Wednesday, March 31, 2010


by Herman de Coninck
Translated by Kurt Brown and Laure-Anne Bosselaar

yellow roses in from of a clockWhat you do with time
is what a grandmother clock
does with it: strike twelve
and take its time doing it.
You’re the clock: time passes,
you remain. And wait.

Waiting is what happens to
a snow-covered garden,
a trunk under moss,
hope for better times
in the nineteenth century,
or words in a poem.

For poetry is about letting things
grow moldy together, like grapes
turning into wine, reality into preserves,
and hoarding words
in the cellar of yourself.

From: The Plural of Happiness: Selected Poems of Herman de Coninck, translated by Laure-Anne Bosselaar and Kurt Brown, Oberlin College Press, © 2006.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


portrait of Obama drawn with pen on newspaper
I’ve been a freelance illustrator for over twenty years. But not every drawing I do is for publication. I draw sometimes for the sake of drawing, sometimes to practice my drawing, or just to pass the time. For years, I’ve been doing morning drawings, done over coffee or on the train. They’re done quickly with ball point pen without tracing or correcting and off they go into the recycling bin without fanfare. It’s somehow liberating to draw something without the pressure to create art. Having drawn pretty pictures for over twenty years, these doodles hold a strange appeal to me, you know, one man’s trash…


by Sara Teasdale

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And childrens's faces looking up
Holding wonder in a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstacy
Give all you have been, or could be.

from: Teasdale's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, Love Songs.
St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Monday, March 29, 2010

In "Easter 1916," William Butler Yeats said:

a hand crushing a piece of paper"Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?'

from: Easter 1916

by ?

If this is peace then what, I ask, is war?
What difference does it make to folk like me?
We've heard it all, and suffered it, before.
Is this the way it always has to be?

How many years before this island's free
Of violence and death, of blood and gore?
What do we have to do to make them see?
If this is peace then what, I ask, is war?

The priests and politicians all deplore
The bombing, and appeal for unity.
I want to know, what's that Agreement for?
What difference does it make to folk like me?

Much good it's done us that they all “agree”!
Some haven't stopped the killing they foreswore,
Death haunts our streets, and truth’s a refugee.
We've heard it all, and suffered it, before.

Does Irish air bring out some fatal flaw,
A latent fault in all humanity?
Must troubles mar our lives for evermore?
Is this the way it always has to be?

What's done is done, and no-one can restore
This bomb-scarred town to what it used to be.
So is jaw-jaw much better than war-war?
There’s not much in it, far as I can see,
If this is peace.


Sunday, March 28, 2010


screenshot of Hissa Hilal on the game show Poet of MillionsA Saudi woman received a death threat last week after she appeared on “Poet of Millions,” Abu Dhabi’s version of the game show “American Idol” — which features aspiring poets instead of singers — and recited a poem attacking clerics for “terrorizing people and preying on everyone seeking peace.”

 Hissa Hilal, “sparked controversy in Saudi Arabia . . .” “According to reports, many viewers praised her for her courage, but others attacked her for criticizing clerics and reciting her poems in public,” the newspaper wrote. “One website called for her death.”

A sample :
I have seen evil from the eyes of the subversive fatwas in a time when what is lawful is confused with what is not lawful;
When I unveil the truth, a monster appears from his hiding place; barbaric in thinking and action, angry and blind; wearing death as a dress and covering it with a belt [referring to suicide bombing];
He speaks from an official, powerful platform, terrorizing people and preying on everyone seeking peace; the voice of courage ran away and the truth is cornered and silent, when self-interest prevented one from speaking the truth.

(The photo is a screenshot of Hissa Hilal, on the game show “Poet of Millions,” performing on the set in Abu Dhabi.)

Saturday, March 27, 2010


close up of a bee on a yellow daisyTo be alive        
by Gregory Orr

To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That's crudely put, but…

If we're not supposed to dance,
Why all this music?

From Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved by Gregory Orr. Copyright © 2005 by Gregory Orr.
Blue Flower Arts.



Teachers should not compete with each other for extra dollars (Edward Deming says that this kind of competition doesn't even work in business, that it demoralizes the workplace). Teachers should share what they know, not hoard their trade secrets for their private benefit. . .
Most teachers I know are happy, even proud to share their knowledge, experience, and ideas with others - especially idealistic newcomers.
The era of NCLB has been marked by lowered state standards, cheating, and widespread gaming of the system. While the states claim big leaps forward, NAEP shows very little improvement. In math, the gains were larger before NCLB than after it was implemented. On eighth grade reading, there have been no gains at all since 1998, even though these are the students who grew up with NCLB. . .
This empirical data fails to recognize the frustration and fear engendered in students, teachers, and school administrators alike. The higher the stakes, the greater the fear.

You describe the reform "consensus," but the consensus seems to exist mainly inside Beltway think tanks, corporate suites, foundation offices, editorial boards, and at the highest levels of government. Those who are not part of the consensus are ordinary classroom teachers, the very people who are supposed to implement the “reforms.”

pencil on bubble answer sheet

from: Is Education on the Wrong Track? by Diane Ravitch

Commentary by:

Friday, March 26, 2010


Jonny Depp as Captain Jack SparrowWell, your wait is over. Katie Evans-Bush has risen to the challenge. Here is a small piece. Follow the link (her name) for the rest.

The Love Ditty of an ’eartsick Pirate

It’s time we be goin’, me hearty, avast!
When the night’s nailed up its colours to its mast
Like some swab loaded to the gun’les ’n’ lashed to the plank;
Arr, make our way by th’ ghosty ports o’ call,
The bloody Triangle,
Quietin’ the parrots, kippin’ in dens of iniquity,
Where the scraps o’ the earth mixes with the scrapin’s o’ the sea:
Down alleys where ye argues if ye durst:
The forebodin’ of th’ accursed:
An’ all to get ye to the point of a certain little matter …
Nay, never ask what it may be,
There be a gentleman I’d like ye to see.

In yon chamber the ladies do perambulate
a-jabbering o’ some oilpaint addlepate.

Arrr, th’mist what do rub itself upon yon portholes,
Th’ ghoulish-coloured mist that be rubbin’ its muzzle on yon portholes
Licked its chops round the corners o’ the evenin’ as if it was ship’s biscuit,
Wafted over yon pools o’ seeping bilgewater,
Lettin’ the smokestacks mark it wi’ their black spots o’ smuts;
Crept up past the crow’s nest for to ambush wi’ a sudden leap,
And, seein’ no land nor nary a star, nay, only the soft poetic lappin’ o’ the waves,
Curled itself round about and aye fell into a slumber like that o’ the deep.

And lo! the clock will tick but slow
For the sallow smoke upon yon promenade,
Aye swabbin’ the portholes as it goes among ’em;
Ye’ll hear the ticks but few, the tocks but far between,
As ye be composin’ yersel’ t’engage with yon privateers;
There’ll be time to do yer scurvy worst, and aye to mend yer sails,
And time itself’ll becalm all the works and days of hands
That do raise up an’ be a-placin’ o’ the black spot upon ye, the curs;
Becalmed, we’ll be, both you an’ me,
Time’ll be fer makin’ and fer breakin’ consort,
Time’ll be fer full tack an’ fer comin’ round again,
Afor the chowder an’ rumfustian.

In yon chamber the ladies do perambulate
a-jabbering o’ some oilpaint addlepate. . . .



"If you are an overeducated (or at least a semi-overeducated) youngish person with a sleep disorder and a surfeit of opinions, the thing to do, after all, is to start a blog." – A.O. Scott, Film critic for the NYT

 My question is this,
"How young is 'youngish'?"

Thursday, March 25, 2010


My counter just registered 1001 visitors. 

Some blogs do that kind of traffic in an hour,
but yours truly's humble little webspot took only
1year, 3 weeks, and 2 days to reach that momentous milestone.

I couldn't have done it without you. 
Give yourselves a great big hand. 

Now help yourself to some goodies,
and good reading!


old man, dressed like a farmer, leaning against a window

The Unknown Citizen       
by W. H. Auden

(To JS/07 M 378
This Marble Monument Is Erected by the State)

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace:  when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

From: Another Time by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1940 W. H. Auden, renewed by The Estate of W. H. Auden.


by Ashley Gilbertson

(Click the title above to follow the link)
Also offered (click here) 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

For ADA LOVELACE DAY, Some Plucky Ladies in Technology

painting of Ada Lovelace
"Who was Ada?
Ada Lovelace was one of the world's first computer programmers, and one of the first people to see computers as more than just a machine for doing sums. She wrote programmes for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, a general-purpose computing machine, despite the fact that it was never built. She also wrote the very first description of a computer and of software." - BoingBoing

* Dr. Gertrude Elion patented the leukemia-fighting drug 6-mercaptopurine in 1954. Her research led to the development of Imuran, a drug that aids the body in accepting transplanted organs, Zovirax, a drug used to fight herpes, and her name is attached to some 45 patents.

In 1988, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine [. . .] Dr. Gertrude Elion was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1991, she continued to be an advocate for medical and scientific advancement until her death in February of 1999. 

* Edith Flanigen is one of the most inventive chemists of all time [. . .] In 1956, she began to work on the emerging technology of "molecular sieves," crystalline structures that contain molecule-sized pores. The compounds with their tiny pore sizes can be used to filter and break down crude oil during the refining process.

[. . .] Her molecular sieves have made gasoline production more efficient, cleaner, and safer worldwide. Edith Flanigen's more recent work on alumino-phosphates has applications for lubricating oils.

* Silver Screen superstar Hedy Lamarr [. . .] invented a secret communication system in an effort to help the allies defeat the Germans in World War II. The invention, patented in 1941, manipulated radio frequencies between transmission and reception to develop an unbreakable code so that top-secret messages could not be intercepted. The technology called spread spectrum, now takes on many forms.  However, all the spread spectrum that we use today directly or indirectly, flows from the invention created by Hedy Lamarr.


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The Washington Post has a handy, dandy calculator to help you figure out how health care reform could affect you.

The most important thing to remember is that if you have insurance and are happy with it, you probably won't notice the changes. The strength of this bill is in its stopping the most egregious practices of the insurance companies.

ALSO: Rachel Maddow has kept a close eye on the happenings, pro & con, concerning this bill from day one. Her NEW BLOG is here.

Obama applauding health care vote in oval office with others

"If we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America." - Pres. Obama on the night of the final Democratic primary
* If you are an intrepid soul interested in reading the full text of the bill, you can find it HERE.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


My kids were arguing and I told them "there is no fighting" to which my 10-year-old son promptly replies "not on Rex Manning Day." IMMD
psychedelic, brightly colored painting of smiley face


stripeticoccus bacteria on maple leaf

fallen maple leaf painted with bright stripes

"Natural objects, painted, placed back into their natural habitat, photographed, and posted."


so this is just the first garden themed offering.

The Garden Year        
by Sara Coleridge

January brings the snow,
Makes our feet and fingers glow.

February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.

March brings breezes, loud and shrill,
To stir the dancing daffodil.

April brings the primrose sweet,
Scatters daisies at our feet.

May brings flocks of pretty lambs
Skipping by their fleecy dams.

June brings tulips, lilies, roses,
Fills the children's hands with posies.

Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots, and gillyflowers.

August brings the sheaves of corn,
Then the harvest home is borne.

Warm September brings the fruit;
Sportsmen then begin to shoot.

Fresh October brings the pheasant;
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.

Dull November brings the blast;
Then the leaves are whirling fast.

Chill December brings the sleet,
Blazing fire, and Christmas treat.

Monday, March 22, 2010


gif mondays make me crazy
In the old days a poet once said       
by Ko Un

In the old days a poet once said
our nation is destroyed
yet the mountains and rivers survive

Today's poet says
the mountains and rivers are destroyed
yet our nation survives

Tomorrow's poet will say
the mountains and rivers are destroyed
our nation is destroyed and Alas!
you and I are completely destroyed

from: Flowers of a Moment by Ko Un. English language translation copyright © 2006 by Brother Anthony, Young-moo Kim, and Gary Gach

Sunday, March 21, 2010


"Summoned to success by President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled Congress approved historic legislation Sunday night extending health care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and cracking down on insurance company abuses, a climactic chapter in the century-long quest for near universal coverage.

"This is what change looks like," Obama said a few moments later in televised remarks that stirred memories of his 2008 campaign promise[.]" - Yahoo! News


broken letter s with caption, I shot the serif
alphabet [excerpt]        
by Inger Christensen
Translated by Susanna Nied

apricot trees exist, apricot trees exist

bracken exists; and blackberries, blackberries;
bromine exists; and hydrogen, hydrogen

cicadas exist; chicory, chromium,
citrus trees; cicadas exist;
cicadas, cedars, cypresses, the cerebellum

doves exist, dreamers, and dolls;
killers exist, and doves, and doves;
haze, dioxin, and days; days
exist, days and death; and poems
exist; poems, days, death

excerpt from: alphabet by Inger Christensen, translated by Susanna Nied. Copyright © 2000 Inger Christensen

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Poetry as Insurgent Art [I am signaling you through the flames]

digital flames       
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am signaling you through the flames.

The North Pole is not where it used to be.

Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.

Civilization self-destructs.

Nemesis is knocking at the door.

What are poets for, in such an age?
What is the use of poetry?

The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.

If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic.

You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words....

from: Poetry as Insurgent Art. Copyright © 2007 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

For Centuries Artists Have Striven To Make Two Dimensions Appear As Three . . .

Here's One Who Makes Three Appear As Two.

real life grapefruit painted to resemble a painting
Grapefruit © All rights reserved.

Alexa Meade,
and here

About: (from her website) "Alexa Meade is an installation artist based in the Washington, DC area. Her background in the world of political communications has fueled her intellectual interest in the tensions between perception and reality.

Alexa Meade's innovative use of paint on the three dimensional surfaces of found objects, live models, and architectural spaces has been incorporated into a series of installations that create a perceptual shift in how we experience and interpret spatial relationships."

photograph showing how the artist makes real person look like a painting

Will © All rights reserved.

Friday, March 19, 2010


the morning paper
harbinger of good and ill
folded newspaper- - I step over it

Dave McCroskey


from: "These Parents Were Trying To Keep Their Kids Alive" - Jezebel

"Its central argument was going to be that children were, by and large, being over-diagnosed and over-medicated, and that doctors and parents and teachers and schools who colluded in labeling kids and treating them with psychotropic medication were taking the easy way out . . .

"Then Warner started talking to parents.

"Warner had heard of parents who jumped to medicate their children at the slightest setback, but she couldn't find any of them — and when she talked to people who had criticized such parents in print, they couldn't point to any either."

[T]here is a world of difference between unique personality traits that may be quirky, annoying, or charming, and actual signs of pathology. [T]he difference between personality and pathology resides in pain, distress, and impairment.

"Because while it's easy to imagine that we live in a society of designer kids hopped up on drugs and diagnoses, in reality we suffer from a system where only a privileged few can get the care they need — and this, not some notion of the Med-Happy Parent, should be the target of our outrage."

We've Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication ~ Judith Warner

Thursday, March 18, 2010



"If this bill passes this year, children with pre-existing conditions will now be covered, there'll be an end to lifetime caps and annual caps on what the insurance companies will cover, so if you get sick you won't go broke, if you get sick they can't throw you off your insurance.  The doughnut hole will be filled in so senior citizens will save hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs, the life of Medicare will be extended, and on and on and on" -  David Axelrod.

illustration of sick and injured child with dollar amounts for each ailment

Sarah Hollander
© Picturebook08 powered by Drupal
The Sick Child
by Robert Louis Stevenson

O Mother, lay your hand on my brow!
O mother, mother, where am I now?
Why is the room so gaunt and great?
Why am I lying awake so late?

Fear not at all: the night is still.
Nothing is here that means you ill -
Nothing but lamps the whole town through,
And never a child awake but you.

Mother, mother, speak low in my ear,
Some of the things are so great and near,
Some are so small and far away,
I have a fear that I cannot say,
What have I done, and what do I fear,
And why are you crying, mother dear?

Out in the city, sounds begin
Thank the kind God, the carts come in!
An hour or two more, and God is so kind,
The day shall be blue in the window-blind,
Then shall my child go sweetly asleep,
And dream of the birds and the hills of sheep.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Intel inside logo says Irish inside 


"On this day of all days in the Irish-American calendar, when ethnic pride swells, let’s raise a toast: Here’s to the Irish, and here’s to the rest of us. May we never forget where we came from. Nearly all of us were Mexicans once. That is: the new immigrants, poor and reviled, propelled by hope and hunger into America’s prickly embrace."


READ THE REST OF the NYT Editorial, San Patricio


May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm on your face,
the rains fall soft on your fields,
and until we meet again
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Long, long ago the Irish pulled off a remarkable feat:

They saved the books of the Western world and left them as gifts for all humanity.

But they did more than this: they managed to infuse the emerging medieval world with a playfulness previously unknown. In the margins of the books they copied, the Irish scribes drew little pictures, thickets of plants, flowers, birds and animals. Human faces occasionally peek through the tangle, faces of childlike delight and awe.

from NYT Op-Ed Turning Green With Literacy by Thomas Cahill

Perhaps this explains the love of books passed down in my family and the steadfast commitment to literacy maintained throughout generations. Happy reading, all!

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

by W. B. Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Just yesterday I posted about the Texas Board of Education rewriting history. If you are interested in learning more about this intrepid board here is a link with a PROFILE written by Mariah Blake. It is worth reading in its entirety, but I've included a few bits below.

And if you wonder why you should care about this, not being in Texas and all, I suggest you pay particular attention to the passages I have made bold.

hand reaching through a guillotine for books that are falling away
DON McLEROY - “Evolution is hooey.” “The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years . . .”

Texas is the nation’s second-largest textbook market and one of the few biggies where the state picks what books schools can buy . . .  As a result, the Lone Star State has outsized influence over the reading material used in classrooms nationwide, since publishers craft their standard textbooks based on the specs of the biggest buyers.

Until recently, Texas’s influence was balanced . . . by California, the nation’s largest textbook market. But its economy is in such shambles that California has put off buying new books until at least 2014. This means that McLeroy and his ultraconservative crew have unparalleled power to shape the textbooks that children around the country read for years to come.

CYNTHIA DUNBAR (Remember, she kicked out Jefferson) - rails against public education, which she dubs “tyrannical” and a “tool of perversion,” and says sending kids to public school is like “throwing them into the enemy’s flames.” (More recently, she has accused Barack Obama of being a terrorist sympathizer and suggested he wants America to be attacked so he can declare martial law.)

PETER MARSHALL - has argued that California wildfires and Hurricane Katrina were God’s punishment for tolerating gays. . .

DAVID BARTON - argue[s] that the wall of separation between church and state is a myth. . .

[W]hile they concede that people like Martin Luther King Jr. deserve a place in history, they argue that they shouldn’t be given credit for advancing the rights of minorities. As Barton put it, “Only majorities can expand political rights in America’s constitutional society.” Ergo, any rights people of color have were handed to them by whites—in his view, mostly white Republican men. . . .

The ultraconservatives argued that [the English language arts] were too light on basics like grammar and too heavy on reading comprehension and critical thinking. “This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook,” grumbled DAVID BRADLEY. . .
[T]he next generation of textbooks will likely bear the fingerprints of the board’s ultraconservatives—which is just fine with McLeroy. “Remember Superman?” he asked me, as we sat sipping ice water in his dining room. “The never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way? Well, that fight is still going on. There are people out there who want to replace truth with political correctness. Instead of the American way they want multiculturalism. We plan to fight back—and, when it comes to textbooks, we have the power to do it. Sometimes it boggles my mind the kind of power we have.”

[ADDED: It might be worth noting that while Texas reported that 85 percent of its students in grades four and eight were proficient readers based on year-end state testing in 2008, on the federal assessments (the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP), only 29 percent actually were. - Diane Ravitch]


I already posted it way back in August, but it seems so appropriate right now. I love you Brandon.

 Mother to Son
 - Langston Hughes

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now—
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

"The Number You Have Reached . . . "

old fashioned black phone handset

Harold Pinter (Awarded 2005)

 Jill. Fred phoned. He can't make tonight.
He said he'd call again, as soon as poss.
I said (on your behalf) OK, no sweat.
He said to tell you he was fine,
Only the crap, he said, you know, it sticks,
The crap you have to fight.
You're sometimes nothing but a walking shithouse.

I was well acquainted with the pong myself,
I told him, and I counselled calm.
Don't let the fuckers get you down,
Take the lid off the kettle a couple of minutes,
Go on the town, burn someone to death,
Find another tart, giver her some hammer,
Live while you're young, until it palls,
Kick the first blind man you meet in the balls.

Anyway he'll call again.

I'll be back in time for tea.

Your loving mother.

Monday, March 15, 2010


from a Live-blogged transcript:

9:30 – Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with “the writings of”) and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson’s ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards. We don’t buy her argument at all. Board member Bob Craig of Lubbock points out that the curriculum writers clearly wanted to students to study Enlightenment ideas and Jefferson. Could Dunbar’s problem be that Jefferson was a Deist? The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards.


12:28 – Board member Mavis Knight offers the following amendment: “examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” Knight points out that students should understand that the Founders believed religious freedom was so important that they insisted on separation of church and state.

12:32 – Board member Cynthia Dunbar argues that the Founders didn’t intend for separation of church and state in America. And she’s off on a long lecture about why the Founders intended to promote religion. She calls this amendment “not historically accurate.”
12:35 – Knight’s amendment fails on a straight party-line vote, 5-10. Republicans vote no, Democrats vote yes.

12:38 – Let the word go out here: The Texas State Board of Education today refused to require that students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others. They voted to lie to students by omission.

[ADDED: Jefferson had explained the actions of his own VA legislature thus: “…an amendment was proposed by inserting the words, ‘Jesus Christ … the holy author of our religion,’ ” which was rejected by a great majority in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammedan, the Hindu, and the Infidel of every denomination.” — Thomas Jefferson.]

drawing of USA without Texas. It says, don't let Oklahoma hit you on the way out

What? You think I'm being rude?

TO READ TRANSCRIPTS OF THE DEBATE CLICK HERE FOR THE TFN INSIDER. [Note: There are several other sections of transcript.]


Today is A's birthday.

May you have a musical day.

cake shaped and decorated to look like an acoustic guitar
by Joyce Sutphen

The second half of my life will be black
to the white rind of the old and fading moon.
The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.
I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are. I will dress for the
occasion, and my hair shall be
whatever color I please.
Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.

The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road.
The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.
There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.

The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river, rain
soaking the fields, a hand
held out, a fire,
and smoke going
upward, always up.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


The first I posted on the eleventh of this month, Wislawa Szymborska. The second is:

Victorian mother at child's bed, watching

The Sad Mother 

by Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957)

Sleep, sleep, my beloved,
without worry, without fear,
although my soul does not sleep,
although I do not rest.

Sleep, sleep, and in the night
may your whispers be softer
than a leaf of grass,
or the silken fleece of lambs.

May my flesh slumber in you,
my worry, my trembling.
In you, may my eyes close
and my heart sleep.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


painting of African veldt in shape of African continent
A Far Cry From Africa
by Derek Walcott (Awarded 1992)

A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt
Of Africa, Kikuyu, quick as flies,
Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt.
Corpses are scattered through a paradise.
Only the worm, colonel of carrion, cries:
"Waste no compassion on these separate dead!"
Statistics justify and scholars seize
The salients of colonial policy.
What is that to the white child hacked in bed?
To savages, expendable as Jews?
Threshed out by beaters, the long rushes break
In a white dust of ibises whose cries
Have wheeled since civilizations dawn
>From the parched river or beast-teeming plain.
The violence of beast on beast is read
As natural law, but upright man
Seeks his divinity by inflicting pain.
Delirious as these worried beasts, his wars
Dance to the tightened carcass of a drum,
While he calls courage still that native dread
Of the white peace contracted by the dead.

Again brutish necessity wipes its hands
Upon the napkin of a dirty cause, again
A waste of our compassion, as with Spain,
The gorilla wrestles with the superman.
I who am poisoned with the blood of both,
Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose
Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?
Betray them both, or give back what they give?
How can I face such slaughter and be cool?
How can I turn from Africa and live?

Friday, March 12, 2010

HERE IS . . .

the greatest description of today's news media, ever. We constantly hear about the media's faults, from both sides of the aisle, particularly when concerning politics; but Andrew Sullivan from The Daily Dish just nailed it.
"They have the perspective of someone with ADD watching a NASCAR race."
Read the entire post here.


Thursday, March 11, 2010


cherry pie with pi symbol carved in top crust

by Wislawa Szymborska (Awarded 1996)

The admirable number pi:
three point one four one.
All the following digits are also just a start,
five nine two because it never ends.
It can't be grasped, six five three five , at a glance,
eight nine, by calculation,
seven nine, through imagination,
or even three two three eight in jest, or by comparison
four six to anything
two six four three in the world.
The longest snake on earth ends at thirty-odd feet.
Same goes for fairy tale snakes, though they make it a little longer.
The caravan of digits that is pi
does not stop at the edge of the page,
but runs off the table and into the air,
over the wall, a leaf, a bird's nest, the clouds, straight into the sky,
through all the bloatedness and bottomlessness.
Oh how short, all but mouse-like is the comet's tail!
How frail is a ray of starlight, bending in any old space!
Meanwhile two three fifteen three hundred nineteen
my phone number your shirt size
the year nineteen hundred and seventy-three sixth floor
number of inhabitants sixty-five cents
hip measurement two fingers a charade and a code,
in which we find how blithe the trostle sings!
and please remain calm,
and heaven and earth shall pass away,
but not pi, that won't happen,
it still has an okay five,
and quite a fine eight,
and all but final seven,
prodding and prodding a plodding eternity
to last.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

MOOOO . . .

Suppose that you are a cow philosopher contemplating the welfare of cows.  In the world today there are about 1.3 billion of your compatriots.large fiberglass cow painted pink with large strawberries all over it It would be a fine thing for cows if all cows were well treated and if none were slaughtered for food.  Nevertheless, being a clever cow, you understand that it's the demand for beef that brings cows to life.  How do you regard such a trade off?  . . .
Should a cow behind a haystack of ignorance choose the world with the highest expectation of utility?  . . .  Should a cow philosopher focus on making cows happy or on making happy cows?  . . .

I think these questions are important both for thinking about cows and animal rights and for human beings.  . . .  Some people, however, think that cow philosophy is just a bunch of bull.

[from: The Philosophical Cow, Posted by Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution]

Monday, March 8, 2010


contemporary gallery

face of dog painted in primary colors, by a blind painter
- Riley

John Bramblitt is a blind painter who didn't start painting until he lost his sight.

Psychology Today

An Hymn To Humanity (To S.P.G. Esp)

Phillis Wheatley (1753 - 1784)

O! for this dark terrestrial ball
Forsakes his azure-paved hall
A prince of heav'nly birth!
Divine Humanity behold,
What wonders rise, what charms unfold
At his descent to earth!


The bosoms of the great and good
With wonder and delight he view'd,
And fix'd his empire there:
Him, close compressing to his breast,
The sire of gods and men address'd,
"My son, my heav'nly fair!


"Descend to earth, there place thy throne;
"To succour man's afflicted son
"Each human heart inspire:
"To act in bounties unconfin'd
"Enlarge the close contracted mind,
"And fill it with thy fire."


Quick as the word, with swift career
He wings his course from star to star,
And leaves the bright abode.
The Virtue did his charms impart;
Their G——! then thy raptur'd heart
Perceiv'd the rushing God:


For when thy pitying eye did see
The languid muse in low degree,
Then, then at thy desire
Descended the celestial nine;
O'er me methought they deign'd to shine,
And deign'd to string my lyre.


Can Afric's muse forgetful prove?
Or can such friendship fail to move
A tender human heart?
Immortal Friendship laurel-crown'd
The smiling Graces all surround
With ev'ry heav'nly Art.


just a bit from: SOLITUDE OF SELF
 - Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The point I wish plainly to bring before you on this occasion is the individuality of each human soul[.] . . . In discussing the rights of woman, we are to consider, first, what belongs to her as an individual[.] . . . Her rights under such circumstances are to use all her faculties for her own safety and happiness.  . . .

No matter how much women prefer to lean, to be protected and supported, nor how much men desire to have them do so, they must make the voyage of life alone, and for safety in an emergency they must know something of the laws of navigation. To guide our own craft, we must be captain, pilot, engineer; with chart and compass to stand at the wheel; to match the wind and waves and know when to take in the sail, and to read the signs in the firmament over all. It matters not whether the solitary voyager is man or woman.

Nature having endowed them equally, leaves them to their own skill and judgment in the hour of danger, and, if not equal to the occasion, alike they perish.

To appreciate the importance of fitting every human soul for independent action, think for a moment of the immeasurable solitude of self. We come into the world alone, unlike all who have gone before us; we leave it alone under circumstances peculiar to ourselves.  . . .  Seeing, then, what must be the infinite diversity in human, character, we can in a measure appreciate the loss to a nation when any large class of the people in uneducated and unrepresented in the government. We ask for the complete development of every individual, first, for his own benefit and happiness. In fitting out an army we give each soldier his own knapsack, arms, powder, his blanket, cup, knife, fork and spoon. We provide alike for all their individual necessities, then each man bears his own burden.  . . .

The solitude of the king on his throne and the prisoner in his cell differs in character and degree, but it is solitude nevertheless.  . . .

Alike mid the greatest triumphs and darkest tragedies of life we walk alone. On the devine heights of human attainments, eulogized land worshiped as a hero or saint, we stand alone. In ignorance, poverty, and vice, as a pauper or criminal, alone we starve or steal; alone we suffer the sneers and rebuffs of our fellows; alone we are hunted and hounded thro dark courts and alleys, in by-ways and highways; alone we stand in the judgment seat; alone in the prison cell we lament our crimes and misfortunes; alone we expiate them on the gallows. In hours like these we realize the awful solitude of individual life, its pains, its penalties, its responsibilities; hours in which the youngest and most helpless are thrown on their own resources for guidance and consolation. Seeing then that life must ever be a march and a battle, that each soldier must be equipped for his own protection, it is the height of cruelty to rob the individual of a single natural right.

Photo by Villi.Ingi

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Snow & Ice

heavy blizzard with only ragged fence visible
Quincy Troupe (1939 - present)

ice sheets sweep this slick mirrored dark place
space as keys that turn in tight, trigger
pain of situations
where we move ever so slowly
so gently into time — traced agony
the bright turning of imagination
so slowly
grooved through revolving doors, opening up to enter
mountains where spirits walk voices, ever so slowly
swept by cold, breathing fire
as these elliptical moments of illusion
link fragile loves sunk deep in snows as footprints
the voice prints cold black gesticulations
bone bare voices
chewed skeletal choices
in fangs of piranha gales
spewing out slivers of raucous laughter
glinting bright as hard polished silver nails

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Morning Poem #43

sunrise over the ocean
Wanda Phipps (1960 - present)
(is on Facebook & Myspace)

I close my eyes
and there it is
a concrete walkway
leading out of a
small village
hugging the sides
of a green green
tree filled mountainside
and to the right
a pipe railing
paited the color
of oxidized metaland even firther
to my right
a small beach
costline-an ocean
all under a pale blue sky
all there when my eyelids
close and the shutters open

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Electric Slide Boogie

painting of six women in brightly colored dresses and hats
Audre Lorde (1934 - 1992)

New Year's Day 1:16 AM
and my body is weary beyond
time to withdraw and rest
ample room allowed me in everyone's head
but community calls
right over the threshold
drums beating through the walls
children playing their truck dramas
under the collapsible coatrack
in the narrow hallway outside my room

The TV lounge next door is wide open
it is midnight in Idaho
and the throb easy subtle spin
of the electric slide boogie
around the corner of the parlor
past the sweet clink
of dining room glasses
and the edged aroma of slightly overdone
dutch-apple pie
all laced together
with the rich dark laughter
of Gloria
and her higher-octave sisters

How hard it is to sleep
in the middle of life.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Father's Love Letters

Yusef Komunyakaa (1947 - present)

On Fridays he'd open a can of Jax
After coming home from the mill,
& ask me to write a letter to my mother
Who sent postcards of desert flowers
Taller than men. He would beg,
Promising to never beat her
Again. Somehow I was happy
She had gone, & sometimes wanted
To slip in a reminder, how Mary Lou
Williams' "Polka Dots & Moonbeams"
Never made the swelling go down.
His carpenter's apron always bulged
With old nails, a claw hammer
Looped at his side & extension cords
Coiled around his feet.
Words rolled from under the pressure
Of my ballpoint: Love,
Baby, Honey, Please.
We sat in the quiet brutality
Of voltage meters & pipe threaders,
Lost between sentences . . .
The gleam of a five-pound wedge
On the concrete floor
Pulled a sunset
Through the doorway of his toolshed.
I wondered if she laughed
& held them over a gas burner.
My father could only sign
His name, but he'd look at blueprints
& say how many bricks
Formed each wall. This man,
Who stole roses & hyacinth
For his yard, would stand there
With eyes closed & fists balled,
Laboring over a simple word, almost
Redeemed by what he tried to say.


The Big Picture takes us there.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


sculpture of squatting father cradling young son
Forrest Hamer (1956 - present)

It was 1963 or 4, summer,
and my father was driving our family
from Ft. Hood to North Carolina in our 56 Buick.
We'd been hearing about Klan attacks, and we knew

Mississippi to be more dangerous than usual.
Dark lay hanging from the trees the way moss did,
and when it moaned light against the windows
that night, my father pulled off the road to sleep.

that usually woke me from rest afraid of monsters
kept my father awake that night, too,
and I lay in the quiet noticing him listen, learning
that he might not be able always to protect us

from everything and the creatures besides;
perhaps not even from the fury suddenly loud
through my body about his trip from Texas
to settle us home before he would go away

to a place no place in the world
he named Viet Nam. A boy needs a father
with him, I kept thinking, fixed against noise
from the dark.