Monday, 31 March 2014

Day 619: Spring Day

A beautiful Spring day today - the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the flowers are
blooming, the temperatures are up!  And this poem fits it perfectly.

Today - Billy Collins 

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Day 618: Spring Singing

Such Singing in the Wild Branches - Mary Oliver

It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves -
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness -
and that's when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree -
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing -
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky -  all, all of them

were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn't last

for more than a few moments.
It's one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you've been there,
you're there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then - open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Day 617: Me and Faulkner

I've started to read Faulkner's 'The Sound and the Fury' so this poem seems appropriate. 

me and Faulkner - Charles Bukowski
sure, I know that you are tired of hearing about it, but
most repeat the same theme over and over again, it's
as if they were trying to refine what seems so strange
and off and important to them, it's done by everybody
because everybody is of a different stripe and form
and each must work out what is before them
over and over again because
that is their personal tiny miracle
their bit of luck

like now as like before and before I have been slowly
drinking this fine red wine and listening to symphony after
symphony from this black radio to my left

some symphonies remind me of certain cities and certain rooms,
make me realize that certain people now long dead were able to
transgress graveyards

and traps and cages and bones and limbs

people who broke through with joy and madness and with
insurmountable force

in tiny rented rooms I was struck by miracles

and even now after decades of listening I still am able to hear
a new work never heard before that is totally
bright, a fresh-blazing sun

there are countless sub-stratas of rising surprise from the
human firmament

music has an expansive and endless flow of ungodly

writers are confined to the limit of sight and feeling upon the
page while musicians leap into unrestricted immensity

right now it's just old Tchaikowsky moaning and groaning his
way through symphony #5
but it's just as good as when I first heard it

I haven't heard one of my favorites, Eric Coates, for some time
but I know that if I keep drinking the good red and listening
that he will be along

there are others, many others

and so
this is just another poem about drinking and listening to

repeat, right?

but look at Faulkner, he not only said the same thing over and
over but he said the same
so, please, let me boost these giants of our lives
once more: the classical composers of our time and
of times past

it has kept the rope from my throat

maybe it will loosen

Friday, 28 March 2014

Day 616: Spring Walk

Spring - Kenneth Koch

Let's take a walk
In the city
Till our shoes get wet
(It's been raining
All night) and when
We see the traffic
Lights and the moon
Let's take a smile
Off the ashcan, let's walk
Into town (I mean
A lemon peel)

Let's make music
(I hear the cats
Purply beautiful
Like hallways in summer
Made of snowing rubber
Valence piccalilli and diamonds)
Oh see the arch ruby
Of this late March sky
Are you less intelligent
Than the pirate of lemons
Let's take a walk

I know you tonight
As I have never known
A book of white stones
Or a bookcase of orange groans
Or symbolism
I think I'm in love
With those imaginary racetracks
Of traced grey in
The sky and the gimcracks
Of all you know and love
Who once loathed firecrackers
And licence plates and
Diamonds but now you love them all

And just for my sake
Let's take a walk
Into the river
(I can even do that
Tonight) where
If I kiss you please
Remember with your shoes off
You're so beautiful like
A lifted umbrella orange
And white we may never
Discover the blue over -
Coat maybe never never O blind
With this (love) let's walk
Into the first
Rivers of morning as you are seen
To be bathed in a light white light
Come on

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Day 615: Moments after Dreaming

it is at moments after i have dreamed - ee cummings
it is at moments after i have dreamed
of the rare entertainment of your eyes,
when (being fool to fancy) i have deemed

with your peculiar mouth my heart made wise;
at moments when the glassy darkness holds 
the genuine apparition of your smile
(it was through tears always)and silence moulds
such strangeness as was mine a little while;

moments when my once more illustrious arms
are filled with fascination, when my breast
wears the intolerant brightness of your charms:

one pierced moment whiter than the rest

-turning from the tremendous lie of sleep
i watch the roses of the day grow deep.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Day 614: The Open Road

'To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls...'

On sunny days at this time of the year, my thoughts turn to travel. Is there anything in this world
more revitalizing than an open road before you?  Need convincing? Read Whitman's exalted 
effervescent take on it. (It's long, but worth it!)

Song of the Open Road - Walt Whitman 
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here,
I believe that much unseen is also here.

Here the profound lesson of reception, nor preference nor denial,
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseas’d, the illiterate person, are not denied;
The birth, the hasting after the physician, the beggar’s tramp, the drunkard’s stagger, the laughing party of mechanics,
The escaped youth, the rich person’s carriage, the fop, the eloping couple,

The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of furniture into the town, the return back from the town,
They pass, I also pass, any thing passes, none can be interdicted,
None but are accepted, none but shall be dear to me.

You air that serves me with breath to speak!
You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape!
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!
I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.

You flagg’d walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges!
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined sides! you distant ships!

You rows of houses! you window-pierc’d façades! you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards!
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings!
From all that has touch’d you I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me,
From the living and the dead you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me.

The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh sentiment of the road.

O highway I travel, do you say to me Do not leave me?
Do you say Venture not—if you leave me you are lost?
Do you say I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me?

O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you,
You express me better than I can express myself,
You shall be more to me than my poem.

I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air, and all free poems also,
I think I could stop here myself and do miracles,
I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me shall like me,
I think whoever I see must be happy.

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently,but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me,
I can repeat over to men and women You have done such good to me I would do the same to you,
I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,
I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,
Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,
Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.

Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear it would not amaze me,
Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear’d it would not astonish me.

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.

Here a great personal deed has room,
(Such a deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men,
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law and mocks all authority and all argument against it.)

Here is the test of wisdom,
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it to another not having it,
Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things;
Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.

Now I re-examine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents.

Here is realization,
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him,
The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.

Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?
Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for you and me?

Here is adhesiveness, it is not previously fashion’d, it is apropos;
Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?

Here is the efflux of the soul,
The efflux of the soul comes from within through embower’d gates, ever provoking questions,
These yearnings why are they? these thoughts in the darkness why are they?
Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the sunlight expands my blood?
Why when they leave me do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank?
Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
(I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees and always drop fruit as I pass;)
What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers?
What with some driver as I ride on the seat by his side?
What with some fisherman drawing his seine by the shore as I walk by and pause?
What gives me to be free to a woman’s and man’s good-will? what gives them to be free to mine?

The efflux of the soul is happiness, here is happiness,
I think it pervades the open air, waiting at all times,
Now it flows unto us, we are rightly charged.

Here rises the fluid and attaching character,
The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and sweetness of man and woman,
(The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter every day out of the roots of themselves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet continually out of itself.)

Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the sweat of the love of young and old,
From it falls distill’d the charm that mocks beauty and attainments,
Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of contact.

Allons! whoever you are come travel with me!
Traveling with me you find what never tires.

The earth never tires,
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d,
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.

Allons! we must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,
However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here,
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.

Allons! the inducements shall be greater,
We will sail pathless and wild seas,
We will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the Yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.

Allons! with power, liberty, the earth, the elements,
Health, defiance, gayety, self-esteem, curiosity;
Allons! from all formules!
From your formules, O bat-eyed and materialistic priests.

The stale cadaver blocks up the passage—the burial waits no longer.

Allons! yet take warning!
He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance,
None may come to the trial till he or she bring courage and health,
Come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself,
Only those may come who come in sweet and determin’d bodies,
No diseas’d person, no rum-drinker or venereal taint is permitted here.

(I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes,
We convince by our presence.)

Listen! I will be honest with you,
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes,
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is call’d riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,
You but arrive at the city to which you were destin’d, you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction before you are call’d by an irresistible call to depart,
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you,
What beckonings of love you receive you shall only answer with passionate kisses of parting,
You shall not allow the hold of those who spread their reach’d hands toward you.

Allons! after the great Companions, and to belong to them!
They too are on the road—they are the swift and majestic men—they are the greatest women,
Enjoyers of calms of seas and storms of seas,
Sailors of many a ship, walkers of many a mile of land,
Habituès of many distant countries, habituès of far-distant dwellings,
Trusters of men and women, observers of cities, solitary toilers,
Pausers and contemplators of tufts, blossoms, shells of the shore,
Dancers at wedding-dances, kissers of brides, tender helpers of children, bearers of children,
Soldiers of revolts, standers by gaping graves, lowerers-down of coffins,
Journeyers over consecutive seasons, over the years, the curious years each emerging from that which preceded it,
Journeyers as with companions, namely their own diverse phases,
Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby-days,
Journeyers gayly with their own youth, journeyers with their bearded and well-grain’d manhood,
Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsurpass’d, content,
Journeyers with their own sublime old age of manhood or womanhood,
Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe,
Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death.

Allons! to that which is endless as it was beginningless,
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,
To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights they tend to,
Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys,
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it,
To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and pass it,
To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for you, however long but it stretches and waits for you,
To see no being, not God’s or any, but you also go thither,
To see no possession but you may possess it, enjoying all without labor or purchase, abstracting the feast yet not abstracting one particle of it,
To take the best of the farmer’s farm and the rich man’s elegant villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married couple, and the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens,
To take to your use out of the compact cities as you pass through,
To carry buildings and streets with you afterward wherever you go,
To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter them, to gather the love out of their hearts,
To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them behind you,
To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls.

All parts away for the progress of souls,
All religion, all solid things, arts, governments—all that was or is apparent upon this globe or any globe, falls into niches and corners before the procession of souls along the grand roads of the universe.

Of the progress of the souls of men and women along the grand roads of the universe, all other progress is the needed emblem and sustenance.

Forever alive, forever forward,
Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent, feeble, dissatisfied,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected by men,
They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know not where they go,
But I know that they go toward the best—toward something great.

Whoever you are, come forth! or man or woman come forth!
You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you.

Out of the dark confinement! out from behind the screen!
It is useless to protest, I know all and expose it.

Behold through you as bad as the rest,
Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping, of people,
Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those wash’d and trimm’d faces,
Behold a secret silent loathing and despair.

No husband, no wife, no friend, trusted to hear the confession,
Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking and hiding it goes,
Formless and wordless through the streets of the cities, polite and bland in the parlors,
In the cars of railroads, in steamboats, in the public assembly,
Home to the houses of men and women, at the table, in the bedroom, everywhere,
Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright, death under the breast-bones, hell under the skull-bones,
Under the broadcloth and gloves, under the ribbons and artificial flowers,
Keeping fair with the customs, speaking not a syllable of itself,
Speaking of any thing else but never of itself.

Allons! through struggles and wars!
The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.

Have the past struggles succeeded?
What has succeeded? yourself? your nation? Nature?
Now understand me well—it is provided in the essence of things that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary.

My call is the call of battle, I nourish active rebellion,
He going with me must go well arm’d,
He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry enemies, desertions.

Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d!

Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.

Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Day 613: Spring and All

I love how all the lines and all the words in this poem lead to the final revelation of one word: awaken. Yes, spring is a powerful season.

Spring and All - William Carlos Williams

By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast - a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines -

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches -

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind -

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf

One by one objects are defined -
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance - Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted they
grip down and begin to awaken 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Day 612: Three Happy Things in March

What are your three things??

Three Things That Make Me Outrageously Happy in March - Madeline DeFrees

Begin with the evergreen Clematis montana*. Shy
about opening, blooms pulse into view
a few at a time against the night sky. Some
morning, a creamy tsunami
sweeps over the chain-link fence in a spring
seizure of yearning. Drenches the passerby in
dizzying scent and charges winter's
dark air without warning.

Next, the black umbrella
ribs of Styrax japonica* open to rain. Their
delicate green incipient leaves
reverse the gradual losses of autumn. Remember
this overture to the Japanese Snowbell
symphony in May when it's time to clean up
the carpet of dried flowers and pods, time to
cart uprooted seedlings away.

When navel oranges
kissed by lazy California sun, glow like
moons in every supermarket, I go
crazy, buy all I can carry. At home, they
tumble from the sack to kiss my eager lips, and as
that nectar of the gods floods my veins, I live
in lovers' paradise every juicy moment
of Seattle rains.

*Clematis montana - or Anemone Clematis, a flowering shrub (pictured above) 
*Styrax japonica - Japanese Snowbell, a flowering tree

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Day 611: Song of The Flower


Song of the Flower XXIII - Khalil Gibran
I am a kind word uttered and repeated
By the voice of Nature;
I am a star fallen from the
Blue tent upon the green carpet.
I am the daughter of the elements
With whom Winter conceived;
To whom Spring gave birth; I was
Reared in the lap of Summer and I
Slept in the bed of Autumn.

At dawn I unite with the breeze
To announce the coming of light;
At eventide I join the birds
In bidding the light farewell.

The plains are decorated with
My beautiful colors, and the air
Is scented with my fragrance.

As I embrace Slumber the eyes of
Night watch over me, and as I
Awaken I stare at the sun, which is
The only eye of the day.

I drink dew for wine, and hearken to
The voices of the birds, and dance
To the rhythmic swaying of the grass.

I am the lover's gift; I am the wedding wreath;
I am the memory of a moment of happiness;
I am the last gift of the living to the dead;
I am a part of joy and a part of sorrow.

But I look up high to see only the light,
And never look down to see my shadow.
This is wisdom which man must learn. 

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Day 610: For The Young Who Want to Write

Sharp words here, but true.

For the Young Who Want To - Marge Piercy

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don't have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.'s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else's mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you're certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Day 609: Spring Equinox

Today is the Spring Equinox, the official beginning of the spring season, hurray!

A Prayer in Spring - Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Day 608: Temptation

A song about temptation in Lent? Why not. Yes, this is a song, but it's a story too, and a poem. Just look at the many metaphors lurking in those lyrics. From the brilliant singer/songwriter, Josh Ritter.


The Temptation Of Adam - Josh Ritter

"If this was the Cold War we could keep each other warm"
I said on the first occasion that I met Marie
We were crawling through the hatch that was the missile silo door
And I don't think that she really thought that much of me

I never had to learn to love her like I learned to love the Bomb
She just came along and started to ignore me
But as we waited for the Big One I started singing her my songs
And I think she started feeling something for me

We passed the time with crosswords that she thought to bring inside
What five letters spell "apocalypse"? she asked me
I won her over singing "W.W.I.I.I."
Oh, we smiled and we both knew that she'd misjudged me

Oh Marie, it was so easy to fall in love with you
It felt almost like a home of sorts or something
And you would keep the warhead missile silo good as new
And I'd watch you with my thumb above the button

Then one night you found me in my army issue cot
And you told me of your flash of inspiration
You said fusion was the broken heart that's lonely's only thought
And all night long you drove me wild with your equations

Oh Marie, do you remember all the time we used to take
Makin' love and then ransack the rations
I think about you leaving now and the avalanche cascades
And my eyes get washed away in chain reactions

Oh Marie if you would stay then we could stick pins in the map
Of all the places where you thought that love would be found
But I would only need one pin to show where my love's at
In a top-secret location three hundred feet under the ground

Oh, we could hold each other close and stay up every night
Looking up into the dark like it's the night sky
Pretend this giant missile is an old oak tree instead
And carve our name in hearts into the warhead

Oh, Marie there's something tells me things just won't work out above
That our love would live a half-life on the surface
So at night while you are sleeping I hold you closer just because
As our time grows short I get a little nervous

Oh, I think about the Big One, W.W.I.I.I.
Would we ever really care the world had ended
You could hold me here forever like you're holding me tonight
I think about that great big button and I'm tempted

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Day 607: Continuities

'Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost...'

Thank you Walt for this comforting assurance.

 Continuities - Walt Whitman 

 Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost,
 No birth, identity, form - no object of the world.
 Nor life, nor force, nor any visible thing;
 Appearance must not foil, nor shifted sphere confuse thy brain.
 Ample are time and space - ample the fields of Nature.
 The body, sluggish, aged, cold - the embers left from earlier fires,
 The light in the eye grown dim, shall duly flame again;
 The sun now low in the west rises for mornings and for noons continual;
 To frozen clods ever the spring's invisible law returns,
 With grass and flowers and summer fruits and corn.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Day 606: Green Force


Green is the colour. Yesterday, the world went green for St Patrick's Day. Today, we turn to the greening hurrahs of Spring.


The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower - Dylan Thomas

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower   
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees   
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks   
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams   
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind   
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;   
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood   
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Day 605: Solid Ground

Today is St Patrick's Day, so I thought I'd post a poem as Gaeilge - in Irish that is - from one of our best Irish-language poets, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. 

Even if you are not familiar with Irish, have a look at the original version. The translation is below, but Irish is such a musical and poetic language, that unfortunately it doesn't translate well. The poetry in the sound and syntax of the words is ultimately lost. All the more reason for us to cherish it.

Gaineamh Shúraic - Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

A chroí, ná lig dom is mé ag dul a chodladh
titim isteach sa phluais dhorcha.
Tá eagla orm roimh an ngaineamh shúraic,
roimh na cuasa scamhaite amach ag uisce,
áiteanna ina luíonn móin faoin dtalamh.

Thíos ann tá giúis is bogdéil ársa;
tá cnámha na bhFiann 'na luí go sámh ann
a gclaimhte gan mheirg - is cailín báite,
rópa cnáibe ar a muinéal tairrice.

Tá sé  anois ina lag trá rabharta,
tá gealach lán is tráigh mhór ann,
is anocht nuair a chaithfead mo shúile a dhúnadh
bíodh talamh slán, bíodh gaineamh chruaidh romham. 

Quicksand (translated by Michael Hartnett)

My love, don't let me, going to sleep
fall into the dark cave.
I fear the sucking sand
I fear the eager hollows in the water,
places with bogholes underground.

Down there there's ancient wood and bogdeal:
the Fianna's bones are there at rest
with rustless swords - and a drowned girl,
a noose around her neck.

Now there is a weak ebb-tide:
the moon is full, the sea will leave the land
and tonight when I close my eyes
let there be terra firma, let there be hard sand.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Day 604: Hummingbird


Short and simple, but oh so sweet.

Hummingbird - Raymond Carver

Suppose I say summer,
write the word “hummingbird,”
put in an envelope,
take it down the hill
to the box. When you open
my letter you will recall
those days and how much,
just how much, I love you.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Day 603: Gamblers All


Another simple, but significant musing by Bukowski. No better poet to cut to the quick of things. (Thank you Caroline for bringing this poem to my attention :)

gamblers all - Charles Bukowski 
sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think,
I'm not going to make it, but you laugh inside
remembering all the times you've felt that way, and
you walk to the bathroom, do your toilet, see that face
in the mirror, oh my oh my oh my, but you comb your hair anyway,
get into your street clothes, feed the cats, fetch the
newspaper of horror, place it on the coffee table, kiss your
wife goodbye, and then you are backing the car out into life itself,
like millions of others you enter the arena once more.

you are on the freeway threading through traffic now,
moving both towards something and towards nothing at all as you punch
the radio on and get Mozart, which is something, and you will somehow
get through the slow days and the busy days and the dull
days and the hateful days and the rare days, all both so delightful
and so disappointing because
we are all so alike and so different.

you find the turn-off, drive through the most dangerous
part of town, feel momentarily wonderful as Mozart works
his way into your brain and slides down along your bones and
out through your shoes.

it's been a tough fight worth fighting
as we all drive along
betting on another day.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Day 602: Map of The World

A Map of the World - Ted Kooser

One of the ancient maps of the world
Is heart-shaped, carefully drawn
And once washed with bright colors,
Though the colors have faded
As you might expect feelings to fade
From a fragile old heart, the brown map
Of a life. But feeling is indelible,
And longing infinite, a starburst compass
Pointing in all the directions
Two lovers might go, a fresh breeze
Swelling their sails, the future uncharted,
Still far from the edge
Where the sea pours into the stars.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Day 601: March Morning

Yes, this is the sentiment that is in the air right now.

March Morning Unlike Others - Ted Hughes

Blue haze. Bees hanging in the air at the hive-mouth.
Crawling in prone stupor of sun
On the hive-lip. Snowdrops. Two buzzards,
Still-wings, each
Magnetized to the other,
Float orbits.
Cattle standing warm. Lit, happy stillness.
A raven, under the hill,
Coughing among bare oaks.
Aircraft, elated, splitting blue.
Leisure to stand. The knee-deep mud at the trough
Stiffening. Lambs freed to be foolish.

The earth invalid, dropsied, bruised, wheeled
Out into the sun,
After the frightful operation.
She lies back, wounds undressed to the sun,
To be healed,
Sheltered from the sneapy chill creeping North wind,
Leans back, eyes closed, exhausted, smiling
Into the sun. Perhaps dozing a little.
While we sit, and smile, and wait, and know
She is not going to die.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Day 600: Miracle Fair


'Just take a look around/the world is everywhere...'
Miracles are common. They are everywhere  - if we have the eyes to see them. And poetry brings all these miracles to our attention.  


Miracle Fair - Wislawa Szymborska
Commonplace miracle:
that so many commonplace miracles happen.

An ordinary miracle:
in the dead of night
the barking of invisible dogs.

One miracle out of many:
a small, airy cloud
yet it can block a large and heavy moon.

Several miracles in one:
an alder tree reflected in the water,
and that it's backwards left to right
and that it grows there, crown down
and never reaches the bottom,
even though the water is shallow.

An everyday miracle:
winds weak to moderate
turning gusty in storms.

First among equal miracles:
cows are cows.

Second to none:
just this orchard
from just that seed.

A miracle without a cape and top hat:
scattering white doves.

A miracle, for what else could you call it:
today the sun rose at three-fourteen
and will set at eight-o-one.

A miracle, less surprising than it should be:
even though the hand has fewer than six fingers,
it still has more than four.

A miracle, just take a look around:
the world is everywhere.

An additional miracle, as everything is additional:
the unthinkable
is thinkable.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Day 599: Spring has Sprung!

Spring has finally let itself be known this week here in Ireland. The sun is out, blue skies are above us, singing birds around us, and everything starting to look greener and brighter and all the time spirits getting higher.  

And there's only one poet who can articulate the happy-filled feelings spring engenders -  'all that was doubtful's certain,timid's bold;/old's youthful and reluctant's eager now' - and that's ee cummings. Every line of this poem captures the spirit of the season so perfectly, it's equivalent to breathing fresh air, lying in grass, smelling a flower, basking in a blue sky and smiling.

*(If you liked this poem, you can read more here: O Sweet Spontaneous Earth: EE Cummings and Spring)

now winging selves sing sweetly - ee cummings

now winging selves sing sweetly,while ghosts(there
and here)of snow cringe;dazed an earth shakes sleep
out of her brightening mind:now everywhere
space tastes of the amazement which is hope

gone are those hugest hours of dark and cold
when blood and flesh to inexistence bow
(all that was doubtful's certain,timid's bold;
old's youthful and reluctant's eager now)

anywhere upward somethings yearn and stir
piercing a tangled wrack of wishless known;
nothing is like this keen(who breathes us)air
immortal with the fragrance of begin

winter is over-now(for me and you,
darling!)life's star prances the blinding blue

Monday, 10 March 2014

Day 598: Spring is Coming

I don't post much of Larkin. It's because I find his poetry overall very depressing! But this one, surprisingly, is quite upbeat. I guess Spring brings out the optimist in everyone, even the pessimists. 

Coming - Philip Larkin

On longer evenings,
Light, chill and yellow,
Bathes the serene
Foreheads of houses.
A thrush sings,
In the deep bare garden,
Its fresh-peeled voice
Astonishing the brickwork.
It will be spring soon,
It will be spring soon --
And I, whose childhood
Is a forgotten boredom,
Feel like a child
Who comes on a scene
Of adult reconciling,
And can understand nothing
But the unusual laughter,
And starts to be happy.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Day 597: Mindful


Mindful - Mary Oliver
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Day 596: International Women's Day

What better poet to post on International Women's Day than Margaret Atwood? She can tell a thing or two about strong women, about survival against all the odds, self-acceptance and self-realisation and love.

Shadow Voice - Margaret Atwood

My shadow said to me:
what is the matter

Isn't the moon warm
enough for you
why do you need
the blanket of another body

Whose kiss is moss

Around the picnic tables
The bright pink hands held sandwiches
crumbled by distance. Flies crawl
over the sweet instant

You know what is in these blankets

The trees outside are bending with
children shooting guns. Leave
them alone. They are playing
games of their own.

I give water, I give clean crusts

Aren't there enough words
flowing in your veins
to keep you going.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Day 595: Blue Skies

The past few days I have been searching extensively for poems on blue skies. But, nope. Nothing to be found. There are poems that mention blue skies sure, but none dedicated entirely to them. A pity. Don't you think a big bright blue sky is deserving of a poem? Is there anything more uplifting than a big buoyant blue sky beaming down on you? I was especially struck by the one earlier this week (see pic above) and have been since trying to find a poem to capture it.

The one thing I could find was the famous song 'Blue Skies', written by Irving Berlin (who also wrote 'White Christmas') and sung by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald thereafter. I love the lyrics - they can't help but bring a smile to your face.

*(If you're a fan of blue skies and want to read more musing on them you may like this post: A Blue True Dream of Sky - on my other blog).

Blue Skies - Irving Berlin

I was blue, just as blue as I could be
Every day was a cloudy day for me
Then good luck came a-knocking at my door
Skies were gray but they're not gray anymore

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things looking so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you're in love, my how they fly

Blue days
All of them gone
Nothing but blue skies
From now on...

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Day 594: To Books

Today is World Book Day, so I have to post an ode to books.  

And Yet the Books - Czeslaw Milosz

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are,” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it's still a strange pageant,
Women's dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Day 593: A Light Exists in Spring

812 - Emily Dickinson

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Day 592: March

Ah March, a month of contradictions. What better way to describe its weather than 'witty peek-a-boo. A study in insincerity'? The month's good and bad elements are perfectly phrased in this poem. 


March - Richard Kenney

Sky a shook poncho.
Roof   wrung. Mind a luna moth
Caught in a banjo.

This weather’s witty
Peek-a-boo. A study in

Blues! Blooms! The yodel
Of   the chimney in night wind.
That flat daffodil.

With absurd hauteur
New tulips dab their shadows
In water-mutter.

Boys are such oxen.
Girls! — sepal-shudder, shadow-
Waver. Equinox.

Plums on the Quad did
Blossom all at once, taking
Down the power grid.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Day 591: Daffodils

It's March, month of daffodils, yellow and bright and happy. The most immortalised flower in poetry after the rose. May Swenson here compares them to telephones. Personally, I see them more as trumpets, heralding spring. How about you?

Daffodils - May Swenson

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

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

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

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Day 590: An Original Love Poem

Now, this is an original love poem if ever I've seen one. Ebullient and endearing, its honest and witty 
'say-what-you-feel'  descriptions prove its sincerity.  So many great lines you'll be gasping out loud at 
their ingenuity.

To You - Kenneth Koch

I love you as a sheriff searches for a walnut
That will solve a murder case unsolved for years
Because the murderer left it in the snow beside a window
Through which he saw her head, connecting with
Her shoulders by a neck, and laid a red
Roof in her heart. For this we live a thousand years;
For this we love, and we live because we love, we are not
Inside a bottle, thank goodness! I love you as a
Kid searches for a goat; I am crazier than shirttails
In the wind, when you’re near, a wind that blows from
The big blue sea, so shiny so deep and so unlike us;
I think I am bicycling across an Africa of green and white fields
Always, to be near you, even in my heart
When I’m awake, which swims, and also I believe that you
Are trustworthy as the sidewalk which leads me to
The place where I again think of you, a new
Harmony of thoughts! I love you as the sunlight leads the prow
Of a ship which sails
From Hartford to Miami, and I love you
Best at dawn, when even before I am awake the sun
Receives me in the questions which you always pose.