The Wife Who Stays

 

I began this poem years ago about a neighbor in Indiana.  I watched her every day, the slow economy of her gestures.  She walked out on to the porch and sat on the swing but didn’t swing.  Soon she went back inside.   There was never sound from the house.  She wore old and unusual dresses. I never saw her go anywhere.  I’ve rewritten the poem many times.  It was difficult to choose an appropriate self-portrait so I simply didn’t.

~~~~~

The Wife Who Stays

 

She is on a ship.  Under her eyes

are stains like plums.  She is not

on a ship.  Even the still porch swing

is not gentle enough.  No wind. In the narrow

light and maddening hum of the kitchen,

drains open like the mouths

of blind fish.  It is enough to live

in a space replete with emptiness,

she grasps it will suffice.

Enough to gather motion in one’s

tense thighs and step forward

into the day, and the day, and the next.

 

For a snake might smooth out of her.

Christ might climb down for her.

Instead, her measure is inward, static.

A fly batters itself against the window

in a drone, determined, unaware of hope,

or hope’s charming, mercurial twin.

She flinches, but watches. 

 

The momentum of the world

is toward ruin and love, the unchosen

boy said.  To freeze and forget

the old heat is the dream

of the heart on this deep sea.

Pay the boatman, Missus.  A distant

dog barks as if tomorrow

is at the gate.

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Published in: on October 28, 2008 at 12:07 pm  Comments (212)  

212 Comments

  1. divine. DIVINE.

    i think this wife is within me, it is for her i leapt, and was not quiet.

    xoxoooxo
    sfc

  2. it remiund me how one can be alone withjin a marriage, how the levels of happiness have nothing to do with wed or unwed. it reminds ,me of low level depression, whichm, undiagnosed, can seem like the way thungs are EVERYWHERE. it reminds methat the unchosen boys are all out there, playin their pan flutes. i think i will find one.

    i adore you haven.

  3. Pay the boatman, Missus

    a line worthy of Plath.

  4. At the least, we should participate in our own life. For Hindus, we should participate in our own lives.

  5. I know this woman. What vivid imagery; what a beautiful, aching poem.

  6. Good gosh. This is sad. Because this is how I feel so many days. I actually forgot today is my husband’s birthday. I remembered as I was brushing my teeth at 6:30 about to leave the house and thought, OH CRAP. I don’t even have a damn porch swing.

    Your poems move me, Haven. In directions I want to go and in directions I don’t want to go, or at least don’t realize I need to go. Thank you.

  7. so sad, it makes my heart ache when i read it. what is tomorrow? is tomorrow at the gate forever, everyday? this poem was my favorite so far. evoked such strong empathy in me. i LOVED it

  8. Honestly? I don’t know how I feel about this poem. I may be wrong, but I read an objectivity here, an omniscience that grants me only an observation, but denies me a judgment — other than the killer line: “A distant dog barks as if tomorrow is at the gate.” I am stupefied by that line. I can choose to see the dog as a hound out past the swing. There is evidence for that. Or, I can hear the dog barking as a Cerberus, there is a case for that, too.

  9. …following that logic, then, and here must be the key. How I view the dog is how I evaluate the woman — seeing her as real, or a symbol of death: sufficient unto emptiness.

    …but, oh, how my mind is taxed by this one, Haven.

    I also see a Tarot card here…why is that?

  10. Suzanne, i too was thinking that all of these poems Haven has shared remind me of Plath. there seems to always be some sort of “nod” to Plath.

  11. i love the pic Haven because you look incredibly happy

  12. Even the still porch swing
    is not gentle enough…….
    Enough to gather motion in one’s
    tense thighs and step forward
    into the day
    WOW…MY most favorite part…I’ve been there.
    Porch Swings…images of childhood. Hours spent reading on one. SIGH.

  13. …it occurs to me that this is the most complex of the blog poems. To my ear, I hear the same voice in this one that I heard in Echos.

    I don’t know if I am comfortable putting these in the same basket as Plath. I would argue that Plath is all existential with no willingness to offer the reader any pathway to faith, so forget salvation. Haven presents art/beauty/fascination/love/motion as redemptive.

    I would say these poems and Haven’s imagery are wholly unique in world view and structure. In the hunt for comparisons, I would go searching through Emily D or cummings.

    Just my two cents’ worth and it may be worth less than that.

  14. …my apologies for going third person on you, Haven.

  15. George, the reminders for me are just individual words: “beebox” “maddening hum” etc.

  16. Yesterday is tomorrow’s today.

  17. You guys read like CRAZY GOOD.

    And Amanda, I own every biography of Plath written, including the ones only available in England, along with her letters, her journals, her mother’s letters, Ted’s books, everything. I wrote one of my two theses about her as an undergrad and have just always kept up with new books. But I wouldn’t imitate her even if I could, because she is a cold and a lonesome hallelujah. I believe she’s one of the greatest poets America ever produced, but I would never want to write the way she did. In the early work (as in COLOSSUS) she has magnificent precision and handles the fussy formalism of someone like Wallace Stevens with incredible grace, and I don’t want to write like that. And then in ARIEL, as much as it’s a tour de force, what guides it is not Eros but Thanatos. And there is so much power — just raw, flat-out, pedal to the floor power — in those poems I wouldn’t want to write them either.

    That said, wait until you see how many bees I have in poems. They appear CONSTANTLY. There was a beekeeper out in the country near where Julie lived, and damn-sama-lama, once an image or a metaphor becomes part of your emotional lexicon? Forget it — it’s pretty much there to stay. The first time I ever put together a collection of poems (NO IT NO LONGER EXISTS) I did a word search and here are the three words that showed up most often by far:

    Bees
    Red
    Suffering

    Yes, I know the Sesame Street telephone is ringing to tell me it’s probably naptime, but I’m ignoring it.

    p.s. George, as usual, read me with great intuition: if I could choose, I’d choose Dickinson.

  18. George — YES — this is a poem of observation and the reader is as much an observer as the poet, or so I intended. It’s also one of empathy, of course, but mostly it’s nearly journalistic, right up until the last line, which is the key. As you guessed when you were speaking as King George in the third person.

  19. Dorian, I put a little something extra in with your book.

    xo

  20. Linda, I would never hurt you purposely. In fact, I should be more mindful of which poems I post. I’m sorry.

  21. i think the dog at the gate is the love Dog that rumi spoke of, remember? “There are love dogs no one knows the name of, give your life to be one of them…” a hopeful dog, perhaps. a dog of life.

    oh my god. anyone who doesnt own the tape recording of coleman barks reading rumi…? needs to either find it online, used, or needs to at least force it from their local library. i listened to that tape of the artful coleman barks, listened to that AND gary zukav TheSeat of the Soul, AND Caroline Myss the Anatom of the Spirit, both of those tapes SAVED ME during the whole year of my trial at the the wife crime convention….LINDA, i think you need these tapes, i found them very helpful when i was struggling with big decisions….xooxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo to linda and to you all xooxo sfc

    and george, yes, youre right, haven goes one step closer to the human heart than did plath….

  22. Haven I saw in the bookstore recently that they have released a pre-Ted version of Plath’s last manuscript. If you’ve read it, what is your take on his edits to her work at the end?

  23. denise levertov. adrienne rich. sharon olds. sarah arvio. they all sound a bit like haven kimmel.

    both plath and sexton wrote from a god’s eye view of their own madness, it seems to me. both competing tpo bethe best female poet, ever, in america. it shows, they are FIERCELY TECHNICAL, like gymnasts of poetry.

    no one touches me where sextonb does. The Ambition Bird. etc.

    it is as though from where they stood, they were already dead. in sexton’s case, she WAS dead, at least once.

    Lady Lazarus.

    oh they were magnificent. a photo finish,in my book.

  24. I love this one, and as the casual observer I am, with not a comparison to make- no real history with poetry I feel the need to say again- I am moved by what comes up for me everytime I read one of your poems Haven. I cannot stop thinking of my Mother-in-law when I read this, she who stayed at home while her husband worked in the theatre in London, in her council flat with three children. It seems to me she was parked there, while he went off to live the real,full life he was meant to have. After over 20 years of waiting for him to come through the door each night, usually after midnight because it was the theatre after all, she found out he had a woman in London, a woman he had been with almost as long as her. I never knew him, but she carried that bitterness and regret to the end. An amazing Grandmother and friend to me, but such sadness.

  25. yet there is wisdom in what ruth gordon said…

    “To be someone, you must last.”

  26. “to freeze and forget the old heat is the dream of the heart on this deep sea” — passion frozen/dream forgotten/sea becalmed and drains like blind fish. Very eloquent. Thanks.

  27. i wonder how hughes dared to touch it.

  28. Oh Haven, you did not hurt me. You could never hurt me. You make me feel and that is a gift. As you know, being new into sobriety as I am is bringing up all kinds of things. It is all good. It is far far better than numbing myself up with alcohol. That is easier but it is not better. Your words life me up. All of them.

  29. i really do admire ted hughes. haven MADE ME buy the Birthday Letters, and they’re magnificent. he is a great poet.,

    that said, no one i feel has the right to edit Plath…especially not Hughes.

  30. Suzanne: right!!!! and she didn’t strike him from the grave…

  31. Your words LIFT me up, that is. They LIFE me up as well. LOL

  32. Caryl, Fay Weldon has a MONSTROUSLY GOOD book (without the terrible sadness of your story) about a similar situation called WORST FATES. It’s maybe the blackest book she ever wrote, and I LOVED it.

    Amanda, I don’t have the pre-Ted (really pre-Ted’s terrifying sister) ordering of the poems, because I can’t leave my house. That’s such a lie. I can leave my house, I just have to have someone else drive me, which any one of 50 people would do, I just never ask. In fact, if I called the Regulator right now and asked someone to bring the book TO ME, they would. What did you think of it?

    Here’s something I’m going to find in Heaven: Plath’s last two notebooks, the one Hughes burned and the one he ‘lost.’ I respect him as a poet, I do, but imagine what Twain would say about THAT literary offense.

  33. Haven, Haven, Haven. Here you are sending out massive stacks of signed books for FREE to all these people and without a new book on/by Sylvia Plath. That is just not ok.

    Do you have a post office box at which you receive mail? I was going to ask for another reason, but now I have two.

  34. WORST FEARS is the weldon book. fay weldon ? all her books? masterpieces of joy and truth.

    and SPLITTING is good as well.

  35. I would maintain SOMETHING struck Hughes from the grave, because when Plath died, Hughes was in Spain with Assia Wevil, who moved into Plath’s Devon home for a short time, living among her beautiful things. (She was a domestic genius.) And immediately she knew she could never compare, she would never match not only Plath’s greatness but the added tragic gorgeousness of her death. She and Hughes had a beautiful, beautiful child together, a little girl, and when the child was two (I think, she might have also been five, I’m not good with numbers), Assia gassed herself AND the child. When Olwyn, Ted’s sister, called Ted’s mother to tell her that a second wife of Hughes had committed suicide AND killed the child, his mother died of a stroke. I’m not cruel enough to say that wasn’t punishment enough for any man.

    Plath’s tombstone (I just last night found a photograph I took of it) reads:

    SYLVIA PLATH HUGHES

    EVEN AMIDST FIERCE FLAMES, THE GOLDEN LOTUS CAN BE PLANTED.

    But Assia’s reads:

    ASSIA WEVIL

    EXILE, AND LOVER OF UNREASON

  36. haven! when i was at the queen weldon’s home in 05, her husband nick fox was playing and singing a FIERCE song…and all at once i realized it was the theme song for WORST FEARS. oh my god. her husband is brilliant jazz pianist….anyway, there’s a play in the works or a film in the works for WORST FEARS…everything takes forever, naturally…

  37. Amanda, I generally receive mail at my home, so I don’t have to walk very far. I’m quite a delicate person.

    My sister just threw up a tad.

    I’ll send you my address.

  38. i wouldn’t presume to punish ted hughes or anyone! yet i would also not want him to spread my ashes.

    i think the quote you raised earlier that james baldwin said sums it up “we pay very simply for the things we do…we pay with the lives we lead..” and i never would inflict more pain on ted hughes.

    LOVER OF UNREASON is a great , great book. a cautionary tale,really.

  39. the little girl of hughes and weevil was five. a terrible tragedy. LOVER OF UNREASON suggests that the british press and hughes covered that story up as far as it could,with highes revising facts; you can hardly blame him. he must have felt like some sort of grim reaper, i think wevil and her daughter’s death notice only appeared briefly in one small article…

  40. “Here’s something I’m going to find in Heaven: Plath’s last two notebooks, the one Hughes burned and the one he ‘lost.’ I respect him as a poet, I do, but imagine what Twain would say about THAT literary offense.”

    oh my god. twain would give a withering quip about it— AND THEN HE WOULD write a cripplingly funny diatribe on it. get that from Twain, in heaven, baby!!!

    oh! oh! and the thought of Wevil FLIPPING THROUGH PLATH’S DIARY just weeks/ months past her suicide, and living in her house. oh my GOD. doesnt it just suck the air out of your lungs????? OH MY GOD. it do me. whew!

  41. that bit about their gravestones is just the saddest thing ever.

  42. i just found it…

    James Baldwin’s theory of karma:

    “We pay for the things we do. And we pay very simply, by the lives we lead.”

  43. UNDER THE CATEGORY OF ‘OH MY GOD’?

    i just now received an email from weldon’s husband in the UK./! just NOW. and it refers to a quote we had been searching for , months ago, in re: to it being the worst time ever, in america, because of the war and the economic and political crisis we’re in?

    Edgar:

    The worst is not,
    So long as we can say,
    ‘This is the worst’.

    King Lear
    (Act IV, Scene I)

    so apparently this blog has connections everywhere. i love that. it has summoning powers.

  44. …and just one more from the great james baldwin, my FAVORITE BOOK of his:

    “People can’t invent their friends or lovers, any more than their parents.
    Life gives these, and takes them away, and the great difficulty is to say
    yes to life.”

    -James Baldwin “Giovanni’s Room

  45. I ( like everyone else I’m sure) discovered Plath in high school when everything was dark and scary and heartbreaking…I loved her so fiercly then and I still do.
    My favorite, favorite poem by her:
    First, are you our sort of a person?
    Do you wear
    A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
    A brace or a hook,
    Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

    Stitches to show something’s missing? No, no? Then
    How can we give you a thing?
    Stop crying.
    Open your hand.
    Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

    To fill it and willing
    To bring teacups and roll away headaches
    And do whatever you tell it.
    Will you marry it?
    It is guaranteed

    To thumb shut your eyes at the end
    And dissolve of sorrow.
    We make new stock from the salt.
    I notice you are stark naked.
    How about this suit—-

    Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
    Will you marry it?
    It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
    Against fire and bombs through the roof.
    Believe me, they’ll bury you in it.

    Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
    I have the ticket for that.
    Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
    Well, what do you think of that?
    Naked as paper to start

    But in twenty-five years she’ll be silver,
    In fifty, gold.
    A living doll, everywhere you look.
    It can sew, it can cook,
    It can talk, talk, talk.

    It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
    You have a hole, it’s a poultice.
    You have an eye, it’s an image.
    My boy, it’s your last resort.
    Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.

  46. Oops…The Applicant by Sylvia Plath

  47. I just called The Regulator to see if they had gotten NOT THE NEW PLATH, CLOUDY, but Ted Hughes’s Collected Letters (which is $45!), and my dear, dear friend David Felton answered the phone, and he reads the blog too! I told him to cease lurking and join us. He’s one of the most brilliant, kind-hearted, capable, well-read men I know. And CUTE. Like KATE. (Not really — cute like a dude.) I wanted my daughter to marry him but she was too young. Then I wanted to marry him but I’m too old.

  48. Lover of Unreason is in my pile of books Haven says are must haves, so I am so excited to start it tonight, especially with this thread we are on.
    I am just finishing Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg, about his daughter, who, in his words ,is struck mad the summer she is fifteen. Good book.

  49. Amy in Ohio, that is one of her great, great poems. Notice how every single word works to move the narrative toward what Lacan called ‘desire,’ by which he meant a lack. She can do it with images and she can do with sounds. Listen to her reading ‘Daddy,’ and just try to count those ‘ooooo’ sounds. Like a spirit.

  50. She is magical isn’t she? I always wonder if she had lived in today’s world with all of our knowledge of mental illness if she would have been as gifted or as creative. Would her madness if you will, have been so obviously woven into her verses?

  51. Ordering Hurry Down Sunshine right now.

    Speaking of daughters, you know I worship mine and believe her to be the most perfect human being since the carpenter from Nazareth. Yeah, so last night I walked in the house from the barn and she was standing there with her boyfriend (whom I adore) and I was all like, “Hey babygirl!! I didn’t know you were coming over!” She said, “We stopped by to pick up the first season of THE WIRE.” I said, “Oh, that’s cool, you’re welcome to them. But you MUST come out and see the taxidermy that arrived today, you WILL NOT believe it.” She rolled her eyes as if she were fifteen and said, “We have to GO. It’s nearly seven and I have to start a fire or we’ll freeze.” I said, “I beg your pardon. You drove all the way here to TAKE MY DVDs and LEAVE?” She thought a second, then said, “That’s about right.” Thank god for her civilized boyfriend, T., who said, “I’d LOVE to see the taxidermy,” so we came out and looked at it and Kat if you’re reading this you’d BETTER be nicer to me. I’m very delicate.

  52. Confession: I never, ever was capable of warming up to Plath. Some things, yes, but in the sense of looking at an exquisite diamond. Same deal with Monk. I wanted to be enraptured with both, but there is an organic dissonance there that prevents it. In art, it’s the same thing with Jackson Pollock. I cannot seem to get there.

  53. Haven: thanks for your reply to Amy…another pathway. I am not giving up, mind you. On any of them I mentioned. But they have been in limbo for awhile.

  54. i wonder what number The Regulator is in Haven’s speeddial

  55. I HIGHLY recommend LOVER OF UNREASON. It exposes everything the Hughes family kept hidden.

    Amy, it’s so funny you’d ask that question, because a couple weeks ago I was chatting with my friend the mentalist, the man I pay to converse with me, and he asked how I had responded to David Foster Wallace’s death. I told him how my feelings about it had changed over the days and weeks following, after I’d heard how ill he was. Then I said, “You know, I spent years and years and YEARS reading Plath biographies, and every time I got to the end I would think, ‘Please please please, babysitter, get there on time, please someone smell the gas.’ But even more than that I wanted to save her myself, I wanted to say to her, ‘It is 1963. You are barely thirty years old. You can’t imagine what’s ahead of you. You’re about to be recognized as an American genius; first-wave feminism is going to change your life; AND THERE SHALL BE PHARMACEUTICALS DELIVERED UNTO THEE BY THE LORD.” My mentalist laughed and said, “The feeling you had about saving her? Welcome to my world, every day.” Bittersweet.

  56. George,

    Re: your comments about Plath and Monk. Scoot over. I’m riding with you.

  57. JODI AND GEORGE: Noses in the corner. You may come out when you can say you’re sorry and mean it.

  58. Jodi: are you a passenger or the driver/navigator? Either way is ok by me.

  59. Haven, before I lose this thought, and even though we did Solace 8 posts ago..there is a part in Hurry Down where his Mother is explaining to him why she thinks her one son is mentally ill, owning what she beleives is her part in it, that broke my heart in the same way that AnnaLee did when talking to Amos about her love for Langston.

  60. Suzanne, that Baldwin quote was in a letter I sent our special friend, not here on the blog. Sweet creeping critters, that’s the maddest I’ve been in YEARS.

  61. Haven,

    My takes on Plath and Monk aren’t a personal affront, my dear friend! I love Epistrophy and ‘Round Midnight, but some of that stuff is so far out, it’s … well, out. Like Miles in his later years. A trumpet blip here, one there. I got my degrees in music at I.U. Bloomington, I’ve been a pianist for forty (40)years, and I Don’t Get It. But I can’t apologize, although for you I will put my nose in the corner.

    As for Plath … best I say nothing.

  62. George,

    You better drive. My sense of direction is a serious handicap. I’ll keep an eagle eye out for the nearest Starbucks.

  63. George,

    Okay. Mark Rothko. Thumbs up or down?

  64. Jodi: you’re a troublemaker.

    Let me tell you a story.

    Each year my church sponsors a house tour of some really fine dwellings in and around Georgetown. I generally volunteer to visit these houses a day or two before the tour to tack and tape down plastic walkways for the hordes to walk as they tromp around these people’s houses.

    In one house, which is owned by a prominent architect, there is Rothko above the fireplace. All I can say is that both of its colors were a great accent for the room.

    …nuff said? Bear in mind, I am a Hoosier and come from very humble origins and there is a lot about lot more that I know nothing about.

  65. Haven: I will head straight for the corner until you tell me I can leave or send Tony Soprano or a guru over to ‘splain’ some things to me.

  66. George, I always have this picture of you in my head when I read your posts, and its such a pleasant picture. I will drive so you and Jodi can sit in the back and let me be worthy of just listening to the two of you.

  67. Haven,

    Just a thought … shouldn’t there be rules against poets marrying each other? At least, shouldn’t they promise not to have children? I think Plath had the deck stacked against her by marrying Hughes. The drama in that household had to be mind-bending.

    I think there should be rules about musicians marrying each other. Unless one or both agree to get non-musician jobs, the poverty and strife levels are astronomical. Being a musician, I can attest to this one.

  68. Okay, I am officially sick..not sure I am even making sense anymore. Somebody call my husband please, or give me Havens life alert.

  69. GEORGE: if you see a tarot card i think it may be the .,..what? the six of cups? the 7 of cups? it’s the one minor arcana card that shows a mourning figure who is standing near ten cups — six of which (or 7 of which?) are spilled on the ground and 4 of which (or 3 of which) are still standing, but she doesn’t see them right now…
    ….on the face of it, it’s all loss, but that’s not the real story….

    also? i heard you got a bitchen motorcycle jacket at Goodwill for $25. WOW. TWENTY FIVE BUCKS. whew.

  70. George,

    Yes. I am a troublemaker. Haven once called me SATAN WOMAN.

    I was just ASKIN’ about Rothko, buddy. If I had a choice between Rothko and Sargent or Rossetti, you’d be looking at Pre-Raphaelite over my fireplace. No apologies.

  71. Caryl: you seem feverish dear…that picture of me you carry in your head is actually Ernest Borgnine!!!

    ————-

    You know what I wish.

    I wish that our human DNA was wired in such a way that we could no more take our own lives than we can take off and fly or breathe underwater.

    That’s what I wish.

  72. Caryl,

    Hope you’re feeling better soon.

    When you’re driving George and me around, will you stop at all the Starbucks we pass? I’ll buy.

  73. Listen up…I am officially in the corner, but that jacket is — and no offense intended here — bitchin’ I should take a picture of it and put it in the yahoo auxiliary site.

  74. i love Rothko!

  75. Me? If I owned a fireplace I’d have a picture of some dogs playing poker.

  76. thumbs up for rothko, but not TWO thumbs up.

    and yes. i listened to the great sylvia plath reading her poetry aloud on audio tape, every day while i was an english major. then i’d sit down at the electric typewriters , which were located in the same room, at the undergrad library (25 cents = 20 minutes) and i would write poems. very bad poems, i’m afraid…but still. it was magic. recently i felt bereft to visit the same library and see that of course that room was gone. it had seemingly disappeared in its entirety.

  77. Jodi, I have never met a starbucks I didn’t like, my daughter told her Dads girlfriend that I spend all of our money there-she was only ten at the time. Steph, not the girlfriend. And your fireplace could be in my house.

  78. is george dissing thelonius monk? OH MY GOD. george, george, george….

  79. Ok, folks, permission to leave the corner sought for a two-fold mission tonight. 1. Visit friend in hospital and give her audio books (Haven, I could only get Used World at the library.) 2. Go to Obama headquarters and make calls. I am taking nothing for granted. I will check in later.

  80. …if you read carefully what I had written you will see that I put the onus entirely upon myself…please bear in mind that I was a journalism major who dabbled in English, who took but one art history class and who cannot even play a radio — let alone be qualified to judge music.

  81. OOOhhhh Jodi and George, I don’t mean to contribute to the mutiny here but could I ride in the backseat with you? I have never been able to listen to jazz..end up gazing at all the rapt people around me feeling bewildered that I am missing something important, which I’m sure I am, but still…my brain is not hard wired for it, and Jodi, I will bring ALL my books on John Singer Sargent for us to look at while Caryl drives…but what’s on the cd player? I know! Haven reading Zippy!

  82. Haven,

    Jody (husband) and I own an album (yep, a vinyl disc) that’s a tribute to Monk by lots of great musicians. It’s called That’s the Way I Feel Now: A Tribute to Thelonious Monk. Doctor John, Joe Jackson, Todd Rundgren, and lots of other great players do phenomenal renditions of Monk’s music. Do you know it?

  83. I never got Pollack until I visited the Boston Museum of Art one year and I turned a corner and there was a medium-sized canvas hanging at the end of a hallway, so I saw it from a distance at first and it LITERALLY took my breath away. The closer I got the less I could understand how he had done it, and then I realized, “Oh. He had greatness in him; that’s how.”

  84. JODI i love the joni mitchell album to Monk. incredible.

    and George: the tarot card YOU’RE talking about is The Moon. it has the dog, the moon, the whole sad crazy vibe right on it.

    the card this poem of haven’s makes me think of is the one i described earlier.

    as if! i know nothing! all ive eaten today is two doughnuts. that’s not brain food.

  85. Jodi, that may be one of the few Monk-related items I don’t have.

  86. JODI “If I had a choice between Rothko and Sargent or Rossetti, you’d be looking at Pre-Raphaelite over my fireplace. No apologies.”

    Can i have that choice? I’ll take the Titian, please. And a little something in a Rodin, for my front yard.

    no apologies from me either! and maybe a really big toulouse latrec circus poster….

  87. Jazz Fusion can be annoying to me personally. but that’s art ALL OVER. if someone isn’t uncomfortable it don’t qualify! huh.

  88. Joni did an album tribute to Monk?? I WANT it!! — She did one of Mingus, where he pretty much commissioned her to write lyrics, as he was on his deathbed — I know that record inside out. Joni: “so which of these [contrapuntal] melodies do you want me to write lyrics to?” Mingus: “All of them.”

  89. And thank God our preferences aren’t character flaws: I’d have my head handed to me on a platter by Cy Twombly’s fans.

  90. If I were the Queen of Art Acquisition? Caravaggio, Titian, the Pre-Raphaelites, and a very specific Van Gogh. All of Leslie Staub’s paintings and tons and tons of photography, particularly everything by Graeme Mitchell and John Rosenthal.

    Damn, now I want that Monk tribute album. But not Joni and Mingus, Jesus what a friggin’ disaster that sounds like. Sorry, Carrie.

  91. I recognized the listlessness. Struggling with chronic illness and having a porch swing to boot, I recognize aspects of this person. But there is always the redeeming hope that it’s just a day, it’ll pass and tomorrow I’ll feel more energy for living.

    I enjoy reading your work so much.

  92. I think it would have been if she’d written what he wanted, but she had more sense than to write that train wreck. There’s not a cut on that CD that doesn’t transport me. Dry Cleaner From Des Moines? A Chair in the Sky? I wish to hell I’d been at these sessions. All the same, Joni is not for everyone, and Joni + Mingus is for fewer still.

  93. Which Van Gogh? I saw a show of them at the Smithsonian once and they are small (like postcard size to 8 x 10, who knew?!) and they glow and glow and hypnotize you. Especially the wheat fields and the self portraits and the japanese ones. Ah..the reproductions are never as fine after seeing them for real. The same goes for the Madame X of Sargent. Lavender Skin OMG!

  94. I haven’t read enough poetry to have an opinion.

    I like jazz.

    My favorite painter is Bosch.

  95. Also, Haven is precious in her glasses, is she not?

  96. Brenda, that’s exactly right — the Van Gogh’s are small! I’d have to find this one; it’s in the National Gallery in DC and it’s a curving wheatfield and then right up at the front of the painting (how can that be? how can he give a one-dimensional space a FRONT?) there’s this BURST of red flowers, like poppies, and the paint is much thicker, and oh my god to see it is to believe. It is to know.

    And YES, if I could choose one painting to go over my fireplace it would be Sargent’s Madame X. I’ve never seen anything so ethereal and real all at once. (Also I’m attached to it because my ears, too turn red at the tops when I’m shy.)

    And can we just say Van Meer?!?

  97. Geeez I leave for a few hours and ya’ll blow up the blog with comments. I’m much to tired, or lazy, to read everything, but I have an off topic question.

    How does everyone feel about parents gifting 16yr olds with a brand new vehicle the minute they get their DL?

  98. i was wrong again. joni dod a MINGUS tribute, not a Monk. GOD HELP ME.

  99. Haven,
    The Night Cafe with Pool Table?

  100. SPLUTTER!!! I am crashing… crashing… crashing… cannot move. So tired. Cake for dinner did not help. Obviously I should just go to bed, given that.

  101. OKay. i LOVE the JONI/MINGUS album.

    esp. the “dry cleaner from des moines” song about gambling…

    “…but the cleaner from des moines could put a coin
    in the door of the john and get 20 to 1……it’s just luck…!

    that cat’s got luck!

    that cat’s got luck!”

  102. and WHY did i post that? there should be a delete button for these here comments.

  103. what kind of cake, Almostclouds?

  104. Madame X? HOT.

  105. caryl: i answered your ? about your dear friend, on my blog….oxox sfc

  106. haven is incapable of taking a poor photograph. it’s a cross i have to bear. she’s bloody gorgeous.

  107. suzanne: homemade carrot cake. i even shredded the carrots myself.

  108. okay, you’re one of the bakers who bake. come live with me. my arms are already big. it;s t oo late for me. let me eat cake….for every meal!

    okaay, when i used to be in advertising? we had a slogan for Heinz’s “manwich” sloppy Joe mix…we were supposed to be catering to stay at home wives who cooked for their hungry annoyed husbands/ that was the strategy, i swaer! the slogan?

    MANWICH. SERVES THE FUCKKER RIGHT.

  109. OHHHHHHHHH Suzanne! THAT made my night. It’s so true.

  110. Jodi~ Your husband’s name is Jody as well? That’s awesome!
    Suzanne, I was grocery shopping tonight and as I passed thru the frozen food aisle my wandering eyes caught sight of a frozen Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake and I thought fondly of you!

  111. Joni did the Mingus tribute in Don juan’s Reckless Daughter. Last year herbie hancock dId a Joni tribute — one in which he turned River inside out.

  112. One more Plath quote and then I am done, I promise!
    One of my favorite literary lines ever written are the following from the Bell Jar:
    Carefully I stored the toy matches in the hem of my new wool bathrobe. If Dr. Nolan asked me for the matches, I would say I’d thought they were made of candy and had eaten them.
    I never know whether to laugh or cry when I read this.

  113. Okay, we all need to take a deep breath and regroup, because HELLO, I love Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, which of course is NOT a Monk tribute, SUZANNE “LET ME CONFUSE THE EPILEPTIC” FINNAMORE, and damn straight Herbie Hancock turned River inside out, so I think y’all need to get your facts straight because as you know, I am fragile.

  114. Amy: laugh.

  115. haven…do you have the herbie hancock cd? i bought FOUR.

  116. for me, the bell jar was the tie breaker ‘tween plath and sexton. loved that book. dont know why except that it’s perfect.

  117. Did I mention I love this poem? I do.

  118. Thank you, KatieCake.

    Feeling better?

  119. Suzanne- there is a Rodin exhibit at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville right now! My first exposure to Rodin was in 1981 when I was a student at the Corcoran School of Art in DC. There was an AMAZING exhibit at the National Gallery. I remember walking down some stairs straight into the Gates of Hell and that was it. I was done. In love.

    But, my greatest love will always be Van Gogh. No one else comes close. Well, except for Cezanne and Modigliani.

  120. and matisse. and kahlo.

  121. “the wife who stays” is a great title, btw. GREAT. love all your poems, chickweed.

  122. Slightly! Well enough to sit in a chair with my trusty laptop!

  123. Is Caryl Hayes here? I tried – twice – to post what a snood is on the other thread. I don’t see it anywhere. So if you’re still curious, let me know. And if Haven doesn’t mind, I’ll hijack the thread to tell a snood story of my own.

  124. Oops! Just found it over on the other one… scrolled too fast. (blush)

  125. “She flinches, but watches.”

    That seems to say… everything.

    This is the first bit of time I have had to really read this poem. It is… tough. Conflicting. I can’t figure out if tomorrow at the gate is ominous or hopeful, but my first read through felt ominous.

    I like it very much.

  126. Taking my sorry ass over to the other blog right now sock monkey, and I want the story.

  127. Other post, not blog. See, my sorry sick ass I should say.

  128. Please, Sock Monkey, we want the snood story.

    Also, Linda — do you still make art?

  129. I feel so lost when it comes to poetry. If I say I’ve been loving all of these, it’s only because there is something in each that resonates for me, not because I can speak with any intelligence whatsoever about poetry. But they do. Resonate.

  130. I’m with Carrie. I’m not even going to begin to analyze the poems…I’m just gonna go with the emotions they elicit.

    HK – I love this picture, and OMG is that a HOT shade of lipstick.

  131. Snood story… this could/will be a HUGE let down. I was bartending (yup, sock monkey was a bartender too. Helped me get over my shyness.) one night when the manager started talking about he and his wife were watching “White Christmas” the night before. He was talking about the scene were Danny Kay and Bing Crosby are getting ready to buy train tickets and the dialogue went like this:

    Phil Davis (Danny Kay): [Buying train tickets] Uh, I don’t seem to have any cash.
    Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby): Where’d you leave that? In your snood?

    Mike said he and his wife turned to each other and at the same time said “Snood? What’s a snood?”
    Without missing a beat or even looking up I replied that it was a hair net, usually crocheted, that women would wear in the 40’s. Complete silence in the bar. I finally looked up and Mike was looking at me in complete disbelief and asked how I the hell did I know that. And for the love of God, I had no idea. I just did.

    If you ever want to play Trivial Pursuit with me, be fair warned. There’s a ton of useless facts and junk just rolling around the ole noggin and I never know what’s going to pop out. Weightier literary matters I leave to the experts (George, Amanda, Sher, Suzanne, Linda, Dee… ok the list is way to long, so, everyone here.)

  132. Sock Monkey, that was great. I love WC, I have been known to wear a snood or two, and I LOVE TRIVIAL PURSUIT.

  133. Snoods are the sort of thing that very few women can pull off with aplomb. Kate and I happen to be those women.

  134. Brandon, Scott took two close-ups, one of my lips and one of my eyes. I’ll find them and post them on the BlogBabies thingy.

  135. I’m going to grow my hair out just so I can gather it in netting.

  136. God, like everybody wants to see close-ups of my weirdo face. I’ll just mail them to you.

  137. Katy Cake, we’ll have to play. It’s one of the few board games I enjoy. And we have to have my friend Kim along. Cruel cosmic joke that it is, every time she gets a history question, the answer is ALWAYS Hitler. AND SHE NEVER, EVER GETS IT!!! Did I mention she’s Jewish?

  138. Brandon, have them printed on tshirts, and then sell them to blog babies.

  139. For a picture of women wearing snoods: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Women_workers_in_snoods_1942.gif

  140. Nice picture!

    Also, hilarious about your friend!

    My family is absurdly good at TP, but my husband says he is very dependent on the orange pies since no one else knows anything about sports, except my dad who knows EVERYTHING about everything.

  141. I have been over at the other post, patiently waiting for the snood story, and it was here all the time. Way to mess with a sick girl.

  142. Ok. Hubby is making me go to bed. I only slept 4 hours last night, and God knows I need all the beauty rest I can get.

  143. “But I wouldn’t imitate her even if I could, because she is a cold and a lonesome hallelujah.” and apparently a little something extra in your blog, cutie pie. Anyway, Plath made me feel crazier than I already was. The whole thing in the Bell Jar about why bother to shower because she would just have to do it again tomorrow. I seriously feel that way about washing my hair already. Sometimes I go a week. And for goodness sakes you can still bathe. But Haven again with the Rorshark inkblots. I think a lot of poetry just speaks to where one is and there frame of mind at the time. I love the tiny tendrils of hope that work their way through your poetry, even when the subject seems bleak. Unlike your beautiful picture. Again it is the hand held out saying Here is a slim wisp of hope, we can cling to this just as easily as grasp at our despair. But you have caught me in a cheery moment. I hope I am asleep at 3am because if not, god only knows what certain coworkers who shall remain unnamed are in for in the morrow. And the only thing in that book better be an invoice or I can’t be responsible for what I may do. What was that line Catherine used in “Wuthering Heights?” The red cow didn’t die by chance” or some such nonsense. What I am saying is I have mystical powers and you may find yourself the beneficiary of more money than you know how to spend. Even on books. Love, Melissa

  144. I only slept four hours, too! And I just asked John if Iorek can sleep in our bed now. He weighs 135 pounds. John was at his desk and instead of discussing it with me the way a husband ought to, he simply said in his deliciously melodious voice, “No.”

  145. I frequently have about 100 pounds of children in bed with me, as well as 300 pounds of husband (he’s very tall) and never-you-mind pounds of me. Sardines, I tell you. We might have to do the Brangelina thing and just push a bunch of King Size beds together.

  146. Okay, I meant their, not there. And my quotation marks are all wonky. I am going to bed. Can you heat up warm milk and put Kahlua in it or does the Caffeine take away the benefit of the liquor? Just asking.

  147. Big mistake letting a dog into your marital bed. Ours is only 18 pounds, but has to sleep between us, under the covers, no less.

  148. My husband and I actually sleep under separate blankets. I am a HUGE blanket thief.

  149. Snoods? Do you work at See’s candy store on the side? I would pay to see a picture of that. Both of you. I thought I could pull off shoulder pads in the eighties. And I am five foot ten barefoot.

  150. I don’t have any snoods anymore. I sold off the bulk of my vintage on eBay. But…maybe…

  151. I love babies in the bed, but I have been known to move the snoring husband to another room. Right now I have Charlie in my bed, Jack on the sofa in my room, husband and me, and we have 6 bedrooms!

  152. I don’t have any snoods anymore. I sold off the bulk of my vintage on eBay. But…maybe…

  153. My daughter doesn’t like sleeping with me anymore. She likes to spread out and is NOT a cuddler. Waaah!

  154. Oh kate, do not cry. Just wait until you are going through menopause and your husband likes to cuddle and has the body temperature of a flaming ember. Not to mention a soft palate that sounds like that damn Didjeridu, which the first time I heard on NPR I mistook for the cat throwing up. There is something to be said for sleeping on the couch. Or if your home is very small and there is only one door to close the bathtub works pretty well. The porcelain feels so good against burning flesh.

  155. Oh Dorian, I know the trials of living with a snorer- is that how you describe one who snores? And they always deny the fact they snore, don’t they. My baby has been known to snore as well, but I would never kick him out of bed.
    Come stay with me in one of the above mentioned 6 bedrooms. In fact, I would love to host a Haven Holiday here, for all of the blog babies. Wouldn’t California in the winter be divine for all of you mid-west and easterners?

  156. well – this is such an eclectic blog thread isn’t it . . . ???

    re snoods. Watch out for smegma.

    re art.

    It is so individual, that is why there are so many kinds. Sometimes, I even think that particular works of art can only be appreciated by other artists because it is so process and technique driven, and the general audience doesn’t need to know how many hours, days, tears, swears, went into the creation. They want to feel something. Or maybe they want to recognize something. Or maybe they want to contemplate something. The viewer brings their own baggage to the museum with them – there is so much transference . . . and NOTHING beats seeing it eye to eye.

    One guy gets in my craw – Thomas Kincaide. He is Walmart. He is cottage porn. I don’t like Cy Twombly, either!

    If I could have one painting in my sacred abode it would be Francisco de Zurbaran'”St Francis in Meditation”

    http://www.metmuseum.org/special/Manet_Velazquez/85.L.htm

    2nd – Klimt’s “Girl in a White Dress” can be seen at Neue Galleries, NYC, 5th av, across from Met, but before the Guggie.

    Van Gogh is amazing. To me, he is the epitome of an artist – he was driven beyond bodily comforts to paint. There is an extreme madness that goes hand in hand with creativity – of any kind. What holds me to the earth somedays is the simple fact that I have to get Claire on the bus by 8:01 a.m. These earthly responsibilities take away so much from the flow of ideas, the creation of them – but I have, after many years of fighting, accepted that now is not my time – my time is on the periphery and I get done, what I can when I can. And, baby, can I sqeeze a lot of juice out from 11 pm – 4 am.

    This particular poem takes me back to the time when I was about 30 – truly deciding, because I had the luxury of thinking about it, what I wanted to do and what kind of person I wanted to fully become.

    It takes quietness, and acceptance of your negative and positive feelings, to reach a state of readiness for action.

    I find this poem beautiful and above all hopeful. Because this was just a time of reflection. I can remember saying and screaming – I hate my life. Yet, I was stunned by that statement and I had to cry in the shower until I fell to my knees in sorrow, then process those unearthed emotions, before I could move onto the next steps.

    Re Plath. She was not for this world. From an early age she was suicidal and lent towards mental instability. Hughes was not a good mix, but I don’t think anything is his fault. She was on her own road. As horrendous as it was, she left behind ground breaking honesty and her tortured soul needed release. I just do not struggle with suicide.

    when my ex was leaving he wanted to have my new number and I was like what for? He: well what if I call you saying I want to kill myself? I said: I will bring you a gun and help you pull the trigger. Just – move on.

    Artists who have reached authenticity are fully capable of maintaining successful relationships. I know of many artists/musicians/writer couples and they balance one another perfectly. It is the ego driven that are unable to have relationships with any other humans, whether or not they be artists.

    George – I have purchased my MOST beloved items for my body and my home from GOODWILL – I love to buy up old wool sweaters, wash them up in hot water ’til they shrink, then I can cut them in crazy shapes and stitch them into a “crazy” quilted throw or sweater or pillow . . . pre-cycling at its best (not to mention that wool, feltable yarn is EXPENSIVE) – just Tuesday I bought some sweaters for 50 CENTS each . . .!!!!! My veil for my wedding came from Goodwill! You be proud man! Show me that jacket! $25 is way pricey for Goodwill!!!!

  157. I have to sign – off, and it doesn’t look like many are here . . .

    My toes are freezing in TN tonight!!! burr! And I have to get up and make breakfast for my niece (18) who is moving to Naval Airstation in Pensacola and stopped by tonight to rest her weary head . . . she is gearing up for POW training (they will lock her in a box for 6 days) . . . they can break small bones and hit her open-handed JUST for training.

    I am dying inside. I just hope Barack settles some of this craziness before she is scheduled for air drops in Afganistan & Iraq – 14 days each, with 6 days on planes inbetween – what the f???

    If you pray, pray for her – Sher’s niece, Danyalle. Just that she will have a future and will not be lost in anyway by our misguided leaders.

  158. Hey Sher, still here. You nail it exactly. Too start with the mundane, I got a chocolate velveteen coat at goodwill with orange satin lining, ankle length of course, and all I had to do was sew maribou onto the sleeves to make them long enough. Slightly Jimi Hendrix, but damn do I look hot in it. And on artists who make it work, John and Yoko (I know), Paul Newman and his lovely wife, who I will really pray for. Did you read how when they asked him how he stayed faithful with all the temptresses in hollywood throwing themselves at him he said “Why settle for hamburger when you have steak at home?” Love him. I need to write more but the husband is pissed off that he is not getting my attention so I have to go kiss him goodnight and get my pillow and air mattress ready for the bathtub. And when ever I wake him to tell him he is snoring he answers sweetly “How can I be snoring when I am not even asleep?” Honestly. I must have some serious snoring karma. Maybe I was Attilla the Hun in a past life. Who knows these things?

  159. Okay Sher, now about your niece, I swear she will be okay. She may need therapy but hopefully it will be paid for by the government in the future. After all what is the good of socialism (Which we now have, without the benefits of healthcare, social security, or any that I can think of…) if we cant take care of our troops once they come home. Our nephew Eli got called up for his second tour and just got back. They called his wife as well. They had both just joined the reserves in order to get a college education and ended up serving in the Gulf war. Then ten years later they had a child and our wonderful government decided to call them up to serve in Iraq because they had both re signed in order not to lose their benefits (health care, etc.) Anyhow it is not safe over there because they are sending a bunch of misfits that are not qualified to fight. But Eli is home and safe and just a little worse for the wear and tear. His wife got permanent discharge with benefits because she is about 4 feet tall and carrying all that armament ruined her back. And those dear brave souls who are there we just have to pray for everyone of them. Thich Nhat Hahn runs a monastery in France where he rehabilitates veterans for free. It is called Plum Village. There is hope and lots of it. Do not let your mind focus on the what if or you will drive yourself insane. Just keep praying for God’s will to serve her gently if that is what she came here for. And I mean to this incarnation of life. As one of my smart clients told me, “If you knew that you were just playing a part in a puppet show, wouldn’t you volunteer for any part, no matter how awful?” Meaning this is not reality. We have greater things in store and are merely here to learn to live. Breathe in the bad and breathe out the good as some brilliant soul told me on this very blog. Only I can not remember who to thank or give credit to because I cant find that taxidermy thread. Oh well. Enough preaching for one night. I think I have an episode of True Blood to watch on my DVR. If not there is always NPR, since all of you seem to be sleeping so peacefully. I definitely earned my tiara tonight. I may wear it to work on Thursday. Bless you all.

  160. Sher again, What about Paul Klee, Dog Howling at the Moon. Genius. Georgia O’Keefe is here at Moma, I think. I just haven’t had a chance to see it yet. I love the Palace of Fine Arts in the Presidio. What a gorgeous remodel they did. One day I got in free because it was after 4 and passed Rodin and the sculpture garden and the hallways were filled with music because they had a pianist giving a free concert that night. I got to walk those hallowed halls and listen to the most beautiful music I had ever heard while looking at all that art. I thought I had been transported directly to heaven even if it was for just an hour.

  161. OOPS, I think I meant Freida Kahlo. What a dingbat I am these days. Caryl, where do you live? I am in Marin. I am thinking of getting a small camper and parking it in the condo parking lot and using it as an extra bedroom when he goes into overdrive. The neighbors would love it. I could put the trash into trashy if I wanted to and sometimes I am tempted with the level of preciousness here in Me Valley. 🙂

  162. Particles of Spirit. NO. They will not appreciate it and they will crash it. I crashed my first cherry red honda civic because I was looking for a decent radio station when I was 17, not badly just enough to ruin it for my perfectionistic self. And Suzanne you are a fine one to talk about other peoples beauty, you miserable ingrate. And I went to book passage to try and hear Carolyn Myss read when she was doing all that mind/body connection stuff. And guess what? She was out sick that day. HAH.

  163. Haven, that is a beautiful picture. You look so happy and at peace. As if you are reading something you love or looking at a picture of someone you have deep affection for. Your daughter? But that lipstick is a tad, how shall I put it, distracting. You could smudge the edges so it dosn’t look quite so perfect. Or put a frosted gloss over it and blot it a bit to soften it up just a tad and make it resemble something within the human lip palette. I am just saying. Because it is my job and I am compelled to. I mean just ignore my advice like people do all the time and wear what ever you want. Have you ever seen a kids lips turn blue when they eat one of those otter pops? Not that your lips look blue. I think I only have one more to go before I take over the comments completely. Let’s see who else I can insult.

  164. Sher, are you allowed to say smegma here? yuck. Jism. Originally posted by Tito
    It appears the words “smegma” and “jism” were removed from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

    On the positive side, however, I note that sloth is related to the armadillo.

  165. Amy, I love sarah lee’s frozen cherry cheescake. I wonder if you put it in a blender with vodka if it would make a good dessert drink. NOW, I give up. Sher can have the last word.

  166. EWWWW! Sher said smegma!

  167. ‘Tis the season for scary tales. My favorite collections are by Michael Cox & R.A. Gilbert: The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories (published 1986) and Victorian Ghost Stories: An Oxford Anthology (published 1991). Masters of the genre – J.S. LeFanu, M.R. James, Mrs. Oliphant, Mary E. Wilkins, to name a few – are represented. Best of all, these nineteenth-century authors evoke the atmosphere of their era. Victorian homes laden with heavy Gothic furniture and drawn curtains; candle-lit hallways and passageways; social mores and standards that kept the darkest secrets hidden; bed curtains, strange noises, creaking floorboards … all there, and more.

    The scholar Montague Summers pointed out that “there is nothing more difficult to achieve than a first-class ghost story.” In my opinion, nobody pulled this off more brilliantly than these Victorian writers.

    While we’re all immersed in reading Haven’s books, you can pick up one of these volumes of short ghost stories and savor a few at a time.

    Do you’all know these collections? Do you have favorite authors of ghost stories?

  168. Speaking of writing that is brilliant, brief, and first-class, Ms. Haven Kimmel contributed a chapter to Peter Manseau & Jeff Sharlet’s book, KILLING THE BUDDHA: A HERETIC’S BIBLE. While you’re at the library, pick up a copy and read Haven’s chapter that explodes the book of Revelation.

  169. Back to the poem: What’s the definition of insanity? repeating the same action over and over hoping for a different outcome.

    “Enough to gather motion in one’s
    tense thighs and step forward
    into the day, and the day, and the next.”

    and then:

    “A fly batters itself against the window
    in a drone, determined, unaware of hope,
    or hope’s charming, mercurial twin.”

    When presented with a porch swing, I hope that we always have the strength to put it in motion.

  170. Jim- I heard that in rehab, “What’s the definition of insanity? repeating the same action over and over hoping for a different outcome.” You would think it might have seeped into this thick head of mine, but no. Thanks for reminding me.

    Oh, and I just realized something about the porch swing, Haven. When I was at the in-patient rehab back in April I sat in a porch swing every morning before breakfast. It was like a dream. I wrote pages in my journal about how much I needed that soothing motion, and the cool morning air, and the new found clarity. I don’t have a porch so I have no porch swing at home. I love porches. That is one of my dreams. To have a porch. And to live near water.

  171. Oh Linda,

    I have the EXACT SAME DREAM!!!! A porch near water. My life’s goal.

  172. random: the ipod on shuffle this a.m. brought up this lyric from Wye Oak: “you’d rather be dead in your bed than cut back on the sugar and salt.” that is my dad exactly.

  173. Jodi- I LOVE reading ghost stories. I have probably ten books of ghost stories, this one being my favorite: http://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Nantucket-23-True-Accounts/dp/089272191X/ref=pd_sim_b_3

    The Ghosts of Nantucket. I see that she has a second book out of the same title with more stories. I need to pick that up.

    My ex-husband’s grandmother (his father’s mother) saw spirits. She grew up in the hills of Kentucky and was pretty much a fire and brimstone tough cookie. She had a spirit horn and a crystal ball. By the time I met her she was in her early 90s. Actually, I only met her one time. We were alone in the sunroom of my in-laws old house in Maine. She looked straight at me and said, “So you think I’m crazy?” To which I said, “NO Mame. I believe too.” Then she said, “well then one day you will see them. Just remember the Lord’s Prayer. There are good ones and bad ones and the bad ones don’t like the Lord’s Prayer.” We have a painting in my daughters’ room of great-grandmother as a young woman. Painted by her husband (I have mentioned him before, they lived in Columbus, OH and he was a stone mason by trade). The day she died I just looked at that painting all day and night waiting for a sign. But, alas, one never came. At least not to me.

  174. Linda, that definition of insanity might just leak into your brain after hearing it for a decade or so. heh. I am, however, a chronic forgetter, so I keep managing to repeat the same old same old when in comes to interests of the heart.

    I live near water, about a 1/2 mile from Lake Michigan, but I’m missing the dang porch.

  175. Linda, if you are truly ready to see them the signs are everywhere. They are around you even know, as we speak. There are just so many layers you need to use your third eye. Okay. I will stop annoying you all now. Love, d

  176. OOPs, I meant even now. And I guess we were not really speaking.

  177. Thanks, Haven…wasn’t sure the best way to give you the address, so I’ll put it here. I trust that no one on the comments here is gonna go psycho stalker on some random dude in Ohio. 🙂

    Brad Nicholas
    5341 Southgate Blvd Apt 8
    Fairfield, OH 45014

    I am from Mooreland, by the way. You and I have talked a couple times. At the fair after Zippy came out, and I attended one of your readings/signings you did in the Cincinnati area a few years ago. Proud to see that you just keep rolling along and kicking ass on the way. 🙂

  178. For a long, brutal winter in Northern Maine, I lived in a haunted farmhouse that overlooked the frozen St. John River. The odd thing is that when you are being haunted by spirits and ghosts and such, you aren’t really aware of it at the moment. Or, at least that was the way it was for my ex and I. It wasn’t until years later that we decided that we had moved in with several entities.

    It actually began the weekend before we moved in. I was going through the place — it was a big house — and I was by myself. The weather was freakishly warm, late October. As I went from room to room, I could hear a faint buzzing sound that became louder with each room, nook and cranny I was exploring. In the last bedroom, it was very loud…an electric-type of buzz. In that room, was the entry to the third floor attic. I opened the hatch, grabbed the rope, which had a noose-like tie in it and pulled.

    The attic was lit by a column of late afternoon light shooting through a window beneath a gable and the place was buzzing — like the sound that a short in a microphone cord makes. Odd. The window was the source of the buzz, so I walked over to it and it was covered with flies. I am talking thousands of them. They were on the inside and outside of the window, in the casements and on the sill. The flies covered the bottom of the casement, roiling and writhing. Beneath the window was a 1933 Farmer’s Almanac, yellowed, but intact. I picked it up and started swatting. It was like smacking smoke. I didn’t kill a one. Then I decided to open the window and let the bastards out. Incredibly, the window was easy to open. The second I cracked it open, the flies disappeared…they took off almost like a single body and they were gone! Not one fly lingered. It was like a vacuum cleaner had sucked them outside.

    Strange, maybe, but the year was 1976 and there was a lot of strangeness going on, so I didn’t think a whole lot about it.

    The next weekend as we were actually moving, I had been working inside. I had the usual moving tools scattered around the place — pliers, screwdrivers, tape measure, hammer.

    I had to leave and drive into Fort Kent to pick up my wife from work. When I returned, I found every single tool I had used that day in the bathroom sink with both faucets turned up and running on it.

    That, I thought was definitely strange. It was benign, however, and I just thought that maybe one of my friends had dropped by and was messing with me — although up there, people just didn’t pull pranks like that, and tools of all sorts were kinda sacrosanct.

    Water weirdness happened a lot there. Once, my wife was taking a bath. The water was running normally and then it stopped as if someone had turned the faucet. I thought it was a frozen line because every other faucet in the house worked. Then, she got out. As she was drying off, putting on her pjs, I turned the tub faucet on and it worked just fine. An hour later, I tried to fill up a kettle for some tea from the faucet in the kitchen and it didn’t work.

    During that winter, odd things would happen. This place was so big that my wife and I only lived in the downstairs area. One night my dog was poking around upstairs. I heard a yelp and could hear him running — terror-stricken above me. He skittered down the stairs and ran to me shaking. Again, I am thinking, “You crazy pup…scared yourself didn’t you?”

    Frequently….I am talking two or three times a week. We would be sitting in the living room and closet doors would suddenly pop open. Again…I am thinking an old house, drafty and we are in the dead of winter.

    At night, I would let the dog out for a quick pee — the dog not me. For about a week, each time I stepped out with him after he finished his business, I would open the door. And find it locked. I chalked it up again to my general pot-fuzziness and an old house with idiosyncracies.

    Eventually, the well ran complete dry. That was in February and by then we had decided it was too much of a hassle living there out in the sticks. So we moved a month later.

    Years later when we started talking about the places we lived, we started comparing all the crap that happened to us while at that farmhouse in Frenchville, Maine. It was then we decided the place must have been haunted.

    Thing was that I was never, ever scared. Just annoyed and puzzled.

  179. Brad, are that beautiful brunette whose parents ALSO came to one of my readings??

  180. I can’t respond to many of these because I meet with my editor today, in an HOUR, and I haven’t SHOWERED YET, but I want to say two things:

    1. Dorian, that’s actually my real lip color, with L’occitane raspberry lip balm over it. I’m not being defensive, but it’s actually . . . what’s that word, you can see through it, the lip balm? Very light.

    2. The new novel I have coming out from Algonquin is a horror novel — straight up, not psychological, not mystery, a HORROR novel — and it is scarier than billy-be-doggone-bangtree. If I do say so myself.

    3. Will be back shortly.

    4. No car for a sixteen-year-old unless she gets a job, earns the money, and buys it herself.

    xo

  181. OOOHHHH are we are edging toward a Halloween thread?…I was hoping one was coming…Haven and Y’ALL MUST have Halloween stories I am dying to hear them all…getting ready to watch our traditional ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’.

  182. George, I owned a 1915 bungalow south of Fountain Square here in Indy that came with it’s very own spirit. People would see a shadow over by the upright piano in the dining room that came with the house. I’d not mention it, but notice people turning their heads in that direction from time to time and ask them what they saw. The reply was invariably “what was that?” To which I’d say, “I think that’s the original owner of the piano and I don’t know why, but I think they want it fixed.”

    The other odd thing that kept happening was that things would disappear only to reappear moments later in a place you’d already looked. Car keys frequently that I would just chalk up to me being an airhead.

    The strangest though was when I was playing with a Westie puppy I had at the time and told him to go get his ball. Nine months old and as smart as a whip. We were the living room and he started looking all over the place and kept coming back to me like he was trying to say “help me, I can’t find it. So I started looking under all the furniture, and moved into the bedrooms thinking maybe he left it under a bed. Well, I nor Max could find it.

    Walked back into the living room and there was the ball right in the middle of the room. A bright yellow ball on brown carpeting would have been easy to spot if it had been there to begin with. That’s the only time I really felt uncomfortable living there.

  183. Socks:

    That’s weird…I think that is the correct word, too. You don’t think about it at the time as being a haunting. At least I didn’t. But I have no other explanation. Dogs do seem to sense stuff.

    By the way. I loved it around Fountain Square. Drive into the neighborhoods and you could see some real charming houses. When I lived in Indy, it was a really overlooked area of town.

  184. My ex in-laws lived in a beautiful old house on scenic Rt. 1 in Wiscasset, Maine for about 10 years. When we first moved to Nashville in 1986 I was between jobs and had the opportunity to go stay with my then mother-in-law for 2 weeks as she had broken her ankle and my father-in-law was going to be out of town. She has always been very hard of hearing and was back then. The only time I am convinced I encountered a spirit was in that old house. One night we were both sitting in the living room reading when I heard, clear as could be, water running in the sink in the bathroom up at the top of the stairs. There was no doubt in my mind that the water was running. But when I went up to check the sink was bone dry. I had the strangest sensation the rest of the visit. I knew we weren’t alone. I kept hoping something else would happen, while at the same time a bit scared at what that something might be. But, nothing did. I love New England. I love walking through the old cemeteries. Come to think of it I enjoy doing that down here in the South, too, especially the Civil War grave yards.

  185. I used to scare the crap outta my kids with stories about ghosts — runaway slaves — that I would make up on the spot and tell them as we walked up certain cobblestone streets here in Alexandria, Va., on nights when the fog hangs around, the halyards in the harbor clang, and gas lights flicker in front of houses that were built as America was being dreamed: the greatest hope for one man, a nightmare unto death for another man.

    Alexandria is a town made for spirits and entities…

  186. Whoa…Haven’s posted another one…

  187. This is the you I fell in love with in the 12th grade.

  188. I love this photo of you, Haven. It makes me smile to see you smile. I feel as though you are happy to be looking at your poetry on the screen. Your poetry is so good. I am so glad you are putting it out here for us to read. Did I mention I love this photo?

  189. Haven, I asked about the car thing because Friday a 16 yr boy from my daughter’s school crashed his new Jeep Grand Cherokee into Little Caesars. He had been bragging about his new Jeep the entire 12 days he had his DL.

    It baffles me that so many kids from her school get a new car the day they get their license. Whatever happened with starting out with a $500 beater car?

    I have a poll on my blog, but only have 2 voes so far. I need more votes, because I’m about to write another letter to the editor. 🙂

  190. Here’s my vote: NO CAR. Driving privileges, sure, if driving skills are displayed.

  191. I am just discussing the merits of philosophy and deism with my 16 year old son. He is frustrated that his very evangelical public school is so intolerant of his beliefs . . .

    I just gave him this thread . . . because, at least here, we can be ourselves with being denigrated.

    Haven – I LOVE your lips!!!! Their deepness is a beautiful compliment to your hair and skin tone . . . gorgeous!

    Dorian – I don’t even try to sleep with my husband, besides having different sleep rhythms/times, we sleep better apart. So we “visit” each other and I frequently tuck him into bed and leave when he goes to sleep . . . right now I have an air mattress in the rec room and I love it! Eventually one of the rooms will be finished in the studio so I can have a bedroom and rEAL bed – but for now I sleep so well.

    PORCH swing – people, why can’t you have a porch swing in your house??? I do. It is wicker and I love it and I am going to uphoster it with a cushion and fringe – make it a cozy nook . . . you can also get a wooden bench, chop/saw off the legs and hang it (molly bolts or with eyehooks screwed into ceiling beams.

    Ok – why would you wait for your dream to come to you? There are also murals with water scenes . . . .

    SMEGMA – this word is up there with DINGLEBERRIES – I wasn’t supposed to say them, but they were such great words . . . I was 20 something before I found out their real meanings.

    my friend and i (when we lived with a house full of musicians) once made pretzels and spelled out smegma. ha!

  192. 16 year olds driving –

    no sane adult should buy their teenager a jeep to drive. you can look up every suggestion from car insurance and drivers ed people and that is the first rule they say. they roll over. Even our jeep felt tippy and we were in a our 30’s.

    why would you insure a brand new car for a new driver – so YOU can have bragging rights! Hello dead kid, all they needed was some airbags and seatbelts. Plus they might not cruise so much if they are driving a 1994 Chevy Caprice!

  193. at 16 and 1/2 with major help from my parents I bought a 1969 Firebird 400 CI 4 sp. I was really into cars and speed ect…

    I less than a year it was smashed in a pretty exciting crash when I let a friend drive it. I would have wreaked it eventually. We did not speak for a while then realized our friendship was more important that that car even though it was a beautiful Detroit power machine. We are close friends to this day and that happened in 1978.

    No car unless they can pay for it and are pulling good grades. I also think they should be limited on the amount of time they can work at that age. It gets in the way of school if its too much. Like I did.

  194. Well, you sure got a purty mouth, Haven. LOL My husband always comments on mine. His line is from The Godfather, his favorite movie of all time(something in Italian that he thinks is endearing.) AND today I found out my endometrial biopsy came out NEGATORY! I think I may have to watch Xanadu to celebrate. Gracious Dios. Not that I was worried, but now I can get something to help me sleep (maybe a bit of estrogen…) I am sure you are all riveted but I can’t help it after a month of testing and 6 vials of blood and all the ickyness. Okay, off to Chealsea Lately. I want to laugh until I pee.

  195. I got a car very soon after turning 16, perhaps within the month. It was $500, and I had hoist rights in my auto shop class and a job. My mom was sick of chauffeuring me and fronted the $500, so I paid her off, $1.25/hour at a time, from my floor mopping wages at the local sundae palace. I ate ice cream by the bucket that year and was never more buff.

    Less than a year later, two drunks in an El Camino broadsided me (they had the blinking red, I the blinking yellow, “they aren’t gonna stop/they have to stop/no they’re not stopping/but they have the red!”) as my boyfriend and I were heading to a local restaurant to break a 5-day fast. No injuries, but. The hungry night sounds so lyrical until you are living it.

    Particles, I voted on your site. I thought about this story before voting for 17 — hard enough juggling parental duties without help from kids. We have graduated privileges here, that is, no friends in the new driver’s car for so long (family only), then it ramps up to full privileges from there. I’d NEVER give a kid a brand new car, though I’d definitely consider a beater with air bags.

  196. Dorian, I’m so glad for your negatory! Celebrate big, I know I will!

  197. Though the way this poem affects me has to do with a journalistic approach to the iceberg of those last two lines, the line in your intro, “…the slow economy of her gestures” was every bit as evocative as, and added so much to my experience of, the poem itself. This is the beauty part (as they say in Jersey, right, Linda?) of being able to discuss a writer’s work with her. We are so, so fortunate.

    If not for Haven, and Suzanne, and George, and all the rest of you gifted poetry readers, I’d be so lost throughout these last few posts. Thank you for your insightful, passionate comments — without them, I would not have the least understanding of any of the poems on the poetry thread, or any of these last beautiful poems Haven has been posting. Thanks also to Suzanne for her wonderful poems on Finnablog. It is this lack of confidence, rather than lack of thorough enjoyment, that keeps me from commenting.

  198. Dorian, CONGRATULATIONS on your negatory. That’s wonderful.

    My father used to snore like a damn chainsaw. On my 16th birthday he took me to Disney World, so I had to sleep in the same room with him. He’d be snoring so hard the walls were shaking and I’d say, “DAD. TURN OVER.” And across the room he’d go right on sleeping. So finally I got up and took my pillow and blanket to sleep in the bathtub, and the MINUTE I lay down he walked in and said, “What are you doing?” I said, “It appears I am vacationing with HITLER.” Also on that trip? I got such a severe sunburn I had to be hospitalized, and while I was in the ER a nurse came in with one of those machines that makes you throw up, those what are they called, you know, for people who overdose? I said, “What is that?” She told me and I said, “WHY ARE YOU GOING TO DO THAT TO ME?” She said, “Aren’t you Shelly Robinson?” Then I got out of the hospital and for two days I couldn’t eat because I couldn’t move my face. Finally Dad went out and brought me back a turkey manhattan, and I was starved and loved it, and it turned out it gave me food poisoning, so I had to go back to the ER and throw up. The sunburn was so severe I swelled up like an Ooompa Loompa, but by the time we got to Disney World the swelling had gone down and I was starting to look brown. Jim Shue will recall that when I got home everyone was jealous of my ‘tan,’ which was actually just a precursor to a future tragic death and the reminder of unremitting misery.

    OH. And we drove a van to Florida — Dad had customized the inside with two beds so I and his wife’s daughter could just lie around on the trip. I was listening to a Steve Winwood song on headphones and suddenly sat up and said, “PeeDink is dead.” PeeDink, as you Zippy readers may recall, was my brain-damaged and cross-eyed cat. I’d had him since I was three. He traumatized me by trying to give me dead mice I really really didn’t want. He also slept with his head pressed up against hard objects, pressed with such force sometimes his ears would still be flattened out when he got up. Also he never landed on his feet, and on at least five occasions he fell down the chimney of the evil old woman across the street. And I was RIGHT. We stopped at a payphone and I called home and Mom told me PeeDink had been acting lethargic and she took him to the vet and his kidneys were failing, and she had him put down. I never liked Steve Winwood after that.

    On that trip Dad and I were watching the news when John Hinckley, Jr. tried to assassinate Reagan. We stopped what we were doing for a few minutes, said nothing, then my dad put his cards on the table and said, “Gin.” He’d beaten me like twelve times in a row.

  199. I will go vote on your blog, but first this story…almost 5 years ago, we surprised our then almost-16 year old daughter by buying a used car for her–her grandma’s old car (a 1991 Taurus…in excellent shape, all in all) for about $800. We told her we would buy her one car, and one only and that was the one. She did well in school, had a job, was to pay her own insurance, gas, etc. BUT about 6 weeks after getting her license, she rear-ended a utility trailer…it was the “perfect” accident…nobody hurt, little damage to the trailer (about $200, which she paid herself, no insurance involved) and her car was…TOTALLED. So much for the one car we would buy her…case closed, lesson learned. It took months for her to find another one, she had to drain her savings (we made her pay cash), get rides from friends (I did take her to work and pick her up as she had a really good job and I wanted her to keep it). She still has that car, by the way…a little fender bender (crumpled door, replaced and repainted) totaled it last summer, but we salvaged it and she still drives it.

  200. That was the ONLY time I’ve ever seen Haven with anything but alabaster skin. Frightful.

  201. Okay, just so you all know…I did NOT know my silly post would show up after Haven’s! I feel so…random! Sorry!

  202. Speaking of frightful, and we have been telling spooky tales all afternoon, do you remember the “Time Echo” that would occur in that house I lived in on Washington?

    Haven came in the front door into the foyer, saw me walk from my bedroom at the top of the stairs into the bathroom next to my room. She then walked through the living and dining rooms into the kitchen and turned even more pale (kind of like skim vs. whole milk) and asked how did I do that? I’d been sitting at the kitchen table eating the whole time. There was only the one staircase and I’m not the kind to risk limb or life by jumping out of a second story window just for a joke.

  203. I knew I hated Steve Winwood. Now I know why.

    My grandma snores like a freaking lumberjack. I cannot share a room with her.

    The only reason to get a sunburn that horrible is to be able to talk about it later. Or better, write about it.

  204. RE snoring. I have never pictured murdering the hubby, he is so cute, but with the constant snoring I was just pissed all the time . . . one must get some sleep. When thoughts of smothering him came to mind nightly I knew it was time to find a new cooker for my rotisserrie oven self . . . I’m not grumpy now and I remember so many more dreams! It think it is the perfect solution to a common marital problem.

    And, the mp3/ipods do work well for this situation . . . if you must sleep in the same room.

  205. Sleep apnea = the worst snoring on the planet.

    My husband has it. Thankfully he finally admitted to snoring after a visit to my sister’s house where my nephew had to get up in the middle of the night and move to another part of the house. It was that loud. So, my sister, Jane, said, “PHIL – OH MY GOD.” and he finally believed me. Geez. So he went to the sleep clinic at St. Thomas hospital in Nashville and got a c-pap (or whatever it is called) machine and it is like a miracle. Of course he looks like the creature from the black lagoon with that thing strapped to his head but the air motion sound is kind of soothing and it sure beats the hell out of the alternative. So, get thou selves and spouses who snore to a sleep clinic at your nearest hospital. He actually said he did not realize why he was always so tired and why he never dreamed. It was because his breathing stopped about 270 times a minute waking him up and he never knew it.

  206. Oh, Linda – with whom I am lunching on Monday next???

    My sister got a c-pap, too and she is feeling so much better and we actually slept in the same room on the same bed recently. M.I.R.A.C.L.E. – my Donny isn’t that bad, I am just PTS noise/light/movement sensitive and anything – even a spider crawling silently on the ceiling, will WAKE me up . . .

  207. Sher, I sleep so lightly I generally just stay up. But if I do hear a noise in the house? Knife out, blue brindle mastiff on one side, black mastiff on the other, and a small mutant dog running around joyously. She thinks I can’t read her mind but I can, and this is what she thinks: SQUIRREL! Later: SQUIRREL! Repeat.

  208. Haven – that is great – I have been known to approach my door with a french rolling pin in hand, only to find out is hubby returning early from a business trip – if that piece of wood had been a gun, I would be a widow. As he was turning the doorknob so slowly as not to wake me, I was trying to hold the knob from the other side, prepare the rolling pin for striking AND lock the door . . . I think I did pee my pants!

  209. You are all hilarious. Thanks Carrie, Sher and Heaven. You make me feel a little less crazy. Linda, I guess I should have the darling checked for sleep apnea.He’d be snoring so hard the walls were shaking and I’d say, “DAD. TURN OVER.” And across the room he’d go right on sleeping. So finally I got up and took my pillow and blanket to sleep in the bathtub, and the MINUTE I lay down he walked in and said, “What are you doing?” I said, “It appears I am vacationing with HITLER.” Also on that trip? I got such a severe sunburn I had to be hospitalized, and while I was in the ER a nurse came in with one of those machines that makes you throw up, those what are they called, you know, for people who overdose? I said, “What is that?” She told me and I said, “WHY ARE YOU GOING TO DO THAT TO ME?” She said, “Aren’t you Shelly Robinson?” ROTFL. I love you HEAVEN. Apparently the estrogen is not working yet, but at least the acupuncturist and the weekend are. Love, d

  210. Haven,

    I am doing a second review of your book, Zippy, for a second book group. While delivering the first review the question came up, “Where did Haven get that name”? I said I had no idea but would research the subject. I hope you can throw some light on your name and how it came to belong to you.

    Out of total curiosity, I drove to Mooreland, IN after visiting family in Bloomington, IN this past June. I was on my way back to MI and took the “road less traveled.” I found your house (now abandoned) and located the Friends Meeting Hall. What I couldn’t figure out was how you were able to obtain enough information from that tiny, tiny burg to write not one but two books about growing up there? I took pictures: the best were of the interior of the general store, which I hoped would have a selection of your books. They were well-stocked with pop, candy and batteries, but not a book in sight! Have you been back to Mooreland recently? I would like to know how you would compare it today to how it was while growing up there.

    Your writing is so amazing. Thank you for sharing your personal stories with us, your devoted readers. My 92 year old father is a huge fan, just wanted you to know that!

    Nancie Loppnow, Ypsilanti, MI

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  212. […] The Wife Who Stays « Haven Kimmel’s Blog […]


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