Nov. 17th, 2014 10:16 am
jcd1013: (Anne - Redheaded snippet)


By Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

jcd1013: (Default)
It is bitter cold outside, with gusting gales and , and it seemed
appropriate. I tend to relate to the nature poems; I suppose the small-town
girl who spent weeks in the mountains still lurks beneath the surface.

Poem: "Tracks" by Marge Piercy, from The Crooked Inheritance. (c)
Alfred A. Knopf.


The small birds leave cuneiform
messages on the snow: I have
been here, I am hungry, I
must eat. Where I dropped
seeds they scrape down
to pine needles and frozen sand.

Sometimes when snow flickers
past the windows, muffles trees
and bushes, buries the path,
the jays come knocking with their beaks
on my bedroom window:
to them I am made of seeds.

To the cats I am mother and lover,
lap and toy, cook and cleaner.
To the coyotes I am chaser and shouter.
To the crows, watcher, protector.
To the possums, the foxes, the skunks,
a shadow passing, a moment's wind.

I was bad watchful mommy to one man.
To another I was forgiving sister
whose hand poured out honey and aloe;
to that woman I was a gale whose lashing
waves threatened her foundation; to this
one, an oak to her flowering vine.

I have worn the faces, the masks
of hieroglyphs, gods and demons
bat-faced ghosts, sibyls and thieves,
lover, loser, red rose and ragweed,
these are the tracks I have left
on the white crust of time.
jcd1013: (Default)
A little bit of background. This poem is from an anthology entitled "Body Language" which is a collection of poetry written by those in the medical profession: medical students, residents, physicians. From the Amazon review, "By presenting physicians who are also skilled poets addressing a diverse range of medical situations, Body Language offers fascinating insights into the inner world of people who regularly face life-and-death decisions." This poemespecially struck me, the fledgling neurologist in training, and offers you, I hope, a glimpse into the world of teasing out diagnoses and sometimes being right and sometimes being wrong.


Man in his late seventies comes in with his wife,
weak, lost twenty-five pounds, can't eat, hard to talk,
seeing double off and on past eighteen months,
been to a family doctor and two specialists.

They don't know, I've got some ideas. It's
beyond my scope, here in the rural north country.
I get him tucked away in the medical center
by the following morning. He's out in five days

with a diagnosis, I was right for once. He's
eighty percent better on treatment, says
he's two hundred percent. Gives me the credit
for once. The gray hair helps. Man comes in

to emergency with loss of vision in one eye.
works full-time, in his sixties. It goes away
and he wants to go home. Internist and eye doctor
find nothing. I find something and say, No.

Family says I'm overreacting but they all agree,
reluctantly. Urgent angiogram-surgery on the
neck arteries is booked for the following morning.
That night his opposite side becomes paralyzed.

Emergency surgery cleans out a nearly
blocked vessel. They don't appreciate the
postoperative pain. They don't appreciate my
style or anything about me. He walks out

saved from an almost certain permanent
disability. Woman comes in with a headache,
high blood pressure, in her fifties. I do a spinal,
few red cells, radiologist gets me on the phone.

He says the CAT scan's negative, I'm not
so sure and send her down country for an
angiogram. Radiologist was right and I was
wrong — no aneurysm in her brain. Young

mother of two comes in with seizures hard to
control all her life, and paralyzed on the right side
from birth. I consider a CAT scan a waste of money:
the gray hair stands for experience, remember?

She gets slowly worse over the years. Her family
doctor does a CAT scan, finds a malformation
of the brain. We just ain't so smart, my old
teacher used to say when I was an intern. A man

comes in, in his sixties, can't work, losing weight,
muscles are twitching, hard to swallow, hard
to talk. Do some tests, tell his wife and him
he's got Lou Gehrig's Disease, it will affect

his breathing, he's going to die, it will be
tough, we'll try some things. We do, he gets
worse, can't walk, can't feed himself.
I visit the house: a small cape with a screened

Porch behind a variety store in a small town in
New Hampshire. He gets worse, I
visit some more, talk some to him,
to his wife and son, the man dies.

~~Parker Towle, from Body Language. (c) The Library of America
jcd1013: (Default)
I'm sitting here in neurology clinic, trying out the "post by email" feature. I can't access LJ from the VA hospital (they have more security firewalls than any other place and so far, I haven't been able to bypass
it). So this might be the next best thing.

April is National Poetry Month. In years past, [livejournal.com profile] fileg has posted a poem a day for the entire month, and I was introduced to so many lovely poets and works of art that stirred something deep inside that I thought long dead. I had forgotten, that once upon a time, I found time to paint, to write, to engage that creative side of me.

She hasn't posted any this year (nudge, nudge), but I thought I might continue the tradition. I won't be able to do every day (I've already missed 2 days), but I'll do as many as I can. In addition, if you have any favorite poetry to share, send them on!

This was The Writer's Almanac poem for today, which I adored (and he's a Utah writer! Even better!):

"Unwise Purchases" by George Bilgere from Haywire

Unwise Purchases

They sit around the house
not doing much of anything: the boxed set
of the complete works of Verdi, unopened.
The complete Proust, unread:

The French-cut silk shirts
which hang like expensive ghosts in the closet
and make me look exactly
like the kind of middle-aged man
who would wear a French-cut silk shirt:

The reflector telescope I thought would unlock
the mysteries of the heavens
but which I only used once or twice
to try to find something heavenly
in the windows of the high-rise down the road,
and which now stares disconsolately at the ceiling
when it could be examining the Crab Nebula:

The 30-day course in Spanish
whose text I never opened,
whose dozen cassette tapes remain unplayed,

save for Tape One, where I never learned
whether the suave American
conversing with a sultry-sounding desk clerk
at a Madrid hotel about the possibility
of obtaining a room
actually managed to check in.

I like to think
that one thing led to another between them
and that by Tape Six or so
they're happily married
and raising a bilingual child in Seville or Terra Haute.

But I'll never know.
Suddenly I realize
I have constructed the perfect home
for a sexy, Spanish-speaking astronomer
who reads Proust while listening to Italian arias,

and I wonder if somewhere in this teeming city
there lives a woman with, say,
a fencing foil gathering dust in the corner
near her unused easel, a rainbow of oil paints
drying in their tubes

on the table where the violin
she bought on a whim
lies entombed in the permanent darkness
of its locked case
next to the abandoned chess set,

a woman who has always dreamed of becoming
the kind of woman the man I've always dreamed of becoming
has always dreamed of meeting.

And while the two of them discuss star clusters
and Cézanne, while they fence delicately
in Castilian Spanish to the strains of Rigoletto,

she and I will stand in the steamy kitchen,
fixing up a little risotto,
enjoying a modest cabernet,
while talking over a day so ordinary
as to seem miraculous.
jcd1013: (Default)
Sometimes, you just need a moment to remember who you are... who you were...

I just got back from my grandparent's. Their house hasn't changed much--books are still piled all over, mixed with my grandmother's knitting and writing projects, and Grandpa's newspapers. The "willow" tree out front, where we cousins used to dress up and play "Little House on the Prairie" (I was Ma, 'cause I was the oldest. And my sister Laura was usually Laura, even though she was the youngest.) is larger now--we could no longer use the split in the trunk as a table. But there are still cats prowling around and apples in the orchard and swallow nests on the front porch.

Magic still lingers there.

My grandparents are getting old now. Late 70s with white hair and ill health. But Grandpa is already getting his snowmobile ready, at just the mention of an early winter. And Grandma has so many projects that I think she keeps to defend herself against death--she can't go until it's organized for her posterity.

I spent three days talking with my grandma about politics and religion, family and ancestors, art and poetry. We talked a lot about writing. I confessed that I still write when I can (although I don't think she understood what fanfiction was).

Grandma writes--essays, short stories and poetry. It's her poetry that I like the most.


I've been bitten with the poetry bug... I've never really written much--mostly because I don't think of myself as the lyrical type (and no, we're not talking rhyming) and I think all that I have in me is trite... But I think I just might try.

[livejournal.com profile] fileg, at one time, you mentioned starting a LJ community like your "verse and adversity" forum at HASA. Would you still be willing to do it? I never was as active in V&A as I wanted, but I did learn some invaluable lessons on how to tackle poetry, and I would love to see something like that here on LJ.

I have two whole weeks off! Whee! I haven't had more than a weekend since July. I already feel less sleep-deprived. I have lofty goals (such as cleaning my house... Hate it, but it's gotta be done!) and a beautiful week to do it in.

Chris called me as soon as I got home. It's nice to know I was missed. :)
jcd1013: (Default)
Meme stolen from [livejournal.com profile] kimarama " When you see my poem, you post a poem, too. I don't make the rules people." I went on a hunt for poems, because my favorite poetry book has gone missing and stumbled across this one. And I've been in a really sentimental mood recently, so, I'm sharing it.

Like Anne Shirley's House

I want a house that lifts itself
from the ground with a porch
like the lap of an apron
made to hold me in wicker.
The floor will be fir, clear
vertical grain; cut, milled,
shipped down from the north,
painted over each spring
semigloss gray — deck gray
it will say on the can.

People will come to a porch
composed around
the private dignity of a house
open to friends.

It will have corners for secrets.
The trellised west side
dripping rampant vine, flowering
frantic with bees in July,
a niche for the intimate glance
as amethyst deepens to violet
and the small wild loves of earth
sing out its rhythm
as if the whole country round
were gliding to bliss on rockers.

Faye George from Back Roads
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