in capite foraminis
Excuse me while I unmute myself…
I’ve spent much of the past four months holed up in this second floor room in my house I call my office. Some days it is a place where I work on Hole In The Head, my own writing, photography, and artwork. Other days it’s more of a cell and I feel as isolated and lonesome as a Hank Williams heartbreak song.
I’ve read...a lot. I read Moby Dick every summer, a tradition that began the summer my son was born 43 years ago. I was in grad school and awake well into the morning hours and took to reading the story of the great white whale to my son in those quiet hours, almost whispering.
It’s become like reading the biblical prophets - no matter how many times I read it I find something new and would swear it wasn’t there before.
Call me nothing if not routine.
I’ve kept Joseph Campbell close by, particularly A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living. I think of him as a wise uncle who offers different ways of seeing and thinking about the world and a joke or two along the way.
I have the most recent book by Betsy Sholl (who has four poems in this issue) on my desk: House of Sparrows - elegant, insightful, and beautifully-crafted.
Beach reading: Carlos Zafon’s four volume series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
Finally, a book that I have to keep myself from finishing: Van Gogh: A Self Portrait: Letters Revealing His Life as a Painter, selected and translated by W.H. Auden. Did he ever sleep? There’s so much brilliant writing and poetry in this book. Here’s a paragraph from a letter to his brother Theo, that I transposed into the form of a poem:
From a Letter to Theo*
Vincent Van Gogh, The Hague,
September 3, 1882
Behind those saplings, behind that brownish-red soil,
is a sky very delicate, bluish-gray, warm, hardly blue,
all aglow - and against it all is a hazy border of green
and a network of little stems and yellowish leaves.
A few figures of wood gatherers are wandering around
like dark masses of mysterious shadows.
The white cap of a woman bending to reach a dry branch
stands out suddenly against the deep red-brown of the ground.
A skirt catches the light - a shadow is cast -
a dark silhouette of a man appears above the underbrush.
A white bonnet, a cap, a shoulder, the bust of a woman
molds itself against the sky. Those figures are large
and full of poetry - in the twilight of that deep shadowy tone
they appear as enormous terracottas being modeled in a studio.
*from - Vincent Van Gogh: A Self Portrait, Letters Revealing
His Life as a Painter, selected by W.H. Auden
Thank you to all the poets and artists who make this issue of Hole In The Head “large and full of poetry.” I especially want to thank my friend, mentor, and teacher - Charles Simic - for his poem Afternoon Stroll, which appears in this issue. I was studying with Charlie at The University of New Hampshire 43 years ago, reading Moby Dick to my infant son.
Though Charlie sent us a custom bio, it’s also good to note a few other details; here’s the bio we had prepared: Charles Simic is a Serbian-American poet and former co-poetry editor of the Paris Review. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for The World Doesn't End, and was a finalist of the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for Selected Poems, 1963-1983 and in 1987 for Unending Blues. He taught at the University of New Hampshire for more than 30 years.
Photographer and Associate Editor, Jere DeWaters, provided the cover for this issue. Of the photo, he says, "Sport Coat, is from a collection of photographs entitled It’s the Economy. Although made almost ten years ago, the image feels appropriate for today."
Jere is recently retired from teaching art and photography for the University of Maine. His photographs have appeared in many books and publications. His work has been widely collected and exhibited, most recently Everyday Maine, an invitational exhibition. He can be reached at .
I'll mute myself again. We'll be back with another hole in the head on 11.01.2020.
If you are in love with the infinite,
why grieve over earth washing away in the rain?