Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Before Salem...

A little more history...

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1998
Photograph by Jim Richardson

On a dark night, lights cast mysterious shadows on the Edinburgh Castle. The Edinburgh Castle has a long haunting past, one of which involves the Witches Well. Located in the northeast corner of the castle, the Witches Well commemorates the death of more than three hundred women. They were accused of practicing witchcraft between 1479 and 1722.

From the monthly National Geographic newsletter.

A friend recently sent photos of a drowning pond in Iceland where women dress in white each year and gather to commemorate the deaths of ancesters in that pond, women drowned because they were accused of having sex outside of marriage.

Wives were also expected to die on their husband's funeral pyre with them in some cultures and we won't even get into how Henry the Eighth handled divorce.

And yes, men have their share of torture, too, but it has never seemed gender related, with the exception of African American men in America, who were tortured/castrated and then hung. To my knowledge, there were no female tortures and hangings, though they met other types of abuse by the Klan. Tell me if I'm wrong.

If you can stand to look at these, the site, Without Sanctuary, tells the story of these men in photographs.

What's even scarier is that in the Salem burnings, the drowning well, and the lynchings, the persecuters all claimed to be good 'god-fearing' citizens. I'd like to meet their god sometime.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I Am A Mirror

From a photo taken in Boston when I was 31 years old.

CLICK TO ENLARGE. This shows the original photo with the two sides of the face mirrored on each side. Quite a different look, eh?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Unexpected Shoals

Old loves have fallen like soft raindrops
into my dreams lately.
My first husband.
Now you.
I still won't call you by name, you notice.
To do so is to remember
when you still loved me,
and an ocean of tears bars
that time from now.

I dreamed I found our old sailboat
crushed deep into the sands.
Despite screaming birds scavenging
and old men with metal detectors keening,
I discovered a winch, our flag,
that bracelet you gave me for my birthday,
and a photo of us mugging,
mouths open, for an unseen photographer.
You kissed me after, hands already tugging
the edge of my tee, eager to go below
for what we seemed to do best.

I gathered my findings, carried them upshore
and buried them.
A final graveyard of memories.

I didn't bury the flag.
I left that as a warning for new lovers
to take good care in their own odysseys,
a reminder not to wear blinders
against shoals lurking ahead
in the shivering, desolate night.

For those of you who left messages yesterday, thank you. I'm hanging in.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Quick note

I had to go back onto an antibiotic. Long story and I'm too dizzy and nauseated from the med to go into it except that it looks as if the infection is back. I'll probably disappear from posting for a few days. All of you hold down the fort for me, okay?


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Another perspective on Howl by Carter Monroe

(Carter emailed me that he was unable to paste his reply under comment in the below post. I'm posting this separately. The comments under the post, to date, are well worth reading, too)

From Carter:
I first read "Howl" in Fall '71. It was at the beginning of the fall semester at the rural diploma mill I was attending at the time. I was just beginning to learn about poetry or, at least, poetry that was outside the, then, academic box. I had read "Coney Island" and was much more enamored of Ferlinghetti than A.G., but I do remember sensing the tremendous power of the piece. Though about three years later at another college, I would read A.G. in The Norton Anthology, his presence in texts or the library at this particular school would not have been allowed. It was the rural South and it takes a long time for things to find their way here from the West Coast or from NYC.

In terms of poetry, I am constantly posturing the separation of the dancer from the dance. It's very difficult with A.G. and in my mind it's even more difficult to separate this poem from the infamous obscenity trial. The "Howl" trial was largely responsible for the massive scope of The Beat Movement. I'm also not shedding any profound light by noting that A.G.'s almost PR mentality had much to do with the later success of others in that movement such as Kerouac and even more so, Burroughs. Noting the discussions in this thread about the movement, it's sort of like The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How many inductees never recorded a rock and roll song? How many do you have to literally sweat over to see their ties to the genre?

I recently had a rather long discussion with a West Coast poet/author about the many and varied attempts to place Bukowski in the Beat box and how utterly futile they seemed. Whether or not we choose to argue certain semantics, there "was" an SF Renaissance just as there was a Beat Movement and said movement spawned a generation of poets, whether good or bad, that might not have written even the first poem without it. The same can be said of Buk's work. Scads of poets emerged due to both a certain exposure as well as the accessibility of the work. And, poetry as an art form became a bit more popular. A.G., Buk, Richard Brautigan, and a very few others were all able to reach non-readers or non-literary types due to the basic conformist nature of the young. In other words, "We may be against the system, but we are united in our opposition." We conform in terms of our non-conformity. Hell, you could find "Trout Fishing in America," "The Prophet," and maybe "Siddhartha" on shelves in the dorm rooms and apartments of people who had no other books and had yet to even finish reading either of the three. It was just "a thing" as such.

If I tell the truth, I'm a much bigger "fan" of The New York and Black Mountain Schools (to whatever real extent the two can be separated.) Yet, who among their members can be said to have influenced any "non-writers" to the extent of The Beats. Of course, I acknowledge that this fact has only a relative importance. I recall the poet, William Slaughter, telling me once that his graduate writing teacher in the 60's had remarked that the real tragedy of the Vietnam War might ultimately be all of the crummy peace poems it was spawning at the time. By that same token, however, everyone who has ever attempted to create verse did so because of someone he/she read unless such was stimulated by song lyrics. And, though there are legions of "copiers," there are those who begin at some place such as The Beats or Buk and acutally are spurred to learn about poetry and work to improve their writing. It's in the same vein as someone being obsessed with a contemporary song and searching out information about the performer and/or the composer and seeing who their influences were and learning about the work of said influences. Such a thing can and often does become almost exponential.

With all of that having been said, there remains the "taste" or "subjective" element to all of poetry. I think one thing that can honestly be said is that if you mention "Howl" to someone who professes to be a poet and he/she doesn't know what you are talking about, you'll very likely find a person with a very limited reading background. Good, bad, or indifferent, the poem most assuredly made its mark like very few others. In terms of recognition in contemporary society it ranks with "The Wasteland" or "Song of Myself."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

HOWL celebrates fifty years!

(quote and photos from The Boston Globe. Thank you, Carter Monroe for pointing out this gem!)

Allen Ginsberg, above left, reading in San Francisco on Nov. 20, 1955, and above center, in New York City's Washington Square Park on Aug. 28, 1966. At right, the City Lights Pocket Poets edition of "Howl and Other Poems."

This fascinating article about Howl's role in the life of poetry in our country can be read in it's entirity in this Boston Globe article, which ends with this question...

So are ''Howl"'s latter-day adherents succumbing to false nostalgia in proclaiming the poem as a national monument? Not at all: The nostalgia is genuine. It's surely wishful thinking to imagine that poetry was ever close to the center of American public life, but in the clear light of hindsight it sure looks like it was within closer hailing distance once upon a time than seems remotely plausible today. If Ginsberg's message has stood the test of time better than his medium, that may be the real secret as to why his dirge still touches such a raw nerve. Poems don't set our ears on fire like that anymore, and they know better than to even try.

Do you agree with this article's conclusion?

And a personal question. Do you remember the first time you ever read Howl and how it impacted you? I was 20, living and working the summer in Manhattan before graduate school. The love I had for poetry had been drummed out of me by my college poetry professors. I remember someone handing me a copy of Howl. First of all you have to be aware of the setting, the times. It was the sixties. Past the time of the Beats, but their footprints were all over the city, from its coffee houses with jazz playing to those feelings of abandon and freedom the Village still gave you strolling the streets. When I read Howl, suddenly poetry was alive for me again. I read it and reread it, then read more Beat poetry. It was like finding something I'd lost. History has had a lot to say about Howl, including how terrible it was, but, for me, it was a gift. For that alone, I honor it!

If you haven't read Howl, do so.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Poets Against Plagiarism

Some of you are already either members or supporters of the new blog Poets Against Plagiarism. If you're not, please visit this blog and consider full membership, giving you the right to make new posts, or email one of us and become a supporter. This is for busy people who would like to steps to stop plagiarism, but don't have the time to actively participate. You would still have the right to comment, as you do on this blog, and that would be welcomed.

The plagiarism banner is on my page and that one. I ask you...please either copy this banner and post it somewhere on your blog, website, or your journal, if an editor, showing clearly that you're making a statement . If you have no way to host a banner, add a text link to the blog in capital letters so it stands out.

For now, follow the above link to the blog. Read through it and let's start joining together on this issue. True, our legal rights are nil, but we do have the right to ask that a proven plagiarist 'cease and desist'. Already, three plagiarised poems have been removed from one site due to mail from the original poet and a letter from me, as co-admin of that blog. So it DOES work!


Friday, May 19, 2006


Yesterday would've been my father's birthday. This is a picture of me with him outside our home in Bethune, South Carolina. We moved to Pageland when I was three and that's where I grew up and my parents lived out their lives till mother moved to Florida near me for the last six years of her life.

Today is my husband's birthday.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


My Uncle Bayle as a boy against a current surreal Florida skyline.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

In The Still of the Night....

Remember that old doo wap song?? In cleaning out a drawer, I ran across a newspaper interview by the song's writer. It's snall on this jpg, but a click will make it readable. We used to sing this on the band bus coming home after a parade, play it on our record players and dream to it about the man who would love us forever like the man did in this song. Sigh...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fires out of control in our state now.

We awoke this morning to find a coating of ash on both vehicles. If you haven't heard about the fires raging down here, the online news says:

The Sunshine State is sun-dried, reports CBS News correspondent Jim Acosta. Officials say a few scattered showers over the last 24 hours have done little to stop the fires burning all the way down to the Florida Everglades.

Statewide, 103 fires were burning across nearly 25,000 acres, according to the Division of Forestry.
Read this national online report for more.

This link is from The Palm Beach Post, our local newspaper.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Just Curious... see if my slide show at MySpace will also play here. The first part is personal photos and the second part taken from photos posted by some of the people I know and like on that site. The show's a lot better with music. On my profile I can have MP3's of real songs, but a midi's the best I can offer here. If you wish, hit the right arrow to start and watch. Hit the square to turn it off when through. It plays twice.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Two more by Redon (Click to Enlarge

Note: I googled Redon at and the following describes his work, as well as a book I have my eye on about him. A link to the book is in the comments under this post. As I posted back to Pat, I was last at the MOMA in 1988, before they amassed Redon's art. If it had been there then, the museum would've had to evict me:-)

From Amazon:

Book Description
Caught between description and dream, the felt and the imagined, French artist Odilon Redon, whose career bridged the 19th and 20th centuries, transformed the natural world into nightmarish visions and bizarre fantasies. Closely allied with the Symbolist movement, Redon offered his own interpretations of literary, biblical, and mythological subjects; created a universe of strange hybrid creatures; and presented landscape in a singular way: we see grinning disembodied teeth, smiling spiders, melancholic floating faces, winged chariots, unfamiliar plant life, and velvety black or colored swirls of atmosphere. With a recent gift from the Ian Woodner family, The Museum of Modern Art is now the site of the most significant body of the artist's work outside France, and this book will showcase the full range of Redon's varied oeuvre--charcoal "noirs," luminous pastels, richly textured canvases, literary collaborations, and experiments in printmaking--and will illuminate the hold his particular kind of modernism has had on both 20th-century and contemporary artists. Essay by Jodi Hauptman. Hardcover, 9.25 x 11 in./256 pgs / 142 color and 160 duotones.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Another artist I love

Head With Flowers by Redon

I saw my first Redon in the Washington D.C. National Gallery of Art in the seventies while attending an APA convention, and was transfixed. I didn't want to leave the painting and didn't for a long time. The friend who went with me was an artist by hobby, a fellow Psychologist by profession. He later found and sent me a book of Redon's work. I still have that book and pull it out to look at this man's amazing work. Lenny's heart attack and strokes, beginning in his fifties, gradually hampered and finally halted his ability to paint. Thank you, Lenny, for being my friend, for knowing that beauty and caring are both essential to a full life.

Monday, May 08, 2006

As promised...

If you listened to that wonderful first link in the National Geographic site of music from all over the world, here are , first the Finnish words, followed by a translation, thanks to my friend from Finland.

Suvetar hyvä emäntä
nouse harja katsomahan
viitimä emännän vilja
kun ei tuskihin tulisi

Manutar maan emäntä
nostele oras okinen
kannon karvanen ylennä
kun ei tuskihin tulisi

Syöttele metisin syömin
juottele metisin juomin
mesiheinin herkuttele
vihannalla mättähällä

siull on helkiät hopiat
siull on kullat kuulusammat

nouse jo neitonen
mustana mullasta

Akka mantereen alanen
vanhin luonnon tyttäristä
pane turve tunkomahan
maa väkevä vääntämähän

Akka mantereen alanen
vanhin luonnon tyttäristä
tuhansin neniä nosta
varsin vaivani näöstä

Suvetar, fine matron
Arise to see the seeds
Raise the matron's corn
So that we may be spared pain

Manutar, matron of the Earth
Lift up the shoots from the ground
New shoots from the stumps
So that we may be spared pain

Feed us with honey-hearts
Give us honey-drink
Delicious honey-grass
On a blossoming knoll

You have shining silver
You have glistening gold

Rise up, O maiden
Black from the soil

Underground crone
Most ancient of Nature's daughters
Make the peat shoot forth
And the ground turn over

Underground crone
Most ancient of Nature's daughters
Lift up a thousand seedlings
To reward my efforts.

Friday, May 05, 2006

National Geographic presents...

I've been resting, still slowly improving slowly from that med reaction and just checking my email, when my online National Geographic newsletter arrived with this wonderful site of vids and music from all over the world. I'm featuring a special one from Norway/Sweden, but click on the links above to find music from all over the world.

I gave this link to an online friend from Finland who directed me to a site describing the music in the video in this way. This poetic song tradition, sung in an unusual, archaic trochaic tetrametre, had been part of the oral tradition among speakers of Balto-Finnic languages for two thousand years.

She also offered to translate the video for me since they're singing in Finnish. When I get that, I'll post it either here or in a separate blog. Another reason I find the internet so wonderful.

I also found a video from Africa that entranced me! I don't know anybody in Africa, but if you do, pass it on.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Two Days

The last two days of my father's life
he mumbled to himself over the hiss
of the oxygen tank.
Eyelids lowered like windowshades,
pulled tight against that encroaching storm.
It's possible he was talking to angels,
messengers from another world come to claim him.
Perhaps old ghosts from his past, but
I'd like to think, at least part of that time,
he was recalling how my mother's hair
moved in the breeze when he first met her,
how pleased he was on the day
I crooned 'da da', the taste of fried green tomatoes
shared round our table late on a fall evening.

At the end of the second day,
I lay my head on his chest,
strained for one last glimpse into his eyes.
The shade finally fluttered.
For that second,
that one halleluja chorus second,
he saw me.
A tear slid down his cheek to my hand.
A baptism of sorts.
A christening.
A blessing of our time here on earth together.
A goodbye.

west wind

the west wind
ruffles my bottlebrush tree-
a mother's touch

(Thank all of you for your comments yesterday. It was a difficult day on many levels and I'm awake today with my throat throbbing and my head still bleary and throbbing, too, from the massive antibiotic I have to take when I have my teeth cleaned, due to a mitral valve occasional click. I don't do well on medications, as some of you know. And today is my long CFIDS day. I'm exhausted. I have notes for my doctor, since talking to him will be impossible. I may not see you, my internet friends, but I know you're there and I feel you. Know I appreciate you!)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

New Posting Habits

I'm going through a really low energy period right now. It happens. For a while, instead of trying to post every day, I'm going to a post every other day until I feel a bit stronger. I enjoy my blog and want to keep on enjoying it, so I have to take care that it doesn't become something that's too much to do.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Featuring Frida Kahlo

In 1953, when Frida Kahlo had her first solo exhibition in Mexico (the only one held in her native country during her lifetime), a local critic wrote: 'It is impossible to separate the life and work of this extraordinary person. Her paintings are her biography.' This observation serves to explain both why her work is so different from that of her contemporaries, the Mexican Muralists, and why she has since become a feminist icon. Her paintings were nearly all of herself and unflinching in their honesty and surrealistic expression of her struggles and experiences.

Frida Kahlo has earned my admiration, not only because she was a gifted artist, but because she overcame the obstacles of an extremely difficult life to do so. She had polio as a child and was housebound, recovering only to be involved in a horrible bus accident at the age of sixteen. Her body literally had to be pieced back together bit by bit and she was never free of pain from that time on, often bedridden again for periods of time. Before her death, the lower part of one leg had to be amputated. Her private showing in Mexico was a triumph. Her doctor had told her she must not leave her bed or she would risk her death. Instead, she had her bed carried to the opening in an ambulance so she could attend. A determined woman. A strong woman. A gifted woman. The love of her life was artist Diego Rivera.

I would highly recommend renting the doco 'The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo'.