Thursday, July 06, 2006

John Tagliabue

Here is a poem by our wonderful friend, poet/teacher John Tagliabue, who passed away recently, written about a place we love very much:

All in the village of Gubbio have
dreamt of this before Christmas 2002

The wolf of Gubbio
was purring as if it were a cat,
it was hiding in the dark as if it were a bat,
its heart was beating like yours and like that
of St. Francis. The delicate drumming was heard
all over. I can tell by the way you read this
that you heard it and I hear your heart
beating very very close to mine.

The lamb dreamt near the wolf.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

poem for america, july 4

from Saadi Youssef: America,America
translated by Khaled Mattawa

I too love jeans and jazz and Treasure Island
and John Silver's parrot and the balconies of New Orleans.
I love Mark Twain and the Mississippi steamboats and
Abraham Lincoln's dogs.
I love the fields of wheat and corn and the smell of Virginia
But I am not American.
Is that enough for the Phantom pilot to turn me back to the
Stone Age?
I need neither oil nor America herself, neither the elephant
nor the donkey.
Leave me, pilot, leave my house roofed with palm fronds and
this wooden bridge.
I need neither your golden gate nor your skyscrapers.
I need the village, not New York.
Why did you come to me from your Nevada desert, soldier
armed to the teeth?
Why did you come all the way to distant Basra, where fish
used to swim by our doorsteps?
I only have these water buffaloes lazily chewing on water
Leave me alone, soldier.
Leave me my floating cane hut and my fishing spear.
Leave me my migrating birds and the green plumes.
Take your roaring iron birds and your Tomahawk missles, I
am not your foe.
I am the one who wades up to the knees in rice paddies.
Leave me to my curse.
I do not need your day of doom.

Thomas Buckley list

In January, 2004, jerks burned down my wife's and my house for the fun of it (the first of ten fires they started - they're doing 10-12 in federal prison now) We'd lived there 20 years and somewhere between two and three thousand books were burnt up. They were mostly mine because Jorunn, my wife, had most of hers in her Bowdoin College office. I had some other stashes, and good friends sent books, sometimes cartons ( special thanks to John Balaban, Peter Nabokov and the extraordinarily generous Will Devlin) and I started buying books with the insurance money. The big question has been: should I replace lost favorites or build a new library of new books? I've replaced a few essentials (Sailing Alone Around the World, Larousse Dictionairre Compact, The Platform Sutra) but have mostly bought new things that I had never read.
Today I looked around and chose five, one (sic.) from each of five categories. This means leaving some important categories out - maritime history, religious texts, art books, reference. Here's what I've ended up with - books I think are essential, relatively new reading:

Poetry: Gary Snyder's Mountains and Rivers Without End (1996) - the only replacement copy on the list (Maybe the first and so far only North American Buddhist Sutra)
Fiction: A tie (who says 5 is always 5?): William Kotzwinkle, The Bear Went Over the Mountain (1996) (har de har) and Chang rae Lee, A Gesture Life (1999) (oh boo hoo)
General non-fiction: E P Thompson, Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law (1993) (Discover your inner Muggletonian)
Cultural anthropology ( my field) : Carol Delaney , Abraham on Trial: The social legacy of Biblical Myth (I always suspected Freud didn't get Oedipus quite right)
American Indian Studies (my specialty) Daniel K Richter, Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America (2006) Nothing entirely new here, but a fine synthesis)

There you have it. Read these books, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, be astonished once in awhile, and you'll probably reach enlightenment as soon as anyone else.

Tim Buckley