Random Thoughts, June Edition

  • As we approach the first day of summer, a.k.a. Midsummer’s Night, a.k.a. the summer solstice, a.k.a. the last day of school for certain poet/teachers, I can’t help but think how weird it is for early bird types like me who retire before 9. As you might imagine, going to bed is tougher when light is still framing the window blinds.
  • Speaking of early and birds, the most annoying ornithological sound to hear through your open window at 4:37 a.m. is the cheap-sounding cheep of the English sparrow, a non-native bird brought to our country by some British chap with revenge on his mind (Washington, Boston Tea Parties, and all that revolting stuff).
  • I’d like to meet and talk to Canadian poet Anne Carson. Do you think that can be arranged after Herr Trump pissed off our formerly friendly neighbors to the north?
  • (And dear Canada: It’s not us, honest. It’s him. It. Whatever history will wind up calling this man-child in the never-promised land.)
  • Anyway, back to Carson: Meeting and talking with “famous” people garners no guarantees. I once chatted with a famous book editor from a major U.S. newspaper for an hour. Everything seemed great until I tried to friend him on both Goodreads (where he said yes) and Twitter (where he ignored) afterwards. That’s when I learned about Twitter’s “friends vs. followers” logarithms. If you’re famous, you want it grossly lopsided: few friends, billions of followers. It proves how important you are. It also proves that you need proof about how important you are. Which proves, like so much else in life, that “vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” (Thank you, King James.)
  • I am no longer on Twitter, it goes without saying, because I didn’t major in logarithms.
  • Or Facebook, if you’re taking notes (and Facebook sure is).
  • But I’m still on good ol’ Goodreads, despite a few policies there which drive me crazy and make me consider giving it the Twitter slash Facebook treatment, sooner rather than later
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about Bobby Kennedy no thanks to the 50th anniversary of his assassination, and watched the hour-long documentary, A Ripple of Hope, about his speech in Indianapolis on the night of Martin Luther King’s murder.
  • In that speech, Kennedy quoted Aeschylus, of all people, to the restive crowd. Specifically these words from Agamemnon:

Drop, drop—in our sleep, upon the heart
sorrow falls, memory’s pain,
and to us, though against our very will,
even in our own despite,
comes wisdom
by the awful grace of God.

  • Bobby knew that you can always trust in the intelligence of the people. Many pols today think you can always play on the ignorance and superstitions of the people. These would be the paltry pols who put party first, country second.
  • “My kingdom for a statesman!” Shakespeare, I think.
  • Death is a thing of late. I’m reading The Ghost Writer. And why? Only because Philip Roth just died and death generates sales. Talk about a bummer for authors!
  • Then came the suicides of Kate Spade (I didn’t know the name) and Anthony Bourdain (I did know it), giving me the itch to read Kitchen Confidential and watch some television show I’d never heard of called Parts Unknown.
  • I’m working on my summer reading list and am wondering about poets I should be reading. It’s a fun kind of wonder. A slow cooker kind of wonder.
  • Short Poem of the Day from William Carlos Williams, something called “Silence”:

Under a low sky —
this quiet morning
of red and
yellow leaves —

a bird disturbs
no more than one twig
of the green leaved
peach tree

  • Old WCW loved his colors, no? Here we get three in eight short lines, plus a couple of dashes purchased at Emily Dickinson’s General Store, plus a little sound device with that “bird disturbs” stuff (must be an English sparrow).
  • All while running around making house calls as a doctor, yet!
  • Williams the doctor and Stevens the insurance executive. There go all of our excuses, I guess.
  • Call me foolhardy, but my next house will not include a microwave oven.
  • Or a lawn with that suburban scourge, grass.
  • It will have bookshelves, though. For storage, clean sight lines, and not being able to let go….