5.2.2022 – seen all of the sights

seen all of the sights
it is a little too dark
to see any more

Adapted from a passage from a book I read a long time ago.

It is the final paragraph to the autobiography of one of my favorite authors, Bruce Catton, of Benzonia, Michigan.

After a career of being a Civil War historian and 20 or more books and countless articles on the war picking up a Pulitzer Prize for the writing along the way, Mr. Catton wrote Waiting for the Morning Train – A Michigan Boyhood (1972 – Doubleday).

Writing about the war, Mr. Catton experienced all that this country had to offered at it lowest point and he was also able to maintain an optimistic outlook.

With the poetry of the written paragraph, Mr. Catton closed his auto-biography with this passage.

But you know how it can be, waiting at the junction for the night train. You have seen all of the sights, and it is a little too dark to see any more even if you did miss some, and the waiting room is uncomfortable and the time of waiting is dreary, long-drawn, with a wind from the cold north whipping curls of fog past the green lamps on the switch stands. Finally, far away yet not so far really, the train can be heard; the doctor (or station agent) hears it first, but finally you hear it yourself and you go to the platform to get on. And there is the headlight, shining far down the track, glinting off the steel rails that, like all parallel lines, will meet in infinity, which is after all where this train is going. And there by the steps of the sleeping car is the Pullman conductor, checking off his list. He has your reservation, and he tells you that your berth is all ready for you. And then, he adds the final assurance as you go down the aisle to the curtained bed: “I’ll call you in plenty of time in the morning.”

The final assurance as you go down the aisle to the curtained bed: “I’ll call you in plenty of time in the morning.”

5.1.2022 – go down to the edge

go down to the edge
of the sea – how everything shines
in the morning light

Based on the poem, Breakage, by Mary Oliver.

Thank you to my sister Lisa, to telling me about Ms. Oliver.

Here is the poem.

Breakage by Mary Oliver.

I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
full of moonlight.

Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

go down to the edge
of the sea – How everything shines
in the morning light

It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words, thousands of words
First you figure out what each one means by itsel

– – – – – – –

Readers of this blog may remember that from time to time I struggle with the weight of effort of producing a daily Haiku and any thoughts I may have about the words and time that went in the Haiku that day.

This daily schedule of missing a day can bring on a personal mental paralysis wherein writing these entries becomes impossible.

I learned to deal with this by not dealing with it and let it go.

Then when I look at my register of entries and see blank days with no post, I will grab a topic or book or poem for a source and produce a series of Haiku to fill in those blank dates.

This is one of the great benefits of this effort being my blog and my blog, my rules.

It IS cricket because I say it is.

It is ‘according to Hoyle’ because I say it is.

Thus I have this series of haiku based on the poem ‘Breakage’ by Mary Oliver.

4.29.2022 – good bad that’s ugly

good bad that’s ugly
quest for anonymity
labeled by the world

So much anger.

So much frustration.

We’re tired of being cooped up, tired of being careful, tired of being scared. Our collective fatigue is making some people careless –

However, facing this fatigue is important for our personal health and for beating the coronavirus that has shaken American life so completely. Many people understand this, which adds to their exhaustion and stress.

“This is a real challenge,” said Kaye Hermanson, UC Davis Health psychologist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “There are no easy solutions.”

This is a real challenge!

There are no easy solutions.

I just want to hide.

I crave anonymity.

So I go one facebook.

Thats good?

Thats bad?

Well.

It sure is ugly.

4.28.2022 – I take the deep breath

I take the deep breath
how unlikely that death is
a hole in the ground

Based on the poem, Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond, by Mary Oliver.

Again, a big thank you to my sister Lisa, to telling me about Ms. Oliver.

Feel free to touch base and tell me what to read.

For me, herons, seeing a heron, has been and still is a harbinger of good fortune, a good omen.

Not that you saw herons all that often in West Michigan where I grew up but maybe that was part of it.

And not that I really believe in good omens but more in line that seeing one made me feel that, surely, this wasn’t as black a world as I made it out to be.

And I have had enough Latin and roman history to not think about omens and not smile inwardly.

It is in the movie Spartacus that Roman Senator Sempronius Gracchus, played by Charles Laughton, walks out of the Senate and buys a pigeon saying “Let’s make a good old-fashioned sacrifice.

Still I cannot see a heron and somehow, not feel better.

I also cannot see a heron that I do not think of the time that Doug, my college roommate, and I were driving back to Ann Arbor, Michigan on I-96 and a heron dove out of the sky and swooped low, just above the median between the two sides of the freeway in a glide..

As I remember it, we were going about 60 miles an hour.

This was way back in the ‘Drive 55’ era and it took forever to get to Ann Arbor.

The heron passed us.

Here is the poem.

Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond by Mary Oliver.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

– – – – – – –

Readers of this blog may remember that from time to time I struggle with the weight of effort of producing a daily Haiku and any thoughts I may have about the words and time that went in the Haiku that day.

This daily schedule of missing a day can bring on a personal mental paralysis wherein writing these entries becomes impossible.

I learned to deal with this by not dealing with it and let it go.

Then when I look at my register of entries and see blank days with no post, I will grab a topic or book or poem for a source and produce a series of Haiku to fill in those blank dates.

This is one of the great benefits of this effort being my blog and my blog, my rules.

It IS cricket because I say it is.

It is ‘according to Hoyle’ because I say it is.

Thus I have this series of haiku based on the poem ‘Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond‘ by Mary Oliver.

4.26.2022 – barnacle scarred

barnacle scarred
nothing at all whole or shut
but tattered split

Based on the poem, Breakage, by Mary Oliver.

Thank you to my sister Lisa, to telling me about Ms. Oliver.

Here is the poem.

Breakage by Mary Oliver.

I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
full of moonlight.

Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

go down to the edge
of the sea – How everything shines
in the morning light

It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words, thousands of words
First you figure out what each one means by itsel

– – – – – – –

Readers of this blog may remember that from time to time I struggle with the weight of effort of producing a daily Haiku and any thoughts I may have about the words and time that went in the Haiku that day.

This daily schedule of missing a day can bring on a personal mental paralysis wherein writing these entries becomes impossible.

I learned to deal with this by not dealing with it and let it go.

Then when I look at my register of entries and see blank days with no post, I will grab a topic or book or poem for a source and produce a series of Haiku to fill in those blank dates.

This is one of the great benefits of this effort being my blog and my blog, my rules.

It IS cricket because I say it is.

It is ‘according to Hoyle’ because I say it is.

Thus I have this series of haiku based on the poem ‘Breakage’ by Mary Oliver.

4.25.2022 – lines of buried bones

lines of buried bones
unpaid waiting debt – sound of
a gentle sobbing

ANZAC Day, 2022.

From the poem, Anzac Cove by Leon Gellert.

He enlisted with the Australian Imperial Forces 10th Battalion within weeks of the outbreak of the Great War and sailed for Cairo on 22 October 1914. He landed at Ari Burnu Beach, Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, was wounded and repatriated as medically unfit in June 1916. He attempted to re-enlist but was soon found out. He returned to teaching at Norwood Public School.

Here is his poem.

There’s a lonely stretch of hillocks:
There’s a beach asleep and drear:
There’s a battered broken fort beside the sea.
There are sunken trampled graves:
And a little rotting pier:
And winding paths that wind unceasingly.
There’s a torn and silent valley;
There’s a tiny rivulet
With some blood upon the stones beside its mouth.
There are lines of buried bones:
There’s an unpaid waiting debt:
There’s a sound of gentle sobbing in the south.

North Beach – Evening Nov 5. 1915 by Leslie Hore

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”. Observed on 25 April each year, Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in the First World War (1914–1918). (from Wikipedia)

4.20.2022 – by means of which sounds

by means of which sounds
represented, language
is made visible

Adapted from the book, Facts for Everybody by Robert Kemp Philp,  1863, T. Nelson and Sons, Paternoster Row, London.

The fact from Facts for Everybody that I am quoting is the listed under ALPAHABET.

Mr. Philp writes thusly:

ALPHABET. The most important invention of man, ascribed to a Phœnician, by means of which sounds are represented, and language made visible to the eye by a few simple characters.

Previous to this invention, pictures, or hieroglyphics, were used to record events; and letters were, probably, a generalization of these.

At this day, the Chinese have no letters, but have 214 keys to classes of words, distinguished by the number of strokes combined in each, The English language has 26 letters; the French 23; Hebrew 22; Greek 24; the Latin 22; the Arabic 28.

The figures used in arithmetic are an universal character, and many attempts have been made by the learned to introduce an universal character into language, but at present (1863 remember) there are 200 or 300 various alphabets.

The most important invention of man?

But what about …

But what …

But …

The most important invention of man!

Language made visible.

I am not sure that anything I have written or quoted (including Mr. Hemingway’s Novel in 6 words) has packed so much into so few words.

Language made visible.

I recall another quote in a post quoting Alain de Botton.

I began word painting because such a factual description seemed of little help to me in pinning down why I found the scene so impressive.

Word painting with language made visible through use of the alphabet.

Word painting in 2022 using a keyboard of letters developed in 1870 and a description describing language made visible written in 1863 about an invention that dates back perhaps to 1000’s of years before the birth of Christ.

The most important invention of man.

I am okay with that.

4.19.2022 – then, even before

then, even before
I was six, books began
to happen to me

Adapted from this passage in the book, The Big Sea, An Autobiography by Langston Hughes.

In Topeka, as a small child, my mother took me with her to the little vine-covered library on the grounds of the Capitol.

There I first fell in love with librarians, and I have been in love with them ever since- those very nice women who help you find wonderful books!

The silence inside the library, the big chairs, and long tables, and the fact that the library was always there and didn’t seem to have a mortgage on it, or any sort of insecurity about it – all of that made me love it.

And right then, even before I was six, books began to happen to me, so that after a while, there came a time when I believed in books more than in people – which, of course, was wrong.

That was why, when I went to Africa, I threw all the books into the sea.

The silence inside the library, the big chairs, and long tables, and the fact that the library was always there and didn’t seem to have a mortgage on it, or any sort of insecurity about it – all of that made me love it.

Not any sort of insecurity about it.

I’ll pass over any discussion about working at a library and being aware of tax-payer funding and other such insecurities to focus on the magic and wonderfulness of that line, ‘[didn’t have] any sort of insecurity about it.’

Mr. Bono sings, “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Sometimes what you are looking for is right under your nose.

A place with out any sort of insecurity about it would check a lot of boxes on anyone’s search form.

My motto,
As I live and learn,
is:
Dig And Be Dug
In Return.

  • Langston Hughes

4.18.2022 – hardly anyone

hardly anyone
today who remembers that
famous day and year

Patriot’s Day, 2022.

Paul Revere’s Ride

LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light, —
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Cover of piano music with a colorful, cartoon image of a man on horseback with other men observing

Then he said, “Good night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
Wanders and watches with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade, —
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay, —
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle-girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry-tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How the British Regulars fired and fled, —
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farm-yard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, —
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow