Posts Tagged ‘poem’

Goethe Month: The in-between places

July 11, 2010


Photographed by Jim Furness at the Pinncales in CA.

Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust,
Die eine will sich von der andern trennen;
Die eine hält, in derber Liebeslust,
Sich an die Welt, mit klammernden Organen;
Die andre hebt gewaltsam sich vom Dust,
Zu den Gefilden hoher Ahnen.
O giebt es Geister in der Luft,
Die zwischen Erd’ und Himmel herrschend weben


Two souls dwell, alas, in my breast and their
Division tears my life in two.
One loves the world, it clutches her, it binds
Itself to her, clinging with furious lust;
The other desires to fly beyond the dust
Into the realm of high ancestral minds.
Are there no spirits moving in the air,
Ruling the region between earth and sky?


So steiget nieder aus dem goldnen Duft
Und führt mich weg, zu neuem buntem Leben!
Ja, wäre nur ein Zaubermantel mein!
Und trüg’ er mich in fremde Länder

Come down then to me from your golden mists on high,
Give me a magic cloak to carry me
Away to some far place, some land untold,

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Act 1: Scene 5, 1110-1125.)

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Ginsberg and Galliani edition

July 7, 2010


The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction

the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.


Who can deny?
In dreams
it touches
the body,
in thought
constructs
a miracle,
in imagination
anguishes
till born
in human–
looks out of the heart
burning with purity–
for the burden of life
is love,

but we carry the weight
wearily,
and so must rest
in the arms of love
at last,
must rest in the arms
of love.


No rest
without love,
no sleep
without dreams
of love–
be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
or machines,
the final wish
is love
–cannot be bitter,
cannot deny,
cannot withhold
if denied:

the weight is too heavy


–must give
for no return
as thought
is given
in solitude
in all the excellence
of its excess.

The warm bodies
shine together
in the darkness,
the hand moves
to the center
of the flesh,
the skin trembles
in happiness
and the soul comes
joyful to the eye–


yes, yes,
that’s what
I wanted,
I always wanted,
I always wanted,
to return
to the body
where I was born.

(“Song” by Allan Ginsberg.)

All photos by Francesca Galliani.

William Blake Month: “a Human fire fierce glowing”

June 25, 2010


“Leah bloodbath” by Nicole Lesser

America faints! enrag’d the Zenith grew.
As human blood shooting its veins all ’round the orbed heaven

Red rose the clouds from the Atlantic in vast wheels of blood
And in the red clouds rose a Wonder o’er the Atlantic sea;


Kate Moss by Ryan McGinley
Intense! Naked! a Human fire fierce glowing, as the wedge
Of iron heated in the furnace; his terrible limbs were fire
With myriads of cloudy terrors banners dark & towers
Surrounded; heat but not light went thro’ the murky atmosphere.

(William Blake, excerpt from “America: A Prophecy.”)

Damn. Sounds like America is in for it, yes? To be continued.

William Blake Month: She who burns with youth and knows no fixed lot; is bound / In spells of law to one she loathes

June 24, 2010

Some thoughts from Mr. Blake on free love, fidelity, procreative pressure, and the institution of marriage as it functioned (and did not) for ladies during his lifetime:


Jane Birikin and the dread Serge G.

… She who burns with youth and knows no fixed lot;
is bound
In spells of law to one she loathes:
and must she drag the chain
Of life, in weary lust!


Must chilling murderous thoughts obscure
The clear heaven of her eternal spring?
to bear the wintry rage
Of a harsh terror driv’n to madness, bound to hold a rod
Over her shrinking shoulders all the day;


Marilyn and Arthur on their wedding day. Marilyn’s dress was ivory but her veil arrived white, so rather than freak out or buy a new one she soaked it in tea overnight. She was an orphan and imminently practical.

& All the night
To turn the wheel of false desire: and longings
that wake her womb
To the abhorred birth of cherubs in the human form
That live a pestilence & die a meteor & are no more.

(William Blake, excerpt from Visions of the Daughters of Albion. 1793. Shockingly self-published.)


The Graduate (Kubrick, 1967).EDIT: It was directed by Mike Nichols, not Stanley Kubrick. Jesus-christ-bananas. How that got past me is a mystery. Mucho mas mucho thanks to Peteski for the heads-up!

Happy bride month, am I right? Goin’ to the chapel…

In all seriousness, William Blake was a sort of pre-feminist and a great admirer of Mary Wollstonecraft but for all his forward-thinking, he could behave curiously backwardly and contemporarily to the times in his personal life, almost as if his own wife, Catherine, did not count in his reckoning of the equalities of the opposite sex.


Audrey and Mel. She looks terribly unhappy and trapped. I do not believe this was their wedding day but rather shortly before their breakup in an ad for Givenchy’s L’Interdit, the first celebrity fragrance. I wear Givenchy Amarige when I am Really Me. But that is very rare. So often it is best to be Other Me-s, so I roll with Michael by Michael Kors.

As an example, when they had trouble conceiving, Blake openly advocated bringing another, younger woman into their marriage and relegating Catherine to second-class status in a different bedroom. My guess is he backed up his proposal by citing the timeless, good ol’ Rachel/Leah biblical argument, which reminds me that I get to hit Handmaid’s Tale next month.


Humbert and Lo’s toes. Lolita (Kubrick, 1962).

Okay, I went in to more insomnia-fueled bookfoolery and this entry is now uncomfortably longer than I’d prefer a Blake one to be. I’m going to split it up. Meet me in the next post. More Kubrick, even (I didn’t intend for that to happen but now that it has I’m on board). (edit: again, The Graduate is directed by Mike Nichols. Not Stanley Kubrick.)

William Blake Month: “The Fly”

June 22, 2010

Late post, am I right? I’ve been invovled in some deep bookfoolery which I will explain below. The heading of each of the chapters in a book I read last night/today is followed by a quote, and one such quote was from this poem of Blake’s.


via

Little Fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?


For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want
Of thought is death;


via

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

(William Blake, “The Fly.”)

So — the lateness in the day. Yes. Sorry, but I am not even firing on four let alone six cyllinders today. See, I went against all my usual instincts and quickly finished my yearly series last night wayyy ahead of time and I refuse to let that happen with my other obligations, so when I dropped the last in the series to the floor, I dug in to my pile and instead of snatching up The Tommyknockers (absolutely not touching it until July 2nd or 3rd or I will not be where I need to be for the 4th and I cannot afford any more Bad Days), I started this book my cousin Mary loaned me called The Descent.

I was initially skeptical and, at points, flirting with grogginess from the overabundance of sleep-inducing substances I pour down my throat every night in an effort to quiet the seven-headed rock dragon of my insomnia which makes the Balrog look like a Pound Puppy, but it was amazing shit, full of caves and sci-fi creatures and anthropology and linguistics and religious themes and Hell and mountaineers and Jesuits and everything else that rings my bell, and before I knew it I was completely sucked in to the throat of it. I powered through the layers of tylenol pm, Miller, and a slug of Ny-Quil I’d taken earlier, ignoring my sandy eyelids because I Couldn’t Stop Reading, and, having finally shook off any need for sleep and finished the last sentence and closed the book thoughtfully at around nine this morning, I can confidently say I’m a believer.


via

I slid it under my bed and lay reflecting on what I’d read for a few minutes, because I felt like there had been some unresolved plot points, then I suddenly did this herky jerky twitch and thought, “How many standalone science fiction novels are that long? Plus … it was set in ’99, but the cover was new. No dog-eared pages. Mary would’ve loaned it to me years ago if she hadn’t just recently bought and read it. It’s a new book.” Reprint. Why?


via

Totally excited by this chain of thought, I flipped my ass in the air, dove under my bed and grabbed the book back out of my piles and checked the front. HELL YES: among the author’s other books listed by the publisher is one titled The Ascent, which I think it is fair to conjecture can only be a sequel, so now that I’ve finished all the housework and cooking I’d planned previously to do in the hours of the morning I’d spent reading, I’m going to cruise out to the used book store by my house and see about scaring that bitch up for tonight — and see if there are more. Keep you posted. Don’t worry about the insomnia thing: I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead.

William Blake Month: “The Tyger”

June 21, 2010

Holy cow, how’d I forget this one. You’ve probably been waitin’ for it. Exciting trivia question: what connection to Blake made me use the above picture from Manhunter (Michael Mann, 1986). Answer will be posted up tomorrow if you don’t already know it.


via

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


via.

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?


And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart,
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?


What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?


When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?


via

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake Month: Binding with briars my joys and desires

June 19, 2010


via

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.


In the ruins of St. Ebba’s Lunatic Asylum. Epsom, Surrey, England.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore,


Photographed by Ellen von Unwerth for her book Revenge.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.

(William Blake, “The Garden of Love.”)

Binding with briars my joys and desires.

Who will take your dreams away?

William Blake Month: the Poetic Genius is the true Man

June 17, 2010


Lindsay Lohan photographed by Ellen von Unwerth for GQ.

PRINCIPLE 1st
That the Poetic Genius is
the true Man. and that
the body or outward form
of Man is derived from the
Poetic Genius.


James Dean.

PRINCIPLE 2nd
As all men are alike in
outward form, So (and
with the same infinite
variety) all are alike in
the Poetic Genius.

(William Blake, excerpt from “All Religions Are One.”)

William Blake Month: Fathers and Friends; Mothers & Infants; Kings & Warriors

June 16, 2010


Photographed by Giasco Bertoli. Ladies’ Gun Club. The term is “Firearms enthusiast.” Never “Gun Nut.”

Forth from the dead dust rattling bones to bones
Join: shaking convuls’d the shivering clay breathes
And all flesh naked stands; Fathers and Friends;
Mothers & Infants; Kings & Warriors;


The Grave is a woman in Blake’s vision. cf: Kali, Shiva, Sekhmet, feral cats who eat their kittens, bathtub ladies from Texas making little angels to be the stars in their hellbound crowns — the Mother/Destroyer, yes? Just like Earth. Just like life.

The Grave shrieks with delight, & shakes
Her hollow womb, & clasps the solid stem;
Her bosom swells with wild desire;
And milk & blood & glandous wine,
In rivers rush & shout & dance,
On mountain, dale and plain.
The SONG of LOS is Ended

(William Blake, excerpt from “The Song of Los.”)

“The Song of Los” is the last of Blake’s so-called Continental Prophesies, where he shared his visions of the future for America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The excerpt just quoted concludes his prophecy for Asia and Africa.

Golly, good thing Blake was wrong, am I right. Agony and apocalypse, with naked children and flames and howls and shivering clay? In Africa and Asia? What a nut. How off base.

Ugh. Sorry, but as much as I enjoyed putting together DeDe Lind’s post, her comments about the Vietnam War and my subsequent reflections on those words with the ramifications of her centerfold’s popularity has resulted in a chain of thought about the twentieth century and where we’ll go next that has put me in kind of a foul mood. I will try to improve.




Catholic Charities donations for aid to orphans in Asia, wherein if you click through you can specifically target children in Vietnam. (It is very difficult to provide accounted-for aid there due to the corruption of many alleged non-profits run-roughshod-over by the government in their headquarters of what is now called Ho Chi Minh City — formerly Saigon — but I know from long interactions that this branch of this particular outfit is trustworthy.)

The International Red Cross/Red Crescent, click through to see about making donations to help efforts to feed the starving children in the Sudan.

Is your guilt assuaged? Mine’s not. Not just yet.

William Blake Month: Alas! the Female Martyr

June 15, 2010


For a Tear is an Intellectual thing;
And a Sigh is the Sword of an Angel King
And the bitter groan of a Martyr’s woe
Is an Arrow from the Almighty’s Bow.

(William Blake, excerpt from “To the Deists,” in Jerusalem: The Emanation of The Giant Albion.)


Alas! the Female Martyr
Is She also the Divine Image?

(William Blake, For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise.)

The Girls of Summer: Cathy Larmouth, Miss June 1981

June 14, 2010

This post took forever to put together because there are so many pictures and Cathy Larmouth is so funny and genuine in the interview. Hope you find her as absorbing as I did.


Photographed by Ken Marcus.

The lovely and talented Cathy Larmouth was Playboy’s Miss June, 1981. She is a really fun-loving gal, and she is unbelievably quick-witted, as I hope you’ll see.

I mainly would like her hilarious write-up (the hilarity comes from her quotes and jokes) to do the majority of the talking in this post.

Even if you normally skip the text, give some of what Ms. Larmouth has to say a whirl, because she is a hoot and a holler, a self-deprecating and talented young genius with a sweet heart and a good head on her shoulders.


“I don’t want to be famous, don’t particularly want to be an actress or a model. I just want a good man and a family. I hardly think showin’ your bazongas to 6,000,000 people qualifies anybody as a celebrity. On the other hand, it’s a great way to meet people!”

(“Lady of the Lake.” Playboy, June 1981.)


Cathy’s heritage is English, French and Mohawk Indian. She was the youngest of four children (she has three older brothers), and admits that she was spoiled, especially by her father, who died when she was 22.

(Ibid.)


“I loved my father more than anyone,” she says, “and maybe I still do. He was a warm, funny, very smart man. I always carry a poem I wrote to him after he died, so in case I ever get hit by a truck or something, whoever finds my identification will know that I was a person who had a heart.”

(Ibid.)

Oh, lord, all that dust again.


My favorite shot. This should have been the centerfold.

Cathy admits she’s a hopeless romantic, who “should have been born 40 or 50 years ago. … My favorite songs are from the Thirties, Forties and Fifties; my favorite bands are Glenn Miller’s and Nat ‘King’ Cole’s and my all-time favorite piece is Clair de Lune, by Debussy.”

(Ibid.)


Without too much persuasion, Cathy can be induced to sing one of her favorite oldies, such as “Cry Me a River” or “More Than You Know”. She has a good voice and loves to imitate various female pop stars, ranging from Dolly Parton to Helen Reddy.
“I’ve never done this stuff on a stage,” she says, “and I probably never will.”

(Ibid.)

Hooray for Dolly Parton! And if you are having trouble placing Helen Reddy, she was Nora in the Disney flick Pete’s Dragon (Don Chaffey, 1977). You know Lampie — played by Mickey Rooney — the lighthouse-keeper’s adult daughter who was waiting for her long-thought-dead fiance Paul to sail back to Passimoquoddy? — “I’ll be your candle on the water/my love for you will always burn…” Don’t front like you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about.


(… cont’d) “It’s mostly for the shower.”

Still, it’s a better-than-average voice. Why not try for a singing career?

“I hate to say this,” she answers, “but the truth is, I’m not motivated. I’m basically lazy! I’d like to write a great satirical novel, for instance, but I’d never get around to it.”

(Ibid.)

Get ready for the most hilarious part, where she spontaneously makes up a shitty poem on purpose:

“I write poetry that isn’t half bad, and I realize that all girls write poetry, but I think mine’s a cut above that awful stuff you see in the women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan, stuff like —

(Ibid.)


‘I looked out the window at where your Rolls once sat
The sight of your tooth marks on the Gouda cheese
Nostalgia and pain
I dropped two ‘Ludes
and turned on the dishwasher.’

— You know? that kind of stuff.”

(Ibid.)


We suggest that maybe Cathy has a future as a poetic humorist. She demurs. “Oh, come on. That’s the hang-up most everybody in Los Angeles has. Everybody thinks she can sing, write and act, and that she’s beautiful.”

(Ibid.)


“The fact is that very few people get to be really good at any one of those things. And only a few people are really all that attractive, and they tend to float through life without ever developing themselves.”

(Ibid.)

Truth bombs comin’at’cha live. Adulthood blows, but please remember that no matter how downtrodden you feel you are still NOT YOUR JOB! Quit and go on tour.


I’m sure I would have developed my potential a lot more if I looked more like, say, Lily Tomlin than Little Annie Fanny. Unfortunately, until I was about 20, that’s what I looked like: a comic character.”

(Ibid.)


“I was 5’8″ when I was 15 and I weighed about 96 pounds, at least ten of which were breasts. I had a low-cut dress with a push-up bra that I wore to school sometimes. Once, in my math class (which I wasn’t doing so well at), my teacher, who was a man, stopped beside my desk and whispered, ‘If you wear that dress to my class twice a week, I’ll give you an A.'”

(Ibid.)


“Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I did and he did! Isn’t that awful?” She giggles mischievously.

(Ibid.)

Someday we’ll find it, a Muppet connection …

Cathy wants to give special thanks to [photographer Ken] Marcus. “He is one of the smartest, nicest, funniest men I have ever met. When he found out that I have a pretty big appetite, he nicknamed me Miss Piggy!”

(Ibid.)


“Soon, everyone at Playboy Studio West was calling me Miss Piggy. Ken and the other Playboy staffers helped me live up to my nickname by taking me to all my favorite restaurants and letting me eat all I could. I once ate an $80 lunch! You might say I can put it away!”

(Ibid.)


“So, after the shooting, they had a party for me at Studio West, and someone had a cake made with a picture of Miss Piggy on it. Ken shoved my face into the cake! I didn’t mind — I love slapstick.”

(Ibid.)

What a great and good-natured woman, am I right?


“I’m not against E.R.A., but the fact is that men are very different from women. For instance, a lot of women may hate my guts for saying this, but I think women are more emotional than men. I don’t think blurring the sex roles makes any sense. Pretty soon, you’ll be calling your grandmother your grandperson. That’s not my style.”

(Ibid.)


“One can’t just go through life being led by one’s chest! At the end of my life, I’d much rather look back and see that I’d been a good wife and a good mother than that I’d been a model.”

(Ibid.)

A very beautiful personal epitaph.

Cover model is the Playmate of the Year, photographed by Phillip Dixon. In 1981, the PMOY, the lovely and talented Terri Welles (Miss May 1980), was given a cash prize and a brand-spank-banking new Porsche 924 Turbo. I said goddamn. Eventually, Playboy Enterprises sued her, like in 1996 or 1998. Look it up. Interesting shit.

What’s really freaky for me is that while sussing out what was what in Ms. Larmouth’s Playboy issue, I stumbled over the May issue of this same year and it has a featured interview with philosopher and psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, which I’d mentioned in the bookworm post I had promised my dear aunt I’d start boning up on her death and grief writings. Wild coincidence, but a great jumping-off point for something on which I’ve been dragging my feet for nearly a decade. So I’m’a hit that now after I post up a Daily Batman and plan to be outie for the night. Feels like fate. Mysterious ways, am I right??

Cathy’s daughter Hayley confirms that Ms. Larmouth passed away in Utah following a heart attack January 4, 2007, at the age of 53. Ms. Larmouth had numerous complications in her declining health, including a hole in her heart. I hope that because her health problems were an early warning, she was able to at least partially prepare herself and her family for the loss. R.I.P. to a very special gal.

William Blake Month: the Spider’s anxious little heart

June 13, 2010


Gina Gershon photographed by Ellen Von Unwerth.

The Spider sits in his laboured Web,
eager watching for the Fly
Presently comes a famished Bird
& takes away the Spider
His Web is left all desolate,
that his little anxious heart
So careful wove;
& spread it out with sighs and weariness.

(William Blake, “Enion’s Lament.”)

I love this poem because it’s an unusual perspective: you begin by feeling repulsion for the spider, waiting in his web for a fly, and you end by pitying him. The idea of a spider having an anxious heart and sighing and being weary is surprising and touching. Sympathy for the devil.

Daily Batman: Hidden treasures of the heart

June 11, 2010


Art by Shelton Bryant.

The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.

But, there are hours of lonely musing,
Such as in evening silence come,
When, soft as birds their pinions closing,
The heart’s best feelings gather home.

(Charlotte Brontë, excerpt from “Evening Solace.”)

William Blake Month: Sun-flower

June 11, 2010


Kate Dillon photographed by Ellen von Unwerth.

Ah! Sun-flower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow
Arise from their graves and aspire
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

(William Blake, “Ah! Sun-flower.”)

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day — William Blake Month: A Proverb of Hell

June 9, 2010

One of the “Proverbs of Hell,” from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.


“Prisons are built with stones of law, brothels with bricks of religion.”

I think the door does protest too much. Like, I didn’t even ask, dude.

William Blake Month: “A Poison Tree”

June 8, 2010


I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe;
I told it not, my wrath did grow.


And I water’d it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with my smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright;
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,


And into my garden stole
When the night had veil’d the pole:
In the morning, glad I see
My foe outstretch’d beneath the tree.

(William Blake, “A Poison Tree.”)



(I was concerned that the photo credits would break up the rhythm and impact of the poem, so I’m putting them down here.)

top: Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, Don Juan ou Si Don Juan était une femme…, aka Female Don Juan, aka If Don Juan Was A Woman (Roger Vadim, 1973).

second from top: Jacqueline Sassard and Stéphane Audran, Les Biches (Claude Chabrol, 1968). Spoiler: one is about to stab the other in the back. Interpret freely and watch for yourself.

third: “Grand Apple Face” by patron saint Sam Haskins. In-camera photo montage before the age of photoshop. Amazing. RIP.

last: “Poisoned with love” by miss- alienation on the d.a.

William Blake Month: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

June 6, 2010


“Birth of an Angel” photographed by Daniel Ilinca.

I have always found that Angels have the vanity to speak of themselves as the only wise; this they do with a confident insolence…


Asia Argento.

Once I saw a Devil in a flame of fire, who arose before an Angel that sat on a cloud. And the Devil utter’d these words, “The worship of God is: Honouring his gifts in other men each according to his genius, and loving the greatest men best; those who envy or calumniate great men hate God, for there is no other God.”

… When he had so spoken, I beheld the Angel, who stretched out his arms, embracing the flame of fire & he was consumed and arose as Elijah.


Credit lost.

This Angel, who is now become a Devil, is my particular friend: we often read the Bible together in its infernal or diabolical sense, which the world shall have if they behave well.

I have also The Bible of Hell — which the world shall have whether they will or no.

(William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell excerpt.)

William Blake Month: “Rose, thou art sick”

June 4, 2010


Marilyn Monroe on her honeymoon. Arthur Miller in background.

O rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

(William Blake, “The Sick Rose.”)

This is a bad day. Bad things are happening. Shocking, incomprehensible things miles away, coming at a time when I thought accords were being reached and newer, happier stages begun. I don’t understand any of it and there’s nothing I can do to make it better because none of it is anything I’ve done, even though it will all deeply impact me for a long time to come. Once again, I do not control the events of my own life.


Photographed by Andre de Dienes.

All I can do is keep praying for the safety of people I care about, even if I sense they would not care either way about my concern, and hope for peaceful resolutions to their conflicts. I also need to remember that I have my own personal life with its own dreams and priorities, and make sure I am tending to those in order to succeed on my own, and putting a true emphasis on the good, kind, wonderful people involved in my immediate present with the proper attention and attitude. I can’t spend all my time numb, indifferent to food, and losing hair and sleep over lives and behaviors that I am not sure I can ever understand.

My real life is not knots in my stomach and pacing around, but is the glad things that bring me joy; my real self and its happiness comes from my friends and family and spending time doing the things I love, like writing, reading, teaching, and photography. Not agonizing and gaining grey hairs over pre-existing situations that I could never better in a month of Sundays. It’s not that I will stop trying, it’s just that I will stop staking my identity and emotions on it. That’s not who I am. A happy person who deliberately seeks friends and family in a positive and creative environment: that is who I really am. I have to remind myself of that.

Soon, I will take my grandmother and we will go pick up kidlet from her last day of kindergarten, and take her out for a girls’ lunch, and I will lay these dark times aside to let her light shine on me for awhile.

William Blake Month: Bow of burning gold

June 3, 2010


Photographed by Philiberte de Flaugergues, c. 1920s.

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

(William Blake, “Jerusalem.”)

Oh, hey — it’s William Blake month starting now.

Langston Hughes Month: “Dinner Guest: Me”

June 3, 2010


Girls like a boy who reads. Is that Russian?

I know I am
The Negro Problem
Being wined and dined,
Answering the usual questions
That come to white mind
Which seeks demurely
To Probe in polite way
The why and wherewithal
Of darkness U.S.A.–
Wondering how things got this way
In current democratic night,
Murmuring gently
Over fraises du bois,
“I’m so ashamed of being white.”


Langston Hughes and Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart), 1962.

The lobster is delicious,
The wine divine,
And center of attention
At the damask table, mine.
To be a Problem on
Park Avenue at eight
Is not so bad.
Solutions to the Problem,
Of course, wait.

(Langston Hughes, “Dinner Guest: Me.”)


Langston Hughes and small friends at the Children’s Garden in Harlem, 1955.

When I first read that poem while loosely planning Langston Hughes Month, it made me think of the chapter in Invisible Man where Ellison’s narrator encounters the gay son of a man who he thinks will give him a job in the city, but in fact, the man has been instructed to reject the narrator. The man’s son tells the narrator the truth, then attempts to compare his own experiences as an oppressed homosexual with the narrator’s. The comparison comes off cheap and condescending in the man’s son’s delivery, and the narrator does not trust him. I feel like that’s somewhat of the same experience Hughes describes here.