Holiday Break

I’m going to be busy with family events through New Year’s, so will be taking a break.  Update on chickens, garden, poems, on my return. Here is my holiday card, beautifully designed and printed by Lis Rappoport of Littoral Press in Richmond:


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I know nothing at all about Jared Carter, except that I like this poem a friend sent me:


They are useless, there is nothing
To be done with them, no reason, only

The finding, letting myself down holding
To ironwood and the dry bristle of roots

Into the creekbed, into clear water shelved
Below the outcroppings, where crawdads sport

Through silt; clawing them out of clay, scrubbing
Away the sand, setting them in a shaft of light

To dry. Sweat clings in the cliff’s downdraft.
I take each one up like a safecracker listening

For the lapse within, the moment crystal turns
On crystal. It is all waiting there in darkness.

I want to know only that things gather themselves
With great patience, that they do this forever.

Jared Carter

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Storm hysteria

balightningsfc011021399It’s been awhile since I posted a rant so here’s a short one, just before we get to the season of good will. I can’t understand why the media and the ordinary folk around are so excited about what seems to me a perfectly normal and much needed rainstorm. We used to have these all the time. But everybody’s yammering about the terrible storm.

IMG_0055.JPGI’m sure the places that usually flood will flood, mud will slide, sink holes will appear, people will forget they need to take extra care on the road and there will be massive accidents on the freeway. In short, it’s a normal California winter day. Tomorrow I want to take a look at the surf on Ocean Beach.


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How a poem can happen

824_egrennanHere’s your Monday poetry vitamin (and isn’t this how you imagine an Irish poet should look!):


I was watching a robin fly after a finch – the smaller bird
chirping with excitement, the bigger, its breast blazing, silent
in light-winged earnest chase – when, out of nowhere
over the chimneys and the shivering front gardens,
flashes a sparrowhawk headlong, a light brown burn
scorching the air from which it simply plucks
like a ripe fruit the stopped robin, whose two or three
cheeps of terminal surprise twinkle in the silence
closing over the empty street when the birds have gone
about their own business, and I began to understand
how a poem can happen: you have your eye on a small
elusive detail, pursuing its music, when a terrible truth
strikes and your heart cries out, being carried off.

Eamon Grennan


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In the supermarket

220px-Agi_Mishol_by_Iris_NesherEven a poem for Black Friday… or part of a poem, by Agi Mishol, a Hungarian-born poet who lives in Israel and  writes in Hebrew. This is the first (and I think best) part of three part poem from the Ecco Anthology of International Poetry:

In the Supermarket

Through the supermarket aisles I push a cart
as if I were the mother of two heads of cauliflower,
and navigate according to the verse-list
I improvised this morning over coffee.
Sale banners wave to shoppers
studying the labels of packaged food
as Muzak entertains the frozen birds. And I too,
whose life is made of life, stride down the dog-food aisle
toward Mr. Flinker who confides in my ear that only the body
crumbles but the sipirt remains young forever, believe me.
I believe, but now let me turn to Granny Smith and McIntosh.
Hurry, hurry, folks, I’m the supermarket bard,
I’ll sing the rustle of cornflakes,
the curve of mutinous cucumbers,
until the cash register will hand me
the final printed version
of my poem. Continue reading

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The great turkey test

I’ve been using J. Kenji-Lopez-Alt‘s recipes for some time now, since my son told me about the Food Lab and Serious Eats. This year, we had our holiday dinner on Saturday, but some family arrived on Wednesday. It didn’t seem fair that they’d miss all the leftovers, so I decided to make a small turkey on Wednesday, have a couple of days of turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey pot pie, before the big day.

I’ve seen Kenji’s posts about spatchcocking the turkey, cutting the backbone out, flattening it and cooking it splayed on a rack over a cookie sheet. But he also had a post about cooking a whole turkey with a baking steel. Continue reading

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Something not too soppy…

CharlesReznikoff_NewBioImageI was looking for a poem that was appropriate for thanksgiving, but not too sentimental.  This one seemed to fit the bill.

Te Deum

Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of spring. Continue reading

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Don’t worry, be happy

Larry's bat_optWhen we were in St. Petersburg, we noticed that the people in the street seemed generally depressed. When we talked about this, Larry commented that there was not a lot of opportunity in Russia, “You don’t see people lining up at the borders trying to get in,” was how he put it.

Today, Larry read an article in the paper that posited that acting happy influences people to feel happier. “Maybe we should tell that to the Russians,” he suggested.

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491px-John_Keats_by_William_HiltonI rarely post poems by 19th century poets, preferring to stay with the contemporary. But in this poem by John Keats, if you simply substitute modern pronouns for “thy” and “thine” and “thou,” seems to me it could have been written tomorrow.

And Keats, 1795 – 1821, is just barely a 19th century poet. This poem is almost 200 years old.

The Living Hand

Continue reading

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Gerald Stern

231_gstern2008Gerald Stern, born in 1925, will be here reading in Albany on this Friday evening at St. Albans’ Church. I’ve always wanted to meet him, as my family name is Stern, and he looks very much like a relative. Here’s one of his poems that I particularly like: Continue reading

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