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A Poem for a Thursday #49

Photo by LĂ©onard Cotte on Unsplash
Carl Dennis is an American poet who has won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. He writes of  "quotidian, middle-class life, but beneath the modest, reasonably lighted surfaces of the poems lie unexpected possibilities that create contrast and vibrancy."

Today as we walk in Paris I promise to focus
More on the sights before us than on the woman
We noticed yesterday in the photograph at the print shop,
The slender brunette who looked like  you
As she posed with a violin case by a horse-drawn omnibus
Near the Luxembourg Gardens. Today I won't linger long
On the obvious point that her name is as lost to history
As the name of the graveyard where her bones
Have been crumbling to dust for over a century.
The streets we're to wander will shine more brightly
Now that it's clear the day of her death
Is of little importance compared to the moment
Caught in the photograph as she makes her way
Through afternoon light like this toward the Seine,
Or compared to our walk as we pass the Gardens.
The cold rain that fell this morning has given way to sunshine.
The gleaming puddles reflect our mood
Just as they reflected hers as she stepped around them
Smiling to herself, happy that her audition
Went well this morning. After practicing scales
For years in a village whose name isn't recorded,
She can study in Paris with one of the masters
And serve the music according to laws more rigorous
Than any passed by the grand assemblies of Europe,
Laws I hope she always tried to obey. 
No way of telling now how close her life 
Came to the life she hoped for as she rambled,
On the day of the photograph, along the quay.
And why do I need to know it when she herself,
If offered a chance to peruse the book of the future,
Would likely shake her head no and turn away.
She wants to focus on the afternoon almost gone
As we want to focus now on breathing and savoring
While we stand on the bridge she stood on to watch
The steamers push against the current or ease down.
This flickering light on the water as boats pass by
Is the flow that many painters have tried to capture
Without holding too still. By the time these boats arrive
Far off in the provinces and give up their cargoes,
Who knows where the flow may have carried us?
But to think now of our leaving is to wrong the moment.
We have to be wholly here as she was
If we want the city that welcomed her
To welcome us as students trained in her school
To enjoy the music as much as she did
When she didn't grieve that she couldn't stay

In Paris
Carl Dennis

Brona has shared a poem by Wislawa Szymborska this week and Reese has one by Auden.

Book Purchases


My daughter has discovered a love for thrift shopping. She spent years rolling her eyes at my secondhand purchases and then suddenly decided thrift stores were full of cool, vintage things.  I am pretty sure a subreddit is responsible for her change of mind. There is absolutely no chance she suddenly realized her mom was right all along. Last Saturday she asked to go to Savers to look for vintage clothes. I was happy to oblige even though few things will make you feel as old as realizing that the "vintage" clothes your 14-year-old daughter is looking for are the very same clothes you wore in your teenage years. I know all clothing styles eventually cycle back but it is odd to see the 1980s returning. We both had fun trying on all kinds of random clothing items, and she decided to buy one very 1980s sweater, and then we went and browsed the book rack.


I bought a few books. I don't usually do too well finding books at this Savers but someone with similar reading taste to me must have just donated some books and I hit the jackpot. I found two British Library Crime Classics. I almost never come across those. I practically started jumping up and down in excitement. I am sure my daughter would have loved that. Parents are so embarrassing. I also found two more books with very pretty covers. They obviously came from the U.K. since the price on the back is in pounds. I have read Cold Comfort Farm but I didn't know this book existed. The Edmund Crispin book is familiar but I don't think I have ever read it.


I also bought a copy of War and Peace. It was never a book that appealed greatly to me but then Hamlette at The Edge of the Precipice wrote a review that got me interested. Maybe I will get around to it during the winter. The Georgette Heyer is because I am trying to complete my collection. I might actually own this somewhere but I can't be bothered to look right now. My daughter bought a couple of Redwall books and we picked up a Star Wars book for my son.


I also had a few books show up in the mail. The Mignon Eberhart is because I can never have too much vintage romantic suspense in my life. The book of essays about Jane Austen was recommended by Girl With Her Head in a Book. I can't find the specific post but her whole blog is very good. Go read it if you don't already. I bought In Search of London because I am slowly working my way through H. V. Morton's books. I greatly enjoy his travels around the U.K. I wrote a post about one of his other books here.

I think my daughter's new interest in thrifting might be bad for my book purchases-or good, depending on how you look at it.


This was my other purchase at Savers. Ignore the fact that the mirror isn't clean and the photo is pretty bad. My grandmother had a mirror very similar to this and I always loved it so when I saw this I had to buy it. I have no idea where I am going to hang it but it is still making me very happy.

A Poem for a Thursday #48

Photo by Tom Rumble on Unsplash
Our neighbor got a dog. It barks. It barks a lot. Last night it barked for 95 minutes straight; yes, I timed it. We have tried talking to her and she just got angry with us. We have tried contacting animal control and they just ignored us.

I am ready to move. If anyone has a little farmhouse in the middle of nowhere we can rent that would be great. It has to have no neighbors. Though my husband says we could build a house in the Sahara Desert and someone would buy the next dune and move in with a yapping dog. Probably true.

Billy Collins wrote a poem about a barking dog. Here it is.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking.

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius. 

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House
Billy Collins

Reese is sharing a Dorothy Parker poem today.