Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Thanks to the New York Times and CQ Transcriptions for the text to Elizabeth Alexander's Inaugural Poem.

Let the Whining Begin! (Or in the case of Packer a Preemptive Strike)

Erica Wagner at Times on Line

The Opinionater

The New Yorker's George Packer on "Presidential Poetry,"

Packer's "Ars Poetica Redux,"

The Weekly Rader

The inaugural poet followed, a sort of filler, with a long windup, a few good phrases in the middle ("someone is trying to make music somewhere ... a teacher says, 'Take out your pencils. Begin'"), and then it trailed off into some misty thoughts about love. And then a big horn blast of a benediction. -Garrison Keillor

...help us work for that day when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right." -The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Poe Stamp Big Bang!

From the Post Office Website: In 2009, the U.S. Postal Service commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, one of America’s most extraordinary poets and fiction writers. For more than a century and a half, Poe and his works have been praised by admirers around the world, including English poet laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who dubbed Poe “the literary glory of America.” British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called him “the supreme original short story writer of all time.”

The stamp portrait of Edgar Allan Poe is by award-winning artist Michael J. Deas, whose research over the years has made him well acquainted with Poe’s appearance. In 1989, Deas published The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe, a comprehensive collection of images featuring authentic likenesses as well as derivative portraits.

Down at the bottom of this article on the stamp is the news that Poe may have "pioneered the idea of the Big Bang theory for the birth of the universe in his non-fiction work, "Eureka, A Prose Poem." The piece was adapted from a lecture Poe had given.

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Carol Adair Rest in Peace

Poet Laureate Kay Ryan's partner Carol Adair to whom she was married twice - once at San Francisco City Hall in 2004, the second time at the Marin Civic Center in 2008, on the same day Ryan learned she had been named U.S. poet laureate, died of cancer on January 3rd, 2009. They were together for 30 years. From her San Francisco Gate obituary, "She met her life partner, Kay Ryan, in 1977 while both were working in the academics department at San Quentin. Carol was a teacher by nature. Teaching was her consuming art and genius. She understood how to bring out the best in her students and in all who knew her. She loved learning as much as teaching and was constantly on the hunt for new information and deeper understanding."

The Pieces That Fall To Earth
by Kay Ryan

One could
almost wish
they wouldn't;
they are so
far apart,
so random.
One cannot
wait, cannot
abandon waiting.
The three or
four occasions
of their landing
never fade.
Should there
be more, there
will never be
enough to make
a pattern
that can equal
the commanding
way they matter.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Blagojevich the Poet

Blagojevich Poetry Jams are breaking out all over.
Even clowns are writing poems inspired by the Govs quoting of poems. Clown Cafe

And yes! Catholics are jamming on the Blago-band-wagon!

After Blagojevich ended a press conference by citing
the poem "Ulysses" by Lord Tennyson Alfred,
poets started coming out of the woodwork.
And by woodwork I mean the badger that lives on his head.
Tennyson could have used a hair helmet like that.

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Don't forget Timothy McVeigh choose
William Henley's "Invictus,"
to be read as his last words:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.