Monday, June 27, 2016

Robert Bly

So the person who has eaten his shadow spreads calmness, and shows more grief than anger. If the ancients were right that darkness contains intelligence and nourishment and even information, then the person who has eaten some of his or her shadow is more energetic as well as more intelligent.
- Robert Bly, A Little Book on the Human Shadow (pg 42)

Alice McDermott

We are surrounded by story.
― Alice McDermott

Lucille Clifton

Children [...] need both windows and mirrors in their lives: mirrors through which you can see yourself and windows through which you can see the world," she explained. "And minority children have not had mirrors. That has placed them at a disadvantage. If you want to call white children majority children - [they] have had only mirrors. That has placed them at a disadvantage also.
- Lucille Clifton, Writer's Almanac

Alice McDermott

The continually reassuring thing is that we're all novices when we start a new work.
- Alice McDermott

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Emily Dickinson

If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.
- Emily Dickinson

Nin Andrews

Read

Michael Phelps

Once my father and I started talking, I haven’t had a dream about snakes.
- Michael Phelps
Article

Jimmy Santiago Baca

But when at last I wrote my first words on the page, I felt an island rising beneath my feet like the back of a whale. As more and more words emerged, I could finally rest: I had a place to stand for the first time in my life. The island grew, with each page, into a continent inhabited by people I knew and mapped with the life I lived.
- Jimmy Santiago Baca

Friday, June 24, 2016

Dancing Plague

June 24, 2016: on this day: outbreak of dancing mania begins in Germany

It was on this day in 1374 in Aachen, Germany that an outbreak of dancing plague or dancing mania, also known as St. Vitus’ Dance, first began. From Aachen it spread across central Europe and as far away as England and Madagascar. Dancing mania affected groups of people — as many as thousands at a time — and caused them to dance uncontrollably for days, weeks, and even months until they collapsed from exhaustion. Some danced themselves to death, suffering heart attacks or broken hips and ribs. At the time, people believed the plague was the result of a curse from St. Vitus. Scientists now tend to believe it was due to ergot poisoning or mass hysteria.
source

Luba Cortés

We will have to keep fighting to live without fear in this place we call home. But in moments like these, of sadness and defeat, I think of the night that we crossed the border. As we were running, I fell and for a moment looked up to the night sky, scared that I would be left behind. But my mom was there, she was there all along — she picked me up, and we started running again.
Article

Language can save Landscape

Can Poets Save the Parks?
“Nothing like trees to make you feel better.”
Article

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer in the 'Hood

This morning while I hung out the clothes to dry three neighborhood five-year-olds discovered a broken cellar window on the tenement next door. They found cinder blocks and a brick holding up the dismantled basketball hoop and began chucking them through the missing window pane. I went over and asked them to stop. When I turned around a man was going through our recycling trash for returnable cans and bottles, emptying the cardboard and paper onto the street. Now there's three kids in a blow up pool in front of the tenement across the street having fun splashing each other while they are sitting waist high in cold water. Summer in the 'hood.

Dream

"Have you ever run before?" A girl asked me.
"Only when someone is chasing me," I said.
I was putting on my running shoes preparing to go for a run. I was on Harris Avenue. I was wearing a nun's habit. Two nuns drove by in a camouflaged tank, noticing me.

Dream

I dreamed I rescued a kitten from the clutches of a hawk. She was unharmed but in shock. I put her in a small round basket lined with cloth to recover and I brought her into my house. I was adopting her.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Good Luck

I saw Alex yesterday. He was dressed as a woman. When he bent down to pet Lily I saw the gray and blue socks stuffed in his bra. He's a beautiful soul. He had his black and white composition book in his hand and his black hair was tied up in two tiny pig tails. We shook hands. "Great to see you, it's always a treat," I said.
"Likewise," he replied.
I noticed the scars on his tan arms.
"How are you?" he asked me.
"I'm okay. How are you?" I asked.
"Pretty good. I was on a medication that wasn't letting me sleep, it kept me awake for three days, and my legs kept moving," he said.
"Restless legs?" I asked.
"Yeah. Now they have me on a higher dose of two different medications and I can sleep," he said.
"That's good. Sleep is important," I said.
"I know. They told me if I have any more trouble to let them know," he said.
"It's good that you live so close to your doctor. You can walk right over if you need him," I said.
Alex paused for a moment.
"Hey, I have a phone number of a person I like," he said, smiling.
"That's exciting. When are you going to call?"
"Tomorrow."
"Good luck!"

David Denby

"We don’t know how to educate poor children in this country."
Article

Just like in the Movies

I was walking Lily downtown this morning when four police officers and detectives came running out of headquarters. They jumped into their cars and raced down Clinton Street with lights flashing and sirens sounding. Just like in the movies.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Tobias Wolff

There are very few professions in which people just sit down and think hard for five or six hours a day all by themselves. [If you become a writer] you have the liberty to do that, but once you have the liberty you also have the obligation to do it.
- Tobias Wolff

A true piece of writing is a dangerous thing. It can change your life.
― Tobias Wolff, Old School

Blaise Pascal

Man is to himself the most wonderful object in nature; for he cannot conceive what the body is, still less what the mind is, and least of all how a body should be united to a mind. This is the consummation of his difficulties, and yet it is his very being.
― Blaise Pascal

The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of... We know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart.
― Blaise Pascal

All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
― Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
― Blaise Pascal, Pensées

I would prefer an intelligent hell to a stupid paradise.
― Blaise Pascal

Dream

Two nights ago I dreamed that I was lying down on my back on the bottom of the neighborhood pool, as a way to meditate.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Chris Van Allsburg

The idea of the extraordinary happening in the context of the ordinary is what's kind of fascinating to me.
- Chris Van Allsburg

Friday, June 17, 2016

Christo's Floating Piers

At the close of its 16-day period, the walkway will be dismantled and its parts recycled and resold. “The important part of this project is the temporary part, the nomadic quality,” Christo said. “The work needs to be gone, because I do not own the work, no one does. This is why it is free.”
Article

Take Care

Take care of things close to home first. Straighten up your room before you save the world. Then save the world.
- Ron Padgett

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Poor Man's Travel

Today I am crawling around under the usual patterns of the day feeling like I've skipped school. Sometimes I have to change my routine and everything is new again. I call it poor man's travel. I have been dying for space from my thoughts and moods but the real space is found by traveling in my imagination through the work of writing and drawing.

Nin Andrews

Wonderful blog http://www.ninandrews.com/blog/

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Saul Steinberg

The doodle is the brooding of the hand.
― Saul Steinberg

The life of the creative man is led, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.
― Saul Steinberg

The frightening thought that what you draw may become a building makes for reasoned lines.
― Saul Steinberg

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thich Nhat Hanh

Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful...How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural--you need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh

We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh

When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, June 13, 2016

Bear Wanders into Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Bears be warned — a getaway to the city might end with a ride in the prisoner transport van.

A black bear first spotted on Saturday night in Cranston made its way to Providence, in the early hours Sunday, before it was captured and released in the woods near the Connecticut state line.

The adventure (for the humans, anyway) started just before 9 p.m. whena woman called the Cranston Police Department to tell them there was a black bear in her backyard on Pontiac Avenue., said Maj. Todd Patalano.
“This isn't something we usually encounter,” he said.

Article

Overheard

Last night while walking Lily down Hazel Street two 12 year old kids were playing basketball. I heard one kid say to the other:
All I know is, when you get hit on your head and it bleeds a lot, you lose your memory.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Learning Humanity from Dogs

Article

Dream

I dreamed someone said love makes triangles. A dream proverb.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Chaos Theory

a woman folds a napkin blotting her lipstick in Louisiana
causing a taxi to ride over a curb in Manhattan
setting off a herd of wild bison stampeding in Oklahoma
causing a paper cut in Elizabeth New Jersey
making lightning strike in Los Angeles

Alternatives

“So much of pain is tied up with fear,” Dr. LaPietra continued. “We can do more than we think, if we can just take the time to sit with patients and let them know we’re present for them.”

Then she smiled and shrugged. “And when we can get it right, why not, especially if we don’t have to use opioids?”

Article

Saul Bellow

You’re all alone when you’re a writer. Sometimes you just feel you need a humanity bath. Even a ride in the subway will do that. But it’s much more interesting to talk about books. After all, that’s what life used to be for writers: they talk books, politics, history, America. Nothing has replaced that.
- Saul Bellow

Terence Rattigan

A novelist may lose his readers for a few pages; a playwright never dares lose his audience for a minute.
- Terence Rattigan

Linguistic Free Love

“The period now has an emotional charge and has become an emoticon of sorts,” Professor Crystal said “In the 1990s the internet created an ethos of linguistic free love where breaking the rules was encouraged and punctuation was one of the ways this could be done”

source

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Patricia Cornwell

There was so much unhappiness around me and a lot of things were really scary. I found that creating stories made the world safer. I felt more in control. Writing makes me feel better.
- Patricia Cornwell

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Daydream

After looking at de Chirico paintings I left the house to go swim. When I arrived I noticed that there was a man in the pool who I hadn't seen before. He looked just like Gorgio de Chirico. I imagined swimming in a pool with de Chirico, we'd be inside one of his paintings. We'd say nothing but we would both know where we were by the colors, shadows and architecture.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Max Ernst

Every normal human being (and not merely the 'artist') has an inexhaustible store of buried images in his subconscious, it is merely a matter of courage or liberating procedures ... of voyages into the unconscious, to bring pure and unadulterated found objects to light.
- Max Ernst

Painting is neither decorative amusement, nor the plastic invention of felt reality; it must be every time: invention, discovery, revelation.
- Max Ernst

Creativity is that marvelous capacity to grasp mutually distinct realities and draw a spark from their juxtaposition.
- Max Ernst

Giorgio de Chirico

It is essential that the revelation we receive, the conception of an image which embraces a certain thing, which has no sense of itself, which has no subject, which means absolutely nothing from the logical point of view... should speak so strongly in us... that we feel compelled to paint...
- Giorgio de Chirico

We must hold enormous faith in ourselves.
- Giorgio de Chirico

De Chirico: The Two Aspects

Everything has two aspects; the current aspect, which we see nearly always and which ordinary men see, and the ghostly and metaphysical aspect, which only rare individuals may see in moments of clairvoyance and metaphysical abstraction.
- Giorgio de Chirico

De Chirico: Visions and Dreams

To become truly immortal, a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and common sense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken, it will enter the realms of childhood visions and dreams.
- Giorgio de Chirico

de Chirico Mystery

There is much more mystery in the shadow of a man walking on a sunny day, than in all religions of the world.
- Giorgio de Chirico

Giorgio de Chirico

One must picture everything in the world as an enigma, and live in the world as if in a vast museum of strangeness.
- Giorgio de Chirico

Article on Bill T. Jones Dance Coreography

“FAME,” WROTE Rainer Maria Rilke, in 1902, “is, after all, only the sum of all the misunderstandings that gather around a new name.” The line appears at the beginning of a short book on Auguste Rodin that a 27-year-old Rilke published when the world-­famous sculptor was 63. However much we think we know about Rodin, the young poet argued, we’re wrong. And yet, Rilke goes on to say, it’s not even worth taking the time to disabuse us of our errors, “for they gathered around the name, not around the work.”
[...]
[...] it is experimental in the way of the seeker, rather than the provocateur, more prayer than sermon.
[...]
When performing “21” for his audience of one, Jones seemed less like a man intent upon confronting his audience than confronting himself. Watching him, I wondered where he got the strength to do all that looking.

Article

The Opioid Crisis in Rhode Island

“We still need to stop [heroin] at its source and law enforcement has a legitimate role in preventing drug dealers from peddling their wares and in many cases killing their customers,” Kilmartin says. “But this is a classic case of where health advocacy and law enforcement intersect, and if there has ever been a problem you can’t arrest yourself out of, this is it.”
Article

Dream

I dreamed there was an outdoor festival of male mermaids. They were diving from wooden bleachers and swimming in a pond. I was a bystander wearing a summer skirt. I climbed around on the sand under the staging area. I noticed spiders in between the beams of the scaffolding. The more I looked the more spiders I saw and some were huge and scary. I raced out of there.

Dream

I dreamed I was teaching an after school art class. Many students and adults showed up. We held the class outside. I suggested they draw something in their immediate environment like their hand, using an ebony pencil. One student said she had diabetes and couldn't use an ebony pencil but that soon an equivalent would be available. I noticed that she had large teeth with severely receded gums. I wondered how her teeth held on to her jaw.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Malvina Reynolds

Little Boxes

song by Malvina Reynolds

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,1
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university,
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.


Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1962 Schroder Music Company, renewed 1990. Malvina and her husband were on their way from where they lived in Berkeley, through San Francisco and down the peninsula to La Honda where she was to sing at a meeting of the Friends’ Committee on Legislation (not the PTA, as Pete Seeger says in the documentary about Malvina, “Love It Like a Fool”). As she drove through Daly City, she said “Bud, take the wheel. I feel a song coming on.”

Additional notes
1. The term "ticky tacky" is now included in the Oxford English Dictionary, and credited to Malvina.
2. Seeger's recording reached as high as number seventy on Billboard and number seventy-two on Cashbox in early 1964.
3. The Womenfolk's version peaked at number eighty-three on Billboard and number ninety-six on Cashbox in May 1964.

source

Balance

She went to a catered garden party in the prim and trim subdivision. She knew it would set off a firestorm in her head. Not that she wouldn't enjoy the event and the hosts but because of how she was raised. Her family taught her to expect that this is how life should be. This thought lingered and followed her home. She knew it would but she had decided to get out and go to the party anyway. "It's not good to stay in your own comfort zone forever," she told herself while putting on her polka-dotted party skirt.

After the party she came home and flicked on the TV and watched a murder mystery to drown out her thoughts. When she woke up the next morning she recalled the party of gourmet sandwiches, imported olives, and assorted cheeses presented under a tent. She also recalled the tour of the hostess' home. It was like a doll house. The surfaces were without dust and the shiny wooden floors were without scratches. It was a fantasy stage set just like the photos in design magazines. Even the small cluster of garden plants were all tastefully arranged, in bloom and weedless. She recalled glancing up and down the street and noticing that all of these little homes and gardens were done up to the same pristine pitch. Was it a competition, peer pressure, a war? She couldn't imagine one of her own pieces of furniture belonging inside the doll house or the garden.

She got out of bed and let her dog into the yard. She noticed white rumpled papers in the corner of the chain link fence near her peeling yellow garage. She was in the habit of picking up trash in her urban, impoverished neighborhood. As she got closer to the gate she realized the white tissues were smeared brown. Her garage alcove had been used as a toilet. After the moment of shock and disgust she ran into the house and got a bunch of used plastic bags to cover her hands and she cleaned up the mess. "How sad, some poor soul had no place to go," she thought.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

A Writer

“When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I am grown up, they call me a writer.”
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

Isaac Bashevis Singer: The Chasm

“Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper.”
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

Isaac Bashevis Singer

Kindness, I've discovered, is everything in life.
- Isaac Bashevis Singer

Isaac Bashevis Singer

For those who are willing to make an effort, great miracles and wonderful treasures are in store.
- Isaac Bashevis Singer

Carson McCullers

I live with the people I create and it has always made my essential loneliness less keen.
- Carson McCullers

Carson McCullers

“It is a curious emotion, this certain homesickness I have in mind. With Americans, it is a national trait, as native to us as the roller-coaster or the jukebox. It is no simple longing for the home town or country of our birth. The emotion is Janus-faced: we are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
― Carson McCullers

Kim Addonizio

I love you like I'm a strange backyard and you're running from the cops, looking for a place to stash your gun.
- Kim Addonizio
excerpt from the poem "Forms of Love", from Lucifer at the Starlite

Friday, June 03, 2016

Edmund Hillary

There is something about building up a comradeship - that I still believe is the greatest of all feats - and sharing in the dangers with your company of peers. It's the intense effort, the giving of everything you've got. It's really a very pleasant sensation.
- Edmund Hillary

Good planning is important. I've also regarded a sense of humor as one of the most important things on a big expedition. When you're in a difficult or dangerous situation, or when you're depressed about the chances of success, someone who can make you laugh eases the tension.
- Edmund Hillary

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
- Edmund Hillary

Kim Addonizio

He could tell that she was something else. Someone less than she was, who didn't deserve respect, who men could handle like a bar of soap, leaving themselves clean and satisfied and her disappearing down to nothing.
- Kim Addonizio, My Dreams Out in the Street (pg 5)

The Id that Ate the Planet

Article

Dream

I dreamed I bought the house next door to connect it to mine. I was looking out the second floor windows admiring the view down the street. In my dream the second floor apartment had once been a gallery. "It has great north light," I said to the real estate agent.

Dream

I dreamed my husband and I were in Africa visiting A, an old family friend. She came out to see us in her dusty dry courtyard. She was wearing a metal brace on her back from an accident. There were big black bears roaming around us. I climbed on a ladder to pet one bear on top of his head. Then he put my left hand in his mouth but I was able to release it unscathed. A had metal rods on her doors like police locks to keep the wild animals out.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Dream

"How soon after her death did you receive the notice from the FBI?" The voice on the telephone asked. "Within a day," she replied. She was sitting in a swivel chair in front of a huge wooden office desk. She had an open orange cardboard package in front of her. It contained a cassette tape from the FBI.
My husband had to shake me awake from this dream to say goodbye for the day.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Motion and Mood

Some weakening in mental function appears to be inevitable as we age. But emerging science suggests that we might be able to slow and mitigate the decline by how we live and, in particular, whether and how we move our bodies. Past studies have found that people who run, weight train, dance, practice tai chi, or regularly garden have a lower risk of developing dementia than people who are not physically active at all.

There also is growing evidence that combining physical activity with meditation might intensify the benefits of both pursuits. [...] For example, people with depression who meditated before they went for a run showed greater improvements in their mood than people who did either of those activities alone.

Article

RI Serves as an Inspiring Example for Connecticut on the Opiate Epidemic

Unlike Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Connecticut hasn't yet drawn up a focused state plan to respond to opiate overdoses. But that's about to change. In a welcome move, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has asked Dr. David Fiellin and a team of doctors who are addiction specialists from Yale School of Medicine to create, in 90 days, a strategy to reduce opioid addiction and overdoses here over the next three years. The governor has directed the team to use Rhode Island's strategic plan as a model for Connecticut.
http://www.courant.com/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-ct-opioid-epidemic-state-finally-has-a-plan-20160525-story.html

Dream

I dreamed my friend Dan was in costume driving a Bat mobile. I peeked inside and was surprised to see that it was a Honda.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Motto

It doesn't take much, but it does take some.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Unceasing Vigilance

“Turning off this hyper-hardwiring after returning from a deployment is not an automatic function of the brain,” he said. “We have virtually no science to guide us in managing these instincts. We need to figure that out, or we’re going to end up with a generation that struggles for much of their lives.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/30/health/veterans-iraq-afghanistan-psychology-therapy.html

Film: The Imposter

The Imposter is a 2012 British-American documentary film about the 1997 case of the French confidence trickster Frédéric Bourdin, who impersonated Nicholas Barclay, a Texas boy who disappeared at the age of 13 in 1994, directed by Bart Layton. The film includes interviews with Bourdin and members of Barclay's family, as well as archive television news footage and reenacted dramatic sequences.
Read about it here.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cheever: You Long for Something

“Homesickness is absolutely nothing. Fifty percent of the people in the world are homesick all the time. You don't really long for another country. You long for something in yourself that you don't have, or haven't been able to find.”
― John Cheever, The Brigadier and the Golf Widow

John Cheever

“It was a splendid summer morning and it seemed as if nothing could go wrong.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

“His stepmother -wearing a nightgown for comfort and a flowered hat for looks- had spent her days sitting in their parlor window in Baltimore drinking sherry out of a coffee cup.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

Cheever: Struck with this Image

“And walking back from the river I remember the galling loneliness of my adolescence, from which I do not seem to have completely escaped. It is the sense of the voyeur, the lonely, lonely boy with no role in life but to peer in at the lighted windows of other people’s contentment and vitality. It seems comical -- farcical -- that, having been treated so generously, I should be struck with this image of a kid in the rain walking along the road shoulders of East Milton.”
― John Cheever, The Journals of John Cheever

Cheever: We will be Reminded of this Fault

“Among the rewards of his expatriation were a heightened awareness of what he saw and an exhilarating sense of freedom. Mixed with the love we hold for our native country is the fact that it is the place where we were raised, and, should anything have gone wrong in this process, we will be reminded of this fault, by the scene of the crime, until the day we die.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

What the Fairy Tale Provides for Him is a St. George to Kill the Dragon

It's the birthday of G.K. Chesterton, born in London (1874). Chesterton is best known for his stories about Father Brown, a crime-solving priest who appears to know nothing, who is clumsy and constantly misplacing his umbrella, who has a habit of falling asleep during police interrogations, but who in fact knows more about crime than the criminals who surround him. Chesterton got the idea for Father Brown when he converted to Catholicism and realized that Catholic priests, who listen to confessions all day long, know more about depravity than almost anyone else in society.

One of his favorite authors was Charles Dickens, and he said that anyone who didn't enjoy Dickens's novel The Pickwick Papers wouldn't enjoy heaven.

Chesterton's book The Everlasting Man (1925) contributed to C.S. Lewis's conversion from atheism to Christianity. He wrote: "Fairy tales do not give a child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon." (Tremendous Trifles, 1909)

- Writer's Almanac

A New Twist on Kale

I am an unfussy cook so I generally like simple methods. I decided to rinse a head of kale after I trimmed the ends off and not chop it into one-inch pieces like I usually do. I left the leaves intact. I filled the pressure cooker with water up to the steamer tray and curled the leaves in. Then I pressure-cooked the kale for 3 minutes. Afterwards I made a sauce of olive oil, wine vinegar, salt, sugar, and mustard and poured it over the bowl of greens. Leaving the leaves whole was a fun discovery and the stems were perfectly tender. It was like eating asparagus. I saved the kale steaming liquid for soup or steaming pasta, or drinking as a cold broth. It was delicious.

Grilling Broccoli

We just experimented with grilling broccoli over a hot hardwood charcoal fire. We cut the broccoli into large 'trees' and dipped the florets into various sauces. We found that a mixture of olive oil and soy sauce and a bit of rooster hot sauce was a perfect dipping mixture for grilling the broccoli. Broccoli isn't naturally sweet, so charring wasn't necessary. We dipped the broccoli into the mixture and placed the heads over the coals with the tails pointing out for about a minute or two. Olive oil is flammable - be prepared! There was no need to turn them over. We discovered all this after a few trials and many errors.

Edgar Lee Masters

“Act well your part,
there all the honor lies.”
― Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

“I tramped through the country
To get the feeling
That I was not a separate thing from the earth.
I used to lose myself
By lying with eyes half-open in the woods.
Sometimes I talked with animals…”
― Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

Charles Dickens

“Poetry makes life what lights and music do the stage.”
― Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Presto Pressure Cooker Pasta

I still can't believe I can make wholegrain ziti in my pressure cooker in nine minutes. I did it again using the leftover kale stock. It came out so good!

91 Degrees!

In honor of my Brighton Beach Grandma Sophie I continue to start my day swimming at the pool, coming home and having breakfast at the picnic table wearing my wet bathing suit. The oak, birch, and grasses are letting out a lot of pollen (level 9.7 according to pollen.com). The histamine reaction was so strong my head hurt to the point of feeling dizzy and nauseous. Luckily there's allergy medicine.

The family across the street has a big blue and white inflatable pool they set up on hot days next to the sidewalk. There were four nine-year-old boys sitting in the water splashing each other having fun.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Willem de Kooning

If Elaine [Fried, whom de Kooning married in 1943] found it strange to return directly to work on her wedding day, she never said so. That was the way of life on Twenty-second Street: every woman in de Kooning's life from Nini onward could attest that he was already married to his work. During the time when Elaine was commuting back and forth to Brooklyn, de Kooning's days were devoted to art, and they continued to be so after she moved in permanently. Typically, the couple rose late in the morning. Breakfast consisted mostly of very strong coffee, cut with the milk they kept in winter on a window ledge; they did not have a refrigerator, an appliance that in the early forties was still a luxury. (So was a private phone, which de Kooning would not have until the early sixties.) Then the day's routine began with de Kooning moving to his end of the studio and Elaine to hers. Work was punctuated by more cups of strong coffee, which de Kooning made by boiling the coffee as he had learned to do in Holland, and by many cigarettes. The two stayed at their easels until fairly late, taking a break only to go out for something to eat or to walk up to Times Square to see a movie. Often, however, de Kooning, who hated to stop working, began again after supper and pushed far into the night, leaving Elaine to go to a party or concert. "I remember very often walking by and seeing the lights on and going up," said Marjorie Luyckx. "In those studios, the heat used to go off after five o'clock because they were commercial buildings. Bill would be painting with his hat and coat on. Painting away, and whistling."

Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, de Kooning: An American Master
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Routine

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Artists today don't have the opportunity to paint for an hourly wage.
-Cristina Acosta

Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.
-W. H. Auden

Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work.
-Gustave Flaubert

Get on a daily routine... Working is a process not a product. Success comes from the word, succeed: Latin: 'to under go.' You must keep moving.
-Nicoletta Baumeister

Each time we bring to routine activities an awareness of 'now,' we raise our vibratory frequency and cause the freshness of the moment to fall upon us.
-Dr. Michael Beckwith

A shift in our routines is invigorating.
-Brenda Behr

I paint every day. Sometimes I hate painting, but I keep at it, thinking always that before I croak I'll really learn how to do it – maybe as well as some of the old painters.
-Thomas Hart Benton

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.
-William Blake

Ya know what I do almost every day? I wash. Personal hygiene is part of the package with me.
-Jim Carrey

For the past eighty years I have started each day in the same manner... I go to the piano, and I play preludes and fugues of Bach... It is a sort of benediction on the house.
-Pablo Casals

Most people can't handle a structureless life.
-Doug Coupland

Wake up as an artist; be an artist each day. Do what is before you to do. Be still, open, and willing.
-Aliye Cullu

One's daily routine is a choice, or a series of choices. In the right hands, it can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources. -Mason Currey

I would go to work from 9 to 6, go home, nap for two hours, then write from 8 to 2 a.m.
-Lena Dunham

I go to the studio everyday because one day I may go and the Angel will be there. What if I don't go and the Angel comes?
-Philip Guston

The only possible way to have it ALL is with structure and the discipline to keep to it, to make it a routine.
-Margot Hattingh

The cumulative power of doing things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind: You're going to be dreaming soon.
-Stephen King

Out of routine comes inspiration.
-Mark Kostabi

Morning comes whether you set the alarm or not.
-Ursula K. LeGuin

-Move a Little, Lose a Lot...
Burn 2,100 calories a week just by changing your daily work routine.
-James A. Levine

Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to achieving your dreams.
-Og Mandino

I like routine. It enables me to improvise.
-James Nares

Perhaps my only secret is that I always bear in mind what my father said: 'Do the smallest things in daily routine with enthusiasm and sincerity.'
-Nerrisa Ng

The quiet people just do their work.
-Joyce Carol Oates

Nothing will sustain you more potently than the power to recognize in your humdrum routine, as perhaps it may be thought, the true poetry of life.
Sir William Osler

Let what is irksome become habitual, no more will it trouble you.
-Ovid

I go to my studio every day. Some days the work comes easily. Other days nothing happens. Yet on the good days the inspiration is only an accumulation of all the other days, the nonproductive ones.
-Beverly Pepper

We need to rewire the brain to work the creative outlet. It needs time just like other more mundane tasks.
-Karen Phinney

-By sticking to a schedule and not waiting for inspiration to hit I am assured of getting work done. No phone calls or other interruptions during work hours. Frances Poole

Man's usual routine is to work and to dream and work and dream.
-Raymond Queneau

I am not naturally organized; in fact, I'm rather lazy, and if I didn't have a schedule, weekly goals, and an organized bookkeeping system, I'd never be able to supply galleries and clients with the volume of work they expect from me.
-Monique Sakellarios

If I don't paint for one day, I don't feel well physically or mentally.
-Raphael Soyer

-I'd rather be in the studio
When you have set yourself a specific routine, all of the pieces of your life fit together to make you a better artist.
-Alyson B. Stanfield

It's a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.
-John Steinbeck

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.
-Shunryu Suzuki

After so many years, I've learned that being creative is a full-time job with its own daily patterns. That's why writers, for example, like to establish routines for themselves. The most productive ones get started early in the morning, when the world is quiet, the phones aren't ringing, and their minds are rested, alert, and not yet polluted by other people's words.
-Twyla Tharp

Routine is a ground to stand on, a wall to retreat to; we cannot draw on our boots without bracing ourselves against it.
-Henry David Thoreau

So just think how exciting it would be if for once you had your tea at quarter past six? It'd make headlines...
-Shirley Valentine

I have no regular schedule. I get up whenever I can.
-Jimmy Wales

Faithfulness in the performance of small duties gives us strength to adhere to difficult determinations that life will someday force us to make.
- Paramahansa Yogananda

A Backwards Day

I started my day at 3:30 AM with John Cheever and Kim Addonizio stories and poems and then I jumped into the local pool. I walked home wearing my Thanksgiving dress over my wet bathing suit. The air was still cool. I was about to go to the library but when I opened the fridge the bread dough was crawling out of the bucket so I set it up to rise in five greased loaf pans. Next thing I knew I was chopping red potatoes to make a quick a batch of three minute German potato salad in my Presto pressure cooker. (See the recipe on my INSOMNIACS KITCHEN blog.) Then I started making a batch of granola. The potato salad was excellent. I have made this for 35 years. The recipe came with my cooker. It's basically red potatoes, celery and onion cubed and cooked in an oil and vinegar + mustard dressing. The flavors permeate the potatoes especially after they cool off. Today I saved the leftover vitamin-rich broth and pressure-cooked a pound of wholegrain ziti in it. That took only nine minutes. Then I steamed three heads of kale and made the same olive oil vinegar mustard dressing to pour over it. The dough had risen by then so I baked the five loaves of sourdough. I started to vacuum while baking so the good smells would overpower the vacuum cleaner smell. I forgot the loaves were baking in the oven until I started to smell toast. After I took the loaves out of the oven I ran up and down and vacuumed so Bill would see a clean house when he got home and then we could relax a bit. And I STILL had yet to go to the library!

Luciferin

She dreamed she was in The the 50 Foot Woman. All the little police cars roaring out from between her legs like lightningbug sperm.

Everyone knows how fireflies got their name, but many people don't know how the insects produce their signature glow. Fireflies have dedicated light organs that are located under their abdomens. The insects take in oxygen and, inside special cells, combine it with a substance called luciferin to produce light with almost no heat.

Firefly light is usually intermittent, and flashes in patterns that are unique to each species. Each blinking pattern is an optical signal that helps fireflies find potential mates. Scientists are not sure how the insects regulate this process to turn their lights on and off.

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Luciferin (from the Latin lucifer, "light-bringer") is a generic term for the light-emitting compound found in organisms that generate bioluminescence. Luciferins typically undergo an enzyme-catalysed oxidation and the resulting excited state intermediate emits light upon decaying to its ground state.

Cheever

“She came right up to me and put her snow-white hand on my arm. "You poor boy," she murmured, "you poor boy."
I'm not a boy, and I'm not poor, and I wished the hell she would get away. She has a clever face, but I felt in it, that night, the force of a great sadness and great malice. "I see a rope around your neck," she said sadly.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

Spring Stars

“It was still mild when they walked home from the party, and Irene looked up at the spring stars. "How far that little candle throws its beams," she exclaimed. "So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

A River Light

“These stories seem at times to be stories of a long-lost world when the city of New York was still filled with a river light, when you heard the Benny Goodman quartets from a radio in the corner stationery store, and when almost everybody wore a hat.”
― John Cheever

Cruel and Frail

“She perceived vaguely the pitiful corruption of the adult world; how cruel and frail it was, like a worn piece of burlap, patched with stupidities and mistakes, useless and ugly, and yet they never saw its worthlessness.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

Twyla Tharp: An Act of Defiance

“Creativity is an act of defiance.”
― Twyla Tharp

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”
― Twyla Tharp

“I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”
― Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

“Life is about moving, it’s about change. And when things stop doing that they’re dead.”
― Twyla Tharp

“Reading, conversation, environment, culture, heroes, mentors, nature – all are lottery tickets for creativity. Scratch away at them and you’ll find out how big a prize you’ve won.”
― Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

“When I walk into [the studio] I am alone, but I am alone with my body, ambition, ideas, passions, needs, memories, goals, prejudices, distractions, fears.

These ten items are at the heart of who I am. Whatever I am going to create will be a reflection of how these have shaped my life, and how I've learned to channel my experiences into them.

The last two -- distractions and fears -- are the dangerous ones. They're the habitual demons that invade the launch of any project. No one starts a creative endeavor without a certain amount of fear; the key is to learn how to keep free-floating fears from paralyzing you before you've begun. When I feel that sense of dread, I try to make it as specific as possible. Let me tell you my five big fears:

1. People will laugh at me.
2. Someone has done it before.
3. I have nothing to say.
4. I will upset someone I love.
5. Once executed, the idea will never be as good as it is in my mind.

"There are mighty demons, but they're hardly unique to me. You probably share some. If I let them, they'll shut down my impulses ('No, you can't do that') and perhaps turn off the spigots of creativity altogether. So I combat my fears with a staring-down ritual, like a boxer looking his opponent right in the eye before a bout.

1. People will laugh at me? Not the people I respect; they haven't yet, and they're not going to start now....

2. Someone has done it before? Honey, it's all been done before. Nothing's original. Not Homer or Shakespeare and certainly not you. Get over yourself.

3. I have nothing to say? An irrelevant fear. We all have something to say.

4. I will upset someone I love? A serious worry that is not easily exorcised or stared down because you never know how loved ones will respond to your creation. The best you can do is remind yourself that you're a good person with good intentions. You're trying to create unity, not discord.

5. Once executed, the idea will never be as good as it is in my mind? Toughen up. Leon Battista Alberti, the 15th century architectural theorist, said, 'Errors accumulate in the sketch and compound in the model.' But better an imperfect dome in Florence than cathedrals in the clouds.”
― Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

John Updike

"I’ve never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think that the pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again."
-John Updike
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Gerard Richter

'I go to the studio every day, but I don't paint every day. I love playing with my architectural models. I love making plans. I could spend my life arranging things. Weeks go by, and I don't paint until finally I can't stand it any longer. I get fed up. I almost don't want to talk about it, because I don't want to become self-conscious about it, but perhaps I create these little crises as a kind of a secret strategy to push myself. It is a danger to wait around for an idea to occur to you. You have to find the idea.''
-Gerard Richter
The New York Times Magazine, January 27, 2002

Chris Ofili

I may tell myself, 'This will be the last one I do.' Then I'll do another. That's liberating."

The New York Times, May 8, 2005

Ben Katchor

1) The price of all purchases in all stores should be rounded off to the nearest dollar amount. By this general agreement, we would recoup the time wasted making change and be spared the destructive force of loose coins on the fabric of our pockets.

2) An arrangement should be made so that the buying of groceries can be done in private. No one's purchases should be subject to the humiliating scrutiny of the person who happens to be next on line. The situation, as it now exists, will someday in the future be looked back upon as an inhumane condition of 20th-century life.

Slate, July 8, 1997

Blues and Birds

I woke at 3:AM and was cold. My dog was awake. I turned on the radio and the coffee pot. I listened to stories and then the blues on some station I'd never received out of Dartmouth Massachusetts until the birds took over.

Lucifer At The Starlite - Poem by Kim Addonizio


—after George Meredith


Here's my bright idea for life on earth:
better management. The CEO
has lost touch with the details. I'm worth
as much, but I care; I come down here, I show
my face, I'm a real regular. A toast:
To our boys and girls in the war, grinding
through sand, to everybody here, our host
who's mostly mist, like methane rising
from retreating ice shelves. Put me in command.
For every town, we'll have a marching band.
For each thoroughbred, a comfortable stable;
for each worker, a place beneath the table.
For every forward step a stumbling.
A shadow over every starlit thing.

— Kim Addonizio

Will you let me lift you?

“Will you let me lift you?" he said. "Just let me lift you. Just let me see how light you are."
"All right," she said. "Do you want me to take off my coat?"
"Yes, yes, yes," he said. "Take off your coat."
She stood. She let her coat fall to the sofa.
"Can I do it now?" he said.
"Yes."
He put his hands under her arms. He raised her off the floor and then put her down gently. "Oh you're so light!" he shouted. "Your'e so light, you're so fragile, you don't weigh any more than a suitcase. Why, I could carry you, I could carry you anywhere, I could carry you from one end of New York to the other." He got his hat and coat and ran out of the house.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

In His Guts

“Long ago when they first invented the atomic bomb people used to worry about its going off and killing everybody, but they didn't know that mankind has enough dynamite right in his guts to tear the fucking planet to pieces.”
― John Cheever, Falconer

Streaked with Color

“The world that was not mine yesterday now lies spread out at my feet, a splendor. I seem, in the middle of the night, to have returned to the world of apples, the orchards of Heaven. Perhaps I should take my problems to a shrink, or perhaps I should enjoy the apples that I have, streaked with color like the evening sky.”
― John Cheever

elegant and savage and fleshy

“Everything outside was elegant and savage and fleshy. Everything inside was slow and cool and vacant. It seemed a shame to stay inside.”
― John Cheever

Cheever: a page of good prose is where one hears the rain.

“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos… to celebrate a world that lies spread out around us like a bewildering and stupendous dream.”
― John Cheever

“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos (no less) and we can accomplish this only by the most vigilant exercise of choice, but in a world that changes more swiftly that we can perceive there is always the danger that our powers of selection will be mistaken and that the vision we serve will come to nothing.”
― John Cheever

“The need to write comes from the need to make sense of one's life and discover one's usefulness.”
― John Cheever

“Our country is the best country in the world. We are swimming in prosperity and our President is the best president in the world. We have larger apples and better cotton and faster and more beautiful machines. This makes us the greatest country in the world. Unemployment is a myth. Dissatisfaction is a fable. In preparatory school America is beautiful. It is the gem of the ocean and it is too bad. It is bad because people believe it all. Because they become indifferent. Because they marry and reproduce and vote and they know nothing.”
― John Cheever

“For lovers, touch is metamorphosis. All the parts of their bodies seem to change, and they seem to become something different and better.”
― John Cheever

“Literature has been our salvation, literature has inspired and guided lovers, routed despair and can perhaps in this case save the world.”
― John Cheever

“For me a page of good prose is where one hears the rain. A page of good prose is when one hears the noise of battle.... A page of good prose seems to me the most serious dialogue that well-informed and intelligent men and women carry on today in their endeavor to make sure that the fires of this planet burn peaceably.”
― John Cheever

“She cried for herself, she cried because she was afraid that she herself might die in the night, because she was alone in the world, because her desperate and empty life was not an overture but an ending, and through it all she could see was the rough, brutal shape of a coffin.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

John Cheever

"There is some wonderful seriousness to the business of living, and one is not exempted by being a poet. You have to take some precautions with your health. You have to manage your money intelligently and respect your emotional obligations. There is another world - I see this - there is chaos, and we are suspended above it by a thread. But the thread holds."
- John Cheever

John Cheever

"When I wake this morning and feel the old dog pushing against this bed I feel some deep and simple love for the animal, and that reminds me of the love one feels for other women and men. The word 'dear' is what I use. 'How dear you are.'"
- John Cheever

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Growing Private Thoughts

Today I stayed in my yard writing and the baby hawks were screeching high over my head. I am having a day of hiding from people and conversation. I LOVE people but sometimes when a walk around the neighborhood becomes a visit at every turn I am I am exhausted and need another walk to empty my head and recharge my solitude. There are days when I live for little visits on the sidewalk to break me out of my own mind-chattering misery. But lately I want to contain my solitude because I am growing private thoughts. The sudden 88 degree heat and sunshine has brought everyone out!

Mitch Albom: Devotion

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

Charles Simic's Favourite Poetry Sayings:

"Poetry tries to bridge the abyss lying between the name and the thing. That language is a problem is no news to poets."
- Charles Simic

"No man whose sex life was satisfactory ever became a moral censor."
- Mina Loy

"I'm in the business of translating what cannot be translated: being and its silence."
- Charles Simic

"Even as I concentrate all my attention on the fly on the table, I glance fleetingly at myself."
- Charles Simic

"Cioran is right when he says that we are all religious spirits without a religion."
- Cioran

"A poem is an invitation to a voyage. As in life, we travel to see fresh sights."
- Charles Simic


About Charles Simic

Charles Simic (b. 1938) grew up in Belgrade in former Yugoslavia, a childhood in which "Hitler and Stalin taught us the basics". A new life began in 1954 when he and his mother were allowed to join his father in the United States. Simic attended school in Chicago and then began working at the Chicago Sun Times. During this period he started to write and publish poetry and was a passionate self-educator, attending many night-classes. After two years national service in the US army, Simic settled in New York, got married and continued to write, his first collection appearing in 1967. In the intervening period he has published over sixty books, amongst them Charon's Cosmology, nominated for a National Book Award, The World Doesn't End: Prose Poems, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and Jackstraws which was included on the New York Times' shortlist of Notable Books of the Year. He taught English and creative writing for more than thirty years at the University of New Hampshire. In 2007, Charles Simic was appointed to be the United States Library of Congress's 15th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.

The critic, Helen Vendler, has described Simic as a "lover of food who has been instructed in starvation," hinting at the pleasures and privations which inform his work. As one of the "Bombed and fleeing humanity" ('Cameo Appearance') Simic was instilled from an early age with a deep distrust of absolutist thought. In defiance of ideology his poems brim with irreverence and scepticism, revelling in the "Juxtaposition of unlikely things...where one is bound to find an angel next to a pig." A serious surrealist, Simic draws us into a world in which a simple object like a fork can be transformed into nightmare. Unsettling encounters take place with the mad and the marginalised, often against a looming backdrop of darkness. Recurrent images - blood, flies, waiters, angels - hint at symbolism but without ever yielding one single interpretation. This uncertainty is at the heart of his vision which explores a universe of chance, "the world's raffle" ('Shelley'), in which either everything is planned...or nothing is.

Simic reads in a voice redolent of the history that haunts his poetry, an accent equal parts Serbian and New York twang. It embodies the rich tensions in his work, rooted both in the folklore traditions of Eastern Europe, yet at home amongst the wise-cracking rhythms of his adopted city.

His recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 19 November 2003 in New York City and was produced by Jeffrey Wertz.

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Martín Espada

Mad Love

No one wants to look at pictures of Puerto Ricans, Frank. – Cornell Capa

My brother said: They harvested his corneas. I imagined
the tweezers lifting the corneas from my father’s eyes,
delicate as the wings of butterflies mounted under glass.
I imagined the transplant, stitches finer than hair,
eyes fluttering awake to the brilliance of an open window.

This is not a horror movie. This not Peter Lorre in Mad Love,
the insane and jealous surgeon grafting the hands of a killer
onto the forearms of a concert pianist, who fumbles with the keys
of the piano, flings knives with lethal aim, Moonlight Sonata
swept away by lust for homicide, his wife shrieking.

The blind will see like the captain of the slave ship who turned the ship
around, voices in the room will praise the Lord for the miracle, yet
the eyes drinking light through my father’s eyes will not see the faces
in the lens of his camera, faces of the faceless waking in the darkroom:

not the tomato picker with a picket sign on his shoulder that says
Reagan Steals from the Poor and Gives to the Rich; not the fry cook
in his fedora, staring at air as if he knew he would be stomped
to death on the stoop for an empty wallet; not the poet in a beret,
grinning at the vision of shoes for all the shoeless people on the earth;
not the dancer hearing the piano tell her to spin and spin again;
not the gravedigger and his machete, the bandanna that keeps the dust
of the dead from coating his tongue; not the union organizer, spirits
floating in the smoke of his victory cigar; not the addict in rehab gazing
at herself like a fortune-teller gazing at the cards; not the face half-hidden
by the star in the Puerto Rican flag, the darkness of his dissident’s eye.

Now that my father cannot speak, they wait their turn to testify
in his defense, witnesses to the mad love that drove him to it.

- Martín Espada

Called by Sandra Cisneros “the Pablo Neruda of North American poets, “ Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published almost twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His new collection of poems from Norton is called Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (2016). Other books of poems include The Trouble Ball (2011), The Republic of Poetry (2006), Alabanza (2003), A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (2000), Imagine the Angels of Bread (1996), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (1993) and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (1990). ​His many honors include the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, an American Book Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Republic of Poetry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
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Eyes Fastened With Pins by Charles Simic

How much death works,
No one knows what a long
Day he puts in. The little
Wife always alone
Ironing death's laundry.
The beautiful daughters
Setting death's supper table.
The neighbors playing
Pinochle in the backyard
Or just sitting on the steps
Drinking beer. Death,
Meanwhile, in a strange
Part of town looking for
Someone with a bad cough,
But the address somehow wrong,
Even death can't figure it out
Among all the locked doors...
And the rain beginning to fall.
Long windy night ahead.
Death with not even a newspaper
To cover his head, not even
A dime to call the one pining away,
Undressing slowly, sleepily,
And stretching naked
On death's side of the bed.

- Charles Simic

Country Fair by Charles Simic

for Hayden Carruth

If you didn't see the six-legged dog,
It doesn't matter.
We did, and he mostly lay in the corner.
As for the extra legs,

One got used to them quickly
And thought of other things.
Like, what a cold, dark night
To be out at the fair.

Then the keeper threw a stick
And the dog went after it
On four legs, the other two flapping behind,
Which made one girl shriek with laughter.

She was drunk and so was the man
Who kept kissing her neck.
The dog got the stick and looked back at us.
And that was the whole show.

- Charles Simic

Late September by Charles Simic

The mail truck goes down the coast
Carrying a single letter.
At the end of a long pier
The bored seagull lifts a leg now and then
And forgets to put it down.
There is a menace in the air
Of tragedies in the making.

Last night you thought you heard television
In the house next door.
You were sure it was some new
Horror they were reporting,
So you went out to find out.
Barefoot, wearing just shorts.
It was only the sea sounding weary
After so many lifetimes
Of pretending to be rushing off somewhere
And never getting anywhere.

This morning, it felt like Sunday.
The heavens did their part
By casting no shadow along the boardwalk
Or the row of vacant cottages,
Among them a small church
With a dozen gray tombstones huddled close
As if they, too, had the shivers.

- Charles Simic

Charles Simic: Hotel Insomnia

I liked my little hole,
Its window facing a brick wall.
Next door there was a piano.
A few evenings a month
a crippled old man came to play
"My Blue Heaven."

Mostly, though, it was quiet.
Each room with its spider in heavy overcoat
Catching his fly with a web
Of cigarette smoke and revery.
So dark,
I could not see my face in the shaving mirror.

At 5 A.M. the sound of bare feet upstairs.
The "Gypsy" fortuneteller,
Whose storefront is on the corner,
Going to pee after a night of love.
Once, too, the sound of a child sobbing.
So near it was, I thought
For a moment, I was sobbing myself.

- Charles Simic

Charles Simic

Why I Still Write Poetry
by
Charles Simic

Brighton Beach Lives on my Street

At the crack of dawn I put on my black and red racing suit and turquoise flip flops and I covered myself in my long green cotton flowered dress and I walked the half block to the pool. I took off my dress and jumped in swimming with fins and goggles and a big blue foam belt. When I was done I put my dress on and walked out the door and back over to my house. I filled the yellow bathtub with scented oil washing up while making my toast and tea. What a great way to start this summery spring day. My grandma Sophie would swim in Sheeps Head Bay on Brighton Beach in Brooklyn before taking the subway into Manhattan to go to work. We both shared a love of water and a love of sensory.
I am a painter who eats poetry to stay alive.

Karma Repair Kit Items 1-4.


1.Get enough food to eat,
and eat it.

2.Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
and sleep there.

3.Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
until you arrive at the silence of yourself,
and listen to it.

4.
― Richard Brautigan

Brautigan

“Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords.”
― Richard Brautigan

Questions

When I was five I said to my step-father "If the world is turning overnight, then in the morning I am breathing Chinese air."

"Where are birds ears," I asked him one day when we were driving in the car. "That's a good question, I don't know," he admitted.

My Plan

“all of us have a place in history. mine is clouds.”
― Richard Brautigan

When I was small I thought about my plan. I wanted to be cremated and painted into a picture of the sky.

Mayonnaise

Article
"I have always wanted to write a book that ended with the word 'mayonnaise.'"

― Richard Brautigan

Routines can be Comforting

Everyone has routines. What works for one person may not for someone else. Routines can be comforting. They may be our jobs. They define our limits and we try to make something constructive out of them.

The myth is that artists are somehow different. That they leap from one peak of inspiration to another. That they reject limits -- that this is precisely what makes them artists. But of course that's not true. Most artists work as the rest of us do, incrementally, day by day, according to their own habits. That most art does not rise above the level of routine has nothing necessarily to do with the value of having a ritual.

Twyla Tharp wakes up every day at 5:30 and takes a cab to the gym. Chopin played Bach. Beethoven strolled around Vienna with a sketch pad first thing in the morning. Giorgio Morandi spent decades painting the same dusty bunch of small bottles, bowls and biscuit tins. Chuck Close paints and draws and makes prints of nearly identical dots or marks, which, depending on how they're arranged, turn into different faces. "Having a routine, knowing what to do," he has said, "gives me a sense of freedom and keeps me from going crazy. It's calming." He calls his method Zenlike, "like raking gravel in a monastery."

Article

Early

I get up early ahead of the people and ahead of the heat.

Silence

Sometimes I swim to hide underwater in the silence. I miss the ice cold winter days where Lily and I would walk for hours and nobody would be outside. As charming as it is I am exhausted by the spring socializing, even in the cemetery!

Alan Hollinghurst

"For a shy person, it strikes me now that my first book was rather bold. But I think shy people often have a strange, compensatory impulse. When they do something, it's ridiculously outspoken."

"I think there is a sort of mystery to being an only child in the way that you make your own unshared world when you're very young. [...] I think being an only child was a good training for someone who takes as long to write novels as I seem to do. It requires a lot of solitude."

“It was the time of year when the atmosphere streamed with unexpected hints and memories, and a paradoxical sense of renewal.”

― Alan Hollinghurst

Miles Davis

It's the birthday of jazz musician Miles Davis, born in Alton, Illinois (1926). His father was an oral surgeon, and he grew up in a nice home in East St. Louis. The family also owned a ranch in Arkansas. He was about seven or eight years old when he started listening to a radio show called Harlem Rhythms. It was a 15-minute show, and it came on at 8:45 in the morning. And Davis started showing up late to school every day because he couldn't bear to miss the music.

About that same time, he started paying attention to the music he heard in rural Arkansas. He said: "We'd be walking on these dark country roads at night and all of a sudden this music would seem to come out of nowhere, out of them spooky-looking trees that everybody said ghosts lived in. [...] Somebody would be playing a guitar the way B.B. King plays. And I remember a man and a woman singing and talking about getting down! [...] That music was something, especially that woman singing. But I think that kind of stuff stayed with me, you know what I mean? That kind of sound in music, that blues, church, back-road funk kind of thing, that southern, midwestern, rural sound and rhythm. I think it started getting into my blood on them spook-filled Arkansas back-roads after dark when the owls came out hooting." A few years later, he started music lessons, playing the trumpet, and after that he didn't stop. He was playing professionally by the age of 15. And when he was 18, he struck out for New York to find his hero, Charlie Parker. Soon they were playing together, and Davis continued to play jam sessions with other musicians, and experiment with new types of jazz. In 1959, he recorded Kind of Blue, one of the best-selling jazz records of all time.

- Writer's Almanac

I LOVE Dorothea Lange's Photos

It's the birthday of photographer and author Dorothea Lange, born in Hoboken, New Jersey (1895). A bout with polio at the age of seven left Lange with a noticeable limp - and a hatred for school, where she was teased and alienated. She cut classes and wondered around New York City, carefully observing the life around her. She soon decided she wanted to become a photographer. While training to be a teacher, she apprenticed with several photographers. In 1918, she decided she could earn her way around the world taking pictures. She got as far as San Francisco, where she opened a portrait studio, and later met and married the painter Maynard Dixon. But by the late 1920s, she was too disturbed by the Depression to make photographs of rich clients.

She began to go out on the street, and took what became one of the most famous photographs of the time, called White Angel Breadline. It depicted a crowd of well-dressed, newly unemployed men waiting for food on a breadline. In 1939, she and her husband published An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion, which dealt with the problems of America's migrant farmworkers.

She said: "One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you'd be stricken blind. To live a visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable. I have only touched it, just touched it."

-Writer's Almanac

His Prophecies are the Arias of their Time.

It's the birthday of American pianist and composer William Bolcom, born in Seattle Washington (1938). Bolcom was something of a musical prodigy: by the time he was 11, he was studying composition and piano privately at the University of Washington.

Bolcom has composed over 300 symphonic works and chamber pieces. He performs often with his wife, the mezzo-soprano Joan Morris. They've recorded popular parlour and vaudeville songs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Bolcom has also composed several operas based on literary works, like Frank Norris's novel McTeague, Arthur Miller's play, A View from the Bridge, and Robert Altman's film, A Wedding.

When he was seventeen, he began what would become a thirty-year-long process of setting poet William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience to music. It became a three-hour long composition for soloists, choruses, and orchestra. Along the way, he realized he wanted to bridge the gap between "popular" and "serious" music, so he incorporated elements of jazz, folk, soul, reggae, and vaudeville. The world premiere was held at Stuttgart Opera in 1984. On Blake's work, Bolcom said, "I've been looking at these texts since I fell in love with them at 17. I thought that maybe they would make more sense sung than spoken. Singing spreads them out. When I read these poems aloud, they make a weird kind of sense. But people have gotten all 'aw, shucks' about reading poetry aloud today. It's like listening to a bank draft. T. S. Eliot was like that. Blake is kind of a gloss on Handel. His prophecies are the arias of their time."

William Bolcom won the Pulitzer Prize (1988) for 12 New Etudes for Piano.

-Writer's Almanac

The Viking of 6th Avenue

It's the birthday of American avant-garde composer and musician Moondog (1916), known as the "Viking of 6th Avenue" because he used to busk on 6th Avenue in New York, between 52nd and 55th Streets wearing a Viking helmet, dressed in a flowing cape, and wielding a sword. When Dizzy Gillespie encountered him in the 1950s, he thought Moondog looked like Christ.

Moondog was born Louis Thomas Hardin in Marysville, Kansas, to missionaries. He always loved music and made his own drums from cardboard when he was five years old. He was blinded at the age of 16 in a farming accident and sent to the Iowa School for the Blind, where he learned to read music by Braille. By 1943, he was in New York City, where he became acquainted with Leonard Bernstein, Arturo Toscanini, and Charlie Parker. He christened himself "Moondog" in honor of a dog "who used to howl at the moon more than any dog I knew of."

His music was a mix of Native percussion and flute, jazz, classical, and ambient sounds like babies crying and ocean waves tumbling. People who passed him on the street often thought he was homeless, but he had an apartment and recorded several records with large labels like Epic. In the 1960s, his song "All My Loneliness" became a hit for Janis Joplin. He moved to Germany and gave up the helmet and the cloak because he was getting so many offers to serve as a guest conductor for orchestras. He was a major influence on avant-garde composer Philip Glass, who brought him back to the United States (1989) to lead the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra at the New Music Festival in Brooklyn.

Moondog was a noted inventor of musical instruments, such as a small, triangular-shaped harp known as the "oo" and the trimba, a triangular, percussive instrument that is still used today. Moondog died in 1999. On what inspired his music, he said, "Mostly silence."

And, "I deny that there is such a thing as originality. All an artist can do is bring his personality to bear. If he is true to himself, he can't help but be different, even unique, for no two persons are alike. I do not strive to be different for the sake of being different, but do not mind being different if my difference is the result of being myself."

-Writer's Almanac

Wake Early

Sometimes when I'm in a good place I go to bed reluctantly but comforted that I will wake early with words in my head. This morning I opened windows and heard the freight train rolling by. It was a hot dry day yesterday. I just turned on the fan to let the cooler air into the house. The birds have just woken up and it is a cacophony of chittering along with the low playing classical music on my radio.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Yiddish Proverb

I'll forgive and I'll forget, but I'll remember.
—yiddish proverb

from That Said: New and Collected Poems by Jane Shore

Nanano Sakaki

If you want to know the land
Learn the weeds

If you want to know the people
Know yourself.

-Nanano Sakaki, excerpts from the poem False Solomon's Seal, from the book Break the Mirror

Nanano Sakaki

In the next life
We will be a persimmon forest.

-Nanano Sakaki, from the poem Persimmon Vinegar, from Break the Mirror

Nanano Sakaki

"To travel light
Why don't you leave your skull here?"

- Nanano Sakaki, excerpt from the poem Travel Light, from Breaking The Mirror