July 8: Broken Glasses, Heat Wave, Reading

Yep. Broke my glasses.  Not shattered, but one of the…stems?…broke.  So it’s bound up with crazyglue and a binder clip, and in this heat, it was suggested that it would take 24 hours to really set.  So.  No glasses for me.  Which is strange. Thankfully, I’m nearsighted and not needing to drive or anything, but still… so blurry and hazy and disorienting.  The nice woman at the VSC art supply store even loaned me her personal crazyglue stash when I wandered in there looking for some kind of adhesive solution.  If it doesn’t work out, I’ll have to move on to a full-on nerd-engineering solution — some sort of tape/rubberband/string tourniquet. 

It has been in the 90s since I got here (northern Vermont, people!) on Sunday.  I feel like I’m living inside a HotPocket. 

Glad I can read without my spex.  Finished a book today: Susan Browne’s Zephyr, from Steel Toe Books. It’s her second book, and makes me consider looking at her first.  There are so many terrific poems in the collection — I’ve read a few aloud to fellow writers here on the porch over wine/whiskey in the hotpocket evenings…”Two Clerics Hacked To Death in Holy City” is spectacular.

Two Clerics Hacked to Death in Holy City

I just love that, so let me say it again.
The alliteration alone is admirable, and the cadence-
nothing better than iambic pentameter:
Two Clerics Hacked to Death in Holy City.

Man, that’s got swing, ring-a-ding, and an action
verb, I can really feel it, hack, I can almost see it,
hack, hack, hack. Talk about a wake-up call.
This morning, I’m reading the news, checking in
with the war when like music to my ears:

Two Clerics Hacked to Death in Holy City.
It should win the Pulitzer, or maybe
the Nobel. But then I turn the page,
and listen to this:

A Five-Year-Old Aims His Kalashnikov.
Such lovely triple rhythms! A natural progression,
and I can’t wait to hear tomorrow’s song:
the harmonics of humanity, the croon
of carnage in every holy city.

I’ve also read and been so engaged by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno’s book, Slamming Open The Door, from Alice James Books.  As is the case with all of AJB’s books, it is beautifully produced, and the sequence of poems dealing with the murder of the author’s daughter are well-wrought.  Nothing is overwritten here — the poems are deep and solid in their emotional impact, but not unwieldy in their expression.  Though the poems stand on their own individually, the book is definitely a sequence, and really drew me in and through.  I look forward to reading more of Kathleen’s work.

I am also reading, finally, Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you about.  Enjoying it very much so far.

I brought a bunch of books from My Pile to read here — but of course, there’s a writers’ library in the very house where I am living here.  I am going to try to prioritize my pile, though, in case I want to make any donations to the library before departing.

11 thoughts on “July 8: Broken Glasses, Heat Wave, Reading”

  1. That is a great poem! Have you read/heard of My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge by Paul Guest? The poet was paralyzed at age 12 and it’s a series of poems about his life since then. Here’s the publisher’s link: http://www.harpercollins.com/books/My-Index-Slightly-Horrifying-Knowledge-Paul-Guest/?isbn=9780061685163
    I haven’t read it yet but I’ve convinced the library to order it.

    I spent a winter in Northeastern Vermont so I’m having a hard time imagining it that warm up there!

  2. I really enjoyed Guest’s The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World, and indeed, My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge is in My Pile At Home, waiting (still) to be dug into. I look forward to it.

  3. I have no idea what my problem was, not getting into Oscar Wao. I really need to try that again. Can’t believe it is so hot up there for you. (It’s been pushing 100 down here a few days…) Phil and I lived above a small flower shop on Main Street there (since he towed along a partner, we couldn’t live on campus), and we looked out over a parking lot with a bank sign that had a huge digital thermometer. I vividly remember it reading -45 one night. We left just as Spring was breaking, so it’s hard for me to even imagine the place with no snow, let alone with hot summer weather. Hope you get some relief soon! But all of the reading sounds divine. And here’s my favorite quote from Thurber:

    “Some day I shall take my glasses off. Some day I shall go wandering. I shall go out into the streets. I shall do this deliberately.”

    1. Robin, I was just talking to another of the writers this morning, and she said she couldn’t get into it either, but was going to try again. There’s this preface-y kind of thing that might have turned folks off — I rather liked it. I’m loving Oscar’s story. Now I shall go out into the street, deliberately, on my way to dinner, and still without my glasses.

  4. I was in that part of Vermont for a Bluegrass Festival this time of year five or six years back. Miserable hot. It was so hot the local yankees took off their outer layer of flannel and walked around in just their wool undershirts.


  5. Dear Liz –

    I do believe i’m adding you to my daily rotation of Bloggers. I’m sorry about your glasses, mine were broken last week i tried to think of it as “looking at the universe the way i’m *supposed* to see it”

    – Sean 🙂

  6. Fuzzyness can be liberating, that is if you don’t fall down and crack open your noggin first. Walk slowly, in meditative state, and breathe leisurely the air of your sweet Vermont heat. I wrote a poem for KK last night after returning from the Fudge Mill with your beloved. It was a word filled luscious night of honey dippes prose!

  7. If you had Lasik surgery you wouldn’t need glasses, but you also wouldn’t get this existential experience of wandering around infernally hot northern VT in July and discovering new things. I’d still go with the Lasik. 🙂

    Love the “Two Clerics Hacked” poem. I look forward to reading your new, newly old, and old work here again!

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