March 26th, 2024
In the wake of the collapse of a bridge…

… a Rilkean meditation on bridges.

***********************************

As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood’s dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.

Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.

To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions…For the god
wants to know himself in you.

**************************

This is by way of a pep talk, mes petites, having to do with nothing less than the imperative to forge a creative, meaningful life. When you were a child (see Intimations of Immortality) the sheer visceral energy of being young, that heedless life force, “carried you over” the darkness and peril of being. But that was kidstuff, and it only pertained to you, and it didn’t mean much beyond simple inarticulate strength and delight in earthly existence. Now it’s time to transcend the unproblematic egotism of youth and offer something to the world, and that will mean struggling with complex, problematic forces to perceive and build so-far “unimagined” connections.

To infuse the world with wonder, to reveal its hidden beauty, means overcoming the dark abyss that lies under all that we do. That abyss (‘Winding across wide water, without sound. / The day is like wide water, without sound‘) is not merely our own awaiting mortality, but also the soundless nothing the world is without our articulate speech, without our artistic/architectural hand upon the land. So this is the pep talk: You can do it. You can shape and fill the earth with meaning, articulate sound, human beauty. Your soul offers you, grants you, the capacity for this earth-brightening achievement; you must not be afraid to accept what it wants to grant.

For after all, it’s “not too hard” for you to work with the seemingly unbridgeable complications of the world, to take its welter of Things and bring them together in clarifying, enabling ways:

I loved you, so I drew these tides of
Men into my hands
And wrote my will across the
Sky and stars

Indeed, you cannot shirk this imperative, much as you would like to be “swept along” in the abyss. You must be adequate to the challenge of the world.

Use your powers, stretch them out, flex your creative muscles! Stand boldly above the abyss and bring the seemingly irreconcilable complications of a world of turmoil into alignment, so that where there was once nothing there is now something — something upon which your fellow human beings can locate and know ourselves and the world. For the god / Wants to know himself in you. Only through our interiority can the earth arise and know itself. Only our human powers of perception and feeling can intuit and express both the contradictions of existence and their overcoming.

March 3rd, 2024
UD has owls every night because her tall old trees have been left alone for so long.

When she walks her paths, piles of feathers mark battlefields.

Here are two feathers (mourning dove?) she picked up and brought inside yesterday.

A local poet, who lives next to an old forest slated for development, writes about her owls.

***************************

The owl came because he wants this scrap of woodland, wants the beeches and their hollow hearts, their cavities. He came because so long ago the farmer left his fields alone to grow their latent crop of trees that no one came to cut. The owl wants this wooded hilltop, its ancient oaks that stand among heaped quartz the farmer or his father or his father’s father cleared. The owl wants the hilltop’s crown of hollies, wants the deep-shade roost they’ve made; he wants this open branch that ends a wing-wide tunnel through the hollies’ shelter, wants this place to watch, to rest and cast his pellets, wadded clumps of fur and bone the rain dissolves to show he wanted squirrels, and voles, and frogs, and once a huge black beetle. If you knew a wood would call an owl back, if you knew the owl’s calls would fill the winter wood until another owl answered, wouldn’t you want to leave the land alone to grow its woodland, wouldn’t you want to grant the owls what they wanted?

December 26th, 2023
Life, the Alewife.

UD‘s holiday thoughts as she passes herons, geese, and wild turkeys on a foggy morning in Cambridge:

  1. Everyone struggles. The only real thing to be said about that is: compassion.
  2. Why did David and Eve Kosofsky’s older sister abandon the family? UD puzzles over this one routinely, but especially at holiday gatherings. David had his theories; Eve wrote about it. The elder Kosofskys made various efforts at contact but were always rebuffed. Now that all those she abandoned are dead, it’s a different sort of story, sealed in permanence, but still a mystery. The best UD can do after all these years and all this thought is: See #1. Compassion dictates that you stop thinking about the cruelty of it and think rather of the fragility that would need to run that far away to achieve (what she seems to have achieved) a reasonably successful life.

On to the train back to DC.

********************************

All Contact Cut Off Forever

The only one left is the one who left

Removing herself from her family in

A cruel and puzzling theft.

Fifty years on we gather to mark

Her mother’s dearth. 

Her mother’s death.

In everyone’s mind is that theft — dark

Inexcusable, inexplicable.

The denial of yourself, your children,

From all the people who love you.  Unthinkable.

——————————

In spite of her hard pure withdrawal

Her decades-long discipline

I scan the Senior Center Meeting Hall

For a seventyish woman in black.

Hiding again – no one can say why – 

In the seating at the back of the back.

December 14th, 2023
Edna St. Vincent Ziegler

PURGE WITHOUT MUSIC

I am not resigned to the shutting away of hypocrites in the hard ground.

So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:

Into the darkness we go, Bridget and Christian.  Crowned

With sex toys and strap-ons we go; but I am not resigned.

November 23rd, 2023
Richard Rorty on Thankfulness

Shortly after finishing “Pragmatism and Romanticism,” I was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Some months after I learned the bad news, I was sitting around having coffee with my elder son and a visiting cousin. My cousin (who is a Baptist minister) asked me whether I had found my thoughts turning toward religious topics, and I said no. “Well, what about philosophy?” my son asked. “No,” I replied, neither the philosophy I had written nor that which I had read seemed to have any particular bearing on my situation. I had no quarrel with Epicurus’s argument that it is irrational to fear death, nor with Heidegger’s suggestion that ontotheology originates in an attempt to evade our mortality. But neither ataraxia (freedom from disturbance) nor Sein zum Tode (being toward death) seemed in point.

“Hasn’t anything you’ve read been of any use?” my son persisted. “Yes,” I found myself blurting out, “poetry.” “Which poems?” he asked. I quoted two old chestnuts that I had recently dredged up from memory and been oddly cheered by, the most quoted lines of Swinburne’s “Garden of  Proserpine”:

We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.

and Landor’s “On His Seventy-Fifth Birthday”:

Nature I loved, and next to Nature, Art;
I warmed both hands before the fire of life,
It sinks, and I am ready to depart.

July 4th, 2023
Fourth of July Poem

NOSTALGIA OF THE LAKEFRONTS

By Donald Justice

Cities burn behind us; the lake glitters.
A tall loudspeaker is announcing prizes;
Another, by the lake, the times of cruises.
Childhood, once vast with terrors and surprises,
Is fading to a landscape deep with distance –
And always the sad piano in the distance,
Faintly in the distance, a ghostly tinkling
(O indecipherable blurred harmonies)
Or some far horn repeating over water
Its high lost note, cut loose from all harmonies.
At such times, wakeful, a child will dream the world,
And this is the world we run to from the world.
Or the two worlds come together and are one
On dark, sweet afternoons of storm and of rain,
And stereopticons brought out and dusted,
Stacks of old Geographics, or, through the rain,
A mad wet dash to the local movie palace
And the shriek, perhaps, of Kane’s white cockatoo.
(Would this have been summer, 1942?)
By June the city always seems neurotic.
But lakes are good all summer for reflection,
And ours is famed among painters for its blues,
Yet not entirely sad, upon reflection.
Why sad at all? Is their wish so unique –
To anthropomorphize the inanimate
With a love that masquerades as pure technique?
O art and the child were innocent together!
But landscapes grow abstract, like aging parents.
Soon now the war will shutter the grand hotels,
And we, when we come back, will come as parents.
There are no lanterns now strung between pines –
Only, like history, the stark bare northern pines.
And after a time the lakefront disappears
Into the stubborn verses of its exiles
Or a few gifted sketches of old piers.
It rains perhaps on the other side of the heart;
Then we remember, whether we would or no.
– Nostalgia comes with the smell of rain, you know.

April 26th, 2023
Poem.

THE MANGY FOX

The mangy fox
From out the wood
Enters my garden.

‘Hardened in heart,’
I note his naked tail
His agony face

‘Like a devil’s sick of sin’

And I say to him

Oh you have outfoxed!
You slink raw grief
Into my garden

And I cannot be hardened.

February 11th, 2023
Found Poetry, in an Addiction Memoir

A passage from Matthew Perry’s book, turned into a poem by your blogeuse.

************************

1996

It was New Year’s Eve in Taos

It was about to be 1996 

I was dating Julia Roberts…  


We played football in the snow all day 

She took my hand and said come with me 

We jumped in a truck and drove up a mountain

Snow swirling around


I had no idea where we were going

We seemed to be heading into the stars

We reached a mountaintop

For a moment the snow cleared

 We could see New Mexico

We could see Canada  

 
Snow came down it was 1996


December 31st, 2022
Such a too much of a gift.

From New Year’s Song, by Ted Hughes

***************************************

… Now there come the weak-neck snowdrops

bouncing like fountains and they stop you

they make you take a deep breath

make your heart shake you

such a too much of a gift for such a mean time

nobody knows how to accept them

all you can do is gaze at them baffled

and the worst cold’s to come

December 27th, 2022
Poem.
Lake of Kari:  After Wordsworth

Like a breeze,
Or sunbeam, over your archive I passed
To a sanctions motion without pause; for ye have left
Your screenshot with me, an insane accord
Of paranoias - massive, and endowed
In their mad viciousness with power as will allow
A gracious, almost might I dare to say,
Virtuous, and profitable, victory.
December 26th, 2022
From Eliot’s The Trump Land

Monsieur Sostrumpis, famous clairvoyant,

Has a mad mind, nevertheless

Is known to be the wisest man in Mar-A-Lago

With a wicked head of hair.  Here, said he,

Are your votes, the stolen eleven thousand.

(Those are nays that were my ayes. Look!)

Here is Giuliani, the Lady on the Rocks,

The lady of situations.

Here is the man with many pillows, and here the Stone,

And here is dead-eyed Bannon, and this card,

Which is classified, is something I carried to Mar-A-Lago

Which I am forbidden to do. I do not find

My favorite daughter. Fear death by treason.

December 25th, 2022
Poem.

GANSEVOORT STREET

I wander the verse of my betters

Nihilistic priests heartbroken lesbians

Alcoholics from Knoxville and points south

I ask each of them to put their words in my mouth

**************************

Brilliant depressives of letters

Nihilistic post-soviet chain-smokers

You run smoke-circles around me when I try

Keeping up with you on the streets around Gansevoort

**************************

I wander the streets around Gansevoort 

The meat packers, the High Line, the Whitney

In the same metaphysical melancholy

The same muddled melancholy…  I mean 

Muddled up with so much and yet sayable.

Or at least you say it.  Give me your words and let me say it.

December 13th, 2022
“Cargoes,” by John Masefield and UD

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,

Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,

With a cargo of ivory,

And apes and peacocks,

Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

**************************************

Bags of cash from Qataris in cool new flats,

Flying home to Skoufa Street in sunny Kolonak,

With a cargo from Emirates,

With a cargo for real estate.

Toasting secret lobbying with sweet white wine.






December 10th, 2022
Hark, Hark! Jeff Clark

Hark, hark! Jeff Clark, at prison’s gate sings, 

And Eastman ‘gins likewise;

Trump’s team now waters at those springs 

Where Stephen Bannon lies. 

Where Rudy Giuliani is, 

 And Meadows, sweets, doth lie:

Arise, arise.

November 24th, 2022
Lines on Thanksgiving

And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.

Next Page »

Latest UD posts at IHE

Archives

Categories