"How Are You?"
They Ask New Widow,
Hoping She Won't Tell
Janet Carncross Chandler
(Pony Express)

Purists might opine that the writer is no poet --- but the tension of grief and matter-of-factness are so strong that these twenty-six entries work. Divided into the nine months of mourning (in ironic contrast to the cycle of birth), and the abrupt termination of fifty-two years of marriage, the poems have such titles as "New Widow Finds Out Why Her Car Chokes Up" and "New Widow Encounters Generation and Other Gaps:"

    ...I stop at my lawyer's
    to sign a petition for probate
    pay fees for that and for publishing
    (three times) notices of my husband's death...
    I eat my lunch of soup alone.
    New place we've never been together.
    As I walk to my one solid appointment
    I pass (they unseeing) a trio of high school boys
    returning to class: "Sure I know her,"
    said one. "I screwed her last Friday."

The Poetry
Children Write
Jack Collom
(Teachers & Writers)

Collom has been teaching our youngest poets for the last fifteen years. In this book, he presents his students' handiwork, and gives commentary. His editorializings are succinct --- but are simply overshadowed by the magnificent writings of his charges:

    Girls are nice
    Stars are nice in the sky

    I'm sorry that I put the baby
    in the bathtub, but I
    thought she could

    Poetry is like your
    mouth playing a trick
    on you

    When the President
    dies he turns to sand
    just like me.

    Black is black.
    white is white. Then what
    is bright yellow?

    I remember the day my hands
    got stuck under my window
    sill and I cried so hard I

    I remember my first watch.
    I opened it to take out the
    Mickey Mouse.

The Work of Augustus
John H. Dryfhout
(University Press of New England)

Saint-Gaudens won the hearts of us old numismatists by designing one of the most elegant of coins ever to be issued by the U.S. Mint --- a twenty-dollar gold piece that circulated after 1907. He also designed a ten-dollar gold piece, and an absolutely exquisite one-cent piece.

Those noodle-heads who are in charge of our present mint designs --- with their grotesque Anthony dollars and the even more vulgar, preposterous, nickles, dimes, and quarters --- (not to mention the vulgar paper money, all ruined in the name of security) might take a gander at what was circulated, even what remained unissued, from the hands of Saint-Gaudens. Thus they might, if they would open their tiny eyes, get some sense of design, order, and --- most of all --- scale.

What is it with this country, and why has its official art and architecture now has come to be so fatuous, especially when we compare it with the Dark Ages a hundred years ago when the country was supposed to be so uncouth?

On looking through this fine book, one is struck by the fact that Saint-Gaudens --- what a name, eh? --- was probably the only national artist that was at his best in coinage and other relief (the mantelpieces for the Cornelius Vanderbilt House are a kick) --- and at his worst in most all other pursuits: sculpture, memorials, busts, marble and sketches.

The Guide to All
Federal Programs
Available to the
American Public

J. Robert Dumouchel
(Foggy Bottom)

This is about the most depressing book of the week for us. Thousands of eligible beneficiary and applicant programs are listed, and they're available to those who are willing to sift through the paper and the paperwork to find them, Easter-egg style.

The evil of this, as we all know too well, is that the money goes to those individuals or corporations who already have the bucks, and who have the shrewd attorney who can point them in the right direction to apply.

For example, the Department of Transportation doles out (if that's the right word) a quarter-billion dollars a year to "rehabilitate and improve railroad equipment."

For decades, the railroads mismanaged their businesses, sucked monies from all of us through their monopoly franchises, and finally went into decline because of their arrogance in face of the up-coming automobile and truck transportation. Those selfsame corporations (the Milwaukee Road, Southern Pacific, Florida East Coast) are now rewarded for their malefeasances with huge grants and loans. The consumer gets screwed both ways (backwards and forwards). It's an egregiously destructive system --- perpetuated by the very folks who should be curtailing it.

Healing Through
A Mind Over Matter Approach
From a Biblical Point of View

Darrell Franken
(Wellness Publications)

Dr. Franken is given to combining Salvation with Bio-feedback, tempered with references to Bible and home study on the order of study guides from say --- The Moody Bible Institute, or Bob Jones University. Our favorite parts of this book are the "Discussions," which spawn plump questions such as:

    Nebuchadnezzar regressed to behavior like that of an animal. Do you see or know of persons in your area whose emotional disturbance has made them begin to look somewhat savage?


    Is exercise Christian? Is not exercising a sin?

Doc Dachtler
(Konocti Books)

Dachtler seems to be able to build some sort of warm feelings in his friends in the mountains (Gary Snyder says he's "a teacher, a philosopher, an orchardist, a carpenter" among other accomplishments).

Still, for us city slickers, we have to judge him on his poetry alone, and if this is any example --- it's heavy on the cow-pies and rather sparse on content. An example --- "Turtle Crossing:"

    School is in session
    for turtles
    all the time.
    Run over
    they may still live
    but ants can crawl through cracks in
    the shell.

The World
Was Flooded
With Light
Genevieve W. Foster
(University of Pittsburgh Press)

Ms Foster, eighty-two at the time of the writing of this memoir, was an early adherant to the teachings and analysis of Jung. She spent twelve years as an "analysand," and even more time with a New York group of the faithful.

Whatever might have been (and might be) going on, this work is a carping rehearsal of unsatisfactory analysts, peers, and friends from a time long past, names long gone, memories best off forgotten.

--- Lolita Lark

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