From the Pacific Northwest – Part LVII

Musings in Winter: Sana Krasikov

“The only way to learn who you are is to leave home.”

Art for Winter – Part I of III: Frederick J. Waugh (American, 1861-1940)

Below – “Foam and Cloud”; “The Cove.”

A Poem for Today

By Rachel Hadas

When my son was a few weeks old,
replicas of his yawning face appeared
suddenly on drowsy passersby:

middle-aged man’s gape that split his beard,
old woman on a bus, a little girl—
all told a story that I recognized.

Now he is fifteen.
As my students shuffle in the door
of the classroom, any of the boys

could easily be him—
foot-dragging, also swaggering a little,
braving the perils of a public space

by moving in a wary little troop.
But the same sleepy eyes, the same soft face.
We recognize the people whom we love,

or love what we respond to as our own,
trusting that one day someone
will look at us with recognition.

Musings in Winter: Elizabeth Letts

“An old adage says that a good rider can hear his horse speak and a great rider can hear his horse whisper.”

Below – Charles Marion Russell: “Indian Rider”

Art for Winter – Part II of III: Paul Weber (American, 1823-1916)

Below – “Pastoral Landscape in Summer”

A Second Poem for Today

“What I Mean When I Say Truck Driver”
By Geffrey Davis

During the last 50 miles back from haul & some
months past my 15th birthday, my father fishes
a stuffed polar bear from a Salvation Army
gift-bin, labeled Boys: ‘6-10’. I can almost see him
approach the decision: cold, a little hungry, not enough

money in his pocket for coffee. He worries
he might fall asleep behind the wheel as his giant,
clumsy love for that small word—‘son’—guides
his gaze to the crudely-sewn fabric of the miniature bear
down at the bottom of the barrel. Seasons have flared

& gone out with little change in his fear of stopping
for too long in any city, where he knows the addict
in him waits, patient as a desert bloom. Meanwhile, me:
his eldest child, the uneasy guardian of the house.
In his absence, I’ve not yet lost my virginity,

but I’ve had fist-fights with grown men & seen
my mother dragging her religious beliefs to the bitter
border of divorce. For years my father’s had trouble
saying no to crack-cocaine & women flowered in cheap
summer dresses. Watch his face as he arrives at last

& stretches the toy out, my mother fixed
on the porch behind me, the word ‘son’ suddenly heavy
in my father’s mouth, his gray coat gathered
around his shoulders: he’s never looked so small.
We could crush him—we hug him instead.

Art for Winter – Part III of III: Julian A. Weir (American, 1852-1919)

Below – “The Farm at Branchville”

Musings in Winter: Jeffrey Fry

“In the history of man, there has [sic] been and always will be more horses’ asses than horses.”

Canadian Art – Christopher Pew

In the words of one writer, “Christopher Pew grew up in Lowbanks Ontario, Canada. A small community nestled along Lake Erie’s shoreline. It was during the early stages of his life that he began an interest in art and drawing. He would spend many hours a day making drawings or painting pictures for friends – something he kept up until his early 20’s.”

A Third Poem for Today

“His Speed and Strength”
By Alicia Ostriker

His speed and strength, which is the strength of ten
years, races me home from the pool.
First I am ahead, Niké, on my bicycle,
no hands, and the Times crossword tucked in my rack,
then he is ahead, the Green Hornet,
buzzing up Witherspoon,
flashing around the corner to Nassau Street.

At noon sharp he demonstrated his neat
one-and-a-half flips off the board:
Oh, brave. Did you see me, he wanted to know.
And I doing my backstroke laps was Juno
Oceanus, then for a while I watched some black
and white boys wrestling and joking, teammates, wet
plums and peaches touching each other as if

it is not necessary to make hate,
as if Whitman was right and there is no death.
A big wind at our backs, it is lovely, the maple boughs
ride up and down like ships. Do you mind
if I take off, he says. I’ll catch you later,
see you, I shout and wave, as he peels
away, pedaling hard, rocket and pilot.

Musings in Winter: Bryan Lee O’Malley

“Every time you look up at the stars, it’s like opening a door. You could be anyone, anywhere. You could be yourself at any moment in your life. You open that door and you realize you’re the same person under the same stars. Camping out in the backyard with your best friend, eleven years old. Sixteen, driving alone, stopping at the edge of the city, looking up at the same stars. Walking a wooded path, kissing in the moonlight, look up and you’re eleven again. Chasing cats in a tiny town, you’re eleven again, you’re sixteen again. You’re in a rowboat. You’re staring out the back of a car. Out here where the world begins and ends, it’s like nothing ever stops happening.”

American Art – Part I of III: Susan Homer

Painter Susan Homer has studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Musings in Winter: Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

“My hope is that we can navigate through this world and our lives with the grace and integrity of those who need our protection. May we have the sense of humor and liveliness of the goats; may we have the maternal instincts and protective nature of the hens and the sassiness of the roosters. May we have the gentleness and strength of the cattle, and the wisdom, humility, and serenity of the donkeys. May we appreciate the need for community as do the sheep and choose our companion as carefully as do the rabbits. May we have the faithfulness and commitment to family as the geese, and adaptability and affability of the ducks. May we have the intelligence, loyalty, and affection of the pigs and the inquisitiveness, sensitivity, and playfulness of the turkeys.
My hope is that we learn from the animals what it is we need to become better people.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“Like Him”
By Aaron Smith

I’m almost forty and just understanding my father
doesn’t like me. At thirteen I quit basketball, the next year
refused to hunt, I knew he was disappointed, but never
thought he didn’t have to like me
to love me. No girls. Never learned
to drive a stick. Chose the kitchen and mom
while he went to the woods with friends who had sons
like he wanted. He tried fishing—a rod and reel
under the tree one Christmas. Years I tried  
talking deeper, acting tougher
when we were together. Last summer
I went with him to buy a tractor.
‘In case he needs help,’ Mom said. He didn’t look at me
as he and the sales guy tied the wheels to the trailer, perfect
boy-scout knots. Why do I sometimes wish I could be a man
who cares about cars and football, who carries a pocketknife
and needs it? It was January when he screamed: ‘I’m not
a student, don’t talk down to me! ‘I yelled: ‘You’re not smart enough
to be one!’ I learned to fight like his father, like him, like men:
the meanest guy wins, don’t ever apologize.

Musings in Winter: C.J. Milbrandt

“Face it, friends. For this journey, roads are optional.”

American Art – Part II of III: Jon Swihart

Painter John Swihart has earned both a B.A. and an M.A. from California State University, Northridge.

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“The jagged mountains were pure blue in the dawn and everywhere birds twittered and the sun when it rose caught the moon in the west so that they lay opposed to each other across the earth, the sun whitehot and the moon a pale replica, as if they were the ends of a common bore beyond whose terminals burned worlds past all reckoning.”

A Fifth Poem for Today

By Basho

Wintery day,
On my horse
A frozen shadow.

Below – Edward S. Curtis: “A scout on a horse”

Musings in Winter: Rebecca Solnit

“The stars we are given. The constellations we make. That is to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the sky, the stories we tell.”

American Art – Part I of III: Richard Britell

In the words of one writer, “Richard Britell, a career painter, studied at Pratt Institute with Philip Pearlstein and Walter Erlebacher. His first show in NYC at Staempfli Gallery was sold out, and reviewed in the New York Times. Britell’s new works revolve around large, dreamy cityscapes tending toward abstraction. The artist currently lives in Pittsfield, MA.”

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