Tuesday, November 13, 2001

In heaven a spirit doth dwell
"Whose heart strings are a lute";
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel,
And the giddy stars (so legends tell),
Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
Of his voice, all mute.

Tottering above,
In her highest noon,
The enamored moon
Blushes with love,
While, to listen, the red levin
(With the rapid Pleiads, even,
Which were seven,)
Pauses in Heaven.

And they say (the starry choir
And the other listening things)
That Israfeli's fire
Is owing to that lyre
By which he sits and sings-
The trembling living wire
Of those unusual strings.

But the skies that angel trod,
Where deep thoughts are a duty-
Where Love's a grown-up God-
Where the Houri glances are
Imbued with all the beauty
Which we worship in a star.

Therefore thou art not wrong,
Israfeli, who despisest
An unimpassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong,
Best bard, because the wisest!
Merrily live, and long!

The ecstasies above
With thy burning measures suit-
Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,
With the fervor of thy lute-
Well may the stars be mute!

Yes, Heaven is thine; but this
Is a world of sweets and sours;
Our flowers are merely- flowers,
And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
Is the sunshine of ours.

If I could dwell
Where Israfel
Hath dwelt, and he where I,
He might not sing so wildly well
A mortal melody,
While a bolder note than this might swell
From my lyre within the sky.

Edgar Allen Poe, Israfel

Sunday, October 28, 2001

Catherine lives with my mother and sister, in the house that is still mine; and Eleanor and Sophie live in the apartment from which I attend school. Now, the house is nice enough, and my mother keeps it comfortable and clean, but my apartment is entered through a hallway that reeks an awful stench of rotten garbage. Certain measures have been necessary that I protect myself and my cats from that onslaught of smell – one that has been described by certain parties as that of someone’s filthy ass.

An old towel has become a “draft-dodger,” lined up with the crevice underneath my door and right outside it. The towel also barricades my home against swarms of ladybugs, spiders, flies, and a host of other pests that dwell within the hall and entreat entrance to anyone that will have them, vagabonds of the worst sort. The opened window adjacent to my door in that hallway, necessary to whittle away at the smell, makes the whole place more inviting to vermin and enables the towel to fulfill its double function most admirably.

Into an electricity outlet that hangs just inside my apartment, I have plugged a heated scent of juniper berries. Juniper pervades and envigors the area, and reminds me of she who offered me that scent in certain ways. One can even smell juniper from the hallway, fighting a valiant but doomed battle against the stench in its home front. (We may be assured that frontal assaults have not worked, unless on vastly inferior opponents, since the 1950’s in America.)

My mother gave me a jar that holds the scent of pear in a green gel, and that sits atop my kitchen counter. It plays kin to the green tub that houses my dishes as they dry – which is nearly always full; and the vague scent of the bleach I use to clean my dishes mingles with the pear. The occasional fly that penetrated my enclosure buzzes past, scouting for a bit of discarded food. If I spot him, then soon he is slain with my twin guns of Lysol and hairspray, spreading scents of “fresh linen” and one nameless but plum-like.

The stench and I stand at impasse, neither of us gaining nor losing ground. Soon, I shall speak to the management, to plead for their help in forcing my neighbors across the hall (those who I suspect created the stench) to cease their careless, unhygienic lifestyle. But, in keeping with the tradition of peacekeepers since such wars as mine began (the UN is a fine example of this), the management is formed of idiots with no regard to propriety and common sense. Like as not, they will side with my neighbors.

But my towel, it is ever-vigilant.

Saturday, October 27, 2001

Catherine, Eleanor, and Sophie. Thus have I put names to three little spectres that haunt my two homes. I suppose that they are three within a cycle: young, middle-aged, and old; and white, black, and gray. I began with the old and gray, and have ended with the young and white - no cycle controls my choice of companions. Atropos has gone clubbing, and Clotho stays at home to do the knitting.


Catherine has lived with my family since my tenth year. The neighborhood children had adopted and named her Puss 'n Boots, because of the white fur of her paws, stomach, and chest, that contrasts with the blurred lines of black and gray and brown that envelope her otherwise. We adopted her soon after, and I could have asked for no gentler friend of nearly ten years. She is already evidence of the goodness of providence.

Eleanor has served as my faulty good luck charm. My sister and father came across her four years ago while walking during the evening; she followed them home that night and the next, clearly a lonely, stray kitten, and who can refuse that? She and I took to each other immediately - I called her my good luck charm, evidence that life's difficulties were soon to dissipate. My father began consistently to lose jobs and died a half-year later; and my family's financial problems have yet to ease up. Eleanor and I are still the best of friends, however, even though she is an ugly cat, black with orange splotches (but less greasy and skinny than she used to be). I hold no ill will toward her for not fulfilling her given capacity.

Sophie - the Sophalicious Squeakster, the Sophist who argues that my face exists only to be licked by a tiny, rough, wet tongue. Not long ago she sat outside my door as I struggled to catch a few hours' sleep, and I was forced by her continuous meows to let her in the room. She began to crawl all over me and lick my face, but I needed no sleep that morning, anyway. Seal-point Siamese kittens are cute enough to receive anything they want, I suppose, even if it's to sand my face down to a nub with that damned tongue.