National Poetry Month: Philip Appleman

For Margie at the Solstice

So now begins the long gray trudge

from sleet to drizzle, the stingy sun

dragging its shroud across the brittle

sky, as night by night the darkness

yields an inch, and every touch

of planet earth’s deliberate tiptoe

times the magic moment when the willow branch will go from dun

to dream, luring your cautious steps

to the matted grass of spring, and I

will celebrate the sunrise gift

of your quick smile, bright as any

crocus when you point to it,

triumphantly: one purple blossom,

pushing through the snow.

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National Poetry Month: Dana Gioia

Beware of Things in Duplicate… by Dana Gioia

Beware of things in duplicate:
a set of knives, the cufflinks in a drawer,
the dice, the pair of Queens, the eyes
of someone sitting next to you.
Attend that empty minute in the evening
when looking at the clock, you see
its hands are fixed on the same hour
you noticed at your morning coffee.
These are the moments to beware
when there is nothing so familiar
or so close that it cannot betray you:
a twin, an extra key, an echo,
your own reflection in the glass.

National Poetry Month: ee cummings

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot tough because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

From Lillian’s Recipe Book

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“Maggie came in with a handful of leaves, which she rinsed, chopped, and sprinkled over the arrangement on her plate. The dark green bits looked nice against the red tomatoes and white cheese.

‘What is that called?’

‘This? Tomato salad, I guess.’

‘I thought maybe it was from—your country.’

Maggie seemed amused. ‘Oh, no, just my own invention, really. A Maggie salad. My father loves it too, I make it for lunch sometimes in the summer, if he is there.’”                                           The Caregiver, 2014, by Maria Theresa Casale

Maggie Salad

Ingredients:

1-2 ripe red tomatoes, cut in wedges

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 lime, cut in wedges

Mint leaves or chives, chopped

Salt to taste

Arrange tomatoes on plate, scoop ricotta into the middle, squeeze one lime wedge over all, sprinkle with herbs and salt. Serve additional lime wedges on the side. There is no point making this unless you have good summer tomatoes.

Savor, and think of home.

National Poetry Month: Ogden Nash

One of the greats!

Very Like a Whale

One thing that literature would be greatly the better for
Would be a more restricted employment by the authors of simile and
metaphor.
Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts,
Can’t seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but have to
go out of their way to say that it is like something else.
What does it mean when we are told
That that Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold?
In the first place, George Gordon Byron had enough experience
To know that it probably wasn’t just one Assyrian, it was a lot of
Assyrians.
However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and
thus hinder longevity.
We’ll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.
Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts were
gleaming in purple and gold,
Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a
wold on the fold?
In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy
there are great many things.
But I don’t imagine that among them there is a wolf with purple
and gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings.
No, no, Lord Byron, before I’ll believe that this Assyrian was
actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof;
Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail and a big red
mouth and big white teeth and did he say Woof Woof?
Frankly I think it is very unlikely, and all you were entitled to say,
at the very most,
Was that the Assyrian cohorts came down like a lot of Assyrian
cohorts about to destroy the Hebrew host.
But that wasn’t fancy enough for Lord Byron, oh dear me no, he
had to invent a lot of figures of speech and then interpolate them,
With the result that whenever you mention Old Testament soldiers
to people they say Oh yes, they’re the ones that a lot of
wolves dressed up in gold and purple ate them.
That’s the kind of thing that’s being done all the time by poets,
from Homer to Tennyson;
They’re always comparing ladies to lilies and veal to venison,
And they always say things like that the snow is a white blanket
after a winter storm.
Oh it is, is it, all right then, you sleep under a six-inch blanket of
snow and I’ll sleep under a half-inch blanket of unpoetical
blanket material and we’ll see which one keeps warm,
And after that maybe you’ll begin to comprehend dimly
What I mean by too much metaphor and simile.

Recipes from The Caregiver

From Lillian’s Recipe Book

Best Lemon Curd

Use this curd as a spread of scones or toast, a pudding, a pie filling, or in a trifle with layers of ladyfingers or pound cake, raspberries and whipped cream.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Whisk eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Add butter and lemon peel. Stir over medium heat until curd thickens to pudding consistency, about 10 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface of curd. Chill until cold, at least 4 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead.)

lemons

April is National Poetry Month

I love April.  It’s spring, it’s National Poetry Month, and it contains my daughter’s birthday.  It’s the only month of color in my shady yard, when one hundred tulips, along with narcissi, crocuses, anemones and snowdrops bloom before the oak tree leafs out.  In honor of my favorite month, I will be occasionally posting some of my favorite poems, as the spirit moves me, and I”d love to hear about some of yours.  Here’s the first poem I ever memorized.  Happy Spring!

By A. E. Housman 1859–1936

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

Fantasy Comes in Threes: Two Notable Trilogies

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Ursua K. LeGuin wrote one of the world’s most beautiful fantasy trilogies: A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore. There is something beautifully elemental about these books: images and writing stripped down to the essentials, sky, water, stone, wind. The writing is spare, minimal, beautiful, deep. Each book stands firmly on its own two feet. The first has a protagonist, the second has a different protagonist, the third has the two come together. There are three separate stories, and an overarching story that the three books tell together. Probably because of the change of protagonist, the middle book does not suffer as many second-of-threes do from being the soggy middle, needed for overall plot development but not very interesting on its own. The Tombs of Atuan is in many ways my very favorite of the three.

Then, I am sorry to say, U.K.LeG., after a span of years, wrote several sequels. They are—how do I say it? They embody important principles of social organization and gender equity. They are politically correct in their explorations of issues of justice. I admire these principles enormously. Unfortunately the novels are lifeless. Character, plot, the beauty of the trilogy’s writing– all sacrificed to the political novel at its worst. With its presentation of alternative worlds and social structures, speculative fiction lends itself especially well to these kinds of explorations, and I highly recommend Octavia Butler and James Tiptree, Jr. for successful novels that incorporate these elements. But not books four and five of the Earthsea trilogy. It just doesn’t work.

I was thinking about this because I recently finished another wonderful fantasy trilogy, Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Fionavar Tapestry: The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire and The Darkest Road. Kay is a poet and perhaps for this reason his trilogy is lusher, more romantic—there is far more stuff to it than we find in The Earthsea Trilogy, as well as far more characters. He pulls myths from many different traditions into his richly imagined world. I especially enjoyed his beautiful retelling of the story of King Arthur, woven throughout the three books as a subplot.

The Little Free Library

This is a Little Free Library. They are popping up all over my town. Neighbors use them to find something new to read and pass along books they are done with. We pass this one every day when I take my daughter to school.

“You should leave a book there,” she suggested one day. (I’m pretty sure she was motivated by filial pride, not just the desire to get rid of the carton of books she’s been sharing the back seat with).

I thought about it a bit, and the next day I pulled over and left a copy of The Caregiver right inside the little glass doors, facing out so I could see it as I drove by. I snagged a copy of Death at Pemberley, since I was there and I’ve heard good things about it. Then I kept an eye out every day as I drove by. Today it was gone!  Someone picked it out and is going to read it. Very exciting! For more information on this great community idea, check out http://www.littlefreelibrary.org .IMG_20150327_083012_rewind