Poetry

Louis Jenkins, “Football”

I take the snap from center, fake to the right, fade back . . . I've got protection. I've got a receiver open downfield . . . What the hell is this? This isn't a football, it's a shoe, a man's brown leather oxford. A cousin to a football maybe, the same skin, but not the same, a thing made for the earth, not the air. I realise that this is a world where anything is possible and I understand, also, that one often has to make do with what one has. I have eaten pancakes, for instance, with that clear corn syrup on them because there was no maple syrup and they weren't very good. Well, anyway, this is different. (My man downfield is waving his arms.) One has certain responsibilities, one has to make choices. This isn't right and I'm not going to throw it.

Louis Jenkins, “Appointed Rounds”

"Rain can’t stop the mail or dampen tot’s Halloween enthusiasm "

At first he refused to deliver junk mail because it was stupid, all those deodorant ads, money-making ideas and contests. Then he began to doubt the importance of the other mail he carried. He began to select first class mail randomly for nondelivery. After he had finished his mail route each day he would return home with his handful of letters and put them in the attic. He didn’t open them and never even looked at them again. It was as if he were an agent of Fate, capricious and blind. In the several years before he was caught, friends vanished, marriages failed, business deals fell through. Toward the end he became more and more bold, deleting houses, then whole blocks from his route. He began to feel he’d been born in the wrong era. If only he could have been a Pony Express rider galloping into some prairie town with an empty bag, or the runner from Marathon collapsing in the streets of Athens, gasping, “No news.”

News You Can’t Use

Tubbs Fire image from fake news story at newsyoucantuse.com

Fire Victims Are Turning their Attention to the Future:

Caitlin Marchetti, 23, of Guerneville, decided not to evacuate Saturday or Monday.

She and her boyfriend, Jamie Miller, 31, went to a supermarket on Sunday to see how gas stations would handle the logistics of transporting gas after the Tubbs Fire burned down some stations. The emergency gas sign near a Chevron gas station still read: “Due to extensive damage due to #shelter-in-place status please pull into only required drop off locations until resumption of services.”

Ms. Marchetti was unsure how the stations would work in the long term. But she said in the meantime, she was happy to be safe.

There is a “sunny spot” on her family’s property in Sonoma County, she said, in a reservoir where it’s cool. They are making plan to put on their clothes and cross their fingers that the emergency button will go off.

The Communal Mind

Patricia Lockwood in The London Review of Books:

In contrast with her generation, which had spent most of its time online learning to code so that it could add crude butterfly animations to the backgrounds of its weblogs, the generation immediately following had spent most of its time online making incredibly bigoted jokes in order to laugh at the idiots who were stupid enough to think they meant it. Except after a while they did mean it, and then somehow at the end of it they were white supremacists. Was this always the way it happened?

To future historians, nothing will explain our behaviour, except a mass outbreak of ergotism caused by contaminated rye?

The word toxic had been anointed, and now could not go back to being a regular word. It was like a person becoming famous. They would never have a normal lunch again, would never eat a Cobb salad outdoors without tasting the full awareness of what they were. Toxic. Labour. Discourse. Normalise.

‘Don’t normalise it!!!!!’ we shouted at each other. But all we were normalising was the use of the word normalise, which sounded like the action of a raygun wielded by a guy named Norm to make everyone around him Norm as well.

What are you swimming in that you can’t describe – won’t describe, because it’s too ordinary?

Mark Strand

Mark Strand

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

-- Mark Strand, 1934-2014

The Naming of the Farm

Why Not Raise More Pure Bred Mares.

FARMERS SHOULD NAME THEIR FARMS.

There is more interest being shown in the naming of our farms this year than ever before. Farms are being named for locality, sentiment, business, and some special industry that may be emphasized upon that farm.

The naming of the farm is the expression of content and happiness. In naming your farm originality is of first importance. Words that go well together without harsh or awkward sounds should be selected. One should be very careful and take plenty of time, and give much thought to this important proposition. It means a great deal to you, and to your children, the future owners of your farm, to have a well selected name; in fact, the members of the family should be consulted before deciding upon a title. The name of your farm is of much more importance that what some people give to the naming of a calf or a colt.

There are some characteristics about each farm that will help suggest a name, or a combination name is often used. Once chosen, the name should become a standard of merit, and be known for the quality of everything produced upon which the name is placed. A well selected name, with an established record for good quality and honest dealings will add much to the sale value of a farm; but it is unusual for this kind of farms to be sold.

-- The Utah Farmer, August 14, 1915