Heartbeat

Photo by S.W. Cosgrove

Reflected landscape from a quiet wall in the heart and vascular waiting room. Thursday, December 3, 2020.

In that silent room, I sat listening to my heart beat, feeling it steady and sure, before allowing the doctor to listen and watch with his scopes and machines to this organic metronome of life buried in my chest.

I Can Hear Your Heartbeat – Chris Rea, the Water Sign album

In the silence of the side street
In the whisper of the night
From the darkness of the empty hours
To the early morning light
From the hustle down on Main Street
With all its lights so bright
To the trucker on the highway
Pressing through the night

I can hear your heartbeat

The Changing Light

Photo by S.W. Cosgrove

The view from my office window high above Market Street, looking up Van Ness, as the fog rolled in from the Golden Gate onto The City, changing day into night. I always had a sweater ready in the middle of summer.

The changing light / at San Francisco / is none of your East Coast light / none of your / pearly light of Paris / The light of San Francisco / is a sea light / an island light / And the light of fog / blanketing the hills / drifting in at night / through the Golden Gate / to lie on the city at dawn. 

Lawerence Ferlinghetti

Remembering Thomas Wolfe: You Can’t Go Home Again

This is a photo I took of a farm that was once a thriving dairy farm just down the road from our farm in Northwestern Wisconsin.  I worked in that barn helping milk a herd of 80 cows and putting up hay in the loft.  Some 30 years later I revisited and this was all that was left, side boards flapping in the wind.  Bankers closed on the farm for debt, and the family who’d owned it for generations moved to town and did what they could to get by.

Remembering Thomas Wolfe: You Can’t Go Home Again

By S.W. Cosgrove

Can you can go home again?
You can go to the place you once knew,
and it will be there
Just not as you remembered, not really

Prepare yourself with vague, misty memories of farms,
green hills, deep woods, and shimmering ponds, eagles soaring above
A big river pulsing over the rocks, under bridges, wandering through riverine sloughs
Catfish lying still on the bottom, unblinking, wary of the hook

The old river still runs deep, still carrying its waters to the sea far away
But the hills have been leveled and covered with subdivisions,
the woods cut and thinned with no eagle nests towering above
The ponds filled and blacktopped

Yes, you can go home again, but
it’s not your home, anymore
It’s home to others who may one day return there
looking for their old home
And it will be there, but not really

Fly Away

cherry crumb cake

Fly Away

S.W. Cosgrove

While I was reading an essay on essays, sipping and inhaling the fragrance of a smoky Lapsang Souchong tea, the charry liquid washing down the last of my cherry crumb cake, a fly landed on the cake dish.

There were just a few scraps left, some crumbs and a drop or two of sugary cherry paste.

My first impulse was to flick the bothersome insect away, intruder, pestiferous fly.

But as I watched the little creature wax his translucent wings hopping over the plate, tasting here and there, I thought – lucky fly! What a find on this quiet evening: cherry crumb cake.

I watched the fly’s pleasure and greed at his unexpected, most wonderful treat. Possibly the best meal ever in his short life.

And I thought – that damned fly has as much integrity as any creature on this earth. Certainly in this room. Just earning an honest living and enjoying a nice supper, including desert. Cherry cake crumbs.  Pursuing a life of integrity.

He finished his cherry crumb cake while I finished my tea, then off he flew.  Fortunately, he didn’t send any of his comrades to finish the job.

I poured a whisky and returned to my essay on essays.

Balvenie12SB

Man Was Made To Mourn: A Dirge – Robert Burns (1759–1796)

Man Was Made To Mourn: A Dirge

When chill November’s surly blast
Made fields and forests bare,
One ev’ning, as I wander’d forth
Along the banks of Ayr,
I spied a man, whose aged step
Seem’d weary, worn with care;
His face furrow’d o’er with years,
And hoary was his hair.

“Young stranger, whither wand’rest thou?”
Began the rev’rend sage;
“Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,
Or youthful pleasure’s rage?
Or haply, prest with cares and woes,
Too soon thou hast began
To wander forth, with me to mourn
The miseries of man.

“The sun that overhangs yon moors,
Out-spreading far and wide,
Where hundreds labour to support
A haughty lordling’s pride;-
I’ve seen yon weary winter-sun
Twice forty times return;
And ev’ry time has added proofs,
That man was made to mourn.

“O man! while in thy early years,
How prodigal of time!
Mis-spending all thy precious hours-
Thy glorious, youthful prime!
Alternate follies take the sway;
Licentious passions burn;
Which tenfold force gives Nature’s law.
That man was made to mourn.

“Look not alone on youthful prime,
Or manhood’s active might;
Man then is useful to his kind,
Supported in his right:
But see him on the edge of life,
With cares and sorrows worn;
Then Age and Want-oh! ill-match’d pair-
Shew man was made to mourn.

“A few seem favourites of fate,
In pleasure’s lap carest;
Yet, think not all the rich and great
Are likewise truly blest:
But oh! what crowds in ev’ry land,
All wretched and forlorn,
Thro’ weary life this lesson learn,
That man was made to mourn.

“Many and sharp the num’rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves,
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And man, whose heav’n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn, –
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

“See yonder poor, o’erlabour’d wight,
So abject, mean, and vile,
Who begs a brother of the earth
To give him leave to toil;
And see his lordly fellow-worm
The poor petition spurn,
Unmindful, tho’ a weeping wife
And helpless offspring mourn.

“If I’m design’d yon lordling’s slave,
By Nature’s law design’d,
Why was an independent wish
E’er planted in my mind?
If not, why am I subject to
His cruelty, or scorn?
Or why has man the will and pow’r
To make his fellow mourn?

“Yet, let not this too much, my son,
Disturb thy youthful breast:
This partial view of human-kind
Is surely not the last!
The poor, oppressed, honest man
Had never, sure, been born,
Had there not been some recompense
To comfort those that mourn!

“O Death! the poor man’s dearest friend,
The kindest and the best!
Welcome the hour my aged limbs
Are laid with thee at rest!
The great, the wealthy fear thy blow
From pomp and pleasure torn;
But, oh! a blest relief for those
That weary-laden mourn!”

Dharma. Billy Collins

Dharma by Billy Collins

The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her doghouse
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.

Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance—
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Gandhi with his staff and his holy diapers?

Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.

If only she did not shove the cat aside
every morning
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment she
would be,
what a paragon of earthly detachment.
If only she were not so eager
for a rub behind the ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.