Thursday, 30 April 2015

Addendum IV: Poems To Find

'Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us/ we find poems.'

I love this poem. It says so much about the nature of poetry. And I thought it especially fitting for today, the last day of National Poetry Writing Month #NaPoWriMo. Enjoy!

Valentine For Ernest Mann - Naomi Shibab Nye

You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, “I’ll take two”
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.
Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment 
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.
Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
“I thought they had such beautiful eyes.”
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries 
crawled out and curled up at his feet.
Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the off sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Addendum III: Cherry Blossom Time

This poem makes all the more impact when you remember that symbolically and in the traditional language of flowers, cherry blossom means impermanence. Their beauty, sadly, does not last long. Judith Harris is a cherry blossom seasoned Washington poet.

(And yes, I am continuing to post here sporadically for the meantime. Sometimes I come across poems I just need to post! :)

In Your Absence - Judith Harris

Not yet summer,
but unseasonable heat
pries open the cherry tree.

It stands there stupefied,
in its sham, pink frills,
dense with early blooming.

Then, as afternoon cools
into more furtive winds,
I look up to see
a blizzard of petals
rushing the sky.

It is only April.
I can't stop my own life
from hurrying by.
The moon, already pacing.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Addendum II: April Morning

 'I was a child of the shining meadow,
I was a sister of the sky...'

This poem is blowing in my mind today and I go out into the day with it pinned to my heart. Enjoying what is left of this loveliest of months :)

Morning - Sara Teasdale 

I went out on an April morning
All alone, for my heart was high,
I was a child of the shining meadow,
I was a sister of the sky.

There in the windy flood of morning
Longing lifted its weight from me,
Lost as a sob in the midst of cheering,
Swept as a sea-bird out to sea. 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Addendum: April

I am guessing that  the curious and lovely-sounding 'quiddify' here is a likening of 'quiddity' which would mean the 'essence' of the month.  Alice Oswald's endeared and magical take on April. 

April - Alice Oswald

The sheer grip and the push of it - growth gets
a footledge in the loosest stems, it takes
the litterings of weeds and clocks them round;
your eyeballs bud and alter and you can't
step twice in the same foot - I know a road,
the curve throws it one way and another;
somebody slipped the gears and bucketed slowly
into the hawthorns and his car took root
and in its bonnet now, amazing flowers
appear and fade and quiddify the month;
and us on bicycles - it was so fast
wheeling and turning we were lifted falling, 
our blue-sky jackets filling up like vowels...
and now we float in the fair blow of springtime,
kingfishers, each astonishing the other
to be a feathered nerve, to take the crack
between the river's excess and the sun's. 


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Day 1001: The Day is Done


'Come, read to me some poem,
      Some simple and heartfelt lay...'

Well, I have reached my final destination here on this blog. One thousand poems and just one more for the road. It has been a delightful journey thus far. But from here on in, there will no longer be a daily poem posted here, I am sad to say. 

It is going to take a lot of getting used to! I have been posting daily poems here for almost 3 years! It has been grueling at times, but mostly, it has been a gift, a golden glow of purpose. 

Thank you all so much for reading and tuning in. It is not an end per se, but an end to the daily ventures. I will keep posting some more poems here on a weekly basis or thereabouts, but for now, I want to turn my attention to other things. I also want to spend some time categorising the poems here so they can be accessed more easily and read back over for enjoyment. 

For now though, I say goodbye, with the help of Longfellow. This day is done, but I hope it has filled your nights with music, as it has done mine. 

~ Siobhán

The Day is Done - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The day is done, and the darkness
      Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
      From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
      Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
      That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
      That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
      As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
      Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
      And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
      Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
      Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,
      Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
      And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
      Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
      Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
      And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
      Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
      The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
      That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
      The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
      The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,
      And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
      And as silently steal away. 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Day 1000: Mosaic of Wonder

Day 1,000 today of Poem a Day - woohoo!!!

Fragment - Amy Lowell

What is poetry? Is it a mosaic
Of coloured stones which curiously are wrought
Into a pattern? Rather glass that's taught
By patient labor any hue to take
And glowing with a sumptuous splendor, make
Beauty a thing of awe; where sunbeams caught,
Transmuted fall in sheafs of rainbows fraught
With storied meaning for religion's sake. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Day 999: Elegy for a Birthday

Today, the 13th April, is Seamus Heaney's birthday. And in honour of that here is the elegy one of his contemporaries, Paul Durcan, wrote after hearing the news of his death in August 2013.

Breaking News - Paul Durcan

I was driving up the mountain
Through the fuchsia and the sheep -
Horned black faces -
At 11.30 a.m. in the morning
Of the last Friday in August
When, fingers slipping on the dials,
Clambering out to unbolt the six-barred gate,
I switched on the radio accidentally:
'The death has been announced of the poet Seamus
A mist loomed, cloaking each sheep, sheep by sheep,
Shrouding all of the mountain and the western sea.

Inisde the house the first chill of autumn.
I block-built a few firelighters in the grate,
Kindling, peat briquettes,
Struck a FIRESIDE safety match, white flames leaping up,
And down the chimney rustled Seamus's antiphonal
Derry brogue (undiluted by Harvard, Berkeley, Oxford,
    the BBC, Carysfort, RTE, Queen's)
'Are you alright down there, Poet Durcan?'
(That's how he alwas addressed me down thirty-seven
     years -
'Poet Durcan')
'Calm down, I'm only dead, I'm only beginning
The new life, only hours and minutes into it;

I miss my wife, my children, my grandchildren, my
Most of all my mighty spouse - otherwise
I've become the spaceman I've always longed to be -
In flight - breaking the sound barrier out in the
     cosmos -
Which, since boyhood - the American Air Force in our
    fields -
The aerodomes between our hedgerows -
Has always been my dream, my home, my Elysium -
After a lifetime of being neither here nor there -
Of being Kidnapped by Time -
I am out in the cosmos -
Tramping the Milky Way with my father and mother -
Our neighbour Rosie Keenan singing shut-eyed at the
    well -
Tiepolo skies, salmon-pink, white, gold beneath our
    feet -
Never getting above ourselves, what it's all about -
Damascus, Athens, Jerusalem, children -
Don there below us, north-west Europe -
Anahorish, Mossbawn, Bellaghy -
Swarms of midges in veiled autumn evening light -
Anna Rose, Aibhín, Síofra - the other world -
And now I put the key for the first time
Into the door of my father's house.'

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Day 998: Still Start

Well, isn't this the truth? 

Still Start - Kay Ryan
As if engine
parts could be
wrenched out
at random and
the car would
still start and
sound even,
hearts can go
with chambers
broken open.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Day 997: Swifts

Swifts - Anne Stevenson
Spring comes little, a little. All April it rains.
The new leaves stick in their fists; new ferns still fiddleheads.
But one day the swifts are back. Face to the sun like a child
You shout, 'The swifts are back!'

Sure enough, bolt nocks bow to carry one sky-scyther
Two hundred miles an hour across fullblown windfields.
Swereee swereee. Another. And another.
It's the cut air falling in shrieks on our chimneys and roofs.

The next day, a fleet of high crosses cruises in ether.
These are the air pilgrims, pilots of air rivers.
But a shift of wing, and they're earth-skimmers, daggers
Skilful in guiding the throw of themselves away from themselves.

Quick flutter, a scimitar upsweep, out of danger of touch, for
Earth is forbidden to them, water's forbidden to them,
All air and fire, little owlish ascetics, they outfly storms,
They rush to the pillars of altitude, the thermal fountains.

Here is a legend of swifts, a parable —
When the Great Raven bent over earth to create the birds,
The swifts were ungrateful. They were small muddy things
Like shoes, with long legs and short wings,

So they took themselves off to the mountains to sulk.
And they stayed there. 'Well,' said the Raven, after years of this,
'I will give you the sky. You can have the whole sky
On condition that you give up rest.'

'Yes, yes,' screamed the swifts, 'We abhor rest.
We detest the filth of growth, the sweat of sleep,
Soft nests in the wet fields, slimehold of worms.
Let us be free, be air!'

So the Raven took their legs and bound them into their bodies.
He bent their wings like boomerangs, honed them like knives.
He streamlined their feathers and stripped them of velvet.
Then he released them, Never to Return

Inscribed on their feet and wings. And so
We have swifts, though in reality, not parables but
Bolts in the world's need: swift
Swifts, not in punishment, not in ecstasy, simply

Sleepers over oceans in the mill of the world's breathing.
The grace to say they live in another firmament.
A way to say the miracle will not occur,
And watch the miracle.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Day 996: Up Into the Silence

up into the silence - ee cummings

up into the silence the green
silence with a white earth in it

you will(kiss me)go

out into the morning the young
morning with a warm world in it

(kiss me)you will go

on into the sunlight the fine
sunlight with a firm day in it

you will go(kiss me

down into your memory and
a memory and memory

i)kiss me,(will go)

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Day 995: Perfect Spring Day

I've been keeping this poem for the red carpet roll-out of a perfect spring day. Well, today is certainly that: the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the sky is blue, everywhere things are beginning to look green again and fanfares of flowers wave their pretty heads. Hurray!

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.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Day 994: Ballad of The Washed Hair


Washing hair - hardly a subject for poetry - or is it? Why of course!

Ballad of The Washed Hair -  Yehuda Amichai

The stones on the mountain are always
awake and white.
In the dark town, angels on duty
are changing shifts.
A girl who has washed her hair
asks the hard world, as if it were Samson,
where is it weak, what is its secret.
A girl who has washed her hair
puts new clouds on her head.
The scent of her drying hair is
prophesying in the streets and among stars.
The nervous air between the night trees
starts to relax.
The thick telephone book of world history

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Day 993: The Flying Notebook

April is National Poetry Month and so this poem seems perfect right now. And at the rate of writing a poem a day - it seems more than appropriate! 

The Flying Notebook - Billy Collins 

With its spiraling metal body
and white pages for wings
my notebook flies over my bed while I sleep—

a bird full of quotations and tiny images
who loves the night’s dark rooms,
glad now to be free of my scrutiny and my pen point.

Tomorrow, it will go with me
into the streets where I may stop to look
at my reflection in a store window,

and later I may break a piece of bread
at a corner table in a restaurant
then scribble something down.

But tonight it flies around me in circles
sailing through a column of moonlight
then beating its paper wings even more,

once swooping so low
as to ripple the surface of a lake
in a dream in which I happen to be drowning.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Day 992: Easter Exultet

'everything transforms!'

This poem I came across on A Year of Being Here a wonderful daily poetry blog of mindfulness poems. This one I just love. It does exactly as it says in the title. Exuberant, jubilant, it is full of the joys of the season.

Easter Exultet - James Broughton 

Shake out your qualms. 
Shake up your dreams. 
Deepen your roots. 
Extend your branches. 
Trust deep water 
and head for the open, 
even if your vision 
shipwrecks you.
Quit your addiction 
to sneer and complain. 
Open a lookout. 
Dance on a brink. 
Run with your wildfire. 
You are closer to glory 
leaping an abyss
than upholstering a rut. 
Not dawdling. 
Not doubting. 
Intrepid all the way 
Walk toward clarity. 
At every crossroad 
Be prepared 
to bump into wonder. 
Only love prevails. 
En route to disaster 
insist on canticles. 
Lift your ineffable 
out of the mundane. 
Nothing perishes; 
nothing survives; 
everything transforms! 
Honeymoon with Big Joy! 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Day 991: Easter

  'Let in joy this Easter Day. '

I love the language in this poem. And how the religious joy of Easter Sunday is married to the joy of spring, both effectively evoked by the jaunty rhythm and word choice. 

Happy Easter!

Easter - Gerard Manley Hopkins

Break the box and shed the nard;
Stop not now to count the cost;
Hither bring pearl, opal, sard;
Reck not what the poor have lost;
Upon Christ throw all away:
Know ye, this is Easter Day.

Build His church and deck His shrine,
Empty though it be on earth;
Ye have kept your choicest wine—
Let it flow for heavenly mirth;
Pluck the harp and breathe the horn:
Know ye not 'tis Easter morn?

Gather gladness from the skies;
Take a lesson from the ground;
Flowers do ope their heavenward eyes
And a Spring-time joy have found;
Earth throws Winter's robes away,
Decks herself for Easter Day.

Beauty now for ashes wear,
Perfumes for the garb of woe,
Chaplets for dishevelled hair,
Dances for sad footsteps slow;
Open wide your hearts that they
Let in joy this Easter Day.

Seek God's house in happy throng;
Crowded let His table be;
Mingle praises, prayer, and song,
Singing to the Trinity.
Henceforth let your souls always
Make each morn an Easter Day.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Day 990: Pink Moon

Tonight is April's full moon, the pink moon. And this haiku short and simple, fits.

Spring Air - Matsuo Bashō

Spring air -
Woven moon
And plum scent.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Day 989: Balloons

It's my birthday today so I'm choosing something light and floaty and happy: a poem about balloons. There's a fanfare of colour in this poem that is just wonderful. Up, up, and away!

Les Ballons (The Balloons)  - Oscar Wilde

Against these turbid turquoise skies
The light and luminous balloons
Dip and drift like satin moons,
Drift like silken butterflies;

Reel with every windy gust,
Rise and reel like dancing girls,
Float like strange transparent pearls,
Fall and float like silver dust.

Now to the low leaves they cling,
Each with coy fantastic pose,
Each a petal of a rose
Straining at a gossamer string.

Then to the tall trees they climb,
Like thin globes of amethyst,
Wandering opals keeping tryst
With the rubies of the lime.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Day 988: April Prayer


April Prayer - Stuart Kestenbaum

Just before the green begins there is the hint of green
a blush of color, and the red buds thicken
the ends of the maple’s branches and everything
is poised before the start of a new world,
which is really the same world
just moving forward from bud
to flower to blossom to fruit
to harvest to sweet sleep, and the roots
await the next signal, every signal
every call a miracle and the switchboard
is lighting up and the operators are
standing by in the pledge drive we’ve
all been listening to: Go make the call.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Day 987: Return of Spring

 Yes. I love this poem. Love, love, love! Welcome back Spring and hello April! :)

Spring - Linda Pastan

Just as we lose hope
she ambles in,
a late guest
dragging her hem
of wildflowers,
her torn
veil of mist,
of light rain,
her dandelion
in our ears;
and we forgive her,
turning from
chilly winter
we throw off
our faithful
and open
our arms.