9.14.2022 – the little waves with

the little waves with
their soft, white hands efface the
footprints in the sands

Adapted from The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveller hastens toward the town,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveller to the shore,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

clouds mirrored in a very still ocean

8.29.2022 – hopelessness is the

hopelessness is the
enemy of justice – is
a constant struggle

I was born on July 17, 1960.

One month later, unknown to me and unrelated to this event, 11 kids went wading in the Atlantic Ocean at the public beach on Tybee Island on the east coast near Savannah, Georgia.

All 11 kids were arrested.

They were officially charged with Public Disrobing.

The real reason is that the public beaches in Georgia in 1960 were segregated.

And these 11 kids were not ‘allowed’ to use the public beach because they were not white.


Stars of the show, from left, Edna Jackson, Evalena Hoskins, and Mary Gray, who participated as high-school students in the historic 1960’s wade-ins. Ben Goggins / For Savannah Morning News

Three of these students, Edna Jackson, Evalena Hoskins, and Mary Gray, were there that day in 1960 and were back on the same beach, the same beach I have been with my children and grand children.

I now know about that day because the State of Georgia just dedicated a historical marker to remember that day and what those 11 kids did.

At the dedication ceremony, Tybee Island Historical Association Vice-President Allen Lewis said, “These students were ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

These students were ordinary people.

Ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

They went for a swim on an August day at the beach.

Extraordinary things.

Mr. Lewis also said, “They put their beliefs to the test on Savannah Beach. That God has the divine power, and that the U.S. Constitution was on their side as they fought injustice and evil.”

Faced with racial terror, the students responded to hate with love. To violence, with forgiveness. We remember these students for their hope. Hopelessness is the enemy of justice. Their courage. Because peace requires bravery. Their persistence. Because justice is a constant struggle. And their faith.”

They went for a swim on an August day at the beach.

Arlo Guthrie once said something along the lines that in a world where everything is going great, you would have to do an awful lot of good to standout, but in a world that sucks, you don’t have to do much to accomplish something good.

They went for a swim on an August day at the beach.

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Respond to hate with love.

To violence, with forgiveness.

Because peace requires bravery.

Because justice is a constant struggle.

8.8.2022 – beach initially

beach initially
was deemed the most useless space

I was struck by this passage:

The lords of the beachfront were late to the coastal real estate game. The beach was initially deemed the most useless, undesirable space on the North American continent. (Imagine rushing past the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard in your haste to stake a land claim in Ohio.)

Back in the day I had a job interview with the Federal Government.

On the application there was a spot where I could list places where I could not work.

I listed California, Florida and Ohio.

The interviewer asked a lot of questions then said, “Where you can’t work. I certainly understand Florida and California, but what do you have against Ohio?”

Naming my Alma Mater answered his question.

I like the beach.

I can’t remember a time I did not like the beach.

I love the line in the movie Superman II, where Gene Hackman, as only Gene Hackman can, informed General Zod that, “Well, General … the world is a big place. Thank goodness my needs are small. I have a certain weakness for … beachfront property.

I guess the idea that Ohio was populated by folks who rushed past the coast to get to Ohio pretty much says as much about Ohio as anyone needs to know.

If anyone needs anything more to know about Ohio, just consider the pantheon of personalities you meet when you name the 6 Ohio Presidents.







Now there’s a Mount Rushmore no one ever proposed.

Three died in office and of those, two were shot dead and the other was poisoned by his wife (well that’s what I was told).

Talk about some sort of intervention.

But I digress.

I like the beach.

I like what Mr. Thoreau said when he said about the beach that, “A man may stand there and put all America behind him.”

I hope I would have stopped at the beach.

But right now, I like where I ended up.

Again as Mr. Thoreau says, The question is not what you look at, but what you see.

The passage comes from the opinion piece, We Will All End Up Paying for Someone Else’s Beach House, by Francis Wilkinson (@fdwilkinson), a columnist at Bloomberg, in the New York Times on August 8, 2022.

He closes with this warning.

The wealthy eventually realized their error. They put property markers on perpetually shifting sand, built expensive homes and called in the Army to keep their beaches from drifting away. It’s hard to see how, exactly, they will hold on to much of this sea-level paradise in the face of rising waters and carbon-charged superstorms. But it’s not hard to guess who will end up covering their losses.

The wise man built his house upon the rock but he didn’t have the view and he still, most likely, didn’t have a basement.

8.4.2022 – how beautiful to

how beautiful to
sight those beams of morning play
up from eastern sea

Adapted from Horace’s ode Diffugere nives (XVI) by A. E. Housman published in More Poems, Alfred A. Knopf. 1936.

How clear, how lovely bright
How beautiful to sight
Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea
Soars the delightful day

To-day I shall be strong,
No more shall yield to wrong,
Shall squander life no more;
Days lost, I know not how,
I shall retrieve them now;
Now I shall keep the vow
I never kept before.

Thought about this as I was driving to work.

And, as always, I was thinking, there sure could be worse morning drives (and I have made some of them.)

8.2.2022 – stars when drop and die

stars when drop and die
no star is lost – rains in sea
still the sea is salt

Adapted from Horace’s ode Diffugere nives (VII) by A. E. Housman published in More Poems, Alfred A. Knopf. 1936.

Stars, I have seen them fall,
    But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
    From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
    Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea
    And still the sea is salt.

And what does Diffugere nives mean?

One online source states: “one of Horace’s many reflections on the passage of time, the brevity of human life.”

Another states: “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and emotional dependence on another person.”

But I paste it into the GOOGLE translate from Latin to English, I get, Run away from the snow.

Ah well, still the sea is salt.

7.31.2022 – a lover of books

a lover of books
adventurous, creative
spend all day barefoot

Want to move to to Kunfunadhoo?

Is this a trick question?

It appears that a bookseller is being sought by a resort on the island of Kunfunadhoo.

Ultimate Library is looking for an island bookseller who, “ will need to be a self-starter who is happy to introduce themselves to guests and provide them with personalised book recommendations. The successful applicant will be solely responsible for the day-to-day running of the bookshop, including accounting and stock management. “The applicant will be there on their own, so they’re pretty much running the whole thing themselves.

The successful applicants will be a “Passionate lovers of books – who are also adventurous, outgoing, creative and don’t mind spending all day barefoot – are sought for the year-long contract, which starts in October and involves moving to live on the remote island of Kunfunadhoo in the Indian Ocean.”

You can click here to apply.

There was a time …

In the middle of a Michigan winter, sitting in one of the lower levels of the Harlen Hatcher Graduate Library at the University of Michigan, I was sitting at a library table that was pushed against an outside window where I could watch the snow come down.

The University of Michigan Graduate Library was reported to have some 5 million books on the shelves and all of them were literally stacked up over my head.

In the days before the World Wide Web this was as close to unlimited information on anything in the world that anyone could get.

And that is just what I was thinking.

Anything and everything that I might want to know or read about or experience thorugh a book was within a few feet of where I sat.

Of where I sat in the middle of a Michigan winter watching snow come down.

For some reason this thought about all that knowledge got to gnaw away at me.

I could know it all.

I could look it all up.

I could see it before my eyes.

But I would never go anywhere.

The library was my fate.

And at that moment, the library was my doom.

I was as depressed as I have ever been.

And I decided to do something about it.

The book Treasure Island came to mind and it stories of pirates and adventure in the Caribbean.

I can’t remember why I was thinking about that book at that time but I had just read up up the life of the author, Robert Louis Stevenson.

I had learned that Mr. Stevenson had died and was buried in Samoa.

And the word Samoa resonated through my soul.

With those vast resources over my head in the library stacks, I searched out everything I could find out about Samoa and American Samoa which, with its capitol of Pago Pago, was an American territory in the South Pacific.

I learned that the United States Department of State or some Washington Department like that maintained the schools in American Samoa.

And I learned that applications for teachers in the schools in American Samoa were being accepted.

A manic mania of pre-internet job application fury took me over as only someone who has sat in the lower levels of a library looking out at a winter storm can understand.

With typewriter and xerox machine I wrote out a resume and letter of application and got it into the mail that night.

There was a bit of romance and wonder and excitement as I walked through the dark snowy Ann Arbor night down to the local post office to drop my envelopes into the night drop box to get the quickest delivery possible to Washington.

There was a lot of satisfaction when I heard the lid of the drop box slam shut.

It was still snowing.

I had one my thick peacoat (which was required it seems that year) thick hat, gloves, scarf and boots and I was standing in the falling snow but in my mind I was barefoot, standing on an island beach in the South Pacific and teaching cute little Samoans about the American Civil War.

I got back to my apartment and started to make plans.

Chief among those plans was that I would be limited in what I would be able to bring along to the Island.

Limited as to what books I could bring.

In my mind, and maybe somewhere on paper, I made a list of the 30 or 40 essential books that would have to be packed.

I made and remade that list over and over in my mind through many dark nights that winter.

Over the weeks several letters arrived for me from Washington.

The first one was proforma and thanked me for the interest.

The 2nd was better as it at least started out Dear Applicant.

The 3rd letter I got was finally addressed to Dear Mr. Hoffman.

It acknowledged receipt of my application and that I did indeed meet all the qualifications necessary for the job.

Based on that, the letter welcomed me to the ‘pool of available applicants’ for teaching positions in the Territory of American Samoa.

I was advised that the pool was ranked by 1st in, 1st out and that as positions were filled, I would move up the list.

In the event that I made it to the top of the list, and something was available, I would be contacted for a further interview.

That was in the January of 1984.

So far as I know, I am still moving up that list.

6.18.2022 – stop this day and night

stop this day and night
with me and possess the good
of the earth and sun

Adapted from Song of Myself – 2, by Walt Whitman.

This passage:

You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

5.31.2022 – as mysterious

as mysterious
as great the perpetual
rhythm of the tides

In “Notes for a Preface“, an essay written by Carl Sandburg for the the book “Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg“, Mr. Sandburg wrote, “The Spanish poet Lorca saw one plain apple infinite as the sea. “The life of an apple when it is a delicate flower to the moment when, golden russet, it drops from the tree into the grass is as mysterious and as great as the perpetual rhythm of the tides . . .

According to Wikipedia: Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca (5 June 1898 – 19 August 1936), known as Federico García Lorca was a Spanish poet, playwright, and theatre director.

García Lorca achieved international recognition as an emblematic member of the Generation of ’27, a group consisting of mostly poets who introduced the tenets of European movements (such as symbolism, futurism, and surrealism) into Spanish literature. He was murdered by Nationalist forces at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. His remains have never been found.

In the poem, Ballad of the Water of the Sea, Lorca writes:

The sea
smiles from far off.
Teeth of foam,
lips of sky.

Folly Field Beach at high tide – Hilton Head Island May 30, 2022

Murdered by the nationalistic or Franco’s forces during the Spanish Civil War, those types of fellers have always had it for the poets and artists and such.

The smart people I guess.

I am reminded of the story of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia.

When they took over Cambodia they knew they had to cut off opposition and the best way to do that was get rid of the smart people, the people who could think, the people who would ask questions and start other people asking questions.

And so they did.

They soldiers of Pol Pot went from town to town and executed all the smart people.

They knew who to get.

They started with anyone wearing glasses.

5.23.2022 – the sky and the sea

the sky and the sea
put on a show, every day
they put on a show

Adapted from Carl Sandburg’s, Thimble Islands, which was published in “Good morning, America” by New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1928.

In searching for the full text of this poem to copy and paste into this essay, I came across a 269 page document from the Office of Education in Washington, DC that had been written by the University of Oregon, titled The Whole Poem Teacher.

The document was identified as a Poetry: Literature Curriculum – Teacher’s Guide.

Printed in 1971, the first two paragraphs of the introduction state:

In the lessons preceding this one, your class has concentrated on various poetic techniques, isolating them more or less from the total fabric of the poem for the purposes of examination and identification. Such a process is necessary, but it is a rather sterile exercise if it stops there. For the goal of all this investigation has been not the ability to identify poetic devices, but to enjoy more fully the experience of reading a poem. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to “put back” all the isolated elements into the whole poem.

To borrow a useful distinction made by the poet:-critic John Ciardi, we want our students to be able to answer not only the question, “What does this poem mean?” but also the question, “How does this poem mean?” Answering the first question only leads to bad paraphrase and moral- abstracting. Answering the first question in terms of the second, on the other hand, leads to close and intelligent reading, to appreciation of the internal dynamics of the poem, and consequently to a far more sensitive perception of the poem’s “meaning.” For in poetry the way something is said is part of what is being said.

Wanting to avoid the introduction tearing out scene of Dead Poets Society, I think this is rather good as it does not impose a scale but plays on the readers interpretation.

How does this poem mean?” and “… in poetry the way something is said is part of what is being said.” is good even as it brackets that oh so ponderous statement, “leads to close and intelligent reading, to appreciation of the internal dynamics of the poem, and consequently to a far more sensitive perception of the poem’s ‘meaning.‘”

The document was part of the Oregon Elementary English Project and according to the first line of the abstract, This curriculum guide is intended to introduce fifth and sixth grade children to the study of poetry.

Fifth and sixth grade children?

All I can say about that is to paraphrase the Book of Psalms, Lord Byron and Stephen Vincent Benét (all at the same time!), By the rivers of Babylon, There I sat down and wept, When I remembered Zion.

Here is the Sandburg poem:


The sky and the sea put on a show
Every day they put on a show
There are dawn dress rehearsals
There are sweet monotonous evening monologues
The acrobatic lights of sunsets dwindle and darken
The stars step out one by one with a bimbo, bimbo.

The red ball of the sun hung a balloon in the west.
And there was half a balloon, then no balloon at all,
And ten stars marched out and ten thousand more,
And the fathoms of the sky far over met the fathoms of the sea far
under, among the thimble islands

In the clear green water of dawn came a float of silver filaments, feelers
circling a pink polyp’s mouth.
The feelers ran out, opened and closed, opened and closed, hungry and
searching, soft and incessant, floating the salt sea inlets sucking the
green sea water as land roses suck the land air

Frozen rock humps, smooth fire-rock humps –
Thimbles on the thumbs of the wives of prostrate sunken
giants –
God only knows how many sleep in the slack of the
seven seas

There in those places
under the sun balloons,
and fathoms, filaments, feelers –

The wind and the rain
sew the years
stitching one year into another