“Memory swells our reflections.” ~ Mahmoud Darwish, from ” Mural”

Hovsep Pushman Reflections 2, oil on board 1920s

“Reflections 2″ (1920s, oil on board)
by Hovsep Pushman


 “I am convinced that memory has a gravitational force. It is constantly attracting us. Those who have a memory are able live in the fragile present moment. Those who have none don’t live anywhere.” ~ Patricio Guzmán, from Nostalgia for the Light

Sunday afternoon. Sunny and not so cold, 50 degrees.

So late last night I wrote another poem. I’ve had the first line in my head for about a week, mulling it over, and then it came to me. It’s about my mom, so I really can’t tell if it’s any good. But I like the title . . .

Anyway, I’m hoping to put up the tree today, but I’m at the mercy of my sons, so I’m not counting on it. You see, Corey took all of the Christmas stuff—decorations, wrapping paper, tree—and put it in my mom’s garage, which is huge. I need all of it to come back over here. Alexis still has Corey’s truck, although I found out that Mike’s been driving it, which doesn’t make sense because it costs a fortune to fill up, but the Lex saga continues unabated, and I don’t want to talk about that right now.

Hovsep Pushman The Violets of Yesterday

“The Violets of Yesterday” (1920s-30s, oil)
by Hovsep Pushman

But because I don’t have the truck, I need Eamonn’s SUV. Unfortunately, on Friday, one of Eamonn’s closest friends died. I don’t know the circumstances yet, but I’m really hoping it wasn’t a suicide. So Eamonn is pretty devastated, and I don’t want to push him to bring over everything, even though he said earlier that he would help.

Brett and Em are coming over to do the outside lights, and they are bringing some stuff with them, but he can’t fit a lot into that old Honda, so I have no idea what I’m going to have here and what’s going to still be in the garage, and so once again, everything is much more complicated than it should be, and stressing over it and everything else is not helping me to get in the holiday spirit, as it were.

“Longing is not memory, but rather what is selected from memory’s museum. Longing is selective, like an adept gardener. It is the replaying of a memory after its blemishes have been removed.” ~ Mahmoud Darwish

So perhaps I shall turn the rest of this into a random thoughts post . . . yes . . . why not?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Harmony in Silver and Green” (nd, oil on panel, detail)
by Hovsep Pushman

  • I have read that a movie is on the horizon called Big Eyes, or something like that; it is based on those pictures of children with huge eyes, popular in the 60s, I think.
  • I have never understood the attraction of those images, but I remember that one of the grocery stores that my mom frequented gave away reproductions.
  • That was when you could actually get encyclopedias and such for coupons earned on purchases. (Remember green stamps? I do, vaguely) . . .
  • Apparently the artist (Keane) who became famous for painting those images did not actually paint them. His wife did.
  • Another woman shafted by the system.
  • Those pictures always freaked me out as a kid.
  • The irony is that today, most cartoons and comics (especially Asian anime) feature characters with over-sized eyes.
  • I still find that kind of characterization creepy.

“Memory belongs to the imagination.” ~ Alain Robbe-Grillet, from The Paris Review, “The Art of Fiction, No. 91″

So since this post is kind of about memory, here are a few more random ones:

Hovsep Pushman Statue, Vase and Bowl color lithograph

“Still Life: Vase and Bowl” (nd, oil)
by Hovsep Pushman

  • The first bit of verse that I memorized: “Where the bee sucks, there suck I: /In a cowslip’s bell I lie;”
  • It was by Shakespeare; I was seven or eight.
  • The first book of poetry that I ever owned: A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • I think that it was given to me right before we moved to the Philippines after my father retired from the Navy.
  • I once thought about memorizing “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Just to see if I could.
  • I was 11.
  • I remember the first line of a truly dreadful poem that I wrote in the 9th grade: “I, am nothing, without you”
  • I thought that putting the commas in would give me pauses.

“Nothing is left of that time beyond memories, only a faint remembering.” ~ Cesare Pavese

Hovsep Pushman Reflections oil on panel

“Reflections” (nd, oil on panel)
by Hovsep Pushman

Do you want to know something ironic? I think my memories of my early life are more easily accessible than my memories of the last ten years.

  • My mother once put me up to engaging my father in conversation in a very proper British accent while Dad was talking to someone else.
  • I did it. I remember I began with, “Father, dear. Mummy has . . .”
  • That’s all I remember of that, but can you imagine how strange that man must have thought I was, how strange our family was?
  • I once spent about four weeks speaking in nothing but a Cockney accent
  • It became so much of a habit that I actually answered the phone by saying, “‘Ello, luv.”
  • I really should have been on the stage.
  • Speaking of which, I gave serious thought to moving to New York right after high school graduation, but I’m pretty sure my mother talked me out of it.
  • As someone who loved to pretend and act, how did I end up with three kids who are all afraid to be on a stage?

“I was going to be a memory when I grew up.” ~ Alejandro Zambra, from Ways of Going Home

Let’s bring this full circle:

Hovsep Pushman Silence Oil on canvas

“Silence” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Hovsep Pushman

  • When I was about 8 or 9, my mother told me that I could marry the Prince of Wales.
  • Where did my mother get her airs from?
  • She never got over leaving London and coming back to the states.
  • I wish she had gone back to London for a visit, yet I’m glad that she didn’t because the London of today is nothing like the London of my childhood.
  • I just had a flash of a wild memory: My dad shipped his convertible to London when he was transferred there. We used to go on country drives on Sunday, you know, family, friends, picnics . . . I had seen in some movie how this glamorous woman sat up on the back seat of the convertible and let the wind blow through her hair. You guessed it, while no one was paying any attention to me, I got up on the back seat (on the part that housed the folded soft top) and sat there for a good part of the drive until my mother turned around and saw me.
  • I still wonder if my dad saw me in the rear view mirror and didn’t do anything because he thought it was funny.
  • No seat belts for us.
  • I guess I got my airs from my mother and movies.

My new poem is below. I’ve also included a particularly beautiful poem by Philip Shultz, not because I’m comparing mine to his, but because I love how it ties in to the idea of memory.

More later. Peace.

All images are by Armenian artist Hovsep Pushman (1877-1966).

Music by Memoryhouse, “Old Haunts (Aurora Remix)”

                   

Shopping at Wal-Mart the Week before Christmas

It all began with the Almond Rocha, you see,
the richly colored pink and gold tin
I took from the shelf without thinking,
one of my mother’s favorites, even though
each time I gifted her this sweet,
I was sure to hear a weary sigh
followed by the words,
I have diabetes, you know,
even as she dug into the can
for one of the gold, foil-wrapped
butter crunch toffees, as if somehow
the knowledge of her condition
had slipped my mind
sometime since the last time
she had reminded me
of the circumstance she herself
ignored so judiciously,
but every Christmas
I would give her a large tin
because it was the only present
I was sure she wouldn’t hate, the only one
that wouldn’t have to go back to the store
for one reason or another,
and I’ll let you in
on another little secret—
I didn’t find a single empty tin
when I spent those long winter days
erasing her from the home
in which she had spent almost
a half century, not one
nestled among the endless packs
of charity greeting cards
with their insipid messages,
not a single one
hidden among the baskets
filled with long-dried bingo markers
in red and green and blue,
not even one left neglected
in the old bar, where funnily enough,
I found an almost empty bottle of tequila
and a very dusty liqueur bottle
shaped like a monk.
So I replaced the new tin on the shelf,
among all the other holidays confections,
left my half-filled cart
of soaps, nail polish,
and lemons, and promptly
walked out into the night
before the memory of her voice
could catch me.

L. Liwag
December 14, 2014

                   

Talking to Ourselves

A woman in my doctor’s office last week
couldn’t stop talking about Niagara Falls,
the difference between dog and deer ticks,
how her oldest boy, killed in Iraq, would lie
with her at night in the summer grass, singing
Puccini. Her eyes looked at me but saw only
the saffron swirls of the quivering heavens.

Yesterday, Mr. Miller, our tidy neighbor,
stopped under our lopsided maple to explain
how his wife of sixty years died last month
of Alzheimer’s. I stood there, listening to
his longing reach across the darkness with
each bruised breath of his eloquent singing.

This morning my five-year-old asked himself
why he’d come into the kitchen. I understood
he was thinking out loud, personifying himself,
but the intimacy of his small voice was surprising.

When my father’s vending business was failing,
he’d talk to himself while driving, his lips
silently moving, his black eyes deliquescent.
He didn’t care that I was there, listening,
what he was saying was too important.

“Too important,” I hear myself saying
in the kitchen, putting the dishes away,
and my wife looks up from her reading
and asks, “What’s that you said?”

~ Philip Schultz

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Noooooo………


Argh. I forgot to hit schedule. Dang it all…………..

This week’s headline:

Done . . .

Meanwhile, in Canada:

Um . . . excuse me? You fed the pears?

This:

What a charming place to wile away the afternoon . . .

Another doggie for you:

I have come to love Key & Peele. In this clip, girlfriend Meegan is the worst moviegoer ever:

A few facts for you from :

  • Dr. Dre has made more money from selling his popular Beats headphones than he did making music.
  • The North Korean World Cup soccer fans are actually hand picked by the NK government and are also made up of Chinese volunteers since North Koreans are not allowed to travel.
  • US President Harry Truman fell in love with his future wife Bess in Sunday School when he was 6 years old and she was 5. He never loved another woman.
  • A gamer once complained on the Runic Games forums that a specific camera effect made a game unplayable for her due to a rare eye condition. Mere hours later, and early on a Sunday morning, the developers released a patch that added a user toggle for the effect.
  • The “Gangnam Style” video has surpassed 2 billion views on Youtube and is the first Youtube video in history to do so.
  • Netflix employs a team of “taggers” who are paid to just watch movies/shows on Netflix and tag the content.
  • The astronomer Tycho Brahe not only owned a tame moose. That moose died by falling down a flight of stairs while drunk.
  • In 1971, a thief broke into a house and was shot in the legs by a trap set up by the homeowner. The thief then sued for damages—and won.
  • The Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty concluded around 1259 BCE is the oldest written peace treaty that still survives today.

Sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

“All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.” ~ Cormac McCarthy, from The Road

Alfred Agache Ênigme, 1888

“Ênigme” (1888)
by Alfred Agache

 


“It is the tenderness that breaks our hearts. The loveliness that leaves us stranded on the shore, watching the boats sail away. It is the sweetness that makes us want to reach out and touch the soft skin of another person. And it is the grace that comes to us, undeserving though we may be.” ~ Robert Goolrick, from The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life

Wednesday night, late. Cold and mostly clear, 41 degrees.

Fernand Khnopff Woman of Mystery 1909

“Woman of Mystery” (1909)
by Fernand Khnopff

Sometimes words come to me. I don’t know from where, and I don’t always know what they mean. It is more than a bit disconcerting. It’s not like writing a poem, or a story. It is something altogether different, and I don’t quite know how to explain it.

So when the following words came to me, I inscribed them in the front of the book that I was reading because even though they were so clear and so strong when they hit my mind, I knew that I would forget them if I didn’t write them down.

I need one caveat: My concept of grace has changed tremendously throughout the years. What grace means to me and what it meant to me? That is completely personal.

Anyway, here they are. Make of them what you will:

It is with grace that I come here,
Grace that I bring thee,
Grace sevenfold.

More later. Peace.

Music by Róisín O, “Hold On”

                   

Everything That Acts Is Actual

From the tawny light
from the rainy nights
from the imagination finding
itself and more than itself
alone and more than alone
at the bottom of the well where the moon lives,
can you pull me

into December? a lowland
of space, perception of space
towering of shadows of clouds blown upon
clouds over
new ground, new made
under heavy December footsteps? the only
way to live?

The flawed moon
acts on the truth, and makes
an autumn of tentative
silences.
You lived, but somewhere else,
your presence touched others, ring upon ring,
and changed. Did you think
I would not change?

The black moon
turns away, its work done. A tenderness,
unspoken autumn.
We are faithful
only to the imagination. What the
imagination
seizes
as beauty must be truth. What holds you
to what you see of me is
that grasp alone.

~ Denise Levertov

“What I sometimes mistake for ecstasy is simply the absence of grief.” ~ Sarah Kane, from Crave

Robert Demachy Mignon 1900 photogravure

“Mignon” (1900, photogravure)
by Robert Demachy


 

Friday leftovers, sort of . . .

Friday afternoon. Cloudy and a bit warmer, 53 degrees.

Today is my father’s birthday.

I feel a bit better today, but Bailey seems to be ill with the throwups. Anyway . . .

Robert Demachy Figure Tragique 1899 photogravure

“Figure Tragique” (1899, photogravure)
by Robert Demachy

In this particular dream, everyone makes an appearance. I have gone to stay with a friend, someone who is much richer than I am, and I believe I have overstayed my welcome. The mother, so kind at first, is now snippy and bitter. And I have run out of formula for the baby with me. Finally, my parents come to retrieve me. The mother acts snooty, saying something to my father like, “Oh, senator. I’m so glad to meet you. I’ve heard wonderful things about you.” And my father just looks confused, and I say, “That’s not a senator. That’s my father. My. Father.” And the mother just gives me one of those creepy smiles to show that she knows perfectly well that my father isn’t a senator, but then my dad surprises me and begins to play along. Skip to another room. My dad sits down next to me and tell me that I am never, ever to associate with these people again. I pretend to comply, but he knows that I am hedging, so he repeats himself. I am so startled that I tell him, yes, of course. The daughter with whom I am supposedly friends comes into the room and asks why her bedroom door is gone, and the mother tells her that she doesn’t need a door. The father in the family sits next to me and whispers that he is so sorry for how things have turned out, and I wonder why he is even bothering. At this point, other people appear, including the Hunt brothers from my youth (Chris and Dave), and they are wearing tacky tuxedos, and I could just kiss them for their brazenness. I can tell that their appearance is really offensive to the mother, so I stop everything to introduce them to her. The mother begins to clean around us, but I refuse to let her get the best of me. I begin to wrap some books to leave for my friend, and the mother comes over and tells me that I have made a mess, when I clearly haven’t. I just smile at her, one of her own smiles back at her, and I keep wrapping. Then I tell my parents that we have to stop and get formula for the baby, who at different points in the dream switches back and forth from a dog to a baby.

I wake up to Bailey throwing up on the bed.

No plethora of leftovers this week. Only a Jon Stewart clip because it is so awesome:

and as an added bonus, this one featuring a new addition to the show, priceless:

More later. Peace.

Music by Tame Impala, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” (love this video)

                   

For the young who want to

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.
Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.
Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don’t have a baby,
call you a bum.
The reason people want M.F.A.’s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else’s mannerisms
is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you’re certified a dentist.
The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

~  Marge Piercy

 

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

JEH MacDonald Winter Sketch 1912 oil on paperboard

“Winter Sketch” (1912, oil on paperboard)
by J. E. H. MacDonald

 


 

It’s snowing on my blog. Hooray, hooray!

Admittedly, it’s the little things . . .

Here. Have a really good poem in place of my inane ramblings:

Grocery Night

I have seen nothing that hasn’t already been
lost from its birth
so many times the avenues have a sheen—
as a car passed through a car wash glows
from happening in the now, which isn’t talking
in this city of snowmen
who lose their heads
and then their torsos
and even their nakedness.
And these same doors to needs
and to these shoppers
wheeling carts around,
and almost every time the same bagger
who shall remain nameless
pushing my groceries into the backseat,
as if to push his own
existence out of his hands and shut the door,
speaks in a voice fatigued by its own formality
the words for just how tedious it is
to buy this night and many like it,
we shoppers with sacks of perishable goodness
our heads moon above
with the borrowed light
of the streetlights and the car lights
spread across our features
carved at times as out of sheer inertia.
That light is changing like the money
we try to make all day and into night
provision our lives
while our children roll another evening away
until it snowballs
to people with nothing but weather on their minds
shaped out of this snow,
still wearing handprints,
looking more and more like the mess
one life is not enough to face.
Landscape of demand and demand
and little lights of comprehension,
supply of saving graces,
the sacks of groceries in back
death cannot celebrate
and famine cannot touch,
as each engine turns over
like a sleeper and is gunned alive,
I look up from my hands on the wheel.
Behind each pair of car lights
there is a person or two, families
whole or broken,
workers all alone
warming their hands with their breath
in distances you must travel to believe,
merging with the bound—
this road, this wilderness—

~ William Olsen

                    

Music by Luluc, “Gold on the Leaves”

 

“A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.” ~ Albert Camus

Camus autumn


“Life can be magnificent and overwhelming—that is the whole tragedy. Without beauty, love, or danger it would almost be easy to live.” ~ Albert Camus

Monday afternoon. Rainy and warm, 74 degrees.

I have an appointment with my pain doctor today, am expecting a lot of trigger point injections in my back. Then I have to find a turkey, which I’m hoping isn’t too big of a deal on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Actually, I have to find two smallish turkeys: one for Mike to smoke, and one for Corey to deep fry. We’re trying something different this year. We shall see . . .

Anyway, not a lot of time to put together anything in any way coherent, so I thought I’d marry Camus and Bonnard in a lovely blend of autumn bliss. Enjoy . . .

Pierre Bonnard Autumn colon The Fruit Pickers 1912 oil on canvas

“Autumn: The Fruit Pickers” (1912, oil on canvas)
by Pierre Bonnard

“For the moment at least, the waves’ endless crashing against the shore came toward me through a space dancing with golden pollen. Sea, landscape, silence, scents of this earth, I would drink my fill of a scent-laden life, sinking my teeth into the world’s fruit, golden already, overwhelmed by the feeling of its strong, sweet juice flowing on my lips. No, it was neither I nor the world that counted, but solely the harmony and silence that gave birth to the love between us. A love I was not foolish enough to claim for myself alone, proudly aware that I shared it with a whole race born in the sun and sea,alive and spirited, drawing greatness from its simplicity, and upright on the beaches, smiling in complicity at the brilliance of its skies.”

~ Albert Camus, from “Nuptials at Tipasa”

                   

Music by Gregory Alan Isakov, “Light Year”

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Friday night. Clear and cool, 41 degrees.

Woke up with a migraine that left me puny for almost the whole day . . . Le sigh . . .

This week’s headline:

“You’re maudlin and full of self-pity. You’re magnificent!” ~ Joseph L. Mankiewicz, from All About Eve

The philosophy of Calvin and Hobbes:

Calvin: They say the world is a stage. But obviously the play is unrehearsed and everybody is ad-libbing his lines.

Hobbes: Maybe that’s why it’s hard to tell if we’re living in a tragedy or a farce.

Calvin: We need more special effects and dance numbers.

Finally, I have found the perfect graphic to illustrate my complicated relationship with math beyond algebra:

So Ellen does Matthew McConaughey’s Lincoln Commercial, and it’s soooo much better:

And speaking of women making it better, you must read the Amazon comments for this product:

And continuing with the education themes . . . this teacher does it for the win:

I can’t believe I ate the whole thing . . .

A possum broke into an Australian bakery and ate so many pastries it couldn’t move. This is how they found him.

Things that make you go hmm . . . Yes, these were real ads (click here to see more):

Speaking of the past . . . things Olivia’s generation will never know:

incredibly long download times for one song . . .

Saving homework on one of these and then losing it . . .

Twitter turns Time magazine’s proposed ban on word feminist into Princess Bride tirade:

Dogs can be such dweebs:

Music by who else? Pink Floyd, “Another Brick in the Wall”