Thursday, January 31, 2013


Hello Grandma; I
am sending you my sweetest
kisses every day.

catherinenglish 01-31-2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Speech geeks are my favorite people in all the world, 
even if I stay up all night cutting plays, writing transitions,
fretting over ballots, extemporaneous topics, and whether or not 
we have enough rooms for every competitor at our own
invitational.  It's crazy but a whole lot of fun and exhaustion.

catherinenglish 01-30-2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Children are born to 
remind us of innocent
moments of great joy.

catherinenglish 01-29-2013

Monday, January 28, 2013


Summer is toddler
time; freedom to play outside,
in the sweet salty sun. 

catherinenglish 01-28-2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I look up at the shelf of my journals again today and pulled out the blue one with the words "Celebrate Each New Day" embossed with gold on the cover and opened up to a poem I tried to write eight years ago:

The mint green card is faded,
brown stains, remnants of rubber cement,
"With sympathy and understanding" is written in white script,
the scene on the cover is mock needle point--
apple blossoms framing a stream with a foot bridge--
it's a peaceful image,
twenty years pass as I open the card,
"Those who know you  understand the loss you feel today"
the card begins; words I never paid attention to--
My eyes still search for your words, quickly scribbled, 
illegible really,
"Dear Cathy sorry I didn't make it love forgive me & you have dad's love, sympathy love hope 
your feeling better  love Dad"
and I know you meant every word of it, but
I wanted to hear it,
feel your callused hand in mine, 
smell the comfort of your Old Spice and perspiration,
feel your afternoon beard on my cheek,
smell your cigarette smoke and Tide scented plaid shirt,
feel your arms around me on that wind swept November day; 
I searched for your brown eyes, wanting to look away from that 
white Styrofoam box, pink carnations cascading to the ground. 
Did you not want to say goodbye to the granddaughter who would never be?

catherinenglish 01-27-2013


It was Alpha Xi Delta's Mother-Daughter Day,
yesterday, but you, dear daughter, 
spent it at a speech tournament, 
judging younglings, 
while I spent the day, 
beginning at 5:00 a.m., 
coaching, judging, and putting out fires, 
but then drove to Lincoln, 
where we missed the Paint Yourself Silly event, 
but chose to attend the play,
the piece you cut for your final year of speech,
and I was reminded of your insight and wisdom
at the way you read and cut this play,
focusing on the message:

"Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty. 
When you are lost, you are not alone. "

catherinenglish 01-27-2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

The dead of winter makes me long for 
summer road trips with Anna,
noting all of the anti-abortion signs along back roads in Nebraska,
just because we wanted to count them. Stopping for lattes wherever we could, too, 
supporting locally owned businesses
but also Warren Buffett because we couldn't pass up a DQ and ice cream.

catherinenglish 01-25-2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013


When I was a kid I remember wanting to wear my dad's 
work boots, and he always said, "No, you'll get Athlete's Foot!" 
But I remember how fascinated I was with those heavy leather 
boots with steel toes, clomping around listening to the sound of 
such sturdiness;
and what a delight when my grandson, 
who quietly disappeared on Mother's Day 2012, 
and in the adult panic of a "lost toddler"
was found, playing contentedly,
flopping around in grandma's shoes. 

catherinenglish 01-24-2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Grandparenting is
simply, amazingly, the 
greatest joy of life.

catherinenglish 01-23-2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sitting at my desk, 
contemplating the universe, 
remembering that the answer is 42,
thanks to Mr. Adams,
on a day when I need a little humor,
or at least a different perspective.

catherinenglish 01-22-2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

This is my favorite photo of Anna Rose English,
classic look, black dress and faux pearls,
a wisp of hair, misplaced (no perfect coiffure for her)
green splotch of paint picking up the green in her eyes,
smiling, in her last school photo exactly how she 
smiled in her kindergarten photo, toothless,
a gentle smile from a placid soul. 

catherinenglish 01-21-2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I went to prison today,
writing with incarcerated women
humbles me, 
their powerful words, 
speaking, finally,
about the pain of abuse,
taking the blame,
until one day,
they SNAP,
and end up in prison,
the perpetrators,
walking scott free,
perverts continually 
crushing the lives 
of innocent little girls.

catherinenglish 01-20-2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Mountain stream music
is a melody only 
nature can sing me.

catherinenglish 01-19-2013

Friday, January 18, 2013


Every soul is a celestial Venus to every other soul. The heart has its sabbaths and jubilees in which the world appears a hymeneal feast, and all natural sounds and the circle of the seasons are erotic odes and dances. Love is omnipresent in nature as motive and reward. Love is our highest word and the synonym of God.  -Emerson

I wish I had turned that phrase,
"Love is our highest word and 
the synonym of God," because 
my passion for syllables, words,
phrases, sentences, paragraphs and 
pages is as pure as my love for God.

catherinenglish 01-18-2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Albert E. Marth from Cora and Will Wood

I love old books 
because they have so much character--
because I wonder
who else held them in his hands,
read the words, 
contemplated them,
 planted them into 
his heart, as words to live by,
absorbed the words into his mind, 
the synapses connecting the meaning
of words.

catherinenglish 01-17-2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Tera brought me a Christmas gift
before the semester was over; 
sugar scrub she made herself
(recipe: sugar and olive oil and food coloring)
and a joke that only English teachers would appreciate.

(Well, maybe some well versed normal people too, like the Smiths).

catherinenglish 01-16-2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What? We have leftover
Scotch-a-roos! You have got to
be kidding me, right?

catherinenglish 01-15-2013

Monday, January 14, 2013


This evening I received one
of the finest gifts I have ever received:
a leather pouch with sage, sewn by 
Godfrey Brokenrope.  The first thing 
I did was sniff it, mindful of its 
smudging ability, sending its scent in 
the four directions, me looking east, toward 
the red road of healing.

catherinenglish 01-14-2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013


--Dedicated to all of my teacher friends

If Sunday is a day of rest, I don't grasp the concept,
because since 11:00 a.m. I've read and responded
to eleven creative writing students,
washed a load of clothes,
figured up points for speech team members,
filed their ballots in our handy dandy box,
printed results and posted them on my bulletin board,
met with Miss Klawonn from 4:00-6:00 p.m. to discuss
a fellowship opportunity
(Europe this summer--fingers crossed!)
wrote seven letters of recommendation
(one hour of rest for "Downton Abbey")
and now I will write a narrative for that fellowship 
in 16, 500 characters,
and then grade twenty-two essays focused on an 
important person in my students' lives.
(Did I mention it was 10:01 p.m.?)

catherinenglish 01-13-2013

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Candles comfort me.

In the stillness of an empty Catholic
church, I breath deeply, smell the candle
wax, smile at the shadows tickling the chin 
of the Virgin Mary, her eyes cast down upon 
blue glass cups, votive prayers lit 
for a dollar or two by a vagrant heart, 
a soul wandering the streets in the black hours,
seeking a flicker of hope.

catherinenglish 01-12-13

Friday, January 11, 2013


Just a little while ago I fretted over sleepless nights,
asthma and pneumonia,
broken leg, broken elbow,
homework assignments,
clarinet cleaning,
buying the perfect speech dress 
(black, simple and elegant, 
"Something Audrey Hepburn would wear"),
and a first pair  of high heeled shoes.

catherinenglish 01-11-2103

Thursday, January 10, 2013

the white of Christmastide, the
color of Advent.

catherinenglish 01-10-2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Empty Chair

Thomas Leitner, OSB explained that the gold chair
in the upper left corner of the 
Nativity Box was Jesus's chair, 
because the son had become human,
a helpless infant, 
and I commented that the Peruvian figures I liked best 
were the musicians, jester, shepherds,
and other common folk who, along with the angels, 
and only three wise men (where were all the philosophers and kings?)
recognized an act of God 
and came out to celebrate, dance, and sing. 

catherinenglish 01-09-13 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Study in Blue

Six-year-olds are amazingly accurate, 
their power of observation keen.
The Stripes on the shirt are exact,
even the thickness of the lines
 imitate reality, but 
the girl whose heart favors yellow, composed 
her art in hues of blue.
catherinenglish 01-08-13

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Christmas wreath I buy at the Pine Patch in 
Hastings, Nebraska usually stays up until the end of February 
because I forget that it's up there, slightly left of the front door, 
below the nickle-plated numbers 404, and even though I see 
it daily, reminding me to dispose of it, I cling to the vestiges
of the season: the fir, the cones, the glittery plastic balls in 
monochromatic browns, and large showy bow,
evergreens alluding to eternity.

catherinenglish 1-07-13

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I'm old fashioned. I still love to receive Christmas cards in the mail. 
I relish walking to the black metal mailbox at the end of my driveway 
for the envelopes with our name and address and the stamp
in the upper right hand corner. 
The overwhelming favorite stamp this year was the orange-colored one
with the Holy Family,
Mary on the donkey with the Star up in the clouds.
But there were also reindeer, ornaments, and Raphael's Madonna and Child.

After Christmas, I lovingly put away all the ornaments and festive decor,
while Jerry takes the white pine tree outside, ready for recycling,
and every year, as always,
I sit quietly and re-read all of our Christmas cards and letters,
and place them in a pile and store them in a box.
catherinenglish 1-06-13

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ode to Ardys Dunsmoor

My mentor retired last year and each Saturday
her absence is tangible--silence its witness,
her hearty laughter a memory,
her Lauren Bacall voice, doling out wit and wisdom,
alleviating our naïveté--

I wore my finest attire today and running shoes
and white socks with panty hose, her signature,
grateful for her presence through the past twenty years.
catherinenglish 1-05-13

Friday, January 4, 2013

#4 Sibling Haiku
Birthday twins of a
generation; cannot stand
each other's music.
catherinenglish 1-04-13

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Some days I am just too weary
to find the best in others, and then
I'll go to yoga, complete the final three ujjayi breaths;
Mardell whispers, "Namaste," at the end of class,
greeting the divine within all of her pupils,
and her wisdom reminds me to look into the eyes
of each living being, remembering why I first loved Emerson and his Over-soul.

catherinenglish 1-03-13

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It came as no surprise
I reached for the journal with my favorite Emerson quote
printed on the cover--a gift from Kristi Ketchum
a former student...
"To laugh often and much..."
a journal among several sitting silently on a shelf,
and out tumbles three copies of your memorial service program--
Of course!
You reminding me I should be writing,
making myself crazy with these words,
just so,
penning something beautiful,
creating a brilliant verse.
But no, it is late at night,
reminding me of a decade ago,
stroking your face, gently whispering,
"Dad, it's OK to go,"
and you, agitated, eyes intense,
trying to untether yourself from an IV
and this world,
repeating, "I gotta go, I gotta go, I gotta go."
catherinenglish 1-02-13

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Why did Dante put Judas Iscariot
into the frozen center of Hell?
Or into the Inferno at all?
Does not fire purify?
Does not ice purify?
Fire and ice hold resurrection power--
The singed and the frost-bitten--
the sting of the flesh,
consider the stench of mortality
against the clean, pristine idea of eternity.
catherinenglish 1-1-13
Snow  reminds me 
something beautiful 
can be dangerous, 
frigid enough
 to stun our souls
if we do not light 
small candles in dark rooms, 
our hearts,
 kindle tender fires
 in our intellect,
igniting blazes
the face of God
 in the simplest,
softest whisper,
a flake of snow.