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"

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Diner

By Louis Jenkins





The time has come to say goodbye, our plates empty except
for our greasy napkins. Comrades, you on my left, balding,
middle-aged guy with a ponytail, and you, Lefty, there on my
right, though we barely spoke I feel our kinship. You were
steadfast in passing the ketchup, the salt and pepper, no man
could ask for better companions. Lunch is over, the cheese-
burger and fries, the Denver sandwich, the counter nearly
empty. Now we must go our separate ways. Not a fond embrace,
but perhaps a hearty handshake. No? Well then, farewell. It is
unlikely I'll pass this way again. Unlikely we will all meet again
on this earth, to sit together beneath the neon and fluorescent
calmly sipping our coffee, like the sages sipping their tea
underneath the willow, sitting quietly, saying nothing. 

My daughter texted yesterday to tell me she and her fiance have lost a dear friend; a member of the small family of loved ones they have collected in New Orleans. And, like many deaths of those in their twenties, unnecessary. As one gets older and sees the winnowing of our tribes, you grow to learn that all the deaths seem unnecessary whether it's age twenty-five, fifty-five, or eighty-five. Why now? Why not one more day? One more conversation.

 One more chance.

please note: photograph by Nadia Lukic

Monday, March 23, 2015

"It was one of those March days...






...when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


please note: photo from the Common Gettys Collection

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday in CinCity







the hookers, the madmen and the doomed

By Charles Bukowski
today at the track
2 or 3 days after
the death of the
jock
came this voice
over the speaker
asking us all to stand
and observe
a few moments
of silence. well,
that's a tired
formula and
I don't like it
but I do like
silence. so we
all stood: the
hookers and the
madmen and the
doomed. I was
set to be dis-
pleased but then
I looked up at the
TV screen
and there
standing silently
in the paddock
waiting to mount
up
stood the other jocks
along with
the officials and
the trainers:
quiet and thinking
of death and the
one gone,
they stood
in a semi-circle
the brave little
men in boots and
silks,
the legions of death
appeared and
vanished, the sun
blinked once
I thought of love
with its head ripped
off
still trying to
sing and
then the announcer
said, thank you
and we all went on about
our business.



The Cincinnati Ballet had their spring performance this weekend, Mozart's Requiem. It's a gorgeous and moving experience, especially with the full chorale from Xavier University, and very Spring-like in its transition from darkness to light. Beautifully done.


If you care to see a minute or two...


please note: photo of the Cincinnati Ballet by the Cincy Ballet


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Three Mornings

By Jane Hirshfield




In Istanbul, my ears
three mornings heard the early call to prayer.
At fuller light, heard birds then,
water birds and tree birds, birds of migration.
Like three knowledges,
I heard them: incomprehension,
sweetened distance, longing.
When the body dies, where will they go,
those migrant birds and prayer calls,
as heat from sheets when taken from a dryer?
With voices of the ones I loved,
great loves and small loves, train wheels,
crickets, clock-ticks, thunder-where will they,
when in fragrant, tumbled heat they also leave?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Father and Daughter



By Amanda Strand





The wedding ring I took off myself,
his wife wasn’t up to it.
I brought the nurse into the room
in case he jumped or anything.
“Can we turn his head?
He looks so uncomfortable.”
She looked straight at me,
patiently waiting for it to sink in.

The snow fell.
His truck in the barn,
his boots by the door,
flagpoles empty.
It took a long time for the taxi to come.
“Where to?” he said.
“My father just died,” I said.
As if it were a destination.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday in CinCity

Every year when we watch the Oscar ceremonies we see the nominations for the short films and documentaries and say out loud, "WTH??  Who gets to see these films?" And then, the next day or even by the end of the program we've forgotten the whole matter.




This year after a particularly cabin-fever inducing snow fall we booted our way up to the village to check out civilization and noticed a flyer on Sitwell's Coffee Shop window with a date and a theater location to watch the Oscar Shorts. Serendipity!! The Cincinnati World Cinema has been doing it for the last 14 years and we're nothing but clueless morons to have missed it all these years. I think you can also buy it on Amazon for instant viewing on your device. But again, techno idjits are we with the attention span of a moth.

So short films work well with our distracted brains. The longest film was 39 minutes I believe. The shortest, 3 minutes, give or take a minute or so. Seven films the first day, or the first half of one day depending on how you arranged your tickets for the two day viewing. We split the days up so we could mull over the films of one day before taking in the next batch...no chance to slide through the cracks of memory before we can make it home.

The films are a mixture with live action and animation, funny and somber. All are fascinating.


Our first afternoon started with The Dam Keeper and it's been hard to keep it from being my favorite with the story and the artwork. 



But, there's The Single Life and The Phone Call and Powder Keg...All of them jewels. To keep it all things CinCity, the winner of this year's Oscar was Feast directed by a hometown artsy genius, Patrick Osborne.


And, like all two days with 14 movies should end...they all lived happily ever after.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Memory Revived by Citizen of the Month







From Our House to Your House

By Jack Ridl





It is 1959. It is the cusp of the coming revolution.
We still like Ike. We are still afraid of Sputnik.
We read Life magazine and Sports Illustrated
where the athletes grow up shooting hoops
in the driveway, playing catch in the backyard.
We sit on our sectional sofa. My mother loves
Danish modern. Our pants have cuffs. Our hair
is short. We are smiling and we mean it. I am
a guard. My father is my coach. I am sitting
next to him on the bench. I am ready to go in.
My sister will cheer. My mother will make
the pre-game meal from The Joy of Cooking.
Buster is a good dog. We are all at an angle.
We are a family at an angle. Our clothes are
pressed. We look into the eye of the camera.
“Look ‘em in the eye,” my father teaches us.
All we see ahead are wins, good grades,
Christmas. We believe in being happy. We
believe in mowing the lawn, a two-car garage,
a freezer, and what the teacher says. There is
nothing on the wall. We are facing away
from the wall. The jungle is far from home.
Hoses are for cleaning the car, watering
the gardens. My sister walks to school. My
father and I lean into the camera. My mother
and sister sit up straight. Ike has kept us
safe. In the spring, we will have a new car,
a Plymouth Fury with whitewalls and a vinyl top.


The blog to refer to...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

All Things Being Austen


Sense and Sensibility
By Jane Austen


"The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex. Their estate was large, and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of their property, where, for many generations, they had lived in so respectable a manner as to engage the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance. The late owner of this estate was a single man, who lived to a very advanced age, and who for many years of his life, had a constant companion and housekeeper in his sister. But her death, which happened ten years before his own, produced a great alteration in his home; for to supply her loss, he invited and received into his house the family of his nephew Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal inheritor of the Norland estate, and the person to whom he intended to bequeath it. In the society of his nephew and niece, and their children, the old Gentleman's days were comfortably spent. His attachment to them all increased. The constant attention of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood to his wishes, which proceeded not merely from interest, but from goodness of heart, gave him every degree of solid comfort which his age could receive; and the cheerfulness of the children added a relish to his existence."




I have for many months now required escapist reading for immersion into a world not bordered by hospitals filled to capacity, or terror groups acting like scary crazy clowns in a bad B movie, or hysterical Storm Tracker Warnings with the inevitable shortage of milk and bread. Hey, I'm only here for the Maple Bacon Kettle Chips, kids. Priorities.

Some hours spent on Google otherworldly alignment of the stars brought this series of books by Stephanie Barrons to my attention. Jane Austen solving murders written in the style of Jane Austen with Jane Austen's family. It's total Austen awesome sauceness which makes me happy as a clam--one of the many, many foods I would avoid eating in JA's time.





Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"Bow Man,







may your arrows fly straight and your aim be true."







please note: my photo at Spring Grove Cemetery, March 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

Happiness


There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.
And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.
No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon.
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.
It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

please note: photo of Uncle Fred

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday in CinCity

The Changing Light

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti


The changing light

            at San Francisco

    is none of your East Coast light

           none of your

                   pearly light of Paris

The light of San Francisco

             is a sea light

                       an island light

And the light of fog

        blanketing the hills

    drifting in at night

           through the Golden Gate

                      to lie on the city at dawn

And then the halcyon late mornings

    after the fog burns off

      and the sun paints white houses

                     with the sea light of Greece

      with sharp clean shadows

       making the town look like

                             it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o'clock

                                    sweeping the hills


And then the veil of light of early evening


And then another scrim

           when the new night fog

                            floats in

And in that vale of light

                   the city drifts

                           anchorless upon the ocean


Losing an hour of sleep last night for Daylight Savings seems a small price for the promise of sunshine when I leave work after 12 hours. It's been a grim winter in many ways for too many of us.
Miss Honey-Haired was able to spend her winter in San Francisco for school. Chilly days there are 60 degrees and MissNewOrleans almost had to turn on the A/C for temps above 75. The struggle is apparently very real.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


The Invention of Heaven

                    By Dean Young


The mind becomes a field of snow
but then the snow melts and dandelions
blink on and you can walk through them,
your trousers plastered with dew.
They’re all waiting for you but first
here’s a booth where you can win
a peacock feather for bursting a balloon,
a man in huge stripes shouting about
a boy who is half swan, the biggest
pig in the world. Then you will pass
tractors pulling other tractors,
trees snagged with bright wrappers
and then you will come to a river
and then you will wash your face.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dawn Revisited

By Rita Dove



Imagine you wake up
with a second chance: The blue jay
hawks his pretty wares
and the oak still stands, spreading
glorious shade. If you don’t look back,
the future never happens.
How good to rise in sunlight,
in the prodigal smell of biscuits –
eggs and sausage on the grill.
The whole sky is yours
to write on, blown open
to a blank page. Come on,
shake a leg! You’ll never know
who’s down there, frying those eggs,
if you don’t get up and see.

There's nothing like the sun crystallizing off the snow piles on each side of our driveway necessitating sunglasses, don't you know, to get a girl up and moving. The exile to the grey and frozen tundra of another CinCity winter is soon at an end. My money's down on seeing someone in shorts today. Outside. A six-pack of Ale 8 on the line.
I've taken a break from this blog for a while. Long story and plenty of time to tell it, but believe it's a good time to return. The world still needs poetry. Or mockery. Lucky me has both.

Friday, December 6, 2013

My Old Aunts Play Canasta in a Snow Storm

by Marjorie Saiser




I ride along in the backseat; the aunt who can drive
picks up each sister at her door, keeps the Pontiac
chugging in each driveway while one or the other
slips into her overshoes and steps out,
closing her door with a click, the wind

lifting the fringe of her white cotton scarf
as she comes down the sidewalk, still pulling on her
new polyester Christmas-stocking mittens.
We have no business to be out in such a storm,
she says, no business at all.

The wind takes her voice and swirls it
like snow across the windshield.
We're on to the next house, the next aunt,
the heater blowing to beat the band.

At the last house, we play canasta,
the deuces wild even as they were in childhood,
the wind blowing through the empty apple trees,
through the shadows of bumper crops. The cards

line up under my aunts' finger bones; eights and nines and aces
straggle and fall into place like well-behaved children.
My aunts shuffle and meld; they laugh like banshees,
as they did in that other kitchen in the 30's that
day Margaret draped a dishtowel over her face
to answer the door. We put her up to it, they say,
laughing; we pushed her. The man—whoever he was—
drove off in a huff while they laughed 'til they hiccupped,

laughing still—I'm one of the girls laughing him down the sidewalk
and into his car, we're rascals sure as farmyard dogs,
we're wild card-players; the snow thickens,
the coffee boils and perks, the wind is a red trey
because, as one or the other says,

We are getting up there in the years; we'll
have to quit sometime. But today,
today,
deal, sister, deal.