Thursday, December 31, 2020



There was some New Year’s 

dance at

the high school in the next 

town over where

my girlfriend went.

I wound up going.

One of those

mirrored balls 

hung from the ceiling 

shining pieces of light

on the gym floor.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020



For Christmas 

I gave the person who

puts the Times

outside my morning door 


I waited inside  

until I heard the paper land.

I hurried into the hallway then

to find 

a short Latinx woman in 

jeans with her red 

beanie pulled down.

We’d never seen each other.

She was likely 

undocumented and shy and 

uncertain when I

came toward her with an envelope.

Sunday, December 27, 2020


In the car 

in Wyoming with

my granddaughters from school

the middle one

8 then

said, Pops, where

did you go to school?

At the Catholic school right across

from my house, I said.

What’s Catholic? she said.

Thursday, December 24, 2020


Best plate of anything


was a plate of Christmas cookies

on our cozy kitchen table tight up against a window

of outdoor weather.

My mother insecurely was not a baker.

Her sister down the street could make ‘em though and

so could the aunt who lived with us and

so could the also-cozy bakery on Main Street

whose unique color combinations of sugar and frosting

we’re eye-catching

as was the orange hair on the Fitzpatrick family 

who ran the place.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020


I JUST BOUGHT THIS BUNCH OF MAGAZINES for the twin grandchildren here. I sent a similar stack to the Wyoming grandchildren. You wish kids who don’t read well could get to pick out mags they were attracted to. That’s why you learn to read so you can read about stuff that grabs you. Sports or music or whatever.

Friday, December 18, 2020


POET NIKKI GIOVANNI in a review of her new book of poems in today’s Times:

‘There is no / way not to like Black Americans,” she writes in “Lemonade Grows From Soil, Too.” “We try to practice love. / We use the chicken feet to make a stew; we take the scraps of / cloth to make the quilt. We find the song in the darkest days / to say ‘put on your red dress, baby, ‘cause we’re going out / tonight,’ understanding we may be lynched on the way home / but knowing between that cotton field and that house party / something wonderful has been shared.’

Wednesday, December 16, 2020


He Trump has always been 


more so now—

the stage no longer wants him.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use---silence, exile and cunning.’ 
― James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Friday, December 11, 2020


We would wonder

my friend and I

bottles or pints in front of us 

who were the people

who went right home

on Friday.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Sometimes the algorithms bring you something you find you’re grateful for. Those on youtube brought me this poet from Cork City, Ireland reading her poem:

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

LIKE I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH BOOKS GOING. I bought this today. Like you do when you have a list with you of people to buy gifts for and you decide oh it’s not really crunch time yet. The first five volumes were a big deal to me. This one is about Hitler and many people have said it isn’t great like the other five. A book mostly about Hitler? I’ve resisted it. I’ll see.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020


I’m embarrassed now that

I hollered WHOA! so loud the other night

to tell whatever neighbor that their little dog’s

yapping was beyond.

Since, I’ve wondered what I have sounded like to them

playing my harmonica 

which in March I bought late one optimistic night 

from Amazon. 

When Dylan plays his—sometimes on that neck holder he wears—

you stop what you’re doing.

Monday, December 7, 2020



Blue Monday was overused;

it dragged people down.

Work we know now is

almost everything and 

we miss people to work with.

I have the heat on low in my apartment this morning.

Saturday, December 5, 2020



I loved taverns 

what’s not to love but

I don’t drink anymore so

I only walk past them now 

on my way to get some ice cream most nights.

I just passed Plug Uglies’ outside bar

where maybe 30 youngish people were huddled close in 

different groups eating pizza slices and drinking pints as if

it were a year ago.

Slainte’ I thought worriedly as I went by them.

Friday, December 4, 2020

A Library of Congress conversation between Robert Caro who’s at work on another volume of his monumental LBJ biography and Robert Gottlieb his longtime editor at Knopf. They’ve worked with each other forever, arguments notwithstanding. It’s good stuff:

Thursday, December 3, 2020

‘What is the future of independent bookstores?’ An NPR video talk with Emily Powell manager of the famous Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. They have a huge main store and various branches around the city. Most are closed for now. Most of the 500 employees are not working now. You’ll like her, and pull for her.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020



In my small hometown 

you couldn’t buy a hit record 

or a hardback book

or a Wilson baseball glove

there was no McDonald’s but 

you could buy a huge can of Charles Chips

at the gas station

what we did have was a library 

in a white house like you’d imagine

a small town might have.

Monday, November 30, 2020


I'd read it already, but I wanted to read certain parts over again.’

               ― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Tuesday, November 24, 2020


In 2016 Viet Thanh Nguyen won the Pulitzer Prize for his great-I-thought novel The Sympathizer about the war and politics in Vietnam and the life afterwards here in the U.S. in California. Nguyen and his family escaped when he was 4. This CBS video that aired a couple days ago has him talking about his parents’ determined/difficult efforts to establish a life in the states.

Monday, November 23, 2020


The ‘Times’ picks the 10 best books of the year. One could argue over the choices like last week’s NBA draft choices. But if you scroll down through the picks, you’ll see some gems:

Saturday, November 21, 2020

I’M ONLY 50 PAGES IN but it’s better than I thought it would be and I thought it would be very good. It’s him. A private guy in a public life. His thoughts about that are clean and honest.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

This came in the mail this afternoon. I ordered it from the bookstore I go to here. It’s quite a presence in your hand. 751 pages. He wouldn’t make it burdensome though. He knew his voice could keep it in the air. Here’s the first paragraph of the preface: 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

‘The problem in our country isn't with books being banned, but with people no longer reading. You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.’
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Monday, November 16, 2020

THEY SAY THAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN READING MORE in these past months. 35% I’ve seen quoted. That would make sense. Imagine the people though, young people and older people, who can’t read well enough to get deep time with a book or a magazine or something that would mean something to them online. The TV would be going all day, and so would other screens with their quick restless information. Hour after hour. Since March. Or since always. We have failed in giving many citizens the most valuable tool.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.’ 

                                   ― Maya Angelou

Thursday, November 12, 2020

In today’s Times, a review of Barack Obama’s brand new book, A Promised Land. It’s the first of two volumes. This first one is 768 pages. If you read his other books, you know he can write.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

In college in the late 60s and when we got out and went to Vietnam or found alternative ways to serve we needed companions. Our parents weren’t in the way we needed. Most teachers weren’t. Music and magazines were big for us in that way. So was Kurt Vonnegut. Gallows Humor they called it. I saw him read once in Cleveland. I took my young oldest daughter. Here are reviews of Slaughterhouse Five from 1969:

Monday, November 9, 2020


This is still waiting to be done. It didn’t happen under any president or administration

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

With over four years of listening to it, I couldn’t listen to Trump or talk of him today or of anyone playing that game. My mind and my ears craved this apparently. I’ve been listening to it again and again today:

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

I’ve told some people that I’m about to start reading James Joyce’s Ulysses, again. I told some that we who had all gone to Catholic schools and most to Catholic colleges had likely not been assigned it. Even though the American Church is an Irish Church. I said I read it in Cleveland out loud on my couch next to my dog five pages a day. And I read it again in New York. I have a life of reasons to read it again now. Here’s a 2-3 minutes thing from youtube that may make you want to read it, if you didn’t already:

Monday, November 2, 2020

One of the many things newspapers can do. A talk with Greta Thunberg in The New York Times today. Fascinating, her 17-year-old innocent directness:

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Friday, October 30, 2020

Bruce Springsteen: ‘There's no art in this White House. There's no literature, no poetry, no music. There are no pets in this White House: no loyal man's best friend, no Socks, the family cat.’

Thursday, October 29, 2020

This op-ed was in this morning’s Times. It stimulated me. With all the repetitive news about all kinds of big issues lately, it’s unusual to read something that’s not a retelling of stuff you’ve been hearing and seeing for days/weeks/months/years. This is about how remote learning at home for Black kids can be liberating. I wouldn’t have known that or thought that. New knowledge for me. Here’s the link.

Monday, October 26, 2020

SHELVES is a pop-up bookstore in Charlotte, North Carolina. I just this morning read a little bit about it. I like their sweatshirt and its message. You can find them online and on Facebook. The message to me is everything. A lot of the talk today talks about everything but that. Everything but that. I wish the subway was safe/clean enough for me to get downtown with my sign. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

A note that showed up online today. Yikes. 

📣 We need your help. This is the post we hoped to never write, but today marks a huge turning point in The Strand's history. Our revenue has dropped nearly 70% compared to last year, and the loans and cash reserves that have kept us afloat these past months are depleted.

We have survived so much in the past 93 years, and we are ready to fight against all odds to keep The Strand alive, but we cannot do it without book lovers like you.

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗱𝗼 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗽?

Share this post!

Encourage your friends to shop with The Strand online at 

Come visit in person.

Give gifts (and gift cards) from The Strand.

"I’m going to pull out all the stops to keep sharing our mutual love of the printed word. But for the first time in The Strand’s 93 year history, we need to mobilize the community to buy from us so we can keep our doors open until there is a vaccine." - Nancy Bass Wyden, owner

#SaveTheStrand #ShopLocalBuyEarlyThinkIndie #nycbookstore

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

I ORDERED THIS from my usual bookstore and it came today and it’s a smart delight like he is. I’m not very far in. It’ll be wonderful. When has he not been?

Eighty years ago today Ernest Hemingway’s Spanish Civil War novel For Whom the Bell Tolls was published. Here’s the ‘New York Times’ review of it at the time in 1940. Quite a review

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

This short piece in The New Yorker weirded me out so I’m passing it along so I don’t have to sit here and hold it by myself. It’s about that Georgia woman who’s running for Congress who believes the QAnon stuff. How much of a nightmare are we in that our President is OK with that? Here’s the link:

Thursday, October 15, 2020


Independent bookstores are hurting as you’d think. They need you. Go to yours or order your books from them and they’ll send them to you. If you’re not a bookstore person, it’s understandable that you’d just go to Amazon. Amazon doesn’t need you though. The local booksellers do. Help them. Maybe you’ll find you like the connection. The Times writes about it here:

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Here’s one of those great long ‘New Yorker’ pieces. This one is on Andrew Cuomo. ‘The King of New York’. Politics, pandemic, media, ambition, rivalries, family, his father, his mother, his brother, his daughters. Find a good chair and read a big interesting article. Here’s the link.

Monday, October 12, 2020

A housebound sign. Seven years I’ve been holding it for an hour every weekday morning in front of the Dept. of Education. Not since March this year. The message is the most relevant sign. I am always eager/committed to stand with it. Soon again I hope. Sometimes when people walking by would give it a thumbs up or say Ain’t that the truth or even a God Bless You, I’d say, It would change the world.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

I’m literate, and the idea of leaving children illiterate is criminal.
                             Octavia Butler

Friday, October 9, 2020

‘In the study she nodded to my husband, turned completely around once, and then remarked that we seemed to be making no practical use of the space in our house. “This room would be much larger,” she said, “if you took out all those books.”

Mrs. Ferrier thought the master bedroom should have faced west, and she barely put her head inside the smaller bedrooms. “They would be much larger,” I told her, “if we took out the beds.” Mrs. Ferrier fixed me with her cold eye. “If you took out the beds where would you sleep?” she wanted to know, and I followed her meekly downstairs.’

                   ― Shirley Jackson, ‘Raising Demons

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

An article that showed up on Apple News picks the best independent bookstore in each state. It’s hard not to scroll down the list. I’ve never been in the store in New York State or the one in Ohio where I lived for almost 30 years:

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

As I stood looking over my unmade bed early this morning just after my feet hit the floor I noticed I was happy and I thought about that for a few seconds and recognized that I’m always happy like that when I first get up and I determined that that was because the newspaper was waiting for me outside the door. I’d heard it land there a few minutes before. Since I was a kid knowing that there was a morning newspaper with a sports page out in the kitchen I’ve been happy inside when I get up. A few months before the pandemic I stopped getting a morning paper in kind of an experiment to be like everybody else who made do with the the online version of a paper. I like the online version too. I subscribe to online papers and all sorts of other good digital publications and for a few months I was doing fine without an actual paper. I was saving money too and I was saving the trees if not many. Pretty quickly I missed it. Pretty quickly I realized I was on the computer enough already. It’s a special thing to get a newspaper in the morning. I’ve looked at two of the four sections so far today. It’s sitting right next to me. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

The New Yorker and ProPublica collaborated on this piece about kids without school now, the drawbacks of being at home, what’s being lost. Alec MacGillis wrote it. It’s not just another piece about the virus. Here’s the link:

Thursday, October 1, 2020

If you’re lucky, which you always hope to be, you read about something or someone that makes you glad you decided to read that. I decided I’d read about this guy in The Guardian this morning. Lucky me. I’m glad I know him now. Full of life. No kid anymore. But still young. He’s written many many children’s books. He’s recovering in London from Covid. You’ll like him too: