Saturday, February 11, 2017

Morning window study

                                      .. the odor
of mid-summer hanging in winter.

  On January 16, 1989, the poet
  Philip Levine published a long-
  er version of an extraordinary
  poem he called, Perennials,
  than a reduction he issued two
  years later, in his own collec-
  tion, What Work Is. Scholars
  must surely be driven batty,
  in their quarrel over which 
  is the greater, the more auth-
  entic, the ultimate statement.

  Which voyage of Ishmael's was
  his true return to the sea, we
  might as well ask. Every visit
  proves the mystery of this po-
  em; this morning, just a frag-
  ment brings me to its presence.

Philip Levine
What Work Is
op. cit.

Photo credits unknown

Friday, February 10, 2017

Suppose it were Friday cxxi: No time for sleeping in

  Of all the courtesies extended
  Thursday by the Ninth Circuit,
  bestowing the decision midweek
  has had the effect of soothing
  our defenses no more than they
  should be, given the interest-
  ing challenges confronting us.

  No doubt there'll be a
  haberdasher to defend,
  a spokesman to reprim-
  and, a global pallete,
  pleading for coherency
  in the swirling, moody
  dabblings of dementia,
  enabled adventitiously
  by predictable cowards
  in control of Congress.

  Their plan is right on
  track. He's their can-
  ary. They'll go as far
  as he can, to mine us.

United States Court of Appeals
  for the Ninth Circuit
  State of Washington; State of
  Minnesota v. Donald J. Trump,
  President, et al.
February 9, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What is this place?


          Johnny, it's America!


OK, so they do mean harm

    The Republican Senate just clawed 
    its way through the foulest slime
    of redneck bigotry to sell Justice
    for another orgy in our Treasury.
    And when they've ticked all their
    boxes of revenge against reality,
    they'll have only strengthened a
    force they cannot stop: what cor-
    ruption does to power, anywhere.

Fair warning

     America has a new Attorney
     General, the most infinite-
     ly inconceivable of all re-
     gressions. Now an occasion
     restores to us the gift we
     can not lose.

Carlo Scarpa
Querini Stampalia

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Origins of Wednesday xliv: Entitlement reform

“If the U.S. does not win 
this case as it so obvi-
ously should, we can never 
have the security and safe-
ty to which we are entitled. 

These, categorically, are not entitle-
ments, anywhere in the time or space 
ever known by persons or nations. 
They are fetishes of demagogic illu-
sion which crop up when "soccer moms" 
can be identified for supporting ag-
gressive war, and when civil liberty, 
social justice, and the advancement 
of learning can be used to explain 
the pain of the uncomfortable as not 
the fault of the comfortable. This 
monstrous invention of the second
Bush government - that human life 
"entitles" one to pass unharmed 
through its gentle pastures - is 
now recited as an Apostle's Creed 
of sacrosanct nonsense entitling 
every excess of the degenerate 
state it sustains. 

We greet the face of Entitlement Re-
form in the Yemeni child who finally
arrived in New York this week, from
purgatory in Djibouti. Where is the
smug expectation of the bitter dilet-
tante of liberty, the rotten scowl 
of vigilance to deny it to humanity?

Give us good government of this world,
and let us be responsible for our soul.

President of the United States
February 8, 2017

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

We've got him in the Ninth Circuit

The vomit isn't even dry
from his inaugural ora-
tion, and we've got him
in San Francisco on a
charge of cheating on a
contract in immigration.

This country promised
people it had "vetted"
from A to Z, a date of
entry here as refugees.
He sent his toadies out
to claim we'd be invad-
ed, if he were to give
advance notice of this
revolting evacuation of
our word. And now he's
going to hear what it
means, when words count.

Let's wax the skis.

Monday, February 6, 2017


I think of this as a subject
for Charles Lamb, to whose es-
says from the 1820s I was com-
mended by my father, so that
as I encountered them under
scholastic compulsion, I was
ready to be unresisting. As
Elia, Lamb describes an uncle
who could have been a father,
and such men one knows, too.

.. and how he used to carry me on his back when I was a lame-footed boy - many a mile when I could not walk for pain; and how in after life he became lame-footed too, and I did not always (I fear) make allowances enough for him when he was impatient, and in pain, nor remember sufficiently how considerate he had been to me when I was lame-footed; and how when he died, though he had not been dead an hour, it seemed as if he had died a great while ago  .. yet I missed him all day long, and knew not till then how much I had loved him. I missed his kindness and I missed his crossness, and wished him to be alive again, and was as uneasy without him, as he must have been when the doctor took off his limb ..

Charles Lamb
Elia and The Last
  Essays of Elia
    A Reverie
Jonathan Bate
Oxford University Press, 1987©

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Cup on a plinth

There are you, familiar, at times
overlooked, despised. Now, 
go back the way you came, down
the same old streets where you
grew to a name and a single face.

Close your eyes. You are on
a dark plain. The hot winds
breathe in and out. You're laughing!

You asked for a home, you crossed
the earth, you sat speechless,
you questioned the closed door,
'Are you there?' no one answered
because all the time it was you.

Philip Levine
 What Work Is
Alfred A. Knopf, 1991©


Photo, Laurent