How is your doing?"

Mom: "don't bother me, don't bother me."

"Is your mom and dad doing it?"

"I'll make a noise."

J weeps over dinner. Her neighbor says:
"You're one of my favorite people."

"I lost my keys."
"That was peas, too."

"4 5 5 5 5 5
Her story is see you in a better place."

"You're the classiest gal in the whole world.
Don't be frightened."

Maybe this time I'll

"I want to go to the police
yes yes yes
to do something."

"Please don't throw us out.
Don't shut us off, please."

"I want to GET OUT,
what they're doing to me

ACT III: After dinner

"Have you heard the one about the mushrooms?"

"Have you heard the one about the two carrots?"