Monday, May 31, 2010



Saturday, May 29, 2010



He was born in Dodge City, a fighting town, that's what should be remembered about Dennis Hopper. While still a youngster and still in Kansas, he studied art with Thomas Hart Benton.

He died in Venice, California, where he long made a reputation for himself as one of the genuine American hipsters. A legendary photographer to many. An actor in a ton of crummy films and a handful of reputable ones where without his presence, no film. Or at least not the little bit of cinema masterpiece that came with it. He just showed up in the oddest places with the oddest decisions and there is something memorable about that savvy lust and defeat.

Supposedly John Wayne chased him with a loaded rifle on the set for True Grit. Probably deserved it.

He starred in two James Dean films, and that's one shy of how many films James Dean ever starred in.

For fun, check his early acting out in the small film called Night Tide (1961). I've never forgotten it.

He probably was an asshole. I've been called one. So have you.

There's no one to replace him. Just look around.



When we had a dog and played Skip James, the dog ran upstairs!

Now we have a cat, and the cat listens.


Friday, May 28, 2010


Please direct thoughts to Peter Orlovsky, who we've just heard isn't doing at all well


Hi all, in case you were wondering ~ we've been without power or phone for the last three days. It's the flipside of what I consider "bliss". Having the Internet and the Birdhouse and our bookshop wired is one fabulous. Being knocked out cold and back with the river and the grasses and woods and loves is quite the other. Handle both as bliss.

On Wednesday night I was out after dark recording barred owls squawking and raising all kinds of ruckus across river. Pitch black but for the stars. I looked up and said to Kokomo: "It looks like no storms or that rain they were all predicting. Sleep well."

In two hours everything turned upside down with a tornado wind, hail, a blast and sound animals know about — they hide, or some come to your lap and jump into it, looking up into your face with a What's happening? gaze. Heck if I know.

We watched the light show and watched the modern world cave-in and slept under pelting rain on the roof and a breeze like a tropical islandia visiting through the windows.

The next morning leaves from miles off seemed to be in the yard. No trees down by some miracle. This wouldn't be the case getting out of here and to a job site only a half hour away. That would take three hours to get to...after one detour after another on all the back roads. Even Brattleboro was in a pickle, no power and so no gas pumps working. We had 1/5 a tank. Suddenly seeing all stores and businesses black, people outdoors talking, traffic slowed down in an immediate emergency crawl. It had an old feel to it. A workable ease.

We tried a few of the back roads we knew to get us closer to the job, no luck. Maple limb busted down hanging wires, another maple all down across the road. Like a behemoth. We needed gas and headed south to the next town. The kid came out shaking his head, arms in the air, no gas! Keep going south, to a bigger town, they had gas, now we're an hour away from the job and in another state. Wizzle our way back home taking the smallest roads, along the brooks, chancing no trees would be down.

We did get to the job, three hours later and stopping to visit with friends along the way right on the border of Massachusetts. All their many trees up, house okay. We had a glass of lemonade and a cupcake with them...caught up on old times, and then kept going. It wasn't hurting a thing to be house painting from mid-afternoon into the evening and no one home. When they get home they'll find a fully mature sugar maple gone over. Generators are running in many houses as we pass-by. One small house has two huge trees canopied in the worse way right over the roof.

Out in open farmland it was sad to see an old survivor maple tree busted up in many wars and hanging in there well over a century old. But this storm caught it just right. Knocked it over flush at ground level and it sort of keeled on its side like an old timer knocked down in a bustling crowd. No one stopping to help him. He's just frozen that way holding himself from completely falling down by one arm held out. That was this tree. Its human appeal.

the photo of the big-daddy maple tree above is one we lost in a similar windstorm twenty years ago ~ you can see where the tree has already lost a main leader in an earlier battle and some bird or animal once carried one of our sunflower seeds up there and it roosted
this tree went down hard across much ground, and the road, and its top leaves touched the river
we cut it up and used every stick

photo: Susan Arnold

Wednesday, May 26, 2010



With a television series running in the hearts of country music fans for 20 years, nevermind having over 80 hit songs, it was Porter's last album Wagonmaster, released the year of his passing in 2007, that is the one to find. On this one album PW reclaims all sides of the legacy and hardship of his long career. Produced by Marty Stuart, who knows just how to handle and ask the questions of Mr. Grand Ole Opry.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010




Young girl

12 miles from town

not a mother yet

duck shed half-built

one blouse, man's jeans, laundry line

her eyes say what she thinks

to the one who holds the camera

photo © boyfriend

Monday, May 24, 2010



The publisher ~ BoxTree (Macmillan) understands the street artist Slinkachu ~ he's the one with the smallest cloth bound book in the art section shelves of the bookstore.

So small and compact and delicious, a savvy bookseller would have it propped up on its own as a miniature showcase.

I found my copy under the rubble of larger and beaten up and spine slanted tomes unsure of their size and weight and volume ~ under it all was Little People in the City, the little gemstone of all things Slinkachu. Street name for the Devon, UK., born artist who is becoming known these days from his photographs of his urban creations, which are often here today and gone tomorrow. Imagine the tiny toy soldiers you once played with now delicately placed by the artist on the street, but not as soldiers, just regular pedestrians, looking just like you and me, but placed next to a real live dead bumblebee, or stubbed out cigarette, or on the tossed ring of a beer or soda can, there one of his tiny figures perches looking at the same city park waterway as we do, and maybe completely unnoticed by any one of us. Until kicked, stepped upon, going about its own purpose. As demanding as a haiku.

We even have an exhibitionist, trousers down around his ankles, willy out, a woman reacting with her hands at the side of her head outraged. Two inches tall all of this. On a city street. You just missed it walking by.

The charm of this book is Slinkachu has situated his locations and taken both a life size portrait of where & how, plus a closer detail of the actual event of his little ones, so all is one. Seeing is believing = go to the book. Look around you when next out: a Slinkachu may be around.

There is an index in the book to then show where each piece was located and at what date with additional photographs.

Like everything in this day and age: big stuff is happening, and even the little stuff ~ once washed away with the rain, humility, grace, luck, so-be-it ~ is being captured, documented.

There's humor, irony, affection, loneliness, love, and killers on the loose...just like life size.

Little People in the City by Slinkachu
( BoxTree / Macmillan )

artist's photo: Charlie Hedley

Sunday, May 23, 2010



The pleasures of friendship are exquisite.
How pleasant to go to a friend on a visit!
I go to my friend, we walk on the grass,
And the hours and minutes like moments pass.

Stevie Smith


My heart was full of softening showers,
I used to swing like this for hours,
I did not care for war or death,
I was glad to draw my breath.

(The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.)

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

Gwendolyn Brooks


---It's so nice

to wake up in the morning

---all alone

and not have to tell somebody

---you love them

when you don't love them

---any more.

Richard Brautigan

I'm no fan of the set-up, the pre-arranged, the presentation, though I have arranged this morning these treats out on the porch sun steps, and they all came to me over the last few months. Just found.

The Stevie Smith is a real treat of actually being available; the Gwendolyn Brooks for all time; and the Brautigan so reasonably priced and just hanging out. I like how he is handing us the phone. A time and place.

Make sure you have your reading glasses and magnifying glass handy to read the Brautigan CD booklet notes: Michael McClure and Bruce Conner are here reading or contributing in some fashion, along with other friends and visitors. The Stevie Smith has a whalloping 50 poems starting with "My Cats". The Gwendolyn Brooks is one hour long, and gives us longer poems "The Lovers of the Poor" and "The Sundays of Satin-Legs Smith" along with her other great stuff.

If I was asked to bring in recordings of modern poets to folks wanting to hear a poem, I'd bring in these three. There would be no question-mark faces. Everyone would recognize something of their own lives here. I'm pretty sure they'd ask for more.

Saturday, May 22, 2010



write a book a year

Well the wild ride into the earth was thrilling,

really, scared as I was and torn and sore.

I say what other women could have managed it?

My life before then

picking flowers against my destiny

what glance, what meeting,

who was watching, what we don't know we know,

the hour we chose and we are chosen.

And suddenly the dead my mission,

the dark my mission.

He'd find me pounding out the hours.

Spring is for women, spring clawing at our hearts.

We are pulled forward by our hair

to be anointed in the barren garden.

I want the dark back, the bloody well of it,

my face before the fire,

or lie alone on the cold stone and find a way

to sleep awhile, wake clear and wander.

The Wind Blows Through My Heart (Knopf)


Friday, May 21, 2010



I just stood a small bunch up on the porch stairs, and since we are outdoors and working in the weather, do squint close to see with me:


The starlings are singing!
You could call it singing.
At any rate, they are starlings.


My muse plays tennis
and has a body like a Greek god.
My muse wears glasses
and looks swell in them.
I could go on like this forever.

James Schuyler, Other Flowers (Farrar)

Verses from a HYAKUIN RENGA

A whole year's passed —

he fetches down the elk skull,

aspen leaves shaking

Andrew Schelling,
One Phase of the Hunt
1 or 100 / countryvalley

Julie Johnstone's ever quiet and elegant publications from Essence Press.

David Miller's
"Untitled (Visual Sonnet)"
Ink on paper
1 or 250.


How far a page stretches in autumn-
Treetops, hills, sky.

I hold what unfolds: leaves'
Cascading violins, some implications

Of arrival that contaminate the day.
Wind proposes another dance:

Siestas, melancholic afternoons,
Patterns contained within the steps

My feet make pausing as the evening
Star bares her breast and sky diminishes.

Robin Magowan, Internal Weather, photographs by Juliet Mattila
Pasdeloup Press, Ontario Canada


Like a Shaker bowl
the house contains the silence
of belief, and
like a Navajo basket
containing none of our business
it is keeping quiet,
deathly still, in fact,
about God's plans.

Mark Jackley,
Lank, Beak & Bumpy
Iota Press

Here is a sure, durable unsentimental chorus of poems to love & landscape — or as Steve Lewandowski likes to describe his hills around the Finger Lakes district of western New York State there are / hills upon hills walking / the day away in the woods — and he may as well be describing himself. Take this book by the hand.

Stephen Lewandowski,
O Lucky One
FootHills Publishing



I was very moved when Whit Griffin sent this to me a few weeks ago from his iPhone. He's done this in the past while traveling through the south, or while up in New England. The shots are forever immediate and fresh. No fanfare. He puts me where he is.
And we wish RC a very Happy Birthday today.

photos: courtesy of Whit Griffin

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010



Once upon a time my father stayed home sick from work. This happened maybe twice in my lifetime as a youngster living in the same house with my parents. My mother, maybe, sick one day in my Life as a Youngster.

My father called me into the bedroom, there he was propped up on pillows.

"Bobby, I need something to read. What do you have in your room?"

Like I was some gunsmith. ‘I need a gun, not just any gun Bobby, you'll know what to do.’

I'd nod and bring him a well oiled Smith & Wesson. He'd nod, then he'd ask me to leave the room. Was this sick man going to take his life? Shoot the tv that was playing I Love Lucy? Or just spend the day fondling the gun?

But he didn't ask me for a gun. He asked me for a book, any old book. I nodded. Rushed out of the room and went for the book I had just finished, without ever, and I mean ever and never, breaking the spine.

My father once remarked, as if he was beside himself, that when he looked at my paperback books, a full library and every one in alphabetic order, he was thunderstruck how not one book had a crease in the spine.

"How do you read these books Bobby and not crack a spine?" I showed him my careful technique of reading books as if peering into a small and fascinating room. He predicted I would be blind by age 20. He was wrong, but he was still my father, who I believed knew more than any other man when I was 15. At 16 I had a different opinion.

When I came back from my room, with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 in my hand, I spent the rest of the day enjoying hearing my father, once an infantryman in WW2, laughing out loud all through the day as he read the book. He never got out of the bed. He never stopped reading the book. And it seemed he never stopped laughing. Yes, one of the joys of my childhood was that day.

Bob Arnold says, share your books with your parents

photos from the Arnold Lumber family circa 1900, Berkshire County, Massachusetts:

John Arnold scaling timber on Mount Greylock: note the tie, suspenders and top hat for quite the dapper woodsman.

Happy family, in the sunshine, standing & seated on a stickered lumber pile in Vermont.

photos © courtesy bob arnold ( Arnold Lumber )



photo © bob arnold



Tuesday, May 18, 2010


B-E-F-O-R-E-- C-H-A-I-N-S-A-W-S



Darius Kinsey operated throughout logging camps and locomotive yards in western Washington State from 1890-1940. His outstanding portraits of the logging life were done in high timber, poor lighting and often rain slop. He was a trouper.

His wife Tabitha (Tib) Pritts developed the negatives from Kinsey's often precarious field work and made prints, many large format portraits, which were sold by the hundreds to loggers back in their camps.

It took falling from a stump at an elder age in 1940, resulting in broken ribs, to end the photographer's tramps.

The Whatcom Museum of History and Art holds a major collection of Darius Kinsey's work.

stump house