Saturday, January 5, 2013

Forward, march into the new year; Bones, Coral, John Doan and Fish, Etc.

OUR INSPIRATION as we move forward
into 2013, the year that will become this editor's 77th, comes from the great 1957 movie,
The Bridge On the River Kwai
starring Alec Guinness as an exemplar of British discipline,
even under the extreme duress of imprisonment in a Japanese forced labor camp.

Though life in this place at this time does not impose the hardship faced by the men of the prison camp, we see some minor similarities as we march in place, some halt and lame, in roughened and worn boots that  bear our determined pinions, and we whistle our anthems as one.  Making our deepening impressions in the sands of time, resolute.

By God!  Those British  -and we - are unbreakable men!




The snow that falls so white and fresh
is quickly pushed to the sides of
the already salted streets
and more salt is spread behind the blades

The snow no matter how persevering
can't win a temporary victory
because it's not allowed to repose there
delaying commerce anymore

Snowbound in the city is an anachronism
The big blizzard of 1947, though, closed
businesses and schools, everything for days
in Waukesha

until the handful of plow-equipped trucks
could get around to opening all the streets,
and  the Inter-Urban electric train did not run
into Milwaukee,  so father was home five days

The snow was dominant then, keeping everyone blessedly
at home, happy captives of unanticipated pass-times,
 skiing to the grocers or to the post office, drinking
 cocoa and digging tunnels outside, dawns to dusks

During cribbage games and radio shows, the wind blew
unending heavy snow all around town
And the ice-blinkered Fox Dairy horses struggled
to pull their milk wagons until they couldn't

negotiate the drifted valleys formerly known
to them as their street routes
And everything was rounded off white
for many deepening days

But now, when there is a forecast of snow
heavy or slight
armadas of municipal plows and reinforcements
of free-lancers idle their engines everywhere

loaded with tons of salt, waiting at checkpoints, ready
to make short work of any white that quietly comes
and to make the trains, trucks and everything else
run on time

The esthete dreaming of snow having dominion
over him for a just a little while
loses to technology and industry
but loses no precious time at work or school

thanks to economies dedicated to rumbling
street-clearing machines
and salt, lots of salt
And fervent salty neighbors

keeping their sidewalks absolutely clear
of Old Devil Snow, running neck and neck
toward the inevitable loss against the plowers
 who fill and re-fill the grumblers' driveways

Over clear but gray-skied days, whizzing traffic splatters
more salt onto the salt-laced drifts and the sun melts
and re-freezes the mounds into darkened, pitted reefs
of dingy black coral
And you wish for another snow, as in 1947

DZD 2001

[Footnote:  Is black coral in the gutters a thing of the past. as global warming
elevates the serious snow latitude of Waukesha
into northern Wisconsin?  The icecaps are melting.  What of those mounds of
 road salt, stored in huge bins?}

 John Doan, Harp guitarist

If you liked that one, a longer performance, lasts over an hour:


(from the WRITERS ALMANAC 1-4-13)

The Fish

As soon as the elderly waiter
placed before me the fish I had ordered,
it began to stare up at me
with its one flat, iridescent eye.

I feel sorry for you., it seemed to say,
eating alone in this awful restaurant
bathed in such unkindly light
and surrounded by these dreadful murals of Sicily.

And I feel sorry for you, too—
yanked from the sea and now lying dead
next to some boiled potatoes in Pittsburgh—
I said back to the fish as I raised my fork.

And thus my dinner in an unfamiliar city
with its rivers and lighted bridges
was graced not only with chilled wine
and lemon slices but with compassion and sorrow

even after the waiter removed my plate
with the head of the fish still staring
and the barrel vault of its delicate bones
terribly exposed, save for a shroud of parsley.

"The Fish" by Billy Collins, from Ballistics. © Random House, 2010.


KD Cat

pauses between rounds of flight
chasing her favorite toy
which is a simple piece of unpredictable wire
with bits of cork attached
into which she can sink her claws.

We have it attached to a chest drawer
so she can go after it
whenever she wants to.
And that's often.