Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Garden of Bees

- Matthew Rohrer

close up of a honey bee on a bright yellow flower













The narcissus grows past
the towers. Eight gypsy
sisters spread their wings
in the garden. Their gold teeth
are unnerving. Every single
baby is asleep. They want
a little money and I give
them less. I'm charming and
handsome. They take my pen.
I buy the poem from the garden
of bees for one euro. A touch
on the arm. A mystery word.
The sky has two faces.
For reasons unaccountable
my hand trembles.
In Roman times if they were
horrified of bees they kept it secret.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause, let's face it,
Mondays can be so .  .  .  rough, hard, difficult.


Done With

- Ann Stanford

roots of large tree growing in spaces between decorative concrete path patternMy house is torn down--
Plaster sifting, the pillars broken,
Beams jagged, the wall crushed by the bulldozer.
The whole roof has fallen
On the hall and the kitchen
The bedrooms, the parlor.

They are trampling the garden--
My mother's lilac, my father's grapevine,
The freesias, the jonquils, the grasses.
Hot asphalt goes down
Over the torn stems, and hardens.

What will they do in springtime
Those bulbs and stems groping upward
That drown in earth under the paving,
Thick with sap, pale in the dark
As they try the unrolling of green.

May they double themselves
Pushing together up to the sunlight,
May they break through the seal stretched above them
Open and flower and cry we are living.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ashes of Life

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Love has gone and left me and the days are all alike;
Eat I must, and sleep I will,—and would that night were here!
But ah!—to lie awake and hear the slow hours strike!
Would that it were day again!—with twilight near!

Love has gone and left me and I don't know what to do;
This or that or what you will is all the same to me;
But all the things that I begin I leave before I'm through,—
There's little use in anything as far as I can see.

Love has gone and left me,—and the neighbors knock and borrow,
And life goes on forever like the gnawing of a mouse,—
And to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow
There's this little street and this little house.


PHOTO: Edna St Vincent Millay per Arnold Genthe.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nonsense Alphabet

- Edward Lear

A

A was an ant
Who seldom stood still,
And who made a nice house
In the side of a hill.

a
Nice little ant!

*

B

B was a book
With a binding of blue,
And pictures and stories
For me and for you.

b
Nice little book!

*

C

C was a cat
Who ran after a rat;
But his courage did fail
When she seized on his tail.

c
Crafty old cat!

*

D

D was a duck
With spots on his back,
Who lived in the water,
And always said "Quack!"

d
Dear little duck!

*

E

E was an elephant,
Stately and wise:
He had tusks and a trunk,
And two queer little eyes.

e
Oh, what funny small eyes!

*

F

F was a fish
Who was caught in a net;
But he got out again,
And is quite alive yet.

f
Lively young fish!

*

G

G was a goat
Who was spotted with brown:
When he did not lie still
He walked up and down.

g
Good little goat!

*

H

H was a hat
Which was all on one side;
Its crown was too high,
And its brim was too wide.

h
Oh, what a hat!

*

I

I was some ice
So white and so nice,
But which nobody tasted;
And so it was wasted.

i
All that good ice!

*

J

J was a jackdaw
Who hopped up and down
In the principal street
Of a neighboring town.

j
All through the town!

*

K

K was a kite
Which flew out of sight,
Above houses so high,
Quite into the sky.

k
Fly away, kite!

*

L

L was a light
Which burned all the night,
And lighted the gloom
Of a very dark room.

l
Useful nice light!

*

brigh, multi-colored graffiti alphabet against a black backgroundM

M was a mill
Which stood on a hill,
And turned round and round
With a loud hummy sound.

m
Useful old mill!

*

N

N was a net
Which was thrown in the sea
To catch fish for dinner
For you and for me.

n
Nice little net!

*

O

O was an orange
So yellow and round:
When it fell off the tree,
It fell down to the ground.

o
Down to the ground!

*

P

P was a pig,
Who was not very big;
But his tail was too curly,
And that made him surly.

p
Cross little pig!

*

Q

Q was a quail
With a very short tail;
And he fed upon corn
In the evening and morn.

q
Quaint little quail!

*

R

R was a rabbit,
Who had a bad habit
Of eating the flowers
In gardens and bowers.

r
Naughty fat rabbit!

*

S

S was the sugar-tongs,
sippity-see,
To take up the sugar
To put in our tea.

s
sippity-see!

*

T

T was a tortoise,
All yellow and black:
He walked slowly away,
And he never came back.

t
Torty never came back!

*

U

U was an urn
All polished and bright,
And full of hot water
At noon and at night.

u
Useful old urn!

*

V

V was a villa
Which stood on a hill,
By the side of a river,
And close to a mill.

v
Nice little villa!

*

W

W was a whale
With a very long tail,
Whose movements were frantic
Across the Atlantic.

w
Monstrous old whale!

*

X


X was King Xerxes,
Who, more than all Turks, is
Renowned for his fashion
Of fury and passion.

x
Angry old Xerxes!

*

Y


Y was a yew,
Which flourished and grew
By a quiet abode
Near the side of a road.

y
Dark little yew!

*

Z

Z was some zinc,
So shiny and bright,
Which caused you to wink
In the sun's merry light.

z
Beautiful zinc!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Quote of the Day



[G]overnments that elevate money and firearms over human life, that treat its people and their will with such indifference — such governments eventually lose not only honor, but credibility. People lose the reason to believe.  
Eventually, a deep and abiding apathy prevails. Either that, or someone picks up a brick.



No World Is Intact

- Alice Notley

No world is intact
and no one cares about you.

I leaned down over
don’t care about, I care about
you
I leaned down over the

world in portrayal
of carefulness, answering

something you couldn’t say.
walking or fallen and you
were supposed
to give therapy to me—

me leaning down
brushing with painted feathers
to the left chance your operatic,
broken

book.

from: Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2005. Copyright 2006.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

You Can't Go Home Again . . . Or . . . Can You


black and white photo collage of homeless man and broken brick wall
Beautiful photo via 

My Childhood Home I See Again

- Abraham Lincoln

My childhood home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There's pleasure in it too.

O Memory! thou midway world
'Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,

And, freed from all that's earthly vile,
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.

As dusky mountains please the eye
When twilight chases day;
As bugle-notes that, passing by,
In distance die away;

As leaving some grand waterfall,
We, lingering, list its roar—
So memory will hallow all
We've known, but know no more.

Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.

Where many were, but few remain
Of old familiar things;
But seeing them, to mind again
The lost and absent brings.

The friends I left that parting day,
How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
And half of all are dead.

I hear the loved survivors tell
How nought from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell,
And every spot a grave.

I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)
I'm living in the tombs.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I Have Some Catching Up to Do

sad looking yellow tabby catI've been out sick for a week or so, and happily, the blog just went on its merry way, on a sort of auto pilot. But . . .

You know how folks with OCD feel compelled to complete their tasks for fear that something bad will happen? Well, I have a hard time disconnecting from the news (whatever the source) for fear that I will miss something. This isn't a fear that I won't know everything. More like a fear that something will sneak up behind me, and there'll be no defense. . . . I was out of touch and bad things happened. I'm sorry.

Yeah, I know. But therapy is expensive.

My heart breaks for those whose lives have been marred by tragedy. I feel so insignificant, inconsequential, and there is so little I can do. But this is not about me. There is so much I'd like to say, but what it all comes down to is, these people need action not words. Many of them are going to have overwhelming medical debt to compound their suffering. I could not be the one to jump hurdles or rush into the smoke and flames, but I can give the little bit I have to help someone else. I hope you'll join me.
cartoon kids holding sign that says please help

Here are a couple of posts with some 
relevant information and links on giving:



Here are a couple of established charities with
great track records:

* Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund contributions assist Red Cross relief efforts everywhere.

* Limbs For Life Foundation helps people with serious limb trauma, leading to expensive rehabilitation and prosthetics they can't afford.


And some area specific charities:

Boston

(from the Boston AG) Donors should check if charities are registered or have been rated on websites such as charitynavigator.org, bbb.org/charity or the attorney general’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division at mass.gov/charitiesreports. Also check if websites that solicit donations match an established charity, are secure and have been linked by legitimate organizations. Visit mass.gov/ago for more tips on donating wisely.

* onefundboston.org. (Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino established this fund after the attack.)

* Visit www.bosfirecu.com to donate. (At least six Boston police and firefighters unions set up this fund after the bombing to aid victims. It is set up at the Boston Firefighters Credit Union.)

* Visit americasfund.org/donate. Click “yes” for the question, “Is this donation in support of an event, campaign or fundraiser?” Select “Boston Marathon Relief Fund” from the next drop-down menu.
(This nonprofit has established a Boston Marathon Relief Fund as part of its existing America’s Fund to assist victims of the bombing.)
According to its website, the Semper Fi Fund has raised $74 million over the past decade to help injured or critically ill U.S. troops and their families. Assistance from the Boston Marathon Relief Fund “will start with the most critically injured and expand as we receive donations,” the website says.
Charity Navigator has given the Semper Fi Fund its highest four-star rating, and the group is registered both as a nonprofit and with the attorney general’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division.
Texas

* The Blood Center of Central Texas. With so many injured, blood will be in high demand at hospitals and emergency stations. Consider making an appointment to give later in the month.

* Atheist Giving Aid. We don’t get the luxury of planning for when tragedies strike. 

* Catholic Charities, Central Texas works with the Red Cross and handles more long-term case management.


Also . . . 

littl girl holds out sparkly heart* We might spare a thought for the victims of the Exxon Oil pipeline breaks. (if you're brave try this link to a list of American oil spills in the 20th century.)

* Remember the town of Newton, Mass. (and every other town) and the ongoing battle for common sense gun control laws that are somehow controversial now. Here is a layout of representative stances on legislation as well as other pertinent information. And here are links for contact information for elected officials?

* Continued support for the provisions of the unfolding Affordable Care Act would also be a good thing.


Perhaps one day people will only have to worry about surviving and healing, and not losing everything the worked for when they're most vulnerable.

Quote of the Day


"As a reminder, Mr. Speaker, I do believe this has been forgotten entirely by many of my colleagues today: Each of us put our hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. We did not place our hands on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."  
- Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims (D).

Stop Me If You've Heard This One . . .

raven on a branch








The Raven
- Edgar Allan Poe


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door—
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"—
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
'Tis the wind and nothing more!"

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never—nevermore.'"

But the Raven still beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting—
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Yellow Beak

- Stephen Dobyns

A man owns a green parrot with a yellow beak
that he carries on his shoulder each day to work.
He runs a pet shop and the parrot is his trademark.

Each morning the man winds his way from his bus
through the square, four or five blocks. There goes
the parrot, people say. Then at night, he comes back.

The man himself is nondescript—a little overweight,
thinning hair of no color at all. It's like the parrot owns
the man, not the reverse. Then one day the man dies.

He was old. It was bound to happen. At first people
feel mildly upset. The butcher thinks he has forgotten
a customer who owes him money. The baker thinks

he's catching a cold. Soon they get it right—the parrot
is gone. Time seems out of sorts, but sets itself straight
as people forget. Then years later the fellow who ran

the diner wakes from a dream where he saw the parrot
flying along all by itself, flapping by in the morning
and cruising back home at night. Those were the years

of the man's marriage, the start of his family, the years
when the muddle of his life began to work itself out;
and it's as if the parrot were at the root of it all, linking

the days like pearls on a string. Foolish of course, but
do you see how it might happen? We wake at night
and recall an event that seems to define a fixed period

of time, perhaps the memory of a beat-up bike we had
as a kid, or a particular chair where we sat and laughed
with friends; a house, a book, a piece of music, even

a green parrot winding its way through city streets.
And do you see that bubble of air balanced at the tip
of its yellow beak? That's the time in which we lived.




Monday, April 22, 2013

#CISPABlackout, #StopCISPA

What is CISPA?

Under the guise of cyber-security, CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) is a bill that would grant corporations the power to share our emails, Facebook messages, and other sensitive online data with the government - all without a warrant.

CISPA would kill online privacy as we know it - nullifying the laws that require big corporations to keep our information private from government agencies like the National Security Agency. Those corporations wouldn't have to notify you that they have done this and you wouldn't be able to take legal action against them if they made a mistake when sharing your information.

While strong information security is critical to privacy and civil liberties, CISPA does almost nothing to prevent this. All it does is give the government access to your information.

We beat CISPA last year when hundreds of thousands of Americans signed online petitions to let lawmakers know that our online privacy rights are not negotiable. But this bill is back and politicians who want the government to be able to read your emails and see what you purchase online are hoping you won’t speak out this time.

Together we can beat CISPA again!



Call Your Senator!
One call to your senator is worth 100 signatures on a petition.

Sign the Petition!
Make your voice heard, let the senate know how you feel about CISPA.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Waltz We Were Born For

- Walt McDonald

I never knew them all, just hummed
and thrummed my fingers with the radio,
driving five hundred miles to Austin.
Her arms held all the songs I needed.
Our boots kept time with fiddles
and the charming sobs of blondes,

the whine of steel guitars
sliding us down in deer-hide chairs
when jukebox music was over.
Sad music's on my mind tonight
in a jet high over Dallas, earphones
on channel five. A lonely singer,

dead, comes back to beg me,
swearing in my ears she's mine,
rhymes set to music that make
her lies seem true. She's gone
and others like her, leaving their songs
to haunt us. Letting down through clouds

I know who I'll find waiting at the gate,
the same woman faithful to my arms
as she was those nights in Austin
when the world seemed like a jukebox,
our boots able to dance forever,
our pockets full of coins.

from: Whatever the Wind Delivers. Copyright 1999.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel."

- Jimi Hendrix


Illustration source: 

The Weary Blues

 - Langston Hughes

Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,
I heard a Negro play.
Down on Lenox Avenue the other night
By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light
He did a lazy sway . . .
He did a lazy sway . . .
To the tune o' those Weary Blues.
With his ebony hands on each ivory key
He made that poor piano moan with melody.
O Blues!
Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool
He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool.
Sweet Blues!
Coming from a black man's soul.
O Blues!
In a deep song voice with a melancholy tone
I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan—
"Ain't got nobody in all this world,
Ain't got nobody but ma self.
I's gwine to quit ma frownin'
And put ma troubles on the shelf."

Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor.
He played a few chords then he sang some more—
"I got the Weary Blues
And I can't be satisfied.
Got the Weary Blues
And can't be satisfied—
I ain't happy no mo'
And I wish that I had died."
And far into the night he crooned that tune.
The stars went out and so did the moon.
The singer stopped playing and went to bed
While the Weary Blues echoed through his head.
He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.

from: The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. Copyright 1994.

Friday, April 19, 2013

From the Mouths of Babes . . .


sometimes you just need to take a nap and get over it. Maura Stuard, age 8

The High-Toned Old Christian Woman

 - Wallace Stevens

Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,
The conscience is converted into palms,
Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle. That's clear. But take
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began. Allow,
Therefore, that in the planetary scene
Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed,
Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,
Proud of such novelties of the sublime,
Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk,
May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves
A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.
This will make widows wince. But fictive things
Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.

from: Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright 1954.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Put a Poem in Your Pocket . . .


Celebrate National Poetry Month by spreading Poetry Awareness!

POETS.org encourages us to select a poem we love, and carry it with us to share with co-workers, family, and friends. They offer tons of wonderful poetry from which to choose. Another good source for poetry is the Poetry Foundation. I have also collected a few lovely sites that promote poetry under the 'Persona Poetica' heading on my side bar.

Find out more about Poem in Your Pocket Day here.

The poem I'm carrying with me:

When I Consider How My Light Is Spent
- John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or His own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."


The last line is famous, even to those who've never cracked a book of verse, but the rest of the sonnet also has much to say. It speaks to some struggles that have decided to make themselves at home here, in my life. It comforts and encourages me in my times of frustration and discouragement. Each time I read it I can feel a hand squeeze my shoulder, sense the encouraging head nod.
This is the poem I'd like to put in my pocket.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Modern Day Parable . . .

.  .  .  Or something like that.
Introducing

by Sean Kenny
(click on the title to be transported)

black Lego ant carrying a red Lego shoe


Anthem for Doomed Youth

- Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ave Maria

- Frank O'Hara
black and white photo of children laughing at a movie theater

Mothers of America
let your kids go to the movies!
get them out of the house so they won't know what you're up to
it's true that fresh air is good for the body
but what about the soul
that grows in darkness, embossed by silvery images
and when you grow old as grow old you must
they won't hate you
they won't criticize you they won't know
they'll be in some glamorous country
they first saw on a Saturday afternoon or playing hookey

they may even be grateful to you
for their first sexual experience
which only cost you a quarter
and didn't upset the peaceful home
they will know where candy bars come from
and gratuitous bags of popcorn
as gratuitous as leaving the movie before it's over
with a pleasant stranger whose apartment is in the Heaven on Earth Bldg
near the Williamsburg Bridge
oh mothers you will have made the little tykes
so happy because if nobody does pick them up in the movies
they won't know the difference
and if somebody does it'll be sheer gravy
and they'll have been truly entertained either way
instead of hanging around the yard
or up in their room
                                            hating you
prematurely since you won't have done anything horribly mean yet
except keeping them from the darker joys
it's unforgivable the latter
so don't blame me if you won't take this advice
and the family breaks up
and your children grow old and blind in front of a TV set
seeing
movies you wouldn't let them see when they were young


from: Lunch Poems. Copyright © 1964.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so .  .  .  hard, rough, difficult.


Possum Crossing

- Nikki Giovanni

Backing out the driveway
the car lights cast an eerie glow
in the morning fog centering
on movement in the rain slick street

Hitting brakes I anticipate a squirrel or a cat or sometimes
a little raccoon
I once braked for a blind little mole who try though he did
could not escape the cat toying with his life
Mother-to-be possum occasionally lopes home . . . being
naturally . . . slow her condition makes her even more ginger

We need a sign POSSUM CROSSING to warn coffee-gurgling neighbors:
we share the streets with more than trucks and vans and
railroad crossings

All birds being the living kin of dinosaurs
think themselves invincible and pay no heed
to the rolling wheels while they dine
on an unlucky rabbit

I hit brakes for the flutter of the lights hoping it's not a deer
or a skunk or a groundhog
coffee splashes over the cup which I quickly put away from me
and into the empty passenger seat
I look . . .
relieved and exasperated ...
to discover I have just missed a big wet leaf
struggling . . . to lift itself into the wind
and live


from: Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea. Copyright 2003.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Each act of tenderness amends the violence of history."

black and white photo of the words 'love story' stenciled on an old brick wall with weeds in front of it

I came across a wonderful poem on Poets.org, called:


and I absolutely love it!

I can't paste it here so please click on the title to go to the site and read it in full (it's short)(and powerful).


Saturday, April 13, 2013

I Think I Taught Some of These Kids this Year . . .


cartoon of several kids poking a book with a stick and asking what it is


Beyond the Years

- Paul Laurence Dunbar

I

Beyond the years the answer lies,
Beyond where brood the grieving skies
And Night drops tears.
Where Faith rod-chastened smiles to rise
And doff its fears,
And carping Sorrow pines and dies—
Beyond the years.

II

Beyond the years the prayer for rest
Shall beat no more within the breast;
The darkness clears,
And Morn perched on the mountain's crest
Her form uprears—
The day that is to come is best,
Beyond the years.

III

Beyond the years the soul shall find
That endless peace for which it pined,
For light appears,
And to the eyes that still were blind
With blood and tears,
Their sight shall come all unconfined
Beyond the years.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Quote of the Decade!


 [N]ever confuse right and left in politics
 with right and wrong in life. 

 - former state Sen. Bob Spada,
 President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio.

An Octave Above Thunder

- Carol Muske-Dukes
... reverberation
  Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
  He who was living is now dead
  We who were living are now dying
  With a little patience.


--T. S. Eliot,
"What the Thunder Said"
1

She began as we huddled, six of us,
in the cellar, raising her voice above
those towering syllables...

Never mind she cried when storm candles
flickered, glass shattered upstairs.
Reciting as if on horseback,
she whipped the meter,

trampling rhyme, reining in the reins
of the air with her left hand as she
stood, the washing machine behind her
stunned on its haunches, not spinning.

She spun the lines around each other,
her gaze fixed. I knew she'd silenced
a cacophony of distractions in her head,
to summon what she owned, rote-bright:

Of man's first disobedience,
  and the fruit...
  of the flower in a crannied wall
  and one clear call...

for the child who'd risen before school assemblies:
eerie Dakota rumble that rolled yet never brought
rain breaking over the podium. Her voice rose,
an octave above thunder:

When I consider how my light is spent--
I thought of her light, poured willy-nilly.
in this dark world and wide: half-blind, blind,
a widening distraction Getting and spending
 we lay waste our powers
...Different poem, a trick!

Her eyes singled me out as the wind slowed.
Then, reflective, I'd rather be / a Pagan
 sucked in a creed outworn / than a dullard
  with nothing by heart.


It was midsummer, Minnesota. In the sky,
the Blind Poet blew sideways, his cape spilling
rain. They also serve! she sang, hailing
closure

as I stopped hearing her. I did not want to
stand and wait. I loathed nothing so much
as the forbearance now in her voice,
insisting that Beauty was at hand,

but not credible. I considered
how we twisted into ourselves to live.
When the storm stopped, I sat still,
listening.

Here were the words of the Blind Poet--
crumpled like wash for the line, to be
dried, pressed flat. Upstairs, someone called
my name. What sense would it ever

make to them, the unread world, the getters and spenders,
if they could not hear what I heard,
not feel what I felt
nothing ruined poetry, a voice revived it,
extremity.


from: An Octave Above Thunder: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 1997.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

It's Simple, Really.


graphic asking if you need a new book. the answer is always yes


Who Has Seen the Wind?

dandelion seeds blowing in the wind
- Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

[O were my love yon Lilac fair]

 - Robert Burns

O were my love yon Lilac fair,
Wi' purple blossoms to the Spring,
And I, a bird to shelter there,
When wearied on my little wing!
How I wad mourn when it was torn
By Autumn wild, and Winter rude!
But I wad sing on wanton wing,
When youthfu' May its bloom renew'd.
O gin my love were yon red rose,
That grows upon the castle wa';
And I myself a drap o' dew,
Into her bonie breast to fa'!
O there, beyond expression blest,
I'd feast on beauty a' the night;
Seal'd on her silk-saft faulds to rest,
Till fley'd awa by Phoebus' light!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Each year

- Dora Malech

I snap the twig to try to trap
the springing and I relearn the same lesson.
You cannot make a keepsake of this season.
Your heart's not the source of that sort of sap,
lacks what it takes to fuel, rejects the graft,
though for a moment it's your guilty fist
that's flowering. You're no good host to this
extremity that points now, broken, back at
the dirt as if to ask are we there yet.
You flatter this small turn tip of a larger
book of matches that can't refuse its end,
re-fuse itself, un-flare. Sure. Now forget
again. Here's a new green vein, another
clutch to take, give, a handful of seconds.

Copyright 2010.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kilt Monday, Redux! Hey, I Found More Pics . . .

'Cause, let's face it,
 Mondays can be so . . . hard, rough, difficult.


This one's for Wolfy at Opinions of a Wolf. See anything you like there, Wolfy? 


After dark vapors have oppress'd our plains

 - John Keats

After dark vapors have oppress'd our plains
   For a long dreary season, comes a day
   Born of the gentle South, and clears away
From the sick heavens all unseemly stains.
The anxious month, relieved of its pains,
   Takes as a long-lost right the feel of May;
   The eyelids with the passing coolness play
Like rose leaves with the drip of Summer rains.
The calmest thoughts came round us; as of leaves
   Budding—fruit ripening in stillness—Autumn suns
Smiling at eve upon the quiet sheaves—
Sweet Sappho's cheek—a smiling infant's breath—
   The gradual sand that through an hour-glass runs—
A woodland rivulet—a Poet's death.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Please, Please, Please . . .



Memories?



How many times have you been in a library or book store, or someone's house (even your own) closed your eyes, and reveled in that 'old book smell'?

What does it suggest to you?

For me it's summers under the weeping willow reading impossible books while fortified with soda and black licorice.   

- - - - - - - - - - Or in my grandmother's attic,
 pawing through old, family boxes.

- - - - - - - - - - Or reading on the sofa with my mom,
 often books from those same old boxes.

 
Want to know what causes that 'old book smell'? Check out Mental_floss. Why are smells so connected to memories? BBC Future has that answer.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

“That question, though understandable it’s … I mean, quite frankly, it’s ridiculous.”

 
I can't get this powerful little two minute video by Micah Bournes to imbed, so please go over to Vimeo and watch it. 

And while you're at it, stop by Micah Bournes' website for a visit.

Please! Please! Please! Please! 
Please! Please! Please! 
Please!







& then . . . 
  
Hop on over to Minnie Bruce's website 
(That's what she goes by, you know, "like Fannie Lou or Rita Mae.")
 for some powerful poetry, and possibly, a little enlightenment.

Justice, Come Down
- Minnie Bruce Pratt
A huge sound waits, bound in the ice,
in the icicle roots, in the buds of snow
on fir branches, in the falling silence
of snow, glittering in the sun, brilliant
as a swarm of gnats, nothing but hovering
wings at midday. With the sun comes noise.
Tongues of ice break free, fall, shatter,
splinter, speak. If I could write the words.

Simple, like turning a page, to say Write
what happened, but this means a return
to the cold place where I am being punished.
Alone to the stony circle where I am frozen,
the empty space, children, mother, father gone,
lover gone away. There grief still sits
and waits, grim, numb, keeping company with
anger. I can smell my anger like sulfur-
struck matches. I wanted what had happened
to be a wall to burn, a window to smash.
At my fist the pieces would sparkle and fall.
All would be changed. I would not be alone.

Instead I have told my story over and over
at parties, on the edge of meetings, my life
clenched in my fist, my eyes brittle as glass.

Ashamed, people turned their faces away
from the woman ranting, asking: Justice,
stretch out your hand. Come down, glittering,
from where you have hidden yourself away.



from: The Dirt She Ate: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 2003.
 

Friday, April 5, 2013

"I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am."


Those words, of course, come to us from Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. It was the prompts for the Poetry Project this month that brought these words to my mind. Don't ask me why. The connections in there are mysterious and elusive.

This month the Project asks us to consider:


What would have made me appreciate poetry more when I was younger? 
                                 & 
How would I raise a poetry reader?

When I was young, I looooooooved reading. But I didn't discover poetry until middle school. Even then, I didn't care for most of what we studied in school. (Some of it I still don't care for, and I think it may be specifically because I did study it in school.) 

We studied 'classic' poetry and were told how wonderful it was. It goes without saying that we were expected to love it whether we understood it or not, and most of us didn't. (understand it or love it)  We were told the exact meaning of each piece. (no room for interpretation) Each reading was for a specific purpose. (never for pleasure) And we were never made aware that there were many more choices either: poets, poems, subjects, styles . . .

As my middle school days were winding down, an English teacher encouraged me to write poetry. In doing this she changed poetry from something that was outside of myself and distant, to something that flourished on the inside. I never looked back.

I raised three avid readers; but although I love poetry and am constantly on the hunt for new (to me) poets and their offerings, none of my spawn really care much for poetry. 

What can I say? I tried my best. 

Ours was a house full of books, where reading was just what everyone did. I never had to force my kids to read. Because they saw it all the time, they internalized that it was just a normal part of life. For two of them, this was in spite of learning disabilities. (all bragging aside) 

We read together. I found as much 'child friendly poetry as I could for them, and I shared the pieces that moved or amused me. I also encourage them to explore their own creativity. All to no avail. As much as they all love reading, they're just not into poetry.

 
So, to recap ... While raising my own children, I avoided all the things that I believed turned me away from poetry when I was young so that I could encourage the love of poetry in them. 

And I found . . . that it made no difference. 

My highly scientific conclusion is that although we can foster an openness to great writing, we can't foment a love for any particular genre, writer, or piece. 

However, every bit of imagination and creativity that we feed our children nurtures their very being. When we plant such seeds, the gardens that grow can't help but be wondrous! 

  




Eric G. Wilson has some ideas on fostering the love of poetry in young people in Poetry Makes You Weird. He shares with his students what the poetry says to him, how it has opened his eyes.





But I now no longer unleash the literary giants. I simply tell my disgruntled students about the first time I read, as an undergraduate, these lines:

There's a certain Slant of light,

Winter Afternoons—

That oppresses, like the Heft

Of Cathedral Tunes—

I had often witnessed beams of dull December light with a melancholy I didn't understand. Dickinson's flash clarified my feelings: In the impoverished glow of the cold time were heavy reminders of brightness I desired but couldn't possess. But this affliction had fever, intimations of future heat that was luminous, like hymns.

Dickinson's verse spelled out the abstruse, made the strange familiar. In this new intimacy, however, was a novel astonishment: The chilly light from that day onward exposed the enigmas of longing, both tormenting and radiant. Her poetry left me amazed—caught in wonderment as well as labyrinth.


And that brings us back around to Sylvia Plath:  

"I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am."

Spring in New Hampshire

 - Claude McKay

Too green the springing April grass,
Too blue the silver-speckled sky,
For me to linger here, alas,
While happy winds go laughing by,
Wasting the golden hours indoors,
Washing windows and scrubbing floors.

Too wonderful the April night,
Too faintly sweet the first May flowers,
The stars too gloriously bright,
For me to spend the evening hours,
When fields are fresh and streams are leaping,
Wearied, exhausted, dully sleeping.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Goodbye Mr. Ebert. We'll See You At the Movies.







On Tuesday Roger Ebert wrote on his blog, Roger Ebert's Journal, that he planned to slow down and take it easy. Today we hear that he has left us. My thoughts are with His wife Chaz, their family, and those who knew and loved him.





I have a soft spot in my heart for those who are capable of deep compassion, critical thinking, and stunning command of language. I did not always agree with Mr. Ebert's movie reviews, but he always made me think. As his illness progressed and he lost the ability to speak his voice seemed to crystallize. Humor, intelligence, and compassion informed his writing and his life, and it is with a heavy heart, therefore, I say goodby to Roger Ebert.


"I have no desire to live forever. The concept frightens me. I am 69, have had cancer, will die sooner than most of those reading this. That is in the nature of things. In my plans for life after death, I say, again with Whitman:

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,

If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
 - Roger Ebert,
His memoir: Life Itself.

More Rain . . .


Spring rain
conveyed under the trees
in drops.

Spring rain
Leaking through the roof,
Dripping from the wasps' nest.

              Skylark on moor --
              Sweet song
              Of non-attachment.

                                                                                                         A mountain pheasant cry
                                                                                                         fills me with fond longing for
                                                                                                         father and mother



Photo by: PrettyMoment
More Haiku at: The Haiga Pages

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ode to Spring

- Frederick Seidel

I can only find words for.
And sometimes I can't.
Here are these flowers that stand for.
I stand here on the sidewalk.

I can't stand it, but yes of course I understand it.
Everything has to have meaning.
Things have to stand for something.
I can't take the time. Even skin-deep is too deep.

I say to the flower stand man:
Beautiful flowers at your flower stand, man.
I'll take a dozen of the lilies.
I'm standing as it were on my knees

Before a little man up on a raised
Runway altar where his flowers are arrayed
Along the outside of the shop.
I take my flames and pay inside.

I go off and have sexual intercourse.
The woman is the woman I love.
The room displays thirteen lilies.
I stand on the surface.


from: Poems 1959-2009. Copyright 2009.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Regardless of Your Political Bent, If You Love Poetry You Can Appreciate a Magnificent Nod to a Classic Poem . . .

i.e. The Cremation of Sam McGee, by Robert Service.

This wonderful little paean comes from Geoffrey Dunn at HuffPo. In case you hadn't noticed, Mr. Dunn includes links to some of the scandalous claims in his poem. I've only excerpted the poem here, so please head on over to HuffPo to read the rest.

The Cremation of Sarah Palin

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By politicians who moil for graft;
The Juneau jails have their secret tales
That would make you burn in the ass;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
And heard every wolf a wailin',
But none hit the soul, as those two recent polls,
And the cremation of Sarah Palin.


Now Sarah Palin was from Wasilla,
Where methamphetamine runs and flows.
Why she left Lake Lucille for an outside thrill,
The good God only knows.
She was always ambitious, if a little oblivious,
New York and Hollywood cast their spell;
Though she lied through her teeth and padded bra underneath,
That "she'd soon rather live in hell."

Near Valentine's Day, Todd was grinding his way
Over the Iron Dog Trail.
Talk of your cold! Through her Arctic Cat parka's fold,
It stabbed like a driven nail.
The only things worse, was listening to her
When the governorship she was bailin'.
It was absolutely a curse, and politically perverse,
To hear the whining of one Sarah Palin.


Only last month, came a chilling cold front,
As the Harper and Public Policy polls showed quite clearly,
Alaskans had had their fill of the Wasilla shrill,
And no longer loved her so dearly.
So she turned to Todd, seated right next to God,
sayin' : "I think I'll cash in with Fox;
And if I do, I'm pleading that you
Free me from Seward's Ice Box."

On her political deathbead, with Begich ahead,
Even Hilary trounced her in 2016.
"It's the curs├Ęd political cold, and it's got right hold,
'Til I'm chilled clean through to the spleen.
Yet 'tain't being dead -- it's my awful dread
Of being ignored that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair,
You'll cremate my political remains."

A gal's last need is a thing to heed,
So Todd swore he would not fail;
And with her makeup gone, at the streak of dawn;
But God! she looked ghastly pale.
She screeched at Todd, and those who blog,
Raving about days past on the campaign trail in...;
But come nightfall, a political corpse was all,
That was left of one Sarah Palin.

There wasn't a breath in that land of death,
And Todd hurried on, guilt-ridden,
With a corpse half hid that he couldn't get rid,
Because of his promise given;
It was lashed to the Cat, and it seemed to blat:
"You may tax your brawn and few brains,
But you promised true, and it's up to you
To cremate these last political remains."