Friday, December 1, 2017

November Poem-a-Day: A Sampler

So I made it through another poem-a-day challenge in November and emerged with 39 new poems. I can't say they're all great, but it was good to write regularly again for a while after a long dry spell. There were days, like there always are during challenges like this, when it seems really forced to get something out, but as fellow poet and workshop maven Peter Murphy says, "Give yourself permission to write a shitty poem." I followed the annual November Chapbook Challenge that Robert Lee Brewer hosts at his Poetic Asides blog, and used his daily prompts. Sometimes for a little extra creative "juice" I went to the Sunday Whirl blog and used their weekly word bank of a dozen words. The object, according to Robert, is to have enough good poems at the end of the month to put together a chapbook, and if you wish you can submit a short manuscript to him to compete in a contest. He selects a winner, whose only prize ostensibly is bragging rights. but even if you don't win, you may have the makings of a viable and sell-able manuscript. It's harder if you don't have a coherent theme, which I don't think I did this year, but in 2013 I wrote a month's worth of baseball poems which turned into my most recent chapbook.

I already shared one of my November poems in a previous blog entry, so here are nine more of what I consider some of the better poems I wrote:

[Day 1: "New day" poem - also used word bank from Sunday Whirl blog (chime, pine, try, sigh, sky, shore, walk, mist, signal, pebble, limber, mimic)]
Clearing the Air

Today I'll shake my worries free, or try -
I'll limber up and briskly walk the shore,
the morning mist still breaking, and before
the sun rolls up to dominate the sky,
before the seagulls hail me with their cry,
I'll keep the pace, a mile from my front door.
Beneath my feet, the pebbles underscore
my rough escape, acknowledged with a sigh.
The gulls come back to mimic my despair,
to signal that this all will be in vain.
I disagree. Beneath a windblown pine
I vow this is the day I will repair
the damage done, turn back to ease the pain,
and like the wind, I'll gently ring the chime.

[Day 2: "Disguise" poem]
This Guy's Disguise

You won't find me in a beret
scribbling furiously in a French café,
or pondering in an ascot
with a quill pen and a raven mascot.
No, I move among you incognito.
That whining noise like a mosquito?
Those are my poems, buzzing near your ear.
So next time in a bar, look up from your beer -
that might be me, two stools down to your left,
or at the Home Depot, you might see me heft
a ceiling fan over my bony shoulder.
Do you picture me younger or older?
I could be that hot guy at the cocktail party
or an old geezer in the cheese shop, buying Havarti.
I move like smoke - I can disperse in a minute,
then suddenly there's  a poem, and surprise! - you're in it.

[Day 8: "Object" or "thing" poem]
Nail Pop

You little rebel,
poking your head above the floorboard,
who snagged my sock last week -
you're the cause of the hole in my sole.
Worse yet, you ripped the skin
on my wife's foot that same day. 
I took a hammer and a nail set punch
to you, banged you down subfloor
where you belong, only to find you
creeping  aboveground again the next day.
I drove you down again, sealed you in
with a spot of glue, but you were made
of stronger stuff, and popped up
like a prairie dog two days later.
This morning, you bit my sock again,
the last straw.  I grabbed a pair of pliers,
pulled you out like a bad tooth,
and plugged up your hole with wood filler.
Now no one knows you were ever there,
except now in your absence, the board,
a little looser, utters a ghostly squeak.

[Day 11: "Unlucky" poem]
Lucky at Cards...

It's time to ante up
before I cash in my chips.
I can't bluff through this anymore.
You're not fooled by the poker face.
You'll see me and call me
and I'll have to lay down my hand.
I'll be straight with you
before you flush out the truth.
I'm not the king of fidelity;
in fact I'm a real jack-off.
You are the queen of patience
but it hasn't always been aces with us.
You said if we are to remain a pair
then we have to raise the stakes.
I need to be all in, or in the end,
I'll lose to the house.

[Day 12: "Transformative" poem - also used word bank from The Sunday Whirl blog (clear, taunting, body, fury, test, war, mission, lesson, dirt, slide, pay, disbelief)]
What They Brought Home

There's no time for disbelief
when a body lies in front of you.

You tell yourself to keep it together
with each exploding cloud of blood and dirt.

You can't forget the mission
even with the Devil taunting you.

Every minute is a test
of how long you can withstand the fury.

Success is the clear objective,
survival is secondary.

Back home, you slide down every night
and the war invades your dreams.

The biggest lesson that you've learned
is that everybody pays.

[Day 15: Title "Stranger ______"]
Stranger Universe

Before the digital age, if you tuned your TV to somewhere between channels, it would show the faint hum of white noise or snow. One percent of that snow was actually made up of radiation left over by the Big Bang.  - Zeeya Merali, A Big Bang in a Little Room

A stranger universe could not be made
by man. It blows our minds that TV sets
could catch the particles that never fade,
that beamed out from Creation, cosmic jets
of energy and matter blowing out,
but also that we breathe the oxygen
that dinosaurs inhaled, and how about
the rain that pelts our heads, to think that when
Li Po or Charlemagne walked out in storms,
the same rain soaked them too.  And then it hits
us - everything's a cycle, taking forms
from molecules and subatomic bits,
to supernovas - all of which surprise
and show us nothing ever really dies. 

[Day 20: "What I learned" - also used word bank from The Sunday Whirl blog (monkeys, chop, relish, strap, sting, moon, fly, kiss, merge, shimmy, crime, sword]
What I Learned About a Barrel of Monkeys

Almost anything in the world is more fun.
From the moment Amazon delivered it,
they emerged and wreaked havoc on my house,
shimmying up the curtains,
mooning me from the top of the TV,
taking flying leaps from my chandelier,
mocking me with kissy faces.
One of them took my ceremonial sword
off the wall and began to chop up my coffee table.
I took off my belt to threaten them,
thinking they would fear the sting of the strap,
but then they pantsed me.
I need to call animal control
before I'm arrested for a crime.
I don't relish this situation at all.
Maybe I can sell my house with the listing,
"as is - pets included".

[Day 23: "preface" poem]

Let me just say before we begin
that we have a lot to be thankful for.
For instance, I'm thankful for the free turkey
we got with our $300 purchase at Giant.
I'm thankful that my wife didn't make me
peel more potatoes than I did,
and that the nieces, nephews and grandchildren -
No running in the living room, kids! -
haven't broken anything in the house yet.
Thank you Uncle Jerry for not talking politics
and limiting yourself to one beer before dinner.
Thank you Bob and Jennifer for another year
of your killer green bean casserole, 
and thanks to my sister Marie for smoking outside.
So let's take a moment to give thanks to God,
or Jehovah, Allah, Gaia, humanity,
the Flying Spaghetti Monster,
or whomever you feel responsible
for this wonderful feast.... Dig in!

[Day 26: "Shine" poem]
My Back Door Someday

I've been waiting for that bright sunshine to show up
and shine in my back door someday.
- Luther Allison

When we moved across the street
after so many years, the sun followed us there,
but it was an old friend in a new light.
Before, it greeted us in the breakfast nook,
streaming in the back window most mornings,
and beat on our front door after noon,
sometimes mercilessly in summer.
Now, in our new home, it comes opposite -
mornings, a warm smash of yellow light
through the picture window, a golden glow
in the back yard through the cedar trees
in the afternoon. When the light slants just right,
it beams straight through the kitchen door,
and when it leaves at twilight, it's graceful enough
not to slam the screen.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Recommended Christmas CDs: The Expanded Version

I used to like to create "Listmania" lists on Amazon of my favorite music for different years, decades and categories - I had posted about 17 such lists before Amazon apparently discontinued and archived that feature. My list of favorite Christmas CDs is now apparently no longer visible to the public, nor can I edit or update it. So what I will do instead is re-post my "top 50" list again here, with expanded notes on why I recommend each one. I hope it's helpful. All of these recordings are, I believe, still currently available through Amazon. (Asterisks indicate "Amazon's Choice" or "Best Seller" selections.)

A Charlie Brown Christmas [2012 Remastered & Expanded Edition]
*1. A Charlie Brown Christmas - Vince Guaraldi: Perhaps the best jazz Christmas album ever AND the best Christmas soundtrack ever from the best Christmas special ever.

*2. December - George Winston: Probably the best solo piano Christmas album ever. Winston's blend of classical and new age styles is particularly impressive on "Pachelbel's Canon", "The Holly and the Ivy", and "Carol of the Bells".

*3. Noël - Joan Baez: Remastered version of her classic Christmas album, beautifully sung, and tastefully arranged by Peter Schickele.

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4. The New Possibility - John Fahey: His first Christmas album, "The New Possibility", is the best solo folk guitar Christmas album ever.  This CD also contains his second Christmas album, which was almost as good.

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*5. A Festival of Carols in Brass - Philadelphia Brass Ensemble: One of the first - and best - brass Christmas albums.  Their arrangement of "Twelve Days of Christmas" is a familiar classic.

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6. We Three Kings - The Roches: Great three-part harmony from this sister act on traditional and original carols, including a hilarious "Winter Wonderland" with Bronx accents.

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*7. On Yoolis Night - Anonymous 4: The first of several early-music Christmas collections from this sublime four-woman choral group, featuring seasonal music from the middle ages and Renaissance.

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*8. The Bells of Dublin - The Chieftains: Wonderful celebration of the season from the Irish legends, plus help from friends like Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, Nanci Griffith and the McGarrigle sisters.

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9.  The Phil Spector Christmas Album - Phil Spector et al.: His stable of girl groups created a rock n' roll Christmas card - lots of fun, and Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is a true tour de force.  (also released as A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector)

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10.The Jethro Tull Christmas Album - Jethro Tull: A tasty wassail of folk-rock, with dashes of classical and jazz, from the veteran band.  Also their best album in many a year.

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11. Handel: Messiah - Toronto Symphony Orch./Toronto Mendelssohn Choir/Andrew Davis: There are several good versions of this, the most beautiful choral piece ever written.  This is one of my favorites - there's also a 1-disc "highlights" version available.

Nutcracker: Complete Ballet Score
12. Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (Complete Ballet) - London Symphony Orchestra/Charles Mackerras: There are several good versions of this around, too, but this is my favorite.  It is actually the soundtrack of the 1990 film of the ballet (with Macauley Culkin!)

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13. Noël: Christmas at King's - King's College Choir, Cambridge: The legendary all-male British choir shines on this 2-disc compilation of traditional carols.

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*14. A Winter's Solstice - Various Artists (Windham Hill): The first of a long series from Windham Hill artists, and still one of the best - peaceful and inspiring.

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15. The Peace Album - Paul Horn: Beautiful album by a master flutist, who overdubs himself on several flute parts to create a nearly-orchestral sound.  His version of "Angels We Have Heard on High" will give you goose bumps.

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16. Celtic Christmas - Various Artists (Windham Hill): There must be a hundred "Celtic Christmas" collections out there, but this Windham Hill series was the first, and still the best.   Gentle and gorgeous - you can almost hear the snow falling.

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17. In Dulci Jubilo - James Galway: A lush and lovely classical celebration, led by the great flutist, with orchestra and boy choir.  "James Galway's Christmas Carol" is also an excellent CD.

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18. Ultimate Christmas - The Beach Boys: Their classic 1960's Christmas album (featuring "Little Saint Nick"), plus tracks from their unreleased 1970's sequel, and assorted rarities - a Yuletide treat!

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*19. Holiday Spirits - Straight No Chaser: This ten-man a cappella group became a huge hit thanks to their viral video, a very amusing version of "12 Days of Christmas".  The music of that performance is here, along with a dozen other great arrangements of popular and traditional songs.  A delightful mix of jazz and doo-wop.

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20. The Spirit of Christmas - Mormon Tabernacle Choir: I always loved their older material better, with just the organ accompaniment, not  the symphonic bombast.  This is one of the few collections on CD of their earlier recordings.

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*21. Christmas with Robert Shaw - Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Robert Shaw, cond.: A personal favorite - Shaw conducts both symphony and chorus in a splendid program of classical and traditional Christmas compositions, ending with a rousing "Hallelujah Chorus".

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*22. It's a Holiday Soul Party! - Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: The late Ms. Jones had soul to spare! She and her band created a fun and funky record which kicks off with "8 Days of Hanukkah".

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23. Daquin: Douze (12) Noels - Christopher Herrick, organ: This program of noels for solo organ by French composer Daquin may not be as familiar to American ears, but each one is inspiring and beautiful and definitely has that "carol" feel.

Sounds of the Season
24. Sounds of the Season - Maggie Sansome: Sansome is a virtuoso of the hammered dulcimer, and she and her ensemble create a lovely program of traditional Christmas carols and other Celtic tunes.

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*25. To Drive the Cold Winter Away - Loreena McKennitt : McKennitt's gorgeous ethereal voice and interesting arrangements always make for an entertaining program of seasonal songs. Also recommended is her album Midwinter Night's Dream.

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26. A Canadian Brass Christmas - The Canadian Brass: It's not Christmas without brass, and these guys have put out a number of holiday albums. This is the first, to my knowledge. It's charming and occasionally silly fun.

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27. Acoustic Christmas - Various Artists (CBS Records): A wonderful compilation of mainly folk and "adult alternative" artists, including Laura Nyro, Shawn Colvin, Roseanne Cash, and Art Garfunkel, who does an absolutely gorgeous version of "O Come All Ye Faithful".

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28. Christmas with the Puppini Sisters - The Puppini Sisters: A throwback to the Big-Band Era "sister" vocal groups - tight harmony and great musicality, kicking off with a novel arrangement of Elton John's "Step into Christmas".

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29. Strange Communion - Thea Gilmore: A little darker and more non-traditional than the standard seasonal fare, but Gilmore's rich voice makes it a rewarding experience, mixing Christmas and solstice to great effect. Highlight: "The St. Stephen's Day Murders", co-written by Elvis Costello and the Chieftains' Paddy Maloney.

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*30. James Taylor at Christmas - James Taylor: JT's mellow voice is the perfect fit for this collection of holiday songs, including an novel, jazzy arrangement of "Jingle Bells" and a beautiful rendition of the lesser-known "Some Children See Him".

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31. Christmas - Bruce Cockburn: The great Canadian singer-songwriter's collection of original and traditional tunes.  Rootsy, folky, and very fine.

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*32. The Best of B.B. King Christmas Collection/20th Century Masters - B.B. King: B.B. has always sung "Merry Christmas, Baby" like he owns it, and here he's in top form, performing it again with several other bluesy holiday standards. (Also released as A Christmas Celebration of Hope)

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*33. Light of the Stable - Emmylou Harris: Probably the best "country" Christmas album ever.  New and familiar carols rendered by Emmylou's angelic voice, and friends like Neil Young and Linda Ronstadt.  This release features new bonus tracks.

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34. A Tapestry of Carols - Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band: Maddy Prior (of Steeleye Span fame) and the Carnival Band present carols with an Olde English flavor.  Very enjoyable.

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35. Winter - Steeleye Span: Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band are great, but here's Maddy with her original band. A strong return to form - sublime harmony and instrumentation, but also the rockin'est "Good King Wenceslas" you've ever heard.

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*36. Songs for Christmas - Sufjan Stevens: Alternatively reverent and fun, complete with entertaining inserts, this box set of EP's is Sufjan at his quirky-genius best - a fine collection of familiar and original holiday tunes.

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*37. Tinsel and Lights - Tracey Thorn: One half of the acclaimed British duo Everything But the Girl has created a fine holiday album. Her rich alto carries us through a program of mostly lesser-known contemporary seasonal songs, plus "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and Joni Mitchell's "River".

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*38. A Very Special Christmas - Various Artists: The first of a series that, in my opinion, are the best of the "pop/rock" Christmas collections - eclectic and entertaining, and for a good cause (the Special Olympics). Features Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Madonna, The Eurhythmics, the Pointer Sisters, U2, et al. I also recommend volume 2.

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39. Christmas with the Smithereens - The Smithereens: A rockin' good time from the venerable Jersey band, with original songs, standards, and interesting covers, like "Christmas" from the Who's "Tommy" and the rare Beatles tune "Christmas Time is Here Again."

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*40. On Christmas Night - Cherish the Ladies: The best Irish-American women's group around does familiar carols and less-familiar Celtic tunes, by turns beautiful and sprightly.

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41. My Holiday - Mindy Smith: Sweet honeyed voice, kind of a cross between Norah Jones and Emmylou Harris.  Mellow alt-country originals and some fine covers of Christmas standards, too.

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42. Snow Angels - Over the Rhine: A mellow collection of mostly-original tunes for the season. Karen Bergquist's vocals, from wistful to sultry, really carry the material well. "Darlin' (Christmas is Coming)" is one of the highlights.

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*43. 12 Songs of Christmas - Etta James:  The R&B legend's 1998 album of holiday tunes is a satisfying blend of blues and jazz, and like a good scotch - smooth but a little sassy.

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44. Wintersong - Sarah McLachlan: Sarah's ethereal voice lends a wistful mood to old and new favorites, including her previously recorded version of Gordon Lightfoot's "Song for a Winter's Night".

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*45. Christmas Songs - Diana Krall: Ms. Krall lends her cool-but-sultry vocal and piano stylings to the "usual suspects" of modern holiday classics, with big-band arrangements and one slight program surprise, "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep."

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*46. Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas - Mary Chapin Carpenter: A quiet, contemplative, and beautiful album from the country-folk artist, featuring original songs and some less-familiar traditional carols. Warm and cozy as a Yule log fire.

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47. A Holiday Carole - Carole King: Collaborating with daughter Louise Goffin, King is still in fine voice on this 2011 recording, a fine sampling of familiar tunes and some new ones too, done in her unmistakable style. (Originally titled A Christmas Carole)

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48. The McGarrigle Christmas Hour - Kate and Anna McGarrigle, et al.: A real "family affair", like spending an evening in the living room of musical friends. A warm and entertaining album featuring Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Kate's offspring Rufus and Martha Wainwright, and friends like Emmylou Harris.

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49. Christmas Time Again - The dB's et al.: This is a fine collection from one of the underappreciated "jangle-pop" bands of the 1980's, and an impressive bunch of "friends" like Big Star, Whiskeytown and Marshall Crenshaw.  Expanded to 21 tracks in its last release.

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50. Christmas Means Love - Joan Osborne: Joan's strong and versatile voice is used to great effect here, whether tackling gospel ("Go Where I Send Thee"), slightly raunchy blues ("What Do Bad Girls Get?") or rootsy folk (The Band's "Christmas Must Be Tonight"). Some unique arrangements, too - overall a very
satisfying album.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Poem-a-Day November and Favorite Christmas Music

Scrape off the mold, dust the cobwebs, oil the rusty gears - it's blog time! Other than the April Poem-a-Day challenge, I've been very inactive here lately (not that anyone really missed me). It's been a busy, crazy year, with a lot happening, mainly our move to a newer home - downsizing for the retirement years. Also I am still watching my two young and active granddaughters as a full-time volunteer position. Poetry has had to take a back seat most days, but I am participating in Robert Lee Brewer's Poem-a-Day Chapbook Challenge this month over at the Poetic Asides blog. So far I've written 31 poems in 23 days. I don't really have a theme in mind to produce a chapbook, but at least I'll have a pile of new poems - I've already more than tripled my production of poetry this month compared to the previous six months. I haven't been sharing them here like I do in April (when I also do a poem a day), but here is a sample of one I wrote, appropriate for the approaching holidays. The prompt was to write a poem about "good for nothing".

My Wife is Good for Nothing

Every year from her church's wishing tree
she plucks the tag of a family in need,
usually one with several children.

Then she buys presents, not one for each of them,
but several  - nice things like dolls, pajamas,
coats, toy trucks, an electronic game,
enough to fill the floor beneath their tree.
Imagine Christmas morning, and the joy of these kids
who otherwise might have got little or nothing.

She remains anonymous, a secret Santa.
For all that goodness, she expects nothing in return,
not even a thank you, although sometimes
she does receive one through the church.

We should all have this huge a heart.
We should all be so good for nothing.

And since it's the holiday season again, I've trucked out my Christmas CD collection to put such music in heavy rotation (though these days I seem to rely more and more on Spotify and my Amazon music files). Anyway, here are 50 of my all-time favorite Christmas albums, roughly in order, representing a range of pop, rock, classical, jazz and traditional music. Some of these may now be out of print or hard to find, but they are worth seeking.

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas - Vince Guaraldi
2. December - George Winston
3. Noël - Joan Baez
4. The New Possibility - John Fahey
5. A Festival of Carols in Brass - Philadelphia Brass Ensemble
6. We Three Kings - The Roches
7. On Yoolis Night - Anonymous 4
8. The Bells of Dublin - The Chieftains
9.  A Christmas Gift for You - Phil Spector et al.
10.The Jethro Tull Christmas Album - Jethro Tull
11. Handel: Messiah - Toronto Symphony Orch./Toronto Mendelssohn Choir/Andrew Davis
12. Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (Complete Ballet) - London Symphony Orchestra/Charles Mackerras
13. Noël: Christmas at King's - King's College Choir, Cambridge
14. A Winter's Solstice - Various Artists (Windham Hill)
15. The Peace Album - Paul Horn
16. Celtic Christmas - Various Artists (Windham Hill)
17. In Dulci Jubilo - James Galway
18. Ultimate Christmas - The Beach Boys
19. Holiday Spirits - Straight No Chaser
20. The Spirit of Christmas - Mormon Tabernacle Choir
21. Christmas with Robert Shaw - Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Robert Shaw, cond.
22. It's a Holiday Soul Party! - Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
23. Daquin: 12 Noëls - Christopher Herrick, organ
24. Sounds of the Season - Maggie Sansome
25. To Drive the Cold Winter Away - Loreena McKennitt
26. A Canadian Brass Christmas - The Canadian Brass
27. Acoustic Christmas - Various Artists (CBS Records)
28. Christmas with the Puppini Sisters - The Puppini Sisters
29. Strange Communion - Thea Gilmore
30. James Taylor at Christmas - James Taylor
31. Christmas - Bruce Cockburn
32. The Best of B.B. King Christmas Collection/20th Century Masters - B.B. King
33. Light of the Stable - Emmylou Harris
34. A Tapestry of Carols - Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band
35. Winter - Steeleye Span
36. Songs for Christmas - Sufjan Stevens
37. Tinsel and Lights - Tracey Thorn
38. A Very Special Christmas 1 and 2 - Various Artists
39. Christmas with the Smithereens - The Smithereens
40. On Christmas Night - Cherish the Ladies
41. My Holiday - Mindy Smith
42. Snow Angels - Over the Rhine
43. 12 Songs of Christmas - Etta James
44. Wintersong - Sarah McLachlan
45. Christmas Songs - Diana Krall
46. Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas - Mary Chapin Carpenter
47. A Holiday Carole - Carole King
48. The McGarrigle Christmas Hour - Kate and Anna McGarrigle, et al.
49. Christmas Time Again - The dB's et al.
50. Christmas Means Love - Joan Osborne

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Reviewing April PAD: Best of the Month?

As I mentioned, I was very pleased to be able to write 54 poems during National Poetry Month. I found that starting my writing time first thing in the morning was the best strategy, before the drudge of chores and the (demanding) blessing of caring for young granddaughters began. There's also a lot to be said for writing while you're still fresh and rested. Most days I had something at least started by 8:30 a.m. (Maybe I should continue that strategy.) I also found that I was leaning heavily toward humorous poetry and light verse throughout the month. I think it's because of the dire political events of the last 6 months or so - I feel a need to laugh to keep from crying.  When I wrote "Trumpericks", a batch of half a dozen satirical limericks about Donald Trump, a Facebook poet friend said, "Didn't that feel therapeutic?" Yes, it did.

I presume Robert Lee Brewer of Poetic Asides will once again ask participants in his PAD challenge to submit up to five of the best poems they wrote in April, so he can announce his picks for the best of the year. (Once again, I regret having so little time to read other poets' work, but there was some really good poetry to be found in connection with both blogs, so maybe i can spend more time now to discover it.)  Last year I made his top 21, and I would love to be a finalist again this year.

So to help you out a little, so you don't have to slog through 30 days of blog posts, here are what I consider my best five poems of this April:

[two poems deleted]

April 28:

Now what the hell?
What is that smell?
We know it well.
It’s really vile
and gross as bile,
and lasts a while
and spreads a mile.

You stripy ghost,
unwilling host
who reeks the most,
you lift your trunk
and spray your junk
at any punk
who gives you bunk,

then we must dunk
ourselves and sluice
tomato juice,
head to caboose,
to try and loose
the stink that’s in
our hair and skin.

You black-and-white
child of the night,
we will not fight
lest we lose sight
of your foul might,
and your alacrity
with unsatisfactory
things olfactory.

Pepé Le Pew,
we don’t hate you,
but for now, adieu.
You do have spunk –
don’t  be in a funk,
or we’ll be sunk
and get a chunk
of eau de skunk.

April 29:
A Metric Poem

We sometimes run kilometers
(5K is popular here).
We drink our Coke in liters,
and water, but not beer.

We briefly employed Celsius
(also known as Centigrade)
to tell just how hot we were,
but that trend began to fade.

We are a land of miles and feet,
and we're mostly metric-free.
If you're looking for a meter,
you'll still find it in poetry.

And yet, that's not quite true of Frost,
who talked of promises kept,
but not kilometers he must go
before he finally slept.

April 20:
Romance, Anyone? (Formerly titled "Tennis, Anyone?")
My task is to court you.
I’m serving you compliments
but you just lob them back.
This back-and-forth doesn’t seem
to net me anything so far.
Maybe I need more topspin.
We’re playing singles now,
not mixed doubles.
This game seems to go on
forever. You’re set in your ways,
and I seem no match for you.
What’s your racket?
I’m already past thirty, love,
but I’ll keep smashing away.
Maybe I’ll ace it,
maybe I ‘ll double-fault,
but you are worth the effort.
It should be no surprise
that “volley” is an anagram

for “lovely." 

Rounding out my top 10:
War of Words (Apr. 4)
Once in the Middle of a Time (Apr.15)
Marginalia (Apr. 24)
The Agnostic's Sunday (Apr. 30) 
10 Ways of Hearing a Thunderstorm (Apr. 6)

Anyway, those are my picks. As most poets and writers know, your favorites are usually the ones you just wrote, so my opinions of these will undoubtedly change over time. If you wish, you may scan my daily blogs from April to see if there are any you like better,or maybe you already read some you like better. In either case (or even if you just like these), thanks for reading!

PAD Day 30: Finish Line!

Wow, I made it again! This is the 10th year I've followed Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides blog for the Poem-a-day Challenge, and the fifth year I've followed Maureen Thorson's NaPoWriMo blog. The two together make for intriguing double prompts, and I want to thank them both for providing inspiration once again throughout the month of April. 

Taking a final count, I find it has been a pretty productive April. Counting today, I have written:
20 free verse poems
7 clerihews
6 haiku
6 limericks
4 general rhymed verse poems
3 sonnets
3 "elevenies"
1 ghazal
1 "skeltonic" verse
1 blank verse (a "bop")
1 prose poem (a fable)
1 "trijan refrain"
That's a grand total of 54 poems in one month. Granted, about 40% of them were "short form", but still, not too shabby, On the other hand, I have a friend who was on a pace to write about 90 this month.

Today's prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo are: (1) write a poem with the title "The _______", and (2) write about something that happens “again and again”, with regularity or predictability. Robert's prompt today was a little disappointing, so for additional inspiration, I used the “Wordle” (a word bank of about a dozen words, graphically presented) from this week’s Sunday Whirl blog. The words this week are: run, itch, lace, spiral, chip, settle, sum, life, sing, saints, list, prayer. I managed to weave them all into this poem.
[poem deleted]

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Mini-bonus: More Clerihews!

In reviewing my poetry files for this month, I found two politically-themed clerihews that I forgot to post. So here you go:

Sean Spicer
could be nicer
and show a bit more tact
when he spews each "alternative fact.".

Steve Bannon,
that loose cannon,
got cut from National Security
and it had nothing to do with racial purity.

Bonus: The Annotated Birthday Poem

As promised, here is the annotated version of the second poem I posted on Day 27, showing references to the celebrities who share my birthday.

For Birth Sakes (April 27)

Mother of Frankenstein! I'm all for women's rights,[1]
but I don't often telegraph [2] my opinions.
God grant me the right to speak generally [3],
and talk of trivial things like my love for three oranges [4].
Don't let my horns be [5] too loud when I blow them -
I'm not in the Hall of Fame [5,6], and I would never go
to the country and slaughter [6] a calf.
I might draw cartoons of woodpeckers [7] though,
and I might be half of an odd couple, but I'm no medical examiner [8],
and I'm certainly not the wife of a king  [9].
I'm a fan of the love of a man and a woman [10],
and like my football coach, I'm from the college of Hard Knox [11].
I listen to the American Top 40 [12] constantly,
but sometimes it distracts me - once I went up the down staircase,
but I'm not afraid of Virginia Woolf  [13].
You can sock it to me  [14], you can show me the money  [15],
you can give me piano lessons or build fences [16] around me,
but if you want it, here it is - come and get it [17].
I'll roam if I want to, even to the love shack [18]
or Detroit Rock City, where I can rock and roll all nite [19].
Then I'll take the morning train, and be for your eyes only [20],
I'll look as distinguished as a senator, or a booker [21] of getaways
even if I'm still in my morning jacket [22].

Key to clues:
[1]: Mary Wollstonecraft, early women's rights advocate and mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley
[2]: Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph
[3]: US Civil War general and President Ulysses S. Grant
[4]: Sergei Prokoviev, Russian classical composer (the opera Love for Three  Oranges)
[5]: Rogers Hornsby (Hall of Fame baseball player)
[6]: "Country" Enos Slaughter (another baseball Hall of Famer)
[7]: Walter Lantz (animator, creator of Woody Woodpecker)
[8]: Jack Klugman (star of  the TV series The Odd Couple and Quincy: M.E.)
[9]: Coretta Scott King (wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)
[10]: Anouk Aimee (French actress, nominated for an Academy Award for best actress for A Man and a Woman)
[11]: Chuck Knox (former NFL football coach)
[12]: Casey Kasem (announcer, DJ, voice actor, host of American Top 40 radio series)
[13]: Sandy Dennis (actress, Up the Down Staircase and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?)
[14]: Judy Carne (actress/comedienne, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In; known as the "Sock It to Me!" girl)
[15]: Cuba Gooding Jr. (actor, Jerry Maguire)
[16]: August Wilson (playwright, The Piano Lesson, Fences)
[17]: Pete Ham (member of British pop group Badfinger)
[18]: Kate Pierson (member of The B-52's)
[19]: Ace Frehley (member of KISS)
[20]: Sheena Easton (singer)
[21]: Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)
[22]: Jim James (leader of the alt-rock band My Morning Jacket)]