“Dispatch from the Home Front: Halloween 2001” by Tony Brown

Halloween is a time filled with ghosts, goblins, scary stories, tricks and treats. While reading such tales and poems may be entertaining, Tony Brown’s poem, “Dispatch from the Home Front: Halloween 2001,” is especially poignant as the speaker journeys through many different scenes within each stanza.  Brown’s poem puts a twist on what would otherwise become a  traditional Halloween tale. Take a look at his poem below. Are you surprised by the ending?

Dispatch from the Home Front: Halloween 2001

like every other year I sit outside with a guitar
while kids roam in small packs
from lit door to lit door

the costumes tonight are not that frightening

angels and fairies and superheroes abound
a few bloodsuckers and ghouls
a sprinkling of skeletons
no terrorists

the adults pretend to be scared

jessie (the giraffe from across the street)
solemnly hands me M & Ms from her stash
when I put the Snickers in her pumpkin
“honey,” I tell her
“it’s not a trade – it‘s a gift”
and she solemnly takes them back

the young girl in the bathrobe and curlers
wearing the sign that says
says to me
“I want to hear you play your prettyful music”

I hand her candy
and I pick up my guitar
to play a song appropriate to the season
(a song by the Grateful Dead)
for this world’s recent ghosts

this world
where unimaginable ashes
sift down on children’s beds

in one part of this world
the very rocks and baseballs
smell of abrasives, jet fuel, burning rubber, corpses

in another part of this world
they are making the mail glow white
long enough to kill what lives on the words

in another part of this world
this guitar would be

in that country a shrouded woman
has been carefully picking food from a minefield
(food that was airdropped in my name)

she runs and lifts her child from the ground
raising his head high up onto her shoulder
vainly trying to keep the frightening blood from spilling too much

it will take her years to fall asleep again

when she does fall asleep
she will dream of picking up a yellow bomblet
wrapping it in swaddling clothes
suckling it until it blooms hot and bright

but she will not cry
as she holds him in that dream

we all dream that dream these days
we all hold our children closer
while holding back tears

a dream like that
is not a gift
it is a trade
we have all already given
more than enough in return for this one
and you do not let go of your tears
when tears are all you have left

Halloween night
I am pushing aside the veil between the worlds
a mourning person waiting for dawn
pretending to be scared to cover real fear
while I give sweets and prettyful music
to my neighbors’children

we are all a long way from home

if I knew the way
I would take you home

Today in Hillwood!

Today, in the Hillwood lobby, come get FREE books and bookmarks, and you can do some fun activities!

During common hour, you can choose a FREE book from our lending library, get a bookmark for your new book, and get to partake in the writing fun. There will be tables set up for everyone to write a post-it secret, a picture poem, and/or a line in our add-a-line story!

We hope to see everyone there!




National Day on Writing Event

Tomorrow, during common hour, FREE bookmarks, books, and fun activities will be waiting for you in Hillwood!

Stop by the Hillwood lobby at 12:30 to choose a new bookmark and a new book, and while you’re there you can write a picture poem, add a line to an on-going story, write a a post-it secret and more!

We hope to see you there!


There, Their, They’re


Have you ever noticed how some words sound really similar, but mean different things? This can sometimes present a challenge while writing papers for class. From affect to effect, hear to here, your or you’re, there are so many nuances to remember! Vocabulary.com is a great teaching tool that shows the differences between some of these tricky words. They provide brief explanations and anecdotes that are sure to help you remember the difference between there, their, and they’re the next time you write a paper!

Check them out and see what you think!

“Children Walk on Chairs to Cross a Flooded Schoolyard” by: Patrick Rosal

For those of you who are fascinated by archiving, such as collecting old photos, you are sure to enjoy reading “Children Walk on Chairs to Cross a Flooded Schoolyard” by Patrick Rosal.

Anyone who is still interested in writing their own poem reflecting on a picture from their past can send them to post-wc@liu.edu. Our earlier blog post, “Honoring American Archives Month” will provide you with the necessary details.

We look forward to reading your submissions, and hope that Rosal’s poem sparks your creativity!

Children Walk on Chairs to Cross a Flooded Schoolyard
by: Patrick Rosal
Taytay, Rizal Province, Philippines
(based on the photo by Noel Celis)

Hardly anything holds the children up, each poised
mid-air, barely the ball of one small foot
kissing the chair’s wood, so
they don’t just step across, but pause
above the water. I look at that cotton mangle
of a sky, post-typhoon, and presume
it’s holding something back. In this country,
it’s the season of greedy gods
and the several hundred cathedrals
worth of water they spill onto little tropic villages
like this one, where a girl is likely to know
the name of the man who built
every chair in her school by hand,
six of which are now arranged
into a makeshift bridge so that she and her mates
can cross their flooded schoolyard.
Boys in royal blue shorts and red rain boots,
the girls brown and bare-toed
in starch white shirts and pleated skirts.
They hover like bells that can choose
to withhold their one clear, true
bronze note, until all this nonsense
of wind and drizzle dies down.
One boy even reaches forward
into the dark sudden pool below
toward someone we can’t see, and
at the same time, without looking, seems
to offer the tips of his fingers back to the smaller girl 
behind him. I want the children
ferried quickly across so they can get back
to slapping one another on the neck
and cheating each other at checkers.
I’ve said time and time again I don’t believe
in mystery, and then I’m reminded what it’s like
to be in America, to kneel beside
a six-year-old, to slide my left hand
beneath his back and my right under his knees, 
and then carry him up a long flight of stairs
to his bed. I can feel the fine bones,
the little ridges of the spine
with my palm, the tiny smooth stone
of the elbow. I remember I’ve lifted
a sleeping body so slight I thought
the whole catastrophic world could fall away.
I forget how disaster works, how it can turn
a child back into glistening butterfish
or finches. And then they’ll just do
what they do, which is teach the rest of us
how to move with such natural gravity.
Look at these two girls, center frame,
who hold out their arms
as if they’re finally remembering
they were made for other altitudes.
I love them for the peculiar joy
of returning to earth. Not an ounce
of impatience. This simple thrill
of touching ground. 


“War Photograph”: By Kate Daniels

To continue in the celebration of American Archives Month, here is a moving poem written by Kate Daniels about a young girl, thrust into the chaos of war.

Also, remember to send you poems to post-wc@liu.edu for a chance at being featured on our blog. For details, see our last blog post: “Honoring American Archives Month” and send us your poem.

War Photograph
by: Kate Daniels

A naked child is running 
along the path toward us, 
her arms stretched out, 
her mouth open, 
the world turned to trash 
behind her.

She is running from the smoke 
and the soldiers, from the bodies 
of her mother and little sister 
thrown down into a ditch, 
from the blown-up bamboo hut 
from the melted pots and pans. 
And she is also running from the gods 
who have changed the sky to fire 
and puddled the earth with skin and blood. 
She is running--my god--to us, 
10,000 miles away, 
reading the caption 
beneath her picture 
in a weekly magazine. 
All over the country 
we’re feeling sorry for her 
and being appalled at the war 
being fought in the other world. 
She keeps on running, you know,
after the shutter of the camera 
clicks. She’s running to us. 
For how can she know, 
her feet beating a path 
on another continent? 
How can she know
what we really are? 
From the distance, we look 
so terribly human.

Honoring American Archives Month

Collecting photos or historical objects is a wonderful way to look into the past. As a part of the celebration of American Archives Month, the Writing Center invites you to write a poem reflecting on a photo from your or your families history, engaging the reader in a story that goes beyond the still image. Once you have written your poem, e-mail them to the Writing Center at post-wc@liu.edu, where it will have the chance of being posted on our blog! Be sure to include your name, year, and major in the e-mail. We are excited to read your poems and cannot wait to post them for others to see!

If you need a little help getting started, take a look at Gabeba Baderoon’s poem below!

Old Photographs

On my desk is a photograph of you
taken by the woman who loved you then.

In some photos her shadow falls
in the foreground. In this one,
her body is not that far from yours.

Did you hold your head that way
because she loved it?

She is not invisible, not
my enemy,
nor even the past.
I think I love the things she loved.

Of all your old photographs,
I wanted this one for its becoming. I think
you were starting
to turn your head a little,
your eyes looking slightly to the side.

Was this the beginning of leaving?

Upcoming Events for the Poetry Center

Do you love poetry? If so, the Poetry Center has several exciting events coming up within the next few weeks. They have a wide variety of things planned that are sure to please anyone. Even if you don’t read or write poetry, these events are likely to peak your interest and help you learn how poetry can relate to many aspects of day to day life. Be sure to check out at least one of these events, and bring a friend too!

Wednesday, October 5  Michela Musolino, “Sicilian Dance in Cultural Context”
12:30PM – 1:45PM  Sicilian folk singer and actress will present an interactive program teaching a Sicilian dance based on a folk song. The relationship between poetry and dance is extremely important in the Sicilian cultural heritage. Let’s kick off our season with song and dance.
Pratt Multipurpose room

Wednesday, October 26  Tom Rock, “Writing About Baseball”
12:30PM – 1:45PM Honors alumnus Tom Rock started writing about sports for the Pioneer. Now a sports writer for Newsday with a particular passion for baseball, he will be reading from his first novel, Game Seven and will be pleased to answer questions about baseball and about a career in journalism. He will be joined by his wife, Amanda, also an LIU Honors graduate and journalist.
Winnick House, Great Hall

Monday, November 1  Steven Sher, “Poetry and Fiction”
12:30PM – 1:45PM Poetry reading and writing workshop
Brooklyn-born poet Steven Sher lives in Israel. He is in New York on a reading tour and we are pleased to have offer both a writing workshop and a reading from his poetry and short stories. He is the author of many books and has been a teacher of creative writing, always glad to help students find their own voices.
Winnick House, Great Hall
Tuesday, November 29 Naznin Rahman and Hassanal Abdullah
12:30PM – 1:45PM This program presents two Banglaseshi poets, husband and wife, whose work reflects major current issues including women’s rights and civil rights in the context of Bengali culture. Hassanal Abdullah is the authors of many books of poetry, including an epic poem and collection of unique sonnets in an original form his his invention. A teacher of mathematics, he brings cosmic issues to light in his work. Naznin Rahman is a feminist, author and radio presence whose first book of poems was published by The Feral Press.
Patron’s Lounge, Tilles Center

Something Borrowed: Novel vs. Film

If you caught the book review that precedes this, you already know my feelings on the Emily Giffin’s novel, Something Borrowed. If you happened to have missed my book review, “Book Review: Something Borrowed, this wonderful novel follows the life of protagonist, Rachel White as she tries to find what is missing in her life; at the novel’s start, she is a practicing lawyer, she has her close friends Darcy and Hillary, and she seemingly has her life sorted out, but it all changes once she turns 30. When Rachel turns 30, she realizes there is one thing she is missing and his name is Dex, also known as Darcy’s fiancé. Rachel’s life turns outside down–the good girl she was becomes just as memory as she begins an affair with Dex. This radical move blows everything up, but it also, in the end, changes her life in a positive way.

The novel and the movie share some typical similarities that one would see in a film adaptation. The characters essential to the story remain present as the core focus of the movie. Ginnifer Goodwin is Rachel, Kate Hudson is Darcy, and Colin Egglesfield is Dex. There is no question that these actors played their roles well. But, Hollywood cut one character, Hillary. Hillary is Rachel’s confidant as well as the moral compass in the novel as Rachel navigates the uncharted territory she finds herself in. Instead of removing the character, the movie people combined Hillary with the character, Ethan. In the novel, we only see Ethan in a few, brief instances before moving front in center in Giffin’s sequel, Something Blue. However,

Ethan’s role in the film is major, anyone who has seen the film can attest to that; fans of John Krasinski definitely know this role is huge as he makes us laugh and swoon as the lovable Ethan. Ethan becomes the voice of reason needed to push Rachel. He also brings the comic relief in what could be a very stirring movie–adultery does not tend to sit well with people. He is arguably my favorite part of the movie. I sit back and watch it for him 99% of the time.

I have to say, despite the adultery, I love this movie. I originally saw this before reading the book and I fell in love with both of them. Emily Giffin’s novel is witty and wonderful as is the movie the novel is based on. The emotional aspect to both is captured well and you feel what the characters feel. If you’re looking for a movie to watch or a book to read, check out Something Borrowed!

Written by Gabbi Battiloro