Showing posts from 2016

School food is sui generis

Here's a poem I wrote to make you hungry!

School: Food They say an army moves on its stomach. So school must be an army. Korean food: garlicky kim-chi, rice-veggie-beef  bibampap.
Studying is brain work and depletes the brain of energy. Energy=calories, so studying calls for food. Mexican food: lardy refried beans, corn-husk-wrapped tamales.
Studying makes you think about food:                 2x + 3y=5 pieces of California roll sushi A sonnet ends with a couplet, two rhyming lines, which implies two chimichangas (but not from Chipotle).
The school café is okay, but limited. Favorites are                 Tomato bisque soup                 Egg salad sandwich with sprouts on whole-wheat toast.
Just down the street you can get some Italian food:                 Calzones, antipasto, NY cheesecake.
They won’t let you eat in classrooms with decent carpet, but I say that if the carpet is nasty and stained,                 go ahead and eat.
In moments of desperation, you can go to the ranks of vending ma…


Here, where the world is quiet;           Here, where all trouble seems  Dead winds' and spent waves' riot           In doubtful dreams of dreams;  I watch the green field growing  For reaping folk and sowing,  For harvest-time and mowing,           A sleepy world of streams. 
I am tired of tears and laughter,           And men that laugh and weep;  Of what may come hereafter           For men that sow to reap:  I am weary of days and hours,  Blown buds of barren flowers,  Desires and dreams and powers           And everything but sleep. 
Here life has death for neighbour,           And far from eye or ear  Wan waves and wet winds labour,           Weak ships and spirits steer;  They drive adrift, and whither  They wot not who make thither;  But no such winds blow hither,           And no such things grow here. 
No growth of moor or coppice,           No heather-flower or vine,  But bloomless buds of poppies,           Green grapes of Proserpine,  Pale beds of blowing rushes  …

Fog by Carl Sandburg, 1878 - 1967

The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on.

Theme in Yellow by Carl Sandburg, 1878 - 1967

I spot the hills With yellow balls in autumn. I light the prairie cornfields Orange and tawny gold clusters And I am called pumpkins. On the last of October When dusk is fallen Children join hands And circle round me Singing ghost songs And love to the harvest moon; I am a jack-o’-lantern With terrible teeth And the children know I am fooling.

All Souls’ Night, 1917 by Hortense King Flexner

You heap the logs and try to fill The little room with words and cheer, But silent feet are on the hill, Across the window veiled eyes peer. The hosts of lovers, young in death, Go seeking down the world to-night, Remembering faces, warmth and breath— And they shall seek till it is light. Then let the white-flaked logs burn low, Lest those who drift before the storm See gladness on our hearth and know There is no flame can make them warm. Jakub Schikaneder, All Souls' Day

With malice toward none...

In "The Education of Abraham Lincoln," writer and educator Chip Denton says,

"Abraham Lincoln was educated, as he said in his inimitable fashion, 'by littles.' All his formal schooling—a week here, a month there--did not amount to one year, and mostly he educated himself by borrowing books and newspapers. He loved Robinson Crusoe and the tales of The Arabian Nights, a biography of Washington, and the poetry of Shakespeare and Burns. Someone recalled, 'I never saw Abe after he was twelve that he didn’t have a book in his hand or in his pocket. It didn’t seem natural to see a feller read like that.' Fond of talking and story telling, he found a book called Lessons in Elocution and began practicing his public speaking from a tree stump."

Lincoln evidently absorbed the art of rhetoric in this process, as is apparent in his Second Inaugural Address. Remember, he made this speech in the days in which people actually wrote their own speeches! Note the par…

Home Burial by Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963

He saw her from the bottom of the stairs Before she saw him. She was starting down, Looking back over her shoulder at some fear. She took a doubtful step and then undid it To raise herself and look again. He spoke Advancing toward her: ‘What is it you see From up there always--for I want to know.' She turned and sank upon her skirts at that, And her face changed from terrified to dull. He said to gain time: ‘What is it you see,' Mounting until she cowered under him. ‘I will find out now--you must tell me, dear.' She, in her place, refused him any help With the least stiffening of her neck and silence. She let him look, sure that he wouldn’t see, Blind creature; and awhile he didn’t see. But at last he murmured, ‘Oh,' and again, ‘Oh.' ‘What is it--what?' she said. ‘Just that I see.' ‘You don’t,' she challenged. ‘Tell me what it is.' ‘The wonder is I didn’t see at once. I never noticed it from here before. I must be wonted to it--that’s t…

Monadnock in Early Spring by Amy Lowell, 1874 - 1925

Cloud-topped and splendid, dominating all
    The little lesser hills which compass thee,
    Thou standest, bright with April’s buoyancy,
Yet holding Winter in some shaded wall
Of stern, steep rock; and startled by the call
    Of Spring, thy trees flush with expectancy
    And cast a cloud of crimson, silently,
Above thy snowy crevices where fall
    Pale shrivelled oak leaves, while the snow beneath
    Melts at their phantom touch. Another year
Is quick with import. Such each year has been.
    Unmoved thou watchest all, and all bequeath
    Some jewel to thy diadem of power,
Thou pledge of greater majesty unseen.

I Know My Soul by Claude McKay, 1889 - 1948

I plucked my soul out of its secret place,
And held it to the mirror of my eye,
To see it like a star against the sky,
A twitching body quivering in space,
A spark of passion shining on my face.
And I explored it to determine why
This awful key to my infinity
Conspires to rob me of sweet joy and grace.
And if the sign may not be fully read,
If I can comprehend but not control,
I need not gloom my days with futile dread,
Because I see a part and not the whole.
Contemplating the strange, I’m comforted
By this narcotic thought: I know my soul.

[Today I swam to the bottom of the ocean] by James Vrhovac

Today I swam to the bottom of the ocean, 

where I need not adequately dress, 

for there is no one to correctly impress, 

so settle silt and sand on a conviction, 

to challenge the barnacles for daring to filter life without ever risking,

the deeper waters 

where the cargo of a thousand overlooked containers 
ride the floor 

in a broken parody of Jormungandr's spine

waiting for a lightning strike to smite the rusting blight 

we so hope we can blind ourselves to the reality of.

Pastoral by William Carlos Williams, 1883 - 1963

The little sparrows
Hop ingenuously
About the pavement
With sharp voices
Over those things
That interest them.
But we who are wiser
Shut ourselves in
On either hand
And no one knows
Whether we think good
Or evil.
                  Then again,
The old man who goes about
Gathering dog lime
Walks in the gutter
Without looking up
And his tread
Is more majestic than
That of the Episcopal minister
Approaching the pulpit
Of a Sunday.
These things
Astonish me beyond words.


As a fond mother, when the day is o'er,    Leads by the hand her little child to bed,    Half willing, half reluctant to be led,    And leave his broken playthings on the floor, Still gazing at them through the open door,    Nor wholly reassured and comforted    By promises of others in their stead,    Which, though more splendid, may not please him more; So Nature deals with us, and takes away    Our playthings one by one, and by the hand    Leads us to rest so gently, that we go Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,    Being too full of sleep to understand    How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

Spring Haiku by Basho

Spring air —     woven moon and plum scent.

Alone Looking at the Mountain by Li Po

All the birds have flown up and gone; 
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by. 
We never tire of looking at each other - 
Only the mountain and I.
*********************** Li Po 701–762

"A Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty, Li Po (also known as Li Bai, Li Pai, Li T’ai-po, and Li T’ai-pai) was probably born in central Asia and grew up in Sichuan Province. He left home in 725 to wander through the Yangtze River Valley and write poetry. In 742 he was appointed to the Hanlin Academy by Emperor Xuanzong, though he was eventually expelled from court. He then served the Prince of Yun, who led a revolt after the An Lushan Rebellion of 755. Li Po was arrested for treason; after he was pardoned, he again wandered the Yangtze Valley. He was married four times and was friends with the poet Tu Fu.
Li Po wrote occasional verse and poems about his own life. His poetry is known for its clear imagery and conversational tone. His work influenced a number of 20th-century poets, including Ezra Pound and James W…

Анна Каренина under the train

Anna Karenina and that train.
Having an affair is not unforgiveable, among high-class folks,
but you can’t take it seriously.
Anna falls in love with her partner in adultery, Count Vronsky,
but can’t make up her mind to leave her civil-servant hubby. What to do?
Anna Karenina and that train.
She tries to make a go of it with Vronsky in Italy, to live with her true love,
but they are shunned.
She can’t make up her mind to leave hubby; it’s a social-position thing.
So what’s left? A face-down plant on the train tracks.
Anna Karenina and that train.
----Sara Tusek

Descending Poem

My creative writing teacher gave us an assignment: write a 10-line poem based on length of lines. The first line is 10 words (not syllables, but words), the second is 9 words, down to line 10 (one word).

Here is my poem.

How to know you are in Seminole County
Here are three surefire signs you are in Seminole County.
Number one, there is always junk on the road.
Dead, bloated armadillo, half-squashed, next to palm fronds.
Number two, former Northerners are all around.
When it’s cold, they wear hats.
Number three, there’s no beach.
No coast, no beach.
No sea water.
No sand.


There is the Beginning

There’s the beginning, which is always confusing. No one knows the rules except the old hands, and they struggle to explain what’s going on. The newbies strive, some of them, while others give up almost immediately.
Then the middle. a long slog. It’s become quite clear what is expected: work, work, and more work.
And the end—it’s always the same. The end comes suddenly crashing through the door, sweeping everyone up into a frenzy. No use trying to plan rationally-the end is always the same.
And then it’s over. Time for some newbies,
---By Sara Tusek
This poem describes taking a class at college, but it can be looked at from other angles--any new commitment starts, continues, and ends this way.