Harvest in Phases of Night (Sharing another original poem.)

Revisiting some of my older work this morning, I came across a certain poem and decided to share it. I very rarely use this space to publish poetry previously unpublished, but for some reason, I wanted to share this one. This is for you who found me through poetry, you who enjoy poetry, and you who enjoy the art of words. I wrote “Harvest in Phases of Night” in 2011.

 

Harvest in Phases of Night

 

The old woman ought to be

guarding the flower beds,

not spilling from acres to plots

hawking for signs:

 

pumping blood, an earring of pulse,

a car in flame intersecting the right

passages of dark.

 

Later, flinging her tampered

sleep in the night, she opens

her eyes to the kettle detached,

spectators caught

overhanging the wood fire.

 

Before dawn, her three arms

have fallen asleep, the accidental one

blackened, smelling of gasoline;

 

she adjusts her blanket, keeps it close…

she waters the early

streets and telephone lines,

sparking fury and grail;

 

she says her crushed-metal

prayers at sunrise,

chewing breakfast of concrete

peeled from asphalt walks,

punishment for ignoring the grain,

 

her old shoe and its sole

gold for the wake,

nourishment boiling over.

 

The headline of the day passes

unnoticed by the draw,

by the brass shield clouding the tide –

 

the old woman’s spine a chain of goblets,

auric meningitis, dreadful error,

unfortunate ride down pitted roads.

 

By the time I get there

the next night,

she’s rid the yard of gawkers.

She’s doing penance,

threshing stalks, sugar cane,

wheat of heritable caution

under a half-moon.

 

She’s answering to the nobility

of chrysanthemums.

 

There are more ways than one

to crash an ending:

 

fitful meetings of burnt tire,

fragmented window, misfires of logic,

passion we’ve never imagined….

 

Ore and secrets. Who knows

what causes these accidents?

 

She sleeps while the killed

find their way to the sidewalk, stone above

sketches of lighting at midnight.

 

In the end, it’s garden

mower to traffic signal.

The moon makes the dying right.

 

by Kristi Garboushian, April 2011

 

[17 January 2018] [ETA: no filter… just weird lighting!]

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Callaghan and the prism of Luc Besson.

Being with Callaghan has taught me to see things in new ways. Like action flicks. If not for him, I’d never think to ask myself: “How bad is this movie on a Luc Besson scale of 1-10?”

As a French person, he’s sensitive to Luc Besson. Or, should I say, he’s not sensitive so much as he’s annoyed by Luc Besson.

I listen for his comments when we’re watching action movies. If he starts grumbling about Luc Besson, I know that he’s annoyed. That’s because Luc Besson is the yardstick Callaghan uses to measure his opinion of the movie’s worth, even if Luc Besson had nothing to do with the movie.

This morning, I asked him to summarize his feelings about Luc Besson. I actually recorded his answer. Verbatim:

“Hmm. Luc Besson. Alors. His movies are too easy. I mean, the stories. The resolution of the problems. It’s always, like, ‘Oh! Everything’s fine now. She turned into an intergalactic f*cking cloud of black matter, so everything’s fine’.”

Some comments I’ve heard from him while watching action flicks, or while talking about them:

10). “Putain, the person who did this movie was influenced by Luc Besson.”

9). “This could’ve been a great movie, but Luc Besson.”

8). “The CGI is cheesy. It’s Luc Besson.”

7). “Luc Besson outdid himself with Valerian!! I had to stop after a half-hour. It was bad, it was SO BAD, it was the quintessential Luc Besson movie.” (Yes, Callaghan knows the word “quintessential.” No, I wasn’t with him when he watched Valerian. He shared this opinion with me afterward.)

6). “Ugh, this movie has that Luc Besson vibe.”

5). “Taxi was ridiculous, and Luc Besson made three of that!!”

4). “You can tell Luc Besson was involved in this.”

3). “Dobermann was good because it wasn’t Luc Besson. If it was Luc Besson doing the same movie, it would be ridiculous.”

2). “The Family. That was a stupid movie. Luc Besson.”

And his #1 general comment, applicable to any action flick that annoys him:

“ET VOILA. LUC BESSON.”

Sidenote: This post is rather a tribute to Luc Besson. Love him or not, he’s an iconic filmmaker. Two of his films are on my list of all-time favorites: The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and La Femme Nikita (1990). Callaghan likes those movies, too, as well as The Fifth Element.

 

Cancel your resolutions! (Staying motivated in the new year.)

We’re early enough in the new year that we’re still thinking and talking about our resolutions, or about our decision to not make them, as the case may be.

More than once, I’ve been asked how I keep my resolutions, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on that, for whatever they’re worth.

I’m not a life coach or a psychologist. I don’t have it all figured out. There seems to be no end in sight when it comes to my manner of inadvertently f*cking shit up or making a fool of myself or both, and the last thing I am is the walking picture of contentment, regardless of the (considerable) depth of my gratitude.

But I’m strong-willed when I have the passion to fuel my drive, and I do have a lot of that. In my opinion, that’s most of what we need. It’s hard to stick with resolutions in the absence of passion.

My main advice would be to cancel the resolution if you lose your passion for it. Focus your energy elsewhere! If the resolution is of critical importance, you will come back to it – or it will come back to you – once you’ve given yourself a break from the pressure of it. Sometimes that’s all we need to kick-start our second wind (or third, or fourth, or tenth): a break. Put that resolution down and back slowly away. Don’t hang onto it and worry over it and lament your struggle and your apathy and your “failure.” Just put it aside.

Yes, reverse psychology on your own self works.

If the resolution is not of critical importance, then you didn’t really need it, anyway. Sometimes, the mood you’re in when you make non-critical resolutions isn’t the mood you stay in for the next 365 days. That’s okay. That’s not a failure; that’s a realization.

Some other thoughts regarding staying motivated and not sabotaging yourself in sticking with your resolutions as the new year gets underway:

1). Deadlines hold no power. They really don’t. If you’re the kind of person who gets overwhelmed by the notion of a deadline, then try to relax where that’s concerned. Any progress is still progress. If all you can do today is get out of bed and get dressed, then you’ve accomplished something!

2). Don’t say too much – not to be secretive, but to keep something sacred within. There’s something weirdly empowering about hoarding a goal or an aspiration. Maybe it’s just that if no one knows you’re aiming for it, then no one can ruin it… no one can judge your progress or lack thereof. Having a resolution that only you know about turns that effort into something magical, a secret quest, a journey that you take alone. Share a resolution or two with others, but keep one for yourself. It’s amazing how progress toward your secret goal can help to build your confidence.

3). Helplessness is a mere state of mind. If you feel helpless, tell yourself that you’re not, because needing help and being helpless are two different things. Thinking “I am helpless” is self-sabotage. Thinking “I need help” is not. If you’re capable of asking for what you need, then you’re not helpless… if you need help and you have the wherewithal to ask for it, you’re not helpless. You’re more resourceful than you know, and you have more courage than you know.

4). Your journey is directed by you. You can make your own decisions, own them, learn from your mistakes, and move forward accordingly. When it’s all said and done, you have executive power over your own life.

5). Suffering is a fact of life; it’s a motivator, not an impediment.

 

January 2018 – Here’s to a bright and beautiful new year.

 

Another thing to remember: every week has a Friday, whatever day that may actually be! Again, you can decide what day that is. Revel in it.

 

Just believe: The Florida Project. (Non-review movie review!)

Last week, we went to the cheap seats (the iconic Tempe Pollack Cinemas) to see The Florida Project, a film about a young mother and her little girl who live in a run-down budget motel, and the motel manager’s conundrum of having to be an effective manager in difficult circumstances while also being the compassionate person that he is.

Theirs is one in a cluster of colorful, Disney-themed budget motels crouched on the outskirts of Disney World. The motels create a mini-village mostly populated by human beings living in poverty the likes of which most of us couldn’t imagine, while skipping distance away, tourists visit the Magic Kingdom.

 

 

In the Magic Kingdom’s shadow, the motels strung together with fantastical storefronts of various establishments – gift shops, corner markets, eateries – contain a precarious world concerned with survival… a world of have-nots and have-nothings. Worlds exist within other worlds, though. At the center of The Florida Project, the little girl, Moonee, explores her world and finds smaller ones, each of them magical. She knows where to find them.

Left largely to her own devices by her mother, who comes across as more sisterly than motherly, Moonee is like a little old person, wise in the ways of her universe yet oblivious to danger, to the fact that her mother is unstable in perhaps every sense of the word, and to the reality of living a hairsbreadth away from homelessness. It’s both a relief and a heartbreak to note that the difficulties of Moonee’s life haven’t deprived her of her childhood innocence.

Halley, Moonee’s mother, can’t seem to set examples of right and wrong, but she can exemplify elation and the ability to turn the mundane into wonder-provoking discoveries. In terms of parenthood, there’s fit and unfit, but can you be a thoroughly bad parent when you can show your child the incalculable value of joyful play in found moments?

Writer/director Sean Baker discovered Bria Vinaite on Instagram, and he cast her as Moonee’s mother. She is a treasure. Young Brooklynn Prince’s raw and unfettered performance as Moonee could make you believe that she’s not an actor, either, but a child who wandered onto the set. All of the children in the film are wonderful. And as the motel manager, Willem Dafoe – the only “named” actor in the film – gives a superb performance that eclipses any I’ve seen from him… after all these years, we finally get him in such a role!

 

 

I would describe The Florida Project as a dramedy, and I highly recommend it. Just believe.

Happy Trails. (Minimalism, post 7.)

Here’s a general question:

What do you do when you’re a minimalist and you don’t even like shopping for shoes but Famous Footwear sends you a coupon for $5.00 off any purchase $5.00 or more for your birthday month and you’re also a Capricorn so you love a bargain and you know that with FF’s clearance section you could end up with some high-quality shoes for free?

ASKING FOR A FRIEND.

Seriously, though. I walked out of there with a pair of $60.00 casual-nice sandals for FREE, because after the clearance price, birthday coupon, and additional discounts with points earned (buying gym shoes at Famous Footwear when you have a membership account does have benefits), the sandals ended up costing 0.

 

But they were free. (Okay, and they’re gray.)

 

I didn’t donate a pair of shoes when I acquired these sandals because I didn’t have anything comparable; my scant footwear collection consists of gym shoes, boots, a pair of moccasins, and a pair of flats. I have two-buck rubber flip-flops for around the house. I didn’t have any “nice” sandals. This may be one step back (pun not intended) on the minimalism path, but at least, I reasoned with myself, I didn’t add to a category of things. I actually did need some nicer footwear, and FF’s coupon got me past my loathing for shoe shopping long enough to look and find these.

At the same time, I’m more aware than ever that I’m a sucker for a good deal. Awareness is good.

Other than that, I’ve started getting antsy looking around the house! This morning I stood in the middle of the living room and thought, that bothers me (the star mirror), that bothers me (the roses), that bothers me (the small vintage floral), and that bothers me (the large square mirror). The things themselves don’t bother me, but the fact that they’re on the walls does. I would like to stand in the living room and see more… nothing.

Callaghan got here first. It was his idea to remove the large square mirror and the roses a while back, and I resisted. (But you gave me those roses!)  Now I’m with him.

Until next time!

In a nutshell. (December Favorites!)

Happy New Year! I can’t say that enough. Every day since last January, 2017 showed no sign of ending anytime soon, and now, at long last, it’s over. At the same time, the year went way too fast. 2017 was the split personality of years in my life, and it leaves me excited for 2018.

I’m starting 2018 with a new approach to these “monthly favorites” posts: I’m going to answer three questions about each “little thing” on my lists, rather than writing paragraphs about them. If I have something more to say about something, I’ll devote a separate post to it. Starting now, these posts will be more visual, less blah-blah-blah.

 

1). Darkest Hour

 

 

What I liked: The acting, the direction, the musical score, the story of Dunkirk from the back end, Gary Oldman’s make-up and costume, the overall quality of the production.

What I didn’t like: It dragged slightly in some places, but not enough to lessen my regard of the film.

Would I recommend it? Yes, especially if you enjoy biopics.

 

2). Black Mirror (S4)  (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: Every story in every episode, the writing, the direction, impact/thought-provoking nature of the stories, the big philosophical questions raised, the overall excellence of the production.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes. You might enjoy this even if you’re not a fan of sci-fi thrillers.

 

3). The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: The writing, the acting, the costumes and set, the entertainment factor, the film’s freshness and overall excellence.

What I didn’t like: Some of the humor fell flat on me.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

4). I Love Dick (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: The story, the writing, its presentation as art, its unapologetic rawness, some of the acting (mainly Kathryn Hahn’s).

What I didn’t like: Just that its IMDB rating is much lower than I’d expect it to be. In my opinion, this series is curiously underrated.

Would I recommend it? NOT TO EVERYONE. If you’d rather not see sexually explicit stories and raw, “artistic” story-telling of such material, I would not recommend.

 

5). Mom’s cooking.

 

Okara with brown rice and furikake

 

What I liked: Everything, meaning the tofu and the okara pictured above. Mom brought freshly made tofu from the little tofu place in my hometown’s J-town (Japan-town), so it was the tofu of my childhood. It’s nothing like the prepackaged tofu you get in a box in the supermarket.

Okara, by the way, is Japanese for “rubbish,” in a sense, from what I understand… as a dish, it’s the scraps leftover from the making of fresh tofu. You could buy it in bags and cook it up with dashi (Mom used plant-based dashi), seasonings, and finely chopped shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and carrots. It’s one of my favorite home-cooked dishes. Grandma used to make it just for me!

What I didn’t like: That it was, perhaps, the last time I’d eat it. With the closing of the little family-run tofu factory (there’s no one left to take it over), fresh tofu and okara may be a thing of the past.

Would I recommend it? Yes, but this is irrelevant, of course.

 

6). Dave’s Killer Plain Awesome Bagels.

 

Dave’s Killer Plain Awesome Bagels

 

What I liked: High nutrient density in a bread that seems like a cheat-day indulgence.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes. I’ve been eating one of these a day almost every day for over a month, and I’m not tired of them yet.

 

7). Apple Pie Larabar with peanut butter.

 

Apple Pie Larabar with peanut butter

 

What I liked: Peanut butter on an apple pie Larabar is as delicious as peanut butter on fresh apple slices. It’s a satisfying nutritional powerhouse of a treat.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? If the apple/peanut butter flavor combo appeals to you, then yes.

 

8). Cara Cara oranges.

 

Cara Cara oranges

 

What I liked: These beautiful red-fleshed navel oranges (they are not blood oranges) are incredibly sweet and juicy, and they have just a hint of tropical flavor.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

9). Acure The Magical Wonderfluff Overnight Hydrating Booster Mask (argan + gardenia extract).

 

Acure The Magical Wonderfluff Overnight Hydrating Booster Mask (argan + gardenia extract)

 

What I liked: This overnight mask makes my skin look more smooth in the morning. It goes on like a thick lotion that dries into a pleasant, slight tightness; it’s not sticky, as other overnight masks often are. I layer this on over my nightcream every night.

What I didn’t like: Its schoolroom fragrance (paste, maybe?) is somewhat strange, but actually, I don’t dislike it. It may be a turn-off for some people, though.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

10). OGX Shea Soft & Smooth Creamy Hair Butter.

 

OGX Shea Soft & Smooth Creamy Hair Butter

 

What I liked: Just that it actually works to smooth out the frizzy fly-aways all over my head, and it doesn’t make my hair feel heavy or greasy.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

The End. How’s that for succinct?

Until next time!

Yawn. (New Year’s resolutions and such.)

I used to be passionate about making and keeping New Year’s resolutions. Many of you may remember that. I’m kind of blasé about it now, and maybe that’s because I have just ONE resolution for 2018, and that’s only because I’ve already resolved… to get more sleep.

Yawn. (In every sense of a word that can sum up “boring,” ho-hum double entendre intended.)

I’ve been resolving to get more sleep for a long time; 2018 isn’t the first year I’ve re-stated this. There’s only one lifestyle fix I need to make, and this is it. I know that sufficient sleep on a regular basis is essential for optimizing physical health and mental well-being. I know this. 4-6 hours per night just. isn’t. enough.

Waking up later in the morning isn’t an option. I like to be up early. The problem is that I also like to stay up late, and this is what I need to give up. I need to give up late nights. There’s no benefit to me in staying up late.

I’ll keep working on it. Honestly, I don’t know why resolutions are so difficult to keep! New Year’s resolutions, after all, are promises we make to ourselves. Why would I not do everything I can to keep a promise I make to myself? I think we set ourselves up for failure by formally setting resolutions… so I’ll end this here. I’ve said too much!!

 

Sleep is so exciting that only a pic of theatrical lighting and dry ice would do.

 

It’ll be 2018 when I post here again, so Happy New Year to you all… and good luck with your resolutions, whatever they may be!