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Maidenhair Tree

gingko print

Fühlst Du nicht an meinen Liedern,
Daß ich eins und doppelt bin? – Goethe

Maidenhair tree, you living fossil (also “Ginkgo”) –
Around tomorrow’s roots you grow from ancient days
Implying leaves evolved from petals each time they blow,
Dynastic in brilliant hues. In fan shapes you praise
Early autumn’s fanfare – flower house fandango
Neglecting neither flesh nor mind. You hide to show
High courtship with seasoned arts learned in woman’s ways –
As blushing bush will show to hide what loosened stays….
Informed by loneliness, your autumn-baring limbs
Release your leaves upon the cold-creek mountain air.
This plants you – orphaned phylum, species, class – and limns
Relevance to love as organic Yiji love:
Each fall you play the courtesan and let your hair
Enlighten Kingdom Earth through the pleasure that you give.

Rain and Fog and Straw and Man

Morning Fog

Like hushed antiquities ensconced in crates,
Excelsior, and mummy’s cotton gauze,
This roadside farmland holds no common cause
With time or place. A breeze investigates
The dialogue of rain and fog, yet yields
No evidence of crows nor their scarecrow,
But only emptiness in open fields
That proves a second harvest – stubbled straw.

So modern man, a target on the move,
Will enter such a landscape in his mind.
His feet will neither sound nor mark. The mist
Envelopes them, and rain is quick to drive
The point – the past erased or redefined,
Mere straw to scare the crowing nihilist.

Photosource(no relation)

Pantoum for the Fifty Percent

tom and viv
The dinner détente dies, the candles fade,
The tension mounts, a cat that climbs the stairs.
Like clowns out of step in a sad parade,
The wind and rain repeat, but no one cares.

The tension mounts. A cat that climbs the stairs
Connotes the awkward moment’s masquerade
The wind and rain repeat. But no one cares
When love grows still and breathes contagious airs.

Cannot the awkward moment’s masquerade
Expend emotion’s capital like tares
Our love still grows? To breathe contagious airs
We hum the minor chords of Scheherazade.

We spent emotion’s capital. Like tares,
The dinner détente dies. The candles fade.
We hum the minor chords of Scheherazade
Like clowns out of step in a sad parade.

Father Loisy’s Still Life with Book and Pears

loisy pioc

The search for truth is not a trade by which a man can support himself; for a priest it is a supreme peril. – Alfred Loisy

The morning sun is threading through the haze
That hangs above my head. Tobacco’s whiff
Occludes this April’s finer fragrances.
I break my fast on pears and wonder if
The foolish faith within my heart corrects
The proofs of falsehood – my grandest grazie
To God! These fondled pages – each dissects
The saints’ exquisite corpses, prima facie.

And deep in thought, I stab my cigarette
At earthenware from which I ate the fruit.
The sticky ash that crumbs and smears my plate
Evolved from gold ciborium and cruet.
And so these browning table pears don’t rot
But change, project, develop, recreate…

The Draconids

draco

FOR NORAH

And especially were we led to cultivate that discipline developed in respect to divine and heavenly things as being the only one concerned with the study of things which are always what they are…
– Ptolemy, Preface to The Almagest

My daughter’s eyes dissolve in tears that turn
Her irises to violent shades of plum.
There’s not a single star to which she’s born
But romance has its seasons – some that come
With flowers, some to desolate the heart:
For heaven knows what breaks it, either whole or part.

Perhaps she feels her orbit tilts askew,
A teen-aged Pluto – distant, unobtained…
She casts her face against the residue
Of evening light – the setting sun has gained
It’s nadir. Soon the light that sets is lost;
The sky turns dark like velvet smirched with quartzose dust.

I vanquish pedantry’s old urge and bring
My daughter out beyond the pasture wire
Where thirsty cattle crowd around a spring
Of fresh discovery. We look and stare,
Our imaginations fixed as hooves in mud
And ruminate on stars as Guernseys, grain and cud.

Thus, constellations, clusters, nebulae
Offers more than a comet’s passing peace;
Consummate wonder weaves its fabulae
Of squibs from Northern Star to Southern Cross –
And counting up, my daughter can’t recall
An integer so wholly astronomical.

Resisting words, I let night speak – or sing –
For itself, spreading starry charts before
The autumn equinox which waits to spring
October’s Draconids across the door
And sill of space, showering eternity
With falling fire at tears’ escape velocity.

Returning through the fields, my daughter stopped
To watch as deicidal Draco squirms
In polar transit. Once, Athena stripped
The worm of tooth and claw, and now he warms
His artic blood by sloughing skin for flame
(Recurring fall to fall, his scales retain his name).

Beneath this snaking string of pearls, I pray
My daughter finds each star a widow’s mite –
Beyond our reach but held within the play
Of waxing grace, a shepherd satellite
That casts its shadow on the human soul,
And governs gravity with love’s more buoyant pull.

Brushed Mohair Boyfriend Sweatshirt

brush jpg

 

Upstate, a weekend away from college,
Your roommate’s sister joined our coterie –
What boys define as men. With foliage
For fashion, the sunlight fading early
Became her figure’s fugue – so perfect, picturesque
In autumn, earthy, delicately picaresque.

The camera, tomorrow says, can’t lie:
About her marble skin, her hair a nest
Of robin’s wings – her emerald eyes rely
Upon arresting candor, prepossessed
As bees that flirt with failing thorn and dying rose –
But stuck in time, she strikes an adolescent pose.

Each minute, yesterday replies, construes
The truth of lies and strips from silks to flesh
What Madison Ave. only rues
But cannot refute. Context’s textile mesh
Imbeds in memory the silken worm of love,
But head cajoled the heart – till both could not believe

The evening air, so sharp and tang with leaves
In burning piles somewhere beyond the light
Of bonfires. Flame’s dancing logic still gives
Her face the look of truth while smoke and night
Still infiltrate her sweater’s cabled virgin wool:
It’s cold. She shivers, holds her hands in twilit fall –

And suddenly she looked at you across
The flame. You’d nursed your whisky flask to death;
Your eyes surmount their diffidence and toss
A glance her way. October steals your breath –
But dropping hands, she lets her eyes return to earth.
You wonder now what mocking god had given birth

To time and seasons. Heading back to school,
You thought about what could have been. You saw
Her once again – a final time – the cool
Of autumn giving way to winter’s raw
Emotion. Bundled up, she walked the whitened quad,
Her eyes as green as ever. Wink had passed by nod,

Your mute and shared admission fall occurred
At all. You turned to watch her slip away
Through snow that fell across the campus, blurred
Her lines, and failed to capture or portray
What, later, flying colors testified with lens
And film: that time and seasons hold no circumstance

With beauty’s rising smoke that, metal-blue,
Had veiled the milky spray of stars back then
When whiskey, fall and fire were all you knew –
Her fickle fame and fey adrenaline
Were waiting for the future, undeveloped prints
That cozened marketplace collateral. But since

That time, her rites of spring draw out modesty
In pencil skirts; her winter duffle makes
Its quilt-lined obsequies; her summers free
Bikini, brief and thong. But memory speaks
At last and turns the page to whiskey, fall and fire. You learn
For the first time: she’s autumn smoke, an ache, that burn

Of pure emotion, spilling now like ink
Across the colored capture, blotting out
The years, renewing face and form. To think
You knew her once so young. Without a doubt
Her eyes retain that fabled age of innocence –
What took J.Crew’s fall preview to experience.

What Came in the Mail

image

The latest Dappled Things.

Hmm … and what have we here … a very fine apostolic meditation ripped from the manuscript of Groundwork! (coming soon — and we’re not kidding this time! honest!  — from Korrektiv Press).

“Heller missed their deadline by four or five years, but eventually delivered it …”

heller-1961

It’s the birthday of the man who asked, “What does a sane man do in an insane society?”: American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright Joseph Heller (books by this author), born in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. He didn’t begin any story until he had the first and last lines in his head, and the idea for Catch-22 came about after he thought of an opening: “It was love at first sight. The first time he saw the chaplain, ‘Someone’ fell madly in love with him.” He didn’t have the character’s name — Yossarian — yet, but the story began to unspool from that first line. “It got me so excited,” Heller wrote in the Paris Review, “that I did what the cliché says you’re supposed to do: I jumped out of bed and paced the floor. That morning I went to my job at the advertising agency and wrote out the first chapter in longhand. … One year later, after much planning, I began chapter two.”

His agent started sending Catch-22 — called Catch-18 at the time — to publishers in 1953, when Heller was about a third of the way through with it. Simon and Schuster paid him $750 up front, with another $750 to be paid upon completion. Heller missed their deadline by four or five years, but eventually delivered it in 1961. They changed Catch-18 to Catch-22 to avoid confusion with Leon Uris’s new book Mila 18, and the title has entered the lexicon as a description of an unsolvable logical dilemma, a vicious circle.

Heller published six other novels, three plays, a collection of short stories, and three screen adaptations. He died in 1999, shortly after finishing his last novel, Portrait of the Artist, as an Old Man.

From today’s Writer’s Almanac.

Fun fact: Catch-22 was a finalist for the 1962 National Book Award—along with The Moviegoer, which won it.

(“Heller missed their deadline by four or five years, but eventually delivered it….” Rally Korrektiv, rally!)

See also

Persephone

persophone 2
For Cecilia

Imagine time the place where shadows grow
Divine, and spread like fans that winnow noon
From dawn and dusk from rotting bones in snow
That marks the melting margins of the sun.

Then conjure thoughts of breadth: from apse
And nave to chthonic crypt, from heaven’s womb
To Hades’ tomb. What fires your cold synapse?
What Aprils march to February’s doom?

Where ice has borrowed, spring is lent away:
A princess comes to live in exile’s realms,
Her pert magnificence at close of day –
Though holding fast – reveals and overwhelms.

The nothing left is less than chaff – a creed
Of stones. What’s gone is everything that lasts:
The bittersweet and many-seeded need
To see beyond the light that darkness casts.

Triangulation at Its Best…

 

Charles-Portis-236x300_Tom_Wolfejd salinger

 

 

 

 

 

 

In an outtake from the recent Salinger biodoc.

******

And, in unrelated news yet to happen, there’s this…

JOB [To Interviewer]: “So, you better talk to Jonathan Potter about this, but it’s a great story. The way he tells it,  or at least how he told it to me, Matthew Lickona was just beginning to get his life back in order, right? He was recently out of debt and was returning from some bigwig marketing meeting at the prosthetics company he was working for. Anyway, he decides he’s going to take a cross country trip by train – not bad, right? See a little bit of America’s ass side, spend some time knocking back a few in the dining car, snooze to the clickity-clackity rhythm of it all… Well, anyway, so he’s sitting there, America’s backyards and back alleys racing past his window in a cartoon blur. Meanwhile, unknown to Matthew, Angelico is seated two seats behind him. And so at some point during the trip, the train is about to take one of these God-sized mountain tunnels – it’s out in the middle of Utah or Colorado or something – and it just so happens that who? Right! Dorian Speed is walking up the aisle to the smoking car – she smoked in those days, Camel filterless if I recall – I remember because she started a three-pack-a-day habit soon after the giraffonet replaced the internet and she was having such a hard time transitioning – at any rate, Angelico thrusts his foot into the aisle because he’s got this cramp in his calf, see? He just made this big sell to Icon Productions for his client – but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself – anyway, so he puts his leg out like he’s going to kick a door in and Dorian, tripping on his leg, stumbles forward – but just then Jonathan Webb is walking down the aisle in the other direction, having just finished in the smoking car a Romeo y Julieta – a Churchill I think it was – you know, he could afford them in those days, what with the movie deals he was getting for the Death Fables and all – and he lunges to catch Dorian, but she meanwhile is putting her hand out to save herself from falling flat on her face, and in the process grabs Brian Jobe, who is also on the train – a seat behind and diagonal from Matthew – unbelievable, right? I thought so too! – so she grabs Brian Jobe by his black mock turtleneck – this was during his black period, the whole Propertius affair was still a fresh wound at that point – and she yanks him into the aisle as she’s falling and Webb accidentally grabs for the emergency brake – except, you know, it wasn’t accidental? Because just then Webb sees Matthew at the same time that Matthew spots Webb. Their eyes lock and for one furious moment – well, think crossing streams and Ghostbusters and marshmallow bits everywhere! Well, at the very least, fireworks, hello! So Matthew stands up and is about to punch Webb in his gob – because, you know, poor Matthew is still sore about Webb’s refusal to testify in the Gibson suit – but then Angelico, still rubbing his calf, sees Matthew and unaware of Matthew’s ire tries to get his attention by throwing a copy of Groundwork at him – which someone told me he’d found in the WalMart remainder pile – that’s where I find them, anyway – but anyway, the story – so instead, right? Angelico hits Webb with the book – his own client and he hits him with the book -and right between the eyes – and so, well, anyway, everything sort of went black for a moment as the train passes into the tunnel and…. well, look, I don’t know. This is just what I heard. The only one who was there was Potter. Ask him. He knows the whole story.”