September 4, 2014
© Nicole Tung. Remembering James Foley—yesterday, the Academy of American Poets published this poem on their daily poem-a-day blog. Daniel Johnson wrote it over the course of Jim’s 656-day captivity and talks about their friendship and a bit more about Jim, HERE.
In the Absence of Sparrows




by Daniel Johnson




Rockets concuss. Guns rattle off.
Dogs in a public square
feed on dead horses.

I don’t know, Jim, where you are.
When did you last see
birds? The winter sky in Boston

is gray with flu. Newspapers,
senators, friends, even your mom
on Good Morning America—

no one knows where you are.
It’s night, cold and bruised,
where you are. Plastic twine binds

your hands. You wait and pray, pray
and wait, but this is where the picture goes gray.
We don’t know, Jim, where you are.


                                    *


In the absence of sparrows: a crowd of friends and family gather in Rochester,
New Hampshire to recite the holy rosary.


                                    *


We keep your picture on the kitchen table, pack of American Spirits,
airplane bottle of Scotch, a copy of Krapp’s Last Tape.


Don’t get me wrong; we expect you back. Skinny, feral,
coffee eyes sunken but alive, you’ve always come back, from Iraq,

Syria, Afghanistan, even Libya after Gaddafi’s forces
captured and held you for 44 days. You tracked time scratching

marks with your zipper on prison walls, scrawling notes on cigarette
boxes, reciting the Koran with other prisoners. Then, you called.

DJ, it’s Jimmy…I’m in New Hampshire, brother! I wanted
to break your fucking nose. We ate lobster rolls, instead,

on a picnic bench by Boston Harbor. You made a quick round
of TV shows, packed your camera and Arabic phrasebook.

You skipped town on a plane to Turkey. We talked once. You said
you’d play it safe. The connection was lost.


                                    *


In the absence of sparrows: American journalist James Foley disappeared
after being taken captive by armed gunmen near Aleppo, Syria on Thanksgiving Day.

In the absence of sparrows: our house burns blue with news.


                                    *


Winter solstice, 1991. You turned donuts,
drinking beers, in a snowy public lot next to the lake.
Girls yelped. You cranked the Pixies louder, cut the lights,
and steered Billy’s grandma’s Chrysler onto the Winnipesaukee ice.
The moon flamed bright as a county coroner’s light.
You revved the station wagon’s engine. Billy tied
a yellow ski rope off the hitch, flashed a thumbs up,
and you punched the gas—5, 15, 20, 25 miles per hour—
towing Billy, skating in high-top sneakers,
across the frozen lake. Chill air filled his lungs.
Billy pumped his fist. You torqued the wheel left.
Triumphant, you honked and flashed the lights.
You took a swig of Heineken and wheeled
the wood-paneled station wagon in a wide-arcing turn
to pick up Billy, bloodied but standing. People do reckless things
but your friends dubbed you the High King of Foolish Shit.
The nose of Billy’s grandma’s Chrysler broke the ice.
You jammed it into reverse. Bald tires spinning,
you flung yourself from the car. In seconds, it was gone.
You gave Billy’s grandma a potted mum
and a silver balloon. Standing on her screened-in porch,
you mumbled an apology. What am I supposed to do now?
she asked. What the hell do I do now?


                                    *


In the absence of sparrows: when falling snow, out the window, looks like radio waves, 
        your face appears, your baritone laugh.



                                    *



August 31, 2004

We read Abbie Hoffman, 1968, watched Panther documentaries,
The Weather Underground, and packed our bandanas, first aid kits,
fat markers, maps and signs for New York City. A31, they called it,
a day of direct action, a time to heave ourselves on the gears

of an odious machine. We marched, drumming and chanting, half a million strong,
through the streets of Lower Manhattan. Worst President Ever, A Texas Village
Has Lost Its Idiot. Protestors carried a flotilla of flag-covered coffins.
We hoisted homemade signs and cried out, Whose streets?

Our streets? No justice, no peace! I’d packed sandwiches,
water, mapped restrooms along the parade route, inked
the hotline for Legal Services on your forearm and mine.
You, my wild half brother, packed only a one hitter, notepad, and pen.

When the parade snaked past the New York Public Library,
we peeled off to confront 20 cops in riot gear blocking entry
with batons drawn. We took position on the library steps.
Stone-still, inches from police, we held our signs

stamped with a student gagged by padlock and chain.
I could feel breath on my neck. We narrowly escaped arrest,
then streamed toward the Garden, a ragtag troop of 200.
We evaded barricades. Cut down alleys. At Herald Square, only

blocks from the Republican Convention, cops on mopeds
cut us off. They rolled out a bright orange snow fence,
hundreds of yard long, then zip cuffed us, one by one.
I called Ebele. You called your brother, set to be married in just three days.

His best man, you were headed to jail. “I’ll be there Friday for the golf outing,”
you vowed, a cop cutting your phone call short. They took you first.
Threw you on a city bus headed to Pier 14 on the Hudson,
a giant garage stinking of axel grease and gasoline. Stepping off the bus,

I scanned hundreds of faces staring through chain link, newly erected
and topped with concertina wire. I couldn’t find you. I can’t. They transferred me,
in soapy light, to the Tombs, Manhattan’s city jail, and freed me after 24 hours
to wander the streets. I peered in Chinese restaurants, seedy Canal Street bars,

called your cell phone from a payphone, trekked to Yago’s apartment
in Spanish Harlem, eager to crack beers, to begin weaving the story
we would always tell. You were not there. Waiting outside the Tombs,
I missed my flight home. Waiting, I smoked your cigarettes on the fire escape.

They held you and held you. You are missing still. I want to hold you. Beauty
is in the streets, my brother. Beauty is in the streets.

                                   

*


In the absence of sparrows: trash fires, a call to prayer. Dusk.
Rockets whistling, plastic bags taking flight.

In the absence of sparrows: all of a sudden, you appear. Standing before a cinder block
           wall, you’re holding a video camera with a boom mic and wearing a bulletproof 
           vest.

In the absence of sparrows: the front page story says you’ve been missing since 
           November 22, 2012. Everything else it doesn’t say.

In the absence of sparrows: you simply wandered off, past the Sunoco, pockets stuffed. 
           The door to your apartment is open still—

© Nicole Tung. Remembering James Foley—yesterday, the Academy of American Poets published this poem on their daily poem-a-day blog. Daniel Johnson wrote it over the course of Jim’s 656-day captivity and talks about their friendship and a bit more about Jim, HERE.

In the Absence of Sparrows

by Daniel Johnson
Rockets concuss. Guns rattle off.
Dogs in a public square
feed on dead horses.

I don’t know, Jim, where you are.
When did you last see
birds? The winter sky in Boston

is gray with flu. Newspapers,
senators, friends, even your mom
on Good Morning America—

no one knows where you are.
It’s night, cold and bruised,
where you are. Plastic twine binds

your hands. You wait and pray, pray
and wait, but this is where the picture goes gray.
We don’t know, Jim, where you are.


                                    *


In the absence of sparrows: a crowd of friends and family gather in Rochester,
New Hampshire to recite the holy rosary.


                                    *


We keep your picture on the kitchen table, pack of American Spirits,
airplane bottle of Scotch, a copy of Krapp’s Last Tape.


Don’t get me wrong; we expect you back. Skinny, feral,
coffee eyes sunken but alive, you’ve always come back, from Iraq,

Syria, Afghanistan, even Libya after Gaddafi’s forces
captured and held you for 44 days. You tracked time scratching

marks with your zipper on prison walls, scrawling notes on cigarette
boxes, reciting the Koran with other prisoners. Then, you called.

DJ, it’s Jimmy…I’m in New Hampshire, brother! I wanted
to break your fucking nose. We ate lobster rolls, instead,

on a picnic bench by Boston Harbor. You made a quick round
of TV shows, packed your camera and Arabic phrasebook.

You skipped town on a plane to Turkey. We talked once. You said
you’d play it safe. The connection was lost.


                                    *


In the absence of sparrows: American journalist James Foley disappeared
after being taken captive by armed gunmen near Aleppo, Syria on Thanksgiving Day.

In the absence of sparrows: our house burns blue with news.


                                    *


Winter solstice, 1991. You turned donuts,
drinking beers, in a snowy public lot next to the lake.
Girls yelped. You cranked the Pixies louder, cut the lights,
and steered Billy’s grandma’s Chrysler onto the Winnipesaukee ice.
The moon flamed bright as a county coroner’s light.
You revved the station wagon’s engine. Billy tied
a yellow ski rope off the hitch, flashed a thumbs up,
and you punched the gas—5, 15, 20, 25 miles per hour—
towing Billy, skating in high-top sneakers,
across the frozen lake. Chill air filled his lungs.
Billy pumped his fist. You torqued the wheel left.
Triumphant, you honked and flashed the lights.
You took a swig of Heineken and wheeled
the wood-paneled station wagon in a wide-arcing turn
to pick up Billy, bloodied but standing. People do reckless things
but your friends dubbed you the High King of Foolish Shit.
The nose of Billy’s grandma’s Chrysler broke the ice.
You jammed it into reverse. Bald tires spinning,
you flung yourself from the car. In seconds, it was gone.
You gave Billy’s grandma a potted mum
and a silver balloon. Standing on her screened-in porch,
you mumbled an apology. What am I supposed to do now?
she asked. What the hell do I do now?


                                    *


In the absence of sparrows: when falling snow, out the window, looks like radio waves, 
        your face appears, your baritone laugh.



                                    *



August 31, 2004

We read Abbie Hoffman, 1968, watched Panther documentaries,
The Weather Underground, and packed our bandanas, first aid kits,
fat markers, maps and signs for New York City. A31, they called it,
a day of direct action, a time to heave ourselves on the gears

of an odious machine. We marched, drumming and chanting, half a million strong,
through the streets of Lower Manhattan. Worst President Ever, A Texas Village
Has Lost Its Idiot. Protestors carried a flotilla of flag-covered coffins.
We hoisted homemade signs and cried out, Whose streets?

Our streets? No justice, no peace! I’d packed sandwiches,
water, mapped restrooms along the parade route, inked
the hotline for Legal Services on your forearm and mine.
You, my wild half brother, packed only a one hitter, notepad, and pen.

When the parade snaked past the New York Public Library,
we peeled off to confront 20 cops in riot gear blocking entry
with batons drawn. We took position on the library steps.
Stone-still, inches from police, we held our signs

stamped with a student gagged by padlock and chain.
I could feel breath on my neck. We narrowly escaped arrest,
then streamed toward the Garden, a ragtag troop of 200.
We evaded barricades. Cut down alleys. At Herald Square, only

blocks from the Republican Convention, cops on mopeds
cut us off. They rolled out a bright orange snow fence,
hundreds of yard long, then zip cuffed us, one by one.
I called Ebele. You called your brother, set to be married in just three days.

His best man, you were headed to jail. “I’ll be there Friday for the golf outing,”
you vowed, a cop cutting your phone call short. They took you first.
Threw you on a city bus headed to Pier 14 on the Hudson,
a giant garage stinking of axel grease and gasoline. Stepping off the bus,

I scanned hundreds of faces staring through chain link, newly erected
and topped with concertina wire. I couldn’t find you. I can’t. They transferred me,
in soapy light, to the Tombs, Manhattan’s city jail, and freed me after 24 hours
to wander the streets. I peered in Chinese restaurants, seedy Canal Street bars,

called your cell phone from a payphone, trekked to Yago’s apartment
in Spanish Harlem, eager to crack beers, to begin weaving the story
we would always tell. You were not there. Waiting outside the Tombs,
I missed my flight home. Waiting, I smoked your cigarettes on the fire escape.

They held you and held you. You are missing still. I want to hold you. Beauty
is in the streets, my brother. Beauty is in the streets.

                                   

*


In the absence of sparrows: trash fires, a call to prayer. Dusk.
Rockets whistling, plastic bags taking flight.

In the absence of sparrows: all of a sudden, you appear. Standing before a cinder block
           wall, you’re holding a video camera with a boom mic and wearing a bulletproof 
           vest.

In the absence of sparrows: the front page story says you’ve been missing since 
           November 22, 2012. Everything else it doesn’t say.

In the absence of sparrows: you simply wandered off, past the Sunoco, pockets stuffed. 
           The door to your apartment is open still—

August 26, 2014

God no! Not another app! I gave you everything and still you want more! I’m no longer safe in my own house! #hyperlapse #hmmm

August 25, 2014
"…[Hemingway) is the last American writer who was a celebrity in the same way that a movie star is … there’s a sort of cruel and crazy streak in him from the very start, in a way. Yet, those early stories and the first two novels are just like drinking that bubbly water you drink here. It’s so clean it makes your mouth sort of tingle. Wonderful stuff. And the sadness of it, the sadness of those Michigan stories … He says something about the American wilderness that’s always been there to say and others have said, of course, but the whole American world view must be, may be, understood as taking place not against the background of little red-roofed villages with a church on every hilltop, but against this endless woods full of no men—no men, just rotting leaves and animals you don’t quite see. That was still there in Michigan, and this awful no, this no that breathes through the American landscape to men. Hemingway kind of said it for a lot of us."

"…[Hemingway) is the last American writer who was a celebrity in the same way that a movie star is … there’s a sort of cruel and crazy streak in him from the very start, in a way. Yet, those early stories and the first two novels are just like drinking that bubbly water you drink here. It’s so clean it makes your mouth sort of tingle. Wonderful stuff. And the sadness of it, the sadness of those Michigan stories … He says something about the American wilderness that’s always been there to say and others have said, of course, but the whole American world view must be, may be, understood as taking place not against the background of little red-roofed villages with a church on every hilltop, but against this endless woods full of no men—no men, just rotting leaves and animals you don’t quite see. That was still there in Michigan, and this awful no, this no that breathes through the American landscape to men. Hemingway kind of said it for a lot of us."

August 16, 2014
"Poetry is a diary kept by a sea creature who lives on land and wishes he could fly."

Carl Sandburg (via apoetreflects)

(Source: literarymiscellany, via apoetreflects)

July 18, 2014
© Tatewaki Nio, from his Escultura do Inconsciente series. Boom!

© Tatewaki Nio, from his Escultura do Inconsciente series. Boom!

June 30, 2014
© US Army Signal Corps. From a heartstopping, tragic series LensBlog posted, of pictures shot on battlefields in WWI. One after the next is stunning for what it depicts and how it is composed. Yet, what came home to me most was how 1914 warfare contrasts with 2014 war photos we see today: WWI so ordered, as if the battles are produced enactments of killing—arranged and directed almost like theatre, no pun intended.

© US Army Signal Corps. From a heartstopping, tragic series LensBlog posted, of pictures shot on battlefields in WWI. One after the next is stunning for what it depicts and how it is composed. Yet, what came home to me most was how 1914 warfare contrasts with 2014 war photos we see today: WWI so ordered, as if the battles are produced enactments of killing—arranged and directed almost like theatre, no pun intended.

June 30, 2014
reportagebygettyimages:

OXFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND: Didcot B station, which in 2003 was voted Britain’s 3rd worst eyesore, is gas fed and supplies electricity to over 1.5 million people. In Britain, 5.8% of the energy supply comes from nuclear, 1.8% from renewable sources, and 92.4% from fossil fuels.
Photo by Toby Smith, from Light After Dark.

reportagebygettyimages:

OXFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND: Didcot B station, which in 2003 was voted Britain’s 3rd worst eyesore, is gas fed and supplies electricity to over 1.5 million people. In Britain, 5.8% of the energy supply comes from nuclear, 1.8% from renewable sources, and 92.4% from fossil fuels.

Photo by Toby Smith, from Light After Dark.

May 26, 2014
"First of all, there’s two kinds of thoughts in your mind: there’s good thoughts and evil thoughts. Both come through your mind. Some people are more loaded down with one than another. Nevertheless, they come through. And you have to be able to sort them out, if you want to be a songwriter, if you want to be a song singer. You must get rid of all that baggage. You ought to be able to sort out those thoughts, because they don’t mean anything, they’re just pulling you around, too. It’s important to get rid of them thoughts.
Then you can do something from some kind of surveillance of the situation. You have some kind of place where you can see it but it can’t affect you. Where you can bring something to the matter, besides just take, take, take, take, take. As so many situations in life are today. Take, take, take, that’s all that it is. What’s in it for me? That syndrome which started in the Me Decade, whenever that was. We’re still in that. It’s still happening.”
From Songwriters On Songwriting: Revised And Expanded by Paul Zollo
 

"First of all, there’s two kinds of thoughts in your mind: there’s good thoughts and evil thoughts. Both come through your mind. Some people are more loaded down with one than another. Nevertheless, they come through. And you have to be able to sort them out, if you want to be a songwriter, if you want to be a song singer. You must get rid of all that baggage. You ought to be able to sort out those thoughts, because they don’t mean anything, they’re just pulling you around, too. It’s important to get rid of them thoughts.

Then you can do something from some kind of surveillance of the situation. You have some kind of place where you can see it but it can’t affect you. Where you can bring something to the matter, besides just take, take, take, take, take. As so many situations in life are today. Take, take, take, that’s all that it is. What’s in it for me? That syndrome which started in the Me Decade, whenever that was. We’re still in that. It’s still happening.”

From Songwriters On Songwriting: Revised And Expanded by Paul Zollo

 

May 2, 2014
curphoto:

© Chris Bicknell #QueenBea #SpringNight http://ift.tt/1hiYvTz

curphoto:

© Chris Bicknell #QueenBea #SpringNight http://ift.tt/1hiYvTz

May 1, 2014
© Martine Fougeron. www.tinyurl.com/13pmqv2

© Martine Fougeron. www.tinyurl.com/13pmqv2

April 25, 2014
© Phyllis Galembo.
Love: Haute Africa—an outdoor photo exhibit in Belgium focuses on how contemporary African culture is expressed via clothing. Not a fashion exhibit, but a study of how clothing reflects culture, how social, political, economic culture is revealed in clothing. Part of the Knokke-Heist Photo Festival.

© Phyllis Galembo.

Love: Haute Africa—an outdoor photo exhibit in Belgium focuses on how contemporary African culture is expressed via clothing. Not a fashion exhibit, but a study of how clothing reflects culture, how social, political, economic culture is revealed in clothing. Part of the Knokke-Heist Photo Festival.

April 25, 2014
© Isadora Kosofsky. From her "The Three: Senior Love Triangle" project. So good. So needed.

© Isadora Kosofsky. From her "The Three: Senior Love Triangle" project. So good. So needed.

April 22, 2014
curphoto:

Opening @TheHalfKing May 13-June 29: Preston Gannaway’s project Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, a portrait of Ocean View, VA. Today, Preston was named Finalist in @GettyImages Chris Hondros Fund Award. #Congratulations #OceanView @pgannawayphoto #ChrisHondros #hkphotoseries #squaready http://ift.tt/1nmRA2X

curphoto:

Opening @TheHalfKing May 13-June 29: Preston Gannaway’s project Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, a portrait of Ocean View, VA. Today, Preston was named Finalist in @GettyImages Chris Hondros Fund Award. #Congratulations #OceanView @pgannawayphoto #ChrisHondros #hkphotoseries #squaready http://ift.tt/1nmRA2X

April 16, 2014
picadorbookroom:

Oh, Ryan. You’re the best.[via: The Regulator Bookshop]

But first I read the ones you said you loved so we could discuss them in depth….

picadorbookroom:

Oh, Ryan. You’re the best.

[via: The Regulator Bookshop]

But first I read the ones you said you loved so we could discuss them in depth….

April 11, 2014
millionsmillions:

When Kurt Vonnegut wasn’t writing, he was drawing. “The making of pictures is to writing what laughing gas is to the Asian influenza,” he said. The New Yorker has a slideshow of 10 of his cubist sketches. You can find more of his doodles in the new book Kurt Vonnegut Drawings.

Kurt!! Between you & George ….. but yours are more cartoon-y so can’t tell who that is.

millionsmillions:

When Kurt Vonnegut wasn’t writing, he was drawing. “The making of pictures is to writing what laughing gas is to the Asian influenza,” he said. The New Yorker has a slideshow of 10 of his cubist sketches. You can find more of his doodles in the new book Kurt Vonnegut Drawings.

Kurt!! Between you & George ….. but yours are more cartoon-y so can’t tell who that is.

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