To Stop

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It’s like I have a grenade in my pocket.  Or I hold a fussy baby as we hide in a closet from the zombies.  My brain, it cannot be trusted.

So do I act calm?  Sure.  I have to.

I had this new thought, this round, maybe this is what I am really afraid of: there is nothing you can do to stop bad things from happening.

The revelation is not necessarily useful.

It undoes one of my most comforting activities, though, which is thinking about how things can work out.  What if I packed lunches for the whole week?  What if I swept the floors Saturday, so I wouldn’t have to do it on Sunday?

I have an idea I can cheat, hack, with enough conniving.

My idea of how to survive as an artist is to work faster and smarter than everyone else at the dumb shit I gotta do, to have time to make work.

It’s a strategy.

Finally I accept the meds are not working.  The antidepressants are supposed to stop this from happening.

Leading up to this is the hardest part, because  I know the changing of meds is not a happy time.  It’s never easy.  It will make you more crazy before it will make you sane, and you are not sane, you have just realized.  Shit.

I up my current med, this is the first idea.  The first week I’m as crazy as I have been, the next week I am both crazy and so tired I get home from work and fall asleep immediately.

Just as crazy as I had been means taking calm-down meds every four hours or so to avoid being drawn into an endless mental maze of, “Do I feel all right?  I don’t think I do.  I think the walls feel too far away.”  (That’s my special brand of crazy, the walls feeling too close or too far away.)

Being ill this way brings up the usual questions of an ill person, which are, what did I do to get myself sick?  Did I do something?  Did I not do something?  Why now?

My meds worked like a charm for six years.  Really, like a charm, like fight or flight was a snake, ready to pounce, and instead it gazed and nestled down in its basket, coiled cozy.

And with mental illness, the addition of, could I figure out my thoughts, work through my thoughts, therapy this out, or write it out, or feel it out, and the brain would function like normal?

Then, though anxiety is my primary thing, exhaustion from fighting the anxiety is depressing, really depressing, when all you do in a week is go to work and sleep.

I figured out this week that coffee in the morning, much sedative before lunch (lunch is very hard for me, who knows why), then coffee at dinnertime to push back the sleepiness side effects enough to have an evening.

Better.  Friday I got the caffeine right, and got myself to the reception I wanted to go to.  Had a little wine, a little chat, like a person.  I took a painting class, and I reunited with my classmates and we looked at our pictures.

Your feelings aren’t you, but they sure do color the situation.  Emotions are made by your life, I’m lonely from not being married, from living far from family, but they also make themselves, from chemicals in your brain, no one loves me, I am a monster, I have failed at everything.

They aren’t everything, being sad on a rainy day isn’t the worst.  They are something.  A full palate of sadness and happiness and daily sense of accomplishment makes a good life.

Today is Palm Sunday.  I love Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil, Christianity’s darkest festivals, our times of despair.  Palm Sunday I don’t really get.  It was usually set up for us as, hey, look how they love him RIGHT BEFORE THEY STAB HIM IN THE BACK!

As a preparatory downer.

It also sucks because the church reads the whole sad story of Jesus getting stabbed in the back, the week before any of it happens, for the benefit of everyone who won’t show up for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil.

There’s more to the story, guys.

Whatever.  Everyone loves Jesus.  Everyone hates Jesus.  You’re up, you’re down.  It was made an American story.  There are no second acts.

What it does do is open our season of sadness.  The week it is right to be sad.  Jesus was a good person, a funny person, a nice guy, and he was tortured and killed.  It’s sad.

It’s sad like having an unstable president, who scares you, sad like a civil war no one can see the way out of (who can ever see the way out of war?).  It’s sad like not having enough to pay the bills.  It’s sad like missing your sisters.  It’s sad like wishing someone loved you.  Like friends who die.  It’s a good week to be sad, and not let anyone make you feel guilty about it.

We wish you were happier.  We wish it had all worked out.  We wish you never knew sorrow.  We wish you were healthy and felt useful and proud and humble.

One day this week when I was feeling good, I started to get these “may” statements in my head, probably from Buddhist practice.  Theirs are usually “may you be happy,” but I was thinking more like, “May the person who put that suit on that mannequin have a good day. ”  “May the men who broke up the ice at this corner last week feel safe.”  “May the French bakery have enough business that the owner will not worry.”

I don’t know where that came from, but I don’t know where sickness comes from, either.

Image: “Sad Man,” LeRoy Walter Flint, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Blind

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Maybe all girls go through a Helen Keller phase.  Girlhood to womanhood, puberty, necessitates a going within, or a numbness, a disconnect from words.  I read Helen Keller’s book, or a children’s version of it, and the way Annie Sullivan was able to reach her!  The way Helen had all these thoughtful things inside that could not be put together, but by the means of communication that gave her words.  Did she think before she had words?

Around the same time I wrote a short novel about a chick.  Our class had gotten eggs to incubate and hatch.  Where was I before I was born? was the question I was addressing, in a  first person chicken narrator.  It was very serious.  Really, it was.

My mother played Annie Sullivan in a production of “The Miracle Worker” at her high school.  Her high school was the place I would spend eight years teaching high school English.  Most of my time in that auditorium was taken up in staring down kids who talked during inspirational assemblies (which I always found worthless) awards ceremonies (okay if short).  During pep rallies I didn’t have to be a disciplinarian.  I could just stand there.  Or better yet, escape and go to my silent classroom, where much work was scratching at the door.

Last week at church the sermon message was: we’re the blind leading the blind, and that’s okay.  That’s about the best we can do, as humans.

This week I was to interview someone for a job, and the man walked in holding someone’s arm.  He was blind.  He sat in his chair, unsnapped his cane in pieces, folded it.  The three of us who were to do the interview looked at each other.  And were not seen.  I had fretted that I was wearing torn jeans, which hardly seemed to set a formal work example for an interview.  I had tidied up the office.  It didn’t matter.  He was blind.

You don’t write “blind” on your resume.

Our priest had said that blindness is always a huge negative in the Bible.  It is.  There’s nothing good about blindness.  Jesus spits and smears mud on your eyes if you are blind.  What happened? they ask the blind man.  Hell if I know, the blind man says.

I wake every morning blind, really, legally blind, until I feel the plastic arms of my glasses and put them on.

At Easter, we blindfold one person, and that person has a partner who leads in the egg hunting.  This is how we make the egg hunt fun for the adults.  I usually get mud on my dress.  The winner gets a big trophy my dad made, with a power ranger action figure and a tiny plastic duck glued to the top.

I am blind.  I know not how things will resolve themselves.  When I will die— I had an acquaintance die young and unexpectedly, recently— and how I will live, what will seem reasonable to me, as I still hold the pieces of my life I have: job, for not enough money, but good, New York, where lonely, but stimulated and I feel I belong, teaching credentials, teaching bitterness, debt, an apartment, grief at being single, grief at being childless, anxiety, family, losses I pick up and turn over still, I hold these pieces, pick them up, and am blind as to how they could fit, where they could move, in my next mosaic, temporary puzzle of my life.  Uneven edges.

Our interviewee hears me yawn, though I do so very quietly.  “You’re yawning,” he says lightly.

“Sorry, it’s not you.”

It’s not.  I changed my anxiety medication, and it’s given me a head of fog and chronic sleepiness.  I don’t know if it’s right to give into it, or not.  Is it the sleepiness of jet lag, which should be ignored because it will mess you up?  Or the sleepiness of being ill, which should be honored, it’s your body telling you it needs you to turn off and heal?  Does your body need more sleep time to acclimate to different levels of drug, to reregulate my serotonin which really needs reregulation, four panic attacks the last month, and more than four surges of anxiety I got to, with meds or breathing, quickly enough to cool them?

The interview ended and someone led the man upstairs and to the doors, where he would use his cane to get to the bus stop.  Blind New Yorkers somehow navigate the city, busses and trains, we see them with canes, and in a place where people consider themselves tough, they are in awe.  You can’t see, and you cross the streets here?

The song written by the man in the wheelchair, who watches his wife dance:

You can dance-every dance with the guy

Who gives you the eye, let him hold you tight

You can smile-every smile for the man

Who held your hand neath the pale moon light

But don’t forget who’s takin’ you home

And in whose arms you’re gonna be

So darlin’ save the last dance for me

Oh I know that the musics fine

Like sparklin’ wine, go and have your fun

Laugh and sing, but while we’re apart

Don’t give your heart to anyone

 

You can dance, go and carry on

Till the night is gone

And it’s time to go

If he asks if you’re all alone

Can he walk you home, you must tell him no

‘Cause don’t forget who’s taking you home

And in whose arms you’re gonna be

So darling, save the last dance for me

Image: Detail of “Blind Homer Led by the Genius of Poetry,” by Edward Sheffield Bartholomew, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

How It Could Be

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Ink comes from ashes and paintbrushes are made of fur.  The good ones, my teacher said, are horsehair.

I caressed my brush, the long, thick soft fur, and it was only because other people were there I didn’t run it across my lips.  A soft paintbrush or an apricot, he two most beautiful feelings on a lip, without other lips or a forehead or a cheek to kiss.

“Are they ever made from squirrel?” someone asked.

I like squirrels.  But I fear New York City squirrels, bastards are always so close you could grab them.  Just try it! they say with their beady eyes.

Glue, which holds the ink together, or makes it stick, I don’t know, I never took chemistry, anyway the glue in ink is from cow skin and bone (that Elmer’s cow) or rabbit (I also like rabbits), or egg yolks.

“Where does ink come from?” my teacher said.

I didn’t think I should say, “Octopi.”  So I was silent.

“Ashes,” someone said.

“That’s right.”

We got a bowl of ink, a plate to make a light tone, and a plate to make a medium tone.  We had to start with the biggest brush.

“You’re supposed to have the time preparing the ink meditatively,” teacher said.  We were not meditative, ours was poured right from a bottle.

The whole brush soaks in light ink, half the brush in medium ink, and just the tip in ink itself, undiluted.

The first half of class, teacher said nothing to me, presumably because I am a genius.  Later she gave me bigger paper, advised I mix tones more, and make my carrot bigger.  By carrot I mean, my representation of a carrot.

Chinese ink is from the 23rd century B.C.E.  You’re saying, “It can’t possibly be that old.”  You know the Chinese weren’t fucking around back then.  They were inventing ink while everyone else was picking his nose.

“She is the best at using the gradations at the ink on the brush,” my teacher said, of me.  I would have preferred she say, “And she is a genius,” instead she added,  “And thinking. I could see how much she was thinking about everything she does.”

Shit,  I know, I thought.  She thinks.  About everything.  She does.

At painting class, I was thinking visually, measuring size and shape and weight and balance, without words.  At least that was a change.

We could crumple the paper, to give it texture.  Or let the ink drip dots.

I was reminded of how art classes go, some people ooh and ahh over some pieces, others laugh at themselves, some people are validated, some are frustrated, some are nonchalant, and you don’t know if that’s real.

I loved the full ink, undiluted, but making a stroke you liked with the full ink wasn’t easy.  It could look so rude.

Where does ink come from?

Squid.  So they can hide.

The animals.  It all comes from the animals, all of us.

What gives our skin pigment, and tan, melanin, is what the squid’s ink is.  Mostly.  Melanin and spit.

Every morning I re-ink myself, Mercy, in sharpie: xylene, ethylene glycol mono butyl, propanol, butanol, and diacetone, resin.  Color, and something that holds it together.

Three of my students have noticed and asked.  “Do you have a tattoo?”

“No.”

“Are you going to get a tattoo?”

“No.”

“Why did you write that?”

“I don’t know,” I said.  “It makes me think of a Shakespeare quote, and a Biblical quote.”

“Who needs the mercy?  You need to be more merciful to other people?  Or you need to be more merciful to yourself?  Or you need mercy?”

“Those last two, I think,” I said.

In 5th Century China, there was no distinction between calligraphy, writing, and painting. Painting was writing, and writing was painting.  Painting, I have a scribbly way in me that I naturally make cities on hills, with water around and below.  Where does that come from, and how is it like my constant reliance on certain words: but, warm, gold.

How is my father’s handwriting loopy, curly, and my mother’s is scratchy, and mine is scratchy, but fatter, and why does my father doodle in boxes with balls on the corners, and why do I doodle in cities on hills, with water around and below?  Why is my sister’s handwriting more like my father’s, why is my own beloved to me like the shape of my eyes?  What if I had a stroke, and then I had new handwriting?

Traditional Chinese landscapes are made this way: the painter goes to the top of the mountain, sketches.  Goes down to the valley, sketches.  Goes up to the foothills, sketches.  The final piece will use all three of these views combined.  The final piece will be a view no one will ever get, except in the painting.  It is some kind of “how it could be.”

Ink comes from ashes.

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Loose Ends

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My Lenten practice is to write “Mercy” on my left hand, in the curve that leads to my thumb, every day, in Sharpie.  It is possible that this practice will poison me. I have googled “Sharpie tattoo.”  It’s less painful than flogging oneself with thorny branches, though.

Anything outside my routine distresses me slightly, so while I was certain I would take off work for A Day Without A Woman (I can, so I will), and figured I’d go to some part of the gatherings, I also fretted because my routine was broken.

My routine right now is not great, though.

My waking up is: alarm, turn on NPR, half-sleep, snooze goes off.

If the news is particularly snarky, I am snapping, aloud, back at the innocent announcers.  “Yeah, that’s a great idea.  Tell poor people to save money they don’t have to pay for health care.”

Looking at my phone, at Facebook, this is how I seduce myself to open my eyes, to see who likes the clever things I’ve written, who has responded cleverly, who has said clever things, who has shared the infuriating news stories must I read.

Then I’m freaking the fuck out before I even put on my glasses.

I can see to read on my phone when I close one eye and hold it real close.  My jaw tight, my shoulders poked up.

I forgot how during the Bush administration, merely the sound of his name elevated my heart rate, particularly leading up to the Iraq war, which I had protested against, like many other thinking people.

I forgot how once Obama was sworn in, every time I heard his name on the radio, I had the same feeling I get when I hear my Dad’s cough, when I am home, I sleep above the kitchen, and I can hear my dad cough, and I feel, okay, he’s got this.

My dad is not a fan of the president’s, thus this is a funny comparison.

I am exhausted from knowing there is a president who is insane, and a president who has spoken so violently and crudely about women.  It doesn’t go away.

Here is how Facebook may help you: post your plan, then feel as if you must fulfill it.  Post that you are going to do yoga, and you might.  I told all those nice people I was going to have a nice day, so I guess I better.

I have not done yoga since DT was elected, because who can do yoga when Rome is burning?

I had a session with a student yesterday, she had hit a wall with schoolwork and said, “I just couldn’t make myself do it.”

“Do you meditate?” I said.

We talked about meditation videos, apps, podcasts.

Then today, since I had the whole day off, and since I had already done the yoga, I meditated.

I have meditated since DT was elected, only because I belong to a group where we meditate.  Every time I leave feeling enormous, my proper weight, physically and emotionally, and color-corrected.

But I only have so much force-myself in the day.  I can make myself read my Biblical passages, and take a moment of gathering myself, on the train in the morning, but the train at the end of the day: no way.

I actually think there’s nothing more important than meditating right now.

This does not mean I’m actually going to do a lot of meditating.  It’s just a theory.

An advantage of being a woman is that your body can be used for greater purposes.  That has been a Christian idea I’ve always loved: Mary and her body and her openness to letting God use her.  She was asked, she said yes, she let it happen.

Another advantage is that you choose what to let in, who to let in.  (It should be this way, I know for many too many women this is not the case.)  That’s a part of your thinking from puberty on.  You choose who you let in, what you let in.  If you let shit in, you’ll feel like shit.

Sometimes I look at my hand and it says, “Mercy,” and I think about being merciful to myself.  Sometimes I think of being merciful to someone else.  Sometimes I think, “The quality of mercy is not strained/it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,” which was written on a monument outside the hospital, near where I used to work.  The quote continued: “Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;/It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

Sometimes I think, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

I need voices, though, bedtime stories and morning stories to wake me, and it must be interesting enough to hook my chattery mind and dull enough to smoothly slide into dreams.

NPR has markers to let me know it’s time to leave, though, they do a “gig alert” bit that means I have ten minutes.  A youtube reading of Moby Dick won’t do this.  Although it is extremely soothing.

How to remain active, speaking of yoga, like warrior pose, ready, active, but not strained, not set by the rhythm of twitchiness of the internet.  I don’t know.  I really like reading a crazy article in the Times, then in the Post, then on CNN, then from Fox.  Shit!  My God!

The quality of mercy is not strained, or twitchy.

It is loose.

There is nothing more important we can do right now than calm down.  I’m afraid eventually, somehow, the government will calm down, and we will have to again sit with only our own problems with ourselves and our stupid friends.

Think of the sculpture at the front of the chapel with Jesus with the whole world in his hands, like the song.  I can hardly believe in that idea.  It doesn’t matter if I believe in it.  It’s still there.

Image: String of beads, Predynastic, Egypt, ca. 3900-3650, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Legs and Toes

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Ballet, just at home, with a hand on the edge of my open top dresser drawer, in leggings and a tiny top, so I can see my stomach fully sucked in, if you can hold in your belly, you can support anything, and my butt fully tucked, my spine’s results must be straight for the sake of art, not even vanity, though that’s nice, and ballet slippers, there is concentration, pull, demands, and such straightness in such a crooked world.

There is how I can point my toe, not as much as the ballerinas in the video, but it points, and how much I can raise a leg, circle it, until my forehead and under my breasts is sweaty.

In a crooked world, where I might have to wait twenty minutes for a train, how did that happen, in the waiting room that is glass-enclosed, with two heaters hung from the ceiling, and black metal benches that run one length of it, a trash can in the center.

A man walked in wearing nothing but a red t-shirt, as a Gandhi-style diaper.  He said nothing we could understand.  He didn’t stay long.  He had other business.

I had my crossword puzzle, and my thin sharpie, which is not because I don’t make mistakes, but because one must sin boldly.

I am sitting at a tall table in the Queens college student union, and I realize eating lunch sparks my panic, still sizzling from a full panic attack Monday, and I think, I can go downstairs and chat with my coworkers.

I do this, and the bitter, burning adrenaline that has been rising up my throat simmers down. I ask questions I don’t need to ask.  I make jokes.  I get the food down.

Where I get off the subway, in Jamaica, Queens, there are the dollar vans, actually $2, I hear, there are young men standing by vans running these technically illegal but traditional form of transportation.  I don’t know where the dollar vans go.

Only if it is warm, on the street they sell fruit.

Only on Valentine’s Day, they sell flowers, all bundled up, the sellers are, not the flowers, they’ll be outside all day, and it’s cold, February.

It’s Jamaica, with family court across the street, a historic house a block away, some sort of social service agency I go past, when I take the bus, lots of people get on the bus there.

Jamaica is spelled that way now, but it is so-called because of the Jameco Indians, who are long gone.

It just makes me sad.  Jamaica Queens is not warm, no palm trees, no beach.

It is so warm, I put on the dress I just bought.  It is too cold to wear the dress, even with a heavy chocolate wool sweater over it.  My legs freeze, bare, my ears are cold.  “You can borrow my jacket,” someone says, but I am too vain to do this.

I take the train from church to the New York Times.

It occurs to me that these are two foundations of my faith: church, journalism.  The third would be Art, just plain Art, if I had proceeded to the Met, what a day.  I did not, I went to 41st Street and over, on one side of the building was no one, and I thought, aw, no one came, but around the corner people were holding signs and chanting.  Bagels, Coffee, and A Free Press, a sign says.

For one hour– not even, for half an hour, I chanted, and my problem (of those many political problems I have) was leaving lots of prestigious media outlets, outlets with many American readers who want their reporting done, their questions asked, out of presidential press briefings.  We want, we are owed for the loan of our power.

I was cold again, because today my underestimating of the weather was thin skirt, cold knees, boots, wool sweater and coat, wool hat, not enough for 43 degrees, knees out.

Image: “Diana,” Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A Train

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The next person who tells me I should write a book, I will stab.

I regularly think of dumping all the extant printouts of books I’m working on in the recycling.  This isn’t quite dramatic enough, though.  I do that all the time, anyway, mark up hard copies, make the corrections, recycle the pages.

Then I think I should erase the google docs.  Because, let’s face it, I will likely be the one to take out the recycling.

I’m sure there would be some sort of sound effect were I to do so.  Siri or somebody would say, “How bad you feel!  I see you feel very bad!”  And I would say, “I do!  I feel terrible!  I try so hard!  No one cares!”  And then it would say, “Deleted.”

This is like my dad’s story of growing a beard when he got divorced.  “Did you want to do something when you found out you couldn’t have kids?” he asked me.

“No,” I said.  Maybe if I could grow a beard.  What women want to do is to get bangs.  Or become brunette.  I manage to avoid both impulses when they rear their ugly heads.

What it’s like to be us is to not have anyone know you are not all right, because it’s so embarrassing, but then really need someone to know you are not all right, just for a sec, just to say, “I see you feel bad,” so we can say, “Oh, no, I’m fine.”

I think instead about not submitting anything, ever again, perhaps I just write for myself.  Like Emily Dickinson, whom I love.

Don’t ever tell someone to write a book.  Say, “I am right now giving you the $20 your book will cost, and I’m clicking the fuck out of your blog, until it can’t walk, and I’m calling my agent/editor friend right now, and just give me a free copy when it is inevitably published, I’m kidding, I’ll buy another one then.  And your drink’s on me because you’re the smartest, sexiest, tallest person I’ve ever met, also the best writer.  Also I like your shoes.”

I’ve been to many writing conferences, classes, have three times sat with writer who had a respectable book published, with one of my books, and s/he said, “This is good.  You’re going to get this published.”

Then you skip off and feel very smart.

Then you know for whatever reason this does not happen.

So you end up a person waiting for the subway thinking maybe you will just go home and go back to bed because why.

I’m not really a suicidal type, but I do get such pressing depression that I can’t breathe, I have to force myself to eat anything, anything, and I am worried about myself, and I can’t think what to do, and usually the worst passes in an hour, and the bulk of it in a couple of days.

Then I stop checking the stats on my blog to see if anyone gives a shit about me because, obviously, you know, that’s not healthy.

Anyway I got on the train because I wasn’t that crazy.

A clarinet player on the train played “Frere Jacques” and “Pop Goes the Weasel,” and “B-I-N-G-O,” and I gave him a crumpled dollar, and he made me smile, which I did not feel like doing, but was, as they say to the preschoolers, a good choice.

I got off the train and walked down the street and hurried and looked and thought I saw Mandy Patinkin coming out of an apartment building and walking towards me, then I was sure I had seen him, which was insane because I was listening to “On the Street Where You Live,” which is so beautiful, and then I was skipping off, that street is also the street Gershwin lived on, I turned the corner, tossed my postcard to President Trump telling him to fuck off in the mailbox I didn’t even know was there, and off to church.*

*Some parts of this previous paragraph may be true, except I did see a bearded man with glasses, I was listening to “On the Street Where You Live,” and I did mail a postcard to the president, and the Gershwin part.

The priest did the service just the way I would have, bringing over a chair to sit with us for the sermon, and asking us all to come up and stand right in front of the altar together for communion.

In the sermon he talked about his mother dying of Alzheimer’s, coincidentally, today is the anniversary of my grandmother’s death, of Alzheimer’s.

The same day she died, she died in the wee hours, I got up, was told that she died, and went to the hospital to visit my friend, who had almost died, but had not died, we played tennis with a balloon in the physical therapy room, and then I went and bought underwear.

It was a memorable day.

Also I will stab the people who tell me, “Oh, you’ll meet someone.”  I know they mean to be nice, but still I will stab them, for passing on the illogical idea that things you want, you get.  If you want them enough.  If you just keep trying.  Like some people don’t get hit by trains.  Some people get hit by trains.

(You should watch “Baskets,” on F/X, to get this reference, and you should pay for it, because those people did a fine job making two season of a TV show.)

The lesson was the story about Jesus healing the epileptic, so we say, it seems more like “mentally ill guy” to me.  Not literal healing, maybe, but whatever.  How the story is used as a weapon against the ill, the poor, the raped, if you really believed, God would protect you.  From demons.  Sometimes here people stop and explain what ancient people meant by demons, and I stop them, and I’m like, “I get it.”

I spent a good bit of time discussing Job with one of my students last week.  “I don’t get it,” she said.  “I don’t get it, either,” I said.

“I think God is with people all the time, even though they die,” the priest said, and I thought I thought that, too, at least now that he had said it, I did, I didn’t before, when I walked in, but I remembered now that I did.

I was pleased to know all the responses without a prayer book, and I was bummed one of the three other women there was the girlfriend of someone who worked for the church, which lessened my status, and that the other woman had a daughter who went to Columbia, because not only do I not have a daughter, I also have never, and will never, get to go to Columbia.

Because I brought my actual self, and she is petty about this shit.  Real petty.

Then I bought a candle for $3.27 and wrote my grandma’s name on it, and the poem I read as she died, and I lit it, and I left it.

Image: “RFK Funeral Train,” Paul Fusco, Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

Can you believe it’s not on display?  It should be.

Planes

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Close planes (toys, ideas)

far planes (so minor do you mind)

and seagulls, the size between,

they go as gentlemen

no one rushes them,

in and out of dens,

no one holds them up, with sticks,

no one hung them there, on invisible lines,

wheels tucked, feet tucked,

pasted on

the same air

the only air we have,

what we all must share, that sky,

with cement, painted on with the brush

that’s fastened in the lid of the jar,

the sky is flat,

they guzzle tinkly

metal pin tunes

when at home

and when out

turn them

out from inside themselves.

Image: “Roofs and Sky,” Louis Lozowick, Metropolitan Museum of Art.