01 March 2015

Ida. the old man can't--won't get over this. one of the most beautiful films ever.

Excerpts from David Denby's NYT review of May 2014

"We are so used to constant movement and compulsive cutting in American movies that the stillness of the great new Polish film “Ida” comes as something of a shock. I can’t recall a movie that makes such expressive use of silence and portraiture; from the beginning, I was thrown into a state of awe by the movie’s fervent austerity. Friends have reported similar reactions: if not awe, then at least extreme concentration and satisfaction. This compact masterpiece has the curt definition and the finality of a reckoning—a reckoning in which anger and mourning blend together. The director, Pawel Pawlikowski, left Poland years ago, for England, where he linked up with the English-born playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz."  

"How can you capture a nation’s spirit by telling a singular story? By making every shot as definitive as an icon. “I’m not emotionally excited by the power of cinema’s tricks anymore,” Pawlikowski has said. The director and his fledgling cinematographer, Lukasz Zal, shot the movie in hard-focus black and white; they have produced images so distinct and powerful that they sharpen our senses. “Ida” might be called static were it not for the currents of emotion from shot to shot, which electrify the women’s relation to each other throughout. Clearing away clutter, Pawlikowski almost never moves the camera; many of the scenes are just long-lasting shots, fed by a single light source that often puts the faces in partial shadow (what we understand of these two women will always be limited). Sometimes the figures are positioned at the bottom of the frame, with enormous gray Polish skies above them, as if the entire burden of a cursed country weighed on its people."

David Denby NYT

turn sad songs to lullabies.

this old house is cold and empty

10 January 2015

otay mountain truck trail. the old man gets away for the day.

 a good outing.  very few but very nice people.  helpful border patrol officers.  green in january after our november and december rains.  beautiful views.  fun ride back down hwy 94.
 starting up otay mountain truck trail from the otay lakes road side.  (the entrance is on the right (south) side of the road just after you start to see the "thousand trails" campground but before you pass the entrance to it)
 the road is really well maintained.  relaxing, easy ride.  mirrors on the blind turns.
view from the saddle.  three ways down from here. otay lakes in the middle distance.

the view south toward mexico
looking west(ish) from the summit near the antenna array

23 November 2014

"my esteemed--not by me--employer" from "Night of the Iguana"

from "Night of the Iguana"

Represent as you must: dusk, dying, ends/ and row us into winter’s water


Summer-long the gulls’ old umbra cry
unraveled ease
but certain waves went by, then by.
The sky shook out the days.

The seabirds’ hunger rose in rings,
flung rock-clams to their shatterings,
raked gullets full, the bone-bills scraped.

High noon: oceans of time escaped.


All winter we slept benched together,
breakers, sleepdrunk children in a car
not conscious where they go.

We kneaded bread, kept out the weather,
while old suspicions huddled by the door,
mice in the snow.


In spring, the leaving bloomed—
oak leaf unfurled, a foot, resplendent
vigorous, aching to shake loose
but still dependent.

One morning moongreen loaves
rose into bones that rose to lift
our skin like sleeves,
our time together’s revenant.


Perennial fall, come cool the cliffs,
bring quiet, sulfur, early dark.
Represent as you must: dusk, dying, ends
and row us into winter’s water:

The body, wind-whipped, forms stiff peaks,
ice settles in the marrow bone.
At the chest, the live stone breaks against the beak,
beak breaks against stone.

Maggie Dietz, “Seasonal,” from Perennial Fall (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

08 November 2014

in lieu of the people themselves



A translator who has a phobia of moths
spent three years translating a book with a moth motif.
It’s ironic, she has said, that she knew more about the moths
than the author of the original, who was merely fascinated.
The translation contained a greater variety of moths than the original,
drawn from suggestions she had made, some of which were in fact
too perfect and changed back before it went to print.

Her moths, the ones that were too aptly named,
meant too much, her moths that she hated, where are they now?
The same place as all the versions of people
that have been undressed and slept with, in lieu of the people
themselves, by others. That must include a version
of almost everyone, lots of versions of some people,
some only a flutter, animated then decided against.
Source: Poetry (October 2014).

06 November 2014

the cost

Never give all the Heart

Never give all the heart, for love 
Will hardly seem worth thinking of 
To passionate women if it seem 
Certain, and they never dream 
That it fades out from kiss to kiss; 
For everything that’s lovely is 
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight. 
O never give the heart outright, 
For they, for all smooth lips can say, 
Have given their hearts up to the play. 
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love? 
He that made this knows all the cost, 
For he gave all his heart and lost.

13 October 2014

The daylight needs no praise, and so we praise it always-- greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon.

(looking south from pb point stairs)


The world does not need words. It articulates itself
in sunlight, leaves, and shadows. The stones on the path
are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted.
The fluent leaves speak only the dialect of pure being.
The kiss is still fully itself though no words were spoken.

And one word transforms it into something less or other--
illicit, chaste, perfunctory, conjugal, covert.
Even calling it a kiss betrays the fluster of hands
glancing the skin or gripping a shoulder, the slow
arching of neck or knee, the silent touching of tongues.

Yet the stones remain less real to those who cannot
name them, or read the mute syllables graven in silica.
To see a red stone is less than seeing it as jasper--
metamorphic quartz, cousin to the flint the Kiowa
carved as arrowheads. To name is to know and remember.

The sunlight needs no praise piercing the rain clouds,
painting the rocks and leaves with light, then dissolving
each lucent droplet back into the clouds that engendered it.
The daylight needs no praise, and so we praise it always--
greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon.

--Dana Gioia

06 October 2014

richer for regret

The Sirens

by Richard Wilbur

I never knew the road
From which the whole earth didn't call away,
With wild birds rounding the hill crowns,
Haling out of the heart an old dismay,
Or the shore somewhere pounding its slow code,
Or low-lighted towns
Seeming to tell me, stay.

Lands I have never seen
And shall not see, loves I will not forget
All I have missed, or slighted, or foregone
Call to me now. And weaken me. And yet
I would not walk a road without a scene.
I listen going on,
The richer for regret.

"The Sirens" by Richard Wilbur from Ceremony and Other Poems. © Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1950.

05 October 2014

it takes more than half a century. "washing the elephant" by Barbara Ras (and more eastern sierra photos)

upper horse meadows.  near lee vining, ca.

Washing the Elephant

Isn’t it always the heart that wants to wash
the elephant, begging the body to do it
with soap and water, a ladder, hands,
in tree shade big enough for the vast savannas
of your sadness, the strangler fig of your guilt,
the cratered full moon’s light fuelling
the windy spooling memory of elephant?

What if Father Quinn had said, “Of course you’ll recognize
your parents in Heaven,” instead of
“Being one with God will make your mother and father
pointless.” That was back when I was young enough
to love them absolutely though still fear for their place
in Heaven, imagining their souls like sponges full
of something resembling street water after rain.

Still my mother sent me every Saturday to confess,
to wring the sins out of my small baffled soul, and I made up lies
about lying, disobeying, chewing gum in church, to offer them
as carefully as I handed over the knotted handkerchief of coins
to the grocer when my mother sent me for a loaf of Wonder,
Land of Lakes, and two Camels.

If guilt is the damage of childhood, then eros is the fall of adolescence.
Or the fall begins there, and never ends, desire after desire parading
through a lifetime like the Ringling Brothers elephants
made to walk through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel
and down Thirty-fourth Street to the Garden.
So much of our desire like their bulky, shadowy walking
after midnight, exiled from the wild and destined
for a circus with its tawdry gaudiness, its unspoken

It takes more than half a century to figure out who they were,
the few real loves-of-your-life, and how much of the rest—
the mad breaking-heart stickiness—falls away, slowly,
unnoticed, the way you lose your taste for things
like popsicles unthinkingly.
And though dailiness may have no place
for the ones who have etched themselves in the laugh lines
and frown lines on the face that’s harder and harder
to claim as your own, often one love-of-your-life
will appear in a dream, arriving
with the weight and certitude of an elephant,
and it’s always the heart that wants to go out and wash
the huge mysteriousness of what they meant, those memories
that have only memories to feed them, and only you to keep them clean.

by Barbara Ras  

March 15, 2010

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/poetry/2010/03/15/100315po_poem_ras#ixzz0n58NmtWI

gibbs lake. near lee vining, ca.
fall colors on the trail to gibbs lake.

 gibbs lake.

june lake brewing co. the old man recommends the black rye and the stout. nice guys.   http://www.junelakebrewing.com
 minaret vista near mammoth lakes, ca.

minaret vista.

29 September 2014

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

Gagging Order
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

(view from Cairnpapple in the Bathgate hills, Scotland)


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
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
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
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
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

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

(in sequoia natl park)

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