Thursday, September 28, 2017

Gentle lunatic at large

We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.
~Martin Luther King Jr.

Two poems by James Kirkup today.

No Men Are Foreign
by James Kirkup

Remember, no men are strange, no countries foreign
Beneath all uniforms, a single body breathes
Like ours: the land our brothers walk upon
Is earth like this, in which we all shall lie.
They, too, aware of sun and air and water,
Are fed by peaceful harvests, by war’s long winter starv’d.
Their hands are ours, and in their lines we read
A labour not different from our own.
Remember they have eyes like ours that wake
Or sleep, and strength that can be won
By love. In every land is common life
That all can recognise and understand.
Let us remember, whenever we are told
To hate our brothers, it is ourselves
That we shall dispossess, betray, condemn.
Remember, we who take arms against each other
It is the human earth that we defile.
Our hells of fire and dust outrage the innocence
Of air that is everywhere our own,
Remember, no men are foreign, and no countries strange.


The Poet
by James Kirkup

Each instant of his life a task, he never rests,
And works most when he appears to be doing nothing.
The least of it is putting down in words
What usually remains unwritten and unspoken,
And would so often be much better left
Unsaid, for it is really the unspeakable
That he must try to give an ordinary tongue to.

And if, by art and accident,
He utters the unutterable, then
It must appear as natural as breath,
Yet be an inspiration. And he must go,
The lonelier for his unwanted miracle,
His singular way, a gentle lunatic at large
In the societies of cross and reasonable men.


Here's your weekly reminder to submit to the mistakes anthology for middle schoolers!
Also, all you Teachers, Librarians, and Stealthy Do-gooders, you might like to see the Take One posters from this week's Wellness Wednesday post. I made a literary one to go with the others I found.

Writing the World for Kids has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Laura!

A little prickly

He lies like a hedgehog rolled up the wrong way, Tormenting himself with his prickles.
~Thomas Hood

I'll bet you didn't know that what you needed today was hedgehogs... (Does anybody know the story behind the powder flask? Just wondering about standing on a hedgehog!)

Hedgehog in Chiang Mai
photo by Natasha McLenahan

Ceramic hedgehog
by Ignác Bizmayer
photo by Peter Zelizňák

Unknown Artist, Germany c. 1570, antler and steel, carved and engraved
photo by Johnbod

Spring of a Hedgehog
By Mordecai Moreh

Participants in a fairy-tale ball, representing the race of the hedgehog and the hare, Munich, 1862
By Joseph Albert

Amiens, hedgehog in a tower
By Sokoljan

Hedgehog II
photo by Kalle Gustafsson

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Take One

If you be pungent, be brief; for it is with words as with sunbeams - the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.
~John Dryden

October is National Emotional Wellness Month. To note it, the PTSA at my daughter's high school is talking about putting up "Take One" or "Take What You Need" posters. They're fun, they're cheerful, they're something a little out-of-the-ordinary. (You can have anything you want on them. I've seen posters that just say, "Have you seen this poster?" and all the little slips at the bottom say, "yes.")

Once they have been printed out, the little sections at the bottom need to be cut apart so people can easily take one. Then the top can be taped to a wall or stapled/push pinned to a bulletin board or any place you'd put a flyer.

Some printables:

Take What You Need: Literary Edition

You Are Amazing
Hope, Kindness
Love, Joy
Kindness Matters
Free Compliments

Lastly, here's Astley:

Monday, September 25, 2017

Air between

If I cannot fly, let me sing.
~Stephen Sondheim

So much emotion in this Music Monday video! YEBBA really sounds like she means it.

For something more upbeat, Maggie Rogers with "Alaska":

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sound and light

Real haiku is the soul of poetry. Anything that is not actually present in one's heart is not haiku.
~Santōka Taneda

Sentry by Chris Burke

Haiku by Polish poet/artist Maria Tomczak today. I'm grateful to Maria for giving me permission to share these with you.


storm in the mountains –
a clap
from every side


cricket chirping
the silence between us
finally broken


moonless sky
a crow separates
from the night


the lingering silence
after diagnosis


chemo center door
she strokes the sunlight
in her wig


winter field
the crows devour
the last light


hand-knitted scarf
the length
of her sleepless night


wind treading
the summer grass


These haiku originally appeared in The Mainichi, Frogpond, and Akitsu Quarterly. They also placed in the Little Haiku Contest, European Quarterly Kukai, and Shiki Monthly Kukai.


The mistakes anthology for middle schoolers is collecting poetry submissions through November 1st.

The Poem Farm has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Amy!


Got up this morning and could not find my glasses. Finally had to seek assistance. Kate [Winslet] found them inside a flower arrangement.
~Emma Thompson

Although I wear glasses and so does most of my family, it's taken me a while to getting around to this Art Thursday theme...

The Glasses Apostle
by Conrad von Soest (1403)

by Dara or

Daniel Chodowiecki auf der Jannowitzbrücke
By Adolph von Menzel

good use of eyeglasses
photo by frankieleon

A sad eye
photo by Quinn Dombrowski

by Sharon Brogan

Spec mosaic in Brighton
photo by Chris Read

Inuit snow goggles
Snow blindness is caused by sunlight reflecting off white snow and ice. This painful condition causes temporary loss of vision. The Inuit people in North America wore goggles to shield their eyes from such glare. These goggles are made from pine and rawhide. Slits in the rawhide eye pieces let the wearer see. They are kept in a wooden case decorated with hunting scenes.

Here's what Inuit snow goggles look like being worn.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Stars in our eyes

When you're an astronomer, you always have stars in your eyes.
~Anthony T. Hincks

I settled on featuring NASA images for today's Wellness Wednesday because they make me pause and sigh with appreciation. Why do Saturn's rings get me every time? I don't know, but here they are:

The Cassini spacecraft's last looks at Saturn

Hubble's Megamaser Galaxy
Image Credit: NASA

Northern Lights over Canada from the International Space Station
Image Credit: NASA

Glory of the Heavens
Partial solar eclipse, Ross Lake, composite image, Aug. 21, 2017
Image Credit: NASA

Image Credit: NASA

Monday, September 18, 2017

It's Only Dancing

And if your boyfriend suddenly appears,
if your father comes home and finds us here,
You would know we wouldn't need an alibi--
It's only dancing.
~Jeremy Messersmith

Hat tip to Bonnie Boo (again) for this song by Jeremy Messersmith, who also wrote 11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs For Ukulele:

Thursday, September 14, 2017

No Time for Poetry

Learning never exhausts the mind.
~Leonardo da Vinci


Today we have a poem I wrote for math-and-poetry lover Tricia during the Summer Poem Swap.

No Time for Poetry
by Tabatha Yeatts

Renaissance man Leonardo daVinci sought no poetry,
overlooked literature, neglected history. "Let no one read me
who is not a mathematician," he said, drawing his
precious geometry closer, chalky slates by his elbow,
wooden mazzocchio perched on his papers,
water-filled polygon hanging in the light.

With compass and pencil, the analytical artist
produced perspective, secured locomotion,
interpreted the universe. Behold, the human form
corresponds to a golden proportion,
abstract perfections, nature's perfect harmony:
the perfect lines in the perfect order!

He escaped the confines of his studio
and conveyed that dimension beyond earth,
fire, water, and air: the fifth essence -- celestial virtue.
Leonardo could taste infinity, see it in his
mind's eye, knots of shapes to tangle and
untangle at will. There was no rest for a seeker
of the Divine in all, no time for poetry.


Today's Little Ditty has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Michelle!


Almost all words do have color, and nothing is more pleasant than to utter a pink word and see someone's eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her, too.
~Gladys Taber

I've featured various colors before, and today it's pink's turn.

By Jakub Schikaneder

Fashionista sculpture
photo by Romain Bochet

Back to the 50s: Pink Panther
photo by Brian

Bleeding Hearts
photo by Helen ST

The rosebud gorilla
photo by Simon Webster

La Viennoise Irma Brunner
By Édouard Manet

Blackberry necklace
photo by Polosatova

Pink underwater-landscape
by Tobi Firestone

Looks like fun:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


One reason that people have artist’s block is that they do not respect the law of dormancy in nature. Trees don’t produce fruit all year long, constantly. They have a point where they go dormant. And when you are in a dormant period creatively, if you can arrange your life to do the technical tasks that don’t take creativity, you are essentially preparing for the spring when it will all blossom again.
~Marshall Vandruff

from a Emu's Debut's post Cycles, balance, and making plans

I saw an article titled Creative Activities Like Baking and Knitting Boost Mental Well-Being and it made me think of a conversation I had with my husband the other day. I was explaining to him that my habit of working on a particular writing project had abruptly stopped a few weeks ago -- I felt as though I didn't have the emotional energy to work on it. I love the feeling of having written something, but I had balked at even picking up my writing binder. Other sorts of creative endeavors, like cooking and making herbal extracts and syrups, were the type of creativity that I was comfortable with during those moments.

It's tricky -- figuring out when to honor wanting to step back, and when to give yourself a push. What are your creative cycles like?

I write a little bit, almost every day, and if it results in two or three or (on a good day) four good paragraphs, I consider myself a lucky man. Never try to be the hare. All hail the tortoise.
~Malcolm Gladwell

Very often we write down a sentence too early, then another too late; what we have to do is write it down at the proper time, otherwise it's lost.
~Thomas Bernhard

I don't believe in writers' block. Do doctors have 'doctors block?' Do plumbers have 'plumbers' block?" No. We all have days when we don't feel like working, but why do writers turn that into something so damn special by giving it a faintly romantic name.
~Larry Kahaner

Bonus article:
How Walking Fosters Creativity: Stanford Researchers Confirm What Philosophers and Writers Have Always Known

And a quote:
Solitary walks are great for getting new ideas. It's like you're in a video game and you pick up idea coins on the way.
~Joyce Rachelle

Thursday, September 7, 2017

When I stopped reading

Reading a book, for me at least, is like traveling in someone else's world. If it's a good book, then you feel comfortable and yet anxious to see what's going to happen to you there, what'll be around the next corner. But if it's a lousy book, then it's like going through Secaucus, New Jersey -- it smells and you wish you weren't there, but since you've started the trip, you roll up the windows and breathe through your mouth until you're done.
~Jonathan Carroll

This isn't a real post, just something I was thinking about this week. True confession: I have a tendency not to finish books. I buy books that have been highly recommended and I toss them aside a couple of chapters in. I have never given this much thought, to be honest, but last month I heard about Ellen Brock's "When I stopped reading" First Page Critiques.

Ms. Brock is an editor who ran a boot camp in August and she let people send in the first 250 words of their manuscripts and she told them when she stopped reading. 250 words! She didn't make it through most of them! (I tried to have her read the first 250 words of my current project, but I turned them in too late -- she only looked at the first 40 submissions.)

Recently I started reading a book that I thought was breathtakingly well-written, just beautiful, but wouldn't you know that I stopped returning to it? I just didn't care what happened next -- the main character didn't touch my heart, I suppose. I have been thinking about it. Do you finish the books you start? What makes you stop?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


The Hawaiian creation myth relates that the present cosmos is only the last of a series, having arisen in stages from the wreck of the previous universe. In this account, the octopus is the lone survivor of the previous, alien universe.
~Roland Burrage Dixon

I don't have a post for Wellness Wednesday, but I do have Lucy dressed as an octopus. Octopup, that is.

She'd really like to take this
under the sofa and chew on it

(When we took it off her, my daughter said, "Now she looks naked.")

Monday, September 4, 2017

Decorate your soul with colors

I want to be the person who feels great in her body and can say that she loves it and doesn’t want to change anything.
~Emma Watson

An upbeat video for Music Monday...a translation of the lyrics says,

"Fortune teller told me that to find you
I must have had wings
And that to drink from your lips I must travel the seas...
I'll be flying, I'll be flying
darling to see you
Against all the winds and the unstable sky...
The fortune teller told me that if I wanted
To grant me a life
I must decorate your soul with colors..."

Poetic, eh?

Marina Satti