Morning Poem #2, April 20, 2019

Don’t talk to me about those guys who have never fished at night

The disciples did it.  They knew

It’s not really about all that gear

You throw the bait into the darkness

Into the mystery of the black sky and black water

And you wait, half asleep

Hearing now and then

Noises you cannot identify

But wishing you were nowhere else

Untroubled, for an hour

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Morning Poem #2, April 20, 2019

Don’t talk to me about those guys who have never fished at night

The disciples did it.  They knew

It’s not really about all that gear

You throw the bait into the darkness

Into the mystery of the black sky and black water

And you wait, half asleep

Hearing now and then

Noises you cannot identify

But wishing you were nowhere else

Untroubled, for an hour

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Morning Poem, April 20, 2019

In late winter mornings are early

and on clear days the sunlight pours through the windowglass

 like a promise of new life

Lighting up the breakfast tablecloth

and shining on the white china

And on reflection we wished

that we had stayed there.  Had lived in that bright hope.

Where we walked from room to room

in the comfort of the low fire. 

Thinking all along how pleasant life would be

in only weeks when the trees would bud and

we might leave the house without coat or hat.  

Settled in comfort and in that imagining.

Cloistered and away from engagement, commerce and planting.  

Tucked in.   In socks and sweaters, remembering past joys.

Copyright 2019

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evening Poem #4, April 3, 2016

Posted on April 2, 2016by labeak52

.

Step out onto the porch
And breathe the rain-softened air
Watch the dirt and leaves borne aloft,
Tossed, swirling
You sip your coffee, zip up your hoodie and
Think of the birds, glossy wet now
Ducked under limbs, into shrubbery
Braced against this wind

Copyright 2016

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Main Street, by Sinclair Lewis

Before I read Main Street I would have confused Sinclair Lewis with Upton Sinclair.  Both of them American novelists of the early 20th century; both of them having written books that English teachers require their students to read and that nobody otherwise picks up anymore.  I still can’t tell you much about Upton Sinclair, but reading Main Street has motivated me to find out more about Sinclair Lewis.  There is a lot to find out.

I was so motivated not only because I enjoyed the book, but because I was almost immediately impressed with the idea that this book has, as it were, “a place” in American literature.  Although I read that Garrison Keillor has not much good to say about Mr. Lewis, no one will convince me that he was not a major influence on Keillor’s own work.

Main Street is a story about a fictional Minnesota town named “Gopher Prairie.”  No one will convince me that this town was not the forerunner of Keillor’s “Lake Wobegon.”  There are differences in tone, that’s for sure.  Keillor is a comedian and his takes on small-town life were designed to evoke knowing, sympathetic, gentle laughter.  Some have categorized Sinclair Lewis’s writing as “satire” but I disagree.  I think of satire as comedic and cartoon like.  Main Street, like any human drama, has its humorous and ridiculous moments.  There are characters in the book, like some in every life, who really are not much more than ridiculous.  But the tone in Main Street is serious and the drama realistic.

Because I saw the effect of Lewis on Keillor, I looked around the Web at Lewis’s career. There are lots of surprises.  Here’s one:  Sinclair Lewis was the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.  Consider that Lewis was a contemporary of those guys who are still worshipped in American literary circles: Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner and it was he who first won the big prize.  Lewis not only produced a raft of novels; he also wrote for the screen.  Many of his books became “major motion pictures” but it looks like he wrote other screenplays, as well.

Main Street is the story of a marriage.  It is a marriage that is profoundly affected by the town in which the couple lives; by the bleak and unimaginative Main Street that defines the town, but it is the marriage itself that is the heart of the story.  The book reveals the ways in which men and women unthinkingly and unintentionally mistreat each other.  It is worthwhile for that alone, inasmuch as those dynamics have not changed.

Some have commented that Lewis was “not a stylist,” and that this is a reason why his books have not continued to sell like those of Hemmingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner.  Lewis’s writing, in Main Street at least, is pretty direct, not hard to follow or figure out.  He does not, unlike Hemmingway, leave the greater part of the story submerged below the page.  But “style?”  Just let me say this: there are scenes in this otherwise straightforward story that simply come off the page.  His description of the prairie spring – the countryside that Carol Kennecott walks through as she meditates on the plainness of her life; and his description of a sleighride across a frozen lake on a starlit winter night are sheer poetry.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Main Street, by Sinclair Lewis

Before I read Main Street I would have confused Sinclair Lewis with Upton Sinclair.  Both of them American novelists of the early 20th century; both of them having written books that English teachers require their students to read and that nobody otherwise picks up anymore.  I still can’t tell you much about Upton Sinclair, but reading Main Street has motivated me to find out more about Sinclair Lewis.  There is a lot to find out.

I was so motivated not only because I enjoyed the book, but because I was almost immediately impressed with the idea that this book has, as it were, “a place” in American literature.  Although I read that Garrison Keillor has not much good to say about Mr. Lewis, no one will convince me that he was not a major influence on Keillor’s own work.

Main Street is a story about a fictional Minnesota town named “Gopher Prairie.”  No one will convince me that this town was not the forerunner of Keillor’s “Lake Wobegon.”  There are differences in tone, that’s for sure.  Keillor is a comedian and his takes on small-town life were designed to evoke knowing, sympathetic, gentle laughter.  Some have categorized Sinclair Lewis’s writing as “satire” but I disagree.  I think of satire as comedic and cartoon like.  Main Street, like any human drama, has its humorous and ridiculous moments.  There are characters in the book, like some in every life, who really are not much more than ridiculous.  But the tone in Main Street is serious and the drama realistic.

Because I saw the effect of Lewis on Keillor, I looked around the Web at Lewis’s career. There are lots of surprises.  Here’s one:  Sinclair Lewis was the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.  Consider that Lewis was a contemporary of those guys who are still worshipped in American literary circles: Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner and it was he who first won the big prize.  Lewis not only produced a raft of novels; he also wrote for the screen.  Many of his books became “major motion pictures” but it looks like he wrote other screenplays, as well.

Main Street is the story of a marriage.  It is a marriage that is profoundly affected by the town in which the couple lives; by the bleak and unimaginative Main Street that defines the town, but it is the marriage itself that is the heart of the story.  The book reveals the ways in which men and women unthinkingly and unintentionally mistreat each other.  It is worthwhile for that alone, inasmuch as those dynamics have not changed.

Some have commented that Lewis was “not a stylist,” and that this is a reason why his books have not continued to sell like those of Hemmingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner.  Lewis’s writing, in Main Street at least, is pretty direct, not hard to follow or figure out.  He does not, unlike Hemmingway, leave the greater part of the story submerged below the page.  But “style?”  Just let me say this: there are scenes in this otherwise straightforward story that simply come off the page.  His description of the prairie spring – the countryside that Carol Kennecott walks through as she meditates on the plainness of her life; and his description of a sleighride across a frozen lake on a starlit winter night are sheer poetry.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

More to The Story: 4/4/19

The fight with Barret and the hints from Terry Smith and the immediate acceptance and encouragement in his first phone call to Sherry were more than enough to steel him for whatever he might face from her parents.  There was talk at school about them. How unapproachable they were; how smart and different from anyone else; how they guarded their daughter. But he was fearless now. He thought of every word that might be spoken and how he might – how he should – respond.  His best ideas came when he tried to imagine how he might feel in their situation. He would be humble and reassuring; grateful. He thought of ways to communicate all of that.

It was twilight when he pulled his parents’ car into her parent’s driveway.  A block before he had switched on the headlights to send the message that he was careful and aware as a driver.  He hoped that they had not heard everything there was to hear about his history as a driver. That was all ancient history, now.

He parked and stepped out into the cool evening dusk and put on his blazer and went up the steps and to the front stoop.  He was surprised to meet her parents at the door on their way to the house of some friends for the evening. He was given no opportunity for his rehearsed lines; those lines calculated to calm the folks and to endear himself to them.  Hi, Johnny, they said. Sherry is a little behind this evening. Have a seat, she’ll be down in a minute. And they were gone

When she came down, she was smiling and the idea that he was now living the life he had been destined for came over him again, this time stronger than ever before.  What else could I possibly want other than this? Other than her? What could be more or better than this?

“Do you think this is right for tonight?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah,” he said “it’s perfect.”

“You don’t have to say that.”

“I say it because it’s true.  Anybody in their right mind would see it.  It ought to be shouted. It’s perfect.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evening Post, April 3, 2019


2

He was muddy from head to toe and he had ridden his friend’s motorcycle the five miles from the falls in the river to his home on the hill in town.  Though the day had been unseasonably warm for this early in April, by early evening, by the time he got out of the river and onto the bike there was more of March in the air than May.   As he parked the bike in the driveway and dismounted he felt the mud on his shirt and pants crack as he walked.

But he had felt no pain as he had sped along the narrow river road as the sun dipped below the hills in the west.  There would be few days in his life when he would feel so sanguine and so impervious to the weather.  He thought of the hour before him now.  The hour when he would shower and watch the water, red with mud, drain beneath his feet and his body would tingle and shiver in the warmth and he would feel himself a strong man and ready for his first night with Sherry, the girl he had dreamt of since elementary school.

He had always before been afraid to ask, thinking her out of reach, but two things had happened the day before that broke the dam in his heart.  He had given John Barret a much-needed whipping and he had gotten more than just a hint from Sherry’s friend that she would be happy to get a call l from him.

Barret had troubled him for years and he had ducked the conflict throughout, knowing that whatever the day might bring, there could never be any lasting resolution.  Even a win would have made things worse.  But in these last days his calculation had altered and with one more jibe from Barret he responded and stood chin to chin and caught Barret’s first attempt at a punch and took him to the round and wrenched his arm behind his back until he screamed . . . .

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evening Post 4/3/19 continued

He thought of the evening that lay before him and he thought of himself, at last, as the person he wanted to be.  The person he knew that his parents wanted him to be.  And that person was a confident young man and one who did not cower or fear in the halls of the school and one who naturally and intentionally attracted the right girl who – he now could imagine – might feel content on his arm. The world was before him now and now, at last, it looked like a place he could live in – a place where he could make his mark and wake up every morning excited about another chance, another bite at the apple.

The place they would go this evening had always been his favorite, ever since his parents had taken him there as a child.  It was a white-tablecloth dinner club out on the river road with a dance floor and a band that played music from the 1940s.  On this, a Thursday night, the place would not be crowded and the waiter, he was sure, would make over the two of them, the handsomest couple in the place, no doubt.   He had never even tried to dance, but tonight he would and he knew as sure as he walked that all there was to it was to be confident and tender and act like he’d done it all his life.

He took the shirt he loved best from the closet and decided that he would wear the blue blazer, too.  Why not dress it up?  He wondered why he had not broken out of himself before now, why he had not seen the possibilities before him; why he had not judged rightly his own strength and ability?  Why with only these few weeks before all would change had he finally had the resolve to walk into the life that he always knew he wanted . . 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Evening Post 4/3/19 continued

He thought of the evening that lay before him and he thought of himself, at last, as the person he wanted to be.  The person he knew that his parents wanted him to be.  And that person was a confident young man and one who did not cower or fear in the halls of the school and one who naturally and intentionally attracted the right girl who – he now could imagine – might feel content on his arm. The world was before him now and now, at last, it looked like a place he could live in – a place where he could make his mark and wake up every morning excited about another chance, another bite at the apple.

The place they would go this evening had always been his favorite, ever since his parents had taken him there as a child.  It was a white-tablecloth dinner club out on the river road with a dance floor and a band that played music from the 1940s.  On this, a Thursday night, the place would not be crowded and the waiter, he was sure, would make over the two of them, the handsomest couple in the place, no doubt.   He had never even tried to dance, but tonight he would and he knew as sure as he walked that all there was to it was to be confident and tender and act like he’d done it all his life.

He took the shirt he loved best from the closet and decided that he would wear the blue blazer, too.  Why not dress it up?  He wondered why he had not broken out of himself before now, why he had not seen the possibilities before him; why he had not judged rightly his own strength and ability?  Why with only these few weeks before all would change had he finally had the resolve to walk into the life that he always knew he wanted . . .

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment