Category Archives: Anthony Hecht

Christmas, Or: I Received A Paper Cutter LA LA LA

On Christmas Eve, we turned on “A Christmas Story” in the kitchen, as pecans were being chopped and sugar was being sprinkled and dumplings were being rolled and dreams were being baked and et cetera. It had reached the point in the movie where Ralphie had finally gotten his BB gun, and “all hell” hovered on the horizon in the form of his broken eyeglasses. As you know–if you are an American, and have not been living in a thatched-roof hut off the Trans-Siberian Highway since 1983–the refrain “You’ll shoot your eye out!” runs throughout the film. As we watched, my father–in a reflective sort of way–said:

MY DAD: I knew a kid whose eye actually got put out.
US: Guh?
MY DAD: His brother threw a rock at him. He had one eye!
US: Guh guh guh gah gah gah aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
MY DAD: Can you imagine being that brother? 

Meeeerrrrry Christmas!

***

Here’s an obligatory Picture from Christmas Day, snapped by my aunt during a vaguely candid moment, and which–as a bonus!–is also vaguely humorous! From the left, that’s my brother’s fiancee, my sister [holding my nephew], and my mom. I’m in the middle with the New Baby. 

i-just-think-this-picture-is-funny-also-look-at-that-precious-angel-baby-for-gods-sake1

The New Baby…well, there literally aren’t words for how I feel about this baby. It’s embarrassing. Baby of the Year.  Baby of the Universe. Winner, Best Baby 2008. Winner, My Heart, Which She Holds In Her Small Fist With A Grip Of Iron. I actually WANT her to cry, because that means I can rush to her side and provide tactical assistance. But this baby doesn’t cry. You practically have to divine what she needs. And her MOUTH quirks up into this little SMILE which just KILLS you even though you KNOW THAT, TO HER, YOU MERELY RESEMBLE A BIG BLOB OF POTENTIAL SUSTENANCE.

***

My mother’s side of the family was in town for Christmas this past weekend, which meant that myself and three of my brothers had to sleep at my sister’s! Slumber party! Yay yay yay aaaaaaaa!

ME: I’m sleeping on this couch.
BROTHER: No.

My sister cautioned us that my 2 year-old nephew would likely enter the living room, where we were camped out, at around 7 a.m. Both nights that we slept there, this did occur. I would hear something strange in the darkness–

ME: My God–what’s that loud, slobbery breathing sound?

–and then I would sit up and cast my eyes about, and Drew would be lying half-asleep and face-down on the floor in the pitch dark, immovable, half-wrapped in a blankie, thumb jammed in his mouth, staring off into space, exhaling in the manner of someone wearing a diving mask which has flooded with ocean water. The following would then ensue:

ME: Drewbie?
DREW: [Stares at me as though I am a grizzled hitchhiker] 
ME: Drewbie, do you want to come up here and lie down and go sleepy?
DREW: [Stares at me though I have constructed a fiery Molotov cocktail out of his newborn sister’s formula bottle]
ME: Uh…Drewbie?
DREW: Mommy!

[EXIT DREW FLAILING] 

When he was significantly more awake, a few hours later, it was all “blah blah blah love and kisses and hugs”, of course, like nothing had happened. 

DREW: Aunt Elleee!*
ME: You looked at me like I was a grizzled hitchhiker. [Pause.] I love you. 

*He tends to leave out the “m”

***

Here comes New Year’s. Here it comes. Here comes the shiny and new.

I recently told someone that I wanted to spend my New Year’s Eve alone on a mountaintop. 

As that is impracticable at the moment, a party with small cups of champagne will be nice, too.

***

The next time I write, it will be 2009. Bless my boots! What ought one resolve to do, in 2009? I have a few big plans, but I’m not telling.

New Year’s is good for little plans, too. Like I think I should clean my room and I should buy a little bin where I could keep all my file folders. The bin could be red.

***

My room is awash in file folders. Every time I open one, I marvel at the contents all over again.

ME: Holy MARY!

Sometimes I forget why I kept something. It was bone-achingly important at some point, and now it is not. I cannot remember why I printed this short story, and gave it a folder all its own. There are other stories. I did not print them.

***

Last poem of 2008. I read a lot of poetry this year; I found basquillions more poets and poetesses with whom I became can’t-eat-can’t-sleep-must-read-everything-they-have-ever-written-even-the-bad-stuff-from-1992 enamored.

However, this poem [which I linked to in this blog, but did not post in its entirety] really threw me and my heart and soul and everything right against the wall. In the good way.

Happy New Year.


A Letter

I have been wondering
What you are thinking about, and by now suppose
It is certainly not me.
But the crocus is up, and the lark, and the blundering
Blood knows what it knows.
It talks to itself all night, like a sliding moonlit sea.

Of course, it is talking of you.
At dawn, where the ocean has netted its catch of lights,
The sun plants one lithe foot
On that spill of mirrors, but the blood goes worming through
Its warm Arabian nights, 
Naming your pounding name again in the dark heart-root.

Who shall, of course, be nameless.
Anyway, I should want you to know I have done my best,
As I’m sure you have, too.
Others are bound to us, the gentle and blameless
Whose names are not confessed
In the ceaseless palaver. My dearest, the clear unquaried blue

Of those depths is all but blinding. 
You may remember that once you brought my boys
Two little woolly birds.
Yesterday the older one asked for you upon finding
Your thrush among his toys.
And the tides welled about me, and I could find no words.

There is not much else to tell.
One tries one’s best to continue as before,
Doing some little good.
But I would have you know that all is not well
With a man dead set to ignore
The endless repetitions of his own murmurous blood.

Anthony Hecht 

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Filed under Anthony Hecht, Beginning Brand New Things, Brothers and Sisters, My Parents, Nieces and Nephews, Poetry

T-giving

A List of Things For Which I Am Thankful, In Honor of Thanksgiving

1. I am thankful for the picture text messages my little sister sends me, wearing hilarously be-ruffled items as a part of her responsibilities as a Singing Purduette

2. I am thankful that there is something in the universe referred to as a “Purduette”

3. I am thankful for my roommate, who just recited the following e-mail subject heading to me: “FW: Peanut Butter Fever! (Catch it!)”

4.  Hahahahahahahahahaha

5. I am thankful for peanut butter

6. I am thankful for my new pajama pants, the left leg of which bears, inexplicably, the word BRAZIL

7. I am thankful for Anthony Hecht

8. I am thankful for the $5 Feng Shui book I impulsively purchased in Borders last week, thusly arming myself with the knowledge that I have slept facing in the wrong direction for five years

9. I am thankful for Laura Ericson

10. I am thankful for the New York Times article headlined “Indian Navy Sinks Pirate Ship“, which contained the following line, as if naming the article “INDIAN NAVY SINKS PIRATE SHIP” wasn’t wonderful enough, so help me God: “The other boat made good its escape into darkness.”

11. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

12. How can one not be thankful, when such prose litters the world

13. Diamond, diamond pirate prose

14. I am thankful for mein mama and papa

15. I am thankful for the fact that the weather allows me to sing once more the special song I wrote last winter:

“I wish I had my leg warmers on,
 I wish I had my leg warmers on,
 I wish I had my leg warmers on,
 But wishing won’t put them on my legs.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

***

From Mary Oliver’s “Dogfish”.

I wanted
the past to go away, I wanted
to leave it, like another country; I wanted
my life to close, and open
like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song
  where it falls
down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery;
  I wanted
to hurry into the work of my life, I wanted to know
whoever I was, I was

alive
for a little while.

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Filed under Anthony Hecht, Brothers and Sisters, Mary Oliver, My Parents, Poetry

Charles Dickens: Light of My Life

I finally finished “Bleak House”, by Charles Dickens, this weekend. This book flattened me. It flattened me out like a pancake. I was a pancake and “Bleak House” was a heart-wrenching, delightfully satirical asphalt paver. That Dickens! He can spin a yarn. Where were you in my literature classes, “Bleak House”? Why did my professors never say: “Go, and read “Bleak House”, if you be a God-fearing woman”? I didn’t want to do anything, after a while, but read “Bleak House”, and drink it and eat it and breathe it. I became frustrated when my actual life intruded upon finishing “Bleak House”. I became angry with myself one evening, reading it, because my eyes–despite all of my efforts to the contrary–refused to stay open. “D UP,” I said to myself. “JUST A FEW MORE PAGES AND MR. TULKINGHORN WILL REVEAL THE SECRET OF LADY DEDLOCK OMG.” “I AM EXPERIENCING ORGAN FAILURE,” responded the rest of my body, and the rest of my body won. This book made me weep and weep, and cry out, “Oh-no-you-did-not, Charles Dickens!”, and laugh, and clutch my heart to bursting. My mouth was this shape, while reading this book:

O

And, as ever, Dickens rolled out name after wondrous character name. Dickensian names are half the fun of reading Dickens. Where did he GET these names? Only Dickens knows, and he’s not telling. Here follows a sampling of the surnames used in “Bleak House”:

Krook
Smallweed
Chadband
Snagsby
Bucket
Turveydrop

And my personal favorite:

Mrs. Jellyby

I advise you to read it, if you’ve a mind to. I truly, truly do. Dickens has completely wound himself in my heart-strings unto the ending of my days. I read “Great Expectations” when I was 13ish, and I believe I read “Hard Times” in college, but it wasn’t until I read “David Copperfield” last summer that I was plunged into the fervor of the true convert. I mean, “David Copperfield” REALLY broke me into six pieces. My dilapidated, hilariously ugly copy of “David Copperfield” scorched my soul like a marshmallow, and I don’t even LIKE roasted marshmallows. O Dickens! Betwixt yourself and George Eliot, I have spent many a sleepless night. They knew something about people’s hearts, those two; and reading them now, over a century after their books were published, is always wonderful in a deep-down way. There is nothing wrong with contemporary authors. But I have a secret preference for the writers who had it all figured out a long time ago.

***

I started reading some of the work of the poet Anthony Hecht last week. I was looking around for some of his work in a happenstance way, and came upon his poem “A Letter”. It is staggering to begin the act of reading such a thing with an essentially neutral level of interest, and to end it by gasping for your life’s air. Read it here, if you like. Read, too, “Third Avenue in Sunlight.” There is so much to know, in the world; I know .000000000000000000 of it, and I certainly did not know Anthony Hecht. I am sorry, Anthony Hecht.  I am sorry.

***

Finally: last week, I was a hair model for an in-house show at a salon. It was an experience that spanned several weeks of my life. I had intended upon writing about hair-modeling today; how I felt about it, what happened, how I wore false eyelashes which made my eyeballs appear large enough to land aircraft upon. But I decided that I couldn’t. I thought: a blog about hair modeling would not only turn my own brains into bolognese sauce, but the brains of others as well. So I will simplify matters thusly.

This is what my hair looks like now [I’m making that face ON PURPOSE–GOD]:

This is what it looks like when I wake up in the morning:

Seriously, it’s all over the place, mornings.

A Boundless Moment

He halted in the wind, and–what was that
Far in the maples, pale, but not a ghost?
He stood there bringing March against his thought,
And yet too ready to believe the most.

“Oh, that’s the Paradise-in-bloom,” I said;
And truly it was fair enough for flowers
had we but in us to assume in march
Such white luxuriance of May for ours.

We stood a moment so in a strange world,
Myself as one his own pretense deceives;
And then I said the truth (and we moved on).
A young beech clinging to its last year’s leaves.

Robert Frost

 

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Filed under Anthony Hecht, Poetry, Robert Frost