high weir

September 24, 2008

Some Answers You Might Give

Filed under: Uncategorized — jstreed1476 @ 7:05 pm

Driving through the long hills and small towns of Iowa yesterday, I listened to a cd of poets reading their work. I was especially taken by some of David Ignatow’s words. He was recommended to me while I was still in high school, but I had forgotten him.

For My Daughter in Reply to a Question

We’re not going to die.
we’ll find a way.
We’ll breathe deeply
and eat carefully.
We’ll think always on life.
There’ll be no fading for you or for me.
We’ll be the first
and we’ll not laugh at ourselves ever
and your children will be my grandchildren.
Nothing will have changed
except by addition.
There’ll never be another as you
and never another as I.
No one ever will confuse you
nor confuse me with another.
We will not be forgotten and passed over
and buried under the births and deaths to come.

Like Dylan Thomas below, he makes his point by saying the opposite of what he really means.


Some Questions You Might Ask

Filed under: Uncategorized — jstreed1476 @ 6:38 pm

Lots of libraries give away their old catalog cards as note paper—what else to do with them, really? I love grabbing a stack of them and seeing what turns up.


Here’s a collection of titles from a small-town library I visited the other day:

Why are some people left-handed?

Why are they starving themselves?

Why the cock crows three times.

Why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears.

Why I’m afraid of bees.

Why do people take drugs?

Why do our bodies stop growing?

Why did Grandpa die?

Why Christmas trees aren’t perfect.


I thought about linking these titles to whatever Amazon has on them, but they’re better left as gnomic little riddles, right?


The post title is cribbed from a poem by Mary Oliver. I like the poem–I like a lot of Oliver’s work–but I almost prefer the found-poem that the titles make. Which reminds me of Annie Dillard’s account of reading the first lines-index of a poetry anthology. And that makes me think of . . .


That’s the English major’s curse–everything you read brings to mind something else.

September 11, 2008

On Commemoration

Filed under: Uncategorized — jstreed1476 @ 6:15 pm


Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child’s death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London’s daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.

Dylan Thomas

September 3, 2008

Sine qua non*

Filed under: about — jstreed1476 @ 12:38 am

By way of Sean, a challenge to come up with 10 things you absolutely must know about me, to know me.

1. I’ve always lived in the eastern half of Iowa (except for my first 10 months, when I lived in Spain), and I expect to remain here for the rest of my life.

2. Technically, Waterloo is my new hometown, i.e I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else, and my kids are growing up here. But I’m very nostalgic for the Iowa City of my high-school years.

3. I experience buyer’s-remorse over things like the variety of rice I purchase. Getting a new car last year was, and continues to be, a source of agony.

4. I don’t own a cellphone or an iPod. The students who work for me do not believe me when I say this.

5. My co-workers are more likely to think I’m a data-driven, analytical thinker than that I was educated in the humanities department. I almost never talk about bookish things with people.

6. The poles of my imagination are Borges and Tolkien. Both makers of worlds, but very different in degree of elaboration.

7. I miss my mom, who died over 10 years ago, and I wish my dad and brother would move here.

8. Faithwise, what I know in my bones (Christ’s path the right path) and what I live in my life (American self-reliance) seem constantly at odds.

9. I have a hard time remembering that the things that drive me crazy about Clayton are his similarities to me at a given age. But it’s easy to remember that he’s delightful in his differences.

10. Candy is my better half.

*Bonus: I know Latin phrases, but not the language.

September 1, 2008

Too Close For Comfort

Filed under: Uncategorized — jstreed1476 @ 6:44 am

By way of Plep–still one of my favorite blogs–I came across this collection of Japanese “Ghost Scrolls.”

All of them are creepy in the extreme. Exhibit A.

My favorite/least favorite scary things are those that are almost, or formerly, or made to seem, human. Creatures in which we recognize a kind of near-humanity. A strange likeness is more frightening than the utterly alien. (See Nazgul, zombies, etc.)

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