Chimera Song Mosaic
Monday, September 27, 2004
(Postdate this Thought: One Week--Or So--Ago)

There is some collusion evidenced in the two books I am reading:

"Also . . . there ought to be one place you thought about and knew about and maybe longed for --but never did get to see." --"The Bear Came Over the Mountain," Alice Munro

"It was not enough to have / The very thing you love / / Just for an attendant while, not even in that place / / Where you could not stand / To be civilized."
--"Another Night in Khartoum," from Trouble in Mind, by Lucie Brock-Broido

And now I can shut both those books. If anyone's wondering where I am, it's just the semester, my number one excuse. This is not written for my own benefit (or is it?) but for others who might wonder why I am so nontalkative these days. The first one was for me. Now I can shut these books. And open this one:

"Grandpa-uncle caught a great rui fish that sent up sprays of rainbow water as it leaped and thrashed at the end of his line. When he cut its stomach open, there was a silver ring inside. Grandpa-uncle didn't say anything, but I could tell that even he was excited." --"The Bats," from Arranged Marriage, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I'm practically addicted to short story collections right now, and between this and Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, there was After the Quake, by Haruki Murakami, with meticulous, yet impressionistic characterization. Even so, my group is reading Wittgenstein's Mistress for discussion next week, so there's so much to excerpt (really, one should read the book), much of the beginning landscape cannily tracing my same travels through parts of Europe and Asia, a story about Rembrandt's students painting lifelike coins on the studio floor to fool their master's eye (he would bend to pick them up--this story reminds me of the story about the fish with the ring in his belly), and this, too:

"Once, I had a dream of fame.

Generally, even then, I was lonely.

Later today I will possibly masturbate."

--Wittgenstein's Mistress, David Markson

Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Name Tag

I suppose it was a must, this happenstance
calligraphy of fixtures, furtive and hermetic
molded in molecules, a photographic factioning
and all the chromosomes make up fragments
adding up to not even a fraction of how much you are ignored.
Ghost in the pillowcase, no, ghost in premises
a radical leave-taking, mutton-dumb and finger-deft
notes and signs adding up to not even a fraction
of how you are mourned. Notes in the coffin, fumbled and succumbed
a star nosed mole your sole benefactress--
Can I reckon? If so, chemically. I always did like the Blackcoats
'Bessed. O they bumble and preserve. A cleft
in the manger, tub in the ransom, holly-margined
and patterned forever like this. Drub. drub.

Do you ever feel like this about your own writing? -->

"There was a danger . . . [i]t was the danger of seeing my life through other eyes than my own. Seeing it as an ever-increasing roll of words like barbed wire, intricate, bewildering, uncomforting--set against the rich productions, the food, flowers, and knitted garments, of other women's domesticity."
--from "Family Furnishings" in Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, by Alice Munro

It doesn't have to be specific to women, of course; let's say, bringing home the bacon.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004
I am laboring under a terrific despondency right now. That and the god-killing loneliness. And somehow a general lack of nourishment. Education?

Would that I could. I'm not sure how to submit.

Saturday, September 04, 2004
Something to detect (start small):

My hair is brown with luscious bits of gold and even red. It is darker than most oak surfaces.

I had become accustomed to swimming alone but then after a few weeks of companionship I don't know quite how to begin on my own but then I realized I would be the only one disturbing the current.

It's most similar, I guess, to mahogany, but it will be grey soon. Then I will stop owning distinguishing characteristics. One grows accustomed to losing one's place in the community.

First, it started with the name, although that probably wasn't the first thing.

Chicken and Spinach Parmesan

I agree with what Tony says about Fence's inclusion of the young boy's poems(go to the last part of the post).

And even further, I can't stop wondering how these poems came to Fence: Is the magazine just lying around this young man's parents' apartment (don't they seem like they would be city dwellers to have such refined tastes?), and he just thought he'd send the poems in on a whim? Or did he blanket the independent literary journals with his submissions last year? What exactly attracted him to Fence in the first place.

You see, it would all make more sense if he sent them to someplace obvious, like Poetry or The New Yorker (maybe he did, and they rejected him?). How many times were this young man's poems rejected before they were accepted? Didn't it make more sense to him to try Highlights?

Perhaps he simply has an uncanny sense of where his poems belong and must be placed. This is what we're all looking for, of course, but this kid might be some kind of Rocking Horse Winner.

Friday, September 03, 2004
I began Plainwater in San Miguel de Allende the last night of our roadtrip when my dad was subjecting us to hours and hours of the fishing channel at a very loud volume. My mom was curled up in the covers, Lance kept saying that the shows were very boring because nobody ever caught anything, and I decided that the family vacation was over and pulled out a book (this book).

Somehow it seems important to link what I am reading now with what I was reading in my other life, the life of the summer, the unemployed, free life. We had made a whirlwind visit to Zacatecas (2 nights), where we toured the mines, drank in a bar in the mine's depths, cabbaged on to someone else's quincenera celebration (a callejoneda through the streets at night following a bunch of partiers and a burro decked out in flowers and shouldering a barrel of mezcal-fortified lemonade, which the guy handling the burro graciously gave me a huge tumbler of), checked out the catherdrals, a fabulous mural in the Palacio de Gobierno (by Antonio Rodriguez, which depicts the history of Zacatecas, remarkable also for the stone roots arching into the painting itself, twisting up into images of corn plants and labor), viewed some art galleries and fantastic museums, and rode the cable car to the Cerro de la Bufa. We spent only one night in Guanajuato, where we rode the funicular, ate delicious food, listened to mariachis, mostly hung out (we didn't have time this trip for a visit to the wonderful Museo Iconografico del Quijote--all Don Quixote, all the time). Also visited El Incendio, a cantina that supposedly welcomes women--but my mom felt a little out of place when a man got up and used the urinal at the end of the bar. Then one night in San Miguel, where we shared a room at a very cute motel filled with gardens. There wasn't much time to see the town, and heavy rains kept us in the room most of the day and much of the night. I was promised a visit to the hot springs the next morning on our way out of town, but of course I caved under pressure. My mom and dad liked San Miguel de Allende so much that my dad announced we were going to stay another night, but after a couple of hours of the fishing channel, I started complaining loudly, as usual. I couldn't help it. A handful of times in my life, I have been unable to stop myself from ruining everything.

I don't really remember the last time I felt homesickness as acutely as I do now. Never when I travel, but when I have stopped moving and can ache for an alternate permanence. I have lived in the Valley for five years now, and although I love so many things about it (friends, new house, laid back life), I want to move to Houston so badly I think about it almost every day. But a good deal of self-preparation would need to be undertaken in order to ready myself for such a move, a homecoming. I don't know if I'm up for it.

Thursday, September 02, 2004
I am only posting because I think I must at this point or else risk not doing it again ever at all. Needless to say, the semester has started, and that has left me somewhat bankrupt (but with the delicious excuse not to write). I had some momentum at some point. I tried, but I gave up trying to figure out how to put an adjustable font-size button on my site. Then after weeks of not even looking at any kind of blog, I finally started reading them again, and have been enjoying myself, just taking things in and not posting. That's what I am doing right now, taking things in. Reading literary journals straight through (a luxury I can never afford during the school year). I finished Anna Karenina, read the St. Petersburg Times I brought back with me, cover to cover, old subscriptions, lots of stunning chapbooks (so great for one sitting!), and two things I cannot get out of my head: Anne Carson's Plainwater (which I refuse to finish because I want to extend the pleasure) and A. S. Byatt's Little Black Book of Stories (which I didn't particularly enjoy while I was reading it, but now cannot forget--particularly the one where the lady turns to stone--such stone nodules, gorgeous organisms!). With all these rich dishes--research and excavation--you would think I would have more to show for it, or at least some gumption, art, or authority. But no. I have been probing, and there is nothing to detect.

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