Trapped with no way out.
Think, plan, and figure.
Sometimes you awaken and the walls seem…closer.
Made it out before.
Always ending up back in the dark.
The dust floats through the air,
I wish I could telepathically send it for help.
Half a lifetime walled away.
I don’t wanna die here, like this.
All you have is what you took in.
Hello everyone, yesterday the terrible news came out that celebrity chef and tv host Anthony Bourdain had passed away. It was only a few weeks ago I was writing about Frightened Rabbit’s lead singer Scott Hutchinson who had also passed away under duress. I’m immensely saddened by the loss of these people who came into our lives and shared a bit of themselves with us. The world can be hard and hurtful at times. Politics are a mess and people seem to be at each other’s throats over the most basic things. When the world seems extra heavy, there are a few good reads I like to take a time out with that always seem to brighten my mood and I’ll share them with you now.
Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut is the tale of a 71year old painter, named Rabo Karabekian living in a 19 bedroom home he inherited from his late wife. He lets a writer move in named Circe, who actually writes under a pen name and is quit famous and successful. She eventually convinces Rabo to write an autobiography detailing his long and eventful life. The book is full of funny and heartbreaking stories from the streets of San Francisco as a young immigrant boy, to the European theater of World War II. It ends up as a lifting tale that I believe ranks with Vonnegut’s best work.
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris is one of my all time favorite books. Sedaris is a humorist and essayist whom I was lucky enough to go to a reading in Dayton, Ohio when my wife bought me tickets for my 40th birthday. Sedaris signed a book for me and asked about my grandfather’s watch I was wearing. He added it into his signature in my book.
The book is chocked full of hilarious observations that start out pretty funny, but Sedaris can flip on a dime and it can be quite poignant as well. His stories often revolve around his middle class up bring in North Carolina or his hitchhiking across the country. His funniest stuff comes from a lot of the crap jobs he had while living in Chicago and New York, plus his endless, but charming quibbles with his boyfriend Hugh. However in this book the last 1/3 is dedicated to his battle to quit smoking and moving to Japan for 3months to accomplish it. I also have this book on audio, read by the author and I’ve listened to it numerous times. It’s a great companion on long drives by yourself.
If you’ve seen any of my other posts on Mid-American-Culture you may have read a couple of the Robert Frost posts I’ve done. He’s hands down my favorite poet and when the world has beaten me down, I’ll often settle down with a book of his poetry and be taken away to days on the farm around New England, or walking along the old stone wall. Here’s his poem After Apple Picking;
BY ROBERT FROST
My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.
Lastly Matt Fraction and David Aja had a spectacular run on Marvel’s Hawkeye where the title character and his alter ego Clint Barton battled countless Russian mob members and his own brand of depression. He reconnects with his brother Barney and has some help with his side kick Kate Bishop, AKA the other Hawkeye. Fraction delivers a tour de force character arc here and David Aja’s minimalist art is brilliant. I recommend this comic series to everyone I meet and I’ll suggest it to you as well. It’s always a great place to return too.
So there you go. Some great reads to dive into and get away from it all. But also, call your mom. Talk to your dad. Check on your friends, it’s a cold world sometimes and we could all use a hand. Don’t be ashamed of needing that hand. Someone can help you today and you return the favor tomorrow. It may sound cheesy but it works. Of course if you can’t find anyone else and you’ve reached your breaking point please call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800- 273-8255. Take care everyone and keep up to date with more Mid-American-Culture.
Hello everybody, and welcome to the third edition of Rapid Fire Reviews, a series in which I share some quick thoughts on albums I’ve listened to recently. Today, we have four wildly different albums to get through, so let’s get started!
Good morning everyone, in sticking with my Saturday Poem sharing I present my favorite Sylvia Plath poem, The Colossus. The poem was released in 1960 as part of a collection called The Colossus and Other Poems. The collection stands as the only selections of poetry Sylvia published before her death at age 30 in 1963.
The poem is full of wonderful imagery that was a hallmark of her work, she had a way of telling you something in her poem but also leaving it to the reader’s own interpretation. My favorite line is ” I crawl like an ant in mourning”
Sylvia was prolific in her short 30 years on the planet, I’d invite you to grab a cup of coffee and pull it close and enjoy this poem and then search out more of her work, she also published a novel, The Bell Jar that has a place among the best American literature. Have a great day and keep reading.
Good Saturday to you all, today I’ll share another of my favorite poems with you. It’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death by Emily Dickinson. This poem was published in 1890 after Emily’s death. She was not a known poet in her life time, she came for a very wealthy family that were apparent pillars of the community. Emily was often thought of as ecentric and probably a little weird which makes you love her even more. She was known to wear mostly white and keep to herself and write. As she grew older she about became a complete recluse and rarely left her room. When she died her younger sister found 1800 poems that Emily had written. She was first published posthumously in 1890 by some acquaintances, although grossly over edited from the original work. Emily didn’t title her poems, and her puncuation and sentence structure was wild and free roaming. Her early publishers didn’t trust her instinct and I assume they mansplaned editing and poetry and made some cash selling bastardized, but still great poetry. Scholar Thomas Johnson would find and return Dickinson’s work to her original writing and publish a collection as she intended in 1955.
Here is my favorite Emily Dickinson poem as she intended, Number 479.
Hello everyone. Hope you all are staying dry on this rainy Saturday in February. Today I’m gonna share one of my favorite poets with you, Wallace Stevens.
Wallace Stevens was born in October 2nd, 1879 in Reading, Pennsylvania. He was Harvard Educated and a graduate of the New York Law School. He was a fantastic Modernist American Poet, he spent his life as an insurance agent. He lived 2 lives of sorts. This was especially evident at his funeral in 1955 when a large turn out gathered to pay their respects. Half the crowd were friends from his long professional life. The other half were fans of his poetry. Either side had the full picture of the man in his entirety.
The poem I’m sharing is a study upon a elderly lady’s death and the work about way to which life inevitably goes on. It’s called The Emperor of Ice-Cream.
The Emperor of Ice-Cream
Call the roller of big cigars, The muscular one, and bid him whip In kitchen cups concupiscent curds. Let the wenches dawdle in such dress As they are used to wear, and let the boys Bring flowers in last month's newspapers. Let be be finale of seem. The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream. Take from the dresser of deal, Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet On which she embroidered fantails once And spread it so as to cover her face. If her horny feet protrude, they come To show how cold she is, and dumb. Let the lamp affix its beam. The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.