The Cheesesellers Wife

Was it the red hair
that so entranced us?
The strong nose
on a strong young man?
Or that capable stocky young woman
who didn’t moan at first frost?
Where did we get our blues eyes from after all?
In the snows of almost perpetual winter
and at the warm shores of the middle sea
we met them, loved them,
raised their children.
And left them behind.

Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond

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davidbrucehaiku: no guns in schools





keep students unarmed

fear has no place in our schools

keep teachers unarmed


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David Bruce: Law Anecdotes


The United States at its best believes in justice and giving a fair trial even to a killer caught red-handed. Roosevelt Grier is a big man—a retired NFL player—and he campaigned for Robert Kennedy when Mr. Kennedy was running for President of the United States. When Mr. Kennedy was assassinated, Mr. Grier was present. He had been assigned to guard Ethel Kennedy, who was six months pregnant. When he heard shots, he made sure that Mrs. Kennedy was safe, and then he rushed toward the sound of the shots. He grabbed a man who was waving a gun in the air, and he took the gun away from the man. He held on to the man. Many people wanted to hurt—even kill—that man, but Mr. Grier protected him by covering him with his body, even though he was crying because he could see Mr. Kennedy’s bleeding body. Because of Mr. Grier, the world was spared an additional act of senseless violence.

A hero of syndicated columnist Susan Estrich is Judge J. Skelly Wright, a thoroughly decent man who became a hero simply by being just in his judicial decisions. For example, the case Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Store concerned a furniture store that took advantage of impoverished African-Americans by offering credit at very high interest rates and by repossessing furniture as soon as a payment was missed. Of course, The Uniform Commercial Code prohibits commercial transactions that take unconscionable advantage of the consumer, and Walker-Thomas Furniture Store was doing exactly that. Judge Wright ruled against Walker-Thomas Furniture Store, thus incurring the hatred of many business owners. He also made decisions that integrated the New Orleans school system and allowed black students to enroll in the Louisiana State University law school, thus incurring the hatred of the Ku Klux Klan. Ms. Estrich writes in a column honoring Judge Wright, “The Klan burned crosses on his lawn so often his son once told me that when his parents went out, his dad told him to just ignore them unless they got too close to the house, in which case he should call the fire department.”

A king put on trial a man who had stolen bread because he was starving. The king found the man guilty and ordered him to be hung. On his way to the gallows, the thief said that before he was hung he would like to teach the king how to perform the miracle of planting a pomegranate and having it grow to maturity overnight. The king was willing to learn how to perform the miracle, so the thief dug a hole in the ground, took a pomegranate seed out of his pocket, and said, “Now a man who has never taken anything that did not belong to him must plant this seed. Because I am a thief, I cannot do it.” However, none of the king’s court was able to plant the seed, each of them admitting that at some time he had taken something that did not belong to him; in fact, even the king was not able to plant the seed. Therefore, the man who had stolen bread because he was starving said, “You are all mighty and powerful and want nothing, and yet you cannot plant the seed while I who have stolen bread because I was starving am to be hanged.” The king pardoned the thief.

Rabbis are concerned with justice, even when a particular Jew is not just. A Christian once lent money to a Jew, with God and the tree they were under serving as witnesses. Later, the Jew refused to pay back the money, saying that he had not borrowed any money from the Christian at all. Rabbi Hariri heard the case, and he whispered something into the ear of the Christian, who then went away and did not return. Becoming impatient, the Jew asked where the Christian had gone. Rabbi Hariri answered, “I have sent him to bring a branch from that tree, under which he lent you the money.” “Oh,” the Jew said, “he will not be back until the evening.” Rabbi Hariri then told the Jew, “When the Christian returns, pay him the money you owe him. The tree has borne witness.”

Rap musicians sometimes “sample” the works of other musicians — that is, they will take bits and pieces from someone else’s song and use it in their own music. For a while, this was not a problem, but when rap became big business, suddenly the musicians whose works had been sampled wanted a cut of the profits and so rap musicians had to get permission or clearance to sample the works of other musicians. Biz Markie found this out the hard way. He had sampled Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again, Naturally,” without permission, and a court ordered his company to remove the album with the offending sample from the marketplace. Fortunately, Mr. Markie bounced back. A few years later, he released another, legally unoffending album, which he wittily titled All Samples Cleared.

Ralph Nader’s father, Nathra, disliked political posturing by both the Republicans and the Democrats. One thing that he said often was this: “When asked whether I am a Republican or a Democrat, I reply that I am an American.” He once sued the Democratic Party in Connecticut because he felt that independents ought to be able to vote in the Democratic Party primary because the primary election was being held with taxpayer money. He lost the case.

TV and movie star Sarah Michelle Gellar got her start in TV commercials. As a very young child, she starred in a commercial for Burger King in which she criticized McDonald’s hamburgers. McDonald’s was so angered by the commercial that they sued lots of people connected with it, including five-year-old Sarah. She remembers once telling her friends, “I can’t play,” because she had to see some lawyers.

Pioneer preacher Charles Finney was at first a lawyer. Becoming interested in the Bible, he devoted time to its study, and he eventually told one of his clients, “I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead His cause, and I cannot plead yours.”

John Ashcroft once made a sculpture of the Statue of Liberty out of barbed wire. Shouldn’t Lady Liberty be warm and inviting?


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Robert Graves: Letter To S.S. From Mametz Wood

I never dreamed we’d meet that day
In our old haunts down Fricourt way,
Plotting such marvellous journeys there
For jolly old “Après-la-guerre.”

Well, when it’s over, first we’ll meet
At Gweithdy Bach, my country seat
In Wales, a curious little shop
With two rooms and a roof on top,
A sort of Morlancourt-ish billet
That never needs a crowd to fill it.
But oh, the country round about!
The sort of view that makes you shout
For want of any better way
Of praising God: there’s a blue bay
Shining in front, and on the right
Snowden and Hebog capped with white,
And lots of other jolly peaks
That you could wonder at for weeks,
With jag and spur and hump and cleft.
There’s a grey castle on the left,
And back in the high Hinterland
You’ll see the grave of Shawn Knarlbrand,
Who slew the savage Buffaloon
By the Nant-col one night in June,
And won his surname from the horn
Of this prodigious unicorn.
Beyond, where the two Rhinogs tower,
Rhinog Fach and Rhinog Fawr,
Close there after a four years’ chase
From Thessaly and the woods of Thrace,
The beaten Dog-cat stood at bay
And growled and fought and passed away.
You’ll see where mountain conies grapple
With prayer and creed in their rock chapel
Which Ben and Claire once built for them;
They call it Söar Bethlehem.
You’ll see where in old Roman days,
Before Revivals changed our ways,
The Virgin ’scaped the Devil’s grab,
Printing her foot on a stone slab
With five clear toe-marks; and you’ll find
The fiendish thumbprint close behind.
You’ll see where Math, Mathonwy’s son,
Spoke with the wizard Gwydion
And bad him from South Wales set out
To steal that creature with the snout,
That new-discovered grunting beast
Divinely flavoured for the feast.
No traveller yet has hit upon
A wilder land than Meirion,
For desolate hills and tumbling stones,
Bogland and melody and old bones.
Fairies and ghosts are here galore,
And poetry most splendid, more
Than can be written with the pen
Or understood by common men.

In Gweithdy Bach we’ll rest awhile,
We’ll dress our wounds and learn to smile
With easier lips; we’ll stretch our legs,
And live on bilberry tart and eggs,
And store up solar energy,
Basking in sunshine by the sea,
Until we feel a match once more
For anything but another war.

So then we’ll kiss our families,
And sail across the seas
(The God of Song protecting us)
To the great hills of Caucasus.
Robert will learn the local bat
For billeting and things like that,
If Siegfried learns the piccolo
To charm the people as we go.

The jolly peasants clad in furs
Will greet the Welch-ski officers
With open arms, and ere we pass
Will make us vocal with Kavasse.
In old Bagdad we’ll call a halt
At the Sâshuns’ ancestral vault;
We’ll catch the Persian rose-flowers’ scent,
And understand what Omar meant.
Bitlis and Mush will know our faces,
Tiflis and Tomsk, and all such places.
Perhaps eventually we’ll get
Among the Tartars of Thibet.
Hobnobbing with the Chungs and Mings,
And doing wild, tremendous things
In free adventure, quest and fight,
And God! what poetry we’ll write!


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Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

Only this and nothing more.”


Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

Nameless herefor evermore.


And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

 “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—

This it is and nothing more.”


Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—

Darkness there and nothing more.


Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—

Merely this and nothing more.


Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

 “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—

’Tis the wind and nothing more!”


Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—

Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.


Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,

“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—

Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

With such name as “Nevermore.”


But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—

Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—

On the morrow hewill leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”

Then the bird said “Nevermore.”


Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store

Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—

Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”


But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;

Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore

Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”


This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;

This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,

But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,

Sheshall press, ah, nevermore!


Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.

 “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;

Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


 “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—

Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—

On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—

Is there—isthere balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!

By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—

Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


 “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, stillis sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted—nevermore!


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