Thursday, September 24, 2009


Almost, now, I can remember the sound of the screech owl at random moments of the day. With windows still open and the September quiet settled in, I've been hearing the owls through the night, several of them it seems, imprinting themselves on my mind as I doze and turn and rise to consciousness enough to hear them, then sleep again.
Now, with time shifting, it's just past six and the owl out back is making its fluttery sound. The moonflowers are opening, the crickets have begun. I'm shifting, too, wrapping up the day at an earlier hour so that now, at six, the plum tart is cooling on the board and I have swum, showered, and am hanging in the hammock watching the massive slow march of clouds across the window of trees in this landscape that is mine -- that has lent itself to me -- a painting in my heart, owls, crickets, the occasional osprey piercing by and all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Six Words

Though apparently it's not clear whether the story is true, it's said that when Ernest Hemingway was challenged to create a six-word story, he wrote: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Now, there's a book in which six-word memoirs collected by SMITH, an online storytelling magazine, have been published, called "Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure."
I was struck by two I read somewhere, authors unknown (to me): "All I ever wanted was more," and "Moments of Transcendence, intervals of yearning."

Inspired by these, I sent three topics for six-word stories to a friend and former colleague, Tim Small, who has started studying writing at the New School.
Here's what he came up with:

(On redemption)
Spilled food on lap of angel.

(On deception)
Marry me: I love your country.

(and on rebirth)
One hand left, picked up guitar.

Another six-word memoir in the book -- "They called. I answered. Wrong Number," reminded me of a story I heard recently from Randy Rosenthal, a sculptor here in NY whose lifelike wood carvings of things like the New York Times crossword page, or a yellow legal pad, bend the mind. He got a call recently asking if he would speak at a conference of toy designers, and was puzzled. Turns out they were looking for someone in Rhode Island named Randy Rosenbaum, and got his number instead. However, having Googled him after the brief conversation on the phone, they decided they wanted him instead. So it's off to a banquet hall full of toymakers he goes.

Autumnal Equinox

These days, darkness lies down with the late afternoon in the hour before dusk and the crickets begin their seamless layers of song, a peaceful sound that settles into my night ears.

Mystery creatures, I would like to attend their symphony someday, to see how it is done. A steady body hum, the sharper punctuation tones done with a rhythmic sawing of legs, all in sync.

The moonflowers have been on my mind. Purest white, dribbled butter lines of seams that fade as they stretch open, wide across as my hand. Moonflowers in light on recent days, where the quality of bright has kept them from shying away. All summer I waited while the leaves grew plentiful, large and green. Then in these late days, the blooms. The first like a gift, then four on one night, lasting into the day. Then finally, they are spent, and the shriveled petal skin droops, those glorious flowers now vaguely horrific appendages dangling from the plant.

And then the deer. Half awake in twilight, I came downstairs and had the slow dawning that something in my view was changed, the trellis hanging away from the house, moonflowers fallen to the brick. And the deer lifted its head to look at me, still slowly chewing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Swallows and Dragonflies

Last week it was the swallows, flying in over the harbor to flutter down on trees in the scrubby bay side of the beach, singly and in twos and threes, swooping in from across the water and over the road where I stood, watching. Other people walked, biked, drove by without seeming to notice, or did not stop. There were hundreds of birds, trees-full, settled for a moment until, by silent code, all would alight, wing once or twice around, tracing arcs, and then group together to settle again. Head tipped back, transfixed, of course I thought of "The Birds," and how Tippi Hedren ran, children in hand, heads bowed, screaming, as the birds flew in to peck. These swallows -- I called them swifts, the word just seemed right, but learned later they were tree swallows -- had that strength in numbers, power to make all of those oblivious beachgoers take note, but did not feel menacing at all.

This week there are dragonflies, hurrying in wide circles around the yard outside my kitchen door, where once before I sat surrounded by a swarm of them, something of a totem for me. I've found their bodies before and saved their clear, veined wings, ephemeral things with more strength than I may ever summon.
It's dizzying, chaotic, trying to follow them in the oncoming twilight, keep them in focus, in view, their hurried and effortless loops tipping vertically and horizontally like intertwined circus hoops.

There's nothing to do but sit here in the midst of them despite any other plans. I know I'm just by happenstance in the midst of whatever fall business they're about, just like the swallows were stopping off along the bay beach, serendipitously, when I was, too.
But both moments feel like blessed visitations to me.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

To Give Voice

First post in my first foray into the world of blogs. After reading blogs written by two neighbor/writers, I began to see how posting here, publishing thoughts and observations, would be a way to open up and speak, and keep my writing "spidey senses" activated.
It's all been a silent, internal process too long; lots of creative thought-doors have opened, leading only to some tangled hallway of the brain or, in the more energetic and fortunate moments, perhaps as far as to my notebook. Hope this will be a way to widen the road, and the dialogue.

Spring rain in the railyard, Centralia, Washington