Thursday, November 26, 2020



Henry and Oliver, Yosemite 

Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them. Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer. Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need. Take only that which is given. Never take more than half. Leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm. Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share. Give thanks for what you have been given. Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken. Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, 
Braiding Sweetgrass 
Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Dysfunctional Resilience

 Last night I was reading in bed and I heard a crackling sound and then again a rustle and I thought it might be Sophie but I didn't feel like getting out of bed so I kept reading (Homeland Elegies) but that was it, the guilt was creeping in and then I heard coughing a tiny cough a choke, really, so I lay the book down and got out of bed and walked down the hall the short hall and into the darkness of the room where the lady lay the princess lay gurgling. I don't know how to write anymore and remember writing these tales before when I used commas and semi-colons and short muscular verbs. Now it's all run-ons and no punctuation and stream of thought because after nine months of being at home and teaching on Zoom and doing all the usual things with Sophie like marveling at her hair and feeling her grace and changing her diapers and managing her medication and arguing with her insurance company and paying Nice Neurologist to write me scrips and listen to my suggestions for what we should do next, well, there's no other way to get it all down. I flipped on the light and Sophie's lips were dark were they blue? was she breathing? had she had a seizure? where's the pulse-ox? Let's make a long story short (the requisite shall we?). Sophie is ok so no worries all is well thank god (where is god?) and I sat up with her all night, you see, because I knew in that moment that had I not gone into her room at that exact moment she might have died. It feels good to type that out here in the public space that is this old blog for you dear Reader some of you well over a decade. I just knew in my bones that this is how it will happen but that it did not happen not happen last night. I sat up all night and then I fell asleep and woke with a start at ten til nine and Sophie was still sleeping Sleeping Beauty right next to me her lips red red rosed. I had to teach at 9:30 on the Zoom and one of the Marias was coming at 9:00 so I got up from the bower where we lay and made coffee and opened the door to one of the Marias who would be taking over for me. Where was I? My friend Noa from days gone by calls this all of this dysfunctional resilience and I call it a tale, a happily ever after, thickets of thorns and brambles and words and thankfulness to be alive, even now with no punctuation.

Saturday, November 7, 2020


 It was the best day in a long long long long stream of days, wasn't it? When Kamala came out in her white suit, the tears started falling, and I felt absolutely nothing but happy when she spoke and then Joe spoke and then all those people in their families walked up there and all those silly fireworks went off and for a moment -- yes -- I felt glad to be American and to be a part of it. I remember going to a resistance meeting in another lifetime, shortly after walking with three quarters of a million people in downtown Los Angeles on the day after Dear Leader inaugurated himself and we talked so passionately about grassroots activism and what we'd need to do to change things and we did do those things but damn the years went by and wore us down and everything, literally everything, that we thought might happen did and more and nearly destroyed us and did destroy hundreds of thousands of lives but we kept it up. We kept up the calls and the postcards and the letters and the writing and the marching and the protesting and the talking and the arguing and holding people accountable and calling out bullshit when we heard it. We stopped when we were exhausted and other people stepped in. We laughed a lot but we were fucking sick of it all, too. And then this week happened and it was probably the weirdest three days ever, waiting to see what would happen, hunkered down in our homes, stepping over the homeless, ordering our groceries, teaching our kids, wearing our masks and posting memes and wiping up drool and comforting our seizing daughters and reading Twitter and novels and Louise Gluck poems and not sleeping and all the while trying to wrap our minds around the fact that nearly 70 million people who live on the same land actually wanted Dear Leader again, actually voted for the man and justified their votes with their usual talk of pocketbooks and Jesus and Israel and socialism and godlessness and killing babies. 

So, yeah, I'm very happy tonight. It's as if a weight has been lifted and thrown off, far off and we're all ready to do what's next. We hopefully won't ever have to hear from a leader who not only mocked disabled people but actively worked toward and supported and put into place policies that harmed our children. I don't want to ever talk about him again. Tonight, President-Elect Joe Biden included persons with disabilities in his speech and spoke in complete sentences with vigor and not a trace of malice or threat or law and order. He spoke little of himself and much of those who'd put him there up on that stage in Delaware and how wonderful that bells rang in France and people shouted in Germany and people danced in the streets all over this country, this grand and terrible place.

Thursday, November 5, 2020



On Tuesday night, when I saw 65 million people had voted for the man we call President in Terrible America, and after I'd felt disappointed then depressed then terrified then enraged then numb I threw the IChing, drew Hexagram 37 by tracing my hand writing writing writing into fingers and thumbs over palm, hunched over the tile table in my dining room. Hexagram 37 is Family (What will become of us? I'd asked). Be certain, however, that you are not involved in carrying out a role for which you are unsuited, or a role that has been cast upon you. This will rob your life of meaning. Every line of the hexagram changed, an occurrence that in the nearly forty years I've been using it, I've never seen. Skip straight to the transformed hexagram when all lines change. Look it up look it up look it up and then read Hexagram 40 (Liberation) which is sometime in the future so I eventually stood up minutes hours later peanut butter ghost redolent and walked down my dark hallway to the bedroom. It's a short walk but about when I'd gotten halfway my children smiling down from the wall of years the slant of moonlight disguised by the blue blinking LED light from the box over the door that waves in this constant stream of information to my room my sanctuary my sleep, I felt  suddenly enlightened (halfway) not by ghosts or peanut butter or Jesus or hands or Chinese oracles but by my persistent unconscious which was screaming exceptionalism is a lie. It was as if a hand were placed on the top of my head palm down the fingers draped over forehead (halfway) my eyes closed breathing there in the hallway (halfway) soothed.

Now it's Thursday and it's all a lot.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Forced to be an optimist


I can’t be a pessimist because I’m alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter, so I’m forced to be an optimist. I’m forced to believe that we can survive whatever we must survive. 

James Baldwin



Let's go.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The sea is so big

Did I tell you that Oliver surprised me by coming home for a week? He did. It was so wonderful to lay eyes on that face, and I even hugged him. He's gone again -- back to Arizona -- and I'm feeling that strange melancholy that besets us when our loved ones leave or we leave them. 

How is everybody doing? You can be honest because I will, too. I'm not doing so great. I'm actively trying to do all the things that ease the mind and calm the spirit and give perspective and maintain equanimity and count your blessings and do for others and look outward and create in the face of fuck (as my friend Lidia Yuknavitch) says, but I went for a short walk to the CVS to pick up Sophie's poison and passed a dirty guy lying on the sidewalk next to his tent in what appeared to be savasana pose a grin as wide as his face his eyes closed. The CVS, like a lot of stores in my neighborhood is all boarded up in anticipation of the Day After the Election when, I suppose, extremists from any group might be out marauding. Speaking of extremists, yesterday, I passed a small group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and boys. They were dressed in their usual religious garb but also sported masks with TRUMP emblazoned across them. Strange bedfellows, I thought to myself and my tiny little mother mind™ mused on the concept of modesty which I'd experienced during my days teaching English literature to an ultra-religious Jewish sect earlier in the year. I wore the stockings and the long skirts, covered my clavicle and my elbows and my knees,  even when bent. Men of the faith, apparently, are able to sport the moniker of a grotesque con man who mocks disabled people and grabs women by their pussy, though, and it's like being Gulliver these days traveling through the streets both literally and figuratively of Terrible America, the arrogance and laissez-faire and people getting back to normal lamenting how Halloween is so different this year it's so hard for the children and on and on and yes, I know it's grief and loss and all of it is hard and even relative but really?

 "It is coming into election week in the U.S. I am here, on this side of the Atlantic, looking at the other side of that ocean. So much has happened in the sea between us: ships shipping enslaved people, hungry people, desperate people; ships going to a land they called uninhabited from a Europe that prefers to forget its history. As I think about how reparations and justice can be enacted, I’m reminded of an old Breton prayer: God help me, because the sea is so big and my boat is so small. "

Pádraig Ó Tuama
host of Poetry Unbound


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

On Repeat


(I sat down and wrote
The best words I could write
Turn, turn, turn again
Explaining to the judge
I’d be there on Wednesday night
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind)

Please come to my Substack to read the rest of this. Subscribe for free. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

What it's like to be afraid

What's it like to face death every night? you ask. What exactly is it like I ask myself. Tonight. Every night, almost. Every time Sophie has a seizure. Every morning when I go to her room that short walk down the hallway to her room. Will she stop breathing in the interval between my comforting my attendance and my stance at the sink rinsing the syringe clear of the syrup (poison) I've shot into her day night day night day night day night day night day night day night day night. Will she have stopped breathing in the night and lie warm or cold in her bed? This is not morbid. I am not a soldier. The things I carry. What's it like to face death every night? you ask. What exactly is it like? I ask myself. I am not a soldier. I carry nothing but a syringe, a couple of pink pills, a white capsule, a cup of juice diluted with water. No arms but my own. I am not a soldier Sophie is not a warrior and this is not a battle. What's it like to face death every night? you ask (you have never asked). It's a song may the long time sun her gray face turned pink shine upon you my finger at her wrist all love her pulse furious surround you my hand at her brow and the pure light it's okay it's okay within you over and over guide your way on. It's the water rushing through the syringe at the sink afterward my head tilted. I am not a soldier Sophie is not a warrior and this is not a battle. I'm thinking not of crosshairs my perspective is the narrow tunnel of the hall the bed at the end and her small form. Focus.

Don't forget I'm moving to Substack.

Monday, September 28, 2020



Migrating Nashville Warbler
photo by Carl Jackson 
Instagram: @mo_better_birds

I'm slowly easing myself out of Facebook and Blogger to Substack -- migrating in a sense. I hope you'll come over there with me. Eventually, I might even get subscribers, but for right now you can get notification that I have a new post via email. Please don't ask me anything else, because I only know the basics, and I've been trying to get off Facebook for years but just don't want to cut ties with certain communities. If you migrate with me to Substack, you can read everything I write, add little hearts and likes and dislikes and even comments! It looks neat and streamlined, and I'm in need of neat and streamlined. Even my blog on Blogger is cluttered, and I'm tired. 

The Substack form is at the end of this post!

And how about that photo of the Nashville Warbler that The Bird Photographer took about a week ago in a park? He was walking through some Sycamore trees. He said that these little birds tend to bounce between branches under the canopy. It's rare to see them in sunlight as they tend to stay in the shadows, blending in with the leaves, hunting for bugs. They migrate from Canada to Mexico and Central America. 

I would love to migrate to Mexico or Central America right about now. Jesus Christ. May I say one thing about Dear Leader's new nominee to the Supreme Court? Or two things. One is that Amy sounds like an intelligent person despite her "orthodox Catholicism," and good for her balancing career and motherhood and raising adopted and disabled kids all while climbing the ladder to the highest office in justice land. That ladder, though, was placed there by the person she's succeeding, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and it seems to me that Amy's going to pull that ladder up from her high perch and slam the door in the face of all the women who follow her. That'd be us and our daughters and grand-daughters.

Secondly, I can't respect anyone who takes a job from Dear Leader. Amy should have waited for an appointment by another Republican President, if there ever is one. Anyone who colludes with that piece of shit isn't a decent human being.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Power to the Peaceful


In reaching deep I discard let go of all the old things but not for new things new ways new anything. This place where I find myself is not the flip side of light or the flip side of dark but the point where the flip happens. It was foggy this morning, the sun orange through what might be smoke from the Bobcat fire to the east and I think of what's burning what's burned how we take it all in to our bodies face lifted. The little yellow green birds that splash in the blue fountain. That thin strip of decay the yellow tulip will bow                       


tomorrow. A thin strip of fabric veils our bodies, 200000 dead despite. The mediocrity of evil. Each dust mote and the way the way it moves in air.

Watch this video.


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