Monthly Archives: October 2017

A poem made with geological vocabulary

I meant to look up just a few words for a poem about a geologist friend, but the language was so rich, I couldn’t resist.

The Eruption

We are absolutely dating, he said
As they glided across the abyssal plain.
In the aftershock if that, she
turned on her earphones to an acid rock channel
an aggregate album recommended by Amber.

It’s your angular unconformity I object to,
he continued, and your acting
as if all of us, your Achaean companions,
are just an archipelago about you.

It was a basic, bedrock complaint,
and she buckled a little, inside, like
some kind of breadcrust bomb.
She cast about, cleaved clean from her continental crust.
She was shaken to the core,
He could be so crude.

Don’t think I mean to degrade you, he continued
as he prepared to drill to her core.

It seemed an eon (it was erratic at her epicenter)
Then the erosion began.
The exfoliation of one layer, another,
she fractured, froze,
Her guts as if gastroliths ground them.

In the half-life it could have taken for her heart
to turn to hardpan, something creaked,
a hinge line opened to something inside
a hotspring, an isotope of her essence till now hidden

A kettle, steam kinking upward within,
Then, lava, a liquefaction of the lowland of her soul
Mantle, oozing massive, moving toward
a sudden metamorphosis

Mica, he wanted to mold her
but her orogenic beginnings were leading to a piercing point.
It was plutonic, yes, but now, what a
pneumatolytic,  pyroclastic rift!


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Posted by on October 14, 2017 in Arts, Poetry and Music


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I drugged my dog last night, got new glasses today, and tomorrow I will make soup.

I got a good night’s sleep because I dosed my anxious rescue dog with a light sedative. I was woken up by a pre-dawn downpour that left slushy sleet coating the ground and vehicles, but I always find the sound of rain relaxing and so I slept another good half hour after that.

For breakfast I stirred up some eggs with broccoli (picked yesterday), and strong cheese, pressed some coffee for the portable mug and a jarful for later in the day, and piled my teacher bags and craft supplies into the chilly car. I unplugged the charger, pressed the On switch, and whirred out for my half hour commute.

This week I’m listening to another audiobook from the mysteries section of the library, involving a stabbing of an upper crust millionaire in his castle while all the greedy, strange backbiting relatives are visiting and wishing here was better cell phone coverage and internet. It passes the time, and is better written and read that the last one. That one had lines like: “She fell and her head struck the cement. She had hurt herself.” Plus the reader’s attempts to “do” the male voices turned them all into irritating dweebs, even the ones the reader is meant to like. The story was okay, though–I considered rewriting it to make it bearable and hiring a different reader, but decided to stick with my own work.

I got new glasses today. The last ones were sturdy brown plastic, but growing brittle, and with a substantial scratch where they saved my eye socket from worse injury when an iron patio chair unfolded suddenly into my face. I think I’ll make a Christmas tree ornament out of them in honor of that role, along with my old mouth guard, which has been protecting my molars from grinding wear at night. I’ve also been meaning to make a multi color wreath out of my children’s swimming competition ribbons.  It’s also time I got the recipe for my neighbor’s fruit cake, the only one I’ve ever liked, even without sauce. Fruitcake is one of those things that tastes better as one ages in any case, and it’s been about ten years since I first had it, so I can hardly wait.

Something I worry about is, as I get older, into my mid-fifties and sixties, am I going to start smelling funny and not realize it, along with my house? The young people I teach would surely notice, with their more sensitive noses. It might be a good idea to start wearing scented lotions.

Nothing so strong as what that man in the grocery store the other day was wearing, though. I knew he was nearby, because the sharp, chemical odor of a certain cosmetic ingredient to which I am sensitive started wafting over me from behind while I was scanning the dairy case for coconut yogurt that my daughter had requested for a recipe. I considered telling him, as a stranger, where a colleague or friend might not. I don’t know, do men do that for one another? (“Dude, easy on the perfume next time!”) It was worse than walking down the detergent aisle.

My daughter never did make her recipe, wasn’t even home when I got there. When I tried to put all the ingredients away in the fridge, I found that the load my husband had just brought home from Costco (Lord preserve us from husbands who do the Costco runs!) was piled on top of the previous ingredients and leftovers so that an avalanche threatened. The table and counters were similarly overloaded. I put two items into my car for return the next day (he hadn’t realized we already had them), exhorted him to eat the store-bought broccoli quickly, s it was likely a few weeks old already, and we had a good crop in the garden. One of the ingredients I stashed in the car was tomato soup. I have been pleading with everyone to eat up the bounty that’s been flowing out of the greenhouse and planning to cook and can the extra.

Today in How to Not Starve, I taught a lesson on food waste. We got into a lively discussion during and after the videos showing how 40% of food produced in the U.S. never reaches any table, and much of what does later ends up in the trash. I hope some of the students will work with me to assess our waste at school and try to educate the community toward better habits. Still, one of the points of the video was that our food system depends on that waste to keep the money flowing, and the poor depend on diverted food that would otherwise be wasted (wrong size or shape, past best buy date, etc.) to feed them at low cost through food banks and soup kitchens.

I’ll make the tomato soup tomorrow, with the past due carrots, runt onions, and a little orange juice. It will be good with the romaine that’s sweetening up in the cool night garden.




Posted by on October 13, 2017 in Uncategorized


Cell analogy poem, verse one

The cell membrane is like my skin
which helps to keep my liquids in.
It has some pores, and so do I
Such as valves that open when I cry
and lips that take in food and drink
Much like channel proteins, I think.

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Posted by on October 12, 2017 in Uncategorized


Quotidian Mysteries

When your loved one arrives home from work, you are full of the significance of the events of your day, but as they rise to the tip of your tongue to share, you realize they are…ordinary. So ordinary that to verbalize them seems ridiculous, even to a sympathetic, if tired and distracted, listener. There must be something–you search your mind for it, the event that was special, unusual, touching, surprising enough to bring out to the “How was your day?” It was a good, good day, but why, again?

No, you are not being sarcastic–not at all. Nor are you trying to glorify the ordinary, elevate basic labors to significance that, at least in a finite time frame, they do not have. But–was it only a daydream, or something from further back, before you woke, a dream? Something elusive and delightful wants to be told, but every drafted line that comes to your lips betrays only one thought each, and is that enough?

You completely cleaned the coffee drawer and lined it with beautiful solver contact paper, and it looks wonderful after months of dust and crumbs.

The chickadees in the cypress are out of the nest, perching on the smaller branches of the plum tree and vocalizing in chorus, looking unjustifiably confident.

You thought of a new idea for the parody magazine you have in the works, at least in your mind–an advertisement for lawyers specializing in prosecuting parents who allowed their children (now grown) to quit music lessons when they complained too much.

Your son, now fourteen, is playing in the big pile of topsoil like he used to when he was eight.

You heard the two young adult children discussing budgets and life goals.

The new berry bushes are in the ground and placed just right according to the permaculture plan, and you can visualize a small pond nearby where the lawn is always soggy anyway.

You joined an online local gardening group and have shared lots of tips already.

Of course they care, and would not mock or belittle you for mentioning such things, but still, the feeling is that these items of news really are special, yet only when left unsaid. Cherished in the heart, so to speak. So you keep trying to remember the thought of something larger than all that. But it doesn’t really matter, because of your secret delight.





Stop fighting fires

Stop Fighting Fires

It releases the minerals, you know.
Let it burn, snap, roar, blast back out again the sunshine
that’s been trapped in there for the past forty, seventy,
two hundred years.

Who wants a cold, clammy forest
shading nothing but its own dry twigs
and dead brown needles,
sheltering nothing but cicadas
and a few hungry birds?

Let it burn to ash, and then
burst into wildflowers, grass, and tree seedlings
inviting small scampering things
leaping crickets, slithering snakes, bees,
and releasing a thousand smells.



A poem about having more than the usual fingers

Standards in the classroom

When I learned that the gene for six fingers per hand is dominant,
I thought about all the children who, in infancy and in secret,
Had had two of their twelve fingers cut off
so they could be normal.

Five fingers plus five equals ten —
the basis of the decimal system and Arabic numerals
and Metric, all very clear-cut.

But why not let twelve digits be the norm
and count in dozens?
(Could it be that the dozens we do count
are because of dozens of fingers in some baker clan?)

Or, some could have theirs amputated at the knuckles
and count by fractions.
The teacher would say, “My aren’t they sharp!”
and divide the class into sections
so they could teach their five-fingered friends
(who would wear prostheses to get a slice of the action).

This would be better than listening to the dull teacher
as she lay equations on the board
and told everyone to do their exercises,



Posted by on October 8, 2017 in Arts, Poetry and Music


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Poetry is also adaptive, of course.

Poor Richard

I explain to Peter
as I drive him to work
that all our apparent goodness
is really a variation on self-interest.

I feel guilty saying it,
but also, driven.
Shattering illusions is a compulsive act.

One hopes someone will
be able to shatter back.
Isn’t that right, Mr. Dawkins?

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Posted by on October 7, 2017 in Arts, Poetry and Music, My poems


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Grasshopper snacks and paper maché

So, so tired, and glad that next week we have a teacher work day. I’m putting in too many hours again, not sure where I could cut down, sure I need at least to be more efficient. I’m trying to simplify grading, for one. My colleagues are helping me with that, showing me ways to create a tighter assessment loop, with more frequent, smaller chunks. I like the moving away from any big tests, and checking for genuine understanding of essentials only instead, combined with meaningful deeper assignments where I look at progress in process-type skills.

Today was a high planning, no grades day. In my Not Starve class, I cooked up some freeze dried grasshoppers and live crickets with chili powder and garlic, and the majority of students had some, as did I. A few had more, one a small, quiet fifth grade girl who told me, with quiet pride, “I had fifteen.” I printed out a large grasshopper drawing with the number she’d eaten and took a photo. Then I sent a pair of students around to share with the staff, and later my principal took them around again, and even got the second grade teacher to eat one. She was surprised at herself, but also proud.

I also served rose hip and haw tea, berries from the garden, and warm, cooked beets.

In Science Art, I mixed up a recipe of ultimate paper maché and we started making armatures out of crumpled grocery bags and masking tape. The requirement was that they make living organism forms or parts with uncomplicated shapes. I have some students who have a hard time with self control, and even though I specified safety & courtesy guidelines, a few still had to be warned and separated. Still, everyone had a good time, though the armatures look pretty rudimentary.

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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Education



A very short poem which I would not like read at my funeral, as that would be mean.


I forgive you for not appreciating me enough when I was alive.
You know who you are.

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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Uncategorized


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