Tuesday, April 30, 2024

The People, Yes

He was a mystery in smoke and flags
Saying yes to the smoke, yes to the flags,
Yes to the paradoxes of democracy,
Yes to the hopes of government
Of the people by the people for the people,
No to debauchery of the public mind,
No to personal malice nursed and fed,
Yes to the Constitution when a help,
No to the Constitution when a hindrance
Yes to man as a struggler amid illusions,
Each man fated to answer for himself:
Which of the faiths and illusions of mankind
Must I choose for my own sustaining light
To bring me beyond the present wilderness?

       Lincoln? Was he a poet?
       And did he write verses?
“I have not willingly planted a thorn
       in any man’s bosom.”
I shall do nothing through malice: what
       I deal with is too vast for malice.”

Death was in the air.
So was birth.

  by Carl Sandburg 

Monday, April 29, 2024

This Is How It Will Be by Barbara Quick


You'd already said goodbye,
but I wasn't sure you were already gone.
Emerging from the bathroom, I called your name,
wanting to know if you'd read the news item
about the two women who got lost in the woods,
then were rescued and driven to their car,
then drove their car down a boat ramp in the fog,
at the bottom of a dead-end road—
and drowned.
"Honey?" I called, realizing
I was alone in the house.
Realizing that this is how it'll be,
for one or the other of us, someday:
Something that wants to be shared
will be unheard.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Visit by Jane Kenyon


The talkative guest has gone,
and we sit in the yard
saying nothing. The slender moon
comes over the peak of the barn.
The air is damp, and dense
with the scent of honeysuckle. . . .
The last clever story has been told
and answered with laughter.
With my sleeping self I met
my obligations, but now I am aware
of the silence, and your affection,
and the delicate sadness of dusk.

Jane Kenyon

Saturday, April 27, 2024

One Summer by W.S. Merwin


It is hard now to believe that we really
went back that time years ago to the small town
a mile square along the beach and a little more
than a century old where I had been taken
when I was a child and nothing seemed to have changed
not the porches along the quiet streets
nor the faces on the rockers nor the sea smell
from the boardwalk at the end of the block
nor the smells from the cafeteria in a house
like the others along the same sidewalk
nor the hush of the pebbled streets without
cars nor the names of the same few hotels
nor the immense clapboard auditorium
to which my mother had taken me
to a performance of Aida
and you and I walked those streets in a late
youth of our own and along the boardwalk
toward music we heard from the old carousel

W.S. Merwin

Friday, April 26, 2024

Book Dreams Do Come True

 Twenty some years ago, I read THE LAKE OF DEAD LANGUAGES by Carol Goldman.

Hooked.  I was hooked.  

I had found an author who wrote words that I could feel, worlds that I could see.

Since then I have kept my eyes open and an impatient toe tapping while waiting for the next Carol Goodman book.

She has never disappointed

I have read, and loved, them all, including those written under the pseudonyms Lee Carroll and Juliet Dark.

Today NetGalley approved my request for RETURN TO WYLDCLIFFE HEIGHTS.  

"Jane Eyre meets The Thirteenth Tale in this new modern gothic mystery from two-time Mary Higgins Clark Award–winner Carol Goodman, about a reclusive writer who is desperate to rewrite the past."

Am I a happy girl?  Pffttt.  

Donald knows I'll be MIA today.  Me, a quiltie, many fluffy pillows, snackies from salty to sweet, and a cup of coffee which seems to magically refill itself.

Life is good.

Thank you NetGalley.

Thank you Carol Goodman for all the words.  ❤

My Wife Wakes Me at 3:00 a.m. to Tell Me She Is Overwhelmed by Kim Stafford


Not for joy did we marry, but for this,
to hammer through the to-do list
in the dark, despair shared, one
to lament and one to listen, knowing
nothing can be done before dawn,
but still the quiet area, fierce
prosecution of the self, as I say
what can be done will be done
in time, and soon the tide will turn,
days will bloom and fade, impossible
imperatives will shrink to their true size
for her, but rise as a tidal wave for me,
and in the night, cast down, I will be
the one lamenting to my bride
at the dark heart of my defeat
and she will tell me all is well
in this dance we do
for one another.

Kim Stafford

Thursday, April 25, 2024

February Evening in New York

As the stores close, a winter light
    opens air to iris blue,
    glint of frost through the smoke
    grains of mica, salt of the sidewalk.
As the buildings close, released autonomous   
    feet pattern the streets
    in hurry and stroll; balloon heads
    drift and dive above them; the bodies   
    aren't really there.
As the lights brighten, as the sky darkens,
    a woman with crooked heels says to another woman   
    while they step along at a fair pace,
    "You know, I'm telling you, what I love best   
    is life. I love life! Even if I ever get
    to be old and wheezy—or limp! You know?   
    Limping along?—I'd still ... " Out of hearing.   
To the multiple disordered tones
    of gears changing, a dance
    to the compass points, out, four-way river.   
    Prospect of sky
    wedged into avenues, left at the ends of streets,   
    west sky, east sky: more life tonight! A range   
    of open time at winter's outskirts.

                           - - -  DENISE LEVERTOV

Wednesday, April 24, 2024


You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

 - - Billy Collins

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Emily Dickinson by Linda Pastan

We think of her hidden in a white dress
among the folded linens and sachets
of well kept cupboards, or just out of sight
sending jellies and notes with no address
to all the wondering Amherst neighbors.
Eccentric as New England weather
the stiff wind of her mind, stinging or gentle,
blew two half imagined lovers off.
Yet legend won't explain the sheer sanity
of vision, the serious mischief
of language, the economy of pain.

  Linda Pastan


Monday, April 22, 2024

In Wilderness: A Novel by Diane Thomas - EDITED

I first read Diane Thomas' IN WILDERNESS in 2015 and wrote about it here.

After recently re-reading it, I'm back to shout its praises yet again and encourage you to give it a try.  Trust me.

Just scoot down the page to see what Lee Child, Ron Rash, and others had to say.

And while scuttling about several rabbit holes in search of an autographed copy (which I did not find), I unearthed a fascinating Conversation Between Diane Thomas  and Christina Baker Kline which you can read here:

In 1966 thirty-eight year old Katherine Reid sells her ad agency and her Atlanta home and flees to the North Georgia mountains to die.

Twenty year old Vietnam vet Danny Maclean, damaged, tortured and cunning, spies her arrival.

What happens next is suspenseful, riveting and raw.

Not an easy book to read, and perhaps not for the faint of heart, but it pulled me in from the beginning. Diane Thomas is an extraordinary writer. Her words mold and manipulate the reader’s feelings in a subtle, sure manner. There are passages of exquisite beauty, along with brutal, haunting, harrowing, gorgeous, tender, obsessive, desolate, bold, erotic, heartbreaking, and uplifting. All this – leaving me with a literary novel to be cherished. One that has moved me like few others. One that I will recommend for years to come.

I pulled the following from the Random House webpage:

For readers of Amanda Coplin and Chris Bohjalian, In Wilderness is a suspenseful and literary love story—a daring and original novel about our fierce need for companionship and our enduring will to survive.

In the winter of 1966, Katherine Reid moves to an isolated cabin deep in Georgia’s Appalachian Mountains. There, with little more than a sleeping bag, a tin plate, and a loaded gun, she plans to spend her time in peaceful solitude. But one day, Katherine realizes the woods are not empty, and she is not alone. Someone else is near, observing  her every move. 

Twenty-year-old Vietnam veteran Danny lives not far from Katherine’s cabin, in a once-grand mansion he has dubbed “Gatsby’s house.” Haunted by war and enclosed by walls of moldering books, he becomes fixated on Katherine. What starts as cautious observation grows to obsession. When these two souls collide, the passion that ignites between them is all-consuming—and increasingly dangerous.

Suffused with a stunning sense of character and atmosphere, Diane Thomas’s intimate voice creates an unforgettable depiction of the transformative power of love, how we grieve and hope, and the perilous ways in which we heed and test our hearts.

Advance praise for In Wilderness

“A harrowing exploration of desire and obsession, In Wilderness sends two people into a physical and psychological wilderness that becomes stranger and more terrifying the deeper they go.”—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train 

“Not my usual thing, which makes me say it all the louder: I love, love, love this book—the fearless and unflinching story of two extraordinary, vivid people alone in a vast pristine wilderness, told with genuine suspense and a wonderfully empowering ending.  In Wilderness is altogether spectacular.”—Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Personal

“Unforgettable: a mad, haunting, dreamlike story of love, obsession, and wildness . . . Diane Thomas mixes elegant prose with raw emotion.”—William Landay, New York Times bestselling author ofDefending Jacob

In Wilderness is an often harrowing story of a love affair between two damaged people, but it is also a paean to the healing powers of nature. Diane Thomas has written an extraordinary novel filled with both darkness and light.”—Ron Rash, PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Serena and The Cove

“Diane Thomas writes like a woman in a fever dream, clashing two wasted, achingly lonely souls together to create sparks that become an all-consuming wildfire. The desolate inner landscapes of Danny and Katherine stand in stark opposition to the beauty of the natural world Thomas so expertly evokes, and I found myself riveted as they stumbled in their broken way toward connection and their own humanity. Heartbreaking, bold, relentless, and intensely erotic, In Wilderness is the work of a true original.”—Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Someone Else’s Love Story

“The story—the writing—stands out as some of the most original and dynamic work I’ve ever read. In Wilderness is an intensely powerful cat-and-mouse love story as gorgeous and brutal as its Appalachian mountain setting. I devoured every word.”—Carla Buckley, author of The Deepest Secret

Disclaimer:  an electronic arc of this book was provided by NetGalley.com.  No review was promised and the above is my unbiased opinion.

Where Am I? by Richard Cecil

Beyond the waves that lap the sandy beaches
my balcony looks down on, there must be
no distant shoreline, only open sea
that stretches toward the west until it reaches
the sky to make an infinite horizon,
which the sun sinks into with a hiss
of surf as afternoon and evening kiss
good night and sky turns on its constellations.
The only sounds allowed besides the surf
are cries of gulls and very distant swimmers
and snapping flags so twisted by the wind
it's impossible to say who rules this turf,
the Kingdom of the Endless Perfect Summers,
which I move to every winter in my mind.

Richard Cecil

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Inertia by Jane Kenyon

My head was heavy, heavy;
so was the atmosphere.
I had to ask two times
before my hand would scratch my ear.
I thought I should be out
and doing! The grass, for one thing,
needed mowing.
Just then a centipede
reared from the spine
of my open dictionary. lt tried
the air with enterprising feelers,
then made its way along the gorge
between 202 and 203. The valley of the shadow
of death came to mind
It can’t be easy for the left hand
to know what the right is doing.
And how, on such a day, when the sky
is hazy and perfunctory, how does it
get itself started without feeling
muddled and heavy-hearted?
Well, it had its fill of etymology.
I watched it pull its tail
over the edge of the page, and vanish
In a pile of mail.

Jane Kenyon

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Curse of the Charmed Life by Kim Stafford


Things pretty much worked out for you—
you have what you need, and if you need more,
you have people ready and able to provide.
Sure, someday your luck will run out,
you’ll be helpless, then gone, and your people
will gather in your honor.
There will be music, and tears. People will
embrace—for you. There will be an odd
buoyancy, a chatter of kind words, blessing.
But the curse of this charm is exile
from the unlucky, how gifts make you
deaf to the sudden shout
of a man camped in the ravine,
make you blind to the dirty face
of a woman with a cardboard sign.
Without hunger, it’s easy to be heartless.
Without hurt, you are disabled. Without
the battering of bad luck, the pummeling
of lost hopes, the wounds of life without love,
of dark dreams that last past dawn, how can you
know what one life might do for another?

Kim Stafford

Friday, April 19, 2024

Driving Montana, Alone by Katie Phillips


I smile at the stack of Bob Dylan CDs
you are not holding in the passenger seat.
Storm clouds have gathered. My "Wow" rises
over the harmonica for your benefit,
but you cannot see that one sunlit peak
in the midst of threatening sky. The road turns
wet at the "Welcome to Anaconda" sign,
and I pat my raincoat, loosely folded
where your lap should be. "Anaconda was almost
the state capital," I say, but that's all I know,
and you don't ask for more. You wouldn't mind
my singing and swerving onto the shoulder
for more snapshots over the car door.
And it's only when I get just south of Philipsburg
that your not being here feels like absence.
I want you to see these dark rotting barns,
roadkill of Highway One. It seems only you
could know why my eyes fill the road
with tears again when a flock of swallows
swoops through an open barn door
and rushes out the gaping roof.

Katie Phillips

Thursday, April 18, 2024

So much happiness

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records . . .
Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.  
- - - Naomi Shihab Nye

Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace

For Mercy has a human heart, and Pity a human face;
And Love, the human form divine, and Peace, the human dress.
Then everyone, of every clime, that prays in deep distress,
Prays to the human form divine — Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

                       (William Blake, 1757 – 1827)

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Who's going to Paris?


I have three friends who are (separately) preparing for their first ever trips to Paris and they have each asked me to share my favorite Paris spots.


Honestly, to me, Paris is more a state of mind than a destination.

If, however, you have always dreamed of going to Paris - why?

  Is there a particular reason?  Shopping?  Museums?  Gardens?  The Eiffel Tower? Antique buying?  Searching for that perfect vintage  Hermès scarf?  Do you dream of writing in a Paris cafe?  Riding a bike through the countryside?  Spending hours in Shakespeare and Company?  

Whatever it is, that should be, in my opinion, the thing you put at the top of your list to do.  Make it happen!

I have written many a piece here about Paris and have posted hundreds of pictures.  

There's a little search box in the top left corner of this blog.  Type in Paris , hit enter and there you go; more than you ever wanted to know.

My first trip to Paris was vastly different from my later visits.  Favorite places and experiences vary.

Just because I am no longer interested in going through the Louvre again doesn't stop me from a walk through the Tuileries Gardens, and going to Marley's Cafe for a hot chocolate and some people watching while being mesmerized and fascinated (still) by the pyramids.  But that is going to bore some people silly.

Want to experience walking in Hemingway's (or F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Josephine Baker) footsteps?  Have a food tasting walk?  A personal shopper to help you find some perfect Paris frocks?  There are tours for practically anything you might want to do.  

Do it!

Make your most important Paris dream come true.

The other things will wait for your next trip.

My favorite things are the surprises.  

Paris is full of surprises for those taking the time to look up and be willing to be surprised.

So.  Kathy, Jeni, Pat - 


Être étonné!

Voyages glorieux!!!

The Woodcutter Changes His Mind


When I was young, I cut the bigger, older trees for firewood, the ones
with heart rot, dead and broken branches, the crippled and deformed
ones, because, I reasoned, they were going to fall soon anyway, and
therefore, I should give the younger trees more light and room to grow.
Now I'm older and I cut the younger, strong and sturdy, solid
and beautiful trees, and I let the older ones have a few more years
of light and water and leaf in the forest they have known so long.
Soon enough they will be prostrate on the ground.

by David Budbill

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Elegy for a Walnut Tree by W. S. Merwin


Old friend now there is no one alive
who remembers when you were young
it was high summer when I first saw you
in the blaze of day most of my life ago
with the dry grass whispering in your shade
and already you had lived through wars
and echoes of wars around your silence
through days of parting and seasons of absence
with the house emptying as the years went their way
until it was home to bats and swallows
and still when spring climbed toward summer
you opened once more the curled sleeping fingers
of newborn leaves as though nothing had happened
you and the seasons spoke the same language
and all these years I have looked through your limbs
to the river below and the roofs and the night
and you were the way I saw the world.

Monday, April 15, 2024

World Art Day


Sharing a much loved painting in honor of World Art Day.

This painting was given to us as a house warming gift when we bought
 our home in Kennesaw, GA in 1987.

 It was painted by our friend Alda Chmura, copied from a photograph I had taken while visiting Lindos, on the island of Rhodes in Greece in 1983.

The lady, known as Mama Lindos, was well known for her beautiful lace work, even recognized by National Geographic with a photo spread and interview telling her story.

The painting is very dear to me.

I fell head over heels in love with Greece during that trip; it was a dream come true.

The trip was one I took with a much loved friend, Michael Dean, long-time partner in a host of adventures.

We lost Michael to AIDS in 1986 and I will never stop missing him.

Sadly, Alda is no longer with us either.

So, so many reasons to cherish our painting of Mama Lindos.