haiku for the day: late night driving

Driving Midnight Blues 

Midnight driving my car 
hums alone through this city 
dotted with lakes, 
the road ahead an ocean 
of night my headlights part. 
The saxophone on the radio 
wails into the darkness 
enveloping me, ghostly wanderer, 
up and down the four-lanes 
as these midnight blues drive 
through the hot Florida night. 

I used to drive late at night a lot. I’d get into my car at around midnight and start driving. I didn’t have a destination. I just drove for two, sometimes three hours. I turned on the radio and let the music flow through me like some river. When I returned home, I crawled into bed and slept soundly. There was something soothing, refreshing about those drives. I don’t do that much anymore. 

songs on the radio
a well lit late night drive home
a meditation




‘Tis the Seasn

Mother, manger and Child in a stable
Bethlehem on a midnight clear
Angels and peace on earth goodwill toward men
Adeste fidelis and little drummer boys
Shepherds, Magi, and gold, frankincense and myrrh
O Christmas tree and we three ships
Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus and Rudolph
Good King Wenceslas, Tiny Tim, Scrooge and Charlie Brown
Miracles on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, and White Christmas
Christmas wreaths, mistletoe, deck the halls and jingle bells
City sidewalks, pretty paper and chestnuts on an open fire
Hippopotamuses, two front teeth and a Red Ryder air rifle

So hark the herald angels sing tidings of comfort and joy
‘Tis the season for a thrill of hope
and a Mother, a manger and a Child

May all of you have a very merry Christmas.

The Uses and Misuses of April

Here’s a post to celebrate National Poetry Month on its final day. Sometimes it’s a knock-down-drag-out when poets get together; sometimes it is not. You just never know what they are going to say, so here’s an imaginary conversation between two poets who did the poetry thang well.

Time: the Present.

On a fine spring day, a large man, with an enormous appetite for the good things of life and enough zest to enjoy them, enters the Tabard Inn. He is a man bulging with good humor. He could be Shakespeare’s Falstaff or Robin Hood’s Friar Tuck, but he is not. He is Geoffrey Chaucer, and this is not a man who will tell the world that it is a dark and stormy night. That man sits in a corner across the room, writing in his notebook, nursing a martini. His name is T. S. Eliot, and he is the great modernist poet. Chaucer is here to question Eliot over the use and misuse of Aprils.

Chaucer orders a flagon of mead and walks over to Eliot. He extends his hand. Eliot takes a sip of his martini, then stands and shakes Chaucer’s hand.

Chaucer (sits): How’s the news?

Eliot: It’s that cruel April again. (Eliot opens his poem, “The Waste Land” with the line: “April is the cruelest month, breeding.”)

Chaucer: A good month to go on pilgrimage. Or simply do the Omar Khayyam gig: “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thee.” Now that would make a nice picnic. (Chaucer quotes from Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.)

Eliot: Yes, but he didn’t mention the ants. Surely there were ants.

Chaucer (ignoring the ant comment): So you believe April is the cruelest month?

Eliot: I said so.

Chaucer: Seems to me you were misusing April.

Eliot: You were way too generous with April. (Chaucer opens his Prologue to “The Canterbury Tales” with the lines: “When April with his showers sweet with fruit / the drought of March has pierced unto the root / And bathed each vein with liquor that has power / to generate therein and sire the flower.”)

Chaucer: Why do you believe April is the cruelest month?

Eliot: It’s this lousy English weather.

Chaucer: By April’s end, all the lousy weather is washed away.

Eliot: If that wasn’t enough, we had just had the Spanish flu.

Chaucer: We had the plague.

Eliot: And World War I, the war to end all wars, had wiped out millions of our young men.

Chaucer: We had the Hundred Years War with France.

Eliot: My wife was getting ready for a mental breakdown.

Chaucer: I lost my beloved wife too.

Eliot: I was harassed by the government over taxes.

Chaucer: I had money stolen from me. It was not mine. I had to repay every farthing. And yet I remained cheerful. Can’t we just arm wrestle about this April business?

Eliot: You’d win.

Chaucer (going for the positive): It seems we do have something in common.

Eliot (smiles for the first time): Yes, we do. National Poetry Month. It was our words that inspired April as the choice.

Chaucer: Let me cheer you up with a joke. Something a little Wife of Bath-ist.

Eliot (covers his ears): No thanks. I’ve heard your Miller’s Tale.

Chaucer: Then let me tell you of a woman who was married five times.

Eliot: You just can’t resist, can you?

Chaucer throws back his head and fills the tavern with his laugh. This conversation continues for hours. The two poets discuss everything from the sonnet to the sestina. Finally, it comes to an end.

Chaucer: I must say you really let your hair down with “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”. That was some mighty fine work.

Eliot: Poetry was always vox populi.

Chaucer: I know. The voice of the people.

Eliot: Better yet, the song of the people. Since I covered cats, I’m working on a new Holy Grail play. Calling it “Spamalot”.

Chaucer: I believe those Monty Python folks did that.

Eliot: Darn that John Cleese. Then it’s dogs for me.

Chaucer: Mary Oliver did that too. “Dog Songs” it’s called.

Eliot: Then what about Alexander Hamilton?

Chaucer: That’s a smash hit on Broadway.

Eliot: It’s true, you know. Old poets do not die. They just fade away.

The two men shake hands. Eliot goes back to his notebook. Chaucer heads out the door of the inn and joins the innkeeper and twenty-nine pilgrims. They are off to Canterbury.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Derek Walcott, Poet

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is the poet, Derek Walcott:

Derek Walcott on writing and painting.

Oh, what a beautiful language we have, this English. We strip it and we tear it down, we ignore it and abuse it and lose a bit of it along the way. It not only survives. It rises like a phoenix and soars. Especially when it is in the hands of a poet. William Shakespeare was that kind of poet, and Seamus Heaney too. So was Derek Walcott.

Derek Walcott was an island man, so he gave us islands and the sea. He showed us that poetry could rise out of the least of places. That it was possible for a black man from a very small place could become a great poet. And he did it with this magnificent language of ours.


Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: A Washed Up Poet

inOnce a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Movie Spotlight is “Reuben, Reuben” (1983):

National Poetry Month is coming up in April. So here’s a reminder to read a few poems during the month, the movie “Reuben, Reuben”. It’s charming and it’s funny and it has romance. The Reuben in the title is not the poet. It’s the supporting character dog in this small movie comedy. A very important supporting character.

Tom Conti is a washed up Scottish poet Gowen McGland. He has a huge case of writer’s block.  In his younger days, he wrote poems that became taught in college classrooms everywhere, though nobody seems to know what they mean. He has become more famous for his drinking and womanizing than for his poetry.

Julius J. Epstein wrote the screenplay. He adapted it from Herman Shumlin’s play “Spofford” which in turn was an adaptation of the Peter DeVries novel, “Reuben, Reuben”. There is a good chance that Dylan Thomas was a model for Gowen McGland.

Gowen makes his living travelling around, speaking to women’s clubs, small colleges and any other organization that pay a stipend. His latest destination is an affluent Connecticut suburb. There’s enough bored housewives there for him to seduce to make it worth the pittance of a stipend he’ll receive. But he doesn’t really do much seduction. A number of the bored are throwing themselves at him. After all, he has that Scottish accent.

Little does he realize that his life is about to change and it will be a Connecticut suburb that does it. He might even break through that writer’s block.