He’s Still Waiting!

 

“A Brave Man and a Brave Poet.”-Bob Dylan on Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Today is the birthday of one of America’s best poets, in my opinion, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and he is 95 years old!  I used to read and carry around his “A Coney Island of the Mind,” which contained a fave poem of mine, “I Am Waiting,” with the great line, “and I am waiting for a rebirth of wonder.”

He was hip, he was cool and he opened a bookstore that I would have liked to have visited, but never got the chance: City Lights Bookstore in North Beach in San Francisco.

I am so happy to celebrate his birthday with you today!

He was born in Yonkers and when his dad died when he was a few months old, his mom was committed to a state mental institution and Lawrence was sent to France to be raised by an aunt. He returned to the states, served in WW II in the Navy, and opened his bookstore, named after the Charlie Chaplin movie, “City Lights,” because, “Chaplin’s character represents for me … the very definition of a poet. … A poet, by definition, has to be an enemy of the State. If you look at Chaplin films, he’s always being pursued by the police. That’s why he’s still such a potent symbol in the cinema — the little man against the world.” writersalmanac.publicradio.org)

The Cold

“I am fascinated by language in daily life: the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or a simple truth.”-Amy Tan

Here’s a little ditty I just composed:

You’ve got to be kidding, it’s 9 degrees!

Icicles are dangling from the trees.

The basement where I write has no heat

My first cup of coffee can’t be beat.

Thinking of what must be done today

Is a short list, but meant to keep things at bay

I’ll exercise, eat breakfast, get over to Mom’s

Do what I do which equals several balms:

A balm for the heart

A balm for the feet

A balm to maintain a steady beat.

A Parent, A Child, We do what we do

The season doesn’t matter for Me and You

Just this cold gets me rattled, but I’m grateful for so much

Like my Hubby, Children, Mom, Heat and such!

So, on with the day, forward in my path

No time to waste on Winter Wrath.

**There’s a great album my husband and I listen to, especially in the winter. It’s a compilation with John Gorka, Christine Lavin, Patty Larkin, Bill Morrissey and others, it’s called “On A Winter’s Night” and truly every song is a gem. Here’s John Gorka doing Bill Morrissey’s “She’s That Kind of Mystery.”

“Jump At De Sun”-Zora Neale Hurston

  

“I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions.”

     – Letter from Zora Neale Hurston to Countee Cullen

Jump At De Sun,” good advice from parent to child; similar to Langston Hughes’s “Mother to Son” poem where the Mom orders her child, “So boy, don’t you turn back. Don’t you set down on the steps ’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.” I used to read that poem all the time in my classroom and other classrooms throughout the school building. It was part of my repertoire as a teacher.

When I was a young woman, about 30, I read everything I could about and by Zora Neale Hurston. I fell in love with “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and that propelled me to learn more about her. She was a very intriguing individual to say the least. Hurston was part of the Harlem Renaissance and she spent many, many years traveling the South, getting to know people, listening carefully to their stories and how they expressed them in their varied dialects and then used those experiences as inspiration for her stories. 

“In Their Eyes Were Watching God, talk is a character in its own right. Janie Starks is, as was Zora Neale Hurston growing up in Eatonville, Fla., immersed in the speech of people who speak freely in towns that are populated and governed almost exclusively by black Americans. In the fictional town created by Hurston, talk is made of “Words walking without masters; walking altogether like harmony in a song.”[2]”-PBS

She went to Howard University; was offered a scholarship to Barnard (Class of 1928) and like so many of the Harlem Renaissance writers, had her share of benefactors that helped support her. It’s so sad that she died in poverty and no marker on her grave. The writer Alice Walker paid to have a headstone placed on Ms Hurston’s grave in 1973 with the epitaph: “Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South.”

Rev. W.A. Jennings, who delivered the eulogy at Zora’s funeral, disagreed with the press in its statement that Miss Hurston died penniless. “Oh, no! She died rich, as her various contributions will live on after she is gone.”-St. Lucie County Online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hope is the Thing with Feathers”-Emily Dickinson

As I watched President Obama speak at Nelson Mandela’s memorial this morning, I continued to have hope for this world, for this President, for humanity. The snow is falling heavily on the East Coast right now so I was at my mom’s at 7am to put the garbage out in front of her home, make her fresh coffee (I told her to stay in bed, too early for her to start her day), take something out of the freezer for her dinner, put in the meat loaf meals and roasted chicken wing meals into her freezer, you get the picture. “Hope is the Thing with Feathers,” Emily Dickinson wrote. She was born today in Amherst in 1830 and that line is one of my all time fave lines. I remain hopeful, the alternative sucks and is too depressing. I hope all wars end. I hope poverty ends. I hope corrupt governments end. I hope poor education and inequality ends. I hope all forms of identity thefts, frauds and scams end. I hope all governments and nations and peoples can be friends and just democratic governments abound. There is so much to hope for. That hope that “perches in the soul gets me through each day as I worry about my 90-year old mom and her quality of life. It’s good right now at this moment, this minute, but I worry…Yesterday the doctor asked her if she wanted to go on meds for diabetes and also take a blood thinner….she said “no,” and I supported her decision. Food is comfort. I will continue to hope for all of us and for my mom as we all sometimes experience, “the chilliest land” and “the strangest sea.”

 

 

 

 

 

“Something Told the Wild Geese” and Me!!!

Something told the wild geese

It was time to go,

Though the fields lay golden

Something whispered, “snow.”Rachel Field

The radio told ME this morning that it was 28 degrees in NY! I hate the cold!!!!   So here I am in my basement with the electric heater on. This is where I “work.”  It’s a lovely routine, I get up; Look outside, perhaps bring the daily paper inside; put the Keurig pod coffee maker on; Go downstairs and put the computer and now the heater on…Voila, my early morning!  Routines are nice,they keep you grounded and are comforting. ““The modern world is chaotic, and many things are beyond our control,” says Dr. Sian Rawkins, head of ambulatory psychiatry at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital. Routines at home work to create a stable foundation that makes it easier to cope with an unpredictable world.”Kim Pittaway, Best Health Mag  At some point this morning, I’ll go shopping for things that both my household (Hubby and me) and my mom need and drive over to mom’s. She’s within 2 miles from my home, very convenient. At mom’s, another routine will commence as I make sure all is well with mom and her surroundings. I know I’ve remarked on this before, but elderly parents must be near their children, no doubt about it. I’m lucky that we were able to make this happen nearly 19 years ago on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!  Mom’s going to be 90 in early December…so fortunate that she’s still with us, is ambulatory and has all of her marbles!!!!  

Today in 1965, the soundtrack from The Sound of Music movie with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer hit #1 on the Billboard Charts. One song, Edelweiss, is similar to following a routine and the ease it can instill, with its lines: “Edelweiss, Edelweiss, Every morning you greet me.”Rodgers & Hammerstein

Well, every morning, I enjoy greeting my husband (who is still sound asleep upstairs since he’s on vacation this week); greeting the morning; the coffeemaker; the newspaper; the computer; my email…and starting the day. Each day may seem repetitious, but it’s never boring. “There IS comfort in routine.”-John Steinbeck

 

 

“…a creative woman of her time.”-Valerie Jean on Georgia Douglas Johnson, in Beltway: A Poetry Quarterly,

Poet, Georgia Douglas Johnson, was born today in 1880. She was an American/African-American Female poet and much more than that. She was also part of The Harlem Renaissance. “To think of Georgia Douglas Johnson as only a poet would be to call her out of her name.  Add the labels of musician, playwright, fiction writer, mother, wife, friend, mentor, intellectual and gracious host, and one would begin to approach more of who she was– a creative woman of her time.  One of the most loved and cherished participants of the Harlem Renaissance period, “Georgia Douglas Johnson was the nurturer who gave to others not just her cadenced words, but much of her heart.  While acknowledging the oppressed position of women in her lifetime and documenting how this stifled the creative spirit, she nevertheless proudly wore the mantle of the woman poet and fully embodied this restriction for herself.”-Valerie Jean

YOUR WORLD by Georgia Douglas Johnson

Your world is as big as you make it

I know, for I used to abide

In the narrowest nest in a corner

My wings pressing close to my side

But I sighted the distant horizon

Where the sky-line encircled the sea

And I throbbed with a burning desire

To travel this immensity.

I battered the cordons around me

And cradled my wings on the breeze

Then soared to the uttermost reaches

with rapture, with power, with ease!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A July 1st Morn’

I googled “summer poems” this morning and found this lovely poem by a Welsh poet, William Henry Davies/W.H. Davies and lo and behold found out he was also born in July, July 3rd to be exact…so let’s think of this as an early birthday recognition.

“W.H. Davies was born in south Wales, in the small town of Newport, Gwent, in 1871. He left school in his mid teens, and was apprenticed to a picture frame business. A wide and enthusiastic reader, he nurtured ambitions of travel, which the death of an aunt helped realise, for he was left with a small legacy. Having travelled to the USA, he lived as a tramp for some years. Then, while moving north to Canada, he lost a leg through jumping a train.He returned to England, and continued a vagrant life, frequenting the doss houses of London.”( Bridges, James. “W. H. Davies”. The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2003 [http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=5213, accessed 01 July 2013.]

In 1908, W.H. Davies published The Autobiography of a Super- Tramp. “Published a quarter of a century before Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London and fifty years ahead of Kerouac’s On the Road, Davies’s account of his impoverished but carefree life was a sensation.”100welshheroes

When on a Summer’s Morn

by William Henry Davies

 When on a summer’s morn I wake,

And open my two eyes,

Out to the clear, born-singing rills

My bird-like spirit flies.

 

To hear the Blackbird, Cuckoo, Thrush,

Or any bird in song;

And common leaves that hum all day

Without a throat or tongue.

 

And when Time strikes the hour for sleep,

Back in my room alone,

My heart has many a sweet bird’s song —

And one that’s all my own.