Mary Oliver read Lucretius

She was well enough to read and walk.

What exactly did she read? Lucretius wrote a lot.

Maybe he wrote about frogs dancing and herons at funerals?

I’ve heard it said Mary danced, out by a pond in her garden in Ohio.

She was natural, a youngster gestated by Mother Nature. With frogs and herons for siblings.

Mary saw the Roman’s sword in the beak of the heron that washed in her shining water.

After reading her poem, I know all this. As if I’m a biographer, historian, anthropologist, archaeologist, drinking tea in Café Beva.

I hope her friends danced in black at her funeral, the way she did after reading Lucretius.


Note (1) In 54 BC, Cicero said: “The poems of Lucretius exhibit many flashes of genius, and yet show great mastership.”

Note (2) You’ll find “AFTER READING LUCRETIUS, I GO TO THE POND” in the slim collection “Blue Horse” (2014) by Mary Oliver RIP

Golf is worth it

Before the second round of the Masters began, I found these 18 holes:


  1. Gets you out of the house
  2. Let’s you escape housework
  3. Gets you away from family
  4. Unites your outer & inner world
  1. Experience humility, be humbled
  2. Accept adversity, disappointments as core
  3. Lose hubris
  4. Realise you need more practice to become more skillful
  5. Know you need lessons, and a good coach
  6. There are times to shut up
  7. Fresh air is good – whether it rains, shines or blows
  8. . You need balls to play
  9. . You can get the same result with different clubs
  10. . Nothing is certain – and nothing is to be taken for granted
  11. . There is wild life outside
  12. . You can play alone or in company
  13. . You will miss the hole, and you will have near misses
  14. . You have to keep moving forward, even if only to keep away from people coming up behind – or let others through

19th hole

19. You need time to celebrate & commiserate- and treat others to pints

Who are the best known people in the world?

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 12.14.17Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 12.16.59

“It’s obvious” proclaimed the man in the brown suit
“Jesus Christ”

“No so” declared the woman in black
“Mao Zedong”

“What about Hitler?”
said the teenager

“Christopher Columbus”
stammered the drunk

The cyclist interrupted
“Genghis Kahn”

“Leonardo da Vinci”
piped up the painter

“Surely Mahatma Gandi”
whispered the songwriter

“Don’t overlook Oprah Winfrey”
suggested the priest

“Rosa Parks”
cried the astronaut

“The Virgin Mary”
muttered the atheist

“Indira Gandi for sure”
insisted the scientist

“Shakespeare the great”
chipped in the politician

“Catherine the Greater”
quipped the taxi driver

“Don’t we all know Marco Polo?”
asked the hiker

“Empress Dowager Cixi”
shouted the grandmother

“Tiger Woods”
sang the umpire

“You’re ignoring Nelson Mandela”
challenged the chef

“Martin Luther King is a must”
scribbled the poet

“The Buddha begorra”
blurted the CEO.

At this moment the world ended.



Diary note No 17 – The Dragon

Once upon a time, there was a dragon in Cardiff that chewed shamrock for desert, and spat the roughage out.

He lived on daffodils for breakfast, and cultivated leaks in fields down the Gower.

He was deadly when it came to barbecuing white puddings from Kerry and rashers from Offaly.

When he was hungry, he masticated mouthfuls of minced Irish rugby players during the first half, and farted on substitutes throughout the second half.

He was a champion without doubt.

It never crossed his mind to mend his ways. He wasn’t afraid of Saint Patrick nor the snakes.

His nightcap was cawl, and he slept with a fresh leak under a pillow stuffed with goose feathers.

Evil spirits didn’t bother him.

Diary note No 16 – The loser

I came in last last night.

A loser, comprehensively vanquished, whitewashed, beaten, massacred.

In a phrase, I was thrashed.

Not just pipped at the post

Not just a photo-finish

Not nudged out by a nose.

I wasn’t even placed.

Everyone was better than me in the speech contest.

That’s the end of my effort to become World Champion (for another year).

Was I that bad? Yes.

Was the speech a nightmare? No.

The speech was fine.

A woman

came up to me with tears in her eyes.

Thank you for your wonderful speech. I was so moved by it. Like you said, all I’ve wanted all my life is to be listened to, to be heard. You put your finger on what matters most to me. Thank you ever so much. It was great.”

The speech was well worth delivering.

It meant a lot to at least two of us.

The speech was magnificent, despite my delivery – not because of how I delivered it.

The judges

found my speaking style poorer than every one of the other contestants.

They punctured my self-esteem.

My hubris.

Don’t you love it

when judges do that for you?

How considerate.

How thoughtful.

How generous.

What a gift.

I owe a debt of gratitude, don’t I?

Diary note No 15 – A Social Audio Book Club

What’s the point of joining a book club?

Wouldn’t you be better spending your time writing a book?

What’s the point of talking, when you could be reading?


I invented an idea that’s new to me.

I thought:

How about an audio book club?

“How about a social audio book club, on LIMOR, not WhatsApp?

  • The Rick O’Shea Bookclub is online.
  • There are lots of face-to-face book clubs.

In the whole of human history, there has never been a social audio book club.

If I was sovereign

If I was sovereign, a dictator, over the US of A, I’d make GREEN BOOK compulsory.

I’d compel every citizen to watch* Green Book on a big screen.

(I wouldn’t make this happen overnight)

The draft plan I’m considering is here:

  1. President & Cabinet obliged to watch the movie by 1 April 2019. Penalty for failure – disqualified from office for 100 days.
  2. Senators, Representatives & Supreme Court judges by 1 May 2019. Penalty for failure to comply – disqualification for 125 days
  3. Military generals, Governors & city Mayors by 1 June 2019. Penalty 150 days
  4. Candidates for all public offices (federal & local) by 1 June 2019 – penalty for failure to watch Green Book = disqualified from ballot until next election cycle
  5. All teachers (including kindergarten & higher education) by 1 July – penalty for failure = automatic unpaid leave from office for two months.
  6. All voters by 1 November 2019 – penalty for failure to be determined after Congressional hearing.
  7. All News editors by 1 October 2019. Penalty for failure to publish review of Green Book = Fine of $3,650 rising to $365,000.
  8. All law officers, prison staff & ministers of religion by 1 September 2019 – penalty for failure to conform under consideration.
  9. Exemptions: none, except patients in authorized comas.
  10. Green Book Film studio owners & CEOs – National Medal of Honor presented by President of USA by 1 May


* NB This sovereign dictator will exert no pressure on subjects to agree with

(1) the point of view of the director, or distributor of Green Book

(2) feelings & thoughts shown & expressed by any of the characters

(3) the dictator’s views

(4) anyone else’s values.

The requirement is to watch Green Book (and remain awake in the cinema).