Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Thursday, March 2, 2023

A Note on H.T. Webster

I grew up with a book of H. T. Webster's cartoons in the house — part of the family library. This comes to mind thanks to a 1923 work I have just seen reproduced on-line, which shows a cartoonist of the year 2023 with his cartoon-inventing machine beside him.

I still admire Webster's work greatly. Such cartoons as this one are trotted out, these days, as extraordinary for their time. Part of my effort in writing Toys in the Age of Wonder was to emphasize that rather than being extraordinary, such works as this one were typical for their time.

"Characteristic" might be a better word-choice, for what I tried to say. I used "typical" in my writing, though, as I recall.

To view such works as extraordinarily far-sighted may seem appropriate; and yet it is, in a way, condescending. The far-sightedness was part of the texture of the times. Webster was so good because he was so firmly expressive of his times.

Cheers . . .

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Submitted for Your Consideration

In our age of automated "personalization," it is, of course, a pleasant revealing of the truth of the situation, when one receives an e-mail rejecting a poem with this opening greeting:


Mr. Submitter Name, being duly impersonalized, has not sent the rejection back to the magazine as "not what he was looking for."

Such a reply would be a little too faux-automatic.

Cheers . .

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

An Impromptu for the Winter Solstice

A happy winter solstice! — to the splintered
airborne ice that flails the high plains, now.
In hours, its reach will touch us, teach us how
a storm must scourge and scour. Her mild ways countered,
crossed, and snow-cursed under — Autumn, wintered,
bids farewell; and chilling gusts endow
with speed her ghosting leaves. Let Night allow
the days their day, soon! What the storm has entered

is the door to our new Solar year —
a door now dark and closing. Understand
this: we must take this gift, without demand
for any blessings not our own. Storm-fear
besets us while a Hope, cold-winged and grand
in snowy splendor, knows her time is near.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

A Poem for Election Day, November 2022

Hope within me rises like a mist
above our winter chatter.

May it rain like ice
upon our enemies.

May this rising cloud
take on the being which our meeting minds

create: a child of love —
a love which knows that it must hate

unnecessary fire
in even winter time

when all our rising thoughts
may rain betimes like ice.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

An Ill-Meaning Verse for March 15, 2022

His horse's hooves from homeland soil disroot
what few pale blooms of truth remain.
Disputing Putin, Vlad the Invader, rides
with flaccid biceps flapping. Time decides
a tyrant's title; glory rides his brain —
a rigid organ, but still flapping pain
and blood for sweat. By orders, all impute
the lie to truths he tramples. Truths refute
by depth of root. But someone rooted hides
behind him, surely — thinking of March ides.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Winter Solstice, 2021

Times are when we feel warmed, saying goodbye.
Our Crow, on her cold branch, caws out, Hello!
Gray-overcast is this, our midday sky.

The rushing moments hesitate, then go
like dear-departeds, ushered down an aisle
where candles barely glow and shadows grow . . .

sent willingly, though sad, in single file.
Storm-scattered branches lay about, with leaves
hard-frozen in the grass. I wait, a while,

to hear what Crow may say. A whirl upheaves,
brings down. Or did, last year. Yet now when I
see sticks and leaves I ask what Crow believes

the darkened yet-to-be may bring our eye.
Hello! she cries. Hello! I cry. Goodbye!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

How Should One?

How should one observe the Wampanoag Day of Mourning?

I lacked this name for the day until a little ago.

I have felt the usual nonchalance about Thanksgiving. It arrives, then goes. Being far from other family, and lacking the community of friends that made it a memorable day in the calendar in the 1980s, in my Beloit years, Martha and I observe it as a harvest-fest feast day — in our relatively small-appetite way.

Yet what I have done so far today to observe Thanksgiving may mesh with thoughts of mourning the prior caretakers who lived on and with this land.

In my routine before breakfast — when at dawn I put out seeds for birds and a few peanuts for squirrels or, often, jays — I wedged hazelnuts, in their shells, into a maple tree's bark. I added sunflower seeds and dried currants to one birdfeeder's safflower seeds.

Not long before writing this I took a piece of corncob, with dry corn on it, to throw into the farthest-back yard, beyond our tiny woods — thinking of the crow, should one chance by. Smaller birds have been feasting all morning. They include house sparrows — our Eurasian, invading counterparts beneath the feeders.

From the basement steps I pulled a never-eaten but homegrown squash from a year ago‚ to toss into that little wood — in case any creature might still want the seeds within, sometime during the cold ahead.

For these must lie ahead: the cold, paired with a want for warmth within tiny bellies.

I think upon these things and wonder how one might turn our blighting Eurasian presence to a blessing — in a way different from and better than the way in which we nourished this invaded land with spilled blood before 1621 and in all these years since.

With autumnal cheers . . .