Saturday, April 15, 2006

"And It Goes Like This: 0-1-1-2-3-5-8"

My friend Anna Maria (yes, Pablo's little sister - they're a family of mathematically-inclined types) sent not a poem, but a link to a poetic structure based on Fibonacci numbers. Enjoy!

(You bet I'm going to give this a try...if anyone else has the urge/courage to do so, why not send in your results? Would love to see them.)

Friday, April 14, 2006


My birch-swinger friend didn't start out that way: he began as a city boy. City flora is a bit different from country flora, but that doesn't mean that one might wax less poetical about it:

"...When I think of spring, I think of a few things. I
think of baseball. I am sure I could find some good [poetry] there but I
didn't know if you'd like them or your readers would as much. I think of
dirt. Digging in it, to be specific. I didn't have a lot of luck there.
I think of flowers, of course, but that is just too broad a subject so
I went with the flowers that say spring to me the most, forsythia. I
had no real appreciation for them when I was a kid, or so I thought.
But this poet reminded me that I did as I had more than one Forsythia
Fortress myself back in the day(s). Thanks for inspiring me to look. It was neat to figure out that this shrub has been a part of me for all this time.

Tenth Poem of Merit

Yes, I remember
My forsythia fortress
A summer sanctuary
That berry bakery
And many muddy smiles.

Occupied for hours
In a heavenly haven
Always wildly wondering
About the planes passing
And worldly wiles.

So many feelings
In the damp daylight
Feet feeling fingers
Drawing vain Van Gogh's
To rhythm and rhyme.

How can I forget
So many mysteries
The lifting laughter
That privileged privacy
In my forsythia fortress.

-Brooke Umstead Good, Ocean View, Delaware

(This was printed in a book called Windows, Rainbows, and Salt Spray II,
the Anthology of the Ocean City Poetry Chapter and the Ocean City
Museum Society. This one was published in 1985.)"


I will always associate forsythias with my Danish grandma and love them because of that. She lived in the city and had a huge, rank bush practically flush with her front porch. How I enjoyed holing up with my little brother behind its densness, shaded by stray, arching branches laden with gold blooms.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

We're a bit late in getting the first hike up Pumpelley/Cascade this year. It's an easy (albeit longer) hike up, but it's also very scenic and about what the knee can handle nowadays. We've hiked it enough now that my body can just about feel its way up.

Of course, I pay attention to where I'm going; am very vigilant (of course I am! Lack of focus is what caused me to fall and hurt myself two falls ago) now. Just comfortable as well. That's a rare feeling for me, and it's funny to feel so with such an imposing-looking mountain.

Monadnock in Early Spring

Cloud-topped and splendid, dominating all
The little lesser hills which compass thee,
Thou standest, bright with April's buoyancy,
Yet holding Winter in some shaded wall
Of stern, steep rock; and startled by the call
Of Spring, thy trees flush with expectancy
And cast a cloud of crimson, silently,
Above thy snowy crevices where fall
Pale shrivelled oak leaves, while the snow beneath
Melts at their phantom touch. Another year
Is quick with import. Such each year has been.
Unmoved thou watchest all, and all bequeath
Some jewel to thy diadem of power,
Thou pledge of greater majesty unseen.

-Amy Lowell

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

On Vamps and Vampires

Monsieur Co-lihn sends some more Kipling, along with a woman's response to it:

"Kipling's "The Vampire" has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, and I
found this retort to that poem in an old collection of poems published circa

A Woman's Answer To "The Vampire"

A fool there was, and she lowered her pride,
(Even as you and I!)
To a bunch of conceit in a masculine hide-
We saw the faults that could not be denied,
But the fool saw only his manly side,
(Even as you and I!)

Oh, the love she laid on her own heart's grave,
With care of her head and hand,
Belongs to the man who did not know,
(And now she knows that he could never know),
And did not understand.

A fool there was and her best she gave,
(Even as you and I!)
Of noble thoughts, of gay and grave,
(And all were accepted as due to the knave).
But the fool would never her folly save-
(Even as you and I!)

Oh, the stabs she hid, which the Lord forbid,
Had ever been really planned,
She took from the man who didn't know why,
(And now she knows he never knew why),
And did not understnand.

The fool was loved while the game was new
(Even as you and I!)
And when it was played, she took her cue,
(Plodding along as most of us do),
Trying to keep his faults from view
(Even as you and I!)

And it isn't the ache of the heart, or its break
That stings like a white-hot brand-
It's learning to know that she raised the rod,
And bent her head to kiss the rod
For one who could not understand.

-Felicia Blake

Here's the original, in its mysoginistic glory:

The Vampire

A FOOL there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care),
But the fool he called her his lady fair
(Even as you and I!)
Oh the years we waste and the tears we waste
And the work of our head and hand,
Belong to the woman who did not know
(And now we know that she never could know)
And did not understand.

A fool there was and his goods he spent
(Even as you and I!)
Honor and faith and a sure intent
But a fool must follow his natural bent
(And it wasn’t the least what the lady meant),
(Even as you and I!)

Oh the toil we lost and the spoil we lost
And the excellent things we planned,
Belong to the woman who didn’t know why
(And now we know she never knew why)
And did not understand.

The fool we stripped to his foolish hide
(Even as you and I!)
Which she might have seen when she threw him aside—
(But it isn’t on record the lady tried)
So some of him lived but the most of him died—
(Even as you and I!)

And it isn’t the shame and it isn’t the blame
That stings like a white hot brand.
It’s coming to know that she never knew why
(Seeing at last she could never know why)
And never could understand.

-Rudyard Kipling

A little bit of old movie trivia: this poem was sort of turned into a silent
flick called "A Fool There Was", starring Theda Bara as the screen's
first "Vamp". I saw this movie years ago, it wasn't bad."

I actually have a copy of it: it's pretty darn melodramatic and one can see very well how Theda Bara got her nickname from it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Avril, j'écris ton nom!

Mon ami du loin (who I'm trying hard not to call Madame Defarge) felt inspired to create a bit of concrete poetry:

"Avril, le mois de la nature, de la poésie, des mots, des verbes, des fleurs des champs, des espoirs, des rêves du futur et du passe...Avril, j'écris ton nom!"

(April, month of nature, of poetry, of words, of verbs (actions), of flowers in the fields, of hopes, of dreams of the future and the past...April, I write your name!)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Silly Little Moth.

Harry paid a visit this morning and left me with this gem that he heard on the David Lee Roth show:

Silly little moth:
Drawn into the flame for warmth,
Stupid idiot.

It really captures the feeling of coming into work on a Monday morning, now, doesn't it?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Purple Cows (and Pink Elephants?)

I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one!

-Gellett Burgess, 1895

Apparently he regretted penning those lines, as can be seen in this followup:

Ah yes, I wrote The Purple Cow,
I'm sorry now I wrote it;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'll kill you if you quote it!

My dad tells me that Burgess and his friends were quite the pranksters. One incident in San Francisco apparently caused him to lose his job:

"He would lose his job, shortly, when he and some of his fellow members of
the writing circle known as Les Jeunes would commit an outrageous act of
prankersterism. Cogswell, a noted teototaller, had given the City of San
Francisco several statues of himself holding a glass of water. A concealed
pipe kept the glass filled. Burgess and his confederates altered one of
these monuments in a way which no biographer has found fit to describe."

-Thanks, Dad, for remembering this one!