Friday, 31 January 2014

Day 559: Tune of an Ocean

Funny how ideas come and go, isn't it? From a teeming mind to a blank one. Where do they go?

Tune - Kay Ryan

Imagine a sea
of ultramarine
suspending a
million jellyfish
as soft as moons.
Imagine the
interlocking uninsistent
tunes of drifting things.
This is the deep machine
that powers the lamps
of dreams and accounts
for their bluish tint.
How can something
so grand and serene
vanish again and again
without a hint?

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Day 558: How To Be a Poet

As a reminder, this is perfect - 

How To Be a Poet - Wendell Berry

(to remind myself) 
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill - more of each
than you have - inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,

make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Day 557: Flying

One Heart - Li-Young Lee

Look at the birds. Even flying
is born
out of nothing. The first sky
is inside you, Friend, open
at either end of day.
The work of wings
was always freedom, fastening
one heart to every falling thing.


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Day 556: Future Perfect

I love the cleverness of this poem, proving that grammar can be quite philosophical!

Future Perfect - Lia Purpura

Where you were
before you were born,
and where you are
when you're not anymore
might be very close.
Might be the same place,
though neither is
as slippery
as being here but
imagining where
you will have been -
that point
where things land,
are finished, over, and
gone but not yet.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Day 555: Connection


Walt Whitman is a multi-faceted poet, not least of all - in his free-flowing language - spiritual: 

A Noiseless Patient Spider - Walt Whitman

A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them - ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, - seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d - till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul. 

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Day 554: When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be

Keats today. I really don't think any other poet can use language in such the sublime and soothing 
way that he does. A very human question he asks here, but all the more particularly poignant 
considering he died at 25. But what a wealth of words he left behind.

When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be - John Keats
When I have fears that I may cease to be
   Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,
   Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starred face,
   Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
   Their shadows with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
   That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
   Of unreflecting love - then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Day 553: Night and Day

The difference between night and day sometimes? A world of poems.


The Hours Rise Up Putting Off Stars And It Is - ee cummings

the hours rise up putting off stars and it is
into the street of the sky light walks scattering poems

on earth a candle is
extinguished     the city
with a song upon her
mouth having death in her eyes

and it is dawn
the world
goes forth to murder dreams….

i see in the street where strong
men are digging bread
and i see the brutal faces of
people contented hideous hopeless cruel happy

and it is day,

in the mirror
i see a frail
dreams in the mirror

and it
is dusk    on earth

a candle is lighted
and it is dark.
the people are in their houses
the frail man is in his bed
the city

sleeps with death upon her mouth having a song in her eyes
the hours descend,
putting on stars….

in the street of the sky night walks scattering poems

Friday, 24 January 2014

Day 552: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill 
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Day 551: Burning the Old Year

Before January is out - another New Year poem, beautifully put by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Burning the Old Year - Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,   
lists of vegetables, partial poems.   
Orange swirling flame of days,   
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,   
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.   
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,   
only the things I didn’t do   
crackle after the blazing dies. 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Day 550: The Mind is an Enchanting Thing

And this is an enchanting poem... 

The Mind is an Enchanting Thing - Marianne Moore

is an enchanted thing
      like the glaze on a
            subdivided by sun
            till the nettings are legion.
Like Gieseking playing Scarlatti;

like the apteryx-awl
      as a beak, or the
kiwi's rain-shawl
            of haired feathers, the mind
            feeling its way as though blind,
walks with its eyes on the ground.

It has memory's ear
      that can hear without
having to hear.
            Like the gyroscope's fall,
            truly unequivocal
because trued by regnant certainty,

it is a power of
      strong enchantment. It
is like the dove-
            neck animated by
            sun; it is memory's eye;
it's conscientious inconsistency.

It tears off the veil; tears
      the temptation, the
mist the heart wears,
            from its eyes - if the heart
            has a face; it takes apart
dejection. It's fire in the dove-neck's

iridescence; in the
of Scarlatti.
            Unconfusion submits
            its confusion to proof; it's
not a Herod's oath that cannot change.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Day 549: Animal Heart


I love the last lines of this poem - that address the heart as a kind of animal. Despite all its hurts, 'the sore, battered, foundered' heart is still a wild animal,  'snorting' and 'stamping' in its stall, desperate to get loose, and 'still faithful' to the idea of love. Like a bull or a bucking bronco, ready to take its owner on a hell of a ride- ie, love.

Love: Beginnings - CK Williams
They’re at that stage where so much desire streams 
between them, so much frank need and want,

so much absorption in the other and the self and the 

self-admiring entity and unity they make—

her mouth so full, breast so lifted, head thrown back so far 

in her laughter at his laughter,  

he so solid, planted, oaky, firm, so resonantly factual in 
the headiness of being craved so,

she almost wreathed upon him as they intertwine again, 

touch again, cheek, lip, shoulder, brow,

every glance moving toward the sexual, every glance 

away soaring back in flame into the sexual—

that just to watch them is to feel again that hitching in 

the groin, that filling of the heart,

the old, sore heart, the battered, foundered, faithful heart, 

snorting again, stamping in its stall.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Day 548: The Kiss

How to describe the magic of a kiss? Here's one way: 

The Kiss - Stephen Dunn

She pressed her lips to mind.
                                         —a typo 

How many years I must have yearned
for someone’s lips against mind.
Pheromones, newly born, were floating
between us. There was hardly any air.

She kissed me again, reaching that place
that sends messages to toes and fingertips,
then all the way to something like home.
Some music was playing on its own.

Nothing like a woman who knows
to kiss the right thing at the right time,
then kisses the things she’s missed.
How had I ever settled for less?

I was thinking this is intelligence,
this is the wisest tongue
since the Oracle got into a Greek’s ear,
speaking sense. It’s the Good,

defining itself. I was out of my mind.
She was in. We married as soon as we could.

She pressed her lips to mind. —a typo How many years I must have yearned for someone’s lips against mind. Pheromones, newly born, were floating between us. There was hardly any air. She kissed me again, reaching that place that sends messages to toes and fingertips, then all the way to something like home. Some music was playing on its own. Nothing like a woman who knows to kiss the right thing at the right time, then kisses the things she’s missed. How had I ever settled for less? I was thinking this is intelligence, this is the wisest tongue since the Oracle got into a Greek’s ear, speaking sense. It’s the Good, defining itself. I was out of my mind. She was in. We married as soon as we could. - See more at:

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Day 547: Beautiful Cold

A loving interpretation of the cold here, from Mary Oliver.  

Cold Poem - Mary Oliver

Cold now.
Close to the edge. Almost
unbearable. Clouds
bunch up and boil down
from the north of the white bear.
This tree-splitting morning
I dream of his fat tracks,
the lifesaving suet.

I think of summer with its luminous fruit,
blossoms rounding to berries, leaves,
handfuls of grain.

Maybe what cold is, is the time
we measure the love we have always had, secretly,
for our own bones, the hard knife-edged love
for the warm river of the I, beyond all else; maybe

that is what it means the beauty
of the blue shark cruising toward the tumbling seals.

In the season of snow,
in the immeasurable cold,
we grow cruel but honest; we keep
ourselves alive,
if we can, taking one after another
the necessary bodies of others, the many
crushed red flowers.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Day 546: A History of Glassblowing

What a fascinating process glassblowing, and an equally interesting poem this, on it. From a local poet too, I might add.


A History of Glassblowing - Matthew Sweeney

The records show that in Shanghai
at the end of the Yuan Dynasty,
the year 1364, a glassblower blew
a mermaid that came to life, and swam
away. And in Cologne, in 1531, a team
of glassblowers blew an orchestra,
instruments and all, and these played.
Then on Hokkaido, in 1846, a blind
monk blew his own Buddha to pray to,
and the next day he was able to see.
In Natchez, in 1901, a glassblower
blew a paddleboat with gamblers in it,
one of them lying dead. And in Oaxaca,
in 1929, a small version of the Sierra
Madre was blown, with golddiggers
on its lower slopes, and the whole
town filled with gold. In Letterkenny,
in 1965, a woman blew a flock
of glass sheep, wool and all, each
of them with a tinkly baa. In 1993,
in Séte, the harbour glassblower
blew a lighthouse with its own light,
and in 2004, in Timisoara, three
glassies blew a new solar system
that they let float up and away.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Day 545: Red Geraniums on a Grey January Day

I like the image Bukowski presents in this poem, but have to disagree with him on the last point. Red geraniums on balconies are not specific to New york - Paris is another city that springs to mind (above). But whatever the city, the image is just so pleasant isn't it, especially on a dull grey January day!

all that - Charles Bukowksi 
all that
the only things I remember about
New York City
in the summer
are the fire escapes
and how the people go
out on the fire escapes
in the evening
when the sun is setting
on the other side
of the buildings
and some stretch out
and sleep there
while others sit quietly
where it's cool.

and on many
of the window sills
sit pots of geraniums or
planters filled with red
and the half-dressed people
rest there
on the fire escapes
and there are
red geraniums

this is really
something to see rather
than to talk about.

it's like a great colorful
and surprising painting
not hanging anywhere

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Day 544: Beautiful Happiness

How would you paint happiness? This seems exactly right.

How I Would Paint Happiness -  Lisel Mueller

Something sudden, a windfall,
a meteor shower. No -
a flowering tree releasing
all its blossoms at once,
and the one standing beneath it
unexpectedly robed in bloom,
transformed into a stranger
too beautiful to touch.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Day 543: Bearing the Light


Jewelled raindrops, they never cease to be fascinating. Ideal subject matter for a poem.

Bearing the Light - Denise Levertov

Rain-diamonds, this winter morning, 
embellish the tangle of unpruned pear-tree twigs; 
each solitaire, placed, it appears, with considered judgement, 
bears the light beneath the rifted clouds - 
the indivisible shared out in endless abundance.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Day 542: The Triumph of Trying

'Not to try, is the only failure there is.' 

Yes, consider Icarus again. There's another way to look at his story as Anne Sexton presents here. He did try. And for a few moments, he was successful.  What glorious moments they must have been, 'acclaiming the sun.'  The last few lines of this poem seem to say - better to be foolish, passionate and really alive, than sensible, stagnant and stifled.

To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph - Anne Sexton

Consider Icarus, pasting those sticky wings on,
testing that strange little tug at his shoulder blade,
and think of that first flawless moment over the lawn
of the labyrinth. Think of the difference it made!
There below are the trees, as awkward as camels;
and here are the shocked starlings pumping past
and think of innocent Icarus who is doing quite well.
Larger than a sail, over the fog and the blast
of the plushy ocean, he goes. Admire his wings!
Feel the fire at his neck and see how casually
he glances up and is caught, wondrously tunneling
into that hot eye. Who cares that he fell back to the sea?
See him acclaiming the sun and come plunging down
while his sensible daddy goes straight into town.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Day 541: Happy Ideas

'I had the happy idea to call myself happy'.

We're into mid-January now when the blues can set in. So here's an anti-dote poem to them!  (And blue doesn't always have to be sad by the way, just look at the painting here by Marc Chagall. See more beautiful blue works: here)

Happy Ideas - Mary Szybist  

'I had the happy idea to fasten a bicycle wheel to a kitchen stool and watch it turn.' - DuChamp

I had the happy idea to suspend some blue globes in the air

and watch them pop.

I had the happy idea to put my little copper horse on the shelf so we could stare at each other
all evening.

I had the happy idea to create a void in myself.

Then to call it natural.

Then to call it supernatural.

I had the happy idea to wrap a blue scarf around my head and spin.

I had the happy idea that somewhere a child was being born who was nothing like Helen or
Jesus except in the sense of changing everything.

I had the happy idea that someday I would find both pleasure and punishment, that I would
know them and feel them,

and that, until I did, it would be almost as good to pretend.

I had the happy idea to call myself happy.

I had the happy idea that the dog digging a hole in the yard in the twilight had his nose deep in

I had the happy idea that what I do not understand is more real than what I do,

and then the happier idea to buckle myself

into two blue velvet shoes.

I had the happy idea to polish the reflecting glass and say

hello to my own blue soul. Hello, blue soul. Hello.

It was my happiest idea.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Day 540: A Birthday Wish

This poem today I dedicate to my sister as it's her birthday! Although not yet 30, the sentiment of the poem suits her and sums up a January birthday exactly I think. No matter the season, no matter the age, birthdays are always times to make a wish :)

A Birthday Candle - Donald Justice

Thirty today, I saw
the trees flare briefly like
the candles on a cake,
as the sun went down the sky
a momentary flash,
yet there was time to wish.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Day 540: Constantly Risking Absurdity

What better poem to typify a Saturday than a Beats one?  Lawrence Ferlinghetti - the man who published Ginsberg's 'Howl' was also a poet in his own right. He even earned the term Poet Laureate of San Francisco. Here he is, in the characteristic Beat manner of exhilarating blank verse expressionism, on writing:

Constantly Risking Absurdity - Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of the day
performing entrachats
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
any thing
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
taut truth
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charley  chaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
of existence

Friday, 10 January 2014

Day 539: Snow(ing)?

Ok, here's one for you puzzle lovers, ee cumming's 'Snow'. See what you can make of it! (I'll give you a tip - read it s l o w .... )

SNOW - ee cummings

     ingw Hi


(endbegi ndesignb ecend)tang
   ofC omego




                        (from n
o(into whe)re f


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Day 538: January

Yes, how true is this from prose writer John Updike? 'The dark and dark', an accurate portrayal of January:

January - John Updike

The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.
Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor
And parkas pile up
Near the door.
The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees' black lace
The sky is low.
The wind is gray.
The radiator
Purrs all day.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Day 537: The Wonders of Baseball

After watching 'Moneyball', the baseball movie starring Brad Pitt, the other night, I got to 
thinking about how often baseball features in American movies. A lot.

And it's never just about baseball, no, on the contrary, the game acts a potent metaphor for the film's 
 themes and plotlines, usually - how to play the game of life.

But here in this poem, May Swenson takes baseball and does something else with it entirely - in a 
commentator's tone, she explains (playfully) what goes on technically in the game, the physical acts
of it, with the main idea being that it is a game of fun, played with love.

But I can't help but thinking it's about something more too. Something to do with living, yes.
Especially those last few lines. How about you?

Analysis of Baseball - May Swenson

It’s about
the ball,
the bat,
and the mitt.
Ball hits
bat, or it
hits mitt.
Bat doesn’t
hit ball, bat
meets it.
Ball bounces
off bat, flies
air, or thuds
ground (dud)
or it
fits mitt.

Bat waits
for ball
to mate.
Ball hates
to take bat’s
bait. Ball
flirts, bat’s
late, don’t
keep the date.
Ball goes in
(thwack) to mitt,
and goes out
(thwack) back
to mitt.
Ball fits
mitt, but
not all
the time.
ball gets hit
(pow) when bat
meets it,
and sails
to a place
where mitt
has to quit
in disgrace.
That’s about
the bases
about 40,000
fans exploded.

It’s about
the ball,
the bat,
the mitt,
the bases
and the fans.
It’s done
on a diamond,
and for fun.
It’s about
home, and it’s
about run. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Day 536: Three Queens

Carol Ann Duffy's witty and feminist twist/take on the story of the three kings, with a touch of pantomime about it, as well as the personal:

Queen Herod - Carol Ann Duffy
Ice in the trees.
Three Queens at the Palace gates,
dressed in furs, accented;
their several sweating, panting beasts,
laden for a long, hard trek,
following the guide and boy to the stables;
courteous, confident; oh, and with gifts
for the King and Queen of here — Herod, me —
in exchange for sunken baths, curtained beds,
fruit, the best of meat and wine,
dancers, music, talk —
as it turned out to be,
with everyone fast asleep, save me,
those vivid three —
till bitter dawn.
They were wise. Older than I.
They knew what they knew.
Once drunken Herod's head went back,
they asked to see her,
fast asleep in her crib,
my little child.
Silver and gold,
the loose change of herself,
glowed in the soft bowl of her face.
Grace, said the tallest Queen.
Strength, said the Queen with the hennaed hands.
The black Queen
made a tiny starfish of my daughter's fist,
said Happiness; then stared at me,
Queen to Queen, with insolent lust.
Watch, they said, for a star in the East —
a new star
pierced through the night like a nail.
It means he's here, alive, new-born
Who? Him. The Husband. Hero. Hunk.
The Boy Next Door. The Paramour. The
Je t'adore.
The Marrying Kind. Adulterer. Bigamist.
The Wolf. The Rip. The Rake. The Rat.
The Heartbreaker. The Ladykiller. Mr Right
My baby stirred,
suckled the empty air for milk,
till I knelt
and the black Queen scooped out my breast,
the left, guiding it down
to the infant's mouth.
No man, I swore,
will make her shed one tear.
A peacock screamed outside.
Afterwards, it seemed like a dream.
The pungent camels
kneeling in the snow,
the guide's rough shout
as he clapped his leather gloves,
hawked, spat, snatched
the smoky jug of mead
from the chittering maid —
she was twelve, thirteen.
I watched each turbaned Queen
rise like a god on the back of her beast.
And splayed that night
below Herod's fusty bulk,
I saw the fierce eyes of the black Queen
flash again, felt her urgent warnings scald
my ear. Watch for a star, a star.
It means he's here
Some swaggering lad to break her heart,
some wincing Prince to take her name away
and give a ring, a nothing, nowt in gold.
I sent for the Chief of Staff,
a mountain man
with a red scar, like a tick
to the mean stare of his eye.
Take men and horses,
knives, swords, cutlasses.
Ride East from here
and kill each mother's son.
Do it. Spare not one
The midnight hour. The chattering stars
shivered in a nervous sky.
Orion to the South
who knew the score, who'd seen,
not seen, then seen it all before;
the yapping Dog Star at his heels.
High up in the West
a studded, diamond W.
And then, as prophesied,
blatant, brazen, buoyant in the East —
and blue —
The Boyfriend's Star.
We do our best,
we Queens, we mothers,
mothers of Queens.
We wade through blood
for our sleeping girls.
We have daggers for eyes.
Behind our lullabies,
the hooves of terrible horses
thunder and drum.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Day 535: Epiphany

Today is the Christian feast of the Epiphany, the revelation of the birth of Jesus to the wider world, through the Three Kings. 
It's also known as Little Christmas, the last of the 12 Days of Christmas, the time to take the tree down, and also in Ireland as Nollaig na mBan - Women's Christmas, the time traditionally set aside for women to relax and put their feet up after the festive period.
I am drawn to this day though because of the word 'Epiphany.'  Meaning of course, a moment of great revelation, realisation, a manifestation of truth. It's what we were always taught to look out for in literature, especially short stories, and to work towards creating in our own writing. And I suppose our life is full of epiphanies. Religious, spiritual and otherwise. As a writer, I am always on the look-out for them. Poetry of course, maps them well.

This poem by TS Eliot is a very famous one fitting to the day. It is written from the viewpoint of the three kings as they journey to Bethlehem and their 'epiphany', their great realisation after witnessing the child. Something had changed, something to be glad of.

Journey of the Magi - TS Eliot

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Than at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different: this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Day 534: Blizzard of One

Timely this poem, what with all the freak Arctic weather around, especially in the States. Of course though, you can't have a poem about a storm (or a piece of the storm) without the metaphors.  Mark Strand does a good job here of forcing us to tease them out. 

A Piece of the Storm - Mark Strand

For Sharon Horvath

From the shadow of domes in the city of domes,
A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room
And made its way to the arm of the chair where you, looking up
From your book, saw it the moment it landed.
That's all There was to it. No more than a solemn waking
To brevity, to the lifting and falling away of attention, swiftly,
A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that
Except for the feeling that this piece of the storm,
Which turned into nothing before your eyes, would come back,
That someone years hence, sitting as you are now, might say:
"It's time. The air is ready. The sky has an opening."

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Day 533: True Happiness

Wisdom, most fine: 

Happiness - Hermann Hesse

As long as you chase happiness,
you are not ready to be happy,
even if you owned everything.

As long as you lament a loss,
run after prizes in restless races,
you have not yet known peace.

But when you have moved beyond desire,
become a stranger to your goals and longings
and call no longer on happiness by name,

then your heart rises calmly
above the ebb and flow of action
and peace has reached your soul.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Day 532: Begin Again

'Every beginning is a promise
born in light...'

Time for new beginnings, of every kind. And Brendan Kennelly demonstrates here how easy they are to make, small step by small step, and how beautiful. 

Begin Again - Brendan Kennelly

Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of light at the window,
begin to the roar of summoning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.

Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark determination
and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and the future
old friends passing though with us still.

Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces,
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.

Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Day 531: Hello January

And so here we are in January, maybe the most maligned month of the year, the staunch sobering after December partying. A bleak month in all respects, weather-wise definitely, but most especially, financial wise. 

But I don't know. I'm kind of changing my mind about January. It's both good and bad. The month takes it name from the old Roman God Janus, guardian of gateways and portals, who is depicted as looking forward and back at the same time, reviewing the past and looking forward to the future. Maybe if January was viewed solely as the outpost of the New Year to come, it would be full of hope and possibilities and its fire would light up both our 'hearths and hearts.' 

January (from 'The Poets Calendar')  - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Janus am I; oldest of potentates;
  Forward I look, and backward, and below
I count, as god of avenues and gates,
  The years that through my portals come and go.

I block the roads, and drift the fields with snow;
  I chase the wild-fowl from the frozen fen;
My frosts congeal the rivers in their flow,
  My fires light up the hearths and hearts of men.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Day 530: To the New Year 2014

I posted this poem last year on New Year's Day but am posting it again today for all my new 
readers, and also because I am very fond of it it for how it captures that euphoric sense of optimism 
we all carry at the turning of the new calendar year.
Just look at the second stanza, everything in it moving toward the word and the sentiment 'possible'. 
Here we are, starting a New Year, with our hopes, whatever they are, whoever we are, whatever we 
want,  before us, and everything 'still possible' for us - this feeling not for one day only, but  
ongoing, as the lack of punctuation most potently suggests.

Happy New Year to you all!

To the New Year - WS Mervin
With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible