Showing posts from 2013

My Old Aunts Play Canasta in a Snow Storm

by Marjorie Saiser

I ride along in the backseat; the aunt who can drive
picks up each sister at her door, keeps the Pontiac
chugging in each driveway while one or the other
slips into her overshoes and steps out,
closing her door with a click, the wind

lifting the fringe of her white cotton scarf
as she comes down the sidewalk, still pulling on her
new polyester Christmas-stocking mittens.
We have no business to be out in such a storm,
she says, no business at all.

The wind takes her voice and swirls it
like snow across the windshield.
We're on to the next house, the next aunt,
the heater blowing to beat the band.

At the last house, we play canasta,
the deuces wild even as they were in childhood,
the wind blowing through the empty apple trees,
through the shadows of bumper crops. The cards

line up under my aunts' finger bones; eights and nines and aces
straggle and fall into place like well-behaved children.
My aunts shuffle and meld; they laugh like banshees,
as they did in …

To a Young Girl in a Window

by Margaret Widdemer

The Poor Old Soul plods down the street,
       Contented, and forgetting
How Youth was wild, and Spring was wild
       And how her life is setting.

And you lean out to watch her there,
      And pity, nor remember,
That Youth is hard, and Life is hard,
      And quiet is December.

Happy Nurses' Week

People Who Live Near the Hospital

by Tina Kelley

Sick ones and survivors look down and see

real life going on, presumably unscarred,

the tricycle on the lawn, the garage door open,

the truck on the highway going under

the overpass, emerging on.

From the solarium window the scene below

looks fragile, cinematic and deaf,

a model railroad, an oasis of health,

the people there unknowingly blessed

by the wishes of those who wait.

CinCity...who'd a-thunk it??

Sin City

by David Lehman

Cynthia was feeling sinful in Cincinnati.

She had changed her name once, which was a pity.

She was looking for a new name,

But not necessarily a new flame.

Was there a sir to sin with?

The evening was a blur to begin with.

Came the first day of spring, and in the trees

Birds sang, enacting one of life's mysteries.

The wind played, and the clouds wandered like the lonely poet

In Wordsworth's poem. Did she know it?

What was the meaning of her laughter?

That depends on if you're a son or a daughter.

As the river south of the city flows,

Cynthia reads the poems that name her, and glows.

May Day

preface to Leaves of Grass

by Walt Whiman

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.


by Sharon Olds

I've said that he and I had been crazy

for each other, but maybe my ex and I were not

crazy for each other. Maybe we

were sane for each other, as if our desire

was almost not even personal—

it was personal, but that hardly mattered, since there

seemed to be no other woman

or man in the world. Maybe it was

an arranged marriage, air and water and

earth had planned us for each other—and fire,

a fire of pleasure like a violence

of kindness. To enter those vaults together, like a

solemn or laughing couple in formal

step or writhing hair and cry, seemed to

me like the earth's and moon's paths,

inevitable, and even, in a way,

shy—enclosed in a shyness together,

equal in it. But maybe I

was crazy about him—it is true that I saw

that light around his head when I'd arrive second

at a restaurant—oh for God's sake,

I was besotted with him. Meanwhile the planets

orbited each other, the morning and the evening

came. And maybe what he had for me

was unconditional, …

Sunday in CinCity. The Baby, I Love Your Way Edition. Everyday.

Peter Frampton played with the CinCity Ballet yesterday, their last performance of the season. I remember Frampton as the pretty faced, curlied haired man-boy of my college days whose music played in the background on someones radio somewhere. Never bought his music, but I thought this would be an interesting way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

It was more than interesting. It was phenomenal. Exuberant. Muscular and athletic. And beautiful.

If I can ever find a rendition of Friendly Fire to post, I will post it here. The man knows his way around a broken heart. The dancing that accompanied it has come and gone, but is not forgotten. Like all good heartaches.

Saturday in CinCity. The Eastward Ho Edition.

Journey by Train

by May Sarton

Stretched across counties, countries, the train

Rushes faster than memory through the rain.

The rise of each hill is a musical phrase.

Listen to the rhythm of space, how it lies,

How it rolls, how it reaches, what unwinding relays

Of wood and meadow where the red cows graze

Come back again and again to closed eyes—

That garden, that pink farm, that village steeple,

And here and there the solitary people

Who stand arrested when express trains pass,

That stillness of an orchard in deep grass.

Yet landscapes flow like this toward a place,

A point in time and memory's own face.

So when the clamor stops, we really climb

Down to the earth, closing the curve of time,

Meeting those we have left, to those we meet

Bringing our whole life that has moved so fast,

And now is gathered up and here at last,

To unroll like a ribbon at their feet.

HoneyedHaired Grrrl should be making her way back home tomorrow, air traffic controllers willing. Flight arrives at CVG at …

Yeah, It's Been of One of Those Days

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House

by Billy Collins

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.

He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark

that he barks every time they leave the house.

They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.

I close all the windows in the house

and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast

but I can still hear him muffled under the music,

barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,

his head raised confidently as if Beethoven

had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,

sitting there in the oboe section barking,

his eyes fixed on the conductor who is

entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful

silence to the famous barking dog solo,

that endless coda that first established

Beethoven as an innovative genius.

Certain Days

by Grace Paley

On certain days I am not in love

and my heart turns over

crowding the lungs for


driving blood in and out of

the skull improving my mind

working muscles to the bone

dashing resonance out of a roaring sea

at my nerve endings

Not much is needed


good sense


a noisy taking in and a

loud giving back

Then my heart like any properly turned

motor takes off in sparks dragging all that machinery

through the blazing day

like grass

which our lord knows

I am

An American Tune

"...I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered

I don’t have a friend who feels at ease

I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered

Or driven to its knees

Oh, but it’s all right, it’s all right

For lived so well so long

Still, when I think of the road

We’re traveling on

I wonder what went wrong.I can’t help it,

I wonder what’s gone wrong."

My car has a tape player. I know. You can barely find cassettes anymore, certainly not at the library, so when driving long distances I'm forced to hunt through any nooks and crannies I may have cleaned and stored old music. Found a box to throw in the car on this last drive up to Lake Erie with several from Paul Simon, including the concert at Central Park with Art. Still timely after all these years. And, now that I'm home I've suffered 12 hours at work with Simon and Garfunkle earworms in my head. You're welcome.

Please note: photo, Lake Erie sunset by Lisa DeJong

Dipping a Toe Back In...

The Undeniable Pressure of Existence

by Patricia Fargnoli

I saw the fox running by the side of the road

past the turned-away brick faces of the condominiums

past the Citco gas station with its line of cars and trucks

and he ran, limping, gaunt, matted dull haired

past Jim's Pizza, past the Wash-O-Mat,

past the Thai Garden, his sides heaving like bellows

and he kept running to where the interstate

crossed the state road and he reached it and he ran on

under the underpass and beyond it past the perfect

rows of split-levels, their identical driveways

their brookless and forestless yards,

and from my moving car, I watched him,

helpless to do anything to help him, certain he was beyond

any aid, any desire to save him, and he ran loping on,

far out of his element, sick, panting, starving,

his eyes fixed on some point ahead of him,

some possible salvation

in all this hopelessness, that only he could see.

looking for a tiny hint of spring...any hint...anywhere...


by Richard Wilbur

A word sticks in the wind's throat;
A wind-launch drifts in the wells of rye;
Sometimes, in broad silence,
The hanging apples distil their darkness.

You, in a green dress, calling, and with brown hair,
Who come by the field-path now, whose name I say
Softly, forgive me love if I also call you
Wind's word, apple-heart, haven of grasses.


by Louis Jenkins

January finally drags into February and one fumbles with
numb fingers at the ordinary knots and hooks of life. People
are irritable, difficult. Some days you want to stay in bed
with the covers over your head and dream of paradise. A
place where the warm sea washes the white sand. There
are a few palm trees on the higher ground, many brightly
colored fish in the lagoon, waves breaking on the reef
farther out. No one in sight. Occasionally an incredibly
large, split-second shark darkens the clear water. Sea birds
ride the wind currents, albatross, kittiwake, ... and pass
on. Day after day, sea wind and perfect sky .... You make a
big heap of driftwood on the beach

I've been down for the count with  all of some variation of the many influenza strains not covered by the 2013 flu vaccine. There's been much moaning and gnashing of teeth; usually the cat, as I've attempted to carry him with me from one unsatisfactory lay-about spot to another. Fortunately I was …


by Marianne Boruch

I walked out, and the nest was already there by the step. Woven basket of a saint sent back to life as a bird who proceeded to make a mess of things. Wind right through it, and any eggs long vanished. But it my hand it was
intricate pleasure, even the thorny reeds softened in the weave. And the fading leaf mold, hardly itself anymore, merely a trick
of light, if light can be tricked. Deep in a life is another life. I walked out, the nest
already by the step.

please note: photo by DarlingBridget from Homespun Bliss Blog

Saturday in CinCity. The "I Was Mad About It" Edition.

Might I recommend a movie to you all? Diana Vreeland. If you are "of a certain age," male or female, this movie brings our past back to kaleidescopic life through an entirely different lens. The quotidian wrappings of our day have, more likely than not, become icons. The Twiggys, the Rolling Stones, the Jean Shrimptons, the Veruschkas. Pages and pages of magazine photos that filled our minds and eyes in the travels of our every days now fill in the gaps of our history of events of that time.

I'd seen the previews at our neighborhood movie theater and thought it looked interesting enough, though easy enough to keep putting off. Yesterday I put it on the To-Do List for 5:05pm and to quote another great icon, "I'm mad about it!! Simply mad!"

Goodbye, New York

(song from the wrong side of the Hudson)

by Deborah Garrison

You were the big fat city we called hometown

You were the lyrics I sang but never wrote down

You were the lively graves by the highway in Queen…

The Physics of the Known World

by Paul Lisicky

That silly retriever. He doesn't go to the two guys looking right at him, beaming him awake with concentrated joy. Not at all: he goes straight to the man with his head turned to the left, who could care less about doggy behavior and isn't the least bit stirred by the snout parked in the knee and the wagging hind parts. And that's it: the physics of the known world. Which is why the trees look better when they're left unwatered, and the birds actually prefer it when you don't sing back to them. And the holy man crossing the street with the black brim hat? He knows better than to pick up what he's dropped and lift his face to the mountains. Take it from him, friend. You probably wouldn't even want it if the light hit you in your head.

One Today

by Richard Blanco

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,

peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces

of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth

across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.

One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story

told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,

each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:

pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,

fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows

begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper -- bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,

on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives -- to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did

for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,

the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:

equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagine…

I Know I Should Be Thinking Deep Thoughts...

...being that's it's the second inauguration of this country's first African-American president on the very day we celebrate Martin Luther King. I love this president and revere Mr. King, but I got nothing. I'm gonna percolate on this and try to be pithy and reflective at some point in my day. What I really want to talk about is the Downton Abbey episode last night, and the reports I keep getting on FaceBook that it's -20 in Fargo, and the events surrounding the young woman I wrote about a few days ago reported on the front page of our">"> 
daily paper yesterday morning
 and the fact that Hubby is working today and I'm off which allows me to toss and purge some of the flotsam and jetsam in this house without having every bag and pile second guessed. With the inauguration playing in the background.

One thing which remains certain in this world is that life is full of incredib…

TGIF. It's Already the Middle of January?!

"Outside, it is cold, silvery, and suffused with a delicate milky haze. Gray hushed days follow each other, calling us to inner activity. Sitting by the fire or hurrying through the streets, our power of thinking grows. Filled with new ideas, we feel creative and courageous. Legend says, "words spoken in winter go unheard until next summer." This is the message from Janus, the old Etruscan god of the doorway, after whom January was named. Janus stands between past and future, new and old. He has two faces. One looks back, the other forward. His third face is invisible. This is the face of eternity, the present moment: NOW. Warmth settles around our hearts. Summoned to great deeds of right action and selfless love, Janus bids us pass through his gate." --Christopher Bamford

please note: photo is from Cincinnati Daily Photo. Apparently there was a once-in-a-lifetime, phenomenally beautiful sunset the other evening while I was hard at work in BigFatTeaching Hospital w…


"Every year about now, I feel the need to keep a journal...I walk past the blank books--gifts of nothingness--that pile up in bookstores this season, and I can almost hear their clean white pages begging to be defaced...if I do give in, this is what I have in mind. I want to count the crows in the field every afternoon. I want to record the temperatures, highs and lows, every day and measure the rain and snow. If a flock of turkeys walks into the barnyard, I want to mention the fact. If one of the horses throws a shoe, I want to say so, in writing, before I call the farrier; and I'd like to be able to tell from my journal just how many bales of hay I have squirreled away in the barn."
--Verlyn Klingenborg

For those among us who live more prosaic lives and don't have the cawings of crows to mark our mornings and evenings as their flight pattern crosses over the quiet, snow dusted street we live on and who have no noble beasts snorting sweet hay scented, steamy breath …

The Song of Wandering Aengus

By William Butler Yeats

I went out to the hazel wood,

Because a fire was in my head,

And cut and peeled a hazel wand,

And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,

And moth-like stars were flickering out,

I dropped the berry in a stream

And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor

I went to blow the fire a-flame,

But something rustled on the floor,

And someone called me by my name:

It had become a glimmering girl

With apple blossom in her hair

Who called me by my name and ran

And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering

Through hollow lands and hilly lands,

I will find out where she has gone,

And kiss her lips and take her hands;

And walk among long dappled grass,

And pluck till time and times are done,

The silver apples of the moon,

The golden apples of the sun

A Prayer among Friends

by John Daniel

Among other wonders of our lives, we are alive

with one another, we walk here

in the light of this unlikely world

that isn't ours for long.

May we spend generously

the time we are given.

May we enact our responsibilities

as thoroughly as we enjoy

our pleasures. May we see with clarity,

may we seek a vision

that serves all beings, may we honor

the mystery surpassing our sight,

and may we hold in our hands

the gift of good work

and bear it forth whole, as we

were borne forth by a power we praise

to this one Earth, this homeland of all we love.

There was a fire here by the university on New Year's morning. Five kids got out and two were carried out by firefighters and brought to the hospital. When I say "kids" I mean college students--20 year olds. Of the two at our place, the young man died a few days ago and the young girl is struggling against all odds. So, all that is left is prayers to which my friend Debra says, "You can never have too many,&qu…

Relentless Usurpation of Temporal Linearity

by Dara Wier

I had been continuing to do the same thing

while expecting different results.

On most days the children learned how

to do something. Time passed around us

as something approaching a figure eight

might move in order to let all else move

or be moved by our large numbers of feelings

exponentially on high alert once we let them register.

It passed us around. It passed around us like a river

around a boulder.

Music consisted of light & light came on time.

It was impossible for us not to anthropomorphize everything.

And yes, watching ice skaters, the kind called figure skaters,

the ones who aren't doing anything other than tracking again &

again some figure of infinity marked out on ice for them,

this never failed to quiet us down & take us some place else.

Tuesday in CinCity. The "I Have Lusted in My Heart" Edition.

A Short Panegyric

by Mark Strand

Now that the vegetarian nightmare is over and we are back to

our diet of meat and deep in the sway of our dark and beauty-

ful habits and able to speak with calm of having survived, let

the breeze of the future touch and retouch our large and hun-

gering bodies. Let us march to market to embrace the butcher

and put the year of the carrot, the month of the onion behind

us, let us worship the roast or the stew that takes its place once

again at the sacred center of the dining room table.

(Olivier's on Decatur Street, New Orleans. And, yes, I'm still thinking about their Creole Rabbit.)

Sunday in CinCity. Resolution Is Us Edition.

I have not wanted to write much after my friend's death. Let me be honest, I have not wanted to think much. And I believe that's as it should be. Lord knows, the brain takes years to recover and heal and I imagine the soul does, too. But, I miss the magic I found in words. The unexpected placements and pairings. The rhythm of syllables. So, for me, 2013 will be a year of opening doors and telling the tales of what I find.

Our squirrel's nest squirms
and reassembles 
beneath a winter's wind.

...Maybe...or  I could watch Big Bang Theory marathons...Bazinga!

The Frogs After Dark

by Robert Bly

I am so much in love with mournful music

That I don't bother to look for violinists.

The aging peepers satisfy me for hours.

The ant moves on his tiny Sephardic feet.

The flute is always glad to repeat the same note.

The ocean rejoices in its dusky mansion.

Bears are often piled up close to each other.

In caves of bears, it's just one hump

After another, and there is no one to s…

Saturday in CinCity. The Pay the Piper Edition.

Well, it's January and it must be done. Yoga pants must be dug out of the bottom of a pile of clothes in the bedroom, a short sleeved T shirt must be wriggled into, and I must sweat amongst strangers. Hubby and I have never quite recovered from our last visit to New Orleans and let me simply say two words. Creole. Rabbit. We believe we were placed on earth to eat and drink every two hours while wandering around listening to fabulous music.

Alas, that is not meant to be and January is here and my jeans are not as comfy as my work scrubs, so sweat it shall be today. Turn it up and burn it up, my friends!


by Linda Pastan

The deep strangeness

of flowers in winter—

the orange of clivia,

or this creamy white rose

in its stoneware

vase, while outside

another white

like petals drifting down.

Is it real?

a visitor asks,

meaning the odd magenta

orchid on our sill


as makeup on a child.

It's freezing all around us—

salt cold on the lips,

the flinty blacks and grays

of Jan…


Does sunset sometimes look like
  the sun is coming up?
Do you know what a faithful love is like?

You're crying; you say you've burned yourself.
But can you think of anyone who's not
 hazy with smoke?


The New Year Begins.

Outside Fargo, North Dakota

by James Wright

Along the sprawled body of the derailed

Great Northern freight car,

I strike a match slowly and lift it slowly.

No wind.

Beyond town, three heavy white horses

Wade all the way to their shoulders

In a silo shadow.

Suddenly the freight car lurches.

The door slams back, a man with a flashlight

Calls me good evening.

I nod as I write good evening, lonely

And sick for home.