TCS: Postcards from the Place Where Dreams Are

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.


“Keep the world safe for poetry…
If the world is safe for poetry, it
can be safe for many other things.”
Anne Waldman

“poems fall … from the richly pollinated boughs
of an ordinary life, buzzing, as lives do, with
clamor and glory. They are easy to miss but
everywhere: poetry just is, whether we revere it
or try to put it in prison. It is elementary grace,
communicated from one soul to another.”
― Barbara KingsolverSmall Wonder


13 poets with birthdays this week,
to kick off National Poetry Month




1868 Edmond Rostand born in Marseille, France, into a wealthy and cultured Provençal family; French playwright and neo-romantic poet; best known for his play Cyrano de Bergerac, which was first performed in December 1897, when he was 29 years old. He was elected to the Académie française in 1901. When WWI broke out, Rostand tried to enlist in the French Army but was rejected. He then raised funds to help French infantrymen, and became a medical orderly, working close to the Front several times. When the Armistice was announced in November, 1918, he returned to Paris but contracted the deadly influenza, and died at age 50 on December 2, 1918.

The Cathedral

by Edmond Rostand

All they did was make it a little more immortal
A work of art doesn’t cease to exist because it’s destroyed by a moron
Ask Phidias and ask Rodin
Whether seeing their work we don’t say “That’s it!”.

A fort dies when we dismantle it
But a ruined church is always beautiful
And, looking upwards, we recall how the roof looked
But prefer to see the sky rather than stones full of holes.

Let us give thanks – and admit that we previously didn’t have
Monuments like those the Greeks have on their gilded hill
A symbol of beauty sanctified by an act of abuse

Let us give thanks to those who aimed their stupid cannon
Since the result of their action is shame on them
But for us the building has become a Parthenon.

– translator not credited
“La Cathédrale” from  Le Vol de la Marseilleise (The Flight of the Marseilleise) – publishers: Louis Charpentier et Fasquelle  (1919)


1902 Maria Polydouri born in Kalamata, Greece; Neo-Hellene poet whose first notable poem “O Ponos tis Manas” (“The Pain of the Mother”) was published when she was 14. When she was 20, both her parents died within 40 days of each other. When she was 20 years old, she dell in love with poet Kostas Karyotakis, but he found out he has syphilis, incurable at the time, and they parted. The poems which are regarded as her most important were written during the last four years of her life while she was suffering from consumption (tuberculosis). Polydouri was devastated when Karyotakis committed suicide in July 1928. She died in a sanatorium at age 28 in April 1930. Her two collections of poetry are The Trills That Die Out, and Echo in Chaos.


by Maria Polydouri

Today just before the light filled up the sky,
far off I heard bells sounding in the city.
Bells … why did I notice? As if sowing hate
the last shadows slowly and dolefully moved on.
Where have I left my sweet, childlike soul,
in what season, with what bell’s tune entwined?
In what season … and today to say my prayers
I stayed on bended knee in sorrow.
A prayer to beauty, to a forgotten mother,
to ignorance, to a smile, to the voice of a dream,
listening to the day’s bell of anguish
which sadly tolled an untimely death.

— translated by Georgia Theophillis Noble




1945Anne Waldman born in Millville, New Jersey; American poet, performer, scholar, and cultural/political activist. In 1965 she attended the Berkeley Poetry Conference, where the Outrider voices she encountered inspired her to commit to poetry and she co-founded Angel Hair, a small press that briefly published a magazine by the same name and published numerous books into the 1970s. In 1974, Waldman and Allen Ginsberg founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. In 1996, she was honored with the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award.


by Anne Waldman

Spooky summer on the horizon I’m gazing at
from my window into the streets

That’s where it’s going to be where everyone is
walking around, looking around out in the open
suspecting each other’s heart to open fire
all over the streets
like streets you read about every day
who are the network we travel through on the way to the center
which is energy filling life
and bursting with joy all over the screen
I can’t sit still any longer!

I want to go where I’m not feeling so bad
Get off this little island before the bridges break
(my heart is a sore thing too)
No I want to sit in the middle watching movies
then go to bed in my head
Someone is banging on it with a heavy stick like the enemy
who is he going to be turns into a face you can’t recognize
then vanishes behind a window behind a gun
Like the lonely hero stalking the main street
cries out Where are you? I just want to know
all the angles of death possible under the American sky!

I can hardly see for all the buildings polluting the sky
until it changes into a barrage of bottles
then clears up for a second while you breathe
and you realize you’re still as alive as ever and want to be
but would like to be somewhere else perhaps Africa
Start all over again as the race gets darker and darker
and the world goes on the way I always thought it would
For the winner is someone we recognize out of our collective past
which is turning over again in the grave

It is so important when one dies you replace her
and never waste a minute

“Revolution” from Helping the Dreamer: Selected Poems, 1966-1988, © 1989 by Anne Waldman – Coffee House Press




1836Harriet Prescott Spofford born in Maine, but grew up in Newburyport, Massachusetts; American author and poet, who at age 17 became the sole support of her family when both her parents became incapacitated. She wrote Gothic romances, detective stories, novelettes, poems, often writing 12 to 15 hours a day, to earn money – 100 of her short stories were published in Boston story papers over the next three years. But when the going rate for stories was slashed from $5 to $2.50, she declined to send them more.  She struggled until her story “In a Cellar” was published in Atlantic Monthly in 1859. It so impressed Atlantic editor James Russell Lowell that he sent her a check for $100 with  a letter of recommendation. His recommendation made her a welcome contributor to all the chief periodicals of the day. She wrote many novels, some children’s books, Art Decoration Applied to Furniture, articles, poems, and ballads. In 1865, after a long engagement, at age 29 she married a Boston lawyer, and they lived on Deer Island near Amesbury. Harriet Prescott Spofford died at age 85 in 1921.


by Harriet Prescott Spofford

What’s the brightness of a brow?
What’s a mouth of pearls and corals?
Beauty vanishes like a vapor,
Preach the men of musty morals!

Should the crowd then, ages since,
Have shut their ears to singing Homer,
Because the music fled as soon
As fleets the violets’ aroma?

Ah, for me, I thrill to see
The bloom a velvet cheek discloses,
Made of dust—I well believe it!
So are lilies, so are roses!




1892Edith Södergran born in St. Petersburg, Russia; Swedish-speaking Finnish modernist poet, educated at a German-language girls school. She published five collections of poetry before she died of tuberculosis at age 31 in 1923.

Luck Cat

by Edith Södergran

I have a luck cat in my arms,
it spins threads of luck.
Luck cat, luck cat,
make for me three things:
make for me a golden ring,
to tell me that I am lucky;
make for me a mirror
to tell me that I am beautiful;
make for me a fan
to waft away my cumbersome thoughts.
Luck cat, luck cat,
spin for me some news of my future!

translated by David McDuff (original from Poems: 1916)


1902Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin born in Verrières-le-Buisson near Paris: French novelist, poet and journalist; she was awarded the 1949 Renée Vivien prize for women poets; her most notable novel was ‘Madame de …’  Louise de Vilmorin died at age 67  in December 1969.


 by Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin

Fiancée of a million deviations
what do you hide up your sleeve?
Is it a postcard
from the place where dreams are discarded?
Is it your revenge plan:
a vulture’s kiss: stolen and flown?

– translated by Marilyn McCabe
“Fiancée” from L’alphabet des aveux (©1954)


1928 Maya Angelou born in St. Louis, Missouri; American poet, memoirist and civil rights activist; known for her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. In 2000, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. In 2010, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  She died after a long illness at age 86 in May 2014.

Momma Welfare Roll

by Maya Angelou

Her arms semaphore fat triangles,
Pudgy hands bunched on layered hips
Where bones idle under years of fatback
And lima beans.
Her jowls shiver in accusation
Of crimes clichéd by
Repetition. Her children, strangers
To childhood’s toys, play
Best the games of darkened doorways,
Rooftop tag, and know the slick feel of
Other people’s property.

Too fat to whore,
Too mad to work,
Searches her dreams for the
Lucky sign and walks bare-handed
Into a den of bureaucrats for
Her portion.
‘They don’t give me welfare.
I take it.’

“Momma Welfare Roll” from The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou, © 1994 by Maya Angelou – Random House




1837 Algernon Charles Swinburne born in London; English poet, novelist, playwright, and critic; noted for his poetry collections, Poems and Ballads and Songs Before Sunrise, and his contributions to the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Swinburne wrote about taboo topics, such as lesbianism, sado-masochism, and anti-theism. He was an alcoholic and liked to be flogged, so his health suffered, and a friend took care of him from age 42 until his death at age 72 in 1909.

Love Lies Bleeding

by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Love lies bleeding in the bed whereover
Roses lean with smiling mouths or pleading:
Earth lies laughing where the sun’s dart clove her:
Love lies bleeding.

Stately shine his purple plumes, exceeding
Pride of princes:  nor shall maid or lover
Find on earth a fairer sign worth heeding.

Yet may love, sore wounded scarce recover
Strength and spirit again, with life receding:
Hope and joy, wind-winged, about him hover:
Love lies bleeding.


1904Richard Eberhart born in Austin, Minnesota; American poet who won the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the 1977 National Book Award for Poetry. Noted for Collected Poems, 1930-1976, and The Long Reach.

The Forum

by Richard Eberhart

Each came to the Forum, exposed his views,
And heated grew, and then eased off.
None shook the Greeks down from their pedestals,
Each tinctured the spirit of our time.

Religion was cursed, but stood its inner ground,
Rhyme was trounced, but boomeranged around,
Form was tried and found a repentant wanton,
Art queried, but strengthened it devotees.

The eyeball in its smithy socket can
Make up the whole mind of man.
While the intricate, reflective gem,
The poem, gives love back to men.

In dissonances, quicknesses, in gleams
Each poet catches a flying spirit
And he would from his blood’s frantic force
New light, dazzling, see and fit.

“The Forum” © by Richard Eberhart, appeared in the April 1950 issue of Poetry magazine




1671Jean-Baptiste Rousseau born in Paris, the son of a shoemaker; French playwright and poet; noted for cynical epigrams, which caused him to be blamed for some libelous and obscene verses which led to his prosecution for defamation of character, though Rousseau claimed the verses had been written by Bernard-Joseph Saurin, a more successful playwright who was also a lawyer.  When Rousseau failed to appear in court, he was condemned to perpetual exile, and spent the rest of his life in foreign countries. He refused to accept the permission to return which was offered him in 1716 because it was not accompanied by complete rehabilitation. He died at age 69 in 1741 in Belgium.


by Jean-Baptiste Rousseau

That man is well, during his life,
A perfect mirror of pain,
As soon as he breathes, he cries, he cries
And seems to foresee his misfortunes.

In childhood always tears,
A pedant bringing sadness,
Books of all colors,
Punishments of all kinds.

The ardent and fiery youth
puts Him in even worse condition.
Creditors, a mistress
torment him like a convict.

In middle age, another fight,
Ambition calls for it.
Wealth, dignities, brilliance,
Family cares, everything agitates him.

Old, we despise him, we avoid him.
Bad temper, infirmity.
Cough, gravel, gout, pituite,
Besiege his caducity.

To crown the calamity,
A director makes himself master of it.
He finally dies, little regretted.
It was well worth being born!




1770William Wordsworth born in Cumberland county in North West England; English  poet who was a major contributor to the Romantic Age in English Literature. His major works include Lyrical Ballads and Poems, in Two Volumes. He was appointed as Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom (1843-1850), though he at first refused the office, saying he was too old, but was told that nothing would be required of him, and became the only poet laureate to write no official verses. He died of a severe case of pleurisy at age 80 in April 1850.

The World Is Too Much With Us

by William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.


1965Rozalie Hirs born in Gouda, Netherlands; Dutch composer of contemporary classical music, and poet; noted for  her compositions Book of Mirrors and Roseherte, and her poetry collections Locus, Logo and Speling.


by Rozalie Hirs

in the circulated storm I take up my seat in the skies
the plane climbs past clouds towards the light discovers

sleepy this morning like a flying fisherman en route invisible
leap lightning-striking through a breathing flock of birds

the flowering almond tree utterly gorgeous region on a lake
a hill misty valley buttressed by higher hills expanding into

a town where flooding rivers solstices shine
of the living and lovers belonging to nobody touching

each other falling receiving the latest news today
say in surroundings of a handful of people and things

– translation by Donald Gardner
© 2008 by Rozalie Hirs




1955Barbara Kingsolver born in Annapolis, Maryland, but raised in rural Kentucky; American novelist, essayist, and poet; known for The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, and Pigs in Heaven; awarded a National Humanities Medal in 2000, and the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction for The Lacuna. Kingsolver began her full-time writing career in the mid-1980s as a science writer for the University of Arizona at Tucson, then branched out into articles and cover stories for the Tucson Weekly. She started publishing fiction after winning a short story contest in a Phoenix newspaper. In the late 1990s Kingsolver, who had considered a career as a pianist, became a founding member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock and roll band made up of writers, including. Amy Tan, Matt Groening, Dave Barry and Stephen King. They played together for one week during the year. She now lives in the Appalachian region of the U.S. Kingsolver published her first book of poetry, Another America, in 1992.

How to Drink Water When There Is Wine

by Barbara Kingsolver

How to stay at this desk when the sun
is barefooting cartwheels over the grass –

How to step carefully on the path that pulls
for the fleet unfettered gait of a deer –

How to go home when the wood thrush
is promising the drunk liquid bliss of dusk –

How to resist the kiss, the body forbidden
that plucks the long vibrating string of want –

How to drink water when there is wine –

Once I knew all these brick-shaped things, took them
For the currency of survival.

Now I have lived long and I know better.

“How to Drink Water When There Is Wine” from How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons), © 2020 by Barbara Kingsolver – Faber & Faber



Photograph: Reims Cathedral after being bombed during WWI

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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.
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