"My Mother" by Frieda Hughes, a daughter's love & fury

"[My mother] wasted nothing of what she felt" — Frieda Hughes, daughter of poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

I'm reading Ariel: The Restored Edition by Sylvia Plath. Published in 2004, it presents the full set of poems that Sylvia Plath intended for her collection Ariel. Initially, Sylvia Plath's widower, poet Ted Hughes, had removed 12 poems from Ariel when published in 1965, two years after Plath's suicide, mostly because they were directed at particular family members and friends that would have been hurtful. He selected 12 other poems and an introduction by poet Robert Lowell. The Restored Edition removes the 12 Ted Hughes added and restores the 12 Plath left in a black notebook with her manuscript.

This book has a facsimile of her manuscript with several edits by Plath. It's interesting to look at her notations and process.

Ted Hughes & Sylvia Plath

Some people who project themselves into Sylvia Plath's poetry and biography have long viewed Hughes as a misogynistic villain looking to suppress his gifted wife. Frieda Hughes, one of Plath & Hughes' daughters, defends her father throughout the Forward:

In considering Ariel for publication my father had faced a dilemma. He was well aware of the extreme ferocity with which some of my mother's poems dismembered those close to her — her husband, her mother, her father, and my father's uncle Walter, even neighbors and acquaintances. He wished to give the book a broader perspective in order to make it more acceptable to readers, rather than alienate them. He felt that some of the nineteen late poems, written after the manuscript was completed, should be represented. "I simply wanted to make the best book I could," he told me.

All of the poems Ted Hughes removed showed up in Plath's Collected Poems, published in 1981 and edited by Ted Hughes. In that book, Ted Hughes listed the original poems in Ariel that Plath had left in her manuscript.

My father had a profound respect for my mother's work in spite of being one of the subjects of its fury. For him the work was the thing, and he saw the care of it as a means of tribute and a responsibility.

Frieda Hughes then becomes devastating toward family interlopers. It took me a long time to read Sylvia Plath because oa cult of possession and preciousness got in the way of my ability to value the work (and I struggle with poetry anyway — and, okay, this silly-ass reason, too). But this section provided a direct connection where she sums up people who attack her father and reshape her mentally imbalanced and astonishingly talented mother into a golem:

But the point of anguish at which my mother killed herself was taken over by strangers, possessed and reshaped by them. The collection of Ariel poems became symbolic to me of this possession of my mother and of the wider vilification of my father. It was as if the clay from her poetic energy was taken up and versions of my mother made out of it, invented to reflect only the inventors, as if they could possess my real, actual mother

The Forward is fascinating. With thought and care it fans away the fog of melodrama. It tethered me from a person still living to passionate, caring, flawed people. On the role of her father, Frieda Hughes sums up:

When she died leaving Ariel as her last book, she was caught in the act of revenge, in a voice that had been honed and practiced for years, latterly with the help of my father. Though he became a victim of it, ultimately he did not shy away from its mastery.

Frieda Hughes, a painter and a writer with several volumes, maintains that she did not read either parent's poetry until she was 35, save for a few instances where her father read children's verse to her or played recordings. She wanted to establish her own identity away from her parents' work. Intellectually, avoiding your famous parents' poems is possible. When they came up as a subject of study, Frieda says she was able to develop another course of study with her tutors. Bad marks would be devastating, good marks would lead to her being thought as having an advantage. Though, Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence howls at this claim at decades-long avoidance. Frieda Hughes in a speech also describes holding her mother's books in bookstores, presumably without opening them, thinking of what if her mother had lived, and setting the books down and leaving.

Frieda Hughes wrote the furious poem "My Mother" on the verge of the movie Sylvia, a BBC production starring Gwyneth Paltrow released in 2003. Frieda Hughes, her mother's literary executor after the death of her father in 1998, denied the use of her mother's poetry in the film. Biography can add color to art, but there's a balance to be struck between sublime absorption and ghoulishness.

MY MOTHER

by Frieda Hughes

They are killing her again.
She said she did it
One year in every ten,
But they do it annually, or weekly,
Some even do it daily,
Carrying her death around in their heads
And practising it. She saves them
The trouble of their own;
They can die through her
Without ever making
The decision. My buried mother
Is up-dug for repeat performances.

Now they want to make a film
For anyone lacking the ability
To imagine the body, head in oven,
Orphaning children. Then
It can be rewound
So they can watch her die
Right from the beginning again.

The peanut eaters, entertained
At my mother’s death, will go home,
Each carrying their memory of her,
Lifeless – a souvenir.
Maybe they’ll buy the video.

Watching someone on TV
Means all they have to do
Is press ‘pause’
If they want to boil a kettle,
While my mother holds her breath on screen
To finish dying after tea.
The filmmakers have collected
The body parts,
They want me to see.
They require dressings to cover the joins
And disguise the prosthetics
In their remake of my mother.
They want to use her poetry
As stitching and sutures
To give it credibility.
They think I should love it –
Having her back again, they think
I should give them my mother’s words
To fill the mouth of their monster,
Their Sylvia Suicide Doll,
Who will walk and talk
And die at will,
And die, and die
And forever be dying.

Published in The Stonepicker and The Book of Mirrors

Thank u, Prince

Prince often came across as a kook, but mostly he worked and played and danced his ass off to help people get their heads straight.

When a contemporary artist dies, if we have carried that person's work along a span of our lives our reaction to that death is interwoven with our personal memories. The truncation of the artist's life cuts a hashmark into the branch of our own life. No new art will accompany our life as if the artist continues to compose with us in mind. There is past art to be reviewed, and perhaps art to be uncovered despite what may be the artist's intent to keep it hidden. But the living conversation with the artist stops. We engage the artist as a ghost, or pretend the ghost is there as we converse indirectly with ourselves.

1983 was a miracle year for me. Somehow, at the age of 14, I shifted from listening to Abba (dorky, but wonderfully crafted) and Air Supply (dorky, flat-out, though I try to make a case they are darker than you think) to Prince and The Police. As a pimply, gangly, 14 year-old with braces - being cool or, really, having any idea what the heck was going on anywhere remained far down the road. As a white kid in Eugene, Oregon chances I would be exposed to anything non-white or sophisticated were dim. I had a faint sense of Prince beforehand, mostly from an album cover that made him look like a Breck girl with a mustache.

Breck Girl (left), Breck Boy (right)

Breck Girl (left), Breck Boy (right)

I had heard the song "1999" and liked it. Then I saw the video and, well, rather than make 14 year-old-me seem more eloquent, my reaction was essentially: "What is going on? This is crazy! I think I like this. A lot." I got the album after latching on to "Little Red Corvette" and determining well, whatever this dude was doing, he did it two songs in a row and it was awesome and I should check it out more songs.

Prince 1999 - Record One, Side 1: "1999", "Little Red Corvette", "Delirious"

1999 was double album. Four sides of vinyl. His eye at the center of the platter where the spindle went. Music that was exuberant, horny, deep, wrenching, playful about lust and Armageddon and psychological complexes and visions of a better unified world that could come together even if it doesn't happen until the world's ending. I recorded the album onto a cassette tape, then listened to it over and over on my Walkman knock-off many nights when I should have been asleep. Soaked it in.

Then went backwards into his work and liked his albums Prince and For You, but really absorbed Dirty Mind and Controversy almost as deeply as 1999.

Conformity was oppressive in the 1980s. The Reagan presidency was both a product of it and fostered it. The nation was moony-eyed over the illusion that the 1950s was a great time. Not a good time to be a minority. Not a good time to be homosexual. In the 1980s tens of thousands of people were dying from AIDS in the U.S. as the President remained silent. His braintrust and allies sniggered behind the scenes, and sometimes in front of cameras and microphones, about the "gay cancer" as something the victims deserved.

Prince's strangeness, "Am I black or white, am I straight or gay?" in the realm of his music and performances all came across as entirely normal. That realm was a better place to be.

Prince, Bryant Junior High B-Ball Team

There were scarcely any black people in Eugene. Gender lines generally were strongly marked and never broken openly. Yet here was this person in a confident mid-point. Mixed-race, if that phrase has much meaning. A short guy who played junior high and high school basketball. A man dressed in bikini briefs, high heels, eyeliner, in touch with his feminine side and primped to within an inch of his life, yet one of the most masculine forces ever to take the stage. Like a tornado or hurricane. He seemed to say: "You know nothing, kid. But that's okay. Be yourself. Let others be themselves. Let's all mingle, we're all we've got, and let's all be funky."

Taking in all of his music up to 1999 primed me for Purple Rain in 1984. I got the album right away. And... the movie that came out in July 1984...?

I was stuck in Boise that summer, and at age 15 had no ride to a movie theater who could accompany me to a rated-R movie. I didn't see the movie until EARLY SEPTEMBER. The world had moved on by then, and I was a huge fan struggling to catch up in an almost empty theater. My frustration remains palpable to this day. Though feeling sly about getting into a rated-R movie alone gave some solace.

The movie was exciting, but clearly bags full of dumb that even I could detect at 15. However, it was electric that the world was catching on to Prince. Roger Ebert listed Purple Rain among his top 10 films for that year. When it came out on VHS, I bought a copy at my beloved Earth River Records in Eugene and watched it over and over. Especially during two following summers in Boise. I kept count and viewed Purple Rain over 50 times. I had no illusions about it being a great film, or even a good one beyond the performance sequences, but I was fond of it and absorbed it with adolescent intensity. It takes little to trigger my memory and start reciting minutes of dialog.

Yesterday, driving in rush hour the day of Prince's death, I recalled that once when my house was empty of family as a teen I put a black light bulb in a lamp in the living room, turned off all other lights, and danced & pantomimed to the entire "Purple Rain" album. I might have been in a t-shirt and shorts. More likely it was just in tighty whities (we lived in the country so passers-by were unlikely). I smiled in modern-day rush hour at this nerdiness. Then I realized this was probably at some point after I had started dating, against the odds and perhaps in defiance of Nature, one of the coolest girls in the high school. That I did this after having at least gotten to third base, possibly all the way around the bases, made it even funnier and I started laughing out loud. Skinny kid in white briefs, miraculously a player.

I stuck with the following zillion albums devotedly. Around the World in a Day, Under the Cherry Moon (and its esoteric and weirdly charming movie), Sign o' the Times, The Black Album (unreleased for years, snatched a bootleg), Lovesexy, Batman, Graffiti Bridge, Diamonds and Pearls, O(+>, Come. His side projects and protegees as soon as I heard of them. Of course, the fun Jill Jones album. Yes, I can also defend Carmen Electra's album. Apollonia had charm, but didn't her thin singing sound like she was yawning all the time?

In 1988 (or was it 1990?) at a summer camp job at a college campus, I was a dorm counselor who was also the camp dance disk jockey. In a dormitory loading dock (Carson Hall) on the concrete upper deck that I had to myself I did a rehearsed dance to "Alphabet St.". White billowy shirt. Tight black pants. Even did a hurdler's stretch split on the ground and bounced back up. It was fun. The kids really liked it, as they often liked seeing grown-ups let down their guard. I think fellow staff liked it. I know that I loved it, got lost in the song and let Dionysus take over with an abandon I have rarely allowed since.

I would not hazard a split like that again, but I do practice the other moves in private from time to time. Don't ask me, though, I'll probably blush.

As adulthood waxed, music became a less intense experience for a while. But I bought all the albums. Crystal Ball (a lot of past material from his vault), Emancipation, and The Rainbow Children remain favorites. 3121 and Musicology also stood out as albums I enjoyed but didn't absorb, though I couldn't tell definitively how much of this period was Prince phoning it in (he seemed to be conveying songs, not being within the song) or my not being as enthusiastic for music. Probably a little of both.

But Prince remained productive, even if his agon was not as strong, music was his essence.

The last couple of years were great ones for Prince. His heart was back into his music, and he was having fun and continued to challenge the forces of power. Art Official Age was playful. His 3rdEyeGirl project with three female musician partners was a blast. Hit 'n' Run Phase One and Phase Two had great spirit and social conscience. His song "Baltimore" last year to take on the beating death of Freddie Gray is among Prince's many career highlights. The energy behind it is strong.

His messiah moods irked me. Former bandmates are chock full of stories about him conferring blessings, pretending to have a pathway to higher existence he could confer to others. That he became a Jehovah's Witness was dorkily inevitable. But while listening to his music the day of his death, I realized that even his desire to be a conduit to magical experiences was driven to make things better for people. He wasn't trying to trick anyone for his material gain or terrestrial power as we see in so many others.

His songs on erotic matters were almost fully an interplay of equals. Perform for me, I'll perform for you. I like your mind, but let's not talk right now. Okay, I'll shut up, too, so you can do your thing to me.

After typing the last few sentences it may be fun to take one of his lust paeans and neuter it by translating the lyrics to be square:

Act ur age mama, not ur shoe size and maybe we can do the twirl.
U don't have 2 watch Dynasty 2 have an attitude.
Just leave it all up 2 me. My love will be, will be ur fool.
- "Kiss"
Behave at a level appropriate to your chronological attainment to assist our erotic compatibility.
To develop a sense of stylish self-possession does not require study of tony pop culture touchstones.
Delegate the burden to me, and I will engage you with respectful humility.

And, as autonomous as he was and often playing most or all of the instruments and many of his albums, he was a collaborator. He liked to share music, he liked cultivating other artists, and took joy in making music happen and fostering happiness.

Skimming over his 700+ songs of his that I have (all the studio albums, all the officially released live recordings, many Napster-era live bootlegs), it strikes me that Prince never mastered how to incorporate rap into his music. He tried as himself. He tried through male rappers. But tellingly he got the best flows from women. Two examples popped up while shuffle playing his tracks over the last day. Sheila E. in "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night" and Cat Glover in the album cut of "Alphabet St." Of the lyrics encountered in the first day following Prince's death these fun but still sincere lyrics sum up a lot of Prince's ethos:

Talk 2 me lover, come on tell me what u taste. / Didn't ur mama tell u life is 2 good 2 waste? / Did she tell u Lovesexy is the Glam of them all? / U can hang, u can trip on it, u surely won't fall. / No side effects, the feeling lasts 4 ever. / Straight up, it tastes good, it makes feel clever. / U kiss ur enemies like u know u should. / Then u jerk ur body like a Horny Pony would. / U jerk ur body like a Horny Pony would. / Now run and tell ur mama about that!

This bootleg recording of him playing "Superstition" with Stevie Wonder in 2010 shows so much delight in his face as he jams with one of the few humans capable of understanding what it's like to be so talented. That Prince also has his longtime friend Sheila E. onstage to assist is also is a delight. Even an initially disconnected guitar does not dissuade him. The groove is going. He will add to it soon enough. Then he gets there and it's loose and terrific.

Prince has left us many grooves. And the word for decades is that he has a vast vault of already recorded tracks, alternate takes, and other songs. Unless his will legally locks that material up, we will probably be exploring new music from him for years to come. I am down with that.

All those scattered thoughts and words, and I'm still staring at the screen feeling hollowed out. I will miss this talented, prodigious, Muse-driven, caring, mad, skinny, sexy motherfucker. My life would be much poorer without him.

Most everyone does "Jabberwocky" wrong

Like many annoying people, I memorized "Jabberwocky" at a young age and am precious about it. Such as, well, now. Imagine me typing this with a shrewish self-righteous face that looks eminently punchable. Few things send me into a rage so quickly as when someone pronounces "borogoves" as "boro-groves", inserting a second "r". Not news about genocides, insults to those I love, nor essays on how the Star Wars prequels are okay movies.

Rationally, I know the story takes place in a forest and so it's liable to trick minds into thinking of a "grove". However, if a person recites a poem, and gets a word wrong, then stands there like he/she actually got the whole thing right, it's an aesthetic crime. You don't have it memorized. Get the fuck off the stage. Though I have never a read anything he wrote, I have read & listened to many Neil Gaiman interviews and find him charming. But even Gaiman fucks it up:

He messes up on another word, too, but I'll forgive him that. The full poem:

Jabberwocky
Lewis Carroll
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

Kate Burton starred in Alice in Wonderland in a fun production on PBS' Great Performances in the early 1980s that I watched many times as a kid. It features famous (and soon-to-be-famous) actors in sets and costumes drawn from John Tenniel's illustrations. She even has a scene with her father, Richard Burton, who plays the White Knight.

Kate Burton, to her eternal credit, gets "Jabberwocky" right. If you ever catch someone fucking it up, bring this up on your smartphone and play it to the person with your most pointed pointy finger:

On Bootyliciousness, jelly, jealousy

This came on the iPod, and I wondered whether the chorus goes: "I don't think you're ready for this jelly" (I have jelly you may not be prepared for) or "I don't think you're ready for this. Jeally?" (You lack preparation for "this", and are jealous of it).

A typical contemplation for me during a long drive. Don't look up the answer on any CD booklet lyrics you have, or, heaven forfend, any of those sloppy song lyrics websites. Ponder this as a koan.

David Bowie: head, heart, girls loving horsies

As a teenager, many of the girls around me who had a rabid (libidinous?) fetish for horses later had a rabid, libidinous fetish for David Bowie. It seemed best to not intrude between girls and their horses or their David Bowie. So I mostly ignored him.

David Bowie favors the U.S. flag and milk.

At age 18, on the sly, I bought The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Marvelous stuff, of course. But at age 20 I bought probably the best bunch of CDs in my life: David Bowie Sound + Vision.

The packaging was marvelous. For 1989, it contained three great CDs that ran a gamut of his career up to Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) including familiar tracks and alternate takes. It had a video CD with the video for "Ashes to Ashes" saying goodbye to his pre-1980 personas when hardly anyone had a player to do anything with it.

Bowie described himself as "synthetic". Before I closely listened, when I was a teenager he came across as always viewing his own work from a distance. Never fully engaged, but pulling a trick of some kind and watching to see everyone's reactions rather than being in the moment.

What is easy to miss, for all the hairstyles and colors and external trappings, is his voracious curiosity for music. He put a great deal of heart into his work, often getting far further in than trying on genres, but studying and expressing himself from the genre's center.

Over time I bought all his albums up through Never Let Me Down. His recordings at the BBC. For all this intense time of catching up, all his changes and playfulness had the safety of the past. It didn't offend or challenge me in the way it would have had I caught it at the first. The daring stuff struck me as wonderfully funny and clever. I could see things as they were meant and did not have to deal with the contemporary "What is he doing?"

Sound + Vision. Terrific packaging. Great music.

When strapped for cash at various times, I ended up selling a few of his albums I didn't listen to very often (Farewell, Never Let Me Down). I haven't purchased every album he released after 1987. I did like Tin Machine. Yes, really. And Black Tie, White Noise. And I especially liked Outside. And like much of his mid-level fans I had heard whispers about his ailing health in recent years, and was delightfully surprised when The Next Day came out, viewing it in 2013 as a final album emerging after ten years of retirement.

In 2016, with Bowie dead, I now drum my fingers, awaiting delivery of his final album Blackstar. I saw the video for his song "Lazarus" when it was released and knew he was near death. Not only tipped-off by the title of the song, and the prolonged shots on a sick bed, but most especially the black and silver-striped harlequin going into the chest/coffin at the end. This was goodbye.

And three days after the video's release, he was dead.

The news bummed me out, intermittently, for a couple of days. And I still shake my head a few times at the news. I don't associate a wide range of his songs with emotionally laden relationships or memories. But playing random tracks from the 25 albums of his that I still own evokes specific times in my life when listening and getting engrossed in his music was an experience distinctly (this is absurd) mine, even listening a decade or two behind others. His hunger to try things, his love of music and bending of forms all generated an impressive body of work. Yet, it feels like a chill has settled on all of those accomplishments for now. Once Blackstar arrives, his space on my CD shelves will not get much wider.

When thinking of an example of Bowie deploying both a sense of play and a clear drive to get into the center of a song, his cover of "Wild is the Wind" came immediately to mind.

Many of us will take solace in the work he left behind, even though listening to it for a while will be hard because we will sorely miss him.

I got sad writing this. Headed up the stairs. Then I started thinking of "TVC15" and Bowie's performance on Saturday Night Live with Klaus Nomi and started laughing. Had I seen this in 1978, at age 9, I would have wondered what was going on. Seeing it much later, it is so wonderfully fucking funny. Pink poodle with a t.v. screen. Stick around for the second number in the video of David Bowie acting like a puppet for "Boys Keep Swinging". Yes, that is Martin Sheen introducing him.

Is Frank Burns the true good guy of M*A*S*H?

As a nation reevaluates Atticus Finch - a purported hero in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and revealed to be a racist in the sequel Go Set a Watchman - we should take a closer look at Frank Burns. While binge-playing M*A*S*H in our household, familiar sitcom dialog from childhood coming to the fore, it occurred to me: what if Hawkeye is meant to be an unreliable narrator, unfairly maligning Major Frank Burns?

Think of it: Burns wants order and protocol to be followed in a dangerous wartime environment. Chain of command is essential to reliable operation. Safety is essential in a hospital. Emergency life & death issues emerge on a regular basis. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce is an agent of disruption with deep contempt for authority. Yet the story of M*A*S*H centers on Pierce. The camera angles in The Swamp tent always favor Pierce, not Burns. Through Pierce's eyes, Burns is reliably the ninny and appeaser to those in authority.

Consider a couple things:

  1. There is only one prominent female in the entire M*A*S*H cast for its full run, Major Margaret Houlihan. She is a woman in power, outranking Pierce and his sidekick-of-the-day, whether Trapper John or B.J. Yet, save for the last few seasons, Pierce and his toadies regularly hold the powerful, self-assured Houlihan in deep contempt. Burns manages a longterm relationship with her for many years.
  2. Pierce and Trapper John had a black tentmate the first season. A doctor, just like them. They called him "Spearchucker".

Ultron, the Emily Dickinson-quoting supervillain robot

Ultron would like you to look at his Dickinson-themed journal and let him know what you think.

The New York Times reports that Joss Whedon wrote a line in the upcoming Avengers Age of Ultron movie where Ultron quotes Emily Dickinson (Huzzah as the Venn diagram of comic nerds and lit nerds fizzes with glee...). James Spader, who voices Ultron, was later given a line from Pinocchio about not having strings for the final version (Bo-ring...)

I have tried to find out what the Dickinson quote was. However, after multiple minutes of Yahoo, Bing, and Google searches have yielded no answers, I am snatching the internet speculation license and claiming it mine.

Let's assume that Whedon would go broad and choose one of Dickinson's most recognizable poems. While her buzzing flies would work in many ways for an action film, let's go instead with a scene where Ultron, the fate of humanity seconds from ruination, decides to regale Hulk, Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Thor — and, hell, let's add Loki — with a recitation that causes each of them to close their eyes and imagine sitting in a Carriage with Death and Ultron, the giant robot.

Imagine yourself, dear reader, watching a montage of soft-dissolve film edits as each brightly colored muscle-bound oaf, blood trickling down the forehead just so, gasping final breaths, ponders the point of it all.

I grew up on DC comics and don't know what the deal is with Ultron from Marvel comics, but I am eager to pretend James Spader as the preppie from Pretty in Pink has converted to robot form and aspires to more destruction than making fellow preppie Andrew McCarthy feel bad for dating someone trashy like Molly Ringwald.

Fingers crossed Walt Whitman and Hulk are combined in the next movie. DOES HULK WHITMAN CONTRADICT MYSELF? THEN HULK WHITMAN CONTRADICTS MYSELF!

Because I Could Not Stop for Death (479)
By Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed Us –
The Dews drew quivering and Chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity –

I keep hearing "black widdle baby" instead of "black widow, baby".

"Black Widow" seems about 14 minutes long. But only recently did I discover it goes "I'm a black widow, baby." not "I'm a black widdle baby."

It had mystified me slightly why such a slinky, repetitive song was sung from the first person perspective of a little baby, let alone a specific skin color. Most pop songs are about grown-ups, common themes: "You do/did this to me", "I feel this way", "Let's do this thing", on an on. It's about time that another song emerged from a baby's perspective. An odd choice, lazily delivered, but okay. Whatever.

For that matter, why would a baby singing on behalf of herself (assuming this from the female voice), clearly capable of speech, use the phrase "widdle" for "little"? Was it parroting the baby talk the adults engage in around the baby? Maybe (realize I had only spent a dozen or so seconds contemplating the song before changing the station), this baby was mocking the adults around her for being so patronizing?

Finally, I saw a song title on a Top 10 list somewhere, and put together there was a popular song named "Black Widow", and I heard it wrong. After finally listening to it all the way through, to my disappointment it's another boastful song from a grown-up first-person perspective about one's prowess in mating and exacting some degree of emotional satisfaction. *yawn*

The baby hip-hop/dance genre remains woefully unexplored. To my knowledge, the only legitimate entry remains "Dur Dur d'être bébé!" by Jordy, a French novelty song in 1992. Get on this, babies with a story, and stop horsing around!

Dreamed of 'Scarface'

This morning, I woke up after dreaming I was in the final scene of Brian DePalma's 'Scarface' as one of the rival druglord's henchmen in a violent gunfight with coked-up Tony Montana (played by Al Pacino). The garish interior of Montana's mansion was all around. Fountain in the atrium with a generic statue of women holding a globe with "The World Is Yours" in neon. While stressful, I was able to crawl on the floor and avoid Montana's gunfire even though he saw me.

"Say hello to my little friend! Sweet dreams."

I had been up late watching a documentary about Gore Vidal "The United States of Amnesia", which has tidbits of the fallout he had with Christopher Hitchens. I still mourn the passing of both men, and may write something about that later. Vidal's elegiac sighing over the American Empire likely influenced the dream.

Debris flying, curses in English and Spanish all around, I thought as the dream ended: "This is a tacky way to go."

That would be a pretty good exit line. Something to bear in mind 300-400 years from now when I finally pass.