Sunday, August 27, 2017

My Apologies to the Felled Trees for the Table's Four Legs

We parked at the Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor Center, did the mile and a half to Hog Rock trailhead (we meant to do the eight mile circuit) CLOSED! This motherfucking president uses Camp David. The apologizing volunteer rangers in their park ranger uniforms can't say when the eight mile circuit will be open again, not soon, nor could they explain there wasn't a sign at trailhead of trail to Hog Rock trailhead saying Hog Rock Trail closed.

  • New The Fall.
  • So fuck me and my bitching.
  • Closed, as in for the rest of Trump's presidency. I overheard a ranger, a manager-looking ranger, talking to another ranger - there are no planned visits to Camp David, Trump just wants it ready should he want to use it at any given time.
  • I finally miss Obama. That fucker never used Camp David.
  • On drive home from Catoctin on 15 and 270 I doubled-down on driving courteously and at the speed limit. Asshohilarity ensued.
  • We are being reprogrammed.
  •  3RA1N1AC!


Wislawa Szymborska
Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanaugh

My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I’m mistaken, after all.
Please, don’t be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from
     the depths.
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep
     today at five a.m.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don’t rush to you bearing a spoonful
     of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the
     same cage,
your gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to the felled tree for the table’s four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don’t pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional
     thread from your train.
Soul, don’t take offense that I’ve only got you now and then.
My apologies to everything that I can’t be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can’t be each woman and
     each man.
I know I won’t be justified as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don’t bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.


  1. 1)here's a suggestion published as a letter in the financial times - as a technique to make the aaargh less painful - referring to the current president as "45" - a number is more affectively neutral, and implies that just as there was a 44, there will be a 46, and so on

    2)my montag brought this poem to my attention - it has a great deal of truthiness to it, and may possibly be accurately autobiographical:

    After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
    I heard the announcement:
    If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
    Please come to the gate immediately.

    Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
    An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
    Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
    Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
    Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
    Did this.

    I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
    Shu dow-a, shu-biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
    Sho bit se-wee?

    The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
    She stopped crying.

    She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
    She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
    Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

    Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
    We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
    I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
    Would ride next to her—Southwest.

    She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

    Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
    Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

    Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
    Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

    She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering

    She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
    Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
    And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

    To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
    Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
    The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
    Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

    And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
    Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
    American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
    And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

    And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
    Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

    With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
    Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

    And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
    This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

    Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
    —has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

    They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
    This can still happen anywhere.

    Not everything is lost.

    Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.”

  2. Comment on the speed limit thing: go the speed limit, yes; but do it in the rightmost lane. if you do it on the interstate in the leftmost lane, then traffic builds up behind you and impatient assholes start darting in and out of the line right and left endangering those following politely waiting for a chance to move past (that's me) the speed limit goer. when an impatient sort tries to cut the line doing 65 or 70 mph by darting from the right into a two or three car length space (politely left by the careful follower; again, me), it's very dangerous to everyone in the queue. also a bit maddening. these are merely practical observations. if i'm in the left lane and folks come up quickly behind me, I find the first opportunity to move right and let them pass. I learned this on the autobahn, where you can go 100 mph and still get mowed down or plowed into from behind by a Porsche or BMW going 120 mph or faster. the rule there is move over for fast-goers. makes sense.

    Funny thing: in Iceland, I almost never hit the speed limit (which on the best roads was 90 kmh—55 mph or so). the scenery was too breath-taking, didn't want to miss a thing or have it flow past too quickly.