Wednesday, April 30, 2008

American Sentences: April 30, 08

Another generation of females captivates my husband

as our granddaughter watches over, arms folded, index finger on cheek

when he bends down to fix the bike sprocket, or sorts through the kitchen drawers

to find the wrench to tighten the training wheel bolts, and I can see

him as the big brother to his sister in '53, try to

patch the family with hand tools, or later, in '63, hood open

to his mother's Ford as he leans in to check the oil on dipstick,

the water level in the radiator so she can drive away.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

American Sentences: April 29, 08

Is this how it feels to be homeless, without a tent, sleeping on
the sidewalk, wishing for hooves, how they chipped the grass when I couldn't run?

Breaking bread for jays, molted eagle feather drifts to rhododendron.

Monday, April 28, 2008

American Sentences: April 28, 08

I entice you to eat oatmeal, flax seed, blueberries with cold milk;
the feed of our ancestors who told us they'd meet us again, someday.

Kirk, were you trying to tell me the story about the little frog
in Indonesia?
Be there in a minute.
That lives in the swift streams and breathes through its skin to keep it from becoming too buoyant, swept away.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

American Sentences: April 27, 08

And might I see made whole all crumbled things*--scent of anisette, the spot

on the tablecloth, loin marrow in the wooden bowl's crevise, pocket-

knife whittles and the hand's gesture when the match is struck,
sticks smouldering

in straw, or the arms overhead when clothes are hung out to bleach of sky--

for what is broken but the brain's sorrowful attempt to make meaning--

New Orleans a theatre of wrought iron scenes amidst clutter, the uncounted

boxed losses, reliquary of aftermath; or maybe envision

suburban houses, how trees and rocks are planted, the mother dragging

manure sacks to the yard now laboring in cubicle, the concrete

fiber and pollen, remembrance of elders in the distance, great-grand

parents like vintage poems that will wait years to be found, translated and

published, and to ripen like figs plums apricots bruised by the summer

hail, autumn's scrim, entwined within the red cedar scent, scat of blue

jay staccato drunk on holly berry; fragmant of the first family--

the children's oval faces at the picture window on St. Francis,

122nd, or was it 42nd; their view to the street

clogged by camellias and the old growth dogwood the builders let stand.

* Please find below the poem by Jose Kozer from which this writing is inspired.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

American Sentences: April 26, 08

Jenn says she will dance, and I believe, dazzle the audience with verve.

Jose and Mark on Whidbey I can't reach, the Cuban poet, his translator.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Poem of the Week: Last will & testament by Jose Kozer

Last will & testament

The truth is I only care about words, not every word (I don't care for
the word word, if truth be told) snow isn't a word I
care for (I don't care to be cold, and snow--I mean to
say lyric snow--has become so commonplace) one
less word now: and for the letter n there are others.
A multitude. Nabob, an exotic word--not the least
chance to use it, a sonorous word, but there's an over-
abundance of sonorous words, we can discard it:
what's left? The fugitive image of any word, lack-
ing an image leaves a concept (leaping inside us) it
crumbles: in truth I care not at all for the word noth-
ing, abstractions leave me limp with boredom, tepid
tepid abstractions: I want to see and touch (above
all touch); I want to sniff the spoor of the word buck-
wheat, my god, how many combinations: the words
are mill-stones turning; whatever word a mill vane
broken into syllables; and at the edge the dying,
what does it say. Marah, marah: is that what it says?
I listen closely, nothing but interference; and I taste,
I crush a stem of purslane against my palate, but it
clarifies or tells me nothing now: here on the edge,
manna, masquerade are the remaining words, back-
ward, or forward to this place, at the edge: what, to
what to speak with words: listen to me, the bread
that I've put on the table parts, down to the center
of its husk, brings forth ash (ants brought forth once
more): and then, what. Things are obscured by so
much thought, classification and description, de-
scription doesn't bring the chameleon back to the
chameleon, doesn't bring back the mother, doesn't
bring anything back to us, let's clear the way for the
jacaranda of this life, I am homet (the lizard): noth-
ing. A green thing that lost its tail. The masquerade
of her whose veil is dropped, see the face's skull,
the body's bones, skin of golgotha peeled away now:
the donnybrook I was once, now I sit down and slide
inwards: outside a lovely day. Euphrates. Much dis-
tance. A god of nickle or zinc can't cope with people,
nitrogen has been enough to keep me alive. Spuri-
ous, but alive. With some or another word but not
with every word. The word capuli tells me nothing,
it has nothing to do with me; dying, for instance, I
can't adjust to its destiny: nor, finally, to the dictio-
nary--too vast. At the final moment any word will
do; linen, for instance, at that moment: the ark on
one's shoulder, bread on the table, hand on head,
and at the head's point of transcendence, be it the
word wheatfield that I hear, for instance, in the yel-
low crossing of axles: or be it bread, by omission.
And might I see made whole all crumbled things.

from Stet, selected poems by Jose Kozer, translated by Mark Weiss, Junction Press

Thursday, April 24, 2008

American Sentences: April 24, 08

And the call of the sea is mirrored in the touch of the velvet plush

manta-rays, how they linger in the shallow aquarium touch-tank

at Monterey Bay; flat, wizened souls, expectant and hopeful, perhaps,

if hope can be read into this exchange, as though something can come of

petting beneath the surface saltwater where these interactions take

place between this primordial fish and us, who lean over the lip

of the touch-tank, restless and yet lingering, as when reading the page.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

American Sentences: April 21, 08

On the walk I'm the elk returning to the path that leads down to the

water, winds up to the overlook, the mountain precipice, mountains

in the distance between here on the summit of Denny Park and there--

the Olympic Peninsula where we took shelter once, ran away

from routine, before I know I'll miss this plat--covered now in asphalt,

built-up, million dollar houses, no kids playing in the cul de sac.

Again I return like the elk who looks beyond the set of tri-levels,

remembers in her genes how the tree stands, the rains fall, wind's caress.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Our Community from the Caring Perspective

Michael's been gone for eight weeks. Where did two months go?
Well, we've been busy! Walking the dog, strolling the baby, dancing and gardening with Maizie--and cooking, shopping and playing at the local parks while we wait for letters, phone calls and e-mail from Michael.

At church, Pastor Walter John Boris encouraged us to bring a candle to light during Sunday service. This is the tradition that was started when his son deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. The candle is my reminder of the connection we share as we go on to live our lives here in Washington and hope for the best during this prolonged separation.

And Maizie cries less as the weeks lenghten into months and seems to have found ways to connect more deeply with family members such as Auntie Angie and Grandfather Kirk. Neighbors have offered to mow the lawn like Gordon, and a group of Christy's women friends takes turns in bringing dinner every other week.

And there's a new family child care provider, a young mother with two children of a similar age to my grandchildren who lives within walking distance. The children attend three afternoons a week. This is community--neighbors who help, affordable quality child care available and family who pop in to share a meal, fold towels and wash a toddler's hands and face. Perhaps if Michael had not deployed to Iraq we wouldn't have had the opportunity to know our community from the caring perspective.

American Sentences: April 21, 08

Langston Hughes believes it's sad to write only of snow, rainbows and trees.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

American Sentences: April 20, 08

Learning something new does not mean, if you're a chef, cooking from recipes.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

American Sentences: April 19, 08

Snow won't stop me driving North leaving Portland service learning conference.

You still good lookin' e'en you don't spare me three dollars for McDonald's.

Powell's, Pearl District & 23rd Street-mango-gelato twilight

Poem of the Week: The Morse Code of Love by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

The Morse Code of Love

On the New Jersey Turnpike, I drive
toward the Barron Art Center.
The refineries spew acrid smoke
over the houses and people.
I wonder, do those who live here
stop smelling the odor that makes me
want to hold my breath
till I've passed Elizabeth?

I get off the Turnpike,
follow signs to Route 9,
lose the exit
and drift through grimy, honky tonk
towns lined with McDonald's and Burger King,
Goodrich Tires and Hess Gas Stations.

When I arrive at the reading, the Center
is not air-conditioned, and we are crowded
into a small room. My friend, the poet,
reads well, savoring the drama of his words.
Sometimes another friend accompanies him
on the flute, the sound plaintive and sad
in the still air. I think of Jennifer
alone in Washington and wish I had not missed
her call. I try to imagine her
sleeping in her dorm room trying
to make it lovely. I wonder if her
boyfriend has delivered the final axe stroke.
As I drive through Niagaras of rain past Rahway State
and bars that are seedy and neon-lit, I look for signs
that seem to have vanished, and call out to her
in the Morse Code of love. Daugher, imagine
that I am holding you and that this loneliness, too,
can be soothed and comforted.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

American Sentences: April 16, 08

Pavements fraught with petals all day I see driving the streets of Kirkland.

Whitman would've noticed sidewalks of New York, details of faces

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

American Sentences: April 15, 08

Dear Mom, 2 AM, I'm crying--just read your poems, you're awesome, and mine.

Monday, April 14, 2008

American Sentences: April 14, 08

Somehow, the Tupperware, like exploded, in your backpack to find this line.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

American Sentences: April 13, 08

I compose these lines with camellias in my peripheral vision.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

American Sentences: April 12, 08

When I see you again, orchids in porcelain and subtle saffron

speckling the bamboo tangles, a backdrop the way stories unravel

and mystery unfurls, genetic fragility gap-toothed and

bereft of straight meanings, longing to hold the pith, its tension to find

the hearth, rhythm of salt and wave, rind and core, ying/yang, the play between.

To become a real player I will follow the notes of the ne,

ancient instrument of Persia that demands the notch to the front teeth

for only with the notch can I link you after reaching with my song.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Poem of the Week: Author's Prayer by Ilya Kaminsky

If I speak for the dead, I must leave
this animal of my body,

I must write the same poem over and over,
for an empty page is the white flag of their surrender.

If I speak for them, I must walk on the edge
of myself, I must live as a blind man

who runs through rooms without
touching the furniture.

Yes, I live. I can cross the streets asking "What year is it?"
I can dance in my sleep and laugh

in front of the mirror.
Even sleep is a prayer, Lord,

I will praise your madness, and
in a language not mine, speak

of music that wakes us, music
in which we move. For whatever I say

is a kind of petition, and the darkest
days must I praise.

from Dancing in Odessa, by Ilya Kaminsky, Tupelo Press

American Sentences: April 11, 08

Wren in the boxwood--the taupe beauty, wiles away her woes, and ours.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Community Partnership Fair--May 7th

We're in the planning phase for the fair in May to gather our students, faculty and community partners to celebrate our accomplishments over the past year. I'm making a poster: Relationships Take Time.

American Sentences: April 10, 08

I will fight for my country, but I won't lie.--Zora Neal Hurston

Identity formation, a life-long process, begins in the home.

Story--tell yours, hear mine, so we'll depart from one another transformed.

Wolfer, killed in green zone, knew my son-in-law, both married with daughters

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

American Sentences: April 9, 08

In father's cultural volcano there's exile, the outsider.

Maverick Dad--how will I ever thank you for this rich legacy?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

American Sentences: April 8, 08

And wish for swan-down answers like E. B. White's eloquent ten-cent words.

Network down, CD broken, why is this lullaby a purple moon?

Today is rainy rain and the call of the future in cellophane.

Monday, April 7, 2008

American Sentences: April 7, 08

When I see you again it will be when the flashflood river renders

talismans from the strewn. I'll stoop, gather the husk, the twig, a feather

within range of the call of Canada geese over the Skykomish,

day disappearing behind ridge, stones of stars, pale, on the dark dome,

memory a reel of black and white film spliced with particulars.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

American Sentences: April 6, 08

American scents: Nestle's, marshmallow and Tang, Wriggley's spearmint gum.

Come to me, my Coney Island Baby, or at least, send an email.

I swoon to the MoTown tune. Where's my boyfriend with the tennis-blue-eyes?

What does this contribute of worth to the dialogue? I want to know.

A hit: Asian noodles with soy sauce--mango, cauliflower and peas.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

American Sentences: April 5, 08

You'll notice imperfections that don't matter.
Then the lyrical lines.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Weekly Poem: Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande by Jimmy Santiago Baca

On my walks in the bosque
I have collected woodpecker feathers
and have enough to make a feather fan for a friend.
Since she has told me she cannot settle down,
and has told me she is an orphan too,
this fan will be a power talisman
to help her find a place to settle in
as the woodpecker makes its home in hard wood,
let it give her power to chisel herself out a home
some place, some city, some day.

Do not waste time with the fearful
bimbos clacking cheetah teeth
for whimsical pleasures--
love from deep in the heart-wells
where ancient sands glimmer up through the water--
pray to the woodpecker
to help us make a home
in the hard wood of our words,
pray to the woodpecker
to bless us
making our actions, behavior and gestures,
entrances for people seeking refuge from the rain.

last two stanzas from #27, Poems Along the Rio Grande, Jimmy Santiago Baca, New Directions Press.

American Sentences: April 4, 08

From whom did I steal this Papermate pen I write with this morning?

Last night, printing syllabi, mood lifts;
a smile when colleage thanks me.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

American Sentences: April 3, 08

Loveletter, the name she gave to her boy,
each day its meaning.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

American Sentences: April 2, 08

Flowers, when I cross the bridge to morning, sound of one petal falling.

I took them in, sprigs of camellia, leathery leaves laden with buds.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

American Sentences: April 1, 08

Icy windshield leaving for home as workers swing open the gate.

My youngest wears yellow to nephew's birthday, brings him Spiderman book.