Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Emily Pumpkinson

Lately, in my early morning drive, the full October moon, setting in the west, has been wearing a tippet made of tulle in the form of gauzy white cloud cover. Here is Emily Pumpkinson wearing hers!

My daughter took these pictures for me, and I got the decoupage idea from this excellent article on "Bookish Pumpkins," though I failed to watch the tutorial and risked spray gluing my fingers together.

But I had lots of fun, and will dispose of Emily before she rots, saying a sad goodbye to all those buttons.

See the ghostly little halo under her nether parts? That's made of tulle, too!

And here she is with Judge Otis Gourd on our kitchen table. Happy at last! He's in a stiff collar and black bow tie, and his wife has died, clearing the way for their romance.

Indeed, here is a photo from their hasty imaginary wedding. It's a little blurry, as they were in a hurry!

And if faceless or poetry-faced pumpkins aren't scary enough for you, go on over to the Poetry of Fear at Escape Into Life.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Moon Like a Peach

This morning I saw the big old orange full moon sitting like a peach on the breakfast table of the western sky. I'd seen it rising, sweet and white, in the east last night out in the country. It's the Hunter's Moon for some, and the Blackberry Moon for others, as noted in a previous blog entry that uses this same lovely still life painting by Jonathan Koch. (Thank you, Jonathan!) For some, it's the Kindly Moon!

I saw Cloud Atlas this weekend because I couldn't help it--a noon matinee. Loved seeing it in a movie theatre, despite the loudness of the speakers, because it is meant to be a spectacle. I was moved, despite the cliches. I pondered this later, thinking, hey, a whole huge bunch of people will feel affirmed by the cliches, even if I cringe a little at their utterance. In a way, of course, it fits the character(s) who speak them. Example: fabricant born to serve in fast food restaurant who then reads all of human history off floating computer screens. See what I mean?

Anyhoo, I loved the book and enjoyed the movie. And here's another Jonathan Koch painting, also used previously (recently), Cloud Study.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cloud Study + Wind

Very windy even in central Illinois today, as Hurricane Sandy blows up a storm in the east, smacking Cuba and Jamaica on its way. The sun was shining here till noon, but now it's clouding over, with rain likely in the afternoon and snow possible next week. Wha--?!

But, for now, this peaceful Cloud Study, by Jonathan Koch.

Happy 20th Birthday to the Beyond the Books Foundation, celebrating with a gala tonight. This local organization gives grants to local teachers for innovative projects in the two area public school systems.

Happy New-Book-Out to lots of poets: Laura E. Davis, Braiding the Storm (Finishing Line Press); Carol Berg, Ophelia Unraveling (dancing girl press); and perhaps you saw yesterday's link to Sarah J. Sloat's Homebodies (Hyacinth Girl Press).

If you don't happen to be homebodies today, be sure to take your umbrellas, and hold onto your hats!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quite at Home

It's Poetry Wednesday over at Escape Into Life, a poetry blog day for me, so I've posted a mini-review of Sarah J. Sloat's wonderful chapbook, Homebodies (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2012). The amazing art, there and here, is by Kim Joon, one of EIL's feature artists. Look for a scary-poetry feature at EIL on Halloween, and a new solo feature in early November.

It may go up to 80 today, so it'll probably be a home and garden day for me, a chance to harvest some more balsam seeds. Maroon mums are blooming but need to be propped up after recent hard rains. The lawn is covered with yellow sweetgum leaves, but it's been a little too wet or windy to rake. Um, the neighbors managed some raking, but not me.
My daughter has a powder puff flag football game tonight, to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation, about which I have very mixed feelings. I am glad to raise money for breast cancer research, but I tend now to choose other ways. Including postage stamps. She wore a bright pink shirt to school, and I saw the other senior girls arriving in bright pink, as well. I think she doesn't want us in the stands for this, but we'll see.

Her volleyball team played its last game last night, losing in Regionals, but she had a great game, so I'm glad she ended her season on a high note!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Perspective, Curiosity

It's a blue sky day in central Illinois, and I did get to walk out into the yellow leaves today, and the red ones, orange, brown, and still many green, as is the grass, a joy after our summer drought. Sugar Creek has running water in it, pebbles, bubbles, and fallen leaves.

Speaking of leaves on water, here is a live link to one of the pictures Joel Gillespie gave us in the comments section of the Sweetgum Sadness post: Sweet Gum Leaves on Pond in Columbia (South Carolina). Thanks, Joel!

And here's another, showing front and back of sweetgum leaves, in Greensboro, North Carolina, the bright orange and bright yellow that abounds right now, though our own sweetgum tree is all yellow, with moments of light green.

The day is full of beauty and awe, and I walked home filled with another kind of awe and another perspective. Tasha Dunn, a scientist, was guest speaker in church, showing us various pictures of the universe from various telescopes with various techniques--pictures in the ultraviolet light spectrum, pictures where colors match certain kinds of atoms, and, in general, mosaic or collage pictures created from combining the information of multiple pictures. Plus the famous Earthrise photo from the Apollo 8 mission. Seeing an earthrise from the moon, instead of a sunrise from the earth, is an interesting perspective.

And seeing the earth as a dot on a sunbeam, as Carl Sagan said, is also awesome! Thanks, Tasha!

Coming around the corner into my own neighborhood, I saw the Mars rover Curiosity sitting on the curb, waiting for the garbageman. Surely not! Surely this was something else, perhaps one of those machines for rolling up a garden hose. Or the backstop of a dismantled driveway basketball hoop. Or the two things side by side seen from an odd perspective.

Anyhoo, it made my day!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sweetgum Sadness

It's gorgeous out there these days, whether in rain or sun, the yellow leaves coming on. We have tulip poplar and sweetgum trees, plenty of bright yellow. As the season changes, I am open to sadness. Because of the beauty. And change itself: the green releasing the tree unto its true colors.

Sweetgum leaves here and here, if you're clicking, but I hope you can go for a walk with the leaves. And here is a beautiful floating tulip poplar leaf at the blog of Joel Gillespie.

I think I'm a little sad, too, because I finished Valis, by Philip K. Dick--wonderful, hilarious, dark, and full of knowledge about ancient religions & extraterrestrials. And human nature.

Quoting him from the official website:

"The core of my writing is not art but truth. Thus what I tell is the truth, yet I can do nothing to alleviate it, either by deed or explanation. Yet this seems somehow to help a certain kind of sensitive troubled person, for whom I speak. I think I understand the common ingredient in those whom my writing helps: they cannot or will not blunt their own intimations about the irrational, mysterious nature of reality, &, for them, my corpus is one long ratiocination regarding this inexplicable reality, an integration & presentation, analysis & response & personal history."

Uh oh. This probably means I am "a certain kind of sensitive troubled person" but one who enjoys commas around an ampersand. And bright yellow leaves.


Synchronicity update: new issue (Nurture) of Glasschord just went up, with 4 of my poems in it, some about golden leaves. Much to see, read, and listen to in this and all issues of Glasschord!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Catastrophe Theory

OK, so yesterday's blog entry wasn't really about It, that Stephen King novel, but today's blog entry is really (sort of) about Catastrophe Theory, a new chapbook by Susan Yount (which I have ordered and eagerly await from Hyacinth Girl Press.) That is, the new feature up at Escape Into Life features two poems from that book, other poems that scare me, and scary art by Joseba Eskubi, some of which you can also see here.

There's a scary face inside that first collapsing house, for instance. I got chills when I realized it was there. Because there's a scary guy inside Yount's poem "Catastrophe Theory," too! Look for more scary poems, including another by Yount, in a special Halloween feature later this month at Escape Into Life.

Yount's book cover and another of the Eskubi paintings show burning houses. One of my childhood fears was house fire, and it came true in adulthood, but we all survived, so these images and poems really get to me. Of course, there's other scary stuff in the poems, so brace yourself.

Meanwhile, life has plenty of good stuff going on it. Last night was Senior Night at the high school, the last home game for my daughter's volleyball team. Sweetness and school colors--orange and black--and lots of team spirit, school spirit, and fan support. We are very proud of our girl.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


This is not about Stephen King's novel, It, nor the scary 2-part movie/mini-series based on it. (Heh, "it." Get it?!) This is not even about It, the 1927 film starring Clara Bow, the original "It girl," though understanding the  importance of the word "it" in that helps to understand the "it" in this (and helps establish the free use rationale for this poster of that film!) ("It" as opposed to "that," as in That Girl, for instance, an ABC sitcom about another "It girl," played by Marlo Thomas.) (Wait. What?!)

Anyhoo, yesterday I posted a link to the new issue of Eclectica and my poem "Blackberry Moon" in it. Over on Facebook, a friend asked if the "it" in a line of the poem referred to the moon or the garden hose. And that is the subject of today's blog!*

As you can see if you scroll down this Poetry Contents page, the sentence containing the line is highlighted as an excerpt from that poem. In the excerpt, the "it" seems, grammatically, and from the only evidence provided there, to refer to the moon itself, the blackberry moon, black as a snake:

When I went to look for the blackberry

moon, it lay uncoiled there, a hard
slick snake.

But in the poem itself, these lines are preceded by others that provide more evidence and another interpretation of the "it."

I'd dragged the garden hose here and there
all the unknown day.

So, in the narrative logic of the poem, the "it" could refer to the uncoiled garden hose, left in the yard "all the unknown day," as the speaker didn't know rain would creep in overnight (which is how the poem begins, if we continue to go backwards, as I often do--born that way). The more precise and correct grammar of the sentence is suspended (like the word "blackberry," hanging off the end of a line and over the "moon" it modifies and over a stanza break...though not in the centered excerpt on the Poetry contents page, which loses the gap and compresses the grammar to the precisely correct kind...for a moment. This is why form is inextricable from content in poetry, and why poetry drives some people a little crazy! If they weren't already born that way.) Two things can happen simultaneously in the poem then: the "it" can be the moon or the hose.  And then, oddly enough, the moon, as well as the hose, can be a snake.

My close-reading friend asked, next, whether this would be the new moon or a sliver, and also about the size of snakes that could lie curled in a basket, which sent me on a Cleopatra journey in my mind (to become a geographical journey in November, though not to Egypt--to Ohio, instead--wait. What?) and the answer, from evidence in the poem, might support the new moon, as the only light comes from the interior of the house, or another phase, with clouds covering the moon (the rain of the opening line). Also, the sky is a really big basket. Also, the line "What light there was from the inside shining out" seems also to have emotional and/or spiritual content in the poem, as well as a concrete effect on the new trash can. (See poem.) (The new trash cans are huge, but not as big as the basket of sky.)

But back to "it." I don't want to trick or mislead the reader, so it was a risk to use "it" in this way. I do want to help the reader to pay very close attention to the words and other choices on the page, as this attentiveness is I think crucial not just to appreciating and interpreting poetry, but to appreciating and responding to life itself. (And why else would I write?)

I think a close reader of poetry can hold the garden hose in his/her mind and the hidden moon in her/his mind long enough to see and imagine both a "snake" in the grass and a coiled and uncoiled moon in the sky, and to wonder whether some things are "meant to be kept hidden" or not, and why, and not just trash cans, and so on. I think if we look at and listen to the world attentively enough, it comes alive with possibility and full of wonder, whether the moon is visible or not. And when this happens, even the ordinary acts of watering a garden, taking out the garbage, and wishing on a star are extraordinary and full of beauty and joy. But, hey, that's just me. Wait. What?! Oh, surely it's you, too.

And, by the way, some snakes are egg eaters. Take a look at the blackberry moon on this giant egg, part of the fabulous Faberge Big Egg Hunt in London!

*Darn it! (Heh, "it." Get it?!) I should have called this "The Moon or the Garden Hose." But then we wouldn't have Clara Bow or Marlo Thomas to look at, although Cleopatra probably would have gotten herself in here, thanks to Shakespeare's asp. (Heh. Shakespeare saved her asp.) Cleopatra was definitely the "It girl" of her time--the one with phenomenal magnetism! What is "it"? It's hard to define, but it absolutely attracts.

If you are still here, thank you. It means you are coiled in my origami brain. Heaven help us.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Blackberry Moon

My love affair with the moon continues in the fall issue of Eclectica, up today. I have two moon poems in it, "Cusp" and "Blackberry Moon," the latter coming from the American Indian (Choctaw) name for the October full moon, according to this interesting list of moon names.

That list also gives the English Medieval and Neo Pagan name of Blood Moon to the full October moon, which gave rise to my poem "Blue Blood Moon" in Stirring last year around this time! The blue moon is the second full moon in a month, so the blue blood moon is when that happens in October...if you are medieval or a neo pagan. Or a poet like me, in love with the moon and the names of the moon.

I realize, in a Random Coinciday kind of way, that the moon, along with a man walking on it, is also in my poem "The Towns," announced here recently, in the new online magazine the museum of americana. Check it out!

Of course the September or the October moons are the Harvest Moon in some cultures, or the Harvest Moon and Hunter's Moon in colonial American culture. Our full moon is due October 29, I see, and will be hanging around, if slightly shaved, on Halloween.

Meanwhile, here is a peach looking like a full moon, with blackberries and a walnut, by Jonathan Koch. And a round-as-the-moon image of blackberry blossoms from Wikipedia, and some blackberry fruits (also thanks to Wikipedia, and Fir0002).

Happy harvesting, happy hunting, and happy poetry reading and submitting, if you are so inclined. And happy blackberry eating.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Towns, The Barns

Yesterday a new online journal published its first issue! And I am in it, with a poem called "The Towns" about the towns around here and a few in Europe. (Hey, about that Nobel Peace Prize? Way to go, European Union!)

Congratulations to the museum of americana and everybody in it, and its editors, listed here! I very much enjoy the American Carousel Goat on the cover page, who appears to be a somewhat frightening applique on a sort of quilt patterned cloth. (I hope it is OK to reproduce it here, as part of this announcement about the new magazine! If not, let me know, and I will take it down.)

Tomorrow,* I am among the poets who will be reading poems written about barns and the barn quilt squares on them, in the kickoff event for the Barn Quilt Heritage Trail of McLean County, Illinois. (Likewise, I hope it is OK to use their logo to promote this fun event!)

Our program, Words on Quilts, is at 10:00, *Saturday, October 13, on the grounds of the David Davis Mansion, and there will also be twirlers, balloons, and music by Don't Fret.

I got to write about the Baltimore Rose Quilt square on the Carriage Barn at the David Davis estate. David Davis went to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and so did I! I also played his wife, Sarah Davis, in Evergreen Cemetery Discovery Walk one year, and visited Sarah's Garden of heirloom blooms this hot, dry summer.

I also got to write a poem about the sweet Jersey cows of the Ropp Jersey Cheese Farm! I love my life.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Whole Elephant

I wanted to title this blog entry “Ten Eleven Twelve” (because it is 10-11-12), but I keep coming back to “The Whole Elephant.” My inner life tells me it’s about the whole elephant, but, yes, the synchronicity of today is super good, too!

I am reading The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt, a clear and quietly hilarious positive psychology teacher guy. Really, he is funny, and I understand all of philosophy much better than I did before, and I am only on page 175.

You can find him and it here. I am reading the navy blue hardback with yellow lettering, but I love the swimming elephant on the paperback cover.

The elephant comes from Haidt’s metaphor for what we are, each of us with “a divided self” : a rational rider on a huge elephant, with instincts and desires of its own. Willpower, rational control, and right thinking are all great, but the elephant is really big, strong, and goes where it wants to go.

Haidt connects this to how the brain really works, using “controlled processes” and “automatic processes,” and so much of what we do is automatic, involuntary, and habitual. “In sum, the rider is an advisor or servant; not a king, president, or charioteer with a firm grip on the reins. The rider is…conscious, controlled thought. The elephant, in contrast, is everything else. The elephant includes the gut feelings, visceral reactions, emotions, and intuitions that comprise much of the automatic system. The elephant and the rider each have their own intelligence, and when they work together well they enable the unique brilliance of human beings. But they don’t always work together well.” Ain’t that the truth!?

Anyhoo, I am delighted and comforted by this book, because it honors the elephant! The elephant 1) does really good things for us and 2) can be trained. Too often, people who advise me think the human is simply the rider! They ignore the elephant. Or think the elephant is the servant. The rider is the “advisor or servant” or, in my view, both, along with loving, respectful animal trainer/circus rider. The whole human being is the reasoning being AND the powerful animal, and we need to recognize and respect gut feelings and intuition, hungers and passions, etc., and not pretend 1) they are not there 2) they are easy to “tame” or control 3) they are not part of the real human being.

There was more I wanted to say about the elephant and the book, but, if I go on (and on) it will no longer be 10-11-12. So I’ll stop now, resume later, and you can leave elephantine comments.

Thanks to Wikipedia and Peter H. Wrege for the whole elephant and the African forest elephant!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Red Sea Fan

I suppose I am a fan of the Red Sea, though I have never been there, except in my imagination and, recently, via reading The Innocents, by Francesca Segal, in which characters vacation there, in the port city of Eilat (sometimes aka Elat, also a female name for God...*).

How's that for a Random Coinciday return to blogging, thanks to my new Acer monitor, cheaper than repairing the switch on the Dell, which is already recycled, thanks to Best Buy? Thanks, also, to advice from Advance Computing, a local computer repair shop. We will give you our business on affordable repairs, and I love the glittery blue pencil with your name and number on it!!

But this Red Sea Fan, Coral, Shells is another fine painting by Jonathan Koch.

*and the one I chose during a wonderful mystical Sufi moment in the desert of Tucson, Arizona...hard to explain...!

Hello again. So, I think things are back to normal here. New monitor is a couple inches wider than the old one (which should be good for watching Glee on hulu). At first I put the little stand on backwards (spatial challenge, as well as technology challenge!...but I am good on the Sufi mysticism stuff), and, after a week and a half of no action on my computer it was super slow, as if it had to wake up, clean itself up, and remind itself how to work, but, here we go now!

While I was gone, I got poems rejected and accepted, did a jillion outdoor performances in a variety of weather conditions, and watched a bunch of old movies to warm up and wind down from that, while drinking wine. (I drank all the wine in my house.)

And ate Chinese food.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Switch

Well, the cemetery walk is over, and was a grand success! Very cold the second weekend. We had hand warmers but not lip warmers, so I fear some of my words were frozen, but I think Georgina Trotter as a "steam engine of energy" still came through!

I did my wacky diagnostics on my computer problem, and I'm pretty sure it's the switch. On the Dell monitor. So as soon as I get that fixed (or a new monitor...?!), I'll be back!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Blog Silence

Sorry about that. The blog silence, I mean. Etc. The flickering, then black screen thing has continued, and I can't work on my own computer till I get it fixed, and I am too busy to get it fixed. Standing in Evergreen Cemetery in Bloomington, Illinois, all week, being Georgina Trotter (1836-1904) twenty-four times a day!! It's fun but exhausting. And I am afraid I will speak in an Irish accent to the people at Best Buy if I attempt computer repair in the late afternoon. So, anyhoo.... Later!