Poems for all seasons, catching up

From a NYT article on Chinese poet Yu Xiuhua:

“What is poetry?” she wrote in an epilogue to “Moonlight.” “I don’t know and can’t tell. It’s when my heart roars, it emerges like a newborn. It’s like a crutch when one walks unsteadily in this unsteady world. Only when I write poetry do I feel complete, at peace and content.”

I’ve been saving these up for far too long! Favorites as they’ve passed across my email and feeds. All worth reading for some kind of fire or peace.

After the Wedding” by John Daniel, via Lori. “…how good it is / to find you now beyond all / the loud joy, driving north in rain / and the lovely ease of our silence.”

Enemies,” Wendell Berry. “If you are not to become a monster, / you must care what they think. / If you care what they think, / how will you not hate them, / and so become a monster / of the opposite kind?”

Antique” by Robert Pinsky. “I drowned in the fire of having you, I burned / In the river of not having you, we lived / Together for hours in a house of a thousand rooms / And we were parted for a thousand years.”

Early October Snow” by Robert Haight. “The pumpkins, still in the fields, are planets / shrouded by clouds. / The Weber wears a dunce cap / and sits in the corner by the garage….”

Enough Music” by Dorianne Laux. “…we fall into this rhythm of silence. / It swings back and forth between us / like a rope over a lake.”

Peace” by C.K. Williams, via Lori. “We fight for hours, through dinner, through the endless evening, who / even knows now what about, / what could be so dire to have to suffer so for, stuck in one another’s craws / like fishbones….”

Thanksgiving for Two”  by Marjorie Saiser. “The adults we call our children will not be arriving / with their children in tow for Thanksgiving. / We must make our feast ourselves….”

Ennui” by Elizabeth Murawski. “lightning bolts of sorrow / knowing he’s neither here / nor there my new life / making my way through drifts….”

Dust of Snow” by Robert Frost. “The way a crow / Shook down on me / The dust of snow / From a hemlock tree….”

Bread” by Richard Levine. “Each night, in a space he’d make / between waking and purpose, / my grandfather donned his one / suit, in our still dark house, and drove….”

A Perfect Mess” by Mary Karr. “I read somewhere / that if pedestrians didn’t break traffic laws to cross / Times Square whenever and by whatever means possible, / 
the whole city / would stop, it would stop.”

Frederick Douglass” by Robert Hayden. “…beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world / where none is lonely, none hunted, alien, / this man, superb in love and logic, this man / shall be remembered.”

Ballad of Birmingham” by Dudley Randall. “Mother dear, may I go downtown / Instead of out to play, / And march the streets of Birmingham / In a Freedom March today?”

I, Too” by Langston Hughes. “Tomorrow, / I’ll be at the table / When company comes. / Nobody’ll dare / Say to me, / ‘Eat in the kitchen,’ / Then.”

May You Always be the Darling of Fortune” by Jane Miller. “March 10th and the snow flees like eloping brides / into rain. The imperceptible change begins / out of an old rage and glistens, chaste, with its new / craving, spring.”

St. Patrick’s Day” by Derek Mahon. “Not even the love of friends can quite appease / the vertigo, sore ears and inner voices; / deep-draughted rain clouds, a rock lost in space, / yahoos triumphant in the marketplace, / the isle is full of intolerable noises.”

Don’t Bother the Earth Spirit” by Joy Harjo. “Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing. If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give you warm bread, and you will be obligated to stay and listen. But this is no ordinary story.”

In a Word, a World” by C. D. Wright. “I love the particular lexicons of particular occupations. The substrate of those activities. The nomenclatures within nomenclatures.”

Walking on Tiptoe” by Ted Kooser. “Long ago we quit lifting our heels / like the others—horse, dog, and tiger— / though we thrill to their speed / as they flee.”

The Late Wisconsin Spring” by John Koethe. “The sky shakes itself out. And the invisible birds / Winter put away somewhere return, the air relaxes, / People start to circulate again in twos and threes.”

Voyage” by Carmen Tafolla. “I was the fourth ship. / Behind Niña, Pinta, Santa María, / Lost at sea while watching a seagull, / Following the wind and sunset skies, / While the others set their charts.”

Prayer” by Francisco X. Alarcon. “a god / who spits / blood from / tuberculosis and / doesn’t even have / enough for bus fare.”

More Than Enough” by Marge Piercy. “Season of / joy for the bee. The green will never / again be so green, so purely and lushly / new, grass lifting its wheaty seedheads / into the wind.”

How to behave after leaving a job

The news and digital industries could use more of this respect. But probably more industries as well. You don’t kick your colleagues’ reality to spite management. From Dusty Baker, whom I miss:

Is it vindicating to see the team struggle?

My dad used to always tell me, “If you feel vindication, then you’re feeling it against the same guys you were in the foxhole with.” You’re not pulling for the front office. But it’s hard to pull against them without pulling against the players. You try to be neutral in the situation and not give a s—, but you do.

Parmigiano… gelato

Just a quick note.

Parmigiano “gelato” exists. What a world!

I don’t know how I ran across this article about such a savory spread (and others), but here we are, so much better for the knowledge. Says the recipe, “Good-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano gives it a nutty, satisfyingly salty flavor that makes it a conversation starter at any gathering.” And who could disagree? I personally plan to mention Parmigiano ‘Gelato’ to everyone I meet.

Parmigiano ‘Gelato.’ A little party trick for you: Warm a cup of heavy cream in a saucepan, stir in some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and nutmeg, then transfer that mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until it magically firms up (it’ll take a few hours, but you could also let it sit overnight). Once it’s scooped and spread over toast, the consistency is similar to — you guessed it — gelato! Drizzle it with thick balsamic vinegar (or another sticky, tart thing like pomegranate molasses).

Missing certain sandwiches

The Daily writes and has a video about Al’s Deli, the most wonderful sandwich shop in all of Chicagoland. Once just around the corner, the closest I get to Al’s deliciousness these days is following the deli on Facebook. But it’s still easy to taste the bread and cheese and meat and miss the capital-e Experience.

And the cookies. Can’t forget the cookies.

I ran into a good long-read this winter: “Everything I know about life I learned at Al’s Deli.” Mentioned early in the piece is this deal, which any Al’s customer can testify is great one: “The job paid minimum wage, no tips, but I was promised a sandwich at the start of my shift and a sandwich to take home after work.”

Givhan is always good when ‘something new is afoot’

Whether one dresses fashionably or not, whether one knows what is fashionable or not, it’s always a good idea to read a Pulitzer-winning fashion writer. Few have done better than the Post‘s Robin Givhan in connecting fashion, both on the runway and in the big moments of our time, to the greater cultural mood and its meaning.

In February, Givhan’s criticism of a too-smooth Ralph Lauren show was so good I sent it to a few fellow managers on our digital product team. How might we be as true and real as possible in our product, even at the cost of imperfection?

Lauren sold customers on this glossy American promise. But so many things that once seemed so right and perfect and true have been revealed to be imperfect, rotten or fundamentally broken. Below the surface, the beautiful things are just not quite right: The once mesmerizing sweep of Hollywood, the shattered fantasy of fashion photography, the impugned standard bearers of media, beleaguered democracy.

Glossy doesn’t just seem ill-timed; it raises suspicions. It leaves one feeling unsettled. It leaves one asking: What fresh lie is this?

This week, Givhan went to a similar place, probing real-ness and self-truth in our modern hall of mirrors and influence, as she wrote about Meghan Markle’s dress. The column builds beautifully, gathering evidence to assemble into…

Markle, who is biracial, has been referred to as an American princess and a black princess, although she does not hold that title in her own right. The diversity she brings to the British royal family is historic and important. But there remains something disconcerting in 2018 about the obsessive enchantment with princesses and Prince Charming, tiaras, carriage rides and a life of happily-ever-after that is, in part, defined by giving up a career one enjoyed and ceasing to have public opinions. It can be a suffocating fantasy because it is one premised on relinquishing control and independence. It’s a fantasy that is less about the relationship between two loving individuals than it is a bargain between an institution and a symbol of femininity, the state and the silent bride.

The dress, in its simplicity, suggests that something new is afoot — or at least a desire for something new. It’s a modern dress. But it’s more than that. It’s a dress that in the glow of the global spotlight, amid the dreamy-eyed commentary, refuses the spun sugar fantasy and suggests reality has the potential to be just as marvelous. Perhaps even better.

You can explore the rest of Givhan’s recent archive here. (Her recent Tom Wolfe piece is terrific.) I agree with some takes and not others. You’ll likely feel the same — it’s criticism, after all. But she makes her connections and case in such powerful ways.