Jan. 1, 2008

Love Poem with Toast

by Miller Williams

Some of what we do, we do
to make things happen,
the alarm to wake us up, the coffee to perc,
the car to start.

The rest of what we do, we do
trying to keep something from doing something
the skin from aging, the hoe from rusting,
the truth from getting out.

With yes and no like the poles of a battery
powering our passage through the days,
we move, as we call it, forward,
wanting to be wanted,
wanting not to lose the rain forest,
wanting the water to boil,
wanting not to have cancer,
wanting to be home by dark,
wanting not to run out of gas,

as each of us wants the other
watching at the end,
as both want not to leave the other alone,
as wanting to love beyond this meat and bone,
we gaze across breakfast and pretend.

"Love Poem with Toast" by Miller Williams, from Some Jazz a While: Collected Poems. © University of Illinois Press, 1999. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's New Year's Day. It was Ben Franklin who said, "Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man."

It was on this day in 1660 that Samuel Pepys (Peeps) began his famous diary. The 27-year-old kept up the book for nine years during the restoration of the monarchy to England after the British Civil War, and in his daily record he gave eyewitness accounts to the plague (1665), the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667), and the Great Fire of London (1666). He wrote the entire diary in shorthand, and it wasn't until the 19th century that scholars were able to finally decipher the code he had used.

Today in 1764, the Royal Family at Versailles was treated to a harpsichord performance by 8-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart had the honor of standing behind the queen at dinner later that day.

It was on this day in 1892 that the Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York officially opened. A 15-year-old Irish girl named Annie Moore became the first of the more than 12 million immigrants to pass through Ellis Island in its 62 years of operation.

It was on this day in 1953 that country music legend Hank Williams Sr. died in Oak Hill, West Virginia, on his way to a New Year's concert in Canton, Ohio. A blizzard had grounded all the airplanes in Nashville, and so he paid an 18-year-old kid to drive him in his new baby-blue Cadillac all the way to the venue. When the driver stopped at a gas station, and the singer was found dead in the backseat. He was only 29 years old.

It's the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, in 1863, in which President Abraham Lincoln declared freedom for all slaves in the Southern states.

It's the birthday of writer E.M. Forster (Edward Morgan Forster), (books by this author) born in London 1879. His father died when he was an infant, and his mother moved the family to an old country estate called Rooksnest, in Hertfordshire, which became the model for the cozy house in his book Howards End (1910). He worked for the Red Cross in Egypt during World War I and then traveled to India, where he was inspired to write A Passage to India (1924).

It's the birthday of novelist J.D. Salinger (Jerome David Salinger), (books by this author) born in New York City in 1919, author of The Catcher in the Rye (1951). He was in the ground force invasion of Normandy on D-Day, and for months he saw some of the bloodiest fighting of World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he wrote the novel The Catcher in the Rye. It was an immediate best-seller. J.D. Salinger now lives in seclusion in New Hampshire, and though he hasn't published anything new in 40 years, his friends and neighbors claim that he still continues to write.

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




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