Saying C’mere

 

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C’mere…You felt guilty for finding fault with today though it was damp and dreary …because it was spring you put on a grim neighborly smile and you looked busy if you went in and out of rooms and houses. You raked back the leaves you piled last year over the flower beds. We were purposeful.

I let the fire wood get damp and I’m paying for it tonight. Fire’s hard to keep lit. I left a tarp peeled back in too brief a bit of sun. I have the whole plantation to myself here for nigh on three weeks. I’m organized to paint and to draw, shuffle text and images, tempted to leave the web-cam on in the studio so I keep my act together. Act. You know you’re in trouble when you’re using your web-cam for a dressing mirror.

Those fantasies of disappearing come to me too…I think of either Egypt or of Venice California. I’d like a couple second or third floor rooms, one overlooking a street, or canal, and one overlooking a courtyard, shared but quiet. Stark slats of window blinds drawn with a straight edge ruler on featureless light. Big simple bed with bug netting. Simple tables, simple chairs, good cushions. Technology. I read a novel once about cocaine addicts in Venice California, passionate big figures, but not self consciously archetypical like the writer had taken a night course. A brutal novel by a very young woman whose name I forget. Was not famous. I remember her descriptions of canals, oil scummed carp surfacing and gleaming among cartons and slick water bottles. She romanticized Venice California for me. When I first had my hairs and was still vulnerable to artsy novels, there were passages in Lawrence Durrell’s “Alexandrian Quartet” that had me dreaming in a way I don’t any more. A safe old romance. Disappearing.

 

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All the rooms here seem crammed with cobwebby junk in this brighter, longer, snowless light. When I was a kid I was going to be an archaeologist. I always had that big cellophane wrapped book about Tutankhamen out of the library. I think I was touched by the mummy’s curse in the seventies. Now I do all I can to get rid of relics. Now all these belongings of the dead just give me the willies. Evocative of old fashioned ways, but most of it just decor now, as practical as extra nipples. Kept because somebody loved.

I tried once to write a novel about a man who decided to just disappear, only for a week, on a sentimental mission. The garage in the photograph at the top of this page is one in that story. Sometimes my paintings are illustrations for that bad writing… I guess tapping away at it wasn’t for naught. Such things do sell, rural landscapes studied by reclusive travelers and figures in motel rooms and service places. Too much Edward Hopper. I don’t think much of disappearing anymore…once you hit a hundred and six disappearance seems too likely and permanent a prospect to be avidly pursued. It’d be a financial impossibility and a logistics nightmare. I can see me reminding myself to blog in a motel room in the middle of nowhere. Mind you I’m working and saving toward it, that great wireless disappearance in a cloud, of half ton dust albeit. If only a for a few weeks after the tourist season in Indian summer. After the bugs. After the inn closes down.

 

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When Michelangelo was in Rome he was present at the excavation of the Laocoon says the radio now …imagine that. . I once saw a bear at the township dump.

 

 

Bill and I have been working on a self portrait each. It’s hard to tell how much such a symbolic project colours let alone drives one’s days really. I’ve not drawn many self portraits, maybe five in the past, quickly, usually when in some romantic thrall, when boundaries change in the vulgar parlance. I don’t know how much the vain process of drawing my own profile from photographic self portraits I snapped a few days after my partner of twenty odd years died amounts to real self examination. I haven’t been any more mopingly introspective than usual. For about an hour a day I fling myself from couch to couch for exercise, not an adolescent mind you. Hardly juvenile.

 

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I have a fair amount of intelligent company through the studio and it is certainly neither for a decent cup of tea or sympathy, so painting a self portrait hasn’t made me so self absorbed as to be oblivious or repulsive. Mebbe. I wonder. One always feels a bit like a freak show. Har. I’ve found writing to be a terrible chore, the sound of the words in my head just like crows up along the back street on a hot morning. Blogging seemed the stupidest thing in the world. I understood the way people felt when I told them to check out my blog and they actually had never heard the word before. Still, after resisting the temptation to perfect my nose just a tad the other day there during the third painting session in a row and barreling in for true craggy grit, when Bill phoned the other morning I had to ask him if he had any other bright ideas. He started this.

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I’ve been staying up all night and alone for the solitude. A strange way to live. One of Alan’s students is doing a paper on night hawks and the taboo surrounding the human nocturnal. There’s a lot to be said just for the certainty of a few hours without a phone call or a knock, albeit welcome, at the door. It’s hard to rake the yard in the dark too. I listen to BBC dramas and readings and plummy voices yacking away about art. The cat’s taken a liking to tea so there’s a guarded aspect to settling anywhere meditatively to read. I prowl and listen. She drinks tea. She needs to get out more.

While Billy’s been working on his self portrait he’s been writing about the joys of cancer. I’ve been going through old manuscripts on the jump drives of these last few strange years. A lot to go through.


 

I’ve listened to four poets reading from Robert Lowell last night while I was working on an under-drawing for a portrait of my friend Cleveland. Each of the readers has his own enthusiasm, the poems reveal the reader in the same sweet panging gentle thrusts that they reveal the writer. The man who reads “Skunk hour” seems at time to switch accents from syllable to syllable, just happily picking and choosing because he can and appropriately. Pleasure to listen to someone read aloud. “A savage servility slides by on grease” …that’s how Lowell described the gas guzzlers of his day. Those big finned Plymouths of my father. And he said “Pray for the grace of accuracy Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination.”

 

And then he’ll better Springsteen:

“One dark night,

my two door Ford climbed the hill’s skull,

I watched for love-cars. Lights turned down,

they lay together, hull to hull,

where the graveyard shelves on the town. . . .

My mind’s not right.

A car radio bleats,

‘Love, O careless Love . . . “

 

and too, says Robert Lowell of Alexander “..of all the kings of old he alone had the greatness to repent.”

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A few days later

 

There isn’t enough champagne to go around. The world. So they’re broadening the definition. Of champagne. Enlarging the region. Bert would love that.

Bert, grief,I think of him as a young man, a boy now, though he was my senior. I’d be in from the yard and standing washing my hands at the kitchen sink staring at a dead bee and a wishbone on a kitchen widow sill.
He’d be sitting at the kitchen table drawing deep smoke with his long fingers fanning over his calm lean face and he’d say he was doing a little inner work and smile lasciviously. Cackle. Say to c’mere.

I opened an envelope of seeds here today and found inside it a note he wrote for Gail…single yellow hollyhocks… upside down they look like little ballerinas.

If our love doesn’t make our loved ones want more life, love again, after we are gone, then it’s all bullshit.

One grows tired of welling up with love in a room on the fringes and alone measuring a carbon footprint. Oh new love, when you want some precarious beauty, some panic comfort, some clean affection with no sordid past you’ll walk the floor the way I do. You’ll tinker with your preferences.

 


 

This Just In

 

Wal-Mart announced that, on March 1, 2007, it began offering customers a new
discount item – Wal-Mart’s own brand of wine. The world’s largest retail
chain is teaming up with Ernest & Julio Gallo, Winery of California to
produce the spirits at an affordable price, in the $2- $5/ Jug range.

Wine connoisseurs may not be inclined to throw a bottle of Wal-Mart brand
into their shopping carts, but “there is a market for inexpensive wine,”
said Kathy Micken, professor of marketing at University of Arkansas,
Bentonville. She said: “But the right name is important.”

Customer surveys were conducted to determine the most attractive name for
the Wal-Mart wine brand. The top surveyed names in order of popularity were:

10. Chateau Traileur Parc

9. White Trashfindel

8. Big Red Gulp

7. World Championship Riesling

6. NASCARbernet

5. Chef Boyardeaux

4. Peanut Noir

3. I Can’t Believe it’s Not Vinegar

2. Grape Expectations

1. Nasti Spumante

The beauty of Wal-Mart wine is that it can be served with either white
meat (Possum) or red meat (Squirrel).
Remember, Wal-Mart is truly a customer oriented store! ThanX! for
shopping at Wal-Mart! Lower prices! Always!

 

 

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Later Still

I’m not a lover of poetry but there are a few poets I sometimes crave. Like the lady who first noticed the summer lawns were hissing. Hissing. I get really high one night alone after cocktails with neighborhood friends in my studio and in the rainy quiet afterward, listen to the poetry of Anne Sexton online. “Life enlarges”, she says “Life takes aim”. “I was stamped out like a plymouth fender into this world”, she says.. I’d expected a more musical voice. The American kitchen table domesticity, the jarringly pedestrian imagery had me expect a voice more coy and willing to please. Less like the grave creaking of big rigging on a quiet night sea. Must have been a helluva thing to face at breakfast.
And I closed my eyes and lay my head on my arms on my desk and the waves rocked and the voice droned and broke and rose like night birds and settled. Some drunken sybil in transport in a shawl, regal, enthralling, untouchable. “Then there was life with its cruel houses and people who seldom touch, though touch is everything.”

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The Jungian’s recently inherited adult dog is chewing its tail off. The end was gone this morning. The homeopath says it’s anger. I said “You know what that dog needs? It needs a piece of tail”, but it was a little early fin the day or my smart talk. I could tell.

I can’t say I’m lonely, or without intense and complex company. There is a measure of love in and for each face. Certainly patience.

Very early in the morning here, still dark. I woke having left on lamps up from a sad sort of grey groping ghost of a dream and lay there limp and relaxed assimilating my bodily sensations and netting thoughts. That strange sense of having many thoughts at once that move like a school of small darting fish. Warm enough I needn’t spring to the wood box in other words. The fire isn’t so much a concern these days. I am no longer much of the time covered in ash like some Biblical cretin. I was however still fully dressed as a a street musician in the Warsaw ghetto.I think I will make a real cup of coffee now, step out to replenish my wood pile here and begin to draw. Wild life.

The hall looks very good just now and is a functional work place. Gail and I have been having very agreeable talks of late, since she blew Gladys up. That was the dog. Is. The fireworks accident with drink involved. Tragedy bringing people together. (guffaws). I fear tragedy has made us cynical. It has perhaps improved us. in middle age some of us continue to test the limits of community forbearance, what a pact of amnesia, or eventually Alzheimer’s, will cover.

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She’ll be away for almost three weeks in Belize so I am facing a long time alone here without female companionship. I felt a very strong pang of gardening urge today. The early garden has tough arctic irises and such. Things to uncover gently or realize with a stunned gasp some early morning and feel like something out of the dawn of time for a second before you have to piss so bad you run on to the house and the modem and the bodem. The path stones are a mud bog midway between the house and hall.

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What a long haul of a winter it has been, though mild. I never once made it into the city for a tawdry night at the bar. I miss tattoos and multiple piercings at breakfast. I lacked someone light and reliable in public to play with. I wished the good lord would send me somebody to play with. Last year Nathan and I rather raised hell but we regret nothing. We never blew up dogs or anything even by accident. Frightened a few hippies is all. I remember one little chick he was putting the move on said to him “Hi, my name is Ariel” and he asked back just s simple as a sheep, ready to believe anything of these innocent weirdoes “Like on a car?”

 


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Anne Sexton reading

Robert Lowell

 

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~ by Rocky Green on May 8, 2007.

 
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