Saturday, September 10, 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How we survive . . .

This nest was painted by Savana oa a recent grandchild visit.
I thought it went well with the Paul Zimmer poem which I have been saving
for months since I recycled some literary periodicals. 
Maybe because of the tree. Sigh.

How We Survive Childhood

Orvil Peacher and I were fifty feet up
In the old oak when he lost his grip
And plunged crashing through branches
Toward certain, terrible damage.
But at the last possible moment
Before his wreck he managed to clutch
A limb and hang on for dear life.

A long time Orvil dangled in silence.
Then slowly he lifted his eyes to peer
Up at me aghast in the canpoy.
In the same daunting voice
He'd used to dare me hight into
That venerable oak, he said,
"I'll bet you can't do that!"

Paul Zimmer

New England Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, 
Winter 1995, page 20.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

It all begins again

PACIFIC BLUES, photo by jhhymas

I've been spending the day with the new book of Tom Killion's prints 
and the poetry selected to go with them. 
I am also reading in Jared Diamond's The Third Chimpanzee
which is all about us, human beings.
While the seas are rising now, aeons ago more water was trapped in ice 
and the California coast was very different, 
providing access to the sea's bounty for earlier peoples. 
Planning to leave California, which is so beautiful this time of year, 
makes me treasure every outing,
even ones that take place through the pages of books.

Point Reyes
                      Gary Snyder

Sandpipers at the margin
                  in the moon---
Bright fan of the flat creek
On dark sea sand,
                 rock boom beyond:
The work of centuries and wars,
                  a car,
Is parked a mile above
                  where the dirt road ends,
In naked gritty sand,
Eye-stinging salty driftwood campfire
                  smoke, out far.
It all begins again.
Sandpipers chasing the shiny surf
                 in the moonlight---
By a fire at the beach.

California's Wild Edge; the coast in poetry, prints and history, Tom Killion with Gary Snyder, unpaginated. Heyday, 2015.

Small beach watercolor, jhhymas.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fifteen Marines

I am putting things away to prepare for our trip to Idaho.
Instead of re-shelving Paul's book of poems, 
opened it and found this poem. Since this is the Memorial Day weekend, 
I thought it might be a good choice to unpause this blog. In this photo 
from a long-ago Yuki Teikei Haiku Society winter holiday party,
Paul is in the dark red shirt at far left. 
He is giving Betty Arnold encouraging feedback on her reading, 
as her husband, Jim (in black shirt) looks on and smiles.
Paul's wife, KerryLynn, looks on from the right. 
You can just see the host, Patrick Gallagher, beyond the white doorframe. 

Today, Fifteen Marines

Today, fifteen marines 

fell in a helicopter--the same kind
you called a flying coffin--the one
they flew you in from Kaneohe Bay
to Barber's Point.  And I,

this late night in Illinois

think of you in Yuma, your burr cut,
your straightened back, your look,
on duty or asleep, way off, and of
those others once again.

Tonight, in their selected trees,

the hawks are sleeping, marsh and red-tail.
Knobby talons grip the limbs,
fierce eyes closed for now. Come dawn,
look sharp, my sons, look very sharp.

Growing in the Rain; 

poems by Paul O. Williams, page 44.

The structure of this three-stanza poem could serve as a template for one of your own. In the first stanza, there is the thing that caused you to begin to wonder and think. In the second, an associated memory; and in the final stanza an associated nature image. Each stanza is placed in a specific place. I would love to see any of your resulting poems!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The Greece of Books . . .

Looking out at the Aegean Sea in 2006 on the painting trip to Greece led by Robert Dvorak.

Houston, 6 p.m.

Europe already sleeps beneath a coarse plaid of borders
and ancient hatreds: France nestled
up to Germany, Bosnia in Serbia’s arms,
lonely Sicily in azure seas.

It’s early evening here, the lamp is lit
and the dark sun swiftly fades. 

I’m alone, I read a little, think a little,
listen to a little music.

I’m where there’s friendship,
but no friends, where enchantment
grows without magic,
where the dead laugh.

I’m alone because Europe is sleeping. My love
sleeps in a tall house on the outskirts of Paris.

In Krakow and Paris my friends
wade in the same river of oblivion.

I read and think; in one poem
I found the phrase “There are blows so terrible . . .
Don’t ask!” I don’t. A helicopter
breaks the evening quiet.

Poetry calls us to a higher life,
but what’s low is just as eloquent,
more plangent than Indo-European,
stronger than my books and records.

There are not nightingales or blackbirds here
with their sad, sweet cantilenas,
only the mockingbird who imitates
and mimics every living voice.

Poetry summons us to life, to courage
in the face of the growing shadow.
Can you gaze calmly at the Earth
like the perfect astronaut?

Out of harmless indolence, the Greece of books,
and the Jerusalem of memory there suddenly appears
the island of a poem, unpeopled;
some new Cook will discover it one day.

Europe is already sleeping. Night’s animals,
mournful and rapacious,
move in for the kill.
Soon America will be sleeping, too.

Adam Zagajewski,                     (Born 1945)
             translated by Clare Cavanagh

Mysticism for Beginners, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1997, page 69.

Thinking about what is happening all over the world, as we wake or sleep--especially if we find ourselves far from home--is a universal interest. Where are you sleeping tonight, where were you five years ago???

Monday, April 04, 2016

The dawn, as yet . . .

Rose names are a little funny. In Idaho, we have a pink rose called
Barbara Streisand. We read that she insisted on a rose having a fragrance
if she was going to allow then to name it for her. 
But this, rose, Mr. Lincoln was named for Honest Abe
without his permission. and really has very little fragrance.
However, we think it is one of the best red roses
and the buds have this truly beautiful, urnlike form.


Some things we believe cannot be redeemed.
But in a valley the Railroad finally forgot,
the silted sluggish ditch we would not eat fish from
runs again, a river, rilled as before
by clear water, not black. Grass grows back
between tracks and rails. Limestone spalls
hews from the mountain heal into soil.
Stumps heaped with live coals, split, and winched out,
in spring frail a new circlet of green.
Panthers are seen. A son is born blue, and lives.
Some things we believe cannot be redeemed,
but the dawn, as yet, is diurnal. The woods keep
a hushed vigil. then rustle with life we cannot see;
small ponds well from the ground when we sleep.

Rebecca Foust

Paradise Drive; poems. Press 53, 2015, page 82.

Here is another sonnet, very hopeful, from this poet 
so new to me. As much as I like sonnets, 
I have never tried to write one. Have you??

I am on Facebook with an group called American Rivers
which frequently publishes pictures of rivers that have been. 
or are being, restored. There are still some things to be happy 
about amidst all the environmental bad news.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

A Pleasant Attitude

Blossoming whitely and quietly by the front door now,
and beginning to show tiny spots of brown.
Waning spring. . .

Outdoor Photos

Find a quiet rain.  Then a green spruce tree. You will notice that nearly every needle has been decorated with a tiny raindrop ornament. Look closely inside the drop and there you are. In 
color. Upside down. The raindrop has no instructions to flip us right-side up. People, dogs, muskrats, woods, and hill, what-
ever fits, heads down like quail from a hunter’s belt. Raindrops have been collecting snapshots since objects and people were placed, to their surprise, here and there on earth.

Raindrops are fickle, of course, willing to substitute one image 

for another without a thought as we pass by them. Our spot 
taken by a flash of lightening or a wet duck. Still, even if we are only on display for a moment in a water drop as it clings to a 
pine needle, it is expected that we be on our best behavior, hair combed, jacket buttoned, no vulgar language. Smiling is not necessary, but a pleasant attitude is helpful, and would be, I think, appreciated.

by Tom Hennen     (born 1942)

Darkness Sticks to Everything; Collected and New Poems;
Copper Canyon Press, 2013, page 154.

I got this book because of the splendid review in the New York Times and the recommendations from Robert Bly and Jim Harrison. It is a wonderful treasure: the selected poems of someone who has been working carefully and paying attention for a long while. The prose poems are near the end of the book, and earlier poems have linebreaks. All the poems demonstrate the most careful attention to the natural world.