Survey of Debris

May 1, 2018

Why wasn’t I angry
when the east wind shifted
and everything that was about to be
stopped? That lull intensified,
grew to an uneasiness,
a fraying at the bottom of your jeans
where the denim drags.
Somehow I misunderstood,
took the tension for sport.
My body can buffet me
like a wall against the wind,
against the bleakest of weather.
Can station me in a citadel
garrisoned against the faces
in cliffs and clouds.
Summon the janissaries,
who stalk the ground
upon which we fustian loved.
Mix equal parts of water
and cement to a thick adobe.
Shepherd such a mixed flock.
Contain the threshold
of continuance herewith.

Harriet Levin

ghost

I have always been raised to believe in the existence of entities, energies and phenomenon that are outside the realm of ‘ordinary reality’ I believe that having been given that open mindedness in my upbringing set the stage for my ability to sense spirits, energies and entities. Having said that I’d like to quickly add that I know many individuals who were not brought up with such acceptance and who are yet very gifted psychics and sensitives.

Perhaps my most intimate relationship I’ve had the opportunity to develop with the spirit world was during the years I worked as a Youth Advocate/ House manager at a shelter for homeless and runaway youth. The shelter was housed in a Victorian townhouse that had been built in 1874. Over the early years the house was home to well to do businessmen who worked downtown. From the 49’s until the late 60’s it had been split up into a 4plex, in a neighborhood that over those years was known for drug use and Bohemian lifestyle. Since 1970 it has housed the Youth Shelter.

Given its long history especially the transient years, the house held a lot of energy. Being a temporary home for troubled youth added its own rather intense energy. There have always been a few constants in the house. These stories have been reported by staff who had not heard others experiences first. The most commonly agreed upon sensations or images were of a few specific characters, each of whom was described in detail by several individuals who encountered them. One of the most significant, and probably the most “at home” ghost was an older woman who would spend the night fussing and working in the kitchen. When people went into the kitchen at night they usually reported a feeling of being unwelcome there, but not in a threatening way; more like a busy grandma shooshing the kids out of her way so she could work. When a friend and I investigated we got the message that she was very attached to role as a housekeeper and felt that she needed to be there to keep things in proper order.

The other most commonly encountered ghost was that of a young girl, maybe about 10 years old. She would hang out on the third floor most frequently; it was a relatively quiet area with only a couple of administrative offices. Her room and I believe it was once her room was one of the most well preserved Victorian style, flowered wallpaper, and a few antiques. There were also some dolls in the room. She would sometimes venture to the second floor at night which housed the residents’ bedrooms and a small office for the overnight staff. Most people got the impression that she had died in the house from some childhood illness and she was staying because it was the only home she’d ever known. Funny thing, several people got the feeling that she would ask for chocolate when she encountered an adult. Her footsteps could often be heard in the hallway and on the large staircase leading downstairs.

There are many more stories I could tell, but they would probably be enough to fill a book. These were the two most familiar and most “friendly” spirits and they really felt like part of the ‘family’ which is why I chose their stories to tell. One more thing I never figured it out for sure, but I kind of like to think the Kitchen Grandma was hanging around to care for the little girl. Although it seems sad to me for spirits to be stuck, it’s rather comforting that there was a caring bond that kept them together.

Jenny Hazard
The Shelter Spirits
The Beltane Papers, winter 2010

face writing

Reading novels seems to me such a normal activity, while writing them is such an odd thing to do. . . . At least so I think until I remind myself how firmly the two are related. (No armoured generalities here. Just a few remarks.)

First, because to write is to practice, with particular intensity and attentiveness, the art of reading. You write in order to read what you’ve written and see if it’s O.K. and, since of course it never is, to rewrite it – once, twice, as many times as it takes to get it to be something you can bear to reread. You are your own first, maybe severest, reader. ”To write is to sit in judgment on oneself,” Ibsen inscribed on the flyleaf of one of his books. Hard to imagine writing without rereading.

But is what you’ve written straight off never all right? Yes, sometimes even better than all right. And that only suggests, to this novelist at any rate, that with a closer look, or voicing aloud – that is, another reading – it might be better still. I’m not saying that the writer has to fret and sweat to produce something good.

”What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure,” said Dr. Johnson, and the maxim seems as remote from contemporary taste as its author. Surely, much that is written without effort gives a great deal of pleasure.

No, the question is not the judgment of readers – who may well prefer a writer’s more spontaneous, less elaborated work – but a sentiment of writers, those professionals of dissatisfaction. You think, ”If I can get it to this point the first go around, without too much struggle, couldn’t it be better still?”

And though the rewriting – and the rereading – sound like effort, they are actually the most pleasurable parts of writing. Sometimes the only pleasurable parts. Setting out to write, if you have the idea of ”literature” in your head, is formidable, intimidating. A plunge in an icy lake. Then comes the warm part: when you already have something to work with, upgrade, edit.

Susan Sontag
Directions: Write, Read, Rewrite. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 as Needed.
New York Times, 18th December 2000

Using silence as a punishment is like letting fly doves that carry freedom on their wings. That’s how you are. A dove open to my wishes, my desires – pleasing me, and in my pleasure finding yours …