an important reminder, especially now, as a new mother that desperately wants my newborn daughter to grow up and not need reminders...


on stars.



the magical world of snails, by ukrainian nature photographer vyacheslav mishchenko


when we move next month, i am going to miss sitting outside on our dock at night, across from the dark forest of mangroves filled with fireflies and the sounds of night creatures, and seeing all of the stars--feeling extra small because the lights are both above me and below, reflected in the tea-colored waters of the canal.


our lily vs. arum lily--a scan from the lilliput pocket omnibus (1937)


on children's need for risk and free play:
If a 10-year-old lit a fire at an American playground, someone would call the police and the kid would be taken for counseling. At the Land, spontaneous fires are a frequent occurrence. The park is staffed by professionally trained “playworkers,” who keep a close eye on the kids but don’t intervene all that much. Claire Griffiths, the manager of the Land, describes her job as “loitering with intent.” Although the playworkers almost never stop the kids from what they’re doing, before the playground had even opened they’d filled binders with “risk benefits assessments” for nearly every activity. (In the two years since it opened, no one has been injured outside of the occasional scraped knee.) Here’s the list of benefits for fire: “It can be a social experience to sit around with friends, make friends, to sing songs to dance around, to stare at, it can be a co-operative experience where everyone has jobs. It can be something to experiment with, to take risks, to test its properties, its heat, its power, to re-live our evolutionary past.” The risks? “Burns from fire or fire pit” and “children accidentally burning each other with flaming cardboard or wood.” In this case, the benefits win, because a playworker is always nearby, watching for impending accidents but otherwise letting the children figure out lessons about fire on their own.


writer pramoedya ananta toer spent fourteen years as a political prisoner on indonesia's notorious buru island, arrested and beaten as a communist and enemy of suharto's new order.  while in prison, he was unable to use paper and pen to write his stories; rather, he created rich oral stories about the lives of colonized indonesia that he would share with his fellow inmates in the shower--the only time when the prisoners has any social interaction.  many of these prisoners have said that it was toer's stories that got them through their time on buru island.  after many years, he was finally allowed to write these stories down with the assistance of the other prisoners, who shared his work so he could spend more time writing.  only four of these stories survived (as the buru quartet)--the rest were taken and destroyed by prison guards.  though his work was later banned by the indonesian government, indonesian people copied and shared his writing.  the first novel, this earth of mankind, has become a classic work on (post)colonial life.

"i don't write to give joy to readers but to give them a conscience."

thanks to wendy laura belcher's "writing your journal article in 12 weeks" for the story--and the reminder that all writing (academic or otherwise) can be creative, collaborative, and maybe even transformative for both the writer and the reader.


mirror protest, ukraine


This is the year that squatters evict landlords,
gazing like admirals from the rail
of the roofdeck

or levitating hands in praise

of steam in the shower;
this is the year
that shawled refugees deport judges
who stare at the floor
and their swollen feet
as files are stamped
with their destination;
this is the year that police revolvers,
stove-hot, blister the fingers
of raging cops,
and nightsticks splinter
in their palms;
this is the year
that darkskinned men
lynched a century ago
return to sip coffee quietly
with the apologizing descendants
of their executioners.

This is the year that those
who swim the border's undertow
and shiver in boxcars
are greeted with trumpets and drums
at the first railroad crossing
on the other side;
this is the year that the hands
pulling tomatoes from the vine
uproot the deed to the earth that sprouts the vine,
the hands canning tomatoes
are named in the will
that owns the bedlam of the cannery;
this is the year that the eyes
stinging from the poison that purifies toilets
awaken at last to the sight
of a rooster-loud hillside,
pilgrimage of immigrant birth;
this is the year that cockroaches
become extinct, that no doctor
finds a roach embedded
in the ear of an infant;
this is the year that the food stamps
of adolescent mothers
are auctioned like gold doubloons,
and no coin is given to buy machetes
for the next bouquet of severed heads
in coffee plantation country.

If the abolition of slave-manacles
began as a vision of hands without manacles,
then this is the year;
if the shutdown of extermination camps
began as imagination of a land
without barbed wire or the crematorium,
then this is the year;
if every rebellion begins with the idea
that conquerors on horseback
are not many-legged gods, that they too drown
if plunged in the river,
then this is the year.

So may every humiliated mouth,
teeth like desecrated headstones,
fill with the angels of bread.

Martin Espada, from "Imagine the Angels of Bread"