Sunday, December 9, 2012

LIKE A STRAY RIVER FROM ITS COURSE

Decaying spikes, Christopher Park (aka Sheridan Square).


Felt as if today were not as productive as I would have liked. (Gosh, what passive tenses I utilized in that sentence!) And, as it is getting late, I don't want to stay up too late to write, although perhaps I should.

It was rainy and I don't believe I ventured even as far as the basement, so forget about actually getting outdoors. My attraction to music compulsion continues (even as I write I am "proofing" a mix), but I did manage to tear myself away to do a little reading and make dinner (a huge rutabaga -  that was scary to cut up as I thought I would cut myself with the giant knife - covered in olive oil and black pepper then roasted, roasted brussels sprouts with parmesan, shallots, red onions, bread crumbs, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, sauteed kale with miso sauce and sesame oil, black and brown rice.) 'Tis true the meal was not well modulated as to flavors, but it was quite appreciated and no roasted vegetables made it to the leftover state.

When I arrived home yesterday, there was a big ol' pile of books that the Blessed M had acquired for me from the library. Yay! Having completed the Louise Erdrich, I jumped right into The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah". As I alluded the other day, I have a penchant for cover versions and am delighted to spend hours comparing them. (There are lots of versions included on that link.)

"The notion of a "standard" — a song that is freed from its original performance or context and seeps into the general consciousness, where it is interpreted frequently and diversely—defined American pop music for decades. Songs from Broadway shows or Hollywood movies were the basis of most singers' repertoire, from giants like Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra to local saloon singers. But this structure was pretty much crushed in the 1960s by the advent of the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Of the numerous upheavals these artists set in motion, perhaps the greatest revolution was the idea that singers should also be songwriters, and that their work expresses something specific and personal to them." — Alan Light, The Holy and the Broken

Sounds like the auteur theory all over again.

I spent some of my writing time posting a Poem of the Week so I will include it here, although most of you will have received it as an email. Meanwhile, click on this link and listen to Jake Shimabukuro's version of Hallelujah while you read.


Poem of the Week. 275 (12/9/12)

Yeah, well, time does go by and poetry does not often get read. But here, I read some so I will share some. When I was recently in California, I dug out a poetry compendium I missed of out my storage space, The Antaeus Anthology, edited by Daniel Halpern. I took it along with me recently on a trip and just started reading from the beginning.


“THIS CRUEL AGE HAS DEFLECTED ME . . .”

This cruel age has deflected me,
like a stray river from its course.
Strayed from its familiar shores,
my changeling life has flowed
into a sister channel.
How many spectacles I’ve missed:
the curtain rising without me,
and falling too. How many friends
I never had the chance to meet.
Here in the only city I can claim,
where I could sleepwalk and not lose my way,
how many foreign skylines I can dream,
not to be witnessed through my tears.
And how many verses I have failed to write!
Their secret chorus stalks me
close behind. One day, perhaps,
they’ll strangle me.
I know beginnings, I know endings too,
and life-in-death, and something else
I’d rather not recall just now.
And a certain woman
has usurped my place
and bears my rightful name,
leaving a nickname for my use,
with which I’ve done the best I could.
The grave I go to will not be my own.

But if I could step outside myself
and contemplate the person I am,
I should know at last what envy is.
                                    - Leningrad, 1944

           Anna Akhmatova, translated by Stanley Kunitz with Max Howard
from Poems of Akhmatova, Little Brown, 1967


TERMINATIONS

Sometimes the celestial syrup slows
into vines
stumps, rock slopes,
it’s amazing in fact how
slow it can get—diamond:

but then sometimes it flows
free in a flood
and high
so procedure drowns out
perception

practically, a house roof showing
here and there
or a branch bobbing:
as skinny

wind it recalls
and promises everything
but delivers nothing
except the song that
skims the mountains

and makes no sense
(except all sense)
to us
slowed discrete
out of following.

— A. R . Ammons, from Diversifications: Poems by A. R. Ammons, W.W. Norton & Co., 1975

1 comment:

  1. I like Jake, but I miss the words. And no one does it better than Leonard...especially as he gets older. Whew...

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