Persephone Abbott (photo

Pandemic Post 1

Posted on September 1, 2020

At first, starting back in March, I noted everything I did down meticulously in my large (paper) agenda. The agenda I especially decorated, snappy stickers plus extra paper taped in for me to jot my random observations and scraggly scrawls, bits of poems.   August 31:  I opened my agenda and saw that I had entirely skipped the month, four weeks of blankness greeted me.  

I am not one of the people that went crazy during lock down in the Netherlands. I organized shopping, leaving my apartment once a fortnight to gather and forage supplies.  I realized that here was my chance to become my own personal trainer and get to the root of my coordination problems (and by doing so eliminate the possibility that I would drown my overweight self in my own lungs which was the perceived threat at the beginning of the pandemic). I got through another edit of my novel. It quickly got returned to me and I am in the stages of another edit of the same novel.  My fantasy is that I will get this last big edit finished by the time The Vaccination Van parks in my street. However, after carefully exploring my muscle functions these past five months, I have managed to lose some excess weight. So there’s some of that done.

I see that many of my friends on Goodreads finished their 2020 reading challenge in July. I did not. But, having heard the Dutch Prime Minister’s talk tonight (September 1), I can see that I might realistically get through the excessive list of books I had optimistically intended to read by the end of 2020.  Goes to show, it only takes a pandemic to get around to some notions and things…..

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.