10.14.2019

people never forget two things, their first love and the money they wasted watching a bad movie

American History X (1998) - "A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did."
I watched it because: it's one of those iconic films that seems important to see, and I've liked Edward Norton in what I've seen so far.
story: 5/5--this is pure storytelling. I loathe the phrase "ripped from the headlines," but this movie watches like it's real life, not fiction. That's brilliant.
visuals: 4/5--not always easy to watch, every element has its place and there's a place for every element.
acting: 4.5/5--standout: besides Norton's outstanding performance as Derek Vinyard, Jennifer Lien was wonderful (as his sister Davina)
intangibles: 4.5/5--This film is enormously disturbing, yet sweet and strangely hopeful, and I am so glad that I watched it.
Academy Award nominee: Best Actor in a Leading Role--Edward Norton
overall: 4.5/5

Moulin Rouge! (2001) - "A poet falls for a beautiful courtesan whom a jealous duke covets."
I watched it because: It's one of the three films in the Red Curtain Trilogy by Bas Luhrmann, the first of which--Strictly Ballroom--is among my very favorites of all time.
Academy Award winner:
• Best Costume Design
• Best Art Direction--Art Direction
Academy Award nominee:
• Best Picture
• Best Actress--Nicole Kidman
• Best Film Editing
• Best Cinematography
• Best Makeup
• Best Sound
AFI's 25 Greatest Movie Musicals: #25
overall: 0/5--I pulled it out and threw it away after about 20 minutes. I haven't had such a viscerally negative reaction to a film since 2012's total horseshit black & white adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. This movie is a prime example of why "critically acclaimed" and "popular" mean absolutely zero to me, and why I watch (and love) so many movies that no one has ever heard of.

No Way Out (1987) - "A coverup and witchhunt occur after a politician
accidentally kills his mistress."
I watched it because: I needed something to clear the taste of Moulin Rouge! out of my system, and a thriller starring Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman sounded perfect.
story: 3.5/5--kinda loopy, but they manage to pull it back together in the end
visuals: 3.5/5--nothing too amazing except the completely implausible submarine rescue and [spoiler alert] Sean Young getting flung to her death from a balcony, saving us from another ill-fitting evening gown
acting: 4/5--standout: Costner is always a winner, and Will Patton as the delightfully slimy Scott Pritchard
intangibles: 3.5/5--Costner seems ambivalent about the romantic aspects of this film, but much more committed to the thriller/intrigue stuff. Hackman's a charismatic bad guy. It's a good movie.
overall: 3.625/5

Speed (1994) - "A young police officer must prevent a bomb exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph."
I watched it because: I'd never seen it. Sandra Bullock is always solid, and Keanu Reeves holds a secret place in my heart.
story: 2/5--seriously. 
visuals: 4/5--undeniably engrossing. The scenes where they're looking at/through the bottom of the bus nearly made me hurl.
acting: 3.5/5
intangibles: 3.5/5--I didn't really expect to like it, but I was glued to it from start to finish.
Academy Award winner:
• Best Sound
• Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing
Academy Award nominee: Best Film Editing
overall: 3.25/5

The Painted Veil (2006) - "A British medical doctor fights a cholera epidemic in a small Chinese village, while being trapped at home in a loveless marriage to an unfaithful wife."
I watched it because: it was a preview on something that I watched recently.
story: 5/5--based on a W. Somerset Maugham novel, this is a tragic love story, and it's a travelog to a vastly different time, place, and morality.
visuals: 4.5/5--absolutely stunning. If I hadn't known it was filmed on location in China, I would have thought it was unreal: all CGI.
acting: 5/5--standout: Edward Norton is phenomenal, again. Toby Jones' Waddington is a curious, wonderful distraction. Anthony Chau-Sang Wong is great as the nuanced Colonel Yu.
intangibles: 4/5
overall: 4.625/5

White Heat (1949) - "A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn."
I watched it because: it's part of my ongoing effort to include more classics in the mix.
story: 2/5--it took a lot for me to even try to get through this. There was a train? And then a cabin? And then a bunch of cars that all looked the same? And a prison??
visuals: 3/5
acting: 3/5--standout: John Archer as Philip Evans
intangibles: 2/5
Academy Award nominee: Best Writing, Motion Picture Story
overall: 2.5/5

How Do You Know (2010) - "After being cut from the U.S.A. softball team and feeling a bit past her prime, Lisa finds herself evaluating her life and in the middle of a love triangle, as a corporate guy in crisis competes with her current, baseball-playing beau."
I watched it because: I wanted something funny after the questionable results of White Heat, and this is an all-star cast. Should be good, right?
story: 2.5/5--to get into the story, you have to buy Reese Witherspoon as a professional softball player (oh come on) and the very hapless Paul Rudd as a CEO. And Owen Wilson as a professional baseball player (though he's never shown doing anything remotely athletic, which is telling).

visuals: 3/5--pretty people being pretty
acting: 3/5--standout: Jack Nicholson, in the surprising but perhaps satisfyingly scene-chomping role of Charles
intangibles: 3.5/5--there were some truly funny bits (Wilson's sleaze-ball character has a closet stocked with swag for the one-nighter girls he takes home, and Paul Rudd is just generally too adorable to be offensive)
overall: 3/5

The Pirate {a.k.a. God Loves Caviar} (a.k.a. O Theos agapaei to haviari} (2012) - "It is based on the true story of Greek pirate turned businessman Ioannis Varvakis, who made his fortune selling caviar in Russia and all over the world. Varvakis strives all his life for freedom for himself and then for his country, only to find that freedom cannot be won until it is shared."
I watched it because: I'm still in that Sebastian Koch phase....
story: 2/5--SO WEIRD. Like, 90% weirder than the weirdest movie I watch in the typical week. Bizarrely, perplexingly strange. Confusing, wandering ... weird.
visuals: 3/5--filmed on location in Greece and Russia, it is lavish and spectacular. There's a lot of rich costuming and some amazing shots of the sea. Unfortunately, there are also some cardboard sets whose edges show at just the wrong time, so it appears haphazard and careless.
acting: 2/5--in a pool of mediocrity, there is one standout: Evgeniy Stychkin (Ivan) is astoundingly good.
intangibles: 1.5/5--I wanted to like it. I wanted to have some reason for having watched it in the first place. But it's just. So. WEIRD.
overall: 2.125/5

Con Air (1997) - "Newly paroled ex-con and former U.S. Ranger Cameron Poe finds himself trapped in a prisoner transport plane when the passengers seize control."
I watched it because: The Pirate was godawful, and I wanted to see something I knew I'd like. I'd watched this before, but it's been a while. It was just right to clear my movie-watching head.
story: 3.5/5--coincidences run high here
visuals: 4/5
acting: 4/5--standout: nobody does cheerfully malevolent like John Malkovich (Cyrus the Virus), and Steve Buscemi's Garland Greene is a study in small acting
intangibles: 3/5--it's really hard for me to take John Cusack seriously in an action role, since my introduction to him was in all of those late-80s long-bangs angsty chick flicks. That being said, buddying him with the exuberant Nicolas Cage is pretty fun.
Academy Award nominee:
• Best Sound
• Best Music, Original Song
overall: 3.625/5

The Italian Job (1969) - "Comic caper movie about a plan to steal a gold shipment from the streets of Turin by creating a traffic jam."
I watched it because: I've seen the remake fairly recently, and wanted to remind myself of the differences between that and the original.
story: 3.5/5--silly and complex
visuals: 4.5/5--filmed on location in England and Italy
acting: 3/5--This is not Michael Caine's best film; his character (Charlie Croker) is a hound dog with a hair-trigger temper, which can make him hard to watch. Happily, there is a standout: Tony Beckley as Camp Freddie.
intangibles: 3/5--the driving is wonderful (as are the cars themselves), and the final scene is priceless
overall: 3.5/5

Draft Day (2014) - "At the NFL Draft, General Manager Sonny Weaver has the opportunity to rebuild his team when he trades for the number one pick. He must decide what he's willing to sacrifice on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with NFL dreams."
I watched it because: this movie is a favorite of one of my friends, who finds it borderline insane that I've never seen it. I do love Kevin Costner, so my reluctance to watch it was only so much stubbornness.
story: 4.5/5--very well done
visuals: 4/5
acting: 4/5--standout: Griffin Newman (Rick the Intern) and Arian Foster (Ray Jennings)
intangibles: 4.5/5--given that I've loved all of Kevin Costner's other sports films, it's no surprise that I adored this. Now I want to go back and see the others again, too....
overall: 4.25/5

The War Wagon (1967) - "The story of a man who was shot, robbed and imprisoned who returns to steal a large gold shipment from the man who wronged him. The gold is transported in an armored stage coach, the War Wagon."
I watched it because: I wanted something kind of quiet and mindless in the background while dealing with some household chores.
story: 3/5
visuals: 3.5/5
acting: 3/5--standout: Kirk Douglas, in what may be the first role of his that I've ever seen (Lomax). His line about how he got the cleft in his chin is outstanding.
intangibles: 3/5
overall: 3.125/5

[the title quotation is by Amit Kalantri]

10.13.2019

I've practiced the answers to all of their tests

When I asked for a pencil, they gave me a rattle.
When I asked for a hammer, they gave me a kiss.
All mongrel, no matter, I'll stay out past dinner;
I've practiced the answers to all of their tests.

I've given up sweets, their ridiculous shapes,
Their instructions on which ones have cherries.
Everything under the sun is lukewarm;
The poppies are blooming with worry.

When they gave me a map, I thought they were done,
I thought I could take off my dress.
They told me one town was as good as another,
Sent me packing, all fiddle, no case.

Each cul-de-sac greyed like a cooled brown bulb.
All dashboard, all driver, all sky & no cake.
Each neighborhood gatehouse, a live empty socket;
When they asked for my ticket, I gave them a wink.

The instructions all listed Step One as Repeat.
The poppies were planted in rows at the park.
I lived on a circle, then moved onto a square,
Then wandered back into the kitchen half-drunk.

The screen door, the scrim, the latch, the last word.
The glass throats of each vase open wide.
A house is the largest tombstone we make;
We keep walking, grateful, inside.

[Amy Woolard, 'A Girl Gets Sick of a Rose' from Best New Poets 2013]

10.12.2019

no one could honestly say that a musical makes sense

A fairly consuming injury, some domestic drama, and a court hearing have kept me away from the blog for a while. Catching up, here are some of the movies from the last couple of weeks...

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) - "An American physician and his wife take matters into their own hands after assassins planning to execute a foreign Prime Minister kidnap their son."
I watched it because: I'm trying to see more Alfred Hitchcock movies, and I like Jimmy Stewart.
story: 3/5--as you'd expect, the story itself is kind of far-fetched
visuals: 4/5--filmed on location in Morocco and England (as well as some in-studio), this is a gorgeous film
acting: 4.5/5--standout: Doris Day is great in the role of Jo, which required a whole lot of singing while stressed out
intangibles: 4.5/5--even the child actor (Christopher Olsen, as Hank McKenna) is terrific. This is a must-see.
Academy Award winner: Best Music--Best Original Song ("Que Sera, Sera")
overall: 4/5

Not Another Happy Ending (2013) - "When a struggling publisher discovers his only successful author is blocked he knows he has to unblock her or he's finished. With her newfound success, she's become too damn happy and she can't write when she's happy. The only trouble is, the worse he makes her feel, the more he realises he's in love with her."
I watched it because: I was looking for something kind of quirky for a gloomy Saturday afternoon. This--on Amazon Prime--was just the thing.
story: 3/5--the "isn't that convenient?" factor is very high
visuals: 3/5--pretty people being pretty, but nothing too memorable
acting: 3.5/5--standout: Iain De Caestecker (Roddy, the best friend) has understated star power
intangibles: 4/5--this is a moody, contemplative, depressing love story. If you can get over all those caveats, you'll love it.
overall: 3.375/5

Albatross (2011) - "Beth, a bookish teenager, befriends Emilia, an aspiring novelist who has just arrived in town. Emilia soon begins an affair with Beth's father that threatens to have devastating consequences."
I watched it because: As we all know, I adore Sebastian Koch--and he was fantastic in this.
story: 4/5
visuals: 5/5--gorgeous film
acting: 4/5--standout: besides Koch, Jessica Brown Findlay (as the rootless rebel Emilia) was terrific. It's also worth a look at the pre-star power Felicity Jones (Beth)
intangibles: 4.5/5--the whole point of the film is a moral conundrum that is not easily resolved. This one will make you think and may stick with you for a while. It certainly has with me.
overall: 4.375/5

Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990) - "John McClane attempts to avert disaster as rogue military operatives seize control of Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C."
I watched it because: I'm watching the series - and don't recall having seen this one before?
story: 2.5/5--great cinema, this ain't
visuals: 4.5/5--there's a reason this stuff is as popular as it's been: it's like salty snacks for the eyes (OK, ouch?) But my point is that it is compulsively watchable, and in this era Bruce Willis was swaggeringly, bewilderingly hot.
acting: 3/5--standout: John Amos as Grant, the Really Obviously Good Guy, and Art Evans (Leslie Barnes), the nerdy sidekick. And also Tom Bower (who I totally thought was Billy Bob Thornton), as Marvin.
intangibles: 4/5
overall: 3.5/5

The Tourist (2010) - "Revolves around Frank, an American tourist visiting Italy to mend a broken heart. Elise is an extraordinary woman who deliberately crosses his path."
I watched it because: it was a preview on another movie that I watched in the last month or so.
story: 4.5/5--convoluted as Hell, so don't think you can get up to get more to drink without missing a key plot point. It's not confusing so much as intricately detailed.
visuals: 5/5--phenomenal
acting: 4.5/5--standout: Johnny Depp was amazing.
intangibles: 4.5/5--There is something about this film that really drew me in. I think I could watch it again already. Highly recommended.
overall: 4.625/5

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) - "Riggs and Murtaugh are on the trail of South African diplomats who are using their immunity to engage in criminal activities."
I watched it because: I'm watching the series in order. I think I've seen this one? Maybe only at the theater when it first came out, though.
story: 2/5--way, way over the top unbelievable story. These movies get sillier as the series goes on, and this one is pretty insultingly dumb.
visuals: 4/5--filmed on location in California, it's a beautiful film to watch
acting: 2.5/5--standout: Sam the dog, and Joe Pesci (Leo Getz)--and this ought to say something...
intangibles: 2.5/5--the whole creepy South African thing is overdone, as is Riggs' bizarrely untenable reactions to fairly normal cop stuff
Academy Award nominee: Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing
overall: 2.75/5

The Limey (1999) - "An extremely volatile and dangerous Englishman goes to Los Angeles to find the man he considers responsible for his daughter's death."
I watched it because: it's part of a box set that I got with some Jet Li movies.  Don't ask me!
story: 4/5--this is such a Steven Soderbergh movie! He directed it, and his fingers are all over the pie. The way it's cut, the flow of time, the strange senses of humor and personal ethics, they all seem unique to him.
visuals: 3/5--very, very stark
acting: 3.5/5--standouts: Terence Stamp (as the super-creepy, frozen Wilson) and Peter Fonda (as the super-creepy, flamboyantly weird Terry Valentine)
intangibles: 4/5--Steven Soderbergh makes some distinctly peculiar pieces of work
overall: 3.625/5
NOTE: I watched the first 9/10 of this on DVD, as indicated above. I bought the set new from Amazon. Interestingly, at the climax of the film, the DVD froze. When I removed it from the player, I discovered distinct scratches on both the play side and the top (label) side; it had clearly been used many times before and polished as if to make it appear new. However, those top-side scratches rendered it unplayable. Luckily, the title is available on Prime. I watched the last 10 minutes on my [bleep] phone.

Home Again (2017) - "Life for a single mom in Los Angeles takes an unexpected turn when she allows three young guys to move in with her."
I watched it because: I'm always trying to bring something a little softer or funnier into the movie mix.
story: 3.5/5--kind of doofy. Is there any character in this movie who's not famous, or just about there? Come on.
visuals: 4/5--undeniably pretty
acting: 3.5/5--nothing Oscar-worthy here, but there are standouts: Jon Rudnitsky (George, the grown-up friend), Lola Flanery (Isabel, the preteen daughter), and Candice Bergen (Lillian, essentially the "Candice Bergen" type)
intangibles: 3/5--the love interest, Harry (played by Pico Alexander, a strange choice) is implausible, and even Reese Witherspoon's Alice seems unclear about how to sort out the situation beyond the first morning-after. It makes for a kind of long "light" movie.
overall: 3.5/5

[the title quotation is by Siegfried Kracauer]

9.21.2019

falling in love is glamorous hell

Uninvited, the thought of you stayed too late in my head,
so I went to bed, dreaming you hard, hard, woke with your name,
like tears, soft, salt, on my lips, the sound of its bright syllables
like a charm, like a spell.

                                         Falling in love
is glamorous hell; the crouched, parched heart
like a tiger ready to kill; a flame's fierce licks under the skin.
Into my life, larger than life, beautiful, you strolled in.

I hid my ordinary days, in the long grass of routine,
in my camouflage rooms. You sprawled in my gaze,
staring back from anyone's face, from the shape of a cloud,
from the pining, earth-struck moon which gapes at me

as I open the bedroom door. The curtains stir. There you are
on the bed, like a gift, like a touchable dream.

[Carol Ann Duffy {1955- } 'You' from Rapture]

9.20.2019

damn the bus always leaving

Loved you as a humdinger
             in Chicago,
loved you muscle-ly in the long
bluster of winter. I to you, always
             is the way
to move--I to you recited in doorways
and driveways and archways Anyway
             we could fit
together. We temper. Or we timber.
             However we bend
and burst, it's mighty. I've studied
             the body long
enough to know it's not a body
until it's been stirred. The useful
             hand made useful
by the breast, the breast by the ass,
             ass by the last
useable limb. Your legs begging
             to be rammed
into the same dark structure as mine,
because the weather has said we can
             not leave
yet. Look at us: becoming unbecoming.
Us, with our costly hearts. We love, you
             have loved, I will love
you, stave by stave. Whatever we do now
             will be undone.
Damn the bus always leaving. Damn
             this besotted joy.
By the bridged river we wait in a window
for the last of snow to fall. Here is where
             we are, you have, I will
be fumbled and thrown. I saying to you,
             you to I, oh come
on honey, one last stand in my soul.

[Kimberly Grey 'Conjugated', from Best New Poets 2011]

9.18.2019

a turning down toward finality

Silence is a shape that has passed.
Otu-bre’s lion-roses have turned to paper
And the shadows of the trees
Are like wrecked umbrellas.

The effete vocabulary of summer
No longer says anything.
The brown at the bottom of red
The orange far down in yellow,

Are falsifications from a sun
In a mirror, without heat,
In a constant secondariness,
A turning down toward finality—

Except that a green plant glares, as you look
At the legend of the maroon and olive forest,
Glares, outside of the legend, with the barbarous green
Or the harsh reality of which it is part.

[Wallace Stevens {1879-1955} 'The Green Plant', from The Collected Poems]

9.16.2019

I feel like Someone who’s been practicing poorly a system of rituals Banished and bled of their meaning

By now aren’t you weary of keeping your secrets?
Surely there is some other way, look at how easily
Things fall from the sky. We were shown a satellite view
Of how beautifully the shadows of the pyramids move
As the sun passes over them. If we were shown what
The sun does to your shadow, what would that do to us?
I’m weary. I feel as if I were trying to lift from a river
A span and a cross section of fast-moving water. As if
I were thinking it possible to tie a thread around a passage
Of time. I feel a little foolish and shy now. I feel like
Someone who’s been practicing poorly a system of rituals
Banished and bled of their meaning. No one if not you
Will be able to stop me. Is this what you expected would
Happen? And how are you feeling just now?

[Dara Wier {1949- } 'A Shambles', from You Good Thing]

9.15.2019

anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination

What’s something you really want but can’t afford?

That's an easy one. I was having a conversation on FB Messenger about this a couple of days ago, with a very dear friend.

Somewhere (how does anyone find these things?) I came across this link to Creative Boom's article about Robert Blomfield's photography. Heard of him? Me, neither. He was a doctor who happened to also love photography--learn more about him here or here and especially here--and his photographs were on exhibition for the last year or so in Edinburgh.

I love street photography. See, e.g., this previous post gushing about Chicago photographer Vivian Maier's discovered cache. I am lucky enough to have prints of two wonderful street photographers hanging in my own gallery (i.e. master bedroom).

I want a Blomfield. BADLY. The prints are available here, on his website. I rather desperately want this one, called "Couples, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh (1966)." (I've snipped only part of it.)


Other marvelous contenders would be "Man Smoking in Doorway," "Student Dance," and of course "Student Union."

But I can't afford them.

[from a list originally found on Tumblr - this is #55; the title quotation is by Oscar Wilde, from The Happy Prince]

9.14.2019

I want a few minutes more

A good party, but it gets late
and only a few in the cozy living room dawdle.
Our hostess offers another coffee,
which I should refuse, having seen our host
stifle a yawn. But it’s dark outside and I risk
rudeness, I know, in accepting. But I do.
I know I shall have to go in a little while.
Like a child making bargains about bedtime,
I want a few minutes more. Just a few minutes.

[David R Slavitt {1935- } 'Getting Late', from The Seven Deadly Sins and other poems]

9.12.2019

if we mortals love, or if we sing

It may be misery not to sing at all
               And to go silent through the brimming day.
It may be sorrow never to be loved,
               But deeper griefs than these beset the way.

To have come near to sing the perfect song
               And only by a half–tone lost the key,
There is the potent sorrow, there the grief,
               The pale, sad staring of life’s tragedy.

To have just missed the perfect love,
               Not the hot passion of untempered youth,
But that which lays aside its vanity
               And gives thee, for thy trusting worship, truth—

This, this it is to be accursed indeed;
               For if we mortals love, or if we sing,
We count our joys not by the things we have,
               But by what kept us from the perfect thing.

[Paul Laurence Dunbar {1872-1906} ‘Life’s Tragedy’, from The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry]

listen to it here

9.10.2019

never ever were we just friends

To be friends? How when
one still thinks of
the other, once more
remembers a hand
and something ________________,
something endearing placed
in my hand. O never
ever were we just friends
and from now on will be the most distant,
more distant than distant, since everything
was experienced together, what you carry away
from me, my smile, breath,
the doubts, everything.
What you bring to me amazes
me because “there is no greater
curse than not to share something
with the one whom you shared
everything, yourself left with
the other part.” The
residue with which one lives,
a new life that
comes from the old.
I have no residue, no
protective film, not having
received one, you should have sold
me rather than betray me,
put up with me somehow, rather than
deny yourself.

[Ingeborg Bachmann {1926-1973} 'Until We Meet Again', from Darkness Spoken: The Collected Poems]

9.09.2019

you cannot find peace by avoiding life

What would your perfect room look like?

Way back when, a lot of years ago, I undertook a whole bunch of projects all at the same time. I set out to organize several thousand printed photographs into (really nice, acid-free, professional quality) albums, in order by date. I compiled recipes into books and boxes. Beyond my usual compulsion to catalog movies, music and books, I morphed into a "completionist": it was not enough to own some books in an author's canon; nothing would do but to have all of them, preferably in the same binding style from the same publisher. Same with films and music--it was all or nothing.

A couple of years before all this kicked in, I'd been involved in the purchase of a first home. It was in really good shape, had no major problems, and was really pretty cute. It required a little bit of work (carpet in one room, wallpaper in another) to bring it up to immediately "modern."

However, around the time that I started all those other projects, I decided that the en suite bathroom really needed an upgrade. It is an oddly-shaped room, almost triangular, and the multiple browns in there were pretty horrid.

It took probably half a year of research, buying, and transformation to get that room into what at the time was my ideal bathroom. The walls were a deep Greek island sea color called "blue fjord", the furnishings were mahogany, the ceiling and fixtures bone white. It was a lovely room, enormously peaceful and soothing. It was completed in August.

I moved out in September.

When I reread this question, early this morning, I realized that I've done roughly the same thing with this (current) house.

The master bedroom is dark. Three walls of gray with the fourth wall slightly darker yet. The pictures on the walls are personal to me, and all shades of black, blue or green. The long drapes are gray velvet. The bedding is white or gray. It is a sanctuary of murkiness, of solitude, of stillness. It's one of those rooms that seems particularly well-suited to sleep, and not much else--which is perfect, since that's all I use it for. No reading, no TV {shudder}, no talking on the phone. Just sleep.

And yet.

Now that the room is done, even though there remain plenty of unfinished projects in the house, I'm finding myself feeling ...disengaged. Is it because the "perfection" that I sought in this house has been achieved, and I'm therefore ready to move on? Or is it because other parts of my life are unsettled, and this fix-it-and-forget-it mentality that was launched with the bathroom in that first house has kicked in again? Either way, I'm feeling more like there really is no such thing as perfect, that anytime one starts feeling happy with anything it's time to look for the lumps, and maybe being satisfied with less is the best route to take.

[from a list originally found on Tumblr - this is #4; the title quotation is by Michael Cunningham, from The Hours]

9.08.2019

counting the seconds and the movements of emptiness

He breathed deeply,
when the street awoke,
with the very features of yesterday.
He was not ready yet
to deal with the morning.
In her first absence,
what worries him
is not this morning,
he can make it through another morning.
What really worries him
is the mornings after,
his sitting absent-mindedly,
suffocated by air,
counting the seconds
and the movements of emptiness.
One little kick will do,
in his tremendous freedom,
to put love in order again,
and to calm the quivering world.
Just one little kick,
for the sake of bliss, which
overflows from her hands, roaming
on his back.

[‘Enayat Jaber {1958- } 'Circle' {trans. from the Arabic by Wen Chen Ouyang}, from Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond]