“Is all that we see or seem | But a dream within a dream?” ~ Edgar Allan Poe, from “A Dream within a Dream”

 

Edmund Dulac The Haunted Palace from The Bells and Other Poems 1912

Edmund Dulac’s “The Haunted Palace” (1912, pencil and watercolor) from The Bells and Other Poems, by E. A. Poe


“They wave:— from out their fragrant tops
Eternal dews come down in drops.
They weep:— from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe, from “The Valley of Unrest”

Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and cold, 40 degrees.

Edmund Dulac-alone-from-the-bells-and-other-poems-by-edgar-allan-poe-1912-wikipaintings1

Edmund Dulac’s “Alone” (1912, pencil and watercolor) from The Bells and Other Poems, by E. A. Poe

We have Olivia today, but she has a cold. You can really tell when she isn’t feeling well. It shows on her whole body.

Anyway, this post contains some works by French artist Edmund Dulac (1882-1953), who created a series of illustrations as a companion to Poe’s The Bells and Other Poems (1912). Click here to see the rest.

I came across the Kin Fables video below, created by Seb and Ben McKinnon, and it reminded me of both Poe and Dulac, so I have paired the video with a few Dulac illustrations, a few selections from Poe,  and the Margaret Atwood poem, “Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing.” By the way, Atwood turned 75 yesterday.

It’s a veritable cornucopia of things.

More later. Peace.

                   

Edmund Dulac The Valley of Unrest from The bells

Edmund Dulac’s “The Valley of Unrest” (1912, pencil and watercolor)from The Bells and Other Poems, by E. A. Poe

 

Kin Fables:

                   

Edmund Dulac TO --- --- MRS. MARIE LOUISE SHEW from the bells pencil and watercolor

Edmund Dulac’s “To — — (Mrs. Marie Louise Shew” (1912, pencil and watercolor) from The Bells and Other Poems, by E. A. Poe

Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing

The world is full of women
who’d tell me I should be ashamed of myself
if they had the chance. Quit dancing.
Get some self-respect
and a day job.
Right. And minimum wage,
and varicose veins, just standing
in one place for eight hours
behind a glass counter
bundled up to the neck, instead of
naked as a meat sandwich.
Selling gloves, or something.
Instead of what I do sell.
You have to have talent
to peddle a thing so nebulous
and without material form.
Exploited, they’d say. Yes, any way
you cut it, but I’ve a choice
of how, and I’ll take the money.

I do give value.
Like preachers, I sell vision,
like perfume ads, desire
or its facsimile. Like jokes
or war, it’s all in the timing.
I sell men back their worse suspicions:
that everything’s for sale,
and piecemeal. They gaze at me and see
a chain-saw murder just before it happens,
when thigh, ass, inkblot, crevice, tit, and nipple
are still connected.
Such hatred leaps in them,
my beery worshippers! That, or a bleary
hopeless love. Seeing the rows of heads
and upturned eyes, imploring
but ready to snap at my ankles,
I understand floods and earthquakes, and the urge
to step on ants. I keep the beat,
and dance for them because
they can’t. The music smells like foxes,
crisp as heated metal
searing the nostrils
or humid as August, hazy and languorous
as a looted city the day after,
when all the rape’s been done
already, and the killing,
and the survivors wander around
looking for garbage
to eat, and there’s only a bleak exhaustion.
Speaking of which, it’s the smiling
tires me out the most.
This, and the pretence
that I can’t hear them.
And I can’t, because I’m after all
a foreigner to them.
The speech here is all warty gutturals,
obvious as a slab of ham,
but I come from the province of the gods
where meanings are lilting and oblique.
I don’t let on to everyone,
but lean close, and I’ll whisper:
My mother was raped by a holy swan.
You believe that? You can take me out to dinner.
That’s what we tell all the husbands.
There sure are a lot of dangerous birds around.

Not that anyone here
but you would understand.
The rest of them would like to watch me
and feel nothing. Reduce me to components
as in a clock factory or abattoir.
Crush out the mystery.
Wall me up alive
in my own body.
They’d like to see through me,
but nothing is more opaque
than absolute transparency.
Look–my feet don’t hit the marble!
Like breath or a balloon, I’m rising,
I hover six inches in the air
in my blazing swan-egg of light.
You think I’m not a goddess?
Try me.
This is a torch song.
Touch me and you’ll burn.

~ Margaret Atwood

Two for Tuesday: Remembering


“Anything, anything would be better than this agony of mind, this creeping pain that gnaws and fumbles and caresses one and never hurts quite enough.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from No Exit And Three Other Plays

Tuesday evening. Partly cloudy and cold, 36 degrees.

Yes. It’s 38 degrees outside, and yesterday, it was 73, and my body is rebelling as it only knows how: I hurt all over, from my head to my feet. Last night I fell asleep while Corey and I were watching something on our very long dvr queue, and then I suddenly awoke at 2 a.m. and was unable to find asleep again until sometimes after 5.

"Moon Vase" (detail, c1885, earthenware with glaze)

“Moon Vase” (detail, c1885, earthenware with glaze)
by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer

I ran out of one of the meds that I take at bedtime day before yesterday, but I wasn’t too worried as I didn’t think that missing one or two nights would be that big of a deal. Apparently, my body thought otherwise. I had always believed that RLS (restless leg syndrome) was something made up by pharmaceutical companies to sell one more drug. However, try telling that to your brain when your legs jitter uncontrollably, and when they are not jittering, they are aching.

I had mentioned this to my pain doctor last year, and he said that it was classic symptoms of RLS and that my meds should take care of it. Well, they did, and then, apparently, the one I was without happened to be the one that did the most (does any of that make sense?).

“Then suddenly you’re left all alone
with your body that can’t love you
and your will that can’t save you.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “To the younger brother”

So anyway, spent hours online today trying to find the right part for our shower, something to alleviate the hammering that happens whenever the water is turned to hot. Apparently hammering is the correct term, something I found out after putting lots of different words into the search box to try to pinpoint exactly what was happening. Corey had thought that it was knocking pipes, but not so.

Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer Eve 1896 Pastel and gouache with gold

“Eve” (1896, pastel and gouache with gold)
by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer

We should have known that buying a knockoff brand for the shower faucet would come back to bite us in the butt, and it did. So, replacing parts after only a year—such a pain. Add to that the fact that we have to replace parts in my mother’s old shower as Brett says that it leaks like crazy. I’m fairly certain that the faucets in that particular bathroom are original equipment, if you can believe that.

And we are on the downside of November, a few days from a week until Thanksgiving, and holy crap. Where has this year gone. I mean this one, in particular, has completely bypassed weeks at a time, until now I only have one more page left on my calendar, and I find myself completely unprepared for next year.

So what else is new?

More later. Peace.

Today’s images are by French artist Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, whose works include paintings, drawings, ceramics, furniture and interior design. I was especially taken with his burnt orange and gold works, brilliant in his paintings and in his ceramics.


Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer La Bourrasque  The Gust of Wind pastel on paper 1897

“La Bourrasque” (1897, pastel on paper)
by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer

The Ruins of Timoleague Abbey

I am gut sad.

I am flirting
with the green waves,
wandering the sand,
feeding reflection
into the seaweed foam.

That Shaker’s moon
is up.
Crested by corn-colored stars
and traced by those witchy scribblers
who read the bone-smoke.

No wind at all —
no flutter
for foxglove or elm.

There is a church door.

In the time
when the people
of  my hut lived,

there was eating and thinking
dished out to the poor
and the soul-sick in this place.

I am in my remembering.

By the frame of  the door
is a crooked black bench.

It is oily with history
of the rumps of sages,
and the foot-sore
who lingered in the storm.

I am bent with weeping.
This blue dream
chucks the salt
from me.

I remember
the walls god-bright
with the king’s theology,

the slow chorus
of  the low bell,
the full hymn
of  the byre and field.

Pathetic hut.
Rain-cracked and wind-straddled.
Your walls bare-nubbed
by chill flagons
of ocean spit.

The saints are scattered.
The high gable
is an ivy tangle.
The stink of fox
is the only swinging incense.

There is no stew
for this arriving prodigal,
no candled bed.

My kin
lie under the ground
of this place.

My shape
is sloughed with grief.
No more red tree
between my thighs.
My eyes are milk.
Rage my pony.

My face has earnt
the grim mask.
My heart a husky gore.

But my hand. My hand
reaches through this sour air
and touches
the splendid darkness
of my deliverer.

~ Seán Ó Coileáin, trans. Tony Hoagland and Martin Shaw

                   

Lucien Levy-Dhurmer La Bourrasque Gust of Wind oil on canvas1896

“La Bourrasque” (1896, oil on canvas)
by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer

In the Park

This is the life I wanted, and could never see.
For almost twenty years I thought that it was enough:
That real happiness was either unreal, or lost, or endless,
And that remembrance was as close to it as I could ever come.
And I believed that deep in the past, buried in my heart
Beyond the depth of sight, there was a kingdom of peace.
And so I never imagined that when peace would finally come
It would be on a summer evening, a few blocks away from home
In a small suburban park, with some children playing aimlessly
In an endless light, and a lake shining in the distance.

Eventually, sometime around the middle of your life,
There’s a moment when the first imagination begins to wane.
The future that had always seemed so limitless dissolves,
And the dreams that used to seem so real float up and fade.
The years accumulate; but they start to take on a mild,
Human tone beyond imagination, like the sound the heart makes
Pouring into the past its hymns of adoration and regret.
And then gradually the moments quicken into life,
Vibrant with possibility, sovereign, dense, serene;
And then the park is empty and the years are still.

I think the saddest memory is of a kind of light,
A kind of twilight, that seemed to permeate the air
For a few years after I’d grown up and gone away from home.
It was limitless and free. And of course I was going to change,
But freedom means that only aspects ever really change,
And that as the past recedes and the future floats away
You turn into what you are. And so I stayed basically the same
As what I’d always been, while the blond light in the trees
Became part of my memory, and my voice took on the accents
Of a mind infatuated with the rhetoric of farewell.

And now that disembodied grief has gone away.
It was a flickering, literary kind of sadness,
The suspension of a life between two other lives
Of continual remembrance, between two worlds
In which there’s too much solitude, too much disdain.
But the sadness that I felt was real sadness,
And this elation now a real tremor as the deepening
Shadows lengthen upon the lake. This calm is real,
But how much of the real past can it absorb?
How far into the future can this peace extend?

I love the way the light falls over the suburbs
Late on these summer evenings, as the buried minds
Stir in their graves, the hearts swell in the warm earth
And the soul settles from the air into its human home.
This is where the prodigal began, and now his day is ending
In a great dream of contentment, where all night long
The children sleep within tomorrow’s peaceful arms
And the past is still, and suddenly we turn around and smile
At the memory of a vast, inchoate dream of happiness,
Now that we know that none of it is ever going to be.

Don’t you remember how free the future seemed
When it was all imagination? It was a beautiful park
Where the sky was a page of water, and when we looked up,
There were our own faces, shimmering in the clear air.
And I know that this life is the only real form of happiness,
But sometimes in its midst I can hear the dense, stifled sob
Of the unreal one we might have known, and when that ends
And my eyes are filled with tears, time seems to have stopped
And we are alone in the park where it is almost twenty years ago
And the future is still an immense, open dream.

~ John Koethe

                   

Music by Jude Christodal, “Madonna”

“see how weak I am, a mere breath on the air, a gaze observing you, a formless thought that thinks you.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from No Exit and Three Other Plays, trans. S. Gilbert

Victor Hugo Ma destinée 1867 ink and brown ink wash

“Ma destinée” (1867, ink and brown ink wash)
by Victor Hugo


Listen. .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall. ~ Adelaide Crapsey, “November Night”

Monday night. Windy and scattered showers, 74 degrees.

Victor Hugo The key is here, the gate elsewhere 1871 Pen, brown-ink wash, black ink, graphite, black crayon, charcoal, reserves and fingerprints or dabbings with highlights of white gouache on vellum paper

“The hey is here, the gate elsewhere” (1871, pen, brown-ink wash, black ink, graphite, black crayon, charcoal, reserves and fingerprints with highlights of white gouache on vellum paper)
by Victor Hugo

Did not have Olivia today. Instead, I took Alexis and Olivia to Lex’s doctor’s appointment in Virginia Beach. It was a brief but nice visit. Olivia is such a chatterbug, and she doesn’t miss anything. I’ve taught her two new things: the word terrible, and the sound that crows make “caw.” She has also discovered the deliciousness of soft pretzels, thanks to me.

I do what I can . . .

Anyway, I took them home and then came home and collapsed. Not really sure what’s going on, maybe my sugar levels, but I was quite dizzy. The same thing happened when I was out with Brett the other day; I actually had to find a place to sit down before I fell on my face. I’m not even going to bother to call my PCP. I mean, what’s the point? I’m dizzy . . . I’m not dizzy. Whatever.

But as a result, no productivity today—no post, no poem lurking somewhere in the recesses of my brain. Just this wonderful passage by Ray Bradbury and these ink drawings by Victor Hugo, both of which I’ve been holding,  waiting for an opportune moment, like now for instance. By the way, the periods in the Crapsey short poem above are in the original as posted.

More later. Peace.

                   

Victor Hugo Vianden Through a Spider's Web pencil, Indian ink, sepia on paper

“Vianden through a Spider’s Web” (nd, pencil, Indian ink, and sepia on paper)
by Victor Hugo

For some, autumn comes early, stays late through life where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ’s birth, there is no Bethlehem Star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring, or revivifying summer. For these beings, fall is the ever normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles—breaks. Such are the autumn people. Beware of them. ~ Ray Bradbury, from Something Wicked This Way Comes

                   

Music by Ray LaMontagne, “Jolene”

“Time has frozen. It sits on me, choking me.” ~ Mahmoud Darwish, from Memory for Forgetfulness

Balthus Window, Cour de Rohan 1951 oil on canvas

“Window, Cour de Rohan” (1951, oil on canvas)
by Balthus


“She was looking at the window. The words sounded as if they were floating like flowers on water out there, cut off from them all, as if no one had said them, but they had come into existence of themselves. She did not know what they meant, but, like music, the words seemed to be spoken by her own voice, outside herself, saying quite easily and naturally what had been in her mind while she said different things.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from To The Lighthouse

Saturday evening. Partly cloudy and cold, 41 degrees.

Pablo Picasso View of Riera de Sant Joan from the Window 1900 oil on wood

“View of Riera de Sant Joan from the Window” (1900, oil on wood)
by Pablo Picasso

I have spent most of the day on the computer, dabbling, as it were, and in between, another poem, another few lines. I am more grateful for this wellspring than I let on, too afraid of the day on which no words come, too afraid that that day will be the beginning of many more days, the beginning of years before more poems come again, if they come at all.

So I pretend on here that it’s really no big deal that I am again writing poems, downplay their appearance as mere happenstance. But you, dear reader, see through it all. Don’t you?

All the Silences I’ve Been Inclined To

“Story inclines to moment.
Moment inclines to silence.” ~ Source unknown

Within the steady beat of the metronome
lies the fiction of appearances:
real time is never so evenly spaced.
It moves slowly, like a rush hour freeway,
or skips entire days in a leap,
leaving Tuesday afternoon
only to move headlong into Friday night

Four-four time is a falsehood,
a myth about common time
based on countable seconds,
but I have yet to come upon
a single late afternoon
without struggling for air
somewhere around 2 pm.

And though I might contemplate
the silences of the minutes
between midnight and dawn,
I don’t think I’ll ever really understand
how so much nothingness
can claim us abruptly
like New Year’s eve fireworks
ablaze too soon.

L. Liwag
November 15, 2014

                   

Music by Rosi Golan, “Everything is Brilliant”

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

Friday evening. Partly cloudy and cold, 49 degrees.

Corey just left to take Olivia home. Yesterday when I told her that she was going home, she said, “No.” She wanted to stay with us; truthfully, she probably wanted to stay with Corey, who seems to be her most favorite person, and don’t think that he doesn’t love that! Anyway, now I am better able to see both sides—parent (dismay) and grandparent (humorous pride)—of the situation as Alexis always wanted to stay with her Oma and Papa. And the sun rose and fell on Alexis as far as my dad was concerned . . .

History truly repeats itself.

This week’s headline:

“That’s a gang sign? All this time I’ve been the lead-in for a notorious gang member  [Stephen Colbert]. . . which means, unfortunately, it’s time once again to update our ‘List of innocent things that black people do that look suspicious . . . don’t wear a hoodie, don’t carry skittles . . . and now, don’t point.’” ~ Jon Stewart, “The Daily Show” (November 12, 2014)

I still love Tobey Ziegler (“The West Wing”):

I hate everyone

Me, every single time I get behind the wheel of my car . . .

Oh, how I can relate to this . . .

This is what happens in my head every time I’m near one:

Photo: The pain! The agony!

Literally . . .

Moral of the story? Hire a koala as your hitman. Wait. No. What?

Hmm . . .

Um, perhaps texting is not for you?

23 Reasons Why Parents Shouldn't Be Allowed To Text 12 - https://www.facebook.com/diplyofficial

Me, responding to my kids’ texts when I just can’t take it any more:

Photo: It actually does take more effort to spell incorrectly these days via text.

I love Key & Peele:

We, as humans, have the imaginations and capabilities to do ingenious things like this, so why don’t we do this more?

Commas—they really do make a difference:

Photo: What a difference a comma makes!

Again, Toby remains my hero:

Really?

“It was November—the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines.” ~ L.M. Montgomery

Eero Järnefelt Autumn Landscape with a River 1895 tempera on grey paper

“Autumn Landscape with a River” (1895, tempera on grey paper)
by Eero Järnefelt


“There is no better time than the autumn to begin forgetting the things that trouble us, allowing them to fall away like dried leaves.” ~ Paulo Coelho, from Adultery

Thursday evening. Overcast and cold, 49 degrees.

Yesterday it was sunny and 74 degrees and Olivia and I sat in the backyard and watched birds and planes. Corey comes home and suddenly it is freezing outside. But he is home, safe and sound.

Eero Järnefelt Lakeshore with Reeds 1905 oil on canvas

“Lakeshore with Reeds” (1905, oil on canvas)
by Eero Järnefelt

I sat down at this computer to look up some information on a pharmaceutical company and to do something else. In between looking and typing, I have forgotten what the second thing was that I needed to do. It has left my brain completely, as if culled out like the whites from the yolk. You have no idea how completely enervating this is.

Anyway, been a busy day: kept Olivia over night so that I could surprise Corey at the airport; finished cleaning this morning; ran a few quick errands before nap time, and then I had to get Olivia up early from her nap so that we could be at the airport in time. Corey was very surprised and pleased. The house looks and more importantly, smells clean.

I’m in the middle of a really good book: A Simple Act of Violence, by R. J. Ellory; it’s a criminal investigation with a really intriguing political back story about the CIA and drug-funded wars, and there is nothing simple about it. It’s the first book by Ellory that I have read, and I’m wondering how his other books are. Has anyone out there read his work?

So since this is just a brief note, I thought I’d share this quiz you: “What’s your reading personality?”

Eero Järnefelt View from Koli 1923

“View from Koli” (1923)
Eero Järnefelt

Me? I’m an aesthete, of course:

By the way, I meant to say something a few posts ago: I’ve surpassed 1750 posts. Not bad for a little side project meant to distract me.

More later. Peace.

Images are by Finnish artist Eero Järnefelt (1863-1937)

Music by The Fire and the Sea, “Torn”

                   

Eero Järnefelt Autumn Landscape of Lake Pielisjärvi 1899 oil on canvas

“Autumn Landscape of Lake Pielisjärvi” (1899, oil on canvas)
by Eero Järnefelt

 

In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
go,
to let it go.

~ Mary Oliver

“Writing: a way of leaving no space for death, of pushing back forgetfulness, of never letting oneself be surprised by the abyss. Of never becoming resigned, consoled; never turning over in bed to face the wall and drift asleep again as if nothing had happened; as if nothing could happen.” ~ Hélène Cixous, from Coming to Writing and other Essays

“Sweetie,” by Terre des Hommes, Netherlands (click here for more information)

                   

“You promised me that oblivion
would strangle me with ringed hands.

You promised me I would remember nothing.” ~ Catherynne M. Valente, from “Helen in the Underworld”

Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and warm, 70 degrees.

Random thoughts on where poems come from:

The intriguing sequence of images above appeared on my tumblr dash recently. I knew I wanted to use them but was unsure as to how I could incorporate them into a post. Then I remembered that several days ago I came across the poem below by Erika Meitner about memory and her grandmother. I never knew my mother’s mother, and I only met my father’s mother once, so the idea of a grandmother has always been abstract to me.

Then this afternoon, I was reading while Olivia napped, and I suddenly thought about eyes, and then the following poem came to me all in a rush:

Grandmotherly Advice

We are peeling potatoes for Sunday dinner
and she says to me in that half whisper
she reserves for curse words
and perceived blasphemous phrases—
“It is in the eyes.
You can always tell by their eyes.”
And I wonder what this non sequitur it is
that my grandmother has suddenly given essence.
Evil? deception? duplicity? worse?
I think I may have seen this it,
once or twice in the eyes of strange men,
somewhere in how they first looked at me
and then through me, never finding me
substantive enough
for more than a second’s glance.
I do not tell her how much
I have wished a man (any man) might have stayed
long enough for me to see something in their eyes.
Anything at all.
She has already moved on
to the near-silent clucking
she issues to the cats
as she pours food
into their bowls,
and I know I will never again hear
of it or them.

L. Liwag
November 12, 2014

                   

Yizker Bukh

Memory is
flotsam (yes) just
below the surface
an eternal city
a heap of rubble
debris smaller
than your fist
an animal with-
out a leash
organized wreck-
age ghost net

or one hanging
silence on the phone—
she’s gone
, my sister said,
and we wept and wept
over my grandmother
while my sister sat
with her body and me
in the static and the rabbi
they sent told her to recite psalms
as comfort so we listened to each other
breathe instead and her breath was
a tunnel a handful of pebbles a knotted
Chinese jump-rope       her breath was the coiled
terrycloth turban our grandmother wore when she cooked
or walked the shallow end of her condo pool for exercise—
our grandmother still somewhere in her white turban sewing
Cornish game hens together with needle and string or
somewhere in her good wig playing poker or
somewhere in her easy chair watching CNN
while cookies shaped like our initials bake
in her oven O memory how much you
erased how many holes               we punched
in your facts since who knows the stories
she never told about the camps there are
no marked graves just too much food on
holidays diabetes my mother’s fear
of ships and the motion of some
suspension bridges O memory
you’ve left us trauma below
the surface and some above
like the fact that I can’t
shake the December
my sister’s red hair
caught fire from
leaning too close
to the menorah’s
candles, our
grandmother
putting her
out with a
dish towel
with her
strong
arms.

~ Erika Meitner

                   

Music by Michelle Branch, “Creep”