Friday, 31 July 2015

Blue Moon

Well tonight is a blue moon! An once upon a time kind of time.  Do you know that no matter how much I search I cannot find a poem on the blue moon! All other kinds of moons, sure. But not a blue moon in sight. Weird. But I think this poem by Emily Dickinson perfectly articulates the moon's beauty and mystery, and well, that last line suits me fine.

(Ps/ The formatting here has gone a bit awry - apologies - must be a Blue Moon kink in the Blogger software...!)


The Moon - Emily Dickinson

The moon was but a chin of gold
A night or two ago,
And now she turns her perfect face
Upon the world below.
Her forehead is of amplest blond;
Her cheek like beryl stone;
Her eye unto the summer dew
The likest I have known.
Her lips of amber never part;
But what must be the smile
Upon her friend she could bestow
Were such her silver will!
And what a privilege to be
But the remotest star!
For certainly her way might pass
Beside your twinkling door.
Her bonnet is the firmament,
The universe her shoe,
The stars the trinkets at her belt,
Her dimities of blue.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Summer Rain


Heavy Summer Rain - Jane Kenyon

The grasses in the field have toppled,
and in places it seems that a large, now
absent, animal must have passed the night.
The hay will right itself if the day

turns dry. I miss you steadily, painfully.
None of your blustering entrances
or exits, doors swinging wildly
on their hinges, or your huge unconscious
sighs when you read something sad,
like Henry Adams’s letters from Japan,
where he traveled after Clover died.

Everything blooming bows down in the rain:
white irises, red peonies; and the poppies
with their black and secret centers
lie shattered on the lawn.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The Midnight Club


I love this poem. An ode to night owls, geniuses of the wee hours.

The Midnight Club - Mark Strand

The gifted have told us for years that they want to be loved
For what they are, that they, in whatever fullness is theirs,
Are perishable in twilight, just like us. So they work all night
In rooms that are cold and webbed with the moon’s light;
Sometimes, during the day, they lean on their cars,
And stare into the blistering valley, glassy and golden,
But mainly they sit, hunched in the dark, feet on the floor,
Hands on the table, shirts with a bloodstain over the heart.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

When They Sleep


Thank you to one of my regular readers Janet for suggesting this poem. Beautiful and true.

When They Sleep - Rolf Jacobsen

All people are children when they sleep.
There’s no war in them then.
They open their hands and breathe
in that quiet rhythm heaven has given them.

They pucker their lips like small children
and open their hands halfway,
soldiers and statesmen, servants and masters.
The stars stand guard
and a haze veils the sky,
a few hours when no one will do anybody harm.

If only we could speak to one another then
when our hearts are half-open flowers.
Words like golden bees
would drift in.
— God, teach me the language of sleep.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Sunlight on the Garden

The Sunlight on the Garden - Louis MacNeice 

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold,
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.

Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.

The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying

And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

By the Real Sea


'Though the mind like an oyster labors on and on...'

I love the interplay between reality and imagination in this poem, and the wonderful wording. 

Two Lovers And A Beachcomber By The Real Sea - Sylvia Plath

Cold and final, the imagination
Shuts down its fabled summer house;
Blue views are boarded up; our sweet vacation
Dwindles in the hour-glass.

Thoughts that found a maze of mermaid hair
Tangling in the tide's green fall
Now fold their wings like bats and disappear
Into the attic of the skull.

We are not what we might be; what we are
Outlaws all extrapolation
Beyond the interval of now and here:
White whales are gone with the white ocean.

A lone beachcomber squats among the wrack
Of kaleidoscope shells
Probing fractured Venus with a stick
Under a tent of taunting gulls.

No sea-change decks the sunken shank of bone
That chucks in backtrack of the wave;
Though the mind like an oyster labors on and on,
A grain of sand is all we have.

Water will run by; the actual sun
Will scrupulously rise and set;
No little man lives in the exacting moon
And that is that, is that, is that.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Ice-Cream Spectrum

Ah, the grand variety of ice-cream flavours -  worthy subject-matter for a poem. This ode by Shel Silverstein is yum, fun and ah... YUM again.

Eighteen Flavours - Shel Silverstein

Eighteen luscious, scrumptious flavors
Chocolate, lime and cherry,
Coffee, pumpkin, fudge banana
Caramel cream and boysenberry.
Rocky road and toasted almond,
Butterscotch, vanilla dip,
Butter brickle, apple ripple,
Coconut and mocha chip,
Brandy peach and lemon custard,
Each scoop lovely, smooth and round,
Tallest ice cream cone in town, Lying there (sniff) on the ground.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Other Woman


So many perfect lines in this one. I love the power of that last one: truth, fantastically stated. 

Circe - Linda Pastan

I will always be the other woman.
I disappear
for a time
like the moon in daylight,
then rise at night all mother-of-pearl
so that a man’s upturned face,
will have reflected on it
the milk of longing.

And though he may leave, memory
will perfect me.
One day the light
may fall in a certain way
on Penelope’s hair,
and he will pause wildly…
but when she turns,
it will only be his wife, to whom
white sheets simply mean laundry—

even Nausikaä
in her silly braids
thought more washing linen
than of him,
preferring Odysseus
clean and oiled
to that briny,
unkempt lion
I would choose.

Let Dido and her kind
leap from cliffs
for love.
My men will moan and dream of me
for years…
desire and need become the same animal
in the silken

To be the other woman
is to be a season
that is always about to end,
when the air is flowered
with jasmine and peach,
and the weather day after day
is flawless,
and the forecast
is hurricane.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Summer Pleasures

This was the poem choice on yesterday's A Year of Being Here. Lovely.

Untitled - Yosa Buson

Ah, what a pleasure
to cross a stream in summer—
sandals in hand.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Souls on Ice

"Suppose we could iridesce...
like these, and lose ourselves
entirely in the universe
of shimmer..."
This is a poem I came across that made me go: wow. Wonderful. And the accompanying essay to it by the poet: 'Souls on Ice' 
A Display of Mackerel - Mark Doty

They lie in parallel rows,
on ice, head to tail,
each a foot of luminosity

barred with black bands,
which divide the scales’
radiant sections

like seams of lead
in a Tiffany window.
Iridescent, watery

prismatics: think abalone,
the wildly rainbowed
mirror of a soapbubble sphere,

think sun on gasoline.
Splendor, and splendor,
and not a one in any way

distinguished from the other
—nothing about them
of individuality. Instead

they’re all exact expressions
of the one soul,
each a perfect fulfilment

of heaven’s template,
mackerel essence. As if,
after a lifetime arriving

at this enameling, the jeweler’s
made uncountable examples,
each as intricate

in its oily fabulation
as the one before
Suppose we could iridesce,

like these, and lose ourselves
entirely in the universe
of shimmer—would you want

to be yourself only,
unduplicatable, doomed
to be lost? They’d prefer,

plainly, to be flashing participants,
multitudinous. Even now
they seem to be bolting

forward, heedless of stasis.
They don’t care they’re dead
and nearly frozen,

just as, presumably,
they didn’t care that they were living:
all, all for all,

the rainbowed school
and its acres of brilliant classrooms,
in which no verb is singular,

or every one is. How happy they seem,
even on ice, to be together, selfless,
which is the price of gleaming.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Summer Night


from 'The Nights' - Barry Cornwall

Oh , the Summer Night
Has a smile of light,
And she sits on a sapphire throne;
Whilst the sweet Winds load her
With garlands of odour,
From the bud to the rose o'er-blown!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Catch a Falling Star, Or, Moon

Falling Star - Sara Teasdale

I saw a star slide down the sky,
Blinding the north as it went by,
Too burning and too quick to hold,
Too lovely to be bought or sold,
Good only to make wishes on
And then forever to be gone.

Nocturne in a Deserted Brickyard - Carl Sandburg

Stuff of the moon
Runs on the lapping sand
Out to the longest shadows.
Under the curving willows,
And round the creep of the wave line,
Fluxions of yellow and dusk on the waters
Make a wide dreaming pansy of an old pond in the night.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Summer Seaside Dreaming


A Summer’s Dream - Elizabeth Bishop

To the sagging wharf
few ships could come.
The population numbered
two giants, an idiot, a dwarf,

a gentle storekeeper
asleep behind his counter,
and our kind landlady—
the dwarf was her dressmaker.

The idiot could be beguiled
by picking blackberries,
but then threw them away.
The shrunken seamstress smiled.

By the sea, lying
blue as a mackerel,
our boarding house was streaked
as though it had been crying.

Extraordinary geraniums
crowded the front windows,
the floors glittered with
assorted linoleums.

Every night we listened
for a horned owl.
In the horned lamp flame,
the wallpaper glistened.

The giant with the stammer
was the landlady’s son,
grumbling on the stairs
over an old grammar.

He was morose,
but she was cheerful.
The bedroom was cold,
the feather bed close.

We were awakened in the dark by
the somnambulist brook
nearing the sea,
still dreaming audibly.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Summer Rain


Oh, summer rain. 

The Self-playing Instrument of Water - Alice Oswald

It is the story of the falling rain
To turn into a leaf and fall again

It is the secret of a summer shower
To steal the light and hide it in a flower

And every flower a tiny tributary
That from the ground flows green and momentary

Is one of water’s wishes and this tale
Hangs in a seed head smaller than my thumbnail

If only I a passerby could pass
As clear as water through a plume of grass

To find the sunlight hidden at the tip
Turning to seed a kind of lifting raindrip

Then I might know like water how to balance
The weight of hope against the light of patience

Water which is so raw so earthy-strong
And lurks in cast iron tanks and leaks along

Drawn under gravity towards my tongue
To cool and fill the pipe-work of this song

Which is the story of the falling rain
That rises to the light and falls again

Friday, 10 July 2015

In The Stars


Don't be daunted by the length of this poem, it's uniquely magical.

A Finger, Two Dots, Then Me - Derrick Brown


Lying together in the park on Seventh,
our backs smoosh grass and I say
I will love you till I become a child again, when feeding me and bathing me is no longer romantic,
but rather necessary.

I will I love you till there is no till.
Till I die.
And when that electroencephalogram shuts down, baby
that's when the real lovin' kicks in.

Forgive me for sounding selfish
but I won't be able to wait under the earth for you
(albeit a romantic thought for groundhogs,
gophers and the gooey worms).
I will not be able to wait for you...

but I will meet up with you
and here's where you will find me:
get a pen--

Hold your finger up
(two fingers if your hands are frail by now)
and count two stars directly to the left
of the North American moon.
You will find me there.
You will find me darting behind amazing quasars
Behind flirtatious winks of bright and blasting boom stars!

Sometimes charging so far into space
the darkness goes blue.
I will be there chasing sound waves
riding them like two-dollar pony ride horses
that have finally broken free and wild.
I will be facing backwards, lying sideways,
no hands, sidesaddle, sometimes standing
sometimes screaming zip zang zowie!
My God, it's good to be back in space... Where is everybody?

You will recognize my voice.
You will see the flash of a fire trail
burning off the back of me
burning like a gasoline comet kerosene sapphire.
This is my voice.
Don't look for my body or a ghost.
I'll resemble more a pilot light than a man now.

I'm sure some will see
this cobalt star white light from earth
and cast me a wish like a wonder bomb.
And I'll think "Hmmph. people still do that?"

I'm sure I'll take the light wonder bombs
to the point in the universe
where sound does end.
The back porch of God's summer home.

It's so quiet here, you float.
It feels the way cotton candy tastes.

I say to him... why do I call you God?
He says 'Because Grand Poobah sounds ridiculous.'
(Who knew he was so witty?)
I ask him 'Lord, so many poets have tried to nail it and missed, what is holy?'

At that moment,
the planets begin to spin and awaken
and large movie screens appear on Mars, Saturn and Venus
each bearing images I have witnessed
and over each and every clip flashes the word holy.

magic tricks--holy
cows' tongues--holy
snowballs upside the head--holy
clumsy first kisses--holy
sneaking into movies--holy
your mother teaching you to slow dance
the fear returning
the fear overcome--holy
eating top ramen on upside-down frisbees
cause it was either plates or more beer--holy
drunk beach cruiser nights--holy
the $5.00 you made in vegas
and the $450.00 you lost--holy
the last time you were nervous holding hands--holy
feeling God at a pool hall but not church--holy
sleeping during your uncle's memorized dinner prayer--holy
losing your watch in the waves and all that signifies--holy
the day you got to really speak to your father cause the television broke--holy
the day your grandmother told you something meaningful
cause she was dying--holy
the medicine
the hope
the blood
the fear
the trust
the crush
the work
the loss
the love
the test
the birth
the end
the finale
the design
in the stars
is the same
in our hearts
the design
in the stars
is the same
in our hearts
in the rebuilt machinery of our hearts

So love, you should know what to look for
and exactly where to go...

Take your time and don't worry about getting lost.
You'll find me.
Up there, a finger and two dots away.
If you're wondering if I'll still be able to hold you
...I honestly don't know

But I do know that I could still fall for
a swish of light that comes barreling
and cascading towards me.

It will resemble your sweet definite hands.
The universe will bend.
The planets will bow.
And I will say "Oh, there you are.
I been waitin' for ya. Now we can go."

And the two pilot lights go zoooooooom
into the black construction paper night
as somewhere else
two other lovers lie down on their backs and say
"What the hell was that?"

Thursday, 9 July 2015


July (from 'The Months') - Linda Pastan

Tonight the fireflies
light their brief
in all the trees

of summer—
color of moonflakes,
color of fluorescent

where the ocean drags
its torn hem
over the dark

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Night View


Window - Carl Sandburg

Night from a railroad car window
Is a great, dark, soft thing
Broken across with slashes of light.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Cloud Watching

'Clouds are all sorts. They are a medium of revelation, through which the gods show themselves. They're a playground for human imagination, where we can see any number of forms and creatures ("Very like a whale!"). They are mood music, the emotional backdrop to a scene. They are complex natural phenomena, which challenge our capacity for accurate observation..." 
- On Constable's Study of Clouds, The Independent

I love clouds. They are like the sky's personality! And watching them eddy and flow is a constant fascination.

The English painter Constable is renowned for his masterly depictions of clouds and his many cloud studies. Rumour has it that he even painted a sky every day. Now there's dedication, or rather, adoration. If you want to see more of Constabe's clouds have a look here.

 Student of Clouds - Billy Collins
The emotion is to be found in clouds,
not in the green solids of the sloping hills
or even in the gray signatures of rivers,
according to Constable,who was a student of clouds
and filled shelves of notebooks with their motion,
their lofty gesturing and sudden implication of weather.

Outdoor, he must have looked up thousands of times,
his pencil trying to keep pace with their high voyaging
and the silent commotion of the eddying and flow.
Clouds would move beyond the outlines he would draw
as they moved within themselves, tumbling into their centers
and swirling off at the burning edges in vapors
to dissipate into the universal blue of the sky.

In photographs we can stop all this movement now
long enough to tag them with their Latin names.
Cirrus, nimbus, stratocumulus -
dizzying, romantic, authoritarian -
they bear their titles over the schoolhouses below
where their shapes and meanings are memorized.

High on the soft blue canvases of Constable
they are stuck in pigment but his clouds appear
to be moving still in the wind of his brush,
inching out of England and the nineteenth century
and sailing over these meadows where I am walking,
bareheaded beneath the cupola of motion,
my thoughts arranged like paint on a high blue ceiling.

Monday, 6 July 2015


Lighthouse Keeping - Kay Ryan 

Seas pleat
winds keen
fogs deepen
ships lean no
doubt, and
the lighthouse
keeper keeps
a light for
those left out.
It is intimate
and remote both
for the keeper
and those afloat.

Sunday, 5 July 2015


A poet's job description, or everyone's truest vocation, really:

Messenger - Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Summer Starry Nights

Summer night - Kobayashi Issa

Summer night-
even the stars
are whispering to each other.

Hour of Stars - Federico Garcia Lorca

The round silence of night,
one note on the stave
of the infinite.

Ripe with lost poems,
I step naked into the street.
The blackness riddled
by the singing of crickets:
that dead
that musical light
by the spirit.

A thousand butterfly skeletons
sleep within my walls.

A wild crowd of young breezes
over the river.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Silver Wind


Silver Wind - Carl Sandburg

Do you know how the dream looms? how if summer misses one of us the two
of us miss summer—
Summer when the lungs of the earth take a long breath for the change to low
contralto singing mornings when the green corn leaves first break through the
black loam—
And another long breath for the silver soprano melody of the moon songs in
the light nights when the earth is lighter than a feather, the iron mountains
lighter than a goose down—
So I shall look for you in the light nights then, in the laughter of slats of silver
under a hill hickory.
In the listening tops of the hickories, in the wind motions of the hickory
shingle leaves, in the imitations of slow sea water on the shingle silver in the
    I shall look for you.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Sea Shell

I love sea shells, don't you?

The Sea Shell - William Wordsworth

A curious child, who dwelt upon a tract
Of inland ground, applying to his ear
The convolutions of a smooth-lipped shell;
To which, in silence hushed, his very soul
Listened intensely; and his countenance soon
Brightened with joy; for murmurings from within
Were heard, sonorous cadences! whereby
To his belief, the monitor expressed
Mysterious union with his native sea.
Even in such a shell the Universe itself
Is to the ear of Faith: and there are times,
I doubt not, when to you it doth impart
Authentic tidings of invisible things;
Of ebb and flow and ever-during power;
And central peace, subsisting at the heart
Of endless agitation.