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Showing posts from June 28, 2020

metempsychosis of statues

“A girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders braces the tingling Statehouse, shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry on St. Gaudens' shaking Civil War relief, propped by a plank splint against the garage's earthquake.” Thus, Robert Lowell in For the Union Dead, a poem which centers a monument. Among the army of statuary that occupies America’s cities and parks, this is one of the rare statues that is signed by an actual famous artist: Augustus Saint Gaudens. In the later nineteenth century, he was the most famous American sculptor. It was Gaudens as well who made the famous tomb to poor Clover Adams, Henry Adams’ wife, in the Rock Creek Cemetery in D.C. In the most recent overthrow of a buncha statues of unworthies, one argument is oddly missing: that these things are valuable art pieces. Not a peep is uttered about their artistic worth – it is all a question of history. It is unlikely that a


The poet sings – or so she used to And there are those who’ve returned to guitar Or drums to sing the things that are While others never finished piano lessons. Otherwise poets are silent as Quakers And all that song stuff is for fakers Unless, as I do, whispering and claw voiced They sample the goods to have a taste - roll their tongue over the cut and paste My muse is mainly a tick in the mind Which throws out of hem my rants and pleas - fr’instance, this here poem is one of these. - Karen Chamisso


I don’t remember my first writing lessons. The bubble and squeak of my first letters, those wobbly circles and jerkily disproportionate lines which flowed out of my pencil onto the cheap, thick, lined paper – I can only envision them through their descendants, the degenerate scribble of my declining years, where the bubbles are less bubblicious and have been through the rat race. But I can remember the devises that went into writing – that paper, the thick lines spaced just so and the dotted line between them, the thin, bright yellow pencils with the little intaglio number near the metal band the holds the erasor, and the sharpeners. The little oblong plastic box with the hole in one end for the pencils and the two evil little blades that would bite into the cedar-y matter of the blunt end and shave off perfect little fans of thin thin wood. As well as a dusting of pencil lead, which would somehow get on my fingers. There was a subtle competition, I remember, between the brilliant

Jesus’ politics.and mine

. As the few who have actually read the Gospels know, Jesus said relatively little about sex. For him, it was a thing that occurred in the structure of families. Jesus didn’t much like families. He was only half joking when he said that he had no patience for him who didn’t hate his mother. He thought if you entered into a marriage, that was the end of it – no divorce for you. Of course, marriage, back in Jesus' day, wasn't the love match it is today, but an exchange between parents and clans in which the individuals exchanged had little say. So this is a hard saying to understand -- was it a way of warning men not to desert their wives and children? In any case, he looked upon the marriage and family racket as hopelessly perverting -- there'd be no giving and taking of wives and husbands in the Kingdom of Heaven. There's an   odd strain in the Gospels that shows Jesus's affinity with outcast women. This has been massively understated, since of course