*The Radiation Waiting Room*
They bring us to this pastel room,
point to the lockers,
point to the dressing rooms.
It could almost be a gym,
only there’s a wheelchair, there’s Health News,
there’s a complicated flower jigsaw puzzle,
there are romance novels to borrow
in case you will be returning often.
We change into gowns that tie in the back;
some of us get to keep on our shirts,
some our pants;
we all wear shoes.
Those of us who have come so often
take care of the new ones,
offer answers, directions, suggestions.
Only we are careful not to say
how long we’ve been coming
or what we have or
what they’ve done
or are about to do.
"The Radiation Waiting Room" by Susan Herron Sibbet from *Great Blue*. ©
Sixteen Rivers Press, 2016. Reprinted with permission. (buy now
*The first Oktoberfest
had its origins in Munich on this date in 1810*. The occasion was a royal
wedding: Ludwig, Crown Prince of Bavaria, was marrying Princess Therese of
Saxony-Hildburghausen, and the royal couple wanted to invite all of Munich
to their wedding reception. They threw a parade and a huge party in the
field outside the city gates, culminating in a horse race. The citizens of
Munich had such a good time that they decided to repeat the horse races at
the same time the following year.
On the first anniversary of the royal wedding, the organizers added an
agricultural show, to bring attention to the Bavarian farming industry. The
horse races are no longer held these days, but the agricultural show
remains a big part of Oktoberfest in Bavaria. Over the years, attractions
have been added to the celebration: in 1818, organizers brought in a
carousel and a couple of swings. They also set up a few modest beer stands.
By the end of the century, the little stands had been replaced by huge beer
tents and halls, sponsored by German breweries, and the carousel had grown
into a full-fledged fair. In 1885, the beer tents were lit with electric
lights for the first time.
The Oktoberfest was canceled on a few notable occasions during the 19th
century - usually because of war or cholera. In 1933, the swastika replaced
the flag of Bavaria, and the festival was canceled for the duration of
World War II. And in 1980, a bomb planted in a trash can by a right-wing
extremist killed 13 people and wounded more than 200.
Today, the Bavarian Oktoberfest is the largest festival in the world. It
draws some 6 million thirsty visitors, who quaff more than a million
gallons of beer. Contrary to its name, the celebration begins on the third
weekend in September, and runs through the first Sunday in October.
*On this day in 539 BCE, Cyrus the Great
led his Persian Army into Babylon and defeated the Babylonians*, declaring
himself ruler of a region that today includes Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and
Israel. Cyrus was a master military strategist and crafted a careful plan
during the Battle of Opis: he and his men diverted the Euphrates River into
a canal, which lowered the water-level to the height of their thighs. This
allowed them to march directly through the riverbed under cover of night,
surprising the Babylonian army. The history of the battle was recorded on
clay tablets known as the Nabonidus Chronicle, though scholars differ on
how brutal or peaceful the attack actually was.
*On this day in 1823, Scottish chemist Charles Macintosh sold the first
Macintosh had been trying to find uses for the waste products of gasworks
when he discovered that a substance called coal-tar naphtha dissolved India
rubber - basically, bonding melted rubber to wool, which created a
waterproof fabric. The first raincoats smelled bad, stiffened in cold
weather, and gummed up in hot weather, but farmers, fishermen, and firemen
loved them. They became so beloved in Great Britain that when referring to
a raincoat, people simply asked for a "Mac" or a "Mack." Mackintosh
raincoats are still made today.
*It's the birthday* of American poet and translator *Robert Fitzgerald
(1910) (books by this author
born Robert Stuart Fitzgerald in Springfield, Illinois. He's best known for
his English translations of Homer's *The Odyssey *(1961) and *The Iliad*
(1974), which are still held as the standard works for scholars and
Fitzgerald went to Harvard University and read T.S. Eliot's *The Waste Land*,
which he said changed his life. Later, he met Eliot in London and worked up
the courage to give him one of his poems. Eliot studied the poem for
several minutes and then looked up and said, "Is this the best you can do?"
After graduation (1933), he kicked around as a reporter for the* New York
Herald Tribune, *worked for *Time Magazine, *and began publishing his own
collections of poetry, including *Poems* (1935) and *A Wreath for the
During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy in Guam and Pearl Harbor.
The books in his footlocker included the works of Virgil and a Latin
dictionary. He had no formal training in translation, but when he had free
time, he would practice translating the Virgil in a little notebook, line
After the war, Fitzgerald was living in Connecticut, teaching, and
wondering what he could do to supplement his income with a growing family.
He realized that in Europe, the cost of living and domestic help were much
cheaper than in America, so he convinced an editor to give him $3000.00 for
five years to translate Homer's epic *The Odyssey*. He also won a
Guggenheim. He spent the next decade living frugally in Italy with his
family. They had no telephone, no refrigerator, and no car. He spent every
day writing out the Greek in a ledger-type notebook, with each line of
Greek followed by two blank lines, which he would use for his translation.
He kept a dictionary on hand.
On translating poetry from one language to another, Robert Fitzgerald said,
"I think that one poet is lending himself to the other poet, that the
obligation is to the other poet, and that one is taking on for the time
being the spirit and impulse and intent of the other poet, and so the wish
is to make all that clear in one's own language rather than express
oneself, so to speak."
*Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®*
Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a
Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for
Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse.
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