Monday, May 31, 2010


CNN gives us 
on this 
Memorial Day 

I measure every Grief I meet

by Emily Dickinson

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, Eyes –
I wonder if It weighs like Mine –
Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long –
Or did it just begin –
I could not tell the Date of Mine –
It feels so old a pain –

I wonder if it hurts to live –
And if They have to try –
And whether – could They choose between –
It would not be – to die –

I note that Some – gone patient long –
At length, renew their smile – 
An imitation of a Light
That has so little Oil –

I wonder if when Years have piled – 
Some Thousands – on the Harm – 
That hurt them early – such a lapse
Could give them any Balm – 

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve –
Enlightened to a larger Pain – 
In Contrast with the Love – 

The Grieved – are many – I am told – 
There is the various Cause – 
Death – is but one – and comes but once – 
And only nails the eyes – 

There's Grief of Want – and grief of Cold – 
A sort they call "Despair" – 
There's Banishment from native Eyes –
In Sight of Native Air – 

And though I may not guess the kind – 
Correctly – yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary – 

To note the fashions – of the Cross – 
And how they're mostly worn – 
Still fascinated to presume
That Some – are like My Own –

Copyright © 1998 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Untitled [This is what was bequeathed us]

by Gregory Orr
This is what was bequeathed us:
This earth the beloved left
And, leaving,
Left to us.

No other world
But this one:
Willows and the river
And the factory
With its black smokestacks.

No other shore, only this bank
On which the living gather.

No meaning but what we find here.
No purpose but what we make.

That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:
Turn me into song; sing me awake.

from: How Beautiful the Beloved by Gregory Orr. Copyright © 2009 by Gregory Orr.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


On Corporate "Personhood"

I know this post is very late, 
but as I posted recently, we've had a family tragedy that diverted my energies. 

I promised in the wake of the West Virginia mine disaster to illuminate the legislative trail that allows this type of thing to happen over and over.

evil looking clown menacing audience
This is PART I.

In a letter to George Logan November 12, 1816, Thomas Jefferson said:
"I hope we shall...crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country."
Then there was Abraham Lincoln:
"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
Also, former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black (1938) The Secret of Life:
" Of the cases in this court in which the 14th amendment [which gave US citizens equal protection under the law] was applied during its first 50 years after its adoption, less than one half of 1% invoked it in protection of the Negro race, and more than 50% asked that its benefits be extended to corporations."
However, this year (2010):
"Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. . . . and it will have major political and practical consequences. Specialists in campaign finance law said they expected the decision to reshape the way elections were conducted. . . .
Why is that important?
President Obama called it “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.
Justice John Paul Stevens said the majority had committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings."  - NYT
Political blogger F.T. Rea,  a studdier of this subject whom I owe for many of my new resources on it, had these words to say about the recent decision:
"The corporation isn’t human, it’s more like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster … run amok on cocaine. . . .
Now drug companies and insurance companies will be able to throw unfettered money at any and every political contest they target. In many cases that kind of focused maneuver will likely swamp the efforts of the locals. . . .

Furthermore, it is going to mean my freedom of speech, which includes my right to have a chance to be heard, can be made meaningless by corporations that can simply drown out the sound of my voice.

When the Constitution says I have a right to freedom of speech, that can’t just mean I have the right to express myself. It says “speech,” which implies communication. This decision seems to say it’s now going to be OK for a corporation to spend billions of dollars to make sure nobody can hear what the hell I’m trying to say.  -- Art and words by F.T. Rea

On his website, Rea may seem excitable at times. But as the saying goes:

"If you aren't terrified, you just aren't paying attention."

Here are some other links you might find of interest:

The Secret of Life
Unequal Protection by Thom Hartmann

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Tyler Cowen, from Marginal Revolution, lists the books he feels have influenced him most and encourages a others to do so also.

Although an avid reader from childhood, I never thought about which books most influenced me as I grew. So I decided to give it some thought and I humbly offer my conclusions below.

The original lists were limited to ten, but I somehow ended up with eleven and just can't bring myself to cut any of my choices. You see, the books I love, even from childhood, have continued to occupy a prominent place in my living space, and my heart.
animation of a girl reading in a purple chair

1). The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams 
2). The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
These are stories of sacrifice and selfless love. Did they plant their seeds in my soul, or only nurture seeds already there?

3). The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
4). A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
5). To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Stories about outcasts always resonated for this loud, socially tone deaf, preadolescent tomboy. (they still do) The struggle of morality and ethics against social and political constraints was also a theme I've been drawn to repeatedly. 

That, and I needed to believe happy endings were possible. I've read Secret Garden nearly every year since the first time, at 10 years.

6). Fanny Hill by John Cleland
Ooo La La! All right, I admit that at ten, Cleland was way over my head. As the years passed I realized that the true impact of this book was more in my parents' reaction to my reading it than the book content, itself. Books prompted questions and discussion in our house, not censorship. But being parents, I'm sure they relaxed when they realized that the most controversial parts were really going over my head. 

When I revisited the book as an adult, the bawdy descriptions of lustful assignations bore no resemblance to any reality I had experienced. But the talks with my mother that it prompted were both educational and enlightening. 

The connections built and strengthened through such discussions were enduring and priceless. 

7). Animal Farm by George Orwell
8). Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
9). A Brave New World by Aldus Huxley
Then came social politics. (And Books!) These books offered a safe view outside of my cocoon, at issues that have been - and continue to be - handed down, in one form or another, for millennia. (And Books!) They sparked a flame that still burns. 

It was also not in my makeup to by pass a whole book about books and reading (Fahrenheit 451), especially one that highlighted their important position as the center of all existence. (Did I mention, Books!)

10). Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The outcast was grown and out on her own in Jane Eyre. Homely girl makes good after all. I don't like soppy endings, but everyone needs some happiness and I think I saw myself in Jane. Bookish and socially stunted, if she could find happiness then perhaps I could as well.

11). The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Finally, have you ever read a book and found it pulling together the disparate threads of your psyche into a coherent whole? That is what happened to me when I fell into Lewis' The Great Divorce. I found that it enabled me to see a big picture view of life: society, spirituality, structure.

Viewing myself through a filter of the kind of books I read is an interesting exercise. In today's climate of  intellectual repression, I shudder to think of my entire reading list in the hands of the "thought police," but I can not even imagine my existence without books.

Wait! Didn't I read that somewhere?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Curriculum Vitae

by Lisel Mueller, 1992

1) I was born in a Free City, near the North Sea.

2) In the year of my birth, money was shredded into
confetti. A loaf of bread cost a million marks. Of
course I do not remember this.

3) Parents and grandparents hovered around me. The
world I lived in had a soft voice and no claws.

4) A cornucopia filled with treats took me into a building
with bells. A wide-bosomed teacher took me in.

5) At home the bookshelves connected heaven and earth.

6) On Sundays the city child waded through pinecones
and primrose marshes, a short train ride away.

7) My country was struck by history more deadly than
earthquakes or hurricanes.

8) My father was busy eluding the monsters. My mother
told me the walls had ears. I learned the burden of secrets.

9) I moved into the too bright days, the too dark nights
of adolescence.

10) Two parents, two daughters, we followed the sun
and the moon across the ocean. My grandparents stayed
behind in darkness.

11) In the new language everyone spoke too fast. Eventually
I caught up with them.

12) When I met you, the new language became the language
of love.

13) The death of the mother hurt the daughter into poetry.
The daughter became a mother of daughters.

14) Ordinary life: the plenty and thick of it. Knots tying
threads to everywhere. The past pushed away, the future left
unimagined for the sake of the glorious, difficult, passionate

15) Years and years of this.

16) The children no longer children. An old man's pain, an
old man's loneliness.

17) And then my father too disappeared.

18) I tried to go home again. I stood at the door to my
childhood, but it was closed to the public.

19) One day, on a crowded elevator, everyone's face was younger
than mine.

20) So far, so good. The brilliant days and nights are
breathless in their hurry. We follow, you and I.


Monday, May 24, 2010


Domestic Scene 

The meal was o'er, the lamp was lit,
The family sat in its glow;
The Mother never ceased to knit,
The Daughter never slacked to sew;
The Father read his evening news,
The Son was playing solitaire:
If peace a happy home could choose
I'm sure you'd swear that it was there.


The Mother:

"Ah me! this hard lump in my breast . . .
Old Doctor Brown I went to see;
Because it don't give me no rest,
He fears it may malignant be.
To operate it might be well,
And keep the evil of awhile;
But oh the folks I dare not tell,
And so I sit and knit and smile."

The Father:

"The mortgage on the house is due,
My bank account is overdrawn;
I'm at my wits end what to do -
I've plunged, but now my hope is gone.
For coverage my brokers call,
But I'm so deeply in the red . . .
If ever I should lose my all,
I'll put a bullet in my head."

The Daughter:

"To smile I do the best I can,
But it's so hard to act up gay.
My lover is a married man,
And now his child is on the way.
My plight I cannot long conceal,
And though I bear their bitter blame,
Unto my dears I must reveal
My sin, my sorrow and my shame."

The Son:

"Being a teller in a Bank
I'd no right in a blackjack game.
But for my ruin I must thank
My folly for a floozie dame.
To face the Manager I quail;
If he should check my cash I'm sunk . . .
Before they throw me into gaol
I guess I'd better do a bunk."

So sat they in the Winter eve
In sweet serenity becalmed,
So peaceful you could scarce believe
They shared the torments of the damned . . .
Yet there the Mother smiles and knits;
The Daughter sews white underwear;
The Father reads and smokes and spits,
While Sonny Boy plays solitaire.

beautiful painting by: OLAF ERLA graphic design and digital art
(click to enlarge and please visit his site for more)

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Our youngest grandchild turns two today.

Happy Birthday Sweetie!


Infant Joy
by William Blake

"I have no name:
I am but two days old."
What shall I call thee?
"I happy am,
Joy is my name."
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty joy!
Sweet joy, but two days old.
Sweet Joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while;
Sweet joy befall thee!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010



What is this life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare

- William Henry Davies, sometimes nicknamed "the tramp poet"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Because I could not stop for Death

by Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity –

Copyright © 1998 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I have a bit of a crick in my neck today

pencil drawing of Natalie portman as Anne Boleyn

Natalie portman as Anne Boleyn

- Anne Boleyn

Death, rock me asleep,
Bring me to quiet rest,
Let pass my weary guiltless ghost
Out of my careful breast.
Toll on, thou passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Let thy sound my death tell.
Death doth draw nigh;
There is no remedy.
My pains who can express?
Alas, they are so strong;
My dolour will not suffer strength
My life for to prolong.
Toll on, thou passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Let thy sound my death tell.
Death doth draw nigh;
There is no remedy.
Alone in prison strong
I wait my destiny.
Woe worth this cruel hap that I
Should taste this misery!
Toll on, thou passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Let thy sound my death tell.
Death doth draw nigh;
There is no remedy.
Farewell, my pleasures past,
Welcome, my present pain!
I feel my torments so increase
That life cannot remain.
Cease now, thou passing bell;
Rung is my doleful knell;
For the sound my death doth tell.
Death doth draw nigh;
There is no remedy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"I trust your Garden was willing to die ... I do not think that mine was—it perished with beautiful reluctance, like an evening star—"


Monday, May 17, 2010

Well, You're Not THAT Old.

Happy Birthday Becks!

A Little Tooth

Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It's all

over: she'll learn some words, she'll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,

your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore.  It's dusk.  Your daughter's tall.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

When Death Comes

 - Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

And You Thought You Were the Only One

       by Mark Bibbins

Someone waits at my door. Because he is
    dead he has time but I have my secrets--

    this is what separates us from the dead.
See, I could order take-out or climb down

the fire escape, so it's not as though he
    is keeping me from anything I need.

    While this may sound like something I made up,
it is not; I have forgotten how to

lie, despite all my capable teachers.
    Lies are, in this way, I think, like music

    and all is the same without them as with.
The fluid sky retains regret, then bursts.

He is still there, standing in the hall, insisting
    he is someone I once knew and wanted,

    come laden with gifts he cannot return.
If I open the door he'll flash and fade

like heat lightning behind a bank of clouds
    one summer night at the edge of the world.

from: Sky Lounge by Mark Bibbins, published by Graywolf Press, May 2003. Copyright © 2003 by Mark Bibbins.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Making the Bed

for D.

Summer country. In the morning the leaves

to the window and fold
the house in. Mountains and sun. I fold

the blankets, hand smooth. When
you’re here

I know it. The sun crosses

the hand’s breadth—

and in your face

the unenterable
image. Under

your eyelids
night unfolds. Pull

the blanket over you
and with it

the darkened air.

from: Somehow, copyright © 2005 by Burt Kimmelman.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


“But the poem is just this, Speaking of what cannot be said to the person I want to say it.”
 - early 20th Century American poet David Schubert


Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Due to the wonder that is pre-scheduling, my blog has been rolling along uninterrupted. Some of you, however, may have noticed a dearth of research and links attached to my posts lately. That’s because we have been caring for our son as he passed through a miserable wasting illness and my focus was there. With the support of Hospice we were able to have him home with us and late last night he completed his journey. He has left us with a hole in our hearts.

We miss you B


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Back Yard

by Carl Sandburg

Shine on, O moon of summer. 
Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak, 
All silver under your rain to-night. 
An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion. 
A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month;
     to-night they are throwing you kisses.
An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a
     cherry tree in his back yard. 
The clocks say I must go—I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking
     white thoughts you rain down. 
     Shine on, O moon, 
Shake out more and more silver changes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

They'll spend the summer

by Joshua Beckman

They'll spend the summer
crushing the garden--
a steam let off slowly.

from: Your Time Has Come by Joshua Beckman, published by Verse Press. Copyright © 2004 by Joshua Beckman.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


NASHVILLE is desperately in need of assistance. 

It has been hit with severe FLOODING, which has left death and devastation in its wake. The RED CROSS icon on the side bar will take you to their site, where you can join with others to help out.


about this.

Come on folks.

You have every right to limit what your children read, but you have no right to limit the reading choices of other people's children.

The first is responsible parenting. The second is censorship.


 Sand Art

Friday, May 7, 2010


I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.
 - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Never try to out-stubborn a cat.
- Lazarus Long

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Her Body Like a Lantern Next to Me       
by John Rybicki

            There's this movie I am watching:
my love's belly almost five months
            pregnant with cancer,

            more like a little rock wall
piled and fitted inside her
            than some prenatal rounding.

            Over there's her face
near the frying pan she's bent over,
            but there's no water in the pan,

            and so, no reflection.  No pool
where I might gather such a thing as a face,
            or sew it there on a tablet made of water.

            To have and to haul it away,
sometimes dipping into her
            in the next room that waits for me.


            I am old at this.  I am stretching
the wick again into my throat
            when the flame burns down.

            She's splashing in the tub
and singing, I love him very much,
            though I'm old and tired

            and cancerous.  It's spring
and now she's stopping traffic,
            lifting one of her painted turtles

            across the road.  Someone's honking,
pumping one arm out the window,
            cheering her on.

            She falls then like there's a house
on her back, hides her head in the bank grass
            and vomits into the ditch.

            She keeps her radioactive linen,
Bowl, and spoon separate. For seven days
            we sleep in different rooms.

            Over there's the toilet she's been
heaving her roots into. One time I heard her
            through the door make a toast to it,

            Here's to you, toilet bowl.
There's nothing poetic about this.
            I have one oar that hangs

            from our bedroom window,
and I am rowing our hut
            in the same desperate circle.


            I warm her tea then spread
cream cheese over her bagel,
            and we lie together like two guitars,
            A rose like a screw
in each of our mouths.
            There's that liquid river of story

            that sometimes sweeps us away
from all this, into the ha ha
            and the tender. At night the streetlights

            buzz on again with the stars,
and the horses in the field  swat their tails
            like we will go on forever.


            I'm at my desk herding some
lost language when I notice how quiet
            she has been. Twice I call her name

            and wait after my voice has lost its legs
and she does not ring back.
            Dude, I'm still here, she says at last

            then the sound of her
stretching her branches, and from them
            the rain falling thick through our house.

            I'm racing to place pots and pans
everywhere.  Bottle her in super canning jars.
            For seventeen years, I've lined

            the shelves of our root cellar with them.
One drop for each jar.
            I'll need them for later.

from: We Bed Down Into Water by John Rybicki. Copyright © 2008 by John Rybicki.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Debt

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

This is the debt I pay
Just for one riotous day,
Years of regret and grief,
Sorrow without relief.

Pay it I will to the end—
Until the grave, my friend,
Gives me a true release—
Gives me the clasp of peace.

Slight was the thing I bought,
Small was the debt I thought,
Poor was the loan at best—
God! but the interest!

Monday, May 3, 2010

O Little Root of a Dream

by Paul Celan
Translated by Heather McHugh and Nikolai Popov

O little root of a dream
you hold me here
undermined by blood,
no longer visible to anyone,
property of death.

Curve a face
that there may be speech, of earth,
of ardor, of
things with eyes, even
here, where you read me blind,

where you
refute me,
to the letter.

horizontal abstracted pictire of strip of ornamental grasses

from: The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology: Selections from the 2001 Shortlist, published by House of Anansi Press.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


salmon hibiscus flower

Translated by Clare Cavanagh 
and Stanislaw Baranczak

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you're the planet's biggest dunce,
you can't repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.

One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.

The next day, though you're here with me,
I can't help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock?

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It's in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we're different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.

from: Poems New and Collected: 1957-1997 by Wislawa Szymborska. Copyright © 1998 by Wislawa Szymborska.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1996 - "for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality"


Saturday, May 1, 2010

It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

QWERTY favors us
with some interesting analogies and metaphors
from high school essays.

* She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.

* The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

* Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

* The knife was as sharp as the tone used by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) in her first several points of parliamentary procedure made to Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in the House Judiciary Committee hearings on the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton.

On a different note . . .
 Love this!
(Picture found here. As usual, click on it to enlarge.)