Friday, March 29, 2013


Necessity may be the mother of invention, but doubt is the agent of change.
~Laura Shovan, Little Patuxent Review

I like to bring books and magazines with me to doctor's offices. Recently, I brought the latest issue of Little Patuxent Review and found myself folding down the corners of an excessive number of pages. There were so many that I wanted to re-read and savor! The issue features a poem by Poetry Friday regular Irene Latham, and I would encourage other Poetry Fridayers to submit their work. The next open reading period is from 8/1/13 to 11/1/13, and the theme is Science.

Some of my Doubt favorites were Escape, Danish Modern, Standing in the Air, On The Road to Human Rights Day, Come to me says the earth, and Japan 2011. Also, this poem by Elisabeth Dahl, who kindly gave me permission to share it here:

by Elisabeth Dahl

Was it art or accident
That led the hospital's head nuns
To tuck the failure-to-thrive babies
Into a corner of the seventh floor
Beside the eating disorder unit?

Three of us padded down to that corner once,
Teenagers in double-hung hospital gowns and
Standard-issue slippers squashed at the heel.
It was Christmas night, past visiting hours.
Midway down the corridor, a gilt-framed Madonna,
Ample in blue, swaddled the child who reached for her.

The hallway light spilled in behind us.
It lit the crib slats and the hard, taut sheets.
Fluorescent and cold -- unholy --
It was white-turned-blue, like skim milk
Or veins on the inside of a wrist.
It didn't wake the babies.

Later, we settled back into our beds,
Tucking the thin blankets over our shoulders,
Curling our knees to our small, dry breasts,
Keeping our gifts to ourselves.
We each ran the day's numbers privately,
Counting calories rather than sheep.

Days before I left, the art therapist
Asked us to draw ourselves as animals.
In sure, waxy strokes of crayon,
I drew a solid, forward-facing lion,
All head, with a mane that reached the paper's edge:
I was wiser now, nearly thriving.

Kelly, 12 years old and new to the unit,
Sat beside me, working on a blank page.
Or so it seemed. Leaning in,
I saw a pink bird in faint colored pencil
At the very center of the white white page,
One wing raised slightly, as if in apology.


Elisabeth Dahl's first book, a middle-grade novel, is due out April 2. It's called Genie Wishes.

Mary Lee has the Poetry Friday round-up at A Year of Reading.

P.S. Savvy Verse & Wit is looking for more poetry month bloggers.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Every poem is a coat of arms. It must be deciphered. How much blood, how many tears in exchange for these axes, these muzzles, these unicorns, these torches, these towers, these martlets, these seedlings of stars and these fields of blue!
~Jean Cocteau

Coats of arms this Thursday. Did you know you can make your own? I was interested to see various mythical animals in the designs. Lions and eagles are also extremely popular.

The American College of Heraldry explains that a unicorn symbolizes "Extreme courage; virtue and strength," eagles indicate a "Person of noble nature, strength, bravery, and alertness...if wings 'displayed,' it signifies protection," and lions "Dauntless courage." If there's anything else you'd like to look up, you can see the symbol chart here.

Moscow coat of arms, 1781

Namibia coat of arms, 1963-80

Schwarzenberg coat of arms, Sedlec Ossuary (Yes, it's made of bones!)
photo by Nick Hull

Coat of Arms, Church of St Barbara, Czech Republic
photo by Dmitri Shakin

Imperial Eagle of the German Empire, 1889-1918

The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom on the main gate of Buckingham Palace
photo by fmpgoh

Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, used 1939-1978

The coat of arms of Kazakhstan (above, you see when it was part of the USSR)

Coat of Arms in Prague, Czech Republic
photo by Steve Minor

Coat of arms of Pope Francis


International heraldry has detailed information about the meanings of coats of arms
The Heraldic Dictionary
Blazonry for Beginners
An Art Thursday post inspired by fencing

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Eric Whitacre Singers

Eric Whitacre, Choir Geek

I've posted Eric Whitacre stuff before. He's kind of a genius. I went with my family to hear The Eric Whitacre Singers last week and was blown away. They did a version of the national anthem that was one of the best I've ever heard (despite the fact that probably all of them but Eric are from England). I should give a shout out to soprano Elin Manahan Thomas -- she is phenomenal. If you get a chance to hear them in person, take it!

Eric Whitacre obviously reads poetry. Several of the songs the Singers perform on their latest tour were inspired by poems (by Ogden Nash, e.e. cummings, Octavio Paz, and Bob Dylan). Whitacre also elicited submissions from writers for a Christmas concert last year. The winning submissions are posted on his site. ("Christmas Cake" made me think of you, Jama...)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

ATCs, again

I've shared Artist Trading Cards before. This time I was inspired by Robyn Hood Black and Joy Acey (and my mom) to make some of my own. The last one is watercolor; the rest are collage. If teachers are interested in student ATC exchanges, they can check out

Fancy Owl

Musical Butterfly

Owl in a Teacup

Singing in the Rain

Green Watercolor

Friday, March 22, 2013

Police Poets

Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry.
~Muriel Rukeyser

Law enforcement officers deal with a lot. All that experience can wind up generating a lot of poetry.

This first poem probably should come with a tissue warning. Consider yourself warned!

A PG-13 poem by police officer Harry Fagel:


* Poet cops bring together worlds of poetry, law enforcement by Eric Hartley
* Poetry in the Community: The Police Poetry Project by Annie Finch
* Off the Cuffs: Poetry by and about the Police edited by Jackie Sheeler
* Everything Matters: Poetry and the Police Department by Martin Steingesser
* Sometimes A Police Story Begins With A Poem
* Poetry from a Police Blotter
* Poem to My Arresting Officer
* Poetry and the Police by Robert Darnton, book review by PD Smith
* Rattle's Tribute to Law Enforcement Poets
* Poetry for Probation
* Fred Astaire and Betty Davis, a poem by Betty Davis from Rattle's Tribute issue
* Retired police officer publishes poems dedicated to his wife
* Police Poetry Calendar, Portland, ME


Greg is our Poetry Friday host at GottaBook

Thursday, March 21, 2013


The growth of understanding follows an ascending spiral rather than a straight line.
~ Joanna Field

Lit by Immensity
photo by Stefan Perneborg

Going Down
photo by Santi

Stacked Loops: Three Flavors (The Sun)
photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

There's Poetry in Dead Things
photo by Alphadesigner

Löwenkopf und Vogel am Eingang zum Erbischöflichen Ordinariat
photo by Jörgens Mi

Spiral Flower II
photo by MCLCBooks

Red Stone Spiral
photo by Jos van Wunnik

Vertige de l'Amour, Versailles
photo by Gilderic Photography

Apartment Droste
photo by Masakazu Matsumoto

* SpiralZoom, an interactive site where you can learn about about spiral patterns and how they form in nature.
* Some other info about spirals
* Spiral Minaret: The Great Mosque of Samarra, Iraq
* Math for Poets and Drummers: The Mathematics of Rhythm

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thought for the Day

I recently read Kate Braestrup's Here If You Need Me: A True Story, which I enjoyed very much. I don't re-read books that often, but I expect I will re-read this one. I'd like to share a quote that Braestrup includes. She says:
In his book The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, cosmologist Brian Swimme offers the following exercise:

Invite someone to visit you who lives at least twenty miles away and who has never visited you before. You can give verbal instructions on how to get to your abode...but the one rule is this: In your directions you may refer to anything but human artifice. You may refer to hills, oak trees, the constellations of the night sky, the lakes or ocean shores or caves...ponds, trails, or prairies...estuaries, bluffs, woodlands...creeks, swamps...and so on.
Braestrup goes on to say that although she could not do it herself, she knows some people who are so familiar with their natural surroundings that they could. Could you? I could give directions to someone who was about a mile away, but not twenty.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed... Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.
~Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes I play with prose, turning it into a poem. This week, I did that with a bit of Walden by Henry David Thoreau:

by Henry David Thoreau

After a still winter night
 I awoke    with the impression
 that some question
  had been put to me,

which I had been
endeavoring in vain
to answer in my sleep,
   as what —
    how —
     when —

But there
was dawning Nature,
in whom all creatures live,
looking in at my broad windows
with serene and satisfied face,
and no question on her lips.

I awoke to an answered question,
to Nature and daylight.
The snow lying deep on the earth
dotted with young pines,
and the very slope of the hill
on which my house is placed,
seemed to say,

  Nature puts no question
  and answers none
  which we mortals ask.

from The Pond in Winter (Chapter 16, Walden)

photo by Lynn Friedman

Thoreau at Walden, a graphic novel by John Porcellino


Fun coincidence: I was thinking about the new pope being chosen when I posted about St. Francis on Monday, and it turns out he took the name Pope Francis I!

Jone at Check It Out has the Poetry Friday round-up.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More Than Traffic

You know, ever since I was a little girl I knew that if you look both ways when you cross the street, you'll see a lot more than traffic.
~Mae West

I shared My Dog Sighs' Free Art Friday tin cans recently, and I'm back with more street art (although you can't just walk off with these):

On the Streets of Firenze (Italy)
photo by Amaury Henderick

Hear No Evil
photo by Astrid Westvang

Manhole Cover, Seattle
photo by Chris Blakeley

Tonantzin Renace by Colette Crutcher, San Francisco
photo by Tony Kamenick

Street Art Hackesche Höfe
photo by Rene Passet

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
art by guy on the streets and Elbow-Toe

Australian Street Art
photo by baddogwhiskas

More Australian Street Art
photo by baddogwhiskas

Street art, Berlin
photo by Esaurito

Monday, March 11, 2013

Peace Prayer, Plus

For Music Monday:

The Peace Prayer of St. Francis
by an anonymous Norman c. 1915

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred,
Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, Joy.

O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
As to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

St. Francis by Berlinghieri

More music inspired by St. Francis:

Saint François d'Assise, an opera by French composer Olivier Messiaen
Il Poverello: Medieval & Renaissance Music for Saint Francis of Assisi, The Rose Ensemble
St Francis & The Minstrels of God, Altramar Medieval Music Ensemble
Vox Resonat-Joculatores Dei/ Minstrels of God-The Lauda in Medieval Italy

An article discussing new books about St. Francis: Rich Man, Poor Man: The radical visions of St. Francis by Joan Acocella, The New Yorker

Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts and Letters

Friday, March 8, 2013

Poetry Here, Poetry There

Last week's Poetry Friday post was all about suffrage. This week, I am all over the place: calligraphy, the law, politics, poems in schools.

First up, poetry popping up in politics. I think there are benefits to memorizing poetry and Maryland politician Rushern Baker seems to agree. County Executive Baker's wife has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and when Baker gave testimony on behalf of an Alzheimer's bill, he mentioned a poem he had memorized as a young man:
When I was in college, there was a poem I learned when I was pledging my fraternity. It is a poem that I often recite when things get tough. It is a poem about perseverance and overcoming adversity. The poem is "See it Through" by Edgar A. Guest. I think the last stanza of the poem describes the mindset of people like me who struggle with this disease. The last stanza goes like this: “Even hope may seem but futile, when with troubles you’re beset, but remember you are facing just what other men have met. You may fail, but fall still fighting, don’t give up, whate’er you do. Eyes front, head high to the finish. See it through!”
Another poem by Edgar Guest
Memorizing poems for Poetry Out Loud


Poetry in the Court... Apparently sometimes judges want to inject a little poetry into their work with rulings that rewrite classic poetry into court decisions:

Fisher v Lowe was about an owner seeking compensation for his oak tree, which was hit because of the defendant’s careless driving. The plaintiff lost the case, and the judge at the appeal court delivered his judgement in verse, in a parody of Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees”:

We thought that we would never see
A suit to compensate a tree.

read the rest here (scroll down)


Re: poems in schools. One nice thing to do for National Poetry Month is to put up oversized, laminated poems in the halls. Here are some poems that could work well for various ages:

In the Land of Words by Eloise Greenfield, Who's Rich? by Naomi Shihab Nye, Frozen Dream by Shel Silverstein, Earth Whispers by Julie O'Callaghan, Present Light by Charles Ghigna, Ancient Tree by Matt Goodfellow, Stars by Mary Lee Hahn, Rachel Carson, Reborn at Sea by Laura Purdie Salas, Old Names, New Names by J. Patrick Lewis, Faith of a Mustard Seed by Anita Hope Smith, Words Count by Greg Pincus, Air Guitar by Greg, What is Poetry by Bob Raczka, If I had known by Mary Carolyn Davies, The World is a Box by Sophie Hannah, Mystery Flower by Ralph Fletcher, I am Huffing, I am Puffing by Graham Denton, Naked by Matt Forrest Esenwine, What Changes?, and Open-Hearted.

There are many more I could add, but it's a start! :-)


Lastly, I'm sharing a little beauty. I don't know what these say, but I love them anyway. This project presents poems by Gábor Nagy & Sándor Weöres & János Pilinszky written in colorful calligraphy by Boglárka Nádi:


If you missed the song "Don't Pick a Fight with a Poet" from earlier in the week, you might want to check it out.


Heidi has the Poetry Friday round-up at My Juicy Little Universe.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Today for Art Thursday, a look at Angkor, Cambodia. It's a temple complex -- the world's largest religious structure -- and was built in the 12th century by the Khmer Empire.

More information from National Geographic:

Some good news (this is also from National Geographic):
When Angkor was named a World Heritage site in 1992 it was also added to the List of World Heritage in Danger; the incomparable site was threatened by pillaging, plagued by illegal excavations, and even dotted with land mines. In 1993 UNESCO launched a major campaign to restore and safeguard Angkor. Thanks to a textbook case of international cooperation Angkor rebounded so dramatically that it was removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2004.

Now to take a look:

Entering Angkor Thom
photo by Davidlohr Bueso

South Gate of Angkor Thom
photo by Baldiri

Angkor Wat, Upper level
Monks climbing the steps of the South West tower
photo by Steve Cornish

Angkor, Cambodia
photo by Vasenka

Angkor, Cambodia
photo by Yosomono

Ta Prohm Tentacles
photo by Steve Jurvetson

Devata (Banteay Srei, Angkor)
photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

photo by jar

A map of the Khmer Empire at its height in 1200 (shown in pink), from My Angkor Guide:

NASA image of Angkor Wat

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Giving Back

Those who devote their lives to serving our country, children, and neighborhoods are giving back. They have answered the call to serve.
~Jennifer M. Granholm

In our family, we have a birthday tradition of letting the birthday celebrant pick a place to make a donation. Earlier this year, my oldest gave hers to Hungry for Music. This year, my pick was Team Rubicon. Team Rubicon "unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams."

I worry about our veterans.

Another organization for vets --
When my grandmother died earlier this year, I made a gift in her memory to Pets for Vets. My grandfather was a WWII vet, and both he and my grandmother loved dogs.