Monday, November 30, 2009
And also, I'd like to dedicate this one to Tom at TomB. Photography, because he is doing simply outstanding work, and so far it looks like not alot of folks have discovered his blog, unless they are all lurkers not leaving any words in his comment box . . . anyway, see for yourself. . .
I wrote the below piece nearly exactly 20 years ago, while living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but getting ready to depart to other horizons. Sometimes when you know you are going to be leaving a place, probably forever, it takes on a strange light. I had to wait 20 years to get the photo that goes with this poem here... a near perfect fit, taken just yesterday afternoon, before stumbling on the cemetery where the below described tomb was found. When the time draws nigh to leave this life, I wonder what things are going to start looking like then ? For info, this photo was not re-worked in any way, shape or form, the distortion is naturally occurring, the effect of a truck no doubt having somehow hit the mirror in question. Will have to go back and try this again under some different lighting conditions...
I was stopped at the traffic light
Stopped, sitting still
But outside… everything was moving.
Trees were swaying dangerously
Parked cars were swerving
Toward the curbs
Yellow stripes on the road
Slithered into the distance
Power lines overhead
Spun a dizzying jump-rope dance
Brick buildings were bouncing
And leaning into Escher perspectives
Threatening to assume
A permanent Pisa pose
Sidewalk squares swirled
Like the rapids in Pole Creek Canyon
The town began to tilt
Until I stared straight down
At the vanishing point
On the undulating horizon
Patches of the scene became hazy
And disappeared, then reappeared
Magnesium bright ghost lights
Hovered in the gutters
Only my radial tires’ steel grip
Kept me glued there
Until the traffic light
As I drove home
I recognized that
The distortion was internal
This town is slipping into the surreal
Because I know that I am leaving.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
And were such an occasion to transpire, the photographic results might look something like the following series of photos . . .
(to render the page layout work here less tedious, I split this post into three parts; should you happen to wish to berate me in the comment box for abusing your goodwill and forcing you, well, no one is forcing you, to look at what some may consider to be visual drivel, the comment box is available after part 3 here. Should you fall asleep before reaching the end of part 3, I will understand that this post may receive few comments . . . but in any case, I thank you for putting up with me . . .)
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I had left the big heavy red crowbar
Lying a little too close
To where I was digging
With the pick-axe
Trying to excavate
The massive cement slabs
Which the idiot previous owners
Of this house had partially buried
Around the edge of the sand filled pit
In the back yard
That served god only knows what
Incomprehensible purpose for them
They didn’t have any more kids at home
When they built it
These days all the neighborhood cats
Were using it for their shitting ground
And pissing palace
Midnight meowing and howling ring
And we’d had about enough of that
So there I was
Swinging that damn pick-axe
For all I was worth
Starting to sweat in the cool October air
Plowing through sand
And the packed dirt below
Cursing at tree roots and buried rocks
Waiting to hear the knock
Of iron axe on wood
If I hit one of the coffins
That must be there somewhere
Or the chest of buried gold
When my hard swung axe
Collided with the end of the crowbar
That was hanging over the edge
Of the mystery pit
Launching it into the air
With a resounding clang
At a terrific velocity
End over end
I actually heard it whistling
In slow motion
Right past my right ear
Aware of a red blur
Streaking by my eye
As it rocketed upward
Into the tree branches above me
I heard it slashing through leaves
Like a helicopter rotor blade
Like a machete
Wielded by King Kong
And then it fell
Harmlessly in a shrub
Bounced back down to earth
Hardly was airborne
More than a few seconds
I was naturally a little shaken
Couldn’t believe it in fact
In a state of denial
I mean the damn thing
Could have killed me
And who would have believed it
A crowbar for crying out loud
What are the chances
Of that happening ?
And how embarrassing
It would have been
To have to have been taken
To the hospital
With a crowbar
Sticking out of my ear
Better to be dead than alive
In that case
Or if it had just struck
A glancing blow
Enough to open up
A gaping bloody wound
Needing forty stitches to close it
How do you explain that
To the emergency room nurse
And how would my wife have felt
If she had found me there
On my back with a crowbar
Sticking out my mouth in the air
A somewhat surprised look
On my glazed over eyes ?
How many people are victims
Of launched tool accidents
Every year anyway
Flying crowbars clawhammers
Nail-guns chainsaws and whatnot ?
I got off very easy this time
Feel like I won the lottery in fact
One way or the other
Could have programmed
That is what you could call
A very close call
And it will teach me
Not to leave that big red crowbar
Lying just any old place
The next time
I’m out raising hell
In the backyard
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Two hearts in a weathered window . . . casting heart shaped sunbeams into a shuttered room . . .
Two hearts in a graveyard . . . Even "Until Death Do Us Part" couldn't keep them apart . . .
They were going to brick up both of these windows, but ran out of bricks . . .
Looks like they ran out of paint too in the middle of the job . . .
Monday, November 23, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Suppose you had a rough and tumble week at work, and were well and truly ready for some serious relaxation this weekend, and you had a sudden hankering for night out at a fine restaurant with excellent food and service, followed by a night in a really good hotel ? If that's the case, then I'm going to share a little secret with you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone, ok ? Raise your right hand and swear ? This may be one of the best kept secrets in all of France. This could be one of the best kept secrets in the entire world, for that matter. The secret is the fabulously good restaurant and hotel run by Patrick Jeffroy at the Hotel de Carantec, in the town of Carantec, which is on the northern coast of Brittany, close to the small city of Morlaix, overlooking the sea. But really, you have to promise not to tell, I'd hate to see this place get swarmed by such big hordes of tourists that I could no longer get my favorite table by the windows . . .
From New York you can now take the new A380 service offered by Air France to Paris, and then it is a three hour TGV train ride to Morlaix. From the station in Morlaix it is perhaps a 15 minute taxi drive to Carantec on the coast ; then you can check into a few nights of paradise on Earth . . .
How I would love to invite all of you over for a long and leisurely dinner here where we could share our tales of blogging adventures . . . and talk of everything else east of the sun and west of the moon . . .
The blue lobster sculpture on the facade gives you a little clue as to the orientation of the menu, but lobster is far from the only specialty to be found there. I would strongly recommend the "filet de bar" (sea bass), perhaps accompanied by a meursault white wine from Burgundy ? But that is just one of many terribly tempting possibilities here . . . however, if you stay for a week, you can try nearly all of them, between lunch and dinners.
Should you feel you've eaten too much, you can always work off your excesses with brisk walks along the coastline, enjoying the beautiful views on the water and many small islands, or go out at low tide to the isle Callot for a longer walk with unbeatable Brittany scenery. Or spend entire days afield visiting a myriad of possible destinations in the region from Brest to Quimper, to the central hills of Brittany where a multitude of small and fascinating villages lie hidden, usually with historically interesting treasures of one sort or another . . .
Some of the hotel rooms are under the eaves, in turn under the blue Brittany skies . . . There is a saying in Brittany : The weather is nice several times a day. True, there may be some clouds and drizzle from time to time, but there are also stretches of gorgeous skies, which change all the time.
The view from the large bay windows in the restaurant is unbelievable, out over the Bay of Morlaix. No wonder they're called bay windows ! Watching the light change on the water as the sun goes down and the sky turns dark, while the first courses are being washed down with a glass of wine (from their fabulous wine list) . . . it just doesn't get much better than that.
Two mirrored signs outside for the hotel and the restaurant . . . I've never stayed in the hotel, as we stay in my mother-in-law's house just up the street from the hotel. But I've looked at the rooms, and they look wonderfully comfortable. Simplicity and good taste reign here . . .
I love the red lobster who holds up the menu case near the entrance outside. The entire menu is on their website in French. I'm not going to go into the details here, as I would probably be accused of cruel and unusual temptation to feloniously good dining, but I can assure you, every dish is beautifully and artfully presented, in perfectly mouth-watering splendor. Patrick Jeffroy is an entirely extraordinary culinary wizard.
On your way out don't hesitate to pick up one or two of their beautiful bookmarks so you'll have a souvenir of the wonderful night you just had, and their phone number for the next time you wish to make a reservation . . .
Thursday, November 19, 2009
A plaque in the stone wall outside the prison states that this was the last place that some men stayed after much suffering, drawn into the war and toward their tragic destiny, Prison of Pontaniou, August 1944. I couldn't find much to elaborate on what happened here during the Second World War when the Germans used this building to imprison resistance fighters, some of whom were deported from here to camps in Germany or farther east.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
And how many women on this poor sodding planet live frozen prison lives, imprisoned by brutality, imprisoned by cruel economic need, imprisoned and impregnated against their will, as though frozen under glass, helpless to breathe, turned to ice like the White Witch's prisoners in Narnia . . .
I Never Even Look
By the side of the road
I take to work every day
Where it goes up and over a hill
There is a small dirt road turn-off
And an abandoned house rotting there
That I never look at as I drive by
Light brown dirt and rocks
In the ragged trail
A dark green plank door off its hinges
Leaning against a stone wall
The dirt track goes up to the field beyond
I can see it in my mind’s eye
Although I never even glance that way
As I drive by
Bent on getting to work
And starting yet another dreary day
In the coal mines of my existence
Behind the blue and yellow prison bars
Of the barbed wire factory
Where airplanes and trucks come and go
Belching great clouds of poisonous fumes
To darken the horizon
And each day when the weather is nice
There is a girl standing in the place
I have never seen
Leaning against the old house
She is young, very young
But not all that young
She wears black leather boots
Tight skirts a blue nylon parka
With fake fur around the cuffs and hood
The rise of pert breasts
Suggested under a white sweater
Sometimes holding an umbrella
In case of sudden showers
And her face is a mystery
Because I have never ever looked
At any of these details
She may be from Kiev or Kosovo
Or Smolensk or Slovakia
How would I know
I never saw her
And today going by
I was in the left lane
Passing a slower car going up the hill
Driving a little too fast
Late for work as usual
I definitely purposely did not turn my head
To see her new purple parka
Nor wonder as I never do
Where she goes with her clients
And what exactly she does with them
That sexy young girl in dark stockings
Who I have never seen
And I wasn’t looking in the mirror
To catch another glimpse
Of her radiant innocence
When a truck pulled out in front of me
And I didn’t see the heavy metal tailgate
Approaching at what seemed to be
The speed of light
Monday, November 16, 2009
And this one I'm tossing out for your perusal for no better reason than it was taken the same day as the rather shiny red shoe, and also contains a mysterious red object . . .
Saturday, November 14, 2009
It is true, when the word "potpourri" commes to mind, I tend to think of a sweet smelling bowl of flowers giving off a warm, rich perfume to scent a room. But did you know the word is from the french "pot" = pot, and "pourri" = rotten, so thus, a rotten pot or a rotten can ? . . . My French dictionary informs me that "potpourri" is a kind of stew composed of various meats and vegetables, and that the word has been in use since the late 1500's. A way to save rotten meat by cooking it up in a stew I guess . . . "Potpourri" sounds like a good name for a blog. I'll bet there already are a blog or two with that name. The French dictionnary also says a "potpourri" may be a literary work assembled from various pieces in no particular order and with no connection between them. Sounds like what I'm doing here.
So, in no particular order . . .
A few posts down we were back on the subject of public toilets in France, as to whether there were any. While visiting the Douaumont Fort at the Verdun battlefield last week, I came across this gem of a toilet facility dating from 1917, which might in cruder terms be known as a "shit can" (excuse my French !), which is another possible translation for "pot pourri" . . . And if they don't hurry up and put some rust remover on this, it is going to disentegrate entirely . . .
Now, all kidding aside, to change gears, one of the very first blogs I discovered and began following regularly about a year ago is Henk Van Es's "Outsider Environments Europe", which is all about outsider art all over Europe, as the title implies. And I'd just like to encourage you all to take a look at Henk's blog, he is digging up information god only knows how about site after fascinating site where art has been created out of doors in all sorts of contexts. His research is meticulous, it is always a pleasure for me when I see a new post is up at O.E.E. And when I saw this cow outside near Verdun, made out of a large metal can, I couldn't help but think of Henk and utter a friendly Mooooooo ! . . . (sorry, it's not the greatest photo I ever made, but there was a large barking dog preventing me from coming closer, so I took this from the car window in a hurry . . .)
While continuing to wander in the countryside northwest of Verdun, I stumbled on a key to the universe. In all likelihood, I think this may be one of the original machines that God used when He created the planet Earth, and the Sun and the Moon, and the rest of the solar system . . .
On a door to an abandoned barn structure adjacent to an abandoned house, all under one roof, there was a sign announcing "Machines à Traire", or "Milking Machines" ! Now I'm sure this is going to bring on a series of raucous and dubious jokes that all start with a line like, "Did you hear about the farmer that . . .", but finding old enamel signs like this in situ is a real pleasure for a guy like me . . . The machine pictured on the sign looks a bit like R2D2 (the octopus version), and I love the outline of a map of France with the radiating red stripes like the flag of imperial Japan . . . priceless !
The front door had definitely seen better days . . .
You can just make out the milking machine sign in the middle of the white door . . . I don't know how I find these places, it is a mystery to me . . .