Monthly Archives: April 2010

He’d say, THAT, pointing to the sun.

You asked, who was he?

I mean, I used to work in the stalls. And I liked it. I liked the smell of sawdust.
Some say it burns the nose so bad, you know, the urine. The piss.

When I was a girl, I thought it smelled like apple juice gone bad. Didn’t mind it.

Just shovel. Concentrate on the ground. He’d say.

And yeah, it would stir up dust. Coughing and sneezing, listening to the breath of the horses.

Someone said, once, I think it was in a dream, that we should go down to the dust.
Or we will.

Move your arms, back, he’d say, sweating,
in a good way.

No one could find us here.

You can talk to horses. He’d say

I mean, they don’t talk back, but sometimes they do. Not in words, not really.

He said, More like a feeling.

And if anything can teach you how to think, it’s horses.

So I’d work, cleaning stalls.
Stir up dust. Sneeze.

I’d say the same thing, I’d say: “Seven times a day do I praise thee.
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night.

Seven times a day. That’s a lot.
And I’d be in there all evening. Till the sun went down.

Light has a way through sawdust.
I miss that light, he said
In the city there isn’t that kind of light. Not orange.

Then the movement of him.
I used to work in the stalls until the movement came. I mean, I can’t explain it.

“before the watches of the night.” That’s what I’d say.
And he came.
Do I praise thee. I’d say.

My eyes are awake.
That’s ok.

Barn owls. Barn owls eyes are awake. Watching the night.

He’d come. Sawdust everywhere.
In our hair, jeans, boots.

Just a kid.

I’d be moving my hands.

Concentrate on the ground. He said.

Burn in the nose, yeah the smell burned.
But I liked it. Liked telling myself he’d come.

First I was afraid. Light bends that way, in the evening.

Stirring up dust so you can’t see edges.

Stalls have bars. I’d look through. Pretend, keep me safe.

Stand still, I’d say
so still.

Couldn’t make out if that was hooves moving or him.

Seven times a day, I’d say. Seven times a day I praise thee.

He’d give me some money. He’d say, come back tomorrow.

Run home. Into the orange light.

All things can turn into that, he’d say. Into that.

And I’d say what?
And he’d say, THAT, pointing to the sun, setting.

See this dust? He’d say. You gotta get through the dust to that.

Then he’d move his hands over the horses’ back, and I mean, I was a kid but,
I don’t know.
Something about it.
Something about wanting to be that, and feel that.

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He said, Catfish can’t hurt you ’cause you can cook ’em after

You know how sometimes you think you’re goin’ crazy?
OK, OK, but I don’t mean, Oh I’m goin’ crazy ‘cause I can’t find my car keys and the kids are yellin’ so loud you can’t think.
I mean, really crazy.
Like someone came along and took that brain right out of your head, crazy.
Like nothing seems to be in the right place anymore.
Not the streets, not the little lines on the road, not even your toes. That kind.

I was at the grocery store the other day. Had to buy somethin’ I don’t remember. I don’t remember what I was gonna buy, probably for one of the kids.
That’s the point.

‘Cause I was standin’ there in the meat section, lookin’ down at the words pork and poultry. Pork and poultry.
And in my head I knew one of ‘em was pig and one of ‘em was bird, but which ones?

And the harder I thought about it, the more I thought about fish. I mean, big fish, like catfish, oversized heads and whiskers and wanderin’ eyes in a lake when I was a kid.

And I thought, pork and poultry, pork and poultry.
Just couldn’t seem to wrap my head around it.

People kept pushin’ by and someone said somethin’ on the loudspeaker about milk and I got all hot and cold at once like I was swimmin’ in a lake with a bunch of catfish.
Cat.
Fish.
Weird, don’t you think?
Whiskers and all.

And it shouldn’t be scary, but it is.

Somehow someone kept sayin’ something about milk right over my head and I didn’t know where I was, ‘cept my feet were getting cold. Toes didn’t look like my toes. Started to turn blue at the tips.

I was wearin’ sandals ‘cause I ran outta the house to get to the store before pickin’ up the kids from school.
And I looked at my toes and I thought about those catfish.
And swimmin’ in the lake when I was a kid, terrified they’d bite my toes.
And feelin’ that tightness in the chest, like you can’t breathe. Can’t swim.
Like all the water starts pushin’ against you in a way like a ton of weight.

Pork and poultry.
Pork.
Poultry.

One was a pig and one was a bird. Or was it a fish?

Someone kept sayin’ something about milk and I tried to check my head.
Milk was from a cow.

People kept pushin’ by.
Someone said, Ma’am, could you move so I can get some chicken breasts?

I was lookin’ at my toes, thinkin about the catfish. Someone just stepped on my toe, tryin’ to get by. Tryin’ to get a chicken breast.

Since I was wearin’ sandals, it hurt like hell. Snapped me out of the lake.

I thought, Oh shit, I gotta pick up the kids. Then it was like,
do I really have kids?
Where’d my brain go?

And I didn’t want to buy pork or poultry, didn’t want to buy milk. I mean, hell, I’d trade all of it for that heavy feelin’ in the lake.

I mean, catfish. I was so scared of catfish when I was a kid.

And dad’d make me go in there, laughing at the edge. Said,
Get in the water! Get in!

And I didn’t want to. I mean., I thought I was gonna get eaten. And he’d just stand there on the edge and laugh.
Ten more minutes! He’d yell. Then you can get out!

And I’d just hold my breath. I mean,
I’d just wish they’d go ahead and eat me. But then he’d say
alright, alright.

And I’d be breathin’ so hard.
So hard.
Said we sounded the same when we breathed.
Said I should just keep the swimsuit on.
Said the catfish can’t hurt you, ‘cause you can cook ‘em.

I mean, I haven’t felt that weight in a while. And here I am, late pickin’ up kids I never wanted, not yet. Just to get the weight off my chest.

But I’d go back.
I mean to the lake.
Instead of this grocery store.
Instead of buyin’ chicken.

I’d go back to swimmin’ until he’s finished all his beer.

Catfish aren’t so scary ‘cause you can eat ’em after.
He was right.

I mean, sometimes you just feel crazy.
Like you’re somewhere else.
The real you is.

And somehow you got mixed up and are standing in the meat section with someone else’s brain.

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Brooklyn Shoot

Yesterday, I walked around Brooklyn with my friend, Deborah. We had so much fun and I tried to get some good shots. A nice break from writing, since my manuscript is almost complete. I’ve missed taking out my camera. Here’s a select few of the ones I’m happiest with.

This was taken at the East River State Park. These men were a hoot!

I turned around when I heard the dogs barking at each other. I’m happy with the shot, with the yellow dog leaping toward the lab.

I love this shot. Outside Juliette’s Cafe.

On the rooftop of Juliette’s Cafe. This was a group of French friends. They were fun to photograph, and thank goodness they didn’t mind me and my camera!

Rooftop of Juliette’s Cafe. So many gorgeous people! This woman was stunning. She saw me taking shots of her and her friends were laughing, but I think she enjoyed it a bit.

Stunning woman, again.

Walking back towards the park. I think these were some Polish houses. They did not speak English that well, but didn’t mind my camera.

Love this shot. Back at the park later that afternoon. Mother playing with her kid. Adorable.

This little girl wanted to test the borders. She ended up actually going in and I was watching, snapping some shots, wondering when her parents would run over to her. They finally did, but I was getting a bit nervous.

Two Hasidic boys walking around the park.

Snapped some soccer!

Apparently, the Hasidic boys wanted to watch some soccer, too. I love this shot. They look very guarded yet curious. What is this blond shiksa doing taking our photo? Nice….

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Escape-like Quiet

Whenever I was feelin’ lonely, I’d go out and sit by the herd.

Something about their breath. You know, the whole world could feel like burstin’ out of your chest, but if you listened to them breathe…well, it was like God was speakin’ right to you.

And my otherself would meet me, and we’d sit, pullin’ at the grass. Cows move one foot to the other, but not goin’ anywhere.

Some nights we’d sit forever. Never wanted to leave.
But it’d get cold and the bugs, angry.

My otherself was there, in the good way.
Like we were the same, for real, come together.

After mom and I left Stanton, I couldn’t go see the herd anymore. I was glad, too, kinda. Because I can sleep here. Nothin’ to wake me up.
But I miss goin’ over to the filed to watch the cows.
Escape kept me goin’.

What’s worse is the pain, but now it’s just quiet.
Not like the escape-quiet.

That’s more a hush, or a soft hand on a bruise.
You push on it just to make sure you didn’t imagine.

Used to wake up to weight. Shadow-man I called him. Never knew which ones or what their real names were.

Is it funny to say that, after we left Stanton the shadow-men still followed me.
Difference is, now I can tell ‘em what to do.

Yesterday, walkin’ home from school, Matt threw my lunchbox in the ditch.

I said, Shadow-man, do somthin’

Next thing I knew I was runnin so fast, trying to catch the escape feelin.’

Just get me to a field somewhere, I said.

Cows know what you’re thinkin.’
Have a way of liftin’ the weight off your chest,
when the world swells up in there, big as a peach-bruise on the shin.

I told ‘em I’d stay real quiet. Just breathe.
They said, You’re insides are out. You’re hands are shakin.’

When someone finally found me, said I was messin’ up the waterline.
Sprinklers like giant spiders, runnin’ across the field.

Irrigation, he said. Messin’ up my irregation. What you doin’ out here, little lady?

I said, Talkin’ to the cows.

Where’s your mama?

Home.

I figured he was one of the shadow-men, but real.

Standin’ there not in a haze but could actually see him.

Pressed my knuckles into dirt. Cover me.

What you got on your hands, little lady?

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Holy, Leaves

Holy-leaf, spent, spread

Itself to wander your wrist

I know. I wrote this

into being, spoke,

first your name, then body

to the moon.             Saint saved heart-

break and broke the spine

of the pine inside our rib

cage. blind, bound by

your hips, helpless—holy-

leaf, lift. Leave it. Forget.

I know. I wrote this

Into being.             Fear-faced,

the moon told me—

You broke everything

in site, in spite

of not yet being born.

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There was this dog, just sitting in the middle of the road

My mother told me a story today on the phone.

“There was this dog just sitting in the middle of the road. The busiest road in Midland. And all the cars just stopped. I mean, everyone just stopped. I thought, dang, well I’m gonna have to get out and get it, you know? I didn’t want it to get run over. And just as I was opening my car door, a woman pulled up and called the dog over. It ran and jumped in her car. It was her dog. And she looked over at me and I looked over at her and we just smiled. I just about cried. I did cry. I said, Thank you God! Thank you. I really needed that today.

Because earlier I was sitting there, listening to the news on the radio and thinking, what’s happening out there, you know? I said, God, just show me a sign. Something. I’m going to go crazy.

And then that thing with the dog happened. And I said, Thank you God. There are kind people out there. I mean, all those other cars? They could have just kept going. But they didn’t.

And what I’m trying to say is, sometimes you feel like that dog. And you do feel like that dog right now, don’t you? I mean, you’re sitting there, lost, don’t know which way to go. And while some people aren’t helping you outright, like those other cars, they aren’t trying to hurt you either. And just when you need it, just when you really, really need it, someone comes along and saves you. The Universe comes along and picks you up and takes you to where you need to go. Right when you least expect it, too.

But the dog? He just sat there very calm. He was lost and in the middle of nowhere, couldn’t find his way around or home, but he still just sat there, calm. If you want to look at it this way, he had faith. He didn’t run.

And anyway, I was just thinking about that. Because I was so upset hearing the news in my car and feeling like I had no control, because I don’t have any control. But I asked God, I said, give me a sign, show me some hope. And I don’t know…It was just so nice to see that whole thing play out. And that happened right after I was thinking all those thoughts. And seeing that lady and all the people willing to stop their cars…”

***

As I listened to my mom tell me what had happened to her earlier in the day, I also started crying. When she described the woman pulling up just as my mom was going to get out of her car, and how that woman smiled at my mom and my mom smiled back, I was crying, too. I didn’t exactly know why until my mom kept telling the story. About how, just when you least expect it, and when you most need it, something comes along.

There’s a lot of transition going on. Sometimes I don’t notice, and other times I’m so still and frozen with worry that all I see is a turmoil of change. But it’s always happening. Transitions, movements. It’s hard to keep still. Hard to have faith that things work out just how they are supposed to.

“You just have to tell yourself, every day, every hour, that this is where I’m supposed to be. This is exactly where the Universe wants me to be.” my mom said.

Earlier today, I happened across a random Youtube video at work. Someone was giving a talk. I think it was Wayne Dyer, because I tend to listen to inspirational speakers at work while doing mundane office tasks. And he said something that I had to write down. “Infinite patience produces immediate result. You retreat in peace and let the Universe handle the details.”

Seems this message is coming across a lot to me lately. Universe whispering things I need to hear.

Of course I know these lessons. Often times I will even spat off all this to friends when they come to me with anxiety or trouble. And I’m usually the one writing the essays on faith and trust. But then I go through my own phases of needing to hear them again and again. I forget.

I read over my old diaries and find myself worrying about things that I worry about in the present. And even in those diaries I’ll reference earlier times I’d worried about similar things even earlier in time and I’ll write, “Shannon, why can’t you just see, as it has shown in the past and in these earlier entries, that everything works out for your good?” But, I forget. A lot.

My mom also said, “Remember back to a time you were a fighter. Know that you’re still a fighter, and that no matter what happens, you’ll be fine. You’ll fight through and be strong.”

I told her I do remember that fighter in me. The one who could survive in the wilderness, alone. Climb a mountain, dying of thirst and exhaughstion and make it to the top, glowing.

There’s something infinite in all of us. And I keep reading about this infinite power. A kind of beam to the sky, is how I see it, connecting me to someone who isn’t me, but is more the force in everything. The energy expanding towards and inward and outward.

A while ago, I had a dream that I was floating in outer space. It wasn’t me, per se, but I was expansive. In fact, the stars were little pin pricks that tickled my “body” (not a body, a space) and I looked at earth, very fragile and glowing. And I felt whatever expanding energy and beam of light I sometimes, only slightly, feel now.

Cup your hands, he said, and say “ready to receive”

Ready to receive.

Don’t you feel it, he said.

What?

Your spirit.

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Poetry Workshop: in Spring: like that

Felt a wall coming, inspiration’s body.

Like woman ready, but shaking.

Last time your hand was.

Willing to touch if I asked–heavy, wanting like that.

Victoria’s flowers on the table, I could eat them.

And I would. Would have eaten you, too, but kindly.

Victoria’s yellow laughter. Sunshine outside.

My thighs want it. Wanting like that,

to be hands on them. Yours.

Peeked lace under my own shirt. Someone should, yes.

Cathy waves her hands over poems. Speak of conversation. Christ.

I thought about saying, where. We should go

out the window. Sunshine. Let our thighs-it.

Wall came.

Now, speaking of the poem. The mother–

Cathy asks, About the mother. Shadowy Figure–

My identity is the field today. Body calls to grass.

Earlier, feet kissed chlorophyl. Insides toward this.

Tickle tulips–laugh until walls come

down. Mother. Body ground. Birth sunshine.

I thought  go out the window. Spring skin like that.

Victoria’s flowers are staring. Breast to breast. Catch lace, swim.

4:44 pm. Wish. Made it. Same again.

My body–mother of heat.

Excitement. A Door. Smell it,

Can you. When I walk by. Spring like that.

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