That morning you had reassured me

(after Yosa Buson)

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That morning you had reassured me
before we said goodbye.
At evening my heart was in a thousand pieces
and the pieces scattered.

Thinking of you, I wandered.
The world had been so full of you
it didn’t occur to me to wonder
that the hills themselves were in mourning.

Pathfinder in shade, prairie stars white in sun –
and no one to look at them.
I heard a pheasant calling and calling –
fervently.

Crossing the river, I thought:
once you lived on the other side.

You left in the evening,
at morning my heart was still,
my heart that you had steadied,
in a thousand pieces.

Ghostly smoke rises a little before
the north wind that blows it away
across the deadgrass fields,
through the winter-stripped coppices.

Once you lived across the river;
You were everywhere, like smoke,
like memory, so when you are gone,
who can I be, stripped of a past?

I stripped dead leaves from branches
wove a hut to sit in
sat there alone all day
and long into the invaluable evening.

 

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At least you died beloved

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At least you died beloved
Though surrounded by snow
And after the slow twilight
Had gathered and then gone.

Not how you thought to go,
Maybe, when you were young
And winter a long way off,
Before anything was known.

Couldn’t the end have come
One day in summer?
One perfect day
That would be like living always?

A field of flowers, warm sun,
Your loved ones gathered round
And after one bird’s wistful song
No pain, and no good-byes unsaid?

I harbor no regrets for you.
You were our perfect day,
He your warm sun, and we
Your field of flowers.

 

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Christmas Season Ending Earlier, Say Scientists

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The interminable United States holiday season, long considered a key indicator that the climate is doing just fine, thank you very much, may be ending earlier than we think. “The data shows that the Christmas season in the U.S. is actually ending earlier, and that the rate of change has accelerated over at least the past ten years,” said Harvard climatologist Dr. Noelle Baker-Taylor. Her team’s findings will be published in the next issue of Nature.

While those findings are likely to be controversial, they are based on solid science, says Baker-Taylor. “If you look at previous studies, they tended to rely on measurements of the entire holiday season, which show that the absolute length of the season has remained stable. But our analysis shows that the Christmas season now begins much earlier, too.” Baker-Taylor says that another possible factor is that Thanksgiving, which has traditionally demarcated the “no-earlier-than” date of the Christmas season, may have have deteriorated significantly. “There’s evidence that Thanksgiving’s influence has been steadily eroding since the 1980s, and in some areas it may no longer be enough to delay the start of Christmas.” Asked if Thanksgiving could be in danger of collapsing, Baker-Taylor said, “It’s a concern, definitely. That’s one of the things we need to look at.”

“I’m not a scientist, but my opinion is it’s bullshit,” said Oregon tree farmer Kenny Bupkis. “I mean, according to science, a bumblebee can’t even fly. So they have their opinions, but I have mine.” But Kenny’s sister and business partner Doris Bupkis wasn’t so sure. “I go downtown and I see Valentine’s day stuff in the windows in early January. So yeah, maybe. I don’t know. I’m not a scientist. After I left home, Mom used to keep her tree up till Easter some years. She just called me up the other day and asked me to haul her tree for her so she could put up her Presidents’ Day decorations. So maybe, I don’t know. I’m not a scientist.”

U.S. President Donald Trump disputed the study in an angry early-morning tweet: “So-called scientists must stop their War on Christmas! FACT: Even Darwin said global warming wasn’t real! SAD!”

The Museum Elephants

Elephant in Rotunda of Smithsonian Natural History Museum

Within the murmurous expanse
Beneath the bas-relief-ringed dome
The taxidermied elephants
Reign over their eternal home:

With tiles for the grass-giving earth;
For sun-burnt destinations, walls.
Eight times a week, the monkey mirth
Of school groups echoes through the halls

While in and out the galleries
Architectonically discrete
The docents’ high-toned rhapsodies
Contend with sounds of scuffling feet.

And once a month someone comes in
Brushes the dust from wrinkled skin
Sweeps cobwebs from the painted skies
And polishes the glittering eyes.

 

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Edna St. Vincent Millay (a clerihew)

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Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare…

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay
Was frequently heard to say
That only the author of Euclid’s Elements
Had ever seen Beauty without habiliments.

What would she have said if she’d lived to learn
About the physicists at CERN
Who have seen the Higgs Boson
Without any clothes on?

 

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Albert Einstein got panics (a clerihew)

“As I have said so many times,
God doesn’t play dice with the world.”

Albert Einstein

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Albert Einstein got panics
From quantum mechanics;
He would have found the world far nicer
Had God not been a dicer.

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How lovely is the semblance

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How lovely is the semblance
Eternity is come
And Past and Future gathered are
In compass of this room;

How beautiful the sleeping form
The eyes that look within
The hands that do not seek to grasp
The legs that will not run;

Though Memory’s in water writ
However still it pools
This vision having once had
I cannot bear to lose;

I shall become a student
At that patient school of art
That studies years to draw one line
Direct from eye to heart.

 

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