Saturday, April 30, 2016

Coming in

   Rain came. Fog out of the slough and horses
   asleep in the barn. In the field, sparrow hawks
   glittered through the morning clouds.

   No dreamers knew the rain. Wind ruffled quills
   in the mongrel's nose. He sighed cautiously,
   kicked further beneath the weathered shed and slept.


  Belonging, welcome,
  loveswept verses by
  the native at home.

  They step into the
  room again, absent
  breath, returning.


James Welch
1940 - 2003
Riding the Earthboy 40
  Day after chasing porcupines
  Tony Stromberg 
  Jennifer Neupauer 
    cover design
Penguin Poets, 2004©

Zachary Ayotte

Friday, April 29, 2016

You say, you want a revolution

Do I accept John Clare's frequent
allusions to mental limitation as
really not a coyness seeking comp-
liments? I do. His finer days are
everyone's; so fine, Clare would
have been frustrated. Then a spir-
it bonds with his when he passes
the palette to the reader, whom 
he reinforces in his earnestness,
to be empowered and released. He
was often thought to be reckless,
in this generosity. What name can
one give to that success in Clare,
which expects one to succeed it -
to pass, in effect, through it?

     The rich brown-umber hue the oaks unfold
     When spring's young sunshine bathes their trunks in gold,
     So rich, so beautiful, so past the power
     Of words to paint - my heart aches for the dower
     The pencil gives to soften and infuse
     This brown luxuriance of unfolding hues,
     This living luscious tinting woodlands give
     Into a landscape that might breathe and live,
     And this old gate that claps against the tree
     The entrance of spring's paradise should be -
     Yet paint itself with living nature fails:
     The sunshine threading through these broken rails
     In mellow shades no pencil e'er conveys,
     And mind alone feels fancies and portrays.

John Clare
"I am"
  The Selected Poetry of
  John Clare
  Wood Pictures in Spring
Jonathan Bate
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005©

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Holed up at the Ochre & Brown for Ted & Carly

The news came over the wire at the American Express office in Hydra and we dashed back to town to the Ochre and Brown to assim-ilate it all. The concièrge explained, She's the obvious choice - not only the one running mate who is equally marginal and rejected, she is the one who brings the scar of Trump's victimisation to the table, as a badge of feminism. She is also the only candidate who reviles Planned Parenthood even more than our Ted (having invented the whole foetus-sale big lie), health insurance even more shrilly, and equality every bit as frantically as our Ted. 

She, in a word, fits. Can you not hear their parts harmonised in right-wing synchromesh, even as they rocket round the Circus of their bitter Coliseum: every gear change up an exultation of neurotic transcendence; every one down, a groaning, simpering begging for divine intervention?

Time to recalibrate our dread of Clytemnestra, then, would you say? Time for a flight into the duvet and a toke of some recyc-led air? But our true Clytie (Britten's dachsie, we recall) lent her name to a far grander purpose than parsing the cinders of our Parties. This is just a very pretty example, if the loveliest so far, of a season summoning many winding sheets. 

Luke Powell
Boglioli S/S 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Origins of Wednesday xxvi: A new word

  A friend wrote in the other day,
  engaging me on a proposition of
  Wittgenstein. This is virtually
  the universal daydream of every
  sensible person, and represents
  moral struggle, even to confide.

People go through their whole life, refraining from remarking on such fulfillment, for fear of complicating a fragility and purity of experience with exposure exciting its discoloration, including that of envy. This I now partially risk, without divulging the substance of the proposition, by observing an effect such a transfer can have. 

In this I discover origination, as if working backward through a painting's progress under the same mentality; and I discover vindication of another proposition of Wittgenstein, simply by following its breadcrumbs. The proposition is so explosive, it was only polite finally to present it in sumptuous, stylish paint, even at obvious risk of its whole character; and yet, this benevolence, this gift only gave it permanence. 

A new word is like a fresh seed sewn 
on the ground of the discussion.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Peter Winch
University of Chicago Press, 1980©

Antoine Watteau
Oil on canvas
Collection Metropolitan
  Musem of Art

Study of the head
  of a man
Red and black chalk
1718 - 1719
Collection Metropolitan
  Museum of Art

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sacred hour sentry

     Every now and again, but 
     pretty commonly on elec-
     tion nights, thought en-
     gages the nuanced rhet-
     oric of our noblest and
     greatest, on the gravi-
     tas available to any
     of their campaigns, in
     a little militancy. To-
     night we recall the ur-
     gent need to advance a
     candidate of historic
     qualifications, fond of
     war, fond of almost any-
     thing we can contribute.

     The PAC, the Foundation,
     the scratch-my-back re-
     ciprocation, really any 
     abomination, refusing no
     Little sealed packets, 

     honoraria in, honor out.

My kingdom for a humanist

Anyone who might see our letters,
honorable compare, and see their
variety, would be greatly astonish-
ed, because at first it would seem
we were serious men, completely di-
rected toward weighty matters and
no thought could cascade through
our heads that did not have probity
and magnitude.

But later, upon turning the
page, it would seem to the
reader that we - still the
very same selves - were 
petty, fickle, lascivious, 
and directed toward chimer-
ical matters. If to some
this behavior seems contemp-
tible, to me it seems laud-
able because we are imitat-
ing nature, which is change-
able; whoever imitates na-
ture cannot be censured ..

whoever seeks to act accord-
ing to others will accomplish
nothing, because no two men
who think alike can be found.

I don't like to forget the subtlest
mind on the passions, as well as on
politics at the sublimest apogee of
power's reach, in a time when I'm
lectured every day by social scien-
tists on the limits of their vision.
I especially don't like their prov-
ing Machiavelli wrong, about think-
ing alike, which must be counted as
the most grievous symptom of our es-
trangement from wisdom, first of all.

Possibly the second symptom is very
like it: the broad demand to do so,
to think alike with political lead-
ers whose changeability is only na-
tural, only certain, only false to

The question before one is whether
to go along, again, with travesty,
not of one's own nature, but nature
as it has thrived in other settings.
There's a quadrennial lurching in
this travesty which identifies it
as the staggerings of addiction to
the trendiest, in thinking alike,
as much as the pitchings of a bi-
nomially conditioned people.

If one is to endure a campaign of
daily admonition, to make decora-
tive progress now and then, within
a depleted and debauched political
pasture, would it not occur to one
to accept that pace, for better?

This is Conservatism's argument,
and if it had a humanist, there
would be a renaissance. You can't
get out of Wellesley without be-
can get Wellesley out of you.

Niccolò Machiavelli
  To Francesco Vettori
  January 31, 1515

Maurizio Viroli
Niccolò's Smile
  A biography of
Antony Shugaar
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000©

Pentti Sammallahti
Przeworsk, Poland
Gelatin silver print

Monday, April 25, 2016

With Gérard, always we accept a little drama

You'd hear no dissent from the proposition that it was great to see him back from his Winter in Monte-cito. Nor did anyone demur from his proposal, in the small at-home he gave him-self, of a round of char-ades in the bedroom. Who would not extend permis-sion, to a genial dare commanding our assent? But who'd sensibly infer, from his sunburn's whirling, turning parts, an embod-iment unfurling the Swiss Army knife's array of use-ful darts? 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Throwings of the kitchen sink i

       The new unfairness:
       having to own up in
       public to what I've
       vowed for hire, un-
       like all the others
       who're just like me.

       Ah, I see. So would
       it be a profession,
       or where it is con-
       ducted, which draws
       the kitchen sink by
       simply being yours?

       We're in the polish-
       ing, burnishing, re-
       furbishing, and anx-
       iously retrofitting
       phase of our public
       scruples, now, pre-
       paring for anything
       they can mold them-
       selves to stomach.

       If credulity were a
       deltoid we mightn't
       need our epaulettes.

Mark Rothko
acrylic on paper