Thursday Book Feature: Poetry of Mary Oliver and Ted Kooser


Dog Songs
Oliver, Mary
Copyright 2013.

It’s pretty obvious from the title that this collection of poetry and prose is about dogs. Some poems are from the point of view of a dog while others are from the point of view of a dog owner. There are blocks of poems about a specific dog. Amid the poetry is an essay entitled “Ropes.” Here, the author shares her experiences with a dog who could chew through any rope and climb any fence and loved to roam free.

I didn’t particularly care for Mary Oliver’s work until I found this book. The material here is straightforward, funny, and touching. I especially liked “If You’re Holding the Book,” in which Oliver explains that one of the things she enjoys seeing the most is dogs without leashes. It reminded me of the good old days growing up when there were few leash laws, and people didn’t have to worry about picking up after their dogs. If you love dogs, and even if you don’t love poetry, I highly recommend this book.

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Delights and Shadows
Kooser, TedCopyright 2004

The poems in this collection reflect on various aspects of life. The book is divided into numbered sections with the title of the first poem in each section being that section’s title. Some poems are inspired by paintings.

Years ago, I attended a writers’ conference at which Ted Kooser was the keynote speaker. One thing he said stuck with me. The title of a poem should set the scene.

Titles of poems in this collection, like “Walking on Tiptoe,” “Tattoo,” and “At the Cancer Clinic,” give the reader a general idea of what the poem is about. I especially liked “A Rainy Morning,” in which he describes a woman in a wheelchair pushing herself in the rain. I highly recommend this book.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Re-blog: Voices of Life–A Review

Like Lynda, I’m proud to be associated with Behind Our Eyes, a group of writers with disabilities, and to be on the editorial staff of Magnets and Ladders, the online magazine we produce. I’m also flattered that Lynda mentions me in this post. If you or someone you know is a writer with a disability, I suggest reading what Lynda has written about Behind Our Eyes and Magnets and Ladders.

Voices of Life–A Review

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Soggy Morning Contentment

Note: The following comes from fellow blogger Patty Fletcher, who is the author of two books and does marketing for other writers and businesses. Enjoy, and have a great day.

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Good Moonday)Monday morning campbellsworld visitors.
I hope this message finds you well, warm and dry.
Here, Campbell and I woke to another rainy chilly morning, and to be quite blunt, we are sick to death of mornings such as these.
Even Campbell who for those who do not know, is a big black Labrador, that should love water, grumbled as we went out for his first morning park time.
He took care of his necessary rather quickly and shook vigorously as we came back through the door with a mighty wiggly waggly jingly jangly shake, and humph of disgust as I stepped in behind him grabbing a doggy towel and firmly shutting the door against the nasty weather.
Once we were dried off, and he was fed, I went for my usual morning’s cup of coffee.
He came wagging happily along with his nails, clickety clickety clicketing, adding rhythm to the song of the morning rain waiting for his morning meds.
As I gave him his arthritis chews I thought, “Gods, I hope these are truly helping him. I never want him to feel the kind of pain I feel this day.”
Thanks to yet another soggy start to the morning, my wish to keep the light-bill down and not running any heat during the night, I am feeling the damp deep within my joints, and muscles this early morn.
Between the arthritis and fibro, some mornings are a real battle.
As I poured my coffee, and put it into the microwave to heat, I sang in a made-up tune,
“Reach out for the good.
Chase away the bad.
Think of all the blessings you have.
Try, try, and try.
Keep doing it till you smile.
Cause the alternative is, to cry, cry, and cry.”
The microwave beeped, my left-over coffee from yesterday was done, and as I spooned in sugar and began to stir, I chanted softly.
“Happy Moonday, it’s a great day to be sure.
The sun will come up behind the clouds and listen to those birds.
Thank you for the sun.
Thank you, when day is done,
All my needs, they will be met.
Thank you for what I have, and for what I have not yet.
Thank you for being you, and for showing me what to say and do.
Light my path, and guide my way, and help me get through another day.”
As I finished readying my coffee to drink, I realized I’d forgotten how badly I felt, and that I could certainly get through another day.
I went to sit with my Bubba to have my first cup of strength.
As I was kneeling to sit beside him, he began to thump his tale cheerfully on the loveseat where he lay,
When I’d settled myself onto the floor where I normally sit so I can reach to stroke his fur, and snuggle him into my arms, connecting with Mother Earth for my morning love-fest and meditation time, I said to him,
“You really do love your momma, don’t you?”
His answer? a swipe of his enormous tongue, and a generous helping of his loving nuzzles.
Tucking his head gently under my chin, and leaning into his loving warmth, I knew that I was safe, loved, and accepted.
So, I added to my morning prayers,
“Thank you especially for my Bubba. May he be blessed with long-life, and good health, for many years to come.”

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Thursday Book Feature: Reblog–Deliverance from Jericho

I read and reviewed this book several years ago. Recently, the author told me it’s now on Bookshare, an online service that makes books available in accessible formats for those like me with disabilities that prevent or make reading difficult. Since I haven’t had time to read anything new lately, I decided to post a link to this old review. Bruce is one of many children who had negative experiences at government-run schools for the blind in the U.S. and Canada before 1970. I hope you’ll find his story inspirational and thought-provoking.

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Deliverance from Jericho
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We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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The Case of the Hidden Water Meter

I recently received a letter that said it was time for me to have a new water meter installed. Our fair city of Sheridan, Wyoming, in its so-called infinite wisdom, has determined that each resident must have a new water meter installed in order to continue receiving service. Fortunately, they’re paying for the installation, but my problem is I don’t know where my old water meter is. I have a visual impairment, and I don’t even know what a water meter looks like.

I’ve made an appointment. Someone is coming tomorrow. Surely that person will want to install the new meter in the same location as the old, but at the moment, I don’t know where that is. I’ve never had to worry about this before. Since no one has come to the door with the intention of reading the meter, I assumed it was outside, but where?

My late husband Bill is probably laughing at me from above. Having bought and rented twenty houses in his day, although he was totally blind, I’m sure he made a point of finding out the location of the water meter and other essential items.

Today, my homemaker from the local senior center is coming for her weekly visit. I can only hope she can find the lost meter. If not, I’ll just have to admit to the person who comes to install the new one that even though I’ve lived in this house for over ten years, I don’t know where the old meter is. It’s either that or sing this song.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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How I Fell in Love with My Ideal Partner

In the winter of 2002, I was single and living here in Sheridan, Wyoming. A couple of months after subscribing, I decided to pose a question on Newsreel, an audio magazine where people with visual impairments could share ideas and music and trade or sell items. Being a writer who attended workshops away from my computer on a regular basis, I wanted to know if there was any way to transfer a document from a braille note-taker to my computer. At the time, most note[takers didn’t use standard word processing formats, so the answers I received weren’t satisfactory.

One of these came from Bill Taylor, who lived in Fowler, Colorado, where he grew up and where he owned a computer store for twenty years. I don’t remember his answer, but I do recall him asking me about my writing. I responded that I wrote fiction, nonfiction, and poetry and that I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home. He then wrote back and said his mother lived in a nursing home. We had a little something in common.

Over the next couple of years, we corresponded, mainly by email but occasionally by phone. He’d downloaded over a hundred songs on his computer, and he sent me some of these on cassettes. I emailed him some of my writing. In the spring of 2003, when I started work on my first novel, We Shall Overcome, I sent him chapters, and he responded with feedback.

In the spring of 2004, on our way to visit my brother and his family in New Mexico, my father and I decided to stop in Fowler to see Bill, although it was a bit out of the way. Bill and I visited for about half an hour, and I discovered that he, like me, was a fan of Dr. Pepper. The following December, we returned, on our way to New Mexico for Christmas, and took Bill out to breakfast. At that time, he suggested we kiss under the mistletoe in his living room, but I thought he was joking.

In January of 2005, I received a braille letter from him in the mail and the shock of my life when I read it. He was asking me to marry him. At first, I thought he wanted me to move to Fowler, an idea I didn’t like, since I’d lived in Sheridan for years and wasn’t about to start from scratch in a new town. However, when I spoke to him on the phone after receiving his letter, he told me he wanted to move to Sheridan. He was tired of his home town, where there wasn’t much to do. Although I still didn’t know if I loved him, this was definitely a game-changer.

A couple of months later, he came to Sheridan to visit and proposed to me officially at a restaurant in the presence of family and friends. Something clicked, and I said yes.

In July, he moved to Sheridan, and I quit my job at the nursing home. In September, we were married. I wish I could say that was the end, and we’re still living happily ever after, thanks to Newsreel, but that was not to be.

In January of 2006, Bill suffered a stroke that confined him to a wheelchair. He spent nine months in the same nursing home where I’d worked, and I brought him home in September of that year. We’d hoped he would be back on his feet some day, but in January of 2007, he suffered a second stroke, not as severe, but bad enough to set him back to the point where he could never walk again. I cared for him at home until he passed in October 2012.

Despite the trials and tribulations of him only having the use of one arm and leg and me being his caregiver, most of our time together was happy, and we both looked forward to the arrival of Newsreel each month, first through the mail on cassette, then via digital download. You can read our complete story in a memoir I published in 2016, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

If I hadn’t met Bill, I probably would still be working forty-hour weeks in the nursing home and may not have published four books. If not for Newsreel, I wouldn’t have met Bill. I hope this audio publication continues for at least another sixty years.

Now it’s your turn. How did you meet your ideal partner? Was it love at first site, or did it take a while? Maybe the song you hear when you click below will inspire you. It’s one I wanted to sing at my wedding but didn’t think I could.

Annie’s Song

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

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Things I’ll Never Tell You

Thanks to Ascerblog for inspiring me to post the poem below. It appears in How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. Please click below to hear me read it.

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Things I’ll Never Tell You

 

 

 

I’ll never  tell
you
you’re stupid

when you forget something or don’t understand.

I’ll never tell you you’re lazy

when you sit at the kitchen table in your
wheelchair

while I fix dinner, clean up.

I’ll never tell you you’re a baby

when I must do most things for you.

I’ll never tell you I don’t understand

why you can’t walk and do more for yourself

when I know the reason.

I’ll never tell you I hate you

or that I was a fool to marry you.

You can’t help being the way you are.

I’ll always love you–although the vow was
never spoken,

I’ll be with you for better or worse.

 

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Author Abbie
Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better
Mousetrap:
Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal
Partner: How I
Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite
Debilitating Odds

Click
to hear an audio trailer.

Like
me on Facebook.

 

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