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Everybody’s Working for the Weekend

I Prologue

To some of us, this land is still a land of Saturdays

and I am making my way
as best as I can,
just like the rest, all across the fields
all amber and vermouth,
slyly smiling, tired and retiring for the day,
under a windswept sky.

It’s an end to party-hopping, a farewell to great huzzahs,
you can hear the torrent slowly fade
to chattering, the chips grown stale and old,
becomes a mumble as the rubber of your soles sticks on the floor,
down to a whisper, the creak and hard knock of a door closing then shut.

There is the voiceless tap and shuffle, followed by the sounds
that still remain: the sharp and sudden pop of bone and sinew
as we toss and turn, trying to settle down. What a Saturday.
What a lovely shuffle, ending an aimless carefree day.

Through my window at night come the lights and sounds
of quiet city streets. Amber vermouth slow fades to blue
as the night ends and I sleep until another lovely Saturday
begins.

II Passage

You miss it, moment by moment.
Like a background hiss on a tape of a tape
or a tape of a tape of a tape.
You can’t see it, whipping your line of sight

quick to one side, trying to catch
the faintest glimpse of the back
of your head.

That’s when your glasses go flying.

Green to blue to violet.
This is how our Saturdays became Sundays.
The watch that I was wearing lost five seconds every hour.
All our clocks, as it turns out, slowed two minutes every day.
That is how our Saturday became, one day, Sunday.

III

I never minded the smell of death in there.
It’s not that I can’t care, but I won’t.
I understood from the first that Wilbur had to die for my ham sandwich.

A red and black and blue of downcast eyes and misspent youth
has come at last to stake his claim;
down here it’s our time.
It’s our time down here.

Our Saturday is Sunday now. Our Saturday is why it’s Sunday now.
The green and black were violet inside. They built the blue and red.
It’s Sunday now, so put the bottle down.
This is a war; a war you have to be sober to win.

The sense of violation [is not the smell of death]

(and there is a sense of violation)
is the disjoint, fracture,
a total lack of order

It’s that I can’t stop them taking my children’s toys and their children’s
clothes away. And I can’t understand this. And I can understand everything.

Today’s the day we finally used up all our Saturdays.

My birthday is November 2. It’s also St Crispin’s day.

ARTIST: Dar Williams
TITLE: The Christians and the Pagans
(from Gunther Anderson)

Amber called her uncle, said “We’re up here for the holiday
Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay”
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three
He told his niece, “It’s Christmas eve, I know our life is not your style”
She said, “Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and it’s been awhile”

/ G C Am D / / Em C Am D / / G C Am D / /

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses

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There’s a certain Slant of light
by Emily Dickinson

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons —
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes —

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us —
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are —

None may teach it — Any —
’Tis the Seal Despair —
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air —

When it comes, the Landscape listens —
Shadows — hold their breath —
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death —

I have a 102.5 fever, so I missed yesterday’s post. Here it is!

In the Bleak Midwinter
by Christina Rosetti

(from hymns and carols of Christmas)

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

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A Winter Wish
By Robert Hinckley Messinger
(from bartleby.com)

OLD wine to drink!
Ay, give the slippery juice
That drippeth from the grape thrown loose
Within the tun;
Plucked from beneath the cliff 5
Of sunny-sided Teneriffe,
And ripened ’neath the blink
Of India’s sun!
Peat whiskey hot,
Tempered with well-boiled water! 10
These make the long night shorter,—
Forgetting not
Good stout old English porter.
Old wood to burn!
Ay, bring the hill-side beech 15
From where the owlets meet and screech,
And ravens croak;
The crackling pine, and cedar sweet;
Bring too a clump of fragrant peat,
Dug ’neath the fern; 20
The knotted oak,
A fagot too, perhap,
Whose bright flame, dancing, winking,
Shall light us at our drinking;
While the oozing sap 25
Shall make sweet music to our thinking.
Old books to read!
Ay, bring those nodes of wit,
The brazen-clasped, the vellum writ,
Time-honored tomes! 30
The same my sire scanned before,
The same my grandsire thumbed o’er,
The same his sire from college bore,
The well-earned meed
Of Oxford’s domes: 35
Old Homer blind,
Old Horace, rake Anacreon, by
Old Tully, Plautus, Terence lie;
Mort Arthur’s olden minstrelsie,
Quaint Burton, quainter Spenser, ay! 40
And Gervase Markham’s venerie—
Nor leave behind
The holye Book by which we live and die.
Old friends to talk!
Ay, bring those chosen few, 45
The wise, the courtly, and the true,
So rarely found;
Him for my wine, him for my stud,
Him for my easel, distich, bud
In mountain walk! 50
Bring Walter good,
With soulful Fred, and learned Will,
And thee, my alter ego (dearer still
For every mood).
These add a bouquet to my wine! 55
These add a sparkle to my pine!
If these I tine,
Can books, or fire, or wine be good?

A long and wonderful day. Got the tree, got some lights up. More tomorrow.

To Violet, on the first week of Advent

I
While you sleep, at long last, in what is hopefully a warm room,
the searchlight of a roving mind swings around, time after time.
In the car
on the way home
your mom and I make up a Death Cab for Cutie song:
“Another cold night in Cleveland
in my brown corduroy jacket
I drove alone”
And this is that through which we move, my love.
A mountain range, a peak of which we each are fast approaching,
and as Poincaré before me, I fire light across the distance,
trying to tell you the time.
.
II
1999. Two-by-fours in the barn, ready to go,
I sat with a piece of scratch paper, trying to figure this out:
A regular pentagon contains a rectangle and a triangle;
three-sixty plus one-eighty is … five-forty, which means…
and I couldn’t figure it out then; a little bit of shame in front of my grandfather.
Now, though, a better version of me:
five-forty divided by five is one-oh-eight,
and so each of the five exterior triangles is isosceles
and the paired angles then have angles of…
one-eighty minus one-oh-eight is seventy-two
(which divided by two is thirty-six) and there are
five pairs of those angles, which means that
those angles take up five times seventy-two
is three-sixty degrees of the total interior, which
means the total amount in the points is five-forty
minus that three-sixty,
which is one-eighty,
which you divide by five,
so that each point in a regular star
should have thirty-six degrees.
.

III

Lay me in a bed with amber glow filling the room,
and place the sound of fun outside, ready to start playing
at the moment I am to awake, so that I can lie there
and bathe in vicarious jubilation.
Place me in the back-right of a blue Ram van, driven by
my father, and let us stop at Great Bend or Clarks Summit.
Let me know when we see “Deer Crossing” signs,
so I can count down from ten.
Put me back again in the passenger seat,
with my head in my hands, not yet on paper half the man
I couldn’t quite convince myself to convince them
I would come out to be.
Sit me in the dark, illuminated by punctual flashes,
with you on my lap, and your mother’s warmth behind us,
and the lights of the tree. We bathed in our own jubilation
and you in the middle of us all.
So this one I just wrote. Happy Advent!