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  • Writer's pictureRyan Nowlin

Time with the Season

Time with the Season

Time with the season: only she doth carry

June in her eyes, in heart January.

---The Spring, Thomas Carew


Through honeyed leagues of the Northland Border,

a black bear approached a nice lump of fur by Joseph

Beuys or a mud-scape by Anselm Kiefer, a mock

Tantric blue by Ellsworth Kelly and I stood

before Pollocks blizzards of salt loosened

upon Manhattan and all the broken statuary at the Met,

the personal oddly subordinated to the pull

between the easy not so easy emotions and images--

Don’t all flinch from something that shuffles

slantwise through the sleet? A fragment of what

is to come, a good rutsch into the new year

a wall broken loose, something without eyes.

When did an afternoon at the Pines become

something to discard late at night along with

certain perishables. Under the yellowing

light the pickle jar, then peeled peaches.

We drop all pretense. I’ve dusted off my old

answering machine and am going through

the fires of purgatory after having walked the plank

between canvas and typewriter. A skein of geese

white against blue—-Some are outliers, disconnected

from the rest in a tic-tac-toe pattern or the sign

of the cross. Remember, not all those

who wander are lost. Here is a map to fold out area

top themes, weird joys, embattled alleys, districts

of intimacy, willful grease smudge, avenues of relief---

Walking through inevitable constructs, a collision

of realms there are many ways of being caught.


I was beginning to catch the writing bug like Dean,

but lacked the bandwidth to take on anything new.

I thought of Spain before Rudy was born,

and the weird phosphorescent void of Lincoln Tunnel.

A slow opening in the sycamores on a sunlit

morning was the only thing between us and

these random propositions and far out worlds

and seasons, more suggestive of affirmation,

fate and the funny scent from the fungus chewing

its way out of boxes—-Psyllid pouring from

car window. Colors coalesce black and maroon,

inspired by Spain and the film we watched

together on BBC’s Channel Four. Anything can be

dispensable and invaluable—-understated

flirtations, a numb sky, oxymoronic phenomena

like “affordable housing”, the evanescence

of vapor, hard water, the beauty of drifting

trash or a spare cigarette lit and cupped

against the wind in a lyrical gesture

all can be reduced to its nuisances, belabored

propositions or a litany of excuses with some

nagging nostalgia for an Iberian shore

taken in small doses. The list goes on and all

around its margins lies the channel

or a new category . That’s how it goes.

All understand the magic regarding what is open

to me in the repetition. But you, dear reader,

are an in depth person proud and sad

with a face for all weathers and seasons.

I think this is an act of repositioning--

or a darkening of responsibility.


In the white sterility of the frozen food empire

I once lost my mind. What remained was sold to

a grocery outfit. White bear of the poles, white

shark of the tropics—-instances of freezing.

The dank foreboding of our wine cellar, now much

bigger, a metaphysical winter of snow and salt.

The idea that money should settle upon me

like a gentle snowfall, but little snows falls in

March. A place holder word adds nothing to

the familiarized working mind. One’s absence

from the social scene is live-able up to a point.

The Zinc Bar made each arm of Buddhism a tough

sell. Poet identities are in decline these days;

Sipping perceptions from the wine basket of inquiry—-

Or what you’d call uneventful French writing.

Recently, I bought an expensive dog,

a French Griffon and an “armoire comme toutes

les armoires”, stuffed with Parking tickets.

Three or four things had fallen into my lap

unexpectedly, a vacation home and some

mysterious ailment causing me to roll over

onto the stone floor by the hotel pool shaded

by a few sickly palms recesses where tireless

minds display their most secretive and affordable

memories. What if the graph of set expectations

was itself unmoored and you no longer knew

Where you were standing?

To remain goal oriented across a span of time

as one does for a dead-line with purposes

unknown. Something you said in passing

about how we can no longer tell the seasons

by the fruit we find at the market. I guess

there was something practical to learn

in the nursery. I was riveted to a view of the

ocean and the beach ball. The wind didn’t

stop. Without identity all is lost, paper is scarce.

If we use less we’ll have little to say.

My affairs turn out badly, the sky papered

over with flimsy nuances. They cross the limit—-

You’d think, by now I’d be used to the rain

stealing the light and the girls in galoshes

waiting for the drug stores to open.


Is ordinary fruit no longer acceptable? Must it be

pomegranate or mahogany antique? Are puzzlers

found only on $ 100 bills? Are the plazas to be unshaven,

trickling down to the poor like a useless tear?

When sitting next to beautiful people the most

endearing object was always you. Anyway, you’ll

never get to know them not even their Christian names,

with the terrible onslaught of breakfasts, brunches

and phone calls, all that schlepping and shelving

because you don’t want anything extraneous in

your way. Some liked the gorging, yet nothing

happened and they flew away beyond a white wall.

Can you keep up? It’ll take weeks to fill you in on

the savory details. Me, I’m doing ok up here in

my crumbling crows nest. Land ho ( I guess) a newly

minted land called Israel, not part of any one person.

Its boulevards go quickly by, flanked by houses

not built to be lived in, flagstones set for you

to walk on or between. A joyful evening on a sad

occasion is better than the reverse, I suppose.

Nights after my father’s death I carried

my briefcase up and down the stairs to a carrel

in the library. Dorm life was sublime, with its moon-

shaped elevator dials. Footnotes come to mind

and a subsequent march in a continuous succession

of goose steps. Then after a month long hiatus

I resumed donating blood to the Red Cross.

Research made everything take longer, even writing.

A parade of authors. As the visible world disappeared

the word, spit or spirit entered my mind like a distant

steam boat. The fan’s steady whirr of where...where?

Lulls, scolds. Come back into the beyond.

The darkness of a plum high in the plum tree.


Are a deer and her fawn in early morning

watchful, on “alert” a dream or a naive conceit?

Thinking they are unobserved, they bed down

in the mulch, leaves flickering between light

and shadow. To wander from room to room, so quiet,

a hair descends, steps creak, finger tips

drip heat or sitting errant, a little inscrutable

world in a pinprick. This shelter of neglect

and decades long delay, whiskered white

repairs fall from the sky and exit or enter.

The poor light up the island, whispering the “truth”

about “lonesome” Jim, the tortoise who ignored

his companion for ten years before

attempting to mate with her again.

Then he died. A black bird caught a worm

it could not eat all at once. Feigned affection

bounces right off me shining the x-ray

beam on the paint chips in Van Gogh’s beard

( which may have staved off his madness).

I told a stranger about you, movement of superficial

thoughts around an obstinate surface, or a grid of understanding from which one invariably departs.

Still that interaction wasn’t a scene or a support

where something comes to pass and it has nothing to do

with Fantasy—-nothing to interpret not in space or

a space. You’re strange to yourself; Two ones moving

separately. In letters and poems, dualisms, dialectics

tell a friend--whose depth comes to life, or rather

to light---about us.


Three times in my life I’ve heard that cellophane

sound(shrink-wrapping the bloody circumstances until

the words were colorless) standing between a corpse

and an open window on a summer’s day.

I was thinking about what Larry Fagin said

before he died about paradise, poetry and love.

Of those things poetry being the hardest to hang

on to. The big fish was “all head” and very

difficult to catch, but sometimes twenty years

will go by and Le Monde might report that

a certain Mossad assassination had taken place

near the Eiffel Tower with its one pyramid

eye casting a street lamp onto someone’s head.

Then there was a droning sound of a blimp

above the cars that streak past as pressure

builds up in the forehead. You can’t convince

me that I was sharing in some collective

hallucination for a new season and/or a

companionable nostalgia for the Greeks.

“Word on the Street” was always a year ahead

of the cops. A hit was always 2/3 upfront.

Everyone knew that. Their efforts at euphemism

like “planned shrinkage” meant walls of garbage,

broken porticoes, or a scattering of poorness.

Zaftig rats and deafened provincial spiders

that never materialized had loosened their

chokehold. The constant recall, cracked pavement

and bright Christmas trees of blood splatter,

comparison beckon? Everywhere else was Dullsboro.

The evening window dreams: as I do with

the sun fading on the magpie brown carpet.

The cupboards were full of colorful cans.

Can the dog stay put or be whistled inside?

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