Search This Blog

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fast Day 178 October 29 2010 {Homecoming}


Odysseus = Greek form of Ulysses

Circe, Calypso, Nausicaa = girls Odysseus met on his voyage home.
Penelope =  I assume she is rather like Guinevere, and actually possess lands.... mightr be a warrior queen, too, although we do not go there.
I imagine she holds green lands beyond Dodona.
Agamemnon= was killed after his return home by his wife, Clytemnestra and her lover. He was killed in his bath.

synopsis:  The Greeks went to war in Troy for 10 years. Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, went to war under his obligations to Agamemnon. Odysseus made the god Poseidon mad, so it took him another 10 to get home, where Penelope was waiting, while 100 men sought her hand in marriage. She put them off by saying she would wed when her weaving was done.  By day she wove and at night she unthreaded that which she had done during the day.

Penelope sits up late at the loom
that wove the dreams of twenty years,
wondering how to depict the full moon
playing in the wind-chased clouds.
Odysseus sits outside at the gate,
and when the moon filters through the trees,
it paints his skin with stripes, and he
looks feral  as an argent tiger.

Look at him…. A wild thing!
Sitting just where he sat
Twenty years ago, wond’ring whether
to take ship and sail to war.
Still we sit here.
Ah, well. What of it? What more did I wish?
He has killed one hundred lusty suitors
who would take my torch to warm their beds…
he is devoted to me… or to my dowered lands!
Great meadows beyond Dodona lush,
not like the rocky shores of Ithaca!

Damn! Agamemnon… killed in the bath! Of all places!
Even great Agamemnon gone! – our lives
misplaced from throne room to out-buildings!
Every friend with whom I sailed to Troy
has left this world. I am the only one
remaining. Is this fate? Or accident?
The aegis of the goddess that covers
the porridge of our lives, the layered mush
of steel-cut oats boiling in a pot.

(Odysseus hears the ghost of his mother.)

My son, Odysseus…
O, you were the boy, the very best son!
I waited on your return…
I saw no sails, nor white nor black!
I fell into death, tripped like a orant
of Poseidon missteps and falls into
the cruel maw of the sea unyielding!
I have waited here since the first snows.

(Odysseus cries out faintly. One of Penelope’s ladies  looks out the front door. His father, Autolycus, peers out into the night from his wooden hut by the barn.)

Ha!  Two decades toil!... and now he sits alone!
That bitch! That shrewish and unfaithful wife!
I was here! I saw it all! I am no fool!
She wove not stories of the goddesses
and gods, no themes of the holy erotic!
She wove and embellished lovers’ messages
and pornography of delights upon
that loom to show the lucky prick of the
hundred aristocrats the pleasures she
would bestow…  that very night upon the
panting suitors in their kennels wrapt!

What disturbs Odysseus?
He sits lonesomely.
If he broods upon
his lady wife’s fidelity…
well, for that I will avouch,
serving here long years.

(Sighing, Odysseus rises and turns to look at the bright window of his palace. Penelope has gone to bed.)

It seems that I am always waiting,
we straighten up what men disturb;
like Poseidon they quake the tender earth,
and women wait upon the littoral
to recreate after tidal waves.

(Odysseus enters silently, but she feels his presence fill the vacuum about her. He lays beside her. His skin seems surprisingly harsh, since she has been used to twenty years of lonely linen sheets.
Later, he is sleeping and Penelope thinks in the darkness…)

Some things never change…
He has kept in practice. That’s what comes from
hobnobbing with goddesses and witches!
I will not begrudge him Circe
nor the iconic Calypso, for when
a goddess beckons – or a woman with
an unnatural relationship with
herbs and snakes and circles where Faeries dance! –
it is best for man to answer
or they never find safe harbor!
But, Nausicaa! That tawdry little tramp!
a tart!... a whore!... playing at celebrity
and aristocratic ways… the duchess
of drop-my-britches! Men are such fools!
Twenty years, and he has not one friend left alive.
Twenty years of a war fought on a foolish whim,
an impulse erotic made disastrous!
There is no going back, and no need to
poison the future with
history’s failures!
I am all there is left. His mother’s gone,
and his father is quite mad, thinking that
he is a young bull living by the barn!
It has been a long, long journey, apart
and together, in joy and in sorrow:
Where is the thread so strong, the dye so bright
to weave the line of this devotion?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fast Day 177 October 21 2010 {Windy Days}

 Windy Days

A windy day is archaeology,
a day of vertebrae and fish...
lethal bones, thin and white;
hair combs from Persephone's
make-up bags that lie on tables
in the Women's Room of memory!

Fossil dinosaur fingers grasp the road
like broken twigs and scattered,
from a landscaper's dump-
truck that placed them here against the law;
where the small black birds reconcile
their grievances, and chase the hawk!

Tree branches lay enormous like femurs
of the quercal lizard race...
legs and arms of giants!
Dispossessed by war's alarm and tossed
in protesting disarray here:
our Cabinet of Steampunk Wonders!

Take three horns of the triceratops,
and oak leaves like dragons' teeth:
the flesh is gone from the bone,
blown about here and there by wand'ring death:
a pale groundskeeper who holds
the wailing leaf-blower of our tears.


written when someone illegally dumped yard waste and fish bones in the turn-around at the end of my favorite cul-de-sac: first exploit the world, then trash it! seems to be an acceptable cycle of life around here, and the trash and pruned tree branches became a history.

Persephone -  wife of Hades, lord of the underworld

like broken twigs and scattered -  like scattered and broken twigs

quercal - pertaining to the oak tree; the oak branches look like dino femurs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fast Day 176 Ocober 14 2010 {Sunny Days At Home}

 Concrete Front Door Steps

 Sunny Days At Home

When you have to work,
a sunny day is a Yellow Pages day,
a day when the phone company rep comes
for a meeting you've forgotten, and asks you
what do you think about what you never think about
and how does that work for you, anyway?
and what'll it  be for the next year?
and the threat of future meetings
while I sit there in my underwear and bathrobe
why'd I let this guy in? wondering
if the lord of the flies was salesmens' chatter.

Returning home on a sunny day
is like the fifteen wide and high,
the concrete steps leading to beitenu;
never an easy walk up,
while the upstairsike looks out her
window at me, the drapes covering
her beet red rouge-
a Russian immigrant face
with a tsar's ermine stole resting
on her upper lip! -
and she looks with empty eyes
and her lips move like conspirators
whispering to her cell phone...
when I was young, a youth,
I'd hang around stairs like this
hanging on warm nights
filled with the liquid mishnah
of life's ancient laws.
Now it's just a horse-race vasculitis,
and varicose veins bulge
like the grocery bags I hold.

Eating inside the house...
on a sunny day...
dust like whole wheat flour
from the mills of sunlit
barred, mortared, and flimsy curtain windows;
I want to eat, but even treif feel pain:
lobsters shriek in an incomprehensible
language of the lost when thrust into
the boiling pot on Salem's stove,
and I am so used to slaughter now,
that I sit at the omnivore table
and care not kosher nor halal
if God can not save the sunny days
from the onset of this darkness...
give back the steps where children played,
where the iron railing's legs
resist the rust of time
and do not loosen at their base
to swing crazily at the grasp
and let me fall
-heavily -
into the cheap shrubs in
their dusty dirty beds!

beitenu   = our home  = baituna (arabic)   It has a taste of Israeli politics: Mr. Avigdor Liebermann.

upstairsike = yiddish-english for the people living upstairs in a apartment building.

mishnah   =   commentary on the Law

treif    =   not kosher under jewish dietary regs.

kosher = jewish dietary regulations.
halal   =  muslim dietary regulations

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fast Day 175 October 8 2010 {Broken Statues in Ixmal}

 Olmec Statue

Broken Statues in Ixmal

elephant glue wont bind the Christ child's arm
- the statue you broke -
wont even let the tyke
grow up, go to school and have a girl friend:
he weeps Olmec tears-
break his arm and repeat!
crucify him before he's old enough to vote!

do you accept Jesus as your saviour,
super-glue his arm
like your other bric-brac;
where compound fractures pierce his holy hide
and you are so starved
for holy lust and faith
you see a grilled cheese sandwich in His face!

Aztec gawd amighty, I do wish we
sent him off to war!
broken arm and all!
to disrupt a military fun'ral -
or even say that
faith would have saved Sodom,
which He said, just before we broke His arm!

We put that arm back on, but upside-down-
it looks a little
scarey,  like a sleep
from Mayan hell of diarrheic gods;
what becomes of gods
broken by the children -
are tears the proper glue that binds God and man?

O, Brazo Roto! Ruega por nosotros!

brazo roto                      broken arm
ruega por nosotros          pray for us
diarrheic                        look it up and check the description of the lords of Xibalba!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Two welcomes in a row. It reminds me of a story, but first welcome to Mauro, who will be firmly in my memory, since the name is so similar to that of my own child.

So... the story. Well, it takes a turn and twist, not in the narrative itself, but in my own mind as I jumble it out of the storeroom of souvenirs and memory, and try to get it ship-shape and Bristol fashion for this particular regatta... or picnic - my mind being a great deal like La Grande Jatte .
My mother moi croidhe (mom-in-law, in my parlance ) used to have an expression "Collie will you lick!"  The word "collie" referred to a border type dog, the same breed we all know, but it was pronounced with a long "O", not a short "o" as we pronounce "collie" these days. So "collie" sounds exactly the same as "goalie", as in hockey or soccer.... excepting the first consonant, of course.
I was always able to figure out some sort of meaning for these expressions - me mother macree not being much into analyze and explain every nit, tib, scrub, and hatch that blew along the cornfield - like I was and so many others of my generation: we questioned endlessly and learned nothing new.
Anyway, the way she did explain it was that it was Rough Times and the mistress of the house went to the cupboard to get her doggie some food, and as the cupboard was bare, she extended her alabaster hands and invited the hound to lick them, potentially drawing sustenance from her own breakfast of hardtack and water.
A nice story, sort of Old Mother Hubbard, but what was the point of it? Why did she say it when she did? I remember once hearing it when there were cold cuts and fresh bread on the table, so I did not quite "get it".

So yesterday we were in Stratford, Ontario, taking in a production of Peter Pan. The last time I was scheduled to go to Stratford was 9/11/2001, and maybe now I shall remove the jinx, curse, and malocchio from the world. Who knows?
Anyway, it was raining, and we were coming out of the Bijou Restaurant behind the Stratford Arms (there is no such hotel, but I do like the name "Stratford Arms"; it is so Raymond Chandler or Donald Duck - can't make up my mind. I think the hotel is the Stratford Hotel.) A significant other was helping the elderly and the handicapped exit the doorway into the teeming rain, holding the door while they fiddled with their umbrellas (leading me to wonder whether Nero fiddled with his umbrella while it rained in Rome?).
As I exited, the oaken door was let loose to slap and inconvenience me to no end.
So I said that it was a fine thing that a person could be so helpful and polite and courteous when all these others were making their way out, but when it came my turn to get through the door and dodge into the rain, hopping lightly over the puddles, it was "Collie, will you lick!" , and the cupboard of courtesy was bare!

And I got it! It made so much sense that I laughed aloud. Whooped also. Did a bit of a dance... or a jig. When I have these "Ah-ha" experiences, I usually don't sit there and say "Ah-ha!", but sort of convulse in a not altogether uncharming way... somewhat like Darby O'Gill, it was. I finally understood what it all meant, and what that collie felt like.