Homer did no injustice to his grief

May 17, 2013

. Robert Frost in the words of Tobias  Wolff, from Old School. Don’t tell me about war. I lost my nearest friend in the one they call the Great War. So did Achilles lose his friend in the war, and Homer did no injustice to his grief by writing about it in dactylic hexameters. There’ve [...]

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Kingdom Animalia

April 4, 2013

for JSA April 4, 1947 – May 16, 2011 Kingdom Animalia by Aracelis Girmay When I get the call about my brother, I’m on a stopped train leaving town & the news packs into me—freight— though it’s him on the other end now, saying finefine— Forfeit my eyes, I want to turn away from the [...]

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Eating Poetry (XLIII) – “oh antic God”

December 23, 2012

. This past Thursday was the ninth anniversary of my mother’s death. With my brother’s wife, I was at her graveside, beside my father. Anne and I laughed before we cried: a lot of familial channeling went on – voices and manners of speech, verbal expressions. This year, more than the pain of taking away, [...]

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How We Lived On It (55) – La chanson d’hélène

November 10, 2012

. If you have missed it, my retrospective on the artistry of French filmmaker Claude Sautet appears in the current issue of Senses of Cinema. During Sautet’s 1970s peak, his female muse was Austrian actress Romy Schneider, who appeared memorably in five of his films, winning France’s Cesar Award for best actress for the 1978 [...]

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Eating Poetry (XL) – As from a Quiver of Arrows

August 4, 2012

. A poem about loss, or the end of things, if there is an end to things, or transformation, or it maybe being the nature in things to be lost, and remembered, so how remembered? Or maybe it is forgetting we want, and where is that, and if we do forget, what was it? To [...]

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A Year with Death

May 17, 2012

. Once upon a culture long ago or far away, mourning was a state both ritually displayed and visibly endured over protracted time. Widows might literally or effectively sacrifice their lives, though this was manifestation of something other than grief. Black or some other mourning color might be worn for life, maybe for a few [...]

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A Prayer for the Dead

May 16, 2012

. The poet Stewart Kestenbaum, who lives in Maine, lost his brother Howard in the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. A Prayer for the Dead The light snow started late last night and continued all night long while I slept and could hear it occasionally enter my sleep, where I dreamed my brother was [...]

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Christopher Hitchens, Glenn Greenwald, and the War of Ideas

December 21, 2011

John Cook of Gawker writes of Christopher Hitchens that he “loathed sentiment, welcomed combat, and delighted in inflicting hard truths.” Cook undoubtedly means “sentimentality,” which masquerades everywhere as sentiment, in which case he is indisputably right about Hitchens, who would have begrudged those now attacking him only the regrettable spectacle (he surely would have believed) [...]

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The Hitchens Post

December 16, 2011

. In the end, no one will be remembered, a monumental few for a very long time. Others, favored by fortune still, and the riches of their own beings – big, big people – leave a hole when they depart. The air is sucked out of the room, which subsides into a banal kind of [...]

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The Life with Death of Steve Jobs

October 6, 2011

. I was going to post on another topic today. Everyone is writing and talking about Steve Jobs, as they should be, but there was no call for me to add more of the same. I’ve read a lot of what has been written, though, and it occurred to me what part of the impact [...]

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Eating Poetry (XXVI) – “Whole”

June 6, 2011

Does serendipity tell us anything about the world? I suppose that question matters if one is seeking, like a physicist, to understand the world as something separate and independent of those who live in it. In that case we can make various claims, including that serendipity is only the happier among coincidences. If what concerns [...]

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Eating Poetry (XXXIII) – Everybody Who Is Dead

March 19, 2011

A poem that is so lean and so direct, digging deep, radiating out. Simply, profoundly perfection. Everybody Who is Dead Frank Stanford When a man knows another man Is looking for him He doesn’t hide. He doesn’t wait To spend another night With his wife Or put his children to sleep. He puts on a [...]

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Entrances and Exits

September 3, 2010

We have no existential choice in the fact or circumstances of our birth. Most people live as if they are similarly without choice in their death. We are so in awe of the nature of existence – the very fact of it, the wonder of it, the awesome mystery of it – that is seems [...]

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A Death in Summer

August 5, 2010

Among the many varied jobs of my misdirected young manhood – filling orders, on a rolling cart, in a watchband warehouse; selling wine to the upper crust of Manhattan’s Upper East Side; shuttling in my taxi among the island’s singles bars, heterosexual and gay, until 5 a.m., ferrying home the whacked out and the happily [...]

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In a Small Shaded Clearing by a Hotel Swimming Pool

July 24, 2009

We’re in Atlanta now. Actually, the suburb of Stone Mountain. And actually only I am. Julia is back in Los Angeles to teach at the workshops, so if you are in the Los Angeles area and like photography – and you want to take a class with the finest photography teacher, with the most winning [...]

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Blink, part III

March 9, 2009

In the World It would be an obvious conclusion to draw that I was now finished with both Kenny and Robert as friends, but that would be only half true. It might, as well, more tightly shape my theme to be done with Robert here, but that also would be only half true. Robert talked [...]

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Blink, part II

February 15, 2009

In Far Rockaway Shortly before my tenth birthday, we moved from Bell Park Manor-Terrace and that childhood bedroom to an apartment building on Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway, also in Queens. Far Rockaway was a tougher and more heterogeneous neighborhood than the predominately white and Jewish Queens Village, and I was confronted with some [...]

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February 4, 2009

In My Bedroom One of my early childhood memories – I might have been four or six or eight, I don’t know, but certainly no older than eight; I think younger – is of lying in bed, alone in the dark, thinking about death. (I was a scream at the birthday parties.) I say alone [...]

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Ocean Poem II

January 13, 2009

The Shores of the World Where the seam of the sky and the open sea meet the mind’s long gaze, and the tide tugs all along the earth’s vast sands – the edge of the world held out into space like a gift on a palm – the weight of the infinite day rests on [...]

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