For Basil

A Dog Has Died

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I’ll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he’d keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea’s movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean’s spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don’t now and never did lie to each other.

So now he’s gone and I buried him,
and that’s all there is to it.

~Pablo Neruda

Basil during Christmas 2008. 

Tuesday (Back to school) Musings

Classes don’t start until next Monday, but we have a week of in-service before then, so today I came on around 10 and started to prepare myself (physically and mentally) for the new semester. I want to revamp my syllabus for creative writing and comp, but that’s tomorrow’s project. Today, I attended a meeting for Phi Theta Kappa, which I am faculty adviser for and organized my office. I also sent an email to sign up as a volunteer at the humane society. It is something I have been meaning to do for years, and now I finally have the time.

I discovered something interesting this afternoon, while I was procrastinating and copying poems into my reading journal, I want to write. I know. I know. No kidding, right? I’m a poet. I write. But here’s the thing, when I finished my masters I spent a long period of time not writing. In fact, I actively avoided it. I was burnt out. Bad. This is not to be mistaken for writer’s block, which I’ve also dealt with. In comparison, this was more disturbing because it was as if my thesis had robbed me of the joy I feel in writing poetry. Luckily, I am not experiencing this feeling this time around. In fact, I want to work on a poem this evening. The idea has been marinating for awhile, but now I’m ready to dig in.

I woke up at five o’clock this morning to the sound of a dog barking. At first, I thought it was Kwe but then realized the barking was somewhat muted. My next thought was, Bam Bam, but the bark was too big for him. My third thought was, wow, this dog is still barking. This lovely canine continued to ruff until I got up at 8 am, at which point RJ had been rolling around and cussing for three hours while I had tossed and turned. I love dogs. I do not always love their owners.

I’ve gone back to reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I have another quote to share. This is in regards to eating your vegetables:

“Overcooking it turns nearly black. To any child who harbors suspicion of black foods. I would have to say, with the possible exception of licorice, I’m with you” (57).

This comes with perfect timing, because one of my resolutions this year is to read poetry by poets I’ve never heard of. These are the best according to Virginia Quarterly and I don’t know any of them:

1. Kevin Prufer, National Anthem
2.Chris McCabe, Zeppelins
3.C. D. Wright, Rising, Falling, Hovering
4.Dan Bellm, Practice
5. Aaron Baker, Mission Work
6.Claudia Emerson, Figure Studies
7. Todd Boss, Yellowrocket
8.Katie Ford, Colosseum
9.Fady Joudah, The Earth in the Attic
10. Chad Davidson, The Last Predicta

Saturday (Winter Farmers Market) Musings

The Ming Dynasty exhibit at the IMA was awesome. We were not allowed to take pictures but we bought a book especially created for the exhibit, which showcased all the items in the collection. They had the exhibit divided into three phases and it was interesting to see the change in color and subject matter as you moved between the different sections.

We went to the Winter Farmers Market this morning and bought some goodies. I was lucky enough to get the last Parmesan baguette. Delicious.

We are watching our neighbor’s dog, Bam Bam, this weekend. Here is a vid (courtesy of RJ’s phone) of Bam.

Monday Musings

I’m back!

This past week was a bit ridiculous with grading and my propensity to over schedule myself…but I think I have things well under control. I still have a mountain of papers to grade, but I feel a little less scattered.

My sister will be in town this week. She has a job interview at Butler, so we’re both hoping that goes well. It will be good to see her and hang out for a few days.

This weekend RJ and I volunteered at Camp Rover Romp for the Humane Society. It was a lot of fun. We ran the water relay and I think we were a hit. The weather was beautiful.
The baby pools were a big hit 🙂


Mary Karr pays tribute to David Foster Wallace in the Washington Post.

The National Book Festival takes place this Saturday.

More than 70 authors will be in attendance including Salman Rushdie, Bob Schieffer, Michelle Singletary, R.L. Stine, Paul Theroux, Neil Gaiman, Philippa Gregory, Kimberly Dozier and more.

Robert Olin Butler waxes poetic in the Washington Post:

Every morning when I sit down at my desk to write, I feel I am called upon to try to give voice to something true about the human condition. From the place where I dream, I have learned that I must see this not as an act of judgment but as an exploration of our shared humanity. ·


Your fall poem for this week:

After Apple Picking

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Robert Frost


This hits home for me. Big time. This is very true:

The benefits have proved appealing enough to draw thousands of writers into the university fold, and while a couple of generations ago it might have been a surprise to find a writer who taught at a college, now it’s a surprise to find one who doesn’t.

Saturday, Saturday!

An addition to my little post about SP earlier this week:

Here is a list of the books she tried to have banned from the Wasilla Public Library, according to the official minutes of the Library Board. When she was unsuccessful at having these books banned, she tried to have the Librarian fired. Please pass this list along.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It’s Okay if You Don’t Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women’s Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil’s Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume
To Kill 20 A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth

I’d like to know why conservatives continue to pick on To Kill a Mockingbird. It seems like it’s a right if passage or something. Also, does anyone notice a theme among these books? A lot of them are fantasy….I stress the word fantasy.
Thanks T for passing this list along.


Today is our orientation for Camp Rover Romp. Get excited!