Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Stick to the Square

On the way to spend several days with the Grandchildren in Quincy,
I took a couple of hundred fromthecar iPhone shots
but this time was the first time I used the square format 
and I quite like the results, but I won't be able to work with them
until I get back to a better Internet
and have no grandchildren to play with.

It was a beautiful day with spectacular clouds and
the traffic was not as bad as expected.
A win all round.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Juxtaposition of Swan

Too tired to post tonight, but I have always loved this photo of swans
that I took from a boat ride with my daughter and grandson
on the Indian Rived in Northern Michigan.
I must look up and see how many Indian Rivers thread our maps!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Berween the under and the upper blue

I have been missing the ocean ever since I left it--one week ago.
It was a glorious day, glorious!


Between the under and the upper blue
All day the seagulls climb and swerve and soar,
Arc intersecting arc, curve over curve.

And you may watch them weaving a long time
And never see their pattern twice the same
And never see their pattern once imperfect

Take any moment they are in the air.
If you could change them, if you had the power,
How would you place them, other than they are?

What we have labored all our lives to have
And failed, these birds effortlessly achieve:
Freedom that flows in form and still is free.

Robert Francis

Collected Poems: 1936-1976, 
University of Massachusetts Press, 1976, page 161.

Last night's poem by Robert Bly has only twelve lines also,
but in four-line stanzas instead of three-line ones. It is interesting to compare the two poems in terms of structure and tight construction.
What do you see??

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Snows of Yesteryear

After a snowfall five years ago, I stood on the porch to look at my blue shadow,
to see the beauty of the snowy woods and to think about what it meant to be spending 
the winter in Michigan for the first time, since we built by the woods in 1994.
We were staying to have my husband's sudden onslaught of atrial fibrillation 
reversed in early January. All turned out well,since it was reversed and has never returned.
They stop the heart and start it again--that was just slightly scary!
For a long time the mark of the paddle that delivered electricity 
could be seen in a red mark on his back.
The shadow on the snow really was this blue, I didn't enhance it.
The trees in the back of the house are mostly young aspens,
which grow in clusters and form lovely dancing patterns 
with their groups of graceful trunks.


This new snow seems to speak of virgins
With frail clothes made of gold,
Just as the old snow shall whisper
of concierges in France.

The new dawn sings of beaches
Dazzling as sugar and clean as the clouds of Greece,
Just as the exhausted dusk shall sing
Of the waves on the western shore.

This new strength whispers of the darkness of death,
Of the frail skiff lost in the giant cave,
Just as in the boat nearing death you sang
of feathers and white snow;

Robert Bly   (December 23, 1926--  )

Silence in the Snowy Fields, Wesleyan Poetry Series, 1962,   Kindle page 16.

I'll give you three guesses as to why I thought of looking into this book, which I have loved for many years,to go with this photo. The Wallace Stevens part is a little more tricky: many years ago, Li Young Lee read from his poems in San Jose. He was carrying, in addition to his book and manuscripts, a battered copy of the poems of Wallace Stevens. Before that time, I had been sort of repelled by the difficulty I had in understanding Stevens' poetry (that Cigar, that Snowman, that Blue Guitar, that Jar in Tennessee!) but since that time, I have read and considered it more and perhaps we will even have one on this blog soon! There is some pretty great stuff there!

Last week I was making up a bundle of magazines to recycle, when I found an old literary journal with the title of an article "Understanding Wallace Stevens" on the cover. So I saved that one and brought is downstairs to read. My first two tries failed, or I was interrupted, but here it still sits on my coffee table.

As for the Bly poem, I have two quibbles. There is really no reason to use the descriptor "frail" twice in such a short poem. And I think all poets should think twice before hauling death into every poem, willy nilly.   And now Good Night!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Painted Wagon

On Sunday, I left the YT Haiku Retreat a little early; I was very tired and didn't want to be driving home in the late afternoon beach traffic. South of Gilroy, I was tooling along at 65 in the slow lane when I scratched or rubbed my eye. Soon I saw that my contact lens (the one specialized for reading, not the long-distance one) was knocked out of place and was somewhere else either inside or outside my eye. This part of the freeway doesn't look easy to stop and get back on, so I continued to drive with one hand and try to reset my lens with the other. Didn't work and soon I saw a little blood on my finger.  Got off the freeway as soon as I could, and wound up on Bolsa Road (still south of Gilroy) and went on a while, looking for a good place to park, which turned out to be in the huge deserted parking lot associated with this sign. My lens was in my eye after all, and I put it back where it belonged. Aware that my nose was running, I got a napkin (thanks, Taco Bell, for giving too many!) out of the glove box and blew my nose. Blew loose a big blood clot; I have a nose bleed! My eye isn't bleeding! I am not subject to frequent nosebleeds, so hadn't thought of that! Pressing the side of my nose to be sure to stop the nosebleed, I looked around. I was parked right below this sign, which had an interesting Yesteryear Vibe, and I took a couple of iPhone pictures through the windshield.

Back home this was an irresistible target for Google. Right away I found someone else's photo on Flickr; it is almost identical to this one but taken in a different light. So much for my artistry. The other thing I found was the obituary for the man who built this motel (there is still an unused large building deep at the back of the lot) and named it for his wife, Senaida. His name was Jacob Villalba and his obituary is here.  He was quite an entrepreneur. I also found two photo sites recommending locations to take photographs in South Santa Clara County. Next spring I will try this. It's a plan.

Just Outside of Los Angeles

It's nearly midnight and Gary's backyard is dark,
and the police must be chasing someone because
the helicopter's spotlight turns it all into day.

The giant white light shows him everything,
his wife's plants, the kids' toys, his brother's dead car.
It's nearly midnight and Gary's backyard was dark

but he sees it all now and it seems that he never
noticed how little of him was there before
the helicopter's spotlight turned it all into day.

This life is his wife's, his kids', his brother's
and he, what is he? An afterthought? The cash?
It's nearly midnight and Gary's backyard is dark

again, and his groping hand finds his wife's tree,
and without thinking, he plucks a pomegranate.
The helicopter's spotlight turns it all into day

once more, and he sees the fruit in his hand, that
perfect red fruit, and he brings it to his nose to inhale.
It's nearly midnight and Gary's backyard is dark, but
the helicopter's spotlight has turned it all into day.

John Brantingham      (currently active, no Wikipedia article)

East of Los Angeles; poems by John Brantingham,
Anaphora Literary Press, 2011, page 63.

ON first reading, this may seem like a standard poem of male discontent, and that's not completely wrong, But look at the structure. It is a real villanelle, that doesn't announce that about itself, one has to figure it out. Here is a good description of this classic structure from  I have been meaning to try this for a long time and so might you!

I just found this! John Brantingham's website with a PROMPT every day!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Yellow Book

We will be going to visit her family for Thanksgiving; this picture
was taken nine years ago. Now she has two little sisters and a brother.
We always have a great time with them. Last time we visited 
they all took turns walking our dachshund, 
Tonight, I found out about a service called Flickriver, 
which helps you view your Flickr photos faster (the river!) and
in several interesting ways. In just a few minutes, I was reminded
of enough pictures to use on the blog for a week. 
I have 26,000 pictures on Flickr now, so it is useful to throw
them all up in the air sometimes (as in that card game)
and see how they come down.

Here is one of Basho's very observant haiku
about very young creatures:

Squeaking in response
to baby sparrows
a nest of mice


translated by Stehen Addiss, Fumiko Tamamoto, and Akira Yamamoto

Haiku; an anthology of Japanese Poems, Shambala, 2011, Kindle location 310

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Sunday Pose

In their church outfits, my two older children in the spring of 1961.
They are standing in front of a triple-decker apartment building 
a few blocks from downtown Provo, then called the Hilton Apartments.
which I, jokingly, referred to as The Provo Hilton.
Neither of these two-piece outfits was washable,
except for the shirt and blouse--I think the suits were shrinkable rayon. 
Dry cleaning was too expensive then.
On Sundays, I used to feed my children, dress them, 
take them to Sunday School, (insert photo op here) 
bring them home, change their clothes for washable stuff 
and feed them---in that order. 
By the summer after this picture was taken,
we had moved away from Provo. Forever.


The bright moon lifts from the Mountain of Heaven
In an infinite haze of cloud and sea,
And the wind, that has come a thousand miles,
Beats at the Jade Pass battlements....
China marches its men down Baideng Road
While Tartar troops peer across the blue waters of the bay....
And since not one battle famous in history
Sent all its fighters back again,
The soldiers turn round, looking toward the border,
And think of home, with wistful eyes,
And of those in the upper chambers
Who toss and sigh and cannot rest.

Li Po           (also known as Li Bai)  (701-762)

Chinese Poetry; Anthology of Li Bai (Li Po)
Various translators, Kindle location 439

I think the ancient Chinese poets (perhaps because the educated ones were sent all over as administrators) had it together about nostalgia. As we think about more foreign warlike excursions, I would like to call your attention especially to the lines:

And since not one battle famous in history
Sent all its fighters back again,
The soldiers turn round, looking toward the border,
And think of home, with wistful eyes...

as we hope and pray to end wars forever!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

They are singing here now . . .

This is the tree out the patio door of our room at Asilomar's Windward building
where I spent the end of last week at the Yuki Teikei Haiku Retreat.
Every time I looked at this tree, I wanted to sketch it. 
I was sure this simple treat for myself 
could be fitted in somehow. Alas, not true. 
So I have just now run it through
Picasa's "HDRish" filter. The result emphasizes 
what I liked about the way this tree curves.

There is an ongoing program at Asilomar 
to develop cultivars of the native trees
which have been losing the battle against disease,
notably the white pine blister rust.
The work to save an example of the native landscape 
(now gone from most of California's Pacific Coast)
is ongoing here on many different fronts.

For The Future

Planting trees early in spring,
we make a place for birds to sing
in time to come. How do we know?
They are singing here now.
There is no other guarantee
that singing will ever be.
Wendell Berry

Collected Poems, 1957-1982, 
North Point Press, New York, 1985.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Meditative Heart

Same beautiful place as yesterday, the Asilomar Marine Reserve 
at the edge of the Monterey Bay. Although it is a bay, it is also the ocean. 
The surf beats on the rocks, beats on the rocks, beats on the rocks,
slowly creating an almost white sand from the granite.
I couldn't stay long, but it was hard to tear myself away.

When I got home from the YT Haiku Retreat, S needed an organizer tray to hold items on his table. I looked around in the bedroom and found one in which I had stored a few special books too slender to be shelved. One of them was a book of poems by Paul O. Williams who often was at the Haiku Retreat with us before his too sudden too soon, death. The book is inscribed to Pat Shelley and came to me after she died. Most of the poems (36) were first published in the Christian Science Monitor, which, before its (too soon) demise, used to publish many short, intelligible and excellent poems. Here is the first one in Paul's small volume. It carries the same freight of sadness that I often felt in Paul despite his general and witty jollity.

A Meditative Heart in San Francisco

In the sea-winded zoo, gorillas lean
against the concrete limits of their habitat
dreaming of rainforests. Their tall, sloped heads
fill with the rightness of glistening leaves,
of bird cries, beetles scuttling, lushness,
vegetable darkness, the dank rot of litter.

A neat, white gull settles by one pool,
stands half asleep, struts on greenish webs,
as the dark primates watch, lean on thick,
lax knuckles. The gull lifts, wheels above them,
banks in a gust, glides high, away. The big male
turns his head, deep brows swarming with shadows.

Paul O. Williams             (1935-2009)

Growing in the Rain; poems by Paul O. Williams
Smythe-Waithe Press, Santa Rosa, CA, 1991, page 1.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sea, Wind, Wings

Walking this morning along Highway One in the Asilomar Marine Reserve,
I remembered Robinson Jeffers carving out a life on the shore near here,
and facing his home with the large cobbles from the beach.
The wind was quite strong this morning, after the night's rain.
And many kinds of birds were very active, although these are not the raptors of the poem.


The fierce musical cries of a couple of sparrowhawks hunting on the headland,
Hovering and darting, their heads northwestward,
Prick like silver arrows shot through a curtain the noise of the ocean
Trampling its granite; their red backs gleam
Under my window around the stone corners; nothing gracefuller, nothing
Nimbler in the wind. Westward the wave-gleaners,
The old gray sea-going gulls are gathered together, the northwest wind wakening
Their wings to the wild spirals of the wind-dance.
Fresh as the air, salt as the foam, play birds in the bright wind, fly falcons
Forgetting the oak and the pinewood, come gulls
From the Carmel sands and the sands at the river-mouth, from Lobos and out of the limitless
Power of the mass of the sea, for a poem
Needs multitude, multitudes of thoughts, all fierce, all flesh-eaters, musically clamorous
Bright hawks that hover and dart headlong, and ungainly
Gray hungers fledged with desire of transgression, salt slimed beaks, from the sharp
Rock-shores of the world and the secret waters.
Robinson Jeffers          (1887-1962)

American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Volume One, 
Library of America, Volume 1, page 660.

So here is a Jeffers poem about the bird life he knew from long observation. The lines are so long that most books have to cut and indent them. Because there us room on the blog page, I have made them the splendid long length I think he intended.  
Your task: write a poem with a lot of nouns, creatures, or things in in and spin out the lines as far as you can. See what this does to the musicality of the poem.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Briones Park, have you been yet?

Oh, I know it is not the right kind of cow for the poem, but it is the cow
that delights me tonight, and I cannot find one I like any better, This is a roadside cow
from one of out cross-country trips. I quite admire its insouciance!
And its elegant ribs!
Many years ago when I was going to a lot of Northern California workshops
and other poetry events, I often ran into a lively young poet named Barbara Selfridge.
She had long dark hair, and loads of charisma, At some point I bought her chapbook
from which the delightful, spirited poem below is taken.
Now that I am stirring my library in the hopes of compressing it somehow,
I have turned up this chapbook, I just found Barbara's picture thanks to Google
and she looks a lot the same, but now she sports a silver bob.

Love, or Be Scared If You Have To

You're scared but you know that Briones Park
is full of birds who'd do anything
to explain to you about shadows
and the way they change their length.

And there are cows walking on paths
higher up than yours,
and when you see them and realize
that you're looking up
at the underside of a cow
and of course you never have before,
then of course it's scary,
like a two-ton cow
falling on your head is scary,
 but that's now why the cow's head 
is turned to look at you.
The cow wants to know
why you were laughing.
You laugh again and you sing.
When I'm calling you
---hoo-oo-oo---hoo-oo-oo, you sing.
"I'm in love!" you call.

And of course, it's scary but it's only
the underside of a cow,
and it's only twilight,
only the most beautiful twilight
that Briones Park has ever seen.

Barbara Selfridge

After Death You Still Believe in Love;
a few stories and poems, pages 4-5,
Copyright Barbara Selfridge, 1994.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Broken Saucer

Our friends threw a party for us on our 25th wedding anniversary in 1980.
They got us an engraved silver plate and someone
also gave us this single cup with saucer.
I think we drank some champagne, , ,
For many years the plate sat on a bookcase in the front hall for outgoing or incoming mail.
I can't remember why, but it is no longer there; I don't know where it is.
 The other day I found the cup and saucer in a cupboard in the laundry
with the "good" (never used) dishes. 
I left it out to show Karen when she came over to visit.
And the next morning I knocked it off the table. So now I just have the cup;
it's too small to drink out of or plant anything in,
And it is almost too cute to throw away . . .
The rectangles in the photo are California blue skies
through the roof slats of the deck on the polished kitchen granite.

Putting Things in Proportion

The tree must be
bigger than
the house, the
doors of which
must fix upon
a width proportionate
to people. Objects
in the rooms
must coexist.
A kettle can't
be bigger than
a table. Interiors
must fit inside
in general. With
spaces left besides.
Swift justice to
rogue sizes, is what
we say---we have to
say. No one can
get along the
other way.

Kay Ryan

Erratic Facts, Grove Press, Oct. 2015,
Kindle  location 229.

Your task: write a poem in very short lines about something
that seems obcious to you, but is a never-discussed fact.

Monday, November 09, 2015


On a recent daily walk, this tree lawn has eroded enough for us to see
the structure of of tree roots. I liked the palette of grays 
and I loved the way the little star-shaped leaves
of liquidambar decorated this view. iPhone 6s photo.
Today was too wet for the walk; the small dog was disappointed.


The carpentry shop,
the ironmonger,
the grocery store,
the farmer’s rubber boots
on the porch,
the low, cloudy sky,
and, so unexpectedly,
a blue door
fallen flat among the ruins
with the key
still in place.

Yannis Ritsos
                                 Athens – March 3, 1985

Both the picture and the poem 
are about something that remains.
Your task: 
write an 8 to 14 line poem about a remnant.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Bicycle Shop

The house we bought in Shaker Heights Ohio in 1957 had a large formal front entrance
leading toward a wide stairway to the second floor. Here this space has been put to use
as a bicycle tune-up shop. In the center of the photo, Dad is wearing an old white shirt 
no longer used to go to work at General Electric, as was his custom. 
I never remember him wearing T-shirts or workshirts, Robert is at right, and David
to Dad's left. I think part of Susan is at the far left. I am in this picture, too.
The circular frame on the desk hold my preschool portrait. 
I think I won an annual Pretty Baby prize for this one from the photographer, 
who worked for the Barney's Department Store in Schenectady.
Maps are on the wall as learning tools, and probably 
to attempt to disguise the decaying wallpaper.
The bright light on this group must be from one of those floodlights 
on a home-made broomstick and metal garbage-can lid stand
that we used for taking movies.
There can be a lot of history in a photograph. . .

Old Man, Old Man

Young men, not knowing what to remember,
Come to this hiding place of the moons and years,
To this Old Man. Old Man, they say, where should we go?
Where did you find what you remember? Was it perched in a tree?
Did it hover deep in the white water? Was it covered over
With dead stalks in the grass? Will we taste it
If our mouths have long lain empty?
Will we feel it between our eyes if we face the wind
All night, and turn the color of earth?
If we lie down in the rain, can we remember sunlight?

He answers, I have become the best and worst I dreamed.
When I move my feet, the ground moves under them.
When I lie down, I fit the earth too well.
Stones long underwater will burst in the fire, but stones
Long in the sun and under the dry night
Will ring when you strike them. Or break in two.
There were always many places to beg for answers:
Now the places themselves have come in close to be told.
I have called even my voice in close to whisper with it:
Every secret is as near as your fingers.
If your heart stutters with pain and hope,
Bend forward over it like a man at a small campfire.

David Wagoner

Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems,
University of Illinois Press, 1999, page 122.

Here is a mysterious poem about memory for The Memory Thread. Good night!

Saturday, November 07, 2015

My Aunt Marjory

The girl in the center is my father's younger sister, Marjory Lynn Hopper (1910-1950)
I don't know who her friends were, but the picture was taken near Portales, New Mexico 
or Yuma, Arizona before 1920. When the family left Portales, New Mexico, 
where my father was born, Grandad was looking at 40 (? not sure) acres in Yuma, 
where there was a new irrigation project and 10 acres near/in Los Angeles 
with an established citrus orchard. They moved to Yuma. . .
Here is what I remember being told about Aunt Marjory--I must have met her, 
but do not remember anything about that. She was beautiful, everyone says so, and many photographs substantiate it. She became a school teacher, like her mother and sister. 
She was married, then divorced. After she died (of breast cancer) 
her ex-husband, Max McCarthy, often left flowers on her grave.
Someone even told me he left a letter, but that may be a fairy tale. 
She left no children. My father, her brother, kept her picture on his bedroom dresser 
as long as I can remember. It was framed in a leather frame 
with lacing around the edges. In the picture, Marjory wore
her long hair in a braid which she coiled on her head like a crown.

Marjory is the girl in the almost exact center of the group in a slightly darker dress 
and with her distinctive thick shiny dark hair, blunt-cut above her ears. 
She would have been seven or eight in this picture. (Born 1910.)
And she is not that much older in the one with two friends above. 
I have tried to find out where this school was and am still not sure, 
but I am leaning toward New Mexico. If my father was 11 when they moved 
(source:unreliable memory-trace) it might have been after this school year,
which was almost 100 years ago now!


It was years before you could climb
back up over the fallen stalls, and knock at
the Hawkines' old door.

                                        ---they were gone,
you could just look in from the road.
Field after field.
Your eyes looked two ways at once.

                                              Under the fields,

the dense tongue of the cow---
and the horses eyes---
and the water from the hand pump in the sink,
races as horses race.

Jean Valentine

The New Yorker, March 9, 2009

Jean Valentine is a poet of my generation, having been born only a year before I was,
and still alive! Yet she has managed to capture very well in an elliptical fashion,
the lives of my parents in their rural fastnesses in Arizona and New Mexico.
And od so many others who worked this land of ours.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Marjory in plaid holding a black kitten

The year is 1953, as confirmed by the license plate sticker. The place we always called
The Farm is being visited by my mother's sister, Hazel Peters and her family: one husband, Uncle Howard, one daughter, Susan June, one son, Dennis. They came all the way from California in this Cadillac--on the bumper of which now sits my baby sister, Marjory Ann, holding a black kitten.

I haven't got a poem that suits this picture, so here
is one of the group pictures featuring both families.
My father must have taken it because he isn't in this one.

Left to right: Dennis (making face) in front of me (June,) Marjory Ann, 
Uncle Howard holding Susan Peter's hand with my sister Susan behind in red blouse. 
Then Aunt Hazel behind Robert, my mother Olga behind David, John and Richard, kneeling.

In a short while, I will get on the train for Arizona to go to college.

It was a great visit. This was scanned from a Kodachrome slide and cropped slightly.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Something almost summer

I have wanted to use this image on the blog for a long time because I like the simplicity of it.
I made it so long ago that I don't remember whether that is gold paint or digital shimmer.
So here it is tonight, with another poem from Robert Francis.

I am midway into his memoirs, The Trouble With Francis 
and enjoying it very much. He has taken the title from a sentence 
from an article on his poetry in the Chicago Review, Summer, 1967,

"The trouble with Francis is not
that he's too happy as that his
happiness seems to lack weight."

which he uses as an epigraph for his book.

It totally gives me the giggles and makes me never want to publish anything,


Always I hear the bluejays
These early autumn blue days,
Taunting the leaves to hurry,
Wanting the snow to flurry,
Wanting a blue-white weather
To match their blue-white feather.
All right, all right, I'm willing
and far, far more than willing.
But leave me a few days longer
to satisfy my hunger
For something almost summer
After the end of summer,
When the quiet mind goes gleaning
For odds and ends of meaning
Before the year's transition,
Before the mind's submission.
Then let the jays come screaming
And jar me from my dreaming.

Robert Francis
Collected Poems, 1936-1938,
University of Massachusetts Press, 1976, page 150.

And now, for the more literal-minded, here are Eastern Blue Jays
at my feeder in Northern Michigan in September, 2014.


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Falling, falling, long ago

Usually, I pick the poem to go with the picture that I want to use. 
But tonight I found the poem first. It is beautiful--
rhyming and metrical and therefore should please my grandson
who gives no credence to any other kind of poem.
This color photo is of my beloved willow that hangs over
The Little Union Canal in Eagle, Idaho, in our backyard there.
This is part of the reason we are spending this winter in California.
This year it is already beginning to snow where my #2 son
lives in the Sierras and also where my daughter lives in Michigan.
We hope for a winter that will give some drought relief;
it may be a forlorn hope.

White Sunday Morning

White Sunday morning long ago--
White bedroom curtains and white walls,
Beyond the window falling snow
That dillydallies as it falls,
And in the kitchen down below
An old old woman popping corn,
Popping corn on Sunday morning.
Thanks to the little register
Cut in my floor above her stove
I can look down and spy on her
And overhear her every move.
And every move she makes is slow, 
Pushing the popper too and fro. 
I hear the corn begin to pop.
Oh, sing, white church, that Christ is born.
I do not hear your singing choir,
I only hear the popping corn
Until I hear the popping stop.
But now, praise be, I more than hear it,
For lifted on the breath of fire
The fragrance rises like pure spirit.
The fragrance rises while the snow
Is falling, falling long ago.

Robert Francis

Collected Poems; 1936-1976, 
University of Massachusetts Press, 1976, page 146.

Isn't dillydallies a wonderful word??

I will be reading more in the work of Robert Francis, I have also begun to read his other book: The Trouble With Francis. It is a memoir of sorts, and beautifully written. He has a wry and elegant voice. And an intelligent point of view.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Its Shadow

I remember being introduced to these tiny ladies at my grandmother'e funeral. Here are Jennie and Effie, somebody said. But I didn't really tumble to who they were; there were so many relatives there!

Later my mother showed me a photocopy of this picture, 
which I have placed on this blog earlier. Linked.

Then I got a copy of this from Effie's pet grandson, Randy Holladay.

The woman standing is my maternal grandmother, Susan Elizabeth Redd Butler.
Descendants, please look carefully at her face;
I think I see some great-great-grandchildren here.
Tonight I tuned that file up a little so one can see the faces better, at least on my laptop.
These two younger girls grew old to be the tiny ladies in the photo above.
If I remember correctly, they were Susie's last remaining full siblings.

Below is a photograph of Effie's birthplace.  Under it
I have placed part of Effie's reminiscences of life here.

My father, Lemuel Hardison Redd, helped settle the place where I was born, 13 July 1890. Bluff, Utah, was a settlement many miles from civilization in a canyon along the San Juan River, with its miles of high walls and roads that were almost impassable. Our family of nine children, ranging from nineteen to the baby, Effie, lived in a small two room log cabin with dirt floor and mud roof. The walls and ceiling were lined with factory. My mother, Sariah Louisa Chamberlain, made it a real home. As a baby I had dark black hair, and the Indian neighbor told mother, “Maybe so, your baby a papoose.” My parents moved to Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico in 1892, where I grew up enjoying my childhood in a little town with tree-shaded streets, playing along the Pierdas Verdes River.

Here is a link to Effie's complete life story,
the source of the quote above..

For anyone who got this far, tonight's poem is a haiku:

cut down
the tree that leaned against the house
leaves its shadow

Alan Pizzarelli

Frozen Socks, House of Haiku, 2015, page 102

Monday, November 02, 2015

My brother, Robert W. Hopper 1945-1997

November 2, my brother's birthday, is almost over. 
He was almost exactly 10 years younger than I am--
the next to the youngest of our Seven Siblings. 
The word he coined for our tribe was "simblings" after he misspoke 
during a telephone conversation. We wound up using it evermore, 
or at least as long as we could talk to each other. 

The picture above is a sample of my mother's propensity for trimming photographs. 
(To reduce them to their essence? For use in a collage or assemblage? All of the above 
and other things, too. It used to drive me nuts, but now I kind of miss it.) 
In this example, it does serve to emphasize Rob's sweet, open and pure gaze. 
He was and is so important to me that is would be difficult to describe. 
He was always supportive of my poetry, and even began to read poetry himself. 
Then he audited a course in poetry with Richard Howard.
When he was dying, he gave away all his books except for three books of poems.

This is Robert in the air. 
I don't think he was leaping onto the rocky shore of the Monterey Bay,
maybe just avoiding the spray? 
My mother liked this photo and made a collage of it with an advertisement 
featuring a similar photo. But this is all that got scanned, 
The colors are very faded, so that it almost looks black-and-white. 
It was taken when some of my family visited California 
after my husband and I moved here. in the late 1960s. 
The shorter girl on the rock is our daughter, Kimberli. 
The other girl is my youngest sibling, Marjory Ann. 
Robert used to take a different school bus to protect her 
when she was small; they always had a very close relationship; 
I am sure this began when our mother was ill when Marjory was a toddler. 
On the day of this photo, our little clan had driven 
along the Seventeen Mile Drive to show off the ocean. 
My mother and I were both here with our cameras. 
Who took the picture? I cannot recall. 

Robert was a Professor of Speech Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. 
The poem I have chosen for tonight concerns a trip by a group of people 
who cannot hear and are being taken out for an excursion. 
This type of Speech Class was not the kind he taught, 
but I know he would have understood and liked this terrific poem,
which I found today looking through David Wagoner's collected poems.

The Excursion of the Speech and Hearing Class

They had come to see the salmon lunging and leaping

Up the white spillway, but the water was empty.
Now one young girl lingers behind the others,

And slowly, her thin arms held out from her sides,

Alone on the riverbank, she begins to dance.

Her body moves as the salmon would have moved

In place, holding that place in a soundless calm

Under a soundless frenzy of surfaces

Against a current only she remembers

To welcome, to break through, to gather again.

The wind and the river pulse against her face

And under her feet. She listens to what they know

And moves her lips to find the mouth of the river

And the mouth of the slow wind against her mouth.

The source of the river and the source of the wind

Have taken her breath away. But the others come
Shaking their fingers, opening and closing
Their mouths, to take her back to another silence.

David Wagoner               born 1926

David Wagoner, Traveling Light; collected and new poems, University of Illinois Press, 1999, page 184.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Land of Crinolines, Part 2

Here is another group photo from Mesa, taken in late June of 1955. 
My mother, Olga is in the center; Mom and I are each wearing a single white rose.
My mother's friend, June Williams (that I was named after) is almost hidden
behind the girl in the red dress. June W. is sporting her Arizona tan.
I am sporting my bad home permanent that Mom thought
would make my honeymoon a no-curlers joy and involved cutting off
most of my ruined shoulder-length hair before the wedding.
I must report that the others do not even look familiar to me.
This picture shows my dress better than the other one, although still
not a full account of the subtle beauties of its printed fabric. Also note
the inverted box pleat, which makes the skirt hang beautifully.
Are any of these people known to you or relatives? Speak up, Arizonans!
Picture from my mother's slide collection and probably taken with her camera.

Tonight we have a short quote from Mary Karr's new, new book,
the Art of Memoir:

"So a single image can split open the hard seed of the past, and soon memory pours forth from every direction, sprouting its vines and flowers up around you till the old garden's taken shape in all its fragrant glory. Almost unbelievable how much can rush forward to fill an absolute blankness."

Mary Karr
The Art of Memoir, Harper, September 16, 2015.
Kindle location 351

And that's the memory thread for this night. So to bed .  .  .