Too much to drink last night and now
the symbol claps of shame in August.
Had I been wine-wise, I’d
have been at work for hours by now,
but no. Television is more relieving
than I’d guessed, I watched a show
I’d never seen before because I tend
from terrors on the molestation line.
It was easier to take than TV news
whose theme today is also how someone
who had once been a girl had been
abused. Outside the sky is blue
and bright white clouds remind me
that the other news has been wildfires
in California, with pyrocumulus
soot clouds rising white in the blue sky.
This shame of too much drink is
shockingly tenacious. I tell myself
it is no crime to be seen in cups now
and again, but find I can’t
be disabused. I hold it all against me.
There must be water in these clouds
though, and freedom here, and nothing
that ever happened will happen again.
Jennifer Michael Hecht, “Episode”


Blackberry Picking

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
for a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
sent us out with milk-cans, pea-tins, jam-pots
where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
we trekked and picked until the cans were full,
until the tinkling bottom had been covered
with green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
with thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
the fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
that all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

by Seamus Heaney



there are things you refuse to think about
streets that are too raw for your perusal.
you wind through them like your feet are fingers through pages,
moist to the touch.
I cannot be that for you: the one who points the way.
who colours corners as you navigate shady sidewalks.
instead i am the compiler who thinks of witty retorts only after you are gone from me. i think, "what would you do if i opened my mouth against your collarbone, breathing there to warm you?"
you are always closed against my forceful unfurling.


Living and Lying

"The worst thing you do when you think is lie — you can make up reasons that are not true for the things that you did, and what you’re trying to do as a creative person is surprise yourself — find out who you really are, and try not to lie, try to tell the truth all the time. And the only way to do this is by being very active and very emotional, and get it out of yourself — making things that you hate and things that you love, you write about these then, intensely. When it’s over, then you can think about it; then you can look, it works or it doesn’t work, something is missing here. And, if something is missing, then you go back and reemotionalize that part, so it’s all of a piece.
But thinking is to be a corrective in our life — it’s not supposed to be a center of our life. Living is supposed to be the center of our life, being is supposed to be the center — with correctives around, which hold us like the skin holds our blood and our flesh in. But our skin is not a way of life — the way of living is the blood pumping through our veins, the ability to sense and to feel and to know. And the intellect doesn’t help you very much there — you should get on with the business of living."
- Ray Bradbury from here


The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd - The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.

— Fernando Pessoa


So, I found out a few days ago that a friend of mine killed himself. And I have been feeling horrible and sad and out of sorts since then. Each day involves waking up to my cat's urgent meows and head butts, rolling over to kiss my partner, basking in sun. And then comes the crushing realization that a friend is no longer here. A person who was so vibrant and fascinating and caring.
I am horrible at staying in touch with people, and this was one of those people. The last time we spoke was a few months ago, and I haven't seen him since last summer. And I have guilt about that, even though I feel that feeling guilt after someone's death is such a waste of time, a way of making this horrible event about me, focusing on my pain instead of paying tribute to that person.  So I am trying not to feel guilty and instead remember Carm in a way that he would have wanted.
The first time I met him he was running around campus with no shirt and a guitar. Doing somersaults in the arts building. He ran up to me and told me: "you are delicious." He would interrupt professors in our philosophy classes. He would sing. He would quote Nietzsche and talk to me about getting out of the hospital, pulling release papers out of a ragged copy of Spinoza's Ethics.
The last time I saw him, we meditated together for 40 minutes, then made a stir-fry out of tofu, fresh mushrooms, peppers, ginger and lemon grass from the farmer's market, sharing stories.
I will miss you, and I am sorry that I wasn't more present in your life. Goodbye, Carm. xo


Listening to a conversation between Neil Young and Patti Smith on the background, watching Tennant-era Doctor Who. My kitten Arie (no, not like the guy from Entourage, whom I wasn't aware of prior to naming my cat the Hebrew word for lion) is trying to sleep on the warm surface of my laptop but settles for my chest instead. I do not feel like a good academic. I am worried that I am not going to do enough. I can't stand academic writing anymore, either the obfuscated pretensions of theory or the simplifications of much of "cultural studies" - maybe my brain is just overloaded and I need a break, but I certainly don't feel adequate right now. I spent my holidays doing what I love to do, right now, which is knit, bake, craft, and read (for pleasure) and now I'm witnessing the obligatory facebook updates from colleagues informing everyone that they have prepared __ manuscripts for publication and in short, seem to have their shit together. I just want to read William Gibson and Jeff Vandermeer and stuff and not have to write papers.
I think I'm just overworked. First world problems.

Last night was good, though. We played Carcassonne and drank champagne and watched Arrested Development. And I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Also, things like this happen on a frequent basis:

 So, life's good. Just confused as usual.