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, March 28, 2016


RLS MUTT Strikes Again

Quick Tour of Naples

My usual barber's pole (blood and bandages) wasn't spinning, so I went on a walk. Decided to cross the bridge into Naples to see what I could see.









Building Bridges (3.28.16)

Call me absent-minded. I didn't start back to work (school) today, it's tomorrow. It was just the power-washer and me. Wondered why the garage was so empty. Anyway, I got everything ready for tomorrow.

The slight rainfall was fun (coming and going). I took the two bridges purposely -- to commune with clouds.



Saturday, March 26, 2016

Herbert's Poem "To Czeslaw Milosz"

Have thought about this short poem off and on, and in various contexts, ever since I bought Rodrigo (Polish version) somewhere in Poland (I'm guessing Krakow -- it was so long ago) and, with the help of my wife, tried to translate a few of the shorter pieces. Anyway, the line I always "draw on" to explain things (I know, I'm delusional) is "who knows which is better which is worse" (if I'm not mistaken, there's no "weightier" in the original Polish). Anyway ...


   Above San Francisco Bay -- the lights of the stars
at dawn mist which divides the world in two parts
who knows which is better weightier which worse
one must not think even in secret they're the same

   Angels descend from heaven
when he sets down 
his slanted

[Translated by Alissa Valles

Mama of Dada: Beatrice Wood

Beatrice Wood (March 3, 1893 – March 12, 1998) was an American artist and studio potter involved in the Avant Garde movement in the United States; she founded The Blind Man magazine in New York City with French artist Marcel Duchamp and writer Henri-Pierre Roché in 1916.[1] She had earlier studied art and theater in Paris, and was working in New York as an actress. She later worked at sculpture and pottery. Wood was characterized as the "Mama of Dada."

She partially inspired the character of Rose DeWitt Bukater in James Cameron's 1997 film, Titanic after the director read Wood's autobiography while developing the film. Beatrice Wood died nine days after her 105th birthday in Ojai, California.

[From Wikipedia:]


Friday, March 25, 2016

Marcel Duchamp's Boîte-en-valise

Alexina Duchamp (1906 - 1995)

Alexina "Teeny" Duchamp (January 6, 1906 – December 20, 1995) was the wife of Pierre Matisse, daughter-in-law of artist Henri Matisse, and second wife of artist and chess player Marcel Duchamp.


She was born Alexina Sattler in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1906. The youngest daughter of prominent surgeon Robert Sattler, Alexina was nicknamed "Teeny" by her mother Agnes Mitchell because of her low birth weight.


Paris and marriage to Pierre Matisse[edit]

Sattler at first thought of becoming an artist and went to Paris in 1921, where for a time she studied sculpture with Constantin Brâncuși at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.[1] She first met Marcel Duchamp in 1923 at a ball given in her honor by American sculptor Mariette Benedict Mills, the mother of a close friend. In 1929 Teeny married Pierre Matisse, an art dealer and the youngest son of Fauve artist Henri Matisse. They had three children: Jacqueline, Paul, and Peter. Throughout 1938, Henri Matisse made a series of portrait sketches of Alexina.[2] When her husband was mobilized in Paris at the outbreak of World War II, she ran his gallery for some months.[1] In 1949 Pierre and Teeny separated due to Pierre's infidelity with Patricia Kane Matta.[3] She received in the subsequent divorce settlement many important paintings.
She worked for a time as an agent and broker for artists such as Brâncuși and Joan Miró.


New York and marriage to Marcel Duchamp[edit]

In the autumn of 1951 she was invited by Dorothea Tanning to go on a weekend trip in Hunterdon County.[4] It was on that trip that she once again met Duchamp, and romance developed shortly thereafter. They were both avid chess players. Teeny and Duchamp married in New York City on January 16, 1954. They lived in New York and in Paris; around 1958, the couple began spending summers in Cadaqués, Spain, on the Costa Brava.[1] They were together until his death in 1968. Following Duchamp's death, Alexina moved to Villiers-sous-Grez, near Paris, where she assembled an archive of photographs and other material documenting the life and work of her late husband. She maintained a close friendship with many of Duchamp's friends, including Jasper Johns, Richard Hamilton, composer John Cage, Gianfranco Baruchello (artist) and choreographer Merce Cunningham.[5] Alexander Calder presented her with individually designed jewelry. She also served as an honorary trustee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which has the largest collection of Duchamp's work.

[From Wikipedia:]


The "real thing" wasn't there (except in miniature), so I decided to make my own. The readymade (readypic) was in the Norton Simon's john.


Norton Simon: Duchamp to Pop [3.24.16]

I was interested in the Duchamp more than the Pop.







Norton Simon: Jean Arp [3.24.16]

Norton Simon: Sam Francis (from a Distance) [3.24.16]

Norton Simon: Aggressive Geese [3.24.16]

Norton Simon: Sitting Cheetah by Gwynn Murrill [3.24.16]

Norton Simon: Maillol [3.24.16]




Norton Simon: Barbara Hepworth [3.24.16]



Norton Simon: Degas' Little Girl [3.24.16]

Been there before. Duchamp to Pop attracted me this time. Per usual, I tried to look at old things in a new way and in new things I rolled the dice. Something like that.



Paradise: Even I'm outside the Frame [3/25/16]

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Elizabeth Bishop on J. D. Salinger

... I HATED THE Salinger story. It took me days to go through it, gingerly, a page at a time, and blushing with embarrassment for him every ridiculous sentence of the way. How can they let him do it? That horrible self-consciousness, every sentence comments on itself and comments on itself commenting on itself, and I think it was actually supposed to be funny. And if the poems were so good, why not just give us one or two and shut up, for God's sake? That Seymour figure doesn't impress me at all as anything extra -- or is that the point and I've been missing it? GOD is in any slightly superior, sensitive, intelligent human being or something? or WHAT? and WHY? And is it true that The New Yorker can't change a word he writes? It seems to be the exact opposite of those fine old-fashioned standards of writing Andy White admires so, and yet it isn't "experimental" or original -- it's just tedious. Now if I am running counter to all the opinions at present, tell me why, because I'd like to know how it can be defended ... Perhaps Seymour isn't supposed to be anything out of the ordinary, nor his poems either, so that all that writhing and reeling is to show the average man trying to express his love for his brother, or brotherly love? Well, Henry James did it much better in one or two long sentences.

Robert Lowell's "Skunk Hour"

    Skunk Hour

     For Elizabeth Bishop
Nautilus Island's hermit
heiress still lives through winter in her Spartan cottage;
her sheep still graze above the sea.
Her son's a bishop. Her farmer
is first selectman in our village;
she's in her dotage.

Thirsting for
the hierarchic privacy
of Queen Victoria's century,
she buys up all
the eyesores facing her shore,
and lets them fall.

The season's ill--
we've lost our summer millionaire,
who seemed to leap from an L. L. Bean
catalogue. His nine-knot yawl
was auctioned off to lobstermen.
A red fox stain covers Blue Hill.

And now our fairy
decorator brightens his shop for fall;
his fishnet's filled with orange cork,
orange, his cobbler's bench and awl;
there is no money in his work,
he'd rather marry.

One dark night,
my Tudor Ford climbed the hill's skull;
I watched for love-cars. Lights turned down,
they lay together, hull to hull,
where the graveyard shelves on the town. . . .
My mind's not right.

A car radio bleats,
"Love, O careless Love. . . ." I hear
my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,
as if my hand were at its throat. . . .
I myself am hell;
nobody's here--

only skunks, that search
in the moonlight for a bite to eat.
They march on their soles up Main Street:
white stripes, moonstruck eyes' red fire
under the chalk-dry and spar spire
of the Trinitarian Church.

I stand on top
of our back steps and breathe the rich air--
a mother skunk with her column of kittens swills the garbage pail.
She jabs her wedge-head in a cup
of sour cream, drops her ostrich tail,
and will not scare.




Bishop's "The Armadillo"

The Armadillo  

For Robert Lowell

This is the time of year

when almost every night

the frail, illegal fire balloons appear.

Climbing the mountain height,


rising toward a saint

still honored in these parts,

the paper chambers flush and fill with light

that comes and goes, like hearts.


Once up against the sky it’s hard

to tell them from the stars—

planets, that is—the tinted ones:

Venus going down, or Mars,


or the pale green one.  With a wind,

they flare and falter, wobble and toss;

but if it’s still they steer between

the kite sticks of the Southern Cross,


receding, dwindling, solemnly

and steadily forsaking us,

or, in the downdraft from a peak,

suddenly turning dangerous.


Last night another big one fell.

It splattered like an egg of fire

against the cliff behind the house.

The flame ran down.  We saw the pair


of owls who nest there flying up

and up, their whirling black-and-white

stained bright pink underneath, until

they shrieked up out of sight.


The ancient owls’ nest must have burned.

Hastily, all alone,

a glistening armadillo left the scene,

rose-flecked, head down, tail down,


and then a baby rabbit jumped out,

short-eared, to our surprise.

So soft!—a handful of intangible ash

with fixed, ignited eyes.


Too pretty, dreamlike mimicry!

O falling fire and piercing cry

and panic, and a weak mailed fist

clenched ignorant against the sky!





Monday, March 21, 2016

Jellies: They're Getting Bigger



Seashell Patches (3.21.16)


Bishop's Poem "One Art"

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Bishop's "Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore"

Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore

From Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, on this fine morning,
     please come flying.
In a cloud of fiery pale chemicals,
     please come flying,
to the rapid rolling of thousands of small blue drums
descending out of the mackerel sky
over the glittering grandstand of harbor-water,
     please come flying.

Whistles, pennants and smoke are blowing. The ships
are signaling cordially with multitudes of flags
rising and falling like birds all over the harbor.
Enter: two rivers, gracefully bearing
countless little pellucid jellies
in cut-glass epergnes dragging with silver chains.
The flight is safe; the weather is all arranged.
The waves are running in verses this fine morning.
     Please come flying.

Come with the pointed toe of each black shoe
trailing a sapphire highlight,
with a black capeful of butterfly wings and bon-mots,
with heaven knows how many angels all riding
on the broad black brim of your hat,
     please come flying.

Bearing a musical inaudible abacus,
a slight censorious frown, and blue ribbons,
     please come flying.
Facts and skyscrapers glint in the tide; Manhattan
is all awash with morals this fine morning,
     so please come flying.

Mounting the sky with natural heroism,
above the accidents, above the malignant movies,
the taxicabs and injustices at large,
while horns are resounding in your beautiful ears
that simultaneously listen to
a soft uninvented music, fit for the musk deer,
     please come flying.

For whom the grim museums will behave
like courteous male bower-birds,
for whom the agreeable lions lie in wait
on the steps of the Public Library,
eager to rise and follow through the doors
up into the reading rooms,
     please come flying.
We can sit down and weep; we can go shopping,
or play at a game of constantly being wrong
with a priceless set of vocabularies,
or we can bravely deplore, but please
     please come flying.

With dynasties of negative constructions
darkening and dying around you,
with grammar that suddenly turns and shines
like flocks of sandpipers flying,
     please come flying.

Come like a light in the white mackerel sky,
come like a daytime comet
with a long unnebulous train of words,
from Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, on this fine morning,
     please come flying.

Openings #1 & #2


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Dylan Thomas reads "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"

From Bishop's Letters: The Death of Dylan Thomas

... In Time -- two weeks ago now -- I saw a mysterious little announcement of the death of Dylan Thomas. It must be true, but I still can't believe it -- even if I felt during the brief time I knew him that he was headed that way. I just can't believe it and dread what might have happened to him -- in New York ... Thomas's poetry is so narrow -- just a straight conduit between birth & death, I suppose -- with not much space for living along the way.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Mr. C. -- Courting the Evanjellicles

He claims he's not a political animal, but I know different. I caught up with Mr. C. down at the lagoon an hour or so ago. He was courting the Evanjellicles.






Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" -- Still Keeping My Attention

Of course my attention is very scattered these days. I do like her letters however, probably even more than most of her poetry. I will keep reading at least until Frisch's Montauk comes (up till now, a hard to get Frisch -- I've read it only once -- but the Kindle version is due out at the end of March). Elizabeth is in Brazil. She's in her Lota phase.



To Kit and Ilse Barker

               October 12, 1952
     ... One of the charms of this place is that it almost never feels like Sunday -- maybe because it's a sort of lukewarm Catholic country -- but today it does, and I'm all alone for the time being in the large half-finished chilly house -- with an oil lamp lit at 3 p.m. to keep me warm. No it isn't hot now, but it is starting to get warm again. It was scorching in Rio when I was there last week, but here it's always much cooler. I'll quote from my geography book: "During the summer months the wealthier people (that's me) of Rio de Janeiro seek the lower temperature (9 degrees) and the more active social life of the community at Petropolis, on the crest of the Great Escarpment." It calls up a vision of everyone doing a samba along the skyline, but the social life up here where I am is very limited -- a few friends make it up the mountain over the weekends, and arrive with their cars spouting boiling water, but the rest of the time we go to bed to read at 9:30, surrounded by oil lamps, dogs, moths,  mice, bloodsucking bats, etc. I like it so much that I keep thinking I have died and gone to heaven, completely undeservedly. My New England blood tells me that no, it isn't true. 

Luck of the Irish??? [TGIF: 3.11.16]

Backtracking a bit, but that's the nature of Blogsville. Had to post this.



Catalina: Day #2 (3.6.16): Will Richards Art Studio

Weird and Wacky, but it caught our attention. We were on the way to the Wrigley Memorial and it was just down a side street. I'm sure Huell Howser stopped here. Reminded me a bit of Nitt Witt Ridge in Cambria.