Home loam

Several conversations and experiences with friends along the lines of "I'm not where I grew up" have led to these thoughts. I didn't spend much time on this.

Home loam

My lungs and brain compress when in my hometown.
Every block drizzled with treacle and sour gravy.
Enough! Defy as it saps your bigness down to slavery
Until a forgotten tether tugs and summons you.
Red brown sleeping mouth draws in the box with corded tongues.
Ground fluffed stuffs it shut, you step away with others to quibble over funds.
Cede it all care for nothing,
Eager to get yourself away.
Eat as a guest with caution, deny the soil and stores that
Nourished you. Strive to not let the location of
Death define you. Vainly
Evade that someone's home loam will compost you.

Why I will see "Hercules" starring The Rock

The Nemean Lion with an invulnerable hide. OH MY FUCKING GODS, HERCULES, LOOK OUT!

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is awesome. He always elevates whatever material he's given. Brett Ratner is a mediocre director and a dimwit. Despite Ratner, I will probably go see "Hercules". Why? Four big reasons:

1.) "Conan the Barbarian" is one of the best, knowingly dumb, macho muscle movies ever made. The DVD commentary between director John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger is hilarious. The world needs a successor. I doubt it will be this movie, but it's important to keep hope alive.

2.) I had no interest in the OTHER Hercules movie that came out. Its trailer didn't seem to have anything to do with the Hercules myths at all.

Hercules wearing the skin of the Nemean Lion, which apparently shrinks in the wash.

3.) In contrast, while this looks, at best, dorky - I was pleased to see the trailer showed ACTUAL ELEMENTS from Hercules' myths including Cerebus, the Hydra, The Erymanthian Boar and Nemean Lion. ("Ah! Good!" I said aloud as these things showed up in the trailer.) Will this Hercules also clean the shit of thousands of animals that fill the Augean Stables by changing the course of a river? I HOPE SO!

4.) Way back in elementary school, I scripted out a film strip rendition of Hercules' story that I didn't complete in gifted mutant class (we called it PACE back then, later it was TAG. I don't know what PACE stood for.) so I have a desire to read/tell his story to this day. He has a reputation as a brute, but actually his saga is more about the wit and might of man overcoming the chthonic amorality of nature. And kicking ass.

Hotel points

In a hotel
I never catch a movie at the start, it is at
Two-thirds left, or half, or fifteen minutes, or credits.
I never take the whole bed. Only half, or the edge.
The stacked pillows on the other side

Bleach odors prove a person worked through,
Cleaned and folded and smoothed
This bed among dozens or hundreds today.

At times I don't want her to do extra work,
And hang Do Not Disturb on the door.
More often, to my shame,
I don't want a pickup, but want
To know another person walked through,
Did their thing, and left.
Like at a home instead of an asylum.

Once I'm in, and set my bags down,
The only laughs are mine.
The only smells are mine.
The only sighs and curses are mine.

The only browsings are mine.
The only detritus mine.
The only heart beating, steady or erratic, is mine.

The only sloth is mine.
The only staring mine.
The only rush of water is mine,
Or my neighbor's.

Complimentary bottles of water, complimentary bag of cookies, note from Juanita from Housekeeping.

Fifty Shades of Anne Gray Sexton

I finished reading Anne Sexton: A Biography by Diane Wood Middlebrook. It was insightful, and the second Sexton-related biography I read this year. The first was written by Anne Sexton's eldest daughter, Linda: Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother.

I enjoyed the Middlebrook biography more, but both played off each other well. Some thoughts:

1.) A Biography caused a stir when it was released, for outing a sexual relationship between Anne Sexton and one of her later psychiatrists. Among the immediate problems that come to mind: conducting an affair during the scheduled therapy hour as part of therapy and charging for it. Caused concern among her friends at the time, and remains an eyebrow-raiser now.

2.) More controversially, A Biography relies on many hours of recorded sessions between Anne Sexton and the main psychiatrist of her life, Dr. Martin Orne. The material was used with the permission of Linda Sexton, her mother's literary executor, and the book has a foreword by Dr. Orne to put things in context. No big deal. Auxiliary family members had a problem with it, Linda sanctioned it. Good insights resulted. Middlebrook did a good job using fragments to shed light on Sexton's life and work. 

3.) Anne Sexton's poetry started in her 20s, at the suggestion of Dr. Orne as a way to deal with her mental and emotional issues.  It helped.

4.) It is a romantic notion to regard the artist as shaman, one who has a schizophrenic break and becomes shifted from the rest of our humdrum reality. That has a bit of bearing on Sexton's creativity and productivity. Primarily, though, that romantic notion gets set aside as true blue mental illness seems an outright pain in the ass with devastating consequences for the sufferer, family, and friends. It's not that the person is ahead of his/her time so much as the wiring is off, leading to sparks of brilliance than extended short circuiting and shutdowns. The upcycle of mania may be fun. The downcycle is hellish.

5.) Middlebrook was trustworthy in both the conveyance of Sexton's life and interpretation of her art. 

6.) I admire Dr. Orne's willingness to endorse use of the confidential material, and especially admire Linda Sexton's willingness to share a variety of personally embarrassing and harrowing details in her own book and allowing Middlebrook to probe and bring things to light the rest of the family would likely object to. It mattered to understand the art.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”    

— Franz Kafka, letter to Oskar Pollak, 27-January-1904

The time I (didn't really) pass out at a bookstore

The first paragraph below is real. The other paragraphs are largely made-up.

Upstairs to the Poety & Beat Literature room. Community Bulletin Board asks questions, customers answer with Post-Its. 

Upstairs in the Poetry & Beat Literature room in the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco it was muggy, musty, but calm and infused with history. Beats! I knew little about them other than what could be gleaned from movies and television. I've not read any Kerouac and only a little Ginsberg. Gore Vidal in his memoir Palimpsest boasted of buggering Kerouac. Always the buggerer, never the buggeree. I stipulation I now know was common among homosexuals. Then, it seemed an odd and selfish admission from Vidal given his libertine reputation but typically offered few personal details.

Maybe he placed a silver dollar on Kerouac's back, who, when he caught his breath exclaimed: "I can use this!" 

Above the bookshelves, posters ran round the room of poets that listed the year of the photo. Walt Whitman. Edna St. Vincent Millay. Anne Sexton. 

A trigger was pulled and I stomped downstairs and yelled at the slight blond young man at the register with an earnest soft meticulous beard. "How can this place have a poster of Anne Sexton and not one of Sylvia Plath?" A pause. My loudness increased. "They're both American. I revere Anne Sexton. She's a personal favorite and I talk with her in dreams. But Plath is the better, stronger poet. What are the standards here? Is Plath thought of as too precious? Too much the purview of cloistered Women's Studies departments and sensitive teenage souls to be brought out for display? Break Plath free!"  I stumbled over my tongue on the last sentence and repeated is more slowly and loudly. "Break Plath free! Bring her to the Pantheon upstairs! Set her among the stars!"

I blacked out. Then I came to. I was still in the City Lights Bookstore, seated at a corner table, my head resting against a bookshelf. A paper cup of water was in front of me and I sipped from it. My courier bag was set at my feet. I dragged the main zipper open to extract my large Moleskine journal. I fetched a pen, and opened my journal to see a series of blue and red marks and edits across the 30 or so pages I had already written up. 

Violated, I looked closely and found myself agreeing with almost all the suggestions. I made faces at the excess of added commas. I am a devotee of the Oxford comma, but loathe when commas are added to indicate a pause as if in a speech. Not necessary. Ruins the flow. 

I took myself, the cup of water, my bag, my pen, and my emended journal and exited the bookstore, placing a dollar in the tip jar for art, shame, and karma.