“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

“I’m not quite the last.” ~ Marcus Sedgwick, from Midwinter Blood

Carl Larsson Midvinterblot 1915 oil on canvas

“Midvinerblot” (1915, oil on canvas)
by Carl Larsson, in situ at the National Museum in Stockholm


“Indeed. People think the name of this island means ‘blessed,’ and so it does, but ‘blessed’ does not mean what people thin kit does. In the old tongue it was bletsian and before that blotsian, and before that, just blod. It means sacrifice.” ~ Marcus Sedgwick, from Midwinter Blood

Saturday, late afternoon. Partly cloudy and not so cold, 51 degrees.

I just read the most amazing book: Midwinterblood (2013) by Marcus Sedgwick. The painting above, which was created for the central staircase hall of the Stockholm’s National Museum, figures prominently in the story, or rather, stories, seven to be exact.

It’s a fast but intricate read, tracing the tale of Eric and Merle through hundreds of years, and seven iterations. I was fascinated by the deft mixing of mystery, fantasy and history that links the seven stories, beginning in the future, and traveling back before time on record.

Apparently, it’s a book for teens, but I find that classification a bit useless. What defines a book? That’s a whole other post. But what aggravates me about that category for this book is that while the stories would appeal to teens, it takes a bit of life to understand and appreciate that love through seven different lives does not have to be passion-filled love between lovers in order to be important. I’m not sure if I’m making much sense, perhaps because I literally just put the book down and walked over to my desk to write this.

Alex Brown of tor.com wrote a wonderful review, which you can find here. And here is a short YouTube promo for the book that I found intriguing:

More later. Peace.

Music by Delerium (featuring Azure Ray), “Keyless Door”

                   

When I awoke this morning, I was mulling over the last line to Robert Browning‘s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came. Which brought to mind (a non sequitur, I know) bits of the following, which I had to search for before finding the actual poem, and then hours later I realized that I had gone of on some tangent and had completely forgotten (once again) to publish the post . . . anyway:

Longing

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

Come, as thou cam’st a thousand times,
A messenger from radiant climes,
And smile on thy new world, and be
As kind to others as to me!

Or, as thou never cam’st in sooth,
Come now, and let me dream it truth,
And part my hair, and kiss my brow,
And say, My love why sufferest thou?

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

~ Matthew Arnold

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

Two for Tuesday: Winged

Vaux's Swifts by A Edmonstone FCC

Vaux’s Swifts by A Edmonstone (FCC)


“I would stand caught in perfect balance in the interlight. In inescapable transitoriness I could have dissolved like a phantom into the swift black. I was marked out in peacefulness, and whole. When a dog barked, I started out of my rumination and breathed deeply, salty air, smell of crayfish, smell of damask rose, smell of clove and broadbean. I could smell the first early stars.” ~ Wilma Stockenström, from The Expedition to the Baobab Tree

Tuesday late. Cold, 40 degrees.

Cattle Egrets, Victoria, Australia ed dunens FCC

Cattle Egrets, Victoria, Australia by Ed Dunens (FCC)

I had Olivia overnight and part of today. I an unspeakably tired. I think I was dozing a bit in the rocking chair as she was talking to me. I had tried to get to sleep earlier last night as I knew that I would be up earlier, but as is the case most of the time, I simply could not.

My reading binge continues. I read another book this evening, another in the Pendergast series by Preston and Child, the latest. It was a good one. They went off course a bit with a three-book series about the protagonist’s wife, but this one was back with the mystery and a hint of mysticism. I’m fairly certain that I own all of the books in the series, but they are stored here and there. One day I am going to reread the entire series, first to last. I hate it when a previous book is referenced, and I cannot quite remember what happened.

Anyway, I had these two picked out for last week, but then . . . life . . . ah me . . . (by the way, I hate that my search for images of swifts brought up nothing by Taylor Swift. Argh)

More later. Peace.

                   

The Rescue, by caroline, FCC

The Rescue by caroline (FCC)

Swift

1.

into flight, the name as velocity,
a swift is one of two or three hundred
swirling over the post office smokestack.
First they rise come dusk to the high sky,

flying from the ivy walls of the bank
a few at a time, up from graveyard oaks
and back yards, then more, tightening to orbit
in a block-wide whirl above the village.
2.

Now they are a flock.  Now we’re holding hands.
We’re talking in whispers to our kind, who
stroll in couples from the ice cream shop
or bike here in small groups to see the birds.

A voice in awe turns inward; as looking
down into a canyon, the self grows small.
The smaller swifts are larger for their singing,
the spatter and high cheeep, the shrill of it.

3.

And their quick bat-like alternating wings.
And the soft pewter sky sets off the black
checkmark bodies of the birds as they skitter
like water toward a drain.  Now one veers,

dives, as if wing-shot or worse out of the sky
over the maw of the chimney.  Flailing—
but then pulling out, as another dips
and the flock reverses its circling.

4.

They seem like leaves spinning in a storm,
blown wild around us, and we are their witness.
Witness the way they finish. The first one
simply drops into the flue. Then four,

five, in as many seconds, pulling out of
the swirl, sweep down. So swiftly, we’re alone.
The sky is clear of everything but night.
We are standing, at a loss, within it.

~ David Baker

                   

Eagle Wings by Ricymar Photography FCC

Eagle Wings by Ricymar Photography (FCC)

Eagle Poem

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon, within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

~ Joy Harjo

                   

Music by Gabrielle Aplin, “Salvation”

 

Sunday afternoon . . .

“Christmas is our time to be aware of what we lack, of who’s not home.” ~ John Irving, from A Prayer for Owen Meany

Sunday night. Less windy and colder, 47 degrees.

Okay, so it’s not exactly afternoon. I got distracted by the sound of my computer crashing over and over . . .

Anyway, I had set aside the following clips to share with you in my attempt to put myself squarely in a somewhat festive mood for the season. After all, I’m only going to be doing all of the lead up to Christmas mostly by myself as Corey won’t be getting home until Christmas eve. So I’ve told myself that I’m going to start this week, try to do a little each day, but the reality is with having Olivia, I never know how my days will turn out.

And truthfully, while I associate my father with Thanksgiving, I associate my mother with Christmas, and this is the first one without her, and I’m trying, really, really trying not to think too much.

So in the spirit of trying . . .

I will admit that I’m one of those people who cries at Christmas Commercials. My favorite was always the Miller “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” sleigh ride. I used to weep buckets. I’ve never been able to find a decent video of it, but I keep hoping. John Lewis (UK) commercials are always wonderful, and this year’s just slays me (it warrants repeating). And then there are the Coke commercials. Remember “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”?

The Stella Artois company did something truly amazing with their commercials this year. Here are two from their “Give Beautifully” series:

More later. Peace.

                   

An Old Man Performs Alchemy on His Doorstep at Christmastime

Cream of Tartar, commonly used to lift meringue and
angel food cake, is actually made from crystallized fine wine.

After they stopped singing for him,
the carolers became transparent in the dark,
and he stepped into their emptiness to say
he lost his wife last week, please
sing again. Their voices filled with gold.
Last week, his fedora nodded hello to me
on the sidewalk, and the fragile breath
of kindness that passed between us
made something sweet of a morning
that had frightened me for no earthly reason.
Surely, you know this by another name:
the mysteries we intake, exhale, could be
sitting on our shelves, left on the bus seat
beside us. Don’t wash your hands.
You fingered them at the supermarket,
gave them to the cashier; intoxicated tonight,
she’ll sing in the streets. Think of the old man.
Who knew he kept the secret of levitation,
transference, and lightness filling a winter night?
— an effortless, crystalline powder
That could almost seem transfigured from loss.

~ Anna George Meek

“Marriage is a fine institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.” ~ Mae West

Emma Florence Harrison The Wind illustration to the poem by William Morris

“The Wind” (,nd, watercolor illustration)
by Emma Florence Harrison


“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” ~ Katharine Hepburn

Saturday night. Very, very windy, 44 degrees.

The house is shaking, and the wind chimes are going crazy. Such wind. I put together this post a few days ago, but didn’t bother to schedule it for today because, well, that’s just how I roll . . . Anyway, a bit of tongue in cheek for the weekend. Enjoy!

To make up for my lack of Friday leftovers, I’m reblogging this wonderful post that I found on my tumblr dash. You may not have noticed, but I’ve been absent from tumblr for about a week. Just didn’t have the wherewithal to do anything with it. Anyhoo . . . enjoy:

Selections from Women Rejecting Marriage Proposals In Western Art History (click link for full post)

This post is brought to you by Seth D. Michaels.

NCP021195130  01

oh wow
flowers
the kind you get from the dirt, for free
how thoughtful

proposal42

I SAID, I’ll think about it
look are we gonna finish this chess game or what

The Wooing of Daphnis exhibited 1881 by Arthur Lemon 1850-1912

mmm
idk
i kind of already have all the cows i need
so i don’t really see what i would get out of this

Too Late 1858 by William Lindsay Windus 1822-1907

well you’re too late, Richard
I’m a lesbian now
WE’RE ALL LESBIANS NOW
ARE YOU HAPPY
YOU LEFT AND NOW WE’RE ALL LESBIANS AND EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE

proposal32

hang on
lemme just finish this chapter

The Proposal (The Marquis and Griselda) circa 1850 by Frederic George Stephens 1828-1907

is he wearing red tights?
is this man seriously wearing red tights while he proposes at me?

Palemon and Lavinia circa 1792 by Henry Singleton 1766-1839

i dunno
i kind of have a lot on my mind right now
i have a lot of
wheat in my skirt
and that’s a whole thing
so i don’t think this is a very good idea

The Wedding of St George and Princess Sabra 1857 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882

i will marry you if only to get my arm back
can you give me my arm back now please
and also stop kissing me on the bridge of my nose
which is like how no one has ever kissed anyone ever

Aurora Leigh's Dismissal of Romney ('The Tryst') 1860 by Arthur Hughes 1832-1915

look
i’m just going to be honest with you
no

proposal10this ring is
not nearly big enough to make up for your face

proposal15

what
no
i’m totally listening
this is my listening guitar
i’m playing my listening song

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 1.01.13 PMI SAID
BE WITH YOU
IN A MINUTE

proposal25

you had fucking better not be trying to propose to me with flowers 

proposal28

no
i’m good
you go ahead
i think ill just stay here
on this bridge
by myself

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 1.04.16 PM

babe i don’t know what you’re talking about
what guy
i don’t even know who you mean
i always had this ring on
he’s nobody, baby

proposal30

sorry i look so sad
it’s just because
i’m so disappointed

proposal33

can’t talk right now, weaving
can’t marry anybody right now, weaving, sorry
just leave the flowers and jewelry on the floor

proposal37

no she’s not here
idk where she is but it’s not here
it’s somewhere else
ok good luck bye!!
i’ll tell her you were looking for her good luck ok bye!!!
sorry this curtain’s really heavy so i have to close it now

The First Cloud 1887 by Sir William Quiller Orchardson 1832-1910lol bye

 


Christmas-Tree-stands-out-brightly-against--SNOW croppedChristmas-Tree-stands-out-brightly-against--SNOW cropped