April 1st, 2006

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Good Morning!!

It is raining! What a surprise! : )

Well, April showers bring May flowers, and it should be quite a spectacular wildflower year.

I really don't know quite what to think about all this rain, but I am resigned now to living along the coast of Oregon without even having to move. That is quite something when I think about it. I always wanted to know how I would do with daily rain. Now, daily rain has come to me. Life is ease.

I woke feeling each part of my body stretching. That is what it feels like, my parts are waking and savoring an early morning stretch. Mandu needed some petting, of course, and then, I looked out to see if I truly was hearing rain. Yes, I am, and I came to my keyboard and it is covered with ants, so that is an odd way to begin the day. Ants are not like spiders where you can carry them outside, or to a new location, or be satisfied with the location they have chosen, so I have now been forced into a little morning killing. I had not planned to begin my day in such a way, but sometimes the world brings us what we have not planned, so I am now saying little ant prayers to send them on their way.

My cousin Greg sent this to me this morning. What a perfect beginning to Poetry Month. I checked it out, and is wonderful. Settle yourself, like a cat in a chair, right there, and enjoy the poems of this web-site.

Greg: "I came across this in an email I get weekly from the Scout Project and thought of you immediately."

Poetry Magazines

Several years ago, Arts Council England funded a project to create an online digital archive of English 20th and 21st century poetry magazines, and this website represents their efforts. Visitors can search the entire contents of the archive from the homepage, or they may also wish to browse a list of the publications also available here. Several dozen magazines are featured on the homepage, and they include such creatively titled publications as Brando’s hat, Smiths Knoll, and Dream Catcher. Of course, visitors will also find volumes from such venerable publications as The London Magazine and Poetry Wales. Those who are intrigued by what they find here may want to check out the subscription particulars for each journal, all of which are offered here as well.
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Leadership is about dispelling fear, not inciting it!

Greg also mentioned F.D. Roosevelt's Inaugural speech where he says, "let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." When Bush came into office, the country was prospering. Look at it now. When Roosevelt took office it was in the depths of the Great Depression. He gave this speech in 1933.

I read these words and think of Bush telling us to go shopping. Read these words, and weep for what has been lost, and pray for a leader to come forth, to lead us now with vision, honesty, and truth.

The Inaugural Address of FDR:

President Hoover, Mr. Chief Justice, my friends:

This is a day of national consecration. And I am certain that on this day my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency, I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impels.

This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure, as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunk to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; and the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone. More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

And yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered, because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.

Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

True, they have tried. But their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They only know the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

Yes, the money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of that restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy, the moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days, my friends, will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves, to our fellow men.

Recognition of that falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, and on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.

Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation is asking for action, and action now.

Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing great -- greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our great natural resources.

Hand in hand with that we must frankly recognize the overbalance of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land.

Yes, the task can be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural products, and with this the power to purchase the output of our cities. It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy of the growing loss through foreclosure of our small homes and our farms. It can be helped by insistence that the Federal, the State, and the local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities that have a definitely public character. There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped by merely talking about it.

We must act. We must act quickly.

And finally, in our progress towards a resumption of work, we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order. There must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments. There must be an end to speculation with other people's money. And there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

These, my friends, are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress in special session detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the 48 States.

Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our own national house in order and making income balance outgo. Our international trade relations, though vastly important, are in point of time, and necessity, secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy. I favor, as a practical policy, the putting of first things first. I shall spare no effort to restore world trade by international economic readjustment; but the emergency at home cannot wait on that accomplishment.

The basic thought that guides these specific means of national recovery is not nationally -- narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in and parts of the United States of America -- a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that recovery will endure.

In the field of world policy, I would dedicate this Nation to the policy of the good neighbor: the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others; the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.

If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize, as we have never realized before, our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take, but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress can be made, no leadership becomes effective.

We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and our property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at the larger good. This, I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us, bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in times of armed strife.

With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.

Action in this image, action to this end is feasible under the form of government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our Constitution is so simple, so practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world has ever seen.

It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations. And it is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly equal, wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.

I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.

But, in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis -- broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.

For the trust reposed in me, I will return the courage and the devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.

We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike. We aim at the assurance of a rounded, a permanent national life.

We do not distrust the -- the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it.

In this dedication -- In this dedication of a Nation, we humbly ask the blessing of God.

May He protect each and every one of us.

May He guide me in the days to come.
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The United Nations!

Franklin Roosevelt devoted much of his energy to forming the United Nations, feeling we needed an international body to ensure peace. Bush, the spoiled little brat that he is, has done everything he could to discredit the United Nations. When I read how this country is now viewed around the world, again, I weep. I know a man who supported Bush until these last few years. After all, he was our president. We should respect him. Now, he feels these are the kinds of times that invite revolution, where leaders as corrupt as these are shot. I would prefer jail for them. I don't believe in capital punishment. I am trying not to judge, and we have to remove those who seek to destroy the constitution and all that this country has stood for, for so many years.

I read Cindy Sheehan's words yesterday on what it is for her to have lost her beloved son, Casey. She works now to save the sons of others.

When I read The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, it was clear she was talking about Bush, someone who blew up frogs as a child. I take the following words from Publishers Weekly. Stout defines a sociopath as "one who displays at least three of seven distinguishing characteristics, such as deceitfulness, impulsivity and a lack of remorse. Such people often have a superficial charm, which they exercise ruthlessly in order to get what they want." Sound familiar. Sad, isn't it, and it is a beautiful day. Find a poem that speaks to your heart, or write one of your own!! Give thanks to all the poets who refused Laura Bush's invitations to the White House to dine and play nice. Give thanks to those who see and think and ensure a world of change that evolves for the "better good," the better good for us all, as we acknowledge how connected we are, how one.
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Sharon Olds!!

This letter was published in The Nation, and, probably other places, too. It was sent to Laura Bush at the White House.

Posted September 19, 2005 (October 10, 2005 issue)
Open Letter to Laura Bush
Sharon Olds

For reasons spelled out below, the poet Sharon Olds has declined to attend the National Book Festival in Washington, which, coincidentally or not, takes place September 24, the day of an antiwar mobilization in the capital. Olds, winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award and professor of creative writing at New York University, was invited along with a number of other writers by First Lady Laura Bush to read from their works. Three years ago artist Jules Feiffer declined to attend the festival's White House breakfast as a protest against the Iraq War ("Mr. Feiffer Regrets," November 11, 2002). We suggest that invitees to this year's event consider following their example.--The Editors of The Nation

Sharon Olds Letter to Laura Bush:

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.

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Laura Bush!

Laura Bush has said, "There is nothing political about American literature."

I seem to recall learning that the book "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was one of the main contributors to the Civil War.

Now I see why math and reading are the only subjects being taught in some schools so that they can pass the requirements for No Child Left Behind. If you don't read American literature, then, you won't know that actually there may well be something quite political there, and the politics just might not support what is happening today.

I decide to dictionary.com the word "literature." Perhaps the problem is in Laura Bush's definition of the word.

lit·er·a·ture ( P ) Pronunciation Key (ltr--chr, -chr) n.
The body of written works of a language, period, or culture.
Imaginative or creative writing, especially of recognized artistic value: “Literature must be an analysis of experience and a synthesis of the findings into a unity” (Rebecca West).
The art or occupation of a literary writer.
The body of written work produced by scholars or researchers in a given field: medical literature.
Printed material: collected all the available literature on the subject.
Music. All the compositions of a certain kind or for a specific instrument or ensemble: the symphonic literature.

Hmmmm! "The body of written works of a language, period or culture."

Let's see! I google American Literature. Oh, my, there is quite a list of names. Thomas Paine, though born in England, wrote in the United States. He wrote Common Sense, and it seems it is considered literature. Is Common Sense not political? Well, maybe now, I need to see what the word political actually means. Maybe, Laura and I have different definitions of that word. I check and I don't see how. It is pretty straight-forward.

po·lit·i·cal ( P ) Pronunciation Key (p-lt-kl) adj.
Of, relating to, or dealing with the structure or affairs of government, politics, or the state.
Relating to, involving, or characteristic of politics or politicians: “Calling a meeting is a political act in itself” (Daniel Goleman).
Relating to or involving acts regarded as damaging to a government or state: political crimes.
Interested or active in politics: I'm not a very political person.
Having or influenced by partisan interests: The court should never become a political institution.
Based on or motivated by partisan or self-serving objectives: a purely political decision.


I like the part about political crimes. Maybe understanding that, Laura will understand that literature in America is political, and, very often, it is ethical, too.
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Today I do get out for a walk and it is so beautiful. I see the roads and paths dug out and feel the same. I am enjoying the openings and new space in me. The sun is shining in this moment, and all is lovely as can be, and I am grateful for this rain that has allowed me so much rest and comfort, and now, it has created the most amazing greens. The world is beautiful indeed!! Enjoy this April Day!!
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The Horse Experience!

When I first came to all of this, I learned that Marin has a program for women with breast cancer involving horses. I was looking forward to that, and, then, with the exhaustion of the chemo was unable to even contemplate it. Yesterday I found out it is open to me whenever I want. I am not quite clear what is involved, but I believe the idea is to learn to communicate with horses, like the "horse whisperer." The man who teaches it is a horse whisperer, and it is about non-verbal communication. It is also meant to be empowering for those who might be feeling a bit at the mercy of the medical world.

The other idea is that horses don't mind bald heads. For me, however, there has been so much support for my bald head, that that really hasn't been an issue, and amazingly, my hair is pouring back in. (This may be a slight exaggeration.) However, two days ago, I had a bright, shiny head, and, now, I have a soft, furry one. I think my hair is 1/16th of an inch. It's not everywhere on my head, but it is an amazing difference. Soon, I will feel warm. That ought to bring the sun and the heat wave. It is raining again, and I am grateful for my walk, and to now be cozily tucked in.