Thursday, April 30, 2009

pest or miracle?

I just noticed, after posting this, that I started National Poetry Month poems with John Updike. How fitting to close with another. Hope you enjoyed these daily poems.

by John Updike

With what stoic delicacy does
Virginia creeper let go:
the feeblest tug brings down
a sheaf of leaves kite-high,
as if to say, To live is good
but not to live—to be pulled down
with scarce a ripping sound,
still flourishing, still
stretching toward the sun—
is good also, all photosynthesis
, quite quits. Next spring
the hairy rootlets left unpulled
snake out a leafy afterlife
up that same smooth-barked oak.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's always a good day for a snow poem.

The Snow Man
by Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there, and the nothing that is.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


A friend of mine celebrates Tunesday, listing what's he's listening to on a website. Just trying out this playlist are some songs for a hot Tunesday. Quite the smattering (and some songs not for the faint of heart).

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

shake the grass

And the Days Are Not Full Enough
by Ezra Pound

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass.

another story

On Our Eleventh Anniversary
by Susan Browne

You’re telling that story again about your childhood,
when you were five years old and rode your blue bicycle

from Copenhagen to Espergaerde, and it was night
and snowing by the time you arrived,

and your grandparents were so relieved to see you,
because all day no one knew where you were,

you had vanished. We sit at our patio table under a faded green
umbrella, drinking wine in California’s blue autumn,

red stars of roses along the fence, trellising over the roof
of our ramshackle garage. Too soon the wine glasses will be empty,

our stories told, the house covered with pine needles the wind
has shaken from the trees. Other people will live here.

We will vanish like children who traveled far in the dark,
stars of snow in their hair, riding to enchanted Espergaerde.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Best use of "zither" in a poem

Only up for an hour or so & I've read or heard three Neruda poems already. Here comes four....

The Separate Rose: I
by Pablo Neruda
Translated by William O'Daly

Today is that day, the day that carried
a desperate light that since has died.
Don’t let the squatters know:
let’s keep it all between us,
day, between your bell
and my secret.

Today is dead winter in the forgotten land
that comes to visit me, with a cross on the map
and a volcano in the snow, to return to me,
to return again the water
fallen on the roof of my childhood.
Today when the sun began with its shafts
to tell the story, so clear, so old,
the slanting rain fell like a sword,
the rain my hard heart welcomes.

You, my love, still asleep in August,
my queen, my woman, my vastness, my geography
kiss of mud, the carbon-coated zither,
you, vestment of my persistent song,
today you are reborn again and with the sky’s
black water confuse me and compel me:
I must renew my bones in your kingdom,
I must still uncloud my earthly duties.

Does it explode?

by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"My toes are dictionaries. Need any words?"

Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorite poets & this reading is well worth a minute of your time:

One Boy Told Me <--- click!


Friday, April 24, 2009

...was the art, was the love

Autopsy in the Form of an Elegy

by John Stone

In the chest
in the heart
was the vessel

was the pulse
was the art
was the love

was the clot
small and slow
and the scar
that could not know

the rest of you
was very nearly perfect.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

walk slowly, and bow often

When I Am Among the Trees

by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness,

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness, and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.”

paper & cloud

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud there will be no water; without water, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper. So the cloud is in here. The existence of this page is dependent upon the existence of a cloud. Paper and cloud are so close.

by Thich Nhat Hahn

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sorry, what was that?

by Bill Holm

Earbud—a tiny marble sheathed in foam
to wear like an interior earring so you
can enjoy private noises wherever you go,
protected from any sudden silence.
Only check your batteries, then copy
a thousand secret songs and stories
on the tiny pod you carry in your pocket.
You are safe now from other noises made
by other people, other machines, by chance,
noises you have not chosen as your own.
To get your attention, I touch your arm
to show you the tornado or the polar bear.
Sometimes I catch you humming or talking to the air
as if to a shrunken lover waiting in your ear.

Monday, April 20, 2009

the scarlet tide

in memory of my late uncle tj...

Remembering TJ After the Funeral

We are as confused as the season.

The calendar insists on January,

depicts sparkling, icy-blue scenes.

But snow sags into pitted grey lumps,

runoff pooling into slick driveway bogs

and freezing into deep ruts

while we toss and turn through long starless nights.

Only the wind yields some sympathy,

whirling mercifully into unexpected empty spaces

that should still be warm from your busy body.

It curls around our numb shoulders

and reminds us that this is how things go.


February 2006

Lou's chicks update

Lou's chicks are getting featherier by the day! Took these on April 15th.

A poem for those who love a good storm

by Brooks Haxton

Cattle egrets in the dry grass waded
like white clerics at the hooves
of brood cows, heifers, and new calves.

Forked lightning. Calm.
The darkness in the cattle tank welled up
and flooded the reflection of the trees.

Turkey vultures wheeled, and wheeled away.
No swifts, no swallows, children gone indoors.
Rain seethed into the willowtops,

sky flashing, while the black bull
under the water locust glowed
with an inward surge of darkness.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

power of blue


by Diane Lockward

Deep-blue hue of the body, silvery bloom
on its skin. Undersized runt of a fruit,
like something that failed to thrive, dented top
a fontanel. Lopsided globe. A temperate zone.
Tiny paradox, tart and sweet, homely
but elegant afloat in sugar and cream,
baked in a pie, a cobbler, a muffin.

The power of blue. Number one antioxidant fruit,
bantam-weight champ in the fight against
urinary tract infections, best supporting actor
in a fruit salad. No peeling, coring or cutting.
Lay them out on a counter, strands of blue pearls.
Pop one at a time, like M&M's, into your mouth.
Be a glutton and stuff in a handful, your tongue,
lips, chin dyed blue, as if feasting on indigo.
Fruit of the state of New Jersey.
Favorite fruit of my mother.

Sundays she scooped them into pancake batter,
poured circles onto the hot greased griddle, sizzled
them gold and blue, doused with maple syrup.

This is what I want to remember: my mother
and me, our quilted robes, hair in curlers,
that kitchen, that table,
plates stacked with pancakes, blueberries sparkling
like gemstones, blue stars in a gold sky,
the universe in reverse,
the two of us eating blueberry pancakes.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

small pleasures in laundry

Catching April

I hang out linens

on a bright raw morning.

The sun sneers,

unwilling to warm up to me

or the season,

so I retreat with moist numb thumbs.

All day I hear the sharp snap of sheets

whipping in the cold spring wind

that tries to rip them from the line.

Dark stick silhouettes

claw along tangled cotton,

but orange cases roundly pillow

with the season’s spite and glow

in a row of summer moons.

In the afternoon I bring them inside,

dry and warm,

and fold up the sweet clear air

caught within their threads.

by HMMooreNiver

Friday, April 17, 2009

There should be more such odes . . .

Ode to Pepper Vinegar
by Kevin Young

You sat in the tomb

of our family fridge
for years, without

fail. You were all

I wanted covering
my greens, satisfaction

I’ve since sought

for years in restaurants
which claimed soul, but neither

knew you nor

your vinegar prayer.
Baby brother

of bitterness, soothsayer,

you taught
me the difference between loss

& holding on. Next to the neon

of the maraschino cherries,
you floated & stayed

constant as a flame

on an unknown soldier’s grave—
I never did know

how you got here

you just were. Adrift
in your mason jar

you were a briny bit of where

we came from, rusty lid
awaiting our touch

& tongue—you were faith

in the everyday, not rare
as the sugarcane

my grandparents sent north

come Christmas, drained
sweet & dry, delicious, gone

by New Year's—

no, you were nearer,
familiar, the thump

thump of an upright bass

or the brass
of a funeral band

bringing us home.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

fall into those flowers

The Widow's Lament in Springtime
by William Carlos Williams (

Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
Thirtyfive years
I lived with my husband.
The plumtree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.
Filling Station
by Elizabeth Bishop

Oh, but it is dirty!
--this little filling station,
oil-soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.
Be careful with that match!

Father wears a dirty,
oil-soaked monkey suit
that cuts him under the arms,
and several quick and saucy
and greasy sons assist him
(it's a family filling station),
all quite thoroughly dirty.

Do they live in the station?
It has a cement porch
behind the pumps, and on it
a set of crushed and grease-
impregnated wickerwork;
on the wicker sofa
a dirty dog, quite comfy.

Some comic books provide
the only note of color--
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.

Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)

Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:

to high-strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

bad language

The Naughty Preposition
Morris Bishop

I lately lost a preposition:
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair.
And angrily I cried: "Perdition!
Up from out of in under there!''

Correctness is my vade mecum,
And straggling phrases I abhor;
And yet I wondered: "What should he come
Up from out of in under for?''

Monday, April 13, 2009

can poetry save the world?

Heard this on NPR this morning . . .

The Well Rising

by William E. Stafford

The well rising without sound,
the spring on a hillside,
the plowshare brimming through deep ground
everywhere in the field—

The sharp swallows in their swerve
flaring and hesitating
hunting for the final curve
coming closer and closer—

The swallow heart from wingbeat to wingbeat
counseling decisions, decision:
thunderous examples. I place my feet
with care in such a world.

spring beauties

Spring Song II
by Jean Garrigue (1914-1972)

And now my spring beauties,
Things of the earth,
Beetles, shards and wings of moth
And snail houses left
From last summer's wreck,
Now spring smoke
Of the burned dead leaves
And veils of the scent
Of some secret plant,

Come, my beauties, teach me,
Let me have your wild surprise,
Yes, and tell me on my knees
Of your new life.

Friday, April 10, 2009

second thoughts....

by Anonymous

I never meant
For you to go. The thing you heard
I never meant
for you to hear. The night you went
away I knew our whole absurd
sweet world had fallen with a word
I never meant.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

needles of rain

Two Sewing
by Hazel Hall (1886-1924)

The wind is sewing with needles of rain.
With shining needles of rain
It stitches into the thin
Cloth of earth. In,
In, in, in.
Oh, the wind has often sewed with me.
One, two, three.

Spring must have fine things
To wear like other springs.
Of silken green the grass must be
Embroidered. One and two and three.
Then every crocus must be made
So subtly as to seem afraid
Of lifting colour from the ground;
And after crocuses the round
Heads of tulips, and all the fair
Intricate garb that Spring will wear.
The wind must sew with needles of rain,
With shining needles of rain,
Stitching into the thin
Cloth of earth, in,
In, in, in,
For all the springs of futurity.
One, two, three.

Turning Quietly Into Night

Artist Carolyn Hutchings Edlund & I collaborated again for a National Poetry Month exhibit, "PAINTING = POETRY - ut pictura poesis": Realism in Paintings and Sculptures

Carolyn Hutchings Edlund

Turning Quietly Into Night

2009 Oil on canvas

Here You Are

All day you waited, trudged

along city blocks

past the hard shoulders of strangers,

thinking only of this bend in the path.

Your feet disappear beneath amber ripples

as you sink to the grass. Whorls

of mud silt over your toes and up

to the surface. Sun lingers along the clouds,

sly, keeping your secrets.

The oak must have thickened its bark here

for a hundred years,

season after season

against the weather,

against the deer,

against crimson vines

coiling around its base

and cloaking the trunk.

But it still spreads

its branches

wide and airy

into the sky.

The creek tucks into the meadow,

then ripples and twists into the grove.

This is where you stretch your reach.

Breathe deep.

Let go.

Here, you are.

Heather M. Moore Niver

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

sifted from the sieve of space

From the Plane
by Anne Marie Macari

It is a soft thing, it has been sifted
from the sieve of space and seems
asleep there under the moths of light.

Cluster of dust and fire, from up here
you are a stranger and I am dropping
through the funnel of air to meet you.

lou's cute chicks!

Yesterday my friend Lou invited me over to meet her newly arrived barred (plymouth) rock chicks.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


by Jill Bialosky

She brought a little of the country into the city
in the pots of impatiens she had planted.
The petals white, pure, the opposite of color.
She had transferred the impatiens from the garden,
digging her hands into soil two parts fibrous loam,
one part leaf mold and peat moss and pushing
the roots into the earth. Despite the quality
of the soil—its rich decomposition of life—
still they would not last. The plants were hardy
and tender, with thick stems and dark green leaves,
the seedpods inside waiting to release, the air
awash in pollen. She looked into the flower
as into a pair of beckoning eyes offering
sustenance independent of a body, free floating
and regenerative and wholly belonging
to what was impossible ever to touch.

Monday, April 6, 2009

star magnolia update

The star magnolia is getting blossoms that even I can reach to photograph...

I smile and bow, and the world is loud.

Ludwig Van Beethoven's Return to Vienna
by Rita Dove

Oh you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn,
or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me....

The Heiligenstadt Testament

Three miles from my adopted city
lies a village where I came to peace.
The world there was a calm place,
even the great Danube no more
than a pale ribbon tossed onto the landscape
by a girl's careless hand. Into this stillness

I had been ordered to recover.
The hills were gold with late summer;
my rooms were two, plus a small kitchen,
situated upstairs in the back of a cottage
at the end of the Herrengasse.
From my window I could see onto the courtyard
where a linden tree twined skyward —
leafy umbilicus canted toward light,
warped in the very act of yearning —
and I would feed on the sun as if that alone
would dismantle the silence around me.

At first I raged. Then music raged in me,
rising so swiftly I could not write quickly enough
to ease the roiling. I would stop
to light a lamp, and whatever I'd missed —
larks flying to nest, church bells, the shepherd's
home-toward-evening song — rushed in, and I
would rage again.

I am by nature a conflagration;
I would rather leap
than sit and be looked at.
So when my proud city spread
her gypsy skirts, I reentered,
burning towards her greater, constant light.

Call me rough, ill-tempered, slovenly— I tell you,
every tenderness I have ever known
has been nothing
but thwarted violence, an ache
so permanent and deep, the lightest touch
awakens it. . . . It is impossible

to care enough. I have returned
with a second Symphony
and 15 Piano Variations
which I've named Prometheus,
after the rogue Titan, the half-a-god
who knew the worst sin is to take
what cannot be given back.

I smile and bow, and the world is loud.
And though I dare not lean in to shout
Can't you see that I'm deaf?
I also cannot stop listening.

rush my poem

A Summer Outing
by Du Fu


How nice to board the barge
as the sun meets the horizon

the breeze picks up
the water ripples

we sail past groves
of thick bamboo

and anchor in the cool
of water lilies

the young men mix
some icy drinks

the girls are slicing
lotus roots

but the clouds right overhead
grow black

rain makes me rush
my poem.


The shower wets the benches
we were sitting on

the wind blows hard
and rocks the boat

the southern girls'
red skirts drenched

the northern beauties
seem to have ruined their makeup

the mooring line
saws and cuts the willow

the barge's curtains are soaked
from breaking waves

our going home
will be wet and chilly

as if we were having autumn
right in the heart of summer.

small waters seeping upward

Not the Roethke poem I was looking for but still a good one.

Cuttings (Later)
by Theodore Roethke

This urge, wrestle, resurrection of dry sticks,
Cut stems struggling to put down feet,
What saint strained so much,
Rose on such lopped limbs to a new life?
I can hear, underground, that sucking and sobbing,
In my veins, in my bones I feel it --
The small waters seeping upward,
The tight grains parting at last.
When sprouts break out,
Slippery as fish,
I quail, lean to beginnings, sheath-wet.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Waiting On Elvis, 1956

Waiting On Elvis, 1956
by Joyce Carol Oates

This place up in Charlotte called Chuck's where I
used to waitress and who came in one night
but Elvis and some of his friends before his concert
at the Arena, I was twenty-six married but still
waiting tables and we got to joking around like you
do, and he was fingering the lace edge of my slip
where it showed below my hemline and I hadn't even
seen it and I slapped at him a little saying, You
sure are the one aren't you feeling my face burn but
he was the kind of boy even meanness turned sweet in
his mouth.

Smiled at me and said, Yeah honey I guess I sure am.

Friday, April 3, 2009

April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redress of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The Sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.

Life in itself
Is nothing
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs,
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

spring is making an appearance

Took some time yesterday to make the rounds at the Old Dingman Place to see what buds and blooms were showing up! Even the Star Magnolia is about to bloom.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

blackbird singing

To One Dead
by Francis Ledwidge (1887-1917)

A blackbird singing
On a moss-upholstered stone,
Bluebells swinging,
Shadows wildly blown,
A ship on the sea.
The song was for you
And the ship was for me.

A blackbird singing
I hear in my troubled mind,
Bluebells swinging
I see in a distant wind.
But sorrow and silence
Are the wood’s threnody,
The silence for you
And the sorrow for me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

For what is moon, that it haunts us?

Half Moon, Small Cloud

by John Updike

Caught out in daylight, a rabbit’s

transparent pallor, the moon

is paired with a cloud of equal weight:

the heavenly congruence startles.

For what is the moon, that it haunts us,

this impudent companion immigrated

from the system’s less fortunate margins,

the realm of dust collected in orbs?

We grow up as children with it, a nursemaid

of a bonneted sort, round-faced and kind,

not burning too close like parents, or too far

to spare even a glance, like movie stars.

No star but in the zodiac of stars,

a stranger there, too big, it begs for love

(the man in it) and yet is diaphanous,

its thereness as mysterious as ours.