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Month: January, 2015

“Macbeth” – Guiseppe Verdi‏

  "Macbeth" / Welser-Most, Zürich Opera

Macbeth / Welser-Most, Zürich Opera


Giuseppe Verdi’s “Macbeth” has everything
you’d ever want out of even the very best of
Shakespeare’s, but with also music, rich,
passionate, searing

in this production, Thomas Hampson is
every inch Macbeth, warrior, murderer,
king, to date my very favourite incarnation

his wife, Paoletta Marrocu, unknown till
now to me, is a sinuous virago, seductive,
maleficent, deadly, “all the perfumes of
Arabia will not sweeten”
indeed “this
little hand”,
Lady Macbeth usually steals
the show if she’s able, here she does it,
incontrovertibly, again

the witches, dependably weird, malicious,
are mesmerizing, wait for the ghoulish
“Unknown Powers” telling of Birnam
Wood, and prophesying that “none of
woman born / Shall”
neither “harm



do not not watch


psst: “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

“Macbeth”, act 5, scene 5

January, internationally revisited‏

 Fern Coppedge - "January Sunshine"

January Sunshine

Fern Coppedge


friends have written

From: Penticton, B.C., Canada
Subject: Re: “January Sunshine” – Fern Coppedge
Sent: January-23-15 6:00:48 PM
To: me

Wood in the fireplace + scent of bread baking and casserole with onions, garlic, various vegetables, pie in the oven, reading a psychological thriller and wearing comfortable warm clothes. Cocooning…

Thank you for the picture

Have a very pleasant weekend



From: Australia
Subject: Re: “January Sunshine” – Fern Coppedge
Date: January-23-15 6:08:41 PM
To: me

Thanks for this Richard
Now our January at the other side of the world is totally opposite. We have beaches to lie on, fires to fight, koalas to save, frackers to stop, flocks of birds to welcome home, festivals to dance in and the majesty of knowing that to live in this land is an unsurpassable gift.

I believe Canada is as wonderful but with a cooler outlook.

From: Greece
Subject: Re: “January Sunshine” – Fern Coppedge
Date: Sat, 24 Jan 2015 19:20:08 +0200
To: me

Actually this is very much like home for me. My new home that is. This is what my village sort of looked like about a month ago when we had a huge snow fall. The snow has slowly been melting since then and bits of red crumpled Marlboro cigarette packets and now yellowish Amstel cans are appearing. I wait for spring so they can be covered again this time in green.
Thanks again Richard.

Sent from my iPad


here from my picture window the
mountains are shrouded in cloud,
the rain, adamant yet gentle, has
been relentless the past few days,
though the clement temperature
has risen to a balmy 12, a weather
front wafting in from Hawaii

under my paisley umbrella soon
I’ll be off to read Shakespeare with
a friend, to add poetry to an
otherwise grey day, with only the
glow yet of cherry blossoms, like
radiant little rosy souls, prefiguring,
on the limbering branches of still
skeletal trees, the advent of an
already resurgent spring


psst: but what is January in the great
scheme of things, in the universe,
but an anthropomorphous
poeticization of, however
significant, a localized merely,
and only incidental there even,
condition, however global

January is, in other words, one’s
particular potential, I gather, for
poetry, what you make of it

which should apply, theoretically
of course, to everything

if you’ll allow me the extrapolation


"January Sunshine" - Fern Coppedge

January Sunshine

Fern Coppedge


it might be late in the month to send out
this evocation of January, nothing at all
like home, but full of its emotions, things
cropped up, discretion, reserve, the
considerations, if you’ll believe it, of a
writer, not to mention a poet, no matter
how glib, as well as the lethargy of
hibernation, dishes to wash, hackers
to counter, dinners out, less clement
weather, in other words, January

I promise February will show up on time


watching water boil‏

 "Water Album - Ten Thousand Riplets on the Yangzi" - Ma Yuan

Water Album – Ten Thousand Riplets on the Yangzi

Ma Yuan


I’ve got something for you, I said to
a friend when she fretted again about
a condition, one of several, dare I say,
eating away at her, though from the
inside, I believe, instead of the outside,
if you know what I mean

my tremor, she explained, something
I’d indeed earlier noted, and
commented on

my doctor said it wasn’t Parkinson’s
and I want a second opinion, she said,
he’s referred me to a neurologist

what did your doctor say it was, I

just nerves, she answered

I’ve always thought it was just
nerves, I said, stress

but I don’t think I’m stressed, she

you’re stressed right now, I retorted

have you been meditating, I asked,
like I suggested

no, she said, I just can’t get into it

I know, I know, I responded, listen,
this is why I called, I just figured
this out, I’ve been boiling water to
rinse my dishes for a while now,
ever since the water alert several
years ago when the water went
brown, I’ve got one or even several
pots behind me on the stove heating
while I’m washing the dishes, most
often I’m finished before the water

I still have my plastic gloves on, I
don’t want to take them prematurely
off, so I either watch the water boil
or look at the mountains from my
window, both of which can get

the mountains mostly win out but
then I have to turn back to check
on the water, and I’m back where
I started, watching the water boil

a watched pot never boils, this’d
be great for your condition

excuse me, she said

watch a pot of water boil, I said,
you probably won’t watch it from
start to finish, but

she started to laugh

you can start watching after several
minutes, you don’t even have to

she continued to laugh

watch it till it boils, every day you
can add minutes

she didn’t stop laughing

doesn’t that sound logical, I asked,
all she’d need was will, which’d get
rid of her tremor, I concluded

later I could’ve added that if you’re
diligent, which is to say patient, calm
you’ll start to more precisely define
the word “boil”, have 32 names for
it like Eskimos do for snow

from simmer, shimmer, steam and
hover, stir, roil, ripple and shudder,
to “Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble”,
for instance

a note to myself, do the same thing
with “mountain”


“Macbeth” – William Shakespeare‏

Henry Fuseli - "'Macbeth', Act I, Scene 3, the Weird Sisters"

‘Macbeth’, Act I, Scene 3, the Weird Sisters (1783)

Henry Fuseli


Judy Dench is Lady Macbeth, Ian McKellen
her consort, in this superb production by
Trevor Nunn

also great witches



walking in beauty – January 11, 2015 (for Terry)

Paul Gauguin - "The Cellist (Portrait of Upaupa Scheklud)"

The Cellist (Portrait of Upaupa Scheklud) (1894)

Paul Gauguin


what are you reading, Terry asked,
I’d been riffling through the pages
of a book I’d just finished, trying to
find a particular bit I wanted for
firm ground later in conversations

a man in Sarajevo during the siege,
July 5, 1992 to February 29, 1996,
the bit I’d been looking for, had seen
neighbours, 22 of them, killed when
a mortar from the surrounding hills
had, as they waited in line for a much
depleted market, a consequence of
the siege, obliterated them, arms,
feet everywhere, as well as the

the man, a cellist with a Sarajevo
symphony, probably its finest, had
resolved, in honour of the victims,
to come out to play each day, at
the very time, in the very place of
the atrocity, for 22 days, one for
each of the victims, despite being
each time in the very eye of a
sniper’s bullet, Albinoni’s haunting
, listen

he made it out eventually to Ireland,
it is later indicated

The Cellist of Sarajevo“, I replied,
I’m taking it back to the library, I
needed to check some dates, I
write, I want to talk about it

I’ve been talking about walking in
beauty, I said, incorporating it into
one’s life, this man overcame his
fear of death so profoundly as to
deliver a very dirge, an act of
prodigious, even transcendental
meditation, to sit and play midst
the rubble and ashes of his friends
this tribute, how sound must’ve
been his conviction

walking in beauty, I said, it’s a
Navajo prayer

Wordsworth has a poem like that he
said, and recited it word for word

“She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!”, he said

I was flabbergasted, I had only my
few lines of Shakespeare to compare

I’m Richard, I said

Terry, he retorted

I can’t talk now, I’m off, if you can
believe it, to read Shakespeare with
a friend, we’ll meet again, you’re easy
to spot, you’ve got no shoes, you’re
barefoot, my mom has talked about
you, you always say hello, she says,
she thinks you’re a nice man

Terry had his sandals in his hand,
he stood under his umbrella, I
hadn’t opened mine, he was trying
to shield me also from, for me, the
merely mist, not rain, despite a
rod stretched unhooked from his
otherwise sufficient cover from
the wet

can you remember my e-mail, he
offered, it’s easy

I wrote it on the battered flyleaf
of my Shakespeare

that’s a relic, he said

my International Collector’s Library,
I answered, that’s where I got my
literature when I was a boy, in my
little town of Timmins, an outpost,
I’d get a classic every month, each
bound distinctively, their gimmick

you could get money for that, he

not, like this, I said, it’s in tatters

I’ll tell my mom I talked to you, I said,
she’ll be delighted

Tony, right

Terry, he corrected

Richard, I said


later he thought I’d been Michael


psst: it turns out the poem is by Byron,
not Wordsworth, not surprising,from
this distance all the Romantic poets
sound alike, except for, of course,
the Brownings, an inconsequential

walking in beauty – January 10, 2015‏

 Osias Beert  - "Still Life of a Roast Chicken a Ham and Olives on Pewter Plates with a Bread Roll an Orange Wineglasses and a Rose on a Wooden Table"

Still Life of a Roast Chicken, a Ham and Olives on Pewter Plates
with a Bread Roll, an Orange, Wineglasses and a Rose on a
Wooden Table

Osias Beert


it didn’t take long before I realized that
walking in beauty is not an exterior thing
but interior, it happens on the inside,
what there is to see out there is indifferent,
neutral, beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the

one graces the object, the situation, the
passing of time and space, with one’s
perspective, actually calling a thing
beautiful makes it so, making it so
defines who you are, so does not making
it so, succumbing to what life has to give
you instead of touching up the cracks,
beauty is the colour you paint the house
you live in, you choose the paint

Ahh, but there is beauty in those ‘grey bleak uninviting days’ least in the eyes of this beholder. I think of it as shades of silver and blue. And like the song says, “where the sun always shines, there’s a desert below..” la la la.

a friend writes, who’s chosen her paint,
turned grey into silver and blue

today my paint smells like chicken
roasting in the oven, in garlic and
ginger, with soya sauce, breadcrumbs
and butter

also fresh laundry

also still not being out of my pyjamas

thanks, Lynne


walking in beauty – January 9, 2015‏

Vincent van Gogh - "Orchard in Blossom (Plum Trees)"

Orchard in Blossom (Plum Trees) (1888)

Vincent van Gogh


walking in beauty must be a conscious
thing, you don’t wake up doing it in the
morning unless you train yourself to

for the past few days I’ve incorporated
the prayer, am intending to learn it
through, not just its kernel, however
itself highly inspirational

In beauty I walk.
With beauty before me I walk.
With beauty behind me I walk.
With beauty around me I walk
With beauty above me I walk.
With beauty below me I walk
In beauty all is made whole.
In beauty all is restored.
In my youth I am aware of it, and
In old age I shall walk quietly the beautiful trail.
In beauty it is begun.
In beauty it is ended.

during the past several days the weather
has been grey, bleak, uninviting, there
was beauty only in the candles I lit, the
pyjamas I never took off, and, truth be
told, the chicken I broiled with soya
sauce, lemon juice and honey, with
baby carrots to dip, and carrot cake to
top it all off, with lots of icing

nor do I ever run out of wine

what’s not beautiful about that, I needed
to conclude after all those days moping,
feeling sorry for myself

I said the same to a friend today over
lunch, at presently the best restaurant
in Vancouver
, there she sat poised,
dripping in grace, a tailored olive
jacket, an ochre pendant with a light
brown scarf wrapped loosely around
her neck, stretched towards me with
just the right amount of both discretion
and attention, presenting her Mona Lisa
, as she’d herself called it

she had crossed her defunct great love
inadvertently somewhere, his jaw had
dropped, she had smiled that mysterious
smile, she told me, and slipped beyond
his ken

should I go to Australia, she asked,
where her nephew’s daughter is
getting married, it’s hot, it’s humid,
it’s a long trip, I could die on the

every time I go downtown, I think I
might not make it, I retorted, but I do,
and I don’t

when was the last time you saw your
nephew, I asked

four or five years ago, she replied

you love him, he loves you, he would
be so honoured, I said, and if you die
on the way he’ll still be honoured,
they all will

this is how you walk in beauty, I said,
you latch onto the poem as it passes,
they’re fleeting, be they ever so many,
we let them go by, they would’ve been
our memories, instead of our default
position, where you could die anyway

today I left home, I said, saw my first
cherry blossoms of the season, midst
the gnarled van Gogh branches of the
other trees lining both sides of the
street, emerald moss growing already
along their trunks

a woman selling wares mouthing the
words to Billy Holiday’s “God Bless
the Child”
so that I thought she’d
been the one singing

beside her someone selling wooden
marionettes he was dangling, grinning,
trying to look enchanting in his Charlie
Chaplin clothes, looking more like
Ebenezer Scrooge, a wolf in sheep’s

but a cover of You, You’re Driving
Me Crazy
I sent Apollo, my Sun God,
for ukulele, megaphone, and of course
voice, inspired me more than anything
else today, I continued, turned my
frustration into poetry, how not to
mope, he’s been gone since before
C***mas, much too long

beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in
beauty all is made whole

to walking in beauty, we toasted


walking in beauty – January 6, 2015

Ivan Generalic  - "Winter landscape" (1978)

Winter landscape (1978)

Ivan Generalic


walking in beauty today, a proposition
I’ve taken on from a Navajo prayer as
a daily resolution, I of course looked for
beautiful things, literally at first, roses,
fresh air, sunlight, off to get some
Gerolsteiner, mineral water, at three
bottles for three dollars, a dollar
apiece, usually 2.29, to douse my
white wine, of which otherwise I drink
too liberally, some think, I’d pick up
my medication on the way, for blood
pressure, high cholesterol, geriatric
insufficiencies, drop off empties

in the mall, after the pharmacy, Richard
waved, another Richard, a vagrant, who
calls me buddy whenever I see him,
which is often, he used to sleep behind
the garbage bins at my place until
someone kicked him out, he’d greet me
effusively there every time I took out the
trash, hey buddy

that’s my name too, I said, I’d heard him
called Richard by one of his friends, but
that didn’t seem to register, he was in his
own other world

you know Rami, he said

not Rumi, I thought, the Persian poet,
surely not Rumi

not Rumi, the Persian poet, I asked,
ready, however inconceivably, for
maybe some Rumi, even only partly

Rami, Rami, he replied, your

Remy, I laughed, my superintendent,
of course I know Rami

he took us out to New Year’s dinner, he
said, whereupon I was utterly inspired,
I’d never given Richard a dime, never
mind dinner

what a nice man, I admired

I shook his hand, it was warm, firm,
friendly, have a good new year, Richard

later I told Remy

you’re making the world a better place,
I told him, have a happy new year too,
you’re wonderful

he told me he hires Richard around the
yard, for landscaping, he usually spends
his pay at the liquor store

what are your plans for 2015, Remy had
asked him, I take it one day at a time,
Richard replied, Remy calls him Rick

the courage, Remy said of him, the

later while I waited for the elevator, a
young tenant in my building, a sport,
came through the front door, how ‘re
you doin’, I asked, he’d been to
Penticton for the holidays

you, he asked

quiet, I said, family, you know, everybody
older than I am, if you can believe it

wow, he replied

wow indeed, I said back

later still, Mom and I went to dinner,
a nearby haunt, were given again
Frangelicos there on the house

to walking in beauty, we toasted,
counting our myriad blessings

she looked as ever exquisite

she wants to start a foundation, from
the money she’s going to get from
having reread The Secret“, to help
all the people she wants to help, she

go girl, I said


something to start the year with, 2015

the Tony Awards

the Tony Awards


on winning a Tony for Black and Blue“,
Ruth Brown said

“what I am is God’s gift to me,
and what I’ve made of myself
is my gift to Him”

words that easily could become a

we are gifts, think about it

all the very best