02 May 2015

Another Gratitude List

Every once in awhile I need to write a list of things I am grateful for.  The lists are never all inclusive and not in order of importance.  I am thinking I need to do one of these at least once a month.  It might be a good practice.  Do you like making lists such as this?

Ponder this:  What are you truly grateful for in your every day life?

30 April 2015

Eric Garner R.I.P.

This sad, simple, beautiful poem brought tears to my eyes.  I want to share it with everyone.

Originally posted on Split This Rock.

A Small Needful Fact

Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.

--Ross Gay

Used with permission.

Ross Gay is a gardener and teacher living in Bloomington, Indiana. His book, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, is available from University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015.

Please feel free to share Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this post, including this request. Thanks! If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.

19 April 2015

Sunday Poetry with Allen Ginsberg

The Transcription of Organ Music

The flower in the glass peanut bottle formerly in the
kitchen crooked to take a place in the light,
the closet door opened, because I used it before, it
kindly stayed open waiting for me, its owner.

I began to feel my misery in pallet on floor, listening
to music, my misery, that's why I want to sing.
The room closed down on me, I expected the presence
of the Creator, I saw my gray painted walls and
ceiling, they contained my room, they contained
as the sky contained my garden,
I opened my door

The rambler vine climbed up the cottage post,
the leaves in the night still where the day had placed
them, the animal heads of the flowers where they had
to think at the sun

Can I bring back the words? Will thought of
transcription haze my mental open eye?
The kindly search for growth, the gracious de-
sire to exist of the flowers, my near ecstasy at existing
among them
The privilege to witness my existence-you too
must seek the sun...

My books piled up before me for my use
waiting in space where I placed them, they
haven't disappeared, time's left its remnants and qual-
ities for me to use--my words piled up, my texts, my
manuscripts, my loves.
I had a moment of clarity, saw the feeling in
the heart of things, walked out to the garden crying.
Saw the red blossoms in the night light, sun's
gone, they had all grown, in a moment, and were wait-
ing stopped in time for the day sun to come and give
Flowers which as in a dream at sunset I watered
faithfully not knowing how much I loved them.
I am so lonely in my glory--except they too out
there--I looked up--those red bush blossoms beckon-
ing and peering in the window waiting in the blind love,
their leaves too have hope and are upturned top flat
to the sky to receive--all creation open to receive--the
flat earth itself.

The music descends, as does the tall bending
stalk of the heavy blossom, because it has to, to stay
alive, to continue to the last drop of joy.
The world knows the love that's in its breast as
in the flower, the suffering lonely world.
The Father is merciful.

The light socket is crudely attached to the ceil-
ing, after the house was built, to receive a plug which
sticks in it alright, and serves my phonograph now...

The closet door is open for me, where I left it,
since I left it open, it has graciously stayed open.
The kitchen has no door, the hole there will
admit me should I wish to enter the kitchen.
I remember when I first got laid, H.P. gra-
ciously took my cherry, I sat on the docks of Prov-
incetown, age 23, joyful, elevated in hope with the
Father, the door to the womb was open to admit me
if I wished to enter.

There are unused electricity plugs all over my
house if I ever needed them.
The kitchen window is open, to admit air...
The telephone--sad to relate--sits on the
floor--I haven't had the money to get it connected--

I want people to bow when they see me and say
he is gifted with poetry, he has seen the presence of
the Creator
And the Creator gave me a shot of his presence
to gratify my wish, so as not to cheat me of my yearning
for him.

Allen Ginsberg

15 March 2015

No Such Thing

The opening sequence to No Such Thing, a film by one of my favorite directors, Hal Hartley.  It stars Sarah Polley, Robert John Burke, Helen Mirren, and Julie Christie.

If you haven't seen it, well, I recommend it.  I recommend it even if you have seen it already.

It features one of the most cerebral, misanthropic monsters in any film.  He also speaks a lot of truth about the human condition even though he is far from human himself.  Let's just say he has has a lot of time to observe the ever changing world.

07 March 2015

Turkish Coffee Redux

I finally found a more authentic ibrik.  An Ibrik is the pot used to make turkish coffee.  The one I used previously worked but it was an enameled pot.  This one is copper on the outside and steel on the inside.  

I had to draw it before I got too jumpy.  The cup in the drawing is my second cup.

(crossposted on www.markbhillart.com/blog

01 March 2015


It is Sunday morning, the 1st day of March. I haven't checked the temperature but I don't have to to know it's cold.  I am sitting quietly sipping my first cup of coffee. Last night I thought about making a list of all the things I never want to hear about again.  You know, things like celebrity worship, Bruce Jenner, what whoever was wearing at the Oscars.  Then I thought, it's so easy to list all the things one hates.  This morning, instead, I am thinking about gratitude and all the things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my wife and boon companion, Valerie.  We have been together for ten years and it just keeps getting better.  We are each other's support system.  She is my best friend and the love of my life.

I am thankful that (at most times) I have my wits about me and my health.  I have command of all five senses.  My body complains a little more than it used to.  But I am 52 years old and I feel the healthiest I have ever been.

I am thankful my creative ability.  Drawing and writing keeps me sane.  Drawing is my meditation and my daily practice.  I can sit down at my table and start to draw or doodle and suddenly two, maybe three hours has gone by.

I am thankful for music.

I am thankful for old horror movies and Saturday morning cartoons.

I am thankful for my memories and past experiences, good or bad. You have things happen, you make a choice how they affect you.  I didn't see that for many years.

I am thankful for the ability to be still, quiet and enjoy solitude.

I am grateful, yes, for social media.  Yes, Facebook, I am glad you exist.  I would never feel so connected to other artists, like-minded people and old friends if it weren't for Mark Zuckerberg.  (This was the hardest one, seriously)  I have 699 Facebook friends and 85 percent (at least) are people I have never met.  And yet we are connected by our individual paths;  our love of art, music, the occasional political debate.

This is by no means a complete list.  It's only what I could think of in this short time.  Perhaps I will pursue this path in future posts.  Right now, though, I am going to have another cup of coffee.

Oh yeah, coffee, I am definitely grateful for coffee...

01 February 2015

Sunday Music-Phillip Glass Koyaanisqatsi

It is snowing here in Madison.  I am staying in all day if I can help it.  Luckily I have plenty of coffee and plenty of music to listen to.

28 January 2015

26 January 2015

Music Monday with Henri Texier

Happy Birthday (one day early) to Henri Texier!

Texier (born January 27, 1945) is a French jazz double bass player born in Paris. A self-taught jazz bassist, he is best known for his work in the 1960s with jazz trumpeter Don Cherry. In the 1980s, he was part of the Transatlantik Quartet, which featured Joe Lovano, Steve Swallow and Aldo Romano.

Varech, Texier's third solo outing, is the only CD I own at the time.  I definitely plan on buying more. It's great music to play while I am in the studio or reading.

Give it a listen.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

24 January 2015

I had to post this because it's cool on sooo many levels...

The Incomplete Book List

I am a voracious reader.  My brain gets restless when I can't read.  Recently, on my short bus commute to work, I have even started listening to audio books. It's not the same but it does help.

This morning I woke up and made a book list.  These books have left a lasting impression in some way or another, whether they influenced my thinking, inspired me, or the simple beauty of the writing itself.

With the exception of one or two authors, I have tried to limit the list to one author, one book.  However, usually when I find an author I like, I want to read everything else they have written.  So yes I have read more than one Ray Bradbury, and definitely more Kurt Vonnegut.

Anyway, here goes.  If there is a book or author you think I might like, leave it in the comments

  1. The Light Boxes-Shane Jones
  2. Choke-Chuck Palahniuk
  3. The Last Magician-Janette Turner Hospital
  4. The Dharma Bums-Jack Kerouac
  5. The Journal of Albion Moonlight-Kenneth Patchen
  6. Tropic of Cancer-Henry Miller
  7. Steppenwolf-Herman Hesse
  8. A Brief History of the Dead-Kevin Brockmeier
  9. Neverwhere-Neil Gaiman
  10. Doctor Sleep-Madison Smartt Bell
  11. One Hundred Years of Solitude-Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  12. Nausea-Jean-Paul Sartre
  13. Cat's Cradle-Kurt Vonnegut
  14. Trout Fishing in America-Richard Brautigan
  15. The Romantic-Barbara Gowdy
  16. Hallucinating Foucault-Patricia Duncker
  17. The Dogs of Babel-Carolyn Parkhurst
  18. The Boy Detective Fails-Joe Meno
  19. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting-Milan Kundera
  20. Motherless Brooklyn-Jonathan Lethem
  21. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay-Michael Chabon
  22. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell-Susanna Clarke
  23. Ghostwritten-David Mitchell
  24. The Black Book-Lawrence Durrell
  25. The Razor's Edge-M. Somerset Maugham
  26. Where I'm Calling From-Raymond Carver
  27. Collected Stories-Andre Dubus
  28. Galore-Michael Crummey
  29. Daniel Fights a Hurricane-Shane Jones
  30. A Fairly Good Time-Mavis Gallant

Let me know what you think...