"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Torturer's Horse Scratches It's Innocent Behind


The torturer’s horse scratches it’s innocent behind on a tree….The old masters: how well they understood the human position: how it takes place when someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along.


On this fine cool morning, all is still. Even the birds are quiet and a low-lying fog blankets the downward slope of the farm and drifts across the pond and through the trees. It feels like a Thoreau morning, and I wonder at all he saw and felt. I think of all those who came before and all they knew and wish I could offer one of them a cup of coffee and a seat on my porch as I put on my own horrible sneakers.

These are some of my favorite lines from literary masters of old. Can you guess who they are?

1. "About suffering, they were never wrong."
2. "Tell the truth, but tell it slant."
3. "A novel is a mirror walking along a main road."
4. "A book is a mirror: if an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out.”
5. "A writer’s material is what he cares about."
6. "Literature thrives on taboos.”
7. "Any fool can make a rule and every fool will mind it."
8.  "It's not wise to violate the rules until you know how to observe them.”
9. "No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.”
10. "I've led a good rich sexual life and I don’t see why it should be left out.”
11. "I was following in the exquisite footsteps of Miss Edna St. Vincent Millay, unhappily in  my
       own horrible sneakers."


So write of taboos-leave nothing out- and be wary of who you show your drafts to. Balance on a limb and fabricate. Observe the world carefully and don’t be afraid to write what you are passionate about. Hang a piece of art, arrange a bouquet, and write a sentence that fills a page. Be prepared to suffer.


1. Auden
2. Dickinson
3. Stendhal
4. Lichtenberg
5. Gardner
6. Burgess
7. Thoreau
8. Eliot
9. Wells
10. Miller
11. Parker



The opening quote is from Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts




Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Summer Solstice Post That Wasn't


Summer Solstice came and went
like June bugs and fireflies
and the candle that was lit
and left on the porch.
Like the string of ash from an incense stick
that dangles in the morning light,
spent. 

In the still of the shade
a hummingbird flits
in search of the feeder that isn’t there.
The fuchsia is hung amongst long-throated flowers
but it searches for sugar water
with red number nine.
The longest-day sun slipped out of sight
like a moth in the wind and the days we were young.


Today we transplant strawberries and watch for rain. The skies are overcast and the temperatures cool. Weed the beets. Weed, weed, weed. The weeds don’t need rain and they are not bothered by pests. They’re like unnecessary adverbs and overused adjectives, like the scene that should be deleted; the finished product cleaner for the whack. Then there’s the quack grass. It’s like a run-on sentence. It runs on and on, from one end of the garden to the other, like a person with words  but no deeds.

In a weird way, I admire my weeds. I’ve learned to accept that there will always be weeds in a huge organic garden, unlike the small weed-free garden I had when I was young. I see that garden in my mind’s eye, the path to the perfect, slender cucumber warmed by the sun. I peeled it over the sink with firm long strokes. I enjoyed the day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mind Your Agent Research

I love blogging. I LOVE writing. I miss by bloggy buddies. I have not been a good blog buddy of late. We have a huge (one acre)  garden and it is a main source of income in the summer. Actually, I love winter too because it's writing time but there isn't much money coming in, so we have to really double down in the summer. What's my point? I just want you all to know that I peek in on you when I can and if I don't comment, don't assume I wasn't there.

I feel guilty even taking the time to write this itty bitty post because I should be weeding the chard, squash (I saw my first baby zucchini yesterday!) the lettuce and beets. Then it's building-a-trellis-time for the tomatoes. And mind the soaker hoses. We've been a  month without rain, so we must mind the soaker hoses.

For those of you in the agent research phase of your work, there is a great post by Jemi Fraser over at The Write Angle.

Have a great week!

p.s. I'm planning a special post for Summer Solstice. Hopefully it'll happen, unlike the Summer Solstice party I've always wanted to throw.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Heifer In Heat


I was carefully pulling out small weeds from around smaller Swiss chard seedlings when suddenly the electric fence behind me that encircles the pasture dropped to the ground. Startled, I got to my feet in time to see an edgy heifer race through the asparagus bed and up the driveway. The nervous animal had been pacing the fence all morning, but I didn’t think much of it, until the fence dropped behind my back.
 
With the fence on the ground behind me I was all attention. You see the pasture also houses a bull. A barrel-chested, black as midnight, thousand-pound bull who growls like a bear when he’s coming for the watering trough, like this better be full or someone’s gonna be sorry.

I quickly cased the field to locate the bull. Thank God…he was way over on the other side. Dad says the heifer is in heat. I guess the bull didn’t know it yet, grazing at the other end of the fifty-acre field under a fence row of shade trees. Someone suggested she was looking for her man. I surmised she was trying to get away from him.  

My sister and I herded her into the barnyard and my husband repaired the fence before the bull could take advantage of the break and ruin my day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Silent Morning

The baby robin is dead.
Its red breast and open beak
lie sullied in the dirt under the nest.

We could surmise a reach too far
over the rim
of the woven grass.
Or blame the wind—
the gust that took my hat and toppled
a robust jade like a plastic cup
could surely fling a fledgling from a shallow nest.

We shall not blame the mother who did nothing
for three weeks but fuss over the baby
and protect the yard from the cock and the crow.
Who sat on the nest and brought food
to the yawning beak
and filled the mornings with song
and industrious labor
for naught.