Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
The Man Who Loved Not Wisely But At Least Twice

Call him Carl.

Many, many years ago I founded and ran my second magazine in San Francisco. In time, I sold my share out to my partner and, flush with cash for the first time in my life, decided to move to New England with my then live-in love whom I shall always think of as "The Socialite." The Socialite's family was one of the 500 and, although fallen on hard times, they retained their position within high Eastern society because of their illustrious name. Their family seat was in Newport, Rhode Island, and The Socialite would, years later, live there with her husband and their daughters. I think about her from time to time and saw her once five years ago. She'd turned into her mother -- slim, patrician, and slightly nuts.

But this is not about her, or those white nights, or even the oh-so-social summers at Bailey's Beach. This is about Carl, the most unwise lover I ever met. I'm telling you


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 29, 2005 10:18 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Silhouettes

Off the beach and beyond the reef where the breakers slash,
two ships scud in silhouette, struggling towards safe harbors
over sheets of burnished pewter as the rogue wave rises.

The small town's ordered lawns, spattered
with deserted wives and businessmen,
make calm ponds of green, of vacant thoughts of green,
bordered by a planked path that curves
between the grass and the clean and sifted sand.

Once off the path our steps were quick
among the shells of ancient crabs,
the finer grind of granite,
the grey grains of bone and pearl;
among the buried beach glass, the shards
of broken promises and lives,
that, concealed beneath the wave smoothed surface,
would slash a foot set wrong an inch.
And so along the long sands we stepped,
hunched against our wind-tossed histories,
and hurried homeward in the afternoon.

Our pace, pressured as a drunken tambourine,
beat to the sound's small tide that,
cupping emerald seagrass in soft hands,
swelled within the water
as your breasts might when,
caressed by languid fingers
in a careless night, rise
in a rage of heat, up over rocks, and rip salt-flamed
all walls to ruined rubble, and remove
all drowned and rusted monuments to navigation,
that once out of chains the soul chimes
to free the fettered mind from memory that it sing,
and louder sing, until light is taken out of dark,
drowning all of was to raise in dawn what is,
that trumpets scorch the stones and scatter then,
like ancient bones tossed into ash, all the past
lashed onto the slow sea swell withdrawing ,
drowning them down in the eel's dank lair,
into that damp oblivion the stars create
by shining on the waters of the moon.

To drown in one great wave the shore,
the grass, and all the waste of was.
To leave the past annihilate,
as waves once spent, forget their water,
erasing footprints, ash and embers,
single feathers curved for flight,
become glass shadows on the tide moist grass,
or fading fog on silver plashed,
or the listless lift of empty hands,
or the dream sealed in the stone.

(Her skin glowing with a scatter of stars,
the untraced map of forsaken constellations.
Her taste, the tang of seafoam and copper fading
into blue behind the high cirrus.
Her kisses like the pale glimmer of cave fish
born to blindness in the caverns of the sea.
Her thoughts, pale flickers of farewell.)

On the horizon, two trim ships,
their sails set full in silhouette,
merged, and then passed,
and then sailed into the distances

and drowned.

                                    --Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach 2005

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 27, 2005 3:58 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Closing Time

She was cruising down the Big Sur coast,
Looking for a little romance.
I was walking the edge of Highway One,
Hoping for a second chance.

She pulled that Ford to the side of the road.
I opened the door, got in.
Said, "My name's Adam, baby. What's yours?"
She said, "They call me Original Sin."


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 23, 2005 8:33 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Consulting the Oracle

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 22, 2005 7:19 PM | QuickLink: Permalink

I WILL BE ON RETREAT for eight to ten days, so there won't be any new entries during that time. If you'd like, here's a selection of essays from my archives that seem, at least to me, to have some value beyond the moment they were written. Almost all of what I write here and publish here is a first draft so they will have all the flaws commonly found in such essays. This is not, I hasten to add, a digest of the Digest. Only things selected on the run from the archives -- which are, to say the least, chaotic:


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 10, 2005 7:01 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Thoughts While Waking, Showering and Shaving

While I Was Sleeping

BEING NO LONGER COMPELLED to follow every trend of pop music, I missed the moment when the ability to actually sing was removed as a basic requirement for performance, adulation and success. This is not to say I was deaf to the merger of street-corner doo-wop with "doing the dozens" that occurred somewhere during the time when break-dancing on stained cardboard was the money-raising rage on New York streets. Neither was I deaf to the Punk Rock triumph when the ability to play the electric guitar well was deemed to exist once one had learned three, and only three, chords. Nor did I neglect to notice the rise of Rap from it's origin in failed grammar classes in our more deeply disturbed schools of the inner cities.

But everyone has to sleep sometime and while I was sleeping it seems that the ability to sing was tossed out right behind the three chords. The result, if various television and radio spots and commercials are to be credited, is that pop music has become the apotheosis of affirmative entertainment action. No talent other than an obsessive loggorhea of doggerel seems to be required. Song itself has been effectively banished.


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 10, 2005 9:26 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Blog Suite

When I write blog
I am moved by strange whistles and wear a hat

When I write blog
I am the hunter. My prey leaps out from where it
hid, beguiling me with gestures

When I write blog
all may command me, yet I am in command of all who do

When I write blog
I am guided by voices descending from the naked air

When I write blog
A revelation of movement comes to me. They wake now.
Now they want to work or look around. Now they want
drunkenness and heavy food. Now they contrive to love.

When I write blog
I bring the sailor home from the sea. In the back of
my car he fingers the pelt of his maiden

When I write blog
I watch for stragglers in the urban order of things.

When I write blog
I end the only lit and waitful things in miles of
darkened houses

-- Apologies to Lew Welch who disappeared. (Wherever he may be, God rest and keep his Beat soul.)

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 3, 2005 5:21 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Itunes and Apple Come Out as Anti-American and Anti-God

OF THE MANY MILLIONS OF SONGS AVAILABLE ON ITUNES, it is more than just an accident that this one is being given away free at present in the "Alternative" category** : When The President Talks To God

When the president talks to God
Does he ever think that maybe he's not?
That that voice is just inside his head
When he kneels next to the presidential bed
Does he ever smell his own bullshit
When the president talks to God?

At the link above are the complete lyrics to this jejune and uninspired rant that catalogs the ever-revolving whines of the "oppressed" lunatics that pass themselves off as a genuine opposition party. We expect this from them. They literally have nothing else to offer other than unceasing blather in the same well-worn ruts. It's one thing to sell this song, but it is quite another to pander to these sentiments by giving them away in the midst of millions of others that you sell for 99 cents. That's not marketing, that's a statement of corporate policy.


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 2, 2005 3:33 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Avalon, Catalina Island, 01/02/03

In these five years in what I've spent and earned:
Time does not finish a poem.
Upon the old amusement pier I watch
The creeping darkness gather in the west.
Above the giant funhouse and the ghosts
I hear the seagulls call. They're going west
Toward some great Catalina of a dream
Out where the poem ends.
                                             But does it end?
The birds are still in flight. Believe the birds."

-- Jack Spicer, Imaginary Elegies, 1950-55

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 2, 2005 1:40 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Pix and Fonts Newspapers Won't Make It

GLENN REYNOLDS points to the now common tale of newspaper circulation woes published today in the Wall Street Journal: "Newspaper Circulation Continues Decline, Forcing Tough Decisions." The article cites the new numbers coming out on the decline in newspapers circulations across the board that are dire enough to be called hemorrhagic. And while it is obvious that something has to be done to stop the bleeding, everything that is being done seems to open the vein wider.

You know this if you still take and are paying at least passing attention to your local newspaper. It has, you've probably noticed, become more colorful and jazzy in the last few years. It has gone from "Just give the news please" to "Here's a lot of nifty color pictures, graphs, and charts and other PIX along with a fresh selection from our bottomless FONTS collection." I call this the PIX & FONTS DAILY -- a way of presenting something that is supposed to be a "paper on which is printed the news" as a dog's dinner of "Graphics Gone Wild." Pulling the news out of this fornication festival of visual white noise is becoming, really, far too much of a chore. And yet the papers, scared out of being themselves by television news, persist in trying to reinvent themselves as TV news that doesn't move and has no sound.

The sections on pop culture have become popsier. The sections on the home have become homier. Large headlines have become larger, pull-quotes more numerous until they march across the page like some many infolet islands. If it has a comics sections more panels have come in and it has probably expanded to two pages jammed with gag strips but fewer continuing story strips. The front page, especially above the fold, has become not a quick scan of the important and interesting news of the day before, but a kind of carny display of fascinating featurettes you will find inside if you will only ("Please!") take the time to read them.


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 2, 2005 6:52 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Passion of the Pope

[Republished without revision from March 7, 2005]

MORE FEARFUL NOW THAN DEATH, to those fortunate enough to live in the First World, is a long decay before death. We fear mortality but we fear a long morbidity before mortality more.

Living wills. Increases in approved euthanasia in many nations. Personal hordes of pills, "just in case." "Senior care" warehouses to sustain us; to fill us with tubes and place us in a bed that monitors our internals that the least little slide towards death triggers alarms and the staff scuttles in to haul our shattered bodies back again. Rinse and repeat until our 'living' will or tired family frees us. All these are our shared horror show of which we know but seldom speak.

We live more and more, but more and more we do not know how to die.

To teach us this thing the Pope will now enact the lesson, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. His is the ancient church that, teaching First Things in ways many now no longer care to hear, teaches us now about Last Things in ways that many fear to learn. And it is the leader of that Church who, as he


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 2, 2005 12:22 AM | Comments (23)  | QuickLink: Permalink
New York Times Picks Up Borders CEO Letter


Click to enlarge.

Covering the web-wide kerfuffle and building blogger-led boycott of Borders since our publication of the Borders CEO's personal letter to leading bloggers yesterday (See item directly below this one.) the opening text reads:

Borders Blasts Back On Controversial Cartoons
Published: March 31, 2006

Filed at 11:59 p.m. ETNew York, Mar. 31 - Gregory Josefowicz, the combative chairman of Borders Books, blasted back at his on-line critics today in a scathing on-line letter singling out right-wing blogger Charles Johnson of "Little Green Footballs".

FULL STORE AT: Borders Blasts Back On Controversial Cartoons

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 1, 2005 8:11 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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