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Category: finding miracles

Nobuyuki Tsujii / Chopin

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     “The Old Blind Guitarist (1903) 

               Pablo Picasso

                      ________

to watch Nobuyuki Tsujii play the 
piano, a piano he cannot see, nor
anything else around him, not 
even his fingers, is a wonder, 
one beholds the work of the 
imagination taking place inside 
tenebrous, one would’ve 
supposed, cerebellum, a place 
without height, depth, width, 
without the idea, even, of, verily, 
spatial dimensions

not only has he had to imagine 
Chopin’s extraordinary, admit it, 
First Piano Concerto therehe’s  
had to imagine himself playing  
it, playing it before even 
international audiences – here
the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition, 
in which he tied for first place – 
despite surely profound physical, 
moral, emotional impediments, 
mountains most, I’m sure, 
couldn’t climb

it is to see the face of an angel
think, to watch him, only angels,
I believe, can do this sort of thing

watch, be inspired

and the Chopin is terrific

R ! chard

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“The Man I Love” – George and Ira Gershwin

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             Apollon” (1937) 

             Charles Despiau

                    _______

when my heart is broken, I learn the 
words to torch songs, and wallow in 
my misery until the poignancy of the
poetry seduces me and I revel in its 
caress

for a while now I’ve been yodelling 
along with Hank Williams, who, 
incidentally, sings in my key, though 
the accurate reach of his far-flung 
notes can be tricky

but today, I inadvertently slipped into 
this Sophie Tucker classic enough to 
change my tune

watch this wonderful rendition of 
The Man I Love in a version you’ll 
never forget for both its originality
and its great humanity

Richard

“Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave”

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                        Hank Williams

                              _______

halfway through The Last Picture Show
recently, a celebrated movie from the early 
Seventies I was watching, about the early
Fifties, I was sidetracked by the Hank  
Williams soundtrack till I was out and out 
stopped by its fervent Cold, Cold Heart 

I put the film on pause 

another love before my time, I warbled,
made your heart sad and blue, and so 
my heart is paying now, I wallowed, for 
things didn’t do, in anger unkind words
were said, I rued, that made the teardrops 
start, why can’t I free, your doubtful mind, 
I fretted, and melt your cold, cold heart 

but I wanted to hear Hank Williams do
it too, live if I could, and lo and behold 
got it

but listed as an option among other 
options nearby was also a longer  
feature purporting to be a 
representation of a concert he 
never  gave the night, December 31, 
1952, he died, the movie is called,
not inappropriately, Hank Williams:
The Show He Never Gave

the actor who plays Williams steps
right into his shoes, he’ll break your 
heart, you’ll need a lot of Kleenex

one of he best film biographies I’ve 
ever seen 

watch it

Hank Williams died of a heart attack
on the night of December 31, 1952

he was 29

may he rest in everlasting peace

Richard

in recognition of Prince

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Ladies In The Rain (1893-1894) 
 
         Maurice Prendergast
 
                _____________
 
 
trying to find a musical representation

of me for a love recently lost, but with
whom the interaction is nevertheless
cordial, for a letter I was writing him,

cordially, and which I would sign me,

I hit upon Prince’s Purple Rain“, I never  
meant to cause you any trouble, never 
meant to cause you any pain, perfect, I 
thought, I only want to see you laughing 
in the purple rain
 
how else can one love
 
I remembered that Prince was a hero, 
an angel, a prophet, an epiphany of the 
late Twentieth Century, some voices are
indelible, incandescent, illuminating,
avatars of love
 
 
note the pace of Pink Floyd, the 
hypnotic, messianic even, tempo,  
note the elements of the prophet
 
 
 
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 every wo/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 either
 
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

“Casta diva” – Vincenzo Bellini‏

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         “Fire, Full Moon (1933)
 
          Paul Klee
 
          ______
 
 

a few nights ago the moon was full,
I’d gone up to the roof, one floor up
from my apartment, to the deck there,
complete with pool, barbecue area,
lounge chairs, there was no one, just
me, it was one o’clock in the morning,
my witching hour

I’ve been going there, lately, the air 
is fresh, crisp, it’s quiet, I can relax
there after a day of whatever
 
a perfect chair looks out onto the 
entire city, the bay in the distance, 
the harboured ships, Vancouver 
Island even further during the day
 
I looked at the moon, it stared 
nakedly back at me like a spotlight, 
but clouds got in the way, bubbling,
boiling peremptorily westwards 
before her, clouds on a mission
 
she monitored their march 
imperviously, imperially, implacably,
like a goddess
 
I slunk beneath her gaze, stretched, 
surrendered, slipped into lunar 
things, love, loves, truth, beauty,
purpose, meaning, memories
 
through much of it, I closed my eyes,
aware always she was watching me,
but wrapped in my own transcendental 
reveries
 
when I returned, I stretched again, 
listened for the words, the notes, 
of “Casta diva”, Bellini‘s anthem 
to the moon
 
Norma is a Druid princess, she is
the priestess of the moon, near the
beginning of the opera she makes 
her pitch, it’s her introduction, her 
first aria, a cavatina, well done it is 
unforgettable
 
chaste goddess, she sings, casta 
diva, who casts silver light upon 
these sacred trees, turn thy lovely 
face upon us, unclouded and 
unveiled
 
restrain, o goddess, these zealous 
spirits, I prayed, shed upon earth 
that peace that reigns in heaven 
 
but I couldn’t get the notes right, 
kept slipping into other arias,
though I brought to it my entire
attention, I was, only modestly, 
therefore, there, Norma, also only
softly
 
later I found signature 
performances on the Internet,
Joan Sutherland, a classic, 
Renée Fleming in a superb 
concert performance
 
shed upon earth that peace that 
reigns in heaven, they also cry
pray
 
 
Richard
 
psst: a cavatina is a short aria
 
 
 

“Easter Oratorio”, BWV 249 – Johann Sebastian Bach‏

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                                    El Greco
 
                                      ______
 
 
                        for Martha and Chris, who still go to Easter 
                        Mass, and whom Martha calls therefore  
                        relics 
 
                        and for Staf and Annemie, who live in 
                        presently beleaguered Belgium, and 
                        who must, at this time of distress, 
                        need our prayers
 
 
having long ago lost track of the Christian
calendar, I only this week found out 
Sunday ‘d be Easter, therefore Friday
Good Friday, not that this would much 
change my daily routine, but it set me 
perusing pertinent art, I knew I could 
count on Bach for an oratorio, and sure 
enough I found it
 
an oratorio, as I earlier explained, is an
opera without sets or costumes, usually
associated with religious services, but 
Bach had one for every Sunday and 
every Christian feast day
 
after an instrumental introduction, 
reminiscent of Handel, I thought, 
Bach’s “Easter Oratorio” slips into a
lovely adagio, notable for its exquisite
oboe obligato, where the innocence 
and purity of that wind defines the 
movement
 
the ceremonial pomp of the earlier 
section then returns to include 
chorus expressing triumph, the 
realization that the Lamb of God 
has returned
 
but soon enough, Mary, the soprano 
of a quartet of singers, each of the 
four singing according to their own – 
alto, Mary Magdalene, tenor, Simon 
Peter, bass, John the Evangelist  
voices, and accompanied by an 
utterly transcendental transverse 
flute, sings 
 
      “My soul, the spice that embalms 
       you shall no longer be myrrh. Only
       a crown of laurels can soothe your 
       anxious longing.”  
 
and knocks your socks off 
 
 
this week at market, stuffing my 
organic red pepper and a bag of 
handcrafted chips, barbecued,
designer, into my bagat their 
express counter, collecting my 
coins, my receipt, my change 
purse, my wallet, and last but not 
least, of course, my self, I sensed 
something of mine drop, looked 
dutifully aroundcould find 
nothing, wondered, and made to 
go
 
excuse me, sir, I heard behind me, 
you dropped something
 
a little boy, an urchin, blond hair, 
blue eyes, right out of Charles 
Dickens, I thought, eight maybe,
nine, held out a quarter, apparently 
mine
 
why thank you, I replied, enchanted
 
and you know what, I asked, I’m 
going to give this back to you, and 
put the quarter back into his hand
 
the last time I did something like 
that, I saw an angel, I remembered
but that’s another story
 
thank you, he said back, gleaming
with the maturity of his interaction, 
though I’m not sure he wasn’t 
himself in fact also a very angel
 
 
later I thought I should’ve sent him 
for a crème brûlée, a piece of carrot 
cake, a pastry, or something, and 
berated myself for the paucity of 
my recompense
 
 
but there is a link to Easter in my 
tale, the idea of hope, revival, 
regeneration, in the possibility of
goodness reentering the world, a
task inherited by the children, and 
whom we must not lead astray
 
apart from its more traditional 
associations, for perhaps the less 
observant, people of other creeds 
and faiths, if Easter means anything 
still, or has ever, it is about just that, 
hope, revival, regeneration, nor must 
we ourselves betray those ideals   
 
happy Easter 
 
 
Richard