TCS: Life Likes a Little Mess – Poems for Tesselation Day

. . Good Morning!


Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings.
This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning
a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.


I believe that patterns of emotional behavior
are set down before adolescence. And I think
that if you have not observed kindness, you
will not recognize it. You have to experience
kindness in order to be kind.

– E. L. Konigsburg


Today is World Tesselation Day, started in 2016 by Emily Grosvenor, author of Tessalation!, a children’s book about tesselations (patterns) in nature; she chose
June 17 because it is the birthday of M.C. Escher, famous for the complicated
patterns in his prints and drawings.

The Cambridge Dictionary tells us:

  • pattern noun (way)
    a particular way in which something is done or organized, or
    in which something happens
  • pattern noun (shapes)
    a regular arrangement of lines, shapes, or colors
    also a design or set of shapes that show how to make something

There are patterns all over the place, but sometimes we look for them in places where they are not, and sometimes we find them where we didn’t expect them. And according to our first poet, all of them “need a snarl.”


Pattern and Snarl

by Amit Majmudar

Life likes a little mess. All patterns need a snarl.
The best patterns know how best to heed a snarl.

Every high style, every strict form was once nonce.
The best way to save a snagged pattern? Repeat the snarl.

“Pattern and Snarl” first appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, September 2012 issue


by Amit Majmudar

Well yes, I said, my mother wears a dot.
I know they said “third eye” in class, but it’s not
an eye eye, not like that. It’s not some freak
third eye that opens on your forehead like
on some Chernobyl baby. What it means
is, what it’s showing is, there’s this unseen
eye, on the inside. And she’s marking it.
It’s how the X that says where treasure’s at
is not the treasure, but as good as treasure.—
All right. What I said wasn’t half so measured.
In fact, I didn’t say a thing. Their laughter
had made my mouth go dry. Lunch was after
World History; that week was India—myths,
caste system, suttee, all the Greatest Hits.
The white kids I was sitting with were friends,
at least as I defined a friend back then.
So wait, said Nick, does your mom wear a dot?
I nodded, and I caught a smirk on Todd—
She wear it to the shower? And to bed?—
while Jesse sucked his chocolate milk and Brad
was getting ready for another stab.
I said, Hand me that ketchup packet there.
And Nick said, What? I snatched it, twitched the tear,
and squeezed a dollop on my thumb and worked
circles till the red planet entered the house of war
and on my forehead for the world to see
my third eye burned those schoolboys in their seats,
their flesh in little puddles underneath,
pale pools where Nataraja cooled his feet.

“Dothead” from Dothead, © 2016 by Amit Majmudar – Alfred A. Knopf, Inc

Amit Majmudar (1979 – ) American diagnostic nuclear radiologist, novelist and poet born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of immigrants. Poet Zara Raab describes his poetry as able to “reveal tenderness in their humanity and the precision of a surgeon in their details.” His poetry collection 0˚, 0˚ was a finalist for a Poetry Society of America’s Norman Faber First Book Award, and his collection Heaven and Earth was chosen for a Donald Justice Prize



by Amy Lowell

I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden paths.

My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whale-bone and brocade.

And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

And the splashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,

And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.
I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.

I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover,
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,

All about us in the open afternoon—
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.
Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.

It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
“Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday sen’night.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman.
“No,” l told him.
“See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer.”

And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, “It shall be as you have said.”

Now he is dead.
In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down,

In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

 “Patterns” from The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell, © renewed 1983 by Houghton Mifflin Company 

Amy Lowell (1874-1925 ) American poet born in Brookline Massachusetts: considered part of the imagist school of poetry; The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell was first published in 1925, the year of her death, and then re-issued in 1955. Lowell was awarded the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry posthumously


Arts & Sciences

by Philip Appleman

 “Everyone carries around in the back of
his mind the wreck of a thing he calls
his education.” —Stephen Leacock


Here’s a nice thought we can save:
The luckiest thing about sex
Is: you happen to be so concave
In the very same place I’m convex.


Your thighs always blossomed like orchids,
You had rose hips when we danced,
But the question that always baffled me was:
How can I get into those plants?


Diversification’s a virtue,
And as one of its multiple facets,
When we’re merging, it really won’t hurt you
To share your disposable assets.


Russian you would be deplorable,
But your Lapland is simply Andorrable
So my Hungary fantasy understands
Why I can’t keep my hands off your Netherlands.


Alexander composed like the Pope,
Swift was of course never tardy,
And my Longfellow’s Wildest hope
Is to find you right next to my Hardy.


If E is how eager I am for you,
And m is your marvelous body,
And c means the caring I plan for you,
Then E = Magna Cum Laude.


You’re my favorite tune, my symphony,
So please do me this favor:
Don’t ever change, not even a hemi-


King Arthur, betrayed by Sir Lancelot,
Blamed the poets who’d praised him, and spake:
“That knight’s nights are in the Queen’s pantsalot,
So from now on your art’s for Art’s sake.”


I couldn’t do Goyas or Grecos,
And my Rembrandts had zero panache,
But after I junked all my brushes,
My canvases made quite a splash.


  1. Blaise Pascal
    Pascal, reflecting tearfully
    On our wars for the Holy Pigeon,
    Said, “Alas, we do evil most cheerfully
    When we do it for religion.”
  1. René Descartes
    The unruly dactyls and anapests
    Were thumping their wild dithyrambic
    When Descartes with a scowl very sternly stressed:
    “I think, therefore iambic!”
  1. Thomas Hobbes
    Better at thinking than loving,
    He deserved his wife’s retort:
    On their wedding night, she told him,
    “Tom, That was nasty, brutish – and short!”

© 2006 by Philip Appleman. from Poetry magazine  

Philip Appleman (1926 – ) American science scholar, highly regarded as a Darwin expert; biting social commentator and satiric novelist. Appleman is also an outstanding poet who is by turns hilarious, insightful and moving. Poetry collections include  Darwin’s Bestiary (1986), Let There be Light (1991), Karma, Dharma, Pudding & Pie (2009) and Perfidious Proverbs and Other Poems (2013). He has been honored with many awards, including a Pushcart Prize, the Castagnola Award, and the Morley Award from the Poetry Society of America



  • Bird-Fish – by M. C. Escher (Coffee Mug)
  • Snagged sweater
  • Nataraja the Cosmic Dancer
  • Portrait of Mrs. Abington in ‘Love for Love’ – by Sir Joshua Reynolds
  • Hydrology – by Ragellah Rourke


About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
This entry was posted in Poetry, The Coffee Shop and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.