Monday, October 31, 2016

Poem for Monday and National Arboretum

By Cynthia Dewi Oka

Swarthmore, PA

Two women beneath a weeping
cherry in full bloom. One brushes

earth with her hair, deciphering
the calligraphy of fallen petals.

The other lifts her face to sun, laced
by branch and flowers like tiny

palms of snow. Almost a postcard
of spring, who could guess

the bounty on their heads, the men
with knives behind, how they listen

for their lives in what will never
be said. Give thanks. If only today

the world is their sons rolling
down hills of grass, the boughs

bending around them like mercy.


Autumn is a bit lost, as it was 80 degrees on Sunday, but I can't really complain if it means that we have colorful trees as we approach Thanksgiving. Though we still have more green than red on our trees, we met Alice, Jeremy, and Avery at the National Arboretum, where we all went to see the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, the National Capitol Columns, and the National Herb Garden. Avery and I did not find any very rare Pokemon but we did get to see lots of colorful flowers and vegetables!

From the arboretum, we drove to College Park, where my parents met us at younger son's apartment where he'd been showing us some of his 3D printing projects. We all went to Azteca for dinner, then we dropped him off at the library and came home, where the Cubs game was too stressful for me (mostly because I can't deal with sports till after the election) so we watched Madam Secretary (preachy but good), Masters of Sex (everyone behaving terribly) and Westworld (daaaaaamn!).

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Placeholder for Sunday

I have been out of the house nearly all of Saturday, first visiting Paul's parents and brother Jon (east from Oregon) in Hanover, where we went out for Chinese buffet and had pie back at the house, then at Karen and Jim's new house, where we did even more eating and hung out with local friends, including people I haven't seen in way too long like Heather! The autumn weather was gorgeous everywhere and the company was great but I am exhausted! A few pics including a pumpkin cupcake-cake:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Poem for Saturday, Random Thoughts, South Mountain Parks

By Gail Mazur

for John Limon

The game of baseball is not a metaphor  
and I know it's not really life.  
The chalky green diamond, the lovely  
dusty brown lanes I see from airplanes  
multiplying around the cities  
are only neat playing fields.  
Their structure is not the frame  
of history carved out of forest,  
that is not what I see on my ascent.

And down in the stadium,
the veteran catcher guiding the young  
pitcher through the innings, the line  
of concentration between them,  
that delicate filament is not  
like the way you are helping me,  
only it reminds me when I strain  
for analogies, the way a rookie strains  
for perfection, and the veteran,  
in his wisdom, seems to promise it,  
it glows from his upheld glove,

and the man in front of me
in the grandstand, drinking banana  
daiquiris from a thermos,
continuing through a whole dinner
to the aromatic cigar even as our team
is shut out, nearly hitless, he is
not like the farmer that Auden speaks  
of in Breughel's Icarus,
or the four inevitable woman-hating  
drunkards, yelling, hugging
each other and moving up and down  
continuously for more beer

and the young wife trying to understand  
what a full count could be
to please her husband happy in  
his old dreams, or the little boy
in the Yankees cap already nodding  
off to sleep against his father,
program and popcorn memories  
sliding into the future,
and the old woman from Lincoln, Maine,  
screaming at the Yankee slugger  
with wounded knees to break his leg

this is not a microcosm,  
not even a slice of life

and the terrible slumps,
when the greatest hitter mysteriously  
goes hitless for weeks, or
the pitcher's stuff is all junk
who threw like a magician all last month,  
or the days when our guys look
like Sennett cops, slipping, bumping  
each other, then suddenly, the play
that wasn't humanly possible, the Kid  
we know isn't ready for the big leagues,  
leaps into the air to catch a ball
that should have gone downtown,  
and coming off the field is hugged  
and bottom-slapped by the sudden  
sorcerers, the winning team

the question of what makes a man  
slump when his form, his eye,
his power aren't to blame, this isn't  
like the bad luck that hounds us,  
and his frustration in the games  
not like our deep rage
for disappointing ourselves

the ball park is an artifact,
manicured, safe, "scene in an Easter egg",  
and the order of the ball game,  
the firm structure with the mystery  
of accidents always contained,  
not the wild field we wander in,  
where I'm trying to recite the rules,  
to repeat the statistics of the game,
and the wind keeps carrying my words away


It was a ridiculously gorgeous day, so after we finished our work in the morning -- mine included posting a review of Voyager's still-disappointing "Random Thoughts" -- we drove to South Mountain to visit Gathland, Gambrill, and Washington Monument State Parks and South Mountain Creamery:

There were ladybugs and stinkbugs on top of the mountain and lots of squirrels in the trees. We got home in time to feed our ravenous cats, then have dinner with my parents, and we just watched the Cubs fail to score the one run they needed in the bottom of the 9th.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Poem for Friday, Cabin John, Star Trek: Beyond

For the Chipmunk in My Yard
By Robert Gibb

I think he knows I’m alive, having come down
The three steps of the back porch
And given me a good once over. All afternoon
He’s been moving back and forth,
Gathering odd bits of walnut shells and twigs,
While all about him the great fields tumble
To the blades of the thresher. He’s lucky
To be where he is, wild with all that happens.
He’s lucky he’s not one of the shadows
Living in the blond heart of the wheat.
This autumn when trees bolt, dark with the fires
Of starlight, he’ll curl among their roots,
Wanting nothing but the slow burn of matter
On which he fastens like a small, brown flame.


Thursday was another gorgeous day though I spent most of it working because we have plans for much of Friday. My Voyager review is mostly done, various other assignments have been completed (though not the laundry which is late this week), and I did see bunnies and briefly get out to enjoy the weather again at Cabin John Park:

We just watched Star Trek: Beyond, which has lots of attractive performers and...kind of bored me, apart from the Galaxy Quest self-parody moments. Visuals were great, Karl Urban was brilliant, the post-nacelle shear warg battle was too darn long, and I just can't manage to get excited about anything in the reboot!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Poem for Thursday and Great Falls

On Disappearing
By Major Jackson

I have not disappeared.
The boulevard is full of my steps. The sky is
full of my thinking. An archbishop
prays for my soul, even though
we only met once, and even then, he was
busy waving at a congregation.
The ticking clocks in Vermont sway

back and forth as though sweeping
up my eyes and my tattoos and my metaphors,
and what comes up are the great paragraphs
of dust, which also carry motes
of my existence. I have not disappeared.
My wife quivers inside a kiss.
My pulse was given to her many times,

in many countries. The chunks of bread we dip
in olive oil is communion with our ancestors,
who also have not disappeared. Their delicate songs
I wear on my eyelids. Their smiles have
given me freedom which is a crater
I keep falling in. When I bite into the two halves
of an orange whose cross-section resembles my lungs,

a delta of juices burst down my chin, and like magic,
makes me appear to those who think I've
disappeared. It's too bad war makes people
disappear like chess pieces, and that prisons
turn prisoners into movie endings. When I fade
into the mountains on a forest trail,
I still have not disappeared, even though its green facade
turns my arms and legs into branches of oak.
It is then I belong to a southerly wind,
which by now you have mistaken as me nodding back
and forth like a Hasid in prayer or a mother who has just
lost her son to gunfire in Detroit. I have not disappeared.

In my children, I see my bulging face
pressing further into the mysteries.

In a library in Tucson, on a plane above
Buenos Aires, on a field where nearby burns
a controlled fire, I am held by a professor,
a General, and a photographer.
One burns a finely wrapped cigar, then sniffs
the scented pages of my books, scouring
for the bitter smell of control.
I hold him in my mind like a chalice.
I have not disappeared. I swish the amber
hue of lager on my tongue and ponder the drilling
rigs in the Gulf of Alaska and all the oil-painted plovers.

When we talk about limits, we disappear.
In Jasper, TX you can disappear on a strip of gravel.

I am a shrug of a life in sacred language.
Right now: termites toil over a grave.
My mind is a ravine of yesterdays.
At a glance from across the room, I wear
September on my face,
which is eternal, and does not disappear
even if you close your eyes once and for all
simultaneously like two coffins.


The temperatures were near freezing when I woke up on Wednesday but the rest of the day was cool and gorgeous. I had lunch plans with my friend Deborah, but she had a family obligation come up, so we rescheduled and instead of meeting her at a restaurant, I went to the park and took a walk before having lunch with Paul. He wanted to enjoy the weather too, so after work we went to Great Falls and went to see the river.

We had some of our fridge full of leftovers for dinner. Then, around the Cubs game which was much better than yesterday's, we watched Blindspot (which they had said would be less violent in the 8 p.m. hour but really doesn't seem it) and Designated Survivor (on which Maggie Q is great as always but this is the best storyline they can come up with for the First Lady, really?). I know it's cold because Katniss is on my leg!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Poem for Wednesday, Taron Egerton Movies, Homestead Halloween

How to Be a Lawyer
By Jordan Davis

My father taught me how to play the beer bottle. It was Schlitz, and I was three or four. "You tuck your lower lip under, then blow air over the top of the bottle." I produced a tone, and we laughed. He paused. "You can make a different sound if there's less in the bottle," he said, motioning for me to take a sip. I did, then blew another note. We laughed again.

"Do you want to learn something else? Here's how to be a lawyer. Raise one eyebrow." I did so. "Good. Now hold it for a few seconds, turn toward the jury, and say 'I see.'"


Extreme quickie -- Angela came over for dinner (Paul got us mostly Greek finger foods and appetizers) and we watched Eddie the Eagle and Kingsman: The Secret Service, neither of which she had seen before. It was a beautiful day and I took a long walk, partly to enjoy the fall weather and partly because Pokemon Go is having a Halloween event that filled my neighborhood with spooky Pokemon including the rare-around-here Cubone and Marowak. Here are some more Halloween-ish pictures from Homestead Farm. I hope the Cubs play better next game!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Poem for Tuesday and Pumpkin Season

A fourteen-line poem on Adoration
By Julie Carr

        1.   It does not take much

        2.   Half an hour here, half an hour there

        3.   It’s not a “presence” I adore

        4.   The erotically swollen moon

        5.   Let me go, friends, companions

        6.   The soldier watches his kid in a play

        7.   He seems nothing less or more than “foreigner”

        8.   Grass. Dirt.

        9.   The bottle broke and all the women gathered shards

        10. The effect was of inflation

        11.  There was only one alive moment in the day

        12.  Either I loved myself or I loved you

        13.  Just like a mother to say that

        14. “Do you become very much?” she wrote


Monday was a beautiful October day -- not too warm, sunny, with oak leaves raining down on our neighborhood when the wind blew. I got an unexpected treat in that I got to have lunch with Alice, who needed to be up in our area for a few hours -- we went to Zoe's Kitchen for hummus and feta.

We caught up with Madam Secretary in the afternoon (not the pandas!) and this evening we watched Supergirl (I love this season's recurring cast) and Timeless (improving but start explaining the conspiracy already) around phone calls to relatives and such. From Homestead Farm yesterday:

Monday, October 24, 2016

Poem for Monday, Canal Locks and Homestead Farm

You! Inez!
By Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson

Orange gleams athwart a crimson soul
Lambent flames; purple passion lurks
In your dusk eyes.
Red mouth; flower soft,
Your soul leaps up—and flashes
Star-like, white, flame-hot.
Curving arms, encircling a world of love,
You! Stirring the depths of passionate desire!


We had gorgeous weather on Sunday, so despite important football games being on our television from early in the morning since the Giants were playing in London, I insisted that we got out and enjoy the fall day. We went to Riley's Lock, where there were turtles in the canal and Girl Scouts giving tours of the historic lockhouse, then we went to Homestead Farm to pick a pumpkin and see the goats and pigs enjoying the autumn. Finally we went to Violette's Lock for another view of the sun on the river.

After Once Upon a Time, which seems to have Aladdin confused with Indiana Jones, we were going to watch Madam Secretary but CBS's schedule had been thrown off by the Patriots game so we watched Westworld when it aired instead (that's always a dilemma anyway, both shows are great). Then we watched Masters of Sex, which is always good but needs to stop dragging out the Bill-and-Virginia-can't-get-it-together melodrama (those two together was the emotional glue for the rest of the show).