books

Sleep By Peter Warzel

blue throat
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4:00 AM rising. My sleep is ravaged by hummingbirds. I hear the buzz first, the whirr. I know it is a dream but it is a call also to wake to industriousness. I fight it. I am pissed at being awake and my bed becomes a battlefield. I reach to touch the dog in the dark knowing D. is not there but find that Padmé is missing too. Three books are in their place, always three at a time.
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Books as literal bed partners began in Europe years ago, in Budapest. I could not sleep so kept CNN International turned on the television at low volume hoping white noise and flickering light would mesmerize me. They did not help so I read one of the twenty or so books I would read on these two-week trips. I placed the book on the bed next to me to fill the space and slept, eventually. I have been married thirty-nine years total with two wives and most likely have slept alone thirteen of that count. Bedded alone maybe better said as sleep is elusive and increasingly so.
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When awake at two or three AM you begin to inventory the night. Santa Fe is a peculiarly quiet city, the continual hum of the grand cities absent. Silence is startling at any time so even the whirr of wings will wake you.
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I will not make coffee until four AM on the chance that I will grow tired and find sleep again. “I have lost too much sleep/I’m gonna find it…” Shawn Colvin’s song on a maddening loop. Crepuscular music.
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This morning I was set to rise early to fish in the Valles Caldera with my fellow exile Michael Brown. Not this early. My task was set for 6:00 AM when I would drive to the Burrito Spot for two breakfast burritos for our hour drive, Michael meeting me back at the apartment at 6:45. The Spot’s two shops on Cerrillos Road were the only ones offering breakfast burritos that early according to their web site and no, they were not open as advertised, though the neon sign in the window of the closest said open.
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Sometimes I wake simply because sleep is completed, sometimes because of the Clangs. A long gone friend described the Clangs as the panic of that cold ball of shit working its way slowly towards your heart. The Clangs get me more often these days before dawn.
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Then what? I leave the lights out and maneuver in the dark so not to disturb Alex and Svenja across our courtyard. I usually do not turn on the radio either until about six-thirty not wanting to disrupt the remedial properties of silence. I never read due to my black-out but sometimes write by the clean light of the Mac screen, notebook laid across the keyboard in my lap. I do read newspapers online and trip across the world lightly through the NYT, The London Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, sometimes The Santa Fe New Mexican, though that is a hometown paper, a comfort and nuisance like weekly papers in small town America, though daily. The Taos News is a weekly and locals there subscribe to it for fire starter.
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Rarely do I start a fire this early and certainly not until November but when the cold creeps in beneath the doors the hiss and pop is comforting as I plan the day already started.
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Suddenly the day is deep on. Sometimes three, four hours into it before I need to ready for work and decide if it is a formal day – starched shirt and jeans – or informal – washed shirt, jeans, white Chuck Taylors. I adjust my calendar for things I can and cannot do, jot meandering thoughts like these in my notebook, knock off emails to staff and Board Directors, and think about the Denver house not yet rising and perhaps think about the conversation with D. last evening and whether I should be concerned about her or not today. At times there is a decided instability in her words, each one not connecting to the next, edgy, ready to run away on a frenzied walk-about. I wonder whether the voice and the reality are the same or if this distance is the cause and concern, the catalyst of my disquiet. She is in charge of her own kingdom and I can only listen to dispatches from the chancellor.
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When I walk out into the yard for air the night sky is ripe with stars, we turning beneath at a fast clip, and then later a linear line of orange-fired clouds outline the mountains up Canyon Road. Coyotes talk some mornings before the sun, most likely near the School for Advanced Research due east of here or in the river bed, the trickle that halves downtown from the Barrio de Analco.
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This morning my hummingbird is feeding voraciously as if autumn is coming on hard. I rarely see it, he, singular, en route from north to south through the neighborhood feeders and flowers mapped by instinctual energy efficiency. 5:00 AM, it feeds while I watch, flits up into a seeping pine tree and hovers then sits a limb, waiting for me to leave and go inside. When I do it goes to the feeder again, juicy with Perky-Pet Instant Nectar and I see the white bars on its fanned-out tail as it hovers. This is a real look at my visitor and I pull the bird book from the window shelf – blue throated hummingbird, male. There is one green dot on the map in the book over Santa Fe. That is my boy.
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A gift for not sleeping today. A naming. The words complete this live thing at my kitchen window – language has defined the morning. “And to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life.”*
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     * Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein, translated by G. E. M. Anscombe.
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peter
Peter Warzel has published poetry, fiction, essays, and non-fiction articles in newspapers, literary journals, and national magazines including Pilgrimage, Zone3, the Roanoke Review, Grays Sporting Journal, Cowboys and Indians Magazine, and New Mexico Magazine. I live in Denver and the place of exile – Santa Fe – and everywhere in-between.
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Recently Received Books

rec rec

We update this link on a regular basis. These publications are available to reviewers for possible publication at North of Oxford.

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/11/12/recently-received-books/

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Shoot the Messenger

shoot
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Review by g emil reutter
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The evolution of the poet John Dorsey continues in this, his 50th book of poetry. Dorsey writes of the heartland of America and the forgotten characters. In this collection there are no small ponds/just forgotten rivers of intention/just stolen kisses/captured in the night. He writes of The Prettiest Girl in Moscow, Kansas, pumps gas with a farmer’s bicep/and sells off-brand energy drinks 2 for $4/ tallying the state tax/to determine her own worth. In the poem, Don’t Flip the Boat he writes of a Hell’s Angel looking for an insurance claim. the fire of youth/an old tire/left hanging from a tree/that has been burning/ since he was a boy. he says there’s wisdom/ in these hills. he just can’t remember where he buried it.
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A poet who writes for the disenfranchised, Dorsey gives us, The Years We Remained Anonymous
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waiting for history to moan our names
to carve our initials into a tree
that we can no longer find
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the moonlight is no longer happy
just touching the skin of generations
& the road back home
is muddy with blood
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there is very little peace
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in any of it.
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Dorsey remains at the heart of the modern Meat Poetry scene also known as the Outlaw Poetry Movement. He writes of smoking joints outside a convenience store, of a town with no roosters, of an addict and his needle, of old men wrestling with their youth, of learning to shoot, of rabid dogs and of family. And of Sadie – she has never danced backward/in the mouth of oceans/while piecing together the remains/ of her tattered heart. her stars still shine through cheap beer/and well whisky/the highway feels limitless/and the music in her heart seems free. He writes of his grandmother in Home Cooking and a problem with food poisoning- and my grandfather would ask without fail/”what’s the matter, don’t you like your grandmother’s cooking?”/i guess it was a fair question/after all, she left a lot of sweat/ on that counter.
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In this collection he put his mark on Meat Poetry, an evolved style of raw and imagery such as this from Poem for My Parents- i remind her/that we are running out of time/that every moment of silence/is another wrinkle on our face/another memory/to hang our bones on. There is a rawness such as this from The Rainbow Family Would Never Have You – just before sundown/we wandered through the side streets/of your heart/ in search of adam’s rib/ our lips smacking/ as we wiped our sticky fingers/on the marrow of dusk.
 
County Route 705
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is full of ghost stories
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faded yearbook photos
of dreams that died
on loose gravel
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the sun shining
on our failures
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just hanging there
like a rusty hubcap
nailed to the cross
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Dorsey has given us a collection of poems, of characters of the heartland who live the hard life, who dream, who take the hits and keep getting up. The bonus in this collection are the beautiful images provided by the artist by Greg Edmondson. In his very Dorsey way, Shoot the Messenger, opens the window for others to understand and feel the struggle in the heartland.
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You can find the book here: Shoot the Messenger – John Dorsey
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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter

The Slide: Leyland, Bonds, and the Star-Crossed Pittsburgh Pirates

The Slide

Review by g emil reutter

It is spring and baseball is spinning toward the dog days of summer and the crisp air of champions made in the autumn air. There are the storied collapses of teams, say the ’64 Phillies or the famous Mitch Williams pitch in ’93 and of course the curse of the Bambino in Boston and the infamous error by Bill Buckner in ’86. Each franchise has some of these moments, some better known than the others. In Pittsburgh it is simply known as The Slide.

Richard and Stephen Peterson bring us a historic account of the Pittsburgh Pirates after they dominated the late ‘70’s with superstars and “We are Family”. The team collapsed after a dominating presence in baseball just as the steel industry collapsed in Pittsburgh and hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost. The team played as if trapped in the flues of a rusted out open hearth. The Peterson’s coordinate the despair of a collapsing economy with the collapse of a baseball team losing their economic base. Change of course comes not only in the economy of Pittsburgh but for the Pirates. Fans lust for the champions of the ‘70s stay away from the ballpark until the renaissance of the team catches up with the city. So it is that Bonds, Bonilla, VanSlyke, Drabek and Bream under the command of manager Jim Leyland bring hope back to the ball park in the early ‘90s although the fan base is reluctant after years of losing teams to embrace them. Yet, they cannot jump the hump, cannot get to the biggest show in baseball, the World Series.

As with other storied franchises, The Slide, burns eternal in Pittsburgh. With one out to go in the playoffs, one out away from the World Series, the Pirates blew it. Ex Pirate Bream ran to home plate as an Atlanta Brave, slid in for the winning run stealing the right of passage, the hopes and dreams of a city on the rebound as the Pirates once again went home and Atlanta to the series. The Slide not only represented yet another loss in the playoffs but a slide of great magnitude that lasted for 20 years as the Pirates dwelled in the muck of the basement of Major League Baseball.  In 2011 the slide stopped as the Pirates returned to championship form.

The Peterson’s presentation is simply outstanding as the book reads like a play by play announcer and contains all the drama that is baseball and of course all the drama that are the players. They are hard on Barry Bonds, not so much on Bobby Bonilla. The friction in the clubhouse during those ‘90s playoff years and the failure of Pittsburgh ownership to come off the money for Bonds and Bonilla resonate through the turmoil of the clubhouse until unity comes when they believe they are heading to the World Series only to lose it to The Slide.

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Slide-Leyland-Star-Crossed-Pittsburgh-Pirates/dp/0822964449

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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter

 

The Matter of Empire – Metaphysics and Mining in Colonial Peru

matter

.Review by g emil reutter

Orlando Bentancor brings us The Matter of Empire- Metaphysics and Mining in Colonial Peru at a time when the world is once again ignoring history, a history Bentancor brings to life in this excellent book on the conquest of the America’s by Spain. The philosophy of Francisco de Victoria rooted in Aristotelianism and Thomism. It is to Victoria that the Spanish crown turned to justify the conquest of the America’s and the treatment of the “Amerindians”.  Victoria a founder of the School of Salamanca  developed the philosophy of just war, freedom of commerce and the seas rooted in the belief of globalization and natural subordination. This is relevant in today’s world as the nations of the earth engage in globalization today on scale that Victoria who wrote in the 1500’s could only imagine.

Bentancor writes in great detail the emerging philosophy of Victoria that justified the rights of Spain to mine for gold and silver in South America in spite of any indigenous opposition. Victoria used Aristotle’s natural law, or natural subordination that people are born to lead or born to serve as the justification in the use of indigenous peoples to be forced to work in the mines as a right of Spain to free commerce. It was the right of Spain to impose its religion on the indigenous people, to mine their land and if resisted to conquer their territory in just war as a right of a superior people to impose their will on inferiors if resisted or attacked. Victoria rooted his theories in the western thought developed by Aristotelianism and Thomism. He used the foundation of Scholasticism and corrupted the teachings and philosophy of Thomas Aquinas as the basis for the brutal slaughter and enslavement of indigenous peoples during the Spanish conquest and globalization.

Natural subordination led to the great violence of the last millennium and millions of lost lives. Not only used by western culture but cultures around the globe to justify war, violence, slavery and man’s inhumanity to man no matter what mask it wears. In the beginning of this new millennium we continue to see the imposition of religious intolerance and suppression of people who are not in agreement with those who desire to impose their will on them, the forced global economy on the peoples of the world.

 

You can find the book here: https://www.upress.pitt.edu/BookDetails.aspx?bookId=36661