Mar. 6, 2002

the click of miracle

by Charles Bukowski

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Poem: "the click of miracle," by Charles Bukowski from Septuagenarian Stew (Black Sparrow Press).

the click of miracle

at the quarterhorse meet
at Hollywood Park

around 5 p.m.

if you are sitting at
ground level

in the

the track appears

above you


in the strange

the silks

the color

fresh paint


the faces of


it's a


a perfect



such small



such small








It's the birthday of writer and environmentalist Rick Bass, born in Fort Worth, Texas (1958). He majored in petroleum geology, and in 1979, went to work drilling for new wells in Mississippi. He used that experience in his 1988 book, Oil Notes, meditations on the art and science of finding energy in the ground. Most of his nonfiction books celebrate the American wilderness and promote its preservation, as well as the survival of such species as grizzlies and wolves. He has adopted the remote Yaak Valley of Montana as his home, and has written several books on his life there, including Winter: Notes from Montana (1991), The Book of Yaak (1996), and Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had (2000), as well as a number of short stories and a novel, Where the Sea Used to Be (1998).

It's the birthday of novelist, short-story writer and critic William Boyd, born in Accra, Ghana (1952). Boyd's writing career began as a television critic and fiction reviewer for the New Statesman and the London Sunday Times. In 1982, he published his first novel, A Good Man in Africa, which deals with a clumsy, blundering junior diplomat in West Africa. He often writes about Englishmen in unfamiliar surroundings, including his 1985 novel, Stars and Bars, about a London art appraiser who comes to America to free himself from his British reserve, and finds himself totally befuddled by life in the deep South.

It's the birthday of author Piers Paul Read, born in Beaconsfield, England (1941). His first novel, Game in Heaven with Tussy Marx, was published in 1966, and it was followed quickly by several others, including The Junkers (1969), Monk Dawson (1970), and The Professor's Daughter (1971). He is best known for his 1974 nonfiction work, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, which tells the true story of a 1972 plane crash. The survivors, stranded for seventy-two days, decided to cannibalize those who had died in the crash in order to survive. The book sold over four million copies, and was made into a motion picture in 1993.

It's the birthday of author and educator Helen Parkhurst, born in Durand, Wisconsin (1887). In 1914, Parkhurst went to Rome to study with the innovative educator Maria Montessori, and became the first person authorized by Montessori to train teachers in her methods. In 1919, she started the Dalton School, a private institution located in New York City, which was so successful educators came from all over the world to observe Parkhurst's methods. In the late 1940s, she became an award-winning broadcast celebrity, creating several radio and television programs, including "Child's World," where children discussed their problems with her. She also recorded more than three hundred conversations with children on psychological subjects, which were used in college psychology classes throughout the country, and wrote several books, including Exploring the Child's World (1951) and Growing Pains (1962). She died in 1973 at the age of eighty-six.

It's the birthday of painter Piet Mondrian, born in Amersfoort, Netherlands (1872), who is famous for his abstract paintings based on straight lines, right angles, and primary colors.

It's the birthday of naturalist and author Luther Burbank, born in Lancaster, Massachusetts (1849). Although he only had an elementary education, during his life Burbank developed more than eight hundred strains and varieties of plants. He bought a farm at the age of twenty-one and began a plant-breeding career that lasted more than fifty years. In 1871, he developed the Burbank potato, which was introduced into Ireland to combat the blight epidemic. In addition to the Burbank potato, during his life he developed one hundred thirteen varieties of plums and prunes, ten different apples, sixteen blackberries, thirteen raspberries, eleven quinces, twenty-six kinds of vegetables, nine kinds of grains, and ninety-one different ornamental plants and flowers.

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