TCS: A New Year – Laughter that Cold and Blizzards Could Not Kill

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.


“You know how I always dread the whole year? Well,
this time I’m only going to dread one day at a time.”
— Charlie Brown, ‘Peanuts’

“Come, gentlemen, I hope we
shall drink down all unkindness”
— William Shakespeare, 
The Merry Wives of Windsor: Act 1, Scene 1


12 poets born this week


January 9

1728 Thomas Warton (the Younger) born, English poet, literary historian, and critic; appointed as Poet Laureate of the UK (1785-1790); author of The History of English Poetry, from the Close of the Eleventh to the Commencement of the Eighteenth Century; best known for his book-length poem “The Pleasures of Melancholy.”

from The Pleasures of Melancholy

by Thomas Warton

Her fav’rite midnight haunts. The laughing scenes
Of purple Spring, where all the wanton train
Of Smiles and Graces seem to lead the dance
In sportive round, while from their hands they show’r
Ambrosial blooms and flow’rs, no longer charm;
Tempe, no more I court thy balmy breeze,
Adieu green vales! embroider’d meads adieu!

Beneath yon’ ruin’d Abbey’s moss-grown piles
Oft let me sit, at twilight hour of Eve,
Where thro’ some western window the pale moon
Pours her long-levell’d rule of streaming light;
While sullen sacred silence reigns around,
Save the lone Screech-owl’s note, whose bow’r is built
Amid the mould’ring caverns dark and damp,
And the calm breeze, that rustles in the leaves.


1942Judy Malloy born in Boston, American poet and innovator of online interactive and collaborative fiction and poetry websites; beginning with Uncle Roger in 1986, Malloy composed works in both new media literature and hypertext fiction. She was a Visiting Lecturer at Princeton University in Social Media Poetics and Electronic Literature (2013-2014). Other works include Its name was Penelope; The Roar of Destiny Emanated from the Refrigerator; and Revelations of Secret Surveillance.

The Fabric of Everyday Life

by Judy Malloy

winter hats in many colors reside in a basket in the hall
in the gaps of the Internet of things
a pile of clean laundry on the bed
in the one-story house where we live

a blue bowl fills with apples from the farm
You deactivated the lights that controlled when we went to bed
a blue bowl fills with apples from the farm
in the studio, there is a bookcase that ignores my requests
a never empty six-pack of spring water resides in the refrigerator
At midnight, hand-painted deer run around in a circle on the Austrian jug
who reads the words that you write with wireless chalk?
your black gloves return home when you ask
two blue goblets suggest a long ago party
one by one the boats on the shower curtain sail out of the harbor
a never empty six-pack of spring water resides in the refrigerator
the puddles that our never-worn boots leave in the hall

where is the sound of the modem?

two blue goblets suggest a long ago party
white wildflowers from the meadow
who reads the words that you write with wireless chalk?
the bluegreen dress that I wore to a wedding

“The Fabric of Everyday Life” from (un)continuity: ELO 2020 Virtual Exhibition


January 9

1814 Aubrey Thomas de Vere born in Curragh Chase, in County Limerick; Irish poet, essayist, and critic. He attended Trinity College, Dublin, where the astronomer Sir William Rowan Hamilton introduced him to William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Through his older brother and a cousin, he was introduced to members of the Apostles Club at Cambridge, including Alfred Tennyson. De Vere’s first poetry collection, The Waldenses and other poems, was published in 1842.  He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1851. De Vere never married. In 1854, he was appointed professor of political and social science at Trinity College, but a bout of scarlatina prevented him from fulfilling his duties, so he resigned the post in 1858. In 1897, de Vere published Recollections. He died January 21, 1902, at the age of 88.

Love’s Spite

by Aubrey Thomas de Vere

You take a town you cannot keep;
And, forced in turn to fly,
O’er ruins you have made shall leap
Your deadliest enemy!
Her love is yours–and be it so–
But can you keep it? No, no, no!

Upon her brow we gazed with awe,
And loved, and wished to love, in vain,
But when the snow begins to thaw
We shun with scorn the miry plain.
Women with grace may yield: but she
Appeared some Virgin Deity.

Bright was her soul as Dian’s crest
Whitening on Vesta’s fane its sheen:
Cold looked she as the waveless breast
Of some stone Diana at thirteen.
Men loved: but hope they deemed to be
A sweet impossibility!


1887Robinson Jeffers born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania; American poet, playwright, philosopher, pacifist, and conservationist. In 1914, he and his new wife Una first came to Carmel-by-the-Sea in Northern California. He was 26 years old, and he had found his place in the world. They bought land there in 1919. Jeffers reached the height of his popularity in the early 1930s. In the 1940s, his “free adaptation” of the play Medea by Euripedes was a hit on Broadway, even as his star began to wane because he spoke out against America’s imperial ambitions and against the nation’s involvement in WWII. Embittered, he espoused a philosophy of ‘inhumanity’ – that people were detrimental to the Earth and, spurned by an uncaring God, they would eventually become extinct, leaving the planet to heal in a return to Nature. This was not popular in the 1950s. His work was re-discovered in the late 1960s by budding environmentalists, who rallied in the 1970s to save his home and writer’s retreat, his beloved Tor House and Hawk Tower, from developers. The property is now affiliated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Carmel Point

by Robinson Jeffers

The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of surburban houses–
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads–
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.–As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

“Carmel Point” from The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, Three Volumes, edited by Tim Hunt, © 1995 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University – Stanford University Press


1928 Philip Levine born Detroit, American poet and teacher; U.S. Poet Laureate (2011-2012). He was the second of three sons born to Jewish immigrant parents. His father died when he was five years old, and at age 14, he was already working nights in auto factories when a teacher told him, “You write like an angel. Why don’t you think about becoming a writer?” Levin earned an A.B. at Wayne University, then monitored classes at the University of Iowa taught by Robert Lowell and John Berryman. Levine got a mail-order master’s degree in 1954 with a thesis on John Keats’ “Ode to Indolence,” then earned an MFA at the University of Iowa in 1957. He taught for over 30 years in the English department of California State University, Fresno. Most of his best-known poems are about the working-class in Detroit. Levine served on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets from 2000 to 2006, and was appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States (2011–2012). He died of pancreatic cancer in February 2015 at age 87.

Among Children

by Philip Levine

I walk among the rows of bowed heads–
the children are sleeping through fourth grade
so as to be ready for what is ahead,
the monumental boredom of junior high
and the rush forward tearing their wings
loose and turning their eyes forever inward.
These are the children of Flint, their fathers
work at the spark plug factory or truck
bottled water in 5 gallon sea-blue jugs
to the widows of the suburbs. You can see
already how their backs have thickened,
how their small hands, soiled by pig iron,
leap and stutter even in dreams. I would like
to sit down among them and read slowly
from The Book of Job until the windows
pale and the teacher rises out of a milky sea
of industrial scum, her gowns streaming
with light, her foolish words transformed
into song, I would like to arm each one
with a quiver of arrows so that they might
rush like wind there where no battle rages
shouting among the trumpets, Hal Ha!
How dear the gift of laughter in the face
of the 8 hour day, the cold winter mornings
without coffee and oranges, the long lines
of mothers in old coats waiting silently
where the gates have closed. Ten years ago
I went among these same children, just born,
in the bright ward of the Sacred Heart and leaned
down to hear their breaths delivered that day,
burning with joy. There was such wonder
in their sleep, such purpose in their eyes
dosed against autumn, in their damp heads
blurred with the hair of ponds, and not one
turned against me or the light, not one
said, I am sick, I am tired, I will go home,
not one complained or drifted alone,
unloved, on the hardest day of their lives.
Eleven years from now they will become
the men and women of Flint or Paradise,
the majors of a minor town, and I
will be gone into smoke or memory,
so I bow to them here and whisper
all I know, all I will never know.

“Among Children” appeared in the September 1990 issue of The Atlantic – © 1990 by Philip Levine


1952  – Dorianne Laux born in Augusta, Maine, American poet. She worked as a sanatorium cook, a gas station manager, and a maid, before receiving a B.A. in English from Mills College in 1988, when she was 36 years old. Her first published poetry collection, Awake, appeared two years later. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her second husband, fellow poet Joseph Millar. She is a professor of creative writing at North Carolina State University, and often travels with her husband team-teaching poetry workshops. Laux’s work has won awards, including the Paterson Prize for The Book of Men, and the Oregon Book Award for Facts About the Moon. Her book What We Carry was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Only As the Day is Long: New and Selected, which came out in 2019, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her other poetry collections include The Book of Women and Smoke.


by Dorianne Laux

When you’re cold—November, the streets icy and everyone you pass
homeless, Goodwill coats and Hefty bags torn up to make ponchos—
someone is always at the pay phone, hunched over the receiver

spewing winter’s germs, swollen lipped, face chapped, making the last
tired connection of the day. You keep walking to keep the cold
at bay, too cold to wait for the bus, too depressing the thought

of entering that blue light, the chilled eyes watching you decide
which seat to take: the man with one leg, his crutches bumping
the smudged window glass, the woman with her purse clutched

to her breasts like a dead child, the boy, pimpled, morose, his head
shorn, a swastika carved into the stubble, staring you down.
So you walk into the cold you know: the wind, indifferent blade,

familiar, the gold leaves heaped along the gutters. You have
a home, a house with gas heat, a toilet that flushes. You have
a credit card, cash. You could take a taxi if one would show up.

You can feel it now: why people become Republicans: Get that dog
off the street. Remove that spit and graffiti. Arrest those people huddled
on the steps of the church. If it weren’t for them you could believe in god,

in freedom, the bus would appear and open its doors, the driver dressed
in his tan uniform, pants legs creased, dapper hat: Hello Miss, watch
your step now. But you’re not a Republican. You’re only tired, hungry,

you want out of the cold. So you give up, walk back, step into line behind
the grubby vet who hides a bag of wine under his pea coat, holds out
his grimy 85 cents, takes each step slow as he pleases, releases his coins

into the box and waits as they chink down the chute, stakes out a seat
in the back and eases his body into the stained vinyl to dream
as the chips of shrapnel in his knee warm up and his good leg

flops into the aisle. And you’ll doze off, too, in a while, next to the girl
who can’t sit still, who listens to her Walkman and taps her boots
to a rhythm you can’t hear, but you can see it—when she bops

her head and her hands do a jive in the air—you can feel it
as the bus rolls on, stopping at each red light in a long wheeze,
jerking and idling, rumbling up and lurching off again.

“Democracy” from Facts About The Moon, © 2007 by Dorianne Laux – W.W. Norton


January 11

1825 Bayard Taylor born as John Bayard Taylor in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania to a Quaker family of farmers; American author, poet, translator, literary critic, and diplomat.  He entered the printing business as an apprentice, and published his first book of poems Ximena, or the Battle of the Sierra Morena when he was 19. His work as a journalist for the New York Tribune and other publications led to extensive global travel, and publication in 1846 of Views Afoot, or Europe seen with Knapsack and Staff, the first of his numerous travel books.  Taylor died in Berlin in 1878 at age 53.

Storm Song

by Bayard Taylor

The clouds are scudding across the moon;
A misty light is on the sea;
The wind in the shrouds has a wintry tune,
And the foam is flying free.

Brothers, a night of terror and gloom
Speaks in the cloud and gathering roar;
Thank God, He has given us broad sea-room,
A thousand miles from shore.

Down with the hatches on those who sleep!
The wild and whistling deck have we;
Good watch, my brothers, to-night we’ll keep,
While the tempest is on the sea!

Though the rigging shriek in his terrible grip,
And the naked spars be snapped away,
Lashed to the helm, we’ll drive our ship
In the teeth of the whelming spray!

Hark! how the surges o’erleap the deck!
Hark! how the pitiless tempest raves!
Ah, daylight will look upon many a wreck
Drifting over the desert waves.

Yet, courage, brothers! we trust the wave,
With God above us, our guiding chart.
So, whether to harbor or ocean-grave,
Be it still with a cheery heart!


January 12

1871Eugéne Nielen Marais born, South African journalist, lawyer, naturalist, essayist, and poet in Afrikaans; publisher-editor of the Afrikaner newspaper, Land en Volk; he studied law in England, and nature in the Waterberg Mountains in Pretoria, including termites, puff adders, spitting cobras, and baboons, and wrote his findings in Afrikaans. He was the first person to study the behavior of wild primates. Several of his books on nature have been translated into English, including The Soul of the White Ant: the First Book of Ethology and The Soul of the Ape. He discovered the Waterberg cycad, aptly named Encephalartos eugene-maraisii. 

The Dance of the Rain

by Eugéne Nielen Marais

Oh, the dance of our Sister!
First, over the hilltop she peeps stealthily
and her eyes are shy
and she laughs softly
From afar she begs with her one hand
her wrist-bands shimmering and her bead-work sparkling
softly she calls
She tells the wind about the dance
and she invites it, because the yard is spacious and the wedding large
The big game rush about the plains
they gather on the hilltop
their nostrils flared-up
and they swallow the wind
and they crouch to see her tracks in the sand
The small game, deep down under the floor, hear the rhythm of her feet
and they creep, come closer and sing softly
“Our Sister! Our Sister! You’ve come! You’ve come!”
and her bead-work shake,
and her copper wrist-bands shine in the disappearance of the sun
On her forehead, rests the eagle’s plume
She decends down from the hilltop
She spreads her ashened cloak with both arms
the breath of the wind disappears
Oh, the dance of our Sister!

“The Dance of the Rain” from Gedigte – Poems, translated by Anthony Emerson Thorpe – 1956 edition, published by van Schaik


1915 Margaret Danner born in Kentucky, but grew up in Chicago’s South Side; American poet, editor, and African-American cultural activist. In 1951, she was the first Black woman on the staff of Poetry magazine. She lived for many years in Detroit, where she co-founded Boone House, a cultural center for black writers, artists and musicians. In the 1960s, she joined the Baháʼí Faith, and toured as a poet and writer sponsored by the Baháʼí Teaching Committee. Danner died at age 68 on January 1, 1984, in Chicago. A retrospective of her work, These Blazing Forms: the Life and Work of Margaret Danner, was published in the March 2022 issue of Poetry magazine.

This poem is Danner’s tribute to Bushman, a Western Lowland Gorilla from Cameroon, the first gorilla at the Lincoln Park Zoo, who died in captivity on January 1, 1951.

Best Loved of Africa

by Margaret Danner

It is New Year’s day.
The blasé people rise.
They face a sleet-like ray
Of light. The low slung skies
Send shadows down. It’s dark.

The earth is treacherous to the tread.
And deep in the upstairs bedroom
Of his terraced suite in Lincoln Park
Lies Bushman, best loved of Africa, huge
And beautifully black as he ever was, but dead.

“Best Loved of Africa” appeared in the October 1956 issue of Poetry magazine – © 1951 by Margaret Danner


January 13

1921‘Dachine Rainer’ born as Sylvia Newman to Polish Jewish immigrants in New York, American-English writer of prose and nonfiction, poet, and anarchopacifist; best known for A Room at the Inn; Outside Time; Rise and Fall; Prison Etiquette: The convict’s compendium of useful information; and Giornale Di Venezia.

     “Ich lebe mein Leben in waschsenden Ringen” – Rilke
(“I live my life in growing circles”)

in the search for a center

by Dachine Rainer

in the search for a center,
there is only the speeding train and the distance
transpired and ahead, only the smoke shadows
that fall on and snow like clouds
of formless birds; and the petrified river, stiff
like a mud frozen soldier

suck the green out of stems
and spit a white foam back at them
like spring throwing its promise into the midst
of red sedge on shore
with hint of tufted grasses
uselessly cleansing the air

“in the search for a center” appeared in Retort: an anarchist review in 1947


1957Claudia Emerson born in Chatham, Virginia; American poet; 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her collection Late Wife; Poet Laureate of Virginia (2008-2010). Her poetry collections include Pharaoh, Pharaoh; Pinion: An Elegy; Figure Studies; and Late Wife, which won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.


by Claudia Emerson

She perches high on the stand, gleaming whistle
dangling, on her suit a dutiful,

faded red cross. Mine her only life
to guard, she does for a while watch

the middle-aged woman who has nothing better
to do than swim laps in the Y’s indoor pool

on a late Friday afternoon. I am slow,
though, boring, length after predictable

length of breaststroke or the duller lap
of elementary backstroke perfectly

executed within the taut confines
of the brightly buoyed lane. So she abandons me

to study split-ends, hangnail, wristwatch,
until—the body of the whistle cupped

loosely in her palm—her head nods toward
shallow dreams. I’ve never felt so safe in my life,

making flawless, practiced turns, pushing, invisible
to reenter my own wake, reverse it.

“Lifeguard” from Secure the Shadow, © 2012 by Claudia Emerson – Louisiana State University Press


January 14

1914 Dudley Randall born in Washington DC; African-American poet and poetry publisher. From age nine, he grew up in Detroit, where his first poems were published in the Detroit Free Press. He worked in Ford’ River Foundry before serving in the South Pacific during WWII. Randall earned a BA in English from Wayne University and a MA in library science from the University of Michigan, and became the reference librarian for Wayne County. He was fluent in Russian; visited Europe, Africa, and Russia; and later translated many Russian poems into English. Between 1965 and 1977, he was the founder, editor, and publisher of Broadside Press, which became a forum for almost every major Black poet who began their careers during those years,  among them Melvin Tolson, Sonia Sanchez, Audre Lorde, Gwendolyn Brooks, Etheridge Knight, and Margaret Walker.  His own poems appeared in collections which included Poem Counterpoem; Cities Burning; More to Remember: Poems of Four Decades; and After the Killing.  He died at age 86 in August 2000.

Laughter in the Slums

by Dudley Randall

In crippled streets where happiness seems buried
under the sooty snow of northern winter,
sudden as bells at twilight,
bright as the moon, full as the sun, there blossoms
in southern throats rich flower of flush fields
hot with the furnace sun of Georgia Junes,
laughter that cold and blizzards could not kill.

“Laughter in the Slums” from Roses and Revolutions: The Selected Writings of Dudley Randall, © 2009 by Dudley Randall, edited by Melba J. Boyd – Wayne State University Press


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.

4 Responses to TCS: A New Year – Laughter that Cold and Blizzards Could Not Kill

  1. Interesting thoughts.
    Enjoy the year each day at a time.
    Even you can do a minute or per second

  2. wordcloud9 says:


  3. johncoyote says:

    Thank you for sharing the amazing poetry.

Comments are closed.