Saturday, April 15, 2017

Double Trouble

I've been teaching doppelgangers in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, so why not one of my own?
Matt and Mateo.

You know, my mother once told me she had seen my double earlier in the day.
I was rather affronted.
I mean, my mother, me, a double?
She should have known better, don't you think?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Not as Obvious as It Ought to Be

Teach the book on its merits, not on its laurels.

(And by book, I mean anything.  I mean specific books first, of course, the ones by Homer and Melville and Austen and Shakespeare and whomever is popular in the moment, but I certainly mean anything also.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"Ice-Diving in Hudson Bay"


When we dive down in those cool and crystal
Blue waters, clumsy with our double wetsuits,
Steel tanks, and that thirteen feet of frozen sea,
Will we worry whether the ropes rub raw
On the rough-edged ice--safety-lines snapping,
Drifting from the ice-hole as we lose our way?
Perhaps, as we dive, swimming along stiff walls,
Sea-carved corridors, chill labyrinths of ice,
Our lamps might dim, or die, leaving us to grope
Blindly in that deep and dark, sightless world?
Will we wonder, what if--while we blindly swim--
The ice-hole freezes over, trapping us
Forever until the slow spring thaw?

Or will we be just like that Captain Hudson
And his young son, boating out on those quiet waters
Of the new-found bay, watching their tall ship sail
Beyond winter's ice.  A grim Captain-Boatswain yells
Hasty farewells from the fleeing crosstrees.
Winds bring their cries across cold, shifting seas.

--Matthew Duckworth

A fragment, a figment, from my youth.  Winter 1980: Poetry-Writing with Carl Dennis.
Undergraduate work here that I'm enjoying with hindsight.

Keith, my buddy Keith, was my partner in imagination, diving beneath the ice.
Fare well, rest well, strive well, my friend.
I miss you.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Longfellow's "Seaweed"


When descends on the Atlantic 
      The gigantic 
Storm-wind of the equinox, 
Landward in his wrath he scourges 
      The toiling surges, 
Laden with seaweed from the rocks: 

From Bermuda's reefs; from edges 
      Of sunken ledges, 
In some far-off, bright Azore; 
From Bahama, and the dashing, 
Surges of San Salvador; 

From the tumbling surf, that buries 
      The Orkneyan skerries, 
Answering the hoarse Hebrides; 
And from wrecks of ships, and drifting 
      Spars, uplifting 
On the desolate, rainy seas; — 

Ever drifting, drifting, drifting 
      On the shifting 
Currents of the restless main; 
Till in sheltered coves, and reaches 
      Of sandy beaches, 
All have found repose again. 

So when storms of wild emotion 
      Strike the ocean 
Of the poet's soul, erelong 
From each cave and rocky fastness, 
      In its vastness, 
Floats some fragment of a song: 

From the far-off isles enchanted, 
      Heaven has planted 
With the golden fruit of Truth; 
From the flashing surf, whose vision 
      Gleams Elysian 
In the tropic clime of Youth; 

From the strong Will, and the Endeavor 
      That forever 
Wrestle with the tides of Fate; 
From the wreck of Hopes far-scattered, 
Floating waste and desolate; — 

Ever drifting, drifting, drifting 
      On the shifting 
Currents of the restless heart; 
Till at length in books recorded, 
      They, like hoarded 
Household words, no more depart. 

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Shark Dream

Early this morning, I had my very first shark attack dream.  I've been diving since 1978, and I've had plenty of shark dreams, dreams in which I watch sharks swim from shore, dreams in which I seem to swim with sharks deep underwater, dreams menacing and dreams awe-inspiring, but dreams getting attacked . . . first time.  In the dream, I was out on a kayak with a friend, and we were going to free dive.  Somewhere up north--Sonoma or Mendocino coast.  We anchored our boats to kelp, and we got ready to enter the water, planning to drop down into the kelp forest.  For some reason in the dream--for I would never dive in this manner--I dropped my fins and mask & snorkel overboard, and then I swam down to the equipment in the dreamily-overly-clear water.  As I swam down, I could see some sort of body mass and some sort of movement in the near distance, but without my mask, I could not see clearly enough to make out details.  I certainly felt nervous.  At the bottom, I donned my mask and cleared it a bit, using only a little of the air in my lungs, and pulled on both fins as I looked about, spinning slowly to cover the 360 degrees.  There, swimming away, was a large shark.  As I slowly moved upward, trying to kick slowly, easily, calmly, sending out the vibes of functional-fish, not of awkward-fearful-prey, I could see the shark turn and circle and then rush for me.  Of course, I woke just before that open mouth closed on my body . . . .

And, of course, I had to get up, walk around, and drink some water before I could shake loose of that final moment.