high BP, music and poetry shop talk, links

I would be remiss to neglect to mention that my silly blood pressure seems to be on the rise again. Actually I’ve only had a high reading today. But I have not believed a couple of readings at Miejer’s which were high.  The reason being that a couple of times I had a high reading before grocery shopping at the store’s machine. Then rechecked it after shopping and it was back to normal. It could be that as I am aging, it will swing more from high to low. Anyway, if it continues for a week I will call my doctor. I don’t want a new drug. But I don’t want to walk around with high blood pressure.

I am playing a big piece for the prelude tomorrow. It’s about ten pages long. Written by Leo Sowerby and based on the offertory hymn of the day, “I Bind unto Myself This Day. I’ve mentioned it here in the last few days. Sowerby is a workmanlike composer and I admire his work. He writes careful voice leading to lovely dissonant chords. This morning working slowly over the manual (keyboard) parts, I discovered wrong notes in the middle of huge chords in two different places. Yikes. Spent much time rehearsing them correctly.

Our friend, Barb, is visiting. I will sneak off later and practice. Also, I have asked Eileen to practice page turning for me today and to turn pages for me tomorrow. I have it worked out with photocopies.

I have had to scale the registration (choice of which sets of pipes to use when) down a bit from Sowerby’s suggestions. Otherwise the entire ten minute piece would sound the same, mostly loud.

Recently I read a pretty disturbing poem by Anne Sexton.

Red Roses

by Anne Sexton

Tommy is three and when he’s bad
his mother dances with him.
She puts on the record,
“Red Roses for a Blue Lady”
and throws him across the room.
Mind you,
she never laid a hand on him.
He gets red roses in different places,
the head, that time he was as sleepy as a river,
the back, that time he was a broken scarecrow,
the arm like a diamond had bitten it,
the leg, twisted like a licorice stick,
all the dance they did together,
Blue Lady and Tommy.
You fell, she said, just remember you fell.
I fell, is all he told the doctors
in the big hospital. A nice lady came
and asked him questions but because
he didn’t want to be sent away he said, I fell.
He never said anything else although he could talk fine.
He never told about the music
or how she’d sing and shout
holding him up and throwing him.

He pretends he is her ball.
He tries to fold up and bounce
but he squashes like fruit.
For he loves Blue Lady and the spots
of red roses he gives her

Yikes. Great. A horribly beautiful child-abuse poem.

The day I read the poem, I found reference to it in the intermittent biographical essays in Sexton’s collected poems.

It turns out that Sexton threw her baby daughter, Joy, the same way the Blue Lady in the poem throws Tommy. After that, her parents take one of the kids and the in-laws take the other. It is around this time Sexton attempts suicide. Joy is kept from her for three years and doesn’t recognize her when Sexton is deemed well enough to parent her again.

Sexton was quite taken with the poetry of W.D. Snodgrass.

She much admired this long poem:

Heart’s Needle by W. D. Snodgrass

Reading it recently, I found weird typos in one poetry site’s version. I emailed them.

I’m not as taken with Snodgrass as Sexton was. I think she’s better. I at least like her more.

As I’m reading the letters of Sexton (which are autobiographical and sent to people like Snodgrass and Robert Lowell both of whom she studied with),  I am drawn back to poems as she talks about them in the letters.

When I re-read The Double Image (linked below) I now understood two things about it. One, that it was addressed to Joy, Sexton’s daughter. Two, that she was under the influence of Snodgrass’s “Hearts Needle” which is addressed to his own estranged child from a first marriage (not sure if this is autobiographical in his case or not).

The link below also has an embedded recording of Sexton reading her poem “The Double Image.” Haven’t had the courage to listen to it yet.

The Double Image by Anne Sexton : The Poetry Foundation


Third Witness to Massacre in Philippines Is Murdered – NYTimes.com

I remember this massacre. Now the crooks are killing off the witnesses.


When the President Orders a Killing – NYTimes.com

This link is to letters responding to a recent NYT editorial. I concur with the writer who says “If we recognize terrorism as a crime, then suspects need to be captured and tried on the basis of evidence, with due process.”

I have felt this way all through the so-called war on terror. Europeans (England, Italy, Spain) seem to have had much more luck than us by treating terrorists as criminals instead of warriors.


Obama Video on Fox News Criticized as Attack Ad – NYTimes.com

Distinction between reporting and entertaining continues to blur. Not just a problem on Fox.


Markets and Morals – NYTimes.com

Kristoff asks “Do we want a society where everything is up for sale?”


Patching U.S. Troops Together in Afghanistan, an Ache at a Time – NYTimes.com

I haven’t made it through this painful article. It reminds me of the horrific experience of war Paul Fussell describes in his  memoirs.


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