STANZAS FOR CHRISTMAS 2021

Sculptures by MICHAEL C MCMILLEN Poem by WALLACE STEVENS

and a story by ROSANNA ALBERTINI

Photographs by PETER KIRBY

my Christmas is a kitchen looking at the road through a line of shivering trees they are phantoms of trees for eyes behind a window opaque with ice in the room poor as the winter. the stove mumbles chewing the red pieces of coal as red as the persimmons on top of the credenza. mother and daughter have a Christmas dream to celebrate deeply hidden in the night of time. they place some dry grass out of the window on the windowsill for the donkey of little Jesus coming by with Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. it was mother and daughter’s secret not to be told not even to grandma. a silent tiptoeing in the morning to check: the grass was gone and my heart lifted.

I WISH MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYBODY

WITH THE SAME SIMPLICITY

OF THE SECRET CELEBRATION OF MY EARLY DAYS

FOR A CLEAN SPACE IN OUR MINDS

AND A BROOM OF LIGHT SWEEPING FEARS AWAY

STANZAS FOR “THE MAN WITH THE BLUE GUITAR” by Wallace Stevens

III

The parrot in its balmy boughs /  Repeats the farmer's almanac.
A duckling of the wildest blood /  Convinces Athens with its quack.
Much too much thought, too little thought, / No thought at all: a guttural growl,
A snort across the silver-ware, /  The rose-leaves flying through the air.

IX

....... I read. "The subject of poetry / is poetry, things are as they are."
We hear them on the blue guitar. / The poet picks them as they are,
But picks them on a bue guitar /  A guitar that makes things as they are.
                                     X
But then things never really are. / How does it matter how I play
Or what I color what I say? / It all depends on inter-play
Or inter-play and inter-say, /  Like tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee,
Or ti-ri-la and ti-ri-li  / And these I play on my guitar
And leave the final atmosphere / To the imagination of the engineer.
I could not find it if I would. / I wouldn't find it if I could.
I cannot say what thing I play, / Because I play things as they are
And since they are not as they are, / I play them on a blue guitar.

XI

I play them on a blue guitar / And then things are not as they are.
The shaping of the instrument / Distorts the shape of what I meant,
Which takes a shape by accident. / Yet what I mean I always say.
The accident is how I play. / I still intend things as they are.
The greenish quaverings of day / Quiver upon the blue guitar.

XXI

To ride an old mule round the keys-- / Mature emotional gesture, that--
Blond weather.  One is born a saint, / Complete in wind-sucked poverty,
In such an air, poor as one's mule.  / Here, if there was a peak to climb,
One could watch the blue sea's blueness flow / And blacken into indigo.
But squint and squick, where no people are: / On such a peak, the blue guitar--
Blond weather. Give the mule his hay, / True, things are people as they are.

Michael C. McMillen’s sculptures were exhibited by LA LOUVER Gallery in “A Theory of Smoke, ” 2021