Monday, August 31, 2009

Purple. Lovely. Inconceivable.

Tonight's mood: Odd. Restless. Anxious. Melancholy. Stubborn. Contemplative.

Today I checked out a few books of Richard Brautigan's. I'd briefly explored his poetry last year, gave up on him, and once again I have returned. It's not that I think his work is particularly good. In fact, I think most of it's pretty pathetic, cheap, and of no literary merit whatsoever. And yet, I like it. So there.
I Live in the Twentieth Century
Richard Brautigan

I live in the Twentieth Century
and you lie here beside me. You
were unhappy when you fell asleep.
There was nothing I could do about
it. I felt hopeless. Your face
is so beautiful that I cannot stop
to describe it, and there's nothing
I can do to make you happy while
you sleep.

Richard Brautigan

She tries to get things out of men
that she can't get because she's not
15% prettier.

April 7, 1969
Richard Brautigan

I feel so bad today
that I want to write a poem.
I don't care: any poem, this
And this last one, he wrote for me. Hey thanks Brautigan! Forgive my editing.
All Girls Should Have a Poem
For Valerie
Richard Brautigan

All girls should have a poem
written for them even if
we have to turn this ***** world
upside down to do it.

New Mexico
March 16, 1969

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Praised What Gave Me Joy

Tonight, I praise that which gives me joy. This poem was introduced to me in a modern poetry class I recently enrolled in. (You, dear reader, will likely be hearing much of this class these next few months!) The poem of this evening is Tony Hoagland's "Personal." It is refreshingly new-sprung, published originally in the July/August 2009 issue of Poetry. How beautiful to see good poetry alive and flourishing! Three cheers for Hoagland!

All week long Hoagland's line, "Oh Life! Can you blame me / for making a scene?" has been running through my mind. It is my recent call out to the world; my mental mantra for the week. So now, dear reader, I give you the fabulous Tony Hoagland.


by Tony Hoagland

Don’t take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal—

the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,

the wet hair of women in the rain—
And I cursed what hurt me

and I praised what gave me joy,
the most simple-minded of possible responses.

The government reminded me of my father,
with its deafness and its laws,

and the weather reminded me of my mom,
with her tropical squalls.

Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness
Think first, they said of Talk

Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts

but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t
believe in the clean break;

I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret,

I believe in saying it all
and taking it all back

and saying it again for good measure
while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries

like wheeling birds
and the trees look seasick in the wind.

Oh life! Can you blame me
for making a scene?

You were that yellow caboose, the moon
disappearing over a ridge of cloud.

I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;
barking and barking:

trying to convince everything else
to take it personal too.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The World; A Little Closer Up

I am currently taking a pause from reading Walt Whitman's incredibly long "Song of Myself." I have never read "Song of Myself" in its entirety, so when the assignment was given for a class to read the 1855 version, I welcomed the challenge. But oh Whitman! It is a challenge indeed! For now I rest my weary mind and direct my attention to another love of mine: the world behind the lense of camera. Recently, I have discovered the joys of the closeup function of my camera. Enjoy these pictures. Or not, I suppose. These photos are all the work of Valerie Owens. Please do not copy without permission.

And to give this the guise of being poetry related, I will intermingle quotes with pictures.

"Seeing hearing and feeling are miracles." ~ Walt Whitman, 1855 version of "Song of Myself"

"I am waylaid by Beauty [...] Oh, savage Beauty, suffer me to pass." ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Assault"

"Oh World! I cannot hold thee close enough!" ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay, "God's World"

"Life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles." ~ Mike Greenberg

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Love is so short; forgetting is so long...

Beautiful visual representation of Pablo Neruda's "Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hopelessly Flawed

I am writing this entry from a hotel room about two thousand miles from home and about that far from a familiar face. I am beginning a bold new adventure and I have no idea what I am getting myself into. Tonight my only company is a few well loved books: Edna St. Vincent Millay Collected Lyrics, Whitman's Leaves of Grass, Alcott's Little Women, The Seagull Reader Poems, my own journal, a few religious texts, and finally, a little notebook where I keep track of passages that have moved me from books and poems I have read. Tonight, I share with you a few beloved passages from my little notebook. Oh but it is hard to choose which ones!

"Distracted by hopefullness: That explained me to myself. I was counting days until."
~ Cynthia Voigt, Glass Mountain

"By the time I was twenty it was clear to me that I was good for--and good at--nothing else. I hated every job I had... picking cucumbers, hoeing beets, selling popcorn, lifeguarding, waitressing, selling Kentucky Fried Chicken... I knew if I were to have any chance at all for happiness in work, I had better throw myself at the writing life."
~ Louise Erdich, when asked why she decided to become a writer.

"You find beauty in ordinary things; do not lose this ability."
~ Fortune Cookie

"Cautious and stubborn, unwilling to fail,"
~ Lawrence Raab, "My Life Before I Knew It"

"The world is large, / and without a fuss has absorbed stranger things than this."
~ Sarah Lindsay, "Cheese Penguin"

"In the sanctuary of my thoughts, I am a fearless renegade."
~ Mark Dunn, Ella Minnow Pea, P. 18

"I think we are all hopelessly flawed."
~ Mr. Bhaer, in the screenplay of Little Women

Thursday, August 6, 2009


This will be a long entry; be patient with me please. I suppose I owe you a long post after my lazy July blogging.

Recently, I have seen a few "gratitude lists" popping up on blogs and Facebook, lists of fifty things to be grateful for. I was reading through one such list the other night. I was thinking of my own long list of things to be grateful for. As I was thinking, Jane Kenyon's "Otherwise" came to mind. What a beautiful reminder that each day is a small miracle, one not be taken for granted.


Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together

at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

I awoke this morning young, healthy, and happy. It might have been otherwise. Truly, I am blessed. So in addition to Kenyon's simple expression of gratitude, I include my own gratitude list. Fifty? Here it goes.

I am grateful for:
  1. Sunflowers that grow by the August roadside
  2. Wheels on luggage
  3. A family that will be with me for all of eternity
  4. My Savior and my faith in Him
  5. Digital cameras and the memories they preserve
  6. Sunrises
  7. Sunsets
  8. Being young at this time and in the place
  9. The kindness of strangers
  10. The people I've met this summer
  11. The easy accessibility of poetry
  12. The opportunity for higher education
  13. Serendipitous moments
  14. The quirks and flaws of those I love
  15. My dearly beloved and carefully selected collection of books
  16. Being a sister and sister-in-law
  17. Mascara
  18. The miracle of cell phones
  19. Brown sugar and fig scented lotion
  20. Being an American
  21. The seemingly endless choices of words
  22. Music and how easy it is to share it.
  23. The chance that I have to try a new adventure this fall
  24. Laughter
  25. Surprises
  26. Dried roses and the memories they hold
  27. Time to do what I'd like with my life
  28. My religion
  29. A blow dryer and spell-check to tell me that it is two words, and not one
  30. Modern transportation; from mini-vans to jet planes
  31. The internet and the conveniences it brings
  32. Google
  33. Hope
  34. The great unknown
  35. High heels
  36. Air conditioning
  37. Chapstick
  38. Those who I have been lucky enough to call a friend at one point or another in my life
  39. Not-socks, no show socks, whatever they are called
  40. Snail mail
  41. Hairspray
  42. My health
  43. The talents God has given me
  44. Summer thunderstorms
  45. Extended family reunions
  46. Babies
  47. The faithful readers of this little blog
  48. Being me
  49. The past that has shaped the present
  50. Tomorrows
Photography by: Valerie Owens