The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
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Poem for Thursday


From 'Ludlow'
By David Mason


I dream Luisa gathering her story,
no trace of her parents’ accents left in her,
though they are part of her life's inventory.
She uses names like Tikas, Rockefeller,
Lawson, Mother Jones. The communards
have heard of some of these, and she unveils
a vision of the camps in simple words,
a scrap of song, a memory of hills.

The miners made widows too, when timbermen
or diggers deep inside the earth cut through
to gas and lanterns set it off, or when
the pillared chambers fell. You heard a slump
within, and some poor digger ran out choking
there was thirty boys still trapped in the seam.
And some days all you’d see was bodies carted
down the hill and bosses counting heads.

--------

The excerpts above are from this blog, though I first read about the poem in Ron Charles' review in The Washington Post Book World of Mason's novel in verse about the 1914 Colorado coal miners strike that ended in a massacre by the National Guard in which not only miners but their wives and children died. "It's told in more than 600 eight-line stanzas of nonrhyming iambic pentameter, and if those poetic technicalities excite you, you'll be dazzled by the feats Mason can perform within that structure. For the rest of us, though, what really matters is this beautiful, wrenching tale," writes Charles. The story follows an immigrant who came in search of money and women, only to find miners living like slaves with wages that don't cover their room and board. He becomes a union leader, and Mason writes, "We piece together Tikas as we make/Our own past from what evidence we find."

Had a quiet kid-oriented day mostly at home with younger son, who was feeling better but still coughing, though he felt well enough to go to violin. Then we went to get older son from his school chorus festival, where several local middle and high school choruses plus an adult barbershop quartet were performing. They've just announced that the principal of the magnet high school where he will go next year, who has been there since I graduated high school in 1984, is leaving at the end of this school year...sigh. We stopped at Best Buy to get younger son Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea as a consolation prize for missing the Mad Science party, and I discovered the existence of wall outlet adapters that let you charge anything that can be powered via USB...in theory we could charge my phone, everyone's MP3 player and my husband's Palm and Blackberry using the same adapter. And I'm still all impressed by the Power Squid that lets you plug in multiple transformers without each crowding the other off the power strip.

Son has also obtained a list of all the new Pokemon in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl and has spent all night asking me questions like, "Which do you like better, Bidoof or Empoleon?" (the correct answer being the latter, because it is some kind of penguin Pokemon -- there are correct answers to opinion questions in this house). When we finally managed to get them to bed (actually, as I type this, older son is still technically brushing his teeth but he is about to have his gaming privileges revoked for the entire month of May), I put on The Search for John Gissing for apaulled, who pointed out the many ways in which both the script and Binder's performance were reminiscent of earlier Woody Allen movies. Strangely, he did not demand that we rewind and watch The Scene With The Chair five times. *snicker* (Incidentally, the lyrics to the song from That Scene are here.)


The walk to the National Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum is very colorful.


Purple, fuschia and white are the dominant colors...


...sometimes occurring together on the same bush...


...and the bright pink ones seem particularly popular with bees...


...though the bees must have been busy pollinating many of the plants.
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I did manage time before dinner to take a walk around the neighborhood with the new camera, partly to see what it could do and partly to record all the gorgeous local gardens this spring, where our azaleas are still in full flower and there are lots of tulips, pansies and more exotic flowers. Yeah, not going to catch up on life otherwise this week. Ah well, tomorrow is another day!
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