‘even the symphonic / wrecking of the antique locomotive’

For a spring time:

Cabbage Days” by Stephen Sandy. “Look how in heat waves the folding metal / chairs go slack in the sun / and their withered arms settle / waiting like ritual tongs to hold your body.”

Inventory for Spring” by Wendy Xu. “Feeling rich for one moment for using money as a bookmark / Feeling deceitful for making public some opinions while neglecting others….”

Invitation” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. “Come in, come in. The water’s fine! You can’t get lost / here. Even if you want to hide behind a clutch /of spiny oysters — I’ll find you.”

Amor Fati” by Jane Hirshfield. “Little soul, / you have wandered / lost a long time. / The woods are dark now, / birded and eyed. / Then a light, a cabin, a fire, a door standing open.”

For an unsettled time:

Capriccio of the Imaginary Prison” by Richard Garcia. “O hub of panopticon, each moment on display, / from the central monitor there is no escape. / This is all accomplished, even the symphonic / wrecking of the antique locomotive, in silence.”

If They Should Come for Us” by Fatimah Asghar. “my people I follow you like constellations / we hear the glass smashing the street / & the nights opening their dark / our names this country’s wood / for the fire my people my people….”

Devotion (“I Am on the Battlefield for My Lord”)” by Cortney Lamar Charleston. “I can’t help but believe our songs, to one another,
would be familiar, church family….”

Echo” by Raymond Antrobus. “My ear amps whistle like they are singing / to Echo, goddess of noise, / the raveled knot of tongues, / of blaring birds, consonant crumbs / of dull doorbells, sounds swamped / in my misty hearing aid tubes.

Semi-Splendid” by Tracy K. Smith. “You flinch. Something flickers, not fleeing your face. My / Heart hammers at the ceiling, telling my tongue / To turn it down. Too late.”

Ready for the season to start

“I was the best third baseman in baseball, young lady. I was as good a third baseman as you’re going to find anywhere. I could throw from here on a bunted ball, charge it, pick it up, boom, get it over to Joe Judge at first.

“I’d like to do it again,” he says. “Yessir. I’d like to do it again. There’s a time when you’re out there playing day in and day out and you wonder when the hell it’s going to end. You get a little tired.”

Here’s a find of Lori’s, when a call she got at the bookstore sent her Googling. Great baseball writer Jane Leavy — her Koufax book is sitting on my bookshelf — talks to former Washington Senators star Ossie Bluege in 1985 when he was 84 years old. I’d never heard before of Bluege. Couldn’t put the story down.

A little more about ‘Paterson’

In Commonweal, Richard Alleva finds the small stuff very well.

  • “The quotidian provides our bus-driving bard not only with his raw material but also with the steady emotional climate he needs in order to practice his art.”
  • “The act of noticing is at the heart of both our hero’s art and the filmmaker’s method.”
  • “If her husband is good at spotting variations within sameness, Laura, his complementary opposite, seems to see the same patterns in very different objects.”
  • “Instead of hungering for action, you start responding to whatever Paterson notices, quirks of speech as well as visual anomalies….”
  • “The other way this film avoids tedium is by showing us that, though its protagonist is a strictly no-drama guy… there is drama happening all around him.”

Previously in the blog — thoughts on Paterson. (Loved it.)

Losing and finding

Here’s one of the best articles I’ve read recently. It’s about losing and finding things, starting off with losing stuff and moving on to losing people. All in all, a funny, sad, beautiful meditation.

Passwords, passports, umbrellas, scarves, earrings, earbuds, musical instruments, W-2s, that letter you meant to answer, the permission slip for your daughter’s field trip, the can of paint you scrupulously set aside three years ago for the touch-up job you knew you’d someday need: the range of things we lose and the readiness with which we do so are staggering. Data from one insurance-company survey suggest that the average person misplaces up to nine objects a day, which means that, by the time we turn sixty, we will have lost up to two hundred thousand things. (These figures seem preposterous until you reflect on all those times you holler up the stairs to ask your partner if she’s seen your jacket, or on how often you search the couch cushions for the pen you were just using, or on that daily almost-out-the-door flurry when you can’t find your kid’s lunchbox or your car keys.) Granted, you’ll get many of those items back, but you’ll never get back the time you wasted looking for them.

Everything’s coming up green

Twenty items! When you’re hot, you’re hot. Can you believe it? The Nats have 20 St. Patrick’s Day-themed items for sale this year, which I’m pretty sure is a world record for number of Nats St. Patrick’s Day-themed items.

And I should know because I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who’s been tracking such totals for years. Not every year, mind you, so I could be wrong. But most years, and good luck finding anyone to prove me wrong.

Coverage/commentary from previous years:

None of the Nats gear is particularly great-looking this year, and the same holds true for the rest of the major leagues. They’ve gone long on green, and beyond March 17, you can go too long to green. Also, across the rest of the league, enormous logos. But there’s some good heather-green stuff, a couple quality heather gray and dark gray uses, a solid mention of the Green Monster, a terrifying Phillies leprechaun, and a Blue Jays hat that will be popular with marijuana enthusiasts.

In related news, literally walking the walk, I’ve been wearing my green Nats hat on the walk to work a bunch recently. In need of a haircut, but failing that require daily hair-flattening. We all have to do what we need to do to get by. But beyond hair-flattening, the green makes me happy. Spring is coming.

Muddling through somehow

Theater” by William Greenway. Via Lori. “Like the neighborhood kind / you went to as a kid, full / of yellow light and red / velvet curtains and everybody / there, friends, bullies throwing / popcorn, somebody with red hair.”

Weather Systems” by Barbara Crooker. Via Lori. “Sugar maples, little fires in the trees, every blazing gradation / of orange to red, and this makes me think of you….”

Ars Poetica #100: I Believe” by Elizabeth Alexander. “…digging in the clam flats / for the shell that snaps, / emptying the proverbial pocketbook.”

Gilly’s Bowl & Grille” by Corey Van Landingham. “As for the beer, I bring my own. I haven’t touched / another human / in twenty-three days, not even someone’s palm / passing my change.”

Excavating life’s mysteries

Been meaning to transcribe these quotes from Springsteen’s Ties That Bind documentary, on the making of The River. It’s a simple doc: one part archival footage, one part singing songs and sharing thoughts outside, one part doing the same inside. But I appreciated the perspective on this decade in one’s life.

On your 30s:

By the time you’re 30, you’re, you know, you have a clock that’s ticking. You’re definitely operating in the adult world. And I know I was thinking about all of these things by that time — relationships, their success, their failure — and because of my own personal history it was a mystery to me how people were successful at those things. And really the writer’s life is sort of excavating those mysteries.

On the value of the personal in all writing:

It’s always public and personal, I guess, simultaneously for me. I don’t ascribe to myself any great political conscience or social conscience for that matter, but I always believe I’m trying to write my way out of some box that I found myself caught in when I was younger, or my self or my parents caught in, so really most of the writing I’ve done, it’s always personal in some way. And then it connects to the outside world, and connects to issues of the day, but it begins as a personal conversation between me and myself about something that is still digging at me from either my past or the present.

On writing one’s way through life’s blocks:

I was thinking about how to make these things more than aesthetic ideas in my own life, you know? How do I practically live a life like this, where I make the kind of connections that I’m very frightened of, but I feel that if I don’t make, I’m going to disappear or get lost? A creative life, an imagined life, is not a life. It’s merely something you’ve created, it’s merely a story. A story is not a life. A story is just a story. So I was trying to link this stuff up in a way where I thought I could save myself from my darker inclinations by moving into an imagined community where people were struggling with all those things in a very real way.