Chill blackness of sky
envelops trees, bush and porch.
I sit alone, I.
Faceless voices talk
faintly as a soft snowfall;
their words are winter.
They say we will kill.
They say we will kill, we will.
They say we will kill.
I sit alone, I—
dark trees darken, the night seems
Chill blackness of sky
descends airily towards
horizon’s soft light.
To Auden, My Granddaughter
born 4 November 2015
your little toes
are kernels of corn,
your small legs
are perfect stalks of barley.
That belly, so soft and concave,
is a basket twined into a whirlpool
made of many waters—
the lordly Hudson and other rivers:
the Potomac and Ireland’s Shannon.
The Chesapeake Bay is there,
and Lake Michigan and smaller pools,
the springs and ponds and puddles
brought forth by happy rains.
there are hills in your chest,
mountains in your shoulders,
and your arms are soft boulders
at the end of which spring
fine foxglove flowers.
Your face, oh! We have awaited
that smile, which warms like
the fiery smile of the sun!
Your nose divides your cheeks
to make twin rows of roses.
And those eyes, Auden,
Those eyes! which,
when they open,
are like gallant stars,
prophecies of joy.
Blessed are those who inherit your gaze.
Your forehead is like the sky;
endless and fortress-like,
it harbors comfort and peace.
Blessed are we who know you.
Auden, thou art the earth of your parents’ love.
Auden child, thou art the air that they breathe.
Auden, thou art the water that washes them and slakes their thirsts.
Auden child, thou art the flame that enkindles hope.
The following poem was first published on McGuireHimself.com in 2011 _____________________________________________________________
Four Dances For Danby Rose McGuire
born 6 July 2011
Child of mountains and of valleys,
child of islands and of seas,
child of cities and of farms,
we greet you as an awaited one.
A river, made of many streams,
joined a river of many streams.
And they became one forceful river,
mixing tides like two hands interlacing.
A third river, made of many streams,
joined a fourth river of many streams,
and they too became a forceful river,
with the inexplicable interlacings of love .
Two forceful rivers joined
in you, Danby, and you are
the cup made of two hands joined,
And in that cup,
in you, Danby,
is the sea, the ocean, this watery planet.
Your little shoulders
your little eyes–open and awake, and closed and dreaming
of impressions without words,
those lips that smile in sleep
and cry in hunger and irritation
are like the Moon:
each is like the Moon
child of cities and farms,
child of islands and seas,
child of valley and mountain–
you make whole again
our fractured world.
AMIRI BARAKA (1934-2014)
There is music
but these are left from crowds
listening and singing
All the civilizations humans have built
(speed us up we look like ants)
Our whole lives lived in an inch
or two. And those few seconds
that we breathe
in that incredible speed
blurs of sight and sound
the wind’s theories
So for us to have been together, even
for this moment
profound like a leaf
blown in the wind
to have been together
and known you, and despite our pain
to have grasped much of what joy exists
accompanied by the ring and peal of your
is what it was about, really. Life.
Loving someone, and struggling.
Our Governor, whom I like to think of as Little Scotty Walker, defends the financing of the new Milwaukee Bucks Arena with the very clever slogan “Cheaper to Keep’em.” There are both theoretical and practical problems with the plan. But I believe Little Scotty is well aware of these problems. I mean the man’s not stupid, right? He’s the one after all who realized that the UW-System was an albatross around the neck of taxpayers. After all, being one of the best state university systems in the country and with the most severely underpaid faculty and staff in the Mid-West, the UW-System was costing rich people too much. So he’s cutting $250M from the system to make it even better. Now that’s an interesting number.
$250M is exactly the amount Little Scotty wants to give to the two billionaires who own the Milwaukee Bucks. Wesley Edens, co-founder of a $62B asset management company (and a former Lehman Brothers partner and managing director), and Marc Lasry, whose estimated net worth is $1.7B are the impecunious billionaires in need of a handout. In fairness to these two billionaires, let it not go unnoticed that they are proffering $100M of their own in the new arena project. The theory behind the taxpaper’s contribution is (as it always is) that loss of the Bucks will decrease revenue in the larger Milwaukee area, increase loss of jobs, and add to the costs of keeping the Bradley Center up and working for lesser entities than the top-tier Bucks, who have to give away tickets to get fans in. Even then, the upper stands are mostly empty.
(BTW: A free ticket doesn’t cover the overpriced, diluted beer and the exorbitant brats, which are all served by volunteer groups who are paid no wages.)
The trouble with that theory is that it has been proven wrong. Studies have shown that profits for local economies that build or refurbish stadiums are almost always less than 20% of profits forecast by urban planners who back the stadium plan. Usually, the new or refurbished stadiums benefit the team’s owners and the players, most of whom take their million dollar salaries and go home for the off-season.
Aside: What do you call 12 millionaires watching the NBA playoffs?
The Milwaukee Bucks.
Practically, the plan is dunderheaded. How could Little Scotty not see that? he said no to the casino in Kenosha. But those casino owners wanted to throw in $250M to help finance the new Bucks’ arena. There’s that pesky little number again. In addition, the casino would have added 10,000 jobs and paid to subside certain local roads and other infrastructure as well as taxes to both Kenosha and the state.
So in the Great Tradition That Is Wisconsin–a tradition honored for as many years as Little Scotty has been in office–the Wisconsin State Government is taking benefits and services from the poor and middle-class and using the cost of those benefits and services to stuff the pockets of the already wealthy.
But things do get worse. After the years of successful union busting, the State of Wisconsin Legislature and Little Scotty have conspired to repeal the alternative minimum tax. The AMT law is the legislature’s way to make sure that those persons who file with a lot of exemptions still have to pay at least something to contribute to the operations of the state. So if someone has an income of, say, $200,000 and has also amassed exemptions and deductions of $200,000, the state still expects that person to contribute. What the rates are for the AMT I do not know. But the estimated loss to the Wisconsin state revenue is $26M. It’s simply another gimmick to have rich people receive all sorts of benefits from the state while paying nothing.
I think that if you state the ideals of America we were taught as children–fairness, equality, opportunity, family values–and place them beside the actions of Republicans and Tea-Partiers, it is fair to say that Little Scotty and his ilk hate the America that I love.
While I was AWOL and not posting these last several weeks, the 94 year-old Harry Confusio (HC) continued sending me his portraits. The last one from March is of Robert Stephenson (1803-59).
Stephenson’s dad, George, was known as the “father of railroads” partly because his railroad gauge, at 4’8”, is the standard, conventional one around the world. It is sometimes referred to as Stephenson gauge.
George’s son carried on the the family tradition of excellent engineering by building some of England’s most important bridges of the 19th Century. His earliest bridge is the High Level Bridge in Newcastle, England. Watchers of the BBC crime detective tv series Vera can sometimes see the High Level Bridge in the background. Here’s a 19th century depiction of it.
Stephenson’s Royal Border Bridge is misnamed since it does not cross from England into Scotland; it ends about 15,000 feet short of reaching the border. It has 28 arches, and I believe it is a fine example of human stamina in the face of bewildering tediousness. Those poor stone workers! But a view from the Tweed River makes it an example of architectural tranquility and fortitude.
Stephenson completed many other projects, and he is often called the greatest engineer of the 19th century. That judgment is premature. But that is another story.