Jun 122015
 

Come here, let me share a bit of wisdom with you.
Have you given much thought to our mortal condition?
Probably not. Why would you? Well, listen.
All mortals owe a debt to death.
There’s no one alive
who can say if he will be tomorrow.
Our fate moves invisibly! A mystery.
No one can teach it, no one can grasp it.
Accept this! Cheer up! Have a drink!
But don’t forget Aphrodite–that’s one sweet goddess.
You can let the rest go. Am I making sense?
I think so. How about a drink.
Put on a garland. I’m sure
the happy splash of wine will cure your mood.
We’re all mortal you know. Think mortal.
Because my theory is, there’s no such thing as life,
it’s just catastrophe.


– Grief Lessons: Four Plays by Euripides

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Jun 012015
 

Said Conrad Cornelius o’Donald o’Dell,
My very young friend who is learning to spell:
“The A is for Ape. And B is for Bear.
The C is for Camel. The H is for Hare
The M is for Mouse. And the R is for Rat.”
“I know all the twenty-six letters like that…
… Through to Z is for Zebra. I know them all well.”
Said Conrad Cornelius o’Donald o’Dell.
“So now I know everything anyone knows.
From beginning to end. From the start to the close.
Because Z is as far as the alphabet goes.”

Then he almost fell flat on his face on the floor
When I picked up the chalk and drew one letter more!
A letter he never had dreamed of before!
And I said, “You can stop, if you want, with the Z.
Because most people stop with the Z.
But not me!!!
In the places I go, there are things that I see
That I never could spell if I stopped with the Z.
I’m telling you this ‘cause you’re one of my friends.
My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends!”
“My alphabet starts with this letter called YUZZ.
It’s the letter I use to spell YUZZ-a-ma-TUZZ.
You’ll be sort of surprised what there is to be found
Once you go beyond Z and start poking around!
So, on beyond Zebra!
Explore!
Like Columbus!
Discover new letters!
Like WUM is for Wumbus,
My high-spouting whale who lives high on a hill
And who never comes down ‘till it’s time to refill.
So, on beyond Z! It’s high time you were shown
That you really don’t know all there is to be known.”

“Then just step a step further past Wum is for Wumbus
And there you’ll find UM. And the Um is for Umbus
A sort of Cow, with one head and one tail,
But to milk this great cow you need more than one pail!
She has ninety-eight teats that give milk quite nicely.
Perhaps ninety-nine. I forget just precisely.
And, boy! She is something most people don’t see.
Because most people stop at the Z
But not me!”

“If you stay home with Zebra,
You’re stuck in a rut.
But on beyond Zebra,
You’re anything but!
When you go beyond Zebra,
Who knows…?
There’s no telling
What wonderful things
You might find yourself spelling!”

“Like QUAN is for Quandary, who lives on a shelf
In a hole in the ocean alone by himself
And he worries, each day, from the dawn’s early light
And he worries, just worries, far into the night.
He just stands there and worries. He simply can’t stop…
Is his top-side his bottom? Or bottom-side his top?”

So you see!
There’s no end
To the things you might know,
Depending how far beyond Zebra you go!

The places I took him!
I tried hard to tell
Young Conrad Cornelius o’Donald o’Dell
A few brand-new wonderful words he might spell.
I led him around and I tried hard to show
There are things beyond Z that most people don’t know.
I took him past Zebra. As far as I could.
And I think, perhaps, maybe I did him some good…

Because, finally, he said:
“This is really great stuff!
And I guess the old alphabet
ISN”T enough!”
NOW the letters he uses are something to see!
Most people stop at the Z…
But not HE!

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May 172015
 

What would it be like
to live in a library
of melted books.

With sentences streaming over the floor
and all the punctuation
settled to the bottom as a residue.

It would be confusing.
Unforgivable.
A great adventure.

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Feb 142015
 

My heart has become capable of every form: it is a
pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
And a temple for idols and the pilgrim’s Kaaba and the
Tables of the Torah and the book of the Qur’an.
I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s
Camels take, that is my religion and my faith.

– From Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi

 

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Jan 282015
 

For Alan Dann

A woman came up to me in Bloomingdales and said she liked my glasses and I told her where to get them and she said, “what do you think I am — a millionaire?” and stomped off.

A woman came up to me in grad school and said she wished she was as smart as I was and I told her where to find the good theory books at the library and she said “what do you think I am — stupid or something?” and threw down her copy of Derrida’s On Grammatologyand stomped off.

A woman came up to me in the airport in Montpellier and said “Ce livre — De La Grammatologie par Derrida – c’est à vous?” and I told her I had picked it up off the ground in North Carolina, and the woman said “Quoi? Vous êtes un connard Americain?” and lit a Gauloise and stomped off.

A woman came up to me in the hospital and said “this is your baby,” and I took the baby, but she said, “I can tell already you’re a terrible mother,” and threw the baby blankets at my husband and stomped off.

A woman came up to me at the swimming pool and wanted to know why my 2 year old daughter was laughing at her classmate, and I explained that she had never seen a penis before, and the woman said “DON’T USE THAT FOUL WORD IN MY PRESENCE,” threw a beach ball at my head, and stomped off.

A woman came up to me at my house and said she wondered what all these little girls were doing, drawing with chalk on the driveway, and I said they were friends of my daughter and she said “YOUR CHILDREN ARE OUT OF CONTROL,” and the girls started laughing, and they all took giant steps behind her as she stomped off.

A woman came up to me at the university and said she wondered why everyone was so mean to each other on campus, and I said “what do I look like – a therapist?”, and she said “actually, yes, you do,” and stomped off.

A woman came up to me at a shopping mall entrance, and gave me a Kleenex because I was crying into the telephone fighting with my husband, and I said “thank you” and she said “don’t mention it. I know how you feel; you just wish you could stomp off.”

A woman came up to me at the Northampton bus station, and she said she knew me from somewhere, and I said “I am your mother,” and she said “I know — I’m just kidding and being weird!” and then she laughed and pretended to stomp off.

A woman came up to me on the beach and she said she knew where all the magic stones were, and I put down my copy of Derrida, and laid out a beach blanket, and we took turns stomping off and looking for magic rocks and then bringing them back, lying on the beach, telling each other stories, while wearing each other’s sunglasses.

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