O, you know, this champagne is only for outward show, the moment it touches my lips it turns to water.
At the end of a dark corridor
There is a lit match in a trembling hand
“I still have stage fright,”
The beautiful woman says,
And then she leads us past wardrobes
With mirrors and creaking doors
Where whispering dresses hang,
Whispering corsets, button shoes –
The kind you’d wear while riding a goat.
What is left of all of it?
Blind hoboes sell American flags
And bad poems of patriotism
On Saturday evenings forever in the rain,
Between the cathouses and the slag heaps
And the river, down home.
Oh Jesus Christ, the Czechoslovakians
Are drunk again, clambering
Down the sand-pitted walls
Of the grave.
Despite the perpetual rain, the sordid merchants, and the Homeric vulgarity of its carriage drivers, she would always remember Paris as the most beautiful city in the world, not because of what it was or was not in reality, but because it was linked to the memory of her happiest years.
The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.
The dark wheat listens.
There they are, the moon’s young, trying
Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow
Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone
Wholly, into the air.
I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe
The wheat leans back toward its own darkness,
And I lean toward mine
Despite all my Sunday learning
Towards the bad I kept on turning
Till Mama couldn’t hold me anymore…
On January 1, 1958, Johnny Cash played his first ever prison concert, at San Quentin State Prison in California. In the audience for that show was a 20-year old on a 2-year stint for burglary, his 4th incarceration since the age of 11, and a stint that began with a daring escape (and eventual recapture), as well as his administration of a gambling racket and an in-prison beer-brewing venture .
A few years earlier, that 20-year old had gone to see Lefty Frizzell in concert, finagled his way backstage, and sang for Lefty in such a way that the country music icon refused to perform without allowing that teenage ex-and-future-convict to sing a few songs.
In the end, however, it was a stint in solitary confinement that inspired that 20-year old to pursue a new life, one which produced 38 #1 hits, helped steward one of the state of California’s greatest cultural-musical products, and became the inspiration for an Oscar-winning film.
Yet none of this matters in the shadow of Merle Haggard’s voice, which even today, on the date of his passing, is still perhaps the greatest in country music history.
They crossed before the sun and vanished one by one and reappeared again and they were black in the sun and they rode out of that vanished sea like burnt phantoms with the legs of the animals kicking up the spume that was not real and they were lost in the sun and lost in the lake and they shimmered and slurred together and separated again and they augmented by planes in lurid avatars and began to coalesce and there began to appear above them in the dawn-broached sky a hellish likeness of their ranks riding huge and inverted and the horses’ legs incredibly elongate trampling down the high thin cirrus and the howling antiwarriors pendant from their mounts immense and chimeric and the high wild cries carrying that flat and barren pan like the cries of souls broke through some misweave in the weft of things into the world below.
Miss Rossignol lived in the lazaretto
For Roman Catholic crones; she had white skin,
And underneath it, fine, old-fashioned bones;
Shew flew like bats to vespers every twilight,
The living Magdalen of Donatello;
And tipsy as a bottle when she stalked
On stilted legs to fetch the morning milk,
In a black shawl harnessed by rusty brooches.
My mother warned us how that flesh knew silk
Coursing a green estate in gilded coaches.
While Miss Rossignol, in the cathedral loft,
Sang to her one dead child, a tattered saint
Whose pride had paupered beauty to this witch
Who was so fine once, whose hands were so soft.
In my old age, I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among the trees.
…from The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey, a debut novel, a magnificent story, a beautiful little crystal of a book and enough evidence for me to bet that as a kid Miss Ivey read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe twice, upset that C.S. Lewis didn’t really know snow.
I’ve often remarked that music to the United States is as wine is to France. It’s one of those never-ending stories.
…T-Bone Burnett, a man whose musical consciousness is unfathomable, who is among America’s greatest cultural forces in the last half century, describing American Epic to Rolling Stone, and making me so excited it hurts.
To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.
The silence of the next few days must have been louder than the sound of all the music ever played since time began.
All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it. And even then, on the rare occasions when something opens within, and the music enters, what we mainly hear, or hear corroborated, are personal, private, vanishing evocations. But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air. What is evoked in him, then, is of another order, more terrible because it has no words, and triumphant, too, for that same reason. And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours.
The kingdom is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing. He who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses it.
The world is a sacred instrument
One cannot control it
The one who controls it will fail
The one who grasps it will lose
People are mysterious entities-
try to take hold of them and you will only lose them.
Thus, sometimes it is better to show the way,
and sometimes it is better to follow.
…three translations from Chapter 29 of the Dao De Jing, which was written a few years back.
That night they rode through a region electric and wild where strange shapes of soft blue fire ran over the metal of the horses’ trappings and the wagonwheels rolled in hoops of fire and little shapes of pale blue light came to perch in the ears of the horses and in the beards of the men. All night sheetlightning quaked sourceless to the west beyond the midnight thunderheads, making a bluish day of the distant desert, the mountains on the sudden skyline stark and black and livid like a land of some other order out there whose true geology was not stone but fear. The thunder moved up from the southwest and lightning lit the desert all about them, blue and barren, great clanging reaches ordered out of the absolute night like some demon kingdom summoned up or changeling land that come the day would leave them neither trace nor smoke nor ruin more than any troubling dream.
Hurley’s population is estimated a bit above 3,000. On game nights, it can feel as if all of them are at The Cliff, a one-of-a-kind stadium where Smiley Ratliff Field is blasted out of rock. Behind one end zone, and behind most of one sideline, is sheer stone. You can get a stiff neck peering up to the tree-topped summit.
This is a good article. A good, accurate, respectful, aware and thoughtful piece of journalism. It involves Appalachia, coal miners, blacks with confederate flag tattoos and high schools with the same painted on their doors, and it’s decent. Not click-bait. Just right and accurate and true. It doesn’t point fingers, doesn’t moralize, doesn’t try to polarize the world or poke fun or turn anyone into a villain.
Amazing. I’m utterly shocked.
Lying is universal – we all do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others’ advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling.
The book was in her lap; she had read no further. The power to change one’s life comes from a paragraph, a lone remark. The lines that penetrate us are slender, like the flukes that live in river water and enter the bodies of swimmers. She was excited, filled with strength. The polished sentences had arrived, it seemed, like so many other things, at just the right time. How can we imagine what our lives should be without the illumination of the lives of others?
Uncle Pumblechook: a large hard-breathing middle-aged slow man, with a mouth like a fish, dull staring eyes, and sandy hair standing upright on his head, so that he looked as if he had just been all but choked, and had that moment come to.
People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands – literally thousands – of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss.
Love’s pure free joy when it works, but when it goes bad you pay for the good hours at loan-shark prices.
He was doing quite well until the last sentence, but if you bare your arse to a vengeful unicorn, the number of possible outcomes dwindles to one.