Sentient in San Francisco – 12 June 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 12 June 1890 – Egon Schiele, an Austrian painter.

Below – “Edith Schiele”; “Living room in Neulengbach”; “Four Trees”; “House with Shingles”; “Self-Portrait with Physalis.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 12 June 1892 – Djuna Barnes, an American novelist, journalist, playwright, and author of “Nightwood.”

Some quotes from the work of Djuna Barnes: 

“Destiny and history are untidy.”

“I talk too much because I have been made so miserable by what you are keeping hushed.”

“A man is whole only when he takes into account his shadow as well as himself – and what is a man’s shadow but his upright astonishment?”

“‘I have been loved,’ she said, ‘by something strange, and it has forgotten me.’”

“There is always more surface to a shattered object than a whole.”

Contemporary American Art – Elizabeth Becker: Part I of II.

Below – “Starling”; “Deeper”; “Cherry Blossom No. 5”; “Hellebore No. 7”; “Branch Study No. 13.”

This Date in American History: Born 12 June 1806 – John Augustus Roebling, a German-born American civil engineer who designed and built suspension bridges, in particular the Brooklyn Bridge.

“To Brooklyn Bridge”

by Hart Crane

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest

The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,

Shedding white rings of tumult, building high

Over the chained bay waters Liberty—


Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes   

As apparitional as sails that cross

Some page of figures to be filed away;

—Till elevators drop us from our day …


I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights

With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene

Never disclosed, but hastened to again,

Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;


And Thee, across the harbor, silver paced

As though the sun took step of thee yet left

Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,—

Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!


Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft

A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,

Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,

A jest falls from the speechless caravan.


Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,

A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;

All afternoon the cloud flown derricks turn …

Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.


And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,

Thy guerdon … Accolade thou dost bestow

Of anonymity time cannot raise:

Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.


O harp and altar, of the fury fused,

(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)

Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,

Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,


Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift

Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,

Beading thy path—condense eternity:

And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.


Under thy shadow by the piers I waited

Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.

The City’s fiery parcels all undone,

Already snow submerges an iron year …


O Sleepless as the river under thee,

Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,         

Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend

And of the curveship lend a myth to God.


Below – John Augustus Roebling; Hart Crane with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background; the Brooklyn Bridge at night.

Contemporary American Art – Elizabeth Becker: Part II of II.

Below – “Iris No. 70”; “Touch No. 5”; “Iris No. 66”; “Aura.”

Musings in Spring: Edward Abbey

“I choose to listen to the river for a while, thinking river thoughts, before joining the night and the stars.”

Contemporary German Art – Uwe Wenzel

Below – “Mono lake”; “four at the edge of woods”; “treasure seekers”; “ramp”; “wondercup 4.”

A Poem for Today

“For My Wife Cutting My Hair”

by Bruce Guernsey

You move around me expertly like the good, round 

Italian barber I went to in Florence, 

years before we met, his scissors 

a razor he sharpened on a belt.


But at first when you were learning, I feared 

for my neck, saw my ears like sliced fruit 

on the newspapered floor. Taking us back in time, 

you cleverly clipped my head in a flat-top.


The years in between were styles no one had ever seen, 

or should see again: when the wind rose 

half my hair floated off in feathers, 

the other half bristling, brief as a brush.


In the chair, almost asleep, I hear the bright 

scissors dancing. Hear you hum, full-breasted as Aida, 

carefully trimming the white from my temples, 

so no one, not even I, will know.

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