Monday, December 29, 2014

Kilt Monday!

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


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Saturday Farmer's Market - Winter Wonderland



Created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and now hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

The Saturday Farmer's Market posts have been non existent for quite a few weeks due to injury and chronic illness. My yard, which is mostly orchard and garden now, looks a bit wild and abandoned at the moment. But there are still quite a few gems scattered throughout.




But before I start . . .

Here I am decorating Christmas cookies with the grandkids.

I worked my fingers to the bone preparing for the holidays.










I planted two small packets of Marigolds in the spring and harvested about a quarter of the resulting seed.

I moved my pots to that area for the fall and winter only to see fallen seed sprouted all around the pots.









The Morning Glories that covered the cooler came back as well, but as we had our first frost last night, they will not be blooming.

So far, they are the only frost damage.










My first fall bulbs, Snow Drops, are beginning to bloom.

Since California rarely gets actual snow . . .












My large Rose bushes















are still blooming.









Floribundas are wonderful.






This little one was a Christmas present from the Birds.

At two feet high, it is the smallest Sunflower I've ever grown.













Here I am taking a few moments to rest with my cat 'Joon-bug.'













Most of my Poppies didn't make it through the summer, but a few did.













Even when I couldn't make it outside I was still able to do some work in the 'conservatory.'

I'll share more about it at a later date.










And finally, some artwork.

A fallen leaf perches on the point of an Agave plant with a backdrop of Lilacs.








Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas everyone, and May Your Holidays Be Safe and Happy.

                             From My House to Yours


Monday, December 22, 2014

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Emmett Till

- James A. Emanuel

I hear a whistling
Through the water.
Little Emmett
Won't be still.
He keeps floating
Round the darkness,
Edging through
The silent chill.
Tell me, please,
That bedtime story
Of the fairy
River Boy
Who swims forever,
Deep in treasures,
Necklaced in
A coral toy.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Whipping

- Robert Hayden

The old woman across the way
is whipping the boy again
and shouting to the neighborhood
her goodness and his wrongs.

Wildly he crashes through elephant ears,
pleads in dusty zinnias,
while she in spite of crippling fat
pursues and corners him.

She strikes and strikes the shrilly circling
boy till the stick breaks
in her hand. His tears are rainy weather
to woundlike memories:

My head gripped in bony vise
of knees, the writhing struggle
to wrench free, the blows, the fear
worse than blows that hateful

Words could bring, the face that I
no longer knew or loved . . .
Well, it is over now, it is over,
and the boy sobs in his room,

And the woman leans muttering against
a tree, exhausted, purged--
avenged in part for lifelong hidings
she has had to bear.

Friday, December 19, 2014

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)

- Robert Hayden

O masks and metamorphoses of Ahab, Native Son

I

The icy evil that struck his father down
and ravished his mother into madness
trapped him in violence of a punished self
struggling to break free.

As Home Boy, as Dee-troit Red,
he fled his name, became the quarry of
his own obsessed pursuit.

He conked his hair and Lindy-hopped,
zoot-suited jiver, swinging those chicks
in the hot rose and reefer glow.

His injured childhood bullied him.
He skirmished in the Upas trees
and cannibal flowers of the American Dream--

but could not hurt the enemy
powered against him there.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Lynching

- Claude McKay

His Spirit in smoke ascended to high heaven.
His father, by the cruelest way of pain,
Had bidden him to his bosom once again;
The awful sin remained still unforgiven.
All night a bright and solitary star
(Perchance the one that ever guided him,
Yet gave him up at last to Fate's wild whim)
Hung pitifully o'er the swinging char.
Day dawned, and soon the mixed crowds came to view
The ghastly body swaying in the sun
The women thronged to look, but never a one
Showed sorrow in her eyes of steely blue;
And little lads, lynchers that were to be,
Danced round the dreadful thing in fiendish glee.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Hanukkah




Today is the first day of the Festival of lights,
and my best to all who are celebrating.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Kilt Monday!

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


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Poetry

- Claude McKay

Sometimes I tremble like a storm-swept flower,
And seek to hide my tortured soul from thee.
Bowing my head in deep humility
Before the silent thunder of thy power.
Sometimes I flee before thy blazing light,
As from the specter of pursuing death;
Intimidated lest thy mighty breath,
Windways, will sweep me into utter night.
For oh, I fear they will be swallowed up--
The loves which are to me of vital worth,
My passion and my pleasure in the earth--
And lost forever in thy magic cup!
I fear, I fear my truly human heart
Will perish on the altar-stone of art!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Let America be America Again

- Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Letter Home

- Natasha Trethewey

                New Orleans, November 1910

Four weeks have passed since I left, and still
I must write to you of no work. I've worn down
the soles and walked through the tightness
of my new shoes calling upon the merchants,
their offices bustling. All the while I kept thinking
my plain English and good writing would secure
for me some modest position Though I dress each day
in my best, hands covered with the lace gloves
you crocheted--no one needs a girl. How flat
the word sounds, and heavy. My purse thins.
I spend foolishly to make an appearance of quiet
industry, to mask the desperation that tightens
my throat. I sit watching--

though I pretend not to notice--the dark maids
ambling by with their white charges. Do I deceive
anyone? Were they to see my hands, brown
as your dear face, they'd know I'm not quite
what I pretend to be. I walk these streets
a white woman, or so I think, until I catch the eyes
of some stranger upon me, and I must lower mine,
a negress again. There are enough things here
to remind me who I am. Mules lumbering through
the crowded streets send me into reverie, their footfall
the sound of a pointer and chalk hitting the blackboard
at school, only louder. Then there are women, clicking
their tongues in conversation, carrying their loads
on their heads. Their husky voices, the wash pots
and irons of the laundresses call to me.

I thought not to do the work I once did, back bending
and domestic; my schooling a gift--even those half days
at picking time, listening to Miss J--. How
I'd come to know words, the recitations I practiced
to sound like her, lilting, my sentences curling up
or trailing off at the ends. I read my books until
I nearly broke their spines, and in the cotton field,
I repeated whole sections I'd learned by heart,
spelling each word in my head to make a picture
I could see, as well as a weight I could feel
in my mouth. So now, even as I write this
and think of you at home, Goodbye

is the waving map of your palm, is
a stone on my tongue.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dreams

- Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hard Rock Returns To Prison From The Hospital For The Criminal Insane

- Etheridge Knight

Hard Rock was "known not to take no shit
From nobody," and he had the scars to prove it:
Split purple lips, lumbed ears, welts above
His yellow eyes, and one long scar that cut
Across his temple and plowed through a thick
Canopy of kinky hair.

The WORD was that Hard Rock wasn't a mean nigger
Anymore, that the doctors had bored a hole in his head,
Cut out part of his brain, and shot electricity
Through the rest. When they brought Hard Rock back,
Handcuffed and chained, he was turned loose,
Like a freshly gelded stallion, to try his new status.
and we all waited and watched, like a herd of sheep,
To see if the WORD was true.

As we waited we wrapped ourselves in the cloak
Of his exploits: "Man, the last time, it took eight
Screws to put him in the Hole." "Yeah, remember when he
Smacked the captain with his dinner tray?" "he set
The record for time in the Hole-67 straight days!"
"Ol Hard Rock! man, that's one crazy nigger."
And then the jewel of a myth that Hard Rock had once bit
A screw on the thumb and poisoned him with syphilitic spit.

The testing came to see if Hard Rock was really tame.
A hillbilly called him a black son of a bitch
And didn't lose his teeth, a screw who knew Hard Rock
>From before shook him down and barked in his face
And Hard Rock did nothing. Just grinned and look silly.
His empty eyes like knot holes in a fence.

And even after we discovered that it took Hard Rock
Exactly 3 minutes to tell you his name,
we told ourselves that he had just wised up,
Was being cool; but we could not fool ourselves for long.
And we turned away, our eyes on the ground. Crushed.
He had been our Destroyer, the doer of things
We dreamed of doing but could not bring ourselves to do.
The fears of years like a biting whip,
Had cut deep bloody grooves
Across our backs.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Night-Fire

- Claude McKay

No engines shrieking rescue storm the night,
And hose and hydrant cannot here avail;
The flames laugh high and fling their challenging light,
And clouds turn gray and black from silver-pale.
The fire leaps out and licks the ancient walls,
And the big building bends and twists and groans.
A bar drops from its place; a rafter falls
Burning the flowers. The wind in frenzy moans.
The watchers gaze, held wondering by the fire,
The dwellers cry their sorrow to the crowd,
The flames beyond themselves rise higher, higher,
To lose their glory in the frowning cloud,
Yielding at length the last reluctant breath.
And where life lay asleep broods darkly death.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Frederick Douglass

- Robert Hayden

When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
and terrible thing, needful to man as air,
usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,
when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,
reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more
than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:
this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro
beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world
where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,
this man, superb in love and logic, this man
shall be remembered. Oh, not with statues' rhetoric,
not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,
but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives
fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Democracy

- Langston Hughes

Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Freedom
Is a strong seed
Planted
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

The Negro Mother

- Langston Hughes

Children, I come back today
To tell you a story of the long dark way
That I had to climb, that I had to know
In order that the race might live and grow.
Look at my face -- dark as the night --
Yet shining like the sun with love's true light.
I am the dark girl who crossed the red sea
Carrying in my body the seed of the free.
I am the woman who worked in the field
Bringing the cotton and the corn to yield.
I am the one who labored as a slave,
Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave --
Children sold away from me, I'm husband sold, too.
No safety , no love, no respect was I due.

Three hundred years in the deepest South:
But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth .
God put a dream like steel in my soul.
Now, through my children, I'm reaching the goal.

Now, through my children, young and free,
I realized the blessing deed to me.
I couldn't read then. I couldn't write.
I had nothing, back there in the night.
Sometimes, the valley was filled with tears,
But I kept trudging on through the lonely years.
Sometimes, the road was hot with the sun,
But I had to keep on till my work was done:
I had to keep on! No stopping for me --
I was the seed of the coming Free.
I nourished the dream that nothing could smother
Deep in my breast -- the Negro mother.
I had only hope then , but now through you,
Dark ones of today, my dreams must come true:
All you dark children in the world out there,
Remember my sweat, my pain, my despair.
Remember my years, heavy with sorrow --
And make of those years a torch for tomorrow.
Make of my pass a road to the light
Out of the darkness, the ignorance, the night.
Lift high my banner out of the dust.
Stand like free men supporting my trust.
Believe in the right, let none push you back.
Remember the whip and the slaver's track.
Remember how the strong in struggle and strife
Still bar you the way, and deny you life --
But march ever forward, breaking down bars.
Look ever upward at the sun and the stars.
Oh, my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers
Impel you forever up the great stairs --
For I will be with you till no white brother
Dares keep down the children of the Negro Mother.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Ballad of Rudolph Reed

- Gwendolyn Brooks

Rudolph Reed was oaken.
His wife was oaken too.
And his two good girls and his good little man
Oakened as they grew.

"I am not hungry for berries.
I am not hungry for bread.
But hungry hungry for a house
Where at night a man in bed

"May never hear the plaster
Stir as if in pain.
May never hear the roaches
Falling like fat rain.

"Where never wife and children need
Go blinking through the gloom.
Where every room of many rooms
Will be full of room.

"Oh my home may have its east or west
Or north or south behind it.
All I know is I shall know it,
And fight for it when I find it."

The agent's steep and steady stare
Corroded to a grin.
Why you black old, tough old hell of a man,
Move your family in!

Nary a grin grinned Rudolph Reed,
Nary a curse cursed he,
But moved in his House. With his dark little wife,
And his dark little children three.

A neighbor would look, with a yawning eye
That squeezed into a slit.
But the Rudolph Reeds and children three
Were too joyous to notice it.

For were they not firm in a home of their own
With windows everywhere
And a beautiful banistered stair
And a front yard for flowers and a back for grass?

The first night, a rock, big as two fists.
The second, a rock big as three.
But nary a curse cursed Rudolph Reed.
(Though oaken as man could be.)

The third night, a silvery ring of glass.
Patience arched to endure,
But he looked, and lo! small Mabel's blood
Was staining her gaze so pure.

Then up did rise our Roodoplh Reed
And pressed the hand of his wife,
And went to the door with a thirty-four
And a beastly butcher knife.

He ran like a mad thing into the night
And the words in his mouth were stinking.
By the time he had hurt his first white man
He was no longer thinking.

By the time he had hurt his fourth white man
Rudolph Reed was dead.
His neighbors gathered and kicked his corpse.
"Nigger--" his neighbors said.

Small Mabel whimpered all night long,
For calling herself the cause.
Her oak-eyed mother did no thing
But change the bloody gauze.

Quote of the Day


There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up. 

- Rex Stout

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Send Off

 
The dead are having a party without us.
They’ve left our worries behind.
What a bore we’ve become
with our resentment and sorrow,
like former lovers united
for once by our common complaints.
Meanwhile the dead, shedding pilled sweaters,
annoying habits, have become
glamorous Western celebrities
gone off to learn meditation.

We trudge home through snow
to a burst pipe,
broken furnace, looking
up at the sky where we imagine
they journey to wish them bon voyage,
waving till the jet on which they travel
first class is out of sight—
only the code of its vapor trail left behind.

from: After That. Copyright 2013.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Personal Poem

- Frank O'Hara

Now when I walk around at lunchtime
I have only two charms in my pocket
an old Roman coin Mike Kanemitsu gave me
and a bolt-head that broke off a packing case
when I was in Madrid the others never
brought me too much luck though they did
help keep me in New York against coercion
but now I'm happy for a time and interested

I walk through the luminous humidity
passing the House of Seagram with its wet
and its loungers and the construction to
the left that closed the sidewalk if
I ever get to be a construction worker
I'd like to have a silver hat please
and get to Moriarty's where I wait for
LeRoi and hear who wants to be a mover and
shaker the last five years my batting average
is .016 that's that, and LeRoi comes in
and tells me Miles Davis was clubbed 12
times last night outside birdland by a cop
a lady asks us for a nickel for a terrible
disease but we don't give her one we
don't like terrible diseases, then

we go eat some fish and some ale it's
cool but crowded we don't like Lionel Trilling
we decide, we like Don Allen we don't like
Henry James so much we like Herman Melville
we don't want to be in the poets' walk in
San Francisco even we just want to be rich
and walk on girders in our silver hats
I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is
thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRoi
and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go
back to work happy at the thought possibly so


from: Lunch Poems. Copyright 1964.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

O

- Mary Sidney Herbert

Oh, what a lantern, what a lamp of light
Is thy pure word to me
To clear my paths and guide my goings right!
I swore and swear again,
I of the statutes will observer be,
Thou justly dost ordain.

The heavy weights of grief oppress me sore:
Lord, raise me by the word,
As thou to me didst promise heretofore.
And this unforced praise
I for an off’ring bring, accept, O Lord,
And show to me thy ways.

What if my life lie naked in my hand,
To every chance exposed!
Should I forget what thou dost me command?
No, no, I will not stray
From thy edicts though round about enclosed
With snares the wicked lay.

Thy testimonies as mine heritage,
I have retained still:
And unto them my heart’s delight engage,
My heart which still doth bend,
And only bend to do what thou dost will,
And do it to the end.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

To My Daughter

- Hyam Plutzik

Seventy-seven betrayers will stand by the road,
And those who love you will be few but stronger.
Seventy-seven betrayers, skilful and various,
But do not fear them: they are unimportant.
You must learn soon, soon, that despite Judas
The great betrayals are impersonal
(Though many would be Judas, having the will
And the capacity, but few the courage).
You must learn soon, soon, that even love
Can be no shield against the abstract demons:
Time, cold and fire, and the law of pain,
The law of things falling, and the law of forgetting.
The messengers, of faces and names known
Or of forms familiar, are innocent.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Such Is the Sickness of Many a Good Thing

- Robert Duncan

Was he then Adam of the Burning Way?
hid away in the heat like wrath
     conceald in Love’s face,
or the seed, Eris in Eros,
     key and lock
of what I was?       I could not speak
     the releasing
word.      For into a dark
     matter he came
and askt me to say what
     I could not say. “I ..”

All the flame in me stopt
     against my tongue.
My heart was a stone, a dumb
     unmanageable thing in me,
a darkness that stood athwart
     his need
for the enlightening, the
     “I love you” that has
only this one quick in time,
     this one start
when its moment is true.

Such is the sickness of many a good thing
that now into my life from long ago this
refusing to say I love you has bound
the weeping, the yielding, the
     yearning to be taken again,
into a knot, a waiting, a string

so taut it taunts the song,
it resists the touch. It grows dark
to draw down the lover’s hand
from its lightness to what’s
     underground.

from: Bending the Bow. Copyright 1968.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Desire

- Alice Walker

My desire
is always the same; wherever Life
deposits me:
I want to stick my toe
& soon my whole body
into the water.
I want to shake out a fat broom
& sweep dried leaves
bruised blossoms
dead insects
& dust.
I want to grow
something.
It seems impossible that desire
can sometimes transform into devotion;
but this has happened.
And that is how I've survived:
how the hole
I carefully tended
in the garden of my heart
grew a heart
to fill it. 


from: The World Will Follow Joy. Copyright 2013.
 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Write a Poem about the Sky

- Leslie Marmon Silko

You see the sky now
colder than the frozen river
so dense and white
little birds
walk across it.
You see the sky now
but the earth
is lost in it
and there are no horizons.
It is all
a single breath.
You see the sky;
but the earth is called
by the same name

the moment
the wind shifts

sun splits it open
and bluish membranes
push through slits of skin.
You see the sky

Monday, November 17, 2014

Kilt Monday!

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


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Split Bone

 - dg nanouk okpik

A break in the blood vessel from split bone
like a porcupine quill pierces my ulcerated foot.

Decrepit I walk with wolverines
on the edge of the ice shelf. I neatly stitch

with two threads a cyst containing blood.
In the opposite poles of a cell a shallow alcove,

of the northern Pacific a right whale swims
in a rancid blue stew full of milk salmon

which feed brown bear. I transfuse quantum
in gradients of one minus energy, a closed universe,

foraging death in a another body, mixing with black
blood, I become a carrion beetle, bones outside.

A figure shaped like an inverted heart
stiffly mingling between body blue inuas spirits.


from: Effigies. Copyright 2009.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Words

- Angela Manalang Gloria

I never meant the words I said,
So trouble not your honest head
And never mean the words I write,
But come and kiss me now goodnight.

The words I said break with the thunder
Of billows surging into spray:
Unfathomed depths withhold the wonder
Of all the words I never say.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Poor Lazarus

- Laura Da'

Live long enough
and salt pork, beans,
yearling colts, honey and butter,
something will turn into a wedge
to bend your will.
Missionaries call for my sons to send off to school,
each season when the corn is green.
I tuck them into the rows
farthest to the north of my cabin.
Keep them busy with the threshing as I whisper
their true names into the ears we consume,
but I leave a path to them
like a snake
by slithering away through the sparse harvest.
Frost breaks under my mare’s hooves
when I ride to sign my name at the Neosho mission.
My sons and nephews
traded to industrial school in the north
for the release of seven barrels of winter rations.
This commerce—
makes me brother to dragons, companion to owls.

Riding away from the mission,
I call to my sister’s youngest child,
the only one
still too young for school,
come over here and ride with your old uncle.
The boy clambers up behind me,
bare toe notched into the girth for warmth and purchase.
My boots quiver along the sides of the horse’s flanks
as I endeavor to slip them into the stirrups
that frame the ground below in jerky patches
Child, I keep repeating, Nephew.
The horse dances nervously,
sensing my frenzy.
To his credit,
the boy
keeps a steady hand on the reins.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Robbery

- Santee Frazier

Red ambulance flicker, curbstone, wheels, a gurney. Down the breezeway a baby, crying out among the gawk-mouthed heads.
Knifed, sliced, the man bleeding through the gauze and onto his belly.

It reminds me of the night when my mother and I slept in our LTD while the cops surrounded our apartment complex.
I remember someone standing near the yellow tape saying 2A had robbed the market across the street, that the manager was shot twice—
once in the arm, once in the shoulder—and that the gunmen were held up in their apartment, squealing threats from their window.

When I think of it now, the danger, the eventual gunshots echoing off gray brick, I remember the panicked yells of inquiry,
a girl crying her daddy was shot.

But the knifed man, now under gauze and tubing, hadn’t robbed a store, and the baby, now on its mother’s hip, was quiet and drooling.

When the cops searched 2A, they found money stuffed in the couches, in posts and
pans, in the pages of storybooks, and as each officer, one by one, emerged from the apartment holding pistols and rifles, my mother told me to go back to sleep.

I don’t remember her carrying me to my bed, only waking the next day when the girl who cried daddy,
knocked at our door, asked if I could come out and play.

Now when I look at her, that same girl, with a busted eye and lip, I wonder: if when
she stabbed was she stabbing the boyfriend who beat her for burning supper or was
it her dad for wrenching his arm around her neck, prodding a pistol at her head on that balmy night of echo and threat.

For a second I think of asking her, “Whatever happened to your dad? Is he still in jail?”

But I realize it may not even be the same girl, though I want it to be.

For some reason I think if she kills that man, if he bleeds to death before the ambulance can make it to the hospital,
somehow the brief triumph of metal over flesh would rid my memory of the deafening crack of gunpowder, and its long shout in the night.


from: Dark Thirty. Copyright 2009.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

When I Was Young I Met the Spirit & I Knew I Didn't Want it but the Choice Was Never Mine

                  This Is For All My Relations

- Esther Belin

i go back to the day i was driving
in the pit of the painted desert near lower greasewood on the navajo reservation.
driving my mom's truck
not feeling anything
except the spirit
the spirit of alcohol chased me and
rode beside me and held my hand and led me to a few days before
the day of the 6.3 earthquake in the california desert
when my mom's voice shook the house
as she told me
the spirit of alcohol caught nathan and
he isn't coming back
imprisoned by his own body destroying itself
and all i could think about is how i love him and how we loved each other
and back then years ago it was real and it was good and the memory
made me cry cuz i never wanted him dead
only healed
weaned from alcohol
and now he's dying and the parts of me i gave him are dying too and i cry
harder cuz the parts of himself he gave me
the talents he never used that i now use to stay alive won't die when he does
and i start to drive faster cuz the spirit of alcohol is still walking alongside me
and i hear it talking sweet and
singing old songs and
i almost want to sing along like i know the words and
i just have to remember and
i think about this spirit
cuz i see it in me
so back when i used to drink
i never could drink miller lite
cuz that meant the spirit got you
caged
like nathan & daddy & uncle john & aunt rosita
& me too maybe
cuz i see them in me & i'm caged like them
but in a different way
cuz i can see them when they can't and
i can see the spirit scream out of them in rage and
i can love them and they can't love back
cuz the spirit took it outta them and
all i know how to do is keep loving them
believing i'm like the reservation deep and wide
nestling spirits greater than alcohol.


from: Neon Powwow. Copyright 1993.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Occupy Your Democracy



Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. 
We are the ones we've been waiting for. 
We are the change that we seek.

Solitude Late At Night in the Woods

- Robert Bly
I
The body is like a November birch facing the full moon
And reaching into the cold heavens.
In these trees there is no ambition, no sodden body, no leaves,
Nothing but bare trunks climbing like cold fire!

II
My last walk in the trees has come. At dawn
I must return to the trapped fields,
To the obedient earth.
The trees shall be reaching all the winter.

III
It is a joy to walk in the bare woods.
The moonlight is not broken by the heavy leaves.
The leaves are down, and touching the soaked earth,
Giving off the odor that partridges love.


from: Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 1999.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November, Remembering Voltaire

- Jan Hirshfield

In the evenings
I scrape my fingernails clean,
hunt through old catalogues for new seed,
oil work boots and shears.
This garden is no metaphor –
more a task that swallows you into itself,
earth using, as always, everything it can.
I lend myself to unpromising winter dirt
with leaf-mold and bulb,
plant into the oncoming cold.
Not that I ever thought the philosopher
meant to be taken literally,
but with no invented God overhead
I conjure a stubborn faith in rotting
that ripens into soil,
in an old corm that flowers steadily each spring –
not symbols but reassurances,
like a mother’s voice at bedtime
reading a long-familiar book, the known words
barely listened to, but bridging
for all the nights of a life
each world to the next.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, November 2, 2014

All Souls’ Night, 1917


- Hortense King Flexner


You heap the logs and try to fill
The little room with words and cheer,
But silent feet are on the hill,
Across the window veiled eyes peer.
The hosts of lovers, young in death,
Go seeking down the world to-night,
Remembering faces, warmth and breath—
And they shall seek till it is light.
Then let the white-flaked logs burn low,
Lest those who drift before the storm
See gladness on our hearth and know
There is no flame can make them warm.

Friday, October 31, 2014

All Hallows Night


- Lizette Woodworth Reese


Two things I did on Hallows Night:—
Made my house April-clear;
Left open wide my door
To the ghosts of the year.

Then one came in. Across the room
It stood up long and fair—
The ghost that was myself—
And gave me stare for stare.

BOO!



BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.




A note about BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.:

These are not, in any way, meant to be comprehensive reviews. They are intended to acknowledge that I have read the book, and give my honest core impressions.

If a real review is what you wish, there are many wonderful book blogs available, and I have provided some tools to find them under the tab marked "Useful Stuff."



The Last Policeman (ebook) - Ben H. Winters

"LIES! LIES! IT'S ALL LIES!"

This book is a post apocalyptic, murder mystery, with touches of social commentary and conspiracy theory thrown in.

And it's the first in a series.

And it managed to throw me completely off the scent a couple of times!

The Last Detective (ebook) - Robert Crais

"It took him a moment to place me. A few years ago, his house had been damaged in the big earthquake. I didn't know him then or that he was with LAPD, but not long after I jogged past while he was clearing debris and saw that he had a small rat tattooed on his shoulder. The tat marked him as a tunnel rat in Vietnam. I stopped to give him a hand. Maybe because we had that connection."

This offering has the same smart ass P.I., and the same intense, fast pace plotting as those that came before. It also, however, has a brief cameo appearance by a another detective from another popular series.

Many authors insert allusions to the work of other writers into their work, but I have not seen one instance in which it was done better than here. It was really quite amusing.

L.A. Requiem (ebook) - Robert Crais

"A fine layer of ash had blown into the carport, showing a single set of cat prints going from the side of the house to the cat hatch built into my door. People in Minnesota see things like this with snow."

"Aimes had learned long ago, perhaps in an earlier life, that a poet would die for a rose."

"The devil takes his toll, even in this angel town."

I had a hard time choosing a quote this time. There were many good ones.

Now that I am reduced to reading them as I can get my hands on them, and way out of order, I expected it to be much more disconcerting than it has been. As long as I orient myself as to where the next book belongs in the series, before I start reading, the stories themselves are strong enough to ground me.

A Dance at the Slaughterhouse (audiobook) - Lawrence Block

"I looked from her to the man in the polka dot tie then back at her again. "They say that's one of the ways you know you're middle aged," I said. "When everybody you meet reminds you of somebody else."

After you've read deep into a series, you tend to create in your mind a pretty strong idea of what to expect from it's main characters.

This particular novel made me reevaluate some of my conclusions.

Unlucky 13 (audiobook) - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

"Doctor, all your friends try to walk right over me."
Clair said, "That's them teaching you to push back. Thank you, Debbie."

I was on the library waiting list for thee months!

This time around the authors managed to keep three suspenseful plots in the air at one time. Two were resolved soundly, while the other I expect will be revisited some time in the future.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

An Evening Thought

- Jupiter Hammon

Salvation comes by Jesus Christ alone,
The only Son of God;
Redemption now to every one,
That love his holy Word.
Dear Jesus we would fly to Thee,
And leave off every Sin,
Thy tender Mercy well agree;
Salvation from our King.
Salvation comes now from the Lord,
Our victorious King;
His holy Name be well ador'd,
Salvation surely bring.
Dear Jesus give thy Spirit now,
Thy Grace to every Nation,
That han't the Lord to whom we bow,
The Author of Salvation.
Dear Jesus unto Thee we cry,
Give us thy Preparation;
Turn not away thy tender Eye;
We seek thy true Salvation.
Salvation comes from God we know,
The true and only One;
It's well agreed and certain true,
He gave his only Son.
Lord hear our penetential Cry:
Salvation from above;
It is the Lord that doth supply,
With his Redeeming Love.
Dear Jesus by thy precious Blood,
The World Redemption have:
Salvation comes now from the Lord,
He being thy captive Slave.
Dear Jesus let the Nations cry,
And all the People say,
Salvation comes from Christ on high,
Haste on Tribunal Day.
We cry as Sinners to the Lord,
Salvation to obtain;
It is firmly fixt his holy Word,
Ye shall not cry in vain.
Dear Jesus unto Thee we cry,
And make our Lamentation:
O let our Prayers ascend on high;
We felt thy Salvation.
Lord turn our dark benighted Souls;
Give us a true Motion,
And let the Hearts of all the World,
Make Christ their Salvation.
Ten Thousand Angels cry to Thee,
Yea louder than the Ocean.
Thou art the Lord, we plainly see;
Thou art the true Salvation.
Now is the Day, excepted Time;
The Day of Salvation;
Increase your Faith, do not repine:
Awake ye every Nation.
Lord unto whom now shall we go,
Or seek a safe Abode;
Thou hast the Word Salvation too
The only Son of God.
Ho! every one that hunger hath,
Or pineth after me,
Salvation be thy leading Staff,
To set the Sinner free.
Dear Jesus unto Thee we fly;
Depart, depart from Sin,
Salvation doth at length supply,
The Glory of our King.
Come ye Blessed of the Lord,
Salvation gently given;
O turn your Hearts, accept the Word,
Your Souls are fit for Heaven.
Dear Jesus we now turn to Thee,
Salvation to obtain;
Our Hearts and Souls do meet again,
To magnify thy Name.
Come holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove,
The Object of our Care;
Salvation doth increase our Love;
Our Hearts hath felt thy fear.
Now Glory be to God on High,
Salvation high and low;
And thus the Soul on Christ rely,
To Heaven surely go.
Come Blessed Jesus, Heavenly Dove,
Accept Repentance here;
Salvation give, with tender Love;
Let us with Angels share.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How to Get Riches

- Benjamin Franklin
PRECEPT I.
In Things of moment, on thy self depend,
Nor trust too far thy Servant or thy Friend:
With private Views, thy Friend may promise fair,
And Servants very seldom prove sincere.
PRECEPT II.
What can be done, with Care perform to Day,
Dangers unthought-of will attend Delay;
Your distant Prospects all precarious are,
And Fortune is as fickle as she’s fair.
PRECEPT III.
Nor trivial Loss, nor trivial Gain despise;
Molehills, if often heap’d, to Mountains rise:
Weigh every small Expence, and nothing waste,
Farthings long sav’d, amount to Pounds at last.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, October 26, 2014

BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of. (Poetry Edition)

 

A note about BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.:

These are not, in any way, meant to be comprehensive reviews. They are intended to acknowledge that I have read the book, and give my honest core impressions.

If a real review is what you wish, there are many wonderful book blogs available, and I have provided some tools to find them under the tab marked "Useful Stuff."



Why I Wake Early (ebook) - Mary Oliver

I borrowed this book from the library, but I will be purchasing it as a permanent addition to my own library.

The title poem struck me and still echoes in my mind. As a former night owl, I view the fact that I am now usually awake long before my alarm goes off in the morning as something of a mystery. When did this change happen? And why?

I have no regret, though, as the wonders of early mornings in the garden are soul nurturing.


Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.


I was captivated by the love of nature in this collection. It both soothed my heart and validated my own feelings. Sometimes the desire to cut ties and run with the deer is strong. (Well, we don't have deer where I am. Maybe I could run with the squirrels. No?)


The Poet Goes to Indiana

I'll tell you a half-dozen things
that happened to me
in Indiana
when I went that far west to teach.
You tell me if it was worth it.

I lived in the country
with my dog—
part of the bargain of coming.
And there was a pond
with fish from, I think, China.
I felt them sometimes against my feet.
Also, they crept out of the pond, along its edges,
to eat the grass.
I'm not lying.
And I saw coyotes,
two of them, at dawn, running over the seemingly
unenclosed fields.
And once a deer, but a buck, thick-necked, leaped
into the road just-oh, I mean just, in front of my car—
and we both made it home safe.
And once the blacksmith came to care for the four horses,
or the three horses that belonged to the owner of the house,
and I bargained with him, if I could catch the fourth,
he, too, would have hooves trimmed
for the Indiana winter,
and apples did it,
and a rope over the neck did it,
so I won something wonderful;
and there was, one morning,
an owl
flying, oh pale angel, into
the hay loft of a barn,
I see it still;
and there was once, oh wonderful,
a new horse in the pasture,
a tall, slim being-a neighbor was keeping her there—
and she put her face against my face,
put her muzzle, her nostrils, soft as violets,
against my mouth and my nose, and breathed me,
to see who I was,
a long quiet minute-minutes—
then she stamped feet and whisked tail
and danced deliciously into the grass away, and came back.
She was saying, so plainly, that I was good, or good enough.
Such a fine time I had teaching in Indiana.

Another poem grabbed my heart and doesn't seem inclined to let it go. (Sometimes it's easier to ache for broken land and lost flowers, than face the pain of lives crushed in the name of greed or political expediency.)


What Was Once the Largest Shopping Center in Northern Ohio
Was Built Where There Had Been a Pond 
I Used to Visit Every Summer Afternoon

Loving the earth, seeing what had been done to it,
I grow sharp, I grow cold.
Where will the trilliums go, and the coltsfoot?
Where will the pond lilies go to continue living
their simple, penniless lives, lifting
their faces of gold?
Impossible to believe we  need so much
as the world wants us to buy.
I have more clothes, lamps, dishes, paper clips
than I could possibly use before I die.
Oh, I would like to live in an empty house,
with vines for walls, and a carpet of grass.
No planks, no plastic, no fiberglass.

And I suppose sometime I will.
Old and cold I will lie apart
from all this buying and selling, with only
the beautiful earth in  my heart.


And I'm sure most everyone can relate to this last one.


The Old Poets of China

Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe
that I do not want it. Now I understand
why the old poets of China went so far and high
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.


JOURNALS

And it's Poetry journal time! I finally had time to sit down and enjoy the two journals that came in the mail last month.

srpr (Spoon River Poetry Review)
Summer 2014 Vol. 39.1

This journal publishes a nice variety of poetry, essays, and interviews. There is sure to be something that appeals to just about everyone. There is an on line version, accessible by clicking the title above. In the meantime, here is a taste:

The Old House
- Patsy Kisner

The old house
Lies in a heap
They left everything
Of his inside
For trespassers
To ramble by
And see
Even his coat
Hangs on the parlor wall
With a bird nest
In the pocket

Asking Her Father Where Her Mother Went
- Christina Lutz

is she waiting for us in Ohio
is she waiting in these boxes
       cobwebbing around and around
all my things

       did you know there's a spider
who eats her babies        they call it a wolf

i bet it howls as it spins
       shifting its paws in the air


frogpond (Haiku Society of America)
2014 Volume 37 Number 2

This journal is dedicated to Haiku, Senryu and related forms. Since I have a soft spot in my heart for these little gems, I always enjoy reading the latest issue. Here, have a couple:

forgetting myself . . .
cherry blossoms
in the wind

Anna Cates, Wilmington. OH

origami birds
some of my childhood
in the folds

Stephen A. Peters, Bellingham, WA

Moonglow
the basso profundo
of bullfrogs

Ellen Compton, Washington, D.C.

spider's silk
the tensile strength
of dreams

Beverly Acuff Momoi, Mountain View, CA