“Keats, walk a hundred yards over the rim”

cf. photograph by Felix Russell-Saw via Unsplash (edited digital collage)

“Keats, walk a hundred yards over the rim”

Keats,
leave the Piazza di Spagna
walk a hundred yards over the rim
I have your penicillin
I won’t let you go
there are more poems to write
and she is still waiting for you

— J.S.
(cf. “The Twilight Zone”, Season 2, Episode 23, 1961)

Love Lies Bleeding

If he could hold her so close in his arms…again

Northeastern University Course Catalog (1985-86)

hearing your voice
reminds me
one summer
so long ago
was that me
as the radio played
nothing stands between love and you

— J.S.

Girl Can’t Help It

“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

“Life Savers”

photograph by Leon Bublitz via Unsplash

Life Savers

the train rolled around the bend
Life Savers refracting in the glass
autumn aurorae
I ran all the way down the station stop
my heart in my head
and said
I love you

— J.S.

Candy’s Room

On Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts”

Nationaal Archief, “Dutch family having a picnic” (ca. 1960s)

On Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts”

and what of Daedalus? —
secretly deeply sorrowed
while somebody mowed the lawn

— J.S.

The Hissing of Summer Lawns

“Astrophysics (Halley’s Poem)”

Photograph by Adrienne Crow via Unsplash

Astrophysics (Halley’s Poem)

on a planet that is spinning
things move away from you at 1,037 miles per hour
on your knees
you need something to hold
it only comes near every 75 or 76 years —
it was last seen in 1986
“eppur si muove” she said

— J.S.

“To the couple that were kissing at the Greyhound Bus Station, July, 1981”

Charles O’Rear, “Train passengers bound for St. Louis, Missouri, board a chartered bus…” (1974)

To the couple that were kissing at the Greyhound Bus Station, July, 1981

You probably don’t remember me.

I was standing next to you waiting.

I was the guy with the guitar and the paperback copy of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.

You’re in your sixties now.

You’ve been married for 40 years.

It doesn’t seem possible

Because the sun is still reflecting off the luggage compartment door

And the driver is still getting impatient

And her blonde hair is still glistening in the late afternoon haze

And I knew I was going to be late.

— J.S.

Anna Mirabilis

cf. photograph by Trinity Kubassek via Pexels

Anna Mirabilis

she did lie
in her pavilion—cloth-of-gold, of tissue—
o’erpicturing that Venus where we see
the fancy outwork nature
“I thought
she was going
to ask you out!”
let’s not confound the time
with conference harsh
there’s not a minute of our lives
should stretch without some pleasure now
what sport tonight?

— J.S.


I’m On Fire

“Studies In The History Of The Renaissance”

James Jowers, “St. Marks Place” (1968)

“Studies In The History Of The Renaissance”

Pater,
once
I burned
with your
hard gem-like flame
once
maintained this ecstasy
It will not last the night
burning still
a lovely light

— J.S.

Candy’s Room

Icarus and Psyche

photograph by David Raichman via Unsplash

Icarus and Psyche

Keats, what thoughts I have of you tonight
O, Hyperion! O, aching time!
thoughts of the hopes of the past —
the burden of the mystery
of the wide world
I stand alone
a sick eagle
far from the fiery noon
and eve’s one star

— J.S.


Wouldn’t It Be Good

Roderick Hudson

photograph by REVOLT via Unsplash

“It’s greater happiness than you deserve, then! You have never chosen, I say; you have been afraid to choose. You have never really faced the fact that you are false, that you have broken your faith. You have never looked at it and seen that it was hideous, and yet said, ‘No matter, I’ll brave the penalty, I’ll bear the shame!’ You have closed your eyes; you have tried to stifle remembrance, to persuade yourself that you were not behaving as badly as you seemed to be, and there would be some way, after all, of compassing bliss and yet escaping trouble. You have faltered and drifted, you have gone on from accident to accident, and I am sure that at this present moment you can’t tell what it is you really desire!”

— Henry James, Roderick Hudson


Flaming Youth

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.

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”


Point Of Know Return

“Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws”

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

I Just Wanna Stop

My Star

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

Midnight Blue

Omnia Vincit Amor

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

Anybody in their right mind could see it’s you and me…

The Book Of The Courtier

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)


Queen of Hearts

Chapter 5

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

I’ll Be Good To You

“If no love is, O God, what fele I so?”

Photograph by Les Anderson on Unsplash (edited collage)

if you ever fall in love
to the sounds of violins
and bells
and a melody that wraps itself
around your heart
look for her
one more time

— J.S.

Bells of St. Augustine

Love and Life: A Song

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

Hello It’s Me

“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

Was the past in color?

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1987)

was the past in color?

1987 was in color
ablazedboldbrightbrilliant
bigger than life
but then again
it could have been
only black and white —
I can’t see in this light
late at night

— J.S.

Love T.K.O.

Butterflies Are Free

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.)

Oh Sherrie

I know it—and to know it is despair

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

Love Lies Bleeding

That time of year

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…

autumn
leaves
me
again
every year
— J.S.

Always The Last To Know

Atomic Courtesy Collaboration – Jacobson

A collaboration with the talented Marcy Erb and featured on her eclectic blog Illustrated Poetry | Art by Marcy Erb

Illustrated Poetry

GIF by John Sapiro

Atomic Courtesy

To smash the simple atom
All mankind was intent.
Now any day
The atom may
Return the compliment.

Ethel Jacobson

collage of beige and red particles escaping from a black concentric reactor

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…

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“recuerdo”

Photograph by Juliane Mergener via Unsplash

recuerdo

upon a violin
Sentio, ergo sum
my musical Descartes
each song
deeper
deeper
deeper
into my heart
mercy I cried
but in her lantern slide
did see my life
as though magnified

— J.S.

Killing Me Softly With Her Song

The Heart wants what it wants

cf. Edward Hopper, Nighthawks (1942) and Maclean’s Magazine (1971) and letter from Emily Dickinson to Mary Bowles, Spring, 1862
(Thank you to Marcy at Illustrated Poetry | Art by Marcy Erb for the quotation.)

If I Can’t Have You

“The Model And The Statue”

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

Hot Cherie

Call My Name

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

Call My Name