Friday, September 30, 2011

The Farmer

Each day I go into the fields
to see what is growing
and what remains to be done.
It is always the same thing: nothing
is growing, everything needs to be done.
Plow, harrow, disc, water, pray
till my bones ache and hands rub
blood-raw with honest labor—
all that grows is the slow
intransigent intensity of need.
I have sown my seed on soil
guaranteed by poverty to fail.
But I don’t complain—except
to passersby who ask me why
I work such barren earth.
They would not understand me
if I stooped to lift a rock
and hold it like a child, or laughed,
or told them it is their poverty
I labor to relieve. For them,
I complain. A farmer of dreams
knows how to pretend. A farmer of dreams
knows what it means to be patient.
Each day I go into the fields.
from: Beautiful Wreckage. Copyright 1999.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

This Song ALWAYS Brings Tears to My Eyes

That's how I know life hasn't beaten the humanity out of me.

We have debts and struggle, just like everyone else. But we are acutely aware of how easily things could be much worse. 

The number of folks on corners with signs has exploded in the past few years; some asking for work, some looking to get someplace else, some just trying to stay alive. 

And if you look into their eyes you will see profound sadness mixed with a kind of surprise. They never expected to be here asking you for a hand out.

On payday I will be making a donation to help someone else.

Please join me.

We don't have much, but even a few dollars can make a difference.

(There are links to several charities below the video
& on the side bar at left)

Give whatever and wherever you feel comfortable, but please give. 

Local organizations that aid the homeles and those living in poverty are always in need of volunteers. Your time is a valuable gift, too.

This was originally written during the depression (1931) by Yip Harburg,
who was later blacklisted during the McCathy era.

LINKS (Click on the logo to go to the site):

Stop Family Violence

Stop Family Violence
All State funding was cut for programs to prevent family violence
and help victims in California.


Connecting you to classrooms in need

It won't cost you a thing

It won't cost you a thing
You click and the advertisers donate

Red Cross

Red Cross
Direct Link for Red Cross Donations


Well, this is so appalling that the rest of the world is appalled by it. SOME people in America are appalled by it. But in a country which claims to revere freedom, and in which the democratic process is so revered that it would apparently commit any atrocity if enough people voted for it – there seems little that can be done to prevent this kins of revenge killing from continuing. OR the cruel and unusual punishment that precedes it. 

Sometimes, to Really Hear, We Must Listen With the Heart.

old man with head down on cane

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good Question

If culture is lost
to mass consumerism,
can we buy it back?

- Laura Caudill

from: Haiku for Sociologists
Copyright 2009.

Everything Old . . .

Some low-cost innovations that can save thousands of lives, 
courtesy of Dr. Abigail Zuger, over at the NYT.

It’s not that the American health system is completely deficient in small, clever, inexpensive fixes. It’s just that sometimes they’re awfully hard to find.

The whole system tilts heavily in the other direction. We specialize in giant, cumbersome, ruinously expensive fixes. Thus, while we duly celebrate some clever little tools, we compulsively improve on others until they are almost unrecognizable, and still others we blithely ignore. . . .

READ ON. . .

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Who Has Seen the Wind?

dandelion gone to seed flying in the wind   by Christina Rossetti

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

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sorry, Improv Only

If I knew life was
a play, I would have asked for
my script long ago.

- Alexis Dispenza

from: Haiku for Sociologists
Copyright 2009.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


The Debt

tear about to fall from eye lashes
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!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Do you see anything unusual in this picture? Look again. 
You might be surprised.

They're all around us, some more fascinating, 


Freedom only means
people are freely choosing
their conformity

 - Vananh Nguyen

from: Haiku for Sociologists
Copyright 2009.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cap'n Slappy Says, "Even us pirates luv us sum po'tree."

(for the Talk like a Pirate home page click the banner)

from: The Love Ditty of an ’eartsick Pirate

by Katy Evans-Bush

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.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

On Gifts For Grace

      by Bernadette Mayer
small white gift with red bow held out in two hands with palms up

I saw a great teapot
I wanted to get you this stupendous
100% cotton royal blue and black checked shirt,
There was a red and black striped one too
Then I saw these boots at a place called Chuckles
They laced up to about two inches above your ankles
All leather and in red, black or purple
It was hard to have no money today
I won't even speak about the possible flowers and kinds of lingerie
All linen and silk with not-yet-perfumed laces
Brilliant enough for any of the Graces
Full of luxury, grace notes, prosperousness and charm
But I can only praise you with this poem—
Its being is the same as the meaning of your name

from: Scarlet Tanager. Copyright 2005.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Haiku

Our America:
Not a classic melting pot,
but imported fruit.

- Elizabeth Larson

from: Haiku for Sociologists
Copyright 2009.

So True . . .

brown dog sleeping with two kittens and saying, You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him

Friday, September 16, 2011

"We must love one another or die."

by W.H. Auden
I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
'I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,'
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Also: The Essential Auden, Christopher Hitchens.

It Looks Like Summer is Drawing to a Close.

My garden is still flourishing, but fallen leaves from the nearby trees cover the beds with confetti flavored mulch.

I don't actually have a beach or an ocean in my yard, but this picture seemed to capture the feeling none the less.

wave wahing away the word summer written on the beach

Thursday, September 15, 2011


“When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

No Reason

white park bench under beautiful huge tree in early autumn

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Found This While Wandering, It Says So Much . . .

"So many contradictions, so little time"
                         ---Roshi Bob
Faithful Contradictions

But when the forbidden months are past,
then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them,
and seize them, beleaguer them,
and lie in wait for them in every stratagem…
                  --Koran 9:5


. . . have patience with what they say,
and leave them with noble dignity.
And leave me alone to deal with those
in possession of the good things of life,
who yet deny the truth,
and bear with them . . .
                  --Koran 73:10,11


And all the cities of those kings,
and all the kings of them, did Joshua take,
and smote them with the edge of the sword,
and he utterly destroyed them,
as Moses the servant of the LORD
                   --Bible; Joshua 11:12


A new command I give you:
Love one another. As I have loved you,
so you must love one another.
                  --Bible; John 13:34

Monday, September 12, 2011

Outnumbered and Surrounded, 21 Men Made a Valiant Choice . . . "To the last man, with the last round."

Saragarhi Day

The story of

Also: herehere, here, & here.

1800s photo of three Sikh guards atop a wall

"We may sorrow for the sacrifice of these brave soldiers, but the Sikh nation, while it lasts, will never forget the glory of the defence."

- Lt. Col John Haughton, 
Commandant, 36th Sikh Regiment

Sunday, September 11, 2011


In the end, we must forgive, as Christ forgave from the cross, because we cannot allow ourselves, or our world, to be swept away in waves of hatred and sin.  Standing fast for the good, accepting evil rather than returning it, is the only way the tides of injustice can be turned.  We choose life rather than revenge, because choosing life can never be postponed.   We can’t hate first and choose life later.  Those paths diverge at the foot of the cross, in the very face of the God who is life.  Either we choose to love or to hate, to live or to die.  There is only God and that which is not.
- Terrance W. Klein,

A Little Bit of History . . . in the (Re)Making

A view of the south reflecting pool at the National September 11 Memorial at ground zero
A view of the south reflecting pool 
at the National September 11 Memorial, ground zero.


My first reaction Sept. 11 was, of course, shock and dismay. And then I had the curious feeling that I had been through all this before. In the mid-30s of the past century, when Hitler's tanks and storm troopers were sweeping through Europe and the cities were being leveled one by one, it seemed as though civilization itself was doomed. The poem I wrote then, Night Letter, speaks for me now as it did then.

Night Letter

The urgent letter that I try to write

Night after night to you to whom I turn,
The staunchless word, my language of wound,
Begins to stain the page. Here in my room
With the unkenneled need, the Faustian Dog
That chews my penitential bones, I hope
And do not hope, I pray and mock my prayer,
Twisting my coils, this dangling life of mine,
Now twelve years come of age, and me unpleased
With all my ways, my very little ones,
My parts, my lines, unless you hold them dear.
Where is your ministry? I thought I heard
A piece of laughter break upon the stair
Like glass, but when I wheeled around I saw
Disorder, in a tall magician's hat,
Keeping his rabbit-madness crouched inside,
Sit at my desk and scramble all the news.
The strangest things are happening. Christ! The dead,
Pushing the membrane from their face, salute
The dead and scribble slogans on the walls;
Phantoms and phobias mobilize, thronging
The roads; and in the Bitch's streets the men
Are lying down, great crowds with fractured wills
Dumping the shapeless burden of their lives
Into the rivers where the motors flowed.

Of those that stood in my doorway, self-accused,
Besmeared with failure in the swamps of trade,
One put a gun in his examiner's hand,
Making the judgment loud; another squats

Upon the asylum floor and plays with toys,

Like the spiral of a souls balanced on a stone,

Or a new gadget for slicing off the thumb;

The rest whirl in the torment of our time.
What have we done to them that what they are
Shrinks from the touch of what they hoped to be?
"Pardon," I plead, clutching the fragile sleeve
Of my poor father's ghost returned to howl
His wrongs. I suffer the twentieth century,
The nerves of commerce wither in my arm; 

Violence shakes my dreams; I am cold,
Chilled by the persecuting wind abroad,
The oratory of the rodent's tooth,
The slaughter of the blue-eyed open towns,
And principle disgraced, and art denied.
My dear, is it too late for peace, too late
For men to gather at the wells to drink
The sweet water; too late for fellowship
And laughter at the forge; too late for us
To say, "Let us be good to one another"?
The lamps go singly out; the valley sleeps;
I tend the last light shining on the farms
And keep for you the thought of love alive,
As scholars dungeoned in an ignorant age
Tended the embers of the Trojan fire.
Cities shall suffer siege and some shall fall,
But man's not taken. What the deep heart means,
Its message of the big, round, childish hand,
Its wonder, its simple lonely cry,
The bloodied envelope addressed to you,
Is history, that wide and mortal pang.

from: The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


We encourage you to serve or support a cause on 9/11 as a way of paying tribute to the victims and heroes of 9/11, and remembering the remarkable way that so many rose up in unity and service following the attacks.


     by C.K. Williams

close up still photo of Caesar from planet of the Apes

One branch, I read, of a species of chimpanzees has something like territorial wars,
and when the . . . army, I suppose you’d call it, of one tribe prevails and captures an enemy,“Several males hold a hand or foot of the rival so the victim can be damaged at will.”

This is so disquieting: if beings with whom we share so many genes can be this cruel,
what hope for us? Still, “rival,” “victim,” “will”—don’t such anthropomorphic terms
make those simians’ social-political conflicts sound more brutal than they are?

The chimps Catherine and I saw on their island sanctuary in Uganda we loathed.
Unlike the pacific gorillas in the forest of Bwindi, they fought, dementedly shrieked,
the dominant male lorded it over the rest; they were, in all, too much like us.

Another island from my recent reading, where Columbus, on his last voyage,
encountering some “Indians” who’d greeted him with curiosity and warmth, wrote,
before he chained and enslaved them, “They don’t even know how to kill each other.”

It’s occurred to me I’ve read enough—at my age all it does is confirm my sadness.
Surely the papers: war, terror, torture, corruption—they’re like broken glass in the mind.
Back when I knew I knew nothing, I read all the time, poems, novels, philosophy, myth,

but I hardly glanced at the news, there was a distance between what could happen
and the part of myself I felt with: now everything’s so tight against me I hardly can move.
The Analects say people in the golden age weren’t aware they were governed; they just lived.

Could I have passed through my own golden age and not even known I was there?
Some gold: nuclear rockets aimed at your head, racism, sexism, contempt for the poor.
And there I was, reading. What did I learn? Everything, nothing, too little, too much . . .
Just enough to get me here: a long-faced, white-haired ape with a book, still turning the page.

from: Wait. Copyright 2010.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Most Homeowners Have Been Here. Unfortunately, Many Are Back.

house made from fifty dollar bills

 Proudly I eat beans
and franks as I'm writing out
the mortgage payment

- Jerry Ratch & Sherry Karver
from: Homeowner Haiku. Copyright 2005.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

TEACH . . . LEARN . . . Peer to Peer

skilshare logo in brown and blue
Click on the logo to achieve enlightenment.

About SKILLSHARE: here & here & here.

(I discovered this on Andrew Sullivan's The Dish
If you haven't checked him out yet, please do.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Some Thoughts on an Approaching Anniversary

Bin Laden and his henchmen failed ... But our own fear won. Fear stopped us, overwhelmed us, as our ra-tion-al-ity deserted us. Yes, it was understandable, given what we endured that September morning. But we need to admit that our response was close to fatal. A bankrupted America that tortured innocents and disregarded its own Constitution is barely recognizable as America.


   by Michael Cirelli

Deep in the Boogie Down—
 the bassinet of the boom bap
 where the trinity is The Treacherous Three,

English is the third language
 behind Bronx and Puerto Rican,
  and I was nervous

because I only speak Catholic school
 and I'm a Red Sox fan.  

I'm just a student of KRS-1, not a son,

on a train fourteen stops beyond my comfort
 zone hiding behind headphones coughing
  bass, and a backpack full of lyrics:

Notorious B.I.G., Rakim, Perdomo,
Run DMC, Brooks, wanting to be real cool,
two cartoon magpies with attitude
wanting to be their "dawg"—
 but feeling like a mailman,
  another Elvis

to the students I will lead 
 through a workshop in a language

  I itch to get my rusted cavities around.
from: Vacations on the Black Star Line
Copyright 2010. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

   by W. B. Yeats
sunset on Lake Innisfree as seen from the shore

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.
Lake Isle of Innisfee

Sunday, September 4, 2011

We Are All on the Narrow Road

all the more I wish to see
in those blossoms at dawn
the face of a god

- Basho

pink and white cosmos against a bright blue sky with wispy clouds

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Saunter on over to Mental Floss and acquaint yourself with some wonderful Words With No English Equivalent

Oh, the one in the heading is Japanese, and describes the act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

THIS is Why Education is important. Well, ONE Reason Anyway.

[T]he entire faith we put in democracy as a form of governance rests on the fragile assumption that, in the realm of free and open debate, conscientious thought will more often than not carry the day. And that assumption, as Thomas Jefferson saw more clearly than the other founding fathers, rests in turn on a viable system of public education. ...

Citizen education “was the central, defining moment of [Jefferson’s] political and moral philosophy,” wrote political theorist Benjamin Barber. “Everything else turned on it.” Throughout his correspondence, Jefferson maintained that only an educated citizenry can practice true self-governance. ...

I Need a Nap

painting of a woman in a flowing orange dress curled up and sleeping