When I was stone blue I knew what to do.

cf. National Geographic Magazine (1948)

EXERT thy voice, sweet harbinger of Spring!
This moment is thy time to sing,
This moment I attend to praise,
And set my numbers to thy lays.
Free as thine shall be my song;
As thy music, short or long.

Poets wild as thee were born,
Pleasing best when unconfined,
When to please is least designed,
Soothing but their cares to rest:
Cares do still their thoughts molest,
And still th’ unhappy poet’s breast,

Like thine, when best he sings, is placed against a thorn.
She begins, let all be still!
Muse, thy promise now fulfil!
Sweet, oh sweet! still sweeter yet!

— Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, “To the Nightingale” (excerpt)

Stone Blue

coping: perspective

Photograph by Ioannis Ioannidis via Pixabay

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves…

— from Dubliners, James Joyce

And the operator said, “May I help you please?”

National Geographic Magazine (1948)

I waited all night, I remember that
smoked a cigarette
watched TV
went out and saw some friends
drove by your house
went to a bar and had a beer
got back home and tried to sleep…

— J.S.

I knocked the phone off the nightstand
And the operator said, “May I help you please?”
and I said “No thanks, baby tonight there ain’t no help for me —
see I just had a bad dream, that’s all that’s wrong with me
see I just had a bad dream.”

Crying In My Sleep

Sonnet CXLV

Photograph by Amarpreet Singh via Pixabay

THOSE lips that Love’s own hand did make
Breath’d forth the sound that said ‘I hate,’
To me that languish’d for her sake:
But when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that ever sweet
Was us’d in giving gentle doom;
And taught it thus anew to greet;
‘I hate,’ she alter’d with an end,
That follow’d it as gentle day
Doth follow night, who like a fiend
From heaven to hell is flown away.
‘I hate’ from hate away she threw,
And sav’d my life, saying—‘Not you.’

— Sonnet CXLV (in late 1582 William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway)

Sooner Or Later

“The Road Taken”

George C. Laur, “Students on Their Way to Senior High School…” (ca. 1975)

The Road Taken

Two hundred roads diverged from a yellow house,
And sorry I could not travel all two hundred
And be one traveler, briefly I stood
And looked down one and thought it was good;
And looked down the other one hundred and ninety nine
And thought they were mine.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Even knowing how way leads on to way losing track,
I never doubted that I could come back.
I am telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages ago:
Two hundred roads diverged —
I took number one ninety nine to my regret,
And that is what I can’t forget.

— J.S. (cf. Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”)

Broadway Hotel

meditating upon the meaning of the line “clams on the halfshell and rollerskates” in the song “good times” by chic

cf. photograph by Thomas J. O’Halloran, “The Plum disco dancing [1119 21st St. NW]” (1977) and
video by Luiz-Jorge-Artista via Pixabay (edited and recomposed collage by me)

go away, you bitter cuss.   it’s still 1980 somewhere, some corner
  of your dark apartment
where the mystery of the lyric hasn’t faded.   and love is in the
 chorus waiting to be born

— D. A. Powell, meditating upon the meaning of the line “clams on the halfshell and rollerskates” in the song “good times” by chic (excerpt) (Poetry, September 2006)

Good Times by Chic

Echo

Library of Congress, “Reflection” (ca. 1910)

COME to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.

— Christina Rossetti, “Echo”

Body And Soul

Et tu, Brutè? (a true story)

cf. Kim Rintling, “IMG_5859” (1980) (edited)

Et tu, Brutè? (a true story)

I stepped out of my office to have a cigarette.
It was about 11 o’clock and I needed a break.
I was standing near the parking lot when I noticed a large shadow.
I could vaguely hear a muffled argument.
I looked up and to my horror and surprise I saw the Little Caesars blimp
coming in fast, low and right towards me.
I could see the pilots arguing in the gondola so I started waving in what must have seemed like a futile gesture.
The wind picked up and the blimp began to fishtail down the street —would it hit me, my office or my car?
It must have been headed to a grand opening or something but my office had nothing to do with it.
I tried to light another cigarette out of nervousness but it’s difficult in the wind and then I realized it probably wasn’t a good idea to have an open flame in the area.
After what seemed like an eternity the ship seemed to right itself and it sauntered past me and down the adjacent street.
I ran inside and tried to pull myself together.

— J.S.

Up, Up and Away

Solitaire

W.E. Daugherty, “Solitary” (ca. 1904)

BEHOLD her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

— Wordsworth, The Solitary Reaper

I’m thinking of you Mary Anne…

Mary Anne

For again Scrooge saw himself. He was older now…

magazine advertisement (1967)

“Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you are,” she returned. “I am. That which promised happiness when we were one in heart, is fraught with misery now that we are two. How often and how keenly I have thought of this, I will not say. It is enough that I have thought of it, and can release you.”

“Have I ever sought release?”

“In words. No. Never.”

“In what, then?”

“In a changed nature; in an altered spirit; in another atmosphere of life; another Hope as its great end. In everything that made my love of any worth or value in your sight. If this had never been between us,” said the girl, looking mildly, but with steadiness, upon him; “tell me, would you seek me out and try to win me now? Ah, no!”

He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition, in spite of himself. But he said with a struggle, “You think not.”

“I would gladly think otherwise if I could,” she answered, “Heaven knows! When I have learned a Truth like this, I know how strong and irresistible it must be. But if you were free to-day, to-morrow, yesterday, can even I believe that you would choose a dowerless girl— you who, in your very confidence with her, weigh everything by Gain: or, choosing her, if for a moment you were false enough to your one guiding principle to do so, do I not know that your repentance and regret would surely follow? I do; and I release you. With a full heart, for the love of him you once were.”

— Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Love Is The Answer

O! for my sake do you with Fortune chide

O! FOR my sake do you with Fortune chide
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide
Than public means which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdu’d
To what it works in, like the dyer’s hand:
Pity me, then, and wish I were renew’d;
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
Potions of eisel ’gainst my strong infection;
No bitterness that I will bitter think,
Nor double penance, to correct correction.
Pity me, then, dear friend, and I assure ye
Even that your pity is enough to cure me.

— Sonnet CXI

Work To Do

What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?…
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare…
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new…

— Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

“Flying High Again” Randy Rhoads Guitar Track

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought

cf. “Shy Guy” (1947)

WHEN to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear times’ waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish’d sight…

— Sonnet XXX

Whenever You’re On My Mind

When I consider every thing that grows holds in perfection but a little moment

cf. Edwin Rosskam, “Untitled photo…” (1936)

WHEN I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and check’d e’en by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay,
To change your day of youth to sullied night;
And, all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

— Sonnet XV

Who Knows Where The Time Goes

carpe diem quam minimum credula postero

Party at The Met, ca. 1960s

LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

— A. E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad

BELL & JAMES — Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)

Phenomenal

cf. Arthur Murray Dance Studio television commercial (ca. 1970)

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet…

— Maya Angelou, Phenomenal Woman

Extraordinary

“Take, oh take those lips away”

William Glackens, “At Mouquin’s” (1905)

Take, oh take those lips away,
That so sweetly were forsworn,
And those eyes: the breake of day,
Lights that do mislead the Morn;
But my kisses bring again, bring again,
Seals of love, but sealed in vain, sealed in vain.

Measure for Measure

Hurting Each Other

Thalatta! Thalatta!

Photograph by Radu Florin via Unsplash

And when all had reached the summit, then indeed they fell to embracing one another, and generals and captains as well, with tears in their eyes. And on a sudden, at the bidding of some one or other, the soldiers began to bring stones and to build a great cairn…

— Xenophon, Anabasis

Doorstep

da capo

Hillary G. Bailey, “The Last Chord” (ca. 1935)

da capo

I remember the songs you taught me
by heart
and I can still see your hands on the keys —
graceful and intuitive
and the old upright still reverberates your memory
through the light and dust
and the years

— J.S.
 

Gallery

“…a new failure — and I have had enough of it.” (Vincent van Gogh, born on this day)

Before leaving Saint-Rémy, he wrote to Émile Bernard:

“…And yet, once again I let myself go reaching for stars that are too big —
a new failure — and I have had enough of it.”


Perseverance

Photograph by Les Anderson via Unsplash

Perseverance

When all the world is looming dark
And things seem not so clear,
When shadows seem to hover ’round
Lord, may I persevere.
When it seems everything’s been tried
And there’s no way to go,
Just let me keep remembering
Sometimes the journey’s slow.
I may just need to stop and rest
Along the path I trod,
A time to try to understand
And have my talk with God.
As I gain new strength to carry on
Without a doubt or fear,
Somehow I know things will be right,
And so, I persevere.

— Anne Stortz

Roll On Down The Highway

“parking lot denouement”

Maclean’s Magazine, 1970

parking lot denouement

the passionate shepherd stood next to his honda civic
juliet stood nearby
all the stars in the sky
time slowed down
our lives were suspended
just for a moment
at a point turning
and then you were gone
the parking lot was empty,
all the pleasures waiting to be proved

— J.S.

There She Goes

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more.

National Geographic, 1969

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more.
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into hey nonny, nonny.

Much Ado About Nothing

Out of your whole life give but one moment!

Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, Inc., Beginning to Date (1953)

Out of your whole life give but one moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it, – so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present, – condense,
In a rapture of rage, for perfection’s endowment,
Thought and feeling and soul and sense –
Merged in a moment which gives me at last
You around me for once, you beneath me, above me –
Me – sure that despite of time future, time past, –
This tick of our life-time’s one moment you love me!
How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet –
The moment eternal – just that and no more –
When ecstasy’s utmost we clutch at the core
While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut and lips meet!

— Robert Browning, “Now”

Ceci n’est pas une intersection.

Photograph by Daniel Monteiro via Unsplash

Ceci n’est pas une intersection.

In the warm twilight
I am translated
refracted
at the red light
the song on the radio
preternatural
holding, as ‘twere,
the mirror up to nature
and unravels my heart

— J.S.

Inside Out

Hyperion

Popular Mechanics, 1974

“Saturn, look up!—though wherefore, poor old King?
I have no comfort for thee, no not one:
I cannot say, “O wherefore sleepest thou?”
For heaven is parted from thee, and the earth
Knows thee not, thus afflicted, for a God;
And ocean too, with all its solemn noise,
Has from thy sceptre pass’d; and all the air
Is emptied of thine hoary majesty.
Thy thunder, conscious of the new command,
Rumbles reluctant o’er our fallen house;
And thy sharp lightning in unpractis’d hands
Scorches and burns our once serene domain.
O aching time! O moments big as years!

— Keats, Hyperion

She Brings the Rain

That man who sits in front of you

Harry E. Goodwin, “The Barker” (ca. 1935)

He seems very similar to the gods
That man who sits in front of you
And listens to you speaking
And smiles softly;
And suddenly my heart throbs.
When I glance at you,
I can no longer speak…

— Sappho, Fragment 31 (Tr. Labate)

Sideshow

Non Scholae Sed Vitae Discimus

Sports Illustrated, 1965

Non Scholae Sed Vitae Discimus

we shared a vanilla ice cream cone
under a vaulted arch
and a carillon chorale
through the leaded diamond pane window
I could hear
something about British history

— J.S.

See A Little Light

Hesperide Summer

Herbert L. Spencer, “Mere Man” (ca. 1934)

EXCEPT the smaller size, no Lives are round,
These hurry to a sphere, and show, and end.
The larger, slower grow, and later hang—
The Summers of Hesperides are long.

— Emily Dickinson

Lonely Weekend

In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire…

cf. edited digital collage featuring photograph by Simon Migaj (man in jacket reaching) via Unsplash

Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory—
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the belovèd’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

— Shelley, “Music when Soft Voices Die (To –)”

Just once in a very blue moon
And I feel one comin’ on soon…

Once In A Very Blue Moon

depression mantra

cf. edited collage featuring photograph by Sasha Freemind (man at window) via Unsplash

never give in, never give in, never, never, never…

— Winston Churchill, October 29, 1941, Harrow School

 

“the docent”

Patio from the Castle of Vélez Blanco (1506–15) on view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 534

the docent

just before
closing time
i found myself
in european sculpture and decorative arts
lost in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries
with so much to learn
and you resplendently reverberant
in a white blouse
like an impressionist painting

— J.S.

Hatchie — Sure

a fever, longing still

Hot Rod Girl (1956)

In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heav’nly-pensive contemplation dwells,
And ever-musing melancholy reigns;
What means this tumult…?
Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat?
Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat?

— Alexander Pope, Eloisa to Abelard

I Want You Bad

holding on

cf. photograph by Myriams-Fotos via Pixabay and video by MixailMixail via Pixabay (edited collage)

ASHES denote that fire was;
Respect the grayest pile
For the departed creature’s sake
That hovered there awhile.

Fire exists the first in light,
And then consolidates,—
Only the chemist can disclose
Into what carbonates.

— Emily Dickinson

Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: I. Adagio

Rip Van Winkle

Northeastern University, Course Catalog (1973-74)

Tired I feel now. Will I get up? O wait… She kissed me. Never again. My youth. Only once it comes. Or hers. Take the train there tomorrow. No. Returning not the same. Like kids your second visit to a house. The new I want. Nothing new under the sun. Care of P. O. Dolphin’s Barn. Are you not happy in your? Naughty darling. At Dolphin’s barn charades in Luke Doyle’s house. Mat Dillon and his bevy of daughters: Tiny, Atty, Floey, Maimy, Louy, Hetty. Molly too. Eightyseven that was. Year before we. And the old major, partial to his drop of spirits. Curious she an only child, I an only child. So it returns. Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home. And just when he and she. Circus horse walking in a ring. Rip van Winkle we played. Rip: tear in Henny Doyle’s overcoat. Van: breadvan delivering. Winkle: cockles and periwinkles. Then I did Rip van Winkle coming back. She leaned on the sideboard watching. Moorish eyes. Twenty years asleep in Sleepy Hollow. All changed. Forgotten. The young are old…

— Joyce, Ulysses

Strawberry Wine

sequelae

photograph by mikegi via Pixabay (detail)

One white morning, you awoke to find
your black feathers rooted in the lake’s early freeze.
Your friends had fled…

— Margo Button, “With No Explanation”


Wouldn’t It Be Good – Nik Kershaw

A poor torn heart, a tattered heart

W. T. Starr, “The Idler” (ca. 1916)

A poor torn heart, a tattered heart,
That sat it down to rest,
Nor noticed that the ebbing day
Flowed silver to the west,
Nor noticed night did soft descend
Nor constellation burn,
Intent upon the vision
Of latitudes unknown…

— Emily Dickinson