Poetry Tuesday: Joan McGavin

There is a gingko tree in self’s backyard. Scrawny, it has remained the same height for almost ten years. Nevertheless, it is still alive.


by Joan McGavin, from her first collection, Flannelgraphs (Oversteps, 2011)

I pass two beautiful trees almost every day.
Casting around, in your absence, for a way to say
how I feel about us,
I think about them: I discover a fact:
their kind, fossils tell us, has remained unchanged
one hundred and eighty million years.

In the absence of tablets, stone or wax writing,
In this time of separation, of smallness of gestures,
casting around for a way,
shedding my inhibitions like leaves,
speaking for myself alone,
let’s say: i feel for you what,
loving all its autumns,
the gingko feels for life.

Joan McGavin, the Hampshire Poet 2014, has written two poetry collections, and is a trustee of the Winchester Poetry Festival.

“We Men of Science” by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

We Men of Science, from the collection Someone Who Will Love You In all Your Damaged Glory:

She said: Yoni, it’s Carl . . . he’s dead.

and I said: Oh my God, is he okay?

and she said: Yeah, well, he’s dead, so . . .


We went to the funeral and the shiva call. I said some very nice and accurate things.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“I’m All for Spare Writing, But — “

The above was the response of an English agency to self’s horror story, The Rorqual.

It’s taken her years, but the writing of this has been an absolute joy. And, no matter how many changes self makes to the main narrative, this first paragraph is a given:

  • The report came from somewhere on the Bering Sea. The pair had left the Black Hills the previous morning. The woman, it appeared, was headed for Baranof, the man for Kuiu. Both were on foot.

BARANOF? KUIU? WTH, self has never been to that part of the world.  Nevertheless, that first paragraph came to her whole, some years ago. Not one word has self ever cut. It’s not so much information as rhythm self sought to establish here. And this first paragraph, the rhythm it sets forth, is what has enabled self to proceed.

So many magazines refuse to even take a look: “We don’t do genre.”

Most people who have read her manuscript use the word “ambitious.” One even called it massively ambitious.

But if you don’t go for broke with your writing, why even bother? Sure, she fails about as often as she manages to connect, but the failing is part of her process. Writing is the one activity where self operates without the benefit of a safety net, which is why, in her humble opinion, the activity is so “pure.”

As for genre, self swims in genre. She adores genre.

Stay tuned.

Short Story of the Day: “We Men of Science” by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Story # 6 in Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory (which, Holy Cow, self is loving SO. MUCH):

Science will survive with or without our attempts to understand it; science doesn’t care.

Like a callous ex-lover, science won’t miss you, and sure, maybe that’s a little scary, but isn’t it also a little exciting?

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Summer

YAY! It’s been too long since self has joined Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

Self certainly has a lot of photos of SUMMER! Which used to be her favorite time of year (Lately, she’s more and more appreciative of FALL)

Her favorite pictures of Summers past are parades. Here are a bunch from the annual Redwood City Fourth of July Parade, the oldest and largest Fourth of July Parade on the peninsula.

The pictures are all of one band in particular, the Leland Stanford, Jr. University Marching Band (fondly known as LSJUMB)




Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Still Poetry Thursday: Talvikki Ansel

Eating, from the collection My Shining Archipelago (1996 Yale Series of Younger Poets)

They fed us soft-boiled eggs, six
in a basket covered in a dishcloth. Our mother
with one swift crunch could slice off the tops.
Ralston, grits, cornmeal mush; steel-cut
oats, cooked for a night on the back
of the stove; split-pea soup, heaving
and gumming in the iron pot; cole slaw:

cabbage shredded, peppered and tossed
in mayonnaise; and someone in the kitchen
gnawing on the cabbage stub (for years
I thought it was “costs low”); cod and potatoes,
the fishy-smelling box with the sliding lid
that we all wanted, and the cod soaking
in a bowl, a chunk of dirty snow; the pot
of minestrone our father dropped

coming into the dining room, spectacular,
noodles everywhere, the dog ecstatic, and us
staring down at our placemats not
daring to laugh. And kale, kale
that stayed green and bitter until November,
leaves frosty when we snapped them from
the woody stems. Our mother splitting pods
of cardamom on Sundays and baking
pulla; rowing with our father to an

island where we waded in the chill salt,
pried mussels and periwinkles
from dark rocks, and steamed them in weeds
on a smoking driftwood fire, but that
was long ago, when we crouched
on the beach, sharpening rose twigs
and digging out the meat.

Poetry Thursday: Fabian Severo

from Sixty, by Fabian Severo

translated from the Portuñol by Laura Cesarco Eglin and Jesse Lee Kercheval

published in the The New Yorker, 2 December 2019

We are from the border
like the sun that is born there
behind the eucalyptus
shines all day
above the river
and goes to sleep there
beyond the Rodrigueses’ house.

From the border like the moon
that makes the night nearly day
resting its moonlight
on the banks of the Cuareim.

Like the wind
that makes the flags dance
like the rain
carries away their shacks
together with ours.

All of us are from the border
like those birds
flying from there to here
singing in a language
everyone understands.

We came from the border
we go to the border
like our grandparents and our children
eating bread that the Devil kneaded
suffering in this end of the world.



Sentence of the Day: Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Two people on the New York Subway. Self was beginning to think this was a rom-com, until:

For sixty years, we sat in that car, just barely pretending not to notice each other.

Missed Connection — m4w, Story # 4 in Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory


#amwriting a Longer Short Story

It opens:

  • David Fowler and his wife, Edith, were from Iowa. They were both blonde, blue-eyed, stocky – real, true-blooded, plains Americans. Gusts of a wholesome Midwest freshness came with them on the steamer across the Pacific.

Love Blurbs From Grandmothers

Before dashing out to get crispy carnitas from El Taco Grullense on Middlefield Road, self would like to leave dear blog readers with a last image from Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s book:


Still on Story # 1 because it’s hilarious!

“Let’s just look at the silver eggs,” I say, a sentence that immediately vaults to the top of the Dumbest Things I’ve Ever Said chart, barely edging out “Can I get it extra spicy?” and “I liked the way your hair looked before.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


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