Saturday, 31 May 2014

Day 680: Be Alive

Inventive, infectious, brimming with jubilant joie-de-vivre, a mighty salutation to live life - why it can only be ee cummings:

i will wade out ~ ee cummings
i will wade out
                        till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers
I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
                                                 with closed eyes
to dash against darkness
                                       in the sleeping curves of my body
Shall enter fingers of smooth mastery
with chasteness of sea-girls
                                            Will i complete the mystery
                                            of my flesh
I will rise
               After a thousand years
             And set my teeth in the silver of the moon

Friday, 30 May 2014

Day 679: Possibility

Image of 'That Tree' by Mark Hirsch

For me, this is the time of year in which possibility abounds. 

It's everywhere, a feeling of newness, of potential: in the greening of the trees, the new long-lasting light, the school holiday season and advance into a kaleidoscope of summer colours, the approach of the heart of the year, figuratively speaking. 

Standing on the cusp of May, the cusp of summer, the cusp of freefalling wide open space dreaming/doing, the view of the horizon is magnificent. There's no better feeling in the world really than of things being possible. Like Emily, this is the time that 'I dwell in possibility.' 

And what a lovely place it is to be.

I Dwell in Possibility (657) ~ Emily Dickinson

I dwell in Possibility—
A fairer House than Prose—
More numerous of Windows—
Superior—for Doors—

Of Chambers as the Cedars—
Impregnable of Eye—
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky—

Of Visitors—the fairest—
For Occupation—This—
The spreading wide of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise—

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Day 678: On the Pulse of Morning

Very sad to hear news of the death of Maya Angelou yesterday. Another great voice gone - poet, novelist, civil-rights campaigner, inspiring orator of compassion.

Here is her poem she recited at the 1993 American Presidential Inauguration. I think it showcases her ability to write powerful sentiments in a clear-sighted way, one that always manages to land on the bulls-eye of the heart with imploding force. 

(You can read some more of her poems by clicking here: Maya Angelou poems)

On the Pulse of Morning - Maya Angelou
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

I will give you no more hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers- desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours- your Passages have been paid.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning. 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Day 677: New Moon Musing

New moon tonight, best time for new beginnings.

New Moon - Ted Kooser

How much it must bear on its back,
a great ball of blue shadow,
yet somehow it shines, keeps up
an appearance. For hours tonight,
I walked beneath it, learning.
I want to be better at carrying sorrow.
If my face is a mask, formed over
the shadows that fill me,
may I smile on the world like the moon. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Day 676: Memory of a Loss of Wings

Memory of a Loss of Wings - WS Mervin

An hour comes
to close a door behind me
the whole of night opens before me

Monday, 26 May 2014

Day 675: Relax

A poem for a Monday if ever I saw one!

Relax - Ellen Bass

Bad things are going to happen.
Your tomatoes will grow a fungus
and your cat will get run over.
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream
melting in the car and throw
your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.
Your husband will sleep
with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling
out of her blouse. Or your wife
will remember she’s a lesbian
and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat -
the one you never really liked – will contract a disease
that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth
every four hours. Your parents will die.
No matter how many vitamins you take,
how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys,
your hair and your memory. If your daughter
doesn’t plug her heart
into every live socket she passes,
you’ll come home to find your son has emptied
the refrigerator, dragged it to the curb,
and called the used appliance store for a pick up - drug money.
There’s a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger.
When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine
and climbs half way down. But there’s also a tiger below.
And two mice – one white, one black – scurry out
and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point
she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice.
She looks up, down, at the mice.
Then she eats the strawberry.
So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse
in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat,
slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel
and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely.
Oh taste how sweet and tart
the red juice is, how the tiny seeds
crunch between your teeth.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Day 674: The Love in Unrequited Love

Only Mary Oliver could approach the painful situation of unrequited love with unyielding grace and acceptance. Beautiful.

Doesn't every Poet Write a Poem About Unrequited Love - Mary Oliver
The flowers
I wanted to bring to you,
wild and wet
from the pale dunes

and still smelling
of the summer night
and still holding a moment or two
of the night crickets

humble prayer,
would have been
so handsome
in your hands -

so happy - I dare to say it -
in your hands -
yet your smile
would have been nowhere

and maybe you would have tossed them
onto the ground,
or maybe, for tenderness,
you would have taken them

into your house
and given them water
and put them in a dark corner
out of reach.

In matters of love
of this kind
there are things we long to do
but must not do.

I would not want to see
your smile diminished.
And the flowers, anyway,
are happy just where they are,

on the pale dunes,
above the cricket's humble nest,
under the blue sky
that loves us all.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Day 673: Example from a Butterfly


This poem is really short, really simple, but my, does it make a big statement.

The Example - William Henry Davies

Here's an example from
A Butterfly;
That on a rough, hard rock
Happy can lie;
Friendless and all alone
On this unsweetened stone.

Now let my bed be hard
No care take I;
I'll make my joy like this
Small Butterfly;
Whose happy heart has power
To make a stone a flower. 


Friday, 23 May 2014

Day 672: Design


From small to big, and vice-versa.

Design - Billy Collins

I pour a coating of salt on the table
and make a circle in it with my finger.
This is the cycle of life
I say to no one.
This is the wheel of fortune,
the Arctic Circle.
This is the ring of Kerry
and the white rose of Tralee
I say to the ghosts of my family,
the dead fathers,
the aunt who drowned,
my unborn brothers and sisters,
my unborn children.
This is the sun with its glittering spokes
and the bitter moon.
This is the absolute circle of geometry
I say to the crack in the wall,
to the birds who cross the window.
This is the wheel I just invented
to roll through the rest of my life
I say
touching my finger to my tongue.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Day 671: The Right Ears

I love it when a poem comes along that offers wisdom in been-there-done-that-learned-this advice.

You Have to Be Careful - Naomi Shihab Nye

You have to be careful telling things.
Some ears are tunnels.
Your words will go in and get lost in the dark.
Some ears are flat pans like the miners used
looking for gold.
What you say will be washed out with the stones.
You look for a long time till you find the right ears.
Till then, there are birds and lamps to be spoken to,
a patient cloth rubbing shine in circles,
and the slow, gradually growing possibility
that when you find such ears
they already know.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Day 670: Some Glad Morning

Some Glad Morning - Joyce Sutphen

One day, something very old
happened again. The green
came back to the branches,
settling like leafy birds
on the highest twigs;
the ground broke open
as dark as coffee beans.

The clouds took up their
positions in the deep stadium
of the sky, gloving the
bright orb of the sun
before they pitched it
over the horizon.

It was as good as ever:
the air was filled
with the scent of lilacs
and cherry blossoms
sounded their long
whistle down the track
It was some glad morning.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Day 669: In the Orchard

'This bowl, life, that we fill and fill.'

This lovely new poem by Carol Ann Duffy featured as The Guardian's Saturday Poem this week.  It was written to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Charleston festival, which is held at the former home of the Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. (See more details here:

Its language as always, is lilting and lovely, perfectly expressing the dreaminess of the setting and the message behind it. 

Lessons in the Orchard - Carol Ann Duffy

An apple's soft thump on the grass, somewhen
in this place. What was it? Beauty of Bath.
What was it? Yellow, vermillion, round, big, splendid;
already escaping the edge of itself,
                               like the mantra of bees,
like the notes of rosemary, tarragon, thyme.
Poppies scumble their colour onto the air,
now and there, here, then and again.
the heart's impulse to cherish; thus,
a woman petalling paint onto a plate –
cornflower blue –
as the years pressed out her own violet ghost;
that slow brush of vanishing cloud on the sky.

And the dragonfly's talent for turquoise.
And the goldfish art of the pond.
And the open windows calling the garden in.

This bowl, life, that we fill and fill.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Day 668: Everybody Has a Heartache

Cape Heartache 2 CaFleurebon

'The famished spirit eats fire, poetry, and rain; it only wants love...'

Everybody Has a Heartache: A Blues - Joy Harjo

In the United terminal in Chicago at five on a Friday afternoon
The sky is breaking with rain and wind and all the flights
Are delayed forever. We will never get to where we are going
And there’s no way back to where we’ve been.
The sun and the moon have disappeared to an island far from 

Everybody has a heartache -

The immense gatekeeper of Gate Z–100 keeps his cool.
This guardian of the sky teases me and makes me smile through the mess,
Building up his airline by stacking it against the company I usually travel:
Come on over to our side, we’ll treat you nice.
I laugh as he hands me back my ticket, then he turns to charm
The next customer, his feet tired in his minimum wage shoes.

Everybody has a heartache -

The man with his head bobbing to music no one else can hear has that satisfied
Feel - a full belly of sweet and a wife who sings heartache to sleep.
In his luggage (that will be lost and never found) is a musty dream of flying
Solo to Africa, with a stop on the return to let go the stories too difficult to
Carry home. He’ll take off his shoes to walk in a warm, tropical sea.
He’ll sing to the ancestors:
Take me home to mama. No one cooks like her.
But all the mamas worked to the bone gone too young.
Broken by The Man.

Everybody has a heartache -

Everyone’s mouthing fried, sweet, soft and fat,
While we wait for word in the heart of the scrambled beast.
The sparkle of soda wets the dream core.
That woman over there the color of broth did what she was told.
It’s worked out well as can be expected in a world
Where she was no beauty queen and was never seen,
Always in the back of someplace in the back -
She holds the newest baby. He has croup.
Shush, shush. Go to sleep, my little baby sheepie.
He sits up front of her with his new crop of teeth.

Everybody has a heartache -

This man speaks to no one, but his body does.
Half his liver is swollen with anger; the other half is trying
To apologize -
What a mess I’ve made of history, he thinks without thinking.
Mother coming through the screen door, her clothes torn,
Whimpering: It’s okay baby, please don’t cry.

Don’t cry. Baby don’t cry.
And he never cries again.

Everybody has a heartache -

Baby girl dressed to impress, toddles about with lace on this and ruffle on that -
Her mother’s relatives are a few hundred miles away poised to 
They might as well live on a planet of ice cream.
She’s a brand new wing, grown up from a family’s broken hope.
Dance girl, you carry our joy.
Just don’t look down.

Everybody has a heartache -

Good-looking punk girl taps this on her screen
to a stranger she has never seen:
Just before dawn, you’re high again beneath a marbled sky,

I was slick fine leather with a drink in my hand.
Flying with a comet messenger nobody sees.
The quick visitor predicts that the top will be the bottom

And the bottom will flatten and dive into the sea.
I want to tell her:
You will dine with the lobster king, and
You will dance with crabs clicking castanets. You will sleep-
Walk beyond the vestibule of sadness with a stranger
You have loved for years.

Everybody has a heartache -

This silence in the noise of the terminal is a mountain of bison skulls.
Nobody knows, nobody sees -
Unless the indigenous are dancing powwow all decked out in flash and beauty
We just don’t exist. We’ve been dispersed to an outlaw cowboy tale.
What were they thinking with all those guns and those handcuffs
In a size for babies?
They just don’t choose to remember.
We’re here.

In the terminal of stopped time I went unsteady to the beat,
Driven by a hungry spirit who is drunk with words and songs.
What can I do?
I have to take care of it.
The famished spirit eats fire, poetry, and rain; it only wants love.

I argue:

You want love?

Do you even know what it looks like, smells like?

But you cannot argue with hungry spirits.

I don’t know exactly where I’m going; I only know where I’ve been,
I want to tell the man who sifted through the wreck to find us here
In the blues shack of disappeared history -
I feel the weight of his heart against my cheek.
His hand is on my back pulling me to him in the dark, to a place
No soldiers can reach.
I hear the whoop-cries of warriors calling fire for a stand
Against the brutality of forgetfulness -

Everybody has a heartache -

We will all find our way, no matter fire leaping through holes in jump time,
No matter earthquake, or the breaking of love spilling over the deck of matter
In the ether, stacking one burden
Against the other -

We have a heartache.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Day 667: Fluent

 Fluent - John O'Donohue

I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Day 666: Touch of the Muse

'Call of the Sea' ~ Josephine Wall

Nothing - Margaret Atwood

Nothing like love to put blood
back in the language,
the difference between the beach and its
discrete rocks and shards, a hard
cuneiform, and the tender cursive
of waves; bone and liquid fish egg, desert
& salt marsh, a green push
out of death. The vowels plump
again like lips or soaked fingers, and the fingers
themselves move around these
softening pebbles as around skin. The sky's
not vacant and over there but close
against your eyes, molten, so near
you can taste it. It tastes of
salt. What touches
you is what you touch.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Day 665: Love is a Fool Star

Well I'm reading 'Love in the Time of Cholera' (by Gabriel Garcia Marquez) right now and this poem just seems to fit exactly the throes of unrequited loved described therein. What a terrible thing it is, with unnecessary suffering and consequences. Makes love seem a fool alright.

Offering and Rebuff - Carl Sandburg

I could love you
as dry roots love rain.
I could hold you
as branches in the wind
brandish petals.
Forgive me for speaking so soon.

    Let your heart look
    on white sea spray
    and be lonely.

    Love is a fool star.

    You and a ring of stars
    may mention my name
    and then forget me.

    Love is a fool star.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Day 664: Dazzle of the Day

It's May and the days are dazzling alright. Pablo Neruda captures the newfound sense of joy here.

Dazzle of the Day - Pablo Neruda

Enough now of the wet eyes of winter.
Not one single tear.
Hour by hour, green is beginning,
the essential season, leaf by leaf,
until, by spring’s name, we are summoned
to take part in its joy.

How wonderful, its eternal openness,
clean air, the promise of flower,
the full moon leaving
its calling card in the foliage,
men and women trailing from the beach
with a wet basket of shifting silver.

Like love, like a medal,
I welcome it,
I take it all in,
from south, from north, from violins,
from dogs,
lemons, clay,
from newly liberated air,
machines smelling of mystery,
storm-colored shopping,
everything I need:
orange blossoms, string,
grapes like topazes,
the whiff of waves.
I gather it up
I breathe.

I dry my shirt in the wind,
and my opened heart.
The sky falls
and falls.
From my glass,
I drink
pure joy.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Day 663: To The Dandelion


Who says that dandelions are weeds? Have you ever thought of them as an 'El Dorado' in the grass?  Let's see if this poem can change your perspective!

To The Dandelion - James Russell Lowell

Dear common flower, that grow'st beside the way,
Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold,
First pledge of blithesome May,
Which children pluck, and, full of pride uphold,
High-hearted buccaneers, o'erjoyed that they
An Eldorado in the grass have found,
Which not the rich earth's ample round
May match in wealth, thou art more dear to me
Than all the prouder summer-blooms may be.

Gold such as thine ne'er drew the Spanish prow
Through the primeval hush of Indian seas,
Nor wrinkled the lean brow
Of age, to rob the lover's heart of ease;
'Tis the Spring's largess, which she scatters now
To rich and poor alike, with lavish hand,
Though most hearts never understand
To take it at God's value, but pass by
The offered wealth with unrewarded eye.

Thou art my tropics and mine Italy;
To look at thee unlocks a warmer clime;
The eyes thou givest me
Are in the heart, and heed not space or time:
Not in mid June the golden-cuirassed bee
Feels a more summer-like warm ravishment
In the white lily's breezy tent,
His fragrant Sybaris, than I, when first
From the dark green thy yellow circles burst.

Then think I of deep shadows on the grass,
Of meadows where in sun the cattle graze,
Where, as the breezes pass,
The gleaming rushes lean a thousand ways,
Of leaves that slumber in a cloudy mass,
Or whiten in the wind, of waters blue
That from the distance sparkle through
Some woodland gap, and of a sky above,
Where one white cloud like a stray lamb doth move.

My childhood's earliest thoughts are linked with thee;
The sight of thee calls back the robin's song,
Who, from the dark old tree
Beside the door, sang clearly all day long,
And I, secure in childish piety,
Listened as if I heard an angel sing
With news from heaven, which he could bring
Fresh every day to my untainted ears
When birds and flowers and I were happy peers.

How like a prodigal doth nature seem,
When thou, for all thy gold, so common art!
Thou teachest me to deem
More sacredly of every human heart,
Since each reflects in joy its scanty gleam
Of heaven, and could some wondrous secret show,
Did we but pay the love we owe,
And with a child's undoubting wisdom look
On all these living pages of God's book.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Day 662: Blue Swallows

The swallows are back! Have you seen them yet? Writing their way across the sky. 

Blue Swallows - Howard Nemerov
Across the millstream below the bridge
Seven blue swallows divide the air
In shapes invisible and evanescent,
Kaleidoscopic beyond the mind’s
Or memory’s power to keep them there.

“History is where tensions were,”
“Form is the diagram of forces.”
Thus, helplessly, there on the bridge,
While gazing down upon those birds—
How strange, to be above the birds!—
Thus helplessly the mind in its brain
Weaves up relation’s spindrift web,
Seeing the swallows’ tails as nibs
Dipped in invisible ink, writing…

Poor mind, what would you have them write?
Some cabalistic history
Whose authorship you might ascribe
To God? to Nature? Ah, poor ghost,
You’ve capitalized your Self enough.
That villainous William of Occam
Cut out the feet from under that dream
Some seven centuries ago.
It’s taken that long for the mind
To waken, yawn and stretch, to see
With opened eyes emptied of speech
The real world where the spelling mind
Imposes with its grammar book
Unreal relations on the blue
Swallows. Perhaps when you will have
Fully awakened, I shall show you
A new thing: even the water
Flowing away beneath those birds
Will fail to reflect their flying forms,
And the eyes that see become as stones
Whence never tears shall fall again.

O swallows, swallows, poems are not
The point. Finding again the world,
That is the point, where loveliness
Adorns intelligible things
Because the mind’s eye lit the sun. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

Day 661: Forsythia


In keeping with the flower theme of the month, here's Billy Collins contemplating forsythia. 

Forsythia - Billy Collins 

It caught my eye a while ago, lit up 
against the gloom of the woods
in the corner of a wild field,
the pulsing color of caution. 

And now that I have spent a little time
on this stone wall watching its fire
flare out of the earth
I begin to think about the long chronicle of forsythia

how these same flowers have blazed
through the centuries,
roused from the ground by the churning of spring.
I would rather not look around the next 

corner of the year to see how this will die,
its lights going out,
its bare, arcing branches
waving like whips in the bitter wind. 

So I sit facing the past,
letting my feet dangle over the wall, 
beating time against stone with my heels
as the long gray clouds roll over me. 

Remember how Arnold by the Channel
thought of Sophocles who must have heard 
the same shore-sounds long ago,
walking by the edge of the Aegean?

Well, I am holding in the palm of my thoughts
all the others who once were stopped,
like me, by this brightness, 
this sulfuric cry for help:

women in tunics, women gathered by a well,
men in feathers, men swimming by a river, 
all speaking languages I will never know,
saying the different words for its color 

as I feel the syllables of yellow form in my mouth 
and hear the sound of yellow fill the morning air. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Day 660: Ditty of First Desire

Ditty of First Desire - Federico Garcia Lorca

In the green morning
I wanted to be a heart.
A heart.

And in the ripe evening
I wanted to be a nightingale.
A nightingale.

turn orange-colored.
turn the color of love.)

In the vivid morning
I wanted to be myself.
A heart.

And at the evening’s end
I wanted to be my voice.
A nightingale.

turn orange-colored.
turn the color of love.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Day 659: Talking to Little Birdies

Charles Simic's birthday was yesterday, so here he is today with one of his trademark playful poems. Happy Saturday! 

Talking to Little Birdies - Charles Simic 

Not a peep out of you now
After the bedlam early this morning.
Are you begging pardon of me
Hidden up there among the leaves,
Or are your brains momentarily overtaxed?

You savvy a few things I don't:
The overlooked sunflower seed worth a holler;
The traffic of cats in the yard;
Strangers leaving the widow's house,
Tieless and wearing crooked grins.

Or have you got wind of the world's news?
Some new horror I haven't heard about yet?
Which one of you was so bold as to warn me,
Our sweet setup is in danger?

Kids are playing soldiers down the road,
Pointing their rifles and playing dead.
Little birdies, are you sneaking wary looks
In the thick foliage as you hear me say this? 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Day 658: Something I've Not Done


As Mark Twain said it's the things you have not done in life that you will regret the most. 

This poem is a powerful piece on the subject, haunting, even. Makes you think. As a good poem should. But even better, maybe it will make you act - on that something you've always wanted to do, but haven't, yet. There's still time.

Something I've Not Done - W. S. Merwin

Something I've not done
is following me
I haven't done it again and again
so it has many footsteps
like a drumstick that's grown old and never been used

In late afternoon I hear it come closer
at times it climbs out of a sea
onto my shoulders
and I shrug it off
losing one more chance

Every morning
it's drunk up part of my breath for the day
and knows which way
I'm going
and already it's not done there

But once more I say I'll lay hands on it
and add its footsteps to my heart
and its story to my regrets
and its silence to my compass

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Day 657: A Blessing


Experiences with nature of course, can bring us closer to joy. The last line here is wonderful.


A Blessing - James Wright

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more, they begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Day 656: White Peony


Sometimes the shortest is the sweetest. In this case, nectar sweet. Lovely.

White Peony - Margaret Chula

carrying moonlight
into the house
white peony

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Day 655: Lilac Time

May is the month of flowers, so I'll be posting lots of flower-inspired poems over the month. Hope you enjoy. 

Today here's Walt Whitman's homage to spring, via lilacs. You can't but feel happy, euphoric even with enthusiasm, when you read Whitman. 

Warble for Lilac Time - Walt Whitman 

Warble me now for joy of lilac-time, (returning in reminiscence,)
Sort me O tongue and lips for Nature's sake, souvenirs of earliest summer,
Gather the welcome signs, (as children with pebbles or stringing shells,)
Put in April and May, the hylas croaking in the ponds, the elastic air,
Bees, butterflies, the sparrow with its simple notes,
Blue-bird and darting swallow, nor forget the high-hole flashing his golden wings,
The tranquil sunny haze, the clinging smoke, the vapor,
Shimmer of waters with fish in them, the cerulean above,
All that is jocund and sparkling, the brooks running,
The maple woods, the crisp February days and the sugarmaking,
The robin where he hops, bright-eyed, brown-breasted,
With musical clear call at sunrise, and again at sunset,
Or flitting among the trees of the apple-orchard, building the nest of his mate,
The melted snow of March, the willow sending forth its yellow-green sprouts,
For spring-time is here! the summer is here! and what is this in it and from it?
Thou, soul, unloosen'd - the restlessness after I know not what;
Come, let us lag here no longer, let us be up and away!
O if one could but fly like a bird!
O to escape, to sail forth as in a ship!
To glide with thee O soul, o'er all, in all, as a ship o'er the waters;
Gathering these hints, the preludes, the blue sky, the grass, the morning drops 

        of dew,
The lilac-scent, the bushes with dark green heart-shaped leaves,
Wood-violets, the little delicate pale blossoms called innocence,
Samples and sorts not for themselves alone, but for their atmosphere,
To grace the bush I love - to sing with the birds,
A warble for joy of returning in reminiscence.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Day 654: May Mornings

Happy May Day! And may you have many May mornings like these ~

May Mornings - Denise Levertov

May mornings wear
light cashmere shawls of quietness,
brush back waterfalls of
burnished silk from
clear and round brows.
When we see them approaching
over lawns, trailing
dewdark shadows and footprints,
we remember, ah
yes, the May mornings,
how could we have forgotten,
what solace
it would be in the bitter violence
of fire then ice again we
apprehend – but
it seems the May mornings
are a presence known
only as they pass
light stepped, seriously smiling, bearing
each a leaflined basket
of wakening flowers.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Day 653: Jazz Fantasia


My ears are still buzzing from last night's jazz!  I've always wondered how to describe the sounds of jazz in words... here's a good attempt at it by Carl Sandburg.

Jazz Fantasia - Carl Sandburg

Drum on your drums, batter on your banjoes,
sob on the long cool winding saxophones.
Go to it, O jazzmen.

Sling your knuckles on the bottoms of the happy
tin pans, let your trombones ooze, and go husha-
husha-hush with the slippery sand-paper.

Moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops,
moan soft like you wanted somebody terrible, cry like a
racing car slipping away from a motorcycle cop, bang-bang!
you jazzmen, bang altogether drums, traps, banjoes, horns,
tin cans — make two people fight on the top of a stairway
and scratch each other's eyes in a clinch tumbling down
the stairs.

Can the rough stuff . . . now a Mississippi steamboat pushes
up the night river with a hoo-hoo-hoo-oo . . . and the green
lanterns calling to the high soft stars . . . a red moon rides
on the humps of the low river hills . . . go to it, O jazzmen.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Day 652: Sidewalk Ends

Where the Sidewalk Ends - Shel Silverstein
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Day 651: Tree Season

I always think of this poem at this time of the year when the trees are getting leafier and greener by the day. It is exactly, as Larkin says here, 'like something almost being said.' 

Whatever about Larkin's trademark pessimism sneaking in with 'their greenness is a kind of grief' - (pah! greenness  is life, it is energy!) the poem is refreshingly optimistic. Especially that last onomatopoeic line in which you can hear the rustling of the leaves and their chant of rebirth: 'Begin afresh, afresh, afresh...'

The Trees - Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Day 650: Welcome May

'We longed for thee and thy merry hours./ Oh, thou most beautiful month of spring!...'

Can you believe that it's May? Already! Beautiful blue sky flowering May. 

Gathering Flowers in May - Mary Dow Brine


Welcome, welcome, beautiful May!
Welcome thou, and thy garlands gay!
The earth is glad with thy sunny smile,
And sweet with the breath of new-mown hay.
Lavish of all thy glory, thou:
See! thou hast flung thy treasures down
Till the earth is gay in her new-found wealth,
And jubilant in her floral crown.

Fairer thou art, oh, beautiful May!
Than even thy sister, whose reign is o'er,
The blue-eyed April, who wept and smiled,
And softened the earth so cold before.
She sang of thee, and our hearts were glad
With thoughts of the joys sweet May would bring;
We longed for thee and thy merry hours.
Oh, thou most beautiful month of spring!

There are sounds of pleasure o'er all the earth;
There are sweet birds singing in bush and tree;
There are laughing voices, and songs of mirth,
And joyous faces to welcome thee.
There are busy fingers in every field
Plucking thy treasures rich and rare;
Oh, May! so lovingly bountiful,
Welcomes must greet thee everywhere.