Tuesday

Aug. 24, 2010

Ode to the Yard Sale

by Gary Soto

A toaster,
A plate
Of pennies,
A plastic rose
Staring up
To the sky.
It's Saturday
And two friends,
Merchants of
The salvageable heart,
Are throwing
Things onto
The front lawn
A couch, a beanbag,
A table to clip
Poodles on,
Drawers of
Potato mashers,
Spoons, knives
That signaled
To the moon
For help.
Rent is due
It's somewhere
On the lawn,
Somewhere among
The shirts we've
Looked good in,
Taken off before
We snuggled up
To breasts
That almost made
Us gods.
It'll be a good
Day, because
There's much
To sell,
And the pitcher
Of water
Blue in the shade,
Clear in the
Light, with
The much-handled
Scotch the color
Of leaves
Falling at our
Shoes, will
Get us through
The afternoon
Rush of old
Ladies, young women
On their way
To becoming nurses,
Bachelors of
The twice-dipped
Tea bag. It's an eager day:
Wind in the trees,
Laughter of
Children behind
Fences. Surely
People will arrive
With handbags
And wallets,
To open up coffee
Pots and look
In, weigh pans
In each hand,
And prop hats
On their heads
And ask, "How do
I look?" (foolish
To most,
Beautiful to us).
And so they
Come, poking
At the clothes,
Lifting salt
And pepper shakers
For their tiny music,
Thumbing through
Old magazines
For someone
They know,
As we sit with
Our drinks
And grow sad
That the ashtray
Has been sold,
A lamp, a pillow,
The fry pans
That were action
Packed when
We cooked, those things
We threw so much
Love on, day
After day,
Sure they would mean something
When it came
To this.

"Ode to the Yard Sale" by Gary Soto, from New & Selected Poems. © Chronicle Books, 1995. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of Howard Zinn, (books by this author) born in Brooklyn, New York (1922). He's the author of A People's History of the United States (1980). It has sold more than a million copies and continues to sell about 100,000 copies each year.

Zinn wrote more than 20 books, including the memoir You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (1994). Last year, he said: "I think it's very important to bring back the idea of socialism into the national discussion to where it was at the turn of the [last] century before the Soviet Union gave it a bad name. Socialism had a good name in this country. Socialism had Eugene Debs. It had Clarence Darrow. It had Mother Jones. It had Emma Goldman. It had several million people reading socialist newspapers around the country. Socialism basically said, hey, let's have a kinder, gentler society. Let's share things. Let's have an economic system that produces things not because they're profitable for some corporation, but produces things that people need. People should not be retreating from the word socialism because you have to go beyond capitalism."

It's the birthday of essayist Sir Henry Maximilian Beerbohm, better known as Max Beerbohm, (books by this author) born in London (1872). He was well-known for his caricatures of famous people, other writers and British Royalty, and for his novels including A Christmas Garland (1912), Seven Men (1919), and Zuleika Dobson (1911).

He lived in Italy for 50 years, entertaining visitors like Ezra Pound, Truman Capote, Laurence Olivier, and Somerset Maugham, but never learned to speak Italian.

It was on this day four years ago that Pluto was demoted from being a planet. Pluto's status had been debated for decades, but its fate was decided rather swiftly on this day, at the 2006 meeting of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

The IAU is a group made up of about 10,000 astronomers from around the world. In 2006, the IAU meeting was in Prague. By the final day, most astronomers had headed back to their home countries, but 424 members remained. And on this day in 2006, these 424 members — about 5 percent of eligible voting astronomers in the world — voted on a new definition for the term "planet," under which Pluto no longer qualified. It became reclassified as a "dwarf planet," of which there are hundreds, and now there are only eight planets in our solar system.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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