Friday, February 28, 2014

A SYSTEM OF SLOW

What fools these mortals be to plan ... or some such thing like that (yes, I know it is actually about love). Although I don't sleep really late, generally up and downstairs drinking coffee by 8:30 or so, I am trying to get up a bit earlier (preparing to re-enter the workforce for reals?).

Okay, it's an hour later and I am still trying to get mail to work on my iPhone. Life in the modern world. So much for getting a productive start on the day. So much for meditation and deep thoughts. So much for answering thoughtful emails. Welcome to frustration and wheel-spinning.

I'm kidding a little bit, but that damn kitchen clock is tocking away. BTW, just between us, I so hate autocorrect. It is the bane of the creative writer. I know the difference between tocking and rocking.


Okay. Back to some reality here. It's now almost 10:00 and other than honey, coffee, and morning protein, as well as another exercise in technology frustration and yelling at Emmylou to get off the table, I have accomplished little. 

But, I will stop to admire the sun shining through a young geranium leaf. 



I really want another cup of coffee as it tasted great this morning, but I am already agitated enough, so it likely would not be a good idea. I took down the kitchen clock for the moment, as that tocking was just driving me depressed.

Later again. Still having a challenge to get real work done or even this finished. But, I did use my procrastination time to practice my "two-minute chore" completion by emptying litter box, trash, sweeping kitchen, taking meds, and brewing a cup of chamomile tea to see if that centered me. 


Someone is clearly "carpe-diem"-ing.

A couple of days ago, I wrote something about trying to be more disciplined. This has always been a bit of an issue with me, but I think it had more to do with ADHD or confused/over-commitment than anything else. My Dreamfarm girl sent me this in response, 

"Some feel that fear is okay as a lifestyle because they’ve heard that the meek shall inherit the earth. So they can go on with being meek as a way of life. They become soft-spoken and compliant, never standing for themselves; always resigned to being a fluffy doormat. But scholars now say that in the scriptural texts that were translated from the Greek, the word praos doesn’t exactly mean “meek” as people have always thought. In fact, it is more accurate to say it means “disciplined.” A very big difference in those translations. It’s much more encouraging to now realize that the disciplined shall inherit the earth."


~ Steve Chandler


which is interesting even if you don't care about Scripture.

Okay, still here and still trying to get this finished and posted and now it is noon.

I think I will give it up for the day and move on after I share today's Poem-of-the-Day which was/is excellent.


The Barnacle and the Gray Whale


by Cecilia Llompart
 
  
Said the Barnacle,

You enchant me, with your carnival
of force.

Yours is a system of slow.

There is you, the pulley
and there is you, the weight.

Your eyes wide on a hymn.

Your deep song like the turn
of that first,

that earliest of wheels.



Said the Whale,

I have seen you, little encruster,
in that business of fouling the ships.

Known, little drum machine, you
to tease out food from the drink.

Little thimble of chalk and hard water.


You could be a callus of whiter skin.

You could be a knucklebone. You
who hang on me,

like a conscience.







Happy birthday, dear MOZ!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A SCIENCE OF MOTION

The snow hasn't melted all the way, but missing items like the blown-off trash can lid emerged. The dead brown grass is viewable in wide swaths and most of the sidewalk is traversable except for the occasional pile of dirty snow, still resisting. I've managed to get in a little walking the last couple of days, but now it is lightly snowing again. Perhaps it will dry out enough for a walk to the post office this afternoon.

I have not been in the writing head, the writing groove. I haven't been hearing my own narrative in my head. (Could that be because of the books I've been listening to?) And, I have been trying to refocus the way I do "work" and some life things, part of that slow down/move forward mantra. And I do need focus and discipline. 

I have found it useful to not get too ambitious with changing habits. I might have mentioned this earlier in the year, but B1 sent me a list of ways to keep things more organized, less cluttered. The one I have really been working on is to do immediately what can be done in five minutes or less. I find myself wanting to put off doing the few dishes in the sink, or cleaning the litter box because I want to read or get back to watching something or whatever else I might be doing that is more pleasurable. Then a little mental bell goes off reminding me of that statement, and I am almost always able to focus on the task at hand and delaying that "gratification" or urge. 

In other news, or whatever, I have had two great dreams about work! I haven't this positive in about five years about being in the workplace. When I browse thrift stores, I think about what I could wear to work instead of what I am going to lounge or cook or work around the house in.

And, although I still wake up fairly frequently during the night, I am using few sleeping aids and not waking up so blue, so hopeless.

So there you go. I am still not full of crackling creative energy and great ideas, and I still haven't gotten my printer to work (although I did make some progress) but feeling a bit more hopeful.

I very much liked this poem which arrived in my in-box this morning:

Costumes Exchanging Glances  
by Mary Jo Bang


The rhinestone lights blink off and on.
Pretend stars.
I'm sick of explanations. A life is like Russell said
of electricity, not a thing but the way things behave.
A science of motion toward some flat surface,
some heat, some cold. Some light
can leave some after-image but it doesn't last.
Isn't that what they say? That and that

historical events exchange glances with nothingness. 

Now, that I think of it, Poetry Magazine was in my dream last night, too. I loved subscribing to it. The letters from readers were so passionate and well-written. When I sold my books and moved out of Park Slope, I kept all my back issues of Poetry. I look forward to being reunited with them.

Poor Cooder. Emmylou is the Princess of Enthusiasm and keeps ambushing Her Quiet Blind Self. Some lap time has become de rigueur though and that is nice.



Friday, February 21, 2014

THE SHELTERED BOAT IS SAFE

Cooder soaking up some rays.
Just getting y'all caught up on the Sallyworld.

All in all, I am pretty good. My mood and outlook have improved substantially, although, of course, there is always the fear that the pit is just steps away. The more productive attitude has continued for the better part of a week now. Oddly, I am not being as actually productive as I need to be, my "to do" list being quite substantial.

My sleep has been better, though I still wake up during the night. I haven't taken much in the way of sleeping medication all week, and when I have woken up, I can "see" the fear and mantra of disaster on the horizon of my barely-conscious consciousness, I have more acknowledged than embraced those feelings. 

Cooder and Emmylou have been programmed to drive me crazy today for some reason. There is no end to their BOTH wanting greenies, attention, and other food ALL DAY. They've swarmed me on the kitchen table, followed me upstairs to my desk where they circle and linger like sentries from a boys' gang or something. Emmy is back to scratching on the basement door, although she has been down there about 200 times today. Am I missing something? Cooder has apparently been appeased by having some "people" canned tuna and is napping in one of her usual places.

And how did it get to be nearly 10:00? So much for getting some "work" done tonight. 

I "tore through" the audio book of Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings, although in retrospect, I am not convinced it was time well-spent. I started listening to Jeffrey Eugenides' The Marriage Plot, which at this point, three discs in, seems asinine, and remarkably shallow. For all of my better mood, I don't seem to be able to concentrate and properly read much. 

It's always challenging to be contemplative in the kitchen where the big noisy clock clearly ticks off seconds of your life. The kitchen table is just at a better level than the desk for some kinds of work. (Emmy is now playing hockey with a beer bottle top.)

So, my current task might be to refine my attention-paying skills. This is related to, I think, the slow down-move forward resolution of the year. I am out of honey for my morning meditative drink. Twice in the last 24 hours I have gone out to buy more, assiduously picked up containers and placed them in my basket and twice they have not made it through the checkout and into my bags. How strange is that? At Trader Joe's, I generally have my own bags and focus on getting my shopping items arranged so the line behind me keeps moving, but I must admit I was pretty ticked today when the gal somehow missed it in my basket. Fortunately, on neither occasion was I charged but I still have to go out and drive over to the store which is not particularly close. It seems odd or prophetic or something that honey, my morning meditation aid and the actual purpose of my shopping expedition, is the one thing I was not able to secure. I stopped paying attention to it as soon as it went into the basket. 

The weather and my schedule have not conspired to have me exercise enough and I feel I am not paying as much attention to my food regime as I should. I haven't been cooking but mostly snacking and eating leftovers. On the positive side, alcohol and over-indulgence in utter crap have not been problems either.

Okay. I hope to write more substantively in the days to come, but I rather thought to start somewhere.

HAUL YOUR PAPER BOATS

Haul your paper boats
to the parched shore, and then to sleep,
little commodore; may you never hear
swarms of evil spirits putting in.

The owl flits in the walled orchard,
a pall of smoke lies heavy on the roof.
The moment that spoils months of labor is here:
now the secret crack, now the ravaging gust.

The crack widens, unheard perhaps.
The builder hears his sentence passed.
Now only the sheltered boat is safe.
Beach your fleet, secure it in the brush.

— William Arrowsmith

Monday, February 17, 2014

AS GHOST, DOUBLE

I was up before John and Melinda this morning. John wasn't feeling well and Mel had had a grueling few days at the salon (Parlour) with a lot of electrical problems caused by the snow. Being in Brooklyn, made me pleased I am sitting out a lot of the mess here in relative reasonable-ness. Cars are iced in, snow is mounded high, sidewalks are very slippery. Having slept relatively well, I puttered around with Tupelo until the rest of the world was awake.

Brooklyn is expected to get hammered a bit again. Kids are getting in lots of sledding this year, and the boots are getting a real workout. My California peeps can't quite believe that I don't mind, but it is still interesting to me. And I have had enough coaching to not get stuck in bad or dangerous situations, except for maybe the bumper thumper a few weeks back. 

I'm holding off on the last two episodes of Season Two of House of Cards, which I think shows some restraint. I have things to do tomorrow before I head back to Brooklyn in the afternoon, after the snow stops and the sun comes out. There was certainly no sign of snow today as the skies were clear and cloudless blue, but very cold.

Well, not a lot to report clearly. Had a long Skype with C&J the other day and am still thinking about some of the things discussed, although I will own that I cried so much the floor was damp (or so it seemed to me). I will likely have to chat again as I am not entirely sure what I even said. 

As I was inventorying (Is that a verb?) prior to our chat, I stumbled upon the realization that one of the things that had contributed to my visit to bummerland was the whole Woody Allen debacle. And it is not my point here to opine or judge, other than to say I have loathed him since the egregious Manhattan. As those who are subject to my feminist mailing list know, I followed this story for awhile. And as I sat down to write to C&J about my current emotional/spiritual state, I recalled this article from the New Yorker that was particularly resonant for me: 

The complexity and frequent pain of family life can be difficult to understand even for members of a family, who were there. How much more opaque must it remain for people outside the household, who can’t see what goes inside? When we ask how we can ever know what happened, we are, to some extent, repeating an old-fashioned cliché: “It’s not our business.” On this point, some crucial sentences by the feminist academic Phyllis Rose come to mind, from her 1983 book “Parallel Lives,” a history of five intense, often bizarre, sexually complex marriages. Rose explains, in the introduction, why a history of the private lives of five families in the nineteenth century is really a book about politics:
On the basis of family life, we form our expectations about power and powerlessness, about authority and obedience in other spheres, and in that sense the family is, as has so often been insisted, the building block of society….
We tend to talk about other people’s marriages and to disparage our own talk as gossip. But gossip may be the beginning of moral inquiry, the low end of the platonic ladder which leads to self-understanding. If marriage is a political experience, then discussion of it ought to be taken as seriously as talk about national elections.
The Farrow-Allen story, powered by fame, raises the question of which cases of alleged sexual assault the public thinks are matters of general concern, and which it thinks are not. This case may be highly idiosyncratic, legally dense, and emotionally traumatic—but any case involving accusations within a family, if the details were aired, would seem head-breakingly complicated and particular. The re-opening of the Allen-Farrow case in the court of public opinion has yielded an accidental by-product: it has brought to light questions, normally suppressed, about childhood memories and how they’re formed, unconventional family arrangements, how to regard testimony of abuse that comes many years after the fact, how often or infrequently false accusations happen, and the different standards for physical closeness in different families.
These things are difficult to talk about, which is why they are worth talking about. While taking seriously that we don’t know all the facts—that this public discussion must be traumatic for Dylan Farrow and could utterly, and possibly unfairly, ruin Allen’s reputation—our talking about it, with sensitivity and care and journalistic rigor, is not simply prurient. It reinforces Phyllis Rose’s insight that the mysteries of family life are where politics begin. We shouldn’t look away from those mysteries.


That Phyllis Rose book is quite good. I read it when it came out and my copy is still on my meager bookshelf in Brewster.

There was another article in amongst those I sent about how other family members respond or remember those situations. As the only girl in the family, I don't think my perspective was much taken into account. And I FELT silenced and confused. And some of the confusion leaves trace elements to this day. 

I'm pretty sure that childhood, too, is a political experience. I can say that my self-understanding has been a damn difficult campaign. The results are not yet in.

Slightly apropos:

NAMES

Once they were sticks and stones
I feared would break my bones.
Four Eyes. And worse.
Old Four Eyes fled
to safety in danger zones
Tom Swift and Kubla Khan traversed.

When my fourth decade came,
I learned my name was not my name.
I felt deserted, mocked
Why had the old ones lied?
No matter. They were dead.

And the name on the books was dead,
like the life my mother had fled,
like the life I might have known.

You don't exist — a least
not legally, the lawyer said.
As ghost, double, alter ego then?

— Robert Hayden, his copyright, 1978

Happy birthday, CB!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

WE MAKE OUR MEEK ADJUSTMENTS

Continuing on from yesterday ...

Although I like Chaplin, and number his autobiography (highly highly recommended) among my favorite life-read books, I have always been firmly in the Buster Keaton camp when it comes to "clowns of the silent cinema" (ugh). Just fyi, a couple of his best, or rather, my favorites, The General and The Seven Chances are available on You Tube. (I wonder if they, those inventors of You Tube, now regret that unfortunate name.)

It's another Saturday. The birds are chirping out there on the melting tundra and I can't say as I have noticed them in the last week. I think we are in for more snow, but not too much. The kitties are apparently sleeping in, as no one is importuning me as I re-orient myself to standard life.

Was the Hart Crane poem too hackneyed and sentimental? I had not read any and found him to be much more "modern" than I had anticipated. I must have been confusing him with that other Crane, Stephen. I never liked The Red-Badge of Courage and could never really see all that much merit in it. 

So you see, I am rambling here, not having had benefit of coffee, merely some hot water with honey. That should be remedied.

Later. A snowy/rainy mix out there tonight. Tomorrow morning, I will go to Brooklyn for the day. I spent more of the day with my demons and issues, but to good, not negative, effect. Coming up with some new strands of understanding. Probably a good time for some peppermint or camomile tea and soft music before bed.


Friday, February 14, 2014

RANDOM CONSOLATIONS

Mary's amaryllis.
Saturday again, and, although cold, not wet. I haven't been able to get in a good walk all week. Louise and I started our writing sessions early (-ish) and they continued for most of the rest of the day with only short breaks for food and rest. So, although, (again), I would vastly prefer a nice afternoon nap, I am preparing to walk.

I've been very very down. I cannot attribute this to alcohol as my intake is limited to a beer a day (with Jeopardy). I suppose the Gummy Life Savers I succumbed to yesterday might contribute to my system of a down today, but otherwise, I have been more or less moderate. We will see if the lack of exercise is a contributing factor. And perhaps I will find something to photograph in my peregrination. It will be short as I do need to sleep before another screenwriting seminar at 3:00.

Reporting post walk-experiment: yes, it did help. I grow fonder and fonder of walking. Once I get off of the busy street and into the neighborhood again, it is pretty quiet. And there are enough different streets to change my route, though the houses and architecture are fairly uniform. Now for a twenty minute nap before the seminar.

Almost a week later.

I came down with some kind of cold or sinus infection on Monday, shortly after I arrived in Brooklyn to catsit the fabulous-tailed Nightshade and to, ostensibly, lurk around the hotel lobby where Kidscreen was taking place. I wasn't well enough to go and then the weather threatened to be very bad, so I took my leave and headed back to Long Island.

The place I was cat sitting was very much to my taste, complete with a big claw-foot bathtub which I availed myself several times during my short stay. 








I thought to find a poem as I don't have much to say for myself at the moment. I went upstairs to look for a collection, as I thought I had sprung enough Billy Collins on you for awhile. To my surprise, I had only the volume I spirited away from my deceased brother's library, The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. My other volumes of poetry are in the garage and I didn't really want to dress and trek through the snow to retrieve them. Without much ado, I fell upon this Hart Crane poem. I really know (or knew, I did read the little introduction) very little about Mr. Crane. This poem came as a nice surprise given its cinematic and feline connections.

CHAPLINESQUE

We make our meek adjustments,
Contented with such random consolations

As the wind deposits
In slithered and too ample pockets.

For we can still love the world, who find
A famished kitten on the step, and know
Recesses for it from the fury of the street,
Or warm torn elbow coverts.

We will sidestep, and to the final smirk
Dally the doom of that inevitable thumb
That slowly chafes its puckered index toward us,
Facing the dull squint with what innocence
And what surprise!

And yet these fine collapses are not lies
More than the pirouettes of any pliant cane;

Our obsequies are, in a way, no enterprise.
We can evade you, and all else but the heart:
What blame to us if the heart live on.

The game enforces smirks; but we have seen
The moon in lonely alleys make
A grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
And through all sound of gaiety and quest
Have heard a kitten in the wilderness.

— Hart Crane

Here's what he had to say about this (in a letter to William Wright, 10/17/1921):

"As you did not 'get' my idiom in 'Chaplinesque,' I feel rather like doing my best to explain myself. I am moved to put Chaplin with the poets (of today); hence the 'we.' In other words, he, especially in The Kid, made me feel myself as a poet, as being 'in the same boat' with him. Poetry, the human feelings, 'the kitten,' is so crowded out of the humdrum, rushing, mechanical scramble of today that the man who would preserve them must duck and camouflage for dear life to keep them or keep himself from annihilation. I have since learned that I am by no means alone in seeing these things in the buffooneries  of the tragedian, Chaplin . . .  and in the poem I have tried to express these 'social sympathies' in words corresponding somewhat to the antics of the actor."

Cooder and Emmylou are much more than random consolations as Cooder now scratches at my leg, wanting I-am-sure-you-know-what ...




Thursday, February 6, 2014

WHERE IS MY TESTING TREE?

Still not a lot to say, but several folks expressed pleasure at receiving a post, so I thought to oblige them (you?) again, as best I could.

Louise and I have been working on the script very intensively. After two or three hours pounding on that, I am a bit intellectually exhausted. I don't have those kind of writing muscles built up yet, I guess. But very good progress so all involved are pleased. Besides working on the actual project, I did research and note-taking on script writing, in general, and my head is fairly a-buzz. That same head leans toward a pile of pillows not too many feet away.

I watched another PBS documentary, though I watched it on Netflix. This one, again highly recommended, Primetime in America, was particularly interesting to me at this time, as I think about the amount of time I spend thinking about film and tv. The last episode had a lot of resonance for our screenplay … and some for my life as well. The fourth episode was on the archetype of The Crusader. 

One of the talking heads quoted a Stanley Kunitz poem, "… In a murderous time the heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking …"  Hmmm … the heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking … I certainly know about the heart breaking and breaking, not so sure about the "lives by breaking" but it is something to ponder.




So, in lieu of having too much to say, I thought I'd share the whole poem, which is, of course, a good one.


The Testing-Tree

  by Stanley Kunitz


1
On my way home from school
   up tribal Providence Hill
      past the Academy ballpark
where I could never hope to play
   I scuffed in the drainage ditch
      among the sodden seethe of leaves
hunting for perfect stones
   rolled out of glacial time
      into my pitcher's hand;
then sprinted lickety-
   split on my magic Keds
      from a crouching start,
scarcely touching the ground
   with my flying skin
      as I poured it on
for the prize of the mastery
   over that stretch of road,
      with no one no where to deny
when I flung myself down
   that on the given course
      I was the world's fastest human.

2
Around the bend
   that tried to loop me home
      dawdling came natural
across a nettled field
   riddled with rabbit-life
      where the bees sank sugar-wells
in the trunks of the maples
   and a stringy old lilac
      more than two stories tall
blazing with mildew
   remembered a door in the 
      long teeth of the woods.
All of it happened slow:
   brushing the stickseed off,
      wading through jewelweed
strangled by angel's hair,
   spotting the print of the deer
      and the red fox's scats.
Once I owned the key
   to an umbrageous trail
      thickened with mosses
where flickering presences
   gave me right of passage
      as I followed in the steps
of straight-backed Massassoit
   soundlessly heel-and-toe
      practicing my Indian walk.

3
Past the abandoned quarry
   where the pale sun bobbed
      in the sump of the granite,
past copperhead ledge,
   where the ferns gave foothold,
      I walked, deliberate,
on to the clearing,
   with the stones in my pocket
      changing to oracles
and my coiled ear tuned
   to the slightest leaf-stir.
      I had kept my appointment.
There I stood in the shadow,
   at fifty measured paces,
      of the inexhaustible oak,
tyrant and target,
   Jehovah of acorns,
      watchtower of the thunders,
that locked King Philip's War
   in its annulated core
      under the cut of my name.
Father wherever you are
    I have only three throws
       bless my good right arm.
In the haze of afternoon,
   while the air flowed saffron,
      I played my game for keeps--
for love, for poetry,
   and for eternal life--
      after the trials of summer.
4
In the recurring dream
   my mother stands
      in her bridal gown
under the burning lilac,
   with Bernard Shaw and Bertie
      Russell kissing her hands;
the house behind her is in ruins;
   she is wearing an owl's face
      and makes barking noises.
Her minatory finger points.
   I pass through the cardboard doorway
      askew in the field
and peer down a well
   where an albino walrus huffs.
      He has the gentlest eyes.
If the dirt keeps sifting in,
   staining the water yellow,
      why should I be blamed?
Never try to explain.
   That single Model A
      sputtering up the grade
unfurled a highway behind
   where the tanks maneuver,
      revolving their turrets.
In a murderous time
   the heart breaks and breaks
      and lives by breaking.
It is necessary to go
   through dark and deeper dark
      and not to turn.
I am looking for the trail.
   Where is my testing-tree?
      Give me back my stones!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

WHO HAS LEFT A SHAPE?

Oh, where to begin when you've already begun? 
Natural grace.

Instead of watching something on Netflix or The American Experience while I do my curatorial gig, I opted for listening to music. I have almost 31,000 tracks in my iTunes library and it's a good bet that I don't listen to quite a few of them very often. Here's where Shuffle is fun as so much of what I end up hearing is fresh. Actually, there's a new app for Spotify if that's how you listen. Forgotify. For the music obsessives among us.

John has been here all week, with some illness that is somewhat flu-like. He's been sleeping a lot (still down I think, at 11:50). It's been nice to have company in the house. 

Well, that was probably Saturday. John got well and went back to Brooklyn. I went with him and celebrated his birthday on Sunday. I came back on Monday to fun with snow. We really weren't anticipating that much. My car was hard to find in the huge parking lot at the train station, but I managed with reasonable rapidity. I had a scraper to clean the car, but no shovel to dig out. I tried just driving but got stuck. Fortunately, a fellow nearby had a shovel and kindly dug me out and gave me proper directions for driving in this much snow. I made it home, visited the kitties, and then dug myself out again as I had to run over to Best Buy to buy a power cord for my laptop; I had left it in Brooklyn and really couldn't do without it for a week.

View from the train.
Since I've been back for a couple of days, the main activity has been working on Monsterwood. Louise and I had both taken a couple of free classes from Screenwriting U and found them to be very useful. So, we've torn apart the whole script and are putting it back together again. We've spent hours on Skype. 

C&J wondered if I had run out of words as I hadn't posted anything here in awhile. I haven't run out of words, but I also haven't been sure there was much for me to say, (not that that has stopped me before.) Maybe I am shifting focus or questioning what I put time into or what you are putting your time into when you read this. 

My mental and emotional states are nothing to write home about … or really write about here, either. Not a lot has changed except I am spending more time working on Monsterwood for the last two weeks.

Today was my mom's 87th birthday! She is still out there plugging along. Her health is pretty good, she got a new car, a renewed driver's license, and is learning to use her iPhone and her iPad although learning Chinese might be easier for her. 

Pete Seeger died, as you all know, and then Philip Seymour Hoffman. I came across this Billy Collins poem in the last couple of weeks.

OBITUARIES

These are no pages for the young,
who are better off in one another's arms,

nor for those who just need to know
about the price of gold,
or a hurricane that is ripping up the Keys.

But eventually you may join
the crowd who turn here first to see
who has fallen in the night,
who has left a shape of air walking in their place.

Here is where the final cards are shown,
the age, the cause, the plaque of deeds,
and sometimes an odd scrap of news—
that she collected sugar bowls,
that he played solitaire without any clothes.

And all the survivors huddle at the end
under the roof of a paragraph
as if they had sidestepped the flame of death.

What better way to place a thin black frame
around the things of the morning—
the hand-painted cup,

the hemisphere of a cut orange,
the slant of sunlight on a table?

And sometimes a most peculiar pair turns up,
strange roommates lying there
side by side upon the page—
Arthur Godfrey next to Man Ray,
Ken Kesey by the side of Dale Evans.

It is enough to bring to mind an ark of death,
not the couples of the animal kingdom,
but rather pairs of men and women
ascending the gangplank two by two,

a surgeon and a model,
a balloonist and a metal worker,
an archeologist and an authority on pain.

Arm-in-arm, they get on board
then join the others leaning on the rails,
all saved at last from the awful flood of life—

so many of them every day
there would have to be many arks,
an armada to ferry the dead
over the heavy waters that roll beyond the world,

and many Noahs too,
bearded and fiercely browed, vigilant up there at every prow.