Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Old work, new vision

Lately I've been uploading old work—mostly poems from the 1980s and 1990s. It's a bit of a surprise to revisit one's old writing all at once like that. I started at the beginning. Only work that made the electronic cut was uploaded. It's been a tedious process fraught with technical difficulty (read: incompatible formats) and more than a few poems weren't all there. As in physically not all there (no that's not a value judgement.)

And of course, I don't have hard copy for any of my old work, my big clippie-board mss binder has gone on walkabout. So I can't fill in the missing words and lines, nor date some of my old work. I'm sure there are myriad formatting typos. Long dashes (em lines) reverted to accented ós, and line breaks disappeared. I've been burning the midnight oil—nay, more like 2AM, removing those pesky ascii artifacts. But some are insidious.

See my very first entry of 1979 to read all about it. But rereading and reformatting all those poems is labor intensive. (I'm up to 1993). There are gaps becaue I didn't date my earlier work—incestuous nepotism? It dated me and now it's haunting me. Everything's relative.

Yeah, there was a lot of love gone wrong stuff. Rites of passage. Painful stuff. Painfully funny stuff: comparing women to pears with PTSD, imagining myself as an asparagus stalk, eating white oil paint because it reminded me of ice cream. OK, so I was four, it was my first metaphor.

Weird to review ones life for the past 35 years via poetry—shuffling the poems into the right creation date has created an interesting timeline.

Don't know how much more I'll upload during this round. My eyeballs hurt. I've moved all the orphan poems to relative dates within a 2-4 year period. Usually to Jan 1,19xx, so I can find them later. I still have a rat's nest of early poems filled in 1994—that was the latest file date saved. Need to track them down too.

Too much circular reading. Sorry for the typos, Working on them.

When This Blog Really Began—Aug 2008
Old Posts, New Posts
The Paper and the Sonoma County Stump

Poem titles are in CAPITAL LETTERS, and you can search the blog, using the word 'poem" in the search box at the top or clicking on the word "poem" on
the hotlist below the dates. Other poetic categories too: haiku, ekphrastic poetry, collage, etc. Some poems also sorted by region: from the Andes to the USSR, and Zenia.

    found poem 


A surprise bonus:
recycling dishwater
forks in the planters.

Dumping dishwater
in thirsty planter boxes
a fork serenade.

Tossing the dishwater
a cacophony of forks
dig into the ground.

I'm giving up on
5/7/5 haiku lines
to count water drops.

When I tossed the dishwater into the garden
the plants drank in a cacophony of forks
A good tine was had by all.

The dishwater sang
tine-y bubbles whined about
a fork in the road

But the owl flew off
with a runcible spoon think-
ing it was a mouse.

When in drought save gray
water, the whales are dreaming
of rain on this plain.

Anonymous comments button turned off

So very tired of the spate of Anonymous commenters posting spammybits to my Irish Redheads post (my most popular blog post with 38,352 strikes—OK, so 5000 of those are probably Vampirestats). Like cuckoos laying their eggs in other birds' nest, these nefarious commenters sneakily embed URLs in their posts–which I can't disable. So the Anonymous comments button is turned off for now. Wish I could just turn it off for that blog post, But it's all or nothing. To leave a comment, you must now register, or have Open ID. So sorry. I hate captchas. Some of my best commentators have been Anonymous posters. (Sigh).

Friday, July 11, 2014


Once, long ago, on an unreasonably hot day
like today, while waiting for the Anacortes ferry,
I jumped off the dock to cool off in Puget Sound.
Baby flounders scattered like rusted fall leaves.
One tiny fish swam into my palm—and settled in.
His eyes hadn't yet migrated all the way to one side,
so he watched me as carefully as I watched him.
When his jewel-spots changed to blend with my hand,
his eyes retained the dreams of sea and sky.


I suppose I could call it a blue-eyed flounder...
this poem prompted me to dig out some old fishy poems and upload them.




Sunday, July 6, 2014


Deer browsing brush pile
red plum leaves taste good to her.
They taste good to her.

Young deer at old well
wallows in the dust. Her spots
slipped off midsummer.

An abandoned well
Young deer wallows in the dust
Look! her spots slipped off.

First summer berries
rattlesnakes lying in wait
I step carefully

My tongue sings sweet praise
to ripe berries. Snake rattles,
wants something sweet too.

Bluebird's maiden flight
grounded. Wait 'til your feathers
grow all the way in.

Birdlet, not the time
to fledge, the snake's dreaming of
feathering his nest.

Asleep on the couch,
3 AM—raccoons cleaning
the BBQ grill.

Raccoons arguing
all night cleaning the camp grill.
No point sleeping now.

Raccoons quarreling
over the grill. Either way
we'll have to clean it.

Greedy squirrel knocks
cup off of fence—crash! Guilty.
He's beating his chest.

I rushed home to catch 
a play only to have him 
cancel at curtain call.

Little girls screaming
in unison and in pitch
with the power drill.

Raiding the freezer.
Old cake with freezerburn, hey!
chocolate is chocolate.

Baby halibut
swims into my hands, looks up
with his sea-blue eyes.

Young halibut changed
his spots to hide—but not the
color of his eyes.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How Writers Write Poetry

Maybe someone else will have better luck accessing these craft talks. YouTube never works for me. You will need to sign up for this free online workshop led by Iowa Writers' Workshop.

How Writers Write Poetry MOOC (Facebook link)

Talks on Craft and Commitment
The Course
How Writers Write Poetry, a six-week course beginning on June 28, 2014, is an interactive study of the practice of writing poetry.

How Writers Write Poetry Syllabus

Before the first class begins on Saturday, June 28, please watch our Preliminary Video Session: "Getting Started with Marvin Bell"
To meet your moderators, learn when they will be online, and find out how and when they will be leading workshops of your poetry, please see our Moderator and Workshop Schedule
Please also note our Rules of Workshop Conduct
Saturday, June 28
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
**All videos will remain available for the duration of the course, so once a video has been posted, you may watch (and re-watch) at any time.
Class Topic: Sketching Techniques
Video Session #1: Robert Hass
Assignment: Exercise #1
Monday, June 30
Due: Exercise #1​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Tuesday, July 1
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Collecting and Repurposing Lines
Video Session #2: Kate Greenstreet and Lucy Ives
Assigned: Exercise #2
Wednesday, July 2
Exercise #1 Workshops open
Thursday, July 3
Due: Exercise #2​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Friday, July 4
Exercise #1 Workshops close
Saturday, July 5
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Building a Poem
Video Session #3: Daniel Khalastchi
Assigned: Exercise #3
Exercise #2 Workshops open
Monday, July 7
Due: Exercise #3​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Exercise #2 Workshops close
Tuesday, July 8
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Mindful Writing
Video Session #4: Sridala Swami and Alexandria Peary
Assigned: Exercise #4
Wednesday, July 9
Exercise #3 Workshops open
Thursday, July 10
Due: Exercise #4​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Friday, July 11
Exercise #3 Workshops close
Saturday, July 12
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Prosody (Meter)
Video Session #5: Richard Kenney and William Trowbridge
Assigned: Exercise #5
Exercise #4 Workshops open
Monday, July 14
Due: Exercise #5​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Exercise #4 Workshops close
Tuesday, July 15
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Containing Multitudes
Video Session #6: Dora Malech and Tarfia Faizullah
Assigned: Exercise #6
Wednesday, July 16
Exercise #5 Workshops open
Thursday, July 17
Due: Exercise #6​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Friday, July 18
Exercise #5 Workshops close
Saturday, July 19
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Other People's Words
Video Session #7: Nick Twemlow and Kiki Petrosino
Assigned: Exercise #7
Exercise #6 Workshops open
Monday, July 21
Due: Exercise #7​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Exercise #6 Workshops close
Tuesday, July 22
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Poetry As Pleasure
Video Session #8: James Galvin and Kwame Dawes
Assigned: Exercise #8
Wednesday, July 23
Exercise #7 Workshops open
Thursday, July 24
Due: Exercise #8​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Friday, July 25
Exercise #7 Workshops close
Saturday, July 26
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Constraint Based Poetry
Video Session #9: Shane McCrae and Teemu Manninen
Assigned: Exercise #9
Exercise #8 Workshops open
Monday, July 28
Due: Exercise #9​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Exercise #8 Workshops close
Tuesday, July 29
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Sonic Association
Video Session #10: Carol Light and Larissa Szporluk
Assigned: Exercise #10
Wednesday, July 30
Exercise #9 Workshops open
Thursday, July 31
Due: Exercise #10​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Friday, August 1
Exercise #9 Workshops close
Saturday, August 2
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Looking Outward
Video Session #11: Michael Dennis Browne and Caryl Pagel
Assigned: Exercise #11
Exercise #10 Workshops open
Monday, August 4
Due: Exercise #11​ by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Exercise #10 Workshops close
Tuesday, August 5
Video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)
Class Topic: Free Verse | Prose Poem
Video Session #12: Marvin Bell and Mary Hickman
Assigned: Exercise #12
Wednesday, August 6
Exercise #11 Workshops open
Welcome to Class Session 1: Sketching Techniques
Saturday, August 9
Exercise #11 Workshops close
Course Closes
Final video class will be posted at 7:00 AM CDT (GMT - 5:00)

Saturday, June 28, 2014
Robert Hass discusses one-, two-, three-, and four- line sketching techniques.
Former Poet Laureate Robert Hass is the author of seven books of poetry, numerous critical articles, and many translated works. Hass is the recipient of numerous awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize, for his 2007 poetry collectionTime and Materials.
How to Begin:
1) Watch the class video. Captions are available: press play and then press the cc button at the bottom right of the video for captions.
2) To read the writing assignment that was presented in the video, look below the video.
3) Join the discussion. To talk about the craft issues and writing processes presented in the video with Mary Hickman and our Moderators, click on the link below titled “Class Session 1 Discussion - Sketching Techniques.”
4) Submit a writing exercise. To post your writing exercise for discussion with your fellow poet-participants, click on the link below titled “Exercise 1 Submissions - Sketching Techniques” and add your poem as a new forum topic. **If you would like your exercise to be considered for workshopping, you must post it by 11:59 PM CDT (GMT – 5:00) on Monday, June 30.
5) Join the workshops. Workshops for this writing assignment will begin on Wednesday, July 2 and will end on Friday, July 4.

Using Robert Hass's sketching techniques, write a one-, two-, three-, or four- line poem. Submit it to our course forum via the link below the video marked "Exercise 1 Submissions - Sketching Techniques." You may submit as many poems as you like!

Monday, June 16, 2014


It never snows in Marin
except for when it snows. 
Then it snows all afternoon. 
I rode a green colt in the lower field.
It was June and it began to snow
all afternoon, in summer, it snowed.
The horse, a silly dapple grey 
with less brains than brawn, 
mistook his equipage for shadows
tried to kick the snow flurries away. 
Blackbirds wove tight circles
and sang in the branches of the oaks,
The pale dry grass listened 
to its own conclusion as the snow
turned to unseasonable blooms in summer.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Arbutus, Madroño, or a Strawberry Tree by any other name

Clusters of berries, leaves and flowers of the arbutus unedo.

A stand of Irish strawberry trees (or Killarney strawberry trees) are fruiting in front of my physical therapist's office in Berkeley. I climbed up on the hood of my car to reach the fruit, but didn't realize I couldn't get back down without loosing my "strawberries." I squashed them all over the place—they were like little golden suns with fiery coronas—when I nearly fell off the car. Would've been difficult to explain that injury to my PT. But I was gluttonous as a bear.

My grandmother often talked about eating the wild arbutus "strawberries" as a child, comparing their flavor to the haws of hawthorne trees. They don't taste anything like strawberries—they just look like them on the outside. In the inside, they're like little orange suns flecked with tiny seeds. The Irish do know the difference between strawberries and arbutus tree fruit. Wild strawberries also grow in ireland. It's a simile, sweetie.

Ripe arbutus berries are pebbly & red outside, golden & mushy inside.

My grannie, who hailed from Bantry, said that the Gulfstream, that warm Atlantic current that bathes the coasts of western Ireland, created an ideal micro-climate where tropical plants flourish—including palm trees. However, the arbutus, or strawberry tree, is also native to western Ireland but, curiously, not to England.

The Irish arbutus was introduced to England from Ireland during the 16th c., and one estate plant catalogue mentions "one very fayre tree, called the Irish arbutis standing in the midle parte of the sayd kitchin garden, very lovely to look upon." 

The broad glossy evergreen leaves are about three inches long, an inch wide with a toothed, or serrated edge. And the clusters of fragrant flowers are showy white or pink tinted bells—like most plants in the heath, or Ericaceae family, as arbutus is related to heather and bilberries.

Arbutus berries; the hard yellow ones are unripe. 

The story goes, that when the Spanish explorers landed in California, they recognized our native madrone (naming it madroño) as being related to their madroño or Arbutus unedo which is common throughout the greater Mediterranean basin from: Albania to Croatia, Lebanon to Sardinia, Portugal to Tunisia—even the Canary Islands...and in Ireland.

There's an anomaly of isolated arbutus groves in western Ireland—especially in Bantry and the Dingle Peninsula on the Kerry coast. Sligo has the most northerly stand of Arbutus unedo in the world, a remnant from the pre-Ice Age Atlantic period. (Or possibly brought to Ireland by the Iberian Bell-Beaker Folk, ca. 2500 BC—renown for their bell-shaped clay drinking vessels, stone wrist-guards, and gold lunulae. Their motto might have been: Don't drink that arbutus beer, and shoot arrows at the crescent moon. Or were lunulae really splash guards?)
The [arbutus] species is one of a select group of plants, fifteen in all, native to Ireland but not to Britain. Taken together, these special Irish natives have come to be known as the Lusitanian or Hiberno-Cantabrian flora, owing to the fact that their nearest relatives are to be found on the Iberian Peninsula. How this flora arrived to the blank canvass that was post-Ice Age Ireland is not well understood, but it is possible that they spread overland along the changing coast of the British Isles as they emerged from under glacier and sea. —The Strawberry Tree, UP Cronin

Dr. Cronin (M.Sc. in Plant Science, University College Cork and a Ph.D. in Microbiology, University of Limerick), writes that the eighth century Irish legal tract, Bretha Comaithchesa (laws of the 'hood) ranks caithne (arbutus) as a fodla fedo — or third division tree, used for manufacturing charcoal or making small pieces of decorative red inlay.

It's an Irish toponym: Ard na Caithne (Ardnaconnia), or Strawberry Tree Heights (a headland—also known as Smerwick, or Butter Bay) is located in the heart of the Kerry Gaeltacht, near Corca Dhuibhne—the tip of the Dingle Peninsula. Ard na Caithne (with its arbutus groves, laden with little golden apples of the sun) is a significant site: it's the home of Dún an Óir ('Fort of Gold'), an Iron Age fort; the site of sixth-eighth c. monastic settlements, the Gallarus Oratory (the oldest beehive hut in Ireland—I saw it from the road but my cousin wouldn't stop the car) and An Riasc; and for the horrific Siege of Smerwick (1580), where the surrendered Irish freedom fighters were slaughtered by the British Lord Grey. The sacred ground was stained by more than just arbutus berries that day.

Ard na Caithne was home to 17th c. Irish poet and harpist, Piaras Feiritéar, who surrendered to the English after the Confederate Ireland wars, was granted safe passage, but was hanged in 1653. The ruins of his castle still stand among the arbutus trees at Ard na Caithne and his poetry lives on in the oral tradition. 

Ard na Caithne was also home to Séamus Ó Muircheartaigh (1877–1927) who wrote under the pseudonym, An Spáilpín Fánach
(The Wandering Labourer—also the name of his song). Séamus Moriarty emigrated to San Francisco (via Butte, MT) and knew my grandparents through the Gaelic League. His son, Cuchulain was a civil rights activist with César Chavez—the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Father Cuchulain Moriarty Award is named after him. But I digress....

There are four Old World species, and six New World species of arbutus. Our hybrid ornamental street tree, Arbutus x Marina is named after the Marina in San Francisco where it was hybridized. Old World arbutus is related to our native madrone and its cousin, manzanita (Arctostaphylos). Our Pacific Madrone, or Madrona, is Arbutus menziesii. We often ate the tiny astringent berries that taste like sour crabapples. After all, manzanita means little apple in Spanish.

The Irish "strawberry" is called caithne in Irish, arbousier in French, madroños, alborocera, alborio, borto, or albedro in Spanish, corbezzolo, or albatro in Italian, koumaria in Greek, and bearberry, or Cain apple in English. I guess Cain used them to slay Abel. Or maybe he fed him unripe fruit loaded with tannins.

The fruit has a vague anise odor but tastes more like tangy rose hips—which it's related to. Edible prickly red armor on the outside and a creamy-mealy amber flesh, it's a superfruit (like acai) loaded with vitamin C and pectin. The fruits are high in sugar and contain bioflavonoids, malic acid as well as tannin (more here). But the yellow unripe fruit can cause nausea (so it is said).

Warty arbutus berries ripen on the tree tend to burst if you pick them.
When eaten in quantities this fruit is said to be narcotic, and the wine made from it in Spain has the same property. —A Modern Herbal
Berries will ferment right on the tree (berries have been measured up to 24.6° Brix, or 5 to 14% alcohol—and no liquor license needed); the birds get inebriated as they gobble up the beer-berries. A few peasants figured out that if the birds could get so blasted on arbutus berries, that they couldn't fly a straight line, then so could they.

My friend Chris Devine said, "There used to be a pub in Killarney called 'The Strawberry Tree'. Never understood why. 'Til now." The Strawberry Tree Pub, 23 Plunkett Street, Killarney.

The Greeks make a liqueur called koumaro, which is often added to tsipouro (a type of ouzo), the Portuguese say they are very brave trees and make arguardente de medroñho or medroñheira from the berriesand the Italians make many liqueurs: in Corsica they make a Liqueur a l'Arbouse, in Sardinia they make fior, and Acquavita di Corbezzolo

Sun-dried arbutus berries are like dried apricots, full of flavor.

You can also make marmalades, jams, jellies, pies, dried fruit, vinegars, pomaces, sorbets, and a grilled meat sauce (like cranberry, or quince sauce), from arbutus berries. You can plop those overripe berries into a bottle of red wine to make a killer sangria, or use the fruit as a red dye, and the bark to tan leather. I wonder if the prized red Cordova leather was dyed with madroño berries? Research for another time.

Because the fruit and flowers appear on the tree at the same time, the Romans thought the arbutus held magical powers: flowers were also placed on graves as a sign of respect. In The Tenth Labor of Heracles, the blood shed by the giant Geyorn was said to produce a tree with both flowers and fruit at the same time when the Pleiades were high in the sky—the arbutus.
Horace praises the tree for its shade and Ovid for its loads of 'blushing fruit.' Virgil recommends the young shoots as winter food for goats and for basket-work. Gerard speaks of it in his time as growing in 'some few gardens,' and says, 'the fruit being ripe is of a gallant red colour, in taste somewhat harsh, and in a manner without any relish, of which thrushes and blackbirds do feed in winter. —A Modern Herbal 
The Coast Salish used all parts of the sacred Pacific madrone for medicine. The Coast Miwok, made a tangy brew from madrone and  manzanita berries. According to the Coast Salish an anthropomorphic form of madrone tree sap went fishing at dawn but came home late one morning and melted in the sun; the other jealous trees stole all his sap. I don't know if this occurred before, or after they discovered that the berries could be fermented.

Hieronymus Bosch's painting (housed in Madrid since 1939), "The Garden of Earthly Delights," was originally called "La Pintura del Madroño", or "The Painting of the Arbutus." Why a strawberry tree? I bet something got lost in translation... The Tuscans use "strawberry" as an exclamation referring to ahem, the male anatomy.

The fruit above her head, identified as cherries, is a convenient explanation for popping the cherry, but if you look at the fruit, they're not cherries, but warty arbutus berries. Cherries elsewhere in the painting are painted smooth-skinned, with a reflective sheen. —Mo H. Image from Wiki

Strawberry trees. Clearly there is other symbolism going on. Either Bosch didn't know what they really were, or he had other ideas for including them. —Wiki

In Latin, Arbutus means "struggle." But because the bear is so closely associated with the arbutus tree in myth and lore, I suspect that Artio (Dea Artio) a Gallo-Celtic bear goddess was also involved. Near Berne, a bronze sculpture of the goddess Artio is seated beside a small tree, holding fruit in her lap, feeding the bear—with the inscription: Deae Artioni / Licinia Sabinilla. 

(Artos means bear in Celtic. (Delamarre 2003 p. 55-56), from Proto-Celtic *arto-, from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ŕ̥tḱos, bear.) —Wiki

An Italian website on plants also hypothesizes that Arbutus may be a Celtic word:
The name "Arbutus unedo" probably derives from the Celtic. In fact, "ar" in Celtic means "bitter, astringent" and "unedo" is the name that was used in ancient times which probably derives from the three Latin words "unu-off edo" "I eat only one" to mean that one should not exaggerate and give in to temptation because of the pleasantness of its fruit which when eaten in excessive quantities gave nausea and constipation. —MEDICINAL PLANTS, Elicriso
A gluttonous bear eating arbutus berries from the strawberry tree figures prominently in the coat of arms of Madrid, Spain. In Puerta del Sol, the city center of Madrid, there is a statue of a bear gobbling berries from a madroño tree.

Pliny the Elder enigmatically explained that 'unedo' means unum edo or "I eat one", and so I did. And another. Whether he meant you could eat only one because it was so awful, or eat one and not be be able to stop because it was so good (and you'd get a hangover, or a bad case of the farts), we'll never know. But I can safely say no struggle (or bears) was involved. They're tasty.


ArbutusArbutus unedoArbutus menziesii, Wiki (3 pages).

Ard na Caithne Wiki

Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia. Vol. 1- John T. Koch, Bretha Comaithchesa (The judgements of neighbourhood), deals with trespass by domestic animals, fencing obligations, etc.

Words and Proper Names, from Celtica 11  The Old Irish tree-list, Kelly, Fergus: (1976), pp. 107–124.
Identifies 28 trees and shrubs listed in the eighth-century legal tract Bretha comaithchesa, divided into four groups of seven: 
1. airig fedo ‘nobles of the wood’: daur ‘oak’, coll ‘hazel’, cuilenn ‘holly’,ibar ‘yew’, uinnius ‘ash’, ochtach ‘Scots pine?', aball ‘wild apple-tree’; 
2. aithig fedo ‘commoners of the wood’: fern ‘alder’, sail ‘willow’, scé ‘whitehorn, hawthorn’, cáerthann ‘rowan, mountain ash’, beithe ‘birch’,lem ‘elm’, idath ‘wild cherry?'; 
3. fodla fedo ‘lower divisions of the wood’: draigen ‘blackthorn’, trom ‘elder, bore-tree’, féorus ‘spindle-tree’, findcholl ‘whitebeam?', caithne ‘arbutus, strawberry tree’, crithach ‘aspen’,crann fir ‘juniper?'; 
4. losa fedo ‘bushes of the wood’: raith ‘bracken’, rait ‘bog-myrtle’, aiten ‘gorse, furze’, dris ‘bramble, blackberry’, fróech ‘heather’, gilcach ‘broom?', spín ‘wild rose?'. 

The Strawberry TreeU.P. Cronin Madrid and Ireland

 A Modern Herbal: Arbutus (Strawberry Tree) publ. 1931, Mrs. M. Grieve, England.

of strawberry trees -liqueur recipe.

Strawberry Tree Curse -recipes

My Love’s An Arbutus

My love’s an arbutus
By the borders of Lene,
So slender and shapely
In her girdle of green.
And I measure the pleasure
Of her eye’s sapphire sheen
By the blue skies that sparkle
Through the soft branching screen.

But though ruddy the berry
And snowy the flower
That brighten together
The arbutus bower,
Perfuming and blooming
Through sunshine and shower,
Give me her bright lips
And her laugh’s pearly dower.

Alas, fruit and blossom
Shall lie dead on the lea,
And Time’s jealous fingers
Dim your young charms, Machree.
But unranging, unchanging,
You’ll still cling to me,
Like the evergreen leaf
To the arbutus tree.

Alfred Perceval Graves, (1846 - 1931)
(author of The Irish Fairy Book, and ACeltic Psaltery —both are free ebooks)
Published in Songs of Old Ireland, Charles Villiers Stanford, 1882

Modern Arbutus poems here. Trailing Arbutus (aka Mayflower, or ground laurel) is not an arbutus. Sorry. But if you were looking for The Trailing Arbutus, by John Greenleaf Whittier, this is the link.

Friday, June 13, 2014


                               —for Katelin Stuart

It seems I've gotten a jumpstart on Friday the 13th.
Backing out of the old narrow garage, 
built in the days of carriages and Model Ts,
requires a subtle skill set in order to park
without tearing the side mirrors off the car.
Something I've managed to do for 13 years.
But a freak wind gust slammed a carriage door 
into my left side rear view mirror,
breaking it clean off off at the door frame. 
No hope of properly fixing the plastic housing
so I jimmied it with duct tape and kite string.

Then, while driving back into the garage, 
apparently I didn't get the first lesson of the day.
Another stealthy gust, & the other carriage door 
thunderously smacked the passenger mirror off. 
So, I can't see what's behind me—literally.
Now I'm afraid of what will happen if I look up
through the inside rear view mirror. 
Perhaps the roof will fall on me.
A friend reminds me that at least
I still have a rear view mirror.
For a while, the car thieves had it.
I should consider myself lucky.
At least neither mirror broke.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tianenmen Square

That day, I drew/painted trees, pages and pages of trees lined up in military precision like tanks. Big canvasses, and I wept as I drew. I was teaching kids art with Marsha Connell at the California Museum of Art in Santa Rosa, Duane Jones, the curator, handed me large posterboards. And I drew and drew, like a young child. A friend of mine, Bei Dao escaped—only because Marti Mooij from Poetry International had arranged a ticked at the airport for a reading. The fax machine (pre-email days) was the savior of the day. Bei Dao made his way to the airport. The rest is history.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Our Chromie's Wing and a Prayer to win the Belmont Stakes

Our California Chrome, our Cinderfella who rose up from the ashes of humble origin, has new shoes, and he just might win the last waltz of horseracing—the Triple CrownIf so, he'll be the first winner in 36 years. And the only California horse to win. Ever. The odds against California Chrome winning Triple Crown's "test of champions" are a staggering million-to-1 longshot. But we're good with California Dreamin' and longshots.

Only 11 horses have ever won the Triple Crown, including War Admiral, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and the last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed. 

Only thing is, most of the horses Chromie's up against at the Belmont Stakes were not all in the Derby or Belmont, so they're be much fresher. 

Does Chrome (aka Junior) carry Secretariat's large heart gene—the "x" factor? If so, his heart will carry him to the finish line. But then, Chromie has good bloodlines on both sides of the family, including Secretariat and Seattle Slew. 

When Secretariat, aka Big Red, broke the Triple Crown time records there were only 5 other horses racing against him. Not a packed field like the Belmont Park race will be.  

The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs was a full 10-horse field, and California Chrome won with ease. He could have won by 10 lengths but his jockey held him back to save his energy for the Preakness and the Belmont. No riding crop was needed or applied, other than its being raised in a victory salute.

The Preakness at the Pimlico Race Course was also a packed 10-horse field, but only three of those horses also ran in the Derby. The Preakness was sandy and long: 1.5 miles, but Chromie had Seattle Slew in his genetic pocket. His lineage includes long distance horses and a sprinter (Lucky Pulpit, his dad, was a sprinter—which is why everyone thought Chrome would lose the Preakness). Chrome won with ease.

Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes by a whopping thirty-one lengths, in record time of 2:24, becoming a U.S. Triple Crown champion. His record still stands as the fastest speed for the Belmont Stakes.

So far, there are 12 horses entered in the Belmont Stakes, aka "Run for the Carnations." The 1.5 mile track is the world’s largest dirt track—making it the most gruelling of the Triple Crown races.

California-bred Belmont winners are so rare, it's only happened twice: Comanche in 1893 and Africander in 1903. It's a course that favors native horses; 15 New York horses have won in the past 25 years.
Fewer than 1 percent of all horses who have raced in North America since 1973 – the year Secretariat swept the Triple Crown – won three or more stakes in their entire careers.  —Historically, odds are against California Chrome winning Triple Crown

Read more here:
Horses can be entered up to 72 hours before the race. California Chrome’s main contenders include: Wicked Strong (Derby), Tonalist (new), Commanding Curve (Derby), and Ride on Curlin (Preakness). 

Chrome doesn't like dirt in his face, so he'll want to be out front, and there are a lot more rail curves at the Belmont track (51%), so it'll be tricky to conserve his stamina. Many horses burn out too early.

"According to a chart on, 51 percent (4,040 feet) of the Belmont Stakes is run on the turns, compared with 39 percent (2,554.5 feet) for the Derby and 42 percent (2,654) for the Preakness." Chromie seems to favor the long inside turn.

Let's hope for no rain on June 7. A muddy track changes the odds as Chrome's never run on a wet track. 

Did you know that the American horse races are run widdershins, or in the counter-clockwise direction? English racing is run in the clockwise tradition. 

It all comes to a head on June 7. Nasalgate aside, I haven't been this excited about a horse race since Secretariat's record-breaking triple win back in 1973!

California Chrome, a Cinderfella Horse

Preakness 2014 Horse Race VIDEO - California Chrome

Kentucky Derby 2014 Horse Race VIDEO

California Chrome wants Triple Crown

Historically, odds are against California Chrome winning Triple Crown

Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing The 11 Triple Crown winners are Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral(1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), and Affirmed (1978).

Belmont Stakes

Triple Crown

Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral - 1938 Match Race (Pimlico Special) In the famous match race against War Admiral, Seabiscuit wore the same saddle Pharlap wore in his last victory race. "The burst of speed the Biscuit shows the last 200 yards is phenomenal. Woolf (riding Biscuit) was instructed to allow War Admiral to come alongside Biscuit in the middle of the race. Biscuit got bored with races because he was so fast and sometimes would let a race slip away toward the end. By allowing Biscuit to see WA, it inspired him. WA made a strong move to pass, you can see the acceleration he had as he caught up with him, and for a brief moment, because he was moving so fast, WA actually did have a short lead. But Seabiscuit would have none of it, he kicked it into another gear. WA realized he could not win. That was the race right there, it had been settled before they hit the stretch. It was a war between 2 of the greatest horses racing has ever seen." War Admiral never stood a chance.