Innisfree

Please click on “play”

poem by Yeats, of course; music by me


I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

 

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.

Lilacs

What my iPhone heard me say today:

The lilacs are in bloom bloom bloom it seems there’s brushing up here everywhere here in the northern great Hollibush of something. One house has a fencing yeah I hear it takes to lilac trees to grow one can’t make it alone all things are growing because it is springtime creatures moving about turtles fighting turtles showing themselves everything reaching up I believe I shall grow lilacs next year come by the Road, for all to see my neighbors and I sending pleasure to each other through color and perfume.

I had something else in mind, but I kinda like it this way.

How To Burn 100 Notebooks

DSCF1139

Start with one   Open it    lie it down
on a burning Duraflame log   Blackening
Curling   until it puffs

out into a Martha Stewart decorative crepe paper
ball I’m not kidding      it looks exactly like that
am I right and turns into a pink rose

thin layers of    baklava how can it burn for
so long     Add
more books       100 is a lot  
The heat scares

you     Oh how you once loved 
your story    Some pages
fall away red burn lines creeping soft    Cotton

They’re persistent suckers though       how can it
take this long     Plan
on at least a day     or find a furnace    

incinerator       beach bonfire      
something BIG     if you wanna get outta
there before you change your mind

i

Photo on 2012-12-03 at 19.16

She clutches it

as if it has answers.

Email

to email to facebook to word
to blogs to email to email.
She knows she’s doing it
while she’s doing it

but can’tstopcan’tstop.
She falls asleep with
one finger

pressing one key
until it fills the page.

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

There was a man
in the nursing home, no word
remained for him except one: i.
All day he looked at her blankly
saying i i i i i.
This is a true story.

She’d move him to the hallway
for relief, a distant i,i,i,
quieter,less insistent

less.

a morning poem

 

Driving you home,

traffic lights blink
early morning (night)off.
A car goes steady past
then two joggers,
an up-down flashlight.
Conversation weaves mystic.
If we thank God when things
go well
then we must blame God
when they don’t.
Let God be.
The old saying, Be
here now, now a joke.
But still.
It’s still night, really.
Stille Nacht.

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

First Snow


First snowfall yesterday morning… I found myself saying ooooo, so pretty over and over again. Such a silly simple thing to say… But it was ooooo so pretty! This is a photo of the island across from me.

Snow Champagne

Ice becoming itself
crystal clusters
kirigami trees silhouetted
against the last light
too late, too late
we watch snow fall
through picture windows
candles and matches
within reach
should all else fail
Come quickly, brothers,
I’m drinking stars.

What She Thought vs. What Was vs. What Will Be

from a friend…

Boyfriend Whore

She thought she was a Serial Monogamist
and that as a middle-aged woman
she was dating wisely.

Turns out she’s been a Boyfriend Whore.
She doesn’t know if her children call her Boyfriend Whore,
but she has learned that many young people do
regarding their dating mothers.  She is
Amused – and
Boyfriend Whore Embarrassed.
It is true.
So far she has been a Boyfriend Whore.
She hopes if she says Boyfriend Whore
often enough
she’ll get used to it.

You Can Find Your Passion p9

A REMINDER: THESE “PASSION” PAGES ARE FROM MY NEW WORKBOOK. YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THEM TO USE THEM, OR I CAN EMAIL YOU A PDF COPY. THIS WORKBOOK IS JUST SOMETHING I WANTED TO MAKE AND I OFFER IT TO ANYONE WHO WANTS IT. THERE’S BEEN SOME CONFUSION – SORRY.

Year of Mindfulness Day #2: A New Water Lily

A new water lily

curls upward like birthday ribbon
‘til the tight white bud reaches the surface.
Then it leans over on the lake
and rocks itself awake.

The tight curl believing in what-is. I am so often like that corkscrew curl….but I forget to believe. I forget to believe that I have the right to grow; that my “curl” will smooth out over time; that I am allowed to do what nature wants me to do: Enjoy and thrive.  Isn’t that ridiculous? How could I deny myself the privilege of enjoying and thriving? What was I thinking? Or was I thinking too much?

– photo and poem by mary macgowan

Michigan’s Back Alleys

This scarcely feels fair, she says, so easy to find the loved
the abandoned, the swingsets, the trash cans.
It’s fair, he answers, everyone’s back yard.

They drive back and forth
behind all the bright front porches.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– photo & poem by mary macgowan

Grey Eyes

“Tavern,” poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, adapted to music and sung by Mary MacGowan

I’ll keep a little tavern
Below the high hill’s crest,
Wherein all grey-eyed people
May set them down and rest.

There shall be plates a-plenty,
And mugs to melt the chill
Of all the grey-eyed people
Who happen up the hill.

There sound will sleep the traveller,
And dream his journey’s end,
But I will rouse at midnight
The falling fire to tend.

Aye, ’tis a curious fancy—
But all the good I know
Was taught me out of two grey eyes
A long time ago.

The Movement of Planets

Dad tried to explain,
giving me a grapefruit,
Mom an apple and he was
the flashlight sun. I
was never going to get it.

Sun bright
on my revolving moon.
Black-eyed crows
and Susans still banging

from a blue sky.
Grape jelly
in a hollow half orange,
bird watchers below.
An apple planet
bobs above.

– poem and photo (at Chicago’s O’Hare) by mary macgowan

The Boat Was In An Old, Old Room

“Someone should fix this up,” she said.
They walked through poison ivy (maybe) and tall grasses to see up close.
“Look in this window,” he said.
She looked. There was a boat.

The boat was in an old, old room.

The old, old room was in a house.

“If this were France, there’d be people living in it,” she said.
“Yeah, all peeling paint and that French elegance thing.”

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– poem and photos by mary macgowan

Broken House

Broken House

She considers quilting.
Ripped cloth  / / /
splayed

zippers exposed, a blank     /   /   blanket
one slice of  /  /  /  orange
in a  /  /  /  / mold.
/ Almost wrong.

It must have something  /  /  /  song.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan

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.

#86

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

28 Sew-On Snap Fasteners

28 Sew-on Snap Fasteners

Rust-proof
Assorted Sizes
For bulky fabrics
For medium fabrics
For light fabrics
Made in England

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

found poem, photograph by mary macgowan

We Don’t Have Enough Pleasant Hours Clubs

#40

Grandma attended a one-room school house. They sat on benches. No slouching allowed. She didn’t mind when we gently teased her: Grandma! Slouch for us! She couldn’t do it. She’d slump a wee slump, then she’d giggle.  When I was 5, she wore an angel costume for Halloween.  She floated out the door on her way to Pleasant Hours Club, wings unfurled.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– photo and memoir by mary macgowan

Or Willewingulagulin


from Spaceship Under the Apple Tree, by Louis Slobodkin, as remembered by a 10 year old girl

Or Willewingulagulin

Marty arrived, a tiny Martian
senior scientist in tight uniform,
orange willewingulagulin
and a tiny black typewriter.

Eddie befriended Marty
and was allowed to see
Zurianomatichrome (green).
Marty slept hanging upside down,
his shadow right side up.

Skip pages, adventures,
Grandma’s cookies;
proceed to Marty and Eddie
hurrying to the spaceship,
red footprints running behind them.

At the door, Marty confessed,
frowning: I’m only a junior scientist.
I’ve failed my Earth mission.

But Eddie gave Marty
his brown Boy Scout manual.
Marty emanated dashes
indicating pleasure &
success after all.

Next day, gray twigs and leaves
lay randomly scattered
in a circle of watercolor hues
where the spaceship had been
by the old apple tree

and this is my poem to you,
illustration of trees and branches
falling in my yard, a chainsaw
revving and resting, revving
and resting, which is as much
about orange, green or love
as it is about trees or art

or hovering spaceships
or two men who thank me
for writing about them,
boy or martian, which has
as much logic as you or me
or you and me together
which is to say it makes
perfect sense in a
willewingulagulin kind of way.

– poem by mary macgowan

What Was the Plan?

#39

What was the plan? she asks. The dream?

You’re sad, he says.

I just wish they could see
how beautiful it looks, now, from afar.
Years, decades, from across the field.

– photo and poem by mary macgowan

Friends, I changed my blog address: pluckyumbrella.com, but I think you can still get here the usual way: 57andthensome.wordpress.com.  Still.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

Or…(regarding Runaway Truck Ramps)

Call the Department of Transportation

Cancel Mary’s appointment.
Her heart needs to runaway more
and more.
No ramp, please.

So much to love.
The petite pine cone that came inside with a beach towel.
Hafiz and Rumi, who are Joy Clowns.

When her water bottle catches a bit of wind
just for a moment
and says hooooooooooooo.

That she has a cellar door
to slide down.
She hasn’t yet, but with no runaway heart ramp
there’s still a chance.

Runaway Truck Ramp

Call the Department of Transportation.


Tell them Mary’s heart is a runaway. That she
needs one in her own
back yard. Or her kitchen.

The trouble she gets in
rolling down hills with the gear shift
broken. (In her medicine cabinet?)
(Her bed?) Perhaps an operation is required,

implant a mini ramp in her rib cage
to stop that foolish thing
from falling all over the place.

– photo and poem by mary macgowan

Treehouses

#36


Wow (by Hafiz)  

Where does the real poetry

Come from?

From the amorous sighs
In this moist dark when making love
With form or
Spirit.

Where does poetry live?

In the eye that says, “Wow wee!”
In the overpowering felt splendor
Every sane mind knows
When it realizes – our life dance
Is only for a few magic
Seconds,

From the heart saying,
Shouting,

“I am so damn
alive.  

Let’s build a tree house!”

– photos by mary macgowan, poem by hafiz – last line added by mary macgowan

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

Ridiculous, the Charioteer

Ridiculous, the Charioteer.
She can’t see the man, his chariot.
Hercules looks more Crooked-Deer-Jumping than Hero.

Great Bear and Little Bear? Dippers, easy.
Some study the stars
as if they have meaning,

as if they matter. Terrifying word,
Joy. A still
and silent rock.

She dives into dark water
the bright soles of her feet
last to go.

– poem and photograph by mary macgowan

By An Open Window

#35 or so

Flower me in stories, count me in sheep
I sleep curled up in a morning glory.
Warm french bread, sleepyhead,
jellied and buttered by an open window.


The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

poem and photo by mary macgowan

Night Flowers

A Land With No S

Some people write in complete planets.
Characters. S-free.
If she lived there
would she still lisp?

S is a whisper sliced open
insistent from the throat.

Tongue, teeth, lips:
all untouched,
an empty river rushing.

Teachers give it
for Satisfactory.

As if
it doesn’t break our hearts
every time we say S
and know it can’t be.

Tongue. Teeth. Lips.
All untouched,
empty rivers rushing.

More Disappearing Stairs

She sighed, This whole stair thing . . .
I know, he said.
Eaten up, she said. Look at them. Vanishing.
It’s beautiful, one of them said or maybe both.

So beautiful it hurts.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

Disappearing Stairs

Beautiful Decay #33

She said, It scares me, these stairs fading, being eaten by the world.
He said, Yes.
I don’t think I can write about it, she said.
You don’t have to, he answered.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

Still Life in an Open Field

Beauty in the Decay Series #32

Still Life

Movies on our broken television
with closed captioning
stuck “on.”
Later, when it got fixed,
how I missed

sounds of birds flapping
gurgling water
heels tapping on a hard wood floor

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– poem and photo 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
body.
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

Not Waving But Drowning

Tonight we helped search for a man on the dark night lake yelling Help! Help! He went on and on yelling Help! It was scary. It was 1 a.m.  Some of us rowed toward his voice while others waited for the police to arrive. Turned out to be a guy in a canoe who had tipped over.  He was rescued by someone else, we couldn’t tell who it was so dark, and we went back to bed.  

Everyone deserves to be rescued.

Stevie Smith, we need Steve Smith for her wondrous poem about not-waving-but-drowning…

Not Waving but Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Stevie Smith

A Path Makes Sense to its Maker

On the lake this morning with good dog Bailey.

We saw a yellow butterfly, a turtle, a muskrat, dozens of fish large and small, and a frog (or maybe it was a toad).

a turtle poem. . .

Bubbles on the water’s surface
follow a path that makes sense
to their maker.
At the end, a turtle’s head
appears out of early lake water,
trees bent and reflected around it.

Two days ago a dozen or more
turtle tails & fat feet tracked in the sand;
clumsy mounds. We chose two
to protect. Eggs, we hope.

The turtle’s head disappears –
a magician’s trick –
the bubbles slowly go back
to their own kind:
the clear air that belongs
only to new mornings.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan

THE PICNIC TABLE

Ode to the Picnic Table

by Craig Dotti

Lumber and lacquer 
Nails and elbow grease
Blood from the splinters 
Before you were stripped down
From the wood 
Of the forest behind our home

Standing sturdy and steadfast,
On the patio 
I laid 
Brick by brick
Gate keeper of the orchard that grows, 
Thick in the summer  
And curls up barren,

In the cold months
As if sitting on its mahogany shoulders there are
Mountains to the North West that seem
To smile with their peaks, 
And valleys against the blue satin 
Sheet of a sky

You who bare witness to my body and the bodies of
Countless others 
Those that would just simply use you and fewer,
That would become your very grain
You are watching our conversations, 
Through knots for eyes 
Through bird-burrowed holes, 
Hearing us,
As we break bread as brothers
Wood through the trees
Flesh from bone
Feast to famine 
You are,

Beautiful and complete
As the steak,
Cooked rare 
A glass of summer port–wine: 

The color of the red russet potato,
And the earth-soiled hands that dug them up

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

photo by mary macgowan

FOR EVERY BIRD A NEST

For Every Bird a Nest – Dickinson

For every bird a nest
Wherefore in timid quest
Some little Wren goes seeking round

Wherefore when boughs are free
Households in every tree
Pilgrim be found?

Perhaps a home too high
Ah Aristocracy!
The little Wren desires

Perhaps of twig so fine
Of twine e’en superfine,
Her pride aspires

The Lark is not ashamed
To build upon the ground
Her modest house

Yet who of all the throng
Dancing around the sun
Does so rejoice?

poem by emily dickinson; photo by cathy sevensma

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

Grinkor

Beauty in the Decay Series #23

Grinkor took you away last night/you, a prehistoric bird
made of sharp angles and a long pointy beak/you said
no matter how many days you spent there/the date
of your return would always be today/but it was always
tomorrow when I would hide from you, squeezing behind
radiators sometimes even trees/I had something I
needed desperately to protect/so I pressed up against
walls, birds pushing on all sides and that’s how I
came to fly/I had to use my mind, though, to remain aloft
/like you taught me/I said they converted you/but you
wouldn’t come home/I tried to tell my father/but he thought
I was the crazy one/another planet? ha-ha, he’s left you for good,
sweetie/then you found me, so happy you hugged me/
accidentally/stabbed me with your long beak/you panicked,
scratched my legs with your claws/Come home, I cried/I’ll be
dead before you come back/all I had left were wings/
I whirled to the sky/you ran in circles like a chicken/you
were neatly shaving your head and beard/and that’s when
I didn’t know you any more/still, this time I stopped halfway,
my heart beating faster than my thoughts/I sang an aria
somewhere between god and grinkor/and it broke my wings
baby it broke my heart.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan, poem published in 1979 in some tiny literary journal; I never got a copy of it and I now forget its name. Sad. It was my first published poem.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

WASHING GREASING BATTERIES TIRES

Beauty in the Decay Series #20

Green and white tiles give way slowly.

HAIKUS…

WASHING GREASING GREEN-
WHITE TILES, BATTERIES AND TIRES.
THE WHEELS ON THE. ROUND.

Deer in headlights freeze
or run into the road, but
know:  .kcab gniog oN

When I look at cars
I number them by color.
Small red. Big yellow.

– haikus and photo by mary macgowan

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

He’d Promised They’d Go Out On His Boat

Beauty in the Decay Series #19

A man, keening,
kneeling.
She touched his shoulder:
honey?
but it was burlap
wound around
like a scarf;
ropes curled
in workboot shapes;
hot oil steaming –
not a cigarette.
No man, not
begging forgiveness.
Never (was).
A prayer.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– photo and poem by mary macgowan

This Is My Letter To The World

Beauty in the Decay Series #18

poem by Emily Dickinson

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me —
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!

photo by mary macgowan

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

The Ravage of the European Starlings

Beauty in the Decay Series #17

She said, But this has nothing to do with the photo.
He said, I know.
She said, But I like it here anyway.
He said, I know.

The Ravage of the European Starlings

They imitate songbird calls
to sneak into their nests
and ruin their eggs, maybe
eat them for all we know.
Feeders and suet ruined.
All the nice birds, gone.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

I Can Get Lost

Thanks to Fork In My Eye’s blog photo, Beauty in the Decay Series #16

I can get lost
in the heart of an artichoke.
Avocados slip into my mouth.
And brussel sprouts –
o! sauteed until almost black
its sweetness fills my room.

Photo courtesy of Tori Gallagher. You must visit Tori’s wonderful blog: forkinmyeye.com It’s not only a cool blog, but what a cool name! Fork In My Eye!

poem by mary macgowan, first line donated by Jody Kirby-Rinnyk.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

Jingleheimer Schmidt

Jingleheimer Schmidt

 

Victrola, you old thing.
Slim windows swing open
to turn up your volume.
I find your secret drawer of 78s
and put one on: an opera moans
a whale, an ancient elephant. Well,
nobody told me that my ass

could fall out, or that my breast
implants might quit.
A doctor says They’re like cars –
sometimes you need to buy
a newer model. O Victrola

let’s sit in a dark corner.
I’ll open your elegant windows
and sing loud
accompanied by my shiny brass
farts. I’ll turn you on:
Crankity plunk plunk,
crankity plunk.

– poem by mary macgowan, recently published in DASH.
and a bow to ray sharp whose exellence reminded me that i can post, simply, a poem.

Guest House

Thanks to AppropriatelyFrayed’s blog photo, Beauty in the Decay Series #15:

Visit Brenda at AppropriatelyFrayed.wordpress.com — Brenda shares my pleasure found in old structures falling apart!

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whomever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

– tender photo by Brenda Silberman

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

White Tee

Beauty in the Decay Series #15

This is an old dock in an area where the lake has dried up. Photo taken from my rowboat in shallow water . . .

White Tee

Today’s wind rushes
at my white tee
and cut-offs
hanging
on the clothesline.
A wild mare
comes alive inside them.
They billow
around her lean muscles
as she rears up,
trying to escape.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

photo and poem by mary macgowan. the poem was published in a previous version in Assisi, 2011.

The Sparrows Are Out Tonight

Beauty in the Decay Series #14

With a charming poem by Chester Maynes, as found on his wonderful blog!

Sparrows

The sparrows are out tonight
In the expanse of the sky
Dashing in different motions
Like flames in several portions

Every glide tells a narrative
Soaring a pungent account
From page 1 to page 101
Sparrows can tell diverse stories

They tell me something
They give me signs
Of life and of love
Of life and of love

– poem by Chester Maynes, 2009, printed with permission. Check out his blog at:
http://chestermaynes.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/sparrows/

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

She Was Out, Rowing

#12

Boat rowers
must sit wrong.
They glance backwards
to see what’s arriving
but most of the time
they look straight ahead
after it all grows smaller.

Attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan. an earlier version of the poem was published in Review Americana 2011.

A Broom With Her Wayward Dustpan

Beauty in the Decay Series #11

A broom with her wayward dustpan,
a phone with his seldom pen.
The brushing of love
into untamed curls.

Attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan

My Ophthalmologist’s Ear

Because it’s not about toasters:

My Ophthalmologist’s Ear

 

Not the sticking-out type, nice
and relaxed, close to his head
limply hanging there
you know: clitoral
labial, vulvar.
His brown hair
scruffs the tip of each one
a downy freckled bunny.
Look straight ahead,
he says, then glides
his rolling     chair
side    to      side.
Ear.       Ear.       Ear.       Ear.

– photo by mary macgowan.  a previous version of this poem, by mary macgowan, published in The South Carolina Review, Vol 34, #1, Fall 2001

Waitwaitwaitwaitwait

Beauty in the Decay Series #7

My first and only Barbie. She’s about 50 years old.
This decay – her baldness – I find it difficult to see as beautiful.
Her bald head is so vulnerable and tender, but I feel
embarrassed for her.  
I used to make Barbie and Ken kiss, and then I’d leave them, entwined and passionate, under blankets.
They come in boxes now. Twisty ties keep them in place.

A poem that starts with Barbie and ends with dead pigeons in marigolds….

Waitwaitwaitwaitwait

Barbie tied up in her box,
twisty-ties choking
her wrists, ankles, neck.
A window for watching.
The brain-damaged girl
drew Barbie’s face,
the steady scratch-scratch
of her #2 pencil.

That was when a boy
came to my office each week
to scream Fuck Shit Bitch
as he punched Playdoh.

A healer told me
to be a tree.
Send my tap root
down to the core
of the earth. It zoomed
ferociously, grotesquely huge
from between my legs
forging a trajectory down
there where there is no end.
But now my tap root

is a drag.
While walking in a garden
it crushes cockle shell rows.
It bursts through car floors
to destroy highways, bridges.
Disasters trail behind me.
I grow weary of all the required
repairs, facts that need fixing.

Back then we lived across
from a pigeon shoot.
The injured ones
would flutter over and roost
clumsy in our eaves.
Mornings we’d find them
still warm, lying in a pool
of marigolds.

Attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things; how nature will have its way.

– photos and poem by mary macgowan

Listening To A Meditation Talk While In The Bathtub

Beauty in the Decay Series #6

rinsing my hair
i dunk underwater;
water fills my ears
just as the speaker says
“And buddha said…”
i might hit rewind
to hear what i missed
but i like the holes in the philosophy

Attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things; how nature will have its way.

– photo 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

Water’s Obligation

A waterfall only has a name
while it falls,
A river only has a name
while it runs.
We flee, drop, lose things – so flawed.
But rain rinses our hair
with its passing name, its fresh.
Feel a river glisten your curls
with rippling rivulets.
Water’s unwavering obligation
to gravity,
it finds the lowest place
and goes there always.
Feel yourself flee, freefall;
believe you will be caught.
Strong arms to hold you
safe at wishing well’s end.

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

Hieroglyphic Ice Melts


First, the ice melts like farm communities

seen from an airplane window.
Is this what it’s like to be in love?

Then come ice hieroglyphics
written by lake life waiting below.

Is this what it’s like to be happy?

Ancient language experts
will be called in to interpret.
I want to understand.
The ice cracks and moans.

Photography and poem 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