Finished the novel (May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes) this morning after sleeping late. I could hear T up in the living room, playing a video game (Bloodborne) and muttering at the screen (he generally gets frustrated at “stupid” situations, i.e., trying to kill a boss that kills his avatar in one blow). I had a headache and my knee was throbbing, so I got up to take two Aleve and then just crawled back into bed to finish the last 20 pages of the book, which I’ve been picking up and putting down since May.
One passage that I marked by folding the page corner. The protagonist is worrying about a girl who has gone missing and conflating these emotions with his own guilt at the murder of his brother’s wife, with whom he was having an affair:
A cop car crawls through the parking lot. In the distance, I spot a school crossing guard working the intersection. She uses her body, her orange vest, her meter-reader hat like the elements of a human shield, spreading her arms wide as she blocks the crosswalk; the children spill forth, truly oblivious.
I keep thinking about the missing girl. I’m not sure why, buy I feel guilty, like I’m somehow a participant. It’s not a sensation I’ve had before—but this one crawls under my skin. Because of the woman I met at the A&P, because of Ashley, because of Jane, because I am now more awake than ever before, because I can’t stop thinking . . . .
There is a world out there, so new, so random and disassociated that it puts us all in danger. We talk online, we “friend” each other when we don’t know who we are really talking to—we fuck strangers. We mistake almost anything for a relationship, a community of sorts, and yet, when we are with our families, in our communities, we are clueless, we short-circuit and immediately dive back into the digitized version—it is easier, because we can be both our truer selves and our fantasy selves all at once, with each carrying equal weight.
T is at work and I have spent the bulk of my afternoon typesetting Diane LeBlanc’s chapbook. I need to e-mail Paul Bilger, whose artwork I want to use for the three Robin Becker chapbooks coming out this summer, even though I’ve only heard back from one of the three authors re: my proposal to use Paul’s abstract images and thus tie all three titles together in a subtle thematic way, since this is the first year I’ve ever published three titles in that series.
For now, lunch. And I need to pick up groceries for dinner. But I’m taking a book and my journal, in case something comes to me to write.
Discordia |how it’s still suspended
Thinking about the poem I started years ago about driving to Mom & Dad’s from Indiana, touching the tiger eye beads that R had strung for me hanging from the rearview, repeating phrases of gratitude, and how the poem could never find its ending, how it’s still suspended, the poem, the driving, the memory that felt like a vehicle that might deliver a kind of understanding, and then it’s 1995 and I’m driving fast as I dare on the freeway in Houston, circling the city and watching a storm flashing over the ship channel, glancing quickly at other drivers as I pass, wanting to hurtle into some place beyond this fear, and it’s 2015 and I’m driving home in the rain after a long day of mounting dread like sand in my teeth, in my throat, and I’m waiting in the car across from the house because I know that it’s already too late to change whatever I will find inside—
Among the books I’m currently reading is Ruth Stone’s In the Next Galaxy. I love her work: so direct, so attentive and attuned to memory and the smallest triggering (as Richard Hugo used the term) images. As usual, I find myself scribbling lines into my journal:
the ripple of time warped by our longing “Spring Beauties”)
No one would suppose/ that the house is going out with the tide (“Rising”)
these hours/ that keep me as an ornament (“Useless Words”)
It’s evening. I get distracted by the light in the walnut trees behind our apartment, as the shadow of the building creeps upward and the leaves, always in motion (traffic just beyond), sip up that gold-then-copper light as if they’re not ready to quit drinking it in, last call too soon.
On my work table: a stack of page sets to be folded then pressed. The Summer Kitchen Series is about to come out next month, and I’m typesetting the last two chapbooks this week. The day job consisted of a nine-hour shift, but in this moment, it’s all good.
the summer crazies
So these are the days I am being pulled inextricably into the event horizon of Back to School Season, or as I like to think of it, the Summer Crazies. Six-day workweeks, barely time to kiss my hubby as we come and go on our respective shifts, heightened anxiety about all the (amazing!) chapbooks I am sooooo close to dropping on the devoted readers of Seven Kitchens Press. To be clear, the anxiety is about time: the chapbooks themselves are going to be awesome.
Picked up three books from the library this week (I read in the car these days, or in bed before falling asleep): Betsy Andrews’ The Bottom, Catherine Barnett’s The Game of Boxes, and Rane Arroyo’s The Buried Sea–which I’ve read before and thought I had a copy of, but wanted to revisit as Dan and I read through the finalists for the Rane Arroyo Chapbook Series.
I don’t think I’ve publicly thanked Dan Vera for coming aboard as co-editor of this series. I’m thrilled to be working with such a talented poet and artist. No matter how rough-and-tumble the day job gets, I think of the press as an amazing family of poets and breathe more deeply with gratitude that my life is more than selling cheap office supplies to strangers.