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And Words Are All I Have

This One's Poetry Heavy. Just Because.

Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger
~ Ben Okri

Since my last writing here, I have continued to return to myself, a gradual, quite astonishing transformation as my brain's neurotransmitters are reordered via new medications, infinite processes ceaselessly recalibrating.

Returning to myself is the best way I can characterize the unfolding of the past several months. It is a self I think I was always meant to be, a person I sometimes was, if time and tides and serotonin levels were in my favor. To be one of those that is treatable puts me in debt to whatever scientific inroads, mental health researchers and doctors played a part.

Many like me find themselves unmoored permanently by depression, unresponsive to existing solutions. You won't find me indulgiing in thoughts of ...Why couldn't this have happened sooner?... but rather... How did I get so lucky?

I am no Pollyanna: I don't imagine that blessedly oblivious lass was afflicted thusly. But I do know this.

I hit the lottery.


Poet Charles Simic –
A compelling ambassador of the uncanny

With credit to Knopf Press.

This January, we lost the Serbian-American poet Charles Simic, born in 1938 in Belgrade. Over five decades and dozens of books this winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Frost Medal lingered before dusty pawn-shop windows, conversed with hoot owls, and crystallized the oddities of living. Simic suggested that we could find wonder in the seemingly mundane, if we happened around the corner at just the right moment.

It turns out he was right.

Summer Dusk

You’ve been the love of my life,
Light lingering in the sky
At the close of a long day
Over the roofs of some city
Like New York or Rome,
As streets empty in the heat,
And shadows lengthen
And darken every room,
Occupied or still vacant,
Where some turn on the lamp
And others step to a window
To savor this fleeting moment
When everything stops
As if stunned by its own beauty.


Thoughts about releasing a poem into the wild.

So, child, into the world you now must go;
You were not made to sit with me beside a dying flame.
We'll talk a little longer so I know
You have the stuff to carry on the battle in my name.
Tarry in catechism at my knee,
Repeat to me the words that I've instilled into your soul,
Before a sad farewell for you and me
As you depart to carry on your independent role.
Now must the world appraise you in my stead
With eyes unveiled, no magic filter of parental care,
And heap more notions on your pliant head
Than I can ever understand are clearly hidden there.
If you are to survive out in the wild
It's going to take some fortitude and luck to get you through
So be of strength and courage, my poor child,
And know that I am always waiting here to comfort you.
Yet come from time to time back to my door
And all the tribulations of your progress you may tell.
Success out there can never be quite sure
And so in parting, little poem, I simply wish you well.

~~ Patricia Falanga.

Winter, Spring

Winter is black and beige down here
from drought. Suddenly in March
there’s a good rain and in a couple
of weeks we are enveloped in green.
Green everywhere in the mesquites, oaks,
cottonwoods, the bowers of thick
willow bushes the warblers love
for reasons of food or the branches,
the tiny aphids they eat with relish.
Each year it is a surprise
that the world can turn green again.
It is the grandest surprise in life,
the birds coming back from the south
to my open arms, which they fly past,
aiming at the feeders.

~~ Jim Harrison

Easter Morning, Once

A new dress, even if it had been my sister’s.
Helmet-like perms, and all of us
in soft white cotton gloves, with vertical ridges stitched in
above each knuckle, so they stood up,
like Mickey Mouse’s on Saturday mornings.
Our matching hats were courtesy of Jackson’s Department Store’s bargain bin,
Fill a basket, five bucks out the door,
their chaotic rainbow of plastic daisies haphazardly attached,
head wear designed for the deranged.
Our conspiratorial looks as we were herded together
for the obligatory snapshot, sentries, shivering,
on the stone steps after Mass,
the sunlight miserly on the early April morning,
our flimsy dresses of Swiss dot,
their stiff crinolines lofting in the wind.

Embarrassed by my sturdy white knee socks,
I yearned for the silk stockings `of my older sisters
who flanked me.
Stationed solemnly in front, forming his own line,
our younger brother,
quietly proud of his bowtie, his tartan vest,
his perfectly pressed little wool trousers.

Chins up! Stand straight! came the reprimands,
but not one of us listened.
At least one child would turn her head away that day
just as the shutter clicked.
Another would squint unbecomingly against the glare.
And the third, the face of the third girl
would reveal a look of such sadness
as is incomprehensible in one so young.

Now one of hundreds of photos housed haphazardly
in this battered shoebox,
the sorting job no one ever took on,
these celluloid witnesses to our lives.
Their edges scalloped like frosting on a cake,
bearing hairline cracks,
heads and limbs torn asunder,
the truest chronicle of those years,
bringing with it the simple message
that each of us might have done better
if we’d only known how.

~ Tricia McCallum

Best tweets
Ok - press let's stop saying AG garland has a momentous 'decision' to make - he has two choices - uphold the rule of law - or make trump a king.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
The New York City cop says: "You give me five minutes with the chicken and I'll find out." Hemingway says: "He crossed the road. To die. In the rain."

@ tBone7219
I sometimes wear a tie in the office just so I can loosen it in disgust.

If you are tired of hearing people talk about racism, trust me, the people who experience it and have to talk about it are far more tired.

Portrait of Kevin Barry in the Irish Times

I look at him and I say
There’s a man who’s broken
his nose once or twice, eyes like
cut-steel rivets, stiff lower lip edgy over
Vermeer-strobed gingersnap strands and—
that wild tawny thicket afly against
a soft Guinness scenario, an allusion
of khaki (a flirtation of shoulder,
mind you), something military maybe:
an intimation of risk or a nod
to some rebel hero—says I though,
Never mind that auld jut o’
fierceness—say what you like,
there’s a man who can write.

~~ Anne Casey


There are always good people helping.
Mr. Rogers was right.
Just yesterday the man on the plane
who saw me struggling with the overhead bin,
jumped up, took over, smiling.
The mother of three across the aisle
handing out cleaning wipes,
her children willingly helping.
The flight attendant, struggling with her face mask,
joking with her colleague:
"If I hyperventilate behind this, you got me, right?"
The Customs official facing a sea of disgruntled travelers,
asking gently if I had fever or sickness.
"I'm happy you’re well," he said.
Pay heed, gentle reader.
We have wildly different families and streets and seas,
but underneath it all
we share a perfectly imperfect human heart,
the same skies and sun,
the same bewitching moon.

Recent Post

The Weight Of It All

Life's not hard enough, so let’s invent a foe so fearless, So shameless, That it doesn’t toy with your dreams So much as mocks them. A tyrant that hands you back, ravaged, After it's done its worst. And even though we call on everything we know In defense, Science, all of it, yes, The tiny powdered capsules of hope, thrice …
The Weight Of It All

his poem of mine is a difficult one. Painful to write and perhaps moreso to share.
But what is it a poet promises her reader if not her most hard-won truths? (After Keats)

His Gift

We were leaving the bar and he erupted,
I had been paying attention to everyone but him,
he yelled.
Who was that guy you kept flirting with?
I hurried ahead, mystified,
realizing how little I knew about this guy.
He rushed up alongside me and with a closed fist punched me so hard on my upper arm
that it propelled me sideways,
sent me down to the hard cold ground with a jolt.
He leaned over me, preparing to strike me again.
Oh, you’re not worth it, he spat out as he walked away.
And left me there that frigid February night
so long ago.
Left me with what I came to see as a bizarre gift,
by letting me feel at his hand for those few moments, utter powerlessness,
the terror of helplessness,
and seeding in my deepest core the determination
to never feel those things ever again.

~~ Tricia McCallum
At a certain point I need to go wandering. My feet need to hit earth, again and again,
that bone-filling drumbeat. I need the sky's colored threads to tangle inside me,
pull me somewhere new.

Megan Harlan, Mobile Home: A Memoir in Essays


Book Sales

The Music of Leaving, my collection of poetry, is available to order.
Order directly online — for both Canada and U.S. orders — from Amazon, Brunswick and Demeter.
The Music of Leaving - Tricia McCallum

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