Emblems of a Sacred Bird

Guillermo  Aldana E. photograph in National Geographic, altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

Guillermo Aldana E. photographer, National Geographic, altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

This is one of my favorite Nat’l Geo paintings so far. Water, Citrsolv, grapeseed oil, Lysol spray, painting, swishing, waiting, reinventing. This end result feels magical to me.

“A painted prayer blooms on the cheeks of a Huichol woman who uses lipstick to form a background for flower petals, symbols of fertility. Emblems of a sacred bird march across her headdress.”

How About the Scamp?

HP Slide 01

You can buy USED Scamps, sooooo much cheaper than the Ponderosa Little Joe. So I probably should go with a Scamp, which is cute and just as good.

I’m in a snit about the whole thing, though. Which voice do I believe?
“Do this and you will have a blast!”
“You can only do this is you will create brilliant art and poetry and sketches and songs”

To Bring String and Sing

Two Birds, 1960 National Geographic photograph altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

A Warm Nest For Lovers, 1960 National Geographic photograph altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

I’m a sky blue sweater, damp, laid out flat on a wooden table. My arms stretch open to rest on chairs, air-drying, curling up at the wrist. Tomorrow I will wear myself, hands cupped: a warm nest for lovers and sparrows to bring string and sing.

Running the Wing

Woman Running With Plane, National Geographic photo altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

Running the Wing, National Geographic photo altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

“Running the wing,” Marina Beebe steadies the sailplane of her husband Bruce as he is towed aloft. She then chased him with a car and retrieving trailer 400 miles from Reno across the Nevada desert and into Idaho.

You Are Always Awake Even If You Don’t Know It

jessica's son

A brilliant great-nephew’s recent homework: “You are always awake even if you don’t know it. I felt a lot in 60 seconds. I felt tingling like nerves bumping me. I saw stars. Light was still in, which caused shapes. My stomach tightened, because the diaphram moved down. I also felt my blood rushing.”

Metta in A Minor

Sacred shrine by Leslie
metta in a minor

Click on “metta in a minor”
A lovingkindness meditation in A Minor. Different. Pretty. Soothing.
The usual “script:” May I be safe, May I have happiness, May I have healing, May I have ease and grace.

Humbly yours, Mary

yes, music by me

i took the photo of my beautiful new altar created by: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SacredArtsbyLeslie

My Take On Christmas, 2012

As many of you know, I recently became a grandma…

In my 58 years, I’ve been Presbyterian, Unitarian, Methodist, Reconstructionist Judaism, Reform Judaism. And here’s what I’m thinking tonight, Christmas Eve:


This grandma LOVES it that Christmas reminds us to cherish an infant…

Happy sigh…

3 Days Called Days of Grace

pretty, pink and spindly

A, B and C Rent a Pasture Together (a found poem from Hagar’s Common School Arithmetic)

Two boys were employed
to measure the length of a ditch.
An officer is in pursuit of a thief
who has some miles the start.
If you should leave home
and travel ’til your watch
is 35 minutes fast . . .
Rules for estimating hay,
in mows, well-settled,
divide by 550 for clover,
or by 450 for meadow hay.
Three days
called Days of grace
are usually allowed.

watercolor painting and poem by mary macgowan

Lucy Finds Her Thumb and 10,000 Joys

Lucy finds her thumb

Hey, Lucy, what’s that on your toe? — My 3-month-old granddaughter, Lucy, sometimes accidentally pulls out her pacifier and then manages to find her thumb to suck. It goes like this – She starts to fuss, pulls out the pacifier, finds the thumb, loses the thumb, cries, I give her a pacifier, and so on… Sometimes I show her: Here! Here is your thumb! And thus, within the microcosm of one baby, we find the macrocosm of joy united with suffering. Little girl, I give to you: 10,000 joys, 10,000 sorrows.

Illustration by Mary MacGowan, pen and watercolor pencil and a collaged butterfly
10,000 Joys, 10,000 Sorrows is an old Buddhist saying

4 Spider Lakes

Just arrived, fresh from Whitewash & Co . . . 4 sets of letters (spelling Spider Lake) creatively collaged, using my photos, poems and O’Keefe’s decorative papers & maps & whatnot. To be given as gifts. Can’t begin to describe my pleasure with this bunch of beauty! Every time I look at them I see something new – so, so lovely! You can find them at http://www.facebook.com/WhitewashAndCo?fref=ts

Lurching About

Yesterday I lurched about, creatively.  My “creativity slave driver” buzzed around me all day…

First thing in the morning, went next door to my dear friend’s house to have tea, both of us still in jammies. It was delightful!  Creativity slave driver: Tsk tsk you didn’t write in your journal.

Went home to clean the house just a bit.  Creativity slave driver: Hurry! You need to start typing up those poems!

Made soap.  This has been an ongoing project. It turns out that to make soap you have to melt soap! This made me laugh!   In my case the creative part is this: I had muddled mint (with a mortar and pestle) from my property and slow-cooked it in oil to create a kind of “essence of mint.”  So I yesterday I put it all together and made mint soap.  I’m making the soap to give as gifts at Christmas/Hanukah. Creativity slave driver: You are spending too much energy and time doing a tame task, not creative enough!

One of my dear daughters called. She was baby sitting a 4-year-old.  She had been telling this young girl about her mom (me!) who used to sing and perform children’s music.  She asked me to sing to the 4-year-old!  I loved it!  Creativity slave driver: Go back to children’s music! You could make a lot of money! You are so good at it!

Saw a client. I’m an art therapist and I see a few clients each week.  “Creativity slave driver” was okay with that, no scolding.  I like being thoroughly present during sessions; being as attentive as I can be.

A hurried dinner and then I went to my jazz vocal ensemble rehearsal.  Creativity slave driver: You should sing just jazz! Practice jazz theory more! Put together an act and perform, become a jazz singer! 

Visited a wonderful friend after rehearsal. We talked about how we lurch about creatively! He has the same “Do this! Do that!” voice in his head!

Went back next door in my jammies for a late night cup of tea. Delightful! Creativity slave driver: You promised to start typing up those poems. Are you going to start tonight?

Got home a little before midnight. Got an email with a song attached that I might like to sing.  It’s a great song about  Spider Lake and Traverse City!  It got me happily excited, and then my creativity slave driver:  Do it! Put your local songs together, package them up and sell them next summer! You could make a fortune selling songs about Traverse City to Traverse City vacationers!

Got ready for bed, etc.  That dang creativity slave driver was still trying to get me to type out at least one poem!

I over ruled.


The Best Most Wonderful Story Ever!

How to make a personal book for your much-loved newborn granddaughter…THIS POST WAS JUST TOO LONG, SO I DITCHED A LOT OF THE PHOTOS…

Items to gather or buy:

A board book to completely cover each page and make it your own
Strong-quality wrapping paper in decorative colors and designs that match your passion for the subject of your book
several greetings cards to cut up into decorative pieces
personal photos printed out on plain paper (glues better than photo paper)
a simple story line, told like a fairy tale

Tips: Allow yourself to be messy, let each page be slightly flawed, just have fun and be filled with love!


Include several pages of photos of loved ones…..and then on the back, paste on a “made by…”

And, this is very important: Don’t be afraid to make a mess…

The End!

Passion, p.10

This is a continuing series from my new workbook . . . If you contact me, I will send you a pdf file of the whole thingajig!  As an Art Therapist, I see so many clients searching for meaning in their lives.  My hope is that this workbook will help others in that search.

You Can Find Your Passion p9


MYOM #9: Kisses

This cartoon was posted many months ago, but I’m reblogging it because it fits
in well with My Year of Mindfulness.

Bailey licking humans’ faces (or any body part) is a subject frequently discussed earnestly.
Most human dislike it. Bailey has learned the term “NO LICK!” which she hears often.
I’d estimate that she successfully restrains from licking about 75% of the time.
No, make that 50% of the time. Maybe even less. Some say a dog’s desire to lick
stems from the behavior within a dog pack. The submissive dogs supposedly
lick the ears of the alpha.

For me to be fully in the moment with Bailey, I occasionally let her lick my
face as long and as thoroughly as she chooses. It makes her happy.
Which makes me happy. But now I’m discussing my cartoon which really says it all.

– cartoon illustration by mary macgowan

Even Umbrellas Can Get Political

Wake Me When It’s Over – a political poem from the last election

Things bump along fine
without me. Early presidential
candidates mocked, Colbert
shows I can’t watch because
I don’t know truth from comedy
that’s how far from the hula hoop
I’ve wriggled. Volcanoes, draughts,
firestorms, the miseries of war.
A hurricane promoted to excite
the masses, gas prices, negotiations.
Photos of a female candidate
filters through on FB. The
tip of a long corn dog in her mouth.
We can’t be nice to those we love
so don’t bother watching wars.
The world sucks its own dick.

– poem and pastel painting by mary macgowan

Hello Plucky Umbrella

Hello Plucky Umbrella Blog, I’ve missed you.  I’ve been busy doing other things lately.  I’m sorry.  I’ll be back soon.  To amuse you while I’m gone, here is a clown guy my daughter Rachel made in art class many, many years ago.  Clown guy hangs on my living room wall and sees all.

The hole in his head. Well. What can I say except that I love him even more because of it?  Rachel’s art teacher insisted upon the hole. The hole was meant for hanging, and his pants were meant for holding keys. Then I went and framed him.  Ruined the whole concept.  [Couldn’t help myself.  He’s too sweet to hang there all by himself, unprotected.]  [See framed fellow below.]

Bye for now Plucky Umbrella. I won’t be gone much longer.
Love, Mary

Wild Colors Housing

Such a beautiful photo. Could it have been photoshopped? Does this neighborhood really go wild with color like this? Do they have meetings about the colors?  A color president?

Would it be a delight or a chaotic nightmare to live amongst such bursts color?!

– photographer unknown, grabbed this photo from FB

I want to paint my house like this!

Hidden In the Poem

  Hidden inside an Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem is the loveliest few lines:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware…

These few lines have oft been quoted.  The entire poem, Aurora Leigh, fills a large  book.  Seems to me she was an early Whitman – if you keep reading Aurora Leigh it winds around and around and glorifies herself and God and all the richness of humanity.

I’m wondering about today’s poets. We all strive to be so compact, concise. Brevity is usually our goal. Getting to the point and to the negative space within in the shortest way possible. An editor nowadays would select those 5 lines and advise Browning to leave it at that.


TRUTH, so far, in my book;—the truth which draws
Through all things upwards,—that a twofold world
Must go to a perfect cosmos. Natural things
And spiritual,—who separates those two
In art, in morals, or the social drift
Tears up the bond of nature and brings death,
Paints futile pictures, writes unreal verse,
Leads vulgar days, deals ignorantly with men,
Is wrong, in short, at all points. We divide
This apple of life, and cut it through the pips,—
The perfect round which fitted Venus’ hand
Has perished as utterly as if we ate
Both halves. Without the spiritual, observe,
The natural’s impossible,—no form,
No motion: without sensuous, spiritual
Is inappreciable,—no beauty or power:
And in this twofold sphere the twofold man
(For still the artist is intensely a man)
Holds firmly by the natural, to reach
The spiritual beyond it,—fixes still
The type with mortal vision, to pierce through,
With eyes immortal, to the antetype
Some call the ideal,—better call the real,
And certain to be called so presently
When things shall have their names. Look long enough
On any peasant’s face here, coarse and lined,
You’ll catch Antinous somewhere in that clay,
As perfect featured as he yearns at Rome
From marble pale with beauty; then persist,
And, if your apprehension’s competent,
You’ll find some fairer angel at his back,
As much exceeding him as he the boor,
And pushing him with empyreal disdain
For ever out of sight. Aye, Carrington
Is glad of such a creed: an artist must,
Who paints a tree, a leaf, a common stone
With just his hand, and finds it suddenly
A-piece with and conterminous to his soul.
Why else do these things move him, leaf, or stone?
The bird’s not moved, that pecks at a spring-shoot;
Nor yet the horse, before a quarry, a-graze:
But man, the twofold creature, apprehends
The twofold manner, in and outwardly,
And nothing in the world comes single to him,
A mere itself,—cup, column, or candlestick,
All patterns of what shall be in the Mount;
The whole temporal show related royally,
And built up to eterne significance
Through the open arms of God. ‘There’s nothing great
Nor small’, has said a poet of our day,
Whose voice will ring beyond the curfew of eve
And not be thrown out by the matin’s bell:
And truly, I reiterate, nothing’s small!
No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim;
And (glancing on my own thin, veinèd wrist),
In such a little tremor of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct. Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more from the first similitude.

– watercolor painting by mary macgowan

The Bravery Test

More drownings. . .

The Bravery Test

Having just died — car crash —
I climbed, dead, back into bed.
Tried not to jiggle the mattress
but you woke up and asked
Are you okay? which made me cry.

Down I went, drowned this time.
It wasn’t so bad.
Here’s what I heard
as I sunk to the bottom:
You now that artist guy on TV?
Says the Bravery Test
is when you add a central object
to a painting when it’s almost done.
Like a sailboat on a perfectly
nice lake.

Plane crash, beheaded.
You said, Oh, you’ve lost your
You leaned over

and carried my head to a pillow
and rocked it with a lullaby
while waiting for the rest of me.
When I was stitched back together
you wrapped me in your mainsail
and kissed me goodnight.

Hard work, staying dead.

– poem and collage by mary macgowan

Lepomis Megalotis

We called them sunnies and bluegills. Small fish that crisped up nice in the frying pan. This one’s a Longear Sunfish.

One summer day, fishing with my dad in Celery Bay, we caught so many of these lake fish that they filled our pail. Casted out, landed them. Casted out, landed them. Dad finally said, “We’d better fill the bottom of this boat with water and keep ’em that way.”

He poured the pail full of fish into the boat and they flopped about while dad, fast! fast! bailed backwards & water poured into the boat until there was enough to keep the fish alive, but not so much that we’d sink. Slippery fish skimmed past my ankles. An occasional gill prickled. We kept casting out and landing them until they stopped biting.

We rowed home laughing and yelling for our friends and family to see our empty pail and our rowboat a quarter full of water and 44 Lepomis Megalotis. And they did. And they laughed and yelled too.

We bear witness for each other – that’s what makes it true.

I was 9.  It’s a perfect memory.

– watercolor painting (and life story!) by Mary MacGowan

Michael’s Angel, Oh

Michael’s Angel, Oh

I’m lying in bed
levitating instead of sleeping
which is how my body refuses
to sink into these soft wisps
and cotton clouds

and I’m thinking about Jackson
& Cooper, cat & cockatiel, and how Jackson
lies on top of Cooper’s cage
and the normally chatty
and chirpy Cooper gets very quiet

and I see
water, how it’s perfectly
obedient to gravity, the way it seeks
the lowest place and goes there
always, until there’s no room for itself
so many ways to fall
without question or answer

and how yesterday
with quiet compliance
a woman bent over my feet,
buffed my nails, painted a mini
sunny-sky landscape on my toes

and how maybe,
maybe I can inhale my own perfume
in the middle of the night
and I’m Jackson&Cooper&Water

& I’m Michelangelo’s babydoll
with shiny toenails painted all wrong
but exactly right: sun below, flower on top
and a river in the sky

but I can’t stay in here much longer
listening to him chip away
at my marble sky knowing that at any moment
it could all shatter.

– poem and pastel painting by mary macgowan

Devils Elbow: Map & Aerial View

Were the mapmakers drunk & laughing as they named it?
Lots of us live in it & don’t know it.
“Devil’s Elbow? Never heard of it!”

I live approx. here-ish. We have tall red pines
growing under the devil’s arm. Do they tickle?
Not even a sign on the road. No P.O.
No stores. On a map it’s a town. Elbow.

Is it just a deviled egg made sweet with mayonnaise?
The yolk and the white? We compost the shell,
burial, rebirth, Love?

Mr. Elbow Macaroni, I laugh at you
if you try to enter this house.
Pooh on you, silly fellow!
Only angels allowed!

According to Mapquest, they make no guarantee
of the accuracy of the content, road conditions
or route usability. We assume all risk of use.
Get the FREE MapQuest Toolbar. GO.

White-Eating Husband

White-Eating Husband

I eat only white, so what.
Mashed potatoes, glasses of milk,
vanilla ice cream. It’s good.

She tries not to look
as I pick my way through dinner
greens and yellows pushed to the side.

She says she’s leaving – my tight
roses flutter, an alarming dove slaps
and flaps in my ribcage.

A good trick, roses to doves.
Reckless applause rises
as I eat some red, its burst of sweet.

A white ambulance arrives
and a white-shirted
EMT rushes to my side.

poem and handmade paper by mary macgowan, a previous version of this poem was published in Licking River Review, Vol.30, 1998-99

The Buried Seeds

All the buried seeds
crack open in the dark
the instant they surrender
to a process they can’t see.

This innate surrender
allows everything edible
and fragrant
to break ground
into a life of light
that we call Spring.

As a seed buried in the earth cannot imagine itself as an orchid or hyacinth,

neither can a heart packed with hurt imagine itself loved or at peace.

The courage of the seed is that once cracking, it cracks all the way.
– Mark Nepo

disaster and bars

disaster bars 2
(must click twice to hear song)

(and my apologies – first post the song attachment didn’t work)

water drips down on graffiti walls
brick and mortar and painted plaster
and walking overhead on your bridge of stars
you hear voices drunk on disaster//on disaster and bars

sizzling in the river // you hear the moon whisper
and still up there on your bridge of stars
voices laugh and drink faster // you hear disaster and bars
you make a bed with your Goodwill coats -so what? who cares?
nobody takin your biography notes

sure, there’s someone out there
and maybe you could ask her, you could ask her
but all those people up there on your bridge of stars
walking home plastered//all you hear is disaster and bars

up there on your bridge of stars
under your sizzling moon
your time will come soon
under your own bridge of stars
it’s all disaster and bars
all disaster and bars

Oil painting and song by Mary MacGowan

Metta Sutta (middle section of)

Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born —
May all beings be at ease.

Oil painting by Mary MacGowan

First Corny Tangerine Sunbeams

For You, Honey

The others in this house
sleep while the night
is erased. Give a name
to everything, even
this moment.
For what I hold in my hand
call it Coffee & Solemn.

My World’s Best Mom mug
warms my 5 a.m. face.
A dreamcatcher’s
wrapped in black and white yarn,
lopsided clay candlesticks and a bottle
of streaked sand art.
For families
sleeping everywhere
call this an A+ Diorama.

Parents lift washed-thin blankets
allowing warm baby skin
to feel a new day’s air.
For their lustful cries
eager to be born again
each morning, for the slight
imprint of size
their bodies leave behind
on smooth sheets
christen it Cry & Caress.

I wrap it around me
this last covered
moment of the skies.
My afghan hides me as I lean back
sleepyhead. For all the sizes
we’ve tried on, washed
bleached tumbled dried
for all clothing fallen gracefully
to the floor, call this fabric
Cotton & Wool.

Such willing surrender
of what covers us.
For the shorn of sheep falling
bare skin baptized into dry air
for our own sloughing off
of dead cells, a multitude
of microscopic stars
trailing behind us as we move
through space, reveal it
as Ashes and Dust.

Here now – the sun
tenderly lifts the quilt
which crazies our dreams.
The dark pulls away
like angel wings. So there it goes
wish it, name this dark thought
then stretch and wiggle your toes
and say hello (go ahead!) (hi!)
to the first corny
tangerine sunbeams.

Oil painting/tissue paper assemblage  and poem by Mary MacGowan, an earlier version published in Licking River Review, Vol.30, 1998-99

Start A Huge Foolish Project

These spiritual windowshoppers

These spiritual windowshoppers
who idly ask, “How much is that? Oh, I’m just looking.”
They handle a hundred items and put them down,
shadows with no capital.

What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.

But these walk into a shop,
and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment,
in that shop.

Where did you go? “Nowhere.”
What did you have to eat? “Nothing.”

Even if you don’t know what you want,
buy something, to be part of the exchanging flow.

Start a huge, foolish project,
like Noah.

It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.
– Rumi, These spiritual windowshoppers


The following poem was written in response to Mary Oliver’s poems in which she so often depicts herself falling asleep in wild grasses or under feathered trees – lovely images such as those.  At some point in time I was quite aggravated at all of her sleeping in the wild flowers! Can anybody really do that? Does it make them a better person than one who cannot?

I’ve slept in hammocks,

in beach chairs,

on towels on sandy beaches,

but I have never slept among blueberries.

Wild leaves and fruits scare me,

don’t laugh, it’s their way.

They’ll make us a soft bed, or not,

they’ll feed us, or not,

they’ll scratch us, or make a bridge

for bugs to crawl upon our arms.

Imagine such indifference during

ground-level messy grassy sleep!

Please let’s stay in our pillow-topped bed.

What was I thinking, sleeping

in my car at rest stops?

Mary’s Rule #2

Rule #2: Whenever possible, take a bath instead of a shower.  

You can gather your clothes and calendar and cell phone while the water is running.   You get to sit down, and how great is that?   You can have fun posing in amusing ways to rinse body parts.  

(Mary’s Rule #1 was already posted: Listen to the end of the song.)

Listen to the End of the Song

Listen To the End of the Song


When you’re driving 

your dusty Jeep 

invite music in 

and in.

Listen and love 

as you go on your way

and when you get there

(to the place where you’re going)

if a song is still playing

put your car in Park.


It’s a love song 

written just for you.

Can you hear it?

Listen and you’ll know.

Follow these instructions

and even your Jeep will be happier,

in need of less repairs.



I always hated King of the Hill –

always felt tense in my gut when King,

sad when not,

and ostracized if I didn’t want to play.

That pattern has followed me through life.

But now, as a tired adult,

when I feel alone and powerless

atop whatever hill I’ve managed to climb,

I secretly long for anyone to join me.

Now, I’m ready to believe there’s more power



– Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening

Please climb on up the hill to join Bailey and me. We can all be Kings and Queens of the Hill together. Okay? Don’t worry. We’ll all fit, we’ll make it work.

Invite A Bird To Sit Upon Your Forehead

A bird

with no name

picks at my face.

No sense wishing it away,

this bird likes


I’ve other friends,

flowers too –

ladies, babies –

and armfuls of sweet color!


My pecker and I

(not the penis pecker)

have agreed

life is

honeysuckled blossoms

no matter what sits on your face

or what face you sit upon.


(Just for now, go

elsewhere, sexy thoughts!)

We are all one countenance

and the sooner we believe

the sooner we love.


(Not that


isn’t important) (it is)

(but just for a moment

invite a bird

to sit upon your forehead)

(first despair)



Collage on Monopoly playing card



Day or night, rain or shine,

it stands

ready to help you –

in the everyday affairs of life

as well as

in emergencies.

This swift,

willing worker

will run your errands,

guard your home,

save countless steps

and valuable time

and keep you in touch

with relatives and friends.

In office

and in home,

these oft-repeated words

reveal its value –

“I don’t


where I’d be


the telephone.”

– (found poem) Nat’l Geographic, 1954

Collage on Monopoly playing cards

Blue Egg Tattoo Dog

Blue-egg tattoo Dog,

Girl and a Red Scarf

ran away from

your house crashing in.

You bite and they

know your Ow.

Beware, Rage Dog:

If you scare us

we’ll sing songs of love

maybe even Kumbayah

and then put you to sleep.

Gas, injection,

bullet to the head.

[Rage is there. Inside all of us. I wanted to put it on paper, look at it, wonder about it.]

current events


Current Events

A man riled up at the gym
about the congresswoman’s
shooting. He says
It’s those hippies
with their goddam body
piercings and long hair
that’s the problem.
Somebody should shoot ’em,
wouldn’t bother me one bit. He
focuses on me
from his sweaty treadmill.
My pony-tailed gray hair.

The dreaded subject
at Charles A. Lindbergh.
My eyes blurred at each
I floated
’til it went away.

Photo is a self portrait taken on a frozen lake during a snow storm. it is not photoshopped or edited in any way.

the pain of music

Every instrument gives pain.

The violinist’s neck – left, left.

The oboe player’s lips buzzing.

The cellist’s back hunched over

glossy carved wood.

We play to give away

one holy moment

from inside the music.

Sore fingertips play lake songs

on a cigarbox ukulele.

– poem and illustration by Mary MacGowan

Dating Strangenesses #1

I got divorced about 10 years ago and have been dating on and off for 9 years.  Over the next few months I’ll occasionally introduce you to some of the doozies.  They are all true stories.

I affectionately call this guy My Vampire Spotter.

Our first (and only) date, flowers, a Porsche. During an expensive dinner out, he nonchalantly tells me that he sees Vampires on every corner – he was very clear that he was speaking literally.  The Vampires had red glowing eyes. I stayed through the meal; I shouldn’t have.  Still, nothing happened.  I got home safe.

I remember the music he played in his car, devoid of feeling, techno. I remember the rip in the leather passenger’s seat in his car. I don’t remember his face.  It was only later that I realized the goofball got it wrong.  Vampires don’t wait on street corners. Those are boogey men, aren’t they? Vampires wait in coffins, don’t they?

the reason is: you are drunk and this is the edge of the roof

My desire-body, don’t come strolling over this way. Sit where you are, that’s a good place. When you want dessert you choose something rich. In wine you look for what is clear and firm. The rest is self-hatred and mocking other people and bombing.  So just be quiet and sit down. The reason is: you are drunk, and this is the edge of the roof.  – Rumi