Category Archives: Poems

A Decade on the Trail

This is Part 1 of a two part trip down memory lane from Barbara in River Town.

We’ve been blogging here for (are you ready?) 10 years. For anyone new to the Trail, this group started when we were still listening to a beloved (Minnesota Public Radio) Morning Show that aired from 6 – 9 a.m. in the 80s, 90s and aughts (2000s). It was an eclectic music extravaganza peppered with cleaver (see Glossary above) ads, zany characters and radio plays put together by Dale Connelly (a master of parody and verse) and Jim Ed Pool (aka Tom Keith, the super sound effects guy for Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion). When Jim Ed retired at end of 2008, Dale stayed on, and the program morphed into an online streaming station called Radio Heartland https://www.thecurrent.org/heartland/ . Dale also created a blog in early 2009 called the Trial Balloon, in which he’d write an introductory piece about anything under the sun, talk about it on the radio, and ask a question at the end to get an online conversation going.

Dale, our Alpha Baboon, hung in there posting 6 days a week for most of the next 5 years. By the time he decided it was time for a sabbatical, he had written 1,166 of the 1,397 posts (231 of them being guest posts provided by the Baboon Congress when he was away). Here is his June 3, 2015 entry:   https://trailbaboon.com/2015/06/03/five-year-plan/  at the end of that phase.

The Baboons rose to the challenge, and kept the blog going with a wide-ranging collection of guest posts for the next 18 months or so, with Dale chiming in from time to time with a post. In early 2017, Dale “cut the umbilical cord”, and we got our own url: www.trailbaboon.com/ , with Verily Sherrilee and Renee in North Dakota taking the reins of the blog, on alternating months. (This statement doesn’t begin to cover the work and commitment involved – I don’t even know how to describe it – and how grateful we are that they’ve taken this on.) Other baboons provide guest posts that we send to them by email (though not as often as we should).

At some point early on, we started also gathering in the space-and-time realm… I believe the first book club meeting was in June of 2010. (Go to above left under Blogroll: Blevens’ Book Club – there are even minutes to the first meetings!) And we started doing “field trips” – anyone know what year the Russian Art Museum trip was?

Over the years various baboons have come and gone, and occasionally come back – life happens, and some months or years work better for blogging than others. A core group of us are still here, several of whom have been posting and commenting almost from the beginning. Old-timers check in occasionally, and we love it when they do. We’ve found we just enjoy connecting most mornings (and sometimes late in the evening) in this mysterious place in cyberspace, to exchange thoughts, experiences, recipes, songs, book/movie recommendations, health info, travel or garden tips, musings on the English language…

What’s the strangest group you’ve ever hung out with? (…besides this one)

Cruel April

I just read the NOAA weather map for later this week. Oh my! Minnesota Baboons may get a lot of snow! Son and DIL could get 20 inches in Brookings.

It has warmed up sufficiently here that people are jumping into yard work, cleaning flower beds and mowing lawns (which they oughtn’t do yet as it is too early).  Husband and I are waiting to do any yard work until we return from a trip next Sunday.  We first plan to prepare the garden for pea, lettuce, and spinach seeds, which we will plant later in April.  Husband tilled last fall, so we won’t need to do that now. The tomato and pepper seedlings are coming along under the grow lights, Tulips are up and crocuses are blooming.  We have pruning and flower bed cleaning to do, too.

I always find April a chancy month to garden. One April many years ago I was awaiting the first blooming of some tulips I had planted in the fall, when, on April 28, we got 18 inches of heavy wet snow. The tulips had flower buds just ready to open, and there they were, frozen solid just above the snow line. I had to wait another year to see them bloom.   April is the cruelest month. Sometimes March is just as bad, though.

What are your favorite and least favorite months? Any favorite T.S. Elliot poems? 

 

Cubicle Christmas

We’ve been getting things back from our desks that have been salvaged and cleaned after the big fire. Boxes of items have been delivered to us and everywhere people are unwrapping items and exclaiming over surprises.  I’ve gotten quite a bit back that I figured I would never see again.  My CD player, my mug warmer, all YA’s photos, and gymnastic magnets, my beaded warthog and my little fan.  Today I got the little plastic panic and eject buttons that I had pasted onto my monitor.  It’s like Christmas all over again!

So, to celebrate – a little cubical haiku.

the big office fire
scorched all my accessories
only buttons left

What was your last little surprise? Extra points for haiku.

Public Domain Day

Two years ago, when Dale retired from the Trail, I didn’t know anything about usage rights and although I had heard the phrase “public domain”, I didn’t really know what it meant. Dale taught me quite a bit about it and then I did further research to make sure we don’t get ourselves in trouble.  That’s why Renee and I sometimes question photos and for the most part, don’t copy poetry and lyrics of other writers.

Since 1998, a work enters public domain 70 years after the life of the author. Before 1998, it was 50 years; to clear up the complexity of that change, they put a moratorium on releasing anything into public domain for 20 years.  That 20 years is up and as of Tuesday, everything from 1923 is now officially in the public domain.

Some of the items now free to share are The Metropolis by Upton Sinclair, The Color of a Great City by Theodore Dreiser, The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, Rootabaga Pigeons by Carl Sandburg and New Hampshire by Robert Frost.

So in celebration of Public Domain Day, here is a poem that last week we could not have posted here legally!

Fire and Ice
by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Do you pay attention to expiration dates?

Words!

I lamented a few months back the loss of one of my favorite daily websites, “The Writer’s Almanac”. Well the good news is that it’s back! Not on MPR, mind you, but back nonetheless. The same comforting music and narrative voice and the same format: notable birthdays or events in history and then a poem. And now I get an email every day instead of having to remember on my own.

About the only difference I can tell is that many more of the daily poems are public domain than not, which says to me that he has a much smaller budget for this than MPR did. This is not a problem for me.

Today the poem was by John Milton, to commemorate his birthday. One of the fun facts was a list of some of the more than 600 words that Milton coined: dreary, flowery, jubilant, satanic, saintly, terrific, ethereal, sublime, impassive, unprincipled, dismissive, feverish, fragrance, adventurer, anarchy. I can’t imagine a world where there words don’t exist and it makes me wonder how often I need a word that doesn’t exist yet.

For example, I need a word for the feeling that comes on me when YA isn’t home at the agreed upon time, worry and irritation at the same time. Worritation?

What new word do YOU need?

 

 

 

Hunter’s Moon

There was a beautiful full moon last night-The Hunter’s Moon. It is the second full moon of autumn, and was named by the Algonquin tribes as the moon for the time to go hunting and prepare for winter. The sky was quite clear and the moon was huge as I drove home from work at 7:00.  It had an orange tint.  The night before last it was almost full, and there were wavy wisps of clouds in front of the moon, making it look like the perfect backdrop for a a witch on a broom.

Tell about all the books, plays, stories, poems, and music you know of that are concerned with the moon. What are your own moon stories? Why is the moon so inspiring?

 

Telling Tales

Today’s post comes to us from Cynthia.

Every April for the past 11 years I have gone to a weekend Norwegian language camp for adults at Concordia Language Camp near Bemidji MN.  Last year one of the attendees gave a presentation on the Norwegian poet Olav Hauge with several references to Robert Bly’s translations. So this past April I volunteered to do a little presentation about my friendship with Robert (and Ruth) and tell three fairy tales.

I met Ruth and Robert when they first moved to Moose Lake, MN, in 1980…a town just down the road from Mahtowa, where I live. Many of our first conversations were about fairy tales.  On Robert’s 63rd birthday, Ruth organized us to do an enactment of “Vasalissa the Beautiful” as a gift for him.  It is a Russian fairy tale that features Baba Yaga, a witch who lives in a house that revolves on a chicken leg. I played the witch. We had recently butchered chickens and I used rooster legs for my hands.  Robert fell asleep. When he woke up he asked to keep the legs.

In 1984 while traveling around Ireland on a tour with Robert, Ruth and Gioia Timpanelli, I was mesmerized by Gioia’s telling of the Irish legendof Diarmuid and Grania.

Sometime around 1986 or so, Robert began an annual Valentine’s Day free reading in Moose Lake. He read his poetry;, he read other poets’ poems. And he almost always told a fairy tale.

So started me on my love affair with fairy tales. But then Ruth and Robert moved to Minneapolis so I had to learn to tell the fairy tales myself.  I loved telling them to children when I taught day care, but this year I discovered that telling them to adults is equally fun. At Norwegian camp I told three of my favorite Asbjørnson and Moe tales: Askeladden (The Ash Lad), Lurvehette (Tatterhood), and Tre Bukkene Bruse.  I told the first two in English, the third in Norwegian.  For fun, I am sharing Tre Bukkene Bruse with you in the Norwegian, because it is such fun to tell it that way and I trust you will recognize the story from your childhood even if you don’t know norsk.

Tre Bukkene Bruse

Det var engang tre bukker som skulle gå til seters og gjøre seg fete, og alle tre så hette de Bukkene Bruse. På veien var det en bro over en foss, som de skulle over, og under den broen bodde et stort, fælt troll, med øyne som tinntallerkener, og nese så lang som et riveskaft.

Først så kom den yngste Bukkene Bruse og skulle over broen.

Tripp trapp, tripp trapp, sa det i broen.

“Hvem er det som tripper på mi bru?” skrek trollet.

“Å, det er den minste Bukkene Bruse; jeg skal til seters og gjøre meg fet,” sa bukken, den var så fin i målet.

“Nå kommer jeg og tar deg,” sa trollet.

“Å nei, ta ikke meg, for jeg er så liten jeg; bi bare litt, så kommer den mellomste Bukkene Bruse, han er mye større.”

“Ja nok,” sa trollet.

Om en liten stund så kom den mellomste Bukkene Bruse og skulle over broen.

Tripp trapp, tripp trapp, tripp trapp, sa det i broen.

“Hvem er det som tripper på mi bru?” skrek trollet.

“Å, det er den mellomste Bukkene Bruse, som skal til seters og gjøre seg fet,” sa bukken; den var ikke fin i målet, den.

“Nå kommer jeg og tar deg,” sa trollet.

“Å nei, ta ikke meg, men bi litt, så kommer den store Bukkene Bruse, han er mye, mye større.”

“Ja nok da,” sa trollet.

Rett som det var, så kom den store Bukkene Bruse.

Tripp trapp, tripp trapp, tripp trapp, sa det i broen; den var så tung at broen både knaket og braket under den!

“Hvem er det som tramper på mi bru?” skrek trollet.

“Det er den store Bukkene Bruse,” sa bukken, den var så grov i målet.

“Nå kommer jeg og tar deg,” skrek trollet.

“Ja, kom du! Jeg har to spjut, med dem skal jeg stinge dine øyne ut! Jeg har to store kampestene, med dem skal jeg knuse både marg og bene!” sa bukken. Og så røk den på trollet og stakk ut øynene på ham, slo sund både marg og ben, og stanget ham utfor fossen; og så gikk den til seters. Der ble bukkene så fete, så fete at de nesten ikke orket å gå hjem igjen, og er ikke fettet gått av dem, så er de det ennå.

Og snipp snapp snute, her er det eventyret ute.

What was your favorite childhood fairy tale?  Do you have a favorite now?