Wandering in Woodacre – 24 November 2020

Friends: Today I am posting a poetic rendition of my personal “Journey to the West,” which is, as my Asian Studies students will recall, the actual title of the book “Monkey,” written by Wu Ch’eng-en and translated by Arthur Waley. The poems I have selected to represent my sojourn across our nation are set in New Jersey, Arkansas, Washington State, and California. I hope that you enjoy them.

Contemporary American Art – Melinda Patrick

Below – “Bright Blue and a Boat”; “Backstairs”; “Beyond the Cars”; “Lakehouse”; “Red Ribbon”; “Mocha Shouldered Ladies.”

A Poem for Today: My Journey to the West: Part I

“Jersey Rain”
by Robert Pinsky

Now near the end of the middle stretch of road
What have I learned? Some earthly wiles. An art.
That often I cannot tell good fortune from bad,
That once had seemed so easy to tell apart.

The source of art and woe aslant in wind
Dissolves or nourishes everything it touches.
What roadbank gullies and ruts it doesn’t mend
It carves the deeper, boiling tawny in ditches.

It spends itself regardless into the ocean.
It stains and scours and makes things dark or bright:
Sweat of the moon, a shroud of benediction,
The chilly liquefaction of day to night,

The Jersey rain, my rain, soaks all as one:
It smites Metuchen, Rahway, Saddle River,
Fair Haven, Newark, Little Silver, Bayonne.
I feel it churning even in fair weather

To craze distinction, dry the same as wet.
In ripples of heat the August drought still feeds
Vapors in the sky that swell to smite the state —
The Jersey rain, my rain, in streams and beads

Of indissoluble grudge and aspiration:
Original milk, replenisher of grief,
Descending destroyer, arrowed source of passion,
Silver and black, executioner, font of life.

Below – Rain falling on New Jersey Shore (photograph by Ilya Hemlin)

Contemporary American Art – Stephen Remick: Part I of II.

Below – “Ribbons and Barbs”; “Raft on a Still Pond”; “Standing by Peaceful Waters”; “Awestruck”; “Petals on the Path”; “The Pond and the Mountain.”

A Poem for Today: My Journey to the West: Part II

“Watching ‘Casablanca’ in Arkadelphia, Arkansas”
by Jo McDougall

t’s 3 a.m.
Fog permeates Casablanca
as fog floats above the Ouachita,
the river this town lies ragtag along.
Those flimmering creatures on the screen are dead,
the town at this hour is dead,
the vapor of that river rises
to touch my feet.
Now the early morning train
clangoring through Arkadelphia
I stumble toward my coat and my valise.
I must be gone
before the Germans,
the closed borders,
the informant sun.
O Ingrid, Humphrey, Sydney, Paul,
shadows on the banks of my life,
I point the remote and exile you all

Below – Photographs depicting the cast members of “Casablanca” mentioned in the poem; the Ouachita River at Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Contemporary American Art – Stephen Remick: Part II of II.

Below – “The Greenhouse”; “Heading Up the Hill, Looking Back (The Old Apple Orchard);” “Coming Home”; “Edge of Field in Snow”; “Tree House – Looking Up”; “Winter Path – White Light.”


A Poem for Today: My Journey to the West: Part III

“Settling”
by Denise Levertov

I was welcomed here—clear gold
of late summer, of opening autumn,
the dawn eagle sunning himself on the highest tree,
the mountain revealing herself unclouded, her snow
tinted apricot as she looked west,
Tolerant, in her steadfastness, of the restless sun
forever rising and setting.
Now I am given
a taste of the grey foretold by all and sundry,
a grey both heavy and chill. I’ve boasted I would not care,
I’m London-born. And I won’t. I’ll dig in,
into my days, having come here to live, not to visit.
Grey is the price
of neighboring with eagles, of knowing
a mountain’s vast presence, seen or unseen.

Below – Isolde Kowaleszyn: “Mount Rainier”


Contemporary American Art – Garry McMichael

Below – “Morning Fog in the Buffalo River Valley, Arkansas Ozarks”; “Red Snow Barn, Ozarks”; “Red Rock Loop Road”; “The Pussy Willow Tree”; “Rainy Day Blues”; “Lonesome Highway.”


A Poem for Today: My Journey to the West: Part IV

“Facing West From California’s Shores”
by Walt Whitman

Facing west, from California’s shores,
Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound,
I, a child, very old, over waves, towards the house of maternity, the
land of migrations, look afar,
Look off the shores of my Western Sea—the circle almost circled;
For, starting westward from Hindustan, from the vales of Kashmere,
From Asia—from the north—from the God, the sage, and the hero,
From the south—from the flowery peninsulas, and the spice islands;
Long having wander’d since—round the earth having wander’d,
Now I face home again—very pleas’d and joyous;
(But where is what I started for, so long ago?
And why is it yet unfound?)

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Wandering in Woodacre – 23 November 2020

Contemporary Swedish Art – Yuanyuan Liu

Below – “Autumn landscape”; “Green leaves”; “Lunch table”; “Summer flowers”; “Autumn forest”; “Twilight.”


A Poem for Today

“Monday”
by Billy Collins

The birds are in their trees,
the toast is in the toaster,
and the poets are at their windows.

They are at their windows
in every section of the tangerine of earth-
the Chinese poets looking up at the moon,
the American poets gazing out
at the pink and blue ribbons of sunrise.

The clerks are at their desks,
the miners are down in their mines,
and the poets are looking out their windows
maybe with a cigarette, a cup of tea,
and maybe a flannel shirt or bathrobe is involved.

The proofreaders are playing the ping-pong
game of proofreading,
glancing back and forth from page to page,
the chefs are dicing celery and potatoes,
and the poets are at their windows
because it is their job for which
they are paid nothing every Friday afternoon.

Which window it hardly seems to matter
though many have a favorite,
for there is always something to see-
a bird grasping a thin branch,
the headlight of a taxi rounding a corner,
those two boys in wool caps angling across the street.

The fishermen bob in their boats,
the linemen climb their round poles,
the barbers wait by their mirrors and chairs,
and the poets continue to stare
at the cracked birdbath or a limb knocked down by the wind.

By now, it should go without saying
that what the oven is to the baker
and the berry-stained blouse to the dry cleaner,
so the window is to the poet.

Just think –
before the invention of the window,
the poets would have had to put on a jacket
and a winter hat to go outside
or remain indoors with only a wall to stare at.

And when I say a wall,
I do not mean a wall with striped wallpaper
and a sketch of a cow in a frame.

I mean a cold wall of fieldstones,
the wall of the medieval sonnet,
the original woman’s heart of stone,
the stone caught in the throat of her poet-lover.

Below – Stephen Remick: “Cross the Line”


Contemporary British Art – Victoria Popplewell

Below – “Reading in stripy pajamas”; “Autumnal Still Life”; “Night by the sea”; “Nail Salon Dream”; “This sandwich looks tasty”; “Coffee in Venice”; “Dancing from the pages of a novel.”


A Poem for Today

“Veil”
by Todd Davis

In this low place between mountains
fog settles with the dark of evening.
Every year it takes some of those
we love—a car full of teenagers
on the way home from a dance, or
a father on his way to the paper mill,
nightshift the only opening.
Each morning, up on the ridge,
the sun lifts this veil, sees what night
has accomplished. The water on our window-
screens disappears slowly, gradually,
like grief. The heat of the day carries water
from the river back up into the sky,
and where the fog is heaviest and stays
longest, you’ll see the lines it leaves
on trees, the flowers that grow
the fullest.

Below – Annet Taapken: “Fog in the Valley” (photograph)

Contemporary British Art – Becky Mayes

Below – “Ladder to the Moon”; “Healing together”; “Merging with the landscape”; “Waves of the Earth”; “R is for Rainbow”; “Singapore.”

A Poem for Today

“Falling Snow”
by Amy Lowell

The snow whispers around me
And my wooden clogs
Leave holes behind me in the snow.
But no one will pass this way
Seeking my footsteps,
And when the temple bell rings again
They will be covered and gone.

Below – Ellen Fasthuber-Huemer: “footsteps in the snow”

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Wandering in Woodacre – 22 November 2020

This Das in Art History: Born 22 November 1849 – Christian Rohlfs, a German painter.

Below – “Landscape vision”; “Hilly landscape in late autumn”; “Magnolia”; “Moonlight on the Ocean”; Three Ducks”; “Blue Landscape.”


This Date in Literary History: Died 22 November 1993 – Anthony Burgess, an English novelist, playwright, critic, and author of “A Clockwork Orange.”

Some quotes from the work of Anthony Burgess:

“To be left alone is the most precious thing one can ask of the modern world.”
“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”
“Language exists less to record the actual than to liberate the imagination.”
“Every dogma has its day.”
“Literature ceases to be literature when it commits itself to moral uplift; it becomes moral philosophy or some such dull thing.”
“It’s always good to remember where you come from and celebrate it. To remember where you come from is part of where you’re going.”

Contemporary Ukrainian Art – Alex Grear

Below (photographs) – “Breath of a warm summer evening, a girl at sunset ‘2’”; “In the dry grass”; “Anastasia”; “Woman under black veil”; “Freedom 2.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 22 November 1819 – George Eliot (pen name of Mary Ann Evans), an English novelist, journalist, translator, and author of “Middlemarch.”

Some quotes from the work of George Eliot:

“What destroys us most effectively is not a malign fate but our own capacity for self-deception and for degrading our own best self.”
“What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?”
“I like not only to be loved, but to be told that I am loved; the realm of
silence is large enough beyond the grave.”
“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.”
“There is a great deal of unmapped country within us.”
“Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.”
“It is never too late, no matter how old you get because anytime or any point in your life you can always have a chance to make a difference. You can always make a change for the better no matter what background you derived from. You can always do your best and be all that you can be because you will always be uniquely you. It is why it is always wise to listen to your eternal heart, your eternal instincts, and what it had always strove for and/or to do because really anybody can make a difference not only in their own lives but in the lives of others. It is never too late to shine; never.”


Contemporary Spanish Art – Joaquin Pardo Mendez

Below – ‘Camino de Recati”; “Dunas IV”; “Dunas junto al mar”; “Puerto de Catarroja – Baina”; “Surcos”; “Alborada.”


This Date in Entertainment History: Died 22 November 1980 – Mae West, an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, sex symbol known for her lighthearted, bawdy double entendres and breezy sexual independence, and author of “Goodness Had Nothing to do with It: Mae West, Her Autobiography.”

Some quotes from the work of Mae West:

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”
“When I’m good, I’m very good. But when I’m bad I’m better.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere.”
“Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.”
“I consider sex a misdemeanor, the more I miss, de meaner I get.”
“Men are like linoleum floors. Lay ’em right and you can walk all over them for years.”
“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”
“I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.”
“For a long time I was ashamed of the way I lived. Did I reform, you ask? No. I’m not ashamed anymore.”
“Women with pasts interest men because they hope history will repeat itself.”
“Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I’m tired.”
“Positive thoughts generate positive feelings and attract positive life experiences. You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”


Contemporary British Art – Angela Edwards

Below – “Who was it?”; “Moving home”; My Turn”; “Time to Play”; “Which Way”; “Walk Away.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 22 November 1869 – Andre Gide, a French novelist, essayist, dramatist, author of “The Counterfeiters,” and recipient of the 1947 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Andre Gide:

“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”
“Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.”
“True intelligence very readily conceives of an intelligence superior to its own; and this is why truly intelligent men are modest.”
“He who wants a rose must respect her thorn.”
“Most often people seek in life occasions for persisting in their opinions rather than for educating themselves.”
“Every instant of our lives is essentially irreplaceable: you must know this in order to concentrate on life.”
“We live counterfeit lives in order to resemble the idea we first had of ourselves.”
“The wise man is he who constantly wonders afresh.”


Contemporary Ukrainian Art – Daria Dudochnykova

Below – “Swimmer”; “Dive”; “Light show”; “Soaring”; “Dive 2”; “Free, weightless, brave. No. 1.”

Date in Literary History: Died 22 November 1916 – Jack London, an American novelist, short story writer, memoirist, essayist, playwright, poet, journalist, social and animal rights activist, and author of “The Call of the Wild.”

Some quotes from the work of Jack London:

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”
“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.”
“The most beautiful stories always start with wreckage.”
“Limited minds can recognize limitations only in others.”
“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.”
“It is so much easier to live placidly and complacently. Of course, to live placidly and complacently is not to live at all.”
“I’d rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet.”
“I ride over my beautiful ranch. Between my legs is a beautiful horse.
The air is wine. The grapes on a score of rolling hills are red with autumn flame.Across Sonoma Mountain, wisps of sea fog are stealing.The afternoon sun smolders in the drowsy sky.I have everything to make me glad I am alive.”

Contemporary American Art – Richard Hutchins

Below – “Summer Twilight”; “Figure Leaning Against Building”; “Beach”; “Abandoned Motel”; “Abandoned Place”; “Amoco.”

A Poem for Today

“Girl Riding a Horse in a Field of Sunflowers”
by David Alan Evans

Sitting perfectly upright,
contented and pensive,
she holds in one hand,
loosely, the reins of summer:

the green of trees and bushes;
the blue of lake water;
the red of her jacket
and open collar; the brown
of her pinned-up hair,
and her horse, deep
in the yellow of sunflowers.

When she stops to rest,
summer rests.
When she decides to leave,
there goes summer
over the hill.

Below – Patty Stern: “Sunflower Heaven”

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Wandering in Woodacre – 21 November 2020

This Date in Art History: Died 21 November 1907 – Paula Modersohn-Becker, a German painter.

Below – “Madchen mit Stohhut und Blume”; “Still life”; “Madchen mit Kaninchen”; “Reclining Mother and Child”; “Self-portrait with green background and blue irises”; “Self-Portrait, Nude with Amber Necklace Half-Length II.”


This Date in Literary History: Died 21 November 1945 – Ellen Glasgow, an American novelist, author of”In This Our Life,” and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Ellen Glasgow:

“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.”
“What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.”
“It is human nature to overestimate the thing you’ve never had.”
“But there is, I have learned, no permanent escape from the past. It may be an unrecognized law of our nature that we should be drawn back, inevitably, to the place where we have suffered most.”
“Life is never what one dreams. It is seldom what one desires, but for the vital spirit and the eager mind, the future will always hold the search for buried treasure and the possibility of high adventure.”
“The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.”
“The older I grow the more earnestly I feel that the few joys of childhood are the best that life has to give.”

Contemporary American Art – Robert Erod

Below – “Rainbow Love”; “dreaming of you 2020”; “Pop Art Picasso Girl”; “Earth Blue Sunset”; “Endless Highway a Surreal Painting”;
“Purple Emotions.”


Musings in Autumn: George Eliot

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

 

Below – Alex Grear: “On the Sunset” (photograph)

Contemporary Italian Art – Cecilia Frigati: Part I of II.

Below – “Straight To My Heart #3”; “Happy Calamities #2”; “Take Me To The River”; “Andra’ Tutto Bene #3”; “Night Tales #3”; “Step By Step #3.”

Musings in Autumn: e e cummings

“A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.”

Below – Danil Danilovskii: “The winds of autumn”

Contemporary Italian Art – Cecilia Frigati: Part II of II.

Below – “Beauty of Darkness #12”; “Fresh Start #2”; “Andra’ Tutto Bene #1”; “Andra’ Tutto Bene”; “Sweet Cherries”; “Paesi Lontani.”


A Poem for Today

“Developing the Land”
by Stephen Behrendt

For six nights now the cries have sounded in the pasture:
coyote voices fluting across the greening rise to the east
where the deer have almost ceased to pass
now that the developers have carved up yet another section,
filled another space with spars and studs, concrete, runoff.

Five years ago you saw two spotted fawns rise
for the first time from brome where brick mailboxes will stand;
only three years past came great horned owls
who raised two squeaking, downy owlets
that perished in the traffic, skimming too low across the road
behind some swift, more fortunate cottontail.

It was on an August afternoon that you drove in,
curling down our long gravel drive past pasture and creek,
that you saw, flickering at the edge of your sight,
three mounted Indians, motionless in the paused breeze,
who vanished when you turned your head.

We have felt the presence on this land of others,
of some who paused here, some who passed, who have left
in the thick clay shards and splinters of themselves that we dig up,
turn up with spade and tine when we garden or bury our animals;
their voices whisper on moonless nights in the back pasture hollow
where the horses snort and nicker, wary with alarm.

Below – Lee Campbell: “Forest Spirit”

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Wandering in Woodacfe – 20 November 2020

This Date in Art History: Died 20 November 1918 – John Bauer, a Swedish painter and illustrator. He is perhaps best known for his illustrations for early editions of “Among Gnomes and Trolls,” an anthology of Swedish folklore and fairy tales.

Below – “The Fairy Princess”; “Still, Tuvstarr sits and gazes down into the water”; “Freja”; “Ester in the cottage”; “Root trolls”; “One evening around midsummer, they went with Bianca Maria deep into the forest.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 20 November 1936 – Don DeLillo, an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, author of “White Noise” and “Underworld,” and recipient of the National Book Award and the American Book Award.

Some quotes from the work of Don DeLillo:

“What you see is not what we see. What you see is distracted by memory, by being who you are, all this time, for all these years.”
“In this country there is a universal third person, the man we all want to be. Advertising has discovered this man. It uses him to express the possibilities open to the consumer. To consume in America is not to buy; it is to dream. Advertising is the suggestion that the dream of entering the third person singular might possibly be fulfilled.”
“Too much has been forgotten in the name of memory.”
“Sometimes I see something so moving I know I’m not supposed to linger. See it and leave. If you stay too long, you wear out the wordless shock. Love it and trust it and leave.”
I”t was the time of year, the time of day, for a small insistent sadness to pass into the texture of things. Dusk, silence, iron chill. Something lonely in the bone.”
“The true life is not reducible to words spoken or written, not by anyone, ever. The true life takes place when we’re alone, thinking, feeling, lost in memory, dreamingly self-aware, the submicroscopic moments.”
“And what’s the point of waking up in the morning if you don’t try to match the enormousness of the known forces in the world with something powerful in your own life?”

Contemporary British Art – Coleman Senecal

Below – “Into the Storm”; “Mountain Streams”; “Clearing Skies”; “Back Home”; “Dawning of the Day”; “Windswept.”

A Poem for Today

“At the Office Holiday Party”
by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

I can now confirm that I am not just fatter
than everyone I work with, but I’m also fatter
than all their spouses. Even the heavily bearded
bear in accounting has a little otter-like boyfriend.

When my co-workers brightly introduce me
as “the funny one in the office,” their spouses
give them a look which translates to, Well, duh,
then they both wait for me to say something funny.

A gaggle of models comes shrieking into the bar
to further punctuate why I sometimes hate living
in this city. They glitter, a shiny gang of scissors.
I don’t know how to look like I’m not struggling.

Sometimes on the subway back to Queens,
I can tell who’s staying on past the Lexington stop
because I have bought their shoes before at Payless.
They are shoes that fool absolutely no one.

Everyone wore their special holiday party outfits.
It wasn’t until I arrived at the bar that I realized
my special holiday party outfit was exactly the same
as the outfits worn by the restaurant’s busboys.

While I’m standing in line for the bathroom,
another patron asks if I’m there to clean it.

Below – Marcel Garbi: “Those I expect don’t exist”

Contemporary Lithuanian Art – Gia Ram

Below – “Heroes Will Save The Day”; “Her/ BubbleGum”; “Celestial”; “Selfie In Stars”; “Selfie In South Of France”; “Babe.”


Contemporary Ukrainian Art – Iryna Dzhul

Below (photographs) – “Unbroken”; “Rose”; “City soul”; “Invisible”; “In search of happiness.”


A Poem for Today

“Blank”
by George Bilgere

When I came to my mother’s house
the day after she had died
it was already a museum of her
unfinished gestures. The mysteries
from the public library, due
in two weeks. The half-eaten square
of lasagna in the fridge.

The half-burned wreckage
of her last cigarette,
and one red swallow
of wine in a lipsticked
glass beside her chair.

Finally, a blue Bic
on a couple of downs
and acrosses left blank
in the Sunday crossword,
which actually had the audacity
to look a little smug
at having, for once, won.

Below – Sylvia Komlosi: “Crossword”

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Wandering in Woodacre – 19 November 2020

Contemporary American Art – Lola Mitchell

Below (photographs) – “Rose ocean”; “Breathless”; “Liquide”; “Ego with Gold Leaf”; “Bent”; “heavenly with gold leaf.”


A Poem for Today

“Great Blue Heron”
by T. Alan Broughton

I drive past him each day in the swamp where he stands
on one leg, hunched as if dreaming of his own form
the surface reflects. Often I nearly forget to turn left,
buy fish and wine, be home in time to cook and chill.
Today the bird stays with me, as if I am moving through
the heron’s dream to share his sky or water—places
he will rise into on slow flapping wings or where
his long bill darts to catch unwary frogs. I’ve seen
his slate blue feathers lift him as dangling legs
fold back, I’ve seen him fly through the dying sun
and out again, entering night, entering my own sleep.
I only know this bird by a name we’ve wrapped him in,
and when I stand on my porch, fish in the broiler,
wine glass sweating against my palm, glint of sailboats
tacking home on dusky water, I try to imagine him
slowly descending to his nest, wise as he was
or ever will be, filling each moment with that moment’s
act or silence, and the evening folds itself around me.

Below – Brooke Heindl Newman: “Heron”

Contemporary Australian Art – Anna-Carien Goosen: Part I of II.

Below – “Harmony in Gold”; “Dissonance”; “Chenee”; “Harmony in Electric Pink”; “What the Boy Saw”; “A Bush Walk Recorded (Banksia and Rock Orchids).”

A Poem for Today

“Hunter’s Moon”
by Molly Fisk

Early December, dusk, and the sky
slips down the rungs of its blue ladder
into indigo. A late-quarter moon hangs
in the air above the ridge like a broken plate
and shines on us all, on the new deputy
almost asleep in his four-by-four,
lulled by the crackling song of the dispatcher,
on the bartender, slowly wiping a glass
and racking it, one eye checking the game.
It shines down on the fox’s red and grey life,
as he stills, a shadow beside someone’s gate,
listening to winter. Its pale gaze caresses
the lovers, curled together under a quilt,
dreaming alone, and shines on the scattered
ashes of terrible fires, on the owl’s black flight,
on the whelks, on the murmuring kelp,
on the whale that washed up six weeks ago
at the base of the dunes, and it shines
on the backhoe that buried her.

Below – Carol Sabo: “Quarter Moon”

Contemporary Australian Art – Anna-Carien Goosen: Part II of II.

Below – “Inner Dialogue”; “Harmony in Mint”; “The Other Paradise”; “When We Come To It (Dudu with Turquoise)”; “Harmony in Green”; “A Bush Walk Recorded (Kangaroo Paws).”

A Poem for Today

“Eating Them As He Came”
by Christopher Todd Matthews

Dark by five, the day gives up and so do I,
stalled at the top of the stairs I forget what for,
adrift in a scrap of dream that’s not a dream
exactly but a stupor, unrefined. I go astray
in old routines, I dare myself to reconstruct
the rules of old invented games—that one
of throwing snowballs at the roof, to watch them
shrink as they rolled down, spinning to their pits,
to see the force that made them briefly a thing
so neatly undone. Today an old friend’s tiny boy
lobbied me to pitch some snowballs at him. I bowed
to his dense little will. But planned to miss.
As I packed and flung each one to its unpacking,
he hunted down the humble bits and crumbs
of every impact, as they ran from him along
the icy slope, and gathered and carried them
back to me at the top. Eating them as he came.
So that’s how you get to the marrow of breakdown.
I forgot. That you could put what’s left to your lips.

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Wandering in Woodacre – 18 November 2020

Contemporary Belgian Art – Pol Ledent

Below – “My garden flowers”; “Winter 4531”; “Red poppies summer 2020”; “October 2020”; “Village in the Snow”; “Nude 575111.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 18 November 1939 – Margaret Atwood, an award-winning Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Selected Poems”: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Margaret Atwood:

“I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary.”
“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
“Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It’s like the tide going out, revealing whatever’s been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future.”
“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”
“Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.”
“When you’re young, you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, crumpling time up in your hands, tossing it away. You’re your own speeding car. You think you can get rid of things, and people too—leave them behind. You don’t yet know about the habit they have, of coming back.
Time in dreams is frozen. You can never get away from where you’ve been.”


Contemporary Dutch Art – Winy Jacobs

Below – “Seawind”; “Frida”; “Intuition”; “Einstein the girl and the question”; “Spirit of the forest”; “vrouwen erotiek.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 18 November 1939 – Margaret Atwood, an award-winning Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Selected Poems”: Part II of II.

“The Moment”
by Margaret Atwood

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

Below – Agnieszka Dabrowska: “On the Cypress Hill”


Contemporary German Art – Lucie Hoffmann

Below – “The chinese algorithm landscape”; “The pale garden – the european Syndicate”; “Hyeres-Giens-Peninsula-Southfrance-mediterraneenature”; “Landed, Hunt & Gather”; “Awakening”; “The animal Roulette.”

A Poem for Today

“The Thrift Store Dresses”
by Frannie Lindsay

I slid the white louvers shut so I could stand in your closet
a little while among the throng of flowered dresses
you hadn’t worn in years, and touch the creases
on each of their sleeves that smelled of forgiveness
and even though you would still be alive a few more days
I knew they were ready to let themselves be
packed into liquor store boxes simply
because you had asked that of them,
and dropped at the door of the Salvation Army
without having noticed me
wrapping my arms around so many at once
that one slipped a big padded shoulder off of its hanger
as if to return the embrace.

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Wandering in Woodacre – 17 November 2020

This Date in Art History: Born 17 November 1951 – Jack Vettriano, a Scottish painter.

Below “The Singing Butler”; “The Letter”; “Mad Dogs”; “Days of Wine and Roses”; “In Thoughts of You”; “Sweet Bird of Youth.”


A Poem for Late Autumn

“The Death of Autumn”
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

When reeds are dead and a straw to thatch the marshes,
And feathered pampas-grass rides into the wind
Like aged warriors westward, tragic, thinned
Of half their tribe, and over the flattened rushes,
Stripped of its secret, open, stark and bleak,
Blackens afar the half-forgotten creek,—
Then leans on me the weight of the year, and crushes
My heart. I know that Beauty must ail and die,
And will be born again,—but ah, to see
Beauty stiffened, staring up at the sky!
Oh, Autumn! Autumn!—What is the Spring to me?

Below – Sarah Doroshuk: “The Autumn”

Contemporary French Art – Emilie More

Below (photographs) – “Le souffleur de froid”; “Horizon”; “L’envoi”; “Floating”; “Collage”; “Summer 2020.”


A Poem for Today

“Remaking a Neglected Orchard”
by Nathaniel Perry

It was a good idea, cutting away
the vines and ivy, trimming back
the chest-high thicket lazy years
had let grow here. Though it wasn’t for lack

of love for the trees, I’d like to point out.
Years love trees in a way we can’t
imagine. They just don’t use the fruit
like us; they want instead the slant

of sun through narrow branches, the buckshot
of rain on these old cherries. And we,
now that I think on it, want those
things too, we just always and desperately

want the sugar of the fruit, the best
we’ll get from this irascible land:
sweetness we can gather for years,
new stains staining the stains on our hands.

Below – Elena Ivanova: “Cherry Orchard”

Contemporary German Art – Tanja Vetter: Part I of II.

Below – “Luna”; “Gone Astray XI”; “Time Stands Still”; “On the other side”; “In broad daylight”; “End of Summer VI.”


A Poem for Today

“Picasso”
by Tim Nolan

How can we believe he did it—
every day—for all those years?

We remember how the musicians
gathered for him—and the prostitutes

arranged themselves the way he wanted—
and even the helmeted monkeys

with their little toy car cerebella—
posed—and the fish on the plate—

remained after he ate the fish—
Bones—What do we do with this

life?—except announce: Joy.
Joy. Joy—from the lead—

to the oil—to the stretch of bright
canvas—stretched—to the end of it all.

Below – Pablo Picasso: “The Joy of Life”

Contemporary German Art – Tanja Vetter: Part II of II.

“Gone Astray X”; “Memories”; “Refuge”; “Boundless”; “End of Time”; “Supermoon.”

A Poem for Late Autumn

“Tell me not here, it needs not saying”
by A. E. Housman

Tell me not here, it needs not saying,
What tune the enchantress plays
In aftermaths of soft September
Or under blanching mays,
For she and I were long acquainted
And I knew all her ways.

On russet floors, by waters idle,
The pine lets fall its cone;
The cuckoo shouts all day at nothing
In leafy dells alone;
And traveller’s joy beguiles in autumn
Hearts that have lost their own.

On acres of the seeded grasses
The changing burnish heaves;
Or marshalled under moons of harvest
Stand still all night the sheaves;
Or beeches strip in storms for winter
And stain the wind with leaves.

Possess, as I possessed a season,
The countries I resign,
Where over elmy plains the highway
Would mount the hills and shine,
And full of shade the pillared forest
Would murmur and be mine.

For nature, heartless, witless nature,
Will neither care nor know
What stranger’s feet may find the meadow
And trespass there and go,
Nor ask amid the dews of morning
If they are mine or no.

Below – Zhanna Konfratenko: “Passing by”

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Wandering in Woodacre – 16 November 2020

Contemporary French Art – JALO

Below (photographs) – “woman at museum”; “woman with bird.”

Contemporary French Art – Vincent Dugast

Below – “Woman in the storm (seaside at night)”; “seaside storm (Marine Nocturne)”; “Large Primary Forest (Summer).”

This Date in Literary History: Born 16 November 1954 – Andrea Barrett, an American novelist, short story writer, author of “Ship Fever” and “Servants of the Map,” and recipient of the National Book Award.

Some quotes from the work of Andrea Barrett:

“I’m not adopted. But that longing and that sense of absence … are perhaps other ways of expressing the actualities of my family. Different facts, same emotions.”
“The life she’d led, each of the places she’d called home sending unexpected shoots toward the next, had made her open to almost anything.”
“We all feel unhoused in some sense. That’s part of why we write.”
“In that light, across the field, is all I will never have. Next to me is all I will.”
“Not long after he and Margaret were married, he’d complimented her on a pot of yellow blossoms near the front door. She’d laughed, and blushed, and then confessed that weeks earlier, watching him walk around the vegetable garden, she’d slipped out, dug up a brick-sized clump of earth which held the clear impression of his right foot, and tucked it into the flower pot. In that earth she’d planted a chrysanthemum, hoping that as it bloomed year after year so would his love for her. How should he marry again, after that?”


Contemporary French Art – Emilie Mori

Below (photographs) – “Unity”; “Freedom No 1”; “Immersion”; “Cold”; “Waiting for you”; “Red Stole #11.”


This Date in Intellectual/Spiritual History: Died 16 November 1973 – Alan Watts, a British writer known for interpreting and popularizing Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism for a Western Audience.

Some quotes from the work of Alan Watts:

“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
“We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.”
“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.”
“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”
“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”
“We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean ‘waves,’ the universe ‘peoples.’ Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.”


Contemporary Dutch Art – Victor van de Lande

Below – “Along the riverside”; “land van Jaap”; Untitled; “Dishoek”; “Home”; “pollard willow.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 16 November 1967 – Craig Arnold, an award-winning American poet.

“Meditation on a Grapefruit”
by Craig Arnold

To wake when all is possible
before the agitations of the day
have gripped you
To come to the kitchen
and peel a little basketball
for breakfast
To tear the husk
like cotton padding a cloud of oil
misting out of its pinprick pores
clean and sharp as pepper
To ease
each pale pink section out of its case
so carefully without breaking
a single pearly cell
To slide each piece
into a cold blue china bowl
the juice pooling until the whole
fruit is divided from its skin
and only then to eat
so sweet
a discipline
precisely pointless a devout
involvement of the hands and senses
a pause a little emptiness

each year harder to live within
each year harder to live without

Below – Debbie Mueller: “Pamplemousse”

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Wandering in Woodacre – 15 November 2020

This Date in Art History: Died 15 November 1951 – Frank Weston Benson, an American painter.

Below – “Summer”; “Eleanor”; “Herons and Lilies”; “Chickadees in Winter”; “The Watcher”; “My Daughter Elizabeth.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 15 November 1887 – Marianne Moore, an American poet, critic, translator, and recipient of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Marianne Moore:

“The heart that gives, gathers.”
“The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence.”
“Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.”
“Life is energy, and energy is creativity. And even when individuals pass on, the energy is retained in the work of art, locked in it and awaiting release if only someone will take the time and the care to unlock it.”
“Excess is the common substitute for energy.”
“Your thorns are the best part of you.”

This Date in Art History: Born 15 November 1867 – Georgia O’Keeffe, an American painter.

Below – “Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico”; “Lake George Reflection”; “Jimson Weed, White Flower No. 1”; “Ram’s Head White Hollyhocks and Little Hills”; “Hollyhock Pink with Pedernal”; “Black Hollyhock Blue Larkspur.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 15 November 1887 – Marianne Moore, an American poet, critic, translator, and recipient of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize: Part II of II.

“To a Chameleon”
by Marianne Moore

Hid by the august foliage and fruit of the grape-vine
twine
your anatomy
round the pruned and polished stem,
Chameleon.
Fire laid upon
an emerald as long as
the Dark King’s massy
one,
could not snap the spectrum up for food as you have done.

Below – Laura Lumeau: “Chameleon Rainbow” (sculpture)


Contemporary American Art – Katelyn Alain

Below – “Looking out at the night as the night itself”; “Self With A Gut Feeling”; “The Ship Was False And Held But One”; “Ambivalence”; “Awakening In The Depths”; “Ready for Change.”

Born 15 November 1930 – J. G. Ballard, an award-winning English novelist, short story writer, essayist, and author of “The Drowned World” and “Empire of the Sun.”

Some quotes from the work of J. G. Ballard:

“We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind – mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the instant translation of science and technology into popular imagery, the increasing blurring and intermingling of identities within the realm of consumer goods, the preempting of any free or original imaginative response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel.”
“I think the enemy of creativity in the world today is that so much thinking is done for you.”
“Unhappy parents teach you a lesson that lasts a lifetime.”
“The advanced societies of the future will not be governed by reason. They will be driven by irrationality, by competing systems of psychopathology.”
“Sooner or later, everything turns into television.”
“Along with our passivity, we’re entering a profoundly masochistic phase everyone is a victim these days, of parents, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, even love itself. And how much we enjoy it. Our happiest moments are spent trying to think up new varieties of victimhood.”
“It was an excess of fantasy that killed the old United States, the whole Mickey Mouse and Marilyn thing, the most brilliant technologies devoted to trivia like instant cameras and space spectaculars that should have stayed in the pages of Science Fiction . . . some of the last Presidents of the U.S.A. seemed to have been recruited straight from Disneyland.”
“I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.”
“Memories have huge staying power, but like dreams, they thrive in the dark, surviving for decades in the deep waters of our minds like shipwrecks on the sea bed.”


Contemporary Indian Art – Ranga J

Below – “Deep in the woods at night”; “Willow creek”; “An Accidental Bloom”; “Moon Fly”; “Tears of mermaid”; “Girl with her Red dress.”


A Poem for Today

“How You Know”
by Joe Mills

‘How do you know if it’s love?’ she asks,
and I think if you have to ask, it’s not,
but I know this won’t help. I want to say
you’re too young to worry about it,
as if she has questions about Medicare
or social security, but this won’t help either.
“You’ll just know” is a lie, and one truth,
“when you still want to be with them
the next morning,” would involve too
many follow-up questions. The difficulty
with love, I want to say, is sometimes
you only know afterwards that it’s arrived
or left. Love is the elephant and we
are the blind mice unable to understand
the whole. I want to say love is this
desire to help even when I know I can’t,
just as I couldn’t explain electricity, stars,
the color of the sky, baldness, tornadoes,
fingernails, coconuts, or the other things
she has asked about over the years, all
those phenomena whose daily existence
seems miraculous. Instead I shake my head.
‘I don’t even know how to match my socks.
Go ask your mother.’ She laughs and says,
‘I did. Mom told me to come and ask you.’

Below – Tanya Firn: “At the Lake”


Contemporary German Art – Regine Kuschke

Below – “At Night”; “Here. At this location”; “Idyll with dog”; “The View”; “Night Chants”; “Sea Queen”; “Swimming.”

A Poem for Today

“Brief Eden”
by Lois Beebe

For part of one strange year we lived
in a small house at the edge of a wood.
No neighbors, which suited us. Nobody
to ask questions. Except
for the one big question we went on
asking ourselves.
That spring
myriads of birds stopped over
briefly. Birds we’d never seen before, drawn
to our leafy quiet and our brook and because,
as we later learned, the place lay beneath
a flyway. Flocks appeared overnight—birds
brilliant or dull, with sharp beaks
or crossed bills, birds small
and enormous, all of them pausing
to gorge at the feeder, to rest their wings,
and disappear. Each flock seemed surer than we
of a destination. By the time we’d watched them
wing north in spring, then make
an anxious autumn return,
we too had pulled it together and we too moved
into what seemed to be our lives.

Below – Daria Shestopalova: “A small house in the woods”

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