Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Sorrow of True Love

I love how this poem equates true love with the sun; I always do that too.

The Sorrow of True Love - Edward Thomas 

The sorrow of true love is a great sorrow
And true love parting blackens a bright morrow:
Yet almost they equal joys, since their despair
Is but hope blinded by its tears, and clear
Above the storm the heavens wait to be seen.
But greater sorrow from less love has been
That can mistake lack of despair for hope
And knows not tempest and the perfect scope
Of summer, but a frozen drizzle perpetual
Of drops that from remorse and pity fall
And cannot ever shine in the sun or thaw,
Removed eternally from the sun’s law.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Parting/Party Ship

Party Ship - Kay Ryan
You are a
land I can’t
stand leaving
and can’t not.
My party ship
is pulling out.
We all have
hats. I try to
toot some notes
you’ll understand
but this was not
our instrument
or plan.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016


 'What do the fireflies say?'

Fireflies - Frank Ormsby

The lights come on and stay on under the trees.
Visibly a whole neighbourhood inhabits the dusk,
so punctual and in place it seems to deny
dark its dominion. Nothing will go astray,
the porchlamps promise. Sudden, as though a match
failed to ignite at the foot of the garden, the first squibs
trouble the eye. Impossible not to share
that sportive, abortive, clumsy, where-are-we-now
dalliance with night, such soothing restlessness.
What should we make of fireflies, their quick flare
of promise and disappointment, their throwaway style?
Our heads turn this way and that. We are loath to miss
such jauntiness in nature. Those fugitive selves,
winged and at random! Our flickery might-have-beens
come up from the woods to haunt us! Our yet-to-be
as tentative frolic! What do the fireflies say?
That loneliness made light of becomes at last
convivial singleness? That any antic spark
cruising the void might titillate creation?
And whether they spend themselves, or go to ground,
or drift with their lights out, they have left the gloom,
for as long as our eyes take to absorb such absence,
less than it seemed, as childless and deprived
as Chaos and Old Night. But ruffled too,
as though it unearthed some memory of light
from its long blackout, a hospitable core
fit home for fireflies, brushed by fireflies' wings.

Monday, 25 July 2016

High Flight

This poem was famously written by a pilot referring to the wonders of flight. But I also think it describes death; what it must be like when the soul finally flies free.

High Flight - John Gillespie Magee Jr

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of  - Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Summer Nights


Summer Nights - Louise Gluck

Orderly, and out of long habit, my heart continues to beat.
I hear it, nights when I wake, over the mild sound of the air conditioner.
As I used to hear it over the beloved’s heart, or
variety of hearts, owing to there having been several.
And as it beats, it continues to drum up ridiculous emotion.

So many passionate letters never sent!
So many urgent journeys conceived of on summer nights,
surprise visits to men who were nearly complete strangers.
The tickets never bought, the letters never stamped.
And pride spared. And the life, in a sense, never completely lived.
And the art always in some danger of growing repetitious.

Why not? Why not? Why should my poems not imitate my life?
Whose lesson is not the apotheosis but the pattern, whose meaning
is not in the gesture but in the inertia, the reverie.

Desire, loneliness, wind in the flowering almond—
surely these are the great, the inexhaustible subjects
to which my predecessors apprenticed themselves.
I hear them echo in my own heart, disguised as convention.

Balm of the summer night, balm of the ordinary,
imperial joy and sorrow of human existence,
the dreamed as well as the lived—
what could be dearer than this, given the closeness of death?

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Evening of the Mind

Evening of the Mind - Donald Justice
Now comes the evening of the mind.
Here are the fireflies twitching in the blood;
Here is the shadow moving down the page
Where you sit reading by the garden wall.
Now the dwarf peach trees, nailed to their trellises,
Shudder and droop. Your know their voices now,
Faintly the martyred peaches crying out
Your name, the name nobody knows but you.
It is the aura and the coming on.
It is the thing descending, circling, here.
And now it puts a claw out and you take it.
Thankfully in your lap you take it, so.

You said you would not go away again,
You did not want to go away—and yet,
It is as if you stood out on the dock
Watching a little boat drift out
Beyond the sawgrass shallows, the dead fish ...
And you were in it, skimming past old snags,
Beyond, beyond, under a brazen sky
As soundless as a gong before it’s struck—
Suspended how?—and now they strike it, now
The ether dream of five-years-old repeats, repeats,
And you must wake again to your own blood
And empty spaces in the throat.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Poem For My Love

I love the simplicity of this poem, the grandiose sentiment it contains.
Poem For My Love - June Jordan
How do we come to be here next to each other   
in the night
Where are the stars that show us to our love   
Outside the leaves flame usual in darkness   
and the rain
falls cool and blessed on the holy flesh   
the black men waiting on the corner for   
a womanly mirage
I am amazed by peace
It is this possibility of you
and breathing in the quiet air

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Moon Gold

 'I try to catch at many a tune
Like petals of light fallen from the moon...'


Old Tunes - Sara Teasdale 

As the waves of perfume, heliotrope, rose,
Float in the garden when no wind blows,
Come to us, go from us, whence no one knows;

So the old tunes float in my mind,
And go from me leaving no trace behind,
Like fragrance borne on the hush of the wind.

But in the instant the airs remain
I know the laughter and the pain
Of times that will not come again.

I try to catch at many a tune
Like petals of light fallen from the moon,
Broken and bright on a dark lagoon,

But they float away—for who can hold
Youth, or perfume or the moon’s gold?

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Silver Wind

Beautiful, every line. 

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 wind—
I shall look for you.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Ode to a Jelly Fish

Aren't jelly fish the weirdest things??

A Jelly Fish - Marianne Moore

Visible, invisible,
A fluctuating charm,
An amber-colored amethyst
Inhabits it; your arm
Approaches, and
It opens and
It closes;
You have meant
To catch it,
And it shrivels;
You abandon
Your intent—
It opens, and it
Closes and you
Reach for it—
The blue
Surrounding it
Grows cloudy, and
It floats away
From you.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Summer Serenade


Always a witty last liner with Ogden Nash, ha. 

Summer Serenade - Ogden Nash

When the thunder stalks the sky,
When tickle-footed walks the fly,
When shirt is wet and throat is dry,
Look, my darling, thats July.

Through the grassy lawn be leather,
And prickly temper tug the tether,
Shall we postpone our love for weather?
If we must melt, lets melt together!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Everything is Going to be Alright

'A riot of sunlight' - gosh I just love that phrase and this whole poem.

Everything is Going to be All Right - Derek Mahon

How should I not be glad to contemplate
the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?
There will be dying, there will be dying,
but there is no need to go into that.
The poems flow from the hand unbidden
and the hidden source is the watchful heart.
The sun rises in spite of everything
and the far cities are beautiful and bright.
I lie here in a riot of sunlight
watching the day break and the clouds flying.
Everything is going to be all right.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

At Least

 'Just wait, to see what's going to happen...'

I love Carver's casual and straightforward style here and the perfectly restrained gladness of just being alive it encapsulates.  

At Least - Raymond Carver
I want to get up early one more morning,
before sunrise. Before the birds, even.
I want to throw cold water on my face
and be at my work table
when the sky lightens and smoke
begins to rise from the chimneys
of the other houses.
I want to see the waves break
on this rocky beach, not just hear them
break as I did all night in my sleep.
I want to see again the ships
that pass through the Strait from every
seafaring country in the world—
old, dirty freighters just barely moving along,
and the swift new cargo vessels
painted every color under the sun
that cut the water as they pass.
I want to keep an eye out for them.
And for the little boat that plies
the water between the ships
and the pilot station near the lighthouse.
I want to see them take a man off the ship
and put another up on board.
I want to spend the day watching this happen
and reach my own conclusions.
I hate to seem greedy—I have so much
to be thankful for already.

But I want to get up early one more morning, at least.
And go to my place with some coffee and wait.
Just wait, to see what's going to happen.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Star Block


Star Block - Kay Ryan

There is no such thing
as star block.
We do not think of
locking out the light
of other galaxies.
It is light
so rinsed of impurities
(heat, for instance)
that it excites
no antibodies in us.
Yet people are
curiously soluble
in starlight.
Bathed in its
absence of insistence
their substance
loosens willingly,
their bright
designs dissolve.
Not proximity
but distance
burns us with love.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

A Green Crab's Shell

A Green Crab's Shell - Mark Doty

Not, exactly, green:
closer to bronze
preserved in kind brine,

something retrieved
from a Greco-Roman wreck,
patinated and oddly

muscular. We cannot
know what his fantastic
legs were like--

though evidence
suggests eight
complexly folded

scuttling works
of armament, crowned
by the foreclaws'

gesture of menace
and power. A gull's
gobbled the center,

leaving this chamber
--size of a demitasse--
open to reveal

a shocking, Giotto blue.
Though it smells
of seaweed and ruin,

this little traveling case
comes with such lavish lining!
Imagine breathing

surrounded by
the brilliant rinse
of summer's firmament.

What color is
the underside of skin?
Not so bad, to die,

if we could be opened
into this--
if the smallest chambers

of ourselves,
revealed some sky.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Rainy Day Memories

Home Thoughts - Carl Sandburg

The sea rocks have a green moss.
The pine rocks have red berries.
I have memories of you.

Speak to me of how you miss me.
Tell me the hours go long and slow.

Speak to me of the drag on your heart,
The iron drag of the long days.

I know hours empty as a beggar's tin cup on a rainy day, empty as a soldier's sleeve with an arm lost.

Speak to me ...

Sunday, 3 July 2016


Everything That Was Broken - Mary Oliver

Everything that was broken has
forgotten its brokenness. I live
now in a sky-house, through every
window the sun. Also your presence.
Our touching, our stories. Earthly
and holy both. How can this be, but
it is. Every day has something in
it whose name is forever.