Musings in Autumn: Walt Whitman
“Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”
A Poem for Today
By Robert Frost
I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.
I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.
American Art – Gerry Friberg
Gerry Friberg lives and works in the Pacific Northwest.
Below – “Dragon Flies”; “Chickadees”; “Earth’s Bounty”; “Hawaii”; “Hillside”; “Sun Spots”; “Oscar.”
Musings in Autumn: Sonja Yoerg
“Hiking’s not for everyone. Notice the wilderness is mostly empty.”
Art For November – Part I of II: Theodore Clement Steele
Below – “November’s Harmony”
Musings in Autumn: Mrs. Oliphant
“It was getting dark by the time I went out, and nobody who knows the country will need to be told how black is the darkness of a November night under high laurel bushes and yew-trees. I walked into the heart of the shrubberies two or three times, not seeing a step before me, till I came out upon the broader carriage-road, where the trees opened a little, and there was a faint grey glimmer of sky visible, under which the great limes and elms stood darkling like ghosts; but it grew black again as I approached the corner where the ruins lay.”
Chalmers Ashby Johnson (1931-2010) was an American author and professor. In the words of one writer, “He wrote numerous books including, most recently, three examinations of the consequences of American Empire: ‘Blowback,’ ‘The Sorrows of Empire,’ and ‘Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic.’’”
Some quotes from the work of Chalmers Ashby Johnson:
“A nation can be one or the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but it can’t be both. If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship.”
“When war becomes the most profitable course of action, we can certainly expect more of it.”
“Imperial politics represents the conquest of domestic politics and the latter’s conversion into a crucial element of inverted totalitarianism. It makes no sense to ask how the democratic citizen could ‘participate’ substantively in imperial politics; hence it is not surprising that the subject of empire is taboo in electoral debates. No major politician or party has so much as publicly remarked on the existence of an American empire.”
“The term blowback, which officials of the Central Intelligent Agency first invented for their own internal use, . . . refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people. What the daily press reports as the malign act of terrorists or drug lords or rogue states or illegal arms merchants often turn out to be blowback from earlier American operations.”
“Even though the American people may not know what has been done in their name, those on the receiving end certainly do: they include the people of Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1959 to the present), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), Indonesia (1965), Vietnam (1961–73), Laos (1961–73), Cambodia (1969–73), Greece (1967–73), Chile (1973), Afghanistan (1979 to the present), El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua (1980s), and Iraq (1991 to the present). Not surprisingly, sometimes these victims try to get even. There is a direct line between the attacks on September 11, 2001—the most significant instance of blowback in the history of the CIA—and the events of 1979.”
“Roman history suggests that the short, happy life of the American republic may be coming to its end… the US will probably maintain a facade of constitutional government and drift along until financial bankruptcy overtakes it.”
“It is time to realize, however, that the real dangers to America today come not from the newly rich people of East Asia but from our own ideological rigidity, our deep-seated belief in our own propaganda.”
“Lastly, there is bankruptcy, as the United States pours its economic resources into ever more grandiose military projects and shortchanges the education, health, and safety of its citizens.”
“History teaches us that the capacity for things to get worse is limitless.”
Art For November – Part II of II: John Atkinson Grimshaw
Below – “November Afternoon, Stapleton Park”
Musings in Autumn: Kristen Henderson
“…we’re not even really hiking,
more like meandering in cinematic light.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Gregory Pardlo
Unfinished, the road turns off the fill
from the gulf coast, tracing the bay, to follow
the inland waterway. I lose it in the gritty
limbo of scrub pine, the once wealth
—infantile again, and lean—of lumber barons,
now vested in the state, now sanctuary for renegades
and shamans, for pot growers and moonshiners,
the upriver and clandestine industries that keep
mostly to themselves.
Misting over a lake-front terraced lawn, evening’s pink
tablet, japanning lawn and lake, magnolia leaf,
ember easing, dips and gives gilt to the veiled
nocturne vanishing in the view: the hint of maison
through the woods faint as features pressed on
an ancient coin. Swart arms of live oaks that hag
their bad backs surreptitiously, drip Spanish moss
like swamp things out of where a pelican taxis limp-
legged across the lake, pratfalls awkward as a drunk
on a bike. The bat above me, like a flung wristwatch.
Musings in Autumn: Larry Luxenberg
“After more than two thousand miles on the [Appalachian] trail, you can expect to undergo some personality changes. A heightened affinity for nature infiltrates your life. Greater inner peace. Enhanced self-esteem. A quiet confidence that if I could do that, I can do and should do whatever I really want to do. More appreciation for what you have and less desire to acquire what you don’t. A childlike zest for living life to the fullest. A refusal to be embarrassed about having fun. A renewed faith in the essential goodness of humankind. And a determination to repay others for the many kindnesses you have received.”
A Third Poem for Today
“Two Horses and a Dog”
By James Galvin
Without external reference,
The world presents itself
In perfect clarity.
Wherewithal, arrested moments,
The throes of demystification,
Morality as nothing more
Than humility and honesty, a salty measure.
Then it was a cold snap,
Weather turned lethal so it was easier
To feel affinity
With lodgepole stands, rifted aspens,
And grim, tenacious sage.
History accelerates till it misses the turns.
Wars are shorter now
Just to fit into it.
One day you know you are no longer young
Because you’ve stopped loving your own desperation.
You change life to loneliness in your mind
And, you know, you need to change it back.
Statistics show that
One in every five
Is essential to my survival.
My daughter asks how wide is lightning.
That depends, but I don’t know on what.
Probably the dimension of inner hugeness,
As in a speck of dirt.
It was an honor to suffer humiliation and refusal.
Shame was an honor.
It was an honor to freeze your ass horseback
In the year’s first blizzard,
Looking for strays that never materialized.
It was an honor to break apart against this,
An honor to fail at well-being
As the high peaks accepted the first snow –
A sigh of relief.
Time stands still
And we things go whizzing past it,
Queasy and lonely,
Wearing dogtags with scripture on them.
Musings in Autumn: Lucy Maud Montgomery
“November is usually such a disagreeable month…as if the year had suddenly found out that she was growing old and could do nothing but weep and fret over it. This year is growing old gracefully…just like a stately old lady who knows she can be charming even with gray hair and wrinkles. We’ve had lovely days and delicious twilights.”
Canadian Art – Jane Ash Poitras: Part I
In the words of one writer, “Born in the isolated northern Alberta community of Fort Chipewyan, Jane was orphaned at an early age and fostered by Marguerite Runck, then 65, a devout Catholic of German descent. Growing up in the McCauley area of Edmonton, Jane spent many happy hours drawing and coloring and cutting and pasting (her first experience with collage).
Despite her artistic leanings, she was told it was impossible to make a living as an artist and encouraged to make another career choice. Jane chose medicine, but health problems intervened in her efforts to become a doctor. Despite those problems, she successfully gained a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology at the University of Alberta.
While working as a clinical and industrial microbiologist, Jane continued to work at her art in her spare time, taking evening courses at the University of Alberta. With encouragement from those who recognized her talent, she was persuaded to present a portfolio of her work to the U of A’s Department of Art and Design. She was accepted into the Department’s printmaking program and graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking. Encouraged by the faculty, she applied to a number of universities in the United States and Canada for post-graduate study. Accepted by several, she chose prestigious Columbia University in New York City, graduating with a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Sculpture in 1985.”
Below – “In My Parka You’ll Find My Spirit”; “Mustang Dream”; “We Are All Related”; “Cree Shaman”; “From Battles to Books”; “Sparkling Spirit.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Poetry as Insurgent Art [I am signaling you through the flames]”
By Lawrence Ferlinghetti
I am signaling you through the flames.
The North Pole is not where it used to be.
Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.
Nemesis is knocking at the door.
What are poets for, in such an age?
What is the use of poetry?
The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.
If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic.
You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words….
Canadian Art – Jane Ash Poitras: Part II
In the words of one writer, “Jane’s journey of discovery and creation has opened new doors to enlightenment as she combines her many diverse interests in pursuit of her distinctive artistic vision. Over the years, Jane has pursued many different routes of discovery, each reflected in the art she has produced. Those journeys of exploration have taken her not only into plumbing her Aboriginal roots (beginning by reconnecting with her birth family and her Mikisew Cree First Nation), but into such diverse topics as pharmacology, ethnobotany, Sanskrit and other linguistics, and literary creations supplementing the creation of visual works of art.
The range and diversity of the interests that inspire and inform her artistic creations have resulted in a number of distinctive series of artworks that, over time, reflect the paths she has taken on her journey of discovery. A survey of those series over the 25 years of her professional career could well serve as a map of that journey and a graphic record of her evolution as an artist.”
Below – “Sitting Bull’s Cave Wall”; “Forever”; “Changing Seasons”; “Once In Canada”; “Hollow Horn Bear”; “It’s A Girl.”