Friday, September 27, 2013

May to December: a reconciliation

(a found poem taken from the Defendant’s Answer in Case #134400348)

Baby, love is a dangerous diagnosis, 
intellectually dishonest.

I was old and frantic—and Child, 
you have to deal with failed husbands.

I admit my emotional infidelity,
an absence of feelings;

I needed to overcome the boredom
of identity crisis,

but it continues much the same.

And Baby, we involuntarily settle
with single contentment,

coping with separation,
by never accepting discernible change.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


They’ve told the strangest stories searching for
a cure, when beasts and saints wage war  for change
within the skins of men. These addled tongues
a wag, their howling hips a thrust like dogs
in heat or fever; madness unexplained
until they fix the silver to the blame:
A bite or scratch, a circled stream of piss,
a sip of rain from Satan’s fetid paw-
print. Judas wants his just reward. Return
the traitor’s kiss and find your mind restored,
or dance with Salome and dinner plates
to offer hemispheres of left and right,
your baptized globes of mercury. This taste
for blood and sex is lupine hunger.  Wolf,
they say. A hunted fiend. A lunatic.
Demonic feral canine, caught and fluxed,
now wailing at the swollen moon. You pray
to be released--to know renewal found
in waving palms, in calm and darkened skies,
in hope of changeless rest before the nail
arrives that pierces your lycanthropy.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Empedocles as muse

There was a moment today, when Empedocles walked out of the library. (It wasn't really Empedocles. That's what I'm calling him; he's a mountain climber, a writer, a musician, and my latest addiction, but the name fits. I love every conscientious word that comes out of his mouth. I love his silences.)

He walked up to me and for a split second his eyes were full of this softness and vulnerability that left me in a puddle on the sidewalk. You'd think I wet myself or something, but no, I just melted.

I have a dear, dear friend who is advising me as I go. She loves both of us and knows that I can't stop the tidal flood, that he is skittish, and that in reality grad school is in the way of anything longterm for either of us. He's vocalized that he's wary of dating. I've texted that he is one of my favorite people and that I want to spend more time with him. We are both temperamental, somewhat solitary, definite creatives with addictive life patterns and the defeat of still working on our bachelors degrees and being single in our late 30s. My friend has encouraged me to let Empedocles know that I'm not looking for anything between us beyond his application process next spring to grad schools. I don't know if I even want to say that much. It will unfold or it won't.

In Poetry today we discussed Orpheus and the necessity of love, loss and longing. It was all there in that lightning flash of his green eyes. Or was that just what I was feeling?

I have a que of pieces to write at the moment. A gothic blank verse piece paralleling mental illness and lycanthropy, a philosophy paper on the real Empedocles and the genesis of the four elements, and another poem, free verse, on having coffee with my Empedocles.

Even if nothing more than continued friendship happens between us, he is the new muse.

He is the element.

We are climbing together again this coming Sunday.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Reviewing the question

Y Mountain. Climb numero tres. 
7.2 miles roundtrip
3,543 ft elevation gained
I did it in 4 hours with at least 1/2 an hour of that
devoted to sitting in my undies,
snacking on a Clif Bar and drinking a Red Bull
at the summit while my sweat-soaked clothes
dried on a branch.

The benefits of hiking solo.

Although if my English geek hiking guys had been with me today
I think I'd have done the same thing.


The Pie Tin's literary journal held reading night this evening. Anyone interested in giving feedback was invited—about 20 attended. We read through nearly 200 submissions in 2 1/2 hours and then debated the "maybes" for another hour and a half. For obvious ethical reasons I couldn't read or vote on my own submissions. But by the end of the evening I had three poems in the "definite yes" pile, and two in the editor's pile for further consideration. I submitted a piece of prose, but it was voted out probably because of disturbing content.

I don't know how many will make it into the journal once the editors realize the number of pieces that cleared jury, but I'm feeling positively about being a poet again. My muses shift and inspiration changes as I shift from one Pre-Socratic in Ancient Greek philosophy to another. But clear, vivid work is falling through the sieve.

On the way out to the parking lot once the festivities had dispersed, next semester's editor-in-chief pegged me for the Spring journal's poetry editor. 

Now if I could just break onto the national journal scene.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What does the shrink say?


Back up to 900mgs. Not that I didn't already know this was coming. I'd actually raised the dosage myself the night before my appointment. I have to maintain the extra 225mgs for a week and then report for a routine blood draw, to make certain my salt is within therapeutic range.

Meantime, back at the cottage...

I'm climbing the hardest mountains, because I am a glutton for punishment. And because I suck at convincing myself that caring about fascinating, broken people won't in one way or another add to the richness of my nostalgic wellspring. I'm a writer. I can imagine things, but living them is so much better. He is a cipher to my esotericism. 

Shrink also says, "Sl-e-e-e-e-p."

And so I shall. So I must. Time to take my drugs and level the playing field between the sensation of the body and the reason of the soul. (Thank you, Descartes.)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Altitude sickness

I want to climb your hardest mountain,
to enable the stone and find a single foothold 

to steady the what-is or what-might-be.

I want to breathe the narrow current swirling
somewhere on the map like the lazy
evaporation of pinot on your breath.

I would repast at the periodic table 
of your heart, but your theorems and proofs
are a drunken pedestrian dance of altitudes 

and elevations. I want to tell myself
when I am done fitting words to your absence
that you’ll compass the circumference 

of messages in bottles, possibly abacus 
the swallows in the eaves, drop by drop,
and perhaps, near the summit you'll allow

fingertips to navigate the flight of topographical 
butterflies drowning in your oxygen-starved
bloodstream, convinced they never needed air. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

38 ways to slip and fall

1. Move
2. Climb a lot of mountains
3. Start school
4. Start losing sleep
5. Resort to higher quantities of caffeine to fight the effects of sleep deprivation and soporific medication
6. Hang with guys
7. Tell yourself that they're just pals
8. Hang with them until chemicals in your body tell you that they're not
9. Stay up on your homework
10. Lose even more sleep
11. Justify a couple cups of coffee, because diet colas are poison in a bottle
12. Hang with your "pals" some more
13. Try to see straight
14. Hang with poets at a Friday night soiree featuring a guitar, a man, and more Leonard Cohen than your chemical reactions can handle
15. Steal a couple of swallows of pinot
16. Steal the last two inches in the bottle when no one is looking
17. Offer yourself up like the sacrificial lamb to the man with the guitar
18. Drive away like it's nothing when he turns you down but says he'll be around
19. Don't even try to analyze what all of this means
20. Take a trazodone even though you've had pinot
21. Wake up and head into the mountains
22. Find yourself five miles from point (a) at the trailhead of Cascade
23. Read a little philosophy
24. Sing at the top of your lungs
25. Talk to the Universe
26. Whirl and spin in the arms of your cranial chemical vat
27. Sleep well that night
28. Wake rested, but agitated
29. Spend a couple of hours in the company of headstones reading the philosophy of dead men
30. Redirect your thoughts a dozen times
31. Bubble in discontent
32. Tell your kids that you're not well
33. Try to limit your caffeine
34. When one of your climbing boys messages you about Lone Peak answer back that you're game because you are
35. Restrain yourself from messaging your other climbing boy, he'll be around
36. You have an appointment with your psychiatrist tomorrow at 8 a.m.
37. Imagine Jacob's Ladder and the hours and hours of sweat and conversation to the Peak of Lone with your climbing boys
38. Settle into your skull. It's going to be a long night

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Faith, like September leaves

Few aspects of the bipolar life make sense. Lately I've tolerated the word "crazy" more than I feel anyone should. "Intense" also entered the fray.

I wait it out, as patiently as my emotions allow. 

All I know is that I feel and feeling doesn't stop. As a spiritual community we are taught to follow our feelings to verify truth. 

What I feel: Restlessness. Discontent. Unsettled. Fluctuation. Passion. The chemical charge of sexuality. A ghost of unholy proportions that whispers little peace. Haunted. A mistrust of organized leadership to even come close to getting what the last thirty-eight years of feeling have produced in me as far as a capability to accept that people with mood disorders can count on any sort of security in the arms of anyone other than a Savior. The necessity to create run-on sentences. The push of language. The fury of sound, of light, of scent, of color. The synthesis of senses. The oneness of that convergence with all that is not comprised within the boundary of my skin. The fiery witness of attraction. The promise of tutelage in stillness from stone.

I press my hands to the walls of the canyon and attempt to merge with the cool weight of a billion year's existence. Instead, I am a leaf quavering before the fall, waking to the slow awareness of waning nourishment from the steadying branch.

This is my "Woe is me, I can't read men" post

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Art of Mr. and Mrs.

Three weeks in the county clerk
misplaced our marriage license.
You were already painting bread pans
and blank pages in Photoshop.

I picked up the pen
and began reperfecting singularities,
practicing my balancing-act
verbs in stand-alone—
embrace, converse, tango.  

My fiction
never rang so true, glistening
wet as a newborn,
or as the 500 x 750 pixels
drying on your canvas.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

For Love and Heraclitus—a three item poem

You come upon me,
a sudden cloud,
the way an otter parts
the mirror of air and the half sleep
of the river, like the prayer
echoed in the word home.

I find your arrows petroglyphing the walls
of ancient canyon roads
leading to and from the caverns
of my newborn atria, images I recognize
in the sandbag of stars, in the flintstroke
of breath and a smoldering
moment before return to sleep.
You capture the blue brushstroke
both up and down

ever overhead and always absent
the way I have known waiting.
I have called these arrivals and departures
the Holy Spirit, and in other seasons
an inferno of devils.
You are the clear, boundless
desert sky, and yet I lift my face
and it rains.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gudridur's 12 Step Program

Dear G—,

(1) I've heard your rationale on this one. I'm not disagreeing with the agreeable parts. He is a great guy, and I'm glad you've seen that.
(2) You've dated an alcoholic poet before; I'm not seeing much of a difference if this one is a prose writer.
(3) Since the Heartblender isn't a reliable option, I recommend clamping the main heart valve at the atria before anything catching escapes the ventricle.
(4) Yes, you may climb mountains with him. (The man, not your heart. Although the activity will strengthen the latter, in both of you.) You may hang out at the Pie Tin together and at Theraputic Writing Club events. I may even allow you to watch movies with him eventually, once this is all under control, but for now just take his recommendations and get back to him about what you think.
(5) You may take his advice and look for ways to extinguish your habitual binary thought patterns. In fact, in all ways that he healthily influences you, indulge. Try to reciprocate, without getting overly invested. Listen to him. Not enough people do, and he is wise. Do NOT enable him.
(6) I know you're thinking about texting him right now. He's probably drunk, or doing homework. 
(7) You have loads of homework of your own.
(8) You do not have time to think about this guy, who is definitely not a boy, who is such a sudden, easy and unlikely magnetic masculine force. When and what was the shift, really?
(9) You have a wandering eye. You have a dozen crushes. You cannot guarantee that you won't hurt him anyway. You are not allowed to hurt people.
(10) The Gym Rat is a douche. The 28-year-old isn't exactly a douche, but definitely a special kind of tool. I don't know how these facts are supposed to act as a deterrent from pursuing or even just liking this man who is giving you issues, but it's good to know where you stand on all fronts. 
(11) Be good to yourself. Be good to your Divine Parents. Be good to others.
(12) Be careful and stick to your smarts. Emotions will betray you. Your mind can reason through this if you really work hard. If you really want to. This is one of those occasions owning all the underpinnings of a crucible. 

Best of luck!

Love you much,

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fish to a Goat: Nyad puts life into perspective

I've been following this woman for years, even though I am a terrible swimmer. I adhere to her fierce standard of setting goals and doing what needs to be done to get there. Watching her walk ashore on Key West today via CNN livestream was otherworldly and affirming. Maybe even enough to get me back on Cascade before the end of the season, once I've checked off Lone Peak and Provo Peak.

I want to live the way she subscribes to living.
I want to remember, but to never let the past find its way to my skin. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The monster they call "Cascade"

I'm not certain how to effectively explain Cascade's difficulty.

Take all the mountains I have ever climbed and posted about on this blog. Take the hardest portions of each of those, string them end to end, and multiply it for 7.5 miles one way. Then, add a nasty thunderhead that rolls in from the south, banks straight toward you as you stand exposed on the ridge line, and unzips her contents as you have just scrambled up yet another unimaginably steep gain.

You can see the summit. It's not 1 1/2 miles more, at most. But you have uncovered the secret deception of this mountain now, and you are cognizant that between you and that destination are countless gains and losses in precious elevation. You've been taxed for the last six, or is it seven consecutive charges, up then down the ridge? This mountain isn't joking around with those brave enough to try and climb her. 

Climb you will, sucker. Climb and climb again.

Kelly called it quits for us, and I knew he was right to do so. We had lightning, after all, and absolutely no cover. Craig's hip was acting up, even with stretching. And even short rests at the middle and top of each new gain were beginning to be pointless for stamina. Sadly, even truncating the hike, it was going to be physically difficult going back. After 4 1/2 hours of a valiant elevational push against humidity and grade, we agreed that summiting wasn't going to happen. Maybe not even later this year.

It's that tough. 

I'm not bested, I tell myself. Reason called it quits.

But this mountain is difficulty at class 2+ that I never imagined.
She looks easy. She's really a monster.

I'm counting Cascade "climbed" for 2013.

Kelly contemplating the summit





confronting age

wisdom (sans tempérance)

wildlife at 10,000 ft

more reality

complete lucidity


Writers resting at the foot of a monster