Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Poetry Wednesday


road (me)
you have the black polish,
my wrists.
you have not opened the gate
or taken the little scope
to your eye/
full of the fever resting (on the ceiling like a devil),

Annnnnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:

by Robert Frost

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather, There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
The road there, if you'll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost,
May seem as if it should have been a quarry—
Great monolithic knees the former town
Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered.
And there's a story in a book about it:
Besides the wear of iron wagon wheels
The ledges show lines ruled southeast-northwest,
The chisel work of an enormous Glacier
That braced his feet against the Arctic Pole.
You must not mind a certain coolness from him
Still said to haunt this side of Panther Mountain.
Nor need you mind the serial ordeal
Of being watched from forty cellar holes
As if by eye pairs out of forty firkins.
As for the woods' excitement over you
That sends light rustle rushes to their leaves,
Charge that to upstart inexperience.
Where were they all not twenty years ago?
They think too much of having shaded out
A few old pecker-fretted apple trees.
Make yourself up a cheering song of how
Someone's road home from work this once was,
Who may be just ahead of you on foot
Or creaking with a buggy load of grain.
The height of the adventure is the height
Of country where two village cultures faded
Into each other. Both of them are lost.
And if you're lost enough to find yourself
By now, pull in your ladder road behind you
And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.
Then make yourself at home. The only field
Now left's no bigger than a harness gall.
First there's the children's house of make-believe,
Some shattered dishes underneath a pine,
The playthings in the playhouse of the children.
Weep for what little things could make them glad.
Then for the house that is no more a house,
But only a belilaced cellar hole,
Now slowly closing like a dent in dough.
This was no playhouse but a house in earnest.
Your destination and your destiny's
A brook that was the water of the house,
Cold as a spring as yet so near its source,
Too lofty and original to rage.
(We know the valley streams that when aroused
Will leave their tatters hung on barb and thorn.)
I have kept hidden in the instep arch
Of an old cedar at the waterside
A broken drinking goblet like the Grail
Under a spell so the wrong ones can't find it,
So can't get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn't.
(I stole the goblet from the children's playhouse.)
Here are your waters and your watering place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.

Wanderlust: UnDecember


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Zander Olsen's Tree Lines

I've seen Olsen's "Tree, Line"photographs  popping up all over the internet recently, and I'm not quite sure what to make of them. Having recently written on Robert Smithson and read Robert Irwin's impossibly dense Notes Toward a Conditional Art, the Earth Art movement and spatial interventions more generally are on my mind.

Obviously, he applies white wrappings to the places where the bodies of trees interrupt the horizon line, as seen from the viewpoint of a camera. The project appeals to me for a few reasons, but I mostly appreciate the fact that his interventions, existing in their true form as photographs, survive only as myth. The camera becomes an interlocutor, without which work can neither exist as documentation, nor as anything else.

I'm also interested in the work's remedial function. It assumes the steady, unbroken line of the horizon, and, through additive operation, seeks to maintain and then document that ideal of consistency. I'd be quite curious to see him at work, and observe the ways in which is process either suits or contradicts the sensibilities of the final pictures.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Rochester Update: Santa Claus is Coming/Already Forcefully Exerting His Magical Presence

Well, I survived my first semester as a doctoral student. This might not seem like the biggest of big deals, but it sure makes this getting-older-business a lot more pressing. Four more semesters, and it will be dissertation time. Presumably, that means a published book, a doctoral degree, a job, and expanded brain power. Of some sort. The last bit is negotiable.

The good news is that CHRISTMAS IS COMING. I am a Christmas fiend, and I am not shy about it. Our apartment is currently an explosion of paper snowflakes, twinkle lights, and garlands. Our fatty-fat tree is taking up the better part of the living room, and an assortment of Yankee Candle scents is slowly altering our brain chemistry (possibly). The gingerbread cookies are soon-to-be-baked, and Moody and I are steadily working through my list of magical Christmas movies, of which there are plenty. It is definitely childish, and we are certainly feeding the commercial machine. But I really love Christmas. Since it’s our first one together, Moody and I will be sticking close to home, and I’m looking forward to the most loving, cookie-filled, snuggly Christmas ever.

That being said, Moody and I are warring over what constitutes good Christmas music. He’s of the Mariah-Carey-Boys-II-Men school of thought, while I’m sticking to the classics. Bing. The Carpenters. Judy Garland. Eartha Kitt. The Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. Etc. He’s mostly letting me win, but I’m determined to make a convert of him. I have nothing against pop, but I refuse to listen to Jessica Simpson and her ex-hubby mangling the classics.

And it wouldn’t be Christmas without wonderful news! My mom and step-father just sold their house in England, and are moving to the states this spring! For a grad student who is perpetually broke and can’t hop on a plane whenever the mood strikes, this is marrrrrrrvelous news. They’ve found a gorgeous, big old house down south, and I absolutely cannot wait to visit. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Poetry Wednesday


When, in the night
I am shaken from sleep by the sound of you
in the kitchen
making music with a pot, some spoons
(I know you cannot sleep
without, first, some noise)
This sound is beloved
and must be, like the badger that watches
from the window, he’s stopped,
he will bring no insects
back to his small den/his small-badger-children
only the smell of the cold

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd, something not-mine that I love:

by Robin Robertson

I have been waiting for the black deer
all my life, hidden here in the dark
corner of the wood.
I see glimpses of them, breaking cover,
swinging away
to erase themselves in the deep trees.

They are implicit there, and will move
only if I hold still.
Though in a dream I have
they stand so near I can feel them breathing.
Then, when I look down
I have disappeared.

Out at the wood's edge, the snorts and coughs of the feeding herd.
A gust startles a lift of leaves, and they
scatter and bound like the far-off heads
of deer in the distance.
The wind drops and the trees are antlered.