Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Vickie Triumphant

Do what I just did:
read these ~ reviews,
and order an advance copy from amazon!

Victoria & Olivia
Having Champagne & Discussing the Memoirs

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Not Who You Are

Joni & Hannah ~ Thanks for sharing this very honest article and definition of abuse. The list of "that's not normal" factors really brings it home. Of course, no woman wants to read out a list of those things because they are embarrassing and humiliating. If he criticizes you sexually, that's not normal (and it's NOT about you). If he won't stop ennumerating his previous relationships and making comparisons, that's not normal (and it's NOT about you). If he tells you that he wishes he'd married someone less (or more) intelligent than you, that's not normal (and it's NOT about you). If he wants to travel and leave you behind, that's not normal (and it's NOT about you). If it turns out that he is also married to someone else and you didn't even know about it, that's not normal (and it's NOT about you). And so forth.

Yet, it can still be so difficult to realize that "not normal" = "abusive."

Someone Else's Story

Long ago
In someone else's lifetime
Someone with my name
Who looked a lot like me

Came to know
A man and made a promise
He only had to say
And that's where she would be

Lately, although the feelings
run just as deep
The promise she made
has grown impossible to keep

And yet I wish it wasn't so
Will he miss me if I go?

In a way
It's someone else's story
I don't see myself
As taking part at all

A girl that I was fond of
Finally could see
The writing on the wall

Sadly, she realized
she'd left him behind
And sadder than that
She knew he wouldn't even mind

And though there's nothing left to say
Would he listen if I stay?

It's all very well to say
You fool it's now or never
I could be choosing
No choices whatsoever.

I could be
In someone else's story
In someone else's life
And he could be in mine

I don't see
A reason to be lonely
I could take my chances
Further down the line

And if that girl I knew
Should ask my advice
Oh I wouldn't hesitate
She needn't ask me twice

Go now!
I'd tell her that for free
Trouble is, the girl is me
The story is, the girl is me.

From the musical Chess
Lyrics by the incredible Tim Rice (b 1944)
Music by Benny Andersson & Bjoern Ulvaeus -- of Abba

Click here for another great song: The Ugly Truth
By Lucinda Williams

As one of Lucinda's fans comments: " . . . don't make the same mistake that I did! Take those ghosts out of the closet, hang 'em up on a clothes line and disinfect them with sunlight. Sit back in a deck chair with a cool beverage and watch 'em blow in the breeze! You gotta look at this 'truth stuff' or it'll haunt you forever . . . "

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Nothing That My Hand Grasps

Theo van Rysselberghe- A Reading by Emile Verhaeren
A Reading by Emile Verhaeren (1901)
by Theo van Rysselberghe (1862 - 1926)

Wearing red, with hand raised:
Émile Verhaeren (1855 – 1916)
Belgian poet, wrote in French
nominated six times for
the Nobel Prize in Literature

Sitting across from Verhaeren, with hand on head:
André Gide (1869 – 1951)
French Author
Nobel Prize in Literature ~ 1947

One should want only one thing and want it constantly. Then one is sure of getting it. But I desire everything and consequently get nothing. Each time I discover, and too late, that one thing had come to me while I was running after another.

from The Journals of André Gide


I devoted myself to my business to the best of my ability — not taking much pleasure in it, but hoping by this semblance of work to give some stability to my disintegrated life.

Perhaps it was because the day had begun so badly that I felt so anguished. Oh, I thought, without a doubt, everything in my life is falling to pieces. Nothing that my hand grasps can my hand hold.

from Gide's novel, The Immoralist

And from Stéphane Mosès (1931 - 2007)
French-Israeli philosopher

Certain situations are so desperate that the only
way to escape them is through total ingenuousness.


For more wise words from André Gide
see wikiquotes & goodreads

Additional portraits of Gide,
also by van Rysselberghe: 1907 & 1908

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Flying Over Crosby

When Ben & Sam were small, we often read and sang and watched The Snowman as a favorite bedtime story. To add some local color, we liked to say that the Snowman was "flying over Crosby," the hometown of their British grandparents. Certainly, that's what the pictures made us think of!

For more about why we love
The Snowman
see my recent post

Our Favorite Snowman

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony

Based on the picture book by Raymond Briggs
Walking In The Air

We're walking in the air
We're floating in the moonlit sky
The people far below are sleeping as we fly

I'm holding very tight
I'm riding in the midnight blue
I'm finding I can fly so high above with you

On across the world
The villages go by like dreams
The rivers and the hills, the forests and the streams

Children gaze open-mouthed taken by surprise
Nobody down below believes their eyes

We're surfing in the air
We're swimming in the frozen sky
We're drifting over icy mountains floating by

Suddenly swooping low on an ocean deep
Rising up a mighty monster from its sleep

We're walking in the air
We're dancing in the midnight sky
And everyone who sees us greets us as we fly

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A Black Cat Comes

Snow in the Suburbs

Every branch big with it,
Bent every twig with it;
Every fork like a white web-foot;
Every street and pavement mute:
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward when
Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.
The palings are glued together like a wall,
And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall.

A sparrow enters the tree,
Whereon immediately
A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
Descends on him and showers his head and eye
And overturns him,
And near inurns him,
And lights on a nether twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.

The steps are a blanched slope,
Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
And we take him in.

by Thomas Hardy

Many thanks to Gerry's Auntie Jan for introducing us to
this great restaurant, the above poem by Thomas Hardy,
and "London Snow" by Robert Bridges
The Cat Inn & Pub in West Hoathly, England
Purr-fect for a pre-Christmas lunch on a sunny winter day!

Monday, February 11, 2019

All Night It Fell

Lafayette ~ West Lafayette Pedestrian Bridge
Photo by Ben McCartney

Photos from Indiana . . .
poem from England:
London Snow (1890)

When we were all asleep the snow came flying,
In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:
Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.

All night it fell, and when full inches seven
It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,
The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;
And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
The eye marvelled—marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;
The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;
No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,
And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.
Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,
They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze
Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing;
Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;
Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder,
‘O look at the trees!’ they cried, ‘O look at the trees!’

With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,
Following along the white deserted way,
A country company long dispersed asunder:
When now already the sun, in pale display
Standing by Paul’s high dome, spread forth below
His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.
For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;
And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,
Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:
But even for them awhile no cares encumber
Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,
The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber
At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.

by Robert Bridges (1844 – 1930)
Britain's Poet Laureate: 1913 - 1930
Another lovely poem by Robert Bridges:
"Noel: Christmas 1913" ~ sung by John Denver

Friday, February 8, 2019

An Eternal February Day

Children Skating by Percy Tarrant (1855 - 1934)
~ father of the artist Margaret Tarrant (1888 - 1959) ~


A few years ago, I wrote this note:

Dear Poetical Friends,

I've been trying to track down a poem that I've misplaced and thought and thought I'd check with you in case you recognize the reference. I'm almost certain that the title is "Feast Day." The narrator is a woman who is feeling sad on the first day of her period, and the concluding line is "languorous blood." Does that happen to ring any bells? I remember reading it back in the late 1970s, early 80s, but can't remember where.

I've looked through all my old anthologies and notebooks but can't find it; and I've tried numerous google searches with no luck. I can't remember the poet, but vaguely thought that it might be Joyce Carol Oates. It seems to me that in the middle of the poem, she is looking out of a large window, watching children ice - skating on a pond and feeling fearful of their safety, but it could also be that I've borrowed that skating image from another forgotten poem -- something else I need to find! -- and merged it with the "Feast Day" poem in my mind.

Any clues?


Today I found the poems!

In New Letters: Volume 45 No. 2 (winter, 1978):

Feast Day

under the spell
of fat raindrops splattering the window
streaming down
with shameful eagerness --

Today, a feast
of rich overripe pulpy blood,
a swamp heaving tides of dragonflies and lichen
and fetid clots like exclamations

In disguise,
as rusted blood,
thick and warm and sluggish,
your life begins to inch from you

Changed in the night
to liquid that trembles finely
in a jar of skin
eager to break
and flow to tarantula-sized shapes --
the unspeakable satisfaction
of the belly's hurt
wanting no love,
the thrumming ache of the womb
as it stirs to life
by dying

And the body's blush of fear
that it might this time bleed
away to death --

Still, you turn weak and selfish,
you want the sky to bleed black,
the rain to fall heavily
through the floorboards
where bits of straw and dirt
will float --
you are a scattering of noisy birds
drawn back suddenly to earth

a great beast of a bloodstain
lazy and sweetly - aching
sprawling across the sky

A woman, a fever: the sour hot bliss
of garbagey languorous blood

Winter Landscape: Children Teasing Death

Raucous as winter crows the children edge to the ice's rim
throwing fist - sized rocks of ice -- why? -- into the river
as their shrieks lead them out
their ignorance exploding like joy
their simple blunt souls steaming from their mouths

The sun, Heraclitus declared, measures one foot wide

The piano's note are waiting, tensed, in your fingertips
the lung filled to bursting with black water is waiting
beneath the ice

Overhead? A sky of blurred newsprint,
an eternal January day
that must be learned a syllable at a time

Well, if the ice cracks you are the only witness
you are the one who must save them
if the children fall screaming to their deaths you are the one
who must haul them back

The miracle won't happen --

Alone behind the steamy pane you stare, and listen
to their shouts
as death calls them and they inch outward
gay and raucous as the blackest of fluttery crows

You'll run out into the freezing air as unprepared --

The children are your own? Are you?
No. Nor are they metaphor: boldly, they are real
and the children of strangers
who don't even know your name.

The children will drown, then; it is their right
You are not their future, staring from your house
you might as well be King Pentheus, in women's clothes,
caught like a fool atop a tree

Death teases them out from shore and their cries mock death
and the day is anyway like every other
tundra-hard and dry and cruel
and it's pointless to fear disaster, a friend once said, since
the ones that happen are never
the ones you expect or deserve

both poems by Joyce Carol Oates (b. 1938)


Our Reindeer Sleigh by Arthur Hopkins (1848 - 1930)
~ brother of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 - 1889) ~

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Larry Levis & the Pepsi Ad Girls

Years ago, I was lucky enough to hear Larry Levis give a reading, when I was an undergraduate in Missouri. I wrote three of his poems down in my notebook (Fall 1976) and have never forgotten them.

1. First, you may remember this one from a previous blog post:
We'll go on as always harvesting walnuts
on our hands and knees,
and die voicelessly
as a sedan full of cigar smoke
sinking under a bridge.
We'll turn slowly, flowers
in the mouths of drowned cattle
In a dawn of burned fields,
the sun disappoints you,
and the blight you begin to remember
is me.
Like an Alp overlooking a corpse
I explain nothing.

2. Next comes the second half of a poem entitled "Rhododendrons." For the entire poem, check out this essay, and this poetry blog which, like mine, strives to make connections.

Levis wishes he could offer a helping hand. Though he would have been only 30 when I heard him read this poem, he thinks back to himself at 20 and longs to connect with that ghostly young man, in need of money and sleep:
As I write this,
some blown rhododendrons are nodding
in the first breezes. I want
to resemble them, and remember nothing,
the way a photograph of an excavation
cannot remember the sun.
The wind rises or stops
and it means nothing.
I want to be circular;
a pond or a column of smoke
revolving, slowly, its ashes.
I want to turn back and go up
to myself at age 20,
and press five dollars into his hand

so he can sleep.
While he stands trembling on a street in Fresno,
suddenly one among many in the crowd
that strolls down Fulton Street,
among the stores that are closing,
and is never heard of again.

3. Finally, in "The Double," Levis evokes "the elderly drunks" and "the girl in the Pepsi ad," all "dead now." Sadly, very sadly, the poet who wrote those words is dead now too, for Larry Levis died young, in 1996 at age 49. In a poem filled with ghosts, the poet says, "This poem so like me / it could be my double":
The Double

Out here, I can say anything.
I can say, for example, that a girl
disappearing tonight
will sleep or stare out
fixedly as the train moves her
into its adulthood of dust
and sidings.

I remember watching wasps
on hot evenings
fly heavily over chandeliers
in hotel lobbies.
They’ve torn them down, too.
And the elderly drunks
who seemed not to mind anything,
who seemed to look for change
in their pockets, as they gazed
at the girl in the Pepsi ad,
and the girl who posed for the ad,
must all be dead now.

I can already tell that this
is no poem to show you,
this love poem. It’s so
flat spoken and ignorable,
like the man chain smoking
who discovers he’s
no longer waiting for anyone,
and goes to the movies
alone each Saturday, and grins,
and likes them.
This poem so like the hour
when the street lights turn
amber and blink, and the calm
professor burns another book,
and the divorcee waters her one
chronically dying plant.

This poem so like me
it could be my double.

I have stood for a long time
in its shadow, the way I stood
in the shadow of a dead roommate
I had to cut down from the ceiling
on Easter break, when
I was young.

That night I put my car
in neutral, and cut the engine
and lights to glide downhill
and hear the wind rush over
the dead metal.
I had to know what it felt
like, and under the moon,
gaining speed, I wanted to slip
out of my body and be
done with it.

A man can give up smoking
and the movies, and live for years
hearing the wind tick over roofs
but never looking up from
his one page, or the tiny
life he keeps carving over and
over upon it. And when everyone
around him dies, he can move
a grand piano into
his house, and sit down
alone, and finally play,
certain that no one will
overhear him, though he plays
as loud as he can,
so that when the dead come
and take his hands off the keys
they are invisible, the way air
and music are not.
[emphasis added]

"Rhododendrons" and "The Double"
can be found in The Selected Levis


For further analysis of these poems
see my recent post

Ghost of the Girl in the Pepsi Ad

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony

1910 Pepsi Calendar Girls

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The Holy Family is like me --
they don't want to take down their Christmas decorations yet!

And I don't want to put away The Nativity Scene
or take down any of the trees.

But, hey, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, it's time!
It's Candlemas ~ the Fortieth Day of Chistmas!

Nativity Scene Puzzle ~ 1975
Everyone in my family was already too old
for a 100 - piece kids' jigsaw, but I saw this at the
Hallmark store & thought it would make a fun family present.

Previous Candlemas Posts
Also Groundhog Day & Imbolc & James Joyce's Birthday