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Our Lady of Compost

Going to Ground

Bygone morning’s coffee grounds

ground further down,

down

to

ground

by hyper worms, all caffeinated.

Leaves of autumn, brittle, perforated,

are integrated

as eisenia fetida binge and purge,

binge and purge,

and binge and purge,

in their castings new lives emerge

from rotten tomatoes, banana peels, cherry pits,

straw covered in the chickens’ shits,

avocado skins, watermelon rinds

strawberry stems and murky brines.

Other bits thrown in the mix:

pistachio shells and broken sticks,

ash from last winter’s fire,

lint from the laundry’s dryer.

In the midst of this debris,

a rotting jack-o-lantern held an errant seed.

A pumpkin vine sprouts from his wrecked grin

as his ghoulish, rotting face caves in.

When human footsteps fall that way,

sunning lizards go skittering into the fray

to join scutigera coleptrata and armadillidiidae

who work the lower strata in some mysterious way.

Above it all Our Lady of Compost stands poised and posed

overseeing all that is composed and decomposed.

Within her purview is order and disorder and

life and not-life at this strange borderland.

Knowing well her own disintegration will nourish

the next generation to flourish.

~~*~~

 

Today’s musings were inspired by my own heap of compost and also very much by Walt Whitman’s “This Compost”, a meditation on Earth’s resilience and ability to turn the nastiest diseased corruption into an astounding flourish of beauty.

“The first thing I’ve got to do,” said Alice to herself, as she wandered about in the wood “is to grow my right size again; and the second thing is to find my way into that lovely garden. I think that will be the best plan.”

–Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865

I woke up in a “six impossible things before breakfast” sort of mood today,

managing her flamingo

so I took myself on a playdate

to the Memphis Botanic Gardens to chase wonder.

oh my ears and whiskers

She wasn’t hard to catch.

I should like to be a queen best

Today’s offering in celebration of Earth Day: Precious moments aboard this beautiful planet with a reading of my favorite poem by e.e. Cummings, #26

So, about that job interview…

…You know, the one I wrote about in my last post?

…You know, the one with all the gravitas and questions that made me ponder how I do the work?

Well, I was offered the position! And I accepted it!

And I took all the unicorn smarts and BIG IDEAS (!) to someone else’s office,

where I sat at a computer

with all the e-mail,

and all the systems,

and all the passwords,

and all the plans,

and all deadlines,

and all the importance, day after day,

after day,

after, day,

afterday,

afterdayafterdayafterdayafterday

…like any normal person might!

(I really, really wanted “normal person” to work for me in this instance.)

And that went on for 11 weeks until I realized:

No!

and also:

whycoloured worlds of because 
do not stand against 
 YES
which is built by
 forever & sunsmell

(thank you e.e. Cummings)

…and then I quit.

Nearly everything.

All at once.

“The star that gives us light has been gone awhile, but it’s not an illusion…”

~ U2, Iris ~

Last weekend I left my house and went to an actual theater to see a movie. It felt like a bold and daring move, bordering on reckless debauchery. This is what the world has come to. The movie was Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos, and it was so significant that a week later I’m still thinking about it. I’m not sure why it stuck with me all week, but like the title says, I got some ‘splainin’ to do, mostly to myself, so I can figure it out and move on with my life. There will likely be spoilers in this post; consider yourself forewarned and prepare accordingly.

Much of the action in Being the Ricardos takes place over the course of a tense week in the personal and professional lives of Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnez (Javier Bardem) on the set of I Love Lucy. Deviations from the production week timeline occur via monologue from the writers Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll, and producer Jess Oppenheimer (played by Linda Lavin, Ronny Cox and John Rubinstein, respectively). Serving collectively as a narrator, each one reminisces from a vantage point decades later, about the off-screen drama. Thus, they set the stage for pivotal moments, like when Desi and Lucille first meet on the set of the movie Too Many Girls. They also provide details about the couple’s relationship, with quips like, “They were either tearing each other’s heads off or tearing each other’s clothes off,” which is followed by a scene in which the couple does both simultaneously. The story weaves back and forth through time creating a patchwork effect.

Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of the smart and savvy businesswoman behind the character of Lucy Ricardo was brilliant. Javier Bardem’s performance was equally as awesome — he dances, he sings, he acts! The whole cast was just fabulous. I was so lost in the story I couldn’t even tell you if the black-and-white scenes were the original footage or remade by the present-day actors. And I don’t even care. So there.

It was fascinating to see how Lucille and Desi persistently pressed the establishment to accommodate their personal lives and to expand the broadcast of basic human life to the public. In their day, of course, married couples did not share beds on TV and children were apparently brought into the world by stork. Yet they eventually convinced the network to televise a pregnant Lucille/Lucy on national TV at a time when such things were considered much too risqué for general public consumption.

The story was structured in such a way to explore the dynamic tension between fantasy and reality, practice and performance, public politics and private life. These tensions are as relevant today as they were then. The individual parts were jumbled, but recursive. By the end, the pieces came together to create a unified quilt-like whole, even as the couple was being torn asunder.

The linguistic nerd in me was gratified by all the dialogue surrounding the concept of “communism,” which demonstrated how abstract ideas come to have vastly different meanings depending on one’s personal experiences. The treatment of communism reminded me of Trumbo, another interesting movie set around the same era when all the cool intellectuals who hadn’t actually experienced the particulars and practice of communism were being accused of thinking it was such a great idea.

I wonder whether the movie would have been as salient if I had not seen it in a theater. Could it be the need to sustain attention for two hours straight that kept the movie with me for a week? Or maybe there is just something special about the ancient ritual of sitting in the dark experiencing a shared story with other people.

There is a “study” by a big tech’s advertising department that claims the human attention span has dropped below that of a goldfish — to mere seconds!

How dare they infer that our attention span is a problem because we don’t salivate around their hook.

I don’t know the name of the tree or the bug, but the sky that day was a Salvador Dali. It was exactly the sort of wholly cloudless sky he recommended for long, philosophical gazing. The azure held that luminous transparency of spirit, that “precious substance which eludes…rational faculties.” When you fall into that disconcerting blue it literally blinds you with your own projections because it is “constituted of nothing but infinite layers of superposed transparent air” (p. 21).

Dali, S. (1948). 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship. Translated by Haakon M. Chevalier. New York: The Dial Press.

[This post was inspired by Kathy at Lake Superior Spirit who is playing a fun game of “Photo Shorts.” Tag. You’re it!]

I recently had the imperative urge to make a wreath. I don’t know why. I’ve never made a wreath before. In fact, my lifestyle up to this point has been unconducive to entertaining whatever hidden forces compel people to adorn thresholds with festooned circles. I have owned exactly two wreaths my whole adult life – both were of the Christmas variety. Both were gifts. I have rarely managed to get them on the doors or take them off the doors during the proper seasons. When October swept in along came the need to stick a bunch of stuff in a circle. It was confusing to say the least.

But mine is not to reason why…I am a mere foot soldier in The War of Art.

When the battle horn sounded, the command rang out:

 "Forward the Brigade! 
Charge the Salvation Army!"
Thus, into the Valley of Forsaken Things I blundered,
Running with scissors and waving glue gun, 
While all the world held its breath and wondered, 
'How dare this warrior woman fight so hard to have fun?'

COVID to the right of me!
COVID to the left of me! 
COVID in front of me! 

A cough and splutter
...eyes sealed and breath held tight against the potentially virulent cough cloud...
...and there...there in the distance 
...buried in obscurity, came the small cry of a weak voice: 

And I rescued the scarecrow from his Circle of Doom. May his golden years be spent in the garden watching the peas grow and giving the crows and hawk something to laugh about.

The circle was then restructured as such:

Keep fighting the good fight,
Sweet Brigade of Light.

The Murdering Crows recently dropped a fabulous new video for a fabulous new song written by Rick Moore, Jr. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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