Winter: Goby’s Journal


Managed to do food shopping yesterday afternoon. Coughed all the way there and back. Once in the store, warm air, I was fine. Wore me plum out. I started off to an Icarus meeting later… got about a block, turned around and came home.

Looong nap today after sleeping late. If I were one of those 19c English poets, I’d be one of em who spent winters in Italy for my lungs.

Any wonder that Winter appears in my poems as Death? If she sometimes appears as a temptress, it’s only because I do find beauty in winter.

I wish I could find a publisher for Chronic, Chronos, Kairos

January 20, 2011
I smiled when winter came to call…
…thinking she’d spared the worst. Ho HO, he said. Her teeth (where I’d thought, Ice) were coals. Two starving sparrows for his eyes. Dream on! she said, & blew into my mouth & touched
her fingers to my lips, caressed my lungs
& took my breath away and tossed it to the wind!

#622 – with page from Goby’s Journal: Stasi Trump Jesus and the Subjunctive Voice

18″ x 24″ Acrylic on wood.
Layering. Interested in giving an impression of depth, without resorting to geometric perspective. Pollock, of course… but also, the illusion that one is looking at something… both real, and mysterious, like Hubble photos, or electron microscopy… in color. right click on photo for more detail.


… I’m thinking of using this piece of a packing crate for a frame. Paint it black.


Goby’s Journal: December 23, 2016

Stasi, Trump, Jesus and the Subjunctive Voice

In an age when anyone who hears us speak, in person, or through social media, students in our classrooms, our patients or customers–when anyone might feel empowered by the Trumpocracy, to report you, to troll you, to try to get you fired, blacklisted, kicked off a plane…
It would be well, were we to revive the long neglected subjunctive voice.
To polish our skills at not quite saying what we mean.

If one were to imagine oneself, say, in 1956 East Berlin, one would find ways, even in front of a class, of speaking to those who “had ears to hear,” without giving cause to those who would take you down, were they so inclined. Which brings to mind–that phrase, “those who have ears to hear” — the language used by Jesus in the Gospels: speaking in parables. Jesus, too, lived under a hostile power. How much of that language was made to pass safely through the Roman occupation?

We aren’t at that level, yet… of Stasi, say… where no one, not even our most radical friends, can be trusted, because anyone can be made to be an informant. Let them only describe what will happen to your children, your aging parents, should you refuse. But this is where we are headed.

I have heard stories. Some reported in news, some seen on social media. Would that it were true that nothing of the kind had happened to anyone I know.

Be careful. Don’t say anything in private you wouldn’t say in public, cause… nothing is private. Learn from poets how to say more and less and other than what you mean.

This is my faith: bones of a Radical Manifesto

Nothing here about petitions, phone calls or emails to “leaders” begging them to do something for us. Or supporting candidates. Or elections. This is a radical agenda. The simplest outline of a Radical Manifesto. The basics. No NGO’s. No Gov. approved non-profits. Go where permit and license not needed–or if they are, do without, and call it Resistance. Start with the basics. The foundation. Work for change from there.
In these dark times–what can we do in the world?
Ask … what matters, always, everywhere?
Medical/health care.
Education (in the broadest sense)
… and the arts: poetry, dance, music, the visual arts… because without language that has the power to remind us how to be human–we are lost.
Imagine, then, what each of these might be in the world we want to live in.
Join hands with someone. Together, begin to clear some space, small or large, for that to happen. To plant the seeds, that will become our garden… the garden we thought had been lost to us forever.
If your hand is empty now–if you are not within reach of someone whose hand you know you can grasp–acting in resistance and solidarity to make that world… how could one not but feel helpless? And if you feel helpless–so does someone else.
Find them…
They need you, as you need them. Believe in yourself–that they need you, as you need them!
Speak up. Reach out. When we find one another, we will know what to do. Trust that this is so.
That is my faith.

Still Imperial His Laughter

A poem I wrote some 30 years ago, put aside and forgot. Remembered last night in a dream.
The river runs — a stillness
with the city around her
through the city
a stillness at its heart
of trees stripped
shadows from the bank

Here and there a leaf rides clear
water through the branching thicket

A blazing gust
blinds windily — wakes
A presence in the
deeper tempers of this November noon.

A weighted glint of cold
a flashing
an understanding, silent mock

A laughter not of water stalks
across the surface of the stream, chills
the vestal air

Winter, soon.

And near, high
around its dark mass — The Colossus
strides on iron feet
ferric dust, red flakes rusting red
over red leaves everywhere he walks
the laughter goes

withering over the coming snow, spreading
his fine red rust over the white crust of snow

because he is not forest
or the wild hills
neither is he City
— built of love but broken — broken

of forest and the city’s siege, his coronets
crying over midnight seas

Still Imperial, impaler
of the singer and the song

like red snow

he goes

is Death


The Garden of Love

blakegardenofloveI  went to the Garden of Love
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of his Chapel were shut
And Thou Shalt Not writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones were flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys and desires.

William Blake, Songs of Experience

Some things age better than others…

Not a bad day. Two little poems. Three hours drawing. Grocery shopping, which I’ve been putting off (I HATE grocery shopping… selections in the nearest supermarket are so boring, and I can’t afford either time or money to go to the Reading Terminal or the Italian Market every time I run low on food). The local food co-op, Mariposa, is for peeps with way more money than me).

I was happy to have written new poems… and surprised to see that I’ve written more than I’d remembered the last two years… and that they didn’t seem all that bad. I got to thinking about this… about what lasts in my estimation.

I like a painting when I finish it… or I’d either keep working at it, or give up and paint over it and start again. Many, if I like them at first, I’ll like for a few days… some for weeks, or months. Very very few will I like enough in a year or so, that I won’t be ready to give them a coat of gesso and use the surface for something new.

I haven’t had to buy new canvas or stretchers in months!

Water colors, metal points… similar, but I can’t paint over the water colors, and I’ve not been making metal points that long–though several of these I’ve already relegated to the scrap heap and deleted photos of them from my blog.

With poems, it’s different. I very seldom feel more than tolerance for their existence when I finish them (though, strangely–if I accept them at all–I want to share them right away instantly-often to my embarrassment). But I’ll find poems I wrote years ago, and thought next to worthless when I wrote them… and think… wow! I wrote that? That’s not half bad!

I’m glad it takes so much less space to keep old poems, than old paintings…

No beauty not won through pain

Ballet: Agony of the Feet” by Tim Burton
Taken from The Orlando Sentinel, Sunday, September 6,1998
…There is grace and nobility in those feet.

It may not be physical, like dancing en pointe…


…but beneath the achievement of grace–in whatever art, there is a form of torture, peculiar to the art, that lies unseen to others, and without which–that grace will never be achieved.

I remembered that article when I read a post on my beautiful machine/danseur ignoble. Asher writes about dance–not in the abstract, not as one who is watching, but from and out of the experience of their body. Muscles. Bones. Joints. Is it that dance is to the body as mind is to the brain?

Asher’s style is direct, unadorned–it’s the language of the barre, of the pianist learning scales, of listening to the body with such finely tuned perception that the body learns to hear itself without intervention, without intention.

I think of those time lapse photos where you see the body of the moving dancer following as though pure spirit, pure dance–a veil of movement. Asher doesn’t say much about that. He writes of what you see in the image of those beautiful, damaged feet in the photo above. Of the pain, the exhaustion–and the exhilaration of learning, of stretching every muscle and joint toward the impossible: toward perfection.
This is how an artist does philosophy. Read their posts, and learn.

Illocality: Joseph Massey

IllocalityIllocality by Joseph Massey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Massey beautifully erases the distinction between nature, and the random clutter of parking lots… fragments of human artifice. One is never left with the false tranquility of contemplation of the “natural world:” The observing eye in these poems is not passive, or restorative of some lost numinosity of childhood, as in a Wordsworthian sense. Sex shop signs, bricks, asphalt parking lots, broken glass… and the windows themselves, through which the world is perceived, sharpen senses to a cutting point, prick one’s body into a wakeful anxious dream. They pry open the mind to an awareness of things–things… pregnant with ideas that exist beyond words.

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