Friday, May 31, 2013

Quote of the Day

[Angelina] Jolie’s medical decision says again what shouldn’t need re-saying: that a woman’s body is hers, that breasts are for something other than ogling, and that hard choices are made for strong reasons. Her decision to make her choice public is bold and brave and admirable. It is what celebrity is for.
- Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker.


from: The Meaning of Life: 
Reflections in Words and Pictures on Why We Are Here, by David Friend

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Corgi Zen . . .


I know. I know. It's been a while. 
I've had a few rough months, so I have been a bit remiss in my posting. 
I try to make sure there is a poem or something pretty to look at every day but
 there hasn't been much input of a more personal nature.
 I've still managed to read a bit though.

This one was exceptionally hard for me on an emotional level. Charlie the *shudders* Choo-Choo and Blaine the *shudder* Mono.

I. Just. Can't. *shudder*

Yes, I know. But *shudder* therapy is expensive.

How to Tail a Cat - Rebecca M. Hale

This quirky little series continues.

The book, (#4) however, doesn't seem to have actually ended. I appreciate the value of continuing plot lines in a series and all, but maybe just a little more closure would be all right. (honest) It reads a bit like her publishing deadline hit so she just turned it in.

Guilt - Jonathan Kellerman

I liked the way this one ended. Just a small 'twang,' but I can't say another thing without robbing you of the chance to experience it yourself.

Kinsey And Me - Sue Grafton

It's always a treat to step into the Wayback Machine (precursor to the Delorean) with Kinsey, but this time we accompanied Sue as well.

It was an interesting and enlightening trip.

Sneaky Pie for President - Rita Mae Brown

Elections come and elections go,
but the issues never die.



Wednesday, May 29, 2013


 What are scaiku?                           Why, science-themed haiku, of course. 

I ran across these at Scientific American.

This one time at lab
we dropped acid and then we
had to clean it up
                              - Public Communication for Researchers, @PCRcmu

“Eureka!” I shout,
Every now and again, just
to keep up morale
                                                                      - Public Communication for Researchers, @PCRcmu


- Yusef Komunyakaa

Forgive me, soldier.
Forgive my right hand   
for pointing you   
to the flawless
tree line now
outlined in my brain.   
There was so much   
bloodsky at daybreak
in Pleiku, but I won’t say
those infernal guns   
blinded me on that hill.

Mistakes piled up men like clouds   
pushed to the dark side.
Sometimes I try to retrace
them, running
fingers down the map
telling less than a woman’s body—
we followed the grid coordinates
in some battalion commander’s mind.   
If I could make my mouth
unsay those orders,
I’d holler: Don’t
move a muscle. Stay put,
keep your fucking head
down, soldier.

Ambush. Gutsmoke.
Last night while making love
I cried out, Hit the dirt!
I’ve tried to swallow my tongue.
You were a greenhorn, so fearless,   
even foolish, & when I said go,
Henry, you went dancing on a red string   
of bullets from that tree line
as it moved from a low cloud.

from: Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems. Copyright 2001.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Want Some Good Science Reading?


Joe, over at It's Okay To Be Smart, has a great reading list that covers the many disciplines and then some!


It Feels a Shame to Be Alive

- Emily Dickinson

It feels a Shame to be Alive -
When Men so brave - are dead -
One envies the Distinguished Dust -
Permitted - such a Head -

The Stone - that tells defending Whom
This Spartan put away
What little of Him we - possessed
In Pawn for Liberty -

The Price is great - Sublimely paid -
Do we deserve - a Thing -
That lives - like Dollars - must be piled
Before we may obtain?

Are we that wait - sufficient worth -
That such Enormous Pearl
As life - dissolved be - for Us -
In Battle's - horrid Bowl?

It may be - a Renown to live -
I think the Men who die -
Those unsustained - Saviors -
Present Divinity -

Monday, May 27, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so .   .  .  rough, hard, difficult.

Quote of the Day

One useless man is a disgrace.  
Two are called a law firm. 
And three or more become a Congress.
-- John Adams, in "1776"
(Thank you, George Takei)

Here's Wishing You All a Happy and Safe Memorial Day

The Bat

cute brown anime bat- Claudia Emerson

We didn't know what woke us—just something
           moving, lighter than our breathing. The world
                      bound by an icy ligature, our house

was to the bat a hollow, warmer cavity
           that now it could not leave. I screamed
                      for you to do something. So you killed it
with the broom; I heard you curse as you
           swept the air. I wanted you to do it until
                      you did. I have never forgiven you.

from: Late Wife.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself," - Josh Billings

"Please help me to be the person my dog thinks I am." - ?

We really don't deserve them.




At the Fishhouses

- Elizabeth Bishop

Although it is a cold evening,
down by one of the fishhouses
an old man sits netting,
his net, in the gloaming almost invisible,
a dark purple-brown,
and his shuttle worn and polished.
The air smells so strong of codfish
it makes one’s nose run and one’s eyes water.
The five fishhouses have steeply peaked roofs
and narrow, cleated gangplanks slant up
to storerooms in the gables
for the wheelbarrows to be pushed up and down on.
All is silver: the heavy surface of the sea,
swelling slowly as if considering spilling over,
is opaque, but the silver of the benches,
the lobster pots, and masts, scattered
among the wild jagged rocks,
is of an apparent translucence
like the small old buildings with an emerald moss
growing on their shoreward walls.
The big fish tubs are completely lined
with layers of beautiful herring scales
and the wheelbarrows are similarly plastered
with creamy iridescent coats of mail,
with small iridescent flies crawling on them.
Up on the little slope behind the houses,
set in the sparse bright sprinkle of grass,
is an ancient wooden capstan,
cracked, with two long bleached handles
and some melancholy stains, like dried blood,
where the ironwork has rusted.
The old man accepts a Lucky Strike.
He was a friend of my grandfather.
We talk of the decline in the population
and of codfish and herring
while he waits for a herring boat to come in.
There are sequins on his vest and on his thumb.
He has scraped the scales, the principal beauty,
from unnumbered fish with that black old knife,
the blade of which is almost worn away.

Down at the water’s edge, at the place
where they haul up the boats, up the long ramp
descending into the water, thin silver
tree trunks are laid horizontally
across the gray stones, down and down
at intervals of four or five feet.

Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
element bearable to no mortal,
to fish and to seals . . . One seal particularly
I have seen here evening after evening.
He was curious about me. He was interested in music;
like me a believer in total immersion,
so I used to sing him Baptist hymns.
I also sang “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
He stood up in the water and regarded me
steadily, moving his head a little.
Then he would disappear, then suddenly emerge
almost in the same spot, with a sort of shrug
as if it were against his better judgment.
Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
the clear gray icy water . . . Back, behind us,
the dignified tall firs begin.
Bluish, associating with their shadows,
a million Christmas trees stand
waiting for Christmas. The water seems suspended
above the rounded gray and blue-gray stones.
I have seen it over and over, the same sea, the same,
slightly, indifferently swinging above the stones,
icily free above the stones,
above the stones and then the world.
If you should dip your hand in,
your wrist would ache immediately,
your bones would begin to ache and your hand would burn
as if the water were a transmutation of fire
that feeds on stones and burns with a dark gray flame.
If you tasted it, it would first taste bitter,
then briny, then surely burn your tongue.
It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,
drawn from the cold hard mouth
of the world, derived from the rocky breasts
forever, flowing and drawn, and since
our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.

from: The Complete Poems, 1927-1979. Copyright 1983.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Quote of the Millennium

Them . . . 
there are only increasingly complex manifestations of Us.


That is our country's motto, or at least it was from 1782 until an act of congress in 1956 adopted "In God We Trust."

Found on the Seal of the United States, it is Latin and translates to "Out of many, one;" meaning that this country - The United States of America - is made up of many differing ancestries, races, religions, philosophies,  .  .  .  The supposition then is that we must all work together to build, support, and nurture the country.

What the hell has happened to us?

Our congress has a large faction which chooses, and has for six years now, to block the real work of governing, refusing to support. even. their own. ideas. This has caused, and will continue to cause for some time to come, real harm tho the majority of the people in this country. The harm plays out in many different ways, but few are unscathed. (with the exception of those at the very top of the economic ladder)

What has forced me to finally speak out is the disaster in Oklahoma. Not the disaster itself, but the fact that OK's senators have consistently voted against disaster aid to other states. This isn't new or rare. Sandy disaster relief was held up for months as the rest of the esteemed OK senators' party tried to block it. The GOP party line seems to be: 'aid for me but not for thee.'

What the f@*#k is wrong with people today? Homeless, hungry: not my problem. Old, disabled: not my problem. Need health care, education: not my problem.

Wasn't it Alexis de Tocqueville who said that we get the government we deserve?

We complain that government isn't working for us then vote in paranoid, lunatics who don't know history and who think that: bike paths are going to lead to the overthrow of the country; it's better to let your daughter get cancer than vaccinate her; and avoiding pregnancy causes abortion. There are many, many more examples but if you haven't heard them you're just not paying attention.

I'm frustrated and angry at the gridlock in congress and the cruel lack of empathy and common sense in so many of my fellow citizens.

We used to function on superstition and fear. We used to be a society where everyone carried a gun and scores were settled bullets and rope. But then we changed, evolved. We grew as a society, put in place laws and law keepers, and we called it civilization. Now we're headed backwards it seems, toward a new dark ages.

I can rant and rave, but it won't fund our schools or pay for health care or change the job market. It won't feed the hungry or house the homeless . . . I was glad to have my taxes provide a safety net for the most vulnerable among us, but it seems as though they're destined to line the pockets of the richest and strengthen their ability to twist the laws in their favor. My ranting won't ensure that all citizens have the same rights and opportunities. Unfortunately, my ranting will do nothing but give vent to my frustration.

Dr. King said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice

I truly hope he was right. Otherwise we have abdicated the very things that made us great and allowed us once to become an inspiration to the world: education, ingenuity, determination, compassion, social consciousness, entrepreneurial spirit, . . . and we are destined to become an afterthought, a footnote in history . . .

Also . . . I hope that arc isn't too long.

Rant over. 

I don't recommend it, but if you have a strong stomach and want to wallow in the crazy, just click here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or . . .

There is, unfortunately, no actual end in sight.

All Hallows

- Louise Glück

Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
sleep in their blue yoke,
the fields having been
picked clean, the sheaves
bound evenly and piled at the roadside
among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:

This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended, as in payment,
and the seeds
distinct, gold, calling
Come here

Come here, little one

from: The First Four Books of Poems. Copyright 1979.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Quote of the Day

I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to rulers and to the subjects.
Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber barron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely more because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations.
And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt.
A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme — whose highest claim is to reasonable prudence — the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication.
 Irish writer, lay theologian, and Christian apologist.

Mine is Suffering from Clinical Depression!

tripping woman says the floor looked sad so I thought it needed a hug


- Ellen Bryant Voigt

In the still morning when you move   
toward me in sleep for love,   
I dream of

an island where long-stemmed cranes,   
serious weather vanes,   
turn slowly on one

foot. There the dragonfly folds   
his mica wings and rides   
the tall reed

close as a handle. The hippo yawns,   
nods to thick pythons,
slack and drowsy, who droop down

like untied sashes
from the trees. The brash   
hyenas do not cackle

and run but lie with their paws   
on their heads like dogs.   
The lazy crow’s caw

falls like a sigh. In the field   
below, the fat moles build   
their dull passage with an old

instinct that needs
no light or waking; its slow beat   
turns the hand in sleep

as we turn toward each other   
in the ripe air of summer,   
before the change of weather,

before the heavy drop   
of the apples.

from Claiming Kin. Copyright 1976.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Quote of the Day

Servants, laborers, and workmen of different kinds, make up the far greater part of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconvenience to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.  ...

The liberal reward of labor, as it encourages the propagation, so it increases the industry of the common people. The wages of labor are the encouragement of industry, which, like every other human quality, improves in proportion to the encouragement it receives. A plentiful subsistence increases the bodily strength of the laborer, and the comfortable hope of bettering his condition, and of ending his days perhaps in ease and plenty, animates him to exert that strength to the utmost. Where wages are high, accordingly, we shall always find the workmen more active, diligent, and expeditious than where they are low.

 - Adam Smith (economist & moral philosopher),

Cottonmouth Country

- Louise Gluck

Fish bones walked the waves off Hatteras
And there were other signs
That Death wooed us, by water, wooed us
By land: among the pines
An uncurled cottonmouth that rolled on moss
Reared in the polluted air.
Birth, not death, is the hard loss.
I know. I also left a skin there.

from: The First Four Books of Poems, Copyright 1995.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Quote of the Day

No one expects you to take a vow of poverty. But I will say it betrays a poverty of ambition if all you think about is what goods you can buy instead of what good you can do.
 – Barack Obama
in commencement address at Morehouse College.

Awwww . . .

The Bat

- Ellen Bryant Voigt

Reading in bed, full of sentiment
for the mild evening and the children   
asleep in adjacent rooms, hearing them   
cry out now and then the brief reports   
of sufficient imagination, and listening   
at the same time compassionately   
to the scrabble of claws, the fast treble   
in the chimney—
                      then it was out,
not a trapped bird
beating at the seams of the ceiling,
but a bat lifting toward us, falling away.

Dominion over every living thing,

large brain, a choice of weapons—

Shuddering, in the lit hall
we swung repeatedly against
its rising secular face
until it fell; then
shoveled it into the yard for the cat   
who shuttles easily between two worlds.

from: The Forces of Plenty, Copyright 1983

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If You'd Like to Reach Out & Help With the Relief Efforts in Oklahoma . . .

curved line of lit tea lights in the dark

I hadn't heard of this before, but it is a wonderful idea. After a disaster, you can let your family and friends know that you are safe and well, bringing them peace of mind. 
Register Yourself as “Safe and Well”     
Search for Loved Ones
Concerned family and friends can search the list of those who have registered themselves and find a loved one’s first name, last name and a brief message.  

RED CROSS (central & western Oklahoma region)


AID and SHELTER Information

Here are a couple of posts with some relevant information and links on giving:


- Claudia Emerson

open book with center pages bent to form a heart in the middleThis is the season of her dying, and you
have kept it, I find, underneath the stairs
in a box filled with photographs—her daybook
of that last year, the calendar a narrative
she did not intend to write. In the grid
of days, I see her habit had been to record
in pencil what might be erased, moved, saving
the indelible black for what could not change:

your birthday, hers, your anniversary. And in
that same decisive hand, the disease began
to eclipse this order, but she erased nothing.
Now from beneath the days the hospital claimed,
her first, latent words emerge, faint but certain
as images of ribs cradling milky lungs, the flesh forgotten
as water you can see through to the bottom.

from: Late Wife, Copyright 2005.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so .   .  .  rough, hard, difficult.

(I'm just a sucker for those ... dimples.) 

The Sea is History

- Derek Walcott

Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?
Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,
in that grey vault. The sea. The sea
has locked them up. The sea is History.

First, there was the heaving oil,
heavy as chaos;
then, like a light at the end of a tunnel,

the lantern of a caravel,
and that was Genesis.
Then there were the packed cries,
the shit, the moaning:

Bone soldered by coral to bone,
mantled by the benediction of the shark's shadow,

that was the Ark of the Covenant.
Then came from the plucked wires
of sunlight on the sea floor

the plangent harps of the Babylonian bondage,
as the white cowries clustered like manacles
on the drowned women,

and those were the ivory bracelets
of the Song of Solomon,
but the ocean kept turning blank pages

looking for History.
Then came the men with eyes heavy as anchors
who sank without tombs,

brigands who barbecued cattle,
leaving their charred ribs like palm leaves on the shore,
then the foaming, rabid maw

of the tidal wave swallowing Port Royal,
and that was Jonah,
but where is your Renaissance?

Sir, it is locked in them sea-sands
out there past the reef's moiling shelf,
where the men-o'-war floated down;

strop on these goggles, I'll guide you there myself.
It's all subtle and submarine,
through colonnades of coral,

past the gothic windows of sea-fans
to where the crusty grouper, onyx-eyed,
blinks, weighted by its jewels, like a bald queen;

and these groined caves with barnacles
pitted like stone
are our cathedrals,

and the furnace before the hurricanes:
Gomorrah. Bones ground by windmills
into marl and cornmeal,

and that was Lamentations—
that was just Lamentations,
it was not History;

then came, like scum on the river's drying lip,
the brown reeds of villages
mantling and congealing into towns,

and at evening, the midges' choirs,
and above them, the spires
lancing the side of God

as His son set, and that was the New Testament.

Then came the white sisters clapping
to the waves' progress,
and that was Emancipation—

jubilation, O jubilation—
vanishing swiftly
as the sea's lace dries in the sun,

but that was not History,
that was only faith,
and then each rock broke into its own nation;

then came the synod of flies,
then came the secretarial heron,
then came the bullfrog bellowing for a vote,

fireflies with bright ideas
and bats like jetting ambassadors
and the mantis, like khaki police,

and the furred caterpillars of judges
examining each case closely,
and then in the dark ears of ferns

and in the salt chuckle of rocks
with their sea pools, there was the sound
like a rumour without any echo

of History, really beginning.

from: Selected Poems. Copyright 2007.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

First Death In Nova Scotia

- Elizabeth Bishop

In the cold, cold parlor
my mother laid out Arthur
beneath the chromographs:
Edward, Prince of Wales,
with Princess Alexandra,
and King George with Queen Mary.
Below them on the table
stood a stuffed loon
shot and stuffed by Uncle
Arthur, Arthur's father.

Since Uncle Arthur fired
a bullet into him,
he hadn't said a word.
He kept his own counsel
on his white, frozen lake,
the marble-topped table.
His breast was deep and white,
cold and caressable;
his eyes were red glass,
much to be desired.

"Come," said my mother,
"Come and say good-bye
to your little cousin Arthur."
I was lifted up and given
one lily of the valley
to put in Arthur's hand.
Arthur's coffin was
a little frosted cake,
and the red-eyed loon eyed it
from his white, frozen lake.

Arthur was very small.
He was all white, like a doll
that hadn't been painted yet.
Jack Frost had started to paint him
the way he always painted
the Maple Leaf (Forever).
He had just begun on his hair,
a few red strokes, and then
Jack Frost had dropped the brush
and left him white, forever.

The gracious royal couples
were warm in red and ermine;
their feet were well wrapped up
in the ladies' ermine trains.
They invited Arthur to be
the smallest page at court.
But how could Arthur go,
clutching his tiny lily,
with his eyes shut up so tight
and the roads deep in snow?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Good Advice . . .

demand evidence and think critically

Rules for Critical Thinking . . . from Folks Who Should Know!

Thank you Brain Pickings.

Prospero’s Precepts - these eleven rules culled from some of history’s greatest minds can serve as a general-purpose guideline for critical thinking in all matters of doubt:
1. All beliefs in whatever realm are theories at some level. (Stephen Schneider) 
2. Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong. (Dandemis) 
3. Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. (Francis Bacon) 
4. Never fall in love with your hypothesis. (Peter Medawar) 
5. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts. (Arthur Conan Doyle) 
6. A theory should not attempt to explain all the facts, because some of the facts are wrong. (Francis Crick) 
7. The thing that doesn’t fit is the thing that is most interesting. (Richard Feynman) 
8. To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact. (Charles Darwin) 
9. It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. (Mark Twain) 
10. Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong. (Thomas Jefferson) 
11. All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second, it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident. (Arthur Schopenhauer)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Happy Birthday to My First Born

drawing of grumpy cat Tarder Sauce with a cupcake and party hat

The Muse

- Anna Akhmatova        translated by Lyn Coffin

When at night I await the beloved guest,
Life seems to hang by a thread.  ”What is youth?” I demand
Of the room.  ”What is honor, freedom, the rest,
In the Presence of her who holds the flute in her hand?”
But now she is here.  Tossing aside her veil,
She considers me.  ”Are you the one who came
To Dante, who dictated the pages of Hell
To him?” I ask her.  She replies, “I am.”

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Ballad Maker

- Padraic Colum

Once I loved a maiden fair,
Over the hills and jar away,
Lands she had and lovers to spare,
Over the hills and far away.
And I was stooped and troubled sore,
And my face was pale, and the coat I wore
Was thin as my supper the night before
Over the hills and far away.

Once I passed in the Autumn late,
Over the hills and jar away,
Her bawn and barn and painted gate,
Over the hills and jar away.
She was leaning there in the twilight space,
Sweet sorrow was on her fair young face,
And her wistful eyes were away from the place,
Over the hills and jar away.

Maybe she thought as she watched me come,
Over the hills and jar away,
With my awkward stride and my face so glum,
Over the hills and jar away.
Spite of his stoop, he still is young,
They say he goes the Shee among,
Ballads he makes; I've heard them sung
Over the hills and jar away.

She gave me good-night in gentle wise,
Over the hills and jar away,
Shyly lifting to mine, dark eyes,
Over the hills and jar away.
What could I do but stop and speak,
And she no longer proud, but meek?
full blownwhite rose on black backgroundShe plucked me a rose like her wild-rose cheek-
Over the hills and jar away.

To-morrow Mavourneen a sleeveen weds,
Over the hills and jar away,
With corn in haggard and cattle in sheds,
Over the hills and jar away.
And I who have lost her, the dear, the rare-
Well, I got me this ballad to sing at the fair,
Twill bring enough money to drown my care,
Over the hills and jar away.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lunar Eclipse

- Mei Yao-ch'en
lunar eclipse at three quarters full

   translated from the Chinese by David Hinton

A maid comes running into the house
talking about things beyond belief,

about the sky all turned to blue glass,
the moon to a crystal of black quartz.

It rose a full ten parts round tonight,
but now it's just a bare sliver of light.

My wife hurries off to fry roundcakes,
and my son starts banging on mirrors:

it's awfully shallow thinking, I know,
but that urge to restore is beautiful.

The night deepens. The moon emerges,
then goes on shepherding stars west.

from: Mountain Home: The Wilderness

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

- Gerard Manley Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

from: Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose. Copyright 1985.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so .   .  .  rough, hard, difficult.

Advertisement For The Waldorf-Astoria

- Langston Hughes

Fine living . . . a la carte?
Come to the Waldorf-Astoria!

Look! See what Vanity Fair says about the
new Waldorf-Astoria:

"All the luxuries of private home. . . ."
Now, won't that be charming when the last flop-house
has turned you down this winter?
"It is far beyond anything hitherto attempted in the hotel
world. . . ." It cost twenty-eight million dollars. The fa-
mous Oscar Tschirky is in charge of banqueting.
Alexandre Gastaud is chef. It will be a distinguished
background for society.
So when you've no place else to go, homeless and hungry
ones, choose the Waldorf as a background for your rags--
(Or do you still consider the subway after midnight good

Take a room at the new Waldorf, you down-and-outers--
sleepers in charity's flop-houses where God pulls a
long face, and you have to pray to get a bed.
They serve swell board at the Waldorf-Astoria. Look at the menu, will


Have luncheon there this afternoon, all you jobless.
Why not?
Dine with some of the men and women who got rich off of
your labor, who clip coupons with clean white fingers
because your hands dug coal, drilled stone, sewed gar-
ments, poured steel to let other people draw dividends
and live easy.
(Or haven't you had enough yet of the soup-lines and the bit-
ter bread of charity?)
Walk through Peacock Alley tonight before dinner, and get
warm, anyway. You've got nothing else to do.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Some Exquisite Pictures Courtesy of the GDT Nature Photographer of the Year Competition for 2013

                                                                   SLIDESHOW(click here)

Young lion 
Carsten Ott 

For the Courtesan Ch'ing Lin

- Wu Tsao

On your slender body
Your jade and coral girdle ornaments chime
Like those of a celestial companion
Come from the Green Jade City of Heaven.
One smile from you when we meet,
And I become speechless and forget every word.
For too long you have gathered flowers,
And leaned against the bamboos,
Your green sleeves growing cold,
In your deserted valley:
I can visualize you all alone,
A girl harboring her cryptic thoughts.

You glow like a perfumed lamp
In the gathering shadows.
We play wine games
And recite each other's poems.
Then you sing, "Remembering South of the River"
With its heartbreaking verses. Then
We paint each other's beautiful eyebrows.
I want to possess you completely–
Your jade body
And your promised heart.
It is Spring.
Vast mists cover the Five Lakes.
My dear, let me buy a red painted boat
And carry you away.

translation: Kenneth Rexroth & Ling Chung
Illustration source.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Second Coming

peregrine falcon looking down on the city from a high rooftop
- William Butler Yeats

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Photo source.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Beautiful Promise of Fruit To Come

fruit trees with pink blossoms


- H. D.

I saw the first pear
as it fell—
the honey-seeking, golden-banded,
the yellow swarm
was not more fleet than I,
(spare us from loveliness)
and I fell prostrate
you have flayed us
with your blossoms,
spare us the beauty
of fruit-trees.

The honey-seeking
paused not,
the air thundered their song,
and I alone was prostrate.

O rough-hewn
god of the orchard,
I bring you an offering—
do you, alone unbeautiful,
son of the god,
spare us from loveliness:

these fallen hazel-nuts,
stripped late of their green sheaths,
grapes, red-purple,
their berries
dripping with wine,
pomegranates already broken,
and shrunken figs
and quinces untouched,
I bring you as offering.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Everyone's a Critic!


- Edna St. Vincent Millay

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I'd started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.

Over these things I could not see;
These were the things that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
And all at once things seemed so small
My breath came short, and scarce at all.

But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head;
So here upon my back I'll lie
And look my fill into the sky.
And so I looked, and, after all,
The sky was not so very tall.
The sky, I said, must somewhere stop,
And -- sure enough! -- I see the top!
The sky, I thought, is not so grand;
I 'most could touch it with my hand!
And reaching up my hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.

I screamed, and -- lo! -- Infinity
Came down and settled over me;
Forced back my scream into my chest,
Bent back my arm upon my breast,
And, pressing of the Undefined
The definition on my mind,
Held up before my eyes a glass
Through which my shrinking sight did pass
Until it seemed I must behold
Immensity made manifold;
Whispered to me a word whose sound
Deafened the air for worlds around,
And brought unmuffled to my ears
The gossiping of friendly spheres,
The creaking of the tented sky,
The ticking of Eternity.

I saw and heard, and knew at last
The How and Why of all things, past,
And present, and forevermore.
The Universe, cleft to the core,
Lay open to my probing sense
That, sick'ning, I would fain pluck thence
But could not, -- nay! But needs must suck
At the great wound, and could not pluck
My lips away till I had drawn
All venom out. -- Ah, fearful pawn!
For my omniscience paid I toll
In infinite remorse of soul.

All sin was of my sinning, all
Atoning mine, and mine the gall
Of all regret. Mine was the weight
Of every brooded wrong, the hate
That stood behind each envious thrust,
Mine every greed, mine every lust.

And all the while for every grief,
Each suffering, I craved relief
With individual desire, --
Craved all in vain! And felt fierce fire
About a thousand people crawl;
Perished with each, -- then mourned for all!

A man was starving in Capri;
He moved his eyes and looked at me;
I felt his gaze, I heard his moan,
And knew his hunger as my own.
I saw at sea a great fog bank
Between two ships that struck and sank;
A thousand screams the heavens smote;
And every scream tore through my throat.

No hurt I did not feel, no death
That was not mine; mine each last breath
That, crying, met an answering cry
From the compassion that was I.
All suffering mine, and mine its rod;
Mine, pity like the pity of God.

Ah, awful weight! Infinity
Pressed down upon the finite Me!
My anguished spirit, like a bird,
Beating against my lips I heard;
Yet lay the weight so close about
There was no room for it without.
And so beneath the weight lay I
And suffered death, but could not die.

Long had I lain thus, craving death,
When quietly the earth beneath
Gave way, and inch by inch, so great
At last had grown the crushing weight,
Into the earth I sank till I
Full six feet under ground did lie,
And sank no more, -- there is no weight
Can follow here, however great.
From off my breast I felt it roll,
And as it went my tortured soul
Burst forth and fled in such a gust
That all about me swirled the dust.

Deep in the earth I rested now;
Cool is its hand upon the brow
And soft its breast beneath the head
Of one who is so gladly dead.
And all at once, and over all
The pitying rain began to fall;
I lay and heard each pattering hoof
Upon my lowly, thatched roof,
And seemed to love the sound far more
Than ever I had done before.
For rain it hath a friendly sound
To one who's six feet underground;
And scarce the friendly voice or face:
A grave is such a quiet place.

The rain, I said, is kind to come
And speak to me in my new home.
I would I were alive again
To kiss the fingers of the rain,
To drink into my eyes the shine
Of every slanting silver line,
To catch the freshened, fragrant breeze
From drenched and dripping apple-trees.
For soon the shower will be done,
And then the broad face of the sun
Will laugh above the rain-soaked earth
Until the world with answering mirth
Shakes joyously, and each round drop
Rolls, twinkling, from its grass-blade top.

How can I bear it; buried here,
While overhead the sky grows clear
And blue again after the storm?
O, multi-colored, multiform,
Beloved beauty over me,
That I shall never, never see
Again! Spring-silver, autumn-gold,
That I shall never more behold!
Sleeping your myriad magics through,
Close-sepulchred away from you!
O God, I cried, give me new birth,
And put me back upon the earth!
Upset each cloud's gigantic gourd
And let the heavy rain, down-poured
In one big torrent, set me free,
Washing my grave away from me!

I ceased; and through the breathless hush
That answered me, the far-off rush
Of herald wings came whispering
Like music down the vibrant string
Of my ascending prayer, and -- crash!
Before the wild wind's whistling lash
The startled storm-clouds reared on high
And plunged in terror down the sky,
And the big rain in one black wave
Fell from the sky and struck my grave.

I know not how such things can be;
I only know there came to me
A fragrance such as never clings
To aught save happy living things;
A sound as of some joyous elf
Singing sweet songs to please himself,
And, through and over everything,
A sense of glad awakening.
The grass, a-tiptoe at my ear,
Whispering to me I could hear;
I felt the rain's cool finger-tips
Brushed tenderly across my lips,
Laid gently on my sealed sight,
And all at once the heavy night
Fell from my eyes and I could see, --
A drenched and dripping apple-tree,
A last long line of silver rain,
A sky grown clear and blue again.
And as I looked a quickening gust
Of wind blew up to me and thrust
Into my face a miracle
Of orchard-breath, and with the smell, --
I know not how such things can be! --
I breathed my soul back into me.

Ah! Up then from the ground sprang I
And hailed the earth with such a cry
As is not heard save from a man
Who has been dead, and lives again.
About the trees my arms I wound;

Like one gone mad I hugged the ground;
I raised my quivering arms on high;
I laughed and laughed into the sky,
Till at my throat a strangling sob
Caught fiercely, and a great heart-throb
Sent instant tears into my eyes;
O God, I cried, no dark disguise
Can e'er hereafter hide from me
Thy radiant identity!

Thou canst not move across the grass
But my quick eyes will see Thee pass,
Nor speak, however silently,
But my hushed voice will answer Thee.
I know the path that tells Thy way
Through the cool eve of every day;
God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart!

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, --
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat -- the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.

from: Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Copyright 1956.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

High waving heather 'neath stormy blasts bending

- Emily Jane Brontë

field of heatherHigh waving heather 'neath stormy blasts bending,
Midnight and moonlight and bright shining stars,
Darkness and glory rejoicingly blending,
Earth rising to heaven and heaven descending,
Man's spirit away from its drear dungeon sending,
Bursting the fetters and breaking the bars.

All down the mountain sides wild forests lending
One mighty voice to the life-giving wind,
Rivers their banks in their jubilee rending,
Fast through the valleys a reckless course wending,
Wider and deeper their waters extending,
Leaving a desolate desert behind.

Shining and lowering and swelling and dying,
Changing forever from midnight to noon;
Roaring like thunder, like soft music sighing,
Shadows on shadows advancing and flying,
Lighning-bright flashes the deep gloom defying,
Coming as swiftly and fading as soon.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

There Was a Man of Double Deed

There was a man of double deed,
Who sowed his garden full of seed;
When the seed began to grow,
close up of a dirt covered clenched hand dropping a seed'Twas like a garden full of snow;
When the snow began to melt,
'Twas like a ship without a belt;
When the ship began to sail,
'Twas like a bird without a tail;
When the bird began to fly,
'Twas like an eagle in the sky;
When the sky began to roar,
'Twas like a lion at my door;
When my door began to crack,
'Twas like a stick across my back;
When my back began to smart,
'Twas like a penknife in my heart;
And when my heart began to bleed,
'Twas death, and death, and death indeed.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Kilt Monday!

'Cause, let's face it,
Mondays can be so .  .  .  hard, rough, difficult.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

The Changeling

- Charlotte Mary Mew

Toll no bell for me, dear Father dear Mother,
Waste no sighs;
There are my sisters, there is my little brother
Who plays in the place called Paradise,
Your children all, your children for ever;
But I, so wild,
Your disgrace, with the queer brown face, was never,
Never, I know, but half your child!

In the garden at play, all day, last summer,
Far and away I heard
The sweet "tweet-tweet" of a strange new-comer,
The dearest, clearest call of a bird.
It lived down there in the deep green hollow,
My own old home, and the fairies say
The word of a bird is a thing to follow,
So I was away a night and a day.

One evening, too, by the nursery fire,
We snuggled close and sat roudn so still,
When suddenly as the wind blew higher,
Something scratched on the window-sill,
A pinched brown face peered in--I shivered;
No one listened or seemed to see;
The arms of it waved and the wings of it quivered,
Whoo--I knew it had come for me!
Some are as bad as bad can be!
All night long they danced in the rain,
Round and round in a dripping chain,
Threw their caps at the window-pane,
Tried to make me scream and shout
And fling the bedclothes all about:
I meant to stay in bed that night,
And if only you had left a light
They would never have got me out!

Sometimes I wouldn't speak, you see,
Or answer when you spoke to me,
Because in the long, still dusks of Spring
You can hear the whole world whispering;
The shy green grasses making love,
The feathers grow on the dear grey dove,
The tiny heart of the redstart beat,
The patter of the squirrel's feet,
The pebbles pushing in the silver streams,
The rushes talking in their dreams,
The swish-swish of the bat's black wings,
The wild-wood bluebell's sweet ting-tings,
Humming and hammering at your ear,
Everything there is to hear
In the heart of hidden things.
But not in the midst of the nursery riot,
That's why I wanted to be quiet,
Couldn't do my sums, or sing,
Or settle down to anything.
And when, for that, I was sent upstairs
I did kneel down to say my prayers;
But the King who sits on your high church steeple
Has nothing to do with us fairy people!

'Times I pleased you, dear Father, dear Mother,
Learned all my lessons and liked to play,
And dearly I loved the little pale brother
Whom some other bird must have called away.
Why did they bring me here to make me
Not quite bad and not quite good,
Why, unless They're wicked, do They want, in spite,
to take me
Back to Their wet, wild wood?
Now, every nithing I shall see the windows shining,
The gold lamp's glow, and the fire's red gleam,
While the best of us are twining twigs and the rest of us
are whining
In the hollow by the stream.
Black and chill are Their nights on the wold;
And They live so long and They feel no pain:
I shall grow up, but never grow old,
I shall always, always be very cold,
I shall never come back again!