Sunday, May 15, 2022

Past Birthdays are like a foreign country now


There are always lives
Left between the leaves
Scattering as I dust
The honeymoon edelweiss
Pressed ferns from prayer-books
Seed lists and hints on puddings
Deprecatory letters from old cousins
Proposing to come for Easter
And always clouded negatives
The ghost dogs in the vanishing gardens:

Fading ephemera of non-events,
Whoever owned it
(Dead or cut adrift or homeless in a home)
Nothing to me, a number, or if a name
Then meaningless,
Yet always as I touch a current flows,
The poles connect, the wards latch into place,
A life extends me --
Love-hate; grief; faith; wonder;

My concern is how to get through 15th of Mays  "and other ordinary Sunday  afternoons" (to borrow from Walker Percy).  

"Experience, already reduced to a group of impressions, is ringed round for each one of us by that thick wall of personality through which no real voice has ever pierced on its way to us, or from us to that which we can only conjecture to be without.  Every one of those impressions is the impression of the individual in his isolation, each mind keeping as a solitary prisoner its own dream of a world."

The moral of the story is plain enough about our hard luck on this earth …

A Story Can Change Your Life

by Peter Everwine

On the morning she became a young widow,
my grandmother, startled by a sudden shadow,
looked up from her work to see a hawk turn
her prized rooster into a cloud of feathers.
That same moment, halfway around the world
in a Minnesota mine, her husband died,
buried under a ton of rock-fall.
She told me this story sixty years ago.
I don't know if it's true but it ought to be.
She was a hard old woman, and though she knelt
on Sundays when the acolyte's silver bell
announced the moment of Christ's miracle,
it was the darker mysteries she lived by:
shiver-cry of an owl, black dog by the roadside,
a tapping at the door and nobody there.
The moral of the story was plain enough:
miracles become a burden and require a priest
to explain them. With signs, you only need
to keep your wits about you and place your trust
in a shadow world that lets you know hard luck
and grief are coming your way. And for that
—so the story goes—any day will do

Andrej Imrich at Kapitula

TRANSLATIONS OF TIME An Interview with Boris Drayluk

How can we connect with bygone poets and make their words resonate today? In his debut collection My Hollywood as well as in his Russian translations, Boris Drayluk explores this question and succeeds. Through an interplay of ever-present loss, happenstance, and humor, the work is a meeting place between artists past and present; between a real person and other real people he admires.


“I’ve always known that one can’t dwell in the past,” Drayluk writes. “But that doesn’t stop me from dwelling on it. It does hold lessons for us, cautionary tales. And it holds its treasures – among them verbal objects that seem as alive to me as anything uttered this very minute, perhaps more so.” Another key to his practice is form: not only does it add integrity to the work, he tells us, but through structure we can find surprise.

I wish I were once again seven in the woods. Indeed, when I was seven years old, if my faulty memory can be trusted, that was a good year for me. I had no idea then about all the good, bad, and ugly years that were still ahead. Hmm.

Seven in the Woods

by Jim Harrison

Am I as old as I am?
Maybe not. Time is a mystery
that can tip us upside down.
Yesterday I was seven in the woods,
a bandage covering my blind eye,
in a bedroll Mother made me
so I could sleep out in the woods
far from people. A garter snake glided by
without noticing me. A chickadee
landed on my bare toe, so light
she wasn’t believable. The night
had been long and the treetops
thick with a trillion stars. Who
was I, half-blind on the forest floor
who was I at age seven? Sixty-eight
years later I can still inhabit that boy’s
body without thinking of the time between.
It is the burden of life to be many ages
without seeing the end of time.

Jim Harrison, “Seven in the Woods” from The Essential Poems

2006 the year my life changed in so many ways like the year of 1968 or even 1980

once upon a time: Time is a mystery that can tip us upside down.

No Return

I shall not return having once stepped into this place.

If I sleep, it is the sleep which cuts deeply into the flesh--

That sleep, that white room, that bottomless vertigo.

The sound of high leather boots in the night,

The place where they come and go on the ceiling,

Invisible faces, hands, gestures,

That room where voices and laughter arise--

That white room, that bottomless vertigo.

The Poems of Kim Chi Ha Who Died this week

"There was a Young Lady of Norway,
Who casually sat in a doorway;
When the doors queezed her flat, she exclaimed, 'What of that?'
This courageous young person of Norway."

"There was a Young Lady of Sweden,
Who went by the slow train to Weedon;
When they cried, 'Weedon Station!' she made no observation,
But thought she should go back to Sweden

Top Shots: Compelling Images From the new hot wars 

The Guitar as the Instrument of Seducers The Honest Broker

Getting in the groove Aeon

       Art in Ukraine 

       At Eurozine Kateryna Botanova considers, at some length: 'The Ukrainian art that was destroyed -- and the art that never happened', in Defined by silence

How Fame Fed on Edna St. Vincent Millay | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

During the nineteen-tens and twenties, Millay achieved the kind of fame that was unusual for a poet then and unthinkable now. Before the age of the movie star, she became America’s first starlet. Her books of poems sold out their print runs. She wrote feverishly, working on short stories, plays, a libretto, a novel. She was photographed and interviewed; she was invited to lecture; she won the Pulitzer Prize and became rich. When she published the sonnet sequence “Fatal Interview” (1931), which was inspired by an affair with the much younger poet George Dillon, it sold fifty thousand copies, Great Depression be damned.