Monday, February 19, 2018

Risking Delight

Random photo of Sophie that my friend Jody sent me over the internets this weekend

Precious child, Jody wrote when she sent me the photo above.

Isn't everything entirely wacky? Do any of ya'll listen to the podcast "The Daily?" Today's segment was like listening to a thriller. It's all about the Russians and their attempts to mess with the "democracy" that is, arguably, the United States of America. We've all been played like idiots, apparently. I shouldn't be flippant as it's actually pretty chilling. Here's the link.

Holy shitoly.

My friend Moye texted me the other day. What is going to happen to us?

What else? I've been on a novel reading binge of late which cheers me.  While I like to say that reading is my only constant, it's much more difficult these days to fully immerse myself in fiction. I've finished Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel, Jaime Quattro's Fire Sermon and T. Gertler's Elbowing the Seducer. I absolutely devoured each one. I think I'd consider marriage for the third time with Jaime Quattro or at least some kind of long-distance mind meld.

What else? I saw Black Panther on Friday night with The Bird Photographer. It was an exhilarating movie, even if you don't care for action hero sort of movies. It will deeply affect you for days afterward. I figure you've read all about it already, but if you haven't, this New Yorker article by Jelani Cobb is illuminating. I learned something listening to The Bird Photographer's reflections about it. He's an intensely empathic man, a man of few words so carefully chosen and thoughtful, and I'm grateful for his patience. I talk and I talk and I talk and I talk too much. I need to listen and reflect, especially now. We white people have a lot to learn and even more to reflect on. Most of all, we need to listen to people of color, to their words. We need to soak in their art, open our eyes and our hearts, let our minds blow open.

Wise counsel told me to continue to speak clearly. Speak clearly, she said.

Keep resisting, I think. Don't normalize or conform. Be brave.

What else? This post is phenomenal. I have been reading Gabrielle of Design Mom for nearly a decade, and I admire her so much.

Here's a repost of one of my favorite Jack Gilbert poems.

A Brief for the Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.


  1. One of my favorite poems you've ever posted.
    I need to go see Black Panther and you are exactly right- we white folks need to shut up sometimes with our opinions and listen and observe that which we think we know so much about. Boy, that's a subject we all need to ponder.
    As to taking away all guns- you know- I was talking to Mr. Moon about this the other day. Or at least about owning guns that are not made specifically for hunting. He said, "You could ban semi-automatic weapons and pistols and it would not bother me at all."
    I don't know. I think there is a great divide between rural and urban areas in this regard.

  2. That was Dan's favorite Jack Gilbert poem. And yes to all you've said. I'm so disheartened these days.

  3. I enjoyed this essay so much, I listened to it twice. Actually I put it on as a podcast when I went to bed and fell asleep before it was over, the first time.

    Click on Listen once you get there. The essay could be titled "Why shouldn't stupid people be represented in government?"

    I think you'll appreciate it.


  4. exquisite poem. reminds me of some dreams I've had. Thanks to the universe that you have books and people, and movies and conversations that sustain you. Because it is all a big fucking mess. We will get through it, for what else is there?

  5. I’ll have to listen to that podcast. We were sitting duck for the Russians’ destabilization effort, weren’t we? Our divisions are so easily made into chasms. We forget that we are, in the words of T’Challa, all one tribe. I love that photograph of your beautiful girl.

  6. That random photo your Friend took of Sophie is so candid of what clearly appears to be a very Joyful Moment!



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