Sunday, October 31, 2004

Worcester (MA) Art Museum Visit

The family visited the Worcester Art Museum on Saturday. For me, the two highlights (among the many there) were the Keeping Shadows exhibit and the Wall at WAM. Coincidently, Keeping Shadows was reviewed very well by Mark Feeney in today’s Boston Globe Sunday edition.

Keeping Shadows is an exhibit showcasing the history of photography. There is no question that these photos are art. The photographers (artists) were able to capture something wonderful in that instance, forever freezing the moment/the image. All of us would be challenged to capture that same image in words, never mind how many it would take to do so. I came away looking about with re-opened eyes. Driving away from the museum, only a block away, a homeless gentleman holding his worn sign expressing his need was by the side of the road. His image will be forever in my mind. He was a brother of some of the images we left on the walls behind us, except he is here, on the sidewalk, now.

The scond highlight was Jim Hodges: Don’t Be Afraid. This is the current exhibit in The Wall at WAM contemporary series. The mural is located on the second floor wall in the Renaissance Court overlooking the Court’s 6th century Roman mosaics saved from Antioch. This seemingly eclectic combination works in multiple ways.

We approached it from the second floor entrance to the Court balcony. It spans some 60+ feet of wall space. At once, awesome in its graffiti-like appearance, one begins to feel the strength from the multitude of languages all expressing the same thing; “Don’t be afraid”.

Jim created this mural with the help of 69 members of the United Nations. Each representative hand wrote “Don’t be afraid” in their native language and script on a sheet of paper he provided with the background invitation on how it was going to be used. He then combined these texts on one huge light blue background and mounted it to the wall.

There was a commonality to the languages as diverse as they were. Since they were all expressing the same phrase, the common items just jumped out at you. “Nao” “Nu” “Ne” resembled “No” which was itself repeated in multiple languages. One did not feel so different standing there. Fear is universal. The will to be strong is also universal!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

But I might, someday, influence how my readers perceive stereotypes–if I am consistent and persist.

Cruising along tonight, no baseball to distract me from the web, I stopped here, read with interest your post on the Delta fight attendant, followed that link to get the full story, came back to read your response to Halley’s post, the comments that followed, and moved on without commenting. How could I add to and move this discussion along appropriately? I went to and read "I got bitch slapped by some folks early on in my blogging career ..." I realized I did have something to say.

What we imagine powers what we think.
What we think becomes our words.
Other than using the photos you take for example Shelley, and art that others (like my daughter) can do (draw, perform, etc.), humans all fall back on the words we say to tell someone else how and what we are thinking. In this case, I hold that sometimes they can reveal more than originally intended.

While I remember, I do need to give some credit to Steve Rizzo for helping to form this thought. This is behind his major theme of being a humor being. “The choices you make determine the actions you take. The actions you take will lead you to your destiny.”

We need to be aware of the words we use. We can avoid sexist language. We can avoid offensive language. We need to be creative in expressing ourselves, being true to ourselves, yet respectful of the words and the lives they have lived before us and can live after us. I find that I need to I respond slower. When I am quick witted and jump right in to the opportunity, it does not work out the way it should. So I have become more comfortable being patient. Thinking it through. Framing my thoughts carefully.

I recall the story teller from the Dodge Poetry Festival, Joe Bruchac. He mentioned during one of his stories that the natives did not have a word for clock. The French missionaries had brought a clock with them to New England. The natives had not seen the like before. They used the sun to tell time, season, etc. Because the French were insistent on translating the Bible into the native language, they did finally make up a word for it. It was some time later that they did reveal to at least one of the French that the word really meant “something that it not worthwhile but does makes the Frenchmen do things” (or something close to this). The point of this digression: that the French understood the power of words, and just as importantly, the natives did as well and were able to see through the French.

I applaud your efforts, Shelley. It is helpful to know that someone else is also striving to be consistent in shedding light on stereo types. We do not need those type casts where there is far more in common amongst us than different.

Business Lessons from the Red Sox

Aside from all the hype about the curse of the Bambino and beating the Yankees, the success of the Red Sox team this year can provide a reminder to those of us in the business world, on what really needs to be done to be successful.

1 - You start with a vision. What does it look like in your future state? How are you operating? What are you doing? How do you get there? The Red Sox vision was nothing less than winning the World Series. Their mission adjusted along the way, series to series, home stand to road trip but was always in support of the vision. {Yes, Lou Gerstner in “Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change” did not make much of the “vision thing”. In his role, in that period for IBM, the vision was well understood. What was lacking was the focus and the execution. So I would not use Gerstner to say you never need a vision. If you don’t have one, you do. If you have one, you develop the mission statements to support it.}

2 - You then focus on the people. You need to have the right people for the right positions. How do you hire these people? My recommendation is to look to Barry Shamis for the complete hiring process to succeed. You start with defining the way each will perform and then find the people who fit that set of criteria. The proper bench will make navigating the journey easier. More info on Barry's method can be found at

3 - You develop the work environment. This includes the attitude, the tools, the rules, roles, and responsibilities both defined and well understood by all. Bottom line: respect for the individual. Create an atmosphere that shows consistently, that you are willing to do what is necessary to help the Team in the quest for the goal. Be fair. Be respectful. There are a number of folks that one can refer to for assistance in this area. I would go back to Abraham Maslow for the basics on the Hierarchy of Needs. (If anyone needs a refresher on this, you can check out To Kirk Weisler for creating that respectful culture. And I can’t forget Stephen Covey in this area. I had the pleasure to meet him a number of years ago.

4 - Then you celebrate each success on the journey. This celebration should reinforce all the goodness of the vision, the mission, the respect, the Team. Constant reinforcement, especially positive reinforcement will take you a long way. The ball park, and the dugout is an apt place for a series of high-fives after a good play. Make one like that for your work environment. The reinforcement should help to focus on the goal. Make sure that you provide recognition to those part time players who come off the bench into a clutch situation and do what they need to do, what they were brought in for, what they are skilled at. They are as important to the Team as the regular everyday player. All have important contributions. No one should be considered less than another. Mutual respect. On going success!

Monday, October 25, 2004

ChangeThis! - Manifesto Link

The website ChangeThis! has just published a new manifesto titled: The Talent Myth

This is excellent writing by Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point. This will get your brain cells cranking!

To view the manifesto, click the following link:

Have you been affected by or experienced this Talent Myth?

Tom Peter's 100 Ways to Succeed #20

Tom, I agree and add sincerity as a required attribute. If not sincere, the personalization will bring about a very quick turn off. Having had the opportunity to seen you in person, I can confirm that this works in your case because you are sincere, or are least your sincerity is convincing. I have witnessed others try to carry this off. They almost got carried off by the group that saw though this act. Sincerity is not an act!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Letter to Allison

I think I have mentioned before that our oldest, Allison, is off to college now and was taking part in a retreat this weekend. We had been contacted by the retreat group to prepare a letter that she would open during the retreat. Oh, and "SPRING" is part of the retreat process and meant to be among other things, a new beginning, literally, so I decided to play with it. After some thought, here is what we composed and Allison read:


Welcome to SPRING! Yes, it is October 2004 and it is really autumn, the leaves dropping when they have given all the color they can. But this is a new world, another time zone that you are living in, way up there on the edge of the city of Worcester, in the college called Assumption, the place where you are beginning where your father left off, literally.

With apologies to Helen of Troy, it is your name that launches a thousand memories. One needs only to mention it, and the stories come forth. Your mother recently at the rehearsal for Carolyn’s confirmation was asked how you are doing by Mrs. Picillo. She went on to say how good you were at helping people, what a natural teacher you would make. At the high school parents night to meet with your teachers last year, your mother returned somewhat overwhelmed by the stories all your teacher’s told. They had no time for the grades. They do not matter in the long run. That is correct, grades are momentary records, some more permanent than others but they are really more like the thermometer that takes your temperature; it is what it is for that moment. What you do with it is more important.

What are you going to do? Who knows? You are about to find out. That is your challenge. You have to recognize what you have already learned. Your survival kit is fairly well prepared. Remember the book in the Discovery Store? Your mother and I will take some credit (and great pride) in the preparations. Making a fire, camping, flying a kite, making snow angels; the book list was a hundred items long. We were able to check off a good deal of them. Yes, we still need to make ice cream from scratch. We did give it a good try and I think we succeeded because we had help. Our family and friends helped us along the way. The list is long but you recall that Mr. Bastian showed you how to fish and Grandpa made the firefly ring for you.

"We attend too many seminars. We take too many classes. We buy too many books. We play too many audios in our cars. It's all wasted if we're unclear on what learning really is: Learning is not attending, listening or reading. Nor is it merely gaining knowledge. Learning is really about translating knowing what to do into doing what we know. It is about changing. If we have not changed we have not learned. What have you learned today?" - John G. Miller, QBQ

So each day you wake up and make a new start; a renewal of sorts. You add something to what was Allison to make the new Allison. Maintain the family and friend connections you have. Grow new ones along the way. Continue to add to your bag of tricks. While an apple a day keeps the doctor away, learning something new each day, gives you something else to share, to help color the world you move in, to make your mark on those you meet. The world is changing, you need to grow and change with it.

We love the Allison we know. We love the Allison you are becoming!

Mom & Dad

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Collected thoughts for today

It has been busy and interesting the past few days. I have managed to find time for reading and responding to other blogs. Good stuff is happening on and in particular.

And of course as a New Englander, how can I not mention: How about those Red Sox!! Talk about facing adversity (down 3 games to 0, the 3rd game result more of a football score than that of baseball) and then the Sox finding the strength and will to respond. Respond by setting records to come from behind and win. More will be said on this, and maybe more eloquently than I, so I’ll leave it at that.

We are uniquely fortunate in New England to be having an upsurge in the professional sports this fall:
The Patriots continuing their wining streak.
The Red Sox going to the World Series.
The Revolution soccer team making it to the playoffs.
Only the Bruins sitting on the side lines, and not likely to play this season, due to the ongoing dispute between the players and the owners.

It helps make the season a delightful one. Outdoors, excellent foliage colors. Chill weather starting to creep in. Winter is just around the corner now.

Running today was good. Started while it was still light out and finished in the dark. Chose a local 3.5 or 4 mile loop. Haven't run it is a while so I forget where the mile marks are and how long it is. I'll need to clock it again with the car.

I have decided to change my schedule and instead of getting up at 4:00AM two days a week to run (yes, that early) to get back by 5:00; shower, eat, read the paper, and catch the train to Boston at 6:22AM, I will catch an early train home twice a week (if I can schedule it) and run when I get home. It will still be dark but I am not worried about that. I have reflective stuff so the vehicles should see me coming. The girls are older now, one already away at college, so there is less pressure to come home, be ready for the family dinner, and homework help after dinner. We did strive for a family dinner and managed to do so most of the week. I think it has been successful with both girls are doing well. I am proud of them. I give most of the credit to their mother; my wife, my partner of 22 years.

So while the changes are simple, I get to do more for me. It sounds so selfish like that and I am not comfortable with it sounding that way. I have devoted my time to the family when it was needed. I am now able to take advantage of some more time for myself. More writing (this blog), and more running being the two key things for me. Oh, yes; Dolores and I also get more time for us and that is also good. That will be the subject of another posting.

I have joined with a local running club. After running mostly alone for over twenty years it feels good to run with some folks that are also interested in running. We had a track workout on Tuesday. 8 x 400. It brought back memories of high school and college workouts. We did the 400's with only a 200 recovery between. I did that along with them except that after 4, I took a longer break, and then ran the 8th and last on my own. But it was a good feeling to have folks in front of and behind you, all working to their pace, preparing for their race. They helped keep me honest and dig deep to find something to finish the 7th and 8th 400 when I was fading.

This business week is drawing to a close already. I did manage to schedule to get home early twice to run in the evenings. For which I am also glad because even though I did not stay up until the end of the Red Sox games, I was up later than normal and needed to sleep in during the morning. Blogging has been good. I am mentally and physically ready for the next challenge.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Popularity is not synonymous with Respect

Shelley, I have to disagree with your comment "And in many ways, wanting respect, trying to earn respect, is just as harmful for one’s soul, as going for popularity and links."

If you are true to yourself; true to the basics of human nature, being respectful of yourself and of others, then trying to be so should not ever be harmful. Only when you deviate from this would it be harmful.

Stephen Covey (he of the 7 Habits of Successful People) talks of "true north" being guided by the compass, by the basics of goodness in human nature.

The Arbinger Institute in their book "Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box", states "When I betray myself, I begin to see the world in a way that justifies my self-betrayal."

There are many others who discuss this same topic. It is not easy to stay true. Life presents us with many challenges. But in those challenges, it is our choice to (1) use the challenge to reinforce our trueness, or (2) to slip into self-betrayal. It is not as easy as it sounds but it can be done. What helps is the reinforcing we can provide each other!

I am glad that you wrote: "I figured out today that what I wanted was respect."

Let me close with a quote from Ghandi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I keep coming across this and most recently found this in Tom Peter's slides he used for his Stockholm presentation on 10/18/04.

Charge on Shelley!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Lunch Management by Tom Peters

Well Tom... you do have a point... as usual! And there is another side to this, my two cents, of course... If you spend most of your time meeting and greeting and networking with others to advance your project, then you can use lunch to take a break and refresh for the next challenge, next opportunity. If you do not spend the main time as noted, then I fully agree with you. And to your point, if you can eak out some of those lunches to help sell your project, then while in the course of the year it may not add up to the estimated 240, it will add up! Period.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Thoughts on The House of Poetry

I like this poem. I read it for the first time sitting in the main tent at Duke Farms. It was inside the front cover of the program. I was sitting to review the schedule and plan what I was going to do over the next four days. Who was here? What time were they reading? Where were they reading? The map on the back of the program showed the festival layout. There were several tents set up around the grounds. Snake Root. Smartweeds. Mud Lake. (How apt that name turned out to be!) Mermaid Fountain. The Main Stage. Not a special name but a special place as it could seat three thousand people. It stretched down from the outlines of what had been the manor house for this property. The tent came down in steppes, almost a natural amphitheater, rectangular, not half-moon. Across what was the great lawn, now covered by the tent, and rows of chairs; new forest green plastic lawn chairs (comfortable for long sitting), older brown folding chairs (not comfortable).

As I got to walk around, I realized that this poem had indeed been written for this place. Paul had stood here. At the top of this bank. Before the tents were erected. Maybe imagining the tent. Certainly imagining the “House of Poetry”. You see, the house was never built here. It is just the ruin-like foundation of something grand. It was a good spot for a house. It overlooked the water on three sides. The long green, now muddy, lawn, now marked by straw-strewn pathways between the main stage and the paths through the woods to the other tents. Further along the lawn past the food tent, to the bookstore tent, and to Mud Lake. Yes, it was aptly named. They didn’t really count on the rain coming like it did. It made the place a mess Thursday, and then for the remainder of the festival. Creative students got bags from the book store to tie them over their shoes for protection. This looked okay. High school students have a unique look anyway. When I saw some old ladies doing the same thing, I regretted not having a camera. This was a sight to remember.

I like this poem. I like it more each time I read it. It grows on me. It is laying a foundation for something. Come back and see what it looks like!

The House of Poetry by Paul Muldoon

Lines in celebration of the first Dodge Poetry Festival held at Duke Farms
September 30 – October 3, 2004

That hole in the ground we took for a pit or pit-fall,
mine-shaft, the shaft of some long-stalled elevator,
the Anglo-Irish pile reduced to a dead wall
of doubt or redoubt, last bastion, bomb-crater

complete with barbed entanglements, long-raided tomb,
long-torched watchtower, torture-chamber, trip-wired man-trap,
or some long-abandoned communications room
with its still functional credibility gap

whereby what we once took for a hole in the ground ---
the very emblem of all that is unfulfilled ---
may yet offer you and me

a foundation for all that as yet unfound,
a blasted place on which we may yet build
and raise on what seemed razed the house of poetry.

Commissioned by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Running today, the thought train is trying to find the way, come along for the ride

Yes, Shelley, it is fall. The leaves are turning all shades of color. My shadow stretches long on the grass. Look here: this tree has this section turning brilliant, red, orange, etc. the rest of it and the surrounding trees are still vibrant green holding on, refusing to give in, for now. It is inevitable. The color will chase the green away. The leaves will fall. The naked trees will be left to make their valiant effort to hold up the sky and clouds.

I am running the Jordan Road loop, 4.5 miles round trip, good flat stretches on Chestnut and 140, and an up hill finish along King Street. Almost all my routes end uphill due to where the house is located, can’t avoid that. There is a really nice rolling section along Jordan Road itself. It inclines initially on the first turn off Chestnut Street, bends down then works up to where the two mile mark is located by the old well, and then the road gradually declines down to the end of Jordan at Route 140. Having reached the peak of the run at this point, if you need to dip down for something else, it could not be more conveniently placed to have the well right then. It does not look like it really works for water (although it did sometime ago), but the thought is what counts for the run.

I wish I new the names of more things in nature. I remember a nature walk with a naturalist along an abandon rail road bed in the Pocono’s. The girls were younger then and intensely interested in each and every thing along the trail. It took a long time to walk because there were questions and more questions. Fortunately, and this is why I recall it so well even today, the naturalist had most if not all the answers. She told us the name of this plant. She told us about the sassafras tree, the one with three different leaves. She told us about the mint family where the leaves grow opposing each other.

I won’t be racing at the Mayor’s Cup. Yes, I asked for your help to keep me honest. It came down to me though. I did not run as much as I needed to while away at the Dodge Festival. I have had trouble getting up consistently for the Tue/Thu AM runs. There is no one to blame but me. It is not blame actually, just reality. I thought I had a goal. The goal was just not providing the spark to get me going. I am making good progress on the road back to running regularly but won’t be able to compete for what I wanted to. It will be just as good to keep running and pick a new goal.

I got too much on the mind. Want to do more book reviews. Want to write more. Want to read more. Want to run more. Too many wants! Not enough time. Need to focus, need to prioritize. I probably should take my own advice. I posted to Tom Peter’s blog the other day that he should attempt to prioritize his many causes according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It sounds like a good idea. (If anyone needs a refresher on this, you can check out I’ll think about that and come back to post the results later.

I am running better than earlier this year. The log shows a gradual increase in mileage; this despite the variations in the number of days run per week. Not really a good comparison considering the layoffs due to the minor injuries. First, the twisted knee when cross country skiing with the girls. The down hill was too steep and too curvy. I tried going down to avoid a fall and heard/felt the twist as I went down. I shook it off and continued but the next day I could hardly walk. Three weeks later, I started tentatively, cautiously to run again. It felt good to run. I like the power of running. The satisfaction of covering territory, miles under foot. At my pace. The sweat during, and after. Six weeks later, after what I thought and felt was a good workout on the high school track, my heel complained. It was hard moving in the morning. It made walking something to think about instead of just doing. No longer, just the mad dash across the street to beat the light or traffic. No longer in control of my own destiny. Now, slower to move. Stretch carefully when getting up. Is this what it means to get old? Is this going to happen more frequently? The fear of it. The reality of age. I may not be growing up but I am growing older. Everyday.

Three months off this time. I did not want to rush it back. The “fear thing” nags. When I come back I want to keep going. I want to be well again. So it is already three months into the comeback. Still building up. Still taking it easy. Still fearful. Yet, realizing that time is not waiting. I need to take advantage of the day as it is presented to me. So as I run this morning, letting the thoughts go where they will, I committed to writing them down when I return. Hence, this somewhat random train of thought. Highways will take you anywhere you want to go. If you do not know where you want to go, you will end up anywhere. A short cut will only take you one place. What is the short cut I am looking for? Do you have a short cut?

Friday, October 15, 2004

Half Hearted

I'll agree with you on this one Seth. This is like discovering that the Western town the shoot-em-up cowboy movie was shot in is all store front. Like discovering that the "Great and Powerful OZ", is really an itinerant humbug. Lennox sets the brand image, a wholesome character (turns out to be a real actor), a friendly folk, the guy next door - except when you go next door, that is all there is, a door. Open it to the emptiness beyond.

You know, I do not believe that this will play well for long. "You may fool some of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but not all of the people all of the time." This is attributed to none other than "Honest" Abe Lincoln. (Although Google also has a link that credits the popularity of this to Bob Marley but I think that is stretching it).

So here is to consistency of the message! Of being true to the message! Of delivering, on time; exceeding expectations! Of walking the talk! And let the rest be exposed for the charlatans they are.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Poetry Sampler - Dodge Poetry Festival

This was held during the afternoon on Day 2; Friday, October 1. The sampler was over two hours of the "signature" poets reading 1, 2 or 3 of their poems. Each poet was introduced by Jim Haba, the Director of the Dodge Poetry Festival. He spoke briefly and extemporaneously providing some background on the poet and something on the essence of each poet’s gift to the world of poetry. Then you sat back and listened to the breath and depth of the stories, images, and spoken words. What I have recaptured here is the listing of the poets and the poems they read. I think I only missed a few where either they did not announce the title or if they did, I was distracted and did not capture it. For the most part, you could re-enact this event if you had the library at hand. Three of the poets that read did so in their native language and were assisted by another poet acting as a translator. For these three, I have listed them first, followed by their translator. For more information on each poet, you can visit the Dodge Poetry Festival web site.

Benjamin Bagby
The opening of Beowulf

Coleman Barks
Car trips
Return of Professor Dumbwhistle

Marilyn Chin
How I got that name
Blues on Yellow

Sandra Cisneros
Original Sin

Lucille Clifton
Here yet be dragons
Yetti poet returns to tell his story
Blessing the boats

Adonis/Khalid Mattawa
name of poem not recorded

Mark Doty
Letter to God

Stephen Dunn
Land of the Salamander

Marilyn Hacker
For Cataya B???

Donald Hall
The Ox Cart Man
Old Timers Day
Summer Kitchen

Edward Hirsch
Self Portrait
The History of My Stupidity, Vol. 3, Chap. 5

Jane Hirshfield
Manners, Rwanda

Venus Khoury-Ghata/Marilyn Hacker
name of poem not recorded

Galway Kinnell
Olivewood Fire
Black Bear

Yusef Komunyakaa
Venus of Willendorf
Ode to the Maggot

Phillip Levine

Paul Muldoon
The House of Poetry
At least they weren’t speaking French
Hedge school

Sharon Olds
Jockey Ode
The Worker

Aharon Shabtai/Peter Cole
To My Friend

C.K. Williams
The Hearth

Franz Wright
East Boston 1986

Topography by Sharon Olds

After we flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
intricately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly from the left my
moon rising slowly from the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

By Sharon Olds, from Strike Sparks Selected Poems, 1980 - 2002
Published by Alfred A Knopf

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Getting Backwards posted by Seth Godin

Seth, I'll disagree with you on this idea of reducing costs in delivering service.

I have to agree with Daniel Burgin's posting:

The real issue here, I think is the execution of the Sprint's service delivery. There needs to be a balance struck when delivering customer service. The balance is between providing access to those contacts where you can truly add value to the exchange and those where the exchange costs more for the provider. Now the trick is to make this balance work for you (the service provider) without really making it obvious to the one who thinks they need to contact you. This is where the good customer experience should drive the process. Proper information needs to be on the home page, appropriate FAQs need to be handy, etc. And carefully positioned along the way, options for the user to opt out of this less costly method of delivery and make the direct contact to you. All of this comes from understanding the customer and what they want from you.

I like the summary on the trade offs listed in Mark Hurst's interview with Andre Haddad of eBay. For more on this you can read the full interview at

Bottom line: If you do not know your costs for delivering service to your customers, and manage the delivery of service to your customers accordingly, then you may not be around long enough to create a sustaining enterprise.

Thanks for starting the discussion!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

"A Postmortem Guide" by Stephen Dunn

A Postmortem Guide

For my eulogist, in advance

Do not praise me for my exceptional serenity.
Can't you see I've turned away
from the large excitements,
and have accepted all the troubles?

Go down to the old cemetery; you'll see
there's nothing definitive to be said.
The dead once were all kinds---
boundary breakers and scalawags,
martyrs of the flesh, and so many
dumb bunnies of duty, unbearably nice.

I've been a little of each.

And, please, resist the temptation
of speaking about virtue.
The seldom-tempted are too fond
of that word, the small-
spirited, the unburdened.
Know that I've admired in others
only the fraught straining
to be good.

Adam's my man and Eve's not to blame.
He bit in; it made no sense to stop.

Still, for accuracy's sake you might say
I oftened stopped,
that I rarely went as far as I dreamed.

And since you know my hardships,
understand that they're mere bump and setback
against history's horror.
Remind those seated, perhaps weeping,
how obscene it is
for some of us to complain.

Tell them I had second chances.
I knew joy.
I was burned by books early
and kept sidling up to the flame.

Tell them that at the end I had no need
for God, who'd become just a story
I once loved, one of many
with concealments and late-night rescues,
high sentence and pomp. The truth is
I learned to live without hope
as well as I could, almost happily,
in the despoiled and radiant now.

You who are one of them, say that I loved
my companions most of all.
In all sincerity, say that they provided
a better way to be alone.

From Different Hours by Stephen Dunn published by W. W. Norton & Company 2000

"Chocolate" by Rita Dove


Velvet fruit, exquisite square
I hold up to sniff
between finger and thumb---

how you numb me
with your rich attentions!
If I don't eat you quickly,

you'll melt in my palm.
Pleasure seeker, if I let you
you'd liquefy everywhere.

Knotted smoke, dark punch
of earth and night and leaf,
for a taste of you

any woman would gladly
crumble to ruin.
Enough chatter: I am ready

to fall in love!

From American Smooth by Rita Dove published by W. W. Norton & Company 2004

"The Loaf" by Paul Muldoon

The Loaf

When I put my finger to the hole they've cut for a dimmer switch
in a wall of plaster stiffened with horsehair
it seems I've scratched a two-hundred-year-old itch

with a pink and a pink and a pinkie-pick.

When I put my ear to the hole I'm suddenly aware
of spades and shovels turning up the gain
all the way from Raritan to the Delaware

with a clink and a clink and a clinkie-click.

When I put my nose to the hole I smell the floodplain
of the canal after a hurricane
and the spots of green grass where thousands of Irish have lain

with a stink and a stink and a stinkie-stick.

When I put my eye to the hole I see one holding horse dung to the rain
in the hope, indeed, indeed,
of washing out a few whole ears of grain

with a wink and a wink and a winkie-wick.

And when I do at last succeed
in putting my mouth to the horsehair-fringed niche
I can taste the small loaf of bread he baked from that whole seed

with a link and a link and a linkie-lick.

from Moy Sand and Gravel by Paul Muldoon published by Farrar, Straus, Giroux 2002

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Hello my name is Scott

Here is a link that looks interesting. I have explored a little so far, enough to say it is worth a second trip back to go into more details.

Briefly: Scott has a simple approach; he wears his name tag all the time to enable a welcome front porch for interacting with people. A simple but powerful concept. Enjoy!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Dodge Poetry Festival - Day 4

Not a full day this time, unfortunately I needed to hit the road to
return home. I did start with another dose of Rumi in the morning. This
time Coleman Barks was accompanied by David Darling (on cello) and Steve
Gorn (who played a saxophone or one of a variety of bamboo flutes).

A "Conversation on the Poet as Citizen" with Edward Hirsch, Paul
Muldoon, and Cecilia Vicuna provided much food for thought.

Followed by another session of "Poets Amongst Us" featuring Nzadi
Keita, Marty McConnell, and Sander Zulauf. All offered good readings,
good insights, and good energy. Marty even brought her own "cheering
section" with her.

Then off to the road. The festival still had some time to run and some
of the signature poets were still scheduled for the main stage but I
needed to hit the road. It was a very good 3 plus days. I heard well
over 300 poems spoken for the most part by the authors own voice, in his
or her language (Spanish, Arabic, French, and English). I'll use my
notes to continue to recap the time here in more detail.

It will be another two years before this event comes around again. If
you have a chance to attend, I do highly recommend it.

Dodge Poetry Festival - Day 3

Early morning Rumi is a good place to start. About 300 people showed up
for Coleman Barks accompanied by the Paul Winter Consort for this 8:00
o'clock beginning to the day. What more can one ask for than the
wonderful combination of Rumi as spoken in Bark's Southern bass voice
and the talented musical accompaniment of the Paul Winter Consort? While
much of it was the work of Rumi, Coleman did read some of his own work;
his grand daughter poems in particular adding some humor to the morning.

The afternoon was a combination of a session of "Poets Amongst Us"
featuring readings by Catherine Doty, Wesley McNair, and James
Richardson; a story telling session featuring Joseph Bruchac, an Abenaki
storyteller working his magic on the audience (Ho! Hey!) and a
performance by the Harmonium Choral Society of Morristown, NJ. The
chorus a subset of about forty of the full 80 voice group sang some
modern and contemporary poems that were set to music. Kyle Boatwright,
the 2004 High School Student Composition Contest Winner, was in
attendance to hear the chorus perform her rendition of Robert Creeley's

The evening brought some special moments. Cecilia Vicuna performed
several of her poems in her "shaman like" manner. Then Edward Hirsch,
Joyce Carol Oats, and Phillip Levine each took their turn on the main
stage to read several of their poems. The closing was a poetic duet by
Sharon Olds and Galway Kinnell reading 18 poems either of their own or
from others on the theme of marriage. Along the way, they took turns
speaking Robert Frost's "Home Burial" and then closed by speaking one of
Shakespeare's sonnets together. Alas, my notes failed me here. I did not
record the first line so intent was I to listen, and then applaud in
admiration of what they had put together so nicely.

Dodge Poetry Festival - Day 2

Two major highlights for this day. In the afternoon, the poetry sampler:
the eighteen signature poets reading 2 or 3 poems apiece. About two
hours of a wonderful smorgasbord of words reflecting a variety of
thoughts, issues, emotions...

In the evening; Marilyn Chin, Donald Hall, Rita Dove and Franz Wright
took about a half hour each with a musical interlude provided by the
Paul Winter Consort to allow the mind to recover/digest/enjoy the spoken
words. As the darkness deepened, the chill began settling, Benjamin
Bagby appeared and, as an old storyteller would, told us the tale of
Beowulf in Anglo-Saxon. He used a small harp to provide some additional
modal qualities. The stage was craftily lighted to evoke the flickering
firelight from a hearth or fireplace. We had stepped back in to another

Friday, October 01, 2004

10th Dodge Poetry Festival

The long drive brought me here to one of the largest gatherings of poets
and poetry folk in these United States. The festival is held every two
years. This year is the first collaboration between the Dodge Foundation
and the Duke Foundation and it is being held at Duke Farms in
Hillsborough, NJ. There was a temporary sign on the road approaching the
farm that flashed: "poetry festival expect delays". This is a unique

I will elaborate further on the events of the festival but wanted to
share some quick highlights from Day 1.

Benjamin Bagby singing Beowulf in Olde English was quite a treat. He is
scheduled to do a longer section later in the festival.

Coleman Barks performing Emily Dickenson to the tune of "The Yellow Rose
of Texas", and then he went one better than that by doing one in the
manner of a shape note hymn.

Isn't this a poetry festival? What has singing to do with it? The spoken word has a sound. The combination of words/sounds can be crafted in one of the rhyming meters some of us dread. Yusef Komunyakaa demonstrated it can still be musical even if it isn't in a defined meter. He took a short step further and with the Susie Ibarra Trio backing him up performed several of his poems woven into the jazz sounds of the trio. Good stuff!