Saturday, February 16, 2019

Who is my audience? Who's in the crowd?

Tourists at the foot of Sacre-Coeur surveying the hordes of tourists on the street leading to the foot of Sacre-Coeur.

 No, really:  I'm asking. Yesterday I got a high number of hits and visits. Yippee, said I, and clicked on the audience stats to see who these people were. Almost all the hits were from Moldavia. Um, OK, I said, glad you liked my stuff enough to click through my blog.

The Paris Metro, with the continuous cars of Line 1, 5 pm on a weekday.



Then I looked to see what websites were the sources. A gratifying number were from links at journals where I've had work published, but a disconcerting number were from a free porn site. I don't know quite how that happened. Perhaps it means simply that people are complex, not to say complicated.

The police forces out en masse for a group of teachers, from pre-school through university professors, protesting cuts to education funding. btw, gendarme means "people who are armed" with guns, not simply truncheons.The short couple in the center are about to be taken into custory.

Maybe it simply means that I'm not nearly as narrow/obscure/esoteric as I sometimes feel. Hi-ho.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Values on parade: eavesdropping at the Louvre




Arrows



Back in the day, on our second trip to Paris, we moseyed through the gallery the Louvre docents had given to the Italian Renaissance. Most visitors were not moseying. They were trotting, hustling even, on their way to the room with only one access and no exit that houses La Jaconde, La Giaconda, aka Mona Lisa. We were enjoying the art and lingering, but not everyone felt the same way. One American (Madras shorts, loafers without socks) held forth in the middle of the room, proclaiming that no one really liked Picasso, that his fame was all a scam put forward by a cabal of critics. (As it happened, Walter adored Picasso, so he made some extraordinary faces to keep from laughing out loud.) However, there were also two guys who were thrilled by what they were seeing. They stood for some time before some master's painting of the martyrdom of St. Anthony, namely, the muscular yet lissome saint being riddled with arrows. Then one said to the other, with some exaltation and exhilaration and reverence, "You can't call yourself a man if you don't make Art."

Monday, January 28, 2019

Before it's too late


I have a clutch of poems that I wrote about Walter in his last years and last months. No new ones yet. The widow or widower writing a collection in grief is almost a trope, and I don't know that I'd have anything to add to the canon anyhow. When I write about him again, it will likely be very specific, both as tribute and as bald truth. In the meantime, here is a short poem I wrote after our appointment with the oncologist, the appointment in which he showed us all the scans, told us what they meant, and gave us his estimate of Walter's remaining life.

BLAT 

Not salad, fries, he said,
and the BLT,
on white, toasted, extra mayo,
and make it a BLAT
and I’ll take a Coke
and why not?
for he’d no need now
to stave off pleasure
to save up for old age
having reached eighty-nine
and just left the oncologist’s office
where they told us
about the metastases
and the nodes
and the mass.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

I love you, goodbye, I love you





My beloved husband of 35 years, Walter Maya, died on December 16 of lung cancer. He died at home on hospice, free of needles or tubes or any of the futile torments to keep him 'alive' without the capacity to live. His death leaves a vast emptiness in my life, the more so as I had spent most of the last three years taking him to medical appointments, helping him manage activities that he had previously performed independently, taking over all the running of the household and of our lives, and generally loving and reassuring him that I did not love him less as I cared for him more. He was--he was flat-out wonderful, a man of integrity, passion, and wit, with a sly sense of the ridiculous and a love of beauty that extended far beyond his field, organic chemistry. He was my soulmate and companion and dearest friend. (Not incidentally, he was also gorgeous!) I never met anyone else like him, and I doubt I will again. Goodbye, dear love. Goodbye.

The thing is, during his last four months, I essentially stopped writing. I couldn't encompass processing what I was living into poetry. Revision seemed trivial, submitting poems even more so.  I don't yet have time--not really--not with a memorial service and the godforsaken holidays and the notifications and all. Yet somehow, some energy has been freed up. I don't have poems yet, but I do have writing:  fragments, ideas, metaphors. I haven't worked on any of it yet, but I'm making notes. We'll see what comes.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Getting to be a slog...






...though not in a bad way, if I can say that. It's not only that my verse seems barren of new pride, and that I'm saying to myself, "Also not a poem!" but also that I'm saying "So what?" Apparently, so are others in my cohort. They're feeling drained. A lot of the posts on the web site are about having nothing to say. Oh, I hear you. (Go to  https://www.tupelopress.org/the-3030-project/ if you want to see what I mean.) People are digging deep, into old matters, casting wide to snag something out of their day-to-day, even flailing a bit (who, me?). Though yesterday I did write quite a lengthy poem about strategies writers use to call up inspiration. Shannon Winward, are you listening???? Meta enough for ya?


As in this photo, where you glimpse the promised golden land, I do believe I will get there.