Category Archives: Uncategorized

Alberto Ríos

Faithful Forest (2016)
by Alberto Ríos

1.

I will wait, said wood, and it did.
Ten years, a hundred, a thousand, a million—

It did not matter. Time was not its measure,
Not its keeper, nor its master.

Wood was trees in those first days.
And when wood sang, it was leaves,

Which took flight and became birds.

2.

It is still forest here, the forest of used-to-be.
Its trees are the trees of memory.

Their branches—so many tongues, so many hands—
They still speak a story to those who will listen.

By only looking without listening, you will not hear the trees.
You will see only hard stone and flattened landscape,

But if you’re quiet, you will hear it.

3.

The leaves liked the wind, and went with it.
The trees grew more leaves, but wind took them all.

And then the bare trees were branches, which in their frenzy
Made people think of so many ideas—

Branches were lines on the paper of sky,
Drawing shapes on the shifting clouds

Until everyone agreed that they saw horses.

4.

Wood was also the keeper of fires.
So many people lived from what wood gave them.

The cousins of wood went so many places
Until almost nobody was left—that is the way

Of so many families. But wood was steadfast
Even though it was hard from loneliness. Still,

I will wait, said wood, and it did.

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Dan Albergotti

Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
by Dan Albergotti

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.

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Lynn Ungar

Pandemic
by Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

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David Ignatow

The Bagel
by David Ignatow

I stopped to pick up the bagel
rolling away in the wind,
annoyed with myself
for having dropped it
as if it were a portent.
Faster and faster it rolled,
with me running after it
bent low, gritting my teeth,
and I found myself doubled over
and rolling down the street
head over heels, one complete somersault
after another like a bagel
and strangely happy with myself.

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Winslow Homer

The Herring Net (1885)
by Winslow Homer
oil on canvas

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William Butler Yeats

He Reproves the Curlew (1896)
by William Butler Yeats

O curlew, cry no more in the air,
Or only to the water in the West;
Because your crying brings to my mind
passion-dimmed eyes and long heavy hair
That was shaken out over my breast:
There is enough evil in the crying of wind.

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Stromae

Homage to Cesária Évora in two formats

[A]
https://open.spotify.com/embed?uri=spotify:track:4zw0Ih25ilFwQdtkzzWA7s

[B]

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Etch A Sketch

Patience Lake encounters an Etch A Sketch artist…

IMG_9114

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Ada Limón

A Name (2017)
by Ada Limón

When Eve walked among
the animals and named them—
nightingale, redshouldered hawk,
fiddler crab, fallow deer—
I wonder if she ever wanted
them to speak back, looked into
their wide wonderful eyes and
whispered, Name me, name me.

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Iceberg Encounters

It took me a few sightings to appreciate that icebergs are as diverse as they are plentiful.  This means I started shooting iceberg portraits relatively late on our trip.  Here are a few highlights.

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Half-a-Million Penguins

More from the Antarctica notebook.

The next impossible photo to capture is the one that conveys what it feels like to stumble upon half-a-million penguins, which is what we did at St. Andrews Bay on South Georgia Island.

St. Andrews Bay was cut by two glaciers, which are now in retreat, leaving a wide gravel shore that is home to a massive king penguin colony. We learned that this is one of the largest penguin colonies in the world, holding roughly half-a-million penguins during its peak season (December and January). Quiet simply, visiting this many animals all at once boggles the mind, body and spirit.

But how do you capture this experience photographically? Again the internet provides lots of good attempts (image search “st andrews bay south georgia penguins“). Here’s one of my favorites from National Geographic:

And here’s one of my own photos taken from the gravel beach looking out across the colony:

While these images capture the density of the colony quite nicely, neither gives a sense of its expanse. Hopefully these photos do just that:

I took these photos from the deck of the ship as we sailed away from St. Andrews Bay. The first photo really tells the whole story: the multi colored specs at the bottom are penguins (!!); the massively retreating glacier in the middle of the photo is Heaney Glacier; and Sheridan Peak is at the top.

The second image was ‘nested’ in the first, and the third image ‘nested’ in the second, hopefully providing a three-step zoom effect on this landscape.

In the end I fared better at this task than the Penguins Porpoising, which in retrospect remains the true Holy Grail of Antarctica photography.

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Penguins Porpoising

The Holy Grail of Antarctica photography is the full-frame, head-on shot of penguins porpoising. I tried over and over to get it and came up with bupkis.

Penguins porpoise when they swim fast through the water and leap into the air. They porpoise in rafts, and they do so quickly. I’m not sure why penguins porpoise—maybe to get a clear look at their surroundings, or to escape predators, or because they can—but it is great fun to watch. Penguins are as graceful moving through the water as they are clumsy on land.

Image search “porpoising penguins” on the internet and you will see lots of great photos– but none of them are the Holy Grail.

There are two challenges to getting the perfect shot. I already mentioned the first; it is hard to snap porpoising penguins because they move through the water so quickly. The other challenge is distance and setting. It is hard to know where the penguins are and when they will pop up, and typically the setting is a huge distraction anyway. To illustrate this point, here’s one of my average photos of porpoising (I have a zillion such images from our trip):

Here is a zoom-in on a pair just bombing along:

And finally, here is a handful of similar images, but zoomed and cropped:

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January 23, 2017

IMG_9116

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January 23, 2017 · 11:00 pm

Louise Erdrich

Editorial: Here below are three passages from Louise Erdrich’s latest, LaRose (2016). She remains one of my favorites.  I read her books slowly because it’s no fun when they run out.

(p. 198) What She Learned. Before the first LaRose died, she had taught her daughter how to find guardian spirits in each place they walked, how to heal people with songs, with plants, what lichens to eat in an extremity of hunger, how to set snares, jig fish, tie nets, net fish, create fire out of sticks and curls of birchbark. How to sew, how to boil food with hot stones, how to weave reed mats and make birchbark pots. She taught her how to poison fish with plants, how to make arrows, a bow, shoot a rifle, how to use the wind when hunting, make a digging stick, dig certain roots, carve a flute, play it, bead a bandolier bag. She taught her how to tell from the calls of birds what animal had entered the woods, how to tell from the calls of birds which direction and what type of weather was approaching, how to tell from the calls of birds if you were going to die or if an enemy was on your trail. She learned how to keep a newborn from crying, how to amuse an older child, what to feed a child of each age, how to catch an eagle to take a feather, knock a partridge from a tree. How to carve a pipe bowl, burn the center of a sumac branch for the stem, how to make tobacco, make pemmican, how to harvest wild rice, dance, winnow, parch, and store it, and make tobacco for your pipe. How to carve tree taps, tap maples, collect sap, how to make syrup, sugar, how to soak a hide, scrape down a hide, how to grease it and cure it with the animal’s brains, how to make it soft and silky, how to smoke it, what to use it for. She taught her to make mittens, leggings, makazinan, a dress, a drum, a coat, a carry sack from the stomach of an elk, a caribou, a woods buffalo. She taught her how to leave behind her body when half awake or in sleep and fly around to investigate what was happening on the earth. She taught her how to dream, how to return from a dream, change the dream, or stay in the dream in order to save her life.

(p.227) He said this firmly, although he still didn’t know exactly what to do besides watch Nola. Sam Eagleboy had told him to sit still and open his mind if he had a problem. LaRose would come back to the grass nest that evening, after Maggie was gone. He would concentrate on the problem. Even if he couldn’t see them, he would ask those people he met in the woods. He would find out what the situation called for.

(p. 290) There are five LaRoses. First the LaRose who poisoned Mackinnon, went to mission school, married Wolfred, taught her children the shape of the world, and traveled that world as a set of stolen bones. Second, her daughter LaRose, who went to Carlisle. This LaRose got tuberculosis like her own mother, and like the first LaRose fought it off again and again. Lived long enough to become the mother of the third LaRose, who went to Fort Totten and bore the fourth LaRose, who eventually became the mother of Emmaline, the teacher of Romeo and Landreaux. The fourth LaRose also became the grandmother of the last LaRose, who was given to the Ravich family by his parents in exchange for a son accidentally killed.

In all of these LaRoses there was a tendency to fly above the earth. They could fly for hours when the right songs were drummed and sung to support them. Those songs are now waiting in the leaves, half lost, but the drumming of the water drum will never be lost. This ability to fly went back to the first LaRose, whose mother taught her to do it when her name was still Mirage, and who had learned this from her father, a jiisikid conjurer, who’d flung his spirit all the way around the world in 1798 and come back to tell his astonished drummers that it was no use, white people covered the earth like lice.

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Maggie Smith

Good Bones
by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

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Desert Island Playlist

Additions and reformatting on the D.I.P.  Links are to preferred versions of each piece in Spotify.  It appears that while my interests in classical music span all periods, they trend towards Hispanic composers in the 20th century.  Ahora sé.

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Laura Knight

The Yorkshire Coast (1929)
Poster Print

M29027-2488 001

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Update!

Jan 2011: https://chg7.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/tacking-to-starboard/

Today: http://variety.com/2014/tv/news/betsy-morgan-named-ceo-of-theblaze-1201375285/

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Last Night of the Proms

Soon after 2000 I connected with my father on the topic of The BBC Proms concerts hosted in the Royal Albert Hall in London. As it turns out we both followed broadcasts of The Proms, especially the Last Night, which includes such family favorites as Rule, Britannia! and Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem. We talked about one day going together.

Here’s a nice recording of this year’s production: Last Night of the 2014 BBC Proms.

Feel free to jump to the sing-alongs at the end (and sing out merrily as KDG would have).

[1:53:25] Rule, Britannia! (arr. Sargent)
[2:00:28] Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major (‘Land of Hope and Glory’)
[2:07:44] Jerusalem (orch. Elgar)

Update (10/1/14): WQXR and BBC audio clips for this broadcast have expired.  You can find Proms recordings on services like Spotify.

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George Herbert

Love (III)
by George Herbert, 1593 – 1633

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
  Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
  From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
  If I lacked anything.

“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
  Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
  I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
  “Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
  Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
  “My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
  So I did sit and eat.

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