Thursday, July 19, 2012

More Poetry from Peterson's Field Guide to the N. Atlantic

Skeleton Shrimps

Form and behavior 
often delicate. Methodical 

in movement, some are 
especially associated with sea stars
and brown or reddish to match. 

Others prefer drifting. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hot Reads, Cold Reads: Taking a Book’s Temperature

Hot Reads, Cold Reads: Taking a Book’s Temperature

John Steinbeck, warm. Steve Almond's Candyfreak, melted milk chocolate warm.

Grimm's Fairy Tales, cold. Ditto The Metamorphosis and anything by a Russian. Nabokov's Pale Fire case in point, how cold it is is right in the title for gosh's sakes. Some people find Austen cool as a wet washcloth on a fevered brow.

Zorba The Greek, dry heat. Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, Florida swamp heat. Annie Dillard skates on thick Midwestern pond ice.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Atlantic Seashore Field Guide Poetry

Called simply "the clam"
in New England where it is usually fried
it is more common in our area than the Angel Wing.
On his 4th voyage Columbus was marooned,
for a year in Jamaica
which was detectable under a microscope
with careful manipulation of the substage lighting.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Horseshoe Crabs

I was going to title this blogpost Why Do Bad Things Happen? and go on as I am wont to do about my cervical vertebrae and facial muscle spasms that so contort my face my children draw portraits of me askew, but I realized the more mysterious question is not why do bad things happen, it is how is it that horseshoe crabs have been around since the Triassic?

These animals with long institutional memory are chopped up for lobster bait. Today I feel a lot like lobster bait. There is a whiff about me of low tide, and ancient memory. 

One summer at my grandparents' farm on Miles River of the Chesapeake Bay the moon and the tide must have been just right because hundreds of horseshoe crabs crawled up  from the depths into the shallows and my grandfather called us all out to watch them as they lay their eggs. We shined flashlights on them and gawked. Monsters. Dinosauric.

The next morning there were many dead. Their carapaces clicked and rubbed against each other as they had the night before, but this time it was different. If we had been smart, as smart as the Native Americans who plied this particular piece of land long before my family, we would've gathered them all up, and laid them on the fields.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Hang in with me dear reader as I reinvent myself, the arthritis has gotten worse and I've always liked invertebrates.  I can't use my hands to write anymore if I want to be able to use them for anything else, like brushing my daughter's hair.

I'm using voice recognition software and it's bumpy. I'm bumpy. My hands have been intermediaries, traders in the Khyber Pass between the warring countries of brain and page.

I'm not going to edit this, because I tell my kids all the time making mistakes is what learning something new looks like. I'm a 7-year-old learning how to read. I'm a 40-year-old picking up a new instrument. Everybody around me puts their earplugs in.

In the section about cephalopods in my Field Guide to The Atlantic Seashore, it is written, "Some of these live on or near the bottom, far out on the continental shelf or beyond; others swim suspended in the darkness above the abyss of the deep-sea."

And this, on the Paper Nautilus: "the shell is secreted by 2 modified arms of the female as the brood chamber."

Brood chamber.  I've been looking for a long time for the words to describe what this blog is.