I think the first parody that ever occurred to me was the top one, a response to an album of Emily Dickinson poems that my mother purchased and played for us when we were in grades school. It was horrible . . . This woman with a sickly sweet voice, much like a female Mr. Rogers, recited Dickinson's poems. After listening to the record a few times, I turned to my sister and said, I think I want to throw up! Do you?
The second is a parody of Dickinson's "I'll tell you how the sun rose/ A ribbon at a time. The steeples swarm in amethyst, the news like squirrels ran./ The hills untied their bonnets . . ."
The parody came to mind when I was in high school- with my mother for one of her weekly visits to the beauty parlor. I remember thinking of the steeples of curlers in Aqua Net, the mouths ran and ran, their heads in bonnets . . .
Then there is this quote from Robert F. Kennedy in 1968--when he was seeking the Democtratic presidential nomination.
"Our Gross National Product now is over 800 billion dollars a year. But that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our national wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts . . . the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the GNP does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriage, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud to be Americans."
From Justice, What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel, p. 262
And I thought making money is/was the American ideal.
Times, I guess, they are a-changin'.
When my daughter was in first grade, my mother sent her a bug shirt for her birthday. It was a huge shirt with all kinds of insects on it, and it quickly became her favorite sleep shirt. She liked to pick her favorite bug-of-the night before going to sleep from "Grandma's bug shirt."
Another flower that reminds me of my mother . . . She loved to tell the myth of Narcissus and Echo. The story of Echo always gave me the creeps, of a woman with no voice of her own, with no other wish than to love a man who was only interested in himself . . .
My mother, 94, has been very sick. We thought she might not be with us much longer last week, but she has rallied. Still, she says she is not sure she wants to hang around much longer.
An avid nature lover, hiker, gardener, she has spent so much of her life trying to educate anyone who will listen about the birds, flowers, trees, rocks, and more. Two weeks ago, when she walked slowly on her canes around the garden, she pointed out every tree, bird, bush and flower and asked me if I knew their names.
This drawing is of the Jack-in-the-Pulpit. As a girl, I always loved it when she pointed to Jack, the stalk under the hood of his pulpit.
This Wikipedia article is one of several articles on the Internet that does a good job of describing blog trolls. It seems there are more trolls on poetry blogs lately, just as there are more poetry sites on the Internet that have viruses, including the site famouspoetsandpoems.com.
The general advice, when dealing with trolls, is simply to delete them quickly. Do not respond. And definitely do not click on their links.
My mother had a habit of comparing us girls to heifers, especially if it was a topic she didn't want to talk about. She liked to say she timed all of our births for spring, just as she did with the cows. Your father, she would add, was a good bull.
This reminds me of a Dear Professor entry inspired by a physics student who didn't like the labs or experiments.
You keep running around the classroom,
monitoring our experiments
and checking our work,
hoping we'll get it . . .
Like maybe we'll have some kind of
Do we look like Archimedes in the bathtub?
from Southern Comfort, "Bathing in Your Brother's Bathwater"
It wasn't just the bathwater this nun considered dangerous. It was also the towels men dried themselves on.
I was thinking about the role of religion in sex education because my daughter works for a Catholic aid organization, and she was telling me about the NGOs that are dedicated to global population and reproductive issues, NGOs like PSI, Population Services International, and DKT International, which were both started by Phil Harvey, a businessman who began a mail-order condom business and a sex toy industry. Profits from his business help fund his work with AIDS, reproductive heath, malaria, and more.
I am guest blogging on Best American Poetry's blog this week. This is one of the poems I featured there today. The poem reminds me of the film, Contagion, or what I have heard of it. I am not sure why anyone would want to watch a movie about the spread of deadly disease.
After posting the Juan Ramon post below, I had a few friends contact me and say they feared their manuscripts were the unloved ones . . . that they were Juan Ramon. I suppose we all fear that our manuscripts and books are unloved children, sent out into a cold and heartless world. Sigh.
When I think of ham, whether it's Green Eggs and Ham, or just any old ham, I think of how my mother paid for my eye surgeries with Christmas hams. And by letting the doctor use my eyes for his research. I was, she said, a good specimen.
As many of you know, Suzanne is in Kenya, working in development. I learn a lot from her, as you might imagine.
Although it is not the major focus of her work, I often ask her about the famine. One of the major issues that confronts relief organizations is how food aid does and does not work well. There is a great article about it which Suzanne pointed out to me . . . I will quote from it and then link it below.
"America’s biggest food aid program sits in the farm bill because the program was originally designed as a way to get rid of surplus agricultural products to keep prices high. But seeing food aid through the lens of domestic agricultural means there has never been serious consideration of how to make food aid more effective."
I hated history class when I was in grade school. The history books were so boring . . .
When I was in 3rd grade, our teacher left suddenly, and we were given a substitute. Poor lady. No one did any work for her. I would draw pictures of what she called "our American heroes" instead of doing reports. I think I informed her that this was an option allowed by our REAL teacher.
I remember drawing a picture of Paul Revere. I drew a little boy and wrote underneath: Paul Revere before his midnight ride. And then I added--he didn't even own a horse yet.
My father said my Paul Revere should at least wear a hat and long hair. I wasn't sure if he had a hat yet, or a ponytail, but just in case, I drew two pictures, one with the hat and a ponytail, one without.
Years later, when I think of Paul Revere, I think mostly about that weird hat.
Nin Andrews is the author of 5 full collections of poetry and 6 chapbooks. She is also the editor of a book of translations of the Belgian poet, Henri Michaux. Her literary comics are posted on Best American Poetry's Blog on Monday mornings.