Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Years From Now When You Are Weary

and worn out, wondering how you'll pay
a bill or make the rent or meet a deadline

set by some thoughtless boss—and kid,
such days will come—remember yourself

at five: hair light from the sun or just from
being young, new lunchbox pasted

with butterflies, how you hung your backpack
on a hook, then wouldn't let me take your picture

on the first day of school, sending me
out of that classroom, to the car, to my job

where a pair of bats flapped in the hallway.
Bats may be just bats, but one darted

into my office, quick as the boxer's head
that bobs and weaves and never gets hit.

It landed and hung from the drapes, upside
down, as you hung in my body for a while.

Bats are not the only flying mammals.
That afternoon in line for the bus, you cried,

so tired you thought you'd fall asleep
and miss your stop. Years from now, child,

in some helpless dusk, remember that fatigue
but how you made it home to me anyway

in the care of a kind farmer—bus driver.
Recall that once I arrived late, your bus

gone, and when I found you, carefully seated
by a coffeepot in a corner of a dim garage

at the school bus lot, you just said, Let's go,
Mama. Don't tell anyone about this.

by Julia Kasdorf

From Poetry in America. © University of Pittsburg Press, 2011.
Courtesy The Writer's Almanac

Monday, August 27, 2012

Children's Heroes Helping Them Read

Who does that look like? Watch the video and become acquainted with a few old friends (and possibly meet a few new ones).

I remember RIF from my own childhood, and I'm glad to see it's still working hard to support reading in youngsters.

I also support organizations that want to provide children with books of their own. There's something special about a book of one's one.

Support reading.
Support children.
Support books.
Support Book People Unite and RIF, and other similar organizations.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Nightstand Reading Stack: August Edition

I have a healthy stack o' books on the nightstand. Probably more than I should — but hey, what's new, right?

For those who don't wish to squint at the screen, the books are (from top to bottom):

This is not the order in which they are being read: I am reading The Great Stink with Karen and How to Be a Woman is for my funny bone.

A few of these will have to be postponed after Labor Day, as I need to prep for Fall for the Book Festival. I need to read Amy Waldman's The Submission and Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue before the festival. But we'll see.

What's on your nightstand?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Courage and Love, By Teddy

Teddy Bears; support this artist!

Who still remembers their favorite teddy bear from childhood?

Who still has her or him?

(I won't ask who still sleeps with a teddy bear. That's between you and the bear.)

Thanks to the amazing imagination of an artist who remembers teddy bear love: begemott, who created Sweet Hallowed Dreams. Support this wonderful artist by visiting the website.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In the Moment

Some days the pond
wears a glaze of yellow pollen.

Some days it is clean-swept.
The trout leap up, feasting on insects.

A modest size, it sits
like a soup tureen in a surround of white

pine where Rosie, 14 lbs., some sort
of rescued terrier, part bat

(the ears), part anteater (the nose),
shyly paddles in the shallows

for salamanders, frogs
and little painted turtles. She logged

ten years down south in a kennel, secured
in a crate at night. Her heart murmur

will carry her off, no one can say when.
Meanwhile she is rapt in

the moment, our hearts leap up observing.
Dogs live in the moment, pursuing

that brilliant dragonfly called pleasure.
Only we, sunstruck in this azure

day, must drag along the backpacks
of our past, must peer into the bottom muck

of what's to come, scanning the plot
for words that say another year, or not.

by Maxine Kumin

From Where I Live. © Norton, 2012.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Maya Angelou's 2012 Olympics poem

Maya Angelou reports, "The Olympics Committee ask me to write a poem for the 2008 Olympics and I offer it again for the 2012 Olympians. I commend you all, Americans and winners across the globe for what you do is win the human spirit and therefore we are all winners."

Amazement Awaits

Sheer amazement awaits
Amazement luxuriant in promise
Abundant in wonder
Our beautiful children arrive at this Universal stadium
They have bathed in the waters of the world
And carry the soft silt of the Amazon, the Nile,
The Danube, the Rhine, the Yangtze and the Mississippi
In the palms of their right hands.
A wild tiger nestles in each armpit
And a meadowlark perches on each shoulder.
We, the world audience, stand, arms akimbo,
Longing for the passion of the animal
And the melody of the lark
The tigers passion attend the opening bells,
The birds sing of the amazement which awaits.
The miracle of joy that comes out of the gathering of our best, bringing their best,
Displaying the splendor of their bodies and the radiance of their agile minds to the cosmos.
Encouragement to those other youth caught in the maws of poverty,
Crippled by the terror of ignorance.
They say Brothers and Sisters, Yes, try. Then try harder.
Lunge forward, press eagerly for release.
The amazement which awaits is for you.
We are here at the portal of the world we had wished for
At the lintel of the world we most need.
We are here roaring and singing.
We prove that we can not only make peace, we can bring it with us.
With respect for the world and its people,
We can compete passionately without hatred.
With respect for the world and its people,
We can take pride in the achievement of strangers.
With respect for the world and its people,
We can share openly in the success of friends.
Here then is the Amazement
Against the odds of impending war
In the mouth of bloody greed
Human grace and human spirit can still conquer.
Ah … We discover, we ourselves
Are the Amazement which awaits
We are ourselves Amazement.

by Maya Angelou

Monday, August 13, 2012

Don't Resist: Try Lamb

Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. The title alone begs the question: how can one resist?

Well, this one did — and for much, much too long. Don't make the same mistake I did: start reading now. In fact, skip the review, read the book, then come back and see if you agree.

Now that it's just us smart people who already read the book... wasn't Christopher Moore's book cool?

Plus, it answers the question of where Jeffrey Small got his ideas.

Everyone wonders how Jesus Christ spent his youth, where he got his middle name, how he became such a Lamb of God. Also, did he learn judo? Could he teach an elephant yoga? And why did he walk straight into the lion's den?

This book is Christopher Moore at his best — but it's not typical Moore. Usually he has me rolling on the floor in side-splitting laughter — and with this book, from time to time, I had to pick myself up off the floor. But not as often as I expected. Thank heavens. (So to speak.)

I liked all of the characters. Joshua needed a friend like Biff, and Biff needed friends like Maggie, Bartholomew, Joy... all likeable, all plausible. I still don't get how Joshua learned everything he learned, but I think Moore put together the book for a couple of lines. (You'll know them when you see them.)

The story was interesting, compelling and surprising. Even those who are familiar with the Gospels will find a few surprises here. I never will think of Mary's washing of Jesus' feet with oils the same way. Meeting each of the disciples as individuals with his own quirks, seeing how women fit into Joshua's original program, made me want to do what Newsweek suggested (and Thomas Jefferson already did): listen to the words of the Son.

I enjoyed this book, and I recommend it to anyone inclined to read.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Book Lovers Day is August 9: So Why Am I The Last To Know?

Alert: August 9 is Book Lovers Day.

Depending on who you speak to, it's called National Book Lovers Day or World Book Lovers Day. But who cares? Love books every day!

Anyway, Book Things was a great resource when I asked "who," so check out the blog. And share books.

I am a huge sharer of books. I buy them, scatter them around like apple seeds, hand them over to my friends, co-workers — and offer unsolicited suggestions to readers everywhere. (With the latter, I try to be polite and non-obtrusive, and I retreat at the first sign of "get out of my face, I'm shopping here!")

To make up for the 2012 lapse, I shall scatter a few more books into the wind.

And I shall be prepared for 2013!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fragments of Poems by Marilyn Monroe

Brain Pickings recently introduced me to something fantastic: fragments of poems written by Marilyn Monroe. They are included in the book titled Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe.

She's a mythic figure, tragic, fragile, lost too soon. These fragments show a thoughtful, creative artist.

Here are a few fragments:

 I’m finding that sincerity
to be as simple or direct as (possible) I’d like
is often taken for sheer stupidity
but since it is not a sincere world –
it’s very probable that being sincere is stupid.
One probably is stupid to
be sincere since it’s in this world
and no other world that we know
for sure we exist — meaning that –
(since reality exists it
should be must be dealt
should be met and dealt with)
since there is reality to deal with

I guess I have always been
deeply terrified
to really be someone’s
since I know life
one cannot love another,
ever, really

Oh damn I wish that I were
dead — absolutely nonexistent –
gone away from here — from
everywhere but how would I
do it

There is always bridges — the Brooklyn

– no not the Brooklyn Bridge
But I love that bridge (everything is beautiful from there and the air is so clean) walking it seems
even with all those
cars going crazy underneath. So
it would have to be some other bridge
an ugly one and with no view — except
like in particular all bridges — there’s some-
thing about them and besides
never seen an ugly bridge

Monday, August 6, 2012

When You're Sick: Sit it Out, Work it Out?

It shouldn't be a struggle for a normal person: if you're sick, you take a break from your fitness routine.

Notice I qualified that sentence. "Normal person." I don't think I'm in that camp.

So, I have a sinus infection. (Again. I know. I know!) However, once the "can't move my head without wishing I was anywhere but in my own body" ends and the "feels miserable but not enough to stay home and curled up in bed" begins, I have to ask myself: Am I working out today?

Some days it's easy to answer that question. It's those days where I think I might be able to pull it off that are tougher.

My trainer would tell me to sit it out unless I was better. Of course, my trainer also eats breakfast before he works out (even first thing in the morning! At dawn!) and uses tools of destruction like Bosu and resistance bands. I can more easily sift through his recommendations and decide what works for me.

What he would tell you is the same thing he would tell me: if you don't feel well, don't work out, period. And eat before you work out.

And yet... I know this sinus infection is not forever. During that healing time, if I start to feel better, I want to take advantage of my new-found strength. I want to go to the gym, climb on my favorite machine and watch (bad) television for an hour. ("Bad" is not my choice, but the offerings by the management.)

Plus, what if healing takes longer than I would prefer? I've "started over" with running more times than I want, and it's less pleasant each time. I don't want to hurt like that — so if it won't kill me, shouldn't I go ahead and do a little? I'm not contagious. I'm going to be feverish anyway. Plus, I know the difference between feeling punk and being sick enough to go to bed (despite evidence to the contrary).

Should I stay on the sidelines until I'm fully healed? Or do I take to the road or gym and push just enough to make it worth the laundry?

- Chris

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Library Loot: Hugo, Fragments and a Little Secret
I checked out three library books this week. Each has a specific role in my reading life.  I am very excited!

  • Fragments by Marilyn Monroe. She wrote poetry, or at least fragments of poetry. Why am I surprised that this artist would commit her poetry to paper? Rest assured, Poetry Wednesday will benefit from this.
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabaret by Brian Selznick. I sent it to my friend Marie for her birthday last year, and I haven't read it. I will remedy that before I see her again. I haven't seen the movie — have you? Did you enjoy it? Do I want to see it?
  • Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. My book club read it, but reviews are mixed at best. I haven't consumed it yet, and I may wait to read it until all of the reviews are in.

For the first time this calendar year, I have no materials on hold. I returned Ruby Red earlier this year before I could read it, and you know how I love time travel fiction. I may set it up for hold to pick up in October — thank heavens for delayed reservations so I can plot my library reading!

What did you pick up at the library this week?

Thanks to Linda (Silly Little Mischief), Claire (The Captive Reader) and Mary (The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader ) for establishing the weekly Library Loot. Check out what they're checking out!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympic Poetry
From The Telegraph: The last lines of Tennyson's Ulysses engraved at the Olympic Park


      It little profits that an idle king1,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an agèd wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

      I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades2
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy3.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

 This my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

 There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought
 with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles4,
And see the great Achilles5, whom we knew
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
courtesy Portable Poetry