Thursday, October 31, 2019

Baseball season is finally over. And now winter is looming. Long months till April, but wood-fires and lamplight are a solace.

Today will be another onslaught of rain, and the wind is supposed to kick up to gale-force again tonight. What a blustery season we're having. It's a good thing that Vita and I went shopping for Halloween candy yesterday. Otherwise, Tom and I would have nothing to snack on while trick-or-treaters aren't showing up at our dripping door.

Yesterday I hauled firewood, did some garden cleanup, raked, picked up sticks from the last windstorm. Today I'll be limited to inside tasks, mostly desk work, but maybe I'll make a pear pie too. I'm progressing with the editing, progressing with my poem draft; and I've got a lot of reading to do. A journal editor reached out to me yesterday, asking if I'd be interested in doing regular book reviews for their website. I'm thinking about it. I need another unpaid job like I need a spike in the head, but I still might say yes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

It was dim and cloudy all day, with an occasional overlay of raw drizzle. Nonetheless, Vita took her first shopping trip and came home with ham, bagels, and milk stout. Yard work was a different story: which is to say, I didn't do it because cold wet leaves equals cold wet gloves, and blah. Instead, I lit a fire and read Henry James and edited a manuscript and messed around with a poem. Without the lure of Vita, I would never have left the house. See how good she is for me?

I'm slowly, slowly working my way into The Ambassadors. Although apparently I'm halfway through the book, I still feel as if I've barely got a handle on the portentousness. Every half-smile, every slight nod is a moment of magnitude--or, at the very least, a glimpse of the abyss. It's maddening and also kind of like having a rash: every twitch is an itch. But of course I'm enjoying it too. Henry James drives me nuts but I love him anyway. His sentences are life forms, coiling across the page, stretching their antennae, hesitantly moving this way and that. I may not know why or where, but I delight in the syntactical animal.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

I took Vita up to the cemetery yesterday afternoon, and we had a beautiful ride on the small roads among the plots. Now my legs are sore from using bike muscles I haven't really bothered with since I was 15. But that's good; and the uphill climbs are good too. Biking is so much better than running because the uphills are balanced with downhill coasts--a sweet reward, to feel the wind in my face and the street fly under me.

And I did manage to ship out another editing project, which leaves me (for the moment) with just one on my desk. Today I'll finish the vacuuming, and start editing the new manuscript, and, I hope, work on my Descartes draft. I'd like to do some yard cleanup and ride Vita, of course. Dinner tonight will be beef-noodle soup and warm apple-cabbage slaw. Then baseball . . . maybe the last game of the season, if the Astros win. I don't really have a dog in this race, but I'm finding myself leaning toward the Nats--not least for their fans' fine taste in impeachment.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Yesterday was rain and rain and rain, so I couldn't show Vita around the neighborhood. Today I should have better luck, as long as I can get my editing project finished in time.

And today is my younger son's birthday: 22 years old; tall and strong and bearded; sweet and funny and sorrowful; brilliant and driven, with a memory like a trap; a lover of small animals and, like his mother, an inveterate second-guesser of his own motives. I send him surprise and joy and so much love.

I wanted to let you know that my mother, Janice Miller Potter, has a new poetry collection out-- Thoreau's Umbrella, a verse biography. I've been reading it this weekend, along with Murdoch's Nuns and Soldiers. I haven't yet finished James's The Ambassadors, though I'll get back to it. And Natalie Diaz's When My Brother Was an Aztec just showed up in the mail, so now that's in the pile too. So many books . . . so little shelf space . . .

Sunday, October 27, 2019

I am now in proud possession of the first bike bought for me since I was in high school. That one was a cheesy imitation racing bike from Sears. Later I had my mother's cast-off Schwinn, but I hardly ever used it because it was heavy and too small; plus Harmony, land of speeding log trucks and pitted gravel roads, was a terrible place to ride a bike.

But now I have Vita! She is purple with black trim, a plain and basic bike for city riding, and I am smitten. I can't wait to get a basket for her: she is the kind of bike who will go on picnics and quick trips for bread at the market. I will ride all around the cemetery with her, and explore shady neighborhoods.

Unfortunately the used-bike shop (a fine emporium) did not have a bike in Tom's size, so he will need to keep checking back in as fall consignments arrive. In the meantime, I will get used to an activity I have not done much of since I was 15. And maybe, by the time he gets his, I'll be brave enough to venture out of the neighborhood.

Perhaps you are wondering why her name is Vita. Well, her brand is Specialized, and her model is Vita, and that word is painted right on her frame. A convenience in naming, certainly. But in adopting such an obvious monicker, I am, of course, nodding to Vita Sackville-West--novelist, blueblood, gardener, and lover of Virginia Woolf.
On gardening: “I like muddling things up." --Vita Sackville-West

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Did a session of hard yoga, bought a cartload at the grocery store, mailed two loaves of banana bread to the college boy (he turns 22 on Monday), drove home, edited, worked on my Descartes project, fell asleep for an hour, made lasagna, watched some baseball, fell asleep again, woke up blessedly late, made some coffee, fed the cat, and here I am again.

Today I'm hoping we'll get a chance to go bike shopping. But it's supposed to pour rain all of tomorrow and I have lots of yard work to do, firewood to move, etc., so maybe the bikes will have to wait till next weekend.

I'm slowly, slowly catching up on my editing: I've had so much of it lately, and there's more waiting in the wings. Now I'm getting requests for some winter school gigs, at a site located an hour south of me. But Monson is more than two hours north of me, and I don't know how I can fit all of this driving into my days. I like teaching but I dread the driving, especially in bad weather. I've been meaning to design another teach-from-home 24PearlStreet class, maybe a shorter one this time, but I haven't figured out how to schedule it among all the rest. I guess this accounts for why I slept so much yesterday.

Ugh. That paragraph is a mess. Kind of like my calendar.

Anyway, today: Sticks, leaves, firewood, garden cleanup. Maybe a bike. I'll be happy to do nothing more than muddle.

Friday, October 25, 2019

I did do some writing yesterday, and I did use the trigger I'd bought in Chicago: of all things, a slim copy of Rene Descartes's treatise Rules for the Direction of the Mind (written by 1628, published in 1701). I am the world's worst philosopher. Under most circumstances I am actively repelled by the anti-physicality of philosophic prose, and my mind wanders off into distraction as soon as I bump up against those sentences. But I was at a used bookstore with my son: he was buying a book of Dali paintings and The Golden Bough; I was buying a Murdoch novel and . . . wait, what's this weird title? I dug out the slim tome and we peered at the cover. Well, I thought. I might be able to use a title like that. And so I bought it.

Rules is broken into 20-something sections, each of which opens with an abstract of the rule under consideration and then proceeds to horse around with not only/but alsos, ergos, and therefores. Yesterday I started copying out each rule, deleting the abstract nouns and adjectives and filling them in with gaudier talk. And after an hour or so, I found myself outlining a list of instructions titled "Rules for the Direction of the Chambermaid," most of which involve (1) how to figure out if your mistress is having an adulterous affair and (2) to whom you should be loyal (mistress, master, visiting lothario). Of course this is a silly project, and it will likely go nowhere, but inventing it is fun.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Yesterday was another beautiful day with my high schoolers, but a two-and-a-half-hour drive home after a day of teaching is not relaxing. Still, when I got back, there was Tom, with a baguette and two bags of local mussels. A magnificent dinner; a good day spent with thoughtful, giddy, curious, engaged young people; plus baseball on the radio. Things could be worse.

Today will be a regular home day--editing, laundry, garden cleanup, and such--though I'm hoping also to do some writing. One of the poems I wrote in Maudelle Driskell's workshop last summer just got picked up for publication--the piece about Ruckus: my first public cat poem. When I submitted it, I wasn't quite sure what I thought of it, and I'm pleased, and a little surprised, that someone else liked it.

So, on they go . . . the days and the weeks, the months and the years. Chore and gift. Dread and innocence. Comedy and terror. Love and consequences. The deliciousness of sleep.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

I'll be on the road again this afternoon--heading north for tomorrow's teaching gig. This time I'll be staying overnight at the artists' residence and also having dinner with them, so that will be interesting. I'm looking forward to learning about what they're all working on in their studios.

Till then: some desk work, some vacuuming, maybe some more yard rescue. I've been reading James's The Ambassadors and Murdoch's Nuns and Soldiers and catching up on things around here-- mostly just trying to pull myself together. I'm not that good at traveling; the transitions wear me out. Last night  I was scheduled to go to a poetry-group meeting, or I could have gone to the movies with Tom, but no: I spent the evening on the couch. I think it helped. Sometimes I have a hard time giving in to physical laziness. But then it sneaks up behind me and grabs me by the throat and says, "Couch blanket."

Monday, October 21, 2019

Yesterday was an intense travel day, compressed between 3:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and involving no coffee or real food. But I made it home, fell asleep, woke up, made dinner, fell asleep again, and here I am, still groggy but at least I've got coffee now. There are a million things to do today: desk work, housework, grocery shopping, and the mess that is my yard. You may recall that I left home in the middle of a cyclone? Well, on the bright side, all of the branches that came down were relatively small. On the pain-in-the-ass side, many, many branches came down, and the gale whipped them everywhere. My garden is knitted with tree parts, the dahlias are flat: the place looks as if we were hit by a hurricane, which I guess we essentially were.

But my trip to Chicago was completely lovely. I think I haven't told you about Jane Eyre yet. It was enthralling. The Joffrey performs in a gilded, doo-dadded, muraled hall built in the 1890s and kept in tip-top shape. The acoustics are wonderful. We sat in a box, which made us feel fancy even though the tickets were cheaper there than other places.

And the ballet itself was stunning: not just the dancing, but also the sets (mostly scrims with Yorkshire-ish abstractions) and the lighting design. The choreographer did an amazing job at storytelling, and also maintained that strange Brontean mix of melodrama, anachronistic female agency, and sex-versus-God tension. The cast was enormous, and included a strange but effective troupe of male dancers who served as representatives of Jane's internal demons--an extremely elegant way to deal with the wordiness of the novel. The result was both spare and lavish, enormous and minimal. I am a person who usually hates movies based on my favorite novels, and I loved this ballet.

And what else happened in Chicago? Exhausted teachers on trains, carrying picket signs and holding the hands of their children. A small girl singing songs on the bus. An aging mariachi band, in full black and silver regalia, packing up their van after a show. My darling young people, walking together alongside a windy lake.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

We spent most of the day north of the city, at the Chicago Botanic Garden, glorious and fading in its October mantle. I got to ride on one of those double-decker commuter trains, which made me happy as I am a hick who has never been on one before. Afterward we went back to the same comfortable bar we were at the evening before, where we listened to Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde and ate, of all things, tater tots, which are a strangely compelling poison.

Today: the ballet. And then tomorrow: the airport at 4:30 a.m.

Friday, October 18, 2019

I left our house at 5:15 a.m., in the midst of a cyclone. Tom had to drag downed trees out of the road to get me to the bus station. Needless to say, I was terrified of this trip. However, the bus driver managed to calmly pilot us to Boston, where the wind had died down considerably. My flight wasn't delayed at all. And now here I am in Chicago.

Yesterday we walked all over the neighborhood, went to a used bookstore (I bought Murdoch and Descartes), drank beers at a beautiful dingy bar with a Merle Haggard soundtrack, ate cactus tacos from the church food truck, and fell asleep watching The A-Team. A fine day with a fine son.

Today: botanical gardens and double-decker trains and who knows what else.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Well, I did it: I finished that editing project, meaning I can leave for Chicago with a semi-clean work conscience. Picture me catching an early, early bus to Boston, in the black and pouring rain, and fretting that the storm will be messing with my flight. Whatever the case turns out to be, you'll hear from me only intermittently for the next few days. Let's hope it's not during a 24-hour stint in an airport lounge.

Today: an olio of desk, house, and packing chores. But for now: black coffee, grey couch, the rumble of a furnace, the squeal and hum of a passing train.

I have not spoken of current events here lately, other than my own. But I am horrified about the Kurds, so much so that I can barely frame words to speak of them. Our so-called president is a stupid, lying, vicious, impulsive bootlicker with a thug-crush and a maggot soul. Not one of these epithets is an exaggeration. America cannot go on like this.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

My white geranium is blooming bravely at the window. It's been an outside plant all summer, and I'm hoping I can keep it alive in the house over the winter. I get so lonely for flowers during the off-season. Meanwhile, the outside flowers just keep blooming. No frost yet, so dahlias and cosmos and marigolds continue to riot in the front yard. Here in the little seaside city, summer is refusing to wave good-bye.

In two days I fly to Chicago, and till then editing has me by the throat. Still, there's a chance I might get this manuscript done before I leave. I think my plans for next week's Monson class are mostly set (a Jane Austen-based writing exercise; a Natalie Diaz/Kerrin McCadden-based writing exercise; and, I hope, a guest poet visiting the class).

I've been imagining that I'll write a bit while I'm in Chicago, but I know that isn't likely. What I'll actually be doing is loping around the city with my dear boy, and that will feel like the best thing in the world. I bet I won't even think about poems.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Island weather. The cat steps out the back door and vanishes into cloud. In this still-black morning the fog is nearly invisible, except where headlights and window-lamps quiver like bog-beacons.

I have a good housewife feeling this morning because I got all of the things done yesterday that I meant to do. I cleaned out dresser drawers and closets, I planted bulbs, and I put away the outside furniture. I made an apple pie and froze a batch of endive and roasted a chicken. I updated my resume and cleaned up the pages on this blog. Meanwhile, Tom installed a new dryer vent, tore out a bunch of strange old wiring (at least two generations of ancient landlines, plus other mysteriousness), put up  basement clothesline, and filled my car tires with air. All if this sounds dull on the page, but in fact it makes me feel accomplished and orderly and ready to turn my attention to desk work.

Today will be a regular work day for both of us: no holiday in this household. I'll be editing and working on my Monson syllabus, and then running errands in the afternoon. My Thursday trip to Chicago is looming, and I'm anxious to get this project off my desk before I leave . . . though I fear I may be editing on buses and in airports. Ugh.

I think I forgot to mention that, on Saturday, Tom and I watched The Heiress, a late-40s film starring Olivia de Haviland and Montgomery Clift, and based on Henry James's Washington Square. It was compelling, and I can't stop thinking about it and wishing I could read the novel. I don't own it, however, so instead I've started rereading James's The Ambassadors. It's been a long time since I've been in a Henry James mood, and I'm glad he came around again.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

On the weekend of November 1-3, I'll be leading a poetry workshop at the arts center 26 Split Rock Cove in Thomaston, Maine. The title of the workshop is "New England Bards: Discovering Voice, Discovering Place," and it will center around work by the poets Jane Kenyon and Hayden Carruth, which we'll use to jumpstart our own conversations, writing, and revision.

The cost with lodging is $475, $325 without, and the workshop is limited to 10 participants. Events will begin Friday evening at 5 pm and continue through lunch on Sunday.

Included in the weekend are two classes and two revision workshops, as well as plenty of writing time and group sharing. Friday dinner, Saturday and Sunday breakfasts and lunches are included in the price. For a more detailed schedule, please contact or call 207-596-7624.

Thomaston is a beautiful coastal town, late fall in Maine is stern and glorious, and it would be such a treat to spend a weekend with you.

* * *

Today I'll be planting tulip, alium, and daffodil bulbs; reorganizing closets and drawers; roasting a chicken; maybe going bike shopping. But this is what I did yesterday.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

[H]e laid on the table a new publication--a poem: one of those genuine productions so often vouchsafed to the fortunate public of those days--the golden age of modern literature. Alas! the readers of our era are less favored. But, courage! I will not pause to accuse or repine. I know poetry is not dead, nor genius lost; nor has Mammon gained power over either, to bind or slay: they will both assert their existence, their presence, their liberty and strength again one day. Powerful angels, safe in heaven! they smile when sordid souls triumph, and feeble ones weep over their destruction. Poetry destroyed? Genius banished? No! Mediocrity, no: do not let envy prompt you to the thought. No; they not only live, but reign, and redeem: and without their divine influence spread everywhere you would be in hell--the hell of your own meanness.

* * *

It was windy and rainy in the night, but not unduly. This morning, the streets are streaked with wet leaves. A steady, lingering breeze ripples among the maples, taps the bright dahlias, skids twigs along the sidewalk. Passing dogs pause to lift their noses. An airplane coasts upward, invisible behind cloud.

I'm thinking about the staunchness of time, the mutability of space, the evanescence of ambition, the rigors of love . . . but not in any Great Man sort of way. Despite the bigness of the words, the sensations are modest, even meek. I bow my head to them, let them take charge of the story. I sweep the kitchen and fold the shirts. I don't know what else to do, or how else to do it.

That Bronte passage I just quoted:  Yes! I want to say. But also, What are you really telling me?

Friday, October 11, 2019

We've got a big storm brewing off the coast today--already the wind has picked up and the air smells of excitement. I'm hoping this won't make trouble, as our trees are loaded with leaves and gusts will be high.

I'm still reading Jane Eyre, and there's so much wind in the book. It's like Wuthering Heights that way: weather as emotional state. O, those sisters on the moors. Narrow and pale, faces opening into the gale. They seize my heart.

My son is having a love affair with a book of poetry: Natalie Diaz's When My Brother Was an Aztec. I'm so happy for him. A love affair is a glorious thing.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Yet another wondrous day with my Monson kids. It was only our second session, but already the bonds are strengthening. Kids are laughing and talking and sharing, playing games, speaking seriously of craft and hopes and dreams, writing hard, cheering each other on. I am thrilled.

And I had a beautiful birthday celebration with my friends in Wellington. We picked raspberries and wild mushrooms in the gloaming, as the maples arched brilliantly against the dimming sky. My heart overflows; this life is so sweet; my dumb-luck is so lucky.

There was one more good, good thing. While I was away, I got word from the editors at the Beloit Poetry Journal that they're going to publish the entire first section of my diary manuscript, A Month in Summer. That feels huge to me: a quarter of the book will appear in the journal. Crassly, of course, I am hoping that full-length publishers will take notice. But more importantly I'm really, really pleased that editors of this caliber saw these verses as something more than tiny, quiet, feminine maunderings.

Today, I'll charge back into the editing stack, and also try to catch up on all the housework I didn't finish last weekend.

"Poet Cleans Toilets." Someone has to do the dirty work.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Yesterday, despite all prior arrangements, ended up being weirdly hectic, though nice. Scoundrel Time happened to release three of my poems that morning, so in addition to getting many birthday greetings I received a number of poem greetings. And the phone would not stop ringing. Still, I did manage to write a small lyric that wasn't terrible, and I felt surrounded by affection. Both those things were good.

Here are those poems, in case you're interested. The journal's poetry editor, Daisy Fried, referred to them as "startling." That feels like a review anyone might want to receive.

This afternoon I'll be heading north, and tomorrow I'll be teaching all day in Monson. My intense over-busyness is returning. I still have piles of editing on my desk, and next week I'm flying to Chicago, and I've got so many teaching obligations lined up . . . At least things are pretty well set with Frost Place planning, finally. But everything else feels liable to crack my skull open.

Anyway, enough of this repining--which isn't even repining so much as trying to whip myself into order. I'll talk to you on Thursday.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Well, today is my actual birthday, but yesterday felt like my ceremonial one, as Tom spent most of the day concocting a glamorous feast, and I spent most of the day happily flopped on the couch reading Jane Eyre. I did a few other things, too, like go for a walk in the cemetery (I found some beautiful puffball mushrooms) and concoct plans for my Chicago trip with my older son (we've decided to buy tickets to the Joffrey Ballet's performance of Jane Eyre; are you sensing a theme?).

But today is the real day: I'm 55 years old, with a bit of incipient arthritis in one finger, and chronically sore feet, and trifocals, and a fat streak of grey hair . . . but, on the whole, pretty lively--still able to do planks and walk for miles and dote on my children and invent stories about the cat and make my husband laugh.

I'm 55 years old, and so far I've accomplishing nothing and everything, which I guess is the regular human condition.

I live in a little house in a little city, with hot and cold running water, and heat, and windowpanes, and clean sheets, and trees and flowers, and snow and rain and wind and sun, and a tea kettle.

I've written a lot of books which hardly anyone has read, but mostly I've grown out of being distressed about it, and that seems like progress.

I have a circle of friends, people like you: generous and comical, quick to sadness and joy--a gift of the finest sort.

I'm glad to be alive.

I love being alive.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Close, but no frost yet . . . the pink dahlias are still bravely blooming along the roadside. Yesterday, while I was ripping out detritus, two cars and a bicycle accosted me: "Hey, those are the most beautiful dahlias I've ever seen!" One driver was so excited that she almost caused an accident. Beautiful dahlias may be too dangerous to grow.

When I'm not wearing my bathrobe, I'll go outside and take a picture of the autumn garden for you. The sunflowers are gone, and the tomato jungle, and the destroyed Brussels sprouts (damn you, sassy groundhog, for wrecking my fall crop), but the greens and most of the herbs are still cheerful. I managed to plant garlic and shallots, harvest a batch of kale for the freezer, finish reading Gatsby, spend some time with Cavafy, make chicken-and-tomato soup, listen to the Yankees trounce the Twins, and open some birthday presents early because I am bad at waiting. (Present update: Tom's getting me a bike!)

Today I'll be hovering around the kitchen while Tom makes a feast, and maybe I'll be planting some daffodils and tulips, and doing some chores, and finding another book to read. Tomorrow will be my writing day, and I'm looking forward to turning on the word faucet again. But today I just want to be happy in my house.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

36 degrees here this morning . . . not quite a frost, but close. It's still strange to me to listen to the furnace run; it's still strange to realize I own a furnace. Automatic heat. What a concept.

I guess today is the day to tear out the rest of the sunflowers, though I'm hoping to hang on to the dahlias for a bit longer. I've got garlic, shallots, and flower bulbs to plant: maybe I'll manage to get that done too. Or maybe not.

Yesterday I finalized the 2020 Frost Place conference lineup. I'm pretty excited about our faculty, and am anxious to share the names with you, but I'll refrain till contracts, etc., are worked out. I prepped for my Monson class, and finished editing a chapter, and made it through power yoga, and bought a bus ticket to the airport--all in all, a constructive use of a Friday that I really wanted to spend under a blanket with a book.

None of my favored baseball teams are doing very well in the playoffs so far. Apparently I am bad luck in that regard.

Tom's making me a birthday feast this weekend. I wonder what I'll be having. He's also discussing upgrades to our basement laundry situation, which is currently slapdash and/or grim. Maybe I'll be getting clotheslines and a new dryer vent for my birthday. How exciting! Or perhaps I mean: How exciting.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Rain, rain, rain . . . After so many arid months, it is a delight. First thing this morning, I lugged the compost pail to the curb, and the dark air was heavy with the dense, tea-leaf scent of wet autumn. Now, back on the couch with my coffee cup, I listen to drops clatter against windows and vents, as the cat stalks past me, shaking his metaphorical fist at God.

It's been hard to take my eyes off the newsfeed. Finally, it seems, the emperor's clothes are shredding, and the rats are running from the ship. Funny how well he suits a pack of mixed fairy-tale metaphors. He's an ogre, and I wish Puss 'n Boots would hurry up and eat him.

My editorial slog is paying off, editorially at least: I've gotten a lot more done this week than I dared to hope for, but my brain feels like a slug trail. I think I'll go to my hard yoga class this morning, the one that requires all kinds of weight-bearing, core-tormenting, difficult-to-accomplish poses, and then come home refreshed enough to finish editing footnotes and close the manuscript for the weekend.

I want to start reading the book of Cavafy poems I bought at the library sale and finish reading Sam Hunter's play Lewiston, which my son is directing this fall. I need to prep for next week's Monson class and do some Frost Place planning. My brain is a juggler's paradise.

The other day, as I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, the woman in front of me turned around and said, "You are just glowing!" I, of course, was taken aback, being about to turn 55 and distracted by thoughts of whether or not I'd bought enough toilet paper. Perhaps the lights at the Whole Foods are specially designed to be kind to middle-aged women. Or maybe I'm radioactive. Anyway: feel free to imagine me with an aura . . . maybe one of those Glenda-the-Good-Witch bubbles. Old poet waves wand, sends cute dog back to Kansas.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

The furnace kicked on last night. I guess that means winter really is coming. Already I've been lighting evening fires; already I'm remembering how much I love to watch flames flickering behind glass as night draws its cloak around the house.

The freezer is full of peppers, corn, chard, tomato sauce. The woodpile is stacked high. Let the grim months begin.

This has been a slogging week at the desk, but I'm making progress, and I'm still managing to tamp down my longing to work on my own stuff. I'll save that for Monday, my birthday. I'll give myself the present of the day. I know it sounds terrible to say "tamp down my own longing," but that's the only way I can earn any money. Otherwise, I'd do nothing all day but chores and poetry, which in my life, at least, are mutually supportive: scribble, read, scribble, stare out windows, hang laundry, scribble, sweep a floor, read, stare out windows, wash windows, mow grass, weed, scribble . . . That might have been one of my problems in the apartment, when I was slowly and painfully writing not-good poems: I didn't have enough chores.

I've started rereading Gatsby again. Such a book. It's like Mozart.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Rain, drizzle, and fog made it a fine night for potato pancakes with fresh guacamole. If only the Brewers had managed to win the Wild Card game too. I like listening to Bob Uecker do the call, plus the Brewers have fine (by which I mean silly) local radio commercials for things like sausages. Last night's absurd jingle for Speedy Metals will be hard to top. Tom and I laughed very hard. But unfortunately the Brewers lost to the Nationals, so excellent radio is over for the season, unless I grit my teeth and listen to the Yankees announcers . . . which I probably will. But Yankees. Ick. Go Twins.

Enough of this baseball maundering. I've got a sinus headache this morning, and I'm wishing it would go away. My editing stack is enormous, but I need to dig out some real writing time this week so I don't lapse into automatic word pilot. That's the danger of editing: it's like playing scales and etudes over and over again--lots of practice without any adventure. And my imagination gets skittery, and then I have to tamp it down, and then I get gloomy and resigned, and who needs that?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

from Object Lessons by Eavan Boland

The way to the past is never smooth. For a woman poet it can be especially tortuous. Every step towards an origin is also an advance towards a silence. The past in which our grandmothers lived and where their lives burned through detail and incidence to become icons for our future is also a place where women and poetry remain far apart.

* * *

It's raining now, and it rained all night. I woke and slept and woke and slept to the click of drops on roof and window. Cloud and darkness still weight the earth; I barely glimpse the shadows of trees and sky. The invisible day is a blanket snugged around my lamplit room as the slow water sluices down and down among the stones and roots.

* * *

I Stop Writing the Poem

to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I’m still a woman.

--Tess Gallagher