Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Important Birthdays

It's the birthday of British satirist Evelyn Waugh, born in London (1903). He came from a literary family: His father was the managing editor of an important British publishing house, and his older brother was a distinguished writer. But Waugh didn't do well in school, and he left Oxford without receiving a degree. He tried working as a teacher, but he got fired from three schools in two years. He said, "I was from the first an obvious dud." He was seriously in debt, without a job, and had just been rejected by the girl he liked, so he decided to drown himself in the ocean. He wrote a suicide note and jumped in the sea, but before he got very far, he was stung by a jellyfish. He scrambled back to shore, tore up his suicide note, and decided to give life a second chance.
He didn't know what else to do, so he wrote a novel about a young teacher at a private school where the other teachers are all drunks, child molesters, and escaped convicts; and the mother of one student is running an international prostitution ring. His publishers forced him to preface the book with a disclaimer that said, "Please bear in mind throughout that it is meant to be funny." The novel, Decline and Fall, was published in 1928, and it was immediately recognized as a masterpiece of modern satire.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Autumn Waiting by Tom Hennen

Cold wind.
The day is waiting for winter
Without a sound.
Everything is waiting—
Broken-down cars in the dead weeds.
The weeds themselves.
Even sunlight
Is in no hurry and stays
For a long time
On each cornstalk.
Blackbirds are silent
And sit in piles.
From a distance
They look like
Spilled on the road.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

La Traviata Opening Night

I have a friend who is a real opera fanatic and she usually manages to get me to a couple of shows per year. Last night we saw La Traviata. I seem to remember seeing this opera ages ago in Portland. The sets for the one last night were incredible and Violetta was at her finest. My friend used her upgrade option for our seats, they were probably some of the best seats that I had ever had. All in all, a very enjoyable evening.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Football Fever

I went to a University of Washington football game last night with my family. It was quite fun. I am not a huge football fan, but I do like watching it live, especially college games. When I went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, I went to all of the Badger home games and last night helped me to remember how fun it can be. The last half, more specifically, the last quarter was amazing! The Huskies had a couple of extremely lucky/great plays and won the game. I felt bad for people who left at half time thinking that they would lose for sure. Oh, and the pre-game tailgate party was fun as well!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Grandmas in Church by, Myself

The piano tins-out of tune,
background to hymns sung
in the temporary church
of linoleum and folding chairs

Volunteers put the shiny metal chairs
brown and flaked,
in neat rows across the
drab-gray floor

Grandma sits, fur collar at
her neck, topping an
ancient, brown wool coat

“Would you like some gum?”
she whispers at my ear
and drops a piece into my
pink, plastic wicker purse

The ageing congregation sings
How Great Thou Art!
a cacophonous rumble

Grandma can’t sing
her voice has always been weak
She whispers loudly at me

about things that nannas
and little girls share,
like not singing hymns in a
temporary, basement church
on a cold Oregon Coast morn

Grandma’s wearing big earrings, gold and
glittery, the clip-on kind
I want to reach up and pluck
one from her ear

Her open purse smells
like Kleenex as she rummages
for more candy

I long to pet the lacquered glaze of
Grandma’s Final-Net hair
the two of us are immune to
stares as Grandma tries singing

again, her voice, a scratchy croak
leaving drops of spittle on the
linoleum floor to be
mopped away by those
serviceable volunteers

Her breath smells like
pie dough, we are in church


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Artis the Spoonman

I haven't seen this guy in a long time! This brings back memories.

Visqueen - "Zirconium Gun"

I went to a CD release party for this band last night. They are a great live music group.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Harvest by Louise Gluck

It's autumn in the market—
not wise anymore to buy tomatoes.
But eggplant shines.
They're beautiful still on the outside,
some perfectly round and red, the rare varieties
misshapen, individual, like human brains covered in red oilcloth—

Inside, they're gone. Black, moldy—
you can't take a bite without anxiety.
Here and there, among the tainted ones, a fruit
still perfect, picked before decay set in.

Instead of tomatoes, crops nobody really wants.
Pumpkins, a lot of pumpkins.
Gourds, ropes of dried chilies, braids of garlic.
The artisans weave dead flowers into wreaths;
they tie bits of colored yarn around dried lavender.
And people go on for a while buying these things
as though they thought the farmers would see to it
that things went back to normal:
the vines would go back to bearing new peas;
the first small lettuces, so fragile, so delicate, would begin
to poke out of the dirt.

Instead, it gets dark early.
And the rains get heavier; they carry
the weight of dead leaves.

At dusk, now, an atmosphere of threat, of foreboding.
And people feel this themselves; they give a name to the season,
harvest, to put a better face on these things.

The gourds are rotting on the ground, the sweet blue grapes are finished.
A few roots, maybe, but the ground's so hard the farmers think
it isn't worth the effort to dig them out. For what?
To stand in the marketplace under a thin umbrella, in the rain, in the cold,
no customers anymore?

And then the frost comes; there's no more question of harvest.
The snow begins; the pretense of life ends.
The earth is white now; the fields shine when the moon rises.

I sit at the bedroom window, watching the snow fall.
The earth is like a mirror:
calm meeting calm, detachment meeting detachment.

What lives, lives underground.
What dies, dies without struggle.

"Harvest" by Louise Gl├╝ck from A Village Life. © Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

the way it works by, Charles Bukowski

she came out at 9:30 a.m. in the morning
and knocked at the manager's door:
"my husband is dead!"
they went to the back of the building together
and the process began:
first the fire dept. sent two men
in dark shirts and pants
in vehicle #27
and the manager and the lady and the
two men went inside as she

he had knifed her last April and
had done 6 months for that.

the two men in dark shirts came out
got in their vehicle
and drove away.

then two policemen came.
then a doctor (he probably was there to
sign the death certificate).

I became tired of looking out the
window and began to
read the latest issue of
The New Yorker.

when I looked again there was a nice
sensitive-looking gray-haired gentleman
walking slowly up and down the
sidewalk in a dark suit.
then he waved in a black
hearse which
drove right up on the lawn and stopped
next to my porch.

two men got out of the hearse
opened up the back
and pulled out a gurney with 4
wheels. they rolled it to the back of the
building. when they came out again he was in a
black zipper bag and she was in
obvious distress.
they put him in the
hearse and then walked back to
her apartment and went inside

I had to take out my laundry and
run some other errands.
Linda was coming to visit and
I was worried about her seeing that
hearse parked next to my porch.
so I left a note pinned to my door
that said: Linda, don't worry.
I'm ok. and
then I took my dirty laundry to my car and
drove away.

when I got back the hearse was gone and
Linda hadn't arrived yet.
I took the note from the door and
went inside.

well, I thought, that old guy in back
he was about my age and
we saw each other every day but
we never spoke to one another.

now we wouldn't have to.

"the way it works" by Charles Bukowski, from What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire. © Black Sparrow Press, 1999.