Friday, December 2, 2016

TGIF

The Philosophy of Waiting








Catch the moon in a jar.

Be befuzzled. 

The jay carries in its feather sky, a cloud, and
deepest space.
It is a tiger.

Children cartwheel in the street.

Old women shuffle behind their tiny dogs.

Top-heavy hydrangeas thirst for light, 
writhing Medusas among stones.
They cannot decide what color to be, 
so they alternate.

We can learn from them.

Can you recall the scent of herbs in winter?

Life is interstitial.

Don’t stub your toe.


---by Second Story Window's blog author

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November, 1967

by Joyce Sutphen


Dr. Zhivago was playing at the Paramount
Theater in St. Cloud. That afternoon,
we went into Russia,
and when we came out, the snow
was falling—the same snow
that fell in Moscow.
The sky had turned black velvet.
We’d been through the Revolution
and the frozen winters.
In the Chevy, we waited for the heater
to melt ice on the windshield,
clapping our hands to keep warm.
On the highway, these two things:
a song from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
and that semi-truck careening by.
Now I travel through the dark without you
and sometimes I turn up the radio, hopeful
the way you were, no matter what.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Country Roads

by Joyce Sutphen



It was one of those days
when the sun poured gold
into the air, and flecks of
light floated in shafts that
fell through the branches
of yellow leaf and green.
We’d had dinner at a place
on the edge of a lake, and
now we were going back
to town. There was a simple
way to get there, but she
didn’t take it. Instead, we
drove the country roads
with the corn rows flicking by,
each one visible for a half
second, then gone. “Hello,
hello, hello,” they said, then
“Good-bye, bye, bye, bye.”
The soybeans, we agreed,
had turned burgundy overnight,
but it was the cornfields we
watched, as if we were waiting
for the waters to open, as if
we might cross over Jordan.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday in CinCity

Fairbanks Under the Solstice

Slowly, without sun, the day sinks
toward the close of December.
It is minus sixty degrees.

Over the sleeping houses a dense
fog rises—smoke from banked fires,
and the snowy breath of an abyss
through which the cold town
is perceptibly falling.

As if Death were a voice made visible, 
with the power of illumination...

Now, in the white shadow
of those streets, ghostly newsboys
make their rounds, delivering 
to the homes of those
who have died of the frost
word of the resurrection of Silence.


Honey-Haired Girl has moved to Alaska. The Land of the Midnight Sun. The Last Frontier. Hubby was up there for about two weeks to get her settled. I was just up there for Thanksgiving. She's doing well; thank you for asking. I believe the lowest temperatures were hovering at -18, and the sun is up for about 5 hrs. And, by "up," I mean it drifts along the horizon. It's dark by 4 pm. The roads are essentially packed ice and I'm thankful for the tossed gravel. It's difficult to leave your child in such a harsh environment.

A co-worker reminded me that we must let our children live their lives. She had memorized this poem and recited it to me as she was setting up to place a central IV line into a patient.

May God bless the arrows. And, give this bow a good night's sleep. Tomorrow is soon enough to shop for cross country skis and warmer mittens.

(photos from Creamers Field Wildlife Migratory Sanctuary in Fairbanks, Alaska)


On Children
 Kahlil Gibran
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.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
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.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanks Giving

Thanks

by WS Merwin, 1927


Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow for the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions.
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
looking up from tables we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

Monday, November 14, 2016



Remnants still visible

          by  Marge Piercy




Robins migrate, all schoolchildren
learn but here on the Cape, every
winter a flock forms and stays,
long frigid months after their
compatriots have flown south.
They live deep in the woods on
hips and berries wizened by cold.
Sometimes they appear here
among the feeder birds, one
or two almost outcasts.
Off Alaska when humpback whales
leave in fall as the waters freeze
and the world turns white, heading
for mating grounds off Hawaii
and Mexico, certain whales remain.
What makes a creature stay when
almost all of its kind have moved on?
In burned-out areas of Detroit,
you’ll notice one house still wears
curtains, a bike locked to the porch.
Sometimes in the suburbs among
tract houses with carpets of grass
one farmhouse lurks, maybe even
with a barn. I imagine its owner
grey and stubborn, still growing
the best tomatoes for miles, refusing
to plant inedible grass, fighting
neighbors about her chickens,
a rooster who crows at four,
her clothesline a flag of defiance.
I believe in the days ahead poetry will be needed. Words from those who have walked these paths and know the landmarks and twisted turns that lie ahead. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Those Swingin' Sixties






I am a woman of a certain age and coming up on another changing of the decades soon. What concerns me most is maintaining my health, but what comes as a very close second is "What should I wear?" Just because a person can fit into certain clothes doesn't mean they should wear them. You know what I'm saying?

I don't want to look like I'm trying to be 20 years old again, but I don't want to look like a character from the Dinette Set. 

Some days it's hard.




I've been seeing ads for sites that send clothes for you to try on after filling out a questionnaire and giving information to a stylist and thought I would try it out. I went with Stitch Fix and got my first box last week. Expected to be disappointed, but all the pieces work with my wardrobe and what I need to wear for certain events.

Now, I'm not gonna lie, a couple of pieces I disliked when I saw them and had to try on a few times. There's not one clothing item I would have picked out for myself, which when you think about it is helpful since I'm looking for some changes.

From R to L, there's a wrap-style dress, a maxi skirt, a short summer dress, and a pair of cropped pants. There's a 5th piece, a black racer-back blouse pictured below, but already confiscated by my daughter. The. First. Night.

The wrap dress is a no-brainer. Fits well, love the colors, but wouldn't have thought it would look good on me. Purple and orange are not colors in my closet. "Orange may be the new black," but it's not a good color on me. That's what keeps me from my dream job as an international jewel thief and hanging with Pierce Brosnan. This dress though? Fabulous.




The maxi skirt is way outside anything I would wear, for one thing because I'm short and don't want to look stumpier. I immediately thought, "Nope." But, it's very comfortable and stretchy material, my hubby loves it, and it looks good with a short sleeveless jean shirt that I own. I've got 2 or 3 other tops that will work and I believe I can carry this over into the fall season. Wore it already to a friend singing Joni Mitchell's Blue album at a local Catholic church-turned-craft beer brewery.

I loved the print and the material on the summer dress and it looked great on the hanger, but thought a bit dumpy on me. Not enough of a waistline. I was going to use a belt and, again, the sleeveless jean shirt looked cute over it. Sweater and leggings in cooler temps...but, HoneyHaired will be taking this also and I think it will work well for her in San Fran.



These pants...HATED them. Didn't like the material. Not a cropped pants chick. Tried them on, felt weird, had a gap in the back. A definite send back. Tried them on again the next day, Hubby saw nothing wrong with them. No gapping. Went the extra step and tried them on with my own tops and shoes. These pants go with everything. Honestly. They dress up, they dress down. They're comfortable. Wore them in 90 degree heat and probably equal humidity to lunch with my mother&sister-in-law at a seafood restaurant. I ate and drank to my heart's content and these pants were still comfortable! Consider me a convert.

So, with all 5 items I'm looking at about $50/ item. Way pricier than what I usually pay. I get a lot of my stuff at Good-Will, second-hand stores or hand-me-downs from my girls, which is lovely though I've ended up with a lot of clothes that don't go with each other. And, they're all kind of similar. This Stitch Fix selection has been helpful to pull my things together and get more use out of clothes I already own.

I don't know if anyone else out there has this insecurity about dressing and what to wear as we're getting older, and wanting to still enjoy their clothes. There's lots else of much greater import to ruminate on after 60 trips around the sun. Some days though I simply think better if I like what I'm wearing.




Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday in CinCity

From Blossoms

by Li-Young Lee





From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward   
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into   
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.


There's a cool breeze coming in through the window. The cicadas are singing. I'm 5 minutes away from going for a morning walk to stretch out muscles from Saturday morning Zumba and sitting at the opera for 3 hours last evening. Turandot. Didn't know the plot, but everyone would recognize the gorgeous piece of music in the third act. Brings tears to your eyes music.

Neurodramaville has been busy. The motor vehicle collisions, the unhelmeted motorcyclists, the driving while texting and the damaged that are left in their wake, the falls, the tumors, the broken blood vessels. So many lives on a different trajectory than when they woke up that day.

Hubby and I are checking out flights to the Pacific coast for September. MissNewOrleans is doing travel nursing and has her first assignment in Washington state & Miss HoneyHaired will be in California for her next co-op. Trying to figure out if we can see them both in the short amount of time we have off work.

Until then, we'll read the Sunday papers, eat some bagels and listen to the cicadas. Appreciate this day and that we still have both feet on our path for right now.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Evening at a Country Inn

by Jane Kenyon





From here I see a single red cloud
impaled on the Town Hall weather vane.
Now the horses are back in their stalls,
and the dogs are nowhere in sight
that made them run and buck
in the brittle morning light.

You laughed only once all day--
when the cat ate cucumbers
in Chekhov's story...and now you smoke
and pace the long hallway downstairs.

The cook is roasting meat for the evening meal,
and the smell rises to all the rooms.
Red-faced skiers stamp past you
on their way in; their hunger is Homeric.

I know you are thinking of the accident--
of picking the slivered glass from his hair.
Just now a truck loaded with hay
stopped at the village store to get gas.
I wish you would look at the hay--
the beautiful sane and solid bales of hay.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Heavy Summer Rain

by Jane Kenyon



The grasses in the field have toppled,
and in places it seems that a large, now
absent, animal must have passed the night.
The hay will right itself if the day

turns dry. I miss you steadily, painfully.
None of your blustering entrances
or exits, doors swinging wildly
on their hinges, or your huge unconscious
sighs when you read something sad,
like Henry Adams's letters from Japan,
where he traveled after Clover died.

Everything blooming bows down in the rain:
white irises, red peonies; and the poppies
with their black and secret centers
lie shattered on the lawn. 


(Brutus, August 2001-July 2015)

Monday, April 20, 2015

In Praise of My Bed



By Meredith Holmes

At last I can be with you!
The grinding hours
since I left your side!
The labor of being fully human,
working my opposable thumb,
talking, and walking upright.
Now I have unclasped
unzipped, stepped out of.
Husked, soft, a be-er only,
I do nothing, but point
my bare feet into your
clean smoothness
feel your quiet strength
the whole length of my body.
I close my eyes, hear myself
moan, so grateful to be held this way.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday in CinCity






Holy
The sound
The song 
The rise 
Cacophony of robin, finch 
and dove song. 
The rusty hinge of spring 
Blackbird with redwing.
Long spiteful winter
has lost her bony grip 
The red maples stiff upper lip 
is a burgeoning Cherokee red.
Mother Nature rolls out of her bed 
Like me she is sleepy and tired 
but so ready to lift her spirits high 
above the wires where the doves 
will soon align 
The best view of the sunset 
in this part of Highland county. 
And so goes the song of spring. 
Call and response
And also with you and 
also with you.

~Karin Bergquist
April 5, 2015
Easter Morning 
Porch Swing Poems


Have a visit with some of my favorite musicians and poets...

please note: photo from Melpo on her sand-grain.blog site

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Saturday in CinCity

It's been a sad couple of weeks in CinCity. We've lost two of the city's finest--a firefighter trying to get residents out of a burning apartment building and a police officer T-boned on his motorcycle while leading a funeral procession. "Retired police officer" technically, but George spent a lot of years not being retired at serving and protecting the public and it was a job he loved. Daryl loved his job. His family said he chased after fire trucks as a kid; couldn't wait to be on one.

I know Daryl from our Mobile Care at BigFatTeaching Hospital. That's the transport team that brings critically ill patients from one hospital to another. George had been married to a friend and fellow nurse from "back in the day" until her death not even two years ago. Both of them great guys, funny, give you the shirt off their back-, never met a stranger- kind of men.

They left behind children, wives, friends, a lot of friends, broken hearts, and a city emptier without their two big hearts.




A Prayer among Friends

By John Daniels

Among other wonders of our lives, we are alive
with one another, we walk here
in the light of this unlikely world
that isn't ours for long.
May we spend generously
the time we are given.
May we enact our responsibilities
as thoroughly as we enjoy
our pleasures. May we see with clarity,
may we seek a vision
that serves all beings, may we honor
the mystery surpassing our sight,
and may we hold in our hands
the gift of good work
and bear it forth whole, as we
were borne forth by a power we praise
to this one Earth, this homeland of all we love.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ode on the Whole Duty of Parents




By Frances Cornford
The spirits of children are remote and wise,
They must go free
Like fishes in the sea
Or starlings in the skies,
Whilst you remain
The shore where casually they come again.
But when there falls the stalking shade of fear,
You must be suddenly near,
You, the unstable, must become a tree
In whose unending heights of flowering green
Hangs every fruit that grows, with silver bells;
Where heart-distracting magic birds are seen
And all the things a fairy-story tells;
Though still you should possess
Roots that go deep in ordinary earth,
And strong consoling bark
To love and to caress.
Last, when at dark
Safe on the pillow lies an up-gazing head
And drinking holy eyes
Are fixed on you,
When, from behind them, questions come to birth
Insistently,
On all the things that you have ever said
Of suns and snakes and parallelograms and flies,
And whether these are true,
Then for a while you'll need to be no more
That sheltering shore
Or legendary tree in safety spread,
No, then you must put on
The robes of Solomon,
Or simply be
Sir Isaac Newton sitting on the bed.


please note: art by Sue Wilson, "Tree Roots And Grasses"