Cover to Cover with Jack Foley

Cover to Cover with Jack Foley & Nina Serrano – January 2, 2019: The New Year

Today’s show will feature, among other things, “Julie, Painted, Going Up the Stairs,” Bruce Isaacson’s deeply moving tribute to the late Julia Vinograd, written and read to Julia as she lay dying. Bruce’s poem begins,

After he was intubated four days…

After the drugs that kept him in a stupor

wore off…

After they satisfied the gods of

cost containment

by shipping him like a ham to a nursing home,

finally he awoke

and started climbing out of the bed

raving about his

management responsibilities.

We’re all pulled along by beliefs.

Fortunately, his had six-inch rails on the bed.

I’ve always known Julie to be linked

at that cellular level to Poetry but

if there were rails, she merely dreamed them away.

Poetry has more power than is known.

The show will also feature some sprightly songs composed and sung by San José’s own Tony Perez, with lyrics by Jack Foley. Here is a sample of one:

LIFE IS WHAT YOU DO WHILE WAITING

FOR THE NOTHING TRAIN TO COME INTO YOUR STATION

There’s a great world coming tomorrow

But tomorrow’s never here

There’s a great big rainbow in heaven

But the rain just won’t appear

How ’bout that fortunate winner

Why is he never me

I am just a weary sinner—

Waiting for the summer

Is a bummer.

In this world of whimsy and wisecracks

In this world of make believe

Life is what you do while waiting

For another dream to leave

This is Nina’s poem of Thanksgiving, this year:

A Poem of Thanksgiving 2018

We have just lived

through epic and dramatic days

when our external lives

dominated the inner

beginning with the felt imperative

that I had to get out the vote

and not forget to vote myself

The tsunami of fascism rising on the horizon

had to be stopped

Then the environment turned smoky

The sun turned red

The skies dark and murky

People wore masks covering fear and dread

The children grew wild with being kept inside

Adults longed to open the windows

for fresh air

precious air

The president visited and offered his scornful advice

for our dead neighbors

and over 7000 newly made homeless

camping out in a parking lot

sleeping in cars and in tents

He blamed the tree huggers

and lovers of trees for this disaster

amidst charges of election fraud

and demands for recounts

The wind shifted and rain fell

Liberation

Coinciding with the official Day of Thanks

and the dawning acknowledgement

that we rest uneasy on Indian lands

the rains offer puddles for reflection

as the interior world shyly reemerges

I prepare like the legendary grasshoppers and ants

for the interior journey of the upcoming solstice

and the coming darkness

where solutions incubate and evolve

And this is Jack’s tribute to Walt Whitman’s great poem, “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”:

I don’t think there is another poem

More unique

And, simultaneously,

More representative of

What we may call the American spirit

Than this amazing

Presentation of the making of a poet

Of the transformation of anyone

From childhood to a condition of knowledge

How do we enter the world in a deep way

It is an aria, a performance

Something Whitman saw in the opera houses,

It is a multi-voiced, multi-selved poem in which

All sorts of styles and “voices” are brought together

(Including the hissing voice of the old crone, the sea, and the voice of the bird, “my dusky demon and brother,” “the lone singer wonderful”)

It is a poem about family (the he-bird, the she-bird)

It is a poem about the stunning fact of Death the Opener

And the great representation of the sea (Melville)

(The sea is the openness of consciousness)

It is a nature poem

In which the “outsetting bard” merges with what he sees

It includes Quakers (“Ninth-month midnight”)

And Native Americans (“Paumanok”)

It is Whitman giving himself over to the sheer possibilities of music

As world becomes word (“translating”)

It is an act of marvelous empathy and compassion in the literal sense, “feeling with”

It is a poem about the body and its transformation

Even as Whitman speaks of the soul

It is a poem in which the lorn bird and the transforming boy

Move us to what Wallace Stevens called

A new representation of reality.

This, camerados, is the great mythic moment of American letters

And it takes place not at a desk but outside,

Not as writing but as brilliant spontaneous unexpected utterance.

It ushers in (under the magical multivalent moon, in the presence of the vast, talkative

                     sea)

Nothing less than the world as song.

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