photograph by Hari Nandakumar via Unsplash
Whiskey Tango Charlie
at the airport lounge
nothing gold can stay
photograph by Hari Nandakumar via Unsplash
Whiskey Tango Charlie
at the airport lounge
nothing gold can stay
cf. photograph by Vlad Bagacian via Pexels
In the last year of his life he wrote his daughter, “I wish now I’d never relaxed or looked back – but said at the end of “The Great Gatsby”: I’ve found my line – from now on this comes first. This is my immediate duty – without this I am nothing.”
— Arthur Mizener, “Gatsby, 35 Years Later”
Almost ten years ago I participated in the conference whose proceedings would become the volume “Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies: Consequences of Skepticism.” Stanley sat directly in front of me and listened attentively to my talk, thrilling and scary, not to say awkward, reading out “Cavell writes…” and “Cavell says…” with the man right there. After the Q and A, someone, I don’t remember who, brought me over and introduced us. Stanley shook my hand and with the other patted my shoulder and said, with a broad smile, “Stay on your path, young man.”
— Paul Grimstad, “Stay on Your Path, Young Man”
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1968)
DEVOURING Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-liv’d phoenix in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleets,
And do whate’er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
O! carve not with thy hours my love’s fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty’s pattern to succeeding men.
Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.
— Sonnet XIX
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1968)
All that I know
Of a certain star,
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue,
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.
— Robert Browning
photograph by Brayden Law via Unsplash
the candle burns
the wind sits
nightfall is far
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1969)
“When I compare the aspect of the world to me now with what it was twelve months ago, I am far from desponding or complaining. I seem to have a motive and a rallying-word in the fight of life: …Alles für Ruhm und Ihr!”
— Letter from Thomas Carlyle to Jane Welsh
cf. Prelinger Archives Home Movie (edited)
old and grey and full of sleep
then you were
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1969)
…the custom of all the gentlemen of the house was to betake themselves straightway after supper to my lady Duchess; where, among the other pleasant pastimes and music and dancing that continually were practiced, sometimes neat questions were proposed, sometimes ingenious games were devised at the choice of one or another, in which under various disguises the company disclosed their thoughts figuratively to whom they liked best.
— Castiglione, “The Book Of The Courtier” (1528)
A reminder that the smallest things are the biggest things for which to give thanks…
Sylvia and Erma are spending the day with their respective families – giving thanks for the meal they’ll share, the orderly chaos of the kitchens, and their children who wish to forego the turkey for the pies that have been freshly extracted from the oven. And without a doubt, as these women sit down with their broods, however big or small, they take at least a second if not a hundred to give thanks for each other and their bond of friendship. And as I prepare the Thanksgiving feast, I’m thinking about how we all count our blessings on this day- love, health, family, friendship, peace, freedom, etc. but too often forget the little things, all of the tidbits that create the essence of our daily lives.
For dinner even when it’s out of a box or take-out. For the compliment whether it is “I like your shoes” or…
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cf. from the Nationaal Archief collection, 1940 (edited)
pure of heart
I could not save myself
the lost time
and the person I was
Nationaal Archief, “Men’s fashion fair at the RAI in Amsterdam” (1973)
Recovering himself in a minute he opened for us two hulking patent cabinets which held his massed suits and dressing-gowns and ties, and his shirts, piled like bricks in stacks a dozen high.
“I’ve got a man in England who buys me clothes. He sends over a selection of things at the beginning of each season, spring and fall.”
He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher–shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange with monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.
“They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such–such beautiful shirts before.”
— Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Photograph by Les Anderson on Unsplash (edited collage)
if you ever fall in love
to the sounds of violins
and a melody that wraps itself
around your heart
look for her
one more time
cf. CIO Magazine (1987)
All my past life is mine no more,
The flying hours are gone,
Like transitory dreams giv’n o’er,
Whose images are kept in store
By memory alone.
The time that is to come is not;
How can it then be mine?
The present moment’s all my lot;
And that, as fast as it is got,
Phyllis, is only thine.
Then talk not of inconstancy,
False hearts, and broken vows;
If I, by miracle, can be
This live-long minute true to thee,
’Tis all that Heav’n allows.
— John Wilmot Earl of Rochester
cf. Nation’s Business Magazine (1970)
in the room
will not come again
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”
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1987)
was the past in color?
1987 was in color
bigger than life
but then again
it could have been
only black and white —
I can’t see in this light
late at night
Maclean’s Magazine (1976)
Jill: I’m not so sure you can’t hurt him. Maybe more than anybody. (Crosses above table.) I think you deserve all the credit you can get for turning out a pretty marvelous guy—but bringing up a son—even a blind one—isn’t a lifetime occupation. (Mrs. Baker turns U., away from Jill.) Now the more you help him, the more you hurt him. It was Linda Fletcher—not you— (Mrs. Baker turns and looks at Jill Slowly.) who gave him the thing he needed most—confidence in himself. (Crossing away L.) You’re always dwelling on the negative—always what he needs, never what he wants … always what he can’t do, never what he can. (Crosses D. end of sofa.) What about his music? Have you heard the song he wrote? I’ll bet you didn’t even know he could write songs! (Crosses above table.) You’re probably dead right about me. I’m not the ideal girl for Don, but I know one thing—neither are you!! And if I’m going to tell anyone to go home, it’ll be you, Mrs. Baker. YOU go home!! (Turns and exits into her apartment, closing door behind her. Mrs. Baker watches her go.)
Bright Star (2009)
The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you against the unpromising morning of my Life—My love has made me selfish.
— Letter from Keats to Fanny Brawne
Image by Vicki Nunn via Pixabay
That time of year
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold…
I am sharing another inspirational post from one of my favorite blogs, “ARE YOU THERE, ERMA? IT’S ME, SYLVIA.”
Sylvia loved the simplicity and easiness of holding Cam’s hand. More telling for her though than the actual act of holding his hand was the idea that he wanted her. Her hand in his. He desired her touch and invited her into the moment and into a new chapter in her own life.
Like Sylvia, I love holding hands. I giggle at the thought of it. There’s a playful energy and a sense of youthfulness about holding hands. Hold my hand when we cross the street. I’ll hold yours during the scary parts. Take my hand in yours, and let’s make a run for it! Keep me safe. Lovers. Friends. Spouses. Playmates. Parents and children. Anyone and everyone. Anywhere and everywhere.
If I had to choose a universal way of communicating care, empathy, love, friendship, and all that makes my soul burgeon with emotion, it would be by holding hands…
View original post 369 more words
To smash the simple atom
All mankind was intent.
Now any day
The atom may
Return the compliment.
John Sapiro and I began our email correspondence about this little poem and the history of the atomic age a few months ago, before the early August anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but amidst the early chaos of the pandemic. It seemed almost ridiculous to be talking about yet another threat to worldwide health, peace, and humanity — and yet, it was the mood of the day. I couldn’t find an exact date for Ethel Jacobson’s poem, although it is in a book I have that has a copyright date of 1952. And so our conversation centered mostly around the cold war of the 1950s and 60s but veered around widely. We talked about the physicist Richard Feynman and his…
View original post 227 more words
Photograph by Juliane Mergener via Unsplash
upon a violin
Sentio, ergo sum
my musical Descartes
into my heart
mercy I cried
but in her lantern slide
did see my life
as though magnified
cf. Photographs by Les Anderson via Unsplash (edit)
on rainy nights
cf. Video by Bassman5420 via Pixabay (edited and modified by me)
When divine Art conceives a form and face,
She bids the craftsman for his first essay
To shape a simple model in mere clay:
This is the earliest birth of Art’s embrace.
From the live marble in the second place
His mallet brings into the light of day
A thing so beautiful that who can say
When time shall conquer that immortal grace?
Thus my own model I was born to be–
The model of that nobler self, whereto
Schooled by your pity, lady, I shall grow.
Each overplus and each deficiency
You will make good. What penance then is due
For my fierce heat, chastened and taught by you?
— Michelangelo, The Model And The Statue
Horst Ehricht, “Spring!” (Maclean’s Magazine, 1971)
Last night I was in the garden till 11 o’clock. It was the sweetest night that e’er I saw. The garden looked so well and the jasmine smelt beyond all perfume. And yet I was not pleased. The place had all the charms it used to have when I was most satisfied with it, and had you been there I should have liked it much more than ever I did; but that not being, it was no more to me than the next field…
— Letter from Dorothy Osborne to Sir William Temple, Sunday, July 10th, 1653
the oxford companion to modern poetry
…the major part of his verse is published on his very sparsely visited WordPress blog.
He is still part of the Romantic school even though this mode has long been repudiated.
His work lumbers through the same recurring themes over and over again —
the failed (or failing) romance, the ever popular carpe diem trope and a kind of bitter melancholic nostalgia that this reviewer, for one, finds distasteful.
An early instructive example is “Astrophysics (Halley’s Poem)”.
Here the lover is unflatteringly compared to Halley’s Comet.
She left the poet in 1986 traveling at high rate of speed and the grandiose Galileo quotation would only gild the lily if there was a lily to gild.
His more recent work such as “And the operator said, ‘May I help you please?’” again finds the poet au fait with loving and losing.
Poems such as these have this reviewer wondering whether Tennyson’s famous aphorism is generally applicable.
Providentially his verse is interlarded with songs from the 1970s (the poet’s salad days) and occasionally (and regrettably) some hair metal classics.
We do not expect a volume of his collected works at this time but anticipate further elaboration of these leitmotifs on his blog.
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1965)
Hear me, queen:
The strong necessity of time commands
Our services awhile, but my full heart
Remains in use with you.
— Antony and Cleopatra
National Geographic Magazine (1948)
I waited all night, I remember that
smoked a cigarette
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…
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.”
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1962)
all along the avenue
indulging in reminiscence
and sometimes why?
Bob’s Love Affair (1915)
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June —
Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay
In youth when I did love, did love,
Methought it was very sweet…
But age with his stealing steps
Hath clawed me in his clutch…
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)
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”)
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1962)
dost thou think it fire?
dost thou think it fleeting flame?
thou knowest the stars in the sky
and my heart
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)
poem and photograph by me
cf. TV commercial (ca. 1987)
Alas! is even love too weak To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Ah, love, let us be true To one another!
Bright are the stars that shine Dark is the sky
Love seeketh not itself to please,
If thou must love me, let it be for nought Except for love’s sake only
And to his eye There was but one beloved face on earth, And that was shining on him.
She knew she was by him beloved
All passions, all delights, Whatever stirs this mortal frame, All are but ministers of Love,
And in Life’s noisiest hour, There whispers still the ceaseless Love of Thee,
Love is not a feeling to pass away
My heart’s so full of joy, That I shall do some wild extravagance
Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter.
You who suffer because you love, love still more.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever
I love thee, as the good love heaven.
Love keeps the cold out better than a cloak.
Imparadis’d in one another’s arms.
Love is the crowning grace of humanity,
Not grace, or zeal, love only was my call,
Love’s too precious to be lost,
We love but while we may
Love will conquer at the last.
Omnia vincit Amor; et nos cedamus Amori.
To see her is to love her, Oh my luve’s like a red, red rose,
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.
La Dolce Vita (1960)
But if he be indeed the thund’ring Jove,
Bid him, when next he courts the rites of love,
Descend triumphant from th’ etherial sky,
In all the pomp of his divinity,
Encompass’d round by those celestial charms,
With which he fills th’ immortal Juno’s arms…
— Ovid, Metamorphoses (Tr. Garth, Dryden, et al.)
cf. Photograph by Shane Rounce (detail) via Unsplash and CGI by pixel shox
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
true love chancer
gone again spacer
floating far away
SCORN not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frown’d,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Shakespeare unlock’d his heart…
a roman à clef disguised as a blog…
cf. Library of Congress, “King’s Highway (Remains)”
here and gone
found and lost…
Carol M. Highsmith, “Dramatic View of John Hancock Building, Boston, Massachusetts” (ca. 1980)
i called you on the telephone
i was on mass ave
with a guitar and flowers
on the wind
and your voice
Scott, your last fragments I arrange tonight,
Assigning commas, setting accents right,
As once I punctuated, spelled and trimmed
When, passing in a Princeton spring—how dimmed
By this damned quarter-century and more!—
You left your Shadow Laurels at my door.
That was a drama webbed of dreams: the scene
A shimmering beglamored bluish-green
Soiled Paris wineshop; the sad hero one
Who loved applause but had his life alone;
Who fed on drink for weeks; forgot to eat,
“Worked feverishly, ” nourished on defeat
A lyric pride, and lent a lyric voice
To all the tongueless knavish tavern boys,
The liquor-ridden, the illiterate;
Got stabbed one midnight by a tavern-mate—
Betrayed, but self-betrayed by stealthy sins—
And faded to the sound of violins…
— Edmund Wilson, from the Dedication to “The Crack-Up” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“PHILOSOPHICAL” DIALOGUES BETWEEN SOCRATES (S) AND AN IMAGINARY INTERLOCUTOR (ii):
S: Wittgenstein at a restaurant or we can dine at home.
ii: Bertrand, can you Russell up some dinner for me?
S: Francis, Bacon sure smells great when it’s cooking doesn’t it?
ii: That hits Lamarck.
S: I Goethe go.
ii: Rousseau long!
S: Let’s play Heidegger seek!
ii: I Kant find you!
S: Hegel, what’s going on?
ii: We were supposed to go Schopenhauers ago!
S: Don’t put Descartes before the horse! We’ve Spinoza this many times before.
ii: John, Locke the front door and we’ll get going.
S: Foucault? I didn’t hear the phone ring.
ii: Hume are you referring to?
S: Camus come over to visit today?
ii: I’m Newton town so I’m not sure where to go.
S: I’ll Nietzsche in front of my house. Drive Pascal and then take the next left. Husserl can you get here?
ii: Is your house Nietzsche and clean?
S: Rousseau it is. I really Fichte this place up. It looks great. Kierkegaard-en I told you about with lots of flowers.
ii: If that’s Sartre than I’m a Hottentot.
S: Santayana wants me, Lord, I can’t go back there!
ii: Don’t Thoreau your life away!
LIFE Magazine, 1966
I would never see any thing but Pleasure in your eyes, love on your lips, and Happiness in your steps…
— Letter from Keats to Fanny Brawne, July, 1819
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
Photograph by Daniel Monteiro via Unsplash
Ceci n’est pas une intersection.
In the warm twilight
I am translated
at the red light
the song on the radio
holding, as ‘twere,
the mirror up to nature
and unravels my heart
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
Patio from the Castle of Vélez Blanco (1506–15) on view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 534
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
LIFE Magazine, 1966
There’s a letter
in my room
I keep reading
cf. Carleton H. Graves, “A game of chess” (detail) (ca. 1905) (edited)
the car passed under
the lights on the overpass
your voice traced
a rush of autumn
at the restaurant
across the years
Photograph by John Loengard from “The Magic Of A Summer House” (LIFE Magazine, 1969)
I really miss you
because I need to ask
where do I go
What adults never tell you (about growing old)
I’m still there
cf. photograph by photosforyou via Pixabay
This is the very worst hour of the day. Vitality. Dull, gloomy: hate this hour. Feel as if I had been eaten and spewed.
— Joyce, Ulysses
Educational Screen and Audiovisual Guide Magazine, 1961
you held me and sang
come fly with me,
said the little red sled
and you gave me the wings of a bird
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