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Archive for the category “Poetry”

celebrating waking up

breathing (2)


the worm’s waking

Rumi

this is how a human being can change:

there’s a worm addicted to eating
grape leaves.

Suddenly, he wakes up,
call it grace, whatever, something
wakes him, and he’s no longer
a worm.

He’s the entire vineyard,
and the orchard too, the fruit, the trunks,
a growing wisdom and joy
that doesn’t need
to devour.


throw yourself like seed

Miguel de Unamuno

Shake off this sadness, and recover your spirit;
Sluggish you will never see the wheel of fate
That brushes your heel as it turns going by.
The man who wants to live is the man in whom life is abundant.

Now you are only giving food to that final pain
Which is slowly winding you in the nets of death,
But to live is to work, and the only thing which lasts
Is the work; start there, turn to the work.

Throw yourself like seed as you walk, and into your own field,
Don’t turn your face for that would be to turn it to death,
And do not let the past weigh down your motion.

Leave what’s alive in the furrow, what’s dead in yourself,
For life does not move in the same way as a group of clouds;
From your work you will be able one day to gather yourself.


95

e.e. cummings

if up’s a word; and a world grows greener
minute by second and most by more–
if death is the loser and life is the winner
(and beggars are rich but misers are poor)
–let’s touch the sky:
with a to and a fro
(and a here there where)and away we go.

in even the laziest creature among us
a wisdom no knowledge can kill is astir–
now dull eyes are keen and now keen eyes are keener
(for young is the year,for young is the year)
–let’s touch the sky:
with a great(and a gay
and a steep)deep rush through amazing day

it’s brains without hearts have set saint against sinner;
put again over gladness and joy under care–
let’s do as an earth which can never do wrong does
(minute by second and most by more)
–let’s touch the sky:
with a strange(and a true)
and a climbing fall into far near blue

if beggars are rich(and a robin will sing his
robin a song)but misers are poor–
let’s love until noone could quite be(and young is
the year,dear)as living as i’m and as you’re
–let’s touch the sky:
with a you and a me
and an every(who’s any who’s some)one who’s we


This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

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celebrating the music of poetry

music of poetryIt’s still April; still National Poetry Month.

Poetry and music often come together in unexpected ways. Poet Dorothea Lasky said:

The music of poetry is a delight for the mind.

When it’s read out loud—or set to music and sung—it’s can also be a great delight to the ear.

i carry your heart with me

Poem by e.e. cummings/performed by Michael Hedges (with David Crosby and Graham Nash singing harmony) from the album Taproot. Cummings is my favorite poet and Hedges is a wonderful musician.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

the song of wandering Aengus

Poem by William Butler Yeats/performed by The Waterboys from the 2011 album An Appointment with Mr. Yeats. A surprising find. According to Mike Scott’s track guide, “This lyric conjures in my mind’s eye a moonlit wood on a hallucinatory night in some old Celtic dream time, and the bard Aengus, silver-bearded, wandering out on his quest. This music is the soundtrack to that vision.” Flute solo by Sarah Allen.
.

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

adventures of Isabel

Poem by Ogden Nash/performed by Natalie Merchant from the album Leave Your Sleep. I love the energy, the arrangement, the words, Merchant’s voice…everything! It’s my favorite tune on the album.

Isabel met an enormous bear

Isabel, Isabel, she didn’t care
bear was hungry, bear was ravenous
bear’s big mouth was cruel and cavernous
bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you
How do, Isabel, now I’ll eat you
Isabel, Isabel, she didn’t worry
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry
Washed her hands straightened her hair up
Then Isabel ate the bear up

Once in a night black as pitch
Isabel met a wicked old witch
witch’s face was cross and wrinkled
witch’s gums with teeth were sprinkled
Ho, ho, Isabel! old witch crowed
I’ll turn you into an ugly toad
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry
showed no rage, showed no rancor
turned the witch into milk and drank her
Oh yeah,

Isabel!!!

Isabel met a hideous giant
Isabel so self reliant
giant was hairy, giant horrid
One eye in the middle of his forehead
morning, Isabel, giant said
I’ll grind your bones and make my bread
Isabel, Isabel, she didn’t worry
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry
nibbled on his zwieback that she fed off
When it was gone, she cut the giant’s head off

Isabel!!!

Isabel met a troublesome doctor
punched and poked till he really shocked her
doctor’s talk was of coughs and chills
doctor’s satchel bulged with pills
doctor said wow Isabel
Swallow this, it will make you well
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry

Took those pills from the pill concocter
Then Isabel cured the doctor, yeah, oh yeah

ozymandias

And now for something completely different.

Poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley/performed by JJ Burnel (bass guitarist for the English group, the Stranglers) on the “b” side of his single, “Freddie Laker.” (Lyrics included in the video.) I confess to having once stolen a book from the public library–and it was the collected works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. I memorized this poem. I was in high school, but still, what was I thinking? What I’m thinking now is that this is actually pretty cool.

celebrating bright things redux

sparkleThe world is full of poetry.
The air is living with its spirit;
and the waves dance
to the music of its melodies,
and sparkle in its brightness.

–James Gates Percival

One cold, dark winter afternoon when the temperature never rose above freezing all day and I felt trapped inside my office in front of my computer, I looked around the room at all the bright things I’ve put here.

I won’t go so far as to say say my world is full of poetry right now, but there’s a hint of its brightness here and there.

Butterfly

Butterfly

Lizards

Lizards

Suncatcher

Suncatcher

Tiger

Tiger

Mandala

Mandala

Vase (underwater upside down)

Vase (underwater upside down)

Reality (ala Brian Andreas)

Reality (ala Brian Andreas)

Good Advice!

Good Advice!

A bit of brightness landed on that one. Happy Saturday!


Note: This was originally published in January 2013. If anything, my office (a/k/a my playroom, at least on a good day) is filled with even more bright things.


This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

to celebrate the waking, wake

Muriel RukeyserIt’s National Poetry Month!

To celebrate, here is a poem by Muriel Rukeyser.

She’s the author of my all-time favorite quote: The world is made of stories, not of atoms.

Song

Make and be eaten, the poet says,
Lie in the arms of nightlong fire,
To celebrate the waking, wake.
Burn in the daylong light; and praise
Even the mother unappeased,
Even the fathers of desire.

Blind go the days, but joy will see
Agreements of music; they will wind
The shaking of your dance; no more
Will the ambiguous arm-waves spell
Confusion of the blessing given.

Only and finally declare
Among the purest shapes of grace
The waking of the face of fire,
The body of waking and the skill
To make your body such a shape
That all the eyes of hope shall stare.

That all the cries of fear shall know,
Staring in their bird-pierced song;
Lines of such penetration make
That shall bind our loves at last.
Then from the mountains of the lost,
All the fantasies shall wake,
Strong and real and speaking turn
Wherever flickers your unreal.

And my strong ghosts shall fade and pass
My love start fiery as grass
Wherever burn my fantasies,
Wherever burn my fantasies.

I’ve written (very little) and written about poetry fairly often on this blog, which is named after some lines in an e.e. cummings poem. You can check the posts by clicking the Poetry category link.

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

the silence of himself sang like a bird

As I was leaving Michigan thirty-nine years and one month ago, I gave myself the gift of a book: Complete Poems, 1913-1962, E. E. Cummings.

It was totally impractical. I boarded the plane to begin again in San Francisco with only two suitcases, but one of them contained the 866-page hardcover book of poetry.

Very few things from that time in my life are still in my possession. So it’s safe to say this book with the yellow pages, numerous scrap paper bookmarks (one with the words “grass” and “picnic,” another with directions to someplace in Marin County, and a third with a woman’s name in red crayon, a phone number, and “day after Easter”), the torn cover, and multicolored Post-it flags has stood the test of time.

One of the poems in that book even generated the name for this blog. And this is it:

one winter afternoon

(at the magical hour
when is becomes if)

a bespangled clown
standing on eighth street
handed me a flower.

Nobody,it’s safe
to say,observed him but

myself;and why?because

without any doubt he was
whatever(first and last)

mostpeople fear most:
a mystery for which i’ve
no word except alive

—that is,completely alert
and miraculously whole;

with not merely a mind and a heart

but unquestionably a soul-
by no means funereally hilarious

(or otherwise democratic)
but essentially poetic
or ethereally serious:

a fine not a coarse clown
(no mob, but a person)

and while never saying a word

who was anything but dumb;
since the silence of him

self sang like a bird.
Most people have been heard
screaming for international

measures that render hell rational
—i thank heaven somebody’s crazy

enough to give me a daisy

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nightlight

Moth
drawn to the light
the nightlight

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Watch…
I am drawing light
and growing;

Drawing butterfly pictures,
spectral ink blot samples
of a state of mind,
a moment in time,
a momentary rhyme,
a sign;

Tracing the sunlight
on paper
or determining the nature
of myself
of yourself,
and the world
of light flowing,
water growing,
earth shining

On this space
between places
we have found
to live in for a while.

a poem a day, that’s all we ask

logo-napowrimoIf you are a poet, maybe you’re already participating in NaPoWriMo—National Poetry Writing Month—an offshoot of National Novel Writing Month now in its 11th year.

If you don’t know about NaPoWriMo, the intention is for people to commit to writing a poem a day for the 30 days of April. Yes, we’re two-thirds of the way through April already; nevertheless, the site has much to offer for poets and appreciators of poetry.

There’s a fresh new prompt each day for poets. And both poets and poetry readers can find links to the websites of hundreds of poetic participants—a treasure trove that is definitely worth checking out!

With the links to those sites, participants can see what other people are doing with the same prompts (the prompts being optional, of course). That’s a very cool aspect of NaPoWriMo. Thanks to Maureen Thorson for getting this great project off the ground in 2003 and making a difference by keeping it going each year.

this is what the whole thing is about

National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry month, two poems from a poet I just discovered, alas long after his death. William Stafford was born in 1914 and died in 1993.

He was born in Kansas and received a B.A. from the University of Kansas in 1937. A pacifist, he declared himself a conscientious objector and did forestry and soil conservation work during World War II. His first major collection of poetry, Traveling Through the Dark, wasn’t published until he was 48. It won the National Book Award for Poetry in 1963.

when I met my muse

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off–they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. “I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

~~~

just thinking

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.

No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere.

Been on probation most of my life. And
the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments
count for a lot–peace, you know.

Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
stirring, no plans. Just being there.

This is what the whole thing is about.

~~~

From poemhunter.com:

Stafford’s poems are often deceptively simple. Like Robert Frost’s, however, they reveal a distinctive and complex vision upon closer examination. Among his best-known books are The Rescued Year (1966), Stories That Could Be True: New and Collected Poems (1977), Writing the Australian Crawl: Views on the Writer’s Vocation (1978), and An Oregon Message (1987).

Julie

JulieJulie, the youngest of Jim’s girls, was everyone’s pet, easygoing and funny. She was also the girl of many nicknames: Jules to most, Goldie to her dad, and later Wobbles, after one of her sisters teased her about not being able to walk straight. Julie thought that was about the most hilarious word she’d ever heard. When she wrote it down she spelled it W-A-B-L-S, which is exactly how I spelled it—capital letters and all—when I embroidered it in multi-colored floss on a white sweatshirt she wore with pride.

From the time she was a baby, her older sisters and a housekeeper were her primary maternal figures. Somehow she came out perfect, a sunny, energetic child with a great sense of humor who brightened up the room for everyone in it.

night after Julie

Moving in a dream…
I…
Tripping
Through the steamy night…
Blue-gray mystic…
Soft rain dust…
Floating…
Turning inside out…
Touching air
And water
And blonde
And blue-grey child
Touching…
Me.

Julie

Julie2

Julie was a spunky child with love and affection to spare. She seems to have been born equipped to roll with the punches, to take it all in stride. I hope she’s still all that.

Lainie

Lainie3Lainie, the middle of the three girls, was quieter than the other two, both perceptive and enigmatic–and with an air of self-sufficiency. When she spent time with me, I never had to make any special arrangements or go out of my way to entertain her. She liked hanging out with me and was more than content to tag along when I went to the dry cleaner or picked up a few groceries.

Sometimes the two of us spent an entire evening sitting in separate chairs, reading our separate books, barely talking to each other but always connected.  What she wanted was the experience of normal, everyday life with me in it. Nothing special. A few times she called me “Mom,” in a small, hopeful whisper that nearly broke my heart.

whose child?

I have names for you
and metaphors.

Mermaid.
Lily Maid of Astolot.
Elaine.

I look at you and wonder:
How’d the wheat get in your hair?
and the river in your eyes?
Wildflower,
What contents you
to be domesticated so?
Now ballerina
and assistant cook.
Do you include in these
mysterious ingredients:
ritual dances and magic herbs,
delicate sorcery
to cast your spells?

Fairy Princess,
in exile from your majesty,
You look at me
and only want to call me “Mother.”

It’s so simple.
Why is it so impossible to be.

Lainie1

Lainie2

This giggling girl was wise beyond her young years. Wherever she is, I hope she’s happy and has someone who makes her laugh.

P.S.: She really did own more than one shirt, although for some reason she’s wearing the same one in most of the photos I took of her.

Next time: Julie

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