Monday, January 30, 2006

Albert Goldbarth again

Here is a poem I steal from almost every time I sit down to write. I think it's at the top of my list (for now).


I always wondered why they called them wings.
--Perhaps because somebody always waited in shadow
in them, with a rope.
With a rope like a great braided nerve,
and while some sweet singing or a bloody melee
completely filled the central light, this person
would raise or lower the god.

* * *

It's summer. Hard summer: the land enameled.
I find the bird already half-dismantled
by ants--the front half. It's flying
steadily into the other world, so needs to be this still.
Do I mumble? yes. Do I actually pray? yes.
Yes, but not for the bird. When we love enough
people a bird is a rehearsal.

Jack Gilbert

This Gilbert poem is now in the front running.

The Forgotten Dialect Of The Heart

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind's labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not laguage but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and bird

Saturday, January 28, 2006


We have to bring a poem to read into class on Wednesday so I'm trying to decide. To Autumn has always been in my top 5, but not sure yet.

Ode to Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Technology vs. Dottie

Dottie will always win.

Friday, January 27, 2006


(USF&W Press Release) An extremely rare Hawaiian forest bird that was hoped to be part of a last ditch effort to save the species has died. The po'ouli, a male that had been living at the Maui Bird Conservation Center in Olinda, Hawaii since September, passed away close to midnight on Friday, November 26th (04’). The bird had been moved to the Conservation Center by the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Team with the hope of starting a captive breeding program with the last three individuals of this species. Unfortunately the two other birds, believed to be in the wild, have not been observed for several months.


"The sense impressions of one-celled animals are not edited for the brain. This is philosophically interesting in a rather mournful way, since it means that only the simplest animals perceive the universe as it is." -- Annie Dillard

Just in case you were feeling good about humanity

“. . . men came to Funk Island to kill auks solely for their feathers.
The crews built stone corrals into which they herded hapless Great Auks. Each summer, men boiled vats of water and threw the live birds in to loosen the feathers for plucking; that accomplished, the corpses were either thrown to the wayside or used as oily fuel for the fires.”


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Cat Power's new CD

You can stream Cat Power's title song to her new album here --

  • Cat Power: The Greatest

  • Me likey.

    James Wright

    Jerome in Solitude

    To see the lizard there,
    I was amazed I did not have to beat
    My breast with a stone.

    If a lion lounged nearby,
    He must have curled in a shadow of cypress,
    For nobody shook a snarled mane and stretched out
    To lie at my feet.

    And for a moment,
    I did not see Christ retching in pain, longing
    To clutch his cold abdomen,
    Sagging, unable to rise or fall, the human
    Flesh torn between air and air.

    I was not even
    Praying, unless: no,
    I was not praying.

    A rust branch fell suddenly
    Down from a dead cypress
    And blazed gold. I leanded close.
    The deep place in the lizard's eys
    Looked back into me.

    Delicate green sheaths
    Folded into one another.
    The lizard was alive,
    Happy to move.

    But he did not move.
    Neither did I.
    I did not dare to.

    Sunday, January 22, 2006

    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    All My Heroes Have Beards

    If I am anything like Gary Snyder when I'm 70 I'll be happy (and still alive!). Now if I could be more like him at 30!!

    "It comes down to how one thinks about screens, fences, or dogs. These are often used for keeping the wild at bay. ('Keeping the wild at bay' sounds like fending off hawks and bears, but it is more often a matter of holding back carpenter ants and deer mice.') We came to live a permeable, porous life in our house set among the stands of oak and pine. Our buildings are entirely opened up for the long Sierra summer. Mud daubers make their trips back and forth from inside the house to the edge of the pond like tireless little cement trucks, and pour their foundations on beams, in cracks, and (if you're not alert) in rifle-bore holes and backpack fire-pump nozzles. They dribble little spots of mud as they go. For mosquitoes, which are never much of a problem, the house is just another place to enjoy the shade. At night the bats dash around the rooms, in and out of the open skylights, swoop down past your cheek and go out an open sliding door. In the dark of the night the deer can be heard stretching for the lower leaves of the apple trees, and at dawn the wild turkeys are strolling a few yards from the bed."

    Ed Abbey

    Here's another hero of mine and some bumper sticker philosophy.

    In the modern technoindustrial culture, it is possible to proceed from infancy into senility without ever knowing manhood.

    You can't study the darkness by flooding it with light.

    The rancher strings barbed wire across the range, drills wells and bulldozes stock ponds everywhere, drives off the elk and antelope and bighorn sheep, poisons coyotes and prairie dogs, shoots eagle and bear and cougar on sight, supplants the native bluestem and grama grass with tumbleweed, cow shit, cheat grass, snakeweed, anthills, poverty weed, mud and dust and flies--and then leans back and smiles broadly at the Tee Vee cameras and tells us how much he loves the West.

    The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders.

    I know my own nation best. That's why I despise it the most. And know and love my own people, too, the swine. I'm a patriot. A dangerous man.

    The rich can buy everything but health, virtue, friendship, wit, good looks, love, pride, intelligence, grace, and, if you need it, happiness.

    America My Country: last nation on earth to abolish human slavery; first of all nations to drop the nuclear bomb on our fellow human beings

    Thoreau Quotes

    I'm still trying to find some essays to teach for class. I have my book, but it is a pretty quick read -- Into The Wild. My theme is something like "The American Dream." I want to look at alternatives to the American Dream or people that question it and why. I thought about just doing one chapter from Walden, but I could see his language turning off someone not used to it. I think I'll use the first chapter from Desert Solitaire by Abbey and maybe look at the films Roger and Me, Fight Club, and Office Space. Maybe spend some time on pop-culture or advertising and how it shapes what Americans see as success. Any thoughts? I am starting to FREAK out!! Here are some Thoreau quotes. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!!!

    I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

    Men have become the tools of their tools.

    My Aunt Maria asked me to read the life of Dr. Chalmers, which, however, I did not promise to do. Yesterday, Sunday, she was heard through the partition shouting to my Aunt Jane, who is deaf, "Think of it! He stood half an hour today to hear the frogs croak, and he wouldn't read the life of Chalmers.

    However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do want society.

    Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is in prison.

    In the streets and in society I am almost invariably cheap and dissipated, my life is unspeakably mean. No amount of gold or respectability would in the least redeem it,-- dining with the Governor or a member of Congress!! But alone in the distant woods or fields, in unpretending sprout-lands or pastures tracked by rabbits, even in a bleak and, to most, cheerless day, like this, when a villager would be thinking of his inn, I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related, and that cold and solitude are friends of mine. I suppose that this value, in my case, is equivalent to what others get by churchgoing and prayer. I come home to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful. I have told many that I walk every day about half the daylight, but I think they do not believe it. I wish to get the Concord, the Massachusetts, the America, out of my head and be sane a part of every day.

    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.

    Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.

    Monday, January 16, 2006


    Here's a link to my favorite radio station. KUT out of Austin, TX. It's an NPR affiliate and plays a lot of great folk, alt-country, blues, jazz, reggae and about anything else. Check it out. KUT 90.5 Austin


    I want to live in New Mexico! Now!!!

    Get the facts, the Chuck Norris facts

  • Chuck Norris Facts
  • Saturday, January 14, 2006


    Friday, January 13, 2006


    Dottie admires the fat flakes

    Full Moon and Friday the 13th

    Well, the moon isn't officially full until Saturday. Too many clouds here in Chicago, but I can feel my hair growing as we speak!

    More Florida Pics

    Thursday, January 12, 2006

    My Neighbor Totoro

    Totoro is a forest spirit in Myazaki's film My Neighbor Totoro. All of Myazaki's movies are wonderful. I would watch them just for the clouds. Truly beautiful.

    More Calvin

    click to read

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Florida Panhandle

    Here are a few shots from my recent birding/kayaking trip to the Florida panhandle.

    My friend Tyler

    Early morning in the Cypress swamp

    Cypress "knees"

    Tyler again