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Photo I Like summer photos

Vacation: Sun, Surf, Missing Posts, General Tomfoolery

We’ve been back from our annual trip to Assateague Island National Seashore for about 4 hours now–the van in unpacked, the laundry is going, and the rest of family has stumbled off to sleep after a vacation that was, in parts, relaxing and invigorating.

Before I tell you about it, I want to apologize for some stupid empty posts.  In my cleverness, I used the magic of the WordPress Dashboard’s scheduling feature to load up a bunch of posts, the object being to continue to entertain my kind, deeply appreciated readers even as I lay basking and baking 6 hours distant from my computer.  And I flubbed it.  Two placeholder posts made their way to the mysterious interwebs, where I have determined to keep them–as evidence of my incompetence–only shortly, after which time they will vanish into the ether and I will begin systematically denying their existence.  Truly.

Assateague Bird
This is no joke.

2014-0815-1So, Assateague–it’s like this:  Paradise.  Now, before you sign up (and make it harder for us to get our reservations), let me elaborate on Paradise:  It has uncrowded beaches, even on broiling hot weekends in August, a 10pm quiet hour, and abundant wildlife.  It also has no electricity for guests, no hot water (that’s right: ice cold showers, which I’ll talk about later on), sporadic cellular telephone coverage and no wifi.  None.  The abundant wildlife includes wild ponies that will bite you, steal your food, wreck your campsite, tear down your tent, and teach your little kids a whole damn lot about reproduction–right there on the beach.  The other premier species at Assateague, for which it is equally famous, is the mosquito–numerous varieties, in varying degrees of size, tenacity, and itch-factor.  If you aren’t up to dealing with mosquitos, Assateague isn’t your place.

In fact, one of my daughters just stumbled out of her bedroom (it’s around 1am) moaning and near tears because she can’t find where her sister left the calamine lotion.  At present, she has 27 visible bite marks on her body and may very well go crazy from the itching.  We’ll see.  I tend to think that it is the scratching that causes the increased irritation.  The bites I got all faded within 45-60 minutes, and I adamantly resist scratching.  My wife and daughters all scratch, and their itches persist for days, sometimes…OH, IT SEEMS THAT I’M RIGHT!  LOOK, GIRLS, AT WHAT DADDY JUST RESEARCHED ON THE MAGICAL MYSTERY INTERWEBS!  You want to stop the itch, just let it be.  BAM!

And there we go–a trip report in multiple installments to follow.  I just wanted to get in here and apologize for those faulty posts–I’ll make ’em up to you this weekend and into next week with plenty of new, original content.  It may not be interesting, or even any fun, but it will be new.

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Uncategorized

National Poetry Month: T.S. Eliot

Awfully close to dropping the ball just short of the goal line…I’m several poems behind, but you’ll get ’em all today.

01d607eebc06a53263dc57b7414cd1dcThe Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
By T. S. Eliot

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma percioche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
               So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
               And how should I presume?
And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
               And should I then presume?
               And how should I begin?
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head
               Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
               That is not it, at all.”
And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
               “That is not it at all,
               That is not what I meant, at all.”
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
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Poetry Uncategorized

National Poetry Month: Robert Pinsky

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I received the following facebook message last night, from the gallery of distant rogues: “Poesy Month, eh? Where’s the fucking Pinksy (sic), Chuck?”

Point taken.

An Explanation of America: A Love of Death by Robert Pinsky

Imagine a child from Virginia or New Hampshire
Alone on the prairie eighty years ago
Or more, one afternoon—the shaggy pelt
Of grasses, for the first time in that child’s life,
Flowing for miles. Imagine the moving shadow
Of a cloud far off across that shadeless ocean,
The obliterating strangeness like a tide
That pulls or empties the bubble of the child’s
Imaginary heart. No hills, no trees.

The child’s heart lightens, tending like a bubble
Towards the currents of the grass and sky,
The pure potential of the clear blank spaces.

Or, imagine the child in a draw that holds a garden
Cupped from the limitless motion of the prairie,
Head resting against a pumpkin, in evening sun.
Ground-cherry bushes grow along the furrows,
The fruit red under its papery, moth-shaped sheath.
Grasshoppers tumble among the vines, as large
As dragons in the crumbs of pale dry earth.
The ground is warm to the child’s cheek, and the wind
Is a humming sound in the grass above the draw,
Rippling the shadows of the red-green blades.
The bubble of the child’s heart melts a little,
Because the quiet of that air and earth
Is like the shadow of a peaceful death—
Limitless and potential; a kind of space
Where one dissolves to become a part of something
Entire … whether of sun and air, or goodness
And knowledge, it does not matter to the child.
Dissolved among the particles of the garden
Or into the motion of the grass and air,
Imagine the child happy to be a thing.

Imagine, then, that on that same wide prairie
Some people are threshing in the terrible heat
With horses and machines, cutting bands
And shoveling amid the clatter of the threshers,
The chaff in prickly clouds and the naked sun
Burning as if it could set the chaff on fire.
Imagine that the people are Swedes or Germans,
Some of them resting pressed against the strawstacks,
Trying to get the meager shade.
A man,
A tramp, comes laboring across the stubble
Like a mirage against that blank horizon,
Laboring in his torn shoes toward the tall
Mirage-like images of the tilted threshers
Clattering in the heat. Because the Swedes
Or Germans have no beer, or else because
They cannot speak his language properly,
Or for some reason one cannot imagine,
The man climbs up on a thresher and cuts bands
A minute or two, then waves to one of the people,
A young girl or a child, and jumps head-first
Into the sucking mouth of the machine,
Where he is wedged and beat and cut to pieces—
While the people shout and run in the clouds of chaff,
Like lost mirages on the pelt of prairie.

The obliterating strangeness and the spaces
Are as hard to imagine as the love of death …
Which is the love of an entire strangeness,
The contagious blankness of a quiet plain.
Imagine that a man, who had seen a prairie,
Should write a poem about a Dark or Shadow
That seemed to be both his, and the prairie’s—as if
The shadow proved that he was not a man,
But something that lived in quiet, like the grass.
Imagine that the man who writes that poem,
Stunned by the loneliness of that wide pelt,
Should prove to himself that he was like a shadow
Or like an animal living in the dark.
In the dark proof he finds in his poem, the man
Might come to think of himself as the very prairie,
The sod itself, not lonely, and immune to death.

None of this happens precisely as I try
To imagine that it does, in the empty plains,
And yet it happens in the imagination
Of part of the country: not in any place
More than another, on the map, but rather
Like a place, where you and I have never been
And need to try to imagine—place like a prairie
Where immigrants, in the obliterating strangeness,
Thirst for the wide contagion of the shadow
Or prairie—where you and I, with our other ways,
More like the cities or the hills or trees,
Less like the clear blank spaces with their potential,
Are like strangers in a place we must imagine.

Categories
Poetry

National Poetry Month: Marianne Moore

MM yankeesThis is one of my favorites–and one I bet you never read before.  Marianne Moore should be a lot more famous than she is,   She was also a rabid baseball fan.  Imagine a time when poets could be popular enough to garner press at a Yankees game!  It’s a shame she’s been overshadowed by her male peers–but, unfortunately, that’s how it works.  Poetry may be written for the masses, but it’s preserved by moribund academic institutions, where poets like Moore remain disrespected for their commercial popularity and still–alas–trivialized for being women by a surprisingly (overcompensate much?) patriarchal establishment.  Still, this poem rocks:

He “Digesteth Harde Yron”  by Marianne Moore

Although the aepyornis
or roc that lived in Madagascar, and
the moa are extinct,
the camel-sparrow, linked
with them in size–the large sparrow
Xenophon saw walking by a stream–was and is
a symbol of justice.

This bird watches his chicks with
a maternal concentration-and he’s
been mothering the eggs
at night six weeks–his legs
their only weapon of defense.
He is swifter than a horse; he has a foot hard
as a hoof; the leopard

is not more suspicious.How
could he, prized for plumes and eggs and young
used even as a riding-beast, respect men
hiding actor-like in ostrich skins, with the right hand
making the neck move as if alive
and from a bag the left hand strewing grain, that ostriches

might be decoyed and killed!Yes, this is he
whose plume was anciently
the plume of justice; he
whose comic duckling head on its
great neck revolves with compass-needle nervousness
when he stands guard,

in S-like foragings as he is
preening the down on his leaden-skinned back.
The egg piously shown
as Leda’s very own
from which Castor and Pollux hatched,
was an ostrich-egg.And what could have been more fit
for the Chinese lawn it

grazed on as a gift to an
emperor who admired strange birds, than this
one, who builds his mud-made
nest in dust yet will wade
in lake or sea till only the head shows.

. . . . . . .

Six hundred ostrich-brains served
at one banquet, the ostrich-plume-tipped tent
and desert spear, jewel-
gorgeous ugly egg-shell
goblets, eight pairs of ostriches
in harness, dramatize a meaning
always missed by the externalist.

The power of the visible
is the invisible; as even where
no tree of freedom grows,
so-called brute courage knows.
Heroism is exhausting, yet
it contradicts a greed that did not wisely spare
the harmless solitaire

or great auk in its grandeur;
unsolicitude having swallowed up
all giant birds but an alert gargantuan
little-winged, magnificently speedy running-bird.
This one remaining rebel
is the sparrow-camel.

Categories
Poetry

National Poetry Month: Jones Very

The New Birth  by Jones Very

a new life;–thoughts move not as they did
With slow uncertain steps across my mind,
In thronging haste fast pressing on they bid
The portals open to the viewless wind
That comes not save when in the dust is laid
The crown of pride that gilds each mortal brow,
And from before man’s vision melting fade
The heavens and earth;–their walls are falling now.–
Fast crowding on, each thought asks utterance strong;
Storm-lifted waves swift rushing to the shore,
On from the sea they send their shouts along,
Back through the cave-worn rocks their thunders roar;
And I a child of God by Christ made free
Start from death’s slumbers to Eternity.
Jones Very

Categories
Funny and/or Strange Poetry

National Poetry Month: Poultry Slam

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Uncategorized

National Poetry Month: Henry David Thoreau

Friendship  by Henry David Thoreau

I think awhile of Love, and while I think,
Love is to me a world,
Sole meat and sweetest drink,
And close connecting link
Tween heaven and earth.

I only know it is, not how or why,
My greatest happiness;
However hard I try,
Not if I were to die,
Can I explain.

I fain would ask my friend how it can be,
But when the time arrives,
Then Love is more lovely
Than anything to me,
And so I’m dumb.

For if the truth were known, Love cannot speak,
But only thinks and does;
Though surely out ’twill leak
Without the help of Greek,
Or any tongue.

A man may love the truth and practise it,
Beauty he may admire,
And goodness not omit,
As much as may befit
To reverence.

But only when these three together meet,
As they always incline,
And make one soul the seat,
And favorite retreat,
Of loveliness;

When under kindred shape, like loves and hates
And a kindred nature,
Proclaim us to be mates,
Exposed to equal fates
Eternally;

And each may other help, and service do,
Drawing Love’s bands more tight,
Service he ne’er shall rue
While one and one make two,
And two are one;

In such case only doth man fully prove
Fully as man can do,
What power there is in Love
His inmost soul to move
Resistlessly.
______

Two sturdy oaks I mean, which side by side,
Withstand the winter’s storm,
And spite of wind and tide,
Grow up the meadow’s pride,
For both are strong

Above they barely touch, but undermined
Down to their deepest source,
Admiring you shall find
Their roots are intertwined
Insep’rably.

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Uncategorized

National Poetry Month: James Dickey

A BIRTH   by James Dickey

Inventing a story with grass,
I find a young horse deep inside it.
I cannot nail wires around him;
My fence posts fail to be solid,

And he is free, strangely, without me.
With his head still browsing the greenness,
He walks slowly out of the pasture
To enter the sun of his story.

My mind freed of its own creature,
I find myself deep in my life
In a room with my child and my mother,
When I feel the sun climbing my shoulder

Change, to include a new horse.

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Uncategorized

National Poetry Month: Raymond Carver

HOPE   By Raymond Carver

“My wife,” said Pinnegar, “expects to see me go to
the dogs when she leaves me. It is her last hope.”
–D. H. Lawrence, “Jimmy and the Desperate Woman”

She gave me the car and two
hundred dollars. Said, So long, baby.
Take it easy, hear? So much
for twenty years of marriage.
She knows, or thinks she knows,
I’ll go through the dough
in a day or two, and eventually
wreck the car–which was
in my name and needed work anyway.
When I drove off she and her boy-
friend were changing the lock
on the front door. They waved.
I waved back to let them know
I didn’t think any the less
of them. Then sped toward
the state line. I was hellbent.
She was right to think so.

I went to the dogs, and we
became good friends.
But I kept going. Went
a long way without stopping.
Left the dogs, my friends, behind,
Nevertheless, when I did show
my face at that house again,
months, or years, later, driving
a different car, she wept
when she saw me at the door.
Sober. Dressed in a clean shirt,
pants, and boots. Her last hope
blasted.
She didn’t have a thing
to hope for anymore.

Categories
Poetry

National Poetry Month: Edwin Godsey

I Hope I Don’t Have You Next Semester, But

Cnidus_Aphrodite_Altemps_Inv8619_n2before you step out
Aphrodite
honey
hold your ear down close to the conch
and see can you make out
any
noises.

by Edwin Godsey