29 September 2014

"just to take the edge off" (a day in tuolumne on the new dual sport)




Gagging Order
Radiohead
Com Lag (2Plus2IsFive)

I know what you're thinking
But I'm not your property
No matter what you say
No matter what you say

Move along, there's nothing left to see
Just a body, nothing left to see

A couple more for breakfast
A little more for tea
Just to take the edge off
Just to take the edge off

Move along, there's nothing left to see
Just a body, pouring down the street

Move along, there's nothing left to see
Just a body, nothing left to see


 elk near manzanar.

 mt hoffman from the may lake trailhead.
 olmstead point view.
 heading back east toward tenaya lake.
generous helping of seared ahi from the legendary lee vining mobil station cafe.

what it was like once to have been a human being

 pearsonville.  near inyokern on the 395.
small waterfall at whitney portal.


Last Statement for a Last Oracle



After this oracle there will be no more oracles.
The precinct is hereby desanctified. You wanted it,
you have it. From now on everything I say
will be a lie said for cash. Now, for the last time,
here’s the truth: You have won with your horse power
and numbers from the north. You will go on
winning forever—this is your damnation—
until your conquests and the insides of your heads
are alike, and you and I know what it’s like
in there, so if some dirty beast remembers,
on some future dirty night, what it was like
once to have been a human being and pleasing to me
in a fair exchange of pure sacrifice for pure prophecy
he will throw himself into a fire and howl to death.
I will now drop back into the fire you are
so curious about. When you get drunk tonight
and pee on it, it, you and I will go out like the light
and an acid yellow smoke will take the place of our souls.
We will have to go on living a lie for a while, however,
in the unspeakable condition I have referred to in passing.

Alan Dugan


Alan Dugan, “Last Statement for a Last Oracle” from Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry. Copyright © 2001 by Alan Dugan.

 whitney portal campsite.
 leaving whitney.  looking down on alabama hills and lone pine.
looking back toward whitney.

22 September 2014

it holds together something more than the world, this line. And we are your wavery efforts at following it. (fall break)

An Introduction to Some Poems 

Look: no one ever promised for sure
that we would sing. We have decided
to moan. In a strange dance that
we don't understand till we do it, we
have to carry on.

Just as in sleep you have to dream
the exact dream to round out your life,
so we have to live that dream into stories
and hold them close at you, close at the
edge we share, to be right.

We find it an awful thing to meet people,
serious or not, who have turned into vacant
effective people, so far lost that they
won't believe their own feelings
enough to follow them out.

The authentic is a line from one thing
along to the next; it interests us.
strangely, it relates to what works,
but is not quite the same. It never
swerves for revenge,

Or profit, or fame: it holds
together something more than the world,
this line. And we are your wavery
efforts at following it. Are you coming?
Good: now it is time.

William Stafford

the old man makes a wavery effort at following the line up into the eastern sierra.   whitney portal road--only 11 miles from lone pine up the hill to whitney portal.  mt whitney is in center of photo.


17 September 2014

That wasn't it at all. I sang outward from my face to blue spaces between clouds



Orpheus

By A. F. Moritz

He glanced around to check if the treacherous gods
had really given him the reward promised for his accomplished song
and there she was, Eurydice restored, perfectly naked and fleshed
in her rhyming body again, the upper and lower smiles and eyes,
the line of mouth-sternum-navel-cleft, the chime of breasts and hips
and of the two knees, the feet, the toes, and that expression
of an unimaginable intelligence that yoked all these with a skill
she herself had forgotten the learning of: there she was, with him
                  once more
just for an instant as she vanished. And then he heard her from
                  behind
the invisible veil, absence: a shrill and batlike but lexical indictment.
Why had he violated the divine command, why, when he had seized
all song to himself and robbed her of power to open her own
                  oblivion?
It grew in volume and now seemed to spew from an insane old
                  mother with one breast
hanging like a huge withered testicle from a rent in her weathered
                  gown,
who was being watched by a tall woman, copper-helmet-coiffed,
                  richly suited in salmon colour,
a mythical allusion, since salmon were long extinct in the bays and
                rivers here:
songs never brought them anymore. The young restrained breasts
                and the old free one
oppressed him equally and he went to live among men, waiting for
                the crazy
and the competent to join forces and come for him with their
                  scissors.
Orpheus listened patiently to my poem and when it quieted he said
                  to me:
That wasn't it at all. I sang outward from my face to blue spaces
                  between clouds,
to fern fronds, and men and women sipped my song as you drink
                   from a stream going by.
What I sang is lost in time, you don't kmow what it was, all you have
                  is your own
old stories about me. And if women tore me into pieces, maybe that
                  only signifies
each one keeps part of my body, which is melody among visible
                  things.



Albert Frank Moritz, "Orpheus" from Conflicting Desire. Copyright © 2000 by Albert Frank Moritz.


15 September 2014

troubles to attend to. (any old miracle)





It’s late, and I sure do hate to bother you
But I know you’re the only one
Who knows what I’ve been goin’ through

It’s her, keepin’ me up all night again
And Lord I just had to call on you
To ask a favor of a friend

Any ol’ miracle that you could send me down
Don’t go to too much trouble Lord
What ever you might have aroun’
‘Cause I’m never gettin’ over her
Without some help from you
I’m gonna need a miracle
Any ol’ miracle will do

Oh Lord, I know so many others stand and need
You’ve got troubles to attend to
And you’ve got hungry mouths to feed

But, listen to me Lord
I don’t mean to take too much of your time
Please find me one small miracle
To heal this heart of mine

Any ol’ miracle that you could send me down
Don’t go to too much trouble Lord
What ever you might have aroun’
‘Cause I’m never gettin’ over her
Without some help from you
I’m gonna need a miracle
Any ol’ miracle will do


another moving performance of this song--it doesn't allow embed--but you can view it here Click here. Esquire live session

14 September 2014

when i'm quiet, that's when the truth emerges.

The Untrustworthy Speaker

BY LOUISE GLÜCK


Don’t listen to me; my heart’s been broken.
I don’t see anything objectively.

I know myself; I’ve learned to hear like a psychiatrist.
When I speak passionately,
that’s when I’m least to be trusted.

It’s very sad, really: all my life, I’ve been praised
for my intelligence, my powers of language, of insight.
In the end, they’re wasted—

I never see myself,
standing on the front steps, holding my sister’s hand.
That’s why I can’t account
for the bruises on her arm, where the sleeve ends.

In my own mind, I’m invisible: that’s why I’m dangerous.
People like me, who seem selfless,
we’re the cripples, the liars;
we’re the ones who should be factored out
in the interest of truth.

When I’m quiet, that’s when the truth emerges.
A clear sky, the clouds like white fibers.
Underneath, a little gray house, the azaleas
red and bright pink.

If you want the truth, you have to close yourself
to the older daughter, block her out:
when a living thing is hurt like that,
in its deepest workings,
all function is altered.

That’s why I’m not to be trusted.
Because a wound to the heart
is also a wound to the mind.


"The Untrustworthy Speaker" by Louise Glück, from Ararat. Copyright © 1990 by Louise Glück.

10 September 2014

Those parts that got outside, I'm gonna put them back in.

Well it woke me up early I went and I drew me a bath
Yeah I knew she'd been coming and she had got here at last
Well I started to scold her aw she just started to laugh
Yeah the beast came upon me, I guess it wasn't so bad

I said It's you took your claws you slipped em under my skin
There's parts that got outside, honey I want to put em back in
We've been playing like children, honey, now we'll play it like men
Those parts that got outside, I'm gonna put them back in.

She took the beak of a raven ah she laid it out just for show
She spun it round on the table, honey. Hey, I thought you should know
I saw the streets were of lightning all out the window below
Yeah the beast was upon me, honey, I thought you should know

Her ancient eyes were upon me they were familiar and black
She laid her claws all up on me, she had found me at last
Ah it woke me up early, I went and I drew me a bath
Ah, the beast was upon me, honey, I guess it wasn't so bad




02 September 2014

it was the only life i had

Three Songs at the End of Summer

By Jane Kenyon

A second crop of hay lies cut
and turned. Five gleaming crows
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,
and like midwives and undertakers
possess a weird authority.

Crickets leap from the stubble,
parting before me like the Red Sea.
The garden sprawls and spoils.

Across the lake the campers have learned
to water ski. They have, or they haven’t.
Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone
suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!”

Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod
brighten the margins of the woods.

Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.

*

The cicada’s dry monotony breaks
over me. The days are bright
and free, bright and free.

Then why did I cry today
for an hour, with my whole
body, the way babies cry?

*

A white, indifferent morning sky,
and a crow, hectoring from its nest
high in the hemlock, a nest as big
as a laundry basket ...
                                    In my childhood
I stood under a dripping oak,
while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,
waiting for the school bus
with a dread that took my breath away.

The damp dirt road gave off
this same complex organic scent.

I had the new books—words, numbers,
and operations with numbers I did not
comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled
by use, in a blue canvas satchel
with red leather straps.

Spruce, inadequate, and alien
I stood at the side of the road.
It was the only life I had.


Jane Kenyon, “Three Songs at the End of Summer” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005







18 August 2014

all men are noah's sons.

Still, Citizen Sparrow

by Richard Wilbur


Still, citizen sparrow, this vulture which you call
Unnatural, let him but lumber again to air
Over the rotten office, let him bear
The carrion ballast up, and at the tall

Tip of the sky lie cruising. Then you’ll see
That no more beautiful bird is in heaven’s height,
No wider more placid wings, no watchfuller flight;
He shoulders nature there, the frightfully free,

The naked-headed one. Pardon him, you
Who dart in the orchard aisles, for it is he
Devours death, mocks mutability,
Has heart to make an end, keeps nature new.

Thinking of Noah, childheart, try to forget
How for so many bedlam hours his saw
Soured the song of birds with its wheezy gnaw,
And the slam of his hammer all the day beset

The people’s ears. Forget that he could bear
To see the towns like coral under the keel,
And the fields so dismal deep. Try rather to feel
How high and weary it was, on the waters where

He rocked his only world, and everyone’s.
Forgive the hero, you who would have died
Gladly with all you knew; he rode that tide
To Ararat; all men are Noah’s sons.


Richard Wilbur, “Still, Citizen Sparrow” from Collected Poems 1943-2004. Copyright © 2004 by Richard Wilbur.


                                                                                                                                     above Edinburgh.
                                                                                                  'Sun Voyager'  harborside in Reykjavik.

17 August 2014

phosphorescent on kexp (yes the old man listens to these guys way too much)



Songs:

Terror In The Canyons (The Wounded Master)
Song for Zula
A New Anhedonia
Storms Never Last (Jessi Colter cover)


"Storms Never Last"

Storms never last do they baby
Bad times all pass with the wind
Your hand in mine stills the thunder
And you make the sun want to shine.

You followed me down so many roads baby
I've picked wild flowers and sung you soft sad songs
And every road we took God knows
Our search was for the truth
And the clouds brewing now won't be the last.

Storms never last do they baby
Bad times all pass with the wind
Your hand in mine stills the thunder
And you make the sun want to shine.

Storms never last do they Jessi
Bad times all pass with the wind
Your hand in mine stills the thunder
And you make the sun want to shine...

11 August 2014

Narcissus trifled with so many

From Ovid's Metamorphoses:

  

Narcissus trifled with so many

water nymphs, nymphs of the wooded mountains,

as well as a host of male admirers.

One of those spurned raised his hands to heaven:

“May he himself love as I have loved him,”

he said, “without obtaining his beloved,”

and Nemesis assented to his prayer.

There was a clear pool of reflecting water

unfrequented by shepherds with their flocks

or grazing mountain goats; no bird or beast,

not even a fallen twig stirred its surface;

its presence nourished greenery around it,

and the surrounding trees would keep it cool.

Worn out and overheated from the chase,

here comes the boy, attracted to this pool

as to its setting, and reclines beside it.

And as he strives to satisfy one thirst,

another is born; drinking, he’s overcome

by the beauty of the image that he sees;

he falls in love with an immaterial hope,

a shadow that he wrongly takes for substance.

Transfixed, suspended like a figure carved

from marble, he looks down at his own face;

stretched out on the ground, stares into his own eyes

and sees a pair of stars worthy of Bacchus,

a head of hair that might adorn Apollo;

those beardless cheeks, that neck of ivory,

the decorative beauty of his face,

and the blushing snow of his complexion;

he admires all that he’s admired for,

for it is he that he himself desires,

all unaware; he praises and is praised,

seeks and is the one that he is seeking;

kindles the flame and is consumed by it.

How many times, in vain, he leans to kiss

the pool’s deceptive surface or to plunge

his arms into the water, keen to clasp

the neck he glimpses but cannot embrace;

and ignorant of what it is he looks at,

he burns for what he sees there all the same,

aroused by the illusion that deceives him.

Why even try to stay this passing fancy?

Child, what you seek is nowhere to be found,

your beloved is lost when you avert your eyes:

that image of an image, without substance,

arrives with you and with you it remains,

and it will leave when you leave—if you can!

For neither his hunger nor his need for rest

can draw him off; prone on the shaded grass,

his insatiate stare fixed on that false shape,

he perishes by his own eyes.


Translated by Charles Martin. © 2004, Charles Martin. 



29 July 2014

what was i thinking when i said it didn't hurt?




I am an American aquarium drinker
I assassin down the avenue
I'm hidin' out in the big city blinkin'
What was I thinkin' when I let go of you?

Let's forget about the tongue-tied lightnin'
Let's undress just like cross-eyed strangers
This is not a joke so please stop smilin'
What was I thinkin' when I said it didn't hurt?

I want to glide through those brown eyes dreamin'
Take it from the inside, baby hold on tight
You were so right when you said, "I've been drinkin'"
What was I thinkin' when we said good night?

I wanna hold you in the Bible-black predawn
You're quite a quiet domino, bury me now
Take off your band-aid 'cause I don't believe in touchdowns
What was I thinkin' when we said hello?

I'd always thought that if I held you tightly
You'd always love me like you did back then
Then I fell asleep in the city kept blinkin'
What was I thinkin' when I let you back in?

I am trying to break your heart
I am trying to break your heart
But still I'd be lyin' if I said, it wasn't easy
I am trying to break your heart

Disposable dixie-cup drinkin'
I assassin down the avenue
I'm hidin' out in the big city blinkin'
What was I thinkin' when I let go of you?



i wonder what i haven't given yet





How the Trees on Summer Nights Turn into a Dark River

how you can never reach it, no matter how hard you try,
walking as fast as you can, but getting nowhere,
arms and legs pumping, sweat drizzling in rivulets;
each year, a little slower, more creaks and aches, less breath.
Ah, but these soft nights, air like a warm bath, the dusky wings
of bats careening crazily overhead, and you'd think the road
goes on forever. Apollinaire wrote, "What isn't given to love
is so much wasted," and I wonder what I haven't given yet.
A thin comma moon rises orange, a skinny slice of melon,
so delicious I could drown in its sweetness. Or eat the whole
thing, down to the rind. Always, this hunger for more.

by Barbara Crooker

27 July 2014

whale valley.

'Whale Valley' from Hannibal Lang on Vimeo.

couldn't find online a full version of this 15 minute short film from iceland.  it made the old man weep in his airline seat.   he says it's a beautiful film.  Hannibal Lang apparently posted it on vimeo.  But it was directed by Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson.