Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Does private life exist anymore? In 1960, E.M. Forster thought private life was finished, at least in England. Without wild nature, he believed, there can be no secret life. England's "greenwood" is gone:

There is no forest or fell to escape to today, no cave in which to curl up, no deserted valley for those who wish neither to reform nor corrupt society but to be left alone. People do still escape, one can see them any night at it in the films. But they are gangsters not outlaws, they can dodge civilization because they are part of it. ("Terminal Note" to Maurice, Forster's novel about men loving men.)

This gentle-sounding notion of "wild"--"forest or fell," "cave" with "curl"--reminds me of Duke Senior's appreciation of the Forest of Arden in As You Like It:

I also like to take "wildness" with goodness and shelter--not sermons, though--and walk in woods as close to my town as Concord Center is to Walden. Forster does not write solely about solitary life. His frame of reference is plural: "those who wish," and "outlaws," not outlaw. I believe he was also thinking of shelter with comrades. "Homosexual acts" were a crime in England until the 1960s.

Some people I know, J., for instance, go into the deep wild woods alone and read books like Alone: The Man Who Braved the Vast Pacific--and Won. When I go for my solitary walks, I sometimes "double off" (Thoreau's language) and enter a story I tell myself, a way of changing one to two--no, not quite. Instead, let's say: oneness deepened as well as lessened. "Tell" maybe too strong. It's a place between telling and reverie.

There's no one way to be. But I wish wild kids had not set fire to this tree no matter how interesting the burn pattern.

Secret places, caves, burrows, deserted valleys, forests, Ardens, Edens, brains--please, don't tell.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wear and Wild

My work glove split; my thumb poked through. Now I've lost this glove and its mate in the garden, where they are wearing more, like these B. found when digging up a sumac.

B. said she wondered whether she would find a body. No body, no bones, yet right for my kind of Halloween. I lost those gloves years ago. B. and I admired them together--lacy holes, leather thumb dangling, rootlets. I found the label, still intact. The leather was still pliant. After a few days in the house the gloves have stiffened. I'll bury them again.

Some say gardens are tame. Don't believe it! Look closely. The ground hog is digging deep.

A creature has eaten a window-like hole in the pumpkin, carved it, scattered seeds, a wonderfully neat job. My efforts for Halloween will not involve gnawing and digging--no pumpkin carving. Ghosts only in my dreams.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Morris Engel, Photographer

Morris Engel took wonderful pictures! Here's one, "Coney Island."

When I was out walking in the woods with M.S., I pointed to a rocky ledge. "It's comprehensible," said M. The figures in this photo are comprehensible too, aren't they? Tell me, what do you comprehend?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Poetry Party at The Liberty Hotel

Please join the Poetry Party at The Liberty Hotel, formerly the Charles Street Jail!

I'll be reading with Richard Hoffman and Kathleen Spivack, open mike to follow.

Thursday, Oct. 14, 6:30 PM, 215 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114

Thanks to sponsors Harris Gardner of Tapestry of Voices, The Grolier Poetry Bookshop, and here's to Liberty!

The grunge of the derelict Jail is gone, but the renovation is too sand-blasted clean. The building will age again; new dirt will stick. Let's help those surfaces build up a patina. Our hands will do it. I plan to have a beer in the bar before the reading. Look for me a little before six.

Here are before and after pictures: