Thursday, December 8, 2016

Fiction


by Howard Nemerov

The people in the elevator all
Face front, they all keep still, they all
Look up with the rapt and stupid look of saints
In paintings at the numbers that light up
By turn and turn to tell them where they are.
They are doing the dance, they are playing the game.
To get here they have gone by avenue
And street, by ordinate and abscissa, and now
By this new coordinate, up. They are three-
dimensional characters, taken from real life;
They have their fates, whether to rise or fall,
And when their numbers come up they get out.

Please note: St James the Great, painting by Guido Reni,  1621

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday in CinCity



"But by evening the comfortable gloom of December had returned. Nearly all the snow in the treetops had slipped away, and with it the illusion that daylight had somehow been trapped in the canopy above. The woods had reerected themselves. Sunset came and went, and all the color in the natural landscape drained away with it. Blue Christmas bulbs strung along the gables of an old farmhouse, or the orange glow of an incandescent lamp seen through a roadside window at twilight, made it plain how utterly the world had been reduced to black and white. The cold came on a little deeper that night, and in the morning the snow on the woodpile was spiked with frost."


from The Rural Life by Verlyn Klinkenborg

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday in CinCity. The Pepto Bismol Edition.

For those of you who do not know, and why would you--I've been away from this blog for some time--I have two daughters, one in New Orleans and the younger newly moved to Alaska for a job. Hubby went up in October with her to settle her into her apartment, meet the roommate, get a car, insurance, find a grocery store. I had scheduled a week off in November, a desperate attempt to not be a stressed maniac while cooking, the week of Thanksgiving which gave me time to fly up there.  Trust me. You need a week.



The flight there from the Midwest is a commitment. Passed over this lovely bit of scenery. Believe it's the Canadian Cascade Mountain Range.


The temps were in the negative numbers. They've had snow for some time now and the roads are packed ice. You get used to it. The prettiest place for me was Creamer's Field, a migratory bird sanctuary 10 minutes from town. Quiet and still.







Pizza is a poor show there. Anyone with a good recipe could make a fortune. Sitting there one evening a group of 30 blue and white sweatshirted folks came in, filling the restaurant. A couple of minutes of commiseration with neighbors close-to-home...


...the UK Rifle Team was competing at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and flying back home to 75 degree temperatures that night. 

Back in the EST zone now and back at work. Perhaps avoiding FaceBook and the news more and more after the election results. I was never a fan of Mr. Trump during the '80s. Thought he was without substance and an attention whore. Can't say my opinion has changed, other than to think he's more dangerous than I gave him credit for thirty years ago. So I've been drinking a lot of Pepto Bismol and probably need to buy stock in whoever makes Prilosec and Zantac. Resistance movements evidently take a toll on the gut.


Unfortunate Location

by Louis Jenkins




In the front yard there are three big white pines,
 older than any-thing in the neighborhood 
except the stones. Magnificent trees that
toss their heads in the wind 
like the spirited black horses of a troika.
It’s hard to know what to do, 
tall dark trees on the south side of the house,
 an unfortunate location, blocking the winter sun.
 Dark and damp. Moss grows on the roof, 
the porch timbers rot and surely the roots
 have reached the old bluestone foundation. At night,
 in the wind, a tree could stumble and fall killing us in our beds.
 The needles fall year after year
 making an acid soil where no grass grows
We rake the fallen debris, nothing to be done, 
we stand around joysticks in our hands.
 Wonderful trees.






ps. until I figure out how to get my camera photos onto my Kindle, please note these photos are from Bing searches.

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.