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Talking into the Ear of a Donkey : Poems

“[Robert Bly] is . . . the most recent in a line of great American transcendentalist writers.”—The New York Times

With poems ranging from the ghazal form to free verse, Talking into the Ear of a Donkey is Robert Bly’s richest and most varied collection. In the title poem, Bly addresses the “donkey”—possibly poetry itself—that has carried him through a writing life of more than six decades.

from “Talking into the Ear of a Donkey”
“What has happened to the spring,”
I cry, “and our legs that were so joyful
In the bobblings of April?” “Oh, never mind
About all that,” the donkey
Says. “Just take hold of my mane, so you
Can lift your lips closer to my hairy ears.”


Robert Bly is a professional writer who makes more than $600,000 per year from his writing. Now, he’s ready to share his secrets. 88 Money-Making Writing Jobs presents the best outlets writers can find to turn their words into profit (including many that few people think to seek out).

  • Along with an overview of each job, you’ll discover:
  • A breakdown of what it typically pays
  • The nuts and bolts of what you’ll write
  • What it takes to work in the field
  • How to get started
  • Resources for finding the work

For anyone serious about a career as a writer, this guide offers the best information on how to make incredible money in ways that are fun, challenging, and make the most of your writing talents.

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June 6

Today is June 6. Read about what happened this date in history


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The Secret Language of Color

In this beautiful and thorough investigation, The Secret Language of Color celebrates and illuminates the countless ways in which color colors our world.

Why is the sky blue, the grass green, a rose red? Most of us have no idea how to answer these questions, nor are we aware that color pervades nearly all aspects of life, from the subatomic realm and the natural world to human culture and psychology.


Organized into chapters that begin with a fascinating explanation of the physics and chemistry of color, The Secret Language of Color travels from outer space to Earth, from plants to animals to humans. In these chapters we learn about how and why we see color, the nature of rainbows, animals with color vision far superior and far inferior to our own, how our language influences the colors we see, and much more. Between these chapters, authors Joann Eckstut and Ariele Eckstut turn their attention to the individual hues of the visible spectrum—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet—presenting each in fascinating, in-depth detail.


Including hundreds of stunning photographs and dozens of informative, often entertaining graphics, every page is a breathtaking demonstration of color and its role in the world around us. Whether you see red, are a shrinking violet, or talk a blue streak, this is the perfect book for anyone interested in the history, science, culture, and beatuty of color in the natural and man-made world.


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Conversations with Maya Angelou

Author(s):Maya Angelou (1928- 2014) and Claudia Tate

Publication Details:Conversations with Maya Angelou. Ed. Jeffrey M. Elliot. University Press of Mississippi, 1989.p146-156.

 From Literature Resource Center (check the link for the full text)

Source:Poetry Criticism. Ed. Ellen McGeagh. Vol. 32. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001.

[(interview date 1983) In the following interview, originally conducted in 1983, Angelou discusses the influence of other writers, social conditions, and her own experience upon her work.]

I try to live what I consider a “poetic existence.” That means I take responsibility for the air I breathe and the space I take up. I try to be immediate, to be totally present for all my work. I try. This interview with you is a prime example of this. I am withdrawing from the grief that awaits me over the death of someone dear so that I can be present for you, for myself, for your work and for the people who will read it, so I can tell you exactly how I feel and what I think and try to answer your questions cheerfully–if I feel cheerful–as I can. That to me is poetic. I try for concentrated consciousness which I miss by more than half, but I’m trying.

Did you envision young Maya as a symbolic character for every black girl 

growing up in America?

 Yes, after a while I did. 

It’s a strange condition, being an autobiographer and a poet. I have to be so internal, andyet while writing, I have to be apart from the story so that I don’t fall into indulgence. Whenever I speak about the books, I always think in terms of the Maya character. 

When I wrote the teleplay of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I would refer to the Maya

 character so as not to mean me. It’s damned difficult for me to preserve this distancing. 

But it’s very necessary.

What writers have influenced your work?

There were two men who probably formed my writing ambition more than any others. They were Paul Lawrence Dunbar and William Shakespeare. I love them. I love the rhythm and sweetness of Dunbar’s dialect verse. I love “Candle Lighting Time” and “Little Brown Baby.” I also love James Weldon Johnson’s “Creation.”

I am also impressed by living writers. I’m impressed with James Baldwin. I continue to see not only his craftsmanship but his courage. That means a lot to me. Courage may be the most important of all the virtues because without it one cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. I’m impressed by Toni Morrison a great deal. I long for her new works. I’m impressed by the growth of Rosa Guy. I’m impressed by Ann Petry. I’m impressed by the work of Joan Didion. Her first collection, Slouching Toward Jerusalem, contains short pieces, which are absolutely stunning. I would walk fifty blocks in high heels to buy the works of any of these writers. I’m a country girl, so that means a lot.

How do you feel about your past works?

 Generally, I forget them. I’m totally free of them. They have their own life. I’ve done well by them, or I did the best I could, which is all I can say. I’m not cavalier about work anymore than I am about sitting here with you, or cooking a meal, or cleaning my house. I’ve tried to be totally present, so that when I’m finished with a piece of work, I’m finished. I remember one occasion when we were in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria some years ago. I think I was with my sister friends–Rosa [Guy], Paule [Marshall] and Louise [Meriwether]. We were sitting at a table near the bandstand during some tribute for someone, and I felt people staring at me. Someone was singing, say, stage left, and some people were performing a dance. It was very nice, but I felt people staring; so I turned around, and they were. My sister friends were all smiling. I wondered what was happening. I had been following the performance. Well, it turned out that the singer was doing a piece of mine, and they had choreographed a dance to it. I had forgotten the work altogether. The work, once completed, does not need me. The work I’m working on needs my total concentration. The one that’s finished doesn’t belong to me anymore. It belongs to itself.

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Write Your Story @ the Union City Library….reaching for the Moon!

airplaneHello it’s Wednesday May 14th. 8:20 am…. It seems that I was NOT clear in the story below… Dotson, Keller, Pollacek and I were NOT the ones that 
kept up any of the mimicking behavior. We were all there the night it started, the next morning we told the Colonel we were embarrassed and would not do that again,
he told us that he thought the whole thing was funny.. In a few days we saw that the ragging was not funny to him, we had not mimicked him at all since that first night…
Our guilt stemmed from the fact that after day 4 or so we didn’t stop the other 20 or so guys that had kept it up.
I am going to rewrite the piece below to explain that part in a clearer manner…  



Searching for the right word is tough, mimicking, harassing, hassling, picking-on,
joshing, there might be another dozen words that sort of fit. None of them really fit, exactly.
One may be just fooling around, out of affection, just a joke, no one meant anything mean.
You know how young people are, just being funny and foolish, right?


This story grew out of a writing prompt “Conflict” at the Senior Center, here in Fremont.
Sadly, much of this story is way too true, names have been changed.
The last time I saw Dotson, he was almost begging for forgiveness for
the four of us, for not stopping the mimicking on the second day, between
the four of us, (I was the smallest) we could have stopped it dead, right then.
I was 18 at the time, 52 years ago and shame and regret has only spread, wider and deeper…

Conflict: Alcohol vs Ragging over Col. Argy

an unresolved question

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Back then, in the Navy, a sailor from Kentucky was known as the “Kentucky Colonel,” every one of them. Our favorite was Argyle “Argy” Sibley, he was from outside of Pine Knot, in the SE corner of the state, near  the joint of KY, TN and VA. Col. Argy called it “Kay-Tin-Vaaahh county, kinda confused but sorta peaceable.”
There is no doubt “The Colonel” was the most popular guy in the squadron, tall and lanky, a tad ungainly, with strange, “unfiltered ciderey”   looking, blond hair that appeared unkempt even when closely cropped. He had a permanent smile like a dolphin, an even disposition, and a love of all, as he said, “the long the short and the tall.” 
Everyone loved him, from the Skipper all the way to the bar girls in all the dives we visited out-side of the gates, all over the far east. I can close my eyes today and hear the b-girls in Sagamioska struggle with, “Colonel Argy”, that was almost as tough for them as, “Darrell”, that was the cutest…
Col. Argy, was the best shipmate ever, he actually would give anyone, “the shirt off of his back,” he did that once, for a little kid with a bloody nose in Olongapo, outside of Cubi Point in the Philippines. 
To this day, 52 years later, it’s a complete mystery to me, why almost all of us, his best friends and squadron mates, without any planning or collusion what so ever, destroyed his future happiness.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Colonel had a little quirk about him, after about four or five beers he would turn real red and splotchy and would stammer and stumble through his stories. At the same time he talked about five times his regular amount. He’d be on his feet, waving his arms and swaying back and forth, side to side, stuttering and faltering though a story of moonshiners and tent revivals, mules and farmers, and winsome young females, both humans and horses…
One of the guys started mimicking Argy, not the red face of course, but the body language and the accent, though mostly the stutter. We would all laugh, even The Colonel, at the beginning at least. The whole thing was real funny, other guys started doing the mimicking too. It spread from at night in the bars, on to the flight line and in the barracks even to the galley. In short order, people that didn’t really know him would stammer at him…  It wasn’t funny any more, his dolphin smile even slipped a bit.
Dotson, Keller, Pollacek and me, we all stopped the ragging on Argy almost immediately, some others didn’t for a while. The four of us could have stopped it, we should have stopped it, we were young and stupid, we didn’t stop it. Within a couple of weeks The Colonel, our best friend, no longer had a stutter just while drinking, it was full time now. By then everyone had stopped with the ragging, it was too little, too late. His normal demeanor had changed too. Mostly now his head was down a little his eyes were avoiding you, he seemed shorter and shrunken. He talked a lot less, avoided going off base to the night spots. A few of us tried to keep him with us and get him back to his old self. We failed, we failed him, he had never failed us.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In Nov. of ’62 Argy was rotated out, he had had orders to pick up with our sister squadron in Rota Spain, but the Squadron Flight Surgeon had got him switched to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. They would work on his speech problems there for six months and if they weren’t successful  he would get a medical discharge. At the terminal on Guam about a dozen of us were seeing him off. The Skipper and Maintenance Officer and the Flight Surgeon and his wife joined around eight of us enlisted men to say goodbye and good luck. It was a pretty quiet sendoff and as Argy was turning to climb up to the Pan Am 707 he turned and tried to say something, he failed…
Most of us stayed and watched the big jet climb into the darkening sky. The Flight Surgeon’s, normally friendly wife, turned her back on us and walked to their Ford. The remaining 7 or so of us enlisted men took the base bus to the Enlisted Men’s Club. An hour later one of the guys said, “that it was too bad that alcohol had caused The Colonel’s stutter.” Dotson and I blew up and said, “that we, all of his buddies, had caused it. A few minutes later 13 squadron mates were fighting outside in the crushed coral and mud. No one won the argument or the fight. Five months later I left Guam for a bomber outfit on Whidbey Island, Washington State. I never heard of Argyle Sibley again, I thought of looking for him a thousand times, I never have.
In 2008 I spent a couple of days with Dotson, we talked of many things. Finally at 3am in a Seattle Hotel Coffee Shop we discussed Argy, we didn’t have a lot to say, it seems that shame grows like a mold or a fungus. It never goes away, or sprouts like a tree, it just lives on, in the lower, darker places, hiding from the light.
A year or so later Dotson passed on, at his memorial, one of his daughters asked me about The Colonel and her Dads obsession about not ragging on a person’s disabilities. I told her a little of the insidious evils of alcohol. But mainly I spoke of the gross and repulsive evils of the human being, even when we didn’t mean it… It’s us humans have the most deleterious effects on other humans, sometimes  even the humans we love…
*the above story was submitted by Bruce Haase .
*the above picture was taken by Paul Schwafel /friend of Bruce Haase — May 12, 2014
“The U-2 photo was a chance opportunity, for sure. I had been to the Travis airshow (R.I.P. Eddie Andreini), and knew a U-2 was on display. On Monday, I kept the camera ready at home, just in case the B-52 on display came over the house on its way back to North Dakota. At 5:00pm I heard some pretty solid jet noise, migrated to the back yart, and eventually spotted the U-2 on climbout. It made a right turn to make a heading back toward Beale. As I watched it I noticed the moon and thought “this thing’s got a chance”. I was right, and got the lucky snaps.-Paul Schwafel, UAL Mechanic, retired”

Write Your Story @ the Union City Library

Join our senior library member Bruce Haase and write your memoir. Bruce is a life long

Bruce Haase

Bruce Haase

reader, he now writes memoire-based, creative non-fiction. These are informal meetings to support each other and organize your thoughts for writing. Sharing is optional.

Meeting takes place Tuesdays: May 20

 1 — 3 p.m.

Please bring your pen & paper.

For more information  : Bruce Haase

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Write Your Story @ the Union City Library

Last meeting Bruce discussed the four rules as he has learned from two creative writing  professors who have been published many times.

A-Permission to write badly!

B. Don’t write like a writer/write like a talker, speaker, thinker, “STORY  – TELLER !!!”

C. Short Sentences /  words/short BUT  COMPLETE THOUGHTS

D. The more you write the better…write letters  to people,anybody at all, send them or not. It does not matter , re-write them, turn it into an essay, a memo , a short story, a novel….

veniceJoin our senior library member Bruce Haase and write your memoir. Bruce is a life long reader, he now writes memoire-based, creative non-fiction. These are informal meetings to support each other and organize your thoughts for writing. Sharing is optional.

Meetings take place Tuesdays: May 20

1 — 3 p.m.
Please bring your pen & paper.

For more information contact : Bruce Haase

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First Love: Overview

Short story, 1860

Author(s):Brian Wilkie

Russian Novelist ( 1818 – 1883 )

Other Names Used: Turgenev, Ivan Sergeyevich; Turgenieff, Ivan; Turgenev, Ivan Sergeevich;

Source:Reference Guide to Short Fiction. Ed. Noelle Watson. Detroit: St. James Press.

From Literature Resource Center.

The seemingly ingenuous title of Turgenev’s novella Pervaia liubov ( First Love ) is actually ironic. It implies that the principal narrator, Volodia, has gone on to experience other loves, but apparently he has not, and his elegiac tone at both the beginning and the end of the story further implies that his early love was unique. Conversely, First Love implies that adolescent love is somehow special, but by the end of the story we see that love affects people of all ages in much the same way. Among those reduced to helplessness by love (or, more exactly, by romantic love, “being in” love) are Zinaida’s assortment of suitors, from the green Volodia to the middle-aged Dr. Lushin, Volodia’s father, Zinaida herself, even the 40-year-old Mark Antony (romantically assumed by the ignorant in the story to have been a youth when he loved Cleopatra). This story is not so much about “first” love as about romantic love. Ultimately, in fact, it is about something even broader. It is about vitality, what it means and feels like to be fully alive. Romantic love is important to the story primarily because people in love feel the life within and around them more intensely than others do.

This view of the story brings a number of its elements into sharper focus. For one thing, we see that the lyrical descriptions of nature—for which Turgenev is famous—are more than atmospheric mood music; nature also functions as an objective correlative to the young Volodia’s emerging sense that life can have aliveness, and experience can have intensity. Even before he meets Zinaida, he senses these new, “feminine” presences: “But through the tears and through the sorrow inspired by some melodious poem, or by the beauty of the evening, a joyous feeling of youthful and effervescent life sprang up like grass in spring” (translated by Harry Stevens, The Borzoi Turgenev). Later, correlating with the boy’s tense awareness of rivalry in his love and of dangerous glamour in Zinaida’s situation, the nightscape becomes portentous and uncanny: “suddenly everything grew profoundly still all around me…. Even the crickets ceased to chirrup among the trees…. I felt a strange agitation, as though I had been to keep an assignation and had been left waiting alone and had passed by another’s happiness.”

Among the more perishable essences in literature are the nuances of sexual desirability and, especially, of sexual charm. First Love depends heavily on our feeling Zinaida’s attractiveness, which consists in a combination of seductive__ness and imperiousness not necessarily in keeping with the tastes (male or female) of a later age. Probably the fascination in the mock-punishments and mock-beatings (with flowers, for example) that Zinaida metes out to her male worshipers is conditioned by a paradox of female imperiousness that, today, seems less sheerly paradoxical. Fortunately, however, in light of the main thrusts of the story, these beatings (the first time we see Zinaida she is delivering one of them) are part of a thematic counterpoint that loses none of its force with changing times; pain and violence continue to be as intelligible today as ever. Zinaida, the female focus of all the love vectors in the story, repeatedly gives and takes punishment, taking it most climactically in the brutal blow Volodia’s father deals her on the arm when he visits her in Moscow. Her kissing of the wound in this scene both confounds the watching Volodia and confirms for him the meaning, depth, and power of what he now recognizes as authentic love.

It is important that we not respond to this incident as mere brutality, any more than we should respond that way to the playful beatings Zinaida doles out earlier, or even the genuine pain she inflicts on Dr. Lushin when she forces him to laugh despite the shame and pain he feels when she pushes a pin hard into his skin. Nor is this a way of saying that love is sadomasochistic. The upshot, rather, is to define love as intensity of feeling—whether pleasurable or the opposite—and to contrast it as such with the various ways of being half-responsive and half-alive. The opening frame of the story—the clichéd situation of after-dinner storytelling, along with the utter banality of the first two men’s reminiscences—is one way of conveying this half-aliveness, as is the physical and moral shabbiness of Zinaida’s mother and home surroundings. The idle warnings given Volodia by the middle-aged—Dr. Lushin and Volodia’s father himself—about the dangers of romantic love (“that happiness, that poison”) amount to warning him away from life itself, which is exactly such an oxymoronic mixture of intensely vital feelings. Neither of the two older men is the worse person for being unable to take his own advice.

It is often remarked that Turgenev, characteristically, portrays romantic love as doomed to impermanence. The comment is exasperating, not only because such impermanence is an obvious fact of general human experience but, more importantly, because the comment misses the point and Turgenev’s tone. First Love, for example, is a sad story, even tragic, but its final effect is to affirm vitality, however painful. The dwelling on death in the last pages, including the painful story of the old woman who so tenaciously and illogically clings to a life that has been sheer misery, complements the dwelling on half-aliveness at the beginning: both front and end frames are chiaroscuro that lends brilliance and color to the explosiveness and wonder of life, which is most vividly realized through romantic love. After the blissful but painful experience of Zinaida’s farewell kiss, Volodia tells us, “I would never wish it to be repeated, but I would regard myself as unfortunate if I had never known it.” Looking back from middle age, he adds later, “what is left to me more fresh, more precious than the memory of that swiftly passed, vernal thunder of my morn?” The key fact is not that such vernal thunder has passed away but rather that it has existed.

eiffel_tower_black_and_whiteJoin our senior library member Bruce Haase
and write your memoir. Bruce is life long reader, he now writes memoire-based, creative non-fiction.
These are informal meetings ,
to support each other and organize your thoughts
for writing. Sharing is optional.
Meetings take place
five Tuesdays:
April 1, 15 & 29
and May 6 &20
1 p.m. — 3 p.m.
Please bring pen & paper
For more information contact Bruce Hasse
Or Lili Khalili
Union City Library 510-284-0629


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by | Thursday, April, 10, 2014 · 2:00 pm