Thursday, April 16, 2015

I goofed off and went to the movies - Finally finished "them" - Poem: Hello Neighbors

  The Upper Moreland Library had a free showing of GONE GIRL. Highly suspenseful.

Starred Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike

I hadn't known that until now. 

Read more about it here. And the ending!

This morning I was determined to finish off  'them' by Joyce Carol Oates and return the 500-plus page book at 1:30 when the movie began.

Deadlines! Aren't they great?

Finished the book in my sunny back yard with the hot sun shining on my back and my new hair cut.

Marisa at the Abington Hair Cuttery did it. I could not remember where the Willow Grove Cuttery was, but I passed it today when I went to A C Moore to buy paint supplies.

Oh! Now they tell me. Fifteen percent Military Discount. Next time I'll wear my dad's old Marine Corps uniform. It's still upstairs in Mom's closet.

Semper Fi.

I bought spray paint - Rustoleum - in aqua, lilac and pink, spread some striped sheets in the backyard - I bought them at the same garage sale up the street where I bought my striped PJs I'm wearing now - and spray painted the hubcaps Terry Pointer brought me.

The Buddha also needed a new coat of paint.

How serene he looks.

This morning after I finished "them" I lay down on the white wicker couch Judy Diaz gave me before eloping to Colorado and took a brief nap.

"Thank you, Lord," I said, "for my wonderful life."

Methinks that finishing "them" makes you grateful you don't live the lives of Jules Wendell; his mother Loretta, who has found another man to marry; his sister Maureen, who made her mind up to marry a married man; and that foul-mouthed grandmother of theirs.

What can I say about the book? It was the most unpleasant book I've ever read, but I could not stop. Terrible things happen on nearly every page.

Though it's a novel, the book is based on real people Oates met in Detroit while she was teaching Maureen in a writing class. 

Image result for joyce carol oates  Am gonna read about her in the Paris Review after I finish this post.

From the Paris Review interview: 

Talk continued during a stroll by the banks of the Detroit River where she confessed to having sat for hours, watching the horizon and the boats, and dreaming her characters into existence. She sets these dreams physically onto paper on a writing table in her study, which faces the river.

Of course I'll also take a peek on FB.

BTW, this weekend I'm switching from Comcast to Verizon. Comcast is really slow. It never occurred to me to switch.

Then I had this nosy Vz saleswoman when I called up to ask why my bill was $2 more.... THEY had raised the price, THEY that have a monopoly.

The woman kept asking me why I didn't want Verizon, putting me in a position where I had to defend myself.

"I'm not happy with this conversation," I said, "and I'm gonna hang up."

Next day I called again and a Miss Reid set me up.

9:35. Let's see what's on the TV.

Nada. Scott said he watched a good Nazi concentration camp escape story. That I would watch when it bobs up again, like a man going under.

Yesterday I visited my neighbor and her son. Wrote a poem about them, changing their names.

When I drove by their house today, I had a really good feeling. I'd felt guilty for not visiting. One year when I was on Comcast Newsmakers, I asked her if I could borrow her chrysanthemums to take with me on the program. 


One two three four
I stopped counting
and turned around at the top of the stairs
and viewed my neighborhood
peaceful  quiet  greening with
the spring we’ve all been
waiting for

I knocked and waited
she was usually home
and at last I fulfilled my
promise of coming back
this would not be an
easy visit

Luke! I said when he
answered, what are you
doing home?

I’m retired, he said,
hiking up his pants

Ask her in, yelled
mom from her blue
velvet Barcalounger
a queen with her
uplifted legs in full
relax under the
far window where
sunlight spilled over
her full crown of
silver hair and
a passel of chins
that applauded when
she spoke

Remote in hand
Luke was watching
a loud game show
“Drew Carey?” I said
while crossing the old
beige carpet toward
Viola’s side of the room
Servicemen comprised
the players, I noted,
as I sat at the end of
Luke’s couch and
wondered what he
thought of me

Retired? I asked her
he’s only
“fifty-three” she said
he had a full head of
hair with threads of gray
and his mind was
still good

“That loose bowels thing?”
I remembered from a few
months ago when
I last visited.
“Yes,” she said. “I took him
to his generic doctor out in
Norristown. They finally
figured it out. We’re hoping
to get him back to work
right around the corner on

I steeled myself and
sure enough she launched
into the story of his birth
back in Pittsburgh. Had I
asked to hear it?

Bruce meanwhile had
walked on tippie toes
into the bathroom
kept the door open
….. he feels comfortable
with me, I thought,
remembering that
I am like the Barcalounger
that encircle people of all
races and creeds as Viola’s
bright blue eyes gleamed
as she told her
proudest story
his birth, the third
oldest, in a Pittsburgh hospital
where they knew at a glance
See those almond eyes
the creased palms and
“Here’s what you wanna do,
Mrs. Lyons,”
she was half the girth of
today’s woman, in her
blue hospital gown,
“You don’t wanna disrupt your
family with a child like this
I’m writing down the name
of a very fine institution.”

Mrs. Lyons sat up straight
and issued a loud scream.
“You shut up, you goddamn
bastard.”  Her own husband
joined the conversation.
“This boy came from the
union of our sperm and egg
and is a part of us.”

She blushed to remember
the good times they had
the noises they made
but was proud of Chaz
and took their little Luke
home to meet the family
in his blue bunting suit.
He peed and pooped just
like the rest.

With Chaz gone going on
five years, Kevin is
her good boy who comes
round as her fixer.
Trouble with the Nissan.
This is a new story
and is what I’ve come for
I have come to be
regaled, to leave my
worries my deadlines
across the street
four doors down
and try to tell her
Nissans are so reliable
I’ve one too, but she
rides across my words
like a war horse smashing
me across the plains.

It happens no less than
nine times that her Kevin
must come rescue her
the car will not start
at the Acme, in the driveway,
at the flower shop, and all
the way in Montgomeryville

“You drive that far?” I ask.
“Oh, sure.” But that’s where
the greatest story of them
all takes place this morning.
The Montgomery Mall, where
of necessity, she keeps her
car running when she pops
out and locks the door, and
with the second pair of keys
in her pocketbook shops at
Macy’s for new clothes for
Luke and herself, “I’ve
done nothing but grown
plumper throughout the years,
our bodies change every seven,”
so carrying those white
bags of Macy’s like suitcases
at her sides, she heads for
her idling automobile.

“Stop! Stop! What are you
doing?” she yells and waddles
quickly with her regal dignity
to the blue-uniformed police
officer who is about to break
the driver’s side window with
a crow bar like her husband
still has in the oil-smelling garage.

He turns around and sees
her heading like a crazed
duck straight at him. He
throws up his arms and
explains. “Someone reported
you inside the mall.”

“Well, she should mind
her own goddamned business,”
she says, lowering her tree-stump
heaviness in the front seat, where
the Nissan has been waiting for
his lady.

The officer nods his head.
Doffs his cap. “You are
right, Madame, you are right.”

I, too, nod my head, and
wonder how to make my escape
for it is time. I glance at the old
lamp with attached table around it
like we had once. On there is a
cup full of pens of every color
I pick up one and click the
push button on top
up and down
up and down
in anticipation, frustration, and all-out
love for her and her stories

and stand up. Luke is kneeling
on the old beige carpet, as if he
is deep in prayer, but is doing a
puzzle book, same as Mom,
propped up on the couch,
I back up toward the door
the window sill of the big bay window
is a spotless white
no dead flies or dead leaves from the
Christmas cactus or Gerbera daisy

She is still talking as I let myself
out the screen door
into that fresh spring air
that we’ve all been waiting for.

What is the meaning of life,
I ask myself as I step
gingerly down all those
steps, then, run down
the hill and sneaker-clad
trot like a pony down
the hill toward home. 

Image result for chrysanthemum

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