Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Vaslav Nijinski, the great Russian dancer, suffered from schizophrenia, which often manifested as synaesthesia. In the final stages of his life he was found giving money away on the street, claiming he had suffered more than Christ. Perhaps he had.

My dear friend Maryan Paxton wrote of his last dance:

Am I a tiger,
the Angel of Death,
or God's Appointed?

These questions skriek, while
I dance attack! attack! until
God says
"Stop, Wasca.
Well done. You
danced war."

The music ceases.
I cease.


Poetry Thursday--SYNAESTHESIA


1 Dancing Across My Own Brain

Marvelously I see my splitself
walking and dancing
across my own brain. My brain,
round as a stage, floods
with color, as if someone
outside my head were drawing
swaths of richly colored silk
across the stage lights. Color
pulses inside my ears. It is blue
as music which soars, then pales
where the brightest gold
floods singing through my eye sockets

then seeps into the ruby
of my upper brain.

2 How a White Ballet Flooded Yellow

Lately I began to see a shade
of color which I had never
seen before. Yellow.

Yellow shimmers
before bursting
from the proscenium as woodwinds.

Yellow, the color proper
pools, recedes, puddles
into petals of tainted poppies.

I tend to it with these iridescent
fingers that are forming from yellow fire
flaming into hands, all flaming

into fingers smoking and twisting
into body, sprouting legs
that arabesque to yellow music

3 Clue Into a Schizophrenic Mind

Someone tells me
"Wasca, your insane brother
Stanislaw died yesterday
in Russia, incinerated
into grey ash
in the fire that consumed
his madhouse."
I think: Stanislaw.
And yellow blooms inwardly
as I see my brother and I
run laughing through childhood.

The dance begins, a kaleidoscope
of colors, of sounds, of smells.
We dance in our red boots
for the first time at the great fair
in Ninji Novgorod. All the sights
all the sounds, the perfumes
flood me yellow, bells ringing,
the taste of Turkish Delight on my tongue,
turn, on pointe, fade blue
as I watch Stanislaw leaving St. Petersburg
with father. Stanislaw is young,
and a squiggle of jade spirts
as if squeezed from a tube, pirouettes
until blue sees brother sitting in the madhouse
with his vacant, dark eyes and open mouth.
The color of brother flashes blue
and brother spins, flapping and squawking:
"I burn,
I burn,
God, kill the fire!"
Stanislaw burns. All colors rage
into the silver tributaries of my cortex.
Unable to concentrate on fire,
on silver, or blue, or yellow, or green,
my mouth smiles while my brother burns
and burns
inside my eyes.

--excerpts from I, WASCA by Maryan Paxton

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Self-Portrait Tuesday--"With Someone"

The two of us.

Metaphor: The Tree of Utah (Or, What I Did Last Summer)

Also called the "Tree of Life," this tree is 87 feet tall, made of 225 tons of cement, 2,000 ceramic tiles, 5 tons of welding rod, and tons of native Utah rocks. This huge sculpture is found 95 miles west of Salt Lake City on the Bonneville Salt Flats, and was made by Swedish artist Karl Momen (Momen, not Mormon)in the 1980's. The inscription on the trunk of the tree is Schiller's Ode to Joy as sung in the choral climax of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, you know, Mortals join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began; Father love is reigning o'er us, brother love binds man to man. Something like that. Anyway, he thought of it as "A hymn to our universe whose glory and dimension is beyond all myth and imagination." The mountain ranges in the background are sunken in mirages of the phantom Lake Bonneville. Lots of folks don't like this tree, stuck out here in the middle of nothing, and make jokes, but I think it's cool.

Of course, Bonneville Salt Flats used to be an ancient lake, created by receding glaciers some 14,500 years ago, covering 20,000 square miles in Utah, and parts of Idaho and Nevada, and because it had no outlet, it left this vast white desert -- as well as what's left of the Great Salt Lake. This is also where Burt Munro set his land speed records with his Indian motorcycle as made famous in the film "The World's Fastest Indian." A fantastic movie, by the way, if you haven't seen it, do! And, people out here do what people do everywhere, leave a graffiti of names etc written in rocks, beer bottles, whatever, all along the edges.

THe Nevada side of the desert was blooming golden with sunflowers, blond Indian rice grass, sagebrush, and wild mustard.

I am always amazed by the volcanic formations that make up so much of Idaho and Oregon. Wouldn't it have been a spectacular show when it was all hot and active, from Yellowstone all the way through Oregon to the Pacific ocean???

Some wildflowers from Oregon. And a waterfall. Oregon abounds in waterfalls! The Saturday Market was full of flowers and fruits and vegetables and music.

Earlier in the summer we spent a week in Minnesota, which you can find here. (See June, 2006, The North Woods). It's all metaphor for things whose "glory and dimension is beyond all myth and imagination."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Little Boy Blue

C'mon you guys, I know you just love baby pictures! Isn't he SOMETHING?

Quote of the Day

"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."

President Bush
in an interview with Katie Couric, CBS News, Washington DC, Sept 6, 2006

Friday, September 08, 2006

2,996 -- WE REMEMBER . . .

DAVID PRUDENCIO LEMAGNE, a police officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was last seen helping form a human chain that was leading people out of the north tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In the final moments of his young life, he saved two fellow comrades of the PA police and a third civilian security guard. He might have saved himself, but went back to save others.

DAVID graduated as a paramedic in 1994 from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Even after becoming a police officer in 2000, he continued to work as a paramedic at the New Jersey City Medical Center, simply because he loved to help people. When the attack occurred on the Twin Towers, he was told to stay put, but moments after the second plane hit, he asked to be sent to the trade towers, because of his training as a paramedic. Having aided and saved many lives in medical crisis, David understood what it meant to be of "Service."

OFFICER LEMAGNE was a notorious prankster, with an infectious grin. He loved jokes. He loved cycling, playing softball and basketball. Those who knew him best said: "I'll never forget that smile of yours or hearing you laugh."

"From time to time I still see you with your basketball, walking to the courts on 67th Street. I see your dad often, and he still cries...."

"I always looked up to you. I knew you for the brave leader you always were and the good friend everyone wishes they had."

"I don't know many people that was like you, David, kind, giving, down to earth, humble, bright, and a real good guy!"

DAVID loved dominoes games, and Bar-B-Ques, and smoking cigars. He loved hanging out at the "Spot," and throwing parties at "Topps."

David was 27 years old. He is survived by his parents, Prudencio and Ruth, and a sister, Maggie. And an entire nation, who appreciates and honors his committment to his mission and vocation. We still cry.... To OFFICER DAVID PRUDENCIO LEMAGNE, Badge #834, we say, "Well done!"


To be a mountain you have to climb alone
and accept all that rain and snow. You have to look
far away when evening comes. If a forest
grows, you stand there leaning against
the wind, waiting for someone with faith enough
to ask you to move. Great stones will tumble
against each other and gouge your sides. A storm
will live somewhere in your canyons hoarding its lightning.

If you are lucky, people will give you a dignified
name and bring crowds to admire how sturdy you are,
how long you can hold still for the camera. And some time,
they say, if you last long enough you will hear God;
a voice will roll down from the sky and all your patience
will be rewarded. The whole world will hear it: "Well done."

--William Stafford, Even in Quiet Places



Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Poetry Thursday (Blue)


Be courageous, bizarre; be crazy
I don't mean roll into the aisles,
but be on another planet; walk on
stilts from here to Peru.
This isn't like math; there's
never a right answer. "Does
it have to rhyme?" "Do we
we have to write it out, or just
think about it?" The room is loud
as a shore the tide's crashing up on to.
On one side of the accordion wall,
blur of a documentary on Nixon's
last days. On the other,
Woodworking 102, sawing and hammering.
For me, writing would be like trying
to sleep in a house of straw
that tidal waves pound on, sucking what
held it loose. So when I read:

Blue is Dahlia's eyes, the Monday
before Cropsy Creek gulped her
and Blue is rage, choking like a
cat's too tight collar, digging
into blood and fur; and Blue, my
father's veins bulging from wrists
and forehead when he beats us,
I'm as startled as by abalone
when the sea pulls out.

--Lyn Lifshin


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Self Portrait Challenge -- "With Someone"

June 19, 1964

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someone's married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then) they
said their nevers they slept their dream


sun moon stars rain

--e e cummings, of course.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday Scribblings -- SMART-1

Well. Europe's SMART-1 spacecraft crash-landed into the Moon last night, right at its predicted time of impact. According to David Leonard, Senior Space Writer at, "a handful of reporters and astronomers using large backyard telescopes...did not see anything." My husband and I, standing in our front yard (in our bathrobes and slippers) with our binoculars, didn't see anything either. But the Moon is truly a beautiful thing seen through binoculars. You can see craters. Shadows. Rings of light. I stayed out a few minutes more and looked at stars and listened to crickets. One of my favorite Summer-Things-To-Do is watching stars and listening to crickets. Simultaneously. I do it every summer. I look forward to it, from June until November. It absolutely blows me away! The extremes of it! Like lounging in a steaming hot tub of water while it is snowing, and drinking an ice-cold glass of Coke. The purity of opposites!

How can I say it? It's looking and knowing that the stars are out there exploding immense fires and gasses thousands of light-years away--and thousands of years ago, their light just now making it to my eyes. And the crickets chirping in the grass. The immense and distant, and the tiny and near, in the same breath. Their reality.

The hotter the night, the faster the crickets chirp. As the weather cools, their chirping gets slower and slower. And finally, it stops, and they are gone. They say you can figure out the temperature by counting the number of a crickets chirps per minute. My brother, with his near-perfect pitch, can tell you, "That one is chirping in A-flat, and that one in C-sharp!"

There's something kind of sad about purposely crashing something into the Moon, leaving a mess there that we won't be back to clean up for another hundred years. Or

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday Fractal

Back to the Source

Credit: Fronds d'ecran,