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Poem of the Week

The Day the Cheering Stopped


was the day the looting began

by young white men in bandanas

who knew they'd soon be masters,

they riot to let everyone know

they will get their way

darkness descends

on America or maybe it's a summer rain

how much I want everything

to be easy (how easy I have it

if I can want that) every day

I go to the roof

& look farther, longer


let's sleep till it's over

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Crime scene

A brick ... a bird ... a body... 

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Mr Milton

A joy to hear "Paradise Lost" last night, thanks to the Red Bull Theater and my friend Carol, an actor who told me about & participated in this reading. Actors performing poetry often go against the language or lean on the rhythm in order to be dramatic. This group understood that the language IS the drama; they spoke clearly & understood what they were saying. Part 2 in 2 weeks. 

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Monday Quote

You can build a throne with bayonets, but it's difficult to sit on it. 

~ Boris Yeltsin


And yet, strongmen through the ages try & try & try.

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Men I love

When I'm not in bed, they are generally in this mirror posture. Johnny loves Lefty. Lefty loves Johnny. Sleeping. 

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Nell Blaine

Strolled over to Tibor de Nagy gallery to get a burst of spring in the flower paintings & watercolors of Nell Blaine (1922-1996). She had polio as an adult & had to relearn to paint, left-handed. Imagine that! Show is there till April 24.

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The Painter and the Thief

The Painter and the Thief is a recent Norwegian documentary that is put together so neatly that I had to stop it a couple times to check again that it wasn't scripted. On the spur of the moment, a young man and an acquaintance cut two of Czech painter Barbora Kysilkova's large paintings out of their frames in a Oslo gallery. Somehow she meets him & they become friends. Of a sort. It is interesting to see a woman artist with a male muse, his attempts to get clean, their attempts to be honest with one another. In a way they are both serious artists, although she has found a medium to pour herself into & he has only drugs. 

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A few of us wearing the headbands Jun Shihan Alisa gave us as a thank you for keeping her spirits & training up. 

Every once in a while I want to say here that karate continues & it's great. Mostly I'm part of an informal black belt review, & I've grown to appreciate our coterie more & more. In regular classes there's not much personal interaction—we follow the teacher—but since this isn't a class, we chat more, assist each other with karate, celebrate non-karate successes & events. Rank, which is usually very rigid, is relaxed so everyone gets to be competent & helpful when they know something. I love karate now more than ever before. 

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Grandma Alice

The past is our favorite place to go. ~ Edward Foster

Happy 136th birthday to my grandmother, Alice Woodland Phillips (1885-1982), on the right in this picture with her four sisters, Nellie, Jessie, Eva, and May. I knew all of them. I was at Eva's 100th birthday party in 1979 in Cowbridge, just outside of Cardiff. She had one of those chuckle-laughs that made everyone around her laugh along. Auntie May I visited many times in Cardiff—I adored her. We had a real friendship. Jessie & Nellie I didn't know as well. Their mother was Annie Spruce, who married Bill Woodland and had 10 or 11 kids, all of whom or all but one of whom survived into adulthood. Annie, known as Nana, lived to be 100 or thereabouts & most of the others lived into their 90s. In my family someone is "taken so young," always said in hushed tones, if they only make it to 80. 

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Monday Quote

The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.

– Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)


I find this so profound & am unable to say why it appeals to me so much. Maybe it's that I love the world in all its quotidian glory, & don't need supernatural or spiritual explanations to be awed by everything around me. 

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So funny to see this for sale, at a ridiculous price. Though anyone can charge whatever they want; it doesn't mean they'll get it or that the magazine is worth it. What is worth what? Oh, don't get sidetracked. Here's this little magazine we did 40+ years ago, with construction paper covers &—delicately not mentioned here—a nude male poet as a centerfold. We thought poetry was boring so we should spice it up. I mean, we loved poetry but still, wouldn't it be better with naked men? Eventually we did a calendar with 12 naked poets & then that was the end of it. Even I had had enough of naked men. 


Buy it & join the fun! Not that we get a cut. 

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Gary Lenhart (1947-2021)

Ah, they all hurt but this death is really cutting me up. Gary was part of our small coterie of same-generation poets at the Poetry Project from the late '70s into the 80s. He was a peer, a friend, part of my daily life, a mensch, a soft-spoken guy who I can't remember ever being angry or rude. Once, early on, I told him it was my birthday (it wasn't) & he bought me a hamburger at the Grassroots bar on St Marks, where we all hung out after readings. When I fessed up, he was completely fine about it. He didn't feel tricked or taken advantage of. Never working the angles or caring if anyone else did. No reproach. I hadn't seen him a lot since he & Louise moved to New Hampshire, at least 25 years ago, but it always seemed like he would be around & we would pick up where we left off. A nice guy and a good poet. 

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Poem of the Week

Halldis Moren Vesaas (1907-1995) and her husband, Tarjei Vesaas, are both totally great. Here's one of her best-known poems, followed by a version by me based on the Norwegian & 2 translations, neither of which satisfied me. You can listen to it here (the clip is mislabeled). A bit of it was featured in a 2019 Norwegian movie I liked a lot called Barn (in English, it was called Beware of Children although "barn" means just "children"). 



Ord Over Grind


Du går fram til mi inste grind 

og eg går òg fram til di. 

Innanfor den er kvar av oss einsam, 

og det skal vi alltid bli. 


Aldri trenge seg lenger fram, 

var lova som gjaldt oss to. 

Anten vi møttest titt eller sjeldan 

var møtet tillit og ro. 


Står du der ikkje ein dag eg kjem 

fell det meg lett å snu 

når eg har stått litt og sett mot huset 

og tenkt på at der bur du. 


Så lenge eg veit du vil kome iblant 

som no over knastrande grus 

og smile glad når du ser meg stå her, 

skal eg ha ein heim i mitt hus. 

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