Some Juvenalia, and a sweater.

I am searching my house up and down for a poem I wrote last year on same random sheets of paper.    Just to be safe, I pulled out my poetry folder from the writing drawer and check to make sure I hadn’t out it away – I hadn’t.      It was interesting though to look back at some of my writing that dates from the late eighties and early nineties, when I was a child.

Very little of this material is dated,  but two of these pieces (Circles, and It Couldn’t Last)  are typewritten,  which means I most probably wrote them the summer I was 13, while staying with my grandparents in Wyoming while the rest of the family moved from Wyoming to Illinois.    The untitled tanka is from a school project on poetry – a little volume demonstrating different forms.   Other poems in the handwritten volume reference the Horned One and the Lady of Sea,  placing the writing somewhere between the summer ’84  when I first encountered goddess spirituality while searching for books by Andre Norton, and ’89,  when I got my first typewriter.

It Couldn’t Last

Laughing in love,

saying words we neither meant.

If time in love is wasted,

it was wasted time well spent.



Circles circumscribe the world.

Red slashed for no, green lit for go,

and foiled latex assuring save sex.

Coffee mugs, and water jugs,

the throat the killer throttles.

The needle, pill, the cigarette,  and of course the bottles.

Sugar cookies, ice cream cones,

smiley faces, aerodomes.

With each life take, each baseball hurled

another circle round the world.



Blue sky high above.

Quite bright sun glowing high up.

Birds’ shadows darting

across the ground.   Dark, smooth like

stones skipping across the water.


And the sweater:

0111161555a  Some assembly required.   5 skeins of golden brown, two of white,  100% wool, and so old that the labels are just ‘ounces of worsted’, with no yardage.    Roughly estimating 150 yards per skein,  that gives me just over a thousand yards,   enough for a small sweater.   I’m thinking colorwork in the yoke, maybe at the cuffs.



Some thoughts on poetry.

To me, poetry is a very intimate endeavor.  I write to capture images of moments real and imagined, or to exorcise overwhelming emotion.   Very often my inspiration is visual, a happening scene that evokes concepts and ideas which demand utterance.
A poem, thus, is a way of capturing and communicating something, and evoking the emotional character of that something.    The use of language in a poem is evocation,  a summoning of the final place the poet wishes to leave the reader.    Prose, by contrast, is intended to be communicative, to give the reader a clear view and path to the intended destination.   Prose demands an agreement on the nature of meaning, on words meaning what they say, on orderly progression through the writing.     Poetry, by contrast, uses the meanings of words and the progression of lines as a kind of backlighting, a way of illuminating rather than describing.

A Tale of Two Wheels

I saw in the old antique mall two histories

Two old spinning wheels, the same in birth and form.

So differently polished by time that the light of each

illuminated the other.

I haven’t been able to identify a specific model,  but I’m fairly certain it’s an old Kromski  –  they looked like a cross between the Polonaise and the Symphony,  and had that distinctive sliding mother of all that Kromski’s do.  They also had direct drive setups – the flyer and bobbin all in one solid piece,  which I’ve never seen before.

It was really fascinating to be able to see both of these wheels at once, and compare the different conditions they were in.     One was very little used,  but damaged in some pretty serious ‘no more spinning for you’ ways – most notable a broken off flyer arm.   The kinds of damages that come of not being used and being carelessly stored.

The other was extremely worn,  and had a number of obvious repairs,  but was still in excellent working order –  it just needed a new drive band.   I turned the wheel by hand, and it spun as smoothly as if freshly oiled.


A poem written on the back of a checkbook register in a moment of despair.

I got my reading done young.

a mind filled with the corpses of books
I read as a child.
Edward Abbey, who am I now?
Robert Pirsig speeds away, Cosette’s hair streaming behind the bike.
Ayn Rand buildings shimmer in the distance
and I learn of lust and idealism
among mingled dreams of cave bears and architects.

I don’t remember Raskolnikov,
but I still drink lapsang souchong tea
echoes of the summer I read Michener because I’d never seen a book
about a place I’d been before.

All these old ghosts rattle their chains at me tonight.
Who am I now, Edward Abbey?

9/11 – On Today.

Do not expect poetry here, cunningly crafted words catching images and feelings well. This is still awkward and raw for me to write – to think – about. I’ve tried. If the power of what is my mind could be said in words, it would be too awful to read.

I remember it was such a beautiful day – unusually beautiful for Toledo, Ohio, which normally even at its best is drab and smoggy. But it was clear and the sky was blue, and the sun was bright through the living room windows.

My daughter was just past a year old, playing and babbling about the house. She’d slept through the night. My husband was at work – the first day at his first nursing job. He’d just graduated in June and passed his boards earlier that summer. MCO – it was MCO then, not MUO. A level 1 trauma center.

I had house work to do, and was puttering around doing it, listening to NPR. I had to ring our insurance agent about disability insurance, since with the new job we’d be able to afford it. I remember thinking “What’s her problem?” when his secretary answered the phone and sounded so so strange. She put me on hold, and it wasn’t the hold music – it was a news broadcast. NPR was still playing their normal morning program, so it must have been very early.

It took me a few minutes to realize what the news broad cast was saying, and what it meant. Planes in New York crashing into buildings. I hung up on the insurance agent. NPR was still just the normal morning programming.

I remember picking up my daughter, my baby, and walking with her. Just walking back and forth across the tiny living room of our one bedroom apartment. Turning on the computer to try and find some news to read — I’d never looked at news online before that day. I’ve read CNN online every day since.

Not much later my husband called from work. He didn’t want me to listen to the radio, read the news — he wanted to protect my normalcy for a while longer, but it was already too late. He told me he might not be coming home. MCO was a level one trauma center, and they had gone on full alert and staffing, ready to receive a possible influx of patients from New York. People were still estimating that tens of thousands were involved, would die, would be rescued, would need medical care. People were being called in from days off, from vacations, non critical patients were being discharged to other hospitals.

By the end of the day though the towers had come down, and there were frighteningly few injured people drifting into NYC hospitals. MCO went off their full alert, and let people go home though everyone was warned to stay available. I remember thinking for a split second how good it was that there were so few injuries, before realizing that it didn’t mean people were safe. It meant people were dead.

I remember not knowing where my father was. He lives abroad, but he worked for Eastman Kodak then, and they had a group that he worked with in the South Tower. And I knew he was the US that day, though I wasn’t sure where. I wouldn’t know for about three days, until he finally got in touch with my sister in Rhode Island and let her know he was fine, and she let us know. He had been in California, and it hadn’t occured to him we wouldn’t know, that we would worry. He’d been in NYC a few days earlier.

I remember the taxi driver. It was about one that afternoon – I’d talked with my husband, checked the news, listened to the radio. The Bee had nursed, napped, fussed. She wanted to be down and playing, I wanted to hold her and never let her go. So I called a taxi to take me to my mothers house, where there was more space, different toys, a television for watching the news. Eventually there would be my mother and brother.

The taxi driver knew. I knew. And we didn’t talk about it. Not a word. He commented that normally he had the radio on, apologized for not having music. I mentioned the weather, what a pretty day it was, and how clear the sky. We both noticed that there were no other cars to be seen. He complimented the baby. I thanked him. I mentioned I was going to my mother’s house. He asked what she did. “A teacher. Grade school.” Then we were there.

I remember the sky, that day and in the days afterwards. Such a blue. So clear, so empty. A sky owned by the birds and the clouds and the sun. I remember that the only time I cried was thinking about that sky – about how I was seeing a sky that had never been in my life, and might never be again, and about how that rare gift was borne out of this thing, this attack. This horror.

And I remember this – not from that day, but from later, the first night of the first attack against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Before we went to the wrong war for the wrong reasons. I remember watched the lights of rockets over Kabul (we were at a retirement party for a friend), and being filled with a fierce and terrible joy at going to war.

Those two things I remember. The sky owned by birds, and that fierce terrible joy.


bumped for 2009.  I move this post up every year,  and will do so until I have the voice and heart to write a new one.    For now,  I can say it no better then I first said in 2006.