Aug. 10, 2002

Hale-Bopp Comes to Ohio

by David Citino

(RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Hale-Bopp Comes to Ohio," by David Citino from The Invention of Secrecy (Ohio State University Press).

Hale-Bopp Comes to Ohio

It's 5 A.M., a pristine time for me
ever since the days I delivered
the Plain Dealer before Mass.

Star-headed romantic, I'd see
the face of the dreamy girl
I was "going steady with" glowing

in the clouds over Cleveland
as I left tracks across the dewy lawns,
bringing the citizens their bad news.

I had a girl, Donna was her name.
Since she left me, I've never been the same
Old now, thick plastic between my eyes

and the cosmos, still I thrill to the end
of yesterday, morning's cleansing
of everything that used to be.

I pad through the dark house, brew
espresso, tinker with my little songs.
I walk out, look over the dark grass

to the neighbor's shagbark hickory.
And there it sits. Bigger than any star,
perched just beneath an upper branch -

rock, sludge, snow that seems to blaze
with fires that lit the dawn of time,
a comet from the moment before light.

What have you come to tell, messenger-
that by your next visit we all
will be stone and root and rank earth,

our heirs standing higher on our bones?
We did not need you to know where
we're bound. Still, I look at you

with something like awe. Never
have I seen my own going so radiant,
the sky lightening, the beauty of my death

twisting slowly its long, glittering tail.

It's the birthday of poet Joyce Sutphen, born in St. Cloud, Minnesota (1949). Her first collection of poetry, Straight Out of View (1995; reissued 2001), received both the Barnard New Women Poets Prize and the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize. She followed up her first collection with Coming Back to the Body (2000).

It's the birthday of mystery novelist Ellen Hart, born in Minneapolis, Minnesota (1949). Her experience in the restaurant business in Minnesota lends authenticity to her novels, which include This Little Piggy Went to Murder (1994) and Dial M for Meatloaf (2001), which mixes murder with a fictional Minnesota newspaper's meatloaf recipe contest.

On this day in 1846, Congress passed an act establishing The Smithsonian Institution. When the English minerologist James Smithson died in 1829, he left his large fortune to the United States, stipulating that it be used to "increase and diffuse knowledge among men." The money was shipped to the United States in 105 bags, each containing a thousand sovereigns--a total of about $500,000. The Smithsonian Institution now comprises fifteen different museums, including the National Museum of Natural History, the National Portrait Gallery, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum of modern art, and the National Zoo.

On this day in 1776, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson met to decide on an official motto for the Great Seal of the United States. They decided on E PLURIBUS UNUM, a Latin phrase meaning "Out of Many, One." The line comes from a poem called Moretum, once thought to be by the Roman poet Vergil (sometimes Virgil). It describes a farmer making lunch for himself out of cottage cheese, herbs, and garlic, all blended together:

          …he mashes the fragrant garlic with his
          pestle, then grinds everything together into a juicy misture.
          He stirs, and little by little the ingredients lose their individual
          characteristics, and the many colors are blended together into one

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




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