Friday, December 14, 2018



Writing about something does  conjure it and gives it power.  I see that  on this blog over and over again.When I start a line of thought or memory new instances come to my mind and new avenues to explore.

Sometimes  putting something into words disarms it, and it no longer has  such power over me.  It is out there in the world--it is separate from me. No longer just in my head or darkening my soul.

Another consequence in writing about something that happened a long time ago is that it opens up some of the old memory files in my  brain. And it seems that one thing leads to another.  That is why I sometimes go back to things because  now that I have opened that old shut door in my memory other aspects of the day or time or place come forward.  I see them as glad to come into the light of day, willing to dance again and to have their story told.

Also the nature of my dreams or night time awakenings may change.  A name that I have not consciously considered for years is  some how in my head again. As if asking for some attention or hoping to have his or her story told.

I saw that most dramatically in the case of  BOBBY SANDS. His name came into my head after I wrote the blog entry on Patrick Pearse who was one of the Irish Revolutionary  poets I wanted to feature in  my Poetry Workshop on POETS WHO CHANGED THE WORLD.
I thought I was done with that,  and suddenly I awoke with an accusing  phrase in my head--"How can you not mention Bobby Sands?"
That lead me to  research and purchase books that have been written about him since his death, and to seek out collections of his poetry that were not available  while he was struggling  in a British prison.
I had been active in those days of the hunger strike, and I had cared deeply about all ten who died. However, I had not pursued that interest  after the Hunger Strike was over. 

Reading about Bobby and growing to appreciate his work as a poet, I was able to see that he fit into the ancient Irish tradition of the Bard.  Also Bobby's own favorite poet was a woman, Ethna  Carberry, who died at the beginning of the 20th century.  Looking into her work lead me to see how many Irish women poets have been overlooked and I  explored that subject. So you see how these lines of inquiry open up one into another.


We recognize that sentence as a title of a short story by Flannery O'Connor. But there is an earlier source  that makes the spiritual meaning much clearer.

Everything That Rises Must Converge refers to a work by the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin titled the "Omega Point": "Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge."

That comforts me that our spiritual life is bringing us to a great convergence of souls who have made a similar ascent from all sorts of origins.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Now it's personal--I fell down last week in the driveway and could not get up! I yelled so loud that  a neighbor came over and then she went and got another neighbor who was raking his yard. They had no problem, and as soon as I stood I could feel that my legs were weight bearing and except for a foot that had twisted under me and a  bruised tailbone, I seemed to be basically OK,

 My father was an amateur boxer and he gave me a boxer's advice when I was a little girl.  He told me to take the long count.  I used that phrase as the refrain in one of my ghazals and here it is.

Ghazal Take the Long Count

You are going to get knocked down, yes, you are.
Life will knock you down. What next? Take the long count.

You just over swing, lose your balance, catch a roundhouse.
Watch his jab, a swarmer applied the brake: the long count.

Tripped yourself up, it feels like Kid Gavilan pounding.
Then you meet the canvas. Piece of cake, the long count.

Don't jump to your feet to show that you can. Surprise!
That was just a stumble, a little mistake—the long count.

No, stay there, lay still, you deserve a rest, breathe.
Relax, think of Tunney and Dempsey, fake their long count.

When he reaches “eight”, begin to get up very slowly.
Stand, shuffle a bit, just stand don't shake the long count.

The ref looks you over, check you out, don't rush to the guy.
He waits in the neutral corner, now forsake the long count.

Make him come to you, he's dying to finish you off.
All done with dying, Norma, you're awake- the long count.

Yes, I am in recovery mode which is my version of the long count in daily life.
I do feel better now that a  few days have passed. My foot and tailbone are not aching as much and my back is more normal. But I do feel compromised. I have not been outside since it happened because I'm wary of the concrete stairs coming into the house. I also am going to enforce my  habits of getting home way before twilight. 

I still had my personal trainer Ed come on the next day.  It was a temptation to cancel, but then I decided that even if  I did not do as much as usual, it would be better if  he saw me and could see the extent of the change.

In a funny way the enforced pause has made me more a part of ADVENT. We have a little living tree an Alberta Spruce.  I ordered it from Breck's gifts complete with tiny lights and  wooden birds as decorations.  No need to plug it in, it has its own battery pack and switch.

Today the feeling of exhaustion has left.  I do feel relieved also because the down time has enabled me to get my Xmas shopping finished online.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


I have to tell this good news to somebody!
So I guess I will tell my blog readers. I only know some of you personally, but my statistics now say that over the years you number in the thousands, and that makes you special to me.

So here goes nothing-- Yesterday I received a phone call from Tina Cane, the Poet Laureate of Rhode Island. She called to tell me that I had won the poetry in motion RIPTA contest. The  poem selected will be on the RIPTA buses during the month of January.
I was surprised and really thrilled,  I had sent in an entry in November at the suggestion of Patti McAlpine, the poet who organized the Galway Kinnel Poetry Festival in Pawtucket.

I  submitted three poems in three different forms: a sonnet, a linked  sijo and a contemporary ghazal (pronounce guzzle). I like to play with traditional forms because they are so rich, and they must continue to sing in our own times with contemporary content and not be seen as relics of the past.

The poem that won is a poem about Pawtucket. It is actually an homage to a great classic poem of American modernism, HOWL by Allen Ginsberg. I used a line from that poem: "I am with you in Rockland" becomes the refrain of my ghazal "I am with you in Pawtucket".



I trembled as I sneaked a smoke with O'Dowl, I am with you in Pawtucket.
A leather-jacketed boy with a scowl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

On the Bridge I feared some gossip, who knew my mother, was sitting
spying from the bus, cheek and jowl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

Me standing there: cigarette dangling, blue uniform skirt rolled
thigh high, turtleneck my only cowl, I am with you in in Pawtucket.

Hiding my Catholic school badge, mouth smeared with white lipstick.
Eyes outlined in kohl like a baby owl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

Where is little Lucille, who would skate with me those cold starry nights?
At the Blue Pond we were on the prowl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

Where is Roland-- red sweater, white '51 Ford with fairy fringe?
All dazzling smiles, jokes, no scowl. I am with you in Pawtucket.

That boy I met in the Back lots showed me where he hunted.
Seeking flints, shard of Indian bowl. I am with you in Pawtucket.

Oh,we married for a while; our son called last night.So where am I?
I read Bronte; hear Heathcliff's yowl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

First and Last Chance to walk past Peerless, Shartenberg's,Windsor.
The LeRoy for a late show--one last howl, I am with you in Pawtucket.

Stroll up Broad to Warner's Ballroom, sounds of “Harlem Nocturne”.
Blues sax paints the world, mirror ball rolls, I am with you in Pawtucket.

Speckled light on gingham, your cheek pressed to mine.“This is our song.
Norma, it'll always be our song,” you growl. I am with you in Pawtucket.

Sunday, December 2, 2018


I woke up ten mornings ago with these lyrics  repeating in my head and I thought--that wreck must have happened in NOVEMBER  and it did.

NOVEMBER 10, 1975

Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

Music and lyrics ©1976 by Gordon Lightfoot

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down 
of the big lake they called "Gitche Gumee."
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
when the skies of November turn gloomy.
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty,
that good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
when the "Gales of November" came early. 

The ship was the pride of the American side
coming back from some mill in Wisconsin.
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
with a crew and good captain well seasoned,
concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
when they left fully loaded for Cleveland.
And later that night when the ship's bell rang,
could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
and a wave broke over the railing.
And ev'ry man knew, as the captain did too
'twas the witch of November come stealin'.
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
when the Gales of November came slashin'.
When afternoon came it was freezin' rain
in the face of a hurricane west wind.

When suppertime came the old cook came on deck
Sayin' "Fellas, it's too rough t'feed ya."
At seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in; he said,
(**2010 lyric change: At 7 p.m., it grew dark, it was then he said,)
"Fellas, it's bin good t'know ya!"
The captain wired in he had water comin' in
and the good ship and crew was in peril.
And later that night when 'is lights went outta sight
came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Does any one know where the love of God goes
when the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
if they'd put fifteen more miles behind 'er.
They might have split up or they might have capsized;
they may have broke deep and took water.
And all that remains is the faces and the names
of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
in the rooms of her ice-water mansion.
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams;
the islands and bays are for sportsmen.
And farther below Lake Ontario
takes in what Lake Erie can send her,
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
with the Gales of November remembered.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
in the "Maritime Sailors' Cathedral."
The church bell chimed 'til it rang twenty-nine times
for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
of the big lake they call "Gitche Gumee."
"Superior," they said, "never gives up her dead
when the gales of November come early!"

PLAY IT ON  YOU TUBE BY GORDON LIGHTFOOT.  It will stay in your head for days.

SO now I am reminded by the great  biography of Bobby Sands JUST AN UNFINISHED SONG  by O'Hearn which relates how Bobby loved this ballad and thought that it was the greatest song that told a story.  He sang it aloud during the prison protest and he taught it to the other men who were  imprisoned with  him.

  He confided to "The Dark", his comrade Hughes, that he wanted to write a  song about the Irish struggle to the same tune as the Edmund Fitzgerald.  He did that as O'Hearn relates that one night when they were having a sing song to keep up morale one of the other prisoners asked Bobby to sing The Wreck. 
Bobby said that he had been putting new words to it.
Then he sang THE VOYAGE a song about United Irish  prisoners who were being transported to Tasmania on a ship called The Gull.

Here are some of the lyrics that Bobby sets to the tune of The Wreck:
It was 1803 when we sailed out to sea
And away from the sweet town of Derry
For Australia bound and if we didn't drown
The mark of the  fetter we'd carry.

Here is another verse that ties together the United Irishmen and the Blanketmen:

In our own smelling slime we were lost for a time
Hoping God in his mercy would claim us
But our spirits shone high like the stars in the sky
We were rebels and no man would tame us.

Try singing these words to the tune of the Wreck and you will  see how well they fit.

Bobby was able to pass from life through suffering  to death with so much grace because he had the certainty of a martyr.
He knew that his cause, the cause of Irish Freedom,  was just and the British Imperial  claim was unjust and would be judged so by History and by God.

Thursday, November 29, 2018



Who am I writing about?  I am thinking of Zacchaeus the wealthy tax collector to whose house Jesus invited Himself.(Luke 19:1-10)  And He does the same  for every single home everywhere.  Yes, into every home in the Bucket He would like to be invited for dinner. Stay with me now, please, Every  household  has several weeks now to get ready for His coming.

When I first heard this gospel as a child  it made me laugh out loud. To picture a  wealthy and corrupt tax collector so eager to see Jesus  but too short to see over the crowd that he had to climb a sycamore tree. And that is where  Jesus  spotted him and called him by name. 

That is a funny picture and it was Jesus who got the joke. Maybe He appreciated the eagerness and rewarded it. Jesus wanted to dine with him and He wants to dine with each of us wherever and whoever we are. He is always knocking at the door of our hearts.

Being called out by name delighted the tax-collector who was an object of scorn and hatred for most. And the kindness of Jesus immediately affected the tax man and without being asked  he turned to Jesus and made a quick promise: "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone, I shall repay it four times over."

How did Jesus receive this indirect confession and  self-chosen penance?
"Today salvation has come to this house," the tax  man cleaned up his act. So should we. 
Aren't those the words that we want to hear?

Throughout the entire season of Advent, Jesus is calling us each out by name and wondering what we are doing wandering around shopping malls when He wants to be a guest in our home.
So we have the Season of  Advent to clean up our act and get the house of our  hearts ready to receive a BABY. 
What is more wonderful than the coming of a Baby into this world? 

Saturday, November 24, 2018


At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. —1 Corinthians 13:12


I remember  the  song that I liked when I was young 
"To Know Him is to Love him." 

To know know know him
Is to love love love him
Just to see that smile
Makes my life worthwhile
To know know know him
Is to love love love him
And I do
And I do
And I do
Oh I'll be good to him
I'll bring joy to him oh oh
Everyone says there'll come a day
When I'll walk alongside of him
To know know know him
Is to love love love him
And I do
I really do
And I do
Why can't he see?
How blind here he be?
Someday he'll see
That he was meant just for me, oh oh oh oh
To know know know him
Is to love love love him
Just to see that smile
Makes my life worthwhile
To know know know him
Is to love love love him
And I do
I really do
And I do\
Songwriters: Phil Spector

I do recall listening to it in 1958  and singing along and thinking that is the love we all want but we can never have. No one completely knows us, and if  anyone did he would not love us.  It was one of those strange insights that  came to me--the thought that  only God does that. He completely knows us and HE completely loves us. He  made us and He put a  bit of his Divinity into each and every one of us.

We spend our lives looking for a human  being to do that for us, but we are stymied by the mystery of the other. Their OTHERNESS stops us from enjoying complete unity.

But it does not stop GOD--as  HE advances He sees  Himself and all His Love reflected  back. IMAGO DEI--He made us in His Image and although  we may do many things that make that Image hard for other humans to see, God never  loses sight of it. That is why we have all those  images of God  pursuing  us. Like the GOOD SHEPHERD going after the Lost Sheep

Or as in that haunting poem  by Francis Thompson that I sometimes  find  myself reciting as I fall asleep late at night:


I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
   I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
   Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
             Up vistaed hopes I sped;
             And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
   From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
             But with unhurrying chase,
             And unperturb√®d pace,
     Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
             They beat—and a Voice beat
             More instant than the Feet—
     'All things betray thee, who betrayest Me'.
With people we are always looking through a glass darkly but not with Jesus. 
He is like a  clear piece of glass showing us the  possibilities of our humanity and   presenting a window  here on earth to the love of Divinity.  Anytime now that I read  the New Testament I see how much he was  instructing us   Then I think of all the instances that are probably not recalled in the gospel selected to tell us his Infinite story of 33 years on earth  in  4 limited accounts. 

 How we long for accounts of his childhood told to us by Mary or Joseph. What did he  do as a teenager?  What about  all through his early manhood before he was  30 and began his  3 year journey to Golgotha?

All that will be shown to us when  the Angels lead us into Paradise.

Thursday, November 22, 2018


YES, NOW IT CAN BE TOLD-- BUT YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST. ( See blog entry for 11 November on the game with the Titans).

I am not bragging--oh maybe I am-- but I had a visceral reaction to Tom's visceral reaction when he could not run with the ball lobbed to him in a trick play. That trickery turned into a trick knee and now he is on the injured list after a  by-week.  But if you watched the game that day and if you have had a physical injury, you will also see the way he  seems stunned by the reception. He has the ball but he cannot just turn and  run with it at high speed. He thinks he can--but he can't.
Those quick muscle reflexes are not firing and  instead he stumbles and falls without any help from the Titan Tackles. They took him out of that game and he has not played since. Let us see how he does this weekend,