Sentient in San Francisco – 25 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 25 May 1926 – William Bowyer, an English painter.

Below – “a summer’s day”; “The Beach”; “A Suffolk Hedgerow”; “By a Window”; “Chiswick Winter”; “Over the Dunes.”

A Poem for Today

“Potato Soup”
by Daniel Nyikos

I set up my computer and webcam in the kitchen
so I can ask my mother’s and aunt’s advice
as I cook soup for the first time alone.
My mother is in Utah. My aunt is in Hungary.
I show the onions to my mother with the webcam.
“Cut them smaller,” she advises.
“You only need a taste.”
I chop potatoes as the onions fry in my pan.
When I say I have no paprika to add to the broth,
they argue whether it can be called potato soup.
My mother says it will be white potato soup,
my aunt says potato soup must be red.
When I add sliced peppers, I ask many times
if I should put the water in now,
but they both say to wait until I add the potatoes.
I add Polish sausage because I can’t find Hungarian,
and I cook it so long the potatoes fall apart.
“You’ve made stew,” my mother says
when I hold up the whole pot to the camera.
They laugh and say I must get married soon.
I turn off the computer and eat alone.

This Date in Art History: Died 25 May 1943 – Nils von Dardel, a Swedish painter.

Below – “Portrait of Nita Wallenberg”; “Japanese Woman”; “Waterfall”; “Girl in a Blue Dress”; “Författarinnan Ulla Bjerne omgiven av blomster på terass med svenska flaggan i bakgrunden”;
“Arabiskan.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1938 – Raymond Carver, an American short story writer, poet, and five-time recipient of the O. Henry Award: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Raymond Carver:

“There isn’t enough of anything as long as we live. But at intervals a sweetness appears and, given a chance prevails.”
“Life and death matters, yes. And the question of how to behave in this world, how to go in the face of everything. Time is short and the water is rising.”
“It’s possible, in a poem or short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things—a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman’s earring—with immense, even startling power.”
“It ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we’re talking about when we talk about love.”
“The places where water comes together with other water. Those places stand out in my mind like holy places.”
“I dressed and went for a walk – determined not to return until I took in what Nature had to offer.”

Contemporary British Art – Marcelina Amelia

Below –  “Sheroe VI.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1938 – Raymond Carver, an American short story writer, poet, and five-time recipient of the O. Henry Award: Part II of II.

“For Tess”
by Raymond Carver

Out on the Strait the water is whitecapping
as they say here.  It’s rough, and I’m glad
I’m not out there.  Glad I fished all day
on Morse Creek, casting a red Daredevil back
and forth.  I didn’t catch anything.  No bites
even, not one.  But it was okay.  It was fine!
I carried your dad’s pocketknife and was followed
for a while by a dog its owner called “Dixie.”
At times I felt so happy I had to quit
fishing.  Once I lay on the bank with my eyes closed,
listening to the sound the water made,
and to the wind in the tops of the trees.  The same wind
that blows out on the Strait, but a different wind, too.
For a while I even let myself imagine I had died –
and that was all right, at least for a couple
of minutes, until it really sank in: Dead.
As I was lying there with my eyes closed,
just after I’d imagined what it might be like
if in fact I never got up again, I thought of you.
I opened my eyes then and got right up
and went back to being happy again.
I’m grateful to you, you see.  I wanted to tell you.

Below – Raymond Carver with Tess Gallagher, his second wife.


Contemporary American Art – Sang H Han

Below – “Embrace of Winter”; “The Shadow Bridge”; “Spring Breaks Free”; “Winter’s End”; “Isolation and Reflection.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1908 – Theodore Roethke, an American poet, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, and two-time recipient of the National Book Award.

“The Geranium”
by Theodore Rotehke

When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail,
She looked so limp and bedraggled,
So foolish and trusting, like a sick poodle,
Or a wizened aster in late September,
I brought her back in again
For a new routine–
Vitamins, water, and whatever
Sustenance seemed sensible
At the time: she’d lived
So long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead beer,
Her shriveled petals falling
On the faded carpet, the stale
Steak grease stuck to her fuzzy leaves.
(Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.)

The things she endured!–
The dumb dames shrieking half the night
Or the two of us, alone, both seedy,
Me breathing booze at her,
She leaning out of her pot toward the window.

Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me–
And that was scary–
So when that snuffling cretin of a maid
Threw her, pot and all, into the trash-can,
I said nothing.

But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week,
I was that lonely.

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