Monthly Archives: August 2016

Monday’s Verse 8/29/2016

Dear All,

I am a terrible substitute for Matthew! I missed last week and this week’s will be brief.

I was walking in New York City last week and thinking about selective eye contact. I found myself purposely not making eye contact with the people I passed. I was in a rush and felt the need to focus on getting somewhere on time. In the midst of this hurried excursion, I felt like an alienator. We fling our selves to and fro and forget we are a part of a larger picture–part of the human scene. Some of it is intentional as we avoid the eyes of someone in need, or turning from someone who we size up in a blink and callously decide could be a nuisance to our quest to get to a meeting, to dinner, or to bed.

Within this moment of self-loathing, I remembered a poem by my favorite anthropologist-Renato Rosaldo. I met him once and asked to take a picture with me in the days of film cameras. I am fairly confident he thought I was insane. He is my Post Modern Theory hero after all…we all have to have one!

May you bring visibility to as many as possible this week.



Renato Rosaldo

We celebrate their days, eat hot dogs, love baseball, but they say we were born to weed, change diapers, carry crates in the grey of dawn while they sleep. Awake, they look at us without seeing. We see ourselves clearly, know ourselves precisely, without parades and picnics. To survive, we must. I’m one of the invisible living among the notable. Day after day I hear doors shut, stumble over slurs, and bump into the man who nods yes, yes, but isn’t listening.

Monday’s Verse 8/16/2016

Dear All,

I have stumbled across the Bronte sisters of the modern Arab world. Annemarie and Emily Jacir are Palestinian from Bethlehem and raised in Saudi Arabia . They have become forces to contend with in the art world. Emily uses film, photography, installation, performance, video, writing and sound in her works. Below is a mural in New York by Emily. It led me to these dynamic sisters. The mural represents ten thousands of books stolen from Palestinians in 1948 by the Israeli government. This was a historical detail I was unaware of until tI saw the mural.

Annemarie, the youngest of the two sisters, is primarily a filmmaker. Her work has been shown at Cannes as well as other film festivals around the world. She is also a published poet. Her work explores the politics of Palestinian oppression and its impact on the individual. She lives in Jordan and since 2008 has been banned from reentering Israel.

The poem below by Annemarie Jacir is the story of a woman trying to hold onto to a culture in peril. It is her attempt to tighten her grip around history, language, place, ritual and even delicacies of her people. This is the struggle of Diasporan groups. In the end, the struggle is lost.

Pistachio Ice Cream

They told me the

Arabs named the stars

algol, sirius, aldebaran…

My mother’s olive-shaped eyes

sandaled feet

led me into centuries

of vast empires

forgotten treasures

Now, only ruins remain.

This was the summer

i bathed in olive oil

and sat on the sidewalks

of Jerusalem eating

pistachio ice-cream

with the old man

whose ancient face tried

to explain to me that we fought

with our hearts and

not our heads—therefore

we would never win.

i am dead to my tribe

i will never learn all its salty secrets

So tonight I want to sleep

with vega, deneb, altair…

because they will disappear

with the morning sun,

and only ruins remain.

— Annemarie Jacir, Palestinian Poet

Monday’s Verse 8/8/2016

Dear All,

I am stepping in for our benevolent leader. As usual, I am including a poem of sorts that is political nature. Do not fear. It far from the U.S. politic scene!

The author, Eduardo Galleano, was a divine force in the world of the unrecognized. He wrote endlessly about those the history books have forgotten. He tells our history with voices that has been silenced or never heard.

He reminds me that not everyone in the world follows the same narrative. It is too often the case that victors record history and victims remain buried. He reminds me to ask who’s story is left out of my news feeds, alerts, and papers.



The Nobodies

Fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, and nobodies dream of escaping
poverty: that one magical day good luck will suddenly rain down on
them—will rain down in buckets. But good luck doesn’t rain down
yesterday, today, tomorrow, or ever. Good luck doesn’t even fall in a
fine drizzle, no matter how hard the nobodies summon it, even if their
left hand is tickling, or if they begin the new day with their right
foot, or start the new year with a change of brooms.

The nobodies: nobody’s children, owners of nothing. The nobodies: the
no ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits, dying through life,
screwed every which way.

Who are not, but could be.
Who don’t speak languages, but dialects.
Who don’t have religions, but superstitions.
Who don’t create art, but handicrafts.
Who don’t have culture, but folklore.
Who are not human beings, but human resources.
Who do not have faces, but arms.
Who do not have names, but numbers.
Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the police
blotter of the local paper.
The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.”

Eduardo Galeano, Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent

Monday’s Verse 8/1/2016, continued

Forgot to print the poem. This is why a hiatus is needed. -ed.


My mother is moving house. She’s ninety-one
and determined: words like sheltered
accommodation are coming at us from outer space
but it’s not like that, at least not yet. There are spare
rooms in the new home, she’ll have a small garden,
feed nuthatches, do her own cooking, grow shrubs.
Still, down the slope will be a sanatorium.
That’s the point. A clinic, an Alzheimer’s wing.
She doesn’t want to be a burden. In every room
is a vermilion string to pull if you fall over.

When I clear out her cupboards we find histories
woven in every blanket, like this scorch mark
made the winter the heating failed.
Should she sell the oversize kitchen clock
(which she still gets up on a ladder to wind
every Sunday, as my dad used to do)
to the blind piano tuner who took a shine
to it when he came to value the piano?
Or should it stay around in case one day
some grandchild might give it a home?

For the first time in her life she’ll live only
with things she has chosen. No husband or children
to consider, no furniture from aunts. She can sell,
she can give things away. Traumas of today,
contracts to exchange, dates of completion,
arguments over who’ll let the carpenter in
to the new place to measure up, will be forgotten
because forgetting is an issue let’s face it.
And she is, she is facing it. She’ll be three miles
from family but she’s going to an unknown zone.


Monday’s Verse 8/1/2016

Dear readers,

raise your hand if you knew that Charles Darwin’s great-granddaughter is a poet! The fact that I have posed that question and am right now still typing suggests that my hand is not raised. I type slowly, but I type 2-handed. About 7 years ago, the English poetry world was abuzz with the news that Ruth Padel (death purl) had been appointed the Oxford Professor of Poetry, only to resign a week later when it surfaced that she had smeared a rival for the post with e-mails to 2 journalists, citing 30-year-old allegations of sexual harassment at another university. She has written novels, poetry criticism, non-fiction, a biography in verse of Darwin, and teaches poetry at King’s College London.

What I think is coolest about her is that in 1999, she took over a poetry column in The Independent on Sunday, as an experiment to introduce modern poetry to the general reader who felt sidelined by it. The 6-week experiment turned into a 2 1/2 year gig, resulting in the publication of 52 Ways Of Looking At A Poem. The theory is that reading a poem a week for an entire year can change one’s life. Talk to me when you get to year 19, Ruth, knowhattamean?

I am sorry to have missed last week and a couple other weeks this summer. Although I’d like to find a moment (or several moments!) to reply to Mark’s thoughtful reply about some troubling things he’s seen around him in regard to Emma Lazarus’s Colossus poem, I had better announce that MV is going to go on hiatus for a little while at the end of summer/early fall, due to travel and other distractions. I would rather take a little break and announce it as such, than continue to miss weeks, as I know will happen between now and mid-October. I will pop up now and again, and of course, one of our frequent flyers is more than welcome to take over now and again by responding all to this e-mail! Take care,