Saturday, June 24, 2006

Fireflies Rising

As one goes out,
another lights:
hope emerging
from darkness.

Christopher T. George

I had a nice experience Wednesday evening walking across the Johns Hopkins University campus watching a myriad of fireflies rising from the darkness of ground cover near Levering Hall. I live by the campus and it would have been simple enough to walk straight to the Milton S. Eisenhower - Sheridan Library to return a bunch of books and renew my library card. But it was a hot and humid Chesapeake Bay evening and I had brought work home to meet a deadline. So I thought I would hop in my blue-black Saturn hatchback and zoom round to park below the library by the Merrick Barn of 1804 where Theatre Hopkins perform. See link through the title. I always like to park near the theatre as I appeared there in a nonspeaking role as tavern owner Peter Taltavul in a special performance of Chris Dickerson's "Booth" twenty four years ago with William Sanderson as John Wilkes Booth expounding before he shot Lincoln. A zip I thought. . .

Silly me. I didn't bargain with the major construction taking place in the southern sector of the Homewood Campus (what ARE they building? will Hopkins ever stop putting up more buildings???). I was turned away at the southern entrance by a security guard. I ended up parking on Wyman Park Drive by the Wyman Park Health Center, where my late father first received treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma thirty years ago. So I ended up walking as far if not further than I would have walked if I had walked from home!!!!

I renewed a couple of books, returned the others, and paid to renew my card for another year (don't know what I would do without the valuable resources of the Hopkins library, which have been essential to my different writing projects). Walked back up the steps and bought a strawberry iced latté to cool me in the hot walk back to my car along with a New York Times to read about the mess in Iraq.

Students were playing frisbee in the quadrangle (often students from the subcontinent are playing cricket there). The bell tower of Garland Hall chimed 9:00 P.M. (I received my M.L.A. diploma in the hall in 1977 and my grandfather and his second wife Olive were there for the occasion, as well as my parents).

Read a new historical marker next to Wyman quadrangle about the gift of 151.75 acres of the land on which the Homewood campus stands by William Wyman and cousin William Keyser to the university in 1902. Wyman had received the land from the Carroll family and he deeded the land to the University, enabling it to relocate from its original location on Howard Street in downtown Baltimore. He wanted the land to be a buffer against the city which was spreading northward. The campus does remain a buffer, though I wonder what Mr. Wyman would say about the university's burgeoning building program?

I pause in the humid dusk to watch fireflies rising. As one winks off another lights, and another and another. Some rest on the leafy ground cover, others rise and light.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Totally Ekphrastic

The Van Gogh Code

If you play the last conversation
between Van Gogh and Gauguin backwards,
you will cut off both your ears.

Ah, the conspiracy in those swirling
stars! Sunflowers full of mystery!

Now, touch the canvas, his thickly
applied primary colors! Feel
his pain, his life ooze.

Christopher T. George

Oh, I am feeling totally ekphrastic tonight at 3:00 a.m. as I bounce around in my Supp-hose in the kitchen drinking scotch and water and making banana sandwiches on wheat English muffins. Bread would be better for butties but since there appears to be no bread, I will have to settle for the English muffins.

Suicide Before Breakfast

Under a starry quilt, a cow
squats on a thimble; lovers
make their bed in yellow.

Van Gogh sips absinthe,
puzzles whether to cut off his ear
or make love to Gauguin.

He uses a knife to shlock the canvas,
the bloody paint shocks
with his pain: the stars

and sunflowers mesmerize.
Will it be suicide before breakfast
or happy-ever-after?

Christopher T. George

I had an email a couple of days ago from a producer in the U.K. who is producing a program on "Great British Brands" for Channel Four. They are going to be filming June 12-16 and wanted to do a piece in which they would speak to me about my poem, "Ahh, Bisto!"

The brands they are featuring are Bisto, Hovis, Kit Kat, Pimms, and Odeon. Unfortunately she had also gathered that I lived in the United States and when I asked if they would pay for me to fly over from the US of A for the filming thereof -- cheeky me -- she replied: "I'm afraid our minimal budget would not allow us to cover an expense of that size, we could just about manage a train from Surrey, but that wouldn't really help you!"

Ahhhh, Drat!

Ahh, Bisto!

Redbridge stands by the dock on a wooden crate
that proclaims, Ahh, Bisto! Use Bisto Gravy.
As a child, he’d dreamed of being a Bisto Kid
who’d convert the world to the wonders of Bisto.
His daughter Molly hands out pamphlets to all
who’ll accept one. He must get the Word out
before the midday sun burns the pedestrians
from the streets. Meanwhile, villagers hustle
to market, tidy away their Saturday chores.
He received the Word from the mouth of Jesus,
he honors the Lord’s Word, swishes it round
his tongue as he regales all who’ll listen,
to assure them how good the Word tastes:
an elixir for the world’s ills. He yells
parables to passersby. The fishermen mend
their nets; he’s a fisher of men. Ahh, Bisto!

Christopher T. George