Sunday, April 23, 2006


into the blank universe
I don’t deserve this
the indifferent molecules shrug, move on

into the book called history
nostalgia for a past that’s not your own
about it

a cup of wonder
Drink it,
deep and cold
whatever’s there (or not)



Rainy Days and Bloody Sundays

Okay, the haiku's sort of a downer. The picture's a little brighter, don't you think? It's listed on eBay, if you think it's so wonderful you'd like to pay five whole dollars for it. What the hell, I'm having a lot of fun.

It's a cold and rainy Sunday here in Connecticut...but Mother Earth needs the rain, so I'm not complaining. I went to the Hygienic Art Show last case you're surfing by, the Hygienic was a greasy spoon type restaurant in New London (methinks the restaurant doth protest too much?) that closed down in the '80s. The city was going to tear it down, but a bunch of bleeding-heart types decided to save it (just kidding). They turned it into an art gallery. It has naked ladies on the side (an interpretation of the Graces, I believe) to the horror of prim and secretly prurient city fathers and mothers. I've never been to one of the shows before.

But last night, my friend Carrie was in the show! It's a juried show, so that's quite an honor. She had two photos accepted, titled My America I and My America II. They've very cool. Carrie's a team member on this blog, so you can get to hers from here, but I know she hasn't posted them...yet, anyway. I hope she does.

I should go to more shows like that. It's not so much that I "get ideas" from other people's art--it's more like I give myself permission to express what's not quite conventional or "acceptable" to express. It made me want to finish a couple of pieces that I've started.

Another exciting thing happened at the gallery...I was standing next to a bin with various posters in it, and I noticed that there were things in there that looked like menus...sure enough, they were old Hygienic menus! The reason this was exciting (in case you think I've lost my mind) is that my mother worked there, back in the early to mid '70s! I have some wonderful memories of the place (which kept the counter and all the fixtures, by the way). I told Carrie last night about visiting my mother there after my father had disowned me for (horror of horrors) seeing a Jewish man, to whom I was subsequently married for 15 years. My mother died in the early '80s of colon cancer, and I still miss her. This greasy menu full of cheap, tasty food is a fitting memento.

Carrie, I hope you continue with your art. Bon voyage!

DNA Dancer

New Haiku

Short life, between a
rock and a hard place. .Long life,
long animus. .Death.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

What a piece of work is man!

How Can I Keep From Singing?

My life goes on in endless song
Above Earth's lamentation
I hear the real though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?
This is variously described as a Shaker, Quaker, or 'Sunday School' hymn that I first heard sung a capella by John McCutcheon. (I had to look 'capella' up; two p's is the Italian spelling, one the Latin.)
It's one of my favorite hymns, though I find it more or less 'areligious', if there were such a word. By that I don't mean 'secular'; I mean it's a spiritual feeling that can't be tied to any one religion.
May, waxing ecstatic

A BC Postcard has arrived!

A couple of months ago, I posted a request for mail art on a German site. My criteria were that the postcards must contain either artwork or poetry relating to Breast Cancer. Well, I finally got my first postcard!

Image hosting by Photobucket

Image hosting by Photobucket

If I'm reading the name right, this card is from Taka Noreiks in Leipzig, Germany. The name of the piece is "Mrs.", and the work is meant to portray the healthy side of the coin. I fooled with the image in photoshop, but I couldn't get it to register the incredible beauty of the blue-greens in this painting. I'll treasure it. Thank you, Taka, wherever you are!

It's drawn me, all evening. I've been trying the fix the terrible scan my machine took of it, without much luck, and I'm getting sleepier by the minute...drop a comment, won't you, if you're ambling by?

Time for bed.

Monday, April 17, 2006

East Haddam Gravestones

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Family, Death, etc.

I subscribe to, which sends you email periodically to tell you how many people have visited your blog. If I go to their page, I can click on 'details', then any visitor, to see where they're located and how they got there.
One person searched on Starfish1951, which is my long-time Yahoo name, as well as my eBay name. Now I thought that was odd. I wonder why...
Sometimes I wonder if one of my long-lost family members, my oldest brother Art, for instance, has checked out my blog...not that this one is likely to be that; if for any reason he wanted to do that, he'd probably search on my name. I haven't heard from him in ages. I think he decided when I told him I was looking into both paganism and herbalism that I was a flake.
No offense, Art, but this is a guy who, if I remember correctly, spent $4,000 on a giant dragon for his living room. Just how does one define flake?
Hell, you are one fantastic photographer.
My brother Jim, who is a sweetheart and a teddy bear, told him about my primary cancer diagnosis, over two years ago, and about the metastases last spring. I haven't heard from him. Art has always tried to separate himself from his roots in poverty. I have never cared enough about money to bother.
My brother Mike, on the other hand, probably cares, but he's scared to death of death. Why? I'm not thrilled with the idea--at least not yet--but that's mostly because it's so damn permanent. I guess I'm not supposed to believe that, since a quasi-dogma of paganism is a belief in reincarnation. I certainly believe in a continuation of energy, but usually I think of it in Whitman's terms:
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.
This weekend, John and I found some people who stopped in a graveyard in East Haddam, below one of the myriad Nathan Hale schoolhouses that seem to populate Connecticut. John took some pictures of the gravestones. The pictures in the post following this one are three of the most interesting, the first being of a gravestone with a finger pointing up, to heaven I presume. When I first saw it, I thought that Llewellyn's wife was flipping me the bird. The second is of Joel, "a black man" with no last name, who earned his freedom at age 26 by his "industry, fidelity, and faithfulness", and lived for "14 years in the full injoyment of the priviledges of a free man" (sic). The last photo is of a gravestone sacred to the memory of one Amasa Brainard, who was about to enter church one fine Sunday in 1798, when he was brained by the clapper of the church bell, "in the 20th year of his age". There was no OSHA in those days.

I don't suppose they're suffering now.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


I have welcomed
odd creatures
into the fold
at night:
sharp-eye birds of prey
who carry me to the wars
and the death of all weakness
there is no softness in their world
only the knife-edged line
between the wrong
and the one true right
hooded reptile with veiled eyes
always the devil's advocate
between the world's way
and the way I mean to suffer
small, shivering creatures
with great blind eyes
they fear the day
they are paralyzed
in the gaze
of their unknowing
and trapped
as they have begged
and begged
and known beggar's despair--
the beast of burden
with downcast eyes
that the way

Saturday, April 15, 2006


It's been a while since I've been here. Since I last wrote, I've finished two pieces in a series called 'DNA'.

I guess it's fairly obvious why they're called that. The first is called DNA Diva, and she's pen & ink and watercolor. The second is DNA Dreamer, done with pen & ink for a black and white themed contest called Nibblefest. If you're interested, go to eBay on the 20th of the month and search on NFAC, which stands for Nibblefest Art Contest. Everything has to start at 99 cents, and some really good artists are represented, so you might get something fabulous for almost nothing.

I've rejoined the Breast Cancer email list I belonged to up until right around the time I started this blog. It's a group of very intelligent women and men with personal experience of breast cancer, including a couple of men who have had the disease. I found it a very supportive place to be when I was first diagnosed, and attended the annual get-together in October of last year. Then the silly flame wars got to me, and I suppose I also was having a hard time being constantly reminded that not only had I had breast cancer, I, unlike most on the list, still have breast cancer. I needed some time away.

John stayed on, and, though he had never posted much, brought me up to date on the happenings...a couple of people died; one woman I'd met at the get-together had a serious car accident; one woman I also met lost her husband, who wasn't yet 50, to what I guess was a heart attack, etc., etc. Hearing about these things made me miss everyone, but I was busy focusing on my art obsession, and establishing myself as a person who was...still living, I guess.

I have mixed feelings about going back. After my cancer metastasized, it was hard to hear, "Oh, May, we know what you're going through; we'll help you through it". No, you don't. I have a death sentence; you don't. While we all "just have today, really", which I heard too many times after I was diagnosed with Stage IV, I have been robbed of my future. I admit I felt resentful hearing these things from women who should know better. And like all other drunks, as they say in AA, I can't afford resentment.

Well, I don't want to belabor all this; I chose to go back. And I think it will be, all in all, helpful. And I still have my art.


Saturday, April 08, 2006


Today was a cold and dreary day. I sat at the computer and thought, more than I wanted to.

The word 'psychopomp' came up for me today. Last summer John and I took a picnic lunch to Harkness park. Harkness was once the summer estate of a rich and gay family. It included well-cared for gardens and a small golf course, right on the ocean in southeastern Connecticut. One of my high school classmates, who did some summer landscaping work there, wrote a book about the place, called 'The Great Sunflower'. He had a lot of potential as a writer, but he was one of the first young men to become a victim of AIDS (rest in peace, Cliff).

But I digress. Harkness being today a beautiful and relatively peaceful state park, with (theoretically at least) no swimming allowed, it's a good place to go if what you like to do is meditate, watch terns and cormorants dive, and collect tiny shells on the beach; then go visit the gardens, the broken statues; ooooh and aaaah at how the rich lived, or feel the cold wind of life and hopes past. All it lacks is the family graveyard.

John and I just wanted a tree to lean against, to eat our food. So we found a thicket bordered by a tree we could lean on if we needed protection or advice, laid out our blanket, and started doing the picnic part of our excursion.

Soon we were on our backs, admiring the lovely sky and the skilled kite flyers that the breezy park with wide open spaces brings out.

Suddenly a catbird came over and sat on the blanket by my leg. He clearly wanted food, and I was willing to give it, but he was jumpy and would run away if anything spooked him. I finally set a few bits of my lunch far from the blanket so he could feel safe approaching it, then lay back down, using a bag we brought food in for a pillow.

Only a few minutes passed before he came back. He had entered the thicket behind my head, and the next thing I knew, he was in the bag I was using for a pillow! He startled me and I moved; then he freaked, flew out of the bag and landed on John's toe. Clearly he was trying to tell us something and we weren't hearing it. Maybe that was for the best.

In some British Isles myths, sparrow is psychopomp, and not a beneficent one...but I detected neither benificence nor malevolence in our catbird visitor. We have many of that species in our yard now, though, and I do pay attention.

Friday, April 07, 2006


I might as well live in a shoe factory,
unkempt and disorganized and smelling of rags,
where my restless nights are punctuated
by the sounds of hapless footwear
. . .

to be found by weary workers
in the morning.
How can I tell them,
suspicious as they must be,
that shoes that choose to drop
will do so, won't be stopped?

Monday, April 03, 2006


At the door of Corrigan Correctional Institute, one of Connecticut's finest, lies a welcome mat. On it, carved into the rubber around the seal of the state of Connecticut, are these words: Corrigan C. I. - WE ARE THE FUTURE.

Scary, huh?


In the ongoing struggle to get all my (halfway decent) poetry published before I, well, you know, expire, here is a poem called Ebb Tide.

Last night you laid the cards
As gingerly we watched
In flickering light of candles.
You hung back, uncertain,
Slow to tell us what the cards knew,
Slow to let the wizard shine
In the lamp's fair flame.
Today we walked a slender strand,
Beach bordered by woods,
The salt air sweetening
Exuberant smell of roses.
Poking through the garnet sand,
We were at ebb tide,
One foot at sea
And one on land.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Blodeuwedd, Welsh Goddess of Spring

This is Blodeuwedd, Welsh Goddess of Spring. The frame around her face looks sort of like crinkly tissue paper, but is actually painted with Jacquard Lumiere acrylics. They're metallic and pearlescent paints, my absolute favorite.

I put this up on eBay for $8.99, which means it's unlikely to sell. I think I set the beginning bid there because I didn't want it to sell.

I'd like to thank Gaia, the Virgin, God, Mother Theresa, the indifferent cosmos, or whoever was responsible for the beautiful weekend we had.

I made it to spring!

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Email this morning from a fellow breast cancer "survivor" "victim" "warrior" "patient" person, Alycia, who lives here in Connecticut. She talks about denial.

I think I know about denial. Sometimes I forget I have breast cancer; only concrete details like my port, that metal lump below my collarbone, keep me attached to reality. But mostly I focus--art, tiny green things coming out of the soil, unfamiliar bird song--and time goes very quickly. It's my version of meditation, but I wish time would stand still. Maybe if I study theoretical physics I'll learn how to make that happen.

It's a lovely, quiet day. I'm going to go outside and see if I can hear the trees talking.