I wonder if the artist ever lives his life — he is so busy recreating it. Only as I write do I realize myself.I don't know what that does to life. ~Anne Sexton Ann With An E For Anne Sexton
Here are stories that probably never happened, this right life in a wrong time. Hold the tears of a dying sun and tell me how you do it. Can anyone know how you savor the oblique hips of islands, the moist lips of clouds, the failure you feel before it all, that perfect beautiful failure?
I miswrote your name, you know. It's Ann with an e, so I had to go back. Life is one refix after another. I don't know what this does to life but to break it open for good so that all that goodness tumbles out. The moon knows enough to make this obvious to some. Six decades in the books and, somehow, I've not gotten any better at this.
But I haven't ended it yet. I haven't not thrived in the many ways life tries to take you out of its story. Some of my life happened; some, did not. I can't tell you which from which, only that I am not Lazarus come back from the living to tell you nothing you don't already know and may yet remember you do.
Belongs to Marty who lives just down the dirt lane. He’s Holstein black and white and bares lip-curled teeth in a greeting smile whenever he sees me. Bosko knows me as an old friend, extending his paw, unasked, for me to shake. His are the eyes of a wise old man and he sees the old man in me and we have that silent thing between us that knows what that all means, different species be damned.
This morning, the sun hasn’t quite yet breached the night-black line of an eastern tree ridge and Marty’s truck has conked out. I’m shooting photos of a blue blossom that has erupted in a flower pot over the last few days, set the camera down, and go to help. Bokso does all that stuff as Marty tells me it might be water in the fuel line, how it’s been acting up and sputtering over the past week, nup, nup, nup the endless minutiae that comes with talking motors.
Bosko settles into my slow gentle grooming of the sides of his face, that warm bath in a dog’s brain that constructs a bridge that crosses time and space creating rifts that souls are soaked in, filling up with a shared knowledge of what really matters in these worlds. We push the truck back a bit, let it settle as we talk about Bosko’s hind leg and hip, how he’s been favoring it over the past few days and he knows we’re talking about him as he presses into the swanning comfort of my hands gliding along his narrow face, leaning his weight against the back of the passenger seat as two traveled fellows share the consolation of what it is to understand our brief places in all of this, the reassuring touch that it will all come to be as quiet as the seas between stars and nebulae, that that’s okay, and when I suggest Marty try the key and it fires up, that these parting words and goodbye pettings are only for a brief age, an age of man and dog and dog again, when all things find their unconditional levels as water in a fuel line, as how the broken sun finds blue burning in a nightflower.
She walks in, young, laden with books, the open door pressing her scent inside before she’s crossed the threshold of the café. She smells like you, like the perfume I bought for you, that scent that was you and you alone, the perfume that after eight years still clings to the sheer black brassiere you sent me from Kriens before we ever shared a kiss or made love, the deep nose that makes me ask her what it is, if it’s known by a singular woman’s name, a name I cannot readily recall until she tells me Burberry, but that isn’t it, so I look at my keyboard and the letter L whispers Laura, it was Laura Biagiotti, yes that’s it, and I tell her it smells as if it comes from the same aromatic family, that it takes me wholly and completely as when a bell sends an angel from an opened shop door that one turns to watch walk slowly in, young and beautiful as if heaven itself has not had any adverse affect on it whatsoever, and this heaven, this brief heaven, is you seating yourself across from me in another woman’s skin, the two of us leaning in as if the years had not unpinioned us at all, the bouquet elegant, persisting, a fragrance fallen and divine.
Sometimes Santa kills the family. The little girl’s Christmas bike is found and she, three days later. Fog skirts the channel waiting for things to cool further. There is plenty of time for occlusion before the new year arrives to take summer memory from the man who lost his daughter to brain cancer. Optimism yet skims the sunworn surface deep moisture provides.
I wish we didn’t know these things, never had to excuse it with a That’s life. What is asked of us is so often inexcusable. The last day of the year is no different than the first or any one that falls between. But we want it to be. Pity the child born to the day everyone wants dismissed so that new numbers may play out their better fortunes.
Odd to think a sun or a cluster of stars cares for any of it. We foreswear them nevertheless and honor by their celestial bidding all we would promise to their cold natures, give over to such perfect uncaring believing hope is forged this way.
Five hawks may pass overhead tomorrow morning and it would still portend not a thing. The northern flicker in your oak may call out to you only to skitch away the moment you come to the window. Only the absent vulture leaves its black smear in the sky, hangs the whole night before sweeping away to soak up sun.
Saturday doesn’t know it’s Saturday so it works just as hard as Monday. Coffee tastes the same, but we swear it’s richer, emboldened by some darker victory. This is the lastness of life, the end of things suspended beneath a commencement yet to arrive. Grasp your small bowl and pour out the sun. It will spread to run off your table and onto the floor as it always has.
Joseph Gallo December 31, 2011
It used to matter: the first drink, the first call, the first meal, the first kiss. Every- thing was new again and this time we’d get it right. No more swearing, no more smoking, no more infidelity, no more random acts of cruelty. The number of the year would make it all possible as it will this twenty-twelve. Today I resolve to make a healthy vegetable soup, first thing, and if not today, then tomorrow for sure. It will last the week and be supplemented with chicken breasts and fish. Natural vitamins, low-fat, packed with a nutritional content only a new year can confer. The first choice is the lasting choice, we tell ourselves. Tabula rasa, clean slate, blank book. No scribbling, everything on the line and between the sacred margins.
Months from now, we’ll look back and most of us will remember it used to matter. We’ll recall with some distant fondness that we were going to do this, had pledged to accomplish that, and that now, because spring is here, the new season of fresh growth serves a far better beginning point as summer lies poised on some faraway beach waiting to caress us with the bowers of its bounteous fire. I start my list: carrots, celery, peppers, onions, red potatoes, zucchini, garlic, lemon, wild rice, barley, Italian herbs, sea salt, vegetable broth, pinches of this and that. Yes, I will look tothe firstness of things and see to it the dreaded worstness remains far afield and unencroaching.
Proper diet, exercise, adequate sleep, more music, more poetry, more short stories and songs, the singular company of women, sessions of solitude and contemplation amid my beloved nature. First owl screech, first skirl of coyotes, first hawk flute, first quail chitter and roadrunner clatter, first cloud dragon, first orange and black monarch, all these firsts yet to arrive and to be duly noted as such.
Somewhere in all this, the first lie, the first defeat, the first lesson once again reminding that firstness is but an illusion as everything is anew to its time. Let this first poem stand for that and nothing else.
wisdom is worth all we lose to attain it. ~aucassin verdé
i wonder if the artist ever lives his life-—he is so busy recreating it. only as i write do i realize myself. i don't know what that does to life. ~anne sexton
you must acquire the trick of ignoring those who do not like you. in my experience, those who do not like you fall into two categories: the stupid and the envious. the stupid will like you in five years time. the envious, never.~john wilmot, 2nd earl of rochester
art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manifestation of nature agree to find new shapes. ~kahlil gibran
creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. art is knowing which ones to keep. ~scott adams
those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart, don't know how to laugh either. ~golda meir
i said to my soul, be still,
and wait without hope,
for hope would be hope
for the wrong thing.
wait without love,
for love would be love
of the wrong thing.
there is yet faith;
but the faith and the love
and the hope are all
in the waiting.
wait without thought,
for you are not ready for thought.
so the darkness shall be the light,
and the stillness the dancing.