The Dust to Settle

The dust will never settle
from that great explosion
of terror and grief.
No it will never settle.
But is it too hopeful to think
that the dust will one day augment
the colors of sunsets
wherein the particle filled air is charged
with beauty captured like shining souls,
or the memory of such,
in stained glass windows
through which we see
those we loved and lost
gesturing us to move on —
feel the streams of light and dust
intermingling as if in a dance
of release and beatitude
swirling, swirling in dervish dazzle
that moves us to our knees? — Annette Marie Smith

47th Anniversary of the Moon Landing


Oh moon,
we have loved you so much
that it was not enough
for us to open our windows for your light to stream through
and conversely bar them against you.
It was not enough for us to tilt and sway on oceans moving to the rhythm of you
but we also internalized your wild music in the rhythms of our bodies.
We have painted our greatest works of art
with your colors, lambent, secret, and silver,
given you the creditblame for our insanity
and love. We have always admitted that love comes
shyly on moonlit feet
and thunderously like the opposite of eclipse.
We have longed for you in such a way
that crossing the darkest and deepest ocean
of space
was something, just one of many things,
that we would moonstruckingly do
for you. — Annette Marie Smith

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!


Martin Luther King’s words and acts have planted themselves in our collective psyche. They continue to grow and bear fruit in his influence on our worldview and to loosen the soil of prejudice in even the hardest, driest riverbeds of souls.

His legacy is a mighty river that waters us well, singing through our very souls. That river continues to carry us forward and to sing, deeply, movingly, its own (and our) river song.

I continue to be most inspired by those who live their lives in accordance with the principles of equality, love, and giving that Martin Luther King personifies.

Thank you, Martin Luther King, thank you today and every day!

March is Women’s History Month

Image courtesy Patricia Saxton Studio

Happy Women’s History Month!
And, not to make it all about me, but March is also the month I was born. It pleases me to have my birth month coincide with National Women’s History Month.
It could have been penguins, or limes, or mimes, or get-to-work-on-time that was being celebrated this month. Penguins are cute and limes are delicious (especially in margaritas!). Getting to work on time is a good and necessary thing. Mimes? I am sure nothing needs to be said where mimes are concerned. Women who have made their mark on history for the win!
Links of interest
Women’s History Month blog post  (The Legislation of Flowers)

Happy Día de Muertos!

Photography by retrotrashphotography on deviantart

Day of the Dead
By Annette Marie Hyder

They say the heavens open up
and the souls of the dead pour forth
and visit those on earth —
a spirit rain of loved ones to refresh
the lands of the hearts
of those who’ve been left behind.

The polishing of bones —
fingers handling bones much the way
that our thoughts touch memories —
reveals the simple beauty that sometimes
is mistaken for severity
and speaks not only to the strength
of hidden things
but also to a beneficent serenity.

So build an altar of marigolds,
shape candles of illumination
from the tears that bead your eyes.
Chant the names and memories
of loved ones who have gone ahead
by being reverent with
your every living breath.

Happy Friday!

Links to information about the celebration known as The Day of the Dead:
Wikipedia Day of the Dead
USA Today: Day of the Dead celebrations alive and well
Forbes: Day of the Dead Brings Life To Eastern European Cemeteries

Sunshine brackets me

By Annette Marie Hyder

like bookends lacquered in gold crackle

holding me between its arms
as if I am a book
with my spine trying —
as book-spines are wont —
to share something of myself with the world.
Sometimes I can feel my pages rustling
and I know that someday
the sun will no longer bracket me,
will not illuminate the print on the outside,
but instead will seep quietly into my pages
limning all the words inside —
the ones we all have —
monk-labored and calligraphy kissed
like a manuscript of old, lavish in marginalia,
annotated and footnoted, Latin phrase blissed.
And I see those words trellis across the manuscript —
the opposite of palimpsest —
as sunshine climbs them, hand over hand,
and something grows bright red and knife sharp:
a rose with thorns that when I look closer
resolve themselves to quills
that I’ll be writing with.

Yes, it is true that the spine is a metaphor for courage,
a byword for assertiveness.
Behind the narrow strip
where the cover of this book is joined to its pages,
let each word be written with brushes dipped
in the gold of burning stars and glissed
with the ruby of molten rocks,
the hard glass green of chemo-sensing sea serpents,
and the brightest blue that delicately floats on lepidoptera wings.
Let the black be rich and let it still cling
to darkest earth/womb/tomb from whence it came,
sometimes leaving smudges where none were intended
through muck fecundity.

Illuminated Manuscripts

The British Library Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog is filled with pictures of pages and attendant information pertaining to said pages from illuminated books and ancient manuscripts. The four examples below from the BLMEMB (British Library Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog) include:
1. Miniatures of (in the initial) a
poet-lover presenting verses to his lady and (in the right margin) a
lover’s heart, burning on a fire and being quenched with rain; from a
collection of 49 love sonnets, Italy (probably Milan), 2nd or 3rd
quarter of the 15th century
, King’s MS 322, f. 1r.
2. Miniature of the Apparition of Michael. 
Beneath the miniature is a single four-line red stave, musical notation
and a single line of text in gold capitals ‘Exultando in Gesu’.
Illuminated by Pacino di Buonaguida, Italy (Florence), c. 1340, Additional 35254B

3. A detail from the Speculum
sapientiae, or Mirror of Wisdom, a Latin text that included a large number of beast fables. Detail of a miniature of the hedgehog reproaching the goat for his vanity; from Ulrich von Pottenstein, Spiegel der Weisheit, Austria (Salzburg), c. 1430, Egerton MS 1121, f. 44v.

4. Allegorical miniature of the Tudor rose, incorporating various emblems associated with Henry VIII, from Motets for Henry VIII, Netherlands (Antwerp?), 1516, Royal 11 E. xi, f. 2r

The detail of the miniature of number three is one of my favorites. According to the BLMEMB, “In one of the fables, a goat came upon its
own reflection in a pond.  The goat,
seeing the horns on his head and his long goat beard, thought himself very
handsome indeed, and began to bleat, boasting of his horny ‘crown’ and hairy
‘necklace’.  A passing hedgehog, however,
was less than impressed.  If the goat had
impressive horns and beard, he also had an unsightly tail and a foul
temper.  A profound humility, the
hedgehog reproached, not vain
boasting, was what made an animal truly noble.”

1. 2.  

Links of interest:
Take one unicorn — A recipe for how to cook unicorn.
Timbuktu Texts Saved From Burning — A triumph for bibliophiles.

Happy Inauguration Day 2013!

Even the astronauts in space took note of today’s inauguration of President Barack Obama. The astronauts took photos of the US capital from their perch in the heavens and you can read about it at Astronauts See Obama Inauguration Site From Space

Inaugural address

During his Inaugural address, President Obama emphasized equality:

is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.
For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and
daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not
complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else
under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love
we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not
complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the
right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way
to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a
land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are
enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our
journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of
Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know
that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm. ” –
Barack Obama during today’s Inaugural address

You can watch the entire Inaugural address here.

Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco

There have only been, in the entire course of the history of the United States, four other inaugural poets. Richard Blanco brings the total to five.

From PEN America:

“Kennedy introduced the concept in 1961 by asking Robert Frost to read
an original poem at the inauguration, and Clinton revisited it by
choosing Maya Angelou in 1993 and Miller Williams in 1997. Elizabeth
Alexander read at Obama’s 2009 inauguration, and now we’ve exhausted the
entire history of the title.”

Richard Blanco is, at 44 years old, the youngest person to ever serve as inaugural poet. He is the first immigrant, first Latino, and first openly gay person too.

His poem, “One Today”,  speaks to unity and the American Experience. Here is a transcript of his poem, courtesy of ABC News:

“One Today”

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper — bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives — to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches 
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind — our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me — in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound 
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always — home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country — all of us —
facing the stars
hope — a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it — together.