Friday, December 31, 2010


Going into the fix-'em-up brain factory this morning, hoping the census is low and a few of us can go home early. Or not...

Whatever the day brings, I plan to have a glass of bubbly in hand at midnight yelling out a welcome to the new year and a fare-thee-well to the old one. Wishing you and yours much joy and happiness in 2011.

Resolutions?...I may have to fine tune a bit, but the sentiment above seems okay with me!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

When I Am in the Kitchen

by Jeanne Marie Beaumont

I think about the past. I empty the ice-cube trays
crack crack cracking like bones, and I think
of decades of ice cubes and of John Cheever,
of Anne Sexton making cocktails, of decades
of cocktail parties, and it feels suddenly far
too lonely at my counter. Although I have on hooks
nearby the embroidered apron of my friend's
grandmother and one my mother made for me
for Christmas 30 years ago with gingham I had
coveted through my childhood. In my kitchen
I wield my great aunt's sturdy black-handled
soup ladle and spatula, and when I pull out
the drawer, like one in a morgue, I visit
the silverware of my husband's grandparents.
We never met, but I place this in my mouth
every day and keep it polished out of duty.
In the cabinets I find my godmother's
teapot, my mother's Cambridge glass goblets,
my mother-in-law's Franciscan plates, and here
is the cutting board my first husband parqueted
and two potholders I wove in grade school.
Oh the past is too much with me in the kitchen,
where I open the vintage metal recipe box,
robin's egg blue in its interior, to uncover
the card for Waffles, writ in my father's hand
reaching out from the grave to guide me
from the beginning, "sift and mix dry ingredients"
with his note that this makes "3 waffles in our
large pan" and around that our an unbearable
round stain—of egg yolk or melted butter?—
that once defined a world

please note: art by Vangobot

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26

by Kenn Nesbitt

A BB gun.
A model plane.
A basketball.
A ‘lectric train.
A bicycle.
A cowboy hat.
A comic book.
A baseball bat.
A deck of cards.
A science kit.
A racing car.
A catcher's mitt.
So that's my list
of everything
that Santa Claus
forgot to bring.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Toward the Winter Solstice

by Timothy Steele

Although the roof is just a story high,
It dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the rope of Christmas lights
And cast it to the weeping birch's crown;
A dowel into which I've screwed a hook
Enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
The cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
Will accent the tree's elegant design.

Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
And call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
Of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
We all are conscious of the time of year;
We all enjoy its colorful displays
And keep some festival that mitigates
The dwindling warmth and compass of the days.

Some say that L.A. doesn't suit the Yule,
But UPS vans now like magi make
Their present-laden rounds, while fallen leaves
Are gaily resurrected in their wake;
The desert lifts a full moon from the east
And issues a dry Santa Ana breeze,
And valets at chic restaurants will soon
Be tending flocks of cars and SUV's.

And as the neighborhoods sink into dusk
The fan palms scattered all across town stand
More calmly prominent, and this place seems
A vast oasis in the Holy Land.
This house might be a caravansary,
The tree a kind of cordial fountainhead
Of welcome, looped and decked with necklaces
And ceintures of green, yellow , blue, and red.

Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
It's comforting to look up from this roof
And feel that, while all changes, nothing's lost,
To recollect that in antiquity
The winter solstice fell in Capricorn
And that, in the Orion Nebula,
From swirling gas, new stars are being born.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In Winter

by Michael Ryan

At four o’clock it’s dark.
Today, looking out through dusk
at three gray women in stretch slacks
chatting in front of the post office,
their steps left and right and back
like some quick folk dance of kindness,
I remembered the winter we spent
crying in each other’s laps.
What could you be thinking at this moment?
How lovely and strange the gangly spines
of trees against a thickening sky
as you drive from the library
humming off-key? Or are you smiling
at an idea met in a book
the way you smiled with your whole body
the first night we talked?
I was so sure my love of you was perfect,
and the light today
reminded me of the winter you drove home
each day in the dark at four o’clock
and would come into my study to kiss me
despite mistake after mistake after mistake.

please note: photo art by Desert Vu.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Anniversary on the Island

by W.S.Merwin

The long waves glide in through the afternoon
while we watch from the island
from the cool shadow under the trees where the long ridge
a fold in the skirt of the mountain
runs down to the end of the headland

day after day we wake to the island
the light rises through the drops on the leaves
and we remember like birds where we are
night after night we touch the dark island
that once we set out for

and lie still at last with the island in our arms
hearing the leaves and the breathing shore
there are no years any more
only the one mountain
and on all sides the sea that brought us

Monday, December 20, 2010

Your Luck is About to Change

by Susan Elizabeth Howeby

Ominous inscrutable Chinese news
to get just before Christmas,
considering my reasonable health,
marriage spicy as moo-goo-gai-pan,
career running like a not-too-old Chevrolet.
Not bad, considering what can go wrong:
the bony finger of Uncle Sam
might point out my husband,
my own national guard,
and set him in Afghanistan;
my boss could take a personal interest;
the pain in my left knee could spread to my right.
Still, as the old year tips into the new,
I insist on the infant hope, gooing and kicking
his legs in the air. I won't give in
to the dark, the sub-zero weather, the fog,
or even the neighbors' Nativity.
Their four-year-old has arranged
his whole legion of dinosaurs
so they, too, worship the child,
joining the cow and sheep. Or else,
ultimate mortals, they've come to eat
ox and camel, Mary and Joseph,
then savor the newborn babe.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday in CinCity. The Pass the Zadroga Bill Edition. Please. And Forward It On.

Dear Senator Voinovich,

I am asking you to please reconsider a blind solidarity with the Republican Party and to vote the will of the American people and the citizens of Ohio on the Zadroga, 9/11 Bill now before the Senate.

It is nothing but wrong to disallow compensation and healthcare assistance to the men and women who worked tirelessly at the WTC site for months on end and who now suffer the consequences of the toxic materials distributed there.

Please honor those first responders who served our country in 2001 by assisting them in their time of need. Any more filibustering looks like exactly what it is--a silly, pathetic joke by folks who don't actually do the hard work at hand. I do not recall one senator pulling a dead body out of the rubble during that national tragedy. Your long speeches are not wanted here. Actual financial assistance is required.
Make it work and get it done.

Thank you for your time and thank you for a vote of support for first responders,

FaceBook has a site or you can easily Google your own state senator and be immediately connected to the website and email.

Included is a taste of what political guru Jon Stewart has to say. It ain't pretty, GOP.

Friday, December 17, 2010

TGIF. The Week Off Work Edition.

It's very quiet here this morning. HoneyHaired is at school taking her last exam of the quarter. Art History. Hubby's luxuriating in being back in bed after driving our grrrrl and the neighbor grrrrls to school this morning. It was my turn, but I bartered to drive extra shifts on a morning without so much snow and ice. I was thinking perhaps next summer.

Birds are chattering away at the bird feeders in our front yard and I see glimpses of a fat furry tail scampering across the outside of our living room window. This fall we had a mama and baby squirrel constructing an elaborate nest outside our kitchen window. The baby would come out in the evenings at dinnertime and peek in, lifting his little paw on the screen like a hello. I don't know if it was the workmen who came to fix the gutters or a forewarning of the bitter wind that comes in from that western exposure, but the squirrels moved their home from the back of the house to a front window box where I hope they're more protected.

I can see the lights on in the kitchen of the house across the street and up the hill from us. Soon their two little boys will be bundled in bright red and yellow coats and start whooping their way across the adventure that is their backyard.

I've had this past week off work and have enjoyed every second of staying in my oversized grey sweatpants with the big pockets. I am completely in love with these sweatpants. The week was slightly marred by the fact that my Occupational Health and Safety Workshop class had to give a presentation to the county's 44 fire chiefs about our survey project. And when I say "our group" I mean that out of the 5 of us only Joe and I worked on the Power Point and went to this meeting. I had no idea what to anticipate so I imagined something very formal with all the chiefs in their dress blues and being very judge-y. It, of course, was nothing like that. You're lucky if you can get them off their phones and Blackberry's for half a second. But it is done and I can almost relax.

I still have to work on IRB(Investigative Review Board)forms to modify the study and get approval, but IRB has not switched over the class members from last year to this year and I cannot get on to the protocol. I like to get things done, mostly because I'll forget about them, so this is like a loose thread that keeps flitting in your face every now and again.

Christmas shopping this year has been mostly online. I like to buy local, but haven't really had the time. I don't think I've shared this yet, but HoneyHaired was accepted to college--Urban Planning. That was a big celebration here and a sigh of relief. I wandered all around the east and west campuses of the university a few days ago to find a Tshirt from DAAP(Design, Art, Architecture & Planning)as a stocking stuffer for her. I may have paid more in parking than for the actual Tshirt and I should mark on the calendar the first of many, many checks to them.

So, there's my life in a nutshell these past few weeks. I'm patiently sitting here with my coffee, wrapping paper and tape awaiting FedEx and the mailman to bring boxes and boxes of goodies to me. In the meantime I found a recipe for Caraway Citrus Mustard to give as gifts and to use on pork loin or ham sandwiches. I think I'll try it out and catch up on all The Good Wife episodes I've missed this quarter. Wishing a very blessed Advent to you all...

Walking Beside a Creek

by Ted Kooser

Walking beside a creek
in December, the black ice
windy with leaves,
you can feel the great joy
of the trees, their coats
thrown open like drunken men,
the lifeblood thudding
in their tight, wet boots.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Emily Dickinson's To-Do List

by Andrea Carlisle

Figure out what to wear—white dress?
Put hair in bun
Bake gingerbread for Sue
Peer out window at passersby
Write poem
Hide poem

White dress? Off-white dress?
Feed cats
Chat with Lavinia
Work in garden
Letter to T.W.H.

White dress or what?
Eavesdrop on visitors from behind door
Write poem
Hide poem

Try on new white dress
Gardening—watch out for narrow fellows in grass!
Gingerbread, cakes, treats
Poems: Write and hide them

Embroider sash for white dress
Write poetry
Water flowers on windowsill
Hide everything

Monday, December 6, 2010

Missoula in a Dusty Light

by John Haines

Walking home through the tall
Montana twilight,
leaves were moving in the gutters
and a little dust...

I saw beyond the roofs and chimneys
a cloud like a hill of smoke,
amber and dirty grey. And a wind
began from the street corners
and rutted alleys,
out of year-end gardens, weed lots
and trash bins;
the yellow air
came full of specks and ash,
noiseless, crippled things that crashed
and flew again...
grit and the smell of rain.
And then a steady sound,
as if an army or a council,
long-skirted, sweeping the stone,
were gathering near;
disinherited and vengeful people,
scuffing their bootheels,
rolling tin cans before them.

And quieter still behind them
the voices of birds
and whispering brooms:
"This Land
has bitter roots, and seeds
that crack and spill in the wind..."

I halted under a blowing light
to listen, to see;
and it was the bleak Montana wind
sweeping the leaves and dust
along the street.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010


by Joseph Stroud

Everywhere, everywhere, snow sifting down,
a world becoming white, no more sounds,
no longer possible to find the heart of the day,
the sun is gone, the sky is nowhere, and of all
I wanted in life – so be it – whatever it is
that brought me here, chance, fortune, whatever
blessing each flake of snow is the hint of, I am
grateful, I bear witness, I hold out my arms,
palms up, I know it is impossible to hold
for long what we love of the world, but look
at me, is it foolish, shameful, arrogant to say this,
see how the snow drifts down, look how happy
I am.

please note: photo art by minimanjapan

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Woe to Wednesday

"Freddie experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness

which afflicts one of Tolstoy's Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day's work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city's reservoir, he turns to the cupboards, only to find the vodka bottle empty."

— P.G. Wodehouse
please note: above photo, Hugh Laurie. 'nuf said.

Carry on, Jeeves...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday in CinCity. The Oldies Version.

Cruising with the Beach Boys

by Dana Gioia

So strange to hear that song again tonight
Travelling on business in a rented car
Miles from anywhere I've been before.
And now a tune I haven't heard for years
Probably not since it last left the charts
Back in L.A. in 1969.
I can't believe I know the words by heart
And can't think of a girl to blame them on.

Every lovesick summer has its song,
And this one I pretended to despise,
But if I was alone when it came on,
I turned it up full-blast to sing along –
A primal scream in croaky baritone,
The notes all flat, the lyrics mostly slurred.
No wonder I spent so much time alone
Making the rounds in Dad's old Thunderbird.

Some nights I drove down to the beach to park
And walk along the railings of the pier.
The water down below was cold and dark,
The waves monotonous against the shore.
The darkness and the mist, the midnight sea,
The flickering lights reflected from the city –
A perfect setting for a boy like me,
The Cecil B. DeMille of my self-pity.

I thought by now I'd left those nights behind,
Lost like the girls that I could never get,
Gone with the years, junked with the old T-Bird.
But one old song, a stretch of empty road,
Can open up a door and let them fall
Tumbling like boxes from a dusty shelf,
Tightening my throat for no reason at all
Bringing on tears shed only for myself.

I'm not sure if this song is from 1969 or not. I don't know your tastes, but there's only so much Beach Boys I can take in the morning before an entire cup of coffee. Hubby loves them. Me, not so much, even back in the 60's. I was always leaning more toward Motown and the old R&B singers. Now those surfer boys have a bittersweetness about them; singing about a time that never really existed except in our longings, which really makes it more real than anything.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday in CinCity

please note: photo by kyfirefighter on flickr

Thanksgiving has come and gone and my refrigerator and I are stuffed to the gills. I went off the skids this year; tried new recipes for the turkey and stuffing--Maple Glazed and Bourbon/Bacon. Both turned out surprisingly to be quite good. Even after the effects of the bourbon tasting had worn off. CollegeGrrrrl was only able to be home--actually in the house she was raised in--for about 5 minutes after visiting her grandmother in Indiana because of the horrible driving conditions and multiple weathermen threatening us with snow and icy roads. That was very disappointing for all of us and we owe her a dinner. She was here long enough for me to pack up some stuffing and rolls for her, but the turkey had just come out of the oven and was way too hot to carve. Protein is way overrated, though, and we do love our carbs here in the Distracted household.

Cleared the table, divided food into Gladware and, utilizing very precise equations of physics, squished it all into the fridge. It now has yellow CAUTION tape over the door. Got the dishes half done/half soaking just in time to watch Charlie Brown and get ready for bed. Worked the next day, but not too much drama for dayshift. Multiple strokes were being called up as we were heading out the doors.

We did not look back.

I'd like to be shopping at my local stores up on Ludlow

for Small Business Saturday, but my wallet and the firefighter paper due on Tuesday disagree. They apparently are not givers like I am. Maybe, though, if I stop blogging, and don't look at FaceBook, I could get my homework done and just go up to a take a little tiny peek at the store windows. There can be no harm in that, right?? Right??...

oooohhhh, and now I'm hungry again. And my cuppa coffee's empty. I'll be there Firefighter Paper. I'm getting started. Stop pressuring me!!! :>)

Flying at Night

by Ted Kooser

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.

please note: photo by John Curley on flickr

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A List of Praises

by Anne Porter

Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing,
Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches,
Mad with the joy of the Sabbath,
Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun,
Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes,
A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry
living wild on the Streets through generations of children.

Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away
With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle
As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning,
Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh
Of the wind in the pinewoods,
At night give praise with starry silences.

Give praise with the skirling of seagulls
And the rattle and flap of sails
And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell
Out in the shipping-lanes beyond the harbor.
Give praise with the humpback whales,
Huge in the ocean they sing to one another.

Give praise with the rasp and sizzle of crickets, katydids and cicadas,
Give praise with hum of bees,
Give praise with the little peepers who live near water.
When they fill the marsh with a shimmer of bell-like cries
We know that the winter is over.

Give praise with mockingbirds, day's nightingales.
Hour by hour they sing in the crepe myrtle
And glossy tulip trees
On quiet side streets in southern towns.

Give praise with the rippling speech
Of the eider-duck and her ducklings
As they paddle their way downstream
In the red-gold morning
On Restiguche, their cold river,
Salmon river,
Wilderness river.

Give praise with the whitethroat sparrow.
Far, far from the cities,
Far even from the towns,
With piercing innocence
He sings in the spruce-tree tops,
Always four notes
And four notes only.

Give praise with water,
With storms of rain and thunder
And the small rains that sparkle as they dry,
And the faint floating ocean roar
That fills the seaside villages,
And the clear brooks that travel down the mountains

And with this poem, a leaf on the vast flood,
And with the angels in that other country.

please note: art by Jim Proctor
and because I can't resist...

...much happiness to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

After We Saw What There Was to See

by Lawrence Raab

After we saw what there was to see
we went off to buy souvenirs, and my father
waited by the car and smoked. He didn't need
a lot of things to remind him where he'd been.
Why do you want so much stuff?
he might have asked us. "Oh, Ed," I can hear
my mother saying, as if that took care of it.

After she died I don't think he felt any reason
to go back through all those postcards, not to mention
the glossy booklets about the Singing Tower
and the Alligator Farm, the painted ashtrays
and lucite paperweights, everything we carried home
and found a place for, then put away
in boxes, then shoved far back in our closets.

He'd always let my mother keep track of the past,
and when she was gone—why should that change?
Why did I want him to need what he'd never needed?
I can see him leaning against our yellow Chrysler
in some parking lot in Florida or Maine.
It's a beautiful cloudless day. He glances at his watch,
lights another cigarette, looks up at the sky.

please note: "See 7 states from Rock City, Tennessee!" on Lookout Mountain.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sundays in CinCity

It’s Sunday Morning in Early November

by Philip Schultz

and there are a lot of leaves already.
I could rake and get a head start.
The boy's summer toys need to be put
in the basement. I could clean it out
or fix the broken storm window.
When Eli gets home from Sunday school,
I could take him fishing. I don't fish
but I could learn to. I could show him
how much fun it is. We don't do as much
as we used to do. And my wife, there's
so much I haven't told her lately,
about how quickly my soul is aging,
how it feels like a basement I keep filling
with everything I'm tired of surviving.
I could take a walk with my wife and try
to explain the ghosts I can't stop speaking to.
Or I could read all those books piling up
about the beginning of the end of understanding...
Meanwhile, it's such a beautiful morning,
the changing colors, the hypnotic light.
I could sit by the window watching the leaves,
which seem to know exactly how to fall
from one moment to the next. Or I could lose
everything and have to begin over again.

please note: photo by Richard Longden

It's a windy and warm day here in CinCity. Good day for walking the dog who has been up at the lake for a week with hubby and now has much sniffing and peeing to do around the neighborhood. Gotta catch up on all the doggie news fit to be sniffed. He is now exhausted, sleeping and snoring. I am trying to get through a third course in a required educational offering by and for the Investigative Review Board. It's what everyone must get through in order to be involved in any manner of data collecting in a research study. Each course has modules and this one has a repetitive sixteen. My eyes might be permanently glazed.

However, by happenstance, went to a lecture about two weeks ago from a childhood concentration camp survivor of the "twin studies" carried out by Dr. Mengele at Auschwitz. If she can survive that, surely I can read and test for ethical behavior in research. She lives in Terra Haute, Indiana now. I'll have to find that paperwork and pass on her website and museum information.

Honeyhaired and I went to the art museum yesterday

to see the Gainesborough Modern Woman exhibit and also the wedding gown collection on the other side of the balcony. Always a nice place to go to clear the cobwebs out...

Now trying to decide on dinner. I don't know, salmon? And couscous with some roasted asparagus? Leftover Halloween candy and an old wilted salad in the refridgerator? Both sound tasty.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday in CinCity

Make Each Day Count

by Michael Chitwood

On the way to the memorial service
it started to snow,
blanking our view of the moon's afternoon ghost,
cold clock so white it was blue.

The speakers' voices caught.
They had to pause to continue.
Beneath the lauds,
the talk of deep friendship
and a life well-lived,
we heard the rasp
of the maintenance crew's shovels,
having had to come in on a Saturday.

please note: art by Dan Bush

Friday, November 19, 2010


mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, you know what I'm saying...a tasty Friday night treat.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Don't Worry. Be Happy.

Just wanted to mention I'm still here buzzing around. Worked the weekend. The usual--an undocumented Hispanic worker with traumatic brain injury from head vs baseball bat and a found down X 24hrs with an intracerebral hemorrhage and heroin abuse. Had an early meeting this morning with one of the fire chiefs of a neighboring township to go over survey questions for a study on "near-misses" and I'm trying to read up tonight for a get-together tomorrow with members of a potential research project I might work with--heat stress in fire fighters.

I may be able to get funding to go full-time in the spring, but I still need to work my 36hrs/week and I carry the medical insurance, so I like to wake up at 3 or 4 o'clock in the mornings and see if I can make the puzzle pieces fall into place. So far they have not.

I don't have to go full time, though it would be very, very nice to have tuition paid for. I'm trying to rationalize 15 credit hours as working overtime. ahhhhhhhh, something will work out. Or, not. I'll tell you one thing--it's nice to have options.

HoneyHaired has been working on college applications and CollegeGrrrl is looking at military options once she's out of school and is an RN. Time does move on...
...unless you have a basement full of old magazines and/or watch Mad Men 24/7. Then, it's 1960's 4ever.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday in CinCity

by Patricia Fargnoli

Should the Fox Come Again to My Cabin in the Snow

Then, the winter will have fallen all in white
and the hill will be rising to the north,
the night also rising and leaving,
dawn light just coming in, the fire out.

Down the hill running will come that flame
among the dancing skeletons of the ash trees.
I will leave the door open for him.

please note: art by kjhayler

Friday, November 12, 2010


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.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday in CinCity

Assignment #1: Write a Poem about Baseball and God

by Philip E. Burnham, Jr

And on the ninth day, God
In His infinite playfulness
Grass green grass, sky blue sky,
Separated the infield from the outfield,
Formed a skin of clay,
Assigned bases of safety
On cardinal points of the compass
Circling the mountain of deliverance,
Fashioned a wandering moon
From a horse, a string and a gum tree,
Tempered weapons of ash,
Made gloves from the golden skin of sacrificial bulls,
Set stars alight in the Milky Way,
Divided the descendants of Cain and Abel into contenders,
Declared time out, time in, stepped back,
And thundered over all of creation:
"Play ball!"

Friday, November 5, 2010



by Jeffrey Harrison

It's a gift, this cloudless November morning
warm enough for you to walk without a jacket
along your favorite path. The rhythmic shushing
of your feet through fallen leaves should be
enough to quiet the mind, so it surprises you
when you catch yourself telling off your boss
for a decade of accumulated injustices,
all the things you've never said circling inside you.

It's the rising wind that pulls you out of it,
and you look up to see a cloud of leaves
swirling in sunlight, flickering against the blue
and rising above the treetops, as if the whole day
were sighing, Let it go, let it go,
for this moment at least, let it all go.

Monday, November 1, 2010


by Cindy Gregg

On this first day of November
it is cold as a cave,
the sky the color
of neutral third parties.
I am cutting carrots
for the chicken soup.
Knife against carrot
again and again
sends a plop of pennies
into the pan.
These cents,
when held to the gray light,
hold no noble president,
only stills
of some kaleidoscope
caught being pensive...
and beautiful,
in the eye of this beholder,
who did not expect
this moment of marvel
while making an early supper
for the hungry children.

please note: art by John Atkinson Grimshaw

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Song of the Witches

by William Shakespeare

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Much to be done today.

My own little witch is having friends over for a birthday/Halloween get-together, so room needs to cleared for 5 not-so-little-anymore little girls to run around. And before that a birthday lunch with Grandma PP and Auntie DD. We are vacuuming and baking and moving piles of very important, yet unread, papers from one site to another. And the dog follows diligently behind me shedding more hair to make up for its loss in the carpet.

Hope your Hallowed Eves is spooky and that you are handing out better treats than lizard legs.

nice kiddie, kiddie, kiddies...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday in CinCity. The Much Needed Coffee and Cleaning All Day Edition.

aThe Gospel of the Gospel

by Michael Chitwood

And the prophet said: "Let not your heart
dwell in sadness, but be glad in the day."
The word used for heart has two translations:
One is as a door through which a blue sky
over white-washed stone steps can be glimpsed
and the other has to do with a kind of clearing
in a forest of hemlock and white pine.
Sadness references the turning-inward look
of a shy child in a roomful of strangers.
Glad has a connotation of the same weight
and earthiness of certain flower bulbs
that can lie dormant or be transported
great distances in their dry drowse
and then brought to blossom when replanted.
The phrase "in the day" is a guess, but a good guess,
given that time passed then as now.

Friday, October 29, 2010


All I can say is I rarely drink, and had two glasses of wine the minute I walked in the door...
Merlot and Fritos=fruits and vegetables, yes??

A Blessing

by Ken Hada

After three days of hard fishing
we lean against the truck
untying boots, removing waders.

We change in silence still feeling
the rhythm of cold water lapping
thankful for that last shoal of rainbows
to sooth the disappointment
of missing a trophy brown.

We'll take with us the communion
of rod and line and bead-head nymphs
sore shoulders and wrinkled feet.

A good tiredness claims us
from slipping over rocks, pushing rapids –
sunup to sundown – sneaking
toward a target, eyes squinting
casting into winter wind.

We case the rods, load our bags
and start to think about dinner.
None of us wants to leave.
None wants to say goodbye.

Winter shadows touch the river cane.
The cold is coming. We look up
into a cobalt sky, and there,
as if an emissary on assignment,
a Bald Eagle floats overhead
close enough to bless us
then swiftly banks sunward
and is gone.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Don't Touch Anything..."

What a crappy weekend. The aggravating half of it was playing waitress to two floor patients without beds on the floor to transfer them to. Two patients who both need to be fed a total of six meals within eight hours. I didn't even feed my own kids that much. Mr. P. basically needed a bath after each meal cause he's a helper and wants to feed himself faster than the speed of light. Unfortunately his help ended up all over the bed, the floor, his gown, his hair... And the docs, knowing that these patients are floor borders in an ICU take full advantage of that, constantly spitting out STAT orders from some secret, undisclosed location, never talking with the nurses and each order contradicts the orders already written.

I'm not even going to mention other bodily functions and the fact that each patient is well over 200 lbs., or the fact that their visitors did not understand the concept of a garbage can, or a call light, and are unable to grasp the technology of a remote control for the television. By all means, call me in from whatever else I'm doing to change the channel for you, Mr. Visitor. In the ICU we have no other help, no aides, so it's you and your assignment; good freakin' luck with that.

The tragic half of the weekend was the 21yo brought in with a gunshot wound to the head from an AK-47. His nurse was young, wanting to fix this and wanting the family to be happy. There's no fixing to be done. I hope she goes to see her mom today and gets TLC for her bruised heart.

I plan to walk today, commune with God a bit, read about firefighter injuries and fatalities for a meeting tomorrow with one of the township fire chiefs for our class project on near-miss surveys. And the class lecture on Wednesday is occupational dermatitis. I assume they mean Cooties. So there is reading to be done. I'll keep the news off and perhaps put Mad Men on. No weapons there, just cases among cases of good old-fashioned booze.

Friday evening HoneyHaired and I went to the ballet, Sleeping Beauty, at the historic Music Hall with the ballet orchestra playing--always a treat. As a huge fan of the Disney classics and Little Golden Books of the 1960's, I loved, loved, loved, loved, loved Sleeping Beauty. In fact, one of the reasons I love my neighborhood are the three little Flora, Fauna and Merriweather houses up the street. When I had two baby girls we watched the video frequently and know the music by heart.

Here is the same piece of music, different interpretations and luscious both ways--

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Thing Is

by Ellen Bass

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

please note: photo by chloe_cheng

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

After School on Wednesday in CinCity

I have a few moments to collect my thoughts this afternoon before picking up Miss HoneyHaired, so thought I'd share.

School seems to be going well. I'm pretty happy as a clam, though I wouldn't mind winning the lottery and taking one or two more classes each week and working one or two days less each week.

Our class today was about occupational infectious diseases, including those spread by animals and animal contact. You know, it's a damn wonder mankind ever propagated and survived generation after generation given all the bugs and viruses afoot. Almost makes me fearful of the little squirrel family which has built a rather intricate nest on the outside sill of our kitchen window. They carry all kinds of bad bacteria and ticks and fleas. So we shall only wave to the little baby squirrel who likes to look in around dinnertime and raises his little paws. No air kisses.

Yesterday's class was Occupational Health Workshop and involves actual research, meant to get the students acquainted with designing survey questions, setting up focus groups and getting data returned. This class is centered on firefighters. Determining their understanding of cardiovascular risks, how to better get out information of cardiovescular risks, and designing a process to report "near miss" incidents and maintaining absolute confidentiality. So, for me, it's been a blast and really interesting.

Kind of waiting for a shoe to drop and finding out this was a huge expensive mistake, but so far, so good. I won't look too hard. If there's trouble around it usually makes itself known.

Still is sunny and beautiful here. Hubby and I have taken to walking in Spring Grove Cemetery a couple of times a week. There are three walking trails there: 1 mile, 2 miles and 3.5 miles. Last week we tried the 3.5 mile trail and somehow got off-course turning it into a much longer jaunt. I was so happy to see a familiar tombstone! Might get up and take a walk today, but Hubby's gone and I have plenty to do around the house, and actually, I wouldn't mind reading a little bit about the Tudors--C.J.Sansom style and taking a nap. The nap is looking better and better...

please note: art by John Agnew

After School on Ordinary Days

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

After school on ordinary days we listened
to The Shadow and The Lone Ranger
as we gathered around the tabletop radio
that was always kept on the china cabinet
built into the wall in that tenement kitchen,
a china cabinet that held no china, except
thick and white and utilitarian,
cups and saucers, poor people's cups
from the 5 & 10 cents store.
My mother was always home
from Ferraro's Coat factory
by the time we walked in the door
after school on ordinary days,
and she'd give us milk with Bosco in it
and cookies she'd made that weekend.
The three of us would crowd around the radio,
listening to the voices that brought a wider world
into our Paterson apartment. Later

we'd have supper at the kitchen table,
the house loud with our arguments
and laughter. After supper on ordinary
days, our homework finished, we'd play
monopoly or gin rummy, the kitchen
warmed by the huge coal stove, the wind
outside rattling the loose old windows,
we inside, tucked in, warm and together,
on ordinary days that we didn't know
until we looked back across a distance
of forty years would glow and shimmer
in memory's flickering light.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Dark Figure in the Doorway

by Morton Marcus

Wearing a silken silver gown,
the little princess
is staring at us
from the foreground
of the painting.
As if on stage,
she is brightly lit,
surrounded by dwarfs,
and a recumbent hound,
and resembles a doll
placed in the middle
of her entourage.
Behind her to her right,
near a large canvas
whose back is toward us,
the painter, Velazquez,
stands half in shadow,
palette in one hand,
brush in the other,
while behind her
to her left, a nun
leans toward a courtier,
about to speak. On
the rear wall: paintings,
large canvases, hang,
almost obscured
by darkness, and a mirror
reflects the presence
of the king and queen
who must be observing
the scene from the same place
we do, as if they (or we)
are an audience
at a formal family event.
But, no, the painter
is standing in
the wrong place
to paint the scene.
Do you see it now?
It's the king and queen
who are being painted,
and the princess
and her entourage
are the audience
watching mama
and papa pose
for Señor Velazquez,
a clever ploy
which confuses
subject and viewer,
since we are standing
in the very spot
the royal couple
occupy, and see
what they do,
not what the painter
possibly can—
a post-modern
bit of fun devised
centuries before
the modern age
will have begun.

That ruse, however,
is not the reason I return
to this 10 foot painting
time and again. No,
it's the doorway cut
into the rear wall,
beside the mirror.
Flooded with light,
it illuminates
a dark figure
standing on the stairs.
He is about to leave
or enter—it's not clear
which. He is half-turned,
looking back into the room
toward us, or rather
toward the king and queen,
and it seems important,
more important
than anything
in the picture, whether
he is departing
or arriving,
as if the painting's
hinges on this point.
I can't say why.
Maybe because everyone
depicted is so still,
every object in its place,
and the only tension
is whether he leaves
or enters from the world
beyond the painting.
He is the dark figure
in the doorway,
the one who imbues
a work of art
with meaning
beyond itself
Even the painter
and his clever ruse
are less important
than this messenger,
this intermediary
who carries the scene
as witness between
two worlds, the one
created by the painter's
skill and imagination
and the other
what the viewer
takes of it
into his daily life.

The little princess
will marry
the Emperor of Austria
ten years later,
when she is fifteen,
and will die at twenty-two.
The king and queen
will leave a halfwit heir,
who will die soon after,
and with them all
the Spanish Golden Age
will sink into oblivion.
But like the figure
in the doorway,
we hesitate today,
caught between yesterday
and tomorrow, aware
as never before
that we stand with one foot
in the painting
and one foot out,
sure only of this moment
when we look into the room
where the king and queen
pose for the painter
who stands with his back
toward us,
as do the doll-like princess
and her entourage,
and at our backs
we hear the laughter
and curses on the street,
while scattered around us
like stars at night
or the sunlit dust motes
of our afternoons
are all those possibilities
of who we were
and could have been
and one day
might become.

please note: art by Diego Velazquez(click on the portrait if you wish to enlarge)

Friday, October 15, 2010


The Elusive Something

by Charles Simic

Was it in the smell of freshly baked bread
That came out to meet me in the street?
The face of a girl carrying a white dress
From the cleaners with her eyes half closed?

The sight of a building blackened by fire
Where once I went to look for work?
The toothless old man passing out leaflets
For a clothing store going out of business?

Or was it the woman pushing a baby carriage
About to turn the corner? I ran after,
As if the little one lying in it was known to me,
And found myself alone on a busy street

I didn't recognize, feeling like someone
Out for the first time after a long illness,
Who sees the world with his heart,
Then hurries home to forget how it felt.

please note: art by Amanda Cass

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

misión cumplida chile

A Light Left On

by May Sarton

In the evening we came back
Into our yellow room,
For a moment taken aback
To find the light left on,
Falling on silent flowers,
Table, book, empty chair
While we had gone elsewhere,
Had been away for hours.

When we came home together
We found the inside weather.
All of our love unended
The quiet light demanded,
And we gave, in a look
At yellow walls and open book.
The deepest world we share
And do not talk about
But have to have, was there,
And by that light found out.

Welcome home, gentlemen.


by Marcia Popp

i broke a vase at my great-grandfather's house when i was five here come sit on my lap
he said don't feel bad about that vase i didn't like it anyway you helped me get rid of it i
knew better but let him comfort me while i felt secretly bad inside did you know that my
own mother said i was her worst boy no i said that can't be true oh yes he said and she was
right i made accidents happen all the time i didn't really mean to do bad things they just
came upon me when i wasn't paying attention when i was five my brother and i chased the
goose in the barnyard until it fell over dead we propped her up in the fence so she would
appear to be interested in the grass on the other side what happened my father noticed
that the goose did not move all day we got spanked should i get spanked too for the vase
not in my house he said.