Are these the best course text titles or what? “Monsters in Medieval Literature” takes the biscuit

•Bisclavret
•“Monster Culture: Seven Theses”
•“Conceptualizing the Monstrous”
•“Gerald and the Werewolf”
•“Idols and Simulacra: Paganity, Hybridity, and Representation in Mandeville’s Travels”
•“Metalepsis and Monstrosity: The Boundaries of Narrative Structure in Beowulf”
•“Beyond Abjection: The Problem with Grendel’s Mother Again”

Carlisle Road, PA Route 74 North

A country road at fifty miles per hour,
trees to either side, and a cool breeze
going in one window
and out the other like breath. Ahead,
low mountains pale blue with distance, and a sunset
bedding down between long straight clouds.
On the curb to the left, a billboard of a woman
with her face cupped in both hands, above her the words
“Where is God in all this suffering?”

Earlier this summer I was helping a friend clean out and fix up another friend’s house in West Philly. He’d moved to Georgia with his family but had left quite a few tools and schtuff in his carpentry workshop in the basement, and while clearing that out we found a huge stack of his now outdated business cards with his name and number and old address.  I didn’t want to just throw them out, and they’re such a lovely little self-contained size, so I took them home and keep them in my right hand drawer and whip one out and do a tiny little drawing on the back whenever I feel the mood. Recently scanned the forty-six I have so far, so they might begin to appear by degrees on here, shiftily, like a lizard creeping out of a hole in the wall to quietly steal your favorite wide-brim hat.

Earlier this summer I was helping a friend clean out and fix up another friend’s house in West Philly. He’d moved to Georgia with his family but had left quite a few tools and schtuff in his carpentry workshop in the basement, and while clearing that out we found a huge stack of his now outdated business cards with his name and number and old address. 

I didn’t want to just throw them out, and they’re such a lovely little self-contained size, so I took them home and keep them in my right hand drawer and whip one out and do a tiny little drawing on the back whenever I feel the mood. Recently scanned the forty-six I have so far, so they might begin to appear by degrees on here, shiftily, like a lizard creeping out of a hole in the wall to quietly steal your favorite wide-brim hat.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams, and everything I’m too afraid to say out loud

I have nothing against people saying how much they loved Robin Williams, and how much they miss him. I’ll miss him terribly too, in the strange and beautiful way that you miss people who’ve meant very much to you although you’ve never met them. More than once today, while reading about his passing, I felt myself about to cry, and a tightness in my chest. These authors, actors, comedians, artists, politicians should and do mean multitudes to us. I remember distinctly the day Maurice Sendak passed away, and what that meant for me. And I have nothing wrong with people speaking out against mental illness, or encouraging others to be educated and mindful and loving about depression. People very close to me have struggled with the bleakness of depression and other mental illnesses, and it’s not something that I take at all lightly.

But, I would speak against people jumping to paint Robin Williams’ death as one thing or another, when very, very few of us millions who were touched by his life actually know what he, personally, was going through in the days leading up to his death. I encourage us to be careful when we write heartfelt eulogies and commiserations not to fit his death, even unintentionally, into any category, or agenda. 

I’m sure some of this quick response comes in part from an age where information is made known, shared, opinionized, and forgotten very quickly, in social media forums becoming more and more places for politicization and social change. And I have little doubt, from the wording of the reports, that his cause of death will eventually be announced as anything other than suicide, although no news source at this time says it is suicide definitively without some hedging qualifier in front of it.

But the man has not even been gone a day. The public has only known a few hours. Already media outlets and two-bit news platforms are publishing articles, ranking his seven best performances, from best to worst. Give his death some room. Make a space for it with you. Be silent with it. With no long Facebook statuses trying to hunt out and condemn the cause before it’s confirmed. Even if it was suicide following a battle with depression, which should and will be addressed only in a way that benefits those living, let his death have some weight of its own. Even before it becomes a talking point for mental illness. Please understand that it is not out of any insensitivity, for Williams or those struggling with depression, that I write this, but on the contrary, out of the rawness that I feel at his loss.

So please, give his death its space.

Give it some time.

I’m having a hard time separating things from my ideas of things. Magritte’s pipe would sympathize, I’m sure. Do I love God, or my idea of God? My brother, or the idea of my brother? Do I wish for Winter, or the idea of Winter?

glob

glob

Smokey the Bear Turns Seventy

I saw him: Smokey
the Bear, turning seventy
years old, sitting in

his favorite chair,
his reading glasses on, his
mahogany cane

at his feet, too far
for him to reach, his yellow
hat hung on a hook.

Icons, I thought, were
supposed to be immortal,
not elderly and

wrinkled beneath their
brown fur, and I trembled to
think of what that meant

for the rest of us,
fire extinguishers gripped
in tight, sweaty hands.

Susurrus, n. - whispering, murmuring, or rustling.

The Plesiosaur

I had a dream last night
that I was standing on the edge
of a lake, whose surface was dark,
and that enormous fish, the size of bulls,
and gray in color, were rolling up
to the edge of it, their mouths wide
and gaping. I knew instinctively
to call them groupers, and instinctively
knew too that this was not what groupers
looked like; grey and mammoth,
with sides like old battleships
of the American Civil War.
The water receded from the shore
as they approached it, and I could see
revealed for a moment the sandy slope
reaching down by degrees
to the lake center. My friends and I
would dance away on tiptoes as the fish
pressed their lips to the shore,
like they were kissing it, looking
to swallow or frighten us.
At the end of the dream, the water
fell back, and rushed over the body
of an enormous beast, a kind of
plesiosaur, with a long neck
and a huge triangle head, like a horse,
and my friends and I looked at it and knew
that it symbolized, in a dream, death,
or something else equally monstrous
and huge and strangely shaped. Then
the dream ended. I think the plesiosaur
was not dangerous. I think it was what
we had been waiting for. But
I’m not sure.  

timeshaiku:

"Cats don’t get minestrone soup. Maybe you should’ve thought about that before you were a cat."

-me, to my cat