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Sunday 6 December 2009

Arctic Cold Snap

File:Frost on Mahonia Aquifolium.jpg

The cherry ball on the mercury stick drops off at three zero

Off to the left the iridescent glow of the sea glances

Gold and hard in the thin indifferent sun

Ah and all the green and growing things wonder what hit them

Nasturtium hibiscus and clover shriveling

Noiseless as fear in a wide wilderness

This silent blast from the polar freezer fuses

Leaf arteries into obelisks of bright glass

File:Rose - frost.jpg

Frost on leaves of Mahonia aquifolium: photo by Paul Smith, 2008
Rose covered with frost: photo by Philipp Mayer, 2006


Anonymous said...

break the ice
on the surface of the water trough.
the goat
is thirsty this morning
and the horses in the barn
don't want to share.

TC said...

under the cloudy surface
unrecognizable faces floating

no second lives

Anonymous said...

Nature is the great architect and you are the artist that puts Nature's wonders into words.

Anonymous said...

the snow pea weather
snaps my amygdala
across time

i am wide eyed

staring up through ice
at grey beard me

xileinparadise said...

Tom -- ah, yes, "the thin indifferent sun." You were obviously anticipating this morning. 20 along the the lower Russian. A frost caked landscape. Beauty, but cold. Doing the California rotation in front of the heater. "Clear dawn frost rolled up with the bamboo blinds," as the old Chinese poet said.

TC said...

Zevstar: "snow pea weather": Maybe I was wrong: every second lives.

Lucy, we honour the great architect by living in the house she has built. At least I hope we do. Even when we are shivering. B-r-r-r...

Down to the upper Twenties here @ 3 a.m., Pat. I felt it coming.

Our furnace no longer functional, unless toxic emission be considered a function, and the last time we attempted to employ our eighty year old fireplace, some years back, an adjoining bookshelf backsmoked out of Baudelaire's poems... amusing enough until we realized the wall was on fire.

Maybe you will recall the similar period in early December, 1990. The first Iraq War was about to begin. I was up in Kensington interviewing Dan Ellsberg. Wound up down on my knees with a wrench, trying to do something about the Ellsbergs' frozen and burst pipes. No doubt the worst plumber on earth. You may remember the hard freeze that time lasted a week, the war, when it came, only a bit longer.

(Did somebody say Afghanistan?)

TC said...


An afterthought.

The more I stare into these wonderful lines

under the cloudy surface
unrecognizable faces floating

no second lives

the snow pea weather
snaps my amygdala
across time

i am wide eyed

staring up through ice
at grey beard me

the more strongly grows my visualization of the scenes from Bells from the Deep.

I can never quite sort out the poetry from the fraudulence in Herzog, so I suppose I should not have been disappointed to learn that his shots of pilgrims are really shots not of religious fanatics but of people ice fishing... and also of a few hired "actors".

"I wanted to get shots of pilgrims crawling around on the ice trying to catch a glimpse of the lost city, but as there were no pilgrims around I hired two drunks from the next town and put them on the ice. One of them has his face right on the ice and looks like he is in very deep meditation. The accountant’s truth: he was completely drunk and fell asleep, and we had to wake him at the end of the take."

He has said "I think the scene explains the fate and soul of Russia," but I think it may more truthfully be said it explains the heart and soul of a movie director.

Anonymous said...

sliding on ice is such a dickensian image. and fun to do. crawling on ice...not so much.

i have to say that i dont know that much about Herzog. i’ve seen several of his films but cant judge fraud v. poetry. i spent a weekend workshopping and interviewing ed sanders and ted berrigan once and i remember what berrigan said about his own work. ” I am that kind of poet who uses tricks. ” i ask does a piece move me and if the poet/artist is dishonest who is he hurting but her self? if it hurts others then it probably isnt going to move me. truth = beauty, i still hope. here i am the fool again, stepping off the cliff

i am putting a link to your site on mine as well. thanks for the deelitefool energy of recent posts

TC said...


Well, one would always hope it is a case of trick AND treat rather than one or the other. Any trickster would probably tell you honesty is the best policy. Perhaps the greatest trick of all.

Ted was forever busy telling people what he was up to in his poems. A good way to throw readers off the trace, cover your tricks and keep your secrets safe. Actually I always thought his most telling trick was his sentimentality. Who would ever see that as a trick?

Would probably take a fool to recognize it... And as we know, fools do rush in... or off the cliff... perhaps merely another trick, that, guaranteed to win an audience over?

(Always best to make sure it's a low cliff however.)

xileinparadise said...

Tom – strange but then perhaps not so strange (we are poets after all). Had go to back and look at my notebooks for that time. Might have had a little dusting of snow down here close to sea level. But strangest of all is our telepathic communion. While you were grunting with a pipe wrench at Danny boy’s, the muse was inflicting me with this:


In which a moderately
middle age man encounters
(once again) the horror
of water’s insidious nature
pipes valves nipples male
and female ends echo
the greater psychological
conflicts of his existence
a metaphor for impermanence
(his own in particular)
each drip of the faucet
magnifies his inadequacy
a Chinese water torture
to render his nerves raw

Also from around that time:


It snowed Saturday (at sea level)
every one was in shock all day
nothing got done

Sunday was a long cold day
books and reading in order

windshield webbed in frost
something new added to the familiar
Monday morning ritual

what happened Tuesday
a little of everything

and finally today
bone gray bare limbs vibrate
with the beginning shower

tomorrow's appointment of
purely routine details

TC said...


A growing sense of that communion at this end, too.

Beautiful poems, bringing back the feeling of the time.

Poets are here to preserve the colors of the weather...

Oft have I wished to trade my poetic license for a plumber's.