“Children, I said to her. For the first little while, they not exactly human, you don't find?”
Nalo Hopkinson

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Mari Evans from her book of essays Clarity As Concept

“Listening is a special art. It is a fine art developed by practice. One hears the unexpressed as clearly as if it had been verbalized. One hears silence screaming in clarion tones. Ninety decibels. Hears tears, unshed, falling. Hears hunger gnawing at the back of spines; hears aching feet pushed past that one more step. Hears the repressed hurt of incest, hears the anguish of spousal abuse. Hears it all. Clearly, listening is a fine art. It can translate an obscure text into reality that walks, weeps and carries its own odor. Listening can decode a stranger’s eye and hear autobiography. Listening can watch a listless babe and understand the absence of future, the improbability, in fact, of possibility. Listening, more often than not, is a crushing experience.”

Mari Evans

Saturday, February 3, 2018

No Images

She does not know
her beauty,
she thinks her brown body
has no glory.

If she could dance
under palm trees
and see her image in the river, she would know.

But there are no palm trees
on the street,
and dish water gives back
no images

Waring Cuney

Thursday, February 1, 2018


And our tongues have become
dry the wilderness has
dried out our tongues and
we have forgotten speech.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Quote For Today: Plutarch

"So very difficult a matter it is to trace and find out the truth of anything by history, when on one hand, those who afterwards write it find long periods of time intercepting their view, and, on the other hand, the contemporary records of any actions or lives, partly through envy and illwill, partly through favor and flattery, pervert and distort truth."

Saturday, November 26, 2016

"The Portrait" by Stanley Kunitz

The Portrait – Stanley Kunitz

My mother never forgave my father

for killing himself,

especially at such an awkward time

and in a public park,

that spring

when I was waiting to be born.

She locked his name

in her deepest cabinet

and would not let him out,

though I could hear him thumping.

When I came down from the attic

with the pastel portrait in my hand

of a long-lipped stranger

with a brave moustache

and deep brown level eyes,

she ripped it into shred

without a single word

and slapped me hard.

In my sixty-fourth year

I can feel my cheek

still burning.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Some Langston Hughes Poems

"Subway Rush Hour"
breath and smell
so close
black and white
so near
no room for fear

"Po Boy Blues"
When I was home de
Sunshine seemed like gold.
When I was home de
Sunshine seemed like gold.
Since I come up North de
Whole damn world's turned cold.

I was a good boy,
Never done no wrong.
Yes, I was a good boy,
Never done no wrong,
But this world is weary
An' de road is hard an' long.

I fell in love with
A gal I thought was kind.
Fell in love with
A gal I thought was kind.
She made me lose ma money
An' almost lose ma mind.

Weary, weary,
Weary early in de morn.
Weary, weary,
Early, early in de morn.
I's so weary
I wish I'd never been born. 

Dear Mama,
Time I pay rent and get my food
and laundry I don’t have much left
but here is five dollars for you
to show you I still appreciates you.
My girl-friend send her love and say
she hopes to lay eyes on you sometime in life.
Mama, it has been raining cats and dogs up
here. Well, that is all so I will close.
Your son baby
Respectably as ever,

"Dear lovely death"
Dear lovely death
That taketh all things under wing-
Never to kill-
Only to change
Into some other thing
This suffering flesh,
To make it either more or less,
Yet not again the same-

Dear lovely death, Change is thy other name.

I don't have to work.
I don't have to do nothing
but eat, drink, stay black, and die.
This little old furnished room's
so small I can't whip a cat
without getting fur in my mouth
and my landlady's so old
her features is all run together
and God knows she sure can overcharge—
Which is why I reckon I does
have to work after all.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Author Quote: Charles W. Chesnutt

As man sows, so shall he reap. In works of fiction, such men are sometimes converted. More often, in real life, they do not ch
"As man sows, so shall he reap. In works of fiction, such men are sometimes converted. More often, in real life, they do not change their natures until they are converted into dust."
Charles W. Chesnutt

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Author's Quote: Nella Larsen

“Authors do not supply imaginations, they expect their readers to have their own, and to use it” 
― Nella Larsen

Monday, November 9, 2015

Listen to the Elders by Radicalhope

"Listen to the Elders”
I need to
the young people
about me
and what I’ve learned
I know
Easier said than done.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Writer's Quote: Michelle Cliff

"It was never a question of passing. It was a question of hiding. Behind Black and white perceptions of who we were -- who they thought we were."  From If I Could Write This In Fire.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Writer's Quote: Elizabeth Strout

“You have family", Bob said. "You have a wife who hates you. Kids who are furious with you. A brother and sister who make you insane. And a nephew who used to be kind of a drip but apparently is not so much of a drip now. That's called family".” 
Elizabeth Strout, The Burgess Boys

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Writer's Quote: William Shakespeare

"give every man thine ear but few thy voice;"  Hamlet Act 1 Scene 3.  Some advice Polonius gives to his son Laertes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Writer's Quote: Raymond Carver

"There was a time when I thought I loved my first wife more than life itself. But now I hate her guts. I do. How do you explain that? What happened to that love? What happened to it, is what I'd like to know. I wish someone could tell me.” 

― Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Read Story

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Writer's Quote: Neil Gaiman

"Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten."  Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Quote For Today

“I’m just thankful for everything, all the blessings in my life, trying to stay that way. I think that’s the best way to start your day and finish your day. It keeps everything in perspective.”

Tim Tebow

Monday, April 20, 2015

“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” 
― Groucho Marx, The Essential Groucho: Writings For By And About Groucho Marx

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wednesday Word of Wisdom. Art Provided By Rayela Art

I found this quote over at Kate is Rising.  Go and check out her blog.  She has some good ideas for craft making.

"Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it."   
                                                                                              Salvador Dali

Mehindi Body Art By Rayela Art

These designs are henna.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Flannery O'Connor Reading

Yes, reading "A Good Man Is Hard To Find."  There are some cool things on the internet.  Click here.

Wednesday Word of Wisdom. Art Provided By Filip Horvat.

"Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed." 
                                                                                                                        Khalil Gibran

Is photography art?  I think it is. These pictures tell an affective story.

Boy from Little Yugoslavia


Children In Little Yugoslavia

Bosnia Years Later

Filip Horvat Photography

Quotes from Brainyquotes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Yale Open Courses on Youtube.

If you're interested you can take the Civil War and Reconstruction class with David Blight on Youtube.  There are 27 video classes of about an hour each.  I'm just trying to get through the books.

Music To Read By : Steve Arrington

These lyrics are still true.  You better look out. You know it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It's Memorial Day.

Until recently I knew very little about soldiers who died in wars.  I had a vague, superficial feeling of sadness for the dead and their families, but mostly didn't think about it.  Since I've been studying the Civil War, I have less cloudy mental vision of the dead and wounded.  I've learned they were average people, like me, you, your son, husband, father, and friend.

D-Day is also known as The Invasion of Normandy, or June 6, 1944,  or five or six decoy and real operational names.  France was invaded by Germany in 1940 and 1942. Allied troops sought to push Axis Germany out of France.  The Allied troops consisted of  infantry, armory, airborne, and amphibious fighting forces.  Participating countries included Britain, Canada, Poland, Australia, Norway, New Zealand, United States, and France.

Some of the estimated casualties for the Allied: 
U.S. 29,000 killed and 106,000 wounded or missing.
Britain 11,000 killed, 54,000 wounded or missing.
Canada 5,000 killed, 13,000 wounded or missing.
France 12,200 civilians dead and missing.

A few years ago I listened to a former medic on the radio who served on D-Day.  The medic said he only had time to tend soldiers with a chance of surviving. He quickly examined a young man and determined he could not be saved.  Before the medic could leave the young man grabbed his hand and said, "Please remember me."  I cannot forget those last words.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday Words of Wisdom. Wisdom Provided by War.

Quotes From

In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.

Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country.
Bertrand Russell

The scenes on this field would have cured anybody of war.
William Tecumseh Sherman

There is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it.
Havelock Ellis

When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die.
Jean-Paul Sartre

Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott

In an earlier post I wrote about the free Civil War and Reconstruction class I'm taking from Yale Open Courses.  The class is taught by Professor David Blight.  It is available on Itunes and here.

During the past few days I've tried to get through Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott.  Alcott wrote some books for adults.  Alcott told of her experiences as a volunteer nurse in 1862.  She served in Washington, D.C. and at the beginning of her term Union soldiers from the battle of Fredericksburg filled the hospital.

The battle of Frederickburg took place in Virginia from December 11-15, 1862.  There were many more Union casualties than Confederate.  

Wounded Soldiers outside hospital

Hospital Sketches is really hard to read because the young men that Alcott took care of were full of holes, missing limbs, had parts of their heads and faces blown off, and emotionally traumatized.  Mercifully some of them died.  Yes, it was that bad.  600,000 men were killed in the war and that is not counting the injured.  Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott

Alcott looked for something self-sacrificing and important to do after she taught, worked as a seamstress, housemaid, and tried to advance her writing career.  She caught the train from Boston to D.C. and was impressed and amazed by the size of the District.  She was also surprised by the scope of her duties as a nurse.

She started out washing the soldiers' filthy, stinky, and feverish bodies.  She went around splashing lavender water that made the stench a bit more bearable.  Then Alcott volunteered to became the night nurse because she was a nocturnal and wanted to see the sleeping soldiers' mumblings and facial expressions.  

Before reading Hospital Sketches I never knew Alcott had worked as a nurse in the Civil War.  The story she tells is very sad and hard to think about. Hopefully she embellished some of it.  The book does give a person more knowledge about and insight into the war between the states.

I think it's sad and pitiful that the United States chose to destroy one another rather than abolish the establishment of holding of people as property from the beginning.

Monday, May 21, 2012

52 Short Stories And Poems: More Kay Ryan.

The other day I found a book of poetry at the library.  It is The Best American Poetry of 2005.

"Home to Roost" reminds me of a conversation Jake and I had this morning.  We were talking about the results of behavior.  A person cannot keep doing the wrong thing and not expect negative consequences.  We know because it has happened to us.  We know because we have observed it in the world around us.  It does not always go that way but plenty of times it does.

Kay Ryan knows.

"Home to Roost"
The chickens
are circling and
blotting out the 
day. The sun is 
bright, but the 
chickens are in 
the way. Yes,
the sky is dark
with chickens, 
dense with them.
They turn and 
then they turn 
again. These 
are the chickens
you let loose
one at a time
and small—
various breeds.
Now they have 
come home
to roost—all
the same kind
at the same speed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

52 Short Stories and Poems: John Barth

I learned from Wikipedia John Barth is a novelist, essayist, short story writer born in 1930.  He lives in Maryland.
Barth's short story "Toga Party" is the part of The Best American Short Stories of 2007 edited by Stephen King.  I found the book at a library sale and it is worth every penny.

"Toga Party" is about the Feltons, a comfortable, retired couple who live in an gated upper-class development on the eastern shore of Maryland.   Married over forty years, life for them has been full, rich and mostly happy, but as they watch friends get sick and die, both are concerned about the future.  The Feltons know it is only a matter of short time before they too succumb to the inevitable and they are not sure what to do about it.

Their friend Sam lost his wife to cancer in the past year.  Sam is doing his best to hold onto life and not display his grief and loneliness.  At eighty Sam still plays tennis with seventy-five year old Dick Felton.

Sam, Dick, and Susan (Felton)  are all invited to a toga party by their wealthy mysterious neighbors.  They all decide to go for different reasons.  Susan is going to prove she enjoys parties and people. Dick is going to prove to Susan that he is not too depressed.  Sam is going to make a statement.  You will have to read the story to find out what kind of statement.

The story doesn't seem to be online, but your local library is sure to have it.

This is not a review.  It is meant to let you share in my discovery of authors I have never read.  I will try not to spoil the story by giving out too much information.  I am just going to say that I like the names Dick, Sue, and Sam.  They remind me of Dick and Jane readers from the sixties.  They are perfect models of white Protestant America, but you and I know this life is imperfect, unfair, messy, and painful.  I hope Dick and Sue still have sex.

Wednesday Word of Wisdom. Art Provided by Frida Kahlo

"On any given day, any of us can have the blues. We don't control fate or destiny, and we can't always control the circumstances of our lives. We don't control when, where, and why tragedy befalls us."  Aretha Franklin
Quote is on  Pg. 180 of the book Aretha From These Roots.  The book was co-authored by David Ritz.

And yet life is so beautiful...

Oil Painting Coconuts By Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo in 1951.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday Word of Wisdom. Art Provided By Faith Ringgold.

"Happiness depends more on how life strikes you than on what happens." 
Andy Rooney

52 Short Stories and Poems: Stanley Plumly and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Copper Beech Tree

I was in the library the other day and checked out Now That My Father Lies Beside Me: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2000 by Stanley Plumly.  The hardcover was published by in 2000 by Ecco Press, an imprint of Harper Collins.  I am always looking for poets and poetry, but I'd never heard of him.  I live in Maryland.  Stanley Plumly is the Director of Creative Writing at the University of Maryland and the Poet Laureate of Maryland.  Plumly was at a library a few miles from where I live two months ago.  These are the websites I read to find out about him.  Stanley  Plumly  Anyhow, now I temporarily possess one of his books and have found a few pieces I like and understand.

There's a poem titled "Conan Doyle's Copper Beaches" on page 35 of the softcover that was published in 2001.  I read a lot of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and am familiar with "The Adventure of The Copper Beaches" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The poem compares Holmes' and Watson's ways of being and perceiving.

"Conan Doyle's Copper Beaches"

In the story they’re in a clump at the front
hall door, as huge as an extinction,
yet Holmes, the literalist, ignores them,
focused on the options of the case.

It’s Watson, his Boswell and naturalist,
who makes them beautiful, if only for
a moment, “shining like burnished metal
in the light of the setting sun”—Watson,

soldier, biographer of adventure.
The woman, Miss Hunter, is alone and
will be saved by deduction, then action,
and always the same conclusion—the lives

that were interrupted will go on, lives
that were broken will heal or go under,
like all the other stories an elegy
of the century, the country, the seasons.

The beeches, though hardly mentioned, suggest
the melancholy of the piece, the weather,
mood, the sense of failure in the house—
they’re like a background for the color of

the clues: bright blue dress, copper coil of hair,
the bone-white starving of the dog. They
link the past, medieval to the modern,
the leaves still dark in summer, bronze and

butter through hundreds of falls and winters.
They’re what’s left of a larger thing. Watson
knows this, accepts his friend’s insulting him
as one for whom the art is for his sake,

who loves embellishment, the odd detail,
Miss Hunter’s face flecked “like a plover’s egg,”
who’s disappointed such a beauty will
be dropped back into private life as just

another aspect of the landscape,
one on whom nothing once was lost—Watson
the memorist Watson the lover,
writing from the heart, aware that his friend

is isolated, suicidal, bored,
perfectionist, misogynist, genius
of the obvious, a man made of glass.
The beeches turning in the wind are glass.

As for the evil parents now children
of their servants, as for the prisoner daughter
now free to marry, gone to Mauritius,
as for Miss Violet Hunter, gentle, gone—

Watson understands the resolution,
how the gray cathedral ruminating
trees display their power within a human
emptiness, letting a few leaves fall.

Watson is supposed to be the flawed imperfect one, but actually Watson is Holmes' connection to self-sacrifice, trust, imagination, friendship. and love.  Holmes concentrates on solving the case.  Watson needs Holmes' brain for methodical critical thinking and abstraction.  Together they make one very intelligent, insightful, creative person.  Wow. So cool.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wednesday Word of Wisdom. Art Provided By An Unknown 14th Century Nigerian Sculptor

"A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions."  Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Brass head with crown, Wunmonije Compound in Ife

I found this on Jonathan Johnson's On Art Blog on The Guardian.  This piece is a brass head with crown.

Walter Mosley

1990's Devil In A Blue introduces the character Easy Rawlins.  In 1948 Easy or Ezekiel is an African American war veteran, factory worker from Texas who moved to Los Angeles to escape his friend Mouse. Read the book and you'll find out why.  After losing his job and needing money to pay his mortgage, Easy is solicited by a obviously malignant individual to find a white woman name of Daphney Monet.  Of course the initial search opens the door to a full blown mystery of unanswered questions, beat downs, and murder.  The 1995 movie starred Denzel Washington as Easy, Don Cheadle as Mouse, and Jennifer Beals as Daphney.  Unfortunately there were no movies made after the first one.

Mosley wrote ten more books featuring Easy Rawlins as he evolves into a full time detective.  2007's Blond Faith was to be the last book in the Rawlins series, but I hear that's not what's going to happen.

I met Walter Mosley briefly when he was at the Baltimore Book Festival in September of 2007 or 2008?  Memory fails me, but I do remember standing in line for about thirty minutes for a few seconds with Mosley so he could sign a book for my son.   

Gushing and giggling I said, "My son started reading your books when I introduced him to the Easy Rawlins mysteries."

He said something like, "He needs to read more than that."

I moved on thinking, "Asshole."

He should have been grateful that my son loved his books and its characters.
He should have been proud he had a positive influence on a non-reader.

I found out later that Mosley was being pressured by readers to bring Easy Rawlins back although he had created newer novel with interesting characters. Mosley was irritated but did agree to write two more Easy books.  The first is to come out in 2013.  Doubleday must have met his price, you know how it is.  I just hope it's not like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's continuation of The Sherlock Holmes Mysteries after he had killed off Sherlock Holmes.  The Adventure of the Empty House is weak, lame and disappointing. Readers can almost hear Doyle struggle to come with a convincing reason why Holmes did not die.

Personally I'm expecting a book as interesting and well written as the other ten books.  Walter Mosley don't let your fans down.

This month I'm reading two non-Rawlins books. They're The Last Day of Ptolemy Grey and The Right Mistake.  I feel your pain Mosley, (yeah right.) but mostly I just like and respect your writing.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Totally Off Course In April

I'm supposed to be reading the classics.  I agreed to complete several challenges, but I let myself be pulled into The Hunger Games.  The first book was scary and I didn't finish it, but then I saw the film.  So after reading Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I am anxiously awaiting the next movie.  For me it's just as bad as my obsession with Harry Potter.

Then I ran across David Blight's course Hist 119: The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877 free on Itunes.  Find course here or on Itunes.  I became interested in with what happened during The Civil War that so I decided to listen to all the lectures and read some of the books. I am fascinated by how many men died on both sides, the nonsensical reasons the South gave for continuing slavery, and the devastating pain Sherman's march to the sea caused the civilian population.  How could countrymen  do such terrible things to one another?

The books to be read during the course are:

Why the Civil War Came
Garbor Boritt, David Blight

Half Slave and Half Free: The Roots of the Civil War
Bruce Levine

Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War
Charles R. Dew

Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War
Mack Walker, Drew G. Faust

The March
E. L. Doctorow

A Short History of Reconstruction, 1863-1877
Eric Foner

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave
Frederick Douglass

The Confederate War: How Popular Will, Nationalism, and Military Strategy Could Not Stave Off Defeat
Gary Gallagher

Battle Cry of Freedom
James M. McPherson

Hospital Sketches
Louisa May Alcott

Abraham Lincoln, Slavery, and the Civil War
Michael P. Johnson

Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War
Nicholas Lemann

Civil War and Reconstruction: A Documentary Collection
William Gienapp

Students also have to watch Ken Burns' Civil War documentary.

Currently I am reading The March and next will be Hospital Sketches, then I'll move along to The Narrative of Frederick Douglass.  Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War and Battle Cry of Freedom look interesting too.

Luckily, I won't have to take a test for the class 'cause I don't have the time or motivation to read all those books.  It's lovely stress-free learning.

I'll return to pursuing challenges in June.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday Word of Wisdom. Art Provided by Zarah Hussain.

A few years ago I went to visit Morocco for a week and a half.  The Hassan II  Mosque in Casablanca has beautiful handmade designs inside and out.  This art reminds me of that lovely peaceful place.

Niger Folk Saying:  He who boasts much can do little.



Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 90 cms, 2006 

Inominate III
Hand-ground watercolour on khadi paper, 15 x 15 cm, 2004

Green Composition
Oil on gesso panel, 110 x 110 cm, 2010

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Music To Read By. Hiroshima

We've been cleaning out our shed and Jake found a tub of old cassettes.  Hiroshima's Los Angeles was one of the tapes.  I was introduced to Hiroshima in the early 80's with the album Dada.  Here from 1994 is "Only Love" brought to you by Canal de leandorassiz and Youtube.  It's very relaxing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Accident: I Posted Drafts by Mistake.

I pushed the publish button accidentally on a bunch of drafts.  If you click on them they will not come up.  Sorry. 

Music To Read By Dionne Bromfield and Zalon

Classic song written by Ashford and Simpson. I don't like the way Zalon is grabbing on Dionne.  What do you think?  Am I being sensitive?

Monday, April 16, 2012

April is National Poetry Month. More poems from Kay Ryan.

These two poems remind me there are a myriad of perspectives different from my own. There are many ways to see a thing.  It has nothing to do with right or wrong.

From other
angles the
fibers look
fragile, but
not from the
spider’s, always
hauling coarse
ropes, hitching
lines to the
best posts
possible. It’s
heavy work
fighting sag,
winching up
give. It
isn’t ever
to live. Kay Ryan from New Poems

Who would be a turtle who could help it?
A barely mobile hard roll, a four-oared helmet,
She can ill afford the chances she must take
In rowing toward the grasses that she eats.
Her track is graceless, like dragging
A packing-case places, and almost any slope
Defeats her modest hopes. Even being practical,
She’s often stuck up to the axle on her way
To something edible. With everything optimal,
She skirts the ditch which would convert
Her shell into a serving dish. She lives
Below luck-level, never imagining some lottery
Will change her load of pottery to wings.
Her only levity is patience,
The sport of truly chastened things 
Kay Ryan from Flamingo Watching

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Once again: Not doing what I am supposed to.

I'm supposed to be reading the classics but...

Last week I saw The Hunger Games and loved it.  When I tried reading the book a few months ago, I cringed and put the book down when the kids starting killing one another.  Everyone kept saying how good the movie was, so I went to see it.  You know what? The movie was excellent and not as violent as the book.  Now I have to read the two other books in the series.  I'm reading Catching Fire instead of The Canterbury Tales.  Then I found Tracey Morgan's autobiography I'm The New Black on the discounted shelf at Barnes and Noble.  While volunteering at the library I found The Great Molasses Flood of 1919 by Deborah Kops.  Instead of reading Hurston's The Complete Stories, I'm reading Snow White Blood Red Edited by Datlow and Windling.  Sometimes I like doing what I'm not supposed to do.