Friday, November 30, 2007


Today in the news there is an article about salt.
It says don't eat so much of it.
It says salt is bad for your heart.
You will die younger
and young of heart
if you eat loads of salt.
Ah, but what if you love salt?
Heart and soul? I mean, what if
you REALLY LOVE salt?
When I was a girl, I loved salt so much
I would pour it on my hand and lick it.
I'd lick the tops of crackers
or suck them just for the salt.
I liked the taste of sea water.
And sweat.
If I wouldn't eat something,
my dad would pour salt on it
and I'd suck it right down.
I'd even lick the salt blocks
in the cow pasture.
Those are for the heifers, Mom would say
whenever she caught me.
After a while she just said,
those are for the heifers and Nin.
(She never worried
when I shared things with her cows.
She liked us about the same.)
She figured we were farm kids,
immune to germs, unlike those delicate urbanites
in their antiseptic homes.
What do they do in there,
she'd ask sometimes when we drove
through the burbs, the TV lights flickering.
We didn't own a TV.
And Mom could never sit still anyhow
or stay inside.
She liked being in the garden or fields.
And she liked cows.
I never understood how anyone could like cows.
They're dumb and smelly.
They fart and shit and eat all day long.
But Mom used to say
we have a lot in common with cows.
We, too, like to eat and eat and eat.
All day long we like to eat.
And we like salt.
She admitted she liked salt too.
Once I even got her to lick a salt block
herself. Admittedly it was a new block,
not one that had been in the fields yet,
not yet softened and smoothed by cow tongues.
She said it wasn't so bad.
She even agreed when I said salt licks
are some of the best-tasting salt ever.
I suggested we could serve something like it
as an appetizer. Little cubes of cow salt
for guests. I thought about it for years.
How you could hold the cubes in your mouth
and suck them down like sugar.
That way I, for one, would be sure I died
when I was still young at heart.
Who wants to die with an old heart?
Not having enjoyed the salt of life?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Never been to a mall

My daughter, Suzanne, took Marecela, the girl in this photo, to register for college on Monday at the Universidad Tecnologica in San Salvador. Marecela is one of the recipients of a university scholarship (from a scholarship program set up by S and another Peace Corps volunteer). Amazing experience, I imagine. After registering, they went to a mall where they were to meet their ride. M. had never been to a store before, much less a mall. She sat on a bench and just stared . . .

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blowing in the wind

pic. by my son, Jimmy

Oh my God, I forgot my helmet and now look at my hair!

Congrats to Jimmy for publication of his story, "Chick Magnet," and for having his computer game, "Mr Heart Loves You Very Much," selected by Montreal's Game Competition. (I'm not sure what the event in Montreal is called).

Reading November 29

Yep, it's my last scheduled reading for 2007.
At Kent State . . .
at the Kent Stark Campus
at 7:30
in the Library Conference Room
(which is right in front of you
when you enter from the Frank Road entrance).

Robert Miltner,
(one of the nicest humans on earth
and a really great poet)
invited me to read
with Kirk Nesset,
who just won the Drue Heinz Award.

The address:
Kent State University Stark
6000 Frank Ave NW
Canton, OH 44720


These are from Suzanne's classes. I've yet to unload my photos . . . But the school is tiny, and it takes in about 360 kids a day in 2 shifts. The first shift is 8:00 to 12:00. The second is 1:00 to 5:00. The same teachers teach both shifts. Everyone packs into the little cement rooms. It's hot! Maybe high 80s. And really humid. I was soaked with sweat, but everyone else seemed chill. The first time I went there (last March), I had this idea I'd wash up before meeting the teachers. I forgot . . . no running water, no real bathrooms . . . Suzanne, teaching environmental education, finds ways to stay outdoors.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Travel Fatigue

I am so glad I don't have another trip for a while. When I have to travel a lot, I feel as if I never really land. I am always thinking of my next take-off date.

I am reminded of the story about the man who was afraid of flying . . . One day he finally had to board a plane. Afterwards, when asked how it went, he answered that it was just fine. Why? Because he never put his feet down.

My pathetic Spanish has finally gotten to the point where I can understand a bit but am way too slow to answer as effectively as I'd like. I can hear people talking about me. Like the man ahead of me in line saying to his pal that all gringos look alike. Like the woman, looking at my daughter and me, commenting that American women are really skinny but sure can eat a lot. And another man asking his friend why my husband would let me travel alone. American men let their wives do all kinds of things . . .

I actually spoke more Spanish in Miami. The Miami Book Fair is a mad house. But Denise Duhamel and Nick Carbo are the nicest, greatest poets and people ever.

I found two new authors to love madly: Abigail Thomas and Marlena Morling.

About El Salvador: there were some icky things . . . the armed guards with their big guns, the heat, the poverty, and the smell of burning plastic. (How else, folks ask, are we to take care of the garbage problem? The smell is nauseating.) Also, I never knew a cockroach could grow as big as my hand . . .

Good things . . . the beaches of El Salvador are beautiful. The village where Suzanne works is really pretty . . . up in the hills, and everyone is so friendly and welcoming. (Okay, so they all come to their doors and stare.) And I loved the kids in our poetry class. The kids were so happy to have their own packet of poems to take home, to have a chance to write their own poems . . .

When Suzanne and I went running, the kids from every house raced out into the streets and ran with us. Packs of kids . . . ending back at her house for water and giggles.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Back from El Salvador at last! A few poems below from the school kids. They were beautiful. No two ways about it. One assignment (which we never got to because we ran out of time) was to write the exact details of today. I told them that when they were as old as I was, they would not remember today. They giggled. Clearly they could not imagine it, being old like me. I remember as a girl, thinking I would never ever turn into a woman, esp. an old woman.


Centro Escolar San José Carrizal

Primer Taller de Poesía, Martes 13 de Noviembres

El sol y la luna y los girasoles

Kendy de Lourdes Cerón, 10 años

Todas las noches

los girasoles despiertan…

Para aprender lo que

La luna en lo alto de las nubes enseñaba

Pero la luna solo les enseñaba la vocal “o”.

Los girasoles ya estaban

Aburridos de la vocal

Un día aunque no había luna

Apareció el sol que les dijo

Yo les enseñare y les enseño

Todas las vocales.

Un girasol le pregunto

¿De que palabra viene la

Letra “e”? y respondió la letra

Viene de la palabra tierra.

The sun and the moon and the sunflowers

Every night

The sunflowers awoke…

In order to learn what the moon

In the height of the clouds would teach them

But the moon only taught them the vowel “o”

The sunflowers grew bored

Of the letter.

One day although there was no moon

The sun appeared and told them

I will teach you and then taught them

All of the vowels.

One of the sunflowers asked:

What word does the letter “e” come from?

And the sun answered: The letter “e”

Comes from the word earth.

Una mañana tan hermosa

Un sol iluminaba muchas arboles,

Muchas flores hermosas

Y un aire tan fresco

En una noche tan linda

La luna iluminaba la tierra

Los niños desde sus cassas miraban

Las nubes y las estrellas

One beautiful morning

A sun illuminated many trees

Many beautiful flowers

And a cool breeze

In one beautiful night

The moon illuminated the earth

The children from their houses watched

The clouds and the stars

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Miami and El Salvador

I leave for Miami tomorrow . . . a weekend at the book fair before flying to El Salvador for a week. I have my Spanish poems in hand and my lesson plan to teach a class with Suzanne, but all the Spanish I know has suddenly abandoned me . . .

Sunday, November 4, 2007

What do you do?

Sometimes, when asked, I tell people I'm a poet. Usually I try to think up another definition for myself. Dreamer, cow whisperer, harpoonist, griddler, lemming. If I say I write, I dread these two familiar responses . . . Why do you do that? Meaning you can't get rich that way, now can you? The other: I write too. Would you like to see my poems?

Maybe it's a little unfair, but I love it when Jim, a physicist, has a similar problem. My two favorite responses to his profession . . . Wow, so you can explain string theory? And: I have this idea for a perpetual motion machine. I'm sure it will work. My only problem is that I never studied physics so maybe we could talk and . . .

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Runners

I leave for Miami for the book festival this coming Thursday. Then I'm off to El Salvador to visit Suzanne. We'll teach a poetry class in her school, and maybe I'll take run with her team of young runners. Here they are pictured with their new shoes.