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BY Michael

10/01 Direct Link
The unconsidered live is not worth living. Some suggest “unexamined” as the appropriate translation of Plato’s transcription of Socrates’ musing, but we are so far from the original that it makes little difference which translation you choose. But there is a problem with the examined life. As interesting as it can be, it is not the real thing. At some point you have to stop examining it and do something. You need to join in. At some point you come to the conclusion that life is a dance and if you are not dancing then it really isn’t worth living
10/02 Direct Link
I am spending the day with Zoe. I have written down a few things to do with a 4-year-old. Eisenhower was attributed with saying plans were useless, but planning was indispensable. There is some truth in this. So I plan to feed Zoe at least once. I plan to take her shopping for Jennifer’s birthday present, and to take her to the library book sale. I also plan to have her help me with my speaker project. I’m not sure how this part will go, but today’s effort is to staple cotton batting into the enclosures. She might enjoy that.
10/03 Direct Link
The mail truck rolls by and my roommate runs out to the road. She must be expecting something. In her absence, her daughter begins to have a crisis. “Mom!” “Mom!” Her cries become more frantic. I hear her feet on the stairs. The garage door slams. Finally she comes to me. She is halfway into a hooded sweatshirt and her head is stuck in the thing somehow. I look at it, but cannot figure out why. I help her take it off, straighten it out, and it pops right on. She wanders off in a zig-zag course shouting “Mom!” “Mom!”
10/04 Direct Link
It is my sister Sandy’s birthday. I haven’t been able to talk to her. It seems every time I have the opportunity, it is too late to call. I was able to send her a text message with a picture of her present, a small Hummel figurine a friend was auctioning on eBay. I thought Sandy would like it, so I slipped in the high bid. Her response to the picture was “Cute.” I then explained the actual figurine was her present. She then got excited saying it reminded her of us, that she thought we were very Hummel-like children.
10/05 Direct Link
I know I have a need for the slow healing movement that is art. No it is not work. I have had enough of that to choke any fool and it does not heal me. I have lost half my mind and I am no longer being healed. Downstairs for the first time in months, I touch the piano. I find myself improvising and it feels right and I play a piece to the end. A piece from nowhere that has a beginning and an end; one that vanishes into the woodwork of my house never to be heard again.
10/06 Direct Link
My daughters have finally had their way with me. Jennifer will be delivering Shy, a 6-year old, recently retired, working border collie to me to me tonight. This is apparently my mail-order live-in girlfriend. I have met her before. And Jennifer has sent pictures. She has one ear up and one ear down, and one blue eye. These are supposed to be endearing qualities. I think I will have to fight Zoe for her though. Zoe has been begging for a dog since they moved in. If I remember the dog right, there will be enough Shy to go around.
10/07 Direct Link
I meant to open the Sudoku page this morning, but instead I found myself in my 100 Words notes. I wonder who is driving this bus. Apparently whoever it is wants me to write this morning and not do the Sudoku puzzle. I’ve been having that nagging feeling that I’ve some unfinished writing business, although I don’t know what it is. He does. I just need to give him some time with the keyboard and leave him alone. I think it’s a him. That’s something I’ve never worried about before. I wonder. Is that something I need to worry about?
10/08 Direct Link
I have been wandering through memories again. Amanda comes to tell me the soup is ready. Her hair is wet, piled high on her head in a towel. She is on the phone to someone and her friend who spent the night last night, is downstairs on the extension talking to the friend as well. Already, I am amazed by the worship and the breath moving in and out. I am amazed by the movement of my fingers over the keyboard and by the squawk of the parrot. Wait! We had a parrot? When did we have a fucking parrot?
10/09 Direct Link
I have the crud. Perhaps I have crud light, that version of the fall season cold that is just enough to annoy you, to make you tired. Zoe has it too. I suspect I caught it from her in fact. She went on a field trip with her friend Jack’s pre-school class last week. I think this was the source of the whole thing. Call the infectious disease people and report those kids. There were things I wanted to do today, but I should stay home. I should keep Zoe home. I don’t feel like doing these things. Crud. Ugh.
10/10 Direct Link
It is a special day. It is 10/10/10. Why aren’t we writing special batches for 10/10/10? It’s 42 day! Isn’t this the day that flying saucers land at Wal-Mart and aliens pose for photos with small children? Although I feel I should point out that the number 13 is bad and 3 plus 1 is four and 3 minus 1 is two—yes, 42. Run! No doubt the aliens will view us the same way we have traditionally viewed other technologically less advanced cultures or species. They will see us as sources of slaves or food, or as dangerous infections.
10/11 Direct Link
When I got home Zoe and Lisa looked like they were just back from walking Shy. Zoe had that look on her face that 4-year-olds get when they are busting to tattle on someone. “Shy got in the Koi pond again,” Zoe said before I stepped from the car. As I stepped out, Lisa concurred. “She is in time out,” she said, pointing to the kennel.” I envisioned the little Border Collie dripping in the kennel and wonder what the dog made of the concept of “time out.” “Maybe we need to start taking her to the lake,” I suggested.
10/12 Direct Link
He calls again this morning. He wants a ride to see his probation officer today, and for drug testing, although I’m not sure I heard the last part clearly. Yesterday, he wanted to come spend the weekend, four days actually. I agree or what is happening. It is not useful to judge. Sometimes I explain: It would be helpful if you did not use this door because it needs repaired. You may see me use this door. It doesn’t mean I am lying. It means I need to move something from the room that won’t fit through the other door.
10/13 Direct Link
She was in the back seat before I saw her coming. I switched off the book I was listening to and glanced at her in the rear-view mirror. She had lost weight. “I just saw him go across. He must still have testing,” she said. They lived under different sets of rules and conditions than I did, different flags and different warnings of foul and fair weather. “He won’t be long then,” I said. It doesn’t take long to test. But I wasn’t telling her anything she didn’t know. I wondered if I were giving her a ride home too.
10/14 Direct Link
Junior is spending the weekend with me. He was worried about being bored and asked for some jobs to do. I had him fix the basement walkout door. The track wheels needed cleaned and lubed. Then we tackled the calking between the siding and the chimneys. I knew it needed done before winter. We cleaned up one chimney without any trouble, but when we got to the second chimney it became obvious we were going to require something bigger than my 16-foot extension ladder. I knew I had to buy calk anyway; I just wasn’t planning on a $200 ladder.
10/15 Direct Link
Although its appearance may unsettle you at first, the motie is actually quite gentle, and when properly domesticated can make a useful house pet. The motie is a strange and fierce looking creature with ragged wiry red hair and long uneven sharp teeth. It’s training, while straightforward, is rigorous and required. It is best done under the supervision of a professional. Once properly trained, the motie can do not only the simple chores of a smart dog, but they can also do more complicated things such as fix breakfast, fold laundry, mow the lawn, and safely care for young children.
10/16 Direct Link
I got a text message this morning from Redbox. I had been given a free movie. All over town people were getting the same message. What would be left by the time I got there to pick up my movie? I had an advantage in not having to work today. I could pick out my movie before the Redboxes were emptied of all the good picks. But first I had other things to do. I had 100 words to write, errands to run, a dog to walk. I think it was 9 p.m. when I finally remembered my free movie.
10/17 Direct Link
I am conscious of breathing. They say the breath is important. The breath is the meter that determines all else. I have learned to breathe many times over my life. It seems that much of my life has been a process of forgetting how to breathe and then being reminded to breathe and learning it all over again. Each time, I learn it a little bit differently, perhaps each time to a different purpose time. Sometimes the lessons have been formal and rigorous. It seems odd that something so natural and necessary would be so easy for us to forget.
10/18 Direct Link
My dog is a rescue dog. She has a bad story to tell about a bad man. This is typical of rescue dogs. My dog is afraid of men. If I stand up too quickly, or make a sudden movement, she ducks. She makes me feel bad about myself. I should ask my daughter, who got her for me why I would want a dog that makes me feel badly about myself. I have enough to feel bad about without taking on the sins of an anonymous dog beater. Still, she is getting better. Maybe we can work things out.
10/19 Direct Link
Ten things I can use a kettle for? Did I hear you right? Did you say kettle, as in popcorn, or nettle as in stinging or singing as in my roommate in the shower? Kettle? Is it an iron kettle? Or is it aluminum or some other strange conglomeration of metals with a slippery coating? I’m thinking iron, with a lid, a black cast iron kettle. They also come in dark gray, their natural color. Did I ever tell you I used to make cast iron kettles and skillets? I was a sand molder at the Wagner factory in Ohio…
10/20 Direct Link
Yes, I do read your entries. I read the advents mostly, the crowd that is close current. Sometimes I steal someone else’s topic sentence and write my own 100 words on it for a lark. Sometimes I will write a response or rebuttal to someone else. Most of the time, however I am wallowing in my own world. There is a lot going on here, and I don’t have much trouble finding things to write about. For example, I decided to update my GPS this morning, and it turned in to quite an adventure that is still ongoing. Perhaps tomorrow…
10/21 Direct Link
My son calls, the one who just bought the fancy car. The fancy car has multiple serious mechanical problems and the dealer will not interested fix them. This son did not inherit the lucky gene from me. I couldn’t buy a lemon if I tried. Not true, if I think about it. I did buy a lemon once. It was a Toyota Camry, of all things. After that I swore that if I was going to drive a lemon, then by God, I was going to drive American lemons. I went out and bought my first Oldsmobile—my second lemon.
10/22 Direct Link
Creation Myth, Part I

Three men
are gathered about a table
in a sub-street apartment in East Ann Arbor,
under dim light,
over a rusted chrome-and-Formica table
clotted with dried and colorful pieces of food.

Three small men
engaged in dark ceremonies
of wire, black tape, and bits of electronic circuitry. One of them is paying close attention to the work.
Outside, fog of the morning rolls in
still wearing last night's spongy dress.
Steering her drunken Robo-Zamboni,
she bears down cloudy
over the hood of a green Chevrolet Vega,
flooding, stretching, embracing,
pounding the tin gracefully into the concrete.
10/23 Direct Link
Creation Myth – Part II

Inside, sheltered from the mist,
three men are gathered around a table.
One of them is thin, with a Van Dyke, and he is smoking.
His long hair is in a worn pony tail,
and he squints one eye against the smoke
as he takes something apart with his fingers.

He is tucked into a dark corner
almost behind a battered wife of a refrigerator.
A dim lamp covers the table and its center piece:
A copper cylinder six centimeters in diameter.
It has knurled caps a half inch thick.
The device is eight inches long.
10/24 Direct Link
Creation Myth – Part III

Once a cartridge fuse in an Ohio foundry,
it guided steel-melting, arm-breaking gouts of electrical current
The foundry has since passed on to silence,
And on to rubble.

From this crucible of honest power
a genesis has stepped down to re-define its function.

Three men are gathered here
to ponder this mandella.
Six arms laid across the table,
three parallel pair,
three radial points.

One of them is thinking about his wife.
He is muscular,
shirt sleeves rolled up to just below his elbows.
He wears a plain gold band and a white metal Timex Watch.
10/25 Direct Link
Creation Myth – Part IV

Picking up the device,
he rubs his thumb over it.
He is wondering what he is doing here.

The man with the cigarette laughs,
the smoke cutting up into his eyes.

Three small men,
and one of them has arms of stainless steel
from the elbows down,
curled into gentle forceps
that he drums on the edge of the table,
engaged in his own brittle incantations.

The device has been placed back on the table.
The end caps have been lined with something translucent,
pale,
cloudy.
What kind of flower will drive through this green fuse?
10/26 Direct Link
Creation Myth – Part V

Outside,
the sun is breaking down the street,
running so fast she can hardly stay on top her legs.
Slowing at a stop sign,
she is down now on all fours,
paws soft against the morning-damp asphalt,
reaching, staging, rhythmic and alive.

Smelling the Huron,
she smiles,
lowers her head,
and springs forward.

Sleek, small skull of gold and black,
ageless in scent and memory,
she moves,
already feeling the deep grass along the river bank,
already dodging the trees.

Somewhere else,
three small men are gathered over a table.
One of them is nearly finished.
10/27 Direct Link
Numb


And They say God
will not give you anything too weird
without making you numb

And yes
It covers me
like a steel jacket
chrome collar
split at the throat

Locked inside
this full-metal experience,
tasting bitter alloy

quarter-plate gleaming
in flawless anesthesia
and creamy seams of weld

We fall together
two bright cylinders of very heavy
numb love

I know if i can just breathe
I can tear the terrible texture
and burst muscular through this wall

I flex arms of flesh
against steel of cold
against primer against plate.

and some say God
will not give you
anything
10/28 Direct Link

Lake Bluff Motel

Part I

 

 

 

Half the guests are gone

Before I roll out of bed

to peer out at the sun-starched morning. 

Some of the lounge chairs

are already claimed by old men

who sit there through the day,

watching out over the lake. 

 

The pool is littered

with children who have no fear

of water, diving boards, or sunburn. 

 

The old men will stare

into the distance,

as if the tension in their gaze

held the children up in the water

held the sun up in the sky

 

On the broken walks

the maids are cataloging

soaps and towels,

taking their coffee communion.

 

10/29 Direct Link

Lake Bluff Motel

Part II

 

I hear the ring of their keys

as they purify each room,

the drone of their voices

like old priests,

working with casual routine.

 

In the tiny rooms,

they gather in dark groups.

The living are gone.

Theirs is what has been left behind:

 

The covers dashed in the bed

hair in the sink

tissue in the trash.

 

Inhaling the odor of our spirits passing

harvesting pieces of time

molding mental figures

from the rustle we've left in the drapes.

the angle of the TV

the towel in the tub

the print in the pillow

All pressed into their minds.

 

 

10/30 Direct Link

Lake Bluff Motel

Part III

 

They prepare the ritual stones,

tear away shrouds,

leaving altars raw and cold

 

The bedmaking begins with

a wave while the white billows. 

Buzzing on the wind, the chant rises

while all the living

begins to dim.

 

Fainter now, the noise of the TV's

and the guests in the halls

Fainter the sounds from the pool.

All yielding to the resonance

rising and falling with the sheets over the beds.

 

Resting their eyes

The old men nod backward and asleep

their mouths open and snoring into the wail.

What was held by their vision

now rises on the new dream.

 

 

10/31 Direct Link

Lake Bluff Motel

Part IV

 

I begin to remember

the clamor of the party last night.

 

I hear my son moaning in his sleep

but he is already gone

to the pool

with the other children

fading into the thin air

out over Lake Michigan

 

while the maids call to lives before,

pulling dim forgotten,

figures from below,

raising the dead,

these mistresses of discarded nights.

 

As the old men shrivel

As ghosts rise howling from their throats;

as the sun stops frozen in the sky;

as even I become what I was

and rise up from the sheets

face to face

eye to eye.