Thursday, November 21, 2013


In a quiet dusty corner

            on the north porch

Some farmers eating lunch on the steps,

Up high behind a beam: a small

               carved wood panel

Of leaves, twisting tree trunk,

Ivy, and a sleek fine-haired Doe.

               a six-point Buck in front

Head crooked back, watching her.

The great tile roof sweeps up

& floats a grey shale

Mountain over the town.

Note:  Have you ever known, really known, a deer?  I've had that pleasure and bucks, does and fawns have been our friends.  

It wasn't that many years ago, but it seems like a long time now.  

I think most people have heard (in one context or another with one meaning or another) the sentiment expressed that "9/11 changed everything."   I agree with that, i.e., it was that way for me.

I actually heard someone say it today, in an art history lecture called "Imaging Disaster," describing September 1, 1923 when the world ended at 11:58 a.m. in Tokyo. 


  1. Curtis,
    This is a wonderful piece by Snyder. I remember coming from school,back when i was 11 years old..Watching the twin towers collapse. It was at that time, the only piece of news i could make sense of..somehow it got complicated in the following years..

    1. Manik: Hi. I'm glad you liked this. I also think it's a wonderful piece. I read it at my desk last night in a Penguin collection called, I think, The Beat Reader, which I found at an excellent local "old book" store (very few of them left) nearby called The Title Page. I absented myself from my office (not so hard; I work from home) that afternoon to attend a lecture by an art history professor named Genifer Weisenfeld at my old college concerning the visual art that flowed from the 1923 Kanto earthquake in Japan. The most affecting items for me were the disaster postcards that were created as a kind of cottage industry, which circulated widely, and the extremely energetic assortment of manga work. Prof. Weisenfeld, who gave a good talk, larded it nonetheless with all sorts of headache inducing academic jargon, but her material was so powerful that you couldn't shake it. My family and I moved back to Philadelphia several years ago, but we were in NY most of our adult lives and 9/11 shook us to the core and, I'm afraid, still does. We were returning to work on Tuesday from a long weekend at the beach and we were just a few hundred yards from the George Washington Bridge when the first plane struck, which led them immediately to close down the highway. (We were lucky; had we made it into NYC, we would have been trapped there for a couple of days with no place to stay and away from our daughter.) They managed to "turn the highway around" and about 5 hours later we were home and, via the radio, the police and other drivers similarly situated, quite aware of all the events that were occurring. Every year when I have my medical checkup I mention to my doctor that I haven't been the same since 9/11 and he tells me that a lot of people say that. But hey -- everything's ok. And that Gary Snyder poem, like your note, raised my spirits. Now I'll get back to doing what lawyers sometimes do and write a letter filled with insincere outrage. It's a living. Curtis

  2. Insincere outrage..Haha..Love that..yes do that..but what a sincere analysis of the defining event of many lives will tell you that it was the sincere commitment of a handful of men to give up theirs'. Sometimes it is difficult to understand why people do/what they do. Most terrifyingly we would understand their actions better who jumped from the flaming windows that day. Not the ones who had a full grasp of their senses and probably of the obscene plan. No wonder it changed people..

    1. One particular aspect of the obscene plan I will never understand is how men, knowing they were flying large groups of schoolchildren, could murder them in this way. Murder is murder, of course, but that astonishes me. I don't know any New Yorkers who weren't affected by the events. But I do know any number of Americans, including some people I like, who were totally unaffected. A couple of years after 9/11 I joined a company based in Chicago and I traveled there frequently and spent as much time there as at home. I met a lot of people who weren't merely indifferent to 9/11, but who would routinely compare body counts of horrific events and grade these incidents based on the total number of victims. Although one might say that's "one way of doing it," obviously the whole exercise is pointless and heartless. But these were business colleagues and others I needed to get along with. I guess that's why you have a personal life. I suppose the strangest post-9/11 illusion I shared with most people was that there were going to be survivors, that people on the missing persons signs were actually going to turn up one day. Terrible. A friend of mine, an IT executive at Deutsche Bank, worked at one of the adjacent buildings and his stories are awful. He was lucky -- his boss told the office immediately to leave the building, get far away and not to return. Curtis