Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day: For the One Hundred and Forty Six


The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,
The nearly invisible stitches along the collar
Turned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians

Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break
Or talking money or politics while one fitted
This armpiece with its overseam to the band

Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,
The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,
The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze

At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.
One hundred and forty-six died in the flames
On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes—

The witness in a building across the street
Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step
Up to the windowsill, then held her out

Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.
And then another. As if he were helping them up
To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.

A third before he dropped her put her arms   
Around his neck and kissed him. Then he held
Her into space, and dropped her. Almost at once

He stepped to the sill himself, his jacket flared
And fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,
Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers—

Like Hart Crane’s Bedlamite, “shrill shirt ballooning.”
Wonderful how the pattern matches perfectly
Across the placket and over the twin bar-tacked

Corners of both pockets, like a strict rhyme
Or a major chord.   Prints, plaids, checks,
Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans

Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,
To control their savage Scottish workers, tamed
By a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,

Bailey, MacMartin. The kilt, devised for workers
To wear among the dusty clattering looms.
Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,

The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorter
Sweating at her machine in a litter of cotton
As slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:

George Herbert, your descendant is a Black
Lady in South Carolina, her name is Irma
And she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit

And feel and its clean smell have satisfied
Both her and me. We have culled its cost and quality
Down to the buttons of simulated bone,

The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the characters
Printed in black on neckband and tail. The shape,
The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.

~ Robert Pinsky  (b. 1940 )

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Story From Joe Blair: Dog Days

Over early morning coffee, I read this story from Joe Blair and have to share it. It's about dogs and children and moving (again). It's about bittersweet life, beautifully written.

Joe Blair: Dog Days: "We’ve got most of the stuff moved out. The TV and the couch. And the mattresses on the floor. And the curtains and the clothes and the ..."

The cover image is from his book, published in 2012.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Time and Tiramisu

As I stepped outside to take a few photographs last evening, I could hear music coming from down the road, an early start to the Labor Day weekend, no doubt. I walked around the crab apple tree taking photos - various configurations of fallen apples in the still green grass of late summer - listening to, "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" I thought of my friend, Amy, who passed in the winter of 2005. I remembered her telling me how much she liked the song as it played in the background at the Tesuque Village Market one Sunday afternoon. We would sometimes go there for lunch and a piece of their sinfully delicious tiramisu. Listening to it play in the distance brought a softly surreal feeling to the evening, an expansive sense of timelessness. As the last notes played, I walked back to the cabin and took a few photographs of black-eyed Susan and birdsfoot trefoil growing in the grass behind the cabin, none of which turned out very well. It doesn't matter. It wasn't about the photographs.


The photograph is mine, taken several days earlier, before they fully ripened ...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Old Poets

"The Old Poets of China"

Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe
that I do not want it. Now I understand
why the old poets of China went so far and high
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.

~ Mary Oliver, from, Why I Wake Early

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Days of Fisher Price

When my kids were young, this is the telephone they had. They grew up to be thoughtful, articulate communicators. Tone matters. Emoticons are not tone. Letters are not words (a, I, and O are the only exceptions). Numbers aren't words. Sometimes, I worry about where this Flat Screen culture is leading us.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Our Human History

"The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual - for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost."  ~ M. Scott Peck

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hanging Laundry

Happy Sunday to my blogging friends. I'm so grateful for each one of you ...


 "Prairie Wind"

Trying to remember what my daddy said
Before too much time took away his head
He said we're going back and I'll show you what I'm talking about
Going back to Cypress River, back to the old farmhouse

(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Trying to remember what Daddy said)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)

I tried to tell the people but they never heard a word I say
They say there's nothing out there but wheat fields anyway
Just a farmer's wife hanging laundry in her back yard
Out on the prairie where the winds blow long and hard

(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Trying to remember what Daddy said)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)

Late at night, lights dancing in the northern sky
Like the Indian spirits trying to show me how to fly
You can see into the future but it may be a mirage
Like a new car sitting there in your old garage

(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Trying to remember what Daddy said)

There's a place on the prairie where evil and goodness play
Daddy told me all about it but I don't remember what he said
It might be afternoon and it might be the dead of night
But you'll know when you see it 'cause it sure is a hell of a sight

(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)

(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)

Prairie wind blowing through my head
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
Trying to remember what Daddy said
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
Before too much time took away his head
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
He said we're going back and I'll show you what I'm talking about
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)

(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
Going back to Cypress River, back to the old farmhouse
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)

(Prairie wind blowing through my head)
(Trying to remember what Daddy said)
(Prairie wind blowing through my head)...

~ Neil Young

Image from Neil Young's album, Prairie Wind

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

For My Fellow Searchers

Once in a while I find something on another blog that I cannot help but steal. Thus it is with this poem. It encapsulates so much of how I feel about my own life. Perhaps you will find yourself here, as well:


Some people do not have to search -
they find their niche early in life and rest there,
seemingly contented and resigned.
They do not seem to ask much of life,
sometimes they do not seem to take it seriously.
At times I envy them, but usually I do not understand them -
seldom do they understand me.

I am one of the searchers.
There are, I believe, millions of us.
We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content.
We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret.
We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand.

We like to walk along the beach – we are drawn by the ocean,
taken by its power, its unceasing motion,
its mystery and unspeakable beauty.
We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers,
and the lonely cities as well.

Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter.
To share our sadness with the one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know -
unless it is to share our laughter.

We searchers are ambitious only for life itself,
for everything beautiful it can provide.
Most of all we want to love and be loved.
We want to live in a relationship that will not impede
our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls.

We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.
We are wanderers, dreamers and lovers,
lonely souls who dare ask of life everything good and beautiful.

~ James Kavanaugh

I found this wonderful poem here:


Sunday, July 27, 2014

From Gary Snyder: Learn the Flowers

Some of you may recall my crush on the poet, Gary Snyder. His gentleness comes through every word he writes. You can find my previous posts that mention him linked at the bottom of this one. Some of you may also have read this poem earlier today. The Writer's Almanac continues to deliver some fine poems. It's a good way to start the day, like a prayer for myself, and for the world. From a book of poems by Gary Snyder, published in 1974 ...

"For the Children"

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us,
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light

~ Gary Snyder, from Turtle Island. © New Directions, 1974.

The photograph of wild mountain hollyhocks by Montucky:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Shining World

What does the world
mean to you if you can’t trust it
to go on shining when you’re

not there?

Look, I want to love this world
as though it’s the last chance I’m ever going to get
to be alive
and know it.

One morning
the fox came down the hill, glittering and confident,
and didn’t see me—and I thought:

so this is the world.
I’m not in it.
It is beautiful.

~ Mary Oliver, excerpts from, October 

The photographs are mine.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

She Lived In An Old Black Van

Yesterday, the public radio station, KAXE, featured my poem, "Yellow Pears," on their morning program, The Beat. I'm sharing it here, as I have with the others, and the link to the original posting of the poem:

It's one of my favorite childhood memories.

My reading:

Image: Cristal Reza

Thursday, July 10, 2014


I love how the universe mirrors our thoughts back to us. At least, I think that's how it works. It sure seems to. For example: a few years ago, shortly after I returned to Minnesota, I was staying at a friend's house near Duluth. Driving into town one day, a song by Tom T. Hall came on the radio, "That's How I Got to Memphis," one of my favorite classic country songs. I hadn't heard it in years. As the song ended, I got a message on my phone from one of my son's old friends. She'd just had her first child. His name? Memphis.

A few folks have done versions of this song, including Bobby Bare, whose version I very much like. But, it belongs to Tom, the man who wrote it. I've always loved the feel of it, as they say ...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rhubarb Summers

I'm not sure what I can say to convince you to read this article by Garrison Keillor, published in the National Geographic. Maybe you're already a fan and it won't take convincing. Maybe you've always felt you wouldn't find much in common with him, but I would beg to differ. This story, of his life growing up in Minnesota, is really Everyone's story. It doesn't matter if you grew up in the country, the city, or the suburbs, as did my friend, JB, who sent the original article to me via real mail (a letter in the mailbox! Oh happy day!).

Anyway, I loved every sentence of this beautiful piece of writing. It reminded me why I returned to Minnesota, my home state. My answer is the same as his. You'll find it here, right up to the last sentence:

 Photograph by Erika Larsen

Monday, July 7, 2014

Shirley, Visions of Reality, and the World of Edward Hopper

Tony, over at Wolves in the City, posted this trailer. I couldn't resist stealing it for a repost. As you might know, if you've been a reader of my blog for any length of time, I am a huge fan of Edward Hopper's work. I've posted more than once on this infatuation of mine. Austrian filmmaker, Gustav Deutsch, has brought thirteen of his paintings to "life" and created a film titled,  "Shirley: Visions of Reality." When I saw the trailer at Tony's place, I had mixed feelings. The original work by Hopper is so startling and intriguing I wasn't sure how I would feel about viewing a version of them in this format. I'm still not sure, but I do intend to do so when available. I need to remember to keep my mind open to all the possibilities. I hope you'll let me know what you think ...

Tony's blog is a very interesting, often hard-hitting, mix of news you won't find in mainstream media. He also includes art, music, poetry, and other bits of life. He has, more than once, introduced an artist to me through his posting of a particular piece. Many of his interests dovetail with my own and I'm glad for his discoveries from which I benefit. He hails from Scotland. You can find him here:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Remembering Faron

I rarely re-post anything, but my micropoetry this morning brought one to mind and so I've decided to do so via a link. I guess it won't hurt to put a Christmas post smack dab in the middle of summer. I hope you'll click on the link and read, or reread:
I'll Be Home For Christmas, But Not With Faron Young

Here's my poem that brought this to mind:

Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Meadow

This summer, I have fallen in love with my place all over again. The meadow is a constant source of happiness for both Buddy and me. His smile, as he runs through the tall green grass, is infectious. He reminds me daily to remember the joy in life. Yesterday was certainly no exception. He waited patiently while I took a bluebell's picture and posed for me as I took a few of him. Okay, several of him. And more than a few of the sky, the clouds, and the field. He sniffed the air, sensing the critters that had passed through earlier, and kept an eye on Ma. He is one fine companion. I may have mentioned this a time or two.

“Ten times a day something happens to me like this - some strengthening throb of amazement - some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness."  ~ Mary Oliver

The photographs are mine.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Somewhere a Boy Fishes the Morning Away

One of my favorite songwriters is Neil Young. His album, Prairie Wind, is considered by many to be a masterpiece. I agree. It's Americana at its best. Here, from the album, is one of my favorites, "It's a Dream." Happy Sunday, Everyone.


"It's a Dream"

In the morning when I wake up and listen to the sound
Of the birds outside on the roof
I try to ignore what the paper says
And I try not to read all the news
And I'll hold you if you had a bad dream
And I hope it never comes true
'Cause you and I been through so many things together
And the sun starts climbing the roof

It's a dream
Only a dream
And it's fading now
Fading away
It's only a dream
Just a memory without anywhere to stay

The Red River still flows through my home town
Rollin' and tumblin' on its way
Swirling around the old bridge pylons
Where a boy fishes the morning away
His bicycle leans on an oak tree
While the cars rumble over his head
An aeroplane leaves a trail in an empty blue sky
And the young birds call out to be fed

It's a dream
Only a dream
And it's fading now
Fading away
It's only a dream
Just a memory without anywhere to stay

An old man walks along on the sidewalk
Sunglasses and an old Stetson hat
The four winds blow the back of his overcoat away
As he stops with the policeman to chat
And a train rolls out of the station
That was really somethin' in its day
Picking up speed on the straight prairie rails
As it carries the passengers away

It's gone
Only a dream
And it's fading now
Fading away
Only a dream
Just a memory without anywhere to stay

It's a dream
Only a dream
And it's fading now
Fading away
It's only a dream
Just a memory without anywhere to stay

It's a dream
Only a dream
And it's fading now
Fading away

~ Neil Young

Photo of Neil Young as a boy is from the album.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Light-filled Spoon

My obsession with the poetry of Mary Oliver continues. Her beautiful spirit comes shining through every word she writes. While reading her poem, "Logos," this morning, I was reminded of a poem by another poet, Hafiz, the great Persian mystic. Deciding which to post proved too difficult so I'm including both. I hope you're having a beautiful summer, infused with Love.

"Your Beautiful Parched, Holy Mouth"

A poet is someone
Who can pour Light into a spoon,
Then raise it
To nourish
Your beautiful parched, holy mouth.

~ Hafiz   (from,  I Heard God Laughing, translation by Daniel Ladinsky)


Why worry about the loaves and fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don’t worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

~Mary Oliver

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How To Live In This World

I've been spending a lot of time with Mary Oliver's poetry ... what can I say ... it's teaching me all over again how to live in this world. Each one is like a prayer ...

"The Poet With His Face In His Hands"

You want to cry aloud for your
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn’t need anymore of that sound.

So if you’re going to do it and can’t
stop yourself, if your pretty mouth can’t
hold it in, at least go by yourself across

the forty fields and the forty dark inclines
of rocks and water to the place where
the falls are flinging out their white sheets

like crazy, and there is a cave behind all that
jubilation and water fun and you can
stand there, under it, and roar all you

want and nothing will be disturbed; you can
drip with despair all afternoon and still,
on a green branch, its wings just lightly touched

by the passing foil of the water, the thrush,
puffing out its spotted breast, will sing
of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.

~ Mary Oliver, from, New and Selected Poems, Volume One

Photograph by Montucky: