Nov. 17, 2003
sit and endure
Poem: "sit and endure," by Charles Bukowski, from the night torn mad with footsteps (Black Sparrow Press), and "Or Death and December," by George Garrett, from Days of Our Lives Lie in Fragments (Louisiana State University Press).
sit and endure
well, first Mae West died
and then George Raft,
and Eddie G. Robinson's
a long time,
and Bogart and Gable
and Laurel and
and the Marx Brothers,
all those Saturday
at the movies
as a boy
are gone now
and I look
around this room
and it looks back at me
and then out through
time hangs helpless
from the doorknob
as a gold
of an owl
looks up at me
(an old man now)
who must sit and endure
these many empty
Or Death and December
The Roman Catholic bells of Princeton, New Jersey,
wake me from rousing dreams into a resounding hangover.
Sweet Jesus, my life is hateful to me.
Seven a.m. and time to walk my dog on a leash.
Ice on the sidewalk and in the gutters,
and the wind comes down our one-way street
like a deuce-and-a-half, a six-by, a semi,
huge with a cold load of growls.
There's not one leaf left to bear witness,
with twitch and scuttle, rattle and rasp,
against the blatant roaring of the wrongway wind.
Only my nose running and my face frozen
into a kind of a grin which has nothing to do
with the ice and the wind or death and December,
but joy pure and simple when my black and tan puppy,
for the first time ever, lifts his hind leg to pee.
Literary and Historical Notes:
It was on this day in 1869 that the Suez Canal was formally opened to traffic. The sea-level waterway is 100 miles long, connecting, by way of three natural lakes, the Mediterranean Sea with the Gulf of Suez and the Indian Ocean.
It was on this day in 1558 that Queen Elizabeth I acceded to the English throne upon the death of her sister, Queen Mary. She reigned for 45 years, one of the greatest eras in English history. Near the end of her reign, she said to her subjects: "Though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my crown: that I have reigned with your loves."
It's the birthday of American novelist and historian Shelby Foote, born in Greenville, Mississippi (1916). He was a successful novelist when, in 1952, he accepted the suggestion of his publisher to write a short history of the Civil War to complement his novel Shiloh (1952). The result, The Civil War: A Narrative, was an exhaustive 3,000-page, three-volume history, published a volume at a time in 1958, 1963, and 1974.
It's the birthday of Japanese industrialist Soichiro Honda, born in Iwata-Gun, Japan (1906). He ran several small manufacturing operations before and during World War II. After the war, he had great success manufacturing a small gasoline engine that could be attached to a bicycle to transform it into a motorcycle. He began the Honda Motor Company, producing first motorcycles and then small sports cars.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®