Snow-Viewing Party

David Bartone
December 6, 2009
Comments 2

Last night I went on a snow-viewing party, which can be accompanied by a tremendous amount of documenting. I am discovering I like documentary writing. Perhaps I will take travel writing and other similar forms more seriously in the future. Here are 50 note card-sized essays from after the viewing:

THE UNDERTONES

I want to hold you, I want to hold you tight: a mood like first snow clung to that bark.

AT BEMIS CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS

Almost a year ago I spent a week in Omaha, NE. It was New Years. So cold; grocery shopping as some strange heart-kindling. We (there’s a we to this essay!) borrowed our friend’s Lincoln to go to the supply store for a gallon of blue paint. She was getting started that week on ???Anniversary, 2009’–a very fine photo in the end. I wrote the better part of a poem, ???Wandering Pacemaker,’ there. As far as I know, the largest week of the year for us. As today, drinking coffee from a mug from Nebraska, says Eileen on it.

SORRY FOR LAUGHING

In my mind I was picturing a beautiful girl at the bar, laughing, as all the men on their stools envy on. Really, I should have been crying or walking home alone.

DEHYDRATED FRUIT

I am eating cereal with dehydrated strawberries in it. Punching the berries under the milk. What the hell is morning time for, anymore? Some strange foreplay for the day. The day: to absorb, to swell. Today: coming, come to me dear.

SOUVENIRS

Permit me go on on souvenirs a bit: What does duty-free commemorate? What did your ankles look like when you bought me those sandals? Can you help me picture your calves? I need to see you flitting around the streets with no purse. I need to see you here in a crocheted dress. Sipping.

TWO KINDS OF WALLS I KEEP

Of the two kinds of walls I keep (one with hung things on; one with taped things on), today is a day as with taped things on it. Then there’s this business of committing poems to memory and committing poems to paper. When in doubt, what do you err on?

“I’LL STOP THE WORLD AND MELT WITH YOU”

Last night we had first snowfall. I walked for two hours down at Wentworth Farm Conservation. Being first snow, lots of feelings came to me and hung always ten feet in front of me.

COLLABORATING WITH KYLE

My friend Kyle is exuberant. For 100 years we have been writing collaboratively. We wrote one children’s book together. It began “When Billy the Bookkeeper’s Son threw the boomerang into the well, none of these things crossed his mind:” Additionally, we are writing one poem together. Kyle keeps introducing his additions with this note: “i may have fucked it all up but this is what i did with the little poem today for some reason.”

DANGEROUS TO TRY TO IMPRESS HER

“In name only, a museum.” And she’s said other things that make you go crawl. She’s said, “I hope you feel like a tourist. (click.)” She’s wearing a rugged skirt when she knows you’re near.

AND SO HERE I HAVE IT

These weeks writing more and more outdoors. It’s getting colder faster now. 12:43pm, 34 degrees. Merrill Gilfillan once described today’s sky: “a sky/ the color of milk/ that blueberries/ have been in; mountains/ to the immediate west.”

DOGGED OR PLAIN DUMB

A friend has a good theory about second coincidences, about what it takes to sleep with a girl like that. True. But if I’m not trying here, on this, the first, then I’m making license plates for the State at two cents a piece, until“. And that’s no way.

IN WANTING (TO ATTACH BASHO’S WORDS TO ONE’S HEART)

Basho wrote:

Stretching by force
The wrinkles of my coat,
I started out on a walk
To a snow-viewing party.

Deep as the snow is,
Let me go as far as I can
Till I stumble and fall,
Viewing the white landscape.

This passage is famous among my friends.

A CAMERA WOULDN’T DO

Cold and bright out; the little pinecones crackle in my hand, which is warmer than my ankles. I am alone because you are gone. A day like today, the farmers are not using their shotguns.

THE DIFFERENCE

In the dialogue I had with you last night, we talked about the difference between a kiss and a touch of breath on the lip. Your eyes were open. It was warm out.

WHILE

While all your boyfriends know Kierkegaard or Wittgenstein better than me, I know what I can do to make you wish me many mistresses.

KEEPING

Keep walking you arthritic fool. And goddammit someone quit it with the chainsaw.

LEAF

I want to float a leaf on down the creek. And you know I don’t believe in symbols.

ENTIRE LIFE

Tree root tripped me. We married in a beautiful church.

TO JACK

No matter what you are trying to teach me (to juggle for you, to reach the door handle for you, to feed you this or that, etc“), what you teach me is your tender eyes, your flirt eyes.

ONES

That one snow is mulching these leaves. The grasses poke through like spires. One day I wrote 1,000 epistles and one day I strived for second best. And one day I was the one that walked out toward nothing from you.

IMAGINATION

That day we were walking by this same place, and I asked you if you thought the view from that house on the hill exceeded this one we had here. You had so many possible responses. You squeezed my hand harder, as if to say, Shhh.

FACEBOOK

So many have shared their snow-viewing parties this weekend in the northeast. I picture what they’ll say in one month, two months, three months, and four months. None of us will die, and our hearts will get fatter, and it will not be ugly. The heat in this room is making me sick. I plug in the tree.

OLD HELMETS

Don’t like the throwback jerseys, but like the old helmets. Like the thought of men back then hitting as hard as they did. Like the thought that back then each helped each other up, or they never did. I like all ideas of community. Would you like to join a snow-viewing community with me?

CANADA GOOSE: A BROWNISH-GRAY BODY AND WHITE CHEEKS AND BREAST

It’s dark out now, and so so much seems so far away. Namely, I am being picked apart at home: the radiator is clicking loud; the top strand on the tree is out; birds are flying south, even in the South; three straight tries I can’t get up to make tea, to add Scotch to it.

HOT TODDY

Day made worse. Day made better. It’s actually not that cold out. Muscular memory is: I was pouring for two anyway. I pour rooms of it: for my mistakes.

HOT TODDIES; OR, FOOTBALL

Kicking it down the field, I limp off the field.

FLOWERS, AFTER

Remember when we were at the Amherst Farmers’ Market two summers ago, and I was hungover, pleasant, curious, and breaking into my silliness just fine, and I asked the florist what makes cut flowers smell, and you laughed at me? I meant to ask what makes cut flowers smell bad in the water. I meant for you to see these flowers here I bought for you. Asters. The cat keeps pecking on them. I join.

BLANKET COVERAGE

What is the relation between football language and this loneliness? I do not know but I am thinking fondly of my dad all those years who would take out three cigars, a six pack of cans, a radio airing the Giants, a twelve foot A-frame ladder, an extension tree trimmer to reach the top, and three days of lights to string around our giant fir. I am under a blanket admiring the seven foot Fraser fir in my living room. It is as big as dad’s was when he bought that house. I cannot know the history of thoughts he’s had while stringing it year after year.

FROM AMANDA NADELBERG’S POEM “BUILDING CASTLES IN SPAIN, GETTING MARRIED”

I always like to see how a writer maneuvers when they know they can’t resist all those clich??s:

Impetuous family. Hair
such a mess in Paris, she
goes back to the country,
she will not call. She wants
a man to hold onto, she
needs only a minute.
*
No time, he says, even for
apology. No, she didn’t get
the letter, the telephone
interrupting, I’m awfully
busy, he says to her, wait
a minute, I will tell you.

What’s going on with that ???minute’? To me it looks like a poetic interaction between blatant clich??s. Good use of blatant clich??s.

ROSALIE

It shouldn’t matter the snow seemed so long ago. It shouldn’t matter it didn’t fall but half an inch. I should be able to sit here for twenty years and write it out: how beautiful you are; how, Rosalie, I want you to come kiss me love; and whatever it is I will miss about now, a little bit later down the line. But alas, when one is fixed on the weather all day, the atmospheric pressure is always in motion. Sometimes something bad is caused by the weight of air above the measurement point.

ODE ON MELANCHOLY

Both ???vague’ and ???wave’ are via French from Latin ???vagus,’ which means ???wandering, uncertain.’ Ah! the little learnings that do what perking up should do. And now, some Keats:

Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

COOKING

Cooking is for dancing around the kitchen. Music is for enlivening or crying to. There are two windows: one over the cutting board, one over the sink. Thankfully he is choosing the sink.

HAIRCLIP

You left your hairclip clipped to the pillow. Waiting for the timer to go off–I’m making something that will be good for leftovers–I pick at your hairclip some.

DID YOU KNOW

There were only four proofreaders for the dictionary I use.

SNOW NOW ICE

Snow now ice, I can hear the neighbor’s dog walking around the driveway. Snow now ice, it’s more fun to hate neighbors’ dogs with a partner.

EARLY ON / WOULD IT MATTER

If you saw her smile at a stranger“if you saw her chat with a stranger“if you saw her shake hands with a stranger“if she kissed you brighter because of“if the kisses go on.

THE SNOW

The snow was not essay-ish. But still“.

MARK LEIDNER’S POEM “YELLOW ROSE”

It begins:

When it snows I get a boner.

Like any good poem, it ends:

“You are the yellow rose
corkscrewing out of the slippery rocks
that gird the river of black water.”
“I have seen a thousand moons
wax and wane to completion
since we last touched.”

ONE THING I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO FEEL ABOUT

Your mom told me that when you are gone, she has to give you lots of “pep talks.”

MEDITATION

Eating a delicious supper, he meditates on the difference between melt and thaw, and on inadequacy.

COULD ALSO

Tonight, it is right to be watching Brett Favre. Though I could also go for “Scrooged,” that part where Bill Murray gives Bobcat Goldthwait a raspberry and says, “That’s my thing! I’m gonna be doing that to everybody.” That’s how I feel right now: the could also go for feeling.

INTO NIGHTTIME NOW, THERE’S A PUSH

I mentioned my friend Kyle earlier. He’s the one who believes that the act of writing matters more than any other step of writing. He does his editing at night and therefore likes the mornings better. This, the writing of essays on note cards, was his idea.

TRAVEL COMPANIONS

Basho traveled with a companion Sora. And he would sometimes write Sora’s poems in his own diaries as occasions that happened to him. Lewis traveled with Clark. By the authority of President Jefferson, he was in effect Clark’s superior, though they agreed to never let the other men know that. To the others, they were co-captains. I can promise to be however you want me.

THE MOST

I took the bathmat to the porch to shake it out. I imagined how much one could like a shook out bathmat, and I liked it that much.

INVENTED, NON-URGENT

I am growing tired of all this invented, non-urgent pressure I keep putting on myself daily: I’ve been asking myself, “If you could only read one story today, what would you read?” Kafka’s The Country Doctor.

THE TREE SKIRT

Just when he thought he was doing fine without her, he falls in love with the Chirstmas tree skirt she picked out, that he wouldn’t have. It has white fluffy balls on it and it matches the chair in some way. He does not feel encouraged to figure out this love.

REARVIEW

From Driver’s Ed, you’ll remember, you’re supposed to check your rearview mirror every seven to ten seconds. You’ll find it dangerous to do, if you’ve developed a habit that is of greater infrequency.

DO AS YOU DO

Do as you do. A saying his friends have come to hear from him a great deal this past year. He means it, too.

THE FAKE GIVE

Love, I don’t need your touch as much as I say. I need your coming toward.

LIKE SNOW

What happens when the day lands depends entirely on how warm your skin is.

2 thoughts on “Snow-Viewing Party

  1. THIS LIVING HAND

    This living hand, now warm and capable
    Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
    And in the icy silence of the tomb,
    So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
    That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of
    blood
    So in my veins red life might stream again,
    And thou be conscience-calmed–see here it is–
    I hold it towards you.

    John Keats

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