Archive for September, 2008

Index of Posts for September 2008

September 30, 2008

Poet and critic Hayden Carruth dies at 87

September 30, 2008

Photo by Ted Rosenberg of Hayden Carruth from his obituary at the Washington Post. His page at the American Academy of Poets is here.

Prepare for Joe-Anne McLaughlin Carruth

“Why don’t you write me a poem that will prepare me for your
death?” you said.
It was a rare day here in our climate, bright and sunny. I didn’t feel like
dying that day.
I didn’t even want to think about it — my lovely knees and bold
shoulders broken open,
Crawling with maggots. Good Christ! I stood at the window and I saw
a strange dog
Running in the field with its nose down, sniffing the snow, zigging and
And whose dog is that? I asked myself. As if I didn’t know. The limbs
of the apple trees
Were lined with snow, making a bright calligraphy against the world,
messages to me
From an enigmatic source in an obscure language. Tell me, how shall I
decipher them?
And a jay slanted down to the feeder and looked at me behind my glass
and squawked.
Prepare, prepare. Fuck you, I said, come back tomorrow. And here he
is in this new gray and gloomy morning.
We’re back to our normal weather. Death in the air, the idea of death
settling around us like mist,
And I am thinking again in despair, in desperation, how will it happen?
Will you wake up
Some morning and find me lying stiff and cold beside you in our bed?
How atrocious!
Or will I fall asleep in the car, as I nearly did a couple of weeks ago,
and drive off the road
Into a tree? The possibilities are endless and not at all fascinating,
except that I can’t stop
Thinking about them, can’t stop envisioning that moment of hideous
Hideous and indescribable as well, because it won’t happen until it’s
over. But not for you
For you it will go on and on, thirty years or more, since that’s the
distance between us
In our ages. The loss will be a great chasm with no bridge across it
(for we both know
Our life together, so unexpected, is entirely loving and rare). Living
on your own —
Where will you go? what will you do? And the continuing sense of
From what we’ve had in this little house, our refuge on our green or
Hill. Life is not easy and you will be alive. Experience reduces itself to
platitudes always,
Including the one which says that I’ll be with you forever in your
memories and dreams.
I will. And also in hundreds of keepsakes, such as this scrap of a poem
you are reading now.

–from Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey: Poems 1991-1995, Copper Canyon Press.

The Cows at Night

(According Betty Smith-Mastaler in her tribute on Vermont Public Radio, Carruth told the audience at a reading in 2002 that this was as good a poem as he had ever written when he was in “his bucolic mood.”)

The moon was like a full cup tonight,
too heavy, and sank in the mist
soon after dark, leaving for light

faint stars and the silver leaves
of milkweed beside the road,
gleaming before my car.

Yet I like driving at night
in summer and in Vermont:
the brown road through the mist

of mountain-dark, among farms
so quiet, and the roadside willows
opening out where I saw

the cows. Always a shock
to remember them there, those
great breathings close in the dark.

I stopped, taking my flashlight
to the pasture fence. They turned
to me where they lay, sad

and beautiful faces in the dark,
and I counted them – forty
near and far in the pasture,

turning to me, sad and beautiful
like girls very long ago
who were innocent, and sad

because they were innocent,
and beautiful because they were
sad. I switched off my light.

But I did not want to go,
not yet, nor knew what to do
if I should stay, for how

in that great darkness could I explain
anything, anything at all.
I stood by the fence. And then

very gently it began to rain.


While most people know the story of poets turning down an invitation from Laura Bush because of their opposition to the war, Carruth turned down the Clintons in 1998, writing,

This is to acknowledge your invitation to attend a “Millennium Evening” at the White House in celebration of American poetry on April 22nd. Thank you for thinking of me. However, it would seem the greatest hypocrisy for an honest American poet to be present on such an occasion at the seat of the power which has not only neglected but abused the interests of poets and their readers continually, to say nothing of many other administratively dispensable segments of the population. Consequently, I must decline.

President Bush on the Economy: He’s no FDR

September 29, 2008

“Bailout Bonanza” by Nat Beeler in the September 26 Washington Examiner.

Given his behavior after 9-11, I cannot imagine Bush saying, as FDR did in his inaugural address on March4, 1933, that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. But look, too, at FDR’s rhetoric of concerning the financial sector in that speech:

Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment….Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men….This nation is asking for action, and action now….There must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments. There must be an end to speculation with other people’s money. And there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

Then look at President Bush’s speech this morning on the bail-out plan for the financial sector, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. He sought to assure Americans that there is nothing wrong with business as usual and that

over time, much — if not all — of the tax dollars we invest will be paid back.

I have learned to supect such promises from this administration. Remember when Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz testified before Congress on March 27, 2003 regarding Iraq,

There’s a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon….oil revenues of Iraq could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.

O v. McC: The Debate

September 28, 2008

The First Debate” which Nate Beeler says had to draw for the Sunday Washington Examiner before the debate even took place.

Obama’s September 26 debate with McCain reminded me of a therapy session, as moderator Jim Leher told the men to

talk to each other about it. We’ve got five minutes. We can negotiate a deal right here.

And then to Obama,

…Do you have something directly to say, Senator Obama, to Senator McCain about what he just said?

…Say it directly to him.

…Say it directly to him.

…I’m just determined to get you all to talk to each other. I’m going to try.

Robert Dreyfuss, who writes for The Nation, was not impressed with Obama, especially with regard to foreign policy, writing that

he utterly blew a chance to draw a stark contrast with John McCain on America’s approach to the world.

Paul Newman Gone to Cancer

September 27, 2008

His last screen role: Paul Newman, as the irascible reprobate Max Roby, in Empire Falls, a 2005 HBO movie based on Richard Russo’s novel (Photo by Demmie Todd)

Photo of Newman as the Irish gangster John Rooney in Road to Perdition (2002), based on the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner.

Newman on the poster for Sometimes a Great Notion (1971), which he directed, based on Ken Kesey’s novel.

Amidst concerns about his failing health, Vanity Fair published actress and biographer Patricia Boswoth’s “The Newman Chronicles” in its September issue, lauding the achievements of his life beyond mere stardom.

UPDATE: Victor Navasky writes on October 1, for the October 20, 2008 issue of The Nation, of approaching Newman for financial help for the magazine…

It all started in 1994, when Arthur Carter, who for eight years had subsidized and published The Nation, which was losing about $500,000 a year, turned the magazine over to me.

Since I didn’t have $500,000 to lose–that year or any other year–I came up with a four-year plan. My idea was to find three shareholders who would put up $1 million each. That way we would have enough money to cover our losses, pay Carter off and invest in our future until the magic moment of self-sufficiency arrived (or so we hoped).

I called my friend E.L. Doctorow, who was also a friend of The Nation and, perhaps most important, a friend, or at least an acquaintance, of Paul Newman, who had returned from World War II to Kenyon College as a senior when Doctorow was a freshman. Could he arrange a meeting?

Two and a half months later, I found myself at dinner at a small Italian restaurant in the East Eighties with Doctorow, Newman and Joanne Woodward. Normally, I would have been thrilled to have dinner with Newman and Woodward, but my fundraising experience told me that when a “mark” (in the spirit of The Sting, let’s think of Newman as a mark here) brings his wife along, all too often no funds get raised. So, much as I admired Woodward, I worried about her presence.

Dinner began with Newman and Doctorow reminiscing about Kenyon. Doctorow reminded Newman that he had been a patron of the small laundry business Newman had started in competition with the college. He had made a deal with a local laundry that he’d collect student laundry and get paid. So he opened a store in opposition to the campus laundry. Then he got the bright idea of putting a keg of beer in the store window; any student who came in with laundry got a free beer. College authorities began to wonder why their laundry business was going down. When they found out, that was the end of Newman’s promising career in laundry–but not, as his all-natural food company, Newman’s Own, was later to make clear, his entrepreneurial instincts.

Then Newman turned to me and said, “So, Professor, what’s the damage? What can I do for you?”

When I told him what I had in mind, he said, “That’s very rich.”

At which point Woodward piped up and observed, “You’re very rich.”

“So are you,” said Newman.

“Not as rich as you, dear.”

I shouldn’t have worried.

Tell No One

September 26, 2008

Volunteering at the Lyric tonight, where I am looking forward to seeing, Tell No One,” a 2006 French film directed by Guillaume Canet, based on a novel by Harlan Coben, a writer of thrillers whose work I admire.

Dodge Poetry Festival Attracts

September 25, 2008

Poster for the 12th biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival

Wish I was in New Jersey! September 25-8, $78 will get you and 19,999 others into Waterloo Village in Stanhope, New Jersey to hear readings by:

  1. Janet E. Aalfs (whom I met at Split This Rock)
  2. Joy Harjo
  3. Brenda Shaughnessy
  4. Chris Abani
  5. Ken Hart
  6. Vivian Shipley
  7. Debra Allbery
  8. Robert Hass
  9. Evie Shockley
  10. Simon Armitage
  11. Brenda Hillman
  12. Charles Simic
  13. Renée Ashley
  14. Edward Hirsch
  15. Patricia Smith
  16. Coleman Barks
  17. Jane Hirshfield
  18. Tracy K. Smith
  19. Jan Beatty
  20. Susan Jackson
  21. Lisa Starr
  22. Coral Bracho
  23. Charles H. Johnson
  24. Madeline Tiger
  25. Lucille Clifton
  26. Ted Kooser
  27. J. C. Todd
  28. Peter Cole
  29. Maxine Kumin
  30. Skye Van Saun
  31. Billy Collins
  32. Joseph O. Legaspi
  33. Paul Violi
  34. Mark Doty
  35. Betty Bonham Lies
  36. Peter Waldor
  37. Thomas Sayers Ellis
  38. Jeffrey McDaniel
  39. BJ Ward
  40. Martín Espada
  41. Naomi Shihab Nye
  42. Luke Warm Water
  43. Beth Ann Fennelly
  44. Sharon Olds
  45. Joe Weil
  46. Sarah Gambito
  47. Linda Pastan
  48. C. D. Wright
  49. Forrest Gander
  50. Patrick Phillips
  51. Franz Wright
  52. Aracelis Girmay
  53. Robin Robertson
  54. Kevin Young
  55. Patricia Goodrich
  56. Steve Sanfield
  57. Nina Israel Zucker
  58. Kate Greenstreet
  59. Roger Sedarat
  60. Luray Gross
  61. Ravi Shankar

Gore calls for Civil Disobedience while Bush Supends Posse

September 24, 2008

Al Gore today at the Clinton Global Initiative:

I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and

Meanwhile, Radley Balko, a senior editor of the libertarian Reason Magazine alerted readers today in a blog post to an item in the Army Times, “Posse Comiwhatus?” By staff writer Gina Cavallaro, the editors benignly titled it “Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1: 3rd Infantry’s 1st BCT trains for a new dwell-time mission. Helping ‘people at home’ may become a permanent part of the active Army.

Of course, Army Times was reporting the actual deployment. A previous April 2008 piece in Stars in Stripes provided the outlines of upcoming plans.

It once was the case that Republicans used the term “martial law” metaphorically to refer to the de-democratization of the legislative process. But the Defense Authorization Act of 2006, passed on Sept. 30, gave Bush literal martial law powers, as noted in Congressional Quarterly. The American Conservative questioned such power in April 2007 . And back on August 8, 2005, WaPo staff writer Bradley Graham wrote a front page story, ” War Plans Drafted To Counter Terror Attacks in U.S.: Domestic Effort Is Big Shift for Military. The military officials quoted in the article didn’t seem to envision the type of deployment we are now reading about.

The war plans represent a historic shift for the Pentagon, which has been reluctant to become involved in domestic operations and is legally constrained from engaging in law enforcement. Indeed, defense officials continue to stress that they intend for the troops to play largely a supporting role in homeland emergencies, bolstering police, firefighters and other civilian response groups.

For background, see the former a FEMA director’s opinion that the Posse Comitatus rule allows the President and Congress to order the military to police domestically. Contrast this with an article from llrx on the historic interpretation of the Act. You can find another article at which questions what’s going on.

Lissa Schneckenburger House Concert at Mark’s

September 23, 2008

Photo from Lissa’s website.

Looking forward to Green Drinks tomorrow at Mark’s an a house concert by Vermonters Lissa Schneckenburger(email) on fiddle and vocals, Corey Dimario on double bass and Owen Marshall on guitar.

Photo of Corey Dimario from Lissa’s website.

Photo of Owen Marshall from his MySpace Page.

Mother Jones reports on McCain staff ties to financial lobbyists

September 22, 2008

At a Town Hall in Green Bay, WI September 18, according to the WaPo,

McCain accused Sen. Barack Obama of “cheerleading” the gloomy financial news, urged the ouster of the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and said that Obama’s running mate believes raising taxes is “patriotic.”

But while McCain excoriates the financial industry, it’s interesting to remember that he started touting ethics after being involved with the Keating scandal and that that his chief financial guru was for so long former Senator Phil Gramm who helped deregulated the industry.

Now, the Democratic National Committee, using publicly available records, has identified 177 lobbyists working for the McCain campaign as either aides, policy advisers, or fundraisers. And in a post on September 19, Mother Jones named 83 of the 177 lobbyists,

have in recent years lobbied for the financial industry McCain now attacks.