Saturday, August 9, 2014

Up in de mawnin'; Happiness machine; Lucy I loved in 1955; Birds are fitted to boughs; Summer's elegy; A caterpillar on the desk ; Note on Poppy's passing


A homeless shelter in Wasilla Alaska
received this gift of a player piano recently.


In 1955


As Birds Are Fitted to the Boughs

As birds are fitted to the boughs
That blossom on the tree
And whisper when the south wind blows—
So was my love to me.

And still she blossoms in my mind
And whispers softly, though
The clouds are fitted to the wind,
The wind is to the snow.

"As Birds Are Fitted to the Boughs" by Louis Simpson, from The Owner of the House. © BOA Editions, Ltd., 2003

Summer's Elegy

Day after day, day after still day,

The summer has begun to pass away.

Starlings at twilight fly clustered and call,

And branches bend, and leaves begin to fall.

The meadow and the orchard grass are mown,

And the meadowlark's house is cut down.

The little lantern bugs have doused their fires,
The swallows sit in rows along the wires.
Berry and grape appear among the flowers
Tangled against the wall in secret bowers,
And cricket now begins to hum the hours
Remaining to the passion's slow procession
Down from the high place and the golden session
Wherein the sun was sacrificed for us.
A failing light, no longer numinous,
Now frames the long and solemn afternoons
Where butterflies regret their closed cocoons.
We reach the place unripe, and made to know
As with a sudden knowledge that we go
Away forever, all hope of return
Cut off, hearing the crackle of the burn-
ing blade behind us, and the terminal sound
Of apples dropping on the dry ground.

"Summer's Elegy" by Howard Nemerov, from The Collected Poems. © The University of Chicago Press, 1981


A Caterpillar on the Desk

           Lifting my coffee cup, I notice a caterpillar crawling over my sheet of ten-cent airmail stamps. The head is black as a Chinese box. Nine soft accordions follow it around, with a waving motion, like a flabby mountain. Skinny brushes used to clean pop bottles rise from some of its shoulders. As I pick up the sheet of stamps, the caterpillar advances around and around the edge, and I see his feet: three pairs under the head, four spongelike pairs under the middle body, and two final pairs at the tip, pink as a puppy's hind legs. As he walks, he rears, six pairs of legs off the stamp, waving around the air! One of the sponge pairs, and the last two tail pairs, the reserve feet, hold on anxiously. It is the first of September. The leaf shadows are less ferocious on the notebook cover. A man accepts his failures more easily-or perhaps summer's insanity is gone? A man notices ordinary earth, scorned in July, with affection, as he settles down to his daily work, to use stamps.

"A Caterpillar on the Desk" by Robert Bly, from The Morning Glory. © Harper & Row, 1975



Note on Poppy's Passing

(Dee left; sister Donna right)

In matching dresses 
undoubtedly made by their mother
the two girls - sisters -
had no thought many years hence
they'd be doing what they just did:

Their father is eulogized and laid to rest
in the Pleasant Valley cemetery
up near the volunteer fahr hall.

Donna gave a memorial talk this time for Poppy
to the assembled Fire Fighters of Pleasant Valley
as she had done many times before.
Older, she has learned well the task of PVFD chaplain
 on the job.

In those previous times
- Poppy 'Big John' Means - a fire chief
had listened intently to his daughter Donna
and often said to her in private
when she was finished with a eulogy

"Mighty fine, there, my girl!
I hope you will save some of that for me!"

I am told by her sister Dee
that she did it well, she surely
Delivered The Goods.

[Dee will be back here at the Odd Fellows
sometime today (Saturday)  - the Raccoon is out -
after a week of being with the family,
many people strong.]


The Welcome Man

There's a man in the world who is never turned down,
Wherever he chances to stray;
he gets the glad hand in the populous town,
or out where the farmers make hay;
he's greeted with pleasure on deserts of sand,
and deep in the aisles of the woods;
wherever he goes there's the welcoming hand
—he's The Man Who Delivers the Goods.

The failures of life sit around and complain;
the gods haven't treated them well;
they've lost their umbrellas whenever there's rain,
and they haven't their lanterns at night;
men tire of the failures who fill with their sighs
the air of their own neighborhoods;
there's one who is greeted with love-lighted eyes
—he's The Man Who Delivers the Goods.

One fellow is lazy, and watches the clock,
and waits for the whistle to blow;
and one has a hammer, with which he will knock,
and one tells a story of woe;
and one, if requested to  travel a mile,
will measure the perches and roods;
but one does his stint with a whistle or smile
—he's The Man Who Delivers the Goods.

One man is afraid that he'll labor too hard—
The world isn't yearning for such;
and one man is always alert, on his guard,
lest he put in a minute too much;
and one has a grouch or a temper that's bad,
and one is a creature of moods;
so it's hey for the joyous and rollicking lad
— for the One Who Delivers the Goods!

(Childhood toy - Froggy the Gremlin - of John Means Sr. 
now at the Odd Fellows, passed along long ago
to his daughter Denise, who played with it hard)

John Means interment 8-6-14
Pleasant Valley MD Cemetery
Photo from his grandson Justin Geiman on FB