Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Drift Away


But isn't summer all about drift? 

Drift Away - Charles Wright

At work in the upper field,
                                                    hay tops little buddhas,
Calming the meadow and all its attendant tributaries,
Porcupine, Basin Creek and God's blue hand like a skillet lid
Pressing us down to infinity—
We thought it was up, but it turns out it's down, Jack, down.
Either way we're stuck in the middle,
                                                                      not a bad place to be.

Later, sun like a struck medallion
Over the west edge of things,
                                                       the distance between the woods and water
Immeasurable, tree shadow on water shadow.
I'm here and not here,
                                            above and under it all.
These thoughts begin where words end
Back in the timber, back in the sullen nowhere of everything.

I think I'll take a little time off
And fiddle the underbugs,
Sitting my absence,
                                      dusk growing larger and larger.
This is the story of our lives, a short story, a page or a page-and-a-half.
Eight days after the summer solstice,
Hard frost this morning,
                           my life just past my fingertips, drifting, drifting.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Summer Solstice

A poem for the summer solstice today. Wishing you lots of light and flung gold this summer!

Summer - WS Mervin

Be of this brightness dyed
Whose unrecking fever
Flings gold before it goes
Into voids finally
That have no measure.

Bird-sleep, moonset,
Island after island,
Be of their hush
On this tide that balance
A time, for a time.

Islands are not forever,
Nor this light again,
Tide-set, brief summer,
Be of their secret
That fears no other.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Night Stuff


Night Stuff - Carl Sandburg

Listen a while, the moon is a lovely woman, a lonely woman, lost in a silver dress, lost in a circus rider's silver dress.

Listen a while, the lake by night is a lonely woman, a lovely woman, circled with birches and pines mixing their green and white among stars shattered in spray clear nights.

I know the moon and the lake have twisted the roots under my heart the same as a lonely woman, a lovely woman, in a silver dress, in a circus rider's silver dress.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Pretty Words

Pretty Words -  Elinor Morton Wylie

Poets make pets of pretty, docile words:
I love smooth words, like gold-enamelled fish
Which circle slowly with a silken swish,
And tender ones, like downy-feathered birds:
Words shy and dappled, deep-eyed deer in herds,
Come to my hand, and playful if I wish,
Or purring softly at a silver dish,
Blue Persian kittens fed on cream and curds.

I love bright words, words up and singing early;
Words that are luminous in the dark, and sing;
Warm lazy words, white cattle under trees;
I love words opalescent, cool, and pearly,
Like midsummer moths, and honied words like bees,
Gilded and sticky, with a little sting.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Stationary Bicycle


Stationary Bicycle - Linda Pastan

You pedal furiously
into a future you're trying
hard to prolong
by this exercise,
though the landscape
that rolls by here is time
passing, with its lists
of things undone
or not done properly,
all this effort,
the fierce monotony
of this ride feels
much like life itself -
going nowhere
redeemed in part
by the imagination, its trance
of rivers and trees,
its shady roads unwinding
just beyond your closed eyes,
or even on the tv screen
you sometimes watch
as you ride, mile
after mile of drama
unfolding while you pump
and pump, proceeding
from here to here
at twenty theoretical
miles per hour, your legs
beginning to throb as if
the body communicates
in a code of pain, saying
never mind the future,
you're here
right now, alive.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Credences of Summer

"Now the mind lays by its trouble..."
Summer is here! 

from Credences of Summer - Wallace Stevens

Now in midsummer come and all fools slaughtered
And spring’s infuriations over and a long way
To the first autumnal inhalations, young broods
Are in the grass, the roses are heavy with a weight
Of fragrance and the mind lays by its trouble.

Now the mind lays by its trouble and considers.
The fidgets of remembrance come to this.
This is the last day of a certain year
Beyond which there is nothing left of time.
It comes to this and the imagination’s life.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Summer Morning


Summer Morning - Mary Oliver

I implore you,
it’s time to come back
from the dark,

it’s morning,
the hills are pink
and the roses
whatever they felt

in the valley of night
are opening now
their soft dresses,
their leaves

are shining.
Why are you laggard?
Sure you have seen this
a thousand times,

which isn’t half enough.
Let the world
have its way with you,
luminous as it is

with mystery
and pain-
graced as it is
with the ordinary.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

June Night

Dusk in June - Sara Teasdale 

Evening, and all the birds
In a chorus of shimmering sound
Are easing their hearts of joy
For miles around.

The air is blue and sweet,
The few first stars are white, -
Oh let me like the birds
Sing before night.

Friday, 10 June 2016

The History Teacher

Another example of Billy Collins' brilliance: 

The History Teacher - Billy Collins

Trying to protect his students' innocence
he told them the Ice Age was really just
the Chilly Age, a period of a million years
when everyone had to wear sweaters.

And the Stone Age became the Gravel Age,
named after the long driveways of the time.

The Spanish Inquisition was nothing more
than an outbreak of questions such as
"How far is it from here to Madrid?"
"What do you call the matador's hat?"

The War of the Roses took place in a garden,
and the Enola Gay dropped one tiny atom
on Japan.

The children would leave his classroom
for the playground to torment the weak
and the smart,
mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses,

while he gathered up his notes and walked home
past flower beds and white picket fences,
wondering if they would believe that soldiers
in the Boer War told long, rambling stories
designed to make the enemy nod off.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Lovely Laburnum

The Laburnum - Meera Uberoi

Just down the road from where I live
a lone laburnum grows.
It does not advertise itself,
unlike the cawing crows.

But like the cawing crows, you'd say,
there's nothing to this tree -
its height is unremarkable,
its leaves so ordinary.

But comes the summer, golden light
is trapped within the tree.
In May, the crystallized sunbeams
break out for all to see.

The thundery grey sky casts its gloom
on everything in sight,
But the little tree is quite untouched -
it burns with topaz light.

Flowers of sunshine cloak the tree
and dazzle every eye
and every puff of a wayward breeze
drops gold on passersby.

Even the beggar down the street
smiles when he sees this tree.
And for some moments he can feel
a joy that comes for free.

Monday, 6 June 2016

A Day in June


What is So Rare As A Day in June - James Russell Lowell
And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there's never a leaf nor a blade too mean
To be some happy creature's palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o'errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,
In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?

Now is the high-tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer,
Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God wills it;
No matter how barren the past may have been,
'Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green;
We sit in the warm shade and feel right well
How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;
We may shut our eyes but we cannot help knowing
That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear,
That dandelions are blossoming near,
That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For our couriers we should not lack;
We could guess it all by yon heifer's lowing,
And hark! How clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,
Tells all in his lusty crowing!

Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how;
Everything is happy now,
Everything is upward striving;
'Tis as easy now for the heart to be true
As for grass to be green or skies to be blue,
'Tis for the natural way of living:
Who knows whither the clouds have fled?
In the unscarred heaven they leave not wake,
And the eyes forget the tears they have shed,
The heart forgets its sorrow and ache;
The soul partakes the season's youth,
And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe
Lie deep 'neath a silence pure and smooth,
Like burnt-out craters healed with snow.

Sunday, 5 June 2016


from Four Quartets - T.S. Eliot

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope for hope
would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

Friday, 3 June 2016


Swirl - Carl Sandburg

A swirl in the air where your head was once, here.
You walked under this tree, spoke to a moon for me
I might almost stand here and believe you alive.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


Hello flowers, hello days outside, hello lovely blooming June!

Field Guide - Billy Collins

No one I ask knows the name of the flower
we pulled the car to the side of the road to pick
and that I point to dangling purple from my lapel.

I am passing through the needle of spring
in North Carolina, as ignorant of the flowers of the south
as the woman at the barbecue stand who laughs
and the man who gives me a look as he pumps the gas

and everyone else I ask on the way to the airport
to return to where this purple madness is not seen
blazing against the sober pines and rioting along the

On the plane, the stewardess is afraid she cannot answer
my question, now insistent with the fear that I will leave
the province of this flower without its sound in my ear.

Then, as if he were giving me the time of day, a passenger
looks up from his magazine and says wisteria.