Consequences never enter your thinking | at the start. ~ Herbert Morris, from “River Road”

Australian Coast by kangotraveler FCC
Australian Coast by kangotraveler (FCC)


Two for Tuesday: Herbert Morris

Thinking of Darwin

Were it not for that photograph,
disaster in its final stages,
matchbox houses coming down,
rubble of streets, uprooted trees,
lives we somehow could not envision,
removed from us and not our own,
on distant coasts the fall of night,
we might never have thought of Darwin,
remembered what we had forgotten,
nothing but desert at our backs,
somewhere the light gone grey, gone green,
the very texture of the air
evoking strangeness in us, distance,
deepwater harbor on the rim
of an island whose aspirations,
despite itself, assume proportions
hemispheric, continental,
set adrift in uncharted waters
where a wind from the Timor Sea
smacks of Celebes, of Java,
celebrates archipelagoes
for which no names have been devised,
where rain runs green, and rocks dream gold,
where every morning, on our tongues,
we taste the raging of the dust
gathering at abandoned stations
and know, or come to know, the life,
the littoral on which we wait,
though not yet clearly its true name,
not precisely its purpose with us;
where, naked, night to night, inventing
names for our nakedness, we lie
suspended under the Equator
between the wastes of self and weather,
trying to learn ourselves, our names,
what to make of this emptiness,
this sense of absence which afflicts us,
forgetting what we must remember,
the great Australian coast spun out
beyond our scrutiny in shales,
corals, limestones, salt scrub, sand,
discovery at every turn
and, this far south, no turning back,
latitudes of impossible
dimensions bleaching the horizon,
mapping what will not quite stay mapped,
nothing but desert at our backs,
nothing but darkness to advance on,
night on the routes that enter strangeness
more dangerously, in the evening,
than we can bring ourselves to say,
darkness and an interior
for which, of course, there is no name
except, unmapped, unknown, ourselves.

                    

Junkyard Still Life by radmegan fcc
Junkyard Still Life by radmegan (FCC)

These Are Lives

One could as well have chosen
that life of supermarket carts
junked in the backyard,
where you stand and wait
with your mechanic’s hands
and a bare chest
in summer, light
behind you jammed into the picture,
its code undecipherable
even by the camera,
so steep and dense its
dreaming smeared on the warped
boards of the toolshed, makeshift
cinder path, and what once must have been
grass of a lawn now given way
to automobile parts and that complication
of wreckage, brutal and casual
at once, whose talent it is to attach
itself to us in California
or to those lives in other places
we accede to.

Where evening finds us
I cannot name yet; these are lives
best seen, or dreamt, beneath that sun
of backyard chaos
and indeterminate nourishing power,
that sun of rusting crankshafts,
of beached headlights, where you wait
for what shall not be named yet in this poem,

where evening finds us,
should it find us,
on a second-hand mattress whose bent springs
jangle when the wind lies right,
those mechanic’s hands
to small avail
against the infinite
machine turning
the stars on over California,
the dark no doubt insisting moonlight
color chaos silver soon in backlots
where supermarket carts
and auto bodies
await, if we are gifted,
restoration at our hands
(and we are gifted),
we who, beneath that daylight etched
like anniversaries on the calendar
nailed to the toolshed wall,
wait for what has not disclosed its name,
neither in California
nor in this life of bleached,
unlikely places.

                   

Music by Rachel Rabin, “Raise the Dead”

“She wore flowers in her hair and carried magic secrets in her eyes. She spoke to no one. She spent hours on the riverbank. She smoked cigarettes and had midnight swims . . .” ~ Arundhati Roy, from The God of Small Things

Emil Nolde Sunflowers c1925-30 watercolor on paper
“Sunflowers” (c1925-30, watercolor on paper)
by Emil Nolde

                   

“Here was a flower (the daisy reflected) strangely like itself and yet utterly unlike itself too. Such a paradox has often been the basis for the most impassioned love.” ~ Thomas M. Disch, from The Brave Little Toaster

Emil Nolde Flower Still Life with Orchids c1923-24 watercolor
“Flower Still Lifew tih Orchids” (c1923-24, watercolor)
by Emil Nolde

Questions from Flowers (found on tumblr):

  • Daisy: How old were you when you had your first kiss? I was 12.
  • Carnation: If I handed you a concert ticket right now, who would you want to be the performer? Believe it or not I would like it to be country singer Luke Bryan; I think he’d be great in concert. Second choice would be Alison Krauss.
  • Jasmine: What color looks best on you? Red. Then black. Then purple.
  • Foxglove: Name three facts about your family? First, we have Filipino blood. Second, my father was a guerilla during the second world war. Third, there is a strong strain of military service throughout.
  • Allium: What’s the best thing you can cook? Brunswick Stew.
  • Orange Blossom: If you could pick the gender and appearance of your child, would you? No. Are you crazy?  Life should be full of happy surprises, your children most of all.

“Creating is living doubly. The groping, anxious quest of a Proust, his meticulous collecting of flowers, of wallpapers, and of anxieties, signifies nothing else.” ~ Albert Camus, from The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

  • Calla Lily: If you died right now, what song would you want to play at your funeral? “Where the River Meets the Sea,” and of course, “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.

    Pierre Bonnard Daffodils in a Green Pot 1887
    “Daffodils in a Green Pot” (c1887, oil on canvas)
    by Pierre Bonnard
  • Poinsettia: Favorite holiday dish? Cranberry Relish followed by Pecan Pie.
  • Oxlip: Would you ever get into a long distance relationship? I have. They’re very hard.
  • Primrose: Favorite kind of soup? Homemade beef vegetable soup.
  • Daffodil: What’s the most thoughtful present you’ve ever received? Anytime I am given a book or a gift card to buy books, but thoughtful is not romantic, and the most romantic present I’ve ever received was a string of pearls from my husband when we were dating.
  • Rose: Are you currently in love with someone? Yes, very much so.

“Yes, just like those flowers. There’s something strained, but there’s beauty in that. Something like that” ~ Koushun Takami, from Battle Royale

  •   Amsonia: Would you ever become a vegan? Probably not even though it would be better for me in some many ways.

    Emil Nolde Red Hawthorns with Green an dYellow Leaves and Brown Grass c1930
    “Red Hawthorns with Green and Yellow Leaves and Brown Grass” (c1930, watercolor on paper)
    by Emil Nolde
  • Peony: What’s your favorite hot beverage? It’s a tie between Hot Tea (preferably Darjeeling) and Southern Comfort served warm with honey and lemon.
  • Tulip: For your birthday, what kind of cake do you ask for? I like apple pie, or if not, homemade cheesecake.
  • Myrtle: Do you like going on airplanes? I used to, but lately I find them so cramped.
  • Hibiscus: Did you ever play an instrument? If so what? Piano, classically trained for 14 years.
  • Zinnia: Who was your best friend when you were six years old? Creighton Firth.

He knew the plants by name and took a few minutes with each of them: ageratum, coreopsis, echinacea, rudbeckia. The yarrow, he said, had rose-red flowers on two-foot stems. Achillea millefolium, the plant Achilles used to heal wounds.” ~ Frederick Weisel, from Teller

  • Poppy: What color was your childhood home? Brick.

    Only One by Georgia O'Keeffe 1959
    “Only One” (1959, oil on canvas)
    by Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Hydrangea: Starbucks order? Venti latte (no bells or whistles)
  • Violet: Do you like where you’re from? Do you mean where I was born (yes), or my heritage (yes), or where I’m currently living? The answer to the last is probably sometimes. It’s a nice area, but it’s not where I want to spend my life.
  • Locust: What was your favorite book as a child? A Secret Garden
  • Rhododendron: What’s the scariest dream you’ve ever had? I have lots of scary dreams, usually involving some kind of killing.
  • Queen Anne’s Lace: Would you rather carve pumpkins or wrap presents? Wrap presents.

Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her . . .” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, from The Little Prince

  • Magnolia: Favorite kind of candy? It varies. Right now it’s Starburst berries. Last year it was gummi bears. A few years ago it was Twizzlers . . . so chewy stuff.

    Odilon Redon Three Vases of Flowers  1908-1910 oil
    “Three Vases of Flowers” (1908-10, oil on canvas?)
    by Odilon Redon
  • Aster: Would you rather be cold or hot? Cold. You can always add more clothes or blankets.
  • Marigold: Do you listen to what’s on the radio? Not usually.
  • Heliconia: Do you like when it rains? Yes, if it’s storming with lightning. Just cold rain, not so much.
  • Azalea: What’s a movie you cried while watching? So many: Return of the King is the first one that comes to mind. But I remember I wept during The English Patient.
  • Dandelion: Do you think you’re important? Not nearly as important as I think I am.

                   

Music by Dum Dum Girls, “Coming Down”

                   

Findings

Found what I think are the breast feathers
of a flicker lying in the melting snow
in front of the house. Found a crow feather
in Bozeman one spring and have kept it
in a vase on top of the dresser. Yarrow grows
where my son planted a root last summer,
and hyssop seeds have sprouted
with the wildflowers. Found spearmint
growing under the outside faucet
and tiny blue snails in the fallen apples
and black and white hornets stumbling drunk
around the rotting apples in August. The columbine
had eight inches of new growth in January,
and two summers ago found a red-shafted flicker
lying in the alley behind my house
with grass in its throat and wasps
crawling in and out of its mouth.
Its wing feathers were dazzling
and I took them, buried its body
in tall weeds, saved the feathers
in checkbook boxes in the dresser
beside a Norwegian pewter cake server,
a twenty dollar bill, some old ribbons
and a flat rock from the Marias.
His mate remained in the neighborhood until fall,
and this February a pair or flickers returned
to eat last year’s sunflower seeds
at the side of the garage.
One spring, hundreds of crows filled a single tree,
their black wings shifting against dense bodies
and air, their voices calling across leaves
then reeling into space.
Saw flickers in the park last spring,
a male calling with such racket
my son covered his ears, and
from across the park, through twigs
and leaves pushing out from resinous shells,
a female approached, blended into bark
and clouds, and for an instant, opened to the sound.

~ Tami Haaland