A Parallel Uni-Verse
Everywhere he went,
my cousin John carried
two tool boxes.
The smaller yellow one,
half the size of an ammo box,
was loaded with various drivers,
tap hammers, pinchers,
and adjustable pliers,
a collection, he told me,
that would accommodate
95% of all tasks.
These light tools,
precisely arrayed
and maintained to
a fine gloss,
he wielded like a surgeon.
They were extensions
to the tips of fingers
that saw better than eyes.
The larger tool box,
heavy diamond-plate metal,
spanned the front
of John's truck bed,
and it lugged
the heavy stuff,
bars, lifters, mauls,
which he employed
with the accuracy of a
skilled blacksmith.
When John would visit,
his very first words
after greeting us were always
"Do you have anything
you'd like me to do?"
A guy equipped and adept
with so many tools
does not like to sit,
and he had recognized
in our old farmhouse
a cornucopia of malfunction.
One time, only half-seriously,
my wife asked John
if he could fix our pump,
whose erratic behavior
and weakening pressure
suggested a costly death spiral.
"Sure," John replied,
with the enthusiasm
inspired in him
by a complex problem.
"But first,
I need to tell you something."
Taking a seat on the porch,
he leaned forward,
his face signaling
the gravity of his words.
"You seldom can
really fix anything.
Mostly, you're adjusting something
so that, for a while,
it will work the way
you'd like it to."
As John grabbed
his yellow box
and headed for the basment,
my wife, awe-struck,
turned to me and,
in a respectful whisper,
styled my cousin
"the cosmic handyman."


Farnham Blair lives in Blue Hill, Maine. His books include Immanent Green: Poems and Peripheral Visions: Memoirs of a Washington Childhood.
The Cosmic Handyman
By Farnham Blair
First, I think of
all those family
gatherings at which
the father or uncle
who had appointed himself,
usually in perpetuity,
as the official recorder
of our memories
and the overseer of our
collective self-consciousness
would, at a predictably
inconvenient moment,
order us into straight lines,
raise his Brownie,
and demand a cheesy smile,
the resulting fictions
to be preserved
in an album that would
chronologically showcase
a merriment that never was.
He had taken
genuine feeling
and insisted that it be false.
Later, much later,
as I began to think
about the better possibilities
of photography,
I realized that men
and women like
Cartier-Bresson and
Margaret Bourke-White
also used small cameras
to grab snapshots,
but that they, unlike
my family's chroniclers
of impossible Thanksgivings,
sought only the images
closest to the truth
of the moment.
To achieve
this rare power,
they had learned to keep
a subject's awareness
of their presence
below the point
at which it diminishes
the authenticity
of the picture.
Modern artists,
they embraced the
vitality of spontaneity.
Bresson would not pose
a child in mid-leap
over a puddle,
nor would White
ask the rivet-catcher
to please step out
just a little bit further
along the beam of the skyscraper.
The snapshot artist never calls
his subject to the camera;
instead, he brings the camera
to the subject
and waits until its inner life
reveals itself.

Farnham Blair lives in Blue Hill, Maine. His books include Immanent Green: Poems and Peripheral Visions: Memoirs of a Washington Childhood..
Snapshot
By Farnham Blair
Inside Winter: Three Haiku
By Farnham Blair
All locked doors challenge
our passage. None holds faster
than winter to spring.

Snow is the stranger
who lurks at the gate until
the sun’s back is turned.

We see what we wish.
How much desire will give us
black trees turning green?


Farnham Blair lives in Blue Hill, Maine. His books include Immanent Green: Poems and Peripheral Visions: Memoirs of a Washington Childhood.
Puffs of light green leaves
rising along the ridges,
the measure of spring.

*

So many bluets
that your shoes cannot avoid
crushing innocence.

*

In the warming air
the horizon rolls and lifts
in billows of cloud.

10 June 2016


Farnham Blair lives in Blue Hill, Maine. His books include Immanent Green: Poems and Peripheral Visions: Memoirs of a Washington Childhood.
Spring haiku
By Farnham Blair