Saturday, November 19, 2011

new publications

I have two poems in this issue:

Blue-Winged Teal

Small dabbling duck,
wallow in freshwater,
mince your steps on the sticky fronds
of April,
rest your blue bill on your speckled chest
like a dignified dowager
looking down her nose.

Fashionable in your touches of sapphire
on breast and wings,
your color is more blue than
what the paint store calls teal,
something more moody than
more matte than satin.


The Cat and the Fireworks

At the first volley of fireworks,
unseen except for flashes
of lightening like light,
the calico cat sprang to alert.
leapt to the windowsill,
retreated under the bed,
then emerged and sprang to the
top of the bureau.
A low growl rumbled from
her belly-
a sound I never heard her make before.
Deep, rolling growl
sound radiating through fur
as she watched from
her patrol post
for the duration of the fireworks.
She became the cat in someone’s bedroom
in London,
on the first night of the Blitz.
She became the cat distracted from catching rats in the church
in Dresden,
as the planes rained down fire and boulders.

She became the cat cowering in the doorway
in Baghdad,
When the Americans bombed Saddam
back to his bunker.

All the cats
in all the arrowstruck, cannonstruck
cities down the centuries,
interrupted, startled,
terrified, growling deep,
feral, innocent,
instincts bristling.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Our House

Picture a building four stories high and miles long – seven wings. Four wings in a square with a central courtyard. Branching off the four wings, three more. A Wing through F Wing.
The Facebook Page for "Provincial House Transformation" posts this description:

“St. Joseph’s Provincial House, a 360,000 square foot building, was completed in 1965. The house was originally designed as the chapel and headquarters of the Daughters of Charity. Since then, the chapel has become a minor basilica dedicated to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and to where she has been laid to rest, St. Catherine’s Nursing Center leases an area of the house to provide nursing care and rehabilitation to lay people, and the Daughters of Charity elderly and infirmed sisters have moved in from Baltimore to live in the house (St. Vincent’s Care Center for nursing care, and Villa St. Michael for assisted living). In the meantime, the provincial house has remained the headquarters of the Daughters during the entire time.”
Here's a photo from the early '60s, when it was under construction:

At that time, one wing was for the seventy plus novices ( we call novices “seminary sisters”. Another  wing was for the seventy-plus postulants.In another wing were 60 plus retreat rooms for the sisters who came back for retreats in the summer.  In other wings lived the 40 plus semi-retired "Provincial House Sisters" and in another, the 5 sisters who ran the Province. 
To get more of an idea of how the uses of this enormous building have changed, I've drawn a few sketches. If you click on each, you will see the whole sketch, and can read the information.
Here it is in 1965:

Here's how it was in 1978, when I entered:

here it is today:

Here's how it will be in another two years:

I live in one small room on the second floor of "E Wing"  The noise of drills and hammers and asbestos removal and reconstruction is loud in most of the halls and wings.
This is a needed change, but it's still hard to live through.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New poem published today!

Here's the poem -  it appears in the Autumn 2011 edition of the Seminary Ridge Review:

Vineyard Stories

One son was invited and he said yes
and he did not come.
the other one said no
and regretted it
and came.
Was that the same son
who was killed by all those
tenant farmers?
Were those farmers
the ones
who worked all day
and got the same pay
as the ones who came
at the last horn’s blow?
Did all this happen
in the same vineyard
that glistens in the evening sun
where the lovely macramé of
green strings
reaches out
for the anchoring pole?
Grapes are heavy in the
September air.
Here is a place for
the liar and the rash.
Here is time to say no
and change your mind.
Here, also,
the jealous
and the killer.
Here, harvest.