Negative Blue: Selected Later PoemsNegative Blue: Selected Later Poems by Charles Wright

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first Charles Wright collection I’ve read. I appreciated the natural imagery, the interesting mix of backyard and international vantage points, the reaction pieces to his reading material. There were many “moments” as I read, and a few full poems that really spoke to me. There were also times when I thought “there’s that arborvitae, again….”

What appeals to me most is the recurrent theme of internal spiritual/religious struggle and Wright’s facility in connecting the natural with the supernatural in a realistic, non-fantastical way–from the recurrent references to the titular “Blue” that ties the Heavens with the Earth (e.g., Blue Ridge Mountains) to the constant use of images of winter-barren plant life. The Man (Adam?) I see throughout this collection is one who, after a youth of religious devotion and fervid expectation, has experienced a life that challenges that Springtime passion. At the end, he sees rather an absent God, one who has lost interest in His creation. But even then, the Man cannot deny God’s existence, though at times it appears that this is his desire. It seems that the essence of God remains, but the Edenic rupture has yet to heal. Throughout the poems, there is a thread of anger, frustration, abandonment, and doubt as to whether that rupture can heal. But always there remains a sense of reality, even if that reality is difficult to put into words; the spiritual/religious elements are rooted in solid ground, not flitting about in ether.

A bit of the poem “Ostinato and Drone” speaks to this:

“It’s reasonable to represent anything that really exists
by that thing which doesn’t exist,
Daniel Defoe said.
and that’s what we’re talking about, the difference between the
voice and the word,
The voice continuing to come back in splendor,
the word still not forthcoming.
We’re talking about the bush on fire.
We’re talking about this quince bush, its noonday brilliance of light.”

This book is not a skimmer. It deserves consideration. My observations are limited by my knowledge of Mr. Wright and my single reading of this collection.

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Yesterday morning, I woke up with “O Holy Night” playing in my head.  Later in the afternoon, a friend posted a link to this video on his Facebook.  I had to share it.


Music: David Tolk; Art: Jon McNaughton

The man that put this montage together, Seth Adams Smith, is also a blogger.  You may recognize his name from “Marriage isn’t For You,” or you may have discovered him, as I did, through his efforts to support those dealing with suicide and depression.  At this time of year, it can be extremely difficult to not feel the joy that everyone else seems to be sharing, especially for those who struggle with mood disorders and mental health issues.  I decided to post a couple of links that I hope will be of benefit either to those who are suffering themselves or who may know someone who is.

Suicide and Depression

To the Depressed and Suicidal: I Know How It Feels


The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.

Traditional arrangement, performed by Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Modern arrangement, performed by University of Utah Singers

Advent Calendar

Advent: Day 1

I have always loved the idea of advent calendars.  When my children were young, we always incorporated daily activities, stories, etc., in the days leading up to December 25.  While they did not follow the pattern of Advent, those daily fun reminders helped us draw closer as a family and kept our focus on the joy of the season.

This year I decided I wanted to use my blog as a place to share daily moments of Christmas joy with you.  I hope this will be a place you will want to visit at some point during your day to share the delight of the season.



Did you know?  In the Hebrew form, Hallelujah is an imperative.  It is not our expression to God, although the word has evolved into this modern usage.  It is actually a command to us: “[You] praise God!”


If you have a little extra time, here’s an interesting documentary on Handel’s Messiah.

A Gift from the “C”

Posted: September 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

Halloween Lucy

My cat puked in a heart shape this morning.

Please let this not be the high point of my day.

Or let it be something transcendentally illuminating. C’mon, throw me a bone (just not a bone my dog will later vomit onto my carpet).

I got a little relief this week exploring a new (to me) group, Vacationer.  Although I could imagine their name comes from the tripping mood of their music, you don’t have to be high to enjoy their laid back, funky, hip, cool, beachy, Indian/Caribbean/Brazilian (etc.)-influenced style.  The group is aptly named.  Listening to Vacationer with the scent of sea breeze and yin-yang melty wax wafting around me sent me on a mini-getaway.  It gave me the unique mixture of relaxation and invigoration that comes with a great vacation.

I’m still working on the “lay back, turn your mind off, and just let it wash over you” approach to living.  Truthfully, I don’t think I’d ever be satisfied with it full-time.  It’s just not me.  But I definitely need those moments.  And sometimes, I need those days. Or weeks.  Vacationer gives me this escape in the small doses my life allows.

Beyond that, however, listening to “The Wild Life” gave me pause to consider something deeper than surfboards, bikinis, jungles, and beer on the beach.  Anything thought-provoking earns points in my book.  This song got me wondering if “the wild life is human nature,” why do we not still live that way?  My answer ran along these lines: I think it is also in our nature to grow, to develop, to seek and find, to ascend.  Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle channels those desires into perverse streams of lust for power and material gain rather than streams of increasing consciousness.  There is something beyond existing as a collective of impulse-driven, bipedal mammals, something more fundamental than functioning as cogs in a econosociopolitical consumption machine.  Perhaps it is in the space between careless vacation and hyperfocused industry that peace, pleasure, and productivity exist together.  Discovering and maintaining a balance is up to each individual who desires it.  For me, I think Vacationer might play a part in that quest.  If not, they still make awesome listening!


The Wild Life, Vacationer


An Interview with Lead Singer of Vacationer,

Kenny Vasoli


A Little Joao Gilberto & Stan Getz

(You’ll get the inclusion if you listen to the interview)

The Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man, Ray Bradbury

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Illustrated Man is comprised of short stories from a variety of subgenres, with heavy emphasis on rocket ships and space travel/extraterrestrial civilization within our solar system which provide a backdrop for his social commentary.

My favorites from this collection are: “The Veldt,” “The Highway,” “The Long Rain,” “The Fox and the Forest,” and “The City.”

An enjoyable read but, while I love Bradbury, this collection is not my favorite of his works.

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