wind watching…


The Writer’s Almanac for Monday, May 3, 2021

Wind Watching
 by Khalisa Rae
What if Dorothy wasn’t afraid of the wind?

What if she welcomed the cyclone?
The thought of being lifted, suspended

in air as release. What if she saw
it as escape, being tossed and jolted?

 a change would occur if she shook fast
enough. Maybe she liked not knowing

if her body would survive the catch and release.
Maybe being picked up

and let
 go in another’s chaos was freeing.
I imagine she was raptured before the light of the day

had kissed the earth.

The swirl approached and she went willingly.

Threw her head and arms back,
and let it consume her.
Maybe she had been waiting to be swept off her feet

by a wild, uncontrollable thing.

Khalisa Rae, “Wind Watching” from Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat. Copyright © 2021 by Khalisa Rae. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC

Red Hair


The Writer’s Almanac for Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Red Never Lasts

by Anya Krugovoy Silver

There’s no doubt it’s the most glamorous,

the one you reach for first—its luscious gloss.

Russian Roulette, First Dance, Apéritif, Cherry Pop.

For three days, your nails are a Ferris wheel,

a field of roses, a flashing neon Open sign.

Whatever you’re wearing

feels like a tight dress

and your hair tousles like Marilyn’s on the beach.

But soon, after dishwashing, typing, mopping,

the chips begin, first at the very tips and edges

where you hardly notice, then whole shards.

Eventually, the fuss is too much to maintain.

Time to settle in to the neutral tones.

Baby’s Breath, Curtain Call, Bone.

“Red Never Lasts” by Anya Krugovoy Silver from from nothing.

© Louisiana State University Press, 2016. Reprinted with permission

Poet in Amhearst

Emily DickinsonPlease go see this wonderful movie about Emily Dickinson:


Emily Dickinson
It’s the birthday of the woman who wrote: “My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun — / In Corners — till a Day / The Owner passed — identified — / And carried Me away.” That’s the poet Emily Dickinson, born in Amherst (1830).
Emily Dickinson is one of the most-speculated-about writers in history — in popular myth, she was a virginal recluse who dressed all in white and then wrote passionate poems that were so unlike anything being written at the time. Relatively little is known about her life, and biographers often try to use clues in her poems to guess about her habits, personality, and sexuality. The Oxford professor Lyndall Gordon published a biography called Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s Feuds (2010).
In her biography, Gordon has one major theory that is impossible to prove: She thinks that Emily Dickinson was epileptic, and that this explains the strange jolts and bursts of her language. Gordon says that the drugs Dickinson was prescribed could have been used to treat epilepsy, and thinks that if Dickinson was epileptic, it would also explain her reclusiveness — she was scared that she would have a spell of a disease that was still very stigmatized in the 19th century.
Most of Gordon’s biography, though, is about the Dickinson family, one of the most prominent families in Amherst. Emily’s father was severe, with a strict moral code. She later wrote in a letter to a friend: “His Heart was pure and terrible and I think no other like it exists.” Emily didn’t learn to tell time until she was 15 because she was afraid to tell her father that she hadn’t understood his explanation of clocks. Her mother took good care of everyone but was not particularly warm, and she was more interested in cooking, keeping a clean house, and gardening than in the intellectual debates that the rest of the Dickinsons loved.
Emily had two siblings, Austin and Lavinia. Austin was the a handsome and accomplished man. Like his father, and unlike Emily, he was a very public person — he served on countless committees, oversaw civic projects and business ventures, and was deeply involved in his church.
Austin had a 13-year love affair with Mabel Loomis Todd, the wife of an Amherst astronomy professor, a talented and charismatic young woman. Austin and Mabel met in the Homestead several afternoons a week for sexual trysts in the living room, during which Emily was confined upstairs. Mabel’s husband knew about their relationship and was fine with it. Austin’s wife, Susan, knew about their relationship and was miserable because of it, but she had children and a reputation to uphold.
To make things even more complicated, Emily and Susan were very close. Susan was also a writer, and a good listener, and Emily gave her more than 250 poems over the years. Sue shared her library with Emily, and passed along her favorite books. Emily wrote more than 300 letters to Susan. But it was Mabel, Austin’s mistress, whom Emily never once met face-to-face, who ended up editing and publishing her poems and making her famous. The poet had only published a handful of poems during her life. After Emily’s death in 1886 at the age of 55, her sister Lavinia found nearly 1,800 poems in Emily’s desk.
When Mabel and Lavinia published the first book of Emily Dickinson’s poems in 1890, it went through 11 editions in a year and sold 11,000 copies.

from the Writers’ Almanac for Dec 10, 2019


every death is a birthday…


John fathers Owen



Owen fathers Oliver


The Writer’s Almanac for Sunday, December 1, 2019

December 1st 

by Billy Collins


Today is my mother’s birthday,

but she’s not here to celebrate

by opening a flowery card

or looking calmly out a window.

If my mother were alive,

she’d be 114 years old,

and I am guessing neither of us

would be enjoying her birthday very much.

Mother, I would love to see you again

to take you shopping or to sit

in your sunny apartment with a pot of tea,

but it wouldn’t be the same at 114.

And I’m no prize either,

almost 20 years older than the last time

you saw me sitting by your deathbed.

Some days, I look worse than yesterday’s oatmeal.

Happy Birthday, anyway. Happy Birthday to you.

Here I am in a wallpapered room

raising a glass of birthday whiskey

and picturing your face, the brooch on your collar.

It must have been frigid that morning

in the hour just before dawn

on your first December 1st

at the family farm a hundred miles north of Toronto.

I imagine they had you wrapped up tight,

and there was your tiny pink face

sticking out of the bunting,

and all those McIsaacs getting used to saying your name.
“December 1st” by Billy Collins from The Rain in Portugal. Random House, © 2016. Reprinted by permission of Chris Calhoun Agency.

Battle Hymn

Battle Hymn

Please click on this link to hear the Battle Hymn:


It was on this date in 1861 that Mrs. Julia Ward Howe sat down and wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic. The poem was first published in the February 1862 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, and later set to the popular melody “Glory Hallelujah.”

The Writer’s Almanac for Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Gettysburg Address
by Abraham Lincoln
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
“Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln. Public Domain.

the captivity of babies…


Owen holds the newborn and the 2 year old


The Writer’s Almanac for Sunday, November 10, 201

On the Captivity of Babies 
by Margaret Hasse

Now that winter’s halfway here,

leaves swirl coldly
and babies aren’t seen much

except in the captivity of nurseries

lumbering with their hands
drawn into roses.

Babies are unto themselves,

a little sub-culture, none of whom suspects

how many other babies are being held

all over the world.

Babies escape slowly

from the little pens, the seatbelts,

the restraining arms.

It’s brilliant. Few notice

how tricky babies are.

On occasion, an aunt might fix
 a BB sharp eye on the little one,

and fire, “My how you’ve grown!”

The escaping baby feels very uncomfortable.

Babies enter the world impeccable and wise.

They leave their little prisons,

put nakedness in abeyance,

take on the clothes of the world,

spend a long time trying to locate

a perfect love

that resembles their first.
From time to time, they achieve glimpses.

As when an aging baby

late for a business appointment

sits dreamily in his car,

cigarette’s blue smoke

lingering in curlicues.

Before him a large leaf

shoved by the windshield wipers, is waving.

Or when a woman who has never run

to breathlessness, does so.

Amazed she does not burst,

she draws in large packages of air,

thinks of air as the new blood.
“On the Captivitiy of Babies” by Margaret Hasse from Stars Above, Stars Below © Nodin Press, 2018. Reprinted with permission

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