Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bram Stoker Says . . .

My Friend -- Welcome to the Carpathians. I am anxiously expecting you. Sleep well tonight. At three tomorrow the diligence will start for Bukovina; a place on it is kept for you. At the Borgo Pass my carriage will await you and will bring you to me. I trust that your journey from London has been a happy one, and that you will enjoy your stay in my beautiful land. Your friend, Dracula 

4 May -- I found that my landlord had got a letter from the count, directing him to secure the best place on the coach for me; but on making enquiries as to details he seemed somewhat reticent, and pretended that he could not understand my German. This could not be true, because up to then he had understood it perfectly; at least, he answered my questions exactly as if he did. He and his wife, the old lady who had received me, looked at each other in a frightened sort of way. He mumbled out that the money had been sent in a letter, and that was all he knew. When I asked him if he knew Count Dracula, and could tell me anything of his castle, both he and his wife crossed themselves, and saying that they knew nothing at all, simply refused to speak further. It was so near the time of starting that I had no time to ask anyone else, for it was all very mysterious and not by any means comforting.

 Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1897

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Last Great American Whale

They say he didn't have an enemy
his was a greatness to behold
He was the last surviving progeny
the last one on this side of the world

He measured a half mile from tip to tail
silver and black with powerful fins
They say he could split a mountain in two
that's how we got the Grand Canyon

Last great American whale
last great American whale
Last great American whale
last great American whale

Some say they saw him at the Great Lakes
some say they saw him off of Florida
My mother said she saw him in Chinatown
but you can't always trust your mother

Off the Carolinas the sun shines brightly in the day
the lighthouse glows ghostly there at night
The chief of a local tribe had killed a racist mayor's son
and he'd been on death row since 1958

The mayor's kid was a rowdy pig
spit on Indians and lots worse
The old chief buried a hatchet in his head
life compared to death for him seemed worse

The tribal brothers gathered in the lighthouse to sing
and tried to conjure up a storm or rain
The harbor parted, the great whale sprang full up
and caused a hugh tidal wave

The wave crushed the jail and freed the chief
the tribe let out a roar
The whites were drowned, the browns and reds set free
but sadly one thing more

Some local yokel member of the NRA
kept a bazooka in his living room
And thinking he had the chief in his sight
blew the whale's brains out with a lead harpoon

Last great American whale
last great American whale
Last great American whale
last great American whale

Well Americans don't care for much of anything
land and water the least
And animal life is low on the totem pole
with human life not worth more than infected yeast

Americans don't care too much for beauty
they'll shit in a river, dump battery acid in a stream
They'll watch dead rats wash up on the beach
and complain if they can't swim

They say things are done for the majority
don't believe half of what you see and none of what you hear
It's like what my painter friend Donald said to me
"Stick a fork in their ass and turn them over, they're done"


The Knowledge of Cows

From today's NY Daily News
A statue is seen among homes devastated by fire
 and the effects of Hurricane Sandy in the Breezy Point section 
of the Queens borough of New York October 30, 2012. 
(photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
Here in Hillsborough, it's grey, and windy, and cold, oh so cold. The world has gotten very cold, seems like, just over night. I left work this afternoon and drove straight for my horse to find him happy in his green windbreaker on a grassy hill, the wind whipping his mane, his copper colored coat like fire at the end of the day. It was good to see him, and give him his supper and feel somewhat normal even though things are not normal since the hurricane came on land last night, I feel like she changed everything, the game is completely different now. 
Driving home, I stopped at the intersection of Hwy. 57 and the cow farm road I cut through on every day, and a handsome Mexican wheeled around me in his diesel pickup pulling a wooden-slatted trailer loaded with two cows and a calf who couldn't have been more than a couple days old. The calf skidded on the floor boards as the trailer went this way and that way and almost went down, but he righted himself on his mother's hip. This made me mad. And then I pulled out onto Hwy. 57 and a white faced caramel mother cow was standing with her back to the winds that were still blowing even though Hurricane Sandy is a good 700 miles away now, and she was licking the face of her calf, also white faced and caramel and spindly and I wished I was her, I wished I had only the knowledge of cows, and nothing else.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

the waiter . . .

the waiter who wore glasses
in the german restaurant
took my plate away
dropped the tray
in the doorway
and apologized
three times
for the lost duck

reading . . .

reading the poems
of Leonard Cohen
in the bath
is almost
as good

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gardening At Night

Benjamin E. Lee sits in the garden at night. It’s July and it’s been over a hundred and six degrees every day for more than a week now. The old air conditioner in his wife’s bedroom broke down yesterday and she asked him to fix it, but it’s too damn hot to mess with something that’s supposed to be in the back of the truck on it’s way to the dump. This chair has been out here for about ten years, and the blue paint is peeling off and the caning in the seat has mostly been scavenged by birds for nests. Benjamin can’t sleep, so here he is, sitting with the tomato plants and the cucumber vines at two o’clock in the morning. The yellow light bulb on the porch is swatting moths and there’s no moon and the haze he remembers of every July night since he was a boy, since his father taught him how to drive a tractor, just is not there tonight . . . it’s too hot for haze and so there are stars all mixed in with the fireflies and they are giving off heat, everything is giving off heat. Benjamin feels the heat in the soil beneath his feet coming up through his tennis shoes. He hears wings beat overhead and a small ruckus in the potted ferns on the porch, “the wrens can’t sleep neither . . . ” he thinks. He sees a light go on across the road, in the upstairs window of the People From New Jersey’s house. They decided to have a garden a couple years back, and so they bought a John Deere that was too big and they dug up half an acre and they worked and they worked and put up fancy little row markers and everything died, not one thing grew and now they got this dug up half-acre that they go out and stare at and scratch their heads and bend over and pick up the dead soil and crumble it in their hands and then they go back in the air conditioning and eat their tomatoes from the store. And some time last spring they brought home those goats and those great big hairy dogs that must eat more than all their children put together, he’s never figured out how many children they got, sometimes it seems like fourteen, sometimes four, and so they put up this crazy wire fence around the half-acre next to the dead vegetable half-acre and the goats are over there breeding away and the big white dogs run back and forth and back and forth and they got so much hair that Benjamin E. Lee thinks that maybe those dogs are going to succumb to the sun by the end of the week, but those people came home with a baby pool strapped to the top of their Bus, Mrs. Lee calls it a Bus, and they put that out there and stuck a hose in it and all afternoon the kids stood there and when it was full they wrestled the dogs and put them in the pool, and they kept yelling “Stay, Stay!” and those damn dogs would jump out and chase the goats again. Benjamin E. Lee watches the light in the upstairs window of The People From New Jersey’s house and figures it’s Mrs. New Jersey who can’t sleep - she’s a nervous type, and he knows this, cause she came to his door about a year ago and asked if she could buy some of the vegetables from his “Gorgeous garden,” and he turned her away saying, “Mrs. Lee cans everything and what we don’t can, well, we eat now, and we give to my sister who lives in town with her son who ain’t right . . . ” and he regretted saying that about his nephew, cause Mrs. New Jersey shifted slightly and her big sunglasses slipped, “Oh I’m sorry . . . ”

“Nothin’ to be sorry about, he just didn’t get enough air when he was a baby . . . ” And Benjamin could hear Mrs. Lee stirring around in the TV room and he knew that she was saying low to herself, “Benjamin E. Lee, you tell that nice lady to go home now . . . ”

Benjamin suddenly wishes he’d brought a flashlight with him, cause he notices that there’s a terrible amount of weeds under the cucumber vines and he’d like to pull them up. But no flashlight unless he goes back in the house, and then he’s sure the batteries are dead in that flashlight cause the last time he tried to use it was when his Boxer Dog was raising hell one night back in May and he went out their to tell her to shut up and to make sure no one was stealing tractor parts from the garage and the damn flashlight didn’t work. And he never bought new batteries, so no flashlight.

A light goes on in his kitchen, Mrs. Lee is up. The side door opens and the moths scatter and the wren that was finally sleeping in the potted ferns flurries away, “Benjamin? Is that you out there in the garden?” Ben?“

”Yeah, it’s me Mrs. Lee . . .“

”Come back to bed before you get bit by a snake.“

”Ain’t no snakes Mrs. Lee, it’s too damn hot.“

Monday, October 15, 2012

Writing in the Mornings . . .

yesterday morning, i heard a lady poet on the radio read a poem about writing in the morning, she spoke of the prayers of a singing wren, of a sleeping cat, of standing in her door, holding her pen in the air - and when the poem was over, she told the interviewer that she fibbed, that she writes most mornings, but not all mornings and then she said the same thing i hear all the Writers say, “everything is fresh in the morning . . . ” and i suppose i know what that means, but when i write in the morning, my mind is blank, there is nothing and words are not easy to come by, and i am slow. so here i am, writing in the morning, about writing in the morning, to prove my point that i am not one of those morning writers.

i made my tea a little while ago and i thought, that’s my ritual, i begin the day with tea and you know what, i end the day with tea. i walked out on the deck with the dogs and looked at the pewter morning sky laced with pink smoke and damn if there wasn’t a pink rainbow in the western sky over the turnip greens that are coming up - it’s supposed to rain later today, and that is going to steer my whole day.

yesterday i took our old bedroom carpet to the dump - we should have gotten rid of that thing years ago - my old dog Jack died on that rug and i should have gotten rid of it the next day, but i didn’t, i guess i was too sad and then the rug stayed and stayed. We cut it up in four big pieces so i could handle it myself at the dump, which really meant i could leave my husband behind so my great hound Boogie could go to the dump, because that’s Boogie’s ritual, he never misses a trip to the dump - going to the dump is his job really, he oversees the recycling and the whole operation and he decides what music i am to play on the radio - if he doesn’t like the music he swipes the dashboard with his humongous paws and damn if he doesn’t turn the station or the whole thing off and then he sticks his head out the window and the wind blows through his mind.

there was a hipster boy, correction, a hippie organic hipster boy - that’s the kind of 20 something boys you see around here - they are educated and living on their own for the first time, out here, and they don’t bathe or shave alot, but they have a twinkle in their eye, a twinkle that says, yep, i’m going to be an organic farmer, and this one had a white ford ranger on it’s last legs and full of a bunch of horrible crap and he smiled when i backed up to the dumpster next to him and i’m pretty sure the smile was cause Boogie takes up an awful lot of space in the cab of my truck and he’s a hound, and nobody can resist a hound and they always break out in a smile when they see him, so the boy smiled and then flung all this crap up and over the sides of his dumpster. And I donned my gloves and started getting everything to it’s proper place - because that is the most important thing about The Dump - you don’t just dump stuff, you carefully distribute it all to the proper vestibules, now that’s a word! And the boy watched me, i suppose in some amazement, as i tore this enormous cardboard box up into pieces so it could fit in the narrow slot of the Corrugated Cardboard Bin cause i didn’t have my pocket knife, and i have to do this sometimes and there is always some man around who looks at me like, Where is your man? Why isn’t your man here with his buck knife to do that, and i wonder if they see that i have some age on me, but i have pretty strong arms . . . so the organic farmer to be boy got in his white truck and drove off and i was down to the carpet and i thought we cut it up in small enough pieces for me to handle, and i wrestle the first piece out of the bed of the truck and carry it over to the bin that is like 8 feet tall and i give the carpet a sort of swing down and heave up and that didn’t work at all and i hit the side of the bin and the damn carpet comes out of my hands and hits the the ground and my ego is completely deflated and the Norwegian man who has worked at the dump for a few years now, he’s darling, always in a nice mood, and pets every dog that rides into the dump, and makes you wonder, what the hell is some old Norwegian man doing working here? But he’s here and he comes over and says, “I help you wid dat” and I say okay, but insist that I help him, and he says, “Okay, i do it, and you do it, ” and i say, “ we do it . . ” and he laughs, and suddenly it’s a little funny, this uncomfortable moment of talking about Doing It with the Norwegian man at the dump and so i say, “That’s a song you know?” and he says, “I know!” And I have this picture of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing in the dump.