Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Big Tent Poetry 1-1-11

Don't ask, "Are you afraid?"--
everyone is afraid. Ask, "Where
can we find to run?"

-William Stafford
More than Words Can Tell

"Where to run?" Stuck here
in our five-dimensional lives
enfolded in a multi-dimensional universe
we run, eat, sleep, make love,
and wonder. We lie in our beds
and watch the light creep in
illuminating cracks on the walls and the
maculate ceilings as constellations,continents,
faces, emblems, and chronicles, interpreting them
as Signs. We hear dogs barking,
touch one another, cry, say goodbye, run, pray,
write poems, ask questions, make lists,
and run, as if any of these things might suggest
true exploration of what really is,
as if they might be messages
from some far star
that will help us understand Where?
And Why? And What it means to be human?

(NOT my ceiling, btw. Just thot I'd mention that.:D )

Friday, December 17, 2010

Merry Christmas


Once wast Thou born of Mary's womb;
And now, newborn from out the Tomb,
O Christ, Thou bidd'st us rise with Thee
From death to immortality.

--Liber Usualis
Rex Sempiterne Caelitum

First, there was a breaking of waters,
like every other birth,
and pain, before the first cry.

There was a star, perhaps a supernova
spilling fluorescent gases into the void,
perhaps a confluence of planets -- whatever...

whatever, His first words may have been Egyptian,
but the Jewish schoolboys, He among them,
circled at the Rabbi's feet, learned Torah,

learned sacrifice, and love, and loss.
He drew us in by blood, by suffering;
every one of us balancing in air, all newly-blossomed, and Reborn.



Suit of Lights

25 Random Things About Me

1. I used to think I could fly (I even wore a cape!).
2. Everybody I ever loved I still love.
3. I have an irrational--almost insane--love for animals (even bugs).
4. I have an irrational--almost insane--love for books--the latest, from Amazon, Mary Oliver's OWLS AND OTHER FANTASIES.
5. I decided to be a writer when I was 12, and began to write the Great American Novel. My novel CHRYSALIS was nominated for the American Book Award by the publisher. Didn't win. (This was not the same one I wrote when I was 12, btw).
6. My great-grandpa was a polygamist. How many of you can say that?
7. I have loved 3 sailors (and that's all I have to say about that).
8. I met my best friend Jan when I was in college, and she is still my best friend, after all these years. We are like Lucy and Ethel, like LaVerne and Shirley.
9. I was a shy and obedient child, a shy and quietly rebellious adolescent; as a young adult I was a hippie, and now I am a shy and obedient old lady (with strong hippie tendencies).
10. In Theater school I learned to become people other than myself....
11. I once got a standing ovation, which will have to last for the rest of my life.
12. If I had been a comedian I would have been George Carlin.
13. I once met Edward Teller, "The Father of the Atomic Bomb."
14. I once toasted a mouse (in the toaster, accidentally).
15. Like Anne Frank, I believe that people are good at heart.
16. Except for stockbrokers and CEO's of megacompanies, who are greedy and evil SOB's!
17. I dream in lurid Technicolor, with casts of thousands.
18. I have five brilliant sons.
19. I have eight beautiful grandchildren.
20. I am afraid of fire.
21. I think I am a good poet and writer.
22. I love my computer.
23. I am grateful that my kids are all smarter than I am!
24. I am still smarter than Tom Cruise (although this may not be true).
25. I don't have 25 friends who have not already done this meme.

My new camera! Me wearing my Suit of Lights!

To Ashley

Why I Love Poetry

You know, the number of people who love poetry is about the same as the number of people who love to wear Davy Crockett hats. So we are a rare and wonderful people!
I think I was, maybe 9 or 10 when I discovered poetry let you say things you could say no other way, and when I was 15 or so, I found that poetry offered a way of understanding things I never understood before. Poetry sparked a new way of feeling, of insights and images I had never imagined: that someone could write The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/ Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees/ Is my destroyer moved me to tears.

Edna St Vincent Millay was my first love. Dylan Thomas was my second. After that there were suddenly too many to count, like stars on a good night, after the first one or two.

Mary Oliver writes of praying in words I think apply to poetry as well:

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but a doorway

into thanks, and a small silence in which
another voice may speak.

Like Abbe Joseph says in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, stretching his hands toward heaven, his fingers like ten lamps of fire, "If you will, you can become all flame." And we all understand what that is like, don't we? And we've all come through the doorway into thanks, and most of us have found the silence in which another voice may speak....

And if this isn't clear enough to be useful to you, stick around. Hopefully one day it will be, and you can become "all flame."

Just pay attention.

I write poetry because sometimes it takes me where I need to go, it says what I need to say, and it ALWAYS says more than the words alone say. Sometimes the meaning of the poem is in the white spaces between the words. And sometimes, after a poem is finished, I am as surprised as anybody at how it happens. It is a doorway. It is a small silence in which another voice may speak, and just sometimes, I do become all flame. It lets me say what I can't say any other way. It lets me be more than I am. And if you can pass the poem on to someone else, that's just gravy!

That is why I read poetry, that is why I write it.

Love, Gram Cracker

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas 1975

December 14, 1975

Dear Folks,

Here it is, Christmastime already. Our tree is up and decorated with paper chains and painted salt & flour cookies, the stockings are hanging by the fireplace, the Christ Child and Mary, Joseph, and assorted shepherds, wise men, cows, sheep and a donkey (and the angel) in our nativity set have found a place in our Bar-B-Q.

Christmas will be a little leaner this year, as I suppose it will be for many people. Money doesn't stretch very far, but I guess the things that are really important we have in abundance. Linn wrote this little Christmas Carol last week. He and his teacher are playing it as a violin/cello duet for the school Christmas program on December 18th. It's part of our Christmas present to you.

I was thinking of last Christmas and how good Jer was with the tree and packages--but this year I wouldn't dare leave one package or ornament within an inch of Marc (we call him Coco now, thanks to Jeremy). His hands are constantly moving, opening, breaking, tearing, getting into.... He has several favorite places to play:
in the fireplace (it's so nice and ashy), in the trash, in the toilet, in the Kleenex box, in the cupboards (I find cans of soup and tuna fish in the weirdest places), and in the pots and pans (they make lots of noise). He still has not found the courage to walk more than three or four steps at a time. Hands and knees work fine for him!

Jeremy is still a very thoughtful, considerate, a gentle little soul. In the nursery at Relief Society, while the other toddlers are busy hoarding toys, or taking things away from someone else, making them cry, Jer is busy taking toys to whoever is hurt, or crying, and he sweetly comforts them.

Kit is Joseph in the Sunday school program next week. I took the beard off his pirate mask to help his robe-and-towel costume. It looks really good. He's also supposed to wear a nightshirt for the school Christmas program. He's resigned now, but at first he said it looked like a DRESS!

We have snow again (after 2 weeks of summer in December), and long icicles are hanging from the roof.

December 18th

Just heard Linn play his music. It sounded really pretty! He's a good violin player nowadays.

Got your letter today (and read it 3 times), and the package came yesterday. Many thanks! We're going to fill our Santa and Snowball candy dish up this weekend. I'm not going to make any gingerbread houses this year. I had six little Cub Scouts over Tuesday making cookies and fudge. What a bunch of boys, when I already have five to begin with! Last week we made decorations from decoupaged Christmas cards. Maybe we'll go caroling next week. They're nice little boys.

I have 15 pages of a story started. I'll send it and you can see what you think. I wonder about keeping it in present tense. Maybe it's too hard to read. What do you think? Got a card from Sis. Jones last week--brings us up to 4 cards so far....

Jeremy knows "Claus' this year. You should hear him sing Jingle Bells. He can sing a lot of TV commercials, right on key! And now he walks around going, "Ho,Ho, Ho!" Nutcracker tickets are all gone. So are Messiah tickets, almost as soon as they went on sale. Costs too much anyway. Well, the fairies didn't wash the dishes while I was gone, and I doubt they'll do them while I'm here--so, adios.

December 19th

Linn's school chorus is singing at Cottonwood Mall next week. Jeremy slipped on the ice this morning and landed on a pipe with his eyebrow. It's all swollen up this afternoon (the eye, not the pipe, of course!). Poor eyebrow!

Tonight we're going to go listen to the Tabernacle Choir rehearse--if we can get a babysitter.

(We couldn't.)

I love Christmas, and the tree, and the lights, and Christmas music, and wrapping and giving gifts. I love to look at the boys faces, at their eyes, as they wait for Christmas to come. I love the excitement I catch from them....


We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! It snowed last night, so we have a white Christmas. I noticed that Santa is still carrying around your presents and ALL the Christmas cards we should've mailed in his briefcase....

Marvin and the babies are catching up on lost sleep, the boys are out playing in the snow, and I suppose I'd better start thinking about dinner. Fa la la la la, la la, la, la. We have five little Rock Cornish game hens to roast, poor things.

Marc walks now. He's getting his top two molars and it's sure making him miserable. But he's a very agreeable little person--says "yeah" to everything. Everyone seems happy with their new toys. I glued my thumb to BeeGee's new helicopter's rudder with instant-bonding super-glue. PANIC. Thought for a minute I'd have to have my thumb amputated or else wear a helicopter on my thumb forever...it's sort of like freezing your tongue to the ice tray.

Bye for now, & all our love. Happy New Year! XOXO


(Click twice on the pictures to see full size!)

Giving Thanks 1975

November 1975
Thanksgiving Day
9:30 a.m.

Dear Folks,

Happy Thanksgiving! We are sorry we can't all be together today--I really miss these times together, they come so far apart, and if I could be anywhere in the world today I'd rather be where the rest of you are. It looks as if Marv isn't even going to be here. He had to take two busloads of people up to Park City last night (the last one at midnight), and he got up at 5:30 this morning to take another bus from the airport up to Snowbird. It's snowing like crazy outside. He was going to try to come back to eat this afternoon and then go back up, but I think the weather will be too bad. So I guess Thanksgiving will be one Pilgrim (me) and five little Indians.

The boys have taken their sleds off to the hill at school. I have baked 2 loaves of bread and a pan of cinnamon rolls this morning--now I'm hoping this turkey will thaw soon so I can stuff him. I turned off the parades and cartoons and turned on Beethoven (not very Thanksgiving-ish). Jerry is helping me write this: he's sitting on my lap, pointing to the page, saying "A...B...C...."

With the weather so snowy I guess it's just as well we don't have a long way to drive. We'll light the fire tonight and be glad we're home. But I've surely been thinking of you this morning!

Lee just came bursting in--his face is red as an apple. He's been burying his head in the snow, "making snow-faces," he said. And here come the rest, dropping little balls of snow off their coats all over the floor. They want a piece of warm bread.


The old turkey (bless his heart) is in the oven. Linn says, "Just think about how he used to be alive and running around!" I told him I try NOT to think about that. He said, "It's for a good cause." I suppose so, if you're not the turkey, I tell him. "Well, we're not turkeys," he says. So much for this bit of wisdom.

The TV is on again, and singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. What happened to Thanksgiving? The snow has almost stopped. It's pretty out.Clouds are laying in the canyons and ridges on the mountains, the trees and bushes are all lacy. I finished writing the roadshow. I think it's pretty good. The play is called The Duyvel and Diederich Katters-kill. It has the Devil in it, and the Ghost of Captain Kidd, and buried treasure, and a lazy man (Diederich) who trades his soul to the Devil for the treasure, and his greedy Wife--all at the time just before the Revolutionary War. It ends with the devil "collecting" as the first shot that begins the war is fired. I'm trying to do the music, too. Anyway, it's fun and it keeps me from getting bored.

We've all had coughs and drippy noses for a couple of weeks--seems like forever. Linn has been taking skiing lessons. He likes it. Gosh, I'm going to try to make a pumpkin pie, so I'd better get going on it. Marv might make it home after all. Darn people who want to go skiing when they ought to stay home with their families and let others do the same.


The pie is in the oven, the sweet potatoes are boiling. It's snowing again. I am sleepy. They wanted to see Marv in the Bishop's office last night, but he wasn't home until midnight (he stayed about 5 minutes) when he brought the turkey. I was beginning to think we'd have hot dogs for Thanksgiving.... I wonder what they wanted him for? Poor Marvin, I guess he's having a free dinner up in the mountains at a beautiful ski chalet, surrounded by jolly skiiers in wooly sweaters beside a roaring fireplace...when he could be here watching Pippi Longstocking and Mr. McGoo and sniffling along with us!

I must go and change Marc's pants. The smell is drowning out the turkey and pie.

One O'Clock

Marvin came home. Hurrah! But he has to go back in half an hour, and the old turkey won't get done. He's nice and brown, but the popper-thing won't pop up. Everything else is done and waiting. Jeremy is still napping here on the bed beside me. He keeps laughing in his sleep. It must be a really funny dream.

10:30 p.m.

Dinner is over, the mess is over, everybody is full and asleep, except me. (Marvin's not home yet). We had a really nice Thanksgiving after all. It has been a good day. I've been thinking of other Thanksgivings over the years--all of the turkeys and potatoes and pies, all the family together--Grandma and John and his bottle of Four Roses, Aunt Lauree and Uncle Frank and all the cousins--and the Thanksgiving you made the pie and forgot to put the pumpkin in it. I hope you know how much we love you, and how often we think of you. Many hugs and kisses from us all. XOXO,