Monday, May 31, 2010

Eulogy? James Joyce on water. From *Ulysses*



The poet John Krick drew my attention to this passage from the final chapter of Joyce's Ulysses. The above photo is a before picture of the Gulf of Mexico.


What in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier, returning to the range, admire?

Its universality: its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level: its vastness in the ocean of Mercator's projection: its unplumbed profundity in the Sundam trench of the Pacific exceeding 8000 fathoms: the restlessness of its waves and surface particles visiting in turn all points of its seaboard: the independence of its units: the variability of states of sea: its hydrostatic quiescence in calm: its hydrokinetic turgidity in neap and spring tides: its subsidence after devastation: its sterility in the circumpolar icecaps, arctic and antarctic: its climatic and commercial significance: its preponderance of 3 to 1 over the dry land of the globe: its indisputable hegemony extending in square leagues over all the region below the subequatorial tropic of Capricorn: the multisecular stability of its primeval basin: its luteofulvous bed: its capacity to dissolve and hold in solution all soluble substances including millions of tons of the most precious metals: its slow erosions of peninsulas and islands, its persistent formation of homothetic islands, peninsulas and downwardtending promontories: its alluvial deposits: its weight and volume and density: its imperturbability in lagoons and highland tarns: its gradation of colours in the torrid and temperate and frigid zones: its vehicular ramifications in continental lakecontained streams and confluent oceanflowing rivers with their tributaries and transoceanic currents, gulfstream, north and south equatorial courses: its violence in seaquakes, waterspouts, Artesian wells, eruptions, torrents, eddies, freshets, spates, groundswells, watersheds, waterpartings, geysers, cataracts, whirlpools, maelstroms, inundations, deluges, cloudbursts: its vast circumterrestrial ahorizontal curve: its secrecy in springs and latent humidity, revealed by rhabdomantic or hygrometric instruments and exemplified by the well by the hole in the wall at Ashtown gate, saturation of air, distillation of dew: the simplicity of its composition, two constituent parts of hydrogen with one constituent part of oxygen: its healing virtues: its buoyancy in the waters of the Dead Sea: its persevering penetrativeness in runnels, gullies, inadequate dams, leaks on shipboard: its properties for cleansing, quenching thirst and fire, nourishing vegetation: its infallibility as paradigm and paragon: its metamorphoses as vapour, mist, cloud, rain, sleet, snow, hail: its strength in rigid hydrants: its variety of forms in loughs and bays and gulfs and bights and guts and lagoons and atolls and archipelagos and sounds and fjords and minches and tidal estuaries and arms of sea: its solidity in glaciers, icebergs, icefloes: its docility in working hydraulic millwheels, turbines, dynamos, electric power stations, bleachworks, tanneries, scutchmills: its utility in canals, rivers, if navigable, floating and graving docks: its potentiality derivable from harnessed tides or watercourses falling from level to level: its submarine fauna and flora (anacoustic, photophobe), numerically, if not literally, the inhabitants of the globe: its ubiquity as constituting 90 percent of the human body: the noxiousness of its effluvia in lacustrine marshes, pestilential fens, faded flowerwater, stagnant pools in the waning moon.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Story: She Must Be Killed


Published in Houston Literary Review, 2008. HLR's archives are currently incomplete so I add this here. Oh, how I wish I could detail the exact emotions and persons behind this story. -- Sarah Sarai, May 2010


No getting round it. It’s the hair clips, shiny metal girl-clips, springy, worn by a woman my age. She must be killed.

How to do it. Here, at the bowling alley?

Am hauling kid around this day and have dragged him to the Up The Alley, his request. Okay so you don’t really haul someone in a wheelchair, which kid is, which was why he’s in town, to see doctor who studies particular type of disease so much, the doc’s a regular Lourdes for the stricken. I don’t imply the doc does the trick, but exerts a real pull on certain kinds of persons, persons with certain types of diseases, i.e. kid I am hauling.

Soon I’ll fill you in on Miss Thing with girl-clips in her hair, the one I long to mutilate maim and be prime mover of her last breath, but let me say this: I draw so-thin line dimly visible, at pushing kids around. This one is the son of a person-I-know who transports to kid Mytown USA once a year to get knees tapped, chest inspected, platelets withdrawn by aforementioned Our Highly Paid Medical Professional of Lourdes. Then person-I-know turns kid over to me to bond while person-blah-blah does Our Highly Paid Medical Professional of Lourdes knows what.




Clip-woman. Still thin as a plastic shopping bag blown across half-empty street by gust, is she. Been a couple a years since I’ve seen her. Clips are new; she is pretending she is winsome, 24/7. That birth-to-death, girlhood is a universal, inalienable and perennial privilege of us, the sweetly hormoned gender.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Emmeline Pankhurst, Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan. You’ve seen their likenesses. Notice any sprightly placed metal clips? Not even Gloria, who wore bunny ears.

Hey, Lady (thinks I). What’re we trying to prove here?


Kid and I have managed to show right after youth league has up and gone. Bumpers are still on either side of the lanes, to keep a ball rolling on its rightful spread of awesomely laminated bowling alley alley-wood so a player won’t attract humiliation like certain men of medicine attract a particular kind of patient, that being the type that’s sick.

I muse, Can I force the gal with the jaunty clips, Christ Almighty, she has five of those things in her lank brown tresses which would be sad enough dangling unaccompanied, to do herself in and save me the effort? A girl-girl would stop at two metals then build on look with shaped barrettes in pastel plastics of animals.

I feel hot as dog in a street stand steam bin and red with shame. I mean kid in wheelchair will live or the will die. No one can put that on me. Fate’s fingered Dr. Might As Well Be Sacred Spa in France for that. But the planet, for its spiritual survival, needs metal clips on chicks of a certain age like I need a Saturday-night special, with the numbers filed off. Illogical, I think. Because the answer sheet to the above reads: No (Full sentence version reading: Our legendarily doomed Earth has no need for women past prime’s rusted hair clips.)

And: Yes. (I could use a lethal weapon, right about now.)

Girly-girl-no-more’s already noticed me (who doesn’t spot kid in a wheelchair at a bowling alley). I guarantee she believes herself to be original Miss Nurture, just like she believes herself to be timeless. Diane Keaton wouldn’t wear lil’ clips in her hair, and she’s been given a whatever-you-want pass through old age.

At our former workplace, being a university, Miss Miss (the broad I really dislike) stuck her nose at me when word went round I talked back to boss, being a department chair who staged a coup after her predecessor dropped dead walking up a hill. You put it together. I’m no longer teaching.

Department Chair was guttural rambling on and over smutty mouth tongue/teeth about benefits for university if there was a salary roll back for part-timers. What’re ya gonna do? philosophized Sheena of the Hair Clips, thereby answering musical question, Do sheep study ethics? Nope. But sheep glare at speaker-uppers like me. Shut up, they glare. Who asked you, they glare.

You shut up, I thought back. Baa baa, I thought over airwaves static as her skanky do. How do you live with yourself, I thought querulously as if word querulously were arrow headed for numskull her.

So now:

“You gotta die.” My tone, fisting the portal of her ear, is sinister-to-freaky and provides me genuine opportunity to utilize ‘blanches’ which is what she does. I point five times, springy silver clip, silver clip, silver clip, silver clip, silver clip. No guesswork needed. I’m good at what I do.

Her eyes fill and she runs out of the bowling alley, which she’d only visited to emphasize her I’m up for anything attitude, plus, it turns out, buy balls for the Department Chair. The little, little downturned lips. Tweet.

People catch on when ready. I dry-wash hands, one against other, it’s quite the Biblical reference not to mention Lady Macbeth’s storied lack of adequate cleansing in her mans’ castle qua home.

Kid hauls bowling ball on little wheelchair lap, oh joy; x and my pulse has slowed although I feel off. Hell.

Woman qua I-Wanna-Be-Part-Of-The-18-to-25-Market is scrambling in purse for mace or car keys. I pursue. Truck lumbers by.

I push. Screech and bye bye. Dash back to kid. You can’t leave a kid in a wheelchair alone in a bowling alley.


Sarah Sarai, reprinted from The Houston Literary Review, February 2008

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Poem: Something's Falling


Something’s Falling

Because, and here’s my point,
because now, because loosened
by small destructions, because
shrapnel of civilization down
dizzy slow, because a little hand
drowning. Something’s falling.
Because empires of our beliefs
could inherit us promised days
but something’s falling. Now,
because we summon armies and
thugs unoriginal, barter a future
placid for a present spooked,
something’s falling because weary
apples weary, over and again.

Because only history supports
as we rant at kids on stick-

trembling legs, weep on fallow
chests, join neighbors one to
a four-cornered sheet stretched
to break the inevitable, study
a sky’s hindsight: Should it have
loosened more rain, moisting drops
to shimmer oily in sun, adorned
itself nirvanic swim-pool
aquamarines it’s marveled over
or painted indigo paisleys of a Hindu
bride across its breathy canopy?

Because what else? Recode
the Rosetta of history? Or will
love to our ones as cool heat
lifts soothing to the viridian
moss out of reach but scudding
close still, because the drowning
little hand, little hand, can touch it.

____


Sarah Sarai. First published in The Threepenny Review and included in The Future Is Happy.

Earth to Arizona & co.: The last legal immigrants came along the Bering land bridge

Earth to Arizona. The last time there were legal immigrants to America was when peoples of Mongolia, along with elk and other mammals, crossed over the Bering land bridge to Alaska. This was during the last ice age or major glaciation (Wisconsin glaciation). This was a long, long, long time ago.

Let's see. Who else has come to "America"? Well, there were the Conquistadors and priests, who were responsible for genocide of over 60,000,000 – sixty million – native peoples. Those not killed were enslaved or force-converted. Um, the Pilgrims and other religious seekers were immigrants. Not legal immigrants, just people who wanted more freedom. Which they got.

By stealing land. By organizing a government which effectively destroyed a way the way of life for all the legal occupants of this continent. Killed monstrous numbers, and forced the survivors onto reservations. The Pilgrims developed into skilled capitalists.

Oh, and America grew strong through one of the cruelest examples of slavery in world history.

What the hell does anyone, dear Arizona, with the barest smidgen of historical understanding think he or she is doing by declaring anyone else an illegal immigrant?

Stupidity and ignorance, your name is right-wing tea party, Sarah Palin, Fox news, etc., etc., etc.

Read a history book and stop flaunting your ignorance.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Poem: With Monk on the Radio

Salvador Dali:  Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bumblebee Around
a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening


Here's an incidental poem of mine, unpublished. Love, by the way, is an incident, is it not.


With Monk on the Radio

She is back to being a woman.
Don’t grieve for the imp
in another dimension where love
is not to be begged for.

Can you imagine?

See the beacon in her heart
as she steers her tempestuous brilliance,
hears wild Gabriel’s trumpet.


Wings reach from a staff to her burst
pomegranate soul whose crimson seeds
she gathers, one now, and now another.




_____
Sarah Sarai, December 2008

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Satisfiction, Unemployment, Bizarre-iocity of Family; Fabulous-ity of Niece/Nephew Situation

I am unemployed. I am also a depressive who has to stay on her meds., or life will deja vu itself in a cumbersome way.

Why I would share this with whomever in the world wide web chances on my little blog, is beyond me, but there is something oddly, perhaps merely momentarily, healing in writing here. Is "healing" is the correct word? It could be that I derive "satisfaction" from blogging about the personal. Healing and Satisfaction are not the same.

Sidebar: Poor typing led me to "Satisfiction." Hah!

I had lunch with relatives last week. My niece was in town to help my great-niece dehydrate and store belongings for the summer. When college starts up in Fall, there will be rehydration.

There Will Be Rehydration, starring Five Suitcases, Much Vintage Clothing, Textbooks, Some Velvet with a guest appearance from The Shag Rug.

We met in Bronxville, oddly. Oddly because that is where my grad. school is located, sort of (as with all colleges, it isn't part of the town), and I didn't much enjoy grad. school. But it was quite convenient for a family sit down. We found an Italian restaurant, apropos of sit downs. (No, my great-niece is not going to SLC.)

Let me summarize relevant comments: My parents and sisters are bizarre--no one is being critical. We are. The reasons are genetic, nurture, clash of the titans-y, astrologically induced, and so on.

I know people who come from childhoods of satanic ritual. I know people who've had the mob after them. In spite of the fact that my sisters and I weren't beaten, and interference with our person wasn't global or constant, as was the case with many people I know, we exhibit singularly freaky, asocial, intense behavior. Four daughters. One had kids. That's just for starters.

My ivy league, full-scholarship sister couldn't work in an office and so did a highly routine and low-paying job in her apartment. Routine and low-paying describes Harvey Pekar's job as a hospital file clerk--and he's a deservedly well-known writer and personality. There is honor in all work, yes. She wasn't happy, however. Just coping.

My nieces and nephews had the good grace and sense to mix up the gene pool. Their father is African American from the South. The mix cut right through the Swedish-Russian-Polish dark and paranoid neuroses. Am I racist?

As a family, we are all witty, open minded and big hearted. All of us. But my oldest sister and myself can cut people out of our lives as if all that separated each member of the human race was jello and our discomfort a hot knife.

My next oldest sister, now deceased, the mother of my niece and nephew, though a great mother and business woman, was insanely frantic in various paranoias. Discretion restrains me, here.

The sister closest to me is an artist (composer) though for her, as for me, it took decades for the art--always present and witnessed by others--to fully declare itself. She's the one who got me selling m.j. when I was in high school. That's not so bad. I realize I don't want to critize or explicate more.

I'm not beginning to demonstrate how odd we are and so be it. Talking with my niece and great-niece--just about the only people who know the whole family (since I live 3,000 miles away from childhood geography) was comforting. Yes, I am crazy but I'm not the only one. And sometimes this or that niece or nephew acts like my mother or father or sisters. They know where the rabid intensity comes from.

I have been sinking into a moroseness over the past few months. I haven't wanted to write about that here; haven't written much of anything here. Some of the moroseness comes from being unemployed and absolutely despairing of getting work. (I have white hair. I am pudgy. I am hyper-verbal. I am an odd woman.) Some from the flirtation with depression. (And my trendy Vitamin D deficiency.)

Change a mood move a muscle, as they say. They are not wrong. Right now the muscles being moved are in my hands and fingers.

Anyway, I'm tired of myself (for now). So I'm ending this entry without making an effort at tying things up. Writing, poetry, sunlight, all weather, jokes with my friends at the various bodegas near my apartment, friends, art, the occasional success (like getting a poem or story accepted and subsequently published) cheers me.

Knowing I am connected to these wonderful nieces and nephews cheers me but more, it is a privilege.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Poem: I'm Never Worried About What I'm Worried About

For a few weeks in 2008 I had frequent phone conversations with a friend convalescing in another state. He would talk about his day, his psychiatrist, his operation both coming and going. And once about his daily trip to the grocery store, and how shoppers paid no attention to each other. The insight isn't original, but he was in a town of under 100,000, not my 8 million-plus N.Y.C. Where, I'd like to say, people do have short, pleasant conversations with strangers all the time. I don't know if my gloss adds to the poem or demystifies what should be mystifying. What I really like here is my aside--about my fiction.

I'm Never Worried About What I'm Worried About


A cherry tree leans into your leg
becoming.
Households must join.
Truth is one hot shield.

You know, many of my short stories
are about a woman wanting to love
and while no one in the story knows
they’re old news (Keats’ “Ode”)
(the urn itself) (the lavender pump’s apogee)
they know.

“Clouds were thin”
you reported last night
“and wispy.” In a grocery store
no one tuned into the symphony.

Cherry trees’ temporal blossoms are
fragile (See STRONG – Roget’s II)
and strum George Harrison’s guitar.
I’m quite sure I hear a civilized minuet.

First published in Fifth Wednesday Journal.

Included in my collecton, The Future Is Happy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

poem: Monarch of the Desert

Monarch of the Desert

We erect a throne for
our most high Empress of the Dry.
She’s got flaming hair,
a real scorcher, and hot potato eyes
purveying our unworthy hoisting
and hammering of tumbleweed.
She’s pretty light, our Sorceress,
who bids saguaros hokey pokey.

Mirage or not, tales of healing palms
lure pilgrims to our vastland.
The springs of Baden Baden?
Miss Piggy Bubblebath soothes as good.
No, it is the bleating sun which
waltzes away particles of woe.
Her Majesty’s royal buttocks alight upon
our feeble rolling chair as suppliants
line up: the tattooed, people birds
who can’t STOP MOLTING!
The eternally diminishing.

Imagine knowing minute-to-minute
that minute-to-minute you’re less
than you think you are.

All beseech Queenie to Halt Manufacture
of Teeny Weeny Envelopes
in Which Lives Are Sequentially Sealed.
Her Brittleness bans Fed-Ex.


It is time to utilize the gift of fire.



from The Future Is Happy (available through Small Press Distribution, Barnes and Noble online, Amazon, Open Books in Seattle, Bluestockings Bookstore in Manhattan, Unnameable Books in Brooklyn).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Poem: No End Out of Mind; hyacinth. honeysuckle. Zig Zags. teenage agony.

I can't imagine much in the relatively simple world I come from there is nothing more exquisitely painful, and sometimes painful without the exquisite, than being a teenager.

I was of the unhappy variety, not unhappy about life itself; not nihilistic; but without the skill to work the hand I'd been dealt. And learning the body. My body.

Many of us lack that skill and hence lead interesting lives blessed, of course, by not being ordinary.

This afternoon I was at a poetry salon and read this poem. It's on my mind. I would love to reignite the spark behind this poem, written most likely in 2008. We'll see. Oh: "the goddess of 30,000 loving arms"? Another day, please. Thanks to Christine Hamm for being the spark to ignite today's reading of the poem.

No End Out of Mind

The honeysuckle pulls you so close
your mom sniffs your suspicious blouse
which doesn’t trust you or Mom
and is insane with love for
its woven fragrances.


Did you connect with the fluted and
tender bugle, with delirious darkblooming
jasmine, sweet bud of dew
and intoxication on your teenage lips
when you were a misfit rolling sex tight
in the Zig Zags?


Rose petals loosen from fingers
of the goddess of 30,000 loving arms
and fall into a separation of clouds,
heavens and genitalia.

There is no sorting genitalia,
fleshy playthings for Shiva’s lust.
All gods desire images.
The saints are graven and simple
with love of the Other.

You are a teenager dreaming,
both hands curled around nimbus
in delirium and pleasure at the brush of
a pink Persian hyacinth along your
thigh. Your besotted blouse
is proud of its place on your breasts
and their sharp cry for more.





from: The Future Is Happy (by Sarah Sarai), BlazeVOX [books].
Available through Small Press Distributon, Amazon, at bookstores including Bluestockings in Manhattan; Unnameable Books in Brooklyn; Open Books in Seattle.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Did Shakespeare Have Pet Monkeys. BPI & Halliburton. Blogging.

I have long suspected William Shakespeare housed several (interconnected and extended) families of monkeys in the old gray barn out back, there behind Playwright Alley, Stratford-on-Avon. And I am not alone in my insanity but write here only of myself.

And said monkeys were variously fed according to Mistress Shakespeare's many whims and provided with pens and quills and Elizabethan-appropriate paper. Then set to work. Day and night they scribbled.

Bananas were the joy of the Empire. The sun never set.

I know this because I had to summon the spirit of the Shakespeares' monkeys this very morning. I was called to My 3,000 Loving Arms to "approve" a comment on the Kerouac posting in April, and in my wanderings about my own blog unintentionally clicked "New Post." I thus embarked on writing this posting.

If there IS nothing new under the sun, life must have been more dreary in ye British Empire than we have previously been led to believe. And to think. Gwenyth Paltrow hadn't been born yet.

Can I detail the ways I dislike that woman? Sure but why bother. And I won't deny her skill as an actress.

Order in the court. A monkey wants to speak, and so on; not much of a threat to a monkey, is it. No wonder the sun did finally set. And thank goodness for that, as I was really tired.

The monkeys are indicating it is time for a wee bit of cuddling and nit picking. They don't seem capable of destroying generations of life and natural beauty in the Gulf of Mexico, do they? Ah, but the monkeys didn't do that.

Halliburton and BPI did. The monkeys, being willing to risk being monkeys, speak. "Shame and shame again," they say.

Our oceans are weeping. Our coastline is weeping. Fish and birds weep. Good souls weep.

Brother Shakespeare has written of the evil men and women. They end days with a sword in their vile heart. From his quill to God's ear. From God's heart to the damaged earth. Please.


(I'm glad I wrote this posting. Always say yes when you click, New Post.)