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Quetzal performs “Todo lo que tengo (All that I have)”:

Venus Mourns America
Marlene Dumas, artist
Art in America cover, June/July 2017

– excerpted from The Triumph of Freedom by William Lloyd Garrision


Denis Johnson
July 1, 1949 – May 24, 2017

Snow Geese

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask

of anything, or anyone,

yet it is ours,
and not by the century, or the year, but by the hours.

One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was

a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun

they were, in part at least, golden. I
held my breath
as we do
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us

as with a match
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,

but delightfully, as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.

The geese
flew on.
I have never
seen them again.

Maybe I will, someday, somewhere,
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters,
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

– Mary Oliver

Been a difficult week. After spending most of it parsing data and creating a detailed worksheet, found out yesterday afternoon that the information that I had been fed was wrong.

I thought of this line, “The best laid plans…”

When I repeated it to someone, they didn’t understand. Then I realized, that although I knew this fragment, I didn’t really know where it came from other than it was an old poem.

So I looked…and found Robert Burns’ To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough (Scot’s Tae a Moose).

Here are the last two stanzas (original and modern translation):


It’s Friday…keep moving…

mouse-and-grapesMouse and Grapes
Ding Yanyong
ink and wash painting


pastan poem 2

portrait-of-juliette-courbetPortrait of Juliette Courbet As A Sleeping Child
Gustave Courbet, 1841
Graphite on paper

jane kenyon quote 2

There’s no magic here. Painting, photography, writing, sculpture – it’s work. Physical, frustrating, frightening, and often discouraging work. It’s ours – and hours – alone.

The creative act is also incredibly fragile. It’s a small spark – a word, a phrase, a bit of light, a small spot of color. It comes and goes quickly. It’s emotion. Something to be felt, seen, or smelled.

Then comes the sheer joy of movement.

Don’t get hung up on the instruction books, the special lenses, the right brushes and paint, the moleskin notebooks that guarantee an “experience.” The only way to start is to begin.

Give it time, give it space, give it opportunity. The words will out.

(Kenyon panel above inspired by The Writer’s Almanac…)

failing and flying complete
divider separator

study of ellie sleeping_oconnorStudy of Ellie Sleeping
Liam Marc O’Connor, artist
oil on zinc, 2015

[Above poem from the book Refusing Heaven …]

Passing Through a Small Town
by David Shumate

Here the highways cross. One heads north. One heads east
and west. On the comer of the square adjacent to the
courthouse a bronze plaque marks the place where two Civil
War generals faced one another and the weaker surrendered.
A few pedestrians pass. A beauty parlor sign blinks. As I tum
to head west, I become the schoolteacher living above the
barber shop. Polishing my shoes each evening. Gazing at the
square below. In time I befriend the waitress at the cafe and
she winks as she pours my coffee. Soon people begin to
talk. And for good reason. I become so distracted I teach my
students that Cleopatra lost her head during the French
Revolution and that Leonardo perfected the railroad at the
height of the Renaissance. One day her former lover returns
from the army and creates a scene at the school. That evening
she confesses she cannot decide between us. But still we spend
one last night together. By the time I pass the grain elevators
on the edge of town I am myself again. The deep scars of love
already beginning to heal.

[from Shumate’s book, High Water Mark: Prose Poems, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004]

hopper_morning sunMorning Sun
Edward Hopper, 1952

Poet Anne Shaw at First Book Interviews:


anne shaw and reillyAnne Shaw and Reilly
photo by Allie Leach

 [Sorry…late addition… h/t to Jacob Sam-LaRose over at miscellany for the lead in…I hit the buzzer too fast…]

© Bill Israel

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