Parody of Sonnet 29

Dear Liza,

Here I am again, playing with Shakespeare! One of his more famous Sonnets is Number 29, which starts, “When in disgrace in fortune and men’s eyes…”. It talks about how hard it is to be down on your luck and jealous of other people’s successes, and how nice it is, in those hard times, to have someone in your life who loves you best.

Inspired by our current global mess, here is my take.

The Man-Child

Parody of Sonnet 29

Now in disgrace upon the global stage
Our once-proud nation fumbles forward, blind
Led by a man-child driven by bent rage
Fueled by the remnants of his tiny mind

In Germany their leader knows the facts
And South Korea quickly got the jump
But here the scientists all got the ax
If, in their knowledge, they spoke anti-Trump

But there is hope out in the country wide
In folks who want to keep their fellows safe
We can be careful, even stay inside,
 E’en when the confines of our houses chafe

To save ourselves from tantrum throwing men,
We need to be the grown-ups, once again

Hope you are well, and stay well!

Love, Grandma Judy


Tardigrade Poetry

Dear Liza,

By now, you know I love writing silly poetry. I like learning new forms and playing with the rhyme schemes, discovering which words fit the pattern and the meaning.

A tardigrade

You also know I love tardigrades. These tiny animals are about the size of a comma on this page. They are found in forests and are also called water bears or moss piglets. Scientists have studied them and found that they can survive intense heat, years of being dried out, and even the vacuum of outer space.

So, there is the mystery. WHY would an animal on Earth have evolved these features? What ELSE can they do?

A different tardigrade (I think, it’s hard to really tell…)

It is their mysterious origins and almost cute “bear-like” features that have inspired our friend Betsy Streeter to do a series of drawings that celebrate their versatility in cartoon-ish hyperbole. You can find more of her work on Instagram @betsystreeter or email her at tinyletter.com/betsystreeter.

Her drawings, in turn, have inspired me to write a parody of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 about the little critters.

“Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio…..”
”Bardigrade” by Betsy Streeter

From “Sonnet 18”

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s gnat?

Thou art more handsome and more alluring

Mere swats can squash a tiny bug like that,

But tardigrade, thou art ‘ere enduring

Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines

The tardigrade just laughs and snuggles down

Sometimes the icy voice of space opines

The tardigrade regards it without frown

For thy eternal tiny-ness goes on,

Delighting those with minds which seek you out

Thy protein-bas’ed armor thou shalt don

Proving thy just perfection, without doubt

    So long as we can live, and learn and see,

    Thou, tardigrade, our Shakespeare-buddy, be.

Silliness reigns supreme!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Spring Beauty with a Side of Poetry

Dear Liza,

We got to walk through the neighborhood yesterday, on our way to Whole Foods for groceries. Our last two days of bright sunshine have encouraged all the flowers!

These irises with just a touch of yellow are magical

The bees are going nuts, too, though they were skittish and wouldn’t let me get close enough to take their pictures. However, this solid brick of azalea blooms was very patient.

Perfectly managed azalea bush!

Up on Ankeny Street in a poetry box, I found this very personal poem. If I had seen it on Mother’s Day, it would have felt cruel and bruising. But today I am stronger and can see it as beautiful.

Lovely poem that perfectly invokes Great Grandma Billie

Feelings are such delicate balances between joy and melancholy, sweet memories and frightful hauntings, it is a miracle we maintain as well as we do. I only really appreciate joy when I have pulled out of a dark hole and can sigh with relief at my freedom.

Thanks, Momma.

Love,

Grandma Judy

There Will Come Soft Rains

Dear Liza,

I went out for a walk to the grocery store the other day, and took some pictures of our fabulously colorful Portland spring. There were not many people out, because of the shutdown, and the combination of uncanny quiet and lush flowers reminded me of something and tickled in the back of my brain.

I just figured out what it was.

There is a poem called There will Come Soft Rains, by Sara Teasdale. She wrote it 1918, in response to the horrors of World War I that the world was living through at the time. The Spanish Flu, spread by the movement of soldiers and lack of health measures, swept across the world at that time, killing 63,000 American soldiers, more than the enemy‘s weapons did.

Sara Teasdale was feeling as some of us are now, despairing of our capacity for self destruction, and the poem tells of the beauty of nature that will go on when mankind has finally wiped itself out.

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows calling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous whit
e;

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Our country has lost, so far, 72,000 people to Covid-19. It is so sad that it hurts to think about it. But most people are doing what they can, staying inside, wearing masks, sending help to family and neighbors, supporting the doctors and nurses. We are being our best selves. This is how we will survive.

And then we can get out into the springtime again.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Political Poetry

Dear Liza,

The basis for Fibonacci Poetry

This post has some poetry in it, but also some comments about our President and (therefore) some bad words.

Thinking about the Fibonacci Poetry sequence I learned the other day, I started writing about world events that are on my mind. I like the way the syllables in the lines can get longer and longer, then shorter and shorter, making a sort of thunderstorm of words, starting slow, building to a crescendo, then tapering off.

I like how the number of syllables make me concentrate on finding exactly the right word for the space.

Auntie Bridgett’s cartoon from Election Day 2016

Here is my new poem:

Fat

Trump’s

Shitstorm

Continues

Bringing us closer

To a future we saw coming

When he bluffed his way to power

How can he be stopped?

We must vote

Him out

Vote
Him

Out

Sending you hope for a better, fairer world for when you grow up.

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Halloween-y Zine-y

Dear Liza,

A Halloween Zine

Auntie Bridgett makes Zines, which are hand-made magazines, called Art-O-Rama. She has printed them every two months, every year since 2012. That’s 42 Art-O-Ramas so far! She sells them on-line (at squareup.com/store/bridgett-spicer) and at the Sidestreet Arts Gallery.

Each zine has a different theme, and she draws and writes about it. Some themes have been Imaginary Friends, Creativity, Monsters, and Eat, Drink and Be Merry…. all sorts of things.

Stuffties!!

Four years ago at Halloween, she was drawing in her sketchbook and this cute little witch appeared. I immediately started thinking of a story about her, and Auntie Bridgett put the story in her zine! I was so pleased!

So here it is, the full story-poem, with Auntie Bridgett’s drawings. Enjoy!

I love that Auntie Bridgett and I can work together and be silly sometimes.

Love,

Grandma Judy

More Fall Beauty

Dear Liza,img_1184-21.jpg

The sunshine has returned! I thought it was gone until Spring, but this week has been as bright and dry as August in Salinas.

I have pictures but no words, so I will borrow some from the English poet John Keats, who wrote it in the fall of 1819.

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfullness

Close-bosomed friend of the maturing sun

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;IMG_1130.jpg

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel-shells IMG_1187.jpg

With sweet kernal; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells…

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too.

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