Monday, December 13, 2010

Wastefully So.

if you don't use it--you lose it, it only took 4 weeks for the vines to reclaim this disabled vehicle.

Snow covers summer sins and fall neglect, street silent and frigid, geese are gone; happy holidays! At a time when turkey leftovers hunker in the freezer till the dog is out of dog food, and the ham turns to salt and leather, I reflect upon the effect of abundance. No I don't have a dog, and I eat our own recycled fowl till Easter, thank you!. The material over-abundance is harder to deal with and not so pleasurable.

Yesterday, I noticed the impressive metal machines from Veolia waste management groaning along the neighborhood under the mass and weight of a sudden surge in curbside mounds of refuse. Refuse indeed, walking by the small hills of cardboard boxes full of garbage, I witnessed the usual disregard for possessions, a new word should be found for such—waste.

Electronics, appliances, lamps and brooms among the near new, and quite likely still usable items, discarded in expectation of some fabulous Santa person's generosity. All standing in the cold morning, cracking plastic in the dawn of obsolescence. Last year's microwave, never used gizmo, banged up game boy—oh well? Whose money was it anyway? No, not money—resources...

Yes resources, other people's resources blaring a decadent message for all to hear in the middle of the street. And no one to see that, cars veer aside to avoid the blowing paper, the baby blanket and the roast flavored tin foil on the pavement. Family secrets spill out of many a torn black plastic monstrosity, flapping feminine wares, and half used toiletries.

What harm? What business? No, no concern of anyone's, but it does end up jamming and clogging the whole living organism we call society—in the end. What one person consumes, becomes a unit multiplied by each and everyone—multiplied by the complexity of raw material, plus manufacturing, plus transporting in all phases, plus storage, plus distribution, then arriving at retail and accounting. Finally resting in it's not so final place, the object spends a more or less brutal part of its cycle, for more or less time in a home.

And then—the object of disappointment approaches its apotheosis as rejected matter, back to nature in its glorious trip through a big ugly crushing jaw, to some mysterious vacant hole in the ground, far away. It leaches heavy metals or plasticized residues into the ground water, burps gases back to the skies and dies in toxic decay. While somebody, somewhere is repeating the mining, the polluting, the trucking motions to reproduce a marketable, improved version of the same said gadget.

Does any consumer truly consider the impact of such busy practices, the enormity of mass production? And the personal disregard for the very source of such behavior? Well maybe not on the streets I pass. And according to the numbers I read on the planet's condition and availability of goods, not enough fully use what they want, what they buy and what they throw away.

The trouble with the away concept is that away is only as far as the curb...out of sight—out of care. Too much to do to worry about what happens to the fully plastic vacuum, the cadmium battery or the cleaning fluid. Gone and out of mind for most, and onto the next purchase. But where does that come from? Where does the money come from? And where does it all go?

In economic downturns, I would assume that more care is invested in nurturing the nest egg and appreciating the possessions. The running figures in day-glow vests carting glass and wood, plastic and metal know the extent of tonnage aiming for the landfills and the seas. Perhaps the repetitive gestures of their physical jobs hold nothing but the single purpose of providing for a family, but I feel sure that they witness the frivolity of waste in these dire times.

You don't need an environmental science degree to notice the occurrence of toxic damage upon the immediate neighborhood, any body of water near you can demonstrate the degrading quality of what was once deeply satisfying. Clear streams, pleasant back roads, healthful places. Okay, so the boy-scouts keep a highway mile clean, a local club dutifully scours the lake sides twice a year; but we can't hide from the oily fishing spot, the cluttered wood sides. Stuff everywhere. Our stuff, our junk...shameless collective overflow.

There is help, I routinely search the no-nonsense blogs for inspiration to use-re-use and re-purpose any item. Although experience and ingenuity work well together. It takes less time to make do than to make.
Here's a link to a real wealth of useful, ever widening information. This family practices what it learns. And learns to practice what is best. 

 stove fodder or collage? personal postcard.

Colder Than!

Colder Than...

Zero degrees outside and going down. well, i' m not afraid of peeping toms tonight...

Not that i would show fear in the event of someone lurking to satisfy a primal urge, but the poor fellow would

freeze his mustache to the window panes if he ventured out this fine Canadian evening.

No, i didn't say i live in Canada, rather the air from there has taken leave of the Inuit and moved southward

without papers. Wind chills snap the top of my head and bite like a tenacious wolverine, my gloves shake

and nip at my fingers, my sheepskin boots hug my deadened toes.

I run on frozen snow to return from an errand, i didn't want to use the poor old car, it's too cold for that!

So what would a voyeur do out on such an eyeball stripping evening? Whatever he would believe he could

find within, he would be disappointed by the thickness of my snuggle-wear. As i would peel the

camp-ground certified polyfiber robe from my reluctant body, a smooth arctic vest would hide form and

revelation. As i would divest myself of this layer, another would spoil the view from the seeker; warmies

asunder, i would shudder in a generic no style gown of purest oft washed flannel. And turn off the light.

Oh, to save electricity of course, and wash in the dark, soap lathers better in front of the heater. Toothpaste

foams sweeter in the half light of the green phosphorus night bulb. And flesh stands firm against reviving


Too cold to push the lap blanket away, so i' ll commune with the laptop till the fireplace demands attention.

Below zero now, expected to be -29 soon, and i remember worse times in my temperate home in France.

When the hot water bottle froze at our feet on unforgiving mornings. When the blue stove ate all of a

summer's wood gathering in a brutal month. When we huddled in bed with mittens to read all day between

stirring the stew or feeding the fire.

Too cold to think, if you are chilling tonight, send a warm thought to stave off chilblains scratching at my

heels. The tall and stately ceilings of this fortress do nothing for the writer's soul, pure inconvenience in bad

weather. No use thinking of summer breeze and foreign beaches, imagination ill serves me in times of

body alert...i refuse to venture in the bastions of my cerebral ballast where i have stashed memories untold.

Too crisp out there to visit on such a night as this.

The last ice storm tore the electric pole and left many of us sans electricity. Oh, that means time to read the

orphaned books by candlelight, with gloves and scarves, the best of wintry fashion. The chickens have

hunkered into straw, the cat has found my lap, all's well in the Midwest where the buffalo roams in my

galloping heart and the coyotes are smart enough to curl up in the lair.

Woolen socks, now that's better.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The High Price of Beans

The Price of Beans.
My jaw snapped, sending a sharp stab through my tongue, suddenly thrown back to the now of it, I stood up and saw myself. The backpack was slung open in the morning sun, I stirred, grit in teeth and eyes rimmed with dried tears, my puny reality lay there for all to see. All flies and ants, all lizards and crows.

What was I, woman, mother, doing in a boxcar, in the rail-yards of East Los Angeles? The boys were awake, silent. They knew no one must see us- no one must know of a family living in the turn around. Compton was not the place where you dare sleep, or eat peacefully. We were rabbits in a land of wolves.

I signaled my sons to look around, explored the immediate surroundings and slid behind a wagon ...relaxed and hungry I then attended the day...We were to function and hide. One by one we picked beans from the carrier floor, in the cloth bag, five, ten pounds later, we gathered wood close to the tracks. Ever vigilant and aware, we had a pile of rotten boards, branches from a lone tree by the far tracks, discarded toys, handles and papers.

I had to cook the beans, the wood so dry, very little smoke escaped, clean bright flames jumped and fanned the fears, ever present around us. I had one gallon of water left, one pot, enamel, blue and a wooden spoon, two bay leaves and a sprig of artemesia I had picked earlier. The raw smell of legumes rose and teased, and scared me.

I took the last bit of salt pork, passing it under their noses, little button noses, smiling back and wrinkled in tacit knowledge...We were going to eat, real warm, real food. How much does happiness cost? A glance, a finger across lips, a secret.

Before the beans were done, we wiped our tin dishes, each, slowly, eyes watching every angle, we dodged and sank into the railroad car when a pick-up from Union Pacific veered at the end of the open yard. Soon to disappear in the vast sea of discarded and debilitated wagons waiting for repair or vintage status. A pigeon suddenly flapped and fear returned to make its presence known.

I killed the fire and brought the large pot inside, in the corner where view was blocked by the sliding doors, we ate, one bite, one slow, slurped spoonful at a time. One look and seconds were in order, a cup, plus another, and then we saved some. Sun was about to set when I heard scuffles, screams, shouts. Men' s voices came closer and closer. I had a choice—to run or to hide— I looked at the boys, stuffed with the first meal in two days, and I knew.

I motioned them to lay flat and silent in the dark recess, counted about how many cars were between the approaching trouble and placed my bag, my steele and me close to the open way. On knees, I peered, ready to leap. A few lights came on in the distance, the city was stirring for nightlife. Cars roared on the street, shots rang, bottles were thrown, muffled sounds of strife and anger.

Suddenly steps ran, not far from us, someone yelling, someone hurting, my heart pumping, my feet cramping, a loud sensory landscape exploding, and my hand held high in silencing stillness. People murmuring urgently, going away, away to the gates, to the streets. Flashlights dying somewhere.

The smell of beans clung to the heavy night air, the boys and I hugged in a mass of warm bodies, sweating the waning fear from our pores—our secret. The headline claimed some unidentified male was found near the East LA turn around, we chose to move before being found. No shelter for us!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cabin Fever

No  Hunting sign on privy. Turn left at pheasant cage.

Cabin Fever

 As geese vee overhead and snowbirds flutter in the naked quince, i drag an old note with tight scribbles of

a lurching pencil and fading mind chronicling the ravages of neurotic frostbite.

this staccato poem has been performed in universities and between the black walls of cultural dives,

against spare musical background or guttural solo scratches.

here, alive and relevant, revised and insolent, a universal day by day tribute to indoor weather.

Cabin Fever

12 by 12:

White all over - heavy ceiling twelve feet high - the cold walls - sweating slimy lime - snow on the sill - ice on

the panes - cold on the news - smoke from the stone suspended in gray currents above stale air - pale -

pale white - pale gray - like your face - like my mind - do you like me?

11 by 11:

Gray couch - open to sleep in - blue blanket - you shiver - a chair - a desk - I ponder alone across the

linoleum we laid over the bare concrete - an insult to ancient walls - the spirits are restless - are you bored?

10 by 10:

The cat between us - I wish I were the cat - purring belly up - the radio speaks French - squeaks shortwave

noise then barks German - it’s dark outside now - you hang the shutters on the door - I close the curtains -

stuff rags in the cracks - shut - shudder - close - closer.

9 by 9:

Your tail just twitched - did you shut the stove lid? Today is Tuesday - yes, the thirteenth - mail must have

come today - I think - silence you read - a ball comes rolling across the floor with a cat on it - I grin as balls

fall off the holly twigs left over from would-be decor- do you love me?

8 by 8:

The front room shrinks as the gap across the floor widens - we inflate - Cerberus stands at the door

dressed in silent whites - can you hear me? - bladder calling - the back door is still there - the garden path

is frozen and the outhouse still stands - do you care?

7 by 7:

The house is reduced to one room - one wood stove - is this Alaska or Southwest France? A lush

temperate zone with a Scandinavian breath of fresh air - Ah, you stirred - fingers shaking - Eagle-Eye here,

watching for signs of life.

6 by 6:

Getting tense - radio wave off - cat on duty - outside coming in through the keyholes - white night moon

awake - coffee surplus - nerves astir - unspent - solitary confinement a deux - cozy fireside chats and other

impossible dreams - getting romantic - good luck.

5 by 5:

Seventh day like this - are there lots of divorces in Alaska? - do they bother to marry in the cold? - are we

in love still? - oh - you coughed - you are alive - you get up - find an English-speaking station - stir the fire -

you stir me - the stew smells good - I am alive!

4 by 4:

What? - what is it? - you can’t stand my constant writing? -  I don’t hate your constant reading! smile? - oh

okay -  is the air getting heavy? - is there any air? Air - I mean - full - the eyes - brim - the nostrils - soft the

sounds - did we die?

3 by 3:

Green eyes - still beautiful - I’m tired - going to be ugly - I can’t hide - can’t hide from your big green eyes

that hide from me - I am tired.

2 by2

Eat stew till I bloat - till my brown eyes bulge - till the last crumb – the last word - till doom.

1 by 1:

You and I alone - together - is it love? Is it sex? - is it nerves or do you need me at all? I cry through dry eyes

- kiss my chapped lips - quickly before the mailman finds our bones.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mind Over Meat

Upon entering a writer's venue, i feel as if i were caught up in a surprise bachelor party, and i can't find the

exit. I am a bit overdressed and undermade, no fluff, no glitter. Glamour does not enter my lexicon,

romance bumps against my sensitivities and sensualia is my not so secret. I shun the use of four letter

words, my f words range between feel and fear, i am not fond of the expression having fun. No, i simply

walked into the wrong medium at the right time.

Could the writer sense the different mental planes at work here? words like underused and lonely crop up

from the pool, not paranoid, not fragile. Ego, stored up high on the shelf; it knows that, left to my scribbling,

i may eventually express all within, instead of impressing all without.

This writing life appears a bit bloggish since i migrated my logorrheic efforts, the freedom of subject

choice seems, uh? Subjective. I am swept by the whoosh of overwhelming current. The best list carries a

large percentage of men exercising their bragging rights and women flexing their hunting muscles. So, a

cliche apart, i am neither male, nor huntress. Mind over meat, should i swim upstream or drown in the

current current?.

While i tentatively sniff niches, i am establishing a novel route overland and overseas, seeking evidence of

intelligentsia. And yes i have found it, buried under piles of tantalizing and enticing tales, i follow the

comment trails and discover astute readers and co-writers of the thinking ilk. Talent is sure to carve a timid

path among the needful throngs.

When all the qualitative ratio has been entered, one site seems no better, nor worse than another, just a

different home for various styles. Entertaining or stimulating, most writers have so much to share in a more

or less literary genre. Discretion being a minor virtue and kindness a major attribute, it is best to refrain

from gossip in the ball court.

Pet names and clever-clever pseudonyms may empower the timid, they provide useful cover for the

vengeful and the revelatory. However, anonymity offers little justice to the serious writer. Hidden identities

detract from the boldness of truth. Truth, the wide spectrum lenses of authoritative vision. It sneaks under

guise of freedom of speech, under cover of freedom of information. It assumes shapes in the reader's

perception, mobile, malleable.

I found concerned moralists, caring religionists and passionate atheists within the ranks of the web. Shy or

loud, in praise or protest, each digging at the essential human crust, once formed of silence and now,

loosened upon the globe in incremental word count. Gone the limits of propriety, when women were kept

busy, men were enchained to the paycheck and ideas died in the bedsheets of boredom.

In my short time of crawling out of incomputerate existence, i have grown some pride in elbowing the

literate cyber-community, i have embraced fine writing and refined conscience, i have shunned the

cyber-sluts and the psychic leeches, no, no, i do not mean, these pretty little things dressed in pretty little

things. I mean predatory trollers of lost ideals. The ones who hunger for fragile emotional systems and

jeopardize relationships through veiled identity. yet, they have provided me with necessary perspective

and patience. For this i am also grateful. Witnessing human theater through a controllable screen has

given me wider vision of the universality of drama.

We all need the nourishing atmosphere of the masters of language who help us carry the culture to a kinder

level. Did i say kind? Whether written in a cathartic fit or an artistic fiesta, the object of the logos is to

dispense experience to the creative diaspora out there. So, engage the subconscious, be selfish!. When

at the quietest of moments, a thought comes upon you, find a pen, gently, so as not to startle the idea, for it

may never visit this way again, not in the same form, not in these very words, ever.

Verve will evaporate if you open your mouth. The tiny leaks of momentary glory will ooze the plot out,

piecemeal if you satisfy the questions with any answer about your writing themes. Sensuous or lyrical,

serious or satirical, show, don't tell?. So, mind hermetically sealed against vicarious seepage, keyboard at

the ready? i am eager to nestle among the quasi anonymity of the literary web-mass awaiting out there.

Meat, may provide you with empiric, sensory memory of the flesh, but the cryptic mind will decode the rest.

Dictate to your fingers, release the pressure of unspent enthusiasm, never to divulge the whole story till it

appears on screen for the intended audience. Thank you for relieving me of my cyber-social duties, for

deflating my pockets of guilt. Words can pull the ballast out of the writer's plexus. But, readers have the

power to restore the balance.