the bats of halloween


Halloween, that time of ghoulish frights and tricks or treats. I don’t even like Halloween, but it seems to be the holiday that I celebrate. Or at least acknowledge. I send cards/CDs/candy and do a bit of baking. Or least I have but after this year will give much of it up. It has no meaning now.

The time, as poet Marin Sorescu commands, is nigh to learn flying blind: the future really is dark.

Let the bats teach us to see in that dark future.

DH Lawrence

At evening, sitting on this terrace,
When the sun from the west, beyond Pisa, beyond the mountains of Carrara
Departs, and the world is taken by surprise …
When the tired flower of Florence is in gloom beneath the glowing
Brown hills surrounding …
When under the arches of the Ponte Vecchio
A green light enters against stream, flush from the west,
Against the current of obscure Arno …
Look up, and you see things flying
Between the day and the night;
Swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together.
A circle swoop, and a quick parabola under the bridge arches
Where light pushes through;
A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air.
A dip to the water.
And you think:
“The swallows are flying so late!”
Dark air-life looping
Yet missing the pure loop …
A twitch, a twitter, an elastic shudder in flight
And serrated wings against the sky,
Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,
And falling back.
Never swallows!
The swallows are gone.
At a wavering instant the swallows gave way to bats
By the Ponte Vecchio …
Changing guard.
Bats, and an uneasy creeping in one’s scalp
As the bats swoop overhead!
Flying madly.
Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe.
Little lumps that fly in air and have voices indefinite, wildly vindictive;
Wings like bits of umbrella.
Creatures that hang themselves up like an old rag, to sleep;
And disgustingly upside down.
Hanging upside down like rows of disgusting old rags
And grinning in their sleep.
In China the bat is symbol for happiness.
Not for me!


The Bat
Theodore Roethke

By day the bat is cousin to the mouse.
He likes the attic of an aging house.

His fingers make a hat about his head.
His pulse beat is so slow we think him dead.

He loops in crazy figures half the night
Among the trees that face the corner light.

But when he brushes up against a screen,
We are afraid of what our eyes have seen:

For something is amiss or out of place
When mice with wings can wear a human face.

Photo (c) 2009 Michael Pennay used under Creative Commons license.

Happy Halloween


I will post later with all the recipes and reflections on this, but here are some images of all the baked stuff I made this weekend – my last big bake, I do believe. I set it all up in the office and feel very… free.


Getting the big Halloween bake all set up in the office


Very basic Halloween decorations


How will I organize this??


Ready for their close-up: Coconut cream bar cookies


Chocolate chip cashew cookies – same recipe as the white chocolate macadamia cookies, only throw in chocolate chips and cashews instead of white chocolate and macadamia nuts




Mini pecan pie recipe… also these got some rave reviews



M&M cookies… same recipe as the white chocolate macadamia cookies


Chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips – same recipe as the chocolate mint cookies but with peanut butter chips instead of mint


Table 1 of 2: Getting rid of ingredients cookies rather than the Halloween-themed goods


The Halloween-themed spread



Chocolate cupcakes (which happen to be vegan – not by design, just coincidence) with grey vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream



Witch finger shortbread cookie recipe… they freak everyone out



Chocolate truffles: Very easy to make




Coconut dark chocolate bites recipe: I toasted the coconut and blitzed it in a food processor, which is not indicated in the recipe. I think it works better this way



Close-up: Candy corn cupcakes


The full spread: Halloween baking 2017


Happy Halloween 2017



crying in its dark thorns


Trying to Pray
James Wright
This time, I have left my body behind me, crying
In its dark thorns.
There are good things in this world.
It is dusk.
It is the good darkness
Of women’s hands that touch loaves.
The spirit of a tree begins to move.
I touch leaves.
I close my eyes and think of water.



Watch out for the gospel of the times…
Nicanor Parra
He who speaks doesn’t know
the Chinese sage keeps silent
more than 3 strokes of the pen is mastur-page-tion
2 parallel lines that always intersect
create a perfect marriage
a river that flows against its own current
never arrives at a happy end
everything is permitted
absolute freedom of movement
that is, without leaving the cage
2+2 doesn’t make 4:
once it made 4 but
today nothing is known in this regard


Ojo con el evangelio de hoy
el que habla no sabe
el sabio chino se mantiene en silencio
más de 3 sacudidas es página
2 paralelas que se cortan siempre
constituyen matrimonio perfecto
río que fluye contra su propia corriente
no llegará jamás a feliz término
todo está permitido
libertad absoluta de movimiento
claro que sin salirse de la jaula
2 + 2 no son 4:
……………….. fueron 4:
hoy no se sabe nada al respecto

Let go of me


Nadia Tuéni
In the heat of the sun,
with the wind round my neck
and rain whipping at my mouth,
in the heat of the sun,
I watch the walls of my memory sweat.
It was you who, just a step away,
held out your hair so that I might cling to it.
Discard, then, all these bullets
that kill or do not kill according to the rules of tenderness.
Now, let go of me, for I am sent reeling, my womb
red with the blood of us all.
And I laugh in the heat of the sun,
because madness garners the landscape,
Even you just a step away wear winter upon your face
so as to wrest from me my life’s breath
and hang it over the border.
So in the heat of the sun
I die of incoherence
in bursts.


En plein soleil,
avec le vent autour du cou
et fouets de pluie dans la bouche,
en plein soleil,
je regarde suinter les murs de ma mémoire.
Tu es celui qui, à trois pas,
m’as tendu ses cheveux pour que je m’y accroche.
Fais donc voler toutes ces balles
qui tuent ou ne tuent pas selon des règles de tendresse.
Lâche-moi à présent,
car je chavire de l’autre côté de mon ventre
rouge du sang de tous.
Et je ris en plein soleil,
parce que la folie moissonne le paysage,
Même toi à trois pas mets un hiver sur ton visage
pour m’arracher mon souffle et
l’accrocher à la frontière d’à côté.
Alors en plein soleil
je meurs d’incohérence
en éclats.

life may turn out better


A happy birthday wish to my dear friend T. May life turn out better.

Aleksandr Blok

It’s dark, despite the moon above.
For many, life may turn out better, –
Inside my soul, the spring of love
Will not replace the stormy weather.
The night’s spread out in the street,
And to my spirit’s muted stare,
That’s soaked in poison, hot and sweet,
It answers with a deathly glare.
I try to keep my passions down,
Out in the cold and dawning mist,
I wander, lost among the crowd,
Engrossed, with thoughts of only this:
It’s dark, despite the moon above.
For many, life may turn out better, –
Inside my soul, the spring of love
Will not replace the stormy weather.


Пусть светит месяц – ночь темна.
Пусть жизнь приносит людям счастье,-
В моей душе любви весна
Не сменит бурного ненастья.
Ночь распростерлась надо мной
И отвечает мертвым взглядом
На тусклый взор души больной,
Облитой острым, сладким ядом.
И тщетно, страсти затая,
В холодной мгле передрассветной
Среди толпы блуждаю я
С одной лишь думою заветной:
Пусть светит месяц – ночь темна.
Пусть жизнь приносит людям счастье,-
В моей душе любви весна
Не сменит бурного ненастья.

“the mouth that aroused”


The Mouth
T. Carmi
The mouth that enthralled
is the mouth that appalls.

The mouth that lulled to sleep
is the mouth that awakens,
saying: Enough.
Your dream, like cobwebs,
sticks to my hands.

The mouth that sucked
the breath of your sleep
like a rescued man on the beach,
clenches like a fist.

The mouth that aroused
is the mouth that numbs,
saying: With your permission,
these tears tenderize your flesh,
to set the table for the feast of the dead.

The mouth that bound is the mouth that releases,
saying: from now on you’re permitted
to one and all.

Photo by Anna Sastre on Unsplash

Robyn Hitchcock in Oslo: “Yesterday it seemed so cool, and everything was fabulous”


How do you tell a musician you’ve admired for more than 30 years how much their music means to you, how much it means that you were finally able to see him perform after 30 years of waiting for and wanting to? Providing the soundtrack to my nomadic life, he (Robyn Hitchcock) too has wandered, touring a host of unusual places, often landing in places where I should have seen him (Seattle). But I was always somewhere else – wrong place, wrong time. Finally, finally, I was able to catch him last night in Oslo in a small venue called Cafe Mono. Against all logic or reason, standing there in a small crowd, I found myself getting choked up with the emotion of the moment, and thought, “Ah yes,” because I do tend to forget this, “This is why we go to concerts and participate in these kinds of experiences.”

After the show, I had my 15 seconds to say hello and thank him, but I found it difficult to be able to find the right words in that moment. How can you convey something meaningful without being a babbling idiot cliché? I am not a ‘lingering’ or manic/maniac fan type (and I needed to jump on the subway to get back to my car for the long drive back to the woods) who sticks around to talk to musicians, but this time I felt such a need to say thank you (and the place was so small and all the Norwegians swarmed out quickly when the show ended). But feeling a bit tongue-tied, I managed only the thank you I intended (maybe that was enough) and the mist (“whoever remembers only mist – what does he remember?“) of his mild incredulity that I came from Seattle (“Viva! Sea-Tac”) but had somehow never seen him in the 30 years I had wanted to. Of course, touring musicians are not the only ones who wander.

What I felt like saying was some combination of the impersonal and personal. I never would have because I’m not that person, encroaching on other people’s space and time. It was rough enough to say ‘thank you’.

More impersonally, that Hitchcock is woven into the fabric of influence (he has been influenced by and has had influence on). And yet, when one talks to people and mentions Robyn Hitchcock, the majority are at a loss. Access to the surrealist ache of Hitchcock’s music is open but still somehow limited. As J put it: “I wonder how it is that I’m not familiar with Robyn Hitchcock? I did some cursory googling at 2:30 AM… and I can see that he has more than left his mark on the contemporary music scene. And yet… I have somehow failed to make him part of my musical culture.” I feel as though I have for 30 years enjoyed a gift modestly few people have embraced as they should. At times I wish more people knew him, but then I suppose the vague intimacy of what he does would be lost.

More personally, I remember first hearing songs from Fegmania! when I was little more than a child, but then Robyn Hitchcock really registered with me (it’s all about timing, I guess) upon seeing the video for “Balloon Man” one evening, and a visiting cousin expressed that the music ‘scared’ her. Of course “Balloon Man” felt like a novelty – it endures still because it is catchy and somewhat accessible, but in a way served only as a gateway to the more potent, mysterious and absurd Hitchcock work I know and love. Globe of Frogs became a constant soundtrack (and always springs to mind when I am driving in rainy Swedish summer weather, and the roads are covered in frogs, alive and dead), and Queen Elvis was transformative. I shared it with my best friend at the time, and we delighted in singing “The Devil’s Coachman” loudly while wandering around our suburban neighborhood. (We were children; we imagined we were scaring our neighbors. I am sure we were noisy nuisances.) “Autumn Sea” remains one of my favorite songs.

None of these impersonal or personal accounts would make a difference; the musician certainly hears variations on these every day. I thought about that while attempting to find the right words, and ultimately, only sincere and basic gratitude seems as though it could offer any meaning or value.

Since then the music has been a constant presence, accompanying me through every stage of this nomadic life. As I have spent time hopping from one country to another and then another, this growing, glowing, gorgeous, amorphous musical catalog follows. Grounding it, even if only once in my whole life, in the same place, same time, space-time moment, in face-to-face reality (and all reality is only reaction and interaction, of course – “the universe is based on sullen entropy – It falls apart as it goes on” – “The Devil’s Coachman”), as I was at last able to do, was worth the wait.

fata morgana


Annukka Peura
When the man is fata morgana
and I, a fatalist
What could a poor sailor
name a ship:
‘Reality that won’t happen’?!