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!”
or
“You can only do this is you will create brilliant art and poetry and sketches and songs”
geesh.

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.

To all poets and lovers of poetry

MY TEACHER ONCE TOLD ME A STORY, by Hafiz

My teacher once told me a story of a great saint,
of a Perfect One, who wanted to travel around
his part of the world before he died and talk about
some spiritual matters to those who would come
to listen.

And when his men and he reached a certain
country he said to some of his companions,

“Sensuality is in fine shape here, maybe even
too fine shape, but my basic concern is that we
fit in well and that we get a few to listen to my
words which will plant seeds here for generations.
So I want you to employ twelve of the most beautiful
erotic dancers who can travel with us for the next
month as we tour this land.”

So the dancers were employed, and from town to
town and city to city the great Master traveled.
The dancers would begin the show as it were, and
once a nice crowd had gathered the saint would
speak for just a few minutes, then let the performers
resume their art.

My own Master then stopped the story, looked at
me in a very sweet and somewhat amused way,
then said,

“Hafiz, don’t forget the dancers in your poems.”
– by Hafiz, translated by Landinsky

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.

Last Night


Hay flies out
from the truck before her,
bats hurrying a cave.
She swigs Debris of Twister,
turns mistakes
and crashes
into tall red pines.
Dry dandelions
breaking loose.
Paper wings
crinkle-laced
with winter green
needles flap an origami
peace crane
swift away
on her last exhale.

– poem by mary macgowan

– photo by lori, hippie peace freaks fb page

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.

Year of Mindfulness #3: Blueberries and Mint

(It’s a 23 second song)

Blueberries and mint
Blueberries and mint
Mint and blueberries
Blueberries and mint

This is it, folks. Blueberries. Mint. They’re growing on my beach. I could fight against them, pull them out and clear them away. Or I can celebrate their solid being-ness.

I wrote this song to remind myself to keep to the basics. No sense in trying to be something I’m not. All I can do is be me. Blueberries can only be blueberries. Mint can only be mint. You can only be you. I can only be me. So natural it almost seems silly to write it out! But we humans are pretty good at NOT being ourselves.  Or is it only me?

– song and photo by mary macgowan
– blueberries and mint from mary’s property

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

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

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.