Thursday, September 30, 2010

...the road gods beckoned...

by Matsuo Basho

Days and months are travellers of eternity. So are the years that pass by. Those who steer a boat across the sea, or drive a horse over the earth till they succumb to the weight of years, spend every minute of their lives travelling. There are a great number of ancients, too, who died on the road. I myself have been tempted for a long time by the cloud-moving wind — filled with a strong desire to wander.
It was only towards the end of last autumn that I returned from rambling along the coast. I barely had time to sweep the cobwebs from my broken house on the River Sumida before the New Year, but no sooner had the spring mist begun to rise over the field than I wanted to be on the road again to cross the barrier-gate of Shirakawa in due time. The gods seem to have possessed my soul and turned it inside out, and roadside images seemed to invite me from every corner, so that it was impossible for me to stay idle at home. Even while I was getting ready, mending my torn trousers, tying a new strap to my hat, and applying moxa to my legs to strengthen them, I was already dreaming of the full moon rising over the islands of Matsushima. Finally, I sold my house, moving to the cottage of Sampû for a temporary stay. Upon the threshold of my old home, however, I wrote a linked verse of eight pieces and hung it on a wooden pillar. The starting piece was:

Behind this door
Now buried in deep grass,
A different generation will celebrate
The Festival of Dolls.

please note: photo by Michael Yamashita

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Return of Odysseus

by George Bilgere

When Odysseus finally does get home
he is understandably upset about the suitors,
who have been mooching off his wife for twenty years,
drinking his wine, eating his mutton, etc.

In a similar situation today he would seek legal counsel.
But those were different times. With the help
of his son Telemachus he slaughters roughly
one hundred and ten suitors
and quite a number of young ladies,
although in view of their behavior
I use the term loosely. Rivers of blood
course across the palace floor.

I too have come home in a bad mood.
Yesterday, for instance, after the department meeting,
when I ended up losing my choice parking spot
behind the library to the new provost.

I slammed the door. I threw down my book bag
in this particular way I have perfected over the years
that lets my wife understand
the contempt I have for my enemies,
which is prodigious. And then with great skill
she built a gin and tonic
that would have pleased the very gods,
and with epic patience she listened
as I told her of my wrath, and of what I intended to do
to so-and-so, and also to what's-his-name.

And then there was another gin and tonic
and presently my wrath abated and was forgotten,
and peace came to reign once more
in the great halls and courtyards of my house.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday in CinCity

Theories of Time and Space

by Natasha Trethewey

You can get there from here, though
there's no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you've never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one-
by-one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion – dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches

in a sky threatening rain. Cross over
the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand

dumped on the mangrove swamp – buried
terrain of the past. Bring only

what you must carry – tome of memory,
its random blank pages. On the dock

where you board the boat for Ship Island,
someone will take your picture:

the photograph – who you were—
will be waiting when you return.

Back to CinCity.

I will not even begin to estimate the time I have taken simply to try to get access to my required readings off of a modern invention of torture called BlackBoard. I was starting to take it all personally and feeling blacklisted when a fellow student informed me the course name and ID number had been changed and the professor had to manually add him on. Wish I had known that before I went to the Medical School library only to find out NONE of the articles or journals are there.
Oh, for the days of the mimeograph machine. I would gladly kiss one right now if it would give me a copy of any of the assignments, even the boring one about setting up a hearing loss testing clinic in the workplace. yawn....

And so goes my first week of school. Not being able to get assignments off BlackBoard is a big obstacle. Apparently it's a little like the wizard in Oz. All powerful and all knowing.

Now that I have wasted a huge portion of my day chasing my tail, I'm up to wash dishes, fold clothes, clean bathrooms. Then and only then will I come back to the computer and read the articles that my fellow student and new BFF emailed over to me. The first of four being "The Chronological History of Occupational Medicine." I think it goes a little something like...employers place their workers in unsafe working conditions and then the public finds out about it and the unions have a hissy fit and then the employer takes the jobs to a third world country where they expose the workers to unsafe working conditions. Too cynical, you think?? :>) Sorry. It's my new persona. From our new all black scrubs at work. It's good for my coloring and emphasizes my eyes, but brings out the Darth Vader in me.

However, in light of the big and beautiful full moon that many of my blogging friends have written about and captured in photos, let me leave you with a little Harvest Moon tribute that can soothe souls.

please note: photo by Jason Langley, and that lighting was actually a full moon in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Summer Ends

by Wendell Berry


The summer ends, and it is time
To face another way. Our theme
Reversed, we harvest the last row
To store against the cold, undo
The garden that will be undone.
We grieve under the weakened sun
To see all earth's green fountains dried,
And fallen all the works of light.
You do not speak, and I regret
This downfall of the good we sought
As though the fault were mine. I bring
The plow to turn the shattering
Leaves and bent stems into the dark,
From which they may return. At work,
I see you leaving our bright land,
The last cut flowers in your hand.

please note: photo by Maurits Van Wyk

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday in CinCity

My grad school classes begin this week. Occupational Health Illnesses and Injuries to kick it off. Maybe some rotator cuff disabilities from stickin' it to The Man. And alcoholism cause I've watched Mad Men long enough to know there's no getting through those days without a drink or ten. CollegeGrrrl and I were in the bank a week or so ago and overheard a PhD. candidate discussing his research on Violence Against Drug Dealers. I see opportunity for a guest lecturer promoting helmets and kevlar. Or, maybe not. And, I suspect there will be less halcyon days of the college campus photo above and more of the schlepping through the campus below.

Little nervous. Not certain that I can take notes again and study, study, study, but we'll see what happens.

OctoberFest this weekend in CinCity where the Chicken Dance is king. HoneyHaired and I are off to the ballet to see New Works, where local choreographers showcase their work, often with local musicians. The video below is from last year. Choreography Heather Britt, music Peter Adams. Hope your weekends are equally as entertaining, and I hope chickens are involved.

Ideal Cities

by Erika Meitner

Ideal cities are cities where the neighbors
play soul music all night long & don't care

who they bother because who doesn't like Holy Ghost
or Loose Booty? Ideal cities have at least one drunk lady

outside the liquor store mornings, who asks you to hold
her cigarette so she can lean in to touch your baby.

In ideal cities, the pharmacist knows your prescriptions
by heart. In ideal cities your neighbor sells pot to the cops

for a living, though you've never seen him do it & most days
he wears a caftan to glue rhinestones on the cement frogs

in his yard. On trash night in ideal cities your other neighbors
swap stories in the alleys. Ideal cities

have margins that aren't pretty or bleak
and are without proper representation

but have no grievances. My ideal city
has a wish list written on the back

of an envelope scrap, an ATM slip.
My ideal city is peripheral and claims

uneven sidewalks. In the ideal city
my neighbor is a taxi driver.

My neighbor is at sea.
My neighbor thinks

his house is haunted
while his wife's away

on business. My neighbor
gives a robber a glass

of Chateau Malescot St-Exupéry
and a hug. In the ideal city my neighbors

are a multi-generational
family & one guy

who puts chairs
in the street

to save a spot
for our moving truck.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


by Valerie Martínez

Turn it over and look up
into the sphere of heaven.
The tracery is lucent,
light seeping through to write,
white-ink your face, upturned.

Swing it below
and it's a cradle of blue water,
the sea, a womb.
A mixing bowl
for Babylonian gods.
Here, they whirl up the cosmos.

Pick it up and your hands
form a pedestal,
and all who drink
contain the arcs
of body and the universe—
and between them,

no imaginable tear or distance.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Suicide is Painless...

Well, another weekend of work done and over. Another weekend of spontaneous head bleeds from ruptured blood vessels, fall down drunkards with expanding brain bruises crowding and pushing one side towards the other, and self-inflicted gun shot wounds to the head. Actually, less of a wound as much as the kind of massive injury that a 9mm can inflict on soft tissue.

So, a quiet morning at home listening to the dog snore and the wind loosening the leaves from their seasonal lodgings. Our old, now crazy, cat is walking around the first floor howling while we keep reminding her that come on, we're over here, sitting on the couch. Hubby's on the phone with the utilities company trying to sort out a bill and rooting through his espionage defying file of "Important Papers."

Second cup of coffee is still warm and delicious next to me and I'm soon to check my university email to see if I have any important updates before school starts next week. I haven't seen any list of required texts yet. Maybe the sticker price is so steep that they prefer to tell you in person. With smelling salts. My daughters believe the lateness is planned so you have to buy the book immediately at the university bookstore and don't have time to search around for a cheaper version. Quite the crafty minxes.

I'm trying to tuck away the memory of my patient's swollen and unrecognizable face, but instead find myself wondering through the morning's rituals how his wife will ever be able to go back to their home.

A Morning In Autumn

by W.S. Merwin

Here late into September
I can sit with the windows
of the stone room swung open
to the plum branches still green
above the two fields bare now
fresh-plowed under the walnuts
and watch the screen of ash trees
and the river below them

and listen to the hawk's cry
over the misted valley
beyond the shoulder of woods
and to lambs in a pasture
on the slope and a chaffinch
somewhere down in the sloe hedge
and silence from the village
behind me and from the years

and can hear the light rain come
the note of each drop playing
into the stone by the sill
I come slowly to hearing
then all at once too quickly
for surprise I hear something
and think I remember it
and will know it afterward

in a few days I will be
a year older one more year
a year farther and nearer
and with no sound from there on
mute as the native country
that was never there again
now I hear walnuts falling
in the country I came to

please note: art by Woodhull Adams

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What People Give You

by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

Long-faced irises. Mums.
Pink roses and white roses
and giant sunflowers,
and hundreds of daisies.

Fruit baskets with muscular pears,
and water crackers and tiny jams
and the steady march of casseroles.
And money,
people give money these days.

Cards, of course:
the Madonna, wise
and sad just for you,
Chinese cherry blossoms,
sunsets and moonscapes,
and dragonflies for transcendence.

People stand by your sink
and offer up their pain:
Did you know I lost a baby once,
or My eldest son was killed,
or My mother died two months ago.

People are good.

They file into your cartoon house until it bows at the seams;
they give you every
except your daughter back.

Monday, September 6, 2010


by Sandra Beasley

For six months I dealt Baccarat in a casino.
For six months I played Brahms in a mall.
For six months I arranged museum dioramas;
my hands were too small for the Paleolithic
and when they reassigned me to lichens, I quit.
I type ninety-one words per minute, all of them
Help. Yes, I speak Dewey Decimal.
I speak Russian, Latin, a smattering of Tlingit.
I can balance seven dinner plates on my arm.
All I want to do is sit on a veranda while
a hard rain falls around me. I'll file your 1099s.
I'll make love to strangers of your choice.
I'll do whatever you want, as long as I can do it
on that veranda. If it calls you, it's your calling,
right? Once I asked a broker what he loved
about his job, and he said Making a killing.
Once I asked a serial killer what made him
get up in the morning, and he said The people.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Breakfast at the Road Runner Cafe

by William Notter

CAFE still burning in neon after sunup,
and a bird's gangly silhouette stretched out
with speed—the sign draws me in.
The walls inside are hung with Spanish prayers,
kachina dolls, chili pepper bundles,
and a three-foot Christ sanctifies relief
from the bluster of New Mexico spring.

The waitress brings coffee and cream.
The gaunt, mustachioed cook
whets his spatula against the grill
scrambling huevos Mexicanos
with chopped green chilies, tomatoes, onion,
tortillas and beans on the side.
A whiskered man at the counter brags
to the waitress about the money he can make
selling copper wire for scrap,
and how he drank thirteen beers
the night before, and wasn't even drunk.
Highway patrolmen talk knockdown power
and calibers, a courthouse blown apart
by a fertilizer bomb in the back of a truck.
A skittish Navajo woman, Drug Free and Proud
printed on her shirt, opens a letter
and swirls ice cubes with her butter knife.

The letter might be from a son locked up
for stealing cars in Albuquerque,
a power disconnect notice, or news
her sister died of exposure out in the hills.
Maybe she's just back to the world
from a stay in detox, chewing ice
to keep from thinking she could walk downtown
and be served a bottle of gin
or eighth-ounce bag of weed
as easily as eggs and toast.

A stranger can only say so much
in the open noise of sputtering grease,
small talk, spoons clacking in coffee mugs.
If she can just hold tight to something,
those cravings will disappear the way wind
blows mountains of cloud across the sky.
She could find comfort in a place like this,
the silvery riffle of cottonwood leaves outside,
a novena candle flickering by the door
to keep Jesus lit at night, find pleasure
in good food and desert light across the tables.

The woman lays a few bills down
by her plate of half-eaten eggs,
and walks outside to the payphone.
She holds her black hair with one hand
against the lashing wind. What can a stranger say?
The Santa Fe's red and yellow engines
come thrumming west beside the highway
as I go out the door. Hang on. She turns
and I shout again, Just hang on.
Past the train is sandstone sunbleached yellow,
knobby juniper clutching at the hills.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Party's Over...

...that is, if your idea of a party involves punching a timeclock and scrubs.

Day of birth was fabulously hot here in CinCity. Hubby and I had lunch at Don Pablo's on the river where the humid breeze could smooth out the 55 year old laugh lines I've accumulated.

Flowers were included and a book and gift cards. Life is truly good. Grad school starts in 21 days. I think I may still need one vaccine and I definitely need an ID, but I made it through the orientation program and I know where my classes are. On. A Map. That works.

please note: photo of Judy Holliday, star of The Bells are Ringing--movie from whence we have The Party's Over