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High school begins

“Holy fuck. Our children!”

– Text message from another parent witnessing the disorganisation of her kid and mine in getting themselves to high school.

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Blowjob

Blowjob (Vulgar Slang)

I never thought of it as a line of work.
I did not think of myself, with my lunch pail,
going to the job and punching my time clock in and out.
Surely that act was not divided
into management, who were owners,
and staff, who had no share in the profit.
“Job,”
is that what they thought?
That it was boring for us and we couldn’t wait ’til we could break for lunch?
They thought that they were rulers commanding us against our will,
there was a thrill in that?
A payback for having to do what mom says when dad’s at work
blowing his master?
So that the one who was being given suck after hours
already gave at the office?
It’s weird thinking about it from a bosses point of view:
looking down at the working head,
the alienated labor,
looking down the pay scale, too.
If they were both engaged in the same act
it wouldn’t be a job, would it,
but play.
Play in the house of the gods of pleasure.
At least “blow” is not a word from commerce
but the golden rule of music:
know, as you would be known.
Blow, as you would be blown.

– Sharon Olds

Personal but ordinary

Poems like “You Kindly” capture two brilliant paradoxes that run through Olds’s work. They give the impression of being wildly personal, even as the experiences they describe—in this case, the erotic union of spouses—are common. And they break with the female-confessional tradition as represented by Olds’s predecessors Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, who used their poetry to rattle the bars of the cozy middle-class matrimony and maternity that they felt imprisoned them. Olds found a path to her own radical artistry by championing the domestic everyday. Breastfeeding a baby; coaxing a sick child to take his medicine; drinking wine on a summer evening with your husband as a comfortable prelude to sex. These are ordinary moments, the kind most of us, if we are lucky enough to have them, wash down life’s drain. Olds rescues them from obscurity by paying them the close attention of her verse.

From “Sharon Olds sings the body electric” by Alexandra Schwartz in The New Yorker.

We Alone

We alone can devalue gold
by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
is gold
so much the worse
for you.
Feathers, shells
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare.
This could be our revolution:
to love what is plentiful
as much as
what’s scarce.

In the subtropics, around the middle of summer things start to die in the heat so Christmas is a strange presence in the season, although I guess not unlike Christmas being situated in the dead of winter in the northern hemisphere. Because the season of summer is not associated with new life here, but rather with the onset of destructive storms, bush fires, drought, and burning sun. Kitchen gardens are largely left to rest. The weeds grow furiously but otherwise everything feels very slow in the humidity.

Storms signal Christmas is coming and the garden succumbs to the mix of overgrown and death.

For me, the foods of summer are all Mediterranean, Mexican and Asian and seem to come in the colours of Christmas. And we eat out in the garden unless the mosquitoes are terrible.

My favourite part of Christmas is all the spontaneous socialising. Friends who message you to tell you they have two Cabernets and are waiting out the rain in a quiet corner, so hurry up and join them in the bar… and other friends who invite you and your kids to swim in their pool and share pot luck dinners together, and friends who beg you to be invited over because their kid is going spare and they want to talk and laugh with you, and all the playfulness and, the exposed skin and lying under a fan even, the goddamn craft (which now includes sewing by my kids).

And this year it included for me a writing deadline for (hopefully) another book anthology next year.

Previous views of December here:

2015

Interestingly, I didn’t post photos in 2014.

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

I love to see what December looks like in your part of the world, so if you care to, leave a link to your own December photos in the comment section.

“I feel I can give you everything without giving myself away, I whispered in your basement bed. If one does one’s solitude right, this is the prize.” – Maggie Nelson