Category: Poetry

Class Assignment: Illustrate a Poem

I have a lot of old photos and negatives. A lot. Tons. Gazillions. Most of them are not very good, so I’m culling the herd this winter. I hung on to a few black and white photos from my photojournalism classes because I just couldn’t let them go. And lucky you, I’m going to post three of my old class assignments here this week.

This is, dust marks included, the result of two separate exposures on a single sheet of photo paper. Sandwiching the negatives just didn’t work.


People riding trains are nice
they offer magazines
and chocolate-covered cherries,
the details you want most to know
about their recent operations.
If I’d been riding home to you
I could have listened with both ears
but I was on my way away.

Across from me
there was a girl crying
(long, silent tears)
while an old man held her hand.

It was only a little while ago you said,
Take the seat by the window,
you’ll see more.

I filled the seat beside me
with my coat and books.
I’m antisocial without you.
I’m antiworld and people too.

Sometimes I think
I’ll never ride a train again.
At least not away.

— Rod McKeun

When Polio Was the Enemy (Part 3)

FDR and the March of Dimes

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (b. 1882) began his political career in 1910 when he was elected to the New York State Senate. Three years later, he was sworn in at the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Wilson administration and held that post until 1920.

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Credit: Library of Congress
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fdr_dime.png

The next year, he was diagnosed with polio. Despite aggressive treatments, he was never again able to walk unaided. (Some now think this was a misdiagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome.) His political career continued, however, and in 1929 he was elected Governor of New York and served two terms through 1932 when he was elected President of the United States.

For the rest of his life, Roosevelt remained committed to helping other victims of polio. The Georgia Warm Springs Foundation that he founded in 1927 is today the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. It provides vocational rehabilitation programs for individuals with disabilities.

In 1938, he founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (later renamed the March of Dimes).

The term March of Dimes was inspired by a nationwide fund-raising campaign in the weeks preceding Roosevelt’s birthday in 1938. Many of the envelopes (estimated at 40-50,000 per day) contained a single dime sent by a child.

After his death, the familiar redesign of the dime bearing FDR’s image was issued.

More Robert Frost: A Prayer in Spring

Heritage Gardens and Museums, Sandwich, MA
Heritage Gardens and Museums, Sandwich, MA

In the spirit of Spring, here is another poem by Robert Frost — 100 years old and still very much relevant to our lives.


Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

4_2009_vacation 004

Despite the brutal winter, it appears that resilient Spring will not let us down. Driving today, I saw the first buds on trees — a golden hue that always reminds me of Robert Frost’s poem.


Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.