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Laundry & Burns

I have been trying to remember where I did my laundry between 1970 & 1976. For much of that time I lived in vehicles or cabins without running water. Did I haul it to town & go to a laundromat? Wash it by hand in the kitchen sink (when I did have water)? In Maine we did our laundry at the home of sleepy, generous Sandy, mother of 5 & mother of all. Reading Lucia Berlin's story "Angel's Laundromat" makes me wonder. I could have been the girl in her story except for not writing down anything about clean clothes: my interests ran to boys, hitchhiking & being as undomestic as possible. Still, right now, I would like to get that back.

Also & unrelated (probably), happy birthday, Robert Burns. Where is haggis to be found in NYC? I'm sure it's here. I remember Doug Oliver reciting Burns excitedly, which probably meant, I see now, that he was drinking scotch.  Read More 
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If only

If only it had been 30° colder today, all that rain would have been a foot of lovely snow.
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A poem

I wrote this quite a few years ago, revised it more recently.

Esto Perpetua
            for Linda, Ron & Jessi

Ida, my Ida, my Idaho

famous for her taters
& Alene’s French heart
& golden thighs
grab rollicking hills

the golden wheatfields of Moscow
the wheatfields’ soothing monochrome

where we  Read More 
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Happy birthday

Close enough to February & in the sign of Aquarius to start being excited for my birthday in 4 weeks. Today I say happy birthday to:
* My warm-hearted, funny friend Roberta, who always stands up for the damaged & undefended.
* John Donne, a favorite poet of mine.
* Sam Cooke, beautiful gospel singer with the Soul Stirrers & later a pop star.
* And the great Byron, from whom I got the title to a book of mine, from his wonderful short lyric "So We'll Go No More A-Roving."* And the second line of which Johnny has tattooed on his back (that man!).  Read More 
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Monday Quote

Random, unconnected photo: Katz's.
He who chases two hares will catch neither.
~ Publius Syrus

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.
~ Lewis Carroll

Aren't these saying the same thing from different directions?
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The start of a brilliant career

Kyle Dacuyan read at the Zinc Bar as part of the long-running Segue series. Was it the most stunning reading I've been to in 20 years? 30? 40? Yes, quite likely. If there's any justice in the world, in 10 years, 10 thousand people will claim to have been there.

I only met Kyle last summer, when he was hired as the director of the Poetry Project. From the start I found him impressive, particularly for his listening ability. Not many people can (or are willing to) listen closely without inserting themselves.

That quality drives his work. What he read was based on his previous job with PEN, traveling around the country, where he spent days in groups discussing freedom of the press & nights at gay bars. He managed to illuminate those dual activities thoughtfully. I think a lot of younger people & poets are very much ego &/or hectoring ("you messed up, old folks, & here's how! Fix it now!"). Kyle can see the failures but he has a tougher & more noble plan: to show your errors without making you defensive. Outward-facing with a sure core, alive to dilemmas & contradictions.

One anecdote  Read More 
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From the vault (photo edition)

My parents: too familiar for me to see myself in either of their faces.
My parents in front of our old house on 23rd Street in Sioux Falls. That is, they are facing it. I suppose that's their car but I couldn't tell you anything else. What year? Mid-70s? My mother had her 95th birthday this week; my dad died in 1986 at the age of 80. They were the same age almost till the end of his life, despite the fact that she was born 18 years after him.  Read More 
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I decided to write a line or 2 every day about something in the news—& not take the easy out of detailing Yankees negotiations for pitching. It's been depressing. Shutdown, ugliness, financial disaster, Brexit. (The good thing about Brexit is it makes us not the only idiots.) I don't know how long I can keep it up.

But then this: 99 pieces of GOOD news from last year, assembled by Medium:
= Conservation (e.g., the Seychelles created a 130,000 sq km marine reserve in the Indian Ocean, protecting their waters from illegal fishing for generations to come).
= Global health (cigarette use in the U.S. dropped to its lowest level in 50+ years).
= Human rights (female genital mutilation has fallen from 57.7% to 14.1% in north Africa, from 73.6% to 25.4% in west Africa, and from 71.4% to 8% in east Africa).
= Living standards (For the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty).
.... & much much more (click on photo caption for the whole list) Read More 
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Jury duty concluded

Under the boardwalk.
I finally got called for a voir dire at 3 in the afternoon. So sure I would at last get on a case. I guess I don't seem delicate & I'm not, not really, but it was a horrible stomach-turning crime & I just couldn't. The judge & lawyers were the kindest people ever in dismissing me, & a fellow juror gave me a hug & an Altoid. I walked home & felt cheerier, glad that someone can bear to take care of business like that, even if it turns out not to be me.

It's a 20 minute walk to Chinatown even if I was no longer on duty, so I kept my lunch date with a friend from karate who works in the courts, a happy, uxorious man, & now I'm OK except for a headache.  Read More 
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Doing my civic duty

This has nothing to do with the court, but we're not allowed to take pictures (they'd be boring anyway). So hot in here, I wish for ice & happiness. This was Coney Island a few days ago.
I kind of love jury duty. That is, I believe in it. I like meeting my fellow citizens, even though all I've done so far is watch one person's bag while she went to the bathroom. I would want people to take it seriously if I was involved in a case & they were on the jury.

That said, it is so frigging hot in here that I am about to pass out.

That could also be because I'm trying to understand (& translate into English) a scientific paper full of riveting information like this: "(DL: 14 [5.5%], SRD: 6 [2.4%], RF: 7 [4.5%], XPE: 17 [5.5%]). Using thresholds of 8 for the HADS-D and of 9 for the HADS-A, rather than 11, the number of participants with ...."

It was a nice walk downtown & we got to watch an inspiring video about jury duty. My brother, a lawyer, texted me: "I think it is one of the two crucial bases for citizen participation and respect for government. That and voting."

I've been on jury duty a dozen times but never made it through voir dire to get on a case. Why? M— thinks I have a sarcastic demeanor. Things have happened to me. It's hard for me to give neutral answers. Could be any of these reasons, or just bad luck.

I always think of my beloved father, who wanted so badly to be called for jury duty & never was. As a refugee & naturalized citizen, he knew better than most that he wanted to stand for justice.  Read More 
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