Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Poem: Concertmaster


Gathered around
a central violin
is a multitude
of ways and wages.
One solid, single note--
as if the norm were



--the unison
that brings God down
from his holy hammock
in the skies.
. . .
inevitable as mundane Monday
or Bach
as pure as profane Sunday
could well be.
. . .
The rosin squeaks along the bow
and the hands are tired.
Arthritis creeps upon them daily.

But that long, sweet note
she holds at night in sleeping,
‘til the rough chaos of shifting chairs
comes ‘round again

in the shiftless light
of morning.


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day, 2006

People do not die in wars
There are blood and lymph
and bones and weeping eyes
and gnashing teeth.
People do not die in wars
there are always mothers, fathers,
children who can't fathom,
wives or husbands,
whispering verbs of love and loss
to empty beds.
People do not die in wars
as heroes, only.
There are moments spent
remembering and seeing,
wishing, begging,
taking one last look
and knowing that they know
as only humans--heart, brain,
gut, and reaching arms--
as only humans can.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

All The Fine Young Men, by Eric Bogle & John Munro

They told all the fine young men of when this war is over
There will be peace and the peace will last forever
In Flanders Field, at Lone Pine and Bersheeba
For king and country, for honour and duty
The young men fought and cursed and wept and died
They told all the fine young men of when this war is over
In your country's grateful heart we will cherish you forever
At Tobruk and Alamein, at Bhuna and Kokoda
Like their fathers before, in a world mad with war
The young men fought and cursed and wept and died
For many of those fine young men all the wars are over
They have found peace, it's the peace that lasts forever
When the call comes again they will not answer
They're just forgotten bones lying far from their homes
As forgotten as the cause for which they died
Ah young men, can you see now why they lied.
..................as sung by Dolores Keane

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Poem: Prayer in April


Simple meets my skin, and
Mother Earth my satin belly.
Lie with Gaia, lady in waiting,
feel the fetal fits and starts
in the fecund dirt below
the slowly greening grasses.

In my pale and withered phase
take my straight and solid temper;
let me feel that pure impulse to thrive,
in breast and bones, veins, ligaments, lymph courses,
thoughts and songs, and bitter cleansing tears.


Another poem: ENOCH

Black Enoch
is a mountain
troubling to be moved.
His ragged clothes are
priestly vestments--
heavy burden
and reproach
to the keepers
of the world's coffers.
Questions in the air
approach and settle 'round him
like a thick night fog
that will not move
until a cataclysm--
bolt lightning
or a sudden wrongful death
or clear wild cry
from miles of dark despair--
shatters the still air,
so new winds can blow.
He could be blind,
or deaf, or dumb.
It doesn't matter.
His sad and patient eyes
are a beacon
to lost souls among us
who keep watch
for such a light.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Outside of the box

This is my new assemblage piece, called "Getting Out". It came out exactly as I wanted it to.

Inside the diamond

I've never had the kind of life that allowed innocent enjoyment.

I carry a number of pieces of baggage with me, including my childhood poverty, the "white trash" syndrome; sexual victimization; the "fat child" syndrome; and the various roles I learned to play in my family of origin, including sickness, flakiness, helplessness, neediness, and invisibility. The stories are boring; you've read them all before. No doubt, if you keep reading this blog, you'll read them again. I won't be able to keep myself from talking about them forever.

Anyway, having two children who are heroin addicts who won't speak to me, and having been diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer which will kill me sooner or later, I have a hard time with much of American culture.

Including baseball games.

I never thought I'd be interested in sports, but I have been following the UConn Huskies basketball teams. Basketball, especially on the college level, requires teamwork and smarts. Not to mention finely tuned athletic bodies.

Baseball, on the other hand, allows beer bellies, and requires excellence in one or two skills. The most important of these seems to be spitting.

Baseball players, in case you haven't noticed, practice a form of spitting that can only be described as "projectile". This projectile spitting happens much more frequently than a play in the game. Sometimes I think if they run out of saliva, they must be shooting out gray matter.

Watch them sometime. Most of them manage to shoot the spit out at a ninety degree angle from their mouths. I find myself wondering if they are all required to practice this, and/or if they have small openings drilled in their front teeth by some unsavory dentist.

This is a secret, folks. The elephant in the living room. The only picture I've been able to find of this projectile spitting thing is from 1997. It involved some guy named Roberto Alomar, who played for the Orioles, spitting in the umpire's face. He was suspended for five days.

I did find one discussion on this phenomenon. If you're interested--it also shows the picture of the uncouth baseball player in the act of spitting--you can go here: http://www.h-net.org/~arete/archives/threads/spit.html

And as Rocky the Squirrel says, now for something you'll really like--at least I hope--I'll load my new assemblage piece in the next post.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


The room where I have my treatments is one of several that line an outside wall at the Gray Cancer Center. Each room has four to six recliners where patients sit while poisons of various types are infused into their veins.

(Well, that's a little dramatic. My treatment isn't a poison; the nurses don't even have to worry about it splashing on them. May it continue to work!)

The outside wall is mostly a big window to a very small courtyard. This wall is continuous with the walls of the private clinic where I used to get treated before I went onto Medicaid. The private patients' courtyard contains a beautiful iron sculpture of birds and vines, and a feeder that's patronized by many different species and varieties of birds, including finches, sparrows, cardinals, nuthatches, and, on the ground, mourning doves and pigeons. Where I sit now, there's no bird feeder--hence, no birds.

There are pretty plantings, though, of tulips just now shedding their petals, bright azaleas in red and mauve, and other flowers I can't yet identify. Behind them is a Japanese maple with lacy leaves, bowing to the ground.

The purpose of these plantings is to keep us attached to life, even those of us who are trying to separate. My nurse has the same goal in mind when she talks gaily to the gaunt, jaundiced man in the chair next to me, or the little old lady who has just been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. I think she's scared. I still can't help being irritated, though. I want to tell her to shut up.

I may be going back to work. That's an act of living, even more so than building my Artemis garden or doing my art. I'll be doing some part-time hours in the same job I retired from, since Cathleen, who replaced me, has requested that her hours be reduced. I think I'm looking forward to it; I'm definitely glad that my Medicaid spenddown (sort of a copay that the recipient must spend before coverage kicks in) will be going away. I just have to be careful not to make so much money that I lose my Social Security Disability.

Much of the time, even when I'm actively taking part in the sweet, mundane things of ordinary life, I feel detached. It's as if I'm standing to the side, watching myself live. I can't stop doing this. I just try to forgive (and forget) myself and move on. And forgive others, who aren't living so self-consciously--the people with a future.

I am grateful, though, and grateful I'm grateful.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Last ATC: Gaia Weeps

She doesn't look exactly as I picture Gaia, but hey, I'm working on it.

I do like these ladies with leafy hair. If I ever go bald from chemo again, I think I'd like a wig made of leaves. Leaf goddess wannabe.

Another Earth Goddess ATC

One ATC (Artist Trading Card) for a Swap

Here's one of the cards I've done for a swap I'm taking part in, on the PaganATC group at Yahoo. The swap title is Great Earth Mother Goddess.

Tomorrow I'll try to get the other two up. Plus I might post some actual WORDS in this thing. What a concept, huh? Good night.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Leaf Goddess

Mother's Day

Today I spent some time surfing blogs, as I often do. A link on one random site led me to PostSecret: http://postsecret.blogspot.com/. I've been there before, but today I found some Mother's Day comments that made me think.

Some postcards are from mothers who were admitting, possibly for the first time, that they don't like being mothers. Some are from children who are saying, out loud, that they love their mothers, and some from kids who are saying they don't. One card said, "I buy funny cards so I don't have to lie and say I love her". So what's the feeling that keeps you sending the cards?

Mother's Day is right up there among my least favorite days of the year, the others being the day my first baby died (at one day old), the day my mother died, and the day my ex-husband and I dropped off our then-seven-year-old son at the first of many institutions he was to live in. Come to think of it, the day I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer isn't one of my favorites, either.

My son, Adam, just got out of jail. I can only hope he finds a way to stay out. I hope his sister has sense enough not to feed and water his anger and blame for his parents. I have doubts.

Here's an old poem, written ten years ago.
Harkness Beach, 1996
I am mother-of-pearl among
gull-shattered, blue-black shells
around me.
Spiders sprint, dissolve beneath
the underside of stones.
I have no ear to hear
nor fear
to harm them;
I, lonely woman
seeking clues in these, the tinyest, empty homes.
I gaze into a mussel shell
no larger than a grain of rice.
Each fragile sheath once housed a life
not so different
from the cells
my womb once held.
The many-colored whelks and curious snails,
false angel wing and delicate pelican's foot--
each held a piece
too common, and now gone
to the greedy urge
of the sea.
Perhaps it is that same cold tidal fee
that pulls my sons and daughters
far from me.
Down on all fours--
panning for gold jingles
and learning how to see--
I fear the quick false move
when pink or bright mauve, glimpsed too late,
is swept forever from this quiet scene.
A dog approaches,
retreats in happy foolishness to see
I am a human thing.
This is a yearly pilgrimage.
This spring I take
dozens of perfect, salt-clean
whelks and colus,
of seed-soul bereft
and with them
moon-white fragments of the mother-of-pearl
the busy gulls have left.
Perhaps in some far time
when I am changed
(and joined to life-blood of the still impenitent sea)
some aging, shell-shocked child
will visit me.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Tagging people, continued

...on Blogger, you can surf random blogs by clicking on 'next blog' in the upper right-hand corner. So I've found a few more bloggers whom I'm thinking about tagging.

First, there's Jason in Singapore, whose "Mission in Life is to enable common folks to retire richer and younger through consistent profits from Option Trading in the US market": http://sharemarketcomments.blogspot.com/. (To each his own.) Then there's Buenoman, who has a new mission in life, "to make our society less dependent on computers": http://odyssey2stars.blogspot.com/2006/05/my-new-mission-in-life.html. (I personally prefer tilting at windmills.) There's also Southern Fried Girl, who uses her blog to spew hate: http://twistedlifeofmine.blogspot.com/2006/05/i-fucking-hate-her.html, and Sheri, who uses her blog to save the world from fat and other disgusting things (and sell her book): http://donateyourweight.blogspot.com/. And James, who seems to have a fetish for floors and bad jokes: http://thanxforvisiting.blogspot.com/.

I could go on and on. The point I'm trying to make, though, is just that there aren't always kindred souls available that you can ask to fill out an online questionnaire about refrigerators, and purses, and such. But what the hey--I had fun.


Okay. I've been tagged.

That kind of thing makes me feel really old. Recently I was supposed to make some "bling bling" earrings for a swap. I had no idea what that meant. A friend's 35-ish daughter described her boss's son as a "metrosexual". At that point I was sure I was in the twilight zone.

I asked Lisa, the wonderful artist who "tagged" me, what it meant. She said she wasn't sure, but she thought I was supposed to answer the questions she just answered in her blog, and then tag five other people.

I'm not sure I know five people to tag, but here goes. First the questions.

Okay, first: five items in my refrigerator.

1. Fage Greek yogurt, which I highly recommend, especially if you don't like yogurt.
2. Benecol cholesterol-inhibiting margarine-like spread.
3. Real butter (which I put on the real food, such as popcorn).
4. Wilma's Italian soup. Want the recipe?
5. Ugh! What the hell is that?

Five items in my closet:

1. A lot of clothes that will never, ever fit me again.
2. A Scrabble game, for use if I should grow back a large number of brain cells.
3. A huge sheet of Arches 300 lb. cold-pressed paper (Luna, my girl kitty, eats paper, and I'd prefer she stick to the cheap stuff)
4. Awards I got when I retired from my job (I really should put those up; I do appreciate them)
5. Sheets that don't fit any of the beds in the house.

Five items in my Purse:

1. Rolaids
2. Xanax
3. 17 pens
4. A parking ticket that needs to be paid SOON
5. Old-fashioned, gen-you-wine handkerchiefs

Five items in my car:

1. Rocks (Portland brownstone, Manchester arkose, quartz from everywhere)
2. Chinese restaurant menus
3. Amazingly, my registration and insurance card
4. Sunflower seeds
5. Toothpicks

Five people I tag:

Now this is where it gets tricky. My friend Carrie is a good sport; she'll do it. By the way, she found out today she got into graduate school! She will be an awesome sarcastic teacher. Okay, that's one.

Do I have any friends, you wonder? Well, I mentioned Carrie...Lisa, who tagged me, has already taken all the artists who blog, and the other people I know who blog are a Connecticut herbalist and my childhood friend Pat's 20-year-old son, who probably would think I lost my mind if I tagged him...especially since he's never met me. I suppose I could just pick people I don't know...that might actually be fun. There is, for example, the fan site for Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai, who did that bizarre movie based on the Jane Austen novel: http://bollywood-aishwarya-rai.blogspot.com/; a site called "Two Minutes for Hooking", which, contrary to what you might be thinking, is actually about crocheting: http://twoforhooking.blogspot.com/; sites which look like little boxes, unless you've downloaded the Swahili or Albanian language pack: http://shadowhawk81.blogspot.com/; young people's sites that start out with sentences such as "OH MY GOD! I HAVE LIKE, REALLY MARVELOUS NEWS!!!": http://camiaaa.blogspot.com/;
and the blogs created specifically to showcase really cute kids: http://collinthompson.blogspot.com/.

Hmm. I'll have to think about this. More later.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


There is a lady in our quiet town
who likes to board a ledge, twelve stories up,
bring something like high drama to a day of traffic cops,
then be cajoled back down.
Who knows but it's an old-brain infant need
like pablum for the screaming infant's mouth
or shark's
for bloody feed.
Imagine Mother at her mother's breast
and mouths to limp or frozen dugs
back centuries in time
before a word could turn that reflex
into rhyme.
And all those old, old lovers, husbands and wives,
are like a thick, loud plague of locusts.
One can hardly greet the blossom of new love
without remembering the flame
of that engorged first crocus.
Who chooses poison for his final meal
may simply crave for certainty--
for God-filled time--
and in that human zeal
be sure and ready
just to close the deal.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Poetry and our language

I was one of those college students (way back when) that the professors loved and other students hated. It wasn't that I just spoon-fed the professor what he or she wanted to hear; what I did was to set two viewpoints, the professor's and mine, opposite one another, acknowledge ways in which each was superior and each inferior. I argued for my point with both passion and appropriate humility, and never put down the professor's take on a certain book, play, or poem unless he was a jerk. And one did meet jerks among the faculty at my alma mater, the University of Connecticut.

I really enjoyed all the trappings of language and the study of language. I took an independent study in the Anglo-Saxon language (aka Old English) and actually tried my hand at Anglo-Saxon poetry writing. All the native Anglo-Saxon speakers really love it, but I could get any ordinary English speakers to give it a second look. Eventually I started using the alliterative form with modern English diction. Samhain Prayer, in the previous post, is an example of that usage.

Well, okay. I lied. There are no native Anglo-Saxon speakers. And since I'm not one either, I confess I was writing in modern English from the beginning.

Anyway, it's lovely rhythm, and I'm not sure why no one uses it anymore. Perhaps I'll try to write some more poetry. "Ladies and Gentleman, I'd like to introduce May Terry. She is a British-American woman from Connecticut who is interested in the roots of her language back before the watershed period known as the great vowel shift." If vowels hadn't shifted, we would all sound like a bunch of guttural animals trying to clear their throats. Politics would be a mess--a bigger mess, I mean. We would be at war over language, which at least would have a better chance of remaining bloodless than what our president is doing.

Enough silliness for tonight. I'm going to sleep. Namaste.



Lord, lying, Lady,
crone of coming clay,
hear me, here, at
death's door and in his
dark demanding.
Fields fallow, now,
in fullness of the first frost
and last leaving,
heart heavy in the
bleak and biting bane
of green, gone, grieving.
Be reborn in blessing
of ingathered hay,
break in brightness
on the edge
of dying day.


Bag Lady, a new ACEO

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fortune Cookie: It is a nice day.

This is my entry for the Small Format Art eBay group's monthly theme week. The theme is masks, and the title of my piece is 'The Mask of Self-Deception', something I, of course, know nothing about. I put a price of $2.99 on it on eBay. It was fun to do.

Well, someone's been reading my blog, anyway. A woman named Pat Jacques, formerly Beal, whom I lived next to all through my childhood, emailed me, having somehow found me through this blog, I guess. It was a little startling to see her email come in; it's been so many years since I've seen her--around 15, I guess. I haven't heard back from her yet, but I can't wait to hear what's happened in her life. Most of us have a few twists and turns, I guess.

A couple of other exciting things have happened in the past week, one good, one bad. The good thing is that a woman who's on two of my Yahoo email lists posted that she was having her first solo show at Windham Arts. I thought, could there be two? So I emailed her, and, sure enough, it's the Windham Arts on main street in Willi, and she lives in the area. She invited me down to the gallery Friday, when she would be covering it for the afternoon. So I went.

She had some great stuff, but the thing that surprised me was that I didn't think any of it was absolutely beyond my capabilities. She herself had only started working in art about 3 or 4 years ago. She was very nice and very encouraging. I left there all fired up and completed (well, almost) a piece that had been stagnating for six weeks. I'm pleased with it, too, which is always a good thing.

The bad thing is that I arrived at my therapist's house this morning to find that Pat and Cathy had just themselves arrived home from the hospital. Pat was driving into the sun, which was flickering in her eyes, and she had a grand mal seizure. It wasn't her first, but she hadn't had any in a long time. Now she'll probably have to go back on Depakote, which she stopped taking because it exacerbated her osteoporosis. She's 75 and very healthy, but that's still a little scary. She's just a great woman and I've grown very fond of her.

I'm up and down and all over the place. Haven't been this labile for a while. Partly it's from hearing from my ex that my son is not being well-treated in Hartford Correctional. He's had a jaw abscess now for several months, and he's not being appropriately medicated or adequately treated. They're also stalling on getting him the physical that will clear the way for his transfer to Lebanon Pines. The trip that the PAIMI advisory council made last week to interview Garner inmates convinces me more and more that DOC and the state in general view prisoners as subhuman, not worth adequate food or medical and psychiatric treatment. Adam's father has hired an attorney to see if they can be made to shape up a bit. I'm very tempted to give the commissioner an earful. It was clear the day she came to the PAIMI Council meeting that she views us as pains in the ass. I don't have a problem with that. I'll be very happy to live up to her idea of me.

I think I'm going to write a book, if I have enough time left. It's all coming together. Annie Dillard mindset, my own illustrations with some of John's photos. Since there are many chemo-induced blank spots in my memory, it'll have to be vignettes, short stories from my life and the lives of my family and others close to me. I might use the F word. Hmmm.