He Would Never Use One Word Where None Would Do,by: Philip Levine
If you said Nice day, he would look upat the three clouds riding overhead,nod at each, and go back to doing what-ever he was doing or not doing.If you asked for a smoke or a light,hed hand you whatever he foundin his pockets: a jackknife, a hankie usually unsoiled a dollar bill,a subway token. Once he gave mehalf the sandwich he was eatingat the little outdoor restauranton La Guardia Place. I remembera single sparrow was perched on the backof his chair, and when he held outa piece of bread on his open palm,the bird snatched it up and went back toits place without even a thank you,one hard eye staring at my bad eyeas though I were next. That was in Mayof 97, spring had come late,but the sun warmed both of us for hourswhile silence prevailed, if you can callthe blaring of taxi horns and the trucksfighting for parking and the kids on skatesstreaming past silence. My friend Frankiewas such a comfort to me that year,the year of the crisis. He would turnup his great dark head just going grayuntil his eyes met mine, and that was allI needed to go on talking nonsenseas he sat patiently waiting me out,the bird staring over his shoulder.Silence is silver, my Zaydee had said,getting it wrong and right, just as he saidWater is thicker than blood, thinkingthis made him a real American.Frankie was already American,being half German, half Indian.Fact is, silence is the perfect water:unlike rain it falls from no cloudsto wash our minds, to ease our tired eyes,to give heart to the thin blades of grassfighting through the concrete for even airdirtied by our endless stream of words.
Ode to Autumn by John Keats
Seas on of mists and mellow fruitfulness,Close bosom -friend of the maturing sun;Conspiring with him how to load and blessWith fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shellsWith a sweet kernel; to set budding more,And still more, later flowers for the bees,Until they think warm days will never cease;For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may findThee sitting careless on a granary floor,Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hookSpares the next swath and all its twind flowers:And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keepSteady thy laden head across a brook;Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,While barrd clouds bloom the soft-dying dayAnd touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mournAmong the river-sallows, borne aloftOr sinking as the light wind lives or dies;And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble softThe redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Sonnet 104WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
To me faire friend you neuer can be oldTo me faire friend you neuer can be old,For as you were when first your eye I eyde,Such seemes your beautie still: Three Winters colde,Haue from the forrests shooke three summers pride,Three beautious springs to yellow Autumne turnd,In processe of the seasons haue I seene,Three Aprill perfumes in three hot Iunes burnd,Since first I saw you fresh which yet are greene.Ah yet doth beauty like a Dyall hand,Steale from his figure, and no pace perceiud,So your sweete hew, which me thinkes still doth standHath motion, and mine eye may be deceaued.For feare of which, heare this thou age vnbred,Ere you were borne was beauties summer dead.
Love's Quiet WorldFrederic ParkerLove is a quiet world, with spacious realmsThe heart will completely abandon its rulesAnd kiss the conqueror who overwhelmsTo become King or court jester of foolsTo trade your honor for willingly warm lipsWhen this world is confined between two armsA soft touch to the mouth from fingertipsWill bring heart's guarded ramparts to disarmThis fiery world that needs no translationWill expose the soul to its heated coreAnd claim burning hearts and their salvationAs flames turn to ashes for evermore
Love is a quiet world filled with debrisLeft by court jesters not the Kings who flee
A Doubtful ChristmasThe value of hard work, love and commitmentBy Doyle Suit
During the summer of 1944, my father sold everything we owned, took all the money and disappeared from our lives. My mother suddenly found herself alone to care for five boys. I was the oldest, barely ten years old. My youngest brother still wore diapers.
My grandparents welcomed us to their place eighty acres of rocky hill country, twenty miles from the nearest town. They scratched a living out of growing row crops in the thin topsoil, and running beef cattle on open range.
Grandpa butchered an extra hog that year, and we planted a field of turnips to mature in the cool fall weather. We didnt know a lot of different ways to prepare turnips, but the farm supplied adequate food. My mother worked in the fields and cared for us kids while I started fifth grade at school.
Changes in our lives couldnt be avoided. My father had been abusive at times, but hed always provided for us. Now, I worried about what might happen, but my mother stayed positive, and assured us that she would keep us together as a family and safe from harm.
Relatives donated hand-me-down clothes whenever they could, and the farm produced enough food to nourish all of us every day. I milked cows before catching the school bus, and did chores after I got home each day. The younger boys washed dishes, fed chickens and pigs, and carried in firewood. Six-year-old Jerry was paired with me on a crosscut saw, and we regularly cut wood to heat the house during the winter.
Our efforts paled in comparison to what our mother did, however. At one hundred-five pounds, she could swing an axe, manhandle heavy horse-drawn plows, haul hay for the cattle, and harvest crops. Still, she found time to help us with homework and say prayers with the younger boys. She also made sure we attended church regularly, and taught us to appreciate music.As Christmas approached, my mother didnt seem to smile as much. She hinted that Santa might have trouble bringing us presents this year. I considered myself practically grown, so I hid my disappointment, but when I overheard a conversation between my mother and grandma, I really started to worry.
I cant afford to buy Christmas presents for the kids, my mother said.
You need to have something for them, grandma replied. Maybe you could wrap some of the hand-me-downs.
The kids would be terribly disappointed to find old clothes under the tree. I have to do better than that. Maybe I can make toys.
Homemade toys didnt excite me, but I realized she had no money to buy presents. Explaining that to the younger kids might be difficult, though.
One day, my mother took a saw into the forest and returned with a stack of tree limbs. She left them in the harness room in the barn and refused to tell her curious children what they were for.
She worked on her project while I was in school, but I peeked when I had a chance. Pieces of wood had been cut into different shapes, then planed and sanded smooth. Later I found a stack of discs cut from a round oak limb. She also had started to carve a long piece of hickory, but I couldnt figure out its purpose.
She hid everything from us and frustrated my attempts to snoop. But I saw that she had used nails, glue, and paint from grandpas workshop. I concluded that she had to be making presents.
By Christmas week, my mother was her normal happy self again. Her project was apparently complet e, and she evidently kept it secret because Id looked everywhere without success.
When school let out for the holiday, my brothers and I cut a Christmas tree in the forest and dragged it home through the early snow. The whole family helped decorate it with ornaments, pinecones, and strings of popcorn. We gathered mistletoe and holly boughs and hung them throughout the house.
While my mother and grandma prepared food for Christmas dinner, I helped grandpa with chores. The younger kids kept a diligent watch on pastries in the cupboard.
On Christmas Eve, we sang carols, and grandpa read aloud from his Bible. After my mother shooed us off to bed, I lay awake for a long while, anticipating Christmas morning. Aunts, uncles, and cousins would come for dinner, and I was curious about what my mothers project would yield. I doubted that it could be anything elaborate, and homemade toys still didnt sound exciting, but I couldnt help noticing that shed made a huge effort to provide for us.
I was already awake when she tapped on our door. Merry Christmas, boys.
We hurried into the living room, and saw that a stack of packages had magically appeared overnight under the tree. But before we were allowed to investigate what Santa had brought, my mother herded us into the kitchen for breakfast.
We gathered around the tree a little later, and my mother handed out the presents. My brothers opened packages stuffed with brightly colored trucks, tractors and trains. Those odd pieces of wood she had handled in secret were assembled and painted to form toys. The round discs made wheels that rolled, and the trucks and trains carried tiny logs and blocks. A tractor pulled a miniature wagon. The toys were beautifully crafted, and my siblings were thrilled.
When I tore off the newspaper wrapping my present, I found a hand carved bow and a quiver of