Friday, April 30, 2010

“A Certain Slant of Sunlight”

Good morning, folks, & a happy Friday to you all. As promised way back in early April, here’s the second featured poem by Ted Berrigan.

While the poem posted in early April, “Personal Poem #9,” came from a relatively early point in Berrigan’s career, “A Certain Slant of Sunlight” is a late poem. The title clearly refers to Emily Dickinson’s great poem “There’s A Certain Slant of Light,” & like that poem, explores the emotions surrounding memory & loss—the way these can be triggered by a seemingly small thing—the angle of the light. However, in Berrigan’s poem, we’re completely “unstuck” in both time & space, as he moves between St Mark’s Place & Colorado in 1980 & wherever he finds himself on the day of his first communion, 1941 (Berrigan grew up in Providence, Rhode Island). Where the lyric “I” is located at any given moment becomes ambiguous—as each of our locations become uncertain & fluid when we’re flooded with memory.

In other news: Blues fans among you also might consider navigating over to Just a Song, where I have a post about Robert Johnson’s great “Terraplane Blues.” Next month on Robert Frost's Banjo, poem-wise? Another of my favorite poets—first Thursday & final Friday poems by Mina Loy.

But for now, hope you enjoy this fine poem!

A Certain Slant of Sunlight

In Africa the wine is cheap, and it is
on St. Mark's Place too, beneath a white moon.
I'll go there tomorrow, dark bulk hooded
against what is hurled down at me in my no hat
which is weather: the tall pretty girl in the print dress
under the fur collar of her cloth coat will be standing
by the wire fence where the wild flowers grow not too tall
her eyes will be deep brown and her hair styled 1941 American
        will be too; but
I'll be shattered by then
But now I'm not and can also picture white clouds
impossibly high in blue sky over small boy heartbroken
to be dressed in black knickers, black coat, white shirt,
        buster-brown collar, flowing black bow-tie
her hand lightly fallen on his shoulder, faded sunlight
across the picture, mother & son, 33 & 7, First Communion
        Day, 1941—
I'll go out for a drink with one of my demons tonight
they are dry in Colorado 1980 spring snow.

Ted Berrigan

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Deportees, part 2

Good afternoon, folks! Thanks to everybody who's stopped by to comment on this morning's post & thanks to Raquelle, Lizzy & Scotty for re-posting or otherwise responding to the post on Facebook & Twitter. For instance, Lizzy posted a link to an interesting article about how GOP fears that Hispanic voters will turn certain swing states to the Democrats have been a factor in this law - not to mention 11 others currently under contemplation in 10 other states: Utah, Georgia, Colorado, Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina, Texas (two separate initiatives), Missouri, Oklahoma & Nebraska. I know there are some Robert Frost's Banjo regulars from at least a few of those states, so hope this can be a heads up.

Some points came up in the discussion on the morning's post that I felt merited an airing beyond the comments section. A couple of people brought up the activities of Mexican drug cartels along the Arizona border. A good friend, who's a sincere & thoughtful man, suggested that Arizona was forced to take this action because of drug violence, & because of the federal government's unwillingness to confront this (I believe he meant with military force, but this wasn't specifcally stated). I can understand the feeling behind the argument - the violence associated with the big drug business is horrific & appalling. But I do question whether this law is going to have much affect on that in the long term (assuming it's not repealed). I suspect that the drug cartels will find ways around this, just as organized crime found ways around police & FBI activities during Prohibition, & just as various crime organizations have continued to find ways around all the other "crackdowns" of the prolonged "drug war." Do I think the ultimate answer is legalization - yes, but that's a topic for another time. I can tell you that I favor legalization as a non-user; I'm a recovering alcoholic & drug addict who has not had a drink or drug since the spring of 1980, so I don't believe I'd be lining up waiting for the state marijuana store to open.

I do think the federal government should take a role in the problem of undocumented workers. However, I believe the most effective role the government could take would be to address the impact of big agribusiness on small farmers both in the U.S. & globally - Russell Means, one of the founders of the American Indian Movement, & a man with complicated politics, but a man who is definitely not a leftist by any stretch of the imagination (he was recruited to run for nomination as Libertarian presidential candidate in the 1980s) states: "With people no longer needed on the land, food production has been taken over by corporate agribusiness, the beneficiary of enormous government subsidies that place them among America's biggest welfare recipients" (I'll be writing more on Means' autobiography in a future post). I also believe it's past time for the government to seriously consider the impact of NAFTA on economies in Central & South America.

But I'm a liberal sort - of course I'd oppose the law. Let's look at what some noted conservatives are saying:

Virginia Governor Republican Bob McDonnell: "I'm concerned about the whole idea of carrying papers and always having to be able to prove your citizenship. That brings up some shades of some other regimes that weren't necessarily helpful to democracy."

Karl Rove (!?!): “I think there is going to be some constitutional problems with the bill. I wished they hadn’t passed it, in a way.”

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge (Bush appointee) says he's "uncomfortable" with Arizona's new immigration law, because it allows police to question people without probable cause.

Florida Republican candidate Marco Rubio has major “concerns.”

Lindsey Graham & Tom Tancredo (Republicans both) question whether the law is constitutional.

The legislation also was opposed by the The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, tho they have pledged to uphold it now that it's passed.

It's also worth pondering that a man with very conservative credentials - Barry Goldwater himself - believed the problem needed to be attacked at its source. As quoted in the article linked to above:

But significantly, Goldwater realized that at the root, the U.S. needed "increased cooperation with the countries that are sending illegal aliens." He believed that U.S. businesses should work with those abroad to "[h]elp providing economic incentives to encourage residents to remain in their native lands."

This all moves away from my main point in the morning post - & what I want to remain my main point - that we need to humanize this debate. But I believe it's necessary to look for truly effective, rather than expedient means to address such large problems.


Happy Thursday, folks—a day to turn to another of the more serious topics I’ve written about lately.

I’m sure most of our U.S. friends are familiar with the recent Arizona immigration law—if not, you can read about it here on the Huffington Post. Closer to home, at least in terms of blog community, I’d also recommend two recent posts by Citizen K on this topic, which you can read here & here. As is always the case with this redoubtable blogger, K has done his homework on the issue & he provides a great perspective.

I’d like to take a moment to look at the issue from a somewhat different point of view, however, one that's not about party politics & policy, but simply about basic human values. It seems there’s a lot of talk these days about “illegal aliens” & “illegals.” Is it that hard to understand these terms as de-humanizing? These are human beings who are crossing the border—they have families, & they’re looking for work—in fact, migrant workers are subject to probably the worst wage slavery in this country, since not only do they work at very difficult jobs for menial pay, but they’re always subject to arrest & deportation—a chilling grip on any man or woman in the hands of an unscrupulous employer.

As an illustration of the type of work done by migrant farm workers, I’m reminded of a time when I was around 20 years old. I was down on my luck, battling a bad drug/alcohol problem & flat broke. I knew a fellow my age whose family owned an apple orchard in northern Vermont. Besides being tapped out, I was also under the spell of John Steinbeck (without the necessary knowledge to really understand his writing) & decided maybe I’d just chuck it all & become a migrant worker. I remember what my friend told me—he said that sometimes locals applied for work at the orchards but they invariably quit within a couple of days—the work was simply too hard unless you were doing it because everything depended on it. I’ve never forgotten that.

Woody Guthrie recognized this—the tragic humanity of the situation, & the role that these workers were & are playing in a larger (at this point, global) economy. He wrote a song about it—actually, a set of lyrics that were found in his papers after his death. The music was added later by Marty Hoffman. If you’d like to read more about Guthrie’s “Deportees,” I’d refer you to Citizen K’s other blog project, Just a Song. But in the meantime, please take a couple of minutes to listen to Arlo Guthrie sing his father’s words, & ponder their deep meaning. This song's full of the kind of truth that’s so simple & obvious it ought to smack us in the face, but how often we choose to neglect it!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Adams County Makes the News - Council Leader #7

The Council Leader
Ivan M. Durrell, Editor and Publisher


Council, Washington County, Idaho

March 25, 1910

Yes, clean up. Ask your wife if housecleaning time is not the main idea at this season. Let’s get together and show the women that we men can become filled with the same spirit, can show the same pride in clean streets, alleys and backyards that the women show in clean houses. And right now is the time to begin.

Don’t wait. In a few days, the town will be filled with home-seekers—people who have grown tired of eastern ways, people who are looking for a better place to make their homes, people who are looking for better conditions. Surely we cannot afford to let them come into our town and find things in so filthy a condition as they will be if we don’t get together at once. It is a blow to our pride, we realize, to know that things are as they are, but it is true. The streets, alleys, and backyards are simply rotten, no other word will describe it. Now is the time to get at it and clean up. Let us inaugurate a movement that will cause out neighboring towns to turn green with envy. We can get busy in such a way that will turn the eyes of the whole state on Council. We have been advertised all over the country as being in the center of the greatest apple-growing district in the world. Why not be advertised as being the cleanest little town in Idaho?

July 5, 1910

Council is the only town in Washington County that is using the Rocky Mountain Bell Telephone exchange, and the time is near at hand when the people of this vicinity will be operating an independent telephone exchange with decent instruments and at a reasonable charge. The time is nearing an end when the large corporations can extend an arm and hold the common people in their grip, unable to move, while they serve them with anything they want and at any price they wish to charge. Why should we be bound under the grip of this mighty corporation while our sister towns are enjoying their freedom? A meeting of the telephone users and those interested in the welfare of Council is called to be held at the Bowman-Holmes Company’s office next Wednesday evening, and every person desiring to maintain a telephone in his place of business is earnestly requested to be present.

July 15, 1910

Owing to the infinitely rotten service given the people of Council and Council Valley by the Rocky Mountain Bell Telephone Company, together with the exorbitant charges inflicted upon the people residing herein, a meeting of all persons interested is hereby called to be held at the office of the Bowman-Holmes Company, in Council on Wednesday July 20th at 8:30 p.m. to take steps to organize an Independent Telephone Company.

This matter is of vital importance and should have the attention of everyone interested in the welfare of the Council Valley district, and if the people will but stand together, it will be a matter of only a few weeks until we will have decent telephone service and that too at a reasonable charge.


April 22, 1910

E.W. Bowman purchased a five-passenger White Steamer Touring automobile to be used to transport the land seekers over the valley. Mr. Bowman, with his worthy partner C. W. Holmes, has built up a very profitable real estate business, and this summer they expect to locate several new families on Council Valley apple soil. The auto will come in very handy as now-a-days a team is too slow for the rushing real estate business that is going on in Council Valley. Several families already came to Council this spring and are well satisfied that this is the prime apple district in the northwest. With a family living and prospering on every ten acres of Council Valley’s superior ground, we will be living in a city of fruit ranches in a very few years, where prosperity and liberty can never be excelled.

August 15, 1910
Submitted by E. W. Bowman

Council is growing and there is no reason why the town should not be a trifle more progressive. There is no reason why that part of town development the responsibility for which rests solely on the broad shoulders of the city’s manly councilmen should have been dropped with a dull and sickening thud.

To illustrate: last summer there was much activity, there was a vivid and glorious awakening astir and a general movement toward progress on the part of the city council. The people are still working for town advancement, but the council—well, the council has apparently been ushered into the whitherness of the whence. During that brief period of general activity, there was an ordinance passed-- marvelous effort—and it was a sidewalk ordinance. It provided that when the walks about town in the business section should have passed the age of usefulness, cement walks should be laid. As a result, some good walks were laid—a part of the main business street was paved, but when the east side of Billie Brown’s place was reached, there was a sudden cessation of the good work, and the aged board walk that for lo these many years has been a menace was permitted to lie on in undisturbed and ghastly agedness.

A year has passed. Another winter’s snows have dissolved beneath the warm
spring Chinook, and still the walk remains. Slowly, the decay of time eats into the life of the wood thereof while the honored city council sleepeth. In the dark silences of night, some good Samaritan nails down a loose board, causing the Thomas kittens which ramble around beneath this artery of commerce to crawl up from under the side instead coming straight through as is their wont and privilege. Another charming stroll that first greets the new arrival, is the stretch that extends from the depot. This was to have been a cement walk a long weary year ago. To the careless and casual observer, it still bears a marked resemblance to wood. But what’s the use? The city council sleepeth the long sleep. Perhaps by heroic effort or miracle they may again awaken.

E. W. Bowman

compiled by Eberle Umbach

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


[This stunningly beautiful poem concludes the second part of B.N.'s Journey Music manuscript. I know you'll enjoy it!]


Tonight is only the page I lingered over,
Feeling an easy sadness for a photograph
Of Freud's beloved chows, the way the
Light lilts on the paper and my girlhood
Becomes a small boat on a huge horizon,

The way sleep untangles the reasons between us.
We are as uncomplicated as water as unwashed as salt.
The neighborhood's gone to hell and to the sleepless.
We are walking inside the houses

Across the room, from the chair to the table,
Toward the vase of flowers to the door,
Out the door to stand ashen under porch lights.

We rise each morning to the rush of tap-water,
Like little kites . And it's good to
Share in such simple relief. Farewell,
To twisted ecstatic sheets, the terrible bleary-eyed
Songs from a portable radio on the kitchen counter.
America is one big fat memory for insomniacs.

Tonight, I would give anything
To touch the world's face, to see the crowds'
Cheeks fill with sparks of dust,
Dirtied only by regret, and I, with my finger tip
Could wipe it all away.

Tonight is the piece of paper
On which the dark writes its name
That wants only to be made clean again.
And at this hour the trees along the street
Let go their leaves like the old book left
Open on the red arm chair.

© to the author, 1983-2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Brokedown Engine Blues

It’s Monday again, & a musical one at that. We’re back with a bit of the blues this morning—yours truly taking on the great Blind Willie McTell’s “Brokedown Engine Blues”—tho, I hasten to add, the arrangement I’m using is quite a bit different than McTell’s.

In other news: I had my first gig at the Council outdoor city market for the season on Saturday—51 songs, 4 hours, all blues. That’s the mantra for this performing season—no more dabbling in oldtime country & folk—nothing against those forms of music. I’m just staying with my strongest suit. I’ll be performing at the City Market each month thru the spring & summer, & Eberle & I are booked for the grand opening of a store in Cambridge in early June. I’ll also be looking into performing opportunities in the McCall area, both solo & with my confreres, as the weather at that elevation improves.

McCall is situated over a mile high & still has snow on the ground. Down in this part of the world the tulips & daffodils are blooming &, as some of you may have seen on yesterday’s post, the yellow-headed blackbirds are back, a sure sign that high spring is right around the corner. I also gassed up the lawnmowers yesterday—another sign of the same thing
— & am happy to report they didn’t have the “brokedown engine blues!”

Hope you enjoy the video & have a good Monday!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Photo of the Week 4/25/10

Yellow-headed Blackbird in one of our willows – Friday morning, April 23rd

Please check out today's post at The Days of Wine & Roses; it's a poem called "Canzone."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sepia Saturday 4/24/10

Happy Sepia Saturday, folks! This may be the last of the CCC themed posts, as I seem to have culled the best of those images from my Dad’s album. But never fear: I have lots more old family photos to share on upcoming Sepia Saturdays.

As the last in the CCC series, I thought I’d offer a little background information about the Civilian Conservation Corps. It’s almost 70 years since the program was disbanded, so its history has faded—& I’ve been pleased to see that blogmates from other countries have expressed interest in knowing more about the CCC. The information in this post comes from Wikipedia.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program for unemployed men, providing vocational training through the performance of useful work related to conservation and development of natural resources in the United States from 1933 to 1942. As part of the New Deal legislation proposed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the CCC was designed to aid relief of the unemployment resulting from the Great Depression while implementing a general natural resource conservation program on federal, state, county and municipal lands in every U.S. state, including the territories of Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The CCC became one of the more popular New Deal programs among the general public, providing economic relief, rehabilitation and training for a total of 3 million men. The CCC also provided a comprehensive work program that combined conservation, renewal, awareness and appreciation of the nation's natural resources. The CCC was never considered a permanent program and depended on emergency and temporary legislation for its existence. On June 30, 1942 Congress voted to eliminate funding for the CCC, formally ceasing active operation of the program.

During the time of the CCC, volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide that would become the start of most state parks, forest fire fighting methods were developed and a network of thousands of miles of public roadways and buildings were constructed connecting the nation's public lands.
Hope you enjoy the pictures & the background info on the CCC. Please be sure to visit other Sepia Saturday participants. You can find links to all participating blogs here.

Info on the photos:
  • Shorty Gentile [R]; John Barbosa [L]; John E Hayes [m]; July 1935, Townsend, Vermont [in my Dad’s handwriting on the back—he would have been 21 at that time]
  • The completed stone house
  • Walter Mack; Stephan Danko; John E Hayes; Victor Burnett – Hayes’ crew – masonry 1935-36 [again, in my Dad’s writing. I don’t know if this was supposed to read from L to R or R to L, but I can tell you my Dad is second from the left]

Friday, April 23, 2010

“Adventures Of A Toe”

As proof that, given enough time, everything comes back around on Robert Frost’s Banjo, I’m posting one of my translations. Long time readers will remember the Translation Tuesday series—while I won’t be going back to a weekly series, I will be posting one or two each month.

Today’s translation—one I did in the 1990s—is from the poem “Aventures d'un orteil” by surrealist Benjamin Péret, from his 1928 collection Le Grand Jeu (The Big Game—sometimes translated as The Great Game). I translated this entire work during the 90s, so I very much immersed myself in Péret’s work.

Speaking of my days translating 20th century French poems, I just wanted to remind folks about my Alcools blog. There are new posts to Alcools each Monday morning (U.S. Mountain Time!), each being one of my translations from Apollinaire’s 1913 masterpiece of the same title. The poems appear in the same order as in the book itself.

In the meantime, hope you enjoy this fun poem by Péret!

Adventures Of A Toe

Get out of the urn
the hortensia said to his accomplice
And you likewise Hortense answered the mandolin
which wasn't a mandolin except under the cover of sunlight
or of a dime fallen at night into a ravine
The dime pricks up like a queen
and says to the rocks with trembling lips
The big crime will take place tomorrow
but there's no crime without a hat
        there's no crime without sparks
        there's no crime without potash
        there's no crime without sheep
And the big crime won't take place
because the earth is empty
Eyes break it off with their specs
and the ministers suppress the hearses
that encumber the Milky Way

Benjamin Péret
translation by Jack Hayes, © 1990-2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

“Natural Resources”

Happy Thursday, everybody. Today, as most know, is also Earth Day, & in honor of that I’m posting a piece by Utah Phillips & Ani DiFranco that really connects the dots about how environmental issues connect to other important matters. As many know, I’m a huge fan of the late Utah Phillips, & his unlikely pairing with folk-punker DiFranco produced a truly beautiful album, The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere.

In other news: Eberle & I are enjoying a visit from our good friend Margot K & her daughter Iris, out here in the Wild West all the way from Concord, Massachusetts! We’re having a wonderful time, but it has cut into blogging time & especially on time for blog visits. But I’ll be catching up soon!

Finally, I want to quote a simple line posted by Bay Area friend Scott H. on his Facebook profile today:

“if you don't make every day earth day, it doesn't really count. grab a new habit!”

You said a mouthful there, Scott!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Adams County Makes the News - Council Leader #6

The Council Leader
Ivan M. Durrell, Editor and Publisher
Council, Washington County, Idaho

April 28, 1910

Last week the Associated Press sent broadcast over the nation the startling announcement that Missouri hens, strictly up to date, were laying “comet” eggs: eggs with tails to ‘em. In one instance the appendage was one inch in length and in another, two inches.

A wise old Meadows hen, hearing this wonderful story—by wireless on chicken telepathy— dusted herself, shook her plumage, and said to her spouse in chanticleer talk, “Humph! Idaho can beat Missouri any day!” And when Mrs. M. E. Keisur, the owner of this wise old fowl, went into her henhouse last Monday morning, lo and behold! The feat was accomplished: there lay a “comet” egg with a tail over five inches in length and more than an inch broad at the outer end. The boss chanticleer of the flock then crowed with lusty pride, “Oh, Missouri ain’t so much!”

Meadows Eagle

February 15, 1910

The Mesa Orchard Co. has started to haul the lumber for their seven-mile flume. With the completion of this flume, the big canal will be ready to deliver water to the orchards.

September 30, 1910

An expert orchardist declares that they are the best ever produced: “I believe there are more perfect apples to the tree in Council than any other spot on earth. I believe Council valley is on the map to remain for many years to come as the best commercial apple growing section of the northwest.”


For Sale Cheap—Ten cords of No. 1 sawdust. Fred Cool.

For a nice refreshing drink of soda water go to Billie Brown’s

At the baby contest in Cambridge on the Fourth, Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Ward’s one-year-old baby boy won first prize.

The strawberry crop was unusually large this year. Mr. Whitney gathered nearly two hundred gallons from his strawberry vines.

Butter wrappers available at The Leader.

April 30, 1909

We are having rainy weather the past two days and the hills are beginning to get green once more.

Harry Brown, traveling salesman for the Ogden Candy Co., accompanied by his wife arrived in town on Monday’s stage.

Little Orpha McCully has been very ill with typhoid fever.

April 8, 1910

Always iron lace on the right side first, and then on the wrong side to throw up the pattern.

When ironing laces, cover them with clean white tissue paper. This prevents the shiny look seen on washed laces.

Use corn flour instead of ordinary starch for stiffening laces.

Laces and other delicate trifles should be placed in a muslin bag before being boiled. This prevents their getting torn and lost in the wash.

April 15, 1910

A Boosters Club was organized a few days ago for the purpose of promoting the development of Council and Council Valley. Only those who are interested in the development of the town and country are eligible for membership. The agitation of good roads and a cleaner and better town will be among the foremost actions the new club will dwell upon.

July 8, 1910
The Council baseball team went to Payette Lakes and played a couple games during the Fourth of July celebration there. The first day they played the Meadows team and won by a large margin. The second day they played the Roseberry team and walked off with another easy victory.

July 8, 1910

The Fourth was passed very quietly by most of the Cottonwood people. Earl and Glenn Kiser went to Weiser. Several went to Middle Fork fishing. There was a family reunion at the home of Mrs. Moser, all of her children being present except the oldest daughter.

compiled by Eberle Umbach

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Dating Poems" (installment #1)

[L.E. Leone's most recent poetic foray is a sequence called Dating Poems; we'll be posting them two at a time over the next few weeks. Enjoy!]


Thank you for the reading
glasses. That was one of the
most thoughtful, least romantic
gestures ever made by any man
to me.

I liked your hat, but prefer
my words blurry,


Sorry I didn’t invite you
in. I know
you wanted it, but
would have died
of boredom. One-sided
conversation is not a
turn-on, tropical
fish and auto-
cross: not
my favorite topics.

Our third date, like the
second, will be our last,
but thank you, Charlie,
for the rose, the hamburger,
and all that time
to chew.

L.E. Leone
© 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

"The Wind in the Willows"

It’s another Musical Monday here at Robert Frost’s Banjo, & today we’re showcasing our Alice in Wonder Band song of the month.

What better song title for an April song than “The Wind in the Willows”? April is a blustery month in many places as the old winter season is scattered on the winds & the trees & flowers start putting forth their foliage & blossoms. Because there’s a high water table on our land (which is a mixed blessing), willows thrive around us. There’s the willow outside my office window that crops up in my poems, & there are the willow trees we see out our kitchen window (the dishwashing window) where birds congregate in the feeders. Along the ridgeline at the northwestern side of our property, there’s a profusion of willow shrubs—willow weed as Eberle calls them. They’re useful trees—she has used them, for instance, to make pea trellises & a fence, & they also can be woven into baskets.

As I recall, Eberle’s song “The Wind in the Willows” dates from the Alice in Wonder Band’s second year, 2003. At that point we had three talented melody instrumentalists: Art Troutner on oboe, Bob George on clarinet & Lois Fry on violin. Eberle decided we should have showcase pieces for all three of these folks—Art’s will come up later this year, & Bob’s already has appeared on Robert Frost’s Banjo—it was Eberle’s arrangment of Satie’s Three Gymnopédies, which you can listen to at your leisure here, here & here.

Lois’s piece was “The Wind in the Willows”—it’s actually been posted before, in the "teaser" post for Lois’ Musical Questions interview (only long-time readers will recall that series). You can read Lois’ interview here. But in the meantime, please listen to Lois’ beautiful violin work! She is backed by Eberle on piano & yours truly on electric bass (all the showcase pieces were trios). The recording dates from June 2004.

Pic at the top of the post shows Lois with violin at a show at Bistro 45; Deadre Chase, our singer is behind her, & drummers Deb Cahill (R) & Barb Dixon (L) are in the background. The photo was taken by our late friend, the very talented photographer Earl Brockman.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Photo of the Week 4/18/10

Rainbow over Sage Hill, Indian Valley - Tuesday April 13th

Please check out today's post at The Days of Wine & Roses; it's a poem called "Journal."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sepia Saturday 4/17/10

Happy Sepia Saturday folks! This time around I’m only posting one photo, but I believe it’s an interesting one. The photo shows what I assume to be all the men in my dad’s CCC unit—145 Company. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, 145 Company was assigned to build a stone house in the Townsend, VT state park.

According to blog friend Jacqueline T. Lynch, whose post on the CCC in western Massachusetts should be required reading for anyone interested in the corps, a “class photo” of this type may be somewhat unusual. I had the opportunity of sharing this photo album with Jacqueline when we had a chance to meet for lunch in Chicopee, Massachusetts during my recent cross-country trip.

The photo has faded with age, as have quite a number of images in the album. Still, it shows the men generally in what appear to be high spirits. There are also a few interesting nicknames—“Homebrew,” “Pirate” (yes, that’s my dad), “Cop” & “Black Jal” (or should that be “Black Jack”—I don’t suppose we’ll ever know). I suspect the man called “Needham” was nicknamed after his home town (Needham, Massachusetts), but it could be a surname.

I’d love to see a contemporary version of the CCC employed to work on public infrastucture projects—the condition of many roads & bridges in the U.S. are really quite woeful—but sadly, in our current political climate any such “radical” idea would probably have very little chance of success. I do know that the people I’ve known who were working class young adults under the Roosevelt administration all believed very much in his programs & credited him with pulling the U.S. out of the Depression. I also know that some folks from that time who were from wealthier backgrounds despised Roosevelt. These days I hear from some conservative folks that Roosevelt prolonged the Depression—I’m not an economic historian, but I can say this was not the belief of the working class folks who actually lived thru it.

There is a CCC legacy in several programs, mostly serving teens & people in their early 20s. Those who are interested can read more about them on Wikipedia’s CCC page (toward the bottom) or at Wikipedia’s National Civilian Community Corps page. I’m pleased to say that my home state utilizes one of those organizations, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps.

Please be sure to check out other Sepia Saturday participants at this link!

Friday, April 16, 2010

National Day of Silence

Happy Friday, folks. I wanted to take a moment to draw your attention to Audrey's latest post on the Ms Blog: the post is titled "“Day of Silence” Protests Anti-LGBT Bullying." As Audrey's post explains:

On April 16, hundreds of thousands will choose silence as a way to “speak out” for a good cause. Around the country, students from middle schools, junior highs, high schools, colleges and universities will take part in the 15th Annual Day of Silence, sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). By remaining silent for all or part of the day, participating students will symbolically call attention to the silence surrounding anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.

The rhetoric of anger & intolerance is most certainly heating up in this country, & the atmosphere it creates brings with it a sense of foreboding. Perhaps if young people can find a way toward more tolerance & acceptance, we can have some hope for a future where anger & hatred aren't the national political norm. It will be a long struggle to reach a tolerable level of live & let live. William S. Burroughs once characterized the U.S. as a country "where nobody minds their own business." This characteristic hasn't diminished in the years since Burroughs made that statement.

To my mind, the national mood of intolerance & the phenomenon of schoolhouse bullying about sexual orientation are cut from the same cloth. It should be noted also that such bullying often expands it field to include all sorts of "otherness." On the National Day of Silence website, there's a story about an 11-year-old boy who took his own life after being harrassed about his sexual orientation despite the fact that he didn't identify himself as gay. An isolated incident? I don't know from statistics, but I can tell you I suffered the same harrassment - both verbal & physical - in grade school & early high school years & I myself am straight. But I didn't fit the "mold." So this Day of Silence is about accepting our brothers & sisters who are gay, but it's also about accepting those who don't "fit."

One small thing we can do is spread the word. If you're on Twitter, please consider tweeting a link to Audrey's Ms. Blog piece and start your tweet #ff @dayofsilence. It would be great if the National Day of Silence could be #1 on Twitter's "follow Friday." Why would this be important? Anyone who watches or listens to any form of news in this country knows that politicians are mad for statistics. A show of support for the National Day of Silence on Twitter would send a message.

Thanks for your time!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Adams County Makes the News - Council Leader #5

The Council Leader
Ivan M. Durrell, Editor and Publisher
Council, Washington County, Idaho

April 1, 1910

For one dollar we will send you three handsomely lithographed, but worthless, stock certificates, which you can fill out yourself for any amount, and have lots of fun showing them to your friends as proof that you are wealthy. These certificates appear to represent railway, gold mining, and insurance enterprises and look just like the “real thing”, but must not be used to realize money on. One sample for fifty cents. Send two-cent stamp for illustrated circular. Independent printing companies, Washington, D.C.

August 6, 1909

The name “Weiser” is being placed on the mound in the park at the Short Line Depot. Weiser has the prettiest park on the line from Pocatello to Weiser, and it is intended to still further beautify it by the addition of flowers and trees.
Weiser Signal

Sure thing the Weiser park is the prettiest on the line, and why shouldn’t it be since it is made from good, rich, black Council Valley dirt hauled down to Weiser for that purpose. The above justifies our claim that Council Valley dirt is the best for apples, meadows, grains, or parks.

December 3, 1909

The World Herald of Omaha, Nebraska, tells the following story of the Council Valley exhibit at the National Horticultural Congress which recently convened at Council Bluffs, Iowa: The representatives of Idaho at the show are extremely enthusiastic over the gigantic project of the Council Mesa Orchard company, which is preparing to set out the greatest orchard in the world, on the famous Mesa or bench lands located in Council Valley.

J. A. Carr, who is in charge of the Council Valley exhibit which has taken so many prizes at the show this year, said yesterday: “Idaho does not have to take a back seat for any state in the Union when it comes to growing fruit. This Council Mesa proposition is a great undertaking and when it is carried out in detail, will be a revelation. Four thousand acres of orchard, cut up into five and ten-acre tracts, each tract to have electrical transportation facilities, each home on each tract to have electric lights, are some of the things contemplated in the project.

“Eighty thousand apple trees have been ordered for next year’s planting on the Mesa, the varieties being Jonathon, Rome Beauty, and Winesap, three of the most popular commercial varieties. Experts have told us that this is the finest apple soil in America, and I believe them. It seems to me that the man who is fortunate enough to get one of these tracts will make a fortune out of it.”

Oregon’s exhibit is small but meritorious. Another exhibit that has proven a drawing card is the citrus products of Florida.

December 3, 1909

Last Friday, in a telegram to Mayor Busse of Chicago, Governor Brady said: On behalf of the people of Idaho, I desire to present to Chicago orphans, through you and the united charities of your city, 3000 Jonathon apples which took the grand prize at the National Horticultural Congress.

March 25, 1910

Mr. Fuller of Spokane made a trip to the valley last week in search of a home. Mr. Fuller reports that several people in Weiser told him that he would find this valley covered with a blanket of snow. Weiser should take the hammers out of the hands of these knockers.

February 25, 1910

According to the astronomers, the earth will pass through the tail of Halley’s comet next May, but it is probable that if the astronomers had not found it out, the earth would not have known the difference.

Hailey News Miner

April 28, 1910

All humanity may die laughing May 18, when the earth passes through the tail of Halley’s comet, according to the theory of Carmille Flammarion, the famous French astronomer. By means of the wonderful instrument called the spectroscope, it has been discovered that the comet’s tail is composed of gases called hydrocarbons. These gases might so combine with the nitrogen in the air we breathe that the atmosphere would be converted into the regular “laughing gas” employed by dentists. The world would then die in a “delirium of joy.”

At first, a delightful serenity would settle upon mankind, says Flammarion, and then would follow a contagious gaiety, febrile exaltation, a paroxysm of delight, and then madness. Flammarion even conceives the world merrily dancing a joyous, hysterical sarabrude in which it perishes laughing.
Weiser Signal

compiled by Eberle Umbach

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Far Rockaway"

[Hope you enjoy this fine poem by B.N.]

Far Rockaway

Today even the name makes me drowsy
As the bus ride and ocean air.
Some trick of change, bit of silver shining.
Each time she rode the bus she tried to cheat
The driver out of a dime. And even he

Felt a loss when the used Kleenex fell from
Her purse like angels with wings stained
Claret red. It wasn't so much the money,
Busses were the synagogues then and we
God's emissaries.

When I think of it, summer is like a short guttural
In a dying language and I, half listening, catch a phrase or two
If she doesn't get up and find a husband soon, the birds will
build a nest in her snatch.

Journeys are a succession of rented summer bungalows
And winter apartments, they always belong to someone else.
These dwellings we give back graciously, the floors swept clean
These that are offered generously only in retrospect
And only once did we make it as far as the sea.

We wore scarves in the sun, greeted by multi-colored umbrellas
Set out into a loud fabric—an embroidered tapestry

Where the birds nest, the silver water changes,
The smug dime rests, behind the
folded wings of tissue angels.

© to the author 1983-2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sliding Delta

Happy Monday everyone! Coming at ya this morning with a new installment of the Monday Morning Blues—a few folks have mentioned that they've missed yours truly playing the blues here on Robert Frost’s Banjo, & as the spring/summer performing season will be starting soon, this seemed like a good opportunity to get back to the Monday blues feature. I’m learning several new songs for the upcoming season, so recording will also be a big help to me in that process! Monday Morning Blues probably will be appearing every other week for the foreseeable future.

Today’s number is a Mississippi John Hurt song called “Sliding Delta.” Blues purists would no doubt object to playing the song on a 4-string cigar box guitar, but a purist I’m not. Don’t get me wrong—I have a huge amount of respect for the old-time blues players, but I don’t see that respect means playing note-for-note transcriptions of the original players’ versions. What I try to do is make the songs come alive in the best way I can—which means playing to my own strengths.

The lyrics to “Sliding Delta” are interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the “Sliding Delta” was the name of a train that ran past Hurt’s home in Avalon, Mississippi. My guess would be that the “Sliding Delta” was a branch line of the Illinois Central, which serviced (& continues to service) that area of Mississippi, but that’s just speculation—I can’t find anything very specific about this. The reference to “that big Kate Allen,” that “has ways just like a man” is also intriguing. According to a thread on the excellent Mudcat Café site, this “Kate Allen” is the name of a steamboat on the Mississippi River—which makes sense with the line, “it steals your baby everytime she land.”

For those who missed the cigar box resonator guitar’s maiden voyage here on the Banjo, I should say that the instrument was made by Darren “Big Daddy” Dukes of Back Porch Mojo. It’s a nice instrument & lots of fun to play.

Speaking of fun, hope you enjoy the song!

In other bloggish Monday news: You can hear yours truly playing a much different guitar style, with Eberle playing flute, over on Eberle's Platypuss-in-Boots blog right here!

& if you're in the mood for some French poetry in translation, please stop by my Alcools blog. Today's post is my translation of Apollinaire's "Crépuscule"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Photo of the Week 4/11/10

Goldfinch & Purple Finch at one of our thistle feeders - Monday April 5th

Please check out today's post at The Days of Wine & Roses; it's a prose poem called "Dr Zhivago."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sepia Saturday 4/10/10

If it’s Saturday, it must be Sepia, right? & as I mentioned in last week’s post—when I failed to read the directions & sort of hosted a Sepia Saturday of one—my mother gave me three more family photo albums during my recent trip east, so I’m well stocked on old photos for some time.

I also wrote a bit about my dad’s time in the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, during the Depression & New Deal years—dad was a lifelong Democrat & Roosevelt admirer, proving that contrary to contemporary wisdom, it is possible to be a blue collar worker, veteran & outdoor sportsman & still hold some very liberal opinions.

But then, dad was a complicated & private man—he had the clearsightedness to see how capitalism stacks the deck against the worker, yet he also held some very benighted opinions, particularly when it came to racial issues & women’s issues. & there’s much about him I don’t know—even my mother only has a limited knowledge of his childhood, which was spent in an impoverished & apparently quite dysfunctional family. Then, too, there were glimpses that we only just caught—I recall once during his last years how he told Eberle & me that he’d really wanted to be a stone mason. Somehow that had surprised me, because he’d always worked with wood & tinkered with machines—his passion for stone had never been on the surface.

However, I was able to get a bit more understanding of this from the photo album that has pictures from his CCC days. His CCC unit’s task was to build a stone house at the Vermont State Park in Townsend—that’s the building in the tinted photograph; my dad wrote February 1935 on the back as a point of reference. During construction, however, the CCC crew lived in a tent village—see the bottom photo.

I wonder if those were happy times for my dad—he looks quite sprightly in a number of photos from that album, & he looks quietly happy in the photo leading off this post, where he kneels with hammer & cold chisel. He met my mother during his days at Townsend—she & her mother came there for an outing, tho apparently my grandmother didn’t necessarily approve of this Irish catholic worker paying attention to her daughter!

The photos fill in some of the story—but there are gaps that can’t be filled in now. What do we know of another?—the stream of another consciousness, the moment by moment feelings, the aspirations, the disappointments…. We can know “facts,” but in a twist on an old saw, “facts are not feelings.” Still, these old photos are a window at least to look thru & meditate upon.

For more Sepia Saturday participants, please check out this link!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The News From Here

Happy Friday! I’m back from my one-day unannounced off day. As regular readers know, I’ve been somewhat the worse for the wear over the past several days. What the condition actually was turned out to be a bit of a poser for me & even for some medical folks. Glad to say it was nothing truly dire, & also glad that I ran into a doctor who had the smarts & persistance to figure out the actual condition: costochondritis. For those who don’t know (which would have included me until Wednesday afternoon), this is an inflammation of the cartilege around the sternum, which then often spreads throughout the left side of the body, inflicting various spasms & tinglings & other delights. The good news? It goes away & responds to relatively simple treatments. The bad news? To quote Samuel Beckett: It hurts like hell.

Other interesting facts: as in my case, most cases of costochondritis arise from no clear cause, tho repetitive motion is often a factor; I read that it can arise from a spate of “hearty laughter,” a condition I’m happy to say I do try to indulge in regularly & shall not allow this particular setback to curtail. The treatment regimen involve a lot of anti-flammatory over-the-counter drugs (the “non-steroidal anti-flammatories” or NSAID for those in the know), physical therapy &, in my case because of some chronic neck/shoulder/back issues, accupuncture, tho the latter won’t start till the end of the month. I’ve had one treatment, & it did help—tho what really got me back on my feet was a shot of some souped up “NSAID” on Wednesday—I forget the name of the drug, but wasn’t at my best at the time; anyway, since then the really acute pain is gone.

So here we are in spring, which is springing rather fitfully here in Indian Valley—because I was in just about every state besides Idaho last month, I don’t know much about firsthand March 2010 in these parts, but I must say April so far has been doing a pretty good imitation of March, if not February—cold, some snow (not “sticking”) & generally a bit on the gloomy & blustery side. Ah well. We do get to enjoy the intriguing towhees, which only come around in the "in between times," especially in the late winter & early spring. & high spring in Indian Valley, when it finally comes for real, is truly glorious—we have that to look forward to. I’m also looking forward to playing some music at the local farmer’s markets & elsewhere—performing “season” will be beginning later this month.

& meantime, I’m pondering Robert Frost’s Banjo as it moves into the latter half of its second year. I feel the need for some new direction(s), but I haven’t figured out the specifics yet. Still, now that I seem to be on the road to becoming human again, I’m sure things will be a bit less hazy. I’ll also be moving back into a more regular blog visiting schedule!

Hope you all have a great day!

Pic: Redwinged Blackbird, Rufous-Sided Towhee & House Sparrow at one of our feeders

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Adams County Makes the News - Council Leader #4

The Council Leader
Ivan M. Durrell, Editor and Publisher
Council, Washington County, Idaho

September 17, 1909

Owing to some misunderstanding, school did not commence last Monday as we stated last week. However, everything is straightened up now and the school house doors will be open next Monday morning with the teachers ready to commence their work in earnest.


Electric Bitters will cure that tired feeling. Council Drug Co.

Buy red apple envelopes at the Leader

Walter Yockey, representing the Ohio Match Company, was in Council this week prospecting for timber for match making.

We still have a few boxes of fine eating apples at Cool’s.

Hauk Beier is in the valley this week purchasing supplies for his sheep camp.

For good fat hens at 50 cents, call at Conways.

I have a full line of seed grain, which I will sell at the lowest price consistent with good business. Remember, if you sow poor seed, you will harvest a poor crop. I have No. 1 seed. Come and see it. Fred Cool

October 1, 1909

This issue closes the Leader’s first year of publication in Council. Commencing with a little three-column quarto, the Leader has grown to a six-column folio, or in other words, it has doubled in size. While we have not doubled our capital by any means, we have lived and enjoyed a fair patronage for which we are very greatly obliged to our patrons.

It is our honest intention and earnest endeavor to publish a local paper that would be a credit to the town and vicinity. Whether we have accomplished that end or not we will leave to our readers, but we have tried and we hope that we have.

We have kept out of politics and intend to do so in the future, but if anybody wishes to use the columns of the Leader for political purposes, they may do so by signing their names to the article. We do not deem it wise for a paper in a small town to try to tell his neighbors what to do.

When we arrived in Council a little over a year ago we will frankly admit that we did not think much of the place. But the longer we stayed the better we liked the town and such is the case today. We sincerely believe that Council has the makings of as good and prosperous a town as one would wish to live in. With the support of the people, we will do all we can for the welfare and development of Council Valley.
Ivan M. Durell, Editor.

April 8, 1910

The shawl is now one of the most important articles of dress in Paris.

Unfinished fabrics such as homespun and hopsack basket weaves are popular as novelties.

Sleeves made up in a series of flounces are among the prettiest conceits in dancing frocks.

While skirts may be pleated, they do not express fullness. In Paris there are under-tapes to hold them down.

The sharp-pointed waist is seen now and then in ultra-fashionable costumes, but it is still too radical to be exploited freely.

May 5, 1910

There has been some talk recently about a large sawmill being located at Council. Expert Lumberman D.F. Seerey of Ogden, Utah has been sent here to make an examination of timber and of the possibilities of driving the river from West Fork to Council. Mr. Seerey returned from the timber the first of the week and expressed himself as being much surprised to find so large a body of timber of good quality and so very accessible to market that has not been secured by some large timber company. According to Mr. Seerey’s estimate, there is between 30 and 40 million feet of excellent saw timber within 15 to 20 miles of Council. This timber can all be driven down the river to Council at a very small expense to a good mill site right at the edge of town. A sawmill and planing mill are badly needed at this place and such an enterprise would not only be a money-maker for the investor, but would be a great benefit to the entire valley. Most of the timber is already mature, and the Forest Service is anxious to dispose of it.

July 15, 1910


No short railroad in the west can compare with the P. & I. N. in the smoothness of its roadway. This is the unanimous opinion of everyone who goes over the road. Never in the history of the railroad has the passenger traffic been so heavy as at this time. It seems that the entire city of Weiser as well as Boise and other neighboring towns are going over the P. & I. N. railway to some one of the numerous beautiful resorts on that line.

compiled by Eberle Umbach

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Video Kills The Super-8 Star"

[L.E. takes a look at home movies as they relate forward in time to love affairs. Enjoy!]

Video Kills The Super-8 Star

Close your eyes. Are your eyes still
closed? Is it me you see
on the wall or stretched
bed sheet behind
your eyelids? Super-8
black & white, right? Bouncing
too fast, so fast it hurts, like life and
sex a little sometimes, huh? A foreign film
incomprehensible, or

barely so, and carsick. That’s me,
see, cute dress and knee socks, sitting
on the horsey. That’s me, crying
laughing, running from the camera,
running toward the camera running from
the camera. That’s me, reading my
poems at fill in the name of the S.F.
coffeehouse or smoky small room in Berlin
“Focus, focus!” Fuck, do you see
how the image freezes, edges
burn? That ain’t me. That’s
what I call ducks

in the machinery, or time-lapsed
lasagne—a delicacy these video vegetarians
and their digital offspring, if you think
about it, will never enjoy. The

taste, a searing memory, you

over-underestimate me, shrink
and utter

L.E. Leone
© 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

“On the Road”

Happy Monday, all! I was going to post a “Monday Morning Blues” video—a few folks on the road trip mentioned how much they liked those—but unfortunately, my left arm is probably best allowed to rest for another day or two in hopes of clearing up this muscle pull. If all goes well, I should have a blues song video up either Thursday or Friday.

In the meantime, & speaking of my recent road trip, I’ve been thinking a lot about “road writing;” & so I thought I’d share a video featuring Mr. Road Trip himself, Jack Kerouac. I first read On the Road well over 30 years ago, & reading the novel was a truly riveting experience. Of course, given some of the self-destructive habits of my ill-spent youth, I focused on aspects of the book that seemed to justify those same habits. There’s no question that Kerouac’s writing has its weaknesses: his unabashed glorification of drug use & his sexism are two big ones—there’s a certain amount of silliness to his vision as well. But having said that, I believe he’s still a writer to be reckoned with in terms of style, voice, the manner of assimilating & recounting experience, & the
overall U.S. landscape, both physical & spiritual.

When I speak about poetry & music, this reading from On the Road with Steve Allen on piano (yes, that Steve Allen!) always comes to mind. Hope you enjoy it, too.

Today's post on
Alcools is a one line poem by Apollinaire called "Chantre." The original French reads: "Et l'unique cordeau des trompettes marines" For my English version, check out Alcools!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Photo of the Week 4/4/10

The Weiser River, north of Council, ID - Friday April 2nd

Please check out today's post at The Days of Wine & Roses; it's a prose poem called "Love Song #57."

Saturday, April 3, 2010

More Dad's Photos!

NOTE: In my haste to get this posted, I neglected to notice that there is no "Sepia Saturday" as such this week! But hope you enjoy the pix anyway.

Happy Saturday everybody—I’m a bit late posting this, but am still dealing with the results of a “freak” injury that happened last Monday. In short: yes, it is possible to injure yourself while reading in bed, especially if the reading is done on an air mattress!

& as my father always used to say, “It’s hard to fly on one wing” (tho he meant something very different from a muscle pull when he said that!), but here’s my Sepia Saturday post at last (see note at top!). As some of you know, I recently concluded a cross-country road trip during which I visited my mother in Massachusetts. Much to my delight, & much to the benefit of upcoming Sepia Saturday posts, my mother gave me three old photo albums while I was there—two of my father’s, & one of her family. My father’s albums date from the 1930s, while my mom’s dates from the ‘teens & 20s!

I’m starting out with images from one of my father’s
albums—this one has a number of images from the time when he worked in Townsend, VT for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid 1930s—in fact, I plan on using some of the CCC images for next week’s post. But for today, I thought I’d show three images of my dad—as a “card” (as my mother would say), hamming it up, barefoot & in a sport coat; sitting in his apartment holding the very photo album from which these photos are taken; & as a CCC worker. These three images sum up a lot about him—tho I must say, he was a snappier dresser in the 1930s than he was in later life.

By the way, those of you who are interested about the CCC—to my mind, a great program, & one that could be copied to the general profit these days, given the unemployment rates & the major infrastructure problems facing the country—I’d recommend reading Jacqueline T. Lynch’s post “CCC Company 1156 – Chicopee, Mass” on her excellent New England Travels blog—Jacqueline is one of the bloggers I had a chance to meet on my cross-country odyssey.

Hope you enjoy the pix!

Friday, April 2, 2010


A beautiful song for your Friday, & one that has played—& continues to play, if now mostly just inside my head—as part of my “poetic soundtrack.” To read some of my thoughts about Tom Waits’ song time, shuffle on over to Just a Song!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

“Personal Poem #9”

Good morning, folks, & a happy Thursday to you all. Here’s some good news to everyone who was sad to see the Weekly Poem go away—I’ll be featuring poems twice a month, probably on the first Thursday & final Friday of each month.

This month we’ll look at a couple of poems by one of my very favorite poets, Ted Berrigan. “Personal Poem #9” is a relatively early piece, but it shows a number of Berrigan’s characteristics: his delight in the personal, the “mundane” details of everyday life; the conversational tone mixed with a rapid movement thru the lines; his ability to ground a poem in a real sense of place. Of course, the fact that Berrigan mentions the town where I was born (Bellows Falls, VT) particularly endears this poem to me!

Hope you enjoy it too!

Personal Poem #9

It’s 8:54 a.m. in Brooklyn it’s the 26th of July
and it’s probably 8:54 in Manhattan but I’m
in Brooklyn I’m eating English muffins and drinking
Pepsi and I’m thinking of how Brooklyn is New
York City too          how odd          I usually think of it
as something all its own like Bellows Falls like
Little Chute          like Uijongbu
                                                          I never thought
on the Williamsburg Bridge I’d come so much to Brooklyn
just to see lawyers and cops who don’t even carry guns
taking my wife away and bringing her back
and I never thought Dick would be back at Gude’s
beard shaved off long hair cut and Carol reading
his books when we were playing cribbage and watching
the sun come up over the Navy Yard a-
cross the river
                            I think I was thinking
when I was ahead I’d be somewhere like Perry Street
erudite dazzling slim and badly-loved
contemplating my new book of poetry
to be printed in simple type on old brown paper
feminine marvelous and tough

Ted Berrigan