Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

An Absence

Been laid up with the flu – hoping it’ll pass at some point.  I do have my doubts!

Anyway, things are on the move here or rather I’ll be on the move in March and probably April so I’ll be likely be absent from the blogging world for the next few months.

Here’s to hoping spring comes to all with its usual delights.

Along the Pier

Along the Pier
The tugboats
along the pier
are worse for wear,
their captains’ names
in proud display.

The seagulls flutter
with cries of complaint
as the northern wind
near the seawall
breaks.

Wednesday’s Choice

Wednesday’s Choice

The Music of Farewell

The Music of Farewell
The water tower rises
and the open door invites you
up its swirling steps.

On Sundays
the city band play
and march.

The lake shimmers
with the color of sirens.

Cars stretch out to the dock.

Sweet smoke rises
from the glass from which it’s been hidden
on a journey that will be its last.

Wednesday’s Choice

Washed Up

Washed Up
Washed up on the
river banks
where the she-wolf saved
the twin brothers
raised among the bleating sheep,
I too was a simple shepherd
but the people who saw me dead
on the witness stand
unable to defend myself
can only speak
of the miracles
I’m said to perform.

Purity

Purity
Snowflakes cling,
down feathers,
to your dark blue winter gloves
and plaid scarf
protecting you from
a cold,
the purity of which
only warms your soul.

Wednesday’s Choice

Sappho Fragment (96)

“But now she is conspicuous among Lydian women
as sometimes at sunset
the rosyfingered moon

surpasses all the stars. And her light
stretches over salt sea
equally and flowerdeep fields.”

From Anne Carson’s If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho

 

Wednesday’s Choice

Wednesday’s Choice

Sappho Fragment 34

“stars around the beautiful moon
hide back their luminous form
whenever all full she shines
on the earth

silvery.”

From Anne Carson’s If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho

Sappho Fragment (31)

“….tongue breaks and thin
fire is racing under skin
and in eyes no sight and drumming
fills ears

and cold sweat holds me and shaking
grips me all, greener than grass
I am and dead-or almost
I seem to me.”

From Sappho Fragment 31

Anne Carson’s If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho

Wednesday’s Choice

The Best Books I Read This Year

If you’re interested in a great read, consider one of the following:

1. In the First Circle (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)
2. Rome: A Cultural, Visual and Personal History (Robert Hughes)
3. God and the New Physics (Paul Davies)
4. Angle of Repose (Wallace Stegner)
5. Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf)
6. Spirit Wars: Native North American Religions in the Age of Nation Building (Ronald Niezen)
7. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
8. The Odyssey (Homer/Translator: Stanley Lombardo)

 

 

Wednesday’s Choice

Happy Holidays!

Sappho Fragments (1 & 2)

For those who are interested, join us in our reading of Sappho.

”                            And fine birds brought you,
quick sparrows over the black earth
whipping their wings down the sky
through midair-

they arrived.”

From Fragment 1

“And in it cold water makes a clear sound through
apple branches and with roses the whole place
is shadowed and down from radiant-shaking leaves
sleep comes dropping.

And in it a horse meadow has come into bloom
with spring flowers and breezes
like honey are blowing.”

From Fragment 2

Anne Carson’s If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho

 

 

 

Wednesday’s Choice

Privilege

Privilege
You were
educated at the best places
money could buy
so in the bank
when you aimed point blank
at the tellers
you told them
you had nothing against them
but the state.

Being caught
and sentenced
you’re no longer able to
ski
or hone your language skills
overseas
but the fabric of your being
still believes in your right to attend
business classes.

Redeemers
are in short supply
as the city burns,
and one no longer need imagine
the power
privilege brings.

Wednesday’s Choice

This will be the last of the Haydn pieces. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed them, and they will encourage you to listen to more of his wonderful work.

A Perfectly Good Apple

A Perfectly Good Apple
That Halloween
rumors had spread
of razors and pins
so when you got home
you glanced inside
your bag of treats
with suspicion.

Shadows danced about
the poker you grabbed
to split open
one of the things you’d gotten.

Wednesday’s Choice

In ‘Nam

In ‘Nam
In ‘Nam
what they don’t tell you.

The
enemy are more
human
then you’ll ever understand.

Eyes that blaze
like mortar fire.

Souls that rot
In the undergrowth.

Wednesday’s Choice

Here is Haydn’s String Quartet Op. 76, no 4, called the Sunrise:

The Basement

The Basement
Rats rattle
the drainpipes
beneath
the musty basement
where the smell of
cigars in boxes
and workshop wood shavings
mingle.

From the backyard trees,
bugs have come
making the place feel
anything but safe.

Teeth smash
and shatter
on the hard granite floor.

Pool balls are thrown
in senseless rage.

Wednesday’s Choice

We all have perceptions of a particular composer’s sound. The more I listen to Haydn the more I understand he has many voices, and like that line in the New Testatment says, none are without meaning.

This symphony written between 1771-1772 has been called the grandfather of the 5th, which Beethoven began working on some 30 years later.

Tasseography

Coffee Cup

Wednesday’s Choice

The First Thing We Do

The First Thing We Do
Jack would do
anything
for anyone
you were told.

So you waited
in his lobby
interested to hear
what information
he might provide.

From a plaque on the wall
a Bible verse stated
obedience to God
would bring about good governance.

A painting of Washington
kneeling on the banks
of the Delaware
hung.

As for your mother,
she’d already crossed
the Rubicon.

Jack’s secretary,
who’d earlier
said
her father, too,
was suffering from
dementia
and had expressed such
understanding,
told you coldly,
“He can’t see you.”

No jot and tittle
means sympathy’s
in short supply.

The Button

The Button
Red is
for danger.

A fire
that sweeps away
everything
in its path.

Unable to understand
the cost,
she pushed it with
renewed determination.

Wednesday’s Choice

From Haydn’s The Creation – The Overture (The Representation of Chaos):

 

Of the Wednesdays to follow

As I’m sure you’re all aware, music has always been important to me; I really can’t imagine life without it.  Usually I go through phrases where I listen to a particular kind of music or artist.  But through the years there has always been a constant.: Haydn.  It’s a rare day indeed when I don’t listen to Papa. For the foreseeable future, the idea is to share with you some of the treasures I’ve found.  Whether you agree with the following statements or not, I do hope you’ll come along and enjoy the journey.

“It’s not holy music, it’s like you and me; it’s very human and shows very normal feelings. More so than Beethoven. I feel better as a person and better in my life when I play Haydn. All art is about searching for answers about what happens after death. Haydn is the one who says, ‘I don’t have the answer, but it’s good, so who cares?'”

Adam Fischer from the Guardian article, The great Haydn road trip

“Haydn is the music of the future still. The true extent of his greatness is for the connoisseur a well-kept secret, for the larger public a ticking time-bomb that has yet to go off. When its hour comes, the explosion, rather than a Big Bang, will be a still small voice telling of the strange within the normal, the vast within the modest, the dark within the bright and vice versa: the essence of human experience in essentially musical terms.”

from Robin Holloway’s On Music: Essays and Diversions

 

 

Sketch 3 (W&S): The Family Cow

Sometimes things take you by surprise. You might have been in a restaurant with a friend and gone to the salad bar only to return to find someone sitting in your spot and wearing your glasses. Or maybe you were traveling and had an unexpected encounter.

I think most people who have done any amount of hitchhiking will tell you that you’re about as unlikely to be picked up by someone who takes their holiday in Martha’s Vineyard as you are by those who spend their summers in the Hamptons. It’s safe to say your rides will come from either the middle or the working classes so it’s probably wise to hide that patrician accent of yours.

We had crossed our way into Wyoming and for the life of us weren’t able to get a ride. When hitchhiking, there are times of scarcity (eight hours and only eight-three miles) and then prosperity (the next ride, one thousand six hundred and sixty-six miles). We’d been on the side of the road for a spell and were just looking to get a little closer to our destination. That is not to say we didn’t periodically slip into the woods for a smoke before returning out again to brave the passing traffic.

When the old school bus pulled over, and the door opened, we were met with a decidedly unpleasant odor. I looked at my cousin with concern. He just said, “We can hardly be turning down rides.”

I took it in all very quickly and this from someone who nearly always take a very long time to register anything. The grinning driver with his Van Dyke. His pregnant wife. The young girl lying on a mattress in a feverish state. Two children playing with toy soldiers. The bus was packed with all of their earthly possessions.

All of us use our experiences to try and make sense of things. That’s why when we heard a sound we thought the kids had one of those toys where after you select the barnyard animal of your choice, you hear a cackle, grunt, or moo as the case may be. However, when we spotted something moving, we realized it was their cow.  To say we were startled would have been an understatement.

Wednesday’s Choice

Bradbury and the Gray Ponytail

Bradbury and the Gray Ponytail
From the classroom
elongated
like some absurd geometric shape
supposed to make sense,
the clouds hung bleak,
frozen breath pierced the air.

A smell of chalk
came from the blackboard
where she stood
probing stories
you were given to read,
which allowed you to feel
through the written word
an optimism
of possibility in the
world.

Thanks to Don for a comment he made that got me thinking about two teachers I had, one of whom this poem is about.

 

Tomorrow

Tomorrow
It was a vast wasteland,
where he shone
in living color on the screen.

He was not the bespectacled
intellectual
whose superior attitude
and vocabulary is
somehow meant to impress
not inform,
whose speech patterns
make you want to roll your eyes
though you never really could.

His hair and style of dress
seemed out of place,
but he had a hearty laugh
and chortled
when things tickled his fancy
as often they did.

Comfortable in his skin,
he was without pretense,
asking questions of guests
you’d never see
anywhere else
and different views
came to you
through a blur of smoke.

Wednesday’s Choice

The Bane of the Blooming Moon

The Bane of the Blooming Moon
1
In a cottage
at the end
of a trail of tears
a newborn baby
was cradled in a doctor’s arms
unresponsive.

Beside himself
with terror,
the father snatched the boy,
and raced outside.

With an axle
he crushed the icy lake surface
and plunged the child in.

It came out crying.

2
The old rancher
with uncouth manners
looked upon the tiny infant
and predicted its demise,
but it had other ideas
fighting off the convulsions
that wracked his body,
the temperatures
nothing but a bathtub of ice
could dispel.

3
With his parents
traveling the vaudeville circuit
he slept in the drawers of cheap hotels,
was cared for by chorus girls
backstage.

At seven,
his mother,
the singer,
took a very public dose
of mercury
and
lived
though her marriage
and career
ended.

4
As he retraced the steps
to his ancestral home,
clouds dispersed
and the moon transformed
the disconnect
between words and thoughts,
shadows at the bottom of his soul.

The church bells chimed
across the makeshift bases
set up in a field
of weeds and thistles.

Near the swamp
a wildcat’s back arched
to the sky
as if to ward off evil.

Manifestos

Manifestos
Boldly proclaiming with
declarative force
everything ever
has been understood.
Whether simple or complex
is of little regard
as long as you follow
the tenets laid down.

Thanks to Jessica Ryan for her post that inspired it.

Our Mid-Month’s Poet: Jean Toomer

Storm Ending by Jean Toomer
Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads,
Great, hollow, bell-like flowers,
Rumbling in the wind,
Stretching clappers to strike our ears . . .
Full-lipped flowers
Bitten by the sun
Bleeding rain
Dripping rain like golden honey—
And the sweet earth flying from the thunder.

Wednesday’s Choice

An Invitation to Read

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho

Why not join us?  If you like, visit thedancingprofessor and express your interest.

 

The Great Barrier Reef, 1945

The Great Barrier Reef, 1945
At twenty-two
I awoke
at dawn
with a coffee and a cigarette
to greet
a brilliance of colors
and a flotilla of ships
stretching the expanse
like a yawn.

The Last Thing

The Last Thing
The last thing
I saw
before my eyes fell ill
was the small pillow
she bought for me
with full blue waves
and white houses
lining the shore.

Wednesday’s Choice

A Flat-Bed Ford

Lyrics aren’t always what you imagine them to be. Perhaps like me, you’ve misunderstood a line or two.  What the Lizard King was wailing was actually, “If you give this man a ride, sweet memory will die.”

Even if you do happen to understand the words correctly you may not know what all of them mean.  I’ll confess being none the too wiser to the meaning of turnpike in Simon and Garfunkel’s lovely America.  And I’ve only just realized what a flat-bed Ford looks like; it is not at all what I imagined.

1960_Ford_F-100_(6273194496)(Photographer: OSX II )

Who is the Man of a Thousand Faces?

320px-Keanu_Reves_in_Mexico_2(Photographer: Ron whisky)

396px-Lon_Chaney,_Sr._The_Miracle_Man

Nicholas_Cage_-_KirkWeaver(Photographer: Megapixie)

Rhetoric

Rhetoric
From the microphone
they blast
rhetoric
aimed at selling
desperate people
hope.

Pigeons fly
shunning the wind
as it blows canopies,
leaving in their wake
remnants of a voyage,
which must be cleaned if
you’re to get any work done.

Hot water
does the trick
and makes you think
your fingers may be safe again,
but the keyboard
no longer responds to
your touch.

Wednesday’s Choice

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