Thursday, February 28, 2019

Now that winter is done with us



On this day last year, I flew to Paris for what was to be the month of a lifetime.  I stayed in our Motherhouse ( of the Daughters of Charity) at 140 rue du bac.  In addition to an eight day international retreat, I spent the other 28 days wandering through the streets of Paris and the art museums and cathedrals, and in the cafes, just generally delighting in it all.  This year I will post some poems and photos which I didn't post last year.

But that starts tomorrow.

Today I continue reading the poems of Gary Blankenburg. His book , Above All Things,arrived two days ago in the mail.
Like me, he is a Septuagenarian.  Like me, he knew Ralph Harper.  Like me, he quotes Saint Augustine -- the very same quotes. 

In most other ways we differ.  However, I am grabbed by his poems.

Here is one that is especially appropriate for this late February day:

Almost Spring

Now that winter is done with us
and bleak February has folded

its terrible gray wings and spring
is verging ---now that the snowbells

have appeared and daffodils
are forcing their way

through the hard earth and will
soon burst -- now will I urge

my dying friend to put his gun away and step with me into the sun

for at least one more time to feel
warmth creep into our bones --

maybe now he will join me for coffee
and cigars on the porch and watch

the birds come to the feeder
and accept the splendor of the seasons

that will unfold forever without us.

by Gary Blankenberg



Whew. 




 
 
Here's who I'm seeing just two feet from me, on my windowsill now:  a Hairy Woodpecker.
Not my photo, but he looks just like this.
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Poets Reading the News



I love this poem by my poet friend John Dunne Smith:

Parable

  in Politics  by 
Who has the king’s ear this morning, good people?
Who has the king’s ear this morning, good friends?
His daughter, her husband and others much like them.
Already at breakfast they’re toasting his health,
Repeating his thoughts, sometimes using the same words,
Saying his wisdom’s as great as his wealth.
Who has the king’s ear this noontide, sad people?
Who has the king’s ear this noontide, sad friends?
A seer who sees enemies all around him,
Plots against borders and nobles and throne.
A word against one spells a menace to all of them
That can be struck down by His Highness alone.
Who has the king’s ear this evening, proud people?
Who has the king’s ear this evening, proud friends?
A soldier who calls for immediate action,
The muzzling of heralds, the jester’s arrest.
Opponents like them have no place in the kingdom.
Their silence, he counsels, is all for the best.
Who has the king’s ear this daybreak, glad people?
Who has the kings’ ear this daybreak, glad friends?
The left was last seen in the mouth of a stray dog.
The right’s on a pike with the rest of his head.
The estates have presented demands to the new king,
Who’s signing a charter that he hasn’t read.

 


J.D. Smith’s fourth collection, The Killing Tree, was published in 2016. His poem “Aleppo Epitaph” previously appeared in Poets Reading the News, and his individual poems have appeared in Dark Mountain, The New Verse News, Terrain and Z√≥calo, and he has received a Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. He works as an editor and writer in Washington, DC, where he lives with his wife Paula Van Lare, their rescue animals and a great deal of trepidation.
 
 
 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

I keep this time sacred

Winter Solstice Stonehenge 2018



Here's a lovely February poem by Alice Meynell:
 

"Rich meanings of the prophet-Spring adorn,
Unseen, this colourless sky of folded showers,
And folded winds; no blossom in the bowers;
A poet's face asleep in this grey morn.
Now in the midst of the old world forlorn
A mystic child is set in these still hours.
I keep this time, even before the flowers,
Sacred to all the young and the unborn."
-  Alice Meynell, In February

 



 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Another Deadly Fall



I just received news that my poet friend, Michael Riley, has died. He was 73. 

A mutual friend told me that Mike suffered a bad fall about two weeks before his death: "He had a fall a few weeks ago and then in quick succession suffered a heart attack and a stroke. He has been on life support since, until …"


Here's part of an interview he gave to Lancaster Online:

“It's difficult to make a good poem," he says. "Ninety-six point five percent of the time is revision…. Good poetry is difficult."
To explain what prompted him to write a book of poetry on faith, Riley refers to the late Catholic poet Josephine Jacobsen, an American who died in 2003 at the age 94, who had three mystical experiences as a child.
"She found the urge to write poems came from the same place," Riley says. "You have to do it. If you deal with words, you have to use them."
Riley sometimes envies photographers, painters and musicians, who can skip the words and go straight to the feelings.
"With words, you're navigating through meanings that have accumulated over hundreds and hundreds of years. It's the pull of mystery and awe that you're trying to reach."
Riley refers to John Carey, an American who trained in Celtic studies and wrote about "the full extravagant strangeness of existence" that captures poets.
“They can't get away as well as other people can," Riley explains. "When cooking eggs or walking the dog, it's always there — the strangeness, the awe that faith shares with poetry."
Faith and poetry also share a sense of giftedness, Riley says.
“By this I mean not that you have a gift but it's a gift that is given to you, like faith is a gift. Often writers and artists who are not particularly religious feel swept into art. Often it feels you've only helped to create it. It's a feeling that something has taken hold of you. It's given. You haven't just done it.
"People ask me how I do it. I say, 'I don't know. I just do it.'"


Here is one of his poems from his book  Circling the Stones:

Sacrifice

Great Stone Circle, Lough Gir

I carry my wounded heart from wonder
to wonder. Steer its swollen chanbers
and irregular red waterfall

into one Druid priest's best chance
for eternity. It rises in its wet dance
with the moon, bones of granite circling

his upraised prize. Here in god's ribs
the left chamber that won't dip
water into wine

trips with surrender
midnight's flat pulse, wears
 all flesh from the shriven soul.


 
A bad fall precipited Mike's death.
 
About Falls: I have posted this before. It is an excerpt from an article by Jeremy Faust in Salon from November 2016.  I found it very helpful! 
 

“…  as our population continues to live longer and longer, falls are becoming the great plague of the modern era. They are the leading cause of accidental death in the elderly, and the incidence has increased steadily over the past decade. And, usually, they are not an easy way to go—many cause prolonged discomfort.
 

"Still, we don’t think of falls as being that serious. Consider the following two scenarios. In the first, you learn that your mother has just been diagnosed with cancer. Regardless of its stage, this news is likely to be met with tremendous distress by both patients and their families. People spring into action. Treatment plans are made. Financial houses are put in order. Wills are written. Advanced-care directives are considered. Old grudges are forgiven. In the second scenario, you are told that your mother has been admitted to the hospital after a fall. Obviously, you are worried. But, you may think, at least she’s not dying or anything.

 

"All too often, this is the wrong reaction. The one-year mortality for patients who are admitted to the hospital after a fall is a staggering 33 percent. A fall bad enough to warrant hospital admission can carry as poor a prognosis as some stage IV cancers that have metastasized to the lungs and brain. Of course, the people who are hospitalized after a fall are much more likely to have a higher mortality rate anyway. (They’re going to be older, and have more comorbid medical conditions, but falls still pose a bigger risk than other conditions.) By comparison, the one-year mortality for older patients admitted to the hospital for pneumonia hovers around 21 percent

 

 

"Sure, heart and lung disease and cancer are statistically more likely to kill you. If you live long enough, these most certainly will catch up with you, though often after a long, slow, and steady decline. In fact, by the time we get to be the age at which falls are risky, the other things will likely already have done much of the damage they’re going to do. Most middle-age and older people likely already have heart disease that poses little immediate threat to them. In one study, 73 percent of subjects who died from noncardiac causes (and who had no prior symptoms of cardiac disease) were found to have significant coronary artery disease on autopsy. Their clogged arteries didn’t contribute to their deaths. Most of us effortlessly live with some degree of age-related heart disease and for a great many of us, it poses no unusual risk.

 

 

"But when it comes to ruining a life overnight, there’s nothing like a bad fall. Nothing takes a perfectly healthy functioning older person and renders them immediately, and often irrevocably, miserable and incapacitated like a serious fall. (Well, maybe car accidents—but statistically, more older people are going to suffer from falls than car accidents. In fact, it’s not even close.) Falls not only pose a higher risk of death, they’re also immediately and catastrophically debilitating. If I were 80, I’d pick certain cancers or heart disease over a significant fall in a heartbeat.
 

"Why are falls so dangerous? There are short- and long-term risks. In the short term, falls that involve trauma to the head can cause life-threatening intracranial bleeding. Broken bones have their own risk, including lung embolisms in which tiny fragments of broken bone make their way into our circulation and reach the lung, causing impressive and often life-threatening damage. But falls that cause broken hips and legs can cause death and disability even well after the acute phase. Blood clots to the lung are more likely in the months after surgery or prolonged periods of immobilization. People who become more sedentary are more likely to develop a host of other problems, including heart and lung disease.

 
"A fall bad enough to warrant hospital admission can carry as poor a prognosis as some stage IV cancers. "

 

 

 
 

 
 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

the far fields melt my heart





Enough of politics and the troubling situation of the United States.

Here's a poem by Sylvia Plath:


Sheep in Fog

 

"The hills step off into whiteness.
People or stars
Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.

The train leaves a line of breath.
O slow
Horse the colour of rust,

Hooves, dolorous bells ----
All morning the
Morning has been blackening,

A flower left out.
My bones hold a stillness, the far
Fields melt my heart.

They threaten
To let me through to a heaven
Starless and fatherless, a dark water."


-  Sylvia Plath, Sheep in Fog


 



 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Brits on Trump




 
 
 
Stolen from a friend of a friend of a friend.
The best description of Trump I have ever read, from a Brit:
 
Someone on Quora asked "Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?"
Nate White, an articulate and witty writer from England wrote this magnificent response.
 
"A few things spring to mind.
 
Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.
 
For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace - all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.
 
So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.
 
Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing - not once, ever.
 
I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility - for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.
 
But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is - his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.
 
Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.
 
And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults - he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.
 
There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.
 
Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.
 
Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.
 
And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.
 
Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.
 
He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.
 
He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.
 
And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.
 
That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.
 
There are unspoken rules to this stuff - the Queensberry rules of basic decency - and he breaks them all. He punches downwards - which a gentleman should, would, could never do - and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless - and he kicks them when they are down.
 
So the fact that a significant minority - perhaps a third - of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think 'Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:
* Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
* You don't need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.
 
This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.
 
After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.
 
God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.
 
He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.
 
In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws - he would make a Trump.
 
And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:
 
'My God… what… have… I… created?
If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Healing Up

I remember fifty or so years ago when President Lyndon Johnson had gall bladder surgery and he showed reporters his scar!   Mine is a bit lower, but it's a big one down the center, with seventeen staples!  

The surgery went so well- better than I imagined it would.  The pain management was a wonder of modern medicine. 



 I was attached to a small black purse which contained some kind of anesthetic which  pumped automatically and directly into the incision site by a device called  an Elastomeric pump.  you heard   It was only on for five days, and then I  could take it off myself.  I am also on an oral narcotic called Tramadol.    So my pain has been minimal, and I believe that helps tremendously with the healing of the surgical site, though it takes two or three months for the whole thing - inside and out- to heal.
 
Anyway, I should be back to blogging again from now on.
 
 



Monday, February 11, 2019

They are Still There

In the Dark Dark Woods      by Robert Sanker


I love this haunting poem by Matthew Buckley Smith:



The Dark Woods, by Matthew Buckley Smith
 
 
They are still there, the dark woods from the dream,
While everything they symbolize is gone,
While the wireless speakers unwind their tidy theme,
And the tiki torches stutter on the lawn,
While the dishwasher rattles dishes left in the sink,
And the dog worries his tiny rubber man,
And the blinking clocks aren’t certain what to think,
And the fruit fly circles back to where it began,
And the interest keeps the credit cards awake,
Collecting in a server states apart,
And the siren cries out for a stranger’s sake,
And the smartphone mutes its obsolescent heart,
While the box fan turns a bedroomful of breath,
And the network brings the software up to date,
And the skim milk dies a timely, painless death,
And the woods, the woods you’ve dreamed about, they wait
.

 

 

Dark Woods   by Graham Keith

 

 

 

 

 





Sunday, February 10, 2019

Opened soil, dark trees, dry bedroom air

February Crow Moon  Shawnee Tribe by Ethel Vrana




Here's a poem  by Thomas Kinsella:


Mirror in February
                             
The day dawns, with scent of must and rain,
Of opened soil, dark trees, dry bedroom air.
Under the fading lamp, half dressed - my brain
Idling on some compulsive fantasy -
I towel my shaven jaw and stop, and stare,
Riveted by a dark exhausted eye,
A dry downturning mouth.

It seems again that it is time to learn,
In this untiring, crumbling place of growth
To which, for the time being, I return.
Now plainly in the mirror of my soul
I read that I have looked my last on youth
And little more; for they are not made whole
That reach the age of Christ.

Below my window the wakening trees,
Hacked clean for better bearing, stand defaced
Suffering their brute necessities;
And how should the flesh not quail, that span for span
Is mutilated more? In slow distaste
I fold my towel with what grace I can,
Not young, and not renewable, but man.




Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Time for Home


Breakfast of the Birds     Gabriele Munter


Here are two very different views of February:



"February is a suitable month for dying.  Everything around is dead, the trees black and frozen so that the appearance of green shoots two months hence seems preposterous, the ground hard and cold, the snow dirty, the winter hateful, hanging on too long."
-  Anna Quindlen, One True Thing
 
Picasso      Cassagemas in his coffin
 


"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home." 
-  Edith Sitwell



Matt Chinian      Studio Fire with Ollie


Friday, February 8, 2019

Alicia Stallings and refugees

Last evening I went to Baltimore to hear Alicia Stallings read her poems and talk about the refugee situation in Greece.  She lives in Greece with her husband and children.
I have known Alicia for probably 15 years from the West Chester Poetry Conference meetings. So glad to hear her again on one of her infrequent trips to the US.
 
Here is one of her poems as well as her comments about the poem.
 
 
 
 Photographer John Psaropoulos about this picture: "The poet in a Skyrian cap handing out crayons and drawing pads to refugee children is Alicia E Stallings. This takes place at the Peiraieus passenger terminal at gate E1, which the port authority has handed over to Peiraieus Solidarity, a citizens' movement co-founded during the crisis by Sotiris Alexopoulos to help destitute Greeks. The network has repurposed itself to help refugees as well, and serves as a partner and organiser for many volunteers."


Empathy

My love, I’m grateful tonight
Our listing bed isn’t a raft
Precariously adrift
As we dodge the coast-guard light,

And clasp hold of a girl and a boy.
I’m glad that we didn’t wake
Our kids in the thin hours, to take
Not a thing, not a favorite toy,

And we didn’t hand over our cash
To one of the smuggling rackets,
That we didn’t buy cheap lifejackets
No better than bright orange trash

And less buoyant. I’m glad that the dark
Above us, is not deeply twinned
Beneath us, and moiled with wind,
And we don’t scan the sky for a mark,

Any mark, that demarcates a shore
As the dinghy starts taking on water.
I’m glad that our six-year old daughter,
Who can’t swim, is a foot off the floor

In the bottom bunk, and our son
With his broken arm’s high and dry,
That the ceiling is not seeping sky,
With our journey but hardly begun.

Empathy isn’t generous,
It’s selfish. It’s not being nice
To say I would pay any price
Not to be those who’d die to be us.



First appeared in Literary Matters, here. Copyright 2006 by A. E. Stallings. All rights reserved. Ms. Stallings’s most recent book, Olives (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press 2012) can be ordered here.


Alicia wrote these comments about her poem for Literary Matters:

"I am trying to remember exactly when I wrote this—it seems to have been published in September of 2015 but must have been written in the summer. My son did indeed have a broken arm, and my daughter was a six-year old who was fearless on the beach but with little in the way of swimming skills. The civil war in Syria was starting to become more visible in Athens—there had been a number of people, mainly families camped and protesting in the main square, Syntagma, until the police whisked them off one night. My husband is a journalist and had gone on Coast Guard patrols in the Eastern Aegean as these flimsy dinghies started coming in greater numbers. He had interviewed people who had been in the water for hours. (In one case, a woman had managed to save a baby, but not another child, who slipped her grasp.) That famous photo of the drowned toddler (Alan Kurdi) was shared widely in September of that year, but that was only one image, and this poem would have been written before that, I believe. Local news and social media sites often showed images of the drowned—kids my own kids’ ages, in similar clothes.
By January of 2016, an average of ten people a day were drowning—again, often children, with one day seeing thirty-nine deaths. And of course not everyone was even found or declared missing. That was after this poem was written, but this sense that children were drowning in the same water we swam in haunted me all summer, the sense of the Aegean as dangerous and full of death as well as wine-dark or Santorini blue, and that the same element that caressed my children pulled others under. I had dreams about making that crossing. It was maybe that heightened sense of vigilance and danger you just have as a parent of young children, the way you can’t avoid reading terrible news stories about mishaps and accidents.
But I did not want to write from the point of view of people undergoing this—that felt false to me; in a way I felt it was unimaginable and I wanted to keep that sense—and I wanted to engage with the very difficulty of writing about it. Empathy is derived from the Greek, of course, but it has almost the opposite meaning in Modern Greek to its English denotation—to feel in or towards someone and thus perhaps to feel against them. (The English word is itself a relatively recent coinage, with a pseudo-Greek lineage out of the German translation—before that, I suppose we had only “sympathy”—to feel or suffer “with” someone.) The poem was written relatively quickly, and I wanted to make sure in revision not to smooth the rough edges, the odd off-rhyme or rhythmic off-kilterness. I don’t normally end a poem so flatly, on such a bald statement, but I wanted that gambit here. And I wanted the poem to be published and distributed quickly—it spoke to the moment—which was why I was very glad it was taken by the (then-new) online magazine, Literary Matters."



Thursday, February 7, 2019

Accident Prone

not me!



I am not accident prone. No broken bones for the first 63 years of my life, until I fell down some wet concrete stairs at school in 2011.

However, I have lived with many sisters who had many falls; I mean, many falls each. 

As my sisters and college classmates and I have reached our seventieth year, we've had more and more incidents of falling.  I actually wrote a blog about this a few years ago.


Anyway, here's a poem from my book  How the Hand Behaves:






   Accident Prone

 

 

See the teeth of grinning Fate.

See the ax before it falls.

The mischance wins the throw,

and she falls,

flattened by her haste,

her  inattention.

Over and over again

she lies down before the unexpected ,

undesirable event,

mischance, contingency.

 

Like a vole in the field lying open

to the swooping hawk,

she’s always surprised by the talons of the accidents.

 

Waves of the Atlantic knock her down,

 break her collar bone. Next, she

Falls off the bike, leg with splinter of bone protruding .Next,she

Falls on the icy playground, wrist bolted back together.

Through the years,

Falls on the church steps, funeral parlor entrance, front stoop,

Finally a blood clot to the brain from a fall in the bathtub,

And she’s safe.

 

 

 

not me!
 



 

 

 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

It's only polite to clap


Here is Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, offering applause to the President of the United States after he delivers the traditional State of the Union message in Congress last night.

People are having a lot of fun commenting on her clap.  Contemptuous  and condescending, I think.

I agree.  This man is a danger to our country.

Steve Benen of MSNBC writes:  
"The early months of Donald Trump’s presidency featured constant turmoil in the White House. On a near-daily basis, Americans were confronted with reports of chaos, in-fighting, distrust, and behind-the-scenes leaks intended to boost one faction over another..."
  Now that Chief of Staff John Kelly has come and gone, the chaos and impulsive decision-making is back.

I hold myself back from saying any more.

I am praying for his resignation.


Dreaming of Spring






On this sunny morning.  I know the snow will follow.

This time next week I will be having surgery. 

Here's a poem from my book  How the Hand Behaves:




 Garden gloves huddled

 

in a paper bag hanging on a hook

by the window where the ice clotted

bare branches quiver

and the sun sends their gnarled shadows on the snow below.

 

Garden gloves clean, soft, bleachy perfume,

stained brown and green,

some holy fingers clutch each other

while they wait.

 

 


 

 

 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Dandelion thoughts




I believe I have written before about my admiration for Jennifer Heath's book The Echoing Green: The Garden in Myth and Memory. For me it is a goldmine of information and inspiration.

She begins with November, and moves through the winter. On Friday I began to read her chapter on February. She calls February a Liminal Month, the seasonal gate between winter and spring.

The temperatures are fluctuating wildly here, from very low last week to almost sixty today.

I love what she observes about dandelions:
"Dandelion is the Flower of Brigit, bearnan Bride, little notched of Bride. Its uses range far beyond its reputation as a weed. … The dente de lion - lion's tooth, the white, incisor-like taproot - has been used by herbalists for centuries to treat diabetes, cure anemia... Blowing on the dandelion seed head fulfills wishes, tells the time, calls spirits, or answers questions about the future."



I loved Ray Bradbury's novel  Dandelion Wine when I read it years ago...  I remember the line
"Dandelion Wine for dreaming". Have never tasted it, but remember hearing that my Irish grandmother used to make it.



Monday, February 4, 2019

Time to eat fat and watch hockey


February Moon   by Betty Albert


"The word February is believed to have derived from the name 'Februa' taken from the Roman 'Festival of Purification'.  The root 'februo' meaning to 'I purify by sacrifice'.  As part of the seasonal calendar February is the time of the 'Ice Moon' according to Pagan beliefs, and the period described as the 'Moon of the Dark Red Calf' by Black Elk.  February has also been known as 'Sprout-kale' by the Anglo-Saxons in relation to the time the kale and cabbage was edible."
Mystical WWW


February Full Moon over Wasatch Front  by Jeffrey Favero

 

even though it's not late February, this observation applies today:



"Late February, and the air's so balmy snowdrops and crocuses might be fooled into early blooming. Then, the inevitable blizzard will come, blighting our harbingers of spring, and the numbed yards will go back undercover.  In Florida, it's strawberry season— shortcake, waffles, berries and cream will be penciled on the coffeeshop menus."
-  Gail Mazur, The Idea of Florida During a Winter Thaw

Cardinal   by Alex Grey




I love this poem by Margaret Atwood:

February
                                            
 
                                            
Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.

Margaret Atwood, “February” from Morning in the Burned House. Copyright © 1995 by Margaret Atwood. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.