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  • How Manet Times - Let’s begin with a simple fact: time passes faster in the mountains than it does at sea level. —Carlo Rovelli From tremulous-trunked Ash on a mountain down...
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Friday, September 15, 2006

Hard Drive Hassles

I was hoping to audiopost another Czeslaw Milosz poem in the next couple of days, but I may not be able to as my hard drive seems to be on the verge of giving up the ghost. If it holds out, or if I stumble across a replacement I can afford this week, I will do the Songs of Adrian Zielinsky.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Memory Erasure

According to the Chemical & Engineering News, proof has been found that long-term memory recording and storage works by increasing synapse responsiveness, and that the process and maintenance of memory requires the protein kinase M zeta.

Hand in hand with this discovery comes, of course, the ability to undo memory by injecting a synthetic peptide called ZIP into the brain. Shouldn't it be called unZIP?

(I'm sure, oh so sure, that no government agency will ever, ever abuse these particular discoveries. Of what use could they ever be to anyone, ever?)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Emily Up and Down and Back and Forth

The fall is coming back, and I've fallen back to Emily Dickinson. This is my seventh Emily post. In them, in lieu of much comment, I generally link words or phrases of her poem to Wikipedia entries (or other things, such as The Devil's Dictionary today) they bring to my mind. The other posts are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Today I've chosen poems in which emotion, faith, and whimsy seem to rise, fall, and waver.


A sepal, petal, and a thorn * [also]
Upon a common summer's morn --
A flask of Dew -- A Bee or two --
A Breeze -- a caper in the trees --
And I'm a Rose!

*Technically roses have prickles, not thorns. I only mention this because a prickle is also called an emergence, and it could be argued that poetry exhibits emergent properties.


It's all I have to bring today --
This, and my heart beside --
This, and my heart, and all the fields --
And all the meadows wide --
Be sure you count -- should I forget
Some one the sum could tell --
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.


I robbed the Woods --
The trusting Woods.
The unsuspecting Trees
Brought out their Burs and mosses
My fantasy to please.
I scanned their trinkets curious -- I grasped -- I bore away --
What will the solemn Hemlock --
What will the Oak tree say?


A throe upon the features --
A hurry in the breath --
An ecstasy of parting
Denominated "Death" --

An anguish at the mention
Which when to patience grown,
I've known permission given
To rejoin its own.


To hang our head -- ostensibly --
And subsequent, to find
That such was not the posture
Of our immortal mind --

Affords the sly presumption
That in so dense a fuzz --
You -- too -- take Cobweb attitudes
Upon a plane of Gauze!


Surgeons must be very careful
When they take the knife!
Underneath their fine incisions
Stirs the Culprit -- Life!


My friend attacks my friend!
Oh Battle picturesque!
Then I turn Soldier too,
And he turns Satirist!*
How martial is this place!
Had I a mighty gun
I think I'd shoot the human race
And then to glory run!

*See also satire.


For each ecstatic instant
We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ration
To the ecstasy.

For each beloved hour
Sharp* pittances of years --
Bitter contested farthings --
And Coffers heaped with Tears!

*Particularly definitions 8, 9, 10 of sharp as an adj.


Perhaps you'd like to buy a flower,
But I could never sell --
If you would like to borrow,
Until the Daffodil

Unties her yellow Bonnet
Beneath the village door,
Until the Bees, from Clover rows
Their Hock, and Sherry, draw,

Why, I will lend until just then,
But not an hour more!


Flowers -- Well -- if anybody
Can the ecstasy define --
Half a transport -- half a trouble --
With which flowers humble men:
Anybody find the fountain
From which floods so contra flow --
I will give him all the Daisies*
Which upon the hillside blow.

Too much pathos in their faces
For a simple breast like mine --
Butterflies from St. Domingo
Cruising round the purple line --
Have a system of aesthetics --
Far superior to mine.

*The daisy seems to be a symbol of innocence.


I cautious, scanned my little life --
I winnowed what would fade
From what would last till Heads like mine
Should be a-dreaming laid.

I put the latter in a Barn --
The former, blew away.
I went one winter morning
And lo - my priceless Hay

Was not upon the "Scaffold" --
Was not upon the "Beam" --
And from a thriving Farmer --
A Cynic, I became.

Whether a Thief did it --
Whether it was the wind --
Whether Deity's guiltless --
My business is, to find!

So I begin to ransack!
How is it Hearts, with Thee?
Art thou within the little Barn
Love provided Thee?


"Faith" is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see --
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency.

Fishin' In The Rain With An Umbrella (John MacKenzie)

Fishin' In The Rain With An Umbrella audiofile (2:24).

At work tonight I remembered this little piece I wrote 15 years ago.

Fishin' In The Rain With An Umbrella

Some folks say
that fishin' in the rain with an umbrella
ain't sportin'.
An' that's all well an' fine
if you're one o' those that argue
over flies and tests o' line.
But me gran'father tole me years ago —
an' stressed it as right important —
"It ain't how ya catch the fish,
it's how many ya catch that counts.
So if you're fishin' an' it's pourin',
take an umbrella with ya, b'y.
'Cause fish hate wet water in their streams
an' they'll congregate where it's dry."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Milosz somewhat of a success

There's a fair amount of traffic on Salt and Ice today, some of it being directed here from a Wood's Lot in Ontario and looking for Milosz' A Book in the Ruins. Thanks to M. Woods for the link.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Lower the Boom (a John MacKenzie poem)

Lower the Boom audiofile (5:09).

Today is Labour Day, and Lower the Boom (text below) is the closest thing to a Labour Day poem that I've ever written.

Lower the Boom

for Ivan Arsenault, killed in August 1998
on this framework of steel and rivets,
this erector set pushing into the sky

He stood here before the glass went on, stood
in and on the growing skeleton, grasping
I-beams in the heat of Ontario's August days
palms sweating in leather gloves guiding
I-beams to their appointed places, or else

he tied re-bar with those gloved hands, tied
arcane knots around slender rods
to be hidden in concrete,
to hold the whole damn thing together

This is some of what he did: woke every morning
at 4:30, ate cereal from boxes, drank
tea that steeped while he brushed teeth and shaved,
threw his lunch box in the passenger's seat,
tightened his boot laces and his belt,
mumbled morning talk with the others
in his Miscouche accent while settling
his hardhat on dark hair, thinking maybe
about a daughter starting school soon
maybe about the jays' game, or
more likely, being from Miscouche, wondering if
the Habs will ever find another goaltender like Dryden or Roy

This is what he did that day: woke at 4:30
ate his cereal, drank his tea
tightened his boot laces and belt and climbed
the naked steel under the climbing sun, all day
he clambered in the ring and clamour
welding this, riveting that, guiding
crane-swung bundles of steel to rest, and

most of the day he breathed
and worked, glowing like a beacon of sweat

and he argued about overtime and cursed bosses (whose wreath —
and the note saying they thought they should send it
— was thrown on the funeral-home lawn)

yeah, he worked and cursed the bosses' bidding
on jobs they couldn't start on time and rushed
to finish on schedule, under budget
he cursed old equipment and mistakes driven by hurry
and the sloppy minds of others, but ...

the beat of hammers and the view,
the pure music of storey rising on storey,
of seeing the metal become

he could hear, some days, the steel breathe
see it pulse and grow like
the child he felt move each morning under
his callused hand on Ruth's belly

He saw the sunset as he thumbed down another bundle
he saw the sunset and, at first, when the steel slammed into him
he thought it was beauty flattening him, he believed
the glorious shattered red and purple had
fallen from the sky into him and
he remembered his Catholic upbringing
and, suddenly, the meaning of epiphany, but

the others saw the scattered red as blood, the paramedics saw
the darkening glorious purple bruise he had become
and the doctor stripped off latex gloves, moved on