Sunday, August 31, 2014

Goodbye August, Welcome September

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” ~ Roald Dahl

By Amy Lowell

All day I have watched the purple vine leaves
Fall into the water.
And now in the moonlight they still fall,
But each leaf is fringed with silver.

from:  "Pictures of the Floating World", 1919


August has been wet, hot, humid, green, beautiful and bountiful.  I'll miss you, August, but I welcome your cooler pal, September, and in her suitcase, Fall.  xo

August 1 sun setting from my son-in-law's office on Music Row in Nashville.  See my camera?  :-)

Datura Moonflower with her curly-edged self.

Three of the hundreds of Morning Glories that bloomed in my back yard.

About mid-August, glorious afternoon storms began with amazing clouds.

This one brought buckets of rain...

Cloud-love & thunder-love.

Letting my freak flags fly.  No, really, they're my Tibetan Buddhist Prayer flags.

Passionflower.  I just can't pass these without sniffing them...still smells like grape kool-aid.

Goodbye, August.  See you next year, I hope.


"The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many.... September is dressing herself in showy dahlias and splendid marigolds and starry zinnias. October, the extravagant sister, has ordered an immense amount of the most gorgeous forest tapestry for her grand reception." ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Late Prayer by Jane Hirshfield

My bird feeder holding a Passionflower & Dragon Wing Begonia's flowers---
= = = = =
Late Prayer
By Jane Hirshfield
Tenderness does not choose its own uses.
It goes out to everything equally,
circling rabbit and hawk.
Look: in the iron bucket,
a single nail, a single ruby -
all the heavens and hells.
They rattle in the heart and make one sound.
from:  "Nine Gates - Entering the Mind of Poetry - Essays by Jane Hirshfield", page 211
A beautiful, soul-searing book.
Hearing the cuckoo,
even in Kyoto
I long for Kyoto.    ~Basho
I post my favorite haiku by Basho on this rainy, stormy Saturday in which my oldest grandson is on his way to his first year of college two hours away.  I have two daughters and he was born when I was in my early 40's, so it was like having the little boy I never had.  Oh, the fun we had!  I can't count the number of times we went to the zoo and the book store---his favorite two places.  He still loves the book store, but not the zoo quite as much.  :-)  He taught me how to be a grammy and I taught him how to see (a little bit, I hope).  I asked him the other day what he looked forward to most about college (expecting something about girls, freedom, etc.), and he said, "I'm eager to get back to school to learn more stuff."  Yes, he's my boy. 
"Even in Kyoto, I long for Kyoto......."  Indeed.
= = = = =
"Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild." ~Welsh Proverb
= = = = =
"Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old." ~Mary H. Waldrip
= = = = =
Taylor & April at college.  (He's 6'1"...he got my long legs.)
A Morning Glory heart-leaf...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Denise Levertov---Extraordinary Poet

"Old River" by my sister, Margaret.  There's nothing like Louisiana sky...unless it's sky & water.

*  Remember Mallarme's words that "Poems are not made with ideas, they are made with words."

*  Beware of consciously searching for the original; nothing is more likely to lead to the banal.  The fresh word is not necessarily the odd word.

*  Strength of feeling, reverence for mystery, and clarity of intellect must be kept in balance with one another.  Neither the passive nor the active must dominate, they must work in conjunction, as in a marriage.

~Denise Levertov on the craft of poetry, from "Women of the Beat Generation", page 205

^  ^  ^  ^  ^

Morning Glories, tangled & dewy, August 2006
Captive Flower
By Denise Levertov
This morning's morning-glory
trying to thrust
through the wire mesh towards the sun
is trapped
I ease it back
to see better its unfurling,
but only slowly it resigns
the dream. Its petals
are scarred.
I had not thought myself
a jailer


HuntingThe Phoenix
By Denise Levertov

Leaf through discolored manuscripts,
make sure no words
lie thirsting, bleeding,
waiting for rescue. No:
old loves half-
articulated, moments forced
out of the stream of perception
to play “statue,”
and never released —
they had no blood to shed.
You must seek
the ashy nest itself
if you hope to find
charred feathers, smoldering flightbones,
and a twist of singing flame


A Blessing
By Denise Levertov
'Your river is in full flood,' she said,
'Work on---use these weeks well!'
She was leaving, with springy step, a woman
herself renewed, her life risen
up from the root of despair she'd
bent low to touch,
risen empowered. Her work now
could embrace more; she imagined anew
the man's totem tree and its taproot,
the woman's chosen lichen, patiently
composting rock, another's
needful swamp, the tribal migrations---
swaying skeins rotating their leaders,
pace unflagging---and the need
of each threatened thing
to be. She had met
with the council
of all beings.
'You give me
my life,' she said to the just-written poems,
long-legged foals surprised to be standing.
The poet waving farewell
is not so sure of the river.
Is it indeed
strong-flowing, generous? Was there largesse
for alluvial, black, seed-hungry fields?
Or had a flash-flood
swept down these tokens
to be plucked ashore, rescued
only to watch the waters recede
from stones of an arid variety?
But the traveler's words
are leaven. They work in the poet.
The river swiftly
goes on braiding its heavy tresses,
brown and flashing,
as far as the eye can see.
From: "Breathing the Water", pages 6 - 7
I have this entire book of short essays highlighted, dog-eared and underlined.  It's a chocolate truffles or something way better.  :-)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mending Wall by Robert Frost

Stone fence in Nashville, Tennessee - I immediately thought of the following poem when we drove by this fence on the way to see my granddaughter's new school, Lipscomb Academy.

Mending Wall

Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs.  The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side.  It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors?  Isn’t it
Where there are cows?  But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.'  I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself.  I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'
Yes, they do.  I have a wooden fence and wouldn't have any other kind.
"If you know what you are going to write when you're writing a poem, it's going to be
 average." ~Derek Walcott
Leaf hearts, wet with morning dew.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Good Morning, Moonflower

Let Morning Come
By Marion
Let the river flow
unimpeded, night black,
cradled within
strong, willow-sewn banks.

Let the crickets sing
ancient, mystical
tunes, sweet and time-kissed
into my awakened ears.

Let the moonlady’s silver
beams rain down
and suffuse my
twisted, ominous dreams.

Let the candle flame pull me into
its dancing shadow.  May
the flame illuminate
my jaded, somnolent mind.

Let the rivers flow.
     Let the crickets sing.
           Let the moonlady glimmer.
               Let the candlelight shimmer.

Please, let morning come.

January/April 2012

Early morning sunlight on my Datura Moonflower---

A bee stops by for breakfast---

If it tastes as good as it smells, he's in culinary ecstasy---

A few more minutes of sunlight and the Moonflower will be gone---


^  ^  ^  ^  ^

"The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms. Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him." ~Auguste Rodin

Thursday, August 14, 2014

O Captain! My Captain! - Walt Whitman

Robin Williams.  From "Dead Poets Society."


By Walt Whitman

O CAPTAIN! my Captain, our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!

    O the bleeding drips of read,

        Where on the deck my Captain lies,

            Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up---for you the flag is flung---for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths---for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!

    The arm beneath your head!

        It is some dream that on the deck,

            You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores and ring O bells!

    But I with mournful tread,

        Walk the deck my Captain lies,

            Fallen Cold and Dead.



R.I.P. dear Robin Williams.  "Dead Poets Society" is one of my favorite movies of all time for obvious reasons.  What to say when such a talented, beloved person is dead by his own hand?  Words seem inadequate yet they're all we have.  Who can know the despair, depression and suffering of another person?  Nobody, that's who.  I pray for his family.  It's all I've got.


'"O Captain! My Captain!" is a poem written by Walt Whitman in 1865. The poem is classified as an elegy, or mourning poem, and was written to honor Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States.'  ~from Wikipedia

                                                                 + + + + +

'All say, "How hard it is that we have to die" — a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.' ~Mark Twain

My blue Morning Glory in black & white.  The bees left pollen footprints...

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Sensual World by Louise Glück

Got this remarkable, astonishing book, "The Seven Ages" by Louise Glück for a nickel at McKay Used Books in Nashville, TN last week.  Truly, the best bargain I've made all year.  What a book.  Louise Glück is a breathtaking poet---a word magician...

By Louise Glück

I call to you across a monstrous river or chasm
to caution you, to prepare you.

Earth will seduce you, slowly, imperceptibly,
subtly, not to say with connivance.

I was not prepared: I stood in my grandmother’s kitchen,
holding out my glass. Stewed plums, stewed apricots–

the juice poured off into the glass of ice.
And the water added, patiently, in small increments,

the various cousins discriminating, tasting
with each addition–

aroma of summer fruit, intensity of concentration:
the colored liquid turning gradually lighter, more radiant,

more light passing through it.
Delight, then solace. My grandmother waiting,

to see if more was wanted. Solace, then deep immersion.
I loved nothing more: deep privacy of the sensual life,

the self disappearing into it or inseparable from it,
somehow suspended, floating, its needs

fully exposed, awakened, fully alive–
Deep immersion, and with it

mysterious safety. Far away, the fruit glowing it its glass bowls.
Outside the kitchen, the sun setting.

I was not prepared: sunset, end of summer. Demonstrations
of time as a continuum, as something coming to an end,

not a suspension: the senses wouldn’t protect me.
I caution you as I was never cautioned:

you will never let go, you will never be satiated.
You will be damaged and scarred, you will continue to hunger.

Your body will age, you will continue to need.
You will want the earth, then more of the earth–

Sublime, indifferent, it is present, it will not respond.
It is encompassing, it will not minister.

Meaning, it will feed you, it will ravish you,
it will not keep you alive.

From:  "The Seven Ages" by Louise Gluck


We were in Nashville last week visiting family and I didn't go online once.'s August, y'all, and it's lazy, rainy, humid days here in the swamp. I planted my tomatoes late this year and I've got three huge plants loaded with green tomatoes.  I'm patiently (& eagerly) waiting them out.  Usually by this time of year, the fresh tomatoes are all gone---I did read some, though, and bought some great new poetry books, of course!

So, you're probably asking, "What about her book title?"  I'll admit I had a vague recollection of reading parts of this in Shakespeare many moons ago, but I just had to find the poem to relate it to the book.  Here's the Bard himself, to entertain you:

The Seven Ages of Man 
William Shakespeare 

                                       All the world’s a stage,
        And all the men and women merely players;
        They have their exits and their entrances,
        And one man in his time plays many parts,                      
5      His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
        Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
        And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
        And shining morning face, creeping like snail
        Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, 
10    Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
        Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
        Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
        Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
        Seeking the bubble reputation
15    Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
        In fair round belly with good capon lined,
        With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
        Full of wise saws and modern instances;
        And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
20    Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
        With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
        His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
        For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
        Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
25    And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
        That ends this strange eventful history,
        Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
        Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


The cutest coffee 'shop' ever at McKay's in Nashville, The Trailer Perk:

I love the sign---
Another fun thing in Nashville was the "Retro Sno Cone Truck".  We chased it for 2 days, but finally found it, thank goodness. The best sno-cone I've ever had.  You can find their schedule online with the most awesome flavors ever:
Happy August!
* * * * *
"The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone." ~Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
* * * * *
"One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by." ~Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
* * * * *
"In summer, the song sings itself." ~William Carlos Williams

* * * * *

 "Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." ~Sam Keen
* * * * *
"Summer-induced stupidity. That was the diagnosis, I decided as I made my way up the dirt path in the pouring rain."  ~Aimee Friedman, Sea Change
* * * * *
My glorious August Morning Glories.  They define morning for me.