Category Archives: identity

BOOK ABOUT & TO MY FATHER

Although it is much too premature to announce that my 14th book might become reality. a book about an exceptional man that I was lucky enough to call my father, 

a former student now an editor, Jason Kirk told me how he liked the part he has read, and he was kind enough to make room for me today, a visit I surely needed in a time of enormous upheaval in my life.  It was not my mother who understood me and tried to make sure that I existed in a world where any opportunity could be mine as long as it was in human possibility.  

 

I will not say more as I would not like to spoil the book.  

 

It was my father.  100% Daddy’s girl right here although I am 63 years old.

Here’s Jason Kirk and I, 

 

If there is any kind of justice in this world, then the book about my father will be book #14 for me.  Unfortunately, my father died before the most important things happened, the birth of my own genetic son, the only person other  than myself who has the gift of his DNA. 

 

I wrote this book to show my father the greatest happinesses in my life, the highest highs, all of which he missed.  I wanted my father, my son also, to know what it is like for me to really be in love.  I wanted to introduce my father to the real man behind Thomas Robert Higginson, but I guess Thomas Robert  is not ready for that level of TRUTH,, so instead I introduce him to a proxy  Thomas Robert Higginson (proxy images above), but in my heart, and I hope that in Thomas Robert’s heart also, he is aware, and likes that it is him.

I myself am so thankful and grateful that Jason Kirk,  He knows a great deal about Limited Fork.

 

He was there when I was learning  that theory myself.  I will be learning it for the rest of my life.  It is that important and transformative.

 

Jason Kirk (with fork)

so far Jason likes the book! –and that means everything tonight. The book is a way that more people can get to know this man. And I wanted to introduce the persons most important to me to him.  The gist of my ambition.

 

Getting closer to Fruition! 

 

 

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If You See Something, Say Something

Wow.

I just had my interview with Roberto Eslava Chavéz, and among the things he asked me, which of the books I’d written was my favorite, and I told him the truth, “New Kiss Horizon”, all about Thomas Robert Higgnson and a character named Vashti Astapad Warren

 

Cover of NKH

He asked me how did I feel about collaboration and I told him that no piece belonged exclusively to any one person; that senses are portals allowing access to information that, as feeble as we may be, we translate something into something; does not have to be words, but we receive information and give information back to the world, and we are all changed for the exchange.

I explained that collaboration is the only way, that nothing belongs to any individual; only though sharing –for instance the poem I sent, “If You See Something, Say Something” a collaboration with Thomas Robert Higginson, and all of this made

If You see Something, Say Something-02The Fiddlehead Journal in which "Higginson Matters" was first published

 

 

“If You see Something, Say Something” as published in “The Fiddlehead” (issue 268):

 

–in response to: “If you See something, Say something”

                                        –Thomas Robert Higginson

       

“If you See something, Say Something

Banana”

                      

white shadow

crescent moon

Wax (ing)

Wax banana

Wax grapes, apples

in bowls

On my mother’s dining room table

lunch

kitchen sink

I see this also

my father washing dishes

scalding water

his skin

down the drain

plates clean, heavenly,

full of banana water spots

we eat the shadows.

two of which

are my father’s

diseased lungs

yet I float on clouds

into such a clean, pure kingdom

that nothing else matters

just a banana which I eat the moment I arrive.

Buddha

in suds.

Online Dating and New Kiss Horizon

 

For this post, I use my former match dot com photo, and my former ok cupid photos.  

They caused quite a stir.  More than I was hoping for actually.  More than I really wanted?  No;

I wanted more; I wanted to see if it was true that I can attract attention.  I really did.  I really do.  All the time.  

“Only dating explained image from this URL: )

Online dating explained

 

My photos from online dating, (by the way, I am 63 years old, have never dieted in my life, have never had any reconstructive surgery, no cosmetic work of any kind.  I do not even wear make-up, no hair weave, extensions or wigs, WSIWYG –all the way.  I have never lied about my appearance): 

 

I self-identity as mixed race, because that is what I am, and I am not ashamed of this at all.  To be honest, I would not mind if more races mixed; for that is true interaction as long as all participating parties agree to interact; all interacting parties leave something behind, and all interacting parties take something different away, do not interact if you are not willing to change, if you must cling to what you were previously, before interacting for interacting will change you if you let it.    

 

a definition of “interaction” states: “:  mutual or reciprocal action or influence” –all interacting parties  change!  

(so stated right here: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/interaction

 

–Sure changed me, and I am still changing.  Among the many things Thomas Robert told me, all of them wonderful, by the way, he said: “If ever I change my mind, I will tell you” –an he has said nothing to that effect.  So I believe when he say din August 2016, that he loves me–

 

(I do not feel right about online dating; maybe I will in time, but I cannot rush… I have to take my time.  I do not want to make any mistakes; I do not want to feel any pressure, especially just to have  a man not so far away as  Thomas Robert Higginson is.   I also want to be fair to all involved, especially to my own heart. I feel guilty just a bit. I do not want to feel this way, but I am also involved in the promotion of New Kiss Horizon, my most recent book to date, and I want to do justice ti that unbelievable love, and that will take time.  I have a feeling that  will still be pretty; Thomas Robert was the first man to call me that and mean it.  Not just those catcalls I often heard.  He spoke from his heart, and I am not at liberty to say right here all that Thomas Robert said to me –over many, many years –as the real man behind that name, to the real woman behind the character’s name. )

What I have come to believe via “Limited Fork Theory (and life experience, to be sure), is that much racial discrimination can and will cease when there is more acceptance of mixture.  I do not go back five or six generations, no further than my own father, and his father, both pictured here:

 

 

 

Two of the few photos with my father, I was a teenage bride; I never met my paternal  grandfather while he was alive:

 

 

Here is some info about these men and my experience with train whistles: (courtesy questions Bracken Hamlet asked me on Facebook):  

“My father, those long low moans, my father coming back to me… sounds dissolving in the air, night calls, his bounce becoming a sky. He has a long way to travel, from death and its tucking of things inside itself, called burial, but only him curling his tongue into semblance of an ichneumon fly, and that sound is the curl, chalk writing on the night sky. My father once cooked for the railroad, making slaw, his own recipe under handle of the Big Dipper, making a prayer come true, that is what I hear, my father calling me, and I answer, another train, car of his train switching onto another track, and we speak to each other in those whistles, and train treadles of heart traffic…

Warm, loved, a track itself so the trains could enter the station of my heart and join all other memories of him, whippoorwills answering me, duets and trios with scent of dogwood racing along the tracks, the frogs too, a thick froggy carpet that squishy road between homes of my southern grandmothers, one black and the other something else, oh, those platforms where I would wait for the train. My father often whistled and could sound like a train, like President Kennedy too with a yodel stuck in his throat, that’s what he said, the sound of him cutting cabbage for his slaw with the rim of a tin can as shiny as the rails themselves; that my father was rail-thin was often said, he was traveling the best way he could, those special trains, Nickel Plate and Ollie’s; one even said Saskatchewan

You know, I will always miss my father. Always. I was never spanked because of him; he did not believe in hitting; if something can be loved, you don’t hit, you love it. That is how he raised me , so unlike my mother; how different they were. I don’t think she ever hard the trains. Maybe just a screech of metal on metal, trains encountering obstruction on the tracks, circles in her mind, constricting it. Oh I also recall the magic of being in Terminal Tower when the locomotives chugged into Higbees underground, and the magicians’ smoke filled the space, overlaid more drawings on the luscious artwork, murals (that never should have been destroyed, work sewer rats could do, but I would think that even they would gag on such colorful profundity and drop like tubes of oil paint, potential usefulness squeezed out, fat gray gloves decorating the scene); smoke gushing out of the front silver plate, folded with the fold pointing out like a collar cradled in silvery recollections; this is what irons wanted to be, but not even that Rowenta came close, the steam irons would slobber on the clothes when they weren’t working properly; they wanted to be flattened for usefulness on the railroads, my paternal grandfather built them, hammer and pickaxe, Native American, Caucasian and immigrant from India, dry-land stevedore, oh, oh, oh, these memories….those murals in Terminal Tower railroad station“:

 

— Some of this deserves, warrants repeating, and some of this will pear in slightly different form in a book I am at long last writing about my father, including a scene I will have to completely  imagine since my father’s death in 1980; he got to see not one  of my books while he was alive; he never got to see his only biological grandson; he never got to see me truly happy with a man, the way I was with Thomas Robert Higginson, and I wish my father could have seen that photo of me standing beside Thomas Robert on a bridge, happiest weekend off my life so far;  (even my son who never met my father, commented that he had never seen me happy with a man before, and I know with all my heart that  true.  

 

–Must sidetrack for just a bit right here, because I was married  for forty years, and did not know the pleasure I found with Thomas Robert —  says a lot about Thomas Robert, I know, and it is not my intention to embarrass him; but when a man has achieved something as special as this, you just do not keep it to yourself, 

 

(If you want to know more, and I hope you do, then by all means read, New Kiss Horizon!

new-kiss-horizon

 

 

 

end of sidetracking, but not the end, probably never will be, of feelings for Thomas Robert Higginson)

 

 

(find out more about New Kiss Horizon here :

 

NEW KISS HORIZON LINKS:

 Link to “New Kiss Horizon” on Smashwords: 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/683373

 Link to “New Kiss Horizon” paperback on Amazon: 

https://www.amazon.com/New-Kiss-Horizon-Thylias-Moss/dp/1540584496

 Link to “New Kiss Horizon” Kindle book on Amazon: 

https://www.amazon.com/New-Kiss-Horizon-Thylias-Moss-ebook/dp/B01N1K0PLC

 Link to Thylias Moss Amazon writer page: 

https://www.amazon.com/Thylias-Moss/e/B001JSBOQQ 

Vashtis Blog (narrator of NKH, maintaining a blog so that readers may keep in touch with developments in the character’s life beyond the book):

Vashti’s blog URL:

 https://vashtisblog.wordpress.com/)

 

 

Dear Thomas, I sure hope that you do not mind my posting in this blog a photo that said to me was pure “delight’ –that’s what I felt, also; I am standing right beside you where I belong, and you are standing right beside me where you belong, always:

THYLIAS MOSS AND BOB HOLMAN on a bridge in Chicago 2014

Vashti Astapad Warren with Thomas Robert Higginson: love in full bloom

and I am writing a scene in which my father is holding his usual study, his brothers-in-law sitting at the dining room table , table my mother still has, by the way, his lectures on the composition and location of the human soul, a bottle  of Old Mr. Boston nearby, pale in the glasses, like my skin when it sparkles (as it did when I was with Thomas, especially whenever he kissed me and I kissed him); Thomas Robert is a drinker too; they would have enjoyed each other very much, and my father would have been joyous indeed to see that I had loved someone like Thomas Robert Higginson.

 

mr-boston-brandy-logo

 

image from :http://www.liquor.com/brands/mr-boston/

 

 

Back to the business of reverie, and repetition, for all of this is true, nothing truer has ever existed:

 

You know, I will always miss my father. Always. I was never spanked because of him; he did not believe in hitting; if something can be loved, you don’t h it, you love it. That is how he raised me , so unlike my mother; how different they were. I don’t think she ever hard the trains. Maybe just a screech of metal on metal, trains encountering obstruction on the tracks, circles in her mind, constricting it. Oh I also recall the magic of being in Terminal Tower when the locomotives chugged into Higbees underground, and the magicians’ smoke filled the space, overlaid more drawings on the luscious artwork, murals (that never should have been destroyed, work sewer rats could do, but I would think that even they would gag on such colorful profundity and drop like tubes of oil paint, potential usefulness squeezed out, fat gray gloves decorating the scene); smoke gushing out of the front silver plate, folded with the fold pointing out like a collar cradled in silvery recollections; this is what irons wanted to be, but not even that Rowenta came close, the steam irons would slobber on the clothes when they weren’t working properly; they wanted to be flattened for usefulness on the railroads, my paternal grandfather built them, hammer and pickaxe, Native American, Caucasian and immigrant from India, dry-land stevedore, oh, oh, oh, these memories….those murals in Terminal Tower railroad station

 

copyright © 2017 by Thylias Moss. Published by arrangement with the author.  All rights reserved.

 

Excitement reigns!

I am very excited about my forthcoming –just days now, volume of new and selected poetry! “Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code“! (from Persea Books!)

wannabe_front

I haven’t had a new book since 2006, and Tokyo Butter!

 

Tokyo Butter

Tokyo Butter – a search for  forms of Dierdre (really my  late cousin Hilda).

 

The cover image is really a 50X USB microscpe scan I made of flowers from Hilda’s Funneral in 2002.  I  grew up with Hilda as if she were my sister… A terrible loss for me… 

I wonder what she would be like now?  She was only 3 months older than me, born 25 November 1953; I was born 27 February  1954.  “Tokyo Butter” explores some of that… I couldn’t believe that all of Hilda (“Deirdre” in the book) was gone from the world, and “Tokyo Butter” is the outcome of my (as yet incomplete) search for her.

casket roseHILDA 2

 

Here is a version of a video piece I made about a poem in “Tokyo Butter“: The Cultue of Snowmen”:

I really want the Proscope mobile!  Oh what I would capture!

Images I captured with my Proscope Digital microscope:

:

 

 

Hope you’ve already put in your orders at Amazon for “Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code“!

 

wannabe_front

Video poam I made, the source of the title of this book soon to be available:

 

 

 

Also, please check out my Amazon Author Page!!

 

You can hear me reading three of my favorite poems from”Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code” for Poets and Writers Here:

 

 

 

http://www.pw.org/content/wannabe_hoochie_mama_gallery_of_realities_red_dress_code

The three poems I read:

  1. Blue Coming
  2. The Glory Prelude
  3. Me and Bubble Went to Memphis 

Also here “Me and Bubble Went to Memphis” here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/audio/detail/76019

 

The Glory Prelude video poam here (music composed and performed by Graphic Artist Ansted Moss, Vocals by Thylias Moss who also made the vide poam; contains footage of my mother who has recently been visited by “The Angel of the Lord” –whatever that means.  I cannot compete with “The Angel of the Lord” –noone can):

(my mother is unaware that this footage was captured)

Please don’t tell her, unless you are “The Angel of the Lord”.

she already told me that she’s coming to get me… –I am going to be haunted after her death, so if I make no further posts, you will know that:

  1. I am dead
  2. My mother got me.
  3. My mother succeeded at what Houdini couldn’t
  4. A mother’s love

How mama looks now, as she waits for The Angel of the Lord  (to come back in ways my deceased father can’t):

 

Mama in wheelchair

(She loves Popeye’s chicken, but isn’t supposed to eat it. Diabetes,  Hypertension, Glaucoma, Thyroid problems, loss of the ability to grasp physical objects (with her right hand especially) and to remember anything, Dementia; loss of hearing, loss of eyesight, unless looking at and/or listening to:  “The Angel of the Lord”, but she’s coming back to get me, a promise she has made to the “Angel of the Lord” –I take this most seriously, because she saw “The Angel of the Lord” as real as anything she has ever seen..

“The Glory Prelude to a Widow Shrine System” is for her, the widow since the death of my father in July 1980.   She says “the only man I  need is Jesus”, so I called a man I liked a lot, before I loved him as I do now, “Jésus”.  My mama with dementia, (I love her, but she still doesn’t know. Just wanted to tell her that I had found a good man; I thought that maybe she would like that.  But no.  

I’ve been divorced since 2013, but makes no difference… Even if nothing goes any furher, I just wanted her to know that I had found someone much better, who doesn’t lie to me, a man I can trust to tell me the truth, whether or not I like it.  He will not deceive me, the most trustworthy man I know. 

and “Hypnosis at the Bird Factory ” (also in “Wannabe”) as a video poam right here:

and Tornado Pi, video poem version of the print poem “Tornados also in “Wannabe“:

 

 

Print version of “The Glory Prelude” in The Offing here:

BUY THE BOOK!

READ THE BOOK!

 

A significant new poem from this collection is: “Higginson Matters in Magnificent Culture of Myopia” and I perform this signture poem from this collection here

(the unnatural emphasis on the word “moss” comes from  a niece of my ex, telling me that I could hardly be moving on with my life, since I still had their name, a name they did not copyright, a name they did not intiate; there are many other “Mosses”; they have no valid claim to the exclusivity of that name:

 

Speaking of things “trustworthy”, I was all set to believe that an unfortunae  sitution with my publisher was greatly improved; I’m still all set for that, but I was disappointed when I saw on the publisher’s website for my book; a quote about me, this mixed-race woman who would never choose a partner based on his color, or a partner who would choose a woman based on her color; I would not exist without mixing… 

and although the quote which offends me now and all that I’ve tried to accomplish in  my writing is gone from the book jacket, I still name, on the website, “the black truths behind white lies” and am still a writer “who speaks bitterness”… I was disappoined to see that, because of the inaccuracy, and immediaetely wote an email to my poetry editor

That is not who I am; I speak TRUTH, no matter what color it is.   And if “black” (a part of me but not all of me) is so powerful that whatever is “black” at all, even a tiny potent, powerful drop; if so powerful that I  can not avoid using a black lens to interpret everything, then everything I see automatically becomes “black” because I see it, and everything  I say automatically become “black” because I say it, and everything I hear automatically becomes “black” because I hear it, and everything I do, automatically becomes “black” because I do it, and everything I touch automatically becomes “black” because I “touch” it, and everything I feel automatically becomes “black,”because I feel it,  and everthing I eat automatically becomes “black” because I eat it,

 then there is no need for me to preface anything I think; anything I feel, anything I do with “black” since I cannot do anything that is not black, so when I think of quantum phyiscs, quantum physics becomes black; every form of math, everything I’ve written here is black; that’s how potent black is, one drop and black heaven is the reward!

 

I continue to think these black thoughts, as I thought them at the University of new Hampshire where in a class for those teaching English composition, the subject was “How To Eliminate Vagueness” in student wiring, and one TA observed that when a sudent writes the word, “black”, the student likely means something else, such as, and this was agreed upon (worth noting that I was the ony visibly “black” person in the room); agreed upon that the student meant “irreversible damage” , so I wrote this poem, for instructors of English 401 at the University of New Hampshire, originally published in Callaloo, then in my book, Pyramid of Bone, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award:

about Pyramid of bone, Langdon Hammer says this: 

Although many of Moss’s poems discuss race and gender, these subjects are, explains scholar Langdon Hammer, simply “starting points for her work…her poetry makes such facts of identity seem unfamiliar, their meanings not to be predicted, unavailable to the naked eye.” Known for startling metaphors and vivid imagery, Moss’s work demonstrates an expansive imagination that seeks to connect at times wildly disparate subjects”

Pyramid of bone

Book by Thylias Moss

To Eliminate Vagueness”

 instructions: substitute  irreversible damage for blacwherever it occurs

 

 

In the red-legged locust’s black raids upon midwest soybeans,

in their illicit transmission of tapeworms and parasites

to quail, turkeys, and guinea fowl,

in all the black calendar days that are supposed

to indicate the ordinary.

 

In operating rooms body parts black with gangrene

are excised and trash cans seem to fill with dead crows.

 

There’s a black crust two miles thick in Soweto, some on bread,

around eyes, most on the streets where blood dried

into its own monument.

 

Then my mother’s black face nothing can soften, the sweating,

the forgetting to sleep, the solidarity with anyone troubling,

the compassion only I knew she felt hugging a radio, singing

spirituals, sequestering herself in her widow’s bedroom

praying for women unable to pray.

 

And what of Europeans, what of Asians and Latinos who are

     irreversibly

damaged, whose gangrened minds should be excised but who are

   not black?

 

 

One day I noticed my mother had poured her face onto mine

and had given me spirituals and lullabies.

I sang them when baskets of black clouds dumped

their transparent flowers over the convent

 

and the nuns’ basic black didn’t get wet

and they carted the flowers home in wheelbarrows

and arranged them like lullabies

and wept silently

 

as we were weeping, mother and daughter together

in my father’s old rocker, the damage already done.

 

                                            for Gary and the English 401 staff

 

                                                       Thylias Moss

Originally published many years ago in Callaloo, then in my award-winning collection “Pyramid of Bone” (University of Virginia Press, 1989)

 

and listen to me read, on the Poetry Foundation site: “The Pampering of Leora” 

 

and this video poam (product of act[s] of making) I made”Cosmic Seduction” is just another black thing I do:

Please enjoy as much of this truth as you can.  I thank you and  am grateful, always.

___________

Included for someone special 

all  for him

 

His if he wants it, the most trustworthy, most deserving  man I know. 

 

 

 

Distress and Agony

Just when it seemed that everything is going as well as it can, I become aware of something that has been true for a very long time, but this time, perhaps more ruinous to my career as a writer, as a poet,  I mean…

Not my intenton to jeopardize my forthcoming book, about which I remain excited, but I do want it known that Thylias Moss is available for another publisher for my books of poetry; out of my 11 books, 9 of them are collections of poetry, counting Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code“, soon to be published in September 2016, by Persea, a publisher I’ve belonged to since winning the National Poetry Series in 1991, with “Rainbow Remnants in Rock Bottom Ghetto Sky“, a book that Persea published, and since then, all of my collections, in book form, of poetry, with the exception of “Small Congregations” published by Ecco in 1993.

 

Here are newspaper articles about this event, that came about because I dared to be honest; I told the truth! squabbling publishers-cropped copysquabbling publishersthylias_wall-street-journal

 

thylias_wall-street-journal

 

And here is the problematic bit of my current contract for my forthcoming collection:

Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code” September 2016, causing concern; this contract was prepared by my publisher, and  I did sign it without anyone advising me not to (I trusted the publisher who identifued herself as “my friend” (as she did with previous litigation to make sure that I would not go to jail; I recall that phone conversation distinctly; well, I am no longer that gullible child, and for another thing, I am resentful of “advice”  I was given but do not need, about “being careful in my relationships as long as they are not hurtful to me”, well my relationship with my publisher IS  hurtful to me, as my publisher wrote the contract, and I am dead set against maintaing that contract since that very relationship is the only “hurtful to me” relationship I have, I’m going to take the publisher’s own advice

 

OPTION:

20. In consideration of the covenants of this Agreement, the Proprietor agrees to give the Publisher the first opportunity to obtain book-publishing rights in his next book-length work.  The Proprietor shall submit the manuscript of such work to the Publisher before showing it to any other publisher, and the Publisher shall thereafter have thirty [30] days to notify the Proprietor if it wishes to publish such work, and if so, to propose terms and conditions (provided that the Publisher shall not be required so to notify the Proprietor until the expiration of ninety (90) days from the date of the first publication of the Work).  If within thirty (30) days after the Publisher’s having proposed such terms and conditions, the Publisher and the Proprietor fail to reach agreement with respect thereto, or if the Publisher does not wish to publish such work, then the Proprietor shall be free to arrange for publication elsewhere provided, however, that the Proprietor shall not enter into an agreement for publication of such work with any third party on terms and conditions equal to or less favorable than those terms and conditions offered by the Publisher.”

Some of that history of litigation here again:

squabbling publishers.jpg

thylias_wall-street-journal copy

I am seeking a publisher for my volumes of poetry after “Wannabe

 

Another poet friend asked me why hadn’t Norton  (of course, Persea is an affliliate publisher of Norton, as indicated)or Knopf gobbled me up, after so many books and so many awards, and all I could think of was the contract itself, when this dreadful passage was pointed out to me…   

 

Perhaps this will be addressed when my romance novel does indeed sell.  I know it will; I admit that I am impatient, but that book means even more to me now, and I cannot talk about it… Not yet.

 

 I hope that today will be the day…

 

One never knows..

 

But today IS the day that I announce that I am available for another publisher for my poetry.  Ideally the same publisher who oversees publication of my romance novel, but no clause like the option clause prepared by the publisher acting as BOTH my publisher and my agent. If this announced availability causes more litigation, so be it.  I have been down this road before… A road covered by the New York Daily News and the Wall Street Journal in 1994… 

 

I wouldn’t mind going to jail for poetry, something so dear to me.  Poetry tells a truth! Poetry is a truth!   My poems do not tell lies!  They never will!

 

I insist on such purtiy, even though that seems to be becomng so rare and precious, doomed by the injustices in which humanity festers, injustices such as Option clause #20, a clause I did not write and one I wish I had read better but the writer, my publisher, was also claiming to be my friend: 

a familiar or helpful thing, 

a person who is not an enemy or who is on the same side

“Remember,” I was told, “I am your friend.”

 

But another publisher is essential.  I am not new to poetry at all!

I will not crumple under litigation should any happen.  I didn’t before when I was served a subpoena in my office where I was a professor until I retired, at the University of Michigan…

and I already have a couple of lawyers investigating that clause, seeking an honest and legal way to break it; my friend indeed.

but we all know this, “Smiling Faces Sometimes”

as it says on <http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=friends#favorite-4924077&gt;:

 

 

friend

A friend is someone you love and who loves you, someone you respect and who respects you, someone whom you trust and who trusts you. A friend is honest and makes you want to be honest, too. A friend is loyal.

A friend is someone who is happy to spend time with you doing absolutely nothing at all; someone who doesn’t mind driving you on stupid errands, who will get up at midnight just because you want to go on an adventure, and who doesn’t have to talk to communicate with you.

A friend is someone who not only doesn’t care if you’re ugly or boring, but doesn’t even think about it; someone who forgives you no matter what you do, and someone who tries to help you even when they don’t know how. A friend is someone who tells you if you’re being stupid, but who doesn’t make you feel stupid.

A friend is someone who would sacrifice their life and happiness for you. A friend is someone who will come with you when you have to do boring things like watch bad recitals, go to stuffy parties, or wait in boring lobbies. You don’t even think about who’s talking or who’s listening in a conversation with a friend.

A friend is someone for whom you’re willing to change your opinions. A friend is someone you look forward to seeing and who looks forward to seeing you: someone you like so much, it doesn’t matter if you share interests or traits. A friend is someone you like so much, you start to like the things they like.

A friend is a partner, not a leader or a follower.

The word “friend” comes from Old English “frēond”, which is actually the present participle of “frēogan”, which means “to love” and “to honor”.

I quite agree!  This post is for all of my true friends, and you definitely know who you are, and so do I, always.  There is nothing more sacred than a friend who can be trusted; a freind who will not cheat you, a friend who will not deceive you, and as far as I am concerned, there is no clause #20 in my contract.  

Some Praise

On this historic night when a woman, the first woman,  is the Democratic candidate for President of the United States of America, the OFFICIAL CANDIDATE FOR A MAJOR POLTICAL PARTY (next time, maybe a Native woman?); on this night, I am partcicularly glad to be a woman, and in this context, while I still await knowledge about the status of my romance novel, yes; that weighs heavily upon me, love requires this book, and I am in love with the character, maybe more than that… 

 

Love is the way to do things; I still maintain that, and sometimes there seems to be some anarchy involved even with love that cure

so I want to share two versions of a piece of writing, an essay published in Body  (copyright 1999) edited by Sharon Sloan Fiffer and Steve Fiffer, my essay:

 

51dypokBtkL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

(copyright 1999)

“SOME PRAISE FOR A LITTLE RIGHT-SIDED ANARCHY 

(That is also Tribute to the Lobe Girls)”

(my essay written about the ear, portions of the proceeds from the sale of this wonderful [IMHO] anthology will be donated to charity; still availabel for sale on Amazon)

well, here is the version, as published, written about/to/for (?) my then, now ex, spouse (who never read it, unless he reads it now):

SOME PRAISE FOR A LITTLE RIGHT-SIDED ANARCHY

(THAT IS ALSO TRIBUTE TO THE LOBE GIRLS)

THYLIAS MOSS

 

 

Not in fifteen years had it happened, a short-lived (days) right-leg winter, an internal ice age situated in the bones. Alarming, yet exciting departure from the normal whose grip sometimes gets too tight and imposes an unfortunate choke hold on the extraordinary. A deep chill is also mercilessly clean; frigid winds sweep the southernmost continent pure. Polar ice caps like seals of approval. Some praise, then, for a little right-sided anarchy.

          From toe to hip, sensation is gone and with it the awareness of half of my lap; a magazine resting on my right thigh hurts, an electrified Science News tries to shock the numbness out of misbehaving nerves, but the cold darts of current are excruciating in their intensity and fury. Only napped cloth like flannel or chamois, only fleece[1] is tolerable.   My leg must be swaddled in it against the cutting cold of smooth percale sheets that unaffected parts of my body have not yet warmed; it must be a cushion between my skin and a piece of the thinnest onionskin paper that seems a slice of solid carbon dioxide so cold is its burn –I wince at the brutality of its weight as I persist in writing a love letter to my husband. Transfiguration is like this, sudden, without warning.

         There’s a chance that, eventually, the conversion will be complete. By the inch, my skin (the body’s largest organ) will continue to lose sensory perception as I become outfitted in Antarctic finery, as I am primed for an absolute zero of being, becoming so cold that even in the temperate zone’s snowy winters, I melt like dry ice, from solid gas to vapor. Before it dissipated, the vapor from the dry ice melting a month ago in my sink (we’d brought back frozen novelties from five hundred miles away, Wesley so crazy about lemon premium ice cream) was white with ragged edges, scored patches of fog snatched from a more widespread cloudiness in an attempted liberation of sky’s preferred light and color. From my sink, stringy clouds rose, white rivers of spirochetes as I’d seen them move (making unheard pathological music) under microscopes in documentaries about Tuskegee, but these were benign and confined to the sky; these achieved atmospheric altitude. Bacterial and viral regiments invade silently, as if observing moments of silence to honor that which is under siege, to respect the victim (as the praying mantis seems a pious predator), to choose the host and not arbitrarily fall into an organic residence in which to proliferate quietly, reverently. It is strictly business when pathogens arrive. Suddenly, I have a cold.

         The generations of virus (exceedingly more fertile than rabbits) neither celebrate victory nor accept defeat with noise as I sneeze (utilizing blaring defenses) and cough up phlegm green and yellow, for a few days, with infection. Sometimes there is also a dull aching in my ears, a pain both felt and heard; a gong distant and under water is what I hear while all through the course of the cold, the ear’s external appearance remains unchanged. In my eyes, some redness, also at the tip of my nose sore from blowing; an awful nasal trumpet when Wesley blows his nose to clear it of catarrh, in the process actually producing a note out of Gershwinian rhapsodies, but nevertheless, it is annoying, especially close to my ear that can’t choose not to hear it. Afterwards, Wesley usually leaves a tissue stuck in his nose and asks, “Do you love me?” Do I love him as a time like this, I think, hearing those thoughts loudly and clearly; do I love him when he’s behind a most inadequate veil and obviously feeling excessively comfortable around me­–and then I start hearing Chaka Khan’s record, I Feel For You, so that’s what I say, “Wesley, I feel for you”, as seductively as I can so he’ll hear only that (for I know how consuming seduction is, and how sensitive his ears are to both what   tongues–make that only my tongue– say and what my tongue does) and not the layers, drowned out by seduction,[2] where I’m listening to myself plug into the blank all the words that can fit; I’m really singing. And I keep singing while preparing the evening meal, while blood drips from my not-infrequent kitchen ineptitude–no one likes to watch me handle a knife, cutting into my knuckles when I trim asparagus stalks, blood rising to the top of the superficial nick, rather like a Mercurochrome stain, then immediately thicker and forming a suitable Rorschach blot on the bandage; I once thought of making a poster (and science project) of used Band-Aid art, but was discouraged mostly for hygienic reasons; I’d taken the wrong side in the war to eradicate germs. There was other singeing as well, the vibrato sting of injury, a pulsating my ear disregarded, the waves of sting too shallow for what my ears could do: listen as Wesley told me he knew this would happen.

         Moments and movements without sound dignify the ear just as forfeiture of sensation exalts the leg. Everything that vibrates yet is unheard is either infrasonic (below frequencies of sound waves in the audible range) [3]  or ultrasonic (above frequencies in the audible range). When the audible range is bypassed, the ear does not have to discriminate; it does not have to declare as musically sweet, uniform vibrations that set in motion the fluid in the cochlea’s minute ocean where those tides are translated into impulses that are what the brain interprets; what the brain hears. Nor does the ear have to take displeasure (or delight) in more chaotic vibrations and their ruggedness, their dissonance that when allowed to intervene in melody lends the texture and complexity that improve musical compositions. The ear reprieved from making such judgments becomes a vessel strictly for maintaining balance. When its only function is balance, the ear is glorified; sound remains the result of vibration, but as if all of it is ultrasonic, all of it refined; as if only the ultrahighs survive sound’s elutriation–the spirit of music camping in a sanctuary of gently vibrating leaves or in the lethargic pirouette of the ceiling fan’s low-speed quiet. Such sound is not heard, but instead gives rise to awe.

 

         The nerves of the lower half of my body after fifteen years have again (this time for a longer spell) gone insubordinate in disregarding the brain’s classification of sensation. The nerves want to establish their own canon of sensation although they are the brain’s own tendrils for the relay of impulses, root hairs from a rutabaga of a brain.  Or perhaps more like a cranial Portuguese man-of-war armed with masses of tentacles, the ones that extend to my right leg, toxic. These nerves stop speaking to my brain, adolescent nerves rebelling and broadcasting what my brain dismisses as static, so extraordinary things happen: the open Jenn-Air oven door soothes, is icy when my right leg touches it, so cooling I don’t jump from its attained 450 degrees; instead my leg photographs a ripe and spectacular (so big and bright) berry. The rush of air is a blast of menthol and mint; I am ready to do an alpine skiing ad for York Peppermint Patties.

         These nerves have become tired of pleasantness; a feather one of my sons has found will torment me when he places it on my leg, drags its frozen knife-tip across my skin, and in so doing, exposes my lies to him about the incipient majesty in anything without having to turn to sadistic or masochistic explanations. The world is song I’ve said to my sons; listen. The ears would flap and try to fly if song had not captivated them. Consider, dear ones, that deaf ears are so captivated, they freeze, and then there is just that greatness available as echoes in a spiral in a shell’s many inner chambers, a whispered “ah” that never ends.

         In the morning, it turns out that a man has had his hand on my thigh all night, and I did not know of this simple contact that was trying to be more and would have been more with encouragement I would have given to such a lovely request, the tracing of small blossoms; that is to say: the transfer of his fingertip bouquet to my skin, an invisible tattoo. I wake to a stroking that coincides perfectly with light’s first and early stroking of the glass; the thin pale curtains are seductive in a way they won’t be later. The light heeding the raciness of the sheerness allows shadows of birds to dive into shadows of trees, fierce and eager lovers beyond caring about an audience. I wake to a stroking that exists only visually; if the motion makes sound, it is beyond my ears’ threshold of perception although it looks more intense, more vital than the whisper of his breathing that I do hear. For the first time, I resist pleasure, gratitude, tenderness, and everything that Wesley has loaded into his fingers. For the first time–although his fingers make wells in my skin, depressions around which ridges of skin rise somewhat like crowns. Ah, he still wants to make me royalty and I seem to reject it, the loss of feeling disguised as indifference. Years ago when we were falling in love, Wesley called me princess and my ears heard, because my brain sanctioned an elevation, the ultrasonic implications of his feelings that each day sought higher expression and made demands increasingly difficult for mere bodies to fulfill; the feelings were becoming so invested with fortitude and energy as to be able to exist without us. All unheard ultrasonic music is their song. The first time he called me princess, I wanted to fold the lobe of my ear up and the helix down so as to seal the actual sound inside my head, the cilia quivering always, mesmerized like the rest of me, a most rapturous form of tinnitus.[4] I imagined that if he places his ear against mine, he would hear the resonance of his calling me and from then on would call me honey cowry or concha or precious wentletrap.

         During the past fifteen years, this body has served me so well, I do nothing but praise it and the beautiful conspiracy of its systems. Conspiracy because what occurs within me are secretive adventures: my digestion[5] and thinking are invisible, and exactly what my eyes and ears, tongue, skin and nose process is not necessarily disclosed; even my respiration is mostly concealed (especially under the sweaters and coats) except for the intimacy of breath I share with those invited to share theirs with me, a child falling asleep in my arms, warm puffs rewarding my skin with the most sanitary of kisses, or my husband’s whispering in the cinema or at dinner things for my ears only.[6] As for what is made visible when I breathe in cold circumstances, that is just residue made visible by warmed exhalation colliding with winter, just carbon dioxide waste, a fibrous or cotton-candy-looking skeleton of breath, My pulse is all mine.[7]

 

* * *

 

         Thank you, body, for keeping the fifteen pounds[8] gained during my last pregnancy that was shared with a tumor trying to become as large as the baby, my baby’s mute, deaf, lifeless twin, fifteen marvelous pounds that have given me a voluptuous potential I’d never earned before,[9] being in the past so lean, my legs more like reeds, carrying me always close to shorelines where herons balanced on even less than I had. The birds took off as if flight were unremarkable, but the wingspan, the fully extended stole of feathers provided profound evidence of conceit and the arrogance I assumed was required to kiss off gravity in the first place. I like when birds operate in higher levels of sky, advanced sky that seems unlike the colorless portion I stand within, sucking it endlessly and mostly soundlessly.

         The thinner the plant by the pond, bird-leg thin, the faster it seemed to respond to silent breezes, breezes silent to me, but producing sound at levels only visual to me or only felt against my skin (it is as if waves of sound attempt to enter the body everywhere, but succeed only with the ear) that horripilates if the air is moving beyond my threshold of perceiving sound is sufficiently chilled–horripilation is the eruption of goose bumps, an eruption that is like the score of crazy orchestration, minute brown whole notes wildly confiscating my arms. Was my first visit to Euclid Creek also my first time envying the grass that fluttered to air music I could not hear? Dandelion seeds would become caught in chords, holding those notes until a descending scale brought them to the ground where they germinated and prepared for another sprouting. As I ran, I too set the air moving according to my rhythms, and this the grass heard too, and this the dandelion seeds danced to also, a fully-seeded plant in each of my hands as I twirled, the seeds coming loose and riding in my small spirals–a carnival of imperceptible sounds; a disturbance of air that disturbed nothing else.

 

         At some point, it may not be how things feel that has meaning. I will know a spoon is in my hand because I see it, because I hear it scrape the bottom of a bowl, stir iced tea, but without a confirmation of the logic of other senses, I won’t know whether or not a spoon has been picked up. Left will be only abstract feeling, extrasensory love, mental orgasm, more and more imagination. It is for love of a man that I hope the neurologists are able to help me feel again what my man wants me to feel every day when he kisses me, when he holds me, as he sets out to disprove the existence of inadequacy. I will still desire him; I just won’t know that I have been satisfied, but as I always have, I will enjoy his satisfaction. I have not wanted my satisfaction to be mine alone, but consistently I have wanted to give it to him, to make it large enough to encompass him, to transform a selfishness into a generosity.

         At some point I may understand, better than I ever could have without this anarchy of body, that perception is a trick. Knowing the deception of sensation, I turn to eyes and ears, assuming that even if the whole body (including taste buds) loses the sense of touch, vision and hearing can continue and will do so more intensely. There is, however, the matter of my myopia, the distortion already present in how the world looks to me, blurry with my unaided eyes as if everything grows fur. There is a clean-edged perception from six inches in front of my face to a depth of relative infinity only through corrective lenses. My ears and their no-known deficit will have to compensate, It is amazing what the body can live without successfully: limbs, sanity, movement, sight, speech, breasts, genitalia, a kidney, voice box, lung or heart so long as there are artificial replacements. An external ear isn’t absolutely essential (to lose one wouldn’t necessarily impair hearing) except, really, for the cosmetic spectacle if such eccentricity of appearance bothered the earless one.

         When I was about ten, I knew a girl, Judy, who had her ears pierced the day she turned thirteen. It was a home piercing; her aunt, another teenager, sterilized a needle in the gas stove’s flame and while the needle was still hot, poked it through Judy’s lobe that was already hurting from having ice cubes held against it t anesthetize it. Straws that had been singed at each end were inserted in the fresh hole to keep it open while the ear healed. She bathed her ears in isopropyl alcohol and witch hazel every morning and night, but for all that rigorous nursing, something went wrong. Knobs started growing from the back of her ear, a cluster of irregular lumps, excresences, keloids that made wearing earrings, those 24-karat gold studs she’d bought, impossible. I thought her ears would have to be amputated, but she still had them, the keloids too, two years later and the last time I saw her. Judy, although she sometimes talked to me, mostly hung out in the circle of older girls, some of whom wore earrings so humongous and heavy, they were weights that more appropriately should have been attached to wrists or ankles. These weights stretched the lobes and widened the pierced holes so tremendously, these girls could wear pierced earrings only on wires; there was nothing on which studs and earring backs could anchor. So Judy’s friends kept a couple of pencils or pens in these holes. Or they carried lipsticks in these holes, rolled-up dollars, and one of them, Shaynee, hid cigarettes inside the money roll. The Famous and Fabulous Lobe Girls of the Rose of Sharon Baptist Church Young Adult Choir.

 

         I love the perfection of Wesley’s ears; it is perfection because of what has become a burnt standard, the darker rim, the top of the helix that flaming vegetable oil singed (on another night, early in our marriage, of my kitchen ineptitude) when he doused the pot with water, and only after scattering the flames (that then leaped to scorch the curtains also), thought to clamp the lid on the pot and throw it off the second-floor apartment’s back porch into a bank of snow. I run my fingers along this healed rim, delighting in its flame-caused fine scallops, fluted like a tiny pie, one downsized for a mouse. Our younger son’s ears were discolored from the moment of birth, all white except for the rim, the top of the helix where the ear was so dark, it seemed he had been born with scabs; the rest of his body was golden, a richly yellow tan. The white ears persisted for four months until there was a blessing of pigment–apparently drained from the scabs (they faded to tan) and redistributed.

         Wesley has mild hearing deficit in his left ear; I have to get close, as I like to anyway, to speak to him on the left, where I usually am as we walk. It is mostly, however, his right ear that receives attention as my head rests through our nights on his right shoulder, as I ride as passenger in our truck. A decorative bass clef is on the side of his head. His own hyperbola–I am in love with Wesleyan geometry, the arrangement of his points, lines, and angles, and its effects upon space that I enter, that I bend and that bend bends me as I approach him, more supple than  I am at any other time. He is a mathematical concoction, a figure of what exists theoretically in numbers; a prediction and explanation of what exists within things and makes them behave as they do, as opposed to a verifiable object. This is the calculus in which I would have excelled had I been allowed to study it when I was assigned elsewhere.

         At times his ear seems a study of an embryo. In fact, acupuncture points on the ear correspond to an understanding of the ear as an embryo. Rudimentary ears form just a few days after conception, and the cochlea completes its development before birth.[10] Wesley’s ear is a map to all that he is. Its auditory canal all dark with a scant covering of cerumen (the wax that traps foreign bodies, such as insects and dust, and attempts to prevent their deeper penetration. His earwax is as moist and dark as molasses but doesn’t taste sweet, whereas mine is crumbly and barely amber) seems an ideal confessional. I love our time in bed, our voices low, so that our sons hear nothing but a soothing hum, my mouth near his ear because of how he holds me, my head an egg in his nest of shoulder, and I speak into that confessional, saying everything I need to say, everything he needs to hear, filling his head with resonance.

         I have said to him that his ear is a partial flower, a single petal, part of an iris, dark, as dark as the wax his ear contains, because it is night and I can’t see color anymore. His ear is a night flower; it blooms only at night; it unfolds and releases a powerful fragrance that lures the nocturnal bugs, me among them, seeking that Aqua Velva bite and nectar.

         There are night-blooming botanical rarities that many people have never seen, rarities for which it is worth losing sleep to hurry sundown and see the pale flowers open for the luna and white-lined sphinx moths, all of the moon flowers opening at once, the sounding of gauze trumpets, a unison oh so remarkable, unified to a ten-thousandth of a second. When they open, I open my body to Wesley, unified to that same ten-thousandth.[11]

         Each day he comes home, from the office, to the only comfort that sustains him, to a castle of ruled by symbiosis. Now that numbness again is part of this royal treatment, that sweet man checks my bath, testing the water since today I perceive only coolness, relief, paradigms of beneficent expression–and nothing else in the world.

 

 

        

 

[1] The word fleece always comforts me with the thought of the generosity of lambs. I use this word just to evoke comfort when subconsciously I am tuned to needing comfort. I think much (both frequently and highly) of this generosity, this innocent dispensation that remains in force into a sheep’s maturity. An innocence retained. My ears as well are sensitive to the slightest emotional tilting out of balance, and also to the spatial location, so hearing the whisper of fleece inside my head restores; hearing the quiet of my thinking makes of my brain a chapel that dispenses equilibrium and renewal. As I clean my blinds by running a lamb’s wool duster back and forth over them, the wool’s lanolin holds the dust securely, dust composed of the music of existing, the ultimate disintegration of things into superb granular substance; to scatter dust is to release a slur of hemidemisemiquavers (sixty-fourth notes) into the air. With my wrist’s motion, I am making music; the duster is like a fluffy microphone although it is my perception and imagination that are amplified, not volume or my hearing.   A conductor brandishing arms, hands, and baton makes a music separate from that of the orchestral instruments: a transcending, unheard, acoustically pure song exhausting the audible high pitches and still ascending, accessing summits where sound is divinity. Sometimes I watch videos of symphony orchestras with the sound muted so as to showcase only the comfort of this effect.

[2] Other than during such seduction, he is polyphonic, as human hearing is designed to be, able to hear as many sounds as are present simultaneously; pitch, location, distance, and intensity helping the brain distinguish each sound, the waves entering the ear at different angles, bouncing from one part of the auricle (external ear) to another before falling into the auditory canal.

[3] Some infrasonic vibrations can be felt, however, since they occur within a range in which some parts of the body resonate and make their own infrasonic hymns. Despite a human tendency toward intellectual chauvinism, our hearing is quite limited among animals (eyesight too, as we, unlike cats, for instance, lose color perception in the dark); dolphins, bats, and cats can hear well into what for humans is the ultrasonic range, and dogs can hear both higher and lower pitches than people can hear.

[4] Tinnitus otherwise can be maddening, I’ve heard, the hearing of nonexistent sound, perhaps a constant flute, a single measure of a musical piece repeated and repeated, each time further from perfection. Or a sound more harsh and equally unrelenting, wasp buzz or a wolf call at all hours, perpetual percussion: gong and cymbal, the sound of a migraine headache’s pulsation pushed limbically into audibility. Some researchers believe these sounds originate in the inner ear and are boosted by the brain’s limbic system which is responsible for emptions.

[5] Excluding belches and anal flatuses that I never laughed at even when I was not the source, for the sound that reached my ear was that of a tuba, especially the attempts of a boy (that I liked) to play one. He walked home from school trying to play it, letting the tuba do all the awkward talking, its voice deeper than his would be for years.   As for the odor, it was powerful but faded quickly, so hardly powerful at all–a charming little paradox. There is also the audible borborybmus which is hunger pangs or a rumbling in the intestines such as what follows the ingestion of dairy products by the lactose-intolerant.

[6] “For my ears only” yet what he says is hardly original and probably not uttered for the first time; he has loved other women and told them things fir their ears only that delighted their ears probably no less (though I prefer to believe less) than my ears are delighted. It is fascinating that our secrets, our privacy, our so stunning intimacy is not unique–I cannot prove that what I hear is different form what other women have heard when he read to them the same passages of poem written by him (and mostly by others), but I would insist that loving him has caused a reshaping of the cochlea so that his voice is brighter than any other. So too has my skin been reconfigured, its nerves reprogrammed so that his breath and touch accomplish more (except where there is anarchy). My ears are combination locks, that is to say.

[7] And that s why it is appropriate that my primary are physician or the nurse-practitioner as if she make take it.

[8] That number again–repetitions always try to speak to me of a sacred potential, the repetition disproving accident. Symmetry is of course a form of repetition. And habits, say the habit of these footnotes, these branchings and digressions that seek to copy the anarchy of the way the arms and legs digress from the trunk, the ovaries from the uterus, the digits from the feet and hands, the ear and hair from the head.

[9] I can almost hear my hips that now are as round as bass clefs and their promise of rich sound.

[10] Here’s something else about the cochlea that I read somewhere, I think in Newsday: the cochleas of lesbians apparently become masculinized during gestation and are unlike the cochleas of heterosexual women; they are more like, the study found, the inner ears of men.

[11] I remember a girl I read about once–I think her name was Katie–who depended upon such night shows, who can never be a sun worshipper because ultraviolet radiation (the visible spectrum is not a problem–except that it is part of the electromagnetic range of sunlight) blisters and ulcerates her skin; light is fatal to her, so hers is the world of shadow, the quieter world when most things sleep, as if light also controls volume. Crickets seem more powerful at night, theirs voices more urgent. The sound of owls emerges, sound of wolves, sound of the settling of wood, sound of single drops of water, of my mother calling me home, as she used to (my bedtime), from many miles away; even the sound of caterpillars still polishing off in unison at dusk the needles of evergreen shrubs and the young May leaves become more pronounced. In the darkness is the enhanced demarcation of sound, is Katie’s concert. In the moonlight is Katie’s vacation, in the evening is her triumph over xeroderma pigmentosum (her extreme light sensitivity); in the evening is the rising of her award of the precious silver medal with it s any maria, all those splendid shelters from illumination, black heavens. She loves the ahs, depends on the hushes.

and the revised Thomas Higginson version, (since that is where my heart now is –always with this character, a prototype for the real man I so want in my life)

SOME PRAISE FOR A LITTLE RIGHT-SIDED ANARCHY

(THAT IS ALSO TRIBUTE TO THE LOBE GIRLS)

THYLIAS MOSS

 

Not in fifteen years had it happened, a short-lived (days) right-leg winter, an internal ice age situated in the bones. Alarming, yet exciting departure from the normal whose grip sometimes gets too tight and imposes an unfortunate choke hold on the extraordinary. A deep chill is also mercilessly clean; frigid winds sweep the southernmost continent pure. Polar ice caps like seals of approval. Some praise, then, for a little right-sided anarchy.

         From toe to hip, sensation is gone and with it the awareness of half of my lap; a magazine resting on my right thigh hurts, an electrified Science News tries to shock the numbness out of misbehaving nerves, but the cold darts of current are excruciating in their intensity and fury. Only napped cloth like flannel or chamois, only fleece[1] is tolerable.   My leg must be swaddled in it against the cutting cold of smooth percale sheets that unaffected parts of my body have not yet warmed; it must be a cushion between my skin and a piece of the thinnest onionskin paper that seems a slice of solid carbon dioxide so cold is its burn –I wince at the brutality of its weight as I persist in writing a love letter to my husband. Transfiguration is like this, sudden, without warning.

         There’s a chance that, eventually, the conversion will be complete. By the inch, my skin (the body’s largest organ) will continue to lose sensory perception as I become outfitted in Antarctic finery, as I am primed for an absolute zero of being, becoming so cold that even in the temperate zone’s snowy winters, I melt like dry ice, from solid gas to vapor. Before it dissipated, the vapor from the dry ice melting a month ago in my sink (we’d brought back frozen novelties from five hundred miles away, Wesley so crazy about lemon premium ice cream) was white with ragged edges, scored patches of fog snatched from a more widespread cloudiness in an attempted liberation of sky’s preferred light and color. From my sink, stringy clouds rose, white rivers of spirochetes as I’d seen them move (making unheard pathological music) under microscopes in documentaries about singinggee, but these were benign and confined to the sky; these achieved atmospheric altitude. Bacterial and viral regiments invade silently, as if observing moments of silence to honor that which is under siege, to respect the victim (as the praying mantis seems a pious predator), to choose the host and not arbitrarily fall into an organic residence in which to proliferate quietly, reverently. It is strictly business when pathogens arrive. Suddenly, I have a cold.

         The generations of virus (exceedingly more fertile than rabbits) neither celebrate victory nor accept defeat with noise as I sneeze (utilizing blaring defenses) and cough up phlegm green and yellow, for a few days, with infection. Sometimes there is also a dull aching in my ears, a pain both felt and heard; a gong distant and under water is what I hear while all through the course of the cold, the ear’s external appearance remains unchanged. In my eyes, some redness, also at the tip of my nose sore from blowing; an awful nasal trumpet when Thomas blows his nose to clear it of catarrh, in the process actually producing a note out of Gershwinian rhapsodies, but nevertheless, it is annoying, especially close to my ear that can’t choose not to hear it. Afterwards, Thomas usually leaves a tissue stuck in his nose and asks, “Do you love me?” Do I love him as a time like this, I think, hearing those thoughts loudly and clearly; do I love him when he’s behind a most inadequate veil and obviously feeling excessively comfortable around me­–and then I start hearing Chaka Khan’s record, I Feel For You, so that’s what I say, “Thomas, I feel for you, as seductively as I can so he’ll hear only that (for I know how consuming seduction is, and how sensitive his ears are to both what   tongues–make that only my tongue– say and what my tongue does) and not the layers, drowned out by seduction,[2] where I’m listening to myself plug into the blank all the words that can fit; I’m really singing. And I keep singing while preparing the evening meal, while blood drips from my not-infrequent kitchen ineptitude–no one likes to watch me handle a knife, cutting into my knuckles when I trim asparagus stalks, blood rising to the top of the superficial nick, rather like a Mercurochrome stain, then immediately thicker and forming a suitable Rorschach blot on the bandage; I once thought of making a poster (and science project) of used Band-Aid art, but was discouraged mostly for hygienic reasons; I’d taken the wrong side in the war to eradicate germs. There was other singeing as well, the vibrato sting of injury, a pulsating my ear disregarded, the waves of sting too shallow for what my ears could do: listen as Thomas told me he knew this would happen.

         Moments and movements without sound dignify the ear just as forfeiture of sensation exalts the leg. Everything that vibrates yet is unheard is either infrasonic (below frequencies of sound waves in the audible range)[3] or ultrasonic (above frequencies in the audible range). When the audible range is bypassed, the ear does not have to discriminate; it does not have to declare as musically sweet, uniform vibrations that set in motion the fluid in the cochlea’s minute ocean where those tides are translated into impulses that are what the brain interprets; what the brain hears. Nor does the ear have to take displeasure (or delight) in more chaotic vibrations and their ruggedness, their dissonance that when allowed to intervene in melody lends the texture and complexity that improve musical compositions. The ear reprieved from making such judgments becomes a vessel strictly for maintaining balance. When its only function is balance, the ear is glorified; sound remains the result of vibration, but as if all of it is ultrasonic, all of it refined; as if only the ultrahighs survive sound’s elutriation–the spirit of music camping in a sanctuary of gently vibrating leaves or in the lethargic pirouette of the ceiling fan’s low-speed quiet. Such sound is not heard, but instead gives rise to awe.

 

         The nerves of the lower half of my body after fifteen years have again (this time for a longer spell) gone insubordinate in disregarding the brain’s classification of sensation. The nerves want to establish their own canon of sensation although they are the brain’s own tendrils for the relay of impulses, root hairs from a rutabaga of a brain.  Or perhaps more like a cranial Portuguese man-of-war armed with masses of tentacles, the ones that extend to my right leg, toxic. These nerves stop speaking to my brain, adolescent nerves rebelling and broadcasting what my brain dismisses as static, so extraordinary things happen: the open Jenn-Air oven door soothes, is icy when my right leg touches it, so cooling I don’t jump from its attained 450 degrees; instead my leg photographs a ripe and spectacular (so big and bright) berry. The rush of air is a blast of menthol and mint; I am ready to do an alpine skiing ad for York Peppermint Patties.

         These nerves have become tired of pleasantness; a feather one of my sons has found will torment me when he places it on my leg, drags its frozen knife-tip across my skin, and in so doing, exposes my lies to him about the incipient majesty in anything without having to turn to sadistic or masochistic explanations. The world is song I’ve said to my sons; listen. The ears would flap and try to fly if song had not captivated them. Consider, dear ones, that deaf ears are so captivated, they freeze, and then there is just that greatness available as echoes in a spiral in a shell’s many inner chambers, a whispered “ah” that never ends.

         In the morning, it turns out that a man has had his hand on my thigh all night, and I did not know of this simple contact that was trying to be more and would have been more with encouragement I would have given to such a lovely request, the tracing of small blossoms; that is to say: the transfer of his fingertip bouquet to my skin, an invisible tattoo. I wake to a stroking that coincides perfectly with light’s first and early stroking of the glass; the thin pale curtains are seductive in a way they won’t be later. The light heeding the raciness of the sheerness allows shadows of birds to dive into shadows of trees, fierce and eager lovers beyond caring about an audience. I wake to a stroking that exists only visually; if the motion makes sound, it is beyond my ears’ threshold of perception although it looks more intense, more vital than the whisper of his breathing that I do hear. For the first time, I resist pleasure, gratitude, tenderness, and everything that Thomas has loaded into his fingers. For the first time–although his fingers make wells in my skin, depressions around which ridges of skin rise somewhat like crowns. Ah, he still wants to make me royalty and I seem to reject it, the loss of feeling disguised as indifference. Years ago when we were falling in love, Thomas called me princess and my ears heard, because my brain sanctioned an elevation, the ultrasonic implications of his feelings that each day sought higher expression and made demands increasingly difficult for mere bodies to fulfill; the feelings were becoming so invested with fortitude and energy as to be able to exist without us. All unheard ultrasonic music is their song. The first time he called me princess, I wanted to fold the lobe of my ear up and the helix down so as to seal the actual sound inside my head, the cilia quivering always, mesmerized like the rest of me, a most rapturous form of tinnitus.[4] I imagined that if he places his ear against mine, he would hear the resonance of his calling me and from then on would call me honey cowry or concha or precious wentletrap.

         During the past fifteen years, this body has served me so well, I do nothing but praise it and the beautiful conspiracy of its systems. Conspiracy because what occurs within me are secretive adventures: my digestion[5] and thinking are invisible, and exactly what my eyes and ears, tongue, skin and nose process is not necessarily disclosed; even my respiration is mostly concealed (especially under the sweaters and coats) except for the intimacy of breath I share with those invited to share theirs with me, a child falling asleep in my arms, warm puffs rewarding my skin with the most sanitary of kisses, or my husbands whispering in the cinema or at dinner things for my ears only.[6] As for what is made visible when I breathe in cold circumstances, that is just residue made visible by warmed exhalation colliding with winter, just carbon dioxide waste, a fibrous or cotton-candy-looking skeleton of breath, My pulse is all mine.[7]

 

* * *

 

         Thank you, body, for keeping the fifteen pounds[8] gained during my last pregnancy that was shared with a tumor trying to become as large as the baby, my baby’s mute, deaf, lifeless twin, fifteen marvelous pounds that have given me a voluptuous potential I’d never earned before,[9] being in the past so lean, my legs more like reeds, carrying me always close to shorelines where herons balanced on even less than I had. The birds took off as if flight were unremarkable, but the wingspan, the fully extended stole of feathers provided profound evidence of conceit and the arrogance I assumed was required to kiss off gravity in the first place. I like when birds operate in higher levels of sky, advanced sky that seems unlike the colorless portion I stand within, sucking it endlessly and mostly soundlessly.

         The thinner the plant by the pond, bird-leg thin, the faster it seemed to respond to silent breezes, breezes silent to me, but producing sound at levels only visual to me or only felt against my skin (it is as if waves of sound attempt to enter the body everywhere, but succeed only with the ear) that horripilates if the air is moving beyond my threshold of perceiving sound is sufficiently chilled– is the eruption of goose bumps, an eruption that is like the score of crazy orchestration, minute brown whole notes wildly confiscating my arms. Was my first visit to Euclid Creek also my first time envying the grass that fluttered to air music I could not hear? Dandelion seeds would become caught in chords, holding those notes until a descending scale brought them to the ground where they germinated and prepared for another sprouting. As I ran, I too set the air moving according to my rhythms, and this the grass heard too, and this the dandelion seeds danced to also, a fully-seeded plant in each of my hands as I twirled, the seeds coming loose and riding in my small spirals–a carnival of imperceptible sounds; a disturbance of air that disturbed nothing else.

 

         At some point, it may not be how things feel that has meaning. I will know a spoon is in my hand because I see it, because I hear it scrape the bottom of a bowl, stir iced tea, but without a confirmation of the logic of other senses, I won’t know whether or not a spoon has been picked up. Left will be only abstract feeling, extrasensory love, mental orgasm, more and more imagination. It is for love of a man that I hope the neurologists are able to help me feel again what my man wants me to feel every day when he kisses me, when he holds me, as he sets out to disprove the existence of inadequacy. I will still desire him; I just won’t know that I have been satisfied, but as I always have, I will enjoy his satisfaction. I have not wanted my satisfaction to be mine alone, but consistently I have wanted to give it to him, to make it large enough to encompass him, to transform a selfishness into a generosity.

         At some point I may understand, better than I ever could have without this anarchy of body, that perception is a trick. Knowing the deception of sensation, I turn to eyes and ears, assuming that even if the whole body (including taste buds) loses the sense of touch, vision and hearing can continue and will do so more intensely. There is, however, the matter of my myopia, the distortion already present in how the world looks to me, blurry with my unaided eyes as if everything grows fur. There is a clean-edged perception from six inches in front of my face to a depth of relative infinity only through corrective lenses. My ears and their no-known deficit will have to compensate, It is amazing what the body can live without successfully: limbs, sanity, movement, sight, speech, breasts, genitalia, a kidney, voice box, lung or heart so long as there are artificial replacements. An external ear isn’t absolutely essential (to lose one wouldn’t necessarily impair hearing) except, really, for the cosmetic spectacle if such eccentricity of appearance bothered the earless one.

         When I was about ten, I knew a girl, Judy, who had her ears pierced the day she turned thirteen. It was a home piercing; her aunt, another teenager, sterilized a needle in the gas stove’s flame and while the needle was still hot, poked it through Judy’s lobe that was already hurting from having ice cubes held against it t anesthetize it. Straws that had been singed at each end were inserted in the fresh hole to keep it open while the ear healed. She bathed her ears in isopropyl alcohol and witch hazel every morning and night, but for all that rigorous nursing, something went wrong. Knobs started growing from the back of her ear, a cluster of irregular lumps, excresences, keloids that made wearing earrings, those 24-karat gold studs she’d bought, impossible. I thought her ears would have to be amputated, but she still had them, the keloids too, two years later and the last time I saw her. Judy, although she sometimes talked to me, mostly hung out in the circle of older girls, some of whom wore earrings so humongous and heavy, they were weights that more appropriately should have been attached to wrists or ankles. These weights stretched the lobes and widened the pierced holes so tremendously, these girls could wear pierced earrings only on wires; there was nothing on which studs and earring backs could anchor. So Judy’s friends kept a couple of pencils or pens in these holes. Or they carried lipsticks in these holes, rolled-up dollars, and one of them, Shaynee, hid cigarettes inside the money roll. The Famous and Fabulous Lobe Girls of the Rose of Sharon Baptist Church Young Adult Choir.

 

         I love the perfection of Thomas’s ears; it is perfection because of what has become a burnt standard, the darker rim, the top of the helix that flaming vegetable oil singed (on another night, early in our marriage, of my kitchen ineptitude) when he doused the pot with water, and only after scattering the flames (that then leaped to scorch the curtains also), thought to clamp the lid on the pot and throw it off the second-floor apartment’s back porch into a bank of snow. I run my fingers along this healed rim, delighting in its flame-caused fine scallops, fluted like a tiny pie, one downsized for a mouse. Our younger son’s ears were discolored from the moment of birth, all white except for the rim, the top of the helix where the ear was so dark, it seemed he had been born with scabs; the rest of his body was golden, a richly yellow tan. The white ears persisted for four months until there was a blessing of pigment–apparently drained from the scabs (they faded to tan) and redistributed.

         Thomas has mild hearing deficit in his left ear; I have to get close, as I like to anyway, to speak to him on the left, where I usually am as we walk. It is mostly, however, his right ear that receives attention as my head rests through our nights on his right shoulder, as I ride as passenger in our truck. A decorative bass clef is on the side of his head. His own hyperbola–I am in love with Thomasan geometry, the arrangement of his points, lines, and angles, and its effects upon space that I enter, that I bend and that bends me as I approach him, more supple than I am at any other time. He is a mathematical concoction, a figure of what exists theoretically in numbers; a prediction and explanation of what exists within things and makes them behave as they do, as opposed to a verifiable object. This is the calculus in which I would have excelled had I been allowed to study it when I was assigned elsewhere.

         At times his ear seems a study of an embryo. In fact, acupuncture points on the ear correspond to an understanding of the ear as an embryo. Rudimentary ears form just a few days after conception, and the cochlea completes its development before birth.[10] Thomas’s ear is a map to all that he is. Its auditory canal all dark with a scant covering of cerumen (the wax that traps foreign bodies, such as insects and dust, and attempts to prevent their deeper penetration. His earwax is as moist and dark as molasses but doesn’t taste sweet, whereas mine is crumbly and barely amber) seems an ideal confessional. I love our time in bed, our voices low, so that our sons hear nothing but a soothing hum, my mouth near his ear because of how he holds me, my head an egg in his nest of shoulder, and I speak into that confessional, saying everything I need to say, everything he needs to hear, filling his head with resonance.

         I have said to him that his ear is a partial flower, a single petal, part of an iris, dark, as dark as the wax his ear contains, because it is night and I can’t see color anymore. His ear is a night flower; it blooms only at night; it unfolds and releases a powerful fragrance that lures the nocturnal bugs, me among them, seeking that Dakar bite and nectar.

         There are night-blooming botanical rarities that many people have never seen, rarities for which it is worth losing sleep to hurry sundown and see the pale flowers open for the luna and white-lined sphinx moths, all of the moon flowers opening at once, the sounding of gauze trumpets, a unison oh so remarkable, unified to a ten-thousandth of a second. When they open, I open my body to Thomas, unified to that same ten-thousandth.[11]

   Each day he comes home, from the office, to the only comfort that sustains him, to a castle of ruled by symbiosis. Now that numbness again is part of this royal treatment, that sweet man checks my bath, testing the water since today I perceive only coolness, relief, paradigms of beneficent expression–and nothing else in the world.

 

 

        

[1] The word fleece always comforts me with the thought of the generosity of lambs. I use this word just to evoke comfort when subconsciously I am tuned to needing comfort. I think much (both frequently and highly) of this generosity, this innocent dispensation that remains in force into a sheep’s maturity. An innocence retained. My ears as well are sensitive to the slightest emotional tilting out of balance, and also to the spatial location, so hearing the whisper of fleece inside my head restores; hearing the quiet of my thinking makes of my brain a chapel that dispenses equilibrium and renewal. As I clean my blinds by running a lamb’s wool duster back and forth over them, the wool’s lanolin holds the dust securely, dust composed of the music of existing, the ultimate disintegration of things into superb granular substance; to scatter dust is to release a slur of hemidemisemiquavers (sixty-fourth notes) into the air. With my wrist’s motion, I am making music; the duster is like a fluffy microphone although it is my perception and imagination that are amplified, not volume or my hearing.   A conductor brandishing arms, hands, and baton makes a music separate from that of the orchestral instruments: a transcending, unheard, acoustically pure song exhausting the audible high pitches and still ascending, accessing summits where sound is divinity. Sometimes I watch videos of symphony orchestras with the sound muted so as to showcase only the comfort of this effect.

[2] Other than during such seduction, he is polyphonic, as human hearing is designed to be, able to hear as many sounds as are present simultaneously; pitch, location, distance, and intensity helping the brain distinguish each sound, the waves entering the ear at different angles, bouncing from one part of the auricle (external ear) to another before falling into the auditory canal.

[3] Some infrasonic vibrations can be felt, however, since they occur within a range in which some parts of the body resonate and make their own infrasonic hymns. Despite a human tendency toward intellectual chauvinism, our hearing is quite limited among animals (eyesight too, as we, unlike cats, for instance, lose color perception in the dark); dolphins, bats, and cats can hear well into what for humans is the ultrasonic range, and dogs can hear both higher and lower pitches than people can hear.

[4] Tinnitus otherwise can be maddening, I’ve heard, the hearing of nonexistent sound, perhaps a constant flute, a single measure of a musical piece repeated and repeated, each time further from perfection. Or a sound more harsh and equally unrelenting, wasp buzz or a wolf call at all hours, perpetual percussion: gong and cymbal, the sound of a migraine headache’s pulsation pushed limbically into audibility. Some researchers believe these sounds originate in the inner ear and are boosted by the brain’s limbic system which is responsible for emptions.

[5] Excluding belches and anal flatuses that I never laughed at even when I was not the source, for the sound that reached my ear was that f a tuba, especially the attempts of a boy (that I liked) to play one. He walked home from school trying to play it, letting the tuba do all the awkward talking, its voice deeper than his would be for years.   As for the odor, it was powerful but faded quickly, so hardly powerful at all–a charming little paradox. There is also the audible borborybmus which is hunger pangs or a rumbling in the intestines such as what follows the ingestion of dairy products by the lactose-intolerant.

[6] “For my ears only” yet what he says is hardly original and probably not uttered for the first time; he has loved other women and told them things fir their ears only that delighted their ears probably no less (though I prefer to believe less) than my ears are delighted. It is fascinating that our secrets, our privacy, our so stunning intimacy is not unique–I cannot prove that what I hear is different from what other women have heard when he read to them the same passages of poem written by him (and mostly by others), but I would insist that loving him has caused a reshaping of the cochlea so that his voice is brighter than any other. So too has my skin been reconfigured, its nerves reprogrammed so that his breath and touch accomplish more (except where there is anarchy). My ears are combination locks, that is to say.

[7] And that’s why it is appropriate that my primary are physician or the nurse-practitioner as if she make take it.

[8] That number again–repetitions always try to speak to me of a sacred potential, the repetition disproving accident. Symmetry is of course a form of repetition. And habits, say the habit of these footnotes, these branchings and digressions that seek to copy the anarchy of the way the arms and legs digress from the trunk, the ovaries from the uterus, the digits from the feet and hands, the ear and hair from the head.

[9] I can almost hear my hips that now are as round as bass clefs and their promise of rich sound.

[10] Here’s something else about the cochlea that I read somewhere, I think in Newsday: the cochleas of lesbians apparently become masculinized during gestation and are unlike the cochleas of heterosexual women; they are more like, the study found, the inner ears of men.

[11] I remember a girl I read about once–I think her name was Katie–who depended upon such night shows, who can never be a sun worshipper because ultraviolet radiation (the visible spectrum is not a problem–except that it is part of the electromagnetic range of sunlight) blisters and ulcerates her skin; light is fatal to her, so hers is the world of shadow, the quieter world when most things sleep, as if light also controls volume. Crickets seem more powerful at night, theirs voices more urgent. The sound of owls emerges, sound of wolves, sound of the settling of wood, sound of single drops of water, of my mother calling me home, as she used to (my bedtime), from many miles away; even the sound of still polishing off in unison at dusk the needles of evergreen shrubs and the young May leaves become more pronounced. In the darkness is the enhanced demarcation of sound, is Katie’s concert. In the moonlight is Katie’s vacation, in the evening is her triumph over xeroderma pigmentosum (her extreme light sensitivity); in the evening is the rising of her award of the precious silver medal with it s any maria, all those splendid shelters from illumination, black heavens. She loves the ahs, depends on the hushes.

 

A Most Special Hat

Honoring the hat of a friend
that I usually wear on my three-miles walks (as seen above, listening to what is now my favorite poem)

I do not know the history of this hat, don’t know when he got  it or why
so do not know how often my friend wore it or what hats may have taken its place…

I do not know how important the hat may have been to him, but the hat helps me walk, so please think of these as selfies, as I wore the hat in so many of the photos I took of myself.

A power hat; that is, I feel so empowered when I wear it –today I took off the hate and photographed it by itself, without me.  But this is my hat now, and I feel so privileged to wear it,

so IN HONOR OF THE HAT ITSELF, Golden Coach by Dobbs, “Hughes, Hatcher, Suffrim” Detroit:

the hat itself, beautiful without me, a poem on my head, on top of the head that has learned to think I’m at the top of the world, which is where the HAT places me,

for when I wear it, I feel MOST SPECIAL ALSO

Thank you for this Most Special Hat –that inspires me endlessly…. I plan to wear it as I work on finishing my romance novel tomorrow… 

A MOST SPECIAL HAT-18

A MOST SPECIAL HAT-16

 

A MOST SPECIAL HAT-15

 

A MOST SPECIAL HAT-04

LOVE-WALK-05

This hat has become my crown.