Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog

by Alicia Suskin Ostriker

To be blessed
said the old woman
is to live and work
so hard
God's love
washes right through you
like milk through a cow

To be blessed
said the dark red tulip
is to knock their eyes out
with the slug of lust
implied by
your up-ended
skirt

To be blessed
said the dog
is to have a pinch
of God
inside you
and all the other dogs
can smell it


please note: artwork by Scott Burdick, Moravian Barn

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Green Tea

by Dale Ritterbusch


There is this tea
I have sometimes,
Pan Long Ying Hao,
so tightly curled
it looks like tiny roots
gnarled, a greenish-gray.
When it steeps, it opens
the way you woke this morning,
stretching, your hands behind
your head, back arched,
toes pointing, a smile steeped
in ceremony, a celebration,
the reaching of your arms.


please note: artwork by Andrés Fernández Cordón.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Things I Know

by Joyce Sutphen

I know how the cow's head turns
to gaze at the child in the hay aisle;

I know the way the straw shines
under the one bare light in the barn.

How a chicken pecks gravel into silt
and how the warm egg rests beneath

the feathers—I know that too, and
what to say, watching the rain slide

in silver chains over the machine
shed's roof. I know how one pail

of water calls to another and how
it sloshes and spills when I walk

from the milk-house to the barn.
I know how the barn fills and

then empties, how I scatter lime
on the walk, how I sweep it up.

In the silo, I know the rung under
my foot; on the tractor, I know

the clutch and the throttle; I slip
through the fence and into the woods,

where I know everything: trunk
by branch by leaf into sky.


please note: photo by Ron and Kay Weber

Thursday, December 24, 2009

little tree

by E. E. Cummings

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid

look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Old Man Performs Alchemy on His Doorstep at Christmastime

by Anna George Meek



Cream of Tartar, commonly used to lift meringue and
angel food cake, is actually made from crystallized fine wine.



After they stopped singing for him,
the carolers became transparent in the dark,
and he stepped into their emptiness to say
he lost his wife last week, please
sing again. Their voices filled with gold.
Last week, his fedora nodded hello to me
on the sidewalk, and the fragile breath
of kindness that passed between us
made something sweet of a morning
that had frightened me for no earthly reason.
Surely, you know this by another name:
the mysteries we intake, exhale, could be
sitting on our shelves, left on the bus seat
beside us. Don't wash your hands.
You fingered them at the supermarket,
gave them to the cashier; intoxicated tonight,
she'll sing in the streets. Think of the old man.
Who knew he kept the secret of levitation,
transference, and lightness filling a winter night?
— an effortless, crystalline powder
That could almost seem transfigured from loss.


please note: photo by ganesh vnd on flickr

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Still Crazy After All These Years...




After diligent research by way of a pocket Hallmark calendar it's certain that 18 years' wedded bliss is the "Rock, Paper, Scissors" anniversary, next may be HeyDay at Ben & Jerry's, then comes the 20 year "Platinum" extravaganza. Good times...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Going to Bed

by George Bilgere

I check the locks on the front door
and the side door,
make sure the windows are closed
and the heat dialed down.
I switch off the computer,
turn off the living room lights.

I let in the cats.

Reverently, I unplug the Christmas tree,
leaving Christ and the little animals
in the dark.

The last thing I do
is step out to the back yard
for a quick look at the Milky Way.

The stars are halogen-blue.
The constellations, whose names
I have long since forgotten,
look down anonymously,
and the whole galaxy
is cartwheeling in silence through the night.

Everything seems to be ok.

When I First Saw Snow

by Gregory Djanikian

Tarrytown, N.Y.

Bing Crosby was singing "White Christmas"
on the radio, we were staying at my aunt's house
waiting for papers, my father was looking for a job.

We had trimmed the tree the night before,
sap had run on my fingers and for the first time
I was smelling pine wherever I went.
Anais, my cousin, was upstairs in her room
listening to Danny and the Juniors.
Haigo was playing Monopoly with Lucy, his sister,
Buzzy, the boy next door, had eyes for her
and there was a rattle of dice, a shuffling
of Boardwalk, Park Place, Marvin Gardens.
There were red bows on the Christmas tree.
It had snowed all night.
My boot buckles were clinking like small bells
as I thumped to the door and out
onto the grey planks of the porch dusted with snow.
The world was immaculate, new,
even the trees had changed color,
and when I touched the snow on the railing
I didn't know what I had touched, ice or fire.
I heard, ''I'm dreaming ..."
I heard, "At the hop, hop, hop ... oh, baby."
I heard "B & 0" and the train in my imagination
was whistling through the great plains.
And I was stepping off,
I was falling deeply into America.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Human Beings--Handle With Care

Simply Fabulous



Has anyone run across this blog before?? I can't remember where I first read about it, but now I think it may have been on World News Tonight. Okay, okay. So, I have no short term memory anymore. Very over-rated anyway. This blog, however, is very sweet, and oddly enough most of the photos don't look that ancient to me...:>)

It all really does go by quickly, doesn't it?

http://myparentswereawesome.tumblr.com/

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Insomniac

by Galway Kinnell

I open my eyes to see how the night
is progressing. The clock glows green,
the light of the last-quarter moon
shines up off the snow into our bedroom.
Her portion of our oceanic duvet
lies completely flat. The words
of the shepherd in Tristan, "Waste
and empty, the sea," come back to me.
Where can she be? Then in the furrow
where the duvet overlaps her pillow,
a small hank of brown hair
shows itself, her marker that she's here,
asleep, somewhere down in the dark
underneath. Now she rotates
herself a quarter turn, from strewn
all unfolded on her back to bunched
in a Z on her side, with her back to me.
I squirm nearer, careful not to break
into the immensity of her sleep,
and lie there absorbing the astounding
quantity of heat a slender body
ovens up around itself.
Her slow, purring, sometimes snorish,
perfectly intelligible sleeping sounds
abruptly stop. A leg darts back
and hooks my ankle with its foot
and draws me closer. Immediately
her sleeping sounds resume, telling me:
"Come, press against me, yes, like that,
put your right elbow on my hipbone, perfect,
and your right hand at my breasts, yes, that's it,
now your left arm, which has become extra,
stow it somewhere out of the way, good.
Entangled with each other so, unsleeping one,
together we will outsleep the night.


please note: photo by DK, blogsite, Yukiguni

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday in CinCity

Nights Our House Comes to Life
by Matthew Brennan


Some nights in midwinter when the creek clogs
With ice and the spines of fir trees stiffen
Under a blank, frozen sky,
On these nights our house comes to life.
It happens when you're half asleep:
A sudden crack, a fractured dream, you bolting
Upright – but all you can hear is the clock
Your great-grandfather found in 1860
And smuggled here from Dublin for his future bride,
A being as unknown to him then as she is now
To you, a being as distant as the strangers
Who built this house, and died in this room
Some cold, still night, like tonight,
When all that was heard were the rhythmic clicks
Of a pendulum, and something, barely audible,
Moving on the dark landing of the attic stairs.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Searchers

by Jim Harrison

At dawn Warren is on my bed,
a ragged lump of fur listening
to the birds as if deciding whether or not
to catch one. He has an old man's
mimsy delusion. A rabbit runs across
the yard and he walks after it
thinking he might close the widening distance
just as when I followed a lovely woman
on boulevard Montparnasse but couldn't equal
her rapid pace, the click-click of her shoes
moving into the distance, turning the final
corner, but when I turned the corner
she had disappeared and I looked up
into the trees thinking she might have climbed one.
When I was young a country girl would climb
a tree and throw apples down at my upturned face.
Warren and I are both searchers. He's looking
for his dead sister Shirley, and I'm wondering
about my brother John who left the earth
on this voyage all living creatures take.
Both cat and man are bathed in pleasant
insignificance, their eyes fixed on birds and stars.


please note: photo by Jack Norton

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Starlings in Winter

by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

please note: photo by Ingo

Monday, December 7, 2009

After Psalm 137

by Anne Porter

We're still in Babylon but
We do not weep
Why should we weep?
We have forgotten
How to weep

We've sold our harps
And bought ourselves machines
That do our singing for us
And who remembers now
The songs we sang in Zion?

We have got used to exile
We hardly notice
Our captivity
For some of us
There are such comforts here
Such luxuries

Even a guard
To keep the beggars
From annoying us

Jerusalem
We have forgotten you.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saturday in CinCity

Three years ago, on December 3, a friend of mine died. It's described in his obituary as "died suddenly," but truth be told, he'd been dying a little everyday since his partner, Tom, left this earth.



I was working the afternoon I got the call about Ken; one of the nurses upstairs had heard the bad news and in a hospital bad news spreads quickly. Another nurse covered the rest of my shift, I ran home and changed clothes for the funeral.

The church was decorated for Christmas and lit with candles. Every pew was taken with family, friends, co-workers, ex-patients. The music was amazing, including a bagpiper whose sounds filled the space to the rafters. The minister broke down twice crying during the homily.

What I remember, though, everytime I think of Ken, or think I see him at the hospital, or on a neighborhood street, or at the local IGA, is the instruction the minister gave us. Ken's death came at the start of Advent, and while we were trying to wrap our brains around the emptiness and grief we felt, she instructed us to think of Ken at this and every Advent, to emulate his generosity and gifts to the community. She instucted us to "shine his light."

Ken did some amazing things in his lifetime, and through his kindness gave care to many who had been shunned and abandoned. He left a clear path of footsteps to follow.

So, Ken, just wanted to say I miss you. Blessed Advent right back at ya.

Friday, December 4, 2009

God Bless the Experimental Writers

by Corey Mesler

for David Markson

"One beginning and one ending for a book was a
thing I did not agree with."
Flann O'Brien from At Swim-Two-Birds


God bless the experimental writers.
The ones whose work is a little
difficult, built of tinkertoys
and dada, or portmanteau and
Reich. God help them as they
type away, knowing their readers
are few, only those who love to toil
over an intricate boil of language,
who think books are secret codes.
These writers will never see their names
in Publisher's Weekly. They will
never be on the talk shows. Yet,
every day they disappear into their
rooms atop their mother's houses,
or their guest houses behind some
lawyer's estate. Every day they
tack improbable word onto im-
probable word, out of love, children,
out of a desire to emend the world.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Stars

by Freya Manfred

What matters most? It's a foolish question because I'm hanging on,
just like you. No, I'm past hanging on. It's after midnight and I'm falling
toward four a.m., the best time for ghosts, terror, and lost hopes.


No one says anything of significance to me. I don't care if the President's
a two year old, and the Vice President's four. I don't care if you're
cashing in your stocks or building homes for the homeless.

I was a caring person. I would make soup and grow you many flowers.
I would enter your world, my hands open to catch your tears,
my lips on your lips in case we both went deaf and blind.

But I don't care about your birthday, or Christmas, or lover's lane,
or even you, not as much as I pretend. Ah, I was about to say,

"I don't care about the stars" -- but I had to stop my pen.
Sometimes, out in the silent black Wisconsin countryside
I glance up and see everything that's not on earth, glowing, pulsing,
each star so close to the next and yet so far away.

Oh, the stars. In lines and curves, with fainter, more mysterious
designs beyond, and again, beyond. The longer I look, the more I see,
and the more I see, the deeper the universe grows.

I have a long way to go, and I'm starting now --
out in the silent black Wisconsin countryside.

please note: photo by Larry Landolfi

Monday, November 30, 2009

A November Sunrise

by Anne Porter

Wild geese are flocking and calling in pure golden air,
Glory like that which painters long ago
Spread as a background for some little hermit
Beside his cave, giving his cloak away,
Or for some martyr stretching out
On her expected rack.
A few black cedars grow nearby
And there's a donkey grazing.

Small craftsmen, steeped in anonymity like bees,
Gilded their wooden panels, leaving fame to chance,
Like the maker of this wing-flooded golden sky,
Who forgives all our ignorance
Both of his nature and of his very name,
Freely accepting our one heedless glance.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Foresee the Breaking of All That Is Breakable

by John Estes


Perhaps, after all, it is merely a desire
to use the word thanatopsical
but if you can wash or handle
artifacts like this blue
tea mug, carried from Crete as a gift
from a friend, or this nacreous
orange bowl,
a honeymoon souvenir
bought in a now-defunct artists'
shop in Colorado, or
this antique Chinese mudman
carrying his sponges
and fish from a day at the pier,
without a pathological
fixation on the day you will stumble
and drop it, or smack it
against the sink divider or brush
it with a hand reaching
for the letter opener, you are junzi:
a superior person, as Confucius had it.
You probably make love
to your spouse without imagining
betrayal and pay taxes
without complaint
because you think nothing
in truth belongs to you.

They invented the earth for people
like you, and then salted it.

please note: photo by jon.noj

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday in CinCity

The Surgeon

by Alicia Suskin Ostriker

I was still a kid
interning at State
he reminisces late in the meal—
It was a young red-headed woman
looked like my sister
when the lines went flat
I fell apart
shook
like a car with a broken axle
Went to the head surgeon
a fatherly man
Boy, he said, you got to fill a graveyard
before you know this business
and you just did row one, plot one.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Two Girls

by Jim Harrison

Late November (full moon last night),
a cold Patagonia moon, the misty air
tinkled slightly, a rank-smelling bull
in the creek bottom seemed to be crying.
Coyotes yelped up the canyon
where they took a trip-wire photo of a jaguar
last spring. I hope he's sleeping or eating
a delicious deer. Our two little girl dogs
are peeing in the midnight yard, nervous
about the bull. They can't imagine a jaguar.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again

for wriggling my way into the attic to find the middle leaf for the dining room table and bring down the games for Thanksgiving.



Our feast will be on Tuesday since Hubby and I are both working the holiday. The grrrrls will be home making the rounds with the grandmothers. Stop back for a comparative study of stuffings and cranberry sauces.

I started cooking this afternoon. Sorry to say my dressing isn't up to its usual snuff. Used some fancy-schmancy sausage instead of the tried and true Jimmy Dean Bulk Pork Sausage. Let that be a lesson to anyone getting a little cocky and wanting to be innovative. Resist the urge. Save it for the leftovers.

Very thankful for my new BFF, Hulu.com. Got to catch up on past episodes of The Good Wife. Made all the chopping go quite pleasantly, although now that I think about it, perhaps the problem with my dressing. Damn that vixen, Julianna.



I have many things to be thankful for this year, the friendships and camaraderie I've found here among them. Thanks for reading and especially for your comments.

Hope your day of thanks is spent with those you love and food you love. Not necessarily in that order.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday in CinCity

XI.

by Wendell Berry

Though he was ill and in pain,
in disobedience to the instruction he
would have received if he had asked,
the old man got up from his bed,
dressed, and went to the barn.
The bare branches of winter had emerged
through the last leaf-colors of fall,
the loveliest of all, browns and yellows
delicate and nameless in the gray light
and the sifting rain. He put feed
in the troughs for eighteen ewe lambs,
sent the dog for them, and she
brought them. They came eager
to their feed, and he who felt
their hunger was by their feeding
eased. From no place in the time
of present places, within no boundary
nameable in human thought,
they had gathered once again,
the shepherd, his sheep, and his dog
with all the known and the unknown
round about to the heavens' limit.
Was this his stubbornness or bravado?
No. Only an ordinary act
of profoundest intimacy in a day
that might have been better. Still
the world persisted in its beauty,
he in his gratitude, and for this
he had most earnestly prayed.

please note: photo by Patricia McConnell

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Alexandria, 1953

by Gregory Djanikian

You could think of sunlight
Glancing off the minarets,
You could think of guavas and figs
And the whole marketplace filled
With the sumptuous din of haggling,
But you could not think of Alexandria
Without the sea, or the sea,
Turquoise and shimmering, without
The white city rising before it.

Even on the back streets
You could feel it on your skin,
You could smell it in the aroma
Of dark coffee, spiced meat.

You looked at the sea and you heard
The wail of an Arab woman singing or praying.

If, as I can now, you could point
To the North Atlantic, swollen
And dark as it often is, you might say,
"Here lies Wrath," or "Truly God is great."
You could season a Puritan soul by it.

But you could fall into the Mediterranean
As though you were falling into a blue dream,
Gauzy, half unreal for its loveliness.
It was deceptively calm and luxurious.
At Stanley Bay, you could float
On your back and watch the evening sun
Color the city a faint rose.
You could drown, it was said,
Almost without knowing it.

please note: photo by Declan McCullagh

Monday, November 16, 2009

Manners

by Howard Nemerov

Prig offered Pig the first chance at dessert,
So Pig reached out and speared the bigger part.

"Now that," cried Prig, "is extremely rude of you!"
Pig, with his mouth full, said, "Wha, wha' wou' 'ou do?"

"I would have taken the littler bit," said Prig.
"Stop kvetching, then it's what you've got," said Pig.

So virtue is its own reward, you see.
And that is all it's ever going to be.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday in CinCity

Grapefruit

by Ted McMahon

My grandfather got up early to section grapefruit.
I know because I got up quietly to watch.
He was tall. His hairless shins stuck out
below his bathrobe, down to leather slippers.
The house was quiet, sun just up, ticking of
the grandfather clock tall in the corner.

The grapefruit were always sectioned just so,
nestled in clear nubbled bowls used
for nothing else, with half a maraschino
centered bleeding slowly into
soft pale triangles of fruit.
It was special grapefruit, Indian River,
not to be had back home.

Doves cooed outside and the last night-breeze
rustled the palms against the eaves.
He turned to see me, pale light flashing
off his glasses
and smiled.

I remember as I work my knife along the
membrane separating sections.
It's dawn. The doves and palms are far away.
I don't use cherries anymore.
The clock is digital
and no one is watching.

Please note:Photo courtesy PDPhoto.org

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Well, It's Not Rainy, It's Not a Sunday, and I Do Love This Poem...

Driving at Night

by Sheila Packa

Up north, the dashboard lights of the family car
gleam in memory, the radio
plays to itself as I drive
my father plied the highways
while my mother talked, she tried to hide
that low lilt, that Finnish brogue,
in the back seat, my sisters and I
our eyes always tied to the Big Dipper
I watch it still
on summer evenings, as the fireflies stream
above the ditches and moths smack
into the windshield and the wildlife's
red eyes bore out from the dark forests
we flew by, then scattered like the last bit of star
light years before.
It's like a different country, the past
we made wishes on unnamed falling stars
that I've forgotten, that maybe were granted
because I wished for love.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Late Harvest

after Rilke's Herbsttag

by Jeredith Merrin


Time, it is time.
Summer has been
long-stretched-out, full.
Go ahead, Fall:
shrink down the days
and sugar the grapes
for late-harvest wine.

Anyone still unknown
to herself will stay,
probably, that way.
Anyone unlinked by love
will be love-
left-out now—waking,
mind-pacing
up and down
up and down,
restless as leaf-bits
and papers in the street.




I believe this will be the last poem and writing I post in a while. Perhaps forever. Who knows. With the rest of the stuff in my life that needs to get done, writing and blogging are becoming yet another task to complete, and not a respite.

I have so enjoyed meeting all of you and hearing your voices in the comments, and you may still see me lurking around some rainy Sunday afternoons. Best of life to you all and wishes for all of its blessings to you and yours. I'll be looking for you further on down the road.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October in Vermont

by John Lindgren

Endings are always more difficult than beginnings.
Don't ask me why I remember
lying alone in the grass at dusk, gored
by the tiny horns of snails,
filaments of spider-silk like threads
of starlight across my eyes. I was listening
to the orange and blue
leaves explain my countless lives,
so many that I could not make out a single word.
Their colors wound each of us
in unnameable, and different ways.
By day they are the splayed hands of children
held up in self-wonderment.
At night they are the flutterings of dying birds.
Lighting my way with a dandelion
I hold in one hand like a sparkler,
in the other a jar of fireflies,
I make my way through the forking darkness
as the leafless trees climb the night like stairs.

please note: art by Yayoi Kusama, Fireflies on Water

Monday, October 12, 2009

Before Dawn in October

by Julia Kasdorf

The window frame catches a draft
that smells of dead leaves and wet street,
and I wrap arms around my knees,
look down on these small breasts,
so my spine forms a curve as perfect
as the rim of the moon. I want to tell
the man sleeping curled as a child beside me
that this futon is a raft. The moon
and tiny star we call sun are the parents
who at last approve of us. For once,
we haven't borrowed more than we can return.
Stars above our cement backyard are as sharp
as those that shine far from Brooklyn,
and we are not bound for anything worse
than we can imagine, as long as we turn
on the kitchen lamp and light a flame
under the pot, as long as we sip coffee
from beautiful China-blue cups and love
the steam of the shower and thrusting
our feet into trousers. As long as we walk
down our street in sun that ignites
red leaves on the maple, we will see
faces on the subway and know we may take
our places somewhere among them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lake Livin' is the Life for Me




Lonely Lake
by Joyce Kennedy

It was the name given it on our hiking map. Intrigued,
we followed a narrow, rising trail flecked with autumn,
aspen leaves beneath our feet, young trees leaning across
as if to guard the integrity of loneliness. At the end,
we found the lake, small jewel shining in space, not
obviously frequented, although there was a rickety
dock and on it, a battered rowboat and dented canoe.
No paddles. We sat, one in rowboat, one in canoe,
the loneliness of the lake pared down to bare essentials—
shore lined with thick, dark pine, intense and cloudless sky,
sun flaring on water's changing surface. A hawk dipped
down to startle the peace while two ducks rode the ripples
unperturbed. Stunned by beauty, we reached across—
boat to canoe, canoe to boat—to touch hands,
our own lonely selves connecting as lightly and effortlessly
as the dragonfly wing that earlier brushed against my face.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Erasures

by Sharon Bryan

My best lover ever
is dead. And

the second best.
Nothing to do

with me, it was years
since I'd seen them.

Still, they took
something with them

no one else knows
about me, and if I

know it, I know
only half, like every

other line of a poem.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Amor Fati

by Katha Pollitt

Everywhere I look I see my fate.
In the subway. In a stone.
On the curb where people wait for the bus in the rain.
In a cloud. In a glass of wine.

When I go for a walk in the park it's a sycamore leaf.
At the office, a dull pencil.
In the window of Woolworth's my fate looks back at me
through the shrewd eyes of a dusty parakeet.

Scrap of newspaper, dime in a handful of change,
down what busy street do you hurry this morning,
an overcoat among overcoats,

with a train to catch, a datebook full of appointments?
If I called you by my name would you turn around
or vanish round the corner,
leaving a faint odor of orange-flower water,
tobacco, twilight, snow?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Two Cats

by Katha Pollitt


It's better to be a cat than to be a human.
Not because of their much-noted grace and beauty—
their beauty wins them no added pleasure, grace is
only a cat's way

of getting without fuss from one place to another—
but because they see things as they are. Cats never mistake a
saucer of milk for a declaration of passion
or the crook of your knees for

a permanent address. Observing two cats on a sunporch,
you might think of them as a pair of Florentine bravoes
awaiting through slitted eyes the least lapse of attention—
then slash! the stiletto

or alternately as a long-married couple, who hardly
notice each other but find it somehow a comfort
sharing the couch, the evening news, the cocoa.
Both these ideas

are wrong. Two cats together are like two strangers
cast up by different storms on the same desert island
who manage to guard, despite the utter absence
of privacy, chocolate,

useful domestic articles, reading material,
their separate solitudes. They would not dream of
telling each other their dreams, or the plots of old movies,
or inventing a bookful

of coconut recipes. Where we would long ago have
frantically shredded our underwear into signal
flags and be dancing obscenely about on the shore in
a desperate frenzy,

they merely shift on their haunches, calm as two stoics
weighing the probable odds of the soul's immortality,
as if to say, if a ship should happen along we'll
be rescued. If not, not.

and you cannot have two cats without these three running about in your brain...



please note: photo by Terry Grant

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sound of the Night Train

by Pat Schneider

Only once in every twenty-four hours the train comes through
my town—in the dark, still center of the night. Sometimes I am
awake to hear it, its wail a long sound-tunnel back to another
time, another place.


1934. Early March in southern Missouri, northern Arkansas.
The air cold, the night wind hard in the open doorway of a
boxcar headed south toward Louisiana.
My mother told me this in the winter of her dying. Always
she said my father was just no good—her Ozark accent persisting
to the end: a woman warshed and rinched the clothes. A man
who didn't treat a woman right was just no good.
It was the heart of the Depression, she said. I never did tell this
to anyone—I was so ashamed. We wanted to go to see Papa and
Mama in the Socialist Colony down in Louisiana, but we didn't
have any money. So we rode the rails. One night a man in the
boxcar with us said, "If y'all know what's good for you, you'll jump
right now." We were scared; we jumped. And me six months pregnant
with you. Isn't that awful?
She lay very still then on her high hospital bed, the wedding
ring quilt she had pieced when her eyes were good pulled up
around her shoulders. What made me sad, listening to this story,
was the strangeness of my mother's not saying, He was just no
good. For the first time in her eighty-six years she said, He was
good to me then. I was cold, and we were sleeping on the ground. He
covered me with leaves. He covered her—covered me—with
leaves.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ghost Stories on a Beautiful October Sunday in CinCity

Letter I

To Mrs. Saville, England

"...I am already far north of London; and as I walk in the streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves, and fills me with delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which has travelled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my day dreams become more fervent and vivid.



I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is for ever visible, its broad disc just skirting the horizon, and diffusing a perpetual splendour. There--for with your leave, my sister, I will put some trust in preceding navigators--there snow and frost are banished; and, sailing over a calm sea, we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and in beauty every region hitherto discovered on the habitable globe. Its productions and features may be without example, as the phenomena of the heavenly bodies undoubtably are in those undiscovered solitudes. What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?"

Indeed. What may not be expected? To be continued...

please note: excerpt from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, page 1.
photo by Alexey Titarenko

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Durum wheat

by Lisa Martin-Demoor

Memory at its finest lacks corroboration
—no photographs, no diaries—
nothing to pin the past on the present with, to make it stick.
Just because you've got this idea
of red fields stretching along the tertiary roads
of Saskatchewan, like blazing, contained fires —
just because somewhere in your memory
there's a rust-coloured pulse
taking its place among canola yellow
and flax fields the huddled blue of morning azures—
just because you want to
doesn't mean you can
build a home for that old, peculiar ghost.

Someone tells you you've imagined it,
that gash across the ripe belly of summer,
and for a year, maybe two, you believe them.
Maybe you did invent it, maybe as you leaned,
to escape the heat, out the Pontiac's backseat window
you just remembered it that way
because you preferred the better version.

Someone tells you this.
But what can they know of faith?
To ask you to leave behind this insignificance.
This innocence that can't be proved: what the child saw
of the fields as she passed by, expecting nothing.

You have to go there while there's still time.
Back to the red flag of that field, blazing in the wind.
While you're still young enough to remember
a flame planted along a road. While you're still
seeing more than there is to see.


please note: art by Ken Cosgrove

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Intake Interview

by Franz Wright


What is today's date?

Who is the President?

How great a danger do you pose, on a scale of one to ten?

What does "people who live in glass houses" mean?

Every symphony is a suicide postponed, true or false?

Should each individual snowflake be held accountable for the
avalanche?

Name five rivers.

What do you see yourself doing in ten minutes?

How about some lovely soft Thorazine music?

If you could have half an hour with your father, what would you
say to him?

What should you do if I fall asleep?

Are you still following in his mastodon footsteps?

What is the moral of "Mary Had a Little Lamb"?

What about his Everest shadow?

Would you compare your education to a disease so rare no one
else has ever had it, or the deliberate extermination
of indigenous populations?

Which is more puzzling, the existence of suffering or its frequent
absence?

Should an odd number be sacrificed to the gods of the sky, and an
even to those of the underworld, or vice versa?

Would you visit a country where nobody talks?

What would you have done differently?

Why are you here?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Choice of Diseases

by Hal Sirowitz



Now that I'm sick & have
all this time to contemplate
the meaning of the universe,
Father said, I understand why
I never did it before. Nothing
looks good from a prone position.
You have to walk around to appreciate
things. Once I get better I don't
intend to get sick for a while. But
if I do I hope I get one of those diseases
you can walk around with.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Poem on a Line by Anne Sexton, 'We are All Writing God's Poem'

by Barbara Crooker

Today, the sky's the soft blue of a work shirt washed
a thousand times. The journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step. On the interstate listening
to NPR, I heard a Hubble scientist
say, "The universe is not only stranger than we
think, it's stranger than we can think." I think
I've driven into spring, as the woods revive
with a loud shout, redbud trees, their gaudy
scarves flung over bark's bare limbs. Barely doing
sixty, I pass a tractor trailer called Glory Bound,
and aren't we just? Just yesterday,
I read Li Po: "There is no end of things
in the heart," but it seems like things
are always ending—vacation or childhood,
relationships, stores going out of business,
like the one that sold jeans that really fit—
And where do we fit in? How can we get up
in the morning, knowing what we do? But we do,
put one foot after the other, open the window,
make coffee, watch the steam curl up
and disappear. At night, the scent of phlox curls
in the open window, while the sky turns red violet,
lavender, thistle, a box of spilled crayons.
The moon spills its milk on the black tabletop
for the thousandth time.

Monday, September 28, 2009

On a Perfect Day

by Jane Gentry

... I eat an artichoke in front
of the Charles Street Laundromat
and watch the clouds bloom
into white flowers out of
the building across the way.
The bright air moves on my face
like the touch of someone who loves me.
Far overhead a dart-shaped plane softens
through membranes of vacancy. A ship,
riding the bright glissade of the Hudson, slips
past the end of the street. Colette's vagabond
says the sun belongs to the lizard
that warms in its light. I own these moments
when my skin like a drumhead stretches on the frame
of my bones, then swells, a bellows filled
with sacred breath seared by this flame,
this happiness.

please note: photo by Ariel D. Bravy

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Night Rain

by Ann Stanford


I wake with the rain.
It has surprised me.
First, delight,
Then I think of outdoors:
The shovels and rakes I left in the garden
Rusting now in the mist,
The splintering of handles.
I think of car windows open
Tricycles
Canvas cots, trash cans
The hay uncovered
Mildew.

Well, they are out.
And the animals -
The cat, he is gone
The dog is the neighbor's
The horses have a tin roof
If they will stay under it.
And the wild things are there -
Birds, wet in the trees,
Deer in the brush, rabbits in hiding.
The leaves will all be washed
The wild lilacs, the walnuts.

I am sleepy and warm
I dream of the great horned owl
Snatching birds like plums out of trees.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday in CinCity

It's raining today in CinCity. A continuous drizzle in a grey and chilly day, but I don't care. I've spent the last 6 days at the hospital, not all of it 12 hour shifts, but enough of it, and I am thrilled to be in my sweats with a hot cup of coffee, rain or shine.

Inspector Clousseau, the loan appraiser, has come and gone and our loan for the lake property is being "processed." My 8 hour Neuro lecture is finished, as was my voice that evening and the next day. The new committee I'm now heading has brand new notebooks, pens, and color coded divider tabs. Bliss in a bag.



The next four days are all mine, except for driving HoneyHaired around and volunteering Saturday afternoon at the church festival. Tonight, I'm planning on roasted chicken and red potatoes and using the leftovers for curried chicken salad. On second thought, I'd best roast two chickens. We do love the chicken salad.

The consignment store down the street is having a "bin sale." Everything's $5, $10, $20. Gotta be there.

We've lost four young ones to the H1N1 virus in the last three weeks. By young I mean 17-22 years old. Last Friday we lost a 16 year old to traumatic brain injury after a driver sped through a traffic light and went on to commit hit-and-run at the crosswalk. Randomness run amuck. I can make no more sense of this than who will next win the lottery or which leaf will change color and fall.

I very much hope your weekends are restful and tasty and bargain filled. Whatever they contain, I hope you find joy in them.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Doesn't Matter What It Looks Like

by Hal Sirowitz

"When you have blown your nose,
you should not open your handkerchief
and inspect it, as though pearls or rubies
had dropped out of your skull."

The Book of Manners (1958)

After you have blown your nose,
Father said, it's not polite to look inside
your handkerchief to see what it looks like.
You're not a doctor. What's more important
is getting the handkerchief back into your pocket
without staining your pants. There are some things
it's better not to look at. It should be left
to your imagination, but if you have
a strong desire to look you can always
find pictures of it in a medical book.