Saturday, December 28, 2019

Runes and Ruin

Sunset, Pacific Ocean
December 2019

Vikings had only an oral culture. Eventually they used runes, which were a sort of alphabet.
Here are some common ones that I lifted off the World Wide Web:

 Name:Hagalaz, “hail.” Phoneme: H. Meaning: destruction, chaos.
 Name: Naudhiz, “need.” Phoneme: N. Meaning: need, unfulfilled desire.
 Name: Uruz, “aurochs.” Phoneme: U (long and/or short). Meaning: strength of will.
 Name: Thurisaz, “Giant.” Phoneme: Th (both soft and hard). Meaning: danger, suffering.
 Name: Ansuz, “an Aesir god.” Phoneme: A (long and/or short). Meaning: prosperity, vitality.

All the free men in Viking World would gather together to make laws and settle disputes without resorting to blood and violence. They called this meeting The Thing. Ever since I read Sigrid Undset's books in my early twenties, I've been fascinated by that name. The Thing.

I'm going to call what's happening between my ex and me The Thing from now on. So when I disappear from this space you'll know it's The Thing, and that there's been no blood and violence.


I went out on the wine dark sea yesterday with Carl. We saw one gray whale, about fifty dolphins and some sea birds. It was really cold and really beautiful. The sunset was incredible. The photo I put up there is blurry, but there's no filter on it, and don't you think that oil tanker could be a Viking ship? You see where I'm going, right?

I didn't walk around the boat much because earlier I had wrenched my foot while cleaning up my porch. I was wearing clogs and stepped on an uneven spot and stepped off the clog. The clog, rather, bruised the side of my foot. I have a bum knee as well on my left leg, so now I have a bum knee and a bum foot, and I'm walking weird. I feel heavy but not rooted. On the boat, though, I sat and swayed and rode the waves like a whale myself.

Reader, what are you doing?

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas Eve

Oliver got a tattoo.

It's Sophie's birthdate in Roman numerals. As he said, "Now we each have a tattoo for Sophie."

I have a mermaid, Henry has a bit of Sophie's brainwaves from an EEG and now Oliver has her birthday.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Notes from the Underground

to Leslie

There's an underground passageway where certain mothers or those like them go. It winds down and down and then along and perhaps up and up because the metaphor isn't always about ground and earth and dark but sky and cloud and light. (But that's later). So maybe not underground except as it is in sleep, deep. The women wear thick loose gowns, silk, thick cotton, stiff from another time, an eternal time, their arms bare their hair long and they leave their glasses on bedside tables because they see in the dark. They lie beside children and grown children who moan (from) the dark for no reason at all and they wipe the hair from their foreheads and press up back along the knobs of the spine, steps from the base to the base of the neck. They straighten an arm and roll the palm flat the body a series of reflexes the moan becomes just breath. They lie down always an outside spoon. Later. A poem appears in a lighted box. Another woman in an underground passageway in Seattle is making jam and cleaning up her husband's dying shit the fluids. The passageway is toward the present, the woman (me) sees (dark). Lying in (to) (by) the present.

Here's the poem:

Advice to Myself

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in through the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

Louise Erdrich

Friday, December 6, 2019


Moon and cactus, reflected

So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
--from the Book of Ezekiel, Chapter 37

There's a man walking La Brea Blvd. who might as well be an Old Testament prophet. His skin is rough and dirty, his hair is crusted over, his pants tied with a rough rope. His toes poke through what look like leather slippers, and he's looking upward, his mouth agape. Also, there's a purple-haired black woman with a Christmas lit halo walking behind him, her eyes on his back. She might as well be an angel. I'm gripping the steering wheel with my hands, tipped with jagged nails and sprinkled with age spots, an old scar from a fifty year old dog bite a divot on the top of the right one. I might as well keep going, Driving, that is.

so saith the Lord

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

When Giving is All We Have

I've been in a self-absorbed rut.

Today is Giving Tuesday.

I'm no philanthropist and have difficulty with the philanthropy model, so much so that I've long given up fund-raising for medical charities, etc.  But today, on Giving Tuesday, I'm pulling my head out of my navel and raising money for a non-profit foundation that is particularly dear to my heart. It's the place where Sophie goes each day that she is able, a community of disabled young people and their aides or "coaches," who help them to access the community, to work, to be a part of something bigger than themselves and their diagnoses. The staff of Creative Steps/Aurelia Foundation expands these young people's lives and sees beyond their limitations, and it's a beautiful thing. They run on a shoestring budget, partially reimbursed by the State of California, but I learned yesterday that they also run on a consistent $350 a month per client deficit. I'm reaching out to you today to donate whatever you can to The Aurelia Foundation -- even a tiny amount is a good thing!

Here's Sophie's and my page:

Aurelia Foundation/Creative Steps

Here's a poem:

When Giving Is All We Have
       One river gives
       Its journey to the next.
We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.
We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.
We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it —
Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.
Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:
Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.
You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me
What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give — together, we made
Something greater from the difference. 
From “A Small Story about the Sky,” by Alberto Ríos (Copper Canyon Press, 2015). Reprinted with permission from Copper Canyon Press.


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