Sunday, February 28, 2010


The great Maria de Barros brings us through a week of over three feet of wet snow. Listen.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010


Right after supper while doing the dishes, we both saw the one lamp on by the sink make its tell~tale flicker, and within a minute all the power was gone.

If you only visited us in the summer when the gardens are full and the flower beds fuzzy, you'd never believe your eyes of winter hereabouts.

The woods surround and they bend and creak and bust up and otherwise expand with a deep wet sticking fast snow. One neighbor has already escaped to a warmer climate for a week. In fact, it's about our only neighbor. Stand outside in the dark, look around and know the hollow.

The river muffled under snow. The pathways we shoveled before dark are full of snow again. The Mother's in control.

I take up a book to read and I'll read it all before midnight, cover to cover, by two kerosene lamps. Almost anything to read is comforting in this darkness with small lamps burning. The author is having his first child all the while with two women lovers in his life. Decisions decisions. Suicide is in his family or fatal addictions, and all of this gets batted around. It isn't Chekhov or even Philip Roth, and it reads more like the actor Mark Ruffalo is playing the writer.

The writer does have allegiance to the down-trodden, and I'm attracted to his writing for this; and when his daughter is born and he has a photograph with her in his arms, he is "smiling so broadly that he barely recognizes himself." I'm sure many fathers recognize this, I know I do.

In kerosene lamplight I forgive everything. When the power returns I always hear it burble first in the refrigerator motor, and when the lights are back on, I put the ordinary book down. And yet it is powerfully ordinary. Another new life has changed for the better an old life. I'll read past midnight.


I put on that photograph above of the cherub in the snow path just past midnight Tuesday when I set the book down, and then the power went out for what seemed like forever. Flat out. No burble in any fridge, no warning sign, just crash out. Like a big tree went boom. We got four hours sleep and then snowshovels weren't out of our hands for the next three days. A real STINKER of a snowfall, too — last count, during the three days now becoming four: over two feet of snow. Maybe 30 inches. Did I say snow? Cement is more like it, the true wet stuff. The first morning we were out shoveling the-stupidest-idea-you-ever-had-Bob earthen driveway of 200 feet, white pines and birches around us were snapping and cracking under the weight of the snow. We already saw we lost our favorite small crab apple tree, far older than we are, by the studio door. I built that studio by the tree's shade. Piled my lumber under the tree, where we ate our lunches. Get over it Mr. Romantic. Head down, shovel.

At last count we've watched one plow worker go down the road now three times with three different tractors, nothing is cutting it moving this stuff with a machine. Even the town road plow, when it finally gets down to this river valley (the last served road in town), looks beaten in this stuff. We jumped onto the first 16 inches of snow at the crack of dawn and working with a shovel and no plow in this snowfall is like a woman watching her grandchild in the park, you really watch. A half hour is all the difference in the world between shoveling snow or shoveling mortar out of a wheelbarrow and paying for it dearly. All the roofs I'll have to clear can't be helped. At least the roofs I put on after age 50 are steel and at a 45-50 % angle, purposely so. I watch those roofs clear on their own with a certain pride.

Then there's the one roof on the back of the house I built after age 50, but still a romantic, and I just had to have the eyebrow windows in the low end walls which raised the angle on the roof and gave me this winter nightmare. Pretty in the summer. The thing I swear at the most in the winter. A football field of steel just waiting for me. I still climb up on it like a monkey and sometimes need a full day to clear off properly...because you see, there is another main house roof above it that Einstein also reroofed in steel. But with a steep enough pitch thinking that pitch muster might help push the lower snow field off. And sometimes it does. After over two feet of snow came a steady day of rain and the gods were on our side — it let slip most of that bad roof headache of snow. It would come in stages. One stage was well after dark. We heard one whoosh, the kitten and me. I went out the back door where most of the snow landed (Einstein again), and the kitten followed with me and we had a look. I looked at the happy but deadly wet snow pile, the kitten looked at me.

We've worked 18 hour days the last three days by doing it in shifts — two hours hard work w/shovels or chain saw, then one hour siesta. Siesta meaning melt snow on the woodstove since the power is out and there's no running water, or lights, or small bathroom. Just trim the kerosene wicks and fill the lamps, don't even change out of the pants wet to waist until noontime. Dry those by the fire to change back into at 4 when you go out for the next two hours of work before dark. At dark, read. By woodfire light, by candlelight, by kerosene, and when finally blind, by large flashlight. Read and try to relax even though it's snowing heavily again, or is that rain? If you hear a whoosh off the back roof , it must be rain.

By the next morning I'm roof raking the old duck shed and the smaller woodshed. The big woodshed is clear with its steel. Since the house is 1790 and built like a barn, I roof rake up to the main cross beam running the width of the house eight feet up from the edge of the lower roof line. Now the heavy roof of snow is safe. It's probably safe anyway but I'm in work habit. Come inside for that work siesta and read another tanka by Bill Knott (that he kindly sent to me c/o his Lulu packs), read aloud a poem by Sandburg painting on a high-rise in Chicago ("People Who Must"), eat a pretzel, drink from the jug of water, kiss your co-worker to both stay happy. Always kiss your co-worker.

Nothing is working but the shovels and the kerosene lamps. No one's around to help. Mail isn't delivered. Newspaper's a no-show. E-mails are a million miles away. Snow is the news, deep & serious. Large tree branches are down everywhere, mother nature's war zone. When the phone miraculously wants to work we call someone somewhere and it could be India who tells us 3000 are w/o power. In ten hours that number is down to 35. By dark it's down to seven and I have a sneaky feeling those seven are homes within one to two miles of us. As the rain increases with that snow load in the trees, by morning the number of homes lost to no power is back up to the thousands.

We go through three work gloves a day. Dry them in cycles under the woodstove.

I'll tell you now that by tomorrow and we're in a momentary lull, the chattering goldfinches will be back in their sudden appearance/disappearance act.

But for now take the chain saw w/ snow to the waist and cut out trees, branches and brush snowblown down and ruined. Watch the candles melt down between dark and midnight. Nothing's going to change for awhile. We've already moved all the food perishables outdoors in sacks or into snowbanks as temporary refrigeration. Seven red squirrels found the food, seven squirrels were shot. It's the law of the jungle. I thought we already had an agreement they feed off the birdfeeders and we all subsist? Winter after winter. When we brought outdoors what we eat and they went for that, well...

This is the late winter snow report. What's ahead? Six weeks of mud. Stay where you are.

photos © susan & bob arnold

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


What has happened —

for days and days all we have heard about

is the great snowstorm heading our way

best stock up, best finish up last minute things

best wait and ponder and worry about

this approaching snow

whatever happened to awakening to snow falling

in the far north woods

where you live

photo © bob arnold

I watched the weather last night and looked at the map — heavy snow in parts of Texas. . .

all for Kim

Santa Fe has received the foot of snow we are about to receive. Or two feet. You never know here. An extra inch in Texas is a foot. Here a foot is foot. We will be with snow shovels in hand up to Friday.

As I finished up the snow news in the southwest, another friend buzzed in a letter and said what snow was now in outer Detroit, coming heavy. That was most likely the snow we are now feeling slowly but surely. Nothing like snow that visits and visits us all! Take it that way, give it to someone else.

We won't be like the kitten in the living room watching all the world of snow just come down, come down. And then he'll only live 12-15 years at the outset. Our dogs made it about the same length of time. Our geese only lived 10 years, ducks a little under that, chickens barely live. The ladybug now on my arm, maybe one season. This thought is about to end.

I sometimes like to go out in the new snow falling and bring in heavy armloads of oak and beech stovewood in my slippers. I look down at my feet and say to myself you're in your slippers.

I'm about to post a little poster of the new book I'm reading on the Harvard squad of psychedelic rompers Leary, Ram Dass, Weil and one not so well known, but the true prophet of that age, Huston Smith. I've grown weary of my younger self who was partly fueled and brought this far on the Beats, acid freaks and black revolutionaries. Old self never forgets how he got here. Respect bows in all 4 directions. Then cuts out the chaff.

There's new stuff all the time to help us along.

In the music dept. at your job take a listen, when the guards allow you to, to the new Chris Smither's CD. It's thin and in cardboard, just out. From the first note in, you're in good hands. From a guy who never had to try to make black singer blues. It's hard enough being white. It's hard enough being.

Last night lounging on the sofa bed spread open on the lv room floor we watched Julie & Julia, the silly latest from Nora Ephron, and since it made us feel like two girls, we enjoyed it through & through. Cutie-Pie loved the bed. He'd never seen it before! We have to remember to pull it out more often.

In another hour I'll be out of slippers and in boots.

Sweetheart asked, "You sure you want to reveal all this about slippers?"

I smiled and said, "You bet."

top photo © bob arnold

(Harper One 2010)

starring the well known Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), Andrew Weil, and a much lesser known and quieter Huston Smith. . .

. . . who the author Don Lattin describes exactly this way halfway through his survey of a mind expanded time.

"The conference at the University of California offices in San Francisco went on as scheduled. But even before Huston [Smith] delivered his paper, [Paul] Lee could see that the distinguished philosophy professor was getting tired of the circus surrounding the early years of the psychedelic scene. What had been going on back east was bad enough. But this West Coast scene was out of control. These were bacchanalian rites, and they were going down on an unprecedented scale. It was downright Dionysian.

Huston no longer wanted to be associated with the social movement that was coalescing around Leary and Alpert and Ken Kesey and the Grateful Dead. Smith looked at all the sexuality immortality inspired by Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, and the psychedelic religion and was reminded of what Friedrich Nietzsche said about Christ's disciples — how they "should look more redeemed". To Huston's mind, steeped in the history of religious movements. Leary and Alpert's actions smacked of antinomianism, the Christian heresy that asserts that true believers are exempt from moral and civil laws because they're already saved.

"Huston was a moralist", Paul Lee would later explain. "He thought this antinomian trend was something to criticize. We said, "Oh, man. Come on, Huston. Lighten up. Just because you were born in China to Methodist missionaries." But he thought that because he was identified with all this, he had to critically comment on it. He did, and he was right. A lot of lives were damaged. Huston sounded the sour note at the conference, but in retrospect, I think that was important. But at the time, everybody just sniffed at him."

It's telling.

Huston Smith was a tolerant teacher and guide toward varied cultural beliefs and religions. He was instrumental in introducing the Dalai Lama to the West.

Monday, February 22, 2010


collage & photo © bob arnold

Sunday, February 21, 2010






photo © bob arnold


To be a success, me boy

you have to write the stuff

the people want

what do they want?

what do they want?!

they want the stuff that

makes them feel miserable

to make some sense and it only

makes sense if you're miserable, too

so stop with the love poems

even though every one secretly

loves love poems

vincent t. lives maybe 12 miles from me

we've never met

no man is

an island

wanna bet?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Let us return to old times, and that will be progress
— Igor Stravinsky


The one or two things I have been thinking about lately —

what happened to all the poets I was reading in the 60s-70s? Did they all just one day blow away? I have a library in the thousands of such books and I hate to tell you we have a bookshop with much of the same; and on top of that, I have close friends who care for me and Sweetheart, who wonder how we are possibly making a living? Like always, scratching away. Working all the time on a magnanimous load of wasted time. That’s dreamers for you. And even more, we publish all the time poets who don’t sell but write wonderful work. Ain’t life grand? I mean it is.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is what in the world has happened to the world —

meaning, how we operate in it and so with one another. We actually aren’t. I hesitate to knock, even though I have, Twitter users and cellphones and all the junk that now fills our daily lives. Not my life, but lives of people I could be tossing a ball to, or having a conversation with, or waving hello to, or walking into a room where there is one person and only me and that person is having the grandest time yakking into his cellphone. I say leave home and so leave home, leave the stuff at home. Return to the world and be part of it. Carry away from home a book in your pocket, a fiddle on the back seat, guitar, a pair of binoculars, okay take a camera....but Blackberry, Twitter, cellphone, all the gizmos, keep those in their place: for an emergency, for practical use. Get back to talking to one another, walking down the street open for action. Ever think about whistling while you walk?

photo © susan arnold

Thursday, February 18, 2010


It's time to say goodbye to a poet — one I heard read in a small town library 35 years ago and of the many readings I've dropped into and out of, indoors & outdoors, this one was one of the best. A friendly poet, a giving poet, a poet ready for conversation and strangers afterwards. All in a small town that folded up at dark. Poetry, because of Lucille, the only show that day in town.

Move three decades later and here is a poem I liked to read on the street with friends when we were working with villagers to make a little of their money to send down to New Orleans and victims of Katrina. Lucille's poem rang always so true.


. . . at the river i stand,
guide my feet, hold my hand

i was raised
on the shore
of lake erie
e is for escape

there are more s'es
in mississippi
than my mother had

this river never knew
the kingdom of dahomey

the first s
begins in slavery
and ends in y
on the bluffs

of memphis
why are you here
the river wonders
northern born

looking across buffalo
you look into canada toronto
is the name of the lights
burning at night

the bottom of memphis
drops into the nightmare
of a little girl's fear
in fifteen minutes

they could be here
i could be there
not the river the state

and chaney
and goodman


and cheney
and goodman
and medgar

my mother had one son
he died gently near lake erie

some rivers flow back
toward the beginning
i never learned to swim

will i float or drown
in this mississippi
on the mississippi river

what is this southland
what has this to do with egypt
or dahomey
or with me

so many questions
northern born


Tuesday, February 16, 2010


PAST ONE O'CLOCK. . . (1930)

Past one o'clock. You must have gone to bed.

The milky way streams silver through the night.

I'm in no hurry; with lightning telegrams

I have no cause to wake or trouble you.

And, as they say, the incident is closed.

Love's boat has smashed against the daily grind.

Now you and I are quits. Why bother then

To balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts.

Behold what quiet settles on the world.

Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars.

In hours like this, one rises to address

The ages, history, and all creation.

trans. George Reavey

A brilliantly sized and scoped feeling nonanthology~anthology of writings by and about Vladimir Mayakovsky, the unofficial poet laureate of the Russian Revolution, as if official ever meant anything to such a big-hearted river man. Here are short essays, ruminations, art work, daring photographs, plenty of the stalwart poems, and just getting the right breed of translators and thinkers to tinker with this mighty one. Testimonials often like to align Allen Ginsberg, Frank O'Hara and Kenneth Koch as the "most conspicuous inheritors of Mayakovskian energy and style", and somehow leave out the most most conspicuous: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Hirschman, Margaret Randall, Thomas McGrath and Charles Bukowski. Can't you just see Bukowski and Mayakovsky delivering mail together!

from HOW ARE VERSES MADE? (1926)

I walk along, waving my arms and mumbling almost wordlessly, now shortening my steps so as not to interrupt my mumbling, now mumbling more rapidly in time with my steps.

So the rhythm is trimmed and takes shape — and rhythm is the basis for any poetic work, resounding through the whole thing. Gradually, individual words begin to ease themselves free of this dull roar.

Several words just jump away and never come back, others hold on, wriggle and squirm a dozen times, until you can't imagine how any word will ever stay in its place (this sensation, developing with experience, is called talent). . .

Where this basic dull roar of a rhythm comes from is a mystery. In my case it's all kinds of repetitions in my mind of noises, rocking motions, or in fact any phenomena with which I can associate a sound. The sound of the sea, endlessly repeated, can provide my rhythm, or a servant who slams the door every morning, recurring and intertwining with itself, trailing through my consciousness, or even the rotation of the earth, which in my case, as in a shop of visual aids, gives way to and inextricably connects with the whistle of a high wind.

Rhythm is the fundamental force, the fundamental energy of verse. You can't explain it, you can only talk about it as you do about magnetism and electricity. The rhythm can be the same in a lot of poems, even in the whole oeuvre of the poet, and still not make the work monotonous, because a rhythm can be so complex, so intricately shaped, that even several long poems won't exhaust its possibilities. . .

It's a good idea to write a poem about the first of May in November or December, when you feel a desperate need for May.

In order to write about the tenderness of love, take Bus No. 7 from Lubyansky Square to Nogin Square. The appalling jolting will serve to throw into relief for you, better than anything else, the charm of a life transformed. A shake-up is essential, for the purposes of transformation.

trans. G.M. Hyde

(Farrar), edited by MICHAEL ALMEREYDA

Sunday, February 14, 2010


(morning noon night)

-------------------------------for Susan

photo © bob arnold


I won't get no tattoo

wear no earring

put big holes in the lobes of my enlightenment


I'm still dressing in

slim jeans, blue work shirt, boots

just like I have for 6 decades no

no reason to change

cheap living

no tattoo either on my love

no spread tattoo just

below her waist like I

see regular office worker

young woman has when she

drops papers at the post office

and bends to retrieve

the same tattoo rising

out of her skirt

the same tattoo her husband

or boyfriend likes on porno sites

looks strange peeking out of

professional dress

get off my back about your dull

slacker and no intimacy ways of

not loving

give me love and buckets of it

kiss me right in public

hold my hand

have the erotic be neurotic

right in the every day



no posing, no airs

just the blue skies and eyes with no lies


There is the absolute way

Of doing it, and we have done it

Many times and again

How I will come to you

How you will meet me

The early morning sun

Perfect on the bed and the

Stripes in the Mexican blanket

Like blood, the sea, yellow iris petals

And it is a silly lovers ritual of ours

I hug you and you hug me and step onto

My boots and I walk you and me around the

Sunlit room, the way of patchouli in your hair

And your face smooth against my lips

Like the inside of your hands


Between Ives and Messiean you move and I move with you.

In one more stupid mall with cheap price CDs and three

hundred Sunday shoppers all with the same behavioral instincts,

what’s to look at? The ceiling is more curious, all suspended

with some panels complete, some open straight up to the no man’s

land of steel trusses and cheapness. I know when it rains it

rains in the book section, and wouldn’t you know? A leak in

the roof still to be found. Before we leave with our fix of

CDs Carson wants to take me back into the book section to show

me where he sits each time we come right in front of a rack

of comic books and he often brings real books to this chair.

Now I know where to find him. I remind him this is the best

way to use this place — read for hours on a rainy day respectful

of the merchandise but don’t buy a thing. How I move with you

is standing still, not even thinking of much; will it be a CD

Ives or Messiean juggling prices, and in green cotton dress

between racks you hesitate in its alphabetical organization,

tight waist and hips curve, a freshly and very fuckable look

between us.

Friday, February 12, 2010


please click onto poems to enlarge

Available from Longhouse

Dudley Laufman is a fiddler, poet, storyteller, and general good ol' boy from New Hampshire. I believe Dudley told me once upon a time he and a group of fiddlers performed at the Newport Folk Festival when Dylan went electric. He's been many published, and with Jacqueline Laufman, they are the proprietors of Wind in the Timothy Press.

photo Jane Eklund

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


please click onto poems to enlarge

Available from Longhouse

Bob & Susan met Gloria Frym once upon a time in a car ride in downtown Milwaukee on our combined way to some Lorine Niedecker event. There was an immediate liking. Some of her books include Distance No Object, How I Learned, and By Ear. She lives in Berkeley and teaches at California College of the Arts.

photo Ruth Morgan

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Catching snow

Flakes on my glove

Has been enough

photos © bob arnold

Friday, February 5, 2010


dorothy day

Film Clips You May Watch ~ just click a title!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


DVD: Franco Beltrametti / SUONI E IMMAGINI
4 videos di Claudio Tettamanti
Edizione 2009

Chance is like an intersecting angel

Franco Beltrametti

Maybe you have a friend in Italy, like I do. Maybe that friend is a very good friend, like mine, and sends you a DVD of the artist, poet and performer Franco Beltrametti. What makes this a good friend is I didn't even ask for the film. I didn't even know of the film. This friend was thinking of me. Franco would like that because Franco was much like that, thinking with and for others. I only met him a few times — and we corresponded and exchanged gifts, too — but each time was in the right company, always with a close mutual friend. Walls were already down. We could reach for the horizon.

In 1965, from his home in Switzerland, Franco hatched this idea, maybe sprung from Cendrars? to get aboard the Siberian Express and travel to Japan where he would meet for the first time Cid Corman, Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen, American poets all. In the spring of 1967 he arrived on the west coast aboard the freighter Washington Bear where he was met by Jim Koller, and friendships would ensue from there with Koller, Joanne Kyger and others. They, of course, all put their tribal heads together and by the 70s Franco began to play a pivotal role in bringing many of these poets over to Europe. He would first warm up the audience at home by including these poets in many anthologies published in the neighborhood, mainly in Italy. Then later in the decade Franco invited many of these same poets to participate in the One World Poetry festivals held in Venice & Amsterdam. Strong international friendships were bonded to this day.

The only time Franco came to our house in Vermont, he actually showed Susan and me his etchings. It's true, artists will seduce you with their etchings, and if the etchings are this fine and involving and true to the moment, then seduce away. Often within Franco's art, his poems will be.

Many knew Franco much better than I. Friends like those mentioned above, and Stefan Hyner, Rita Degli Esposti and Louise Landes Levi. A good bunch. When one of these friends brought Franco to our house we had a warm meal waiting, a big yard of flowers growing, and a bed to sleep in. Before we retired we sat down and watched Kirk Douglas in the film Lonely Are the Brave. Italians love films, Franco knew this film, and he knew the American west where this film was coming from. So all our little audience was nodding and smiling and not saying much, but watching & listening.

In this DVD we have Franco at home in Switzerland, talking amongst his as-if stone layered stacks of books, and I mean many thousands — some carefully shelved in floor to ceiling bookcases, decorated with art work, postcards, postings from friends, found objects, twigs & seeds. This is a man who flows like air between indoors and outdoors, and while the interview carries on we are taken outdoors with Franco and then we come back indoors and talk some more. Here he chain smokes, goes quiet and thinks, talks some more. He's talking to someone he likes or wants to like. This is a very thoughtful and friendly man. Of the quartet of portraits in this DVD this is the only part where you will be helped along with English subtitles.

The remaining three portraits are on the move with Franco catching a train with Jim Koller, or in a museum exhibit of Franco's work with many people in many rooms, always talking, lively faces, what's being said isn't always important. There's some moments with his friends Jean Monod or Tom Raworth or the musician Steve Lacy, and with Lacy there is a background collage of music/conversation just happening. At another event Franco reads with Dario Villa and people mill around while the poets mill around and once again in the background much is happening — now artists are painting the walls. When Franco is done reading he takes a spray can and goes into the painting and adds his two-cents, while Dario is reading. When Dario is done, Franco is back to read and Dario goes and takes a look at the painting. Talks to the painter. The painter is working with a ten foot pole and maybe there isn't a brush on the end of that's stick painting. In America where they have to call everything something, they'd call this activity "multi-tasking". In Italy they call it another day.

Here is where you can try to find the DVD. The information I have is all in Italian. There is also Franco's website run by his family and supported by all these friends. You see, Franco Beltrametti died way too young in 1995. He was 57 years old. So his friends like to live like he's still here. Because he is.

for more information please contact:

Fondazione Franco Beltrametti Foundation
Via dell'Inglese 3
6826 Riva San Vitale

or: or at

Franco Beltrametti & James Koller, Vermont 1989

photo © bob arnold