Saturday, January 31, 2009

Poem of the Day

It's official: I am obsessed with the poetry of Mary Oliver. Here is the M.O. poem of the day--from Dream Work.

Members of the Tribe

Ahead of me
they were lighting their fires
in the dark forests
of death.

Should I name them?
Their names make a long branch of sound.

You know them.


I know
death is the fascinating snake
under the leaves, sliding
and sliding; I know
the heart loves him too, can't
turn away, can't

break the spell. Everything

wants to enter the slow thickness,
aches to be peaceful finally and at any cost.

Wants to be stone.


That time
I wanted to die
was playing the piano
in the room with me.

It was Mozart.
It was Beethoven.
It was Bruckner.

In the kitchen
a man with one ear
was painting a flower.


in the asylum,
I began to pick through the red rivers
of confusion;

I began to take apart
the deep stitches
of nightmares.

This was good, human work.

This had nothing to do with laying down a path of words
that could throttle,
or soften,
the human heart.

Yeats, in love and anger,
stood beside his fallen friends;
Whitman kept falling
through the sleeve of ego.

In the back fields,
beyond locked windows,
a young man who couldn't live long and knew it
was listening to a plain brown bird
that kept singing in the deep leaves,
that kept urging from him
some wild and careful words.
You know that
important and eloquent defense
of sanity.


I forgive them
their unhappiness,
I forgive them
for walking out of the world.

But I don't forgive them
for turning their faces away,
for taking off their veils
and dancing for death--

for hurtling
toward oblivion
on the sharp blades
of their exquisite poems, saying:
this is the way.


I was, of course, all that time
coming along
behind them, and listening
for advice.


And the man who merely
washed Michelangelo's brushes, kneeling
on the damp bricks, staring
every day at the colors pouring out of them,

lived to be a hundred years old.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Tuesday Teasers on Friday--Yes, Late Again

In keeping with my recent rebellion against all rules and constraints, I bring you not just Tuesday Teasers on a Friday--but I bring you poetry--in the form of a whole damn poem.

Teaser Tuesdays, hosted at Should Be Reading, asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given.
  • I'm currently in between books, more or less (I have more partially read books laying around my house than surfaces to put them on. I'd like to think it's just that I've become more discriminating and don't want to waste my precious time reading stuff I don't enjoy, but really--I think I've just completely lost all focus--for reading and just about everything else.)

    Last week, I accidentally came across a couple of poems by Mary Oliver (of whom I had not heard, despite the fact that she has won a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award), and I was very moved. I am not a big poetry reader--I'm just too linear, I suspect, and that makes me impatient with what I perceive as the inaccessibility of some poetry--The Wasteland, excepted, of course. However, I so loved and related to the poems I read, I immediately ordered not one, not two, but three volumes of Mary Oliver's poetry. I can't ever remember buying even a single volume of poetry, outside of class requirements. (Oh, once I bought some Rilke, because I was trying to track down, unsuccessfully I might add, a poem I had heard quoted....). This week's poem is from Mary Oliver's, Dreamwork.

    Anyway, here's your dose of poetry. Now sit back and take your medicine like a good girl/boy. It's really NOT that bad:


    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.

    p. 14

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    As I am sure has become painfully clear, I have had a hard time mustering the requisite motivation to write of late. Too long a story to go into why--but I assume some time in the next few months, my output will pick up. At least I hope so...

    In the meantime, and luckily, I have others who can fill in for me periodically. This week, it's my son. Each week in his First Grade class at school one lucky student is picked to write "This Week's News." Last week it was my son's turn. So I will let him tell you about his week in his own words. Oh, and don't worry, I have ensured that he retains all copyrights in his material. I would never deprive my son of a livelihood. (Snort).

    And now, may I present......

    This Weeks News by E______.

    It was Miss B____'s birthday on Monday. We celebrated R______'s half birthday yesterday which is tomorrow. We did a science experiment called Will It Float? Some things did and some things didn't. This weekend we had a long weekend, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. For the past two days it's been raining so we get to have lunch inside because of rainy day schedule. Usually we have morning work in the morning, but this morning we had DEAR, Drop Everything And Read.

    We had two Mad Minutes in a row and also Ms. S said we are going to have subtraction instead of addition. Everyone should be finishing their handwriting books very soon. Yesterday we had P.E. at 10:35 instead of 11:45 because of our rainy day schedule. In P.E. you have to wear sport shoes, but if you don't and wear Uggs you have to sit out or walk during P.E. time. We had an excellent week.

    I hope you all have an excellent week, too! Buh-Bye.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    LA Inauguration coverage

    Despite my near absence from the blog world of late (I seem to blog in's just been a tough winter folks....), and in the spirit of a new era of hope and cooperation, I will be blogging and/or tweeting ('m Nouvelleblogger) live on January 20th from a bi-partisan, single gender and very plugged-in inauguration-watching party, sponsored by Jessica Gottlieb, Elizabeth Petersen and Quaker Oats.

    As a staunch Democrat in a sea of Republican moms (apparently there will be a few of us brave Donkey souls attending....), I think I will find this event very......lively? Spirited? Engaging? Passionate? Enraging? Frustrating? Liberating? Tune in @ 9 am PST to find out...

    And finally--to the truly public service portion of this post: Quaker is using the parties to spread the word about their "Start with Substance" campaign which runs from January 12 through February 28. By visiting and entering the UPC from any Quaker hot cereal, you will be able to donate a bowl of nutritious oatmeal to Share our Strength. Quaker hopes to reach the goal of 1 million bowls. Quaker's "Start with Substance" Campaign, which encourages consumers to feed their families and "fuel it forward" to those less fortunate, gives American families an easy way to answer the call of the President-elect to help others in a time of need.


    Friday, January 16, 2009

    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    Tuesday Teasers on Saturday...

    What can I tell you? I've been running late for everything this week. To make up for my tardiness, I will gift (ha!) you with quotes from two books. Better yet, both of the quotes will be whole damn paragraphs--just 'cause they're so damn well written. So there.....Better late than never

    Teaser Tuesdays, hosted at Should Be Reading, asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given.
  • The first promised paragraph is from a book of short stories, Sunstroke and Other Stories, by British author Tessa Hadley. She has a devastating way with words and with tone...

    "Neither is exactly unhappy, but what has built up in them instead is a sense of surplus, of life unlived. Somewhere else, while they are absorbed in pushchairs and fish fingers and wiping bottoms, there must be another world of intense experiences for grown-ups. They feel as if, through their perpetual preoccupation with infantile things, they, too, have become infants; as if their adult selves were ripening and sweetening all in vain, wasted. You can see this sensual surplus in them. It glistens on their skin and in their eyes like cream rising to the top of the milk (though neither of them is fat: Rachel is tall and muscular, Janie slight and boyish, only her breasts rounded because she's breast-feeding). They half know this about themselves, how visibly they exude their sexual readiness. They know that they make a picture, spread out there under the trees in their summer dresses, with their brood gamobling around them." Page 5 (from the title story "Sunstroke").

    The second is from a book called, inaptly enough, The Little Book, by Selden Edwards. Why inapt? The book is not little and it took 30 years for the author to write it. Little indeed. It is about a 47-year-old man in 1988 who is plunged back into turn of the century Vienna by an event he cannot immediately remember. Thus far (I'm only about 60 pages into it), the book is mesmerizing.

    "Wheeler's mind raced, and then as if his grandmother's frail hand reached back to him one more time, he remembered her last words at the conclusion of the waltz a few days before, as they sat on the couch. 'You need to know-' she had said, catching her breath in short little gasps, then recapturing her composure. 'My life was very different from others. But-' She paused and looked down, as if distracted by a thought too complicated for words. 'Because of what I knew.' Then she looked up squarely into his eyes, as if trying to penetrate across time to the deepest recesses of collective history. 'You must know-' He remembered something in those strong eyes of hers. What she might have called ardor. She took his hands in hers and held them tightly. 'You must know this and remember this.' Wheeler felt something indescribable in her eyes and held them with his. 'That I was happy.'" page 109.

    Thursday, January 01, 2009

    Will Someone Please Bite Off His Little Head?

    Does anyone else hate the Gummy Bear Song (in all its many incarnations) as much as I do? If I have to hear that insidiously contagious tune one more time (my son listens to it over and over and over), or view the chubby green guy shake his workman's smile-baring butt one more time I will pull out each and every one of the hairs on my head. Smash the computer.

    Who thinks up this shit? Someone--please bite off the rest of his chewy little head (check out his ear--someone's already started nibbling)....end the agony, already.