A Poem for Today
“Many Asked Me Not to Forget Them”
By Naomi Shihab Nye
Where do you keep all these people?
The shoemaker with his rumpled cough.
The man who twisted straws into brooms.
My teacher, oh my teacher. I will always cry
when I think of my teacher.
The olive farmer who lost every inch of ground,
who sat with head in his hands
in his son’s living room for years after.
I tucked them into my drawer with cuff links and bow ties.
Touched them each evening before I slept.
Wished them happiness and peace.
Peace in the heart. No wonder we all got heart trouble.
But justice never smiled on us. Why didn’t it?
I tried to get Americans to think of them.
But they were too involved with their own affairs
to imagine ours. And you can’t blame them, really.
How much do I think of Africa? I always did feel sad
in the back of my mind for places I didn’t
have enough energy to worry about.
Below – Vincent van Gogh: “Sorrowing Old Man”
A Second Poem for Today
By Sandra M. Gilbert
Darling, I’m pushing the house
into the garden, into the black arms,
the green embrace
of the oaks. Yesterday,
two giants lugged the grand piano,
its synapses still crackling with your tunes,
up the steep steps, the narrow path
to the gate. Now it muses
in the ‘what is this’ of a warehouse,
and the silence
where it used to stand
has forgotten your forte.
Out in back of the back,
workers dig in unsteady rock,
but now the house is moving
faster than they can hew and hack:
the house has started to unpack:
its walls possess new places,
doors flap open,
windows heave from hinges—
and now the sofas fly
into a maze of ivy,
the hallways gaping
under a hollow of sky!
Only the piano keys,
hidden under their ebony hood,
remember your touch,
and wait, and are still,
A Third Poem for Today
“A Violin at Dusk”
By Lizette Woodworth Reese
Stumble to silence, all you uneasy things,
That pack the day with bluster and with fret.
For here is music at each window set;
Here is a cup which drips with all the springs
That ever bud a cowslip flower; a roof
To shelter till the argent weathers break;
A candle with enough of light to make
My courage bright against each dark reproof.
A hand’s width of clear gold, unraveled out
The rosy sky, the little moon appears;
As they were splashed upon the paling red,
Vast, blurred, the village poplars lift about.
I think of young, lost things: of lilacs; tears;
I think of an old neighbor, long since dead.
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Earth Day on the Bay”
By Gary Soto
Curled like a genie’s lamp,
A track shoe from the 1970s among seaweed,
The race long over, the blue ribbons faded,
The trophies deep in pink insulation in the rafters.
Perhaps the former distant runner sits in his recliner.
The other shoe? Along this shore,
It could have ridden the waves back to Mother Korea,
Where it was molded from plastic,
Fitted with cloth, shoelaces poked through the eyelets,
Squeezed for inspection.
I remember that style of shoe.
Never owned a pair myself.
With my skinny legs I could go side-to-side like a crab,
But never run the distance with a number on my back,
Never the winner or runner up heaving at the end.
I bag that shoe, now litter, and nearly slip on the rocks.
Gulls scream above, a single kite goes crazy,
A cargo ship in the distance carrying more
Of the same.
Musings in Winter: Dylan Evans
“The neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux has shown that the same neural mechanisms mediate the fear response in all sorts of animals, from pigeons and rats to cats and humans. The idea that other animals experience similar emotions to us is not anthropomorphism: it is based on sound scientific evidence.”
Musings in Winter: Lewis Thomas
“Viewed from the distance of the moon, the astonishing thing about the earth, catching the breath, is that it is alive. The photographs show the dry, pounded surface of the moon in the foreground, dry as an old bone. Aloft, floating free beneath the moist, gleaming, membrane of bright blue sky, is the rising earth, the only exuberant thing in this part of the cosmos.”
Musings in Winter: George R.R. Martin
“She liked the sharp salty smell of the air, and the vastness of horizons bounded only by a vault of azure sky above.”
Musings in Winter: Alain de Botton
“We depend on our surroundings obliquely to embody the moods and ideas we respect and then to remind us of them. We look to our buildings to hold us, like a kind of psychological mould, to a helpful vision of ourselves. We arrange around us material forms which communicate to us what we need — but are at constant risk of forgetting what we need — within. We turn to wallpaper, benches, paintings and streets to staunch the disappearance of our true selves.”
Musings in Winter: Roger A. Caras
“For me a house or an apartment becomes a home when you add one set of four legs, a happy tail, and that indescribable measure of love that we call a dog.”
Musings in Winter: John Geddes
“The fragrance of pine resin is frankincense poured out—a balm of stars and snow and moonlit nights.”
Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy
“You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.”
Musings in Winter: Kellie Elmore
“what happens when you return
and find nothing
but a hollowed shell,
shingles and floor,
walls and echoes
and the light that led you here
has now burned out
and the ones who built it
have traveled afar
and you can’t go to them,
no matter what shoes you wear.”
Art for Winter – Part I of III: William M. Paxton (American, 1869-1941)
Below – “The Blue Jar”
Art for Winter – Part II of III: Elizabeth Okie Paxton (American, 1877-1971)
Below – “Kitchen Still Life – China, Pewter and Lemons”
Art for Winter – Part III of III: Margaret S. Peirce (American, 19th/20th Century)
Below – “Seamstress”
American Art – Part I of III: John Michael Carter
In the words of one writer, “John Michael Carter was born in Chicago. He showed an interest in drawing at an early age and began his studies at 15 with his father E. L. Carter, a commercial artist and illustrator. After graduation from high school he attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago.
In 1970 Carter continued his studies at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. There he studied the major classical schools of drawing and painting with Reynolds Brown, Harry Carmean , and Lorser Feitelson . He received his B.F.A. in 1972. Carter has had many shows in galleries all over the country. His wide range of subject matter covers landscapes, still life, figurative painting, and portraiture. His portraits include senators, governors, university presidents as well as corporate and civic leaders.”
Below – “Woman at a Piano”; “Tea at the Window”; “Lilies and Plums”; “Middletown Road”; “Romanian Girl”; “Chalice.”
American Art – Part II of III: John Cook
In the words of one writer, “Action and energy permeate the canvases of John Cook. There is a spontaneous nature to his paintings that conveys his need to quickly achieve the essence of light as it dances, pierces, careens and bounces to find its way throughout the subject. By drawing with brush rather than pencil, Cook achieves the loose and free style that characterizes his work. Never belabored, each painting reflects his passion to catch a mood with the interplay of light and shade.”
Below – “Barnyard”; “Red Vines”; “Day Break”; “The Gate”; “Pewter and Silver”; “Carnival Car.”
American Art – Part III of III: Thomas de Decker
In the words of one writer, “Before attending college, de Decker was primarily interested in archaeology and anthropology, but was inspired by a student art show at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, where he was enrolled. After college, he traveled throughout the West and then settled in Washington State because of his interest in the Plains tribes.”
Below – “A Life of Memories”; “Colorado Range”; “Evening Conversation”; “The Rio Grande River”; “Winter Camp – Sioux”; “Pond Reflections.”
British Art – Part I of II: Stephanie Rew
Artist Statement: ”The human form is probably the strongest and most potent symbol we have. Why not use it to convey something beautiful.’’
British Art – Part II of II: Rachel Deacon
In the words of one writer, “Since graduating from Chelsea School of Art in 1991, Rachel has exhibited extensively in London, the UK and internationally. Her distinct style of work has grown enormously in popularity and she has been published by the Art Group and CCA Galleries who both distribute her work world wide.
Rachel begins her work with a carefully selected narrative, a short story, poem or extract from which she gains inspiration. Her work is not illustrative of that text, but draws on the sentiment or ideas. She explores dimensions, pattern and composition through drawings before creating the final image.
Focusing mainly on the female figure, shapes and contours of the body are used to create a strong physical and spacial arrangement, and layers of rich colours bring about shadow and an ambience of light.Her ‘women’ are self assured and provocative and often convey an inner strength suggested within the text. Naturally, through her inspiration, her paintings have a sense of narrative within them and are thoughtful or seductive.”