Friday, April 30, 2010

soft shuffle of shifting seasons

by James Schuyler

The morning sky is clouding up
and what is that tree,
dressed up in white? The fruit
tree, French pear. Sulphur-
yellow bees stud the forsythia
canes leaning down into the transfer
across the park. And trees in
skimpy flower bud suggest
the uses of paint thinner, so
fine the net they cast upon
the wind. Cross-pollination
is the order of the fragrant day.
That was yesterday: today is May,
not April and the magnolias
open their goblets up and
an unseen precipitation
fills them. A gray day in May.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A smattering of love poems for today...

by Izumi Shikibu

in the world
is usual today.
This is
the first morning.


Come quickly—as soon as
these blossoms open,
they fall.
This world exists
as a sheen of dew on flowers.


Even though
these pine trees
keep their original color,
everything green
is different in spring.


Seeing you is the thread
that ties me to this life—
If that knot
were cut this moment,
I'd have no regret.


I watch over
the spring night—
but no amount of guarding
is enough to make it stay.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

another brief glimpse of sunlight

And suddenly it’s evening

by Salvatore Quasimodo (1901-1968)
translated by Gian Lombardo

Everyone’s always alone on the earth’s breast
pierced by a ray of sunlight:
and suddenly it’s evening

Ed è subito sera

Ognuno sta solo cuor della terra
traffito da un raggio di sole:
ed è subito sera

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

a short poem that says plenty

I have to tell you

by Dorothea Grossman

I have to tell you,
there are times when
the sun strikes me
like a gong,
and I remember everything,
even your ears.

Monday, April 26, 2010

some wordplay

Spine to Spin, Spoke to Speak
by Andrew Joron

The pilot alone knows
That the plot is missing its

Why isn't this "ominous science"
itself afraid, a frayed

Pray, protagonist —
Prey to this series of staggered instants.

Here the optic
Paints its hole, its self-consuming moment.
It is speech, dispelled, that
begs to begin to ache.

So that wind accelerates to wound, a dead sound
enlivened by the visitation of owls.

As pallid as parallel, the cry
Of the negative is not the negative
of the cry — an irreparable blessing —

A green world's
"sibilant shadows" where
The syllables of your name are growing younger.

As involuntary as involuted, "who"
returns its noun
to each tender branch
That noon breaks into no one.

Point of view
Hovers, a circular cloud, over evacuated

That heard its herd bellow below
the terraced cities, the milled millions

as sold as unsouled, ghost-cargos.

A symptom of the Maddening —
Woman undressed of her flesh.
Man's address
to Thou, & the flag of Thou.

How the fallen state
Meets the starry horizon, veil
against witness, hunger against void.

O, oldest
outermost Other —

Ageing mask
Of the transparent Earth. Unspeculated
Streaked with mirror & stricken words.

You are neither the torn, nor the thorn.

You are the many-petalled
melting point of repeating decimals. . .

Receiver, river
Has been burned into voice, a day-dark ribbon.

All signal is this

Sunday, April 25, 2010

just a few words together...

by Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

poetry meets jazz

Poem in the Manner of a Jazz Standard

by David Lehman

I've got five dollars and my love to keep me warm
I've got the world on a string and you under my skin
You're the cream in my coffee and driving me crazy
You couldn't be cuter and go to my head

Love is here to stay and just around the corner
Where or when I take my sugar to tea
All I do is dream of you, all of you,
You took advantage of all of me

Don't blame me or worry 'bout me
It had to be you and might as well be spring
Let's get away from it all, fall in love, face the music
And dance with me, let's do it

I got rhythm and the right to sing the blues
She didn't say yes she's funny that way
I believe in you were never lovelier
My melancholy baby my shining hour

Friday, April 23, 2010

How can I resist this poem?

Ode to Chocolate

by Barbara Crooker

I hate milk chocolate, don't want clouds
of cream diluting the dark night sky,
don't want pralines or raisins, rubble
in this smooth plateau. I like my coffee
black, my beer from Germany, wine
from Burgundy, the darker, the better.
I like my heroes complicated and brooding,
James Dean in oiled leather, leaning
on a motorcycle. You know the color.

Oh, chocolate! From the spice bazaars
of Africa, hulled in mills, beaten,
pressed in bars. The cold slab of a cave's
interior, when all the stars
have gone to sleep.

Chocolate strolls up to the microphone
and plays jazz at midnight, the low slow
notes of a bass clarinet. Chocolate saunters
down the runway, slouches in quaint
boutiques; its style is je ne sais quoi.
Chocolate stays up late and gambles,
likes roulette. Always bets
on the noir.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

check for spring at the door

"Kado kado no"
by Issa (1763-1827)

Kado kado no

Geta no doro yori

Haru tachinu.

At every doorway,

From the mud on wooden clogs,

Spring begins anew.

— Translated by Daniel C. Buchanan

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Time for a dose of Milton

Sonnet 18
by John Milton (1608-1674)

Avenge O Lord thy slaughter’d Saints, whose bones
Lie scatter’d on the Alpine mountains cold;
Ev’n them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our Fathers worship’t Stocks and Stones,
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy Sheep, and in their antient Fold
Slain by the bloody Piemontese, that roll’d
Mother with Infant down the Rocks. Their moans
The vales redoubl’d to the Hills, and they
To Heav’n. Their martyr’d blood and ashes sow
O’er all th’Italian fields, where still doth sway
The triple Tyrant; that from these may grow
A hundredfold, who, having learnt thy way,
Early may fly the Babylonian wo.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

the road

Saw this verse on my mom's blog & had to share it here.

by Antonio Machado

Walker, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more.
Walker, there is no road, the road is made by walking.
Walking you make the road, and turning to look behind
you see the path you never again will step upon.
Walker, there is no road, only foam trails on the sea.

Monday, April 19, 2010

put the needle on the record...

American Life in Poetry

78 RPM

by Jeff Daniel Marion

In the back of the junkhouse
stacked on a cardtable covered
by a ragged bedspread, they rest,
black platters whose music once
crackled, hissed with a static
like shuffling feet, fox trot or two-step,
the slow dance of the needle
riding its merry-go-round,
my mother’s head nestled
on my father’s shoulder as they
turned, lost in the sway of sounds,
summer nights and faraway
places, the syncopation of time
waltzing them to a world
they never dreamed, dance
of then to the dust of now.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

deep waters of your sleep

In Our Room

by W. S. Di Piero

On the strip between the lakes
I look for some trace of you
in everything that moves.
At the tip of its wake, a coot's
bone bill points through
the leaves' sponged-ink shade,
slate feathers splitting the air;
the water quivers, bright
as your bath-drenched hair
shaking off silvered bits.
A tern pulls up, tilting
through the spreading light,
then drops beak and body fast.
Two dark swifts dip past
swamp oaks like brown
twilight in our room, blinds
barring your face, while your lips
closed on some dream sound,
some word I didn't catch,
a wood-duck's straight-seamed wedge,
a cowbird shuddering from
the lake on loose bent wings.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"His Wife"

His Wife

by Andrew Hudgins

My wife is not afraid of dirt.
She spends each morning gardening,
stooped over, watering, pulling weeds,
removing insects from her plants
and pinching them until they burst.
She won't grow marigolds or hollyhocks,
just onions, eggplants, peppers, peas –
things we can eat. And while she sweats
I'm working on my poetry and flute.
Then growing tired of all that art,
I've strolled out to the garden plot
and seen her pull a tomato from the vine
and bite into the unwashed fruit
like a soft, hot apple in her hand.
The juice streams down her dirty chin
and tiny seeds stick to her lips.
Her eye is clear, her body full of light,
and when, at night, I hold her close,
she smells of mint and lemon balm.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Whitman on Compost

This Compost
by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)


Something startles me where I thought I was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip the clothes from my body to meet my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth as to other flesh to renew me.

O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health you blood of herbs, roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distemper’d corpses within you?
Is not every continent work’d over and over with sour dead?

Where have you disposed of their carcasses?
Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations?
Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?
I do not see any of it upon you to-day, or perhaps I am deceiv’d,
I will run a furrow with my plough, I will press my spade through the sod and turn it up underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.


Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form’d part of a sick person—yet behold!
The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noislessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatch’d eggs,
The new-born of animals appear, the calf is dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato’s dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk, the lilacs bloom in the door-yards,
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea which is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever,
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,
That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,
That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-orchard, that melons, grapes, peaches, plums, will
none of them poison me,
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any disease,
Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was once a catching disease.

Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseas’d corpses,
It distils such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Loving & loved

Today I'm delighted to share this poem by my friend and writer of so many lovely words, Laura Whalen. Visit her blog Mayan Hands Adventure 2009 for a further sampling of her writing & some, well, adventure! But for now, enjoy how she summons Neruda in this marvelous poem.

“…Give us
this day
orange daylight
and every day
may mankind’s heart,
And its cluster of fruit,
Be both bitter and sweet…”
-Pablo Neruda
trans. Ken Krabbenhoft

Making Juice

by Laura Whalen

Making juice before your birthday—
ruby grapefruit, Spanish clementines,
organic tangerines from California.
And me, armed with crystal pitcher and wooden reamer.
First, cutting the perfect globes until
they shine rays of pink, orange and gold
like little suns during this dark time of year.
Their bright fire blazing with citrus sweet.

Then, squeezing out the liquid from each half,
using the fine yet simple wooden tool,
better than any electrical gadget
to fill the glass container bit by bit
until there is a ruddy pitcher full.
Placing the rind in the compost bucket
Knowing I will brave the cold moments later
To empty it on the pile out back,
food for my flowers next spring.

May these round fruits refresh and feed you,
your South American sun-starved soul, with their
distilled love of light – their sweet-sourness
flooding the dark.

An elixir, a love potion, a cold winter cure—
simply a pitcher of fresh juice to greet you
tomorrow from the cold shelf of the fridge.
Their round fruit emptied of all flesh and blood.
They gave themselves for you entirely—

as I am only learning to do…
“Anaranjada sea
la luz
de cada
y el corazon del hombre
sus racimos,
acido y dulce sea…”
-Pablo Neruda

Fancy a stroll around New York City?

The Day Lady Died
by Frank O'Hara

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly new world writing to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the golden griffin I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the park lane
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a new york post with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 spot
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

oh wise one

American Life in Poetry

The Owl
Wendy Videlock

Beneath her nest,
a shrew's head,
a finch's beak
and the bones
of a quail attest

the owl devours
the hour,
and disregards
the rest.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Catching April (take 2)

For today's poem, I'd like to send you to the lovely poetry site Your Daily Poem, which today features verse by yours truly. Enjoy!

Monday, April 12, 2010


by Fred Chappell

The children race now here by the ivied fence,
gather squealing now there by the lily border.
The evening calms the quickened air, immense
and warm; its veil is pierced with fire. The order
of space discloses as pair by pair porch lights
carve shadows. Cool phosphors flare when dark
permits yearning to signal where, with spark
and pause and spark, the fireflies are, the sites
they spiral when they aspire, with carefree ardor
busy, to embrace a star that draws them thence.

Like children we stand and stare, watching the field
that twinkles where gold wisps fare to the end
of dusk, as the sudden sphere, ivory shield
aloft, of moon stands clear of the world's far ben

Sunday, April 11, 2010

growing poetry

Poems grow

by Marina Tsvetayeva

Poems grow in the same way as stars and roses,
Or beauty of no use to a family.
O all the wreaths and apotheoses
One answer: —from where has this come to me?

We sleep, and suddenly, moving through flagstones,
The celestial, four-petalled guest appears.
O world, grasp this! By the singer—in sleep—
are opened
The stars' law, and the formula of the flowers.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

marble shards

The Fragment of Statue

by Stan Rice

How is it
The marble
Looks whole.

Full of its power
The lips
And chin of
The feminine

Not that the whole
Would not have
Power but

How does the fragment
At all.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Can't sleep?

A Remedy for Insomnia

by Vera Pavlova

Not sheep coming down the hills,
not cracks on the ceiling—
count the ones you loved,
the former tenants of dreams
who would keep you awake,
once meant the world to you,
rocked you in their arms,
those who loved you . . .
You will fall asleep, by dawn, in tears.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

" my feet it was spring..."

The Poet Speaks to His Beloved on the Telephone
by Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)
translated by Francisco Aragón

Your voice watered the dune of my chest
in that sweet wooden booth.
South at my feet it was spring,
north near my face flowered a fern.

In that narrow space a radiant pine
sang, though with no seed nor dawn.
And my cry hung for the first time
a wreath of hope on the roof.

Sweet and faraway voice flowing for me.
Sweet and faraway voice tasted by me.
Faraway and sweet voice, muffled softly.

Faraway, like a dark wounded deer.
Sweet, like sobbing in the snow.
Faraway, sweet: lodged in the marrow!

El poeta habla por teléfono con el amor

Tu voz regó la duna de mi pecho
en la dulce cabina de madera.
Por el sur de mis pies fue primavera
y al norte de mi frente flor de helecho.

Pino de luz por el espacio estrecho
cantó sin alborada y sementera
y mi llanto prendió por vez primera
coronas de esperanza por el techo.

Dulce y lejana voz por mí vertida,
dulce y lejana voz por mí gustada,
lejana y dulce voz amortecida.

Lejana como oscuro corza herida,
dulce como un sollozo en la nevada,
¡lejana y dulce, en tuétano metida!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

On the Grasshopper and Cricket

On the Grasshopper and Cricket
by John Keats (1795-1821)

The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper's—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,—he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun,
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper's among some grassy hills.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Apple Trees at Olema

The Apple Trees at Olema

by Robert Hass

They are walking in the woods along the coast
and in a grassy meadow, wasting, they come upon
two old neglected apple trees. Moss thickened
every bough and the wood of the limbs looked rotten
but the trees were wild with blossom and a green fire
of small new leaves flickered even on the deadest branches.
Blue-eyes, poppies, a scattering of lupine
flecked the meadow, and an intricate, leopard-spotted
leaf-green flower whose name they didn't know.
Trout lily, he said; she said, adder's-tongue.
She is shaken by the raw, white, backlit flaring
of the apple blossoms. He is exultant,
as if some thing he felt were verified,
and looks to her to mirror his response.
If it is afternoon, a thing moon of my own dismay
fades like a scar in the sky to the east of them.
He could be knocking wildly at a closed door
in a dream. She thinks, meanwhile, that moss
resembles seaweed drying lightly on a dock.
Torn flesh, it was the repetitive torn flesh
of appetite in the cold white blossoms
that had startled her. Now they seem tender
and where she was repelled she takes the measure
of the trees and lets them in. But he no longer
has the apple trees. This is as sad or happy
as the tide, going out or coming in, at sunset.
The light catching in the spray that spumes up
on the reef is the color of the lesser finch
they notice now flashing dull gold in the light
above the field. They admire the bird together,
it draws them closer, and they start to walk again.
A small boy wanders corridors of a hotel that way.
Behind one door, a maid. Behind another one, a man
in striped pajamas shaving. He holds the number
of his room close to the center of his mind
gravely and delicately, as if it were the key,
and then he wanders among strangers all he wants.

Monday, April 5, 2010

the unexpected

Late February

by Ted Kooser

The first warm day,
and by mid-afternoon
the snow is no more
than a washing
strewn over the yards,
the bedding rolled in knots
and leaking water,
the white shirts lying
under the evergreens.
Through the heaviest drifts
rise autumn's fallen
bicycles, small carnivals
of paint and chrome,
the Octopus
and Tilt-A-Whirl
beginning to turn
in the sun. Now children,
stiffened by winter
and dressed, somehow,
like old men, mutter
and bend to the work
of building dams.

But such a spring is brief;
by five o'clock
the chill of sundown,
darkness, the blue TVs
flashing like storms
in the picture windows,
the yards gone gray,
the wet dogs barking
at nothing. Far off
across the cornfields
staked for streets and sewers,
the body of a farmer
missing since fall
will show up
in his garden tomorrow,
as unexpected
as a tulip

Sunday, April 4, 2010

think of the unsleeping grass

by Mary Oliver

The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.

Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.

The cricket has such splendid fringge on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows it never sleeps.

Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did, maybe
the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn't move,
the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
blue pavement,
lay still and waited, wild awake.

Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Short, but powerful lines

"Having Reddened the Plum Blossoms"
by Yosa Buson (1716-1783)
translated by Robert Hass

Having reddened the plum blossoms
the sunset attacks
oaks and pines.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Watch where you tread

The Saints of April

by Todd Davis

Coltsfoot gives way to dandelion,
plum to apple blossom. Cherry fills
our woods, white petals melting
like the last late snow. Dogwood's
stigmata shine with the blood
of this season. How holy
forsythia and redbud are
as they consume their own
flowers, green leaves running
down their crowns. Here is
the shapeliness of bodies
newly formed, the rich cloth
that covers frail bones and hides
roots that hold fervently
to this dark earth.

--For Jack Ridl

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spoken Word Open Mic on April 9th

If you're in the area, why not come on by & check out the Boght Arts Center? Starting at 6 pm is an opening reception for the newest exhibit, The Good Earth: Flora & Fauna, and at 8 pm hear poetry & prose by local writers Therese L. Broderick, Laura Whalen, & Heather Moore Niver, followed by an open mic for writers & musicians. The fair-trade coffee is always excellent, too. So some out & enjoy some poetry, prose & music, and join in if you feel inclined.

wave wary


by HMMooreNiver

One more kiss

and you splash away

into the ocean.

My curls loosen

in the wind, tangling

into briny ropes of seaweed,

and I am unsure

of the source of salt

on my cheeks.

This is how we pass the afternoon.

I watch,

shiver in the spray,

a flightless bird

bound to this rock,

as you disappear

into the next brackish swell,

and then another,

to the strange frothy rhythm

of wave over stone.