Strange things happen at midnight

“This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson
done…”    from “A Clear Midnight” by Walt Whitman


My head has been in perpetual midnight this month. I walked off an airplane and into the terminal leaving my gate-checked carry-on luggage sitting on the tarmac. I accidentally left my cell phone on my car’s back bumper and drove away. I’ve taken Chester out for walks without his leash and set off the smoke alarm when the bread I forgot in the oven burned. For 25 days now my body has been on earth, but my heart and soul have been tuned into the frequency of the poetic muse on the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project.  Sometimes I look at my feet just to see if they’re on the ground, craving the “free flight into the wordless.”

IMG_0801

The experience has been weird and wonderful and I heartily recommend a one-month total immersion in whatever you love to do. Your support – by reading and forwarding the poems, by joining the Orange Whistle Secrets Divulged group, by e-mailing to discuss poems, and by donating to Tupelo Press – is deeply appreciated. You have no idea how much a kind word fuels literature.

Just for you, dear readers, I’ve reprised two favorites from the 30/30 Project website.

From Day 20
gullWhat the Gull Heard One July, Main Beach, Laguna   

If I tell you a secret, will you promise not to tell?
Never trust a woman sitting at a table alone without a glass of wine at dinner.
Of course she’s difficult, that’s her schtick. She calls herself a Mensa puzzle.
“What did you expect, hula girls?”

Careful, surf’s rough.
My wife thinks I’m at work today.
That seagull, like your eyes when you wake up before you put your glasses on.

Before I wanted to be an artist I wanted to be a saint.
What did you create this afternoon? Havoc at the very least.
I wonder if the pigs are out. No sharks today.
Only looking, no touching.

I thought the ocean would be bluer.

Mama, can we have our Daddy back?
Living gives you heart trouble.
We have so many issues we should open a newsstand.
I’m a lot like Barbara Streisand except that I don’t sing.
Would you mind if I walk alone for a bit?
This would be a great spot to get married.
Hey, hey, don’t run. You’ll knock people over.

I’m starving. I’m cold.
Hit your mute button.

Things that are worthwhile are sometimes more difficult.
There’s no need to yell.
That wave that knocked you over was God’s way of saying you shouldn’t walk out so far.
It’s nothing like the pictures.
It looks just like the photo!
3.  2.  1.
Snap.

And from today:
photo-21

Faith

We hear of rain
some years
breeching banks
creating a right flood.
Horses stampede. Fish take up in the basement. Whippoorwill trills all night.
Other times
drought.
Cicadas. Flat shimmer. Dust for breakfast.

 Water, so very much like love.

 Saying It’s the season
isn’t enough to end a parch
right where you stand
palms up, head tilted skyward, mouth an open urn.
I see you wait like you are sure
it will rain once again.

 

You can read all 25 poems at the 30/30 Project.  (Day 22 was written just for one of the Backyard Cousins.) If you’ve been meaning to make a small donation to the press, time’s almost up if you’d like to mark “In Honor of Catherine Keefe.” Come August 1, I’ll be back to my more grounded self and you’ll never hear me ask you for a single thing again.

Long live books and readers and poets who write at midnight. Long live those who support the arts rather than grumble about the decline of fine publishing.

Looking toward dawn,
~Catherine

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