Previous month:
December 2008
Next month:
February 2009

Posts from January 2009

The poetry of hands, 28

For Paulo my writer and worker with the sturdy hands / New Jersey / June 2008

Renovating an old house is a lot like writing —
full of pitfalls and revisions and it goes on and on

~ Heard on a TV show about New Orleans on PBS last night

Memory is like

A bit of snow outlines out the patterns / New Jersey / January 2009

“When I look back I know that, in spite of my desire to reveal the truth about myself, I am adjusting and altering the meaning of this history: memory is like the puppet master who makes the marionette move a little differently every time he takes up the strings. What I am now is not the way I shall see myself 10 or 20 years from now, and if I am foolish enough to try and write another story of my life, it will not be the same as this.”

~ an excerpt from The Grotto by Coral Lansbury

Curly-leaved kale

This week's wonderful bounty / New Jersey / Jan. 2009

I joined an organic co-op a few months ago and get a 15-pound box of fresh organic produce every two weeks. It has been fun cooking with things I've never bought before and tasting really fresh fruits and vegetables — I've tasted the sweetest carrots and celery and now I crave good produce more than I crave Tastykakes. A few things I've learned:
  • How to peel a kiwi: cut the ends off and then slide a spoon between the fruit and the skin to separate them.
  • Kale is wonderful — nutritious (high in anti-oxidants and also anti-inflammatory) and tasty and it has those beautiful curly leaves. I made a thick sausage-potato-kale soup. My mother told me that when my great-grandmother was older that she ate kale and potatoes all the time (she lived into her '90s).
  • I've never liked sweet potatoes very much, but if you grate the sweet potatoes and saute them with chopped onion you have a colorful and addictive dish.
  • Acorn squash, apples, and brown sugar baked together is another delicious combination (boil the squash first to make it easier to get the skin off).
(My apologies to the daikon that wilted in the refrigerator before I got to taste it.)

In today's sharp sparkle

... We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth ... / Obama Inauguration Speech, Washington, DC / January 20, 2009

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp —
praise song for walking forward in that light.

~ Inaugural poem “Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander

She knits with silver thread

A single candle lit in prayer travels outward / New Jersey / Jan. 2009

Making groundless conjectures
she closes her eyes and unmakes time:
she folds and weaves
she knits with silver thread the blanket of life
she unknits the tunic of absence.

dove of expectation
she invents
the bird that sings
when light ends.

~ Penelope by Colombian poet Luz Mary Giraldo

Light up the silence

Guatemalan weaving on my christmas tree helps send K on her way to Guatemala / Jan 2009

The night begins,
when the moon
—Grandmother of the villages—
comes out with her lime-white candle
to light up the silence.

The darkness
hides in the canyons,
the small birds
roll up their songs
and the trees
lie on their own shadows.

The grandmother
who hasn’t slept for centuries
into the eyes of the night.

~ the grandmother by Guatemalan poet Humberto Ak'abal
His poems “speak for a people still close to the earth, whose language allows us to enter a world that still recognizes the divine aliveness of nature.”

I hope they bring their fiddles and guitars


Sing a radical song of protest / New Jersey / Dec. 2008

In the early 1940s Woody Guthrie worked with Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress to compile the Songs of Woody Guthrie. After receiving a copy of his finished book, he wrote a pleased letter to the LOC and included some advice for congress. As our new congress was sworn in this week, I thought his words (and lyrics) timely:

“Dear Library of Congress
    I just got the copy of my song book that you printed up. I got a carbon copy, and about a third carbon at that, but it is pretty fair, so I guess that's all right. I just sort of wanted to write and say that it is about the neatest thing that ever had my name on it.  ...  Is it handy there for congressmen and senators to come in and sing? I hope they bring their fiddles and guitars around and hit off a few of the most radical tunes. They are awful easy to sing, and you can sing them drunk or sober, it don't matter, just a matter of personal choice. I tried them both ways. The senators, too. You can elect just about as good a one one way or the other. I'd like for them to specialy learn to sing #56, Looking for that New Deal Now, which is a good one for the boys to recollect once in a while between poker games ...  True as the average. Woody”  

When them cards was dealt around
Wall Street drawd the Aces down
I'm looking for that New Deal now.
When them cards was shuffled up
The Workin' Folks they lost the Pot
I'm a-lookin' for that New Deal now.

~ Lyrics, “Looking for that New Deal Now” by Woody Guthrie

Like a door, opening

Finding his yellowing love notes takes me back to a time before he set sail for "strange and distant countries" / New Jersey

When I take your hand
It is like a door, opening . . .

A garden . . .
A road leading out through a
     Mediterranean landscape . . .

Finally: a smell of salt,
the port,
A ship leaving for strange and
     distant countries.

~ "Sometimes" by Thomas McGrath