Persephone Abbott (photo www.vinitasalome.com)

Shlomit’s Mother

Posted on March 4, 2020

This morning the alarm, again

How many snooze minutes wuzzit?

I’m not good at math when

Busy ignoring the dawning of my day.

The cat pats my nose with her paw.

The ultimate sign, not so hygienic

Sleep extensions are officially over.

I ask her as she rubs her gums on my person:

Bathilde, do you dream of poetry?

No, of course not, she’s a pragmatic puss –

Her brain catalogues smells in odor emojis.

But I, in course of the night, unlike the cat,

Dreamt a sequence of poetry exchanges

Between myself and Shlomit’s mother.

Let me clue you in —

As part of Before Feet In Bed preparation,

I ate an orange, replacing energy lost at

A ridiculously long rehearsal for a Nozze di

Some truncated production that’s never able to

Work out the crinkles after

Four years of sporadic performances and the

Figaro, a former notary in real life, who can’t remember

The opera plot. Making me worry about

What happened before he decided to

Enter into the skin of a surly

Pedantic Figaro, rendered in hoarse baritone.

It was quite clear to me, hours later, that

My subconscious needed to devote

Its attention, breaking off from musical woes, to

A celebration of poetry with Shlomit’s mother.

I tell you

Oranges are wonderful in Israel.

You may not know this but,

Regarding my sinus infection,

Shlomit’s mother kindly drove me one morning

To consult Ariel Sharon’s old doctor

Given the minister’s health troubles, a media personality.

My friend’s mother navigated the highway signs

While she told me a Biblical story about King David.

An interaction that led us,

Even while dreaming years afterwards,

To exchange poetic notions.

Bad Bellini

Posted on December 25, 2019

Jules Deelder, the poet, died. It reminds me.

I was called up one day, one day back in the day when I lived in Rotterdam. The voice on the phone asked me if I would sing in Amsterdam and represent Rotterdam. As the Rotterdammers say “Amsterdam where is that then?” It nearly rhymes in Dutch too.

I was not an obvious representative for Rotterdam. As in I wasn’t born in Rotterdam. Or anywhere near Rotterdam. The voice on the phone told me that I was recommended by the organization of a local opera festival.

I felt flattered. It was paid. The voice on the phone wanted to show the people Amsterdam that Rotterdam had real culture by supporting a student of opera to sing something, anything, on a national holiday. Rotterdam is not known for opera singing.

The voice on the phone was from a radio station.

So I found myself in a van with two radio presenters from Rotterdam, Jules Deelder and my boyfriend, a born and bred Rotterdammer, who couldn’t believe what was happening. We drove to Amsterdam. Jules Deelder was not enthusiastic, he was pretty stoned. The radio presenters were having a blast.

We were dropped off at the Dam. “You think this will do?” The woman presenter asked me waving at the enormous stage with thousands of people cheering and yelling in front of the stage. My pianist met us at the cafe being used as a green room.

We stepped onto the stage and the woman presenter enthusiastically introduced me as Rotterdam culture and erroneously pronounced the name of my pianist as a potato chip snack. We were the warm-up act for Deelder.

A Poem

Posted on November 21, 2019

Wet Noodle

We’re playing at wet noodle

My dog and I

Because no one is watching

She threw up

I limped home after physical therapy

We can be nauseous and upset

All we want

Together as overcooked pasta

Her body glued onto mine in this chair

This is a good reality

Much better than pretending we’re fine

Someplace else

Forced to

Accommodate secret blows

Covert bashings

No holding up a false picture of bliss

Around here.

A Poem

Posted on November 15, 2019

A One Time Thing

A one time thing

I stare at your handwriting on the envelope

A one time thing

You are one year older than

And my father already dead

Gracious you, his friend, send me part of him

A one time thing

I imagine your face shadowed by your thoughts

As you wrote the address on the label

“Such beautiful handwriting,” my friend exclaimed

I feel, like you must also feel, the weight of time pressing

A one time thing

This life

Persephone Abbott

Where is the Benefit?

Posted on August 8, 2019

“Crisis.” The editor, pick any American editor on any news program or paper, wrote about the current political situation, meaning the rallies, the shootings, the hatred. Here’s the thing:  When has it been different these past 20 years?  America has been waking up to the reports of mass shootings minimally once a year, and long before the current president. It just seems to me that the lullaby of “we are getting better, reaching a less racist and violent state of national identity” sung during 2012 (Sandy Hook) 2013 (Washington Navy Yard) 2014 (Isla Vista) etc. has been turned off, and the bloody truth that racism and hatred has never gone away is becoming more obvious because of, and despite, reporting. That the flames of violence and hatred have been carefully fanned these past months, well I have to agree when I read the news, but crisis?  America has not ever not been in a crisis as far as I can see back during my lifetime. The poverty is crushing, the violence is crushing, the rich are crushing, the racism is crushing. It’s a country primed for rallies, religion and defending whatever happiness you’ve managed to get because the fear of poverty and violence is terrifying and there’s not been a complete national time of overwhelming well being enough across the vast majority of all citizens to look back and think: Why did we do it this way and what were the other options?

 

Take a look at the news:

 

Self inflicted wound: Donald Trump signs budget bill as experts warn he’s on track to add trillions to U.S. debt (USA Today Aug 2, 2019)

 

‘A tweet would be great:’ Kentucky coal miners call on Trump for support amid ongoing payment showdown. (CNN Aug 3 2019)

 

Donald Trump said he’s done more for African Americans than any president. Historians disagree, (Politifact 1 Aug 2019)

 

My anxiety levels rise immediately after I read any of these headlines. Early this week I  googled to try to find pro Trump newspaper articles for a counter view, even Fox news but there seems to be an issue between the parties as of late, and, as of Monday morning the first three pages of google didn’t produce any positive spins on the sitting president’s actions.  You might think, “Excellent.” However, the problem is those rallies continue, and people go to them regardless of what the news is saying, regardless of who the newspapers endorse for president, regardless of what basic morality would dictate, regardless of tweets, regardless. Simply regardless. And then, to boot, in support.

 

Question:  Where is the benefit of raising the national debt? Where is the benefit of not paying coal miners? Where is the benefit of claiming to bestow the most patronizing generosity over an issue of human rights?

 

But the economy is doing well, isn’t it and wasn’t there a press conference that mouthed some kind of right words?

 

 

Eye of the Potato

Posted on July 26, 2019

“You must remove the eyes from the potatoes just like you would for your own family.”

 

Good advice given to me free of charge when I was an au pair in France. Inversely though, at the time I thought I was conforming suitably to the family who was extremely parsimonious, and privileged.

 

I thought about this as I prepared some potatoes this morning.  I still feel the smart of Madame’s words, as I had imagined that her family wouldn’t waste a morsel, not a nubble bubble and chomp down on the sproutings of old potatoes with relish, piquant.  Further I had earnestly attempted to avoid the possible reprimanding for having pared off the sproutings, after all I had been subjected to the trials and tribulations of finding replacement parts to a type of clothes dryer I had never seen before, then at least twenty years old, which was rusting in corners. The hard plotted and trotted  endeavors of a British woman married to a Frenchman living in the 5eme. Madame was similar in appearance to Jane Birkin, and she took heart to her job of femme au foyer. She held tight reign over every object in the house, praised her husband’s clever homemade unlacquered saw horse tables in the unused living room, marched around Paris searching out the best price for quality. She was intensely proud of the pajamas she’d found for her daughter, which were nothing to write home about, but indeed suited the purpose.  I never thought of her or her escapades as fun, although she seemed to be having the time of her life.

 

Nowadays we have Aliexpress. I expect it would depress her. I googled, as far as I can tell she is still alive.  Her husband is somebody.  I googled, present tense. He is the main cheese, and she carries the spuds home in her shopping trolley. I imagine she still has the same trolley, lovingly patched and cleaned.

 

I keep busy, paring potatoes, and a manuscript which I wrote some time ago but I am currently reworking.  I find it fun and I am about three fourths done towards a good working draft to be read.

 

After rehearsal in the center this morning, I thought: Maybe I should go look at something, something for the house, for whatever, agoodamadingy, what do I need?  I couldn’t think of anything to save money on, so I went home and made plans to lie on the floor with my cat and dog, because it’s riotously warm – three days long on day three – and think about my novel.

The Tall Thin Woman

Posted on September 16, 2018

I saw her at the ballet. Heading towards the ladies’ room, I quickly joined the queue.  We didn’t speak, just eyed each other over then avoided further interaction. I don’t like her, and as I write this I ask myself if that’s a true statement, because I don’t know her well, at least not personally. I generally tend to like people, or let people ride out their fantasies of who they think they are at whatever moment in time, with natural deviations, over time of course, because it’s all fine by me. So let’s simply say I have an aversion to her. And she to me. I wasn’t that surprised to see her at the ballet, although I never noticed her at the ballet on any earlier occasion.  She’s thin and tall, so I can see why she’d be drawn to the ballet.

 

It’s just that her office hangs full of fat things, which I have found surprising for a thin woman, who obviously has cashed in on her lean looks and authoritative bearing. On prominent display on her office wall is a large oil painting full of obese people. As in all the human figures in the painting resemble pigs. Pigs with ties, pigs with hats, round buttocks bobbing, matching flushed cheeks under bulging eyes, and there she is in her office with her black wad of hair, pale face, long and thin, sporting high heels. The thing is, I was saying to myself after the intermission, if she had practiced ballet she would not be wearing those heels what with bunions.  She wears heels all the time.  It’s her look, and she only has one look: short skirts, fitted jacket and heels. “The stairs are way too slippery.”  She stated in a building meeting to discuss the renovations, noting that it wasn’t good for her choice of shoe apparel, insinuating that we must approve of her coquettish mannerisms.  I do not believe that anyone in that meeting remotely sympathized with her, even when she batted her large eyes at our group pleading for support.

 

“I firmly believe everyone can be a leader.”  She said this on the next occasion to a small number of people assembled around her, all admiring her lanky form.  In her office. A fat juicy tit sculpture, a multi-colored nipple revealed itself  on a pedestal in the background. What is it, I asked myself, watching this scene, is it that she’s the modern definition of attractiveness and success without, as fashion dictates, the earthy pulp so she decorates her office with pudgy people parts?  The brochure to her office is full of pulp. “What can you offer as a leader to make a difference?” A large screen above, a block clogging the window area.  I shudder every time I see it, because of the time I was there for another building meeting on a Friday after office hours, and the screen was playing strategic propaganda in the background. “That they allow those obsolete cars on the road! I drive a Jaguar.” She cooed to her little crowd.  Nothing was accomplished at that meeting.

 

At the ballet I searched around me to see where she was sitting. (I had a better seat.) In the orchestra. Her husband accompanied her, and he was decked out in a wide checked suit. It made him look fat. It’s not that she doesn’t have taste, it’s more of Dare to Have Taste kind of taste which is not particularly tasteful.  Loud, yes. Take, for instance, the floor tiles in her office. Totally out of proportion with the building.  The tiles bug me each time I see them, pulling the room apart.

 

I imagine the next time I run into her in the hallway with no place to escape, she might be piqued to inquire, “I didn’t know you like the ballet.” Then I am supposed to defend myself I suppose, because her tone would be belittling, and I probably would retort back, “What were you doing there then?”

 

Yes, it’s at that low level. Just because she complained, at her very first occasion to attend a building meeting, about people smoking outside the building, and suddenly turned directly to me, short and not thin peon to be used and abused, and without any sign of factual insight attacked, “I take it that you are a smoker.” I, unsparingly, gave her a long dirty look.

Walking the Dog or Rather Sitting with the Dog

Posted on August 30, 2018

I have an old dog. We don’t travel anymore. But we go to the park. I push her there in her stroller, then we sit on a bench together. We spent most everyday of the summer in the park. I took selfies of me and my dog on the park bench and posted them on Facebook. People got bored with my Facebook page.  Where was the glory? Then at the end of August I created a “My Summer 2018”  photo album. Hardly anyone liked it.

I wrote a poem about being in the park with my dog, then I re-wrote it as a rap song, and finally I made a sonnet of it.  I enjoyed myself and I would like to share my dog owner poems.

1. Lunchtime

Took the dog out
To our usual park bench
We sat in front of
The tired hydrangea altar
Dreaming of discovering
Pink frosted petit fours
Among the fallen leaves.

2. L-nCHtyme

Took the dog out
After a little rain bout
To our usual park bench
You know we both be wench
We sat in front of
The tired hydrangea altar
Not waiting for time to falter
Dreaming of discovering
Pink frosted petit fours
Baker’s dozen baby open all the doors
I said ALL the…..
Among the fallen leaves
Barely moving in the breeze.

 3. Lunchtime 4+4 and top up 2

Gentle August, fine day of fading summer under grey noon
Nourishing promises we made slow way along the garden mat
The sycamore trees tall and green, their shade merry boon,
On our small company, uncompromised, and equal to dancing gnat

The park so tendered, slow we wandered from blossomed to flowered tree
An age of decent history, without poignant pill nor sweet decay
As the dear four-footer near to me, her nose ash black as twitches the bee
At last we reached the wooden host, our great delight in short term stay.

A bench well grounded, and glanced, from our repose together,
Upon the established altar, hydrangea row before the swaying water’s edge
With dried heads so hanging mauve so pale, the brown stalks without great tether
Taken in charge before Persephone’s festive entrance, the wondrous portent bearing hedge

To each our thoughts sunk in great care, towards that sacred table, under where
We might find small distraction, a dislodged pastry – pink cakey frosted fare.