Tag Archives: poetry

Random Impulses

Camping

Generally, as most of us get older, we have a very good idea of what our likes and dislikes are. Recently, though, I have been thinking about doing some things that I know I do not enjoy or usually want to do. It’s an odd feeling.

As I wrote before, I don’t like to be outdoors. Maybe I spent too much time outside when I was growing up, but the great outdoors has far too many hazards and discomforts for me to want to spend hours there. I know there are people who love the outdoors and spend a lot of time there, and that’s all right. They can have my share.

The odd thing is, I’ve been thinking about aboriginal Americans who lived very close to nature. Whether their shelter was a lodge or teepee or pueblo, they had to have been aware of the elements. With a fire for heating and breezes for cooling they were right in the midst of nature.

I have been camping exactly once in my life. I was ten years old, and I remember not sleeping much and just about starving since each of us was responsible for his own food. Lately, though, I been wondering what it would be like to stay outside in a tent. I could pitch one in my back yard and not be that far away from the comforts of the indoors. Of course, I’d have to buy almost everything I need, including a tent. I do have a sleeping bag from my daughters’ Girl Scout days. It’s a thought, but a strange one for me. Still, I find myself thinking that being outside with nothing but a thin nylon wall between me and the outdoors would be intriguing, although I’d probably wait until spring to try it.

Then there’s traveling. I’ve decided I don’t like to travel. Oh, I like to see different places, particularly places with history and good restaurants and good bookstores, but actually getting there is pain. I don’t care for driving, which is mostly monotonous and occasionally terrifying. My wife is a great driver (and a wizard parallel parker, even left-handed), so she does most of the driving when we go somewhere. I do the navigating, and I’m good at that, except when I’m not. That’s a subject for an entire column, but not just now. Anyhow, if there were a Star Trek-style transporter available, I’d use one, even at the risk of scrambling my molecules. To be able to be some place instantly has a huge appeal for me. And don’t even think about flying. That used to be fun and an adventure, but I don’t have to tell you what a pain it has become. No, I’m comfortable where I am, with everything I need right here. That’s why my travel impulse is a strange one. I’d like to fly around the world. I’m not talking about flying around the world non-stop on one tank of gas. What I’m thinking would be fun would be to fly around the world using scheduled flights. I’ve checked and it’s possible. It would take about three days. I think I would like to go business class since I would plan to be on an airplane most of the time. I wouldn’t even leave the airports or clear customs—I would just go right on to the next flight. This is even crazier when I consider that I am mildly claustrophobic. That’s why business class. I could leave on a Friday and be back Monday if my calculations are correct. It would be cool to say I had done it.

Then, I’ve been having an impulse lately to have another career. That’s not that unusual for an early retiree like me, but I’m talking about an entirely different career. When I was in my early teens I wanted to be a rocket scientist. (I was too tall to be an astronaut then.) What dissuaded me from this career path was the sad reality that I was not very good at math, and math is important to being rocket scientists. My impulse is to take science and math classes and earn a degree in astronautical engineering. I figure with the coursework I’ve done already I can skip the core classes and things like phys ed. and go right on to advanced science classes. It would be a whole lot easier for me to earn an M.F.A. in creative writing, but becoming a rocket scientist in my 60’s sounds much more appealing, even if I am probably worse at math than I was in high school. Grandma Moses started painting when she was in her 80’s, so maybe I do have a future with NASA.

So I have these random impulses, but I’ve found if I lie down for a while, they soon pass. Thank goodness for small favors.

 

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A Biscuit City Special Edition: In Honor and Memory of Seamus Heaney, 1939 -2013

Image Image

My small tribute to an incredible poet: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/guide/182158#poem

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Friday Poem of the Week: This Poem Lies

Pinocchio

This Poem Lies

Now just a minute there:

Poems are supposed to be full of truth
Because Keats said Beauty is Truth
And Emily Dickinson advised us to
“Tell the Truth/But tell it Slant,”
So, a poem filled with lies?
I don’t know—
It’s quite a conundrum for
A literature/poetry/writing/philosophy major
As many of us are.

Sigh. Here goes:

The moon is made of green cheese.
NASA is lying to us.
There are UFO’s out there.
The government is lying to us.
The sun is not shining like a red rubber ball.
The Cyrkle is lying to us.
Elvis is dead
And I don’t feel too well myself.

Lies, all lies, including
This poem
And this line
And that’s no lie.

Honest.

–Dan Verner

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Friday Poem of the Week: Efficiency vs. Beauty and Grace

Daffodil

Efficiency vs. Beauty and Grace

Having left a car for my aunt to use
At the assisted living place where my Dad lives
While she visits him
I walk home, a distance of about half a mile
In the bright spring sunshine,
Wondering why I don’t walk more.
I see things I don’t see when I drive
But, darn it, I have places to go and
People to see and don’t have the time
To walk everywhere and so I don’t.

But I should.

I remember my grandmother talking about
Walking to see people a distance of eight miles
One way. That would take five hours total,
Visiting time not included.
Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy walked
Twenty miles in a day just for a lark
Or a daffodil or a beautiful spring lea.

I am such a weakling, insulated from nature
Most of the time, moving from heated space
To heated space or air conditioning to air conditioning.

I am missing out on so much Beauty and Grace
In the name of cold Efficiency.

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Poem of the Week: Train Station

Train Station

Train Station

Imagine a small red brick train station

On dual tracks of the Southern line

Mansard-roof, red clay tiles

Waiting room, luggage room, ticket office.

Go sit on one of the green-painted benches

On the platform

Listen to the rain and

Wait. Wait patiently if need be and

When this poem pulls in

Climb aboard.

–Dan  Verner

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An Announcement and Friday Poem of the Week: “Seven Stanzas at Easter” by John Updike

Sunrise

First, the announcement: it’s spring break time for the Biscuit City crew, so Molly, Nancy, the Harrisons and B. Russell will be taking off for undisclosed locations. With budget cutbacks there will be no use of the Biscuit CIty Spa and Resort. That’s for paying customers, Molly says, and we believe her. We’ll be back with a post on April 8.

And now this poem:

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

John Updike, 1960.

A  happy and blessed Easter to all you Faithful Readers!

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Friday Poem of the Week: The Cats Are at Work

There are thousands of cat at computer pictures on line. What are you people doing all day? Why aren't you filling out your brackets?

There are thousands of cat at computer pictures on line. What are you people doing all day? Why aren’t you filling out your brackets?

The Cats Are at Work

a follow-on poem to “The Cats Are Driving to Work”

for Alyssa, who liked the original poem

The cats are at work.
They pull into their reserved spaces
Growling from a long commute
Slouching toward the entrance in that peculiar feline way,
Not speaking (they’re cats, after all),
Flashing their ID’s at the tiger behind the security desk.
They settle into their little chairs at their little desks with a sigh.
No purring at work: it’s not forbidden,
It’s a simple reality. Work is not purr worthy.
They ply their trade, international security,
These cats, guarding their humans sleeping at home
From cyber threats and depredations
Perpetrated by bears and panda who want to
Steal all the catnip.

The HR cats have it the hardest:
They explain once again to the testy but talented
Siamese from accounting
That medical insurance does not cover an eyelid lift
And that HR is not there to protect her interests
But those of the company.
It’s a startling revelation repeated over and over to the
Cat employees. They’re not stupid,
Just hopeful that if they ask the same question enough times
They will receive a different answer.

Interview over, HR cat pops another Xanax,
Takes a quick lap from her milk mug,
And wonders if there’s fish for lunch in the cafeteria
And not nasty dried cat food. Again.
She sighs, calculates how long it is until nap time
And quietly hopes for a mouse to scurry by.
And so, day after day,
The cats are at work.

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