top photo of newsletter

And Words Are All I Have

9 weeks 2

The Sorrowful and the Sublime.

me and Stuart

This little upstart entered my life this week. I have called him Stuart, a fitting Scot's name. I am already besotted.

A mere nine weeks old, he is away from his mother and his litter mate for the first time so his first night with me was fretful, naturally. I sang "You Are My Sunshine" to him on a loop. I have no idea if it comforted him but it worked for me.

I took him out shopping yesterday, tucking him into a large satchel on top of a cozy blanket. (I didn't want to leave him home alone yet.) He was good as gold throughout and only occasionally let out a schnurfle. He did squeak his displeasure when I put broccoli into my cart, but was preternaturally quiet as I browsed the ice cream section.

I've raised many puppies and each time I forget just how busy these wee creatures are, how unabashedly affectionate and, yes, utterly crazed. My friend Stephany described you as "a tiny cloud on the move."

Anonymous described a puppy, to my mind perfectly, as "a little heartbeat at my feet." That he is.

I am delighted that you are here with us, Stuart. I sense the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Let's explore the world together, helping one another discover it ... as if for the first time.

Stuart first day home March 9 2022 2

The New Dog

Into the gravity of my life,
the serious ceremonies
of polish and paper
and pen, has come
this manic animal
whose innocent disruptions
make nonsense
of my old simplicities-
as if I needed him
to prove again that after
all the careful planning,
anything can happen.

~~ Linda Pastan

Stuart first day home March 9 2022 5
From the sublime to the sorrowful. Our lives present both of these extremes to us unceasingly. This piece on Ukraine is extracted from Garrison Keillor’s blog today.

"The war is far away and then it is up close. I write a parody of Frost’s 'Stopping By Woods' in which the man stops to pee and out of nowhere I remember the photograph in the Times of a Ukrainian family trying to escape the Russian advance, hurrying through a small town to catch a train to somewhere, a young boy, girl, mother, a family friend, carrying packs and a dog in a carrier, towing a suitcase, and here they lie freshly dead, murdered by Russian mortars shelling civilians, no military engagement nearby, and the image stays with you, the friend face-up, the boy and girl lying on their sides, and who will tell the father who is probably fighting somewhere, who will bury them, who will commemorate these senseless horrible deaths?

The Minneapolis paper ran a story about the Times’s decision to run the picture but didn’t run the picture, which isn’t gruesome or bloody, but simply terribly real. Four people suddenly killed for no reason except to cause suffering. The Russians have shelled power plants, hospitals, refugees, and war crimes are fundamental to Putin’s policy, and the photograph was the Times’s way to show that. The picture is clear in my mind days later."


Sonnet 73:
That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish’ d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

~~ William Shakespeare

pencil drawing red heart
I am here, listening. Share your own stories with me, gentle reader.
tricia handwritten signature

Recent Post

Gabby Petito

For all of the girls and the women who trusted too much... those found and never found, the lost ones, the lonely ones, whose stories go untold, their heartache entombed alongside them. Last Text from Gabby Petito No service here, but at least I’m free from the cage bars of my body; remember what I’d blogged in observation of …
Gabby Petito

Michael O'Donnell didn't return home from the Vietnam War, but his poetry did. Alum Daniel Weiss was so taken by O'Donnell's work that he spent the last decade-plus learning about its author.

This is from an essay by Bret McCabe, himself a vet, published Spring of 2020.

Helicopter pilot Michael O'Donnell could hover near the ground for only a short time before returning to the sky. On the afternoon of March 24, 1970, O'Donnell had guided his Huey below the dense foliage of Cambodia's mountainous northeast region to retrieve an eight-man reconnaissance patrol that had been inserted to gain information on the size and movements of enemy forces but encountered gunfire early on. Three days into a planned five-day patrol, they needed to be evacuated.

O'Donnell, a 24-year-old from suburban Milwaukee, was part of the helicopter rescue mission involving two unarmed transports and four gunships that were dispatched from an airbase in Vietnam's central highlands. After lingering at 1,500 feet, waiting for the recon team to reach the extraction point, one transport had to return to base to refuel. The transport was on its way back when the recon team radioed that it couldn't hold out much longer. O'Donnell dropped his helicopter into a windy canyon and through a small opening in the canopy, lowered his craft to just above the ground. The recon patrol emerged from the jungle with enemy fire trailing after them. It took about four agonizingly long minutes for all eight men to board, a little longer than the average pop song.

After ascending about 200 feet, O'Donnell radioed to air command, "I've got all eight, I'm coming out," right before his helicopter burst into flames, likely struck by a ground-based rocket. The pilot, his three-man crew, and the recon patrol were officially declared missing in action in 1970. O'Donnell wouldn't be declared dead until February 7, 1978. His remains were discovered in 1995 but not officially identified until February 15, 2001. And on August 16, 2001, he was interred at Arlington National Cemetery, which was created as a final resting place for soldiers on land seized from a plantation owner after the Civil War. O'Donnell left behind his wife, his parents, a sister, his best friend and music partner, and a collection of 19 poems, some of which he included in his letters to friends, discovered in his footlocker after his death.

One of those 19 retrieved pieces, printed below, O'Donnell had mailed to his friend Marcus Sullivan in 1970. Sullivan served as a combat engineer in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968, and they wrote each other throughout their training and tours. O'Donnell's daily missions transporting the dead and wounded back from the front lines were taking their toll.

If you are able,
save them a place
inside of you
and save one backward glance
when you are leaving
for the places they can
no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say
you loved them,
though you may
or may not have always.
Take what they have left
and what they have taught you
with their dying
and keep it with your own. And in that time
when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane,
take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes
you left behind.


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

Poetry goes social...

facebook twitter instagram youtube 
Email Marketing Powered by MailPoet