Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dust by Dorianne Laux

This is my newest herb garden with mostly citrus-scented herbs for teas (Lemongrass, Lemon Bee Balm, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Thyme, and Lime Basil).

I've been losing poems right and left lately, daydreaming in the sun while inhaling the scent of my blooming Gardenias and reading, reading, reading. I lost an excellent poem just last night about firsts because I was too lazy to get up and grab my pen before I dozed off... so this poem seemed a perfect fit for today. We're still high and dry, thankfully. xoxo

by Dorianne Laux

Someone spoke to me last night,
told me the truth. Just a few words,
but I recognized it.
I knew I should make myself get up,
write it down, but it was late,
and I was exhausted from working
all day in the garden, moving rocks.
Now, I remember only the flavor---
not like food, sweet or sharp.
More like a fine powder, like dust.
and I wasn’t elated or frightened,
but simply rapt, aware.
That’s how it is sometimes---
God comes to your window,
all bright light and black wings,
and you’re just too tired to open it.


"Traveler, there is no path,
paths are made by walking." ~Antonio Machado


"Those moments before a poem comes, when the heightened awareness comes over you, and you realize a poem is buried there somewhere, you prepare yourself. I run around, you know, kind of skipping around the house, marvelous elation. It's as though I could fly." ~Anne Sexton


"An English poet, Philip Larkin, said that poetry doesn't start with an idea; it starts with a poem... You have to be open to mystery. If you are open to it, mystery will come. If you're not, why should it, actually?" ~Lucille Clifton


"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." ~Einstein


"If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a cross between a wolf howl, a photon, and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It's a program, a piece of hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery. Not a mystery, mind you, THE Mystery.

The one that can never be solved. Data in our psychic program is often nonlinear, nonhierarchical, archaic, alive, and teeming with paradox. Simply booting up is a challenge, if not for no other reason than that most of us find acknowledging the unknowable and monitoring its intrusions upon the familiar and mundane more than a little embarrassing.

More immediately, by waxing soulful you will have granted yourself the possibility of ecstatic participation in what the ancients considered a divinely animated universe. And on a day to day basis, folks, it doesn't get any better than that."

- Tom Robbins, In Literature/Tom Robbins

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Floods, Rivers, Swamps and Lakes

The photo above is from 1973 when the Morganza Spillway was opened last.

I live in Louisiana.

I live near a swamp. (Annie's seen it across the street in the woods). I love Louisiana and would never consider living anywhere else. I'm 3 miles from the Red River, less than 2 hours from the Mississippi River and about an hour from the Atchafalaya River. My sister, niece and their families had to evacuate their homes last week in anticipation of the opening of the Morganza Spillway today. My oldest daughter lives near Saline Lake which is already flooding. They're expecting flooding at their farm, too. Me, I'm on high ground and hopefully won't flood.

Please keep the people and wildlife of Central and South Louisiana in your hearts and prayers.


Here's a photo of the Mississippi River taken by a friend who lives in the City last week in New Orleans, already very high:

The Morganza Spillway opening (It was built in 1954 and has only been opened once, in 1973, so this is an historical event) will be streamed live in about one hour from now, at 3:00 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Below is an informative article from today's New York Times:

Morganza Spillway to Be Opened Today

MORGAN CITY, La. — The Army Corps of Engineers was expected to open a spillway near here Saturday afternoon to relieve the pressure bearing down on the levees brought by a Mississippi River that has swollen to epic proportions.

The corps hoped that by opening the Morganza spillway, a gated structure north of Baton Rouge, water from the river would be diverted from New Orleans and other areas downriver. A large area of southern Louisiana would be flooded instead.

At a news conference scheduled for 3:30 p.m. (Eastern time), the New Orleans district commander for the corps, Col. Ed Fleming, will explain the decision. About a half-hour later, the corps will open the spillway.
“It will be a slow, controlled opening,” Ken Holder, a spokesman for the corps told Reuters.

A live video stream from the Morganza spillway has been set up by the corps to show the flooding.

The decision to open the spillway, according to protocol, came from the president of the Mississippi River Commission, Maj. Gen. Michael J. Walsh, directing Colonel Fleming “to be prepared to operate the Morganza Floodway within 24 hours.”

Just about everyone in southern Louisiana had come to expect this decision and had resigned themselves to the bitter but necessary trade-off behind it, though the official word on Friday ended days of uncertainty.

By design, the giant gated structure at Morganza is set to open, at least partly, when the Mississippi River reaches a flow rate of 1.5 million cubic feet per second at the Red River Landing, north of Baton Rouge. In a news release, the corps wrote: “Given current flow rate predictions, which are subject to change, the corps is anticipating opening the floodway to allow for up to 150,000 c.f.s. of water to pass through the structure at peak flow. The spillway will remain open until the river flow falls below 1.5 million c.f.s. and is projected to continue decreasing.”

The number of gates opened at the Morganza depends on how much water would need to be diverted to keep the Mississippi below that trigger flow rate. Allowing 150,000 cubic feet per second to pass through would tax only a fourth of the spillway’s capacity.

The spillway has been opened only once before, in 1973.

The corps will conduct a “slow opening” of the spillway, and once released the water will take days to pour out into the Atchafalaya River basin, filling up marshes, engorging bayous, submerging hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland and seeping into thousands of homes. It will also test the network of federally and locally built levees that wall off towns and small Cajun communities throughout the basin. The water levels in the area will remain high for weeks.

According to maps released by the corps, these areas would be flooded to some degree whether the spillway was opened or not, given the extraordinary amount of water in the system.

There are about 2,500 people in the direct path of the spillway, and around 22,500 others who would be threatened by swollen backwaters. Gov. Bobby Jindal urged people remaining in these areas to begin evacuating.

Those in the spillway’s path were becoming resigned to the decision.
“While we understand the reasoning behind it, it’s still hard to accept,” said Charlene Guidry, 57, who lives on the river in the town of Butte La Rose. “It’s a no-brainer when you look at sacrificing our small community to save New Orleans and Baton Rogue. I’m not angry. I’ve resigned myself. I just hope the government steps up to the plate in a way they didn’t after Katrina.”

Here in Morgan City, a picturesque town of shrimpers and oil workers and the last big stop for the Atchafalaya before it empties into the gulf, all the talk was about river elevations and levees.

At the beginning of the month, said Tim Matte, the mayor, officials had warned that the river would rise to about eight feet, posing a minor problem for shipyards and fuel docks. Now the river was predicted to reach 12 feet, breaking a 38-year-old record, and the lake to swell to the height of some of the city’s levees.

“In 10 days we’ve gone from a minor inconvenience to a flood of historic proportions,” Mr. Matte said, minutes after being told by Senator Mary L. Landrieu’s office that the Morganza was to be opened.

Flood preparations were under way here for what officials estimate will be weeks of flood conditions: Members of the National Guard were constructing 20,000 feet of barriers to fortify and elevate levees along Lake Palourde, which sits on Morgan City’s back step. A barge was being sunk to block off a bayou, sending water out into marshland rather than into populated areas.

Thousands of sandbags were being filled in the hamlet of Stephensville, as residents were leaving for higher ground and debating where to leave their valuables, like one man’s antique-gun collection.

If the levees hold, Morgan City should be fine, people here say. If the levees fail, particularly those along the Atchafalaya, the only option is a full-scale evacuation from the city. “People ask me if I have faith in these levees,” Mr. Matte said. “Well, we wouldn’t live here if we didn’t.”

~Noam Cohen in New York contributed reporting

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mam's Dream Book by Marion

Old bottle of "Evening in Paris"

M'am’s Dream Book
By Marion

M'am had a dream book
of pictures tore from magazines:
fancy, gold-rimmed dishes, flower gardens
and silk dresses that she glued and taped
to dime store paper in a old, beat-up
folder I had from 3rd grade.

It were worn from handling and
the page tops bore the
print of her licked thumb.
It smelled of broken dreams
and Evening in Paris.
M'am’s one extravagance
was that cheap
perfume in a cobalt blue bottle.
She rationed that
stinkin’ horse piss
like it were Shalimar.

When I was a little girl I useta say,
“M'am, when I grow up I’m gonna
buy you a big ole house with a
front and a back porch and a rose

I never did, though.
M'am died last year, homeless,
all wore out from hard livin’.
I’ve since learnt that dreams
are for other folks
and not the likes
of M'am and me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Strange Woman by Jill Essbaum

(Photo of Angelie Jolie's back tattoos. I love, love, love Angelina...)

Strange Woman
By Jill Essbaum
(After Proverbs 7)

She searches the sky for a god who will reach down and love her.
She seeks the arms of a lust that would stretch out to have her.
She shudders like a whore in a rickety chair.
She plaits ribbons of pain in her hair.

She sings unruly songs in strident keys.
Her feet abide in no man’s custody.
She is pity’s shabby bride, and lechery’s courtesan.
Mistress of a never-to-rise-again sun.

She tinctures her wines according to your desires.
In her bed, Hell is always and only fire.
You can set her apart like surfeit, delirious tither.
But no. She won’t be faithful to you either.

But hearken: The Goodman is gone and she will flatter you.
Use her. She will let you.


Proverbs 7 (New King James Version)

1 My son, keep my words,
And treasure my commands within you.
2 Keep my commands and live,
And my law as the apple of your eye.
3 Bind them on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
And call understanding your nearest kin,
5 That they may keep you from the immoral woman,
From the seductress who flatters with her words.

The Crafty Harlot

6 For at the window of my house
I looked through my lattice,
7 And saw among the simple,
I perceived among the youths,
A young man devoid of understanding,
8 Passing along the street near her corner;
And he took the path to her house
9 In the twilight, in the evening,
In the black and dark night.
10 And there a woman met him,
With the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart.
11 She was loud and rebellious,
Her feet would not stay at home.
12 At times she was outside, at times in the open square,
Lurking at every corner.
13 So she caught him and kissed him;
With an impudent face she said to him:
14“ I have peace offerings with me;
Today I have paid my vows.
15 So I came out to meet you,
Diligently to seek your face,
And I have found you.
16 I have spread my bed with tapestry,
Colored coverings of Egyptian linen.
17 I have perfumed my bed
With myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
18 Come, let us take our fill of love until morning;
Let us delight ourselves with love.
19 For my husband is not at home;
He has gone on a long journey;
20 He has taken a bag of money with him,
And will come home on the appointed day.”
21 With her enticing speech she caused him to yield,
With her flattering lips she seduced him.
22 Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter,
Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks,
23 Till an arrow struck his liver.
As a bird hastens to the snare,
He did not know it would cost his life.
24 Now therefore, listen to me, my children;
Pay attention to the words of my mouth:
25 Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways,
Do not stray into her paths;
26 For she has cast down many wounded,
And all who were slain by her were strong men.
27 Her house is the way to hell,
Descending to the chambers of death.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Moon by Robert Bly

My own red, luscious, tomato-moon...almost ripe this first day of May.

The Moon
By Robert Bly

After writing poems all day,
I go off to see the moon in the pines.
Far in the woods I sit down against a pine.
The moon has her porches turned to face the light,
But the deep part of her house is in the darkness.

from "Eating the Honey of Words", 1999