December 18, 2009

Origami by Marjorie Evasco

This word unfolds, gathers up wind
to speed the crane's flight
north of my sun to you.

I am shaping this poem
out of paper, folding
distances between our seasons.

This paper is a crane.
When its wings unfold,
The paper will be pure and empty.

Why I Write

On occasions like this when I am asked to talk about my poetics the image of the Great Heron standing in the mudflats comes to mind. It is an image that brings me back to a long bus ride I once took with my parents from Tagbilaran City to the town of Ubay to visit my grandparents for the summer vacation. I hated those bus rides because invariably, too many people were crushed together, and under the seats were all sorts of odds and ends-- potatoes, bananas, dried fish, corn grits and chickens tied at the feet to be sold at a public market in some town. There were fewer buses in Bohol then and when the one we took blew one of its tires, it meant a tedious wait in the middle of nowhere while the driver walked to the nearest vulcanizing shop.

I was a hungry, hot-tempered and testy 10-yr. old from the heat and dust when our bus stopped in San Pascual, a barrio 25 kms. from our destination. But my father hoisted me down from the seat, brushed the white lime dust from my hair, and led me up a hill where the cogon grass swayed to a pungent breeze. From this lookout point, the rice in the paddies were ready for harvesting.

“Watch,” my father instructed, pointing to a pond where two carabaos were cooling off. Suddenly, my father clapped his hands, and as if by magic, a flock of white birds flew out of the water behind the clump of cogon grass. The birds circled and took my heart with them as they flew away.

“Herons,” my father named them. They were perfect in flight, and as the child I was, I must have associated beauty with motion. I must also have associated magic with the way the hands can call forth things, and the way names can fix in memory a moment of transient wonder.

Many summers hence, far from my family and away from the island of Bohol, I began to learn the language of flight, dream and memory I now call poetry.

Today's Poetry Friday is being hosted by Susan Taylor Brown. Click here to go there.

December 16, 2009

Hoedown: The Fabulous Eleanor Stewart

Hoedown from Rodeo from Eleanor Stewart on Vimeo.

Eleanor Stewart created this stop-motion animation for her final year degree in Visual Communication at the Glasgow School of Art.

The very talented Eleanor blogs here. Check it out to see more of her work.

December 15, 2009

Going West: Stop-Animation

This is a gorgeous piece of work. The book is by Maurice Gee, an important and prolific New Zealand author who writes for both kids and adults. The design is by Andersen M Studios, and was commissioned by the New Zealand Book Council.

It may take a few viewings to acclimate to the NZ accent, but it's worth a repeat or two . . . or three. Be sure to watch till the end.

December 4, 2009

Poetry Friday: The Moon's the North Wind's Cooky

The Moon's the North Wind's cooky.
He bites it, day by day,
Until there's but a rim of scraps

That crumble all away.

The South Wind is a baker.
He kneads clouds in his den,
And bakes a crisp new moon that . . . greedy

North . . . Wind . . . eats . . . again!

-- Vachel Lindsay

Today, Poetry Friday is being hosted at Elaine's blog The Wild Rose Reader. Click here to get there!

November 23, 2009

Self-Discipline the Joyce Cary Way

It's something I struggle with daily -- finding the will to write. The work is hard. It's sometimes isolating. There are days when it seems hopeless to even consider myself talented enough. And so I find ways to distract myself until I gather the courage to finally stop avoiding it. The only person who will write my books is me. Life is too short and the work too long . . .

During these times, I often turn to a description of the author Joyce Cary's last months and days of writing. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) struck Cary and he died in 1957. I wish I could credit the writer, but I have been unable to locate that information.

So, how dedicated are you to your craft?

He ceased working in the top attic as the stairs became impossible for him and began to use Trudy's old private sitting-room on the ground floor as his study. He had metal grips fitted into the walls of the passages at various strategic points and with their aid and that of a stick could for a time get about without other help. When the disease attacked his hands he contrived a sling with an elastic band which could take the weight of his wrist and leave him free to write . . .

He was in bed all the time now and working under heartbreakingly difficult conditions. He now had a bed-desk invented by himself and made for him by his next-door neighbor, a magistrate whom Joyce called "the Judge". A roll of blank paper ran underneath which led across the desk to another roll on which the used paper was wound.

At first, he still had enough movement in his right hand to be able to push the paper forward as it was used. When this, too, became impossible his son Tristram devised an electrical switch by which Joyce dropped his wrist on a button and the paper moved forward automatically. The hand itself was supported by a sling and the pen or pencil was fastened to the fingers.

You can read more about Joyce Cary here.

October 31, 2009

Grimbro: 13 Nights

I came across Grimbro's art by chance. I don't know much about him, except that he's an artist from New England. The challenge he gave himself this year was to paint (quickly) -- in the thirteen days preceding Halloween -- the icons of great horror films.

I like his work. Check it out here. Best viewed by clicking the image for a larger version.

Happy Halloween!

September 1, 2009

You Tell Me: Is This PSA Too Graphic?

A friend sent me this link -- a PSA from Wales. Not for the faint of heart.

What do you think?

June 5, 2009

Bob Dylan: Nettie Moore

I wasn't a big Bob Dylan fan as a youngster, but I'm a big one now -- especially of his later works on Modern Times. Here are the lyrics to one of my favorites on the album. It loses something in the reading, so I think it's far better to listen to it -- you can check it out at where all his songs are featured. Go out and buy this album or download it!

Nettie Moore

Lost John's sittin' on a railroad track
Something's out of whack
Blues this mornin' fallin' down like hail
Gonna leave a greasy trail

Gonna travel the world is what I'm gonna do
Then come back and see you.
All I ever do is struggle and strive.
If I don't do anybody any harm, I might make it back home alive.

I'm the oldest son of a crazy man,
I'm in a cowboy band
Got a pile of sins to pay for and I ain't got time to hide
I'd walk through a blazing fire, baby, if I knew you was on the other side

Oh, I miss you, Nettie Moore

And my happiness is o'r
Winter's gone, the river's on the rise
I loved you then, and ever shall
But there's no one left here to tell
The world has gone black before my eyes

Well, the world of research has gone berserk
Too much paperwork
Albert's in the graveyard, Frankie's raising hell
I'm beginning to believe what the scriptures tell

I've gone where the Southern crosses The Yellow Dog
Get away from all these demagogues
And these bad luck women stick like glue
It's either one or the other or neither of the two

She says, "Look out, daddy, don't want you to tear your pants
You could get wrecked in this dance."
They say whisky'll kill you, but I don't think it will
I'm ridin' with you to the top of the hill

Oh, I miss you, Nettie Moore
And my happiness is o'r
Winter's gone, the river's on the rise
I loved you then, and ever shall
But there's no one left here to tell
The world has gone black before my eyes

Don't know why my baby never looked so good before
Don't have to wonder no more
She been cooking all day, it gonna take me all night
I can't eat all that stuff in a single bite

The judge's coming in, everybody rise
Lift up your eyes
You can do what you please, you don't need my advice
'Fore you call me any dirty names, you better think twice

Gettin' light outside, the temperature dropped
I think the rain has stopped
I'm gonna make you come to grips with fate
When I'm through with you, you'll learn to keep your business straight

Oh, I miss you, Nettie Moore
And my happiness is o'r
Winter's gone, the river's on the rise
I loved you then, and ever shall
But there's no one left here to tell
The world has gone black before my eyes

The bright spark of the steady lights
Has dimmed my sights
When you're around me all my grief gives 'way
A life time with you is like some heavenly day

Everything I've ever known to be right has been proven wrong
I'll be drifting along
The woman I'm loving she rules my heart
No knife could ever cut our love apart.

Today I'll stand in faith and raise
The voice of praise
The sun is strong, I'm standing in the light
I wish to God that it were night

Oh, I miss you, Nettie Moore
And my happiness is o'r
Winter's gone, the river's on the rise
I loved you then, and ever shall
But there's no one here left to tell
The world has gone black before my eyes

May 15, 2009

Men's League Softball, Gillette, Wyoming

Out of the broad, open land they come.
Out of a coal seam's
hundred-thousand tons

of overburden, out of shit-reek barns
and shearing pens,

or down from the powder blue

derrick platforms of howling Cyclone rigs
they rung by rung descend.

They come bearing the weight

of lives and labor on their boot heels,
a week of night shifts,

of the prairie sun's relentless arc.

But here, beneath the lights of Bicentennial Park,
these men work the stiffness

from their shoulders,

crow-hop and sling the ball sharply
around the horn. No matter

who they've become

in the years since boyhood, the game's
muscular beauty remains.

-- Lucas Howell

This is Lucas at the right.
My apologies to him for the wrong formatting of his
poem. Blogger won't let me justify the single lines.
They're supposed to be over to the right.

You can see the original formatting here.
You can read his Primitive Road here.

Today's Poetry Friday is being hosted at music-loving Kelly Polark at her blog here.


April 21, 2009

The Saturday Evening Girls

The Saturday Evening Girls got their start during the late 19th century -- due to the convergence of three movements. The Settlement House movement began in London as a way to help the poor -- to give them food, shelter, and a way to make a living. In the US, the name most associated with this movement is Chicago's Jane Addams.

The women's movement focused more attention on women's economic and social needs. The Arts and Crafts movement was also getting its start. It emphasized pride in craftsmanship as people searched for an antidote to the mass produced goods of the Industrial Revolution.

The Saturday Evening Girls started in 1899 as a club through the Boston Public Library that provided education and social activities for young immigrant girls. Local philanthropists hoped their contribution would keep girls off the streets. Many girls had to work to provide an income for their families, which meant no time for school.

Under the guidance of Edith Brown and Edith Guerrier, with assistance from Helen Storrow, the group eventually turned to making and selling pottery as a way to pay for the organization's summer camps.

The small business was called Paul Revere Pottery for the group's proximity to the historic location in the North End where Paul Revere worked his silver one hundred years earlier.

The club helped young women develop not only the skills of decorating pottery, but also business skills to go along with it. Local department stores and other retail ventures bought the girls' lovely pieces..

According to the Museum of Fine Arts, volunteers read to the girls as they worked. One mug is inscribed "In the forest must always be a nightingale & in the soul a faith so faithful that it comes back even after it has been slain," a verse from the 1910 play Chantecler by Edmond Rostand."

The MFA provides this review from writer Margaret Pendleton in 1910: "The glaze is dull, soft in color and texture…The colors are pure yellow, soft green, old blue and a tan. Their success in color scheme is wonderful." The girls decorated children's pottery and kitchen sets.

The most accomplished of the SEG was Sara Galner.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has a collection of Saturday Evening Girls' pottery, and has this to say about Sara:

"The vast majority of works in the collection were decorated by one of the Pottery's best artists, Sara Galner, the mother of the collection's donor. Galner, a Jewish immigrant from Austria-Hungary, joined the reading club as a young girl and later worked at the Pottery until her marriage. Objects bearing her signature span at least ten years, including some of the earliest years of the Pottery's production and the height of their artistic achievement and success in the mid-1910s. Examples of her work show the Pottery's efforts to refine both materials and technique, as well as Galner's own refinement and maturity as an artist."

Paul Revere Pottery operated until the 1940s.

You can read more about the Saturday Night Girls at the MFA by clicking here

When you get to the page, click on the Interactive Exhibition Preview near the top of the page.

This same post appears at The Write Sisters' blog.

April 20, 2009

Happy Birthday! Today, It's All About Me and Birthdays

It's my birthday, and I've been waiting until today to share a very cool website called The Birthday Calculator. Thanks, Ed!

Here are some of the things you can find out about yourself (maybe a little more than you want to know):

Your date of your conception and the day of your birth. For me, both happened on a Sunday.

Your special year according to other cultures:

The Chinese say I was was born in the year of the Dragon.
My native American zodiac sign is the Beaver.
My plant is the wild clover.

The Egytpians say I was born in the month of Paony.

The moon was a waning crescent on the day I was born.

My birth flower is the daisy.

My birth tree is the Maple.

My birthstone is the diamond.

You can find out who shares your birthday by going to Wikipedia. Enter the date in Wikipedia's search engine.

I share a birthday with my good friends, Liz Tentarelli and Kathleen Tancrede, and also these folks:

Edna Ruth Parker, supercentenarian
George Takei, aka Hikaru Sulu, helmsman for the USS Enterprise
Jessica Lange, American actress
Napoleon III, Emperor
Harold Lloyd, silent film comedian
Joan Miro, one of my favorite artists
Gordon Smiley, race car driver
Johnny "The Bull" Stamboli, professional wrestler

You can also find out the events that happened on the auspicious occasion of your birth:

On April 20, in 1916 the Chicago Cubs played their first game at Weeghman Park, which would eventually become Wrigley Field.

1972 -- Apollo 16 landed on the moon.

2008 -- Danica Patrick won the Japan 300 -- the first woman to do so.

Did you know you have a Life Path? the Birthday Calculator tells me mine is number 5, and seems to be pretty accurate. It includes this:

The Life Path 5 suggests that you entered this plane with a highly progressive mindset, with the attitude and skills to make the world a better place. The key word for your Life Path is freedom. In the pursuit of freedom, you are naturally versatile, adventurous, and advanced in your thinking. You are one of those people who is always striving to find answers to the many questions that life poses. The byword for the positive Life Path 5 is constant change and improvement. You want to be totally unrestrained, as this is the number most often associated with the productive use of freedom.

Apparently if you're a Life Pather 1, 5 or 7, we'll get along just great!

I won't tell you how old I am in dog years.

April 14, 2009

Here Lies The Body Of . . .

As a writer, I've come to like pithy, tight writing. No better place to find tight writing than in an epitaph.

Here lies old Rastus Sominy

Died a-eating hominy

In 1859 anno domini

Savannah, Georgia

Blown upward

out of sight:

He sought the leak

by candlelight

Wiltshire, England

Harry Edsel Smith

Born 1903 - Died 1942

Looked up the elevator shaft

to see if the car

was on the way down.

It was.

near Albany, New York

The dust of

Melantha Gribbling

Swept up at last

by the Great Housekeeper

Woodville, England

On a hypochondriac's grave:

See. I told you

I was SICK!

Littleton, Colorado

Here lies the body of

Jane Gordon

With mouth almighty

and teeth accordin!

Marblehead, Massachusetts

Some atheist's claim to fame.

Here lies

an Atheist

All dressed up

And no place to go.

Thurmont, Maryland

Here lies the body of poor Aunt Charlotte.

Born a virgin, died a harlot.

For 16 years she kept her virginity

A damn'd long time for this vicinity.

Death Valley, California

I put my wife beneath this stone

For her repose and for my own.

Middlebury, Vermont

And, one of the favorites I heard in childhood:

Here lies Lester Moore.

Four slugs

From a forty-four.

No Les

No More.

Boot Hill Cemetery, Tombstone, Arizona

For more epitaphs, check out this cool website.

April 9, 2009

Poetry Friday: Keeping Secrets and The Old Irish Cemetery

This poem, which a friend shared with me many, many years ago
is one I find very clever and so very true --

Keeping Secrets

First I put it gently in an envelope in my back pocket,
but it grew bulky, and sitting on it was uncomfortable for both of us.
So I got a bag, one of those that kee
ps a quart of ice cream cold,
and kept it there until it st
arted to swell and leak,
and the bottom fell out of the bag.
Next I tried a freezer bag with a twist tie,
but they're transparent.
I knew I needed something bigger and stronger,
so I got a shopping bag, with handles,
and carried it around with me.
That was ok, but my friends all asked me what w
as in the bag and got angry when I wouldn't tell them.
So I got a carton at the
liquor store and stuck it behind the door of my office.
That worked for a while, but it got obstreperous,
complained all day, insisted on atte
ntion when I was trying to work.
I took to leaving it in the back seat of the car,
but it didn't think much of that either, sulked and chewed up the upholstery.
One afternoon on the way home it mooned a state trooper
out of spite I suppose.
Christ! I could have been arrested.
I built a room onto the garage and brought it breakfast, lunch, and dinner,
plumped its pillows and let it do the Sunday crossword puzzle.
You think it
appreciated that?
Fat chance.
The last straw came when it kicked in the wall,
occupied the garage,
refused to let me put the car away,
and picked me up and put me
gently in an envelope in its
back pocket.

-- Bruce Petersen

* * * * *

I'm thinking about secrets today, because of an incident at the Old Irish Cemetery -- St. Joseph's -- where I usually walk Cooper.

We were there today near the little hill where the winter mortuary used to be. Cooper ran over to greet a man we were just about to pass -- the guy had pulled up near where we were walking at the back part of the cemetery.

He was out of the car and stretching -- 6'2", about 38 years old or so, and handsome in that windblown way some preppy lawyers cultivate --longish dark hair streaked with a little gray, suit pants, but not jacket and a rumpled (but not too rumpled) chambray button-down shirt. There was a combination of charm and good looks about him that most intelligent women recognize and avoid just because you know there's going to be trouble down the road.

Cooper ran over to greet him, and just as he
reached down to pat him, I saw the heavy gold wedding ring.

I knew right away he was there for a tryst.

Sure enough, not ten steps after I passed him,
a blue Toyota pulled past us driven by an extraordinary woman -- long brown hair, flawless skin, and an open, smiling face -- absolutely beautiful. She smiled at me and Cooper as she passed, but it was clear she only had eyes for this blueblood. She must have been all of 26 years old.

Cooper and I kept walking. For a while they were out of the car -- that's about all I could tell without wal
king backward and staring. Eventually I heard a car door close, and I could see they were now both in the Toyota.

I usually do a couple of turns around the cemetery, and I considered not walking my usual route past them, but I then I thought -- what the hell? Why should I change my plans? It wasn't like I'd be staring through the car window at them -- my path was taking me about 30 feet away.

As a general rule, you don't see married couples canoodling in cemeteries. Trust me. I know these things. I've walked this cemetery just about every day for the past two years, and it's about the sixth illicit liaison I've happened upon. These two were making out like teenagers.

Generally, these things don't bother me because I'm not particularly judgmental. Cheating to me is not a moral issue --it's a fairness issue.
I was bothered by this, however. I wanted to dope slap them both.

Instead, other little imaginings presented themselves. Maybe I'd tap on the car window and tell them -- in no uncertain terms, of course -- to leave the holy ground. That made me laugh -- that's what eighty-five year old women do.

Then I though about how fun it would be to just stand five feet away from the drivers' side. And just stare. That made me laugh, too. That's what crazy people do.

I wondered ho
w long it would have taken them to notice me standing there claiming to not be passing judgment.

In the end, I just kept walking. They left when they saw me making my way past their parking spot for the third time.

Ha! At least I got in my 10,000 steps for today.

Today's Poetry Friday is being hosted by Carol over at her corner

April 2, 2009

Poetry Friday: Pangur Ban

Myself and Pangur, cat and sage
Go each about our business;

I harass my beloved page,

He his mouse.

Fame comes second to the peace
Of study, a still day
Unenvying, Pangur's choice
Is child's play.

Neither bored, both hone
At home a separate skill
Moving after hours alone
To the kill

When at last his net wraps
After a sly fight
Around a mouse; mine traps
Sudden insight.

On my cell wall here,
His sight fixes, burning,
Searching; my old eyes peer
At new learning,

And his delight when his claws
Close on his prey
Equals mine when sudden clues
Light my way.

So we find by degrees
Peace in solitude,
Both of us, solitaries,
Have each the trade

He loves: Pangur, never idle
Day or night

Hunts mic
e; I hunt each riddle
From dark to light.

-- Unknown 9th Century Irish Monk
translated from Irish by Eavan Boland

There are many translations of this poem, written by an Irish Monk in the Monastery of St Paul, Carinthia, Austria. It was written in the margins of an illuminated manuscript. You can find the original Irish version here.

Pangur Ban means white cat.

Another monk,
Bartolomaeus Anglicus (Bartholomew the Englishman), a 13th c. Franciscan monk and encyclopedist who wrote this entry describing, in part, the cat.

And hath a great mouth and saw teeth and sharp and long tongue and pliant, thin, and subtle.

And lappeth therewith when he drinketh... And he is a full lecherous in youth, swift, pliant and merry, and leapeth and rusheth on everything that is before him and is led by a straw, and playeth therewith;

and is a right heavy beast in age and full sleepy, and lieth slyly in wait for mice and is aware where they be mor
e by smell than by sight, and hunteth and rusheth on them in privy places.

And when he taketh a mouse, he playeth therewith, and eateth him after the play.

The illustrations pictured above are not from that manuscript as far as I know, but you can read more about Pangur Ban's
history here.

Poetry Friday is being hosted today by Amy over at Ayuddha

March 30, 2009

Illustrator Chris Sheban

Chris Sheban is one of my favorite illustrators -- among his books, Catching the Moon, Red Fox at McCloskey's Farm, and Story of the Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her To Fly.

His work has a certain quality of light I enjoy.

Plus, he's funny as heck.

I haven't been able to find out much about his life, although I do know he's kind of young.
You can see Chris's website by clicking here.

March 27, 2009

Poetry Friday: I Meant To Do My Work Today

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand,
So what could I do but laugh and go?

-- Richard LeGallienne

I've been thinking about work and self-discipline this week. This is a poem that's been a favorite since I was a kid. Right now I have lots of projects I'm working on. I would love to just laugh and go, but for now, I can only read this poem. For another poem about work, visit The Write Sisters here.

Poetry Friday is being hosted by Julie Larios over here at The Drift Record. Check it out!

March 21, 2009

Poetry Friday: Bellbirds

By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling
It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges
Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges.

These lyrical opening lines are from a poem by Australian poet Henry Kendall, who lived in the mid 19th century. Bellbirds is an iconic poem of Australia. I found it many years ago, and put just these lines in my poem journal. You can read the rest here.

These are bellbirds

The beautiful photograph of the waterfall was taken by Australian photographer, Melissa Ellison. You can see the rest of her Flickr photostream here.

March 17, 2009

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Irish Step-Dancers are a real treat! The person who tagged the title on this video got it wrong. These are step-dancing chimps, not monkeys. They are Irish, however, so he or she at least got that right . . .

I'm off to downtown Manchester this afternoon for a couple of pints of Guinness. Enjoy!

March 13, 2009

Poetry Friday: High Flight

Before you read this, you will want to watch the astonishing Wing Suit video in the post directly below this one. What a rush! Don't miss it . . .

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

-- John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

If you'd like to read more about Magee's tragically short life and this poem, check out a brief biography.

There are some great still aerial images of's featured photographer Brian Buckland.

Thanks to Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for hosting today's Poetry Friday. Click here to see this week's offerings.