Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"I am in charge of noticing and acknowledging miracles"

There have been 60 murders in Camden this year. 

But there's also this, from the neighborhood I lived in:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I saw it all from my green sky.

A poem for this week.

Pablo Neruda

It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air -
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography -
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The final ballot-shower from East to West

A post-Election Day poem, brought to you by Whitman:

Election Day, November, 1884
Walt Whitman

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
'Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing
   and disappearing,
Nor Oregon's white cones—nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes—nor Mississippi's stream:
—This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name—the still small voice vibrating—America's
   choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd—sea-board and inland—Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont,
   Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

doing my civic duty

My immediate family has a history of being politically independent. We vote third-party, and we're proud of it.

...Except that my immediate family's all in Massachusetts. In 2004 (my first presidential election), I voted for Nader. In the 2008 election, I also voted Green Party. I was in college in 2004 and in grad school in 2008, so I was registered to vote in Massachusetts -- which is going blue no matter what.

But I'm in Pennsylvania this year, which is suddenly a swing state. It hasn't been a real swing state for the past couple of elections, but this year the polls say that Romney and Obama are neck-and-neck.

I don't agree with everything Obama's done. I wish he'd shut down Guantanamo Bay, for example. Drone wars make my stomach turn, and while I'm in favor of reducing the number of casualties in war, I also realize that 1) we're really interested in saving American lives, 2) they're not as precise as they want us to believe, and 3) I'm pretty much a pacifist, which is sort of out of the range of normal politics. (Can you be the commander-in-chief and be a pacifist? I...doubt it.)

In 2008, when the recession hit, I was in grad school, living off of work-study, the dregs of my savings, and student loans. In a way, even though I was pretty much broke, I was lucky. I know people who weren't so lucky. And while I'm no economist -- far from it -- it looks like it could have ended up much, much worse.

For the record, I support marriage equality; I couldn't look my LGBT friends in the eye if I didn't. I support social programs through the government. I've worked in social services, and poverty is more complicated than private charities can handle.

Our healthcare system is screwed up and probably will continue to be screwed up, but I think that protecting people from getting screwed over by insurance companies (because of pre-existing conditions and the like) is a really good thing. And when I was 24 and didn't have health insurance, I really could have used the Affordable Care Act. My middle brother, at 25, benefits from it -- he works as a chef and can still be on my parents' insurance.

What I realize is this: no candidate is going to be perfect -- Democrat, Republican, or third-party. I'd rather have a multi-party system. But we don't have one. And I'm a pragmatist under all my cynicism and idealism.

I think four or five years ago, I was probably less pragmatic and more of an idealist. But maybe that's the price of growing up.

If I were registered in MA, I'd vote for Jill Stein, because her platform is most closely aligned with my opinions. Plus, her running mate is Cheri Honkala, who's from Philly and is kinda awesome

I'm not in MA, though. Since I'm in PA, I voted for Obama.

Also, John Scalzi nails my thoughts about the current Republican party:
Look: The modern national Republican party is a hot mess, a simmering pot of angry reactionaries driven by selfishness and willful ignorance, whose guiding star is not governance but power, and whose policies and practices are tuned to build an oligarchy, not nurture a democracy. Its economic policies are charitably described as nonsense and its social policies are vicious; for a party which parades its association with Jesus around like a fetish, it is notably lacking in the simple compassion of the Christ. There is so little I find good or useful in the current national GOP, intellectually, philosophically or politically, that I genuinely look on it with despair and wonder when or if the grown-ups are ever going to come back to it. Before anyone leaps up to say that the modern Democratic Party has problems of its own, know that I do not disagree. But if your practical choices for governance of the country are between the marginally competent and the actively malicious, you go with the marginally competent.
Go read the whole thing. In general, the Republicans scare me. Romney seems to have gone back on many of his pretty moderate views that he espoused while he was the governor of Massachusetts. And Paul Ryan? You're going to pick the guy who bases his political philosophy around Ayn Rand?

When it comes down to it, I trust Obama (albeit tentatively and with trepidation) more than I trust Romney.

So yeah. While the Democrats don't necessarily inspire confidence in me -- they're just as much corporate tools as the Republicans -- I'd rather have them.

Yes, I'm going with the lesser of two evils. I know that a lot of people would disagree with me on that, but there it is.

But! Just to make your day brighter, just to end this on a nonpartisan note, have a classroom of fourth-graders schooling you on your civic duty:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

this story has a point, I promise.

So I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that in early September, I almost blew myself up with my gas stove. There was an actual fireball.

(Lesson one: do not let the gas run too long before you try to light the pilot light.)

The events that happened afterward went like this:

No one was home at the time, so I called two of my wonderful, lovely friends in a panic. They came over to my house, rescued me out of the bathroom sink where I'd submerged my forearms in cold water, and drove me to the nearest ER at Penn Presbyterian. (Helen did the "take a deep breath, hold it - 1 2 3 4 5 - exhale" thing for me the entire way there, because I was kind of going into shock.)

At the ER, I was pretty much checked in as soon as they heard "burns."

The triage nurse: "So on a scale from 1 to 10, what's your pain level?"

Me: "Uh. About a 7 or 8?"

Her: "Wow. You're very stoic."

Me (in my head): painkillers? Please?

The ER doctor took a look at my arms and hands and said that he wanted to transfer me over to Temple University Hospital because they have an actual burn unit.

Me: "So I guess I won't be going into work tomorrow?"

Helen and Scout (who brought me in): "Hell no."

ER doc: "Yeah, I don't think so."

They put me on morphine. Gave me a tetanus booster. Put tons of fluids in me, and were generally  pleasant people (even more pleasant after I got the morphine in me).

I was transferred by ambulance over to Temple and kept overnight. My roommate (bless her) brought me food, because I hadn't eaten, and a change of clothes, because I was soaking wet from trying to cool off the burns.

Last week, I got the bill from Penn Presbyterian. Overall, my ER trip cost a couple thousand dollars. My actual bill from Penn Pres? $100.

I haven't gotten the Temple bill yet. And why not? Still getting processed through insurance, I guess.

And there's the point right there: I have health insurance -- I have fairly good health insurance that ensures that if I blow myself up in a fireball (that's an exaggeration) or get in an accident or get sick, I'm not going to be paying thousands of dollars in medical bills.

I'm fortunate. Lucky. Privileged to be working a job that allows me to have benefits. And look, I'm fairly young (turning 29 on Saturday, oh god) and healthy, but shit happens. Like fireballs and second-degree burns.

And shit happens to other people who don't have insurance -- who will get those bills in the mail and see that they have to pay those thousands of dollars.

Those "other people" aren't abstract. They might be my neighbors and friends. They might be the people on the trolley next to me, who work but don't get insurance. They might be my brother or other members of my family.

Why is this so hard to understand?

Monday, October 15, 2012

laying out my winter clothes and wishing I was gone

1. This is a great cover of "The Boxer." 

(Paul Simon once said that the "lie la lies" were a failure of poetic imagination. Could you imagine this song without them?)

2. This is an interesting set of profiles from The Academy of American Poets: 6 Poets, 6 Questions

3. This is a short poem for a long day:

blessing the boats
Lucille Clifton
 (at St. Mary's)
may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back    may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

after an interlude

Harrumph. I am a bad blogger, but I thought I'd try to start this going again with a couple of updates.

1. Stuff I've been reading:
Home, Toni Morrison
The Solitude of Prime Numbers, Paolo Giordano
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz (who was at the Free Library in mid-September. I didn't go because I'd just started this book)
The Price of Malice, Archer Mayor (who is the father of one of my friends; also a Vermonter and  an EMT/medical examiner/detective/everything and the kitchen sink)

I can do book thoughts if anyone wants on any of these.

2. Stuff I've seen:
While I don't go see movies in the theater (mainly because my roommate has a projector and we have a nice white wall on which to project), I did see Beasts of the Southern Wild a few weeks ago. I have yet to sort out my thoughts about it.

Also, this, which I came across a couple of weeks ago. Every girl should watch it:

3. Life in general:
I had an incident with my gas stove and a fireball (don't ask!) and ended up in the hospital with 2nd-degree burns on my right forearm and 1st-degree burns all the way to my shoulder. I have pictures...which I'm not going to share because I don't want to make anyone vomit. Anyway, I'm fine, my arm's fine, and I am now sure to be much more careful when I turn on the oven and light the pilot light.

Last Friday was the fifth anniversary of my friend Ben's death. Ben was...I'm not sure how to explain Ben. Suffice it to say that he was a big part of a lot of lives. I'm not sure I can think of college as a whole without thinking of Ben.

4. I went up to Massachusetts this past weekend. The leaves have started to turn:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

a geography of poetry

I kind of love The Academy of American Poets' National Poetry Map. You can click on a state and it'll give you a list of poets who came from there (and their poetry), the "poetic history" of the state, and current poetry events. 

I've lived in a few places in my (relatively short) lifetime, so I thought I'd do a quick synopsis of what I'll call my poetic geography.

(Pardon the screwed-up formatting. Blogspot's being bratty.)

When I tell people that I grew up in New York (Long Island, to be precise), I get odd looks and often a "You don't act/sound/seem like a New Yorker." Maybe not, but it's where I lived until I was 13. And I've got roots there, as my great-grandparents on both sides came over to Ellis Island back in the early 1900s. 

We can lay claim to a lot of poets:
Billy Collins  (born in the city in 1941)
Langston Hughes (lived in Harlem) 
Louise Gl├╝ck (grew up on LI)
Walt Whitman (grew up in Brooklyn and on LI)
John Ashberry (born in Rochester)
June Jordan (born in the city)

...and many more. Have some Hughes to start your day:

Dream Variations

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun, 
To whirl and to dance 
Till the white day is done. 
Then rest at cool evening 
Beneath a tall tree 
While night comes on gently, 
Dark like me-- That is my dream! 

To fling my arms wide 
In the face of the sun, 
Dance! Whirl! Whirl! 
Till the quick day is done. 
Rest at pale evening . . . 
A tall, slim tree . . . 
Night coming tenderly 
Black like me.

We moved to central Mass when I was 13. When people ask me where I'm "from,"
I usually say Massachusetts, even though I only really lived there from ages 13-18. 

Massachusetts is, well, it's a hub of poetry. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson (The Sage of Concord) 
ee cummings (born in Cambridge) 
Anne Bradstreet (emigrated to MA with the Puritans) 
Emily Dickinson (the Belle of Amherst)
Robert Lowell (born in Boston) 
Robert Frost (grew up in Lawrence)

Need I go on? 
Have a wee bit of Frost:

For Once, Then, Something
Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

'cause we're gonna be all right

 Ack. So I'm a bad blogger. Maybe the heat's gotten to me. Or perhaps I'm just lazy.

I feel sometimes when I'm starting to write that I've got something itching right under my skin, trying to get out, and it's hard to actually figure out what that itch means. Some days, a lot of days, I don't even try.

In any case, thoughts about things.

1. Around the PA area, two unrelated but parallel events: The NCAA handed down sanctions to Penn State and Msgnr. William Lynn was convicted of child endangerment and sentenced to three to six years in prison. People in power, covering their asses and harming others in the meantime.
I've no stake in the Penn State part, except that I wonder how much this will affect the community at large, as this article points out.
As for Monsignor Lynn, well. Every time I try to write, or even think about the abuse cases in the Church, it comes out something like this: aofujasjdakjdhfajsdhRAGE. I became Catholic in part because of the social teachings of the Church: the preferential option for the poor, the belief in human dignity and the common good. I believe in those things, strongly. And between this and the Vatican's attack on the nuns, my hope just starts to dwindle.

2.On the shootings in Colorado:
It's about Guns, Not About Satan

Sort of related, but not really: my friend Logan wrote a book called Reborn on the Fourth of July, a discussion about pacifism, just war, and the military. (I haven't read it yet, but I know Logan, and it should be good.)

3. And because the world is depressing, and I have too much on my mind, have a cat:
 (Note that she is sleeping on top of my copy of The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Lit cat!)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

these heroic happy dead

Have some ee cummings for the fourth of July.

"next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims' and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn's early my
country 'tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?"

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water

Monday, July 2, 2012

But, sure, the sky is big, I said

Happy Canada Day to all you Canadians!

So I haven't posted in almost a month. Really, really bad blogger.

I went camping in Maine a couple of weeks ago with my parents and spent a lot of time climbing over rocks and hanging out in Acadia. We also went sea kayaking.

Here are a couple of pictures.

 A view from the rocks:

Sunset after kayaking:

I was also in my cousin Carolyn's wedding. Here's a picture of me with her brother's kids, the flower boys:

I'm reading a couple of books right now, so I hope to post some book thoughts soon.

Friday, June 8, 2012

bring only what you must carry

I have been a bad, bad blogger recently. Or just a busy one. I'm not sure. Despite my busyness, though, not much significant has happened in my life. So here's a poem from the new U.S. poet laureate, Natasha Tretheway:

Theories of Time and Space

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 a 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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Don't know the answer but I know who to blame

Stuff I've been reading:

1. The dissolution of the Philly public school district:

From the CityPaper: Who's Killing Philly Public Schools?
In short, it was a plan to shutter 40 schools next year, and an additional six every year thereafter until 2017. The remaining schools would be herded into "achievement networks" of 20 to 30 schools; public and private groups would compete to manage the networks. And the central office would be reduced to a skeleton crew of about 200. (About 1,000-plus positions existed in 2010, and district HQ has already eliminated more than a third of those.) Charter schools, the plan projects, would teach an estimated 40 percent of students by 2017.
 From the Inquirer: The end of public education in Philly
There is no assurance that these Achievement Networks will be funded equitably. A bidding process — yet to be explained by the SRC or Mr. Knudsen — would determine who controls each network. Anyone may be chosen: former district personnel; charter-school operators; corporations such as Mosaica, KIPP and Kenny Gamble’s Universal; or politicians, including State Rep. Dwight Evans, who last year bullied the CEO of one charter school behind closed doors in order to override the choice of parents at Martin Luther King High School.
How have we arrived at a point where the public-school system can be auctioned off to the lowest bidder?
2. On the death penalty:

Yes, America, We Have Executed an Innocent Man
The ultimate villain of this awful story, Hernandez died in prison, in 1999, boasting to the end that he had killed Wanda Lopez and allowed another man to take the fall for it. The cops knew this. The prosecutors knew or should have known it. Witnesses knew it. And yet no one did anything to stop the state executioners from carrying out their job. Why no one listened to Hernandez for all those years, and why no one hears the cries of others today, is a question Justice Scalia and many others have to answer for themselves.

3. Jobs, and stuff:
The Fastest Dying Jobs of this Generation (and What Replaced them)

....apparently, sociologists are a dying breed.

4. Another take on gay marriage:

What Straight Allies Need to Understand about Gay Marriage and States' Rights

5. Just 'cause I love my home state:

Massachusetts is the best state in the union

(Maybe not the drivers, though)

Monday, May 14, 2012

my reindeer flies sideways

My youngest brother is all graduated from college, which means he is officially an engineer.

Here we are at his commencement:

And we went to Maine to celebrate, so here are the three of us (actually, this is over the river in Portsmouth, NH, but whatever):

I am really not old enough that my baby bro is out of college.  

(The title of this post comes from a camp song, of course:

To the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance":

My reindeer flies sideways; your reindeer flies upside down.
My reindeer flies sideways; your reindeer is dead.

...and now you've got it in your head, right? Mwahahaha)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

all right then.

I live in PA, not NC, so I haven't really been following the news about Amendment One. But I heard today that the ban on same-sex marriage passed.

My first thought was, "What the hell, NC?" But my actual thoughts are a little more complicated than that (uh, did you expect them not to be?), so here are some of the things that are running through my head. My head is a spacey, disjointed, chaotic place, so forgive me if my thoughts come out that way.

1. I'm a politically liberal and (probably) theologically orthodox Catholic. I don't think that's a contradiction, and just because a certain subset of voices speaks the loudest doesn't mean that we don't exist. (helloooooooo, Catholic Workers.)  When I became Catholic, my dad said to me, "But you're so anti-authoritarian." Yeah. Still am, a bit. And, frankly, the leadership of the Church has done almost nada to convince me that they're morally superior to your average Joe Schmoe (or Jane Schmoe) on the street. See: sexual abuse cases.

2. I don't think that religious beliefs about sexual orientation or marriage should influence how the state views them. And vice versa. And I think that married same-sex couples should get the same rights and privileges as, umm, non-same-sex (heterosexual? opposite-sex?) couples.

3. Marriage has not always been one man and one woman. If you want to make an argument based on history, that's not the way to go (and for years and years, women and children were considered property. Yeah, history: real moral).

4. Anyway, bullshit on the "marriage being redefined" thing. The Church isn't being forced to redefine the sacraments, is it?  And really, if your marriage is so weak that a gay couple getting married is going to screw it up...well, I really have nothing to say to you.

5. My God has much more to say about things like taking care of the poor and standing up to injustice than he does about sex. And if I'm wrong? If I stand before God one day and he looks down at me and condemns me for supporting marriage equality? Well, in the words of the immortal Huck Finn, All right then, I'll go to hell.

6. My life is not affected by this. Really. It's not. I'm a straight girl. Hell, I don't even know if I want to get married. So I don't even have a dog in the so-called fight. But...

7. Cliche of cliches: I have gay friends. I have gay friends who are couples, who are married. And this kind of thing? It hurts them.

There you are, darlings. Let me know if I used one of these, and don't do it yourself.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

nothing beside remains.

This is from a request that I got and didn't get to post during National Poetry Month, so I'm posting it for Poetry Tuesday:

Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away". 

(Despite how heavy-handed this poem can be, I've always wanted to climb a mountain or a building and shout from the top, "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

...what? I'm a lit nerd.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

and all God needs is gravity to hold me down

 Happy May Day!

I'm listening to Alison Krauss's "Gravity." Now, there are a lot of Alison Krauss songs that I love, but I think this one is my favorite. It's a quieter song, less country-ish than a lot of Union Station's other songs. But the lyrics also draw me in:

And all the answers that I started with
Turned out questions in the end

I've found this to be the case in my life--that certainties turn into uncertainties, that answers actually aren't answers at all. If you'd asked me certain questions when I was 18, I would have given you straight-forward, absolute answers. I'm more apt to ramble these days, to circle around questions, to see different points of view. Part of growing up, I think.

There are still things that I am certain of: I think all kids have a right to a good education; we should treat everyone with respect and kindness; "different" does not equal "bad." So on and so forth. But, in general, I ask more questions than I have answers.

Or, if you ask my crankier self:
I have NUANCE, dammit. I will quote Whitman at you!
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.
I am large, I contain multitudes.

(Most of the time I am not cranky. But I like Whitman. And I like Alison Krauss.)

And the people who love me still ask me
When are you coming back to town?
And I answer, quite frankly,
When they stop building roads
And all God needs is gravity to hold me down

Monday, April 30, 2012

At four I was an Arabian wizard.

From my cousin Amy:

it's not exactly my number 1 favorite poem, but i love it.... "on turning ten" by billy collins. such a beautiful way of describing what it's like to leave childhood behind, to become aware, to lose the person you once were and the inner life that set you free. i especially love the last stanza.

On Turning Ten
Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

This was no playhouse but a house in earnest.

I cannot believe that April (and thus, National Poetry Month) is almost over. It flew by me so quickly that I haven't had a chance to catch my breath.

Whew. I will try to get the rest of the poems up in the next few days.

Here's Amaryllis's request: "Directive," by Robert Frost. She writes,

Why I like it: the simple language that conveys ideas that aren't simple at all. (I had more to say, but I won't push my luck this time.)

Amaryllis (and others), feel free to say more in the comments!

Robert Frost

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather, 
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
The road there, if you'll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost, 
May seem as if it should have been a quarry—
Great monolithic knees the former town
Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered.
And there's a story in a book about it:
Besides the wear of iron wagon wheels
The ledges show lines ruled southeast-northwest,
The chisel work of an enormous Glacier
That braced his feet against the Arctic Pole.
You must not mind a certain coolness from him
Still said to haunt this side of Panther Mountain.
Nor need you mind the serial ordeal
Of being watched from forty cellar holes
As if by eye pairs out of forty firkins.
As for the woods' excitement over you
That sends light rustle rushes to their leaves,
Charge that to upstart inexperience.
Where were they all not twenty years ago? 
They think too much of having shaded out
A few old pecker-fretted apple trees.
Make yourself up a cheering song of how
Someone's road home from work this once was,
Who may be just ahead of you on foot
Or creaking with a buggy load of grain.
The height of the adventure is the height
Of country where two village cultures faded
Into each other. Both of them are lost.
And if you're lost enough to find yourself
By now, pull in your ladder road behind you
And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.
Then make yourself at home. The only field
Now left's no bigger than a harness gall.
First there's the children's house of make-believe,
Some shattered dishes underneath a pine,
The playthings in the playhouse of the children.
Weep for what little things could make them glad.
Then for the house that is no more a house,
But only a belilaced cellar hole,
Now slowly closing like a dent in dough.
This was no playhouse but a house in earnest.
Your destination and your destiny's
A brook that was the water of the house,
Cold as a spring as yet so near its source,
Too lofty and original to rage.
(We know the valley streams that when aroused
Will leave their tatters hung on barb and thorn.)
I have kept hidden in the instep arch
Of an old cedar at the waterside
A broken drinking goblet like the Grail
Under a spell so the wrong ones can't find it,
So can't get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn't.
(I stole the goblet from the children's playhouse.)
Here are your waters and your watering place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

behind a thin veil

National Poetry Month and Poetry Tuesday, together.

From an anonymous commenter:

Title: Ascension
Author: Colleen Hitchcock
Explanation: Because it's pretty.

And if I go,
while you're still here...
Know that I live on,
vibrating to a different measure
--behind a thin veil you cannot see through.
You will not see me,
so you must have faith.
I wait for the time when we can soar together again,
--both aware of each other.
Until then, live your life to its fullest.
And when you need me,
Just whisper my name in your heart,
...I will be there.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

waka waka

More poetry! From Nenya:

The Symbolic Poem
by Fred Bremmer and Steve Kroese

< > !* ' ' #
^ " ` $$-
%*< > ~ #4
&[ ]../

This poem can only be appreciated by reading it aloud, to wit:

Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash,
Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash,
Bang splat equal at dollar under-score,
Percent splat waka waka tilde number four,
Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash,
Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Humans are awesome.

Most of the time, I dwell on how screwed-up this world is. Just about every day, I read the news...or I try to, and then I throw up my hands and say, "Shit. The world is going to hell in a handbasket."

But. But. It's Easter season. It's a time for celebration. And it's the middle of Passover, so in the midst of thinking about captivity, we have to remember that liberation is coming.

And, as such, I'm going to post things that make me think that there is hope for humanity after all.

1. Jamie Moffett, a friend of mine, has started an organization called Kensington Renewal. Kensington is Philly's poorest neighborhood, and Jamie, who has lived in Kensington for the past 10 years, is trying to turn some of the "abandominiums" into owner-occupied homes.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about it here.  And if you'd like to help out financially, you can do it here.

2. George Zimmerman was arrested. While this doesn't guarantee anything, and it doesn't make Trayvon Martin's death better, it's a (baby) step in the right direction.

3. This kid is awesome. Seriously.

4. The Wailin' Jennys won a Juno award for Best Roots & Traditional Album for their newest album Bright Morning Stars. I kind of love them, so here's "Bird Song."

5. And because poetry is always appropriate:

e.e. cummings
"spring is like a perhaps hand"

Spring is like a perhaps hand 
(which comes carefully 
out of Nowhere)arranging 
a window,into which people look(while 
people stare
arranging and changing placing 
carefully there a strange 
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps 
Hand in a window 
(carefully to 
and fro moving New and 
Old things,while 
people stare carefully 
moving a perhaps 
fraction of flower here placing 
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything. 
So, everyone, tell me: what gives you hope for humanity? 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

you know?

Continuing National Poetry month posting...

From the commenter "Captaincrude," I give you this:

Title: Poem I wrote
Author: Me
Explanation: He's really deep, and stuff.

Actual poem:

It's love!
Or so she says, I
heard, you

Monday, April 9, 2012

give the woman some space

This was going around on Facebook for a while: