Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday Sermon From the Church of the Batshit Crazy



I know I've got some readers out there who are doing so. Please tell me how and why you can. You can even do it anonymously on my blog if you're too embarrassed to be honest.


Friday, July 22, 2016

It's Hot



and it's about to get even hotter. The boys and I are leaving for Hilton Hell tomorrow morning. While I'm looking forward to seeing my family, I am not looking forward to the heat of South Carolina. It's toasty here in southern California, but I've become a weather wimp since I moved here nineteen years ago, and the southern humidity kills me. Despite the beauty of the east coast, I swear I have PTSD from the decade I spent dragging Sophie there once a year. I'm not going to belabor it as I have before, but suffice it to say that if I were an atheist, I was converted to one during one of those weeks. I hate to say it, but I'm just sayin'.

No offense to you liberal southerners, but I'm also dreading seeing the bumper stickers, the posters, the Confederate flags -- you know the rest. Yeah, I know we've got Drumpfers out here in Californee, but they generally stay hidden. Did you know that someone built a tiny wall around Drumpf's star on Hollywood Blvd? It was built by an artist named Plastic Jesus, and there are tiny American flags flying at each corner. I have actually never even seen a Drumpf bumper sticker in the wild. I might live in a bubble out here, but it's extra nice in an election year. I'm not certain if any of the people with whom I will be fraternizing  next week in South Carolina are voting for Drumpf, but I intend to stay slightly buzzed all week and not say a word. 

On a more pleasant note, rumor has it that California might organize and build a wall along its eastern border if Drumpf is actually elected. My friend Sylvia suggested that Jerry Brown can be the first President. Oregon and Washington can be included, which would solve the water problem. Since we're the sixth biggest economy in the world, I'm thinking it could work. Names floating around for the new country are: CalGone and CalExit. I'm thinking Calorewash.

What do ya'll think? Too much levity? Shall I be more serious?





Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dystopian Nightmare

Scene from Fritz Lang's Metropolis


I had never watched Drumpf speak until tonight when I braved up and watched him accept the Republican party nomination. I'm only a bit embarrassed to tell you that it made me cry. I think it was around the second sentence when he began speaking about Law and Order and policemen being shot, when he sneered at political correctness and the entire crowd erupted in chants and cheers that I felt simultaneously chilled to the bone and filled with sorrow. I don't need to tell you that the latest shooting of a black caregiver to an autistic young man had already filled me with dread for the day in a sort of double whammy.

I will tell you that I have friends and family -- very close family -- that are actually supportive of Drumpf, and that this causes so much anguish that I feel paralyzed.

I'm not sure what to do?

I'm breathing in sorrow and breathing out love, but it's choking me.




kubeiko

n. a state of exhaustion inspired by an act of senseless violence, which forces you to revise your image of what can happen in this world—mending the fences of your expectations, weeding out invasive truths, cultivating the perennial good that’s buried under the surface—before propping yourself up in the middle of it like an old scarecrow, who’s bursting at the seams but powerless to do anything but stand there and watch.

via The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Accommodation and Picking Mushrooms at the Edge of Dread


A relentless southwest wind blows in the Laramie Range of Wyoming. It has blown for eons, scraping the mountains bare of soil, carving out the landscape. It causes trees to grow at an angle and lifts into the air things that ought to stay on the ground. It complicates all manner of human activity. People who live there successfully have reached an accommodation with the wind; some who couldn't, went insane.
Disability is a steady west wind in our lives. It permeates our existence, altering the topography of our days and causing our family and our life to grow at an angle. Without judging the wind as good or bad, we can observe the truth of it, acknowledge the force of it in our lives, and take the measure of our accommodation.
from Changed by a Child by Barbara Gill 

Someone I know who was angry with me about one thing or another said, You need to get your head out of your ass, spouting poetry. I know the person who said it to me, and it stung, but not for much longer than a moment.

Your head is just too much in the clouds. You should probably stop reading and go outside. There's validity to that.

I suppose.

I've always read to accommodate my thinking self to the world. Words -- particularly those strung together as poetry -- help accommodate my imagination to the world.




My boys are back from Switzerland and with them come buckets of chocolate and laundry, addiction to Pokemon Go, deep man voices and walls that can't contain the loudness. I'm not sure whether it's seeing them again or the circus-like atmosphere of the RNC and the swirl of clips and memes and Tweets, but I feel giddy. Like I can't stop.

I have to stop looking at videos and memes and visual things. I have to read. Words.

I take the measure of my accommodation.


What Kind of Times Are These

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows
                  uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but
                 don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light —
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.

Adrienne Rich, from What Kind of Times Are These


Monday, July 18, 2016

How to Cope, Part 2,345,679



What sort of superpower would you have if you could?

I'd like to fly, I think. I'd like to soar. I love the word soar and how it conjures wings wide open, arms, too. Then again, I'd like the ability to go back in time.

Go back in time to fix things you messed up or change the outcome of your life?

Oh, not at all. I have few regrets and none that I'd fix if it made today a different one, at least in my life. I would like to go back to the moment when I learned to read. I'd like to hold onto that feeling and then maybe go back to what it felt like sitting up in the cherry tree in my front yard in New Jersey where I read The Hobbit and the Henry Huggins books, Lois Lenski, A Little Princess, Jane Eyre. I'd like to feel that feeling again -- being immersed literally in a book of fiction.


What are you reading?

God. So many things at once. Dostoevsky Reminiscences by Anna Dostoevsky. Don't roll your eyes. It's good. How could I call his novels my favorites and not have known that he married his stenographer after she transcribed The Gambler as a twenty-year old? Being the perfect wife to one of the great (male) writers was, sadly, something I was rather obsessed with as a young woman. I won't give you more details because like I noted above, I wouldn't change a thing. Also, the very funny Harrison Scott Key's The World's Largest Man. I follow Key on Twitter where he makes me laugh every single day, and so far I'm laughing through his memoir. Oh, and I just downloaded The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone a new book by Olivia Laing, described as "an expertly crafted work of reportage, memoir and biography on the subject of loneliness...." Weird. Lots of non-fiction, which is unusual for me. I'm still reading Lucia Berlin's short stories, though, and every time I start thinking about Drumpf and any of the goings-on in The New White Supremacist Republican Party of Spineless Humans, I pick up Trollope's Can You Forgive Her? and am lulled into a nineteenth century daze. Since the novel is probably tens of thousands of pages (I've downloaded it on my Kindle and am around 13% done), I'm reading it in a sort of bookworm's drinking game to deal with TNWSRPSH (see above to translate acronym). I also love Trollope so it's a win-win for me.











I'm trying to develop a sense of place in my writing.

The windows of lovers.

A broken window looking out onto a Georgian column, a sloped grassy hill only visible if you peel back the pizza box shoved in place of the glass. The smell of piss, the sound of a broom sweeping. Four panes broken by a cross, un-curtained with a view of a pond and scraggly field, over my shoulder if I lie flat on the bed, naked and laughing. A yellowed pull shade, darkened by cigarette smoke, the stark branches of a tree, black in a gray sky, if I lie flat on the black couch, the material slippery against my skin. Bars, a rusted fire escape, visible from the door where I stand, clothed. Blinds, slanted light, the sound they make, the rustle, when a breeze hits them, then me, peace.


What's happening, Reader? How are you coping?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Both Confident of the Tune

The road upon which we are ramblers


To Chris

I am rich in friendship, bound to a few women I've known for decades, to many that I've known for years, and to several that I've known for only a short time. I met my friend Chris at a writing workshop a little more than a year ago and fell in love with her at another writing workshop up in Tomales Bay last fall. I say fall in love because it was that but not that -- it was her reading her writing and me reading and listening. It was me reading my writing and her reading and listening. The deep connection of writers. I sat to the right of Lidia, our workshop mentor, and Chris sat to the right of me. I was aware at every moment of these two women on either side of me -- Lidia's blond braids and red boots, her Cheshire cat smile, the way she coaxed eros out of all of us and Chris' wide cheekbones, her dark eyes and silence, her coiled energy that unfolded in words on paper. I heard Chris read her life several times during the five days we met in workshop and sat in witness to what some may deem unbearable about that life except that some would bear it and do so gratefully. The power of Chris' coiled energy rippling outward from the page, her sweet voice. I do that because I can. Because it's an honor to be witness. As a mother I am rooted to the earth. My lap is broad. My hands are large. I would have gathered Chris up into my arms as she read, placed my hand on her head, my palm to her forehead, my fingers a cradle. I held her words instead. They held me.

I say fall in love because it was that but not that --  it was getting to know her through conversation about books, about our lives, over food and wine, Chinese fortune-telling, laughs. She brought beads to Sophie the first time she met her, looked in her eyes, spoke to her. I imagine she heard Sophie's voice such is her quiet, her coiled energy. 

Chris is the big sister I've never had.



On Friday night I took Sophie to the beach and picked up Chris. She had told me earlier that she would be happy to accompany us sometime this summer to the beach, to spend more time with Sophie. We walked along the water for some time, got soaked at high tide and then walked back to the car where Chris held up a towel as a shield while I changed Sophie into dry pants. When I sat Sophie in the wheelchair and began to pull her hair up and into a hairband, she began to seize, and Chris asked what she could do, how she could help. She shook the sand out of a towel and gently draped it around Sophie, covering even her feet. There's nothing to do, I said, and there is nothing to do. There's nothing to be done, really. Nothing has been done, really. It's been the same every single time Sophie has had a seizure. Nothing to do, nothing to be done, nothing has been done, nothing. That's what it feels like. Energy coiled in me as Sophie expends it. When it was over, Chris said, I've never seen one before. And that was everything. As a mother I'm rooted to the earth. I speak in confident tones. I reached across the wheelchair and put my arms around her, my big sister, my witness.


It is not what you have but what you have lost that links the reader and the writer. The longing to repair loss is in the rhythm and tone of the written piece, not in its words. The rhythm is where the reader senses the writer's truthfulness, as unerringly, I think, as an infant senses whether the person who is holding it loves it. The writer and the reader are always singing along together, both confident of the tune, but the writer more certain of the words than the reader. I understand what people are saying in their letters to me. I might say, What am I supposed to do with the sorrows people have confided in me? But isn't it the same thing as I want them to do with my sorrows, published to them? Don't do anything for me but know about me. You know this song too, don't you? Well, won't you help me sing it?
Nuala O'Faolin, Almost There: The Onward Journey of a Dublin Woman 




Read these:

Where She Came From 
Too Much Hope
The Lid


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Peace on Earth and Mercy Mild



I know that's a phrase for Christmas, and I used it on my Christmas cards for over fifteen years, my three children beautiful and pure looking out, but the word mercy strikes me this morning as missing from our consciousness. I lie on my bed in the blue light of dawn. My boys are 6000 miles away, far from the agonizing events of this week in our country yet closer to those in France and Turkey. My daughter lies curled up asleep on her bed across the hallway where I put her after picking her up off the floor.  A beetle flings itself around my room making more noise than its size suggests, initially scaring me out of bed to a position of vigilance. I've let it be.

Mercy.




#BlackLivesMatter



Courtney Martin wrote this on the inimitable OnBeing website as a guideline for how to talk to children about what's happening:



As a white child, you are afforded a range of privileges and protections that children of color are not afforded and it's important for you to recognize this and actively work to change it. This is deeply and historically rooted. This country was founded, yes on optimism and pluralism, but also on slave labor, exploitation, violence, dehumanization. Don't get bogged down in the guilt and shame of this history, but know it. Your story, our story, is a part of that.
The only way to "move on" from that reality is to never "move on," to understand that just as people of color have to spend a lifetime thinking about their own skin color and how it affects the way they are able to walk through the world, you are walking through the world, this country, this city, these streets, as a white person.
Make it a part of your daily consciousness even when it seems tiring and burdensome (this is not a choice for people of color, nor is it for you). Commit to interrogating the privileges that you inherit and constantly look for creative ways to subvert hierarchies, redistribute power, connect the unconnected. Understand that this isn't about being a "good white person." This is about being brave and convicted and imperfect and tireless and loving and devastated and sometimes feeling dumb about how to make change and taking it personally. You are not above bias and racism. Apologize when you say or do something racist. Shut up and ask questions.
Make real friends who will push you and hold you accountable. Push and hold other white people accountable. Push and hold other white people accountable. Push and hold other white people accountable. 





Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Grace



Dear You,

I have neglected to thank you in any timely fashion but won't undercut my apology with any excuses or defenses. Had I not been so stunned by it, I would have thanked you for your gift months ago. A mutual friend emailed me one day in March to tell me that you wanted to pay for Sophie's cannabis medicine. My friend told me that you read this blog and that I had helped you and that you, in turn, wanted to help us. My friend told me that this is something that you do. I didn't know what to say, so I said nothing. My friend emailed me again and stressed how important this was to you, how customary. Sophie's medicine is expensive. It is expensive for most people. Some people move their entire lives to states where they can have access to cannabis oil. Some people can't afford the medicine at all. We could hardly afford it, but I felt there were people far more worthy than I to receive such a gift. Yet the stress and strain of paying for it was considerable. I struggled for weeks in conflict over whether to accept such generosity. I am a strong person with sharp edges, my softness worn thin by the years. I am proud. I can do it. I can't do it. I can do it.

Accepting help is curiously one of the most difficult challenges I've faced over the two decades of caring for Sophie, and it's something that many of us who do this caregiving find we have in common. I think it has something to do with the chaos of our lives, our need to find order and meaning, to perhaps assuage our guilt and stem our suffering when we can't fix our children or control, really, anything.  There is a grace to accepting grace, and while I have had numerous opportunities to do so in this grand world, I confess to feeling more resistance than yield.  I accepted your gift and thank you for it. Thank you with all my heart. Sophie thanks you with all her heart.

Not a week goes by that I am not asked by someone for help, for advice, for information or for comfort. Graced, I try to live with grace. I feel like the woman at the well, dipping buckets down to the deep and pulling them up, overflowing. I don't know who you are, but your generosity is the water and the water keeps coming up, in buckets overflowing, and it's sustaining all of us. Thank you.

Love,
Elizabeth

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Eating Sunbeams

Wheat-field with Crows
Vincent Van Gogh


I had every intention of writing a post about an encounter I had this weekend with a family at a lacrosse tournament. The usual stuff, story-making, the unraveling of story. Remembered trauma and the surprise of affirmation. I was thinking the tiles of showers, the place where the forehead rests, the groove. I was thinking of all the years.


But it's Pablo Neruda's birthday, and there's his love poetry.

Here's one:




I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.
I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,
and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Identity Hyperbole


I just said good-bye to my heart brothers. Henry and Oliver are off to Switzerland with their father, and while I'm excited for them I also feel -- well -- unhinged. I cried a bit after they left, certain that my life means nearly nothing when they're not around. I wondered what the hell I'd do when they leave for real one day, and I cried a bit harder for my lost identity. I wish I could say this was mostly dramatics or even hyperbole, except that it's sort of, kind of not. I mean, it's the truth. Who am I without these people? Sophie and I sat in the very quiet kitchen, and I fed her some beans and rice. I ate some whole grain crackers that I've recently become addicted to, spread with a thick layer of butter. I might have eaten 1/3rd of a stick of butter, but maybe that's hyperbole. I also ate a tomato from my garden like an apple and sprinkled crazy salt over it before each bite. I sipped some red wine that's been sitting on my counter since my last book salon. I'm not a big drinker, but I figure a tiny buzz might cut the angst a bit. In less than 24 hours, I went from feeling nearly orgasmic with joy and freedom (not hyperbole) after a sunset swim in the Pacific to feeling bereft and abandoned (ok, hyperbole).

Here are some pictures from the weekend.

I was in San Diego County with Henry, attending a lacrosse tournament. When he took off with his buddies for the whole day yesterday, I lay on the hotel bed wondering what the hell I was going to do with myself, but eventually I got up and walked miles, went shopping and bought myself a funky outfit and then went down to the beach in my bathing suit and actually went into the water and swam for at least a half an hour. I submerged myself -- dove into waves and paddled around -- and then dried off, sat on a towel and watched the sun set.






Here I am coming out of the water:


Oops.

Sorry. That was another woman. That woman lives in the Caribbean Ocean and walks out of it occasionally. She has no idea what's coming around the corner. Tell her to turn around and dive back in!

Here I am:




And here's the sun setting over the glorious Pacific ocean:





Friday, July 8, 2016

2 + 2 Does Not Equal Five

Privileged bed

Still flat on my back.

I'm sort of tired of mincing my words, and as some of you know, I'm not a woman who generally minces my words, except when I do. I'm not going to mince my words. I've trudged like many of you, the past couple of days, months, years, lifetimes, mulling not musing about the latest murders of innocent black men. I've watched the videos and wept. I'm ineffectual. I've posted the requisite articles, including a particularly fetching black and yellow BLACK LIVES MATTER poster, under which someone posted ALL LIVES MATTER (no shit, Sherlock, as they say, but all dolphins matter, too). I'm not going to mince my words. My sons, my daughter and I have deep and committed personal relationships with black people that demand I not mince my words.

I'm a white citizen in a country with a dark stain that has nothing to do with skin. America is an apple with a rotten core. We're a violent people with a heritage of slavery and genocide. We live in a country where a police officer, sworn to protect and serve, fires a gun into a car with a child sitting in the back seat and people make excuses for that police officer. I'm not going to mince words. If you come up with some kind of argument for that policeman's actions -- his job is difficult, he operates under extreme stress, he thought his life was in danger -- you are wrong. If you say that All Lives Matter and deride the exclusive Black Lives Matter, you are wrong and you are complicit. This is not opinion. This is fact.



Disarm.



We live in a country where a white man gets a bunch of his mother's guns and goes into an elementary school and shoots a classroom full of first graders dead. We live in a country whose response to that is more guns sold. We live in a country where generally law-abiding people feel justified owning firearms as a personal right, who believe that they are protecting themselves and their families because they can kill someone in turn. We live in a country where snipers can mow down police officers, protecting and serving, in seconds, believing it's their right to do so.

At least one sniper is killed by a programmed robot.


Flags are flown at half-mast for these officers.


I receive a telephone call. A robot asks me to donate to the Police Officers' Association.


It's difficult not to make metaphor, symbol, words, mince.









So hope for a sea change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.*

The great Irish poet Seamus Heaney said that, and he was writing about ancient Greek tragedy. There is nothing new under the sun. That's Ecclesiastes.





I'm no stranger to bias as a mother of a severely disabled young woman. I have spent much of the last twenty-one years making a case for her dignity as a human being and deflecting the subtle arguments that reduce her to a commodity or me to a dependent leech on the system. Last night, Sophie had a giant seizure in her room whose sound brought me running to her door. She lay on the floor against the door, thrashing and groaning. The door is padded. Her head made only soft thuds, absorbed. I couldn't open the door. I called for Henry, her seventeen year old brother. He peered over the door, stepped back twice and then made a flying leap over it and over her. He pulled her, thrashing, away from the door so that I could open it. I opened it, knelt down and put my arms around her knees. Henry put his arms around her shoulders. We lifted her together and lay her on the bed. He bent over her and wiped her hair from her face, the drool from her cheek. What does this have to do with anything?

It means once in a lifetime
That justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.*















*from The Cure at Troy, by Seamus Heaney

Thursday, July 7, 2016

When the Locomotive of the Lord Runs Us Down

No Lifeguard On Duty



Two more black men shot in cold blood by police, children watching. What more is there to say? Our awareness might be nothing but illusion. "Awareness" Awareness, emphasized, italicized. We watch the grainy footage with nothing but cliche hearts rising to throats and sinking to pits of stomach. We are disconnected from one another by technology yet connected down to the infinitesimal by the same. What more is there to say? Does an open heart allow more sadness to be held or does more sadness make the heart open?




A Brief For The Defense
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.
Jack Gilbert

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

French Poetry As Antidote



In my other life, I was a French literature major and read stacks and stacks of novels and essays over those four years, most of which I disliked intensely probably because it was so very difficile.  Don't ask me to say anything in French except perhaps for La Marseillaise (the French National Anthem) which I strangely committed to memory back in the seventh grade.  Le jour de gloire est arrivée. Obviously, the later laboring over tenses and conjugations and idiomatic expressions and the history of French linguistics for four years prepared me for a life of great financial success and acclaim, and even though I can't carry on a conversation in French, I can read the poetry with relative ease and even remember some of my favorites.  It's been an odd day today, so why not think about my skill and love of French poetry? With the possible exception of Jack Gilbert and William Carlos Williams (Asphodel, That Greeny Flower), there are few English-speaking poets who can rival the French in expressions of love as far as I'm concerned. Here's what I mean:

Les roses de Saadi

J'ai voulu ce matin te rapporter des roses;
Mais j'en avais tant pris dans mes ceintures closes
Que les noeuds trop serrés n'ont pu les contenir.

Les noeuds ont éclaté. Les roses envolées
Dans le vent, à la mer s'en sont toutes allées.
Elles ont suivi l'eau pour ne plus revenir;

La vague en a paru rouge et comme enflammée.
Ce soir, ma robe encoure en est toute embaumée...
Respires-en sur moi l'odorant souvenir.


The Roses of Saadi

I wanted to bring you roses this morning.
There were so many I wanted to bring,
The knots at my waist could not hold so many.

The knots burst. All the roses took wing.
The air was filled with roses flying,
Carried by the wind, into the sea.

The waves are red, as though they are burning.
My dress still has the scent of the morning.
Remembering roses. Smell them on me.

Marceline Desbordes-Valmore
1786-1859


Monday, July 4, 2016

Your Very Flesh Shall Be a Great Poem

Subway to the Sea
Wilshire and La Brea
Los Angeles, CA

I love a construction site. Did you know that about me? At the end of my street, the great city of Los Angeles is busy building a subway stop and tunneling through for the great Subway to the Sea that will run from downtown, east of me, to the Pacific Ocean, west of me. Until it's finished, which they're estimating will be a decade from now, the construction and traffic and all manner of just -- well -- shit, is going down, but I aim to make the construction beautiful. As I returned to my neighborhood after a night in Orange County, I drove north on La Brea and looked up into the blue sky to see the biggest flag hanging from a crane, blowing in the breeze and looking pretty damn beautiful against the blue sky. If you know anything about me, you know I'm not particularly patriotic, and I'm not making any apologies for being more of an imagine there's no country, I wonder if you can, kind of woman than one who feels proud of the country that I just happened to be born in instead of any number of other great ones. But today is the fourth of JUUUUUULY, so it's a fine day to celebrate some words of Walt Whitman, probably the quintessential American poet:


This is what you shall do: love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labour to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence towards the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school, or church, or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

Walt Whitman, 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass 

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