A Bog or Clog in the World’s Sub-Sewage*

February 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Bog Turtle

I should be working, but I still have a faint glow of wine from last night and the snow is still falling, the cats are asleep and I feel like writing without knowing where I’m going. Hence, blog post.

Remember how everyone hated that word ‘blog’ at first? A piece of writing like a blob or a bog? Please! Of course, it’s proved very apt and for those of us who like to think we’re not too blobby, a bog is really a wonderful thing. I always gravitated to the wet places in my moody teens (as distinct from my pellucid adulthood). I liked November and March, cloudy days, damp ground, water seeping into my shoes.

My mother wasn’t overly concerned but she did remark on my wet feet and my stepfather made (mostly harmless) fun of my meanderings in the dark wastes. So I learned that not everyone is riveted by the beauty of gray, purple and maroon leaves/mud/ skies; the damp doesn’t feel cozy to all; nor does the smell of water (sans beaches or sparkle) makes them feel poetry steaming in their brains.

I’ve lost that. Now I like the days sunny or snowy. I like light, white, bright; the bog of age has me in its close embrace and I dream of soaring.

My moods when I was young were social terror, loneliness, longing, desire, aesthetic ecstasy, joy and rage. I felt so much hostility it took constant work to contain it (which I tried so hard to do because I feared extreme punishment); now, when I despair, what comes to mind is: why not make someone else happy?

It’s a welcome change, though I don’t act on it nearly enough. I adore the cat or answer the phone without making the caller feel like he/she interrupted me butchering babies. So much of my kindness in the past was reward related and I’m not feeling that much anymore. I’m inching toward purity of heart at the same time the dynamism of ambition and anxiety fades. Where will it all lead?

* Ezra Pound’s description of London. One of the great insults of all time.

Song of Autumn


Soon we shall plunge into the cold darkness;
Farewell, vivid brightness of our short-lived summers!
Already I hear the dismal sound of firewood
Falling with a clatter on the courtyard pavements.

All winter will possess my being: wrath,
Hate, horror, shivering, hard, forced labor,
And, like the sun in his polar Hades,
My heart will be no more than a frozen red block.

All atremble I listen to each falling log;
The building of a scaffold has no duller sound.
My spirit resembles the tower which crumbles
Under the tireless blows of the battering ram.

It seems to me, lulled by these monotonous shocks,
That somewhere they’re nailing a coffin, in great haste.
For whom? — Yesterday was summer; here is autumn
That mysterious noise sounds like a departure.


I love the greenish light of your long eyes,
Sweet beauty, but today all to me is bitter;
Nothing, neither your love, your boudoir, nor your hearth
Is worth as much as the sunlight on the sea.

Yet, love me, tender heart! be a mother,
Even to an ingrate, even to a scapegrace;
Mistress or sister, be the fleeting sweetness
Of a gorgeous autumn or of a setting sun.

Short task! The tomb awaits; it is avid!
Ah! let me, with my head bowed on your knees,
Taste the sweet, yellow rays of the end of autumn,
While I mourn for the white, torrid summer!

— Charles Baudelaire, (trans. William Aggeler), The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

Here’s Luke Kelly singing, “The Foggy Dew,” a favorite of mine once

My Privates

January 22, 2009 § 2 Comments

I’ve been considering what level of openness regarding my personal life I want for this blog. People have raised issues—hurt feelings, privacy—that have made me uncomfortable, though not surprised. I was in therapy and AA for years, so the personal spills easily. And I’m a novelist, so raw emotion and peculiar human detail seems like the good stuff, what I hate to let go of even if I know it will upset someone. Not that I don’t have boundaries; there are plenty of things I’d never put in here, though the writer in me salivates. And I know exactly where the boundaries should stay to keep my loved ones happy, but I can’t help wanting to move the goalposts a little.

I find my sexual and emotional life an endless source of comedy. This isn’t because I haven’t cried several rivers, but because I have and so what. My boyfriend’s pretzel of a psyche, my husband’s Man-Who-Fell-to-Earth oddity spark enormous tenderness in me, yet there have been many times over the years when one or another has lain beside me, disgorging secrets and dreams, revealing astonishing delusions (like the ones you and I have) while I repeated the words in my head, memorizing the turns of phrase, thinking, What a character he’ll make someday.

I thought that ‘someday’ I’d be disconnected from one or another.

“I don’t want to censor you, but you can’t expect me not to have a reaction.”

“You have to write what you want—you have to—but can’t I tell you how I feel?”

Well, okay. I guess the appropriate cautionary tale is Nixon and the White House tapes. He probably didn’t get the novelistic splendor of it all, but he knew the joys of the raw meat moment. General This and Senator That, talking shit. You want to preserve and protect. You don’t want to be kicked out of the place of privilege.

Where Am I?

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