11.20.2022 – waves of blue heat that

waves of blue heat that
wash the sky; sea-violins
play along the sands

Based on the poem, Blue Water, by John Gould Fletcher.

Sea-violins are playing on the sands;
Curved bows of blue and white are flying over the pebbles,
See them attack the chords—dark basses, glinting trebles.
Dimly and faint they croon, blue violins.
“Suffer without regret,” they seem to cry,
“Though dark your suffering is, it may be music,
Waves of blue heat that wash midsummer sky;
Sea-violins that play along the sands.”

According to Wikipedia, John Gould Fletcher (January 3, 1886 – May 10, 1950) was an Imagist poet (the first Southern poet to win the Pulitzer Prize), author and authority on modern painting.

9.28.2022 – groping as we grope

groping as we grope
if heavens colors were like
music heard afar

Adapted from the poem, Spring, and the Blind Children by Alfred Noyes: from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1913 John Murray (Publishers) Ltd.

As much as I loved the line,

Or wondering, when they learned that leaves were green,
If colours were like music, heard afar?

Seems like the idea of music as colors has turned up before in this blog – and I believe there has been discussion of folks who do SEE color when listening to music.

Then there is the lines:

As though, for them, the Spring held nothing new;
And not one face was turned to look again.

And I think how to have never seen a sunset.

To have never looked back for that one last look.

I am reminded on the painting of the blind soldiers by John Singer Sargent.

Once again the line from The Color Purple comes to mind that “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.

Spring , and the Blind Children

They left the primrose glistening in its dew.
With empty hands they drifted down the lane,
As though, for them, the Spring held nothing new;
And not one face was turned to look again.

Like tiny ghosts, along their woodland aisle,
They stole. They did not leap or dance or run.
Only, at times, without a word or smile,
Their small blind faces lifted to the sun;

Innocent faces, desolately bright,
Masks of dark thought that none could ever know;
But O, so small to hide it. In their night
What dreams of our strange world must come and go;

Groping, as we, too, grope for heavens unseen;
Guessing – at what those fabulous visions are;
Or wondering, when they learned that leaves were green,
If colours were like music, heard afar?

Were brooks like bird-song ? Was the setting sun
Like scent of roses, or like evening prayer ?
Were stars like chimes in heaven, when day was done;
Was midnight like their mothers’ warm soft hair?

And dawn? – a pitying face against their own,
A whispered word, an unknown angel’s kiss,
That stoops to each, in its own dark, alone;
But leaves them lonelier for that breath of bliss ?

Was it for earth’s transgressions that they paid –
Lambs of that God whose eyes with love grow dim –
Sharing His load on whom all wrongs are laid ?
But O, so small to bear it, even with Him!

God of blind children, through Thy dreadful light
They pass. We pass. Thy heavens are all so near.
We cannot grasp them in our earth-bound night.
But O, Thy grief! For Thou canst see and hear.

9.23.2022 – morning light moon light

morning light moon light
everything shines, little words
slowly read story

Breakage by Mary Oliver –

I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
full of moonlight.
Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

That’s my wish.

And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?

So says Burt Lancaster in the role of Moonlight Graham in the movie, Field of Dreams.

In book, Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella, Doc Graham says, “That’s what I wish, Ray Kinsella, whoever you are. Is there enough magic floating around out in the night for you to make it come true?”

What Ray thinks of is something Joe Jackson said to him.

This is the kind of place where anything can happen, isn’t it?”

They were thinking of Iowa.

I am thinking of the beach.

I love to sit and watch and begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

Anything can happen.


9.14.2022 – the little waves with

the little waves with
their soft, white hands efface the
footprints in the sands

Adapted from The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveller hastens toward the town,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveller to the shore,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

clouds mirrored in a very still ocean

8.29.2022 – hopelessness is the

hopelessness is the
enemy of justice – is
a constant struggle

I was born on July 17, 1960.

One month later, unknown to me and unrelated to this event, 11 kids went wading in the Atlantic Ocean at the public beach on Tybee Island on the east coast near Savannah, Georgia.

All 11 kids were arrested.

They were officially charged with Public Disrobing.

The real reason is that the public beaches in Georgia in 1960 were segregated.

And these 11 kids were not ‘allowed’ to use the public beach because they were not white.

1960.

Stars of the show, from left, Edna Jackson, Evalena Hoskins, and Mary Gray, who participated as high-school students in the historic 1960’s wade-ins. Ben Goggins / For Savannah Morning News

Three of these students, Edna Jackson, Evalena Hoskins, and Mary Gray, were there that day in 1960 and were back on the same beach, the same beach I have been with my children and grand children.

I now know about that day because the State of Georgia just dedicated a historical marker to remember that day and what those 11 kids did.

At the dedication ceremony, Tybee Island Historical Association Vice-President Allen Lewis said, “These students were ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

These students were ordinary people.

Ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

They went for a swim on an August day at the beach.

Extraordinary things.

Mr. Lewis also said, “They put their beliefs to the test on Savannah Beach. That God has the divine power, and that the U.S. Constitution was on their side as they fought injustice and evil.”

Faced with racial terror, the students responded to hate with love. To violence, with forgiveness. We remember these students for their hope. Hopelessness is the enemy of justice. Their courage. Because peace requires bravery. Their persistence. Because justice is a constant struggle. And their faith.”

They went for a swim on an August day at the beach.

Arlo Guthrie once said something along the lines that in a world where everything is going great, you would have to do an awful lot of good to standout, but in a world that sucks, you don’t have to do much to accomplish something good.

They went for a swim on an August day at the beach.

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Respond to hate with love.

To violence, with forgiveness.

Because peace requires bravery.

Because justice is a constant struggle.

8.8.2022 – beach initially

beach initially
was deemed the most useless space
undesirable

I was struck by this passage:

The lords of the beachfront were late to the coastal real estate game. The beach was initially deemed the most useless, undesirable space on the North American continent. (Imagine rushing past the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard in your haste to stake a land claim in Ohio.)

Back in the day I had a job interview with the Federal Government.

On the application there was a spot where I could list places where I could not work.

I listed California, Florida and Ohio.

The interviewer asked a lot of questions then said, “Where you can’t work. I certainly understand Florida and California, but what do you have against Ohio?”

Naming my Alma Mater answered his question.

I like the beach.

I can’t remember a time I did not like the beach.

I love the line in the movie Superman II, where Gene Hackman, as only Gene Hackman can, informed General Zod that, “Well, General … the world is a big place. Thank goodness my needs are small. I have a certain weakness for … beachfront property.

I guess the idea that Ohio was populated by folks who rushed past the coast to get to Ohio pretty much says as much about Ohio as anyone needs to know.

If anyone needs anything more to know about Ohio, just consider the pantheon of personalities you meet when you name the 6 Ohio Presidents.

Grant.

Hayes.

Garfield.

McKinley.

Taft.

Harding.

Now there’s a Mount Rushmore no one ever proposed.

Three died in office and of those, two were shot dead and the other was poisoned by his wife (well that’s what I was told).

Talk about some sort of intervention.

But I digress.

I like the beach.

I like what Mr. Thoreau said when he said about the beach that, “A man may stand there and put all America behind him.”

I hope I would have stopped at the beach.

But right now, I like where I ended up.

Again as Mr. Thoreau says, The question is not what you look at, but what you see.

The passage comes from the opinion piece, We Will All End Up Paying for Someone Else’s Beach House, by Francis Wilkinson (@fdwilkinson), a columnist at Bloomberg, in the New York Times on August 8, 2022.

He closes with this warning.

The wealthy eventually realized their error. They put property markers on perpetually shifting sand, built expensive homes and called in the Army to keep their beaches from drifting away. It’s hard to see how, exactly, they will hold on to much of this sea-level paradise in the face of rising waters and carbon-charged superstorms. But it’s not hard to guess who will end up covering their losses.

The wise man built his house upon the rock but he didn’t have the view and he still, most likely, didn’t have a basement.

8.4.2022 – how beautiful to

how beautiful to
sight those beams of morning play
up from eastern sea

Adapted from Horace’s ode Diffugere nives (XVI) by A. E. Housman published in More Poems, Alfred A. Knopf. 1936.

How clear, how lovely bright
How beautiful to sight
Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea
Soars the delightful day

To-day I shall be strong,
No more shall yield to wrong,
Shall squander life no more;
Days lost, I know not how,
I shall retrieve them now;
Now I shall keep the vow
I never kept before.

Thought about this as I was driving to work.

And, as always, I was thinking, there sure could be worse morning drives (and I have made some of them.)

8.2.2022 – stars when drop and die

stars when drop and die
no star is lost – rains in sea
still the sea is salt

Adapted from Horace’s ode Diffugere nives (VII) by A. E. Housman published in More Poems, Alfred A. Knopf. 1936.

Stars, I have seen them fall,
    But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
    From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
    Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea
    And still the sea is salt.

And what does Diffugere nives mean?

One online source states: “one of Horace’s many reflections on the passage of time, the brevity of human life.”

Another states: “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and emotional dependence on another person.”

But I paste it into the GOOGLE translate from Latin to English, I get, Run away from the snow.

Ah well, still the sea is salt.

7.31.2022 – a lover of books

a lover of books
adventurous, creative
spend all day barefoot

Want to move to to Kunfunadhoo?

Is this a trick question?

It appears that a bookseller is being sought by a resort on the island of Kunfunadhoo.

Ultimate Library is looking for an island bookseller who, “ will need to be a self-starter who is happy to introduce themselves to guests and provide them with personalised book recommendations. The successful applicant will be solely responsible for the day-to-day running of the bookshop, including accounting and stock management. “The applicant will be there on their own, so they’re pretty much running the whole thing themselves.

The successful applicants will be a “Passionate lovers of books – who are also adventurous, outgoing, creative and don’t mind spending all day barefoot – are sought for the year-long contract, which starts in October and involves moving to live on the remote island of Kunfunadhoo in the Indian Ocean.”

You can click here to apply.

There was a time …

In the middle of a Michigan winter, sitting in one of the lower levels of the Harlen Hatcher Graduate Library at the University of Michigan, I was sitting at a library table that was pushed against an outside window where I could watch the snow come down.

The University of Michigan Graduate Library was reported to have some 5 million books on the shelves and all of them were literally stacked up over my head.

In the days before the World Wide Web this was as close to unlimited information on anything in the world that anyone could get.

And that is just what I was thinking.

Anything and everything that I might want to know or read about or experience thorugh a book was within a few feet of where I sat.

Of where I sat in the middle of a Michigan winter watching snow come down.

For some reason this thought about all that knowledge got to gnaw away at me.

I could know it all.

I could look it all up.

I could see it before my eyes.

But I would never go anywhere.

The library was my fate.

And at that moment, the library was my doom.

I was as depressed as I have ever been.

And I decided to do something about it.

The book Treasure Island came to mind and it stories of pirates and adventure in the Caribbean.

I can’t remember why I was thinking about that book at that time but I had just read up up the life of the author, Robert Louis Stevenson.

I had learned that Mr. Stevenson had died and was buried in Samoa.

And the word Samoa resonated through my soul.

With those vast resources over my head in the library stacks, I searched out everything I could find out about Samoa and American Samoa which, with its capitol of Pago Pago, was an American territory in the South Pacific.

I learned that the United States Department of State or some Washington Department like that maintained the schools in American Samoa.

And I learned that applications for teachers in the schools in American Samoa were being accepted.

A manic mania of pre-internet job application fury took me over as only someone who has sat in the lower levels of a library looking out at a winter storm can understand.

With typewriter and xerox machine I wrote out a resume and letter of application and got it into the mail that night.

There was a bit of romance and wonder and excitement as I walked through the dark snowy Ann Arbor night down to the local post office to drop my envelopes into the night drop box to get the quickest delivery possible to Washington.

There was a lot of satisfaction when I heard the lid of the drop box slam shut.

It was still snowing.

I had one my thick peacoat (which was required it seems that year) thick hat, gloves, scarf and boots and I was standing in the falling snow but in my mind I was barefoot, standing on an island beach in the South Pacific and teaching cute little Samoans about the American Civil War.

I got back to my apartment and started to make plans.

Chief among those plans was that I would be limited in what I would be able to bring along to the Island.

Limited as to what books I could bring.

In my mind, and maybe somewhere on paper, I made a list of the 30 or 40 essential books that would have to be packed.

I made and remade that list over and over in my mind through many dark nights that winter.

Over the weeks several letters arrived for me from Washington.

The first one was proforma and thanked me for the interest.

The 2nd was better as it at least started out Dear Applicant.

The 3rd letter I got was finally addressed to Dear Mr. Hoffman.

It acknowledged receipt of my application and that I did indeed meet all the qualifications necessary for the job.

Based on that, the letter welcomed me to the ‘pool of available applicants’ for teaching positions in the Territory of American Samoa.

I was advised that the pool was ranked by 1st in, 1st out and that as positions were filled, I would move up the list.

In the event that I made it to the top of the list, and something was available, I would be contacted for a further interview.

That was in the January of 1984.

So far as I know, I am still moving up that list.