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.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Remodeling the Bathroom

by Ellen Bass

If this were the last
day of my life, I wouldn't complain
about the shower curtain rod
in the wrong place, even though
it's drilled into the tiles.
Nor would I fret
over water marks on the apricot
satin finish paint, half sick
that I should have used semigloss. No.
I'd stand in the doorway
watching sun glint
off the chrome faucet, breathing in
the silicone smell. I'd wonder
at the plumber, as he adjusted the hot
and cold water knobs. I'd stare
at the creases behind his ears and the gray
flecks in his stubble. I'd have to hold
myself back from touching him. Or maybe
I wouldn't. Maybe I'd stroke
his cheek and study
his eyes the amber of cellos, his rumpled
brow, the tiny garnet
threads of capillaries, his lips
resting together, quiet as old friends—
I'd gaze at him
as though his were the first
face I'd ever seen.

Porch Swing in September

by Ted Kooser


The porch swing hangs fixed in a morning sun
that bleaches its gray slats, its flowered cushion
whose flowers have faded, like those of summer,
and a small brown spider has hung out her web
on a line between porch post and chain
so that no one may swing without breaking it.
She is saying it's time that the swinging were done with,
time that the creaking and pinging and popping
that sang through the ceiling were past,
time now for the soft vibrations of moths,
the wasp tapping each board for an entrance,
the cool dewdrops to brush from her work
every morning, one world at a time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Autumn Equinox

"The weight of the afternoon sun

already falls more lightly on my back than it did a few weeks ago. The days seem not only shorter but also somehow thinner too, and every morning that dawns above freezing feels like a morning won back from the inevitable. Nothing is dry yet, of course, but the promise of eventual dryness is in the air. A day will come when every crown of seeds will rattle on the weeds in ditches and fields, when leaves will crunch obligingly underfoot again."

please note: excerpt from The Rural Life, September, by Verlyn Klinkenborg
& art by Van Gogh

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Meaning of Life

by Nancy Fitzgerald

There is a moment just before
a dog vomits when its stomach
heaves dry, pumping what's deep
inside the belly to the mouth.
If you are fast you can grab
her by the collar and shove her
out the door, avoid the slimy bile,
hunks of half chewed food
from landing on the floor.
You must be quick, decisive,
controlled, and if you miss
the cue and the dog erupts
en route, you must forgive
her quickly and give yourself
to scrubbing up the mess.

Most of what I have learned
in life leads back to this.


please note: photo by Sheri Van Wert

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Pleasures of Hating

by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

I hate Mozart. Hate him with that healthy
pleasure one feels when exasperation has

crescendoed, when lungs, heart, throat,
and voice explode at once: I hate that! —


there's bliss in this, rapture. My shrink
tried to disabuse me, convinced I use Amadeus


as a prop: Think further, your father perhaps?
I won't go back, think of the shrink


with a powdered wig, pinched lips, mole:
a transference, he'd say, a relapse: so be it.


I hate broccoli, chain saws, patchouli, bra—
clasps that draw dents in your back, roadblocks,


men in black kneesocks, sandals and shorts—
I love hating that. Loathe stickers on tomatoes,


jerky, deconstruction, nazis, doilies. I delight
in detesting. And love loving so much after that.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Insomnia

by Dana Gioia

Now you hear what the house has to say.
Pipes clanking, water running in the dark,
the mortgaged walls shifting in discomfort,
and voices mounting in an endless drone
of small complaints like the sounds of a family
that year by year you've learned how to ignore.

But now you must listen to the things you own,
all that you've worked for these past years,
the murmur of property, of things in disrepair,
the moving parts about to come undone,
and twisting in the sheets remember all
the faces you could not bring yourself to love.

How many voices have escaped you until now,
the venting furnace, the floorboards underfoot,
the steady accusations of the clock
numbering the minutes no one will mark.
The terrible clarity this moment brings,
the useless insight, the unbroken dark.

please note: photo by Carol Sills

And...Neuro lecture--8 hours--this Monday. Almost finished with working on it. Oh, happy day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Splitting an Order

by Ted Kooser

I like to watch an old man cutting a sandwich in half,
maybe an ordinary cold roast beef on whole wheat bread,
no pickles or onion, keeping his shaky hands steady
by placing his forearms firm on the edge of the table
and using both hands, the left to hold the sandwich in place,
and the right to cut it surely, corner to corner,
observing his progress through glasses that moments before
he wiped with his napkin, and then to see him lift half
onto the extra plate that he had asked the server to bring,
and then to wait, offering the plate to his wife
while she slowly unrolls her napkin and places her spoon,
her knife and her fork in their proper places,
then smoothes the starched white napkin over her knees
and meets his eyes and holds out both old hands to him.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Particle Physics

by Julie Kane

They say two photons fired through a slit
stay paired together to the end of time;
if one is polarized to change its spin,
the other does a U-turn on a dime,
although they fly apart at speeds of light
and never cross each other's paths again,
like us, a couple in the seventies,
divorced for almost thirty years since then.
Tonight a Red Sox batter homered twice
to beat the Yankees in their playoff match,
and, sure as I was born in Boston, when
that second ball deflected off the bat,
I knew your thoughts were flying back to me,
though your location was a mystery.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Summer in a Small Town

by Linda Gregg

When the men leave me,
they leave me in a beautiful place.
It is always late summer.
When I think of them now,
I think of the place.
And being happy alone afterwards.
This time it's Clinton, New York.
I swim in the public pool
at six when the other people
have gone home.
The sky is gray, the air is hot.
I walk back across the mown lawn
loving the smell and the houses
so completely it leaves my heart empty.

please note: photo by Meg Ojala

Friday, September 11, 2009

Home By Now


by Meg Kearney


New Hampshire air curls my hair like a child's
hand curls around a finger. "Children?" No,
we tell the realtor, but maybe a dog or two.
They'll bark at the mail car (Margaret's
Chevy Supreme) and chase the occasional
moose here in this place where doors are left
unlocked and it's Code Green from sun-up,
meaning go ahead and feel relieved—
the terrorists are back where you left them
on East 20th Street and Avenue C. In New York
we stocked our emergency packs with whistles
and duct tape. In New England, precautions take
a milder hue: don't say "pig" on a lobster boat
or paint the hull blue. Your friends in the city
say they'll miss you but don't blame you—they
still cringe each time a plane's overhead,
one ear cocked for the other shoe.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Saturday in CinCity

Real Estate

by Mark Perlberg

How odd to look across the way and note
the Hymans, neighbors for a generation,
are gone. Strange not to see a glimmer of light
in any window as I pass by, or Ida, bent and wiry,
climbing her stoop with a bag of groceries,
or tending the doctor, neatly dressed, asleep in his chair
on the porch, his light dimmed by a succession of strokes.

I was shocked when Ida called to say she sold
the building: two stories high, smooth gray brick,
solid as a bank. Then, one day, the big truck came,
Thirty years gone. Just like that.





Don't know whether it's appropriate or coincidence, but life has moved quickly here in the last week. We are in the midst of buying a house about 200 miles away from CinCity.


A retreat of sorts. Make that a retreat with no furniture and a yard that needs mowing but, I've got lots of books and mismatched linens to fill up empty rooms. And, a telescope I believe will be much more functional away from the city glare. In fact, the house here is being slowly dotted with hot pink Post-It notes of potential items to be disentangled from the clutter that is attached to our life.

Did I mention the second house has a detached 2 car garage with utilities? That's what sold it for my hubby--he's in some serious love. The rest of us love the fact that we're four houses away from some serious water. The grrrls envision sunbathing. I envision contemplating. To-may-toe/To-mah-toe.

This falls in the midst of the painting-palooza in HoneyHaired's room and caring for an 84 year old mother who doesn't want any help, except when she does want help which is rightdamnnow. And an inspector--Clousseau I hope--from the Payusbackorwebreakyourlegs Loan Office is coming to our home on Tuesday. Hubby's working, HoneyHaired's working, which leaves an open field for me to sort, toss, and clean without anyone asking why I'm throwing away that magazine or this empty coffee can. I realize both could come in very handy someday and I will rue the day, but we can get more. Right down at the local IGA. Tons of magazines and big, plastic coffee containers looking for homes.

At work I've been asked to take over the Preceptoring committee, also to give an 8 hour lecture on Neuro to the new critical care nurses in orientation. I'm not really certain how to get 8 hours of "the skull bone's connected to the eye bone, the eye bone's connected to the jaw bone..." unless maybe I do it in mime, but you can see there is big thinking to be done here.

I may be around the blogoshere, but if I am, please nag at me to get my work done. It's time for Grasshopper to get busy. Apparently lectures don't write themselves and Snow White isn't stopping by to tidy up. Who knew?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Buddhist Barbie

by Denise Duhamel


In the 5th century B.C.
an Indian philosopher
Gautama teaches "All is emptiness"
and "There is no self."
In the 20th century A.D.
Barbie agrees, but wonders how a man
with such a belly could pose,
smiling, and without a shirt.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Vespers

by Louise Glück


In your extended absence, you permit me
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report
failure in my assignment, principally
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come
so often here, while other regions get
twelve weeks of summer. All this
belongs to you: on the other hand,
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of
that term. You who do not discriminate
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible
for these vines.

please note: art by Julius Guzy

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In The Night Orchard

by R. T. Smith

I know, because Paul has told me
a hundred times, that the deer
gliding tonight through tangleweed
and trashwood, then bounding across
Mount Atlas Road, are after his pears.

And who could blame them?
On the threshold of autumn, the Asian
imports, more amazing than any Seckle
or indigenous apple, start to ripen.
Then a passing crow will peck one open.

That's when the whitetails who bed
and gather beyond Matson's pasture
will catch the scent and begin to stir.
It's a dry time, and they go slowly mad
for sweetness. No fence can stop them.

The farmers like Paul will admit
it starts in hunger, but how suddenly
need goes to frenzy and sheer plunder.
When the blush-gold windfalls are gone
and the low boughs are stripped

of anything resembling bounty, bucks
will rise on their hind legs and clamber
up the trunks. Last week Cecil Emore
found one strangled in a fork,
his twisted antlers tangled as if

some hunter had hung him there
to cure. We all remember what it's like,
this driven season, this delirium
for something not yet given a name,
but the world turns us practical, tames

us to yearn for milder pleasures.
For Augustine, it was actual pears
that brought him out of the shadows
and over a wall, for Eve, the secret
inside what we now say was an apple.

Others have given up safety for less,
and I wonder, catching an eight-point
buck outlined on the ridge amid spruce,
if it's this moonstruck nature that renders
the ruminants beautiful, or if we stalk

them out of envy, not for the grace
of their gliding, but for the unadorned
instinct that draws them after dark
into trespass and the need to ruin
the sweetest thing they've ever known.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Presenting the Watercats...

...kind of like Peter, Paul and Mary, but Irish, and cooler, and without Paul.





MIND OF A MAGPIE

Mary with castanets
settles herself into the sand.
her mind humming with letters
And moments and songs.
She watches the ocean move,
Beats to the waves with her hands...
The sky is so endless
Along with her longing.


Settle down,
Let it move...
Settle down,
Let it soothe you..
Settle down,
Ain't that the truth?..
Settle down,
There's always tomorrow....


Yesterday her heart got broke
But it won't keep her from love,
She's got the soul of a sailor,
The mind of a magpie.
Perspective is hers for the taking,
She only views life from above..
Her skin is like summer,
She's always high..


She is content where she's at,
She could watch the horizons forever.
Salt stains her face
But she's always smiling...
Her tears are of wisdom and wit
Are never of sadness or temper..
She is the crest of the wave
We're all riding......

please note: art, Mary Magdalene by Anthony Frederick Sandys.