Saturday, April 30, 2016

Poem for Saturday, Macrocosm, Longwood Flowers

Settling In
By Jenny Factor

How I loved
each bare floor, each
naked wall, the shadows on

newly empty halls.
By day, my head humming
to itself of dreams, I cleaned and

to make life
new; dislodging from the corner,

the old
moths and cicadas
pinned to the screen, the carcasses

of grasshoppers
dangling from beams,
and each windowsill’s clutter of

dried beetles
and dead bees. But,
through each opening, each closing door,

the old life
returns on six legs, or
spins a musty web as it roosts over

a poison pot, or
descends from above
to drink blood in. This is how it

happens: the
settling in—the press
of wilderness returns to carved-out space, to skin.


Been at dinner, on the phone, and online all evening talking to relatives on all sides of the family, so this will be very brief! Here is my review of Voyager's unintentionally hilarious, dreadfully written "Macrocosm", and here are a few photos of flowers from Longwood Gardens during a spring past since we haven't made it there this spring:

Friday, April 29, 2016

Poem for Friday and Earlier Spring at Brookside

Face Down
By Mary Karr

What are you doing on this side of the dark?
You chose that side, and those you left
feel your image across their sleeping lids
as a blinding atomic blast.
Last we knew,
you were suspended midair
like an angel for a pageant off the room
where your wife slept. She had
to cut you down who'd been (I heard)
so long holding you up. We all tried to,
faced with your need, which we somehow
understood and felt for and took
into our veins like smack. And you
must be lured by that old pain smoldering
like woodsmoke across the death boundary.
Prowl here, I guess, if you have to bother somebody.
Or, better yet, go bother God, who shaped
that form you despised from common clay.
That light you swam so hard away from
still burns, like a star over a desert or atop
a tree in a living room where a son’s photos
have been laid face down for the holiday.


For National Poetry Month, The Washington Post had several designers put poems to motion. This one was animated by Charlie Brand at that link, if you'd like to watch.

Thursday involved folding laundry, being pursued by cats, and trying to work on my Voyager review while returning phone calls that kept giving me an excuse not to work on it (it's "Macrocosm" which is not exactly the most intellectual episode of Star Trek ever produced). It was drizzly and chilly but kind of nice to see so much color around the neighborhood in that kind of weather.

We watched the beginning of the NFL draft, though I don't know anything about the guy the Ravens picked except that he was wearing a very impressive suit. Then we watched The 100, which was awesome and terrible (ABBY, NO! MARCUS, NOOOOO! Jaha, I hate you more than Pike) and Orphan Black (Alison is my hero and if she were on The 100, she would be Heda). From Brookside Gardens last month:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Poem for Thursday and Garrett Park Azaleas

By Edward Rowland Sill

Be still,—be still!
Midnight’s arch is broken
In thy ceaseless ripples.
Dark and cold below them
Runs the troubled water,—
Only on its bosom,
Shimmering and trembling,
Doth the glinted star-shine
                    Sparkle and cease.

Be still,—be still!
Boundless truth is shattered
On thy hurrying current.
Rest, with face uplifted,
Calm, serenely quiet;
Drink the deathless beauty—
Thrills of love and wonder
Sinking, shining, star-like;
Till the mirrored heaven
Hollow down within thee
Holy deeps unfathomed,
Where far thoughts go floating,
And low voices wander
                    Whispering peace.


I feel like days keep getting away from me while I'm just trying to get the basics done! On Wednesday, one of them was re-uploading all my Green Man Review articles because it turns out that since I had them linked on the now-defunct site, I'd never put them on my on web page though I'd saved HTML drafts, which had to be updated and uploaded. I probably spent too much time reading and responding to election coverage, and we caught up on Once Upon a Time, where the Mills women are the only thing worth watching.

We did get to have dinner with Angela at California Tortilla -- I hadn't seen her (or eaten there) since before I went to L.A. last month, and she and I have both had a lot going on in our lives to catch up on! We came back to my house and listened to Hamilton while drinking tea and playing with the cats. After she had to go home, Paul and I watched Nashville, on which Scarlett and Gunnar sang a lovely song and everyone continued to act like bratty teenagers, again. Garrett Park azaleas in bloom last weekend:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Poem for Wednesday, Election, Limitless, Brookside Animals

My Mother Goes to Vote
By Judith Harris

We walked five blocks
to the elementary school,
my mother’s high heels
crunching through playground gravel.
We entered through a side door.

Down the long corridor,
decorated with Halloween masks,
health department safety posters—
we followed the arrows
to the third grade classroom.

My mother stepped alone
into the booth, pulling the curtain behind her.
I could see only the backs of her
calves in crinkled nylons.

A partial vanishing, then reappearing
pocketbook crooked on her elbow,
our mayor’s button pinned to her lapel.
Even then I could see—to choose
is to follow what has already
been decided.

We marched back out
finding a new way back down streets
named for flowers
and accomplished men.
I said their names out loud, as we found

our way home, to the cramped house,
the devoted porch light left on,
the customary meatloaf.
I remember, in the classroom converted
into a voting place—
there were two mothers, conversing,
squeezed into the children’s desk chairs.


It's been kind of a weird Tuesday around here, in part because Maryland held its primary election, so at lunchtime we walked over to vote at our kids' elementary school, where we were surprised to be handed paper ballots because this time around, to avoid miscounts, our state is having voters mark paper and then scan them so there will be a physical record if something goes wrong with the machines. It was a good election day for me, since the candidate I really want to replace Barbara Mikulski in the Senate won the Democratic nomination, and I'm delighted that Clinton did so well, too.

It was also nice to walk through the neighborhood at the height of azalea season, when there's so much color everywhere -- the last of the cherry and apple blossoms, the first of the irises, many tulips, some peonies. The rest of my day was mostly work and chores until dinnertime, which ended up being late so we ate while watching The Flash, which was pretty good (Bechdel pass!). Then we also watched Agents of SHIELD, which continues to be wildly uneven (too many characters and not my favorites talking) before the season finale of Limitless, which had better come back next season! Brookside animals:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Poem for Tuesday, Chaplin, Cinderella, Light City

By Alicia Ostriker

My neighbor’s daughter has created a city
you cannot see
on an island to which you cannot swim
ruled by a noble princess and her athletic consort
all the buildings are glass so that lies are impossible
beneath the city they have buried certain words
which can never be spoken again
chiefly the word divorce which is eaten by maggots
when it rains you hear chimes
rabbits race through its suburbs
the name of the city is one you can almost pronounce


The author told Poem-a-Day on, "I think the utopian impulse is generated partly by distress at the world as it is, and partly by something childish (in my case girlish) or even infantile in us, some memory of a time when everything was okay."

I spent a really nice, relaxing Monday with Cheryl eating Lebanese Taverna hummus, grape leaves, lebneh, and fatayers and watching Chaplin, the 2015 live action Cinderella, and a couple of episodes of Robin of Sherwood, broken up by a walk around the neighborhood to see the azaleas, chipmunks, and one rabbit who paused mid-hop to look at us. Chaplin made me nostalgic for L.A., especially the scenes on the beach in Malibu right by Point Dume.

I can't believe I was there just a few weeks ago. Paul and I had a late dinner, watched Blindspot, played with our cats, and talked to our niece who's thinking of moving to the east coast. Tomorrow is Maryland's primary, so hopefully by evening our phone will stop ringing with people begging, pleading and demanding our votes. Here are a few more photos from the Light City exhibit all around Baltimore's Inner Harbor a couple of weeks ago:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Poem for Monday and Local Flora & Fauna

Sonnet XCI
By William Shakespeare

Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their body's force,
Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill;
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
But these particulars are not my measure;
All these I better in one general best.
Thy love is better than high birth to me,
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost,
Of more delight than hawks or horses be;
And having thee, of all men's pride I boast:
   Wretched in this alone, that thou may'st take
   All this away, and me most wretched make.


I have been loving all the Shakespeare 400 posts and events this weekend, though we had to miss the party at the Folger Library.

We spent a really nice Sunday in York with Paul's parents, where we ate lunch and enjoyed the sunshine in between Skyping nearly all of their children and grandchildren -- David and Maria plus Lukas, Jamie, and Rafael, Jon and Brooke plus Holden and Noah, Maddy, Daniel, and Adam. It was great to catch up with everyone and Paul's father is feeling so much better, though he's frustrated being in rehab when he'd like to get up and walk in the sunshine!

We got home in time for a quick dinner before Madam Secretary -- I'm amused how often Henry is stuck in the role of damsel in distress -- and Elementary -- it's obvious that Sherlock never watches TV or he'd be able to guess as early as the audience can who's probably behind all the stuff he always wants to blame on his father. Since it's been lovely out, here are some spring flowers and animals from around my neighborhood and right nearby (deer photo by my mother):

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Poem for Sunday and Passover

By Adrienne Su

A crate of peaches straight from the farm
has to be maintained, or eaten in days.
Obvious, but in my family, they went so fast,
I never saw the mess that punishes delay.

I thought everyone bought fruit by the crate,
stored it in the coolest part of the house,
then devoured it before any could rot.
I'm from the Peach State, and to those

who ask But where are you from originally,
I'd like to reply The homeland of the peach,
but I'm too nice, and they might not look it up.
In truth, the reason we bought so much

did have to do with being Chinese -- at least
Chinese in that part of America, both strangers
and natives on a lonely, beautiful street
where food came in stackable containers

and fussy bags, unless you bothered to drive
to the source, where the same money landed
a bushel of fruit, a twenty-pound sack of rice.
You had to drive anyway, each house surrounded

by land enough to grow your own, if lawns
hadn’t been required. At home I loved to stare
into the extra freezer, reviewing mountains
of foil-wrapped meats, cakes, juice concentrate,

mysterious packets brought by house guests
from New York Chinatown, to be transformed
by heat, force, and my mother’s patient effort,
enough to keep us fed through flood or storm,

provided the power stayed on, or fire and ice
could be procured, which would be labor-intensive,
but so was everything else my parents did.
Their lives were labor, they kept this from the kids,

who grew up to confuse work with pleasure,
to become typical immigrants’ children,
taller than their parents and unaware of hunger
except when asked the odd, perplexing question.


I'm still recovering from the fourth cup of wine from our second night Passover seder, and we're watching the Saturday Night Live Prince tribute, so this is going to be brief and possibly misspelled. We had a nice Saturday organized around getting Adam home for the holiday, so we went to Garrett Park, the former B&O railway town that's full of gardens, particularly stunning azaleas. We walked around for an hour, then went to College Park to retrieve Adam.

My friend Annmarie arrived shortly after we got home, and Christine (who was already home visiting her parents) came over a bit later so we could all go together to my parents' for the seder along with friends of theirs. I ate huge amounts of food (as always the actual seder foods are my favorite part, especially the charoset and eggs, though the chocolate roll is really good too). Then we said goodnight and drove son back to College Park. Some Passover pics: