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Poems and Pictures

 
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jan, 2008 05:15 pm
http://i85.photobucket.com/albums/k46/aidan_010/Pearl.jpg

Pearl (my curious girl) Haiku

No treasure like you
I'm yours and you're mine-it's true
We're owner and owned
0 Replies
 
Miklos7
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jan, 2008 11:13 am
Good morning, Aidan

This photograph of Pearl is very fine, as, in addition to showing your subject, it spins off all kinds of interesting metaphor. By more than a few professional photographer's judgment, an image that lacks metaphorical depth lies so flat in print that it is not worth sharing. No one is likely to remark that there is anything the least flat about this lovely portrait of your friend.

The backlighting, which brings out so much texture, suggests the greater presence of Pearl (and of all dogs): dogs have a life of which, at best, we might be aware of 5-10%. If we care for a dog, we benefit from living with a mysterious richness, which only very gradually, and incompletely, reveals its details. This is probably true for all domesticated animals. I find this makes animals endlessly fascinating; it is a privilege to share a roof with one.

The nose-to-shadow-nose is a wondrous detail of your composition, for it asks that large, unanswerable question: to what degree and what depth does an animal know himself/herself (and, by extension of the pattern: how well does an animal come to know any human animal?)? My own feeling is that dogs know themselves beyond the simple recognition of their shape and scent that has been proven already by science. My argument for this would be the observation that, pretty clearly, dogs make decisions based on their capabilities and interests. I realize that the science for that is still quite muddy. I also have come to believe that, beyond their great facility at reading fine points of our body language, dogs have a deeper sense of our state of being.

I also am taken with the large, mostly indistinct, shadow that Pearl casts. It is larger than she, just as she has a being larger than her physical self.

One could go on, but that's enough. I just wanted to explain a little why I so like your photograph. It's a beauty. And I'm sure that Pearl is a beauty, too.

About the accompanying haiku: I greatly admire the perceptions you capture, but the structure of the poem is a bit problematic. (Note: although a number of my books (poetry, essay, memoir) have been published, I have seen only one haiku of mine in print! Currently, I am leading a writing workshop in the construction of tanka (the Japanese verse form that is the mother of haiku), BUT you must still take my observations with a large grain of salt, as art is in the eye of the beholder).

The flow of a haiku, for me, works best when there is an inevitability to it. The poem unfolds rapidly, then multiple meanings suddenly rise. Your "Pearl (my curious girl) Haiku" has a great deal of internal and external rhyme; to my ear, this slows the reading of the verse. There is a principle of writing that advises one to avoid any words or patterns that draw attention to themselves as words or patterns, rather than as almost-immediate converyors of thought and feeling. Traditionally, haiku do not rhyme, but that's beside the point, as you should are free to write the form however you wish. I only suggest that you might want to avoid rhyme because it seems, for me, to interfere with that sudden flash of insights which brings me pleasure from a haiku.

Again, thank you very much for both photograph and poem.
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jan, 2008 05:12 pm
Thanks for your interest and commentary Miklos. Actually, I'm very proud to be able to say that my son took this portrait of Pearl. I think he has a very good eye- and I've often told him that. I'm happy that I'll be able to let him read your very complimentary assessment of his work.

Pearl is a treasure to me. Sounds crazy, but she, more than any other being in my life shares everything with me - she sees every bit of beauty that I see because she's the only one who walks with me. I almost lost her this autumn, at least as a walking companion - and the thought of that nearly did me in. I actually pretty much stopped walking until she could come back out with me - it just wasn't the same.

She barks at her reflection all the time - in lakes, in mirrors. I have yet to figure out if it's a bark of recognition or if she thinks it's another dog. I have to say - I've never seen another dog with a face as beautiful as hers - I don't think she realizes how singularly beautiful she is- and that there is no other dog who can match her- that beautiful face she's seeing is always her own.

I have a friend who firmly believes that animals can't love - they just pledge loyalty as necessity to whoever feeds them most regularly. I totally reject that. I know she knows and loves me for me - when I cry - she comes over and sits by me, as if to offer comfort. She's better at empathizing and sensing distress and offering comfort than alot of people I know.

She's special. I've had other dogs and I've loved them all - but she's by far the most loving and attuned to me- maybe that's because I'm the most attuned to her - but whatever - it's a wonderful symbiotic relationship and I can't imagine my daily life without her in it.

As far as the poem goes - I just wanted to post the picture and had to come up with a poem. When I'm in a hurry - I always end up rhyming - it just comes more quickly and easily for me than free verse. But what I did want to express is that contrary to what most people view as the typical human/owner-animal/owned relationship- I feel owned by her as much as I own her. I am absolutely helpless with love for her - I'd do anything for her- and I know the same is true for her toward me.
That's all I wanted to say.
But thank you. I let my son read your comment and he says thank you too.
0 Replies
 
Miklos7
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jan, 2008 08:34 pm
Congratulations to your son, Aidan. He has a very good eye, indeed!

I take my dog on long walks for much of the year. My wife and I are both hikers, but I especially, and I always take along Joey (as in baby kangaroo), our standard poodle. We are fortunate to live on the side of a small mountain (only 1000 feet; perhaps it should be called only a hill), and in the temperate months, Joe and I climb it daily. I have noticed that, having him along, I see more. In some ways, it's similar to walking with a child; you see through your own eyes, but your vision is enhanced, because you're sensing what your fellow hiker sees, too. When our girls were still at home, we took them hiking and climbing a lot, and their presence always increased our vision and our pleasure in the outing.

I do think that dogs are generally very loyal, but SOME love us, too. I agree totally with you about the ownership relationship. It can be really a two-way street of genuine affection. Several friends who have dogs have told me that they sense something akin to unconditional love in their canine friends. Definitely, Joey is sensitive to our moods--and if I'm bummed out about something, he spends more time next to me. He doesn't know the particulars, of course, be he seems to know how I feel in general. My wife has noticed the same phenomenon.

When I was 10, a long time ago (!), I went to Sunday School one morning, and the seminarian who was instructing us was talking about heaven. He said that we would meet all our loved ones if we went there after we died. I asked him, were I fortunate enough to go to heaven, would I see my dog. No, was his answer, because, according to him, and, by extension, the Episcopal Church, dogs have no souls. I pointed out that my Roman Catholic friends took their animals to a formal blessing by the priest once a year, and that, as the Roman church had been around much longer than ours, maybe the Episopalians should take a look! That day marked the end of my interest in the church. I was in total disbelief that any church would deny animals a soul. Oddly--I found out by accident, recently--that the Episcopal church now teaches that animals DO have souls. Too late, I told the priest. I'd long ago begun to evolve my own faith, in which the souls of animals are a constant!

May you and Pearl have many, many happy walks together.

Best wishes to you and your son.
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jan, 2008 06:19 am
Thank you Miklos.

One more question. Where do you live in Maine? I lived for twelve years between Bangor and Waterville (in various small towns), and loved it. That's where I had my first house and my first dog- his name was Larkin- so I have alot of good memories of Maine.

You say NE Maine - anywhere near Calais or Eastport? I have good friends who live up that way.
0 Replies
 
Miklos7
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jan, 2008 08:05 am
Good morning, Aidan

We live in Blue Hill, which is on the coast, 50 minutes south of Bangor. It is a quintessential small Maine village (population 2200, spread quite widely, except for a concentration of white clapboard houses and shops on the harbor. We live on the SW shoulder of Blue Hill Mountain (oxymoron!), and our view is over the town, across the water to the mountains (slightly higher) of Mount Desert Island. The light and cloud change continuously; it's very lovely. I would be embarrassed to tell you how many photographs of the weather I've taken in the less-than-two years we've lived in this particular house.

Between Bangor and Waterville, you lived in one of the prettiest areas in Maine. When we drive to Portland for the museum, we always go the back way for most of the trip, because the farmland is so lush, the views from the hills so fine, and the villages very small and handsome. Lincolnville, Hope, Liberty, Freedom, etc.--beautiful part of the state.

We occasionally go to Eastport, Lubec, and over to Campobello for a B&B overnight. A favorite area. Also, we have driven to Black Harbour, NB, and taken the ferry to Grand Manan, which reminds me of the rural island (Little Cranberry) on which I spent summers, beginning in the late 40's.

Maine is largely unspoiled by development, but the state has high taxes, making it difficult to attract the non-polluting industry we need to protect our wilderness. Tourism, wood products, and lobster still provide the bulk of our income. Many people are quite poor. A major problem. Both my wife and I volunteer in the local food pantry/thrift shop when they are open, once a week. Currently, the food pantry has 400 people (from the entire Blue Hill peninsula) who depend on it. The warm weather will improve the situation, but still, it's a sad situation. Tourism and lobstering are seasonal activities, May through October. The skiing up north doesn't add much to the general economy.

Nevertheless, we feel extremely fortunate to live here. There are wonderful people and great natural beauty. Also, there are many writers and artists here. You might enjoy the website of Threehalf Press, which specializes in dynamic pairings of photographs and poems. Their byline is "A poem is a picture you hear, a photograph is a poem you see." They are located on Deer Isle, about 10 miles from us as the crow flies.

http://www.threehalfpress.com/

This would seem a natural place for you and your son to submit picture/poem combinations!

Best Wishes
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jan, 2008 04:48 pm
Unbelievable! I'm very familiar with Blue Hill. I used to go to the Blue Hill fair every year and when we were making the decision as to whether to move from North Carolina either back to Maine or over to England - Blue Hill was the town we were looking at in Maine. Then the England opportunity came up and we went in that direction

The reason I was thinking about Blue Hill specifically, was that I was interested in sending my daughter to the alternative school there - she's very artistic and creative and not a typical learner- although very bright. I thought it'd be a great spot for her. When I was looking at the course offerings and the graduation requirements - I remember thinking that I'd have given my right arm to have gone to a highschool like that.

I was also really interested in Helen and Scott Nearing's work- and of course, as you said it is so very, very scenically beautiful....what a lovely spot you're in.

As you mentioned, the area we lived in was very beautiful as well- and so convenient to everything - the seaside and the mountains- Portland just an hour and a half - Boston less than four hours away.

Anyway - nice to talk to you. Thanks for the link for the press. It sounds very interesting- I'd like to check it out as an observer if not as a contributor.

Take care and enjoy Blue Hill - I still remember one of the most lovely scenes I've ever seen - I found a house I loved there. You drive through the village and there's this road that goes out to the end of the point- you go over this little bridge - not a typical bridge- but this little fortified concrete causeway sort of thing. Anyway - the sound was on the left and there were these lovely old houses on the right. There was this really old white clapboard fixer upper I fell in love with with just the most incredible view- totally impractical - but if we'd moved there - that's where I'd have wanted to be. I wonder if it's still standing there vacant...
0 Replies
 
Miklos7
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jan, 2008 08:13 am
Good morning, Aidan

Amazing, indeed! I know exactly the bridge (concrete-over-iron, 1926) that you refer to--and the white clapboard houses across the road from the bay. Alas, supply-and-demand has caught up with those houses with a water view, and, even were there a fixer-upper, it would be very dear. We used to live in Brooklin, at the foot of the Blue Hill peninsula, and I have passed the houses and crossed the bridge over the reversing falls literally thousands of times.

The alternative school just closed. It enjoyed considerable success up until very recently, when there was an unfortunate incident involving a mentor and a student. It was determined that the head of school should have been aware of the proclivities of the community mentor--and that was that. Awful for the student, but too bad to lose the entire school as one of the consequences. There is still another private school, The Bay School, on that same stretch of South Street; it is a lovely Waldorf-inspired operation, and it is thriving, but its service is only K-8.

I have met Helen Nearing, but never Scott. They kindly came to my support in 1979, when the Blue Hill school where I was then teaching ran out of funds and cut two positions on a last in-last out basis. The shop teacher and I, who had been there six years, were on the street! Not a good feeling when one has two small children. Fortunately, almost immediately I landed a great position at the high school in Orono. A bit of a commute, but I spent two nights a week in Orono in the home of an English professor at U. Maine, and I had 17 good years there.

Isn't the Blue Hill Fair excellent? When I was a child, it went through a dodgy period, complete with tightly-caged bears and girly show, but, for the last 35, it has returned fully to being an agricultural fair, with only a small and harmless midway of rides and homemade treats. My wife and I spend several hours visiting the sheep, goats, cows, oxen, fowl, llamas, etc. and watch the Northeastern U.S. Finals of the sheep dog trials. All the jokes about the brilliance of border collies are true!

I do not have PM posting privileges quite yet, but I can OPEN ones to me. If you would like to send me your e-address via a PM to A2K, I'll send you pictures of last September's Fair and of our view. By the way, if you'd ever consider a house trade, I think you would like our home. I have a close cousin in London and Wales, who is visiting here this May. But sometime we'll visit her again in England or Wales. We love her, and we love all parts of the U.K.

Again, extraordinary coincidence.

Best wishes!
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jan, 2008 05:25 pm
Hi Miklos- I'm sorry to hear about such an unfortunate incident as the one with the student and the mentor and the closing of the school. It seemed like a wonderful educational alternative to the more usual competitive grind that's become the norm at most US highschools these days.

Yes, I always did love the Blue Hill Fair. I also really enjoyed the Common Ground Fair every year. And in England I loved the Priddy Fair.

But we no longer live in England - we live in upstate NY now. It's also quite beautiful- but having said that, I don't know how long we'll be here. The opportunity has arisen for us to move back to England and slide right back into our old lives- same jobs, same community, same friends- all of which we really, really miss. There's about a 90% chance that we'll be living there again before the end of the summer. If we do - we'll be in Somerset again- somewhere along the Bath/Wells/Glastonbury corridor, about an hour from the Welsh border and two hours west of London, and I'd be very open to a house trade at some point.

We'll have to keep in touch. Talk to you soon...
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jan, 2008 06:24 am
Miklos wrote-

Quote:
and lobster still provide the bulk of our income.


Is it true that they drop lobsters into boiling water in order to provide a more aesthetically pleasing experience on the palate of the diner.

I've never had lobster myself. I'm a vegan.

I have never had a dog either for the reasons Veblen gave. Cats are my favourite domestic animal. I like lazy, stupid ignorant tomcats best. There's a nice photo on a Dylan album cover of him cradling a kitten.

Sloths are my No1 though.
0 Replies
 
Miklos7
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jan, 2008 08:18 am
Good morning, Spendius

It is true that lobster are boiled--sometimes, killed just before immersion in the water--but there is no special taste to lobster prepared this way. When cooked, a lobster is a lobster is a lobster. However, as boiling in seawater has glamor (!) for tourists--and it's easy prep--this is the most common commercial approach to preparing the crustacean. My wife and I seldom cook it, as we find it a bit tough and rather hard to digest. The sweetest, most tender meat comes from November and December, when few lobstermen risk fishing in icy, dangerous waters. We much prefer crab--in all its varieties. For a vegan--esp. a "moral" vegan--it must be a very grim experience to see lobster, or crab, boiled. For "health" vegans, I'm sure the process is almost as bad.

I, too, am a cat fan. We used to have a pair of brothers, O.J. and Steely Dan, and they were constant entertainment--and very friendly. Alas, about 20 years ago, I turned allergic overnight to both cats and to our golden retriever, Jessie, and we had to part with all of them--pronto. Traumatic. These days, I can play only with poodles and Portuguese water dogs, who have wool, etc. Fortunately, standard poodles are bright, friendly, and deeply zany. I have met one hypoallergenic cat! Sadly, he is, so far, a VERY expensive proposition.

There IS something about sloths. However, before you declare them your No1, you might check out the Giant Sloth, a few specimens of which may still exist in Central American jungle. The early European explorers found them problematic, as, of course, they often preferred to kill and eat, rather than simply admire the animals. The Giant Sloth has a deafening call, rather like a huge steam whistle, and when a hunter dresses one out, he must stop his nose or he will be rendered unconscious by the odor. At first, I thought all this was wildly exaggerated; then, I consulted technical records and discovered both the call and the stench are/were likely genuine phenomena. There was a nice piece on them in "Natural History" within the last few years.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jan, 2008 09:58 am
Good afternoon Miklos.

I have read, more than once, more than a few times actually, that for the epitome of taste of even a beta minus gastronome a lobster needs must be dropped into the boiling water alive. Not that I would know.

As I consider the intake of nutrient to be akin to filling up the car with gas I look for speed and cost considerations rather than any particular taste experience. Campbell's Soups are very good in that regard.

It all sounds rather sweet up there in Maine. Tourists to me are simply noisy, rather distasteful, polluting, road clogging dimwits who are so bored with themselves at home that they drive around aimlessly seeking some new novelty which they haven't tried before. I suppose seawater boiled lobster is "up there" in certain circles. And word spreads about how nice it is and if you go too far overboard stressing it the buggers will be all over the place bringing their disgusting personal habits in their train. It is well known that if you land in clover it is foolish to broadcast it.

I think of sloths as an image. I saw a short film of one many years ago.

It struck me as an image of sheer evolutionary perfection. It was shot to show it off in the best possible light. It was hanging off a branch with a vast range of orange and brown tones reflecting the warming sunlight off its fine and shaggy coat. It scratched itself from time to time and at the end of the film it looked at the camera and I could swear it grinned sheepishly and then winked.

The other aspects of its life didn't enter the image and the voiceover informed us that he had been on the branch all day.

It struck me how necessary it must be that His Holiness The Pope should feel it incumbent upon himself to declare sloth to be a deadly sin because sloths and slothism are not very useful things what with the upkeep of the apartments, frescos and turd-pipes to consider and the overpowering temptations they represent to ordinary people such as myself.

Someone told me in the pub that moss grew on a sloth's back which, though it is a vote of confidence, hardly fits with the stuff about rolling stones gathering no moss which is a popular saying where people are in constant motion accelerating at about 3% a year +- 1%.

I don't think I would like one in my residence though. The beaver is enough for me and it's really well trained.
0 Replies
 
Endymion
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jan, 2008 04:16 pm
aidan wrote:
http://i85.photobucket.com/albums/k46/aidan_010/Pearl.jpg

Pearl (my curious girl) Haiku

No treasure like you
I'm yours and you're mine-it's true
We're owner and owned


That picture is special. It looks like Pearl is standing in the shallows of a river - looking at her reflection. The grain on the floor looks like ripples in the water.
It's really something outstanding
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jan, 2008 05:22 pm
Thank you Endy- I'll let Joseph read your comment.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jan, 2008 06:44 pm
Endy wrote-

Quote:
That picture is special. It looks like Pearl is standing in the shallows of a river - looking at her reflection. The grain on the floor looks like ripples in the water.


It doesn't look anything like that to me.
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jan, 2008 07:22 pm
What do you want Spendius? Not to seem rude or impatient, but I've learned about your diet, your opinion of tourists (which I've heard many, many times before), your (INACCURATE, by the way) perception that Maine is sweet in any way, and the fact that you disagree with Endy's perception of the picture of Pearl.

So what's your perception of the picture? And don't say one bad word about my dog - she's animated sweetness-she's never done an unkind thing to you or anyone on this forum- so she deserves none of the negativity some around here are so apt to dish out.

I get what Endy's saying about the river - especially as it might describe the liquid-like warmth of the sun streaming into the room- the pool in which she's standing.

Anyway - maybe YOU should take Miklos up on his house swap idea. You already live in England which is where he'd like to go (as opposed to the situation I'm in - although it looks more and more likely everyday- yippee!), and then you could experience the "sweetness" of Maine- just make sure you visit from June to October, since you're uninitiated.

Just think- then, even if you didn't want to try lobster - you could still uphold your veganism and try fiddleheads...they're these beautifully whorled (like a fiddle head, get it?) little plants that grow wild in the forest there-lovely texture - although now that I think of it- quite similar (in texture at least) to lobster, (sort of rubbery but more crunchy).

Anyway - think about it - break out of your safety zone- think outside the box. Maine and real Mainers- (not "summer people") are tough and gritty. They have to be to make it through subzero temps, and snow and black ice and winters that stretch from November to May with nights that begin at 3:30 in the afternoon.
They're a breed apart- I love them- and I'm proud to be able to say I made it through twelve Maine winters. If you say, "I lived in Maine" around here, (which has its own version of rough winters) people say, "Oh, well, then you know what a real winter is...." and they never question your hardiness again.
0 Replies
 
Endymion
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jan, 2008 09:01 pm
spendius wrote:
Endy wrote-

Quote:
That picture is special. It looks like Pearl is standing in the shallows of a river - looking at her reflection. The grain on the floor looks like ripples in the water.


It doesn't look anything like that to me.


its just the way i see things.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 08:49 am
Rebecca wrote-

Quote:
What do you want Spendius?


I don't want anything. All I suggested was that there are other ways of looking at representations than you may not have thought of. I fully respect the position that Endy just gave. How could I "disagree" with him.

Maybe it was a gentle invitation to see the picture in more than one way.

In the context of this thread say.
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 11:53 am
I apologize- of course you're right.

My only excuse is that I often have no idea what anyone is talking about- and I have to admit that that was the case with your whole lobster/Veblen/cat/sloth post. I just didn't see (at first reading) how any of it connected with any of the poems or pictures posted here. And I guess that made me feel particularly impatient when you then seemed to deride someone who did post something that had to do with the picture.
Of course, I understand now that that wasn't a fair assessment of what you were doing.

But I still don't know what you're referring to in terms of looking at that specific picture and what you wrote in the context of this thread. Maybe I'm just dense...

Whatever - I do realize that what I wrote was rude and somewhat abrupt- and I apologize. I hope you did, however, enjoy the information I gave you about Maine , as it seemed that that (a peripheral interest in customs and diet in Maine/as well as pet ownership and perhaps the economic and sociological truths it exposes) was what had most interested you in this thread.

*The first part (my apology) was absolutely sincere.

The second part (you enjoying the information about Maine) is a little sarcastic- but not meanly so- just as a little joke. Even if you didn't enjoy reading it - I did enjoy writing it- it brought back memories of hunting for fiddleheads in the spring woods.
0 Replies
 
Miklos7
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 12:32 pm
Aidan,

YES! Hunting for fiddleheads in the spring Maine woods is a peak experience. Then, lightly boil them and serve with a bit of butter. Oh, my.

The first time I looked for them, I was fly-fishing simultaneously, and my attention must have been split. I brought home ferns with the correct heads, but the rest of them were all wrong. I don't know what species these were, but the one bite I tried was awfully bitter. A valuable lesson. Are pickled fiddleheads available in the markets in upstate NY? Then, freshness is not so much an issue--and the pickles taste great.

By the way, we, too, lived in upstate NY for six years, but only as far north as Dutchess County, which, perhaps, should not be called "upstate." Of course, folks from NYC often call northern Westchester "upstate."

Best Wishes
0 Replies
 
 

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