Tuesday, August 8, 2023


Photo by Lavi Perchik of child looking through a camera lens
Have you listened to yourself lately?

Other people have, and you have made a difference in their lives.

Years ago, I helped my young friend get ready for bed. When he brushed his teeth, I suggested he also brush his tongue with his toothbrush. (Gently!)

He thought it was a crazy idea. I assured him I wasn't teasing him: my dentist had approved the practice for me. My friend tried it and shrugged. I tucked him into bed and read him some books, then tucked away that memory.

Two months later, my young friend's mom said, "The dentist asked my son to show him how he brushes his teeth. He brushed his tongue, and told the dentist that Miss Chris taught him to do that."

My heart sang: my friend took to heart a suggestion I made one random night.

You, too, have peppered random comments and suggestions in conversations throughout your life to people you may not realize were paying attention. Listen, watch, and realize how important you are in the lives of others.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Hello, Friends


Hello, friends. It's been a while.

I wasn't around because the Internet is not always a friendly place. 

I wasn't around because the world felt like a Dumpster fire in an active volcano in an A-bomb explosion.

I wasn't around because of that colorful, deadly virus that stopped the world. There was plenty to do to attempt to keep my little corner of the world safe. I stumbled, righted myself, and kept on going like I knew what I was doing. It was exhausting — but like you, I managed.

I have been slow to return to "normal." I spent three years trying to help keep myself, my family, and my community alive, and caution is a hard habit to break.  

I still follow some smart practices around public places. I'll continue to do my best to be a good fellow human. I may stumble, but I'll right myself and keep on going like I know what I'm doing. 

So will you. I know you will, and you have. I am so proud of you. Keep up the good work.

If you need me, let me know. You're not alone.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Poetry Wednesday: Sink Your Fingers into the Darkness of My Fur

Sink Your Fingers into the Darkness of My Fur

Up until this sore minute, you could turn the key, pivot away.
But mine is the only medicine now
wherever you go or follow.
The past is so far away, but it flickers,
then cleaves the night. The bones
of the past splinter between our teeth.
This is our life, love. Why did I think
it would be anything less than too much
of everything? I know you remember that cheap motel
on the coast where we drank red wine,
the sea flashing its gold scales as sun
soaked our skin. You said, This must be
what people mean when they say
I could die now. Now
we’re so much closer
to death than we were then. Who isn’t crushed,
stubbed out beneath a clumsy heel?
Who hasn’t stood at the open window,
sleepless, for the solace of the damp air?
I had to get old to carry both buckets
yoked on my shoulders. Sweet
and bitter waters I drink from.
Let me know you, ox you.
I want your scent in my hair.
I want your jokes.
Hang your kisses on all my branches, please.
Sink your fingers into the darkness of my fur.

by Ellen Bass, courtesy of The Academy of American Poets

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween Poetry: Bats

Celebrate Halloween properly with this amazing poem, courtesy of poets.org.


unveil themselves in dark.
They hang, each a jagged,

silken sleeve, from moonlit rafters bright
as polished knives. They swim

the muddled air and keen
like supersonic babies, the sound

we imagine empty wombs might make
in women who can’t fill them up.

A clasp, a scratch, a sigh.
They drink fruit dry.

And wheel, against feverish light flung hard
upon their faces,

in circles that nauseate.
Imagine one at breast or neck,

Patterning a name in driblets of iodine
that spatter your skin stars.

They flutter, shake like mystics.
They materialize. Revelatory

as a stranger’s underthings found tossed
upon the marital bed, you tremble

even at the thought. Asleep,
you tear your fingers

and search the sheets all night.

by Paisley Rekdal, from The Invention of the Kaleidoscope, 2007

Monday, September 9, 2019

Rita Dove Wins Wallace Stevens Award

Congratulations to Rita Dove, who received the annual Wallace Stevens Award last week from the Academy of American Poets

In celebration, let's enjoy her poem praising something I hold near and dear to my heart. (With special thanks to Ron Charles at the Washington Post).  


Velvet fruit, exquisite square
I hold up to sniff
between finger and thumb—

how you numb me
with your rich attentions!
If I don’t eat you quickly, 

you’ll melt in my palm.
Pleasure seeker, if I let you
you’d liquefy everywhere. 

Knotted smoke, dark punch
of earth and night and leaf,
for a taste of you 

any woman would gladly
crumble to ruin.
Enough chatter: I am ready 

to fall in love!

by Rita Dove
From American Smooth, 2004 (W.W. Norton)

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Gone Reading: See You in September!

August is the time to bury yourself in books.

If you need recommendations, feel free to contact me or ask your friendly neighborhood librarian for ideas.

If you really miss me, visit me on Instagram and Twitter@cfowcohen 

See you soon!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Reading Challenges: Going the Distance With Book Recommendations

There is no shortage of reading "challenges" that encourage readers to expand their horizons with deliciously random criteria that forcibly inject variety into their book choices. 

While some readers may take this lawlessness as a command to find new books for their shelves, I instead see this as an opportunity to more deeply peruse my TBR shelves, Kindle, and Audible selections. (If I told you I had a thousand books on my Kindle Fire, I'd be lying. I have 1,554.)

Take the Goodreads Challenge for Beginners, a reader favorite, where the challenge includes:

  1. Goodreads community-voted favorite
  2. Goodreads community popular read
  3. a book that has been on your Goodreads Want to Read list for a year or more
  4. a book being adapted for film or TV this year

Do I have any books on my to-read list that would fit those criteria? Why, yes I do:

  1. Children of Blood and Bone
  2. Where the Crawdads Sing or Daisy Jones and the Six
  3. Behind the Scenes at the Museum
  4. Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Two of the books above fit selections in the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2019 Reading Challenge

  • A book I've been meaning to read: Where the Crawdads Sing
  • A book from a favorite author's backlist: Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Then there's the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, which has dozens of options, including books with the words "pop," "sugar," or "challenge" in the title. Three books I have chosen above can meet a few POPSUGAR criteria:

  • Celebrity recommendation? Where the Crawdads Sing
  • Debut novel? Behind the Scenes at the Museum 
  • A book with a question mark in its title? Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
  • A book told from multiple POVs? Daisy Jones and the Six

Okay, that's kind of cheating, so I'll branch out wider on my summer reading list with POPSUGAR suggestions:

  • A book I meant to read in 2018: The Bear and the Nightingale
  • A book published in 2019: Gingerbread
  • A book about someone with a super power: The Power
  • A book with a two-word title: Wolf Hall

Challenges can be fun, as long as the end result is an ample, fun, and rich reading list. While it's fun to flex your reading muscle and try something new, never lose sight of the real reason for a challenge: to make reading more fun. 

As the summer progresses, I'll try a challenge or two, but it looks like I can always come back my own shelves for my selection. As Dorothy said, there's no place like home.