Author Archives: Irene
If you really want to listen to my clogged-up voice, please click here:Muguets and Tissues
Oh, the fuzzy muzzy muddle-headed mediation of a cold! Right in the middle of this scurrying season, the flow of life congeals, senses blanketed in thick subterranean retreat, jello in the veins and brain.
Though people come and go throughout your day, forget your appearance–nothing makes your puffy self attractive. Red rims every feature of your face, your cracking voice seems to be emerging from an antique bathosphere, and the few movements you care to make are like a stop motion animation with the motion mostly stopped.
But there is comfort in withdrawal after a week of intense effort. And perhaps at day’s end, you can, in your pajamas, gather sorrel from the garden, roast garlic and shallots, chop the last potato, sip that savory soup, mix a toddy of brandy-addled ginger tea, climb into bed with an old-fashioned whodunnit, blessed by the faint but detectable scent of a nosegay of muguets you plucked. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.
City Tulips, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden, 2014
As the old song goes, while strolling through the park one day, in the merry, merry month of May, I was taken by surprise… by the colossal size and the glory of the tulips on the way. These opulent beauties are gracing Madison Square Park for a few more days.
But I cannot linger to describe or draw conclusions from them (not that they need it) for I teach a dozen poetry classes this week to help our local schoolchildren cherish the natural world. (Thanks to the Hudson Highlands Land Trust’s River of Words program.) So it’s a short post today.
Monday was School Forest Day here in Garrison, and I was asked to conduct a few sensory awareness exercises with first-graders. We watched leaves dance, listened to myriad sounds, learned to know a personal rock by touch alone.
Here are the blooms I’m cultivating in our country woods–with any luck, they’ll keep blossoming for years and years.
To listen to this post, please click here: Fiddle Dee Day
At dinner the other night, John and I were served a delicious dish of sautéed fiddlehead ferns. I always feel a bit guilty eating them, since they burst so with promise, as did this one outside my cabin door last Friday.
As we munched, I was reminded of my slenderest little volume, eight pages long. Tracy Strong and I conceived, designed and printed it spontaneously in a single day in 1995 to accompany my show Stand-Up Dreams.
As you see, it’s entitled “All Points on the Psychic Compass Turn In.” It’s a tiny collection of thoughts that occurred to me waking up from sleep. (The title itself is one.)
Such thoughts have a different quality from either dream or waking reality, and while I don’t always know what they mean, I enjoy attending to them.
The one I recalled was this:
It made me laugh when I wrote down, but I didn’t fully get its meaning until I took this photograph a few moments ago. That’s the very same fern in the top photo, but how the days have changed her. Her head is nearly all unrolled–though, for the moment, her leaflets are fiddling still.
This fleet season, these few days when opening leaves are V’s on the trees, is like that ephemeral state between sleeping and waking–a sweet surprising passing gossamer of consciousness. Reminding us that life, at any stage, still bursts with promise.
What are you fiddling with these days?
To listen to this post, please click here: Words On a Page
Waiting for a train I heard one young woman tell another, “My brother says, ‘Why should I read? It’s just words on a page.’ ”
Struck me to the heart, these words in the air. And though I’m selling tuxedos to penguins, should someone ever ask you…
“Why board a train?” I want to say. “It’s just cars on a track. It only gets you places hard to get to on your own. And a whole lot faster.”
But shock occasions reflection and reflection, gratitude.
Words on a page. Important, like boxcars, for what they convey. Which is us.
Reading, we ride with the engineer. Worlds of our joint creation spring up around the locomotive.
Non-fiction writers can take us anywhere —this author explored the Arctic, for example, so I can share somewhat in that experience. What expert scouts good writers are!
Fiction writers take us inside of each other, inside of ourselves. They train our inner ear to our inner life—that slippery ongoing stream of psychological states which filter, flow and congeal into physical experience.
And poets? Well, they don’t use tracks at all. They just beam us from place to place.
Isn’t it wonderful, this magical travel through each other’s minds and experiences? Even if sometimes the page is glowing glass, not paper.
Where have you been traveling lately?
(No dictionaries were harmed in the creation of this post.)
To listen to this post, please click here:Why Let Your Hair Whisper?
Don’t you get a kick out of life? You just never know what you’re going to see when you pop into a shopping plaza.
Before I offer my answer to this interrobang-less question, however, I do want to note with warmth and affection that this vigorous and colorful bit of marketry was done entirely by hand—an increasing rarity in signage these days.
Nor does it feel like a corporate suggestion, or something someone would pick up on a salon-tips website, also an increasing rarity. “Why let your hair whisper when it can scream?” has the cachet of an original notion. Was it the boss’ vision, or an enterprising employee’s? Perhaps they are one and the same person.
Either way, you can picture the grinning artist with her stack of big printer paper and her markers, twirling away, bringing in business. For if I wanted my hair to scream, I’d want a salon where people clearly have fun with line and color and, in evidence on the smaller signs, scissors!
However, as far as the question itself goes, it’s nice to have an answer I don’t have to google (yet another increasing rarity?)
Because though my hair’s short, it’s still close to my ears.
Have you an answer you don’t need to google?
Thanks to the lovely Liz Gilbert for yesterday’s Facebook Fan Page post featuring my work!
As mentioned last week, our local newspaper, The Paper at Philipstown.info, is running “One Poem a Day Won’t Kill You” through April. Today’s video is me reading my poem “To My Husband Away On Business.” (Please click below.)
And a reminder that I’ll be a featured poet on May 2–please come hear the new work!
Vernal Icon, photo and all text © Irene O’Garden, 2014
To listen to this post, please click here:Vernal Icon
This stunning vernal icon on our mantelpiece was created by collagist Lisa O’Rourke. (No website yet–her work was offered at Tracy Strong’s wonderful studio sale.) Though freshly minted, it strikes an ancient chord in me–a fine untarnished image of fertility that feels at once medieval, and somehow older than Easter.
As accompaniment, here is “Rabbit,” from my Voices of Animals collection. I often share it in the classroom with young bunnies.
Spring is the heart
of the rabbit. Spring
is the haunch. My ears wing
my sound: melody of morning
runs like water down. My nibble
my gnaw my sweet root. Then danger!
rustling like birdflight,
fans my ceaseless quickenings.
How I love to be afraid!
For I know I am fast—
the holy scent passes my whiskers,
I joy in the whiz of the grass—
know fear’s good; smell speed there.
Blood runs high, worlds blur
in this great bounding game.
The turn the twitch
the switch, the hitched haunch
in twisted white wheat loosed
just before the clamping tooth,
slipping spinning kicking
bare along the pounded bank
Will I make my hole
or float above me watching?
Wished I a safe life I’d live
as a mole! Wriggle short fur
grass tuft tail. I have known
severally this great soaring instant
of death. We die as the grass:
not at all.
How will you enjoy the rites of Spring?
Check out One Poem A Day–great seeing folks read favorite poems.(Mine appears next Wednesday.)
And here, the info about my poetry reading on May 2 in Beacon:
To listen to this post, please click here:The Gardener’s Lament
(Apologies for the missing apostrophe above–Wordpress will not let me put it in, despite my particular personal affection for that bit of punctuation!)
How happy I am to plant this timely guest post before you today, written by the literarily nimble John Pielmeier! While known to most of the world as a dramatist and screenwriter, he is also a delightful poet, as you soon shall see–
(Full disclosure: I am myself the wife to whom he refers.)
THE GARDENER’S LAMENT
Starting on the Ides of March
I have seen my poor wife arch
Her greening brows, begin to plan
Precisely where to plant her can-
teloupes, tomatoes, peas and corn,
Rhubarb, lettuce, Plenty’s Horn.
April brings the seeds a-sprouting
In our kitchen, stemlings mounting
Up our dining rooms bare walls
In our living room and halls,
Bathtub filled with greening babies—
Future yeses, no’s and maybe’s.
May’s the time to plant and crack
The earthen beds and break your back
By heaving tons of sod or mulch or
Some such boons to horticulture.
June—our growing babes are prey
To bugs and slugs; Cocoons of May
Have sprouted into caterpillars;
My wife and I—the June bug killers—
Forgot to spray the tree for leeches—
Whoops! Too bad, we lost the peaches.
Come July the currants red
Are calling us from early bed
To pick and pick and pick and pick
And pick and pick til we grow sick
Of picking. Lo! No end in sight.
It’s time to pray for currant blight.
In August-time the corn is high
As–well—a tallish midget’s eye.
The sun’s been hot—a fierce attack—
And all that’s green has turned to black.
But never fear! My lovely mate is
Overburdened with tomatoes.
September’s crop is fit to burst—
Too bad the deer have got it first.
October’s time to plow it under,
Dream of next year’s harvest plunder,
Calculate the season’s fee—
A dollar-ninety-eight a pea!
For tho’ the snows sift white and deeper,
Winter’s veggies sure are cheaper.
Begging all your green thumb’s pardon,
I bid farewell to this year’s garden,
While ordering Burpee o’er the phone.
There’s nothing like a grow-your-own.
How does your garden grow?
If you find yourself in Beacon NY on Friday night May 2, I will be a featured poet at the Howland Center at 8pm–I’ll be reading some of my newest work. Hope to see you there!
To listen to this post, please click here: Sprung: A Writer Wednesday Post
Though momentarily concealed, the sun was out long enough this week to bless the dining-room bouquet, soften the earth in the garden and distribute a general feeling of relief here in the Hudson Valley.
Help arrived yesterday and busted up the last crusty, recalcitrant, gravel-studded humps of snow; scraped away the tattered mats of autumn leaves, and leveled all the yellow silhouettes of “winter interest”—those grasses, rosehips, dessicated flowerheads we leave in the bleakened landscape to lift our hearts.
Snowdrops, crocuses, green poking spears –all the lovely little Spring clichés bring comfort, for I’m wrestling with the angel of an old writing project. Caught myself thinking that finishing it will be quite an accomplishment.
But that approach can be a winter of its own. Does Nature “accomplish” Spring? Is it a list of tasks she checks off one by one? When she’s finished, does she collapse in a cloud and say “Glad that’s done!”
Those poking crocuses remind us creative projects are not sets of tasks, either, but living things, with their own seasons, growing out of ourselves into themselves and at last, springing free of us.
What’s springing up in you these days?
Wanted to let you know about a delightful project our local newspaper, Philipstown.info is doing. Perhaps your community might enjoy creating this as well–I was asked to record one of my poems–it will air later this month
One Poem a Day Won’t Kill You” celebrates April as National Poetry Month by inviting community members to read a favorite poem, original or borrowed. The project drew such an enthusiastic response that April may be a bit longer than usual this year. Tune in each day for a new addition to a delightfully inspiring anthology of poems and voices.
“Words draw pictures,” my mother was fond of saying. Perhaps that’s why I paused a moment when I recently heard myself say–as many do– “My mind’s like a sieve.” This mind I was griping about immediately came up with a rejoinder, which I wanted to pass along calligraphically to you:
Taking this week’s photo, I also realized that not only do our sieve minds catch what is important, on a good day they reflect the light, too…
Has your sieve mind caught something interesting lately?