Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November 4: Not Entirely Alone, Ben, Robert Hass, "After the Gentle Poet Kobayashi Issa," Off the Top of My Head

Although Ives was not sure what to make of the young people of that time, he liked to bump into Paul on the street.  One afternoon, a few days before the fifth anniversary of the shooting, when Ives felt like taking a walk in the park, as he used to with his son even on blustery days, he ran into Paul coming out of the subway and fresh from a part-time job at the Village Voice newspaper.  Buoyant in his stride, Paul went with Ives.  As they walked along, an odd feeling almost immediately came over each of them, as sometimes happens between people of emotion, a feeling that they were not entirely alone.

Paul is the son of Ives' best friend.  Ives and his wife always treat Paul like a son, especially after their son, Robert, is killed.  Paul is the same age as Robert and was one of Robert's best friends.  So, when Ives and Paul take this walk together in the park, they are not alone.  Robert is with them, pulling them together, trying to heal Ives' sorrow-filled life.

Tonight, I met with a young man in my office at the university.  He's a kid that I've known for years.  I've watched him grow up.  He attends the same dance studio as my kids and has been friends with my daughter since she was five.  "Ben" graduated from high school last May and is attending the university where I teach.  He wants to study writing, so I offered to meet with him and provide guidance and advice.

Sitting in my office, Ben listens to what I say seriously, asks questions, absorbs everything like thirsty seed.  At any moment, I expect him to break open and blossom.  I don't know how much I'm helping him.  I'm giving him books to read.  Tonight, I lectured him about keeping a writing journal.  He nods and smiles.  Not the patronizing smile of a bored teenager (I see plenty of those when I'm teaching).  No, Ben's smile is pure and honest.

That's what I give thanks for this evening--Ben and his smile.  He reminded me of why I love teaching.  It's for kids like him--kids who think they can change the world.

Ben made Saint Marty feel a little younger tonight.

After the Gentle Poet Kobayashi Issa

by:  Robert Hass

New Year's morning--
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.

A huge frog and I
staring at each other,
neither of us moves.

This moth saw brightness
in a woman's chamber--
burned to a crisp.

Asked how old he was
the boy in the new kimono
stretched out all five fingers.

Blossoms at night,
and people
moved by music

Napped half the day;
no one
punished me!

Fiftieth birthday:

From now on,
it's all clear profit,
every sky.

Don't worry, spiders,
I keep house

These sea slugs,
they just don't seem


Bright autumn moon;
pond snails crying
in the saucepan.

Off the Top of My Head

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