10 thoughts on “Sunday, January 16, 2022

  1. catalina, xicano, leo — straining every last piece of juice out of every last life. under dogs do under stand, especially in this place where everyone talks to his own mouth. but those clementines are mine.

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  2. W.G. – Interesting. I used to work with a Dr. Kilduff. But, he was a urologist. The plot thickens. Could he save Mrs. Veci?
    stay tuned next time for the exciting conclusion…

    Catalina – this helped me set up a shortcut to keep my page small enough, yet clear enough to meet Daniel’s restrictions on size. https://youtu.be/acM_dMuBThc

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  3. Leo, I made massive typo mixing ‘horses’ and ‘donkeys’ a.m. and p.m….. But perhaps this is a serendipitous “typo” as it forces me to include the full text of Anne Sexton’s Poem “Flee On Your Donkey,” in which the first four opening lines feature a return at “midnight”:

    “Flee On Your Donkey” by Anne Sexton (1966)

    Because there was no other place
    to flee to,
    I came back to the scene of the disordered senses,
    came back last night at midnight,
    arriving in the thick June night
    without luggage or defenses,
    giving up my car keys and my cash,
    keeping only a pack of Salem cigarettes
    the way a child holds on to a toy.
    I signed myself in where a stranger
    puts the inked-in X’s—
    for this is a mental hospital,
    not a child’s game.

    Today an intern knocks my knees,
    testing for reflexes.
    Once I would have winked and begged for dope.
    Today I am terribly patient.
    Today crows play black-jack
    on the stethoscope.

    Everyone has left me
    except my muse,
    that good nurse.
    She stays in my hand,
    a mild white mouse.

    The curtains, lazy and delicate,
    billow and flutter and drop
    like the Victorian skirts
    of my two maiden aunts
    who kept an antique shop.

    Hornets have been sent.
    They cluster like floral arrangements on the screen.
    Hornets, dragging their thin stingers,
    hover outside, all knowing,
    hissing: the hornet knows.
    I heard it as a child
    but what was it that he meant?
    The hornet knows!
    What happened to Jack and Doc and Reggy?
    Who remembers what lurks in the heart of man?
    What did The Green Hornet mean, he knows?
    Or have I got it wrong?
    Is it The Shadow who had seen
    me from my bedside radio?

    Now it’s Dinn, Dinn, Dinn!
    while the ladies in the next room argue
    and pick their teeth.
    Upstairs a girl curls like a snail;
    in another room someone tries to eat a shoe;
    meanwhile an adolescent pads up and down
    the hall in his white tennis socks.
    A new doctor makes rounds
    advertising tranquilizers, insulin, or shock
    to the uninitiated.

    Six years of such small preoccupations!
    Six years of shuttling in and out of this place!
    O my hunger! My hunger!
    I could have gone around the world twice
    or had new children – all boys.
    It was a long trip with little days in it
    and no new places.

    In here,
    it’s the same old crowd,
    the same ruined scene.
    The alcoholic arrives with his gold clubs.
    The suicide arrives with extra pills sewn
    into the lining of her dress.
    The permanent guests have done nothing new.
    Their faces are still small
    like babies with jaundice.

    Meanwhile,
    they carried out my mother,
    wrapped like somebody’s doll, in sheets,
    bandaged her jaw and stuffed up her holes.
    My father, too. He went out on the rotten blood
    he used up on other women in the Middle West.
    He went out, a cured old alcoholic
    on crooked feet and useless hands.
    He went out calling for his father
    who died all by himself long ago –
    that fat banker who got locked up,
    his genes suspended like dollars,
    wrapped up in his secret,
    tied up securely in a straitjacket.

    But you, my doctor, my enthusiast,
    were better than Christ;
    you promised me another world
    to tell me who
    I was.

    I spent most of my time,
    a stranger,
    damned and in trance—that little hut,
    that naked blue-veined place,
    my eyes shut on the confusing office,
    eyes circling into my childhood,
    eyes newly cut.
    Years of hints
    strung out—a serialized case history—
    thirty-three years of the same dull incest
    that sustained us both.
    You, my bachelor analyst,
    who sat on Marlborough Street,
    sharing your office with your mother
    and giving up cigarettes each New Year,
    were the new God,
    the manager of the Gideon Bible.

    I was your third-grader
    with a blue star on my forehead.
    In trance I could be any age,
    voice, gesture—all turned backward
    like a drugstore clock.
    Awake, I memorized dreams.
    Dreams came into the ring
    like third string fighters,
    each one a bad bet
    who might win
    because there was no other.

    I stared at them,
    concentrating on the abyss
    the way one looks down into a rock quarry,
    uncountable miles down,
    my hands swinging down like hooks
    to pull dreams up out of their cage.
    O my hunger! My hunger!

    Once, outside your office,
    I collapsed in the old-fashioned swoon
    between the illegally parked cars.
    I threw myself down,
    pretending dead for eight hours.
    I thought I had died
    into a snowstorm.
    Above my head
    chains cracked along like teeth
    digging their way through the snowy street.
    I lay there
    like an overcoat
    that someone had thrown away.
    You carried me back in,
    awkwardly, tenderly,
    with help of the red-haired secretary
    who was built like a lifeguard.
    My shoes,
    I remember,
    were lost in the snowbank
    as if I planned never to walk again.

    That was the winter
    that my mother died,
    half mad on morphine,
    blown up, at last,
    like a pregnant pig.
    I was her dreamy evil eye.
    In fact,
    I carried a knife in my pocketbook—
    my husband’s good L. L. Bean hunting knife.
    I wasn’t sure if I should slash a tire
    or scrape the guts out of some dream.

    You taught me
    to believe in dreams;
    thus I was the dredger.
    I held them like an old woman with arthritic fingers,
    carefully straining the water out—
    sweet dark playthings,
    and above all, mysterious
    until they grew mournful and weak.
    O my hunger! My hunger!
    I was the one
    who opened the warm eyelid
    like a surgeon
    and brought forth young girls
    to grunt like fish.

    I told you,
    I said—
    but I was lying—
    that the knife was for my mother . . .
    and then I delivered her.

    The curtains flutter out
    and slump against the bars.
    They are my two thin ladies
    named Blanche and Rose.
    The grounds outside
    are pruned like an estate at Newport.
    Far off, in the field,
    something yellow grows.

    Was it last month or last year
    that the ambulance ran like a hearse
    with its siren blowing on suicide—
    Dinn, dinn, dinn!—
    a noon whistle that kept insisting on life
    all the way through the traffic lights?

    I have come back
    but disorder is not what it was.
    I have lost the trick of it!
    The innocence of it!
    That fellow-patient in his stovepipe hat
    with his fiery joke, his manic smile—
    even he seems blurred, small and pale.
    I have come back,
    recommitted,
    fastened to the wall like a bathroom plunger,
    held like a prisoner
    who was so poor
    he fell in love with jail.

    I stand at this old window
    complaining of the soup,
    examining the grounds,
    allowing myself the wasted life.
    Soon I will raise my face for a white flag,
    and when God enters the fort,
    I won’t spit or gag on his finger.
    I will eat it like a white flower.
    Is this the old trick, the wasting away,
    the skull that waits for its dose
    of electric power?

    This is madness
    but a kind of hunger.
    What good are my questions
    in this hierarchy of death
    where the earth and the stones go
    Dinn! Dinn! Dinn!
    It is hardly a feast.
    It is my stomach that makes me suffer.

    Turn, my hungers!
    For once make a deliberate decision.
    There are brains that rot here
    like black bananas.
    Hearts have grown as flat as dinner plates.

    Anne, Anne,
    flee on your donkey,
    flee this sad hotel,
    ride out on some hairy beast,
    gallop backward pressing
    your buttocks to his withers,
    sit to his clumsy gait somehow.
    Ride out
    any old way you please!
    In this place everyone talks to his own mouth.
    That’s what it means to be crazy.
    Those I loved best died of it—
    the fool’s disease.

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    1. Thank you, Catalina. It’s the first thing I’ve read today, apart from the news. I’ve found it in my “Mercies, Selected Poems” pp59-66, presaged by a quote from Rimbaud: Ma faim, Anne, Anne,/Fuis sur ton ane…
      (I’m too lazy to search for the circumflex on this Chromebook). Not only the longest but the best poem I’ve read all week; and I read several, every day. It’s like a short story, a long poem about the madness of a sadly truncated life. Unpacking all its meanings could keep scholars busy for decades. “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows…”Anne Sexton probably knew, too.

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  4. Kent, My husband Grant adores the Car Talk guys. He has maintained our two cars, each for over 25 years, until the state of CA paid us $1,200 to take the Honda off the streets. My son was gifted the Subaru wagon at 250K miles. He plans to drive it to at least 300K miles. Keep in mind that the average American buys a car every 6 years!!! So factor that in to how much you have saved.

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  5. Leo and John Beard: There are also “CUTIES” (trademarked) – a variety of two different mandarins, seedless and thin peeled. Sweet.

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