On the island where I was a child
nearly everyone was retired, their fortunes

already made. Death was around them
the way water was around our streets.

They taught me how to go fishing
without catching fish; the tide’s breath

was marked in notebooks they kept
beneath their pillows. One old lady

fed me chocolates from a tin
until my teeth were stained by greed.

The old do things slowly so I grew used
to grocery store lines

that did not move, cars that stopped
in the middle of the road. One man spent

a whole day helping me bury a squirrel;
we wrote odes and dirges

to the way it once hurried and planned.



Faith Shearin

Ownership of the anticipated rhyme

“Rhyming and echoing were important in preschool learning. Little ones find comfort in the patterns but also take some ownership of the anticipated rhyme.” – my mom

My mom and I were talking about gameplay today.  How a “get out of jail free” card makes you feel in Monopoly.  How learning and fun are constructed from (or at least always include) emotional echoes.  Surprises.  Recognition.  Comfort.  Relief.  Connection.  Ownership.  Resilience, etc..

In the movie, Witness, the Amish grandfather admonishes the boy: “What you put into your hand you put into your heart.”  Which might also be expressed as: What you put into your heart, you put into your hand.  When you feel, you participate.  When you anticipate, you engage.

Personal Helicon

As a child, they could not keep me from wells

And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.

One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.

A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.

Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.

Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

Seamus Heaney


The word, disaster, comes from combining a latin word for stars (astrum) with a prefix (dis) which means a “lack of” or “distance from.”  Disasters, then, indicate our distance from our stars, sources, heat, primary orbit.

Blue bathing suit

My wife and daughter swim every day. People who swim every day have several bathing suits. Many bathing suits, even expensive ones, fall apart like kleenex if you swim in them all of the time. If you wash your bathing suits, they fall apart even faster. And if you dry them in a machine you don’t do yourself any favors. So if your wife and daughter swim every day, the entryway to your house might have a lot of bathing suits dangling from chairs or tossed over UPS boxes. And you might be familiar with special routines like welcoming your family home, carrying in the school backpacks, putting away the new groceries, and then deconstructing the swimming bag.  Bathing suits don’t easily reveal their defects. You don’t know that the blue Lands End bathing suit is falling apart until you are in the pool’s locker room. Barefoot on the tile floor. Looking over the sink into those big mirrors reflecting the gray walls, the yellow lockers, your wet hair, your pale skin. And then you notice some fabric bunching, some elastic stretching, some small obscenity that you worry may be noticed. But by whom? You pad out to the pool deck on the balls of your feet. Your community is here. A husband is connected to his wife by long earbud wires. They conclude their workout dancing to swing music in the shallow end. The daily inspirational quote on the whiteboard has three misspelled words. Who is counting? Who is clapping? A coach encourages the seasnakes into the water. Some of the five year olds are already submerged with kicking splashes.  My wife swims slow laps. My daughter is submerging and surfacing. They kick across the university pool. The sun fires the surface. The winds are pounding at the windows. Wet clumps of snow slide down the sunroof. The lifeguard has blown the whistle and called everyone out of the water because of the threat of a thunderstorm that is miles away. Miles from the thirty-odd swimmers called out of the blue that they know like no one else.

Praise: Nobel Prize for Literature

Now there’s a wall between us, somethin’ there’s been lost
I took too much for granted, I got my signals crossed
Just to think that it all began on an uneventful morn
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

Well, the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount
But nothing really matters much, it’s doom alone that counts
And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm