Monday, March 26, 2012

Tar, Young and Bitten: Nostalgia

With the temperature at 77--low humidity, and a soft breeze coming off the ocean--how could I have even thought of not going out this morning! If I had stayed in, I would have missed the sweetly acrid smell of tar. The roofers were working on a building on Meridian Avenue. I smelled tar before I saw the tar truck.

These trucks were common when I was growing up. We children, who played on the streets, would watch the glossy black tar heat and stream from the trucks. Nothing more glossy except, maybe, patent leather. We liked the filthy trucks. I like them still. It's possible to become nostalgic for almost anything, even mosquitoes, not that I want to actually go back to the past. Last week I wrote this nostalgic poem:

Young and Bitten

We had so much to give—pennies, kisses,

blood mosquitoes love. We would let them land

on the back of a hand kept still and watch

the frail, tiny body fill and darken.

It was always twilight. The wings blue,

the legs weightless. Always we were quiet.

We’d let them fly off with nothing we would

grandly call “life.” Curiosity

made us generous. We’d go home tired,

in the air ripe with wings, bitten and young,

in the shadows of leaves, in the smell of phlox,

in the soft dark, in the world where we fit.

Tell me about your bouts of nostalgia?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"My Suffolk Downs" by Melissa Shook

What a surprise to find, by chance, a radio interview with my friend, photographer and writer, Melissa Shook about her new book, My Suffolk Downs, in which we hear the voices of workers on the backside of the track. This morning I wasn't able to bring up WCRB on the net--I listen to music as I doggedly do my exercises--so switched to Boston's WBUR, and there was the interview, recorded at Suffolk Downs, and a slide show of photos in Melissa's book. Melissa's voice here in the South Beach condo! A friend on the radio! So far, so close. Soon I'll be back in Boston and she and I will be chatting about this and that over tea and coffee--tea for me, coffee for her.

I hope you listen to the interview, look at the photos, and learn more about The Eighth Pole, a facility at the track that provides health care and social services for the backside workers. All proceeds from the sale of Melissa's book will go to The Eighth Pole.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Black, White, and Brown

Post-racial: I don't think so. That's why these basketball games in Flamingo Park here in Miami Beach catch my eye. Here there are people of all colors, competing, shouting, laughing. Where else do we see black, white, and brown together? In the military? Not in our public schools, not in our neighborhoods.

As we get closer and closer to the presidential election, we will hear more from racists who oppose President Obama. 'He's not one of us', they say.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Maya Lin's "Flutter"

"Flutter, Maya Lin's earth-art, occupies just over an acre of land surrounding the Wilke D. Ferguson Jr. Courthouse, 400 N. Miami Avenue, Miami, FL. Yesterday J. and I drove in to see it. More than a acre of land: extraordinary! The land ripples. The park is wonderful to see in the aerial shot above, which shows the subtle quality of Lin's work. On foot, we saw the flutter up close. The place was nearly empty except for us, and two people strolling through. No one in the seating area. Do people come out at lunch time?

If Maya Lin had included a playground, the park might draw more people. (Sculptor, Isomu Noguchi, whose landscape designs are akin to Lin's, designed remarkable playgrounds.)

At the edge of the park, not part of Lin's design, we found this tree. If you know its name, please let me know.

PS: Bluedog, in his comment, mentioned Storm King. Here's photo of Lin's "Wavefield" at Storm King.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cante Jondo: Deep Song

It's marvelous luck to find welcoming editors. I've been fortunate to find Peter Robertson, editor of The International Literary Quarterly, which has just published my poem, "Opening Night: Ainadamar by Osvaldo Golijov." Golijov's opera is an elegy for Garcia Lorca, who was murdered by Fascists in 1936.


If I die,
leave the balcony open.

The little boy is eating oranges.
(From my balcony I can see him.)

The reaper is harvesting the wheat.
(From my balcony I can hear him.)

If I die,
leave the balcony open!

El Balcón

Si muero
Dejad el balcón abierto

El niño come naranjas
(Desde mi balcón lo veo)

El segador siega el trigo
(Desde mi balcón lo siento)

Si muero
Dejad el balcón abierto

You are invited to read the current issue of The International Poetry Quarterly.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bumming Around

When I stopped working for a living some people suggested I take part-time work or volunteer doing what I had done before. Not for me! I'd rather bum around and enjoy being useless. An exaggeration, to be sure, since sometimes I am useful. What does this have to do with these photos of the South Point Park 'lighthouse'? The lighthouse is useless as a guide for ships. What purpose does it have? Amusement? The shot was taken as I lay prone, looking up. Clouds moved. The tower seemed to sway. If you want to lose equilibrium, lie down under the 'lighthouse.'

A section of South Point Park is designed to make the clouds seem close. These skateboarders seem high as the clouds.

The strip of green in the distance is water. The photo doesn't capture the intense green, green as grass.

It's spring here. This plant flourishes in sand.

The trumpet trees are in bloom.

Tell me how you're wasting time? But is bumming around really wasting time? What can be more fertile than gazing?