The History of Red

Last night I was very fortunate to hear the world premier of The History of Red, composed by Reena Esmail. This was at the Santa Fe Pro Musica at the Lensic. It sets Linda Hogan’s poem of the same name for solo soprano and instruments.

I have always loved Chickasaw poet Linda Hogan’s work. This particular poem is dazzling. Its metaphor of red is never reductive but compels the reader.

there was some order of things
never spoken
but in dreams of darkest creation.

Soprano Kathryn Mueller, the instigator of the project, has a voice that transported me. I also couldn’t help but admire the brilliant red accessories she was wearing.

This life in fire, I love it.
I want it,
this life.

For the complete poem:

More Reading Response–with some conversation

Susan Nalder
Undaunted Courage by Stephan Ambrose – breathtaking- Sacagewea means Jumping Fish, and the moment she reunites with her brother-

Rochelle Williams
Sleepless Nights, Elizabeth Hardwick. Again. Vesper Flights, Helen MacDonald.

Miriam Sagan
How is Sleepless Nights? I’ve been reading the NY Stories

Rochelle Williams
I have loved it and been enthralled and mystified by it since the first time I read it many, many years ago. I reread it periodically. It’s so evocative of Rilke’s Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Nancy Fay
KA by John Crowley; Horizon by Barry Lopez; The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel and everything I can find by N K Jemisin who is prolific.

Jerry Friedman
Must read new John Crowley book. Thanks for mentioning it! I see it’s been out since 2017.

Nancy Fay
As a longtime devotee of Crowley, I’d rank it just slightly below “Little, Big” which is high praise.

Heidi Schulman
Reading Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Togarczuk. Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo is next.

Richard Krawiec
My Father’s Glory and My Mother’s Castle by Marcel Pagnol

Peter Cherches
I just finished Shteyngart’s Our Country Friends. Pretty good.

Jerry Friedman
Donna Leon, Suffer the Little Children (one of her police procedurals set in Venice).

Amy Losak
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion.

Zoë Bird
Mary Ruefle, My Private Property, & Cixin Liu, Death’s End


Still some more blogs on this to come!

But Have You Tried Tumeric?

Yes, there is indeed something wrong with me. A somewhat mysterious, rather difficult something. When I was 21, I almost died from what may have been swine flu. My lungs went out. Surgery saved my life and scarred 25% of my torso. I have trouble walking, trouble breathing–all kinds of trouble.
And no–tumeric doesn’t help. However, there are times when passing acquaintances prescribe it weekly.
Maybe it is because I live in a New Age town. Maybe because people are kind (or bossy and butt-insky.)
Some people don’t trust allopathic medicine. It is still shocking to me how much this involves all-or-nothing thinking. Does something have to be perfect for me to engage in it? Obviously not, or I’d never stay married, work a job, have friends, raise children, or live in my neighborhood. Or write or pray or exercise or anything else.
I am sorry to say it, but many things do not have a “cure.” They can be helped, but not completely. My right lung is cloudy and scarred on the X-ray. I know to not panic when a doctor sees it for the first time. I also know not to bother with tumeric.
Not everything has an understandable origin. Many things–physical, emotional, spiritual–are in a gray zone and will remain there.
“Health” has eluded me for 56 years. However, this is not your problem to solve. I’m not going to solve it either. I’m going to treat the symptoms, accept the rest, and never buy into any promotion of ableism. Sickness, old age, and death are not failures but the common human lot. Check out your Buddhism if you feel confused about this.
My experience has helped m a lot during covid. Here is how:
1. I already know my own mortality.
2. I respect killer viruses.
3. I believe in medical science while acknowledging its limits.
4. I don’t expect easy answers.
5. I’m fine thinking for myself while remaining part of the human community.
6. My belief in control is very limited.
But most importantly, I’m used to functioning with fear about my health. I don’t like fear any more than anyone does, but after decades of practice that fear doesn’t rule me, at least not every minute.
What do I like from the world? Mild friendly sympathy. That people realize I actually am an adult, making my own decisions. And I won’t turn down a slice of pie.
But not tumeric.
P.S. Please do not post suggested cures in the comments section!

What Are You Reading? Responses

At least three people said Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. Cheryl Marita wrote: “I just finished it and miss it already.”

AJ Schuman
Einstein’s Dreams, by Alan Lightman
It’s a beautiful meditation on the meaning of time. I think that you would like it.

Rod Scott
Can’t Buy Me Love, Jonathan Gould. It’s not merely a look at the Beatles as four individuals who made music but also a journey into the sociological, economic, political, and philosophical context of their lives. I’ve found it quite fascinating.


More to come!

Pantoum by Ro Calhoun

No Fault, Just Fate

No fault, just fate, as we wait
Hearts break in our silent state
No words were left unsaid
Now we peer beyond this earthly realm

Hearts break in our silent state
His body dissolves a day at a time
Now we peer beyond this earthly realm
I listen to bullfrogs on the pond

His body dissolves a day at a time
Broken dreams and hope crushing
I listen to bullfrogs on the pond
His smile weak and the future bleak

Broken dreams and hope crushing
Don’t look forward, stay in the moment
His smile weak and the future bleak
But now is real, so be strong as steel

Don’t look forward, stay in the moment
No words were left unsaid
And now is real, so be strong as steel
No fault, just fate, as we wait

What Are You Reading?

This often gets a good response, and I hope for one here.
What are you enjoying? Include genre too, and non-fiction, and what you read for relaxation.
Just post below or write me at and I’ll compose some blog posts!
I’m almost done with Simone de Beauvoir’s “Inseparable” about a romantic friendship.(If it was by Colette it would be sexy, and there would be more cats and better food. As is, somewhat…philosophical.) Added plus–a very witty intro by Margaret Atwood.
“The Unseen” is about a tiny Norwegian island in the Arctic Ocean. It seems to be about the hard details of life until suddenly it becomes wildly dramatic. I was mesmerized, but you have to like reading about dried fish. By Roy Jacobsen.
And, so far, four out of five books in a densely populated family saga. Starting with “The Light Years” this traces a sprawling British family, the Cazalets, from right before WW2 through to the post war years, by Elizabeth J. Howard. The boredom of war, and the oppression of even lively childhoods, is exquisitely drawn. You’ll need the cast of characters sheet, though.
And you?