Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Morning Reading: "What They Ate"



"What They Ate"
~Campbell McGrath

All manner of fowl and wild game: venison, raccoon, opossum,
           turkey.
Abundant fishes, excepting salmon, which was ws. found
            distasteful.
Meat of all sorts, especially pig, which roamed free and was fatty.
Also shellfish: quahogs and foot-long oysters; lobsters,
          though considered wasteful.

Wild fruit: huckle and rasp, blue being known as "skycolored"
           berries.
Parsnips, turnips, carrots, onions: these loosely sorted and rooted
            out;
while these were cultivated in orchards: apples, peaches, apricots,
           cherries.
Cabbage - favored by the Dutch as koolslaa, by the Germans as
           sauerkraut -

was boiled with herbs brought from England: thyme, hyssop,
           marjoram, parsley.
Pumpkin, dried, or mashed with butter, where yams grew
           sparsely.
Corn, with beans as succotash; called samp when milled to grist;
in the South, hulled and broken, as hominy; or fried with bacon
          as grits.
Maple ws. not favored; loaves of white sugar worth considerable
         money
were kept under lock, cut with special sugar shears. For honey,

bees were imported, called "English flies" by the Narragansett.


*

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Morning Reading: "When the stranger asks, Why do you care?"


from Citizen: An American Lyric
- Claudia Rankine



When the stranger asks, Why do you care? you just stand there staring at him. He has just referred to the boisterous teenagers in Starbucks as niggers. Hey, I am standing right here, you responded, not necessarily expecting him to turn to you.


He is holding the lidded paper cup in one hand and a small paper bag in the other. They are just being kids. Come on, no need to get all KKK on them, you say.


Now there you go, he responds.


The people around you have turned away from their screens. The teenagers are on pause. There I go? you ask, feeling irritation begin to rain down. Yes, and something about hearing yourself repeating this stranger’s accusation in a voice usually reserved for your partner makes you smile.


/

A man knocked over her son in the subway. You feel your own body wince. He’s okay, but the son of a bitch kept walking. She says she grabbed the stranger’s arm and told him to apologize: I told him to look at the boy and apologize. And yes, you want it to stop, you want the black child pushed to the ground to be seen, to be helped to his feet and be brushed off, not brushed off  by the person that did not see him, has never seen him, has perhaps never seen anyone who is not a reflection of himself.


The beautiful thing is that a group of men began to stand behind me like a fleet of  bodyguards, she says, like newly found uncles and brothers.


/

The new therapist specializes in trauma counseling. You have only ever spoken on the phone. Her house has a side gate that leads to a back entrance she uses for patients. You walk down a path bordered on both sides with deer grass and rosemary to the gate, which turns out to be locked.


At the front door the bell is a small round disc that you press firmly. When the door finally opens, the woman standing there yells, at the top of her lungs, Get away from my house. What are you doing in my yard?


It’s as if a wounded Doberman pinscher or a German shepherd has gained the power of speech. And though you back up a few steps, you manage to tell her you have an appointment. You have an appointment? she spits back. Then she pauses. Everything pauses. Oh, she says, followed by, oh, yes, that’s right. I am sorry.


I am so sorry, so, so sorry.

/

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Morning Reading: "we wonder how it will be without them"

Galway Kinnell, 1989. (photograph by Barbara Hall.)


September 1961

by Denise Levertov

This is the year the old ones,
the old great ones
leave us alone on the road.

The road leads to the sea.
We have the words in our pockets,
obscure directions. The old ones

have taken away the light of their presence,
we see it moving away over a hill
off to one side.

...


The darkness

twists itself in the wind, the stars
are small, the horizon
ringed with confused urban light-haze.

They have told us
the road leads to the sea,
and given

the language into our hands.
We hear
our footsteps each time a truck

has dazzled past us and gone
leaving us new silence.
One can't reach

the sea on this endless
road to the sea unless
one turns aside at the end, it seems,

follows
the owl that silently glides above it
aslant, back and forth,

and away into deep woods.

But for us the road
unfurls itself, we count the
words in our pockets, we wonder

how it will be without them, we don't
stop walking, we know
there is far to go, sometimes

we think the night wind carries
a smell of the sea...

*

Monday, October 27, 2014

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Morning Reading: "Give us just a few decades of grace, to encourage the fine art of acquiescence and we might save the race"








Pro Femina
 - Carolyn Kizer

ONE
From Sappho to myself, consider the fate of women.
How unwomanly to discuss it! Like a noose or an albatross necktie
The clinical sobriquet hangs us: codpiece coveters.
Never mind these epithets; I myself have collected some honeys.
Juvenal set us apart in denouncing our vices
Which had grown, in part, from having been set apart:
Women abused their spouses, cuckolded them, even plotted
To poison them. Sensing, behind the violence of his manner—
“Think I'm crazy or drunk?”—his emotional stake in us,
As we forgive Strindberg and Nietzsche, we forgive all those
Who cannot forget us. We are hyenas. Yes, we admit it.

While men have politely debated free will, we have howled for it,
Howl still, pacing the centuries, tragedy heroines.
Some who sat quietly in the corner with their embroidery
Were Defarges, stabbing the wool with the names of their ancient
Oppressors, who ruled by the divine right of the male—
I’m impatient of interruptions! I’m aware there were millions
Of mutes for every Saint Joan or sainted Jane Austen,
Who, vague-eyed and acquiescent, worshiped God as a man.
I’m not concerned with those cabbageheads, not truly feminine
But neutered by labor. I mean real women, like you and like me.

Freed in fact, not in custom, lifted from furrow and scullery,
Not obliged, now, to be the pot for the annual chicken,
Have we begun to arrive in time? With our well-known
Respect for life because it hurts so much to come out with it;
Disdainful of “sovereignty,” “national honor;” and other abstractions;
We can say, like the ancient Chinese to successive waves of invaders,
“Relax, and let us absorb you. You can learn temperance
In a more temperate climate.” Give us just a few decades
Of grace, to encourage the fine art of acquiescence
And we might save the race. Meanwhile, observe our creative chaos,
Flux, efflorescence—whatever you care to call it!






*

Carolyn Kizer, Pulitzer-Winning Poet, Dies at 89


*

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Morning Reading: "October arrives"



Ode to a Few Yellow Flowers
- Pablo Neruda

Against the blue shaking its blue,
the sea, and against the sea,
a few yellow flowers.

October arrives.

And although
the developed sea is so important,
its myth, mission, yeast,
the gold
of a single yellow plant
explodes on the sand
and your eyes
are tied
to the ground,
escaping from the magnanimous sea
and its whip,

We are dust, we shall become.

Not air, or fire, or water
but
earth,
we shall be
mere earth
and maybe
a few yellow flowers.


*

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Morning Reading: "The whole wide world pours down"



Assurance
- William Stafford

You will never be alone, you hear so deep
a sound when autumn comes. Yellow
pulls across the hills and thrums,
or the silence after lightening before it says
its names- and then the clouds' wide-mouthed
apologies. You were aimed from birth:
you will never be alone. Rain
will come, a gutter filled, an Amazon,
long aisles- you never heard so deep a sound,
moss on rock, and years. You turn your head-
that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone.
The whole wide world pours down.


*
 
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