“Some of these stories are closer to my own life than others are, but not one of them is as close as people seem to think.” Alice Murno, from the intro to Moons of Jupiter

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see." Arthur Schopenhauer

“Why does everything you know, and everything you’ve learned, confirm you in what you believed before? Whereas in my case, what I grew up with, and what I thought I believed, is chipped away a little and a little, a fragment then a piece and then a piece more. With every month that passes, the corners are knocked off the certainties of this world: and the next world too. Show me where it says, in the Bible, ‘Purgatory.’ Show me where it says ‘relics, monks, nuns.’ Show me where it says ‘Pope.’” –Thomas Cromwell imagines asking Thomas More—Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

My favorite posts to get started: The Self-Righteousness Instinct, Sabbath Says, Encounters, Inc., and What Makes "Wolf Hall" so Great?.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Lyrical Refutation of Thomas Kinkade

Thomas Kinkade- Christmas Moonlight- courtesy of scenicreflections.com
FIRELIGHT ON A SNOWY NIGHT: A Lyrical Refutation

I was eager to get out when I saw the storm, the swarm of small shadowed blurs descending
in swerves to create
a limn of white, out into the soft glowing sky of a winter night, peering through the
dark as those blurs
become streaking dabs as they pass through spheres of yellow lamplight, countless, endlessly
falling, engulfing
those sad, drooping, fiery lenses depending on their stoic posts.



I think of those Thomas Kinkade pictures my mom loves so much—everybody’s mom
loves so much—
and I have to admit they almost manage to signal it, that feeling, that mood.


Cold, brutal, uncaring wind, and a blanketing blankness of white struggled through
by the yellow and orange
warm vibrant doings of unseen humans, those quaint stone bridges over unimaginably
frigid, deathly chilling water,
somehow in their quaintness, in their suggestion of, insistence on, human ingenuity,
human doggedness, those scenes
hold out the promise of an end to the coldness, an end to the white nothing that fails,
year after year, to blot out world.


Those pictures are lies though—in almost conveying the feeling, the mood, they
do it an injustice.
In willfully ignoring the barren, venous, upward clawing, fleshed branches that rake
the eerily luminescent wind-crowned sky,
and failing to find a symbol to adequately suggest the paradoxical pace of the flakes
falling, endlessly falling
through those yellow, orange spheres of light—hurried but hypnotically slow, frantic
but easily, gracefully falling,
adjusting their cant to invisible, unforeseen and unforeseeable forces.


The story of human warmth defying the frigid, impersonal harshness of a colorless,
lifeless cosmos—
in trying desperately to please, just to please, those pictures offend—that’s
only half the story.
The woman who lit the fire sending out its light through the windows, she’s aging—
every covering of snow
is another year in the ceaseless procession, and the man, who worked so doggedly
at building a scaffold
and laying the stones for that charming bridge, he’s beyond reach of the snow, two or three
generations gone since his generous feat.


The absence of heat is its own type of energy. The wet-lashing night air is charged with it,
like the pause after a breath
awaiting the inevitable inhale—but it holds off, and holds off. Inevitable? Meanwhile,
those charged particles
of shocking white, tiny, but with visible weight—they’d kiss your cheek if you
opened your coat
and you’d know you’d been kissed by someone not alive. The ceaseless falling
and steady accumulation,
hours and days and years—humans create watches and clocks to defy time, but
this relentless rolling over
of green to white, warm to cold, thrilling, rejuvenating spring to contemplative, resigned
autumn, this we watch helplessly,
hopefully, hurtling toward those homes so far beneath the snow.


The air is charged, every flake a tiny ghost—no tinier, though, than any of us merits—
haunting the slippery medium
of night we might glide through so slow, so effortless, so sealed up to keep in our warmth,
turned inward on ourselves.
The hush, the silent yawn, is haunted with humanity’s piled up heap of here and gone,
and haunted too with
our own homeless, friendless, impossibly frightening future.


The homes of neighbors friendly donning matching caps, alike in our mutual blanketing, our
mutual muting.
Those paintings of cozy lit houses in the winter harshness remind me of the juxtaposition
            of fright and absence of true threat,
those opposites we feel when young, the trick, the gift of some masterful ghost story,
            properly told in such a scene,
and this night, snow creaking underfoot like those ill-hinged doors opening all on
their own, raising chills,
this night is haunted too, but less with presence than with utter absence, here and gone,
            all those troubled souls,
their existence of no more consequence than the intricacy suddenly annihilated as it
            collides with the flesh
just beneath my eye, collides and instantly transforms into something more medium
than message and
no sooner lands than begins to evaporate.
Firelight Cottage - Nathan Stillie

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...they’d kiss your check if you
opened your coat and you’d know you’d been kissed by someone not alive"

A beautiful line and something I have often thought, tromping in the snow down the same streets, year after year.

Dennis Junk said...

Ha ha... thanks for catching that misspelling.

Anonymous said...

I didn't even see the error. I was too captivated by the line.