Categories
Poetry

This Disquieting Muses

by Sylvia Plath

A 1947 replica of The Disquieting Muses. De Chirico
Mother, mother, what illbred aunt
Or what disfigured and unsightly
Cousin did you so unwisely keep
Unasked to my christening, that she
Sent these ladies in her stead
With heads like darning-eggs to nod
And nod and nod at foot and head
And at the left side of my crib?

Mother, who made to order stories
Of Mixie Blackshort the heroic bear,
Mother, whose witches always, always,
Got baked into gingerbread, I wonder
Whether you saw them, whether you said
Words to rid me of those three ladies
Nodding by night around my bed,
Mouthless, eyeless, with stitched bald head.

In the hurricane, when father’s twelve
Study windows bellied in
Like bubbles about to break, you fed
My brother and me cookies and Ovaltine
And helped the two of us to choir:
“Thor is angry: boom boom boom!
Thor is angry: we don’t care!”
But those ladies broke the panes.

When on tiptoe the schoolgirls danced,
Blinking flashlights like fireflies
And singing the glowworm song, I could
Not lift a foot in the twinkle-dress
But, heavy-footed, stood aside
In the shadow cast by my dismal-headed
Godmothers, and you cried and cried:
And the shadow stretched, the lights went out.

Mother, you sent me to piano lessons
And praised my arabesques and trills
Although each teacher found my touch
Oddly wooden in spite of scales
And the hours of practicing, my ear
Tone-deaf and yes, unteachable.
I learned, I learned, I learned elsewhere,
From muses unhired by you, dear mother,

I woke one day to see you, mother,
Floating above me in bluest air
On a green balloon bright with a million
Flowers and bluebirds that never were
Never, never, found anywhere.
But the little planet bobbed away
Like a soap-bubble as you called: Come here!
And I faced my traveling companions.

Day now, night now, at head, side, feet,
They stand their vigil in gowns of stone,
Faces blank as the day I was born,
Their shadows long in the setting sun
That never brightens or goes down.
And this is the kingdom you bore me to,
Mother, mother. But no frown of mine
Will betray the company I keep.
Categories
Dahlias

Fairfax Ferns Info

https://fairfaxfernsgardenclub.weebly.com/dahlias.html

Categories
Poetry

Futility in Key West

By Mark Strand

I was stretched out on the couch, about to doze off, when I imagined a small figure asleep on a couch identical to mine. “Wake up, little man, wake up,” I cried. “The one you’re waiting for is rising from the sea, wrapped in spume, and soon will come ashore. Beneath her feet the melancholy garden will turn bright green and the breezes will be light as babies’ breath. Wake up, before this creature of the deep is gone and everything goes blank as sleep.” How hard I try to wake the little man, how hard he sleeps. And the one who rose from the sea, her moment gone, how hard she has become—how hard those burning eyes, that burning hair.
Categories
Poetry

The End

By Mark Strand

Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,

Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like

When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,

Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.



When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,

When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down

No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.

When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky



Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus

And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,

Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing

When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.

Categories
Poetry

Natural History

By E.B. White

The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unwinds a thread of her devising:
A thin, premeditated rig
To use in rising.


And all the journey down through space,
In cool descent, and loyal-hearted,
She builds a ladder to the place
From which she started.


Thus I, gone forth, as spiders do,
In spider’s web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken strand to you
For my returning
Categories
Poetry

Soliloquy at Times Square

By E.B. White

The time for little words is past;
We now speak only the broad impertinences.
I take your hand
Merely to help you cross the street
(We are such friends),
Choosing the long and formal phrase
Deliberately.
At dinner we discuss, rather intelligently,
The things one should discuss at dinner. So.
How well we are in tune -- how easy
Every phrase! The long words come, fondling the ear,
Flattering the mind they come. Long words
Enjoy the patronage of noble minds,
The circumspection of this sanity.


How much is gone! How much went
When the little words went: peace,
Sandwiched in the space between madness and madness;
The quick exchange of every bright moment;
The animal alertness to the other’s heart;
The reality of nearness. Those things went
With the words.


Suppose I should forget, grow thoughtless --
What if the little words came back,
Running in upon me, running back
Like little children home from school?
Suppose I spoke -- oh, I don’t know --
Some vagrant phrase out of the summer!
What if I said: “I love you”? Something as simple
And as easy to the tongue as that--
Something as true? I’m only talking.
Give me your hand.
We must by all means cross this street.
Categories
Poetry

Ode on a Grecian Urn

by John Keats

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,

       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,

Sylvan historian, who canst thus express

       A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:

What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape

       Of deities or mortals, or of both,

               In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?

       What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?

What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?

               What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?



Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard

       Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;

Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,

       Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:

Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave

       Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;

               Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,

Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;

       She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,

               For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!



Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed

         Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;

And, happy melodist, unwearied,

         For ever piping songs for ever new;

More happy love! more happy, happy love!

         For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,

                For ever panting, and for ever young;

All breathing human passion far above,

         That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,

                A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.



Who are these coming to the sacrifice?

         To what green altar, O mysterious priest,

Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,

         And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?

What little town by river or sea shore,

         Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,

                Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?

And, little town, thy streets for evermore

         Will silent be; and not a soul to tell

                Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.



O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede

         Of marble men and maidens overwrought,

With forest branches and the trodden weed;

         Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought

As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!

         When old age shall this generation waste,

                Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe

Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,

         "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all

                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
Categories
Poetry

Death Be Not Proud

by John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
Categories
Films

French Connection

Finally got around to watching this classic. The director, William Friedkin, really keeps thing moving. Lost of action, lots of quick cuts, cursing, shooting etc. It’s always mentioned in any list of classic movies, and I can see why. Won Best Picture in 1971. I’d say Friedkin really deserves most of the credit for the movie’s quality, since it’s pretty much a standard good guys/bad guys thing. The pacing, realism really make it. He also made the Exorcist.

Categories
Films

Tokyo Olympiad

A Japanese documentary about the 1964 Olympics. The review I read called it “poetic.” True dat.

Categories
Poetry

A Complaint

by William Wordsworth

There is a change–and I am poor;
Your love hath been, nor long ago,
A fountain at my fond heart’s door,
Whose only business was to flow;
And flow it did; not taking heed
Of its own bounty, or my need.

What happy moments did I count!
Blest was I then all bliss above!
Now, for that consecrated fount
Of murmuring, sparkling, living love,
What have I? Shall I dare to tell?
A comfortless and hidden well.

A well of love–it may be deep–
I trust it is,–and never dry:
What matter? If the waters sleep
In silence and obscurity.
–Such change, and at the very door
Of my fond heart, hath made me poor

Categories
Poetry

Writ on the Eve of My 32nd Birthday

BY GREGORY CORSO

a slow thoughtful spontaneous poem

I am 32 years old
and finally I look my age, if not more.

Is it a good face what’s no more a boy’s face?   
It seems fatter. And my hair,
it’s stopped being curly. Is my nose big?   
The lips are the same.
And the eyes, ah the eyes get better all the time.   
32 and no wife, no baby; no baby hurts,   
         but there’s lots of time.
I don’t act silly any more.
And because of it I have to hear from so-called friends:   
“You’ve changed. You used to be so crazy so great.”   
They are not comfortable with me when I’m serious.   
Let them go to the Radio City Music Hall.   
32; saw all of Europe, met millions of people;
         was great for some, terrible for others.   
I remember my 31st year when I cried:
“To think I may have to go another 31 years!”   
I don’t feel that way this birthday.
I feel I want to be wise with white hair in a tall library   
         in a deep chair by a fireplace.
Another year in which I stole nothing.   
8 years now and haven’t stole a thing!   
I stopped stealing!
But I still lie at times,
and still am shameless yet ashamed when it comes   
         to asking for money.
32 years old and four hard real funny sad bad wonderful   
         books of poetry
—the world owes me a million dollars.
I think I had a pretty weird 32 years.   
And it weren’t up to me, none of it.   
No choice of two roads; if there were,
         I don’t doubt I’d have chosen both.   
I like to think chance had it I play the bell.
The clue, perhaps, is in my unabashed declaration:   
“I’m good example there’s such a thing as called soul.”   
I love poetry because it makes me love
         and presents me life.
And of all the fires that die in me,
there’s one burns like the sun;
it might not make day my personal life,   
         my association with people,
         or my behavior toward society,   
but it does tell me my soul has a shadow.

Categories
Books

Henry David Thoreau: A Life

by Laura Dassow Walls 

What a boring book. But I learned a lot about Thoreau’s life.

Categories
Dahlias

Dahlias

The seem to be growing much slower this year. It’s now well into July, and they are just now starting to bloom steadily. I got them in the ground a bit later than usual, but I don’t that that explains it all.

The picture below show the current height, which I’m pretty sure is way shorter than previous years. For the first time, the potted plants seem to be doing better than the ones in the yard. That makes me think the soil is the issue. I’ll compost for next year.

Panorama on July 11, 2020.

Categories
Poetry

Bomb

by Gegory Corso

https://www.litkicks.com/Texts/Bomb.html

Categories
Books

Life Will Be the Death of Me

by Chelsea Handler

A kind of trashy autobiography written by the comedian Chelsea Handler. I want to read more about the Enneagram, the psychological test she said helped her understand herself better.

Categories
Poetry

Lost and Found

by Ron Padgett

We don’t look as young
as we used to
except in the dim light
especially in
the soft warmth of candlelight
when we say
in all sincerity
You’re so cute
and
You’re my cutie.
Imagine
two old people
behaving like this.
It’s enough
to make you happy.
Categories
Poetry

How to Be Perfect

by Ron Padgett

Categories
Films

Salute

A documentary about the life of Peter Norman, an Australian runner who won a silver medal in the 1968 Olympics. Americans John Carlos and Tommie Smith, the other two medalists in Norman’s race, raised their hands in a black-power fist during the awards ceremony, setting off a tremendous world-wide ruckus.

On the medal stand, Norman wore a Human Rights packet to show his support for the cause of Carlos and Smith. For his efforts, his life was turned upside down. The highly racist and vindictive Australian officials basically banned Norman from the 1972 games.

The movie seemed pretty low-budget, but definitely worth a watch.

Categories
Films

Outside In

Indie director Lynn Shelton died recently. I hadn’t heard of her, thought I should checkout her films.

The plot of this movie is a man getting out of prison and trying to get back to his life. He was young when he was sent to prison, and when he gets out, he rides his bike around town, same bike he must had when he was a child. It’s an effective image.

He wants to start a relationship with the woman who helped him get out of prison, his old high school teacher. Instead, he ends up getting in a platonic relationship with her daughter.

I liked movie a lot. I thought both the acting and the writing were high quality. It was an interesting idea.

Categories
Poetry

The Death of Marilyn Monroe

By Susan Olds

The ambulance men touched her cold
body, lifted it, heavy as iron,
onto the stretcher, tried to close the
mouth, closed the eyes, tied the
arms to the sides, moved a caught
strand of hair, as if it mattered,
saw the shape of her breasts, flattened by
gravity, under the sheet
carried her, as if it were she,
down the steps.

These men were never the same. They went out
afterwards, as they always did,
for a drink or two, but they could not meet
each other’s eyes.

Their lives took
a turn-one had nightmares, strange
pains, impotence, depression. One did not
like his work, his wife looked
different, his kids. Even death
seemed different to him-a place where she
would be waiting,

and one found himself standing at night
in the doorway to a room of sleep, listening to a
woman breathing, just an ordinary
woman
breathing.

Categories
Poetry

Beyond Harm

by Sharon Olds

A week after my father died
suddenly I understood
his fondness for me was safe – nothing
could touch it. In that last year,
his face would sometimes brighten when I would
enter the room, and his wife said
that once, when he was half asleep,
he smiled when she said my name. He respected
my spunk – when they tied me to the chair, that time
they were tying up someone he respected, and when
he did not speak, for weeks, I was one of the
beings to whom he was not speaking,
someone with a place in his life. The last
week he even said it, once,
by mistake. I walked into his room
‘How are you’ and he said ‘I love you
too.’ From then on, I had
that word to lose. Right up to the last
moment, I could make some mistake, offend him,
and with one of his old mouths of disgust he could
re-skew my life. I did not think of it much,
I was helping to take care of him,
wiping his face and watching him.
But then, a while after he died,
I suddenly thought, with amazement, he will always
love me now, and I laughed – he was dead, dead!
Categories
Dahlias

Dalihas

I potted the plant in mid-April this year. The vast majority sprouted. About six did not.

We had an unusually cold spring. I had to bring the inside the garage about five times. The last time was on (or about) May 12th. !

I bought one new one this year from Breck’s. Purple. Kenora Macob. We’ll see how it does. It sprouted quickly, good sign.

Categories
Poetry

First Party At Ken Kesey’s With Hell’s Angels

by Allen Gingsberg

Cool black night thru redwoods
cars parked outside in shade
behind the gate, stars dim above
the ravine, a fire burning by the side
porch and a few tired souls hunched over
in black leather jackets.  In the huge
wooden house, a yellow chandelier
at 3 A.M. the blast of loudspeakers
hi-fi Rolling Stones Ray Charles Beatles
Jumping Joe Jackson and twenty youths
dancing to the vibration thru the floor,
a little weed in the bathroom, girls in scarlet
tights, one muscular smooth skinned man
sweating dancing for hours, beer cans
bent littering the yard, a hanged man
sculpture dangling from a high creek branch,
children sleeping softly in their bedroom bunks.
And 4 police cars parked outside the painted
gate, red lights revolving in the leaves.
Categories
Poetry

Sunflower Sutra

by Allen Ginsberg

I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down under the huge shade of a Southern Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the box house hills and cry.
Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery.
The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that stream, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves rheumy-eyed and hung-over like old bums on the riverbank, tired and wily.
Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust——I rushed up enchanted—it was my first sunflower, memories of Blake—my visions—Harlem
and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the past—
and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset, crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye—
corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face, soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sunrays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried wire spiderweb,
leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,
Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then!
The grime was no man’s grime but death and human locomotives,
all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black mis’ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance of artificial worse-than-dirt—industrial—modern—all that civilization spotting your crazy golden crown—
and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what more could I name, the smoked ashes of some cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs & sphincters of dynamos—all these
entangled in your mummied roots—and you there standing before me in the sunset, all your glory in your form!
A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden monthly breeze!
How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your grime, while you cursed the heavens of the railroad and your flower soul?
Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a flower? when did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?
You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!
And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me not!
So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck it at my side like a scepter,
and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack’s soul too, and anyone who’ll listen,
—We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not dread bleak dusty imageless locomotives, we’re golden sunflowers inside, blessed by our own seed & hairy naked accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our own eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sitdown vision.

 

Berkeley, 1955