Haibun by Angelee Deodhar

Angelee Deodhar, India

The Host
 
A sun filled deck, a tomato plant with two ripe red tomatoes, artifacts in stone, wood, wire masks, books and the medley of colors is offset by a carpet the shade of sand. This family is mine for the duration of the conference and I am free to  roam among tree shaded lupines, and hostas, write, read in this temporary home. But  then aren’t all our homes temporary?
                                                        
                                                      summer clouds
                                                      a tortoise shell cat fills
                                                    the morning with purrs
   
My family takes me out to dinner, we get our food served with sauces designed like a Modigliani painting. The talk turns to ghosts and then to writing from different cultures. Their son Keenan,a teenager, reads his poems and later his father tries his hand at haiku. We swing back in time and in their eyes I can see compassion strong enough for them to take in a total stranger from halfway across the world.
                                                           
                                                            on beige walls
                                                           ancient African masks
                                                             the color of his skin     

The Totem Animal of The Adirondacks Seems To Be…The Chair

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Giant

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Artsy

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Doll Sized

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Big and Small

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Average

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Tiny

Chittenango Falls: poem by Miriam Sagan

I had the pleasure of re-visiting the falls today, and thought to post a poem I wrote about them, published in SEVEN PLACES IN AMERICA:

Chittenango Falls

Back in the Devonian, minus 400 million
When we weren’t here

Nor was this continent
That later would house upstate New York

Pangaea floated at the equator
Flooded with warm shallow seas

Went north, all shale and limestone
Sedimentation full of coral, sponge, and mollusk fossils

Met a glacier
In years measured only in thousands

A timeline that might mean something to us
When there were already people and dogs

As there are today in the park
By Chittenango Falls

Where so much water, pure white and powerful
Hurtles and cascades down

A glacial division of the stream
Through the gorge

So green this summer afternoon
Our own small portion of the sublime.

Knit Bombing, Cambridge, NY

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Weird Summer by Devon Miller-Duggan–conclusion

The past three years have involved three heavy hits (a job that dissolved in weirdly nasty ways, the death of a god son, my mother’s illnesses and increasingly rapid descent/disappearance/dissolution into dementia). But they’ve also been years full of particularly wonderful stuff with my daughters and grandkids, the publication of a chapbook, and a deepening awareness of the long list of wealths I have to bring to my walking through these years—a remarkable, if slightly imperfect husband; two fascinating and loving grandkids who live very close by; the parents of those grandkids, whose marriage is a wonderful thing to watch unfold and bloom; another daughter who’s found a really good guy who makes her glow; students who give me more than I could ever give them; enough money to help with my mother (and, as I write this, to pay the three guys wrestling with the ivy that ate my yard while I was dealing with other things…); a network of remarkable friends and other writers; a strong faith community (though, if I don’t dial back on the stuff I do at/for church, the aforementioned daughters may take a shovel to the side of my head…). I could go on, but you get the gist—this is a privileged life. That never means that anyone is defended from suffering, of course, but it certainly helps to be able to go out for crabcakes on the spur of the moment and to have (bless its mechanical heart) functioning air conditioning.

Obviously, because I’m not teaching for these months, I’m left spending way too much time either worrying about Stuff That Needs To Get Done (someday my bedroom will get painted…), procrastinating (my one true genius), or wallowing/thinking. I do get some things figured out, a bit. And maybe it’s a good thing that this year I’m taking more naps and just zoning-out rather than frantically pushing myself to makemakemake. Turning 60 was/is a big deal, and it deserved at least some of the existential crisis it birthed. I suppose I’ve learned a fair amount about myself in the past three years—always a good thing, yes? Lots of buried crap about my relationship with my mother (if the Truth will set us free, I ought to be able to levitate by now…), my own relationship to creativity and life and faith and doggedness. Maybe a little patience with myself.

But what has struck me forcibly is that, at least for me, life is not generally a matter of feeling 50/50 or 60/40 or any other mathematically sensible set of emotions/emotional conflicts. It’s very often, maybe even mostly a matter of 100/100. I 100% never wanted to have any relationship with Pretty Good U after I got ground up in an institutional clustermuck, and 100% cannot conceive of not teaching. I 100% loathe my adjunct-ness and 100% adore my students. I 100% want my mother’s increasingly fragile and narrowed life to end and 100% do not want her to die. I 100% rejoice in making things, and 100% have nothing calling me to do so. I am 100% extroverted and 110% introverted, 100% bossy/dynamic/rebellious and 100% passive/goodgirl/compliant. 100% obsessed with my looks and 90% whogivesashit. And so forth and so on.

I conclude that I am a failure at The Dialectical. I conclude that I am (and am not particularly special in this) maybe pretty decent at The Paradoxical, The Oxymoronic, The I-Don’t-Really-Know-A-Word-For-It. Whatever it is, it isn’t balance, that’s for damn sure. It’s mostly like eating firecrackers for every meal and waiting for them to explode. I don’t think all of us are this way. I actually know a number of people who manage (some) balance, (some) equilibrium, (some) conversations with themselves and/or God that do not consist of nothing but shouting. I am pretty close to deciding that I just am this way and need to figure out how to make it work for me for however many decades of functioning brain I have left. I think enough humans share this trait for me to call it a kind of normalcy. Some of us are moderate by nature, or at least moderation-seeking, some of us not so much.

But it does make me feel like I’m caught in summer all the time—living in a cool house surrounded by thick, slimy, choking air. That the inside is not really safe because, even though it’s cool, it’s also a kind of prison. That the outside, even though it’s where the light and the alive things and connectedness are, is a deathly threat.

A little melodrama, anyone? 100%? A little normal, anyone? 100%?

As near as I can figure, it amounts to being 100% good for creativity and 100% choking. Which, I’m thinking, explains why this particular summer is maybe more discombobulated, clarifying, and cranky-making than usual.

ZACHARIAH RIEKE Show

The artist with Painting 14, 2014, acrylic on raw canvas, 67 x 69.5 inches
get-attachment

ZACHARIAH RIEKE

PAINTING

OPEN HOUSE

August 1,2 & 3
10:30 am – 7:00 pm

416 Alta Vista Santa Fe, NM 87505
505-988-5229
zackrieke@yahoo.com

EXHIBITION CONTINUES THROUGH AUGUST
BY APPOINTMENT

Weird Summer #2 by Devon Miller-Duggan

Usually, if I do nothing else during the summer, I spend it in a frenzy of ignoring my To-Do list in favor of making small tchotchkes for my church’s Christmas craft show—so much so that my husband has been known to complain about my being so zoned-out in a bliss of making that he practically ceases to exist.

Not so much this year. Mostly, in the evenings, I play mahjong on my tablet while watching TV, or read lots of fantasy novels with female heroes. This is not mysterious. I’ve been chronicling my stresses around living with my mother and her dementia (some days, they really do seem like separate entities—as if she adopted a really unpleasant stray animal or dumbass boyfriend without asking whether we’d like to have a new member of the household) for a while now, and I seem to not be the sort of person who buries her troubles in frenzies of creative output. It’d be nice if I were.

I’m not creatively dead, precisely. I’ve sort of picked up a novel that got dropped a couple of years ago, vaguely. I have a really silly poetry project going that involves trying to write 26 mixed-up abcedarian poems based on drawing letter molds out of a bag—I have some sort of gut instinct that doing this much really random work will kick something loose that needs kicking loose. I’ve picked up my other blog (fatmatters.wordpress.com, for those of you who don’t know) again and am obsessing over its numbers less than I was (I have a little problem with thinking every project I undertake is going to be The One that Changes Everything—I kind of decided that letting go of that might be a worthy project to undertake in this, my 60th year). The occasional poem slips out.

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