Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Racing Gnicar

Illustration Friday prompt: racing

The racing gnicar does it wrong;
his heels are where the toes belong.
Ever racing he sings a song:
“hum ditty, bum ditty” all day long.

I stopped him once,
said, “You’re all wrong.”

He replied, “My lungs are strong,
want to come and hop along?
It’s easy when your toes are long.”

“Be with you when you’re all wrong?”
I replied to his silly song.

“Hum ditty, bum ditty,” he sang alone—
I shook my fist and gave a groan,
“Don’t you see that you’re all wrong?”

You know what that gnicar did?
He raced away, probably hid.
Poor old creature with his stupid song
Never seeing he’s made all wrong.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday creativity:

The boys were given an assortment of items and prompted to make something and then write about it. Here are the results:

The 360 Vacuum Cleaner by Chris (age 11)
Once upon a time there lived a mad scientist. The mad scientist was named Voncher. One day Voncher was experimenting and he made the Vacuum 360 which can vacuum anything, even a blue whale. It had three sensors on the top of the vacuum. The vacuum is coming out in 2011. It doesn't need man's help. It is the best vacuum machine in the whole world. It is the newest vacuum in all of the stores and the awesomest selling vacuum cleaner.

The Benjamin Spider by Ben (age 8)
The Benjamin Spider is a vicious beast, the most vicious of all. It eats 39 camels, 7 flies, and one insect. But some days he eats 54 camels (that's only when he is really hungry). Well I guess he is really hungry every day, except for Sundays, because there is air on Sundays. Just so you know he only lives on Neptune.

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, Roger Lancelyn Green

5 stars
Puffin Classics: Great Britain (2008), 385pgs.

Here is a grand collection of Arthurian legend. Included within are the four books: "The Coming of Arthur", "The Knights of the Round Table", The Quest of the Holy Grail", and "The Departing of Arthur". This is a book to read aloud.

Interesting fact about the author taken from a write-up at the back of the book: "He was a member of the Inklings Club in Oxford, a group of friends who read, and commented on, each other's work. Its members included C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia) and J.R.R. Tolkien (author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbitt). If it hadn't been for Roger, The Chronicles of Narnia might never have been published. In 1949, Roger went to dinner with C.S. Lewis. Lewis read Roger two chapters of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. He also informed Roger that he'd read them to Tolkien a few weeks before, who had told Lewis that he didn't think they were very good. Roger disagreed. He thought they were great, and he encouraged Lewis to get them published. Roger even thought of the series title The Chronicles of Narnia, and he went on to become the very first reader of all the rest of the Narnia stories."

a few quotes:

“King Arthur’s adventures did not end when he had defeated the Saxons and brought peace to Britain; for thought he had set up the Realm of Logres—the land of true good and piety, nobleness and right living—the evil was always breaking in to attack the good. It would need many books to tell of every adventure that befell during his reign—that brief period of light set like a star of Heaven in the midst of the Dark Ages…” (93)

Sir Launcelot's brother, Sir Hector de Maris, speaking at Launcelot's funeral:
"Ah Launcelot, you were the best knight in all Christendom. You, Sir Launcelot, who lie there never had nor never will have any rival to you. And you were the most courteous knight that ever bore shield, the truest lover that ever loved woman, and the kindest man that ever wore a sword. You were the finest man that ever was seen in a company of knights, and the meekest and most gentle among ladies, but the sternest knight to your mortal foes that ever put spear in rest." (381)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Robert Louis Stevenson

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summertime,
Fires in the fall!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

star beam

one-line pen and ink drawing

I caught a star beam and tied it down;
put on my star shoes then left the ground.
On that light rope through the sky,
I walked the heavens as if I died.
The sun, in rising, thinned my beam
and to the earth I fell unwinged.
But right before my fatal crash,
I woke in bed with a gasp.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"I wonder what's going to happen..."

two, one-line pen and ink drawings used as a creative writing prompt:

Chris (age 11)
There once was a cat that had an eye that couldn't see. The cat was paralyzed because the mouse hit the cat so hard. But right as the cat got hit it spit on the mouse and the mouse got stuck and that is the story.

Ben (age 8)
"The Order of the Mouses"
The mouses were being eaten like betta food by the 777 foot cat. The Order of the Mouses said, "We need to get rid of this cat or there will be no more mice." So the Order made a plan. They made a time bomb that was the shape of a mouse and put wheels on it so it would move. Then they sent it off towards the cat. The cat saw the mouse and ate the mouse then licked its lips. Five minutes later the cat blew up and died.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Henry David Thoreau

"It is neither the quality nor the quantity, but the devotion to sensual savors; when that which is eaten is not a viand to sustain our animal, or inspire our spiritual life, but food for the worms that possess us."

from, Walden

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Neil Armstrong

"Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Long from snout to tip of tail,
Whipweasel sleeks like the slickness of oil.
Slender in cunning he slips through the cracks,
turns on his charm and then he attacks.
Chicken, his favorite, but he’ll settle for child;
better beware, he’s out in the wild.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Your Favorite Seuss: A Baker's Dozen By The One And Only Dr. Seuss, compiled by Janet Schulman & Cathy Goldsmith

I picked this book up about two years ago and have slowly gotten through it; reading some to the boys and savoring some for myself. A thoughtful collection of Seuss masterpieces with personal reflections by others whom Seuss influenced in the craft of writing and living. The 13 stories included here:

And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street
McElligot's Pool
If I Ran The Zoo
Horton Hears A Who!
The Cat In The Hat
How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
Yertle The Turtle
Happy Birthday To You!
Green Eggs And Ham
The Sneetches
Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book
The Lorax
Oh, The Places You'll Go!

A few words of Seuss wisdom:
"Think and wonder, wonder and think."

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you."

"Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one."

Monday, October 18, 2010


Illustration Friday prompt: spooky

The Eyesore is a ghastly beast,
with horn upon his brow,
capable of treacherous feats,
beware when you hear his howl.
He’s grumpy,
wears galoshes,
unshaven and uncouth;
his taste buds long for boys and girls
he simmers in his soup.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

IMAGE: Art, Faith, Mystery #66

visit the IMAGE homepage/blog by clicking here

Another spectacular are some of my favorite quotes:

Gregory Wolfe on Geoffrey Hill
"The work he expects us to do is the best possible kind: the deep imaginative labor of making connections and understanding contexts - which, in the end, is a pleasurable form of serious play." (pg. 4)

"The ancient rhetorical mode of "praise and blame" calls on the poet to engage not only in lyric celebration but also prophetic speech." (pg. 5)

"Hill could say, with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a writer he closely resembles: "If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"" (pg. 6)

from James Calvin Schaap's "Pilgrim"
"What did Calvin say in the early passages of the Institutes - "Wherever you turn your eyes, there is no portion of the world that does not exhibit some sparks of beauty. It is impossible to contemplate the vast and beautiful fabric without being overwhelmed by the immense weight of glory."

"And Pascal - "You should always keep something beautiful in your mind." (pg. 9)

Paul Dannels on Richard Meier's Jubilee Church
"So any building, like any poem, is likely to speak to some better than others, depending on where they're at and where they've come from." (pg. 32)

from "A Conversation with Gregory Orr"
Gregory Orr: To me, song is validation of lyric poetry's primal nature. Song exists inside time to express individual feeling, but it also has the capacity to transcend time. Song emanates from individuals and rises up out of time. Lyric poetry speaks from the very middle of this mystery. Song and lyric poetry have a lot to do with my thinking about the Book.

Image: You write a number of poems about "the Book." What do you mean by the Book?

GO: The Book I am imagining is a gigantic anthology filled with every poem and song ever written. All poems and songs feed into it. The Book is an ultimate jukebox, and iPod as big as the moon from which each person can download that playlist that will help them live. We go to it not for entertainment (as the jukebox or iPod metaphor might imply) but to find the words we need to sustain us. The Book is a huge, accessible repository of testimony about the mysteries and catastrophes and wonders that we experience. We're there to sustain the Book, too, with what we sing, write, and compose. When you write a poem, it's here in time, functioning in your own individual life, and maybe the lives of the people around you. But your poem also goes into the Book, where it has its own life, the span of which may be longer and much different than you've imagined. (pgs. 67-68)

Image: You've talked about the different functions of philosophy, religion, and poetry. Can you say something about what role philosophy and religion play for you in the writing of your own poetry?

GO: Religion, philosophy, poetry - these are three huge cultural repositories of meaning. And we need meanings to live. One of the crucial events of my life was my brother's death in a hunting accident when I was twelve. He was eight. I was holding the gun, and it killed him. I killed him. That was a sudden cataclysmic experience of loss and guilt and grief - and also silence, because in my family, as in many, grief leads to silence, and each member feels a moral duty to silently lift up their own individual, invisible cross of feeling and carry it with them to the grave. On that very same day my brother died, a friend of my parents came into my room, where I was hiding and crying, and, intending to comfort me, said, "Peter is all right. He's already with Jesus. He's sitting down right now at God's table." The image she presented was vivid to me from a number of stained-glass windows I'd seen, probably even one in the church I attended - Jesus sharing a meal with others. But that day, every time I closed my eyes - and I really couldn't open them much that day, I tried to keep them closed - I saw my brother dead at my feet. That was the last image I had of him in the world. Her image of Peter happy and living in heaven and my image of him lying dead at my feet collided - and the stained-glass scene shattered - the image of his inert body abolished any other-world possibility for me. That death and my mother's sudden death two years later abolished al easy and consoling meanings, meanings dependent on security and love. And they established for me the vivid possibility that as a mortal being one could vanish at any moment. In my mother's case, again, it was overnight. That's a particularly startling form of loss. (pg. 70)

...what I love about lyric poetry is that, like the stars, it's just an array. It's an open system that's mysteriously radiant with significance. (pg. 71)

...we want and need to turn our feelings into rhythmic language. (pg. 72)

As A young poet I had faith that images could incarnate meanings and reveal them in a non-rational vivid way. (pg. 73)

GO:...I've taken to trying to persuade my students that there are two aspects of poetry-writing: craft and quest. Craft is everything that you could possibly learn about writing poems, working with language - and the good news is that you're going to spend your whole life on it and only conquer the smallest corner of it. Craft is a vast, mysterious realm, and you may be frustrated exploring it, but you won't be bored because there's always more you don't know, things you long to do but can't. In my opinion, you can never master craft, and that's marvelous. But just as important is quest. Why are you as an individual drawn to poetry? Why is poetry knocking on your door and saying: "There's something I want to do with you?" How does your life intersect with this ambition to write poems? It's exciting to try to answer those and related questions as a young poet. One way of approaching those questions is by considering the poets you most love - because they are your imaginative family, your poetry family, and who they are is almost as important to your development as your biological family was to your earlier life. To find your imaginative relatives - Great-great-grandfather Wordsworth, or made Great-great-uncle William Blake, or strange and amazing Aunt Emily Dickinson. That necessity for young poets to read everything - it's partly to expand your craft knowledge, but just as important is to find your spiritual kin, to fill your poetic family tree. Part of becoming a poet is being reborn into poetry, and your poetic parents and all your relative - they're the poets you love most.

Image: It sounds very Christian.

GO: Well, you're born again as a poet. That's a powerful experience many young poets go through - a spiritual experience. Becoming a poet is obviously not a sensible career choice. There must be a spiritual dimension to it, or else you're an idiot. If poetry were simply an ego experience, it would be foolish, even depressing, but it's not. We all know that. (pgs. 74-75)

Image: You're teaching a class called "How Poetry Can Save Your Life." How can it do that?

GO: It did save my life. You meet many people whose lives were saved by poetry. We're in danger of dying all of the time - not physically, but of living our lives as if we were dead. All of us lapse into death in life, into an unawareness that being alive is a blessing and a gift, and the only gift we're going to be given...Poets are those who have been saved by poetry, and sometimes their task is to help others survive and regain vitality and discover meaning in existence...The making of poems is the making of meanings. To write a lytic poem is to take the confusion and chaos inside you and translate it into words...When you suffer trauma, you mostly do that passively, as a victim. But when you translate that experience into words and shape it, you become active. You are not longer a passive endurer of experience, but an active shaper of it. You've redeemed something from that chaos. Writing a poem can save your life, and reading a poem can show you that you are not alone. (pgs. 78-79)

Andy Whitman reflects on the music of Bruce Springsteen
"Born to Run was the album that launched Springsteen's career. And in this age of MP3 singles and downloadable cell phone ring tones, it is worth noting that it was intended to be heard as an album, a cycle of songs." (pg. 99)

"All of it, Springsteen insists, is worth telling. All of it, in all its gritty mundaneness, is sacred." (pg. 101)

"I finally figured out that people are pretty much the same wherever you go...There are no unimportant lives, and there are no unimportant moments." (pg. 102)

Friday, October 15, 2010


The itsy, bitsy piggy climbed up the waterspout,
down came the rain and washed the porker out;
up came the sun and dried up all the rain
and the farmer had some bacon to nibble on again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Weeping Willow by the stream,
letting down her hair of green,
tussled by the passing breeze,
a mournful maiden of all trees.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Henry David Thoreau

"Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul is the work of the soul, and good for either is the work of the other."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Moon Man Haiku

The man on the moon—
I consider him cheesy;
never mind, he rocks.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Steven Wright

"Why don't they make the whole plane out of that black box stuff."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

IF: transportation

one-line pen and ink

Imagination: the fastest transportation.

visit Illustration Friday

Friday, October 8, 2010


What an irony that we gather leaves
in brown paper bags that used to be trees.

Sunday, October 3, 2010