Il fuoco dell’amore

Thomas J. O’Halloran, “Students leaving school” (1977)

Ne regarde pas la figure,
Jeune fille, regarde le cœur.
Le cœur d’un beau jeune homme est souvent difforme.
Il y a des cœurs où l’amour ne se conserve pas.

Jeune fille, le sapin n’est pas beau,
N’est pas beau comme le peuplier,
Mais il garde son feuillage l’hiver…

— Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris

The First Cut Is the Deepest

A Painful Case

Photograph by Etienne Boulanger via Unsplash

It was after nine o’clock when he left the shop. The night was cold and gloomy. He entered the Park by the first gate and walked along under the gaunt trees. He walked through the bleak alleys where they had walked four years before. She seemed to be near him in the darkness. At moments he seemed to feel her voice touch his ear, her hand touch his. He stood still to listen. Why had he withheld life from her?…He felt his moral nature falling to pieces.

— Joyce, from Dubliners

Mandolin Rain

Sonnet CXXII

cf. National Geographic Magazine (1952) (Edited Collage)

THY gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Full character’d with lasting memory,
Which shall above that idle rank remain,
Beyond all date, even to eternity…

Mainstreet

my lost self

RIP

John Sapiro

cf. photograph by Cherry Laithang via Unsplash (edited collage)

like Antaeus
drifting in the darkest night
searching for my long lost self —
my strength
my spirit
myself
and then I touch ground
again

— J.S.

Van Halen – 6/12/81 – Oakland Coliseum

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“A Complaint by Night of the Lover not beloved”

cf. Video by Welton Souza via Pexels

ALAS! so all things now do hold their peace!
Heaven and earth disturbed in no thing;
The beasts, the air, the birds their song do cease,
The nightès car the stars about doth bring.
Calm is the sea; the waves work less and less:
So am not I, whom love, alas! doth wring,
Bringing before my face the great increase
Of my desires, whereat I weep and sing,
In joy and woe, as in a doubtful ease.
For my sweet thoughts sometime do pleasure bring;
But by and by, the cause of my disease
Gives me a pang, that inwardly doth sting,
When that I think what grief it is again,
To live and lack the thing should rid my pain.

— Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, “A Complaint by Night of the Lover not beloved”

Nights Are Forever Without You

A Serenade at the Villa

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1966) (edit)

I
That was I, you heard last night,
When there rose no moon at all,
Nor, to pierce the strained and tight
Tent of heaven, a planet small:
Life was dead and so was light.

II
Not a twinkle from the fly,
Not a glimmer from the worm;
When the crickets stopped their cry,
When the owls forbore a term,
You heard music; that was I…

IV
What they could my words expressed,
O my love, my all, my one!
Singing helped the verses best,
And when singing’s best was done,
To my lute I left the rest…

— Robert Browning, A Serenade at the Villa (excerpt)

Gabrielle

The Waiting Game

WHEN you are very old, at evening
You’ll sit and spin beside the fire, and say,
Humming my songs, “Ah well, ah well-a-day!
When I was young, of me did Ronsard sing.”
None of your maidens that doth hear the thing,
Albeit with her weary task foredone,
But wakens at my name, and calls you one
Blest, to be held in long remembering.

I shall be low beneath the earth, and laid
On sleep, a phantom in the myrtle shade,
While you beside the fire, a grandame grey,
My love, your pride, remember and regret;
Ah, love me, love! we may be happy yet,
And gather roses, while ’tis called to-day.

— Pierre de Ronsard, “Of His Lady’s Old Age” (Tr. Lang)

The Waiting Game

A Late Walk

Rainy day, Paris, August, 1984

WHEN I go up through the mowing field,
The headless aftermath,
Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
Half closes the garden path.

And when I come to the garden ground,
The whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
Is sadder than any words.

A tree beside the wall stands bare,
But a leaf that lingered brown,
Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
Comes softly rattling down.

I end not far from my going forth
By picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
To carry again to you.

— Robert Frost, “A Late Walk”

Another Park Another Sunday

ephemera

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1970)

Tide be runnin’ the great world over:
T’was only last June month I mind that we
Was thinkin’ the toss and the call in the breast of the lover
So everlastin’ as the sea.

Heer’s the same little fishes that sputter and swim,
Wi’ the moon’s old glim on the grey, wet sand;
An’ him no more to me nor me to him
Than the wind goin’ over my hand.

— Charlotte Mew, “Sea Love”

I Can’t Make You Love Me

“Poetry Was Like This”

David Stroble, “Students at Band Practice at Cathedral High School…” (ca. 1975)

Poetry was the memory of adolescence…
Poetry was Ayesha Akhter of my village school
with her long loose flowing hair.

— Al Mahmud, “Poetry Was Like This” (Tr. Chowdhury)

Baby, Now That I’ve Found You

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

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

“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

The Ghost Of Christmas Past

cf. Thomas J. O’Halloran, “Christmas Shoppers…” (detail) (1969) (Edited by me)

FALSTAFF [to Doll]:
Thou dost give me flattering busses.
DOLL TEARSHEET:
By my troth, I kiss thee with a most constant heart.
FALSTAFF:
I am old, I am old.
DOLL TEARSHEET:
I love thee better than I love e’er a scurvy young
boy of them all.

Henry IV, Part 2

And The Beat Goes On

‘Cause when I get close to you, not much to say.

Warren K. Leffler, “Teen age [i.e., teenage] economy” (detail) (1964)

Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
In least speak most, to my capacity.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

It’s Easy

Oberon on the request line

Thomas J. O’Halloran, “WFC-AM & WKYS-FM radio operation” (1977)

OBERON:
Sound music.
[Music.]
Come, my queen, take hands with me,
And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be…
[Titania and Oberon dance.]

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

FM

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

Time has but half succeeded in his theft— Thyself removed, thy power to soothe me left.

Frances S. Allen, “The difficult step” (ca. 1900)

OH that those lips had language! Life has passed
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
Those lips are thine—thy own sweet smile I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me;
Voice only fails, else how distinct they say,
‘Grieve not, my child, chase all thy fears away!’

— William Cowper, “On the Receipt of My Mother’s Picture out of Norfolk”

Everything I Own

footfall

cf. Photograph by Shane Rounce (detail) via Unsplash and CGI by pixel shox

footfall

i stepped back into time
waded into the same river twice
you know, nick had some really good advice for gatsby
it’s easy to get lost
romance glancer
true love chancer
happiness chaser
gone again spacer

— J.S.

Spacer

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

elegy

The Mirror (1975)

Stephen, an elbow rested on the jagged granite, leaned his palm against his brow and gazed at the fraying edge of his shiny black coat-sleeve. Pain, that was not yet the pain of love, fretted his heart. Silently, in a dream she had come to him after her death, her wasted body within its loose brown graveclothes giving off an odour of wax and rosewood…

— Joyce, Ulysses

In Loving Memory

evocation

Carol M. Highsmith, “Dramatic View of John Hancock Building, Boston, Massachusetts” (ca. 1980)

evocation

i called you on the telephone
i was on mass ave
with a guitar and flowers
on the wind
summer twilight
and your voice

— J.S.

Sharing The Night Together

Endymion

cf. Unknown, “Amateur Snapshot Album” (1890–92)

Many and many a verse I hope to write,
Before the daisies, vermeil rimm’d and white,
Hide in deep herbage; and ere yet the bees
Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas,
I must be near the middle of my story.
O may no wintry season, bare and hoary,
See it half finish’d: but let Autumn bold,
With universal tinge of sober gold,
Be all about me when I make an end.
And now, at once adventuresome, I send
My herald thought into a wilderness:
There let its trumpet blow, and quickly dress
My uncertain path with green, that I may speed
Easily onward, thorough flowers and weed.

— Keats, Endymion

Carefree Highway

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.
 

“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

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

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

Delia 1: Unto the boundless Ocean of thy beauty (The Strawberry Blonde)

Maclean’s Magazine (1967)

Unto the boundless Ocean of thy beauty
Runs this poor river, charged with streams of zeal:
Returning thee the tribute of my duty,
Which here my love, my youth, my plaints reveal.
Here I unclasp the book of my charged soul,
Where I have cast th’accounts of all my care:
Here have I summed my sighs, here I enroll
How they were spent for thee; look what they are.
Look on the dear expenses of my youth,
And see how just I reckon with thine eyes:
Examine well thy beauty with my truth,
And cross my cares ere greater sum arise.
Read it sweet maid, though it be done but slightly;
Who can show all his love, doth love but lightly.

— Samuel Daniel, Delia 1: Unto the boundless Ocean of thy beauty

The Strawberry Blonde

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

“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

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

by heart

cf. Carleton H. Graves, “A game of chess” (detail) (ca. 1905) (edited)

by heart

the car passed under
the lights on the overpass
your voice traced
a rush of autumn
at the restaurant
your smile
echoes
across the years

— J.S.

Parallel Lines

a portrait of the artist as a young man

cf. photograph by guvo59 via Pixabay (edit) and video by McZerrill via Pixabay (edited collage)

The carriage swerved from the tramtrack to the smoother road past Watery lane. Mr Bloom at gaze saw a lithe young man, clad in mourning, a wide hat.

—There’s a friend of yours gone by, Dedalus, he said.

—Who is that?

—Your son and heir.

—Where is he? Mr Dedalus said, stretching over across.

The carriage, passing the open drains and mounds of rippedup roadway before the tenement houses, lurched round the corner and, swerving back to the tramtrack, rolled on noisily with chattering wheels. Mr Dedalus fell back, saying:

—Was that Mulligan cad with him? His fidus Achates!

—No, Mr Bloom said. He was alone…

Joyce, Ulysses

Way To Blue

Super Bowl V ½

cf. Library Company of Philadelphia, “Wissahickon Creek” (detail) and
photograph by Bob Canning via Unsplash (edited collage)

Super Bowl V ½

the ultrablue winter twilight
and my huge snowsuit
as the ball sailed over the clothesline

— J.S.
 

“THE EPOCH”

Art Hanson, “Students Resting in the Hall Against Their Lockers Waiting for Class…” (1975)

At the inn, Coleridge emblazoned into his Notebook, in huge, drunken capital letters, two portentous words, “THE EPOCH”, followed by three pages of frantic scrawl…

— Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections

You Can’t Change That

“moment mirabilis (January, 1983)”

cf. photograph by Karsten Würth via Unsplash (edited)

moment mirabilis (January, 1983)

billie jean on the car radio
on the on ramp
sunlight through a distant willow tree
sparkles glass
far away
cold air through the clouds diverging
I took a deep breath
and accelerated

— J.S.

“I was in love once — would you believe that?”

Northeastern University Course Catalog, 1978-79

“I, uh, I was in love once — would you believe that? But I possessed neither the courage nor the optimism — perhaps the depth of feeling — that you two have.”

— A Christmas Carol (1984)