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After the Snow

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We had a serious snowstorm – for southern New Mexico – last week.  The Superintendent of Schools didn’t think it was bad enough to close schools, with the result that there were five or seven children in classes that officially numbered 20.  They ended up closing early.  Two days later, everywhere the sun could reach had melted.  The shady areas took a few days longer.

I went out to see how the garden had fared in the snow.  The parsley was very happy.  parsleyThe rosemary decided it’s time to start blooming.rosemary flowerI decided to bring a few branches indoors to add some green to my study.  rosemary in vaseI hadn’t thought about how much rosemary looks like an evergreen tree until I started working with these close-ups.  It’s leaves are like fir or spruce.  And I found one source on odors of herbs in cooking, which calls rosemary “piney.”   Looking at the vase of rosemary in my study, I started playing with these ideas.

An untitled work in progress

What’s rosemary to you?  When Ophelia
said “remembrance” I pictured
a soft leaf to brush against the cheek,
not this sturdy stiff-needled bush.
This kind of memory stays green,
refuses to go away, an ugly scene
replaying from an old movie.

Words From Mary Ruefle

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“Metaphor is not, and never has been, a mere literary term.  It is an event. . . .   If you believe that metaphor is an event, and not just a literary term denoting comparison, then you must conclude that a certain philosophy arises: the philosophy that everything in the world is connected.”
(“Madness, Rack and Honey,” p. 131)

“Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.  If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place?”
(“Someone Reading a Book Is a Sign of Order in the World,” p. 191)

“A poem is a finished work of the mind, it is not the work of a finished mind.”
(“Kangaroo Beach,” p. 222)

“I remember “remember” means to put the arms and legs back on, and sometimes the head.”
(“I Remember, I Remember,” p. 245)

SHORT LECTURE IN THE FORM OF A COURSE DESCRIPTION
My idea for a class is you just sit in the classroom and read aloud until everyone is smiling, and then you look around, and if someone is not smiling you ask them why, and then you keep reading―it may take many different books―until they start smiling, too.”
(“Twenty-two Short Lectures,” p. 255)

“When students are searching for their voice, they are searching for poetry.  When they find their voice, they will have found poetry.  When they find poetry, they will live to regret it.”
(“Twenty-two Short Lectures,” p. 259)

“I will tell you that if you think I know something or anything, I am just pretending to know as a way to pass the time.  Personally I think we should all be in our rooms writing.”
(“Lectures I Will Never Give,” p. 279)

These statements come from Mary Ruefle’s book of lectures/essays, Madness, Rack and Honey. There is plenty more in the book to savor, ponder, and even question―or to play with as a prompt, if you like.  Ruefle is a complex person, as these samples suggest, and she doesn’t worry about smoothing over complexities or contradictions.

Ruefle has published several books of poetry.  She is also known for “erasures” in which she takes a printed page and removes all but a few scattered words to make her artistic statement.  See http://www.maryruefle.com.

Vowel Sounds

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We’ve all been taught that there are five vowels, “and sometimes “y.”  But those five vowels make many more sounds, fourteen or fifteen, depending on which internet source you consult.  (Apparently this is not yet an exact science.)  The value of the sounds – which is important to poetry – ranges from the high of key, cane or kite (or bee, bay and by) to the low “oh” and “oo” sounds (coat, cool, or bone and boo).

The echo of vowel sounds from one word to another is called assonance.  I’ve been playing with that feature.  The trick, for me, is keep to assonance and not get stuck in rhyme.  I haven’t succeeded yet with the “eh” sound, because there are so many words ending in -ed: bed, bread, fed, red . . . .  Rhyming is not the point of this exercise.  The long “I” has similar problems.  Too much fine wine.

Here are a few experiments:

Evening: sense
and  sound calm us down,
which is why we say
Hallowe’en,
that shriek, a keen.

Sums hum
in the air. Money
troubles the bed.
Love
comes to shove.

Flash, dash, fat cat!
Clap for all that’s
under your hat,
in your stash.
What’s after?  Ash.

You don’t have to be a poet to play this game, but I think it’s good practice if you’d like to become one.

Playing with the Camera

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The son who gave me my new camera last Christmas was back this year and gave me some lessons in more things I can do.  One was about focusing close-ups.  Here are some of my attempts: P1000328And another: P1000329My son, in demonstrating, had the good artistic sense to focus on a green leaf among the red ones.

Photo by Jack Young

Photo by Jack Young

Here is my effort.  P1000338A few days later I gathered some leaves from the tall ornamental grass in my yard, and did some more practicing. P1000342The plant outside is much browner now because we had a snowfall the day after New Year’s.  I’m enjoying this color while it lasts.