Eccles Centre Visiting Fellow in North American Studies at the British Library

I’ve been awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the Eccles Centre for North American Studies at the British Library. Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowships are intended to help support scholars wishing to visit London to use the British Library’s collections relating to North America and are basically a rare book and old map lover’s dream come true.

the region of Atlantic Canada where I was born
the region of Atlantic Canada where I was born, in Champlain’s map of 1607

I am applied for an Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowship in order to undertake further research into the writing (and erasing) of Atlantic Canadian coastlines toward the publication of a monograph tentatively titled ‘Writing Coastlines: On the Composition of Atlantic Canada’.

By ‘Writing Coastlines’ I refer both to cartographic and textual writing about coastlines, and to the writing and erasing of physical coastlines through erosion and accretion, wave actions and storm events. Rather than presenting a historiographical narrative in which the coastlines of the ‘New World’ emerge through a linear progression of discoveries, I aim to frame the writing of these coastlines as an ongoing compositional process. To demonstrate this argument, I intend to draw upon a wide variety cartographic, archival, and literary materials held at the British Library, with an emphases on foundation documents of Canadian history produced in England and France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

This research will build upon portions of my recently completed PhD thesis, Writing Coastlines: Locating Narrative Resonance in Transatlantic Communications Networks. During this research I made extensive use of the Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Maps collections at the British Library. This Visiting Fellowship will allow me to spend more time with the documents I have already consulted and, critically, will allow me to identify and study secondary sources including lesser-known maps, sea charts, ship’s logs, cosmographies, diaries, letters, arguments, treatises, and discourses for discovery. Through a comparative cartographic and textual analysis of these material texts I aim to show how the coastlines of Atlantic Canada have been written and re-written, drawn and re-drawn, formed and transformed, altered and erased by successive generations of fishers, sailors, explorers, settlers, soldiers, captains, navigators, cartographers, politicians, journalists, and literary authors. These coastlines have been composed through centuries of dead-reckoning, careful surveying, and sounding, as well as less than perfect navigation and charting techniques; through willful misrepresentation of dangers and distances; through the transposition of European place and family names onto places which already had names, whether assigned by earlier explorers or by native peoples; through subsequent mishearings, misspellings, translations, and adaptations of these names over the course of centuries of habitation; and though literary re-imaginings of first encounters with the natives, animals, and climatic conditions of these coasts.

During the Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowship I will begin work on a new chapter, ‘Arguments to Prove a Passage,’ focused on distortions of Atlantic Canadian coastlines perpetrated in material texts written to elicit support for voyages Northwestward, traces of these voyages written in place names (Davis Inlet, etc), and arguments made to prove a Northeast Passage.

Faculty for In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge residency program at The Banff Centre

I am very much looking forward to serving as the digital literature faculty member for the second In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge residency program set to take place at The Banff Centre 13-15 February 2012. This ground-breaking residency fosters new writing practices, including digital literature, collaboration, new narrative, and performance. Participants work independently, with faculty and with each other to develop new or current work; meet, network, and learn from like-minded artist in a community of diverse practices and projects. Given the hybrid, collaborative, inter-, cross-, multi- nature of the In(ter)ventions program, faculty areas of specialization tend to overlap, criss-cross and contrast in all sorts of exciting and unexpected ways. This year we will be:

Program Director: Steven Ross Smith
Faculty: Fred Wah – New poetics, collaboration. J. R. Carpenter – Digital Literature, new narrative. Steve Tomasula – New formality, Multi-media.
Invited Speakers: Brian Kim Stefans – Transliteracy, Hybridity. D. Kimm – Performance, Cross-genre, Multi-disciplinarity

In(ter)ventions 2011 guest speakers Oana and Erin
In(ter)ventions 2011 Invited Speakers included Debra Di Blasi, Daren Wershler, and the brilliant and really very funny Oana Avasilichioaei and Erin Moure, pictured above. The incredible diversity of the participants makes this program both thrilling and unique. Work produced by In(ter)ventions 2011 participants included (but was certainly not limited to): an inter-linked Mobius strip narrative, a Jello-letter alphabet, a criti-fiction quasi-biography in two columns, a sound art performance, a needlepoint embroidery, a video mashup, a powerpoint annimation by Erin Robinsong, pictured below, and a group chap book.

Erin Robinsong

The application deadline for In(ter)ventions 2012 is: November 15, 2011

Activities during the residency include one-on-one sessions with individual faculty members to discuss your work, as well as group discussions, presentations, and performances. Group discussions explore issues with new practices and may include philosophical or critical thinking, aesthetic issues, demonstrations, technical issues, and more. Performances may occur in informal or formal settings, as The Banff Centre can offer everything from professionally-staffed theatre venues of various sizes, to small meeting rooms for informal presentations — all venues are fully technically-enabled. Recording facilities are also available.

Participants are housed in single rooms that also serve as their private work spaces. Writers should bring their own computers or laptops, as well as software, if they wish to use a computer on a full-time basis in their rooms. A PC and a Macintosh computer are available for general email and printing purposes. Photocopying services are available at several public locations, free wireless internet access is available throughout the campus, and a staggering range of books, artist’s book, videos, sound recordings and other rare and wonderful archival materials are available at The Banff Centre library, aka the Paul D. Fleck Library & Archives.

The In(ter)ventions program is designed for writers (both published and yet-to-be published) and performers with an interest in exploring the expanding frontiers of the writing practice. If you are seeking a opportunity to interact with peers and leading creators in the fields of digital and collaborative literature and new writing, while having dedicated time to develop a specific project, this residency is for you. Applications from writers/artists with experience in the field, as well as those interested in exploring literary practice at the edge for the first time are welcomed to apply by November 15, 2011

For more information about the program, including information about facilities, faculty bios, program fees and online application forms, please visit: In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge

Electronic Literature Lo-fi Style: Where is it? What is it? How does it work?

This informal information session and hands-on workshop led by current Struts Open Studio artist in residence J. R. Carpenter will offer an introduction to the hybrid genre of electronic literature. Using examples from her recent work, J.R. will show how to remix and recycle found code to create new stories, poems and animations. Participants will create a short fiction generator together. A list of links to venues, journals and galleries publishing and exhibiting electronic literature will be offered, for your future reading pleasure. No programming skills required! No special equipment necessary. Bring a laptop if you have one. Bring a pen. Bring a friend.

Electronic Literature Lo-fi Style

Thursday , June 16, 2011, 7PM FREE
Struts Gallery, 7 Lorne Street, Sackville, NB

J. R. Carpenter has been using the internet as a medium for the creation and dissemination of non-linear narratives since 1993. She also makes zines, novels, maps, walks, photographs and performances of various kinds. More information about her projects can be found on her website:

Locating Struts Gallery: It’s Somewhere Near Sackville, New Brunswick, on the Tintemar River, in Arcadia, Nouvelle France

In preparation for an upcoming five-week stint as artist-in-residence at Struts Gallery May 22 – June 25, 2011, I have been doing some remote location research. The noun location refers both to a physical place (site), and to the act of locating that place. The verb location refers to the identification or discovery a place or location. The location exists before it is located. The act of location sets, fixes and establishes the location’s position, which is to say, provides a context for place. Location may be assigned by measurement, by survey, by knowledge, or by opinion. I locate the following act of locating Struts Gallery within the discourse of residency. Because knowing where you’re going is not a prerequisite for travel. But knowing where you are arriving is helpful for staying.

Struts Gallery is located at 7 Lorne Street, Sackville, New Brunswick, the Maritimes, Atlantic Canada, Canada, North America, the Northern Hemisphere, the Western Hemisphere, the Western World, the G8, the G20, the Earth, the Solar System, the Milky Way, the Universe, etc.

The town of Sackville is located in Westmorland County, on the southern part of the Isthmus of Chignecto, which joins the peninsula of Nova Scotia to mainland New Brunswick. Sackville was first known as Pre des Bourgs and the surrounding region as Beaubassin by the Acadians who settled there in 1672. Pre des Bourgs, Beaubassin, Acadie, Nouvelle France, the New World, the Earth (which is round), the Solar System (which revolves around the Sun), etc.

According to Wikipedia the Beaubassin seigneury, granted in 1684, was named after Michael Leneuf de Beaubassin the elder (1640–1705), an officer in the French Navy who seized three English vessels from Boston that were taking on coal at Cape Breton. Beaubassin is a place named after a person named after a place, a location located withing the discourse of residency. Cape Breton is a place named in passing. According to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, in a letter dated 8 July 1524, Giovanni da Verrazzano “records the earliest geographical and topographical description of a continuous North Atlantic coast of America derived from a known exploration.” In the world map drawn by his brother Gerolamo da Verrazzano in 1529, the “land which the Britanni (Britons) found” is named Cape Breton.


Gerolamo da Verrazzano, 1529, Vatican Museum. Photo: J. R. Carpenter, 2011

The naming of Cape Breton is relevant to the locating of Sackville because Sackville (Pres des Bourges) was once, and some would argue still is, in the heart of Acadie. According to Andrea di Robilant, the name Acadia may also be attributed to the Verrazzano brothers:

“Some linguists say the place name [Acadia] was derived from caddie/quoddie, a word used by native tribes to designate a fertile region. But others say it is not derived from a native term at all and that it was introduced into the language by Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524: while sailing north of Chesapeake Bay, he called the coastal region Arcadia because it brought to his mind the pristine beauty of mythical Arcadia… Then the r was dropped when Verrazzano’s diaries were transcribed, and Arcadia because Acadia or Acadie, as the French possessions along the coast of Canada were known.”

Andrea di Robilant (2011) Venetian Navigators: The Voyages of the Zen Brothers to the Far North, London: Faber & Faber


Girolamo Ruscelli, “Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo Alessandrino Tradotta di Greco nell’Idioma Volgare Italiano da Girolamo Ruscelli,” published in Venice in 1561.

Italian brothers sailing for France give an ancient Greek name for a mythological place to a coast seen from a ship. In this act they (re)locate a previously existing (and thus, presumably, previously named) location within the discourse of Nouvelle France. Variations of Verrazzano’s map were widely reproduced throughout the sixteenth century, with new place names added as they were discovered and altered as territorial ambitions grew. By the sixth edition of Ruscelli’s Geografia, published in 1598, Nova Francia has been clearly etched in above larcadia, though the first permanent French settlement in North America was not founded by Champlain and Des Monts until six years later.


Girolamo Ruscelli, “Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo Alessandrino Tradotta di Greco nell’Idioma Volgare Italiano da Girolamo Ruscelli,” published in Venice in 1598.

The French settlement at Port Royal was much further north than the stretch of coast the Verrazzano brothers had likened to Arcadia. Yet throughout the Voyages of Samuel de Champlain, published 1612, the name La Cadie is loosely used to refer to any French territory, most of which were also “fertile regions” – in the summer, at least.

“De Monts had obtained from Henry IV., though contrary to the advice of his most influential minister, a charter constituting him the king’s lieutenant in La Cadie, with all necessary and desirable powers for a colonial settlement. The grant included the whole territory lying between the 4Oth and 46th degrees of north latitude. Its southern boundary was on a parallel of Philadelphia, while its northern was on a line extended due west from the most easterly point of the Island of Cape Breton, cutting New Brunswick on a parallel near Fredericton, and Canada near the junction of the river Richelieu and the St. Lawrence.”

Samuel de Champlain, Voyages of Samuel de Champlain, Vol. 1: 1567-1635, translated from French by Charles Pomeroy Otis, Ph.D., Boston, November 10, 1880

Could Sackville be said to have roots in Arcadia? It is hard to say. The concept of Arcadia has always been a shifting one. The people who come to settle in La Cadie – a place named after another place named after a mythological place – become a people of La Cadie by dint of their residency in it. I will not become an Acadian by dint of a five-week stint as artist-in-residence at Struts Gallery. When the British expelled the Acadians from Acadie in 1755, their name became their nation and travelled with them. The meaning of all the named locations left behind changed.


The Acadia movie theatre in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, home of Acadia University,formerly, my home town. J. R. Carpenter, 2008.

The region formerly known as Beaubassin is now called Tantramar. Sackville, New Brunswick, is located on a tributary of the Tantramar River, which feeds the Tantramar Marsh, which spreads inland from the Bay of Fundy for 10 kilometres. On a chart in Joseph Des Barres’s Atlantic Neptune, published 1776, the Tantramar River is called the Tintamar. Tintamar is a Spanish word, meaning red sea. A Spanish name makes no sense given the history of this place. But the name Red Sea does. The Tantramar River flows into the Cumberland Basin which flows into Chignecto Bay which in turn flows into the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world. When the tide goes out, it goes way out and keeps on going. It leaves behind salt marsh, salt hay thriving in hard, rich, sticky, red soil, and beyond that, red mud flats glistening mile after mile.

Elisabeth Bishop describes a similar scene in her 1953 short story, In the Village. The village in question is Great Village, Nova Scotia, 100 kilometres south of Sackville, New Brunswick. The Great Village river flows into Cobequid Bay, which empties into Minas Basin which meets up with Chignecto Bay in the Bay of Fundy.

“There are the tops of all the elm trees in the village and there, beyond them, the long green marshes, so fresh, so salt. The the Minas Basin, with the tide halfway in or out, the wet red mud glazed with sky blue until it meets the creeping lavender-red water… W are in the “Maritimes” but all that means is that we live by the sea.”

Elizabeth Bishop, “In the Village,” The Collected Prose, FSG, page 264.

Sitting in the British Library, in far away London, poring over massive first edition volumes of Des Barres’s Atlantic Neptune, it is possible to entertain for a moment the idea that the name Tantramar is derived from the Spanish word Tintamar, assigned to that red mud glazed with sky by a cartographer of Spanish origin perhaps, or one who had previously written the coastlines of Spanish dominions.

More mundane research methods return equally fanciful results. Tintamar was most likely a miss-hearing. According to Wikipedia, the name Tantramar is derived from the Acadian French tintamarre, meaning ‘din’ or ‘racket’, a reference to the noisy flocks of birds which feed there. The marshes are an important stopover for migrating waterfowl such as semi-palmated Sandpipers and Canada Geese. Today the marshes are the site of two bird sanctuaries.

A walkway wending through the waterfowl sanctuary in the Tantramar Marsh near Struts Gallery, Sackville, New Brunswick, Acadia, Arcadia, Nova Francia. Photo: J. R. Carpenter, 2009

So far all my research suggests that Struts is located at the end of this walkway and the best way to get there is to walk this way.

On the Internet, Struts is located at:

In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge Residency at The Banff Centre

It’s plus 12 degrees Celsius in south west England. Snow drops in blossom in the glade along the drive. Lambs frolicking in green fields. And I’m preparing to depart for Banff, Alberta where the high today was minus 14 and the white is not blossom but snow. Why? Why, for the love of literature of course. And, for the love of mountains.

I’m thrilled to be returning to Banff once again, this time to serve as faculty for In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge, an new residency offered by Literary Arts at The Banff Centre February 14, 2011 – February 26, 2011.

Fred Wah – collaboration and hybridity
J. R. Carpenter – digital literature
Lance Olsen – new narrative

Guest Speakers:
Oana Avasilichioaei
Debra Di Blasi
Erin Moure
Darren Wershler

I’ll be performing along side Darren Wershler and Lance Olsen at The Club, Theatre Complex at The Banff Centre Thursday, February 17, 2011 – 7:30 pm. [more info]


In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge: a residency program specializing in new writing practices at The Banff Centre

I am thrilled to announce, support, facilitate, encourage applications to and endorse in every way this ground-breaking new residency program offered by The Banff Centre. In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge offers a rare opportunity to writers specializing in new writing practices, including digital literature, collaboration, hybridity and new narrative to meet each other, to exchange ideas and influences across genre boundaries and to research and develop new and ongoing work.

In(ter)ventions Residency

This residency emerges from and aims to build upon the many conversations, connections, debates, exchanges, challenges and questions raised at In(ter)ventions — Literary Practice At The Edge: A Gathering held at The Banff Centre in February 2010. I had the great good fortune to be involved in the planning of that event. In December 2008, Steven Ross Smith – Director of Literary Arts at The Banff Centre – invited Marjorie Perloff, Lance Olsen, Fred Wah and me to Banff for a three-day think tank on bringing new practices to the the Literary Arts program. The incredible diversity of practice, knowledge and experience at that table was both humbling and exhilarating. It has been wonderful watching the many names, works, issues and ideas from a vast array of literary practices we discussed coalesce into, first, a dreamboat conference agenda and now, this new residency.

In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge is accepting applications until November 15, 2010. The program will run from February 14, 2011 – February 26, 2011. Successful applicants will receive up to %60 funding. Technological, reflective, and collective resources will be available as needed. Guest speakers will be presented. Resident writers will work with faculty to develop new or current work.

Faculty: Fred Wah – collaboration and hybridity, J. R. Carpenter – digital literature, Lance Olsen – new narrative

Guest speakers: Debra Di Blasi, Darren Wershler, Erin Moure and Oana Avasilichioae

Application deadline: November 15, 2010
Program dates: February 14, 2011 – February 26, 2011
Participants should plan to arrive in Banff on Sunday, February 13, 2011, and depart on Sunday, February 27, 2011.
For more information and to apply: In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge

privacy being of the utmost importance

I wonder if Jonathan Ames is any relation to Elizabeth Ames, first Executive Director of Yaddo, who’s house I’m living in at the moment. Jonathan Ames’s novel, Wake Up, Sir! is set at an artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, New York. He calls his not even thinly disguised Yaddo The Rose Colony. Katrina Trask loved roses, as manifest in rose colours, carvings, windows and sconces all over the mansion, and, of course, Yaddo’s famous rose gardens, open to the public in season.

“The track and the colony were on Union Avenue, and separating the two was a stretch of dense forest, and in the middle of these woods was the rather secretive entrance to the Rose, privacy being of the utmost importance for artists, since you don’t want the tax-paying public to know about the creative process – how much napping and procrastinating are involved – because otherwise what little funding there is would be cut immediately.” Jonathan Ames, Wake Up, Sir!

Apparently the entrance to Yaddo was originally just south of the track on Nelson Ave. It’s now east of the track on Union. Opps! Pay no attention, tax-paying public. You didn’t hear that from me.

. . . . .

frozen in time

We were given a tour of the Yaddo mansion yesterday. It’s closed in the winter, mostly because it’s impossible to heat. We tramped through the great hall, the dining hall, the few fabulous rooms, and the plethora of servants quarters, where most of the writers are housed. The beds wrapped in ghostly plastic, our high-spirited pretend-haunted voices echoing down the empty corridors, our breath chasing, gauzy white as one of Katrina Trask’s gowns; all fifty-five rooms frozen in time, we were just plain frozen.

“One can imagine the whole scene; the chill in the countless rooms, the dry fountain in the atrium, the baptismal fonts and the throne chairs covered with sheets.” John Cheever, A Century At Yaddo

Whenever I quote Cheever on Yaddo I feel compelled to balance things out with a word from my friend Camilo, a past guest of Yaddo, who may well terminate our correspondence once he figures out that I’m pillaging his old emails for raw material. I can’t resist. Camilo, like me, is not an American and his descriptions share some of my semi-detached pot-colonial train-wreck fascination with the American Empire:

“The mansion itself, which we visited today, is an impressive scenario of ghostly splendour and opulence. It is a most intriguing and enticing space, tinged with history and everywhere you turn there is another famous name. The people who come here are the cultural “over-achievers” of this country and you hear places like Yale and Harvard being thrown around, but really a good and affable environment, where you meet wonderful people and put on the pounds like a criminal.”

Speaking of over-achievers, here is Flannery O’Connor circa 1948 in Katrina Trask’s “Tower Room” which many people think of as Truman Capote’s room. I was in it yesterday (see above photo) but no-one calls it J. R. Carpenter’s room.

To review the Yaddo pre-history: After fighting in the American Revolutionary War Battle of Saratoga Campaign in 1777, Jacobus Barhyte builds a tavern on this site and runs it successfully for the rest of his life. The Barhytes are buried on the grounds. 1856, Dr. Richard S. Childs moves the tavern and builds and ornate Italianate Late Victorian Queen Anne Villa on the site. By 1871 he’s in financial ruin and the villa sits abandoned for ten years. 1881, the Trasks rent the Childs place for a summer get-away. In her Chronicles of Yaddo our benefactress Katrina Trask writes:

“One morning in the late autumn of 1881, I sat in the desolate hall of the hideous old house which we had rented and occupied for five months… It mattered not at all that there were no comforts, not even running water; that the broken locks, open doors and every possible inconvenience tried our patience – if we allowed ourselves to think about them; all that was but as the dust of a high mountain road…”

Katrina’s longwinded, for a poet, but you get the idea: it was a hideous house. It burned down in 1891. An accident? Or a stroke of luck… Either way, the Trasks rebuilt immediately, completing the present mansion in 1893. The fireplace in the great hall sports a Tiffany mosaic of a phoenix rising from the ashes.

The Latin inscription reads:

flammis invicta per ignem Yaddo ad resurgo pacem

Our mansion, as I like to think of the present house, was modeled on Haddon Hall in Derbyshire. One problem with building an Elizabethan English country house in upstate New York is how much colder it is here. And hotter! In the summer, writers toil away to the whirr of electric fans like in the olden days, or, like how we do in Montreal, without any air conditioning.

I doubt I’m cut out for the social strain of a high summer season stay in the mansion, but I know I’ll apply one day. I’m just too curious a person. No matter how small a garret I am granted, no matter how loud it is, no matter how hot the days and bat infested and debauched the nights, and no matter little work I get done, I’d like join the fray just once so I can write about it after. I’m sure there’s a story lurking in every corner. Take this still life, for example. At least a thousand words.

. . . . .

Leaving Banff

leaving is hard
especially people and places you love
especially early in the morning

driving away from mountains is hard too
even after you stop looking over your shoulder
they’re still there in the back of your head

there’s nothing fun about an airport
except arriving at your departure gate and
hearing and the half-forgotten accents of home

on the plane I sat next to a guy who had never flown before
he was older, anxious, without English, hands scared, arms brown
and the whole flight I tried to look at everything as if I’d never seen if before

flying over Montréal I spotted our apartment
easy to do as there’s a large, green, copper-domed church near us
and even from the air I could see the Portuguese football fans going crazy

my husband met me at the baggage claim
the baggage took its sweet time, still on mountain time
but all that standing around was nice after four hours on the plane

my mother-in-law is an expert in not paying for parking
brandishing an out-of-date handicap parking pass at the police
she circles the airport, idles in the bus and the taxi-only zones

which is right where we found her, my husband manoeuvring my luggage,
and my dog! panting and drooling and shedding and wagging in the backseat
best of all the welcome-home surprises

between the airport and home
between the dog and the French and the high heat and humidity
we nearly died three times in old-lady related driving incidents

dropping down from Little Italy into Mile End
football fan flags festooned every apartment’s balcony and
my mother-in-law asked me if I missed Saint-Urbain street

even though my husband says I came home on the loudest day of the summer so far
to sick sticky heat and the stink of smog and moving-day mounds of garbage
yeah, I said, I missed Saint-Urbain street a lot

cars honked by with girls leaning out the window waving Portuguese flags
and July first moving-day vans parked at traffic-snarling angles
and in-between families lived out dramas on sidewalks and steps

I forgot how many books I have
and how many hot outfits and cool shoes
and what it’s like to drink vodka fresh from the freezer

we drank martinis from martini glasses
and ate fried calamari from the Terrasse Lafayette
and my husband caught me up on the neighbourhood gossip

the old Greek lady next door got thrown out after twenty-three years
all the while I was away she was packing unloading crap on my husband
now our apartment is full of old textbooks, floral bed sheets and fresh mint

the tacky Anglo girls that have the back-balcony across from ours
have taken to inviting two loud, shirtless Latino boys over
whenever their boyfriends go away for the weekend

our landlord, who lives downstairs,
has divided half his yard into a parking lot and
we’re excited because at least it’s not a swimming pool

while I was away my dog puked in my studio so many times that
my husband threw out huge piles of my stuff and now that it’s gone
I can’t imagine what I was keeping it for

despite this, in case I haven’t mentioned it already,
my dog is the cutest, sweetest, best-behaved dog ever
who snores, and cuddles, and is afraid of thunder

leaving is hard, but coming home is good
and, in case I haven’t mentioned it already,
my husband is the best person I know

. . . . .

The Loudest Room

We live in the loudest room.
Our walls are made of sudden noises.
Other people’s showers rain down on us.
Far off phones ring extra loud so we can hear them.
People will talk to a telephone about just about anything.
All the doors travel down the hall to shut near our door.
Our door is in love with the door next door.
The door next door posted private information about us on the Internet.
Now everyone knows there’s a shortcut right though our room.
Outside voices don’t wipe their feet when they come in.
Pieces of passing conversations hang out in our closet.
Housekeeping knocks through the wall to give us fresh towels.
The window is too small to let a breeze through.
But large enough to let the construction crew through.
And the laundry truck’s full arsenal of beeps and groans.
The security guards have top-secret meetings at our desk.
They use up all the coffee whitener and leave the seat up.
The jazz musicians think we think they’re entertaining.
We see through them, passing practice off as serenade.
We don’t know why they need to rehearse.
All they do is improvise.
And hog the bed.
A tenor sax warms up near our heads.
A standing bass strings us along.
We live in suspense, in the loudest room.
Suspended in sleepless animation.
. . . . .