In a week like this–in this week–it’s hard to think about writing, and then the news of Leonard Cohen’s passing.

This morning, Advice to Writers sent out this quote:

“I can’t discard anything unless I finish it. So I have to finish the verses that I discard. So it takes a long time. I have to finish it to know whether it deserves to survive in the song. So in that sense, all the songs take a long time. And although the good lines come unbidden, they’re anticipated. And the anticipation involves a patient application to the enterprise.”

LEONARD COHEN

One of the most formative songs of my youth was Suzanne.

Thank you, Mr. Cohen, for your music and for the reminder–in writing and in so much more.

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When despair lurks in the corners and weighs heavy in the air, I repeat Emily Dickinson’s opening line over and over. Just that line. On mornings like this morning.

I’ve talked about getting it inked onto my arm. I might have to do just that, keep it close to me always.

I don’t know what the next steps are–where to go or how I’ll get there, how we’ll get there. All I have is hope trying to hatch.

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Let’s start with what’s next: The election. High anxiety for everyone, or almost everyone, on all sides. How do we get through Tuesday? The days after Tuesday? How do we heal?

This morning, my husband turned on the TV news, which ran a story about a woman who is making yard signs and tote bags that say, “Make America Kind Again.”

Yes.

And in between election anxiety, I’ve also been doing the Whole 30. Yeah, you could call it a fad diet, but it’s supposed to be a physical and mental reset. Some things are resetting, and others not so much. And I’ve been cheating in that about two weeks in, I did get on the scale, and have done since then, and do not feel bad about it. In many ways, it isn’t that much different from the way I’d been trying to eat–except for no dairy and no alcohol (no wine, no gin martini). I’m on day 25, having made it through several parties and events and two election debates. In other ways, it’s helpful to check in when I feel like I want a treat and ask whether I really want that or want something else. Usually, the answer is both. On the other hand, I don’t think the authors of the program are my people. For example, they say that at one point I might start dreaming of junk food. Did not happen. They say that on day 21 I will be probably be sick of my food choices. No, I’m not sick of my food choices. I’m sick of cooking and shopping and cooking and shopping. I want the pizza not because I crave junk food, but because they will deliver it to my door. So much for my pioneer fantasies. My husband has been really helpful about making things that don’t include the vast number of forbidden things (obvious things, like sugar, and not so obvious, like soy, which means any commercial mayonnaise). Five more days. We’ll see.

I’ve also been writing (really excited about a poem that includes both Star Trek and the Wizard of Oz, and another poem about topological phase change) and writing and reading as part of the Ekphrastic Assimilations project. US poets wrote after Chinese artists’ works, and the Chinese artist–who are also poets–wrote after the works by US artists. The  Ekphrastic Assimilations website is still up, and you can view the art and post your own ekphrastic poem there. I’ve been working on a second one.

Finally, what’s next: I’ll be reading this Friday, November 11, at the Good Shepherd Center. I’m excited to hear poems by Amy Schrader, Douglas Schuder, Griffeth Williams, Raul Sanchez, and Victoria Ford. I’m also excited to return to room 202, where I took a fantastic Hugo House class with John Marshall, and where, walking to the car after a reading, an owl flew over my head. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by at 7:00. If you aren’t in the neighborhood, they have parking!

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Juxtapositions

It’s been a week of contrasts–Wednesday a luminous, inspiring poetry reading by Ada Limón at Seattle Arts and Lectures, and Friday’s news of Donald Trump’s remarks about women. This morning, my daughter and I were talking about his comments and rape culture (and many other things), and later I was left with this:

For Our Daughters

It is not an accident
days after the poetry reading,
when I hear that man brag
of unrequested grabs and kisses,
that Ada Limón’s poem
about fillies and triumph
still rings my head like a starting bell,
and my ears are up,
but pounding down the backstretch
today I don’t want the horse’s heart,
not even the lion’s. No, give me
the heart of the spotted hyena
or the wolverine’s, all teeth and fury,
where the Past can’t hide in tall grass,
and my jaws are dripping with it.

 

(The poem referenced is the amazing How to Triumph Like a Girl, from her book Bright Dead Things.)

 

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I’m grateful that today my poem Sketch in Blue with Darker Water appeared online at Glass: A Poetry Journal.

It began as a color study, and became something else. It began as a way to thread color through a manuscript, and I ended up (so far) with five colors—red and yellow forthcoming; green and purple still seeking homes.

It went through many drafts in April 2015, when I decided to work on an exercise a day.

The lesson for me? Keep working. Keep exploring.

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