Sunday, December 25, 2005

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Crossposted at Disabled Americans for Democracy, Disabled Voters for Dean and Howard Empowered People

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, that quintessentially American holiday, let us reflect on the blessings peculiar to us as Deaniacs.

We have, not only our own families and friends, but a nationwide, indeed an international, community of friends, comrades, and co-workers, all of whom share the same values, American values: honesty, kindness, love of country, hard work… We share, too, a vision of a just America, an honorable society that cares for its own, especially the most vulnerable and most disadvantaged; that is a good international citizen; and that has earned once more the respect and love of the world. We see a land where young and old, LGBT and straight, black and white, Jew and gentile, disabled and able-bodied, Latino, Asian, Native American and Arab-American all embrace one another as sisters and brothers and all have the same equal rights in fact as in principle under the law.

We see America as she should be, and we know that we have the power to bring that vision into reality. Tomorrow, as we give thanks for all the blessings, large and small, with which the Lord has graced our lives, let us keep a special warm thought for Howard Dean and thank him in our hearts for having given us hope, strength and community.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Happy Birthday, Gov. Dean!

It's the birthday of our founder, hero, and general inspiration, Howard Dean. We wish him many happy returns, and a peaceful day today.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mini News Roundup

Novelist John Fowles, died Saturday at the age of 79 after a long illness. Read a brief article from Reuters.


In other news, Grokster is out of business. Read a brief article at Wired News.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Group Story

mprov13 said...
so, how's this for an idea:

let's start telling a story. anyone can add whatever they want. bend the plot, create characters, anything. ok. i'll start:

as the door opened, i could just barely see that there was movement in the adjacent room. the voices, almost hushed in a whisper, could just be heard. the woman swept by me, distracting me for only a moment, as i tried to hear what was being said.

"...don't get rid of that guy. there's no point...but, if you do, i'll..."

"mr. santos, he'll be ready for you in a second."

i sat up a little straighter and smiled at her in that manufactured way that was expected. she disappered into the room closing the door behind her.

i refocused on my surroundings: that awful rented office waiting room furniture with the obligatory copies of prints by artists that could have come out of a cracker jacks box. the avacado colored lamps with the 60 watt bulbs that couldn't quite light the room. the industrial carpet that isn't really any color at all. and, that smell that always seems to permediate these places, a whisp of blended somethings that probably came in a take-out box. and me.

Puddle: Chapter 2
Strange, I thought: what kind of doctor wouldn't have a better place than this? I squirmed a little. Still, try as hard as I could, couldn't wipe out that snippet I'd overheard: don't get rid of that guy. . . . Who'd proposed getting rid of anyone? And why? After all, this was a gynecologists' office. I didn't think I'd let Cricket come back here. It wasn't passing the sniff test. At all. And it wasn't me.

I was beginning to mull that over, when they called me to come get Cricket. No, definitely not again. Even if I had to chip in some bucks to make sure she found someone better than this.

"You okay Sugar?"

"Guess so. I think. Don't know if I want to do this again, anytime soon, though."

"Don't worry. You won't have to."

"But --"

"But me no buts, youngster. Papa Jack's got something else in mind. You'll get whatever help you need. So worry not."

She did look worried though. Her face kind of knotted up. And I didn't think it was the anesthesia. God, this place was really giving me the creeps. I was pretty sure I was going to have to hit the 'nets. And damn, I wish I'd done it before I'd let her come here. Well, better late than never. . . . I hoped.

Continued. . . . Nov. 4, 10:15 pm
Jessica said...

Chapter 3 (Segway to catreona's comment from the last thread.)


I helped Cricket into the car and drove her home. It was a silent ride that seemed to take hours when it was actually only minutes.

I told her I would call her later, thinking that would be a better time to ask about the strange conversation I had overheard at the doctors office, and continued on to my appointment.

I walked into the waiting room and de deja vu hit me. Rented waiting room furniture, cracker jack prints, dim lights, and cheap carpet. "Just a typical waiting room" I said to myself, attempting to brush off the feeling that something strange was about to happen.

Then the door opened and I heard "Don't get rid of that guy. There's no point...but, if you do, I'll..."

The hair on the back of my neck stood up. Could I have heard that right or was I just starting to imagine things?


Chapter 4 (from catreona)

All in all, this was a most unexpected place for me to have been summoned, especially to meet...

The voices increased in volume. It sounded like the stranger - I didn't recognize her voice - was displeased at being questioned. I bristled. Who was this unknown person to raise her voice to Gov. Dean? After all, he was heading this venture. He may, perhaps, not have been perfect, but he was the force that had drawn us all together. His vision and enthusiasm had been enough to bring in doubters, to corral donors, and to form a volunteer corps. I was one of those volunteers. It made me angry and a little queasy to overhear this argument.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

National Novel Writing Month

Well, it's only the 2nd ~~ not too late to get in on NaNoWriMo! The hell you say?

I stumbled onto this site a couple of years ago, and it's great fun, even if you decide not to do it. November's never great for me: it contains Thanksgiving. . . .

Check it out!

Friday, October 28, 2005

I'm Getting Scooter' For Fitzmas

Made my bet on Cheney's head;
Hoped somebody'd snitched on him.
Wanted a frogmarch to be Rovian-led;
Hoped somebody'd snitched on him.
I'd spilled some ink on that Novak turd;
I'd hoped that Judy ate her word;
Had some hope from things I heard;
Hoped Somebody'd snitched on them.

I'm gettin' Scooter for Fitzmas
Cheney and Bushy are sad.
I'm gettin' Scooter for Fitzmas
'Cause he ain't been nuttin' but bad.

I was hoping for Mary's charge;
Hoped somebody'd snitched on her.
Waited on Fitz for Karen's charge
Hoped Somebody'd snitched on her.
Next year more will be going to jail;
Next year justice won't be for sale;
Lots of spinning, but there's a tattletale;
Somebody snitched on them.

So you better be good whatever you do
'Cause if you're bad, I'm warning you,
You'll get Scooter for Fitzmas.

Sung to the tune of:
I'm Getting Nuttin' For Christmas

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

November 5, International Day of Poetry and Consciousness Raising

Make note of this upcoming date, and read Sam Hamil's editorial in the current issue of the Poets against War newsletter. As Sam points out, Bush's immorality and corruption reach far beyond the shores of America and Iraq.

Sam deals with poets and more broadly with writers. As we know, artists of all kinds need to answer the call to envision and help realize a peaceful, human-friendly, environmentally sound future. Does anybody know of organizations similar to PAW for other disciplines, or other cross-discipline organizations? We should, even now in our infancy as a group, consider how we can network and cooperate with others. The first step in that direction is to know what others are out there. PAW is what *I* know about. what do *you* know about?

Sunday, October 23, 2005


"Damn!" I slammed back from the computer, body taut with pent up frustration. "I can't write!" I sat rigid for a moment or two, staring at the monitor. Then, I sank my head into my hands.

"What's the pur-roblem?" my cat, Snowball, inquired languorously.

She sounded so relaxed! I dug my fingers through my hair and groaned. "The problem is that there's nothing I can write about." Snowball made a low, rumbly sort of inquiring sound. I sat up and swiveled to look at her where she lay on the windowsill, ears perked, large, round green eyes trained on me attentively. I sighed. "You're supposed to write what you know, right?"


"Well, everything I know - my real or everyday life, my dream life, my fantasy life," I choked on a sob and returned my head to my hands. "Even and especially my pain and despair and emptiness life - "

Snowball growled. I ignored her and my ungrammatical construction. "Everything I know is Kit." Snowball sneezed.

She had never liked Kit, and had made no bones that she was satisfied that he and I had broken up. But, I was devastated by the breakup. I hadn't eaten, hadn't showered, hadn't gotten dressed for days. The only thing that kept me going was needing to take care of Snowball. Then, I had woken up this morning, well, actually, it had been almost 12:30, and looked listlessly at the clock which showed not only the time, but also the date and room temperature, and realized that the deadline for the Writers' Division contest was only four days away. I had to enter something!

After washing and filling Snowball's food and water dishes and cleaning her litter box, I sat down listlessly at the computer. But, everything I started seemed too personal, too intense, too Kit.

Now I tried to explain this to Snowball. She rumbled thoughtfully. "Don't humans write about their most intimate experiences in autobiographies, and memoirs, and those novels with the Fur-rench name?"

"Roman à clef? Yes. And, most first novels are largely autobiographical too."

She sat up and began washing her paws. "So," she inquired again with a delicate redirection of emphasis, "what's the pur-roblem?"

"I find that sort of stuff distasteful enough to read, let alone write."

"Writing about one's life and everyday ex-purr-ience, you mean?"


She began washing her face. I loved it when Snowball washed her face, and the top of her head. She was absorbed in this important business for several minutes. When she finished, she blinked. "Is everything in your life distasteful?"

It was my turn to blink. "Well, no, I suppose not. But…"

"Is everything in your life too intensely purr-sonal to talk about?" she pursued, stretching her front paws.

"Well, no; but…" I stared at her. She stared back, sublimely unconcerned. She yawned.

"Is there anything, or purr-haps anybody in your life that is noteworthy?" she asked with a fine show of indifference.

I had begun to grin. Of course! It was so simple. "I'll write about you," I said, leaning forward to rub her head. "I'll be sure to win First Prize in Fiction."

I laughed, the first time in days, in weeks, I'd laughed as she reared up, the image of a lion rampant. "What do you mean the Fiction prize?" she demanded in a low growl.

I smoothed the ruffled fur on her back. "Well, after all," I said. "No one would accept a story about a talking cat as nonfiction."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Letter: Breyten Breytenbach

Breyten Breytenbach was declared a "terrorist" and imprisoned in South Africa for his anti-apartheid activities. His "letter" was written at the beginning of the war but has not been previously widely published in the U.S. —Ed.


Dakar, 8 March 2003
Joe, please receive these random thoughts at countdown time. It is the eighth of March. In a few days, it now seems certain and ineluctable, thousands of people will die stupidly and violently. Nothing new. The human species is dumb though sly and violent though tender. read more at Poets against the War

Thursday, October 20, 2005

As the person who forwarded this to me said: WOW!!

This came this morning in an email from Ireland (small world!), and I knew at once where it belonged, so here it is.

No Place for a Poet at a Banquet of Shame

[from the October 10, 2005 issue of The Nation. The poet Sharon Olds has
declined to attend the National Book Festival in Washington. Olds and
someother writers were invited by First Lady Laura Bush to read from their
works.] Olds's letter:

Laura Bush
First Lady
The White House

Dear Mrs. Bush,

I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind
invitation to give a presentation at the National Book Festival on
September 24, or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the
breakfast at the White House.

In one way, it's a very appealing invitation. The idea of speaking at a
festival attended by 85,000 people is inspiring! The possibility of
finding new readers is exciting for a poet in personal terms, and in terms
of the
desire that poetry serve its constituents--all of us who need the
pleasure, and the inner and outer news, it delivers.

And the concept of a community of readers and writers has long been dear
to my heart. As a professor of creative writing in the graduate school of a
major university, I have had the chance to be a part of some magnificent
outreach writing workshops in which our students have become teachers.
Over the years, they have taught in a variety of settings: a women's prison,
several New York City public high schools, an oncology ward for children.
Our initial program, at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely physically
challenged, has been running now for twenty years, creating along the way
lasting friendships between young MFA candidates and their students--
long-term residents at the hospital who, in their humor,courage and wisdom,
become our teachers.

When you have witnessed someone nonspeaking and almost nonmoving spell
out, with a toe, on a big plastic alphabet chart, letter by letter, his new
poem, you have experienced, close up, the passion and essentialness of writing.
When you have held up a small cardboard alphabet card for a writer who is
completely nonspeaking and nonmoving (except for the eyes), and pointed
first to the A, then the B, then C, then D, until you get to the first letter
of the first word of the first line of the poem she has been composing in
her head all week, and she lifts her eyes when that letter is touched to say
yes, you feel with a fresh immediacy the human drive for creation,
self-expression, accuracy, honesty and wit--and the importance of
writing, which celebrates the value of each person's unique story and song.

So the prospect of a festival of books seemed wonderful to me. I thought
of the opportunity to talk about how to start up an outreach program. I
thought of the chance to sell some books, sign some books and meet some
of the citizens of Washington, DC. I thought that I could try to find a way,
even as your guest, with respect, to speak about my deep feeling that we
should not have invaded Iraq, and to declare my belief that the wish to
invade another culture and another country--with the resultant loss of
life and limb for our brave soldiers, and for the noncombatants in their home
terrain--did not come out of our democracy but was instead a decision
made "at the top" and forced on the people by distorted language, and by
untruths. I hoped to express the fear that we have begun to live in the shadows of
tyranny and religious chauvinism--the opposites of the liberty, tolerance
and diversity our nation aspires to.

I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear
witness--as an American who loves her country and its principles and its
writing--against this undeclared and devastating war.

But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if
I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what
I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.

What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food
from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that
unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of
permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries
where they will be tortured for us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and
shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the
clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the
candles, and I could not stomach it.



UPDATE: sorry about the formatting, I tried transferring it to a couple of different programs to get word-wrap working, no can do. But, in fact, I think it looks kind of pretty this way, so I'll just let it alone as it is.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


The leaves and the birds fly
Through a mirror-blue sky.
They rise when the winds call.
Like winnowing memory,
Birds scatter and leaves fall.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Open Thread

We're long overdue for a new thread. And, since I can't think of anything witty or trenchant to post, it's just a plain ol' open thread.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Poetry of, by and for the People

Two poets have already contributed to this blog. We are pleased and humbled to front page their work.

weak force
the thud imagined
orbit random electron
near where expected
people powered poetry

(Mystery poet, enter and sign in, please!)

I'm behind the wheel
feeling the acceleration
as my vehicle careers
along in the Dark.
I am not asking for intellectual
discussion on the operation of
accelerators or braking systems.
Just tell me what you see.
Sometimes the lurching
frightens me. Are there rocks?
Is this a bend to negotiate?
Am I too near the ditch just now?
Does this new Silence mean
freefall or coasting?
Listen. My aim is only to be
centered on the road alive.

Written during the Gulf War...
A voice calls:
"I will raise up your ruins.
Return to me for I have redeemed you.
Come to me and I will give you rest.
Comfort, comfort my people.
I am with you always.
I am the Beloved and there is no other.
"Do you say to me,
'Your work has no handles'?
'We have no bread'?
Do you imagine that I grieve with you?
"Would that even today you knew
the things that make for peace.
Truly, I have borne your griefs.
Forgive them,
for they know not what they do.
Give them something to eat.
Walk in love.
O that I would find you
Grieving with me,
Toting crosses,
Purchasing fields in Canaan.
~ listener
Howard Empowered Poet

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Who and What

(Rachel K. Riggs See the website for this artist's opinion.)

I posted this on the last thread as an off-the-cuff rant on that topic. Catreona asked me to post it as a thread. Please take these comments for what they are: opinion only.


On my 1st trip to Haifa, Isreal, I took a tour with one of the local kibutzs. A highlight of the tour, at least for me, was a brief visit at an artist's kabutz. It was explained to us that "all" of the residents of the kubutz, including the children, had to be artists and had to be voted in by the current membership. This seemed a little harsh at first, especially regarding the children, but the more i thought about it, the more sense it made.

Let's take Jessica (sorry to use you as a test case Jessica) as an example: she states that she "like(s) to do crocheting and needlepoint, and I've done a little quilting." Now that's ok. But, if we could see a picture, maybe, of one finished article, then we could judge its artfulness and welcome jessica as a full member. Or a description by the artist or another observer could do. One doesn't have to be Picasso, or Miles Davis, or Gunther Grass, or et al, to be an artist.

So, i looked in the dictionary to help define art, but it only seemed to be concerned with process and characteristics:

*the conscious use of skill, taste, and creative imagination in the production of aesthetic objects. (partial definition from Webster's 7th New Collegiate Dictionary, G & c. merriam co., 1976.)

that's a fair description of process, but what is art?

To me, art is an intention, a process, and an outcome. The intention is to create in order to express. The expression may take the form of banal beauty, or it may be intent on enlightment or exchange of ideas. The intent must be, but is not always necessairly, an attempt by the artist to "relate" to an audience even if the audience is a single person. The way in which the artist relates involves the process, or form, employed in conveying the communication. If the color, design, feel, or useful nature of Jessica's articles produce an emotional aesthetic or ambiance, then she has created art. Most often the receiver/audience determines what the communication has become no matter the intent of the artist. Some would say that the closer the audience is to the intent of the artist equals the success of the art, but i really don't like to narrow a plausability to the level of a near yes/no.

Vague? Sure, and intently so. Art has many descriptions and forms. As artists, i would include, but wouldn't limit the list to:

physical artists (painters, sculpters, jewelry makers, etc.)
poets and writers of literature
performance artists (talking about a vague description)
story tellers
dreamers & liars (maybe)
film/video makers
(some) clothing designers

The "what are we to do" portion should perhaps take the form of expressing the world as we would see/have it be. To attempt to create the mental image, a lasting image, that would cause people to wrestle with their own hearts and minds as to the right path we should take as a species. Will it be together, or apart? Will it be to ensure common health, or individual excess? Will it be to replace a face full of fear with a smile, or will it describe a coming holocast?

Sorry for being so dramatic. This is art after all.

Also, from Catreona:

I think ART as such doesn't need to be overtly political but, yes, I agree that the best art conveys a vision of the world as the artist would have it. That's why Dark Fantasy, Horror and shading into pornography disturb me. It is possible that on some level such works portray the world as it is, or one dark vision as it is, but it does not strive for the betterment of the characters, the reader/viewer, the world at large. Such things may be very well crafted, but I hesitate to call them art. Beauty, on the other hand, be it majestic like Michelangelo's David or homey and humble llike a lovingly and well made quilt, is always a good, a lift to the spirit of the viewer and, thereby, makes the world better to some extent.


What do you think???

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Who We Are And What We Do

Last night, listener offered this simple - once she pointed it out - and wise summary of what this group is all about:

So, what constitutes being an artist, poet, or musician, for our purposes?

Could it be Dean Supporters who naturally create and express through art, poetry and/or music?

My impression is that the purpose of coming together would be to support one another in our creative endeavours and to, at times, offer our creativity to a group endeavour, so to highlight, support or otherwise enhance whosoever and whatever we deem is serving to create this country and world rather than destroy it.
Though she modestly asked for other idears, it seems to me listener's spot on. What do others think?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Poets, Artists and Musicians for Dean, gather round!

Friends, this is the place for all creative artists for Dean to gather, confabulate, and otherwise hobnob.

We must first sort out just what constitutes an artist for the purposes of this organization. We mmust then sort out exactly who is a member. We must then sort out what our name is to be.

So, let's party!