Thursday, December 31, 2015

Grandchildren Visit, Part Three, Saying Goodbye

A last minute pose from CNH and SRH.

SRH has mastered the thrill of pulling faces for photography; I never got a good one.

Logan poses holding his last-minute bag of swag from Grammy's Swag Box.


I plan to resume the Memory Thread in a day or two. June Hymas

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Grandchildren Visit, Part Two

 Here are all four of them, taking Grampy's special companion dog, 
Cassie, for her daily walk.

 Here are two of them, having a good laugh with their mother.

And here is the sky coming home from the walk.
The sky is very beautiful this time of year.
I will be sad when they leave.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Grandchildren visiting

Four grandchildren visiting. Almaden Lake Park now charges $6.00 per car to park
but it has several great climbing structures. Just that next time, we will maybe all go in one car. . .
We could have spent even longer than we did, but we got hungry.
So we came home and ate turkey hot dogs on white buns with ketchup, 
grapes, clementines, chips and olives, with peach yoghurt for desert.
Beautiful day! Almaden Lake looked like this as we were leaving.

They brought Christmas gifts: a big pine cone with peanut butter and bird seed.
I have already hung it up above the deck.
They also brought some of their healthy home-baked dog treats for Cassie!

probably won't find a poem tonight,
what with one thing and another. . .

Monday, December 28, 2015

Night came, and the moon with it

The last few days have brought rain at night and spectacular clouds
on the Daily Walk. This is from yesterday's Walk.
Today had surprises, and after all, no room for the Walk.

Today's mail brought me a new book by my favorite, Mary Ruefle. 
I am sorry to have to report that the soft creamy, art-paper cover 
as on her other books is no more. We have instead a nice 
orangey-red with white sort-of-handwriting that one cannot read 
running parallel to the spine of the book. But Mary is still inside, 
and I am looking forward to a few nourishing reads.


The classroom was dark, all the desks were empty,
and the sentence on the board was frightened to
find itself alone. The sentence wanted someone to
read it, the sentence thought it was a fine sentence, a
noble, thorough sentence, perhaps a sentence of
some importance, made of chalk dust, yes, but a sen-
tance that contained within itself a certain swirl not
unlike the nebulous heart of the unknown universe,
but if no one read it, how could it be sure? Perhaps it
was a dull sentence and that was why everyone had
left the room and turned out the lights. Night came, 
and the moon with it. The sentence sat on the board
and shone. It was beautiful to look at, but no one
read it.

Mary Ruefle      (born 1952)

THE MOST OF IT. Wave Books, 2008, page 55.

One thing I noticed about typing this is that the linebreaks
are very useful, giving a little shot of importance to words
at the ends or especially at the beginnings of lines. 
One task for us might be to try typing paragraphs of
our writing, or journal writing, to a certain point, and 
then breaking the line. One could look to similar sized lines,
as here, or . . .?  jhh

Sunday, December 27, 2015

I choose the star of salt . . .

This was the end of our Daily Walk today, looking 
at the hills you can see from the street
and at the wonderful clouds.

Our Star

Every day, whether we realize it or not,
we choose one of two stars to guide us,
a star as ephemeral as our life,
a star water can wash away. One star
is made of packed sugar, the other
of packed salt. Water melts both.
If we choose the star of sugar
we will follow all the sweet things
of the earth, the candied surfaces
that glisten, reflecting a honeyed light.
If salt, we will go the way of the seas---
restless, rossing broken dolls
and the timbers of drowned ships
onto everyone's shore.

                                     The way of salt
is the way of sorrow and loss,
for salt seeds every tear
before it blossoms, just as death
seeds every birth. Salt is the pillar
erected to those who have looked
when they were warned not to.

At night the star illuminates our sleep,
yet before dawn it is washed away,
so that each morning we must choose again.
The poor choose the star of salt.
They break it into pieces, grind it up,
and eat it with their rough bread.
Salt is the only star in their heaven.
It is no choice at all. Invariably
the rich choose the star of sugar.
Under its light they build roads
that pass the shanties of the poor
and lead to gingerbread mansions.

I choose the star of salt. I follow it
into grocery stores and factories.
The cashiers and barbers watch me
and the steelworkers and foreign pickers
bent over shovels or rows of lettuce,
They are silent, brooding, distrustful.
Each morning I choose their star
because it is my star also,
because it is the rich man's star,
although he doesn't know it, not yet.
Every morning I choose this star
because the salt grains hiss 
on the shore as the sea washes up
the ground bones of the starless dead.

Morton Marcus         (1936-2009)

Ploughshares, Spring, 1993, pages 25 and 26.

This issue of Ploughshares was edited by Al Young who
posts the most wonderful things on Facebook!
This is another find from looking at the table of contents 
as I am trying to throw away literary magazines
from 1980-2000, when I subscribed to dozens of them. . .
I have been fond of Morton Marcus for a long time, 
even before he chose my poems for the Second Prize 
in a Montalvo Literary Contest in the early 1980s. 
At the awards ceremony, he talked earnestly 
and in a focused manner about my work. 
It was a fine experience!

Saturday, December 26, 2015


In the new issue of the Paris Review that just came
there are translations of Mirlitonnades (Doggerels)
by Samuel Beckett. I was reminded of the sea-things 
that have accumulated in this abalone shell
since my sister gave it to me many years ago.
Beckett approved the translations from French
before he died, but they have not been published until now.

This is the English translation of one of six pairs
that also include the French.

alive dead only season mine
white lilies feverfews
vivid nests forsaken
silt of April leaves
frost fair hoar grey days

Samuel Beckett

The Paris Review 215
Winter 2015,
page 135.

Set yourself the task of writing
short groups of mostly nouns 
like this to enliven those
dreary winter evenings.. .

Beckett was born the same year as my father
and only lived a couple of years longer,
so I count them as members of 
the same generation.
It interests me to compare
the way poets are marked
by their times, with the lives
and times of family members.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Leaving Christmas Day

For Christmas Day, 
the flight of a duck over Idaho snow in 2013, 
snow on the pine, snow on the fences, 
on the small and leafless apple trees,
and Miller Williams' delightful romp 
through revised story tales.

On Word That the Old Children's 
Stories Have Been Brought Up to Date

The Farmer's Wife missed the tails entirely.
Jack and the Giant became the best of friends.
The boy cried wolf again and the people came
but didn't hurt the wolf, just sent it hence.

Young Ms. Hubbard's cupboard was full of bones.
Humpty Dumpty bounced like a rubber ball.
The woman who lived in a shoe was kind to her kids.
Ms. Muffet was not afraid of spiders at all.

So now does Icarus flutter down to the sea
and swim ashore? Does Cyclops keep his eye?
Doesn't Achilles worry about his heel?
Are there no consequences? Does no one die?

Is this what we say to the kids---You can be bad,
but, hey, its OK, nobody's going to get mad?

Miller Williams

The Ways We Touch; poems by Miller Williams
University of Illinois Press, 1997, page 19.