Friday, January 24, 2020

Poem for Friday, 1917, Brookside

Poem for Adlai Stevenson and Yellow Jackets
By David Young

It's summer, 1956, in Maine, a camp resort
on Belgrade Lakes, and I am cleaning fish,
part of my job, along with luggage, firewood,
Sunday ice cream, waking everyone
by jogging around the island every morning
swinging a rattle I hold in front of me
to break the nightly spider threads.
Adlai Stevenson is being nominated,
but won't, again, beat Eisenhower,
sad fact I'm half aware of, steeped as I am
in Russian novels, bathing in the tea-
brown lake, startling a deer and chasing it by canoe
as it swims from the island to the mainland.
I'm good at cleaning fish: lake trout,
those beautiful deep swimmers, brown trout,
I can fillet them and take them to the cook
and the grateful fisherman may send a piece
back from his table to mine, a salute.
I clean in a swarm of yellow jackets,
sure they won't sting me, so they don't,
though they can't resist the fish, the slime,
the guts that drop into the bucket, they're mad
for meat, fresh death, they swarm around
whenever I work at this outdoor sink
with somebody's loving catch.
Later this summer we'll find their nest
and burn it one night with a blowtorch
applied to the entrance, the paper hotel
glowing with fire and smoke like a lantern,
full of the death-bees, hornets, whatever they are,
that drop like little coals
and an oily smoke that rolls through the trees
into the night of the last American summer
next to this one, 36 years away, to show me
time is a pomegranate, many-chambered,
nothing like what I thought.

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I'm running late on everything tonight though it was a good day! I had a lovely long lunch with two friends at the cafe in Nordstrom, where we caught up on politics, musicals, family stuff, and various forms of fun, then I had to do a couple of chores in the mall and I stopped to do a Heatran raid so I didn't get home till after 5, right when Paul arrived, to feed our starving cats.

And then we decided to see 1917. I thought I was going to think that, after Dunkirk and Hacksaw Ridge, that it was another meaningful but violent war movie with actors I like. I had avoided reviews, so I didn't realize that it was filmed in long takes, which is so effective for propelling these events. Of the nominees, Mendes better win best director or I'm going to be really annoyed.

On the way in, we ran into a neighbor who gets CBS All Access who knows we're Trekkies, so we watched the first episode of Picard. It's neither as bad as the haters claim nor as good as the believers preach; it feels more like watching Xavier than Picard, but it's not boring. I could watch next week or not and be fine either way. Some winter flowers and outdoor color from Brookside Gardens:

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Poem for Thursday, Bombshell, War and Pieces

Aurora Borealis
By Herman Melville

Commemorative of the Dissolution of Armies at the Peace
May, 1865

What power disbands the Northern Lights
  After their steely play?
The lonely watcher feels an awe
  Of Nature's sway,
    As when appearing,
    He marked their flashed uprearing
In the cold gloom—
  Retreatings and advancings,
(Like dallyings of doom),
  Transitions and enhancings,
    And bloody ray.
The phantom-host has faded quite,
  Splendor and Terror gone—
Portent or promise—and gives way
  To pale, meek Dawn;
    The coming, going,
    Alike in wonder showing—
Alike the God,
  Decreeing and commanding
The million blades that glowed,
  The muster and disbanding—
    Midnight and Morn.

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I had a fairly quiet Wednesday, which was what I planned -- I had two laundries to fold and I wanted to make a necklace using the beads I got at Michaels on Tuesday, though I ended up having to go back to Michaels because I was about 20 tiny white beads short (fortunately they gave me a coupon yesterday so the tube was less than $2). And the necklace got made and the laundries got put away, so that's all good!

We decided to see Bombshell, having seen The Loudest Voice; the acting, particularly Theron's, is excellent, though I think Crowe's Ailes, which had a lot more time to develop, is more nuanced than Lithgow's and it was interesting seeing the harassment case in the larger context of the climate of white male privilege at Fox News. We got back in time for enough of this week's Stumptown to follow it.

Daniel messaged so we'd know he was already home when the shooting in Seattle started. At Hillwood earlier this month, the dining room, which was ostensibly decorated for Christmas, had an unusual table centerpiece: artist Bouke de Vries' War and Pieces, created from porcelain fragments and plastic toys, a nuclear explosion of Greco-Roman and Christian imagery which I guess represents the fall of the ancien regime?

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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Poem for Wednesday and Brookside Geese

Red Bank
By Lesle Lewis

I wanted a horse.
I jumped from a plane.
I was not comfortable with your illness.
I was a detective at the wedding.
I recognized the new way it would be with you in rehabilitation.
I saw how the sunset colors on the Navesink River got sad with the lone rower.
I lived on a lone planet with my befuddlement.
I'd lost a person.
I didn't know how to hold my lips.
I was like the goose bathing in parking lot puddles.
Definitely, I am on a train.

--------

I went out to lunch with my neighbor Carole and wound up spending a lovely afternoon with her. We went to Mykonos, where I had saganaki and taramasalata while Carole had non-veggie food, and afterward, since we were right nearby, we walked over to Michaels where I was looking for beads and she was looking for a portable glue gun. Then we went to Starbucks before coming home, where I used the beads to fix a necklace.

Daniel wanted to Skype about some long-term travel plans, so Paul and I talked to him after dinner. Then we watched Legends of Tomorrow, which is the most fun of the DC shows these days, and Emergence, which may end for the season or forever next week and I'm ambivalent -- depends how good the finale is! From Brookside Gardens over the chilly weekend, the big flock of geese in the pond by the tea house:

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Poem for Tuesday and Brookside Winter Flowers

The Dipper
By Kathleen Jamie

It was winter, near freezing,
I'd walked through a forest of firs
when I saw issue out of the waterfall
a solitary bird.

It lit on a damp rock,
and, as water swept stupidly on,
wrung from its own throat
supple, undammable song.

It isn't mine to give.
I can't coax this bird to my hand
that knows the depth of the river
yet sings of it on land.

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It was quite cold on Monday so we were in no rush to get out of the house. I talked to a couple of west coast relatives and sorted some old photos, then we had lunch and went to Brookside Gardens, where we mistakenly believed from the web site that the visitor center and conservatory were open. They were not -- they were closed for MLK Day -- but the winter garden had aconite, jasmine, and snowdrops blooming and shoots of crocuses and daffodils sticking up through the soil, so there were still harbingers of spring, and there were dozens and dozens of geese in the pond and on the grass.

We stopped at Roots Market while we were up in that direction after a long detour to avoid lane closures on the way, and at Giant and CVS on the way home, where we had slow cooker veggie chili for dinner. Then we watched the last Antiques Roadshow filmed at Winterthur (comic books, lightsaber handles, baseball as well as Toulouse-Lautrec, jewelry, and Americana) and the new episode of The New Pope (John Malkovich is crazier than Jude Law, as are the writers), followed by the season two finale of The Runaways (the non-possessed parents are even harder to tolerate than the possessed ones)!

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Monday, January 20, 2020

Poem for Monday and Museum Afternoon

The Gallery
By Andrew Marvell

Clora, come view my soul, and tell  
Whether I have contrived it well.  
Now all its several lodgings lie  
Composed into one gallery;
And the great arras-hangings, made  
Of various faces, by are laid;  
That, for all furniture, you’ll find  
Only your picture in my mind.

Here thou are painted in the dress
Of an inhuman murderess;  
Examining upon our hearts  
Thy fertile shop of cruel arts:  
Engines more keen than ever yet  
Adorned a tyrant’s cabinet;
Of which the most tormenting are
Black eyes, red lips, and curlèd hair.

But, on the other side, th’art drawn  
Like to Aurora in the dawn;
When in the East she slumbering lies,  
And stretches out her milky thighs;  
While all the morning choir does sing,  
And manna falls, and roses spring;  
And, at thy feet, the wooing doves  
Sit pérfecting their harmless loves.

Like an enchantress here thou show’st,  
Vexing thy restless lover’s ghost;  
And, by a light obscure, dost rave  
Over his entrails, in the cave;  
Divining thence, with horrid care,  
How long thou shalt continue fair;
And (when informed) them throw’st away,
To be the greedy vulture’s prey.

But, against that, thou sit’st afloat  
Like Venus in her pearly boat.
The halcyons, calming all that’s nigh,  
Betwixt the air and water fly;  
Or, if some rolling wave appears,  
A mass of ambergris it bears.
Nor blows more wind than what may well  
Convoy the perfume to the smell.

These pictures and a thousand more
Of thee my gallery do store
In all the forms thou canst invent  
Either to please me, or torment:  
For thou alone to people me,  
Art grown a numerous colony;  
And a collection choicer far
Than or Whitehall’s or Mantua’s were.

But, of these pictures and the rest,
That at the entrance likes me best:  
Where the same posture, and the look  
Remains, with which I first was took:  
A tender shepherdess, whose hair
Hangs loosely playing in the air,  
Transplanting flowers from the green hill,  
To crown her head, and bosom fill.

--------

We went downtown Sunday morning so we could be there when Pokemon Community Day started, because Piplup was the chosen Pokemon this month and Piplup is a penguin and therefore one of the ones I remember Adam talking about from long before I cared about Pokemon at all. We parked near the Botanical Garden and walked around the National Mall in a big loop before going to the National Gallery of Art, where we ate lunch before the Community Day event ended. Then we went to the exhibits on pastels and on Alonso Berruguete's sculpture.

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We came home while it still looked like the Titans could beat the Chiefs, before the Chiefs started blowing them out and made it clear they deserved to be in the Super Bowl. Then we watched the start of the Packers-49ers game, but it was obvious by the start of Supergirl that San Francisco would be joining Kansas City, so we switched to superheroes while we had dessert, following it up with Marvel's Runaways (which is finally treating Leslie as a fellow victim who was groomed by a child abuser, not a schemer with PRIDE).

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Poem for Sunday, Little Women, The Two Popes, Hamilton

You Say You Said
By Marianne Moore

"Few words are best."
                Not here. Discretion has been abandoned in this part
                of the world too lately
                For it to be admired. Disgust for it is like the
Equinox—all things in

One. Disgust is
                No psychologist and has not opportunity to be a hypocrite.
                It says to the saw-toothed bayonet and to the cue
Of blood behind the sub-

Marine—to the
                Poisoned comb, to the Kaiser of Germany and to the
                intolerant gateman at the exit from the eastbound ex-
                press: "I hate
You less than you must hate

Yourselves: You have
                Accoutred me. ‘Without enemies one’s courage flags.’
                Your error has been timed
                To aid me, I am in debt to you for you have primed
Me against subterfuge."

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We woke Saturday to flurries that were forecast to come and go most of the day, so even though we got no accumulation and the worst of it ended up being a few minutes of hail, we stayed mostly indoors apart from a stop in a Cabin John Park parking lot for a Heatran raid. So there was lots of entertainment. After lunch, we went to see Little Women, which I -- okay, bad feminist -- liked but didn't love. Now, I never loved the book, and I never loved any of the other movie versions though it's possible I liked the Ryder-Danes-Dunst version better on first viewing when I first saw it, though that was a million years ago. The accents were uneven, the time jumps seemed unnecessarily frenetic, and it still felt like it was too much about the cute rich boy.

So we came home, ate leftover faux tuna casserole, and watched The Two Popes. Now, like I said, bad feminist, because apart from the fact that it's about two men at the top of one of the most patriarchal, misogynistic institutions in history and I'm not comfortable with how completely it forgave Bergoglio's complicity with Argentine leaders and Ratzinger's Hitler Youth, I loved everything about the movie. The acting is phenomenal (accents also not perfect but they're supposed to be fluent in five languages so it's impressive that they could manage even half), the imagined conversations are by turns witty, clever, and profound, it's political on both a global and interpersonal level. Speaking of imperfect leaders, Hamilton and Burr at the Virginia Historical Society:

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Poem for Saturday and Chilly C&O Canal

Limitations
By Henrietta Cordelia Ray

The subtlest strain a great musician weaves,
Cannot attain in rhythmic harmony
To music in his soul. May it not be
Celestial lyres send hints to him? He grieves
That half the sweetness of the song, he leaves
Unheard in the transition. Thus do we
Yearn to translate the wondrous majesty
Of some rare mood, when the rapt soul receives
A vision exquisite. Yet who can match
The sunset’s iridescent hues? Who sing
The skylark’s ecstasy so seraph-fine?
We struggle vainly, still we fain would catch
Such rifts amid life’s shadows, for they bring
Glimpses ineffable of things divine.

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Friday was pretty uneventful -- slept late because a cat was on top of my legs, did a bunch of chores, took a walk since it was nice out though chilly. Sorted a bunch of photos pulled out while I was fiddling with scanners earlier in the week. Pulled out my DSLR to determine what I need to make it more efficient. We had dinner with my parents, then came home and fed cats.

We finally watched this week's Doctor Who -- I agree with complaints that it was heavy-handed -- and the first episode of The New Pope, which is just as insane as The Young Pope, followed by the Graham Norton in which Daniel Radcliffe famously answered Miriam Margolyes' question about the state of his foreskin with "I'm Jewish!" From the C&O Canal last month:

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