Monday, January 28, 2008

Mark Twain & Standardized Spelling

This tickles my funny-bone in a special kind of way. Enjoy, and good luck.

A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter c would be dropped to be replased either by k or s, and likewise x would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which c would be retained would be the ch formation, which will be dealt with later.

Year 2 might reform w spelling, so that which and one would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish y replasing it with i and Iear 4 might fiks the g/j anomali wonse and for all.

Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.

Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez c, y and x -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais ch, sh, and th rispektivli.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

Mark Twain

More Tabloid Poetry

Beloved, apparently, also posted his class assignment for today, a poem titled The Man in the Moon is a Peeping Tom. WARNING: this poem is not for the faint of heart, and for best comic effect, it should be read as breathlessly as possible.


28 January 2008, 10:23 AM
Today's song is 100 Years by Five for Fighting. If you have time, go watch the video on It's such a profoundly hopeful song to me. Guess what? It's never too late.

I find we're not lost,
our passports are not ruined by the ravagings.
There's time to stop and breathe,
to catch the next train together,
to laugh and shout our names
into the wind, race to the top of the hill,
find ourselves a little worse for wear,
but not so much as we had first supposed,
breathing harder, deeper than we thought possible.
I believed the race had found us unprepared.
Now I see the mystery revealed
has stolen stale breath away, replaced
our expiration with this sandalwood incense-
it's not too late to live, to grieve,
to love and leave the past where it lies,
step into this beautiful work of art,
where even the dark is the warm and welcoming
closeness of my breath upon your neck--
your hands find my face in the lightless
moments after midnight,
long before the sun returns.

40 Years

27 January 2008, 10:26 PM
Another writing assignment from Beloved's poetry class--read a tabloid and let it inspire poetry. Let me tell you something--tabloids don't inspire a whole lot of anything outside of disgust. But we found one or two articles with a nugget of poetry-grade silly waiting to be found.

You can see them in his old Chevy wagon
with the wood side-boards, Moses
hanging out the window pointing left,
“Oy, it’s HOT in here!”
And Aaron, driving, shouts back
over the failing transmission,
“No, we’ve BEEN that way before!”
Miriam sits in the back seat,
fans herself with a worn out, decades old
copy of the Alexandria Times-
she gave up years ago the suggestion
that they stop at the BP, check the oil
and ask which way to the Milk and Honey.

Weekly World News headline: “WHY MOSES WANDERED IN THE DESERT FOR FORTY YEARS: He lost the map!”

Friday, January 25, 2008

My Neighbor

25 January 2008, 12:02 PM
…endure even unto death…anything evil can produce without producing evil in return.—paraphrased from Father Thomas Hopko’s lecture series, The Word of the Cross.

My question’s answer is on the page
Nevertheless I cannot read the lovely,
lilting script— written ages ago, the ink
has faded, the stone eroded, the sign
has borne the wind and rain too long
and cannot bear the Truth as well—
the letters drop one by one, tears
in an unending barrage of tide
and time-marches-on

and over what was true
years ago, what I still know
to be true in less comfortable
parts of my self. We parted ways,
my neighbor and I—
we took our anger with us as we went.

Notwithstanding, the answer remains
unchanged—though words
should wear away with time,
and despite the chip upon my shoulder,
fallen from the ledger book I keep
whose faded ink never fails
to keep accounts—I know my neighbour,
and I know not how to love him.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Reading Aloud

23 January 2008, 10:15 PM
Beloved is taking a poetry class which, sadly, I am unable to attend because of the time when they meet. This was yesterday's assignment: To write a poem using descriptors that originate from senses other than sight- in other words, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations.

Crackle-snap scent of sulfur
and nearly fireproof, unseasoned wood
finally burning,
its virtue seeps through satin and silk
as story spans the distance
whence you longed for a listener,
whither I yearned to hear what goodness,
what light might be borne upon every word.

Chenille drapes heavy as my eyelids,
caramel and crème linger hot on my tongue.
I drift through sandalwood—


24 January 2008, 9:11 AM

Sundry fuses of assorted origins—
of varying lengths and flammability—
lead to the same stolid surface
of a seething, seldom-righteous
indignation, fairly tapped at times,
though often precipitously misplaced,
unjustly projected upon an unwitting
trigger—innocuous if not innocent
object upon which blind angst is spent
in the offender’s apparent absence.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Snow Day

22 January 2008, 8:47 PM

A rubber band stretched
down the length of a meter stick-
poised at the peak of potential energy
and more than prepared to put an eye out.

They never did snap. Nor did I.
But at day’s end, it seems I may as well have,
emotions limp as an elastic loop in the corner
of a room where I anticipated hell
as the children laughed, played,
grew tired of each other,
and all went well.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mandolin Rain

I rediscovered a song last night that I haven't really listened to since highschool. Bruce Hornsby & the Range had two songs that everyone knew, even if they didn't care for them. They were The Way It Is and Mandolin Rain.

I was always particularly fond of Mandolin Rain. I couldn't have said why back then other than the fact that I loved the way he played (piano), and I loved his voice, and his style, and and and... I guess those are reasons enough.

As I listened last night, though, we were sending our daughter- my step-daughter, I call her Epona- back to her mom after a short visit here with us- me, my husband and my son (the Yob). Something in the song struck a chord with the situation- the joy the kids bring with them, a portion of which walks out the door with them every time they leave, the bittersweet sadness that's a part of daily life in a blended family, the irrevocability of all the little broken pieces that led us to this place where we get to redeem as much as we can, and learn to live with what can't be borne. The joys come and go, and we always know in the back of our minds, or very much in the forefront, that what we have will never quite feel whole, but you'd have to wrench it from our cold, dead hands if you wanted to take it away from us.

Bruce Hornsby & the Range

The song came and went
Like the times that we spent
Hiding out from the rain under the carnival tent
I laughed and she'd smile
It would last for awhile
You don't know what you've got 'til you lose it all again

Listen to the mandolin rain
Listen to the music on the lake
Listen to my heart break every time she runs away
Listen to the banjo wind
A sad song drifting low
Listen to the tears roll
Down my face as she turns to go

A cool evening dance
Listening to the bluegrass band
Takes the chill from the air till they play the last song
I'll do my time keeping you off my mind
but there's moments that I find, I'm not feeling so strong

Listen to the mandolin rain
Listen to the music on the lake
Listen to my heart break every time she runs away
Listen to the banjo wind
A sad song drifting low
Listen to the tears roll
Down my face as she turns to go

Running down by the lakeshore
She did love the sound of a summer storm
It played on the lake like a mandolin
Now its washing her away once again

Listen to the mandolin rain
Listen to the music on the lake
Listen to my heart break every time she runs away
Listen to the banjo wind
A sad song drifting low
Listen to the tears roll
Down my face as she turns to go

The boat's steaming in
I watch the sidewheel spin
And I think about her when I hear that whistle blow
I can't change my mind
I knew all the time that she'd go
But that's a choice I made long ago

Listen to the mandolin rain
Listen to the music on the lake
Listen to my heart break every time she runs away
Listen to the banjo wind
A sad song drifting low
Listen to the tears roll
Down my face as she turns to go

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Others

15 January 2008, 8:06 PM

She came and spread a little laughter
on a meal that was lovelier
for her presence, and filled us more
than it would have without her.
There’s no need- only a longing
for those clear blue eyes to have come
from mine, from his, and no other’s.

She came, and she went, and she left us
aching as if we might one day attain something
we’ll never have, even when they both come home
and we are We, for just a moment,
without the Others.

The Rains of Africa

Monday, January 14, 2008

For Me

12 January 2008, 4:50 PM

I keep wanting to start, but find myself afraid.
I want to know I'm beautiful, even if I don’t run
fifteen miles every week- I want to know
I can feed myself, not punish or comfort with food,
that whatever the outcome, whatever the shape
toward which I tend, you love me, you love my look
because this skin is mine.

The Shadows keep me from moving, even from staying
where I am. Almost I think they keep me in the past.
I’d like to lay them down and stay right here
with you- never look back again.

If only breathing were so simple. But wait;
hold your breath for me, until I can hear and feel
and see it’s over now, it’s over now, and soon, I hope,
I’ll find I'm free to live, to breathe, to eat, to run

for me.


14 January 2008, 8 AM

Outright animosity
is too obvious- there are a dozen ways
to indicate she’s not welcome without saying
so explicitly. Two empty seats and the choice
of a neighbor of one color or the other
could be enough to make a statement;
impart a wound to last a lifetime.

An exclusive crowd can be so sophisticated.

But it’s prejudice nonetheless- a shunning
seemingly deniable after the girl leaves
their circle for want
of an unconditional friend.

Inspired by The Weekend Wordsmith

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Rubrics Cube (sic)

12 January 2008, 9:30 PM

He could solve a Rubik’s Cube
in five minutes flat every time-
that was enough for him.

Not that there was anything
inherently wrong in doing so-
at first she was even fascinated.
But so many mysteries were spoiled,
and she's always been one for mystery.
Knowing he had the secrets
didn’t seem to be the point for her.
Love is not a checked off list
of rote rubrics- nor was she.

She hasn’t held a Rubik’s Cube in years.
The magic was never really there, and hope
of thwarting the frustration factor
was all that kept him going.

Inspired by The Weekend Wordsmith.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Made by Human Hands

12 January 2008, 11:53 AM

I acknowledge all things made by human
hands contain poetry, no matter how rife
with violence, cloaked in ugliness, or hidden
in the depths of a hatred which seems to indicate
nothing beyond mindless bigotry, yet contains—
within chaotic rage, madness, shamefully perfunctory
patterns of self-perpetuating crimes against humanity—
a form of organic meaning,
some sense of relationship—
existence in reference to other.

Inspired by The Weekend Wordsmith.

What An African Woman Thinks: Justice and Peace

Read What An African Woman Thinks: Justice and Peace.

This particular post brought tears to my eyes. It's good to hear stories of sanity and small acts of kindness which, in the end, really are not so very small in the midst of such horrendous violence.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Windy Day- finis

I think I might be done painting now for a while. At any rate, I'm plum out of images right at the moment. I'm very happy with this one. There are still a couple of things to be done- the yellow paint is very transparent, and needs several coats to cover the sketch beneath it. Other than that, though, it's finished.

Windy Day

This one started in my mind years ago as a poem (senryu, I believe):

The tide is turning.
I stand on the cusp of life
awaiting rebirth.

I hadn't connected the two (the poem and the painting) until I sat down to paint this morning, but they definitely go together. The painting is not yet finished. I blocked in the color last night so our daughter would be able to see it before she leaves us for the next week. She was impressed.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


9 January 2008, 9:25 AM
A young woman told her story to a CNN reporter.

All is comfort and quiet. A full refrigerator hums,
the clock ticks- a quarter after nine,
and I haven't stirred to shower or do anything
worthwhile today. As I procrastinate,

a woman in Nairobi sits in a crowded camp
helplessly watching her child begin to go hungry
and her husband's slow, unaided journey back
from a machete-crazed abyss of hatred
and blind rage. His wounds will heal,
though he may not, nor his children,
nor the wife of his youth. For who finds
the dark and twisted path back to the land
of the living from this rape of humanity?

I find myself perturbed at my annoyance
upon finding my coffee cold. There is nothing for it-
I am helpless- am I complacent?-
and she will watch- today,
the day after-

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Fields

7 January 2008, 12:17 PM

O, Beloved- you've told me of your Africa,
and I've longed to see Kericho, and the lovely
green fields of tea- the flavor embodied
in the top two leaves and the buds of Kenyan chai.
I could almost see the kinsmen of your heart
walking through the fields, singing beautiful songs,
laughing and flashing bright colors in the wind and rain.

How many died in the fields today?

So strange to grieve so deeply for a place and a people
I have never seen except through your eyes. But I do,
Beloved. I mourn the ebony of midnight skies,
the white diamonds scattered within, the red
of an African sunset, and the blood
seeping into the emerald fields.

Saturday, January 05, 2008




5 January 2008, 1:44 PM

The waters are blessed, running backwards
in exactly the same way time does not.
Fish are thrown from chaos into order,
in exactly the same way we wish
our little ones would be.

But even the fish were forced upstream
for a bit in the coming of the Lord;
even the Forerunner must have known
at least a moment of panic before fulfilling
the Word, his hand upon the head
of the One the angels dare not touch.

Perhaps this is the storm- our panic,
wondering what the hell we’re doing-
the moment just before blessing.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Have worked on this painting since last I posted it. In some ways, I'm happier with it now than I was before. In some ways, I think it needs more work. Not entirely happy with the shading.


Have worked on this painting since last I posted it. In some ways, I'm happier with it now than I was before. In some ways, I think it needs more work. Not entirely happy with the shading.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


My husband and I have discovered a fabulous new fire-resistant substance, and it's stacked 4X4X16 against the back wall of the garage. We got this wood for a comparative steal from a local vendor, and provided you can get it to catch, it burns for a good long time. Getting it lit is the trick. My WORD.

Luckily, while we have discovered the least flammable wood ever to grace the planet, we have also discovered a very handy source of kindling: leftover building supplies. Nothing goes up in smoke like a treated 2x2. Is that not a little frightening?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


1 January 2008, 8:29 PM

Elysium is never what we think,
rarely even what we want, truth be told.
Yet here is one blade between us-

this one gift never fades.

Two others come and go, but this is ours-
small though the comfort may be
when the little ones are parted from us,
this succor nonetheless is ours,
and light and life and goodness enough
to sustain us as we learn
the bitter-sweet, brutally blessed curse;
the gracious, double-edged cut of the blade.

George MacDonald

"Home is ever so far away in the palm of your hand, and how to get there it is of no use to tell you. But you will get there; you must get there; you have to get there. Everybody who is not at home, has to go home."

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