Antonio Machado on the poet’s life

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Machado cares enough to try to explain to you how it is to be a poet; to be the poet he had to become. Poets fill all the roles of other human beings but their hearts and senses –the walled garden of their memories– are engineered differently than their neighbors, for it is to a unique purpose they are made.

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Photo by flickr user Admanchester. Used under CC: license. All rights revert to originator.

Portrait

My childhood is memories of a patio in Seville,
and a sunny orchard where lemons ripen;
my youth, twenty years on the soil of Castile;
my story, a few events just as well forgotten.

I was never a great seducer or Romeo
—that is apparent by my shabby dress—
but I was struck by the arrow Cupid aimed at me
and loved whenever I was welcomed.

Despite the rebel blood in my veins,
my poems bubble up from a calm spring;
and more than a man who lives by rules
I am, in the best sense of the word, good.

I adore beauty and following modern aesthetics,
I’ve cut old roses from Ronsard’s garden;
but I hate being fashionable
and am no bird strutting the latest style.

I shun the shallow tenor’s ballads,
and the chorus of crickets singing at the moon;
I stop to separate the voices from the echoes,
and I listen among the voices to only one.

Am I classical or romantic? I don’t know?
I want to leave my poetry as the captain leaves his sword;
remembered for the virile hand that gripped it,
not for the hallmark of its maker.

I converse with the man who is always beside me,
—he who talks to himself hopes to talk to God someday—
my soliloquy is a discussion with this friend,
who taught me the secret of loving others.

In the end I owe you nothing; you owe me all I’ve written.
I work, paying with what I’ve earned
for the clothes on my back, the house I live in,
the bread that sustains me and the bed where I lie.

And when the day arrives for the final voyage
and the ship that never returns is set to sail,
you’ll find me aboard, traveling light, with few possessions,
almost naked, like the children of the sea.

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Rajma

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This recipe was adapted from the original found on p. 77 of Yamuna Devi’s indispensible “Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking.”

Rajma

For the beans:

  • 2.5c dried red kidney beans
  • 6c water
  • 1 small cassia or bay leaf
  • .25tsp turmeric
  • .25 tsp cayenne or paprika
  • 1 tbsp butter or ghee

Remaining ingredients:

  • 2.5 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • .5 tsp fennel seeds
  • .5 tsp ajwain seeds (aka Bishop’s Weed)
  • 2-3 tbsp scraped, finely shredded or minced fresh ginger root
  • .5c water
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 5 tbsp ghee or peanut oil
  • Fresh paneer cheese (6-12 oz)
  • 4 medium firm ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • .25c chopped fresh parsley or coriander

Soak the kidney beans in 4 cups of water for at least 7 hours or overnight at room temperature.

Drain the beans in a colander, collecting the soaking water in a bowl. Add enough cold water to make 6 cubs and put it along with the beans and the other ingredients for cooking them, in a 3-4 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and gently simmer over low heat for 1.5-3 hours or until the beans are soft and tender but not broken down.

Mash .75c of the cooked beans to a puree. The cooking liquid should be quite thick. If not, ladle out the tender beans with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a bowl. Gently boil the sauce until it is reduced until about 1.5c. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combine the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and the ajwain seeds in an electric coffee mill or a stone mortar and pestle and reduce them to a powder. Transfer to a small bowl.

Place the ginger root and .5c of water in a blender, cover and blend on high speed until the mixture is a smooth liquid. Pour it into the powdered spices and add the garam masala, turmeric, salt, and lemon or lime juice, then stir. The mixture should have the consistency of thin cream. Add water if it is too thick.

Heat 5 tbsp ghee or oil in a 3-4 qt casserole or nonstick heavy saucepan over moderate heat. When it is hot, drop in the paneer cheese and stir-fry for 5-7 minutes, carefully turning the cubes with a spatula or spoon until they are browned on all sides. As the cubes brown, transfer them to a dish.

Pour the spice paste into the ghee or oil and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for about 8 minutes more or until the tomatoes are reduced to a thick paste and the ghee or oil separates from the mixture.

Add the whole cooked beans, mashed beans, fried cheese cubes, and 1.5c of the cooking liquid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Before serving, stir in 1 tbsp of ghee or butter and the minced herb.

I have omitted some of the pressure-cooker instructions from the original.

Poison Idea – Lifestyles

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Portland OR’s Poison Idea brought a certain advanced tightness to the hardcore scene, on par with Dr. Know or The Dickies.

The lyrics are reproduced in full here

I go full speed don’t look back
Do what I feel and live how I want to
Hide in your big warm house, lock the door and dream of
more
They say the meek will inherit the earth but who’s gonna
pay the tax?
Begging, scraping, sucking my welfare check
Bitching about big brother while big sister scratches my
back
hit and miss lifestyle. Down on whats it’s up to be.
Is this the one for me?
I play a rule breaker’s game. This game is called life.
Its not as easy as a cut of the cards or a twist of the
knife.

Day to day, hand to mouth
Is that what my life’s story is all about?
Lifestyles of the poor and homeless
I’m drunk and obnoxious and I hate the rich
The seed we planted is starting to show
But we screamed “no future” a thousand years ago
My belief is true, what about you?
I take the good with the bad and the bad with the bad
But I wish the bad would stop
What you practice now is what you preached then
Young and poor. Was told what it was to be
I wasn’t taught how to pronounce “free”

Antonio Machado – Traveler, your footprints

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Traveler, your footprints
are the only road, nothing else.
Traveler, there is no road;
you make your own path as you walk.
As you walk, you make your own road,
and when you look back
you see the path
you will never travel again.
Traveler, there is no road;
only a ship’s wake on the sea.

-Antonio Machado

Remarks at my father’s funeral

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A perfectly representative photo of Pop: smiling, family at hand, button-down shirt…

I’d like to thank every one of you for coming out today…for standing up one last time for a good and beloved man. For the ways you helped Pop grow into the man, the worker, the father he was…for the changes you wrought in his life…for reflecting his bright and loving nature in a way that caused him to cleave to you…I embrace you, every one.

My brother Wier broke the news about Pop’s passing followed close by a call from Torrence with the details, some of which I’ll share with you now.

Torrence and Pop were heading down to Boone for a visit with Torre and David that Thursday afternoon. They stopped to take a little break at the rest area just the other side of the North Carolina line. He’d seemed a little loose and weary walking back to the car so she helped him back in the passenger seat.

Buckled up and ready to go she hits that highway on-ramp and gives it the gas. 10…20…30… The world is a neon green Southern springtime…70 degrees and sunny. 40…50…60…

Now if you’ve driven with Torrence you know that speedometer kept on creeping up. 70…80…probably a healthy 85 before she backed off the accelerator. In my mind in this moment I like to envision Pop just kept on accelerating, achieved escape velocity, and sizzled out into the universe at 186,000 miles a second.

What struck me…what made the difference were Torrence’s description of that moment. Herself still spinning in the fresh, confounding vortex of loss she called and described Pop’s face as looking “so young…like he did when we first started dating.” She went on to describe the transcendent look of peace on his face, as if relieved of all of his burdens and doubts and fears. His final moments on this Earth –his deliverance from all uncertainty and suffering– you have to know were the second-to-last gift his maker ever gave him.

Now if you could go back in time and ask Pop at 40 years of age how he’d like to go I bet he’d have painted a scene not entirely dissimilar from the late afternoon of April 12th. Flying down the highway through a familiar, beloved world fairly quivering with renewal; with his lady-love at his side; with his final breath one of sweet Southern springtime air…if you knew him you’d know Hollywood couldn’t have engineered a more fitting finale.

We were down at the river house yesterday for a little lunch and some family time. I had hoped to find some time during my visit to bide a while in his domain…to meditate a while in quiet communion and seek out his spirit. My friends, to my shock and pleasure no such measures were required. Today you can not walk into their home without feeling the enduring glow of his loving presence…the quiet contentment of a watchful soul whose charges –Torrence and the living Rappahannock itself– are safely embraced by the courses in which they flow. I tried to feel bad for myself that I could no longer hold him but it became quickly apparent it is he who now holds all of us.

It is for that reason I now ask you all to set aside your sadness and fill your hearts with joy. Pop is not gone. He has simply transformed from light to light, and all that remains is for each of us is to shine.

A moment of Zen penetration from the Western philosophical tradition

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“To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.”
-Michel de Montaigne; Complete Essays, Chapter XIX

Linji’s How-To for Buddhists & Zen practitioners

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“Followers of the Way, the Dharma of the Buddhas calls for no special undertakings. Just act ordinary, without trying to do anything particular. Move your bowels, piss, get dressed, eat your rice, and if you get tired, then lie down. Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean.”
– Linji Yixuan, 9th c. China