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DREAMS AND MELANCHOLY

SLANT OF THE SEASONS

SHOCK AND AWE

SEA SALT MOONcropped-night-with-moon1.jpg
MELANCHOLY IN THE PINES
ON THE CUTTING FLOOR
JE COMPRENDE
MA THE MATCHLESS
MOTHERING
DRAWN TO THE LIVING
MELANCHOLIA
SLAPPING THE DOUGH
THE GRAY LADY
THE EXHAUSTION FACTOR
GIVETH, TAKETH
PANDORA’S BOX
HIGH EXPECTATIONS
SO UPSET
CLEOPATRA
MONDAY MORNINGS WITH ROBIN HOOD

 

Slant of the seasons

DREAMS AND MELANCHOLY

I know how cliched it is to complain about winter. My winter season was fairly mild, weather-wise. I didn’t get stuck in the snow or lose my footing on the ice. My house was warm. No, it wasn’t a physically painful season, nor an especially inconvenient one as winters sometimes are. But for me, it was dark months filled with depression and torture of the psyche. All that I thought I knew about the character and content of my nation was proven wrong. Every optimistic thought, so carefully cultivated through years of self-training, was crushed under a giant weight. This is the weight of loss, the reality of watching one’s homeland turn to cruelty, to indifference, to outright hatred. To a potentially fascist state. All in the time it takes for a season to turn.

The world spins
On lies
Tilts on greed
Revolves on anger
Rotates on control
You can’t stop the mighty sun
From rising over and again
Nor the cruel seasons
From wreaking their havocs

If you think about it
Prayer is just a way
To beg forgiveness
For all the falsehood
The corruption
The violence
Manipulation
Savagery
The hurt inflicted

And the prayers are answered
But only in your head
Because, face it
Who is there to listen?
Who hears the animals d’terre?
But the world is satisfied
Dreams of heaven
That delusion
(If only good people go to heaven
It’s an empty place)

And the orb keeps spinning
The ugly rotations endure
Heaven will wait
The injured accept the slant of the seasons
And the tilt continues round

 

 

Shock and awe

DREAMS AND MELANCHOLY

I feel so down. I believe my country is being destroyed. Every day, something new. Something awful every day. Posting on Facebook does nothing to help. I’ve found those who believe in most of the same things I believe in, and I’ve discovered those who think I’m a ‘hater’ or a loudmouth or ignorant of the facts or simply stupid for protesting. No matter how much back and forth we carry on, I haven’t changed my mind on any issue, and neither has anyone else.

Some people say, just ignore the news and get back to the fun stuff, the puppies and kittens and cute babies. While I agree that one can’t be consumed with anger all the time and survive, still, how can we be silent? I think that is what went wrong in Nazi Germany. Otherwise good folks were silent, they looked away. It’s too hard to be angry all the time, and besides, it can get you noticed and then people start calling you a ‘hater’ or a ‘n##ger lover’ or a ‘Commie’ or a ‘Jew’ (in the ugliest sense) or a ‘witch’ or any other derogatory label the mob comes up with to stifle your voice.

I believe in freedom. I believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I also believe that with these freedoms comes responsibility. To try to be the best one can be. To educate oneself and to be proud of being educated. To protect the weakest of us, even the ignorant, from the mean, bullying, cruel strong. To do whatever we can to ensure that everyone enjoys the same freedoms. To treat ourselves with respect, and to give that respect to others, to other nations, and to the earth. To leave no one behind, even if that means some personal sacrifice on our part. Isn’t this what the Constitution stands for? Isn’t this what we fought the Revolution for, the Civil War for, WWI and most significantly, WWII for? To stand up and declare what is right? To protest what is wrong and fight if necessary for what is right? Why did my father and mother endure the sacrifices of war, if not to fight to guarantee our freedoms for all of us? What has happened to that noble spirit?

I don’t know. All I know is that day after day, there is more news that tears down and cuts through what progress has been made to give everyone in our country equality and freedom. There are so many strikes coming so often, I feel overwhelmed and sad in the extreme. I guess that’s the strategy – shock and awe. But this time, it’s not bombs and it’s not in a foreign land. It’s shock and awe right in our own country, targeted at the psyches of those who dared to believe that, someday soon, the only thing that could hold one back in this great country of ours would be the content of one’s character.

 

 

Melancholy in the Pines

 

DREAMS AND MELANCHOLY

Pomegranates

There is no good reason for my melancholy tonight. It just happens sometimes.

 

Melancholy in the Pines

I miss you
Umbrella pines
Pistachio trees
Green olives hanging
In front of my eyes
And cypress, so tall
And slim and graceful
An Italian dream
And the pomegranate bushes
Heavy with the fruit of Eve
Don’t take a bite
Vesuvius will open up
And swallow you
And keep you silent for eons
For two thousand years or more
And you’ll suffer for it
The gods are harsh
They’ll punish you
For being a strong and independent woman
Who knows her mind
Who wants a bite of that apple
That pomegranate apple
From that tempting tree
I can’t blame you
There is a world of temptation
In the olive branches
In the pines
There is melancholy in the pines

I miss you
Cypress trees
Unripe Greek pistachios
Waiting to burst
Pomegranate promise
Eve

 

 

On the Cutting Floor

DREAMS AND MELANCHOLY

Seriously, my character made me write it. I have no history of cutting myself. Never once thought of it until the day I wrote Chapter The Carnival in PERSEPHONE IN HELL. Tears were running down my face as I wrote the scene where Glory goes on her very first date ever. She meets Billy at the carnival which is set up in a big field across the street from her house. They have fun at first, but Glory starts to get bored with Billy. He’s handsome but not especially bright. They pass the merry go round when Glory begins to feel sick. She doesn’t know why, but a terribly disturbing feeling overtakes her. Her foot aches and she needs to sit down. Billy escorts her to the bleachers in the edge of the shadows.

“He pulled her toward him and kissed her with an ugly impatient passion. “Stop it, Billy! Cut it out!” she demanded. He wouldn’t listen. He held her with one hand while the other pushed its way under her shirt to her bra. He shoved his hand under it and felt her naked breast. Glory tried to pull back. I didn’t mean for anything like this to happen. I’m not ready for a boy like Billy.

She slapped at Billy’s face, and as she did, he suddenly let go. “No broad is worth this!” he snarled. She fell onto the bleacher seat. She hit her back and tumbled down the steel steps to the ground. She lay on the damp dark grass…When he was gone, Glory pulled herself up off the ground and slowly limped through the field, past the diamond, past the carnival, past the gate, and home.

She couldn’t remember ever feeling worse. Couldn’t recall a time when she felt less like the queen she had always imagined herself to be. She closed the bathroom door, and with a dull razor she found in the drawer, cut fifteen slashes on her thighs and on her breasts. One slash for each year of my failure of a life.”

As a writer, I was in shock. My character Glory had her own mind about how she wanted the story to be told, and I had no choice but to follow. I can tell you that until I actually wrote those last two lines, I had no idea where the story would take me. What the subconscious can dredge up when allowed free rein!

 

Je Comprende


DREAMS AND MELANCHOLY

birds-on-high-wires

I get it. Finally, I understand. Je comprende.

The upscale, modern, sleek term is epiphany. But I find that just too fancy for me. I’m not a fancy person. I’m plain, I’m not high falutin’, I’m not zen. I’m average, common even.

Dawn breaks over marble head, that’s what people used to say. Do they still? Duh, how stupid can I be? I’ve got a head filled with hard rock, stiff and unabsorbing. Inflexible. Solid. Dense. Dull. Dull as a doorknob, the old saying went. Do people still use that phrase?

That’s it, that’s the news. What I finally understand. What has taken me all these years to comprehend. The truth. That is, there is nothing in particular that is special about me. Nothing unique. I’m a common sort. Slightly above average intelligence, below average in stature, average in every other aspect.

For all my wondering if there is greatness in me, years of searching and questioning, angst and despair, the simple answer is no. Not feeling sorry for myself, just stating the reality. If there were anything incomparable about me, that specialness would have shown itself by now. Logic dictates. I could zen it up, but one can’t escape one’s realities, however tempting it may be to try. Best not to continue to fool oneself. Got to face the truth.

What is real? What is my reality? I’ve lived a life that has no distinct meaning. Nothing exceptional, nothing extraordinary, nothing worth getting excited over. With apologies to my family, since obviously they are important and meaningful. But take out procreation and raising of children, which is in essence an animal act of instinct, what is left? There is no reason to gravitate to me, no reason to find me in a crowd, no motivation to choose my company. No reason to love me more than any other. I am simply here, one in a crowd of billions.

I won’t fight it anymore. I surrender. I finally understand. Je comprende.

 

 

Ma the Matchless

DREAMS AND MELANCHOLY

Oh, I had the mother of all mothers, had I. A truly brilliant, complex, and often exasperating woman of a mother. Glory in my novel PERSEPHONE IN HELL fared no differently. How did we get such compellingly different and difficult mothers?

Certainly it wasn’t of our choosing. What girl would pick a mother who never cleaned the house, who stayed in bed all day reading sci-fi and smoking? Who sat in the kitchen on a hot summer’s afternoon in her underwear reading the New York Times? Who could argue you into the ground on Vietnam, Richard Nixon, and most other subjects? That was my mother. The Ma who would be Cleopatra, floating down the Nile on her barge, purposely all alone, with no kids to drive her crazy. Here she is in her bedroom looking for something to read while Glory is humiliated at the thought of her messy home.

“Joyce wasn’t exactly what you’d call a good homemaker. She felt above it; that cleaning was perhaps meant for someone else but not her. She was comfortable in her mess and didn’t care what anyone else thought about it. She wasn’t bothered that her children were too ashamed of their home to bring friends to it. She’d say, “If they’re really your friends, they won’t care what your house looks like.”

Though technically I have to admit that you have a point, Ma, it’s mortifying to live in such filth. The pits. Really, hell on earth. I rarely bring a friend home. Not even Camille. Why don’t you notice?

Joyce stretched and spotted a neglected title. She dug it out of the pile. Ah, she discovered, “Le Morte d’ Arthur” – how did that get in here? She much preferred the future to the past. Joyce didn’t believe in chivalry, knights in shining armor, silly legends like King Arthur, or a holy grail. Hell, she thought, there’s absolutely nothing holy about this world.”

Ma the Matchless has been gone almost 25 years now. Just this past Mother’s Day, I realized how much I miss her. I miss arguing with her. I miss the woman that I as an adult was only beginning to know when she up and died. Teenage Glory doesn’t know it yet, but someday she’ll remember Ma with love. She will forgive her mother’s transgressions. She’ll take pride in having a mother who was anything but common.