Pictograph by Melissa Kwasny and I can’t let go of it. Sometimes I carry it in my bag wherever I go, just in case I suddenly need it. You can get it here: Pictograph | Milkweed Editions.
UPDATE: I just realized how similar the book cover is to Walk Like Monsters which I swear is a coincidence because I had not seen this when I chose the picture for WLM.
A new poem ‘in other houses’ appeared in Breakwater Review.
Another new poem ‘Travel and Nothingness’ is in High Desert Journal.
I’ve fallen behind on these updates as usual. This is partly because of Facebook and Instagram and partly because I’ve felt my identity splintering lately.
Update: ‘splintering’ not entirely in an unwelcome way.
Very pleased that my poem Mother Tongue is now up at The Bangalore Review.
The poem appears in my new book Walk Like Monsters.
Some things, I dislike finishing. Dislike is the wrong word. I’m wary of. Finishing is so final—the end of tinkering means the end of power.
I finally finished a crochet toddler blanket, which is to say I wove in the ends. It was really done for weeks but I couldn’t bring myself to ‘finish’. I typically betray/suspend pieces right before they’re complete, so I have a pile-up of crochet pieces in the cupboard with one little thing incomplete. That way, they’re never over. That way, I can still unravel, change, tinker.
I spend a lot of time unraveling things I make and making them again. Crochet is wonderful like that—much like writing, it allows you to endlessly undo, begin again, re-fashion. (I’m not getting into the Freudian definition of undoing, which is different = “a ritualistic effort to undo damage and reduce guilt over some action in the past.” Not sure that’s relevant to crochet but who knows. it’s true I started ‘yarning’ as A calls it, when our dog died. it’s true i felt guilty about his death because i wasn’t with him but it seems like a long shot and I’ll leave it to the therapy couch.)
As long as something is continuous, time feels like a string. When I end something, the air feels hollow.
I do this with books too, the ones I read and the ones I write. Which is probably why I rarely submit individual poems. To submit is to admit I’m done, at least for the moment.
I finished the second proofs of Monsters and Fables, my next book of poems, and sent them to the publisher. The book may be out in a couple of months. That’s the aim anyway. I’m jittery, brittle but heading to a place of indifference which helps me deal. In a few months, I’ll look at this book and feel entirely disconnected from it. I traveled to Los Angeles with no copies of City of Water. Not a single one. My classmates were baffled, probably thought I was lying about having a book out–“you didn’t carry a single copy?” I couldn’t explain it.
So here’s an interesting art project to do with crochet and undoing: Amy Stacey Curtis in Maine made Undoing (2012) by crocheting for an hour everyday, for a whole year. The resulting blanket was 72′ x 9′ and during the installation, viewers were invited to unwind the single string of yarn and place it in a 9′ clear box. By the end of the show, there was no blanket, only yarn. A vast empty space, a glass box, a heap of yarn. From this book: “Every stitch undone was a reversal of Curtis’ time and an eradication of her concerted effort.”
And the other morning in the garden, ladybugs — three or four different pairs — mating on the Pennisetum.
1. From Ross Gay’s poem ‘to the mistake’, which is in his collection catalog of unabashed gratitude.
“I am lecturing on the miracle
of the mistake in
that hiccup or weird
gift that spirals
what’s dull and land-locked
into as yet untraversed i.e. cosmic”
This made me think of wabi sabi. “Wabi sabi embodies the Zen nihilist cosmic view and seeks beauty in the imperfections found as all things, in a constant state of flux, evolve from nothing and devolve back to nothing.” (Andrew Juniper in his book Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence.) I crafted a neat little poem for my second book while thinking of wabi sabi. It was too neat, it talks about letting things go, and making it rough and all that, but it’s precisely laid out with every little word in place. I put it at the beginning of the book because I hope the ones that follow it will do something else, something more.
2. Living between places is antithetical to hoarding. I’m a collector of spices, yarn, books, vintage jars and bottles. I have spices I will never use. I will not finish my stash of yarn before I leave. An immigrant life described not as sunlight or dreams, but as ‘all that yarn I bought and won’t get to use.’ A psychiatrist once told me the mind creates decoys. Faced with something it doesn’t want to face, it creates little fires to put out elsewhere. As the plane leaves LA, my mind will be on the Wool of the Andes worsted. Color: hollyberry.
3. If I was struggling into a notebook, what would I be struggling with? The word seems to be at the surface today. The struggle to swallow down spice. Blood burst in the throat. The struggle to sit.
There are bird sounds. I saw a white butterfly sit on a parsley plant. The parsley is struggling to hold its place because a Broccoli plant, unwise-layed, is also threatening to sit on top of it. As an experiment, I’ve stopped tending the garden. How will things grow in my absence. Just fine, thank you, it says to me. Everything in the garden is going to seed. It’s beautiful.
4. We lost our car in the desert. It broke. We never repaired it–the cost of repairs being more than the cost of the car–we left it there in a garage owned by Rusty whom I never met. We got $100 for it and drove back in a rented orange car. It’s the beginning of this next phase, we said, of learning to let go.
It was just a car. Curiously, I kept thinking of our dog as we drove back. Cars are not pets. Cars are not pets. Yet, that silky black nose. That soft underbelly where the beige fur went all white.
People react differently to a child dying. Some never leave the house where it happened–they believe the child lives there. Others leave the house overnight, bags boiling with grief. After our dog died in LA, I wanted to leave the city. When I had survived the loss, I wanted to stay. Not because he had died here but because there was something in the place that had allowed me to live anyway. By live, I mean enjoy things.
(I’m not saying a dog is like a child.)