“Into the Mystic”

I don’t know why I am writing about dinosaurs and Van Morrison, kicking his legs on “The Last Waltz”.  These are pictures from a thousand years ago.  He was singing “Caravan”.  He was so chubby, almost busting out of his tight pants, thrusting his legs so fiercely into the air, like a baby who doesn’t want to be born.

All those voices from long ago remind me of snow falling. Dancing, twirling, acrobats of a trillion souls. A snowflake perhaps fell on the squishy green snout of a dinosaur, roaming the world, causing earthquakes with his great trampling feet.  But the air going into those dinosaur lungs was clean, pure and sweet, like these snowflakes falling now from the inky sky.

It’s almost pitch dark and still I shovel piles and piles of snow. It is covering every inch of my house, every corner, windowsill, ledge and eave.   The roof looks like it will collapse from the snow.  Where are the little elves to come and shovel it off for me?  The snow so heavy it obliterates the Christmas greens, the holly, the cedar, the evergreen,  the spruces, the dogwood that I so painstakingly arranged in the window boxes and doorways.  Everything is being pulled down low to the ground, big clumps of snow everywhere, hanging on everything… looking like ice cream for giants…..

Christmas cards will be late again this year, the house disheveled again this year, like my messy half cut hair, my head like a pineapple, a bunch of holly like the Charlie Brown  ragged Christmas tree… my eyes bulging, lids puffed up from too much drink?  food ?  sleep?  There were flowers still in September, October and even November, so many that I gathered all the pots of blooms in late November, put them in the garage thinking I would bring them out again,….they are now tiny pink blue yellow corpses littering the once clean floor….

I just came home from a party, a lovely lavish party for very special beautiful accomplished people… the biggest of the year the biggest I will ever be invited to ever again past or future, it was very big, had the most sumptuous buffet I have ever seen, surpassing even Cinderella’s anguished soot filled dreams…

I ate and ate and almost died at the trifle bowl.  A large cut glass square with mounds of  soft whipped cream slathered with lemon curd above and beneath, the sponge made by angels in heaven…. the layers of sponge and cream studded with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and the tiniest freshest strawberries picked by someone in a  hobbit’s dream…. oh the swishing of the flavors in my mouth, the clouds swirling there with the fruits of paradise, like the house of Vermeer, where only the choicest, the tastiest, the fluffiest most velvet texture in the mouth would do for the man in the silk scarf sitting at the head of the table staring and staring at you……as though he was dressing your lips for heaven….

The luscious food went down the many passages of my throat like silken lozenges of  violets of rose petal jam of apricots kissed by a thousand suns and whipped into froth for Kings and Queens….

I spent so much time at the buffet I missed all the speeches.  I missed the King and the Queen and the distinguished company of tuxedoed men and women standing with their smartphones catching every last piece of breath on every word and then goodbye and there was still the eggnog and brandies and cognacs and more champagnes… there was so much champagne I wanted everyone to go away and I wanted to drink all the champagne and visit each and every bedazzled room with the portraits of the long and the great but not forgotten..Lincoln was there flanked by two gingerbread men and there was even a room full of candy cane dolls about to dance the “Kentucky Waltz”.

My dress started to feel tattered and torn, my lips withering from the fine wines and champagne, and the salty taste of the salmon still on my tongue.  The silky salmon with the cornichons, capers, and lemons, the perfect disks of crunchy golden brown potatoes like the tiniest latkes, bowls of creme fraiche and sour cream.  We missed the jumbo shrimp and the rich claws of crab sitting in the huge crystal bowl.  It was so lavish so rich so extravagant I was afraid to go near it because I wanted to stick my whole face in it and eat all the shrimp and crab I never had…. oh the pristine waters where they spawned…..

I wish all the brocaded, jeweled, and sparkled ones would go away.. oh I wish I was in Isle au Haut, I wish I was in Wales, I wish I was the old aunt who drank the elderberry wine in the corner of Dylan’s house and everyone laughed at her, the lonely wrinkled face and rosy cheeks because she was having a little fun, she ran outside into the snowy cold garden and started to peep and squeak like a full throttled bird….

I wish I was a dinosaur trampling the earth with his gigantic feet roaming the jungles the ice the savannahs or maybe at the bottom of his obliterating feet. I wish I could turn into a six pointed star falling from the sky or floating forever and never having to wave hello or say goodbye.

I wish I was me in another world I wish I didn’t have to hear about all the pain and suffering 10,000 miles away.   I wish I wasn’t afraid to  say “Merry Christmas” or  “Happy New Year”,  I wish there were telephones that still rang and people ran to answer them, the tiny voice coming through the lines always bringing good cheer.

I wish I could go into the Mystic with Van Morrison, I wish I knew the sages of old I wish I knew how to battle this new terror that grips my heart and very soul.   I wish I knew my soul I wish I had a soul I wish I could speak to my soul or that it would just go away.  That it would speak or shout or whisper or just take me save me fell me call me if only for a little while deep in the mystic land of far away.

It’s so cold today and still,  the sun bright neon yellow and it is a cold sun and the park is lovely but frozen, and the paths are full of ice, snow, cracks, crevices and leaves. Where are all the birds, and why do the dogs always bark and bark like banshees without end?  Oh where are the birds, where do they go, how can there be enough leaves, eaves, hollows, and shrubs to hide them all.

The river at the bus stop was clear and flowing, a few large blocks of thin ice like islands seemed to beckon me to go and sit, to lie and float away… it looked cold and clean and underneath I saw what I thought was a long carp a very long carp, or a pole, a young slender tree trunk like an old birch,  a long leather belt, a huge brown bone, a weird midwestern river snake about to jump out and grab me and take me down to the very depths of the cold water.

Oh I wish it would snow now again even after shoveling and shoveling and breathing and working and worrying all Sunday about how to get it all how to get all the white the fluff the frosty freezing six pointed star away from the house so it would not swallow me up.

This is a tundra now and I walk all bundled up like a Baba Yaga, or one of those Russian wooden dolls that go on forever and ever… a babushka all swaddled up going to Siberia… I bought a six-foot long three-foot wide scarf to protect me this winter and walking through the silent frozen park I hear something small and sweet, tinkling, like water somewhere, falling from an outstretched branch, a hand, a foot, and it’s very high in the frozen white blazing neon sky, and it is clear and pointed and fragile like a snowflake like a dinosaur, and it is beyond human understanding beyond human understanding how something so tiny, sweet and slender, made out of nothingness, could fill the park the air the sky as though it too was going into the mystic…..

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A Daily Post Prompt

Posted in Bus Stop Stories, Eating, Drinking, Cooking, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Sausage, Eggs, Honey, Maria Callas

I don’t know why I am writing about sausage, eggs and honey, accompanied by Maria Callas singing “The Gypsy Song” from the opera “Carmen”.   I don’t know why the eggs didn’t break this morning as I was holding them above the skillet tapping them with a knife.

There are different ways of breaking an egg and it depends on what you are making with that egg, what you are holding below them.  A mixing bowl a pan a little dish? One chef suggests just tapping it on a flat surface like your counter or table.  He said it works every time.  Not for me, the egg just ends up having starburst tiny lines all over it and then when you try to get the egg to split and spill its contents it is a mushy eggy shelly mess.

When I crack the egg on the side of the bowl sometimes it works and sometimes not.  My favorite way is to tap it with a butter knife along its middle.  It usually works, the egg comes out whole and the shell does not disintegrate.

I have been eating too many eggs. I love eggs.  Over easy, scrambled, poached, soft-boiled like M.F.K Fisher loved:   boil your egg very gently until the white is cooked and the yolk still runny and silky smooth.  The perfect sauce.  Then put it in a small bowl, add a pat of fresh, unsalted butter, a sprinkle of coarse salt, and a few cracks of fresh pepper. Heaven!   Unless you hate soft runny things.

I bought too many eggs over the Thanksgiving holiday, thinking there would be recipes calling for many eggs.  There was just one and now I have two cartons of eggs in the fridge that must be eaten.  By me. What is better than eggs, toast, and bacon or sausage, potatoes maybe, all crusty brown and creamy soft inside!  Jam or marmalade, steaming cups of black coffee with a little cream…especially leftover vanilla infused whipped cream from Thanksgiving’s pumpkin pie…… floating on top of your black coffee and then falling down your throat like melted clouds.

Today is a cold, to some bleak morning, most of the leaves gone on the trees except the four across the street by the school, almost intact, still in shades of yellow, red and green, almost complete like persevering humans.  The peach climbing rose in the garden is still clinging to the rose arbor, the leaves green as Irish clover.

The gardener came yesterday to finish fall cleanup… picking up the rest of the leaves, scooping up the wilted mushy piles of hostas, cutting down the last of the snapdragons in the window boxes…  they were not ready to go, still sending out blooms though faded and pale. I wanted to keep them, thinking they would send out a burst of color like snapdragons often do late in fall.  But we cut them down to make room for the Christmas greens.  I should have put the greens in yesterday or the day before when it was prematurely warm.. 50’s..today it’s in the 30’s. Soon the dirt in the pots will be too hard and I will have to pour hot water over them and then try to stick the branches in, making what should be a wonderful happy chore into a frustrating cursing thing.

Yesterday, walking through the park, I could have stayed there forever….. the Bald Cypress’ scattering their needles in pools of thick brown velvet. I almost wanted to fall down and sleep there … the hybrid oaks like massive sculptures still holding on to their long crinkled leaves … the large yellow irises that sent out premature buds and  bloomed a couple of weeks ago like they do in June… with huge chiffony flowers.. are now lying in yellow puddles like the egg yolks I ate this morning.

The maples, the lindens, the willows in the nun’s garden….. the newly planted trees with their feeding bags like horses in the meadows….  thistly horned prickly fuzzy twigs and branches, seeds and pods of all the flowers and grasses, crinkling rustling singing late autumn songs….. the trees all seemed to be sighing, trying to tell me something. If I listened close enough I might be able to fathom what deep secret they are hiding. Trees have deep secrets, that I know.

The grass still green as summer… the white arbor holding up the last remnants of the autumn clematis, some clusters of purple asters still blooming..  the voluptuous drying hydrangeas everywhere thick and brown like caramel crunch, coffee with too much cream, like crispy browned onions in the pan.

The sky grey, pearly, and distant, the clouds perfumed with the scents rising up from the ground, all the disintegrated flowers and herbs shooting straight up to those golden towers lingering there like night jasmine in a summer garden.  Sometimes you can feel it all waiting. Waiting and sighing. Waiting for us all to behave, to start fresh, or maybe to just end.

I couldn’t rake the leaves this year, the first time in 17 years.  The gardener had to do it.  He was noisy, a bit sloppy and his pants kept sliding down his behind showing his naked skin looking cold and weird in the fading garden, the 35 degree weather.  And that noisy blower and gasoline smell….Then he asked me if he should use a rake.  I said “Yes, please.”

I love raking out the garden even if it takes hours and hours…. the slow sure raking of the jeweled leaves, some matte, some shiny, some leathery, others thin and translucent like the skin of an old lady tucking herself into bed…… this orderly putting away of summer’s charms gives me peace, a sense of direction, of calm, of seasonal balance… putting my mind and body right, at ease.  Just to take a breath of frosty autumn air, tinged with all the faded dying things, yet full of luscious fragrances like apples baking in the oven, exploding with all of nature’s buried charms.   The leaves in every color, the gleaming grass still smelling of summer, showing the imprints of my happy feet… the scent of burning incense, the violet smoke, the ruby sky, the piles of leaves on the curb like my harvest, my grain, my wheat, my barley, corn and lentils to make my very own Ezekiel bread…. the hard tack of sustenance to keep me going. Like eating raw earth, shoving it into your mouth with insatiable desire to stave off hunger, sickness and death, the coming cold and gales of winter.

The eggs I got out of the carton this morning were very small perfectly oval eggs, brown  and “organic” meaning eggs like the ones our grandparents or maybe great great grandparents ate.  I tapped the egg and it didn’t break, not even a tiny hairline crack.    I tapped and tapped.  Nothing.  Then a shiver of fear and loathing came over me, that there was something inside of the egg. Some slimy blood-washed tiny creature who did not want to come out… fearing a beak or a little leg peeping through I almost tossed the egg, then just tapped harder and it came— perfect round yolks surrounded by a firm, pellucid albumen. The shells harder than any I ever saw, almost a double shell, one brown and then another layer like insulation.  Against the cold the ugly, the poison, as though that egg wanted to stay inside.  I looked at its perfect shape and reluctantly threw out the shells, hard as porcelain.

I fried the eggs in butter marveling still at their perfect shape and size.  I made white toast –a sometimes aberration–  put three fat slices of sausages in a cold pan, the kind you use in stuffing for a turkey, almost reeking of sage and loaded with salt… I  drizzled the toast with honey and ate that rich fatty buttery salty breakfast perfumed with the honey of a thousand flowers.

Then suddenly I heard a voice, it was Maria Callas on the radio. A sultry velvety voice full of longing and pain.  Even her happy songs had a little pain. She looked like pain, like beautiful Grecian pain, like a vase found in some archaeological site sill intact but just holding on, fragile, delicate,  and tough yet about to shatter into dust…. her long regal nose, her dark coiling hair falling down her trembling shoulders…those painted Cleopatra eyes… always searching for her Anthony searching and searching.  They said her voice was one of “perfect imperfection”.  Velvety in the middle, steely and almost shrill at the top and the high notes were “shrieks”.  But the drama, the emotion, the passion was unparalleled.  Her voice was life itself.

I remembered  a story I heard about her… this beautiful, famous, rich artist, the companion of Aristotle Onassis, who at the end of her life was so lonely she only wanted  a little dish of ice cream… after walking home with a friend in New York after a dinner party. He was about to go home to his wife and children and she spied a gelateria on the corner and asked him to please go in with her, she didn’t want to go home…. could they just have a little dish of ice cream…. She was so lonely then, already losing her voice…. a dish of ice cream is all she wanted.

And now, listening to her singing the “Gypsy Song” from “Carmen”,  I eat my eggs and toast and honey and I want nothing, nothing at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Always the Garden, Eating, Drinking, Cooking, Uncategorized | 26 Comments

The Scorching Table of Thanks

via Daily Prompt: Scorched

I remember pictures.   That burning child in Vietnam 1972.  All the scorched things in this earth on her little child face.  My front lawn 1995, just back from Ukraine but elated, thinking maybe the war was won.  A hundred mosquito bites on our bodies.  They had no screens and no one ever opened the windows in the summertime.  Such a simple thing to prevent the little vampires from getting you in bed.

I remember the big jars of peaches fermenting underneath the beds, the screeching whine of those things in the night, and getting up thinking there would be one lone mosquito helicoptering around our heads, but there were dozens and dozens and they kept multiplying and attacking us like giant bugs in a sci fi flick, and we whacked them mercilessly with the ragged Kievan towels… while our hosts were sleeping peacefully next door in the stifling heat… we swatted until the early morning light, and the walls were streaked with red and we woke up frightened at the walls but then we laughed.

The burning front lawn seemed to bother me more than anything that year.  I remember the sun and how it would not go away.  My third floor walk up like the Sahara desert.  The sky so blue, baby bedroom blue… bluer than those dreamy water silk drapes that pooled to the floor, that mom wanted so badly.  And I didn’t give them to her, but to the condominium buyer instead, because I wanted to make a few dollars more…  I still see her sad and hurt little face, pining for that bit of blue to dream in.

I opened the door to my condo, you were shocked to see me, and there were birds and feathers flying. Surprised faces and tired, exhausted bodies sighing… tears and slamming doors and I picked up bird feathers for days.  The ensuing cruelty of being tired and sick, wasted from stale airports and people and air, the stained floors, the anxiety of my refuge taken from me, and the horror of lashing out at someone in need.  Twenty years later I’m still embarrased.  I was very tired, but it turned into mean, then just sad like the smell of cauliflower when I was twenty one. Leaving home forever, and mother shouting after me and then crying at the top of the stairs as I was leaving…And now, so many decades later the smell of cauliflower haunts me still, her crying face like a sudden summer storm, the weird scary ones that leave golf balls of hail in the garden.  You open the back door, it was just summer a few seconds ago, but now you see the Ice Age coming….

I came home to burnt lawns and feathers, my own disgrace.  1995 and summers have come and gone, come and gone, but lawns no matter how burnt how scorched they always came back again, sometimes greener than before.  Not this year or next.  The lawns are full of slithering snakes and jumping worms with fat white stripes like maggot waists.

I sit here at my table skimming recipes from “Saveur”, and  “Bon Apetite”, old “Gourmet Magazines”, ah, when America was still dreaming again!  I even looked up  recipes on the food network and got lost in the 133 best side dishes for Thanksgiving, some gluten free.

Just had a fatty delicious breakfast of eggs, toast, and bacon, greedily wiping up every last streak of the yellow yolks with warm toasted bread …slathered with butter and jelly made from the fruit of the vine….It felt good for approximately sixty-two seconds.

Chemical burns in Aleppo now, the barrels were flying out of planes like new Beaujolais, ancient monuments smashed in Iraq and Syria, earthquakes in Churchtown and even in Oklahoma.  It’s just the earth saying “Hi it’s me, are you still there?”

Shall it be beets, rutabaga or carrots, green beans, broccoli or parsnips, steamed, scalloped or sautéed, pumpkin pie or apple or pear, crumbles or pandowdies, or maybe  Middle Eastern fare… throw in a little Russian, Chinese, or maybe German, like from Pennsylvania dutch country, or a simple Shaker thing to get your saving graces going…..that bitter Shaker lemon pie was a hit last year…..

Chutney, relish, or red pepper jelly, maybe slather the turkey in Mayo or give them pimento cheese!

I have piles and piles of magazines scattered on the table, still in a daze in my robe, unwashed, uncombed, uninspired, wondering how to do it all. There is a cello concert today at the library, a musician from Ukraine and pianist from Russia,… or I can go to that political meeting in town with concerned citizens afraid of the future— of muskets, spears, and bombs, men in white caps…

The sun is peering into the window, a cold, white, icy light. I am so tired already, and have so many forests, bogs, and orchards of cranberries, mushrooms, and apples to reap…There are two long tapering candles from last month’s dinner party on the dining room table, and I want to light them and let them burn, and scorch maybe, everything in this place, this little cape coddy house with the blue- green shutters that has been telling me for years now, please just go.

I want the fire to take me back to the old rivers, old towns, when a pile of burning leaves was just a pile of burning leaves, stoked by old-fashioned fathers of long ago.

A James Agee town, with James Agee in it, and that little boy and his good father, mother, aunt and uncle, who spread out their blankets on summer evenings and looked up at the stars…..maybe Delaware or Maryland, Virginia,  or good old Plymouth Rock, where fire was only fire to keep warm, to keep safe, to welcome your family and friends,  not this fire burning everything down to ash, scorching the great plains of my heart and soul and face.. think long and hard when you are at the table, before the glasses are raised and clinked in meaningless toasts, be careful how you sip the wine…

“Be of good cheer”,  someone once said to me a long time ago, when after shopping, cleaning, polishing, and washing, chopping, grating, sautéing, steaming and baking, and then lighting fifty candles on every table, counter, sink, and buffet, bookcase and mantel, I suddenly realized that I forgot to pray, get down on my knees and pray hard, fast, and deep, to steady these trembling hands these scathing, chapped, scarred and bleeding hands to try to lead them somewhere cool, calm and clean, before the raging fire that is now inching closer and closer, almost to my aching feet, the tiny bones can hardly make it anymore to the water, the bank of the river, by the curling grasses sighing in the watery breeze, come closer closer closer yet and plunge into me with your hands and feet and body,to the neck dear, yes to the very neck of you, just in time just in time to save your scorching eyes and mouth and face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This Savage Place

Almost all the leaves blew off the maple last night. Suddenly Indian summer, the prolonged weird heat just vanished and cold and wind took its place.  My mother used to hate the wind.  She stood at the doorway howling at it sometimes like a wolf to the very end. She hated how it whipped and thrashed all the pretty flowers in her garden in a frenzy, like a mad dog foaming at the mouth.

There were black spots on the yellow leaves on the sidewalk this morning, like some disease, mold or rot. It struck me how black and sinister looking they were, big round spots like some kind of plague or cancer.  I kept my head down all the way to the bus stop.  It was hard to look at anyone’s face.

The cemetery looked peaceful again.  How happy they must be, settled in their neat and tidy graves.

A group of a dozen or so Ginkgo trees in the Mormon church parking lot glowed bright yellow like magic lanterns, like sunny stick people, like curly little Shirley Temple when she was America’s sweetheart.  Such a cute chubby darling.   Their branches looked so human like hands raised in the air, like a crossing guard or someone in a panic.  Yes, the Gingko trees, all hands up as though in supplication. Each one a perfect replica of the other. The Chinese eyes are smiling.

The sun is shattering bright.  I’m having trouble breathing again.  I might be hit by a car today crossing that busy street like a highway.

Poor dear they might say she was distraught again today she had trouble breathing last night but I didn’t know it would end this way.  The other one said it was mildly entertaining watching it all a thousand miles away.

Why isn’t anybody crying?  Why is that rich old white man in that big black car smiling?  The driver asked me if I was cold.  “No” I said but I wanted to hear Bob Dylan screaming “It’s alright, Ma (I’m only bleeding)”. Tim Kaine quoted William Faulkner today in a very nice speech he gave just before she said farewell, adieu, goodbye,  to all of us… she was very brave but her husband was crying…”Well, Kernel they kilt us but they aint whupped us yit, air they?” Good for him, that goon bragged that he never read a book in his life……..

I’ve been up all night, I couldn’t even cry like when Ma died or Pa or Aunt Sue.   I bet Jo Ann Darling is glad she’s dead and didn’t have to see what they did to her garden……

I feel so tired I can’t even walk.  I think I lost my shoes….

I threw out that card from the Neptune Society.  The ones who come and clean and sweep and sort out all your stuff for you when you die… Save your relatives the trouble of stepping over your flesh, your trash, your discarded clothes and shoes….

When my father died I remember seeing his single navy blue suit hanging on a lonely hanger in a lonelier empty closet….. the silk pajamas I bought him 30 years ago still wrapped in tissue in the bottom drawer unopened… he never did like to have anything…

I threw out the Neptune card thinking there was time for sadness, sickness, and death and ashes….. Scattered like my father’s in Ukraine in his favorite park near his favorite river under his favorite sky.  Soon I hear they are going to take the country away again.  They are trying to figure out how to rip out the sky and the sun and the clouds.

There is no sky here or sun or park or river….. nowhere even now to put ones ashes. So don’t worry, like he just said.  “Cheerio, the world’s still here.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bludgeoning Sky

via Daily Prompt: Bludgeon

Bludgeon.  Sounds like a stew you might eat, or an old-fashioned death.  When savages were savages who didn’t know the art of killing.  Rhymes with dungeon, curmudgeon or maybe even illusion.  Like the one you have that all things were better in the past…

I’m being bludgeoned by this beautiful landscape skimming by–flaming shades of orange, vermillion, honey, gold and sienna, mingling in the fragrant ether of the melting sky.  Why are the trees so red today? Why are the roses so sad? Why are the zinnias and cosmos going on and on as though they will never end… still dancing budding smiling…  Someone has morning glories on the vine still climbing, the color of robin’s eggs.  And even they are turning red.

I have a scarlet Chinese lamp, ox blood walls, a rose colored kilm with vegetable dyes, made on a bloody loom.

My eyes are red from crying. There is a tiny rusted thread crawling out of my throat that seems to be sighing or telling me someone somewhere soon will be dying…

I saw a bird perched against the sky high on a stone above the church today, looking down at me sorrowing at the bus stop, across from the cemetery where a thousand dead souls are lying.  The plastic flowers are all red. The graves from the 1800’s when this was Germantown, and full of fields, meadows, orchards. The fallen apples on the ground like severed heads.

I am being bludgeoned by this landscape, this early fog this morning when I stepped outside.The silence so eerie, so still, the sea of cars no longer sighing like the ocean, and even the birds inside the shrubs seem to be dead.  The air almost asphyxiating, smelling of smoke, patchouli, lavender and fire.  The red lamp the red carpet the red walls my heart beating beating beating like a sheep, a cow, a pig going to slaughter, feeling already the final blow across their broad dumb smiling heads. Thump!  “Looky here” the cowboy said, “I’m dead!”

I am a ruby pear a cherry red plastic apple. I am a red rose blooming with fury this foggy November day.   I am being bludgeoned to death by all this beauty this sadness this madness.

The last thing I remember is Oscar Wilde, “Salome” red lips like pomegranates.  That juice father brought home from that Russian store on Harding Avenue before there was “Pom” and rock star chefs who threw them in salads with escarole…… those lurid plates of middle eastern fun…… pouring out the thick, rich, almost black liquid we tilted back our heads, and drank long, slow, and deep, and immediately had visions of crazy lotus eaters, love, death, and war on a merry go round dancing in our brains, panoramic views of Aztec maidens climbing one thousand steps to their long trembling deaths, waiting waiting waiting, for one more frightening breath …and then it’s over– beauty, sadness, madness.  Looky here!   I’m bludgeoned finally, to death.

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The Infinitesimal of Tiny Dreams

via Daily Prompt: Tiny

I often write the word tiny, little, small, trying to describe certain things.  It litters sometimes the papers I write my words on.  This tiny little desire to catch my breath today, this tiny little bird sitting on the edge of the bird bath today, shoved away by two fat robins and then suddenly they decide to let it stay.

This tiny hurt inside from twenty years ago when you rebuffed me, the insults of a thousand people walking by– sometimes a push a shove a snide remark or glance. The tiny enormity of these hidden sorrows, the stupidity of tiny self-centered emotion, the silliness of the tiny little faces in our mirrors.

The tiny joy of seeing that hummingbird one day in front of my face just a tiny foot away.. hovering there like a tiny helicopter mechanical leaf a grain in the sand a drop in the ocean, that such a tiny thing is so beautiful so small so delicate and can leap and fly a thousand miles a day.

Those tiny little peas I ate when my mother was dying and I didn’t know it, savoring each tiny burst of delicate green popping in my mouth like my desire for a breath of clean air, or England in the spring.

That tiny star I saw yesterday morning outside in the dark in the autumn air and the tiny birds deep in the shrubs near me suddenly awakened from their tiny deep slumbers, the sleep of the last living poetry lovers on earth who soar and sing and chant sometimes deep into the night.   The tiny voices not so tiny but shattering almost the night the sky the clouds and even re arranging the stars……..

The dark sky lightened and the tiny little breeze that lifted the edge of my robe the tiny little whispering a mile away of cars that sounded like a weird ocean and the big pink open mouth suddenly lighting up the sky like Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor poolside in sunny LA.  The pink wide mouth just appeared and a very tiny bird flew into it as though flying into heaven– the bird so tiny even tinier than the tiny plane that glided past and tiny bird and plane both the same, but I saw the tiny bird shiver as it sailed by the lipstick sky.

Looking in the mirror I saw something tiny dark green like an emerald in the shade and then lit up suddenly like the ocean by a vertical sun, such a tiny glinting thing on my shoulder and I remember the beautiful girl a decade ago at the Opera and her tiny emeralds dripping down her beautiful neck and back like tiny little stones scrubbed by tiny little droplets from gushing waterfalls, rivers,streams, meandering meandering like the tiny yellow leaves I see floating down the river and vanishing now like the tiny tiny tears falling from my chin.

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When Trees Walk Home With You

via Daily Prompt: Tree

Once I was almost evicted from a dinner party because of trees.   In a beautiful house in an old leafy town outside Chicago.   I was sad that whole sorry decade because of trees and what people did to them.  At the party I drank a lot of wine and talked about trees, instead of children, houses, kitchens and bathrooms or the latest post modern de- constructive menus at the latest restaurant….a particular favorite at the time was a place where they didn’t take reservations, didn’t answer the phone, and didn’t even care if you showed up… there were plenty of people to take your place…… the hostess was very kind, the food was good, but they all wanted me to leave or shut up, and I wished then, like I often do these days at dinner parties……that I was on a long, dark and very lonely road somewhere, flanked by towering elms, chestnuts, lindens, or oaks,… no cars or people in sight, perhaps the sad and lonely scalded moon like bones in the graveyard walking me home….

I remember Grandma’s cherry tree in Canada and all of us spilling into the garden.  Aunts, uncles, moms, dads, and all the cousins with their tousled hair and puffy little skirts climbing the cherry tree, catching a branch,  searching the ground…. the cherries bright red like Betty Boop’s mouth and sour as lemons with a little maggot inside. We picked them anyway every year– our little family ritual.  Then after we had gone, Grandma really picked them, every last one, no maggots, and simmered them with sugar, a little vanilla and something secret she kept in her damp apron grandma pocket,  and bottled them up in jars and put them all in a row in the cool dark basement, and next year we would eat them perfumed with the sun and laughter, the joy of that day, our summer vacation cherry happiness.

I remember once living in the slums, and the first time we drove to the rich suburbs of our new city and the trees bigger than houses and wider than mountains filling the sky with green fresh breath as if the world had just been born, and even dinosaur mouths  were too small to grab a handful of leaves.

I remember driving in the country and seeing the small white farmhouse with the white picket fence and the barn big and tall, the old elms and horse chestnuts bigger and wider still, the cozy, safe and secure warmth, like a mothers arms wrapping up the whole farm in her goodness.  And all the cows, horses, pigs and lambs seemed protected by those trees, even seemed to withstand the tornadoes and hurricane winds that lashed day and night.  And in the morning the old trees were still there, glistening with dew that fell on your face like a baptism.

I remember the tree on Oakley Ave, and the first time I saw a stupid person cut down a tree because it was in the way.  They didn’t want to rake the leaves, and they didn’t want to mow around it. They wanted more light; they were afraid a branch might fall down.  It was easier to cut down the tree.   And you, such a big strong man , ran outside unabashedly crying, and begged them to stop but they cut it down anyway. We both had to call in sick that day.

I remember buying my first house,  a small cottage with the biggest greenest Elm for miles around.  My beautiful tree that I watched from the window each season and especially in winter when it rose up like a hundred black sculpted arms and arrows to the sky.  Two years ago it caught Dutch Elm and I came home and saw the silver mark they put on the tree– a sign it would be taken down.   Marked like a pariah or leper or condemned man or woman, the silver circle of death.  The day they came with their trucks and ladders and chain saws I thought I would pass out from sadness, the horror of seeing that towering tree destroyed.  The birds flew out screeching and screaming and shattered the world that day.

J came over immediately and took me to the Botanic Garden and left me there in a corner while she went home to teach.  She gave me a bag of peanuts, fruit and a bottle of wine and I sat there weeping and drinking and eating while they hacked down my tree…. she picked me up later and took me to her house for dinner and made sure we didn’t get home until almost midnight so the shock would not be so bad…. but even then at midnight the nakedness, the baldness, the sterile bleak sadness.. we both screamed at the sight and had to cover our eyes.   I ran into the house and stayed there for days …

I live in a town where some people build very big houses and often trees are in the way and they cut them down…… the houses are now taller than the trees and this does not seem right to have houses taller than trees.  “Do not destroy the trees…”. there is a passage like this somewhere in the Bible but I forget where…. Perhaps one day they will not like the blue sky they will try to make it lower or higher or paint it a different color.

I used to sit in my back yard and watch in amazement two towering silver maples (that some people consider bad trees) in the garden behind me.  They were so tall and silver and sometimes on a very windy day with a storm approaching, I would sit in the garden and watch them, and weep over my mother and over all the trees that I have seen disappear over the years… some to sickness some to drought or wind or fire,  but too many to accommodate someone’s new kitchen or bath.  I sat there one day when the wind got more and more ferocious and my garden was almost shaking as though it would be ripped away.  I sat in my chair drinking and looking at the silver maples, how their thousands of leaves fluttered and glinted like old metal, then sparkled shiny like silver and then looked like snow like dew like frosted grey hair floating on cold rivers and the sky got so black and then green, but still I sat watching the old silver maples and I almost wished they would fall on top of me and crush me to pieces…..I forgot to mention those maples were home to hundreds of birds who twittered and chattered and sang themselves silly night and day.

One day a fierce wind broke off a huge branch of one of the silver maples and then a lady developer decided to tear down the charming old brick house, the thirty two year old mature  garden and decided the silver maples too would have to go away….

The house next door went one day.  And then all the trees on their east side (my west) were chopped down.  For years whenever I came home or woke up in the morning I heard chain saws or drills or hammers and something always came falling down. ..

Shortly after the trees next door came down to make way for a huge house with six bathrooms my mother died.   I sat there for days in a stupor drinking myself to pieces in my now naked garden, my American dream, my American nightmare suburb with all the trees to the north, south and west of me gone.

I went out and bought two trees and I planted them in honor of my mother and I called them Mamasha.   My two trees are now very tall and my yard is almost overgrown almost too shady too wild too crazy too weedy too unkept too unmanicured too insane too schizophrenic paranoid mad… because I want trees and green and no people or houses anymore……  so badly have I been shaken here in my little paradise, the greed for more houses and bigger and better spaces at the expense of nature’s most beautiful poetry….

I was naked alone in the garden with everything destroyed around me for bathrooms and kitchens ……… one day I was so sad for the trees and the birds and the squirrels and even the hummingbirds, who often rest for a long time in its upper branches…and I went up to all my trees and my shrubs and I wrapped my drunken arms around each and every one and I whispered, “I promise I will never leave you and I promise no one will ever cut you down.”

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The Raining Sun

Cold this morning, especially earlier in bedroom.   Too lazy to get the comforter out or another blanket– there was no blanket– laundry backup.   In the dark I rummaged in the linen closet for something—  a duvet cover and threw it over the sheet and blanket.

Cold this morning but I went out anyway at 6:30 a.m. in robe with coffee, disheveled hair, bleary eyed and half asleep.  My garden is ablaze with color.  But the fire is purple, citrine, auburn, bright sunny yellow, gold, black/purple/blue and hazy lavender grey … also shocking pinks and reds (zinnias) and rosy pinks (Japanese Anemones).

And then …  these morning glories.  Most of them are now fading, but I planted so many throughout the garden that while walking around I find at least one leafy vine setting out new purple flowers, and I see them in the early morning or evening, and they greet me with their bells, almost blaring out a tune….. big fat gum balls from those childhood glass casinos, delirious grapey wines,  martian jelly babies,  flower comets, weird night birds, …someone’s  dangling forgotten necklace trailing down the paths and grasses, up and down all the flowers…. this one image to have and to hold in winter’s tired eyes, sad at seeing the summer gone…. the glories seem to say in their big beautiful brash and almost deathly way, they’ll be back…nothing ends it all starts and ends and starts and ends all over again….

I never understood why some gardeners hate morning glories…. so many people do… they can be invasive, get crazy tangled up in all your other plants and choke things if you are not careful, but they are deeply beautiful, riveting when you first spot them in the morning.  Is anything so purple?  The king’s robe is not so velvety so soft and yet so  piercing fresh, almost triumphant in its stare, as though to say ” I too survived the night”…… especially now on these cold and drizzly autumn mornings….

Somehow I managed to get dressed.  Cold enough to wear a big brown heavy sweater, brown pants and long brownish/gold neck scarf thrown about in a semi fashionable way.  I looked like a deep fried Crispy Creme doughnut……

Walking through the park I noticed the Bald Cypress’ are very green and look very happy, like Pinehurst Carolina in the 80’s– that trip I took alone, and promptly fell in love with that tennis player…….the walk I took in the forest with millions of dry dying summer pine needles covering the forest floors… the damp piney soft smell, the southern air, sweet and slightly bitter– those pretty little egg shell china cups and saucers I bought for my mother in that old antique shop, the palest lavender, the palest celery and pink, colors that were just a whisper like the  ghosts of all the lips that drank the teas on sunny porches or cluttered sitting rooms in some small town there years ago………

Walking toward the bus stop it started to rain.. A light soft misty drizzle and then the sun came out.  It was raining in the sun, always a bizarre sight, like a cracked mind.

That big red construction truck roared by again… same one as yesterday and spit out a huge black cloud of smoke that went right into my nostrils mouth and lungs….. Curses! The line of cars, traffic, smoke and everyone rushing in their two thousand tons of polluting steel again….

By the time we got to the Plaza the sun was neon yellow, big and bright and nuclear. I got hot and felt silly there on the bus in my big sweater and scarf.  The only smart thing I did was wear sandals.  Feet cold body hot.

The western sky got cloudy suddenly–mountains of grey blue dusky clouds and the east was blazing.

I felt tired suddenly.  I didn’t feel like going to work.  I didn’t feel like talking to people.

I wanted to get off the bus. I just wanted to walk and walk never stopping never coming back.  Just wanted to walk forever in the Raining Sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Dilemma of Dismay

via Daily Prompt: Dilemma

Dilemma.  Sounds like a nineteenth century word, to describe a feeling you might have, at the prospect of tea with the wrong person, wearing the wrong kind of hat, whose gloves are slightly soiled at the tips, after picking up greasy crumbs from their impoverished table.

Dilemma is simply sheer Dismay, and that is how I felt this morning leaving the house, 9/27, after the bitter news of yesterday, hearing the devil speak and no one understanding…. on this bright sunny autumn day, but the wind starting to whip at me like furious horse tails.

That carp I saw the other day trying to swim in the River– not enough water, again.  It had to float sideways in order to breathe.   I could see it trying to get some water breath.  It tried again and again and I watched it helplessly until the bus came.

The leaves are falling down like golden flowers, like tired ballerinas. Thousands of pods like green watermelon seeds cover the top of the water, like an old woman’s glittering hairnet.

Today there are two carp– the water is a bit higher.  Both burrowing in the riverbed digging up clams or insects or oysters as though they exist.  There are abalone shells lying down at the bottom of the river like open shutters….

One carp is in a pool of water lit up by the Aztec sun and the other is hiding under the bridge in the dark shadows.   Both are eating, oblivious to one another.

I watch the carp the golden flowers and the ballerinas falling into the river, and I am afraid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Panic Street

via Daily Prompt: Panic

Read the news or don’t read the news. There’s panic in the air.  Shootings, shootings, shootings.  On the streets.  In malls, movies, churches.

Little dead things in the garage.  Tiny pink with bulging blue eyes like little dots of shame, or is it horror.  Better be dead than alive in these times, in this garage in this basement in this house.

Took a walk the other day along Lake Street…  million dollar condos going up everywhere.   Pretty people handsome people sexy people.  Prada Armani Versace Karan Miu Miu Notre Milan Paris Amsterdam New York Brooklyn Berkeley chic.  Young tattooed pierced ringleted dyed botoxed coiffed pedicured all with interesting weird shoes.  Mismatched colors are in.  All plugged in listening to news or music walking down dirty dusty littered streets. Cranes construction chain link fences. Cars cars cars everywhere going nowhere.

Meet me at the corner of that building she said.  “Is it safe?”  All  I remembered is it was far west and industrial.  Concrete, narrow sidewalks, cars whizzing by, not stopping for anyone.  Black tinted windows. They don’t even care if they kill you. Watch it walking down that street!

“Are you kidding?”  she said.  There are condos, cafes, restaurants, people everywhere.  West side chic pushing more and more west.

Off I went walking down the chic million dollar condo streets.   Cranes and dust and chain link fences.   Starbuck cups and wrappers, Dunkin Donut boxes, mustard streaked wax papers, toilet paper, paper towels, plastic bags, doggy poo bags, coke bottles, rusty blades…..tiny trees people forgot to water, shriveled rose bushes coughing up tiny parched roses, dried out shrubs that looked like my father’s ashes…..

But yes, pretty people everywhere walking talking listening to nothing. Prada Milan Paris Amsterdam on their backs and bottoms and feet.   Now and then I smelled Chanel or Angel or Hermes perfumes wafting in the air with garbage and poo.

Panic Panic Panic in the streets.  I hear the flowers screaming I hear the trees and shrubs and very dirt in the flower boxes moaning…….

Then dinner at the restaurant with the young and the rich and chic.  Flies buzzing around our table and all the wilted roses in the vase.   The loud shrieking voices of the tables all around us besotted with Taj Mahals……  the flowers in the window boxes were all wilted.    They didn’t water the flowers and waited for the rain instead.  Everyone did. All around my town the flowers and trees and shrubs waited and waited and waited for water… from anyone.  Wilting and dying and drying.  Then, finally it rained.  A little.

God does not water your flowers people, or your trees, or your shrubs.  He is busy now.  Take up your pitchers and bowls and your hoses and water the earth, its trees and shrubs and flowers…… clean the streets, the sidewalks, the roads, and alleys,  and underground tunnels of your cities…. your dusty buildings and cars …..

Then, you can put on your Prada Armani Versace and Miu Miu and strut around on your clean and shiny streets……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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