The White Fires of Venus
By Denis Johnson
We mourn this senseless planet of regret,
droughts, rust, rain, cadavers
that can't tell us, but I promise
you one day the white fires
of Venus shall rage: the dead,
feeling that power, shall be lifted, and each
of us will have his resurrected one to tell him,
"Greetings. You will recover
or die. The simple cure
for everything is to destroy
all the stethoscopes that will transmit
silence occasionally. The remedy for loneliness
is in learning to admit
solitude as one admits
the bayonet: gracefully,
now that already
it pierces the heart.
Living one: you move among many
dancers and don't know which
you are the shadow of;
you want to kiss your own face in the mirror
but do not approach,
knowing you must not touch one
like that. Living
one, while Venus flares
O set the cereal afire,
O the refrigerator harboring things
that live on into death unchanged."
They know all about us on Andromeda,
they peek at us, they see us
in this world illumined and pasteled
phonily like a bus station,
they are with us when the streets fall down fraught
with laundromats and each of us
closes himself in his small
San Francisco without recourse.
They see you with your face of fingerprints
carrying your instructions in gloved hands
trying to touch things, and know you
for one despairing, trying to touch the curtains,
trying to get your reflection mired in alarm tape
past the window of this then that dark
closed business establishment.
The Andromedans hear your voice like distant amusement park music
converged on by ambulance sirens
and they understand everything.
They're on your side. They forgive you.
I want to turn for a moment to those my heart loves,
who are as diamonds to the Andromedans,
who shimmer for them, lovely and useless, like diamonds:
namely, those who take their meals at soda fountains,
their expressions lodged among the drugs
and sunglasses, each gazing down too long
into the coffee as though from a ruined balcony.
O Andromedans they don't know what to do
with themselves and so they sit there
until they go home where they lie down
until they get up, and you beyond the light years know
that if sleeping is dying, then waking
is birth, and a life
is many lives. I love them because they know how
to manipulate change
in the pockets musically, these whose faces the seasons
never give a kiss, these
who are always courteous to the faces
of presumptions, the presuming streets,
the hotels, the presumption of rain in the streets.
I'm telling you it's cold inside the body that is not the body,
lonesome behind the face
that is certainly not the face
of the person one meant to become.
Adventure! Excitement! A Jedi craves not these things! And neither should you if you are reading this entry because there's no excitement here! My lunch date couldn't make it, my older son brought a friend home so the house was noisy, and there's just not much to report. I did write a review of "The Measure of a Man", possibly the greatest Next Generation episode of all, and took younger son to the local high school to pick up the oranges his middle school's band sold as a fundraiser, and lugged a gigantic box of oranges from the van to my parents' kitchen, and put my own box of oranges out on the deck where it was nice and cool till my husband got home so he could tell me whether the bowl of what appears to be yellow puke in one of the crisper drawers was some science project as opposed to something he stuck in there and never got rid of. (It's gone now. At some point it was apparently a component of some elaborate cookie batter that never got finished.)
Poor Richard Leigh! I think he sued Dan Brown because now, instead of the first line of his obituary reading "...author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail," his obituary reads "author of one of the books that inspired The Da Vinci Code." (I know, I should be more concerned about Evel Knievel or the arrests in the Sean Taylor shooting or the hostage crisis at the Clinton campaign, not to mention the fact that the state of Kansas is about to ensure that no woman in the US who needs a late-term abortion to protect her life or health will be able to get one, but it's Friday night and my brain is not going there.)
1. What do you resent? That my husband and kids can eat as many chocolate chip cookies as they want and not gain wait, and I can't.
2. What is your most recent occupation? Freelance writer.
3. What are you presently wearing? A beige cardigan, black stretch jeans, black fuzzy socks.
4. What presents have you bought? Lots of penguins for one son, lots of video games for other son, lots of music and comic related things for husband.
5. Whose presence would you enjoy tonight? My grandmother's.
thefridayfive: Pointing Things Out
1. What's the most strange thing anyone has ever pointed out to you? That my cat Rosie looks like Condoleezza Rice.
2. What's the most obvious thing anyone has ever pointed out to you? That I look like my father.
3. What's the most miserable thing anyone has ever pointed out to you? That I really can't sing.
4. What's the most extraordinary thing anyone has ever pointed out to you? The Andromeda galaxy.
5. What's the greatest thing that anyone has ever pointed out to you? My not-yet-born baby sucking his thumb on an ultrasound.
These are African pygmy falcons. (I've posted pictures of these two before.)
A big sleepy seal.
My kids and nieces watching the sea lions chasing each other in the water.
An equally sleepy sloth bear.
And some of the now-grown-up cheetah cubs.
Like a dork I watched the Flash Gordon fall finale...had intended to ignore it, but it had evil witches possessing other people's bodies and hurling fireballs and stuff. *g* Baylin's comment on Dale hurling fireballs: "I had not known her to have balls before." And saying she doesn't understand women! I love Baylin. And in general I love how everyone on the show always looks like they're having a good time, particularly while being villainous. I'm curious, because Sci-Fi advertises this as "their" show but the entire cast is Canadian...did Sci-Fi have anything to do with the production, or did they just buy the series from a Canadian producer? Anyway, any series that plays Sarah McLachlan at dramatic moments and causes my entire family to exclaim, "Put Edwina back in bowl!" when someone's soul is out of her body (All of Me reference) has already justified its existence as far as I'm concerned.
And then we watched SGA, which was amazing. Emmy-caliber stuff from David Hewlett level amazing, and I'm not even a Rodney fan. I don't even know if I'm at all an Atlantis fan, because I loved seeing the team on Earth and was kind of disappointed when they went back to the Pegasus Galaxy. And I know there are people who get off on the dark, horrible stuff like the ending of this one, John refusing to let Rodney sacrifice himself and then talking the guy who infected Rodney's sister into doing just that, which I really do not -- it made me want to watch "The Measure of a Man" all over again -- but it was so well done this time out, no gratuitous Wraith horror stuff, and such wonderful dialogue especially between Rodney and his sister who calls him Nancy Drew and tells him he had better marry Katie because he's no John Sheppard! (I also loved Rodney trying to kick the unlocked door in a la Charlie Brown with Lucy holding the football.) I wonder why I just don't feel it with this show...I can admire it on occasion and there are characters I really like, but it doesn't hit my fandom bone.