Feb. 8, 2008

In the Basket Marty Brought to the Hospital After the Cesarean

by Thorpe Moeckel

Asparagus-pasta cobbler; raspberry bread; fresh
baked whole wheat bread; collages

young Molly did
on construction paper - de Kooning-esque -

with catalog clippings, great swirlies
of magic

marker, & filaments of glitter-laced glue;
Parmesan-mushroom wild rice;

boxed pear juice, boxed mixed fruit juice;
soy milk; mangoes; cold

cucumber-yogurt soup; fresh strawberries;
cut lilac; blackberry tea;

a hand-turned ceramic vase; a doll
sewn of scrap fabric, of stuffed athletic sock;

and a bouquet of herbs: fresh
mint, fresh rosemary, freshest sage.

"In the Basket Marty Brought to the Hospital After the Cesarean" by Thorpe Moeckel, from Odd Botany. © Silverfish Review Press, 2002. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of the man known as the father of science fiction, Jules Verne, (books by this author) born in Nantes, France (1828). In his adventure novels, Paris in the 20th Century (written 1863, not published until 1994), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873), Verne described inventions that were similar to modern airplanes and automobiles, and tall skyscrapers where people use electricity to listen to the radio and send faxes, and yet he wrote his stories by candlelight.

It's the birthday of General William T(ecumseh) Sherman, born in Lancaster, Ohio (1820). His father died when he was nine, and he and his siblings were split up and sent to live with friends of the family. He attended West Point where he showed great military promise, but he also accumulated a large number of demerits, which brought his ranking down, and he graduated sixth in his class. After West Point, Sherman tried a banking career in San Francisco and practicing law in Kansas, though he lost the only case he ever brought to court. When the South seceded from the Union, Sherman was working as a superintendent of the Louisiana Military Academy, and he resigned from his position to go fight for the North. He quickly rose to the rank of general, but he was once stripped of his standing in Kentucky for appearing mentally unstable. After capturing Atlanta in the fall of 1864, he began his famous March to the Sea. Sherman himself said, "War is hell" and that it "is cruelty and you cannot refine it."

It's the birthday of novelist (John Grisham, books by this author) born in Jonesboro, Arkansas (1955). His father was a migrant construction worker, and the family traveled throughout the Southwest. "We'd move into a small town," Grisham recalled, "and the first thing we'd do is join a local Baptist church. The second was to go to the library and get our library cards and check out all the books we were allowed." He went to law school at the University of Mississippi, and over the course of a few years he switched from being a tax lawyer to practicing criminal law to serving in the state House of Representatives. However, Grisham gained his most useful experience when he overheard the testimony of a 12-year-old rape victim in the DeSoto County courthouse and decided to write a book after imagining what might happen if the victim's father sought vengeance on her attackers. When A Time to Kill was published in 1989, it sold badly, but two years later, his next book, The Firm, was on the New York Times best-seller list for more than 40 weeks. Grisham went on to publish another novel every year for the rest of the 1990s, all of them best sellers. His latest books include Innocent Man (2006), a nonfiction account of a man who was wrongly sent to death row, and The Appeal (2008).

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