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A magazine of sound and fury
Dana Wilde
Nebulae: A Backyard Cosmography
A companion volume to The Other End of the Driveway that looks up and outward to the stars and planets.Download an electronic copy for only $8.95 or get a paperback for $20.95 by clicking here.
Euphrasia, speedwell, wood sorrel, starflowers.
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Late Bloomers

The youth culture, I'm afraid, has left me behind. Not that I didn't practice it hard myself. Thirty years ago I bounced around -- indelicately, as it were -- on dance floors and wailed on electric guitars for dozens, sometimes hundreds of better bouncers than me, scoffed at organized religion, fell hard for every girl who smiled at me, and disdained small birds. Like every other kid who ever lived, I was a May-June slam-dance summer riot creature with burgeonous wild-madder energy.
Slowly I wised up. Or something. Unfortunately, wising up is a drawback here in the 21st century because we are obsessed with spring. If we weren't, the Viagra-Cialis industry would not do as well as it does. To the youth go the spoils. After that it's all downhill.
If you let it, I mean. Take the flora along my driveway, for example. In May and June comes the youth explosion. Starflowers, hawkweeds, raspberry, bluets, violets, ground ivy, wild roses, chokecherry, shadbush and crabapple blossoms, red osier dogwood umbels, little Canada mayflowers under the trees, wild strawberry, yarrow, rough-fruited cinquefoil (more perfect yellow petals do not exist in nature), wood sorrel, speedwell, and ineradicable outbreaks of dandelion.
About the beginning of July everything seems to lay back a moment, as if spent. Then it reconstitutes when the wild carrot, hemlock parsleys (or caraway, or whatever those white-crowned flowers by the mailbox are), evening primrose, nightshade and hawkweeds kick into rhythm. By August and September the youth movement is gone and we stop thinking of flowers and start noticing fallen leaves. Beautiful, but smelling of winter. Here in the Western world we do not like to be reminded of winter. Its unstoppability.
But hold on. "Objects are concealed from our view, not so much because they are out of the course of our visual ray as because we do not bring our minds to bear on them," Thoreau, a man of no small wisdom it seems to me, observed of autumn.
Is there life after youth?
As late as the first week of October, the wall hawkweed, while not exactly in bunches, is nevertheless scattered all over the lawn. Clusters of New England asters, 3 feet high with gorgeous purple rays, grow along the driveway right where the cinquefoil appeared in June. Near the road among the defiant bands of hemlock parsleys (or whatever they are) are evening primroses 4 feet high with rich, bright-yellow unfurlings. There's late Queen Anne's lace, the last of the fading goldenrod. Some kind of skullcap with beechlike leaves and tube-shaped violet flowers grows right near the gravel. Down the embankment, clutches of pearly everlasting. Beside the woodpile, butter-and-eggs toadflax, groves of tiny euphrasia, heal-alls looking deep-purple healthier than they did in July, and in the grass some little stray wood sorrel, late bloomers.
This is not the welterous fantasy of May and its single-minded reproductive roar. But it's a kind of fecundity that sees past its own growth and even, I have to say, beyond its own winter. There is, I happen to know from experience, a tiny flower called shepherd's purse, with little heart-shaped pods, that outlasts snowfalls too thin to survive the remnants of the sun and thrive well into November and even December.
In the house, my old Gibson acoustic guitar sits alertly on its stand, ready to hand when the blues or the urge for goin' strike, stuff the kids don't recognize. My touch, though unprofessional, is defter than it was on stage at the Free Street Pub ten thousand springs ago. The chickadees bouncing around the bird feeder make me laugh out loud, and my wife, beyond competing with the cinquefoil, I fall for every time she walks through the kitchen.

Breeze
ByWilliam Hathaway

The wind today is but a breeze
puffing here then there,
coptering down maple seeds
in sudden fidgety showers.
Up straight we stand
from mucking row by row
to uncrick the back, mop sweat,
and see the wide world
still beaming all green below
and blue above.
Ank! Ank!
Ank!
a nuthatch somewhere
cranks. Then a song sparrow
sings
Sweet! Sweet! Sweet!
and from some safe bower
a yellowthroat lectures
witchety-witchety-witchety.
Not answering -- no need
to get poetic here -- and yet
in triadic parallel of sorts.
You know, three-three-three,
meaning any meaning we
might mean it to mean.
A design proving God is love,
perhaps? Or even that a racecar
driver we admire did not die
in vain? For can't any gust
flutter up myriad signs
seen by all in the yellow air
but only one read by one
alone? And that thought done,
we bend back to dirt again.



William Hathaway's recent collection of poems is The Right No.

Recent essays, and others
Books,
bits
and pieces
Other writings, other places
More writings like this are available in The Other End of the Driveway.
Download the whole book right now for just $8.50.
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Living in the Questions
A 21st century talk before the Pennsylvania Poetry Society

By William Hathaway

I’m delighted to talk to the Pennsylvania Poetry Society, but I can’t call myself a Pennsylvania poet because I’ve only lived here a little over a year. I like it here. I was living in Maine which is a very beautiful place, but I’m having more fun here and there is beauty here as well and the people are a lot less wintry. Having said that, I’m still not a Pennsylvania poet. Over the years my poems have appeared in Montana, New York and Louisiana poetry anthologies, yet I’ve always felt awkward about being represented equally with poets whose themes are passionately regional. Reed Whittemore had a poem I liked about watching “his bird” in “his tree,” but when his bird flew away to his neighbor’s tree he was seized with instant resentment. I was once fulsomely introduced to a Sheboygan, Wis., audience as a Wisconsin poet, but when I rose to admit that all I’d done in Wisconsin was get born there a palpable chill filled the room. If you can accept me as a guest Pennsylvania poet for the day, I’ll gratefully proceed.

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River in the Snow
By Liu Zong-yuan

Over a thousand mountains the winging birds have disappeared,
Throughout ten thousand paths, no trace of humankind.
In a solitary boat,
Straw hat and cape,
An old man fishes alone --
Cold river in the snow.


Translated by Bruce Wilson and Zhang ting-chen.
This text is transcribed from the book
100 Tang Poems, published in a dual-language edition in China in 1988, which I bought in the English language book shop in Shanghai in 2000. In this little book are some of the best translations of ancient Chinese poetry I've ever seen..

Detritus No. 2
Martian sunset