Archive for July, 2012

The View from Mars

July 24th, 2012

I have a friend who is viewing this U.S. election season from in and around Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia.  I wonder what it looks like to her.

It has been decades since I watched television news for anything other than immediately breaking events such as the September 11 attacks.  Television seems to me to be the most worthless of our “information” sources, with the spurious immediacy of its imagery and the breathless shallowness of its verbal content.  Somewhat over four years ago, I dropped my subscription to the Burlington Free Press, our “local” Gannett franchise.  It wasn’t telling me what I wanted to know about the place I live, at least not $140/year worth.  I got my information about current events primarily from listening to public radio, reading the New York Review of Books and our genuinely local weekly newspaper Seven Days, and surfing among half a dozen blogs.  Especially with the blogs, I found it possible to feed an almost obsessive interest in the minutiae of politics.  How dare John McCain say this or that.  What advantage did Obama lose by using one verb rather than another.  This poll says that, but it is less reliable than that poll, which says this.  Outrage outrage outrage.  At last, when I found myself screaming daily at my car radio during the drive to work, I realized that for my mental health I had to back off.

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Charlie and Butch

July 8th, 2012

I wrote this poem back in 2005, the year after the official end of the marriage alluded to in it, a little over twenty years after my  period of cohabitation with Charlie Cat, and only a couple of years after I briefly was Butch’s house guest. 

When I first moved here, to the spot on the floor
no bigger than a coffin, of Stephen and Deb’s living room –
no mattress, bare dark wood, shiny slats I laid
my six feet of closed cell foam pad on –

temporary digs until I found a place
of more permanence for the woman of more
permanence for whom I’d moved here, future mother
of our kids – although they barely twinkled in the dark back then –

Deborah’s Charlie Cat had skin cancer, bloody blobs sprouting
out from his face that left trails of droplets smeared
here and there across the otherwise empty except for dust
hard field where I slept,

and every night when I laid me down
alone I feared his company, the touch of his warm
fluid deformity while I slept, unknowing,
that could be on me when I woke, crusting,

although in plain and boring fact that never happened.
Now Charlie has a successor, the vigorously named Butch.
He’s nineteen.  His left hind leg last weekend
seemed a little stiff, and he lay coiled not like a spring

but more like a frayed old piece of rope
most of the afternoon I visited, and at first I hesitated,
when he lifted his head and blinked those old slow eyes
out over the edge of the couch, his forelegs stiffly erect,

supporting, to close my hands around that fragile rib cage
and hoist its package of breathing lungs and beating heart and – whatever –
off the futon up into the oil heated forced air nowhere,
scruffy old thing, and lower him ‘til his paws touched ground.