Poem in Your Pocket Day — Emily and I

Emily and I

Together in her drafty attic
we write our letters to the world.
Her lamp sputters, the light poor.

In the frame of her window the sun’s last spreads over
Amherst’s houses.

She let me in when I bragged I was nobody
and now sends me downstairs
to scrounge more paper –
envelopes, she insists – envelopes.

I creep down the creaky stairs.
Try to silence the swinging kitchen door.

Everyone’s out but her pipe-smoking father
who won’t spend a penny on paper.
He doesn’t see my hand lift the wooden box
where he tosses the trash.

I sift out all the envelopes.
Take them up to Emily
and our fevered unfolding begins.

How she cringes when I make the tiniest tear.
This part takes time – the careful unhinging,
the smoothing.

She hands me a pen, an ink pot.
We go to work.

What I’ll remember most
is her shadow on the wall –
her hand, and the pen large, swift,

and her hair — not pulled tight,
but down, free — almost, I would say,
wild.

–Pamela Porter (from her book of poems “Likely Stories,” published 2019).

Poet and novelist, Ms. Porter was born in New Mexico and eventually emigrated to Canada.  She lives with her family in British Columbia and a menagerie of rescued horses, dogs and cats.

~ Earth Day, April 22, 2021 ~

To a Hummingbird

Now here, now there;
        E’er posed somewhere
In sensuous air.
         I only hear, I cannot see
The matchless wings that beareth thee.
         Are thou some frenzied poet’s thought;
That God embodied and forgot?

by Alexander Posey (1873-1908) (from: Song of the Oktahutche: Collected Poems)

Muscogee Creek poet, journalist, and humorist, Alexander Posey lived in what is now Oklahoma.  Born into a bicultural and bilingual family whose home was the Muscogee Nation, Posey was the son of an Irish-Scottish father and Creek mother.  He benefited from having a formal education, beginning in his adolescence, and grew up appreciating both Native American and Euro-American traditions.  In Posey’s poetry, the influence of the English and American romantics blends well with the Native American respect for nature, a belief in the wholistic relationship of all things and not imposing a division between the material and the spiritual.

Poet, William Archila

Immigrating to Los Angeles in 1980 at age 12 from El Salvador, a country torn by civil war, William Archila began the process of learning English and acclimating, along with his family, to living in the U.S.  Jumping ahead to his adult years, Archila attends college, becomes a high school English teacher in L.A., and eventually earns his MFA in poetry.  He has published two collections of award winning poetry: The Art of Exile (2009) and The Gravedigger’s Archaeology (2015).

Childhood

When it comes, my father’s presence
is behind the weight of a country
I’ve lost, like I’ve lost him, on his way out
over the hill, flooring his decrepit wagon,
exhaust pipe exhausted, which brings
me to bed, to the sleep of a sunken log
at the river’s bottom, and my father is in it,
like some huge bear wavering through
the thickest depths, all the while, I keep
my eye on the light shimmering the surface,
wanting to come up for air, but I don’t
want to forsake this absent god
tired in the pale grass. He’s been leaving for so long
it almost seems natural, his aimless driving,
his aimless thinking. Outside, a helicopter
that may or may not allow me to continue
keeps announcing its presence,
clambering out of the rain clouds.
It’s so frustrating, knowing all I have to do
is turn off the light to occupy the dark.

This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2018.

Self-Portrait with Crow

As I punch the time-clock, I know
men will be gunned down at dawn
in a distant continent, someone
will dart into a café with a bomb nestled

in the belly, by the roadside a woman
will moan over the body of a man,
shrunken, stretched on the earth, that God
will finger the forehead of a dying country,

all of it funneled through the news on TV.
But tonight, instead of tuning in, I’m going to kneel
beside the window, recognize myself
in the croak of the crow, high above the black tree

of winter, claws hooked and rough, wings swept
back and hunched, face masked with exhaust.
I’m going to try, even if I fail, to see myself whole,
complete in the cry, in the beak of the crow.

From The Art of Exile (2009).

Sonia Sanchez, woman poet

Poem No. 12

When i am woman, then I shall be wife of your eyes

When I am woman, then I shall receive the sun

When I am woman, then I shall be shy with pain

When I am woman, then shall my laughter stop the wind

When I am woman, then I shall swallow the earth

When I am woman, then I shall give birth to myself

When I am woman, ay-y-y, ay-y-y, ay-y-y,

When I am woman…

From:  homegirls & handgrenades (1984) by Sonia Sanchez

4 haiku
(for Nubia)

1.
Telephone wires sang
her voice over
soft sister laughter

2.
you held us
with summer stained
smiles of hope

3.
I hold your
breath today…you sail home
across the ocean

4.
I see you Nubia
walking your Mississippi walk
God in your hands.

Duende

1.
My hands
abandon me
to bloodletting

2.
my breasts
are dancing in
silver

3.
my feet
are crying
blues

4.
my thighs
sing the flesh
off the guitar

5.
my breath
is indecent as
my teeth

6.
aaaaaahhhhhhh
yeyeyeyeyeye
I am still standing…

From: Morning Haiku (2010) by Sonia Sanchez

Poet, activist, and educator Sonia Sanchez (born 1935) is one of the writers comprising the Black Arts Movement in the U.S. that began in the late 1960s. Talented and outspoken, Sanchez wrote and published poetry, short stories and scholarly articles while simultaneously helping to carve a place for African American studies within colleges and universities.  Initially it was San Francisco State University, where Ms. Sanchez taught from 1966 to 1969, who responded to the need within academia for Black studies.  Later, in 1977, she was hired by Temple University in Philadelphia where she wrote, published and taught until her retirement from teaching in 1999. 

In subsequent years, Ms. Sanchez has continued to write, publish and give readings.  As a mother and a feminist, Ms. Sanchez has spoken out fervently about the struggles minority women experience in a world where their rights are often suppressed.  She, also, acknowledges how women, likewise, are moved to delve deeply into both passion and pain.

Snow moon

Snow moon [print by photographer, Darren Fisher]

The path is hidden
by snow,
invisible,
but thoughts of you
lead me onward.

–Ryokan Taigu (1758 – 1831)

Christmas Greetings & Andy Warhol

American artist and pop art pioneer Andy Warhol, before emerging as an iconoclastic artist in the 1960s, worked in the 1950s and early ’60s as a commercial illustrator in NYC.  Designing window displays for various department stores and providing illustrations for fashion magazines, it was for Christmas 1956 that Warhol was hired by Tiffany & Co.  to begin designing this store’s Christmas cards.  This Warhol-Tiffany collaboration was to continue for seven years.

This little-known aspect of Andy Warhol’s career is, fortunately, captured in the 2004 book entitled Greetings from Andy (Warhol): Christmas at Tiffany’s.  Compiled by John Loring who worked for 25 years as a design director at Tiffany’s, this book contains selections of Warhol’s Christmas holiday illustrations that are both whimsical and festive.  Also dispersed within the book are some anecdotes from people who knew Warhol as well as excerpts from his own diaries.

Ornamental Christmas Tree, 1960
Madonna and Child, 1950s
Sleigh with Gifts, 1959
Merry Christmas Shoe, 1957

Angel, 1957
Reindeer (from Wild Raspberries: [A Book] by Andy Warhol and Suzie Frankfurt), 1959
Christmas Card Design for Tiffany & Co., 1950s
Star of Wonder, 1960

Travels with Charley…60 years on

Sixty years ago this 2020 autumn, American author John Steinbeck took a cross-country trip with his French poodle, Charley.  Outfitting a small truck with a cabin/camper on top, Steinbeck left Sag Harbor, Long Island, and made his way across the U.S. to the West Coast, eventually ending up back in New York City 11 weeks later.  This road odyssey Steinbeck describes in his memoir Travels with Charley: In Search of America.

Initially, I first read Steinbeck’s memoir in the late 1990s.  It made me want to duplicate at that time, nearly 40 years later, a similar road trip. 

The United States in 1960 was more modernized than ever before and Steinbeck, at age 58, was able to document how life in America had changed from the America he remembered growing up. In some ways, however, he was very much of product of that era of the late 1950s/early 1960s as he marveled at such things as the emergence of mobile homes and trailer parks, believing these were the wave of the future for “restless” Americans.  In other instances, Steinbeck documents what has continued to be a problem in many cities where traffic and too many cars clog the streets. 

While much of the book is Steinbeck’s own observations, he would sometimes stop at diners and luncheonettes, sharing conversations with other customers, asking about their background and eliciting their opinions. In other instances, he would park his truck/camper along the side of a road or in a clearing and meet people who were similarly on the road. 

It is October 2020, and I’ve just now finished re-reading at this 60-year mark Travels with Charley: In Search of America.  It’s also a Presidential election time and very different than what Steinbeck encountered in 1960 where people did not often talk or share their opinions about either of the then candidates, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.  Sadly, however, with other societal concerns, what I’ve found is that in autumn 1960 unresolved racial issues were also foremost in many people’s minds, similar to the situation in the U.S. all these years later.    

Earlier in 2020, during this 60-year anniversary, a teacher/author/playwright named Bryan Starchman, living and working in northern California, decided to take a cross- country trip in the spirit of John Steinbeck’s 1960 road excursion.  Starchman, after procuring a 6 month leave of absence from his job, planned to travel to 50 states in 120 days.  With the blessing of the National Steinbeck Center (a museum and non-profit organization located John Steinbeck’s hometown of Salinas, CA), Starchman, also, created a blog of his travels that can be accessed on the National Steinbeck Center website.

To find out about Bryan Starchman’s plans, where he traveled and how Covid-19 affected his goal to see America, here is a link: https://www.steinbeck.org/2019/09/18/travelblog/

If I Had a Hammer

“Hammering Man” Seoul, South Korea
{by sculptor, Jonathan Borofsky)

Jonathan Borofsky (1942-) is an American artist/sculptor who is known for his conceptual art pieces and his public art installations.  One of his more well-known pieces is “Hammering Man” that can be viewed in various sizes/dimensions in several locations (both in the U.S. and abroad).

Borofsky’s largest “Hammering Man” piece is in downtown Seoul in South Korea.  This sculpture, made out of steel, is 72 feet high, weighs 50 tons and was created in 2002.  Also known as a kinetic sculpture, this “Hammering Man” piece, every minute and 17 seconds, features a movement of the hammer.

The largest “Hammering Man” sculpture in the United States is in Seattle and stands in front of the Seattle Arts Museum. This sculpture, created in 1991, is 48 feet tall and weighs 26,000 pounds.  Moving 4 times per minute, 20 hours a day, this sculpture does rest each morning between 1:00 – 5:00 am.  Additionally, every year on Labor Day, the arm on this Seattle Hammering Man sculpture, also, rests.

“Hammering Man,” Seattle, Washington
(by sculptor, Jonathan Borofsky)

Home page / Archives

This blog does not contain a “home page” and its “archives” listing isn’t topical — instead the “archives” are organized according to month and year and appear in a listing as you scroll down the web page.

As a method of expression, this blog is meant to be more free form.  In the “About” section its intent is described based upon my interests.

For a list of blogged topics you can scroll to the “Categories” listing that can be found when you scroll down the web page also.

I hope this helps as I haven’t found a way to actually create an “archives” by topic.

“Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”

Singer/songwriter pianist Nina Simone singing Bob Dylan’s song “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” — from her album “To Love Somebody” (released: 1969)