A rainy Monday and a little Stafford

This weekend, all the seedlings went into the ground and today it rained. More rain tomorrow. Occasionally things work out.  I felt like a Stafford poem today, and here is one, about practical necessity and what it costs us.

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Beauty

B. H. Fairchild, a wonderful poet, will be reading at the North Berkeley Library on April 18th at 6 pm. Here is a long poem of his that I love. The image of Donatello’s David is mentioned in the poem, so you might as well look at it first.:

Beauty


xxxxxxTherefore,
xxxxxxTheir sons grow suicidally beautiful. . .

xxxxxxxxxxxx-James Wright, “Autumn Begins in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio

I.

We are at the Bargello in Florence, and she says,
what are you thinking? and I say, beauty, thinking
of how very far we are now from the machine shop
and the dry fields of Kansas, the treeless horizons
of slate skies and the muted passions of roughnecks
and scrabble farmers drunk and romantic enough
to weep more or less silently at the darkened end
of the bar out of, what else, loneliness, meaning
the ache of thwarted desire, of, in a word, beauty,
or rather its absence, and it occurs to me again
that no male member of my family has ever used
this word in my hearing or anyone else’s except
in reference, perhaps, to a new pickup or dead deer. Continue reading

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An exemplary sentence

I just finished The Story of a Brief Marriage, by Anuk Arudpragasam. I can’t say I read the whole book–a painful though extraordinary tour de force that covers one day through the eyes and voice of a young man in a refugee camp in an unnamed country. I had to skim certain parts, despite the excellent writing.

This paragraph seems so true to me, so beautifully thought through!

“Conversation was a fragile thing after all, like a plant that grows only in rich, warm, nourishing soil. Just as the cells of the human body couldn’t survive above and below certain temperatures, just as human eyes couldn’t see above and below certain wavelengths of radiation, and human ears couldn’t hear above and below certain thresholds of frequency, perhaps there existed only a narrow range of conditions under which human conversation could flourish. It wasn’t that people in the camps didn’t want to talk, for human beings would always talk, if they had the opportunity. Continue reading

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A Sonnet for Monday

Countee Culeen was born in 1909 and won acclaim in academia, yet strongly felt his roots in the world of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920’s. Here is a delicate sonnet of his, and if you want to hear a truly moving reading of it, click here.

Yet Do I Marvel

I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind, Continue reading

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Planting by the moon

I have read that planting leafy vegetables at the new moon increases their productivity, but I never tried it until Monday, which was the new moon this month. I prepared about 100 little peat pots and planted lettuce, bok choi, tatsoi, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, marigolds… By Thursday, I had the
first baby seedlings.

A Continue reading

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After all this rain…

the green of the hills reminds me of Ireland, except they are so smooth here in Northern California. They make me think of this poem by Kay Ryan.

Green Hills

Their green flanks
and swells are not
flesh in any sense
matching ours,
we tell ourselves.
Nor their green
breast nor their
green shoulder nor
the languor of their
rolling over.

Kay Ryan

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The exemplary sentence

I’ve been reading Tim Gautreaux’s work for years now, and recently finished his latest book, Signals: New and Selected Stories. His books deal with the everyday travails of the lower or middle class. This excerpt is from a story about a junk yard operator whose life if altered by finding a stunning, jeweled demonstration sewing machine with a needle with the engraved message: ART STITCHES ALL. You can read that story here. This paragraph occurs before the transformation: Continue reading

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Valentine’s Day poem

I know I’ve posted several poems by Marie Howe before, but this seemed perfect for today. And if you can, there’s an event at Senator Feinstein’s San Francisco office today at noon–a rally of constituents requesting a town meeting.  Another good way to observe Valentine’s Day.

The Kiss

When he finally put
his mouth on me—on

my shoulder—the world
shifted a little on the tilted

axis of itself. The minutes
since my brother died

stopped marching ahead like
dumb soldiers and

the stars rested.
His mouth on my shoulder and

then on my throat
and the world started up again

for me,
some machine deep inside it

recalibrating,
all the little wheels

slowly reeling and speeding up,
the massive dawn lifting on the other

side of the turning world.
And when his mouth
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Bounty

Between poetry and politics, I haven’t updated my garden posts in a long time. But the garden has ignored everything but its delight in rain, and has been yielding potatoes, fennel, spinach, collards, garlic, peppers, onions and the delicious Yacon.

 

All this wonderful produce, plus the hens laying again makes for the best breakfasts.

And did I mention I’m replacing the labyrinth with a waterfall and herb garden? More on that later.

It’s good to remember that life goes on, despite politics…

I’m putting in new seed orders today.

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Poem for My Daughter

A friend mentioned that she loved Charles Bukowski’s poetry. I’ve never been that fond of him myself, but this is one poem of his I liked and saved:

Poem for My Daughter

My girl is 8
and that is old enough
to know better or worse
or anything.
so I relax around her
and hear various
astounding things
about sex
life in general
and life in particular.
mostly it’s very easy
except I became a father
when most men
became grandfathers. Continue reading

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