Posts Tagged 'work'

Plant sitters


beardediris1“I bet it’s the one with the beard,” she said, and she pointed at an iris sitting in a planter near the door. The walls of the kitchen were painted a rich egg yellow, and the iris was in full bloom; the colors stood out against one another, hot, almost jarring. The house was awkward, hallways leading nowhere, doors that appeared to be ordinary at a distance but up close were too small, or didn’t open, or didn’t close. 

Mary said, “I think maybe they aren’t home,” and looked around the corner. She walked past the iris, through the kitchen and into the small sunroom that was full of books and smelled humid, tropical.

“It would be a big help if they’d left us a note,” she continued. “I have no idea what we should be doing.” She handed her bag to Dana and sat down on the butterfly chair near the open window. Dana opened the bag and rummaged in it, looking for her notes. They sat quietly together in the room, looking out at the hummingbird feeder, the watering can. Mary picked up a book: Plant and Phantom. Dana whistled a happy quiet morning song. When Miriam came in behind them through the kitchen a few minutes later, they felt startled, like she’d just walked into their home, not the other way around.

The five year plan


I once watched a calf being born. The sides of the mama cow distending, stretching like a rubber balloon. I saw the leg of the calf pushing, the knees bending. There was steam and the morning was cold. I was wearing a hat, I remember, and I put my gloves in my pocket because I could not reach and pull with the gloves tangling up my fingers. That was enough of birthing for me, although when I saw a goat birthing the next year, and then a number of children over the years after that, I did not have the same visceral response – the steaming breath, the labored grunting, the mud, the sensation that my arms would be torn out of their sockets. Everything else seemed like a Hallmark card by comparison.

Back when I first started writing copy, my hair went past my waist and all the way down to where I could sit on it. I wrote copy for condolences, for congratulations, for best wishes and for getting well again. I wrote my copy in a little room with a wooden desk, a Selectrics electric typewriter, and a window that opened. The building was old; there were pigeons on the ledge, and since the window opened, I kept it open and wrote copy for pigeons: thinking of you and your missing foot; congratulations on your new eave; best wishes to you and your hatchlings. Then there were the hawks and the condors hovering over the city, nesting in historic sites. Higher copy. That was when copy was cheap. There was an intern, a little baby intern getting work experience while in college, who made copies of copy that I was paid almost nothing to write. Then the intern would finish college and come in as a baby journalist, ready to know more about copy than me a scant six weeks after retiring their copy machine.

It’s possible to know too much about nothing and thereby to step into space, unaware of gravity, of gravitas, of the somber impact of doubt and failure. I was writing Hallmark copy, cheerful and vacuous, and looking out the window at the pigeons, and started a punk rock group, the Mangy Pigeons. We played head bang all night and wrote happy chappy greeting card copy all day. Paid by the line, the first year, then by the page when we could crank it out in bulk. Line after line. Me and three pale punk writers, great vocabularies, a bit too existential to acknowledge a plan. What do you want to be doing five years from now? Remember that team building activity? Let’s see, in five years I want to be attending the funeral of yet another pigeon, whether punk or feathered, and I want to be selling lines of copy to big corporations to print on pastel paper and be bought by ladies in tailored pant suits. Yes, there is a path like that, that may be followed. That may have been followed, although never expressed in a clear, concise, greeting card format:

Congratulations and best wishes on your aimless creativity.
Your parents must be proud.

Lost my compass. Anyone seen it?


My brain’s gone walkabout again.

Don’t know where, exactly. When I look inside my own head, I see mostly fog.

Maybe it’s the new year making me fuzzy (August is my new year).

The chickens, geese and keets seem more important than writing.

I can’t seem to get enough sleep.


Maybe it’s the weather.


Maybe it’s my disorganized office.

Maybe it’s my hormones.

 Maybe it’s astrological.


Maybe it’s nothing at all.

I’ll be back when I’ve got something to say. Or when my office is clean.

Whichever comes first.

New Job Haiku

time bandit



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July 2020