Caveat: Poem #1400 “An excursion in the boat”

A fleet of otters
Took possession of waters
Just east of San Juan
We saw some whales there
In the small cove at Black Beach
Diving and spouting
An eagle was perched
On a stone near an alder
Supervising things 
Oceanic swells
Crept up Ursua Channel 
Tasting all the boats 
Jellyfish sliced by
Reflecting sporadic light
Through the greenish murk
Some white bellied ducks
Swam in lazy formation
Amid stray sparkles
The surging sea rolled
At San Ignacio's south
Gnawing fine gray rocks
The sun hid itself
The clouds made intricate plans
To send us their rain
Another eagle
Floated above the whitecaps
Then knelt; caught a fish
No fish saw our hooks
Instead we dreamed about them
The sea sang its depths

– a collection of pseudo-haiku forming stanzas in a longer poem.

Caveat: Bleaugh

I’ve been a bit bleaugh, these last few days. I suppose that is evident reading between the lines of this blog thingy.
It’s a feeling of low creativity, and not much inclined to solve problems or progress on any of my projects.
Such as it goes. Arthur stuggles with his computer, daily. I have my own obsessions and struggles with my computer work, but they involve less cussing and yelling and violently slamming the table than he prefers, and more just moodily contemplating my stuckness. I’m a bit stuck with some configuration stuff on my servers. They’re working, but I’m seeing reliability issues I can’t figure out or solve. So I’m just plodding along.

Caveat: Art #31

This is something I drew around 1995. I messed around with crayons a lot – because that’s when Jeffrey had a lot of crayons around, and I would join him and Michelle in drawing sessions. This is just random daydreams and objects, but I like the “Mayan television” motif.

Caveat: Tree #510

This is the tree that was in flames last August. I think, now, that it will not survive.
picture[daily log: walking, 2km; boat-driving, 30nm]

Caveat: Gone fishin’

Art gazes out toward home, because no fish where hungry for hooks today. We got a few ugly red snappers – which is good whitefish but bony. But no halibut nor salmon. In the picture we were at the (not-so-) auspiciously-named Shipwreck Reef.
Earlier we’d been along the east side of San Juan Island and then down around Tranquil Point and Estrella Bay.
The clouds were nice.

Caveat: Art #29

I did this ink drawing of the house I grew up in, in Arcata – typically known among family and friends as the “A Street House” – because it’s on A Street. That’s why, when someone asks, “What street did you grow up on?” I can say with a high degree of specificity that I grew up on a street.
The drawing is not from life, but rather from a photograph. Further, it’s a quite old photograph. My recollection is that the photograph was taken in the 1940’s or 1950’s, before my parents bought the house in 1965, and probably before their predecessors bought it too. The house was built in 1909 or 1911 (I can’t remember which) by a man named Cosmo Stiglich, one of the many Croatian-Americans to settle in East Arcata before WW2. My understanding is that the house stayed in the Stiglich family until the 1950’s, when the Hendrickson’s bought it, who later sold it to my parents.
Anyway, I guess that would be one of the Stiglichs’ little Model A Coupe in front of the house.

Caveat: its heart ticks perfectly unfretfully among the trees

Poem with No Children In It
Instead, the poem is full of competent trees,
sturdy and slow-growing. The trees live on a wide
clean lawn full of adults. All night, the adults grow
older without somersaulting or spinning. They grow
old while thinking about themselves. They sleep well
and stay out late, their nerves coiled neatly inside
their grown bodies. They don’t think about children
because children were never there to begin with.
The children were not killed or stolen. This is absence,
not loss. There is a world of difference: the distance
between habitable worlds. It is the space that is
unbearable. The poem is relieved not to have to live
in it. Instead, its heart ticks perfectly unfretfully
among the trees. The children who are not in the poem
do not cast shadows or spells to make themselves
appear. When they don’t walk through the poem, time
does not bend around them. They are not black holes.
There are already so many nots in this poem, it is already
so negatively charged. The field around the poem
is summoning children and shadows and singularities
from a busy land full of breathing and mass. My non-
children are pulling children away from their own
warm worlds. They will arrive before I can stop them.
When matter meets anti-matter, it annihilates into
something new. Light. Sound. Waves and waves
of something like water. The poem’s arms are so light
they are falling upward from the body. Why are you crying?
- Claire Wahmanholm (American poet)

This poem was published just yesterday, in the poem-a-day publication I receive via email. It affected me more than most.
The poet says she wrote the poem as a “thought experiment.” She asked, “Could I, just over the course of a poem, inhabit a parallel universe where I never had children?”
So why did this poem affect me? Because it struck me as the inverse of an exercise I’ve engaged in many times: can I inhabit a parallel universe where I did have children? I remember a very, very vivid dream I had, a week or two out of the ICU after my cancer surgery. I wrote about it here. The dream was brief but full of “back story” – within the dream. It was like living an entire, parallel life – a life in which in which I had children. I awoke heartbroken. This poem invoked in me a recollection of that dream and its psychological aftermath. I’d call it one of my “top ten” dreams of my entire life.

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