Alas, Old Man Winter has flexed his ol’ muscle and the greater Boston area is expecting snow and a wintry mix on Sunday. Heather Bryant and I will next read on February 13 at Slater International Center , on the Wellesley College Campus. Please join us at 5 PM that day. Open to the public, book signing and refreshments to follow. Set your Waze for 106 Central Street, Wellesley MA and head towards Tupelo Lane. Ask any student where to park –Founders Lot or the tennis court lot behind Schneider Hall are closest.
We’ll be reading from our recent work, so we’d love it if you’d tune in at 8-9 PM, and if you’d call in with comments or questions on what you hear!
My poem “Deep Midwinter After-Party,” is featured on the Old Frog Pond Farm website as one of two Poems of the Month, along with my poetry colleague Heather Corbally Bryant‘s “Holly Bushes.” We’ll be reading at Old Frog Pond Farm, 38 Eldridge Road, Harvard, MA at 3 PM on Sunday, January 20!
You can read “Deep Midwinter After-Party” and “Holly Bushes” here, on Old Frog Pond’s poetry page: http://oldfrogpondfarm.com/poem-of-the-month/
Every day for decades she has swallowed
the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
They don’t make me feel happy, she said—
but at least I can get up and put
one foot in front of the other.
The Zoloft creates a floor,
beneath which I know I won’t fall.
That’s the best it does.
Walking, I thought of this floor.
I made my way along the bay beach.
Ice chunks collected next to rushes whipped,
beaten by early winter winds.
A thick layer of pinestraw padded the walking trails.
The wind numbed my cheeks. I stepped
lightly around a wire rectangle covering
beach hay, marked with a small blue flag—
endangered turtle’s nest.
On the main street, shops closed up
for the season, remnants of Christmas wreaths
stuck to the doors. No one inside.
Library, toy store, restaurants all shuttered.
Only the market and the library interested
in commerce of one sort or another,
winter vegetables, or books and DVDs.
Solar panels of a house across the way
caught sunlight, the grids glinted.
It made me happy to see this. I thought
of the floor beneath which I do not fall, the wood floor
of my study, the mat rolled out so I can sit and notice
my breath, notice how I feel. I thought
of the ground I knelt on yesterday, when
I cut down the dried miscanthus grasses
tied them with twine, stacked them in the shed. Solid
ground that lets me kneel, sit, tread on it. The ground
is the floor below which I do not fall.
All this allows me to awaken,
put one foot in front of the other,
into the work ahead. All this
binds winter body to winter soul.
My poem, “Floor,” was first published in Incandescent Minds, 2016
Please add this program to your calendar and call in to listen to us read our recent works–and to ask us questions or comment on what you hear!
When my kid sister and I were young, our “real” tree wasn’t up until Christmas Eve. To hold us off, when we clamored starting on December 1 for a tree decorated with lights, our mother gave us projects: an Advent calendar coated with silver glitter, its tiny windows opening to old-fashioned toys—tops, trains, kewpie dolls, bears wearing red ribbon bows, jacks, toy workbenches, roller skates…
Read my Opinion piece in the December 26, 2018 online Baltimore Sun. You can find the full essayhere. The print edition will carry the piece on December 27.
We arrived at ten minutes of twelve, my father and I,
at St. Dominic’s, my grandmother’s church, though by then
she was tucked away in a nursing home south of the city
where nuns in nurses’ uniforms cared for her, prayed
the rosary with her until her mind went, until
the nursing home doctor prescribed restraints
so Grandmother wouldn’t assault the kind nuns, or
scratch herself till her thin arms bled.
St. Dominic’s was a grand church, studded with statues
of the Blessed Virgin, vaulted ceilings,
Stations of the Cross, painted wood, punctuated by gilt
as fancy as you’d see in a cathedral.
Two heavy glass doors at the front entrance, too modern
and the parish school, sturdy structure of gray gneiss stone,
Things that were always there. I must have absorbed all this,
Though what was important was being with my father,
on Christmas, in the days of the Latin Mass,
genuflecting at the pew he chose, watching him flip up the kneeler
to accommodate his bad leg, it wouldn’t bend.
I opened my Sunday Missal to Mass of the Catechumens.
The priest faced the altar, not us, he mumbled his church Latin.
I loved the sameness of it all, the waiting till the usher
approached, waved us into the communion line.
I loved standing behind my father, shuffling
to the altar rail, waiting for him to kneel,
laboriously. I loved sticking out my tongue
to receive the tasteless paper disc that was Our Lord,
walking back to our pew, covering my face with my hands
as my father did, praying for whatever it was I prayed for
in those days, usually for God to repair my father’s leg,
Let him walk again without the brace.
My thoughts wandered to Christmas morning,
Whether I’d find what I ‘d asked for under the tree.
Everyone stood up. The priest, his back to us,
Was saying Ite, missa est. I know this because
The Mass is ended, it said.
But we weren’t done yet. We said
prayers for the Conversion of Russia.
I loved these, especially asking for protection
against the wickedness and snares of the devil, who wandered the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Now, the Mass ended.
My father grasped the back of the pew in front,
pulled himself up to stand.
We exited with the slow-moving crowd,
were disgorged onto the front steps of the church.
In the black night, everything seemed possible.
Merry Christmas, pal, my father said.
Want to get breakfast?
Our Thanksgiving at the cottage was a day late, to accommodate traffic exigencies and the schedules of all four members of our nuclear family–that’s not counting our young cat, who didn’t really care when or where she got her usual ration of indoor cat pate.
And no, we didn’t have turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, white turnip (or sauerkraut if you’re from Baltimore), or any other Thanksgiving staples.
We roasted a 4 pound chicken from the Star Market, using Marcella Hazan’s old reliable recipe, with a whole lemon pierced and stuffed into the bird’s cavity.
We baked small Yukon potatoes and Brussels sprouts (Ina Garten style, sans the pancetta, for our son who doesn’t eat pork).
I made my mother -in-law’s pink applesauce, cooking the apples with their skins and then using a ricer to separate the skins from the pink pulp.
Cornbread came from the box– the Trader Joe’s mix–sweeter than most cakes.
And for dessert, June’s Apple Crisp, another family standby, from The Silver Palate Good Times cookbook.
So our bellies were full.
And there’s still apple crisp and cornbread left over.
Both grown sons have returned to their separate abodes to prepare for the coming week. The parents are back home, the chicken carcass and leftover meat is now soupified, joined by leeks, onion, carrot and spices, for tonight’s Sunday supper, with the last bit of the applesauce. Oh, and that apple crisp.
Sometimes it feels just right to break with tradition.
And we didn’t miss the food coma.
Thank You, America
The sun rising behind farm houses in the Midwest
The clear mountain rivers in Montana
I hope we have the wisdom to treasure all of it.
A glimmer of dawn
First flickers in Maine
For the mountains.
magnificent weathered beacons of topographical wonder.
Tengo gracias that I can speak my mind
y no aye consecuencia graves when I do so.
I won’t lie, I struggled with this question
With all the fighting, hate and violence
it has been difficult to remember to be thankful.
However, when I read stories of people who
stand up and speak out
for justice and truth
I become immensely grateful and proud of America.Article continues after this message from our sponsor
Freedom to whisper against kings
My grandmother who carried her green card
in the broken tattoos on her back
I am thankful that other people are still trying to come here.
I am thankful for the vastness of our borders and the beauty of our natural lands.
Sunshine streaming softly
while we sip our morning coffee.
But across the oceans our troops fight
ensuring that we keep our rights,
to give us a land of the free.
For the first responders
I am thankful for America’s history, warts and all.
Our past, full of light and dark,
Read the history
of heroes and villains
See our country for what it is.
Free Press and Free speech
to speak out against injustices in our country,
For places to walk safely
places to paddle
arcades of trees
varied, inexpensive food
tools and workplaces
longtime friends who listen
to worship whoever we want,
to say whatever we want,
to go wherever we want.
for the public libraries.
They raise up voices whom others attempt to silence.
My son is transgender and I am grateful for those who treat HER with respect and kindness.
for Cape May; for parties on the Fourth of July; for anarchist coffee shops; for church-run thrift stores; hole-in-the-wall BBQ joints; Lake Michigan; Vinny’s Pizzeria in the 90s; beer delivery in a snow storm;
for second, third and fourth chances.
I am thankful that my hybrid existence, hinted by my brown skin and slanted eyes, can make sense in America.
For many spectacular parks in our nation–from the huge and awe-inspiring Grand Canyon to the tiny neighborhood park with the small playground and the pretty benches painted by local artists.
I am grateful that America can change, too.
for the millions who take to the streets,
insist on change,
resist evil, tell their stories,
Wrought through division
Sustained by freedom’s hope
I am thankful for America, most of the time.
AMERICA LET’S ME CONNECT AND PLAY VIDEOS WITH THE WORLD
AMERICA ALLOWS ME TO PLAY BASKETBALL
AMERICA GIVES ME A GOOD EDUCATION
Thank you, America,
For the mom and pop shops and rest stops.
For the back roads and the beaten paths.
For the love that greets me when I come home.
For the dream to become,
the dream to make better or different,
the dream to inspire,
the dream of something on the other side
of whatever is facing us in the moment
Reprinted from https://www.npr.org/2018/11/22/669704214/thank-you-america-a-crowdsourced-holiday-poem-that-s-a-blessing-to-read, November 22, 2018