Thursday, December 29, 2016

Night Below Zero



by Kenneth Rexroth


3 AM, the night is absolutely still;
Snow squeals beneath my skis, plumes on the turns.
I stop at the canyon’s edge, stand looking out
Over the Great Valley, over the millions —
In bed, drunk, loving, tending mills, furnaces,
Alone, wakeful, as the world rolls in chaos.
The quarter moon rises in the black heavens —
Over the sharp constellations of the cities
The cold lies, crystalline and silent,
Locked between the mountains.

Please note: art by Nancy Boudreaux @ Offerings.  blog.nboudreaux.com

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sunday in CinCity. The Christmas Edition.


For Maia

by Gary Johnson



A little girl is singing for the faithful to come ye
Joyful and triumphant, a song she loves,
And also the partridge in a pear tree
And the golden rings and the turtle doves.
In the dark streets, red lights and green and blue
Where the faithful live, some joyful, some
troubled,
Enduring the cold and also the flu,
Taking the garbage out and keeping the
sidewalk shoveled.
Not much triumph going on here—and yet
There is much we do not understand.
And my hopes and fears are met
In this small singer holding onto my hand.
       Onward we go, faithfully, into the dark
       And are there angels hovering overhead?
Hark.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sheep in the Winter Night


by Tom Hennen






Inside the barn the sheep were standing, pushed close to one
another. Some were dozing, some had eyes wide open listening
in the dark. Some had no doubt heard of wolves. They looked
weary with all the burdens they had to carry, like being thought
of as stupid and cowardly, disliked by cowboys for the way they
eat grass about an inch into the dirt, the silly look they have
just after shearing, of being one of the symbols of the Christian
religion. In the darkness of the barn their woolly backs were
full of light gathered on summer pastures. Above them their
white breath was suspended, while far off in the pine woods,
night was deep in silence. The owl and rabbit were wondering,
along with the trees, if the air would soon fill with snowflakes,
but the power that moves through the world and makes our
hair stand on end was keeping the answer to itself.


please note: artwork by Robert Bateman

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Getting it Right

by Kevin Carey






In grammar school I stuttered,
felt the hot panic on my face
when my turn to read crept up the row.
Even when I counted the paragraphs
and memorized the passage,
I’d trip on the first or second word,
and then it would be over,
the awful hesitation, the word
clinging to the lining of my throat
rising only too late to avoid
the laughter around me. I was never
the smartest kid in the room,
but I had answers I knew were right
yet was afraid to say them.
Years later it all came out, flowing
sentences I practiced over and over,
Shakespeare or Frost, my own tall tales
in low-lit barrooms, scribbled
in black-bound journals, rehearsing,
anticipating my turn, my time,
a way of finally getting it right.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Strong Coffee

by Anne Higgins



,



Strong coffee
smells like a current
of warm southerly air
in the climate of dawn.
Strong coffee
gets stronger
when poured back
through the grounds.
Opaque,
thick, hot, bitter
for waking up,
the caffeine
pumps through your center,
stains your mouth with morning,
with going to work,
surprises you
with your own
breath.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Fiction


by Howard Nemerov

The people in the elevator all
Face front, they all keep still, they all
Look up with the rapt and stupid look of saints
In paintings at the numbers that light up
By turn and turn to tell them where they are.
They are doing the dance, they are playing the game.
To get here they have gone by avenue
And street, by ordinate and abscissa, and now
By this new coordinate, up. They are three-
dimensional characters, taken from real life;
They have their fates, whether to rise or fall,
And when their numbers come up they get out.

Please note: St James the Great, painting by Guido Reni,  1621

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday in CinCity



"But by evening the comfortable gloom of December had returned. Nearly all the snow in the treetops had slipped away, and with it the illusion that daylight had somehow been trapped in the canopy above. The woods had reerected themselves. Sunset came and went, and all the color in the natural landscape drained away with it. Blue Christmas bulbs strung along the gables of an old farmhouse, or the orange glow of an incandescent lamp seen through a roadside window at twilight, made it plain how utterly the world had been reduced to black and white. The cold came on a little deeper that night, and in the morning the snow on the woodpile was spiked with frost."


from The Rural Life by Verlyn Klinkenborg

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday in CinCity. The Pepto Bismol Edition.

For those of you who do not know, and why would you--I've been away from this blog for some time--I have two daughters, one in New Orleans and the younger newly moved to Alaska for a job. Hubby went up in October with her to settle her into her apartment, meet the roommate, get a car, insurance, find a grocery store. I had scheduled a week off in November, a desperate attempt to not be a stressed maniac while cooking, the week of Thanksgiving which gave me time to fly up there.  Trust me. You need a week.



The flight there from the Midwest is a commitment. Passed over this lovely bit of scenery. Believe it's the Canadian Cascade Mountain Range.


The temps were in the negative numbers. They've had snow for some time now and the roads are packed ice. You get used to it. The prettiest place for me was Creamer's Field, a migratory bird sanctuary 10 minutes from town. Quiet and still.







Pizza is a poor show there. Anyone with a good recipe could make a fortune. Sitting there one evening a group of 30 blue and white sweatshirted folks came in, filling the restaurant. A couple of minutes of commiseration with neighbors close-to-home...


...the UK Rifle Team was competing at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and flying back home to 75 degree temperatures that night. 

Back in the EST zone now and back at work. Perhaps avoiding FaceBook and the news more and more after the election results. I was never a fan of Mr. Trump during the '80s. Thought he was without substance and an attention whore. Can't say my opinion has changed, other than to think he's more dangerous than I gave him credit for thirty years ago. So I've been drinking a lot of Pepto Bismol and probably need to buy stock in whoever makes Prilosec and Zantac. Resistance movements evidently take a toll on the gut.


Unfortunate Location

by Louis Jenkins




In the front yard there are three big white pines,
 older than any-thing in the neighborhood 
except the stones. Magnificent trees that
toss their heads in the wind 
like the spirited black horses of a troika.
It’s hard to know what to do, 
tall dark trees on the south side of the house,
 an unfortunate location, blocking the winter sun.
 Dark and damp. Moss grows on the roof, 
the porch timbers rot and surely the roots
 have reached the old bluestone foundation. At night,
 in the wind, a tree could stumble and fall killing us in our beds.
 The needles fall year after year
 making an acid soil where no grass grows
We rake the fallen debris, nothing to be done, 
we stand around joysticks in our hands.
 Wonderful trees.






ps. until I figure out how to get my camera photos onto my Kindle, please note these photos are from Bing searches.

Friday, December 2, 2016

TGIF

The Philosophy of Waiting








Catch the moon in a jar.

Be befuzzled. 

The jay carries in its feather sky, a cloud, and
deepest space.
It is a tiger.

Children cartwheel in the street.

Old women shuffle behind their tiny dogs.

Top-heavy hydrangeas thirst for light, 
writhing Medusas among stones.
They cannot decide what color to be, 
so they alternate.

We can learn from them.

Can you recall the scent of herbs in winter?

Life is interstitial.

Don’t stub your toe.


---by Second Story Window's blog author

Thursday, December 1, 2016

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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Country Roads

by Joyce Sutphen



It was one of those days
when the sun poured gold
into the air, and flecks of
light floated in shafts that
fell through the branches
of yellow leaf and green.
We’d had dinner at a place
on the edge of a lake, and
now we were going back
to town. There was a simple
way to get there, but she
didn’t take it. Instead, we
drove the country roads
with the corn rows flicking by,
each one visible for a half
second, then gone. “Hello,
hello, hello,” they said, then
“Good-bye, bye, bye, bye.”
The soybeans, we agreed,
had turned burgundy overnight,
but it was the cornfields we
watched, as if we were waiting
for the waters to open, as if
we might cross over Jordan.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday in CinCity

Fairbanks Under the Solstice

Slowly, without sun, the day sinks
toward the close of December.
It is minus sixty degrees.

Over the sleeping houses a dense
fog rises—smoke from banked fires,
and the snowy breath of an abyss
through which the cold town
is perceptibly falling.

As if Death were a voice made visible, 
with the power of illumination...

Now, in the white shadow
of those streets, ghostly newsboys
make their rounds, delivering 
to the homes of those
who have died of the frost
word of the resurrection of Silence.


Honey-Haired Girl has moved to Alaska. The Land of the Midnight Sun. The Last Frontier. Hubby was up there for about two weeks to get her settled. I was just up there for Thanksgiving. She's doing well; thank you for asking. I believe the lowest temperatures were hovering at -18, and the sun is up for about 5 hrs. And, by "up," I mean it drifts along the horizon. It's dark by 4 pm. The roads are essentially packed ice and I'm thankful for the tossed gravel. It's difficult to leave your child in such a harsh environment.

A co-worker reminded me that we must let our children live their lives. She had memorized this poem and recited it to me as she was setting up to place a central IV line into a patient.

May God bless the arrows. And, give this bow a good night's sleep. Tomorrow is soon enough to shop for cross country skis and warmer mittens.

(photos from Creamers Field Wildlife Migratory Sanctuary in Fairbanks, Alaska)


On Children
 Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanks Giving

Thanks

by WS Merwin, 1927


Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow for the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions.
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
looking up from tables we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

Monday, November 14, 2016



Remnants still visible

          by  Marge Piercy




Robins migrate, all schoolchildren
learn but here on the Cape, every
winter a flock forms and stays,
long frigid months after their
compatriots have flown south.
They live deep in the woods on
hips and berries wizened by cold.
Sometimes they appear here
among the feeder birds, one
or two almost outcasts.
Off Alaska when humpback whales
leave in fall as the waters freeze
and the world turns white, heading
for mating grounds off Hawaii
and Mexico, certain whales remain.
What makes a creature stay when
almost all of its kind have moved on?
In burned-out areas of Detroit,
you’ll notice one house still wears
curtains, a bike locked to the porch.
Sometimes in the suburbs among
tract houses with carpets of grass
one farmhouse lurks, maybe even
with a barn. I imagine its owner
grey and stubborn, still growing
the best tomatoes for miles, refusing
to plant inedible grass, fighting
neighbors about her chickens,
a rooster who crows at four,
her clothesline a flag of defiance.
I believe in the days ahead poetry will be needed. Words from those who have walked these paths and know the landmarks and twisted turns that lie ahead.