Catholicprivateuniversityintheheatsday’s Childe

The field. Plastic grass and a mix of soccer goalposts and lacrosse nets. Walk the campus early morning to breakfast and then to AP institute. Long days sitting in painful desks. Empathy for my own students who sit in way worse desks. Everything revolves around questions 1, 2, and 3 of the AP literature exam. Poetry coming out my ears. That’s a good thing, though. Sharon Olds, Rachel M. Harper, Billy Collins, Keats and Blake, to name a few. Scoring. Calibration. Irony is king here.

Nights on Adams Avenue. Lestat’s Coffee. El Zarape. Normal Heights. So many years living in this town. Feels familiar and yet, not. The new building projects, the shiny retail joints, Ballast Point gone corporate, all changed, changed… you know the rest. A novel at rest. It sits on the desk in the dorm room, edited through. Line by line. Red inserts addressed. Timeframe imposed. Everything makes some sort of sense. Rethink that, some  things make some sort of sense. There’s even a plot (loose).

Writing group ideas and possibilities. Gatherings. A weekly hour? Prompts or not? Workshop model or freeform get together? Books not getting read: Amerikanah. Out Stealing Horses. Best of intentions to read both. Not enough time. The rejections have been incessant. Batting a .041 at the moment. Don’t see it changing. Still, must keep plugging away. Far from home, I was reminded of my mother today in some of what I read. Harper’s poem got to me. It’ a good moment when you read a poet you haven’t encountered before.

I think of books and decay and death and skulls and the dust that covers everything. Myopic. I can’t see too far ahead. That’s a blessing sometimes. The work calls. Pages and pages of short fiction await the slash of ink and the crumpled ball. Workouts are missing this week. Back on track this weekend. A few days letting the shoulder and neck muscles renew isn’t a bad idea. Back in the day I would have had plenty of people to call up and get a pint with down here. Better to get some writing done, perhaps.

Tassajaraandbackthensandiegosday’s Childe

Miles driven this week: 912

Pages edited at Tassajara: 209

Temperature high at Tassajara: 63

Fifth grade promotions attended: 1

Books read: 3

Deer seen: 1

Loads of laundry done: 4

Pages written in notebook: 18

Cane’s chicken fingers eaten: 4

Desks cleaned off: 0

Rejections received: 1

Days of bootcamp skipped: 2


13 Highlights from a Walk Around the Dublin Suburbs

  1. A Vauxhall Nova parked on Orchard Road had steamed-up windows and a ghostly handprint on the windscreen.
  2. I’d walk by James Joyce’s birthplace trying to spot his ghost.
  3. Cracked open horse chestnuts litter the ground on Winton Road.
  4. The River Poddle forks at Mount Argus where my father went to daily Mass for many years.
  5. Shannon O’Brien lived on Frankfort Avenue, and I’d use the phone box in Rathgar Village to call her sometimes so my brothers couldn’t hear my attempts at chatting her up her.
  6. I made my confession in the Church of the Three Patrons on Friday afternoons and on Friday nights sinned against the light.
  7. Love-struck cats sang their songs perched on the back wall of our house.
  8. My grandmother wandered up to the butcher’s shop on the Rathgar Road in her nightgown.
  9. The old tramline ran along the Dodder River and I’d often go bird watching along its overgrown tracks.
  10. The GemGem sold all sorts of sweets and the inside of the shop smelled like the passing away of old ladies.
  11. A candle burned in a window on Dartry Park.
  12. Some nights we walked hand-in-hand through Orwell Park in the fog.
  13. I could smell my mother’s carnations long before I made it to our front door.


Sixyearsunderthewheelsoftimesday’s Childe

Six. Since that perfect Louisiana day. Jeanne Leiby’s memory. The book on the desk, the memorial card inside. Her copy of the Artist’s Way on my desk, her contract signed back in 2000. She saw herself as a shadow artist. That resonates. Her handwriting points out how her teaching fit the role of the shadow artist. Now she is gone. Now I am teaching. shadow artist? Not sure. Working to improve my craft. Not enough time. Plenty of excuses. Novel nearing an end point. Too few stories from her pen. Days walking across to the Old President’s house on the LSU campus. Jeanne outside, puffing away on a cigarette, expounding on some idea or other. Always provoking the conversation. Living her dream, perhaps. Six. Reminded of Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

Sprinklingskiesday’s Childe

  • Days to Spring Break: 3
  • Pages written today: 0
  • Cups of coffee: 3
  • Essays commented on: 20
  • Quiz keys made: 1
  • Clean desks in office: 1 (not mine)
  • Pairs of eyeglasses on desk: 3
  • Soda bread loaves in oven: 1
  • Socks with holes in toes: 2
  • Miles to Dublin: 5179
  • Miles to Mexico City: 2018
  • Books to read on shelf: 3
  • Cash in wallet: $15

“I saw this morning, morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin…”

Early. Dawn over, the world awakens. Coming in the gate from exercise class last week, a red-tailed hawk swooped from the nearby telephone pole, its claws grasping a rodent, and scant feet over my head it made for the trees across the road. A sign. Significance. Metaphor for some unknown lesson. Pain and suffering. Father would have been one-hundred years old. Daughter asked if Grandpa Jack would have liked her. Bittersweet answer. He would have adored her. The fleet raptor with the struggling prey is me in the clutches of the universe. In a recent meeting someone said, “We teach articulation.” Giving words to the ideas and feelings and confusions of the day. I looked to the shadows of the tree line and asked “are you still there?”

Underbenbulbensheadsday’s Childe

Cups of coffee: 3

Posters of James Joyce in office: 1

Dogs walked: 1

Pages written: 3

Hours of TV watched: 0

Minutes spent Skyping Ireland: 45

Books read: 0

Books to read: 4

Clean desks: 0

Messy desks: 2

Cash in pocket: $0

Blue Pilot V5rt pens on desk: 2

Folded National Library of Ireland bags on desk: 1 

Years since Yeats’ death: 78

Times I visited his grave in Drumcliff: 6