Friday

Jul. 19, 2002

Spell for a Poet Getting On

by Lola Haskins

FRIDAY, 19 JULY 2002
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: "Spell for a Poet Getting On," by Lola Haskins from The Rim Benders (Anhinga Press).

Spell for a Poet Getting On

May your hipbones never die.
May you hear the ruckus of mountains
in the Kansas of your age, and when
you go deaf, may you go wildly deaf.

May the neighbors arrive, bringing entire aviaries.
When the last of your hair is gone, may families
lovelier than you can guess colonize
the balds of your head.

May your thumbstick grow leaves.
May the nipples of your breasts drip wine.
And when, leaning into the grass, you watch
the inky sun vanish into the flat page

of the sea, may you join your lawn chair,
each of you content
that nothing is wise forever.


It's the birthday of CIA agent and author Philip Agee, born in Tacoma Park, Florida (1935). Agee joined the Central Intelligence in 1957, and immediately began fulfilling his military obligation with three years in the United States Air Force. From there, he was sent to serve as an agent in South America. After nine years, however, Agee was unhappy with what he saw as going on around him and what he was asked to do. He characterized the CIA as "a covert body of enforcement for American capitalist interests abroad." He wrote two exposes of the CIA, in 1975 (Inside the Company: CIA Diary ) and in 1978 (Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe), and then went to live in Cuba.

It's the birthday of journalist and writer Edgar Snow, born in Kansas City, Missouri (1905). He was one of the first writers to be aware of the Chinese Communists, and he soon realized that Westerners knew practically nothing about them. So he set out to find the Communist stronghold in the caves of Yenan, where he ultimately spent several months with Mao Tse-tung. He wrote about his experiences in the 1937 book, Red Star Over China. In 1970, Snow met with Chou En-lai, who dropped hints to Snow that China might be willing to speak with the United States, saying, "The door is open." That led the way for President Nixon's historic trip to China in 1972.

It's the birthday of artist (Hilaire Germain) Edgar Degas, born in Paris, France (1834). He began by painting historical events, but soon realized he wanted to paint modern subjects. Back in Paris, he painted scenes of the spectators and riders at the racetrack. A bassoonist from the Paris Opera introduced him to the world of the theater, and Degas began the paintings for which he is most famous - studies of ballerinas in various resting poses, rehearsing and dancing. Although he painted mostly in oils, Degas was also a master at pastels and at sculpture.

It's the birthday of inventor and manufacturer Samuel Colt, born in Hartford, Connecticut (1814), who expressed an interest in explosives and firearms from an early age. In 1836, he was issued a patent for a gun with a revolving cylinder containing five or six bullets. Previously, firearms had to be reloaded after one or two shots. Colt purchased a large plot of land in Hartford, Connecticut and opened a factory there, and began turning out mass-produced firearms with interchangeable parts. By 1856, the company was producing one hundred fifty weapons a day, and Colt became one of the wealthiest businessmen in the country. Colt was a consummate salesman, and was one of the first American manufacturers to utilize such modern concepts as advertising and public relations. He died in 1862, at the age of forty-seven, leaving an estate worth more than fifteen million dollars, an enormous sum for the time that would equal about three hundred million dollars today.

In 1848 on this day, the first women's rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. Three hundred people attended. In the Declaration of Sentiments, drafted by organizer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the first public demand for women's suffrage was made. The declaration read in part, "The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her." At the time, women couldn't vote, they couldn't serve on juries, they were barred from most professions, were excluded from higher education, and were represented by their husbands in almost every way.

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