From Berkeley’s Lunch Poems

I went to hear Rita Dove, a former US Poet Laureate, read at the UC Berkeley Lunch poems series this week.  Here is one of her poems:

Exit

Just when hope withers, the visa is granted.
The door opens to a street like in the movies,
clean of people, of cats; except it is your street
you are leaving. A visa has been granted,
“provisionally”-a fretful word.
The windows you have closed behind
you are turning pink, doing what they do
every dawn. Here it’s gray. The door Continue reading

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Two quotes

In case you didn’t happen to use Google today, they are honoring Gertrude Jekyll, famous British gardener of the late 19th, early 20th century.  She is very quotable; here’s an example:

‘There is a lovable quality about the actual tools. One feels so kindly to the thing that enables the hand to obey the brain. Moreover, one feels a good deal of respect for it; without it the brain and the hand would be helpless. ”

On a less earthy path to enlightenment, I have been reading Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish religious leader born in Germany, who famously met and marched with Martin Luther King. This quote seems particularly apposite today: Continue reading

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Rainy Monday

Rain seems so appropriate at the end of a holiday weekend, but this Monday poem is not about rain, but a selection from a new anthology I just finished reviewing for ZYZZYVA, In the Shape of a Human Body I Am Visiting the Earth: Poems Far and Wide, published jointly by McSweeney’s and Poetry International. The review will appear soon on their blog. In the meantime, here is the title poem:

In the shape of a human body I am visiting the earth

In the shape of a human body
I am visiting the earth;
the trees visit
in the shapes of trees.
Standing between the onions
and the dandelions
near the ailanthus and the bus stop,
I don’t live more thoroughly
inside the mucilage of my own skull
than outside of it
and not more behind my eyes
than in what I can see with them. Continue reading

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Your morning economics lesson

This morning, Larry was reading Greg Mankiw’s NY Times editorial on 45’s tax plan. Mankiw is an economics professor at Harvard.  To familiarize me with Mankiw, Larry played a country western economics song, Dual Mandate for me. I guess he was directed to this from reading Mankiw, and I incorrectly reported it as Greg. An alert reader (thanks, Dan) caught the error, but the video is still worth watching.

And Mankiw’s editorial in the Times is worth reading.

I don’t know any good poems on economics or business. As Dana Gioia has pointed out, business is the last taboo subject for poetry. I have one poem about money, and so you don’t miss a Monday poem, here it is.

Meditation on Money

I am thinking about a day forty years ago
when we were down to our last fifty cents,
and our friends drove up
with a month’s rent and groceries,
and after we ate and talked, we sat together
on the edge of the dock, saying nothing,
and watched the barnacles
slowly open their feathery lips,
slowly close them.

Meryl Natchez

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Of Jazz and Poetry

We are back home, and happy to find that David Juda has completed a wonderful project of posting poems and music from For Jazz on his website, Voetica.

Just click on an artist to see and listen. This area of the site features woodcuts by Nina Mera, poetry by Peter McSloy, and accompanying music by jazz greats.

This site is a terrific resource to hear many recordings of contemporary and significant poems from the past.  With a background in theater, David has found extraordinary talent and there are new additions all the time. Worth going back to many times.

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Santiago and a few miscellaneous photos

We’ve enjoyed Santiago a great deal, especially the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombiano where we went twice. The bottom floor is called “Chile before Chile” and as you walk in, you are greeted by these grand wooden grave markers at the end of a long hallway, some lit, some in shadow:

They are supposed to reflect the spirit of the departed, and provide a very eerie introduction to the pots and fabrics and other ancient artifacts.

Continue reading

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More street stuff

One of the features of Valparaiso is the Funiculars, called simply elevators. Apparently there used to be 15 of them, but only 5 still work. One, Ascensor El Peral, was right by our apartment.

It’s motorized, of course, but the two cars are also counterweights to each other, with a cable that rolls over a giant wheel at the top.

Riding it was only a little scary, and one time when we went up, one of the stray dogs joined us.

No one seemed to think it unusual that he just came along for the ride.

At the top, he hopped off and went on his way.

 

After my posts about wiring, which seems pretty much the same through both Argentina and Chile, you might think I’d be nervous riding a motorized tram up the steep hillside.

I was somewhat reassured when I saw that the wiring for the tram for once was all in a conduit. That is until I looked a little more closely at the conduit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Artists at work

One evening in Valparaiso, we saw one of the street artists at work. I imagine his work was unauthorized, as he was doing it at night. He had a big power spray paint gun, and wore a mask.

We got to see the finished image the next day.

Continue reading

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The hills of Valparaiso

We mostly went to the seaside town of Valparaiso because Neruda had lived there and his house is a museum we wanted to visit. But what captivated us more than the house was the incredible street art. Art on walls, on doorways, on steps on lampposts, just about anything that can be painted or collaged. Here is a gate made of bicycle parts:

The city is  built on steep hills with ravines between them, and there are many concrete walls and concrete and stone sides of houses that lend themselves to large murals. To get a sense of the variety, look here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every time you turn a corner, there’s some new marvel. Here are a two of my favorites:

A skeletal sax player–on a house wall next to a barred window.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And an eye painted on a corner wall. Continue reading

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The stars of the southern sky

We took a trip to Northern Chile especially for a visit to Alpha Aldea Amateur Observatory site to see these stars. A completely different sky than the one I’ve seen all my life.

It was thrilling to see the mysterious constellations of the southern hemisphere, Scorpion with bright Antares at the head, Aquarius, the Magellanic Clouds, and the famed Alpha and Beta Centauri, which glitter near the horizon.

Continue reading

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