Posts Tagged ‘The Black Sheep Deli’

There was a time when I did not know what the word apocalypse meant. Then, in my late teens, I suppose I felt embarrassed or ashamed. I am older now and I realize that I will always be learning new words if I am lucky. The older I get, the less well I seem able to retain them. But guess what, my turtle doves? My memory is improving of late.

I thought that all of my friends who grew up with church or religion, who went to Sunday School and who had Confirmations, the Catholics, almost the whole lot of them (this was Ohio, after all, chock full of Catholics), all knew all of the stories and words from the Bible, New and Old Testament. I realized at some point that I knew more than they. It was all a sham. They did not know how to spell apocalypse, nor its etymology. They didn’t know what Jesus said, what the Jews said. They did not know any of it. I still wonder what people do in Sunday School if not learn these stories. I do not know what real testament is for anyone and I think most people don’t know this for themselves.

Each time I become anemic, the wear and tear on my face is more dramatic. This time I look older. Though I approach 50, I have some mistaken notion that my youthful body will last. The flesh of my face will stay. The frown lines, which aren’t so much from frowning as exhaustion, grow more pronounced. I used to push up on the apples of my cheeks with the thumb and middle fingers of one of my hands when I was driving in the car (safer than texting!), but now I’ve forgotten to try.

I wrote a bit of something just now, some words gathered around from tonight and before. There are problems, so many problems. I usually refrain from saying what they are, but now, I will tell.

There is the title which is pretentious, but which I like anyway. I like the Dutch vanitas paintings and I like the Latin.

There is always the overdoing, the more than I need. But that is what blogging poems is for. To pare down later.

There is the mixing of metaphors or images. There is the land and earth and there is the sea. But I love them both and I am not confused, only enthusiastic.

There is this which harkens to another poem, one which remains incomplete in my computer. The barn and the harvest, the emptiness and me.

There are the too many and the mixing images, again, of the body and death. This is what yoga is for and this is how the poem takes shape.

And there is stealing. Or snatching. Sneaking the words that came before, sometimes knowing whose, sometimes only vaguely.

Here you go. Here are the words.

Memento Mori

After I am vaporized
the imprint of my body will remain
flattened on the wooden slats
the barn

swing  open  the  gate
swing  open  the  gate

After the apocalypse, the burning off
I am drained of blood
my skin deflated
my bones a fine powder

My skin sinks
but finally

I  remember
I  remember

It boils down
to this

Goldenrod, my ovaries
the shining
in the hollow
of my groin

I  remember

the coiled snake
the quaking stalk
the base of my spine

Plough  the  ocean  blue
Plough  the  ocean  blue


Tonight, I got to hear Tim Eriksen play in a small coffee/deli/bakery in downtown Amherst, The Black Sheep. (The Black Sheep, btw, was one of the first things that caught my eye and attracted me to Amherst. OH! the bakeries. OH! the bookstores. OH! the bakeries. OH! the bookstores).

I have been in Amherst since August of 2000. I have put down a few roots. I can feel them.

I have been singing shape note since August of 2004. I am rooted in tradition.

I didn’t go to this particular concert, The Newport Folk Festival, in late summer 2006. I wanted to but somehow didn’t manage it. Tim organized a big group of people from our local Sacred Harp sing. Here is one of the things they did on the big stage. He played it tonight at the end of the concert and we all sang again. This is NOT a song from the Sacred Harp, by the way. It’s something Tim likes to refer to as “Northern Roots Music.”

And just so you know, my turtle doves, I don’t believe in the apocalypse.

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We will be happy to help you as soon as you’re done with your call” –sign at The Black Sheep Deli, Amherst, MA

On Monday, I took my mini-van to Firestone to have the broken housing on my rear-door taillight replaced. This broken housing was one of three reasons my car failed inspection. Now it is all behind us and we can travel together again, my mini-van and I. Actually, we are not legal until we get re-inspected, but the Amherst cops are pretty chill and would probably give me a warning for starters. Technically, I have two months to get re-inspected, but I have the red capital “R” sticker which basically means: YOUR CAR IS GOING TO IMPLODE. Last year, my car failed inspection, too, but it was failure of a milder variety—maybe the sticker was a different letter and color?

The previous week, I also spent an hour at Firestone, having a brake light repaired and getting two new tires put on in the front. The waiting room of the Firestone in Northampton, MA doesn’t really have any interesting magazines if you ask me–it’s all cars, sports, and business, and those aren’t really very sexy topics, are they? There was a copy of Latina magazine and it was pretty engaging, but it wouldn’t have been my first choice.

For Monday’s appointment, I decided to splurge and buy A WHOLE BUNCH of magazines before my car repair—whatever I wanted. I got Cape Cod Life for things to do on the Cape, of course; People, for the trash; Country Living because certainly, though I am in my upper 40s, I will have my dream house and dream kitchen soon; The Wall Street Journal, for the human interest story on the front page and to jeer, mentally, at the letters to the editor.

As I was settling into my comfy couch seat, learning about a descendant of some of the first European settlers on the Cape, I was shocked to hear my waiting-room mate’s intercom-level voice as she blared it into her cell phone. I now know much more about Rebecca than I would like. I know her last name (starts with an “S”). I know her son’s name (starts with a “J”). I know that there was a school committee meeting that night. I know that she had to cancel two daytime appointments. I know that she could not attend the school committee meeting as planned.

She made at least three calls out and received one, though I tried hard to avoid knowing even this much about her goings-on. In a different frame of mind, I might have asked her to go outside or at least to lower her voice, but I refrained. Though it was hard to concentrate on the article about Martha’s Vineyard’s idiosyncratically evolved sign language, I had bought the magazines to engage myself, and I did my best to ignore her.

My experience of cell phones, of late, is that the demographic with the rudest behavior is exhibited by the over-50 set. I think them young’uns are all texting, so there’s no volume, just an apparent disregard for personal safety when crossing the street and a complete lack of knowledge of the fine points of verbal, face-to-face conversation. What I consider appropriate behavior while dining has also fallen by the wayside, with texting being an apparently acceptable form of dinner conversation between parties of two or more.

Last summer, I went to see a movie in the local art-house cinema and, lo and behold, the 60-something woman next to me flipped open her goddamn Blackberry DURING THE MOVIE! I’m kind of thick and slow, but I’m starting to get it. The over 50-set, dinosaurs though they may be, have something in common with the rabble-rousing teens—technology, by gum, and they will shove it in your face so you know that they are important, savvy, and relevant.

I know, Rebecca S, that you and your schedule and your friends and your son and your clients and your car repair and your general fucking life are really important. But next time, so help me God, I will ask you to take it outside.

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