Welcome from Amy D. Unsworth

Language, Literature, Learning & Life.

Pocket a Parsley Poem

The Academy (poets.org) wants everyone to carry around a poem in their pocket to celebrate April and Poetry and such. I don't know what to carry this year. I carry a few in my heart by Auden, by Lux, by Kenyon, by Hirshfield, and more, and more.

This year, I'm thinking about carrying one of Billy Collin's poems. He has a great take off of the Three Blind Mice nursery rhyme. I think non-poetry inclined people might enjoy it (maybe even more that avowed poetry people:

I Chop Some Parsley While
Listening To Art Blakey's Version Of "Three Blind Mice."

(Thanks to another blogger. . .)

Now this one is fun, yet touching in its own odd way. I enjoy the long "Chinese" style of the title, the playfulness of the theme, the empathy, the "jazz riff" style of the poem and the good sensual detail. I think it's also fun, because the poem asks all the questions I wanted to ask as a kid. (Nursery Rhymes don't always make much sense and it's rather reassuring to think that someone else notices these oddities too.)

In the sixth grade class where I teach both reading & writing poetry once a week, this has been a nice introduction to poetry. At the beginning of the year, I open with this one. The kids like playing with nursery rhymes, since it gives them something to write down and musses up the blankness of the page: a start. And that's a great thing, somewhere to start thinking about language as not just as story but as a way of playing. Play leads to love of words, love of words leads to adeptness of language, and taken together with a nudge in the right direction the two will lead to poetry.

I'll not lie though, I'm always pleased to find someone who will talk difficult with me, who will get down to the very words, and wrestle with the poem's ideas (meaning and significance), and find 13 ways of looking. And discuss theory, or theology, or etymology, or contexts, and literary allusions; and how these influence our interpretation of the poem. Oh, but how few and far between those exchanges are. But I look for those conversations, and I think about poetry even if I must read alone, all by myself.

What will you poem will you put in your pocket? April is sneaking up, while March tries to decide: lion or lamb. And the daffodils push up through the mulch, tempting us to forget snow, and ice, and cold for another year.

Truth & Everything After

I follow the conversations at Critical Mass with interest and sometimes just to visit the fox. But today's conversation about truth and memoir raised valid points. Is it all that important that a memoir be 100% truthfully relayed? Of course, the answer is that it can't be ALL that important since it is impossible for memory to stay true. We embellish, we embroider, we edit, without often realizing it. What we do remember as true might be contradicted by someone who was there in the memory with us. One of the things that fills me with dread is when someone close to me asks "Remember when we. . ." because what they ask about is some that is typically important to them and often I don't remember at first.

Asked about my childhood, I can recall the pony that my grandfather pastured near our home. I can remember the feel of the curry comb in my hand, of picking burrs from his (or was it her?) mane. Or have I substituted the tactile experiences of other, less memorable horses? I know that one day the pony bloated while I was putting on the saddle, and as we trotted through the woods and jumped over a downed log, the saddle tipped sideways and I fell off into the leaf mold near the place where my sister and I laid out sticks to form rooms in our pretend house under the hickories and white oaks, where we used acorn cups and pieces of bark to lay the table. Near the pond where one spring the fish were so hungry that I used mushroom caps to catch them on my cane pole because I ran out of earthworms. And wild roses, and blackberries, and persimmons in the fall. Some things are etched deeply. Some things fall and blow away beyond recall.

Thank you Blog!

for giving me a space to speak about literature and poetry. And remember the blessings of everyday life. And more especially for giving back to me friends that I thought were lost.


The dogs went wild with joy when our two older sons returned from their weekend ski trip.
I am happy too, that they survived the slopes with minimum physical consequences.

When they came back I noticed: the older has had a growth spurt & is starting to look down on me. The other's shoulders are wider, the fuzz on his chin coarser. Yet they still laugh.
This is not what I expected teen years to be like. Oh, and I am grateful. Every moment.

Draft: Words Together Dreaming

Words Together Dreaming

(draft by Amy D. Unsworth)

Jacinte: French back

To Greek & Hyacinthus—

too pleasing, too adored

by the gods—Jealousy incites

murder, blood to bloom:

An iris, a Hyacinth.

Racinate: de-racinate through French

back to Latin. Sans “de”—

uprooted turns to rooting.

Blood seeps through soil

reaching for Lethe—oblivion—

yet forced back to light

each spring the bursting forth

and swift decay— ardor a mere season—

and eternity the long hours of desolation

in the concealed bud hidden above Hades

rooting, rooted, and remembering.


Prairie Dreams

Right after we read Giants in the Earth, National Geographic did a feature article on the prairies of North Dakota: The Emptied Prairie. The article shows just one facet of North Dakota, I'm sure. The idea, however, that the prairie will not abide company seems to echo Beret's despair and anxiety about living in the vast emptiness. Yet, the emptiness now is merely a fa├žade.

The number of acres that remain prairie grassland continues to diminish. The problem of grassland loss is enormously complicated and tied into the need for better sources of energy. Wind energy and ethanol production are claiming some of these lands. I'm unsure exactly how wind turbines cause damage to the prairie ecosystem, but people who work with the Tallgrass Prairie in Kansas feel strongly about it. The Conservation Reserve Program, a program developed to help with wildlife conservation, is seeing losses in the amounts of acreage that was formerly left fallow as wildlife habitat(12% of the CRP in North Dakota lost year according to the wildfowl conservation group Ducks Unlimited.) There is some indication that grasslands may act as carbon-dioxide sinks (here), but we're still learning how to manage this. And here in the Flint Hills, human expansion has covered the prairie that I once could see from my own windows.

Empty places are essential to human experience, too. Especially here in the middle of the continent. The ocean's vastness is beyond daily avenues of travel, there are no mountains to remind us that we are small. The prairie's scale and the prairie's unconcern demonstrate how insignificant our human conceits, yet paradoxically, remind us how much harm mankind can do with our own greed, ignorance, and willful defiance of natural order.

Winter: The Recidivist

First, acknowledge that it is--technically-- still Winter's domain.
Second, be grateful that the seedlings sprout in the windowsill.
Third, accept that precipitation blesses farms and ranches.
Fourth, realize that water tables rise when snow & ice falls.
Fifth, recognize one's fortune in warm shelter and supplies.
Sixth, examine hail and snowflakes in their transience.
Seventh, stir soup, knead bread and serve to rosy-nosed children.

Even under snow, the
minute urge towards green.
Robins in great flocks rest in the bare limbed trees.
A pelican floats on the river. A heron rises.
A pair of bluebirds dally around a nesting box.
And overhead the geese, in mixed flights
of Canadas and Snows, wing with the wind
now Northwards.

In the crown of a splintered cottonwood
a pair of young hawks, bane to the field mice,
balances between the seasons.