Sunday, April 30, 2017

poem for peace, last day of poetry month

Pray for Peace by Ellen Bass, in her book The Human Line

Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekhina, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.
Then pray to the bus driver who takes you to work.
On the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus,
for everyone riding buses all over the world.
Drop some silver and pray.
Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.
To Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, pray.
Bow down to terriers and shepherds and Siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.
Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.
Making love, of course, is already prayer.
Skin, and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile cases we are poured into.
If you’re hungry, pray. If you’re tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.
When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else’s legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer as the earth revolves:
less harm, less harm, less harm.
And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas–
With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.
Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.
Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Scoop your holy water
from the gutter. Gnaw your crust.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.

to overcome the Dragon in me

Lend me your Sword
That I may be armed
To overcome the Dragon in me.
Fill me with your Strength
That I may vanquish
The Spirits that want to lame me.
Work in me in such a way
That Light may stream
To mine I and I may thus be led
To actions that are worthy of you.
Rudolf Steiner

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Humanity I love You by e.e.cummings

Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both
parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard
Humanity i love you because
when you’re hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a drink and when
you’re flush pride keeps
you from the pawn shop and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially in your own house
Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it’s there and sitting down
on it
and because you are
forever making poems in the lap
of death Humanity
i hate you

Monday, April 24, 2017

I've been loving and loving and loving

a poem by Sir Paul McCartney

Yesterday it was my birthday,
I hung one more year on the line.
I should be depressed, my life is a mess,
But I'm having a good time.

I've been loving and loving and loving,
I'm exhausted from loving so well.
I should go to bed, but a voice in my head
Says, what the hell!

It was not my birthday yesterday. Mine is in August!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

today is Shakepeare's b-day so here's one of his love sonnets

Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

I've never experienced such love but my hope that I might is alive, fading but alive. It seems right that I have heart failure for I have failed to be loving. All those I have most loved have shunned me.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

what can I hold you with?

What can I hold you with?
I offer you lean streets, desperate sunsets, the moon of ragged suburbs.
I offer you the bitterness of a man who has looked long and long at the lonely moon.
I offer you my ancestors, my dead men, the ghosts that living men have honoured in marble: my fathers father killed in the frontier of Buenos Aires, two bullets through his lungs, bearded and dead, wrapped by his soldiers in the hide of a cow; my mothers grandfather just twenty four- heading a charged of three hundred men in Peru, now ghosts on vanished horses.
I offer you whatever insight my books may hold, whatever manliness or humour my life.
I offer you the loyalty of a man who has never been loyal.
I offer you that kernel of myself that I have saved, somehow the central heart that deals not in words, traffics not with dreams and is untouched by time, by joy, by adversities.
I offer you the memory of yellow rose seen at sunset, years before you were born.
I offer you explanations of yourself, theories about yourself, authentic and surprising news of yourself.
I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the hunger of my heart; I am trying to bribe you with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat.
Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, April 21, 2017

what have you done to the world

Carol Ann Duffy – The Bees
This collection is well worth buying. I am choosing not a Christmas poem as such, but a lovely clever sad poem about the moon – well, by the moon, almost.
Darlings, I write to you from the moon
where I hide behind famous light.
How could you ever think it was a man up here?
A cow jumped over. The dish ran away with the spoon.
What reached me were your joys, griefs,
here’s-the-craic, losses, longings, your lives
brief, mine long, a talented loneliness. I must have
a thousand names for the earth, my blue vocation.
Round I go, the moon a diet of light, sliver of pear,
wedge of lemon, slice of melon, half an orange,
silver onion; your human sound falling through space,
childbirth’s song, the lover’s song, the song of death.
Devoted as words to things, I gaze, gawp, glare; deserts
were forests were, sick seas. When night comes,
I see you gaping back as though you hear my Darlings,
what have you done, what have you done to the world?

keeping the stars apart

When I was in h.s., and also in my college years, I would stumble upon a poet or fiction writer I loved and proceed as quickly as possible to read everything they had published. Interlibrary loan helped.

In h.s., one of my literary discoveries was e.e.cummings. I loved his free form poetry. I began to secretly aspire to be a poet. My mother discovered my infatuation and openly and unkindly mocked me for liking such a trivial (HUH?) nothing of a poet. After that, I distrusted my own taste for a long time and moved as far away from poetry as I could get. I did not take any poetry classes in college, only fiction (and other subjects, of course. . . ).  My mother even mocked the poet's choice to spell his name in all small letters, which was a detail I quite admired. To dare to be who he felt like being seemed wonderful to me. Now, here I am, almost 64. No one will leave me when I turn 64. My nearest and dearest already have. Anyway, this poem pleases me A LOT.

This poem had me swooning the first time I read it and swooning each time I read it.

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 the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
ee cummings

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

a movie about Emily Dickinson

My daughter, Rosie, when she was 17, was cast in a profesional theater production that used only Emily Dickenson's words, mostly her poetry but some of her letters. Rosie played 'young' Emily and a well known Broadway star played the older Emily. The older Em was a major actor in the Shakespeare Company based in the Berkshires. The play's creator and director was a director for the Shakespeare Company. She could act. I imagine she still can although I don't think she actually performs on any stage now.

She said she and all involved in the production sometimes drifted into perplexity because Emily's writing was so abstract.

Here is a review of the film from the New Yorker:

I went to see Rosie play Emily Dickinson three or four times.

It seems perfect that a play about one of this country's most brilliant poets is turning up during poetry month.  The film:  "A Quiet Passion".

According to this article (is it a review?), the film director takes some license.

I lived in Amherst for two years. Inhaled everything I could read by and/or about Emily, reading several biographies before I toured her home.  Satisfying. Being in her house, then in her actual bedroom and seeing some of her 'fascicles', as she called them (tiny paper books made by tying small pieces of paper, all the same small size, with ribbon to make a book).  I had read that she enjoyed watching children play on the church grounds across the street. In that bedroom, I thought I heard the children.

And before I went upstairs, without knowing that Emily often stood at the top of the stairs to listen to the lively, intellectual discussions down in the living room, as I stood in that living room, I thought I heart long skirts rustling, like something out of a movie. Only later, when I talked brielfy with the director of Rosie's play, did I learn about Emily and her sister Lavinia listening to every word of the 'salons' in her father's living room and later, just Lavinia's (and Emily's although she rarely joined in the socializing as time went by).

A poet lives at a most subtle vibration, I think, than other people do. I don't think Emily was a hermit, or odd for isolating herself. I think she was being herself.

When Rosie learned the director had learned I was her mother so he rushed over to me after the first time I saw the play to ask me what I thought. I made few comments to him, intimidated by Emily's cerebral qualities.  He wanted feedback. Rosie found out, because I told her about the very brief exchange, and she was livid. She told me to never talk to anyone else affiliated with the play and she told the director to not talk to me when I came again to the play. He told her he understood, that his kids had gone through a stage where they didn't want their parents involved. But I didn't approach the guy. He approached me. And I said almost nothing. I did nothing wrong. And I was hurt by Katie's anger over what was my innocent behavior.  I guess by then, I could do nothing right in her eyes.

anyway, looking forward to seeing 'A Quiet Passion".

ordered a smart phone!

Around 1996, my ex-husband called and asked me what gift would be something our daughter would be thrilled to get. It might have been the first time we co-parented since we had separated in 1984, actively interacted to achieve something positive for our daughter.  I told him that if he really wanted to thrill her, to get her a cell phone. They were newish at the time. She was going to a fancy prep school where most of the other students were wealthy.  And I knew a cell phone would thrill her. And it did. He said "What would that run, $200?  Not a problem here. I'll get her one." Then I said "Oh no, you can't just buy her the phone, you have to pay the monthly bill." He agreed to take that on so Rosie got a cell phone.

So, I facilitated my then-teenager's first cell phone in 1996. I did not buy myself a very cheap flip phone until 2008. I am still using that cheapo flip phone. It was free. I had to put a $20 deposit for using the phone and if I paid that twenty bucks, I got a free flip phone Kyocera. Then I had to pay at least $7 a month for minutes, minutes billed at something I have forgotten. I was very stingy with those minutes. Now I use the same old flip phone but I have unlimited minutes and texts. But no internet.

So here, in 2017, I am getting a smart phone.

When I was in an emergency room (I forget which hospital stay this happened) one of the male helpers (do they still call them orderlies? nowadays males and females do the same menial tasks in hospitals . . ) made fun of my flip phone. He pointed it out to another low level male and said "When was the last time you saw one of those?"

That snark has nothing to do with my new cell phone. My new cell phone is free to me, which is why I am 'getting' one.  I am going to Ottawa, Canada for two weeks. My flip phone did not operate in Canada last time I was there (or ever, in Canada). This trip, we are going to Montreal, a city I have not yet ever visited. Everyone speaks French. ooh-la-la! Work and fun. And a smart phone.  I worry I will become a smart phone zombie. So many people seem to ignore life around them and only focus on their smart phones.

poem for poetry month

I just read that a five year old Navajo/Kiowa boy was denied entrance to kindergarden because he has very long hair. In his culture, hair is sacred and not to be cut. I read that and, as happens to much in this too angry and too unkind world, it broke my heart. I thought "I should write a poem"; then I remembered this great poem by Jack Gilbert.

A Brief for the Defense. by Jack Gilbert

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered caf├ęs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.