“A mile away in the night I had heard the bombs
Sing and then burst themselves between cramped houses
With bright soft flashes and sounds like banging doors;” ~ Roy Fisher, from “The Entertainment of War”
Making beauty out of the blasphemous (reblobbed from an article by Damien Gayle in The Daily Mail):
A Palestinian woman waters dozens of plants near her desert home, each growing from used tear gas canisters collected in years of clashes with Israeli soldiers.
Her curious garden, photographed today, is in the village of Bilin, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, the de facto capital of the State of Palestine.
Much of the territory is disputed. Israel continues to expand settlements in the West Bank which the international community have long ago ruled to be illegal.
Disputed land: A Palestinian woman waters dozens of plants near her desert home, each growing from used tear gas canisters collected in clashes with Israeli soldiers during protests against the West Bank occupation
Poignant: The curious garden, photographed today, is in the village of Bilin, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, the de facto capital of the State of Palestine
Symbolic: The flowers, with their unusual pots, mark land Palestinians were able to reclaim two years ago after a court battle to re-route Israel’s controversial security wall
The flowers, with their unusual pots, mark land Palestinians were able to reclaim two years ago after a court battle to re-route Israel’s controversial security wall.
“A mother looks at another—
a sea of small bodies
burnt or decapitated
and asks, How do we mourn this?: ~ Nathalie Handal, “Tiny Feet”
Still under construction, the Israeli West Bank barrier is a security wall that will eventually stretch 430 miles around the entire West Bank region.
Israel argues that the barrier is needed to protect its people from Palestinian terrorism, and since construction began the number of suicide bombing attacks have fallen significantly.
But critics of the policy object that the route of the barrier deviates substantially from internationally agreed boundaries into territories occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War.
They argue that it uses security concerns to mask an illegal attempt to annex Palestinian land.
A flower hangs from the barbed wire of Israel’s barrier: Still under construction, the Israeli West Bank barrier is a security wall that will eventually stretch 430 miles around the entire West Bank region
Beauty in the midst of horror: Israel argues that the barrier is needed to protect its people from Palestinian terrorism, and since construction began the number of suicide bombing attacks have fallen significantly
Surviving in adversity: But critics of the policy object that the route of the barrier deviates substantially from internationally agreed boundaries and uses security fears to mask an illegal attempt to annex Palestinian land
Music by Mogwai, “I Do Have Weapons”
The Diameter Of The Bomb
The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters
and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,
with four dead and eleven wounded.
And around these, in a larger circle
of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered
and one graveyard. But the young woman
who was buried in the city she came from,
at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
enlarges the circle considerably,
and the solitary man mourning her death
at the distant shores of a country far across the sea
includes the entire world in the circle.
And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans
that reaches up to the throne of God and
beyond, making a circle with no end and no God.
“Blue Monday: Rain, debt and divorce make it worst day of the year” ~ From The Daily Mail (1/5/2014)
I had no idea this was a thing, an actual thing that people write about and talk about. Who knew?
Tidbits I picked up from various sites:
In 2005, British academic Cliff Arnall claimed that Blue Monday, the third Monday of January, could be the most depressing day of the year, as anxieties replace holiday cheer and winter drags on.
Cliff Arnall began calculating the happiest and gloomiest days of the year back in 2005 while working as a professor at Cardiff University in Wales.Arnall devised a Blue Monday formula that calculates factors such as weather, debt, time passed since Christmas, failed New Year’s resolutions, low motivation and the need to take action.While there is no scientific support for Arnall’s theory, some might find the formula 1/8W+(D-d)3/8xTQMxNA itself too depressing even to contemplate.
He [Arnall] calculated the date using a variety of factors including weather conditions, debt levels, failed New Year’s resolutions and the number of days that had elapsed since the end of the Christmas holidays.But over the past three years, researchers analysed more than 2million tweets posted by Britons in January looking for negative language and phrases indicating a drop in mood.They found that today, there will be nearly five times the average number of tweets relating to guilt, as people abandon their promises to pursue a healthier lifestyle.The analysis, by drinks company Upbeat, also found complaints about the weather will be six times higher than usual – and men will feel more miserable than women.
Today has also been dubbed Divorce Monday by legal experts. It is the most popular day of the year for starting divorce proceedings. And January is the busiest divorce month, with twice as many divorces being filed as the second most popular month September.
Based on a number of factors, such as weather and post-holidays blues, it’s been suggested that the most depressing day of the year falls on the Monday of the last full week in January.The Calgary Counselling Centre is marking the day by offering a list of ways to beat the doldrums and make this particular Monday a little less blue.”As the holidays come to a close, the post-holiday stress is setting in. A combination of cold weather, bills piling up, returning to work and failed New Year’s resolutions, this time of year can be a challenge for many,” said the centre’s Tara Linsley.Although the science behind declaring Blue Monday the saddest day of the year is questionable, for many the blues they feel this time of year is real and is based on, among other factors, the long stretch of short winter days most Canadians have experienced up to this point, registered psychologist Trang Le told the CBC.”People tend to feel less energetic, less motivated and maybe a little more down than usual,” Le said, adding that as many as 10 per cent of Canadians may be affected by the resulting Seasonal Affective Disorder.
There is even a website: BlueMonday, which I had a helluva time navigating and couldn’t for the life of me see the point.
I found three Blue Monday songs, one by Fats Domino, which, when I listened to it,I recognized immediately; another is by New Order, and sounded way too lively to be blue Monday; the one I’m including here by Flunk is a remake of the New Order song, but I prefer it to the original.
It just seems like a bizarre marketing gimmick, somehow. And even the stories about it don’t mesh: The Daily Mail story cited January 6 as being Blue Monday, while others pinned it on the 20th. A certain day of the year? Really? Oddly enough, it’s been the only day in the last two weeks that I haven’t been weepy. Go figure.
So anyway, happy(?) Blue Monday.
More later. Peace.
Flunk’s “Blue Monday”
Blue of the heaps of beads poured into her breasts
and clacking together in her elbows;
blue of the silk
that covers lily-town at night;
blue of her teeth
that bite cold toast
and shatter on the streets;
blue of the dyed flower petals with gold stamens
hanging like tongues
over the fence of her dress
at the opera/opals clasped under her lips
and the moon breaking over her head a
gush of blood-red lizards.
Blue Monday. Monday at 3:00 and
Monday at 5. Monday at 7:30 and
Monday at 10:00. Monday passed under the rippling
California fountain. Monday alone
a shark in the cold blue waters.
You are dead: wound round like a paisley shawl.
I cannot shake you out of the sheets. Your name
is still wedged in every corner of the sofa.
Monday is the first of the week,
and I think of you all week.
I beg Monday not to come
so that I will not think of you
You paint my body blue. On the balcony
in the softy muddy night, you paint me
with bat wings and the crystal
the crystal in your arm cuts away
the night, folds back ebony whale skin
and my face, the blue of new rifles,
and my neck, the blue of Egypt,
and my breasts, the blue of sand,
and my arms, bass-blue,
and my stomach, arsenic;
there is electricity dripping from me like cream;
there is love dripping from me I cannot use—like acacia or
jacaranda—fallen blue and gold flowers, crushed into the street.
Love passed me in a blue business suit
His glass cane, hollow and filled with
sharks and whales …
He wore black
patent leather shoes
and had a mustache. His hair was so black
it was almost blue.
“Love,” I said.
“I beg your pardon,” he said.
“Mr. Love,” I said.
“I beg your pardon,” he said.
So I saw there was no use bothering him on the street
Love passed me on the street in a blue
business suit. He was a banker
I could tell.
So blue trains rush by in my sleep.
Blue herons fly overhead.
Blue paint cracks in my
arteries and sends titanium
floating into my bones.
Blue liquid pours down
my poisoned throat and blue veins
rip open my breast. Blue daggers tip
and are juggled on my palms.
Blue death lives in my fingernails.
If I could sing one last song
with water bubbling through my lips
I would sing with my throat torn open,
the blue jugular spouting that black shadow pulse,
“One comes to bless the absolute bareness, feeling that here is a pure beauty of form, a kind of ultimate harmony.” ~ George Mallory, from a letter to his wife Ruth during the 1921 Everest Reconnaissance Expedition
George Mallory . . . the only person to take part in all three British Everest trips of the 1920s, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. Since returning from the Great War he had become increasingly frustrated by the petty restrictions of a schoolmaster’s life and had resigned to join the expedition, with little thought of what he would do afterwards. He wrote prodigiously—to use one of his own favourite words—of his discoveries to his family and friends, revealing far more of his feelings than in his official expedition bulletins. Most of the following extracts are from letters to his wife Ruth.
28 July, to Kharta
I have been half the time in ecstasy. My first thought on coming down was that the world was green again. A month had made all the difference to the appearance of the hillsides. As we have come down lower, and nearer to the Arun valley, the appearance of greenness has steadily increased. We have crossed two passes on the way, and we have slept near two clear bubbling streams; and all that we have seen of snow mountains has been of interest, but none of that counts with me. To see things grow again as though they liked growing, enjoying rain and sun – that has been the real joy.
I collected in a beautiful ramble a lovely bunch of wild flowers. The commonest were a pink geranium and a yellow potentilla and a little flower that looked for all the world like a violet but turned out from its leaf to be something quite different; and there was grass of Parnassus, which I really love, and in places a carpet of a little button flower, a brilliant pink, which I think must belong to the garlic tribe. But most of all I was delighted to find kingcups, a delicate variety rather smaller than ours at home, but somehow especially reminding me of you – you wrote of wading deeply through them in the first letter I had from you in Rome.
Wonder of wonders! We had indication that the weather intended to change. We woke and found the sky clear and remaining clear, no dense white clouds drifting up the valley, but a chill wind driving high clouds from the north. I had a good walk yesterday with Morshead and Bullock and I started at 2 am to ascend a snow peak on the boundary ridge between this valley and the next one to the south. We had a glorious view, unimaginably splendid – Kangchenjunga and all the higher mountains to the East were standing up over a sea of fleecy cloud: Makalu straight opposite across the valley was gigantic, and Everest at the head of the valley – very fine too. But the snow was in bad condition and it’s not melting as it should; above 20,000 feet or so it was powdery under a thin crust and it was impossible to get along without snow shoes, and if it doesn’t melt properly on the glacier we might as well pack up our traps at once. In addition to this cause of despair, Morshead was going badly and I must admit to feeling the height a good deal. I’m clearly far from being as fit as I ought to be. It’s very distressing, my dear, just at this moment and altogether my hopes are at zero.
Pour out your pity, dearest, pull it up from your deep wells – and be pleased to hear that I read myself agreeably to sleep, and slept, slept bountifully, deeply, sweetly from 9 pm to 6 am and woke to see the roof of my tent bulging ominously inwards and a white world outside. It was easy enough to make out that conditions for climbing were entirely hopeless. Every visible mountain face was hung with snow, incredibly more so often than we last were there three weeks ago. The glacier presented an even surface of soft snow and everything confirmed what everybody had previously said – that it was useless to attempt carrying loads up to our col until we had a spell of real fair weather.
I ordered the whole party to pack up and go down. We were still pulling down tents and covering stores when the clouds came up with a rush and the sizzle of hard-driving snow was about us again. We sped down the hillside, facing wind and snow, down the long valley, dancing over the stones half-snow-covered and leaping the grey waters of many streams, and so at length to the humpy grass in the flat hollow where the big tents are pitched …
Just now we are all just drifting as the clouds drift, forgetting to number the days so as to avoid painful thoughts of the hurrying month. For my part I’m happy enough; the month is too late already for the great venture; we shall have to face great cold, I’ve no doubt; and the longer the delay, the colder it will be. But the fine weather will come at last. My chance, the chance of a lifetime, I suppose, will be sadly shrunk by then; and all my hopes and plans for seeing something of India on the way back will be blown to wherever the monsoon blows. I would willingly spend a few weeks longer here, if only for the sake of seeing Everest and Makalu and the excitement of new points of view. I would like to undertake a few other ascents, less ambitious but perhaps more delightful. And it will be a loss not to see again that strangely beautiful valley over the hills, and the green meadows dominated by the two greatest mountains.
Of the pull the other way I needn’t tell you. If I picture the blue Mediterranean and the crisp foam hurrying by as the ship speeds on to Marseilles or Gibraltar where I shall expect to see you smiling in the sunshine on the quayside – my dear one, when such pictures fill my mind, as often enough they do, I’m drawn clean out of this tent into a world not only more lovely, more beautifully lit, but signifying something.
My dearest Ruth,
This is a mere line at the earliest moment, in the midst of packing and arrangements to tell you that all is well. It is a disappointment that the end should seem so much tamer than I hoped. But it wasn’t tame in reality; it was no joke getting to the North Col. I doubt if any big mountain venture has ever been made with a smaller margin of strength. I carried the whole party on my shoulders to the end, and we were turned back by a wind in which no man could live an hour. As it is we have established the way to the summit for anyone who cares to try the highest adventure.
Music by Rod Stewart, “I’ll be seeing you”
For a compelling look at British explorer George Mallory, this Daily Mail article takes a look at why this WWI veteran risked his life again and again.
Coffee and cigarettes in a clean cafe,
forsythia lit like a damp match against
a thundery sky drunk on its own ozone,
the laundry cool and crisp and folded away
again in the lavender closet-too late to find
comfort enough in such small daily moments
of beauty, renewal, calm, too late to imagine
people would rather be happy than suffering
and inflicting suffering. We’re near the end,
but O before the end, as the sparrows wing
each night to their secret nests in the elm’s green dome
O let the last bus bring
love to lover, let the starveling
dog turn the corner and lope suddenly
miraculously, down its own street, home.
Wanted to share this lovely story with you. I would suggest clicking through to see larger images.
Kirsty Mitchell’s late mother Maureen was an English teacher who spent her life inspiring generations of children with imaginative stories and plays. Following Maureen’s death from a brain tumour in 2008, Kirsty channelled her grief into her passion for photography.
She retreated behind the lens of her camera and created Wonderland, an ethereal fantasy world. The photographic series began as a small summer project but grew into an inspirational creative journey.
‘Real life became a difficult place to deal with, and I found myself retreating further into an alternative existence through the portal of my camera,’ said the artist. (read the rest here).
Abstract: Branching Dream in Blues, by russell.tomlin
“Where do colors go at night, before they are returned to us at dawn?” ~ Lorenzo
Sunday evening. Clear and chilly.
Last night I dreamed that I was fighting a dragon, a huge, purple dragon that swooped down over the meadow I happened to be in, and somehow, I escaped, only to fight a wolf with my bare hands. Weird, huh?
I love my husband; he shares everything me. For instance, his winter cold—clogged ears, cough, aches, and all. His symptoms began about four or five days ago. Mine hit their high point yesterday, so another day in bed for me. How does one repay such generosity of spirit? I’ll find a way. Trust me.
I didn’t come near the computer yesterday, which should give you an idea as to how low I felt. Instead, I read another book, this one by James Rollins. Please don’t ask me the title as I haven’t the foggiest idea. I just breezed through it in between napping. It possessed my little grey cells only for as long as I was actively reading. Sometimes those are the best kinds of books: formulaic plots that don’t tax the mind too much but manage to pass the time suitably, i.e., smart, independent woman, strong man, mad scientist/curator/military leader, possible end of the world scenario.
In other news, I think that I have finally, finally gotten my health insurance fiasco fixed. My last e-mail exchange with the HR rep at GW seems to confirm this, which makes it less fantasy and more possible reality. I know. Stupid isn’t it when wishing that you had health insurance that you are paying for actually worked? So if everything goes as hoped, I can make appointments with all of the specialists that I need to see: the neurologist, the gastro guy, the gyn, the eye doctor, and the mood doctor. Oh, and the breast smashing-people.
I have so much to look forward to.
“. . . Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.”~ John F. Kennedy
On to other things . . . Corey has an aunt and uncle in Egypt. I’m not exactly sure as to their location, but I do know that they live in an American compound. Still, it’s a situation fraught with dangers. I will admit that I am not as up on the background that led to the current uprisings. My ongoing headache has greatly affected my usual perusal of news sites. But I did come across the following on my tumblr dash:
“The current popular unrest in the Arab world has a lot of lessons for Washington. Undoubtedly one of the most jarring is this: The leak of a simple series of cables from a U.S. ambassador in an obscure country — officially condemned by Washington — may have done more to inspire democracy in the Arab world than did a bloody, decade long, trillion-dollar war effort orchestrated by the United States.”
Michael Hirsch of The National Journal was referencing Tunisia in the above passage, which many feel has a direct link to what is happening now in Egypt. According to The Daily Mail, “A 2008 diplomatic cable leaked by the WikiLeaks site outlines how the U.S. State Department supported a pro-democracy activist and lobbied for the release of dissidents from custody.” The article goes on to state that “the protests were triggered by the overthrow of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Al Ben Ali. Street protests in Tunis focused on similar issues, including poverty and political repression.”
I must take the time to research the situation more thoroughly. If anyone has any good links, I’d appreciate the info.
“The trouble is, you think you have time.” ~ Guatama Buddha
In less world-shattering news, I have decided to enter an informal poetry contest that one of my fellow tmblrs is holding (A Poet Reflects).
Now, I should probably explain a few things here for those of you who think that entering such a contest is old hat for me. First, and probably most importantly, to enter the contest, I must submit my work. This means that someone other than my computer and occasionally a few family members will see my poetic attempts. The idea of such a thing scares the ever-loving bejeezus out of me.
Second, I don’t practice my poetry often; dabbling might be stretching the reality a bit. I am much more comfortable in prose. But occasionally, a poem comes to me out of the blue. You would think (well, most logical people would think) that such flashes would inspire me to hasten to some writing utensil to put down the words that are bouncing around in my head so that I can work with them more. Nope. Don’t do it. Too scared.
Too convinced that my poems are hack. Too certain that there is no point. So after reading about this contest, that night in bed the opening of a poem came to me. I went over it several times, rearranging words, deleting some, inserting others. By the time I was finished with my musings, I probably had eight or ten lines. Now anyone else might get out of bed and write these lines down so that they could be revisited in the morning. Did I do that? No. I told myself, ‘self, surely you will remember all of this mental gymnastics in the morning. Go to sleep.’
And so I did.
“So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be.”~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Of course I did not remember. This is the third thing in the list of things you should know about my poetry, and/or writing in general: I am my own worst enemy.
The next day, after bemoaning the fact that I could remember not even one line, I took a pad of paper and pen and sat on the bed to begin again. (I prefer to draft poems with pen rather than computer—probably the only kind of writing that I do with pen any more.) I was rather pleased when I drafted eight quatrains, rapid-fire. Rather surprised, too. Then I reread them and promptly put down the pen and paper and thought to myself, “Crap. Crap. Crap.” A few hours later, a totally new opening came to me, and having learned my lesson somewhat, I wrote down the new opening. Then I left everything alone so that I could mull and stew a bit (I view poems a lot like my homemade spaghetti sauce: it needs to simmer to reach its optimum flavor).
Okay, now here is the kicker: I put the three pages of pen-written draft in my book basket next to my side of the bed. At some point during the evening, I knocked over my cup of tea. Where did most of it land?
Do I really need to tell you? On my draft. I spread the soaked sheets of paper on plain white paper (one was written on both the front and back, something I rarely do) and left them to dry. It’s been two days. Have I looked at the pages to see if they are readable?
Of course not. Will I finish this poem in time to submit by the deadline? Who knows.
Perhaps the more interesting aspect is the journey that I have taken to write the poem rather than the poem itself. Then again, that just might be more of my self-justification for not doing what I need to do. Did I mention that a book of Pessoa’s poetry is the prize? That alone should motivate me to enter the contest.
I’ll let you know what I do when I know what I’m going to do.
More later. Peace.
Music by Jenny Lewis, “Godspeed”
From “Silence,” by Edgar Lee Masters
I have known the silence of the stars and the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man with a maid,
And the silence for which music alone finds the word,
And the silence of the woods before the winds of spring begin,
And the silence of the sick,
When their eyes roam about the room.
And I ask: For the depths
Of what use is language?
A beast of the field moans a few times
When death takes its young.
And we are voiceless in the presence of realities—
We cannot speak.