Poetry Friday: C. P. Kavafy

from “Gray” (1917)

Those gray eyes will have lost their charm — if he’s still alive;
that lovely face will have spoiled.

Memory: keep them the way they were.
And, memory, whatever you can bring back of that love,
whatever you can, bring back tonight.

Traffic: St. Paul/Minneapolis

The more melancholy John Steinbeck becomes in Travels with Charley — the more he realizes that he is missing certain sights, and perhaps that means missing them forever — the more captivated self becomes with his narrative. (Self has been there! There meaning: emotionally)

He hates traffic. Self completely understands his reluctance to enter cities. Like Steinbeck, self tends to panic and get lost. She feels every beat of the following section, p. 100:

Like a weakening swimmer I edged to the right into a pleasant street only to be stopped by a policeman, who informed me that trucks and such vermin were not permitted there. He thrust me back into the ravening stream.

I drove for hours, never able to take my eyes from the surrounding mammoths. I must have crossed the river but I couldn’t see it. I never saw St. Paul or Minneapolis. All I saw was a river of trucks; all I heard was a roar of motors. The air saturated with Diesel fumes burned in my lungs.

Steinbeck flees. He heads for US 10 and ends up in — of all places — “a German restaurant complete with sausages, sauerkraut, and beer steins hanging in rows over the bar, shining but unused.”

The ensuing scene is A+

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Steinbeck on Traveling (Travels with Charley, p. 84)

I’ll tell you what it was like. Go to the Ufizzi in Florence, the Louvre in Paris, and you are so crushed with the numbers, once the might of greatness, that you go away distressed, with a feeling like constipation.

London Walks: Hyde Park

The first time self read The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michael Faber, was over a decade ago. She hadn’t much experience of London. Now, however, she knows London, knows its general geography, and enjoys passages like the following:

  • Since moving to the West End, Sugar has taken to crossing Hyde Park, over the Serpentine into Knightsbridge, and paying frequent visits to the two Georgian houses in Trevor Square, which may look like high-class brothels, but are in fact a public library.

The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 35

  • Follow Sugar now into the great open space, the grandiose vacancy of Regent Street — admire those overtowering honeycombs of palatial buildings stretching into the fog of artificial infinity, those thousands of identically shaped windows tier upon tier; the glassy expanse of roadway swept clear of snow; all of it is a statement of intent: a declaration that in the bright future to come, places like St. Giles and Soho, with their narrow labyrinths and tilting hovels and clammy, crumbling nooks infested with human flotsam, will be swept away, to be replaced by a new London that looks entirely like Regent Street, airy, regular and clean.

The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 43

Her last trip to London was at the tail-end of October 2017. She dropped by Hyde Park and saw:

1) the Serpentine

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2) a fabulous Pavilion

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The 2017 Serpentine Pavilion designed by architect Francis Kéré

and 3) the Prince Albert Memorial:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Diet Tip: The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 16

Self is sooo glad she decided to re-read this novel. She remembered certain things, vaguely. But her interest in the technicalities of writing a historical novel is so much sharper now.

p. 16:

. . .  if you wake up too early, you’re famished, but if you wake later, you’re all right again, and then later still you’re famished again.

Author Michael Faber was “born in Holland, raised in Australia” and “now lives in the Scottish highlands” according to the book jacket. Wow, fabulous!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Blair & Robertson’s THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, 1493 – 1803

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1000 sets were printed of this massive series.

Self has Copy No. 179 on her MacBook Air.

60 volumes.

She does all her writing in son’s room, where daily she looks at the map of the Philippines that’s been hanging there for over two decades. She doubts if son even knows the names of the two main islands, Luzon and Mindanao. This is self’s failing.

No woman is mentioned in the first nine volumes.

Later, there is a decree about educating the sons of Spanish civil officials. And in volume 10, a mention of nuns.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Geometry, Windows

Every year, around the Fourth of July, we do our civic duty and put up a flag.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge asks us to riff off this picture.

So here ya go: self’s living room picture window, six days after Fourth of July.

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Picture Window: Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Tuesday: Lucie Brock-Broido (1956 – 2018)

From the end of her poem Giraffe, in the 26 March 2018 New Yorker:

When the Nordic dark settled in, so early,
The children, blanketed in white, began to fuss at sleep, and cry.
It would not snow that night.
What is it in me                     Makes me tell you of these sights.

Lucie Brock-Broido was the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Stay, Illusion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Today’s Back Issue of The New Yorker

  • At some point in the next few weeks or so, unless President Donald Trump stages a constitutional crisis — something that, given his habits, can hardly be ruled out — he will almost certainly have to take questions from Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. — Amy Davidson Sorkin, The Talk of the Town

As if!

Self checks the date on the issue: 5 February 2018

We are still waiting. Either 45 is extremely smart (smarter than anyone thought he was), or his lawyers are extremely good, or we the People are just too stupid. Bottom line: Democrats have been wringing their hands for almost two years now and self has yet to see any results from all this hand-wringing. The wall is still going up and children at the border are still being separated from their parents (17 states, including California, are bringing suit against the federal government to stop this practice. Which will take, like, 84 years: self will be dead, Trump will be dead, everyone currently in government will be dead, THE END).

Outrage is so, so wearing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Sunday: Hilary Tham

At the last AWP Book Fair, self saw a familiar face at the Word Works table: Karen Alenier of Brooklyn. Self hung around and ended up buying a few books, one of which was Bad Names for Women, by Hilary Tham.

Tham is no longer with us, but her book is, and it is wonderful.

Mrs. Wei in Peking

All my life I’ve wanted to see
this Ten Thousand Li Great Wall,
Now I am sixty-five, too old for change

and Communism, the Malaysian Visa Office
permits I visit the land of my ancestors,
Oh, my arthritic knees! This wall was built

for mountain goats! The Emperor’s soldiers —
perched on the edge of the world, wanting
to sow rice and children, making do

with mulled wine against snow and ghost voices
wailing in the stones. Poor dead soldiers —
their breaths chill the stone, the summer wind,
I feel it. The Wall is haunted.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Saturday: Irene Suico Soriano

Met her at the reading put together by Linda Nietes of Philippine Expressions (San Pedro, CA) in March.

Been reading her collection, Primates From an Archipelago: Poems (Rabbit Fool Press), off and on ever since. The back has blurbs from Melissa Roxas and Jennifer Tseng (both of whom self has never read; adding to the “To Read” pile!)

The book is divided into four sections: Scattered Islands, Reclamation, Scattered Cities, and Smog.

From the poem Months, for Napoleon Lustre:

I.

Essex said it perfect:
It is easier to be furious than yearning.
You belong to tribes of warriors and outlaws.
Many who are now dying or just waiting like you.
As I sit here by your bed looking at your sleeping body,
I wonder how long your fury can sustain you.

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Published 2017 by Rabbit Fool Press: http://www.rabbitfoolpress.com

Enthralling, powerful collection.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Redwood City Farmers Market: Piles and Stacks (2)

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is PILES AND STACKS.

A few days ago, self showed stacks of books.

Today, since she was just at the Redwood City Farmers Market, she’s showing stacks of produce. Everything from cactus to organic chips.

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