Sunday, 16 April 2017

Happy Easter

 Image result for path in grass

I think Mary Oliver manages to capture the religious spirit of spring here perfectly.



Spring - Mary Oliver

Faith
is the instructor.
We need no other.

Guess what I am,
he says in his
incomparably lovely

young-man voice.
Because I love the world
I think of grass,

I think of leaves
and the bold sun,
I think of the rushes

in the black marches
just coming back
from under the pure white

and now finally melting
stubs of snow.
Whatever we know or don't know

leads us to say:
Teacher, what do you mean?
But faith is still there, and silent.

Then he who owns
the incomparable voice
suddenly flows upward

and out of the room
and I follow,
obedient and happy.

Of course I am thinking
the Lord was once young
and will never in fact be old.

And who else could this be, who goes off
down the green path,
carrying his sandals, and singing?

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Astonishment

 Image result for dew covered grass



Imaginary Conversation - Linda Pastan

You tell me to live each day
as if it were my last. This is in the kitchen
where before coffee I complain
of the day ahead—that obstacle race
of minutes and hours,
grocery stores and doctors.


But why the last? I ask. Why not
live each day as if it were the first—
all raw astonishment, Eve rubbing
her eyes awake that first morning,
the sun coming up
like an ingénue in the east?


You grind the coffee
with the small roar of a mind
trying to clear itself. I set
the table, glance out the window
where dew has baptized every
living surface.


Friday, 14 April 2017

Good Friday

  Related image

 

The Seven Last Words - Mark Strand

1

The story of the end, of the last word
of the end, when told, is a story that never ends.
We tell it and retell it — one word, then another
until it seems that no last word is possible,
that none would be bearable. Thus, when the hero
of the story says to himself, as to someone far away,
‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do,’
we may feel that he is pleading for us, that we are
the secret life of the story and, as long as his plea
is not answered, we shall be spared. So the story
continues. So we continue. And the end, once more,
becomes the next, and the next after that.

2
There is an island in the dark, a dreamt-of place
where the muttering wind shifts over the white lawns
and riffles the leaves of trees, the high trees
that are streaked with gold and line the walkways there;
and those already arrived are happy to be the silken
remains of something they were but cannot recall;
they move to the sound of stars, which is also imagined,
but who cares about that; the polished columns they see
may be no more than shafts of sunlight, but for those
who live on and on in the radiance of their remains
this is of little importance. There is an island
in the dark and you will be there, I promise you, you
shall be with me in paradise, in the single season of being,
in the place of forever, you shall find yourself. And there
the leaves will turn and never fall, there the wind
will sing and be your voice as if for the first time.

3

Someday some one will write a story set
in a place called The Skull, and it will tell,
among other things, of a parting between mother
and son, of how she wandered off, of how he vanished
in air. But before that happens, it will describe
how their faces shone with a feeble light and how
the son was moved to say, ‘Woman, look at your son,’
then to a friend nearby, ‘Son, look at your mother.’
At which point the writer will put down his pen
and imagine that while those words were spoken
something else happened, something unusual like
a purpose revealed, a secret exchanged, a truth
to which they, the mother and son, would be bound,
but what it was no one would know. Not even the writer.


4 These are the days when the sky is filled with
the odor of lilac, when darkness becomes desire,
when there is nothing that does not wish to be born.
These are the days of spring when the fate
of the present is a breezy fullness, when the world’s
great gift for fiction gilds even the dirt we walk on.
On such days we feel we could live forever, yet all
the while we know we cannot. This is the doubleness
in which we dwell. The great master of weather
and everything else, if he wishes, can bring forth 
a dark of a different kind, one hidden by darkness
so deep it cannot be seen. No one escapes.
Not even the man who saved others, and believed
he was the chosen son. When the dark came down
even he cried out, ‘Father, father, why have you
forsaken me?’ But to his words no answer came.

5

To be thirsty. To say, ‘I thirst.’ To be given,
instead of water, vinegar, and that to be pressed
from a sponge. To close one’s eyes and see the giant
world that is born each time the eyes are closed.
To see one’s death. To see the darkening clouds
as the tragic cloth of a day of mourning. To be the one
mourned. To open the dictionary of the Beyond and discover
what one suspected, that the only word in it
is nothing. To try to open one’s eyes, but not to be
able to. To feel the mouth burn. To feel the sudden
presence of what, again and again, was not said.
To translate it and have it remain unsaid. To know
at last that nothing is more real than nothing.

6

‘It is finished,’ he said. You could hear him say it,
the words almost a whisper, then not even that,
but an echo so faint it seemed no longer to come
from him, but from elsewhere. This was his moment,
his final moment. “It is finished,” he said into a vastness
that led to an even greater vastness, and yet all of it
within him. He contained it all. That was the miracle,
to be both large and small in the same instant, to be
like us, but more so, then finally to give up the ghost,
which is what happened. And from the storm that swirled
a formal nakedness took shape, the truth of disguise
and the mask of belief were joined forever.

7

Back down these stairs to the same scene,
to the moon, the stars, the night wind. Hours pass
and only the harp off in the distance and the wind
moving through it. And soon the sun’s gray disk,
darkened by clouds, sailing above. And beyond,
as always, the sea of endless transparence, of utmost
calm, a place of constant beginning that has within it
what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand
has touched, what has not arisen in the human heart.
To that place, to the keeper of that place, I commit myself.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Salt Heart

 

Image result for bee on lavender in garden


Salt Heart - Jane Hirshfield

I was tired,
half sleeping in the sun.
A single bee
delved the lavender nearby,
and beyond the fence,
a trowel's shoulder knocked a white stone.
Soon, the ringing stopped.
And from somewhere,
a quiet voice said the one word.
Surely a command,
though it seemed more a question,
a wondering perhaps—"What about joy?"
So long it had been forgotten,
even the thought raised surprise.
But however briefly, there,
in the untuned devotions of bee
and the lavender fragrance,
the murmur of better and worse was unimportant.
From next door, the sound of raking,
and neither courage nor cowardice mattered.
Soon enough that gate swung closed,
the world turned back to heart-salt
of wanting, heart-salts of will and grief.
My friend would continue dying, at last
only exhausted, even his wrists thinned with pain.
The river Suffering would take what it
wished of him, then go. And I would stay
and drink on, as the living do, until the rest
would enter into that water—the lavender swept in,
the bee, the swallowed labors of my neighbor.
The ordinary moment swept in, whatever it drowsily holds.
I begin to believe the only sin is distance, refusal.
All others stemming from this. Then, come.
Rivers, come. Irrevocable futures, come. Come even joy.
Even now, even here, and though it vanish like him.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

It Will Be Spring

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To Paula in Late Spring - WS Mervin
Let me imagine that we will come again
when we want to and it will be spring
we will be no older than we ever were
the worn griefs will have eased like the early cloud
through which the morning slowly comes to itself
and the ancient defenses against the dead
will be done with and left to the dead at last
the light will be as it is now in the garden
that we have made here these years together
of our long evenings and astonishment

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

April Fever



 Spring fever!


April - William Carlos Williams

If you had come away with me
into another state
we had been quiet together.
But there the sun coming up
out of the nothing beyond the lake was
too low in the sky,
there was too great a pushing
against him,
too much of sumac buds, pink
in the head
with the clear gum upon them,
too many opening hearts of lilac leaves,
too many, too many swollen
limp poplar tassels on the
bare branches!
It was too strong in the air.
I had no rest against that
springtime!
The pounding of the hoofs on the
raw sods
stayed with me half through the night.
I awoke smiling but tired.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Daffodils

 Image result for daffodils

Daffodils - May Swenson

Yellow telephones
in a row in the garden
are ringing,
shrill with light.

Old-fashioned spring
brings earliest models out
each April the same,
naïve and classical.

Look into the yolk-
colored mouthpieces
alert with echoes.
Say hello to time.

Monday, 3 April 2017

April Birthday

 Image result for bouquet of daffodils


April Birthday - Ted Hughes

When your birthday brings the world under your window
And the song-thrush sings wet-throated in the dew
And aconite and primrose are unsticking the wrappers
Of the package that has come today for you


Lambs bounce out and stand astonished
Puss willow pushes among bare branches
Sooty hawthorns shiver into emerald


And a new air
Nuzzles the sugary
Buds of the chestnut. A groundswell and a stir
Billows the silvered
Violet silks
Of the south – a tenderness
Lifting through all the
Gently-breasted
Counties of England.


When the swallow snips the string that holds the world in
And the ring-dove claps and nearly loops the loop
You just can’t count everything that follows in a tumble
Like a whole circus tumbling through a hoop


Grass in a mesh of all flowers floundering
Sizzling leaves and blossoms bombing
Nestlings hissing and groggy-legged insects


And the trees
Stagger, they stronger
Brace their boles and biceps under
The load of gift. And the hills float
Light as bubble glass
On the smoke-blue evening


And rabbits are bobbing everywhere, and a thrush
Rings cooly in a far corner. A shiver of green
Strokes the darkening slope as the land
Begins her labour.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

April Prayer

 Image result for leaves budding on trees

Hello April!


April Prayer -  Stuart Kestenbaum,

Just before the green begins there is the hint of green
a blush of color, and the red buds thicken
the ends of the maple's branches and everything
is poised before the start of a new world,
which is really the same world
just moving forward from bud
to flower to blossom to fruit
to harvest to sweet sleep, and the roots
await the next signal, every signal
every call a miracle and the switchboard
is lighting up and the operators are
standing by in the pledge drive we've
all been listening to: Go make the call.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Another Spring

Image result for spring moon


Another Spring - Kenneth Rexroth



The seasons revolve and the years change
With no assistance or supervision.
The moon, without taking thought,
Moves in its cycle, full, crescent, and full.
The white moon enters the heart of the river;
The air is drugged with azalea blossoms;
Deep in the night a pine cone falls;
Our campfire dies out in the empty mountains.

The sharp stars flicker in the tremulous branches;
The lake is black, bottomless in the crystalline night;
High in the sky the Northern Crown
Is cut in half by the dim summit of a snow peak.

O heart, heart, so singularly
Intransigent and corruptible,
Here we lie entranced by the starlit water,
And moments that should each last forever

Slide unconsciously by us like water.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Things Change

 Image result for robin


Things Change - Robert Hayden

Small song,
two beat:
the robin on the lawn
hops from sun
into shadow, shadow
into sun.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Spring Song

 Image result for spring


Spring Song - Edith Wharton

"O primavera! Gioventit dell' anno."

The first warm buds that break their covers,
  The first young twigs that burst in green,
The first blade that the sun discovers,
  Starting the loosened earth between.

The pale soft sky, so clear and tender,
  With little clouds that break and fly;
The crocus, earliest pretender
  To the low breezes passing by;

The chirp and twitter of brown builders,
  A couple in a tree, at least;
The watchful wisdom of the elders
  For callow younglings in the nest;

The flush of branches with fair blossoms,
  The deepening of the faint green boughs,
As leaf by leaf the crown grows fuller
  That binds the young Spring's rosy brows;

New promise every day of sweetness,
  The next bright dawn is sure to bring;
Slow breaking into green completeness,
  Fresh rapture of the early Spring!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Vernal Equinox

Image result for spring

 'I rejoice in the spring, as though no spring ever had been.'

Happy Spring Equinox!


Vernal Sentiment - Theodore Roethke

Though the crocuses poke up their heads in the usual places,
The frog scum appear on the pond with the same froth of green,
And boys moon at girls with last year’s fatuous faces,
I never am bored, however familiar the scene.

When from under the barn the cat brings a similar litter,—
Two yellow and black, and one that looks in between,—
Though it all happened before, I cannot grow bitter:
I rejoice in the spring, as though no spring ever had been.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

March


Image result for spring

'Blue sky prevailing...'


Written in  March - William Wordsworth

The cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter
The green field sleeps in the sun;
The oldest and youngest
Are at work with the strongest;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising;
There are forty feeding like one!

Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill;
The plowboy is whooping- anon-anon:
There's joy in the mountains;
There's life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
Blue sky prevailing;
The rain is over and gone!

Monday, 13 March 2017

In Praise of Spring

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It's that time of year again...Spring is finally beginning to appear! :)
 
 
In Praise of Spring - Linda Gregg
 
The day is taken by each thing and grows complete.
I go out and come in and go out again,
confused by a beauty that knows nothing of delay,
rushing like fire. All things move faster
than time and make a stillness thereby. My mind
leans back and smiles, having nothing to say.
Even at night I go out with a light and look
at the growing. I kneel and look at one thing
at a time. A white spider on a peony bud.
I have nothing to give, and make a poor servant,
but I can praise the spring. Praise this wildness
that does not heed the hour. The doe that does not
stop at dark but continues to grow all night long.
The beauty in every degree of flourishing. Violets
lift to the rain and the brook gets louder than ever.
The old German farmer is asleep and the flowers go on
opening. There are stars. Mint grows high. Leaves
bend in the sunlight as the rain continues to fall.
 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Haiku Trio Pop

Image result for spring moon

I recently discovered Jack Kerouac's Book of Haikus and what delights lie therein. Here are a few 'pops' - as he chose to call them:


Dawn - the first 
robins singing
To the new moon

***

In the lovely sun
reading lovely
Haikus - Spring

***

The Spring moon - 
How many miles away
Those orange blossoms! 

-Jack Kerouac


Monday, 6 March 2017

Green Shoot

Image result for green shoot



Spring is the poet's season!




Ted Kooser, from 'Winter Morning Walks':



The sky a pale yellow this morning,
like the skin of an onion,
and here at the center,
under layer upon layer of brooding
and ferment, a poet, 
and cupped in his hands, the green shoot
of one word. 

                                               

 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Of Love

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To finish up a week of love poetry here's Mary Oliver on maybe the greatest love of all - being in love with the world.


Of Love - Mary Oliver

I have been in love more times than one,
thank the Lord. Sometimes it was lasting
whether active or not. Sometimes
it was all but ephemeral, maybe only
an afternoon, but not less real for that.
They stay in my mind, these beautiful people,
or anyway beautiful people to me, of which
there are so many. You, and you, and you,
whom I had the fortune to meet, or maybe
missed. Love, love, love, it was the
core of my life, from which, of course, comes
the word for the heart. And, oh, have I mentioned
that some of them were men and some were women
and some — now carry my revelation with you —
were trees. Or places. Or music flying above
the names of their makers. Or clouds, or the sun
which was the first, and the best, the most
loyal for certain, who looked so faithfully into
my eyes, every morning. So I imagine
such love of the world — its fervency, its shining, its
innocence and hunger to give of itself — I imagine
this is how it began.

Friday, 17 February 2017

This Was Once A Love Poem

    Image result for love    


This Was Once A Love Poem - Jane Hirshfield
This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads.
It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement.
It remembers choosing these shoes,
this scarf or tie.
Once, it drank beer for breakfast,
drifted its feet
in a river side by side with the feet of another.
Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy,
dropping its head so the hair would fall forward,
so the eyes would not be seen.
It spoke with passion of history, of art.
It was lovely then, this poem.
Under its chin, no fold of skin softened.
Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat.
What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall.
An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks.
The longing has not diminished.
Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat,
the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus.
Yes, it decides:
Many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots.
When it finds itself disquieted
by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life,
it will touch them—one, then another—
with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

First Love

Image result for you are here heart picture

First Love - Carol Ann Duffy

Waking, with a dream of first love forming real words,
as close to my lips as lipstick, I speak your name,
after a silence of years, into the pillow, and the power
of your name brings me here to the window, naked,
to say it again to a garden shaking with light.
This was a child's love, and yet I clench my eyes
till the pictures return, unfocused at first, then
almost clear, an old film played at a slow speed.
All day I will glimpse it, in windows of changing sky,
in mirrors, my lover's eyes, wherever you are.

And later a star, long dead, here, seems precisely
the size of a tear. Tonight, a love-letter out of a dream
stammers itself in my heart. Such faithfulness.
You smile in my head on the last evening. Unseen
flowers suddenly pierce and sweeten the air.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Post Parting


Well you can't post love poems without including one on heartache.

This one is both exquisitely beautiful and powerfully heartbreaking.
The Nails - WS Mervin

I gave you sorrow to hang on your wall
Like a calendar in one color.
I wear a torn place on my sleeve.
It isn’t as simple as that.

Between no place of mine and no place of yours
You’d have thought I’d know the way by now
Just from thinking it over.
Oh I know
I’ve no excuse to be stuck here turning
Like a mirror on a string,
Except it’s hardly credible how
It all keeps changing.
Loss has a wider choice of directions
Than the other thing.

As if I had a system
I shuffle among the lies
Turning them over, if only
I could be sure what I’d lost.
I uncover my footprints, I
Poke them till the eyes open.
They don’t recall what it looked like.
When was I using it last?
Was it like a ring or a light
Or the autumn pond
Which chokes and glitters but
Grows colder?
It could be all in the mind.  Anyway
Nothing seems to bring it back to me.

And I’ve been to see
Your hands as trees borne away on a flood,
The same film over and over,
And an old one at that, shattering its account
To the last of the digits, and nothing
And the blank end.

The lightning has shown me the scars of the future.

I’ve had a long look at someone
Alone like a key in a lock
Without what it takes to turn.

It isn’t as simple as that.

Winter will think back to your lit harvest
For which there is no help, and the seed
Of eloquence will open its wings
When you are gone.
But at this moment
When the nails are kissing the fingers good-bye
And my only
Chance is bleeding from me,
When my one chance is bleeding,
For speaking either truth or comfort
I have no more tongue than a wound.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Valentine

 
Image result for ted kooser - valentine poem 


In the words of Ted Kooser: "Valentine's Day is the poet's holiday." It is. Happy Valentine's!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Sestina

Image result for love me, love me not

This is ingenious. What you can do with merely six words and clever punctuation!

*A sestina, by the way, is a fixed form poem of six verses with six lines in each - or in this case - six words, which repeat in a certain pattern.  It is followed by a three line envoi.



Sestina - Ciara Shuttleworth 

You
used
to
love
me
well.

Well,
you—
me—
used
love
to . . .

to . . .
well . . .
love.
You
used
me.

Me,
too,
used . . .
well . . .
you.
Love,

love
me.
You,
too
well
used,

used
love
well.
Me,
too.
You!

You used
to love
me well.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Hungry Moon

The last full moon of February
stalks the fields; barbed wire casts a shadow.
Rising slowly, a beam moved toward the west
stealthily changing position
 
until now, in the small hours, across the snow
it advances on my pillow
to wake me, not rudely like the sun
but with the cocked gun of silence.
 
I am alone in a vast room
where a vain woman once slept.
The moon, in pale buckskins, crouches
on guard beside her bed.
 
Slowly the light wanes, the snow will melt
and all the fences thrum in the spring breeze
but not until that sleeper, trapped
in my body, turns and turns.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Snowdrop

 Image result for snowdrop

Yes, many many welcomes! 



The Snowdrop - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid!
Ever as of old time,
Solitary firstling,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the gay time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid!

Monday, 6 February 2017

Transit

Image result for music

A poem for the times we live in - and good advice too: 
Let it be said, while in the midst of horror, we fed on beauty.


Transit - Rita Dove


If music be the food of love, play on. 

This is the house that music built:
each note a fingertip’s purchase,
rung upon rung laddering


across the unspeakable world.
As for those other shrill facades,
rigged-for-a-day porticos


composed to soothe regiments
of eyes, guilt-reddened,
lining the parade route


(horn flash, woodwind wail) . . .
well, let them cheer.
I won’t speak judgment on 


the black water passing for coffee,
white water for soup.
We supped instead each night


on Chopin—hummed our grief-
soaked lullabies to the rapture
rippling through. Let it be said


while in the midst of horror
we fed on beauty—and that,
my love, is what sustained us.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Falling Stars




Do You Still Remember: Falling Stars? - Rainer Maria Rilke

Do you still remember: falling stars,
how they leapt slantwise through the sky
like horses over suddenly held-out hurdles
of our wishes—did we have so many?—
for stars, innumerable, leapt everywhere;
almost every gaze upward became
wedded to the swift hazard of their play,
and our heart felt like a single thing
beneath that vast disintegration of their brilliance—
and was whole, as if it would survive them!

Monday, 16 January 2017

The Desolate Field

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Maybe vast and grey isn't that bad after all...


The Desolate Field - William Carlos Williams

Vast and gray, the sky
is a simulacrum
to all but him whose days
are vast and gray, and—
In the tall, dried grasses
a goat stirs
with nozzle searching the ground.
—my head is in the air
but who am I…?
And amazed my heart leaps
at the thought of love
vast and gray
yearning silently over me.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Love at First Sight

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"Every beginning
is only a sequel, after all.."

I love this poem and the whole sentiment behind it too!
 

Love at First Sight -  Wislawa Szymborska

They’re both convinced
that a sudden passion joined them.
Such certainty is beautiful,
but uncertainty is more beautiful still.

Since they’d never met before, they’re sure
that there’d been nothing between them.
But what’s the word from the streets, staircases, hallways—
perhaps they’ve passed by each other a million times?

I want to ask them
if they don’t remember—
a moment face to face
in some revolving door?
perhaps a “sorry” muttered in a crowd?
a curt “wrong number” caught in the receiver?—
but I know the answer.
No, they don’t remember.

They’d be amazed to hear
that Chance has been toying with them
now for years.

Not quite ready yet
to become their Destiny,
it pushed them close, drove them apart,
it barred their path,
stifling a laugh,
and then leaped aside.

There were signs and signals,
even if they couldn’t read them yet.
Perhaps three years ago
or just last Tuesday
a certain leaf fluttered
from one shoulder to another?
Something was dropped and then picked up.
Who knows, maybe the ball that vanished
into childhood’s thicket?

There were doorknobs and doorbells
where one touch had covered another
beforehand.
Suitcases checked and standing side by side.
One night, perhaps, the same dream,
grown hazy by morning.

Every beginning
is only a sequel, after all,
and the book of events
is always open halfway through.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Out-riding Loneliness

Image result for bike with pink flowers



The Rider - Naomi  Shihab Nye

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn't catch up to him,

the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.

What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.

A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Horses at Midnight

 Image result for horses at midnight without a moon jack gilbert

 "Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting.."


Horses at Midnight Without a Moon - Jack Gilbert

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there's music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.
Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Study of a Great Blue Heron

Image result for great blue heron

I can't get enough of Ted Kooser's poetry.  It is so good it makes me swoon in loving appreciation of his heartfelt transformative vision. For he is so in love with the world you see, it shines through every line. 


Etude - Ted Kooser

I have been watching a Great Blue Heron
fish in the cattails, easing ahead
with the stealth of a lover composing a letter,
the hungry words looping and blue
as they coil and uncoil, as they kiss and sting.

Let’s say that he holds down an everyday job
in an office. His blue suit blends in.
Long days swim beneath the glass top
of his desk, each one alike. On the lip
of each morning, a bubble trembles.

No one has seen him there, writing a letter
to a woman he loves. His pencil is poised
in the air like the beak of a bird.
He would spear the whole world if he could,
toss it and swallow it whole.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Balloons

 Image result for green and red balloons

Balloons - Sylvia Plath

Since Christmas they have lived with us,
Guileless and clear,
Oval soul-animals,
Taking up half the space,
Moving and rubbing on the silk

Invisible air drifts,
Giving a shriek and pop
When attacked, then scooting to rest, barely trembling.
Yellow cathead, blue fish—
Such queer moons we live with

Instead of dead furniture!
Straw mats, white walls
And these traveling
Globes of thin air, red, green,
Delighting

The heart like wishes or free
Peacocks blessing
Old ground with a feather
Beaten in starry metals.
Your small

Brother is making
His balloon squeak like a cat.
Seeming to see
A funny pink world he might eat on the other side of it,
He bites,

Then sits
Back, fat jug
Contemplating a world clear as water.
A red
Shred in his little fist.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Taking Down the Tree

  Image result for taking down the tree
 
To help you along with the sad task...
 
 
Taking Down the Tree - Jane Kenyon

"Give me some light!" cries Hamlet's
uncle midway through the murder
of Gonzago. "Light! Light!" cry scattering
courtesans. Here, as in Denmark,
it's dark at four, and even the moon
shines with only half a heart.

The ornaments go down into the box:
the silver spaniel, My Darling
on its collar, from Mother's childhood
in Illinois; the balsa jumping jack
my brother and I fought over,
pulling limb from limb. Mother
drew it together again with thread
while I watched, feeling depraved
at the age of ten.

With something more than caution
I handle them, and the lights, with their
tin star-shaped reflectors, brought along
from house to house, their pasteboard
toy suitcases increasingly flimsy.
Tick, tick, the desiccated needles drop.

By suppertime all that remains is the scent
of balsam fir. If it's darkness
we're having, let it be extravagant.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

On Time

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"Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take.."

What follows are perhaps the most exquisitely acute words about Time ever written.


from Burnt Norton - T.S. Eliot

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Onward





Clear and Cold - Ted Kooser

A little snap at one side of the room,
and an answering snap at the other:
Stiff from the cold and idleness, the old house
is cracking its knuckles. Then the great yawn
of the furnace. Even the lampshade is drowsy,
its belly full of a warm yellow light.

Out under the moon, though, there is at least
one wish against this winter sleep: A road
leads into the new year, deliberate as a bride
in her sparkling white dress of new snow.

Monday, 2 January 2017

New Year Resolve

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"To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.."


New Year Resolve - May Sarton

The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.

Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.

Let silence in.
She will rarely mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.

For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Year's Prayer

 Image result for new years sparkle
 
 
 
New Year's Prayer - Jeff Buckley
 
You my love are allowed to forget
About the Christmas
You just spent stressed out
In your parents house

You my love are allowed to shed the weight
Of all the years before like bad disco clothes
Save them for a night of dancing
Stoned with you lover

You my love are allowed to let yourself
Drown every night
In bottomless wild and naked
Symbolic dreams

You my love in sleep can unlock
Your youth and your most terrifying magic
And dreaming is for the
Courageous

You my love are allowed to grab my guitar
And sing me idiot love songs if
You lost your ability to speak
Keep it down to two minutes

You my love are allowed to rot
And to die
And to live again more alive
And incandescent than before

You my love are allowed to beat the shit out of your television
Choke it's thoughts and corrupt its mind
Kill, kill, kill, kill, the motherfucker before the song of Zombiefied
Pain and panic and malaise

And its narrow right winged vision
And its cheap commercial gang rate
Becomes the white noise of the world
(Turn about is fair play)

You my love are allowed to forgive
And love your television
You my love are allowed to speak in kisses
To those around you and those up in heaven

You my love are allowed to show your babies how to dance full bodied
Starry eyed, audacious, supernatural and glorified
You my love are allowed to suck
In every single endeavor

You my love are allowed to be soaked
Like a lovers blanket
In the New York summertime with the wonder
Of your own special gift

You my love are allowed to receive praise
You my love are allowed to have time
You my love are allowed to understand
You my love are allowed to love

Woman disobey
Little man believe
You my love are a rebellion

Saturday, 31 December 2016

New Year's Eve


There's something about the New Year isn't there - full of hope for new beginnings on one hand, and on the other, remembrances of past deflated hopes and endings. But still, I think hope for the future is always the more buoyant feeling.

Happy New Year to you all, may it be hopeful and buoyant and bright.


The Year - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.


New Year - Lucille Clifton

i am running into a new year
and the old years blow back
like a wind
that I catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises and
it will be hard to let go
of what i said to myself
about myself
when i was sixteen and
twenty-six and thirty-six
even forty-six but
i am running into a new year and i beg what i
love and
i leave to forgive me



Monday, 26 December 2016

The Wren Boys

 Wren Boys



The Wren-Boys - Carol Ann Duffy

The old year, a tear in the eye of time;
frost on the blackthorn, the ditches glamorous
with rime; on the inbreath of air,
the long, thoughtful pause before snow.

A star on the brow of a mule in a field
and the mule nuzzling the drystone wall
where a wren, size of a child’s lost purse,
hides in a hole. St. Stephen’s Day.

Eight bells from the Church. Next to the Church,
the Inn. Next to the Inn, and opposite,
a straight furlong of dwellings. End of the line,
a farm. Top of the hill, the Big House –

everywhere musky with peat from the first fires
as though the hour had started the day
with a neat malt; like your man has here
who bangs on door after door with his holly-stick.

Quick boys! Up for the wren! Then the Wren-Boys
flinging open the doors in their green-laced boots,
daft caps, red neckerchiefs, with cudgels and nets;
one with a cage held aloft on the tip of a ribboned staff.
Hedge-bandit, song-bomb, dart-beak, the wren
hops in the thicket, flirt-eye; shy, brave,
grubbing, winter’s scamp, but more than itself –
ten requisite grams of the world’s weight.

And here’s the craic: that the little bird
had betrayed a saint with its song,
or stolen a ride on an eagle’s back
to fly highest; traitor and cheat.

But poets named it Dryw, druid and wren,
sought its hermit tune for a muse;
sweethearts thought it a foolproof blessing for love.
Which was true for the wren? None of the above.

Over the wall, over the field, was the wood
to where the Wren-Boys stomped in a singing gang:
We’ll chase him from bush to bush
and from tree to tree. One had a fiddle,

one had a penny-whistle, another a drum,
one had thirty feathers poked in his hat.
So through the holly, the hazel, the ash,
the brackeny floor, they hunted the wren.

Five hours in, they had startled a fox
which ran like the hounds; had bagged a nest
with five blue unhatched eggs; scarpered
from a cache of poteen stashed in an oak.

On a twig, a robin watched them go,
safe in its myth. It had started to snow
and the boots of the boys blotted the page of the field
as they made for the margins – the ditches and hedgerows.

The priest was supping a pint of stout in the pub,
a small icon of his holy self, clocking the top shelf.
The farmer was sat by the fire with his dog.
Four widows were sharing a Christmas nog.

And the sky went falling, falling, down to the earth
till a lad was sent to fetch the mule to its stall,
and the bell had a muffled, sorrowful sound
and up at the Big House all the lights came on.

And the clouds came grieving, grieving, down to the land,
but could they find that feckin wran,
as they thrashed, poked, joshed and joked
along the lane where weddings and funerals came.

Who it was who plonked his arse on a stile
and yanked the wipe from his neck, the plumes
from his brother’s hat, to fashion a dummy bird,
no living man can tell; nor hear their boisterous glee

as they caged the raggedy wren and swaggered,
whistling, fiddling, drumming, back up the road –
The wren, the wren, the Lord of all birds,
On St. Stephen’s Day was caught on the furze . . .

Sing holly, sing ivy, sing ivy, sing holly,
a drop just to drink it will drown melancholy . . .
away round the bend in dwindling violet light
into their given lives, snow-ghosts, gone . . .

to boast at each house with a verse, a sock
for farthings, threepennies, sixpences, florins;
then toast that the wren was out with the old
and in with the new was the robin.

Which would have been news to the wren,
had it understood claptrap, mythology, fable,
warm in its communal roost in the stable
over the heads of the dozing beasts –

while the Wren-Boys boozed and danced at the Inn;
one with a widow, one with the farmer’s daughter,
one with a sweetheart, one with a sozzled priest.
Later, the snow settled, a star in the east.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

A Time Like This

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Merry Christmas to all my readers. Wishing you peace and joy and a light in the heart at this time.


Into the Darkest Hour - Madeline L'Engle

It was a time like this,
War & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss-
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.

It was time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight-
and yet the Prince of bliss
came into the darkest hour
in quiet & silent light.

And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Ah! Wonderful it is
with no room on the earth
the stable is our heart.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Eve

Image result for street lantern in the snow



Christmas Eve - Carol Ann Duffy

Time was slow snow sieving the night,
a kind of love from the blurred moon;
your small town swooning, unabashed,
was Winter’s own.

Snow was the mind of Time, sifting
itself, drafting the old year’s end.
You wrote your name on the window-pane
with your young hand.

And your wishes went up in smoke,
beyond where a streetlamp studied
the thoughtful snow on Christmas Eve,
beyond belief,

as Time, snow, darkness, child, kindled.
Downstairs, the ritual lighting of the candles.

Friday, 23 December 2016

A Star

Image result for christmas star
 
 
Now I know this poem is titled with tomorrow's date, but I think it's quite suitable for today too, a Christmas Eve Eve poem.

 
December 24, 1971 - Joseph Brodsky
 

For V.S.
 
When it’s Christmas we’re all of us magi.
At the grocers’ all slipping and pushing.
Where a tin of halvah, coffee-flavored,
is the cause of a human assault-wave
by a crowd heavy-laden with parcels:
each one his own king, his own camel.

Nylon bags, carrier bags, paper cones,
caps and neckties all twisted up sideways.
Reek of vodka and resin and cod,
orange mandarins, cinnamon, apples.
Floods of faces, no sign of a pathway
toward Bethlehem, shut off by blizzard.

And the bearers of moderate gifts
leap on buses and jam all the doorways,
disappear into courtyards that gape,
though they know that there’s nothing inside there:
not a beast, not a crib, nor yet her,
round whose head gleams a nimbus of gold.

Emptiness. But the mere thought of that
brings forth lights as if out of nowhere.
Herod reigns but the stronger he is,
the more sure, the more certain the wonder.
In the constancy of this relation
is the basic mechanics of Christmas.

That’s what they celebrate everywhere,
for its coming push tables together.
No demand for a star for a while,
but a sort of good will touched with grace
can be seen in all men from afar,
and the shepherds have kindled their fires.

Snow is falling: not smoking but sounding
chimney pots on the roof, every face like a stain.
Herod drinks. Every wife hides her child.
He who comes is a mystery: features
are not known beforehand, men’s hearts may
not be quick to distinguish the stranger.

But when drafts through the doorway disperse
the thick mist of the hours of darkness
and a shape in a shawl stands revealed,
both a newborn and Spirit that’s Holy
in your self you discover; you stare
skyward, and it’s right there:
                                                    a star.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Messiah

Image result for handel's messiah
 
 
Messiah (Christmas Portions) - Mark Doty
 
A little heat caught
in gleaming rags,
in shrouds of veil,
   torn and sun-shot swaddlings:

   over the Methodist roof,
two clouds propose a Zion
of their own, blazing
   (colors of tarnish on copper)

   against the steely close
of a coastal afternoon, December,
while under the steeple
   the Choral Society

   prepares to perform
Messiah, pouring, in their best
blacks and whites, onto the raked stage.
   Not steep, really,

   but from here,
the first pew, they’re a looming
cloudbank of familiar angels:
   that neighbor who

   fights operatically
with her girlfriend, for one,
and the friendly bearded clerk
   from the post office

   —tenor trapped
in the body of a baritone? Altos
from the A&P, soprano
   from the T-shirt shop:

   today they’re all poise,
costume and purpose
conveying the right note
   of distance and formality.

   Silence in the hall,
anticipatory, as if we’re all
about to open a gift we’re not sure
   we’ll like;

   how could they
compete with sunset’s burnished
oratorio? Thoughts which vanish,
   when the violins begin.

   Who’d have thought
they’d be so good? Every valley,
proclaims the solo tenor,
   (a sleek blonde

   I’ve seen somewhere before
—the liquor store?) shall be exalted,
and in his handsome mouth the word
   is lifted and opened

   into more syllables
than we could count, central ah
dilated in a baroque melisma,
   liquefied; the pour

   of voice seems
to make the unplaned landscape
the text predicts the Lord
   will heighten and tame.

   This music
demonstrates what it claims:
glory shall be revealed. If art’s
   acceptable evidence,

   mustn’t what lies
behind the world be at least
as beautiful as the human voice?
   The tenors lack confidence,

   and the soloists,
half of them anyway, don’t
have the strength to found
   the mighty kingdoms

   these passages propose
—but the chorus, all together,
equals my burning clouds,
   and seems itself to burn,

   commingled powers
deeded to a larger, centering claim.
These aren’t anyone we know;
   choiring dissolves

   familiarity in an up-
pouring rush which will not
rest, will not, for a moment,
   be still.

   Aren’t we enlarged
by the scale of what we’re able
to desire? Everything,
   the choir insists,

   might flame;
inside these wrappings
burns another, brighter life,
   quickened, now,

   by song: hear how
it cascades, in overlapping,
lapidary waves of praise? Still time.
   Still time to change.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Winter Solstice



The day the light starts to come back. Happy Winter Solstice.


December 21 - Ted Kooser

Perfectly still this solstice morning, 
in bone-cracking cold. Nothing moving,
or so one might think, but as I walk the road,
the wind held in the heart of every tree
flows to the end of each twig and forms a bud.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Meditations on the Solstice

Image result for snowy landscape

'This is the solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future;'


Solstice Poem - Margaret Atwood

I.
Through the slit of our open window, the wind
comes in and flows around us, nothingness
in motion, like time. The power of what is not there.
the snow empties itself down, a shadow turning
to indigo, obliterating
everything out there, roofs, cars, garbage cans,
dead flowerstalks, dog turds, it doesn’t matter.
you could read this as indifference
on the part of the universe, or else a relentless
forgiveness: all of our
scratches and blots and mortal
wounds and patched-up jobs
wiped clean in the snow’s huge erasure.

I feel it as a pressure,
an added layer:
above the white waterfall of snow
thundering down; then attic, moth-balled
sweaters, nomadic tents,
the dried words of old letters;
then stairs, then children, cats and radiators, peeling paint,
us in our bed, the afterglow
of a smoky fire, our one candle flickering;
below us, the kitchen in the dark, the wink
of pots on shelves; then books and tools, then cellar
and furnace, graying dolls, a bicycle,
the whole precarious geology of house
crisscrossed with hidden mousetrails,
and under that a buried river
that seeps up through the cement
floor every spring,
and the tree roots snouting their slow way
into the drains;
under that, the bones
of our ancestors, or if not theirs, someone’s,
mixed with a biomass of nematodes;
under that, bedrock, then molten
stone and the earth’s fiery core;
and sideways, out into the city, street
and corner store and mall
and underpass, then barns and ruined woodlands, continent
and island, oceans, mists
of story drifting
on the tide like seaweed, animal
species crushed and blinking out,
and births and illnesses, hatred and love infra-
red, compassion fleshtone, prayer ultra-
violet; then rumours, alternate waves
of sad peace and sad war,
and then the air, and then the scintillating ions,
and then the stars. That’s where
we are.

2.
Some centuries ago, when we lived at the edge
of the forest, on nights like this
you would have put on your pelt of a bear
and shambled off to prowl and hulk
among the trees, and be a silhouette of human
fears against the snowbank.
I would have chosen fox;
I liked the jokes,
the doubling back on my tracks,
and, let’s face it, the theft.
Back then, I had many forms:
the sliding in and out
of my own slippery eelskin,
and yours as well; we were each other’s
iridescent glove, the deft body
all sleight-of-hand and illusion.
Once we were lithe as pythons, quick
and silvery as herring, and we still are, momentarily,
except our knees hurt.
Right now we’re content to huddle
under the shed feathers of duck and goose
as the wind pours like a river
we swim in by keeping still,
like trout in a current.
Every cell
in our bodies has renewed itself
so many times since then, there’s
not much left, my love,
of the originals. We’re footprints
becoming limestone, or think of it
as coal becoming diamond. Less
flexible, but more condensed;
and no more scales or aliases,
at least on the outside. Though we’ve accumulated,
despite ourselves, other disguises:
you as a rumpled elephant—
hide suitcase with white fur,
me as a bramble bush. Well, the hair
was always difficult. Then there’s
the eye problems: too close, too far, you’re a blur.
I used to say I’d know you anywhere,
but it’s getting harder.

3.
This is the solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future;
the place of caught breath, the door
of a vanished house left ajar.

Taking hands like children
lost in a six-dimensional
forest, we step across.
The walls of the house fold themselves down,
and the house turns
itself inside out, as a tulip does
in its last full-blown moment, and our candle
flares up and goes out, and the only common
sense that remains to us is touch,

as it will be, later, some other
century, when we will seem to each other
even less what we were.
But that trick is just to hold on
through all appearances; and so we do,
and yes, I know it’s you;
and that is what we will come to, sooner
or later, when it’s even darker
than It is now, when the snow is colder,
when it’s darkest and coldest
and candles are no longer any use to us
and the visibility is zero: Yes.
It’s still you. It’s still you.