Possibly a Crow
By Jean L. Connor
Something about the slow
wingbeat, the size, the print
of black against the low gray sky;
the bird's entering, but
even more, his leaving,
an absence marked by
the sudden widening out
of space, the sky still receptive
to brush strokes of black
long after they have ended. Then,
peace, soft, akin
to mist-like rain
and in the quiet,
the deepened need
to go on.
From here, Rafael Campo's review of poetry about peace from last Sunday's Washington Post Book World. "Political poetry today is, as ever, a vexed enterprise," he writes. "On one side are those who feel that poetry is no place for politics; they cleave to W.H. Auden's famous statement that 'poetry makes nothing happen.' But others interpret Auden entirely differently, citing some of his own more expressly political poetry, and declaring that the poetic impulse is inherently an activist one, a call to community engagement." The books, he says, "are not so much an argument against war as they are testimony to our abiding desire for peace." Connor, he adds, "makes a singular beauty of the receding blackness of the ominous bird. Peace, for this superb poet, is our ability to make sense out of fear, to make care and feeling from our own inescapable, insatiable needs."
I absolutely loved that poem, and somehow it seemed to go with these photos from Wednesday of the house where Abraham Lincoln died. I'm just going to reproduce the placards verbatim:
Between visits to her husband's bedside, Mary Lincoln waited in this parlor with her son Robert and friends of the Lincoln family.
In this bedroom, Secretary of War Stanton held several cabinet meetings, interviewed witnesses, and ordered the pursuit of the assassins.
Quiet day. Wrote articles on Patrick Stewart (being Marc Antony) and John Billingsley (being a goofball). Had lunch with the lovely gblvr, for whom I waited in a bookstore and read part of The Secret Supper while waiting for her. It was ringing all my Treasure of Montsegur/Lempriere's Dictionary/Da Vinci Code bells, so has anyone read it? I don't care if the art analysis isn't accurate or the mystery is mediocre -- Dan Brown's formulaic writing did not ruin Angels and Demons for me, though I enjoyed it rather less in Digital Fortress. I just love historical religious conspiracy novels. (And hey, Baigent and Leigh, they work better than claiming you are writing non-fiction, then suing successful fiction writers who cite you!) Younger son had soccer practice in the early evening, older son decided he wanted to go shoot baskets with apaulled while he was playing. apaulled also got me Columbia Games' Waterloo card game!
Thursday is now a big TV night, since they moved Commander in Chief too late for my kids to watch. They seem to be trying to get back to the original formula in which Donald Sutherland's character is a scheming jerk and Natasha Henstridge is his evil associate, but the stories are all agonizingly formulaic. At a quarter after, the president is insisting that she is going to stick to her plan. At half past, she is considering selling out her principles. At a quarter of, some twist has allowed her to get her way and make a speech about how the American people are smarter than the press gives them credit for. And at the end of the show there's some vaguely unfinished business but everyone announces how great she is, in case we the viewers might somehow fail to think that (this week the intolerably bad actress trying to be press secretary had someone say it to her too, which just...ugh. Have these writers never heard of show, don't tell?). Anyway, I suspect the show will not be back next season given its plummeting ratings and I can't even really be sorry, which is sad because Geena Davis as president could have been so fantastic. Fortunately, we also get Smallville, which we missed last week while sightseeing! And this week there was almost no Lana and lots and lots of Lionel, who gets kidnapped by a fan fiction writer!
Okay, not really, but it felt that way, and I mean that in a GOOD sense. While Lionel is pledging his life to Martha Kent (who is SO going to be shagging him by the end of the season please please please), Lex is making speeches to Clark about how now that they're working together to rescue their parents, maybe they can snuggle, er, be friends again! I was in heaven through the whole episode. First Lionel has to play hangman on his laptop, which has been taken over by an evil guy in a tinfoil mask, to survive a train wreck. The answer is his own motto, "No Mercy," which Tinfoil Man says he learned from Lionel. Of course Lionel gets away and immediately assumes it was Lex who tried to kill him...news flash, Lionel, if Lex had you locked in a car on the train tracks and wanted you dead, he wouldn't have unlocked the doors. Lex is studying chess so he can teach Lana, because of course that's what Lex wants to do with a woman! When Lionel accuses his loving son of trying to kill him, Lex says, "Luthorcorp profits are up...why would I want you dead?" Hahahaha! And then Lex explains that seeing Lionel fail miserably in his bid to retake Luthercorp was retribution enough for the attempt. "I may not like you very much, Dad, but you're a valuable asset to Luthorcorp." Lionel says his concern is truly touching. Lionel is the hottest thing around and he hasn't even taken off his shirt yet.
But then Lionel gets abducted from his office by Tinfoil Man, whose first order of business is to put Lionel in a scenario where he's wearing nothing but a sleeveless undershirt and sweating. He makes grandiose speeches about how he's just another faceless employee and Lionel commands his workers to carry the burden of his empire. Tinfoil Man, whom I think I shall call Fanfic Writer from now on, has already killed Lionel's chauffeur so he can show Lionel a videotape proving the same thing will happen to Lionel if he doesn't play the game correctly. Fanfic Writer then gives Lionel the Indiana Jones "Justice" Tarot Card test, and when Lionel successfully balances the scales while walking through the flames of perdition -- where he yet again claims he didn't kill his parents, I wonder whether we'll ever get conclusive information on that one -- he discovers that Martha has been put by Fanfic Writer in a soundproof glass room that is filling with water! Lionel has to solve a word scramble or she will die! Martha is, of course, completely underwater with her hair flying everywhere when Lionel solves the puzzle, so he gets to embrace her when she collapses, though unfortunately he does not administer mouth-to-mouth. "Genuine concern for another human being? I suspected your relationship with the Senator was more than just political," says Fanfic Writer, who then makes them move on to the third task by threatening to electrocute them.
Meanwhile, one minute Lex is teaching Lana chess and professing that he wil never, ever, ever forget kissing her and the next, he's off to find Daddy, discovering when Clark (who has learned from Martha how Lionel found out his secret...because she trusted Lionel) storms through the door demanding to know where Mommy is. Chloe uses her Super Duper Tracking Skills to figure out where Lionel and Martha have been dragged off to, and Lex tells Clark it's a shame it takes a crisis to get them in the same room together. "Maybe after all this we can try to find our way back," he suggests. But once Clark finds out where Martha and Lionel really are, during a private conversation with Chloe while Lex is consulting his security guy, he super-speeds off. Where Martha and Lionel really are is in an elevator, where Fanfic Man gives them a variant of the Love Test from Space: 1999! My kind of villain! Before he explains the test, though, Lionel explains to Martha about having tried to take over Luthercorp from Lex and how he really did it as a teaching exercise, to remove the temptations of power and money so Lex could rediscover his own humanity. Martha, inimitably, replies, "Did you ever think of talking to him, father to son?" (At this point my whole family was howling.) That might work in the Kent family, but Lex is not Clark and I'm not the father Jonathan Kent was, protests Lionel, who's so much better than the material it's not funny. And he's still wearing that wife-beater.
So the plan is this: There's a gun in the elevator (one of those big open cage-like ones, you can see out the top, sides and bottom). Lionel either has to shoot Martha or let her shoot him or the elevator will fall. "I'm sorry, Martha, please forgive me," says Lionel, who then insists that she has to shoot him. "You're good. So many people depend on you, especially Clark. What a special boy he is." Lex -- who is watching this on the computer that Fanfic Writer has helpfully left for him -- raises his eyebrows. Martha shrieks that she can't shoot Lionel, so he says he'll do it himself, but the gun's not loaded! Lionel rants that the game was rigged, but Fanfic Writer -- who reveals himself to be the security guy who swept his office for bugs after the train wreck incident -- says that Lionel should know some games are rigged. Lionel begs him to let Martha go, please please please, while she cries. "I'm sorry," Lionel says all teary and heartfelt, and Fanfic Writer says that's all he wanted to hear...and drops the elevator down the shaft. At which point Clark, of course, spots it coming down and stops it. Lionel and Martha can both see him beneath the cage. "That was...miraculous," Lionel says, and calls Clark "son." Did I mention that he needs to wear nothing but sweaty undershirts in more episodes?
So Lex visits Dad, who lies and says the elevator brakes saved their lives, but Lex knows that the brakes were disabled. He's kind of curious what Lionel meant when he told Martha that Clark was a special boy -- oh, the envy, the jealousy, the lust! Lex is also kind of curious about where Clark went after he supersped away -- one minute standing in the same room, the next he's across town -- and Lionel says, "You're still obsessing over him after all these years." Even my nine-year-old hooted at that! Yes, I watch this show just for moments like that and I don't care if it makes me a loser. Elsewhere, Martha is telling the simple farm boy that Lionel is no saint but this wasn't his fault -- he was willing to sacrifice himself for Clark's future -- but Clark insists that Lionel never does anything that doesn't benefit him in the end. He visits Lionel, who admits he's known about Clark since he touched the crystal that put him in a coma a year ago. "To reveal your secret would change your destiny and it would harm someone I care about very deeply," declares Lionel, who looks awfully excited when Clark gets in his face -- and I mean in his FACE, there are like two inches between them, I hope Tom Welling and John Glover both brushed their teeth