30 in 31: day 27: 5-7-5

I feel quite lazy. I wrote a haiku, and thought I'd write a few more, then changed my mind and dug up some from the past couple of years. So tonight's list is one new haiku and five old ones. I'm not saying they're good ones.

ice beneath bare feet
endless rain has dulled recall
winter springs a leak

Careworn vessel
crafted with purpose in mind
Yet seeks to be filled

Cloudless afternoon
Summer breeze meets Autumn light
Flowers in my tea

White shoes in summer
sipping iced tea on the lawn
time to play croquet

False compass reading
Magnetic inclination
looping endlessly

Biscotto my love
your crunchy almond goodness
makes me hum and sigh

All systems are go

Yeah, I'm not super good at the title thing. A sort of linear focus might enhance "readership" or whatever, but, whatever. The Birthday Countdown begins! And I am going to do something I enjoy now and then, share bits of thing I've written in the past. Actual serendipity has caused me to have indigo in my head lately. I keep running across references to it, and this bit of writing from 1997 appeared yesterday while I was searching for something else.

To think I was 32 years old then! I hadn't yet given birth to the Youngest Beauty! I marvel at this. Hmm, and that means I weighed only about 120 lbs, as well. Best not to dwell on that.

mood indigo, 1997
muted music floating up from the room below
dancing, swaying, tipsy together across this creaky floor,
and you, whispering tasty lies, nibbling my ear,
tellling me all those things every wide-eyed girl
in her best blue dress yearns to hear
The Sinatra recording is from In the Wee Small Hours, his first concept album, and it was just around that time I first heard it and...was kind of disappointed. Everyone told me it was so amazing, and I didn't really enjoy it very much. But last night I was listening to Nice and Easy, and thinking about how as I've gotten older, my Sinatra taste has changed and expanded. Now it occurs to me he was still alive then! Gosh.
There's always just been something very groovy about a man in his 40s; in command of who he is and what he enjoys about life, but lately, I'm growing more comfortable with the idea that a man in his 50s might still also be pretty all right.
Epicurus said, "It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life." Can any of us honestly apprehend and apply this philosophy without having first had "that mood indigo?" People try selfishly, but they leave parts of it out. Hopefully, they grow wiser with experience. I think we can continue to develop inner reflection while still (and more) fully appreciating and embracing our personal relationships.

Summer's End

All too briefly, the air was still, warm, a blanket of calm


Unlike Damocles, not given to flattery

yet a single hair bears the dagger twisting overhead 

revealing not the perils of power, but of Limbo

or the vain grasp for illusory freedom


Now the air is charged, cooling, crawling over my skin like

ants over a pool of spilled honey


It never was summer; it was a trick of the mind.


2012-09-17 11.50.51
2012-09-17 11.50.51
2012-09-17 11.50.51

attached to yesterday

an old favorite I dragged out of the writing closet this morning.

things i want to notice...

do you ever run your fingers up through your hair while you're thinking?
does your smile start at one corner and spread across                   
like the sun slowly revealed behind moving clouds,                    
or does it break open all of a sudden in a flash-flood grin?
do your eyes flash,                    
do you tilt your head to the side or throw it back                   
or tip it forward in shy laughter?
how do you grip a pen? i think i know;                    
i think you hold it close to the point and curl your hand around it,                   
anchoring it to the page.                    
i see quick little movements, 
controlled scribbling, conscious effort at all times. i'd like to see the way your shoulders shift up and back as you run, follow the contract-and-release rhythm of those well-defined hamstrings, and when you've exhausted yourself after a sprint, hands on knees, labored breathing, sweat dripping from your chin, ears, lower lip-- i'd like to taste the salt of your effort on my tongue.


liliales birthday countdown: 2005

This one is a bit of a cheat. I'm not sharing a blog link from this year only, because they were transferred here with a whole month on each page. You could go find them if you were compelled to. The picture links are broken, though. 

In 2005 our world changed a lot. It was awesome, then it was awful, then there was some awesomeness in the midst of the awfulness. Which was awful. Oh, and I turned 40. 

Here's me shoveling snow in early 2005: 


And here's all the poetry I got written that year, but also it was the first year I tried NaNoWriMo, so that was a neat thing. 

Sipping Gotham

New York Harbor
slice of lime

I walk differently on New York streets,
everything hums erotic vibrations 
through the soles of my feet. 

Carnival of Words

Looking at you in a funhouse mirror
It's shatter-proof, smear-proof
distorted nevertheless

On a carousel spinning,
Artificial breeze soothes
Ride over too soon.

Ferris Wheel stops at the top,
car rocks and I sway, 
unsteady and unnerved til you point out the view
It's wide and breath-taking
and I never want to come back down. 


Slave to your will, or mine?
I can lean back and close my eyes,
or grip your shoulders and draw a sharp path
straight through your pupils.

The shouts are all shut up in my head
and I do not force them out by throat and tongue,
rather with fingernails, teeth, taunting pressure
holding, locking you into position;

It's always at least a draw 
where the spoils are shared, exchanged,
given in love and taken by need—
like rain, or shelter from cold.

This is from the prologue of my first NaNoWriMo attempt. I say attempt because I can write 50k words in a month, but never seem to write a complete story...

I couldn't help myself. As she headed for the newsstand, I scribbled on the back of a receipt I found in my purse and then got up, walked past him quickly, dropping the receipt at his feet, and kept on going out of the park. My heart was racing, but I didn't look back.

The note said, "Meet me in front of Trump Tower in an hour." And he did.

He just walked right up to me and spoke, "She's visiting an old school friend, and we're getting back together for dinner at 7."

I said nothing, just pointed toward Central Park, smiled, and took off across the street, as he followed behind, jogging a little to keep up.

I had never before spoken to him in person, and just didn't know how to begin. It seemed so important to get the words exactly right, even if they were meaningless. So I remained silent until that began to feel absurd. We had a few hours, this one day out of forever, not to be wasted away on shyness.

"An eternity in one long breath. That's how the days seem right now. Like we're all exhaling, and when our lungs finally empty, and it's time for drawing in again, well."

I stopped, realizing I must sound a little crazy, speaking the truth hardly anyone dared voice aloud these days. That's me, from shy to overly vocal in one careless move.



liliales birthday countdown: 2003

From this point forward, a lot of my online presence is archived, and I thought it would be a good idea to share some thoughts I had each year. 2003 is the year I started keeping a blog. Before that I had a website on which I'd post ideas, pictures, lists of things that interested me, whatever I could think of. 

My first blog was homemade and very crude-looking. Over the years since then I've had them at Blogger, Vox, and TypePad, and I have several things going at Tumblr, but I've also got accounts at a few other places. You never know when you might need a new one. 

That year, I turned 38. I found a great deal of Bobby Darin music I'd never heard before, and downloaded it from Limewire. I feel no compunction about that. It wasn't as if this music was available for me to purchase. Me and Lars Ulrich, we'd have words if we ever met. I think that was also the year I discovered archive.org, which is still pretty much my favorite place on the web. I'm not linking, whatever. Go there if you never have, and find the Prelinger archives. Thank me later. 

I was not super well that year. The year before, I'd become ill and semi-bedridden for awhile, and was exposed to huge toxic amounts of mold. I developed asthma (the body sometimes gets confused about our need for defense mechanisms, eh?) and it's been a bother ever since. But in the summer of 2003, I was actually in terrific shape, and feeling pretty good about myself otherwise. In the autumn, I couldn't breathe again, and we prepared to move to a better house, a few miles farther inland. 

Here's the text of my first blog post. Please indulge me by reading it and the ones to follow in the other countdown posts. It was maybe more entertaining with photos, I dunno. The rest of these countdown posts will have photos, because they are archived back to 2004 on this particular computer. 

An indulgence for myself in this one instead; three poems I wrote in 2003:

Chokecherry Beach

mussel shells, tiny in my palm
born on waves, 
borne to shore on a blanket of foam,
born to live and to die
all in an instant.


cartographer's hands, once an abstract notion, 
merely pixels on a screen; 
unreal evidence of tangible form, 
now trace a complex route
through barriers named yet unspoken,
radiating a slow-burning energy
from within their hesitant source

he traces this path with his mind, his voice,
his carefully measured speech, and sears
a dark trail deep into my fevered skin.

humbert's reasons to drink

dedicated to Lola, the showgirl

stupid frigging nazis
poems don't rhyme
stopped changing lightbulbs
takes too much time
lights in train car
flicker off and on
she gave him her phone number
three weeks he's gone

left hand shakes so
i'm using the right
milk's gone sour
thirsty at night
that movie was absurd
blue alien moron freaks
i'd cut my own eyes out
but irony still speaks

it never seems to end
the cliche won't die
keeps finding new shelter
rabbits getting high
spewing Nietzsche, Tolkein, Plant
basement ruminations
they arrested Adam Ant
fashion indignations

winking at boys
inviting them in
they watch as i sip
pineapple juice and gin.


Eight years of blather

I wrote my first real blog post on January 17, 2003. I set up my own pages, linked to new ones every few entries, and at first asked for email replies. A few months later I got a tag board, and a few friends and I would leave each other messages on it. That was really fun. Actually, I'd started doing a sort of online journal the year before at LiveJournal, but never got into it the same way.

Today I was reading through old entries from 2003-2006, and feeling so incredibly old. I went from just using Dreamweaver to Blogger to Vox to here, and in between I had a photo blog at WordPress, and messed around with just about every other free blogging platform. I love my Tumblr page, though haven't been able to do much with it this month.

But I most miss my original pages. They weren't reproducible at Blogger, but became too cumbersome as the web changed and blogging changed, after the first year or two. So the words remain, but the cheery colors and design are gone forever.

None of that is the point. The point is that I've changed dreadfully. I'm such an old sad person compared to the seemingly eternally optimistic young person I was at 37 or 38. Even though life wasn't all that terrific then, it always seemed on the verge of breaking open and breaking free. But it never did. And so, it became more and more difficult to sustain the floating happy bubble that carried me through all the worries, changes, uncertainty. There's no bubble anymore. 

In some ways, I like myself better now. But the me of eight years ago wouldn't. It's a funny thing. 

That summer I posted a poem by Pushkin, just after I turned 38, which is the age he was when he died of a pointless duel wound. I'm going to repost it here, plus a completely different translation of it. I don't know the literary story behind the two translations. I very much prefer the former, in terms of poetry... 

Elegy, by Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin 1799-1837

Of my mad years the vanished mirth and laughter
Affect me like a fume-filled morning-after.
Not so past pain – like wine is it to me
That as the years go by gains potency.
Sad is the path before me: toil and sorrow
Lie on the restless seaways of the morrow.

And yet from thought of death, my friends, I shrink;
I want to live – to suffer and to think,
And amid care and grief and tribulation,
Taste of sweet rapture and exhilaration;
Be drunk with harmony; touch fancy's strings
And freely weep o'er its imaginings…
And love's last flash, its smile of farewell tender
My sad decline may yet less mournful render. 1830


    The vanished joy of my crazy years
Is as heavy as gloomy hang-over.
But, like wine, the sorrow of past days
Is stronger with time.
My path is sad. The waving sea of the future
Promises me only toil and sorrow.

    But, O my friends, I do not wish to die,
I want to live – to think and suffer.
I know, I’ll have some pleasures
Among woes, cares and troubles.
Sometimes I’ll be drunk with harmony again,
Or will weep over my visions,
And it’s possible, at my sorrowful decline,
Love will flash with a parting smile.

But the latter suits my nature a bit better just at the moment. 

Perhaps this does as well, but that's no different than before...


Still, the rest of me remains about as shallow as ever. Joe Cotten looked really swell in his naval uniform in Since You Went Away, which was on TV earlier, and which I never miss.


A brief and very silly conversation on Twitter brought this poem to mind. As it happens, I was thinking that the expression, "la petite mort" is less apt for me personally than something like "enivré de l'amour." A really good parallel example if you can be natural and sensible and not easily offended, is the look on a baby's face just after he's finished nursing at his mother's breast. I've seen that exact look on a grown man's face. 

The translation is not my own; I'm thinking of working it over slightly, just for fun. But this is my favorite published one, from an old novel, name of which I do not recollect at the moment. It's not as literal as some translations, and therefore captures the original sentiment better.

(a. I'm still following along here, I promise and b. going to post some more silly lists later and this week.)

Be always drunken. 

Nothing else matters: 

that is the only question. 

If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time

weighing on your shoulders 

and crushing you to the earth, 

be drunken continually.

Drunken with what? 

With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will. 

But be drunken.

And if sometimes, 

on the stairs of a palace, 

or on the green side of a ditch, 

or in the dreary solitude of your own room, 

you should awaken 

and the drunkenness be half or wholly slipped

away from you, 

ask of the wind, 

or of the wave, 

or of the star,

or of the bird, 

or of the clock, 

or whatever flies, 

or sighs, 



or sings, 

or speaks, 

ask what hour it is; 

and the wind,





will answer you: 

"It is the hour to be drunken! 

Be drunken, 

if you would not be martyred slaves of Time; 

be drunken continually! 

With wine, with poetry, or with

virtue, as you will."


Il faut 'tre toujours ivre.

Tout est l':

c'est l'unique question.

Pour ne pas sentir

l'horrible fardeau du Temps

qui brise vos 'paules

et vous penche vers la terre,

il faut vous enivrer sans tr've.

Mais de quoi?

De vin, de po'sie, ou de vertu, ' votre guise.

Mais enivrez-vous.

Et si quelquefois,

sur les marches d'un palais,

sur l'herbe verte d'un foss',

dans la solitude morne de votre chambre,

vous vous r'veillez,

l'ivresse d'j' diminu'e ou disparue,

demandez au vent,

' la vague,

' l'toile,

' l'oiseau,

' l'horloge,

' tout ce qui fuit,

' tout ce qui g'mit,

' tout ce qui roule,

' tout ce qui chante,

' tout ce qui parle,

demandez quelle heure il est;

et le vent,

la vague,




vous r'pondront:

"Il est l'heure de s'enivrer!

Pour n're pas les esclaves martyriss du Temps,


enivrez-vous sans cesse!

De vin, de po'sie ou de vertu, ' votre guise."

Charles Baudelaire

QotD: Reminiscing about the Internet

Do you remember the things you did when you first started using the Web and how it has changed your life?

Sponsored by Yahoo!

The things I first did on the web did change my life, mostly for the better. I only used it now and then from about 1993 to 1996, when we got our first home computer and a sponsored CompuServe account. That's when I became merbelle, a name I kept and used for all internet dealings until Yahoo literally screwed it up. But that's another story. 

I joined two forums at first, a poetry forum, and one that talked about old music. The music one, populated with radio djs and music collectors, taught me so much. First, it was encouraging that the people I spoke with online were just people; I never had any of that fear people developed about how the web was full of evil or whatever. And the people of that forum, mostly men, were kind and generous with their time and knowledge. I owe a great deal of my current music interest and rediscovery of good old music to them. I hope that they enjoyed speaking with me as well, though I did not have as much to contribute. 

The poetry forum, I owe so much to that! I still talk with a couple of those people now and then, and peer into the forum they started elsewhere when CompuServe began to change. 

The man joined it first. And at the time I thought he was more literary than me, and talented in a way that I was not, so I was afraid to join in. (There were other reasons, but not relevant to this post.) I wanted to share a poem I'd written, though, with people who might tell me whether it was interesting and worth continuing effort in the medium. 

This is that poem. Okay, it's not actually a poem, and I knew it then, but I also knew it had poetic devices, and wanted to learn more about that kind of writing. 

if you teach a man to fish, 

when will arthritis prevent him from reeling in a catch?

you never cut your hands slicing potatoes, but the slices are thick and uneven 

and some of them fry up brown and crisp while others still seem cold in the middle.

you’re so thin i could rock you as easily as i rock my own children, 

but you’d never admit you need my touch just as you’d never let me buy you some fish as long as you can still cast your rusty hook into the water.

you don’t think i know that you eat those potatoes with nothing but store-brand cola to wash them down because it’s cheaper than coffee and you have no bait for that rusty hook of yours.

you proudly display that laminated name badge pocket protector wherever you go. 

but it’s yellow with age, and your once stiff canvas shirt is soft and rumpled; worn through at the elbows.

your myopic eyes, large and faded through those thick goggle-like spectacles, 

sort out the change for the generic antacid that food stamps won’t provide for.

i imagine you carefully wiping your dish dry after your meal, 

and i think of calling my dad.

So I dove in and shared it. You had to do it in just the right way; there were sections for people with a lot of experience and knowledge about poetry, and others for chatter, and some for just sharing poetry you didn't want feedback on, and of course there were developing rules for giving and receiving praise, etc. 

It went over well, I mean, of course it isn't very good, but it does have a sense of balance to it, and it's kind of touching. A couple of the experts were kind, and told me what they thought was worthwhile about it. So that encouraged me to write more, and get to know the people, make some friends, watch so much romantic drama being played out onscreen, which sometimes fueled more writing, etc. There were three men there I'll never forget, all wonderfully talented, all British, though two of them lived in other parts of the world. They each taught me something about how to read and write poetry, and occasionally took a personal interest in my efforts. 

There was another man I met there with whom I had an ongoing online and occasional phone call friendship from that time nearly to this, though we haven't spoken now in over a year. I will always remember him with more fondness than most other people I've ever known. 

Most of the women seemed kind of like they were on the make. And there was less talent among them. I do not believe this is because women are less talented at poetry, merely that the ones in that area were probably less focused on it. So I didn't really connect with any of them. But I learned to take poetry seriously, and learned so much about myself and my talents, how to develop different styles of writing and communication, and how to engage people for conversation. 

I wrote a sonnet to share there, my first one, that I was just so proud of, and now it is lost somewhere in the ether of the web. I don't know why it's not saved in my poetry files with all the others. But wow, realizing that I could write one gave me a real sense of power that I've never forgotten, and that I do try to remember to apply to my ongoing efforts. 

I was 31 when I began using the web to learn about writing and other subjects, and to make friends. Thinking about it that way, it seems like a lifetime ago. These past 13 years have been filled with a great deal of extraordinary pain that is still not resolved. But I have an awful lot of fond memories mixed in with all that, and I can thank access to the web for many of them.