2004 II

Joyce Carol Oates Recollections in Tranquility
David Budbil This Shining Moment in the Now
Karen Koto Infidelity
ee cummings may i feel said she
Robert Frost Nothing Gold Can Stay
Philip Levine On Me!
Sara King  Men Come, Men Go, But Laundry is Forever
Wordsworth Tintern Abbey
N. Hawthorne On Humility
E. W. Garber Feasting
Arthur Krystal - Who Speaks For The Lazy  (abstract)
Thomas Hardy Snow in the Suburbs


Recollections in Tranquility
He ran his hands over me like Braille
He liked to bruise the skin of breasts, rib cage.
“Why are you so thin?” he asked.
My body a rebuke to his stern solid flesh.
What’s the effort of love but a kind of swimming
Through another’s flesh?
A man’s need, so sudden & hot!
It’s intimidating no matter how many times
it’s happened in just the same way.
It’s faces that love, we know that.
We know better, but we know that.
Mine was covered in a porcelain shell of which I think
I was vain:  languid-empty eyes, polite mouth,
Skin without history.
Beneath that face, the other he never saw.
Contorted in strain, in hope in anger.
Female passion that’s sheerly muscle,
mouth like a pike’s.
He saw the one, spoke and pleaded with the one,
Those eyes, that mouth, but the other, beneath,
He never knew, nor guessed.
What worried him was—“Sometimes I think I might kill you.”
In the end nothing came of it.
We remained married to other people. We grew older. 

                                          --Joyce Carol Oates


When I work outdoors all day, every day, as I do now, in the fall,
getting ready for winter, tearing up the garden, digging potatoes,
gathering the squash, cutting firewood, making kindling, repairing
bridges over the brook, clearing trails in the woods, doing the last of
the fall mowing, pruning apple trees, taking down the screens,
putting up the storm windows, banking the house - all these things,
as preparation for the coming cold...
when I am every day all day all body and no mind, when I am
physically, wholly and completely, in this world with the birds,
the deer, the sky, the wind, the trees...
when day after day I think of nothing but what the next chore is,
when I go from clearing woods roads, to sharpening a chain saw,
to changing the oil in a mower, to stacking wood, when I am
all body and no mind...
when I am only here and now and nowhere else - then, and only
then, do I see the crippling power of mind, the curse of thought,
and I pause and wonder why I so seldom find
this shining moment in the now.
                                                                        David Budbill

     "As a work of art, I know few things more pleasing to the eye, or more
     capable of affording scope and gratification to a taste for the beautiful
     than a well-situated, well-cultivated farm."
--Edward Everett Address at Buffalo, New York, Oct 9, 1857


"Infidelity, he confides, 'is anything but spontaneous.  You can't possibly conduct a proper affair without a lot of deliberating, scheming, speculating and conniving.  It's a delicate balance where the excitement must equal the guilt and the sex must be as bright as the future you gamble'."  
                                                       -- John Dufresne as quoted by Karen Koto


may i feel said he
(i'll squeal said she
just once said he)
it's fun said she

(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she
(let's go said he
not too far said she
what's too far said he
where you are said she)

may i stay said he
(which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she
may i move said he
is it love said she)
if you're willing said he
(but you're killing said she
but it's life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she
(tiptop said he
don't stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she

(cccome?said he
ummm said she)
you're divine!said he
(you are Mine said she)

e.e. cummings


"All Things on earth point home in old October:  sailors to the sea,
 travelers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and  the
 the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken."
                                                   -Thomas Wolfe, Of Time and the River

Robert Frost
Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's final green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her autumn leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.





                 On Me!
In the next room his brothers are asleep,
the two still in school.  They just can't wait
to grow up and be men, to make money.
Last night at dinner they sat across from him,
their brother, a man, but a man with nothing,
without money or the prospect of money.
He never pays, never tosses a bill
down on the bar so he can say, "On me!"
At four in the morning when he can't sleep,
he rehearses the stale phrase to himself
with a delicate motion of the wrist
that lets the bill float down.  He can't pace
for fear of waking his mom who sleeps
alone downstairs in the old storage room
off the kitchen.  When he was a kid, twelve
or fourteen, like his brothers, he never knew
why boys no older than he did the things
they did, the robberies, gang fights, ODs,
rapes, he never understood his father's
wordless rages that would explode in punches
and kicks, bottles, plates, glasses hurled
across the kitchen.  The next morning would be
so quiet that from his room upstairs
he'd hear the broom-straws scratching the floor
as his mother swept up the debris and hear
her humming to herself.  Now it's clear,
so obvious he wonders why it took
so long for him to get it and come of age.

                               -- Philip Levine

                                                        (See also:  Once in a House on Fire)

"If you judge love by most of its results it seems more akin to hate than to friendship."
    "In her first love, a woman loves her lover;  in all subsequent loves all she loves is love."
François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld

Men Come, Men Go, but Laundry is Forever

Two towels mean he's been here,
and one towel means he's gone.
Beer bottles gathering dust mean
he's been gone awhile.

Then a new name on the phone machine,
wine glasses on the floor,
my children exchange glances,
eyebrows up and down.
So who is this guy? they ask me.
Just some friend, I say.
Does this friend have a name?
It's John, Okay?
And you're not going to meet him,
unless he's going to stay.
But he doesn't.
I declare him irresponsible,
unstable, self-centered.
He says I don't play volleyball,
I'm not skinny, and I'm not Evangelical.
Then his photographs come down,
and his towel.
His toothbrush hits the trash.
I resume my old ways of keeping house—
I don't.

Do you think you'll ever remarry, Mom?
It's too late, I tell them.
I'm running out of towels.
Sara King


"Poetry is pure energy, horizontally contained between the mind of the poet and the ear of the reader...."
              ---Nikki Giovanni

"Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads."  
                   ---Marrianne Moore

Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey

....I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded over the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led: more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved.  For nature....then
was to me all in all \....    --I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colors and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, nor any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.
--That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur, other gifts
Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompence.  For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of you all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear, - both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the senses
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.  
               -----William Wordsworth      


On Humility
"It is a good lesson
--though it may often be a hard one--for a man who has dreamed of literary fame, and of making for himself a rank among the world's dignitaries by such means, to step aside out of the narrow circle in which his claims are recognized, and to find out how utterly devoid of significance, beyond that circle, is all that he achieves, and all he aims at."  (...ditto for doctors.)
                                                          --N.  Hawthorne 1804-1864   

"How To Be Happy Though Married"  --Title of Book
                                                                           --by The Rev. E.J. Hardy     


Short Takes

"God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars."   
                                                                                        -- Martin Luther


I am so amazed to find myself kissing you
with such abandon,
filling myself with our kisses
astounding hunger for edges of lips and tongue.
Returning to feast again and again,
our bellies never overfilling from this banquet.
Returning in surprise,
in remembering,
in rediscovering,
such play of flavors of gliding lips
and forests of pressures and spaces.
The spaces between the branches
as delicious as finding the grove of lilies of the valley
blossoming just outside my door under the ancient oak.
"I've never held anyone this long," you said,
the second time you entered my kitchen.
I am the feast this kitchen was blessed to prepare
waiting for you to enter open mouthed in awe
in the mystery we've been given,
our holy feast.

Elizabeth W. Garber, from Pierced by the Seasons --




Arthur Krystal - Who Speaks For The Lazy (Abstract)





               Thomas Hardy:    Snow in the Suburbs

Good-bye 2004!!