Saturday, June 30, 2012

A President on Immigration . . .

No doubt you have been disappointed in some of us. Some of us are very disappointing. No doubt you have found that justice in the United States goes only with a pure heart and a right purpose, as it does everywhere else in the world. No doubt what you have found here did not seem touched for you, after all, with the complete beauty of the ideal which you had conceived beforehand.

But remember this: If we had grown at all poor in the ideal, you brought some of it with you. … And if some of us have forgotten what America believed in, you, at any rate, imported in your own hearts a renewal of the belief. That is the reason that I, for one, make you welcome. … You dreamed dreams of what America was to be, and I hope you brought the dreams with you.

No man that does not see visions will ever realize any high hope or undertake any high enterprise. Just because you brought dreams with you, America is more likely to realize dreams such as you brought. You are enriching us if you came expecting us to be better than we are.

Woodrow Wilson, Philadelphia, May 10, 1915
to 4,000 newly naturalized citizens

for My Love on Our 23rd Anniversary . . .

Sonnet 138
- Wm. Shakespeare

elongated shadow of couple holding hands
When my love swears that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor'd youth,
Unlearned in the world's false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth suppress'd.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love's best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told:
   Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
   And in our faults by lies we flatter'd be.


from: Rabbi Ben Ezra  
old hands, two male hands gently holding one female hand

Grow old along with me!
   The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
   Our times are in His hand
   Who saith, 'A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Quote of the Day

Some believe that when it comes to counter-terrorism, the end always justifies the means; that torture, abuse, the suspension of civil liberties – no measure is too extreme in the name of keeping our citizens safe.

But unfortunately, this view is short-sighted and wrong.

When nations violate human rights and undermine the rule of law, even in the pursuit of terrorists, it feeds radicalization, gives propaganda tools to the extremists, and ultimately undermines our efforts.

The international community cannot turn our eyes away from the effects of these tactics because they are part of the problem.

I know that the United States has not always had a perfect record, and we can and must do a better job of addressing the mistaken belief that these tactics are ever permissible.

 - secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Why is This Controversial Again? . . . Oh. . . . Yeah. . . .

The Universal Declaration 

The PREAMBLE begins:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, . . . 

What follows the Preamble is 30 RIGHTS to which some feel they are entitled but others are not, including . . .

Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty 
and security of person.
Sound familiar?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. . . .

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Here Are a Couple of Great Poetry Links

[UPDATE: How rude of me. I forgot to mention where I found these links.
 Lizzy, at Lizzy's Literary Life, offered these and more.]

We are passionately committed to bringing the pleasures and benefits of poetry to as wide an audience as possible.   . . .

There’s poetry here for everyone, and we can help you find the poem you’ll want to keep.

Brought to life using audio performance and archive footage, 60 Years in 60 Poems travels through time to unpack our shared history, celebrating individual moments alongside national events.

1,800 . . . Wow!

That's what number this post is!

The Geography of the House
- W. H. Auden
(for Christopher Isherwood)

Seated after breakfast porta potty looks like little cottage
In this white-tiled cabin
Arabs call the House where
Everybody goes,
Even melancholics
Raise a cheer to Mrs.
Nature for the primal
Pleasure She bestows.

Sex is but a dream to
But a joy proposed un-
-til we start to shave:
Mouth-delight depends on
Virtue in the cook, but
This She guarantees from
Cradle unto grave.

Lifted off the potty,
Infants from their mothers
Hear their first impartial
Words of worldly praise:
Hence, to start the morning
With a satisfactory
Dump is a good omen
All our adult days.

Revelation came to
Luther in a privy
(Crosswords have been solved there)
Rodin was no fool
When he cast his Thinker,
Cogitating deeply,
Crouched in the position
Of a man at stool.

All the arts derive from two story political potty with politicians on top voters on bottom
This ur-act of making,
Private to the artist:
Makers' lives are spent
Striving in their chosen
Medium to produce a
De-narcissus-ized en-
During excrement.

Freud did not invent the
Constipated miser:
Banks have letter boxes
Built in their façade
Marked For Night Deposits,
Stocks are firm or liquid,
Currencies of nations
Either soft or hard.

Global Mother, keep our
Bowels of compassion
Open through our lifetime,
Purge our minds as well:
Grant us a king ending,
Not a second childhood,
Petulant, weak-sphinctered,
In a cheap hotel.

Keep us in our station:
When we get pound-notish,
When we seem about to
Take up Higher Thought,
Send us some deflating
Image like the pained ex-
-pression on a Major
Prophet taken short.

(Orthodoxy ought to
Bless our modern plumbing:
Swift and St. Augustine
Lived in centuries
When a stench of sewage porta potty attached to bicycle
Made a strong debating
Point for Manichees.)

Mind and Body run on
Different timetables:
Not until our morning
Visit here can we
Leave the dead concerns of
Yesterday behind us,
Face with all our courage
What is now to be.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Look from the OUTSIDE . . .

[American Journal] 
   by Robert Hayden

here among them     the americans     this baffling 
multi people     extremes and variegations     their 
noise     restlessness     their almost frightening 
energy     how best describe these aliens in my 
reports to The Counselors 
disguise myself in order to study them unobserved 
adapting their varied pigmentations     white black 
red brown yellow     the imprecise and strangering 
distinctions by which they live     by which they 
justify their cruelties to one another 

charming savages     enlightened primitives     brash 
new comers lately sprung up in our galaxy     how 
describe them     do they indeed know what or who 
they are     do not seem to     yet no other beings 
in the universe make more extravagant claims
for their importance and identity
like us they have created a veritable populace 
of machines that serve and soothe and pamper 
and entertain     we have seen their flags and 
foot prints on the moon     also the intricate
rubbish left behind     a wastefully ingenious
people     many it appears worship the Unknowable 
Essence     the same for them as for us     but are 
more faithful to their machine made gods
technologists their shamans 

oceans deserts mountains grain fields canyons 
forests     variousness of landscapes weathers 
sun light moon light as at home     much here is 
beautiful     dream like vistas reminding me of  
home     item     have seen the rock place known 
as garden of the gods and sacred to the first 
indigenes     red monoliths of home     despite 
the tensions i breath in i am attracted to 
the vigorous americans     disturbing sensuous 
appeal of so many     never to be admitted 

something they call the american dream     sure 
we still believe in it i guess     an earth man 
in the tavern said     irregardless of the some 
times night mare facts we always try to double 
talk our way around     and its okay the dreams 
okay and means whats good could be a damn sight 
better     means every body in the good old u s a 
should have the chance to get ahead or at least 
should have three squares a day     as for myself 
i do okay     not crying hunger with a loaf of 
bread tucked under my arm you understand     i
fear one does not clearly follow i replied 
notice you got a funny accent pal     like where 
you from he asked     far from here i mumbled
he stared hard     i left 

must be more careful     item     learn to use okay
their pass word     okay 

crowds gathering in the streets today for some 
reason obscure to me     noise and violent motion
repulsive physical contact     sentinels     pigs 
i heard them called     with flailing clubs     rage 
and bleeding and frenzy and screaming     machines 
wailing     unbearable decibels     i fled lest 
vibrations of the brutal scene do further harm 
to my metabolism already over taxed 

The Counselors would never permit such barbarous 
confusion     they know what is best for our sereni 
ty     we are an ancient race and have outgrown 
illusions cherished here     item     their vaunted 
liberty     no body pushes me around i have heard 
them say     land of the free they sing     what do
they fear mistrust betray more than the freedom 
they boast of in their ignorant pride     have seen 
the squalid ghettoes in their violent cities 
paradox on paradox     how have the americans 
managed to survive 

parades fireworks displays video spectacles 
much grandiloquence much buying and selling 
they are celebrating their history     earth men 
in antique uniforms play at the carnage whereby 
the americans achieved identity     we too recall 
that struggle as enterprise of suffering and 
faith uniquely theirs     blonde miss teen age 
america waving from a red white and blue flower
float as the goddess of liberty     a divided 
people seeking reassurance from a past few under 
stand and many scorn     why should we sanction 
old hypocrisies     thus dissenters     The Counse 
lors would silence them 
a decadent people The Counselors believe     i 
do not find them decadent     a refutation not 
permitted me    but for all their knowledge 
power and inventiveness not yet more than raw 
crude neophytes like earthlings everywhere 

though i have easily passed for an american     in 
bankers grey afro and dashiki long hair and jeans
hard hat yarmulka mini skirt     describe in some 
detail for the amusement of The Counselors     and 
though my skill in mimicry is impeccable     as 
indeed The Counselors are aware     some thing 
eludes me     some constant amid the variables
defies analysis and imitation     will i be judged 

america     as much a problem in metaphysics as 
it is a nation earthly entity an iota in our 
galaxy     an organism that changes even as i 
examine it     fact and fantasy never twice the 
same     so many variables 

exert greater caution     twice have aroused 
suspicion     returned to the ship until rumors 
of humanoids from outer space     so their scoff 
ing media voices termed us     had been laughed 
away     my crew and i laughed too of course 

confess i am curiously drawn     unmentionable     to
the americans     doubt i could exist among them for 
long however     psychic demands far too severe 
much violence     much that repels     i am attracted 
none the less     their variousness their ingenuity 
their elan vital     and that some thing     essence 
quiddity     i cannot penetrate or name 

from Collected Poems of Robert Hayden. Copyright 1978, 1982. 

Where's Moulder When You Need Him?

flying saucer picture says I want to believe

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

POETRY: Read More, Blog More #7

After last month's mess up where I managed to put up the posts for both that month and this month as well as botch the links, I was left wondering what I could possibly do this month to top that technical sleight of hand.

Some questions should just not be asked.

Anyway, school is finally out for the summer and I've been recouping in my garden. It's amazing how frustrations and anxieties flake off into the dirt as compost and fertilize new life. It doesn't make anything easier really, but it sure does feel good.

Most mornings are spent working in the soil, weeding and watering, and then topped off with tea, breakfast, and a good book in the garden. All the while I'm surrounded by singing birds, dancing butterflies, buzzing bees, wonderful scents - and beauty.

I also mentioned last month that I've started writing daily Haiku. And as it just so happens, most of those little gems are about my garden.
Quelle Surprise!

I don't practice perfectly. Occasionally I miss a day or two and go back to fill in. And on other days I find myself writing several. But those days I miss just feel wrong; I can tell that there is something missing. 

Because I take a few minutes every day to write (often in the garden), I find myself paying closer attention to the things around me. I have cultivated a deeper connection with, not only my garden, but all of its varied inhabitants and visitors, and of course, myself. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm still dealing with all the same issues as I was before. The world itself hasn't changed - but I have. 

I'm no Basho; not even close. But the benefits of "living a haiku life" are palpable. I have even expanded my initial goals, but that's for another time.

Here are a couple of my efforts:

brightly painted sideways half buried flower pot for frog house

brightly colored pot 
now a home for garden frogs
broken no more

field of california poppies in front of ocean view

no cherry blossoms
just swaying fields of orange
California spring

Haiku copyright © J.F. Spillane.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Happy Birthday George . . . Give Us a Few Words . . .

Power is not a means, it is an end. 

One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. 

The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

Prior posts here, here, here, & here.

Sylvia Plath: Poet, and Then Some . . .

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Everyone needs to . . .

take time to smell the roses across a painting of a bouquet of flowers


The Pirate King - Laurie R. King - Review Part I    

Great premise: a book about a cast making a movie about the making of a move, that ends up living out the plot of the movie. Follow?

But I just want it to end. 

Ms King has taken up a different style of storytelling this time. And quite frankly, I am not enjoying it. 

These are mysteries, adventures; and so far I have endured 170 (out of 369) pages of Mary Russell's description of her situation, with little more than a few mentions that there might be a mystery in it somewhere.

I shall forge onward. So far in my life I have only ever put one book down without finishing it, and this will not be the second.

To be continued . . .

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

I’m not asking you to believe in God or to accept any kind of supreme being. 

I’m asking you to think about the faith that is associated with the hope that is not necessarily rooted in the empirical realities you see around you right at this moment, that says that we can still be part of something that is bigger than ourselves, and something that we cannot necessarily see at the moment, but simply requires us not to be afraid of each other. 

Because it’s our fear of each other that makes us exceptionally easy to divide.

- Melissa Harris-Perry:

Today Is the Birthday of a Man to Whom We Owe an Unfathomable Debt . . .

Alan M. Turing
(June 23, 1912 — June 7, 1954)

British mathematician and logician, who made major contributions to mathematics, cryptanalysis, logic, philosophy, and biology and to the new areas later named computer science, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and artificial life.

Alan Turing was a patriot, a hero, and a homosexual. 

Because of the latter, his achievements, which were instrumental in saving lives and revolutionizing the world in which we now live, were overlooked; he was prosecuted and convicted, chemically castrated, and died of cyanide poisoning. He was 41 years old.

I think it's accurate to say that this is a birthday without which the world would be a different and eminently poorer place. 

To understand why, please read on:

Book - The Essential Turing: Seminal Writings in Computing, Logic, Philosophy, Artificial Intelligence, and Artificial Life plus The Secrets of Enigma.
Google's Turing Doodle, solution.

Alan Turing
Turing memorial statue plaque in Sackville Park, Manchester
The Enigma machine

Speaking of Poets Laureate . . .


Patience is
wider than one
once envisioned,
with ribbons
of rivers
and distant 
ranges and 
tasks undertaken
and finished
with modest 
relish by
natives in their 
native dress.
Who would 
have guessed
it possible 
that waiting
is sustainable—
a place with 
its own harvests.
Or that in 
time's fullness
the diamonds 
of patience
couldn't be 
from the genuine 
in brilliance
or hardness.

from: Say Uncle. Copyright 2000. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

For Economic Justice . . .

As Catholic Sisters, we are missioned to stand with people in need and to be witnesses for economic justice.

Nuns on the Bus is a nine state tour to raise awareness of and speak out against the Ryan Budget.

As Catholic Sisters, we must speak out against the current House Republican budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). We do so because it harms people who are already suffering.

  • To find out just what kind of harm the Ryan Budget does to real people CLICK HERE.
  • To donate to the cause CLICK HERE.

Every hour of each day, Catholic Sisters stand in solidarity with all who live in poverty, and we confront injustice and systems that cause suffering.

We cannot stand by silently when the U.S. Congress considers further enriching the wealthiest Americans at the expense of struggling, impoverished families.

Spread the Word

Let others know about the tour by writing blogs, letters-to-the-editor, and op-eds for the media. Here are some resources that can help you with that:

Speaking of Poets Laureate . . .


I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls. Soon we shall
be summoned to the gate, soon enough
there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row numbers
and perforated stubs—but for now
I can look at these ragtag nuclear families
with their cooing and bickering
or the heeled bachelorette trying
to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s
exhausted mother waiting to be called up early
while the athlete, one monstrous hand
asleep on his duffel bag, listens,
perched like a seal trained for the plunge.
Even the lone executive
who has wandered this far into summer
with his lasered itinerary, briefcase
knocking his knees—even he
has worked for the pleasure of bearing
no more than a scrap of himself
into this hall. He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late,
they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning
—a little hope, a little whimsy
before the loudspeaker blurts
and we leap up to become
Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.

Painting by: Karen Watson.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Speaking of Poets Laureate . . .

brightly colored abstract painting
Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri  

The quake last night was nothing personal, 
you told me this morning. I think one always wonders, 
unless, of course, something is visible: tremors 
that take us, private and willy-nilly, are usual.

But the earth said last night that what I feel, 
you feel; what secretly moves you, moves me. 
One small, sensuous catastrophe 
makes inklings letters, spelled in a worldly tremble.

The earth, with others on it, turns in its course 
as we turn toward each other, less than ourselves, gross, 
mindless, more than we were. Pebbles, we swell 
to planets, nearing the universal roll, 
in our conceit even comprehending the sun, 
whose bright ordeal leaves cool men woebegone.

from: Selected Poems. Copyright 2002. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Reimagining Utility

Speaking of Poets Laureate . . .

The Lovers of the Poor

 arrive. The Ladies from the Ladies' Betterment 

Arrive in the afternoon, the late light slanting
In diluted gold bars across the boulevard brag
Of proud, seamed faces with mercy and murder hinting
Here, there, interrupting, all deep and debonair,
The pink paint on the innocence of fear;
Walk in a gingerly manner up the hall. 
Cutting with knives served by their softest care,
Served by their love, so barbarously fair.
Whose mothers taught: You'd better not be cruel!
You had better not throw stones upon the wrens!
Herein they kiss and coddle and assault
Anew and dearly in the innocence
With which they baffle nature. Who are full,
Sleek, tender-clad, fit, fiftyish, a-glow, all
Sweetly abortive, hinting at fat fruit,
Judge it high time that fiftyish fingers felt
Beneath the lovelier planes of enterprise.
To resurrect. To moisten with milky chill.
To be a random hitching post or plush.
To be, for wet eyes, random and handy hem. 

 Their guild is giving money to the poor.
The worthy poor. The very very worthy
And beautiful poor. Perhaps just not too swarthy?
Perhaps just not too dirty nor too dim
Nor--passionate. In truth, what they could wish
Is--something less than derelict or dull.
Not staunch enough to stab, though, gaze for gaze!
God shield them sharply from the beggar-bold!
The noxious needy ones whose battle's bald
Nonetheless for being voiceless, hits one down. 

 But it's all so bad! and entirely too much for them.
The stench; the urine, cabbage, and dead beans,
Dead porridges of assorted dusty grains,
The old smoke, heavy diapers, and, they're told,
Something called chitterlings. The darkness. Drawn
Darkness, or dirty light. The soil that stirs.
The soil that looks the soil of centuries.
And for that matter the general oldness. Old
Wood. Old marble. Old tile. Old old old.
Note homekind Oldness! Not Lake Forest, Glencoe.
Nothing is sturdy, nothing is majestic,
There is no quiet drama, no rubbed glaze, no
Unkillable infirmity of such
A tasteful turn as lately they have left,
Glencoe, Lake Forest, and to which their cars
Must presently restore them. When they're done
With dullards and distortions of this fistic
Patience of the poor and put-upon. 

 They've never seen such a make-do-ness as
Newspaper rugs before! In this, this "flat,"
Their hostess is gathering up the oozed, the rich
Rugs of the morning (tattered! the bespattered . . . ),
Readies to spread clean rugs for afternoon.
Here is a scene for you. The Ladies look,
In horror, behind a substantial citizeness
Whose trains clank out across her swollen heart.
Who, arms akimbo, almost fills a door.
All tumbling children, quilts dragged to the floor
And tortured thereover, potato peelings, soft-
Eyed kitten, hunched-up, haggard, to-be-hurt. 

 Their League is allotting largesse to the Lost.
But to put their clean, their pretty money, to put
Their money collected from delicate rose-fingers
Tipped with their hundred flawless rose-nails seems . . . 

 They own Spode, Lowestoft, candelabra,
Mantels, and hostess gowns, and sunburst clocks,
Turtle soup, Chippendale, red satin "hangings,"
Aubussons and Hattie Carnegie. They Winter
In Palm Beach; cross the Water in June; attend,
When suitable, the nice Art Institute;
Buy the right books in the best bindings; saunter
On Michigan, Easter mornings, in sun or wind.
Oh Squalor! This sick four-story hulk, this fibre
With fissures everywhere! Why, what are bringings
Of loathe-love largesse? What shall peril hungers
So old old, what shall flatter the desolate?
Tin can, blocked fire escape and chitterling
And swaggering seeking youth and the puzzled wreckage
Of the middle passage, and urine and stale shames
And, again, the porridges of the underslung
And children children children. Heavens! That
Was a rat, surely, off there, in the shadows? Long
And long-tailed? Gray? The Ladies from the Ladies'
Betterment League agree it will be better
To achieve the outer air that rights and steadies,
To hie to a house that does not holler, to ring
Bells elsetime, better presently to cater
To no more Possibilities, to get
Away. Perhaps the money can be posted.
Perhaps they two may choose another Slum!
Some serious sooty half-unhappy home!--
Where loathe-lover likelier may be invested. 
woman's crossed hands wearing old fashioned long white gloves

 Keeping their scented bodies in the center
Of the hall as they walk down the hysterical hall,
They allow their lovely skirts to graze no wall,
Are off at what they manage of a canter,
And, resuming all the clues of what they were,
Try to avoid inhaling the laden air.

from: Selected Poems. by Gwendolyn Brooks
Copyright 1999.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Speaking of Poets Laureate . . .

- Maxine kumin

going for grapes with
ladder and pail in
the first slashing rain
of September    rain
steeping the dust
in a joyous squelch   the sky
standing up like steam
from a kettle of grapes
at the boil    wild fox grapes
wickedly high    tangled in must
of cobweb and bug spit
going for grapes    year
after year    we two with
ladder and pail stained
with the rain of grapes
our private language


The Language of Bees - Laurie R. King      

This book is the first of two parts.

It started a bit slow but picked up speed. And it was thoroughly crammed with surprises and new information about the Holmses (all of them!)

You've probably noticed a slightly determined effort to make my way through this series and finally catch up with its author. I am not obsessive.

Well, not much anyway.

The God of the Hive - Laurie R. King      

This second part was as packed as the first one (The Language of Bees) and I enjoyed it just as much. 

King's choices occasionally make me uncomfortable, simply because I am an old school Sherlock Holmes fan. But not being a purist, I can step back and see how they play out. So far, so good.

One more to go and I will be current. And you know, I think that after 11 books, I'll be ready for a break. Nothing against Ms King. I think I just need to see other authors.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Speaking of Poets Laureate . . .

The Animals
By Josephine Jacobsen

At night, alone, the animals came and shone.
The darkness whirled but silent shone the animals:   
The lion the man the calf the eagle saying   
Sanctus which was and is and is to come.

The sleeper watched the people at the waterless wilderness’ edge;   
The wilderness was made of granite, of thorn, of death,   
It was the goat which lightened the people praying.
The goat went out with sin on its sunken head.

On the sleeper’s midnight and the smaller after hours   
From above below elsewhere there shone the animals   
Through the circular dark; the cock appeared in light   
Crying three times, for tears for tears for tears.

flying doveHigh in the frozen tree the sparrow sat. At three o’clock   
The luminous thunder of its fall fractured the earth.   
The somber serpent looped its coils to write
In scales the slow snake-music of the red ripe globe.

To the sleeper, alone, the animals came and shone,   
The darkness whirled but silent shone the animals.   
Just before dawn the dove flew out of the dark
Flying with green in her beak; the dove also had come.

A Well-Informed Citizenry, Being Necessary to the Liberty of a Free State . . .

Democracy depends on lowering the barriers to becoming informed.

Although blogs are a great resource for the wonky, policy-making elite, their real power lies in their ability to provide broad overviews of the issues at stake and quick links for citizen activists.

I'd like to hope that I personally made a difference in that Hillhouse classroom, but in the best-case scenario, my most powerful contribution to the students wasn't anything I said. Before the students filed out, they all wrote down the url for, a resource for young activists.

Making change happen requires two things, getting data and getting angry. 

 Also: Thomas Jefferson on Education.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oh, Happy Father's Day!

NYC Dads is a blog for active, involved fathers. 
You might find it interesting even if you're not in New York.

Speaking of Poets Laureate . . .

One Art
- Elizabeth Bishop

four different leaves on a green tinted rock

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like a disaster.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wherever You Are, Whatever You're Doing, Have a Wonderful Bloomsday!

On this date, 108 years ago, in Dublin, Ireland, nothing really happened.
 But, it is still the most important date in the fictional history of the English-speaking world.

poster illustration of James Joyce with a daisy on his left eye done in black outline with blue over all except white daisy

Illustration: Pat Owen, source.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Speaking of Poets Laureate . . .

Thought's End
- Léonie Adams

stars lit against a black skyI'd watched the hills drink the last colour of light,
All shapes grow bright and wane on the pale air,
Till down the traitorous east there came the night
And swept the circle of my seeing bare;
Its intimate beauty like a wanton's veil
Tore from the void as from an empty face.
I felt at being's rim all being fail,
And my one body pitted against space.
O heart more frightened than a wild bird's wings
Beating at green, now is no fiery mark
Left on the quiet nothingness of things.
Be self no more against the flooding dark;
There thousandwise, sown in that cloudy blot,
Stars that are worlds look out and see you not.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Speaking of Poets Laureate . . .

black and white photo of rain drops hanging from a bare branchTears in Sleep  
All night the cocks crew, under a moon like day,
And I, in the cage of sleep, on a stranger's breast,
Shed tears, like a task not to be put away---
In the false light, false grief in my happy bed,
A labor of tears, set against joy's undoing.
I would not wake at your word, I had tears to say.
I clung to the bars of the dream and they were said,
And pain's derisive hand had given me rest
From the night giving off flames, and the dark renewing.

FLAG DAY . . .

commemorates the adoption of the United States flag by the second Continental Congress in 1777; it also celebrates the birthday of the United States Army. 

(Happy Birthday, Army!)

If you want to reach out to our troops for this FLAG DAY 


The Game - Laurie R. King     

OK, now this was good. Mary Russell meets Rudyard Kipling's Kim . . . then . . .

A fictional character (Mary) contemplates the realization that another fictional character (Kim) is, in fact, real. But then realizes that yet another character (Holmes), though real, is thought to be fictional also.

I think we're sliding into Philip K. Dick territory, here. Fun.

Locked Rooms - Laurie R. King     

In Mary Russell's latest outing we meet - are you ready - Dashiell Hammett

I have always loved Hammett and own everything he wrote, which really isn't much. I despise the witch hunting of the McCarthy era. It robbed the world of so much talent, not just Hammett's . . . Sorry. Off topic, I know.

I had an issue with this book which alternated sections told from Russell's and Holmes' perspectives. This entailed retelling of substantial portions of the story and I've never cared much for the device. Other than that, I enjoyed the book

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Speaking of Poets Laureate . . .

To My Despoiler
- Joseph Auslander

rainbow over waves
Yes, you have taken everything from me:
Beauty and love and all the measureless
Impatience of proud April; even our sea
Shouting under the gulls; all loveliness
Of form and sound and colour; all that we
Had touched; the curve of things we used to press
Glowing against our senses; mystery
And movement. . . everything taken. . . taken. . . Yes,
Even the little brave irrelevancies
Like brooding water, dripping water-cress,
The cool dark noise of cropping; cruising bees
On hot gold expeditions--even these
You took from me--Oh spare me your caress,
Leave me at least my own stark loneliness!

Quote of the Day

So what I have to do, and what you have to do is remember, on a daily basis, that everyone else has a story, everyone else deserves dignity and respect, and that everyone else might just be going through tougher things than you are.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

from Our New Poet Laureate. A Round of Applause, Please.

Letter Home  

--New Orleans, November 1910

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

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

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

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

from Bellocq's Ophelia. Copyright 2002.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Abduction

   by Stanley Kunitz

Some things I do not profess 
to understand, perhaps
not wanting to, including
whatever it was they did
with you or you with them
that timeless summer day
when you stumbled out of the wood,
distracted, with your white blouse torn
and a bloodstain on your skirt.
"Do you believe?" you asked.
Between us, through the years,
we pieced enough together
to make the story real:
how you encountered on the path
a pack of sleek, grey hounds,
trailed by a dumbshow retinue
in leather shrouds; and how
you were led, through leafy ways,
into the presence of a royal stag,
flaming in his chestnut coat,
who kneeled on a swale of moss
before you; and how you were borne
aloft in triumph through the green,
stretched on his rack of budding horn,
till suddenly you found yourself alone
in a trampled clearing.

That was a long time ago,
almost another age, but even now, 
when I hold you in my arms, 
I wonder where you are.
Sometimes I wake to hear
the engines of the night thrumming
outside the east bay window
on the lawn spreading to the rose garden.impressionist painting, the abduction painted by Paul Cezanne, of a man carrying away a struggling woman
You lie beside me in elegant repose,
a hint of transport hovering on your lips,
indifferent to the harsh green flares
that swivel through the room,
searchlights controlled by unseen hands.
Out there is a childhood country,
bleached faces peering in
with coals for eyes.
Our lives are spinning out
from world to world;
the shapes of things
are shifting in the wind.
What do we know
beyond the rapture and the dread? 

from: The Collected Poems. Copyright 1985. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012


The downward turning touch
the cry of time
fire falling without sound
plunge my hand in the wound

children marching and dyingold woman looking out of window with lace curtains
all that I do is a crime
because I do not reach
their mouths silently crying

my boychild reaches with his mouth
it is easy, being a mother
his skin is tender and soft
kisses stitch us together

we love as long as we may
then come years without kisses
when he will turn away
not to waste breath

when I too will fall
embracing a pillow at night
touching the stone of exile
reaching my hand to death

from: The Mother/Child Papers. Copyright 2009. 


Justice Hall - Laurie R. King      

In this, the sixth offering from the Mary Russell series, King successfully joins two of the disparate worlds that Russell and Holmes have occupied, for another interesting case. 

I am still enjoying my time spent with the aging Sherlock Holmes and his young "partner," Mary Russell.

Off to the next installment . . .

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Spring and All

   by William Carlos Williams


By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast-a cold wind.  Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing watersepie toned picture of an abandoned brick hospital
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines-

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches-

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter.  All about them
the cold, familiar wind-

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf
One by one objects are defined-
It quickens:  clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance-Still, the profound change
has come upon them:  rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken

Copyright 1962 by William Carlos Williams. 

Friday, June 8, 2012


The Drawing of the Three - Stephen King      

You'd think that with a book this long I would have a lot to say. No. Not much.

I do find that reading it for the second time gave me more of a chance to appreciate the type of detail that has kept King at the top of the heap all these years.

I'm glad I took the challenge to read the entire series this year.

O Jerusalem - Laurie R. King     

So this one is a chronological back step. It continues an episode which was only eluded to earlier, so it begins before the time of the last few books. 

It took a chapter or two to get used to the change in time with its reversal of character development, but then I was fine.

The story itself did not seen to be as strong as the others, but I still enjoyed it.

On to the next one . . .