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dancing on the beach

Yesterday afternoon I danced on the beach.

Now, before I go on with my story, I need you to rid your imagination of any romantic pictures these words might have conjured up. I did not twirl prettily in a flowered summer dress over the sand, nor did a handsome stranger invite me to dance a waltz, a rumba, a samba or any other dance, barefoot, under palm trees.

Instead, imagine a thirty-year-old woman, dressed for warmth rather than fashion in three layers of jumpers, wearing seagreen sneakers and a very boring, basic-navyblue scarf, standing on a pebble beach, toes perilously close to the waves licking up the slope, face tilted towards the autumn sun that peeks out from behind the clouds, eyes closed while the wind is whipping strands of hair around her face, earphones firmly in place, playing an air guitar and every few minutes breaking out into furious air drum solos or those kind of jumping, skipping dance steps that would not look out of place at a rock or ska concert… Have all that? Congratulations, that madwoman was me.

Instead of listening out for the police sirens coming to escort me to the nearest loony bin however,  I concentrated on my new favourite album, Lord Huron‘s Lonesome Dreams. At just a tick too loud and with the view of white-crested waves on a grey-and-mint-green sea and having to jump back with every third or fourth wave when it rushed up and then left salty foam on the wet, sunlight-glistening pebbles, I couldn’t have chosen a more fitting place to indulge in this album.

This music is all about space. It’s big, wonderful, airy music full of oxygen and bursts of wind and energy. Or like the sea, with its powerful currents, sometimes lapping sweet and gently on a beach, sometimes raw and direct and dangerous. And I realize this description won’t do anything for you, until you’ve actually heard their songs. After that, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with me. So listen to this:

And then listen to this:

Did I mention that they have the weirdest, most wonderful videos?

When I first came across Lord Huron’s music, I was doing a very demanding university degree and going quietly insane with assignments and I had two of their songs and I adored them because they kept me sane and calm with their cool, airy sound (like breathing fresh mountain air!) and I just played them again and again and then begged my music-savy friend for more of their stuff and he immediately understood my need and sent me all he had.

(I should add that I’m very, very much in favour of space and solitude and sitting alone on the beach or a mountainside and just being there.)

So maybe you can understand that I was looking forward to this album with an intensity that almost hurt and when I actually forgot the release date during my recent travelling, but then was sent the album by the same wonderful friend and had wiped away the tears, I did not immediately put it on, but kept it for exactly that: listening to it, just a tick too loud, on the beach, with the whole ocean right at my feet.

I’m going to leave you with this. I’d like to point out some of the lyrics, but that’s practically its own post. So maybe just a few lines that I especially love.

I was a-ready to die for you, baby
Doesn’t mean I’m ready to stay
What good is livin’ a life you’ve been given
If all you do is stand in one place

Ends of the Earth

I lie under starlit sky and the seasons change in the blink of an eye, 
I watch as the planets turn and the old stars die and the young stars burn

Lonesome Dreams

We’re all gonna die but I’ll never believe it
I love this world and I don’t wanna leave

The man who lives forever


mixed feelings

My parents are planning a backpacking trip of seven months to Asia and Australia/New Zealand. I’m planning one week of long-distance walking/hiking on the east coast of England. That’s called perspective.

Or maybe payback.

After all, they are retired, have worked all their lives, are still supporting most of their five children, have always been there for us, have always encouraged us and, damn it, they deserve it. They deserve to have a wonderful, adventure-filled, fun-filled trip of a lifetime!

And I am unemployed and can’t get up the drive or passion to put any of my dozens of scintillating, amazing, new, interesting ideas into action. So it’s only fair.

But I’m filled with envy. It’s irrational, it’s definitely beneath me and I feel ashamed about it, but it’s the truth. I wish I could go. I wish I could just pack my trusty old red backpack, throw in the essentials and go.

I did travel to Southeast Asia and Australia and New Zealand. Years ago. Straight after school. I was nineteen. I loved it, I met interesting people, I ran out of money and ate nothing but cheap pasta for weeks, I had an accident both with a kangaroo and a cow (no, I wasn’t driving!), I swam in huge waves coming straight from the Antarctic a day before Christmas and it was all great. Except that I was nineteen and morbidly afraid of doing anything touristy for the fear of being thought a tourist. Or a lemming, following the crowd.

Yes, I’m aware that’s a stupid thought. It ruled the whole seven months of my trip, however. Why am I telling you this? I just wanted to make a case for me going on a similar trip again. I’m eleven years older and wiser, I know more about the world, I’m not afraid anymore of being thought of as pushing myself in or intruding when I talk to strangers. I’m much better equipped for a trip like that than I was.

I won’t be going though. Instead my parents are researching flights, car rentals, train connections, things to see and do, are arranging people to meet on the road, friends to visit in Australia and sending off visa applications to the embassy of India (and applying for electronic visa for several other countries).

Yes, I’m envious as hell. Yes, I will definitely do a trip like that again as soon as I can.

But you know something else? I’m also IMMENSELY proud of my parents. It takes patience and guts and perseverance and healthy doses of both wanderlust and an avid interest in the world and in other people to plan and then do a trip like this and they are doing it. The planning is stressing them. A lot. But they keep on and they spend the whole day every day for a week now reading and arranging and planning and researching, right through their high stress and adrenaline levels. So I’m proud of them. And that cancels out the envy.

I’ll be off now to pack hiking boots and rain jackets for England…

P.S. Any tips for travelling in Dubai, India, Nepal, Hongkong, (maybe Singapur somewhere in there as well), Australia and New Zealand?

P.P.S. Anyone done the Peddars Way/Norfolk Coast Path in autumn before?

maps and guide books for India, Nepal and Australia

that’s how the living room floor looks like at the moment….

dead and gone?

I was just cruising through the dozens of unnecessary TV channels when I happened upon one of the better ones, showing an episode of “Later with Jools”. I assumed it was more or less contemporary, maybe a recent re-run, when suddenly he introduces the next act with “Please welcome Johnny Cash!”. My misconception went so far that I assumed it would be a look-alike, for a joke or something. Alright, not seriously, but for second, yes. And then, there he is, the Man in Black, singing “Get Rythm”. At that point, of course I knew it must be a pretty old episode. But then, after the performane, Jools also introduced June Carter Cash and they all sang “Will the circle be unbroken” together.

Apart from being nice and touching, it got me to thinking – these guys have been dead for nine years, yet there they are, on the TV, June rocking and moving, Johnny more stolid, yet clearly putting on a good show. Obviously, that’s what video recordings do, and what they have done ever since motion pictures were invented. Yet at the same time, isn’t it at least a tiny bit creepy?

In the same way, Freddy Mercury took part in the closing ceremony of the London Olympics, just a few weeks ago. He ‘stood’ on the stage, singing together with the audience and it looked just like any projection from any of the people really standing on the stage. Now, Freddy has been dead for over twenty years, yet he was still rocking the Olympic stadium! Again, isn’t that… frightening? Weird? I don’t know. I LOVED that they gave him this place, he clearly deserves that honour and of course Brian May was there to take over after the projection, in his usual wonderful style. But even though I thought it was fitting and right to give him this position, it’s still a little unsettling to see Freddy Mercury, strutting the stage, doing his stuff, right here in 2012.

Isn’t it?

updating the blog, part 3 (or: oh, what will the future bring?)

I told you in the last two posts (part one and part two of today’s effort to update the blog) that I need you to answer a question. Actually, I need your help with a decision.

I started this blog as a writing blog, to have a place where I can put my word pictures and moan about not being able to finish any writing project. And that’s pretty much what we have here. Alright, sometimes I slip in something totally personal, like telling you of my dog’s lumbago or of how wonderful it is to meet friends. But all-in-all, this is mainly a writing-related blog.

However, I’m also very much into music, and a while ago, when I was still living in London, instead of in the middle of nowhere, as I do now, and was therefore in the position to experience a lot of live music, I started a music blog. It’s called Cresting the Sounds. Go and have a look if you want, but unfortunately, it’s not very lively. Not at all, actually.

That’s not because I don’t have anything to say about music – on the contrary, I have so much to say that I can talk about it the whole evening, no matter if the people I’m with are interested or not. I have no mercy in that respect. The problem is more… I don’t know. I feel I’m neglecting one when I look after the other. Does that make sense?

Well, I also like other things. Like photography. Like travelling. So, being the (sometimes) methodical person I am, I immeditely (read: one day when I was bored) rushed to install two more blogs, Cresting the Light and Cresting the Waves. Yep, I’m crazy, I know. And yes, the photography one only has two pictures and the other one is empty. I’m telling you, this was just an idea.

Maybe you can already tell where this is leading, but if you can’t, I’ll be more explicit. I have three options and I’d like your advice on what to do:

Option A: Continue with what I’m doing here and just forget about the others.

Option B: Try and build the others up (slowly, one by one) and try and juggle multiple blogs and hope they don’t interfere with one another.

Option C: Combine. Integrate travelling, phtography and music here.

So, what’s your opinion? Are blogs better when they are topical? Or does it add to them when they are about a multitude of topics? And what should I do?

updating the blog, part 2 (or: blogs! more blogs! and still more blogs!)

I haven’t changed anything on my blogroll (see right side column, a bit further down) for months. Or maybe, for ever. I’m not sure. Anyway, it does not reflect the number of blogs I read. So, I’m updating it and so that you have some kind of gain from it (hopefully), I’m introducing them here in this post, on my day of updating my blog.

Part one of this day’s work dealt with two awards I received and features me, gushing about some of my favourite books, and some fabulous book-related blogs which you should totally go and check out. Part two is this one, where I introduce you to some cool blogs. Part three will ask you a question on which I need your advice.

And now, for the blogs! This is a list – completely non-hierarchical – of blogs that are awesome and well worth your time. Oh, and I should add that I’m only including blogs that are somewhat topical, all centering around writing and reading.

brainsnorts – a writer, sometimes funny, sometimes critical, always direct, always interesting

Coco J. Ginger says – the most amazing writing

I kissed my date goodnight – very interesting to read (even though I live a very, very different life)

wonderings & wanderings – one of my most-favourite blogs, beautiful writing, wonderful photos (and great title!)

For love or funny – a funny (obviously!) blog about being a romance writer, a dog owner and the mother of two teenage daughters

Almota Roses – I love, love, love the photos of this talented photographer!

coastal traveler – a travel and photography blog with wonderful pictures

photosteam – a beautiful photography blog with lots of photos from London (yeay!) and other places

retireediary – a travel blog with interesting, insightful posts and wonderful photos

Confessions of a Pioneer Woman – this is a classic, of course, but I just adore her blog

70 Degrees West – a travel blog with a twist, and stunning photos

Fevered mutterings – the blog of a professional traveler and writer and storyteller (check out his free e-book on storytelling, it’s funny and interesting and just cool)

Upgrading your life with less – interesting thoughts on de-cluttering your life

A literal girl – a wonderful blog with (often quite philosophical) writing on ideas like home, place and spaces

Alexandra Sokoloff – the professional blog of screenwriter and writer Alexandra Sokoloff, from whom I’ve learned so, so much and whose posts I LOVE reading and if you’re a writer, you should very definitely check this out

Always lost in stories – full of really interesting book reviews, most of them from the fantasy and YA fantasy area

Boomie Bol – a poet who is not afraid of baring her soul in her work

Emily’s Tea Leaves – a writer’s blog (who I nominated for two blog awards in part one of today’s posts)

Fabulous Realms – very informative posts on all things fantasy

Five Reflections – haikus – lots and lots of haikus, each a little polished gem

Gin & Lemonade – one of the earliest blogs I followed, almost always makes me laugh

Jane Austen’s World – a wonderful resource for all things Jane Austen and Regency – recommended for all Austen fans

Web Petals – the blog of writer Marjorie M. Liu

Nicolette Reed – a blog on writing, editing, publishing… everything about books

Novel ideas – another blog by a fellow writer, this one a courageous teenager

Obsessions of a Workaholic – on the struggles of being a writer and a grad student and working two jobs

Paperback Writer – a wonderful blog on writing from an experienced writer, one of my favourite blogs

Patricia Awapara – writer, painter, photographer… this woman is mulit-talented and also a on the road of self-publication and the one who kindly awarded me the One Lovely Blog award

Peggy Isaacs – funny and interesting blog with cool links and even cooler photos (and I nominated her for two blog awards here)

Pretentious Title – blog of writer Rachel Aaron, who has very interesting things to say on the writing life

Rachelle Gardner – this literary agent shares her insights into the literary world and has interesting guest bloggers

read wear write – a blog on reading, fashion and writing (duh!) by fellow NaNo camper Kate – she was also the wonderful person who awarded The Booker Award to me

Science and Story – always interesting blog on, as the name suggests, science and stories (aka books) and I nominated the woman behind it for two blog awards

sharing me myself and i – a poet with short, descriptive and to-the-point poems

storytelling nomad – a writing and travel blog with neat post ideas, always worth reading

succumbing – a poetry blog, which I nominated for two blog awards earlier today

The Author-in-training – I think the name says it all, doesn’t it? I also nominated this blog for the blog awards today

Maggie Stiefvater – blog of the author Maggie Stiefvater

Where landsquid fear to tread – rather quirky blog about landsquid, alpaca and ceiling turtles – oh, and about writing and editing

Word flows – chronicling the steps and successes of a very fast and efficient writer (yes, I’m envious!)

Writer in progress – another interesting blog of a writer and avid reader, featuring book reviews

Writing through the fog – wonderful blog with posts on home, spaces (digital and real) and writing, also beautiful photos

Zen Scribbles – another favourite blog on writing, chocolate and other things to do with being a writer – I also nominated Zen for the two blog awards, but I messed up a little because she’d already received both of them

That’s it for now, folks!

There’s more that I have bookmarked, but I’m not at a point where I can recommend any of those yet.

Oh, and part three is coming up in half an hour or so, and it will be short, I promise. But remember, I need you to answer a question in part three!

updating the blog, part 1 (or: the honour of receiving and the joy of passing on awards)

Alright. Today is the day. The day I have been putting off for weeks: the day when I work through a whole list of things to do on and for and about this blog.

But because there’s so much all at once, I’ll split it up into three parts. Part one is all about awards. Part two is introducing and reviewing and adding a number of wonderful blog links. Part three will ask a serious and important question to which I need your answers.

So, first things first:

the awards

Kate at read wear write kindly passed The Booker Award on to me – back in June, but I don’t believe there’s a best-by date on awards, is there? Kate has interesting book reviews on her blog, funny photos of Al, her traveling alpaca (yep, I knew that’d interest you – here you have the direct link!) and she’s a fellow writer and always has interesting links to share! Go and have a wander around her blog!

There are some rules to this one:

This award is for book bloggers only. To receive this award the blog must be at least 50% about books, which includes reading or writing. Along with receiving this award, you must also share your top five favorite books you have ever read. Listing more than five books is still within the rules. You must give this award to 5-10 other lucky book blogs you adore.

And then there’s the One Lovely Blog Award, to which I have been nominated twice by Patricia, from Patricia Awapara. Patricia is a writer who plunged fearlessly into the adventure of self-publication and writes in English, even though it’s not her first language (like me! do we get extra-glittery bonus points for that?) and she’s also a really great artist – go have a look at her paintings – I love the colours!

And also some rules for this one:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Nominate 15 bloggers you admire
4. Leave a comment on each of these blogs letting them know they’ve been nominated.

the conditions (or, books I LOVE)

So how to do this… I’m going to combine, alright? Here are seven books I love and why I love them (which is also saying something about myself, so that’s within the rules, right? Not that I care too much… 🙂 )

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I love Austen’s characterizations. The people in this book are alive every time I open it again (and I’ve read it upwards of a hundred times). I feel the embarrassment that Mrs. Bennet inflicts on her daughters, I get outraged at Wickham’s duplicty, I get all tingly from the tension between Darcy and Elizabeth… *sigh* I guess it’s something that Helen Fielding let her character Bridget Jones say about those two: in the same way that men choose football teams as representatives and feel the team’s successes and failures as their own personal successes and failures, so she, Bridget Jones, chose Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet as her own representatives of love, celebrating and enjoying their relationship as her own success.

I’m not particularly romantic, but I love it for the same reason.

2. all the Tortall books by Tamora Pierce

I’m talking the Song of the Lionness quartet, the Immortals quartet, the Protector of the Small quartet, the two books around Aly Cooper, the trilogy of Beka Cooper… all these books, I love with a fierce and reckless abandon. I’ve read each one … oh, I don’t know how many times, but it’s most definitely upwards of twenty, for each. I want to be all of her girl heroes at once, I want to live in Tortall, I want to travel around its world and I want to meet all of the people who inhabit this world. I think every girl should read these books. And all boys, too. Actually, everyone should. For me, Tortall feels like another country somewhere in the world, it’s that real. Much more real than some countries I don’t know much about. I become completely submerged in this world and in the people every time. No matter how often I’ve read them, once I open any one of them, I can’t stop reading till the end.

I love these books for how real the people feel to me.

3. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

One of the books that made me cry. Also one of the books that opened my eyes to my own ignorance. Also the book that made me fall in love with Hemingway’s writing. There is so much in there, and it’s so human. The human condition, I guess. It tells of gut-wrenching fear, of superhuman bravery, of deep and passionate love, of selfless compassion and of the cruelest kind of greed for power and revenge, and all the time without once using any of these words. He’s so serious, yet so unobtrusive about it all, so deep and important without once being obvious, instructive or philosophical. It’s most of all a story, an exciting story of a the struggles of a group of guerrilla fighters to sabotage a bridge and also a love story. Yet at the same time, between the lines, it tells of everything – the best and the worst that humanity is capable of.

I love this book for how it gets under your skin and stays there and never lets you go again and makes you feel as if you’ve held the world in your hands while you read it and when it’s done, how you have become a better, more compassionate, more empathetic person. And all of it just through the style of writing.

4. Bluebells on the Hill by Barbara McMahon

This is a romance. I used to read lots of romance, I don’t so much any more. This book, however, I love very much, mostly for the vivid and wonderful description of the area it’s set in, namely California’s Sierra Nevada. I read the book before ever being there and loved it and once I’d been there (years ago now, but still fresh in my memory), I loved it even more, because every time I read it, I can just see the tall pines, smell the tree-sap-saturated heat, listen to the creaks and groans of the wood expanding in the heat… It’s a daydream come alive. I also like the heroine, because I can relate to her on quite some levels – her love of solitude, her independence, her adventurous side.

I love this book because it brings to life a beautiful landscape and because it provides me, again and again, with wonderful daydreaming material.

5. The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas

One of a series of novels chronicling the cases of Commissaire Adamsberg, a highly unusual policeman living and working in Paris (I don’t know the corresponding title in English – chief inspector?). I like all of the series, but this one was the first I read and I have a special soft spot for it because it has a very romantic vein running through it. I just like the way these books are written – they read much more like literary novels than like crime, even though they are plainly crime stories. This one is especially creepy, with blue chalk circles appearing all over Paris, painted around seemingly unimportant objects to be found on any city pavement, and Adamsberg is the only one who can feel the cruelty and the threat of violence running through them, of course he turns out to be right. He also makes friends with a formidable and beautiful lady who has an exotic job, a strange hobby and the weirdest tenants possible. It just feels so real, so gritty and yet so magical. It’s a book I can read again and again, without becoming tired of it.

I love this book for the dreamy, beautiful way it is written and for the loving and sharp attention to details that makes it feel so alive.

6. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

This is one of the most intense books I have ever read. Apart from the first chapter, which is a kind of introduction, the whole story takes place in one day and it takes the reader on a wild, painful, joyful, beautiful and horrible ride through the life of one man. Like Hemingway, Lowry is unobtrusive in descriptions of emotions or states of mind, but he manages, in a masterly and utterly breathtaking fashion, to put the interior into the exterior, meaning: everything going on inside is reflected in the landscape, both natural and man-made. Two volcanoes, of whom legend says they are lovers, tower over the whole area and the whole story, and plants can be as fleshy, glistening, threatening and dark as any man’s soul and the ravine running throughout the town takes on a significance and almost a life of its own. This books is disturbing and grandiose and  and sweeping and detailed and it contains the most intense, the most heart-breaking, the most touching love letter I have ever read.

I love this book for its combination of the most gentle and passionate love and the most depressing, disheartening, desperate failure and loss and the way both are written into the very fabric of the setting.

7. The Unseen by Katherine Webb, The End of Everything by Megan Abbott, Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice

These three are books I’ve read in the past months and that have impressed me and touched me so much that despite having only read them once, I still think about them a lot and can still get caught up in their stories. The Unseen is a heartbreaking story of a girl’s desire to be free and independent, set at a time when women were anything but, and despite the desperate end being inevitable from the start, there are still surprises left. The End of Everything touched me quite a lot, and I wrote about it on here, how this book was eating me alive, and I haven’t changed my mind since. Orange Mint and Honey is a story that taught me quite a bit about music, even though I know quite a bit about music already anyway, and it also impressed me with the very unobvious way the story and the characters developed.

I loved all three of these books for themselves and for how they taught me about things I didn’t know before and for how they enriched my life.

And finally… the nominations!

Because a lot of the (personal) blogs I read are reading- or writing-related anyways, I’ll combine both awards, because these blogs are all about books and they are lovely. The nominees may choose to accept one or both or none. Fair deal?

So, in no particular order, I give you:   *cue drumroll*

1. Emily from Emily’s Tea Leaves – I’m not sure if she has received either of them yet, because she’s not telling! 🙂 Emily writes about writing, has a romantic novel in the works, and has interesting author interviews and book reviews on her blog.

2. tsena from succumbing – She writes poetry. Poetry that keeps me going back to her blog. Poetry full of wonderful and direct images. And she has a great feeling for language.

3. Peggy from Peggy Isaacs – She makes me laugh. I envy her talent to capture really great pictures of really cool stuff like dragonflies and lizards. She’s a writer.

4. Zen from Zen Scribbles – I’ve lost track of which awards she has or hasn’t got yet, so I’m just putting her on this list and crossing my fingers that the one or the other might be new to her. She is a published author of a book I’m just about to start reading, she loves chocolate, and she writes about writing, reading, books and anything to do with literature or chocolate in the most engaging way (I almost always feel compelled to comment – I challenge you to read her posts and not want to comment!).

5. Arlene from Science and Story –  Her blog is full of clever, insightful posts that I always enjoy reading. She’s a writer by profession and she has an extra side-blog, Wednesdy Book Review, just for book reviews – how devoted to reading is that?

6. Mieke at The Author-in-Training – I like her blog mainly for being inspirational and upbeat. The Sunday Inspiration photos are always worth a watch and a thought (or two or three) and the ‘note to self’ posts are special as well.

A big thank you to all these women – you make my days more colourful!

the light of autumn

What is the difference between the light of summer and that of autumn?

There is a difference, I can see it. Where summer is bold, autumn is hazy. Where summer glares, autumn mellows. And where the light of summer picks out silhouettes in blinding brightness, boldly slashing pictures in light and dark, autumn’s light drips gentle gold, letting it sink into the colours and bringing forth the details between the contours.

Maybe the difference is  that of extremes crumbled, of experience gained, of subtlety discovered.


I edited all my words away

Dear Internet,

I have been “editing” the first draft of my novel for the last two weeks. Basically, that means re-writing it. I apologize for my long absence, but at the moment I feel empty of words. They have all gone into my work-in-progress. And at the moment, I hate every single one.

Yep, that’s right – I hate every single word of it.

My writing sucks, my characters suck, the story sucks. My writing is painful, wooden and filled with clichés. The characters are flat, lifeless, boring, exchangeable. And my story… what story? Why was I deluded enough to think I could write a novel? I’m wasting my time, I’m wasting everybody’s time and I should just give up.



Alright, now that bitterly-needed rant is out of the way, I guess I should start picking myself up again. Let’s start at the beginning:

According to this excellent and very funny article on Fevered Mutterings, it appears that at the moment I’m “officially the least reliable critic of [my] work in the entire world”. Oh. Okay. Alright.

And didn’t I read somewhere… oh, well, actually, just about EVERYwhere, that a first draft is just that: a first draft and it needs to be re-written and edited, re-written and edited, re-written and edited, … [repeat another ten to fifteen times]? Hm. Well, yes, I guess I did, but … But did that mean me?!? It did? Ah, okay. Well, that would explain some things.

On top of that, didn’t I read this pep talk by Lemony Snicket on why it’s best to give up writing straight away? I guess I did. And when I did, I wanted to sit down and write a ten-part epic novel right away, but sort of didn’t get around to it. So the conclusion? Read it every day to hang on to that power and inspiration.

It might even get me through this re-writing chore.

Reading is dangerous

Beware of reading novels.

You get eaten alive. Your thoughts are not your own. Your dreams are being taken over. Your waking moments are haunted by others’ thoughts. Your language changes. Your outlook changes. Your perception of the world changes. Your priorities most definitely change. (I’ll just finish this one chapter, and then, then I can finally sleep, like I wanted to at the beginning of each of the last five chapters.) You are out of your own control.

And not always, upon finishing a book, are you richer for the experience. Often, a bit of yourself stays in that story. It calls you back and makes you remember long-forgotten passages or characters or pictures from a book you read many years ago and have not thought of since and that you cannot recall and that passage will haunt you for days and weeks like a ghost at the back of your mind and not let go and everything you see will remind you of what you loved and then lost and then forgot and then remembered and lost again – that world that you lived in for a few days and cannot go back to, and you will feel poorer for it.


In our latitude, the four seasons supposedly all take roughly the same time, about three months, give or take a few weeks. Then why is it that summer always seems so very much shorter than any of the other three?

I long for summer every time and then I blink and it’s June, I blink again and July’s gone and suddenly it’s August and the air smells of harvested wheat and apples falling from the trees and there’s this familiar, tangy, not-quite-summery scent in the air.

Even though the sun is still hot and bright, the light has become just a hint more mellow – not as fierce as it was just two weeks ago. Even though everything is still green and there are summer flowers everywhere, the green is just a hint tired, and the golden browns are starting to slowly, slowly take over from the greens. And even though my daydreams are filled with summer pictures, the memories of picking up wild apples on Sunday walks, flying kites on stubbly fields and eating my grandma’s plum cake with plums picked off the tree the same day, are starting to infiltrate my summer dream.

Can it be that autumn is really that close already? Where did my glorious, the-smell-of-rain-on-a-dusty-road, eating-lemon-ice-cream-in-the-park, jumping-through-the-spray-of-the-garden-sprinkler, napping-through-a-heatwave, sitting-around-the-fire-until-midnight summer go?!?

oat field in August

fields and hillside in August

crows sitting in apple trees

straw bales on an August field

variations on a theme

“I’ve had enough,” she said as she glared down at the bowed heads of the two culprits.


“I have enough,” the old woman said, looking around her small hut with pride, turning back to the questioner with a smile.


“Never settle for enough”, she told her friend, hoping her advice would get through to her.


“It’s enough,” she answered, glad now that she’d decided to save some.


“There’s enough for everyone!” she called out, waving her neighbours’ children over as well.


the first day of August

After scorching temperatures and then a spell of spring-like weather, the first of August was beautiful. Twenty-five degrees or a little above, sunny with a few fluffy clouds to make the sky look pretty, and after everyone being very industrious all the morning, the family sort of informally congregated on the terrace in the afternoon, lying about in bikinis or rolled up T-shirts and reading books. It was very relaxed.

In the evening, we had a little BBQ, just the family (all of us except my brother, which is still six people, five of which are women… poor Dad!) and some steaks and sausages and three bottles of dry red wine. We ended up exchanging family histories. ‘Do you remember when…?’ Most of the time, I don’t remember, which leads me to conclude that I have a very bad memory. Or maybe to put it more positively: a not very organized and highly individual memory, because I remember a lot of things, I just can’t place them in any context that makes sense.

There’s the memory of me and my brother and my middle sister sitting in a dark green tent with our Dad while outside there’s a huge summer thunderstorm and we’re not allowed to touch any of the canvas because the water’ll seep in otherwise. Which apparently happened on a totally different vacation than the one I thought it happened on. Then there’s the bike tour that I remember was during an incredible heat spell and I remember my middle sister refusing to go on because she was so tired and it was so hot, and I remember that we all tried to divert her mind because there was no choice – we had to make it to the next hostel on our bikes and that hostel was another twenty or thirty kilometers away. She can’t remember that, however.

Then there’s the things I’ve forgotten: how I diverted my two youngest sisters’ minds from the exertions of biking uphill in the pine-forest midday heat by telling them a story. How I told my youngest sister a story to make her go on after she’d inadvertently sat down in a bunch of nettles by telling her another story. She says that every time I didn’t know how to go on, I’d say that I’d continue at the next crossroad. And my middle sister reminded me that I told her a story once that she liked so much that we tried to record it on cassette, but after a lot of experimenting with water, we gave up because we couldn’t get the sound effects rights. (It involved a kind of monster that was made entirely of water, in case you’re wondering.)

So apart from spending a really nice evening talking and telling stories of our shared past, and sitting outside – next to the fire – until almost midnight, which is one of my favourite things about summer, and admiring a beautiful full moon, I also realized that maybe I started this whole thing with inventing people, inventing worlds, inventing stories that happened in these worlds, … so much earlier than I thought. That’s a nice thought. Although I didn’t write them down, it appears that my younger siblings have fond memories of me telling them stories and that these stories were good enough to keep them amused even when they were bored, exhausted or ill. I find that a very encouraging thought.

So have you had a good start into August? And when was the last time you sat around swapping memories with your family?

Olympics! Yeay!

I’ve been storing up so many great things to write about: graduation, my friends, the beautiful fun of a summer day spent hanging out on the market, eating world food, drinking beer by the canal and chilling out at a Blues bar with a jam session – you know, the usual fun London stuff – but I’ve been distracted. By the Olympics. YEAY for the opening ceremony!

I get that some people didn’t like it. I can kind of see how they mightn’t. Some things about it were quite controversial and I guess that if you have no knowledge about British history, their society and their culture, it would have been quite hard to follow some of the ideas and jokes. But I really, really liked it.

Starting from Kenneth Branagh, who’s certainly not the only Shakespeare actor in the world, but who I just adore (Much Ado about Nothing… *sigh*). I loved the historical development bit, with the beautiful costumes and the amazing choreography and I really loved the kids’ choir, singing a song from each part of the kingdom, and the kids’ episode with the NHS staff – everything about that was great: the huge Voldemort, and the monsters and the inclusion of Peter Pan and the “two minutes before you fall asleep” and then Mary Poppins driving off the monsters! Gosh, I love Mary Poppins…

The pop music… I guess that’s where the controversy sets in. I think the ‘story’ – the girl and guy meeting and texting each other and so on – was told way too fast and wasn’t easy to follow, but the dresses, the dancing, the music clips… We kept singing along and later doing (lazy) dance moves on the couch and I understand that some choices where not exactly appropriate from an intercultural understanding point of view and it was addressed to a very young audience, but I thought it brought across some things that the UK really wants to portray and to achieve: a colourful, multicultural, free, young, individulistic society with strong roots in history, a pragmatic, industrial foundation and trimmings of the typically British, quirky humour.

I mean, I really can’t imagine Germany having the Berlin Symphony Orchestra playing at an opening ceremony that is watched around the globe, and have that seriousness, that importance, that grave beauty played upon and lifted into comedy by someone like Mr. Bean! Or Bond, James Bond, escorting the Queen to the Games! It’s funny, it’s unexpected, it’s unconventional and all the things I like best about English literature and culture.

Okay, enough raving. I guess you can tell that I’m not exactly impartial, but rather started out with a prepossion towards the UK and especially London anyway. Still, I liked it. I also liked that young athletes, and a whole group of them, got to light the Olympic Torch. Again, young, unexpected… what’s not to like?

The first day is going alright-ish from a German perspective (yeah, like you’re not looking out for your own country, too!), and I enjoy watching the faces of the winners – struggling between laughter and tears, triumph in their whole body language. And I hope those athletes that are already out of the competition by now will stay around and enjoy what this city has to offer them, especially during the coming weeks – they earned this right, the right to be celebrated ‘just’ for taking part.


P.S. I wrote the above out of a spurt of enthusiasm, but after finishing it, I googled the deaf children’s choir and came across this interesting piece by the Guardian, which openly acknowledges that the ceremony was sometimes baffling and bewildering to the British audience as well, and now that I’ve read it, I realize that I only scraped the surface with all the layered meaning and all the hidden messages as well. Read the article. The following excerpt is from it:

The NHS, gay kisses; the Sex Pistols, Ken Loach; the Windrush, the Suffragette movement. As Danny Boyle’s extraordinarily bonkers Olympic opening ceremony progressed, you could feel left-of-centre Britain gradually giving into its curious and often unintentionally hilarious charms, while Tory Britain little by little grew more enraged. It was bewildering enough, at times, to its domestic audience; abroad it must frequently have been plain incomprehensible. But we, in Britain, knew what it added up to, despite its baffling moments: it was Boyle’s impassioned poem of praise to the country he would most like to believe in. One that is tolerant, multicultural, fair and gay friendly and holds the principles of the welfare state stoutly at its heart. One that is simultaneously silly and earnest, mainstream and subversive, “high” and “low” in its culture.

Charlotte Higgins, ‘What Danny Boyle’s Olympics opening ceremony said about Britain’s cultural landscape‘, Guardian Culture blog

on a summer night

evening star

shimmering into sight

from the dusty mauve

from the grey-blue emptiness

from the velvet vastness

through the lingering heat and the songs of the crickets


single spark in the fading daylight

guiding my thoughts towards my dreams


just words

They are just words.

The pen is mightier than the sword.

… empty words…

Words of Power

What are words? I like to think that they are clothes for ideas. And like clothes, they have their own fabric, colour, texture, weight, feel, … I love words for themselves. I love how just one word can conjure up a whole scenario – like ‘meadow’ makes me think of summer and fresh hay and sunshine and nature. And how a word can sound exactly like what it means: swamp. hiss. melodious. whine. cantankerous. I love how words can sound together, skipping and flowing, like they do in Dylan Thomas’ masterful handling: “It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and-rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboatbobbing sea.” And I love how words carry meaning and purpose and enable communication.

And it physically hurts me to read or have to write words that have been mangled and formalized and veiled and blurred and twisted and teased and stripped out of all cohesion, out of all meaning, out of all sincerity, out of all colour and beauty – to leave the reader with a dumbfound expression, trying to figure out what-the-hell that means.

a question of confidence

*hint: if you follow this blog, be sure to check out the P.S. at the bottom, even if you don’t read anything else!*

Usually when I write a post here, I just sort of ramble along. I’ll have an idea of what I want to say – roughly – and then it develops while I write and very often ends up something totally different from what I thought it would be, but hey! that’s a good thing! I don’t do much editing and polishing on my posts, except for spelling mistakes and sometimes I’ll exchange a word when I notice that I overuse it. Once written, I hit ‘publish’ and voilà. Why, then, does it take me FOREVER to write a post on my music blog, Cresting the Sounds?

Case in point: the post on Dylan that I just published took me over three weeks to write. I knew what I wanted to do (= a review of his first album), I started listening to the music a lot and made notes on it all the while – and then it still took me almost a month to write it. Part of that, I guess, is that I feel so much more under pressure to write the ‘correct’ thing. I don’t know by heart who wrote which song, so I had to do research (only a little, but still). Also, and more importantly, there are thousands of Dylan fans out there and probably every one believes themselves an expert on his work. So how to write something that was honest, and yet did not turn out totally embarrassing, because, for example, I expressed my admiration for a song that everybody else, all the ‘experts’ thought horrible and immature?

Tough. I had to remind myself all the time that I was really only expressing my own, personal, private opinion – that I wasn’t writing a book based on facts – that all I had to do was be honest and say what I think about each song – that there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in tastes, especially in music taste. If someone else disagrees – well, too bad. It happens. So what.


It’s not that easy. It’s a question of confidence. I’m quite confident on my opinion, but not so very much on my ability to adequately express it. And although I said  that here, where I’m surfing words instead of music, I write without notes and without drafting and without overly polishing, I don’t write so very often, because here the hurdle is: do I have something to say? And often my answer is: not really. And even more often: yeah, maybe, but who’d want to read it anyway?

Recently I’ve gained a lot of followers. A lot for me. I haven’t addressed this at all, so far. I see other blogs, where the authors thank their readers and express gratitude. I can’t bring myself to do that, because I’m so much more astonished than anything else. Even scared sometimes (‘The responsiblity!’ *wild-clutching-of-head). Even paranoid (‘Did they really mean me? Why? Why would they choose to follow me? I guess they must have some ulterior motive…’). I keep thinking it must be a fluke, or that people are just clicking the ‘follow’ button in an attempt to get a follow back. Or maybe it’s all just a huge conspiracy to make me believe I can actually write and then – suddenly- they’ll pull the rug from under my feet! It can’t really be about what I say. Not because I think that what I say is so very horrible – but rather for the sheer number of mind-blowing, astonishing, beautiful, amazing blogs out there.

I read so many, and I know you’re not supposed to compare (yeah, right), but … well, so many blogs are just so much better! I keep thinking: ‘I’d kill to be able to write like that!’ or ‘I will never be as good!’ or even ‘I might just as well pack it in right now.’ And it’s HARD to overcome that. Sometimes I even have to get angry at myself and tell myself to stop the self-pity-party and the envy and concentrate on my own thing: no, I don’t have anything to say that nobody else hasn’t said a thousand times before. No, I don’t have a style like Hemingway, I can’t characterize like Jane Austen and I don’t have the humour of Dickens or Wilde and no, my poems aren’t fit to swallow the dust of Leonard Cohen’s and no, I’m not an expert on Dylan, neither his biography, nor his discography.

But I have my own view on things, I have my own voice and nobody perceives the world exactly the same as I do, so maybe… yeah, maybe it’s alright. Maybe I’m not just shouting into an empty wood. Maybe there are people in there listening. And it might just maybe be possible that they like what I have to say – not because it’s so very special, so very beautiful, so very perfect, but maybe because it’s unique?


P.S. And by the way – I AM totally perplexed and grateful and humbled by all of you who have liked one of my posts, commented on something I wrote or are following my blog – I never expected this. Thanks for making me happy. And thanks for making me freak out. After all, if it didn’t mean anything, I wouldn’t obsess about it so much!


(Disclaimer: This is not meant as emotional blackmail to make you say that ‘of course’ you like my blog – although if you really want to say that, I’m not stopping you! 😉 I’m not asking for reassurance, I’m really only bringing to paper the frequent dialogue / struggle that goes on in my head!)

Re-listening Dylan: Bob Dylan (1962)

Bob Dylan is playing a concert in my small, rural home town this summer. Because I cannot afford a ticket and that fact is breaking my heart, I have decided to create my own Dylan-centered activity – I will pay homage to the master by re-listening to all his albums. Chronologically.

It’s March 1962. I won’t be born for another twenty years. And one month. The young musician depicted above has his first album published. He’d got a break some six months before, thanks to Columbia’s talent scout John Hammond. He was signed to the label and recorded the songs for his first album in two days – after weeks of listening to mountains of folk songs. And now it hits the record stores.

This album is not one that gets a lot of spin time from me (ehm… rather less than that, even),  so even though I know the songs, listening to them now, with the intention of writing about them, is almost like a fresh experience. The one thing that hits me straight away and stays with me throughout the thirteen tracks is that of youthful irreverence. This is a guy who doesn’t care about how the traditional songs he sings are ‘supposed’ to be sung.

Let’s have a look at those songs:

1. You’re no good

The first song hits straight out with that irreverence I was mentioning. ‘You give me the blues’, he sings, but really he doesn’t care one way or the other. He’s almost laughing about it all and singing and playing at a pace that has nothing to do with the blues.

2. Talkin’ New York 

‘Talking’ is perfectly right. No way is this singing. Instead,  he tells the story in a sing-song voice, accompanied by fast guitar and short bursts of the harmonica.  This is one of only two original songs on this album and it’s such a perfectly typical Dylan song – the delivery, the wry humour, the art of the throw-away remark and the story told with a straight face, so that you’re never sure whether to believe a single word or not.

3. In my time of dyin’

This is a lament. And that’s how it’s sung as well. Compared to the other songs, it’s slow and quiet. I find it hard to remember that the guy singing this is a boy, barely twenty years old. The voice shows depth and experience as its wails in an intensity that is very honest and personal.

4. Man of Constant Sorrow

I connect this song first and foremost with ‘O Brother where art thou’, the movie by the Coen brothers and since I love that movie, their version is the one I have in my head. Dylan’s is very, very different. This is closer to sorrow than the movie version, but even then, it’s not real sorrow. It sounds more like weariness. Or even boredom? No, not really. Just a dusty, weary ‘whatever’.

5. Fixin’ to die

Here I hear real emotion, not so much the mocking that is part of most of the other songs. Again, the voice, the message, the delivery are all deeply incongruous with the photo on the album cover of a smooth-faced, unscarred, slightly arrogant young boy.

6. Pretty Peggy-O 

Talking of mocking… Poor pretty Peggy-O gets a good dose of that right in the beginning when  he opens the song with ‘Been around this whole country, but I never yet found Fennario!’ And he continues in the same spirit – just listen to how he pronounces ‘dove’ when he sings that she’s as pretty as one. If you ever needed a lesson in what irony sounds like, listen to this. Oh, and I can’t help comparing it to the lovely version of Simon & Garfunkel, which couldn’t be more different in any way. (And if you make me decide, I will choose that version over Dylan’s!)

7. Highway 51 Blues

His voice changes throughout the song, from a pressured belting, to a wailing cry, to a dipping, quiet, almost talking style. There’s real emotion here – if he can’t have this, he doesn’t care for the rest either and I believe what he’s saying.

8. Gospel Plow

As with most of the traditional songs on this album, Gospel Plow is fast and has very little to do with gospel. It’s strongly delivered, but with a distinct disrespectfulness – as if he’s secretly laughing about anyone who follows the advice that the song gives.

9. Baby, let me follow you down

Quieter. He doesn’t belt or press out the lyrics, nor howl them. Instead,  there’s more ‘conventional’ singing, although even here, there are a few unexpected skips or dips of the voice. It’s not mocking, and it’s not bored, but there is also no noticeable passion for ‘baby’. I still really like it.

10. House of the rising sun

This must be one of the most-sung, most-covered songs. I don’t know any statistics on this, but I think every singer or band who is even only remotely connected to folk music, has recorded this song at some point. Here, Dylan sings it in a (comparatively) slow, serious, grieving, drawn-out voice. The inevitability of the end is audible from the beginning.

11. Freight Train Blues

Despite the title, there is no trace of any blues feeling in this song. It’s a fast, joyful celebration of wanderlust, sung with a whistle-blowing, train-break-screaming, rail-screeching voice.

12. Song to Woody

This is the second song on this album that is a Dylan original (… at least the lyrics… the melody comes from the same person that the song is dedicated to). As with Talkin’ New York, it is so very typical. The rhythm, the way he sings, the way he draws out the words, and the homage to the masters that went before him – it’s real, and honest and very touching, even if it might come off as arrogance on his side to string his name into the line of the great musicians he mentions – I choose to hear it as the confidence of youth and the promise to carry on the heritage.

13. See that my grave is kept clean

Very strong delivery. It starts slow but picks up a little speed. Despite the fact that his voice is strong and distinctly not close to death, it doesn’t sound ridiculous when he sings about his heart stopping to beat and his hands turning cold.

All together…

… it’s a fun little record that already shows the great potential of the singer. Despite the rather random collection of songs, the fast, almost hasty, way in which it was recorded (later John Hammond said that Dylan was the most undisciplined artist he’d ever had to work with) and the fact that only two of the songs are his own, the album as a whole has personality and foreshadows the future.

My favourite song? Well, I love the arrogant, mocking, individual way he deals with the traditional songs, and I like the melody of Baby, let me follow you down, but the two Dylan songs are my favourites – Talkin’ New York because of the talking style and the dry humour, Song to Woody because I find it so very touching.

my daily dose of poetry & introducing a mini-series, as yet without title

Part of my morning routine is to open my feedreader and ignore all the multitude of updated feeds and go straight for one special one. Then I’ll lean back, sip my tea or coffee and read. That one feed is the feed linking the ‘Poem of the Day’ of the Poetry Foundation, that delivers a new and fresh poem to me every day.

It’s a revelation every day. Some days, I might not connect with the poem. Other days, I just don’t like it. Most days, however, it’ll give me something. A smile. An insight. A thought. A feeling. On the best days, a surprised gasp, a disbelieving re-reading with a growing warmth rising up from my stomach to my chest to my head, where it will pop like bubbles into untamed joy and wonder. Those days are special.

I’ll save that poem and probably write about it or talk about it or share it with friends. Those that are into oetry and those that aren’t. I don’t pay any attention to that – the latter category will just have to give it a try. That poem will colour my day, set the tone for it, provide atmosphere. I save them, and when I read them again, I can recall that first joy, like remembering that first butterfly in your stomach when you realize you are falling in love with the person you’re looking at.

Because they are special (to me), I want to share some of these poems. Or rather, since they aren’t mine to share, I want to share my feelings about them and maybe give others the chance to feel something similar. Or something different. Each according to their tastes. So I’ve decided to start a mini-series. I’m not a fan of weekly schedules and I don’t want it to feel forced, to me or to others, so I’m not going to write a weekly installment, but rather whenever it feels right to do so. I’m still thinking of a clever title for that venture and so far I haven’t got it. (Titles are my great stumbling blocks, I hate having to think them up. I’m open for suggestions.)

The first one I want to share is one that has come back to me the last couple of days. I first read it some months ago, three, four, something like that. I’ve thought of it in the meantime, but for two or three days it’s been very present in my mind. It’s set in spring and written from a guy’s perspective. I don’t know why it speaks to me so much right now, in the middle of summer. I’m guessing that it might be something to do with my itching feet and the fact that I want to travel and see new places, meet new people, have fresh winds blowing in my face. Or maybe it’s just he fact that it’s a great poem. Judge for yourselves. Here goes:

 ……..A Color of the Sky by Tony Hoagland    via The Poetry Foundation

 …….. Windy today and I feel less than brilliant,
 …….. driving over the hills from work.
 …….. There are the dark parts on the road
 …….. when you pass through clumps of wood
 …….. and the bright spots where you have a view of the ocean,
 …….. but that doesn’t make the road an allegory.

……… I should call Marie and apologize
 …….. for being so boring at dinner last night,
 …….. but can I really promise not to be that way again?
 …….. And anyway, I’d rather watch the trees, tossing
 …….. in what certainly looks like sexual arousal.

……… Otherwise it’s spring, and everything looks frail;
 …….. the sky is baby blue, and the just-unfurling leaves
 …….. are full of infant chlorophyll,
 …….. the very tint of inexperience.

…….. Last summer’s song is making a comeback on the radio,
…….. and on the highway overpass,
…….. the only metaphysical vandal in America has written
…….. in big black spraypaint letters,

…….. which makes us wonder if Time loves Memory back.

…….. Last night I dreamed of X again.
…….. She’s like a stain on my subconscious sheets.
…….. Years ago she penetrated me
…….. but though I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed,
…….. I never got her out,
…….. but now I’m glad.

…….. What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.
…….. What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel.
…….. What I thought was an injustice
…….. turned out to be a color of the sky.

…….. Outside the youth center, between the liquor store
…….. and the police station,
…….. a little dogwood tree is losing its mind;

…….. overflowing with blossomfoam,
…….. like a sudsy mug of beer;
…….. like a bride ripping off her clothes,

…….. dropping snow white petals to the ground in clouds,

…….. so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.
…….. It’s been doing that all week:

…….  making beauty,
…….. and throwing it away,
…….. and making more.

I love every line of this. Every single line. In the following, I’ll just jot down a few notes on what this makes me feel and think. (I give you leave to not be interested in that, so you don’t need to feel bad if you stop reading at this point. The important thing is the poem itself.)

It starts right off with the picture of driving on a road through woods, with glimpses of the ocean, and straight away I want to be off, driving down that road. I think I have driven down that road, and if I haven’t, I will. I also like that kind of wry humour, when he says ‘but that doesn’t make the road an allegory’.

I love the honesty. He should follow the social conventions, but, whatever… can’t be bothered, will only do it again anyway, so what’s the use… And anyway, the tossing trees are much more interesting. (I agree, by the way)

Is it possible to top that part about ‘the only metaphysical vandal in America’? I don’t think so. It’s a funny, intelligent, throw-away remark, as is the line underneath: ‘which makes us wonder if Time loves Memory back’. It makes me smile and nod in recognition. It’s the kind of half-silly, half-deep thing you’ll think when your thoughts are drifting and maybe you’re a little tired, but at peace with yourself.

And there, buried in the middle of it, as if to hide it, is that lyrical, wonderful, suggestive stanza, that sounds as if it’s straight out of a beautiful pop song: ‘What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle. What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel. What I thought was an injustice turned out to be a color of the sky.’ Can’t you just hear that being sung? I definitely can.

The end, everything onward from ‘Outside the youth center …’ is perfect. I cannot even pick out one line or one part that I want to highlight especially, because I feel that once you’ve read it, there is nothing left to say. The dogwood tree, that is ‘loosing its mind’ – can’t you just see that? Coupled with the tossing trees in sexual arousal and the spring wind from the beginning, it makes such a painfully vivid picture.

I could write so much more about it, and actually, the more I write, the more I have to say, but this is already very long, and anyway, I’m sure you’re much more interested in using your own imagination and go and explore the pictures this poem has conjured up for you. I hope you have fun.

no breath

Time is tickling that spot on my back, right between the shoulder blades where I cannot reach.

The minute hand is mocking me, ticking on without mercy.

The sun’s path across the sky is steady and relentless.

Anxiety has ants racing up my legs and arms and building nests in my guts.

The beauty and hate of the world have me paralyzed and the sheer size of my dreams is crushing me into inaction.

Nerve-ends buzzing, shoulders hunched and tense, stomach clenched, I wait for . . .

without words





Oh, alright, I guess one word won’t hurt: HA! Made it!!!