playing favorites against the avalanche…

It’s poetry Tuesday and of course I’m playing favorites. I do that. Ask anyone.  It isn’t that I am not open to new poets. It’s more that I’m fighting hard against the oncoming avalanche that appears to eat up Advent every single year.  As much as I hope to sit safely, high up in the lodge before a roaring fire each Advent I look down at my feet around mid December to find I’m knee-deep in beautiful, bitter cold snow and the wall of white is rushing toward me at alarming speed. It is then that I realize the snow consists of expectations and responsibilities, real and imagined. I contemplate my options, run like Hell or stand and let it hit me, full on. I may never feel the impact, who knows.

At this moment I find the third way- a small cave in the side of the hill, maybe not even a cave but a deep indentation in the rock, like a cupped palm waiting for a curved body, just big enough to hold me, protect me in some fashion. It’s not a lodge but it’ll do.  And so, rather than seek out new information, new poets, new choices I’m taking the well-worn and familiar favorites. You needed to be reminded of this poem anyhow. I can sense that.

Huddle in here with me, lots of room…



-Scott Cairns

Well, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas—everywhere, children eyeing the bright lights and colorful goods, traffic a good deal worse than usual and most adults in view looking a little puzzled, blinking their eyes against the assault of stammering bulbs and public displays of goodwill. We were all embarrassed, frankly, the haves and the have-nots—all of us aware something had gone far wrong with an entire season, something had eluded us. And, well, it was strenuous, trying to recall what it was that had charmed us so, back when we were much smaller and more oblivious than not concerning the weather, mass marketing, the insufficiently hidden faces behind those white beards and other jolly gear. And there was something else: a general diminishment whose symptoms included the Xs in Xmas, shortened tempers, and the aggressive abandon with which most celebrants seemed to push their shiny cars about. All of this seemed to accumulate like wet snow, or like the fog with which our habitual inversion tried to choke us, or to blank us out altogether, so that, of a given night, all that appeared over the mess we had made of the season was what might be described as a nearly obscured radiance, just visible through the gauze, either the moon disguised by a winter veil, or some lost star—isolated, distant, sadly dismissing of us, and of all our expertly managed scene.

-from the Compass of Affection: Poems New and Selected

(buy this book if you want to live….I mean, if you want to live well)


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