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Wednesday 30 November 2011

George Seferis: Red Pigeon


Feral Pigeon (Columba livia domestica) in flight: photo by Alan D. Wilson, 2006

Three red pigeons in the light
inscribing our fate in the light
with colours and gestures of people
we once loved.

Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon), Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach, California

Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon), Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach, California
: photo by Alan D. Wilson, 2006

Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon), Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach, California

Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon), Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach, California: photo by Alan D. Wilson, 2006

Red Pigeon (Columba livia domestica), Fife, Scotland: photo by Steph Cowie, 16 October 2010

George Seferis: Mythistorema 14, 1935, translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

Tuesday 29 November 2011



Bekehrung (Conversion)
: Egon Schiele, 1912

In a true

light, all


perfect. Beyond that



to the garden, what

lies, what


could one ask?

Desktop in the prisoner of war camp in Mühling
: Egon Schiele, 1916

Daisy, convolvulus and poppy
: Egon Schiele, 1918

Gefangener (Prisoner)
: Egon Schiele, 24 April 1912 (Albertina, Vienna)

Tür in das Offene (Door to Freedom): Egon Schiele, 21 April 1912 (Albertina. Vienna)

File:Egon Schiele - Die eine Orange war das einzige Licht19-4-1912.jpeg

Die eine Orange war das einzige Licht (The single orange was the only light): Egon Schiele, 19 April 1912 (Albertina, Vienna)

Monday 28 November 2011

Blue Dress


Standing girl with blue dress and green stockings: Egon Schiele, Vienna, 1913

I close my eyes

and see you at the age of thirty

beyond the mist of affect

in your blue dress

so slim and Viennese

in the Sharons’ picture gallery

at Tissa’s party

a stormy night in 1974

the ocean roaring

against the breakwater

I find you there with

all my projections

withdrawn at last

and what appears is

you in your blue dress

in this bewildering recurrent

intensified mind garden

I call creation

because you created it for me

Girl with blue pillow: Egon Schiele, 1913

Girl with blue pillow: Egon Schiele, Vienna, 1913

Standing female nude in a blue robe: Egon Schiele, Vienna, 1913

Houses on the Moldau, Krumau: Egon Schiele, 1910

Giuseppe Ungaretti: A Red Dress (12 September 1966)


Seated Woman: Egon Schiele, Vienna, 1913

You popped up at the gate
In a red dress
To tell me you're the flame
That consumes, yet ignites again.

A thorn from your carmine
Rose has pricked my finger
So that you may taste my blood, as though
It were already yours.

Loitering at the end of that street
That breaks open
The sky from within, I had already known
Long ago that, in suffering
With reckless faith for love,
Age counts as nothing.

That was on a Monday,
To hold hands
And talk pleasantly
We could find refuge only
In a sad garden
Of the convulsive city.

Nude with orange-red cloth: Egon Schiele, c. 1913

12 Settembre 1966

Sei comparsa al portone
in un vestito rosso
per dirmi che sei fuoco
che consuma e riaccende.

Una spina mi ha punto
delle tue rose rosse
perché succhiasse al dito,
come già tuo, il mio sangue.

Percorremmo la strada
che lacera il rigoglio
della selvaggia altura,
ma già da molto tempo
sapevo che soffrendo con temeraria fede,
l’età per vincere non conta.

Era di lunedì,
per stringerci le mani
e parlare felici
non si trovò rifugio
che in un giardino triste
della città convulsa.

Standing Woman in Red: Egon Schiele, 1913

The Green Stocking
: Egon Schiele, 1914

Wally with a Red Blouse: Egon Schiele, c. 1913

Giuseppe Ungaretti: 12 Settembre 1966 (12 September 1966) from Dialogo (Dialogue), 1968: translated by TC

Sunday 27 November 2011

Out of Christendom (Blue house, Morocco)


House in the medina of Chefchaouen, Morocco
: photo by Okrasitna, August 2007

Things learned from travels
southward across the mountains
and the deserts
into those mysterious lands
you'd have thought
were you a thinker
would never be forgot --

but, as with the years
memory unravels,
the old fool
who imagines
he remembers
a blue house
only proves random

sequencing's the last memory
function to go. Finally
you know
only the things you didn't think
you knew, and would
as soon
forget those things also as not.


Legzira Beach near Sidi Ifni, Morocco: photo by Ifni95, 2 June 2009

Saturday 26 November 2011

A Wild Poppy


Papaver (Wild Poppy), Zürich-Affoltern, Switzerland: photo by Roland zh, 12 June 2011

The hand a halo
does not touch it
it wavers

A wild poppy
in the wind

Dust blows in the sun
the wind
stops blowing

We stand by the road
a leaf blows
against a stone

A poppy
the curious
pelted foldedness

Of a poppy
in the wind
its livery

like a candy paper
caught in flame

For a moment
the wind stops

Papaver (Wild Poppy), Zürich-Affoltern, Switzerland: photo by Roland zh, 12 June 2011

Wild Poppies, Estonia
: photo by Geonarva, 23 June 2008

Wild Poppies in wheat field
: photo by Biso, 3 September 2006

Boroujerd, Lorestan Province, Iran, spring
: photo by Arman7, 3 March 2010

Poppies in Valdemoro, Community of Madrid, Spain: photo by Manuel M. Vicente, 24 May 2008

Rain clouds over a camomile field with poppy in front of the Veste Otzberg: photo by Reiner Müller, 30 June 2007; edit by Digon 4 July 2007

Friday 25 November 2011

In a Zen Manner: Bill Deemer


Tōto asakusa honganji [Hongan-ji Temple at Asakusa in the Eastern Capital: print shows the peak of the roof of the Hongan-ji Temple at Asakusa with a kite flying through the clouds and a view of Mount Fuji in the distance]
: Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849), between 1890 and 1940: from the series: Fugaku sanjūrokkei: 36 views of Mount Fuji (Japanese prints and drawings, Library of Congress)

No more apologies for existing.
No more demands to change your behavior.
I’m incorrigible, you’re a hopeless case.
The sun shines on both of us anyway.


No one sick with loathing towards me.
No one miserably in love with me.
Friendly towards all, friends with none.
Head in the clouds, feet on the ground.

Yui no zu [
View of Yui:
print shows a man carrying a large box on his back on a cloud in a mountainous area, looking back at travelers standing on a cliff above the sea with sailboats and Mount Fuji in the background]: Tyokuni Utagawa (1786-1865), between 1837 and 1844, from the series: Tōkaidō gojū santsugi no uchi: 53 stations of the Tōkaidō Road (Donald D. Walker collection /Japanese prints and drawings, Library of Congress)

Chiryū [a view through clouds above rooftops, of a shrine and mountains]
: Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849), 1804, from the series: Tōkaidō Road (Japanese prints and drawings, Library of Congress)

In a Zen Manner: Bill Deemer, from Variations (Round Bend Press), 2011

Thursday 24 November 2011

The Unclouded Day


Dadaab mass grave. Children have walked for weeks across the desert to get to Dadaab, and many perish on the way. Others have died shortly after arrival. On the edge of the camp, a young girl stands amid the freshly made graves of 70 children, many of whom died of malnutrition: photo by Andy Hall/Oxfam, 25 July 2011 (Oxfam East Africa)

O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,
O they tell me of a home far away;
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.

Sunlight shining through sequoias, Muir Woods: photo by Richs5812, 5 January 2007

O the land of cloudless day,
O the land of an unclouded day,
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.

Hot spring, Leirhnjúkur, Iceland
: photo by Andreas Tile, 1996

O they tell me of a home where my friends have gone,
O they tell me of that land far away,
Where the tree of life in eternal bloom
Sheds its fragrance through the unclouded day.

Tomb of Thutmosis III. Scene: The King is fed from the Holy Tree (Lady of the Sycamore): Theban, c. 1500-1450 BCE

O they tell me of a King in His beauty there,
And they tell me that mine eyes shall behold
Where He sits on the throne that is whiter than snow,
In the city that is made of gold.

Genie with a poppy flower: relief from the Palace of King Sargon II at Dur Sharrukin in Assyria (now Khorsabad in Iraq), 716-713 BC; discovered in excavations of Paul-Emile Botta, 1843-1844: photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen, 2006 (Department of Oriental Antiquities, Musée du Louvre, Paris)

O they tell me that He smiles on His children there,
And His smile drives their sorrows all away;
And they tell me that no tears ever come again
In that lovely land of unclouded day.

Rainclouds gathering over Bareina, desert village in southern Mauretania, West Africa: photo by Ferdinand Reus, 2006

The Unclouded Day: Josiah K. Alwood, c. 1880

Jack Delano: A Rogerine Quaker Thanksgiving


Various members of the the Crouch family come together for Thanksgiving Day dinner. Ledyard, Connecticut
: photo by Jack Delano, November 1940

At the Crouch family Thanksgiving Day. Waiting for dinner. Ledyard, Connecticut
: photo by Jack Delano, November 1940

One of the children of the Crouch family looking to see is the "pudd'n" for the Thanksgiving Day dinner is ready. Ledyard, Connecticut
: photo by Jack Delano, November 1940

Pumpkin pies and Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Mr. Timothy Levy Crouch, a Rogerine Quaker living in Ledyard, Connecticut
: photo by Jack Delano, November 1940

At the Crouch family Thanksgiving Day dinner. Pumpkin pies. Ledyard, Connecticut
: photo by Jack Delano, November 1940

Children's table at the Crouch family Thanksgiving Day dinner. Ledyard, Connecticut
: photo by Jack Delano, November 1940

At the Crouch family Thanksgiving Day dinner. Ledyard, Connecticut:
photo by Jack Delano, November 1940

The family of Mr. Timothy Levy Crouch, a Rogerine Quaker, at their annual Thanksgiving Day dinner. A twenty-pound turkey was dispensed with in short order. Ledyard, Connecticut
photo by Jack Delano, November 1940

Mr. Timothy Levy Crouch, a Rogerine Quaker, living in Ledyard, Connecticut, finishing up his Thanksgiving dinner. Mr. Crouch is a stonemason by profession and lives on his farm where a little farming is done. Ledyard, Connecticut: photo by Jack Delano, November 1940

Photos from Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Mouse Ears Redux (An Election Year Conversation Poem)


Miss America Pageant contestant Yolanda Betbeze: photo by Dick De Marsico, New York World Telegram and Sun, 1950 (Library of Congress)

"I'd be burned out too. Disneyland
Is awesome but it's tiring." I guess I'd hoped
Despite myself the Cal student slouching
Down Shattuck gassing on cell with his
Girlfriend (?) would be addressing the world
Going on, which they'll have to live in
After Tuesday. But maybe they're Young
Republicans; I never have a clue
Any more. I was down with the New
Frontier. Senior year wore my hair
Like Kennedy's. Had never imitated
Ike's hairdo, skinheads weren't in, then.
Crusade in Europe however made
My Top 5 Books Read in the Forties
List, tied for fifth with Blood, Sweat and Tears.
One through four: Navy Blue and Gold, Seventeenth
Summer, The Kid from Left Field, The Seven
Wonders of the World.
Too, I dug Ghost Riders
In the Sky,
which to my priest-trained ears rang
With vivid personal Apocalypse
Associations. At that time the Four
Horsemen of Notre Dame were still famous

File:Four Horsemen Notre Dame.jpg

The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame: Jim Crowley, Elmer Layden, Don Miller and Harry Stuhldreher: photographer unknown, c. 1924; image by Jweiss, 11 December 2010

In my Chicago Irish neighborhood and
In my mind; I could tell you their names today
And would, were there not a world going on.
Indeed I had an envied grade school chum,
Ed Collins, whose dad had been one of
The Seven Mules; that, to me, was buzzworthy.
Have you ever seen that film, The Rapture? She goes
Out in the wilderness to receive the light.
But it doesn't come. Just cops. Later arrive
The Apocalypse horses, however, and
Bust down the jailhouse walls. You'll recall
Joshua's chart-topping ditty at
Jericho -- down tumble the bricks. We've fit
This battle before, to what end? But then, it's
All good, you feel me?
End times can resemble
Starts (We've only just begun, as Karen C.,
Starving to death amid the fat of the land,
Once warbled in that bank commercial)

File:Karen Carpenter.jpg

Karen Carpenter: photographer unknown, early 1970s: image by TheCuriousGnome, 27 January 2010

To fools like us. It's like in The Master
And Margarita, in the Russian TV
Movie version, where Pontius Pilate
And Jesus walk off into the stars: He walks
With me, He talks with me, He calls me his own
As the long day closes. Now it's deep night, rain,
I'm scribbling this with a borrowed pen, huddling
Beneath an arcade for shelter
In a public place, as occasional grey
Incurious strangers -- lost souls like me? --
Drift past. One nation, indivisible
Or was it invisible? mere hours before
The polls open. Annette Funicello
I liked in seventh grade, but mouse ears
I never wore, O Friend! My top three
Songs of the pre-Korean War epoch
Were Rum and Coca-Cola, Perfidia,
Hernando's Hideaway;
Mention goes to that one about standing
On a corner by a pawnshop in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, watching all the girls
Go by. So, Where were the girls? They were going
By that corner. I remember that song
Swamping my pre-adolescent psyche
Through an entire Cub Scout den meeting
At Billy Beaver's house. Billy had a weight
Problem; was good at tying knots, but on
Our frontiering expedition to the wild
Scrub margins of the West Side -- this before
The suburbs extended all the way west
To Iowa--managed to fall off a branch-bridge
Over the world's puniest creek. Wet buns
For Billy's campfire hot dogs, that sad day.

Young Romance, July 1954 (cover): image by Chordboard, 4 July 2008

And where were the girls then, were they camping
Happily by their own fireside along
The Allegheny, the Monongahela
Or the Ohio, laughing at us? Before
Men are evil, one fears, boys are silly.
Is That All There Is? Peggy Lee sounded
Justifiably disappointed. Fever
Kindled in me such heats that, after hearing
It in the back of a convertible en
Route to a softball game in La Grange, or some
Such western outpost, my suppressed and
Unacknowledged passion for unsuspecting
Fourteen-year-old Jan D. so distracted
Me that, playing first base, I lost a popup
In the lights, dropped it, and still wince almost
As painfully at the memory as when
The event happened. But where was I?
Somewhere around 1954? From the subsequent
Early-adolescent period, Ebb
Tide, Stranger in Paradise, Volare
Probably topped my private charts. This was
Mid-America, remember; little
Freedom to choose, definitely no
Alan Freed to guide one. But to get back to your
Question, burning like a plutonium
Ingot in the pants of an action hero,
Where were the girls? Dipping Volare
In my cut-price Proustian teacup, I get
Faint echoes of that then popular tune

Wrigley Field, Chicago: photo by Carol M. Highsmith, n.d. (Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress)

Being played by the Chicago Cubs'
Ballpark organist. I had an ushering job
As well as a crush on a girl from Wheaton
I'd met there at Wrigley, dusting off her box
Seat before a game. She spilled popcorn
On the lap of her madras bermudas;
Trained by the book to be heroic
In my blue-and-gold uniform, I stepped
Into the breach and offered to help her
Clean things up down there. Immense surprise!
She declined, and not even all that
Gratefully. Girls see things another way,
There was no choice but to then conclude.
I rued my foolish move all the way home
On the Chicago & Northwestern. What did
I know of girls' tragic magic, then?
Or of my own motives, for that matter? Then
There came a quickening of the tempo:
Sh'Boom, Shake, Rattle & Roll. Something like
Apprehension began to dawn: Earth Angel,
Heard on a transistor in the basketball
Team bus, signalled an upheaval of sorts. Next
Occurred The Awakening: Cathy's
Clown -- where were the girls
I imagined
Clustering around Don and Phil? Gone,
If one was to believe the song. And then in time,
Peggy Sue -- I loved that stutter of Buddy's,


Buddy Holly on The Ed Sullivan Show, New York, 26 January 1958: photo via Michael Ochs Archives/Corbis; image by Carl Savich, 13 September 2011

Signature, as I thought, of an existential
Urgency I understood; few songs could have
Gladdened me more than it did when, wind blowing
In our hair through the windows of my Olds,
I drove the girls to beaches by the Great
Lakes of my first real adventures
In biology with the opposite sex.
And in the dark western woods beyond
The city lights, there was that parking spot
Called Tail Light, because cops, stopping in on
Their rounds to peep into steamed-up car
Windows o'winter nights, never interfered
As long as you kept your tail-lights on. Red
Evidence of a rich interior life
Wasted on impressionable children
Of the benighted prairie, as seen from
The eyes of voyeurs with badges. O Friend!
Did you ever hear Zappa's song Catholic
The phenomena Frank attested
Were less local-regional than ethnic-
Cultural, one suspects, as prevalent
In Chicago as in New York or Rome.
Catholic girls were like Disneyland,
Awesome. Had I had strength to brave that
Daunting conflagration -- think, if you will, O
Friend, of the lava storms of Mt. St. Helens;
Or better still, of Vesuvius, youthful me
Stranded in Pompeii, my toga wrapped
Ineffectually about my feeble
Loins to protect me from the fires
To come -- I'd be burned out too, by now.
But though that boiling crater's long since
Banked its flames and cooled for good, still it's true:
There's a world going on, and I'm stuck in it;
The girls are old too; now we're all in it --
Whatever it is, this weird world -- together.

First Mickey Mouse character balloon to appear in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday 29 November 1934, Broadway and 110th Street, New York: image via William J. Crawford, 2009

Mouse Ears Redux (An Election Year Conversation Poem), revised from Lines Not Written Wearing Mouse Ears, 3 November 2008, in TC: The New World, 2009