Lynda Barry — hello again

This week I ran into an old friend, Lynda Barry, at least it felt that way, however I’ve never
actually met this woman.  For some time in the mid-1980s to early 1990s I knew this writer/illustrator from her comic strip “Ernie Pook’s Comeek” that was published in the back pages of a free local weekly alternative newspaper located in the city where I was living.  Barry’s unique sensibility seemed to capture the minds and hearts of my peer group at a time when venturing further and further into adulthood and its responsibilities we found there weren’t many reliable guideposts to lead us.  Lynda Barry helped soothe in an odd way somehow our adult laments.

Before this recent encounter with Lynda Barry I had a few years ago worked with children in a library and purchased Ms. Barry’s book “What It Is” with the hope that an interested child would find this book inspiring.  The day a boy chose it from among the other art and illustration books in the children’s collection I was secretly happy both for him and its creator.

Now, this week, I saw in the Sunday New York Times Book Review (7/31/2016), filling an entire page, a Lynda Barry comic strip has appeared.  “When Heidi Met Carrie: Scenes from the Book I Needed When I was 12” is something you hoped this friend would create (and she has done so without your knowing you need this).  It’s good to see you again, Lynda Barry!

MarlysAdviceonLife                      PoodleWithaMohawkLyndaBarry



A video clip of “America” from the musical film version of “West Side Story” – music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.  The Broadway production of this musical was first performed in 1957, and the movie was released in 1961.  This musical about the Sharks and the Jets, rival gangs in NYC, is based upon the play “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare.

More Soundtracks…”Aloha”

The film “Aloha” was released in 2015, and before its release evidently this film was riddled with controversy.  Criticism initially stemmed from what is regarded as insensitive casting choices, and then in the wake of Sony studio’s hacked email communications, it was revealed that some studio executives believed the film was a mistake and the studio would lose money.

I saw “Aloha” on DVD the other night – it isn’t a great film, and in my opinion some of the plot lacks plausibility.  The chemistry among the actors was believable, however, and that kept my interest.

What “Aloha” does have is a cavalcade of good music ranging from traditional Hawaiian songs to selections by David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Hall & Oates, Eddie Vedder & his seven-year-old daughter, Harper, and more.  Given that the writer/director, Cameron Crowe is a former editor/writer for Rolling Stone Magazine, and Crowe’s other movies have similarly memorable musical moments, the abundance of music in “Aloha” is not all that surprising.

“Heart is a Drum” by Beck Hansen is a song in the film that captured me.

Two poems

Afternoon Sleep


I was descending from the mountains of sleep.

Asleep I had gazed east over a sunny field,

And sat on the running board of an old Model A.

I awoke happy, for I had dreamt of my wife,

And the loneliness hiding in grass and weeds

That lies near a man over thirty, and suddenly enters.


When Joe Sjolie grew tired, he sold his farm,

Even his bachelor rocker, and did not come back.

He left his dog behind in the cob shed.

The dog refused to take food from strangers.


I drove out to that farm when I awoke;

Alone on a hill, sheltered by trees.

The matted grass lay around the house.

When I climbed the porch, the door was open.

Inside were old abandoned books,

And instructions to Norwegian immigrants.

–Robert Bly, American poet, translator and editor, born 1926 (poem is from an early book of his poems,  Silence in the Snowy Fields, pub. 1962).  Bly was designated the first Poet Laureate of Minnesota, holding that position from 2008-2011.

Night and Sleep

At the time of night-prayer, as the sun slides down,
the route the senses walk on closes, the route to the invisible opens.

The angel of sleep then gathers and drives along the spirits;
just as the mountain keeper gathers his sheep on a slope.

And what amazing sights he offers to the descending sheep!
Cities with sparkling streets, hyacinth gardens, emerald pastures!

The spirit sees astounding beings, turtles turned to men,
men turned to angels, when sleep erases the banal.

I think one could say the spirit goes back to its old home;
it no longer remembers where it lives, and loses its fatigue.

It carries around in life so many griefs and loads
and trembles under their weight; they are gone; it is all well.

–Rumi (Jalal ad-din Muḥammad Rumi, 1207 – 1273), Persian poet & mystic – translated by Robert Bly

SilenceintheSnowyFieldsRobertBlyBookofPoems1962           RobertBlyPoetIllustration           ReadingRumiRobertBly&NaomiShihabNye


Honoring the trees today (Arbor Day, April 29, 2016)


More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous
tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another.  A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,
mitochondria, figs–all this resinous, unretractable earth.

–Jane Hirshfield, American poet, born 1953


What did the tree learn from the earth to be able to talk with the sky?
~ Pablo Neruda


He who plants a tree
Plants a hope.
~ Lucy Larcom


Earth, Earth, Earth Day ~ April 22, 2016


Morning Song

Day breaks open artlessly

across a field of switchgrass tossing

wild and easy in the windswell.

The weedy fastness gives way to a widening

brim of eastlight blazing the mist.

Spring is the dangerous season, awakening

this bee-crazed meadow to overgrowing—

and in me awe, and ache, avid to begin

like birds and the earth all over.

— Don Colburn, poet and journalist


For more about Don Colburn go to:



William Stafford


Poet William Stafford (1914-1993) was born and raised in the American Midwest (Kansas) and in his adult life lived in the American West (Oregon).  Reflecting an awareness of where he lived, his first book of poetry is entitled West of Your City (1960). Stafford’s mode of language is considered, for the most part, straightforward and his poems readable.

It was only recently that I was introduced to Stafford and his work.  To critics and those knowledgeable about literary culture, he has the distinction of being one of the more widely known poets in the U.S., having had his poems appear over the years in popular magazines (Reader’s Digest, for example).  While Stafford often focuses on nature and this is why it is believed his poems are considered accessible, his imagination and mystical views also give his work a deeper context.

 Climbing Along the River

Willows never forget how it feels
to be young.

Do you remember where you came from?
Gravel remembers.

Even the upper end of the river
Believes in the ocean.

Exactly at midnight
Yesterday signs away.

What I believe is,
All animals have one soul.

Over the land they love
They crisscross forever.

— William Stafford (from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems, 1998)

Simple Talk

Spilling themselves in the sun bluebirds

wing-mention their names all day.  If everything

told so clear a life, maybe the sky would

come, maybe heaven; maybe appearance and

truth would be the same.  Maybe whatever seems

to be so, we should speak so from our souls,

never afraid, “Light” when it comes,

“Dark” when it goes away.

–William Stafford (An Oregon Message, 1987)




A Sense of Place…the Lone Star State

First Saturday Morning: Beaumont, Texas                                            

On oyster shell and palm tree lanes,
our new neighbors’ trailers, humpbacked

mildew-streaked beached wanderers,
surround ours, muddy with road-splash.

Sunlight bright on ocean air, mid-morning,
country music blares through screen doors.

Mama, in pink curlers, hums along,
sets terra-cotta pots of peppermint

carnations on our trailer hitch.
Daddy with long-handled scrub brush

hoses down the roof.  From above,
his footsteps’ hollow thrum,

swish, splash of brush and water.
My sister rides bikes with her new friend,

singing her way toward seesaw and swings.
In the space between friends,

I sit in black walnut tree shade,
bark scratching through my shirt,

drone of heavy-winged bee, black-striped
yellow fur against blue hydrangea,

damp earth cool brown, smooth
under saw-toothed leaves, remember

last Saturday’s desert-dust front yard,
my best friend’s laughter out her kitchen window,

West Texas sunset-streaked sky, turquoise,
one silver star rising from evening’s deep horizon.

–Sharon Darrow, American poet & author


April is here and this man in the suit is a poet…


Not Ideas About the Thing
But the Thing Itself

At the earliest ending of winter,
In March, a scrawny cry from outside
Seemed like a sound in his mind.

He knew that he heard it,
A bird’s cry, at daylight or before,
In the early March wind.

The sun was rising at six,
No longer a battered panache above snow . . .
It would have been outside.

It was not from the vast ventriloquism
Of sleep’s faded papier-mache . . .
The sun was coming from outside.

That scrawny cry—it was
A chorister whose c preceded the choir.
It was part of the colossal sun,

Surrounded by its choral rings,
Still far away. It was like
A new knowledge of reality.

–Wallace Stevens, American poet (1879 – 1955) from “The Collected Poems” (published 1954)


A love poem

A Zorro Man

in the wombed room
silk purple drapes
flash a light as subtle
as your hands before
in the covered lens
I catch a
clitoral image of
your general inhabitation
long and like a
late dawn in winter
this clean mirror
traps me unwilling
in a gone time
when I was love
and you were booted and brave
and trembling for me.
--Maya Angelou, African American woman poet (1928 - 2014) from her first volume of 
poetry, “Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie” (1971)