Summertime

beach-memories-summer

Charles Simic, 78, the Pulitzer Prize winning Serbian-American poet, wrote a piece for The New York Review of Books which was published in July, 2013.  It is titled “Summertime” and is a wonderful collage of short reflections on summer. Here’s a few excerpts:

  • A wind so mild this afternoon it touches our faces as we lie in the shade like little children going to sleep.
  • Are rocking chairs in this country, I’m asking myself, being rocked on summer evenings as much as they once were? Or do they stand abandoned and motionless on dark porches across the land, now that their elderly owners tend to relieve their boredom by sitting in front of their computers?
  • To my great regret, I no longer know how to be lazy, and summer is no fun without sloth. Indolence requires patience—to lie in the sun, for instance, day after day—and I have none left. When I could, it was bliss. I lived liked the old Greeks, who knew nothing of hours, minutes, and seconds.
  • There’s something familial, deeply comforting in the sound of a pig oinking in the peace and slumber of a summer afternoon.
  • For the sweet old couple working side by side in the garden, being ignorant of what goes on in the world has been the secret of their lifelong happiness.

Don’t miss “Summertime” in its entirety here: The New York Review of Books


Notes:

 

 

The blind man himself saw, and the sighted one close behind him knew it

sky-cloud-summer-memory

In order to guide me better, Jean had invented a code. The pressure of his hand on my right shoulder meant: “Slope on the right. Shift the weight of your body to the left,” and vice versa. Pressure in the middle of my back said: “No danger in a straight line in front of you. We can walk faster.” Pressure on my back but on the left side was a warning: “Slow up! Right turn ahead.” And when the weight of his hand became heavier, it was because the turn ahead was a hairpin bend…

Jean and I ran into a hard fact — the fact that limits do not exist. If there are any, they are never the ones they taught us. People around us seemed satisfied when they said that a lame man walks with a limp, that a blind man does not see, that a child is not old enough to understand, that life ends with death. For the two of us, in our summer of green fields, twilight and dawn continually revolving, none of these statements stood its ground. We had friendship on our side. We had ignorance and bliss, and we looked at everything through these channels. They taught us all we knew. The blind man himself saw, and the sighted one close behind him knew it. Life was good, very good.

~ Jacques Lusseyran, And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II


Notes:

 

Saturday Morning

ocean-cloud

I’d like to walk there again.
It was so lonely — a nice kind of loneliness,
and all grass and clover and soft sea air.

– C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Chronicles of Narnia


Source: Quote – Schonwiener. Photo: Newthom

Driving I-95 S. With Little Lights.

martin-stranka-birds-road-silence

6:14 am. 28° F. Friday morning.

You push the start button, the engine fires.  The heater begins to blow.  The wipers clear the morning dew. The transmission slides into reverse.  Sirius beams down from the satellite circling, silently, way above.  You turn the dial and it’s Seals & Crofts. “Summer Breeze” fills the cabin and you mouth “makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.”  It fills you like Guskin’s current of heat running through your body, as if you’ve swum into a warm patch in a cold lake.  Your eyes scan the traffic in the right lanes, orderly, flowing. They shift to the horizon, the sunrise burns amber into the light cloud cover.

And there it comes. Heart-side. A morning rush of sorts.  The cables affixed to the poles – a mild current jumps and sparks, stops and starts up again. This continues for two to three minutes, a morning call in recent weeks.  This intermittent squeeze, a crack in the earth, the bedrock shivers. [Read more…]

Driving I-95 N. With Too Much Candy.

highway-stream-lights-driving

Thursday night ride home, up I-95 N on dry roads and heavy traffic.
My right hand rests on the dial.

So, DK, what’s it gonna be?
Radio, with its 50+ stations?
Sirius, with its 100 channels?
iPhone playlists, with 5437 tunes?
Or, Pandora streaming, with its infinite candy?

So much candy, yet never satisfied, yearning for the familiar grooves.

McEwen answers in World Enough & Time“Intake, for example: how much is enough?”

And Simon Reynolds follows: “Complaining that there’s too much good art and entertainment being made at the moment seems churlish — how could that be a problem? Yet it’s undeniable that there is something curiously oppressive about the current bounty, something paralyzing about our ease of access to it. keeping up with what’s good gets to seem like a chore. If anything, the overload in music feels even more unmanageable.”

And in flows nostalgia. An ache… [Read more…]

Sunday Morning: Sum


This is a short film by Temujin Doran based on the work of neuroscientist and writer David Eagleman’s book Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives:

“You spend two months driving the street in front of your house, seven months having sex. You sleep for thirty years without opening your eyes. For five months straight you flip through magazines while sitting on a toilet. You take all your pain at once, all twenty-seven intense hours of it. Bones break, cars crash, skin is cut, babies are born. Once you make it through, it’s agony-free for the rest of your afterlife.

But that doesn’t mean it’s always pleasant. You spend six days clipping your nails. Fifteen months looking for lost items. Eighteen months waiting in line. Two years of boredom: staring out a bus window, sitting in an airport terminal. One year reading books. Your eyes hurt, and you itch, because you can’t take a shower until it’s your time to take your marathon two-hundred-day shower. Two weeks wondering what happens when you die. One minute realizing your body is falling. Seventy-seven hours of confusion. One hour realizing you’ve forgotten someone’s name. Three weeks realizing you are wrong. Two days lying. Six weeks waiting for a green light. Seven hours vomiting. Fourteen minutes experiencing pure joy. Three months doing laundry. Fifteen hours writing your signature. Two days tying shoelaces. Sixty-seven days of heartbreak. Five weeks driving lost. Three days calculating restaurant tips. Fifty-one days deciding what to wear. Nine days pretending you know what is being talked about. Two weeks counting money. Eighteen days staring into the refrigerator. Thirty-four days longing. Six months watching commercials. Four weeks sitting in thought, wondering if there is something better you could be doing with your time. Three years swallowing food. Five days working buttons and zippers. Four minutes wondering what your life would be like if you reshuffled the order of events. In this part of the afterlife, you imagine something analogous to your Earthly life, and the thought is blissful: a life where episodes are split into tiny swallowable pieces, where moments do not endure, where one experiences the joy of jumping from one event to the next like a child hopping from spot to spot on the burning sand.”


Source: Brainpickings – How You Spend Your Life: A Cinematic Sum of the Hours, Days

Perspective of time and distance alter substance

pascal-campion-drawing-illustration-jump-child-youth-memories

In the poems I have been thinking of and writing the last few years, I have grown aware that childhood is a subject somehow available to me all over again. The perspective of time and distance alter substance somewhat, and so it is possible to think freshly of things that were once familiar and ordinary, as if they had become strange again. I don’t know whether this is true of everybody’s experience, but at a certain point childhood seems mythical once more. It did to start with, and it does suddenly again.

~ Donald Justice, from an interview with The Missouri Review, quoted by Linda Pastan, “Yesterday’s Noise: The Poetry of Childhood Memory,” Writer (vol. 105, no. 10, 1992)


Credits: Art – Pascal Campion. Quote: Memory Landscape

 

Driving I-95 S. With A Distant Fire.

driving-lights-highway

6:28am.
I hit the ignition, the middle aged lady groans but fires.
It’s 23°F and she’s not liking it.
You and me girl, still firin’. Going down with our boots on. Till death do us part.

’70s on 7 are spinning on Sirius.
Drums and Horns lead – and then the band comes in.
YOU only need a FEW bars, and you can feel it: HIT IT.

And I’m off…
Foot leans in on the accelerator.
Traffic in speed lane clears for the DK Express.
Head’s bobbin’. Shoulders’ rockin’. Karaoke winds up.

And here she comes… [Read more…]

(Nostalgia) The taste of early things lives on.

water-ocean-sea-wave-beach

As a boy I knew none of this. In the summer we went to the beach, Atlantic City, and stayed with my maternal grandparents: my mother, cousins, aunts, and I. Across the bright flatlands and bridges, the earth of the roadside losing its color, we drove, children in a separate compartment, the rumble seat, in back, hair blowing, arms waving in happiness. There was sea smell in the air and sun in the bedroom windows. The rhythm of life was set by adults but the carefree joys were ours.

We played all day in the sand, down where it was smoothest, the green sea hissing at our feet. Not far offshore was the black wreckage of a small coastal steamer. We were unable to go near it but it is stuck there in memory, the sea swelling over it and then pouring away, the water dropping in sheets from its sides…The taste of early things lives on.

In my mouth I feel the freshness of farm tomatoes and salt, the scrambled eggs my grandmother made, the unexpected gulps of sea. In my heart there remains childish love for those cousins, whom I saw only seldom and who later drifted away entirely.

~ James Salter, Burning the Days: Recollection


Image: “Beach Breaks” D.Fodie – Retrospective

Riding Metro North. With My Schwinn

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5:40 am train to Grand Central.
50º F. Top coat-free morning.
Warm.

Morning papers.

Photo of the Day: Jogger in Beijing. Eyes visible. Face covered with a mask. Street flooded with smog. Mile 1 of apocalypse?

Climate change.
Trump
Fear.
Guns.
Grim.

Hoo-Ah!
Lt. Col. Frank Slade (aka Al Pacino) in Scent of a Woman: “there isn’t nothin’ like the sight of an amputated spirit.

Bend it. Bend it back.

Mid-summer. 1970’s. Billy’s out front. Brother Rich and cousin Jim tail far behind.  The fishing pole is in my right hand and bending in the wind. I’m griping the handle bars and pumpin’ my legs.  Up down. Up down.  We reach the final leg, a steep decline.  Heads are tucked down and in over the handle bars. The Schwinn accelerates.  We lean into the slow turn right. And then into the slow turn left. The white birches lining the road are a blur.

Metro North makes its first stop and rolls on.  I turn my gaze to the window.  Lights from lamp posts, street lights and apartments illuminate the darkness and whiz by.

I turn my right shoulder ever so slightly to cock the rod.  Out of my right eye are lush forests.  I cast. The floater and lead are suspended in the air. The worm is tucked in tightly on the hook. Towering above, the Cascade Mountains watch over. And the cloudless blue skies watch over all of us.  The Kootenay River, clear, clean and lined with moss covered stones, meanders down stream.

The train pulls into Grand Central. We spill out.

The floater, red and striped, is suspended.  Hanging, frozen in time.

Hold it.

Stop right there.

Don’t let me go.


Notes:

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