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Tag: Wislawa Szymborska

Thursday, December 12th

never enough

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Violin Partita No. 3 in E major; Shunske Sato (violin), live, Netherlands (Haarlem), published 11/28/19

 

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lagniappe

random sights

yesterday morning, Oak Park, Ill.

*****

reading table

Listen,
how your heart beats inside me.

—Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012, MCOTD Hall of Fame), from “Could Have,” translated from Polish by Stanislav Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

Wednesday, September 11th

It was, I recall, a cloudless morning in Chicago, as it was in New York. I had a hearing scheduled in federal court, but then, after the second plane hit, court was cancelled. We sat in front of the television, unable to turn away.

William Basinski (1958-), “Disintegration Loop 1.1,” 2001

 

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lagniappe

reading table

Photograph from September 11
by Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012, MCOTD Hall of Fame), translated from Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak

They jumped from the burning floors—
one, two, a few more,
higher, lower.

The photograph halted them in life,
and now keeps them
above the earth toward the earth.

Each is still complete,
with a particular face
and blood well hidden.

There’s enough time
for hair to come loose,
for keys and coins
to fall from pockets.

They’re still within the air’s reach,
within the compass of places
that have just opened.

I can do only two things for them—
describe this flight
and not add a last line.

Monday, September 11th

It was, I recall, a cloudless morning in Chicago, as it was in New York. I had a hearing scheduled in federal court, but then, after the second plane hit, court was cancelled. We sat in front of the TV, unable to turn away.

William Basinski, “Disintegration Loop 1.1,” 2001

 

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lagniappe

reading table

Photograph from September 11
by Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012; MCOTD Hall of Fame), translated from Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak

They jumped from the burning floors—
one, two, a few more,
higher, lower.

The photograph halted them in life,
and now keeps them
above the earth toward the earth.

Each is still complete,
with a particular face
and blood well hidden.

There’s enough time
for hair to come loose,
for keys and coins
to fall from pockets.

They’re still within the air’s reach,
within the compass of places
that have just opened.

I can do only two things for them—
describe this flight
and not add a last line.

Tuesday, August 30th

MCOTD Hall of Fame

Today drummer Hamid Drake (1955-) enters the MCOTD Hall of Fame, joining saxophonists Von Freeman and Henry Threadgill; trumpeter Lester Bowie; gospel singer Dorothy Love Coates; composer Morton Feldman; poets John Berryman, William Bronk, and Wislawa Szymborska; and photographer Helen Levitt. Whatever the situation, he adds oxygen.

DKV Trio (HD, drums; Kent Kessler, bass; Ken Vandermark, baritone saxophone), live, Chicago, 2010

Wednesday, January 20th

More of the late Otis Clay.

“That’s How It Is (When You’re In Love),” 1967


***

“Trying to Live My Life Without You,” 1972


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“Precious, Precious,” 1972


***

“The Woman Don’t Live Here No More,” 1974


***

“I Can’t Take It,” 1977


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lagniappe

reading table

. . . life, that storm before the calm.

—Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012, MCOTD Hall of Fame), “Negative” (translated from Polish by Clare Cavanagh)

Friday, September 11th

It was, I recall, a cloudless morning in Chicago, as it was in New York. I had a hearing scheduled in federal court, but then, after the second plane hit, court was cancelled. We sat in front of the TV, unable to turn away.

William Basinski, “Disintegration Loop 1.1,” 2001

 

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lagniappe

reading table

Photograph from September 11
by Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012, MCOTD Hall of Fame), translated from Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak

They jumped from the burning floors—
one, two, a few more,
higher, lower.

The photograph halted them in life,
and now keeps them
above the earth toward the earth.

Each is still complete,
with a particular face
and blood well hidden.

There’s enough time
for hair to come loose,
for keys and coins
to fall from pockets.

They’re still within the air’s reach,
within the compass of places
that have just opened.

I can do only two things for them—
describe this flight
and not add a last line.

Saturday, July 11th

sounds of Argentina

Juana Molina, live (studio performance), Seattle, 2014


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lagniappe

reading table: two takes

The Map
by Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

Land lies in water; it is shadowed green.
Shadows, or are they shallows, at its edges
showing the line of long sea-weeded ledges
where weeds hang to the simple blue from green.
Or does the land lean down to lift the sea from under,
drawing it unperturbed around itself?
Along the fine tan sandy shelf
is the land tugging at the sea from under?

The shadow of Newfoundland lies flat and still.
Labrador’s yellow, where the moony Eskimo
has oiled it. We can stroke these lovely bays,
under a glass as if they were expected to blossom,
or as if to provide a clean cage for invisible fish.
The names of seashore towns run out to sea,
the names of cities cross the neighboring mountains
—the printer here experiencing the same excitement
as when emotion too far exceeds its cause.
These peninsulas take the water between thumb and finger
like women feeling for the smoothness of yard-goods.

Mapped waters are more quiet than the land is,
lending the land their waves’ own conformation:
and Norway’s hare runs south in agitation,
profiles investigate the sea, where land is.
Are they assigned, or can the countries pick their colors?
—What suits the character or the native waters best.
Topography displays no favorites; North’s as near as West.
More delicate than the historians’ are the map-makers’ colors.

 

Map
by Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012, MCOTD Hall of Fame; translated from Polish by Clare Cavanagh)

Flat as the table
it’s placed on.
Nothing moves beneath it
and it seeks no outlet.
Above—my human breath
creates no stirring air
and leaves its total surface
undisturbed.

Its plains, valleys are always green,
uplands, mountains are yellow and brown,
while seas, oceans remain a kindly blue
beside the tattered shores.

Everything here is small, near, accessible.
I can press volcanoes with my fingertip,
stroke the poles without thick mittens,
I can with a single glance
encompass every desert
with the river lying just beside it.

A few trees stand for ancient forests,
you couldn’t lose your way among them.

In the east and west,
above and below the equator—
quiet like pins dropping,
and in every black pinprick
people keep on living.
Mass graves and sudden ruins
are out of the picture.

Nations’ borders are barely visible
as if they wavered—to be or not.

I like maps, because they lie.
Because they give no access to the vicious truth.
Because great-heartedly, good-naturedly
they spread before me a world
not of this world.

Thursday, June 4th

MCOTD Hall of Fame

Henry Threadgill’s Zooid,* live, Washington, D.C., 2013


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lagniappe

reading table

Nothings’s a Gift
by Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012; translated from Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak)

Nothing’s a gift, it’s all on loan.
I’m drowning in debts up to my ears.
I’ll have to pay for myself
with my self,
give up my life for my life.

Here’s how it’s arranged:
The heart can be repossessed,
the liver, too,
and each single finger and toe.

Too late to tear up the terms,
my debts will be repaid,
and I’ll be fleeced,
or, more precisely, flayed.

I move about the planet
in a crush of other debtors.
Some are saddled with the burden
of paying off their wings.
Others must, willy-nilly,
account for every leaf.

Every tissue in us lies
on the debit side.
Not a tentacle or tendril
is for keeps.

The inventory, infinitely detailed,
implies we’ll be left
not just empty-handed
but handless too.

I can’t remember
where, when, and why
I let someone open
this account in my name.

We call the protest against this
the soul.
And it’s the only item
not included on the list.

*****

the beat goes on

Two thousand posts—and counting.

*****

*HT (flute, alto saxophone), Liberty Ellman (guitar), Jose Davila (tuba, trombone), Christopher Hoffman (cello), Elliot Humberto Kavee (drums).

 

Thursday, September 11th

William Basinski, “Disintegration Loop 1.1,” 2001


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lagniappe

reading table

Photograph from September 11
by Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012; MCOTD Hall-of-Famer; translated from Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak)

They jumped from the burning floors—
one, two, a few more,
higher, lower.

The photograph halted them in life,
and now keeps them
above the earth toward the earth.

Each is still complete,
with a particular face
and blood well hidden.

There’s enough time
for hair to come loose,
for keys and coins
to fall from pockets.

They’re still within the air’s reach,
within the compass of places
that have just now opened.

I can do only two things for them—
describe this flight
and not add a last line.

Thursday, August 14th

soundtrack to a dream

Morton Feldman (1926-1987), The Viola in My Life; João Pedro Delgado (viola), et al., live, Portugal, 2014

#1

#2

#3

#4

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lagniappe

reading table

The Suicide’s Room
by Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012; MCOTD Hall-of-Famer), translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

I’ll bet you think the room was empty.
Wrong. There were three chairs with sturdy backs.
A lamp, good for fighting the dark.
A desk, and on the desk a wallet, some newspapers.
A carefree Buddha and a worried Christ.
Seven lucky elephants, a notebook in a drawer.
You think our addresses weren’t in it?

No books, no pictures, no records, you guess?
Wrong. A comforting trumpet poised in black hands.
Saskia and her cordial little flower.
Joy the spark of gods.
Odysseus stretched on the shelf in life-giving sleep
after the labors of Book Five.
The moralists
with the golden syllables of their names
inscribed on finely tanned spines.
Next to them, the politicians braced their backs.

No way out? But what about the door?
No prospects? The window had other views.
His glasses
lay on the windowsill.
And one fly buzzed—that is, was still alive.

You think at least the note could tell us something.
But what if I say there was no note—
and he had so many friends, but all of us fit neatly
inside the empty envelope propped up against a cup.

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