Wednesday, February 22, 2017

More poetry links

I probably should have done this update sooner.
a line from a poem at

"Like poetry, they got so/much nothing done."

A sonnet. Also a pastoral, I guess, about a weather vane shaped like a rooster in a desered landscape.

"Omens" This is strange but lovely.

Poem about a dead deer

Reminds me of a poem with the same theme from my book Five Poets,"Travelling through dark." It's quoted here:

Beauty of the Trees (second poem)

A science fiction tale, perhaps, or maybe not
"let me begin by telling you/about the cold"

Autumn poem "Harvest"

Whatever is too stupid to say can be sung. —JOSEPH ADDISON (1672-1719)

epigraph to a poem on writers almanac Oct 26, 2016

5 short sweet poems

"The Map"


excerpt from a poem
the little white

daisy-like flowers and the tendrils

of the tiny striated blue ones,
which have, as it happens, not only
the one name Speedwell but many more
besides, Bird’s Eye, Cat’s Eye, Farewell
and Goodbye. You were to stitch a posy
of it onto the beloved’s coat

before a journey, the boat leaving
for what distant shore.

Short excerpt from

"Heart Failure"
The energy of the cosmos /is never lost, only changes form, takes your breath away.

Lovely poem "Verge"

A poem about loss, I think. "Huge Cloudy"

One line excerpt:
"the big dipper pouring night down over you"

A villanelle about math (about an article about math)

"I know that someone said/in a perfect universe, we'd all be dead."

Thank you poem, posted on Thanksgiving day.

"Late Tomato"

"The January Bee"

"Letter from Limbo"


About time, old age, progress and change. And memories.

Quote from the author about his poem, "imagination is like magic; it can get you into trouble, but also get you out"

(Hint: click on the MORE button.)

"Smoke Tree"

memories of deceased parents

"The Past" (villanelle)

"The Immigrant Story"

excerpt:"I entered the English language"

"Ale & Cake"

(Shakespeare quote inspired this. It made me laugh.)

"American Ready-Cut System Houses"

This poem wanders around but connects at the end. Also click on "More" button for the story behind the poem.

"Lunar Eclipse"

Seen from Mt Rainier

"Augustine Chanting"

precious words

"Music from Childhood"

It's a pantoum, a poem which thrives on repetition, according to a set pattern. The author comments that the repetition seems appropriate to his subject - of growing up in a home where two languages are spoken.


(the small before the large)


why it affects us so


"Sea Garden"

(inspired by learning that "dead man's fingers" is a type of coral - click on More button.)

"What she taught me"

a beautiful tribute to the poet's mom

For Valentine's Day, a love poem

"Decades Ago"

"I decided to take these tired metaphors and deconstruct their camouflage, until all that remains is the true ‘heart’ of the matter: one human being, stripped of blather and artifice, speaking to the beloved."
—Rita Dove

Click on More for the full author's quote.

A poem for Christmas

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy Holidays

Happy New Year
I'm thinking about Christmas, but I haven't come to a final conclusion.

I recently saw some statistics.  Something like 90% of people surveyed indicated that they celebrated Christmas.  Including people who also said they weren't religious.  I think that's a good thing.  Although it's not exactly clear what they meant by celebrated - maybe they included having a day or two off from work??
On the other hand, something like 80% thought Christmas was too commercialized.  Hmmm.

I have always enjoyed Christmas, even during the period of my life when I wasn't particularly religious.  But I do think that there are two sides to Christmas . . . and they sometimes overlap.  To me, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, most decorations, exchanging gifts and writing to distant friends are all part of the "secular" side of Christmas.  You don't need to be religious to take part.  You can do these things if you are Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, some other major religion, atheist or even non-sectarian.

As an aside, I sent a Christmas card to my cousin Jeannine.  (Cousin once removed, to be technical.  My aunt was her grandmother.)  The card I got from her with newsletter was not much different from other cards.  But it was clearly a New Year's card, and it arrived during the last week of December.  Definitely part of the secular side.  Similarly, my friend Sarah is of the Jewish persuasion, and her holiday cards (now e-mails) are traditionally done the day after Thanksgiving.

As to the more religious side of Christmas, a few thoughts occur to me.

I do have an aversion to the term "Black Friday."  I guess I'm old-fashioned, I think of black days as bad news, such as a crash in the stock market, or declaration of war.  Even more, I dislike the emphasis that commercial interests put on Black Friday as a celebration of greed.  And the stories of crowds so intent on getting a bargain that they trample one another.  Yet that's my personal reaction, apparently a lot of people disagree with me about it.

But I do struggle with the question of whether Christmas needs to be more religious.  I wish the selection of cards that actually say "Merry Christmas" was better.  And I was delighted to see that the Church Christmas Party had an opportunity for the children to be photo'd with a manger scene.  So much better than a Santa Claus, in my opinion.

Still, somehow I feel that the religious side of Christmas is very personal.  This aspect of Christmas is best done in a family setting, and with our brothers and sisters at church.   If it's not religious enough, who should we blame but ourselves?
And furthermore . .

If we make it more specifically a religious holiday, what does that do to those people not of our faith?  Shouldn't they also have the opportunity to enjoy "Glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people"? 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Poetry Magazine

I subscribed to Poetry shortly before I retired.  At first, I was really excited and enjoyed each issue very much.  It was well worth the $2.00 per issue (annual subscription $24.00).

Lately, though, the excitement was wearing off.  Often when I brought in the magazine and read it eagerly, I found few or no poems I liked.  And the commentary was too abstruse.  Then there was the modern art.  I'm still unclear on how graphic art = poetry.

Anyway, last month I got a bill for another year.  The price had gone up to $26.00.  I put the notice aside, to think about whether it was worth it.

Then the latest issue arrived.  And the first poem really appealed to me.  It was a rather long poem, which I usually don't care for, or only care for selected portions.  This one was good all the way through.

So now I'm going to resubscribe.  I like supporting The Poetry Foundation, and even an occasional gem is probably worth a bit more than $2.00 per issue.

I also subscribe to Poetry Northwest, with a similar annual fee, but they publish only twice a year.  I'm still waiting for the second issue.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Amo linguam latinam

This post was inspired by a little book from B&N, called Cave Canem: Beware of the dog, with little items about Latin phrases and life in Rome back in the day.

When I was in high school, my first year Latin teacher would often go around the room to see how much time everyone had spent on the homework.  I was kind of embarrassed, and usually gave some vague reply.  The fact is that most of the other students had spent 3 hours or so, and at that had only translated the first ten lines.  I often was done in less than an hour, having translated the full 25 or so lines.  It wasn't really my doing - Latin just came easily for me.  I enjoyed the way the word endings told me where each word fit into the sentence, and (back in those days) I had a pretty good memory, so I didn't have to look up many vocabulary words.

I wanted to study classical Greek, but my school didn't offer it.  As I recall, the only high school in the city that taught Greek was Gonzaga Prep - a boy's school.  If I had been able to study Greek, I might not have met my future husband in French class (which he took because there was no class in German).  Anyway,  I got interested in Math because of the fine Math teacher/department head who gave a class called "Special Geometry."  (These days it would be termed Honors Geometry, but that term had not yet arrived.)  That's when I found out that Math could be even more fun than Latin.

So, in an alternate universe where I was not absorbed by Math, I might have gone to college to study classical languages, and probably become an old maid teacher of the subject.

I'm not sorry that it ended up as it did.  My degree in Math got me into very interesting employment over the years.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Battle scenes

Whenever I come to a battle scene, whether history, fiction or historical fiction, my reaction is the same.  My eyes glaze over, I have no idea what is actually happening.  In movies, with the quick cuts and various perspectives, I suppose I feel rather like an actual participant in the battle - at the grunt level.  I don't know who is winning, nor what (if anything) will help.  I have the added disadvantage that I somehow cannot even tell friend from foe.  Hopefully, real soldiers can tell.

Anyway, I just finished a 60 page section in Les Miserables, which is about Waterloo.  Most of it is, in fact, description of the elements of the battle.  I stuck with it, because I have this wonderful feeling when I read Victor Hugo's writing, whether or not I "get" what he's talking about. 
There was one scene where a road cut, invisible to the charging army, went right across there path of attack.  The men and horses fell right into it.  They filled it up, and those who were left ran over the dead bodies.  If this had been a fictitious battle, I would have considered it too unbelievable for words. 
So eventually the battle is done and he gets to the part where he talks about the meaning of the defeat of Napoleon.  Which was, in his view, a prelude to the French revolution.  Only after destroying the power of the emperor could the hope for liberty be realized.

It was worth all those pages of people I don't know doing warlike things, just to reach the way he expressed this hopeful conclusion.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Poetry Links 1

Some poems that caught my attention over the past month or so.

a very short poem about cake

time is like cracking the lock on a safe

thoughts on heritage

about death - his wife and his mother


Funeral for a Sioux Elder

Writer's Almanac Aug 16, 2016

"about competition" by Charles Bukowski

(the secret of success)

Think about writing my own artist's statement after reading this:

Also on Aug 17:

Writer's Almanac - Joyce Sutphen watches her mom can tomatoes

Poetry Daily describes a very old and decrepit married couple

A poem that asks what does God want.

So lovely. About orcas and knowlege and family

"T end of writing, Johnson said, is to instruct;
the end of poetry is to instruct by pleasing

Is a violet violet? A poem about perception and words.




To the Student Who Asked Why He Earned a "C" on an Essay about Love, by Clint Margrave

"love is a rough draft/in constant need of revision"


About this Poem:

"To my surprise and (temporary) dismay, this poem I wrote for the wedding of two friends veered off into the pervasive anxiety of climate change. I was bummed out until I discovered I was on my way to making the argument that the beautifully hopeful act of eternally pledging oneself to another is, in some elusive metonymic way, related to our collective salvation."

Class reading Dante, interrupted by a thunderstorm.

The missing cookbook and the absent wife.

The Loss of the Joy of Cooking


Writers Almanac, Sept 15, 2016

A meditation on subject/verb agreement, inspired by a message from Microsoft Windows.



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How to Find Dark Matter

I just came across a report on "A Newly Discovered Galaxy Composed Almost Entirely of Dark Matter" and it reminded me that I wanted to talk about this.

The previous Science News headline said "Scientist still unable to find invisible dark matter."  I loved that they couldn't find it, presumably because it's invisible.  That usually makes things hard to find.  Of course they know that dark matter must exist, because otherwise there wouldn't be enough gravity to hold our galaxy (the Milky Way) together - it would fly off in all directions.

But in the Bible, Hebrews 11:1, it says "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  When I saw that, it struck me as being about the same thing as the dark matter theory.