Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout


The End of Creation

Sophie just tasted my tea, but I'm still drinking it.

I have a new poetry manuscript, but I haven't heard back from the friend who was going to nominate me which is the whole reason I created this manuscript and the deadline was today. I wonder if she made the deadline? She's way back east and it's too late to phone and I'm too shy, anyway. I hope I get email from her tomorrow. Maybe she hated the title I emailed to her late Wednesday night. Maybe you hate the title. It's re/inventory, which is better than the vaguely poetic written in bone which was my first hope. The title may not make sense until you read the book. It's all about inventories, reinventing, reimagining. It's full of trilogies. It's found-poems in lists of things, things found in poems. It's 103 pages, and I didn't think I had a manuscript. But I've stolen a lot from my Scotland manuscript which won't work unless I re-steal these poems from this manuscript. And I probably will. But we'll see. These poems have been stolen from everywhere: newspapers, stories, email from a former student. I hope she's okay with that.

I painted the front concrete stairs. Two coats, though I let Jim do the last step and a half. This house is cleaner; this is mostly Jim's going. He got quite manic when he discovered that the sealer he'd put on the back deck was too wet and sticky to put another coat on, and so he cleaned, finished my painting, mowed the lawn, you name it.

I went to work, five whole days. A regular week. I even stayed an extra hour and a half on Monday for a meeting. I updated my student files and tried to prepare for the onslaught of students, which is just showing signs of beginning.

I just printed out re/inventory for the first time and it's sitting on the printer beside me and I'm too nervous to read it.

Now that this is out of the way, I have to tinker and perfect it. I have a Canada Council grant to write and a story to write and my novel to revise. No rest for the wicked!

I feel like I should have more to say for myself, but I haven't. The manuscript is there to say it all or else what is a manuscript for?

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


I have bought an embarrassing number of discs recently. Jim has been watching them arrive with dismay. Or is it amazement? I'm still trying to sort through them all and listen and see what really catches me.

I have finally managed to get past the first two tracks of Regina Spektor's songs. The rest of it is just as good.

I love frou frou, but not as much as I loved Imogen Heap's solo album.

Pepper McGowan's Bad Stars is, I think, as good as her first.

Edie's Shades is like Sinead O'Connor's brilliant The Lion and the Cobra.

And there's more.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Sharyn McCrumb's Songcatcher is an odd beast: a story with a lot of strands. It's mostly the chopped-up story of how a song comes from Scotland through a family to the present day, but it jumps around from a contemporary folksinger and her awkward relationship with her dying father, to the ancestor who left Scotland's adventures, then skipping through the generations.

Haydn Middleton's Grimm's Last Fairytale is a story with three main threads: first the story of Jacob Grimm's last days as he travels with his niece through the land he lived in as a youth with a young manservant with a secret, the story of his youth and young manhood with his sickly brother, Willhelm, and third a fairytale version of sleeping beauty from the prince's point of view. Complex and the switches a little abrupt but it mostly worked for me.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Well, I have a poetry manuscript. See above.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

August - September 1985

1412. Last day in August
August 31, 1985

Dogs and kids in the yards and traffic making the long weekend before school begins. I'm thinking of getting some work done these nights and my mind and heart are blank because I haven't thought or existed. Vegetables, I am, carrots and all. Jim's in the tub, or getting out, Jeremiah outside, Bryer curled on the bed. I need to fill myself up--with poems or something.
     Later--Jim has gone, and suddenly I'm free to become someone, something of who I am. I am. Say the night cannot break me. Say I'm honest, being alone. Jim would not like some of what I've written. Some about the trap I feel we've sprung. O manna from heaven, muse, where are you and what have I done, what have I become?
     Bitter east west...wind, I meant, but didn't write. At Sombrio I touched something again, the heart of the forest that taught me to write, pulsing, just outside my room at my parents'. And here there's just the town scratching at the night. Hoping for change of some kind in this town where the only change is the season twisting itself--there's a thought, the year a ribbon, summer flat, fall twist, winter flat again, but the other side, spring, the twist back to summer's side.

1413. Rilke
August 31, 1985

And that is where I have cherished you--deep inside
the mirror, where you put yourself, far away
from all the world
           from "Requiem," Rilke

Woman, I've seen you, reading
children's hand, pretending
to check for cleanliness while
searching their lives. I think
you look for clues there, and hope
to find where you went wrong.
It's clear to you that something
something happened that might
what turned you off your
chosen track. And I ramble. Shit.
Pushing myself because I fear time and Jim's return. [1]

1414. Four-pole Crow burial scaffold; a hillside in spring
(Plate 102)
August 31, 1985

So empty at first: theis human structure
juxtasposed against the plains
the hill straight across the skyline
like the edge of the world.
The Openness so final and framed. The white
cloth that tops the scaffold
sealings itself and the box angles beneath it
and nothing daringes to breathe.
But somehow that's not it at all:
the scaffold's shadow that creeps across the grasses
like is an animal creeping stepping home, moving
as the grasses like the season's wind must move
travelling lightly and without urgent/rush fear.
The wildflowers spring pushing up, their heads furious with sun.
until the cloth is lifting that lifts the body
into the sky air was full, and the hill
is the earth's back, bending
as it bows to the sky. [2]

1415. Notes for my Father
August 31, 1985

Before I knew you, you had your smile
smooth-lipped and adventurous, eyes
open to the world, laughing, knowing
the games and how they're played,
and how to use their own rule to
beat them. When I was born you
must have wondered what I would
be that was you: well, this is it.
I think of you know, steady and stern,
the years greying with your hair.
Yours hands are still certain and loving
and your eyes almost breaking into
laughter. [3]

1416. Of June
August 31, 1985

I will say what I want to. Anger
bitinges from my eyes like a vixen's guarding
her young. But you my young aren't young
and have children. My daughters have daughter
that have daughters and so we go on in line
and leave me here. My body crumbling for years
and the pain eating me inside out. I can
bear it. What I can't bear is my daughter
coming from her own life here and still leaving
me alone. So I make her miserable. It
works like that. And I make her give me
another drink though she's frightened for me,
I can feel it. The pills and the rye
take me out of myself like when
I was sixteen and dancing. She doesn't
see that. I made her out of nothing,
and she's moved away. Years turn back
on themselves and my friends are dying
or stay away because I've hurt them
too often. Sometimes when I'm alone
I wake naked in the middle of the floor.
sometimes I'm hurt and someone else
finds me and they want to take me from
these rooms with their wood and my mother's
furniture and my own. The things my
daughters want. I won't do to them
as my mother did to me: made me buy
what of her life I wanted. But I still
will leave them nothing. Not my vixen's love.
That I keep for my own. [4]


1. Part of this was incorporated into the title poem of Spells for Clear Vision.

2. This was based on a photograph by Fred E. Miller, a turn of the century agent at Crow Agency, Montana. It was published as a solo poem, then as the final one in a group of five in Spells.

3. Never did anything with this lame one, alas.

4. This became "Woman at the Edge of the World" in Blood Memory.

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