Saturday, December 24, 2016

Feeding Cracked Corn

More snow overnight, of the kind that sticks to the trunks of trees.
My American Wigeons are back and this morning (feed me!)
I had three pairs! Too many mallards to count and 
this years record group of 
American Wood Duck.

I just looked up wigeons and found that 80% 
of their diet is grass leaves. 
But as grass is now covered in snow, they will
eagerly gobble my cracked corn.
The males have a white stripe on the head
that runs back from the bill. You can see part of it
on the two males in this photo,
but it would show more clearly if they were facing you.
As a result of this stripe, they used to be called
Bald Pates, and some hunters still use this term.

Christmas Eve morning
in the fresh snow
ducks wait to be fed


Friday, December 23, 2016

The Fragile Edge of a Leaf

When we were building the place at the edge of the wood
near the Tip of the Mitt in Michigan, 
I was the person who did
most of the interfacing with the architect/contractor,
Dick Kappler. This picture, 
which I took of a blown leaf there, 
reminds me of him in two ways. 
When he was building the porches
(which are a very special part of living there--
the bridge to the woods.)
he made a big point of using cedar wood. 
He also pointed out to me that he used screws,
rather than nails, because of their superior holding power
over time. When I took this photo, 
it was the blown leaf--the hole, the tattered edge--
I noticed. Only later, did I think of the experience
of building that house.     jhh

Harvesting the Attic

3.     Made things

Here's the hula dancer I made.
Here's Santa Claus.
Here's May-baskets. Here's
new crepe paper, and a spool
thing that one runs it through to make
the rushes of the hula skirt.

Here are parts of linen pin-wheels
Grandma made, sitting
in the bay window in the sun,
the sun on her shoulder,
and the heating pad, to help
the sun, and the small hooded hook
darting from the fat pads of strictured
huge-jointed finger and thumb.
The hook flashes, winks sunbursts,
filigrees venomous pain.

Jean Pedrick                (1922-2006)

Wolf Moon; a book of hours by Jean Pedrick
Alice James Books, 1974, page 50.

Jean Pedrick is another gift from my poet/librarian friend, Pat Shelley (1911-1997) who I have mentioned frequently in this blog-- and whom I have thought of even more often. Another friend and I acquired Pat's poetry books, and a brown envelope with three Pedrick chapbooks was part of my share. It was only last year that I read these small books and was stunned by their power. 

Then I got others, including this one, through the used book market.
Jean Pedrick was a founding member of Alice James books, an important group that was formed to publish books by women. I knew about this group, but hadn't know her work. I'll be putting other poems by her into this Memory Thread.

This poem is a section of a longer one about the attic, including the mouse life that was part of that space. I chose this section partly because of the Santa Claus, and partly for the grandmother. My brother Robert talked to me about our father's mother--he got to know her on a long visit after I had left home--and the small braided rugs she made.

And all of this is an example of why I call this blog The Memory Thread. It was that same brother who wrote me--as he was dying from cancer--that the memories he was writing came to him easily--he got hold of a little piece of "string" and kept pulling and the memories came easily.  jhh

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas comes on a sleigh

Snow on the bank where the Great Blue Heron stood in summer, searching, 
like Ungerer's Three Robbers, for victims.
It is cold again this year, as it was during this earlier winter,
on the backs of the Little Union Canal..
Yesterday there were many more ducks in the water than this;
how do they stay warm???  jhh


In my country, there is no one 
who had never been photographed.
Being shot in the face is a way of life.
Frying is not so bad as losing
a photograph of the fried one.
If you spot an egg dying on the sidewalk
you are free to take its picture.
Some prefer to place a friend next to it
but who that might be is up to you.
No two people are alike, although they look
exactly the same. Like snowflakes.
My country is a country of snowflakes,
people just pile up to your wonderment
or disgust (whatever you think is OK).
People take a lot of pictures at Christmas.
People place tiny decorated trees on graves.
Snow country, like the novel by Kawabata.
Everyone wants to live here because we have
invisible fences so if a dog leaves the yard
he's snapped right back in.
You can buy garbage bags with the scent of lemons
or wildflowers. Everyone has a choice.
A man was hired to see if spice scented bags
sold well, if the people liked them, and they
did not, so they took them away.
Don't worry if you are thinking
you'd like something different for your children,
for your own unique little snowflakes,
because we have wonderful schooling in privacy
where a child must stare at a glass of milk
three hours, or until its surroundings grow dark,
whichever comes first.
And children are encouraged to draw, 
always to draw. Christmas comes on a sleigh.
They get their first camera in a pouch.
The wet polaroid slips into their hand,
a memory from the moment of birth.
Another face is born.
My country grows on the deep freeze door
and my country grows in the snowy night.
But no two countries are alike.

Mary Ruefle

Post Meridian, Carnegie Mellon University Press, 
Pittsburgh, PA, 2000, pages 56-57.

I find nothing in my life that I can’t find more of in books. 
With the exception of walking on the beach, in the snowy woods, and swimming underwater. That is one of the saddest journal entries I ever made when I was young. --Mary Ruefle

Someone Reading a Book 
Is a Sign of Order in the World: 
Mary Ruefle

Someone writing a poem that just moves along
and moves along, and moves along,
is a sign of the magic of language,
and of the discovery of interesting sound and meaning
in unlikely juxtapositions. 
June Hopper Hymas

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Loud music, not yours

Quick! The sun's going down 
at 5:04 p.m. this very day!
Turn the porch light on
for our return.


Solitude unchosen, the drone of it rising to a buzz. That poet
you hate, his dead tune on a bad instrument. Hungover, the
terrible fork glancing the excruciating plate and--that same
morning--the frisson of corduroy, your own, as you walk.
Loud music, not yours; somebody else's good time. the or-
atory of an enemy. The cacophony of someone asking for 
love. Another remark after the argument's been conceded, or
the story's over. Your stupid, habitual politeness when the
telemarketer calls. The restrained ha-ha when only a belly
laugh will honor the moment. Any complaint, even the gen-
tlest, from a person incapable of praise. Someone you know
you'll not see again---the dull click of an unslammed door.

Stephen Dunn

Riffs and Reciprocities; prose poems, Stephen Dunn,
W. W. Norton, 1998, page 61.

These poems are paired on facing pages. 
The companion of this one is titled Music. 
 It would be fun to start to work in pairs like this, another task. 
Some of his other pairings: Bedroom/Kitchen,
Money/Indulgence, Reflection/Shadow.

There arre many more types of pairings 

than just opposites; 
one could make almost anything work. . . 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How soon the night falls

Before the snow came, 
there was this tender rim of cloud 
along the horizon.
Just the other day.

World's End

At the world's end
on worn-out ground
the one talks of the flowers
adorning Argonne china
in their red pigment is mixed
the gold of old Dutch ducats
dissolved in aqua regia.
How soon the night falls
the other answers
time goes so fast
in this empty country.

Jean Follain         (1903-1971)
Translated from the French by W.S. Merwin

Transparency of the World; Jean Follain
selected and translated by W. S. Merwin,
Copper Canyon Press, 2003, page 81.

In this uncertain time, when so many of the things 
I have cared about seem under threat, I find 
that the work of this poet, who lived 
in other uncertain times, 
captures a feeling-tone 
very similar to the one 
I have today.  jhh

Monday, December 19, 2016

Where the bird sang

Last night's early sunset. Only a glimpse, 5:32 p.m.


A child is born
in a vast landscape
half a century later
he is simply a dead soldier
and that was the man 
whom one saw appear
and set down on the ground a whole
heavy sack of apples
two or three of which rolled
a sound among the sounds of a world
where the bird sang
on the stone of the door-sill.

Jean Follain       (1903-1971)
              Translated from the French by W.S. Merwin

Transparency of the World; Jean Follain
selected and translated by W. S. Merwin, 
Copper Canyon Press, 2003, page 81.

W. S. Merwin has made a number of splendid translations 
from several languages, They are very worth seeking out.


The recent election, which now threatens 
most of what I have believed in and worked for 
since I became a thinking person,
has made me see more clearly 
the value of these apples and birds. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Nothing that is not there...

The hips on this Rugosa rose at the fence line are most beautiful 
tipped with the recent snows.
Tonight the temperature here is supposed to go down to 5 degrees F.

The Snow Man was one of Pat Shelley's favorite poems. 
Pat was my poetry and librarian friend 
who died in late 1997. 
I'm still missing her and remembering things 
we talked about, 
and many things she said.


One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Wallace Stevens

Stevens: Collected Poetry & Prose,
Library of America, 1997, page 8.

When Lee-Young Lee gave a poetry reading in San Jose 
many years ago, he was carrying only some papers 
and a well-worn copy of Wallace Stevens' poems. 
Since Lee's poems are so good, it's a good hint 
for what you might spend some time on.