From the Pacific Northwest – Part XXIV

Musings in Autumn: Finis Mitchell

“We don’t stop hiking because we grow old – we grow old because we stop hiking.”

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A Poem for Today

“Three Foxes by the Edge of the Field at Twilight”
By Jane Hirshfield

One ran,
her nose to the ground,
a rusty shadow
neither hunting nor playing.

One stood; sat; lay down; stood again.

One never moved,
except to turn her head a little as we walked.

Finally we drew too close,
and they vanished.
The woods took them back as if they had never been.

I wish I had thought to put my face to the grass.

But we kept walking,
speaking as strangers do when becoming friends.

There is more and more I tell no one,
strangers nor loves.
This slips into the heart
without hurry, as if it had never been.

And yet, among the trees, something has changed.

Something looks back from the trees,
and knows me for who I am.

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American Art – Jared Rue

In the words of one writer, “Rue explores the narrative of the evolution of man and the affect man has on the ocean’s diverse ecosystems. This body of work exposes our changing coast lines and oceans through conveying the somber beauty of this reality on canvas or canvas over panel finished with aluminum leaf.
The scenes could represent the mass bleaching of reefs around the world due to pollution and global warming while others in the collection shed light on the act of ghost fishing. Rue invites us to think about the debris and fishing nets that are lost or cut loose and left to tangle and drift about the seas and how these ghost nets unfairly capture and kill thousands of fish, seals, otters, turtles, whales and sharks over the course of a year.”

Below – “Collision”; “Seafront”; “Seabed II”; “Point of Origin (Camano Island)”; “Beach Landing”; “Great Barrier Grief.”

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Musings in Autumn: George Carlin

“Regarding the fitness craze: America has lost its soul; now it’s trying to save its body.”

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A Second Poem for Today

“Species Prepare to Exist After Money”
By Brenda Hillman

Turns out bacteria communicate in color.
     They warn each other in teal
  or celadon & humans assign
meaning to this, saying they are distressed
      or full of longing. The wood rat
    makes a nest of H’s; it hoards
the seven tiny silences. Crows in the pine
can count specific faces like writers
    who feel their art has been ignored.
             My father spent his life thinking
         about money though he knew
      it causes most of this stupid violence,

& he thought of me as a sensible person;
     ‘ you have the chemical for sensible,’ he said.
There was no tragedy between us,
            unlike how poor Joyce wrote
        that his daughter turned away
from ‘that battered cabman’s face, the world.’
    i didn’t turn away because i don’t know
where it is, it is all over, & when it seems
     pure nothingness has come to pass,
i know another animal prepares itself
         nationless, not sensible;
            thinking of it helps a little bit—

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Art for November – Part I of II: John Roush

Below – “November Wind”

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A Third Poem for Today

“When the Year Grows Old”
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

I cannot but remember
  When the year grows old—
October—November—
  How she disliked the cold!

She used to watch the swallows
  Go down across the sky,
And turn from the window
  With a little sharp sigh.

And often when the brown leaves
  Were brittle on the ground,
And the wind in the chimney
  Made a melancholy sound,

She had a look about her
  That I wish I could forget—
The look of a scared thing
  Sitting in a net!

Oh, beautiful at nightfall
  The soft spitting snow!
And beautiful the bare boughs
  Rubbing to and fro!

But the roaring of the fire,
  And the warmth of fur,
And the boiling of the kettle
  Were beautiful to her!

I cannot but remember
  When the year grows old—
October—November—
  How she disliked the cold!

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Musings in Autumn: Plato

“At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.”

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Canadian Art – Part I: Peter Shostak

In the words of one writer, “Peter Shostak was raised on a farm in north-eastern Alberta. His paintings reflect his love of the Alberta prairies where he grew up. After completing high school in 1961, he left the farm to attend the University of Alberta, majoring in Art Education. He became a junior high school teacher, and taught adult drawing and painting classes at night.
Peter Shostak returned to the University of Alberta in 1968 and secured Graduate Degree in Art Education. He moved to Victoria, British Columbia, where he assumed the position of Assistant Professor of Art Education at the University of Victoria. He stayed at the university for ten years, but felt that he was limiting the time he spent working on his art. He resigned in 1979 to pursue his career as an artist.”

Below – “Sturday Came But Once A Week”; “I Helped The Boys Clear The Snow Off”; “Even If It’s Snowing, The Cattle Must Be Fed”; “Fall Fog”; “Going To Play Cards”; “Late Afternoon Sun.”

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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Like Any Good American”
By Brynn Salto

I bathe my television    in total attention    I give it my corneas
I give it my eardrums    I give it my longing
In return I get pictures      of girls fighting    and men flying
and women in big houses    with tight faces    blotting down tears
with tiny knuckles    Sometimes my mother calls
and I don’t answer      Sometimes a siren     sings past the window
and summer air     pushes in     dripping with the scent
of human sweat       But what do I care      I’ve given my skin
to the TV     I’ve given it my tastes     In return    it gives me so many
different sounds     to fill the silence   where the secrets
of my life     flash by like ad space     for the coming season

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Musings in Autumn: Tom Robbins

“Look, America is no more a democracy than Russia is a Communist state. The governments of the U.S. and Russia are practically the same. There’s only a difference of degree. We both have the same basic form of government: economic totalitarianism. In other words, the settlement to all questions, the solutions to all issues are determined not by what will make the people most healthy and happy in the bodies and their minds but by economics. Dollars or rubles. Economy uber alles. Let nothing interfere with economic growth, even though that growth is castrating truth, poisoning beauty, turning a continent into a shit-heap and riving an entire civilization insane. Don’t spill the Coca-Cola, boys, and keep those monthly payments coming.”

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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Broadway”
By Alicia Ostriker

As the body of the beloved is a window
through which we behold the blackness and vastness of space
pulsing with stars, and as the man

on the corner with his fruit stand is a window,
and the cherries, blackberries, raspberries
avocados and carrots are a rose window

like the one in Chartres, yes, or the one in Paris
through which light floods from the other world, the pure one
stabbing tourists with malicious abundant joy

though the man is tired in the summer heat
and reads his newspaper listlessly, without passion
and people pass his stand buying nothing

let us call this scene a window looking out
not at a paradise but as a paradise
might be, if we had eyes to see

the women in their swaying dresses, the season’s fruit
the babies in their strollers infinitely soft: clear window
after clear window

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Musings in Autumn: Helen Keller

“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” 


Below – Helen Keller

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Art for November – Part II of II: Andrew Wyeth

Below – “November First”

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Musings in Autumn: Cheryl Strayed

“I happen to believe that America is dying of loneliness, that we, as a people, have bought into the false dream of convenience, and turned away from a deep engagement with our internal lives—those fountains of inconvenient feeling—and toward the frantic enticements of what our friends in the Greed Business call the Free Market. We’re hurtling through time and space and information faster and faster, seeking that network connection. But at the same time we’re falling away from our families and our neighbors and ourselves. We ego-surf and update our status and brush up on which celebrities are ruining themselves, and how. But the cure won’t stick.”

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A Sixth Poem for Today

“Looking for the Gulf Motel”
Bu Richard Blanco

Marco Island, Florida

There should be nothing here I don’t remember . . .

The Gulf Motel with mermaid lampposts
and ship’s wheel in the lobby should still be
rising out of the sand like a cake decoration.
My brother and I should still be pretending
we don’t know our parents, embarrassing us
as they roll the luggage cart past the front desk
loaded with our scruffy suitcases, two-dozen
loaves of Cuban bread, brown bags bulging
with enough mangos to last the entire week,
our espresso pot, the pressure cooker—and
a pork roast reeking garlic through the lobby.
All because we can’t afford to eat out, not even
on vacation, only two hours from our home
in Miami, but far enough away to be thrilled
by whiter sands on the west coast of Florida,
where I should still be for the first time watching
the sun set instead of rise over the ocean.

There should be nothing here I don’t remember . . .

My mother should still be in the kitchenette
of The Gulf Motel, her daisy sandals from Kmart
squeaking across the linoleum, still gorgeous
in her teal swimsuit and amber earrings
stirring a pot of arroz-con-pollo, adding sprinkles
of onion powder and dollops of tomato sauce.
My father should still be in a terrycloth jacket
smoking, clinking a glass of amber whiskey
in the sunset at the Gulf Motel, watching us
dive into the pool, two boys he’ll never see
grow into men who will be proud of him.

There should be nothing here I don’t remember . . .

My brother and I should still be playing Parcheesi,
my father should still be alive, slow dancing
with my mother on the sliding-glass balcony
of The Gulf Motel. No music, only the waves
keeping time, a song only their minds hear
ten-thousand nights back to their life in Cuba.
My mother’s face should still be resting against
his bare chest like the moon resting on the sea,
the stars should still be turning around them.

There should be nothing here I don’t remember . . .

My brother should still be thirteen, sneaking
rum in the bathroom, sculpting naked women
from sand. I should still be eight years old
dazzled by seashells and how many seconds
I hold my breath underwater—but I’m not.
I am thirty-eight, driving up Collier Boulevard,
looking for The Gulf Motel, for everything
that should still be, but isn’t. I want to blame
the condos, their shadows for ruining the beach
and my past, I want to chase the snowbirds away
with their tacky mansions and yachts, I want
to turn the golf courses back into mangroves,
I want to find The Gulf Motel exactly as it was
and pretend for a moment, nothing lost is lost.

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Musings in Autumn: John Muir

“I only went for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

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Canadian Art – Part II: Lyle Sopel

Artist Statement: “I think of man and animal as having the same living spirit. I try to capture this feeling whenever I create a piece.”

Below – “Fishing Bear” (nephrite jade, rhodonite, obsidian); “Playful Bears” (nephrite jade); “Bear on Tree” (jade); “High Adventure” (bronze, marble); “Walking Bear” (nephrite jade); “Icy Manoeuver” (nephrite jade, smokey quartz).

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