Friday, June 30, 2006
The Whitsun Weddings
by Philip Larkin
That Whitsun, I was late getting away:
Not till about
One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday
Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out,
All windows down, all cushions hot, all sense
Of being in a hurry gone. We ran
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence
The river's level drifting breadth began,
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet.
All afternoon, through the tall heat that slept
For miles inland,
A slow and stopping curve southwards we kept.
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and
Canals with floatings of industrial froth;
A hothouse flashed uniquely: hedges dipped
And rose: and now and then a smell of grass
Displaced the reek of buttoned carriage-cloth
Until the next town, new and nondescript,
Approached with acres of dismantled cars.
At first, I didn't notice what a noise
The weddings made
Each station that we stopped at: sun destroys
The interest of what's happening in the shade,
And down the long cool platforms whoops and skirls
I took for porters larking with the mails,
And went on reading. Once we started, though,
We passed them, grinning and pomaded, girls
In parodies of fashion, heels and veils,
All posed irresolutely, watching us go,
As if out on the end of an event
To something that survived it. Struck, I leant
More promptly out next time, more curiously,
And saw it all again in different terms:
The fathers with broad belts under their suits
And seamy foreheads; mothers loud and fat;
An uncle shouting smut; and then the perms,
The nylon gloves and jewellery-substitutes,
The lemons, mauves, and olive-ochres that
Marked off the girls unreally from the rest.
Yes, from cafés
And banquet-halls up yards, and bunting-dressed
Coach-party annexes, the wedding-days
Were coming to an end. All down the line
Fresh couples climbed aboard: the rest stood round;
The last confetti and advice were thrown,
And, as we moved, each face seemed to define
Just what it saw departing: children frowned
At something dull; fathers had never known
Success so huge and wholly farcical;
The women shared
The secret like a happy funeral;
While girls, gripping their handbags tighter, stared
At a religious wounding. Free at last,
And loaded with the sum of all they saw,
We hurried towards London, shuffling gouts of steam.
Now fields were building-plots, and poplars cast
Long shadows over major roads, and for
Some fifty minutes, that in time would seem
Just long enough to settle hats and say
I nearly died,
A dozen marriages got under way.
They watched the landscape, sitting side by side
- An Odeon went past, a cooling tower, And
someone running up to bowl - and none
Thought of the others they would never meet
Or how their lives would all contain this hour.
I thought of London spread out in the sun,
Its postal districts packed like squares of wheat:
There we were aimed. And as we raced across
Bright knots of rail
Past standing Pullmans, walls of blackened moss
Came close, and it was nearly done, this frail
Travelling coincidence; and what it held
stood ready to be loosed with all the power
That being changed can give. We slowed again,
And as the tightened brakes took hold, there swelled
A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain.
From THE WHITSUN WEDDINGS (1964) - Faber & Faber, UK
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Review of - "They Shoot Poets - Don't They?"
I just saw "They Shoot Poets - Don't They?". Gee. It must have taken many years to finalize the page. Beautiful. The HTML source is valid. Of course, I expected the creator to create something superior. Seeing They Shoot Poets - Don't They?, I'm simply full of respect. The page contains 231 links, a perfect amount. (...)
The URL has 34 characters. That's just the right size. Also, put up a link to this page. If only my friend's company would have a great page like that. What a superb page! There are 54,146 characters in the document, which is a swell length for search engines. The color scheme is very balanced. I knee down before the creator of this web page!"
-- Fred Robertson, "YourWeb Monthly"
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
Poets 101.com "... isn't a city, town, borough or municipal corporation*, but it is a playing field for the ever growing community of blogging poets. so many of them (if not all) encouraged and collected by one Billy the Blogging Poet. and if all those words (city, town, borough...) have one thing in common, it's that they build up around a collection of people, a community. therefore, let Poets101.com be out make believe city, the town hall, the swing set behind the movie theatre, whatever. it's there and it's ours. and i'm taking it upon myself to make billy the mayor the swing set!"
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Monday, June 19, 2006
The Kopi Luwak Story
The Luwak (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) denizen of the coffee (kopi) plantations of Java, Sumatra, and Sulawesi, eats only the ripest coffee cherries. Unable to digest the coffee beans, the Luwak graciously deposits them on the jungle floor where they are eagerly collected by the locals. The stomach acids and enzymatic action involved in this unique fermentation process produces the beans for the world’s rarest coffee beverage.
The Byproduct Sold at $75 per quarter pound:
Saturday, June 17, 2006
The slow overture of rain,
each drop breaking
without breaking into
the next, describes
the unrelenting, syncopated
mind. Not unlike
imagining their wings
to be their heart, and swallows
believing the horizon
to be a line they lift
and drop. What is it
they cast for? The poplars,
advancing or retreating,
lose their stature
equally, and yet stand firm,
in order to become
imaginary. The city
draws the mind in streets,
and streets compel it
from their intersections
where a little
belongs to no one. It is
what is driven through
all stationary portions
of the world, gravity's
stake in things, the leaves,
pressed against the dank
window of November
soil, remain unwelcome
till transformed, parts
of a puzzle unsolvable
till the edges give a bit
and soften. See how
then the picture becomes clear,
the mind entering the ground
more easily in pieces,
and all the richer for it.
Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Overlord (HarperCollins, 2005); Never (HarperCollins, 2002); Swarm (2000); The Errancy (1997); The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994, which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; Materialism (1993); Region of Unlikeness (1991); The End of Beauty (1987); Erosion (1983); and Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts (1980). She has also edited two anthologies, Earth Took of Earth: 100 Great Poems of the English Language (1996) and The Best American Poetry 1990.
To read a review of Overlord in The Guardian, click here: http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1717013,00.html
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Je Suis Une Table
by Donald Hall *
It has happened suddenly,
by surprise, in an arbor,
or while drinking good coffee,
after speaking, or before,
that I dumbly inhabit
a density; in language,
there is nothing to stop it,
for nothing retains an edge.
Simple ignorance presents,
later, words for a function,
but it is common pretense
of speech, by a convention,
and there is nothing at all
but inner silence, nothing
to relieve on principle
now this intense thickening.
* From White Apples and the Taste of Stone : Selected Poems 1946-2006
"Donald Hall was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1928, the only child of Donald Andrew Hall (a businessman) and his wife Lucy (née Wells). He was educated at Phillips Exeter, New Hampshire, and at the Universities of Harvard, Oxford and Stanford.
Hall began writing even before reaching his teens, beginning with poems and short stories, and then moving on to novels and dramatic verse. He recalls the powerful influence on his youthful imagination of Edgar Allan Poe: 'I wanted to be mad, addicted, obsessed, haunted and cursed. I wanted to have deep eyes that burned like coals - profoundly melancholic, profoundly attractive.' "
Friday, June 09, 2006
Nostalgia is more commonly referred to not as a medical condition or a field of study, but as a feeling that any normal person can have. Nostalgia can often be associated with a fond childhood memory, a certain game or a treasured personal object.
Studies show that many people believe that years or decades past people were better off than they are now, and that there had been a higher standard of living then, even if this is not always the case. This belief can be very characteristic of nostalgia, of the "good ol' days." Items in Pop Culture can often trigger a strong feeling of nostalgia. TV shows like Lost In Space and Moon Pies can bring back memories of the space age. *
As of late I'm in a nostalgic mood. Songs & visuals that usually did not evoke any response from me are somehow triggering or firing the medial temporal lobes (MTL). The fireworks of emotion are palpable. Sometimes the memory is pleasant conjuring aromas, sounds, sensations, places & people from my past. Others would best be left submerged in some murky neural sconce. Still I suppose that they are part and parcel. Here is some of the baggage that I still carry for better or worse:
25- Gilligan's Island : You'd figure that seven adults would be able to get off that island what with all the traffic of persons we saw from week to week.
24- Gomer Pyle: "Shazaaaaam!"
23- Mission Impossible: Gotta like that theme music & the self-destructing envelopes.
22- Honey Mooners: " Alice!!!..." & "You're a riot, Alice, a regular riot. "
21- Dark Shadows: Just like the name: Barnabas Collins - for some reason. Vampiric Soap Opera.
20- Invaders: "The Invaders - Alien beings from a dying planet Their destination - The Earth. Their purpose - To make it their world "- As far as I'm concerned, as long as they depose Bush they're welcome to it. Come to think of it doesn't Bush have a crooked 4th finger.
19- Man From U.N.C.L.E.: "Man From UNCLE" a spy show featuring Napoleon Solo & Ilya Kuryakin which begat "The Girl from UNCLE" which thankfully did not beget "Aunt From UNCLE".
18- Bonanza: Four bachelors & a Chinese cook. No wonder Hop Sing was always skittish.
17- Ed Sullivan: Where else could you see the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jim Morrison, Tiny Tim & Topo Gigio all on the same stage "tiptoeing through the tulips".
16- Lost in Space: Warning!...Warning!!...Warning!!! -Robbie the Robot was ostensibly the best actor in the cast.
15- Batman: Holy ""Same bat time. Same bat channel!" , Batman!
14- Hogan's Heroes: You gotta hand it to the writers - turning a World War II Nazi POW camp into a comedy sitcom is either very gutsy or very stupid.
13- Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Alfred Hitchcock Quote -"Television has brought murder back into the home - where it belongs".
12- Avengers: Introducing a TV audience to a notable fetishistic undercurrent in many episodes - black leather, a whip & "kinky boots".
11- Green Hornet: Bruce Lee as "Kato" was well worth the price of admission.
10- M.A.S.H.: Hawkeye, Hotlips, Klinger in drag et al...Gotta Love it!
9- Bewitched: Any of the original episodes makes the Ferrell & Kidman vehicle look bad.
8- Secret Agent: Johnny Rivers rendition of the theme song & Patrick McGoohan's deadpan delivery hit home.
7- Twilight Zone: Do you want to see something really scary?
6- Outer Limits: Please do not adjust your sets.
5- Munsters: Talk about marriages that last - Herman & Lily Munster have been married for 100 years.
4- Addams Family: When "Cousin It" started making sense I got worried.
3- Beverly Hillbillies: I think I'll "set a spell" around the "cee-ment pond".
2- Get Smart: "Missed it by that much."
1- Star Trek: "Live long and prosper."
A lung disease caused by inhaling fine particles of silica.[From New Latin, from Greek pneumono- (lung) + Latin ultra- (beyond,extremely) + Greek micro- (small) + -scopic (looking) + Latin silico(like sand) + volcano + Greek konis (dust) + -osis (condition).]
By any other name this would still be unpronounceable.
Monday, June 05, 2006
by Marianne Boruch
has its little hobbies. The lung
likes its air best after supper,
goes deeper there to trade up
for oxygen, give everything else
away. (And before supper, yes,
during too, but there’s
something about evening, that
slow breath of the day noticed: oh good,
still coming, still going ... ) As for
the tribe of them in there—they harden
with use. The body would like
a small mile or two. Thank you.
It would like it on a bike
or a run. Or in the water. Blue.
And food. A habit that involves
a larger circumference where a garden’s
involved, beer is brewed, cows
wake the farmer with their fullness,
a field surrenders its wheat, and wheat
understands I will be crushed
into flour and starry-dust
the whole room, the baker
sweating, opening a window
to acknowledge such remarkable
confetti. And the brain,
locked in its strange
dual citizenship, idles there in the body,
neatly terraced and landscaped.
Or left to ruin, such a brain,
wild roses growing
next to the sea. The body is
gracious about that. Oh, their
scent sometimes. Their
tangle. In truth, in secret,
the first thing
in morning the eye longs to see.
Marianne Boruch’s most recent books are Poems: New and Selected (Oberlin College Press, 2004) and In the Blue Pharmacy (Trinity University Press, 2005), her second collection of essays on poetry. She teaches at Purdue University.
[From "Poetry" - June 2006]
Saturday, June 03, 2006
for Maxine Kumin
Where did these enormous children come from,
More ladylike than we have ever been?
Some of ours look older than we feel.
How did they appear in their long dresses
More ladylike than we have ever been?
But they moan about their aging more than we do,
In their fragile heels and long black dresses.
They say they admire our youthful spontaneity.
They moan about their aging more than we do,
A somber group--why don't they brighten up?
Though they say they admire our youthful spontaneity
They beg us to be dignified like them
As they ignore our pleas to brighten up.
Someday perhaps we'll capture their attention
Then we won't try to be dignified like them
Nor they to be so gently patronizing.
Someday perhaps we'll capture their attention.
Don't they know that we're supposed to be the stars?
Instead they are so gently patronizing.
It makes us feel like children--second-childish?
Perhaps we're too accustomed to be stars.
The famous flowers glowing in the garden,
So now we pout like children. Second-childish?
Quaint fragments of forgotten history?
Our daughters stroll together in the garden,
Chatting of news we've chosen to ignore,
Pausing to toss us morsels of their history,
Not questions to which only we know answers.
Eyes closed to news we've chosen to ignore,
We'd rather excavate old memories,
Disdaining age, ignoring pain, avoiding mirrors.
Why do they never listen to our stories?
Because they hate to excavate old memories
They don't believe our stories have an end.
They don't ask questions because they dread the answers.
They don't see that we've become their mirrors,
We offspring of our enormous children.
Buon Compleanno Elizabeth Bruno
Friday, June 02, 2006
In 2257, the crew of United Planets Cruiser C-57D, led by Cmdr JJ Adams (Leslie Nielson), Lt Farman (Jack Kelly) and Dr Ostrow (Warren Stevens),come to check on Altair-4's first settlers. All have been killed, except the mysterious Dr. Morbius (Walter Pigeon) and daughter, Altaira (Anne Francis),by an invisible being, per Dr Morbius. Adams is skeptical of Morbius' story, his palacial setting, Earth-type animals seen, & Robby the Robot, who first greeted the crew.
Adams states he'll have to return Morbius to Earth, but Morbius suddenly gives Adams, Farman & Ostrow an underground tour of still-operating technology, left by the Krell, inhabitants who disappeared 2000 centuries ago. Morbius explains that many devices are controlled by the mind & that even his has expanded.
Adams & Altaira realize they have an attraction, which Morbius is aware. In a night attack on the ship, an invisible creature wipes out half the crew including Farman. Adams & Ostrow confront Morbius, who is unaccepting of Adams' theory that Krell technology is providing the invisible attacker, conjured up by Morbius' innermost mind - the id -to drive away Adams & his crew. Robby alerts that ' something ' is coming, & the group escapes into the underground Krell maze as Morbius' house is torn apart by something invisible.