Sentient in San Francisco – 27 May 2020

Contemporary German Art – Simple – T

Below (photographs) – “Monument Valley”; “Girl with Ring”; “Play together”; “Waiting for the Winter”; “Piniata”; “J&T.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 27 May 1930 – John Barth, an American novelist, short story writer, author of “Chimera” and “Lost in the Funhouse,” and recipient of the National Book Award.

Some quotes from the work of John Barth:

“Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.”
“Self knowledge is always bad news.”
“Choosing is existence. To the extent that you don’t choose, you don’t exist.”
“Though life’s tuition is always ruinous, inexorably we learn.”
“Like an ox-cart driver in monsoon season or the skipper of a grounded ship, one must sometimes go forward by going back.”
“The reader! You, dogged, uninsultable, print-oriented bastard, it’s you I’m addressing, who else, from inside this monstrous fiction. You’ve read me this far, then? Even this far? For what discreditable motive? How is it you don’t go to a movie, watch TV, stare at a wall, play tennis with a friend, make amorous advances to the person who comes to your mind when I speak of amorous advances? Can nothing surfeit, saturate you, turn you off? Where’s your shame?”
“He wishes he had never entered the funhouse. But he has. Then he wishes he were dead. But he’s not. Therefore he will construct funhouses for others and be their secret operator — though he would rather be among the lovers for whom funhouses are designed.”

Contemporary American Art – Suzanne Vaughn

Below – “Feels like Summer”; “Flower Field – Blue Sky Landscape”; “Shore Reflections”; “Incoming Tide – Blue Sky Landscape”; “Lush Grass – Blue Sky Landscape”; “Beach Glow – Blue Sky Landscape.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 27 May 1907 – Nicolas Calas, a Greek-American poet and critic.

“To Voyage beyond the Past*

by Nicolas Calas
translated by William Carlos Williams

To regain day again
Give it the image and the surprised dream
Love unfolds itself
Let us return forward toward the burst of new faces
And the words which carry efficacious gestures far beyond all commandment

Let us fix with a new precision the dramatic movement
Of boats without prow or sail
Vanquished or victor to bind it fast within flaming love

I have need of thy tears and to be unjust!

Day is no more than an accident wherein thine eyes appear
Monstrous hour without acts great with overthrown remembrances
Like this me of myself that another has seen
They have given it to me
Stranger to my shadow it remains chained to my steps
Like the pearly moon to the sea
And the veil to mourning
When the waiting shall be past
The light will raise itself to your eyes
Such as I am thou shalt see me no more not even in words
When fate lays down its most ill-omened cards

The rest is cruel!

Conquered or victor by love put to death
Ripped apart
By water, blood the thousand bursts of broken voices
That painful violence which has seized upon our hands
Shall sprinkle the hair of serpents
And of all ink of words cast toward the rear.

Below- Moussin Irjan: “Escape from the Past”

Contemporary Indian Art – Ananta Mandal

Below – “Horse in Motion II”; “Golden Desert II”; “Horse in Motion VI”; “Kolkata Monsoon”; “Equine Nude 36t”; “Bandra World Sea Link Evening.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 27 May 1912 – John Cheever, American novelist, short story writer, and two-time recipient of the National Book Award and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of John Cheever:

“Homesickness is . . . absolutely nothing. Fifty percent of the people in the world are homesick all the time. . . . You don’t really long for another country. You long for something in yourself that you don’t have, or haven’t been able to find.”
“A lonely man is a lonesome thing, a stone, a bone, a stick, a receptacle for Gilbey’s gin, a stooped figure sitting at the edge of a hotel bed, heaving copious sighs like the autumn wind.”
“It was a splendid summer morning and it seemed as if nothing could go wrong.”
“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos… to celebrate a world that lies spread out around us like a bewildering and stupendous dream.”
“The deep joy we take in the company of people with whom we have just recently fallen in love is undisguisable.”
“Our country is the best country in the world. We are swimming in prosperity and our President is the best president in the world. We have larger apples and better cotton and faster and more beautiful machines. This makes us the greatest country in the world. Unemployment is a myth. Dissatisfaction is a fable. In preparatory school America is beautiful. It is the gem of the ocean and it is too bad. It is bad because people believe it all. Because they become indifferent. Because they marry and reproduce and vote and they know nothing.”
“To disguise nothing, to conceal nothing, to write about those things that are closest to our pain, our happiness; to write about our sexual clumsiness, the agonies of Tantalus, the depth of our discouragement-what we glimpse in our dreams-our despair. To write about the foolish agonies of anxiety, the refreshment of our strength when these are ended; to write about our painful search for self, jeopardized by a stranger in the post office, a half-seen face in a train window, to write about the continents and populations of our dreams, about love and death, good and evil, the end of the world.”
“I do not understand the capricious lewdness of the sleeping mind.”
“The constants that I look for are a love of light and a determination to trace some moral chain of being.”
“I have always been the lover – never the beloved – and I have spent much of my life waiting for trains, planes, boats, footsteps, doorbells, letters, telephones, snow, rain, thunder.”

Contemporary Austrian Art – Jolanda Richter

Below – “Surrender to life”; “And all darkness faded 2”; “Quietness”; “And all darkness faded 1”; “Into light and air may my love and grief melt away!”; “I could fancy all things around me, were nothing but I as yet 2.”


A Poem for Today

“At the Lake House”
by Jon Loomis

Wind and the sound of wind—
across the bay a chainsaw revs
and stalls. I’ve come here to write,

but instead I’ve been thinking
about my father, who, in his last year,
after his surgery, told my mother

he wasn’t sorry—that he’d cried
when the other woman left him,
that his time with her

had made him happier than anything
he’d ever done. And my mother,
who’d cooked and cleaned for him

all those years, cared for him
after his heart attack, could not
understand why he liked the other

woman more than her,
but he did. And she told me
that after he died she never went

to visit his grave—not once.
You think you know them,
these creatures robed

in your parents’ skins. Well,
you don’t. Any more than you know
what the pines want from the wind,

if the lake’s content with this pale
smear of sunset, if the loon calls
for its mate, or for another.

Below – Ivan Mykhaylyk: “lake house”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 26 May 2020

Contemporary Canadian Art – Angela Seear

Below – “Ocean Dawn”; “Island Life”; “Apricot Sky”; “Aiko”; “Breaking the Dawn.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 26 May 1954 – Alan Hollinghurst, an award-winning English novelist, poet, short story writer, and translator.

Some quotes from the work of Alan Hollinghurst:

“It was the time of year when the atmosphere streamed with unexpected hints and memories, and a paradoxical sense of renewal.”
“She felt something similar, but worse in a way, about hundreds and hundreds of books she’d read, novels, biographies, occasional books, about music and art—she could remember nothing about them at all, so that it seemed rather pointless even to say that she had read them; such claims were things people set great store by but she hardly supposed they recalled any more than she did. Sometimes a book persisted as a coloured shadow at the edge of sight, as vague and unrecapturable as something seen in the rain from a passing vehicle; looked at directly it vanished altogether. Sometimes there were atmospheres, even the rudiments of a scene; a man in an office looking over Regent’s Park, rain in the street outside—a little blurred etching of a situation she would never, could never, trace back to its source in a novel she had read some time, she thought, in the past thirty years.”
“All families are silly in their own way.”
“Like the roses and begonias they seemed to take and hold the richly filtered evening light.”
“There is a sort of aesthetic poverty about conservatism.”
“He was asking for memories, too young himself to know that memories were only memories of memories.”
“He knew he was giving off the mischievous contentment of someone left behind for an afternoon, sleepy hints that he might have got up to something but in fact had done the more enviable and inexplicable nothing.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Olga Flerova

Below – “Winter Fox”; “October. First snow.”; “Red Knight”; “Parrot No. 1”; “Cat’s life No. 1”; “Cat’s life No. 3.”


A Poem for Today

“I so Liked Spring”
by Charlotte Mew

I so liked Spring last year
Because you were here; –
The thrushes too –
Because it was these you so liked to hear –
I so liked you.

This year’s a different thing, –
I’ll not think of you.
But I’ll like the Spring because it is simply Spring
As the thrushes do.

Below – Beverly A. Mitchell: “Thrushes’ Nest”

Contemporary British Art – Ruth Mulvie

Below – “Garden of Earthly Delights”; “Movie Night”; “Weather Lovely, Food Great”; “Pink Palms, Venice”; “Cheetahs In Ibiza”; “Domino.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 26 May 1963 – Simon Armitage, an award-winning English poet, playwright, novelist, and, since 10 May 2019, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Simon Armitage:

“You’re beautiful because when you were born, undiscovered planets lined up to peep over the rim of your cradle and lay gifts of gravity and light at your miniature feet.”
“We still need a voice that thinks before it speaks.”
“Killing time in the precinct, I find a copy of one of my early volumes in a dump-bin on the pavement outside the charity shop. The price is 10p. It is a signed copy. Under the signature, in my own handwriting, are the words, ‘To mum and dad’.”
“The melancholy comes over me, the dismal misery of not knowing where I am, or perhaps losing any sense of who I am, as if the mist is bringing about an evaporation of identity, all the certainties of the self leaching away into the cloud.”
“Brace and be brisk,
commoner, carry your heart like an egg
on a spoon, be fleet through the concourse, primed
for that point in time when the world goes bust”
“Where does the hand become the wrist?
where does the neck become the shoulder? The watershed
and then the weight, whatever turns up and
tips us over that
razor’s edge
between something and nothing,
between
one and the other.”

Contemporary American Art – Elizabeth Becker

Below – “Swallow No. 45”; “Moved”; “In the Woods No. 43”; “Iris No. 122”; “Immersed No. 3”; “Jess No. 3.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 26 May 1963 – Simon Armitage, an award-winning English poet, playwright, novelist, and, since 10 May 2019, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom: Part II of II.

“To His Lost Lover”
by Simon Armitage

Now they are no longer
any trouble to each other

he can turn things over, get down to that list
of things that never happened, all of the lost

unfinishable business.
For instance… for instance,

how he never clipped and kept her hair, or drew a hairbrush
through that style of hers, and never knew how not to blush

at the fall of her name in close company.
How they never slept like buried cutlery –

two spoons or forks cupped perfectly together,
or made the most of some heavy weather –

walked out into hard rain under sheet lightning,
or did the gears while the other was driving.

How he never raised his fingertips
to stop the segments of her lips

from breaking the news,
or tasted the fruit

or picked for himself the pear of her heart,
or lifted her hand to where his own heart

was a small, dark, terrified bird
in her grip. Where it hurt.

Or said the right thing,
or put it in writing.

And never fled the black mile back to his house
before midnight, or coaxed another button of her blouse,

then another,
or knew her

favourite colour,
her taste, her flavour,

and never ran a bath or held a towel for her,
or soft-soaped her, or whipped her hair

into an ice-cream cornet or a beehive
of lather, or acted out of turn, or misbehaved

when he might have, or worked a comb
where no comb had been, or walked back home

through a black mile hugging a punctured heart,
where it hurt, where it hurt, or helped her hand

to his butterfly heart
in its two blue halves.

And never almost cried,
and never once described

an attack of the heart,
or under a silk shirt

nursed in his hand her breast,
her left, like a tear of flesh

wept by the heart,
where it hurts,

or brushed with his thumb the nut of her nipple,
or drank intoxicating liquors from her navel.

Or christened the Pole Star in her name,
or shielded the mask of her face like a flame,

a pilot light,
or stayed the night,

or steered her back to that house of his,
or said “Don’t ask me how it is

I like you.
I just might do.”

How he never figured out a fireproof plan,
or unravelled her hand, as if her hand

were a solid ball
of silver foil

and discovered a lifeline hiding inside it,
and measured the trace of his own alongside it.

But said some things and never meant them –
sweet nothings anybody could have mentioned.

And left unsaid some things he should have spoken,
about the heart, where it hurt exactly, and how often.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 25 May 2020

A Poem for Memorial Day

“Not to Keep”
by Robert Frost

They sent him back to her. The letter came
Saying . . . And she could have him. And before
She could be sure there was no hidden ill
Under the formal writing, he was there,
Living. They gave him back to her alive—
How else? They are not known to send the dead—
And not disfigured visibly. His face?
His hands? She had to look, and ask,
‘What was it, dear?’ And she had given all
And still she had all—they had—they the lucky!
Wasn’t she glad now? Everything seemed won,
And all the rest for them permissible ease.
She had to ask, ‘What was it, dear?’

‘Enough
Yet not enough. A bullet through and through,
High in the breast. Nothing but what good care
And medicine and rest, and you a week,
Can cure me of to go again.’ The same
Grim giving to do over for them both.
She dared no more than ask him with her eyes
How was it with him for a second trial.
And with his eyes he asked her not to ask.
They had given him back to her, but not to keep.


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

Below – “The Beach”; “The Silver Thames”; “A Suffolk Hedgerow”; “Daisies in Walberswick”; “By a Window.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1935 – W. P. Kinsella, a Canadian novelist, short story writer, and author of “Shoeless Joe,” which was adapted into the movie “Field of Dreams.”

Some quotes from the work of W. P. Kinsella:

“Hardly anybody recognizes the most significant moments of their life at the time they happen.”
“Baseball is the most perfect of games, solid, true, pure and precious as diamonds. If only life were so simple. Within the baselines anything can happen. Tides can reverse; oceans can open. That’s why they say, ‘the game is never over until the last man is out.’ Colors can change, lives can alter, anything is possible in this gentle, flawless, loving game.”
“America has been erased like a blackboard, only to be rebuilt and then erased again. But baseball has marked time while America has rolled by like a procession of steamrollers.”
“Growing up is a ritual, more deadly than religion, more complicated than baseball, for there seem to be no rules. Everything is experienced for the first time.”


This Date in Art History: Born 25 May 1926 – David Wynne, an English sculptor.

Below – “Girl with a Dolphin”; “The Swimmers”; “Boy with a Dolphin”; “Heron”; “River God Tyne.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1938 – Raymond Carver, an award-winning American short story writer and poet: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Raymond Carver:

“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.”
“If we’re lucky, writer and reader alike, we’ll finish the last line or two of a short story and then just sit for a minute, quietly. Ideally, we’ll ponder what we’ve just written or read; maybe our hearts or intellects will have been moved off the peg just a little from where they were before. Our body temperature will have gone up, or down, by a degree. Then, breathing evenly and steadily once more, we’ll collect ourselves, writers and readers alike, get up, ‘created of warm blood and nerves’ as a Chekhov character puts it, and go on to the next thing: Life. Always life.”
“There isn’t enough of anything as long as we live. But at intervals a sweetness appears and, given a chance prevails.”
“It ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we’re talking about when we talk about love.”
“Dreams, you know, are what you wake up from.”
“The places where water comes together with other water. Those places stand out in my mind like holy places.”

This Date in Art History: Died 25 May 1937 – Henry Ossawa Turner, an American artist and the first African-American painter to gain International acclaim.

Below – “Spinning By Firelight”; “The Arch”; “The Banjo Lesson”; “The Seine”; Untitled (Moonlit Landscape with Cottage); “Still-Life with Fruit.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1938 – Raymond Carver, an award-winning American short story writer and poet: Part II of II.

“Late Fragment”
by Raymond Carver

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.


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

Below – “Japanese Woman”; “Portrait of Nita Wallenbert”; “Two Girls”; “Mexican Girl”; “Self Portrait”; “Black Diana.”

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 Waking”
by Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 24 May 2020

This Date in Art History: Born 24 May 1830 – Alexei Savrasov, a Russian painter.

Below – “The Rooks Have Come Back”; “Rustic View”; “Sundown over a marsh”; “Winter”; “Early Spring Thaw”; “Spring. Kitchen Gardens.”


This Date in American History: Born 24 May 1940 – Joseph Brodsky, a Russian-American poet, essayist, and recipient of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Joseph Brodsky:

“By failing to read or listen to poets, society dooms itself to inferior modes of articulation, those of the politician, the salesman, or the charlatan. In other words, it forfeits its own evolutionary potential. For what distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom is precisely the gift of speech. Poetry is not a form of entertainment and in a certain sense not even a form of art, but it is our anthropological, genetic goal. Our evolutionary, linguistic beacon.”
“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
“I do not believe in political movements. I believe in personal movement, that movement of the soul when a man who looks at himself is so ashamed that he tries to make some sort of change – within himself, not on the outside.”
“Life—the way it really is—is a battle not between good and bad, but between bad and worse.”
“For a writer only one form of patriotism exists: his attitude toward language.”


This Date in Art History: Died 24 May 1990 – Arthur Villeneuve, a Canadian painter.

Below – “Le Trainee”; Untitled; “L’écluse de Shipshaw”; “Horse and buggy”; “Radio Canada”; “L’Accident.”

This Date in American History: Born 24 May 1940 – Joseph Brodsky, a Russian-American poet, essayist, and recipient of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature: Part II of II.

“A Song”
by Joseph Brodsky

I wish you were here, dear,
I wish you were here.
I wish you sat on the sofa
and I sat near.
The handkerchief could be yours,
the tear could be mine, chin-bound.
Though it could be, of course,
the other way around.

I wish you were here, dear,
I wish you were here.
I wish we were in my car
and you’d shift the gear.
We’d find ourselves elsewhere,
on an unknown shore.
Or else we’d repair
to where we’ve been before.

I wish you were here, dear,
I wish you were here.
I wish I knew no astronomy
when stars appear,
when the moon skims the water
that sighs and shifts in its slumber.
I wish it were still a quarter
to dial your number.

I wish you were here, dear,
in this hemisphere,
as I sit on the porch
sipping a beer.
It’s evening, the sun is setting;
boys shout and gulls are crying.
What’s the point of forgetting
if it’s followed by dying?

Below – Norman Cornish: “Man alone at bar”

Contemporary French Art – Pauline Zenk: Part I of II.

Below – “Learning to Fly”; “Colorblind”; “Insider”; “Woman with a white T-shirt”; “Das Green hinter den Ohren”; “Nude in Garden.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 24 May 1928 – William Trevor, an award-winning Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, and author of “Love and Summer.”

Some quotes from the work of William Trevor:

“My fiction may, now and again, illuminate aspects of the human condition, but I do not consciously set out to do so: I am a storyteller.”
“A person’s life isn’t orderly …it runs about all over the place, in and out through time. The present’s hardly there; the future doesn’t exist. Only love matters in the bits and pieces of a person’s life.”
“The past has no belongings. The past does not obligingly absorb what is not wanted.”
“But you didn’t lose touch with a place when it wasn’t there any more, you didn’t lose touch with yourself as you were when you were part of it, with your childhood, with your simplicity then.”
“He traveled in order to come home.”
“The flies of some other summer darkening its windowsills.”
“Memory in its ordinary way summoned harvested fields, and haycocks and autumn hedges, the first of the fuchsia, the last of the wild sweetpea. It brought the lowing of cattle, old donkeys resting, scampering dogs, and days and places.”

Contemporary French Art – Pauline Zenk: Part II of II.

Below – “Head over heels”; “Girl in the red blouse”; “Women sorting out stardust”; “Girl reading”; “reclining nude fading away”; “Nude undressing in Garden.”

A Poem for Today

“I’m Thinking in Bed”
by Dennis Lee

I’m thinking in bed,
Cause I can’t get out
Till I learn how to think
What I’m thinking about;
What I’m thinking about
Is a person to be–
A sort of a person
Who feels like me.

I might still be Alice,
Excepting I’m not.
And Snoopy is super,
But not when it’s hot;
I couldn’t be Piglet,
I don’t think I’m Pooh,
I know I’m not Daddy
And I can’t be you.

My breakfast is waiting.
My clothes are all out,
But what was that thing
I was thinking about?
I’ll never get up
If I lie here all day;
But I still haven’t thought,
So I’ll just have to stay.

If I was a Grinch
I expect I would know.
But I don’t think so.
There’s so many people
I don’t seem to be–
I guess I’ll just have to
Get up and be me.

Below – Pauline Zenk: “Man on Bed”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 23 May 2020

Contemporary Slovenian Art – Lara Jese

Below – “Wasserpfferde”; “White Golden Horse”; “LuLu BO”; “BBB (The Fit Lady”; “The Golden Horse”; “Battery V.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 23 May 1891 – Par Lagerkvist, a Swedish novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, author of “The Dwarf” and “The Sibyl,” and recipient of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Par Lagerkvist:

“Nothing is more foreign than the world of one’s childhood when one has truly left it.”
“All human culture is but an attempt at something unattainable, something which far transcends our powers of realization. There it stands, mutilated, tragic as a torso. Is not the human spirit itself a torso?”
“It is incomprehensible that he should want to have these futile people here, and still more incomprehensible that he should be able to sit and listen to them and their stupid chatter. I can understand that he may occasionally listen to poets reciting their verses; they can be regarded as buffoons such as are always kept at court. They laud the lofty purity of the human soul, great events and heroic feats, and there is nothing to be said against all that, particularly if their songs flatter him. Human beings need flattery; otherwise they do not fulfill their purpose, not even in their own eyes. And both the present and the past contain much that is beautiful and noble which, without due praise, would have been neither noble nor beautiful. Above all, they sing the praises of love, which is quite as it should be, for nothing else is in such need of transformation into something different. The ladies are filled with melancholy and their breasts heave with sighs; the men gaze vaguely and dreamily into space, for they all know what it is really like and realize that this must be an especially beautiful poem.”
“And they are deformed though it does not show on the outside. I live only my dwarf life. I never go around tall and smooth-featured. I am ever myself, always the same, I live one life alone. I have no other being inside me. And I recognize everything within me, nothing ever comes up from my inner depths, nothing there is shrouded in mystery. Therefore I do not fear the things which frighten them, the incoherent, the unknown, the mysterious. Such things do not exist for me. There is nothing ‘different’ about me.”
“All human culture is but an attempt at something unattainable, something which far transcends our powers of realization. There it stands, mutilated, tragic as a torso. Is not the human spirit itself a torso?”
“I have noticed that sometimes I frighten people; what they really fear is themselves. They think it is I who scare them, but it is the dwarf within them, the ape-faced manlike being who sticks up his head from the depths of their souls.”
“Only the gods have many destinies and need never die. They are filled with everything and experience everything. Everything – except human happiness. That they can never know and therefore they grudge it to men. Nothing makes them so evil and cruel as that men should presume to be happy and forget them for the sake of their earthly happiness.”

Contemporary Ukrainian Art – Maria A

Below – “The Insight”; “59 shades of blue”; “summer is always a good idea”; “OM”; “Sunrise”; “Sea 2 See.”

A Poem for Today

“The Window”
by Rumi

Your body is away from me
but there is a window open
from my heart to yours.

From this window, like the moon
I keep sending news secretly.

Below – Frederick Childe Hassam: “The Goldfish Window”

Contemporary French Art – Yvan Favre: Part I of II.

Below – “take the path”; “11062016”; “n7”; “Opening night”; “fireplace”; “n77”; “unsuspicious.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 23 May 2012 – Paul Fussell, an American cultural and literary historian, infantry officer during World War II, author of “The Great War and Modern Memory” and “Abroad: British Literary Travel Between the Wars,” and recipient of both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Reading “The Great War and Modern Memory” changed the way I understood history, literature, and human nature.

Some quotes from the work of Paul Fussell:

“All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveller learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.”
“Exploration belongs to the Renaissance, travel to the bourgeois age, tourism to our proletarian moment.The explorer seeks the undiscovered, the traveler that which has been discovered by the mind working in history, the tourist that which has been discovered by entrepreneurship and prepared for him by the arts of mass publicity.If the explorer moves toward the risks of the formless and the unknown, the tourist moves toward the security of pure cliché. It is between these two poles that the traveler mediates.”
“Americans are the only people in the world known to me whose status anxiety prompts them to advertise their college and university affiliations in the rear window of their automobiles.”
“The middles cleave to euphemisms not just because they’re an aid in avoiding facts. They like them also because they assist their social yearnings towards pomposity. This is possible because most euphemisms permit the speaker to multiply syllables, and the middle class confuses sheer numerousness with weight and value.”
“A more or less accurate measure of class in America is TV size: the bigger your TV, the lower your class.”
“Wars damage the civilian society as much as they damage the enemy. Soldiers never get over it.”
“Before the development of tourism, travel was conceived to be like study, and it’s fruits were considered to be the adornment of the mind and the formation of the judgment.”
“Travelers learn not just foreign customs and curious cuisines and unfamiliar beliefs and novel forms of government. They learn, if they are lucky, humility.”
“Today the Somme is a peaceful but sullen place, unforgetting and unforgiving. … To wander now over the fields destined to extrude their rusty metal fragments for centuries is to appreciate in the most intimate way the permanent reverberations of July, 1916. When the air is damp you can smell rusted iron everywhere, even though you see only wheat and barley.”
“I find nothing more depressing than optimism.”
“Anybody who notices unpleasant facts in the have-a-nice-day world we live in is going to be designated a curmudgeon.”


Contemporary French Art – Yvan Favre: Part II of II.

Below – “Rebecca”; “15102016”; “n’66”; “n’9”; “20170402”; “shades.”

A Poem for Today

“Making a Fist”
by Naomi Shihab Nye

“We forget that we are all dead men conversing with dead men.”
—Jorge Luis Borges

For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

“How do you know if you are going to die?”
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
“When you can no longer make a fist.”

Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 22 May 2020

This Date in Art History: Born 22 May 1820 – Worthington Whittredge, an American painter of the Hudson River School.

Below – “Crossing the River Platte”; “Evening Glow”; “Flood on the Delaware”; “Landscape with Brook”; “View in the Catskills.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 22 May 1956 – Lucie Brock-Broido, an award-winning American poet.

“A Girl Ago”
by Lucie Brock-Broido

No feeding on wisteria. No pitch-burner traipsing
In the nettled woods. No milk in metal cylinders, no
Buttering. No making small contusions on the page
But saying nothing no one has not said before.
No milkweed blown across your pony-coat, no burrs.
No scent of juniper on your Jacobean mouth. No crush
Of ink or injury, no lacerating wish.
Extinguish me from this.
I was sixteen for twenty years. By September I will be a ghost
And flickering in unison with all the other fireflies in Appalachia,
Blinking in the swarm of it, and all at once, above
And on a bare branch in a shepherd’s sky.    No Dove.
There is no thou to speak of.

Below – Daniel Ambrose: “Fireflies at Dusk”

This Date in Art History: Born 22 May 1833 – Felix Bracquemond, a French painter, printmaker, etcher, and pottery designer.

Below – “Landscape”; “Les Paons”; “Canards Supris”; “Portrait de Madame Paul Meurice”; “Decorative arts in the Musee d’Orsay”; “Decorative Arts in the Musee d’Orsay.”


A Poem for Today

“In Lieu of Flowers”
by Shawna Lemay

Although I love flowers very much, I won’t see them when I’m gone. So in lieu of flowers:  Buy a book of poetry written by someone still alive, sit outside with a cup of tea, a glass of wine, and read it out loud, by yourself or to someone, or silently.
Spend some time with a single flower. A rose maybe. Smell it, touch the petals.
Really look at it.
Drink a nice bottle of wine with someone you love.
Or, Champagne. And think of what John Maynard Keynes said, “My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne.” Or what Dom Perignon said when he first tasted the stuff: “Come quickly! I am tasting stars!”
Take out a paint set and lay down some colours.
Watch birds. Common sparrows are fine. Pigeons, too. Geese are nice. Robins.
In lieu of flowers, walk in the trees and watch the light fall into it. Eat an apple, a really nice big one. I hope it’s crisp.
Have a long soak in the bathtub with candles, maybe some rose petals.
Sit on the front stoop and watch the clouds. Have a dish of strawberry ice cream in my name.
If it’s winter, have a cup of hot chocolate outside for me. If it’s summer, a big glass of ice water.
If it’s autumn, collect some leaves and press them in a book you love. I’d like that.
Sit and look out a window and write down what you see. Write some other things down.
In lieu of flowers,
I would wish for you to flower.
I would wish for you to blossom, to open, to be beautiful.

This Date in Art History: Born 22 May 1948 – Tomas Sanchez, a Cuban painter.

Below – “Retorno al Palmar de la Laguna”; “Los Cuatros Elementos”; “Nubes sobre el mar”; “Contemplador de la Cascada”; “Meditador, nube, rio.”


A Poem for Today

“Talking to Grief”
by Denise Levertov

Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.

I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.

You think I don’t know you’ve been living
under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied
before winter comes. You need
your name,
your collar and tag. You need
the right to warn off intruders,
to consider
my house your own
and me your person
and yourself
my own dog.


Contemporary German Art – Caesilae Paintings

Below – “Where are you now?”; “The light behind the storm”; “You are together, now”; “Radiance”; “How much will we destroy?.”


A Poem for Today

“In Blackwater Woods”
by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 21 May 2020

This Date in Art History: Born 21 May 1844 – Henri Rousseau, a French painter.

Below – “The Dream”; “The Sleeping Gypsy”; “The Snake Charmer”; “A Carnival Evening”; “The Flamingoes”; “Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surprised).”

This Date in Literary History: Born 21 May 1923 – Dorothy Hewett, an award-winning Australian poet, novelist, and playwright.

“Digging It In”
by Dorothy Hewett

My father’s spade
has the hollow sound of regret
Goodbye Dad but he doesn’t look up
where the cannas once grew by the drain
sour and stubborn he keeps on digging.

The melancholy acres stretch away
behind him the trees already dying
a crow flaps crying
along the boundary fence where once
the timber stood.

I have disappointed him once again
another dream gone west
I won’t be here to listen to his plans
to rechannel the salty creek
replant the trees rejuvenate the farm
he will lease it out for a pittance
eventually selling it off for next to nothing
run down one sheep to the acre

but all the way back
driving across the Nullarbor
over the cattle grids
through the dog-proof fence
an empty drum on the boundary
WELCOME TO WESTERN AUSTRALIA
I will hear the sound of his spade
savagely breaking the clods
for a kitchen garden.

This Date in Art History: Born 21 May 1912 – Chen Dayu, a Chinese painter and calligrapher. No titles were available for the paintings that appear below.

A Poem for Today

“The Powwow at the End of the World”
By Sherman Alexie

I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam
and topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgive
and so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive dam
downriver from the Grand Coulee. I am told by many of you
that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters find
their way to the mouth of the Columbia River as it enters the Pacific
and causes all of it to rise. I am told by many of you that I must forgive
and so I shall after the first drop of floodwater is swallowed by that salmon
waiting in the Pacific. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after that salmon swims upstream, through the mouth of the Columbia
and then past the flooded cities, broken dams and abandoned reactors
of Hanford. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after that salmon swims through the mouth of the Spokane River
as it meets the Columbia, then upstream, until it arrives
in the shallows of a secret bay on the reservation where I wait alone.
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after
that salmon leaps into the night air above the water, throws
a lightning bolt at the brush near my feet, and starts the fire
which will lead all of the lost Indians home. I am told
by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after we Indians have gathered around the fire with that salmon
who has three stories it must tell before sunrise: one story will teach us
how to pray; another story will make us laugh for hours;
the third story will give us reason to dance. I am told by many
of you that I must forgive and so I shall when I am dancing
with my tribe during the powwow at the end of the world.

Below – Nathalie Parenteau: “Song of the Salmon”

Contemporary Finnish Art – Silja Selonen: Part I of II.

Below – “Feel-the-sky”; “Hear-the-life”; “invasion 2”; “to evening”; “crystally”; “pieni poikueni”; “jospa.”


A Poem for Today

“I Am Offering this Poem”
by Jimmy Santiago Baca

I am offering this poem to you,
since I have nothing else to give.
Keep it like a warm coat
when winter comes to cover you,
or like a pair of thick socks
the cold cannot bite through,

I love you,

I have nothing else to give you,
so it is a pot full of yellow corn
to warm your belly in winter,
it is a scarf for your head, to wear
over your hair, to tie up around your face,

I love you,

Keep it, treasure this as you would
if you were lost, needing direction,
in the wilderness life becomes when mature;
and in the corner of your drawer,
tucked away like a cabin or hogan
in dense trees, come knocking,
and I will answer, give you directions,
and let you warm yourself by this fire,
rest by this fire, and make you feel safe

I love you,

It’s all I have to give,
and all anyone needs to live,
and to go on living inside,
when the world outside
no longer cares if you live or die;
remember,

I love you.

Contemporary Finnish Art – Silja Selonen: Part II of II.

Below – “to the blue”; “See the song”; “Feel the other”; “The weight of Tone”; “Being sonorous”; “touch.”


A Poem for Today

“Wild Geese”
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Below – James Manley Rua: “Geese Flying at Dusk”

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Sentient in San Francisco- 20 May 2020

Contemporary French Art – Nuno Lopez Silva

Below – Untitled; Untitled; Untitled; Untitled; Untitled.

A Poem for Today

“French Chocolates”
by Ellen Bass

‘If you have your health, you have everything’
is something that’s said to cheer you up
when you come home early and find your lover
arched over a stranger in a scarlet thong.

Or it could be you lose your job at Happy Nails
because you can’t stop smudging the stars
on those ten teeny American flags.

I don’t begrudge you your extravagant vitality.
May it blossom like a cherry tree. May the petals
of your cardiovascular excellence
and the accordion polka of your lungs
sweeten the mornings of your loneliness.

But for the ill, for you with nerves that fire
like a rusted-out burner on an old barbecue,
with bones brittle as spun sugar,
with a migraine hammering like a blacksmith

in the flaming forge of your skull,
may you be spared from friends who say,
‘God doesn’t give you more than you can handle’
and ask what gifts being sick has brought you.

May they just keep their mouths shut
and give you French chocolates and daffodils
and maybe a small, original Matisse,
say, ‘Open Window, Collioure’, so you can look out
at the boats floating on the dappled pink water.

Below – Henri Matisse: “Open Window, Collioure”

Contemporary American Art – Stella El

Below – “monday view”; “Pink sunset”; “Timeless”; “Imaginative”; untitled no.12; “Bright.”

A Poem for Today

“Enough”
by David Whyte

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to life
we have refused
again and again
until now.

Until now.


Contemporary French Art – Clotilde Nadel

Below – “geisha contemplative”; “la riviere”; “Le Canal St Martin a Paris”; “central park sous la neige”; “marche sur l’eau”; “le marais.”


A Poem for Today

“Kindness”
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness, you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread, only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Below – Nicolene Botha: “Drops of Kindness”


Contemporary Canadian Art – Serguei Borodouline

Below – “Quarry”; “Endless Swamps”; “October Mist”; “Pictorial Landscape 50”; “Spill”; “Exodus.”

A Poem for Today

“The Peace of Wild Things”
by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 19 May 2020

This Date in Art History: Born 19 May 1871, Died 19 May 1963 – Walter Russell, an American painter and sculptor.

Below – “Stream, Italy”; “Solitude (Rocky Mountains)”; “Steamship ‘Maine””; “Trees on a Hillside”; Untitled.

This Date in Literary History: Died 19 May 1864 – Nathaniel Hawthorne, an American novelist, short story writer, and author of “The Scarlet Letter, A Romance” and “The House of the Seven Gables, A Romance.”

Some quotes from the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne:

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
“The thing you set your mind on is the thing you ultimately become.”
“Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he chooses to be so or not.”
“We go all wrong by too strenuous a resolution to go right.”
“We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.”
“It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom. Each, in its utmost development, supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge; each renders one individual dependent for the food of his affections and spiritual life upon another; each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his object.”
“Moonlight is sculpture.”
“If the truth were to be known, everyone would be wearing a scarlet letter of one form or another.”

This Date in Art History: Born 19 May 1929 – Richard Larter, an Australian painter.

Below – “Looking Through”; “Redhead”; “Blustery Rain”; “Version 6”; “Goddess”; “Summer Tangle.”


This Date in Literary History: Died 19 May 1946 – Booth Tarkington, an American novelist, dramatist, author of “The Magnificent Ambersons” and “Alice Adams,” and two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Booth Tarkington:

“Boyhood is the longest time in life for a boy. The last term of the school-year is made of decades, not of weeks, and living through them is like waiting for the millennium.”
“It is love in old age, no longer blind, that is true love. For the love’s highest intensity doesn’t necessarily mean it’s highest quality.”
“Destiny has a constant passion for the incongruous.”
“Youth cannot imagine romance apart from youth.”
“One of the hardest conditions of boyhood is the almost continuous strain put upon the powers of invention by the constant and harassing necessity for explanations of every natural act.”
“The things that we have and that we think are so solid – they’re like smoke, and time is like the sky that the smoke disappears into, nothing is left but the sky, and the sky keeps on being just the same forever.”

Contemporary Bulgarian Art – Trayko Popov

Below – “Selfies on the dividing line”; “She’s leaving…”; “Selfie at Dawn”; “The Sea Speaks To Me”; “Music across the balconies”; “A Bunch of Skiers in Swimsuits.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 19 May 1889 – Tan Dat, a Vietnamese poet.

“Farewell”
by Tan Da

Peach leaves fall, scattering on the path to T’ien T’ai mountain,
The brook sees you off, the oriole guides you and your sorrows!
Half a year in paradise,
One single step back to mortal life,
Old desires, overflowing love, that’s all we had,
Stones wear down, moss upon them fades
Waters flow, flowers drift past,
The stork flies upward, surging all the way to the firmament’s end!
The cavern’s entrance
The mountain’s top
The olden path,
A thousand years sigh beneath the moon’s shadowplay.

Below – Wu Guanzhong: “Mountain under Moonlight”

Contemporary Spanish Art – Karenina Fabrizzi

Below – “From fear to love #13”; “Golden deer”; “Insects 05”; “From fear to love #14”; “Wolves”;“From fear to love #5.”

A Poem for Today

“Cash Register Sings The Blues”
by Maria Nazos

This isn’t my dream-job. As a young sheet
of steel and plastic I dreamt of being melted

down into a dancer’s pole in Vegas. I wanted
a woman in a headdress glossy as a gossamer

to wrap her lithe limbs around me. I wanted
to be strewn in lights, smell her powdery perfume.

Instead I’m a squat box crouched behind the counter,
noticed only if someone robs me. I’m touched all day,

but never caressed. Listen: somewhere gold tokens
spew from slots. I want to drink space-alien-dyed martinis on black

leather sectional couches. Watch tipsy women with acid-
washed jeans and teased hair dreamily press their faces

against slot machines while people treat currency
carelessly as spit in the wind.

I’m everywhere you look, ubiquitous and ignored.
I’m the container of your dreams that tossed aside my own.

I’ve kept my clean, sleek lines but you never say a thing.
Feed me, feed me with the only love we know.

Below – Christi Harris: “Cash Register”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 18 May 2020

This Date in Art History: Born 18 May 1904 – Janet Fish, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Black Bowl Red Scarf”; “Dishes from Japan”; “Glass and Shells”; “Kara”; “Nasturtiums and Pink Cups”; “Herb Tea.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 18 May 1944 – W. G. Sebald, a German novelist, essayist, and poet: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of W. G. Sebald:

“It is thanks to my evening reading alone that I am still more or less sane.”
“We take almost all the decisive steps in our lives as a result of slight inner adjustments of which we are barely conscious.
“We all have appointments with the past.”
“In my photographic work I was always especially entranced… by the moment when the shadows of reality, so to speak, emerge out of nothing on the exposed paper, as memories do in the middle of the night, darkening again if you try to cling to them.”
“I suppose it is submerged realities that give to dreams their curious air of hyper-reality. But perhaps there is something else as well, something nebulous, gauze-like, through which everything one sees in a dream seems, paradoxically, much clearer. A pond becomes a lake, a breeze becomes a storm, a handful of dust is a desert, a grain of sulphur in the blood is a volcanic inferno. What manner of theater is it, in which we are at once playwright, actor, stage manager, scene painter and audience?”

This Date in Art History: Born 18 May 1904 – Janet Fish, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Cut Peach Blue Vase”; “Peaches and Strawflowers”; “Coffee Cake”; “Chili Peppers”; “Monkey Business”; “Turkish delight.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 18 May 1944 – W. G. Sebald, a German novelist, essayist, and poet: Part II of II.

“Memo”
by W. G. Sebald

Build fire and read
the future in smoke

Carry out ash and
scatter over head

Be sure
not to look back

Try out
the art of metamorphosis

Paint face
with cinnebar

As a sign
of grief

Below – George Clausen: “Youth Mourning”


Contemporary American Art – Brian Everett Miller

Below – “Houseplant”; “Flowers & Vase”; “Group Portrait.”

This Date in Cultural History: Born 18 May 1904 – Shunryu Suzuki, a Japanese monk, teacher, founder the San Francisco Zen Center, and author of “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.”

Some quotes from the work of Shunryu Suzuki:

“Leave your front door and your back door open.
Allow your thoughts to come and go.
Just don’t serve them tea.”
“Wherever you go you will find your teacher, as long as you have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.”
“So the most difficult thing is always to keep your beginner’s mind. There is no need to have a deep understanding of Zen. Even though you read much Zen literature, you must read each sentence with a fresh mind. You should not say, ‘I know what Zen is,’ or ‘I have attained enlightenment.’ This is also the real secret of the arts: always be a beginner.”
“Moment after moment everything comes out of nothingness. This is the true joy of life.”
“If you can just appreciate each thing, one by one, then you will have pure gratitude. Even though you observe just one flower, that one flower includes everything.”
“Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.”
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few…. In the beginner’s mind there is no thought, ‘I have attained something.’ All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. We can really learn something.”

Contemporary Ukrainian Art – Hyzhy Oleh

Below – “autumn”; “morning”; “sleep”; “piano”; “woman with dog”; “live.”


A Poem for Today

“Bees Were Better”
by Naomi Shihab Nye”

In college, people were always breaking up.
We broke up in parking lots,
beside fountains.
Two people broke up
across a table from me
at the library.
I could not sit at that table again
though I did not know them.
I studied bees, who were able
to convey messages through dancing
and could find their ways
home to their hives
even if someone put up a blockade of sheets
and boards and wire.
Bees had radar in their wings and brains
that humans could barely understand.
I wrote a paper proclaiming
their brilliance and superiority
and revised it at a small café
featuring wooden hive-shaped honey-dippers
in silver honeypots
at every table.

Below – Trayko Popov: “Honey Bee”

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