REPORT A PROBLEM
The words that were pruned out last time are gathering at the gate, grumbling. Something is up.
"Next time we write our own entry."
"Yeah, we can do it too."
"We an ill in with pronouns if we have to.
"I always felt that as a key preposition, I was indispensible"
"It is not fair the way he decides who gets to stay in and who has to leave. It is so arbitrary.
"I was replaced by an adverb, a freaking untrained adverb right out of the dictionary, imagine!"
"You can tell he has favorite words--they always stay in."
Since the beginning of hunting season I have not seen the deer who used to visit my back yard regularly. I did receive a letter from the nearby gun club informing me that they "owned" the deer. I imagine them feeding the local herd all year, and then the day before gun season holding a meeting with a lottery deciding which of them will sit out by the feed-lot on opening day. They discuss how many of them will sit and which deer will be harvested because they are responsible men who understand that they cannot harvest all the deer.
I was on my way home. A group of older boys had cornered a young "h" and were throwing rocks at him. He had no way to run away. The older boys quickly disappeared when they saw me and I went up to the "h" in the muddy road. He was crying and had a cut under his serif. I took out a pocket handkerchief and blotted the blood, and some mucous. His books lay scattered over the road and a couple were mud-streaked. I helped him pick them up and started walking with him, slowly back to his alphabet.
I used to get rocked. They would usually be an a group and then one would yell, "Let's rock him." That was before musicians were rocking anyone in that sense. At least it seemed like the word had not yet generally entered into the slang in a musical sense. The rocks were limestone driveway paving stones. Looking back I find I am amazed at how lucky I was that all the neighborhood bullies had such bad aim with their throwing arms. I can remember those sharp missiles hurtling at me, wobbling and sometimes making little sputtering noises in the air.
I know when I wake up tomorrow the sun will be shining through those big windows making these covers look naked beneath rainbows of dust and if I do not wake up quickly enough I will turn the world upside down looking for you. It seems like almost any time is a good time to be alive. You can shut your eyes against the morning cavalry. You can wince behind the collar of your shirt I am trying to blink back the stuttering surprise of noxious consciousness it seems it would be so much better to just be knocked out
It was a bother for you and it scared you, especially the thing where you couldn't breathe right lying flat. You had had that problem when you were very sick once before. But it turns out what you have now is not the same thing. This will get better soon I asked how you have to lie down now. You explained that you had to sit up against the headboard to sleep. It seemed to me that you need a recliner, but I know I have suggested that before and there is something in that idea that charms you not.
I did the treadmill this morning. I've been doing that a lot. I had been visiting to Planet Fatness but lately I have been staying home with my own treadmill. My daughter gave me a Fitbit for Christmas and I am able to compare my progress with hers. So we have a competition going. Perhaps I have a competition going. I seem to require 10,000 steps a day to keep up with her. Maybe I should call her and cut a deal with her. You keep it below say 5,000 steps and I promise not to beat you so badly?
After I write about the Fatbit and get all puffed up about all the exercise I have been doing, I get a phone call from my doctor's office. I fumble the phone retrieval and it goes to voicemail. I listen to the voicemail to find that they want me to come in and talk to them about my cholesterol. Ok, I think about it and I am pretty sure I know what this cholesterol is about. It is the heavy cream I drink in my coffee. I consume about a quart a week of pure heavy cream. This is negotiable.
I finished reading the Michel Faber's "The Crimson Petal And The White." It was 900 pages of "well it's an ok book, but what for?" Would I have stuck with it were it not a book club book? Nine hundred pages of small print. I kept waiting for a vision or something, but it was just a book for bored people to read and I don't feel quite that bored yet. Although I did finish it, and I do not finish books I don't like. It was like a 19th century morality novel, but why write such a thing now?
I was with my friend David and we were on our way to a restaurant last night when I got a text message from my sister: "Where are you?" I replied, "Next Tuesday." Somehow she got the week I was arriving mixed up and was waiting for me last night. Now everyone will be out of sorts. She probably had the bed made up. I know she made her husband vacuum the room because she said so. And of course my mother went out to buy food so she could fatten me up. Oh Well. The room will stay vacuumed.
I am still thinking about Faber's Petal book. It takes place in the late nineteenth century in London. A wealthy industrialist takes up with a prostitute and essentially buys her. It is about how men treat women horridly and even a little about how women treat men horribly, although they can never hold a candle to the evil in men. But the women in the novel manipulates the man nearly as much as the man controls her. I don't understand why the "main character" did what she did in the end. My theory is the author made her do it.
This is the letter written in the upstairs hallway. This is where the drywall is nailed to pine studs standing dry in the dark. Each carpenter has spiked in his allotment of studs, 16 inches on center, good conservative construction. The hallway is where we meet in the mornings and in the evenings after work and after school. The hallway is alive. It is where the dreaming feet pad naked and dry in the night, where spiders crawl the hidden piney studs to heaven, entering the dark holes stitched in webs of fear, transcending armor, sprays and coats of paint.
I am no longer in the study. Today, I have moved out into the upstairs hallway. This is the part of the letter that gets written here in the hallway. The floor here is hard on my butt, even though it is carpeted and padded. Next time, I will need to buy either better carpeting or better padding. I am ignoring the question about a better butt. I am also ignoring the begged question about whether anyone really understands the phrase "begs the question" anymore. We tend to read on past phrases in French or those that make no sense.
I feel I need a different kind of mess for the second letter. Consciousness is a room, and there are many of these rooms, many layers of rooms, many houses even. I am thinking that you live in a single room at a time, although from there you can see into others.. There are so many different dimensions of room. My thinking about rooms and consciousness is a labyrinth of rooms. And there we live, shifting in and out of rooms, disappearing from one as we appear in another, never exactly created or destroyed. For us the membranes are permeable.
Towel-wrapped Amanda stepping out of the bathroom, dripping on the carpet saying, "excuse me" is a room. She is room in time as she steps over my legs stretched across the hallway as I type. This is a room occupied by her movement, our thoughts, by the water draining from the tub behind me. It is a room occupied by our history and It becomes another room, a memory as she passes into her bedroom, and this in turn is fashioned into yet another as I write it down, changing the color and shape of the walls as I choose
The paper dinosaur hanging with white kite twine from the ceiling in Michael JR's room, just in front of me, is a room of sorts. The paper dinosaur is an idea. It has a story. It is a statement, possibly a statement of art, possibly a statement or irony in that it is nearly eight feet across and keeps falling from the ceiling and is coming apart here and there, slowly tearing itself to death of its own weight while my 8-year-old son continues to adore it with the faith that only an 8-year-old can muster for something like that.
Consider the faith that an 8-year-old's daddy might have that he is writing something that is even worth spending his time on, the eyes cast upward through stained glass, heaving it up and out of his chest with heady twists of dense muscle tissue and daddy, of course, sitting by himself in the hall typing constitutes a room that causes everyone to adjust their wonderment level these days. It is something that is becoming in the family a seed, perhaps...but has already elicited comparison to Richard Dreyfeus' building a mud mountain in his living room in the movie Close Encounters.
Red Rooms. Blue Rooms. Ball Rooms. Family Rooms. Dining Rooms. Rooms in which to bathe. Rooms within rooms. Empty rooms. Dark Rooms. Day Rooms. Rooms to let. Room for improvement. Well-lit rooms with a view. Rooms in which we dwell with the muse Psyche, brilliant and folded in her arms, feeling her body heat, watching over her side to the wall that is streaked with sunlight, rooms where we cry because she is so far and gone and impossible to touch, rooms where we search for her, rooms where we spend hours intimate with her, knowing her taste and delight.
My son goes buzzing by and slips into his room, kneeling down now on the floor with his backpack. "Oh, Dude, cool!" he says about something almost at random. He is still deep into the first day of school he just had today. Still excited about looking forward to day two. On some day in some future year he will turn dark and his eyes will wander to the nearest window when anyone mentions "school." It will become a scary room for him that he will avoid at all cost. Every child is different. Every child is a different space.
I am drawn here again this evening. Surprised, I didnít know I could come here I had thought maybe this thing was over, had thought I would not really finish this letter, that I would not hear the voice again, would not be drawn up the stairs again, my shoes slipping softly over the carpet. Oxford toe pointed down, wood creaking beneath the carpet as the stairway ascends. This is all a hook in my chest that runs too deep to be withdrawn, to deep even to be touched. It is pulling me forward. I am afraid to back away.
The hallway is not a music room in the normal sense. Rather it is a room filled with the music of life: sounds, movement, dust, and odors. People stepping over me on their way to the places tugging at them because that is how we are made, born with that hook already in our chest.
There are so many sights and sounds in the hallway, so many things going on, I am having difficulty deciding where to start. Terry banging on the bathroom door where Mikey is now running bath water..."What?" he yells. "Is the Smurf sheet clean?" she asks.
Dark orange flames leaping
against the smoky sky.
Ghosts of the scrap heap
scramble over one another
to swallow the moon.
The king crouches
turning his head to the missing stars
cranking a broken engine block.
The young queen turns her head
to curse the tarry burn.
Across the field
Snow is falling
kissing branch and bloom
touching chrome and
dabbling in rust.
Piling up gently
inch by inch,
flake by flake.
how the snow is so soft yet cold
against her face.
touching the veil,
as she ties a shoe beneath the soiled lace.
It's another cold Michigan day and I've done it now. I am pretty sure it was I who did it. The Koi pond was running low and I was trying to add some water, running it through the basement window because the outside spigot was frozen. On my way upstairs I saw mouse scooting along the baseboard and it slipped under a closet door when I moved toward it. It was a quick little fellah too. Now I've got a mouse in the house. Well maybe it was a mole, but if it was a mole it was a baby.
It seems that there is little I can write about other than the curved slopes of white out my window that seem to be lifting to the window, and in and across my lap where the sun smacks the cold crystals burning out my retinas so that I struggle from my chair in darkness, falling to my knees in the room full of snow, feeling it wet against my pants. I stare into the darkness left by the brilliance The darkness is full of colors, lights, and shapes. But these forms are no indicators of what actually lies before me.
After I watched a mouse slip into a downstairs coat closet, I pulled the closet open and began to paw through it. My first impression was that the closet was bigger than I had realized, and as I began dragging things out of it I was shocked at the bottles, cans and debris on the floor in there, including at least one spot of outright mud. My closet needed cleaning. And the mouse, if he decided to stay in the closet had a lot of territory to choose from to say nothing of a lovely assortment of coats to eat.
I got the mouse today. I wasn't totally thrilled about it. I got him with a standard trap you see. And he was friendly. I would have tried to keep him for a pet except... Well he would have eaten the speaker wires and would have nested in my couch and peed in the piano. So he had to go. I'm not sure how he got in. I'm thinking day before yesterday when I was putting water in the Koi pond out the basement window because the outside hose bib was frozen shut. That was when I first saw him.
A day of intensity
swarms to a close.
As air flows from the room
the dancing slows
as we arrange you and I
on the wide leather couch.
to keep our feet side by side.
We watch the dog run down the stairs
Curious, he wanders in
his body weaving
stopping to pant and
drool on your leg
and you push him away straightening your socks.
But you pet him
scratching behind his ears.
and he lies on the carpet happily.
while we sit there side by side
listening to the four corners of the room
The patio furniture is covered with snow.
A small round table is the centerpiece
with a high round scoop of white heaped on its top.
It does not belong here
it has been taken from another memory,
and in that life someone
has her fist wrapped tightly
around my heart
and as the cars make paths through the deep snow
and beads of moisture run down the glass
I can remember the pressure of her fingers
as I tried to move
to breathe against the weight of that want.
But that is another patio,
The Tip Jar