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