Spinster’s Rock

Spinster’s Rock, Drewsteignton, England

                           Spinster’s Rock, Drewsteignton, England


Rain of Statues

From the Mithridatic Wars,  first century BC

Our general was elsewhere, but we drowned.
While he rested, he shipped us home
with the bulk of  his spoils
that had weighed his army down.
The thrashing storm
that caught us cracked the hulls
and made us offerings to the sea floor —
a rain of statues, gold, and men.
Released from service,
done with war,
the crash and hiss muted,
we fell through streams of creatures
whose lives were their purpose.
We settled with treasure looted
from temples of rubbled Athenian Greece;
among us, bronze and marble gods and goddesses
moored without grace,
dodged by incurious fish.
Their power was never meant to buoy us —
our pleasures were incidental gifts —
but, shaken by their radiance in our dust,
we had given them our voices.
Their faces, wings, and limbs
lie here with our sanded bones
and motionless devices.
Little crabs attempt to don rings
set with agate and amethyst,
and many an octopus,
seeking an hour of rest,
finds shelter in our brain-cases.
So we are still of use.
The Battle of Actium, by Lorenzo A. Castro, painted 1672

The Battle of Actium, by Lorenzo A. Castro, painted 1672

Karesansui garden

“Moss is selected to be the emblem of maternal love, because, like that love, it glads the heart when the winter of adversity overtakes us, and when summer friends have deserted us.”
― Henrietta Dumont

Ripple by Box of Badgers on Flickr

Karesansui garden is said to have been laid out by KOBORI Enshu (1579-1647).


Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela


“Let us pause and give thanks for the fact 
that Nelson Mandela lived—a man who took history in his hands 
and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.” ~President Obama

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity,
it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid,
poverty is not natural. It is man-made
and it can be overcome and eradicated
by the actions of human beings.
Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great.
YOU can be that great generation.
Let your greatness blossom. ~― Nelson Mandela
Gently borrowed Isa Peraldi’s photo with Thanks

Tata Madiba has inspired so many people reaching across generations and will continue to do so.

Walking to Elijah

She loomed before me like a prophecy,
wearing a black robe that swept the sand
and a dangling crucifix. I stared until

her eyes beamed under a birdlike crest.
She had observed me through the chapel window,
carrying poppies, a worn map, and a note

with ink-blurred numbers, home of my hosts
for Sabbath dinner, 17 Elijah.
The sun went down, squeezed like a fat stewed peach

too bulky for its jar. It would soon be dark.
Her coarse sleeve grazed my arm as she held torn paper.
“I don’t know the address, but we’ll walk together.

It’s good gymnastics.” Gliding in black folds
(I thought she’d fly), she waved the scrap
at a man sipping tea. “There’s no such place,”

he barked. “Yes, there must be, she’s lost her way,”
my black angel insisted, and he joined us.
Lost. Yesterday a bomb had exploded here,

responding to arrests. Shops closed. And now
the Sabbath, day of rest, its supplications
for peace unheeded. Soon our group was growing

into a procession. Asked for Elijah Street,
passersby shrugged and fell in. One lean man
offered advice in Serbian; at the next corner,

a woman stood sobbing, until, curious,
she crept along. People followed me—
or was I following them? Where were we headed?

We passed a mosque, a church in ruins, a cloister.
Hats were skullcaps, knitted cartwheels, scarves,
a fez, over faces with family features.

Inside a basement window, men at prayer
gazed upward: a black condor? No, the nun.
She hovered, then made for another house

and rang a doorbell, the diners sitting down
to Sabbath wine. Still, no one knew Elijah.
It was late before I reached my friends,

and I don’t remember anything else that evening
except a black gown, hats, opinions crackling
in a fire of languages that halted prayer.

– Grace Schulman

Without a Claim

Grace Schulman, who has been called “a vital and permanent poet” (Harold Bloom), makes new the life she finds in other cultures and in the distant past. In Without a Claim, she masterfully encompasses music, faith, art, and history. The title poem alludes to the Montauk sachem who sold land without any concept of rights to property, and meditates on our own notion of ownership: “No more than geese in flight, shadowing the lawn, / cries piercing wind, do we possess these fields, / given the title, never the dominion.” She traces the illusion of rights, from land to objects, from our loves to our very selves. Alternatively, she finds permanence in art, whether in galleries or on cave walls, and in music, whether in the concert hall, on the streets of New York, or in the waves at sea.

Without a Claim is a modern Book of Psalms. Indeed, the glory in these radiant sacred songs melds an art of high music with a nuanced love of the world unlike any we’ve heard before. No matter your mood upon entering this world you’ll soon be grateful, and enchanted. In any such house of praise, God herself must be grateful.”
—Philip Schultz