This is the line that for him I pen

cf. photograph by Les Anderson via Unsplash (edited)

I remember
when I was young
rowing into a storm
you were on the shore
running alongside me
shouting something
but I wasn’t listening
now, many years later
I’m still rowing
and I still see you
and I remember
everything you said

— J.S.

Song For My Father

My dear Jim

Jack Delano, “Flagman walks back to flag any oncoming trains…” (1943)

Do not wear your soul out with tears but be as usually brave and look hopefully to the future.

— Letter to James Joyce from his mother (quoted in Richard Ellmann, James Joyce)

Hero

photograph by Liane Metzler via Unsplash

I believe I can cover most of the expenses of publication of my daughter’s “Alphabet.” My idea is not to persuade her that she is a Cézanne but that, on her 29th birthday, she may see something to persuade her that her whole past has not been a failure.

The reason I keep on trying by every means to find a solution for her case — which may come at any time as it did with my eyes — is that she may not think that she is left with a blank future as well.

I am aware that I am blamed by everybody for sacrificing that “precious metal” — money — to such an extent for such a purpose when it could be done so cheaply and quietly by locking her up in an economical “mental prison” for the rest of her life. I will not do so as long as I see a single chance of hope for her recovery nor blame her or punish her for the great crime she has committed in being a victim to one of the most elusive diseases known to men and unknown to medicine.

And I imagine that if you were where she is and felt as she must you would perhaps feel some hope if you felt that you were neither abandoned nor forgotten.

— Letter from James Joyce to Harriet Weaver, 1936 (quoted in Richard Ellmann, James Joyce)
 

“Santa Agonistes” (A True Story)

Historic American Buildings Survey, Side and front entrance, facing west – Sears Department Store…

My family arrived early.

The Christmas decorations were already up and large strands of gold were wreathed between the lamp poles in the parking lot.

The crisp December air was muted by the extravagant winter coat I was wearing.

My father put me on his shoulders.

The helicopter came into view – hovering and then slowly descending.

Through the cockpit glass I could see that something was wrong.

Murmurs ran through the crowd.

When the cabin door finally opened Santa looked very pale.

In an instant my parents and I were running wildly for our car.

As we pulled away I saw the helicopter receding into the night.

–J.S., “Santa Agonistes” (A True Story)

“I went to Uttoxeter in very bad weather and stood for a considerable time bareheaded in the rain…”

cf. State Library and Archives of Florida, Walking on a rainy day in Tallahassee (detail) (1961)

“…he mentioned that he could not in general accuse himself of having been an undutiful son. “Once, indeed (said he), I was disobedient; I refused to attend my father to Uttoxeter-market. Pride was the source of that refusal, and the remembrance of it was painful. A few years ago I desired to atone for this fault; I went to Uttoxeter in very bad weather, and stood for a considerable time bareheaded in the rain, on the spot where my father’s stall used to stand. In contrition I stood, and I hope the penance was expiatory.”

–James Boswell, The Life Of Samuel Johnson

Love and mercy, that’s what you need tonight…

Father And Son

Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., “…Model apartment living room, to sofa” (1941)

I lived on a hill that had too many rooms;
Light we could make, but not enough of warmth,
And when the light failed, I climbed under the hill.
The papers are delivered every day;
I am alone and never shed a tear.

—Stanely Kunitz, Father And Son (excerpt)
 

“Something Warm” – Rick Derringer

“With No Explanation”

Jack Delano, Untitled Photograph (detail) (1940)

One white morning, you awoke to find
your black feathers rooted in the lake’s early freeze.
Your friends had fled. Across the gelid expanse,
I answer your haunting call.
Here I am. Look at me. Talk to me.

—Margo Button, “With No Explanation” (excerpt)

“We missed him while he was with us…”

“Austin’s Family went to Geneva, and Austin lived with us four weeks. It seemed peculiar-pathetic-and Antediluvian. We missed him while he was with us and missed him when he was gone. All is so very curious…”

–Emily Dickinson, letter to Mrs. J.G. Holland, late January 1875