I am sitting here drinking beer and eating crackers and everyone else is in bed much earlier than usual, I think because we had a little heat wave here in the suburbs today. The weather station gadget I bought my father for his seventy-fifth birthday last month showed the temperature in the living room to be eighty degrees at nine o’clock p.m. But open a window? Are you crazy? It may be spring but apparently it’s still too early to break the vacuum seal on the house. Which means that already things are starting to smell just a little bit funny.
We got the bickering over first thing this morning, and settled into a snoozy family day in which Jackson’s new favorite movie, Toy Story, and his old favorite, Snow White, were watched an amazing One Time Only Each. The Snow White viewing prompted some charming memories from my still-hooked-up-to-an-oxygen-tube father, including the one where they took his whole school on buses into downtown Minneapolis in the middle of the week to see it in a theater when it first came out in 1937. And despite my smirkiness toward Miss White herself, (I am going to drop this subject soon, I promise), I do like that Happy reminds me exactly of my uncle Jeff, especially the yodeling.
It’s still Poetry Month and I am at an almost total loss for poetry worth posting. When I was packing it was either shoes or an armload of verse, and you know how that went. Yesterday I took Jackson over to a local chain bookstore hoping to find an anthology of all my favorite poems and was shocked to discover that no such thing existed, and that the new Norton Anthology of Everything I Probably Wanted was a two-volume shrink-wrapped seventy-five dollar boxed set that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to take back to the register two weeks later and pretend I hadn’t read. So I settled on a pretty okay anthology edited by Robert Bly and his little men’s group. I think by the end of this trip I’ll be able to come up with a decent list of things that annoy me about Mr. Bly and his chapter headings, but right now I’ll just say, “Quinn the Eskimo”? I mean, I know Christopher Ricks has made a career out of teaching Bob Dylan songs at Oxford, but this whole lyrics-as-poetry thing pulls no weight with me. And he’s in there, like, twice.
This I much prefer, as it needs no musical accompaniment.
from The Man With the Blue Guitar
The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.
They said, “You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.”
The man replied, “Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”
And they said then, “But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,
A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are.”