Wednesday, October 30, 2013


A Byzantine Diptych

I. Leviticus Again

     "And his issue is unclean,"  15:3

He is human and so will be humbled

He is flesh and so will fail

He is bone and so will be broken

He is blood and so will be bleed

He has cheated and so will be changed

He has deceived and so will be drained

He has mocked and so will be muddied

He is hollow and so will howl

He has sullied and so will sadden

He is nothing and so will be nought

He is pain and so will perish

He is emission and so will be missed

He is water and so will weep

He is cavernous and so will cry

He is dross and so will disgust

He is a carcass and so will be cast

He has soured and so will stink

He is rank and so will retch

He is worm and so will writhe

He is corruption and so will be betrayed

He came forth, and so he will fade

Summer Syntax

Saxifrage, arabis, phlox;

lobelia, euphorbia, nasturtium;

coreopsis, guara, flax;

brunnera, salvia, rubrum;

delphinium, snapdragon, alyssum;

bacopa, yarrow, thyme;

viola, cress, chrysanthemum,

convolvulus and clematis that climb

over the flowering fescue,

the prairie mallow, and sage,

with Lucerne sisyrinchium to the rescue

of spirit surveying the cage

of its inching calibrations —

luring us out to stare

into this constellation's

efflorescence as       everywhere.


It seemed sick, really, or pathetic:

fertilizer bombs being wired in Gaza,

      flesh scraped from a Tel Aviv bus;

      radar whirring miles above us,

state-sanctioned torture up the street,

and information like an epidemic  —

but I took some comfort today, for hours,

from a kitten we found near a mound of garbage

     and nursed back from the edge of death.

     By evening, I could feel its breath

against the skin of my neck as it slept —

and reconfigured my notions of power.


The poems above are selected from a forthcoming book The Invention of Influence (New Directions 2014).

Peter Cole's previous books of poems include Things on Which I've Stumbled (New Directions). Among his volumes of translations are The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition and  The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492. Cole divides his time between Jerusalem and New Haven.

Monday, October 28, 2013

DUCKS IN A ROW ~ The World Series 2013

It takes a little while to fall in with the Boston Red Sox, especially if you were raised in Massachusetts as a kid and never really liked them, as I was. I was brought up on Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. Case closed. I still like to see Hank Aaron show up at an event."Yaz" and all the Boston razzamatazz just seemed irritating. Once more Boston having to show and prove they were that city all by itself. My two Boston sports heroes Bill Russell and Larry Bird even had trouble with Boston for one reason or another, or the city had trouble with one of them, and just maybe it was because one was black, amazing, independent and out spoken. Boston has a chip on its shoulder and still it gets laughed at behind its back — The Big Dig, its rock music groups, the Red Sox ups and downs in the World Series — this getting no respect puts a little arrogance onto the landscape and onto its players. Bomb the city's Boston Marathon and they bring a grass roots fierce police vengeance onto your ass. Come to watch the World Series in 2013 after months away from sports and tv because you've been building with stone like any western Massachusetts boy could-be growing up around the stuff and you'll see a whole Boston team in beards. Not trim fireman beards neither. Duck Dynasty potential facial hair and with the same mechanic eyes. Eyes pointing down to the earth, moody and greasy and a little smug and sassy and the only ones willing to get themselves dirty. Compared to the St. Louis Cardinals, who look polite and clean-cut, in sparkling Busch Stadium, you begin to sense that this Boston team of beard weirdos is really representing all what we once (still) loved about the world: camaraderie, beards being tugged guy to guy after an RBI, dumb mistakes on the field taken too seriously and with silly excuses or grumbling later repaired by knuckling under and getting-er-done. It's a world of rotary dial telephones, bicycles, old pickup trucks, paperback books, laundromats, talking neighborhoods. The greatest hitter period on the World Series field no matter which city we are in is the Red Sox 38 year old David Ortiz  — huge, black and articulate. He comes to home plate with a bat in his hands like Paul Bunyan with an axe. He strikes the plate like Bunyan with his axe to an unfortunate stump as if announcing he is here, then proves it. He's 7 for 10 in the series and has reached base 11 of 15 times at bat. He's getting-er-dun. Baseball legend already has him pinpointed at making a 6th inning speech in the dugout to all the team telling them to "play free and loose." Which is nothing at all how he looks striding to the plate but exactly how he finishes up. Fellow player Jonny Gomes, who just inched a homer over the left field fence in game 4 said watching Ortiz at work in the dugout making his little speech was like, "24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher." You see — despite all the beards and cathartic chest thumping, they're all just a bunch of eager kids wanting to win. After Boston once again proved they are the only team in the world that can end a World Series game as they did game 3 — with mistakes and more mistakes tumbling over more mistakes — they showed within 24 hours that glorious New England trait of old colonial tenacity how they can recover, get the barn built, the door closed, and all the cows are in by dark. It was a pick-off play at first base that even surprised the camera operators broadcasting the game. Sure woke us all up at midnight! Between a pitcher on the mound named Koji Uehera and a Cardinal rookie player stepped away from the base a bit too far by the name of Kolten Wong. You've come a long way, baby. We've got a Series.

~ BA

Koji Uehara celebrates with Mike Napoli

Sunday, October 27, 2013

DON'T BE MISUNDERSTOOD ~ The World Series 2013

St. Louis Cardinals' Allen Craig trips over Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks while trying to run to home plate in the 9th inning of World Series game three at Busch Stadium. Craig was called safe at home for the winning run after an obstruction was called.

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood by Elvis Costello on Grooveshark


L O U    R E E D
Brooklyn 1942 ~ 2013

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Weather has been on our side here for most of the Fall. We even went swimming in September which is almost unheard of once the cooler nights drop into the valley and sink into the woods river. But we had one more day in the high 80s and took our bicycles for a workout and then a splash.

 The latest we ever went into the river was right now, late October.

 Long ago I built with a co-worker a wood suspension bridge over the river: cable and lumber. It was done in the cruel part of the year — at least cruel for this work — December, and it was this fellow and me at work, lots of bolts and handling in thick gloves. I don't think we dropped much into the river, and I don't know how we didn't. It was brutal. Warmed our hands the only way we could when my co-worker started his old pickup truck and we rubbed our hands at his exhaust pipe. 1976. 

Just before I got to this bridge job, in October, Sweetheart and I visited the old bridge that was there — a flat locust strung log bridge that the river had been beating on for years. It was time for it to go. We had taken our bicycles to the bridge for a ride and visit and inspection and whether the kick stand snapped down or a wind came up, out there in the open on the river, my bike went over and down ten feet below the bridge. A silly sorry sight. No way to get it but go into the river and Sweetheart insisted we do it together, even though it was my bike. There's camaraderie for you. So in we went and it wasn't a lovely warm October day either. This was my red one speed "girl's bike," with old license stickers from Brattleboro on the back fender, given to me to use and keep by my minister friend who once owned the house we live in.

 Would he recognize today the stone addition I've tucked into the side of the house during two months of construction? 
I believe he would. He was of that ilk.

work photos   c   bob & susan arnold


Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
photographer unidentified

part of The Bettmann Archive

you talkin' to me?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Sue Halpern

"There is no doubt that the Internet—that undistinguished complex of wires and switches—has changed how we think and what we value and how we relate to one another, as it has made the world simultaneously smaller and wider. Online connectivity has spread throughout the world, bringing that world closer together, and with it the promise, if not to level the playing field between rich and poor, corporations and individuals, then to make it less uneven. There is so much that has been good—which is to say useful, entertaining, inspiring, informative, lucrative, fun—about the evolution of the World Wide Web that questions about equity and inequality may seem to be beside the point.

But while we were having fun, we happily and willingly helped to create the greatest surveillance system ever imagined, a web whose strings give governments and businesses countless threads to pull, which makes us…puppets. The free flow of information over the Internet (except in places where that flow is blocked), which serves us well, may serve others better. Whether this distinction turns out to matter may be the one piece of information the Internet cannot deliver."


Sue Halpern
"Are We Puppets In A Wired World?"
The New York Review of Books

Halpern, a writer, editor and teacher, lives in Ripton (Vermont) with her husband, writer and activist Bill McKibben. She serves as a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, where she runs the Narrative Journalism Fellowship. Halpern, 56, has written for such publications as Rolling Stone, the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Mother Jones and Condé Nast Traveler. She edits NYRB Lit, the electronic version of the New York Review of Books.

A Rhodes Scholar and Guggenheim Fellow, Halpern is also the human half of a therapy-dog team. Her sixth book, about that work, is called A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home and comes out in May. In an email, Halpern says her family moved to Vermont in 2001 “so we could live in a vibrant community — Ripton — with excellent schools — the North Branch School, especially — close to a college — Middlebury — and be able to ski out the door to both the Catamount Trail and the groomed trails of the Rikert Ski Touring Area.” And, perhaps, to make ample use of the em dash.

~Ken Picard
Seven Days 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


STL  1
BOS  8

Boston's Duck Dynasty — oh I'm sorry — I mean the Boston Red Sox, with the 38 year old David Ortiz, who had a grand slam stolen from him with a sweet right field snag over the low wall by the Cardinals Carlos Beltran (who got hurt), smacked a two run homer for good measure in a later inning and most of us were finding game one of the World Series nearly boring.

Ace Jon Lester pitched well for Boston for most of the game.

The field umpires at least came together and reversed a very poor call at second base early in the game. Never saw that before.

It didn't rain, 48 degrees.

The military-might shown in the audience, representing two failed wars for America for goodness sakes! seems a bit creepy during America's favorite pastime. Or is it? It seems they have grown into both America's favorite pastime.

Boston players and fans are very happy and they should be.

There's a ways to go.


In the meantime. . .great game with the Red Sox the other night, eh? I've been too busy at buttoning up a building job to do any water cooler chit-chat. A player who was batting .229 all year, no home runs all year, in a slump, up against a slumping relief pitcher with the Tigers who have great start-off pitchers, hits a grand-slam home run in Boston's Green Monster and those scrappy, woodchop-looking bearded bald headed chest-thumping Bean town bozos get to the World Series. Good for them. They grind things out. Much like the old Celtic teams. These will be the two teams with the best record in both leagues hitting the diamond. I like something about both teams.

But mainly I just like listening to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, so I'll be there.

Sweetheart remembers the World Series on our car radio, of all places, far back in the outback of Newfoundland where we were exactly 38 years ago today. We had left for the outback in an old black VW beetle (that would have a head-on collison with us in it Christmas morning two years later) and how the baseball game on the radio kept us centered where we were and where we had come from.

photo : susan arnold
newfoundland 1975

Sunday, October 20, 2013










Saturday, October 19, 2013


Goblin Valley, Utah

Boy Scouts of America leaders destroy 170 million-year-old rock formation in Utah state park and post footage on YouTube for our entertainment: 

Friday, October 18, 2013


After Liu Ch'ai-Sang's Poem

I'd long felt these mountains and lakes
beckoning, and wouldn't have thought twice,

but my family and friends couldn't bear
talk of living apart. Then one lucky day

a strange feeling came over me, and I left,
walking-stick in hand, for my western farm.

No one was going back home: on those outland
roads, farm after farm lay in empty ruins,

but our thatch hut's already good as ever,
and you'd think our new fields had been

tended for years. When valley winds turn
cold, spring wine eases hunger and work,

and though it isn't strong, just baby-girl
wine, it's better than nothing for worry.

Distant — as months and years pass away here,
the bustling world's racket grows distant.

Plowing and weaving provide all we use.
Who needs anything more? Away, ever away

into this hundred-year life and beyond,
my story and I vanish together like this.


translated from the Chinese by David Hinton

The Selected Poems of T'ao Ch'ien (365-427 A.D.)
Copper Canyon Press, 1993

"David Hinton is one of the most impressive of the younger translators of classical Chinese poetry, as his earlier volume of translations from Tu Fu amply demonstrated. Here, he tackles an equally famous but quite different figure, T'ao Ch'ien, the extoller of the delights of country life. As always, his renderings are varied and imaginative while remaining faithful to the spirit of the original."

Burton Watson

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Mina Loy, 1918
photograph : Man Ray

Mina Loy is 36 years old here

"Disillusioned with the macho elements in Futurism and its move towards Fascism, as well as desiring a divorce from her husband Stephen Haweis, Loy left her children with a nurse and moved to New York in 1916, where she began acting with the Provincetown Players. She was a key figure in the group that formed around Others magazine, which also included Man Ray, William Carlos Williams, Marcel Duchamp, and Marianne Moore. She also became a Christian Scientist during this time. Loy soon became a leading member of the Greenwich Village bohemian circuit. She also met the 'poet-boxer' Arthur Cravan, self-styled Dadaist and fugitive from conscription. Cravan fled to Mexico to avoid the draft; when Loy's divorce was final she followed him, and they married in Mexico City. Here, they lived in poverty, and years later, Loy would write of their destitution.

Once Loy became pregnant, the couple realized they needed to leave Mexico. A few months later, Cravan set sail for Buenos Aires in a small yacht as Loy watched from the beach. He sailed over the horizon, disappeared without a trace, never to be seen again. The tale of his disappearance is strongly anecdotal, as recounted by Loy's biographer, Carolyn Burke. Their daughter was born April 1919."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


While sitting in our car in the shade we saw an old couple walk out of McDonalds.

Well, the woman of the duo did. The old guy was on two canes and barely moving. Arms like toothpicks. He had lost all expression, it was just grim.

There was a Ford-150 pickup truck about 100 feet from the door and it took them fifteen minutes to get there. The woman could have walked back and forth five times by the time her man got there with her. And by the time they did, he was now holding onto the back tailgate while he gave her the keys to open the passenger side, and somehow, Sweetheart couldn't believe, the crippled fellow was going to drive.

He was throwing all sorts of mean and ugly not at all nice stuff now at the woman, in that quite typical male lost his dignity and strength and manliness and was embarrassed as to his appearance and the wife was catching it all. Nothing else lived in the man's mind or eyesight but the woman, and without her he would be no more than a slug in the road with two canes long lost. But she did as she was told.

The man sidled his way along the street side of the truck, opened the door, rolled down the window, pushed open the side vent, got his grip around the open window and the steering wheel and slid himself up into the driver's seat. Another five minutes goes by. He finally gets the truck moving, old red color, automatic, dusty breadbasket model, Leer cap, moves toward where we are lounging and sharing a Coke and heads down the street only 200 feet before he turns into McDonalds again and parks, in the closest corner, looking out at the highway.

Now we get what this is all about.

In another age, long before McDonalds and all the shlock before us, this area was a beautiful cup of old farmland, traditional road, and a restaurant called Turnbulls sat close to where this McDonald's oozes. A real family restaurant.

We would go there as a young couple and sit with farmers at 4 PM early bird specials. Men without women. Old skilled waitresses. It was well known, always packed, and there were picture windows that looked out at the highway.

Our bet is this old couple used to do this, as we did: sit and look out at the highway. Even though the highway is now broadened three times, hellishly busy, the farm land is gone to gas stations, mall, junk supreme, and it's all non-stop, but not to this old couple.

We drove off and had a look at them as we passed by — there they were simply sitting there not saying a word to one another and watching the world they know. It wasn't the one happening.


 Bob Arnold

Tuesday, October 15, 2013



This is where we are, I believe —

Questions are not to exist

Answers are whatever

~ BA

Sunday, October 13, 2013