On Honeyboy Edwards

On Honeyboy Edwards

Washing dishes is blues music so Pandora brings me
Charley Patton’s “Bo Weevil” beamed down and a shiver
of recognition goes up my spine a shiver of collapsed
time to 1998 when I shivered in another cold wind
off Lake Michigan head tucked into pea coat to visit some
Chicago Southside apartment down some little dim
stairwell into the elderly bluesman’s bedroom dragging
kitchen chairs across green checkered linoleum
around the bed while he picked up a red guitar
and became Honeyboy with a smile when I asked him
to play “Pony Blues” he picked his way through weeds
of memory picked his way to call up Charley Patton for me
raised Charley Patton from the Delta cotton fields for me
picked and slid a bottleneck over the strings and raised the dead for me
And if he sees me now he’s saying  with a laugh
“Little girl why you cryin’ in your kitchen
for the voices of the dead?”
Why am I crying for the voices of the dead
raised now and caught in ones and zeroes
in a web I can’t see


1st draft
16 April 2018
Sometimes new work up and smacks you in the face. And sometimes your husband has to tell you to go sit and write it down. And you do.

I was pretty lucky to have met Honeyboy, even luckier to have been invited into his home, luckier still to have a personal request–“Pony Blues“–played for me. A song he learned from Charley Patton himself. Especially when as we were leaving my companions looked at me and said “We’ve been trying to get him to play that for us for years, and you just walked in and smiled and asked nicely and he just did it. For you.”

I never really consciously traded on being pretty, but looking back on it I think a pretty girl asked him nicely and he said OK. Simple. And flattering, all these years later, to think of it while washing dishes and staring out the window when Charley Patton comes on.

 

 

 

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John Muir Had a Hickory Hill Farm

John Muir Had a Hickory Hill Farm

Hewn out of  wildness
of endless trees, paradise
for birds and wild children


Sierra Club Article

(This post is a placeholder — this week has been crazy busy and I am coming down with something–but yesterday I gave a public lecture that included some readings from John Muir and I feel connected to his spirit today. We have a huge shagbark hickory tree on our land, and it is the centerpiece –the reason we bought the property 12+ years ago–our house will be built to orient my library window with the tree in the center. We had discussed calling the place Hickory Hill Farm, and now I feel like that’s what it should be. I am so very lucky, I know.)

Hickory Honey and Tony

Lines Composed in the Dark

Lines Composed in the Dark

Moths batter at fluorescence
I try to sleep in Ohio but it’s Chicago
that keeps me awake:

Fire department sirens on Western Avenue
shouted conversations in Polish
the hollow boom of too much bass

The sodium orange burn of never-quite-night
when the sun slides behind the ComEd building–
There are ways of looking at an absence

through the rolling Ohio fields of timothy
against the falling veil of Brandywine creek
drifting past smokestacks and silent huletts on the Cuyahoga

like a series of relics wrapped

and buried beneath the Chinese chestnut tree in the yard


[OV MFA thesis 1999
Revision 4 April 2016]

[Confused sense of place and dis-location in this one–I was living in the Ukrainian Village in Chicago–near Nelson Algren’s haunts– but homesick for Ohio. I am also obsessed with (disused) industrial locations–the Jaite Paper Mill at the bottom of Highland Road that closed when I was a kid; my grandfather worked on the docks; my father worked for J&L Steel (later LTV) (later bankrupt but naturally the executives got paid). I think there’s a lot in here. I just need time to excavate. #mapyear ]

Haiku: Wisconsin Spring

Wisconsin Spring

Daffodils huddle
A few confused frogs burrow
Back into cold mud


April 2 2016 SNOW

2 April 2016, Sheboygan County, WI

We had a good spring snowstorm yesterday morning/afternoon that dumped 3-4″ of wet, cars-in-the-ditch snow. Today it’s in the upper 40s and the sun came out for a little bit, so it’s almost all melted already. The clouds are moving fast and the forecast is calling for cold and more snow in the coming week.

April is, after all, the cruelest month.

A Body Map of My Life, Part 2

A Body Map of My Life, Part 1


[Part II]
[YOU ARE HERE]

LOCATION: Right forearm along ulna (March 1971-present)
CAUSE: Genetic
DIAGNOSIS: Port wine stains, approximately 5” x 2.5” at widest point
TREATMENT: Extra sunscreen with zinc; assuring nurses and doctors that yes, I am safe in my home and no, it’s not a bruise and no, it hasn’t changed size or shape recently
FOLLOWUP: Glad it’s not on my face where it would be exposed to daily sun damage

LOCATION: Left hand, index finger, first knuckle (2002)
CAUSE: Stubborn insistence on closing stuck old window
DIAGNOSIS: Cut that luckily did not sever any tendons
TREATMENT: Seven stitches and an upside-down V shaped scar that still itches 14 years later
FOLLOWUP: Still stubborn but more cautious around glass and things that are stuck

LOCATION: Perineum (2004) (2008)
CAUSE: Beautiful, perfectly formed big-head babies (both over the 100th percentile) due to genetics (both parents have larger-than-average skulls)
DIAGNOSIS: Tear (2004)/incision (2008)
TREATMENT: Stitches that itch like a mad bitch on fire; ice packs changed hourly for a week; 8 weeks of no sex
FOLLOWUP: Willful, creative, intelligent children with thick mops of curly brown hair and big brown eyes with long lashes;  shortness of breath when I come across a tiny sock in the back of a drawer

LOCATION: Right hand, back, 3” below pinkie, 2” from wrist (July 2014)
CAUSE: Spider bite
DIAGNOSIS: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which I keep calling Marcus Aurelius because I can’t remember the word “methicillin”
TREATMENT: Multiple visits to doctor and two separate trips to the ER; over a month of sulfa drugs (which is what they use to treat MRSA even if you’re not allergic to penicillin); second trip to ER concludes with 6” of linen tape packed into a wound so deep I can see my tendon move when I open and close my hand—the tape must be pulled and cut daily for two weeks as the wound heals underneath it; I have never been so grossed out by (or afraid for) my body; I fear losing my hand, or dying of sepsis while my husband is out of town
FOLLOWUP: I did not lose my writing hand. Still not afraid of spiders.

LOCATION: Everywhere all once
CAUSE: Everything and nothing
DIAGNOSIS: Some fraying around the edges; mostly intact and still functioning
TREATMENT: Acceptance of failure and frailty; wine; friends; books; writing
FOLLOWUP: Ongoing

IMG_0976

They’re not babies anymore. Don Pedro Island State Park, March 2015