Running. Out of hibernation.

SONY DSC

Monday AM: It’s Zeke’s annual check-up. He remembers the six-inch needle from his last appointment. He’s not welcoming John, the GVW (“the Greatest Vet in the World”).  Zeke weighs in.  He’s up another 5 pounds, peaking at his all-time high. GVW’s scorecard on Zeke sets off vicious attacks: Family v. Dad. It’s you! He only sits next to you at Dinner! You are feeding him table scraps! Do you realize you are shortening his life!”  Dad Growls in response.

Wednesday AM: GVW sends an email. He’s never sent an email to me before, but he needs to send this one. Zeke’s stool sample shows no evidence of worms. Vet Code Translation: He’s fat, but at least he’s clean. All is not lost.

Thursday PM:  It’s bedtime. Zeke’s laying next to me. He looks up and stares.  What’s up Zeke?  He tells me he’s depressed. GVWs lack of bedside manner cut deep. GVW and the Family fail to grasp nature’s natural cycle like Mary Oliver and I do: summer falling to fall, to be following by what will follow: winter again: count on it. Same with weight. Down in summer. Up in the Winter. Down in summer. Count on it. It’s a bloody cycle. No need to overreact.

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The second half of my life will be ice breaking up on the river, rain soaking the fields

middle age,

The second half of my life will be black
to the white rind of the old and fading moon.
The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.
I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are. I will dress for the
occasion, and my hair shall be
whatever color I please.
Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.

The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road.
The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.
There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.

The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river,
rain soaking the fields,
a hand held out,
a fire,
and smoke going upward,
always up.

Joyce Sutphen, “Crossroads” from Straight Out of View


Notes: a) Poem Source: Poem Hunter. b) Image Source: Audrey Nizen. c) Inspired by: Your Eyes Blaze Out

 

For years we grasp and grasp

fist-bump-baby-father

In the baby’s fist is the first thing he owns, a little ball of air, but soon he tires of this and grabs another, then another after that. So early in life we learn about more, and having more. In more it seems we have eternity, and for years we grasp and grasp, until one day we find that we have less. And then life goes and goes, it floats away, and at the end we find our hand is empty, but for one small ball of air.

~ Ted Kooser, The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book


Photograph: John Mueller

SMWI*: About Right

sumo-sports-gif-funny

The gray in your hair doesn’t make you old,
Nor the crow’s feet under your eyes, I’m told.
But when your mind makes a contract your body can’t fill,
You’re over the hill, brother, over the hill.

-Mary E. Mitchell, 32 Easy Lessons in Metaphysics and the Science of our Mind


Notes: SMWI* = Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration. Image: Gifak. Quote – Thank you Steve @ Anderson Layman’s Blog

Saturday Morning: I don’t believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun.

sunrise, morning, sunset

Odder still how possessed I am with the feeling that now, aged 50, I’m just poised to shoot forth quite free straight and undeflected my bolts whatever they are. Therefore all this flitter flutter of weekly newspapers interests me not at all. These are the soul’s changes. I don’t believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism. And to alter now, cleanly and sanely, I want to shuffle off this loose living randomness: people; reviews; fame; all the glittering scales; and be withdrawn, and concentrated.

~ Virginia Woolf, A Writer’s Diary


Credits: Quote – Brainpickings: Virginia Woolf on the Paradox of the Soul and the Consolatios of Aging. Photograph: j’aime juste la photo

The Humbling

al-pacino-barry-levinson

Al Pacino and Barry Levinson on Age, Accomplishments and ‘The Humbling’:

Mr. Pacino, 74, is playing Simon Axler in The Humbling. Axler is an aging actor whose memory and stamina are failing him. He fears his opportunities are drying up and audiences no longer recognize him.

Q: “The Humbling” deals with a character who is despairing because he’s growing older and believes he’s no longer proficient at the things that defined him. Are these feelings you’ve experienced yourselves?

Al Pacino: Oh, yeah. What film is this again? [Laughter] There are professions where there are certain tools you depend on. With the actor it’s the memory, and also it’s the stamina. You can’t coast in some of these Shakespearean roles. They’re uncoastable. You can imagine the kind of panic that sets in when you realize you can’t get through this.

Q: Is a crisis of confidence like the one your character experiences unimaginable to you?

Al Pacino It’s got to be really confounding when you no longer have that appetite, I would imagine. I know about Philip Roth saying that he doesn’t write anymore and he feels good about it. There’s a kind of relief in that. But to be an actor that doesn’t want to do it anymore?


Driving I-95 S & N. Kooser. In the Head.

moon-iphone
It’s 5:45 am.
It started tracking me yesterday morning.
I’m driving to work. Dark is lifting to dusk.
I’m returning to the office after an extended vacation.
My head is tumbling with To-Do’s.
I round the corner for the last 1/2 mile stretch and there it was.
Full. Bright. Beaming. Silent.
I stare, and enter a few second refuge before pulling into the garage.

It’s 6:40 pm.
I’m done with my first day back, of meetings back to back.
I’m in my re-entry. Decompression? Gone.
I accelerate down the exit ramp and there it is.
Full. Bright. Beaming. Silent.
It’s tracking me the entire ride home up I-95 N.
And gracefully nudging me from exhaustion, to fatigue and softly settling me into calm.

Yes, Mr. Kooser.
I have missed so many. The count is well into the thousands.
But, no Sir. No Sir.
I didn’t miss this one.

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A Small Golden Light

small-light

I hope that in the future they invent a small golden light that follows you everywhere and when something is about to end, it shines brightly so you know it’s about to end.

And if you’re never going to see someone again, it’ll shine brightly and both of you can be polite and say, “It was nice to have you in my life while I did, good luck with everything that happens after now.”

And maybe if you’re never going to eat at the same restaurant again, it’ll shine and you can order everything off the menu you’ve never tried. Maybe, if someone’s about to buy your car, the light will shine and you can take it for one last spin. Maybe, if you’re with a group of friends who’ll never be together again, all your lights will shine at the same time and you’ll know, and then you can hold each other and whisper, “This was so good. Oh my God, this was so good.”

~ Iain Thomas, I Wrote This For You

Notes: Image: icanpaintarainbow. Quote: Your Eyes Blaze Out

 

Cold Rain

rain-gif

After fifty years of tracking clouds
I’ve become cold rain upon my life.
How odd to see the mist so clearly.

~ Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry


Image: zero-void

 

I find them evenly lit

mark-strand12

NY Times: Mark Strand, 80, Dies; Pulitzer-Winning Poet Laureate:

Mark Strand, whose spare, deceptively simple investigations of rootlessness, alienation and the ineffable strangeness of life made him one of America’s most hauntingly meditative poets, died on Saturday at his daughter’s home in Brooklyn. He was 80. Mr. Strand, who was named poet laureate of the United States in 1990 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1999 for his collection “Blizzard of One,” made an early impression with short, often surreal lyric poems that imparted an unsettling sense of personal dislocation — what the poet and critic Richard Howard called “the working of the divided self.”…“He is not a religious poet on the face of it, but he fits into a long tradition of meditation and contemplation,” said David Kirby…He makes you see how trivial the things of this world are, and how expansive the self is, once you unhook it from flat-screen TVs and iPhones.” Reading Mr. Strand, he said, “We learn what a big party solitude is.”…To critics who complained that his poems, with their emphasis on death, despair and dissolution, were too dark, he replied, “I find them evenly lit.”

He has too many favorite poems to share…so I have shared links to short excerpts, morsels, to enable you to feel the genius of this man.

  • Luminism: “And though it was brief, and slight, and nothing / To have been held onto so long, I remember it…”
  • Black Maps: “…A scar remembers the wound.” 
  • The Guardian: Why do I love what fades?”
  • The Triumph of the Infinite“All I could hear was my heart pumping and pumping.”
  • The Coming of Light: “..Even this late it happens: the coming of love, the coming of light.”
  • Dark Harbor: “…Sending up stars of salt, loud clouds of spume.”
  • The Continuous Life: “…You are slipping away with nothing completed, nothing / To prove you existed.”
  • Not Dying: “…On windless summer nights I feel those kisses…”
  • Sleeping With One Eye Open: “…We all have reasons for moving. I move to keep things whole.”
  • Lines for Winter: “…Tell yourself in that final flowing of cold through your limbs that you love what you are.” 
  • The Remains: “…The hours have done their job. I say my own name. I say goodbye.”

Credits: Photo – jrbenjamin.com