A Poem for Today
By Lucille Clifton
“the earth is a living thing”
is a black shambling bear
ruffling its wild back and tossing
mountains into the sea
is a black hawk circling
the burying ground circling the bones
picked clean and discarded
is a fish black blind in the belly of water
is a diamond blind in the black belly of coal
is a black and living thing
is a favorite child
of the universe
feel her rolling her hand
in its kinky hair
feel her brushing it clean
Canadian Art – Part I of II: Irina Koulikov
In the words of one writer, “Irina Koulikova is preoccupied with the work of time on natural elements, the organic decay of which she represents with the sepia effect of encaustic on her earthen palette. As with the Barbizon painters, it is the beauty of nature that compels Irina to paint, and that she seeks to express in her tranquil landscape scenes.”
Below – untitled; untitled; untitled; untitled; untitled; untitled.
Musings in December: Will Cuppy
“The stork is voiceless because there is really nothing to say.”
Musings in December: Dave Eggers
“The death of a young person for no reason is an apocalypse.”
Canadian Art – Part II of II: Kraft van Ermel
In the words of one writer, “Annette Kraft van Ermel’s paintings are a quiet celebration of beauty in the small details of life – the familiar and the commonly unnoticed. Emerging through layers of oil, wax and charcoal, subjects are obscured yet still hold structure resulting in a very compelling dynamic tension. Annette’s mission is to hold onto small moments of grace against the erosive passage of time.”
Below – “Searching for Something”; “Wings of Dammar”; “Wingless”; “Back to Back”; “Eating Chartreuse.”
Musings in December: Kenneth Minogue
“Europeans have sometimes been beguiled by a despotism that comes concealed in the seductive form of an ideal – as it did in the cases of Hitler and Stalin. This fact may remind us that the possibility of despotism is remote neither in space nor in time.”
Art for December – Part I of IV: Judy Salinsky
Below – “Ocean Dancer” (bronze, with marble base)
Musings in December: O.R. Melling
“Where do we record the passing of wildlife? Who mourns the silent deaths of the small?”
Art for December – Part II of IV: Kelly Paige Standard
Below – “Reverence”
A Second Poem for Today
“Negotiations with a Volcano”
By Naomi Shihab Nye
We will call you “Agua” like the rivers and cool jugs.
We will persuade the clouds to nestle around your neck
so you may sleep late.
We would be happy if you slept forever.
We will tend the slopes we plant, singing the songs
our grandfathers taught us before we inherited their fear.
We will try not to argue among ourselves.
When the widow demands extra flour, we will provide it,
remembering the smell of incense on the day of our Lord.
Please think of us as we are, tiny, with skins that burn easily.
Please notice how we have watered the shrubs around our houses
and transplanted the peppers into neat tin cans.
Forgive any anger we feel toward the earth,
when the rains do not come, or they come too much,
and swallow our corn.
It is not easy to be this small and live in your shadow.
Often while we are eating our evening meal
you cross our rooms like a thief,
touching first the radio and then the loom.
Later our dreams begin catching fire around the edges,
they burn like paper, we wake with our hands full of ash.
How can we live like this?
We need to wake and find our shelves intact,
our children slumbering in their quilts.
We need dreams the shape of lakes,
with mornings in them thick as fish.
Shade us while we cast and hook—
but nothing else, nothing else.
Art for December – Part III of IV: Carmen Gusmao
Below – “Secret Garden”
Musings in December: Bill Maher
“Fascism is when corporations become the government.”
Art for December – Part IV of IV: Lenore Simon
Below – “Stag”
Musings in December: Rick Yancey
“It’s an alien apocalypse! Quick, grab the beer!”
A Third Poem for Today
fluted with gold,
fruit on the sand
marked with a rich grain,
spilled near the shrub-pines
to bleach on the boulders:
your stalk has caught root
among wet pebbles
and drift flung by the sea
and grated shells
and split conch-shells.
fire upon leaf,
what meadow yields
so fragrant a leaf
as your bright leaf?
Australian Art – Natasha Bieniek
In the words of one writer, “Born in Melbourne in 1984, Bieniek began her formal artistic training at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2002 where she began to concentrate on figurative painting.”
Musings in December: Jess Walter
“I have this theory, that this will be the only city that future archaeologists find, Las Vegas. The dry climate will preserve it all and teams of scientists in the year 5000 will carefully sweep and scrape away the sand to find pyramids and castles and replicas of the Eiffel Tower and the New York skyline and stripper poles and snapper cards and these future archaeologists will re-create our entire culture based solely on this one shallow and cynical little shithole. We can complain all we want that this city doesn’t represent us. We can say, Yes, but I hated Las Vegas. Or I only went there once. Well, I’m sure not all Romans reveled in the torture-fests at the Colosseum either, but there it is.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Adam Zagajewski
Between the computer, a pencil, and a typewriter
half my day passes. One day it will be half a century.
I live in strange cities and sometimes talk
with strangers about matters strange to me.
I listen to music a lot: Bach, Mahler, Chopin, Shostakovich.
I see three elements in music: weakness, power, and pain.
The fourth has no name.
I read poets, living and dead, who teach me
tenacity, faith, and pride. I try to understand
the great philosophers–but usually catch just
scraps of their precious thoughts.
I like to take long walks on Paris streets
and watch my fellow creatures, quickened by envy,
anger, desire; to trace a silver coin
passing from hand to hand as it slowly
loses its round shape (the emperor’s profile is erased).
Beside me trees expressing nothing
but a green, indifferent perfection.
Black birds pace the fields,
waiting patiently like Spanish widows.
I’m no longer young, but someone else is always older.
I like deep sleep, when I cease to exist,
and fast bike rides on country roads when poplars and houses
dissolve like cumuli on sunny days.
Sometimes in museums the paintings speak to me
and irony suddenly vanishes.
I love gazing at my wife’s face.
Every Sunday I call my father.
Every other week I meet with friends,
thus proving my fidelity.
My country freed itself from one evil. I wish
another liberation would follow.
Could I help in this? I don’t know.
I’m truly not a child of the ocean,
as Antonio Machado wrote about himself,
but a child of air, mint and cello
and not all the ways of the high world
cross paths with the life that—so far—
belongs to me.
Musings in December: Beryl Markham
“To an eagle or to an owl or to a rabbit, man must seem a masterful and yet a forlorn animal; he has but two friends. In his almost universal unpopularity he points out, with pride, that these two are the dog and the horse. He believes, with an innocence peculiar to himself, that they are equally proud of this alleged confraternity. He says, ‘Look at my two noble friends — they are dumb, but they are loyal.’ I have for years suspected that they are only tolerant.”
Mexican Art – Octavio Ocampo
In the words of one writer, “Artist Octavio Ocampo was born in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico on February 28, 1943. He was educated at the Fine Art Institute, Mexico City and the San Francisco Art Institute, graduating in 1974. He has been exhibiting since 1972.”
Below – “Dream of the Mermaid”; “Ecstasy of the Lillies”; “To Run With the Herd”; “Mouth of the Flower”; “Buddha”; “Celestial Bodies.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Song for Lonely Roads”
By Sherwood Anderson
Now let us understand each other, love,
Long time ago I crept off home,
To my own gods I went.
The tale is old,
It has been told
By many men in many lands.
The lands belong to those who tell.
Now surely that is clear.
After the plow had westward swept,
The gods bestowed the corn to stand.
Long, long it stood,
Strong, strong it grew,
To make a forest for new song.
Deep in the corn the bargain hard
Youth with the gods drove home.
The gods remember,
Doubt not the soul of song that waits.
The singer dies,
The singer lives,
The gods wait in the corn,
The soul of song is in the land.
Lift up your lips to that.
Musings in December: Louise Gluck
“We look at the world once, in childhood.
The rest is memory.”
American Art – Dean Crouser
Artist Statement: “I am always striving to say the most with the least and like to keep my work fast and spontaneous. My goal is to capture the beauty and simplicity of a scene in a manner that people haven’t seen a million times before.”