Friday, May 7, 2010

The Glade

I don’t know if it is the meds or my heart, my age or just this stage of my walk on the planet. I am not working just now and my rhythm has shifted. I go to bed around midnight, get up for an hour or two around three in the morning, go back to bed, get up around seven in the morning, go back to bed around nine, and then get up around eleven. Hmmm. Half the time I also nap in the afternoon. When I wrote this poem I was staring at the wall in my cubicle at work.

I sit under a transformer that hums. Part of this wall is a fire door, set up to slam shut against an active fire should the heat rise enough to melt the clip that holds the cable holding the door open. The tan fire bricks are five inch high and about a foot long. They are eight inch deep. In other areas of the plant I sometimes use the height of the bricks to estimate how high up some pipe or other piece of stuff is if I don’t need real precision.

I have taped up on that wall a variety of things I have found amusing in the past, like the cartoon of the convict digging his way out of prison. We see him in his hole just about to dig through to the cess pit under the outhouse. Oops. Some days are like that. Under my name tag at the other end of my space I have asserted: “Some days it just doesn’t pay to gnaw through the leather straps in the morning.”

The Glade

If I had a choice
right now, the tan fire brick wall
in back of this desk
would change into space
and I would find me in air
greened by the small glade
grandfather planted
just for the wide mesh hammock
where the breeze came by.

May 15, 2009 9:31 AM


  1. How lovely if we could tunnel through to just such an expanse....and free in it. Ha! Don't I friggin' wish! Christopher, I have been up at three AM and change every morning this week...with no opportunity for naps. I am tired, and weary worn, exhausted from sleep that only elongates my wakings. Yet...I am hopeful. Go figure.

  2. Under work conditions, I try to retire at nine but more like ten and wake at midnight and two on the way to four fifteen, but I actually start to rise at three forty-five, dozing for half an hour. By the time I get to Friday I am fairly desperate for sleeping in and even though my friends like to go out for dinner, I am often too painfully exhausted to do it.

  3. It is good that you can see your way into writing about these struggles, Christopher. I'm sure it helps you. It helps us to read it.

  4. Christopher -

    Woman in the Window ( directed me to your page. And what a direction! The Glade reminds me of James Wright. Though he was, of course, already lying in that hammock.

  5. If I could, I'd be there in the glade, too.

  6. I like this poem. It lets the air in. Can you hear the birds? They are making a racket here these days, mating and finding places to build their nests.

  7. Elisabeth, I have worked a long time to become this transparent, though I confess that for me it has been in large measure reclamation of the child I once was rather than creating a new thing. I did this work not out of some profound morality or noble purpose but instead to preserve my life, working on the premise that I was taught in Alcoholics Anonymous that a rigorous form of honesty was essential to the kind of sobriety I sought. Because this has been reclamation rather than construction, it has not been so onerous.

    I translated that idea of honesty into a sense of transparency. I feel I must both know my habits and foibles well enough to report them directly (to take inventory as we call it) to God, self, and others and as well to be willing to share them in some potentially useful form so that others on the planet, especially alcoholics can realize out of my sharing that they are not alone.

    Further, if I am to have hope of remaining sober, I am called to stand ready to assist. One of these is also to offer what I know of how I have recovered from "a seemingly hopeless mind and body". That includes what I have done, if I am asked, about these shortcomings.

    Mostly, I have accepted them.

    Without the constant renewel of psychic and emotional power diverted from the supplies available to me today, these defects reduce and retreat to more ordinary dimensions and become manageable in some fashion.

    I have a sleep disturbance brought on by my many years of alcohol and dope usage. What I have described is my current accepted pattern that is my version of normal. It shifts depending on my circumstance, which includes a medical condition. I sleep better with a partner, but not much. I am precisely not struggling or else it could be very much worse, perhaps approaching a condition where only a drunk would make any sense, again.

    It took me eight years of sober living to get it all to settle down in this area of sleeping. When that happened the first major turning point of my sobriety became certain. My primary lack of confidence in this sobriety thing was that I would be sleep deprived long enough and I would become desperate enough that drinking would happen out of the despair that would take me.

  8. Grete, as I wrote on your blog, you are welcome here anytime.

    Karen, I will string another hammock, though the one already up is big enough for two. In my experience though, hammocks are not best for sleeping paired.

    Rachel, in the early morning is best around here for listening to birdsong. Otherwise there is usually too much going on and they do not care to announce themselves. Instead I watch the colors on those who come to my feeder. The boys get much more intensely colored with their own arousal.

  9. yes,i go there often
    maybe we have the same grandad
    glades and meadows
    forest, lake
    even desert
    it's all behind that wall
    lucky we are soul
    and go there

    love your work (play)

  10. Thank you, Ardi, for your visit. I see you came via Rachel. Rachel is often my muse. I guess she would say the same of me. Here is one of the generosities of the blog experience, that we can have this exchange. I am a better poet because of Rachel.

    My real grandfathers were as different as can be. One sort of makes me think of Woodie Guthrie somehow though I don't know why. The other was a mining engineer who in his younger days participated in the Alaska gold rush. He emigrated through Canada if I understand right and met his English wife along the way. They were in Highland Park, Illinois at the point my mother was born but settled on Catalina Island off the coast of California. That's where my mother was raised. In a few years after three children there was a divorce and my grandmother married again, an Australian who had come to America. She had three more children. My grandfather went to LA and worked as a designer and drafter. I have access to one map of public transit that was his work. It is accessible from the internet, an antique map.

    There is much more but I don't know it well. This grandfather was Dutch.

    My father's father I know much less about but I believe he was born here, coming from ancestry in the British Isles. Someone on that side was Scottish, related to the line of descent that included Robert De Bruce somewhere in it, but I don't know how directly or if that comes from my grandfather or grandmother. I think grandmother. She came from the south, from plantation stock.

  11. Thanks, Christopher.
    My glade is more one of poetic reverie. I didn't know either of my grandfathers, and just one grandmother. German on both sides, except 1/8th Winnebago/Ho-Chunk Nation (mother's grandmother). Oregon (after migrating from Iowa) farmers mostly on Mom's side. On Dad's: More colorful. Grandad was a traveling salesman (Watkins Products) and bootlegger in S.Dakota. Went west in 30s by car, being mostly blind. My dad drove as a young teen. Grandad died an alcoholic, leaving my dad to care for family. Worked on farm where he met Mom. Foundry and railroad work in Portland till they bought their own farm west of there where I grew up. Both my folks are gone now to farms more fertile. So many stories not recorded. Some I have written down. Fragments are in poetry on my blog. Hope you visit. I'm not near as prolific as you or Rachel.

  12. Thanks for sharing, Ardi. It is interesting how in my later years my reading habits are drifting ever more toward history and historical fiction, and I like knowing about people and their roots. I liked your comment about Rachels readers. You are right. She does attract a high class readership. I like to think I do too.


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