Monday, March 29, 2010

Block City

Block City – Robert Louis Stevenson (For my Grandson Griffin)

What are you able to build with your blocks?
Castles and palaces, temples and docks.
Rain may keep raining, and others go roam,
But I can be happy and building at home

Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea,
There I’ll establish a city for me:
A kirk and a mill and a palace beside,
And a harbour as well where my vessels may ride.

Great is the palace with pillar and wall,
A sort of a tower on the top of it all,
And steps coming down in an orderly way
To where my toy vessels lie safe in the bay.

This one is sailing and that one is moored:
Hark to the song of the sailors aboard!
And see, on the steps of my palace, the kings
Coming and going with presents and things!

Yet as I saw it, I see it again,
The kirk and the palace, the ships and the men,
And as long as I live and where’er I may be,
I’ll always remember my town by the sea.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Plastic Beatitude

Plastic Beatitude by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

            Our neighbors, the Pazzotis, live in a long
narrow canary-yellow house with Mrs. Pazzotti's old
father, their 2 daughters, their husbands, 4 kids,
a tortoise shell cat and a white poodle.
            Their yard is my childhood dream: toys,
bicycles, tubs, bird cages, barbeques, planters, pails, tools
and garden sculptures: an orange squirrel eating a nut,
Mickey Mouse pushing a wheelbarrow, St. Joseph
carrying a lantern, his other blessing hand
broken at the wrist, and two tea-sipping toads
in an S-shaped love seat, smiling at each other
under a polka-dotted parasol.
            On the yellow railing around the deck,
a procession of nine pinwheels. This May morning,
they thrash the air with each breeze like clumsy
angels nailed to their posts. On the garage wall
at the end of the yard an electric cord
shoots up to the roof. One half connects to a blue
neon insect electrocuter, the other half snakes to, then
disappears into a pedestal cemented on the cornice.
            And there she stands, in plastic
beatitude—and six feet of it—the Madonna,
in her white robe and blue cape, arms
outstretched, blessing the Pazottis, their yard
and neighbors, lit from within day and night,
calling God's little insects to her shining light,
before sending them straight
            to the zapper—tiny buzzing heretics
fried by the same power that lured them
to their last temptation.

"Plastic Beatitude" by Laure-Anne Bosselaar, from The Hour Between Dog and Wolf. © BOA Editions, Ltd, 1997. (Thanks to The Writers Almanac)

Monday, March 15, 2010

William Shakespeare

Sonnet 27

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head,
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expired:
For then my thoughts, from far where I abide,
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see
Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.
Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee and for myself no quiet find.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)