Sentient in San Francisco – 1 February 2020

Greeting February

Below – “February,” from the “Tres riches hears du Duc de Berry,” a French Gothic manuscript illumination created between circa 1412 and 1416.

Art for February – Nikolai Anokhin: “February Stillness”

A Poem for February

“February Twilight”
by Sara Teasdale

I stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.

There was no other creature
That saw what I could see–
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.

Art for February – Olga Voroblova: “February”

This Date in Art History: Died 1 February 1924 – Maurice Prendergast, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Sunny Day at the Beach”; “Lady on the Boulevard/The Green Cape”; “Franklin Park Boston”; “Telegraph Hill”; “Madison Square”; “Autumn in New England.”

Art for February – Richard Szkutnik: “February 4.2017”

This Date in Art History: Died 1 February 1924 – Maurice Prendergast, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Surf, Cohasset”; “May Day Central Park”; “After the Storm”; “Salem Willows”; “Opal Sea”; “Blue Mountains.”

Art for February – Darren Thompson: “Noon in February”

Musings in February: Shirley Jackson

“February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of summer.”

Below – Igor Nekraha: “February day”

Art for February – Petr Parkhimovitch: “February sparkles”

This Date in Literary History: Born 1 February 1927 – Galway Kinnell, an American poet and recipient of the National Book Award (shared with Charles Wright) and the Pulitzer Prize.

by Galway Kinnell

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

Art for February – Anne Baudequin: “February 9, the Massif du Mezenc”

This Date in Art History: Died 1 February 1944 – Piet Mondrian, a Dutch painter.

Below – “Willow Grove: Impression of Light and Shadow”; “Evening; Red Tree”; “View from the Dunes with Beach and Piers”; “Tableau I”; “Composition No. 10”; “Victory Boogie Woogie.”

Art for February – Richard Szkutnik: “Denver. February 7.2017”

A Poem for February

“Late February”
by Ted Kooser

The first warm day,
and by mid-afternoon
the snow is no more
than a washing
strewn over the yards,
the bedding rolled in knots
and leaking water,
the white shirts lying
under the evergreens.
Through the heaviest drifts
rise autumn’s fallen
bicycles, small carnivals
of paint and chrome,
the Octopus
and Tilt-A-Whirl
beginning to turn
in the sun. Now children,
stiffened by winter
and dressed, somehow,
like old men, mutter
and bend to the work
of building dams.
But such a spring is brief;
by five o’clock
the chill of sundown,
darkness, the blue TVs
flashing like storms
in the picture windows,
the yards gone gray,
the wet dogs barking
at nothing. Far off
across the cornfields
staked for streets and sewers,
the body of a farmer
missing since fall
will show up
in his garden tomorrow,
as unexpected
as a tulip.

Art for February – Natasha Reiter: “February”

Musings in February: Patricia Strong

“In February there is everything to hope for and nothing to regret.”

Art for February – Anne Baudequin: “February 25, country lane, morning light”

A Poem for February

“The Art of Thinking (February 26, 2016)”
by Moira Cameron

The Art of Thinking, is it truly lost?
Well, all around the world we seem to beat
All common sense to dust, doomed to repeat
The same mistakes and pay the same old cost.
We seem to willfully erode our minds
By drowning thought amidst a sea of dross
Doled out by media like candy floss.
When will we stop to think? Remove the blinds
Impeding our potential to improve,
To learn, to grow. Let’s seek a higher state
Where logic rules, and leaders captivate
The masses with their intellect to prove
Their worth. Alas, I fear ‘tis but a dream;
A hope too vague and faded to be seen.

Art for February – Ken Lerner: “Central Park February – The Trees of Poet’s Walk 2c (photograph)

Musings in February: Gladys Hasty Carroll

“February is the uncertain month, neither black nor white but all shades between by turns. Nothing is sure.”

Art for February – Ian Males: “February sunset on Croham Hurst”

A Poem for February

“Self-Criticism in February”
by Robinson Jeffers

The bay is not blue but sombre yellow
With wrack from the battered valley, it is speckled with violent
And tiger-striped with long lovely storm-shadows.
You love this better than the other mask; better eyes than yours
Would feel the equal beauty in the blue.
It is certain you have loved the beauty of storm disproportionately.
But the present time is not pastoral, but founded
On violence, pointed for more massive violence: perhaps it is not
Perversity but need that perceives the storm-beauty.
Well, bite on this: your poems are too full of ghosts and demons,
And people like phantoms how often life’s are
And passion so strained that the clay mouths go praying for destruction
Alas, it is not unusual in life;
To every soul at some time. But ‘why insist on it? And now
For the worst fault: you have never mistaken
Demon nor passion nor idealism for the real God.
Then what is most disliked in those verses
Remains most true. Unfortunately. If only you could sing
That God is love, or perhaps that social
Justice will soon prevail. I can tell lies in prose.

Below – Franklin Hunting: “Storm Clouds, San Francisco, California” (photograph)

Art for February – Agnieszka Kujawa-Bartosik: “February II”

This Date in Literary History: Died 1 February 2012 – Wislawa Szymborska, a Polish poet, essayist, translator, and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature.

“On Death, without Exaggeration”
by Wislawa Szymborska

It can’t take a joke,
find a star, make a bridge.
It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,
building ships, or baking cakes.

In our planning for tomorrow,
it has the final word,
which is always beside the point.

It can’t even get the things done
that are part of its trade:
dig a grave,
make a coffin,
clean up after itself.

Preoccupied with killing,
it does the job awkwardly,
without system or skill.
As though each of us were its first kill.

Oh, it has its triumphs,
but look at its countless defeats,
missed blows,
and repeat attempts!

Sometimes it isn’t strong enough
to swat a fly from the air.
Many are the caterpillars
that have outcrawled it.

All those bulbs, pods,
tentacles, fins, tracheae,
nuptial plumage, and winter fur
show that it has fallen behind
with its halfhearted work.

Ill will won’t help
and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d’etat
is so far not enough.

Hearts beat inside eggs.
Babies’ skeletons grow.
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees fall away.

Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it’s not.

There’s no life
that couldn’t be immortal
if only for a moment.

always arrives by that very moment too late.

In vain it tugs at the knob
of the invisible door.
As far as you’ve come
can’t be undone.

Art for February – David Altary: “Moving House – February”

A Poem for February

“Sheep in Fog”
by Sylvia Plath

The hills step off into whiteness.
People or stars
Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.

The train leaves a line of breath.
O slow
Horse the color of rust,

Hooves, dolorous bells —-
All morning the
Morning has been blackening,

A flower left out.
My bones hold a stillness, the far
Fields melt my heart.

They threaten
To let me through to a heaven
Starless and fatherless, a dark water.

Art for February – Alexander Trifonov: “February”

A Poem for February

by Margaret Atwood

Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, ‘He shoots, he scores!’ and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.

Below- Angie Cotterill: “Cat on the bed”

Art for February – Leonid Soloviev: “Winter landscape, February”

Welcome, Wonderful February

Below – Rhea Cutillo: “North of February”

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