zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
I was drawn into Christian Wiman's "He Held Radical Light" excerpt at Poetry Daily earlier today because I became curious about where he was going after calling a good chunk of another writer's body of work "flavorless as old oatmeal." But the part where I sat up straight was when my own dour mutterings about eventual nothingness ("Look, I'm not going to get wound up about not getting anywhere with x when humans are going to be extinct within a few hundred years...") suddenly showed up on my screen like a mirror:


Nothing survives, I suddenly realized. Dante, Virgil, even sweet Shakespeare, whose lines will last as long as there are eyes to read him, will one day find that there are no eyes to read him. As a species, we are a microscopic speck of existence, which, I have full faith, will one day thrive without us.

Still, abstract oblivion is a small shock as shocks go. When over lunch one day my friend and then poet laureate Donald Hall turned his Camel-blasted eighty-year-old Yeti decrepitude to me and said as casually as he bit into his burger, "I was thirty-eight when I realized not a word I wrote was going to last," I felt a galactic chill, as if my soul had chewed tinfoil. I was thirty-eight. It was the very inverse of a calling, an ex post facto feeling of innocence, death's echo. In a flash I knew it was true, for both of us (this is no doubt part of what he was telling me), and yet the shock was not in that fact but in the nearly fifty years of further writings Don had piled on top of that revelation. "Poetry abandoned me," he writes in his little masterrpiece Essays After Eighty, the compensatory prose of which is so spare and clear it seems inscribed on solitude itself. If there were any justice in the world, this book would be read by my great-great-great-granddaughter as she gets ready to die. But of course there is no justice in the world.


I submitted two new poems today. I filed a rejection for four others, and made notes about a handful more to craft by the end of the month if mind and fingers and electronics cooperate. And, like quite a few other locals, I could not resist whisking out my phone yesterday when I saw this from the parking lot at work:

downtown Nashville, 7 pm

downtown Nashville, 7 pm

My being in the parking lot at that point was a compromise -- because of bloody honking deadlines needing to be met, I stayed at the office past the point of getting to the dance lesson on time, but I did go to the lesson, which ended up being a fine time -- the group was practicing "St. Margaret's Hill" when I arrived, and there was enough room in the studio for me to walk through the figures on my own. The rep for the rest of the evening included "Miss De Jersey's Memorial" (the dance of the month), "Kelsterne Gardens" (as a 4-couple dance), "Key to the Cellar" and several others in Scottish sets, "The Introduction" (which I requested after we collectively struggled with right and left diagonals during "The Weevil"), "The Young Widow" (which I requested when given three dances to choose from because it was the one I hadn't done yet), and "Bonny Cuckoo." We talked about regional differences/practices, including "the Philadelphia rule," which is when you're not the caller of the dance, shut up and don't "correct" the person who is leading the dance if no one is about to get hurt. Very sensible people, those Philadelphians.

I am too tired at the moment to be sensible, so while I knew full well that I needed to sit tail in chair and fingers to laptop to get to bed earlier, I went ahead with baking a cake (along with chicken that needed to be roasted sooner than later) and scrubbing this and that. Pacing will out. Anyhow, there are worse fates than snacking on chicken skins and listening to Monteverdi while editing docs on Italian art...

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