Archive for the ‘Stress’ category

Walk in the Woods

July 24, 2015


Walk in the Woods

I read this morning that walking in nature quiets
the frontal cortex, frees
something, but I walk so fearful of bears this evening
in this all too natural wood, my frontal cortex busy
with bewaring, that anxiety cantilevers a small cellblock about me,
a prison of projection my sneakered toes shuffle forward,
my knees bang into, and that I only break through
to start
at the flickering of moths in the fiddleheads,
the shifts of darkness
against dead trees,

until, bowed by own nervous system, I try simply
to keep my head down–what I don’t see
won’t hurt me–
(the fact is I am thrilled whenever I see a bear,
I keep telling myself)
and now my brain’s sovereign is
the brood
as I replay with blurred certainty the bared foolishness
in the mails I sent today,
every sop of misrendered advice,
sighting in the brain-garbled distance
sure evidence of cortex’s demise, underlined
by pre-demise inadequacy–

It all comes to the same thing, truly–
a fear of bear racing–(a chase I’ll surely lose even tumbling downhill
where they’re supposed to be at a disadvantage)–
and a fear
of the embarrassing–

Then, I remember–and now I’m trudging uphill (where I’ll be too slow
for any bear, so try not to physically look back)–
that a dear friend died
five years ago today.

She would have liked to live
to fear foolishness, even maybe
bears. Yes.

I can’t find anything
freeing there,
until I arrive, in the green stumble, at one of her favorite stories–
a time she greeted a doctor, after sitting in a hospital chair all night, next to a sick son,
with a long string of dental floss impossibly stuck
between her teeth–you know how early
they make their rounds–how neither she
nor the doctor mentioned
that long crooked dangle
as they both tried to seem supremely
competent, focused on charts
and probabilities, the boy’s
soft breathing.

And foolishness, bared, suddenly doesn’t seem
so bad; being a know-it-all not so appealing
in the context of
an afterlife, the knowing of
what’s next–

Almost home, I think of her round smile–her teeth were
quite big actually, her smile bigger,
a flash of incisor at each side–

Almost home–
and I think
of her
round smile.

Sorry sorry sorry for the length and the fact that it’s not really a poem, and that it’s so much like all of them lately, but here’s what I’ve done for Grapeling’s “Get Listed” challenge on Real Toads.  Ps==drawing mine, an old one–the bears are really not that big here!  


As Long As (Watch out for the Ping Soda)

November 16, 2013

The Matrix On Cheetos

As Long As

As long as there’s bottomless Ping we can drink
and a computerized thingy implanted to sync
with what’s left of our brain and also the right
and Cheetos hardwired all day and all night
so that crunch we can go and snap we can pop
with never and never and never a stop,
then we will feel nearly, gee, almost at home
no matter how close or how far we do roam,
no matter if Saturn’s just outside our glass
or Uranus is left far behind on its ass–
Oh we will be happy as happy can be
in our saucer uncupped by all gravity
in a pod that’s so cute, so very cozy
where there floats just me and just me and just me.


Here’s a sort of draft ditty for Bjorn Rudberg’s wonderful prompt  on dVerse Poets Pub to write a sci fi poem.  I don’t know if this qualifies–I do confess to liking the drawing. (An older one by yours truly.  As always all rights reserved.) 

“Is It Working Now?”

March 6, 2013


Internet still funky, i.e. on/off.

Days in NYC still box-ridden.

Some can turn obstacles into art.

Others can only churn out elephants, and even those,

just one at a time.

Passive Aggression (Agatha)–Trireme Sonnet

March 2, 2013

Saint Agatha (Orazio Riminaldi) (1625)

Passive Aggression (Agatha)

Some postulate revenge, but martyrdom,
I’ve found, gives precious little payback.
Take Saint Agatha.  After she survived
the lop-off of both breasts, she served ‘em
on a silver salver where, in no way slack,
though on their lonesomes, they shone, while she, revived
seemingly, smiled, a mix of peace and purr-dom.

She managed next a hot coal lay-back,
which somehow birthed an earthquake.  Enemies writhed!
Still, she died.  In prison.  So, in that kingdom,
did those who did the chest thing – that awe-full whack
(though not, perhaps, in jail).  The point derived:
forget all bets on tectonic overdrive–
settle for a smile that lifts up bright breasts lithe.


The above poem is a “trireme” sonnet (a form developed by the great sonneteer Samuel Peralta a/k/a Semaphore), which uses a rhyme scheme based on tercets.  I’ve used a kind of slant rhyme, I guess.  Sam writes about the form for dVerse Poets Pub.

Above and below are paintings of  Saint Agatha.  Yes, the story is absolute horrific.  She had her breasts cut first, I believe, as a punishment for resisting sexual blandishment (i.e. assault) and after surviving that, was  rolled on hot coals.  This  promptly caused an earthquake, killing, as the poem says, some of her enemies.  (Not all apparently since she still died later in prison.)  You know, I realize this story may resonate in a particularly awful way today, given medical treatments – and I’m sorry if it seems terribly insensitive.  I really was thinking about the traditions of (i) martyrdom (on almost a personal level) and (ii) European painting – I’m really sorry if it comes across as upsetting or casual.   When you are doing something like a sonnet, I find that they take directions you didn’t always intend.


Have a great weekend.


Francisco de Zurbaran, 1598 – 1664, Saint Agatha

Trying To Keep It Light On Election Day! (Sonnet) (Not Nano-ing At this Exact Moment)

November 5, 2012


Before the sky, a lovely pale, a boy,
tall on glistening grass, tosses a ball,
and I wonder why it is that joy
is not simply inhaled.  Is it the Fall
that keeps us from feeling how it lines
the air we breathe?  Is it that first loss
that keeps us toiling within the confines
of our skins, unheeding unhidden cost?
A soft haze, like a blessing, nestles on
the sea, mutes the horizon, brings the far near.
So much within reach.  The brain wrestles on
its hardscrabble way, yet slowly fear
unwinds, diminished by sky, sea, view.
An inner hand makes the catch, more too.


Ah.  Why is it that joy is not simply inhaled?

In my case, it is partly because I am endlessly fretting.  This evening, the eve of the election, however, I  am feeling so much better–so very much more joyful –  because I’ve made a committment to get up super early and get myself to a swing state where I will work as a poll monitor, helping to people to avoid being disenfranchised.   So hopefully I’ll be able to get where I am supposed to be, and hopefully you will to!

The above is an older sonnet which, if I have access to internet, I also hope to link to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night.  (And I’m sorry the pic’s not the sea!)

And yes, I’m trying to take a break from blogging for Nanowrimo – and I will!  But for here and now, a wonderful and open-hearted day to all.  Take care, and may we all get some peace, wisdom, and sense of unity and pride from all this.  Thanks much.

Fear and Loathing on the Number 4

September 30, 2012

Boy on Number 4 Train

“The people here
are f—ing animals,” says hard-
creased mom to youngish son
as they slip between
double rubber, closing doors.

The boy, buzz-cut (mom holding Yankees cap), edges
uneasily through the crush
towards center pole–

Mom hooks him
before he can latch on–“These people push you,”
she snarls,
“I’ll push ‘em back.”

I try to angle smile that only boy
will see (so that the mom
won’t slug me), but boy
turns face to door where, nothing
to hold, he lists with the tight
till mom’s boa arm heavily

Then, even as train
smooths, even as she
releases, he bangs
his head against the dark glass—-

The bangs are soft below the train’s
now again–but
again–eyes lowered–

Mom’s harsh lines
limp; she spans one hand
to his forehead as if
to take the hits herself–
now again–

In the jumble of next,
seat empties – I point it out–
boy sits; she smiles at me,
sort of.

Then each of us consciously
looks neither at the other or
the boy,
peering instead
through the translucence of
train fug–the rumple of so many–


I am posting the above – a re-write- very belatedly for dVerse Poets Pub’s Poetics prompt about people watching hosted by the very good people-watcher Brian Miller.  

Running Along Hudson During Twilight (The Movie)

March 21, 2012


I am a big believer in pay-back. Not in the vigilante sense, or the vengeful sense, or even the karmic sense. (I’ve known a lot of good people to whom very bad things have happened.)

I mean pay-back, in the sense of you need to pay something in to an experience–energy, openness, commitment–in order to get something back from that experience. (Yes, I know this isn’t always true.)

I guess what I am really trying to say is that I spent much of the day fighting intense fatigue. Oh, I slogged along, but how many two-bag cups of tea can you gulp down without completely undermining any added productivity through the induction of a urinary tract infection? (Quite a few actually.)

And then, this evening, as I slumped down onto the couch, my daughter found the Twilight movie on TV.

There was Robert Pattinson looking chalk-faced, garnet-lipped, and (below the hair) very very stolid. There was Kristen Stewart madly hesitating.

And I was exhausted, I tell you! But something–some tatter of self-respect or preservation–got me up and out (even just before Rob saved Kristen from the careening van) and jogging along the deep blue black of the Hudson.

It was terrific. Air and blueness and streetlamp halo-dom—I felt suddenly energized.

Well, for an hour maybe.

But then, unfortunately, it wore off. (AFTER I had missed the movie!)


For the Doldrum Days – Kelly (Gene)

October 24, 2011


Antidote to a day with lots of not-so-much-fun stuff to deal with: Gene Kelly! Almost any song! Dancing along! (Singing too!)

(“It’s got to be a rose because it rhymes with toes!”)

(P.S. – the above picture is not meant to be Gene, who was too hard to draw, but Everywoman, more or less, in Gene Kelly garb.) Give it a whirl!

To Drafts! Revisions! Community! Poetry! Wine!

October 12, 2011


Kind of a funny evening after a very tense day.  The tension I think was chemical–well, partly–modern life is so so busy it makes for tension even in the near comatose.  (Also, in this day and age, if you are lucky enough to be employed, you tend to have an awful lot to do.)  But I also took an herb this morning, Gingko Biloba, which is meant to protect against brain dulling, but I think, in my case, may have caused brain hypersensitivity.

Then came the evening, which was subsumed in several long and worrisome telephone calls.  The great part of having aging parents is having aging parents; the difficult part is having aging parents.  The great certainly far outweighs the difficult, but where there is a significant risk of loss, there is the significant fear of loss.

And then, for some reason, I started looking through old draft poems that are on this blog, but virtually in no other file of mine.  Although I spent some energy on the drafts on the days I wrote each of them, I then virtually forgot about most of them, never refining, editing or even looking at them.

But tonight, perhaps because I should be working overtime on something else, all those unfinished poems suddenly beckoned.

Partly, this interest in old drafts has been sparked by my recent involvement in various online poetry websites and blogs, which really has been very inspiring.

The  glass of wine I had with dinner also seemed to make the call of these old draft poems somewhat more eloquent.

Still!  To old notebooks!  Drafts! Unfinished manuscripts!  Poetry blogs!   (Here here!)

More Escapism – What She Didn’t Want – To-NOT-do list

August 19, 2011


Oops! Forgot my escapist crime novel at home this morning. Left it back in my escapist bed. (See yesterday’s post re escapism this time in August.)

So, here I am, stuck on a very hot and muggy New York City subway platform with nothing to divert my brain from either the increasingly-urgent things I’ve got to do in the next couple of weeks or the ridiculous time-wasting things I’ve BEEN doing in the last couple of weeks, other than the woman walking by, who is complaining that McDonalds would not remove some item from her breakfast bun this morning, and her boyfriend’s seeming castigation in response (is he irritated with her or McDonald’s?) only I can’t quite catch that part because they are already out the gate, walking up the subway stairs.

So, should I make some kind of to-do list?

Only I’m on the train now, and really it’s incredibly much easier just to focus on all the things the OTHER people in my life should be doing, and HOW exactly they should be doing all those things. (I’ve got loads of helpful advice ranging all the way from more discipline to, well, more discipline.)

But, to be honest, what I should really make is a “to-NOT-do” list, since lately I seem my own worst enemy, obstructing rather than achieving accomplishment.

But the thought of such a “to-NOT-do” list fills me with instant cringe-worthy pain, and besides I only have one stop left, and yes, it’s a relatively long way to that stop, but what was that woman trying to have McDonald’s keep out of her breakfast sandwich? The ham? And who was her boyfriend irritated with in the end? And do they really think McDonald’s custom makes sandwiches? (Does it?) And, btw, look at those two women across from me playing some very active game upon their phones, thumbs hopping about like hurdle jumpers. Talk about escapism….