THANK YOU VERY MUCH: Grati-Dudes, ‘Tudes in a Post-Thanks Time

Speaking of thanks, in our series on life-saving wisdom thanks to poetry, we’ll consider the art of gratitude, the practice of thank you, the devotion of poetry which gives to us a way to see our world, our plights, our flights, our days and nights, in a grander light, noble, part of the human enduring struggle to do right by this gift of consciousness, and in this magic mirror . . . um, excuse me Professor Mossberg, hello! Um, I’d just like to point out that Thanksgiving has passed? And we are well into the next— Thank you, thank you for asking, that’s what I’m talking about: are we in a post-thanks time? Now that we’ve had Turkey and the ballet of football and crush of shopping, is thanks passé, wrapped until its next holi-day?. . . Let’s slow down today—we need a pause, yes? to think about thanking in everyday life. And thinking of you, our Poetry Slow Down listening community, our flight of listeners, we’ll gaze up into our skies and hear more bird-song, ways the poets fold poetic feet into wings, as we think about what birds mean to us in our journey of learning about being human, being alive on earth in this form, with these brains, our purpose here . . . what can we learn from our magic mirror of poetry, from how some poet somewhere—maybe in snow, maybe in rain, maybe in the leaves– looks up or out or in, sees something with eyes, two feet, who can walk and hop, like us, and then take wing, we say, soar, swoop? What hay, so to speak, does a poet make of the bird as a fellow creature? Let’s lift off with thanks and wings . . . it’s open season for thanksgiving! With your host Professor Barbara Mossberg, at the Poetry Slow Down. c Barbara Mossberg 2010

Backstage at The Poetry Slow Down

Today we go backstage with your radio host to see behind the scenes of The Poetry Slow Down, the reading of the day’s mail with poems sent in by listeners, and how that in turns impacts—okay, deliciously detours– the plans for the week’s show! Our show became Slate Surprise: Dear De-tours de Force and Waylays and Other Adventures of Flight. Talk about a slow down! What happened was in the middle of deadlines I could not resist reading a listener’s poem right then and there, and two hours later was still noodling its intricacies: it was called Junco, and then I had to read all about Juncos and consider the language of bird studies, and my ignorance of birds beyond poems about birds, and thinking about those poems led to a joyous review of poems of birds, and birds’ meaning to us, all inspired by how one person’s 26-word poem makes us think about our world. Well then: one iconic poem after another (think: falcons, swans, blackbirds, albatross, eagles, kingfisher, heron, wren . . . Professor Mossberg, is there a quiz? Of course) and the show quickly has become a two-part series, because I couldn’t leave out this poem or that poem, and even so, these two shows are only a sampling of great poems on birds which you can only see and only hear if you  . . . slow down. Today’s show features Poe’s raven, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s skylark, William Carlos Williams’ chickens, Gertrude Stein’s pigeons, James Wright’s chickenhawk, Charles Wright’s bird hour, Robert Duncan’s falconress, Linda Hogan’s heron, Timothy Steele’s “In the Memphis Airport”-little warbler, Mary Oliver’s snowgeese, and my “Fat Lady Flying,” all invoked by Charles Tripi’s junco-just-now. So keep those poems and comments coming to Music, Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on the Wire,” Mozart’s Magic Flute, Anne Murray’s “Snowbird,” Bob Marley’s “Don’t Worry,” Simon and Garfunkle’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” This show is dedicated to my mother, at whose bedside it is broadcast.

Stay tuned: mystery poet to be announced in next show, November 21, 2010; word for Poetry Slow Down listening community (a “flight” of listeners; an “under-standing” of listeners—your ideas?); performances by Professor Mossberg on Emily Dickinson (Central Coast: December 9, Cherry Center for the Arts, December 10, Pacific Grove Library; Los Angeles, December 5, Fair Oaks Regency); poems by Coleridge, Keats, Hopkins, John Haines, Jennifer K. Sweeney, Kay Ryan, Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Linda Gregg, John Muir, your host Professor Mossberg, Mary Oliver, Edmund Waller, Blake, Shakespeare, Tennyson, and more!

Hear how form holds rhyme’s sweeping cape in “The Raven,” how Timothy Steele’s rhymes rock you; how our task is to “to love what is lovely, and will not last” (Oliver); how birds are seen thirteen, twenty, many ways that express the most ancient elements of the human journey, beginning with The Sphinx.


Does anybody really know what time it is? Drat Daylight Savings—or bless this conundrum? Who can say. The Poet can say, says Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson waxes forth in Crystal Blue Persuasion, in purple prose effusions, on a new day rising, the pros for daylight savings. Thoreau follows suit. Poet after poet wants to have a word with us. Wordsworth weighs in, Marvel, Milton, W.S. Merwin, Cesar Pavare, Louise Gluck, James Tate, Derek Wolcott, Wendell Berry, Kabir, Chuck Tripi, Ric Masten, Mary Oliver, your host, Dr. Barbara Mossberg, all in favor of daylight savings (also, T.S. Eliot, Cold Play, Bob Marley). Not sure and keeping a philosophic equanimity are Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Yogi Berra, Marilyn Monroe, and Groucho Marx. We get notes of Roethke and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Goethe, Ibsen, Benjamin Franklin, and Professor Mossberg’s father and mother-in-law. It doesn’t get better than this, on a mellow Fall day, to slow down with The Poetry Slow Down: you know you move too fast. Make the morning last and save the day by communing with poets. Rumi says the “new rule” when “everywhere is falling everywhere” is to “break the wineglass,/And fall toward the glassblower’s breath.” When we fall, Rumi says, we find something shining. Hopkins concurs (think: “flame out like shook foil”). Fall is the time to start anew in the creation process., to dig deep, for processes of renewal and restoration. Give yourself time for those like Rumi who slowed down, took the time to fall down, to get it down, who worked it up and down, worked it out, to light a way, delight our way to see and know, think and feel. Falling back for Fall: today we’ve got it all! We’ll spend this saved morning hour considering what the poets have to say about daylight and savings, and if we save light in our day, how do we spend it, or do we get interest?
We’ve been engaged in a Poetry Slow Down series in which we consider lifesaving, life-thriving poetic philosophies of life, considering how our light is spent. Of course we discuss Restore Hetch Hetchy and W.S. Merwin’s restoration commitments, and Professor Mossberg’s experience at the Inaugural Reading at the Library of Congress and delivering congratulations from this remarkable poetry community. We still don’t get to the points of view of those with four legs or eight legs, but stay tuned, and we’ll continue our series with the Hospitaliad, and Attitudes of Gratitude, and the sonnet problem-solving workshop, and the Emily Dickinson birthday celebration, all coming up, so set your watches whichever way– Thoreau says it doesn’t matter what time it says as long as it’s morning.  We’ll go with Thoreau, because you can listen to this show anytime and morning is yours for the listening. Thank you and please write comments to

Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Mossberg on the theme of falling for a time of year that is regenerative, restorative, and reviving—if we look at nature which is never “spent”:

This Time Is Not Sailboat Without Wind

What did Eliot say, wait without hope. Then Einstein. If e=mc2, waiting is patience. Patience is suffering (ergo “patient’s” two meanings). Frankl said: Strive to deserve our suffering. Think cross legged guru on mountain impossible to get to. With winds howling and no water. It is a feint. The winter trees. It seems like nothing is going on or worse. A time in between, the time you already think of as before. But it is when it is all happening. The later shoots and blossoms and fruits are just by-products of this period, signs it happened. The generative fantastic work, roots in soil, nurtured. You are this winter tree. And when you are doing all that you will do, the fruits and sensational flowers and the squirrels who can’t get enough of you and the birds clamoring for you, and clouds making state visits, and a raccoon or two, worms and butterflies think you are the thing indeed, and moss hangs around, you’re grounded, what you know is that it was all those months when it was storm. When you were tattered, leaves left you in droves, you had nothing for anybody, and all your beauty was whooshed. When you stood there exposed. When it looked like it was nothing happening and there was nothing there to see.  That it was over. This was the time. This was the time during. This was the good time.  c Barbara Mossberg 2010

Check it out!

From a Restore Hetch Hetchy newletter.

A key component of any environmental campaign is the ability to effectively communicate a message. Thanks to a team of volunteers, Restore Hetch Hetchy has a terrific new site with which to educate the public, recruit volunteers and solicit contributions. Check it out!

RHH would like to give special thanks to the team at Load Bearing Creative in Fresno for the many volunteer hours they put in to develop a new, effective website for RHH. Load Bearing Creative is a full service marketing and design studio-we encourage our supporters to consider utilizing their talented services. Special thanks also to RHH board member, Roger Williams, for making it happen.

A Letter From a Poet

Dear Restore Hetch Hetchy:

We have reached a new stage of evolution where human history is the agency of hope. The twentieth century brought in a renewed consciousness of preservation of the earth-keeping what is left. Our century’s work is restoration. It is imaginative work. It needs the poet and the engineer, the lawyer and business leader. It is up to us now to figure out ways in every river valley to rescue rich soil, every mountain and plain, to be restored. We hear of prairies and watershed and mountains and forests, seabeds, coral reefs, being brought back to life with engineering feats and genius of vision. And this is from Emily Dickinson, engineer of “but God be with the Clown, Who ponders this tremendous scene, this whole experiment in green, As if it were his own!” If we consider this very earth our own, claim it as we once claimed land to up-end, take down trees and habitat, dam rivers, flood valleys, and see a new kind of power in owning this earth, we can make it once again tremendous, we can move from the role of fools to the divine work of the visionary who believes in what is possible. This is the point at which a thousand years from now, a child will find history a story of redemption.

Barabara Mossberg 2010