Sunday, April 29, 2007


Bill had his bronchoscopy Friday. The surgeon said it takes about 7 days to get the results of the tests and to phone his office Thursday. He said, “The light didn’t shine through the lesion, which is good, because it shows that it isn’t far in.” I don’t have a clue as to what that means and so cling to the word “good.” Here’s Bill's second Coogler poem.

Everett Coogler as an Emblem of Cosmic Brotherhood

The Everett Coogler who every morning
Unrolls his awning
And opens his stand
And is ready for business
And whatever the day will bring
Stands shoulder to shoulder
And brother to brother
To the Anti-Everett Cooglers
Unrolling their awnings
And opening stands
On the ass-end
Side of the moon Coogler poem.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Everett Coogler

One night 37 years ago, Bill woke me up. “Listen to this.” He read me the first Everett Coogler poem. I thought, He’s gone completely around the bend, but in the morning I realized that wasn’t it at all. He had created a wonderful character and what would become the first of many poems about Coogler. Bill is a wonderful reader of his own poetry, not too dramatic, but dramatic enough, not the usual drone. People laughed uproariously and Coogler became much beloved.

The Lament of Everett Coogler

17 years at
The same stand,
Everett Coogler,
Would say,
That life is a stream rushing on,
Alive with

Friday, April 13, 2007

A True Account

Too generous
I threw out stale
Jelly donuts to my
Friends the grackles
Along with their seed

And now one poor
Fellow staggers and falls
His foot plunged deep
In soft raspberry center

Free at last he rolls and flies
Perching one-legged on a birch limb
He cranks the other foot
Up and down in the morning air
To see if it will dry

And yells at me
Shuddering with rage
Or the sheer feeling of repellent novelty
“Do you mind telling me
What the hell this is
I’ve got between my god-damned toes?”

Bill Bauer

The Weather as Metaphor

It snowed last Thursday when we had to go to Bill’s pre-op clinic, and it is snowing again today. In between it has been unusually cold. We are waiting for a date for Bill’s bronchoscopy. At my age I shouldn’t be wishing my life away, but it is hard not to wish the weather would be better and that the bronchoscopy would be over. On the weekend I wished time would slow down because our two sons and their families surprised us with a visit. Fishing season opens on Monday. A friend tells us that this is the first year he can remember when he won’t be able to find a piece of ground where he can dig for worms. I remember the day my mother was buried, April 2, I think it was. A small group of us was standing in the Strawberry Hill cemetery. It was cold, dark, but the birds were singing. The metaphor was apt: a gloomy day, yet with a hint of hope. This late winter is an apt metaphor too; summer will come, it always does, but it is difficult to imagine the experience.

Friends of ours are driving to Moncton today to keep an important doctor’s appointment. Schools everywhere are closed. It is an hour and a half drive. There is a stretch of the highway of perhaps 30 miles where there is no habitation, no exits. What a terrible decision to make: go or not go. Some birds have returned from the south, but they are nowhere in evidence today. On the weekend we saw robins and a cardinal. The grackles are back.

I have just spent some time looking for Bill’s poem about grackles. I haven’t read his poems for a while. They were brought back to me. Every once in a while someone will begin to recite their favorite poem from Bill’s books – the Tantrum Poem, or Everett Coogler, or Unsnarling String. A recent e-mail ended, “Let Bill know that I have been unsnarling a lot of string in the past three months.” I couldn’t find the grackle poem.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Things are Moving

Bill has his consultation with the anesthetist today and will have the bronchoscope done sometime after April 17. I am writing some columns ahead, two so far, and this weekend I will tackle the music one that is giving me so much trouble. I console myself with my past experience that the harder a thing is to write, the better the essay, although on a rare occasion passion has let me write a good one right off the top of my head. I am spending way too much time on these columns, but they keep me concentrating on them for a few hours and not on our problems. I probably am earning about a dollar an hour. Of course when I write novels, I am making about a penny an hour.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Benefit of Age

I have received the first negative feedback on my column. I am surprised I didn’t receive it before. The president of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick denounced me for writing about the spiraling down of the organization. I am pleased with myself because this didn’t bother me at all. In the past I would have been upset. When I said I would write this column, my son said that at my age I had earned the right to write boldly what I wanted. Only one of the six columns, however, has been negative.

I am now polishing a column about the negative impression that the rest of Canada has about New Brunswick and how art contributes to this impression. When we have guests from other parts, they are invariably surprised at what a nice place this is, how beautiful, how friendly and courteous the people are. I was discussing this with a doctor who has come from British Columbia into our neighborhood. I mentioned that when we try to get out of our subdivision onto the busy street leading to the malls, we never have to wait more than a minute; someone always stops and lets us in. His face lit up with a smile because he too had noticed this. He is impressed with how collegial the medical community is.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Once Again With Music

In my six columns I have written about visual art, crafts and literature, but I haven’t written anything about music. I determined I must do something about the lack and started writing about music, but the column seemed thin and whiny. Last week I bought a new book by Daniel Levitin, This is Your Brain on Music, hoping it would inspire me. It inspired me so much that now I have too much to deal with – the piece is thick and unwieldy. I got panicky and wrote another column I had in mind, one I could do more easily. But I have a hiatus because this Saturday the editor decided to devote the whole of Salon, the art section of the paper, to reproductions of the paintings that the Beaverbrook Art Gallery must give back to the Beaverbrook Foundation. So the column for yesterday can be printed next Saturday, I have two more nearly ready to go for the two weeks after that, and I can concentrate on the music one. Music is the art I know the least about, although in my younger days I knew quite a lot. I played the piano (not well) and the baritone horn in the high school band and had a fabulous music 101 course in college. One of the first purchases we made after we were married was a state of the art stereo. But in the last twenty years I have neglected it because I was often asked to write about the other arts (some 80 articles.)

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery, generously stocked by Lord Beaverbrook with wonderful paintings, has been in a hassle with the Beaverbrook Foundation which claims that the paintings weren’t gifts, but loans. Last week the judge ruled that 87 of the paintings in question belong to the BAG and 48 to the Foundation. It is alleged that Lord Beaverbrook’s grandsons want the paintings to sell because they have gone bankrupt. One of the paintings, J M Turner’s Fountain of Indolence, is said to be worth $25 million. It is one that does belong to the gallery. In the past the Foundation has taken paintings from the collection under the pretense that it was going to have them restored, but instead sold them. The judge ruled that all of these belonged to the gallery and the foundation must compensate for them.