Saturday, November 03, 2018

You who are a bird suddenly

This is a picture of my grandson, who is all grown up now. 
I just happened to run across it 
when I was paying for my Flickr account, 
which now belongs (weirdly) to Smugmug
and where I have about 30,000 photographs. 
I fell in love with his innocent expression 
all over again.

Aracelis Girmay


Please raise your hand,
whomever else else of you
has been a child,
lost, in a market
or a mall, without
knowing it at first, following
a stranger, accidentally
thinking he is yours,
your family or parent, even
grabbing for his hands, 
even calling the word
you said then for "Father,"
only to see the face
look strangely down, utterly
foreign, utterly not the one
who loves you, you 
who are a bird suddenly
stunned by the glass partition
of rooms.
                  How far
the world you knew, & tall,
& filled, finally, with strangers.

This is the first poem in a new anthology assembled by the current US Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, entitled American Journal: fifty poems for our time. I will be writing more about her soon; 
I have been very impressed by her work as Poet Laureate 
and by her recent autobiographical work, Ordinary Light.

Both the this poet and the Poet Laureate have good information posted on the Poetry Foundation website.

                      Your task for tonight 
is to write a poem beginning: 
"Please raise your hand..."

Friday, November 02, 2018

Not Nothing To The Crows

This is a picture of my father, Jack Hicks Hopper, 
and his older sister, Mary Lillian Hopper taken, 
I think, at the time of their train journey from Portales, New Mexico 
back to Arkansas where their parents had met and married. 
They went to visit relatives. Just before I died, 
Dad told me a memory of this train journey. 
The porter locked the doors of the restrooms when the train was in a station 
so freeloaders couldn't hide and avoid being asked for a ticket. 
isOnce, the little boy in the picture above happened to be inside 
when the door got locked and he was very frightened! 
More than seventy years later, he told me this story,  
just a few months before he died. 
I heard only a few stories of his early life from my father. 
My mother took up most of the air time...

A new issue of POETRY MAGAZINE came this week. I opened the first page to see if I had heard  of any of the poets. The Table of Contents is in the order of the magazine which follows. And the very first poem is by my friend, Lucia Perillo. I met her in the early 1980s in Bob Hass's poetry seminar at San Jose State. 
Afterwards, she went to Syracuse for a graduate degree
 in writing. I went to her wedding in Olympia, Washington,

Her books are terrific!

She has been dead now for just a little more than two years. She left us October 16, 2016.  At that time I had two unfinished letters to her on my desktop. They are still there. Unfinished, never sent or read. Consider this your wake-up call to finish any unfinished letters-in-progress!  

There is a good article in Wikipedia, which lists her publications and awards, which are plentiful. It is worth your while to get any of her eight books, which are all still available. Mostly books of poems, but also a book of stories and an autobiographical work, much of it concerning her life as a person with multiple sclerosis.

Here is Lucia's poem from Poetry, November, 2018 97, page 97.

                      Say This

I live a small life, barely bigger than a speck,
barely more than a blip on the radar sweep
through it is not nothing, as the garter snake
climbs the rock rose shrub and the squirrel creeps
on bramble thorns. Not nothing to the crows
who heckle from the crowns of the last light's trees
winterstripped of green, except for the boles
that ivy winds each hour round. See, the world is busy
and the world is quick, barely time for a spider
to suck the juice from w hawk moth's head
so it can use the moth a a spindle that it wraps in fiber
while the moth constricts until it's thin as a stick
you might think was nothing, a random bit
caught in a web coming loose from the window frame, in wind.

Lucia Perillo

Finding this poem has triggered me to start blogging again.
I hope to post something every day. See you later!!

Monday, February 05, 2018

House at the edge of the woods

At the right edge of the open snow in his drone photo taken by my grandson, Trey, is out beloved house at the edge of the woods outside Petoskey, Michigan. It has been more than three years since we were able to visit. But my heart is still living there, looking out at whitetail deer, coyotes., wild turkeys, and an occasional  sandhill crane or two, or even three.

I have been throwing away magazines. The January, 2015 issue of Harper's magazine was folded open at an article about Pablo Neruda's grave, which I had planned to read. So I read it. and liked it.  I thought I would tear it out and put it with the book of Neruda's selected poems. The book opened to this poem, Spanish and English on facing pages:


Perhaps this is the house in which I lived
when neither I, nor earth, existed,
when everything was moon, or stone, or shadow,
with the still light unborn.
This stone could then have been
my house, my windows, or my eyes.
This granite rose recalls
something that lives in me, or I in it,
a cave, a universe of dreams inside the skull:
cup or castle, boat or birth.
I touch the rock's tenacious thrust,
its bulwark pounded in the brine
and I know that flaws of mine subsisted here,
wrinkled substances that surfaced
from the depths into my soul,
and stone I was, stone shall be, and for this 
caress this stone which has nor died for me:
it's what I was, and shall be -- the tranquillity
of struggle stretched beyond the brink of time.

Pablo Neruda, translation by Nathaniel Tarn.
Neruda, Selected Poems, Houghton Mifflin, 1970, page 411.

Your task: write about your place on the earth. jhhymas

Friday, January 26, 2018

Marija Says

Today at the YMCA gym, E. introduced himself to us on the basis of the White Beard Connection. We had a long talk about life, and Hungary where he spent half his life, coming here with little English and getting a job as wheelchair/gurney pusher in a hospital. His brother was a high-wire acrobat and went back to Hungary where his line of work was more plentiful.
Thinking about this part of Europe and thus about wars, which have been so plentiful there (wars of which we are now more conscious again in these very peculiar times) reminded me of this powerful poem by Jean Pedrick, one of the founding women of Alice James Books (look it up!) If she were still among us, I think she would have been marching last week.

Marija Says

Grandmother said, they come from the east.oday
on horses. Watch the plain there
for the long cloud, thicker than smoke.
Hide what you can, potatoes, turnips,
anything that will keep, nothing to call
the bees. Then filthen and uglify yourself.
Roll with the swine until you retch, I beg you.

Mother said, they come from the north
like giant insects, beetlebacks on the feet
of millipedes. Whatever obstructs, they mount
and topple.When the ground shakes, when the crows
scatter, do everything she said. The food. The pigs.

They came from the sky. The pig exploded.
I was pasted with it. Even so, grew up, grew old.

Jean Pedrick
Mitteleuropa; poems
Small Poetry Press, Pleasant Hill, CA,1992, page 9.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

One Foot Forward; honey and onion

Just went out for the mail, which was a note from my baby sister
and a book of writing prompts written by Peter Murphy.
 above are last year's ducks, but I hope they are still among
the ones that are here this year.   The life of a duck
often takes place in groups of ducks 
that look very much like each other. 

In yesterday's mail, the book I had ordered by Chana Bloch,
The Moon is Almost Full, Autumn House Press, 2017.
And the first poem in the book reminded me of my blog
and my hopes for this year.

Yom Asal, Yom Basal

                    One day honey, one day onion.   
                                                              --Arabic saying

In every maybe, the fear of yes.
In every promise, a shattered glass.

For every portion a cutting edge.
For every rift a slippery bridge.

In every hope some pickling salt.
In every bungle a touch of guilt.

Unto every plan God's ringing laughter.
Unto every death a morning after.

                              Chana Bloch

The design of this is simply stunning to me! As I examine the structure, I see more and more design. Two line rhyming stanzas, each line in two parts, as is the epigraph. Try to make a structure for your own poem!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Cracking the Corn

Actually, the corn is already cracked; I buy it that way! Since it snowed on Christmas Eve and the following two nights we have some snow cover. But today it is melting fast. You can see the greedy and overpopulated mallards in the foreground, and wood ducks toward the back, with a of American Wigeon in the upper left and one below them cut off by the edge. This picture was taken on Christmas Day. jjhymasfoto

And here we are in the Neglected Blog Zone, working on the fifth post of this year, with one more day to reach my year-end goal of doubling the three posts made earlier. I have missed doing these short essays, and thinking about poetry and the feedback. But it has been quite a nutty year, with a lot of changes. Here comes 2018!

Boise is getting ready for the Big Potato Drop again at midnight tomorrow. But this year, I might not stay up for it. . .

I am now reading the new biography of Henry David Thoreau in paper by Laura Dassow Walls. It is from the University of Chicago and thus a mighty tome to hold. 500 pages of actual text and all the usual notes and equipage besides. It has been a long time since I have worked on such a heavy book. I read many things on Kindle and this year again have been reading much poetry, in lighter volumes.

I came back to Thoreau because of one of the most unexpectadly delightful books I have encountered this year, John McPhee's Survival of the Bark Canoe, which came out in 1982 and has finally answered my question: Which side of the bark is out on a birchbark canoe. I'll write about this book tomorrow, but it led me back to Thoreau and The Maine Woods.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

He has been to Alaska! And back!

I have been thinking about the American Widgeons, like this one, that spend every winter here at our creek outside Boise, Idaho. In spring and summer they go north to breed. Today was the first day they were back! This photo from last year,shows the characteristic "bald pate" or the male's white forehead. In earlier America they were hunted for food and sometimes referred to as "Bald Pates!"  
Now, they come for cracked corn when I open the door!

This week's mail brought me Holiday greetings from my best friend in High School, whose first name is the same as mine: June.
Once again, she has won the Holiday Sweepstakes Award of Honor (no cash prize) for the first holiday greeting to hit my mailbox. I should mention that she also reads this blog. She has noticed that I haven't been posting. I have hardly posted at all this year and I admit that I have missed it. I can easily double the number of posts for 2017 (the two of us graduated in 1953!) before the end of the year and that is my new goal. This one will be Number 5 in 2017! It is funny how easily I was able to fall away. There have been some changes in my life, which I will be mentioning as we go along.

Both my husband any my nephew commented on June's neat, regular, and even handwriting that addressed the envelope. Her script is small, very neat and even and rounded. Although my handwriting has changed since then, hers seems to me to be very like it was when we were making those notebooks for the best Science Teacher ever, Mr. Eugene Van Vranken!

I have been enjoying Dave Bonta's Morning Porch posts on Facebook. I would like to try something similar here. Stay tuned; if I go away, I usually come back. Blogging here since 2006...