Friday, 31 August 2012

Day 70: Blue Moon

Well today is a blue moon. A rare astrological occurrence that means anything goes really.

I did search high and low for a poem about a blue moon specifically, but could I find any? Not one. Amazing what with the sheer volume of poems written about the moon, none take up issue with the blue moon. Well, none that I can find anyway. (Except, I do have one written myself, and in the process of writing another one. But you'll have to hop on over to my Blog of One's Own to see those...)

What I did keep finding was 'Blue Moon', the classic old song. So, I just had to post it. It's an one-off. An appropriate choice for a 'once in a blue moon' action. The song itself is moody and melancholy, blue being the metaphor for sadness of course, but it also refers to that one-off lucky happening related to blue moons that can change everything. 

Impossible to read the lyrics without humming along! So the song is below, not Elvis or Ella's version, but a more offbeat Chris Isaak. Enjoy.

'Blue Moon'   (Richard Rogers, Lorenz Hart)

Blue moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Blue Moon
You know just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for

(And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked to the Moon, it turned to gold)

Blue Moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

(And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked the Moon had turned to gold)

Blue moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Blue moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Day 69: Still Life

 Yes. Sometimes it seems like this alright. Where does time go?

And the Days Are Not Full Enough - Ezra Pound

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
      Not shaking the grass 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Day 68: Atlas

Atlas, holding up the world on his back. Maybe one of the most striking of the Greek myths. And the most selfless of their heroes, 'hero, hero.'

Here Carol Ann Duffy uses the myth as a personification of the earth and a plea for protecting it. If Atlas could carry the enormous, extraordinary burden of the earth, can we not even uphold our miniscule tasks of caring for it?

Also, as I read this, as is often the case with poetry, it takes on a more general meaning - and speaks of all burdens that we carry - the weight of them sometimes, the impossibility, the unbearable heaviness of being. But just look at the beauty that surrounds these states of burden, its variety and multitude, its surprise gifts and ultimately, 'love's lift.' 

Atlas - Carol Ann Duffy 

Give him strength, crouched on one knee in the dark
with the Earth on his back,
                                            balancing the seven seas,
the oceans, five, kneeling
in ruthless, empty, endless space
                                                     for grace
of whale, dolphin, sea-lion, shark, seal, fish, every kind
which swarms the waters. Hero.

                                                   Hard, too,
heavy to hold, the mountains;
burn of his neck and arms taking the strain –
Andes, Himalayas, Kilimanjaro –
give him strength, he heaves them high
to harvest rain from skies for streams
and rivers, he holds the rivers,
holds the Amazon, Ganges, Nile, hero, hero.

Hired by no-one, heard in a myth only, lonely,
he carries a planet’s weight,
                                              islands and continents,
the billions there, his ears the last to hear
their language, music, gunfire, prayer;
give him strength, strong girth, for elephants,
tigers, snow leopards, polar bears, bees, bats,
the last ounce of a humming-bird.

in infinite, bleak black,
                                     he bears where Earth is, nowhere,
head bowed, a genuflection to the shouldered dead,
the unborn’s hero, he is love’s lift;
sometimes the moon rolled to his feet, given.

(Taken from 'The Bees', Picador, 2011, London)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Day 67: After the Storm, Stars

In a week of remembering the moon landing, an approaching blue moon, and the beginning of the tropical hurricane season in the US, this poem makes perfect sense. For what else is the earth but 'an island in archipelagoes of stars'?

From Nobel Prize winning Caribbean poet, Derek Walcott.

After the Storm - Derek Walcott

There are so many islands!
As many islands as the stars at night
on that branched tree from which meteors are shaken
like falling fruit around the schooner Flight.
But things must fall, and so it always was,
on one hand Venus, on the other Mars;
fall, and are one, just as this earth is one
island in archipelagoes of stars.
My first friend was the sea. Now, is my last.
I stop talking now. I work, then I read,
cotching under a lantern hooked to the mast.
I try to forget what happiness was,
and when that don't work, I study the stars.
Sometimes is just me, and the soft-scissored foam
as the deck turn white and the moon open
a cloud like a door, and the light over me
is a road in white moonlight taking me home.
Shabine sang to you from the depths of the sea. 

Monday, 27 August 2012

Day 66: Days

All this talk of living and making the most of life, it all starts with individual days, moments. For, where else do we live but days?

Days - Philip Larkin

What are days for?
Days are where we live.   
They come, they wake us   
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:   
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor   
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Day 65: Moon Landing

RIP Neil Armstrong, first man to set foot on the moon, or 'to land on a dream.' 

Here is an amazing description of that moon landing by May Swenson, every line as riveting as the images at the time must have been. It is a language of wonder and awe, fear and  excitement. 

It is also a commentary on achieving dreams. We all have our moon landings that we dream of, and this poem gets us to thinking of when we finally get there and set foot on 'the forehead of a myth', what will it be like exactly? Along with the achievement, comes an emptying of mystery, an analysis of what was once an enigma, and a reality that may not live up to our own. 

Is it better to keep some dreams at a distance, to keep them in a  'magnate'  state, or to dare to pursue them?

Landing on the Moon - May Swenson

When in the mask of night there shone that cut,
we were riddled. A probe reached down
and stroked some nerve in us,
as if the glint from a wizard's eye, of silver,
slanted out of the mask of the unknown-
pit of riddles, the scratch-marked sky.

When, albino bowl on cloth of jet,
it spilled its virile rays,
our eyes enlarged, our blood reared with the waves.
We craved its secret, but unreachable
it held away from us, chilly and frail.
Distance kept it magnate. Enigma made it white.

When we learned to read it with our rod,
reflected light revealed
a lead mirror, a bruised shield
seamed with scars and shadow-soiled.
A half faced sycophant, its glitter borrowed,
rode around our throne.

On the moon there shines earth light
as moonlight shines upon the earth…
If on its obsidian we set our weightless foot,
and sniff no wind, and lick no rain
and feel no gauze between us and the Fire
will we trot its grassless skull, sick for the homelike shade?

Naked to the earth-beam we shall be,
who have arrived to map an apparition,
who walk upon the forehead of a myth.
Can flesh rub with symbol? If our ball
be iron, and not light, our earliest wish
eclipses. Dare we land upon a dream? 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Day 64: The Good, The Bad & The Real

There's a whole lot more to life than meets the eye, more than the bad and the routine and the commonplace - more good stuff, more poetry than you could believe.

Nothing like a bit of Bukowski's hard-earned wisdom to put life on its right axis again.

If we take -  Charles Bukowski

if we take what we can see-
the engines driving us mad,
lovers finally hating;
this fish in the market
staring upward into our minds;
flowers rotting, flies web-caught;
riots, roars of caged lions,
clowns in love with dollar bills,
nations moving people like pawns;
daylight thieves with beautiful
nighttime wives and wines;
the crowded jails,
the commonplace unemployed,
dying grass, 2-bit fires;
men old enough to love the grave.

These things, and others, in content
show life swinging on rotten axis.

But they've left us a bit of music
and a spiked show in the corner,
a jigger of scotch, a blue necktie,
a small volume of poems by Rimbaud,
a horse running as if the devil were
twisting his tail
over the bluegrass and screaming, and then,
love again
like a streetcar turning the corner
on time,
the city waiting,
the wine and the flowers
the water walking across the lake
and summer and winter and summer and summer
and winter again.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Day 63: New York

For some reason, I love reading Frank O' Hara on a Friday. 

Maybe it's that New York Friday vibe in his poems - busy, bustling, anticipatory, exciting. And the energy of his almost prose-like stream of consciousness observations. He said that poetry should be written 'on the nerve', not planned with the precision of rhyme and meter and such. And the result: immediate and fresh and skip-along excitement and true.

It's hard to read this poem and not picture New York. And hard too, not to feel a swing in your step, like today is a V-Day not a D-Day, that we are all winning cause we are all alive and able to experience anything, everything, whenever we want, whenever we become aware of the world we're in (and the world in us).

Have a great day!

Steps - Frank O' Hara
How funny you are today New York
like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime
and St. Bridget's steeple leaning a little to the left

here I have just jumped out of a bed full of V-days
(I got tired of D-days) and blue you there still
accepts me foolish and free
all I want is a room up there
and you in it
and even the traffic halt so thick is a way
for people to rub up against each other
and when their surgical appliances lock
they stay together
for the rest of the day (what a day)
I go by to check a slide and I say
that painting's not so blue

where's Lana Turner
she's out eating
and Garbo's backstage at the Met
everyone's taking their coat off
so they can show a rib-cage to the rib-watchers
and the park's full of dancers with their tights and shoes
in little bags
who are often mistaken for worker-outers at the West Side Y
why not
the Pittsburgh Pirates shout because they won
and in a sense we're all winning
we're alive

the apartment was vacated by a gay couple
who moved to the country for fun
they moved a day too soon
even the stabbings are helping the population explosion
though in the wrong country
and all those liars have left the UN
the Seagram Building's no longer rivalled in interest
not that we need liquor (we just like it)

and the little box is out on the sidewalk
next to the delicatessen
so the old man can sit on it and drink beer
and get knocked off it by his wife later in the day
while the sun is still shining

oh god it's wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Day 62: Icarus

Sometimes big things happen and go unnoticed, obscured by small things. 

This is perfectly illustrated in the painting above, Breughel's 'The Fall of Icarus' which shows the mythic character's death plunge from the sky to sea. But you'll have to look closely to see him, head first in the water. It's as if it's a mere insignificant detail in the scene. 

This is very much the case alright with death and hurt and disappointment. People hardly notice. For life must go on after all.  

Here's William Carlos Williams' take on the painting, who manages to structure the poem exactly like the painting, with the fall coming quite casually at the end, a by-the-way footnote. 

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus - William Carlos Williams

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Day 61: Tea

Poetry glorifies and elevates the small things in life until they glow with shining significance. Love, also, does this. In both states, simple objects can take on all the weight and meaning of complex feelings.

An ordinary ritual, such as making tea, is akin to an exotic one when you are in love, as we see here in this endearing poem by Carol Ann Duffy. Smitten, to say the least.

Tea - Carol Ann Duffy

I like pouring your tea, lifting
the heavy pot, and tipping it up,
so the fragrant liquid streams in your china cup.

Or when you’re away, or at work,
I like to think of your cupped hands as you sip,
as you sip, of the faint half-smile of your lips.

I like the questions – sugar? – milk? –
and the answers I don’t know by heart, yet,
for I see your soul in your eyes, and I forget.

Jasmine, Gunpowder, Assam, Earl Grey, Ceylon,
I love tea’s names. Which tea would you like? I say
but it’s any tea for you, please, any time of day,

as the women harvest the slopes
for the sweetest leaves, on Mount Wu-Yi,
and I am your lover, smitten, straining your tea.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Day 60: Iris

Myth supplies endless subject matter for poetry. Here, in this lyrical poem from Alice Oswald, we have a hymn to Iris, the Greek goddess of the rainbow. She was depicted in myths as a messenger to the other gods. 

And in this poem, the rainbow is depicted as much the same - a message of hope, of building bridges, of communication - 'may impossible rifts be often delicately crossed...may the unfixed forms of water be warily leaned over....may two fields be bridged by a stile', and in the loveliest line, 'two hearts by the tilting footbridge of a glance.'  All from the hope a rainbow provides, a possibility, 'an afterglow of a passing-through.'

A beautiful poem, with beautiful language. Enjoy.

Hymn to Iris - Alice Oswald

quick moving goddess of the rainbow
you whose being is only an afterglow of a passing-through
put your hands
put your heaven-taken shape down
on the ground. now. anywhere
like a bent down bough of nothing
a bridge built out of the linked cells of thin air
and let there be instantly in its underlight -
at street corners, on swings, out of car windows -
a three-moment blessing for all bridges
may impossible rifts be often delicately crossed
by bridges of two thrown ropes or one dropped plank
may the unfixed forms of water be warily leaned over
on flexible high bridges, huge iron sketches of the mathematics of strain
and bridges of see-through stone, the living-space of drips and echoes
may two fields be bridged by a stile
and two hearts by the tilting footbridge of a glance
and may I often wake on the broken bridge of a word,
like in the wind the trace of a web. tethered to nothing

Taken from © Woods Etc (Faber & Faber, London,  2006)
 (*Artwork by Josephine Wall)

Monday, 20 August 2012

Day 59: Weather Forecast

Where I live, people talk about the weather a lot. It takes over from conventional greetings. What you hear instead of 'Hi, how are you?' are meteorological observations such as 'lovely day,' 'beautiful day,' 'it's turned cold now,' 'a bit showery', 'you couldn't trust it could you,' 'terrible day' - which substitute for the universal personal greetings. 

Sometimes I think it could be code for emotional weather, bad day = sad day and the likes.  Or maybe like Roger McGough outlines here, it could be code for all kinds of physical symptoms. Hmm.

The Health Forecast - Roger McGough

Well, it's been a disappointing day
in most parts, has it not?
So, let's have a look at tomorrow's charts
and see what we've got.

Let's start with the head, where tonight
a depression centred over the brain
will lift. Dark clouds move away
and pain will be widespread but light.

Exposed areas around the neck and shoulders
will be cold (if not wearing a vest)
and there may be dandruff on high ground
especially in the west.

Further inland:
Tomorrow will begin with a terrible thirst.
Lungs will be cloudy at first,
in some places for most of the day,
and that fog in the throat
simply won't go away.
So keep well wrapped up, won't you?

For central areas the outlook is fairly bright
although the liver seems unsettled
after a heavy night,
and a belt of high pressure, if worn too tight,
may cause discomfort.

Further south it will be mainly dry
although showers are expected in private parts
and winds will be high,
reaching a gale force incontinent.
Some thunder.

Around midnight, this heavy front
is expected to move in,
resulting in cyclonic highs
in and round the upper thighs.

Temperatures will rise
and knees may well seize up in the heat.
And as for the feet,
perspiration will be widespread
resulting in a sweaty bedspread.

And the outlook for the weak?
Not as good as for the strong, I'm afraid.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Day 58: Maintenance

There are indeed all types of love. And here's one that many of us may be familiar with.

Atlas - U.A. Fanthorpe

There is a kind of love called maintenance
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it

Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;

Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes; which deals with dentists

And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds

The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living, which is Atlas.

And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dryrotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Day 57: Summer Day

Beautiful, sunny, summer days really make us appreciate life more. We lull and laze in sunshine and blue skies and look more at our surroundings.

But - they also make us think. This really is a precious life - and we shouldn't waste a moment of it.

Mary Oliver, as always, for a check-in to what really matters.

The Summer Day - Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Day 56: Summer Stars

Is there anything comparable to summer nights? Clear and warm and starry and the feeling that the whole universe is a mere stone's throw away, and there for the taking.

Summer Stars - Carl Sandburg

Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long-arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Day 55: Pause

I just have to post another Charles Bukowski poem as it is his birthday today. A reminder to stop, pause, look and listen for a minute lest we miss this thing called life.

area of pause - Charles Bukowski

 you have to have it or the walls will close
you have to give everything up, throw it
away, everything away.
you have to look at what you look at
or think what you think
or do what you do
don't do
without considering personal
without accepting guidance.

people are worn away with
they hide in common
their concerns are herd

few have the ability to stare
at an old shoe for
ten minutes
or to think of odd things
like who invented the

they become unalive
because they are unable to
undo themselves
roll clear.
listen to their untrue
laughter, then

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Day 54: Risk

Some poems say everything they have to and more in a short space. Sometimes truth is as simple as that. 

And what these short poems do best is take an image, a comparison, a metaphor, a symbol and weave it in words to illuminate a truth. So there's absolutely no room for doubt. And plenty of room for beauty in realisation.

Like in this much-quoted poem by Anais Nin.

Risk - Anais Nin

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to blossom.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Day 53: Only in Dreams

How can the dream world compare to reality? 

We are all familiar with dreams of flying and then waking up slightly deflated. And then there are those dreams where everything seems possible and you wake up enthused and inspired, 'your heart...beating with pure joy, pure helium', only for it to dissipate into the light of dawn and the dejection of reality, 'you try to rise and rise, but you cannot.'

I've never seen this feeling described so aptly as in this poem by Margaret Atwood. As a prose writer, she is a master at vivid imagery, which is amplified all the more in her poetry, as are her depictions of reality - or in this case - the difference between dreams and reality, hope and doubt, happiness and sorrow, possibilities and inabilities.

Flying Inside Your Own Body - Margaret Atwood

Your lungs fill & spread themselves,
wings of pink blood, and your bones
empty themselves and become hollow.
When you breathe in you’ll lift like a balloon
and your heart is light too & huge,
beating with pure joy, pure helium.
The sun’s white winds blow through you,
there’s nothing above you,
you see the earth now as an oval jewel,
radiant & seablue with love.
It’s only in dreams you can do this.
Waking, your heart is a shaken fist,
a fine dust clogs the air you breathe in;
the sun’s a hot copper weight pressing straight
down on the thick pink rind of your skull.
It’s always the moment just before gunshot.
You try & try to rise but you cannot. 

Monday, 13 August 2012

Day 52: You

 Poetry speaks to each one of us individually. It shows us how we belong to the world. How everything is a part of us. 

Here's a poem a little more upfront than some on this aspect. Sometimes we need a direct inspirational pep-talk like this one to take heed of ourselves and the importance of our existence - after all, 'the earth has squeezed you in, found you space; any loss of face you feel is solely yours.' What a way to put it! But exactly right of course.

You - Dennis O'Driscoll

Be yourself: show your flyblown eyes
to the world, give no cause for concern,
wash the paunchy body whose means you
live within, suffer the illnesses
that are your prerogative alone - 

the prognosis refers to nobody but you;
you it is who gets up every morning
in your skin, you who chews your dinner
with your mercury-filled teeth, gaining
garlic breath or weight, you dreading,

you hoping, you regretting, you interloping.
The earth has squeezed you in, found you space;
any loss of face you feel is solely yours - 
you with the same old daily moods, debts,
intuitions, food fads, pet hates, Achilles' heels. 

You carry on as best you can the task of being,
whole-time, you; you in wake and you in dream,
at all hours, weekly, monthly, yearly, life,
full of yourself as a tallow candle is of fat,
wallowing in self-denial, self-esteem. 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Day 51: Meteors

The annual Perseids meteor shower happens this weekend. I've never managed to see a shooting star yet, but I still get excited by the whole concept and connotations of them.

Shooting stars and meteor showers can mean so many different things, can be used and viewed as many different metaphors and symbols , most especially of realisation and revelation. 

Like in this poem by amazing American poet Eleanor Lerman, where the news of a meteor shower inspires some existentialist contemplation.  

*(I was surprised to find hardly any poems on the subject matter of meteors! Apart from the classic Whitman one, 'Year of Meteors'. Does anyone out there know of any more?  I'd love to know!)

The Mystery of Meteors - Eleanor Lerman

I am out before dawn, marching a small dog through a meager park 
Boulevards angle away, newspapers fly around like blind white birds 
Two days in a row I have not seen the meteors
though the radio news says they are overhead 
Leonid's brimstones are barred by clouds; I cannot read 
the signs in heaven, I cannot see night rendered into fire

And yet I do believe a net of glitter is above me 
You would not think I still knew these things:
I get on the train, I buy the food, I sweep, discuss, 
consider gloves or boots, and in the summer, 
open windows, find beads to string with pearls 
You would not think that I had survived 
anything but the life you see me living now

In the darkness, the dog stops and sniffs the air 
She has been alone, she has known danger, 
and so now she watches for it always 
and I agree, with the conviction of my mistakes. 
But in the second part of my life, slowly, slowly, 
I begin to counsel bravery. Slowly, slowly, 
I begin to feel the planets turning, and I am turning 
toward the crackling shower of their sparks

These are the mysteries I could not approach when I was younger:
the boulevards, the meteors, the deep desires that split the sky
Walking down the paths of the cold park
I remember myself, the one who can wait out anything
So I caution the dog to go silently, to bear with me 
the burden of knowing what spins on and on above our heads

For this is our reward:Come Armageddon, come fire or flood, 
come love, not love, millennia of portents-- 
there is a future in which the dog and I are laughing 
Born into it, the mystery, I know we will be saved

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Day 50: Bad People, Sad People

 Poetry tells it as it is. And that means it's not always roses and sunshine. Poets are not oblivious to the bad stuff in life - on the contrary, they feel it keenly.

Poems like this one from Charles Bukowski make us think,  hit us between the eyes with the truth, as devastating as a bullet. This is a poem that scrapes bone. 'there is a loneliness in this world so great that you can see it in the slow movement of the hands of a clock.'

You can't avoid the truth of reality. But you can try and hope against it, rise above it, even change it. To be a realist, even a dirty realist like Bukowski, does not mean resigning to cynicism. Poetry is the complete opposite of cynicism, filled with realisation, reaction and the hint of hope. 

The Crunch - Charles Bukowski

too much too little

too fat
too thin
or nobody.

laughter or


strangers with faces like
the backs of
thumb tacks

armies running through
streets of blood
waving winebottles
bayoneting and fucking

an old guy in a cheap room
with a photograph of M. Monroe.

there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock

people so tired
either by love or no love.

people just are not good to each other
one on one.

the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.

we are afraid.

our educational system tells us
that we can all be
big-ass winners

it hasn't told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.

or the terror of one person
aching in one place

unspoken to

watering a plant.

people are not good to each other.
people are not good to each other.
people are not good to each other.

I suppose they never will be.
I don't ask them to be.

but sometimes I think about

the beads will swing
the clouds will cloud
and the killer will behead the child
like taking a bite out of an ice cream cone.

too much
too little

too fat
too thin
or nobody

more haters than lovers.

people are not good to each other.
perhaps if they were
our deaths would not be so sad.

meanwhile I look at young girls
flowers of chance.

there must be a way.

surely there must be a way that we have not yet
thought of.

who put this brain inside of me?

it cries
it demands
it says that there is a chance.

it will not say

Friday, 10 August 2012

Day 49: Honey Light

Now to introduce one of the great modernist poets: William Carlos Williams, known for his pioneering imagism.

Here's his pretty true account of love, 'a honey stain' upon the world, everything 'yellow, yellow, yellow', on a sunny, honey, yellow day.  Enjoy. 

A Love Song - William Carlos Williams

What have I to say to you
When we shall meet?
I lie here thinking of you.

The stain of love
Is upon the world.
Yellow, yellow, yellow,
It eats into the leaves,
Smears with saffron
The horned branches that lean
Against a smooth purple sky.

There is no light—
Only a honey-thick stain
That drips from leaf to leaf
And limb to limb
Spoiling the colours
Of the whole world.

I am alone.
The weight of love
Has buoyed me up
Till my head
Knocks against the sky.

See me!
My hair is dripping with nectar—
Starlings carry it
On their black wings.
See, at last
My arms and my hands
Are lying idle.

How can I tell
If I shall ever love you again
As I do now?

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Day 48: Summer Love Poem

Sun and summer are perfect subject matter for love. And used to endearing effect here in this short poem.

Simple, but very sweet.

Summer Love Poem - Nikki Giovanni

Clouds float by on a summer sky
I hop scotch over to you.

Rainbows arch from ground to gold
I climb over to you.

Thunder grumbles, lightning tumbles
and I bounce over to you.

Sun beams back and catches me
smiling over at you.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Day 47: Day dream

Poetry embalms many of the greatest thoughts we have in a language that is both befitting and beautiful. 

Like in this poem from A.S.J. Tessimond where we get a glimpse of what a peaceful ideal could look like.

I love the imagery in this poem - 'and people will 'untie themselves, as string is unknotted.' His vision of a happy ever-after is so simple and affecting, it's not hard to imagine. 

The very act of putting these and any imaginings into written words, makes them all the more real - don't you think?

Day Dream - A.S.J Tessimond

One day people will touch and talk perhaps
And loving be natural as breathing and warm as
And people will untie themselves, as string is unknotted,
Unfold and yawn and stretch and spread their fingers,
Unfurl, uncurl like seaweed returned to the sea,
And work will be simple and swift
as a seagull flying,
And play will be casual and quiet
as a seagull settling,
And the clocks will stop, and no one will wonder
or care or notice,
And people will smile without reason,
Even in winter, even in the rain. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Day 46: Journey

When you can't get a handle on your thoughts or feelings - look to poetry. It offers crystal clear clarification.

How many times have you read a poem and thought, 'yes, that's exactly what I'm feeling.'  How many times has it shed light on a problem or confusion?

Because poetry is truth. Poetry is wisdom. It gives good advice. And it has answers, answers you may already know deep down, as a whisper, but just need to hear them confirmed, see them shining true in words. 

Here is a poem that does exactly this.

The Journey - Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save. 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Day 45: Dreams

Dreams are the very stuff of life, and of poetry. 

And who better to translate their infinite importance than EE Cummings in his signature snappy, enigmatic, energetic style? This poem is like stardust, glittering and sparkling on the page with essential truths for living. A poem for inhaling, remembering, and living.

dive for dreams - ee cummings

dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)

trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backward)

honour the past
but welcome the future
(and dance your death
away at the wedding)

never mind a world
with its villains or heroes
(for god likes girls
and tomorrow and the earth)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Day 44: Self Love

One simple ingredient in loving your life is loving yourself. 

It is the love that comes after all other love and the love that should come before it too. And the love that is always there, waiting for us to recognise and embrace it. 

Derek Walcott says it best here in his poem 'Love After Love,' - 'Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you/all your life, whom you ignored/for another, who knows you by heart.'

Even Oprah recommends this poem to be read on a daily basis alongside our routine, so that we may learn to simply sit and feast on our lives.

Love After Love - Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Day 43: Carry Your Heart

When you love someone, you just can't shake them. Everywhere you go, they go with you. And no poem captures this more beautifully than ee cummings' 'i carry your heart with me.' 

Most of you will know this poem as it's become so popular in its own right over the years, from use in anthologies, TV shows, films and all manner of popular culture (there are even celebrities reading it on YouTube). EE Cummings is certainly a favourite poet de jour. And one who knew the true value and mystery and magic of love.


i carry your heart with me - ee cummings

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)

Friday, 3 August 2012

Day 42: Numerology


Here's a quirky and cool little poem based on the 'say what you see' technique. Who would have thought numbers to be so interesting?? 

I especially love the descriptions of number 2 - 'a question seated' and number 7, 'a step detached from its stair.' Of course! That's exactly what they conjure up!

This was one of the first poems I studied in a poetry module at university - to show that poetry can be exciting and original and take anything for subject-matter. Here is a poem that proves the great improvising space of the imagination, the mathematics of precise description and the endless possibilities of originality.

Read it and marvel at the ingenuity.

Cardinal Ideograms - May Swenson

0    A mouth.   Can blow or breathe,
      be a funnel, or Hello.

1    A grass blade or a cut.

2    A question seated.   And a proud
      bird's neck.

3    Shallow mitten for two-fingered hand.

4    Three-cornered hut
      on one stilt.   Sometimes built
      so the roof gapes.

5    A policeman.   Polite.
      Wearing visored cap.

6    O unrolling,
      tape of ambiguous length
      on which is written the mystery
      of everything curly.

7    A step,
      detached from its stair.

8    The universe in diagram:
      A cosmic hourglass.
      (Note enigmatic shape,
      absence of any value of origin,
      how end overlaps beginning.)
      Unknotted like a shoelace
      and whipped back and forth,
      can serve as a model of time.

9    Lorgnette for the right eye.
      In England or if you are Alice
      the stem is on the left.

10   A grass blade or a cut
      companioned by a mouth.
      Open?   Open.   Shut?   Shut.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Day 41: Wedding

I love Alice Oswald.  I love her command of language, how she makes it soar and shimmy and swoon across the page to exquisite effect.

The poem is called 'Wedding', but it expands above and beyond its subject matter: namely the miraculous manifestations of love. It reminds me of a magic trick, as each lilting line and idea transforms into the next, brilliantly evoking the pure and transforming nature of love.

A sonnet, a lullaby, a love song, a lucky charm.  Enjoy.

Wedding - Alice Oswald

From time to time our love is like a sail
and when the sail begins to alternate
from tack to tack, it's like a swallowtail
and when the swallow flies it's like a coat;
and if the coat is yours, it has a tear
like a wide mouth and when the mouth begins
to draw the wind, it's like a trumpeter
and when the trumpet blows, it blows like millions . . .
and this, my love, when millions come and go
beyond the need of us, is like a trick;
and when the trick begins, it's like a toe
tip-toeing on a rope, which is like luck;
and when the luck begins, it's like a wedding,
which is like love, which is like everything.