But how little
we learn about her.
she was named Edith, but later
she may have
taken a different name, a
in another country. Was she
sad, as they claimed,
and disobedient to turn and look?
Was she punished, as they claimed,
and became a pillar of salt?
Some say she
and the others
had seen it coming,
long before the two angels
with their warning of
God would try and fail
The old methods, napalm,
would lead where
they usually led: guerrilla war,
resistance that lasts for
where pleasure makes its own
rules, identities are hidden and
the labyrinth of tunnels grows
ever longer and
I leave it for you to decide. The supposed winners
write these tales.
she was part of the underground
and her disguise worked and she
vanished into history leaving
behind only a story still taken as a warning
and a truth.
The Loneliness of Men
I caught a cab to the Montreal airport
and the driver, a middle-aged man,
weary looking and badly shaved,
asked how I was. “Tired,” I said,
“haven’t slept well. Too much family.”
We stopped at a long light.
Men were arguing in French. I saw a young woman
in a purple skirt who was smiling at someone.
“O,” the driver said, “tried sleeping pills?”
“Yeah,” I said, “and they weren’t all that effective.”
He turned: “I haven’t gotten much sleep in three years.”
People started blowing their horns.
He pulled into the slow lane.Then came the story:
his wife’s breast cancer and how
she wanted him to sit by her at night during the treatments.
She lost one breast then the other.
Two years night after night, she cried
and held his hand. They’d never had children.
The airport came into view -
curved glass and hubbub.
“How is she?” I asked.
“She died a year ago,” he replied.
“I still can’t sleep. I lie there
listening to the radio and I can’t let go.”
He turned toward me again.
“Have you tried Xanax,” I suggested, “or Ativan?”
“Definitely, he said, “but I got addicted,
used more and more and it scared me.”
“Yeah,” I said, “yeah.”
“It’s the lot of men to be lonely,” he said,
“that’s just the way it is.”
“No,” I said, “maybe you can talk to someone.
You’ve been through a lot.”
“Sure,” he said.
We were there. I checked for my ticket,
took hold of the suitcase. We shook hands
and I rushed to the security line.
When I got home I was unpacking
and thought of writing him, but realized
I had not even asked his name.
“We paint on a vanishing canvas.”
Jim Carpenter, psychotherapist
Here’s a moment -
this sparkling resonance.
The blank canvas
splattered with globs of red and black
then rubbed away by the stained rag
One day, I sense we are making
subtle understanding words -
and suddenly it comes
together in the clarity
of a bright Impressionist moment.
Or there may be hours, exquisitely sensual:
a Renoir figure
enters the room
lies down and makes herself known
- the body accepted
in its adorable and ferocious needs.
And sometimes as the early dark
comes on, there’s a somber winter landscape
- a Brueghel canvas evolving
with dog and hunter coming out of the woods.
And we are forced to step back
and become aware
of the distant village
and the bare trees
of an entire life.
And of course, so many failed canvases,
the endless doodle, someone
refuses to speak,
or puts the canvas on the floor,
stomps it and forgets it.
But maybe that was for the good,
maybe we can recover,
come back together, make
the small gestures,
sessions of listening
-the deep cobalt
of insight, stinging white of grief.
And if we paint well, the careful
underlayer may form, slowly,
colors of trust,
perhaps a glowing silence.
Then suddenly, unexpectedly,
after weeks of waiting,
you make a bold black
and I follow -
- a Chinese ink drawing:
two restless, dancing spirits,
playing with destiny.
And no one will see this.
will barely recall.
It will pass through
into our bodies,
charcoal networks of memory:
- intricate, healing, open,
what's the word?
Freud, 1938, Vienna
“...men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved...; they are on the contrary,
creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned
a powerful share of aggressiveness.”
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
Vienna, 1938, Freud, 82.
Nazis and their allies parade in the streets,
flag after flag and those raised arms,
ceaseless enthusiasm and hatred of the Jews.
Incoherent fury of centuries alive once more.
They called the old analyst’s work
”a pornographic Jewish specialty.”
He’d worked fifty years in the exquisite old city
struggling to free the human spirit.
Lately, he’d become more pessimistic.
Neurosis was the price of civilization.
The Nazis insisted he absolved the police
before they allowed him to leave.
“I can heartily recommend the Gestapo
to anyone,” he wrote.
And the old Jewish pessimist,
leaving Vienna remarked: “Today
they are content with burning
my books. In the Middle Ages
they would have burned me.”