Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Do Not Understand

I do not understand cake mixes.
Like sex with a blow up doll
all the fun is taken out.
For me, the fun part is taking out
my big brown earthenware bowl from the cupboard,
scooping the powdery flour, salt, and baking powders,
and leveling each scoop with a knife.

The scent of the vanilla wobbling on the teaspoon,
like an eye with the reflected light its pupil.

As a kid I used to hypnotize myself at lunchtime.
I'd move my head in circles over the oil globes floating
in my chicken soup,
a dozen eyes orbiting in unison, watching me,
kitchen moonlight overhead.

Mixing up the cake batter with my hand-held mixer
vibrating like a sex toy,
then lovingly licking the bars of the beaters
one at a time
while standing over the sink.

I have never understood ham sold in a can either.

-Emily Lisker

She Dreamed Of Horses

I recently had a dream where the word "peace" was written in cursive, in molasses, on the top of my closed blue laptop and my horses were licking it off.
-Laurie Giemza

She Dreamed of Cows

She Dreamed of Cows

I knew a woman who washed her hair and bathed
her body and put on the nightgown she'd worn
as a bride and lay down with a .38 in her right hand.
Before she did the thing, she went over her life.
She started at the beginning and recalled everything—
all the shame, sorrow, regret and loss.
This took her a long time into the night
and a long time crying out in rage and grief and disbelief—
until sleep captured her and bore her down.

She dreamed of a green pasture and a green oak tree.
She dreamed of cows. She dreamed she stood
under the tree and the brown and white cows
came slowly up from the pond and stood near her.
Some butted her gently and they licked her bare arms
with their great coarse drooling tongues. Their eyes, wet as
shining water, regarded her. They came closer and began to
press their warm flanks against her, and as they pressed
an almost unendurable joy came over her and
lifted her like a warm wind and she could fly.
She flew over the tree and she flew over the field and
she flew with the cows.

When the woman woke, she rose and went to the mirror.
She looked a long time at her living self.
Then she went down to the kitchen which the sun had made all
yellow, and she made tea. She drank it at the table, slowly,
all the while touching her arms where the cows had licked.

-Norah Pollard

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Twister Dream

I dreamt Bill and I were on our street but it resembled Brooklyn. There was a twister in view off in the distance, but coming towards us. We ducked into a basement level Chinese restaurant. I had Big Lily-dog under my arm balanced on my hip (all 75 pounds of her). I was thinking, this is just like The Wizard of Oz except Toto is awfully big!

Who Says I'm Not Good at Math?

Who says I'm not good at math? I've calculated every mistake I've ever made, to date!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third.

-Marge Piercy

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Henry Gould

Papa was always working on the house,
his long shadow bent across the sill
like a letter in an unknown alphabet

-Henry Gould
from the poem Hieroglyph

Sixteen Tons

Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said "Well, a-bless my soul"

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain
Fightin' and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol' mama lion
Cain't no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't a-get you
Then the left one will

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

- generally attributed to Merle Travis, possibly by George S. Davis

Langston Hughes


Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Is a strong seed
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

-Langston Hughes

Al Giordano

The garden of authentic democracy grows stronger when the weeds are pulled out of the soil. And so day in, day out, we tend to this garden, water and feed it, watching the seeds we planted and protected grow bigger and stronger than the former parasitical vines and weeds that society mistook, based only on their size, for the garden itself.

-Al Giordano

Marge Piercy

The real writer is one who really writes. Talent is an invention like phlogiston after the fact of fire. Work is its own cure. You have to like it better than being loved.

-Marge Piercy

Monday, October 26, 2009

Laundry Monday

Laundry is beautiful
hanging on the line
makes your sheets, socks
and underwear
simply smell divine

using all that 'lectricity
makin' towels dry fast
don't you know it ages them?
make 'em linger and last

I can't compete, buying
a new towel and sheet
'cuz I wanna have
enough to eat!

Grandma hung the laundry
every Monday at sunup
you'd know it was Monday
just by looking up.

When the sun can smile once
to dry our pants and shirts
We're happy, baby,
and we can eat desserts!

Tiny Poem

I care about the writing,
forget about the toys,
I just wanna stay home
and make a lotta noise!

Greg Brown Song

Slow Food

People want that slow food
Two minutes and they grouch
But give me ham baked all day long
And help me to the couch
Help me to the sofa
Put the quiet music on
I will lie and think about that ham
Long after it is gone.

I want some slo-o-o-o-ow food.

I don't want no food with cute names
No neon on a sign
A man can't live on advertising slogans
And conceptual design
Let somebody else go surf and turf
Someone else go carry out
Me, I want my food to know itself
Before it knows my mouth.

I want some slo-o-o-o-ow food
With all the love cooked in.

Why don't we start it in the mornin'
Leave us plenty of time for lovin'
Weekend homemade hot fresh bread
Make the whole house smell like an oven
And let it all just simmer
Cook in the good juices and the greases
Then we'll sit down at the table, baby
And slowly tear it into pieces.

I want some slo-o-o-o-ow food

-Greg Brown

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Live It

I read today about the breakthrough:
A doctor prescribes the six cookie diet.
He insists on six cookies!
His own cookies of course, baked in his white coat laboratory,
chock full of amino acids and proteins that only he can sell.

America wants to eat cookies and grow thinner.

How about no die-its.
How about living well?
Live it!

Play with your children,
do not plop them in front of a screen
in the name of Einstein.

Make food together,
Break bread together.
Eye contact,
I contact


We are in a new time.
Our First Lady hula hoops 142 revolutions
on the White House lawn
and all the planets notice.

-Emily Lisker

An Urban Retreat

A retreat in the wilderness can be a good thing for many artists. I wouldn't know first hand, I have always retreated to an urban studio. I was born in NYC and lived in the suburbs until I escaped on my own to Chinatown in NYC and then to RI. My grandparents loved urban too, they lived on Brighton Beach, in a little apartment right beside the boardwalk. I love New England cows and trees and apple orchards but I am an urbanite! I love the sound of trains, buses, bicycles and people. But most of all I like my solitude within the city. I find comfort in being near people. I travel on foot most of the time, when I walk my dog over to pick up library books or go to the post office, but my exchanges with people are usually simple. So far, 21 years in this town, nobody has tried to run my life. Hurray! I have not encountered snobbery or presumptuousness and I am grateful. This is a poor little mill city of 45 thousand people, 17 miles from the state capitol, Providence. Many folks here have never been to Providence. The town is full of characters, many of whom are early birds. When I wake up in the dark to go to my studio I always look to see which lights are on in the neighborhood, and it comforts me.

Public School 190, Brooklyn 1963

by Martín Espada

The inkwells had no ink.
The flag had 48 stars, four years
after Alaska and Hawaii.
There were vandalized blackboards
and chairs with three legs,
taped windows, retarded boys penned
in the basement.
Some of us stared in Spanish.
We windmilled punches
or hid in the closet to steal from coats
as the teacher drowsed, head bobbing.
We had the Dick and Jane books,
but someone filled in their faces
with a brown crayon.

When Kennedy was shot,
they hurried us onto buses,
not saying why,
saying only that
something bad had happened.
But we knew something bad had happened,
knew that before November 22, 1963.

-Martín Espada

When The Leather Is A Whip

When The Leather Is A Whip

At night,
with my wife
sitting on the bed,
I turn from her
to unbuckle my belt
so she won't see
her father
his belt

-Martín Espada

Saturday, October 24, 2009



The birds' favorite songs
You do not hear,

For their most flamboyant music takes place
When their wings are stretched
Above the trees

And they are smoking the opium
Of pure freedom.

It is healthy for the prisoner
To have faith

That one day he will again move about
Wherever he wants,
Feel the wondrous grit of life -
Less structured,

Find all wounds, debts stamped canceled,

I once asked a bird,
"How is it that you fly in this gravity
Of darkness?"

She responded,

"Love lifts

-Hafiz, from The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Norman Rush

The main effort of arranging your life should be to progressively reduce the amount of time required to decently maintain yourself so that you can have all the time you want for reading.
-Norman Rush

Pablo Neruda

I am here, watching, listening,
with half of my soul at sea and half of my soul on land,
and with both halves of my soul I watch the world

-Pablo Neruda
Translated by Robert Bly

A Question For Dreams

A Question for Dreams

why do you bring the dead
and write yourself
in love’s light

why her still and
empty face
the blue eyes and
tangled nylon hair
she doesn’t cry ouch
at the knots

dad wants to know
where he is
i didn’t tell him we threw
the videos out

-Jon Frankel

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Day I Discovered I Had Primate Wiring

I was driving.
I saw a face behind lightly tinted glass
turn towards me.
All I could see were her voluptuous shiny red lips
just like in a magazine,
and I got a shooting spark
running through my groin;
Zing! Zing!
what was that?
Shiny red lips
behind tinted glass.


I am charmed by the fat councilman who stands in his above-ground pool
With his penned-in Pointer watching
From the window.
His pressure-treated porch, his pink plastic flamingos.
He must have married recently.
The yard was never decorated before.
Just a dog cage in the back corner with a wrinkled blue tarp over it.
Now he has a pool, and a path of white gravel,
And stones painted cadmium yellow placed on the green slope,
Pots of geraniums and mums, an octagonal picnic table,
And colorful plastic chairs facing the lake.


To be a painter, a poet;
Compared to a teacher, a dentist, a butcher,
I am invisible.
Listening to the cars, the clock, the pen scribbling on paper,
A strange life this is.
I have no framed testimonials from academia,
Source of weary diseases.
I thank my grandfather for great legs, blue eyes,
And the audacity to go my own way.
I thank my grandmother for loving all of the children on the subway.
For simply loving me.

-Emily Lisker


It's a delight to be in my north-windowed work room.
Only the sound of the pen on the paper,
Cars driving up and down the street,
Clink of neighbor's chain link fence.
The sound of a person spitting, twice.
I watch children gather at the corner, waiting for the bus.

Ray Dream

I dreamt I was helping Ray pick out a shirt. He was about to give a talk and needed help choosing from four large, colorful, patterned shirts. They were on plastic white hangers and I held them up, one at a time. One shirt had an orange, red, and yellow pattern. But I picked a black and white patterned one thinking it would bring out Ray's white hair, black eyebrows and long black eyelashes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Juan Ramón Jiménez

Roots and wings. But let the wing grow roots
and the roots fly.

-Juan Ramón Jiménez

Russell Edson


A man is bending his wife.
He is bending her around something that she has bent
herself around.
She is around it, bent as he has bent her.

He is convincing her.
It is all so private between them.

He bends her around the bedpost.
No, he is bending her around the tripod of his camera.
It is as if he teaches her to swim
as if he teaches acrobatics
as if he could form her into something wet
that he delivers out of one life into another.

And it is such a private thing they do.

He is forming her into the wallpaper
he is smoothing her down into the flowers there
and he is kissing her pubis.

He is climbing into the wallpaper among the flowers
his buttocks moves in and out of the wall.

Ortega y Gasset

So many things fail to interest us, simply because they don't find in us enough surfaces on which to live, and what we have to do then is to increase the number of planes in our mind, so that a much larger number of themes can find a place in it at the same time.

-Ortega y Gasset

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I am grateful that when I walk out my door there is a town full of people doing things. A city with buses and people and cars and dogs and hot coffee.

At night the baseball lights come on and the top of the apartment house next door is lit by a triangle of light shining until the games are over.

Each night before I pull the bedroom shade, I look for the triangle of light, and I miss it on the nights they do not play.

Trunga Rinpoche

First, let us look at ourselves. If you put one hundred percent of your heart into facing yourself, then you connect with this unconditional goodness. Whereas, if you only put fifty percent into the situation, you are trying to bargain with the situation, and nothing very much will happen. When you are genuine in the fullest sense, you do not need the conditional judgement of good or bad, but you actually are good rather than you become good.

If we face ourselves properly, fully, then we find that something else exists there, beyond facing ourselves. Something exists in us that is basically awake, as opposed to asleep. We find something intrinsically cheerful and fundamentally pride-worthy. That is to say, we don't have to con ourselves. We discover genuine one hundred percent gold

- Trunga Rinpoche

I could never live in a town with mean librarians.

Bald Men Poem

Whenever I drive
and by chance there is a bald-headed man
driving in the car front of me,
And this has happened more than once,
I have the same daydream.
I dream of sitting on the man's shoulders,
his bald head between my thighs
my naked breasts draped over him.

-Emily Lisker

I Love Candy Corn

I love candy corn,
once a year, at Halloween,
delicious colorful witches fangs;
it can go stale, you know.

I once kept it
in a square squat
glass jar
on my shelf,
for color.

Years later I took a bite;
a rock that could break your teeth!

I love People magazine
once a year at the dentist.
Dramas of peoples' lives,
with glossy photographs.
The stories always pull me in

away from my own pain,
while in the other room
my dentist is mending teeth.

-Emily Lisker

James Thurber

Does it bother you to talk about the stories on which you’re working?
It bothers many writers, though it would seem that particularly the humorous story is polished through retelling.

Oh, yes. I often tell them at parties and places. And I write them there too.

You write them?

I never quite know when I’m not writing. Sometimes my wife comes up to me at a party and says, “Dammit, Thurber, stop writing.” She usually catches me in the middle of a paragraph. Or my daughter will look up from the dinner table and ask, “Is he sick?” “No,” my wife says, “he’s writing something.” I have to do it that way on account of my eyes. I still write occasionally—in the proper sense of the word—using black crayon on yellow paper and getting perhaps twenty words to the page. My usual method, though, is to spend the mornings turning over the text in my mind. Then in the afternoon, between two and five, I call in a secretary and dictate to her. I can do about two thousand words. It took me about ten years to learn.

-James Thurber, The Paris Review, Fall 1955


This morning I dreamt I was staying overnight at a hotel. I woke at three am and wanted to walk on the hotel treadmill but was too afraid so I called down to the kitchen and the chef said "I have a cleaver the size of your head, I will stand over you and protect you."

I have a show of paintings we need to frame and a few still need to be completed! We have to hang it a week from today. My butcher has been one of my biggest local advocates of my artwork, hanging my paintings in his butcher shop on Main Street.

Only One Rule


The sky
Is a suspended blue ocean.
The stars are the fish that swim.

The planets are the white whales I sometimes
Hitch a ride

The sun and all light
Have forever fused themselves into my heart
And upon my

There is only one rule
On this Wild Playground,

Every sign Hafiz has ever seen
Reads the same.

They all say,

"Have fun, my dear; my dear, have fun,
In the Beloved's Divine

O, in the Beloved's
Wonderful Game."

-Hafiz, from The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

I Have Learned So Much

So much from God
That I can no longer

A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,
a Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of Itself
With me

That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, an angel,
Or even a pure

Love has
Befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash
And freed

Of every concept and image
my mind has ever known.

-Hafiz, from The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky



all this time
The sun never says to the earth,

"You owe Me."

what happens
with a love like that -

it lights the whole

-Hafiz, from Love Poems from God, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Beloved Hafiz


the true nature of your

loving eyes
your every thought, word, and movement
is always, always


-Hafiz, from Love Poems from God, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Antonio Machado

Traveler, there is no path
Paths are made
by walking

-Antonio Machado

Mankind owns four things
that are no good at sea.
Anchor, rudder, oars,
and the fear of going down.

-Antonio Machado

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ernest Hemingway

When I am working on a book or story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and you know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.

-Ernest Hemingway

Gertrude Stein

Ms Stein... prefers to write outdoors, after she gets dressed. Especially in the Ain country, because there are rocks and cows there. Miss Stein likes to look at rocks and cows in the intervals of her writing. The two ladies drive around in their Ford till they come to a good spot. Then Miss Stein gets out and sits on a campstool with pencil and pad, and Miss Toklas fearlessly switches a cow into her line of vision. If the cow doesn't seem to fit in with Miss Stein's mood, the ladies get into the car and drive on to another cow. When the great lady has an inspiration, she writes quickly, for about fifteen minutes. But often she just sits there, looking at cows and not turning a wheel.
-The New Yorker October 13, 1934

Anthony Lane

I do have one very brutal writing ritual. If I'm working in the morning, I don't allow myself a cup of tea until I've written two paragraphs. It's harsh.
-Anthony Lane

Günter Grass

What is your daily schedule when you work?

When I’m working on the first version, I write between five and seven pages a day. For the third version, three pages a day. It’s very slow.

You do this in the morning or in the afternoon or at night?

Never, never at night. I don’t believe in writing at night because it comes too easily. When I read it in the morning it’s not good. I need daylight to begin. Between nine and ten o’clock I have a long breakfast with reading and music. After breakfast I work, and then take a break for coffee in the afternoon. I start again and finish at seven o’clock in the evening.

-Günter Grass

Toni Morrison

At first, thought I didn't have a ritual, but then I remembered that I always get up and make a cup of coffee and watch the light come. And she said, Well, that's a ritual. And I realized that for me this ritual comprises my preparation to enter a space I can only call nonsecular... Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make the contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in this mysterious process. For me, light is the signal in the transaction. It's not being in the light, it's being there before it arrives. It enables me, in some sense.

I tell my students one of the most important things they need to know is when they are at their best, creatively. They need to ask themselves, What does the ideal room look like? Is there music? Is there silence? Is there chaos outside or is there serenity outside? What do I need in order to release my imagination?

-Toni Morrison

Fork Lift

Yesterday we got two fifty pound bags of whole wheat flour and thirty pounds of raw whole almonds, ten pounds of sunflower seeds, and seven pounds of local peanut butter at J.A.R. Bakers Supply. They brought it to the loading dock at the warehouse by fork lift. On the way home I thought that's the way to get groceries, by fork lift! What a cool name for a diner that would be.


I had a wild dream at three in the morning when my dog woke me up. I was on Brighton Beach close to where my grandparents lived, near Coney Island and my deceased friend Maynard was there. My pal Sally said I'll let you two have a chance to talk. I was beside the boardwalk walking close behind him on the sand. He turned said why are you following me? I was thinking because you might die.

Then I gave my brother Peter and his friend apple pie slices that were perfectly whole but inside a plastic water bottle. They were eating the pie with a fork and it seemed like a great way to have portable pie. It wasn't until I woke up that I realized the logistics were sheer dream magic.

Poverty Economy

Our neighborhood has such poverty that when some families hang out their laundry to dry the towels are so worn out they look like gauze. It is heartbreaking. Some neighbors dry their clothes on their porches if they have them, if not they hang their T-shirts and jeans pinched between their apartment storm windows, or drape wet clothes over fire escapes or chain link fences. A few neighbors regularly raid the big blue recycle bins. You hear the clatter of bottles as they're searching for refundable bottles. They wheel hijacked supermarket shopping-carts full of empty bottles and cans collected from all of the neighborhood apartments to get a a nickel-a-bottle return at the Stop and Shop down the street in Blackstone, Massachusetts.

Chief Arvol Looking Horse

When you do ceremony - you can not have money on your mind. We deal with the pure sincere energy to create healing that comes from everyone in that circle of ceremony. The heart and mind must be connected. When you involve money, it changes the energy of healing. The person looking for help wants to get what they paid for; the Spirit Grandfathers will not be there, and our way of life is now being exploited! You do more damage than good.

No mention of monetary energy should exist in healing, not even with a can of love donations. When that energy exists, the Spirit Grandfathers will not even come. Only after the ceremony, between the person who is being healed and the Intercessor who has helped connect with the Great Spirit, can the energy of money be given out of appreciation. That exchange of energy is from the heart; it is private, and does not involve the Grandfathers! The person who received the help can now give the Intercessor whatever gift of appreciation they feel their healing is worth.

- Chief Arvol Looking Horse

Monday, October 19, 2009

Brenda Ueland

Why should we all use our creative power and write or paint or play music, or whatever it tells us to do?

Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.

-Brenda Ueland

Andrea Gale Goodman

for Rose, August 24, 2009

I’m looking out my window—
mass of yellow flowers,
late summer blooms that
carry into autumn:
school-starting time
for all my childhood
and all yours.

This year, you’re leaving—
leaving childhood
leaving this house
leaving me.
Perhaps I’ve been clumsy
but it was my best I gave you
and somehow good enough
that you are ready to go,
ready to begin your life
without me, our house, the rock of Maine
under you.

If the house, even after 200-odd years,
were to fall down and blow away,
the rock that supports it would still be rock.
If we were to abandon
this solid, cozy house,
sell it, move away,
it would still be a house
though not quite the same
without your artwork or my piano,
curtains I sewed for the kitchen
twenty years ago,
or the sounds of our feet and voices.
It would miss us,
yet still be a house,
happy to shelter another family.
What am I
when you lift off?
I don’t sense the gravity
to hold my form steady.
Without the daily bearing of you
I can’t say
I am here.

You have no idea
how I treasure
your rare smiles,
the honey color of your hair,
the luminosity of your skin.
The mother-heart bursts
for a gesture, a word!

And maybe it’s best you don’t know
Or how could you move freely?
Ah, that’s why you hide—
always out or behind a door—
you do know and can’t move,
knowing I am feeling every
nuance and ripple
from my place under your footsteps.

Just consider that when we began,
I carried you
inside me,
and then always in my arms
close to my heart,
and then in my lap
if I sat down!
I learned to be available
whenever possible.
Yes, it was long ago,
but then remember
when Daddy moved out
leaving just me here with you,
I used all my forces
and many beyond me
to give you solid ground
and space to grow,
and how to balance
solid with spacious?
Groping blindly, listening hard,
as you pushed
to separate.

I don’t expect you to imagine your mother.
Or to think of me
at a time like this.
Who thinks of what the Earth feels
as we walk and travel,
meet and part?
Do we ever imagine
how much She is loving
each creature
drawing sustenance
from her breast?
Perhaps our rare gratitude
is to her as for me
your smile.

I bless your going,
Precious Daughter,
and trust you know
I will always
eternally be

-Andrea Gale Goodman

Loveable Robots

I.B.M. has patented a computerized voice that is said to be almost indistinguishable from human ones. This voice is programmed to include "ums," "ers" and sighs, to cough for attention, even to "shhh" when interrupted. According to Andy Aaron, of I.B.M.'s Thomas J. Watson research group speech team: "These sounds can be incredibly subtle, even unnoticeable, but have a profound psychological effect. It can be extremely reassuring to have a more attentive-sounding voice."
-Roy Blount Jr.

Song to Grits

Song to Grits
When my mind's unsettled,
When I don't feel spruce,
When my nerves get frazzled,
When my flesh gets loose -

What knits
Me back together's grits.

Grits with gravy,
Grits with cheese.
Grits with bacon,
Grits with peas.
Grits with minimum
Of two over-medium eggs mixed in 'em: um!

Grits, grits, it's
Grits, I sing -

Grits fits
In with anything.

Rich and poor, black and white,
Lutheran and Campbellite,
Jews and Southern Jesuits
All acknowledge buttered grits.

Give me two hands, give me my wits,
Give me forty pounds of grits.

Grits at taps, grits at reveille.
I am into grits real heavily.

True grits,
More grits,
Fish, grits and collards.
Life is good where grits are swallered.


-Roy Blount, Jr.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oscar Hijuelos

In the hallway of our building on 118th Street, or mailbox had the name of Basulto instead of Hijuelos on the buzzer, because my parents' names were not on the lease. For years and years we knew that the name should be changed, but somehow couldn't be changed, because the landlord might then pass some judgement on our sustainability as tenants and evict us. Multiply these simple but dislocating experiences by a thousand and know that they are far away and nowhere as vivid in my mind now as they were then, and you can have a vague idea of what it's like to be raised with a feeling of what I would call "second classness."
-Oscar Hijuelos, Cool Salsa

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Charles Dickens

Some years ago, a temporary inability to sleep, referable to a distressing impression, caused me to walk about the streets all night, for a series of several nights. The disorder might have taken a long time to conquer, if it had been faintly experimented on in bed; but, it was soon defeated by the brisk treatment of getting up directly after lying down, and going out, and coming home tired at sunrise.
-Charles Dickens

André Aciman

The very act of writing has become my way of finding a space and of building a home for myself, my way of taking a shapeless, marshy world and firming it up with paper, the way the Venetians firm up eroded land by driving wooden piles into it.

I write to give my life a form, a narrative, a chronology; and, for good measure, I seal loose ends with cadenced prose and add glitter where I know things were quite lusterless. I write to reach out to the real world, though I know that I write to stay away from a world that is still too real and never as provisional or ambivalent as I'd like it to be. I write to find out who I am; I write to give myself the slip.
-André Aciman

Literary Cows

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, England, Jan. 28, 2009 United Press International -- A researcher at England's Newcastle University says cows with names tend to be happier and more productive than their nameless fellow cows.

Dr. Catherine Douglas said she analyzed data collected from more than 500 British dairy farms of varying sizes, and found that cows given names by farmers produce an average extra pint and a half of milk per day, adding up to an extra 6,800 gallons a year for an average dairy farm, The Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

Douglas said cows with names also tend to be more docile during milking and are less likely to kick or stomp on farmers.

"Just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if they are given a bit more one-to-one attention," the researcher said.

Douglas said named cows produce less cortisol, a stress hormone that has been tied to lower milk production.

"What our study shows is what many good, caring farmers have long since believed," she said. "By placing more importance on the individual, we not only improve the animals' welfare and their perception of humans, but also increase milk production."
-United Press International

I want to know what happens when we read poetry to the cows.

I woke dreaming of the Guggenheim

I woke dreaming of the Guggenheim
and Frank Lloyd Wright's hawkish face.
My dog stood up placing her paws on the bed
and I hugged her gigantic horse head.
It's time! I was asleep at nine and now it's five thirty.
I am ready for the day. I stop off in my office on my way down the stairs and turn on my computer. I turn on a path of lights in the dark house leading to the dark back yard. I look up and see the big dipper directly overhead. The neighbors in the apartment house nearby are awake. They have their kitchen lights on. They are always up early too. I turn on my kitchen light as if to say hello.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Garcia Lorca

I am thirsty for odors and laughs,
I am thirsty for new poems,
poems with no lilies or moons,
and no love affairs about to fail.
-Garcia Lorca


I'd love to swim with a swami
in my pajami
and do origami.
Ah me.

Writers' Rooms

The minute I walk into this room of my own, I swear I become a different person. The wife, the mother, the granny, the cook, the cleaner - all vanish, for two or three hours only the writer is left.
-Margaret Forster

The room is the view. I spent quite a lot of my childhood happily looking out of windows: the coming and going of birds, and the weather seemed to be some kind of event, and now when I am not writing I look out of the window in much the same way.
-Adam Phillips

I cleverly chose the worst place in this sunny house - cold, close to a busy street, piled with toys and pans and our only phone - which will, one day, become part of the kitchen. I can't wait.
-Charlotte Mendelson

I have worked in this room since 1992, and wrote Mao: The Unknown Story here. My co-author and husband Jon Halliday has a study on the floor below. We'd meet up at lunchtime and exchange our discoveries.
-Jung Chang

My room is at the top of the house up two flights of stairs, which is very useful as people have to think before they disturb you. I've worked here for 42 years and written all my books and done all my illustrations here. For most of that time my husband, Nigel Kneale, worked next door. It was useful because we could pop into each other's room when one of us had a bad moment. We seemed to come to a stop for lunch at more or less the same moment. It was a very good time; I was very lucky. He used to tell me about the plays he was going to write, and I used to show him my pictures. Sometimes he'd say "isn't that child's head too big?" and he was always right. But he always liked them, otherwise it would have been rather awful.
-Judith Kerr

Before I had kids I used to get up early to write. If I started at 6 or 7am, and was writing well, I would finish by 1pm, sometimes earlier. I can't do that any more because my eight-year-old son is a light sleeper like me and uses the excuse to get up and come in for a chat. I've told the kids they can come in whenever they want, and because they know this they don't actually bother that much. I've read of writers who enforce something like a prison "silent system" on their families, but there are more important things than writing.
-Ronan Bennett

I'm surrounded, it turns out, by as many writing tools as possible: laptop, typewriter, notebooks, file cards, pens. I hadn't quite realised this multi-functional obsession. I tend to take notes on notebooks (always the same pens, the same notebooks). Some notes are copied on to file cards. At other times I just write straight on to the laptop - always distracted by my intermittent attention span and the temptations of the internet.
-Adam Thirlwell

I sit with my back to the beautiful central garden. There is no easy chair. When I am exhausted, I lie on the floor. I like the way the windows go from floor to high ceiling. No curtains. I prefer nothing or shutters. Curtains look like the cloakroom in a monastery. The carpet comes from Christopher Legge and is a mad Matisse Oceania of pineapples and zigzags like a pin-table. It's the kind of carpet everyone else thinks is a mistake. You need a pair of Ray-Bans. But my motto is "bugger beige".
-Craig Raine

Standing Up

I have to work standing at my desk. I focus best this way and is my way of communicating to my body that I am working. I paint, write, read, wash dishes and play bari sax standing up. At the end of the day I crawl into bed and think Wow, who invented lying down.

Jonathan Rosen

The wonderful thing about writing is that it forces you to confront yourself in a way you don't usually have to. That is, needless to say, also the terrible thing.

-Jonathan Rosen

Perhaps it is the need to approach this mystery that explains why I am a grown man who stays home with the nanny when other people are going to work. And why, as I sit in the maid's room proudly overhearing my daughter speak her first words in my language, I find myself hoping I will capture a few forgotten elements of hers.

-Jonathan Rosen

Marge Piercy

There is something so personal and so impersonal at once in the activity that it is addictive. I may be dealing with my own anger, my humiliation, my passion, my pleasure; but once I am working with it in a poem, it becomes molten ore. It becomes "not me." And the being who works with it is not the normal, daily me. It has no sex, no shame, no ambition, no net. It eats silence like bread. I can't stay in that white-hot place long, but when I am in it, there is nothing else. All the dearness and detritus of ordinary living falls away, even when that is the stuff of the poem. It is as remote as if I were an archaeologist working with the kitchen midden of a 4,000-year-old city.

I am still a good interviewer and a good listener because I am madly curious about what people's lives are like and what they think about them and say about them and the silences between the words.

-Marge Piercy

Alice Hoffman

Writers don't choose their craft; they need to write in order to face the world.
-Alice Hoffman

Once I got to my desk, once I started writing, I still believed anything was possible.
-Alice Hoffman

Caroline Knapp

I once heard a woman who had lost her dog say that she felt as though a color were suddenly missing from her world: the dog had introduced to her field of vision some previously unavailable hue and without a dog, that color was gone. That seemed to capture the experience of loving a dog with eminent simplicity. I'd amend it only slightly and say that if we are open to what they have to give, dogs can introduce us to several colors with names like wildness, nurturance, trust and joy.
-Caroline Knapp

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Face In The Toyota

The Face In The Toyota

Suppose you see a face in a Toyota
One day, and you fall in love with that face,
And it is Her, and the world rushes by
Like dust blown down a Montana street.

And you fall upward into some deep hole,
And you can't tell God from a grain of sand.
And your life is changed, except that now you
Overlook even more than you did before;

And these ignored things come to bury you,
And you are crushed, and your parents
Can't help anymore, and the woman in the Toyota
Becomes a part of the world that you don't see.

And now the grain of sand becomes sand again,
And you stand on some mountain road weeping.

-Robert Bly

Things To Think

Things To Think

Think in ways you've never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you've heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he's carrying on his
A child of your own whom you've never seen.

When someone knocks on the door, think that he's
To give you something large: tell you you're forgiven,
Or that it's not necessary to work all the time, or that
Been decided that if you lie down no one will die.

-Robert Bly

Geraldine Brooks

It is human nature to imagine, to put yourself in another's shoes. The past may be another country. But the only passport required is empathy.
-Geraldine Brooks

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The primary benefit of practicing any art, whether well or badly, is that it enables one's soul to grow.
-Kurt Vonnegut

Sue Miller

Do we writers need to shed our bathrobes, get dressed at last and shuffle blinking out of our studies into the bright light of day, find jobs as laborers or insurance executives or physicians or models or pimps in order to have something wilder, something more exciting, something more relevant to contemporary life to write about?

Surely not. Surely the writer's job is to make relevant the world she wishes to write about. How? By writing well and carefully and powerfully. By using humor, as Cheever did; or violence, as O'Connor did; or rue, as Chekhov did, to make the territory of her imagination compelling and somehow universal. And that holds true whether the territory of the imagination is close to the literal truth of her life or far from it.

-Sue Miller

William Saroyan

There is no how to it, no how do you write, no how do you live, how do you die. If there were, nothing would live in the deep and very delicate chain of life. It is the doing that makes for continuance. It is not the knowing of how the doing is done.

-William Saroyan

Elie Wiesel

Now with the passing of years I know that the fate of books is not unlike that of human beings: some bring joy, others anguish. Yet one must resist the urge to throw away pen and paper. After all, authentic writers write even if there is little chance for them to be published; they write because they cannot do otherwise, like Kafka's messenger who is privy to a terrible and imperious truth that no one is willing to receive but is nonetheless compelled to go on.

Were he to stop, to choose another road, his life would become banal and sterile. Writers write because they cannot allow the characters that inhabit them to suffocate them. These characters want to get out, to breathe fresh air and partake of the wine of friendship; were they to remain locked in, they would forcibly break down the walls. It is they who force the writer to tell their stories.

-Elie Wiesel

Morning Poems

Something about poetry in the morning
it's a marriage I cannot refuse.
The purity of the page, the leaping ideas
I can't hear the news of the world at this hour
Only the voice of my heart whispering in my ear.
I even take naps to wake up to poetry again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

About Four

One of my earliest memories is sitting on the yellow shag carpeted landing of our tiny black and white house on Knollwood Avenue in Mamaroneck watching my step father put on his red tie. I must have been about four.

There was a framed painting of a clown's face over my bed and the walls of my little bedroom were cobalt blue. A loose wire slapped the window pane during big storms and it terrified me. I slept with a human-sized stuffed blue and white rabbit and a tiny wind up round metal yellow music box that I kept under my pillow playing songs to drown out the sound of crashing thunder and the whipping wire.

M.F.K. Fisher

There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk. And that is my answer, when people ask me: Why do you write about hunger, and not wars or love?
-M.F.K. Fisher

The first thing I remember tasting and then wanting to taste again is the grayish-pink fuzz my grandmother skimmed from a spitting kettle of strawberry jam. I suppose I was about four.

We spent most of our time in a stream under the cottonwoods, or with Old Mary the cook, watching her make butter in a great churn between her mountainous knees. She slapped it into pats, and put them down into the stream where it ran hurriedly through the darkness of the butter-house.

Edward Estlin Cummings

Why do you paint? / For exactly the same reason I breathe … / And how long have you written? / As long as I can remember. / I mean poetry. / So do I. / Tell me, doesn’t your painting interfere with your writing? / Quite the contrary: they love each other dearly … / They’re very different. / Very: one is painting and one is writing. / But your poems are rather hard to understand, whereas your paintings are so easy. / Easy? / Of course — you paint flowers and girls and sunsets; things that everybody understands. / I never met him. / Who? / Everybody.
-Edward Estlin Cummings

The Man Who Didn't Know What Was His

The Man Who Didn't Know What Was His

There was a man who didn't know what was his.
He thought as a boy that some demon forced him
To wear "his" clothes and live in "his" room
And sit on "his" chair and be a child of "his" parents.

Each time he sat down to dinner, it happened again.
His own birthday party belonged to someone else.
And --was it sweet potatoes that he liked?--
He should resist them. Whose plate is this?

This man will be like a lean-to attached
To a house. It doesn't have a foundation.
This man is helpful and hostile in each moment.
This man leans towards you and leans away.

Maybe you've met this man who doesn't know what
is his.

-Robert Bly


Venus in the sky beside
a crescent moon lying on her back,
seven spinster sisters rowing madly across the river.
Neon diner signs glowing,
street sweepers sipping coffee,
six silly girls giggling at geese.
A young boy looks at a book of gigantic tarantulas.
I put on my thin green socks.

-Emily Lisker

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Richard Hugo

The poem is located in a specific place. You don't know where, but you know the poet knows where. Knowing where you are can be a source of creative stability. If you are in Chicago you can go to Rome. If you ain't no place you can't go nowhere.
-Richard Hugo

The more I practice, the luckier I get. If you write often, perhaps every day, you will stay in shape and will be better able to receive those good poems, which are finally a matter of luck, and get them down. Lucky accidents seldom happen to writers who don't work. You will find that you may rewrite and rewrite a poem and it never seems quite right. Then a much better poem may come rather fast and you wonder why you bothered with all that work on the earlier poem. Actually the hard work you do on one poem is put on all poems. The hard work on the first poem is responsible for the sudden ease of the second. If you just sit around waiting for the easy ones, nothing will come. Get to work.
-Richard Hugo

Monday, October 12, 2009

Munroe Dairy Marching Band

Our Munroe Dairy Marching Band played in two fabulous parades this weekend; Westerly's Columbus Day parade on Sunday and today was Woonsocket's Autumnfest parade! We had fun and the weather was perfect.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Pink Sheep

My friend Keith is what I call a pink sheep. In his family his parents and sisters and brother love him dearly but have no idea what to do with him. He is unique, funny, and creative as all get out; the pink sheep.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friendly Dog

Today Lily is wearing an apple patterned kerchief I originally sewed as a dinner napkin. I'm hoping her sweet doggie attire will dissuade the police from throwing us out of the festivities in the park. The city streets are sparkling! There is no trash! It's cleaner than Switzerland!


When you love words and poetry, life is a paradise sprinkled with libraries.

Urban Mermaid

Our neighborhood is like a mini Coney Island for this weekend's Autumnfest. I am so tempted to jump in Social Ocean (the park's pond) which is filled for only these three days. I love to swim outdoors and it is 65 degrees today! I have been reading Man on Wire Philippe Petit's book and I have been truly inspired.

Roald Dahl

The ship that was carrying me away from England to Africa in the Autumn of 1938 was called thr SS Mantola. She was an old paint-peeling tub of 9,000 tons with a single tall funnel and a vibrating engine that rattled the tea-cups in their saucers on the dining room table.
- Roald Dahl, Going Solo

Friday, October 09, 2009


Sometimes I think I should have a doggie day care and adoption agency called Lab-Adore! So many people have restless Labradors they don't know how to take care of and they stop me in the street and tell me.

Firemen's Onions

Lily and I walked through Autumnfest park and all the lights were on the spinning rides. Half a dozen firemen were crammed into a little booth peeling onions (and tearing up) while preparing their blooming onions and French onion soup. Perhaps they could salt the soup or put out neighborhood fires with their onion tears!

Remembering Richard Merkin

Before I was a student at RISD I was a nude model (I called it "mod noodle") and I would pose accompanied by my dog. Merkin was the teacher for one of the classes. There was a red-lipsticked blonde who brought a white Samoyed to his class. He would smooch her while our dogs barked at each other. It was a funny time.

When I was finally on the other side of the drawing pad, Merkin would stand behind me while I was drawing the nude and slurp his hot coffee in my ear, which always cracked me up and only encouraged him to do it every week in class. He always had silly wisecracks like, "It's tooth hurty; time to go to the dentist!"

Richard supported my artistic vision - we shared a love of graphic design and color and humor in art. When one of the painting teachers who I invited to view my paintings shredded my work, I went crying to Merkin. He consoled me, explaining that not all of his colleagues agree with each other. We talked about the Max Ernst painting, "The Hat Makes the Man." He helped me to get back on track.

I returned to RISD after having followed my boyfriend and his band to North Carolina for a year and a half. During that time I had lost a lot of weight. When Merkin saw me he said, "What happened, I liked you when you were zaftig." He was like a Jewish uncle.

When I graduated from RISD, Richard was angry that I was not planning to move to NYC. "You think people live there because they like tall buildings?" he screamed. I told him I escaped NYC to come to RI and had no intention of going back. I sent out my portfolio to all of the magazines when I was first freelancing as an illustrator, and when I went to retrieve my portfolio from Vanity Fair they said, "Merkin told us to keep it." I was thrilled and honored that he had gone to bat for me!

Recently I went to Richard's gallery in Hudson NY, and they showed me the book of Victorian porn he edited. It was hysterically funny and charming, old black and white photos with air-bushed pubes. I mailed Merkin postcards of my paintings and photos of my Munroe Dairy Marching Band. We spoke on the phone, and he wanted to know if I played jazz, and if I had kids (no on both counts). I really wanted to visit his new studio. I had no idea I wouldn't get to see him again. He was such a fun character. He will be missed.

Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Robert Bly

The purpose of art is to reopen negotiations with the mythical plane.
-Robert Bly

Cornel West

Music at its the grand archeology into and transfiguration of our guttural cry, the great human effort to grasp in time our deepest passions and yearnings as prisoners of time. Profound music leads us--beyond language--to the dark roots of our scream and the celestial
heights of our silence.
-Cornel West

You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you don't serve the people.
-Cornel West

I have tried to be a [wo]man of letters in love with ideas in order to be a wiser more loving person, hoping to leave the world just a little better than I found it.
-Cornel West

The country is in deep trouble. We've forgotten that a rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it. We need the courage to question the powers that be, the courage to be impatient with evil and patient with people, the courage to fight for social justice. In many instances we will be stepping out on nothing, and just hoping to land on something. But that's the struggle. To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word.
-Cornel West

Empathy is not simply a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through, but having the will to muster enough courage to do something about it. In a way, empathy is predicated upon hope.
-Cornel West

Fire Hydrant

There were three Woonsocket waterworks guys in glow-green sweatshirts working on the guts of a huge red fire hydrant on my street today. I've never seen fire hydrant surgery before. I asked, what happened? Someone had driven into it, knocking it over. The guys used files, brushes, and wrenches to fix it and set it back straight. As I walked away I kept thinking of those hydrant-shaped cookie jars filled with dog biscuits.


Today I hung a sheet of paper over my big wall clock in my office and leaned a postcard and a bookmark over the two other small clocks in the painting and drawing rooms. I didn't realize how many times I judge myself by the clock. I think I will leave it this way for a few more days.

Our Park

I decided to walk with Lily through the city to Fernandes Produce to get bananas. When we arrived I tied Lily out front and went in and bought a head of cauliflower and three big white onions along with the bananas. On the way home I let Lily swim in the WWII Park pond and she loved it. She swam after a stick and then ran in exuberant circles on shore. The fountain was running, spraying water! I was tempted to jump in too. I wish we could save the park from being abandoned by the State again and have free swimming lessons in the summer for the neighborhood kids and an arts-and-crafts shed for making art on rainy days just like they do at Spring Lake in Burrillville. We need to find a philanthropist to sponsor the cost of running the park and help save the city neighborhoods from devastating poverty. These kids need opportunities too.

Charlotte Bronte

I'm just going to write because I cannot help it.
-Charlotte Bronte

Let your performance do the thinking.
-Charlotte Bronte

Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs.
-Charlotte Bronte

There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.
-Charlotte Bronte

True enthusiasm is a fine feeling whose flash I admire where-ever I see it.
-Charlotte Bronte

Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.
-Charlotte Bronte

If you are cast in a different mould to the majority, it is no merit of yours: Nature did it.
-Charlotte Bronte

Roald Dahl

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.
-Roald Dahl

A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.
-Roald Dahl

A person is a fool to become a writer.
His only compensation is absolute freedom.
-Roald Dahl

A writer of fiction lives in fear. Each new day demands new ideas and he can never be sure whether he is going to come up with them or not.
-Roald Dahl

The writer has to force himself to work. He has to make his own hours and if he doesn't go to his desk at all there is nobody to scold him.
-Roald Dahl

The writer walks out of his workroom in a daze.
He wants a drink.
He needs it.
-Roald Dahl

Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people.
-Roald Dahl

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Our Munroe Dairy band rehearsed last night filling our living room (and neighborhood) with the sounds of drums, trumpet, trombone, and saxophone. Gerry Heroux, our musical director has composed a few new tunes for us to learn and they are great fun! I hope we'll still be doing this when we are 100 years old!

Fortune Cookie

Everyone around you is rooting for you. Don’t give up.
-Fortune Cookie

Monday, October 05, 2009

Circus Music

I'm playing circus music on the stereo as The Fanelli Brothers vehicles roll down our street on their way to set up their rides in Woonsocket's WWII Park for this weekend's Autumnfest!


If we allow ourselves to be enchanted by the beauty of the ordinary, we begin to see that all things are extraordinary.
-Dean Koontz

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sunday Walk

Lily and I took a big walk this morning. Early in the walk we saw a large blue + green ball rolling towards us. Our street is flat, so I couldn't understand what propelled the ball. It rolled right by us, as if it were motor controlled.

When we passed Savini's restaurant I noticed a pair of black patent leather pumps left out on the green carpeted front steps. I had to check if they were my size. I spotted the chef out back in his tomato-stained kitchen apron having a smoke. I walked over and Lily jumped up and kissed him. I told him about the shoes. He said They're not mine! I laughed. There was a wedding here last night, he said. Cinderella must have gone home without her shoes I joked. We laughed and Lily and I continued on.

When we walked through Precious Blood cemetery the orange, red, and yellow trees were reflected in the pond. Even the poison ivy had turned bright yellow. When we finally got to the secret swim spot, I needed to cool off. I lost my balance on the shore while trying to dip my hair in the water, and fell in. I didn't mind at all, I was ready to jump in! I remembered the dog biscuit in the tree where I placed it the other day. It was still there with only a few chew marks on it. I grabbed it and it was soggy. I gave it to Lily anyway. After a few rounds of fetch in the water, Lily ran up the hill, shook herself, and took off in an exuberant run. I yelled for her and when she did not respond I began to panic, running in the direction I last saw her. Then I spotted her near the soccer fields. I caught up with her, and we headed home.

Before I left my house I had boiled a pound of black-eyed peas to plump them up, and now I am slow-cooking them. Autumn always inspires my energy and appetite. On these full days I am sound asleep at eight or nine PM, but I do love to wake up early. And Lily is usually sitting by the bed, staring at me in the dark sending me telepathic wake-up signals!


I am not a camper by nature. Truth be told, I abandoned scouting at age 12, after the sophomore rank of Webelos, because I suffered from an intense childhood phobia of khaki uniforms, convinced they would portend a future career in package delivery. I only stuck with it as long as I did because, in my day, Webelos wore super-chic navy ensembles with a fleur-de-lis patch that always reminded me of a half-peeled banana.
-Eric Wilson

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Leaping Cow

I just went to Wright's Dairy Farm and just as I arrived farmer Rachel drove by in a green and yellow tractor resembling a golf cart but without a roof. She had a brown and white baby calf stretched across her lap. I ran after her. "She was born last night and is very wild" Rachel said as she placed the calf in the back tractor compartment and shoveled some dry sawdust into the calfs white plastic igloo. Then the baby cow tried to jump off the back of the tractor. I caught her. We were all getting soaked in the downpour but it was worth it. And the cow tried to jump over the moon. The full moon!


Longing for the Birds of Solomon

Is this stuff poetry? It's what birds sing in cages.
Where are the words spoken by the birds of Solomon?

How would you know their cries, if you heard them,
When you haven't seen Solomon even for two seconds?

Solomon's bird lifts his wings, one tip touches East, one West.
Those who hear the notes feel an intensity in their whole body.

The bird descends from the Holy One's bedroom door to Earth.
And from Earth it flies among light back to the Great Seat.

Without Solomon every bird is a bat in love with darkness.
Listen, oh mischievous bat, try to become his friend.
Do you want to stay in your cave forever?

If you go even three feet towards Solomon's mountain,
Others will use that as a yardstick to measure their lives.

Suppose your leg is gimpy, and you have to hop, what's the difference?
Going toward Solomon, even by limping, the leg grows whole.

-Rumi, Translated by Robert Bly

Louise Glück

it gets dark early.
And the rains get heavier; they carry
the weight of dead leaves.

-Louise Glück, from her poem Harvest

Kabir + Bly

From The Kabir Book: Forty-Four of the Ecstatic Poems of Kabir
translated by Robert Bly.


Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!
Think … and think … while you are alive.
What you call "salvation" belongs to the time before death.

If you don't break your ropes while you're alive,
do you think
ghosts will do it after?

The idea that the soul will join with the ecstastic
just because the body is rotten -
that is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
You will simply end up with an apartment in the city
of Death.
If you make love with the divine now, in the next life
You will have the face of satisfied desire.

So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is,
Believe in the Great Sound!

Kabir says this: When the Guest is being searched for,
it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that does all the work.
Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.

Søren Kierkegaard

Life must be lived forward, but can only be understood backward.
-Søren Kierkegaard

Friday, October 02, 2009

Lori Marie Carlson

Anger is the fountain of justice.
-Lori Marie Carlson

Mahatma Gandhi

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.
-Mahatma Gandhi

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.
-Mahatma Gandhi

I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Hate the sin, love the sinner.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Garrison Keillor

The ancients were dubious of success. They knew the gods were fickle, and if a mortal climbed too high up the cliff, the gods would stomp on his fingers and throw him into the sea. And, actually, the sea was the place to be. You could set sail and go see new worlds and meet mysterious women. "To travel hopefully is better than to arrive"--that is ancient wisdom. Start every day in a spirit of adventure and you're as successful as you can be.
-Garrison Keillor

Habit is The Muse

Writing is a habit like brushing my teeth. I've never been trained as a writer. Painting on the other hand is like pulling teeth and I was trained as a painter!


We're having a chilly day today, but I'm still considering going for my walk and swim. The cold doesn't scare me yet, it won't get seriously and consistently cold until mid-December. I am half Labrador so I'll gladly swim every time I am perspiring, which I usually am after the mile-and-a-half walk! I carry a bathing suit and a big towel in my maroon backpack (along with doggy poop bags) whenever I walk Lily. This ritual of getting out is very good for my head because I breathe and look around, I aerate my mind and my ideas. The swim revitalizes me and gives me a second wind, like drinking a cup of espresso. The solitude is important though I do love to see people along the way and wave hello. For me these daily walks are one of the secrets to happiness. I have boots and rain gear and wool hats and scarves for the wet and wintry days. I want to be brave and strong as a lobsterman, facing the weather in all of its moods. In winter my house is barely heated, so if I can warm up on a brisk walk the house feels warmer when I return. I did almost get hypothermia once swimming for 45 minutes in a cold pond in Vermont in Autumn (I was showing off!) So when it is really cold water I don't linger without a witness or a hot bath awaiting me.

French Passport

I wish I could sing in French! I studied French in Junior High, High School, and in college, and I would dream in French. Not that I understood what people were saying in my dreams, but I was dreaming the sounds. I would read French poetry and listened to Edith Piaf. I was in love with the sound of the language. I loved French photographers and did my presentation for French class in college on Henri Cartier Bresson, Brassai, and Robert Doisineau. Today I am trying to figure out how to make my dial-up computer stream French radio news. People in my town speak French-Canadian French which is much harsher sounding but still interesting to me. It is always mind expanding for me to hear another language, even more so if I don't understand it. I probably could remember the French I learned if I was listening to it on the radio while I worked. Years ago we caught a French-Canadian station broadcasting a baseball game from Quebec. I don't care about sports usually, but I loved the feeling of having traveled to another country while I was listening to the broadcast.

My favorite painting by Max Ernst is in the Museum of Modern Art and is called Deux enfants sont menacés par un rossignol, Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale. It was my favorite painting as a child because it has an actual miniature gate attached, like on a doll house. I still love this painting!

Years ago we were in Newport, Vermont and we stopped over in Quebec for the fun of it and we went into a diner. I saw Pain de Viande on a chalkboard and said oh I know those words, meat, bread . . . meat loaf! Then we went to a supermarket, and I bought peanut butter labeled in French. I was so excited. When the border guard asked us why we had gone into Canada for only two hours, I said "To buy French peanut butter!" They were not amused. They said, "You drove all the way up here from Woonsocket RI with your two dogs to buy French peanut butter? Wait here!"

Today I learned a few new phrases around the word tomber (to fall):

Ça ne pouvait pas mieux tomber
it couldn't happen at a better time
(it couldn't have fallen better)

tomber de la lune
to have dropped in from another planet
(to fall from the moon)

Tomber dans les pommes
to pass out
(to fall in the apples)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rumi + Kabir

I am having a Rumi and Kabir sandwich today!
Try it!