Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kathleen Spivack's, "A History of Yearning"

It's a pleasure to have poet Kathleen Spivack's A History of Yearning in my hands and admire the blurb-less back cover--generous margins, white space, and a black and white photo of the much published author. Her poems have arrived and speak for themselves: lyrical, elegiac, super-sensitive, intelligent.

Among my favorites, "The Path into Night":

Two drawn out
calls of birds
falling in fifths
in late evening
and now the tree frogs
start to throb.
Solitude sinks in
like a blanket, bluish
absence inhaled: skin
a sheen of sadness
finely silver-edged.
If one's whole life
were to be this
solitary would the
true notes
start to sound;
repeated bird song
measuring darkness?

It was also a pleasure to hear Spivack read from this--her just-out book--last Sunday at the Pierre Menard Gallery on Arrow Street in Harvard Square. The event, sponsored by the Grolier Poetry Bookshop, brought out keen listeners.

Kathleen Spivack and Ifeanyi Menkiti, owner of the Grolier, poet, publisher, and professor at Wellesley, warmly commanded and engaged the audience.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Forster's Fruit-Bats

It's been marvelous to re-read E. M. Forster's novel, A Passage to India. Some people say we read to experience beauty and also to learn how to live.

After I read this passage about fruit-bats--and other things--I felt I could live more peacefully; but, to be true to Forster, only for a moment, before the peaceful mood changed, yet he beautifully describes a moment of acquiescence.

The promontory was covered with lofty trees, and the fruit-bats were unhooking from the boughs and making kissing sounds as they grazed the surface of the tank; hanging upside down all the day, they had grown thirsty. The signs of the contented Indian evening multiplied; frogs on all sides, cow-dung burning eternally; a flock of belated hornbills overhead, looking like winged skeletons as they flapped across the gloaming. There was death in the air, but not sadness; a compromise had been made between destiny and desire, and even the heart of man acquiesced.

Often I don't acquiesce but give up in exasperation. Tell me, when does your heart acquiesce?

The window is open: sparrow chirp gets in, a warm breeze too, but no sounds as evocative and foreign as fruit-bats kissing. Here it's still day. At twilight the crickets will start. My friend, L., said that crickets don't hear each other except when one loses the beat. They hear that one! Then what? I wonder. Do they get the out-of-beat, off-beat cricket back in rhythm?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Innisfree: "Beauty Secrets of the Dead"

Thanks to Greg McBride, poet editor of Innisfree Poetry Journal for including "Beauty Secrets of the Dead" in the fall 2010 issue. I hope you enjoy my poem as well as the work of other contributors.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Still Life: Garbage

We compost garbage. "Garbage" meaning "food waste." Rather than wasting, J. and I save, yet if we accumulate garbage in a container in the kitchen before putting it on the compost pile, it attracts ants, fruit flies, etc.--no mouse in the kitchen yet--and gives off a ripe-rotten odor even when covered. J. has solved the problem. Following his lead, I freeze garbage! The peels, stems, seeds, cores, and pith pile up, but naturally do not overflow. This morning the frozen pile made a zany still life, but I won't call it "still." Frozen, on the table, in 95 degree heat, the little garbage tower gave off a frosty cloud that my camera couldn't catch. A pleasure!

I rapped the container against the hard black bin, and the garbage slid out; the still-frozen tomato-peel 'torta' split off from the banana peels and tough eggplant ends. (The tomato meat had gone into a sauce.) By now wasps, fruit flies--and who knows what else--and the action of a layer of soil are bringing the mess back to life.

What does all this have to do with my August writer's retreat at home? Let me think. Although I wrote an essay, roughed out some poems and buffed up others, read till my eyes crossed, I was forced to listen to plenty of rubbish during 8/2010. Maybe some of it will find its way into stories. I'll trust to time and the vagaries of memory to transform some of the truly worthless parts into material--comedy, I hope. If you were here with me, dear Bloggerones, I might tell you about it. How was your August? And how are things on September first?