laughter and howl



by Maxine Kumin

From a documentary on marsupials I learn
that a pillowcase makes a fine
substitute pouch for an orphaned kangaroo.
I am drawn to such dramas of animal rescue.
They are warm in the throat. I suffer, the critic proclaims,
from an overabundance of maternal genes.
Bring me your fallen fledgling, your bummer lamb,
lead the abused, the starvelings, into my barn.
Advise the hunted deer to leap into my corn.
And had there been a wild child—
filthy and fierce as a ferret, he is called
in one nineteenth-century account—
a wild child to love, it is safe to assume,
given my fireside inked with paw prints,
there would have been room.
Think of the language we two, same and not-same,
might have constructed from sign,
scratch, grimace, grunt, vowel:
Laughter our first noun, and our long verb, howl.
“Nurture” by Maxine Kumin from Selected Poems: 1960-1990. W. W. Norton, © 1997. Reprinted with the permission of the estate of Maxine Kumin.


It’s the birthday of the author Helen Churchill Candee, née Hungerford, in New York City (1858). One of her early books was a how-to guide, How Women May Earn a Living (1900). Her husband, Edward Candee, was abusive, and she eventually took the children and left him. As a single working mother, she wanted to make sure that other women could find ways to support themselves without relying on men. She wrote books on decorative arts, and also published a novel, An Oklahoma Romance, in 1901.
Once she was established as a writer, Candee moved to Washington, D.C., and became one of the first professional interior decorators; several high-powered politicians, including Theodore Roosevelt, were her clients.
She was in Europe early in 1912 when she received word that her son, Harold, had been injured in an accident. Naturally, she wanted to return home as soon as possible. From Cherbourg, she boarded a brand new luxury liner, the RMS Titanic, bound for New York. When the ship struck an iceberg near midnight on April 14 and began to sink, Candee boarded Lifeboat Six, under the command of quartermaster Robert Hitchens. She tried to persuade him to go back after the ship went down, to search for any survivors, but he refused. She wrote a dramatized account of the voyage for Collier’s Weekly magazine, about an unnamed man and woman. The story, called “Sealed Orders,” included a romantic sunset visit to the bow of the great ship, and it may have inspired parts of James Cameron’s movie Titanic (1997).

When Grands get out of hand…


Paul, Penny, and Lauren’s boys…Sept 2017


cast? birthday candles?

grimace? neck crunch?Paul-dismay?

Penny-frown from far?

I’m trying to reach you…


feeling for the portal
pat, pat, pat
are you in the wire?
squeeze, squeeze, squeeze
in the phone waves?
buzzz, buzzz, buzzz
stacked in the posts?
shuffle, shuffle, shuffle
waiting, face to face?
grimace, grimace, grimace
feeling my way to your preferences:

grab, grab, grab

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