Friday, August 31, 2012

Water Music

  by Robert Creeley

simple painting of brightly colored paper boats on blue water
The words are a beautiful music.
The words bounce like in water.

Water music,
loud in the clearing

off the boats,
birds, leaves.

They look for a place
to sit and eat—

no meaning,
no point.

from: The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1945-1975. Copyright 1983. 
Photo Source.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Just Added Bay Laurel to My Herb Garden

bay laurel leaves against a gray rock

How to Uproot a Tree

  by Jennifer K. Sweeney

Stupidity helps.
Naiveté that your hands will undo
what does perfectly without you.
My husband and I made the decision
not to stop until the task was done,
the small anemic tree made room
for something prettier.
We’d pulled before, pale hand over wide hand,
a marriage of pulling toward us what we wanted,
pushing away what we did not.
We had a shovel which was mostly for show.
It was mostly our fingers tunneling the dirt
toward a tangle of false beginnings.
The roots were branched and bearded,
some had spurs
and one of them was wholly reptilian.
They had been where we had not
and held a knit gravity
that was not in their will to let go.
We bent the trunk to the ground and sat on it,
twisted from all angles.
How like ropes it was,
the sickly thing asserting its will
only now at the end,
blind but beyond
the idea of leaving the earth.

from: How to Live on Bread and Music. Copyright 2009.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Quote of the Day

sad smiley face

[I]t dishonors God to honor Him by dishonoring one of His children.

Daily Life

  by Susan Wood

bright blue and red parrot in flight
A parrot of irritation sits
on my shoulder, pecks
at my head, ruffling his feathers
in my ear. He repeats
everything I say, like a child
trying to irritate the parent.
Too much to do today: the dracena
that's outgrown its pot, a mountain
of bills to pay and nothing in the house
to eat. Too many clothes need washing
and the dog needs his shots.
It just goes on and on, I say
to myself, no one around, and catch
myself saying it, a ball hit so straight
to your glove you'd have to be
blind not to catch it. And of course
I hope it does go on and on
forever, the little pain,
the little pleasure, the sun
a blood orange in the sky, the sky
parrot blue and the day
unfolding like a bird slowly
spreading its wings, though I know,
saying it, that it won't.

from: The Book of Ten. Copyright 2011. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Quote of the Day

Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people. Before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children.

- Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ.

Please . . .

black and white photo of sphinx cat says take me to your leader

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kilt Monday!

Because let's face it, Mondays are hard rough difficult.

Quote of the Day

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. (a) Recognizing that gender-based violence undermines not only the safety, dignity, and human rights of the millions of individuals who experience it, but also the public health, economic stability, and security of nations, it is the policy and practice of the executive branch of the United States Government to have a multi-year strategy that will more effectively prevent and respond to gender-based violence globally.


  by Andrew Hudgins

Storms of perfume lift from honeysuckle,
lilac, clover—and drift across the threshold,
outside reclaiming inside as its home.
Warm days whirl in a bright unnumberable blur,
a cup—a grail brimmed with delirium
and humbling boredom both.  I was a boy,
I thought I'd always be a boy, pell—mell,
mean, and gaily murderous one moment
as I decapitated daises with a stick,
then overcome with summer's opium,
numb—slumberous.  I thought I'd always be a boy,
each day its own millennium, each
one thousand years of daylight ending in
the night watch, summer's pervigilium,
which I could never keep because by sunset
I was an old man.  I was Methuselah,
the oldest man in the holy book.  I drowsed.
I nodded, slept—and without my watching, the world,
whose permanence I doubted, returned again,
bluebell and blue jay, speedwell and cardinal
still there when the light swept back,
and so was I, which I had also doubted.
I understood with horror then with joy,
dubious and luminous joy: it simply spins.
It doesn't need my feet to make it turn.
It doesn't even need my eyes to watch it,
and I, though a latecomer to its surface, I'd
be leaving early.  It was my duty to stay awake
and sing if I could keep my mind on singing,
not extinction, as blurred green summer, lifted
to its apex, succumbed to gravity and fell
to autumn, Ilium, and ashes.  In joy
we are our own uncomprehending mourners,
and more than joy I longed for understanding
and more than understanding I longed for joy.

from: Ecstatic in the Poison. Copyright 2003. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quote of the Day


If you want to meet God, serve the poor people.


About the Illustration: The Khanda symbolizes God’s Universal and Creative Power. In it’s center is a double edged sword, which symbolizes the primal and almighty power of the creator. The Chakkar is a circle representing God without beginning or end and reminding Sikhs to remain within the rule of God. Two crossed kirpans or swords on the outside are symbols of the spiritual and political balance in the universe.  This represents the belief in one God.


My "reviews" are merely my impressions of the books I've read, and could never be construed as comprehensive analyses in any way.  If that is the sort of thing you need, there are many wonderful Book Blogs out there covering just about every type of book.

That being said . . .

I came across this book while putting together last month's What Does a Poet Laureate Do? post on Rita Dove. I ordered it immediately and it was definitely a good move on my part. (Eating regularly is overrated, I say.)

The 'Smooth' of the book's title is an apt description of the poetry it contains. It is a celebration of music and dance in poetry, and it pulls together many disparate pieces of cultural heritage to create the underlying melody.

I enjoyed the entire book, which I must admit, is rare for me. Some of the pieces stopped me cold and touched me deeply. Others made me smile.

How about a few samples:

A different perspective on a very familiar story.

I have been a stranger in a strange land

Life's spell is so exquisite, everything conspires to break it.
- Emily Dickinson

It wasn't bliss. What was bliss   
but the ordinary life? She'd spend hours   
in patter, moving through whole days   
touching, sniffing, tasting . . . exquisite   
housekeeping in a charmed world.   
And yet there was always   

more of the same, all that happiness,   
the aimless Being There.   
So she wandered for a while, bush to arbor,   
lingered to look through a pond's restive mirror.   
He was off cataloging the universe, probably,   
pretending he could organize   
what was clearly someone else's chaos.   

That's when she found the tree,   
the dark, crabbed branches   
bearing up such speechless bounty,   
she knew without being told   
this was forbidden. It wasn't   
a question of ownership—   
who could lay claim to   
such maddening perfection?   

And there was no voice in her head,   
no whispered intelligence lurking   
in the leaves—just an ache that grew   
until she knew she'd already lost everything   
except desire, the red heft of it   
warming her outstretched palm.

Perhaps real happiness and contentment are in the ordinary, everyday, and introspective, 
rather than the grand and public as society would have us believe.

Cozy Apologia

- For Fred

I could pick anything and think of you—   
This lamp, the wind-still rain, the glossy blue   
My pen exudes, drying matte, upon the page.   
I could choose any hero, any cause or age   
And, sure as shooting arrows to the heart,   
Astride a dappled mare, legs braced as far apart   
As standing in silver stirrups will allow—   
There you'll be, with furrowed brow   
And chain mail glinting, to set me free:   
One eye smiling, the other firm upon the enemy.   

This post-postmodern age is all business: compact disks   
And faxes, a do-it-now-and-take-no-risks   
Event. Today a hurricane is nudging up the coast,   
Oddly male: Big Bad Floyd, who brings a host   
Of daydreams: awkward reminiscences   
Of teenage crushes on worthless boys   
Whose only talent was to kiss you senseless.   
They all had sissy names—Marcel, Percy, Dewey;   
Were thin as licorice and as chewy,   
Sweet with a dark and hollow center. Floyd's   

Cussing up a storm. You're bunkered in your   
Aerie, I'm perched in mine   
(Twin desks, computers, hardwood floors):   
We're content, but fall short of the Divine.   
Still, it's embarrassing, this happiness—   
Who's satisfied simply with what's good for us,   
When has the ordinary ever been news?   
And yet, because nothing else will do   
To keep me from melancholy (call it blues),   
I fill this stolen time with you.

Of course, when the ride is over it's time to go home.

Looking Up From the page, I Am Reminded of This Mortal Coil    

Mercurial ribbon licking the cut lip of the Blue Ridge—
                    or end, I can't tell
as long as I ignore the body's marching orders, as long as            
                                I am alive in air ...     

What good is the brain without traveling shoes?   
We put our thoughts out there on the cosmos express
       and they hurtle on, tired and frightened,       
bundled up in their worrisome
                                shawls and gloves--I'm just

guessing here, but I suspect we don't
       travel easily at all, though we keep
       making better wheels—         
smaller phones and wider webs,
                   ye olde significant glance
                                across the half-empty goblet
                                of Chardonnay....    

The blaze freshens,
        five or six miniature birds
        strike up the band.
Daybreak, of course; no more strobe and pink gels
       from the heavenly paint shop: just
house lights, play's over, time to gather your things and go home.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Quote of the Day

[I]f you hurt someone, then you are responsible for having hurt them regardless of whether you meant to or not.

It's a Croc Eat Croc World

a crocodile eating a croc shoe

Friday, August 24, 2012

Quote of the Day

stack of books tied with a golden bow

I didn’t believe in lonely nights. I was a reader. If I wanted company, all I had to do was pick up a book — or my car keys.

Hmmm . . . Nah . . . It Couldn't Really Happen . . . Could It?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What Is an Epigram?

  by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

What is an Epigram? A dwarfish whole,
Its body brevity, and wit its soul.

Quote of the Day

Religious freedom stops where human or animal suffering begins.

hand holding a paw

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

- Maya Angelou

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

trompe l'oeil eagle painted on splayed handsThe caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Hand Art, Guido Daniele.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Kilt Monday!

Because let's face it, Mondays are hard rough difficult.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Now This Is History . . .

Possibly as an act of vengeance, Anders Henriksson, assistant Professor of history at Shepherd College, compiles, verbatim, several decades' worth of freshman papers and offers some of his students’ more striking insights into European history from the Middle Ages to the present.

top half of clock with roman numerals

Life Reeked With Joy

History, as we know, is always bias, because human beings have to be studied by other human beings, not by independent observers of another species.

During the Middle Ages, everybody was middle aged. Church and state were co-operatic. Middle Evil society was made up of monks, lords, and surfs. It is unfortunate that we do not have a medivel European laid out on a table before us, ready for dissection. After a revival of infantile commerce slowly creeped into Europe, merchants appeared. Some were sitters and some were drifters. They roamed from town to town exposing themselves and organized big fairies in the countryside. Mideval people were violent. Murder during this period was nothing. Everybody killed someone. England fought numerously for land in France and ended up wining and losing. The Crusades were a series of military expaditions made by Christians seeking to free the holy land (the “Home Town” of Christ) from the Islams.

In the 1400 hundreds most Englishmen were perpendicular. A class of yeowls arose. Finally, Europe caught the Black Death. The bubonic plague is a social disease in the sense that it can be transmitted by intercourse and other etceteras. It was spread from port to port by inffected rats. Victims of the Black Death grew boobs on their necks. The plague also helped the emergance of the English language as the national language of England, France and Italy.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Quote of the Day

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. 

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

drawing of scales of justice, torn in half

I Ran Across Two Poems That Compliment Each Other Perfectly . . .

You may or may not already be aware of the letter written by a father to his gay son, cutting him completely out of his life because of his orientation. It went viral a bit ago.

As a parent, I find the ability to do this mystifying, and sad. Are those children being rejected and reviled not the same children once held close as precious gifts?

These two poems, found at PFLAG Poetry for Newsletters #1, reflect my feelings on the subject.

San Diego Pride Parade - July 18, 1992
author unknown

There were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them
and only a handful of us.
The screamed and they shrieked and they cheered as we passed
yelling, "Thank you. It's great that you care!"
Loudest of all and clearest of all
were the screams that emerged from the eyes
of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them
who watched as we marched down the street.
I carried a sign that stated most clear
my love for my son who is gay.
She stared at my sign
piercing my heart
with her pain.
I left the parade and moved to her side.
I held her in both of my arms.
Her sobs were intense and I tightened my grip
as she whispered her secret to me.
"My mom has disowned me since she found out.
She says I'm not right in the head.
She says that I'm weird
that I'm one to be feared
that I've caused her to suffer such pain.
Do you think that you could
Do you think that you might
Just be my mom for today?"
There were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them
looking for parents they'd lost.
There were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them.
But only a handful of us.
On Children
from The Prophet, the writings of Kahlil Gibran

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
Speak to us of Children.

And he said:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you...
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with his might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.


The Daughters of Cain - Colin Dexter   

Inspector Morse needs to take better care of himself. I guess after ten books I'm getting a bit protective.

The smoking and drinking might be taking a toll on his health, but he is as good a detective as he ever was. Only two novels left to read.

Oh, my birthday present from my husband arrived today. Bet you can't guess what it is. The complete Inspector Morse Collection (33 episodes) on DVD.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Brother And Sister

- Lewis Carroll

pot of Irish stew
"Sister, sister, go to bed!
Go and rest your weary head."
Thus the prudent brother said.

"Do you want a battered hide,
Or scratches to your face applied?"
Thus his sister calm replied.

"Sister, do not raise my wrath.
I'd make you into mutton broth
As easily as kill a moth"

The sister raised her beaming eye
And looked on him indignantly
And sternly answered, "Only try!"

Off to the cook he quickly ran.
"Dear Cook, please lend a frying-pan
To me as quickly as you can."

And wherefore should I lend it you?"
"The reason, Cook, is plain to view.
I wish to make an Irish stew."

"What meat is in that stew to go?"
"My sister'll be the contents!"
"You'll lend the pan to me, Cook?"

Never stew your sister.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Poetry, Good For What Ails you . . .

I ran across an intriguing article the other day, called Poetry Changed the World, by Elaine Scarry. In the article, Scarry connects the development of civilization to the ability of literature to take us out of ourselves to "see something bigger, a different perspective," tracing the development of poetry and concurrent societal evolution, and speaking of poetry's "invitation to empathy, its reliance on deliberative thought, and its beauty."

I then found the article, A poem a day by William Sieghart, about a talk he gave promoting a new anthology, Winning Words, Inspiring Poems for Everyday Life. Actually, it was about what he did after the talk to illustrate his point. The short article is quite interesting. Here are a few excerpts:

... I’ve been battling with the challenge of making poetry appear more relevant to people in their everyday lives. Battling because there is no doubt that most people find poetry intimidating. ... 

Where have I heard that before?

... Following the talk I sat in the book tent with a couch beside me, offering to listen to people’s problems for ten minutes at a time and then prescribe them with the appropriate poem or poems for them to take away and inwardly digest or commit to memory as an alternative to a cocktail of pills or any other form of therapy currently in vogue.

... Nearly forty people had availed themselves of my poetry pharmacy. About a quarter of them had burst into tears with a complete stranger either in recounting their troubles or when I managed to prescribe appropriately and they found a poetic complicity for their troubles and at last felt understood.

white mortar and pestle with green herbs

... Suffice it to say it saddened me how, in a world of so much communication, supposedly made even easier by developments in technology, people seem as lonely and unsupported as ever.  But and it’s a big but, the right poem at the right time could provide immeasurable sustenance. The emails I have had since prove it.

... Poetry in the right time and place can be a far better mantra for that tricky business of living than many more expensive or fashionable alternatives. I urge you to spread the word and look out for my future poetry surgeries. The Doctor is in.
So see . . .
as we embrace poetry, allow it to enrich our own lives, and share our insights with others, we are also bringing badly needed medicine to an ailing world.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First Time He Kissed Me

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

small butterfly resting on a woman's right pointer finger
First time he kissed me, he but only kissed
The finger of this hand wherewith I write;
And ever since, it grew more clean and white,
Slow to world-greetings, quick with its "Oh, list,"
When the angels speak. A ring of amethyst
I could not wear here, plainer to my sight,
Than that first kiss. The second passed in height
The first, and sought the forehead, and half missed,
Half falling on the hair. O beyond meed!
That was the chrism of love, which love's own crown,
With sanctifying sweetness, did precede.
The third upon my lips was folded down
In perfect, purple state; since when, indeed,
I have been proud and said, "My love, my own."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Who Says He Doesn't Have a Sence of Humor . . .

If I Should Learn, In Some Quite Casual Way

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

If I should learn, in some quite casual way,
   That you were gone, not to return again—
Read from the back-page of a paper, say,
   Held by a neighbor in a subway train,
How at the corner of this avenue      
   And such a street (so are the papers filled)
A hurrying man—who happened to be you—
   At noon to-day had happened to be killed,
I should not cry aloud—I could not cry
   Aloud, or wring my hands in such a place—      
I should but watch the station lights rush by
   With a more careful interest on my face,
Or raise my eyes and read with greater care
Where to store furs and how to treat the hair.

Photo: Yuval Ben Ami.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kilt Monday!

Because let's face it, Mondays are hard rough difficult.

I Think There Was Some Discussion on Writing in Books . . .

Here is an quick article I ran across: Marginalia and the Yin-Yang of Reading and Writing: The bibliophile’s property rights, or why the osmosis of agreement and disagreement belongs in a book’s margins, by Maria Popova. Appropriate, eh?

eading a book should be a conversation between you and the author. Presumably he knows more about the subject than you do; if not, you probably should not be bothering with his book. But understanding is a two-way operation; the learner has to question himself and question the teacher, once he understands what the teacher is saying. Marking a book is literally an expression of your differences or your agreements with the author. It is the highest respect you can pay him.

Now here's a poem. What do you know, same topic! It's almost like it was planned that way.

- Billy Collins

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O’Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
“Nonsense.” “Please!” “HA!!” -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
who wrote “Don’t be a ninny”
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls “Metaphor” next to a stanza of Eliot’s.
Another notes the presence of “Irony”
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.
Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
hands cupped around their mouths.
“Absolutely,” they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
“Yes.” “Bull’s-eye.” “My man!”
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written “Man vs. Nature”
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.
We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird singing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page–
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.
And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake’s furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents’ living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page
a few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil–
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet–
“Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.”


The Jewel That Was Ours - Colin Dexter    

Once again our intrepid Inspector Morse, with the help of Sergeant Lewis of course, solves the puzzle. 

Things do not necessarily end with everything tucked in nicely and neatly in Dexter's novels. And I like that.

Well, on to number ten.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Quote of the Day II

I mean, this is a fundamental principle of our faith, 
is to allow people of all kinds, no matter who they are, into god’s home.

Quote of the Day

man yelling in front of chalk board with text bubble saying your poem here

write poetry, for God's sake,
it's the only thing that matters.

- e. e. cummings

Just Because . . .

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

As I Grew Older

- Langston Hughes

It was a long time ago.
I have almost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun—
My dream.
And then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky—
The wall.
I am black.
I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Above me.
Only the thick wall.
Only the shadow.
My hands!
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun,
Into a thousand whirling dreams
Of sun! 


The Mind's Eye - Oliver Sacks  

"Language, that most human invention, can enable what, in principle, should not be possible. It can allow all of us, even the congenitally blind, to see with another person's eyes."

Once again, Dr. Sacks brings warmth and humor to his exploration of the mysterious workings of the brain.

I need to remind myself, I could not possibly have all these disorders!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quote of the Day

Poetry is, at bottom, a criticism of life.

- Matthew Arnold

Let Us Hope So . . .

"We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What Does a Poet Laureate Do? Ted Kooser.

 A two term Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2006.

Ted Kooser

“Considering the ways in which so many of us waste our time, what would be wrong with a world in which everybody were writing poems? 

"After all, there’s a significant service to humanity in spending time doing no harm. While you’re writing your poem, there’s one less scoundrel in the world. 

"And I’d like a world, wouldn’t you, in which people actually took time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m certain, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets. 

"By writing poetry, even those poems that fail and fail miserably, we honor and affirm life. We say ‘We loved the earth but could not stay.”

As far as I'm concerned,
 that is the quote of the century!

In 2005 Mr Kooser launched American Life in Poetry, providing newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems, to help expand the reach of poetry.

And a little bit of poetry . . .

Flying at Night

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like

from: Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985. Copyright 1980.


Ted Kooser:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Kilt Monday!

Because let's face it, Mondays are hard rough difficult.

A Man's Requirements

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Love me Sweet, with all thou art,
Feeling, thinking, seeing;
Love me in the lightest part,
Love me in full being.


Love me with thine open youth
In its frank surrender;
With the vowing of thy mouth,
With its silence tender.


Love me with thine azure eyes,
Made for earnest grantings;
Taking colour from the skies,
Can Heaven's truth be wanting?


Love me with their lids, that fall
Snow-like at first meeting;
Love me with thine heart, that all
Neighbours then see beating.


Love me with thine hand stretched out
Freely — open-minded:
Love me with thy loitering foot, —
Hearing one behind it.


Love me with thy voice, that turns
Sudden faint above me;
Love me with thy blush that burns
When I murmur 'Love me!'


Love me with thy thinking soul,
Break it to love-sighing;
Love me with thy thoughts that roll
On through living — dying.


Love me in thy gorgeous airs,
When the world has crowned thee;
Love me, kneeling at thy prayers,
With the angels round thee.


Love me pure, as muses do,
Up the woodlands shady:
Love me gaily, fast and true,
As a winsome lady.


Through all hopes that keep us brave,
Farther off or nigher,
Love me for the house and grave,
And for something higher.


Thus, if thou wilt prove me, Dear,
Woman's love no fable,
I will love thee — half a year —
As a man is able.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

Quote of the Day

singing yellow bird on bare branch on gray day

I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars not to dance.

– e e cummings

Math? Those Numbery Things, right?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Quote of the Day

Never attribute to malice
 that which is adequately explained by stupidity.


by: Christina Rossetti

ingraving of a stand of fir trees
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

from: Goblin Market and other Poems

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Quote of the Day

Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.

- Gore Vidal, RIP. 

The Poetry Project - August

The prompt for this month was a "poem by a Pulitzer Prize Winner." Now, it didn't exactly specify that the Pulitzer had to be in the area of poetry. (No, I am not a lawyer.)

So I'm squeezing through that loophole for this post.

One of my hobbies is to seek out poetry by folks who are not really poets. It can be surprising, entertaining, cringe inducing, or all those things at once. This poetry often reveals unfathomed depths and facets of its writer. . . .

In 1953 Ernest Hemingway won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Old Man and the Sea. (See . . . a Pulitzer Prize!) But he also wrote poetry throughout most of his life. It was often published in publications like the New York Times and journals at home and abroad. He also published two collections: Three Stories and Ten Poems, and 88 Poems

Alright, I guess that does make him a poet. But seriously, how often in your life have you heard, "The poet Ernest Hemingway . . . "? Seriously.

I'll admit that I'm not really a Hemingway fan. He wrote some powerful stories, but on the whole I find that the testosterone dripping from the book pages leaves nasty stains on my clothes that are hard to get out. When I discovered that he wrote poetry, however, I jumped at the chance to read it. Would I discover a new Hemingway to which I could more readily relate?

Hold that thought.

The book I chose was:

Was I surprised? Well . . . Yes. But not in the way I had hoped.

Many of the poems contained in the book I wouldn't post on my blog. It's not that I'm a prude mind you. I just don't enjoy crudeness for its own sake.

Fortunately, the book has more to offer. There are also many poems about the costs of war - it was that time (1920s). One example:

Champs d’Honneur

Soldiers never do die well;
         Crosses mark the places—
Wooden crosses where they fell,
         Stuck above their faces.
Soldiers pitch and cough and twitch—
         All the world roars red and black;
Soldiers smother in a ditch,
         Choking through the whole attack.

This small volume has some very powerful pieces and is full of pain, anger, and disillusionment. But a sense of humor manages to manifest itself from within the pain and anger. Hemingway also directed a few words toward critics that were, let's say, less than positive. The book gave a strong emotional sense of the driven, larger than life man whose spectacular life was ended by his own hand. 

Although this book will never rank with Lucille Clifton, Billy Collins, or any of the others who grace my shelves, I am glad that I read it. A lobster bib helped catch the drips and minimized the staining. Most importantly, it has in a way I never expected, left me with a bit more empathy for Mr. Hemingway.

I'll leave you with my favorite poem in the entire book. I burst out laughing when I turned the page and I'm sure my husband thought I'd lost it. He says he'd never lock me away, but you never know . . .

[Blank Verse]

 “                         “
       !             :                  ,                 .
              ,            ,            ,                 .
      ,              ;                              !