Jul. 29, 2001

SUNDAY, 29 JULY 2001
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Poem: "safe," by Charles Bukowski from Bone Palace Ballet (Black Sparrow Press).


the house next door makes me
both man and wife rise early and
go to work.
they arrive home in early evening.
they have a young boy and a girl.
by 9 p.m. all the lights in the house
are out.
the next morning both man and
wife rise early again and go to
they return in early evening.
By 9 p.m. all the lights are

the house next door makes me
the people are nice people, I
like them.

but I feel them drowning.
and I can't save them.

they are surviving.
they are not

but the price is

sometimes during the day
I will look at the house
and the house will look at
and the house will
weep, yes, it does, I
feel it.

It's the birthday of novelist Mary Lee Settle, born in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1918. She is the author of the novel Blood Ties (and other works).

It's the birthday of the novelist Edwin O'Connor, born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1918. He wrote The Last Hurrah, published in 1956.

It's the birthday of novelist Chester Himes, born in Jefferson City, Missouri, in 1909.

It's the birthday of journalist and author Don Marquis, born in Walnut, Illinois, in 1878. He came to New York City and wrote a column for the New York Sun called "Sun Dial." In 1916, he introduced his readers to two characters, Archie and Mehitabel. Archy was a free-verse poet who had died and had been reincarnated as a cockroach, and Mehitabel was a cat who saw herself as a woman of the world. Archy wrote notes to Marquis by hurling his insect body upon the typewriter keys. In one of the poems, Archy asks a moth why he keeps banging into an electric light. The moth replies: "We get bored with the routine/and crave beauty/and excitement/fire is beautiful/and we know if we get too close it will kill us/but what does that matter/it is better to be happy/for a moment/and be burned up with beauty/than to live a long time/and be bored all the while." Archy replies that: "I do not agree with him/myself I would rather have/half the happiness and twice the longevity/but at the same time I wish/there was something I wanted/as badly as he wanted to fry himself." Don Marquis had a very hard life. His young son died, two wives died, his daughter died, and he himself suffered from a heart attack, uremic poisoning, and a stroke. He spent 10 years working on a play that he hoped would make his reputation. He dreaded that thought that he would be remembered for having created a cockroach.

It's the birthday of novelist Booth Tarkington, born in Indianapolis in 1869. He was the author of many best-selling books, including his immensely popular Penrod series. He followed this up with The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams.

It's the birthday of historian and political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville, born in Paris in 1805. He came to the United States in 1831 and stayed for 9 months. His famous work, Democracy in America, a very positive account of American government and society, came out of this time period. He said: "If I were asked ... to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of [the Americans] ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply: To the superiority of the women."

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