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Monday, 27 July 2009




To one about to leave it, how beautiful and large

And familiar -- as the old saying goes

Almost like home. And yet, the almost sticks

In one's throat, just as one was leaving,

Why was it never better or more? What was

The real thing one expected? Always somewhere

Else and never here? And where do those

Winding roads go, and what's around the next bend

And can this really be the end?

Never thought to skywalk, had doubts

That got in the way of transcending self

With its dumb momentary occupations,

Timidly and confusedly entered caves

To find the firelight on the wall dimly signifying,

Felt awkward with the ins and outs of thought,

Cheered inwardly oft for little reason,

Was shy of others, never to draw near

Yet longed for some company to be found

Down the line, can't recall now where, in the end

Hoped only one day to find feet planted firmly

On this ground, wanted only to be here.


Earth: photo by Lucy in the Sky, 2009


parallax said...

"...entered caves
To find the firelight on the wall..."

ah, BTP, Plato's cave is always the way to explain away what could have been. If only we'd known it was just a reflection. And well captured in your poem 'Here'... and see, now you post another picture of grafting patterns: inlets with a proscenium arch - your picture bugles theatre.

I'm reminded (of the shadows on a wall when a window tells perhaps little more)of Marjorie Barnard's 1943 short story 'The Persimmon Tree.' I'd reclassify MB's short story as an extended poem. If you can source it, read it and enjoy.

cheers, parallax

Anonymous said...

Tom, this poem is delicious. I loved the references to The Beatles songs, here, there and everywhere =D.

As for the photograph, it was taken on Easter Sunday. A friend of mine from high school came to visit, and as I always do when I have guests at home, I showed her around. We took the old gravel road to Bariloche, which is higher than the paved one we can see in this picture. At one of its bends, there is this magnificent view. And to crown this breathtaking scenery, my friend the sun gave us an extra gift that day by displaying its heavenly beams over the lake. One of my readers compared it to the fingers of God.

Thank you for showing my picture off. I am flattered.

TC said...


Your eye is as keen as ever. The cave and the theatre, yes.

Will indeed pursue The Persimmon Tree. I see that Marjorie Barnard was five years senior to Christina Stead, whose The Man Who Loved Children is a major favorite in our house. It is interesting to note both attended Sydney Girls High School and curiously consoling (as justice always is) to know that both made the cut for the honour roll of

Distinguished Old Girls


Parallax, by referring to the proscenium framing, reminds me why I wanted to to show the detailed enlargement of your photo with the upper left-hand corner tree-branch swath of that interesting fungus known as Old Man's Beard (or up north as Beard Lichen or Treemoss). Was tipped to look for this by your recent note: "The trees are full of a lichen known as barba de viejo (Old man's beard). It only develops in locations where there is a great deal of oxygen. Fresh air!I"

And what fresh air and amplitude of space is captured in your majestic photo, which brings to us in in the same instant both the exquisite detail and the magnificent scope of a day on earth.

The fingers of God have not yet scratched this patch of Old Man's Beard.

And that is perhaps good, for I now learn this about this most therapeutic of fungi (scientific name Usnea): it has life-saving potential. Native Americans employed it as a compress to severe battle wounds to prevent infection and gangrene, and it was also taken internally to fight infections. Usnea contains potent antibiotics which can halt infection and are broad spectrum and effective against all gram-positive and tuberculosis bacterial species.

Yet one more provocation to think of your part of the bottom of the world as--for me up here--a dream of the survival of paradise...

Mariana Soffer said...

The last photograph is amazing.
I liked the poem, but it is a little confusing to my not so poetic mind. What I can tell is that it is important to stand on firm ground, and maybe you can not find what you are looking for cause it exists only in your mind.
Hugs tc

Stu said...

I think I can relate to the doubts and uncertainties that arise in the second stanza. And the questions about home too...

There's an honesty in all of this that I admire.

How we want to be 'here'... And where are we so much of the time? Everywhere but here?

Being here as something to aspire to...

TC said...


The top photo is a blown-up detail of the photo below: zooming in, and then, below, zooming back out.

About the poem, it seems to say the ground exists, but perhaps my mind is nothing but smoke and mirrors, floating about, looking for the ground... before it's too late. By the ground I meant the earth. And here it is, right under us all the time.

Stu, you've got this one down exactly... thank gods. About the honesty, that took a nightlong bout of scraping and clawing in the pit, but at the end of it, it did appear to come out telling the truth... whatever that is, and for whatever it's worth. Didn't come easy at any rate.

(By the by, speaking of questions, I've been dropping a wee query about that neat minimal called "Minimal" over at Thoughs... suggesting it may be a loop.. but perhaps it's me that's on the loop? Or is earth a loop? Anyway, the poem has stuck in the craw-trap, thanks.)

Dale said...

Tom, great poem, and the photographs are amazing: like heaven.

TC said...


Thanks. Also on Lucy's behalf. (After all, it's her Patagonian Andes not mine.)

Marten said...


it is 106 degrees in Portland, I just read THE ROAD, wherein a Platonic cave dream mediates the narrative, found this "Here" while trying to beat the heat, and am reminded, via Lucy's comment about the Beatles, of the great Pavement song "Here", and that the last song they ever played was the same, Stephen Malkmus crooning into the mike, handcuffs attached to the mike stand.

human being said...

what a mood you have created HERE!

really impressive...

Stu said...

Ah, 'Here', the tenderest Pavement song? And it sits perfectly in the jaws of what is a very jagged album (one of my favourites)...

TC said...

Ryan, Stu,

What better idea:

Eighty-five seconds spent perfectly


I perhaps foolishly associate their lazy sounding songs like this one with their being from the Delta... Well the Sacramento River Delta (Stockton) that is... still relatively lazy compared to the urbs.

TC said...


Immensely cheering to hear on your blog yesterday that you have not (as it were) flown the coop. Let us hope you are again soon able to be with us... Here.

Zephirine said...

Beautiful poem. Splendid photos (and what a place!)

human being said...

seems i should fly nonstop
nowhere to rest
as hunters are everywhere
even HERE...

TC said...


I truly wish I could offer you and all of us a zone of protection, but here we are...

Stu said...

By the way, I find it very interesting that Stephen Malkmus (formerly of Pavement) cites John Ashbery as a stylistic influence. I'm sure that'd make an interesting PhD thesis for someone...

TC said...


Yes, I do recall that, but I did wonder whether it may not have been less a case of stylistic influence than of style move. However, in either case, how wonderful of him to say that. Le Grand Ashes on a houseboat in the Sacramento Delta... America, here we come! Trigger Cut! Summer Babe!

Through the mists of time comes the supplementary recollection that around the time of Slanted and Enchanted, Mark E. Smith of The Fall charged that Pavement's entire work was rip-off of his. And that one of the Pavement guys then countered, No, it was The Replacements we were copying. So possibly I took the Ashbery claim as another in a series of brilliant postmodern cover stories.