From the Pacific Northwest – Part XXX

A Poem for Today

“The Layers”
By Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

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Musings in Autumn: Thomas Paine

“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”

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American Art – Morris Graves

Artist Statement: “I have learned that art and nature are mind’s Environment within which we can detect the essence of man’s Being and Purpose, and from which we can draw clues to guide our journey from partial consciousness to full consciousness.
I paint to evolve a changing language of symbols and language with which to remark upon the qualities of our mysterious capacities which direct us toward ultimate reality.”

Below – “Household Treasures”; “Hibernation”; “Iceland Poppies”; “Raven”; “Quiet Still Life”; “Daisies.”

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A Second Poem for Today

“Fifteen, Maybe Sixteen Things to Worry About”
By Judith Viorst

My pants could maybe fall down when I dive off the diving board.
My nose could maybe keep growing and never quit.
Miss Brearly could ask me to spell words like stomach and special.
(“Stumick” and “speshul”?)
I could play tag all day and always be “it.”
Jay Spievack, who’s fourteen feet tall, could want to fight me.
My mom and my dad–like Ted’s–could want a divorce.
Miss Brearly could ask me a question about Afghanistan.
(Who’s Afghanistan?)
Somebody maybe could make me ride a horse.
My mother could maybe decide that I needed more liver.
My dad could decide that I needed less TV.
Miss Brearly could say that I have to write script and stop printing.
(I’m better at printing.)
Chris could decide to stop being friends with me.

The world could maybe come to an end on next Tuesday.
The ceiling could maybe come crashing on my head.
I maybe could run out of things for me to worry about.
And then I’d have to do my homework instead.

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Art for November – Part I of II: Peter Wyse

Below – “The Summit”

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A Third Poem for Today

“Ithaka”
By C. P. Cavafy

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can; and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

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Musings in Autumn: Rabindranath Tagore

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

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Art for November – Part II of II: Joseph Goldberg

Below – “Magnet”

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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Theories of Time and Space”
By Natasha Trethewey

You can get there from here, though
there’s no going home.
Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been. Try this:
head south on Mississippi 49, one—
by—one mile markers ticking off
another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion—dead end
at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches
in a sky threatening rain. Cross over
the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand
dumped on a mangrove swamp—buried
terrain of the past. Bring only
what you must carry—tome of memory
its random blank pages. On the dock
where you board the boat for Ship Island,
someone will take your picture:
the photograph—who you were—
will be waiting when you return

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Musings in Autumn: Tom Robbins

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.
Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.
The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip…
The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.
The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.”

Beetroot with leaves, fresh whole beet isolated on white backgro

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) was an English poet and cultural critic.

Some quotes from the work of Matthew Arnold:

“But often, in the world’s most crowded streets, But often, in the din of strife, There rises an unspeakable desire After the knowledge of our buried life; A thirst to spend our fire and restless force In tracking out our true, original course; A longing to inquire Into the mystery of this heart which beats So wild, so deep in us—to know Whence our lives come and where they go.”
“Our inequality materializes our upper class, vulgarizes our middle class, brutalizes our lower class.”
“Life is not having and getting, but being and becoming.”
“This strange disease of modern life,
With its sick hurry, its divided aims.
Now the great winds shoreward blow Now the salt tides seaward flow Now the wild white horses play Champ and chafe and toss in the spray.”
“Dreams dawn and fly: friends smile and die, Like spring flowers. Our vaunted life is one long funeral. Men dig graves, with bitter tears, For their dead hopes; and all, Mazed with doubts, and sick with fears, Count the hours.”
“Weary of myself, and sick of asking
What I am, and what I ought to be,
At this vessel’s prow I stand, which bears me
Forwards, forwards, o’er the starlit sea.”

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Canadian Art – Part I: Jimmy Wright

Artist Statement: “My style is loose, sort of half way between Robert Bateman and a caveman.”

Below – “Sun Bears”; untitled; “Birditokes”; “Sierra”; “Little Sandy.

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Musings in Autumn: Suzy Kassem

“If the devil decided to run for President, do you think he/she would put on their horns and wicked grin, or a suit with an angelic smile? If the wicked witch stayed green and ugly, would she have been able to give Snow White a poisoned apple? And if the Big Bad Wolf had not disguised himself as an old granny, would he have been able to lure Little Red Riding Hood into the house to eat her? And if a drug dealer wanted to seduce some school kids to get on his drugs, would he act like a greedy businessman — or a caring friend? Salt and sugar look exactly the same but taste very different. We live in a world of illusions, one filled with Luciferians acting like righteous men, and righteous men condemned as criminals.”

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A Fifth Poem for Today

“The Weighing”
Jane Hirshfield

The heart’s reasons
seen clearly,
even the hardest
will carry
its whip-marks and sadness
and must be forgiven.
As the drought-starved
eland forgives
the drought-starved lion
who finally takes her,
enters willingly then
the life she cannot refuse,
and is lion, is fed,
and does not remember the other.
So few grains of happiness
measured against all the dark
and still the scales balance.
The world asks of us
only the strength we have and we give it.

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Canadian Art – Part II: Don Weir

Artist Statement: “Early in my career as a Painter, I was most influenced by the work of the Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley, the Scandinavian Symbolist painters, and the Post-Impressionist Masters, Vuillard, Bonnard, and Giovanni Segantini. All of these Painters employed planes of color and atmospheric light to help them create mood and mystery in their masterworks.
In my early years as a Painter, I made trips to Art museums across North America and Europe to study their paintings. Adopting painting techniques from their work and studying their approaches to creating atmospheric light in their paintings assisted me in my own attempts to portray the mysterious beauty that defines the landscape of Northern Canada. Many of the painters listed above, especially the Scandinavian Symbolist movement, were also influential in the development of Canada’s most famous group of Painters…. the Group of Seven.
The beauty of the light that one finds in northern Canada is similar, in many ways, to the light in the Mojave desert where I spent my childhood. Both landscapes possess an austere and mysterious beauty and are defined, in large part, by the unique quality of the light in those regions. I have always been drawn, both aesthetically and in my Artwork, to those regions which are defined by large open expanses of land. This is due in large part I feel to the years spent exploring and living in the minimalist terrains of the deserts of the US Southwest.
Understanding and capturing atmospheric light effects in my work is…and always has been the centrepiece of my journey as an Artist.”

Below – “Sunlit Peaks In Morning Light Near Banff”; “Summer Light In The Rockies – Moraine Lake”; “Evening Light – Lake Agnes”; “Sunlit Peaks in Winter”; “Juneau Icefield At First Light.”

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