Thursday, February 28, 2019

February 28: Gargle Howl, Out of Sight, Garlic Aioli

A message from the commander of the Vogon constructor ship . . .

Howl howl gargle howl gargle howl howl howl gargle howl gargle howl howl gargle gargle howl gargle gargle gargle howl slurrp uuuurgh should have a good time.  Message repeats.  This is your captain speaking, so stop whatever you're doing and pay attention.  First of all I see from our instruments that we have a couple of hitchhikers aboard.  Hello, wherever you are.  I just want to make it totally clear that you are not at all welcome.  I worked hard to get where I am today, and I didn't become captain of a Vogon constructor ship simply so I could turn it into a taxi service for a load of degenerate freeloaders.  I have sent out a search party, and as soon as they find you I will put you off the ship.  If you're very lucky I might read you some of my poetry first.

"Secondly, we are about to jump into hyperspace for a journey to Barnard's Star.  On arrival we will stay in dock for a seventy-two-hour refit, and no one's to leave the ship during that time.  I repeat, all planet leave is canceled.  I've just had an unhappy love affair, so I don't see why anybody else should have a good time.  Message ends."

An unhappy love affair for the Vogon captain.  Therefore, he wants nobody else to experience happiness.  I get that.  I'd bet that most of my disciples are getting tired of hearing about the closure of the surgery center where I work.  Er, used to work.  I know that these last few posts have been more than a little sad.  Never fear.  After today, I will no longer be at the surgery center.   I will be stationed at the main hospital, checking in patients.  That doesn't mean that I'll be happier.  It means I will be removed from the primary source of my unhappiness.  As the saying goes:  out of sight, out of mind.

Okay, I'm lying there.  The place is not going to be out of my mind for quite some time.  Can't quite scrub close to 20 years of life from my thoughts that easily.  In fact, in my new office digs, I'm still surrounded by objects and equipment for my old office, including the name plate from the wall (which I've placed on my office door) and my Christmas frog (which will sit prominently on my desk).  I have about six weeks of surgery center work left before it goes away forever.

This morning, I walked through the place, turning off lights, opening and closing drawers, like I do at the end of a vacation when I'm checking to make sure I haven't left any underwear or socks in the hotel room.  Of course, I've opened and closed those drawers about 50 times in the last few days.  It was just my way of holding on.  I walked out the door for the final time with an armload of belongings--a three-pound bag of M&Ms (half-eaten), some printer paper, my lunchbox, and a few coffee mugs.

I spent the rest of the day settling into my new space.  Unpacking boxes.  Testing computers and printers.  Answering phone calls.  E-mailing work tickets to get things fixed.  Watching my coworkers try to adjust to our new environment.  I was sort of lucky.  All my work will be in one place.  I have a refrigerator and microwave.  My own desk.  There's a bathroom right around the corner.  I'm all set.

The rest of the employees from the surgery center are having a harder time, I think.  They are spread over two or three different floors.  Their processes are going to be vastly different.  And, due to the 20-day time frame we were given for this whole closure process, nothing was really prepared for us at the main hospital.  No computers.  No phone lines.  No fax numbers.  No patient spaces.  No operating/procedure room.  The I. T. guy who was working on my computer and printer said at one point today, "You really should have given us about a three-month warning."  Hmmmmmm.

Well, after a long, unsettled day, I went out for drinks and food with some good friends.  We hit two different drinking establishments--one for happy hour ($3 beers), the other for the best French fries in the world with garlic aioli so good it would make an atheist believe in God.  We laughed and bitched and got a little sad and then laughed again.  It was a really perfect way to end a not-so-perfect day.


I am sad tonight, but I've had three drinks to combat that sadness.  It's muted.  Plus, the garlic aioli was a good aloe for my broken heart.  I'm not saying alcohol and fried potatoes are great coping mechanisms, but they certainly lifted my spirits.



Maybe Saint Marty is a little drunk.


February 28: Saying Goodbye, Tomas Tranströmer, "Elegy"

Saying goodbye is not easy.  Ever.  Especially if it's a permanent goodbye.

Yet, there are people who can lighten the goodbye.  Remind you of better, happier times.

Tonight, Saint Marty was blessed with such friends.

Elegy

by:  Tomas Tranströmer

I open the first door.
It is a large sunlit room.
A heavy car passes outside
and makes the china quiver.

I open door number two.
Friends!  You drank some darkness
and became visible.

Door number three.  A narrow hotel room,
View on an alley.
One lamppost shines on the asphalt.
Experience, its beautiful slag.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

February 27: Small Yellow Fish, Moving Day, Echoes

Ford Prefect just instructed Arthur Dent to put a fish in his ear . . .

Ford was holding up a small glass jar which quite clearly had a small yellow fish wriggling around in it.  Arthur blinked at him.  He wished there was something simple and recognizable he could grasp hold of.  He would have felt safe if alongside the Dentrassis' underwear, the piles of Sqornshellous mattresses and the man from Betelgeuse holding up a small yellow fish and offering to put it in his ear he had been able to see just a small packet of cornflakes.  But he couldn't, and he didn't feel safe.

Suddenly a violent noise leaped at them from no source that he could identify.  He gasped in terror at what sounded like a man trying to gargle while fighting off a pack of wolves.

"Shush!" said Ford.  "Listen, it might be important."

"Im . . . important?"

"It's the Vogon captain making an announcement on the tannoy."

"You mean that's how Vogons talk?"

"Listen!"

"But I can't speak Vogon!"

"You don't need to.  Just put this fish in your ear."

Ford, with a lightning movement, clapped his hand to Arthur's ear, and he had the sudden sickening sensation of the fish slithering deep into his aural tract.  Gasping with horror he scrabbled at his ear for a second or so, but then slowly turned goggle-eyed with wonder.  He was experiencing the aural equivalent of looking at a picture of two black silhouetted faces and suddenly seeing it as a picture of a white candlestick.  Or of looking at a lot of colored dots on a piece of paper which suddenly resolve themselves into the figure six and mean that your optician is going to charge you a lot of money for a new pair of glasses.

He was still listening to the howling gargles, he knew that, only now it had somehow taken on the semblance of perfectly straightforward English.

This is what he heard . . .

I haven't experienced a whole lot of yellow fish moments like Arthur does here.  Moments where something out-of-focus becomes clear.  Confusion becomes meaning.  The process for me is more complicated and involves struggle, breakthroughs, more struggle, and then surrender.  Like taking a class in philosophy or calculus.

Today was moving day at the medical office.  The moving guys showed up around 8 a.m., and everything began to disappear.  Desks, beds, equipment, toilet paper, dishwasher detergent.  Over twenty years' worth of stuff.  I sort of walked around, taped boxes, labeled boxes, took pictures, said goodbye.  Like I said, over two decades worth of living.

As the morning wore on, I noticed it becoming more and more difficult for me to laugh or joke or even have a conversation.  By the time I left, I was practically nonverbal.  Still not feeling very friendly.  I sat for most of the afternoon in my new "office," surrounded by boxes and more boxes.  I'm sure anyone walking by the door thought I was some kind of homeless Mr. Rogers, looking for some new neighbors.  If only I had worn my cardigan.

As you can tell by the pictures, the old medical office is looking pretty empty.  By tomorrow, everything will be gone, and all that will be left is echoes.  Tomorrow morning, I will show up there at my normal time, take one final walk through the place.  Look at the pinholes in the wall where I hung up Christmas and Halloween decorations.  Gaze at empty bulletin boards, where the outlines of old announcements are still visible in the cork.  Stand in my sister's office, and try to hear her voice there one more time--the ghost of a laugh, whisper of a name.  Sound my barbaric yawp in the empty operating room, just to hear it bounce off the walls and down the hallway.  Remember and celebrate.

One special memory:  My wife and son had just been released from the hospital after my son's birth.  We stopped by the medical office to see my sister and introduce her new nephew.  We walked through the door with the bassinet.  My sister swooped in, grabbed my son, and we didn't see him for over an hour.  She held him, talked to him, changed his diaper, fed him.  Glowing.  She was glowing.

Saint Marty is trying to let go.  Really, he is.

February 27: Long Long Day, Maya Angelou, "When You Come"

It has been a long, long day.

Tomorrow's going to be another long, long day.

Saint Marty is ready for a long, long sleep.  Maybe after long, long drink, too.

When You Come

by:  Maya Angelou

When you come to me, unbidden,
Beckoning me
To long-ago rooms
Where memories lie.

Offering me, as to a child, an attic.
Gatherings of days too few.
Baubles of stolen kisses.
Trinkets of borrowed loves.
Trunks of secret words,

I CRY.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

February 26: Don't Panic, Low-Grade Panic, Toast

Arthur Dent is trying to determine how Ford Prefect got "stuck" on Earth for fifteen years . . .

"But how did you get there in the first place then?"

"Easy.  I got a lift with a teaser."

"A teaser?"

"Yeah."

"Er, what is . . ."

"A teaser?  Teasers are usually rich kids with nothing to do.  They cruise around looking for planets that haven't made interstellar contact yet and buzz them."

"Buzz them?"  Arthur began to feel that Ford was enjoying making life difficult for him.

"Yeah," said Ford, "they buzz them.  They find some isolated spot with very few people around, then land right by some poor unsuspecting soul whom no one's ever going to believe and then strut up and down in front of him wearing silly antennas on their head and making beep beep noises.  Rather childish really."  Ford leaned back on the mattress with his hands behind his head and looking infuriatingly pleased with himself.  

"Ford," insisted Arthur, "I don't know if this sounds like a silly question, but what am I doing here?"

"Well, you know that," said Ford.  "I rescued you from the Earth."

"And what's happened to the Earth?"

"Ah, it's been demolished."

"Has it," said Arthur levelly.

"Yes.  It just boiled away into space."

"Look," said Arthur.  "I'm a bit upset about that."

Ford frowned to himself and seemed to roll the thought around his mind.

"Yes.  I can understand that," he said at last.

"Understand that!" shouted Arthur.  "Understand that!"

Ford sprang up.

"Keep looking at the book!" he hissed urgently.

"What?"

"Don't Panic."

"I'm not panicking!"

"Yes, you are."

"All right, so I'm panicking, what else is there to do?"

"You just come along with me and have a good time.  The Galaxy's a fun place.  You'll need to have this fish in your ear."

"I beg your pardon?" asked Arthur, rather politely he thought.

I understand Arthur Dent's need for panic.  His whole life has suddenly changed.  His home planet is gone.  He's just realized that there really are green men from outer space.  His only lifeline is a friend who has turned out to be an interstellar travel writer.  I'd be panicking, too.

However, I tend to panic a lot.  For instance, this morning, I panicked when I looked at my alarm clock and realized that I had a half hour more to sleep.  Most people would be happy at this discovery.  Me?  I lay in bed, mind racing, thinking of everything that I had to do today.  I didn't go back to sleep.

Then, I panicked when I got to the medical office and saw all the boxes that were packed or still needed to be packed.  You may not believe what I'm about to tell you:  I'm kind of neurotic about everything being neat and orderly.  I pride myself on that at work.  For the last two weeks, nothing has been neat and orderly, and it makes me very, very anxious.

Throughout the day, I suffered from a low-grade panic.  It just sort of simmered beneath the surface all morning and afternoon as I tossed and discarded items and witnessed the office becoming more and more undone.  I think I hid my unease and sadness well, though.  Only once did I have to step away to regain control of my feelings.

One of the bright spots of the day--a late lunch date with one of my best friends.  We talked poetry, laughed, ate, talked more poetry, and drank beer.  It was the perfect antidote for a day of demolition.  I left the restaurant much calmer and more centered.  She truly was a godsend this afternoon.

And now, I'm panicking again.  Yesterday, my television simply decided to stop working.  I'm not sure what's wrong with it, but I have a sinking feeling that it is toast.  Burned toast . . .

And my friend, Seamus, just came over to check out my TV.  He kind of works with electronics for a living.  He fiddled with remotes.  Looked stuff up on his iPhone.  Pushed some buttons.  Then he gave me his expert opinion:  "Yeah, it's toast."  Panic.

Tomorrow afternoon, you will be able to find my at Walmart, wandering through the electronics section, looking for the biggest television I can find for the cheapest price.  I'll be the guy with a panicked look on his face, muttering, "Can I get a poet discount?"

It's only Tuesday, and Saint Marty is already done for the week.

February 26: In My Marrow, Tomas Tranströmer, "The Nightingale in Badelunda"

It has been quite the day.  For the past couple weeks, every night, I come home, exhausted in my marrow.  The poem below, for some reason, comforts me.  The nightingale visiting the imprisoned and afflicted.

Saint Marty needs a very long nap.  And maybe a beer.

The Nightingale in Badelunda

by:  Tomas Tranströmer

In the green midnight at the nightingale's northern limit.  Heavy leaves hang in trance, the deaf cars race towards the neon-line.  The nightingale's voice rises without wavering to the side, it is as penetrating as a cock-crow, but beautiful and free of vanity.  I was in prison and it visited me.  I was sick and it visited me.  I didn't notice it then, but I do now.  Time streams down from the sun and the moon and into all the tick-tock-thankful clocks.  But right here there is no time.  Only the nightingale's voice, the raw resonant notes that whet the night sky's gleaming scythe.


Monday, February 25, 2019

February 25: Stuck for Fifteen Years, Sidetracked by Healthcare, Hitchhike Across the Galaxy

And now a little exposition from Ford Prefect . . .

"What a strange book.  How did we get a lift then?"

"That's the point, it's out of date now," said Ford, sliding the book back into its cover.  "I'm doing the field research for the new revised edition, and one of the things I'll have to do is include a bit about how the Vogons now employ Dentrassi cooks, which gives us a rather useful little loophole."

A pained expression crossed Arthur's face.  "But who are the Dentrassis?" he said.

"Great guys," said Ford.  "They're the best cooks and the best drink mixers and they don't give a wet slap about anything else.  And they'll always help hitchhikers aboard, partly because they like the company, but mostly because it annoys the Vogons.  Which is exactly the sort of thing you need to know if you're an impoverished hitchhiker trying to see the marvels of the Universe for less than thirty Altairian dollars a day.  And that's my job.  Fun, isn't it?"

Arthur looked lost.

"It's amazing," he said, and frowned at one of the other mattresses.

"Unfortunately, I got stuck on the Earth for rather longer than I intended," said Ford.  "I came for a week and got stuck for fifteen years."

Ford Prefect is doing a job--he's a field researcher for the new edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  That's sort of like being a contributor to Birnbaum's Guide to Walt Disney World and getting stuck on Space Mountain for three weeks.  Ford got a little distracted, it seems.

You know, when I took the job at the outpatient surgery center over 20 years ago, it was supposed to be a temporary gig.  I was a graduate student in the MFA program at the university, and I was just trying to earn a little extra income to supplement the stipend I received from the English Department.  I never intended to make a career in the healthcare field.

Yet, here I sit, over two decades later, knowing more about surgery and cardiology and CPT and ICD 10 codes than any poet writing today.  In fact, I've gotten really good at what I do.  Like Ford, I got sidetracked.  For a really long time.

I say this now to remind myself that there was a time when working in healthcare was not even on my life radar.  I was going to be a writer and college professor.  That was the plan.  Then my wife and I started a family.  Mental illness occurred, with its accompanying complications.  Twenty years later, here I sit at my laptop, scraping out a living as a healthcare worker and contingent English professor.

I'm not complaining.  This is the life that I have chosen, and I have been, for the most part, very happy.  For me, family was more important than academia.  Some people might not understand that.  Yes, I would love to have a tenured, full-time teaching gig at a university.  But, if it's between watching my daughter or son at a dance recital versus delivering a keynote address at Cambridge, I'll be front row center, cheering my kids on.

I'm dealing with change at the moment.  The Vogons have shown up and demolished my little planet that I've been living on for the past 20 or so years.  It was a planet that I had no intention of living on.  It was, simply, supposed to be a rest stop.  Now, I must move on, take care of myself and my family, find another starship to hitchhike across the Galaxy on.

Saint Marty has his thumb out.


February 25: Good to Me, Tomas Transtromer, "Kyrie"

The Lord has been good to me.  Has blessed me, blesses me, every day.  With the sound of my son laughing in the living room.  My wife eating toast with grape jam in the kitchen.  My daughter bending her head down so I can kiss her before she goes to bed at night.

These are all moments of grace.  I go through my days rarely recognizing them.  Too wrapped up in worry and doubt.

Tonight, Saint Marty is full of thankfulness.

Kyrie

by:  Tomas Transtrőmer

Sometimes my life opened its eyes in the dark.
A feeling as if crowds drew through the streets
in blindness and anxiety on the way towards a miracle,
while I invisibly remain standing.

As the child falls asleep in terror
listening to the heart's heavy tread.
Slowly, slowly until morning puts its rays in the locks,
and the doors of darkness open.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

February 24: Bugblatter Beast of Traal, Blizzard Warning, Oscar Night

Arthur is learning about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

"I'll show you how it works," said Ford.  He snatched it from Arthur, who was still holding it as if it were a two-week dead lark, and pulled it out of the cover.

"You press this button here, you see, and the screen lights up, giving you the index."

A screen, about three inches by four, lit up and characters began to flicker across the surface.

"You want to know about Vogons, so I entered that name so."  His fingers tapped some more keys.  "And there we are."  

The words Vogon Constructor Fleets flared in green across the screen.

Ford pressed a large red button at the bottom of the screen and words began to undulate across it.  At the same time, the book began to speak the entry as well in a still, quiet, measured voice.  This is what the book said:

"Vogon Constructor Fleets.  Here is what to do if you want to get a lift from a Vogon:  forget it.  They are one of the most unpleasant races in the Galaxy--not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous.  They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled for firelighters.

"The best way to get a drink out of a Vogon is to stick your finger down his throat, and the best way to irritate him is to feed his grandmother to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

"On no account allow a Vogon to read poetry at you."

Arthur blinked at it.

I must say that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy sounds a lot like an iPhone, with Siri reading an entry on Vogons.  It has been kind of a crazy day.  Got up this morning to try to get my car shoveled out to go to church.  Didn't happen.  Too much snow, and the plows had come through.  There was a concrete wall of white blocking the entire street line of my property.  I spent 40 minutes digging, pushing, and digging some more.  Then I came back inside, checked my iPhone, and found out that the church services had been canceled for the day.

Not only that, but the Winter Storm Warning had also been canceled for my little corner of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, only to be replaced by a Blizzard Warning that is in effect until 1 a.m. tomorrow.

My son is doing a no-school dance.  My daughter and her boyfriend have been firmly ensconced upstairs in my daughter's bedroom all day, watching Netflix.  And I am sitting in my kitchen, listening to the wind rattle my windows and drive clouds of white powder into my backyard.

Earlier, my plow guy came through.  He dug us out.  I got my car stuck down the street.  (I was attempting to reach my mother's house to see if everybody was alright.  Didn't make it.)  With the help of my daughter, her boyfriend, my plow guy, and a helpful neighbor, I was able to push my way back up the street to my driveway.  Since that time, I haven't stepped foot outside.

UPDATE:  My kids just found out that school is canceled for tomorrow.,

Tonight, I will be watching the Academy Awards as my house gets buried in drifts of snow.  I'm supposed to work tomorrow.  I'm supposed to teach tomorrow.  (The university will not make an announcement about cancellation until the wee morning hours.)  Usually, on Oscar night, I get together with my family, eat snacks, order pizza, and have a little competition.  It's like New Year's Eve but without the horns and balloons.  That won't be happening this year.

Currently, I'm wondering what we're going to eat for dinner.  Old Father Hubbard's cupboard is pretty bare.  I have blueberries that I picked this summer.  There's eggs and milk.  Tonight's menu might consist of blueberry pancakes and omelets.

I hope all of my disciples are safe and warm tonight.  Stay off the roads.  Drink hot cocoa.  Watch a bunch of shallow people in Hollywood congratulate themselves on how wonderful they are.

That's what Saint Marty is going to do.


February 24: All Work and No Play, Mary Oliver, "White-Eyes"

The day is beginning to darken.  It's about 6 p.m., and the wind and snow have been screaming outside all day long.  This weekend's weather has piled white again my kitchen windows.  One more storm like this, and they will be completely buried.  If I were a less stable, grounded person, I would be sitting in my kitchen "office" typing "All work and no play make Marty a dull boy" over and over and over.

In the midst of blizzards, it's difficult to appreciate their fierce beauty.  It's like the world is reminding us who really is in charge.  I must remind myself tonight that this snow is a gift.  A really heavy, wet, impossible gift.

Saint Marty is not snow complaining this evening.  He's snow meditating, like Mary Oliver . . .

White-Eyes

by:  Mary Oliver

In winter
     all the singing is in
          the tops of the trees
               where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
     shoves and pushes
          among the branches.
               Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
     but he's restless--
          he has an idea,
               and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
     as long as he stays awake.
          But his big, round music, after all,
               is too breathy to last.

So it's over.
     In the pine-crown
          he makes his nest,
               he's done all he can.

I don't know the name of this bird.
     I only imagine his glittering beak
          tucked in a white wing
               while the clouds--

which he has summoned
     from the north--
          which he has taught
               to be mild, and silent--

thicken and begin to fall
     into the world below
          like stars, or the feathers
               of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
     that is asleep now, and silent--
          that has turned itself
               into snow.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

February 23: Don't Panic, Greta Garbo, Introverted

Ford introduces Arthur to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy . . .

Ford frowned at the grubby mattresses, unwashed cups and unidentifiable bits of smelly alien underwear that lay around the cramped cabin.

"Well, this is a working ship, you see," said Ford.  "These are the Dentrassis' sleeping quarters."

"I thought you said they were called Vogons or something."

"Yes," said Ford, "the Vogons run the ship, the Dentrassis are the cooks; they let us on board."

"I'm confused."

"Here, have a look at this," said Ford.  He sat down on one of the mattresses and rummaged about in his satchel.  Arthur prodded the mattress nervously and then sat on it himself:  in fact he had very little to be nervous about, because all mattresses grown in the swamps of Sqornshellous Zeta are very thoroughly killed and dried before being put to service.  Very few have ever come to life again.

Ford handed the book to Arthur.

"What is it?" asked Arthur.

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  It's a sort of electronic book.  It tells you everything you need to know about anything.,  That's its job."

Arthur turned it over nervously in his hands.

"I like the cover," he said.  "'Don't Panic.'  It's the first helpful or intelligible thing anybody's said to me all day."

Don't panic.  It's good advice for anyone, no matter what situation you're in.  Panic doesn't help improve any problem.  It simply makes you feel more out-of-control.  Thus, it's a better practice, when in a difficult situation, to take some deep breaths.  I find that withdrawing a little, indulging in a little alone time to gather thoughts and evaluate emotions, helps, as well.

That's what I need to do this weekend.  I was supposed to meet some of my best friends this morning for breakfast.  I love these ladies dearly, but I woke up this morning and found that I didn't have the energy to do peopling today.  I have to play the pipe organ for church this evening, which requires quite a bit of social interaction.  Aside from that, I believe that I will be what my therapist would term "antisocial."  I prefer the term "introverted."

I can go for many weeks without having this introvert time.  My life doesn't allow it very much.  All day, I answer phones, register patients, teach classes.  Social interaction is a necessary part of my life.  After a good span of being social, however, I find that my well runs dry.  I turn into Greta Garbo:  "I want to be alone."

I don't think that I'm unusual in this need.  Being social and outgoing all the time isn't really healthy, I think.  Think of all the celebrities who have self-destructed because of their constant need for attention and interaction, like Andy Warhol or Truman Capote.  (Disclaimer:  I am NOT claiming that I am any where near as talented or gifted as these two artists.  They are simply examples of excess--individuals who were obsessed with being in the limelight.)  Every person needs to be Greta Garbo occasionally.

This Oscar weekend, with another snow-pocalypse in the forecast, it won't be difficult to withdraw from social interaction.  It will be physically impossible to seek out human interaction.  The weather will prevent it.  Apologies to my best friends who wanted to have breakfast with me this morning.  Please understand that I care about you a great deal, but with the upheaval of the approaching work week, I needed to be Garbo (or John Muir or Thoreau--take your pick).

Saint Marty wishes all his disciples time to recharge this weekend.


February 23: John Muir, Stephen Ratcliffe, "Readings from John Muir's Journals"

I have been acquainting myself with John Muir recently, at the urging of a couple of my close friends.  It's not that I was unaware of Muir,  I knew who he was, but I have never read any of his writings, knew little about his life.

I have discovered that I love Muir.  His fearlessness.  Love of nature.  Dedication to conservation.  He inspires me to be a better person somehow.  Today is a John Muir Day.  I look out my window, and all I see is snow, thick in the sky and on the ground.  It just keeps coming and coming.

John Muir, with his love of nature and glaciers, would love this weather.  He didn't use the term "snowflakes" when talking about snow.  He coined the term "snowflowers" instead.

Saint Marty sees a whole garden of snowflowers in the air right now.

Readings from John Muir's Journals

by:  Stephen Ratcliffe

With eyes of the owl
& the jay's cry
I wake in the open air

to the slow of new day--
light in the oak & yellow pine,
the stream running into my ears.

*

Maple leaves from a winter
or two, or six,
dry cracked
     my voice, my foot
the measure of my climb.

*

Noon.  The mid March
sun begins
to penetrate my

skin, my bones, begins
to warm the lake
side where

waterlichen
has gripped down
for so long

*

The metaphysics of Indian
red madrone to drift
wood, riverwood, run

& weathered, the slow
decay, the sigh
of a time not mine.

*

April 4:  the silver fir,
the light, the Merced
dropping ever the falls,

the embroidered spray,
the sight, thunder
rolling from the height.

*

The cowslip, violet
deep at the stem, to sky
blue, to the jade

behind startips pointed
in a ring,
to no sound at all.

*

At the saddle ridgecrest,
where shade will come long
& cold, two deer,

California mule, graze
in the half light,
ears cocked, listening.

*

Late afternoon on the Sawyer
Camp Road, the wind
down on the lake,

the water deeply green,
the mating of ducks shrill
in the splash, there.

*

Mosaic was the weigh
of the sun,
           these
eyes in the blue
light of the sea,
          le ciel,
the wild
     of twilight--iris
blue in the curl
          & lash.

*

The full moon falling
all around me drips
from honeysuckle

leaftips to petals
where it pools in drops
casting a moonlit spell.

*

Across the way, rising
from a crest of pinetops,
a crystal sky full

of first magnitude stars
drifts, in flight, above
the sleeping, shadowed night.


Friday, February 22, 2019

February 22: A Bit Squalid, Packing up and Throwing Out, My Friend

Ford and Arthur on the Vogon starship . . .

Ford and Arthur stared around them.

"Well, what do you think?" said Ford.

"It's a bit squalid, isn't it?"

Spent my work day at the medical office with one of my best friends/coworkers, packing up and throwing out all kinds of shit.  It wasn't my idea of an inspiring day, and, when we were done, the whole place did look a little squalid.  Judge for yourself . . .

There's really no other way to describe the scene.  It looked like move-in or move-out day at a college dorm. 


The only thing that saved me from resorting to an overdose of sleeping pills or M&Ms was my friend.  She kept it funny and light, even when I wanted to ball into a fetal position in one of the shred bins.  Yes, I still feel like I'm tossing out my sister's legacy.  Yes, every time I came across something with her handwriting on it or in it, I wanted to hide it, keep it safe, stash it in the walls, draw a treasure map to it.  I didn't.  I threw away, with the help of my friend, who was also one of my sister's best friends, as well, so it didn't seem quite as bad.  If I had been weeding and tossing with a person who had never met my sister, I don't think it would have gone as well for me.

But my friend knew my sister.  Loved my sister.  Helped her through the last days of her life.  It was good to have her by my side today.

Saint Marty is so lucky to have such a wonderful person in his life.





Thursday, February 21, 2019

February 21: Unpleasant Green Body, My Inner Child, Poetry Reading and Beer

Let me introduce you to . . .

Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz heaved his unpleasant green body round the control bridge.  He always felt vaguely irritable after demolishing populated planets.  He wished that someone would come and tell him that it was all wrong so that he could shout at them and feel better.  He flopped as heavily as he could onto his control seat in the hope that it would break and give him something to be genuinely angry about, but it only gave a complaining sort of creak.

"Go away!" he shouted at a young Vogon guard who entered the bridge at that moment.  The guard vanished immediately, feeling rather relieved.  He was glad it wouldn't now be him who delivered the report they'd just received.  The report was an official release which said that a wonderful new form of spaceship drive was at this moment being unveiled at a Government research base on Damogran which would henceforth make all hyperspatial express routes unnecessary.

Another door slid open, but this time the Vogon captain didn't shout because it was the door from the galley quarters where Dentrassis prepared his meals.  A meal would be most welcome.

A huge furry creature bounded through the door with his lunch tray.  It was grinning like a maniac.

Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz was delighted.  He knew that when a Dentrassi looked that pleased with itself there was something going on somewhere on the ship that he could get very angry indeed about.

Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz is not in a good mood, however you define "good" for a Vogon.  He's feeling out of sorts and is looking for someone or something to yell at.  It seems Vogons aren't that big on being in touch with their inner children, searching out childhood sources of pain and anger and confusion.

I, on the other hand, am very much in touch with my inner child, and I know exactly what it making me feel anxious at the moment.  In about an hour's time, I have to do a poetry reading.  That isn't enough to cause me anxiety.  I do poetry readings all the time.  However, this particular reading is at a venue where I've never read before.  The place is going to be filled not only with my poetry circle of friends, but also colleagues from the English Department and grad students.  Plus, I'm reading with the head of the English Department.

Combine all of those factors, and that makes me one out-of-sorts Vogon.  I've done everything I can to prepare for this reading.  I've culled through my poems, come up with an order that seems logical.  I just don't know how the group of people will respond to my work.  It's my typical pre-reading jitters.

All I can do is show up, be myself, and, hopefully, get a laugh or two.  And drink some beer.  Beer is a big part of tonight.

Saint Marty is as ready as he's ever going to be.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

February 20: Good Grief, Good Friend, Good Jazz Leaps

And now Ford Prefect must somehow break the news to Arthur Dent that he's a hitchhiker on a flying saucer and going "home" (back to Earth) isn't really an option . . . 

"Yes," he agreed with Arthur, "no light."  He helped Arthur to some peanuts.  "How do you feel?" he asked him.

"Like a military academy," said Arthur, "bits of me keep on passing out."

Ford stared at him blankly in the darkness.

"If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"

Ford stood up.  "We're safe," he said.

"Oh good," said Arthur.

"We're in a small galley cabin," said Ford, "in one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet."

"Ah," said Arthur, "this is obviously some strange usage of the word safe that I wasn't previously aware of."

Ford struck another match to help him search for a light switch.  Monstrous shadows leaped and loomed again.  Arthur struggled to his feet and hugged himself apprehensively.  Hideous alien shapes seemed to throng him, the air was thick with musty smells which sidled into his lungs without identifying themselves, and a low irritating hum kept his brain from focusing.

"How did we get here?" he asked, shivering slightly.

"We hitched a lift," said Ford.

"Excuse me?" said Arthur.  "Are you trying to tell me that we just stuck out our thumbs and some green bug-eyed monster stuck his head out and said, 'Hi fellas, hop right in, I can take you as far as the Basingstoke roundabout?'"

"Well," said Ford, "the Thumb's an electronic subetha signaling device, the roundabout's at Barnard's Star six light-years away, but otherwise, that's more or less right."

"And the bug-eyed monster?"

"Is green, yes."

"Fine," said Arthur, "when can I go home?"

"You can't," said Ford Prefect, and found the light switch.

"Shade your eyes . . ." he said, and turned it on.

Even Ford was surprised.  

"Good grief," said Arthur, "is this really the interior of a flying saucer?"

Another long day of packing and pitching at the medical office where I work (for the time being).  Packing up medical charts.  Pitching Christmas trees, holiday decorations, and old manuals.  With the help of a good friend/coworker, I managed to eliminate much that would have filled up my garage and sat unused in boxes for years.  It was both depressing and liberating, in a way.  Depressing because 20 years of my life went into trash bins.  Liberating because I allowed myself to let go of items that were sad reminders of my sister.

Let me explain something about my sister:  she was kind of a hoarder.  She never threw anything away.  (My dad was the same way, but he had an excuse:  he grew up during the Great Depression.)  Therefore, I'm not sure that my sister would have been on my side today as I dumped and ditched and discarded.  When I found something that reminded me of my sister, I held it for a few moments, said a prayer of thanks for the good memories it evoked, and then placed it in the trash bag and let it go.  (My friend/coworker taught me to do this, and it helped a great deal.)

Slowly, but surely, I am seeing the life that I've led in this place disappear.  I can do nothing to stop this process.  It will happen with or without me.  Therefore, I must find moments of joy in my day, whether it's discovering some artifact that reminds me of my sister, which happened a lot this morning, or attending my son's dance open house, which I did this afternoon.

Yes, I was once again at the dance studio, this time for my son's jazz class.  I watched him stretch and kick and leap.  In between, he'd look over at me, wave and smile.  It made the difficult parts of my day recede, like waves after a rainstorm.  It was a perfect conclusion to a not-so-perfect Thursday.  Watching my son do something that he really loves filled the empty cup of my heart.

Saint Marty is thankful tonight for good friends and jazz leaps.


February 20: My Son Dance, Filled With Joy, "My Son's Cars"

Tonight, I watched my son dance.  He wasn't the best dancer in the class.  Or the most flexible.  His turns made me dizzy just watching him.  Sometimes, he simply stood in the middle of the room and did the Macarena.  He did it really well, though.

My son was filled with joy, and that filled me with joy.  He really loved what he was doing.

That's all that Saint Marty wishes for his kids, every day of their lives.


My Son’s Cars

by:  Martin Achatz

When I read to my son, he runs
From me, as if I’m a hungry lion,
He, a well-fed Christian condemned
By Nero.  I have never played with green
Soldiers, refuse to buy toy guns or darts,
Still have my daughter’s old dolls
In the toy chest.  My son obsesses over
Cars, matchbox tractors, helicopters tiny
As frogs.  I don’t know where he learned
This hunger, if it somehow mutated
From some Neanderthal gene, hairy,
Full of mammoth hunts, stone wheels.
He sits on the floor, growls, makes sounds
Of rusty mufflers, truck engines stuck
In pools of swamp mud.  I listen,
Watch him shove cars across hardwood,
Think of my father, the plumber, hunter,
Car guy, in the front row for Our Town
When I was in high school.  He watched me
The way he watches the Super Bowl
Every year, as if his life depends on
His team bringing home the Vince Lombardi
Trophy.  I took my bow, looked at my father,
Standing, clapping, maybe understanding
Thornton Wilder’s words about how
We all go through life, ignorant of
Toast mothers make for breakfast,
Grass fathers mow on summer nights,
Our daily acts of devotion, sacrifices
We make without even thinking.
I will sit in stadium bleachers
If my son joins the football team.
I will buy popcorn, cheer, stomp.
I will do this for him, not quite 
Comprehending the rules of his game,
The mechanics of toy cars pushed
Straight through the walls of my heart.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

February 19: Very Very Obvious, Open House, Dance Moments

Arthur Dent is waking up on the Vogon flagship, and Ford Prefect is contemplating one of his pet peeves . . .

"Whhrrr . . ." said Arthur Dent.  He opened his eyes.  "It's dark," he said.

"Yes," said Ford Prefect, "it's dark."

"No light," said Arthur Dent.  "Dark, no light."

One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It's a nice day, or You're very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you all right?  At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behavior.  If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up.  After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favor of a new one.  If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working.  After a while he abandoned this one as well as being obstructively cynical and decided he quite liked human beings after all, but he always remained desperately worried about the terrible number of things they didn't know about.

So, tonight was my daughter's very last open house at her dance studio.  She's a senior.  I realized this fact as I was leaving the studio after watching her dance.  Allow me, therefore, to repeat something that's probably very obvious:  tonight was my daughter's last open house at her dance studio, and that makes me profoundly sad.

I have been attending dance open houses for my daughter since she was in kindergarten.  That's twelve years, if you're counting.  I remember her first open house.  She was one little girl in a room filled with little girls, and she was trying her hardest to look like a ballerina.  She pointed her toes.  Did pliés.  Ran and tried to leap.  She was so serious.  So focused.

Tonight, she looked beautiful, if a little tired.  She came straight from school, so she had no chance to relax.  After I watched her tap class, I took her to dinner, and we sat and talked and laughed like we always did when I would drive her to dance.  When she was little, I would take her to McDonald's and buy her chicken nuggets, and she would tell me about art class or computer class or gym class.  We would discuss what her Halloween costume was going to be.  What she wanted most for her birthday or Christmas.  

Tonight, she kept looking at her iPhone, tapping out quick messages to her friends.  She told me that I should grow a beard, and when I said that a beard would make me look old, she said, "Well, you are old!"  Then she laughed, and I laughed.  As we were leaving the restaurant, she actually took my hand in hers for about ten seconds.

I'm going to miss those dance moments, where she forgets that she's 18-years-old and, for a few moments, is my little girl again.

Saint Marty is old tonight.


February 19: Daughter, Milestones, "Praise for Waiting"

Tonight, I turn to a poem I wrote a long time ago, when my daughter would still let me sing to her at night before she fell asleep.

I just attended my daughter's last dance open house, after twelve years of dance open houses.  In a few months, she will be walking across the gymnasium floor in her cap and gown.  I want time to slow down.  Getting a little tired of encountering milestones every day.  I thought it was bad enough when my daughter got her braces taken off.

Saint Marty isn't ready to be the father of a high school graduate.

Praise for Waiting

by:  Martin Achatz

I scribble these lines in my journal
As I wait for my daughter’s ballet
Class to end, her to come out of the studio,
Flushed from grand jeté, allegro, pirouette.
I treasure these moments of waiting
At the end of the day, in my car,
Radio silent, evening creeping into air
Like frost on a kitchen window, delicate
Fingers of cold and dark.  This moment,
Suspended between dinner and sleep,
Seems timeless, the way pictures of Garbo
Seem timeless, black-and-white, eyes
Focused upward, as if some lover
Hovers above her, waiting to press
His lips to hers, taste her meter, rhythm,
Sonnet of skin, snowdrift body.
Words cannot, will not touch these long
Seconds, no verb or adjective coax
Onto page the pure pleasure of possibility,
Reaching out like an unwritten poem.
I close my eyes, understand why Garbo
Flickered out when she did, left the world
Waiting for one last word, one last glimpse.
A snapshot.  My daughter caught mid-leap,

Waiting, as we all do, to descend.


Monday, February 18, 2019

February 18: Some Peanuts, In Between Teaching, Parents' Night

Ford has saved Arthur's life, although Arthur does not know that yet . . .

He heard a slight groan.  By the light of the match he saw a heavy shape moving slightly on the floor.  Quickly he shook the match out, reached in his pocket, found what he was looking for and took it out.  He ripped it open and shook it.  He crouched on the floor.  The shape moved again.

Ford Prefect said, "I bought some peanuts."

Arthur Dent moved, and groaned again, muttering incoherently.

"Here, have some," urged Ford, shaking the packet again, "if you've never been through a matter transference beam before you've probably lost some salt and protein.  The beer you had should have cushioned your system a bit."

I sort of feel as though I've been through a matter transference beam right now.  I'm starving.  In need of some salt and protein.  In between classes at the moment, gulping down some dinner in my office at the university.  It's one of those nights where I simply don't have a whole lot of time to be thoughtful with my post.  I spent most of the day at the medical office sorting through patient charts, getting them ready for either storage or shredding.  This afternoon, it was mythology--hero myths.  Perseus.  Hercules.  Jason.  Ulysses.  Tonight, composition--poetry analysis papers, among other things.

Because of teaching tonight, I am going to miss something at my daughter's school--parents' night at the basketball game.  That's when the seniors of the basketball team and the pep band are recognized with their parents.  I have been attending parents' nights for three years, knowing that, some day, I would be standing down on the gym floor with my daughter.

As you can tell, I'm not going to be at the basketball game.  Won't be there for my daughter's last pep band performance.  Instead, I'm going to be in a classroom, trying to teach college students how not to plagiarize.  That kind of makes me sad.  I'm not much of an organized sports kind of guy.  Couldn't care less who wins the game tonight.  But I do love hearing and seeing my daughter play in the band.  I'm going to miss that when she graduates.

That's where my mind is tonight.  Not in this post.  Not in the classroom.  It's in the gymnasium at my daughter's school.  I've actually been saying a few prayers that something would happen to either cancel classes tonight at the university or postpone the basketball game.  It appears that neither of those things are going to be happening.

Saint Marty will just have to be satisfied with the knowledge that his daughter will be missing him greatly.  (There's sarcasm in that statement, if you can't tell.)


Sunday, February 17, 2019

February 17: Dentrassis, Long Afternoon, Second-to-Last Week

Back to Ford Prefect.  The last time we saw him, he was still on Earth, right after the Vogons had announced their intention to destroy the planet . . .

He looked about the cabin but could see very little; strange monstrous shadows loomed and leaped with the tiny flickering flame, but all was quiet.  He breathed a silent thank you to the Dentrassis.  The Dentrassis are an unruly tribe of gourmands, a wild but pleasant bunch whom the Vogons had recently taken to employing as catering staff on their long-haul fleets, on the strict understanding that they keep themselves very much to themselves.

This suited the Dentrassis fine, because they loved Vogon money, which is one of the hardest currencies in space, but loathed the Vogons themselves.  The only sort of Vogon a Dentrassi liked to see was an annoyed Vogon.

It was because of this tiny piece of information that Ford Prefect was not now a whiff of hydrogen, ozone and carbon monoxide.

There you go.  Ford Prefect is on the Vogon flagship, saved by the Dentrassi's penchant for wanting to annoy the Vogons.  Obviously, Ford Prefect is not a friend of the Vogons.  Nobody is a friend of the Vogons, it seems.  But Ford and Arthur were able to hitch a ride on their ship.  More on that tomorrow.

 It has been a long afternoon of schoolwork and watching more snow fall.  Frankly, I would have preferred hitching a ride on a Vogon ship than all the busy work I had to complete.  Grading and lesson planning and PowerPointing.  It took me over four hours to finish.  Now, I'm a little mind weary and hungry.  And it's still snowing.  I want a Vogon ride to summer.

I think my mood right now is more a result of all the mind-numbing class prep than the weather (although I am tired of snow and shoveling and cold).  I need a break.  Something that is simply fun.  Reading a frivolous book.  Watching a stupid television show.

TIME CUT:  Three hours later . . .

No frivolous book.  No stupid television.  Instead, I just finished shoveling my driveway and front yard.  It's almost 8 p.m.  The snow was really light and powdery, so it only took me about a half hour.  Now, I'm in my pajamas, and my son is watching some stupid show on the Cartoon Network that he's currently obsessed with.  He watches it every night.  (Side note:  I used to watch Bugs Bunny cartoons every day, so I can't really complain about my son's television viewing habits.)

Sunday night.  The start of another work week.  The start of the second-to-last week of working at the surgery center.  Tomorrow, work and teaching.  I'm already tired. 

Put a fork in Saint Marty.  He's done.  For the week.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

February 16: Hrung Disaster, Worry, Leap of Faith

A little backstory on Ford Prefect . . .

Somewhere in a small dark cabin buried deep in the intestines of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz's flagship, a small match flared nervously.  The owner of the match was not a Vogon, but he knew all about them and was right to be nervous.  His name was Ford Prefect.*

* Ford Prefect's original name is only pronounceable in an obscure Betelgeusian dialect, now virtually extinct since the Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster of Gal./Sid./Year 03758 which wiped out all the old Praxibetel communities on Betelgeuse Seven.  Ford's father was the only man on the entire planet to survive the Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster, by an extraordinary coincidence that he was never able to satisfactorily explain.  The whole episode is shrouded in deep mystery:  in fact no one ever knew what a Hrung was nor why it had chosen to collapse on Betelgeuse Seven particularly.  Ford's father, magnanimously waving aside the clouds of suspicion that had inevitably settled around him, came to live on Betelgeuse Five, where he bot fathered and uncled Ford; in memory of his now dead race he christened him in the ancient Praxibetel tongue.

Because Ford never learned to say his original name, his father eventually died of shame, which is still a terminal disease in some parts of the Galaxy.  The other kids at school nicknamed him Ix, which in the language of Betelgeuse Five translates as "boy who is not able satisfactorily to explain what a Hrung is, nor why it should choose to collapse on Betelgeuse Seven."

That's a pretty depressing little history of a character in a novel that's supposed to be a sci-fi farce/comedy.  Granted, the details have a certain amount of the ridiculous in them, especially the translation of his Betelgeuse Five name.  It would sort of be like me being christened with a name that means "boy who will grow up into a man who worries too much about work and money and family and the color of the mole on his leg."

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows my penchant for worry.  It's one of my hobbies, along with blogging, writing poetry, and listening to Christmas music at inappropriate times of the year.  (In my defense, there really is no time of the year when Christmas music is inappropriate.  It's the people around me that think Christmas music doesn't belong in May or June or July or August.)  Worry, on the other hand, is never really out-of-season.

Now, as a practicing Christian, I know that worry (and its source--fear) really is the enemy of faith.  There's that whole thing about trusting that God will give us everything that we need.  I mean, Jesus says at one point in the Bible, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air:  They do not sow or reap or gather into bard--and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

Yet, I indulge in worry every day.  Today's main worry:  money.  Of course, that is one of my constant worries.  As often happens, the day that my paycheck arrives (which was yesterday), it was already gone for the week.  And there are still bills to pay.  Groceries to buy.  Gas to put in the car so my wife and I can get to work.  Don't know how all that's going to happen, but I have to put it all in God's hands.  That's all I can do.

I think, maybe, in the 21st century, it's a little more difficult to do than when the disciples were walking around with Jesus Christ.  In those days, it wasn't unusual to see lepers getting cured and dead people climbing out of their tombs.  If a stranger knocked on your door at night, he might be your cousin Levi or he might be an angel travelling through Galilee on the way to Jerusalem to dispense some divine justice.  Signs of God's presence and generosity were a little easier to spot.

These days, you have to look a little harder, understand a little more deeply, to see signs of God's providence and generosity.  I don't expect, in the next day or so, for some distant relative whom I've never met to die and leave me a multi-million dollar inheritance.  Won't happen.  What I have to do is take leaps of faith.  This week, my leap of faith is that we will somehow make it to the next paycheck, which comes at the end of next week.

Faith and trust--those aren't top on my list of hobbies right now.  Worry still holds the top spot.

Saint Marty is a work in progress, as always.


February 16: Faith and Trust, Averill Curdy, "The God of Inattention"

Yes, I continually struggle with faith and trust.  I think it's part of being a religious person.  You simply have dark moments of the soul, where God seems to turn His back on you.  Without faith, I would have given into despair a long, long time ago.

And then, the sun breaks through the clouds for a few minutes.  Sends you something beautiful.

Saint Marty lives for those moments.

The God of Inattention

by:  Averill Curdy

After the trumpets, after the incense   
There were nights insomnia fathered gods   
I then rejected as too angry or distracted,   
Or whose appetite for submission revealed   
Their own lack of faith.   Say our names,   
All synonyms for trust. Others spoke   
In sugared paradox:  To know is to know   
All. To not know all is not to know. To know   
All requires that you know very little,   
But to know that little you have to know   
All And for a while, it's true,   
I burned in the dark fires of ambivalence,   
My attention consumed like oxygen.   
I'd wake up tired, as I had with the married man   
Whose strictures and caprice begat,   
And begat, and begat, and begat   
My love for him, harvesting the same      
Silence from my bed. Who listens   
To my penitential tune? Who accepts   
My petitions for convenient parking,   
For spring, for the self illuminated   
Across a kitchen table, for . . . for   
Fortitude? I've heard a voice, I'm sure,   
Advising me to drop this sentimental farce.   
Only to hold the smoke of their names   
Again in my mouth I'd resurrect   
The dead, or adopt the gods orphaned   
By atheists, except the gods they've made   
From disbelief no one's faith could tolerate.   
Refusing to make the same mistake   
Just once, I've cried out to the dark   
Many names, most given up as routinely   
As the secrets of friends. If you're a cup      
Will my lips profane your own? If a comb      
Will I feel your teeth against my neck?      
If a wall I will be darker than your shadow.   
And if a door I will unlatch you, letting in   
All the little foxes from the vineyard.