Friday, May 30, 2014

Warning Signals

Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even bringing gifts.
~Virgil, The Aeneid

Trojan Horse in front of the Schliemann Museum, Ankershagen
photo by Christof Bobzin

Wooden Horse
by Tabatha Yeatts

When the last plank
was placed,
they couldn't wait
to clamber inside.

No horse;
I was a dragon, waking,
mute but deadly,
with rumblings of
fire in my belly.

I imagined giving
warning signals;
The most I could do
was creak ominously,

bend beneath
the warriors' feet
with a groan
that might have made
a child shiver,

clutch a hand for comfort,
hide their favorite toy away
in the safest place they knew.

But no one heard me,
moaning beyond the gates,

no one heard me
on their final night
of gentle dreams.


Visit Diane at Random Noodling for the Poetry Friday round-up.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dame Agatha

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.
~Agatha Christie

A variety of Agatha Christie-inspired works today.

The Book
by Ben Twiston-Davies
A permanent memorial to Agatha Christie in Covent Garden.
Photo by Rich Tee

Hercule Totoro
Combine 4 parts “My Neighbor Totoro” with 1 part Agatha Christie’s Poirot, mix in a little murder and blend in the style of Edward Gorey. Voilà!
by Andy Purviance

Detail of illustration, Russian Agatha Christie book (
Shared by Will

Nighttime reading
"The girls brought some books to read while I have class. Gracie is reading Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express now that Nora has finished with it."
Photo by SewPixie

The Unexpected Guest by Agatha Christie
Photo by Xesc Arbona

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Paul Stumpr

More book covers:

* There's an Agatha Christie Festival in September of this year.
* Agatha Christie and Archaeology
* Agatha Christie @QueenOfCrime on Twitter
* The Agatha Christie Doctor Who episode

Poetry is not the most important thing in life... I'd much rather lie in a hot bath reading Agatha Christie and sucking sweets.
~Dylan Thomas

Monday, May 26, 2014

FM Covers

“I said,'Instead of going in the direction that a lot of the women singers are going in [wearing revealing clothes], I'll be very, very sexy under 18 pounds of chiffon and lace and velvet...I will have mystique.”
~Stevie Nicks

This post is probably going to make you want to go listen to the originals, and that's cool. The first Dreams is by a band from Denmark, btw.

I looked around for a cover of this, but finally I had to accept that only the original singers will do:

Friday, May 23, 2014


Have you a little chest to put the Alive in?
~Emily Dickinson

Four lively poems today, with winds and hugs and kisses and a thriving garden.

Teodoro Luna’s Two Kisses
by Alberto Ríos

Mr. Teodoro Luna in his later years had taken to kissing
His wife
Not so much with his lips as with his brows.
This is not to say he put his forehead
Against her mouth--

read the rest here


I Won't Break
by Michael Morrell


The first one is always most awkward, hesitant,
a one sneaker in the store lace-up to see if it fits,
a try it on in the mall dressing room squeeze.
You will not break me, my shirt should read.
Slap a shipping sticker on me. Non-fragile.

read the rest here


photo by Clint Mickel

The Balloon of the Mind
by W. B. Yeats

Hands, do what you're bid:
Bring the balloon of the mind
That bellies and drags in the wind
Into its narrow shed.


by Paisley Rekdal

I have been taught never to brag but now
I cannot help it: I keep
a beautiful garden, all abundance,
indiscriminate, pulling itself
from the stubborn earth:

read the rest here


Violet is our Poetry Friday round-up host.

P.S. I have seen the first line of The Balloon of the Mind end with either a colon or a semi-colon. I'm not sure which Yeats intended. Thoughts?

P.P.S. The title of this post comes from the last poem --
"all abundance,
indiscriminate," -- because today's collection is pretty random.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


[T]hen all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.
~Herman Melville

We have a mix of hippocamps (Greek mythological horse-fish) and seahorses today. On the New Page Books blog, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart writes that in medieval times "it was believed that all creatures of the land had their aquatic counterparts in the sea, often distinguished by little more than fins instead of legs. Thus our marine menagerie is enriched by such wonders as Mermaids (meaning “Sea-maids”), Sea-Lions, Sea-Unicorns (Narwhals), Sea-Dogs (dogfish sharks), Sea-Cats (catfish), Sea-Bats, Sea-Anemones, Sea-Cucumbers, Sea-Hares, Sea-Goats (Capricorn), Angel-Fish, Devil-Fish, Ichthyocentaurs (“Fish-Centaurs”), Rooster-Fish, Sea-Elephants, Sea-Serpents—and Sea-Horses."

The Latin genus name for seahorses is "hippocampus" ("sea monster horse"). You might have heard of the part of the brain known as the hippocampus, so named for its shape, which vaguely resembles a seahorse.

Ausblick von der Terrasse
photo by Alexander Gerzabek

Riding in Silence
photo by André P. Meyer-Vitali

Rome - "Trevi Fountain - Triton & Seahorse"
photo by David Ohmer

Weedy Sea Dragon
photo by Images by John K

photo by エン バルドマン

photo by Darren Larson

Pacific Seahorse
photo by Peter Liu

Caballito de mar
photo by FGE Pascalteco

by Walter Crane

Origami Winged Seahorse
by Daniel Chang


* The Seahorse Trust
* Zoological Society of London's Project Seahorse
* A Canadian Project Seahorse
* Seahorses: A race against habitat destruction

Monday, May 19, 2014


It is not intended to be sung. It is written for an orchestra. But if the world wants to sing it, it can't be helped.
~Jean Sibelius

Some info about Sibelius' Finlandia:

"Finlandia, Op. 26 is a symphonic poem by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius... a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire, and was the last of seven pieces performed as an accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history... In order to avoid Russian censorship, Finlandia had to be performed under alternate names at various musical concerts. Titles under which the piece masqueraded were numerous, a famous example being Happy Feelings at the awakening of Finnish Spring, and A Scandinavian Choral March." (Wikipedia)

"Finlandia became a world favourite, and many arrangements were made of it: an arrangement for military band in 1909, a choral and orchestral version in English in 1925, and an arrangement for marimba orchestra in the 1940s. Sibelius heard a version given by a restaurant trio in Bergen in 1921 and politely asked the musicians not to play it." (

Friday, May 16, 2014

Poetry Against Stigma

I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix.
~Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle

Diversity in literature is a hot topic. It always strikes me how much potential diversity there is: diversity of religion, gender, economics, race/ethnicity, political beliefs, size, age, families/living arrangements, various aspects of physical health, cognition, educational systems, and many others.

One source of diversity is mental health. People have a *wide* range of mental health/illness experiences. My focus today is on poetry (and books) inspired by/relating to mental disorders. I'll start with an excerpt from “For a Patient” and then share links to other poems, plus articles and books. If you have any suggestions for poems, books, posts, etc. to add, please leave them in the comments.

photo by Tim Bonnemann

by Helen Montague Foster

because you didn’t get what they meant.
I said poetry is a language of pictures.
I meant to show you how to pick a calming
song for singing to yourself. You asked:
How can you calm yourself; you are yourself.
I said: None of us is single-minded.

read the rest here.


* There are excellent poems from the Texas Department of State Health Services' Adult Mental Health Awareness Poetry Contest 2012, 2013
* Mental Illness from the Outside By Erica Loberg
* Letter from a Mental Hospital by Kim Lozano
* Such Music as This by Jerry Kraft
* Apology by Elisabeth Dahl
* Addictions Counselor by Fran Markover
* 4% of Everything or Nothing by Ray Emanuel
* The End of the Old Woman by Michael Fulop

* Poems for Autistic Children
* Open Minds Quarterly: the poetry and literature of mental health recovery
* The Awakenings Project: empowering and healing through art
* Poetry, the creative process and mental illness from the BBC
* Veterans and Writing (Therapy)
* Poems to Lean on
* Through the Seasons: Poems and Illustrations by Moe Armstrong (Free.)
* Anne Sexton
* Info about Poetry Therapy

* National Alliance on Mental Illness fact sheets for Parents, Caregivers & Youth and Find Support (Resources)
* Books Dealing with Children’s Mental Health Topics For Children, Adolescents, and their Parents
* Booklist: Tough Issues for Teens by Bildungsroman
* You Cannot Be Replaced
* Walking a Balance Beam, post by Julianna Baggott
* Stamp Out Stigma

Stamp Out Stigma
photo by Steven Depolo

It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative--which ever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it.
~Sylvia Plath

Liz Steinglass has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Shall We Talk?

Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all.
~Guy de Maupassant

The art of conversation today:

The Discussion
by Harry Wilson Watrous (1857–1940)

Chiacchiere a riomaggiore
by Telemaco Signorini (1835–1901)

by Gottfried Buchberger
photo by Buchhändler

Paar im Gespräch
by Simon Glücklich (1863–1943)

A Conversation
by Vladimir Makovsky (1846–1920)

Au Theatre
by Albert Guillaume

A Fine Point
by Jehan Georges Vibert

A Political Discussion
by Émile Friant

Teaching Students How To Discuss

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Raif Badawi and Waleed Abu al-Khair

This brief piece in The Economist stopped me in my tracks this morning:
A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced Raif Badawi, the founding editor of an internet forum for discussing the role of religion in the kingdom, to ten years in jail and 1,000 lashes, according to Saudi media.

Raif Badawi

When I looked it up, I saw that he has also been given a $266,000 fine. Human Rights Watch says, "Badawi can appeal the verdict, but unfortunately he'll have to do so without the help of his lawyer, human rights activist Waleed Abu al-Khair.

Abu al-Khair is currently in Riyadh's Malaz Prison awaiting the resumption of his own criminal trial before Saudi Arabia's terrorism tribunal, the Specialized Criminal Court, on charges that include "breaking allegiance with the king," "making international organizations hostile to the kingdom," and "setting up an unlicensed organization."

I tried to find petitions on Abu al-Khair's behalf but didn't spot any. For more information about Raif Badawi:

* Free Raif Badawi on Facebook

* A petition to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) "Free and safeguard the liberal Saudi Raif Badawy, NO 1000 LASHES!!"

* Campaign for Free Expression

* Saudi blogger Raif Badawi gets 10 year jail sentence (BBC)

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Quiet Walk

The quieter you become, the more you can hear.
~Baba Ram Das

This poem could almost go in the Directory of Imaginary Poems, as it is about a place that doesn't really exist. It's a place that you can go when you are meditating, or a place that you can dream when you are stuck somewhere, waiting.

A Quiet Walk
by Tabatha Yeatts

The blades of grass lean upon each other
The blossoms breathe their own scent
The gravel holds no trace of footprints
The lake water lolls across its bed
The bird thinks about preening
The leaf sleeps on its branch
The sun's rays float in the air
The bell has grown still


Jama has the Poetry Friday round-up today at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

All Just Ravens and Crows

If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.
~Henry Ward Beecher

Today's post was a challenge I gave myself to look at crows and ravens artistically. Usually, they pretty much just creep me out. (Is E.A. Poe to blame? When I look at the coat of arms of the house of Schwarzenberg, I think perhaps not...) The title of this post comes from a song -- scroll to the bottom for the link. explains the difference between crows and ravens:
Ravens are larger than crows, with larger, thicker bills, stronger legs, longer, wedge-shaped tails, and more tapered, longer wingtips. In the air, they are more raptor-like, soaring for extended periods, unlike crows. They are often seen in pairs, and sometimes in large flocks (100+), but rarely occur in flocks of thousands like crows. Ravens have deeper, hoarser voices, and their characteristic call is a deep ‘rok!’ or ‘rok-rok-rok!’.
The Twa Corbies (or The Two Ravens)
by Arthur Rackham

Crows Fly by Red Sky at Sunset, c. 1880
by Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891)

Illustration from An Argosy of Fables, F. T. Cooper, ed.
by Paul Bransom

Before a Captured Russian Trench
by László Mednyánszky (1852–1919)

The Seven Ravens
by Heinrich Vogeler (1872–1942)

Portrait of Lydia Kuznetsova
by Ilya Repin (1844–1930)

Crow, swan, basilisk, pelican, phoenix. Detail from illustration of Basilica Philosophica, third volume of Johann Daniel Mylius’ Opus Medico-Chymicum, 1618
shared by Matthäus Merian

Fountain in the courtyard of Třeboň castle showing the coats of arms of the house of Schwarzenberg: A raven gnawing at Turkish heads.
photo by Wolfgang Sauber

And when I cried to my mother
She said it’s all ravens and crows
Baby, it’s all just ravens and crows
~Anya Hinkle, Dehlia Low

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In Appreciation of Teachers

Classrooms of the Berlin Metropolitan School, photo by Jens Rötzsch

“In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else.”
― Lee Iacocca

"Just think about what you know today. You read. You write. You work with numbers. You solve problems. We take all these things for granted. But of course you haven't always read. You haven't always known how to write. You weren't born knowing how to subtract 199 from 600. Someone showed you. There was a moment when you moved from not knowing to knowing, from not understanding to understanding. That's why I became a teacher.”
― Phillip Done

“Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.”
― Jacques Barzun

“The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of the mind for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.”
― Anatole France

Chinese High School, Singapore, photo by Teo Di Kai

“When you want to teach children to think, you begin by treating them seriously when they are little, giving them responsibilities, talking to them candidly, providing privacy and solitude for them, and making them readers and thinkers of significant thoughts from the beginning. That’s if you want to teach them to think.”
― Bertrand Russell

“I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead - ahead of myself as well as you.”
― George Bernard Shaw

“Teaching is the highest form of understanding.”

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mama's Got Bills To Pay

I tossed and turned until it seemed you had gone
But here you are with the dawn
~Irene Higginbotham, Ervin Drake, and Dan Fisher (originally recorded by Billie Holiday, 1946)

Here's hoping you aren't grappling with heartache this morning, but if you are, this might make you feel a smidge better. Trumpeter Chris Botti and singer Jill Scott with a Billie Holiday song:

If you want to buy it, here's the song and here's the album.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Star Stuff

Though my soul may set in darkness,
it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly
to be fearful of the night.
~Sarah Williams

I've experimented before with poems made out of speeches or novels. This time I used something that Cosmos' Neil deGrasse Tyson said:

Origins (a found poem)
Neil deGrasse Tyson

There is
a fundamental reason
why we look at the sky
with wonder
and longing—

for the same reason
that we stand,
hour after hour,
gazing at the distant swell
of the open ocean.

There is
something like an ancient wisdom,
encoded and tucked away in our DNA,
that knows its point of origin
as surely as a salmon knows its creek.

we may not want to return there,
but the genes know,
and long for their origins—
their home in the salty depths.

But if the seas
are our immediate source,
the penultimate source
is certainly the heavens…
The spectacular truth is—

and this is something
that your DNA has known all along—
the very atoms of your body—
the iron, calcium, phosphorus,
carbon, nitrogen, oxygen,

and on and on—
were initially forged
in long-dead stars.
This is why,
when you stand outside

under a moonless, country sky,
you feel some ineffable tugging
at your innards.
We are star stuff.
Keep looking up.

Neil deGrasse Tyson
photo by Bruce Press

Katya at Write.Sketch.Repeat. is the Poetry Friday host today.

Addendum: I'm sorry, I didn't make it clear that I didn't change Mr. Tyson's words. That is what he said -- I just added the line breaks so we could look at it a different way and spend time with it as a poem.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Reconstructing Worlds

Have you ever plunged into the immensity of space and time by reading the geological treatises of Cuvier? Borne away on the wings of his genius, have you hovered over the illimitable abyss of the past as if a magician's hand were holding you aloft? ... Is not Cuvier the greatest poet of our century? Certainly Lord Byron has expressed in words some aspects of spiritual turmoil; but our immortal natural historian has reconstructed worlds from bleached bones.
~Honoré de Balzac

I heard that the Fossil Hall at the Natural History Museum in D.C. will be closed for five years while they renovate. That sounds like a long time to me, but “Five years feels short” said Siobhan Starrs, the exhibition project manager. I guess in fossil time, it's a blink of an eye...

I find fossils to be visually arresting, and at times even beautiful. What do you think?

Ammonite Fossil
photo by rosefirerising

The 47th plate ''Kunstformen der Natur'' (1904), depicting organisms classified as Aspidonia
by Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919)

Palaeolagus haydeni: ancient rabbit, an extinct genus of lagomorph, family Leporidae
White River Badlands, Wyoming, 33.9 million years ago

Daguerreotype ca. 1850, Shells and Fossils
by Louis Daguerre (1787–1851)

Liospiriferina rostrata (Brachiopod)
France, Lower Jurassic

Koneprusia brutoni - Trilobite
Djebel Oufaten Morocco

Illustration from Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (1890—1907) Date between 1890 and 1907

Tomb of Téviec. Two skeletons of women between 25 and 35 years of age, Mesolithic. They died a violent death, with several head injuries and impacts of arrows. The tomb is protected by antlers. The grave goods include flint and bone (mainly wild boar) offerings? and funeral jewelry which is made of marine shells drilled and assembled into necklaces, bracelets and ankle rings.

Fossils for kids