Monday, September 30, 2013

Autumn Haiku




Haiku for last day of September.

                            deep autumn
                            my neighbor,
                            how is he doing?
                                                          Basho

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Country Postcard


Finishing up another week with a poem by David Young from his book Seasoning: A Poet's Year.  If you love to read, read poetry, and find delicious recipes for each month, this is the book for you.  If you don't believe there is anything about the state of Ohio that is worthy of poetry, read this book.
There are perfectly seasoned, succulent recipes for September, including 'Leif Ericson Pie,' 'Shaggy Mane Omelet,' 'Pears with Cheese and Walnuts' and Marcella Hazen's sadly simple 'zuppa dei poveri' (Poverty Soup).  Here is the poem. Enjoy the last weekend of September.

                A Country Postcard

September here, a haze on things,
diamond mornings, dying corn.
We have green fields here, white-flecked,
we have blue fields here, chicory,
yellow fields, four kinds of goldenrod,
and a man in a white shirt
and a red face
a man made out of words
stands by the B & O tracks
listening for the express
that disappeared west
before the tracks
began to rust.

There's a stillness
this morning, that the man
made out of words must walk through
listening
as he wades
in chicory, alfalfa,
wild carrot, goldenrod,
the nodding, growing,
dew-decked, soon-to-die
words.
                           David Young

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Memory Lapses



Last night I gave a ride to a woman in the early stages of early Alzheimer's. Most of the time it's impossible to discern her illness. She's alert and it's only the occasional short-term memory lapses that give clues to her state. She has lost her driver's license, not from an accident, but because her doc had her agree to a driver's test and she failed the test.

I found my way to her apartment and she hopped into my fourteen-year old Camry. Drove down the street and two blocks later took a right. Took a right and bounced over the corner curb. Both tires on the passenger side rocked over the curb and down to the street. Well, that launched her into a monologue about why she lost her license - 'I just went three inches over the line and lost my license.' I think she meant to say, 'You have your license and I don't?'
I'll spare you the details about the slow ride to drop her off. That would definitely be a case of too much information.  I'm hoping her short-term memory lapses allow her to forget our ride.

I also learned last night, from another source, about an embezzlement case at a prestigious private school. Apparently the embezzlement had been going on for a long time, but remained undiscovered. When I asked how that happened I learned that most accounting audits, looks at the books, don't look for that sort of thing. Only a forensic accountant can really do that. Must confess that was the first time I've ever heard forensic and accountant in the same sentence. So much to learn.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Comforts of Poetry


Reading a series in the Denver Post about the dangers that come from releasing prisoners too soon from prison. Hoping there is some redemption in the last articles of the series, because this is one grim series.
Don't know how much money went into the research that reveals that prisoners who spend significant time in isolation - aka solitary confinement - have a high record of returning to the streets and killing someone. What could anyone suspect from someone who has been treated like a wild animal, locked up and away from anything that even smells like civilized?
Dreary news, dreary pasts and soon-to-be dreary futures. So far, no strong recommendations on how to change things. The focus of these articles seem to be to promote fear in communities that some crazed criminal might be lurking in one's neighborhood. Sounds to me like a whole industry that needs to be reformed, with maybe just a tad of concern for the incarcerated individuals. Can you put this on your to do list, Pope Francis?

But, as usual, poetry gives us a temporary escape from the mind-numbing news, so I'll pass along Mary Oliver's Song for Autumn.

Song for Autumn

In the deep fall
    don't you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
    the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
    freshets of wind? And don't you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
    warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
    inside their bodies? And don't you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
    the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
    vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
    its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
    the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

To Autumn



So thankful we have poets who can say what we all want to say, just say it so much better. Is it possible that there is a better line anywhere, anytime than 'Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness' to describe autumn? There might be, but I certainly haven't seen or heard it.  It's been said that 'To Autumn' is the most anthologized poem in the English speaking world. Don't know how it stands up in translation. Here in Colorado, under the morning sun the snow-covered mountains dazzle in the vista and locally the
gathering swallows twitter in the trees.

                                 TO AUTUMN                                              
 Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
        With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
        And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
            To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
        Until they think warm days will never cease,
            For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.   
     
   Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
        Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
        Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
        Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
            Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
        Steady thy laden head across a brook;
        Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
            Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
        Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
        And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
        Among the river sallows, borne aloft
            Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
        Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
        The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
           And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

John Keats (1795-1821)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pilgrim Reunion



As summer turned to autumn this weekend, I had the honor to be at the Old Abiqui Inn in New Mexico, hosted by the warm and wonderful Wanda Roach. Well-travelled pilgrim, Pam Jones drove three of us from Denver to meet up with her pilgrim friends from New Mexico. With a group of seasoned pilgrims and a smaller group of individuals who plan to walk the Camino de Santiago, there was hardly enough air space to hold the anecdotes and tales of these adventurers. I've walked parts of the Camino three times and always had the good fortune after a long day's walk to end up at a refurbished farmhouse for the evening. And..as confessions go, it's fair to say my Denver friends and I carried only small backpacks, as our luggage was hauled in a van from one farmhouse to the next. In spite of our rather luxurious way of being pilgrims, we were still embraced by the unique New Mexican hearty pilgrims.
The Seasoned pilgrims at the gathering came in various ages and stages and have walked the way in a variety of places. One couple has walked across the United States, walked the Camino, walked from Rome to Jerusalem, and just recently sold their house and cars to go on pilgrimage in India for at least least three years.  A lot of one foot after the other piled up by this hearty group of pathmakers/pathseekers.
Wanda had told a couple who called to make a reservation at her inn over the weekend that they were welcome, but might not want to stay because there would be a celebration Saturday night by people who had walked the Camino de Santiago. Turns out the caller had walked the Camino, so arrived and became part of the celebration.
People came and stayed in campers; other people drove an hour or more to be there. Four of us drove seven hours to get there from Denver. What joy, what good energy emanated from everyone. Humble, high spirited men and women celebrating life.
We delivered Pilgrim Ann to the Sanctuario of Chimayo on Sunday where she will be in residence for at least a year, helping to develop a pilgrim center and several new trails that lead to Chimayo. A new, exciting adventure.
But Camino talk always brings me back to Cavafy's poem Ithaka. Enjoy. May all your pilgrimages, internal or external, bring you learning and peace.

Ithaca
When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood what these Ithakas mean.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Turning towards Autumn


Walked under the sun and moon again today. Counted fourteen little birds perched on the arm of a streetlight. Facing the birds was a gigantic 7-11 billboard advertising hug, fluorescent blue, yellow and green super-size slurpies. Wonder what the birds think of those colors in the local landscape.

The skies were noisier than they have been in months. Do you think all that honking is a reminder that fall officially begins on Sunday, so it's time to get moving plans in order? 

Going on a road trip tomorrow with some friends, taking Winter Pilgrim to Chimayo, where she'll be in residence for at least a year. Stay tuned for that adventure!

Just recently signed on to delanceyplace.com to see if the morning read is worthwhile. The posts are pretty random, as am I, so should be a good fit. But we'll see. Here's this morning's delanceyplace. See you in Autumn.







delanceyplace header
In today's selection -- women, men and body language:

"When we say someone is 'perceptive' or 'intuitive' about people, we are unknowingly referring to their ability to read another person's body language and to compare these cues with verbal signals. In other words, when we say that we have a 'hunch' or 'gut feeling' that someone has told us a lie, we usually mean that their body language and their spoken words don't agree. This is also what speakers call 'audience awareness,' or relating to a group. For example, if an audience were sitting back in their seats with their chins down and arms crossed on their chest, a 'perceptive' speaker would get a hunch or feeling that his delivery was not going across well. ...

"Being 'perceptive' means being able to spot the contradictions between someone's words and their body language. 

"Overall, women are far more perceptive than men, and this has given rise to what is commonly referred to as 'women's intuition.' Women have an innate ability to pick up and decipher nonverbal signals, as well as having an accurate eye for small details. ...
"Research by psychologists at Harvard University showed how women are far more alert to body language than men. They showed short films, with the sound turned off, of a man and woman communicating, and the participants were asked to decode what was happening by reading the couple's expressions. The research showed that women read the situation accurately 87 percent of the time, while the men scored only 42 percent accuracy. ... Female intuition is particularly evident in women who have raised children. For the first few years, the mother relies almost solely on the nonverbal channel to communicate with the child and this is why women are often more perceptive negotiators than men, because they practice reading signals early. ...
"Magnetic Resonance Imaging brain scans (MRI) clearly show why women have far greater capacity for communicating with and evaluating people than men do. Women have between fourteen and sixteen areas of the brain to evaluate others' behavior versus a man's four to six areas. This explains how a woman can attend a dinner party and rapidly work out the state of the relationships of other couples at the party -- who's had an argument, who likes who, and so on. ...

The female brain is organized for multitracking -- the average woman can juggle between two and four unrelated topics at the same time. She can watch a television program while talking on the telephone plus listen to a second conversation behind her, while drinking a cup of coffee. She can talk about several unrelated topics in the one conversation and use five vocal tones to change the subject or emphasize points. Unfortunately, most men can only identify three of these tones. As a result, men often lose the plot when women are trying to communicate with them. ..
"[A part of this is that] most men's close-range and peripheral vision is far poorer than women's, ... [and] women's peripheral vision extends to at least forty-five degrees to each side, above and below."

Author: Allan and Barbara Pease
Title: The Definitive Book of Body Language
Publisher: Bantam
Date: Copyright 2004 by Allan Pease
Pages: 13-15, 176

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tweet Me Not


Tuesday was free, uncensored tweeting day in Iran. All day long. I don't really know for sure about the uncensored part, but I'll let it go. Wednesday was back to normal.
Well, Sunday was my free tweeting day.  Trying to free myself from following anything or anyone, I managed to invite hundreds of people to join me on twitter.  Sorry about that. I heard via e-mail from several friends who e-mail, don't do FB and had no idea what I was asking them to do. I heard from others who tweet day and night. Again, apologies.
Terminal embarrassment. Good news is I heard from a colleague I haven't had contact with for ten years. And lots of people didn't respond. That's the good news. I don't tweet, as there is no one I want to follow. And there should be no-one who wants to follow me. Trust me, there is nothing meaningful I have to say. But if you are one of those people who do have hot news or insights to share, let me know. I'll follow you. I just don't need a trendy fashion tip on which brand of stilettos to purchase or who's having sex with whom.
Maybe Iran knows what it is doing. I know it's censorship and I intensely dislike any form of censorship. But maybe one or two days a week to tweet and FB, five days for e-mail and that's it. Did I just use FB as a verb? Have I crossed over?


That's my mea culpa for the week.

 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Dust Bowl


Dust, dirt, grime, keyholes plugged to keep the grit out - a way of life during the Dust Bowl in Colorado. Dust Bowl disaster in the '30's and the '50's.

About 250 people showed up at the History Colorado Center to hear Dr. Douglas Hurt talk about the Dust Bowl. I expected maybe fifty people would show up for the lecture. Stunned by the numbers, I looked up and down, to my left and to the right and did not recognize one person. Who are these people and why don't I know at least one of them?

As usual, with my intuition taking a break, I managed to sit smack in front of the woman with the hard candy in crinkly wrapper. A nice woman, for sure. She knew people and managed to share her candies with at least five people. As if they had practiced or planned this, each one unwrapped her candy wrapper after the other finished. Could have been one quick loud crinkle chorus, but this group apparently wanted to perform a longer piece.

All that aside, it was one of the best lectures I have ever attended. Having spent most of my life in the academic world, I am acutely aware of how much speakers and lecturers love their own knowledge and their own voices. The older I get the more compassion I have for students sitting through long, sometimes egocentric, lectures.

But Dr. Hurt's voice boomed with enthusiasm. He moved along, passing by some of the many intriguing photographs he had on screen. So we missed some of what he planned to say, and that only added to the power of his presentation. He finished talking, explaining agricultural history and demonstrating the history shown in the photographs in one hour.
Smashing. Not a minute too long, not one dreary, over-extended analysis.
Love it when a speaker leaves me wanting more.

Questions and answers went on for fifteen minutes. As inevitable as public performances and the Q&A, the last person with a 'question,' merely made a long, very long, rambling statement about what he knew and what he read about the Dust Bowl, the storms, climate change and who knows what else. Where's the hook when you need it?
But... that didn't diminish the speaker's success one bit. Kudos to History Colorado for bringing in such a professional, exciting speaker.
  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book List - Rehoboth Beach


Finally getting notes organized from our annual Rehoboth Beach Bookies gathering this past May. Here's the book list and when we gather again next May you can be sure we all will have read the majority of the books selected. In some ways, the book selections are brief autobiographies of the women who come together. What do you think you can know about each of the women, based on individual book selections? And the movie list, when it comes, will add a little more insight into this eclectic group.
Meet my friends. Enjoy.


             BOOK LIST 2013 - REHOBOTH BEACH GROUP

PROOF OF HEAVEN - EBEN ALEXANDER                                     Hurle
(a doctor survives a near-death experience;  it changes his life - biography)

 
WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS                                                             Fitz
(migration of black children who fled the South in search of a better life- history)

 
FLIGHT BEHAVIOR - Barbara Kingsolver                                          MJ
(a young wife & mother experiences something she can’t explain - fiction)


ROUNDHOUSE - Louise Erdrich                                                        Linda
(an Indian boy on the cusp of manhood seeks justice & understanding in the wake of a terrible crime on his reservation in N Dakota - fiction)


TRANSATLANTIC - Colum McCann                                                    Sheila
(soaring novel spanning continents & centuries: aviators in Newfoundland attempt to fly to Ireland, Frederick Douglass finds the Irish sympathetic to Abolitionist cause,etc- novel)


PAINTER OF SILENCE - Georganne Harding                                    Marlene O
(deaf mute displaced from a country manor by WWII. A rich woman sees that he is educated  - novel)


OUT OF ORDER - Sandra Day O’Connor                                            Marlene T
(stories from the history of the Supreme Court - history)


THE WINTER SEA - Susanna Kearsley                                               Maureen
(2 parallel stories: historical adventure & modern day suspense with romance & touch of something spooky - historical fiction)

 
SEATING ARRANGEMENTS                                                               Margaret
(a family as seen through the eyes of a father - fiction)


QUIET --The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"--by Susan Cain-- how introverts "tick". It also addresses extroverts and understanding contributions of both types.                                                                                                                        Karen F.

 

 

 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tales of Tragedy


Having spent most of the weekend dwelling on tales from three tragedies, I'm going to spend this week thinking more positive thoughts, looking for good things to do, say and think.

The three psychic devastators?  Colorado floods, Seaside New Jersey fire, and the suicide of a 12-year old girl. Jumped to her death because of cyber-bullying.  Many other tales of woe around the world, but these are the three that kept my mind busy.

Over 19,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed by the flooding, more than 1,200 people are unaccounted for and on it goes. In some areas sewage is backing into homes and there are strict restrictions on water usage - no showers, dishwashing, flushing of toilets. The only winners anywhere are folks who sell porta-potties. And the lands in CO seriously affected by the drought this summer are still untouched by water. Going to be a long, hard winter for lots of people.

A year ago Seaside was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy; this year a fire in an ice cream shop, supported by high winds, destroyed businesses and a board walk that had been rebuilt after the hurricane. I don't think I've ever understood or felt the force of the proverbial one-two punch before this. Modern day Jobs (talking the Bible here, not Steve) pummeled by Mother Nature.

And the 12-year old suicide from cyber-bullying? Sure, bullying goes on. All the time. Far too much of the bullying is done by world leaders - it's just not called bullying. Anyone who has survived, middle, junior and high school knows bullying happens. Push, shove, taunts, old-fashioned fist fights and new fashion knife/gun fights. Lots of weapons available and used, most often, by the boy bullies.  Who hasn't heard of or encountered the mean girls? The mouth is the primary weapon of the mean girls. Or at least it was prior to social media. No more whispering among cliques; now it's just a cyber-message for all to see. Not so easy to dismiss the words that don't disappear into the air, but remain out in cyberspace or in a cloud for a long, long time.
What drove the young women sending the messages to do so?  Did they understand the depth of pain they were causing? I doubt it. Did they even think that what they were doing falls into the category of bullying? I doubt it.

The fires, flooding, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis seem to be (at least for now) beyond our personal, individual control. But not the cyber-bullying. Somehow, or so it seems to me, that type of damage/disaster is more the responsibility of the community, responsibility of all of us. What are we to do?

That was the focus of my weekend. Not going to lose those thoughts, but going to try to focus on all that is good in the world as well. Looking for balance in unbalanced times.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Think it's going to rain today



And I think it's going to rain today....yes, Judy Collins, it is.

What a difference a day makes....yesterday morning I was filled with nostalgia and joy for the New England kind of rain falling in Colorado.
Well, that rain quickly turned from my memories of New England rain to a rain that brought flooding, school cancellations, towns being cut off from the rest of the world, and just plain worry and misery for lots of people. A few deaths occurred because of the flooding and many homes seriously damaged. The University of Colorado was closed, with a quarter of the buildings on campus sustaining some sort of damage. Most of the damage was minimal, but that's one large campus caught in the deluge.

No real damage around my neighborhood. True the Great Lawn Park has an overabundance of water in its streams and lake, but that will recede and the Great Lawn will again show up. The Lowry Wetland Project is wet and overflowing, but maybe that's what a wetlands project is really all about.

Guess it's been one of those 'be careful what you wish for' couple of days.

Friend Sarika shared the following sign on FB:  KARMA RESTAURANT
No menu; you get what you deserve.
 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New England Sort of Rain



Barely awake at 5:45 this morning, I stumbled into my clothes, brought a rain jacket downstairs and got ready to head out the door. It was pouring rain, a sound I hadn't heard as the bedroom window was closed last night. Looked in the closet for an umbrella, but had no luck.

It didn't take long to figure out that my alleged rain jacket was not waterproof and that, yes, it was raining on and through my pants. Alleged sunrise was scheduled for 6:36, but there would be no sun in sight this morning. Not a person in sight, not even the faithful dogwalkers. Sad to admit, but I was back in the house, wet close on the floor, body in bed at 6:20.

I've walked in heavy rain before, but I couldn't figure out why I should do so this morning. Both the bed and a cup of coffee were calling my name, and calling loudly. My phone had a text message about a flood alert. All kinds of excuses. So, I took the raincheck.

The rain is actually quite nice - what I call a New England sort of rain. The rain is softer than CO rain usually is - it's the kind of rain that wants the windows open so it can be heard. When I was younger, I would have curled up in bed and read all day, stopping only to get something decadent to eat. Somehow I've managed to become one of those people who would feel too guilty to hang out in bed these days. Don't know where the guilt comes from, but it's the same sort of guilt that prohibits me from turning on the television before 6:00 p.m., unless there is some huge crises going on. Not to self: let the irrational guilt go. Do what you want.

Speaking of doing what you want, we saw Priscilla in the Desert at the theatre last night. Great movie, but even better as a play. Dazzling costumes, familiar music, everything a musical should be. No rain in that desert and a happy ending.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Out Here in Colorado


In a different century I arrived in Denver for a job interview at the University of Denver and found the newspapers reporting on a citywide bake sale supporting an anti-gay measure. A few months after I moved to Denver, the Pope was in town with gaggles of youth following his path through Cherry Creek.  Hmmm. . . 'Strange place out here in Colorado' I thought.

This morning, this century, the headlines were about two senators thrown out of office on a recall vote. They had supported tighter gun control laws in districts where people like their guns and want no restrictions on how much ammunition they can have. And this is the state that brought us Columbine and the Aurora movie theatre shootings. Both senators took strong positions; both senators are now officially out to pasture.

The other newspaper article this morning vying for most space and print allotted to current news offers up several recipes for cooking with marijuana. Yes, the state that wants little to no gun control, also wants its people to carry its marijuana cookies in the pocket that doesn't contain the bullets. Have gun and cookies; will travel.

'Strange place out here in Colorado,' I think.

That's the news out here in Colorado on this anniversary of 9/11. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What Does the Future Hold?


Just leaving the house fifteen minutes later in these darker mornings brings new people into my view.
For the past week I've watched the woman with three dogs pick up dog poop along the way. It must be the beginning of the walk when I see her because she spends most of her time bending down and scooping up the stuff into her orange plastic bag. Clearly, this isn't a walk taken in order to get exercise; it's a slo mo, stop and go meandering. I don't see the joy and satisfaction that comes from this morning routine, or having three dogs, but that's just me. Is this an early morning routine and also a late night event for the woman and her dogs?

The other new addition to the scene is a young mother and her son. The mother looks like a girl to me. But then I'm not sure about the ever evolving changes in delineation between girl and woman. But she's very young looking. She sits at the first bus stop, baby on her lap, stroller folded up.  Ready for the bus. Her cigarette smoke more often than not floats over the top of the boy's head. He doesn't walk and looks to be a little under a year old. As I turn the corner she usually turns her head down and to the right; the boy turns his head towards me and stares. He looks; I say hello; he smiles. She slowly turns her head and smiles. Then it's on towards the high school bus stop.

I wonder about the girl/woman with her baby. Is she going to a school where there is daycare, to her mother's house to drop off her son and then to work? What does she do? How long is her day? What does the future hold for her?

As for the stop where the high school students gather, I haven't even mentioned the colorful saris, hoodies, hijabs, slacking pants, backpacks that emerge fifteen minutes later in the morning. The tallest female, speaking in a language I can't name, is carrying a Norton Anthology of Literature with her.  I wonder if this print is still small, the pages thin, the book itself filled with tales from around the world. What do these students think all day long? What does the future hold for them?

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Heart of a Woman


What are the chances this favorite poem would appear on two
of my favorite sites Sunday morning before 10:00 a.m.? I love such exquisite serendipitous moments and just know there's a message in the moment for me.

The Heart of a Woman

by Georgia Douglas Johnson

The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn, 

As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on, 

Afar o'er life's turrets and vales does it roam 

In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home. 

 

The heart of a woman falls back with the night, 

And enters some alien cage in its plight, 

And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars 

While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars.  
-                             -                      -                               -
 
Poets.org sends out a poem of the day e-mail every day and The Heart of a Woman was yesterday's poem. I also subscribe to the blog It's About Time, and the poem was highlighted there yesterday morning. If you are an artist, check out It's About Time. Barbara Wells Sarudy, the blogger, posts wonderful art every day and always has a Madonna as one of the artworks. 'Sherry, sir' by Thomas Waterman Wood is the painting associated with The Heart of a Woman.
 
The Heart of a Woman, in reference to the poem, is also the title of one of Maya Angelou's books. And, of course, the magic of the moment sent me back to Wallace Steven's Sunday Morning. So the day unfolded, one connection after another. Magical.

On another note, rumor (weather reporters) has it that the temperature today - and the rest of the week - will not reach into the 90's. A relief from the many, many sweltering days, days where heat records have been broken here in the Denver area. Sigh of relief from all those schools, minus air-conditioning, that start up mid-August. Looking for serendipity and signs of fall.
 
 
 


 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Walking Down Park






Made a commitment to read more poetry starting in September. Most people resolve to do new things or do things better starting on New Year's Day. But all those years of the new school year beginning in September has made me a Labor Day sort of new beginnings person. So this week's poetry has taken us from Mesa Verde with David Young to New York City with Nikki Giovanni. Walking.  And it is possible for us to be happy,
By Nikki Giovanni 

Walking down park
 amsterdam
or columbus do you ever stop
to think what it looked like
before it was an avenue
did you ever stop to think
what you walked   
before you rode   
subways to the stock   
exchange (we can’t be on
the stock exchange   
we are the stock   
exchanged)

did you ever maybe wonder
what grass was like before   
they rolled it
into a ball and called   
it central park
where syphilitic dogs
and their two-legged tubercular
masters fertilize
the corners and side-walks
ever want to know what would happen
if your life could be fertilized
by a love thought   
from a loved one
who loves you

ever look south
on a clear day and not see
time’s squares but see
tall Birch trees with sycamores   
touching hands
and see gazelles running playfully   
after the lions
ever hear the antelope bark
from the third floor apartment

ever, did you ever, sit down
and wonder about what freedom’s freedom
would bring
it’s so easy to be free
you start by loving yourself   
then those who look like you   
all else will come
naturally

ever wonder why
so much asphalt was laid
in so little space
probably so we would forget   
the Iroquois, Algonquin
and Mohicans who could caress   
the earth

ever think what Harlem would be
like if our herbs and roots and elephant ears   
grew sending
a cacophony of sound to us
the parrot parroting black is beautiful black is beautiful   
owls sending out whooooo’s making love ...   
and me and you just sitting in the sun trying
to find a way to get a banana tree from one of the monkeys   
koala bears in the trees laughing at our listlessness

ever think its possible
for us to be
happy

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Star Spangled Banner




The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics
By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
----------------------------


Most of us know this first verse, the song sung at all sorts of ballgames and ceremonies across the country. This past weekend, at an event where the song was being sung and the audience took off its collective hats, the person with me said, "I never, ever sing this song, and I refuse to sing 'America the Beautiful' also."

She feels strongly that the Star Spangled Banner lyrics were probably appropriate at the time they were written, expressing a collective spirit in a powerful, beautiful way. But times have changed, sentiments have changed. Bombs and rockets don't make us so proud these days, and we are no longer just wishing for God's blessing of America, but hope the whole world is blessed in some way.

I understand what she is thinking, and agree with much of what she said. But what do we do with words or images that no longer fit the current context, no longer express what it is we are trying to say? For sure, if the national anthem were written today, it would have very different lyrics.
On a different level, in case one didn't know, the term Anasazi is no longer used to describe the peoples of Mesa Verde and the canyons; The word Anasazi suggests the enemy, the aggressors, an incorrect portrayal of the people of the canyons. Ancestral Puebloans is now the term used. I thought about that (and so did several readers) when posting David Young's poem Mesa Verde the other day. He refers to the Anasazi, as that was the term used when the poem was written.
And we know the endless debates about Huck Finn and the language that was familiar and used in its time, but no longer appropriate.

I could go on, but you get the point. It's all pretty complicated. Have to hope people still understand context, still understand setting. Personally, I never sing the Star Spangled Banner either, but that's because I am tone deaf and don't want to damage the air space of those around me.

 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Walk on By.


I make it a habit to say hello to people I pass by when I'm walking early in the morning. Often there is no one else in sight, so it's pretty hard to avoid eye contact. Once in a while, I'll wait to see if the other person says hello first. I know, that is truly tacky and purposeless, but it's what I do on rare occasions.

Experience tells me there isn't an adolescent in the world who will say hello first. I get that. And, for the most part, the landscapers or other workers out in the early morning don't say hello first either. That makes sense to me also. The workers often seem surprised to get a nod or hello. After a while, the workers on a long-term project will look up and say hello first. Just takes a little time.

For the past two mornings, on the sidewalk near my home, I've passed a man and his dog. The sidewalk is just big enough for the two of us to pass by. Both mornings, once he has seen me, he puts his head down and walks swiftly by me. Both mornings, as we are breath to breath, I've said hello. Both mornings he has kept his head down and not even mumbled. Just a nod would do, but there is nothing.

I wonder if he is incredibly shy, fearful of people, or something else. Maybe he just doesn't want his space invaded by some stranger. He probably didn't spend most of the time walking his dog wondering why I keep saying hello to him. He probably couldn't imagine that two hours later, I am still thinking about him.

 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mesa Verde

 
 I've tried to put into my own words some thoughts about being at Mesa Verde, but couldn't come close to capturing the feeling, matching the words of David Young, one of the very best living poets in America today. This is David's poem, based on a September visit in 2006. This is how Mesa Verde feels. Thanks, David, for capturing the experience.

Mesa Verde
1.
Drive up with me.
Show the way, magpie, across the invisible bridge.
Old ghosts, be near,
but not too near.
September, early morning, not a trace of haze.
Rabbit brush glows like sulphur
and the mesa dozes in sunlight.
The corner-eye specter on the trail
is a rock or a piƱon stump
or a tourist aiming a camera.
Sun-shimmer and squint. The gorges
lie silent and waterless
like dreams of river valleys
that rivers never made.
Climb into me, Anasazi,
take my tongue and language,
tell how you came to farm the corn,
hoarding the snow-melt, learned
to be weavers, potters, masons
in the huge American daylight,
gathering pine nuts, hunting mule deer,
crushed juniper berries with water,
mixed them in cornmeal for our thick blue bread
-- what was our word for bread? --
and praised the gods, hunched in our smoky kivas,
singing over the soul-hole
the mystery of our birth
when first a man crawled out
from warm dark to open air.
We farmed till the droughts got worse,
the corn and squash and beans
shriveled and died, the game thinned out,
and we moved down to live
in the scoops and pockets of cliffs
where water seeped and food could be hoarded,
two hundred feet below the dizzy rim,
nine hundred feet above the canyon floor
perching like squirrels and jays
because the gods decided
(what were the names of the gods?)
that life had been too easy,
that snows should stop and water shrink
and we too nest against the canyon walls
mindful of hardship.
2.
Silence again. Silence in Spruce Tree Lodge,
at Hovenweep, Chaco Canyon,
stone and sunlight resting against each other
and no ghosts coming to converse
at nightfall when the stars spring out
and we stand on the rimrock, staring up
at the Bear and the hunters chasing him,
at the stocky women, grinding corn
among dogs, turkeys, children,
while smoke floats from the kiva
and snow-fluff crowns the sagebrush.
Silence, solstice to equinox.
Empty granaries, cold firepits, dry cisterns.
The sun walks through the canyon,
peering under the sandstone overhangs,
and the wind walks too, wearing pine-smell.
Skull-jar and serviceberry,
sipapu and alcove,
a ghostly sea of buffalo
tossing on the plains below.
And the light slips off
among the rifted mesas,
the dead are wrapped in turkey-feather blankets,
rabbit-fur robes, yucca mats,
and buried in the trashpiles,
while the living move south or west
in search of food and water
leaving it all to the sun and wind and stars
who lived here first.
The night is dreamless,
a star-chart, a crescent wrench moon,
and the air hangs quietly
a sea whose bottom you walk
looking up through the empty miles,
the rocks around you liked turned backs.
The sun cracks earth, the frost splits rocks.
What’s history if it falls away,
if the brick-colored woman
milling corn in the courtyard
isn’t kin to us, can’t leave this landscape,
neighbor horizon and brother canyon wren,
toehold and rampart,
the old river of belief
that pounds through empty gullies
like sunlight and moonlight
leaving them undisturbed?
Touch me. Moisten my mouth,
dazzle my eyes. Link me for a moment to the life
that wore on gently here
and left these ruins to the sun.
3.
In the swept museum,
smaller than hummingbirds
these people kneel and climb in little models
weaving their tiny baskets
hoarding their dollhouse ears of corn.
And who doesn’t crouch below some diorama
while sunlight moves across a mesa.
hearing the call of raven,
glimpsing the Steller’s jay?
I write this on an overhang, a porch,
against a California canyon
that runs down to the sea;
across the way the houses perch and nestle
among the live oaks, palms, and avocado trees.
Hummingbirds float through my eucalyptus
like strange little fingers, or gods,
while the raven’s shadow travels the rough slope,
wrinkling and stretching,
recollection of another life.
The hummingbird comes to rest, midair,
and the mind meshes with other minds,
lost patterns of thought that hang
over the mesa, across the hillsides,
in pools of light and shadow,
and make us bow in thought or prayer,
silence or speech,
while the sun that walked this canyon
when it was brown and empty
and will have it so again
carries the day away
through dry and shining air.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .