Friday, September 28, 2007

This one's for Rethabile

Rethabile Masilo, @ Poefrika, an awesome poet from Lesotho, in a recent post of his that asks "who's your hero?" lists (among others) Steven Biko, as a person who "faces injustice and speaks out against it." This is for you, Rethabile. And for Steven.


Geographers, in Afric maps,
With savage pictures fill their gaps,
And o'er unhabitable downs
Place elephants for want of towns.

--Jonathan Swift

Naked and manacled
In the back of a Land-Rover
Cannot be convinced of
Mankind's essential goodness.


The men who have done this
Go out to kill
Believing in the mercy of God,


In the music of love.


Humankind moves in a celluloid dream,
Subscribes to pain. When we wake,
Your bruised black limbs
Will have pushed out roots
Watered from your blood.
Black women will prepare them
Like gari,

Black men will eat of them,


And be strong.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

wi: The Key


I keep diaries in my head
at night I write on sealed pages
in dream codes, a sort
of dot-dot-dash Morse himself
couldn't read, keeps them private
old loves recur, taller than they were
twice as bold
dressed in dimestore suits and ties
I never saw them wear.

And my father
who never heard of Neruda
Gu Cheng or the Cultural Revolution
rocks calmly on the porch
and speaks to me
of bread and milk
I'm sick he says
and wants to say goodbye
as if he were not already dead.

This is a book
my grandchildren will never read
the key is not in my hand
not even in my pocket
never will my children say
Mama tell us of Olden Times
and turn these pages that open upon
old houses, old rooms that suck me in

like Alice through the glass.
This world is mine alone
where the voices and the windows
the old mingling of bodies
and the landscapes are buried
what's here is one raw nerve, exposed
and aching to go where I never can
to grasp the fleeting things
that would disappear.

(This is an old one. Sorry if you have seen it before)


Monday, September 24, 2007


We took a spin up into the mountaintops to see the fall colors. It rained a little, and snowed a little, and shined a little. Grandpa and Simon took a hike, and went rock climbing. Jacob and I were freezing, so we went back to the museum and looked at some furry/boney owl poop, a bear's skull, and a cross-cut tree-rings journey through time. On the trail, Simon's loose tooth came out, and he LOST it, and they had to retrace their steps back a ways, and they FOUND it! I am sure the Tooth Fairy rejoiced!

Yesterday was also the first day of autumn. Rejoice!


Racing for the Cure

Philanthropy is tiring!

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Book! A Book!

"This is a place of mystery ... a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.

Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds a way into his heart."

--Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind.

This is Baby R reading in the sunshine of his back yard. The first book I remember was Epamanondas and His Auntie, by Sara Cone Bryant. Epamanondas, who carried the butter home as he had carried the cake, "wrapped up in leaves and put in his hat as he came along home... But soon the sun began to shine brightly. It shone down on the trees and down on the bushes and down on Epamanondas hat... and the drops trickled down his neck, inside his collar, and under his shirt.

"Epamanondas, what do you have in your hat?"

"Butter, Mama. Grandpa gave it to me."

"Epamanondas, sometimes you haven't got the sense you were born with. That's not the way to carry butter. The way to carry butter is to wrap it up in leaves, then take it down to the brook to cool it and cool it in the water. Now, will you remember that?"

"Yes, Mama. I'll remember. I'll remember."

I was about three when my Mama read this to me, and I still love it. Next week my neighborhood book club is reviewing Ray Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine," another book that (several years later) I lived with and dreamed with, that's still in my heart. What's the first book you remember? What book is still in your heart?


Monday, September 10, 2007

WI: My Imaginary LIfe

"In Dreams you are never eighty"
--Anne Sexton

At last, Love,
the girl sighs, melting
into the embrace of the blueberry-
eyed sailor she'll never again
lie down with in this life
except in dreams of
sixty years past, where
her skin on his skin is rosy
and warm with life.

I have waited for you,
she whispers, for so long, so long,
and the sweat beads like silver
on her upper lip.
Her laughter is mild, yet
under her bare feet the stairs
burn, consuming the kitchen
with its frills of daisies and jam,
the study with its tiresome
globes and catalogs,
the bedrooms with their odor
of babies being born,
semen and blood.

All the doors are open
to the burning stairs. She would say
O my God, my Love, at last,
but there are no words because
his lips are on her lips
and the blaze licks at her sleeves,
her skirt curling like a paper doll's.

When she wakes, between her thighs
is a wrinkle rough as woolens,
deep as a pit. Her tongue's a knot.
Her face is gray as a potato
and full of eyes.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Orphan Voyager

Just like the message my Uncle Pepek wrote, put in a green glass bottle and threw into the Atlantic, to give to the Gulf Stream to give to the Baltic Sea to send it home, Voyager 1 was cast out into the black sea of interstellar space 30 years ago. This 12-inch gold plated disk is a message from us, containing some Bach, a little Mozart, DaVinci's "Vitruvian Man," some people saying "Hello" in several languages, songs of birds and whales, and some pictures of ourselves and our various cultures, and our location in the Milky Way galaxy. There are instructions for playing and interpreting this record-- for whatever ears, a million years out-- may listen.

This carries such a powerful message of optimism in the face of incredible odds, and the idea that travels with it moves me to tears.


(an excerpt)

And if the sun
should cool enough to freeze us
or explode to supernova
and thus incinerate us all
what alien ears,
on hearing a concerto of whales
a cry of birds
sent out in orphan Voyager
may celebrate our fragile hope
our itching curiosity
with what in alien delight
may pass for sacramental bread
and wine?


Friday, September 07, 2007

PT: One for the Show


Fear follows
me like hungry cats
at my heels

Feed me
their small teeth sharp
I have put out both
meat and milk

peace offerings
but they do not eat
nor drink
they are not pacified

I have nothing left
to share with them
they remain
hissing and wanting


(Picture,Silanee Fear: Elben Wald, Lebe Deine Fantasy)


Tuesday, September 04, 2007



Be sure to check out the new Tuesday poetry/prose site at

Writers Island's inaugural prompt is "My Imaginary Life"--(poem, short story, essay, or prose comment) to begin on Tuesday, September 11, at 12:01 EST. Pass the word along!

Thanks, Rob!


Monday, September 03, 2007