Saturday, August 31, 2013

Repost of Mediterranean plus a poem

Yesterday I spent the day on the Lake, thinking of the history of Lake Erie and how once it was the largest fish producer in the world.  Then I remembered the Mediterranean Sea with its history of the Greeks, Romans, and Iberians.  And that leads me to this repost from my happy moments on my favorite sea.  At the end of the post after the classic song, Mediterranean,  I included the poem with the same title from my first chapbook.

     After 4 years of swimming in lakes, I've returned to the beaches of the Mediterranean.  I feel the slippery salt on my skin and its taste on my lips.  I'm not bounced about in the waves or flung under, scraping my knees on the bottom like in the Atlantic.  And let's not even talk about the Pacific with its fierce waves and chilly waters.  For the most part, the Mediterranean is gentle.
    When I step out of the water here I feel light.  When I get out of a lake something soggy stays with me, like from the mud bottom of a pond.  The salt of the sea is a great purifier, a healer in its way.  So I have one more day to enjoy if not the water, then the pastel colors of the sunsets.

   The classic song by Joan Manuel Serrat:

I have a poem from my first chapbook too.


I live in a country
where you can choose to die
trampled by a bull, madly foaming
in an age old ritual,
where  slowly yet certainly
parrots nest in the palms
replacing street worn pigeons
already tagged and counted.
No prohibition
the body is gently forgiven
I too lay naked outside.
Red flowers burst
against white walls
narrow rocks step
to the sea,
blue as ice,
warm as milk.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Who's your Favorite Saint?

The mind boggles at the options.  The saints had messy curious lives which makes them oddities populating a strange world.   I had the paperback books of saints as a child preparing for my communion.  I never understood Catherine who was tortured with a toothed wheel and beheaded or Lucy, depicted with her eyes on a plate. It’s amazing these stories were given to impressionable children to read.  Knowing nothing other than the name Teresa, (Therese) Little Flower, I chose her.  She looked gentle enough.  She fit in with my love of the Jesus of a blurry painting of the blond man with the red pulsating heart. At the age of 7 I proclaimed I wanted to be a nun.  “You’ll have to sleep on a bed of nails.”  I was told.  I don’t care, I’ll do it, was my answer. Years later in a film depicting  Teresa’s life, she drank the tubercular sputum from an infected lung.  My connection through name was permanently severed. 

    These days I have a book of the saints (Saints, A year in Faith and Art)  with golden pages and short biographies.  I discovered the namesakes of all the street names I knew in Barcelona, like Saint Anthony Mary Claret ( a confessor to the king and therefore suspect) or Sant Roc, a hermit and healer who was miraculously cured by an angel and nourished by a dog.  There is the dramatic, the outrageous about the saints. I like the layer in the religious hierarchy they represent though I couldn’t imagine praying to them to intercede to God for me.  Why would I, when, like a good pagan, I believe God is everywhere, within or without.  How would they serve as a model?

     That brings me to Teresa of Avila, another namesake.  In “A Tremor of Bliss, Contemporary Writers on the Saints”, Francine Prose writes “ Teresa claimed to hate writing, to be unable to write, her work is full of self-doubt, of excuses for procrastinations and apologies..Whys is she not-for these reasons alone- the patron saint of writers?”  Indeed.  So along with my inusuk, budda, ganesh statue, dirt from Latvia, the black virgin of Aglona, and other icons, I try to cover all the bases.  I need that statue of Teresa next. 


And an old poem, as I’m clearing out papers…

                       Apolonia Painted



We pointed out the flaws,

Look, a dog as big as a house

in the background,

no perspective here,

But Apolonia painted

and danced,

Her wig askew

after vodka shots,

Apolonia painted

and promised love


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Society of Consumption and a poem

As I was walking to my poetry reading in a crowd of people at a local infringement festival, a woman stopped and pointed at me.  “Flax,” she said.  “What?’  Then I looked down at my shirt; she was identifying the brand of clothing in a recognition that must have provided connection in this deeply disconnected realm.  Your brand, even if you pay little or no attention to it, serves as an identification.  It’s just one more puzzle in the world of consumption that is America.

    Today I just redeemed a $10 coupon, plus 15% off, plus another $5 off in what must be the most brilliant of sales techniques.  It brings me to a store I would never have gone into otherwise and which now I frequent though I need nothing at all.  What does this consumption replace? 

   In Barcelona, consumption was massive crowds on Saturday afternoons.  Shopping gave a sense of a happening, an event that was not to be missed.  Here in contrast, it is what takes over a part of your life that could be reserved for meeting friends, having a coffee, doing anything at all to contact with people. 

    And there no one would admit to a bargain.  While here in the US I can brag that after all my discounts the dress I’m wearing only cost $10, that would never happen in BCN.  There’s no merit to admitting you got your shirt at the rebajas at Zara.  Maybe you’re supposed to pretend everything you wear is full priced high quality that will last forever.  And that’s never the case.

    So tell me, why do YOU shop?


I’ve found some poems.


                  Common Prayer

Upstairs alone

I check off countries

Gambia, Bahrain, Sudan

from a list of possibilities.

Downstairs I hear

your child announcing

her love, your voice

smooth surprise in return.