Just Life

Tuesdays are for Poetry.

Today’s poem is from a slim volume I bought in Sitka. The author owns the Sitka Rose Gallery, our first stop on the artist walking tour. It’s always a treat to buy a book directly from the author (and I’m thinking this one, which doesn’t even have a Goodreads entry, is going to be my micro press selection for the 2017 Read Harder Challenge).

From the author biography in the back of the book:

Eugene Solokov was born in Russin in 1964. He immigrated to the US when he was thirteen. He spent his teenage years in New York City, and received his BA in History from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He spent five years traveling around the world. In 1993, he opened, and continues to operate, the Sitka Rose Gallery.

I think I remember Eugene telling me that he wrote many of these poems while his marriage was breaking up. It’s a bittersweet collection for sure.

The poem “I hate you more and love you always” repeats these two lines “My love for you is always, do not fear.” and “I hate you more with every day, my dear.” And the shortest piece in the book, “Divorce” is three simple lines:

It’s only divorce,
it could have been worse: a flu
or an aneurysm.

There are 27 poems in all, including a collection of haikus. One of my favorites, though, is the title poem.

How to Frame a Landscape

It’s easy. Point and shoot. Then, cut out
the unsmiling man in the left corner
or the one picking his nose in the right
or the dog urinating on a fire hydrant
or the boy blowing chewing gum over his face
or the wife wandering off with her lover.

You can also add details which aren’t there:
a screaming eagle with a salmon in his claws
or a happily married couple holding hands
or your grandma strolling in her peculiar
yellow, polka-dot dress, both long departed.

Use Photoshop. Enhance, manipulate colors.
Add, subtract, multiply. Move the borders.
Lobotomize the photograph. It’s easy to learn
how to frame a landscape properly,
to your liking. It’s almost as easy as framing
a person, a friend perhaps, or a husband.

It’s made me think about the photographs I share here. What I crop out. How I edit the colors or paint over them with Waterlogue. (I’m not good enough with Photoshop to do much else.) The ones I decide not to share. (the photos I don’t take.) and as Marc and I approach our 34th anniversary, that last bit certainly gives me pause.

Thank you, Eugene, for giving me a different perspective, so beautifully described. I am enjoying it!

oops, we were in Sitka on the 22nd! but I decided that was a bit of landscape I didn’t need to re-frame 😊


  • AsKatKnits

    Oh, how fun! And, I especially love how he got the date wrong! Really, that is just simply the best – not really knowing (or caring) what the date is. It speaks of a well-occupied mind! Thanks for sharing!

  • Bonny

    I would love to go to Sitka and have a conversation with Eugene! That poem speaks to something I think about often – how it seems that appearance can matter more than substance. There's nothing wrong with presenting a photo in its best light, but problems may arise when we try to frame our lives. Thanks for an interesting poem!

  • Carole Julius

    While I think manipulating a photo is very different from manipulating (and attempting to change) a person, it's still an interesting thing to ponder. We can't always remove all the blemishes because a perfect life would be a dull life.