Sentient in San Francisco – 29 April 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 29 April 1979 – Hardie Gramatky, an American painter: Part I of II.

Andrew Wyeth considered Gramatky one of America’s twenty greatest watercolorists.

Below – “Greens Farms Station (Westport)”; “Golden Glow (Westport)”; “Industrial Scene”; “Houses at Old Mill Beach (Westport)”; “Turkey Hill Sleigh Ride”; “Old Pavilion, Nyack.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 29 April 1863 – Constantine P. Cavafy, a Greek poet.

“Waiting for the Barbarians”
by Constantine P. Cavafy
translated by Edmund Keeley

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What’s the point of senators making laws now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,
in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor’s waiting to receive their leader.
He’s even got a scroll to give him,
loaded with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators turn up as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
And some of our men just in from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.

Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution.

This Date in Art History: Died 29 April 1979 – Hardie Gramatky, an American painter: Part II of II.

Andrew Wyeth considered Gramatky one of America’s twenty greatest watercolorists.

Below – “Moon Magic”; “Clothesline”; “Warm Welcome”; “Holiday (Westport)”; “Bobe’s Lobsters”; “Grace Mansion, New York.”

A Poem for Today

“Mockingbird II”
by Carol V. Davis

How perfectly he has mastered
the car alarm, jangling us from sleep.
Later his staccato scatters smaller birds
that landed on the wire beside him.
Perhaps the key to success
is imitation, not originality.
Once, when the cat slinked up
the orange tree and snatched a hatchling,
the mockingbird turned on us,
marked us for revenge.
For two whole weeks he dive bombed
whenever I ventured out the screen door
lured by his call: first tricked into thinking
the soft coo was a mourning dove courting,
next drawn by the war cry of a far larger animal.
He swooped from one splintered eave, his mate from the other,
aiming to peck out my eyes, to wrestle
the baby from my arms, to do God knows what
with that newborn.

Contemporary American Art – Faustine Badrichini

Below – “Maroon Woman”; “Blue Reclining Woman”; “Sunbathing”; “Reclining Women on a Sofa”; “Black Nude Seated Woman.”

This Date in Cinema History: Died 29 April 1980 – Alfred Hitchcock, an English film director and producer.

Contemporary German Art – Ute Laum

Below – “Charlotte’s pond”; “What a difference a day makes”; “Northern sky IX”; “Yukon”; “The birds and the bees V”; “What a day.”

A Poem for Today

“Breakfast for Supper”
by Christine Stewart-Nunez

At IHOP, after the skinny brunette
with a band-aid covering her hickey
comes to whisk away burnt toast,
Mom mentions Theresa, face
brightening. She had a dream
about her—80s flip hair, smooth
complexion. I’ve been living
in Tulsa for eighteen years,
Theresa said. I understand.
Even as I watched men lower
her casket, I fantasized the witness
protection program had resettled her.

How funny we look, mother
and daughter laughing over
scrambled eggs, tears dripping
onto bacon, hands hugging
coffee mugs. For a moment Mom felt
Theresa there. Such faith. Freshen
your cup? the waitress asks me, poised
to pour. Cloudy in the cold coffee,
my reflection. I offer the mug.

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