Thursday, January 14, 2016


The first sunflower.

For some reason, Try A Little Tenderness is mixing with Heroes in my mental soundtrack. Have you heard Aretha’s version from her stint at Columbia before she became the Queen of Soul? Here, you must. (True, it is marred by strings, but just focus on her vocal performance.) And, just FYI, Otis may have owned this song, but he did not write it. It goes back to 1932. Frank Sinatra has a couple of sweet versions as well. 

The digression? "Oh, she may get weary..." I think I am weary. And sometimes it's hard to differentiate weariness and sadness. So, I am not sure where I am on that continuum. 

I am not the first to remark on this, but I will go ahead anyway. One thing that is lovely about this Bowie love fest is that it does not seem media motivated. Because the news broke in the middle of the night here, the media did not have enough time to rev up the machinery of spectacle before genuine reaction took hold. We stole the thunder from the marketers and bullshit manufacturers. Another piece of art created by Bowie: genuine response. I was up late so I heard it as soon as it was announced. No regular news outline such as MSNBC or CNN or even the New York Times had the story. I could only find mention of it on Al Jazeera. 

While there is sorrow for me in his untimely and unexpected passing, there is joy in art, in his ultimate evasion of the culture vultures' definitions and boundaries. Good show all around, Mr. Bowie. I think you own the "I did it my way" sweepstakes.

I've been thinking about this. I may be very wrong about this, but a certain point in a life this seems less true than in younger years. Given the economy and all, there does not seem much room for redemption of a life unwisely spent. I don't see any happy, productive, and/or remotely satisfying paths, but perhaps I am of little faith. And I haven't given up, I just don't see the (a) way. 

And I am still shaken from Liz Swados' early departure. She was such a fighter and a do-er that it is hard to think of her as gone and so quickly. And I have another friend who has been visited unrelentingly by the dementors for about six or eight months who is seriously in danger of prematurely joining Mr. Bowie on the other side ("I can just catch his second set ..."). When your life seems completely out of control and unredeemable, when every breath is pain and there seems little possible of respite, choosing to climb out can be just too much. 

I find it odd that I can figure out some hope and some outs for that friend, but I cannot see my way to a better situation. But, as I said, I am not giving up quite yet. 

Talk about trying, here are some winter tomatoes.

It's true: I have done a bit of gardening. That steadfast, brave sunflower greets me every time I look out my bedroom window. There is something gently inspiring about that flower. It does as it does. 

Do you all know this Delmore Schwartz poem? It's a good one.



The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.

Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,
A sweetness intimate as the water's clasp,
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
—The strutting show-off is terrified,
Dressed in his dress suit, bulging his pants,
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.

That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit's motive,
Perplexes and efforts his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bear my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dogging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
The scrimmage of appetite everywhere.

Selected Poems (1938-1958): Summer Knowledge, New Directions, 1967

Vera Paris graces me with a visit.



  2. Wow. The bear. Didn't know it...amazing.
    Please don't give just never know.