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...

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Watching Pat Conroy

Ducks don't need to watch TV. 
Most of the time, I don't either.
This is from a recent winter near the Little Union Canal.

     We had our roof re-shingled a couple of weeks ago. When they took off the Direct TV antenna, we decided to cancel the service, which is expensive and unthrilling. While we are exploring our options I bought an antenna from Amazon for $28. We plugged it in to the TV and can now get a lot of stations. We haven't found Jeopardy yet. but we can watch sort of randomly odd things and some PBS stations. My husband fell asleep in his chair to the soothing voice of Bob Ross yesterday on a channel called CREATE, which has some nice things from the past on it, including old Sara Moulton cooking shows that we used to enjoy. Once we have learned how to use this, we might not get another paid $ervice.

     Noodling around yesterday we found something fantastic to watch. About the time Pat Conroy's book The Death of Santini., was published, he was being interviewed (in front of an appreciative audience) by another Irish-American, Maureen Corrigan of the New York Times.This was aired as part of the PBS series Great Conversations. I am writing this post to insist that you watch it if you have any interest in writing, Irish and Southern characteristics or any of the the books by Pat Conroy or the movies that have been made from them. Or even just if none of these apply to you...

Here's the link:

Pat Conroy has been very special to me ever since I read his early book The Water is Wide about his year teaching children on an island off the coast of South Carolina. Descended from slaves, these children were part of a society that had virtually no contact with the mainland or educated society. Because of his efforts to help them, he was fired after the first year and the school board participated in a conspiracy to get him drafted for service in Vietnam. I bought a copy for the Gilroy Library that I supervised in 1972, and devoured it as soon as it came in.

I had worked during Library School at the Arlington Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, I was an assistant to the children's librarian, Joyce Johnson. Our clientele there was also largely descended from slaves, but not in isolation from the rest of us. This was at the very beginning of publishing works on African American history, especially for children. To meet the demand, we bought the few items in multiple copies. We also pasted photos and articles from Ebony and other publications onto sheets of  gray cardboard, which were labeled, kept in steel filing cabinets and available for check-out in large envelopes. As a result of knowing these children (who often asked to touch MY hair, which was long and straight) I developed a lifelong interest in them and followed and supported attempts tp better the conditions in which they lived. Thus my interest in reading The Water is Wide as soon as it was published. (They made a movie of it called Conrack.)

After watching the interview, I got The Death of Santini on Kindle and read about a third of it last night. I am loving it! But it is really the interview (link above!) that I want you to watch. The level of honest communication is thrilling! Do it. Maybe tonight!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Tanka: a poetic form

Blue Iris by the Little Union Canal.     jhhymas

I am just now reading a Christmas gift of the book of tanka by Mariko Kitakubo. The title is INDIGO, published by Shabda Press in Pasadena, California. No date.

This is a wonderful book, full of intelligent and deep musings in this short five-line form. It also includes the Japanese in both characters and romaji, as well as images by the author and an introduction by Donald Keene.

It is hard to pick just one, but here is one of my favorites.

who is
counting fireflies 
by the Nile?

after the dream
of civilization?

Mariko Kitakubo
page 46.

I am hoping to resume blogging now.  jhhymas