On this day in the year 600, Pope Gregory the Great declared “God bless you” to be the correct response to a sneeze. It was once thought that sneezing was an omen of death, since many dying people fell into sneezing fits. People responded to sneezing with good luck chants. Later, the Hebrew Talmud called sneezing “pleasure sent from God”; and the Greeks and Romans believed that sneezing was a good omen. They responded to sneezes with “Long may you live!” or “May you enjoy good health.” Pope Gregory introduced the response of “God bless you” when the plague was at its height in Europe, hoping that the quick prayer would protect the sneezer from sickness and death. As the plague spread across Europe, the new response spread with it and has survived to this day.

Post Hoc
by Jennifer Maier

It happened because he looked a gift horse in the mouth.
It happened because he couldn’t get that monkey off his back.
It happened because she didn’t chew 22 times before swallowing.
What was she thinking, letting him walk home alone from the bus stop?
What was he thinking, standing up in the boat like that?
Once she signed those papers the die was cast.
She should have waited an hour before going in; everyone knows
salami and seawater don’t mix.
He should have checked his parachute a seventh time;
you can never be too careful.
Why didn’t she declare her true feelings?
Why didn’t she play hard to get? She could be out at some
nice restaurant right now instead of in church, praying
for the strength to let him go.
It all started with that tattoo.
It all started with her decision to order the chicken salad.
Why was he so picky?
Why wasn’t she more discriminating?
He should have read the writing on the wall; listened
to the still small voice, had a lick of sense. But how could he when he
was blinded by passion? Deaf to warnings? Really dumb?
Why, why, in God’s name, did he run with scissors?
If only they’d asked Jesus for help.
If only they’d asked their friends for help.
If only they’d ignored the advice of others and held fast
to their own convictions, they might all be here, now,
with us, instead of six feet under; instead of trying to adopt
that foreign baby, instead of warming that barstool
at the Road Not Taken Eatery and Lounge, wondering how it might all
have been different, if only they had done
the right thing.

Jennifer Maier, “Post Hoc” from Dark Alphabet. © Jennifer Maier. Used with permission of Southern Illinois University Press,

In dependance on: Rebecca…Amy…

Fibonacci created the math Jeanne created the colors

Fibonacci created the math
Jeanne created the colors

by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Emerald glitter
fills the sky;
a thousand dashing
dragon eyes
sparkle! flash!
climb —
leaving Earth
Roman candles
diamonds dazzle,
spilling silver
stars of fire–
blasting bits
of copper wire.
Sapphires crumble
in the sky,
tinsel tumbles
down to die,
onto city streets
and roads;
The sky
–Rebecca Kai Dotlich, from LEMONADE SUN, all rights reserved
I’d like to thank Amy for giving me permission to post a poem from FOREST HAS A SONG today.

Photo and Mask by Jeanne

Photo and Mask by Jeanne

First Flight
by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Mommy, I’m scared to be this high.
All owls are scared on their first try.

My tail feathers feel so tingly with fear.
You can do it. Calm down. Careful now. Steer.

I can’t see a thing through all this black.
Just go to Spruce and come right back.


Look, Mom! I made it! Wow! I can fly!
I knew you could. You were born for sky.

From FOREST HAS A SONG (Clarion, 2013)
Posted with permission of the author.

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