Rose Novick: Two Poems


     Here I am, squawking rudely over birdsong, though it seems no
one but me is bothered. Why not? I don’t know. Maybe you’re
hoping secret revelations wait coiled within my caws, and crackled
rudeness is the grate through which they’re leaking. I prefer to
think along soberer lines. Nature is secretless. To think a wrong
thought is impossible. For instance: overhead, the geese are in their
standard V-formation: death-dread reigns here as everywhere. No
esoterics, just the clever machinations of a being rudely thrust into
existence and, somehow, attached to this eternal incompatibility
with earthly bliss.
     Or take this fragment of a robin on the sidewalk, less today than
yesterday, the ever-fading pride of flies (don’t say you have not
noticed how we take credit for deeds we do not own.

Written in the Mirror, by David M. Rubin

Written in the Mirror

Watch the over-the-top Douglas Sirk melodramas of the 1950s for the color, costume, design, emotion — for sheer guilty pleasure. If you catch yourself over-indulging, pull back from the spectacle to wonder how he does it, what technical magic or tricks are at work. Or lean in from another angle to focus on the irony, politics, and symbolism.

One moment in the masterpiece “Written on the Wind,” 1956, highlights Sirk’s technological and narrative genius (still image below). Lucy Moore (Lauren Bacall) is in her bedroom in front of a mirror, combing out her hair. What can be more relaxing?

Further Adventures in the Land of Misfit Beings

Riffing on my previous post: The Arts have the potential to get us to stop for a moment, cool our jets, focus. Great art does that and more. It gives us license to think in entirely new ways about old and new things, and if we let it, pushes us to stop thinking in self-destructive ways that continuously block access to the world. It mainlines awareness of the Other. It mainlines at least a temporary escape from our egos, which is the first step in the journey toward true connections to the Not-me.

As mentioned, this escape is harder than it’s ever been for we humans, and we don’t have the built-in support systems of yore.

Not on my Wavelength, Man

Anyone who has spent any time online, trying to be understood, knows that we’re well past the Rush to Judgment phase in this round of evolutionary upheavals. And by that I don’t mean we’ve somehow figured it all out, learned to listen, to chill, to take deep breaths before we respond. We’re in a post-Rush era in the sense that those were the good old days compared with now. There’s no real rush to judgment any longer, because that would require at least some kind of interval before we pounce, flail away, and otherwise act like crazy people who really need to switch to decaf.

That was Before my Time, and Other Irrelevancies.

There’s “live,” and then there’s hearing things a bit later, via modern technologies, or reaching way back, generations ago, with crowded memories of what parents and grandparents once said, raved about, remembered fondly. There are visions, still, of the departed dancing, coming alive at the sounds in our kitchens, living rooms, and houses of friends who shared their generation’s songs and moods and collective dreams. And there are young singers today who have much further to go to reach those bygone eras, but want to, want to tap into generations past as well, because even they sense a time less encumbered by 24/7 expectations and never ending competition for eyes and ears and dollars.

C Pam Zhang: Land of Milk and Honey

In C Pam Zhang’s second novel, the focus is on food, but that focus is a bit hazy at times due to a plague of smog and its effects. In the not so distant future, most of the world is lost in smog, and it’s decimated humans, and wiped out most flora and fauna. Cli-Fi, Sc-Fi, and dystopian elements mix with affairs of the heart, taste buds, and our sensory experiences overall. Thought-provoking, unnerving, and deeply moving at times, this is a worthy follow up to the author’s sensational debut novel, How Much of These Hills is Gold.

An unnamed narrator tells us of this wounded world, looking back from roughly four decades to her 29th year.

New Nonfiction and Poetry, Plus Recent Readings

Spinozablue welcomes a poetry review by Hilary Sideris, and poems by John Grey, Dominik Slusarczyk, and Philip Jason.

In Clare Carlisle’s excellent biography of George Eliot (1819-1880), marriage and the work of a lifetime, the novels and her relationships, take center stage, with a unique philosophy of life undergirding both.

Gossip followed the novelist most of her life, mostly for living with a married man (George Henry Lewes), and could easily be central to any retelling. But Clare Carlisle chooses another way. A distinguished philosopher, and professor at King’s College, London, Carlisle critiques this Victorian era chatter at times (which was often brazenly hypocritical), but without a heavy hand.

Hilary Sideris: On the Poetry of Myra Malkin

Myra Malkin’s Sunset Grand Couturier

Review by Hilary Sideris

Sunset Grand Couturier, published by Broadstone Books in 2022, is Myra Malkin’s second poetry collection. Her first, No Lifeguard on Duty (2010), won Main Street Rag’s Author’s Choice Chapbook Prize. Though not “formal” poetry, Malkin’s free verse lines do scan. Weighty, witty, dark, fact-filled, and referential (Sunset Grand Couturier comes from the last line of an Ezra Pound Canto), these poems reckon with illness, grief, and loss. But it might be more accurate to say that the poems in this collection enact— sometimes quite entertainingly—the poet’s relationship with death.

Working the Kinks out, Plus new Paintings

Back in the late 1970s, I auditioned for lead singer of a local Rock band. I sang the Kinks and a couple of Led Zeppelin songs, and had a lot of fun in the process. No preparation. No practice. I just sang the songs the band members wanted to hear. To this day, though, whenever “You Really Got Me” comes on the radio, I think of what might have been, because I kinda sorta botched the transitions. For some odd reason, despite the song’s famously basic chord progressions, I muffed the changes. The band had to step in and help me find that bridge.

John Grey: The Next Generation


Late at night.
Storm, lashes the house.
Lights flicker.
Window panes shudder.

And yet,
I’m cuddled beside you on the couch,
your nearness like headphones
blocking out the world.

Is that thunder?
No it’s breath.
Is that lightning?
No, it’s touch by my reckoning.

Any moment now,
we could lose power altogether. .
So dark,
I’ll take a shine to you.



you can have my watch.

My time
stops at the very moment
I hand it off to you.

And here,
take these sneakers.

I don’t plan
to ever walk again.

And grab this shirt
and trousers.

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