Walking Cross-Town. With Smoke.


The bi-fold doors open.

We spill out of the train into the underground tunnel at Grand Central. It’s Monday morning.

I’m walking briskly in a free lane. Not exactly free. Under foot is a yellow warning strip, with hundreds of half-moons of steel affixed to the two-foot corrugated shoulder on a highway warning of trouble. My eyes bob ahead and down, wary, looking to avoid toppling down eight feet onto the empty tracks. Livin‘ la Vida Loca.

I bear down on a commuter who is ambling along. Buddy, move left. I’m on his heals. Compressed air is released from the lungs, the Jake brake is pulled, the exhaust valves fly open, the big rig vibrates, rattles and slows.

He has thick soles, black lace-up orthopedic shoes. He is limping badly. Vet? Amputee? Back injury? I cannot pass him on my left, commuters are thick.

And then it comes. A memory, smoke grasped… [Read more…]

Saturday Morning

fence, fence posts, posts,

Even through curtains,
the sun will assert itself enough to soften a candle,
its warmth insistent as a kiss till the candle bends back.
We all fall under the spell of the sun
and are all at the end bent and consumed.
See how a long row of fence posts
leans over a deeply cut road
as if they’d been pushed by the light.

~ Ted Kooser, November. The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book

Photo: Beechwood by Heiko Fritz

Did you feel this too?


After great pain, a formal feeling comes—

The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—

In the days after Paris, Emily Dickinson’s poem kept ringing through my mind as I tried to figure out what I felt—and, surprisingly, didn’t feel. I did not, as the facts emerged and the story took its full size, feel surprised. Nor did I feel swept by emotion, as I had in the past. The sentimental tweeting of that great moment in “Casablanca” when they stand to sing “La Marseillaise” left me unmoved. I didn’t feel anger, really. I felt grave, as if something huge and terrible had shifted and come closer. Did you feel this too?


I feel certain that in the days after the attack people were thinking: This isn’t going to stop.

~ Peggy Noonan, Uncertain Leadership in Perilous Times

Image: The Economist

Saturday Morning



All the candles
burning down to the metal,

the radiator singing its dumb water song.


The dust
in my lungs.
Knock it
out of me.


did it get so cold?

~ Marty McConnell, Elegy

Credits: Poem – VerseDaily. Photo: Exercice de Style

Feel as if the top of my head were taken off

In 1870, Emily Dickinson was said to describe poetry this way:

 “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?”

 And, then you read a book, that does exactly that.

[Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

There are so many people who’ve come before us,
arrows and wagon wheels, obsidian tools, buffalo.
Look out at the meadow, you can almost see them,
generations dissolved in the bluegrass and hay.
I want to try and be terrific.
Even for an hour.

~ Ada Limón, “During the Impossible Age of Everything,” from Bright Dead Things


Sunday Morning


In all the mountains,
In the treetops
Not a breath of wind.
The birds are silent in the woods.
Just wait: soon enough
You will be quiet too.

~ Robert Hass, “After Goethe” from Time and Materials.

Credits: Photo – Wolerxne.  Poem – Nemophilies

Saturday Morning


it’s like the elders say:
Nothing to be done.”

~ Tagak Curley, “The Nation

Sources: Photo by mennyfox55. Quote – Schonwieder

A Slow Walk. Back.



All systems go.
Light gushes in and warms.

The day was crisp and bright, the atmosphere quivering with life.”


Morning shower – a slow bend to soap.
A twinge in the lower left back.
A punch in the stomach. A kick in the…
Hands stretch to reach for the wall.
Cannot straighten. Will not straighten.

“Ash, bits of bone, a handful of sand”


Shifting and shifting and shifting on train seat.
I stand and let the up escalator work – can’t take the jarring from the stairs.
I ease up and down from curbs as I cross-town.
I shift my briefcase from left to right to left hand to transfer weight.
A slow walk, yet breathless. Sweat beads on my forehead.
A low throbbing migraine. Knee bone connected to…
Rain falls, a light mist, cooling.

“We are wooed, then mocked, plagued like Amfortas, King of the Grail Knights, by a wound refusing to heal.” [Read more…]



I told Miyazaki I love the “gratuitous motion” in his films; instead of every movement being dictated by the story, sometimes people will just sit for a moment, or they will sigh, or look in a running stream, or do something extra, not to advance the story but only to give the sense of time and place and who they are.

“We have a word for that in Japanese,” he said. “It’s called ma. Emptiness. It’s there intentionally.”

Is that like the “pillow words” that separate phrases in Japanese poetry?

“I don’t think it’s like the pillow word.” He clapped his hands three or four times. “The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it’s just busyness, But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb.”

~ Roger Ebert, from “Hayao Miyazaki Interview,” RogerEbert.com (September 12, 2002)

Credits: Quote – Improve is Easy. Photo by Bruno via Mennyfox55.