Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mark Trail Fixes Brokeback Mountain*

*Thanks to friend Drew for the title

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mr. Sandman Bring Back My Dream

Early this morning, still in Dreamsville, I was dreaming about my next blog piece. I was shown where to go on the internet to research the additional information I would need. I was told the people I should talk to so that I could flush out the article more, and I was given the right images. The dream was so clear-cut and full of detail, I remember thinking, "When I get up, I will write this piece and that will be my blog posting for the day." So I got up. And I remembered that I had a dream about blogging. All details about the post? Gone. What was it about? I don't remember. One image? Sure. Me clicking on Google to do the homework. I'm right back where I started.

When you check dream dictionaries to see how "blogs" or "blogging" is interpreted, it's such a new concept, they don't even list it. Computers? Yes. "The computer dream is one of personal understanding and as such should be viewed in conjunction with all of the other signs in your dream. The computer can also represent discipline and coordination to the dreamer." I guess the lesson here is to always do a backup on my dreams, before my awakening.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Decontamination @ Table Five
Or, Don't Shit Where You Eat

I was out with a friend last night, parked along the street next to a café, and I was waiting in the car while they went in to pick up something for their dinner. While I waited, I saw a woman come out with a baby who was about one-year old dangling in her arms. She went over to her car, reached in and grabbed a diaper bag. While she was doing this, her other child was inside, watching Mom from the window and making faces.

Mom then marched over to an al fresco table in front of me, propped the kid up standing in front of her, pulled the child's pants down, ripped off a disposable diaper (which was muddy), grabbed a wipe from the diaper bag and proceeded to wipe the baby's butt in the eating area. Once the new diaper was in place she then walked over to a waste can between the restaurant and the curb, and she dumped the soiled diaper into it, walked back inside and rejoined her other child. I think my jaw was slack during this entire clean-up operation.

I thought, "At the very least, with her car right there, couldn't she perform this act in the back seat of her own car?" Wiping down a shitty baby where people eat??? Can you become so stressed, so jaded about your actions with your children that you lose any consciousness of basic proprieties? When the weather warms up in the next few weeks, think about what's been going on at that table before you sit down to eat, folks.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dead-Eye Dick Cheney
Be Vewy, Vewy Qwiet
I'm Hunting Qwail

......Uh...I thought he hunted wabbits!
Must have been bad Intel.

WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)
Productions, Inc.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day


I just couldn't decided what to do for Valentine's Day. I sat down last night and thought about it, and all I could come up with was everything I didn't want to do: list Valentine movies to watch (St. Valentine's Day Massacre), list Valentine's music to listen to (My Funny Valentine), write about the history of St. Valentine, do an anti-Valentine piece. I even scanned a Valentine a teenaged boy had drawn for me, thinking back to earlier Valentine's.

I decided to do something sentimental and corny. I got out my book of craft papers, some lace doilies and scissors, and I made you some Valentine's:

It isn't the size of your house as such
That matters so much at all.
It's the gentle hand and it's loving touch,
That make it great or small.

The friends who come and the hour they
Who out of your house depart,
Will judge it not by the style you show,
But rather the size of your heart.

It isn't the size of your head so much,
It isn't the wealth you found.
That will make you happy--it's how you touch
The lives that are all around.

For making money is not hard--
To live life well is an art;
How people love you, how they regard,
Is all in the size of your heart.

....or the size of your rack

Now you KNEW I wasn't going to play it straight,
all the way through... didn't you?

Happy Valentine's Day, Everyone.

Neck Or Nothing*
Happy Birthday Henry Rollins

I've been thinking about necks this morning. You see, it's Henry Rollins' birthday, and he certainly stands out as one of the great bulletheads of our age. Born Henry Garfield, Henry is originally from Washington, D.C. though his current residence is Los Angeles. It's hard to label Rollins as he fills so many roles: musician, stand-up comic, poet, author, publisher (his company is called 2.13.61 after his birthday), spoken word artist and premiere scowler.

"I cannot believe they are out of Almond Hazelnut Swirl."

As a young man, Henry worked in the local Häagen-Dazs ice cream shop. With a regimen of weightlifting and anger, Rollins transformed himself from a 98-pound weakling into a burly muscleman with a Mack truck body. Over the years, tattoos have been added (he has a thick set of bars tattooed across the back of his neck), and he has been perceived as intimidating visually as well as he is vocally.

Henry became involved with punk music through his close friendship with Ian MacKaye, the frontman for local discord artists, Fugazi, and he performed with the band State of Alert for one record before disbanding. When the hardcord punk band Black Flag came to D.C. in 1981, Henry jumped up on stage and sang with them. History was made that night, because the group reshuffled it's lineup, and he became their new lead singer. From that point he evolved from being Henry Garfield into Henry Rollins, "Rollins" being his gruff nickname. Henry has had a successful film career, invariably playing the "heavy," and he seems on constant tour with his work as a spoken word performer.

"I call this piece, Duck. Duck. Goose."

Speaking of movies, when I started thinking about Rollins' distinctive neck, it reminded me of this very obscure little movie that Lee Marvin made called Shack Out On 101 (1955.) Directed by Edward Dein this noir lite flick is set in a beach dive propped up against the water and Highway 101 in California. In the greasy spoon are George, the owner, The Slob (played by Lee Marvin), Kotty (played by Howard Hughes' secret wife Terry Moore), and Kotty's nuclear research scientist boyfriend, Professor Sam. The Slob, Lee Marvin, is stealing secrets from the lab and selling them to the Commies, but the real hoot in the movie, in my opinion, is this strange bodybuilding scene going on in the shack between Lee Marvin and George (Keenan Wynn.)

"Show me your nuclear secrets or else!"

In one particularly oddball exhibition, Wynn and Marvin are exercising, bare-chested, in the diner's eating area. The two check out each other's flabby pecs, and the effect is oddly homoerotic, pointedly so when Kooty (the waitress) walks in and the men bolt for cover, as though she caught them in flagrante.

TeenBodybuilding.com - Big Red - Build Your Neck!

I remember The Slob (Marvin) spitting out this one line to Wynn, "I wanna have a really BIG NECK cause that's what shows when you're dressed!" Words to live by. Here are some words from Henry, "I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. To cut yourself out of stone." Happy birthday Mr. Rollins.

Drawing by Nathan Ota

*Neck or nothing is a horse racing term which means to win by a neck or to win nothing. It's idiom is "to risk everything."

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Jello, I Love You
Won't You Tell Me Your Name*

Brangelina @ 1959

I was flipping through some old cookbooks passed down through the family, and when I got to this one entitled Country Cooking, issued by Farm Journals, I had to laugh at the food being shown. There's something about lousy photography, lurid colors and changing food tastes through time. I'm trying to picture some young woman (circa 1959 when this book was published) thinking, "What can I serve my love for a Valentine's meal he will never forget?" For some reason, jellied molded food seemed to be very popular across the food groups, in ways you could never imagine, so I thought I would share a few to get you in the Valentine spirit:

I Don't Think You Ready For This Jelly**

Jellied Meat Mold

1 1/2 pounds boneless chuck beef
1 cup hot water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup cubed dill pickles
1 10 1/2 ounce can condensed beef consommé
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
12 pimiento-stuffed olives
Strips of pimiento

  • Simmer beef in water until tender. Remove beef. Put through food chopper using coarse blade. There should be two cups of ground beef.
  • Cool broth. Soften gelatin in two tbl. of broth.
  • Cook celery and onion in remainder of the broth until tender, but still slightly firm, about ten minutes. Drain. Save broth. Mix celery, onions and pickles into the meat.
  • Add enough broth to the consommé to make two cups; heated. Add soften gelatin; stir to dissolve. Pour thin layer of gelatin into a 1 1/2 quart loaf pan; chill. To remainder of gelatin mixture add salt and pepper and beef.
  • Arrange olive slices and pimiento strips in design over the gelatin in pan. Spoon in beef mixture and chill.
  • To serve, unmold on platter. Garnish with parsley and stuffed olives.. Makes eight servings.
  • Double the recipe for a crowd.
Don't you just love that? Double the recipe for a crowd? Because they'll be clamouring for this one. What really tickled me, was that at the beginning of the recipe, under the title, it said, "We've never tasted a better jellied meat mold! A Five-Star Recipe!"

...and for dessert...MORE molded food:

Dr. Freud? White Courtesy Phone...
Then Again, Sometimes A Jello
Mold Is Just A Jello Mold.

Strawberry Parfait Ring

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup boiled water
Red food coloring
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream, whipped
Strawberries (about 1 1/2 quarts)
Flaked or shredded coconut
1 cup heavy cream

  • Cook sugar with water until syrup spins a thread (235 degrees). Use food coloring if you wish a pink mold.
  • Beat egg whites until stiff; gradually add hot syrup and continue beating until cool and light. Add vanilla and salt.
  • Fold in the whipped cream; pour into a 2-quart ring mold and freeze.
  • At serving time, umold and fill center of the ring with strawberries. Sprinkle a fluff of coconut on top. If ring is not tinted, tint coconut pink. Border the ring with puffs of whipped cream.
For those on a diet, you can always whip up healthy treats like those found on these dated Weight Watcher cards:

I know these things have been around forever, but they continue to fascinate and repel at the same time.

The Tower Of Meat: Size Doesn't Matter

Let's retire to the den, shall we?........

After your man is sated, you can go over to the hi fi and put on Esquivel's Other Worlds, Other Sounds lp, dim the lights on your pole lamp and snuggle. Later, you can bring out the apéritifs and the naughty candy tray. Erotic Edibles 1. KISS and MAKE UP - Lingerie & Adult Specialty Boutique.

Just remember...Pepto Bismol is also pink.

* Paraphrasing a Doors song.

** Thanks to Destiny's Child for borrowing from Bootylicious.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

In Your Dreams

I was talking to a girlfriend in Baltimore online tonight, and she told me, "You're never going to believe the conversations that go on in this house." Here's the recap:

Mom (to Dad who is snoozing on the loveseat): George. Give me your glasses. You're going to break them.

Dad (groggily): Why? Now I can see my dreams.

Mom: Fine. I hope you have nightmares then.

Dad: I am living in a nightmare.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mayor In Da Big House
Marion Barry: Life In Prison
A Speculation

May'ah In Da Big House

With former Mayor of Washington, D.C. Marion Barry awaiting a sentencing toward charges of tax evasion, and with the issues of his potential ongoing drug use hanging out there, I thought it might be a good time to speculate on what his life might be like in prison.

Marion Barry's newest quotable could be, "IRS set me UP!!!"

Barry's new prison title could be Mayor for Life Sentence.

His job in the prison could be bookkeeper to the Warden, a la Shawshank Redemption, where he tells the Warden, "If you take out the shankings, prison actually has a very, very low crime rate."


"If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very, very low crime rate." ~~Marion Barry, Ex-Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Supporters of his cause would have a protest song for their rallies: Gimme Tax Shelter.

When Barry is told he'll be busting rock, he gets excited, thinking they mean crack rock.

Instead of chain gang work repairing roads (and potholes), Marion will be working on the new baseball stadium, laying sod. This will give him a chance at redemption to build the city he never built as Mayor.

"I have to admit I didn't do as much as I should have back when I was Mayor, but now we're getting it done...It's not where you've been, but where you're going." ~~ Marion Barry

Marion Barry is 69 years old. Coincidentally, this happens to be his new cellmate's favorite number.

According to the Prison Bitch Name Generator, Ex-Mayor Barry's prison bitch name will be "Tush Taster."


"First, it was not a strip bar, it was an erotic club. And second, what can I say? I'm a night owl." ~~ Marion Barry

...and next, he can be a jail bird.

When Barry was busted on another drug conviction he was quoted as saying "Write what you're going to write. That's all I've got to say. Nothing more, nothing less." He becomes tired of reading others words and takes up writing himself. His first piece is a poem:

I always pay my tax on time,
I did not snort that coke in lines,
I did not commit tax evasion,
I'm never under drug persuasion.


"I am a great Mayor; I am an upstanding Christian man; I am an intelligent man; I am a deeply educated man; I am a humble man." ~~ Marion Barry

His prison number: 69513869. It's meaning?

69: His age
5: The 5 Points Gang which evolved into a drug gang.
13: Unlucky or lucky--you decide.
8: Behind the eight ball.
69: Well....prison, right?

"You think I should seek a Mayoral pardon?"

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

...And You Are....?
How To Really Know
He's Not Into You Anymore

With Valentine's Day rapidly approaching, and so many people out there in the dating community asking, "Does he or she really like me? How is this thing going?" plus the onus of that wonderful book, He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys, I thought, "Well, how do you know if he's no longer into you?" P.S. I think that book is crap, but I digress.

I decided to go to the field and poll some girlfriends on the question of "When did you realize he had lost interest? Just what tipped you off?" The pollsters will remain anonymous. As for the men reading this? I am not naive enough to believe that women don't pull these same stunts, and in the name of fairness, two of the answers came from men. A nice "14" for Valentine's Day.

How To Know He's No Longer Into You

1) He asks you to proofread his profile for Match.com.

2) He moves to England and doesn't tell you.

3) He hides from you online with a screenname he has forgotten you made up for him.

4) You find out his ex-girlfriend has mono, and your guy is showing the symptoms.

5) He asks you to give him a bottle of your perfume, so he can remember your scent, then he gives the perfume to another girl as a Valentine's present.

6) You give him a ring that you owned, to wear around his neck. He mails it back to you, with the stone missing, and suddenly he's engaged, and his new fiancée has an engagement ring with the same stone.

7) The woman he's been cheating on you with calls you to tell you that she's pregnant.

8) He invites you to a party that he is giving, and you go, thinking you are his date. Until you get to the party and meet his real date.

9) He starts signing all of his cards to you "Sincerely" instead of "Love."

10) He asks you if it's okay if he dates your best friend.

11) You're in a restaurant, and he excuses himself to go use the bathroom...and he never comes back.

12) You call your brother's fiancée late one night in tears, not sure how things are going with your boyfriend...and he answers the phone.

13) You come home from college one weekend and go to your boyfriend's house for a surprise visit. He answers the door shirtless, with a hickey on his neck.

14) He changes his phone number and doesn't tell you.

One friend said she wanted this on the list, "He dies," then she added, "Wishful thinking."

Go, Go, Go, Shawty It's Your Birthday
We Gon' Party Like It's Yo Birthday
Happy Birthday Charles Dickens *

Charles Dickens
February 7, 1812-June 9, 1870

Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on February 7, 1812. A prolific writer, he was always working on a new essay, installment or novel. He rarely missed a deadline, and he played a major role in popularizing the serialized novel. A man with a head full of endless plots and characters.

Dickens' Letter & Signature
From the Blotch, It Looks Like
He Dropped Some Of His Espresso Macchiato
When He Wrote It

Right now I am watching Bleak House on PBS, and it's a juggling act to keep the players straight. It's hard to imagine how he did it with a pot of ink and sheets of paper.

The Great Expectations Cocktail

To honor Dickens' birthday, I am offering up a cocktail called Great Expectations. It consists of four raspberries, four blackberries, 1 shot of vodka, 1/2 shot of Chambord raspberry liqueur, and top the drink with champagne (that's the Great Expectations part.)

The White House, Washington, D.C.
Daguerreotype, 1846

Dickens was infamous for giving out raspberries himself, including his remarks on Washington, D.C. when he visited our city in 1842:

Trinity Episcopal Church,
Washington, D.C.

1846 Daguerrotype

"It is sometimes called the City of Magnificent Distances, but it might with greater propriety be termed the City of Magnificent Intentions...Spacious avenues, that begin in nothing and lead nowhere; streets, miles long, that only want houses, roads and inhabitants; public buildings that need but a public to be complete; and ornaments of great thoroughfares, which only lack great thoroughfares to ornament--are its leading features."

United States Capitol -- Daguerreotype, 1846

He wasn't too crazy about the tobacco chewing Senators, either. Their spitting appalled him: "Both houses are handsomely carpeted, but the state to which these carpets are reduced by the universal disregard of the spittoon with which every honorable member is accommodated, and the extraordinary improvements on the pattern which are squirted and dabbled upon it in every direction, do not admit of being described. I will merely observe, that I strongly recommend all strangers not to look at the floor; and if they happen to drop anything...not to pick it up with an ungloved hand on any account."

Charles Dickens Writing Desk

You just know if Dickens was around today, he would be blogging. It was made for him. Back when he first started writing, Dickens wanted a memorable way of identifying the sketches as his. He finally picked a nickname for himself. One of his favorite characters in Oliver Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield was called Moses. Dickens younger brother couldn't pronounce Moses, but rather pronounced it "Bozes," and this was shortened to "Boz." He first used this name in a collection of essays, published in 1833 entitled Sketches by Boz. He was an immediate success. Wouldn't he just love Site Meter? Let's see...what would he call his blog? How about...DC Bozhelor.

"Now, I return to this young fellow.
And the communication
I have got to make is,
that he has great expectations."

* with apologies to 50 Cent for the paraphrasing.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Reya's Poetry Parade

Several weeks ago Reya of Grace's Poppies asked other D.C. bloggers to enter a poem on their blog on February 2nd, then go to her blog and enter a link back, in effect giving us a parade of poems across the internet. Grace's Poppies

At first, I was going to choose a poem from anything I was currently reading, but that would mean George Herbert, a 16th-century metaphysical poet and not that accessible for a general reading population, ditto for Wallace Stevens, and I had already quoted from Dylan Thomas on Reya's blog back in January. The more I thought about this task, and about poetry, I realized that poetry had been in my life since I began reading. I may be a rarity, or this may be more common than I think, but I am in possession of all of the major poetry books that have been in my life, including the anthology that I held in the much tinier hands of my past. It was then that I decided to write about poetry throughout my life.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

In looking through my first book of poems, I realized there were two poems that stood out in their significance. I was surprised to learn that they had both been written by Robert Louis Stevenson. I knew he was the author of the second poem, but I had obviously squashed the memory that he had written the first. I learned the Mother Goose rhymes, as we all did, but the first serious poem I learned was called My Shadow. My mother had set me the task of memorizing it for recitation. I suppose that's one way to get a child out of your hair when you're busy.

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up.
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

I distinctly remember returning to my mother, thinking I had "gotten it," only to have forgotten a bit and having to go back and practice some more. I also remember when I finally had it all and what a sense of accomplishment that was.

Illustration for Windy Nights from my childhood poetry book. For some reason this drawing scared me and thrilled me at the same time

At the end of the anthology, the last poem was also by Stevenson and was called Windy Nights. When I held the book last night, studying the illustration, I remembered how disturbing this image was to me as a child, but my head was already full of Rip Van Winkle and windy, tossed branches. Late nights and horse imagery pop up again in puberty, as you will see:

Whenever the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?

Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highay, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he:
By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again.


A poem that I loved in puberty uses that same imagery of the night traveller. By Walter de la Mare, it was called The Listener. I should add that I was not one of those little girls who fell in love with horses and went cantering around the playground pretending to be one:

"Is anybody there?" said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest's ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:-
"Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Aye, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron and stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

I loved that phrase, "To that voice from the world of men." Typing this just now, "stirred and shaken" jumped out and me. Silly ghostly people. They had James Bond pounding on their door.

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)

By the time I hit 9th Grade, I was reading all sorts of oddball things, including a forgotten poet named Amy Lowell. This was my favorite from her work, and it's called Patterns. You can see I am entering my swooning, romantic years:

I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden paths.

My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my

And the plashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a
marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along
the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-
hilt and the buckles
on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-
booted lover,
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my
body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon--
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider
from the Duke.
"Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord
Died in action Thursday se'nnight."
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
"Any answer, Madam," said my footman.
"No," I told him.
"See that the messenger takes some
No, no answer."
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly
in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broken the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, "It shall be as you have
Now he is dead.

In Summer and Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The pattern garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters,
and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down,
In my gown,
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded
from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

Well. You can see the appeal of that to a young, virginal girl. Somewhere in the following years, my taste matured. I studied the usual things we all did in high school. Beowulf jumps out at me. The Cavalier poets. I know by 12th Grade I was bored stiff with whatever was being taught, and my English teacher, sensing my ennui, gave me special projects to work on, the largest being John Donne. Tackling Donne shut me up until I graduated.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

By the time I hit college, I was all over the place: The Beat Poets. Cool. Let's go to Germany and see what's cooking there. Ireland? Yeats? Sure. The Song of the Wandering Aengus which begins:

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;

I knew all about fires in my head, and I was busy trying to put them out, or at least contain them. I read the Feminist Poets like Anne Sexton. I read my way through Russia: Pasternak, Mayakovsky, Pushkin, Anna Akhmatova. Did I read the Russians? Even their paeans to the tractor factory.

John Keats -- Life Mask

I remember sitting in an early English class, with a professor that I adored, about to tackle the Romantic Poets. After discussing this briefly with the class, he turned to me and said, "Cubie. You are going to fall in love with these men." He was right. I did. My true love became John Keats. Such a hottie...except for that nagging little cough of his. Why was he pouring out his energy on that slut Fanny Brawne when he could have had me?

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflected love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

He died in Rome when he was 26 years old. I studied his life inside and out: read every biography I could get my hands on. I read his letters. Not only did he have a death mask, he had a life mask. The power of youth and good cheekbones. I am sure there are young women out there today, still wishing they had known him.

While I was in college, I studied French for many years, and I "think" around the third year, we started writing lengthy analytical pieces and poetry, in French. I will try and recreate my first effort. I know I have a copy of it at home somewhere, but since I couldn't readily lay my hands on it, this is from memory, and don't fault me on missing accent marks, or wrong tense. I always worked in college. Part-time during semesters, and full-time every summer. One year I ran the language laboratory. My French professor walked by the lab door one night, and she came in and asked what I was working on. "My next assignment for you," I told her. She picked up the poem, and she had a little smile on her face. "This is French haiku," she said. She didn't mean it literally, of course, but I got the drift. She made a minor change in the tense of a word and left. Thank you, Professor Gray, for all that you taught me:

Le grand mur de Chine
Austere, vieux
Touts les pierres lamentent
A tout ce qu'ils sont vu.

There is no truly accurate translation for "vieux" other than it means extremely old. It's one of those words like "gentil" that doesn't really mean gentle or kind, but oh so much more. It's translation?

The Great Wall of China
Austere, Extremely Old
All of the stones weep
At everything they have seen.

Give me a break. I was young. Later, I won the poetry prize in my graduating year, for a interlocking Terza Rima that I wrote. I am not going to repeat it here, because I've burdened you enough with my sophomoric efforts.

Since then, poetry continues to sound in my life. I've enjoyed learning about new poets and their work. Styles come and go. Does anyone read Sara Teasdale anymore? I think I'll throw her out to you since her poem is called February, and there is that missing man, and the wind, and the trees and that silence that beat and repeat throughout my life:

They spoke of him I love
With cruel words and gay;
My lips kept silent guard
On all I could not say.

I heard, and down the street
The lonely trees in the square
Stood in the winter wind
Patient and bare.

I heard...oh voiceless trees
Under the wind, I knew
The eager terrible spring
Hidden in you.

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