Saturday, August 1, 2015

Writers' Group Meets at 4 pm with the Fab Four!!! - Two new poems: The Birthday - I'm Sick of it All

Floyd made a heroic effort to get here at 4 pm. We had read his short story online about his days when he was a supervisor at a huge plant and was responsible to discipline misbehaving employees.

He kept a diary when he worked there - for 28 years.

He's turning these stories into a memoir. But only of his work life, not his personal life.

They is good!

The stories just flow, he said. Once he begins, they take on a life of their own.

Not easy, he said, writing interesting prose about a civil engineer - his job. Remember, he told us, a civil engineer designs things for a better civilization: bridges, roads, sewers, water systems, you name it.
 This shiny blurry object is a coffee brewer, made by Brasilia. Read shocking news about it here.  

I ordered a glass of ice water from Tiara, a new gal, whose tiara was a black Giant cap.
While we were chatting, Beatriz read the first graf of Carly's story and pronounced it wonderful, as did Marf. Carly and Marf bumped into each other at the Giant - Ladies and Gentlemen! Meet your friends, your neighbors, your enemies at the Willow Grove Giant.

Marf, too, was impressed, she wrote in an email.

  Allan Heller called to say he missed us and would be there at our next meeting.

Am I his official photographer?

 
Carly's fictitious story was about family relationships. She wrote it 'blind,' meaning she had no idea what was going to happen to the characters.

This is both exciting and scary as hell.

It makes use of Carly's life in the San Jacinta Valley near Palm Springs CA. The main character, Judge Jackie G, travels out there to see her mom, whom we learn is in a "nut house."

I was gonna say "insane asylum" but Floyd said it was a "nut house," a much better word. "Psychiatric hospital" is too refined.

We talked about

Image result for blue moon july 31

In fact, I was on the phone with Mom and told her about the rising moon. She was in bed and couldn't see it so I described it for her, just like I'll describe the moon RIGHT NOW for you.

Yes, I'm a watcher of the Moon.

"Light me up in moonbeams," I say as I go out on my front porch to greet it.

My sister Donna is also a big fan of the moon.

Hard to make out.... a creamy white color... makes you feel like it's a baseball and you'll catch it in your mitt.

Always good to see Beatriz!

I'm wearing the very same pink sundress as Jenna Fitzpatrick, MD, main character is my story The Doctor in the Bikini.

Thanks to Marcy and Scott for giving it good reviews. I finished it and am ready to submit it, god knows where.

Oh, maybe a medical journal. She's a shrink with a sex addiction.

When I walked Scott to the train station tonite he said he liked it bc he wanted to see what would happen. It was unpredictable.

Like Carly's story, I wrote it 'blind' but the words just came to me. I had to pace myself bc I had some difficult scenes and had to get in the mood to write them.

Father McGarry - where'd that name come from - visits the young Jenna's home to confront her parents. The dad, originally from County Cork, beats the shit out of his kids. 

McGarry comes up with an amazing thing to tell Sterling Fitzpatrick.

While at table, I took my sugar.

56.

Beatriz gave me some candies and I reached into pocketbook for my protein bar.

When we left, I bought some General Tso Chicken from the Chinese booth

Delicious! I said to the woman who served me.

Natch, when I got home I couldn't stop eating it, so I walked Scott to the train station to work off my 176 sugar points.


When I walked home by myself I saw a house being refurbished. Gotta remember the address, I said, estimating it to be 528. Am walking along saying 528 528 how'm I gonna remember this and remember that my sister Ellen was born on 5-28.

Here's the houses... apartments.

Forget it.... Blogspot is making trouble.



THE BIRTHDAY PARTY


Breasts grow bigger with age
we agree, one of many things
we talk about at the kitchen
table with the faux chicken liver
nearly gone. No one can guess
that cashews and green beans
account for the taste. Mom,
nearing ninety-five, is it? has
forced her shutting-down
body to make it. The woman
has everything – family, friends,
Ron and Hildegunde, servants
like Ellen who do her bidding –
everything but her legs which
used to command a tennis racket.

We don’t cry over the past. Miles
eyes framed in black glasses and
Veronica in a purple sundress will
travel to her country of Columbia
during Christmas. Her family hails
from a modern city, too civilized,
she says, for El Chapo to hide there.
He’s running his drug emorium from
the hills.

Ah mescaline! Mom’s antibiotics
made her see patterns. Hands went
up around the table over who used
it. There wasn’t time to describe the
trip I had in the rolling hills of Goddard
College, the three of us walked into the
unlocked library, with its red carpet. I
stole a book, then mailed it back later
that year.

Would it be a lie – or my imagination –
if I told you El Chapo Joaquin Guzman
has tunneled his way into my house?
At sixty, we are almost compatriots. He
sleeps on the husband’s side of the bed
in his black Hanes briefs, tapping me
when I begin to snore. We love the
same TV shows – Mad Men and X-Files.

I won’t let him smoke in the house
so he goes on the screened-in back porch
and lights up the night with his
Spanish Galleon cigars. He has a
loving heart and sends me to
the mall to buy gifts for his
mother, a few former lovers,
and tells me: Someday, Amor Mio,
I will buy you a ring.

He is not to know - and don't
betray me - but when I am through
with him, I will turn
him in the everlovin’
Bastardo.  
 

***


I’M SICK OF IT ALL

Finding the plumpest cherries
at the grocery store, the firmest
peaches, the freshest baby
spinach, then being asked if I
have my bonus card, and
carrying my canvas bag to
the car, windows wide open
to catch the summer breeze
I am sick of it all. 

How I long to escape!
They’d miss me
for a few months, and then
I’d be as forgotten as the
red and gold maple leaf
making its early descent.

From the ATM, I’d take a
bundle of twenties, and
ride the train all the way
to Cleveland, my old home
town. Aunt Selma’s house is
empty, since she moved in
with her daughter.

I’d break through the back door
in the middle of the night, holding
my purple flashlight, and find my
way to the living room. There I’d
spend the night on the fuzzy
gray davenport.

Do you need help? I’d ask at
one of the Jewish bakeries
that are still left. I’d move
around, my apron caked with
flour, in an aroma of
coconut cakes, pecan tarts,
and fresh-baked challah. My
hair would again be black
and they would call me
“Rifka” my Hebrew name.

I’d be young again
free
unencumbered
and spend my nights on
the screened-in back porch with
the rickety steps
staring up at the stars.


Happy Birthday Sister Lynn Greene - Good eating at Mom's

Peach Cobbler with peach skins left on - Yay, Ellen!!!!
Vegetarian Chili for our Vegetarians Jade and Matt
The food is always superb at Mom's. She matriculated in Delicious Food and is still trying new recipes as is my sister Ellen.

Note to Ellen:  That peach cobbler is definitely a keeper. Above recipe is from Scholl Orchards in Bethlehem, PA. 

 Veronica and Jade admiring design of water bottle - glass interior protected by thick plastic
 Miles Greene stands by his grandmother, right or wrong. Remember when people had those obnoxious bumper stickers My Country, Right or Wrong?
 Gram was quite impressed by these edible Chocolate Band-Aids. Mom is known far and wide for her "Nonagerians for Chocolate!"

Miles made this wonderful card with Gram's favorite foods on it - candy!

 Jade brought Queen's Anne's Lace, a wildflower growing in her yard. The green leaves are from an invasive plant.
 Here's Lynn, the Birthday Girl, sitting next to her son, Miles. One of the h'ors oeuvres was faux chopped liver. You'll read my poem about it learn about the ingredients. 
So, Matt, what think you about Gram's chopped liver? I loved it and also enjoyed the toasted rye bread.

Mom made this rich dessert when we were kids. It uses a simple chocolate cookie and fresh whipped cream. Wait a minute! You didn't use Cool-Whip did you?

No, it was too good.

Hello Ladies. Lynn is a young, vivacious, energetic 62, seven years younger than her eldest sister.

My memory is so bad I couldn't remember who I last saw at the Keswick Theater. 

 I took it easy on the Cookie Cake - hey, I think that's a good name for it! - but took a nice helping of the Peach Cobbler and slathered it with Whipped Cream.

Dig that coffee cup! This is regular coffee. Before that, Ellen made coffee with BUTTER and COCONUT OIL.

Yes!!!

Lynn and I trooped out to the back yard to see the flowers. 


 Mom, please remember to drink plenty of water. And eat whatever you want.

My poems will appear in the next blog post.

The poet James Wright and his poet son Franz Wright

One of my favorite poets is James Wright - 1927 to 1980.

I was shocked to find he had died, and so had his son, Franz Wright. 

Here is his poem "A Blessing."  

A Blessing

By James Wright  
Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness   
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.   
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.   
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me   
And nuzzled my left hand.   
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.
***
From Wiki - His poetry often deals with the disenfranchised, or the American outsider. Wright suffered from depression and bipolar mood disorders and also battled alcoholism his entire life. He experienced several nervous breakdowns, was hospitalized, and was subjected to electroshock therapy. His dark moods and focus on emotional suffering were part of his life and often the focus of his poetry, although given the emotional turmoil he experienced personally, his poems can be optimistic in expressing a faith in life and human transcendence. In The Branch Will Not Break, the enduring human spirit becomes thematic. Nevertheless, the last line of his poem "Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota" famously ends, "I have wasted my life."[1]

*** 
I was very curious about James Wright and read a long interview with him in the Paris Review. The magazine was founded in 1953 by in Paris by Harold L. Humes, Peter Matthiessen, and George Plimpton.

In its first five years, The Paris Review published works by Jack Kerouac, Philip Larkin, V. S. Naipaul, Philip Roth, Terry Southern, Adrienne Rich, Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett, Nadine Gordimer, Jean Genet and Robert Bly.

Gordimer died in 2014. Roth and Bly are still among the living. Roth said he'll never write another novel again. At one time Bly said he'd never write another poem. All this is to be found in the 1972 Parison Review interview by Peter A Stitt, who teaches and writes from Gettysburg College.

***

I was saddened to learn that James Wright's son, Franz Wright, also battled bipolar and the bottle and died in 2015 at age 62 of cancer.

Alcohol

By Franz Wright
You do look a little ill.

But we can do something about that, now.   

Can’t we.

The fact is you’re a shocking wreck.   

Do you hear me.

You aren’t all alone.

And you could use some help today, packing in the   
dark, boarding buses north, putting the seat back and   
grinning with terror flowing over your legs through   
your fingers and hair . . .

I was always waiting, always here.   

Know anyone else who can say that.

My advice to you is think of her for what she is:   
one more name cut in the scar of your tongue.

What was it you said, “To rather be harmed than   
harm, is not abject.”

Please.

Can we be leaving now.

We like bus trips, remember. Together

we could watch these winter fields slip past, and   
never care again,

think of it.

I don’t have to be anywhere.

Image result for franz wright  These are not happy people.

Here are some notes I took from the Paris Review Interview.

He liked Kenneth Patchen, who I read at Goddard College, but remember nothing.  I do remember the word "Albion" in connection with him.

As we are so wonderfully done with each other
We can walk into our separate sleep
On floors of music where the milkwhite cloak of childhood lies

O my lady, my fairest dear, my sweetest, loveliest one
Your lips have splashed my dull house with the speech of flowers
My hands are hallowed where they touched over your
soft curving.

It is good to be weary from that brilliant work
It is being God to feel your breathing under me

A waterglass on the bureau fills with morning . . .
Don’t let anyone in to wake us.

***

A chronicle of violent fury and compassion, written when Surrealism was still vigorous and doing battle with psychotic "reality," The Journal of Albion Moonlight is the American monument to engagement.

Kenneth Patchen sets off on an allegorical journey of his own in which the far boundaries of love and murder, madness and sex are sensually explored. His is the tale of a disordered pilgrimage to H. Roivas (Heavenly Savior) in which the deranged responses of individuals point up the outer madness from which they derive in a more imaginative way that social protest generally allows.
More poets who James Wright liked.....

Sir John Davies and his “Nosce Teipsum,” George Peele. They were all in there.

When they figured out blank verse somehow they learned this was a way you could sing and talk at the same time

Let me give you just one example, he says in his interview, from [Whitman's] poem “I Heard You, Solemn-Sweet Pipes of the Organ.”

He has this line, and you don’t have to ham it up to hear the effect: “Winds of autumn, as I walk’d the woods at dusk I heard your long-stretch’d sighs up above so mournful.”

Friday, July 31, 2015

New Directions Site Down - Obama in my Living Room - Poem: Poor Miss Bissell

First of all, what's this great jazz on WRTI-FM?

"Mosaic" with Art Blakey on drums. Listen to the Jazz Messengers here. 

Here's a note I got from Obama. If you called The White House at 6 pm, you'd hear him talk about the proposed Iran Nuclear Deal.

I dialed the number - 1-866-254-5934 - and was told to hold on, which I did, during which time I reserved two movies at the Upper Moreland Library.

For some reason, I thought the president would be prompt, but it took about 13 minutes before he got on. I had my headphones on and was trying to concentrate.

Meantime, the mother and father chickadee were feeding their open-mouthed babies in the bird house just outside my window.

Here's photo where you can barely make out the open beak of the more aggressive bird, who actually hung outside. Scott said one of the birds was cleaning the nest, taking out the bird doo.


Here's some notes I took while Obama was speaking.

- As big a bully pulpit as I have, it's not enough. [Great word, Mr Prez]

- I want everybody on the phone - you mean, little Ruthie Deming, Mr. President? - to get in touch with their members of Congress. The opponents of the bill are flooding members of Congress. [And they have a lot of money.]

- If we have any rich friends, we should ask for their donations. Wonder if Mommy has any money left? 

- You have to counteract their arguments with facts. [I couldn't write fast enough to get down the facts.]

- Iran is a brutal theocracy that hates Israel, supports terrorism (Hamas, for one) and is a Holocaust-denier. [When he said "brutal theocracy" I thought What a great way of telling the truth about Iran.]

- Thanks for putting up with such a long conference call [I was on the phone for 36.45 minutes]. As citizens, you have a chance to be part of history.

When he said about being part of history, I jumped up on my red couch and began singing "God bless America." He was quite the inspirational speaker.

- Hope you're having a good summer and keeping cool. [Why, he's just a regular guy! The most powerful man in the entire world.]

***

It takes me two hours to load the new monthly sked of New Directions. Our site was down. I called Olm.net, our host, at around 11 am, they kept me waiting 20 minutes, so I hung up. Then around dinner time, I reached John in CT who did indeed help me.

He said "Go to Google and type in "IP number." 

Sure enuf, the 10-digit number came up.

Here's what he wrote me:

Hello Ruth,

Thank you for contacting OLM! The details of our phone conversation are outlined below. If you have any additional questions please reply to this message for more assistance or you can also contact our support staff by phone at the following number: 1-877-265-6638. Please be sure when calling to reference this ticket number.

Ticket Creator: John B

Server name: Red

IP Address: I should keep this to myself, right? 

Domain name: newdirectionssupport.org

Reason for Call: Unable to access to update site?

Response: Found your public IP address blocked and unblocked it. You were then able to update the site successfully.

Thank you again for contacting OLM!
OLM.NET
1-877-265-6638
www.olm.net

***

Just what I need! My Bissell carpet sweeper broke. You know what? I knew I was gonna write a poem about it.


Went to Walmart on Jacksonville Road to buy anudder one, but the prices were too high.

Then I went to Best Buy and Ashleigh helped me purchase an Electrolux for $105. I told Mom about it since she's used her ancient Electrolux for many a year.... since Moses crossed the Red Sea, I believe.

Before I sign off, I found two movies that I'll fall asleep to. One is called "Hitler's Children" and is a documentary.  Thother is "Suddenly" a 1954 film starring Frank Sinatra. This film was highlighted for me. They know my taste.


POOR MISS BISSELL

There was no warning at all
The moment the hired help
turned on the machine
she knew something was wrong

Barely a sound!
Were the bristles spinning?
Yes, but ‘twas more like
sputtering, like the last
gasps of a victim of
TB. 

Miss Bissell was not a
fancy woman, plain as
pound cake, with a
shapely long leg and
a see-through mouth
like the baleen whale
that showed dirt from
different feet: crinkled-up
leaves from the lawn,
kernels of salted cheddar popcorn,
pink dental floss twined
in her bristles
and oh, those cashews
and pecan crumbs.
She gulped them up
in her prime, proud to
show herself off.

Miss Bissell’s martyrdom –
a hated word – she was not
a Christian – born though she
was in Grand Rapids, Calvinist
country, made itself known
as she hurtled her dying body
under the bed, only to hear
her own death rattle

She looked up at the hired help
and nodded. They both knew it
was time. But, how, they wondered,
to give her a proper burial. They
would sleep on it, and perhaps
the answer would arrive next
morning in a
Technicolor dream.