From the Pacific Northwest – Part XXV

A Poem for Today

“Prayer from a Mouse”
By Sarah Messer

Dimensionless One, can you hear me?
Me with the moon ears, caught
in ice branches?

Beneath the sky’s long house,
beneath the old snake tree,
I pray to see even a fragment
of you—
whiskers ticking

a deserted street,
a staircase leading
to the balcony
of your collarbone.

Beloved King of Stars, I cannot
contain my animal movements.

For you I stay like a mountain.
For you I stay like a straight pin.

But in the end, the body leaves us
its empty building.

Midnight petulant
as a root cellar. Wasps crawling
in sleeves. I sleep

with my tail over
my face, enflamed.

Oh Great Cataloguer
of Snow Leaves, I pray
that you may appear
and carry every piece
of my fur in your hands.

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Musings in Autumn: P.J. O’Rourke

“The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.”

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Art for November – Part I of II: Leonid Afremov

Below – “November Park”

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Musings in Autumn: Oscar Wilde

“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.”

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A Second Poem for Today

“Shakespeare’s Horse”
By Joseph Harrison

He was a man knew horses, so we moved
As wills were one, and all was won at will,
In hand with such sleight handling as improved
Those parks and parcels where we’re racing still,

Pounding like pairs of hooves or pairs of hearts
Through woodland scenes and lush, dramatic spaces,
With all our parts in play to play all parts
In pace with pace to put us through his paces.

Ages have passed. All channels channel what
Imagined these green plots and gave them names
Down to the smallest role, if and and but,
What flies the time (the globe gone up in flames),

What thunders back to ring the ringing course
And runs like the streaking will, like Shakespeare’s horse.

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American Art – Katherine Ace

Artist Statement: “The intersection of contraries fascinates me: ecstasy and agony; humor and tragedy; natural and constructed realities; experience and news. I am captivated by complex issues that we all face, and yet experience personally, intimately. I am interested in the role of dark feelings, thoughts and states of mind in the process of transformation, l am drawn to fire beneath reserve.
Although stylistically I incorporate representation, paradoxically, I approach the canvas abstractly and employ gesture founded in Abstract Expressionism. I throw paint at the canvas and sculpt the surface using painting knives, nails, pins, bottle brushes, gold leaf plastic, anything that is lying around. Into the surface I incorporate paper collage, feathers, beans, tacks, sticks, glass and more.
My subject matter includes the figure (invented, remembered and/or quoted) as well as still life of paper, textiles, flora and fauna, food, weapons and toys. I work whatever my mood, and each piece combines the intentional with the accidental, the textured layers forming what becomes the body and flesh of the painting.”

Below – “Wandering”; “Dunes”; “Tales (with Nests”; “And They Lived Happily”; “In The Woods”; “The Fire of Spring.”

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Musings in Autumn: William Blake

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet.”

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A Third Poem for Today

“The Sun in Bemidji, Minnesota”
By Sean Hill

The sun isn’t even a pearl today—
its light diffused, strained gray
by winter haze—this the grayest
day so far, so when I enter the Wells
Fargo parking lot the last thing I expect
is to see the sun in the car next to mine.
I watch a woman make out with the sun,
and I’m jealous of the sun. Beautiful
beyond her desire—wanting the sun
so—she almost glows as she tugs
sweetness from his whiskers with
her teeth, and his drool runs down
her chin. I think the sun is a man,
but it’s hard to tell in this light. No,
it’s a mango, and I’m jealous of her.

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Art for November – Part II of II: Willard Leroy Metcalf

Below – “Vermont Hills November 1923”

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Musings in Autumn: Allen Ginsberg

“In my dreams you walk dripping from a sea journey on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night.”

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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Handshake Histories”
By Jeff Hoffman

          Summer, 1983

They’re locked together outside a gift shop outside
the Badlands: a statue Indian shaking hands
with a statue cowboy. The Indian’s head feathers

hang down, subdued; the cowboy’s hat tilts up at the front—
invitation, forgiveness. His six-shooter, holstered, juts out
from the wood, and I trace it, guiding two fingers

along a well-worn stream that ends at the Indian’s leather
vest tassels: When I touch them they should be soft
but are not. My family floats somewhere apart from me;

I do not think of my family. The Indian
creeps into the mist of a forest, lifts his hatchet
toward a rustle in the distance. The cowboy kicks

the ribs of his horse, wrecks onward through a blizzard
of dust. And far away the speck of Rushmore’s faces
scoured—by sun, by wind—one layer more lean.

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Musings in Autumn: Vincent Van Gogh

“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.”

Below – Vincent Van Gogh: “Willows at Sunset”

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Canadian Art – Part I: Mike Svob

Artist Statement: “In my work I try to bring the viewer into a new and potential obtuse sense of space and colour… to imagine a world of visual possibilities. I have always been deeply moved by the colourful patterns and subtle shades of light upon the landscape. The warm sparkle of fresh snow in a cool brilliant winter light or the patterns made by trees dancing in the wind, the soft ghostly lost edges from water falling and splashing on rocks. To be at once both aware of the reality and intrigued by the fanciful possibilities. As an artist, I try to capture the essence of the moment, distill out what is unnecessary, and add my twist so the viewer is left with an impression of the landscape that will endure through time.”

Below – “Above Oesa, Yoho BC”; “Warm Fall Light (Lake Louise, AB)”; “Distant Howser Spires (Bugaboos BC)”; “Golden Rocks Falling Water”; “Atmosphere And Colour”; “Aspen and Cottonwood”; “Sunlight And Snow”; “Prairie Play”; “Autumn Ranch”; “Fall on Rundle.”

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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Coastal Plain”
By Kathryn Stripling Byer

The only clouds
forming are crow clouds,

the only shade, oaks
bound together in a tangle of oak

limbs that signal the wind
coming, if there is any wind

stroking the flat
fields, the flat

swatch of corn.
Far as anyone’s eye can see, corn’s

dying under the sky
that repeats itself either as sky

or as water
that won’t remain water

for long on the highway: its shimmer
is merely the shimmer

of one more illusion that yields
to our crossing as we ourselves yield

to our lives, to the roots
of our landscape. Pull up the roots

and what do we see but the night
soil of dream, the night

soil of what we call
home. Home that calls

and calls
and calls.

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Musings in Autumn: John Cheever

“Our country is the best country in the world. We are swimming in prosperity and our President is the best president in the world. We have larger apples and better cotton and faster and more beautiful machines. This makes us the greatest country in the world. Unemployment is a myth. Dissatisfaction is a fable. In preparatory school America is beautiful. It is the gem of the ocean and it is too bad. It is bad because people believe it all. Because they become indifferent. Because they marry and reproduce and vote and they know nothing.”

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A Sixth Poem for Today

“Our Valley”
By Philip Levine

We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.

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Musings in Autumn: Wallace Stevens

“The most beautiful thing in the world is, of course, the world itself.”

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Canadian Art – Part II: Stewart Steinhauer

Artist Statement: “In the indigenous worldview to which I subscribe there is a mysterious creative force driving through everything, and sometimes individuals get caught up in that creative energy and inadvertently make stuff. As someone who inadvertently makes stuff, I would like to gently articulate this critical difference between what my Scots/Irish ancestors call ‘individual artistic talent’, and what my Cree/Anishnabe/Mohawk ancestors call ‘a spiritual gift”. Coming to consciousness within many indigenous cultures involves a journey out of the small me into the large we; creative individuals become conscious of the swirling pool of creative forces, and recognize their (our) place in it.
Nechwamps (my cousin) asked me to go to the mountains with him to fast (spiritual retreat involving social isolation and abstinence from food and water….plus too much else to enumerate here) and there we each ‘met’ a bear. Not a wild life bear, though there were plenty of those around; we were each visited by an intelligent communicative spiritually-energized bear with a teaching to share.
The bear who approached me went through a series of transformations, from ‘the little bear” (a comically playful spirit bear) to ‘the four-legged spirit being’ (a terrifyingly large and powerful spirit bear) to a yearling-sized stone bear who could move, with a sort of rippling action. Watching the stone bear moving about made a 3-D imprint of the form of the bear in my imagination. Now, when I carve a bear, I can ‘see’ the bear in the stone as I drill/saw/grind/hammer down to it, no matter the shape of the raw stone block.
For me, the bear is a spiritual being with a powerful teaching to share. Likewise the raw material of my work: rock. I work for a spiritual being called the Rock Spirit.
For uncounted millennia before the beginning of the colonial period there was a Turtle Island; that is where my creative work springs up from. I work under the direction of the Rock Spirit. She/He sets the course, provides the raw materials, inspires through dreams and visions, energizes and enlightens through ceremony. Sitting in the darkness of a sweatlodge, face to face with the glowing red-warm rocks fresh from the fire…..now that’s my idea of a good time.”

Below – “Blue Pearl Grizzly I”; “Small Standing Buffalo”; “Sweet Grass Bear”; “Mother Bear Prays For Earth Healing”; “Koh Kominaw Maskwa”; “Grazing Buffalo”; “Humble Bear.”

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