Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nest cam update

All three eggs have hatched, and the little ones are doing well -  they are already bigger than they are in this photo.   I continue to watch, fascinated.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Couplets Blog Post Tour continues

(photos of some of the WOM-POs -womens poetry list serv group - at the AWP in 2011.)

This has been a wonderful project all through National Poetry Month! I'm so glad I was part of it.

This link lists the stops on the tour for this week just ending:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me
when I'm sixty-four?                             ( Beatles song)

John Lennon never made it to sixty-four, but here I am, today. 

How did this happen?

I can still remember five:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another nest cam report

Things improved for the red-tails.  Still cold up there ( 34 and blustery) but snow is gone, and baby has survived. Two more to hatch.

Photo from Cornell:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Crazy Weather

Is it really the end of April?   Cold and rainy here, but four inches of snow at Cornell University in Ithaca, where I, and about 6,000 other people, am ( are?) anxiously watching the nest cam of the red-tailed hawks.  Newly hatched eggs, and the female hunkered down over them on the snowy nest.
Thirty-one degrees.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Couplets Blog Tour for National Poetry Month

Carol Berg interviewed me on her blog  for National Poetry Month.  The interview is posted today.

Visit Carol's blog at:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Distractions and Procrastination

I should be either writing poems or grading papers.

Instead, I am indulging my addiction to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology live-stream nest cam of the Red-tailed Hawk couple and their soon to hatch eggs:

When I'm not staring at the hawks, I am surfing the web to try to see if Ellen Bryant Voigt is doing any summer poetry workshops, and if she is, can I afford to go to one.  Can't find any.  I am still waiting to hear from the MacDowell Colony, if I got one of their residencies  --- I have just about given up on that. Sigh.

I will try to wrench myself away now, and get down to business.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

National Poetry Month - Couplets

In the April 14th Couplets blog tour,Elizabeth Barrette is hosting me on her blog The Wordsmith's Forge
I wrote a very short essay about the poetry of Kate Daniels and Jane Hirschfield.

Visit Elizabeth's blog and enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2012

National Poetry Month - Draft Thirteen

photo from

Intensity of Fragrance

Lily of the Valley,
Mock Orange.
Incense of Spring,
Nothing in all the world of summer
Smells like you.
Too heady for me to keep
n my bedroom,
You clot the air with sweetness.
I will dream of bees.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

National Poetry Month - Fragment for today

This is all I can manage.  I'm aiming for a villanelle, eventually.

George Frederick Watts   Hope   1885

Hope strums her harp and sits astride the world;
  the kerchief keeps her, catlike, blind, alert -
around the spring-gold ball her knees are curled.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

National Poetry Month: two more drafts

#10  Fanny Denlinger Kauffman

My mother’s mother died from
In 1922
Two weeks after she birthed
My uncles
At home.
Delirious, tossing in the bed,
Then dead,
Stiff like marble
When they lifted my
Seven year old mother up
To kiss her goodbye.

Toxic response to infection
Raging from
A bed full of childbirth,
 A barely noticed cut.
Blood gone bad
Coursing poison through the body
Poisoned muscles screaming pain
Poisoned heart slowing down
Worse than arsenic,
Body turned against itself
Still , we can't stop it.

 ( photo from Google Images)


Waiting for the Grosbeak

Grosbeak -  teutonic lumpy word
For gorgeous bird,
But the adjectives redeem
Blue Grosbeak,
Evening Grosbeak,
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.
Rose-Breast, each day now I wait for you
To meander by my window
On your way north
Before the Beebalm blooms.
I keep my feeder full
Of Sunflower seeds, your favorite,
Hoping I am home
When you appear.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

National Poetry Month - Poem #9

I'm still one day behind...

( photo from Audubon Magazine)

( photo from

At Fort Clifton Park, Colonial Heights Virginia

We walked the boardwalk through the little swamp
almost at twilight
almost at closing time
for the nature preserve.
In the quiet
 flash of buttery yellow
and the Prothonotary Warbler
three feet in front of us
on a crusty branch,
to feed her flapping fledgling.
Unmindful of us
paralyzed with joy
to see her
so close
so close.

( photo by David Lindsey)

Monday, April 9, 2012

National Poetry Month Poem #8

at five o'clock Easter afternoon, my friend Maureen, creator of this watercolor, died.

Wheelbarrow dumped
Hay, Wild Strawberry, Bishops Weed,
New Crabgrass,
Make way for my friend Maureen
newly planted in

Saturday, April 7, 2012

National Poetry Month - catching up

Here are seven poems for the first seven days of April. Actually, they are shabby drafts that will, hopefully, someday become poems:

Nest Cam
( photo from Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

It’s 38 degrees and blustery
on the campus at Cornell.
On top of a light post in the parking lot,
the red-tailed hawk broods
over her nest of three eggs.

Her mate spells her every several hours.

Fluffed up, looking smaller and younger
than she is, she also looks calm but alert.
Traffic doesn’t bother her, nor the lights
in the partking lot.
Brisk winds tousle her gorgeous feathers.
She turns her head to the sound
of car alarms and crows.
Some recently added evergreen spriggs
add color to the brown stick nest.
 From her brown and white dappled feathers.
the red tail sticks out sharply, stiff and rusty.

#2  Turtlephobia

I know someone who fears turtles,
The tiny ones, green quarters, I used to buy at Woolworths
and nurture in my childhood,
the shy brilliant box ones,
making their way across Route 40,
the snapping ones
sunning themselves in the ponds
at Blackwater.

She thinks they are snakes under cover.
Their plodding unnerves her –
might be plotting.

She, who plows through life like a bulldozer,
unmindful of her own shell,
huffing, watchful,
on the defense.

#3   The Blue Flowers of April
The blue flowers of April
showed up three weeks early this year,
 starry stems of Ajuga,
 bells of grape hyacinth,
thumbnails and thibles of creeping phlox.

Even the blue butterfly, fragile
and penny sized.

 Virginia Bluebells with their
tumblers of Spring.

#4   As the darkness clears away

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
Melody of minor notes and
Haunting incense,
Mysteries in the morning
As the color returns to the world.

#5   Camera Obscura

Chamber of darkness
 little known room,
Mysterious, remote,
secluded, cryptic
but able to capture an image
and project it
onto paper
or onto an oval table
in the center of a dark room.
Large ones
resided in domed sheds,
the viewers inside,
who saw a remarkably accurate –
 but slightly darker –
 reflection of whatever its pinprick of light
with an almost imperceptible
 double image.



Weird and funny
Waves of sound
Gathered like invisible cobwebs
By the hand of a deft musician
of physics.
Therein lies the pheromone,
The vitamin,
The ermine
of music.


Holy Saturday

“He will revive us after two days;
 on the third day he will raise us up,
 to live in his presence.
 Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD;
 as certain as the dawn is his coming…”  1 Hos 6:1-6

If Macrina could argue Gregory out of his grief,
All the while softpedaling her own whistled breath,
So can I calm my sister with my hand on her sharklike shoulderblades
Sharpened by cancer.

There’s a land of mild and homey
,not milk and honey,
Waiting for us across the lake.
Where every garment rolled in blood
Will turn to grass stains and pollen powder.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Celia Lisset Alvarez

The website  Upper Rubber Boot Books URB is hosting "Couplets - a multi-author poetry blog tour" for National Poetry Month. 

Today I am hosting Celia Lisset Alvarez, a wonderful poet from Miami Florida.

Her blog location is:

Her post for  my blog is  "Poetry of the Urban Pastoral"  :

Poetry of the Urban Pastoral

Having lived all my life in urban Miami, I often feel at odds with the majority of poets, who continue to find inspiration in pastoral themes and landscapes that I can only imagine. How does one know the names of the flowers that grow in the back yard, the names of trees and birds, the sound of silence, if the back yard is paved in concrete and separated from a busy street by an aluminum fence?

It might be odd to think of Miami as an unnatural landscape; after all, isn’t it a tropical paradise? Down here, don’t we all roll out of our hammocks and into the ocean, and spend our days sipping mojitos on the sand? If one thinks of Miami apart from the beach at all, it’s only to imagine pastel-colored Art Deco hotels lined up against the sand like sharps and flats on a keyboard. In reality, however, Miami-Dade County is a vast urban and suburban sprawl where the majority of spaces are crowded and paved. The beaches and certain other oases, like Coral Gables or Coconut Grove, do little to mitigate the overwhelming traffic jams of the Palmetto Expressway or the cemented front lawns of Hialeah.

Where’s my Tintern Abbey? Such a landscape changes one’s approach to poetry. I don’t often write poems that I feel can be described as “contemplative,” since contemplation is a mode I seldom experience. The poems of the city are not necessarily what one would call antipastoral, either, since when one does find openings to the natural world it’s difficult not to sentimentalize them. I prefer the term “urban pastoral,” a way of finding meaning in the urban spaces that surround us.

Sunset at Antonio Maceo Park, in the heart of Miami.

Here is a wonderful example of the urban pastoral from Miami poet Campbell McGrath, an excerpt from “Nights on Planet Earth”:

Sometimes, not often but repeatedly, the past invades my dreams in the form of a
familiar neighborhood I can no longer locate,
a warren of streets lined with dark caf├ęs and unforgettable bars,
a place where I can sing by heart every song on every jukebox,
a city that feels the way the skin of an octopus looks pulse-changing from color to color,
laminar and fluid and electric,
a city of shadow-draped churches, of busses on dim avenues, or riverlights, or
canyonlands, but always a city, and wonderful, and lost.
Sometimes it resembles Amsterdam, students from the ballet school like fanciful
gazelles shooting pool in pink tights and soft, shapeless sweaters,
or Madrid at 4AM, arguing the 18th Brumaire with angry Marxists, or Manhattan
when the snowfall crowns every trash-can king of its Bowery stoop,
or Chicago, or Dublin, or some ideal city of the imagination, as in a movie you can
neither remember entirely nor completely forget,
barracuda-faced men drinking sake like yakuza in a Harukami novel, women sipping
champagne or arrack, the rattle of beaded curtains in the back,
the necklaces of Christmas lights reflected in raindrops on windows, the taste of
peanuts and their shells crushed to powder underfoot,
always real, always elusive, always a city, and wonderful, and lost. All night I wander
                    alone, searching in vain for the irretrievable.

Here you see the city landscapes imbued with possibilities, much as natural landscapes are in the pastoral tradition. Though he doesn’t mention Miami in this poem, one can see here the poetry that emerges from a life in citiesMcGrath has lived in Chicago and Washington D.C. as well as in Miami.

In my own writing, I don’t necessarily always find the redemptive qualities of this city, nor do I idealize it the ways other do. Yes, it is a tropical paradise, a multicultural capital. But it is also poor and dirty, congested and contested. Nevertheless, it defines us in both positive and negative ways. I drive through Hialeah, Miami’s sister city, often, on my way to work in Miami Gardens or to visit my in-laws. Some days the drive is depressing:

All day long the traffic groans
like a birthing woman,
all day long and all night, too.

This is the city that never sleeps,
that works all day. 

The old men, too tired to stand or sit,
wait on their haunches
for the liquor store to open.

In a few hours they turn into beer bottles
             girdled in brown paper bags, scratched-off

lotto tickets, spit thick as bird shit.

They go back to the dog track,
to Mango Hill, to their daughter’s houses. 

The women sigh like bus brakes.
There are no girls in Hialeah.

The factories stack up like cardboard boxes.
All day long they make uniforms and
artificial hips.
                                       Every corner has a clinic,
a convenience store, a gas station, a fast-food pit.

At other times, however, these very details can be seen another way, and the city’s industry becomes a testament to its motto, “La cuidad que progresa”the city that progresses.

No part of the natural world exists in isolation. Though we should try desperately to preserve those placeslike the Florida Evergladesthat should remain undisturbed, those of us who live in urban areas need not feel as if we are closed off from them. Florida has had to pay for its reputation as The Sunshine State with overcrowded beaches and sea-grass parking lots. Even sleepy Sarasota, home of my childhood summers, now features an hour-

                                                                                                photo:  Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida

long wait on Midnight Pass Road to get to Siesta Beach on weekends. We can be like the egrets, and enjoy the patch of grass, or we can plant an umbrella near the water, and claim a patch of sand. Preferably, a little of both.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

National Poetry Month

It's here... and I'm not ready for it.  I have three poems in process... but they are not yet ready to post.

I resolve to work on them this afternoon....

In the meantime, Spring marches on.  My lilies of the valley are almost ready to bloom: