Tuesday, January 29, 2013


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, January 26, 2013

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 Queens

the bodega where I bought black beans

stacks of the Times we never read

nights we never went to bed

the radio jazz, the doughnut cart

the dogs off their leashes in Tompkins Square Park

You were the tiny brass mailbox key

the joy of "us" and the sorrow of "me"

You were the balcony bar in Grand Central Station

the blunt commuters and their destination

the post-wedding blintzes at 4 A.M.

and the pregnant waitress we never saw again

You were the pickles, you were the jar

You were the prizefight we watched in a bar

the sloppy kiss in the basement at Nell's

the occasional truth that the fortune cookie tells

Sinatra still swinging at Radio City

You were ugly and gorgeous but never pretty

always the question, never the answer

the difficult poet, the aging dancer

the call I made from a corner phone

to a friend in need, who wasn't at home

the fireworks we watched from a tenement roof

the brash allegations and the lack of any proof

my skyline, my byline, my buzzer and door

now you're the dream we lived before

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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.

Monday, January 21, 2013

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 imagined,

the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,

or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain

the empty desks of twenty children marked absent

today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light

breathing color into stained glass windows,

life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth

onto the steps of our museums and park benches

as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk

of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat

and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills

in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands

digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands

as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane

so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains

mingled by one wind -- our breath. Breathe. Hear it

through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,

buses launching down avenues, the symphony

of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,

the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,

or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open

for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,

buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días

in the language my mother taught me -- in every language

spoken into one wind carrying our lives

without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed

their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked

their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:

weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report

for the boss on time, stitching another wound

or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,

or the last floor on the Freedom Tower

jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes

tired from work: some days guessing at the weather

of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love

that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother

who knew how to give, or forgiving a father

who couldn’t give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight

of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always -- home,

always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon

like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop

and every window, of one country -- all of us --

facing the stars

hope -- a new constellation

waiting for us to map it,

waiting for us to name it -- together

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 http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130119/NEWS/301200040&Ref=AR">"> 
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 incredible miracles and devastating tragedy, often in the same day and often in the same event.

Perhaps for those not in love with President Obama we can celebrate this day as the true celebration of our democracy.

"We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now."--Dr. Martin Luther King

Friday, January 18, 2013

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 windowless. But, oh, the many pics...:-)

Thursday, January 17, 2013



"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 into our faces as we rub their noses, what do we record and keep memories of? How many bed changes I made in my 12 shift? How many times I replied, "No, you can't have any water. No, you can't get out of bed. No, I can't give you scissors to cut these ties.You've had a stroke and can't move your left side" ? Cause that would be 467. Before I stopped counting. Some things I don't want to remember at the end of the day. That's why God invented The Big Bang Theory. I bought 10 gallons of gas last evening on my way home at $3.19/gallon. Might be handy with a copy of the receipt as proof in twenty years or so when I want to talk about "back in the day." But I talk about that now and proof/facts are overrated.

I began keeping a journal of sorts when the girls were much younger. After my husband said to me at the end of one year and probably after he read some crazy relative's Christmas letter, "Why don't we ever do anything?" I did not want to cut him in his sleep and get myself sent off to Marysville, so I began keeping track of our family doings in a large accountant's ledger and it became an easy place to tape in report cards, that year's Halloween costume ideas, the movies, the overnights, funeral mass prayer cards,wedding programs, weekend camping trips, the soccer and volleyball game schedules, the best Christmas card we received as voted on by the HamiFamily, the fallspringwinter recitals, first communion, confirmation & graduation programs, maybe a recipe, and lots and lots of photos. All the refrigerator graffiti that I couldn't toss found a new home.

The girls got older and moved out, photos are obsolete and my days are no longer centered around schedules and driving someone somewhere. So again, what to record? What to mark and measure my days by? What do you all write, or do you?

By the way, the temperature here today is 31. It's grey, grey, grey. Kinda like living in Blade Runner.

Monday, January 14, 2013

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

Saturday, January 12, 2013

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," and I reply, "and sometimes not enough."

please note: photograph by Devon Young

Thursday, January 10, 2013

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, January 8, 2013

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, January 6, 2013

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 sort it out.

You and I have spent so many hours working.

We have paid dearly for the life we have.

It's all right if we do nothing tonight.

We've heard the fiddlers tuning their old fiddles,

And the singer urging the low notes to come.

We've heard her trying to keep the dawn from breaking.

There is some slowness in life that is right for us.

But we love to remember the way the soul leaps

Over and over into the lonely heavens.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

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 January in any northern city,

and flowers


in the supermarket

by cans of juice,

filling the heated stalls

near the river—

secular lilies engorged

with scent,

notched tulips, crimson

and pink, ablaze

in the icy

corridors of winter.

Friday, January 4, 2013



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?


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

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.