We made it over to the exhibit of impressionist paintings of all thing millinery today. It was billed as an exhibit of Degas’ paintings about that include hats, but had many impressionists and also glass cases with sample hats from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. You can read about it and see paintings here.  It was great fun, and I was tempted by a hat at the museum store:

But it was $200.  Instead, I kept wearing my blue hat that I bought at a thrift shop this week for $2.

Then I took a couple of pictures of others with good hats:





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A poem not just for tax season

Lat time I was at Squaw Valley Community of Writers I discovered that there was another poet not just from my very small town, but who lives on my short block, seven or eight houses down from me. How lucky!

Here is one of her poems:

Discussing Useful Life at the Tax Depreciation Seminar
While Remembering a Line by David Baker

The depreciable life of a parking garage is fifteen, unless its roof

is the floor of the building above it, in which case it’s thirty-nine.

Office furniture is seven, the stove five and the fax machine five.

But if a machine has its wires embedded in the wall behind it,

so they ease through the wall like veins, it can make that wall part

of the machine, thus five, as if there’s a contagion there, a life-changing Continue reading

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On the wall this month

We are rich in broadsides, those page-size, elegant, usually letterpress versions of a single poem designed to be framed on the wall. We keep one up in the guest bathroom and change it out regularly. This one by Charles Simic, so simple, is unusual in that it is a copy of a hand-written poem. I think that this adds to  its power:

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Larry quoted this to me today: “In the word ‘scene,’ is it the c or the s that’s silent?”


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Ilya Kaminsky

A fellow poet recommended his work to me, and I have been reading his book, Dancing in Odessa. Here’s a poem from that book that I really like:


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxYou will die on a boat from Yalta to Odessa.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx–a fortune teller, 1992

What ties me to this earth? In Massachusetts,
the birds force themselves into my lines–
the sea repeats itself, repeats, repeats.

I bless the boat from Yalta to Odessa
and bless each passenger, his bones, his genitals,
bless the sky inside his body,
the sky my medicine, the sky my country.

I bless the continent of gulls, the argument of their order.
The wind, my master
insists on the joy of poplars, swallows,– Continue reading

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Exemplary sentences

I am reading Adam Zagajewsky’s new book of essays–more really diary entries–called Slight Exaggeration. I’m a fan of both his prose and his poetry. His standard of literacy and breadth of knowledge is so high. I came across this passage, which he wrote about the generation that came of age on the cusp of the First World War but which seems to me to apply perfectly to the baby boomers.

“What other people of that race, in other nations and times had achieved and attained over generations, through the course of age-long efforts at the cost of life, or of sacrifice and renunciations greater than life, this lay before hem like a chance inheritance, destiny’s perilous gift. It seemed fantastic and unlikely, but it was genuine: they could do whatever they wished with their youth.”

Somehow I thought we’d do more with this opportunity than we did.

Another phrase that caught my attention was from Samin Nosrat, who is now the food writer for the NY Times Maazine. Continue reading

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Waking to fog

After two summery days in a row the fog is back. It made me think of this by Marvin Bell:

People Walking in Fog

They try to watch themselves, drifting in a white sigh,
the boats and trees, themselves, too,
when they think of it, spun from sheets of gauzy droplets
with which to tar the morning white and walk upon it.
The horizon yawns. The earth is liquid. They can feel
it, and not just it but the blanket meaning of it.
Here, bravado is the pretense of the immortal
before the infinite. There being no other side,
they just surrender to this, seeing they cannot
see far, find a door, hack a hole, or mark a spot.
Goats love fog. Parked lovers and beachcombers
love fog, and those who fear the authorities,
and the camera-shy love it, and they adore it
who wish to be wrapped in beauty so delicate
one must step outside to be able to see it.

Marvin Bell, from Mars Being Red

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The eclipse

Watching the sun disappear in gradual increments today, what amazed me most was how little you would notice if you weren’t looking at it with glasses. The light did change towards the end, but not so much. Of course, we didn’t go to total eclipeseville to see it, just to east county where the sun wasn’t obscured by fog.

What Larry said: “I don’t know what amazes me more, the sense of the bodies moving in space or the ability of the scientists to predict their movement to the minute.”

Oh, and if you want to see the poetry reading last Thursday, here it is: https://www.facebook.com/beltiblibrary/

I’m the second of three readers.

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New work and old

I’m going to be reading at the Tiburon-Belvedere Library this Thursday, the 17th, at 7 pm. Mostly, I’m going to read new work. I’ve been writing some prose poems inspired by Carlo Rovelli’s wonderful books on physics. I’m including one here. But you can also see some of my older work (and some interesting work by others) at this site, created by Beate Sigriddaughter.

Here’s the prose poem:

Lying on the massage table at the mudbaths

after 12 minutes immersed in a tub of hot volcanic mud and 12 minutes in a bath of hot mineral water my heart thumps against the padded surface and I remember that I have a heart that I am a thermodynamic system that chugs along with little conscious thought blood in blood out every artery vein tiny capillary breathe in leafy oxygen and breathe out CO2 and I understand with my hot pumping body that we exist in relation to every other thing that we weave together a universe of beginnings and endings in a ever changing reality composed of individual particles that know nothing of heat or up or before or tomorrow that what I call self is inextricable from the body here on this table the flannel blanket absorbing particles of me as I slowly cool the new age music bothering my sensibility like a persistent gnat the laugh track last night on the episode of Friends the forgotten French vocabulary and Pythagorean Theorem the anxieties waiting to swarm when I return to my usual state every encounter and memory since my small hot self emerged on this planet till the engine finally stops and I cool for good and the cells of me transform into earth ash air as my spirit into yours as you read these words

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Those long summer evenings

They are already growing shorter now, but this passage from Adam Zagajewski’s new book of essays, Slight Exaggeration, perfectly captures the experience of the long evenings–even longer in northern Europe:

“And once again it was June–mild, long, slowly fading evenings, evenings promising so much that no matter what you do with them, you always receive the impression of defeat, of wasted time. Nobody knows the best way to get through them. Continue reading

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