"But cats to me are strange, so strange I cannot sleep if one is near." ~ W. H. Davies

Growing up in the country, we always had a barn cat or two. They were not particularly domesticated. They liked to kill things and leave the carcasses by the back door. I wasn't exactly fond of cats, but I did not 'dislike' them either. Until I took a kitten to college with me during my third year. That cat destroyed my plants, tortured my roommate (who later confessed she often pulled the cat's tail) and failed to win over the affections of an erstwhile boyfriend. So the kitten was shipped back home to the country to become, yes, a barn cat. I heard she ran away.

From that point on, I became a dogs only person. My younger sister also disliked cats. This fact became a huge joke between us when my sister entered a veterinary program. She vowed she would never treat cats. We even re-wrote the Eagles hit "Hotel California" - it became "Hotel Catifornia" and the lyrics said something like: 'you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave .....!' We made up false sympathy cards for clients whose beloved cats 'mysteriously grew ill and died' whilst being treated at her 'Hotel Catifornia.'

I know. All you cat lovers are hissing and booing me. That's okay. This tail has a twist.

In need of additional income to open her own veterinary clinic, my sister took a second job working for ...... Yep. A cat clinic. A cat - loving clinic. I don't know what they did to her there, but she changed. Oh yes. My cat-hating sister decided she would treat both dogs AND cats at her newly opened clinic. It's a slippery slope my friends. Stray cats were brought in needing food and care. No one wanted them. My sister bought a farm. The farm has a number of barns. You can see where this is going: barn cats.

When I visited her this past summer, my little cat-hating sis, the veteranarian, had FOUR, yes 4 BIG CATS wandering in and out of her HOUSE ?!! Oh, and one barn cat who stays at the barn. Sigh. Okay, maybe I petted one of her cats just to prove that I could be the bigger (dogs only) person.

But I still think cats and their people are strange !



the poem that started it all ...

Summer of 2006, I purchased from a charity shop a slim volume of 'modern' poetry, illustrated with the works of modern artists. I believe it was published in the late 1960's/ early 1970's. I still have it - my very first book of poems - somewhere packed in a box with all my other books. And this poem, this was the poem that began my love affair with poetry ...... inspiring me to take red crayon to paper and begin scribbling my own poems. I have not ever found any more works by
Jerzy Harasymowicz, but I wish I could. My searching led me to Wislawa Szymborska and Czelaw Milosz, contemporaries of Jerzy, and from there to a larger world of words and rhythms and ideas. As Thomas Gray, English poet, states: "Poetry is thoughts that breathe and words that burn."

The Bicycle


forgotten by tourists
a bicycle joined
a herd
of mountain goats

with its splendidly turned
silver horns
it became
their leader

with its bell
it warned them
of danger

with them
it partook
in romps
on snow covered

the bicycle
gazed from above
on people walking;
with the goats

it fought
over a goat,
with a bearded buck

it reared up at eagles
on its back wheel

it was happy
though it never
nibbled at grass

or drank
from a stream

until once
a poacher
shot it

by the silver trophy
of its horns

and then
above the Tatras was seen
against the sparkling
January sky

the angel of death erect
riding to heaven
holding the bicycle's
dead horns.

~ by Jerzy Harasymowicz

(trans. from Polish by Edmund Ordon)

** There is more Jerzy Harasymowicz on the web these days - thankfully! Here is what poet Czesław Miłosz writes about his contemporary in his book, Postwar Polish poetry: an anthology :

"Harasymowicz's first volume published in 1956 bore the title Wonders and it defines his work quite well. His poems are surrealistic fairy tales. His is a world of murky cats swearing in slang, trees acting as princesses, saints from old paintings reciting prayers on the choir loft of an abandoned country church, kettles wearing red tailcoats, carpets with masochistic inclinations. His metaphorical inventiveness seems unlimited, and he builds his tenderly or cruelly humourous stories in verse on the sensuous qualities of the simplest things he observes.

I see a basic difference between such a poet as Harasymowicz and the poets of America or France: his imagination is not urban and, consequently, he can name an astonishing number of plants, trees, birds, often playing with those names and inventing images by mixing nature with the history of art. The medieval city of Cracow, where he lives, is often present in his poems, but the woods and remote villages of the highlands are particularly close to his heart.

His stubborn clinging to poetry conceived as the realm of personal myths protects him from those who ask for 'meaning' and he always maintained a complete indifference to ratiocinations. It is a pity that the musical quality of his poetry cannot be rendered in translation."



a poem

Oh flawed species,
who has fashioned spears from saplings,
notched points of flint, sliced
the coral flesh of the salmon,
pounded tapa from the inner bark of the mulberry.

With heavy brains balanced
on slender stalks of spine, we have gazed
through ground glass, listening
for the music still humming
from the violent birth of the universe.

Deeply imperfect species, soaring
into the noon sky like a silver god, bursting
the four-chambered hearts, the humble intestines,
of people we've never shared a cup of tea with, breath
of steam rising between us.

Wondrous species riddled with greed,
steeped in cruelty, still stitching
one life to another with bone needle.
After all these voyages around the sun
we continue to lie down together, swim

in the small oceans of each other's irises,
mothers drunk on the fragrance
of one damp scalp. Strangers break down
the doors of fiery buildings for each other,
siphon blood from their own swollen veins.

Meanwhile, flounder genes have been slipped
into strawberries to keep them from freezing,
a bit of jellyfish glows in rabbits in the dark.
Now we are poised to alter our children.
First, to cure.

Then a fine glass needle to inject
a helix of intelligence. A purified sequence
of perfect pitch. Double-stranded necklace
of permanent beauty. Or maybe just
eliminate sadness.

You get the embryo out
where you can work on it,
make some copies,
tease apart the cells, flick a gene
on or off like a light switch,
pack it all up into an emptied-out egg case.

Life stretches back in a single
history for three and a half billion years,
and change has been glacial.
Hubris, an individual sin, a king's downfall.
Death wiped up the stage after each tragedy.

My heart breaks—can I say this?
Am I an archaic cliché to be broken
open with grief? Who will mourn
Homo sapiens? I can hardly
comprehend the loss of animals I've never seen—

silver trout, leopard frog, Pyrenean ibex—
each flame extinguished darkening the earth.
Now this terribly human species—did we ever imagine?
Can you bear it? Doesn't it
make you crazy? Doesn't it?

~ by Ellen Bass
How a Poem Happens



public service announcement

A spanish blogger,
Alberto Granados, left a message on one of my blogs requesting information about this painting. I traveled to his blog, entitled Alberto Granados, and with my piece-meal spanish managed to deduce that he has been searching the net high and low looking for the name of the painter and any additional information regarding the painting. I've done two image searches: one at Tineye and one using Google's Reverse Image search engine. They led me to 3 other Spanish speaking blogs - all using the image but none with any specific info about the painting.

So I am posting his request here on my blog. Feel free to pass the word along to other bloggers.
If you find anything about 'La Mer' as he has titled it, you can leave a comment at his blog (he understands English) or email him at: quequereisqueosdiga@gmail.com

Good luck!



beautiful collision

The heart breaking makes a sound I never knew
Could be so beautiful and loud
Fury filled and we collide
So courageous until now, fumbling and scared
So afraid You'll find me out
Alone here with my doubt

Here it comes, a beautiful collision
Is happening now
There seems no end to where You begin and
There I am now
You and I collide

Something circling inside
Spaciously you fly, infinite and wide
Like the moon and sky, collide

Here it comes now

lyrics: A Beautiful Collision
David Crowder Band


love, love, love ........ all we need is

"When someone loves you,
the way they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."

Billy - age 4

Via Soubry via Miss Cellania


happy birthday, soubriquet !!!

I Want

to shove my clothes
to one side of the closet,
give you the bigger half.
Quietly I'll hide most of my shoes,
so you won't know I have this many.

I will
rearrange furniture to add more,
find space on my shelves
for your many books
nail up the placard that says
poets do it, and redo it, and do it again.

I want
to share a laundry basket,
get our clothes mixed up,
wait for the yelling
when my reds run wild
into your whites
turning them a luscious pink,
your favorite color of me.

I will
move my pillow
to the other side of the bed,
lay yours next to mine,
your scent on the fabric
always near me,
even on nights you're away.

I will
buy a new bureau to hold your
thousand and one gray socks,
find a place for all those work boots,
the ones I refer to as big and ugly.

I want
more pots and pans to wash,
piles of them leaning high
from late night meals
cooked naked and drunk,

red wine pouring into
a sauce of simmering
tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil,
kisses bitten between bites,
and platefuls of our late hours,
stacking up into dawn.

I want
to stock cupboards, closets, and pantry,
fill the house with us.
I want to gain weight with you
because our love,
our love makes me fat.

~ by Kim Konopka



for the man who gave me Eliot ... xxxxx

Turner: Norham Castle Sunrise

Turner: Blue Rigi Lake of Lucerne

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.

excerpted from Burnt Norton

(No. 1 of The Four Quartets)
by T.S. Eliot



madame bovary ...

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert is considered to be one of the greatest novels ever written and is hailed as Flaubert's masterpiece.
It is a prime example of Realism which depicts the banal activities and experiences of everyday life, instead of a romanticized viewpoint.

This novel, if read when I was a twenty-something, would have thrilled me. I can see myself sitting around with my girlfriends discussing the oppressive paternalistic society that subjugated poor Emma Bovary. I would empathize with Emma's ennui, her flight into romantic fantasies, her constant search for meaning in a meaningless life. I would blame her culture for her lack of self-actualization. I would cite pro-feminist works such as Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique and essays by Gloria Steinham illustrating how women have been pressured to conform to society's expectations of them. I would not lay the blame for Emma's trials and tribulations on Emma, but on the society at large. It would have made for a great thesis in a "Women's Studies" class.

Alas. I am no longer a twenty-something. Instead, I am late forty-something who has 'been around the block' a time or two. And I just could not relate to Emma Bovary. Or her husband, Charles. I found not a single sympathetic character in this novel. I wanted depth and perception. Instead, I found a novel that glorifies the shallowness of its characters and their lives. Surely, as women, by the time we hit our forties, we've lived out our own version of Emma Bovary: the fairytale wedding, the delusion of 'happily ever after', the endless spending of trying to keep up with the Joneses, the pursuit of beauty and sex to define our self-worth, the foray into motherhood ... And, hopefully, we've reached a place where we can say "Enough." These things do not define me. And so begin our truer journeys into self and the creation of an authentic life (one in which we establish parameters based upon our experiences, trial and error, and self wisdom.) This novel taught me nothing new. It did not stretch me mentally, emotionally. I found its prose (lauded as perfection) to be tedious.

**Alain de Botton summed Madame Bovary as thus:

" It's about a shopaholic adulteress who swallows arsenic after credit fraud."

And that's all I really needed to know.


** Thanks to Dave for the link /reference



"We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle
and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer
and finally meet at the centre:
rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two,
and each of those in two again,
and at each fork you must make a decision."

-C.S. Lewis



from the vault: an rdg poem

Our household is under siege: we've all come down with some sort of hacking cough, laryngitis, feverish colds. So I am cheating and pulling up an oldie but goodie poem of yore. I've finished reading Madame Bovary (or Madame Bovine as I have affectionately renamed it) and want to write about it, but I'm having trouble stringing coherent thoughts together.... Enjoy!

nursing sweet sin

On a night drenched in rain,
I heard a tap on my door and
let sin come into my house.

Thin boned and starving,
I dried her with fine linen
and served her warm milk
in my finest china bowl.

She folded herself up in
my favorite chair,
the one right next to the fire.
She fell asleep,

In the morning, she cried
to be let out.
I watched her from my window
stalk her prey.
She always returns
at dusk.

She grew larger and sleek:
no longer the sweet bundle
I had nursed.
A jump on the counter
sends fine china flying,
shattering on hard tile floor.
She is eating me out of house
and home.

At night she now sleeps in my bed.
Her watchful, yellow eyes
bind me to her each night.
Like a lover,
she kneads my body
with large paws,
lightly claws skin off my back.

In the morning, I cry
to be let out.
Curled up in her window,
she smugly watches
me escape down the street.
I always return home
to her house
at dusk.