Saturday, December 1, 2012

Coffeeshop Writers Four - Barnes and Noble for Our Library / Poem: Life Takes on New Meaning in the Emergency Room - The First Bird of Morning

Today, December 1, is the day to buy whatever you want at the Willow Grove B&N to support The Upper Moreland Library.

I wanted to get there early, so after breakfast I drove over, there were barely any cars in the lot, and parked, as usual, far away so I could get a walk in and bought $50 worth of merchandise including decaf coffee.

Mostly I wanted to buy Far From the Tree, the latest book by Andrew Solomon, for the ND library. In 962 pages he talks about people who are "different."
“They are deaf or dwarfs; they have Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia or multiple severe disabilities; they are prodigies; they are people conceived in rape or who commit crimes; they are transgender.” 
 Standing second in line, a good-looking young man asked me, "How long is it gonna take you to read that book?"

"A very long time," I said.

"My mom is reading it," he said, "and I just wanted to know."

On a hunch, I said to him, "I bought it for my support group for people with depression and bipolar disorder."

Yep! He has anxiety and depression. I gave him my card.

Scott went to B&N later in the day.

Mobbed, he said. He spent $100, including a couple of movies, one of which we'll watch tonite.

BUT, he forgot to mention the magic words - "My purchases go towards the Upper Moreland Library."

He'll return tomro with the receipt.

Now it was 11 in the morning. Time to start writing my poem for the Writer's Group.

Currently I have checked outa the library the newest poetry book by Mary Oliver. "A Thousand Mornings." I am on my second reading of the small book.

She is America's best nature poet, going out in the morning in Provincetown, MA, with a notebook and pen.

Once she forgot her pen, so she stuck pencils in all the trees.

You can read some of her poetry here.

As a teenager she lived with Edna St Vincent Millay to learn the art of poetry.

What shall I write about?


I sat in the chair while they strapped a breathing mask on Donna’s face
she gulped huge breaths and said I’m worse, my heart is pounding
keep it on as long as you can, said the nurse, it’s pumping medicine into
your lungs

I remembered fishing at Neshaminy Creek
where the sunnyfish I caught
gasped for breath
eyes watching the water

We’re not gonna force you, said the nurse, but
Finally Donna pulled it off
I know what’s wrong, she said.
I always have to diagnose myself because of the incompetence of doctors.

Stainless steel rods were stitched in her spine when she was fourteen
A novel procedure by Dr. Herndon that works until you’re on Social Security
then twists your body into a pretzel, so you call out to God to stop the pain
that twists your groin like red-hot knitting needles

pain does not kill
lack of oxygen will

She nearly passes out when they take X-rays
This is where Simon was diagnosed with lung cancer, I say
and while waiting for her,
pray with young Lance Johnson who thinks
he’s having another heart attack
“I felt my heart pop open when my girlfriend broke up with me”
Our hand-holding is interrupted by the doctor Donna doesn’t like
the one who asked her, “So you smoke?”

He’s skinny, all in green, with a label that announces an Italian name
We call him “fucking asshole”
but are brightened when he comes in and says
The X-rays came out fine.

Donna and I hug when shortly before midnight
we say goodbye in the parking lot
I trot back to my car
the night is cold and I watch my breath
ascend to the stars
I wonder
Is God watching?


But Mary Oliver was pulling at me. I wanted to write a nature poem. Here's how it came out.


Sleep is never easy
I look around my room
Burgundy drapes with Chinese patterns
mom made for me
Two-door closet I painted with swirls
of Benjamin Moore when we first moved in
a Sony radio, marked with White-Out, so I
can see where to change the stations

A baby who needs music all night long?
Like the heartbeat of mother when I was
inside her?
What will happen when she dies of old age?

I fall asleep when the mysterious forces
gather me up and take me away
There to merge with other sleepers
on Cowbell Road and through this
vast neighborhood of tall and
broken trees
out across America

Settled in, under my feather comforter
and father’s tiger blanket,
I picture myself from on high
from God’s very throne
his sleeping child
sixty-seven this month
awakened by the
first bird of morning
Chirrup! Chirrup!      


Linda wrote a poem about a "Lost Soul," someone the two of us met at a Coffee Shop gathering.

Donna wrote "Good News," a prayer-poem about the new job she will start on Monday.

Carly wrote "Cardiac Rehab on Maryland Road" which she will give as a thank-you gift to the women who helped her with the strenuous exercises she learned after her heart operation earlier this year.

Doesn't this make you wanna go to bed and put the blankets over your head?

Carly told the group she had a life-altering experience. She began to meditate with Deepak Chopra. We followed her lead, closed our eyes, and meditated on two Sanskrit words that mean I AM.

Here's the 21-day challenge.

You can also find him on YouTube.

I prefer listening to this on YouTube.


  1. I want to read the Solomon book. Heard an interview with him on NPR. Do let me know how you like it.

    Nice poem and the picture it paints for me.

    Got to run. Several people I knew died in past almost two weeks and extra conversations and things around this have kept me visit. Will catch up.

  2. thanks for catching up, iris! sorry about your friends, terrible. i haven't even started the solomon book. i hid it so i wouldn't be tempted to start....i've got half dozen half-read including a new version of grimm's fairy tales which is wonderful to read.