Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It Was Domestic Thunder, the Color of Spinach

  • I'm at home getting furnace surgery, trying to get work done from my laptop, guess who wants to play?
  • This past Sunday afternoon someone knocked on my front door. Maryland's primary is in little over three months, I'd seen canvassers in the neighborhood since the New Year. I figured it was a canvasser, though because it might have been a neighbor I answered the door. It was a canvasser, a mid-60s woman working for Chris Van Hollen, the shoe-in Democratic Senate candidate to replace the retiring Barbara Mikulski, and Hillary Clinton. I said, I don't vote, but if I did vote for this office in the primary I'd vote for Donna Edwards and Bernie Sanders. She said, you don't vote? I said, I haven't since the 2008 general election. She looked at her clipboard, I'm still on the rolls. But you'll vote for the Democratic candidates in this November's election, won't you? she said. Probably not if it's Sanders, definitely not if it's Clinton, I said. She said, lots of people say that now - the last four people today I've talked to said something to that effect, but you'll vote against the alternative even if not for Clinton.
  • Insist.
  • OK, I said, thank you. To her credit she did not then ask for a donation to the DNC.
  • Fire at the refuge.
  • On protests and crowds.
  • The Federal Reserve of Defense Act.
  • Don't miss the deadline.
  • Art Decade.
  • Ashbery's poems, Cornell's boxes, and nostalgia.
  • Yes, reading Ashbery makes me think of the toggle from black & white TV to color, my Wyakin, that toggle.
  • Wyakin (as defined by Vollmann in the glossary to The Dying Grass): Relating to the specific power of fearsomeness or invulnerability in war, or success at hunting or other difficult things, achieved through the fasting and sleeplessness of a vision quest. In effect, the Wyakin was a guardian spirit. Each man or woman lucky enough to meet one was assigned a personal taboo (for instance, White Thunder was not permitted to smoke). A Wyakin could be anything from shore ice to a wolf (as was White Thunder's) to a beetle or a night ghost.
  • I am not permitted to smoke either either.
  • Best reading experience of what feels like the last dozen years. If I like you and you ask nice I will buy you a copy - but not for two paycheck cycles, I'm having furnace surgery right now, gonna set me back big - and you promise to try - not promise to finish, promise to try.

Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape

John Ashbery

The first of the undecoded messages read: “Popeye sits in thunder,   
Unthought of. From that shoebox of an apartment,
From livid curtain’s hue, a tangram emerges: a country.”
Meanwhile the Sea Hag was relaxing on a green couch: “How pleasant   
To spend one’s vacation en la casa de Popeye,” she scratched
Her cleft chin’s solitary hair. She remembered spinach

And was going to ask Wimpy if he had bought any spinach.   
“M’love,” he intercepted, “the plains are decked out in thunder   
Today, and it shall be as you wish.” He scratched
The part of his head under his hat. The apartment
Seemed to grow smaller. “But what if no pleasant
Inspiration plunge us now to the stars? For this is my country.

Suddenly they remembered how it was cheaper in the country.   
Wimpy was thoughtfully cutting open a number 2 can of spinach   
When the door opened and Swee’pea crept in. “How pleasant!”
But Swee’pea looked morose. A note was pinned to his bib. “Thunder   
And tears are unavailing,” it read. “Henceforth shall Popeye’s apartment   
Be but remembered space, toxic or salubrious, whole or scratched.”

Olive came hurtling through the window; its geraniums scratched
Her long thigh. “I have news!” she gasped. “Popeye, forced as you know to flee the country
One musty gusty evening, by the schemes of his wizened, duplicate father, jealous of the apartment
And all that it contains, myself and spinach
In particular, heaves bolts of loving thunder
At his own astonished becoming, rupturing the pleasant

Arpeggio of our years. No more shall pleasant
Rays of the sun refresh your sense of growing old, nor the scratched   
Tree-trunks and mossy foliage, only immaculate darkness and thunder.”   
She grabbed Swee’pea. “I’m taking the brat to the country.”
“But you can’t do that—he hasn’t even finished his spinach,”   
Urged the Sea Hag, looking fearfully around at the apartment.

But Olive was already out of earshot. Now the apartment
Succumbed to a strange new hush. “Actually it’s quite pleasant
Here,” thought the Sea Hag. “If this is all we need fear from spinach
Then I don’t mind so much. Perhaps we could invite Alice the Goon over”—she scratched
One dug pensively—“but Wimpy is such a country
Bumpkin, always burping like that.” Minute at first, the thunder

Soon filled the apartment. It was domestic thunder,   
The color of spinach. Popeye chuckled and scratched
His balls: it sure was pleasant to spend a day in the country.


  1. This past Sunday afternoon someone knocked on my front door.

    Not the suede denim secret police?

  2. donna edwards was my congressperson - i didn't move, the district boundaries did

    i will vote for her in the primary

    if bernie blocks hillary, then even if the bosses subsequently block bernie (for biden) i will count it as a victory for the people

    i read with interest an article in the daily mail about bill and hillary's very early days - the url summarizes the story


    this is said to be from a forthcoming book by jerry oppenheimer