Sunday, 30 June 2013

Day 345: Wait


The best poems are the ones you stumble upon by accident and which say to you just exactly what it is you need to hear at that particular moment in time. An illuminated wisdom that awes every word. Like this one ~

Wait  - Galway Kinnell

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become interesting.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again;
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. The desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a little and listen:
music of hair,
music of pain,
music of looms weaving our love again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Day 344: Saturday

Lazy Saturdays are hard to beat, especially that utmost contented feeling they bring...

Saturday - Fleur Adcock

I am sitting on the step
drinking coffee and
smoking, listening to jazz.
The smoke separates
two scents: fresh paint in the house
behind me; in front,
            The neighbours cut
back our lilac tree -
it shaded their net garden.
The buddleia will
be next, no doubt; but bees and
all those butterflies
approve of our shaggy trees.


I am painting the front door
with such thick juicy
paint I could almost eat it.
People going past
with their shopping stare at my
bare legs and old shirt.
The door will be sea-green.
black cat walked across
the painted step and left a
delicate paw-trail.
I swore at her and frightened
two little girls - this
street is given to children.

The other cat is younger,
white and tabby, fat,
with a hoarse voice. In summer
she sleeps all day long
in the rosebay willow-herb,
too lazy to walk
on paint.
           Andrew is upstairs;
having discovered
quick-drying non-drip gloss, he
is old enough now
to paint all his furniture
tangerine and the
woodwork green; he is singing.

I am lying in the sun,
in the garden. Bees
dive on white clover beside
my ears. The sky is
Greek blue, with a vapour-trail
chalked right across it.
My transistor radio
talks about the moon.

I am floating in the sky.
Below me the house
crouches among its trees like
a cat in long grass.
I want to stroke its roof-ridge
but I think I can
already hear it purring.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Day 343: Strawberry Wine

Ryan Adams is an extraordinary singer-songwriter, who is also, in his own right, a poet too. (He even has two books of poetry published).

I was  listening to his song 'Strawberry Wine' yesterday and was regaled by how poetic the lyrics are. And how the music so perfectly fits the lyrics as to achieve something beautiful, a proper fusion of words and music.

Here, listen and read:

Strawberry Wine - Ryan Adams

Last night in the street collapsed on itself
In fact, it broke right in two
And I fell in
The strawberry vines
Into a pool of strawberry wine
Strawberry wine and clouds
Burning in the desert, surrounded in flowers
But the stems broke the armor
And the morning comes
Until it's all just the same things again
Oh god

Don't spend too much time on the other side
Let the daylight in

Before you get old and you can't break out of it
My old friend
'Cause its getting winter, and if you want any flowers
You gotta get your seeds in
And I worry about you
Why? Because you want me to

Can you still have any famous last words
If you're somebody nobody knows
I don't know
Somebody go and ask Clair
She's been dead twenty years just look at her hair
Strawberry blonde with curls
She gets hair done then she gossips
With the younger waitress girls at the bar
The old Irish rose
Drinking strawberry wine
Until it comes out her nose

She spent too much time on the other side
And she forgot to let the daylight in

Before you get old you'd better break out of it
My old friend
'Cause its getting winter and if you want any flowers
You gotta get your seeds in to the ground
And I worry about you
Why? Because you want me too

This fella downtown, he jumped off a bridge
He was angry about a letter he received from his friend
He fell in
To the arms of the most beautiful girls
That have ever, ever lived in the history of the world
And with nothing left to lose he got screwed
He sold his apartment before they made him move
Then he jumped straight in
To the San Francisco Bay
Now he lives on Molly's farm
Picking berries all day

Don't spend too much time on the other side
Let the daylight in

Marty was a kid when he learned to steal boats
His dad was a deejay on the radio
He fell in
To a life of riverboating crime
He's the man you see in prison
If you want strawberry wine
Strawberry wine and smokes
He sent a letter to his friend
Explaining one night on coke
He and Clair
Jumped in to the strawberry vines
And lord knows you get lost
On that strawberry wine

Don't spend too much time on the other side
Let the daylight in

Now I'm getting old and I gotta break out of it
My old friend
'Cause its getting winter and if I want any flowers
I gotta get those seeds in to the ground
And if you worry about me
Don't bother
I'll be fine
I'm just sitting here laughing
Little old me and my
Strawberry wine

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Day 342: Poem for 3am

Connection, it's a marvellous thing.

Poem To Be Read at 3am - Donald Justice

Excepting the diner
On the outskirts
The town of Ladora
At 3 A.M.
Was dark but
For my headlights
And up in
One second-story room
A single light
Where someone
Was sick or
Perhaps reading
As I drove past
At seventy
Not thinking
This poem
Is for whoever
Had the light on

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Day 341: Peonies

'and there it is again -
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.'

Big beautiful peonies, the ultimate summer flower. Their beauty is so striking that it always seems to say something. Here, Mary Oliver translates for us.

Peonies - Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open -
pools of lace,
white and pink -
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities -
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again -
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Day 340: Preferable Possibilities

Art by Lori Portka
Life is for choosing, not adhering by.  It's full of variety, not limits. And it's our own to define.

Possibilities - Wislawa Szymborska

I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love's concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms' fairy tales to the newspapers' front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven't mentioned here
to many things I've also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.       

Monday, 24 June 2013

Day 339: Talking to the Sun


It would be nice to be awoken by this sun! 

A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island - Frank O'Hara

The Sun woke me this morning loud
and clear, saying "Hey! I've been
trying to wake you up for fifteen
minutes. Don't be so rude, you are
only the second poet I've ever chosen
to speak to personally

so why
aren't you more attentive? If I could
burn you through the window I would
to wake you up. I can't hang around
here all day."

"Sorry, Sun, I stayed
up late last night talking to Hal."

"When I woke up Mayakovsky he was
a lot more prompt" the Sun said
petulantly. "Most people are up
already waiting to see if I'm going
to put in an appearance."

I tried
to apologize "I missed you yesterday."
"That's better" he said. "I didn't
know you'd come out." "You may be
wondering why I've come so close?"
"Yes" I said beginning to feel hot
wondering if maybe he wasn't burning me

"Frankly I wanted to tell you
I like your poetry. I see a lot
on my rounds and you're okay. You may
not be the greatest thing on earth, but
you're different. Now, I've heard some
say you're crazy, they being excessively
calm themselves to my mind, and other
crazy poets think that you're a boring
reactionary. Not me.

Just keep on
like I do and pay no attention. You'll
find that people always will complain
about the atmosphere, either too hot
or too cold too bright or too dark, days
too short or too long.

If you don't appear
at all one day they think you're lazy
or dead. Just keep right on, I like it.

And don't worry about your lineage
poetic or natural. The Sun shines on
the jungle, you know, on the tundra
the sea, the ghetto. Wherever you were
I knew it and saw you moving. I was waiting
for you to get to work.

And now that you
are making your own days, so to speak,
even if no one reads you but me
you won't be depressed. Not
everyone can look up, even at me. It
hurts their eyes."
"Oh Sun, I'm so grateful to you!"

"Thanks and remember I'm watching. It's
easier for me to speak to you out
here. I don't have to slide down
between buildings to get your ear.
I know you love Manhattan, but
you ought to look up more often.

always embrace things, people earth
sky stars, as I do, freely and with
the appropriate sense of space. That
is your inclination, known in the heavens
and you should follow it to hell, if
necessary, which I doubt.

Maybe we'll
speak again in Africa, of which I too
am specially fond. Go back to sleep now
Frank, and I may leave a tiny poem
in that brain of yours as my farewell."

"Sun, don't go!" I was awake
at last. "No, go I must, they're calling
"Who are they?"

Rising he said "Some
day you'll know. They're calling to you
too." Darkly he rose, and then I slept. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Day 338: Summer Song

Watch out for that Supermoon tonight smiling down on us!

Summer Song - William Carlos Williams

Wanderer moon
smiling a
faintly ironical smile
at this
brilliant, dew-moistened
summer morning,—
a detached
sleepily indifferent
smile, a
wanderer's smile,—
if I should
buy a shirt
your color and
put on a necktie
where would they carry me?
Wanderer moon smiling a faintly ironical smile at this brilliant, dew-moistened summer morning,— a detached sleepily indifferent smile, a wanderer's smile,— if I should buy a shirt your color and put on a necktie sky-blue where would they carry me? - See more at:

Wanderer moon smiling a faintly ironical smile at this brilliant, dew-moistened summer morning,— a detached sleepily indifferent smile, a wanderer's smile,— if I should buy a shirt your color and put on a necktie sky-blue where would they carry me? - See more at:
Wanderer moon smiling a faintly ironical smile at this brilliant, dew-moistened summer morning,— a detached sleepily indifferent smile, a wanderer's smile,— if I should buy a shirt your color and put on a necktie sky-blue where would they carry me? - See more at:

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Day 337: Summer Sky

'True poems flee...' They do. But my motto - catch 'em while you can!

Poem 1472 - Emily Dickinson

To see the Summer Sky
Is poetry, though never in the book it lie -
True poems flee -

Friday, 21 June 2013

Day 336: Summer Solstice: Beauty & Bright

This is maybe the most beautiful poem I've read in a long time.
(Happy Summer Solstice!)
Summer Solstice - Stacy Cassarino
I wanted to see where beauty comes from
without you in the world, hauling my heart
across sixty acres of northeast meadow,
my pockets filling with flowers.
Then I remembered,
it’s you I miss in the brightness
and body of every living name:
rattlebox, yarrow, wild vetch.
You are the green wonder of June,
root and quasar, the thirst for salt.
When I finally understand that people fail
at love, what is left but cinquefoil, thistle,
the paper wings of the dragonfly
aeroplaning the soul with a sudden blue hilarity?
If I get the story right, desire is continuous,
equatorial. There is still so much
I want to know: what you believe
can never be removed from us,
what you dreamed on Walnut Street
in the unanswerable dark of your childhood,
learning pleasure on your own.
Tell me our story: are we impetuous,
are we kind to each other, do we surrender
to what the mind cannot think past?
Where is the evidence I will learn
to be good at loving?
The black dog orbits the horseshoe pond
for treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.
There are violet hills,
there is the covenant of duskbirds.
The moon comes over the mountain
like a big peach, and I want to tell you
what I couldn’t say the night we rushed
North, how I love the seriousness of your fingers
and the way you go into yourself,
calling my half-name like a secret.
I stand between taproot and treespire.
Here is the compass rose
to help me live through this.
Here are twelve ways of knowing
what blooms even in the blindness
of such longing. Yellow oxeye,
viper’s bugloss with its set of pink arms
pleading do not forget me.
We hunger for eloquence.
We measure the isopleths.
I am visiting my life with reckless plenitude.
The air is fragrant with tiny strawberries.
Fireflies turn on their electric wills:
an effulgence. Let me come back
whole, let me remember how to touch you     
before it is too late.


Thursday, 20 June 2013

Day 335: Fatherly Advice


To A Sad Daughter - Michael Ondaatje

All night long the hockey pictures
gaze down at you
sleeping in your tracksuit.
Belligerent goalies are your ideal.
Threats of being traded
cuts and wounds
--all this pleases you.
O my god! you say at breakfast
reading the sports page over the Alpen
as another player breaks his ankle
or assaults the coach.

When I thought of daughters
I wasn't expecting this
but I like this more.
I like all your faults
even your purple moods
when you retreat from everyone
to sit in bed under a quilt.
And when I say 'like'
I mean of course 'love'
but that embarrasses you.
You who feel superior to black and white movies
(coaxed for hours to see Casablanca)
though you were moved
by Creature from the Black Lagoon.

One day I'll come swimming
beside your ship or someone will
and if you hear the siren
listen to it. For if you close your ears
only nothing happens. You will never change.

I don't care if you risk
your life to angry goalies
creatures with webbed feet.
You can enter their caves and castles
their glass laboratories. Just
don't be fooled by anyone but yourself.

This is the first lecture I've given you.
You're 'sweet sixteen' you said.
I'd rather be your closest friend
than your father. I'm not good at advice
you know that, but ride
the ceremonies
until they grow dark.

Sometimes you are so busy
discovering your friends
I ache with loss
--but that is greed.
And sometimes I've gone
into my purple world
and lost you.

One afternoon I stepped
into your room. You were sitting
at the desk where I now write this.
Forsythia outside the window
and sun spilled over you
like a thick yellow miracle
as if another planet
was coaxing you out of the house
-all those possible worlds!-
and you, meanwhile, busy with mathematics.

I cannot look at forsythia now
without loss, or joy for you.
You step delicately
into the wild world
and your real prize will be
the frantic search.
Want everything. If you break
break going out not in.
How you live your life I don't care
but I'll sell my arms for you,
hold your secrets forever.

If I speak of death
which you fear now, greatly,
it is without answers.
except that each
one we know is
in our blood.
Don't recall graves.
Memory is permanent.
Remember the afternoon's
yellow suburban annunciation.
Your goalie
in his frightening mask
dreams perhaps
of gentleness.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Day 334: All the Way

Only one way to approach writing. Or anything, for that matter, that you're passionate about. 

Roll the Dice - Charles Bukowski
if you’re going to try, go all the
otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.

go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with

do it, do it, do it.
do it.

all the way
all the way.

you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter, its
the only good fight
there is. 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Day 333: Found at Sea


The sea, a source of constant comfort to us humans. It is indeed where we go to find ourselves.

maggie and milly and molly and may - ee cummings

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea

Monday, 17 June 2013

Day 332: Ode to Air


'I wrapped myself/in his flag of sky/blue silk...'

Monday, Monday, you're never miraculous, so maybe this will help. Air, an ordinary thing, but a wondrous one as well, as Pablo Neruda shows us most magnificently here:

Ode to the Air - Pablo Neruda

Walking down a path
I met the air,
saluted it and said
“It makes me happy
that for once
you left your transparency,
let’s talk.”
He tirelessly
danced, moved leaves,
beat the dust
from my soles
with his laughter,
and lifting all
his blue rigging,
his skeleton of glass,
his eyelids’ breeze,
immobile as a mast
he stood listening to me.
I kissed the cape
of heaven’s king,
I wrapped myself
in his flag of sky
blue silk
and said:
king and comrade,
needle, corolla, bird,
I don’t know who you are but
I ask one thing –
don’t sell yourself.
The water sold itself
and from the desert’s
I’ve seen
the last drops
and the poor world, the people
walking with their thirst
staggering in the sand.
I saw the light
at night
the great light in the house
of the rich.
All is dawn in the
new hanging gardens,
all is dark
in the terrible
shadow of the valley.
From there, the night,
mother step mother,
goes out with a dagger in the midst
of her owl’s eyes,
and a scream, a crime,
arises and extinguishes,
swallowed by shadow.
No, air,
don’t sell yourself,
don’t be channeled,
don’t be entubed,
don’t be boxed,
don’t be stamped out in pills,
don’t be bottled,
be careful!
when you need me,
I am the poet son
of the poor, brother
in flesh and brother
in law
of the poor, of everywhere,
of my country and all the others,
of the poor who live on the river,
of those who live in the heights
of the vertical mountains,
break rock,
nail boards,
sew clothes,
cut wood,
haul earth,
and for this
I want them to breathe,
you are all they have,
this is why
you are
so they can see
what tomorrow brings,
for this
you exist,
catch your breath,
don’t shackle yourself,
don’t fix yourself to anyone
who comes in a car
to examine you,
leave them,
laugh at them,
flee from them through the shadows,
don’t accept
their propositions,
we’ll go together
dancing through the world,
knocking the blossoms
from the apple trees,
entering windows,
from yesterday and tomorrow,
the day is coming
when we will liberate
the light and the water,
earth and men,
and all will be
for all, as you are.
For this, for now,
be careful!
And come with me,
much remains
that dances and sings,
let’s go
the length of the sea,
to the height of the mountains,
let’s go
where the new spring
is flowering
and in one gust of wind
and song
we’ll share the flowers,
the scent, the fruit,
the air
of tomorrow.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Day 331: Hope

I'd quote some of my favourite descriptions in this poem, but there are too many...!

Hope is a Tattered Flag - Carl Sandburg

Hope is a tattered flag and a dream of time.
Hope is a heartspun word, the rainbow, the shadblow in white
The evening star inviolable over the coal mines,
The shimmer of northern lights across a bitter winter night,
The blue hills beyond the smoke of the steel works,
The birds who go on singing to their mates in peace, war, peace,
The ten-cent crocus bulb blooming in a used-car salesroom,
The horseshoe over the door, the luckpiece in the pocket,
The kiss and the comforting laugh and resolve—
Hope is an echo, hope ties itself yonder, yonder.
The spring grass showing itself where least expected,
The rolling fluff of white clouds on a changeable sky,
The broadcast of strings from Japan, bells from Moscow,
Of the voice of the prime minister of Sweden carried
Across the sea in behalf of a world family of nations
And children singing chorals of the Christ child
And Bach being broadcast from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
And tall skyscrapers practically empty of tenants
And the hands of strong men groping for handholds
And the Salvation Army singing God loves us….

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Day 330: The One That Got Away

I came across a writing prompt yesterday that instructed to: 'write about the one that got away.' Hmmm. Simon Armitage does this beautifully here:

To His Lost Lover - Simon Armitage

Now they are no longer
any trouble to each other

he can turn things over, get down to that list
of things that never happened, all of the lost

unfinishable business.
For instance… for instance,

how he never clipped and kept her hair, or drew a hairbrush
through that style of hers, and never knew how not to blush

at the fall of her name in close company.
How they never slept like buried cutlery –

two spoons or forks cupped perfectly together,
or made the most of some heavy weather –

walked out into hard rain under sheet lightning,
or did the gears while the other was driving.

How he never raised his fingertips
to stop the segments of her lips

from breaking the news,
or tasted the fruit

or picked for himself the pear of her heart,
or lifted her hand to where his own heart

was a small, dark, terrified bird
in her grip. Where it hurt.

Or said the right thing,
or put it in writing.

And never fled the black mile back to his house
before midnight, or coaxed another button of her blouse,

then another,
or knew her

favourite colour,
her taste, her flavour,

and never ran a bath or held a towel for her,
or soft-soaped her, or whipped her hair

into an ice-cream cornet or a beehive
of lather, or acted out of turn, or misbehaved

when he might have, or worked a comb
where no comb had been, or walked back home

through a black mile hugging a punctured heart,
where it hurt, where it hurt, or helped her hand

to his butterfly heart
in its two blue halves.

And never almost cried,
and never once described

an attack of the heart,
or under a silk shirt

nursed in his hand her breast,
her left, like a tear of flesh

wept by the heart,
where it hurts,

or brushed with his thumb the nut of her nipple,
or drank intoxicating liquors from her navel.

Or christened the Pole Star in her name,
or shielded the mask of her face like a flame,

a pilot light,
or stayed the night,

or steered her back to that house of his,
or said “Don’t ask me how it is

I like you.
I just might do.”

How he never figured out a fireproof plan,
or unravelled her hand, as if her hand

were a solid ball
of silver foil

and discovered a lifeline hiding inside it,
and measured the trace of his own alongside it.

But said some things and never meant them –
sweet nothings anybody could have mentioned.

And left unsaid some things he should have spoken,
about the heart, where it hurt exactly, and how often.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Day 329: Blue

This is such a simple little poem - but within it, a world of sorrow. If you hide who you really are, how will you ever find someone who is like you, and loves you for you? And since blue is so beautiful, why would you even want to hide it?

Masks - Shel Silverstein

She had blue skin.
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by –
And never knew.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Day 328: Sailing to Byzantium

Today is inaugural Yeats day (as it is his birthday). Yeats as in William Butler, Nobel Prize winner, poet extraordinaire and a legendary emblem of Irish literature and culture.
In his later years Yeats became obsessed with old age and dying and rallied against it in his poetry. In this famous poem 'Sailing to Byzantium', Yeats longs to be made immortal through art, so as never to die a physical death.
And I think he may just have achieved his wish. His poetry is his golden bird.

Sailing to Byzantium - WB Yeats

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Day 327: Ode to Ironing.... and Poetry

Who thought ironing could be compared to poetry?!

Ode to Ironing - Pablo Neruda 

Poetry is white:
it comes from the water covered with drops,
it wrinkles and piles up,
the skin of this planet must be stretched,
the sea of its whiteness must be ironed,
and the hands move and move,
the holy surfaces are smoothed out,
and that is how things are made:
hands make the world each day,
fire becomes one with steel,
linen, canvas, and cotton arrive
from the combat of the laundries,
and out of light a dove is born:
chastity returns from the foam.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Day 326: Argumentative

Some people you just can't argue with. They know it all. Especially arguments, as this poem demonstrates, that invoke the conflict in male/female and logical/creative thinking.

But anyway, we're offered reassurance here that right will go on being right, despite daft protestations to the  contrary. Just look at that last line, spinning in its own confident orbit, having the ultimate last word. 

He Tells Her - Wendy Cope

He tells her that the Earth is flat—
He knows the facts, and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
He calls her arguments unsound
And often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.

The planet goes on being round.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Day 325: Summer Bane

'The sky is a blue gum streaked with rose...'

Colourful. Unusual. Description as disclosure. Inversion of expectation. Meaning as question.
Why it can only be Wallace Stevens.

And here he is on summer, with all its grand laziness, gluttonous growth - 'a slum of bloom' - and contradictive moods, 'one feels a malady.' 

Banal Sojourn - Wallace Stevens

Two wooden tubs of blue hydrangeas stand at the foot of the
   stone steps.
The sky is a blue gum streaked with rose.  The trees are black.
The grackles crack their throats of bone in the smooth air.
Moisture and heat have swollen the garden into a slum of
Pardie! Summer is like a fat beast, sleepy in mildew,
Our old bane, green and bloated, serene, who cries,
'That bliss of stars, that princox of evening heaven!'
   reminding of seasons,
When radiance came running down, slim through the
And so it is one damns that green shade at the bottom of the
For who can care at the wigs despoiling the Satan ear?
and who does not seek the sky unfuzzed, soaring to the
one has a malady, here, a malady.  One feels a malady.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Day 324: Two Flies


The next time you're tortured by buzzing flies - maybe you'll come to a philosophical reasoning on it, like Bukowski  here -

2 Flies - Charles Bukowski

The flies are angry bits of life;
why are they so angry?
it seems they want more,
it seems almost as if they
are angry
that they are flies;
it is not my fault;
I sit in the room
with them
and they taunt me
with their agony;
it is as if they were
loose chunks of soul
left out of somewhere;
I try to read a paper
but they will not let me
one seems to go in half-circles
high along the wall,
throwing a miserable sound
upon my head;
the other one, the smaller one
stays near and teases my hand,
saying nothing,
rising, dropping
crawling near;
what god puts these
lost things upon me?
other men suffer dictates of
empire, tragic love…
I suffer
I wave at the little one
which only seems to revive
his impulse to challenge:
he circles swifter,
nearer, even making
a fly-sound,
and one above
catching a sense of the new
whirling, he too, in excitement,
speeds his flight,
drops down suddenly
in a cuff of noise
and they join
in circling my hand,
strumming the base
of the lampshade
until some man-thing
in me
will take no more
and I strike
with the rolled-up-paper -
missing! -
they break in discord,
some message lost between them,
and I get the big one
first, and he kicks on his back
flicking his legs
like an angry whore,
and I come down again
with my paper club
and he is a smear
of fly-ugliness;
the little one circles high
now, quiet and swift,
almost invisible;
he does not come near
my hand again;
he is tamed and
inaccessible; I leave
him be, he leaves me
the paper, of course,
is ruined;
something has happened,
something has soiled my
sometimes it does not
take man
or a woman,
only something alive;
I sit and watch
the small one;
we are woven together
in the air
and the living;
it is late
for both of us. 

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Day 323: This Moment

This poem is an ode to sunny evenings at that specific lull in between the busyness of the day and the blustering possibilities of the night; - 'stars rise/ moths flutter /apples sweeten in the dark.'

This Moment - Eavan Boland

A neighbourhood.
At dusk.

Things are getting ready
to happen
out of sight.

Stars and moths.
And rinds slanting around fruit.

But not yet.

One tree is black.
One window is yellow as butter.

A woman leans down to catch a child
who has run into her arms
this moment.

Stars rise.
Moths flutter.
Apples sweeten in the dark.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Day 322: Earth, Your Dancing Place

I LOVE the description of  living in this poem: 'aisles of sunlight', 'highheeled with swirl of cape', 'crave upward as flame'... Perfect picturesque notes on life.

Earth, Your Dancing Place - May Swenson

Beneath heaven's vault
remember always walking
through halls of cloud
down aisles of sunlight
or through high hedges
of the green rain
walk in the world
highheeled with swirl of cape
hand at the swordhilt
of your pride
Keep a tall throat
Remain aghast at life

Enter each day
as upon a stage
lighted and waiting
for your step
Crave upward as flame
have keenness in the nostril
Give your eyes
to agony or rapture

Train your hands
as birds to be
brooding or nimble
Move your body
as the horses
sweeping on slender hooves
over crag and prairie
with fleeing manes
and aloofness of their limbs

Take earth for your own large room
and the floor of the earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind
for your dancing place

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Day 321: A Hymn to June

'Iris, Goddess of Summer' Print by Carol Cavalaris
'The only word she speaks is yellow'.... 

I always see June as a yellow month. All that sunshine. Here's a poem something along the same idea lines, but much more exquisite, as only Alice Oswald can do:

Yellow Iris - Alice Oswald 
It's early morning
and a woman
from a previous
world is wading
up the stream.

Very stately and
sturdy with double-
jointed elbows she's
still in her
grave clothes,
her crinkled three-ply
surcoat made of
cloth of June.

She has one
gold-webbed glove,
one withered hand.

She's resting, considering
her next pose,
behind the blades
of slatted blinds.

Her name is
Iris, the Rainbow,
the messenger, the
water's secretary, the
only word she
speaks is 'yellow'.

Lost ghost Queen
of the Unbetween
it's lovely listening
to the burp
of mud as
she sinks her
feet right in.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Day 320: Blue Sky Day


What's more uplifting than a grand blue sky and sun shining through it? 'The happy earth looks at the sky/ and sings.' Indeed!

Spring - Joyce Kilmer

The air is like a butterfly
with frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
and sings.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Day 319: Flower Music

  Desktop Backgrounds · Animal Life · Flowers 
 Tulips as Cut Flowers

Yep, there's a flower theme this week, in keeping with the start of summer!  

"Freshen the Flowers, She Said" - Mary Oliver

So I put them in the sink, for the cool porcelain

was tender,
and took out the tattered and cut each stem

on a slant,
trimmed the black and raggy leaves, and set them all -

roses, delphiniums, daisies, iris, lilies,
and more whose names I don't know, in bright new water -

gave them

a bounce upward at the end to let them take

their own choice of position, the wheels, the spurs,
the little sheds of the buds. It took, to do this,

perhaps fifteen minutes.
Fifteen minutes of music

with nothing playing.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Day 318: Bees

'gilded, glad, golden...'

Another summery themed poem today to start us off on our June journeys:

Bees - Carol Ann Duffy

Here are my bees,
brazen, blurs on paper,
besotted; buzzwords, dancing
their flawless, airy maps.

Been deep, my poet bees,
in the parts of flowers,
in daffodil, thistle, rose, even
the golden lotus; so glide,
gilded, glad, golden, thus -

wise - and know of us:
how your scent pervades
my shadowed, busy heart,
and honey is art.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Day 317: Daisy

Have you ever seen human traits in flowers?

Well in Alice Oswald's most recent book, 'Weeds and Wildflowers' she has a poem on various flowers (accompanied with illustrations) in which she describes them in humanly terms.

She asserts that "flowers are recognisably ourselves elsewhere", and in this book she sets out to prove this "using the names of flowers to summon up the flora of the psyche".(You can read more here)

Daisy - Alice Oswald

I will not meet that quiet child
roughly my age but match-size
I will not kneel low enough to her lashes
to look her in her open eye
or feel her hairy wiry strength
or open my mouth among her choristers
I will not lie small enough under her halo
to smell its laundered frills
or let the slightest whisperiness
find out her friendliness
because she is more
summer-like more meek
than I am I will push my nail
into her neck and make
a lovely necklace out of her green bones

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Day 316: June

Peacock Daze - by Josephine Wall

'I am the fairest daughter of the year'...

Today is the first of June and this verse explains the month's beauty to a lovely sunny tee I think. 

June (from 'The Poet's Calendar') - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Mine is the Month of Roses; yes, and mine
The Month of Marriages! All pleasant sights
And scents, the fragrance of the blossoming vine,
The foliage of the valleys and the heights.
Mine are the longest days, the loveliest nights;
The mower's scythe makes music to my ear;
I am the mother of all dear delights;
I am the fairest daughter of the year.