Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Friday, February 25, 2011

With Jeanne Moreau As 'Christine'

We get a lot of that, the logging debris, splinter chips, hillsides looking like a bad shave, bark-shred torn away like venison mauled-off by a bear.

Walking the moss that's grown seasons high up, now in low shadows of treelings cracked haphazardly and interlocked, we follow the path of mammals.

Last night I watched John Frankenheimer's film, the one about the train burglarizing Modern art from Paris into Germany,

The mania of a colonel steeled to steal.  He's High-Cultured, sure, a man with an eye and a purpose.

But he's a Nazi and uses the ways of The Reich to fetch the paintings home to him, chafed between their 'decadence' and excellence.

The Allies are near.  The Resistance has its work cut out, and as in all the post-War winning views, heroic French leave lives, in existential black-and-white.

Burt Lancaster, here a Frenchman, diverts the art train's path for a full screen-hour, finally chuffs up a hill, and with his bum leg slips and staggers and ultimately rolls to loosen the lugs on the railroad ties and knock out their quoins, derailing, when soon it comes, the engine and its first car.

The end takes place, in this case, by the wooded hill abutting the railway line, the way to Deutschland.

This end brings death to hostages and 'Krauts', this ends in boxes of Degas, scattered-about Seurat, piled-up Picasso, contents of the Jeu de Paume atumble amidst the timber-trash of broken ties, 

Art ambiguously crated-up from sight, inert and quiet, beautiful inside, ready for the next appreciator's ego, ready for the next dare and swaggering excuse.

Ends always come.


Sunday, February 20, 2011


This woman's friends.  There's a loom which the woman-friend works.

The man-friend's feeding chickens.  At night we sit in a kitchen with an oil lamp strung-around by a live spider's web.

There's some snow lying on the horse pasture.  There're antiques nearby stored for sale in the barn stalls and in the barn loft.

There's still hay scattered there.  Above, in the isolate crack-shafts of sunlight, old toys and edge-worn mirrors of dead beldames.

There's something about possessions.

There's something about what we have.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Condiment

Avoiding a curse is ritual.  Tossing salt over the shoulder.  It'll not happen, then, that bad dreams come at you.

And for positives, one looks in the mirror at moments of great confidence, perhaps after a day when separate compliments come:  You know so much. You're just so funny.

Not to mention a spark of a glance that under other conditions start long expeditions, find new continents.

So, to looking into that mirror for the Great One, the hero to take you on the journey into the possible, that you.
It's a finding that what's a prison of one's own limitations turns out to be a lucky number.

Pick the chair which makes you invulnerable to table whispers, sure that in the decorative tapers around, you're royal in the glint.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Non-Denom Glory

In the crook of fallen fir twigs,

water beads.  

On them, the sky breaks bright:

light shock, sun splinter, glass dazzle.

Just so, 

in the scheme of things

how -- and why -- I'm.


Peer Pressure

People don't want to do it all the time.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

Yet they're supposed to want to do it all the time or there's something wrong with them.

But what's really wrong is that they're meant to claim to want to do it all the time and feel as though they mean the feeling even though they're not having it.

Sure.  Some people do want to do it all the time, and we have places for them with cots, nutritious energy snacks, showering facilities, and plenty of filtered water.

Most people, though, would forgo that haven and just be left alone for a while simply not wanting to do it.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Political Aikido

If good will won't work

back off.

An aggressor toward you

wastes himself.

His hacks, his arm thrusts,

twist them.

An aggressor toward you

hates himself.

His fury outward at you,

bend back.

Just so much his force to send,

used up.

Tyrants fall, their systems

thin sticks.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Big Water Trip

Being taken to the house never seen, but a friend knew,

a piece of Green Dolphin Street could be anywhere, is.

And it not yet the vernal equinox, cold clearness still,

a whipped-cream curb where snow folds like a rolled-up cloud.

I fear windstorms as much as penitentiaries, and snow like the hangman.

As nature falls, it exacts an inheritance tax on the animal body of me,

my debt for the memory of grandfather's grandfather clock

still wound and winding, found and finding, a brute distress.

When spring comes, and in the late spring when it follows

with the bump of settling waves, of chopping waves

taking on cloud-forms and blown air, sprinkles, no ice traces,

me, sailing fast as a catamaran to the Any Islands.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Old Times

45 and rainy.  How much

we thought he lied.  His 'fever illness'

causing him to walk with a cane,

his track/field University life before,

his dual names as 'cultural I.D.'.

And her.  Her tongue wagged, good

gossipy tales, with knit brows,

self-righteously taut as a sexual breath,

her blush, her chuckle, her fingering 

lift of the Dry Sémillon, epicurean quaff.

And now.  Her on machines, him blind,

missing the imperfections we all share.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Last Time I Saw Paris

When 45 and rainy, one considers

people's history in a fat book.

And a rainy history considers

45 people's fat when in one book.


I know there are answers to this.

How do I find myself in non-neo-colonial proactive defensive wars.

How do I find myself in non-exploitative, socially-mobile, wealth-engendering corporate hegemonies.

I know.  There are answers to this.

This is no irony.  This means a changed world.

Whose terminology games me, a 'boy of the 50s'.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Post-Modern Rhapsody

The sedan, its sound system at medium-high volume catching the diamond tosses and pearl droplets of Donizetti bel canto, stops before a business intersection at a long light.

Across the way, dressed in a long smock, wearing a rubbery tiara spiked like the Statue of Liberty, dances a bearded man waving a sign promising 50 dollars if we do your taxes.  Boogaloo, his 50-year-old lip twist seems to say.  Get with the rhythm, gesture his fingers and fists.

His highs hit Donizetti highs

His hip-pivots, orchestral swoops.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Let's call them social workers, these two women who stood in the office of one of them. The office was a place of acquainting, dispensing, love.  The one whose office it was had rescued a dog, a German Shepherd, 'King', condemned to a suffocating death by law.

The Shepherd had failed to adjust to its foster homes.

The one woman whose office this was kept wristing-back, from time to time, the chain holding King in a muscular show of who-leads-whom.

They loved animals, these tall, strong two.

The office had a burnt-brick northern wall, an architectural allusion to industrial times.  Contrasted to that Dickensian surface were the other three walls, each with thin strips of chrome and large, broad panels of moon-bright light.

The post-modern shine contrasted with brick, the venerable, rough rust-and-char, but, also, now with the dark swirls on the coat of the jittery King.

Woman Number 2, a sturdy gal, had cloaked herself in an all-weather, quilted, down-stuffed, rain-proof jacket of red.  And when she got down on all-fours, encouraging a rub with  Hi, boy!  Hi, boy! no one foresaw or could stop King's wild move.

So fast was its lunge and the retraction of its muzzle.  So much was the sound of an ice cliff falling.  So much was the umbrage in a nature without reason.


Free Speech Movement

Political table set out on the sidewalk at the public entrance of a US Post Office displays a poster of President Obama with a Hitlerian mustache.  Plenty of leaflets.

Young woman, 'co-manning' the table, smiles a sweet smile and flaps a short 'hi' wave at me as I enter.  I pass on.

As I leave, I try to avoid eye contact, but I notice a conversation has been started between the other political operative and a woman, suburban middle class, white, maybe in her late 40s, who had dropped off her mail.

She's smiling, and she's already said something.

Now I hear what she says, smiling, twice:  Do I look like white trash? (pause) Do I look like white trash?