Friday, August 30, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Night and its Strange Likeness to a Diego Rivera Mural, by John Rybicki

Amy Hempel assigned this as a reading for our fiction workshop in 2010.

I shadow box the sheet hanging over the opening
             to the back of my house,
tacked up to trap in the heat.

I jab sometimes with knives in each hand
             shredding the sheet before me,
or with a hammer-like swing

to the right stab at the bathroom door.
             A young Mexican man at my gym
beams and asks if I’m training for a fight.

No, just fighting my own demonios.
             He laughs but nods his head yes to this.
Tonight I’m fists against the mattress

propped up against the wall.
             Sometimes I switch to fighting southpaw,
an alien feel.

I’m soldier training for no war
             in an age where the menace
is a field in the brain:

the chess pieces are dunked in flame
             and shuffle about while I blink
and press on from stop light to stop light.

I’m finding the tomahawk again at the tire shop,
             and snapping kicks at my refrigerator
to pass the nights in this ghost house.

Even when I’m bow hunting with the rain
             of red and yellow leaves
that fall like hands all around me,

I wonder has nature finally given
             what my father tried to provide,
slapping the scars all over my skin like medals?

Armor up, boy. The sun may as well
             have brass knuckles
at the ends of its beams.

--John Rybicki

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

June tumbleweeding, Shakespeare and Company

 Sita engages in the universal tumbleweed activity, screwing the shutters onto the antiquarian

 The tumbleweed closet, from which you will have to wrestle your possessions each morning, if you become a tumbleweed. Don't bring anything fragile or valuable! This little closet along the stairwell used to be a "Turkish"-style toilet--back when tumbleweeds had to go to the public showers.

 Another classic tumbleweed activity: fishing the change from the wishing well. Before the bookstore installed that table on top, the coins in the well would regularly surpass 20 euros' worth each day. Nowadays we might get about 5 euros a day. There also used to be a gas valve at the base of the well, and sometimes George would open the gas and set the hole on fire.

 Every night by the Seine, hundreds of people filled these little amphitheaters to salsa dance.

The place Maubert, two blocks from the shop, hosts regular produce and flea markets

 While the staff went bowling, Sita manned the corner till

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Field work, Nordvoll

 After we weeded all the strawberries by hand, by wedging knives into the roots to try to extirpate the weeds, we covered all the fields with insulating white cloths. (This double-insulates the fields, which are already covered with black tarps that Roger disconcertingly referred to as "membranes.")

Monday, August 26, 2013

arctic swim, nordvoll, 2013

Roger, who grew up here 200 miles above the Arctic circle, said that he and his family would never have imagined going for a swim. 
But Michelle and I always looked for excuses to go, on hot days (because we were constantly dirty from work anyway) just in underwear.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Marrakech Rouge, 9 months later

The trick of the long-term traveler: when the lights go out, make a lantern by putting a water-filled water bottle on top of a flashlight.