Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Seasonal

.

http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsa/8a22000/8a22500/8a22559v.jpg

Unemployed workers in front of shack with Christmas tree, East 12th Street, New York, New York: photo by Russell Lee, January 1938 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)





Shoppers rush past frozen images unseen,
In bright synthetics Sierra skiers ski
Through snowdead woods on blurred storewindow TV.
In the forest it is cold. How can it be
Colder in the cities? Street people crouched
Under Amoeba’s protective arcade mouth
Such big round starving O’s: oxygen balloons
Lifting off to perfect freedom, no strings --
A pity they can’t float off in them.
Peace, brother. I can spare the buck or pass it.
Just breathing commits one to everything --
To life -- which can’t be purchased on this street
Where ravenous as sheer presence Christmas lights
Up human appetites for guilty pleasures.






File:Inmig.subsa.jpg

Mendicant begging outside supermarket entrance
: photo by Anna Kaiser, 6 September 2011



Amoeba Music storefront, Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley: photo by efo, 13 December 2008

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1972-062-01, Berlin, bettelnder Kriegsinvalide.jpg

One-legged war invalid begging, Berlin: photographer unknown, 1923 (Deutsches Bundesarchiv)

File:YongeStreetMission.jpg

Food line at the Yonge Street Mission, 381 Yonge Street, Toronto
: photographer unknown, 1930s (Yonge Street Mission)


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/Homeless_guy_on_Yonge_Street.jpg

Toronto street sleeper: photo by Andy Burgess, 20 December 2009

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6c/Riischildren.jpg

Children sleeping in Mulberry Street, New York City: photo by Jacob Riis (1849-1914), 1890; image by Dark Attsios, 18 December 2011

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/7a/Berkeleynight.jpg/1024px-Berkeleynight.jpg

University Avenue, Berkeley, at night: photo by Whyzee, February 2008


Very little town of Bethlehem (El Cerrito, California): photo by efo, 18 December 2011

12 comments:

Bowie Hagan said...

Tom,

Dig this poem. Glad to remember Edwin Denby in these lines.

Best,
Bowie

TC said...

That's beautiful, Bowie. A compliment.

Like remembering Leonardo in one's notebook doodles.

Lally said...

Great post Tom, as always. Thank you.

TC said...

Thanks for the good word, Michael.

(This must be the day of the Not Fighting Irish.)

Conrad DiDiodato said...

Tom,

thanks for putting it in perspective.

departuredelayed said...

Breathe in -- "Just breathing commits one to everything" -- Breathe out. & not just to life, I might be so bold to add, but all things not-yet or no-longer alive, & perhaps even still, those things that never will be but in misshaped memories. Esp. those.

manik sharma said...

Tom,
there is very little to pick from the street apart from ruins or these faces...these faces perhaps are the ruins...and they say home is where the heart is...its poor actually to not be able to put a thought into words...and poorer still to think as such...hope you have been good...winter is grinding
pebbles against the bones...and i still consider myself young....

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Thanks for this and yes, echoes of Denby (translated clear over to 21st-century-Berkeley, wow), although most of his Manhattan street scenes seem to be a bit later on in the season ("April, up on a twig a leaftuft stands") --

"In the forest it is cold. How an it be
Colder in the cities?" -- but warmer here now, sun's climbing higher (and will be heading back north now, not too soon), Peace on earth goodwill to men (and women too) . . .

12.22

light coming into sky above still black
plane of ridge, wind moving in branches
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

may move relative to system,
mass whose velocities

equal and opposite, so that
we see that, has only

first orange of sun rising above ridge,
shadowed green pine on tip of sandspit

ACravan said...

I love the way the lines here move and build. Touring Jane and a classmate through Manhattan midtown yesterday (my first time this Christmas season; Jane's friend needed to buy her mother a present) was weird. The contrast between the news and the overwhelming commercial activity made it hard to stay in focus, but easy to keep my thoughts to myself. I just couldn't figure out what was on people's minds, except to the extent that I saw very little evidence (I looked) of guilt in any pleasure. It was a great relief when Ting (Jane's friend) found a nice gift. The photos are all stirring, especially for me the final two. Curtis

aditya said...

Tom

A very fine poem.
The one legged beggar exceptionally well combed.

So in New Delhi, the govt. has stopped distributing blankets. They are giving out 'bubble wraps' instead of blankets. More of windcheaters than windsheeters.

On these streets where death grows diagonal to life what is and what is not.

No one's sorrow is the greatest.

No one's happiness is the greatest.

"We are all brothers."

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

"Just breathing commits one to everything" ...

A deep bow from out East, with a thought, like a prayer, for all.

Thanks, Tom.

TC said...

Thanks to all for great comments, not a word lost on these old thinking organs, stuff of rumination in the world night, and apologies for being slow in registering my gratitude. The season of good cheer has chilled a bit chez nous, a home invasion suffered in the family, among other things, having reminded us that as cold as it is may be in the forest, it is colder in the city -- dipped below freezing last night, hard frost upon the dead world right now.

But at least it's a relatively quiet a.m. commute on the mayhem drag out front.

Memorable words in particular: these:

putting it in perspective.

all things not-yet or no-longer alive, & perhaps even still, those things that never will be but in misshaped memories. Esp. those.

winter is grinding
pebbles against the bones.

Peace on earth goodwill to men (and women too)

"In the forest it is cold. How can it be
Colder in the cities?"

The contrast between the news and the overwhelming commercial activity

On these streets where death grows diagonal to life what is and what is not.

No one's sorrow is the greatest.

No one's happiness is the greatest.

A deep bow from out East, with a thought, like a prayer, for all.
"We are all brothers."