March 2007


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My son has the soul of an Irish poet. He’s 10 and this is the era of video games, not writing poetry. Still, it’s there. He misses New York, where he was born.
Here’s his school essay on Rain:

When it rains I like walking with no umbrella.
I love, l-o-v-e the rain.
If I had to describe the rain I would say
“It is little pills of waters’ joy!”
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Elegy
by Jack Gilbert

The bird on the other side of the valley
sings cuckoo cuckoo and he sings back, inside,
knowing what it meant to the Elizabethans.
Hoping she is unfaithful now. Delicate
and beautiful, making love with the Devil
in his muggy bedroom behind the shabby office.
While he is explaining the slums were there
when he got the job. And the Buicks burning
by the roads in the dark. He was not the one
doing the judging, he says. Or the one pointing down
at the lakes of burning lead. He is feeding
her lemons. Holding shaved ice in his mouth
and sucking her nipples to help with the heat.

My friend Brian Cullman sent me this quotation. It’s good to feel a bit of the Irish mist float through me, after living so long in sunny Southern California.

“A man got into the carriage and began to play on a fiddle made
apparently of an old blacking-box, and though I am quite unmusical the
sounds filled me with the strangest emotions. I seemed to hear a voice of
lamentation out of the Golden Age. It told me that we are imperfect,
incomplete, and no more like a beautiful woven web, but like a bundle of
cords knotted together and flung into a corner…. It said that with us
the beautiful are not clever and the clever are not beautiful, and that
the best of our moments are marred by a little vulgarity, or by a
needle-prick out of sad recollection, and that the fiddle must ever lament
about it all. It said that if only they who live in the Golden Age could
die we might be happy, for the sad voices would be still; but they must
sing and we must weep until the eternal gates swing open.”

W. B. Yeats, “The Golden Age”

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Heard the sad news today about the passing of Bill Chinnock. Bill was a musician from Maine who I knew in my early days. Even if I haven’t been to my hometown in years, my mind imagines that everyone and everything is still there waiting as it was when I last was there.
Maine is a long hard drive from civilization, a ride I made so many times that I know every turn in the road from Maine to the airport in Boston. Except for the faces and places I love there, I’d rather never make that drive again. But Bill found a home for himself there. He came to Maine from the same New Jersey shore music scene as Bruce Springsteen, and seemingly never looked back. Well, God bless him and the children he left behind.