Sunday, December 3, 2006

Haiku This!

So, among the many calls for submissions I receive, there was a recent one for haikus. Specifically, there should be haiku about wine (red and white).

The last haiku I wrote was in 4th grade:

Lonely boy and girl
on a rainy Saturday
Soon the sun comes out.

It was published in our 4th grade class magazine and I also provided illustration (a dismal looking boy and girl, peering through a window with their tears mixing with the raindrops).

Since then, I haven't written haiku, so I took some time to browse haiku books at Barnes & Noble. I remember haikus being about nature, trees, cherry blossoms and such. Those topics don't interest me, so I stayed away from the haiku. I was pleasantly surprised to find modern American haiku writers that took the Japanese style of 17 syllables and ran with it.

Here are some online samples.

Creative Haiku
Erotic Haiku
Ocean Haiku

Reading through these sites, I can see the seriousness of the art of haiku. I've been doing free verse for so long, it was hard to restrain myself. However, it was fun trying to force myself to think within certain guidelines. While poetry is all about selecting the right words, the syllable constraint made it tougher to choose the right word.

Here are my haikus. Even if they don't win and appear on wine labels, at least they made my site.

1. Red

So the Merlot turned
a pirouette, tossing
a bouquet in the air.

2. White

The Sauvignon Blanc
smiles and sparkles a bit
of summer in a glass.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Bubbles (My Poems): A Mid-Autumn Night's Dream

A Mid-Autumn Night's Dream

A friend beckoned me to Cabo San Lucas. I wasn't sure.
"Come and see it. Then decide if you want to go."

There were islands there now. We could hop to each
by wading through crystalline waters.
Total wade time was six minutes.

There were warm breezes awakening the palms.
The edges of the brown sand melted into blue-green ocean.
My toes broke into the shimmer of the sand,
leaving an imprint to be washed away momentarily.
The air lifted and lightened everyone.

"I will stay!" I decided.
Yet, I only have the clothes on my back.
I'm not ready for swimsuit season.
My daughter is dressed only in an orange swimsuit.
What about food? Everyone else brought bhel-puri.
My husband and I now have to help construct
the underground passage to the islands.
A menage of friends, parents and Disney princesses
came to my side. It would be fine.
Think of the six minute wad.

So, I stayed until I awakened.


As a side note, this dream obviously indicates how much I long for a vacation! I'm happy to announce I'm slowly stepping out of my writing funk. (Thanks for putting up with the simple poem above!)
  • Reading Hillary R Clinton's autobiography is a good mental palette cleanser. Historical and political Americana is always good for encouraging creativity. I don't find myself comparing my own writing to hers.
  • Colored my hair one rich mahogany color. It was kinda uneven with some touch ups in the middle, plus natural summer highlights. Only two people noticed and they are really good friends. :-)
  • Speaking of hair, I plan to grow out my bangs. Last summer, I ran into a hair stylist I used to go to in college. He said, "Are you growing out your bangs?" I told him no and gave my standard instructions for my bangs. He made a face. I asked, "Wait, why did you make that face?" He thought I should grow them. Well, fine, but not today. I have a big party tonight. So, against his better judgement, he cut them and gave me a fabulous hair cut (got lots of compliments!). Anyway, now I'm going to take his suggestion. I've had bangs since I was in college. No wonder people say "You look the same!" to me. If it doesn't look right, then off with them. It's only hair.
  • I'm taking Monday off. My plans are to work on 2 articles and go to Marshall's to look for a new purse. There has been something especially freeing to tell people at work, "I'm going to be out on Monday." In reality, it's 8 hours. However, with my job the impact of missing 1 day could be actually 2 days worth. But, they'll survive.
  • The Democrats have taken over the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi is the first female Speaker of the House (in line for Presidency right after Dick Cheney!), Rick Sentorum is officially not representing me, my values or my state and Rumsfeld is gone! Britney came to her senses and kicked out the dead weight. Astrologers have been predicting November to be a critical month for positive changes. I think these changes on the national level give me assurance about upcoming changes on the personal level.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Block and Write

How ironic my 101th post should be about writer's block.

I usually tell people there's no such thing as writer's block. It's all self-imposed. Truckers don't have truckers' block. They just keep on truckin'. Writers have to keep on writing.

Since last Spring there's been a lot of things in my life on the homefront, family and work. I feel I've had to shoulder a lot of emotional and sometimes, physical burdens. I have had to be strong for a lot of people. Some of it has gotten better and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Others are still open and all we can do is hope for the best, knowing it will all come together in time. Nothing in life is permanent. Bad times end like good times end.

I feel that my creativity has been a victim of this unexpected stress. It's been sucked out. I've lost passion for writing and tapping into my creative Spirit. It sounds very Oprah-esque, but I really do believe in my creative Spirit.

When I write poetry, I close my eyes and type. I listen to my thoughts, not editing or correcting, just listening and writing. Oftentimes I open my eyes and am amazed by what I've written. I've found old poems and do not remember writing them, though it's definitely me. (Ok, now my faithful readers are saying "chick's gone psycho from the stress." Maybe.). I would write a few poems a week - sitting in a weekly meeting, waiting for a file to unzip or process. Whenever and wherever it struck me to write, I wrote.

Last April, I got organized about my writing and tapped into my project management skills. Organizing my poems was an overwhelming task. I have them on disks, on work laptop, home PC, work notebook, pieces of paper in the kitchen and wherever I was when the creative spirit moved me. My other problem was I would come across Calls for Submissions and would miss the deadlines.

I estimated I had 16 hours of poetry compilation into one master document. I don't have 16 hours to spare in my life. However, I do have 1-2 hours over 8 days so I could handle that. I created a Word document table to track submissions, highlighting upcoming dates, contact info and recording what work I sent (filename, date, etc.) I was quite on top of this and saw immediate successes to being organized. I started categorizing and indexing my 200 poems.

Now, it's Fall and the stress of this summer has zapped me. I was bringing working on spreadsheets rather than my creative efforts. I've had to write "Missed Deadline" on my tracking form.

I need to get back into my creative efforts, but lately my work has been book reviews, articles and blogs. I don't know if anyone has noticed by I'm posting other people's poems and not my own anymore. I preferred to redesign my blogsite rather than write when I had a quiet evening to myself. I picked up an anthology of poetry off my bookshelf and was so disinterested. I'm actually reading Hilary Clinton's book right now. (I've had my head in Rohinton Mistry, anthologies by Indian, British writers and multiracial writers for the last few months. I need to clear my palette).

I'm not sure what I need to do to kick start and wake up my creative Spirit. I've trying doing a Yahoo Search on "Writer's Block" and found some "ok" websites that tell you basic things. I searched "find passion" and ended up with personal classified listings (oops! wrong search words!).

I used to write about this stuff and give advice to others. I have a few books for writers. My favorites are Gail Sher, "One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers" and Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird".

However, I don't know if that's enough. I need to find that spark, a fire, ma raison d'etre for writing. I think I need to do something different in my life - take a trip, take a risk or step away from the uncomfortable rut.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Il Postino, Pablo and Poetry

I was listening to my one of my favorite CD's yesterday - the soundtrack to Il Postino.
I received it as a Christmas present years ago and it's absolutely a treasure.

The first part of the CD has Pablo Neruda's poetry read aloud by actors. First of all, I love literary readings performed by actors because they know how to bring life to the words. Julia Roberts reads "Poor Fellows" and you could feel how much the words resonate with her as a celebrity. When Andy Garcia reads "Tonight I Can Write," you just want to cry along with him. Ralph Fiennes, Sting and Ethan Hawke read other poems and well, you just want to be with them.

The other half of the CD is instrumental and to me, it all sounds the same. It's pretty much the same theme song performed by different instruments and given different titles on the CD cover.
Anyway, I can't believe I haven't talked about Neruda on my blog yet. I love his poetry and if I learned Spanish, it would be only to read the his work in the purest form -- his own language. There is such an unashamed sensuality and passion to his poems.

I have always loved and identified with the poem below. To me, it not language or admiration between two lovers, but my feelings toward my daughter, especially the bolded lines (bolding is mine).

I Love You As

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;

thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,

risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;

so I love because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Now, as a poet, I find this poem always strikes a crisp chord in me.


And it was at that age ... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

Here's one more that I had found and saved:

In my sky at Twilight

In my sky at twilight you are a cloud
and your form and colour ar
e the way I love them.
You are mine, mine, woman with sweet lips
and in your life my infinite dreams live.

The lamp of my soul dyes your feet.
My sour wine is sweeter on your lips,
oh reaper of my evening song.
how solitary dreams believe you to be mine!

You are mine, mine, I go shouting it to the afternoon's
wind, and the wind hauls on my widowed voice.
Huntress of the depths of my eyes, your plunder
stills your nocturnal regard as though it were water.

You are taken in the net of my music, my love,
and my nets of music are wide as the sky.
My soul is born on the shore of your eyes of mourning.
In your eyes of mourning the land of dreams begins.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Edna St. Vincent Millay Poem

What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, And Where, And Why (Sonnet XLIII)
-Edna St. Vincent Millay

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

I never thought too much about Edna before, but I came across this poem yesterday on and thought it was beautiful and melancholic.
Photograph is The Kiss, Paris 2003 by Gavin Martin.

The Queen and the Soldier

The Queen And The Soldier
- Suzanne Vega

The soldier came knocking upon the queen's door
He said, "I am not fighting for you any more"
The queen knew she'd seen his face someplace before
And slowly she let him inside.

He said, "I've watched your palace up here on the hill
And I've wondered who's the woman for whom we all kill
But I am leaving tomorrow and you can do what you will
Only first I am asking you why."

Down in the long narrow hall he was led
Into her rooms with her tapestries red
And she never once took the crown from her head
She asked him there to sit down.

He said, "I see you now, and you are so very young
But I've seen more battles lost than I have battles won
And I've got this intuition, says it's all for your fun
And now will you tell me why?"

The young queen, she fixed him with an arrogant eye
She said, "You won't understand, and you may as well not try"
But her face was a child's, and he thought she would cry
But she closed herself up like a fan.

And she said, "I've swallowed a secret burning thread
It cuts me inside, and often I've bled"
He laid his hand then on top of her head
And he bowed her down to the ground.

" Tell me how hungry are you? How weak you must feel
As you are living here alone, and you are never revealed
But I won't march again on your battlefield"
And he took her to the window to see.

And the sun, it was gold, though the sky, it was gray
And she wanted more than she ever could say
But she knew how it frightened her, and she turned away
And would not look at his face again.

And he said, "I want to live as an honest man
To get all I deserve and to give all I can
And to love a young woman who I don't understand
Your highness, your ways are very strange."

But the crown, it had fallen, and she thought she would break
And she stood there, ashamed of the way her heart ached
She took him to the doorstep and she asked him to wait
She would only be a moment inside.

Out in the distance her order was heard
And the soldier was killed, still waiting for her word
And while the queen went on strangling in the solitude she preferred
The battle continued on.

I used to listen to Vega's songs back in college. Remember "Tom's Diner" and "Solitude Standing"? I used to put on my headphones and listen to the tape as a meditative tool, lying on the dorm bed and unwinding my brain.

This song always stayed with me as a poet for its simplicity and the ability to tell a complicated story. The plot is quickly established and the characters are familiar. It has a fairy tale appeal with the surprising message. It moves very quickly.

I always loved the line, "And to love a young woman who I don't understand" because it makes it seem that men and women do not "get" each other and that is a fact of life. It's not a Mars/Venus phenomenon, but what it is and always has been. Also, the soldier's request for it makes male/female relationship become on of the pleasant struggles in life. The soldier wants that since he's seen enough of war and death that ensues.

This song came to mind earlier while listening to the news. In times of war and the unknown motivations of our leaders, it makes us realize that our story is not new. It also shows the common man being more grounded than the queen, and the queen is so vulnerable inspite of her strong facade.
Those we deem as powerful are probably the weakest and use their power as a shield. And, the soldier chose to question and once he had the upper hand, she destroyed him for his actions.

(photograph of Arundel Castle, West Sussex England is from

Sunday, September 10, 2006


The Apple Tree
- Dorothy Parker
When first we saw the apple tree
The boughs were dark and straight,
But never grief to give had we,
Though Spring delayed so late.

When last I came away from there
The boughs were heavy hung,
But little grief had I to spare
For Summer, perished young.

I feel strongly about the last line this year. Summer slipped away so quickly. Living in the northeast, we feel the seasons. I always wondered what it'd be like to live in a place without drastic seasonal changes, like FL or AZ. I don't think I would miss the seasons. I thrive in the sunshine and warmth.

Fall, albeit beautiful in its colors, is very grim to me. We're finding beauty in its decay. The smells of autumn we cherish are only the fallen leaves mixing back to the earth. It's almost as if it's a last exciting show before the curtain falls. Then the theatrical crew cleans up and leaves the stage bare, revealing its harsh structures.

The weather today is in the 80's and there is still much green on the trees. Because we live in the northeast, we treasure our time with summer as long as she'll stay for us. While I love warm weather, I also love the vibrant greenery and lushness my state has to offer.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More on Writing

Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally you do it for the money.
- Moliere

So, I was happily surprised yesterday to receive a $10 check in the mail as payment for a poem. It was accepted into Thema Literary Society's issue "A Perfect Cup of Coffee" for 2007. This is my first literary journal acceptance. I'm also excited because this brings my total literary earnings LTD (Life to Date) to $30.00.

It's even more ironic because two blogs ago I was wishing for a poetry acceptance (remember the ego boost I needed?). Now, I am wondering if making public wishes mean they will be granted. Were we all misled by believing wishes must be secrets?

Anyway, what I wish for now is help at work. An assistant. A smart person to help me with my workload. I have too much going on and not enough help and it's affecting my work-life balance. If only I could get my literary earnings up so I could quit my day job!

By the way, I also got a rejection today from a South Asian anthology, which is a downer. However, now that I've been keeping track of my submissions, I see there might be problems with the specific piece that I'm peddling. I need to work on that.

However, I'm taking work home these days so it's cutting into my writing time. I need to write so I don't have to work, but I can't write because I have to work.

The quote that drives me the most in my writing endeavors is this one:

There's nobody out there waiting for it, and nobody's going to scold you if you don't do it. - Lynne Sharon Schwartz

I know I am the only one waiting for it and I am the only one to scold myself.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

DesiLit,Writers, Writing

So now that I've organized my writing efforts and put my project management skills to work, I'm getting my work published online. I've gotten rejections, but the acceptances outweight the effects of the rejections. Though I could use an acceptance of my poetry somewhere (just for an ego boost!)

Anyway, check out DesiLit's first online magazine for my review of Shashi Tharoor's Bookless in Baghdad. The DesiLit editors did an impressive job in selecting quality work for their magazine and I enjoyed reading the bios of the contributors, since each seem as fascinating as their work.

As for Tharoor, I had the opportunity to meet him last year and saw him speak on two different occasions, just months apart. I wanted to see him at another event, but feared he'd call me a stalker. Here's a picture from the SAJA writers conference last year. I had asked him to sign my "Mirrorwork" book while my cousin and friends took the pictures. (We turned from smart, confident women into giggling author groupies at this event, dribbling phrases like "I loved your book.") He had read a chapter from "Bookless in Baghdad" and it would not be released in the US for a few months. Fortunately, someone brought this book for us from India.

That was a great event with speakers like Anita Desai, Suketu Mehta and Jhumpa Lahiri. For me it was most powerful to see Jhumpa on stage. I admit - as an aspiring and passionate writer - I've been jealous of Jhumpa's success. Usually I think, what does she have that I don't? From what I know, our lives and upbringing are quite similar, except that she continued with her MFA and has a Pulitzer, while I took detours and ended up with an MS in Information Science. (Damn proud of that I am!)

That day, she had come to the event with her husband and children. Her husband was taking care of the little ones and while on stage, she would nervously glance at them. Her husband was taking the crying kids out of the auditorium. As soon as she was able to get off the stage, she raced out of the auditorium and they all left. That made me realize that at the end of the day, when you're done with your Pulitzer and author presentations, you are a mom with a crying baby. This is what is always on the forefront of who you are. In that light, everything looked so different about being a literary success.

I also got over my feelings of frustration, too. I always felt, she's taking my stories. That day she read an excerpt of an upcoming novel. I listened and realized these are her stories and mine are totally different. There's not just one queue for literary success. There are many and we're in parallel queues (and mine just happens to wrap around the block!)

By the way, I blogged about this event for DesiLit.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Neruda, Love & Us..

XVII (I do not love you...)

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Translated by Stephen Tapscott


I've always loved this poem in the context of my daughter - even before she was born. The last two lines came to mind the other day when I was reading a bedtime story. We're sitting on her bed, she's in my lap and we both have pj shorts. Her bare knees, my bare knees were touching. I wove my arms through hers and let my elbows angle into hers. I just felt my body and her body were so entwined. Ever since she was born, I had this weird sensation. If I'm holding her and I pat her on the back, I'm always surprised that I don't feel my hand through her body. I feel we're still part of each other.

Women Writers

I had this list saved, and wanted to share it. I got it from Chicago Public Library and I've starred my favorites. A bit tricky since I may have read the author's other works and not this particular one (e.g., Isabel Allende)

Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women *
Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings *
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice *
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex
Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture
Boston Women's Health Book Collective Staff, Our Bodies, Ourselves
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre *
Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights *
Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape *
Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth *
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring *
Willa Cather, My Antonia *
Mary Boykin Chesnut, A Diary from Dixie *
Kate Chopin, The Awakening *
Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson *
Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health
George Eliot (Mary Ann or Marian Evans), Middlemarch *
Fannie Farmer, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book
Francis Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake
Dian Fossey, Gorillas in the Mist
Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl *
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
Emma Goldman, Living My Life
Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch
Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness
Edith Hamilton, Mythology
Betty Lehan Harragan, Games Mother Never Taught You
Karen Horney, Our Inner Conflicts
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God *
Helen Keller, The Story of My Life *
Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior *
Elisabeth Kr-Ross, On Death and Dying
Frances Moore Lapp, Diet for a Small Planet
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird *
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals
Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party *
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa
Golda Meir, My Life
Edna St. Vincent Millay, Collected Poems
Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind *
Marianne Moore, Complete Poems of Marianne Moore
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon *
Lady Shikibu Murasaki, The Tale Genji
Anais Nin, The Early Diary of Anais Nin
Flannery O'Connor, The Complete Stories
Zoe Oldenbourg, The World Is Not Enough
Tillie Olsen, Silences
Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels
Emmeline Pankhurst, My Own Story
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar *
Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools
Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born
Margaret Sanger, Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography
Sappho, Sappho: A New Translation *
May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein *
Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor
Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin *
Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror
Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter
Alice Walker, The Color Purple *
Eudora Welty, Delta Wedding
Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome *
Phyllis Wheatley, The Collected Works of Phyllis Wheatley
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women*
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own *

Friday, July 7, 2006

ABCDLady Articles

Just wanted to share some news that I'll be contributing to the Parenting section of ABCD Lady. Here's my first article, "Making the Most of Summer with Your Kids."

If you have suggestions for future topics, please let me know. I'd like to continue this tone of being informative without being preachy and realistic without whining.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Alice Walker Poem

you rubbed
my shoulder
last night
a poem
traveled down
my arm.


this year
it different?

No one
a blessing.


Every time
you live


You cannot
if you could
it would




us up
I love Alice Walker's poetry for her simplicity and the beauty of her words and ideas. I have a few of her poetry books and they're like little treasures. The poem above is printed on multiple pages in her book "A Poem Traveled Down My Arm." So, it's as if there's a nugget of gold on each page - letting you marvel and relish the words and feelings.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Verdi Cries

Verdi Cries

-10,000 Maniacs "Blind Man's Zoo"

The man in 119 takes his tea all alone.
Mornings we all rise to wireless Verdi cries.
I'm hearing opera through the door.
The souls of men and women, impassioned all.
Their voices climb and fall; battle trumpets call.
I fill the bath and climb inside, singing.

He will not touch their pastry
but every day they bring him more.
Gold from the breakfast tray, I steal them all away
and then go and eat them on the shore.

I draw a jackal-headed woman in the sand,
sing of a lover's fate sealed by jealous hate
then wash my hand in the sea.
With just three days more I'd have just about learned the entire score to Aida.

Holidays must end as you know.
All is memory taken home with me:
the opera, the stolen tea, the sand drawing, the verging sea, all years ago.


I loved the 10,000 Maniacs like anything back in the day, and this song is absolutely beautiful. I loved the simplicity of the music and the story in the lyrics. It's a short song, but it says so so much. There's a viola at the end of it, which is exquisite. I was writing earlier this morning, and this song just popped in my head. So, I wanted to share this.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Poetry: Margaret Atwood

Variation on the Word Sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descent,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

I liked this poem because of the playfulness of the words in the first paragraph, where the narrator moves from just being a spectator to being the participant, the Dreamer. There is an intimacy, but there's also a request for permission to dream. And the dream becomes an active process between the two (walking, leading).

The sentence is so powerful. It is as if the narrator had requested permission and now just wants to be there in any form - a necessary form.

I'm a fan of Margaret Atwood's and love her stories, novels and poetry. I don't know how she does it, but every word is carefully placed. I had listened to "Alias Grace" on audiotape and while it was so pleasant to the ear, I kept wishing I had the book in front of me because she's so poetic. (I was listening to her while driving to work, so book wasn't a logical option).

When I read "The Handmaid's Tale" years ago, I couldn't sleep at night because I felt the character's anxieties. I think fiction and dreams blended.

And, if that's not enough Atwood for you, here's more: Gertrude Talks Back giving a voice to Hamlet's mother.