Off again at the end of the week, back in the first week of June.
The New Year
In that spacious house
near where the gangster dwelled,
America’s most wanted in
a Fedora hat,
the two of you sat,
the new year having earlier been ushered in
and from your treasure chest
you both took a few,
and with the music
the resolutions sworn off,
you watched the wind
blow snow about
the frozen lake.
For those interested, my new collection of poetry, A Sliver of the Moon, is available. As for further writing, I am hoping to have my second novel out by summer’s end. Now after that, it’s not necessarily silence, but I am certainly expecting things to be a lot more quiet around here. Think perhaps of those probes seeking evidence of extraterrestrial life. A new job in another country will just not allow the considerable free time I’ve had all these years.
The long and the short of it –
a quarter century
of one’s life.
The heat was once
ancient steps rising up
The sun was always
since those days
at university in the
as a replacement for
those thousand lakes
of a child –
cleaner and bluer.
The first time
you felt as if you floated,
and it would be impossible to sink.
It is not the last goodbye.
You will return
for a month or two
to enjoy the best
no longer having
to tolerate the rest.
The language goes with you
and you will use it,
sometimes as a code.
The Desert Sand
The wind blew in bursts.
Microscopic grains of sand
In the taxi cab you sat
your lower back
having given out.
Arriving at the hotel,
you seriously doubted
if on getting out
you’d be able to stand.
Fearfully you struggled
and were so relieved to see
with open hearts
asking if you needed
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.
“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
“….tongue breaks and thin
fire is racing under skin
and in eyes no sight and drumming
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
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)
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
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
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.
The First Thing We Do
Jack would do
you were told.
So you waited
in his lobby
interested to hear
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
As for your mother,
she’d already crossed
her father, too,
was suffering from
and had expressed such
told you coldly,
“He can’t see you.”
No jot and tittle
in short supply.
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
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.
The Bane of the Blooming Moon
In a cottage
at the end
of a trail of tears
a newborn baby
was cradled in a doctor’s arms
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.
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,
nothing but a bathtub of ice
With his parents
traveling the vaudeville circuit
he slept in the drawers of cheap hotels,
was cared for by chorus girls
took a very public dose
though her marriage
As he retraced the steps
to his ancestral home,
and the moon transformed
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.
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 . . .
Bitten by the sun
Dripping rain like golden honey—
And the sweet earth flying from the thunder.
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.
Raised in the suburbs, I knew only a little of the difficulties my parents faced growing up. My mom’s parents were immigrants, and she was a child of the city surrounded by a mix of Irish, Italian, and French-Canadians, all struggling as best they could in a new country at a time in which things were terrible economically. My dad grew up on a farm so in many ways had it easier, and while only only eight miles from the downtown area, it might have been hundreds.
Since my maternal grandmother died when I was only seven, I have few memories of the farmhouse with its ornate curtains and the sun pouring in through the windows. I can remember sitting on a slope that led up to the cornfields talking with a cousin. Another time dancing about as the marvelous seedpods from a maple twirled like helicopters as they fell. Near the large oak with the tire swing was another tree, and all about its trunk in a circular pattern were crab apples, which I examined to see whether they had holes before brushing one against my t-shirt and biting into it, tasting a tartness that remains with me to this day.
“‘Alabama’ is a composition written by John Coltrane that appears on his album Live at Birdland (1963). It was written in response to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing on September 15, 1963, an attack by the Ku Klux Klan in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four girls.”
– Wikipedia entry for Alabama (John Coltrane song)