Harah Frost

Black Dog

If I didn’t write about it, the black dog would remain hovering in the mind, alone for days, then would evaporate. In giving it company in the world, on the page, among real facts though, I distort it, the figure of it, into some portent, content, intent.
About 10pm I’d gone to lock the back door as part of going-to-bed ritual and glanced out the window of the garage door, alerted pre-consciously by some movement. The feeling was an immediate curious alertness, and an “ah this is why I came here.” A kind of kismet flashed between me and a black dog who did not look back. No portent, just a quick exultation in the strangeness of it: a black dog, coyote-shaped, with no humans around, snuffling through leaves in the gutter across the street. Though dark outside, the black of its body was denser, moving, four-legged, focused.
I stood stunned, chosen. By the time I got outside to look, there was nothing and then more nothing.

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Quote #6

“Never know whose thoughts you’re chewing.” James Joyce Ulysses p.171 (Modern Library 1934)

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Mean Girls

Plopped down in the fucking middle of the problem always. No preamble. No warning. You showed up all innocent and, like, “I’m ok. You’re ok.” Ha ha. Good luck with that.
You wanted to be part of them. Had driven/flown/walked all that way, had anticipated fun and sharing, the spark of ideas new to you, who could then respond, all alive and eager, tow-headed and about ten years old, no matter what your body says.
Only they got there first. I mean, the fact that they preceded you was the salient one, the one that you overlooked. They were a unit before you walked in asking to join. It was their territory, their sisterhood, and as we know from bee colonies, sisterhood is everything.
So go ahead. Try it again. Walk up in your white shirt with the peter-pan collar, your navy blue shorts, and your single barrette. Go ahead. No one is there to stop you.

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Quote #5

from G.K. Chesterton found in Leslie Jamison’s The Recovering (2018):

“How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it. You would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers.”

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What’s It Going To Be

The brain is so miraculous. That sentence is miraculously banal. When I think of the dreams that go on, have gone on, and of the tracks they run on, and where those tracks might be found. No, I will spare you the recounting of one or two. Couldn’t recount anything anyway since I don’t remember. Something Swedish, with balsa wood, and Jenga, and contention. And that was just one out of three full-length films I wrote and produced during the night.
The thing that astonishes is the capacity. Sometimes the credits are rolling when I wake up. When I said “Swedish” earlier, I meant not only fir trees and light snow but the whole social-democrat streetscape. Gestalt in a single still. Then I wake up and it vanishes, deleted, leaving a blank.
It’s all unreachable once I’m awake. As soon as I attach adjectives from waking life, the feeling of the dream disappears. As though it were a different language and the translation was being boycotted as inadequate, a book slammed shut by the native speaker. The fleeting memory is a page of gibberish that recedes as I grab for it. The arrogance in the conscious mind, the pre-frontal despot, is the thing that has to be swapped out. More humility is required. More submission and quietness. An active lying down and shutting up, a very concrete skill.
How does one coax the dream back when the words you use to describe what you find are lethal to it? Starts with the breath, no doubt, and the only thing I can relate it to is the tack one takes while walking the forest. That is, to look sideways, to lessen the focus not sharpen it with what you think. Lessen the focus, move the conscious mind out of the way to another quadrant. Then the forest begins to come alive with things that were right there in front of you, but you couldn’t see them. Kissed. Graced. Where the mind that “knows everything already” is laid to rest and, no harm done, the door to more worlds is opened. (more…)

Drama

I come to the page stunned by the drama of recent days, the tragedic caste I give it all which I then upend 24 hours later. The tendency is a gift and a curse, specifically a trampoline of large feelings given me by my mother, I believe, not through genes but via the habit of hers of listening to Clifton Fadiman’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera on the radio station KQEO in Albuquerque. And listening also in the room was me, a little person, a little tow-headed girl scrambling in the laundry as her mother pulled the shirts from the basket to lay on the ironing board for the slow plank of the appliance back and forth, in front of our sunny glass doors.
This is the perfect emblem. She was so bored with the world (I never blame her for that), she turned to the next best thing and turned on the radio to listen to Leontyne Price do Aida or Maria Callas do Medea, wherein, I learn later, the protagonist kills her children.
What I inherit is the dislocation and distance between the exterior (which is now winter) and the interior which contains the dramaturgy and over-blown sets of The Met. Overlaying it all is a close, smokey, Freudian whiff of murder and infanticide. I often wonder why she was so attracted to that last particular opera. It’s been rumored that she made the trek from our tract house, dragging my construction worker and handsome-type stepfather, all the way downtown for a performance of it. It couldn’t have been a performance with Callas, no way. Maybe it was a movie. Rumor has never made that clear. The whole tale is a mystery and all the principals are dead. Callas. Euripides. Mom.
There were repercussions and reverberations though. What’s left in the now completed brain of the child is the constant feeling in the background of a low-level dread and anxiety. Were it to speak, it would say that meaning itself is almost here, and it’s going to hurt. (more…)

Why Didn’t You Do Something?

The ocean is full of plastic. The baobab are dying.
There are 200 tigers total. Why don’t you do something?

About 1841 it was necessary to cut the tree a year ahead of time,
then chop it “by hand”, as the euphemism has it, into stove-size chunks
and let it age. Then one cold morning you take a couple pieces from their place to the right
of the kitchen door and bring them inside,
first knocking them against the handmade door-frame
so the spiders would drop. And once that was done you fed the stove
and the house would slowly heat.
You would do all this in your long-johns and bare feet,
taken from bed, the down comforter, and a small wife.

So, now it’s 2018 and life engulfs. There is too much life
and the requirements have changed.
One sips from a plastic cup as one writes up the nature
of one’s feelings. One In 7.5 billion.

And the feelings are fine, deserve a line or two maybe. Deserve
to exist for a few seconds within the eons of galaxy time,
enough deserving within the Deserving Calculus
to sip at plastic that will later…much later, much much much later..
after the feelings, the sanctified feelings, the typed-up feelings,
the rapidly disseminated feelings, once private now valiantly unleashed,
a smokey substance moving, shimmering in space,

the cyber flotsam,

the debris of yourself who should have done something,

but was writing instead. (more…)

Happy New Year

Somewhere in creation there is a species that evolution primed for conscious, intentional, rational long-term collective thinking and planning. They will exist for a long, long time. We are not them.

Philip Tymon, (from a letter in NYT Magazine Dec 2 for which I have not had permission. Do I need it?) (more…)

Still Life: Quote

I don’t feel I am getting older; I feel I’m getting closer.

Rachel Cusk (more…)

Candor Is A Place

Once the reader identifies a vain or self-serving streak the writer can’t admit to with candor, a level of distrust interferes with that reader’s experience.

Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir p.100 (more…)