Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Stafford’s Last Year: Cento

Old mistakes come calling: no life
happens just once. Whatever snags
even the edge of your days will abide.
You are a turtle with all the years on your back.

Maybe people have to go in and out of shadows
till they learn that floating, that immensity;
maybe somebody has to explore what happens
when one of us wanders over near the edge.

Whatever fits will be welcome, whatever
steps back in the fog will disappear,
as you will, wherever you go after this day,
just a stop by the road, and a glimpse of someone’s life.

Is there a way to be gone and still
belong? Travel that takes you home?
It’s heavy to drag, this big sack of what
you should have done.

And now if there is any light at all 
it knows how to rest on the faces of friends.
Touches of wind. The room you have
in the world is ready to change.

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found.

Well, it was yesterday. And the sun came,
It came.

© Bill Prindle, 2015

Sources: lines selected from poems written by William Stafford in 1993, the last year of his life. The last three lines end the poem he wrote the day he died. All selections from The Way it Is.

Turtle popping its head above water
Photo by William Warby
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, June 29, 2015

Afton Mountain Piper

A warm summer day and the downhill run 
from Staunton home, and there he stood
in Highland array at the overlook, 
bag full and chanter to his lips.

A private moment, it seemed,
else we would have stopped
to listen, perhaps to chat
if he had a mind to.

But he was intent on his piping, 
facing east across the valley—
piping, one might think,
to immigrant family
who settled these hills,

tracing in his mind an unseen path
from a lowland port westward
among the glens and across these icy streams.

A mountain people before they came,
born in rocky crags stretching beneath the sea
to these selfsame Appalachian hills—
now home in ways they knew and didn’t know.

And what of this does the piper ken?
Does he pipe back two hundred years
to an ancestor Barclay or Black,
McLean or McIntosh, who built here and farmed
the land below?

Or does something stir deeper in his blood
tying him to another place and time,
and so he stands today on a new Afton
far, far this side of home, 
oblivious to the interstate
and growl of traffic and curious stares,
as alone as a man can be heart-deep among his kin,
piping to a distant land?

              © David Black, 2015

Bagpiper at Loch Garry
Photo by Bleiglass
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Road

In the dark
I drive over timeless mountains.
The sky exposes herself to me
In falling starlight and dreamy wisps
Of moonlight.
The road unfolds before me,
Telling a story I discover in each moment.
I know the path well.
I have driven here before,
Finding your love again and again throughout time.
In pauses between conversations with strangers I call friends;
In the quiet of night when only the insects speak to me,
My mind wanders back to you.
In these day dreams,
The timeless mountains become the curl of your hair
Over my naked arm while you sleep.
The night sky and the dreamy wisps of moonlight
Become the remembered depth of your eyes
With the pale reflection of me in their earthy circumference.
In these moments
The stars tell stories of constellations
We have not yet imagined.
The story of us is born again ceaselessly from the same source,
And the road is the pathway between our hearts.

© Fergus Clare, 2014

Narrow road leading to Paranal Observatory
Atacama Desert, Chile
Photo by Julien Girard, an astronomer for ESA

Monday, June 15, 2015

Look in My Window

               So, look in my window.  Stare at me.  Mock me.
What do you think you see?
A white haired woman standing by the counter, cooking?
I hear you thinking, "Why does she stand there,
day after day, just cooking, cooking?
She's alone, who the hell will eat all that food?"
Might you, peeking in my window, see more than this chopping old fool?
Might you think, "There's a person who wants to be useful."

It is painful when you are more than the world wants.
Energy imploding, cells discouraged from replicating,
wrinkles manifest like uncooked ramen noodles.

It is a fact of this world that we must fight to be visible, useful, appreciated,
as the years pile up like chicken bones tossed in the grass after a picnic.
Fight.  What a word...
In aging, who wants to fight?

You, in the window, why don't you turn away?  What's the fascination?
Could you possibly be thinking that I have something to give you?
I could make you laugh; I could make you cry; I could make you think;
I could feed you.
You think I am used up, but you don't understand:  I want to be used up -
when I can't light the oven anymore.

Big pots of soup, whole baked chickens, yeasty loaves of bread,
gallon jars of kim chee, cookie sheets of roasted apples and peaches.

© Evie Safran, 2015

"Peasant Woman Cooking by a Fireplace"
Vincent van Gogh, 1885
Metropolitan Museum of Art
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, June 8, 2015

Old Appliances

Once upon a time,
When I was very young,
I looked upon my avocado colored appliances
   with joyful pride.
My shiny refrigerator, so "avante garde,"
Brightening my kitchen with a light
That reflected on to the same color oven door
Where I baked the children's cookies.

But moving took me away from the kitchen set,
Gave me instead an old Sub Zero that smiled 
With its gleeful huge wood-paneled door.
And though quite old,
It happily substituted for the shiny avocado one,
Doing its job while plodding away for 20 years and more
As I refused to part with
One who had morphed into
An old friend,  
Reliably ready when the children
Reached inside for their after school snack
Of milk and cookies.

Gone are those days of dependably seeing the children.
Fragmented memories remain,
Like those of the old Sub Zero,
Replaced now with jet black GE's,
A matching set taking on the role,
No children's fingerprints to mar their glaze.
They stand alone… waiting. 

© Shelly Sitzer, 2015

"Landscape with Refrigerators"
Painting by Kida Kinjiro
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, June 1, 2015

Only Love










© Gerry Sackett, 2015

Beside the Water's Edge
Photo by Tony Russell

Monday, May 18, 2015


Look, good swaying people, good people with good vision, good eyes that see and see and see! Look at us! Visualize the vision we bring to you from upstairs! There is a long lady upstairs. Standing sideways but gazing at you…black hair, black eyebrows, red lips, red dress.  Imagine her into existence before you, paint like flowing flesh and flesh like flowing paint. Imagine a glowing flowing long red dress like a tall waterfall! See us! See Émilie Charmy!  Bring her paint before you, as we sing and dance her into existence before you. This is incantation. This is the charm of Émilie Charmy! Charmed by Charmy! Bring her before you! Visualize, touch the vision, feel  the force of the long red dress like a tall waterfall. Stroke your imagination. Émilie Charmy is here among you. Free! Frank! Forceful! Questioning! Parisian! Brave, free, frank, female…strong in paint, strong In flesh, strong in frankness, forthright before you,  paint flowing like a waterfall,  flesh flowing like paint,  a long red dress as tall as a waterfall. Visualize her freedom, her frankness, her force, her questioning black eyes, her appraising black eyebrows, the black heaven of her black hair, her freedom.  Brave, free, frank, female. Visualize her intelligent desire.  She is appraising you. She questions you. You question her. You judge her joy. She judges your joy. Joy judges joy. Freedom judges freedom. Paint forever fresh! Vigorous before you. The vigor of questions, the vigor of your glances. You and she exchange freedom.  A dance of questioning. Feel the dance of questioning. Look. Feel what you see. Feel her questions looking at you. You look. You feel the red tall waterfall of the long fresh dress. The freshness of the long red dress. The freshness of the questioning eyes. Her force, her joy, her intelligent desires! Feel the flow of her ferocious sexy goodness.  Sexy intelligence.  As fresh as flesh.  As fresh as paint. As fresh as the long red dress like a tall waterfall. Follow the flow!

You and she and we exchange dances, glances, charged and charmed by the strong smart woman upstairs, now before you here in vigorous vision. Wave your red dresses, the red dresses of your imagination. Shake out your red scarves like the flags of intelligent desire. Shake out your red scarves. You and she and we are incantation, together shaping  enchantment, the charm of Émilie Charmy. Chant and vision must be shaped by intelligent desire, by the shaping dance of joy judging joy, painted eyes and flesh eyes together making enchantment. We charm Émilie Charmy into existence before us. Slightly laughing she teaches us her spells and helps us to exist. Incantation! We chant our vision into existence, we charm our souls into vigor, into flow we can feel, flowing with the frank freshness of Émilie Charmy. This is a healthy trance, a democratic trance, unforced, strongly amiable. Our magic spell is taught us by a rare Parisian, a woman breaking into the heaven of art, the heaven of flesh and soul. Woman painter teaches us her bravery, her intelligent desire. Even her still lifes explode into wild rainbow health! Her parlors where women seemingly do middleclass things are changing before our eyes into strange rooms where strange love resides. O enigmatic atmosphere of her parlors where form transforms itself and transforms you. What are you watching….a parlor or a happy bordello!  Victorian décor or paint shaping desire revealed. This is a salubrious trick. What we thought was middleclass is really intense in its calm.

Desire revealed! Not really just another parlor. A room for desire! Unafraid! There is no fear in Émilie Charmy! She unchained herself by her charm. Free, frank, brave woman… Parisian joyousness, smart, strong, amused. She is amused to reveal, to show, to judge and shape her intelligent desire.  She forms us, we form her, in mutual erotic intelligence. We all now exist, paint and flesh and strong smart woman…Parisian in the era where ANYTHING AT ALL could be conceived and brought into palpably amazing being. Sway your red dresses! Wave your red scarves! Dance your healthy trance! Let us exchange trances! Red lips chant!

 And all this goodness occurs approved of by the shining steel cloud of the wavy Jean Arp sculpture curvaceous nearby. Jean Arp approves and shines his approval upon us. We are observed by that steel cloud of a wavy sculpture holding a wavy hole through which we see reality.  Art as curvy as nature! The steel cloud bounces blessing upon us like sunlight! Raise up your red lips, red scarves!

Émilie Charmy, “Portrait,” oil on canvas, 1921. Courtesy of Pamela K. and William A. Royall, Jr. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Travis Fullerton