Image-Text-Music, 10.13.14 — Joseph Cornell, Sylvia Plath, Ryan Adams

Joseph Cornell shadow-box, "Untitled (Bebe Marie)" (early 1940s)

Joseph Cornell shadow-box, “Untitled (Bebe Marie)” (early 1940s)

“The Arrival of the Bee Box,” by Sylvia Plath

I ordered this, clean wood box
Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift.
I would say it was the coffin of a midget
Or a square baby
Were there not such a din in it.

The box is locked, it is dangerous.
I have to live with it overnight
And I can’t keep away from it.
There are no windows, so I can’t see what is in there.
There is only a little grid, no exit.

I put my eye to the grid.
It is dark, dark,
With the swarmy feeling of African hands
Minute and shrunk for export,
Black on black, angrily clambering.

How can I let them out?
It is the noise that appalls me most of all,
The unintelligible syllables.
It is like a Roman mob,
Small, taken one by one, but my god, together!

I lay my ear to furious Latin.
I am not a Caesar.
I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.
They can be sent back.
They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner.

I wonder how hungry they are.
I wonder if they would forget me
If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree.
There is the laburnum, its blond colonnades,
And the petticoats of the cherry.

They might ignore me immediately
In my moon suit and funeral veil.
I am no source of honey
So why should they turn on me?
Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free.

The box is only temporary.


Ryan Adams, “Sylvia Plath


Image-Text-Music, 10.8.14 — Marian Drew, Ted Hughes, Patti Smith

Painting is by Marian Drew, “Crow with Salt” from her series “Still Life/Australiana (2003 – 2009)

Photograph is by Marian Drew, “Crow with Salt” from her series “Still Life/Australiana (2003 – 2009)”

“Crow’s Theology,” by Ted Hughes

Crow realized God loved him-
Otherwise, he would have dropped dead.
So that was proved.
Crow reclined, marvelling, on his heart-beat.

And he realized that God spoke Crow-
Just existing was His revelation.

But what Loved the stones and spoke stone?
They seemed to exist too.
And what spoke that strange silence
After his clamour of caws faded?

And what loved the shot-pellets
That dribbled from those strung-up mummifying crows?
What spoke the silence of lead?

Crow realized there were two Gods-

One of them much bigger than the other
Loving his enemies
And having all the weapons.


Patti Smith, “Wing


Image-Text-Music, 10.6.14 — Kobayashi Kiyochika, Joseph Ceravolo, Anna Von Hausswolff

Kobayashi Kiyochika, Japanese, 1847–1915; Scouting Party near Niuzhuang on a Snowy Night, 1894; color woodblock print.

Kobayashi Kiyochika, Japanese, 1847–1915; Scouting Party near Niuzhuang on a Snowy Night, 1894; color woodblock print.

“Cross Fire,” by Joseph Ceravolo


This is the second day without anyone.

I am chinning against a dark sky

to strengthen my arms.

A picture of everyone I love passes through me.


No clear light streams thru this cell.

There’s no dawn.

What have I gained

by lying in this abyss,

waiting for the masonry

to show a little slit

for my soul to get through?



Anna Von Hausswolff, “Track of Time


Image-Text-Music, 10.4.14 — Anselm Kiefer, Louis Simpson, Kate Bush

Painting is by Anselm Kiefer, “"Ein Schwert Verhie? mir der Vater" (“My Father Pledged me a Sword” (1974-75)

Painting is by Anselm Kiefer, “”Ein Schwert Verhie? mir der Vater” (“My Father Pledged me a Sword” (1974-75)

“My Father in the Night Commanding No,” by Louis Simpson


My father in the night commanding No

Has work to do. Smoke issues from his lips;

      He reads in silence.

The frogs are croaking and the street lamps glow.


And then my mother winds the gramophone;

The Bride of Lammermoor begins to shriek—

      Or reads a story—

About a prince, a castle, and a dragon.


The moon is glittering above the hill.

I stand before the gateposts of the King—

      So runs the story

Of Thule, at midnight when the mice are still.


And I have been in Thule! It has come true—

The journey and the danger of the world,

      All that there is

To bear and to enjoy, endure and do.


Landscapes, seascapes … where have I been led?

The names of cities—Paris, Venice, Rome—

      Held out their arms.

A feathered god, seductive, went ahead.


Here is my house. Under a red rose tree

A child is swinging; another gravely plays.

      They are not surprised

That I am here; they were expecting me.


And yet my father sits and reads in silence,

My mother sheds a tear, the moon is still,

      And the dark wind

Is murmuring that nothing ever happens.


Beyond his jurisdiction as I move

Do I not prove him wrong? And yet, it’s true

      They will not change

There, on the stage of terror and of love.


The actors in that playhouse always sit

In fixed positions—father, mother, child

      With painted eyes.

How sad it is to be a little puppet!


Their heads are wooden. And you once pretended

To understand them! Shake them as you will,

      They cannot speak.

Do what you will, the comedy is ended.


Father, why did you work? Why did you weep,

Mother? Was the story so important?

      “Listen!” the wind

Said to the children, and they fell asleep.



Kate Bush, “Watching You Without Me


Image-Text-Music, 10.3.14 — Michael Gregory, Robinson Jeffers, The Field

Painting by Michael Gregory, apparently part of a series called “Yonder” (??)

Painting by Michael Gregory, apparently part of a series called “Yonder” (??)

“The Purse-Seine,” by Robinson Jeffers


Our sardine fishermen work at night in the dark of the moon; daylight or moonlight

They could not tell where to spread the net, unable to see the phosphorescence of the shoals of fish.

They work northward from Monterey, coasting Santa Cruz; off New Year’s Point or off Pegeon Point

The look-out man will see some lakes of mild-color light on the sea’s night-purple; he points, and the helmsman

Turns the dark prow, the motor-boat circles the gleaming shoal and drifts out her seine-net. They close the circle

And purse the bottom of the net, then with great labor haul it in.


                                                                                                I cannot tell you

How beautiful the scene is, and a little terrible, then, when the crowded fish

Know they are caught, and wildly beat from one wall to the other of their closing destiny the phosphorescent

Water to a pool of flame, each beautiful slender body sheeted with flame, like a live rocket

A comet’s tail wake of clear yellow flame; while outside the narrowing

Floats and cordage of the net great sea-liions come up to watch, sighing in the dark; the vast walls of night

Stand erect to the stars.


                                    Lately I was looking from a night mountain-top

On a wide city, the colored splendor, galaxies of light: how could I help but recall the seine-net

Gathering the luminous fish? I cannot tell you how beautiful the city appeared, and a little terrible.

I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together into interdependence; we have built the great cities; now

There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapable of free survival, insulated

From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on all dependent. The circle is closed, and the net

Is being hauled in. They hardly feel the cords drawing, yet they shine already. The inevitable mass-disasters

Will not come in our time nor in our children’s, but we and our children

Must watch the net draw narrower, government take all powers, — or revolution, and the new government

Take more than all, add to kept bodies kept souls, — or anarchy, the mass-disasters.


                        These things are Progress;

Do you marvel our verse is troubled or frowning, while it keeps its reason? Or it lets go, lets the mood flow

In the manner of the recent young men into mere hysteria, splintered gleams, crackled laughter. But they are quite wrong.

There is no reason for amazement: surely one always knew that cultures decay, and life’s end is death.



The Field, “Over the Ice



Image-Text-Music, 10.2.14 — Kenneth Noland, Louise Gluck, Neil Young

“Messengers,” by Louise Glück

You have only to wait, they will find you.
The geese flying low over the marsh,
glittering in black water.
They find you.

And the deer–
how beautiful they are,
as though their bodies did not impede them.
Slowly they drift into the open
through bronze panels of sunlight.

Why would they stand so still
if they were not waiting?
Almost motionless, until their cages rust,
the shrubs shiver in the wind,
squat and leafless.

You have only to let it happen:
that cry — release, release — like the moon
wrenched out of the earth and rising
full in its circle of arrows

until they come before you
like dead things, saddled with flesh,
and you above them, wounded and dominant.


Neil Young, “Helpless


Image-Text-Music, 9.30.14 — Fang Lijun, Stevie Smith, Josh Ritter

Painting by Fang Lijun, "Swimming No. 1" (1994)

Painting by Fang Lijun, “Swimming No. 1” (1994)

“Not Waving But Drowning,” by Stevie Smith


Nobody heard him, the dead man,

But still he lay moaning:

I was much further out than you thought

And not waving but drowning.


Poor chap, he always loved larking

And now he’s dead

It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,

They said.


Oh, no no no, it was too cold always

(Still the dead one lay moaning)

I was much too far out all my life

And not waving but drowning.


Josh Ritter, “New Lover”