Search This Blog


26 February 2015

Back in the saddle.

In the last five months, I have been battling cancer and neglecting this blog.  The cancer remains and I keep fighting, but I think it is time for me to start blogging again.  Out time is finite, and I can think of very few things I would rather do thank be with my family and talk about literature here with friends.

Posts are coming.  Cheers to all.

07 October 2014

And the Nobel will go to...

Thursday the Nobel Prize in Literature is announced, and so I continue my tradition of failing to pick the winner.  My record is 100 percent at not being even close to reality.  So, here we go again.  Play along at home.

First, five I feel deserve to win (the certain kiss of death to winning chances, sorry Javier):

  1. Javier Marías
  2. Cesar Aira
  3. Pascal Quignard
  4. Mikhail Shishkin
  5. Karl Ove Knausgaard

Next, three likely to win:

  1. Haruki Murakami
  2. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
  3. Adonis

And three who could win but should not:

  1. Haruki Murakami
  2. Peter Handke
  3. Philip Roth

And you? Who do you pick?

24 September 2014

a poem for September going into October

The little white death is coming.
Nothing existential or forever,
just the first snows

that blot out the tired grass
and the golden carpet of leaves
that have surrendered themselves

as messiah-like sacrifices to the future,
so that all might live and rise
again in the Spring.

26 August 2014

school is in session

My little princess is ready for her first day of second grade.

A historical poem of sorts

The Road to Rome

It's August 26, AD 79.

A young boy walks the road to Rome, his feet calloused and his ears now broken by the horrific blasts he has heard. Never again will he hear the sounds of birds or of other little boys or girls. He will never again hear his mother's voice, because he is now deaf, and she is now dead. His world is a pillar of smoke. Just a week before, he laughed as his father read him a dirty poem carved on a stone wall as they both went to the market. His strong father, a merchant, was building a future for the boy, a future of prosperity, a future undercut by total death.

Horses pass the boy, and he cannot hear the voices of the soldiers and engineers who have been sent from Rome to assess the scope of the catastrophe. “Boy,” they shout. “Boy!”

The boy shuffles on, emotions and awareness now as buried as his home. He has escaped with a few other stragglers.

“Forget him,” one soldier says. “He's like the others we've met. On to Pompeii.”

a poem for a Tuesday

My words are about you, about your taut skin
and the seaside blue of your eyes and the heat
pulsating from my cathedral, your body.

My words are about you, my greatest desire,
my poor words, impoverished and dependent
on adjectives, nouns, verbs...trifles.

My words are about you, they are calloused ropes
set to ensnare you, to halt time and rip space
and hold you steady and immortal.

My words are about you, and so about me
and my futile attempts to work base metals
into refined gold.

My words are about you, poor offerings from a poor beggar,
the only thing I can give you since you already
have my beating heart.

My words are about you, and I sing them like a bird
freed from the cage sings a song carried
aloft on white tufts of cloud.

My words are about you, and now I listen
as you cast forth the spell of your words,
and our words are about us.

RR Shea

20 August 2014

Paragraphs from friends


Here are a few passages written by some of you.  I've excluded names and included artwork.  Misspellings and errors in punctuation are probably my own, and I do apologize for any I have made in retyping what you have sent me.  Enjoy!

The woman on the bench liked her coffee dark and sweet - I could smell as much from where I was leaned against a tree, occasionally pretending to try to read. Heading to the park to be away from distraction always seemed like a good idea beforehand, but much like dry-shaving or having just one more drink, it never ended the way one would hope. There were always kids or lovers or homeless or cops enough to keep me from settling in to even the most gripping novel, and as soon as I'd slogged mindlessly through a few pages (which would have to be re-read), I'd re-realize my folly, pull up camp, and head back home, the whole round trip wasted. This time the catalyst for my capitulation would end up being her coffee. I hadn't had any yet that morning, and my envy noisily churned my gut. I shoved Kafka back in my bag and turned the attention he'd been getting, and then some, to the Lady of the Mug. She held her orange, pear-bottomed mug with her palm against the bowl, hand threaded through the handle. Her index finger traced the small arc of the lip that it could reach, back and forth as if pacing. She was unperturbed by tendrils of her hair whisking across her face, and I envied her composure, tucking the few strands that had been courting my nostrils back behind my ear. Between the metronome-like arcs she traced above her coffee and her absolute stillness, I was almost certain that she was meditating - another thing that I, as twitchiness personified, seemed incapable of doing. Contemplating my shakey hands, I noticed that her mug didn't even have a lid on it! How, I still wonder, had she gotten it from home to the park bench without spilling? Just as I was adding her to the long list of people who have all the peace I will never attain, I noticed a bitterness flit across her face, as though she'd taken a sip, only to find all the sugar filtered out. A mix of schadenfreude and concern kept me watching, and the look reappeared a few more times, like the shadows cast by a herd of small summer clouds. I walked over to the bench and sat two butt-widths away from her, willing her to look over so that I could smile.

A Green Line Connects Everyone Girl in a short red skirt and a stripped black and white shirt, too nervous to sit. Instead she stands awkwardly with her bike, wondering if anyone is looking in her direction. A couple have a loud conversation in plain view of everyone around, without making a sound, just a fluttering of fingers. Happy, kissing, staring, without a care in the world. A black man with a shiny bald head staring out the window as the people and buildings and vehicles roll by us rolling by, biting his fingernails, button down white shirt, lost in random thoughts The person behind me, back to the wall, not moving not talking, trying to be unnoticed. A black shirt, a black hat, a look not to be trifled with The middle aged man enters on his phone, talking business, and more business, eyes constantly on his phone because to to be doing nothing is a waste of time The old man in the blue shirt, tucked into his pants a bit too far, carrying a book but never opening it, confused by technology but out in the world none the less Two twenty something Indian sisters full of smiles, making plans, big and small, into the city full of endless possibility.

Her head on his shoulder,
A glass of Tuaca in her hand;
It is late and she gazes off
With a faraway look until
Someone speaks
and she comes alive
blonde hair, ponytail
young and pretty
her head nestled
on my son’s shoulder.

She is up with the sun and now sits on my bed, her legs dangling over the edge, golden hair in tangles and the color of wheat in high summer.  Her skin is more golden, enriched by the the sleep of the previous night and by dreams and by her blood, which is partially my blood, replenishing her cells.  She buries her little face in the thick and furry neck of her beloved dog, an early morning intruder who has also taken up residence on my bed. The dog opens his eyes a brief moment, ascertains the situation, releases a sigh of obligation to the girl who adores him, closes his eyes and fades back into sleep. I have put my book down and now watch this morning scene play out. The birds sing outside and, if I listen closely enough, I can hear the hum of the city as it begins to wake, as cars begin to depart for their morning destinations and I begin another day with my girl. Only the empty space where my wife slept last night, abandoned much earlier this morning as she too went off to work, besmirches this gorgeous landscape. It is morning. It is glorious. It will come again.

Here sits an old woman, perhaps a grandmother, perhaps a long lost lonely lover, a teacher or just a surviving housewife. She wears very traditional clothing in accordance with an orthodox church of times past. A long, dark brown skirt, cut just below her ankles as to show no skin. She wears a once-white long sleeve blouse with a floral pattern, but tinted an off yellow color, indistinguishable due to the use of the shirt, the water it is washed in, or just a reflection of the age of the woman wearing that blouse.
On her head she wears a dark reddish brown scarf, to protect her ears and hair from the dust and to keep her fragile body’s warmth in. For warmth and tradition, the same reason she wears black sox and sandals. Next to her feet rests the end of her cane. The cane very much matching her looks: dry, weathered, and worn out. This is what I see as I walk towards this old woman sitting on a bench in the parking lot outside of her apartment complex.
She just sits and watches time go by.
For at that age is there anything to think about besides what deceptive input comes in through one, two, or all of the senses at once? Being overburdened by stimulus, once something is grasped it has already slipped away in the river of input that is constantly bombarding the aging processor. Thought is better left to be done in places such as the quite stillness of church, or the personal privacy of the water closet, where disturbances are infrequent and not interrupting at best, and thoughts can link together through the ambiguity of synapses. Here, as she watches time pass and perhaps unknowingly observes the sense of detachment she feels from what once she knew to be real; she lashes out at the fledging pigeons that walk on her sidewalk in front of her bench or behind her, on her weeds and her garden. She protects what she can with her extension of arm to keep time from taking what she can grasp for now, as real.