One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Monday, September 28, 2015

Moonshots, Lagoon, and Glowworms

Someone had mentioned the lunar eclipse but then I forgot. The wife figured it out while she was walking the dog down at the lagoon. Many residents hanging out on the pontoon bridge. So: Couldn't do much with my camera phone, but I got a few shots to prove I saw something: veiling and unveiling, through the trees (post-veil), and a few glowworms (not to mention a night shot of the lagoon and a possible scrawl for help) to boot.








Sunday, September 27, 2015

More on Nabokov's "King, Queen, Knave"

Maybe I've been a little hasty. The last 2/3 of the text (IMHO) is closer to vintage Nabokov. Could that be the part of the text that got reworked the most (would perhaps be an interesting study)? Anyway, I'm enjoying the master enough to have downloaded The Eye (another text I've overlooked? saved for later? all these years).


Excerpt from King, Queen, Knave:

All right -- she should never have accepted to marry that clown with the foul-smelling monkey in his arms; all right -- she should not have been impressed by his money, she should not have hoped in her youthful naivete to make an ordinary, dignified, obedient husband out of that joker. But at least she had arranged her life the way she wished. Almost eight years of grim struggle. He wanted to take her to Ceylon or Florida, if you please, instead of buying this elegant villa. She needed a sedentary husband. A subdued and grave husband. She needed a dead husband.

Morning Toilette

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Celebrating a Host of Things

Started off with Bucks in Sunset Beach (I didn't notice the barista from elsewhere because her hair was bobbed -- eventually her voice convinced me of our past connection, which she remembered: three petite vanilla bean scones and a grande bold).

Sun-up at Bolsa Chica (Ol' Nessy or Gothic Swimmer -- take your pick -- is still holding the pose).


Sunday, September 20, 2015

From Nabokov's "King, Queen, Knave"

Don't know very much at all about Martin Amis (a friend has read him and praises him -- I've been looking but still haven't tested the waters). But apparently we can agree on one thing: Nabokov was a great writer. Ranking Nabokov's texts, admittedly a subjective thing, is another matter: We'll have to agree to disagree (Thus far -- I'm not even halfway through it -- I'd put King Queen Knave towards the tail).  Here's Martin's 100th birthday salute to Nabokov and  his personal Nabokov playlist:


Anyway, another lick that tickled me from King, Queen, Knave:

Piffke was burly, dignified, and smartly dressed. He had blond eyelashes, baby-colored skin, a profile that had prudently stopped halfway between man and teapot, and a second-rate diamond on his plump auricular.

From T S Eliot's "East Coker"

I chose an excerpt from East Coker (2nd of the Quartets) because it's named after the place where T. S. is buried. A place I've not visited yet (I'm a member of the Dead Poet Society but that's one grave I've not collected -- yet!). Anyway, this is the very last part of the poem.


Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.


East Coker

East Coker is the second poem of T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets. It was started as a way for Eliot to get back into writing poetry and was modelled after Burnt Norton. It was finished during early 1940 and printed for the Easter edition of the 1940 New English Weekly. The title refers to a small community that was directly connected to Eliot's ancestry and was home to a church that was later to house Eliot's ashes.

The poem discusses time and disorder within nature that is the result of humanity following only science and not the divine. Leaders are described as materialistic and unable to understand reality. The only way for mankind to find salvation is through pursuing the divine by looking inwards and realizing that humanity is interconnected. Only then can people understand the universe.

[From Wikipedia:]

Birthday Boy: T S Eliot [9/26/1888]

Coming up T. S. You're not getting any younger. The portrait is by Wyndham Lewis.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Nabokov's "King, Queen, Knave"

Certainly a nascent Nabokov. He's starting to flex his verbal muscles, but he's not there yet. Thus far the text doesn't jump out and grab me. (And of course it could all be ME.) Still, per usual, there are Vlad-is-tickling-me bits:


There were lots of well dusted but uncaressed porcelain animals with glossy rumps, as well as varicolored cushions, against which no human cheek had ever nestled; and albums -- huge arty things with photographs of Copenhagen porcelain and Hagenkopp furniture -- which were opened only by the dullest or shyest guest. Everything in the house, including the jars labelled sugar, cloves, chicory, on the shelves of the idyllic kitchen, had been chosen by Martha, to whom, seven years previously, her husband had presented on its green-turfed tray the freshly built little villa, still empty and ready to please. She had acquired paintings and distributed them throughout the rooms under the supervision of an artist who had been very much in fashion that season, and who believed that any picture was acceptable as long as it was ugly and meaningless, with thick blobs of paint, the messier and muddier the better. 

Walking [9.14.15]: Seal Beach CA

Was indecisive about which Bucks and where to walk. Anyway, walking-wise I ended up in Seal Beach CA (parked in front of the old Bay Theater which looked a bit lonesome, except for some ghoulish pics on display). Walked a serpentine path winding through a grassy "park" and ended up face-to-fence with the naval yard. Then I walked on concrete along the beach and back to Main St.






Sunday, September 13, 2015

New Poems by R L Swihart @ Offcourse

Went up a little earlier than expected. Three titles: "A Little Romance," "Moore on the Good," and "Midi." Follow the LINK.

Nabokov's "King, Queen, Knave"

Tiring of De Quincey (for now), waiting for a new Coetzee, so I picked up (e-picked) one of the few Nabokov texts I've yet to read.


King, Queen, Knave is a novel written by Vladimir Nabokov (under his pen name V. Sirin), while living in Berlin and sojourning at resorts in the Baltic in 1928. It was published as Король, дама, валеT (Korol', dama, valet) in Russian in October of that year; the novel was translated into English by the author's son Dmitri Nabokov (with significant changes made by the author) in 1968, forty years after its Russian debut.

[From Wikipedia:,_Queen,_Knave]

Walking [9/13/15]

Woke late (7-ish), Bucked, and cut my walk short because it was already cloudless and sticky. Did walk over and take a peek at all the tents around the bandstand in the park (kitty corner from Bucks, across from Wilson, off 7th). Asians and perhaps Pacific Islanders(?) were crossing 7th and spilling into Bucks so I was a bit curious. It was early (8-ish) and the little camp was just waking and warming up. I heard a little music -- for lack of a better term, I'll call it "praise" -- and it seemed to have a Hawaiian twist. I heard the phrase "name above all names" and thought: better still "unpronounceable" or "unnamable" (stealing from Beckett?). Anyway, soothing. I snapped a pic and walked on.


Walking [9.12.15]

Meant to post these yesterday but got involved in other things.



Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sunrise [9/12/15]

Szymborska's "The Terrorist, He's Watching"

I'm not a great fan of reading out loud, but I used to love reading this to some of my older students (and I'm a math teacher by trade!). Anyhow, am thinking about this poem today, and so far as I can tell, I've never  posted it until now.


The Terrorist, He’s Watching

The bomb in the bar will explode at thirteen twenty.
Now it’s just thirteen sixteen.
There’s still time for some to go in,
and some to come out.

The terrorist has already crossed the street.
The distance keeps him out of danger,
and what a view – just like the movies:

A woman in a yellow jacket, she’s going in.
A man in dark glasses, he’s coming out.
Teen-agers in jeans, they’re talking.
Thirteen seventeen and four seconds.
The short one, he’s lucky, he’s getting on a scooter,
but the tall one, he’s going in.

Thirteen seventeen and forty seconds.
That girl, she’s walking along with a green ribbon in her hair.
But then a bus suddenly pulls in front of her.
Thirteen eighteen.
The girl’s gone.
Was she that dumb, did she go in or not,
we’ll see when they carry them out.

Thirteen nineteen.
Somehow no one’s going in.
Another guy, fat, bald, is leaving, though.
Wait a second, looks like he’s looking for something in his pockets and
at thirteen twenty minus ten seconds
he goes back in for his crummy gloves.

Thirteen twenty exactly.
This waiting, it’s taking forever.

Any second now.
No, not yet.
Yes, now.
The bomb, it explodes.
[Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh]

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Salty Suite @ The Colorado Lagoon (9.5.15)

Nice venue (except more grass with my bluegrass would be nice). We got there a bit early (only canned music till 7) so we toured the various booths (the owl was the best!) and took a turn around the lagoon and came back. We didn't stay for the whole hour but it was a nice change-of-pace. Went home and watched a very so-so movie.









Saturday, September 5, 2015

From De Quincey's "Opium-Eater"

I guess it's considered his best work. Read it years ago and am enjoying it even more now. Seemingly. Full of detours and interesting curlicues.


An excerpt (really, any random section will do):

... Some of these rambles led me to great distances, for an opium-eater is too happy to observe the motion of time; and sometimes in my attempts to steer homewards, upon nautical principles, by fixing my eye on the pole-star, and seeking ambitiously for a northwest passage, instead of circumnavigating all the capes and head-lands I had doubled in my outward voyage, I came suddenly upon such knotty problems of alleys, such enigmatical entries, and such sphynx's riddles of streets without thoroughfares, as must, I conceive, baffle the audacity of porters and confound the intellects of hackney-coachmen. I could almost have believed at times that I must be the first discoverer of some of these terrae incognitae, and doubted whether they had yet been laid down in the modern charts of London. For all this, however, I paid a heavy price in distant years, when the human face tyrannised over my dreams, and the perplexities of my steps in London came back and haunted my sleep, with the feeling of perplexities, moral and intellectual, that brought confusion to the reason, or anguish and remorse to the conscience.   

De Quincey's "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater"

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) is an autobiographical account written by Thomas De Quincey, about his laudanum (opium and alcohol) addiction and its effect on his life. The Confessions was "the first major work De Quincey published and the one which won him fame almost overnight..."[1]

First published anonymously in September and October 1821 in the London Magazine,[2] the Confessions was released in book form in 1822, and again in 1856, in an edition revised by De Quincey.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Might Get There...

Teach Us to Care and Not to Care...

A few objective correlatives (more like subjective). :)



T S Eliot's "Ash Wednesday"

Not good at memorizing poems, never have been. Not even my own. Still, the fragments that come back must be the bits that really stuck (even if they come back piecemeal and/or distorted). Was walking today and "Teach us to care and not to care" came flying back. Why? Well, that's another question to ponder.


Must be Eliot's month (Sept not April).


Ash Wednesday


Because I do not hope to turn again

Because I do not hope

Because I do not hope to turn

Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope

I no longer strive to strive towards such things

(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)

Why should I mourn

The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know

The infirm glory of the positive hour

Because I do not think

Because I know I shall not know

The one veritable transitory power

Because I cannot drink

There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is

nothing again

Because I know that time is always time

And place is always and only place

And what is actual is actual only for one time

And only for one place

I rejoice that things are as they are and

I renounce the blessèd face

And renounce the voice

Because I cannot hope to turn again

Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something

Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us

And pray that I may forget

These matters that with myself I too much discuss

Too much explain

Because I do not hope to turn again

Let these words answer

For what is done, not to be done again

May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly

But merely vans to beat the air

The air which is now thoroughly small and dry

Smaller and dryer than the will

Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death

Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.



Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree

In the cool of the day, having fed to satiety

On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been


In the hollow round of my skull. And God said

Shall these bones live? shall these

Bones live? And that which had been contained

In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:

Because of the goodness of this Lady

And because of her loveliness, and because

She honours the Virgin in meditation,

We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled

Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love

To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.

It is this which recovers

My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions

Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn

In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.

Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.

There is no life in them. As I am forgotten

And would be forgotten, so I would forget

Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said

Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only

The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping

With the burden of the grasshopper, saying

Lady of silences

Calm and distressed

Torn and most whole

Rose of memory

Rose of forgetfulness

Exhausted and life-giving

Worried reposeful

The single Rose

Is now the Garden

Where all loves end

Terminate torment

Of love unsatisfied

The greater torment

Of love satisfied

End of the endless

Journey to no end

Conclusion of all that

Is inconclusible

Speech without word and

Word of no speech

Grace to the Mother

For the Garden

Where all love ends.

Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining

We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each


Under a tree in the cool of day, with the blessing of sand,

Forgetting themselves and each other, united

In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye

Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity

Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.


At the first turning of the second stair

I turned and saw below

The same shape twisted on the banister

Under the vapour in the fetid air

Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears

The deceitful face of hope and of despair.

At the second turning of the second stair

I left them twisting, turning below;

There were no more faces and the stair was dark,

Damp, jaggèd, like an old man's mouth drivelling, beyond


Or the toothed gullet of an agèd shark.

At the first turning of the third stair

Was a slotted window bellied like the figs's fruit

And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene

The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green

Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.

Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,

Lilac and brown hair;

Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind

over the third stair,

Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair

Climbing the third stair.

Lord, I am not worthy

Lord, I am not worthy

               but speak the word only.


Who walked between the violet and the violet

Who walked between

The various ranks of varied green

Going in white and blue, in Mary's colour,

Talking of trivial things

In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolour

Who moved among the others as they walked,

Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand

In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary's colour,

Sovegna vos

Here are the years that walk between, bearing

Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring

One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing

White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.

The new years walk, restoring

Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring

With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem

The time. Redeem

The unread vision in the higher dream

While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.

The silent sister veiled in white and blue

Between the yews, behind the garden god,

Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke

no word

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down

Redeem the time, redeem the dream

The token of the word unheard, unspoken

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew

And after this our exile


If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent

If the unheard, unspoken

Word is unspoken, unheard;

Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,

The Word without a word, the Word within

The world and for the world;

And the light shone in darkness and

Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled

About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word

Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence

Not on the sea or on the islands, not

On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,

For those who walk in darkness

Both in the day time and in the night time

The right time and the right place are not here

No place of grace for those who avoid the face

No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny

the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for

Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,

Those who are torn on the horn between season and season,

time and time, between

Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait

In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray

For children at the gate

Who will not go away and cannot pray:

Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender

Yew trees pray for those who offend her

And are terrified and cannot surrender

And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks

In the last desert before the last blue rocks

The desert in the garden the garden in the desert

Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.


Although I do not hope to turn again

Although I do not hope

Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss

In this brief transit where the dreams cross

The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying

(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things

From the wide window towards the granite shore

The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying

Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices

In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices

And the weak spirit quickens to rebel

For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell

Quickens to recover

The cry of quail and the whirling plover

And the blind eye creates

The empty forms between the ivory gates

And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth

This is the time of tension between dying and birth

The place of solitude where three dreams cross

Between blue rocks

But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away

Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit

of the garden,

Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood

Teach us to care and not to care

Teach us to sit still

Even among these rocks,

Our peace in His will

And even among these rocks

Sister, mother

And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,

Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.