Sunday, June 28, 2009

Or The Things We Liked at the Seattle Art Museum

We were talking, explaining the day: the art museum, the small nosed woman writer.
Talking in level tones about poorly spoken questions,
Andrew Wyeth and his Japanese browns and greens,
writing heart truth and creative facts,
when the lesson in how to build a stone wall happened along.

Why are you so mad? I ask.
The ferry rolls as the Sound pushes in on the lights of Bainbridge Island.
When I say aboriginal it means pulsing auras in weird colors baking under the burning December sun.
Not women weaving baskets away from the prying glances of missionary men hacking totem poles into firewood between grunts, as missionary’s daughters think.
It doesn’t matter and it’s all the same British empire,
But I still must push my point of view: you’re the provincial and I’m the smarty pants.

Of course I’m captive to your moods, and like Philip Lopate I try to gentle you out of them.
He says this is done out of laziness: “it saves me the trouble of having to initiate emotions on my own.”
In my bones I am a laconic Amishman avoiding conflict, building the peace through avoidance.
So I say I also liked the bulging suits made out of thrift store sweaters
and you smile and start to meet my eyes again
to rescue a perfect day from my heavy elbows.

The fat girls of Bremerton say loudly that it is against the Amish religion for Amish people to use soap.
We smile down at the floor between us
for no reason since these girls have no knowledge of anything other than their own cheap fatness.
I think Philip Lopate is right about the laziness of placation.
but sometimes your moods point to my own unapologetic thickness
my lack of graciousness and true humour.
I give you my shirt as we walk off the boat together into the shivering cold of the rest of our lives.

Andrew Wyeth. Aboriginal Art. Space Suit made of thrift store sweaters by Nick Cage. Seattle Ferry by Hillary H.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mostly by Dallas
Of tall little boys, dapper mennonites, becoming good ol boys in Chattanooga, and how we look at them, so bright and shiny armed with knives and chock full of new powers.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Victoria, British Columbia

Last weekend we crossed the Strait of Juan de Fuca under low clouds with a sharp eye for whales. Only 3 or 4 showed us their breath and none of them were too close. J and I went to Victoria hoping to break out of a bad case of active boredom and headaches or the monotony of social planning: where to live, what to eat, what movie to watch, how to fight off the crush of domestic banality. Unaccustomed to spending money, Victoria turned out to be a pretty but uninteresting town for us: tightfisted edgy weekenders. There was much ado about the culture and architecture of the British Empire: high tea, steep roofed hotels. We were saved only by the street performances, the coffee shops, the spongy lawns and park benches which were good for heated discussions and sprawled out reading, and the lacerating wind on the ferry ride back home.

Monday, June 08, 2009


I left the ring of trees only to swim across the lake.
After a few days of watching the sun,
thinking about nothing in particular,
everything in general,
I started to guess at the birds that called.
It feels good to string food from a tree that has claw marks in it.
A doctor’s son feels proud to make a fire for comfort
and listen to the coyotes howl to each other like it’s music.

I decided that rather than despair at the meaning of existence,
look for wonder on the far side of tragedy;
cast my dice for infatuation on the other side of boredom,
hope for new worlds beyond this one.
This is the risk, this is the shuffle:

Reading existentialism for the past few months has forced me
Awkwardly, to slink into this position:
Bald eagles gliding over glassy lakes make a spot feel right.
Also, bullfrogs and raccoons are fine company at night.
No need to wait to be dissatisfied to start in a new direction,
but being unhappy (tragedy, what else?) does make action appealing.
Re-action even more so;
So, start from burning joy.

The sky was forty shades of blue where the trees met the water
and our sun slowly fragmented.