Archive for December 2013

Resolutions For Old/New Year

December 31, 2013

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I had a sense that my new year’s resolutions were doomed when I looked down at the page on which I was starting to write them and saw I’d titled it “List for 2013.”

There’s a part of me that viewed that as one more sign of my decay, but then a good old defensive part kicked in.  Ah, I told myself–maybe a mini-review of what held me back in 2013 would be  a far more useful exercise than taking random stabs at that great but as yet unwedged pie in the sky of the upcoming year.

So what would I change in my personal 2013, if I had it to do over?

It came down surprising quickly to two words–”resistance” (as in having less)  and “quiet” (as in being more.)

Resistance is a shorthand for the concerns of the Serenity Prayer–you know, the one about having the courage to change what one can, the strength to accept what one can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.

By resistance, I basically mean all those acts of non-acceptance and also all those non-acts of change that took up so much of my last year.  These are activities like moping, kvetching, carping, procrastinating–these may lead some people (eventually) to a burst of either reformation or resignation, but they are more likely, in my case, to lead to (i) a waste of time and energy that might otherwise be spent purposefully;  or (ii) a bungling of the contentment that might otherwise be attained.

Half the time I find myself complaining about circumstances to which I am actually fully committed, but which are–surprise surprise–just like me–imperfect.  (By “circumstances,” I also mean people.)

But my resistance typically only accentuates the imperfect–for example, I make my free time shorter by a henpecking focus on its shortness; I make the rocky parts of relationships rockier by grinding at them in a way that only sharpens them; I make all those chores and tasks and duties we all face more burdensome by stretching them out through procrastination (i.e. websurfing.)

So enough already.  Here’s the resolution–to stop adding to the inherent entropy of life–to let go, in other words, of some of the friction.

And the ‘being more quiet’ part–that speaks for itself.

Happy New Year to all of you!  I really do not know where this blog will go in 2014, but I am so grateful to you for your kindness and support for the last few years.

Bamboo

December 29, 2013

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Bamboo

Sometime in the second half of the twentieth century,
a little before the U.S. involvement
in Vietnam, at an age when I still ran away
from suspense
to a sofa just out of sight of the TV
to bounce till I
could bear it,
bamboo meant World War II,
someplace steamed
in the South Pacific,
Alec Guinness limping upright
from a blistered three-foot
box, surrounded by sunspots
and jointed jungle.

How strong, by comparison, were the timbers used
by his troops to span the River Kwai–
even the Allied whistle carrying
no reedy wheedle–

How we thrilled at the buttoned brittleness
of the Brit, awed by the nobility of that
conspicuous backbone, all those eon-
forged vowels–my brother wired
to the one comfy chair, me caught
upon the carpet (unable even
to flee to far sofa safety), as we stared
through the flicker of that
yellow-green wood, a genus grown only
in the land of Holly–

Of course, poor Alec was nearly bamboozled–it was our
compatriot, the surly Yank,
William Holden, engulfed in brown wade
and incipient love handles, who knew the true score–
that war was not about building bridges
or character, but about detonators, destruction, lots
of bang, boom, shrapnel.

“Madness,” says the doctor character through
the smoke, but “greatness,”
is what we thought.

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Here’s a  draft poem  for Hannah Gosselin’s prompt on With Real Toads about bamboo.  Sorry for the length.  I call it a draft because the poem has gone through a million iterations and I still am not getting what I want!  I’m also afraid it may be incomprehensible to anyone who has not seen The Bridge On the River Kwai, a movie made in 1957, directed by David Lean, and starring Alec Guiness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins and Sessue Hayakawa.

The movie takes place in a WWII prison camp in Burma in which the Japanese overguards force the Allied soldiers to build a bridge for a supply route.  Guinness plays a British Colonel focused on maintaining standards (and morale).   The pic is a frame from the move, all copyrights belong to the owner (and no infringement intended.)

Strange Victory

December 27, 2013

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Strange Victory  (For Veterans, Of Whom I Do Not Think Enough)

If even a spill
from a thermos
leaves a scar,
a half-”v” upon my knee–
then how can we, no matter how
insulated, not see
the lines on those
whose lives
have been hit hard
in the head, burned at more
than edges, who, giving all and
asking precious
little, we thank
with precious less.

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Another grim poem of sorts in 55 words for the G-Man.  (Sorry, Galen.)  This one inspired by listening to my husband talk about a very interesting, if very sad, book called Thanks For Your Service by David Finkel.  Finkel writes of the difficulties faced by veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  In this holiday time, please keep in mind that the U.S. still has troops in Afghanistan–it is not the troops’ fault if no one is sure what they are doing there.

Benefit Of The Divided Self

December 26, 2013

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Benefit of the Divided Self

In those moments when the mind’s
as barren as the moon,
as obscure
as its dark side,
as dry as
stranded dust

that shows
no foothold/print, no place
where one has stood
arms arced across stretched space
reaching for a scoop
of star spangle–

You see those arms–yours–
as if they belonged to someone else–
and wonder if their reach can ever
carry you–

and how does that work
exactly? The saving of
one’s self–

Is the difficulty
why there are always two of you
inside?  The one who watches
and the one who does–witness
and perpetrator–

And if there was a car
pinning one of you down–
crashed there in the frontal cortex–could the other,
like a mother,
lift it off?

You see her/your biceps veined
as they strain against the
steel fender–
you feel them shake
with the effort, while you/she waits
in some pain–

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A draftish sort of poem–not sure it goes with the picture, but I like the picture (all rights reserved.)  Note that I often post pictures directly from my iPhone these days–it allows me to post with a ton of pixels–all those pixels show up when I check on the phone, at least, but I am not sure that the whole picture comes out on some browsers.  So if any of my photos look seriously out of kilter, try clicking on it and the whole picture should come up. 

More Dog, Elephant, Christmas

December 25, 2013

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Yes, I know. Can’t I move on to something else? But I am in a drawing mood and the elephant and dog just seem to be at my fingertips. Hope all have had a great Christmas or if you do not celebrate it, a great break!

Little Dog, On Mishearing a Holiday Greeting,

December 25, 2013

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Little Dog, On Mishearing a Holiday Greeting,

cheddars with delight.
‘Merry Swiss-mas!’ That’s what I
call good cheese…errr…. cheer!

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A ho-ho-ho-ku for Mama Zen on With Real Toads.

Christmas Eve Tree Decorating = Better Late than Never!

December 24, 2013

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