Poetry Sunday: my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell

my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell

BY GWENDOLYN BROOKS

I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
And none can tell when I may dine again.
No man can give me any word but Wait,
The puny light. I keep eyes pointed in;
Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love.

Poetry Sunday: Beyond the Red River

Beyond the Red River

BY THOMAS MCGRATH

The birds have flown their summer skies to the south,
And the flower-money is drying in the banks of bent grass
Which the bumble bee has abandoned. We wait for a winter lion,
Body of ice-crystals and sombrero of dead leaves.

A month ago, from the salt engines of the sea,
A machinery of early storms rolled toward the holiday houses
Where summer still dozed in the pool-side chairs, sipping
An aging whiskey of distances and departures.
Now the long freight of autumn goes smoking out of the land.
My possibles are all packed up, but still I do not leave.
I am happy enough here, where Dakota drifts wild in the universe,
Where the prairie is starting to shake in the surf of the winter dark.

Poetry Sunday: Bees of Eleusis

Bees of Eleusis

BY FRANZ WRIGHT

Unless a grain of wheat goes into the ground and dies, it remains nothing but a grain of wheat.
—John 12:24

The ingredients gathered, a few small red tufts of the dream spoor per sheaf of Demeter’s blonde wheat, reaped in mourning, in silence, ground up with the pollen and mixed into white wine and honey. These stored forms of light taken under the ground. Taken by mouth. First those who by birth hold in secret the word; then placed on the tongues of the new ones, into whose ears it is meant to be whispered. Word murdered, forgotten so long ago, placed as a kiss on the lips of the soon-to-be-no-longer breathing who mean to enter death with open eyes, with mouths saying Death, what death? We have no word for it in our country where the bride of a brighter oblivion reigns. Not the purple-haired god but the child queen, the raped girl, come back from the dead hand in hand with the child she conceived there, returned in a resurrected virginity, wind through green wheat. Present-day site of a minor refinery in Christ. Although by the tenth generation already the children of light (“in their dark garments”) had trampled and smashed and generally raped the two thousand years of this precinct and its holy meal, intolerable mirror. Men who’d designed and bowed down to a law derived from the sayings of one who appeared here to say that the law is abolished, it is too late, all that is over with. Men who bungled their way through the next eighteen centuries before finally descending into the earth themselves, and what they found there they used, and we thank you for destroying the destroyers of the world. And here at the end this is as good as any other entrance to the underplace, journey of the fallen leaf back to the branch, to the bees of Eleusis among olive blossoms, untroubled among crimson wildflowers. Four thousand years later: same flowers, same bees.

Poetry Sunday: from Las piedras del cielo/ Skystones

from Las piedras del cielo/ Skystones

BY PABLO NERUDA

X

I invite you to topaz,
to the yellow
the bees,
and the lump of honey
in the topaz,
to the gold day
and the familial
drone of tranquility:
here is a minimal
church, built in a flower
as the bee builds, as
the planes of the sun or the leaf
in autumn’s yellowest profundity,
a tree, incandescently
rising, beam over beam, a sunburst corolla,
insect and honey and autumn, all
transformed by the salts of the sun:
essence of honey, the tremulous world
and the wheat of the sky
that labored to accomplish
this sun-changed, at rest in the pallor of topaz

Chlo sells pink lemonade

What I Learned at Chlo’s Lemonade Stand

You remember the Brazee bees, don’t you, Reader? According to Deb (and to me, and to everyone else we’ve let anywhere near any of the honey), the Brazee bees have produced the season’s most delicious honey. Bar none.

But this post isn’t necessarily about honey…it’s about last night’s “Bees and Beethoven at Brazee” Party of Note to benefit the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Sandy Gross, the owner and brain and heart and nerve behind the wonderful Brazee Street Studios asked me to share a little bit about honeybees with the party goers, and I was happy to do it. It was delightful…perhaps because we gathered outside in the Prairie area beneath a rising blue moon and we talked about bees. After that, we visited the two Brazee hives before watching JW May create a gorgeous honeybee in the new hot shop glass-blowing studio.

It was a sweet night…all the hor d’oeuvres were ever-so-slightly drizzled with honey produced by the Brazee bees; Sandy’s family and I dressed in yellow-and-black bee-appropriate attire; and I met some really nice new people. It wasn’t boring as so many parties are.

Chlo sells pink lemonade

But I have to tell you, my favorite part of the night was discovering Sandy and John’s daughter’s lemonade stand. Chlo is in first grade this year, and from the moment I met her (in April, when we installed the bees), I liked her. You know how you do, Reader? Well, there she was last night, sitting perfectly on a little stool behind her pink lemonade. She’d strategically opened for business outside the big open doors of the hot shop from which billowed intense heat, and her sign read: Lemonade, 1 cent. Party goers stood in line for it.

I had no money in my pocket at this point, Reader…not even a single penny. And how do you ask for a nice glass of ice-cold lemonade without paying for it?! So I sat through much of the glass-blowing demonstration dreaming of pink lemonade. Seriously. At some point, Chlo came to me and asked me if I wanted a glass of lemonade. I confessed to her that all I could think about was pink lemonade. All night…pink lemonade in a clear cup. She poured a nice glass of it for me. The clear cup she gave me frosted with coolness. It was perfect…absolutely delicious…probably because she’d been so sweet to seek me out and offer it.

We visited. I told Chlo that I thought she was showing interest in becoming a business woman. She agreed. I asked her if she knew yet what kind of business she hoped to establish. And, Reader, do you know what she said? She sort of shrugged and said, “Lemonade?” She said it as if it were a question. And I thought, well, yes, why the heck not lemonade?! I don’t know of a single world-famous lemonade business, so it seems to me the field is wide open for a dynamo.

And I learned a great lesson from Chlo: Why always look to the future when you’ve got a great thing going on right this minute? And why seek to be a world-famous operation? Why not simply enjoy yourself as you provide lemonade to the thirsty people standing right in front of you at the moment, and let the rest take care of itself?

Chlo’s dad says she’s talked for some time about a lemonade stand. And there she was, making her dream a reality. As we talked, she asked her mother if she could sell lemonade at that spot on Saturdays; together, they worked out a plan: Yes, she could sell lemonade on Saturdays so long as an adult was with her. And she could sit right there at the entrance to the hot shop where there’s a steady weekend traffic of thirsty glass blowers and passersby—Chlo nodded as if to say, Yep, this is definitely gonna work out.

 

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Sandy Gross and John Hutton in honeybee party attire
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Her other shoe is a flower
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JW May's honeybee...blown in glass. (And broken. Occupational hazard)

Poetry Sunday: So This Is Nebraska

So This is Nebraska

BY TED KOOSER

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.

On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
hide broken tractors under their skirts.

So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.

You feel like that; you feel like letting
your tires go flat, like letting the mice
build a nest in your muffler, like being
no more than a truck in the weeds,

clucking with chickens or sticky with honey
or holding a skinny old man in your lap
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like

waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave
instead and leave your hand out gliding
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.

Morning sunlight glistens on the scaffolding

We Are Awesome at Removing and Relocating Honeybees

It’s not often, Reader, that I write about our bee-removal jobs. Why, you ask? Because the bee removals involve homeowners, and I’m not very comfortable writing about people who never intended to end up on a public blog.

But I spend a good deal of time in the company of some cool people as we remove honeybees and beehives from structures, and I am never ever ever bored by it. Often I am unnerved, but I’m never bored. Anyway, in the event you’d forgotten what I do with much of my time, I’m sharing a few photos of yesterday’s job with you.

Yesterday’s job was cool—not because of the size of the hive but because of the height of the nest.

Kudos to Jerry Hof and Co Inc (Jerry performs the contracting on all these bee removals with me) for constructing such a high and stable scaffold, for exposing the nest, and then for repairing the structure, and to Nicola Mason (a brilliant artist, writer, editor, beekeeper and all-around adventurous woman) for scampering effortlessly up and down and up and down and up and down the 40 ft. scaffolding all morning and for removing all the comb from the hive.

Reader, if you’ve discovered honeybees in your house or in some other structure, if you live in the Greater Cincinnati area, and if you want a team that’s not only great at this stuff but also delights in the work and is fun to spend time with, contact me. Not only can we safely remove the live bees and comb and honey and relocate them to one of our beeyards, but we can put your place back together so no one will ever know we were there.

Morning sunlight glistens on the scaffolding

 

Don't look down

 

Three bees flying home
Beautiful comb containing pollen, brood, larvae, and bees

 

Liz, Nicola, and Jerry at work removing honeybees
The truck and the sunflowers

The White-Glove Kind of Garden-Club Women

Yesterday I learned that not all the women in the garden club are actually gardeners. And I learned that perhaps not everyone in the world will love Eli’s BBQ and the wildish community gardens behind it.

You see, I’ve lately been invited to give a few talks about bees. It’s inevitable that this should happen. And, as you know, Reader, I am trying my darndest to answer “yes” to the universe—which means that I’ve now accepted the invitations to speak.

To scout a suitable venue for an upcoming garden-club talk, I invited some of my garden-club friends to join me at Eli’s and then to see the bees at the community gardens. We were sort of testing it out for a larger crowd. And I had a very nice afternoon sharing a meal and some sunshine and a walk around the block with a few wonderful people with whom I’ve not previously shared much time.

But then I learned that some of the women in the club may not thoroughly enjoy the combination of Eli’s and the community gardens…which are sort of rough. You know, Eastern Avenue (now renamed Riverside Drive…as if that’s gonna stick. Not.) is a tad rough around the edges. Apparently some of these garden club memebers like to stay clean and above. You know what I mean when I say “above,” don’t you, Reader? Let’s just say that this is not a neighborhood with which they are familiar.

This blew my socks off. Seriously. I simply assumed the women with whom I’d be lunching and speaking and to whom I would be showing the bees would be adventurous and embracing. I thought they were the dig-in-the-garden type of garden-club women. Apparently they really really need to meet me. :)

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I'm not sure the garden-club women will love my truck
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My kind of garden-club women!
An Eagle Scout project in the making

Reintroducing Honeybees to California Woods Nature Preserve

Once you start a good thing in motion, it sort of takes off, doesn’t it? I’m thinking of Justin Dunham’s drive for Eagle Scout and his project to reintroduce honeybees to the California Woods Nature Preserve.

To my mind, Justin has shown a great deal of maturity as he’s corralled the resources and coordinated the various entities involved. You know, Reader, it’s not easy to work the red tape…particularly red tape involving state or county or city or other government systems. And especially particularly when coordinating government and private businesses…which is exactly what Justin’s doing in this Eagle Scout project.

Yesterday, Justin coordinated and chaired a meeting of Gia Giammarino, Manager of California Woods Nature Preserve (one of Cincinnati’s City Parks), Justin Dunham (future Eagle Scout and all-around successful person), Justin’s dad (the future beekeeper Jeff Dunham), and me (Queen Bee at TwoHoneys Bee Co). We all sat together at a picnic table in the shade of California Woods and planned the honeybee reintroduction. There’s a lot to consider…I won’t list all of the details of our discussions here…I’ll let Justin’s work simply unfold. But let me say that he’s getting it done. He’s keeping us on track.

Let me also simply say that soon Justin and his scout buddies will be clearing some trails and an overgrown bee yard. He will be making some room…you know these things don’t simply happen. Preparation is involved. And there are literal thorns to battle. And probably poison ivy. There are definitely mosquitos.

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Gia Giammarino and Justin Dunham discuss honeybees
Let it go

Miracles and Sky Lanterns

You know, Reader, I’m in beehives almost every day, but I forget to tell you about it. I forget to take pictures (which is not easy to do when my hands are covered in honey and bees and my phone/camera is in my back pocket and I’m alone). So I miss sharing delightful discoveries with you.

I also realize that all those pictures of bees and honeycomb and queens sort of run together…if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

So I might just start writing whatever is on my mind here:

  1. I’m in conversation with someone about placing bees in a very cool location. We have a few hurdles to face, but we have desire. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I would tell you more, but I’ve learned not to articulate my vision too concretely in public until the deal is sealed. It’s not that I don’t trust you, Reader…I think this strategy was ingrained into me as a child. Don’t say it until it’s done. It’s a hard thing for me to do.
  2. I heard last night that miracles occur naturally and frequently…in other words, miracles aren’t meant to be phenomenons. When they don’t occur, it’s probably because we won’t get out of the way and let them.
  3. Sky Lanterns
Let it go

 

Sky Lanterns Aloft
Sky Lanterns swinging in the night