Sep. 1, 2005
Apartment House At Evening
Poem: "Apartment House At Evening," by Gregory Djanikian, from Years Later © Carnegie Mellon University Press. Reprinted with permission.
Apartment House At Evening
Something about a hundred windows
lit up like a ship's upper decks, something
about the weed trees
tossing like water below
and the cumulus steam
from the boiler stacks billowing away
and something, too, about a woman
taking off her heels and leaning
dreamily on the balcony railing
as if there's an ocean about her
and something about the laundry
strung up between apartments
like flags signalling the future
and about the samba now
wafting in the cool breeze
and moonlight falling from everywhere
and Nevrig dancing on the rooftop with Aram
and the city blazing with lights
like a harbor about to be left behind
with its customs house and identity cards,
the lines untied, the deep
horizonless night rolling in.
Literary and Historical Notes:
It's the anniversary of the attack that began WWII in 1939. At 11 minutes after five in the morning, Hitler issued a proclamation for his army to invade Poland. He claimed it was a counterattack, that the Poles had started the whole thing, but in reality, German troops had been moving to the eastern border for weeks; Polish troops had simply moved up to their own border to defend it. Hitler had recently signed a pact with Soviet Premier Josef Stalin, surprising everyone, because the two men had been sworn enemies. Their intention was to carve up Poland, giving the western third to Germany while the Soviets took the rest. American journalist William Shirer, stationed in Berlin, wrote in his journal on the morning of September 1: "A gray morning with overhanging clouds. At dawn this morning Hitler moved against Poland. It's a flagrant, inexcusable, unprovoked act of aggression. The Luftwaffe was mounting anti-aircraft guns to protect Hitler when he addressed the German Parliament at ten this morning. Throughout the speech, I thought, as I listened, ran a curious strainas though Hitler himself were dazed at the fix he had gotten himself into, and felt a little desperate about it. There was much less cheering in the Parliament than on previous, less important occasions... Tomorrow Britain and France probably will come in, and you will have your second World War."
Britain and France, allied with Poland, entered the war two days later. But by then it was too late to save Poland. The German army unleashed the new form of warfare they called Blitzkrieg, or "lightning war," and within six days had taken Krakow. Within 10 they were outside Warsaw. By early October, Poland had fallen.
It's the birthday of conductor Seiji Ozawa, born in Hoten Manchuko, China (1935), but Japanesethe first Japanese conductor to achieve prominence in the Western world.
It's the birthday of one of the greatest jazz alto sax players, Art Pepper, born in Gardena, California (1925).
It's the birthday of poet Blaise Cendrars born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland (1887).
It's the birthday of American novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs, born in Chicago (1875). His first Tarzan story appeared in 1912, and Burroughs followed it with the novel Tarzan of the Apes (1914), the story of an English nobleman who was abandoned in the African jungle during infancy and brought up by apes.
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