Thursday, September 21, 2017

Merry news of freedom

   The Republicsn discovery of al-
   chemy continues apace, in the
   Senate, with the equation of
   stripping the rich of Federal
   taxes with an empowerment of 
   the States to protect the hu-
   man right of health care. All
   that was ever needed, they
   have found, to free the work-
   ing family from exploitation,
   was a substitution of finger-
   prints upon the goring blade,
   or slipping it in, submerged.

   How witty. Who knew such de-
   sense of freedom ever before? 

Franz Kline

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Signifying nothing

In the matter of Presidential ad-
dresses, I always think - don't
you? - of Sam Waterston as Lin-
coln at Gettysburg for Ken Burns,
or of Franklin Roosevelt, ring-
ing havoc of reprisal to infamy,
itself. For remarks to the United
Nations, on the other hand, pos-
sibly one betrays a certain age
to recall the clipped Princeton-
ian dismissal of Soviet lies by
Governor Stevenson in the Secur-
ity Council, on their infusion of 
missiles of vulgar blackmail, off
the virginal beaches of our land.

Today, however, we enjoyed a treat
from our Entertainer-in-Chief, ad-
vertised no more than a day before
as not so much the voice of a na-
tional policy, but the embodiment
of a national defect, in remarks
which clove the Gordian atom with
his characteristic splitting of
infinitives. As Henry Higgins is
heard to remark to Pickering, in
the Lerner and Loewe version of 
Pygmalion, "[Diplomats] don't 
care what you do, actually, so 
long as you pronounce it prop-
erly." This, too, was too much
for our carnival barker of seg-
regated housing. Let him adore 
his sound, let him taste of its  
tar in the mazes of his destiny.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I shot these birds for Pinot Noir

I have committed my life to the
worship of a divine wine grape
which has made Oregon premature-
ly famous, and will foreseeably
forsake Burgundy for Sussex, in
view of climate change. My reli-
gious absorption in Pinot Noir
knows no borders, but is not
without its share of righteous
scruples which I accept a duty
to espouse. One is, that people
who would equate it with Sy-
rah may not have game I shoot
for it. I will sell anything,
but I will not trade in my be-
liefs simply to trade in birds.

This enchanting catechism
carries us back to the days
when a Mississippi hardware
dealer could refuse to sell
a hammer to a nonwhite cus-
tomer. True, he didn't claim
to worship hammers, but he
did claim to worship whites.
ships heterosexuality, and
we are all wondering how to
tell him he may still have
a fine opinion of heterosex-
uality, without burdening
the Commerce Clause of the
Constitution with it. One
should have thought he might
not wish to, but who can be
sure of any religion, when
pressed into public nuisance.

People are threatening to 
take my faith in Pinot Noir
away from me, by demanding
one of my birds, brought low
by my own patience, skill,
wit, and investment in shot.
Need I say, I am American,
or this wouldn't come up.
I'd have the right to med-
ical help, and I'd get it.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cassini fell just now

                                         And I,
               who am but a slave to this world
               kept my head lowered as I threw a coin
               into the tambourine.

Angelos Sikelianos
1884 - 1951
Selected Poems
  The Sacred Way
  [The ancient road
  from Athens to Eleusis]
Edmund Keeley and
  Philip Sherrard
Princeton University Press, 1979©

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Origins of Wednesday lvii: Russet theory

 If nature will not tell the tale 
 Jehovah told to her 
 Can human nature not survive 
 Without a listener?

Emily Dickinson
No. 1748

Cf., Anne Carson
  of Red
  A Novel in Verse
Random House, 1998©

Eric Weiss

Monday, September 11, 2017

Fancy meeting you here

    Thank you for saying that.
    May I sit down?

          The fluted shaft on which she had taken her seat
          would have afforded a resting place to several
          persons, and there was plenty of room even for a
          highly-developed Englishman. This fine specimen
          of that great class seated himself near our young
          lady, and in the course of five minutes he had
          asked her several questions, taken rather at ran-
          dom and to which, as he put some of them twice o-
          ver, he apparently somewhat missed catching the
          answer; had given her too some information about
          himself which was not wasted upon her calmer fem-
          inine sense. He repeated more than once that he           
          had not expected to meet her, and it was evident
          that the encounter touched him in a way that would
          have made preparation advisable. He began abruptly
          to pass from the impunity of things to their sol-
          enmity, and from their being delightful to their
          being impossible. He was splendidly sunburnt; ..
          he was dressed in the loose-fitting, heterogeneous
          garments in which the English traveller in foreign
          lands is wont to consult his comfort and affirm 
          his nationality; and with his pleasant steady eyes,
          his bronzed complexion, fresh beneath its season-
          ing, his manly figure, his minimising manner and
          his general air of being a gentleman and an ex-
          plorer, he was such a representative of the Brit-
          ish race as need not in any clime have been dis-
          avowed by those who have a kindness for it ..

I think the phrase we are
looking for, in returning
to the recalcitrant enter-
tainer we think of by the
name, Henry James, is "re-
sort wear," an escapist
taste for psychological
reliability and tentative-
ness of characterization,
such as are submerged by
the present déluge. How
exotic, the acute and the
careful have come to seem,
while to James they were
just comfortable kit for
a sensible navigation.

Henry James
The Portrait of a Lady

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Designations to dissolve

Every time I read Shel-
ley, I find myself ask-
ing why we call his an
English language voice.

                  And the dim low line before
                  Of a dark and distant shore
                  Still recedes, as ever still
                  Longing with divided will,
                  But no power to seek or shun,
                  He is ever drifted on ..

                  What, if there no friends will greet;
                  What, if there no heart will meet
                  His with love's impatient beat;
                  Wander wheresoe'er he may,
                  Can he dream before that day
                  To find refuge from distress
                  In friendship's smile, in love's caress?

                  Then 'twill wreak him little woe
                  Whether such there be or no:
                  Senseless is the breast, and cold,
                  Which relenting love would fold;
                  Bloodless are the veins and chill
                  Which the pulse of pain did fill;
                  Every little living nerve
                  That from bitter words did swerve
                  Round the tortured lips and brow,
                  Are like sapless leaflets now


Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, September 8, 2017

Another term

                 . . . like a flag
meant for a ceremony where the part
we're meant to play is a mystery,
and everything is about to start.

Nathaniel Perry
  Seeds and Seeding
Copper Canyon Press, 2011©