While there are many wonderful blackberry poems,  I know only three poems about cherries, all from previous centuries–one by Thomas Campion, one by Robert Herrick, and this one, by D. H. Lawrence, that Larry mentioned as we were eating the exceptionally sweet cherries of this summer:

The Cherry Robbers

Under the long, dark boughs, like jewels red
In the hair of an Eastern girl
Shine strings of crimson cherries, as if had bled
Blood-drops beneath each curl.
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Maggie Smith on Monday

I happened on this poem last week, and here it is for you:

Good Bones

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged, Continue reading

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The Exemplary Sentence: Primo Levi

At a friend’s suggestion, I have been reading Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table. I rather skimmed through the early chapters about his relatives, but once I got to the chapter on Hydrogen, I was hooked.

This is not a book about his time in Auschwitz, but about his early years and the years after the war, about life, Italy, the elements and their role in his life. He is a terrific storyteller and a lucid writer, and I’ll quote a few paragraphs here. These are completely separate but should give yo a feel for his writing:

“In January 1941 the fate of Europe and the world seemed to be sealed. Only the deluded could still think that Germany would not win…And yet, if we wanted to live, if we wished in some way to take advantage of the youth coursing through or veins, there was no other resource than self-imposed blindness… “we did not notice,” we pushed all dangers into the limbo of things not perceived or immediately forgotten… Our ignorance allowed us to live, as when you are in the mountains and your rope is frayed and about to break, but you don’t know it and feel safe.”

I often feel like we are holding that same frayed rope now. Continue reading

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Monday on Tuesday

Once again, Monday slipped by me before I could post a poem, here are two worth waiting for. Everyone thinks of Philip Levine as the poetic champion of the blue-collar worker, but I vote for Dorianne Laux.

The Shipfitter’s Wife

I loved him most
when he came home from work,
his fingers still curled from fitting pipe,
his denim shirt ringed with sweat
and smelling of salt, the drying weeds
of the ocean. I’d go to where he sat
on the edge of the bed, his forehead
anointed with grease, his cracked hands
jammed between his thighs, and unlace
the steel-toed boots, stroke his ankles
and calves, the pads and bones of his feet.
Then I’d open his clothes and take
the whole day inside me — the ship’s
gray sides, the miles of copper pipe,
the voice of the foreman clanging
off the hull’s silver ribs. Spark of lead
kissing metal. The clamp, the winch,
the white fire of the torch, the whistle,
and the long drive home.


Oh, the Water

You are the hero of this poem,
the one who leans into the night
and shoulders the stars, smoking
a cigarette you’ve sworn is your last
before reeling the children into bed.

Or you’re the last worker on the line,
lifting labeled crates onto the dock,
brown arms bare to the elbow,
your shirt smelling of seaweed and soap.

You’re the oldest daughter
of an exhausted mother, an inconsolable
father, sister to the stones thrown down
on your path. You’re the brother
who warms his own brother’s bottle,
whose arm falls asleep along the rail of his crib. Continue reading

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After the Solstice

I always feel the turn of the year after the summer solstice. Even though it is still bright summer, each day is a little shorter now, the early spring crops are over, and I get an acute sense of the brevity of summer, the impending autumn.  I think this delicate poem by Jane Kenyon captures that:

Wash Day

How it rained while you slept! Wakeful,
I wandered around feeling the sills,
followed closely by the dog and cat.
We conferred, and left a few windows
open a crack.
xxxxxxxxxxxxNow the morning is clear
and bright, the wooden clothespins
swollen after the wet night.

The monkshood has slipped its stakes
and the blue cloaks drag in the mud.
Even the daisies—good-hearted
simpletons—seem cast down.

We have reached and passed the zenith.
The irises, poppies, and peonies, and the old
shrub roses with their romantic names
and profound attars have gone by
like young men and women of promise
who end up living indifferent lives. Continue reading

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The exemplary sentence

I’m thinking I should call this “the exemplary paragraph” as it’s usually more than one sentence that catches my eye… but of course the paragraph is made up of sentences. In this case from three books I read recently.

But the first is just a sentence, from Trajectory by Richard Russo, a recent book of his short stories. “Because people cling to folly as if it were their most prized possession, defending it, sometimes with violence, against the possibility of wisdom.”

The second is a paragraph from a book by a Jewish woman who masqueraded as a gentile and married a Nazi to get through the war. She is talking with an acquaintance who is telling her about her life.

” ‘Let me tell you we had some hard times when I was a kid. For twelve years Papa had no steady job. We lived on charity mostly. Then, when our dear Führer came to power, things got much better. Just about all the young people we knew joined the Hitler Youth. When I was fifteen I went to a Nazi Party banquet, and they served rolls with butter.’ Is that the reason? I wondered. Is that why they averted their eyes, made themselves blind? For the butter?” from The Nazi Officer’s Wife by Edith Hahn Beer. Continue reading

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Will you still need me…

I was with my 5-year old grandson this weekend, and my daughter (probably for my sake) put on a Beatles playlist. I remarked to her that that song, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m 64…” was really a joke to us at the time. Who was ever going to be 64?

Then today, I happened on this prose poem by C. K. Williams:


When I offhandedly remarked to my father how sad it was that his good friend Sol would be dying next year he startled and asked what do you mean and I answered well he’ll be sixty sixty that’s when you die everybody knows that and then my father “disabused” me– Continue reading

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Fred Marchant

My mind works this way, too.

Here is What the Mind Does

when my laptop opens to a small red car
a tight street in Jenin gray-yellow dust
an electric window half-open and five
lean-to cards where on each a number
denotes a round spent or the place where
it began to travel at the speed of its idea
while by an open car door the blood pools
pools and follows a tilt in the road—not
far—more a lingering as if blood could
choose not to leave could hang around
be curious and puzzled like the children
who stop to watch the men who have duties
do them as quickly as they can in a slow
reluctant and deliberate picking through
which is what the mind does at moments
like this—really little more than nothing

Fred Marchant

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A poem online

One of my poems appears here today:  If you don’t see it, search for “Conservation of Matter.”

A spot worth checking out from time to time. I like Beate’s taste in poetry, and not just because she likes my work!

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The newest addition to my cooking

We have been following the advice of Dr. Cowan for almost 10 years now, ever since Larry came down with several mysterious and serious health issues in 2009. Dr. Cowan was the only one who came up with a coherent narrative as to the underlying cause and his prescription, which was diet change and supplements, was effective. Larry is in excellent health, and our diet focuses on fresh vegetables, grass fed and organic meat, fish, and fruit. Of course, we don’t exclude the occasional almond croissant!

Recently, Dr. Cowan came up with an easy way to add a variety of healthy vegetables to your food, a set of intense, organic vegetable powders.

A teaspoon or so in soups, stews, eggs, oatmeal, and you not only up your vegetable intake and variety without any prep time, they also add little bursts of flavor. They come in special jars that retain all the nutritional value of the powders over time.

Copy and paste this link and use the code DRCOWANSGARDEN at checkout to get 15% off your order:

Available Now

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