Tuesday, December 25, 2012

TC: James Schuyler: December



Hanging Christmas decorations in Providence, Rhode island: photo by Jack Delano, December 1940

........................................................................Il va neiger dans quelques jours

........................................................................FRANCIS JAMMES

The giant Norway spruce from Podunk, its lower branches bound,
this morning was reared into place at Rockefeller Center.
I thought I saw a cold blue dusty light sough in its boughs
the way other years the wind thrashing at the giant ornaments
recalled other years and Christmas trees more homey.
Each December! I always think I hate “the over-commercialized event”
and then bells ring, or tiny light bulbs wink above the entrance
to Bonwit Teller or Katherine going on five wants to look at all
the empty sample gift-wrapped boxes up Fifth Avenue in swank shops
and how can I help falling in love? A calm secret exultation
of the spirit that tastes like Sealtest eggnog, made from milk solids,
Vanillin, artificial rum flavoring; a milky impulse to kiss and be friends
It’s like what George and I were talking about, the East West
Coast divide: Californians need to do a thing to enjoy it.
A smile in the street may be loads! you don’t have to undress everybody.
..................................“You didn’t visit the Alps?”
..................................“No, but I saw from the train they were black
..................................and streaked with snow.”
Having and giving but also catching glimpses
hints that are revelations: to have been so happy is a promise
and if it isn’t kept that doesn’t matter. It may snow
falling softly on lashes of eyes you love and a cold cheek
grow warm next to your own in hushed dark familial December.

James Schuyler: December, from May 24th or So, 1966


Ice skating in Rockefeller Center, New York, New York
: photo by John Collier, December 1941

Thursday, December 20, 2012

TC: That time of year


Boy beside store window display of Christmas ornaments: photographer unknown [Jack Delano?], December 1941 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)

Delmore Schwartz: The Winter Twilight, Glowing Black and Gold

That time of year you may in me behold
When Christmas trees are blazing on the walk,
Raging amid stale snow against the cold
And low sky's bundled wash, senseless as chalk.
Hissing and ravenous the brilliant plant,
Rising like eagerness, a rushing pyre
(As when the tutti bursts forth, and the chant
Soars up -- hurrahing! -- from the Easter choir).

But this is only true at four o'clock,
At noon the fifth year is once more abused,
I bring a distant girl apples and cake,
Pictures, secrets, lastly my swollen heart,
Now boxed and tied by what I know of art
-- But as before accepted and refused.

Delmore Schwartz: The Winter Twilight, Glowing Black and Gold, from Vaudeville for a Princess and Other Poems, 1950


Boys looking at store window display of toys: photographer unknown [Jack Delano?], December 1941 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)

William Shakespeare: Sonnet 73: That time of yeeare thou maiſt in me behold


William Shakespeare: Sonnet 73 (1609 quarto)

That time of yeeare thou maiſt in me behold,  
When yellow leaues, or none, or fewe doe hange  
Vpon thoſe boughes which ſhake againſt the could,  
Bare rn'wd quiers, where late the ſweet birds ſang.
In me thou ſeeſt the twi-light of ſuch day,  
As after Sun-ſet fadeth in the Weſt,  
Which by and by blacke night doth take away,  
Deaths ſecond ſelfe that ſeals vp all in reſt.
In me thou ſeeſt the glowing of ſuch fire,  
That on the aſhes of his youth doth lye,  
As the death bed, whereon it muſt expire,  
Conſum'd with that which it was nurriſht by.
   This thou perceu'ſt, which makes thy loue more ſtrong,
   To loue that well, which thou muſt leaue ere long.

 William Shakespeare: Sonnet 73: That time of yeeare thou maiſt in me behold, from 1609 Quarto


Christmas trees and wreaths in store window display, photographer unknown [Jack Delano?], December 1941 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)

Shoppers walk through fake snow on Oxford Street during a traffic-free Christmas shopping day in central London: photo by Olivia Harris/Reuters, 24 November 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

TC: Waning Crescent Moon



Yumiharizuki (Bow-shaped moon), from Tsuki nijūhakkei no uchi: 28 views of the moon
: Hiroshige Ando (1797-1858), [185-, printed later] (H. Irving Olds Collection/Japanese Prints and Drawings, Library of Congress)

Later the light
spike heel hoof
of the California mule

up the middle
of Colusa

In deep night
under a waning



Bird flying with faint crescent moon in background: artist unknown, between 1870 and 1920, from series of illustrated sheets (Japanese Fine Prints, Library of Congress)


Red sun surrounded by feathers above the ocean: artist unknown, between 1870 and 1920, from series of illustrated sheets (Japanese Fine Prints, Library of Congress)

The thin gold shaving of the moon floating slowly downwards had lost itself on the darkened surface of the waters, and the eternity beyond the sky seemed to come down nearer to the earth, with the augmented glitter of the stars, with the more profound sombreness in the lustre of the half-transparent dome covering the flat disc of an opaque sea.  The ship moved so smoothly that her onward motion was imperceptible to the senses of men, as though she had been a crowded planet speeding through dark spaces of ether behind the swarm of suns, in the appalling and calm solitudes awaiting the breath of future creations.
Joseph Conrad: Lord Jim, 1900

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

TC: Now She Dwells Here


File:Biogradska suma.jpg

Old growth European Beech forest, Biogradska National Park, Montenegro: photo by Snezana Trifunovic, 2007

It was the work of fortune
which brings joy and not pain only.
But can a winged thing become less?

She lived on E. 75th Street
to speak plainly.

I mean: in the divisiveness of love
two people pass through
the same instant separately

for all their awareness sighs
for life and not for each other
but in doing that it does.


Monday, November 12, 2012

TC: (Re)Possession


Rainy Night: Charles Burchfield, 1918 (The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.)


He creeps round the eerie empty houses at night
the cry of a lost soul illuminating a late window
on foreclosure and dispossession

The night stalker
alone, driving for hours through abandoned
neighborhoods, senses a curious

elation -- calmed for once, for once feeling almost
at home -- as though the light left on in 
the vacant house had been lit

there for a ghost -- for him, alone -- 


Untitled 2152, 1998: photo by Todd Hido (Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery for Contemporary Photography, Cologne)


Untitled 2524, 1999: photo by Todd Hido (Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery for Contemporary Photography, Cologne)

Untitled 1968, 1997: photo by Todd Hido (Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery for Contemporary Photography, Cologne)


Untitled 1922-c, 1997: photo by Todd Hido (Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery for Contemporary Photography, Cologne)


Untitled 2312-a: photo by Todd Hido, 1999 (Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery for Contemporary Photography, Cologne)

Untitled 1738: photo by Todd Hido, 2003
 (Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York)



Untitled 1726: photo by Todd Hido, 1996 (Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York)

Untitled 1975-1-a: photo by Todd Hido, 1996 (Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery for Contemporary Photography, Cologne)


Untitled 2376: photo by Todd Hido, 2000 (Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery for Contemporary Photography, Cologne)

Untitled 3510: photo by Todd Hido, 2008 (Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery for Contemporary Photography, Cologne)

Untitled 2077: photo by Todd Hido, 1998 (Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery for Contemporary Photography, Cologne)

Untitled 1154-a: photo by Todd Hido, 1998
(Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York)


Untitled 8350: photo by Todd Hido, 2009
(Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York)

File:Curtain light.JPG

White curtain in warm light: photo by Christoph Michels, 2006


Half million dollar house under foreclosure, Salinas, California
: photo by Brendel, 13 February 2008

Monday, October 8, 2012

TC: 1968



Die Schiefe Ebene der Szalajkabahn in Ungarn
: photo by E. Scherer, 2007


All the while I was
being numbered and

stored by history
as an example
of something
as flat and thin
as a picture
in a textbook
or an image
on film
I remained under
the illusion I was
merely living


Goldfinches: photo by Monster 2000, 2008

Thursday, September 13, 2012

TC: On the Beach


File:Brighton Beach, Melbourne 2003 (91593941).jpg

The storm has ended and death steps back
Into the waters once more.  All our troubles
Are behind us once and for all.
The moon looks down in single glory.
The apocalyptic view of the world
Supposes things do not repeat themselves.
But they do.  And they do.  And they do.
The sky clouds up.  A new storm comes on.
Apocalyptic thinking presumes
All this has never happened before
And will never happen again. I know,
As the moon beams down on the photo-plankton,
All this will never happen again, too.
Wisdom is cold and to that extent stupid.

Brighton Beach, Melbourne, after the storm: photo by Beau Wade, 2003

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

TC: Marcel Proust: Night Train


File:Claude Monet - The Gare 

The Gare d'Argenteuil: Claude Monet, 1872 (Musée Tavet-Delacour / Musée de Luzarches, Conseil général de Val d'Oise)

For a long time I used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say "I'm going to sleep." And half an hour later the thought that it was time to go to sleep would awaken me; I would try to put away the book which, I imagined, was still in my hands, and to blow out the light; I had been thinking all the time, while I was asleep, of what I had just been reading, but my thoughts had run into a channel of their own, until I myself seemed actually to have become the subject of my book: a church, a quartet, the rivalry between François I and Charles V. This impression would persist for some moments after I was awake; it did not disturb my mind, but it lay like scales upon my eyes and prevented them from registering the fact that the candle was no longer burning. Then it would begin to seem unintelligible, as the thoughts of a former existence must be to a reincarnate spirit; the subject of my book would separate itself from me, leaving me free to choose whether I would form part of it or no; and at the same time my sight would return and I would be astonished to find myself in a state of darkness, pleasant and restful enough for the eyes, and even more, perhaps, for my mind, to which it appeared incomprehensible, without a cause, a matter dark indeed. 

I would ask myself what o'clock it could be; I could hear the whistling of trains, which, now nearer and now farther off, punctuating the distance like the note of a bird in a forest, shewed me in perspective the deserted countryside through which a traveller would be hurrying towards the nearest station: the path that he followed being fixed for ever in his memory by the general excitement due to being in a strange place, to doing unusual things, to the last words of conversation, to farewells exchanged beneath an unfamiliar lamp which echoed still in his ears amid the silence of the night; and to the delightful prospect of being once again at home. 

I would lay my cheeks gently against the comfortable cheeks of my pillow, as plump and blooming as the cheeks of babyhood. Or I would strike a match to look at my watch. Nearly midnight. The hour when an invalid, who has been obliged to start on a journey and to sleep in a strange hotel, awakens in a moment of illness and sees with glad relief a streak of daylight showing under his bedroom door. Oh, joy of joys! it is morning. The servants will be about in a minute: he can ring, and some one will come to look after him. The thought of being made comfortable gives him strength to endure his pain. He is certain he heard footsteps: they come nearer, and then die away. The ray of light beneath his door is extinguished. It is midnight; some one has turned out the gas; the last servant has gone to bed, and he must lie all night in agony with no one to bring him any help.

File:MS A la recherche du temps perdu.jpg

A la recherche du temps perdu: Du coté de chez Swann, first galley proof, handwritten revisions by Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust, from Du coté de chez Swann (Swann's Way), 1913: Volume One of A la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past), translated by  C. K. Scott Moncrieff, 1922

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

TC: All



View from the Dunes with Beach and Piers, Domburg
: Piet Mondrian, 1909 (Museum of Modern Art, New York)

With Bob and Joanne then, rounding
the cliffs from Wharf Road

to the beach one idle late summer
afternoon, as if time were endless,

sitting down then to rest
as if at home, at water’s

edge, the seabirds swooping,

the beach empty, the talk lapping,
inconsequential, nothing brings

consequence, all happens, all this
sweet nothing. The moments flood back,

a blurring tide, and then withdraw

again into the ever
accumulating pool of ebbing

attentions, lost hopes, forgotten so
called dreams. No longer here to live,

simply to snatch another breath.
Three sat talking on the beach, one

doesn’t know what was meant,

one doesn’t know what was
said. But the faces, the voices

come for a moment clear. There, in
that light. Here. The tide incoming.

So it was then as the sun went down.

for Robert Creeley (1926-2005)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


The sixth issue of VANITAS takes on the omnipresent influence of Latin language, thought, and culture in various vectors in the contemporary world. New poems and translations by Micah Ballard, Steve Dalachinsky, Clayton Eshleman, Elaine Equi, Alan Halsey, Bob Holman, Ron Horning, John Latta, David Lehman, Joel Lewis, Lyn Lifshin, Gerard Malanga, David Meltzer, Amanda Nadelberg, Stephen Ratcliffe, Ariana Reines, Raphael Rubinstein, Hal Sirowitz, Christopher Stackhouse, Mónica de la Torre, Tony Towle, John Tranter, Terence Winch, Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, and many more provide active exploration via works from the Ladino, Martial's epigrams, Baudelaire, divertimenti, Sakra Boccata, Brazilian desserts, the immigration problem, ars poetica, fragmentos ibericos, Mario Schifano, Elsa Morante, Lorca, Blanchot, Venice (CA), les demoiselles, sortes virgilianae, tango criollo, Ovid, Pamplona, and Pino Solanas. Featured artwork by Rafael Ferrer and Juan Uslé, plus works by Vivien Bittencourt, Saint Clair Cemin, Juan Gómez and Jan Henle. Available through Small Press Distribution.

Don't miss the VANITAS 6 launch reading!!

Featuring Elaine Equi, Adam Fitzgerald, Drew Gardner, Bob Holman, Joel Lewis and Tony Towle.

May 31, 2012
6:00 pm

The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery
(Between Houston and Bleecker)
F train to 2nd Ave, 6 to Bleecker

Event Page

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

TC: Giuseppe Ungaretti: What would I want with images?


File:Gentle waves come in at a sandy beach.JPG

Waves on sandy beach, Cabo Polonio, Uruguay: photo by Johntex, 2006

These wandering landscapes of the ocean's

Shifting surface, the incisive

Candour of daybreak on these

Or those leaves: these things no longer

Draw me; nor can my old eyes make

Out light from shade against the stones.

Forgot, what would I want

With images?


Leaves of European Birch (Fagus): photo by The cat, 2006

Non più m'attragano i paesaggi erranti
Del mare, né dell'alba il lacerante
Pallore sopra queste o quelle foglie;
Nemmeno più contrasto col macigno,
Antica notte che sugli occhi porto.

Le immagini a che prò
Per me dimenticata?

File:Foggy sunset at Land's End.jpg

Foggy sunset with Brown Pelicans: photo by Mila Zinkova, 2009

Giuseppe Ungaretti: Poem IX (Non più m'attragano i paesaggi erranti) from Cori descrittivi di stati d'animo di Didone (Choruses Descriptive of the State of Mind of Dido), in La terra promessa (The Promised Land), 1950; translation by TC

Monday, April 2, 2012

TC: Ángel de piedra


Angel: relief carving, 1689, above north entrance to Church of the Assumption, Anauri, Italy (image by Vladimir Shioshvili, 2006)

The angel asked, as his shoulders were pressed into the stone
Why me?  And taken from the inhabited body,
Like the lyric voice rustling from memory forests,
Childhood rushes toward death, a wind in those woods,
Crashing through trees, dying out,
Settling like a white mist over everything.


Angel: relief carving, Romanesque period (12th c.), Pécs Cathedral, Hungary (image by Takk, 2009)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

TC: To A Certain Friend


File:Cooper Mountain Nature Park forest and  prairie.JPG

Forest area and prairie at Cooper Mountain Nature Park, Oregon: photo by Aboutmovies, 2009

Presence comes before everything, even before being
The you to whom everything once belonged
If by everything one means the fullness of nature's beauty
You must remember now that much has been taken from you
Grief too will go from you as from sorrowing songs
Sorrow goes, leaving nothing for you after a while
But the memory of the melody, some old familiar tune
That's lingered on long past the moment you first sailed
Gracefully into the room, as if all the modern languages
Were coming down to me so that I could say these things

File:Ercall Wood Nature Reserve - geograph.org.uk - 56176.jpg

Ercall Wood Nature Reserve, near Arleston, Telford And Wrekin, Great Britain: photo by Bob Bowyer, 2003

File:Moore Nature Reserve - geograph.org.uk -  48792.jpg

Moore Nature Reserve, England: photo by andy, 2005

Friday, February 3, 2012

TC: Les Etoiles


Orion Nebula (M42 / NGC 1976)
: image made in 2006 from Hubble Space Telescope observations taken between 2004 and 2005 (NASA / ESA / M. Robberto)

These globes of gold, islands of light,
sought by the eye in dreams,
flash up from fugitive shadow
glittering dust on the roads of night,

and the breath of evening dying

blows them away


Heliosheath in Orion Nebula
: Hubble Space Telescope image, 2006 (NASA / ESA)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

TC: Bach's Booty


File:Johann Sebastian Bach.jpg

Johann Sebastian Bach at age 61: Elias Gottlob Haussmann, 1748, copy or second version of painting made in 1746 (collection of William H. Scheide)

Three barrels of beer was Bach's pay. Still now
A dim shadow falls across the bright festal tone
As we follow the figured bass part down

Memory lane, where the art form's short term losses,
Simulating his disputes with authority,
Preclude the purple laurels victory brings.

Don't blow your wig, scholar. Let the beer fiddlers play
"The Warrior Minstrel of the Forlorn Hope."
Life remains long, but now and then as the silver

Chords gather and are sprinkled above the planet
Like sparks pinned to a blue velvet canopy
We get these inklings, self regard drifts away

From boreal night's cold lucid frame
Into postromantic darkness, and real stars come out.


Old man with stick leaning on a barrel: photo by Buschgens, 1943 (Deutsches Bundesarchiv)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

TC: The Nelsons in San Roque


San Roque hub: photo by John Wiley, 28 May 2010

Those bungalows of San Roque
so perfect yet oddly sad
(“a little wood & stucco
to keep the sun out”)
always remind me of
where the Nelson family lived
way back in the days of Hi Oz
Hi Pop Hi Rick Hi David.

Everybody in that family was Okay
every day for a whole decade.
And when Ricky turned out to be
a low rider, it was still okay.
And that’s the way it is today
among the petticoat palms
of Calle Noguera
and Puesta del Sol.

You can’t rain on the parade
of the petit bourgeois
because it doesn’t have one
except at Fiesta
when rain’s against the law.

Ricky, Harriet, David and Ozzie Nelson: photographer unknown, n.d.
via lost in transmission

Dave, Rick and Harriet

David, Ricky and Harriet Nelson: photographer unknown, n.d.

Lauro Canyon Reservoir and upper San Roque
: photo by John Wiley, 18 April 2011