Eugene Gloria: “My Bad Uncle” (From HOODLUM BIRDS)

Eugene Gloria’s poems are surprisingly long. Self doesn’t usually read such long poems — they can go on, the dense text, for three or four pages (For the same reason, she doesn’t enjoy reading long stories — A short story should be able to do its work in 20 pages or less, if possible. Just her two cents). But what the heck, she brought this book with her to Southern California, and she’s in Venice Beach, which is all sun and bikers and surfers and funky eateries.

Here’s part of a poem she really likes (because after reading it she thought: “I know this person. Or plenty like him.”).

It’s from Gloria’s collection Hoodlum Birds (Penguin Books, 2006). Self bought her copy from City Lights after a reading in November 2006.:

“My Bad Uncle”

I saw him that night, his hands braceleted
behind his back — our neighborhood lit
like a bad uncle on a pint of scotch.

We all knew his sunnier days,
the perennial garden of his heart,
the shiny coins he doled out on his visits –

How he’d sacrifice himself to woman whims:
his mother’s, sisters’, wife’s, and lovers’. His gold Ford
Falcon that shuttled us back and forth to airports,

he was always available whenever we’d call.
He was a prince of the two-dollar cigarette variety,
a happy man in love.

But goodness is mostly work and hardly pays a thing
to the soul when it has to eat alone.
His own goodness would tell him to drive

all day to his fake errands, or circle round
and around in the El with a hideaway bag.
taking swigs between stops.

So one day when we weren’t thinking,
or were thinking only of ourselves,
he parked outside a Denny’s with his pistol

stuffed in his fanny pack. It was just a last-minute thing,
a quick bite then back to our house to sleep.
Takes very little to rouse the animal crouched in the garden:

The smirk of the local girl at the menu stand,
or the two boys spilling their Cokes on his new adidas.
A loud metal voice he seldom hears wells up

Venice Beach Boardwalk, 17 September 2014

Venice Beach Boardwalk, 17 September 2014

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Humanity: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s Photo Challenge from the WordPress Daily Post is HUMANITY:  “Although people are different, we are very much the same.”

So, self started looking through her files at old photos, looking for PEOPLE. When she felt a twinge of satisfaction, she’d load the photograph, even though, as in the one below, it’s framed differently:

Skyline College, 2012: Spoke to a class. After, this student stayed to chat, and self just loved her get-up and asked if she could take a picture.

Skyline College, 2012: Spoke to a class. After, this student stayed to chat, and self just loved her get-up and asked if she could take a picture.

Philippine Dance Troupe posing for pictures in Yerba Buena Park, San Francisco, sometime 2012

Philippine Dance Troupe posing for pictures in Yerba Buena Park, San Francisco, sometime 2012

Secretary, GV & Sons, Daku Balay, Bacolod City: This woman has been working for the family for over 30 years, and self still doesn't know her name.

Secretary, GV & Sons, Daku Balay, Bacolod City: This woman has been working for the family for over 30 years, and self can’t remember her name.

Today, in the Huntington Library

The moment you step into the Huntington Gardens, you are surrounded by the heady scent of roses. The path from the parking lot to the visitors entrance is lined with rose bushes.

Here is a list of things self saw in The Huntington Library (San Marino, CA) today:

  • The Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, opened to the monk’s tale, with eight red wax seals lining the bottom of the page
  • An early edition of one of Shakespeare’s Folios.  On the wall, directly above it, a quote which ended with “Doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love.”
  • A copy of Missions in the New World by Francesco Severio Clavigero, published in Venice, 1789
  • the “elephant edition” of John James Audubon’s Birds of America (This book was almost as tall as herself; she’s not kidding)
  • Henry David Thoreau’s journal, which became the basis for Walden. The quote above it:  “I wished to live deliberately.”
  • Jack London’s manuscript for White Fang, 1905. The quote above it:  “He was a silent fury.”

Can self tell you how moved she was to see handwritten letters by Charles Dickens, displayed in the same room as Thoreau’s journal and Jack London’s handwritten manuscripts? She imagines the writers’ hands moving across the paper in methodical fashion.  Knowing that these keepsakes survived makes her feel very worship-ful. Also, the fact that she’s seeing them on 9/11, and most of the paper that got blown about that day (retrieved from as far away as Long Island — how they made it across the water is a mystery) were office memos, scrawled-over office calendars, graphs, worksheets — ordinary, human things.

Paper is fragile; thoughts aren’t.

Where is she going with this?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Self’s Belated Discovery of Alan Furst

She hasn’t even finished reading Dark Star, but oh it is so delicious, to lose oneself in that carefully constructed world.

So here she goes, trolling the net for articles and interviews.

This article in New York Magazine mentions: Dark Star, The World at Night and The Polish Officer.

She doesn’t think she’s been this gaga over an American writer since —  Martin Cruz Smith? When she read Gorky Park.

Here’s an interview with Furst in a site called Crime Time.

And now, self must continue reading.

Stay tuned.

Adventure: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The WordPress Photo Challenge for the week would seem rather self-explanatory:

ADVENTURE

Last year, self decided to accept Margarita Donnelly’s invitation to share an apartment in Venice. She stayed almost three weeks. That trip certainly qualifies in her book as an adventure.

The apartment was in Ca’ San Toma. Only a 5-minute walk to the Frari church.

She had seen Venice when she was 11. Of course, it had changed. For one thing, everyone on the vaporetto kept vacating their seats and indicating that self should sit. In the spot marked for “Senior Citizens.” (Self, when will you ever learn to stop looking a gift horse in the mouth?) Although self is not quite a senior citizen, and it stung her pride mightily, she never refused a seat.

On the Vaporetto to Murano, April 2013

On the Vaporetto to Murano, April 2013

Just in front of the Naval History Museum, Venice

Just in front of the Naval History Museum, Venice, April 2013

Also last year, self visited, for the first time, the town of Magalang in Pampanga (Philippines). She visited at the invitation of Alawi Canlas, an English professor at Pampanga Agricultural College.  Self really enjoyed meeting all the students, and discussing her work with them. That trip, too, was an adventure.

Magalang Public Market:  It's huge.

Magalang Public Market in the Philippines, province of Pampanga: It’s huge.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Discoveries, First Saturday of September (2014)

Yesterday, while standing at the check-out line in Whole Foods on Jefferson, self saw a CD by Ed Sheeran. She was curious, as apparently he is a great favorite of the writers on fanfiction.net  So she bought his CD and listened to it at home and, you know, it reminds her of old rock. But it’s pleasant. Something new to listen to while driving!

Today was peaceful. She mostly watered.

She’s very much enjoying Dark Star, by Alan Furst. He writes ridiculously well, for someone who writes spy thrillers.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

On p. 52, the hero of the story, Szara, lands in Berlin (after a particularly nasty encounter with some hired assassins — he escapes by the skin of hist teeth). This is what he sees of the city from his hotel room:

Szara stared out a high window, watching umbrellas moving down the street like phantoms. It seemed to him the city’s very own, private weather, for Berliners lived deep inside themselves — it could be felt — where they nourished old insults and humiliated ambitions of every sort, all of it locked up within a courtesy like forged metal and an acid wit that never seemed meant to hurt — it just, apparently by accident, left a little bruise.

Lovely writing, isn’t it?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia: “The Heart of the World”

The cover of Colin Poole's TONLE SAP, The Heart of Cambodia's Natural Heritage (Thailand:  River Books, 2005)

The cover of Colin Poole’s TONLE SAP, The Heart of Cambodia’s Natural Heritage (Thailand: River Books, 2005)

In 2004, self and her sister-in-law, Ying, took a trip to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. We stayed in a house ($10/day for a room, including meals) and hired a driver.

The monument was crawling with tourists. One morning, desperate, self and Ying awoke at 4 a.m. and had the driver bring us to the temples. Across the giant causeway, which was barely light, we saw at least a hundred photographers, cameras pointed at the horizon, waiting for the first rays of the sun to appear. It was very dispiriting.

The thing self remembers most from the trip is not the temples. It was Tonle Sap Lake. Self and Ying hired a boat and threaded our way through the floating villages.

In 2008, Ying passed away in Tel Aviv. Self saw her for the last time a couple of months before. Her eyes were so sad.

Self’s story, “The Peacock,” is about that trip to Cambodia. She’s never been able to get it published, but she keeps trying.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Dialogue 4: Stairs

The WordPress Photo Challenge this week is DIALOGUE: We’re to consider our photos’ subject matter and graphic attributes and choose those that resonate with each other.

Today’s dialogue will be with stairs (But then, that makes “dialogue” just seem like a fancy way to say “theme.” Oh well)

Cottage # 4, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, County Monaghan, Ireland:  May 2014

One month in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, County Monaghan, Ireland:  May 2014. Self wrote an amazing amount.

Montmartre, July 2014: Steps to Sacre Couer

One week in Paris, staying at a friend’s place in Montmartre, July 2012:  It was self’s first time in Paris. She’d wanted to go for so many years.

Bella goes slowly, painfully up the steps to the kitchen.  The blur in the photograph is her.

Bella goes slowly, painfully up the steps to the kitchen. The blur in the photograph is her. She passed away October 13, 2013. She was 17 years old.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Available Now: Your Impossible Voice, Issue 5

Today self heard from the editors of Your Impossible Voice that Issue No. 5 is out!

YAY!

The story they took is “The Elephant.” Self actually sent if from Cork, Ireland. It was the morning she was transferring from Ballyvolane House to Café Paradiso. You know, self just fell in love with Cork and wishes she had stayed there an extra week.

But, back to Your Impossible Voice and “The Elephant.” It is actually quite a disturbing story, but it is what it is. Here’s an excerpt:

For over a week, the elephant’s wild thrashings sent reverberations throughout the ship. It threw itself against the walls of its container, again and again. Sea monsters, the crew awoke thinking. We’re all going to die!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Memories of Trees” : Live Now on PITHEAD CHAPEL, Vol. 3, Issue 9

I’m one of three people still living who can tell what a mango tree looks like.  I’m important because they think they can learn how to make more.

– “Memories of Trees,” Pithead Chapel, Vol. 3, Issue 9 (September 2014)

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