Sunday, August 28, 2011

Summer in CinCity

At Summer's End

by John Engels

Early August, and the young butternut

is already dropping its leaves, the nuts

thud and ring on the tin roof,

the squirrels are everywhere.

Such richness! It means something to them

that this tree should seem so eager

to finish its business.

The voice softens, and word becomes air

the moment it is spoken. You finger the limp leaves.

Precisely to the degree that you have loved something:

a house, a woman, a bird, this tree, anything at all,

you are punished by time.

Like the tree,

I take myself by surprise.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

For What Binds Us

by Jane Hirshfield

There are names for what binds us:

strong forces, weak forces.

Look around, you can see them:

the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,

nails rusting into the places they join,

joints dovetailed on their own weight.

The way things stay so solidly

wherever they've been set down --

and gravity, scientists say, is weak.

And see how the flesh grows back

across a wound, with a great vehemence,

more strong

than the simple, untested surface before.

There's a name for it on horses,

when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,

as all flesh

is proud of its wounds, wears them

as honors given out after battle,

small triumphs pinned to the chest --

And when two people have loved each other

see how it is like a

scar between their bodies,

stronger, darker, and proud;

how the black cord makes of them a single fabric

that nothing can tear or mend.

Friday, August 26, 2011



by Robert Hass

Chester found a dozen copies of his first novel in a used book-

store and took them to the counter. The owner said, "You can't

have them all," so Chester kept five. The owner said, "That'll be

a hundred and twelve dollars." Chester said, "What?" and the

guy said, "They're first editions, mac, twenty bucks apiece." And

so Chester said, "Why are you charging me a hundred and

twelve dollars?" The guy said, "Three of them are autographed."

Chester said, "Look, I wrote this book." The guy said, "All Right,

a hundred. I won't charge you for the autographs."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

old friends sit on the park bench like bookends

One of my dearest and bestest friends has died suddenly. We were locker partners in high school. She sat in front of me in homeroom. We were co-captains of the cheerleaders for the wrestling team. And we stayed friends through many years and many changes. None of them obviously our looks. 

"...Time it was, and what a time it was, it was

A time of innocence, a time of confidences

Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph

Preserve your memories; They're all that's left you"
(Bookends,Paul Simon)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dear One of Those Days...


be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life,

keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery

and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

--Max Ehrmann

please note: photo by my CollegeGrrrl from Eastern StandardTime Hospital

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday in CinCity

Summer Kitchen

by Donald Hall

In June's high light she stood at the sink

With a glass of wine,

And listened for the bobolink,

And crushed garlic in late sunshine.

I watched her cooking, from my chair.

She pressed her lips

Together, reached for kitchenware,

And tasted sauce from her fingertips.

"It's ready now. Come on," she said.

"You light the candle."

We ate, and talked, and went to bed,

And slept. It was a miracle.

please note: art by Neil Wyrick

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday in CinCity. The Pickled Edition.

We spent the first three days of this week driving up and back to the lake. Drank beer with our neighbors, bought a wasp catcher, rode bikes around Kelly's Island, got sunburnt, ate fish, worked jigsaw puzzles, and HoneyHaired and I watched That Touch of Mink. Hubby fell asleep probably at the first scene. The muffler did not fall off my car, though I worry that will happen any day now before we can get it to the dealer, so while you can hear us coming up the street, you don't actually feel it in your bones. Yet.

Passed many a church and bank along the way up I-75 and in front of one of them was a sign reading, "Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.--Helen Keller." I imagine there were many inspiring messages we passed, but this one resonated with me and kept me centered my last two days at work. Thank you all for your warm thoughts and comments in my last posting. I called this morning around 5am and my patient's heart was still beating after we withdrew the ventilator yesterday evening. I pray for his peaceful release and rest for his exhausted and drained family.

Life, however, most doggedly and persistantly and miraculously, goes on.

I am going to run up to the hardware store right after this and pick up some canning supplies for my adventure into pickling and jamming. There are so many farmer's markets up north it's hard not to get the "putting by" bug and I found an older cookbook, Gardeners' Community Cookbook, which has tons of recipes I'm in the right spot to try. 

A friend at work told me yesterday that her attempt at pickling was "disgusting", but I'm in a mood for disgusting so that works out just fine. A little NPR on the radio so I can get caught up on the week's news and I'm a happy girl.

We're a one car family now which will take some adjustment and I guess some forethought and planning. Painful. CollegeGrrrrl came to the conclusion that a car payment on top of rent and school was a little too much, so she sold her car and has taken our hand-me-down car that was supposed to be HoneyHaired's before her wreck scared her away from driving and was actually my MIL's. I reckon we'll get greener and save the earth one way or the other. I still however refuse to walk to work at 5:30 in the morning per Hubby's suggestion. Crazy old man.

The Ordinary Weather of Summer

by Linda Pastan

In the ordinary weather of summer

with storms rumbling from west to east

like so many freight trains hauling

their cargo of heat and rain,

the dogs sprawl on the back steps, panting,

insects assemble at every window,

and we quarrel again, bombarding

each other with small grievances,

our tempers flashing on and off

in bursts of heat lightning.

In the cooler air of morning,

we drink our coffee amicably enough

and walk down to the sea

which seems to tremble with meaning

and into which we plunge again and again.

The days continue hot.

At dusk the shadows are as blue

as the lips of the children stained

with berries or with the chill

of too much swimming.

So we move another summer closer

to our last summer together—

a time as real and implacable as the sea

out of which we come walking

on wobbly legs as if for the first time,

drying ourselves with rough towels,

shaking the water out of our blinded eyes.

please note: photos by HoneyHaired and me. And, my husband is not really a giant, though we tell him he is.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

you can close your eyes, it's alright

Found myself softly singing this to my patient this evening. Young man with a failed suicide attempt who nonetheless may still succeed. I relieved his mother at his bedside, holding his hand, so she could take a much needed break. I don't have any poetry for this kind of heartache.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Welcoming Party

by Joshua Trotter

Is this what I've been traveling toward

dodging rocks and reefs at funereal speed?

I see no dish of milk, no welcoming lips

just this beach—palms outstretched—and the abyss

of all I've missed, winking from every bead

on every rain-whetted, wind-brandished blade.

Monday, August 15, 2011


by David Shumate

He is a hard one to write a poem about. Like Napolean.

Hannibal. Genghis Khan. Already so large in history. To do it

right, I have to sit down with him. At a place of his own

choosing. Probably a steakhouse. We take a table in a corner.

But people still recognize him, come up and slap him on the

back, say how much they enjoyed studying about him in school

and ask for his autograph. After he eats, he leans back and

lights up a cigar and asks me what I want to know. Notebook in

hand, I suggest that we start with the Little Big Horn and work

our way back. But I realize I have offended him. That he

would rather take it the other way around. So he rants on

about the Civil War, the way west, the loyalty of good soldiers

and now and then twists his long yellow hair with his fingers.

But when he gets to the part about Sitting Bull, about Crazy

Horse, he develops a twitch above his right eye, raises his

finger for the waiter, excuses himself and goes to the restroom

while I sit there along the bluffs with the entire Sioux nation,

awaiting his return.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday in CinCity

Long Island Sound

by Emma Lazarus

I see it as it looked one afternoon

In August,—by a fresh soft breeze o'erblown.

The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon,

A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon.

The shining waters with pale currents strewn,

The quiet fishing-smacks, the Eastern cove,

The semi-circle of its dark, green grove.

The luminous grasses, and the merry sun

In the grave sky; the sparkle far and wide,

Laughter of unseen children, cheerful chirp

Of crickets, and low lisp of rippling tide,

Light summer clouds fantastical as sleep

Changing unnoted while I gazed thereon.

All these fair sounds and sights I made my own.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday in CinCity

I am not watching this glorious meteor shower, though perhaps we can give it a go Sunday night after work. I'm not even sleeping as I should be before a long 12 hours in the land of NeuroDrama. I am wide awake after either the noise of trains, sirens, dog, or a combination of all three woke me from a dream involving extra jigsaw puzzle pieces. Waking was a relief.

Here's hoping that someone out there has seen some lovely sights from the heavens and will share them. Happy Weekend!

please note: photo by Babak Tafreshi

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beautiful Day Riding Bikes at Miami Whitewater Forest

Learning the Bicycle

by Wyatt Prunty

for Heather

The older children pedal past

Stable as little gyros, spinning hard

To supper, bath, and bed, until at last

We also quit, silent and tired

Beside the darkening yard where trees

Now shadow up instead of down.

Their predictable lengths can only tease

Her as, head lowered, she walks her bike alone

Somewhere between her wanting to ride

And her certainty she will always fall.

Tomorrow, though I will run behind,

Arms out to catch her, she'll tilt then balance wide

Of my reach, till distance makes her small,

Smaller, beyond the place I stop and know

That to teach her I had to follow

And when she learned I had to let her go.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This Morning

by David Budbill

Oh, this life,

the now,

this morning,

which I

can turn

into forever

by simply


what is here,

is gone

by noon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fed babies for 12 hrs in the Neonatal ICU


Baby Girl Found

by Francette Cerulli

He found her wrapped in a brown towel

Beside the highway department dumpster.

She was so cold she was blue, so new

her umbilical stump still drooped softly

from her belly like the limp stem

of some fantastic fruit.

He picked her up in his huge gloved

highway department hands and

carried her to his truck. Inside the cab

he turned on the light, peeled the damp towel

from her body and held her

under the blast of the truck heater.

Giant midwife bent over her in the frozen morning,

He watched for the smallest sign.

It was her second birth.

Monday, August 8, 2011


by Carl Dennis

Don't be ashamed that your parents

Didn't happen to meet at an art exhibit

Or at a protest against a foreign policy

Based on fear of negotiation,

But in an aisle of a discount drugstore,

Near the antihistamine section,

Seeking relief from the common cold.

You ought to be proud that even there,

Amid coughs and sneezes,

They were able to peer beneath

The veil of pointless happenstance.

Here is someone, each thought,

Able to laugh at the indignities

That flesh is heir to. Here

Is a person one might care about.

Not love at first sight, but the will

To be ready to endorse the feeling

Should it arise. Had they waited

For settings more promising,

You wouldn't be here,

Wishing things were different.

Why not delight at how young they were

When they made the most of their chances,

How young still, a little later,

When they bought a double plot

At the cemetery. Look at you,

Twice as old now as they were

When they made arrangements,

And still you're thinking of moving on,

Of finding a town with a climate

Friendlier to your many talents.

Don't be ashamed of the homely thought

That whatever you might do elsewhere,

In the time remaining, you might do here

If you can resolve, at last, to pay attention.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday in CinCity. The Food for Thought Version.

Dinner turned out very well last night. Sharing the recipe in case anyone wants to try it. I used shrimp, and I did heat it up a little just because Miss HoneyHaired likes shrimp better that way. Add some french bread for the carb lovers among us...easy-breezy. Hubby loves the fresh smells when he walks in the door.

Santa Fe Summer Pot with Avocado and Shrimp

(From From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories and Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2008). Copyright © 2008 by American Public Media )

Serves 4

10 minutes prep time; no stove time

This can wait, chilled, for 30 to 40 minutes

•1/4 cup fresh lime juice

•1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped

•1 large garlic clove, minced

•1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced

•1/2 teaspoon Crossover Spice Blend (recipe follows) or a blend of ground coriander, ground cumin, and freshly ground black pepper

•1-1/2 pounds ripe delicious tomatoes, coarsely chopped (do not peel); or one 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

•2 sprigs fresh coriander

•1 small cucumber, peeled and diced

•1 ripe avocado, diced

•1 pound cooked, peeled shrimp, or firm tofu or leftover poultry (organic if possible, diced)

•Handful tortilla chips, lightly crushed

•2 limes, each cut into 8 wedges

1. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, onion, garlic, jalapeño, and spice blend. Let marinate for 10 minutes.

2. Place the tomatoes and coriander sprigs into the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until the mixture is chunky. Add the onion mixture, and pulse five times.

3. Divide the cucumber, avocado, and shrimp among four bowls. Spoon the tomato blend into the bowls. Garnish with the crushed tortilla chips and lime wedges.

Note from Lynne:
- The shrimp could be switched out for tofu, tempeh, chicken, meats or other fish.

Crossover Spice Blend

Makes about 3/4 cup

Keeps for 3 to 4 months in a dark, cool cupboard

•1/4 cup ground cumin

•1/2 cup ground coriander

•1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) freshly ground black pepper

1. Blend the spices together in a jar, and seal. Store away from heat and light.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday in CinCity. The Melting Edition.

Downtown CinCity on a hot summer morning. After weeks of hot summer mornings. I think we've broken the record of 14 or 17 straight days of over 90 degree heat and I feel we should cool things off a bit. IMHO. What you cannot see in this photo is how much heat the bricks soak up and continue to radiate into a home. Cause they're givers.

My strategy for the day is to go in and out of a/c as much as possible while trying to get a grocery list together, buying the food, making the food, cleaning up after the food. Things need to be done here, but the 3 episodes I've missed of In Plain Sight are not going to watch themselves. Tidying today, perhaps. Dusting and vacuuming, not so much.

Dinner at this point is going to be Sante Fe Summer Pot with Avocado and Shrimp. No cooking required.

Dog Days

by Doreen Fitzgerald

The languid heart is on the porch,

slowly swinging back and forth,

trying to beat the heat.

The brain is in a maple tree,

prehensile toes around a branch,

studying its wrinkled feet.

The heart sips ice-cold lemonade,

ignoring summer's grand parade,

but the dogged eye looks out to see

who's passing by on Passion Street,

admiring all the butts and toes,

and that's the way the summer goes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our Lady of...

It's been a rough summer for a lot of people, myself included. We've got three very damaged patients in our unit; their rooms all in a row; men in their 50's who have fallen from fixing their roof, from cutting limbs off a tree, and from working on his plane. Two of my best friends' husbands have left their marriages with more unsaid than said, and don't get me wrong, these are nice guys. Good husbands and dads and friends. Friends' parents are falling ill and their children getting injured. My neighbor, mother of a 7yr old girl, was diagnosed with cancer.

As I passed through the Mexican section at Krogers a few weeks ago I noticed the display of religious candles, so I brought an Our Lady of Guadelupe to help turn things around. Now I'm up to four Our Ladies for more firepower. Burn it up, girls.

Acrobat's Song

by Liam Rector

Who is it for whom we now perform,

Cavorting on wire:

For whom does the boy

Climbing the ladder

Balance and whirl—

For whom,

Seen or unseen

In a shield of light?

Seen or unseen

In a shield of light,

At the tent top

Where rays stream in

Watching the pin-wheel

Turns of the players


In light:


We are Thy acrobats;



Walking on wire,

Dancing on air,

Swinging on the high trapeze:

We are Thy children,

Flying in the air

Of that smile:

Rejoicing in light.


We perform before Thee,

Walking a joyous discipline,

A thin thread of courage,

A slim high wire of dependence

Over abysses.

What do we know

Of the way of our walking?

Only this step,

This movement,

Gone as we name it.


At the thin

Rim of the world

We turn for Our Lady,

Who holds us lightly:

We leave the wire,

Leave the line,


Into light.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Toward Paris

by Peter Makuck

My first time on the night train

I couldn't sleep

With expectation, the lucky

Shapes of houses wrapped in dream—

Trees slowed, then creaked to a stop.

4:00 a.m. under country stars.

Lower the window: new air,

A deserted dirt road and

A peasant pedaling away,

A wand-like loaf in his hand,

Tail-light growing weak

Red in the dark, as if his work

Was to bring fresh light

To woods and fields. He did,

Keeping me there at that

Balanced blue hour even later

In the Sainte Chappelle,

The blur of the Louvre and after.

please note: photo art by M. A. Andrew