31 December 2009

One for the new year and one for the old

Both of these poems are by the late British poet Philip Larkin:

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

And one more, because it's been that kind of year:

The View

The view is fine from fifty,
Experienced climbers say;
So, overweight and shifty,
I turn to face the way
That led me to this day.

Instead of fields and snowcaps
And flowered lanes that twist,
The track breaks at my toe-caps
And drops away in mist.
The view does not exist.

Where has it gone, the lifetime?
Search me. What's left is drear.
Unchilded and unwifed, I'm
Able to view that clear:
So final. And so near.

Best wishes to all for peace and health in the new year, and thanks as always to both faithful readers and occasional visitors.

Haiku 365

Artificial year,
Fare thee well -- I paid you mind,
And what do I know

30 December 2009

Haiku 364

We lock Nature out
Although she comes anyway --
Above, below, through

29 December 2009

28 December 2009

Haiku 362

Alone at the shore
Contemplative trees twist out
To rolling breakers

24 December 2009


JFK Airport, 10 December 2009

Haiku 358

Golden french-fried sun
A sky like underdone steak
Goddam hungry day


Sunrise silhouette
Trees lined up across hilltops:
Borders of black lace

23 December 2009

Haiku 357

Dawn-gilded lawns lie
Greenly glowing against grey
Sidewalks and blue skies

22 December 2009

Haiku 356

Where is dawn's quiet?
Where is noon's unguarded light?
Where is night's darkness?

21 December 2009

19 December 2009

Yes, Virginia, there is. . .

Holiday Lane, Macy's, Herald Square, New York
(maybe the miracle on 34th street is cloning)

Haiku 353

That litter of leaves
Left by the rains: why sweep them,
They'll rot where they are

18 December 2009

Haiku 352

Again with the moon
Silvered clouds float slowly by
Again I gaze up

17 December 2009

16 December 2009

Haiku 350

That cobweb is home
To a spider and her brood:
How clean is enough?

15 December 2009

Haiku 349

Wounded little bird,
Flutter to uncaring skies;
The whole world mocks you

13 December 2009

Haiku 347

Books I rushed to buy:
Their covers covered with dust,
Their pages unread

High Culture Uplifts Both Mind and Morals

Fuckcrostic: Men's Room, The Metropolitan Opera House, New York

"Juillard diplomas": Men's Room, Avery Fisher Concert Hall, New York

12 December 2009

the Berkeley New Music Project

Yesterday evening I was dragging my jet-lagged self from work to The Hard Nut, and even on the lower level of the Berkeley BART station I could hear lilting carols, which is not the kind of thing you normally hear at the Berkeley BART station, even at this festive season of the year. So, being semi-flush with bills, when I reached the upper level I put a few in the bucket. The gentleman on the far left in the picture below said, "Thank you" and handed me a slip of paper.

One side said the Berkeley New Music Project and the other said:

"We are graduate student composers and friends of the composition program at UC Berkeley['s] Department of Music. We're raising money to support our performing organization, the Berkeley New Music Project. Each semester, BNMP presents 1-2 concerts of graduate student compositions. Recent budget cuts have left us with a funding shortage that we need to make up in order to uphold the standard of high-quality professional performance that has become a vital component of our program. A donation today will go directly toward funding our concert next semester (April 4, 2010)."

You can mail contributions to them at:

Department of Music
University of California, Berkeley
104 Morrison Hall #1200
Berkeley, CA 94720-1200
(Specify "Berkeley New Music Project")

Or you may contribute online here. And you can read about the group here. And their next concert is this Thursday, December 17, at 7:00 p.m. at Hertz Hall on the Berkeley campus.

I think it's great they're out raising money and publicizing themselves (this was the first time I'd heard of this group). And I'm sure it's good practice for their future. But I also think it's a shame they have to turn busker to raise funds rather than just to gain publicity: you'd think a major public university could finance something as basic as performances of graduate student compositions (oh, my alma mater!). It just seems like a symptom of the growing corporatization of American universities: the administration and the Board are taken care of, and so are departments that can get corporate funding, and everything else (in other words, the things universities primarily exist to preserve, protect, and expand) gets tossed by the wayside. (I should probably clarify that these opinions are mine and not those of this group; my only conversation with them was to ask if I could take their picture.)

So if you're looking for a recipient for any year-end donations, why not show some faith in the future of music and think of this group.

Double Self-Portrait at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: French Art Deco

Haiku 346

Heavy rains whiten
Grey skies; roses bend toward
Saturated earth

Haiku 335-345

Haiku 345, Friday 11 December 2009

Absent just ten days:
The fig tree is stripped of leaves,
The pathways are strewn

Haiku 344, Thursday 10 December 2009

All this will go on
Whether I'm here or elsewhere:
Planes, birds, buildings, trees

Haiku 343, Wednesday 9 December 2009

Just a few short lines
And, like a fly in amber:
Dead loves, live sorrows

Haiku 342, Tuesday 8 December 2009

The suffering Christ,
Finely drawn, now decorates
A rich man's hallway

Haiku 341, Monday 7 December 2009

Gently drifting flakes
Snow feathering softly down
Melting at earth's touch

Haiku 340, Sunday 6 December 2009
(for St Nicholas)

Severe, suffering,
Yet to be remembered as
A kindly giver

Haiku 339, Saturday 5 December 2009

Times Square at midnight:
Flashing noise lights taxis crowds:
Pretty much like noon

Haiku 338, Friday 4 December 2009

To see this grey green
Vista you must also hear
That distant music

Haiku 337, Thursday 3 December 2009

Lozenges of light
Lined up across dark buildings,
Echoing the stars

Haiku 336, Wednesday 2 December 2009

Romantic vistas
Require constant maintenance
From romantic eyes

Haiku 335, Tuesday 1 December 2009

Trapped among strangers
No other thoughts come to me
Trapped among strangers

11 December 2009


Time boarding began: 3:40 p.m.

Scheduled time of take-off: 4:10 p.m.

Actual time of take-off: 6:30 p.m.

So we were sitting there on the runway for almost three hours. They didn't even bother to offer us headsets or a second tiny bag of cashew fragments during the endless flight. But they did once thank us for our patience, as if we had a choice.

Plus they lost my luggage, which is pretty remarkable since I got on at New York and went non-stop to Oakland. Yet somehow my suitcase ended up in Fort Myers.