A Book of Days

Not about traditional saints and feast days,
not devotional almanac, calendar, or scrapbook clippings –
not my journal. Not any of those
but all of those. Life logbook through time.
Capture one good line, images, in words.

I had some interest in publishing the poems here as a book, and the question came up, “How important are the accompanying images?” Some are mine. Some are open-sourced or public domain. In my podcast version of the website, the mages are gone (as well as the links). How much is lost?

This poem and post were inspired by seeing an interview with Patti Smith who just published her visual A Book of Days. It has photographs of her daily coffee, books she’s reading, gravesites, and daily images accompanied by short text – “captions” but sometimes seeming poetic. She is a poet, as well as a musician, photographer, and writer of other things.

The project came out of her use of Instagram and acceptance of an iPhone as a camera. She takes a photo of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s hat or her partner Fred “Sonic” Smith’s guitar. Things from people she knew. If they have died, then the object remains unused. Objects she does use, such as eyeglasses, writing implements, and manuscripts.

Like Smith, if I am in a café, I have my phone and a notebook nearby. I do record the days. This site in its first year was a kind of book of days with 365 poems and images. But I don’t know what interest a publisher or the public would have in my book of days. I’m not a Patti Smith.

On this day – #338 in the year, she wrote “19 NOVEMBER: Bruno Schulz, the brilliant Polish writer, was shot in the street by a Gestapo officer on this date in 1942. Much of his writing, including a work called The Messiah, was tragically lost in the war. This is Jim Carroll’s heavily thumbed copy of Schulz’s masterpiece The Street of Crocodiles.”

The Fall To-Do List

Plant bulbs and hope you’ll see spring.
Watch celestial showers – Draconids, Orionids, Taurids, Leonids.
Observe wildlife change habits as the trees
change colors. Practice being an evergreen.
Feel the equinox and balance straight up.

Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels.com

I do make many (too many) lists of things to do. I have written about this addiction. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it hurts. I even have seasonal lists of things I need to do in the garden or around the house. A season changes and I change the filters in my furnace and air-conditioning system. Frost comes and I dig up the dead and dying annuals, rake leaves, and add them to the compost.

A group emailed me a list of things to do in autumn. It has lots of the usual things: leaf peeping, apple picking, making and eating fall comfort foods, carving pumpkins, and jumping in leaf piles. But some things on my fall list don’t appear there.

How the Earth’s tilt creates the seasons

She Is Sleeping

She is sleeping now and has been
sleeping for so long in a time
when she is not in love with
me or the world. I want to
shake her, awaken her from this slumber.

My touch only annoys her, she turns
away from me and towards the window
back to another world only she inhabits.
Places here, now, past and places unknown
where I can’t live or even visit.