The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday

The Hammer
By Gerald Stern

What did a foot of snow matter when I
Was upstairs with my hammer banging against
the radiators; and what good was my threadbare
camel's hair coat and white silk scarf inside
that freezing office I paid seven dollars a month
for, including heat; and what did it matter that I
grew up on the wrong side of the Alleghenies
and got the news from New York, oh five, ten years
too late, and was the hammer well balanced or not?
And did I wear my coat when I read and did I
wear the scarf like a babushka or wasn't there
a green beret somewhere, and what did my moustache
have to do with it, and wasn't it fine,
that waiting, and wasn't the floor covered with paper
the way a floor should be, a perfect record of
a year or so in that ruined mountain city
where I spoke out on my side of the burned-over slag heap?


Another from Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in the Sunday The Washington Post Book World on the subject of sonnets. Like Williams, notes Pinsky, Stern gives the form "another kind of affectionate dismantling" in his book American Sonnets, stretching the form to "'twenty lines or so' -- 'Who's counting?'" and asking "what the Muse of Poetry might be up to in an American setting."

I am behind on everything but have had a perfectly lovely weekend with lots of tall ships and water and fun with my kids. Sunday we went to the Alexandria Red Cross Waterfront Festival, where the schooner Sultana (a replica of a 1767 ship from Boston) and the barkentine Gazela (built in the late 19th century in Portugal, restored in 1974) were visiting from Chestertown and Philadelphia respectively, and where the Virginia Marine Science Center brought a traveling aquarium in a truck with Chesapeake Bay creatures and a touch pool. We also saw The Sterling Playmakers (several of whom are members of The Noble Blades) perform pirate sword antics and heard the jazz ensemble Double Digit (the rock portion of the musical entertainment, including 10,000 Maniacs and Lifehouse, played the night before).

We had to leave relatively early in the afternoon to pick my father up from the airport -- my mother is staying at my sister's in New York for the week and keeping the car so he flew home -- and from there we went out to dinner for Father's Day. So I have eaten a great deal over the course of the weekend and been on three tall ships...what more could anyone ask?

Gazela Philadelphia with parrots rescued by the Wilson Parrot Foundation.

Gazela from Sultana. We had seen her dismasted at Penn's Landing, near the Independence Seaport Museum where she docks for the winter, in December.

The Coast Guard brought a ship too. You can see her colorful flags through Sultana's rigging.

A skate in the traveling Virginia Aquarium Ocean in Motion truck.

This festival includes a ferris wheel, merry-go-round and some other rides.

Here is Double Digit performing on the Miller Stage.

Gazela and Sultana again (you can see photos of them from last year as well here). This is from the direction of the stage and fairgrounds, near low tide.

And as I asked yesterday...what's a waterfront festival without pirates?

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