Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Day of the Year

The perfect last day of the year activity: a long, long walk at the reservation with a friend. It turned into a positively balmy, blue sky afternoon, so we wandered until dusk. Along the way, my camera was drawn to this rock wall decorated like a work of art with moss and lichens. What a great way to say farewell to 2011 and get ready to say hello to 2012. Happy New Year!

"Nothing is improbable until it moves into the past tense."
-- George Ade

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Piece by Piece

"Piece by piece I seem
to re-enter the world."
-- Adrienne Rich, from Necessities of Life

The photo was taken 12/2/11 at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. Click on image to enlarge.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Slowing Down Time

My current project: slowing down time. Today: successful. These milkweed seeds caught the afternoon sun in the most beautiful way. Watching them escape in the breeze changed time from linear to billowy.

"Give me the clear blue sky over my head, and the green turf beneath my feet, a winding road before me, and a three hours' march to dinner -- and then to thinking!"
-- William Hazlitt (1778-1830)

He also wrote:

"Horus non numero nisi serenas is the motto of a sundial near Venice. There is a softness and a harmony in the words and in the thought unparalleled." -- William Hazlitt

("I count only the hours that are serene.")

The photo was taken this afternoon at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River, New York.

Friday, September 30, 2011


Thank you to Will Nixon, who invited me to be a guest blogger on his Hudson Valley Poetry Blog. I'm not sure exactly what Will anticipated, or actually wanted, but this is what I felt like writing about: Tenderness. In poetry. Here's how my essay begins:


"I want to feel my life. That unbidden line keeps circulating through my mind these days, reminding me to pay attention, to be open, to let the world in. To say yes. Toward that end, poetry widens and deepens what I feel. It colors and enriches my existence, joins me to humanity.

One of the ways a poem awakens the heart is through revealing our human tenderness. In a fabulous piece by Stan Rice, "Monkey Hill," there is a gift of a line: "Over and over the egg of tenderness will break in our hearts." That kills me.... " (Simply click on the "Tenderness" link to leap to Will's blog and finish reading the essay.)

Scrolling through my photos for an image to accompany the piece, I came across this picture. By contrast, the essay is serious, but somehow this bit of over-the-top visual silliness works in tandem. Look, apparently I'm incapable of keeping my camera away from my mother-daughter monkeys, one of my favorite gifts, from my dear CSJ, who knew I needed them.

Click on image to enlarge.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Here is a passage from a book that beckoned to me to pick it up the other morning, to let my finger (like a dowser's divining rod!) find a meaningful passage. It was an "aha!"

People have already had to rethink so many concepts of motion; and they will also gradually come to realize that what we call fate does not come into us from the outside, but emerges from us. It is only because so many ... people have not absorbed and transformed their fates while they were living in them that they have not realized what was emerging from them; it was so alien to them that, in their confusion and fear, they thought it must have entered them at the very moment they became aware of it, for they swore they had never before found anything like that inside them. Just as people for a long time had a wrong idea about the sun's motion, they are even now wrong about the motion of what is to come. The future stands still, dear Mr. Kappus, but we move in infinite space.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet, tr. by Stephen Mitchell

Just love Rilke's way of thinking.

The photo of the leaf was taken 8/30/11.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Swallowing a Cloud

White porcelain cup:
bindweed swallowing a cloud
The eye brims with light

The middle line arrived when I turned back to look more closely at the bindweed and noticed the cloud disappearing "into" the flower. Wednesday's line was joined by two others this morning, two days later. A gift. I don't generally use formal structures or rules in writing poetry; my pieces tend to evolve, creating (summoning) their own shapes. However, the haiku-like form's simplicity seemed to suit the snapshot's capture of an expansive August moment.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This Evening's Enchantment

Magnificent evening walk at the reservation. I wondered if the particular dragonflies I love would be out, and there they were ... magic. It was like an enchantment observing them in all their glittering glory. As before, they invited my camera in, right up close. It was breezy, but they cling like little pennants to the plants. In fact, that's what they are named: Halloween Pennant, Celithemis eponina.

How invisibly
it changes color
in this world,
the flower
of the human heart.

-- Komachi

Friday, May 13, 2011


"To dare to live alone is the rarest courage; since there are many who had rather meet their bitterest enemy in the field, than their own hearts in their closet."

--Charles Caleb Colton

"Secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster."

-- Charles Dickens

Yes, just love these words. I'm back.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Small Serving of Spring Darkness

As an antidote to this brilliant (but cold) spring sunlight, here's a small serving of poetic darkness. The editor of RALPH: The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities asked to reprint "Arms of the Snake," a piece of mine that first appeared in Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts. This is a poem that arrived unbidden, a duende-fueled surprise, even to me. Read on:

Arms of the Snake

Click on photo to enlarge image.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Skeletal Ice

The Soul should stand in Awe --
-- Emily Dickinson

Delicate claws, skeletons, spiderwebs, daggers and ripples of ice. I suffered a wet sock and shoe getting this picture -- twice -- but it was worth it. This was the most beautiful, intricate ice I have ever seen, a gift formed by the crazy weather at the end of February. Now we are on the cusp of spring; even the last gritty rinds of snow have been washed away by the rain. The world is dripping, thawing. Things are about to happen.

The photo was taken 2/26/11. Click on image to enlarge.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Simian Awe

Nonsense is an assertion of man's spiritual freedom
in spite of all the oppressions of circumstance.
-- Aldous Huxley

Humor is just another defense against the universe.
-- Mel Brooks

I agree. I believe in what I refer to as "the dark and twisted little laugh." It saves me from the shadows every time.

Click on image to enlarge. The photo was taken 2/16/11.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Monkey Love Tulip

Monkey love tulip. Spring. Soon. Really.

The monkey also has a baby. The baby is its own kind of wonderful. (Beware, I'm sure other photos will follow.) The attached antique shop price tag was highly entertaining: "Celluloid monkeys AS IS -- wind up not workin, hole in baby's face." You can't wait to see that baby, now can you?

The photograph was taken this afternoon at my house. Thanks, Cindy S-J for the fabulous birthday monkey and baby. You knew I could no way, no how live without them. Simian bliss.

Simply click on photo to enlarge image.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Magic Skylight

I say one must be a seer, make oneself a seer. The poet makes himself a seer by an immense, long, deliberate derangement of all the senses.

-- Arthur Rimbaud, Letter to Paul Demeny [May 15, 1871]

This is my magic skylight, sharing its own odd perspective on the world through its frame of thawing ice. When you look up through it, it toys with your orientation in space. I like that dizzy sensation, the momentary vision of the world as a new and thrilling place. In one of its earlier incarnations, fully covered with layers of ice, the skylight allowed enough light through to become a three-dimensional Mark Rothko painting. This morning its frame has melted and cracked, leaving the naked trees looming like crackled varnish, patterns backlit by February sun. I praise its kaleidoscope eye.

The photograph was taken 2/6/11.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dream Horses

For man, as for flower and beast and bird,
the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive.

-- D. H. Lawrence, Apocalypse

The photo was taken late this afternoon, on my way back from upstate NY. The horses caught my eye as I drove past; I immediately had to find a place to turn around so I could come back, tiptoe through a snowbank, and simply watch them. They were so beautifully still, so dreamlike, so part of the wintry world.