Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Puce Moment (1949)
Kenneth Anger

Thursday, October 24, 2013


September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
sits in the kitchen with the child
beside the Little Marvel Stove,
reading the jokes from the almanac,
laughing and talking to hide her tears.

She thinks that her equinoctial tears
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
were both foretold by the almanac,
but only known to a grandmother.
The iron kettle sings on the stove.
She cuts some bread and says to the child,

It's time for tea now; but the child
is watching the teakettle's small hard tears
dance like mad on the hot black stove,
the way the rain must dance on the house.
Tidying up, the old grandmother
hangs up the clever almanac

on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
hovers half open above the child,
hovers above the old grandmother
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
She shivers and says she thinks the house
feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.

It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.
I know what I know, says the almanac.
With crayons the child draws a rigid house
and a winding pathway. Then the child
puts in a man with buttons like tears
and shows it proudly to the grandmother.

But secretly, while the grandmother
busies herself about the stove,
the little moons fall down like tears
from between the pages of the almanac
into the flower bed the child
has carefully placed in the front of the house.

Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvellous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.

Filling Station

Oh, but it is dirty!
--this little filling station,
oil-soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.
Be careful with that match!

Father wears a dirty,
oil-soaked monkey suit
that cuts him under the arms,
and several quick and saucy
and greasy sons assist him
(it's a family filling station),
all quite thoroughly dirty.

Do they live in the station?
It has a cement porch
behind the pumps, and on it
a set of crushed and grease-
impregnated wickerwork;
on the wicker sofa
a dirty dog, quite comfy.

Some comic books provide
the only note of color--
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.

Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)

Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:
to high-strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.

Sunday, 4 A.M.

An endless and flooded
dreamland, lying low,
cross- and wheel-studded
like a tick-tack-toe.

At the right, ancillary,
"Mary" 's close and blue.
Which Mary? Aunt Mary?
Tall Mary Stearns I knew?

The old kitchen knife box,
full of rusty nails,
is at the left. A high vox
humana somewhere wails:

The gray horse needs shoeing!
It's always the same!
What are you doing,
there, beyond the frame?

If you're the donor,
you might do that much!
Turn on the light. Turn over.
On the bed a smutch--

black-and-gold gesso
on the altered cloth.
The cat jumps to the window;
in his mouth's a moth.

Dream dream confronting,
now the cupboard's bare.
The cat's gone a-hunting.
The brook feels for the stair.

The world seldom changes,
but the wet foot dangles
until a bird arranges
two notes at right angles.

Elizabeth Bishop

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Skunk Hour

      (For Elizabeth Bishop)

Nautilus Island’s hermit
heiress still lives through winter in her Spartan cottage;
her sheep still graze above the sea.
Her son’s a bishop. Her farmer
is first selectman in our village;
she’s in her dotage.

Thirsting for
the hierarchic privacy
of Queen Victoria’s century,
she buys up all
the eyesores facing her shore,
and lets them fall.

The season’s ill—
we’ve lost our summer millionaire,
who seemed to leap from an L. L. Bean
catalogue. His nine-knot yawl
was auctioned off to lobstermen.
A red fox stain covers Blue Hill.

And now our fairy
decorator brightens his shop for fall;
his fishnet’s filled with orange cork,
orange, his cobbler’s bench and awl;
there is no money in his work,
he’d rather marry.

One dark night,
my Tudor Ford climbed the hill’s skull;
I watched for love-cars. Lights turned down,
they lay together, hull to hull,
where the graveyard shelves on the town. . . .
My mind’s not right.

A car radio bleats,
“Love, O careless Love. . . .” I hear
my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,
as if my hand were at its throat. . . .
I myself am hell;
nobody’s here—

only skunks, that search
in the moonlight for a bite to eat.
They march on their soles up Main Street:
white stripes, moonstruck eyes’ red fire
under the chalk-dry and spar spire
of the Trinitarian Church.

I stand on top
of our back steps and breathe the rich air—
a mother skunk with her column of kittens swills the garbage pail
She jabs her wedge-head in a cup
of sour cream, drops her ostrich tail,
and will not scare.

Robert Lowell

Approaching Storm, ca. 1938
Robert P. Archer

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Apple Tree, Abbeville, before 1900
Eugène Atget

Friday, September 20, 2013

Untitled Film Still #36, 1979
Cindy Sherman

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Untitled, 1928
Herbert Bayer

Friday, July 19, 2013

Love Is a Deep and a Dark and a Lonely

love is a deep and a dark and a lonely
and you take it deep take it dark
and take it with a lonely winding
and when the winding gets too lonely
then may come the windflowers
and the breath of wind over many flowers
winding its way out of many lonely flowers
waiting in rainleaf whispers
waiting in dry stalks of noon
wanting in a music of windbreaths
so you can take love as it comes keening
as it comes with a voice and a face
and you make a talk of it
talking to yourself a talk worth keeping
and you put it away for a keen keeping
and you find it to be a hoarding
and you give it away and yet it stays hoarded

like a book read over and over again
like one book being a long row of books
like leaves of windflowers bending low
and bending to be never broken

Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kensington Children's Party, c. 1934
Bill Brandt

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Second Street, Ashland, Wisconsin, July 9, 1973
Stephen Shore

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Small Train Station at Night, 1959
Paul Delvaux

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sleeping Woman, 1929
Man Ray

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Romania, 1975
Henri Cartier-Bresson

Eleanor, c. 1954
Harry Callahan

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Untitled Film Still #62, 1977
Cindy Sherman

Monday, June 24, 2013

Crow-Song in Orion, 1971
Joseph Cornell

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Sunflowers, 1930
Howard Cook

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fairground Ride, c. 1937
Olive Cotton

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lyell's Hypothesis Again

     An Attempt to Explain the Former
     Changes of the Earth's Surface by
     Causes Now in Operation

       subtitle of Lyell: Principles of Geology
The mountain road ends here,   
Broken away in the chasm where   
The bridge washed out years ago.   
The first scarlet larkspur glitters   
In the first patch of April
Morning sunlight. The engorged creek   
Roars and rustles like a military   
Ball. Here by the waterfall,   
Insuperable life, flushed
With the equinox, sentient   
And sentimental, falls away
To the sea and death. The tissue   
Of sympathy and agony
That binds the flesh in its Nessus' shirt;   
The clotted cobweb of unself   
And self; sheds itself and flecks   
The sun's bed with darts of blossom   
Like flagellant blood above   
The water bursting in the vibrant   
Air. This ego, bound by personal   
Tragedy and the vast
Impersonal vindictiveness
Of the ruined and ruining world,   
Pauses in this immortality,
As passionate, as apathetic,
As the lava flow that burned here once;   
And stopped here; and said, 'This far   
And no further.' And spoke thereafter   
In the simple diction of stone.

Naked in the warm April air,   
We lie under the redwoods,   
In the sunny lee of a cliff.   
As you kneel above me I see   
Tiny red marks on your flanks
Like bites, where the redwood cones   
Have pressed into your flesh.   
You can find just the same marks   
In the lignite in the cliff
Over our heads. Sequoia
Langsdorfii before the ice,   
And sempervirens afterwards,   
There is little difference,   
Except for all those years.

Here in the sweet, moribund   
Fetor of spring flowers, washed,   
Flotsam and jetsam together,   
Cool and naked together,   
Under this tree for a moment,   
We have escaped the bitterness   
Of love, and love lost, and love   
Betrayed. And what might have been,   
And what might be, fall equally   
Away with what is, and leave   
Only these ideograms
Printed on the immortal   
Hydrocarbons of flesh and stone.
Kenneth Rexroth

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Composition with Female Figure, 1918
Vilmos Huszar

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Budapest, Hungary, c. 1954-56
Gabor Szilasi

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

In the Museum of Lost Objects

      What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee;  
      What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage.
                Ezra Pound

You’ll find labels describing what is gone:
an empress’s bones, a stolen painting
of a man in a feathered helmet
holding a flag-draped spear.
A vellum gospel, hidden somewhere long ago
forgotten, would have sat on that pedestal;
this glass cabinet could have kept the first
salts carried back from the Levant.
To help us comprehend the magnitude
of absence, huge rooms
lie empty of their wonders—the Colossus,
Babylon’s Hanging Gardens and
in this gallery, empty shelves enough to hold
all the scrolls of Alexandria.
My love, I’ve petitioned the curator
who has acquired an empty chest
representing all the poems you will
now never write. It will be kept with others
in the poet’s gallery. Next door,
a vacant room echoes with the spill
of jewels buried by a pirate who died
before disclosing their whereabouts.
I hope you don’t mind, but I have kept
a few of your pieces
for my private collection. I think
you know the ones I mean.
Rebecca Lindenberg

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Girl with a Cat, 1545
Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Landscape, Nice, 1919
Henri Matisse

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Dancing Lesson, c. 1905
Gertrude Käsebier

Friday, May 10, 2013

Three Women, 1938
Hannes Kilian

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Dinner Horn, ca. 1870
Winslow Homer

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pride's Crossing

Where the railroad meets the sea,
I recognize her hand.
Where the railroad meets the sea,
her hair is as intricate as a thumbprint.
Where the railroad meets the sea,
her name is the threshold of sleep.

Where the railroad meets the sea,
it takes all night to get there.
Where the railroad meets the sea,
you have stepped over the barrier.
Where the railroad meets the sea,
you will understand afterwards.

Where the railroad meets the sea,
where the railroad meets the sea-
I know only that our paths lie together,
and you cannot endure if you remain alone.

The Last Days of April

Through the ceiling comes
the rain to cool my lover
and me. The lime carpeting

darkens, and when we cross
to retrieve our glasses
of gin from the mantle, our

feet sink as into drifts
of leaves. We have a deep
thirst, for it is the end

of April, and we know that
a great heat is coming soon
to deaden these passions.

for K.

Like a glum cricket
the refrigerator is singing
and just as I am convinced

that it is the only noise
in the building, a pot falls
in 2B. The neighbors on

both sides of me suddenly
realize that they have not
made love to their wives

since 1947. The racket
multiplies. The man downhall
is teaching his dog to fly.

The fish are disgusted
and beat their heads blue
against a cold aquarium. I too

lose control and consider
the dust huddled in the corner
a threat to my endurance.

Were you here, we would not
tolerate mongrels in the air,
nor the conspiracies of dust.

We would drive all night,
your head tilted on my shoulder.
At dawn, I would nudge you

with my anxious fingers and say,
Already we are in Idaho.

James Tate             

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why?, before 1935
Karel Kašpařík

Monday, April 22, 2013

On Not Finding You at Home

Usually you appear at the front door
when you hear my steps on the gravel,
but today the door was closed,
not a wisp of pale smoke from the chimney.

I peered into a window
but there was nothing but a table with a comb,
some yellow flowers in a glass of water
and dark shadows in the corners of the room.

I stood for a while under the big tree
and listened to the wind and the birds,
your wind and your birds,
your dark green woods beyond the clearing.

This is not what it is like to be you,
I realized as a few of your magnificent clouds
flew over the rooftop.
It is just me thinking about being you.

And before I headed back down the hill,
I walked in a circle around your house,
making an invisible line
which you would have to cross before dark.

Billy Collins

Friday, April 12, 2013

Treading Sand, 1936
Olive Cotton

Friday, April 5, 2013

Jean, 1937
Max Dupain

Red Balloon (Roter Ballon), 1922
Paul Klee

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lake Balaton, Hungary, 1954
Gabor Szilasi

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chicago, 1954
Harry Callahan

Nude with Cat, c. 1939
Paul Outerbridge

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

British Sea Power - "Machineries of Joy"

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Girl with a Cat, 1918-22
Gwen John

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dancer Estella Reed, 1931
Paul Citroen

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Central Park, Spring, 1970
Ernst Haas

Friday, March 8, 2013

Untitled, Paris, c. 1937
Erwin Blumenfeld

Barcelona, 1907
Josep Llimona

Friday, March 1, 2013


For the first time the only
thing you are likely to break

is everything because
it is a dangerous

venture. Danger invites
rescue - I call it loving.

We've got a good thing
going - I call it rescue.

Nicest thing ever to come
between steel cobwebs, we hope

so. A few others should get
around to it, I can't understand

it. There is plenty of room,
clean windows, we start our best

engines, a-rumm . . . everything is
relevant. I call it loving.

James Tate

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Half-figure of a Young Woman, 1918
Gustav Klimt

Woman with Mandolin in Yellow and Red, 1950
Max Beckmann

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Marathon, University Street, Vilnius 1959
Antanas Sutkus

Sunday, February 10, 2013

La Femme au parapluie (Woman with Umbrella), ca. 1921
Max Ernst

Monday, February 4, 2013

Swans in Central Park, 1906
George Bellows

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Greece, 1952
Ernst Haas

Friday, February 1, 2013

After the Rain, 1933
Dora Maar

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Moon Landscape, 1925
Max Beckmann

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Laziness, 1896 
Félix Vallotton

Monday, January 28, 2013

Self-Portrait with Sister, 1900
Edward Steichen

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Dream of the Future, 1899
Paul D'Anton
from Hockey: Canada's Royal Winter Game by Arthur Farrell

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sueño No. 1: "Articulos eléctricos para el hogar", ca. 1950
Grete Stern

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dancer, ca. 1874
Edgar Degas

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Florence Peterson Reading, 1909-10
Paul Burty Haviland