Wednesday, May 31, 2006


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,
something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Billy Collins

The above favorite of mine I ran across again yesterday in a new anthology of poems (100 essential modern poems / selected by Joseph Parisi. ) While at times it seems as if there are more anthologies than poems I still love seeing who and what is collected by whom ( kind of ugly there but you get my drift). I think Parisi does a nice job in this volume sticking with standards but not always selecting the obvious and the author intros are appropriately concise but sold although I wish he would include reasoning behind selection of the specific poem over others.
I was looking over the discard shelf and on it there were a lot of classroom copies of paperbacks from discarded in bulk. I grabbed copies of Candide, Main Street, Democracy in America and a few others I can't recall (see above poem). The one that is, in the words of Emily, currently making me feel as if the top of my head is being taken off, is The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I am in awe of her prose. I started reading it yesterday while browsing and then after finishing up a Le Carre intrigue, was eager to return to it have not put it down for very long since. She has, in her own words a "...truth in timbre."

Monday, May 29, 2006

"The Sentinels Creed"

"My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted.
In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter.
And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection.

Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements,
I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability.
It is he who commands the respect I protect.

His bravery that made us so proud.
Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day alone in the thoughtful peace of night,
this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance."

The 3d U.S Infantry, traditionally known as The Old Guard, is the oldest continuously serving active-duty
infantry unit in the Army, serving our nation since 1784.

I rememeber walking around the lake by our house in Ledyard, Ct and stumbling across an old, overgrown, family cemetery. It was an education in the brevity of not only our lives but the memories of them. The family plot, long abandoned , always received certain specific attention around this time of year. Someone would always make it a point to traipse through the woods and place a flag on the grave of a Revolutionary War veteran buried there. From the names on most of the stones that we were still able to decipher, this once hallowed land was formerly the Stanton family's. I wish had done some more research of who they were, especially the soldier whose name I can no longer recall.
While Veteran's Day honors all who served, Memorial Day is reserved for those that have given the ultimate sacrifice for their comrades, family, and country. I agree with the manner of Gary Trudeau's memoriam in yesterday's Doonesbury and I was fortunate never to have suffered the loss of someone close to me while in the service. The same can not be said for all those who continue to serve today. Thank You.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's just easier to post pictures than trying to come up with something to write because I am fried from reading social studies essays

(Another shot by S. with the cell phone. Nice job considering it was impossible to see what she was aiming at because of the sun.)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Tall Buildings Shake, Voices Escape, Singing Sad, Sad Songs

S. captured this on cell phone from water taxi between Navy Pier and Sears Tower.
(The building will forver be known to me as The Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Building or The Wilco Building due to album cover)

Chaotic week involving co-opting existing plans to go to the above show in Chicago with a trip back to home. Eastern trip postponed until later this summer as it was not as pressing a need as first thought and can wait. Another twist at work is sending me back to Columbus this week. Will try to update from there.

P.S. The Drive By Truckers show flat out rocked. Upwards of 2 1/2 hours with minimal encore break. Closed out the show with an amazing cover of Jim Carrol's People Who Died.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

"The God Abandons Antony"

When suddenly at the midnight hour

you hear the invisible troupe passing by

with sublime music, with voices --

don't futilely mourn your luck giving out, your work

collapsing, the designs of your life

that have all proved to be illusions.

As if long prepared, as if full of courage,

say good-bye to her, the Alexandria who is leaving.

Above all don't fool yourself, don't say it was

a dream, how your ears tricked you.

Don't stoop to such empty hopes.

As if long prepared, as if full of courage,

as is right for you who are worthy of such a city,

go stand tall by the window

and listen with feeling, but not

with the pleas and whining of a coward,

hear the voices -- your last pleasure --

the exquisite instruments of that secret troupe,

and say good-bye to her, the Alexandria you are losing.

C.P. Cavafy

I started composing this post almost a month ago and then abandoned it. Here it is at last without the links because they are probably expired.

I first ran across a C.P. Cavafy poem in Andrew Carrolls free book of poems distributed for The American Poetry & Literacy Project. Songs of the Open Road? (Carroll deserves his own post…I had written him about becoming involved in the project beyond the scope of donation and he wrote me a letter enclosing a few copies of the book. His other projects and interest in letters of the unsung make for entralling reading). The poem was Ithaka a benediction for the beginning of a voyage (…Fear not the Lastroygynians…) and reminding the traveler that he will always have home in is heart. A cliché perhaps when summarized but made elegant in Cavafy’s verse. We met again when I read J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians for a class. The title was taken from Cavafy’s most well known poem of same name. A new translation of Cavafy by Aliki Barnstone (in collobartion with her father Willis) is out and was reviewed recently in Washington Post by Michael Dirda, who I often turn to when looking for what to read next.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Enough with the vacation slides already!

Lots of public art around Seattle , including the aforementioned Troll and a controversial statue of Lenin outside a taco stand in Fremont which we did not make it to. Not sure I want to pose with the man anyway.

Friday night at Safeco Field, the consummate professional pictured above on the right, the over 35 softball league player (now retired) on the left. Nice ballpark a short walk from Pioneer Square and the downtown market. Ichiro had an amazing catch in this game as well as a triple in a 9-4 loss to the Indians. Jamie "Methuselah" Moyer was pitching for the home team.

Back in Iowa as I write this and adjusting back to central time zone. Will catch up on things as I can. Scruffy should have a novel length of new material that I need to read.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Obligatory needle background shot. We will have some better shots once the disposable is developed. The picture of the Troll under the Fremont St. Bridge did not come out so good on the cell.

A much needed and excellent refuge after trying to park in Uptown area with my behemoth of a rental car. I am starting to hate Chevrolets and especially the recent incarnation of the Impalla. Bartender was playing cd of bluegrass covers of Modest Mouse songs. Has to be heard. We found a store copy at record store around corner immediately after leaving this pub.

Alas, we will not be in town to see this show. But I am intrigued.

NOTE: Photos of Jabu Bar and poster of Steven Seagal Blues Band removed for formatting issues.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mt. Rainier can be seen from our hotel in Federal Way... can the Space Needle, which looks quite different from pictures and the view from Frasier's apartment. Still swamped but things are winding down. I love being near the water and we actually found decent seafood in Des Moines...Washington.