The Earliest Frogs

I hear frogs.

Yesterday a deluge. Wild storms ripped libs from the trees.
Pounding rain left pools of cool spring water
the vernal pools that invite the sleeping ones awaken.

Imagine: your world is cold, solid, dark. You are one with the winter dream, until a trickle of liquid warmth reaches down, stirring something in your sleep.

This (relatively) warm tickle, a tentacle, touches tentatively, teasing a limb
reminding a muscle of its urge
to leap, to stroke, to swim. Your chilled blood moves.
Your amphibian body stirs.

Restless, confined, no longer adrift in the winter dream
with a little birth struggle
you press forth from the cold mud,
slip into the vernal pool,
wave your webbed feet and trill.

“Don’t You Wonder Sometimes?”

I heard poet Tracy K. Smith read her poem by this name on Studio 360‘s tribute to David Bowie. Tracy won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for her collection called “Life on Mars,” inspired in part by the Starman in his many identities.  She credits him with showing her “the imagination as something that is capable of creating a whole new world and a whole new sense of self.”

I thought it was a pretty fabulous poem.
“Don’t You Wonder Sometimes” — Tracy K. Smith 

After dark, stars glisten like ice, and the distance they span
Hides something elemental. Not God, exactly. More like
Some thin-hipped glittering Bowie-being – a Starman
Or cosmic ace hovering, swaying, aching to make us see.
And what would we do, you and I, if we could know for sure

That someone was there squinting through the dust,
Saying nothing is lost, that everything lives on waiting only
To be wanted back badly enough? Would you go then,
Even for a few nights, into that other life where you
And that first she loved, blind to the future once, and happy?

Would I put on coat and return to the kitchen where my
Mother and father sit waiting, dinner keeping warm on the stove?
Bowie will never die. Nothing will come for him in his sleep
Or charging through his veins. And he’ll never grow old,
Just like the woman you lost, who will always be dark-haired

And flush-faced, running toward an electronic screen
That clocks the minutes, the miles left to go. Just like the life
In which I’m forever a child looking out my window at the night sky
Thinking one day I’ll touch the world with bare hands
Even if it burns.

He leaves no tracks. Slips past, quick as a cat. That’s Bowie
For you: the Pope of Pop, coy as Christ. Like a play
Within a play, he’s trademarked twice. The hours

Plink past like water from a window A/C. We sweat it out,
Teach ourselves to wait. Silently, lazily, collapse happens.
But not for Bowie. He cocks his head, grins that wicked grin.

Time never stops, but does it end? And how many lives
Before take-off, before we find ourselves
Beyond ourselves, all glam-glow, all twinkle and gold?

The future isn’t what it used to be. Even Bowie thirsts
For something good and cold. Jets blink across the sky
Like migratory souls.

Bowie is among us. Right here
In New York City. In a baseball cap
And expensive jeans. Ducking into
A deli. Flashing all those teeth
At the doorman on his way back up.
Or he’s hailing a taxi on Lafayette
As the sky clouds over at dusk.
he’s in no rush. Doesn’t feel
The way you’d think he feels.
Doesn’t strut or gloat. Tells jokes.

I’ve lived here all these years
And never seen him. Like not knowing
A comet from a shooting star.
But I’ll bet he burns bright,
Dragging a tail of white-hot matter
The way some of us track tissue
Back from the toilet stall. He’s got
The whole world under his foot,
And we are small alongside,
Though there are occasions
When a man his size can meet
Your eyes for just a blip of time
And send a thought like SHINE
Straight to your mind. Bowie,
I want to believe you. Want to feel
Your will like the wind before the rain.
The kind everything simply obeys,
Swept up in that hypnotic dance
As if something with the power to do so
Had looked its way and said:
Go ahead.

Poet, Feminist, Francophile, Painter: Marguerite Beck-Rex

NOTE: A New Series

Perhaps my favorite part of my work is coaching people to use digital tools to express themselves. I am blessed to be a part of some delightful success stories. I want to share some of these with you.

Marguerite Beck-Rex has the detailed mind of a Virgo, and the persistence of a tenacious bulldog. I met her 20 years ago in her 60’s when she had just taken up painting. She had been a journalist, lobbyist, activist, poet. A mother who raised two sons, one white, one black, both adopted, both adored. In her 70s, she led groups of artists on adventures in Provence. In her 80s, although challenged by increasingly low vision, she took up blogging. 

The result is the charming Ink, Paint, Words. 

Birds on a Cafe Patio

Tender drawings touched with color alternate with deceptively delicate poems. They seem brief and spare; read it again, there is a potency there arising from a long life well lived and a writer’s craft well loved.

Poem: Either or Both

Poem: Losing Sight No. 2

Painting Losing Sight: No. 3

I hope you will go and explore some of the treasures on her blog, and follow the good stuff yet to come. 

Reblogging: “Tailgating at the Opera”

Ferne Horner blogs from the Gulf Coast of Florida with the aid of her well-dressed cat Benchley. From this week’s Hairball Gazette:

Tailgating at the Opera (Well Sort of)

         © 2013 FMHorner
we opera aficionados, here
in Frog Crossing, Florida,
could make fans in a football parking lot
shake their heads in wonder—
bel canto has come to the outback…

Green Fire: the force that through the green fuse* feeds the world

In the buzzing radiance of the  garden, everything I see is alive. My neighbors looked up from tending their plants as my dog runs a woodchuck into the woods. “Good dog! Protecting the garden!” they cheered. (NB: no groundhogs were harmed making this blog.)

Every plot in this community garden is different: Here edges made with locust logs, for their rot resistance. There, someone has used tree branches for trellising. Another has tomatoes suspended by adjustible twine to lend support as they grow. Some still rich bare earth, others bushy with green. Some weedy, with bolting kale waving yellow blossoms. A hill of strawberries, crinkled leaves all jaunty, and such treasure beneath the green!

My half-plot is all the way down the end, so I admire the changes as I arrive, tools in hand. It’s the first vegetable garden I’ve grown in 10 years, and my first experience with a community garden. I took on a half, since at 12 x 15′ it’s already bigger than my last successful city garden. I learned long ago that bigger can be too much, and I really want this to succeed.

My nearest garden neighbors are in Afghanistan, and their strawberries are burgeoning with fruit, even though many of us gardeners have been harvesting by pints and quarts. I taste a few, crushing the warm sweet berry on my tongue as I survey the changes from two days ago.  I see that since spreading home compost I have hundreds of tiny tomato plants coming up, and two fast growing squash-pumpkin-gourd-melon things. Plus, peach pits!  My french breakfast radishes are popping out of the soil, asking to be plucked. The little beets are crowding more, and I thin and thin until I have a nice pile of beet greens for supper. More potato plants are crowning through the soil  and my own tiny strawberry patch has 2 ready to eat gems. Next year, sweet abundance!

garden harvest for May 15, 2010
mmm, organic goodies

While I am admiring the potatoes, my neighbor K warns me about potato bugs. She takes me to another plot to see them. At first glance, they are roundish and orange with spots and might remind one of the beneficial ladybug. But no, I look closer: these fiendish beasties are actively chomping the leaves in a voracious manner! She shows me how to pluck them (less pleasant that picking berries, alas) and I squash them with a plank. MY potatoes.

I spend an hour or so puttering: pulling weeds, harvesting , setting up a field washing system so less grit goes through my drains at home. I transplant one mystery gourd to a nearby untended plot — if it’s pumpkin, gourd or melon, I don’t have the space — and feed some of the feeble looking plants more top dressing  of composted manure. My dogs have come to rest in the shade outside the gate, and the birds swoop overhead and chatter on the fence. I sow some new seeds: Russian Kale and climbing beans. I stow my tools and admire the box of greens and reds I take home.

*Link to Dylan Thomas poem The Force that through the Green Fuse drives the Flower