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up my idiosyncrasies – Albertine‏

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            Wing Seller (2006)

               Stefan Caltia

 

                        _______ 

 
what are you doing, a friend of mine
asked when he called 
 
I’m reading my Proust, I answered,
comfy enough with my textafter 
years waking up side by side, to 
use the possessive adjective 
 
what’s going on, he inquired
 
Albertine is lying on his bed, 
recounted, asleep, she’s been there 
for the past ten pages, and she’s 
just now turned onto her stomach
 
 
there is not so much story as 
paintings, in Proustdetailed 
descriptions applied like strokes of 
colour to a canvas, that of recovered 
time, colours that are specific to a 
place and a period, like photographs 
showing in their very fabric their 
ancestry, their lineage
 
but in the elucidation of what he 
sees, or, more accurately, of what
he remembers, Proust delivers 
a work of the very highest art, a 
mixture of poetry and philosophy,
Beethoven did as much, see his
 
 
Proust’s French is essentially 
immaculate, his tone, however 
intimate, always erudite, aristocratic, 
perspicacious, wise, penetrating,
embracing, which is to say, French,
though German can be also
incidentally, pretty cerebral, English 
is narrative, just the facts, please, 
though often, I think, hilarious
 
 
Albertine had been one of the “young
girls in bloom” he’d met at Balbec, a 
seaside resort, with whom he’d 
undertaken an illicit affair, but 
whose faithfulness he doubted
 
as she lay on his bed at his Paris
apartmenthe replays all the 
speculations his imagination could 
provide, an endless set of variations
on his anguish, which is to say, his
jealousy, worthy of a very Othello
 
for ten pages he paints a picture of 
infidelities completely of his making,
which, of course, becomes the world 
he will respond to
 
it is all in our little heads, I surmise, 
however informed, intelligent, that 
we create our little realities, they 
have never been nearly enough, 
though, indeed, our lives depend 
on themhowever dutifully
considered, however unconsciously,
and ever convincingly, contrived   
 
make them, I submit, good ones
  
I imagine myself a poet, for instance,
how’s that for a shot in the improbable 
dark
 
 
Richard

up my idiosyncrasies – Marcel Proust‏

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    “Holy Man (1989)
 
       Eric Fischl
 
          ______
 
 
Marcel Proust is not an easy read, 
of literature it is surely its Everest,
not an easy climb, but from its peak
the world takes on an entirely other
order
 
an English-speaking friend has 
suggested he might try to read it 
again, but not in French this time,
I countered that that way he’d miss
the many crevices and crags, the
slippery slopes and lethal ledges, 
that give shape to the mountain, 
which the French grammar would
apply in all its intricate 
manifestations
 
part of the pleasure in reading 
Proust is the poetry, where style 
and substance coexist to create 
magic, and inspiration  
 
the sentences are long, they wind 
on for often pages, you need to be 
able to tell the subject from the verb
despite sometimes extended
intervening distances
 
but the grammar is sound throughout, 
except for in a couple of isolated
instances, grammar that would test
even a Frenchman
 
indeed Proust is where, I profess, I 
truly learned to speak French
 
there’s another mountain
 
 
the conceit is that someone rings 
the bell at their Combray cottage,
and after 3300 pages someone 
rings at the same door again
 
in between the years have passed,
they are the fruit of Proust’s 
“recherche”, search, investigation,
quest, a term that can’t be fully 
expressed as such in English, 
which doesn’t express the 
confluence of cold science and 
candle-lit spirituality expressed 
in the French word
 
in dissecting the very entrails of a 
flower, a tea cup, a crumpet, an eye, 
a brow, a lip, a gesture, a frown, a 
smile, a gait, Proust describes his 
own world, concocts it, minutely, 
meticulously, until you realize this 
can be only his perception, that 
therefore all of our interpretations 
are but our individual perceptions, 
our myriad unique worlds
 
from which one can begin to 
shape one’s own
 
later with Wittgenstein, the 
philosopher, this became known 
as phenomenology, the idea that 
we are confined for knowledge to 
our private views of the world,
wherein language plays, manifestly, 
a crucial part
 
in the beginning, if you’ll remember, 
was the word
 
curiously, in French, it is the verb, in
the beginning, implicitly suggesting 
a word of action 
 
 
Proust had been prescient as Freud
uncovering an inner world we’d always 
believed was outside us
 
at the top of his priorities Proust
chose art, personal expression,
it’s all that we can return to the 
world
 
and what else could be our purpose
 
 
Richard
 
psst: bonne lecture, Kurt

“Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” – Rachmaninov‏

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                                      Konstantin Somov
 
                                              _________
 
 
no one plays Rachmaninov better than
Rachmaninov, of which we’ve got aural
representations though no visual live
performances
 
but here’s a Rhapsody on a Theme of 
Paganini to knock your socks off, in 
all its kinetic, electrifying energy
 
you might remember Daniil Trifonov
from my coverage of the XVth 
who has gone on to achieve a 
stunning international reputation, 
entirely, I submit, deservedly
 
watch him set the piece on fire, at 
pace I find faster than most, with 
nevertheless all the requisite 
dexterity, indeed prestidigitation,  
necessary to weave the intricacies 
of Rachmaninovian sound into 
apposite magic, that magic 
Rachmaninov would surely ‘ve 
looked for
 
check them both out
 
 
Richard

up my idiosyncrasies – a bio

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      “Marcel Proust” 
 
       Richard Lindner
 
          ___________
 
 
for a bio with which I’ve been asked 
to provide an online poetry magazine 
I’ve been encouraged to apply to, I’m 
submitting the following text
 
I thought you might enjoy it
 
 
Richard
 
           ______________
 
 
my name is Richard Bisson, from
which you’ll intuit my French 
Canadian background, though I 
write mostly in English, with no 
trouble however in French, my 
mother tongue is le français  
 
I am thus imbued, undoubtedly,
with that sensibility, my peers 
have been HugoFlaubert, and
most of all Marcel Proust, whom 
I imbibed for 33 years, in French,
page by page, reading each out 
loud as though it were my own, I 
cannot but be replicating now his 
rhythms, his aesthetic, his view 
of the world
 
it didn’t take me as long to read 
Homer, in the thunderous Robert  
Fitzgerald translation, a mighty
roar resounding still from the 
ninth century before the Christian 
Era, from him I learned to speak 
from the heart, it’s not one’s style  
one has to master, but one’s 
humanity
 
Robert Browning gave me the 
dramatic monologue as a poetic
device, a gift he’d received from
 
Shakespeare himself, of course,
the unbridled freedom of his own 
literary imagination
 
Carl Sandburg‘s Chicago taught 
me to talk about everywo/man, 
about things even my own folks 
were doing
 
Collapsed showed me that even 
apparently inconsequential acts
can be poetry, poetry in the 
apparently humdrum 
 
Mary Oliver is a strong present 
influence
 
the cadence is entirely Beethoven,
with some help, I must admit, from 
the atonalists, SchoenbergBerg,
and Weberncommas are my bar 
lines
 
 
I call what I do prosetry, a word so 
new my computer won’t even let 
me write it, I’m a prosetrist, this 
word neither
 
I want to link everyday experience 
with poetry, make poetry in the eye 
of the beholder, where truth and 
beauty lie
 
if people can see what I see, they 
can see that way themselves, it’s 
something one learns, and it’s all 
in the way one entrenches words 
and ideas
 
I eliminated the word “if” from my 
vocabulary once, for being then
too speculative, it changed my life, 
I’ve replaced it since with the word 
“miracle”, that has also changed 
my life
 
I am 67 years old
 
I live in Vancouver, Canada
 
I consider myself to be, at this 
point in my life, bibliosexual, I
sleep with my books, and we’re
all still getting along just fine 
 
may you be so blessed
 
 
Richard
 
psst: also Anaïs Nin, for the 
          intimacy of her diaries
 
          o, and Woody Allen, for
          giving up before his  
          nihilism and just 
          laughing

on buying designer honey

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                Piero di Cosimo
 
                   ___________
 
 
it’s not every day that someone changes 
your outlook on, well, everything
 
I was at the supermarket, needed honey
for my recipe for carrot soup, with Brie
also, and nuts, an intriguing combination,
I’d thought
 
but I couldn’t place the honey in the 
umpteenth reorganization of the food
store
 
where’s the honey, I asked the clerk, 
who serendipitously was standing 
in front of me, this aisle or the one  
over, I added, not expecting anything 
more than cursory directions, and 
giving him thereby a feel for my 
attendant capabilities
 
but he took me, impressively, 
thought, the one aisle over to the 
honey spot, ahem
 
 
there was a modest selection there,
plastic honey bears, the white honey
you need to crank out of the jar, other 
honeys in less appealing packages,
several of the wild berry and grain
varieties
 
but I wanted the honey that melts in 
your mouth, instinctively, the one 
infused with clove, cardamom and 
cinnamon, the one that clings to 
your tongue lasciviously, leaving, 
with every lick of your lips, very bliss, 
though not, notably, at an especially 
conducive price
 
why not, you only live once, I’d 
devised already, despite the cost,
to validate my more cavalier 
expenses 
 
someone else was ogling, however,  
my honey, reaching for the larger of 
the two options, there was some
space, I reached up, into a kind of 
shopper’s no man’s land, how do  
you impinge on someone’s pending 
decision when you already know 
what you want, and not create 
confusion, if not distress
 
and he was bigger than me
 
looks good enough not to resist,
I said, you only live once, why not, 
rejoindered, falling back on my 
default position, my broken record, 
which sent nevertheless a strong 
existential message, I think
 
how can we know, he congenially 
replied, catching me up on my 
unexamined assertion, how do 
we know for sure we don’t have 
another, others
 
imagine that, I marvelled, I’ve never 
heard anyone else ever say that,
everyone ‘s always ceded, it’s 
something to profoundly, and 
inevitably have to, ponder
 
but not enough right now to not  
buy the honey, I added, however 
unphilosophically, though I’d think 
about it further for consequences, 
it could change everything, 
declared, my life, this life
 
and we waved each other goodbye 
from our present incarnations
 
 
Richard

Munich, the application‏

default

after a period of some indecision – 
the state of my health, an abysmally
low iron count that left me 
uncharacteristically unsteady, near
fainting, which I’d considered to be 
old age instead of something more
chemical, clinical, the distance to 
where we’d be going, time zones, 
jet lag, the difficulty of finding 
appropriate accommodations for 
the one month we’d be there, and 
at a reasonable price, none of which 
was a problem for my mother, 
incidentally, but which rattled only 
myself – it looks like the holiday 
we’ve envisioned will come to pass, 
my mom and I ‘ll be going to Munich 
for both the C***mas and the New 
Year’s holidays, with at least ten 
days on either end 
 
what clinched it was that not only
had my iron leaped from abysmal
to completely ordinary, though my 
thyroid is now acting up, you plug 
one hole, another one pops up, I 
told my doctor, one day the tide 
will roll in, inexorably, I proclaimed
 
showed up, we got for a song, 
something out of Hansel and Gretel, 
which, with the invaluable help of a 
dear friend in Germany, who was born 
in Munich, apparently we’ve managed
 
I am so happy for you, “Ich freue mich 
ja so sehr auf Euch, dass ich gerne helfe, 
damit der Traum wahr wird“, I’d be
happy to help make your dream come 
true, she said, like a very fairy 
godmother
 
we’re waiting on a response to our 
application
 
 
the house is of stone and wood, 
it has a wooden staircase along 
a wall of the living room going
up to a bedroom there under an 
attic roof, where the whole aerie 
is covered in red carpet, just, it 
would seem, what a poet ‘d be 
looking for, I think, take a look
 
downstairs has all the appliances
we’d want, including a wifi
connection, so I can write my stories 
about the art galleries and churches 
and operas and Bavarian dinners out 
we’ll delight in, the epiphanies we’ll 
cross in all that enchantment
 
a very fairy tale, I project, though for 
me it already is one, with me as 
Prince Charming, why not, and my 
mom as Queen of the Magical Realm,
why neither – your dream is what you 
make it
 
 
Richard
 
 
 

 

“Ebben? Ne andrò lontana” – Alfredo Catalani‏

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     “Diva II 
 
         Erte
 
       __
 
a fellow bloggerwho’s been inspiring
me with an array of diverse composers,
some obscure to me, others personally
transformational, unearthed a piece of 
music recently, on that composer’s
very birthday, that resounds in my 
spirit still, through, for me, its signal 
interpretationas though it were very 
yesterday
 
it was 1981, a French filmDiva“, had
taken the world by storm, precursor 
to Bladerunner“, the cultural 
phenomenon, made the following year 
 
like in Bladerunner“, the music was 
haunting
 
the antihero had stolen not only 
the dress of the sublime soprano  
he worshipped, but had also taped
surreptitiously one of her concerts,
something absolutely forbidden
 
corporations were avid to get a copy
of the tape, and the chase ensues 
throughout the streets of Paris, 
The French Connection“, but on 
Gallic drugs
 
the air is from Catalani‘s La Wally“,
a fraught opera, with the heroine 
eventually, and her beloved, dying,
separately however, in the same 
avalanche, which he’d set off by 
calling out, unaware of the sonic 
consequences, her name 
 
don’t ask
 
but at a moment of great despair, in 
those very treacherous mountains,
after her father has thrown her out 
of the house for wanting one of his 
very enemies, the wrong man, she
sings an air that will break your 
heart, Ebben? Ne andrò lontana“,  
 
sings it in the movie, you’ll 
quiver, thrill, at her clarity, her
purity, she’s a goddess, you’ll
see why Jules wanted her dress
 
but listen to Angela Gheorghiu,
as well, bring it up again a few 
years later, live in Prague, from 
her very Là fra la neve bianca“,  
There somewhere in the white 
snow“, I melted, after which I 
became burnt toast, if you’ll
pardon those clashing, however
forcefully compelling, metaphors  
 
nor would I ‘ve minded either her 
dress

 
Richard
 
psst: thanks, Kurt

me in the key of B major – my birthday‏

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Bad Boy” 
 
          Eric Fischl
 
                ______
   
                                le coeur a ses raisons que 
                                la raison ne connaît point
 
                                ( the heart has its own, 
                                 inscrutable to reason, 
                                 reasons)
 
                                                                 – Pascal
 
 
my birthday is coming up
 
long I held that I’d been premature, 
my birthday was not after the 
requisite number of months for a 
legitimate pregnancy, but I held to 
the private drama of my story rather
than ask my parents any questions, 
only later during adolescence did I 
find out from my sister that had 
not been premature
 
that I could have so misconstrued
astonished me at the time, how 
narrow could be one’s apparently 
infinite perspective, how confined 
and misdirected, a lesson never 
easily, however recurrent, learned,
see love
 
my father would never have forsaken
my mother, nor ever has, he was a 
principled man, a responsible man, 
a man who prized his honour, his 
friends’, his family’s
 
the men in his family were such, all
devoted husbands, though one, late
in life when the children were grown, 
left his wife for greener pastures, 
became a nudist, his wife used to 
change her clothes in the closet, 
he later on complained
 
as a corollary, he cultivated in his 
new environment many girlfriends, 
it appears, despite, by thenhis 
advanced age
 
about my aunts, however, my other 
uncle used to say that though he 
had five sisters, he had 17 
brothers-in-law, which isn’t counting 
the ones who hadn’t been husbands, 
I’d add
 
 
put some clothes on, Cid, my aunt
Doris, his sister, said, one morning 
when he was visiting, he was coming 
down the stairs to breakfast – they all 
then, three sons, Aurèle, or Aurelius, 
Cid, Alcide, and my dad, Conrad Hector, 
had the heroic names of Greek and 
Roman warriors, of even, some more 
distant uncles, Hebraic characters, 
Ephraïm, for instance, owing to our 
French, therefore Latin, background 
 
my aunts’ names werehowever,  
more prosaic, common
 
my aunt Doris, of the sisters, was, 
perhaps the most uncharacteristically, 
prim, though I suspect she didn’t 
change in a closet, but I would’ve 
never used even the word “penis” in 
front of her for fear of causing her 
alarm, though clearly she’d grown 
up among them
 
she is also the first aunt I confided
in about my controversial then 
situation, after, of course, having 
told my parents, they would know, 
I knew, I had therefore to be the 
first to tell them, but only once I’d 
found my own closet, my own 
home of my own
 
 
I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love,
I said to her over the phone
 
what’s her name, she asked
 
his name is John, I retorted
 
how wonderful, she replied, but, 
let me hand you over to your 
Aunt Anne, her sister, she said, 
while I pick myself up off the 
floor
 
my Aunt Anne was, as usual, only
love and compassion, though she 
never had any children she raised 
at least six, none her own, all of 
whom remained ever profoundly 
devoted   
 
 
to my other relatives, that information
was later on only implicit, and I was 
grateful to have found from them only 
ever love and acceptance, my own 
particularities were understood to be 
anyone’s, everyone’s, we all had our 
inclinations, what mattered was the 
bond
 
 
Richard

me in the key of B major – 60 Jubilee East (the master bedroom)‏

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            Eric Fischl 
 
                   ______
 
 
at the bottom of the stairs on the left,
there was my parents’ bedroom, the
master bedroom, an inner sanctum
where things of only great import 
took place, where behind its closed 
doors, my mom and dad would 
propose, concoct, discuss, ponder, 
deliberate, envision, enact, create 
the structure that would be the 
elements of our lives 
 
interestingly, no children were 
conceived there, we, my sister and 
I, had shown up earlier, and by then  
my parents had settled on only two 
children, were already blessed with 
the order they had preferred, an 
older boy, and a slightly younger 
girl, where more would’ve been 
financially impracticable
 
the Catholic Church disapproved 
of such practicality then, and my 
folks would’ve been refused 
communion had they ever been 
to church, but by then such 
observance had become irrelevant 
to them, despite their Christian still
trappings 
 
and their plans were to transcend 
rather the humble beginnings the 
Church would’ve confined them to, 
if not also the very mores of the day,
it was still only the mid Fifties, God 
would die in the early Sixties only,  
after which women would get the 
pill
 
and the world changed
 
 
there also had I been taken to heal, 
in the darkened room, when I had 
the measles, I remember waking  
up weary in someone’s arms, my 
mother’s, my father’s, to be paraded 
into the kitchen for a moment, then 
returned to the inner, recuperatory, 
chamber
 
also, for the talk, when my dad 
figured it was time to speak to 
me about guy things, girl things, 
birds, bees
 
I told him they were called penis,
and vagina, but he already knew 
nomenclature had nothing to do 
with it, that a rose by any other 
 
 
otherwise our chambers were 
private, each our place of private
recuperation, regeneration, 
contemplation, creativity, sleep, 
dreams, all of us respectful of 
each others’ inviolable space 
evereach with a room of our 
own
 
 
Richard  
 

 

 

 

me in the key of B major – 60 Jubilee East, the bathroom‏

Numériser 3
me, at 54 Jubilee East, by the woodpile
___________

réveillez-vous,
 les enfants, my mother
would call, wake up children, it’s time 
to get ready for school
 
we’d scuttle down the stairs from our 
the vent that crouched between the 
toilet and the wall that enclosed, at 
a ninety degree angle to the toilet, 
the tub 
 
the vent allowed hot air to come up 
from the oil furnace my dad ‘d only
recently put up in the basement, the
foundation for the house he would 
slide the old chicken coop from the 
back of the property onto, to build  
our new home
 
where the bathroom would be, there’d 
been a wood stove, we children would 
dress there, beside the hot oven, then,
while my mom got ready for work, the 
lady up front, in the only house that
had been there at the start of all this, 
54 Jubilee East, now rented from my 
folks, and took care of us while both 
my parents were working
 
I very vaguely remember this, but I 
remember well heading towards the 
heat, putting on my socks, 
underclothes, there, until the chill 
fell out of the morning
 
often my sister got there first, but I did
so also often, there was never any 
dissension, we were two consensual 
peas in a pod, each the other’s keeper
 
 
my mother had had to chop wood, she 
told me, and haul water, during the winter
my dad had gone north to work, up near 
James and Hudson Bays
 
she’d heat the water on the stove, there 
was no electricity, nor power tools, my 
aunt, her sister, had had to chop the 
wood cause my mother couldn’t 
manage, the axe ‘d bounce off the 
block she’d be trying to chop
 
my dad ‘d set up timber against our
meagre living quarters, what I’d later 
callsardonically, our manger, to 
supply my mom for the winter he’d 
be gone
 
my mother couldn’t’ve been more than 
twenty years old, then, her sister a few 
years younger, my own sister had barely 
been born, would’ve been not one 
 
this could explain why my mother cried 
 
I would’ve
 
 
Richard
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