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Random Thoughts, December Edition

  • With the Winter Solstice now securely in the rearview mirror, people can take good cheer: The days are getting longer! (Not that anyone notices at this hectic time of year.)
  • Here in New England, the Solstice was celebrated with sheets of rain and pillowcases of wind, temps in the 60s Fahrenheit. All fore of our fathers would shake their heads in disbelief. They remember when “winter was winter” in New England and you walked to school through six feet of snow, uphill both ways.
  • But there’s no global warming, oh no. How do I know? The scientists in the White House told me so.
  • Speaking of, I know of one chimney Santa is taking a pass on (shades of “The Madness of King George”).
  • Wait a minute. Three days till Christmas? OK, then. I can finally listen to Christmas carols. Turned them on just now by clicking iTunes and the first song I heard was Judy Collins’ “The Little Road to Bethlehem.”
  • Let’s just say I could listen to Judy’s voice from here to eternity.
  • And wait a minute. Do I actually have to start wrapping gifts? I met a lady last week who sneered at the whole concept. “I put things in gift bags now,” she sniffed. “Buy them marked down after Christmas every year.”
  • Who says “bag lady” has a negative connotation?
  • Yes, a lot of poetry books on the Christmas wish list this year, but new books are always a minefield, in poetry especially.
  • Just read a review of a book about books, Elisa Gabbert’s The Word Pretty, and there was an excerpt about judging books by their covers and their titles. Raise your hand if guilty until proven innocent.
  • You there! Raise your hand, in the name of that endangered species “honesty”!
  • (Oops. I’m back to a certain chimney, aren’t I….)
  • Anyway, back to Elisa Gabbert (who is also a poet). She opined that the best titles are spondees like Bleak House and White Noise and Jane Eyre.
  • What’s a spondee, you respondee? “A poetic foot consisting of two equally accented syllables, as in daylight and nightfall,” according to Edward Hirsch’s resource, A Poet’s Glossary (buy it and you, too, can be a poet!).
  • It all has to do with Lovely Rita, Meter Maid or something. Back to Hirsch: “The meter of a poem can slow us down or speed us up; it can focus our attention; it can hypnotize us.” He then compares it to ocean waves. You know. The things you stare at when you need to be mesmerized but good because the cruel world is bullying you.
  • Then there’s anapest, which is always anapestering spondees by one-upping them. Three syllables this time, “two unaccented followed by one accented, as in the words in a war” (accent on WAR, as you would expect from this world).
  • Do you know any poets who get into meter and form poems in a big way? Me, too (a spondee, you see?).
  • It’s like those English majors who love diagramming sentences. Math majors in English majors’ clothing, I call them.
  • I don’t know about your house, but every time I walk through the TV room, my wife is watching Hallmark movies. Like mac and cheese, they’re the comfort food of television viewers.
  • I lay blame at that big white chimney again. Pay too much attention to the news and you’ll be on lines of Hallmark, too.
  • “This is your brain on escapism…” (cue image of egg frying in pan).
  • Speaking of front page news, I see the U.S. government has been shut down because Mexico refuses to pay for someone else’s wall. Come on, chicos. Make Mexico Great Again!
  • If you could take only one book of poems to a deserted (except for singular book) island, which book would it be? No cheating now. I see that collected Shakespeare’s Complete Plays you’re packing!
  • Some people in these parts are bummed because we will be missing yet another White Christmas. I suggest we petition Congress to move the holiday to Feb. 25th, when white is more likely to have your back.
  • You laugh, but Congress messes with time zones, so why not calendars?
  • If you haven’t seen it, I leave you with Saturday Night Live’s true-to-life skit, “Best Christmas Ever.”
  • Now you go out and have a best Christmas ever, too. And if you don’t “do” Christmas for non- or alternative religious reasons, just have a good 25 December, won’t you? You deserve it!