Monday, January 19, 2009

Hera hurling Zeus-borrowed bolts

Death dodging in Weehawken this week.

The "Miracle on the Hudson"... !!! What a beautiful thing...

The plane landed around Midtown Manhattan, in the Hudson across from Weehawken, where I live. The plane's pilot, "Sully," grew up in Denison, Texas, where I was born...


In other death-averted news:

My cat Gracie has been sick all week. All of a sudden unable to walk straight. Not eating. She's only 10.

When she was a kid, she used to hunt birds and lizards for me, eating every bit of them except for their hearts, which she would leave on my balcony for me to admire.

When I moved to a small house from the apartment with the balcony, she was a real porch kitty. Sitting there, and to leap from the porch rail up onto the roof in a single bound... That was at least 6 fucking feet! I can't think of any little beast that could ever even dream about doing that!

And then there was the time that I was taking some boxes out to the dumpster that sat catty-cornered across the street from my house... I dumped the boxes off, then started back home... Only to have a maniac-cat leap out at me from a drainage-ditch! SURPRISE! (There was a drain off the street... Gracie had, for some reason, jumped right down into it---hopefully she saw the platform below-ground before she jumped... And she waited on that subterranean platform for me to walk back... When she saw me, she SPRANG!)

Before I moved to NYC, I used to talk to her: "Are you a New York Kitty? You ARE a New York Kitty, I know you are..." In Austin, she'd always been an indoor/outdoor cat, always had her freedom. In moving to New York, there was the scary plane ride, then the first apartment with 6 other cats, several of them vicious; then the second apartment, with the basset hound; then the third apartment, with the manic roommate always trying to grab under my bed for her... She put up with all of it.

It's been peacefully just me and her in this current apartment since last February... I thought she was OK, I thought I had her with me until she was at least 16 or 17... I'd always promised her a ground-floor apartment, where I could let her outside when she wanted...I'd always promised her a little brother for company...

If she dies now... Not Gracie. Not at only 10... She's always been a wild, healthy cat... I keep nuzzling her, saying, "You have got to get to at least 17, honey; please be with me until I'm 50, when I'm old and you're old..."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Solitary Man

Courage (i.e., "the art of losing")

For years now, I've made a living copy-editing literature textbooks for grades 6 through 12. While I've sometimes gotten annoyed with and been dismissive of the pedagogy I have to look at, here are three poems that I came across over the past week at work that made my heart happy, even while making me cry.

I was an English major, and I hardly ever read any more. (Kind of like Mrs. Robinson, the former art major, who tells Benjamin she's not interested in art.) Seeing these poems reminded me of how stunning and heartbreaking poetry can be, how it can strengthen your spirit and give you hope even in (especially in) the face of the utter waste and sadness that life can sometimes be.

I'm so glad someone (some wise and tender spirit) chose these for the kids to be able to read! For all the little "fatties" and "crybabies" and queers out there, the kids who feel "crazy"...

by Anne Sexton

It is in the small things we see it.
The child's first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.

if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
cover your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you'll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you'll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you'll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out.


by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

---Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.


by Naomi Shihab Nye

For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

"How do you know if you are going to die?"
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
"When you can no longer make a fist."

Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Dusty Springfield: How she moves!

I love watching her!

Move Over Darling

When I first heard this song back in Austin, I sat in my living room and played it over and over and over... And made a Doris tape... and then played the song constantly in my car (until I once got stuck at a stoplight with frat boys next to me while Doris warbled "Make love to me" over and over and over...)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A Very Good Year

My Leo horoscope from

Your horoscope - Week of January 5, 2009
This is going to be an excellent year for partnership and romantic issues. Jupiter moves into Aquarius and your partnership zone on Monday, where it will stay until 2010. Despite the issues and problems you've had to deal with in past relationships, you may decide to get married, engaged, or perhaps commit to your lover on a long-term basis this year. You're also going to be doing a lot of socializing and this is going to bring many new friends into your life. You're going to have a lot of fun.

Oh, all this as of Monday, huh? OK, astrocenter! Bring on my ENTIRE YEAR o' bliss! ;0