New kids on the block

eggsOnce you have chickens (or at least once I do), it becomes tempting to want more exotic varieties. Four years ago I started out with six Ameraucanas, the friendly, puffy cheeked hens that lay pale green or olive eggs.

Now I have a wide variety, and often know which hen laid which egg by its size and color. Still, I wanted a couple of Cukoo Marans (rich, dark brown eggs) and Cream Legbars (turquioise eggs). When my Silkie (a small white puffball with feathered feet) got broody (sitting on eggs to hatch them), I arranged with a small breeder in Redding to ship a few baby chicks.   Continue reading

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Poems of Berkeley

duncanAs part of poetry month, Susan Cohen (a fellow poet) and I are orchestrating a reading of poems about Berkeley at the North Branch of the Berkeley Public Library on the afternoon of Saturday, April 25. Gathering poems for the event, I wanted to include something by Robert Duncan, who was a romantic and powerful figure in the poetry scene in the Bay Area in the sixties.  Here he is with Denise Levertov, another poet we’re including., along with Ginsberg, Spicer, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Chana Bloch, and others–hard to narrow it down to 20 poems.

Duncan held dawn readings on Mt. Tamalpias and was part of the legendary Six Gallery reading in San Francisco. Larry has a large broadside of his most famous poem, My Mother Would be a Faconress. But this quieter, mysterious poem of his is one of my favorites.

Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made place, Continue reading

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Theft and recovery

Larry battingOn Tuesday, Larry went to his softball game where his team discovered that someone had used a bolt cutter to break open the equipment shed and stolen the defibrillator and first aid kit. An odd theft.

The Creaker League has a defibrillator at each field, and will now have to store them in one spot, and gather them before each game. Continue reading

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Next week I’m heading to New York for the William Dickey Memorial Broadside Contest reading. Mark Doty will be the featured reader.  He’s a marvelous poet.  Here’s  one of my favorites of his poems.


Near evening, in Fairhaven, Massachusetts,
seventeen wild geese arrowed the ashen blue
over the Wal-Mart and the Blockbuster Video,

and I was up there, somewhere between the asphalt
and their clear dominion—not in the parking lot,
its tallowy circles just appearing,

the shopping carts shining, from above,
like little scraps of foil. Their eyes
held me there, the unfailing gaze

of those who know how to fly in formation,
wing tip to wing tip, safe, fearless.
And the convex glamour of their eyes carried

the parking lot, the wet field
troubled with muffler shops
and stoplights, the arc of highway

and its exits, one shattered farmhouse
with its failing barn… The wind
a few hundred feet above the grass

erases the mechanical noises, everything;
nothing but their breathing
and the rowing of the pinions,

and then, out of that long percussive pour
toward what they are most certain of,
comes their—question, is it? Continue reading

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The perfect poached egg

eggI’ve tried many methods to poach eggs, but this one seems foolproof, from Julia Child via the NY Times:

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Have a bowl of ice water at hand. Punch a tiny hole in the end of the egg(s). Gently place the egg(s) into fully boiling water for 10 seconds. Transfer the egg(s) to the ice water. Crack the egg(s) into a small bowl and slide into the boiling water one at a time. Turn off the water. Remove when poached to your satisfaction (for me, about 3 minutes).

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They are filling the Sunday market here, confirming spring. I decided to look for a poem about tulips for today, and came up with this. I especially like the tulip verse:

The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog

tulipTo be blessed
said the old woman
is to live and work
so hard
God’s love
washes right through you
like milk through a cow

To be blessed
said the dark red tulip
is to knock their eyes out
with the slug of lust
implied by
your up-ended skirt

To be blessed
said the dog
is to have a pinch
of God
inside you
and all the other
dogs can smell it

Alicia Ostriker
from The Book of Seventy

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Irish poems

824_egrennanThe Irish Times has been running a contest to select the 100 best loved Irish poems (chosen by whomever responds, I guess). You can read the results here. Not surprisingly, Yeats, Heaney, and Kavanagh populate the top ten.

But here’s a poem from a poet who wasn’t included, Eamon Grennan, perhaps because he’s lived most of his adult life in the United States. It seems like a very Irish poem to me.


When I’d walked out to the sea surfing and spuming
into meerschaum heaps of lettuce-tinted gauze,
breakers becoming light then noise, the ocean raging
and rearranging this long spit of sand like a life
at the mercy of circumstance, I saw the north wind Continue reading

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baabiesDo you remember the seven eggs that the silkie hen hatched? Five of those chicks turned out to be  roosters! Beautiful as they were, they had to go. In their place, I got three 3-week old hens from Craigs’ list. Their breed is Cuckoo Maran, a medium size chicken that lays deep brown eggs.  They are in the chick pen now. At least the owner says they’re hens…

And the silkie is broody again. This time, I’ve ordered female day-old chicks for her to raise–I’m not taking any chances. Continue reading

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An exemplary sentence

41K5ATQ9E5LAlthough I primarily know him as a poet, I love Adam Zagewski’s prose. Here is a snippet from his memoir of his student days in Krakow, Another Beauty,  beautifully translated by Clare Cavanagh. It’s about the cleaning lady for his student apartment:

She was a magpie, a snoop. I suspected her of regularly rummaging though our things and once left a card that said “Please don’t look here” in my desk drawer. Helena took offense and didn’t speak to me for several days, and then, when her anger had subsided, she reproached me bitterly: “How could you even think such a thing? So you don’t trust me at all.” Continue reading

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A delightful reading

images-2Last week I drove down to Stanford to hear Ellen Bryant Voigt read. I had heard of her, but not read much of her work. It was worth the long drive through the increasingly dense traffic of the Bay Area. The words that come to mind are vibrant authentic.

Here is a poem from her new book. Unlike her earlier books, these poems dispense with punctuation, but I think you will be able to decipher the poem’s sense without it:


after a week of heavy snow I want to praise my roof first
the acute angle at which it descends form the ridgepole
and second that it is black the color absorbing
all the other colors so that even now as arctic air Continue reading

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