Wednesday, November 22, 2017


A very moist, warm air flow. Sixty degrees. Yesterday evening, the smoke from a neighbor’s fireplace hung low in the street, bound to the mist, the damp-scent to cling to one’s clothing and hair. We carried it in. It’s still here. We’re still there.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Canvas 1,098

Canvas 1,098

November 21, 2017


Three trees in front of the house are volunteers. One is a young rapidly growing cedar, the offspring of a much larger cedar across the street. Another is a young rapidly growing pine, the nut of which must have been brought here by a scrub jay or some similarly beak-worthy bird. The third is a delicate lacy-green maple, and we all know how their little seedpods can take to the air. The evergreens are lush and happy in the rain. The maple is mostly bare, and her leaves are gathered beneath her and scattered in the general area, in an array of colors that lifts and gladdens the heart. And so we are thrice blessed. All my life, led by the example of my parents, volunteers have been welcome, unless they sprout in a place where they would do damage, such as the cottonwood that erupted behind the house near the foundation when my mother was still alive and living here. And even that tree I kept for a while, trimming and guiding it and admiring its leaves. But finally it had to go — as did my mother, as will I, until I am recruited for sky service and planted elsewhere. Aye.

From sleep to the precipice

This morning, like every morning, there is no greater surprise than being here — not that I know where here is, or if or who I am. And if I did, then maybe there would be no feeling of surprise at all — or maybe the surprise would be even greater — as if I had said, in all innocence, Let there be light, without realizing the extent of my powers.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer

Impossible to resist:

“No friend has ever released me to such letter-writing.”
August 9, 1947

Canvas 1,095

Canvas 1,095

November 19, 2017

He reminds me of my father.

Last night I dreamed I came to the back door
of an old unpainted house.

I let myself in.

My mother and father
were at a small stove, making coffee.

There was some urgency in their manner,
as if the coffee were boiling over.

That’s when I awoke.

I can’t quite remember:
did they know I was there?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Moving books around

I derive a great deal of satisfaction from moving books around. Since I have so many, and since most of them are in this room, it takes a bit of doing not only to fit them all and to accommodate new arrivals, but to arrange them in a harmonious, meaningful way. In effect, each book must be free to sing from its place on the shelf, while bidding its neighbors to join in. Bindings, colors, sizes, page edges — all must be taken into account. Wherever one is in the room, whichever way he is facing, there must be a feast for the eyes and an ultimate balance. The books must be presented in such a way that they demand to be picked up, turned over, held, and examined. Those that are in stacks must be accessible. Those that are gifts must always be at hand. Those that are so old that they can only be touched infrequently, must not be made to feel they have fallen from favor; on the contrary, they must be honored like the venerable grandparents and great-grandparents that they are. There is somewhere in the neighborhood of two thousand five hundred books in this room. There is also my mother’s desk, where this is being written, and upon which reside a full set of Lord Byron, a full set of Montaigne, a set of Daudet, a set of John Lothrop Motley, and other miscellaneous volumes. Paintings, photographs, drawings, gifts, family heirlooms of humble origin. Three comfortable chairs: the red rocker that once belonged to my mother’s father; the medium-sized leather recliner (my reading chair) that my mother used to sit in; and a smaller rocker that used to belong to my father’s parents. The room itself is not that big. I would measure it right now, but there are too many obstacles. I think it is meant to be a den or sitting room. It has a large window that faces the street. But the room really continues into the front yard, because I have encouraged the plant life out there to become a kind of enclosure that gives privacy and yet affords glimpses of the street. I have written many a poem about the goings on out there — the bird life, the grass, the lilac, the delicate maples. If I could keep books out there too, I probably would. But only a few. I would hate to over do.

Timid frost

We are in the midst of a misty morning — yes, the midst of a misty. Timid frost. Like a deer afraid to show herself. And then, suddenly, she is surprised by her reflection when she finally decides to drink. Oh. Who am I? And who am I to think? Water in me, water of me, how good it is to meet.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Journal of a Disappointed Man

Making soup out of simple ingredients: potatoes, garlic, leek, carrot, celery, and one very small tomato. The tomato is from the garden. It was picked a month ago. The variety is Indigo Rose. I mention the tomato specifically because the plant was given to me by my now ten-year-old grandson as a Father’s Day gift. A bit late to be planting a tomato. But it grew and produced. The fruit ripened late, but that was quite fine with me. Just turned off the soup. It smells very good. I forgot to mention that there is a little meat in it. Does that make it stew? No. I think not. I have theories about these things. Or are they beliefs? For instance, it depends on how you cut up the potatoes. If they are in chunks, then you have stew. But if they are in slices, then you have soup. That this and everything I have said to this point is of absolutely no consequence rather delights me. I left the peels on.

I have another new book: The Journal of a Disappointed Man, by W.N.P. Barbellion, whose real name was Bruce Frederick Cummings. I started reading it today. I have a real weakness for journals, diaries, lives, and letters. So far, this one is wonderful. Here is a picture of it. It was published in 1919, the same year the author died. Imagine that. If you want to find out why the man was disappointed, you can follow the links. I won’t be disappointed if you don’t. Because I won’t know.

The Journal of a Disappointed Man