Thursday, November 29, 2007

More Shameless Hornblowing

**Click it, unless you have a magnifying glass**

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


A bit of blowing my own horn, so to speak....

What a Difference a Day Makes!

It rained ice today.

I stood out in the cold and wet for a long time, letting the water freeze on my face, waving my arms and blowing out clouds of warm fog.

Then, inside, I sat at the window for a long time, watching the wind blow waves of sleet across the road. It was a super storm, loud and flashy, the kind that lays ice on telephone wires and turns tree limbs to crystal. The boys sat on my lap, all of us warm and quiet together, until it was too dark to see.

Something happened then. A high, better than any drug-induced high, a feeling that almost burst my mind apart. I can't find a name for it, that feeling of intense awareness and content. What a joy it is to be alive!...

...We made paper snowflakes and hung them in the window.

From CHRYSALIS, an excerpt.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 » Spider » Spider

How Did They Know?

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What I Saw Out the Window Today

The view from the front yard, and from the back yard. The moon looks so small you might mistake it for a star. The wind is warm and blowing in a storm from the northwest. It's supposed to SNOW today! See how the color of the sky changes in a very few minutes as the sun begins to rise. Now the entire sky is white, waiting for the snow to fall....

Update: It's 25 degrees and snowing HARD!

Monday, November 26, 2007

WI: A Letter

I know a woman lovely in her bones
--Theodore Roethke

Dear Omniscient Whomever,

I know a man unlovely in his bones,
by any human measures, of ill health,

and filled with parasites, with body parts
as rotted as the pistons of an old

Plymouth, still, sweet in his pure and tender
soul, who would be raised from his sickbed by

angels, sharp-edged but in no great hurry,
spinning on their graceful harpy wings like

falling-down galaxies. He raises his
obscene middle finger toward the coat-rack

in the corner, in the half-light, spinning.
I know how it is, how space flight is a

risky business. I wonder why in a
universe where angels dance with ions

in a hundred visions and revisions,
Prufrock-like, why is this final, deadly

apparition not an angel? Would not
an angel, any angel, even an

unlovely one be better than this per-
verse revolving coat-rack in the corner?

With Love,


AS #22, 23, 24, 25, & 26

Robbie Villafranca used to sleep with a gun under his pillow.

There was a letter that informed him he had sinned beyond redemption.

The only way he could be saved was by blood atonement, it said.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know about the "outing."

He euphemistically called them the "engineers of the human soul."


Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I am glad for many things, many things, many things, I am glad for many things that are mine today!

Thank you, Thank you, my heart sings, my heart sings, my heart sings. Thank you for the many things that are mine today!

--Primary Children's Songbook

...Men are, that they might have joy;
--2 Nephi 2:25

joy is the simplest form of gratitude.
--Karl Barth

(These last two quotes, put together, are my AS #22.)


AS #21

Rhiesling, he da apple of our eye, da cat's PJ's; he da Man, yeah!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Okay. FIrst there were things, small children's things-- poems, or spelling words-- on wide blue-lined paper. The paper became dirty snow, where two young men, dressed as 17th century peasants, caps, blousy shirts, dark, rough pants-- were sleeping. They appeared to have been drugged, or poisoned. I thought they were French or Italian, but from another century. A modern Chinese soldier in a brown army uniform had dropped them off from his vehicle, and now wondered if he should kill them, or let them live. He sometimes let them live. But not this time. He took an ax he carried and neatly and gently (as easy as cutting through butter) sliced through the belly of each man. At first there was no sign of their wounds, but then bright red blood began to gush. The two men sat up, seeming unaware that they were bleeding to death. Then one of them began to sing a nursery song, very softly, in English. Their deaths seemed to me to be very humane and painless. I thought how if it was me, I would rather die outstretched, face upward, so the very last thing to fill my eyes would be the sight of the blue sky, and I would die filled up with blue, and that would be good. Then it all went back to the words on the wide, blue-lined paper, words some little child had written-- was writing-- even as I woke up.

So. Figure that one out, Islanders.... I've heard it said that in dreams, you are every character, as well as every object, etc. I am the dying peasants, the Chinese soldier, the ax, the child, the paper. A poem:

ignis fatuus

in the illustrated
that happen each night as
the curtain
behind my eyes rises
fugitive people move
catbirds of life changing
skins under my closed eyelids
under my quiescent hair
on the pillow

skimming inscrutable
geographies of
words like flat stones
across the grey-
green water of mind
that sprays like sea

or resident birds
that babble across an
overflowing of bells

I sleep
in ciphers
that no one explains
mutable, exploding
at the pinions

and vulnerable to light
as vampires

(A question: Do you dream in color? I do!)


Monday, November 19, 2007

NaBloPoMo 2

Of all his music papa played Mexicali Rose the very best.
Now the saxophone lies on a high shelf in the dark of the closet.
The last notes are departed, the reed split, the keys are stuck in old times.
Yet, I sometimes hear those slurred notes in the wind, in the wide cave of night.
Someday he'll take it up again, and then every earthly thing will change.
And all my dreams will be aroused to his slow music, a long lost voice.



Sunday, November 18, 2007

AS # 18

Thank you for Chimey and Cake, for their good-night kisses and morning hugs.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

AS #16 and #17

I'm thankful for waterfalls, columns of woodsmoke, and two little Swedes!

I'm thankful for Bookworm and Starfish: mahogany eyes and shy smiles.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

AS #13, #14, #15: Catch-Up

There, high in the tree hangs a paper-wasp nest like an over-ripe fruit.

Beside the wasp's nest, some birds have built a nest of their own: strange neighbors.

Something about those two windblown nests reminds me of lions and lambs.


Quote of the Day

"The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy."


(Thanks, slick!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Kingsley Amis

Sir Kingsley Amis (he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1990) was the author of 2 dozen novels and 6 volumes of poetry. He wrote the first two James Bond novels: The Bond Dossier, and The Book of Bond, or Every Man His Own 007. I had no idea! It's been rumored that he wrote part of Ian Fleming's last book, The Man With The Golden Gun. Amis wrote under the pseudonym Robert Markham. I didn't know this, either! Flemings wife disliked Amis, calling him a "left-wing opportunist." The copyright owners of Fleming's Bond books had the brilliant idea that other writers would continue with Bond, all writing under the same pseudonym. It never happened.

Poor health convinced Amis to give up smiking, but he carried on with his reputation as a "boozer" of scotch and gin. He once said, "If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing." He died in 1995, at the age of 73, from a fall.

Here's another Kingsley Amis poem:


Between the Gardening and the Cookery
Comes the brief Poetry shelf;
By the Nonesuch Donne, a thin anthology
Offers itself.

Critical, and with nothing else to do,
I scan the Contents page,
Relieved to find the names are mostly new;
No one my age.

Like all strangers, they divide by sex:
Landscape Near Parma
Interests a man, so does The Double Vortex,
So does Rilke and Buddha.

"I travel, you see," "I think" and "I can read"
These titles seem to say;
But I Remember You, Love is My Creed,
Poem for J.,

The ladies' choice, discountenance my patter
For several seconds;
From somewhere in this (as in any) matter
A moral beckons.

Should poets bicycle-pump the human heart
Or squash it flat?
Man's love is of man's life a thing apart;
Girls aren't like that.

We men have got love well weighed up; our stuff
Can get by without it.
Women don't seem to think that's good enough;
They write about it.

And the awful way their poems lay them open
Just doesn't strike them.
Women are really much nicer than men:
No wonder we like them.

Deciding this, we can forget those times
We stay up half the night
Chock-full of love, crammed with bright thoughts, names, rhymes,
And couldn't write.


Monday, November 12, 2007

WI: Friendship


The first country to die was normal in the evening,
Ate a good but plain dinner, chatted with some friends
Over a glass, and went to bed soon after ten;
And in the morning was found disfigured and dead:
That was a lucky one.

At breakfast the others heard about it, and kept
Their eyes on their plates. Who was guilty? No one knew,
But by lunch-time three more would never eat again.
The rest appealed for frankness, quietly cocked their guns,
Declared "This can't go on."

They were right. Only the strongest turned up for tea:
The old ones with the big estates hadn't survived
The slobbering blindfold violence of the afternoon.
One killer or many? Was it a gang, or all-against-all?
Somebody must have known.

Each of them sat there watching the others, until
Night came and found them anxious to get it over.
Then the lights went out. A few might have lived, even then;
Innocent, they thought (at first) it still mattered what
You had or hadn't done.

They were wrong. One had been lenient with his servants;
Another ran an island brothel, but rarely left it.
The third owned a museum, the fourth a remarkable gun;
The name of the fifth was quite unknown, but in the end
What was the difference? None.

Homicide, pacifist, crusader, cynic, gentile, jew
Staggered about moaning, shooting into the dark.
Next day, to tidy up as usual, the sun came in
When they and their ammunition were all used up,
And found himself alone.

Upset, he looked them over, to separate, if he could
The assassins from the victims, but every face
Had taken on the flat anonymity of pain;
And soon they'll all smell alike, he thought, and felt sick,
And went to bed at noon.

--Kingsley Amis (b. 1922)


AS #12

A little goes a long way, but a lot will go a whole lot farther.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

AS #11

My dear Ceridwen, a jar of pennies will work as well as bear bells.

Veteran's Day

Some things are worth dying for. Some things are not. Some things are worth killing other human beings, some things cannot ever be worth that. Maybe it's a subjective matter, deciding what a life is worth, and what is worth a life. World War 1 was supposed to be the War to End All Wars. It didn't work out that way.

When the Armistice agreement between the Allied forces and the German Army was signed at 5 am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, in a boxcar in the middle of a French forest, some unremembered official thought it would be a good idea to wait until eleven am for the agreement to take effect. He thought 11-11-11 had an esthetic ring to it, something for the history books. As a result, during those six hours, another 2,738 men died. For nothing. 320 of those were American soldiers. The carnage went on until the final minute. For nothing.

Today there are still "wars, and rumors of wars." Young men and women are still dying in foreign countries for whatever reasons. Only they and their families can decide if the reasons are worth their lives. I abhor what is happening now in the Middle East. People on both sides are dying for my freedom to drive an SUV. (I realize this is a simplistic view of a complex ideal). Nevertheless.

I salute the men and women who have chosen to serve their country, to interrupt their lives and make sacrifices for their ideals, whatever their reasons. Would to God this would be the War to End All Wars.

These are the warriors in my life: my uncle, who served in Iran during WWII, my husband, who served in the Navy, on Guam; my brother, who served in the Army, in Germany and France; and my cousin, who served in Korea. God bless, guys!

(PS I do not own an SUV. I drive a Hyundai.)


Saturday, November 10, 2007

AS #10

O my gosh, it's Saturday, and I have not written my sentence yet!

Friday, November 09, 2007

AS #9

To Whom It May Concern: I may not be best, but I can power up!


Chiefbiscuit, of As It Happens, has awarded me a Shameless Lions roar. I'm (I would say flattered by this, but I notice that in my thesaurus this is followed by flatulence, and flaunt) genuinely delighted! I'm to list 3 things I think are essential to good writing, and pass this award on to 5 others I believe demonstrate these qualities. They, in turn, are to pass the Lion's roar on to 5 others.

So. My first thing I would say is necessary for good writing is relevance. Our primary concern ought to be with experience--with real life. Whether it is beautiful or painful, noble or ignoble, strange or common, good writing should offer us life. Second would be imagination. The images that give words their incandescence. And, last, focus, which my little red thesaurus defines as core, heart, nucleus, sharpness.

I am passing this Lion's roar, in no particular order, to:

pam, at Mind Trips
wendy, at Quiet About A Lot Of Things
Rethabile, at poeafrika
pris, at Songs To A Midnight Sky
Melissa, at Poet With a Day Job

...with all my respect and admiration!

(To find out more about the Shameless Lion's Writing Circle, visit Chiefbiscuits blog for a link.)


Thursday, November 08, 2007

AS #8

Dear Chiefbiscuit:

If New Zealand is Down Under, then is the USA Up Over?


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

AS #7

My friend from down under, Chiefbiscuit, says that the matching chapter and verse in the BOOK OF PROVERBS of the date you were born is often meaningful in your life. So, being born on the 15th day of the month, I looked up Chapter 15, verse 15, which says: All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. So, I am going to use this for my AS #7 (even if it is one syllable short and starts with a conjunction--is "but" a conjunction? I forget).

But he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

AS #6

This for bullies: Joseph is being mean to me, but I can spell cats!

WI: Unforgettable

I have lots of "unforgettable" things in my life. Lately I forget a lot of things: doctor's appointments, returning phone calls, where I've put my car keys, and leaving WalMart--where I've put my car! But most of the important, really important, things are unforgettable: The blue of my dad's eyes, the freckles on my mother's face, the sound of their voices, the day my husband proposed to me, the birth of each of our five boys...when the boys were little, at bedtime we had a litany of songs. This is one I sang to them for years and years. It's a poem of William Jay Smith's, and we had a recording of it on an album by Carly Simon called "The Lobster Quadrille." The cover was red. It is "unforgettable."


Now touch the air softly,
Step gently. One, two...
I'll love you till roses
Are robin's-egg blue;
I'll love you till gravel
Is eaten for bread,
And lemons are orange,
And lavender's red.

Now touch the air softly,
Swing gently the broom.
I'll love you till windows
Are all of a room;
And the table is laid.
And the table is bare.
And the ceiling reposes
On bottomless air.

I'll love you till Night
Rips the stars from his coat,
And the moon rows away
In a glass-bottomed boat;
And Orion steps down
Like a diver below,
And Earth is ablaze,
And the Ocean aglow.

So touch the air softly,
And swing the broom high.
We'll dust the gray mountains,
And sweep the blue sky;
And I'll love you as long
As the furrow the plow,
And However is Ever,
And Ever is now.

(Even as I type this, the melody still runs through my head. I would be interested to know if any of my boys still remember it, too?)


Monday, November 05, 2007

AS #5

You wild child, today I will sell you to the old deaf gypsy lady!

(And I will, too, if she comes by and makes me an offer!)


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Committed To Air


Who would understand
The satisfaction of
That day the gull
Tipped south
Steered by a north wind away
From whatever was fixed

Light and lacking focus but
Committed to air

Who would understand
The truth of it
But someone arbitrarily reborn
In a stranger's nest

Who would understand
The exhilaration of feathers
Above all the graffiti
Of civilization
Like a soul glimpsed
Leaving the body done


AS #4

Just because I love the sound of it: Malasado, Malasado!


Saturday, November 03, 2007


Did you know this is National Friendship Week*? Three cheers to all of you, my cyberfriends: Hip-hip, Hurrah! Hip-hip, Hurrah! Hip-hip, Hurrah!

*Actually, nobody really seems to know if there is a special week for this, or what month we should celebrate it, or which week of that month...but, what the hay! I say this is as good a time as any. So CELEBRATE!


AS #3

Grace spent the night with friends, eating balut and drinking Coca Cola.

Friday, November 02, 2007

AS #2

Cristina, rising at five to sweep my yard, says: "I will be de one."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My American Sentence #1

In Philippines, on All Saints Day, we eat fried bananas in graveyards.

(My daughter-in-law just told me this!)

The Day After...

"Having it all doesn't necessarily mean having it all at once." --Stephanie Luethkehans

Try telling THAT to a kid with a pound and a half of Kit Kats, Hershey Bars, Snickers, and Milky Ways on the day after Halloween!