Saturday, December 17, 2016

Here (Wallingford CT)

We are here, agreeable.
Entwined like vineyard vines; a village
with commons and parade ground.
A riverside place of Puritan roots, whole
tribes cleaned like fowl and fish
their proudest names in covert
remembrance as rivers, and trails.

We are here, agreeable.
Where crossroads of four corners, so rare
to be perpendicular among the confluence
of hills. Grandma Moses vistas; planted
steeples, barns, and seasonal trees
Elm, Oak, Yew and Chestnut. 
Each rival nature in long years. In-filled
with Evergreens and orchards, and streets 
lined with blossoming pear.

We are here, agreeable.
Sans many grandiose homesteads, inns and means.
Historic traces in pewter, silver, and smiths.
Parks and buildings ceremoniously christened.
Community beyond calamities, actual and imaginary,
Indians, beasts, famine, the great white plague;
a disease or Other, French, Dutch or Devil,

We are here, agreed.
Beyond ‘stretched to the highest tension’
of trains, of tracks, of cable, of speech.
An incubator for Masons, sanitariums, private
schools, societies - secret or just safe. Moose
Elk and Bear bridge the boundaries of heritage
and markers declare Americana: George
passed through – here.

We are here, agreed.
Sans dragoman, yet a King
An Emperor, Czar, a few godfathers
and Dragons among an army of partisans
Few foolhardy in dissent.  Bullets in descendant’s
hands; now needles in young arms.  As if
it were the fittest missionary. Still. Our history
brings hands to our ears.

We are here, central to all.
Gatherers of stone for fountains
and gazebos forsaken, updated or gone.
Protectors and poets. Creative bedfellows.
Winds rise.  Rain renews. 
Agreeable Souls take root.
A stone wall protects our dead.

Acknowledgement: The History of Wallingford by Charles Stanley 
"Our Ancestors wrought in a magnanimous spirit of rivalry with Nature, or in kindly fellowship with her When they planted,they chose out her trees of longest life, the Oak, the Chestnut, the Yew, the Elm, trees which it does us good to behold, while we muse on the many generations of our Forefathers whose eyes have reposed within the same leafy bays."                                             HARE'S Guesses at Truth.

Wallingford Settled
Indians, wild beasts, famine, cold, the diseases that lurk along the borders of new     settlements, " the French, the Dutch, the devil," and all other calamities, actual and imaginary, that kept their faculties constantly stretched to the highest tension, gave them no time to look backward. Other men retreated from the world to avoid its cares;  they fled to the solitude of nature to begin life anew. 
Purchase of Indian Land:  
In 1774, there were but four Indians in Wallingford. When the town was first settled the Indians were very much disliked, and in more than one instance, when the hat or        contribution box was carried round in the meeting house for money to christianize Indians, instead of a coin, a bullet was dropped in, as if it were the fittest missionary.   Children were often quieted by the cry, "The Indians are coming "! 

Backes explosion Wallingford May 29, 1952. | Courtesy Wallingford Public Library
Backes explosion Wallingford May 29, 1952. | Courtesy Wallingford Public Library
Mattabesett Trail CT Blue Trail System Begins off Route 68. Has one of several George Washington Route markers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Name I am called

I reflect on names often. 
Names are power and naming art – fine, text or metaphorical - an underrated skill. (Graduate School paper-2002)
I muse about why I remember some, forget others. 
The power in dropping names. The cultural expectation of name changes.
The confluence of 1950's babies called Susan. The name that sticks 
from childhood. The name friends call you. The name that works best for the day job.
The name that estranged children of steps should call you.
It will not be a paternal title as that is not who I am.
Eventually it may be the name friends call me - because I have done what friends do - 
provide the safety net that enables life to be less harsh. 

I am not a girl named Sue.

Apparently Personal

A name I am called ‘chirps’ out
inquisitive about what I find to my liking
A watch behind the glass case, jewelry in a tangle 
at a tag sale, socks to make comfortable shoes...

I am a mystery that changed her life
Brought her into a zone, re-positioning home

She is daddy’s other little girl, the unexpected
continuation of a faded union, the turf
of parenthood. Still young, enough
to welcome mother in any carnation – recreated
But not familiar like flesh, or morning or cereal with milk,
Parent poured from the gallon jug.

She accepts nurturing 
like a school lesson or vegetable pills, easier to swallow.

Her phrasing of my first name becomes us
in its lacking, in its echo,  
in the absence of mother-less requests
A name I am called, retained since my girlhood, speaks volumes
In her step-zone, as we appear apparently personal
Like poems in the first person.

~ adele houston
1st draft written after hearing Maxine Kumin speak & share in New Haven  2001 International Festival of Ideas. She died in 2014 at the age of double infinity 88.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Markings, Revisited

A Jazz Peace
In reflection with Markings by Dag Hammarskjold

Clap …   … clap, clap
It can take 40 days.
Notice the Markings. Listen for the Lead.
Seek as if to find melody in jazzscape.
The longest journey is the journey inward.

Am I ready, readied
by the life lead. Graced by manna mornings
of verse and parable, graced enough
to be in stillness before beguiling oases,
ridden of carnal flashbacks.
Superficial, fleeting wonder and greed …hindering

Each tapping foot-imprinted. Forward-
back to the calling forth. Knees
grass stained with determination,
forehead glistening with sweet water
of tempered dedication.
Liberate, ..irrespective of the consequences to yourself.

No time to discern.
The conductor pierces the moment: “Here we go”
Sax then Bass. Piano keys riff. Trumpets putt.
No solo in this flight. Every cavity of being
transported as played before
but never jazzed like this.
Clap …   … clap, clap

There is reverb devotion. Echoed Praise. Contagious
adoration of the Markings. My cavities fills. My hands
come together.
Clap …   … clap, clap
Never for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience.

Hiswillbedone – a jazz peace.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Brick,ing morphed

If All the World’s a Cage, … ?

Episode 1: Opus of our ages

Chum was a baritone.
In a cacophony of siblings he tuned out.
Dressed in manly muscle, disposed to callouses, 
he sang havenward, a barista on the edge of other, 
in the hungry spirit of the nation – in a world at war.
Chum-me, food-ration stamps once in-hand on a butter errand
Blinks life out of focus, stoned by the smell of coffee.
The unquestionable truth slips into dark-sided possible.
Catapulted, not coerced, holding still to unifying News.
Radio, rations and service. Filling life preserves with milkweed kapok
Together – a future in business – an only son.

Episode 2: Colors of the Cages

Papy did not hug.
Hand-speaking and baked in the mold: high demand, no mistakes,
he colored between the blood-lines,
kept his stories closely guarded, read the paper
watched the nightly news. His world with color bars 
on TV and discomfort about a women’s movement
gathered some light, corrugated placards readied for ‘half-baked’,
(his words) resistance, well-worn Crayolas, unboxed
and a brick. His war was also a “conflict”.
Overalls, backpack, 10-speed road ready bike and brick.
Author,ing lines of resistance - to author – ity.
An eldest daughter – goes off to college prepared for brick,ing.

Episode 3:  Aromatic Inner sages

Has every one smelled the coffee?
A rear-view mirror on history beset us with melancholy and foreboding
We have the days of our fathers, the years of our distance and now – 
Memory resides in lines. We return again and again. We keep them safely guarded.
Our lenses scratched. Vision muted with walls of images, words and
Adult Coloring Books with fanciful color within the lines whimsy. Brick’ing is legendary. 

The war – is on Truth 

The prompt was to write a poem with a partner for the title drawn randomly. We drew  All the World a Cage. My partner and I both said we were feeling oppressed by the challenges truth appeared to be having especially in the now varied and constant media and this phrase immediately brought that top of mind.  Before gathering I had started a poem somewhat on the topic of resistance - searching my own history with advocacy for justice. It was very incomplete. My notes follow with the exception of the inserted "title".


I pledge to resist, author
ing lines of movements
resistance to form
to voice, author-ity,

Father did not hug, Baked in the mold
high demand, no mistakes
hand speaking, Papy preferring to color be
-tween the blood lines.

Crayolas, unboxed
corrugate readied for
'half baked' (his words)
resistance, a brick.

overalls, backpack, bike and brick --
for college, for now, for how?
All the worlds a cage
damaged beyond repair
utterly un-savable.

Saturday Morning Poetry Group

It is always fascinating to see how a group of people respond differently to the same task. We are such a product of our filters, lenses and life experiences. One thing everyone did seem to have in common was wanting others to hear their poem.

Being part of this group helps me take time for reflection. For this I am grateful.

It was an active engagement prompt day. 1st we could, has a team or independently, compose cinquains (five line poems) using three different methods.  Results follow:

is Life.
Sacred river place
Stand with Standing Rock

pregnant - winter
celebrating, abiding.  Holding
regrets is useless

Conclusion - No
Today we write five lines
To laugh. To Rhyme. To be unstuck

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Found Poem: Banned Books Inspired

Make A Secret Plan

The new order is coming, child.
The old is passing away.

We f'ked a flame into being,
as if it were all just coming out of Cosmo
…god’s own …freaking thing
Its beginning.

The new order is coming, child.
The old is passing away.

We gather the things we learned:
The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed,
no matter which side he is on.

The new order is coming, child.
The old is passing away.

Must make secret plans
Lead your life. … Try things on.
Regardless of conditions or place or time ...
Not to be conquered, not to
Happily endure … curtailment of liberty … deprivation.

It’s nothing compared to the snatching
When the Fascists say it, ...
When the Church says it, ...
For the benefit of the children, the people …

The law is ... burning, frantic
a chariot wheel … binds us all.

Who would have thought it?
Inertia, wrecking your will and bending you
Heartstrings tied to a hanging noose.
Do not ignore these things!

The new order is coming, child.
The old is passing away.

In the morning sunlight
watch as it passes.

Be cleaned. Weep.

How this poem came to be: Kick Off Banned Books Week With 14 Quotes From Censored Authors
By TOM BLUNT  September 26, 2016
EDITOR'S NOTE: banned books quotes

Banned Books Week is basically an annual celebration of our society’s failures to uphold free speech. By looking back at what was once deemed too hot, heavy, or dangerous for public consumption, we see how much work there is to do in the present to preserve that freedom: every year more and more authors are stepping forward with challenging ideas that someone else wants to keep you from hearing about.
Censorship isn’t a one-sided affair, people all over the political spectrum can find themselves in a panic over what information is disseminated, and how. Wikipedia’s current list of the most commonly challenged library books serves as a veritable Who’s Who of literary heroes, anti-heroes, and outright villains (and where else are you going to see Mein KampfFifty Shades of Grey, and Captain Underpants all on a list together?).
Below you’ll find some of the naughty bits that have kept books like these in the line of fire, in some cases for almost a century. An author wrote them, an editor edited them, a publisher published them — and then for whatever reason, all hell broke loose.
Extracted lines in red
Abbie Hoffman, Steal This Book, 1971
“If shoplifting food seems easy,
it’s nothing compared to the snatching of clothing. Shop only the better stores. Try things on in those neat little secluded stalls. The less bulky items, such as shirts, vests, belts and socks can be tied around your waist or leg with large rubber bands if needed.”
E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey, 2011
“Christian squirts baby oil into his hand and then rubs my behind with careful tenderness — from makeup remover to soothing balm for a spanked ass,
who would have thought it was such a versatile liquid.”
Julius Lester, Look Out, Whitey! Back Power’s Gon’ Get Your Mama!, 1968
“The old order passes away. Like the black riderless horse, boots turned wrong way in the stirrups, following the coffin down the boulevard, it passes away. But there are no crowds to
watch as it passes. There are no crowds, to mourn, to weep. No eulogies to read and no eternal flame is lit over the grave. There is no time, for there are streets to be cleaned, houses painted, and clothes washed. Everything must be scoured clean. Trash has to be thrown out. Garbage dumped and everything unfit, burned.”
The new order is coming, child.
The old is passing away.”
Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, 1968
“But in July of 1964, not even the hip world of New York was quite ready for the phenomenon of a bunch of people roaring across the continental USA in a bus covered with swirling Day-Glo mandalas aiming movie cameras and microphones at every
freaking thing in this whole freaking country, while Neal Cassady wheeled the bus around the high curves like Super Hud and the US nation streamed across the windshield like one of those goddamned Cinemascope landscape cameras that winds up your optic nerves like the rubber band in a toy airplane and let us now be popping more speed and smoking grass as if it were all just coming out of Cosmo the Prankster god’s own local-option gumball machines…”
William Powell, The Anarchist Cookbook, 1971
“You must always have a secret plan. Everything depends on this: it is the only question. So as
not to be conquered by the conquered territory in which you lead your life, so as not to feel the horrible weight of inertia wrecking your will and bending you to the ground, so as not to spend a single night more wondering what there is to do or how to connect with your neighbors and countrymen, you must make secret plans without respite.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22, 1961
“The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on.”
D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, 1927
“We fucked a flame into being.”
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1925
“The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working
for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”
William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch, 1959
“Naked Mr. America,
burning frantic with self bone love, screams out: ‘My asshole confounds the Louvre! I fart ambrosia and shit pure gold turds! My cock spurts soft diamonds in the morning sunlight!'”
Grace Metalious, Peyton Place, 1956
“Give me a child until he is seven, thought Tom, and he is forever after mine.
When the Fascists say it, they’re bums and kidnappers, but when the Church says it, it is known as putting a kid on the right track.”
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1969
“The Black woman in the South who raises sons, grandsons and nephews had her
heartstrings tied to a hanging noose.”
David Levithan, Two Boys Kissing, 2013
We gather the things we learned, and they don’t nearly add up to fill the space of a life.
You will miss the taste of Froot Loops.
You will miss the sound of traffic.
You will miss your back against his.
You will miss him stealing the sheets.
Do not ignore these things.”
Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, 1910
“No great idea in
its beginning can ever be within the law. How can it be within the law? The law is stationary. The law is fixed. The law is a chariot wheel which binds us all regardless of conditions or place or time.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Birth, optimisms and

I deeply respect Warren Buffet. I read The Snowball. Loved his insights into the history of my own time; and ironically wished the same were not to be true,  like "everyone else says a recession will be short and shallow, but I would say long and deep". During the recession I helped my employer merge and down-size. 

My retirement decision enabled a person in Maine with family to be retained, a small upside. I often tried to add value concurrent with mergers so the people elimination quotient could be lower. I thought, at the time, it was the intensity of the job and the value conflicts that kept me from sleeping well.  I have come to know differently.

Last night was another night with unrest; processes, decisions and value questions poking my lack of rest. Thirty years prior I was in like-fits of sleep because my son was born on this date. That day I also had seasonal sinus headaches, muscle spasms in my legs (I gave birth standing after wrenching my left ankle) and a reputation that I was trying to keep in tack.

This rumination is to say: that nothing is for certain, relationships need to be stronger than processes, without the relationships all the good you put into the world can vanish.  

A few months ago I woke with an idea about immediate family with which I lived. It was "Once you leave, I will likely not visit you."  It was an odd feeling to have since I had opened my home and had some level of human interaction daily. For me it was authentic, giving more than I had but for them (the adults) there was no investment, no true sharing nor sacrifice.  

Five minutes of direct truth can topple illusion.

But what can bring about sound sleep?

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Edgerton Park, New Haven, Oct. 1992 (a true story)

Man in the park
shares a bench, feels a breeze, hugs
the landscape.
the sun, warm.
~ the companion fine and fair.

birds whistle, small creatures
are watchful

Man in the park
approaches a bench, feels the heat, hugs
the high hedge.
the sun, light.
~ the companion far too fair.

birds take flight, small creatures
are watchful

Men in the park
embrace, dust clouds the sky, hugs
at the ground
the sun, burns.
~ the companion ashen in despair.

birds caw, small creatures
are watchful 

~ the park.
A bench. No breeze relieves the heat, hugs
through a gun --
the sun, blisters. 
~ the companion, innocent dare.

birds migrate, small creatures
are watchful

Each season returns
the park to the man.

Decipher: A white man buys a gun to use when he comes upon the unacceptable. In a city park enclosed with very high hedges that he has chosen to make his home he comes upon a man of a different color talking to a women he would consider pursuing as his own. He clears the way for his intentions with a gun shot to the other man's stomach. He gets 30 years behind bars. The other maintains a fragile, distant inter-racial friendship because he survives the surgery. Both friends have 'a day in the park' PTSD.