Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Birthday, John Keats!

Keats was born on October 31, and this great poem of his seems appropriate to Halloween. It was written toward the end of his life in the margin of another, very different poem he was working on, and the story is that he was thinking of Fanny Brawne when he wrote it, but no one knows for sure. It may simply have been notes toward a drama he was thinking of writing.

This Living Hand

This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calmed—see here it is—
I hold it towards you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stupidest Man Alive

So yesterday afternoon I'm home working on a poem. I go out to the garage to look for mail, and I hear a door slam. The front door has blown shut and I'm locked out without keys or phone. I feared I'd be there all day, but luckily, with the help of a small stepladder from the garage, I was able to go around to the back of the house and climb over the back fence (not so easy for an old guy like me!) and (again luckily) I'd left the back door open because I'd been going in and out of the patio. Actually I think it's because the back door was open that enough of a wind went through the house to blow shut the front door, because that's never happened before. Now does that make me the stupidest man alive? Of course not. It could happen to anyone, right? No, what makes me the stupidest man alive is that a couple hours later I DID THE SAME THING. Yep, locked myself out the exact same way and had to take the stepladder around the house to the back and climb over the fence for the second time to get back in. Possibly I can blame it all on my being in a poetic trance. Or perhaps I'm just The Stupidest Man Alive.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Checking In

I’m three weeks into my four-week “writer’s colony at home,” and yesterday I finished the draft of a new book. There’s still a lot (months) of work to be done, but the draft is on the table! I’m not sure I’ll follow C. Dale’s method of letting it sit for six months, but if I start working my way through it now, it’ll probably be at least six months before I get to the sections I wrote recently.

I couldn’t sleep last night and got up early and found myself rereading Robert Hass’s Twentieth Century Pleasures, particularly his essay on James Wright. I read Wright’s Shall We Gather at the River when I was 18, and it was my first love in contemporary poetry (I’m afraid my own poetry still has its weaknesses without its strengths). Later I got into the poets like Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, and Gary Snyder who were considered cooler and hipper, especially in the Bay Area, but you never get over your first love.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Day Off

A gorgeous day in paradise, and just given to me, handed to me on a blue-sky platter. Yes, I got the day off, a total surprise, but then the company I work for contracts with the government; they're off, so we're off. After days of errands and appointments and (yesterday) baseball, I needed some time of quiet and peace. The baseball was on TV and was the choice of son and daughter-in-law and niece, and so they watched and I was in the (figurative) bleachers, working the aisles, plying them with food. I pretty much cooked all day -- though no one made me, I guess -- and by evening was exhausted and feeling guilty that I had squandered the gorgeous day of a thousand things to do in the city. (Yeah, those that know me know guilt comes to me as easily as a blush.)

So, okay, today, Greta (see pic) and I were determined to get out and enjoy the best weather of the year in San Francisco. My fumble with the camera made me miss her legs-in-the-air delight, but you can see her pleasure nevertheless. Now the renovation of the park by Pine Lake is just about finished, and dogs and the ducks, the heron and hawks, and the two somber cormorants all concur that they did a fine job.

Later, I sat out back of my house and invited the Muse to join me, but he was petulant, implying that ignoring him for months at a time and then just expecting him to show the one day I can finally find the time, well, it just doesn't cut it. I put a few lines down on paper, but they're going nowhere. Maybe Muse and I can rendevous again before too long.