Archive for the 'poetry' Category

A PRIMER

April 3, 2013

I remember Michigan fondly as the place I go

to be in Michigan. The right hand of America

waving from maps or the left

pressing into clay a mold to take home

from kindergarten to Mother. I lived in Michigan

forty-three years. The state bird

is a chained factory gate. The state flower

is Lake Superior, which sounds egotistical

though it is merely cold and deep as truth.

A Midwesterner can use the word “truth,”

can sincerely use the word “sincere.”

In truth the Midwest is not mid or west.

When I go back to Michigan I drive through Ohio.

There is off I-75 in Ohio a mosque, so life

goes corn corn corn mosque, I wave at Islam,

which we’re not getting along with

on account of the Towers as I pass.

Then Ohio goes corn corn corn

billboard, goodbye, Islam. You never forget

how to be from Michigan when you’re from Michigan.

It’s like riding a bike of ice and fly fishing.

The Upper Peninsula is a spare state

in case Michigan goes flat. I live now

in Virginia, which has no backup plan

but is named the same as my mother,

I live in my mother again, which is creepy

but so is what the skin under my chin is doing,

suddenly there’s a pouch like marsupials

are needed. The state joy is spring.

“Osiris, we beseech thee, rise and give us baseball”

is how we might sound were we Egyptian in April,

when February hasn’t ended. February

is thirteen months long in Michigan.

We are a people who by February

want to kill the sky for being so gray

and angry at us. “What did we do?”

is the state motto. There’s a day in May

when we’re all tumblers, gymnastics

is everywhere, and daffodils are asked

by young men to be their wives. When a man elopes

with a daffodil, you know where he’s from.

In this way I have given you a primer.

Let us all be from somewhere.

Let us tell each other everything we can.

Bob Hicok

 

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A Time to Talk

July 13, 2010

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, “What is it?”
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe into the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

–          Robert Frost

This should also apply to cellphone calls and gchat messages, I think.

 

Then Winks

March 29, 2010

Everything is clapping today.

Light,
Sound,
Motion,
All movement.

A rabbit I pass pulls a cymbal
From a hidden pocket
Then winks.

This causes a few planets and I
To go nuts
And start grabbing each other.

Someone sees this,
Calls a
Shrink,

Tries to get me
Committed
For
Being too
Happy.

Listen: this world is the lunatic’s sphere,
Don’t always agree it’s real,

Even with my feet upon it
And the postman knowing my door

My address is somewhere else.

– Hafiz via Daniel Ladinsky

Hatcheck Girl

March 28, 2010

Why
Are there
So few in the court
Of a perfect
Saint?

Because
Every time you are near Him
You have to leave pieces
Of your
Ego

With
The hatcheck
Girl

Who won’t give them
Back–

O
O
O
U
C
H

– Haviz via Daniel Ladinsky

Even after all this time

March 27, 2010

Even
After
All this time
The sun never says to the earth,

“You owe
Me.”

Look
What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the
Whole
Sky.

– Hafiz (via Daniel Ladinsky)

I just fell in love with this poet last night when introduced to it by friends in a three person poetry slam (best night ever!)  Here’s an example of his beautiful punchy stuff.  However when I looked it up on the internet this morning I also found this link which suggests that the book it came from is less a translation and more an interpretation or even original work by Ladinsky.  I don’t mind that much because the poems are beautiful!

To A Robin in Lent

March 5, 2010

You were the first one back,
the first one back.

You clung to a bare black branch,
your habit to choose Sundays in March,
wind whirling around you,
sky grey as a shroud, and wet,
to sing to the flowers, not there yet.

You were not loud.
No, not at all.
But you knew what you were doing.

–  Elizabeth Spires

The Span Of Life

January 11, 2010

The old dog barks backwards without getting up.                                           I can remember when he was a pup.

– Robert Frost

January First

January 1, 2010

The year’s doors open
like those of language,
toward the unknown.
Last night you told me:
tomorrow
we shall have to think up signs,
sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan
on the double page
of day and paper.
Tomorrow, we shall have to invent,
once more,
the reality of the world

–          Elizabeth Bishop

After Christmas (From “For the Time Being”)

December 26, 2009

Well, so that is that.  Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes –
Some have got broken – and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school.  There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week –
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted – quite unsuccessfully –
To love all our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers.  Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.

W.H. Auden

Snowflakes

December 3, 2009

Not slowly wrought, nor treasured for their form
In heaven, but by the blind self of storm
Spun off, each driven individual
Perfected in the moment of his fall.

–  Howard Nemerov

This is one of my favorite poems.  I’ve been saving it for today – the first snowfall of the winter (that will stick).  It is so beautiful here today.

The Germ

November 7, 2009

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
I cannot help but wonder at
The oddness of his habitat.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

– Ogden Nash

 

A mighty creature is the germ,

Weathers

October 29, 2009

This is the weather the cuckoo likes,
And so do I;
When showers betumble the chestnut spikes,
And nestlings fly;
And the little brown nightingale bills his best,
And they sit outside at ‘The Traveller’s Rest,’
And maids come forth sprig-muslin drest,
And citizens dream of the south and west,
And so do I.

This is the weather the shepherd shuns,
And so do I;
When beeches drip in browns and duns,
And thresh and ply;
And hill-hid tides throb, throe on throe,
And meadow rivulets overflow,
And drops on gate bars hang in a row,
And rooks in families homeward go,
And so do I.

– Thomas Hardy

* This one is really best read aloud or recited.  Try it.  But go slow because it can be a tongue twister.  Its an excellent elocution exercise.

After Rain

August 3, 2009

See how our big world turns tiny and upside down
in raindrops on thorns of gorse: along the lane
to the small harbour the hedges are empty of leaves
and everything has a flayed, scrubbed look, antique
and about to be new, the brusque wind and flailing branches,
declaring change, a change in the weather
that must unsettle us, too, who persist inside its loops
and mazes, unable to see straight, unable to forecast
tomorrow or the day after, only able to remember
what happened: the air scenting to freshness,a sense
of calm coming down, of getting to the other side
of turbulence, of things being touched for once
to wholeness; that somehow nothing bad could happen.

Eamon Grennan

A Curse on Geographers

July 24, 2009

We want and earth to walk upon,
Not reasons to remain at home.
Shall we make journeys only to see
The same stars circling in the night?
Eat the same fish in foreign harbors?
Breathe the same air?  Sail across
These oceans only to discover
Our own island’s other shore?

Let the oceans spill their green from off
The edges of the earth, and let
The curving plain unbend itself
Behind the mountains.  Put wind back
Into the cheeks of demons, Voice
Pronounce your reasonable desire
And sing the round earth flat again!

Dana Gioia

On Certain Wits

July 19, 2009

When Moses in Horeb struck the rock,
And water came forth out of the rock,
Some of the people were annoyed with Moses
And said he should have used a fancier stick.

And when Elijah on Mount Carmel brought the rain,
Where the prophets of Baal could not bring rain,
Some of the people said that rituals of the prophets of Baal
Were aesthetically significant, while Elijah’s were very plain.

Howard Nemerov

Turtle

February 20, 2009

Who would be a turtle who could help it?
A barely mobile hard roll, a four-oared helmet,
She can ill afford the chances she must take
In rowing toward the grasses that she eats.
Her track is graceless, like dragging
A packing-case places, and almost any slope
Defeats her modest hopes. Even being practical,
She’s often stuck up to the axle on her way
To something edible. With everything optimal,
She skirts the ditch which would convert
Her shell into a serving dish. She lives
Below luck-level, never imagining some lottery
Will change her load of pottery to wings.
Her only levity is patience,
The sport of truly chastened things.
Kay Ryan
I think I’ve posted this before but its feeling particularly appropriate right now and I felt that a dose of Kay was what I needed at the moment.

Porphyro in Akron

November 11, 2008

O City, your axles need not the oil of song.
I will whisper words to myself
And put them in my pockets.
– Hart Crane
selection from Porphyro in Akron
This is only a part of the longer poem but it wasn’t, in this case, the overall sense of the poem dedicated to a booming rubber manufacturing town, that appealed to me, just the turn of phrase. These lines, I think, capture perfectly the introverts take on a busy scene.

The Suitor

October 10, 2008

We lie back to back. Curtains
lift and fall,
like the chest of someone sleeping.
Wind move the leaves of the box elder;
they show their light undersides,
turning all at once like a school of fish.
Suddenly I understand that I am happy.
For months this feeling has been coming closer, stopping
for short visits, like a timid suitor.
– Jane Kenyon

Should I be picking lottery numbers now?

August 14, 2008

Or maybe I just have good taste. In any case I’m pleased on a number of levels to announce to the world (read anyone who checks this blog and didn’t already know from other sources) that my favorite poet has just been made poet laureate. Kay Ryan who I discovered during my Biloxi-Bathroom-Poetry period was just announced as our new honoree. This illustrious and duty-less post was previously held by Robert Frost, among others. Needless to say I’m thrilled she’s getting the recognition. And also I’m pretty stoked that I found her on my own before she made it big so to speak. On the other hand I think there is little danger that the fame will go to her head and ruin her for good writing. But there … I’m still going to claim that I called it and do a little victory dance.

A Man Said to the Universe

January 20, 2008

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
“A sense of obligation.”

Stephen Crane
1899